The Penfriend: The History

By Wendy Richards <wendy@lcfanfic.com>

Rated: PG

Submitted: October 2002

Summary: In this companion story to the author's earlier "The Penfriend," we get to see some of Tornado and Scribe's early correspondence with each other.

This short story is a follow-up of sorts to my earlier story, The Penfriend, which is on the Fanfic Archive. If you haven't read The Penfriend, this won't make a lot of sense. ;) It was inspired largely by conversations with Kaethel about the book which influenced the original story: Racing the Moon, by Terry Prone. Thanks, therefore, both to Kaethel and Ms Prone. :)

The story is dedicated to all my friends on the Lois and Clark Fanfic Email List, Tireless Defenders of Fanfic, all.

All rights in the characters in this story belong to DC Comics and Warner Brothers.

~ The Penfriend: The History ~

Selected extracts from Tornado and Scribe's early correspondence.

***

September 28, 1984

"Dear Scribe,

"That's it! I've had enough! I am *not* living with that man who calls himself my father any more! He thinks he can run my life just because I had the misfortune to have him as a biological parent. Hah! There are times when I wish it was my mother who'd had affairs, not him!

"Okay, okay, I know what you're going to tell me. That he's the only father I've got and that I should appreciate him, even if I don't always feel that I can love him. Yeah, yeah. That's easy for you to say, Mr Perfect-Family and Perfect-Upbringing! What would you have done if your parents had said that they'd only pay your college fees if you took the courses they wanted you to take? If you had to take over your father's business, whatever that is? But your parents didn't do that, did they? They let you do what you wanted.

"Not *my* father. If I don't take the major he wants, the major he did at college himself, he says he'll withhold my college fund. I'd be wasting the expensive education he's paid for me so far. I'd be wasting my life, he says! Just because I don't want to be a xxxx — no. Even though I'm *furious*, I'm not going to break my rules. And there's no way you could possibly read what I was starting to write under all that crossing-out, so don't even try!

"Anyway, I'm moving out. I'll be 18 next month anyway, so I don't need a parent any more. I'm going back to live with my mother for the rest of this year, and then when I go to college I *will* get my own place. You see, his blackmail won't work. It's not *going* to work — I won't let it. I'm going to get a job. I'll work weekends and after school, and I'll try to work full-time next summer. And then I'll get loans. I *will* get to college and I'll study what *I* want to study!

"Yours in fury,

"Tornado."

The reply came a little over a week later.

"October 7 1984

"Hey, Tornado!

"I could feel the heat burning off the pages of your last letter! Whoo!

"Seriously, what I noticed most was how hurt you are. And you always try to mask your pain with anger, don't you? Does it help any, or do you still end up crying late at night when you're alone in bed? I hate to think of you in so much pain.

"I do sympathise, you know. And yeah, I know how lucky I am to have parents as great as mine — though don't imagine that we're that perfect. I've had my problems here and there, but I admit they were never as bad as yours. Personally, I think your dad's an idiot. Anyone who doesn't appreciate what a wonderful daughter he's got almost deserves to lose her. The ironic thing is, I could imagine that if he'd never interfered, never tried to tell you what you should do, you might even have followed in his footsteps of your own accord. But I know my stubborn Tornado by now — wild horses wouldn't make you do that now!

"And I really admire your determination to put yourself through college. I have no doubt that you'll do it — when have you ever failed at anything when you've put your mind to it? Just don't work so many hours that you let your grades slip. You know that grades matter when it comes to getting into the course of your choice. And if I can help with anything, you know I will. Money'll be tight when you get to college, even with loans — unless you get a full scholarship, I guess, which wouldn't surprise me! I'll have had a full year of college by next year, so I might be able to give you some tips on saving cash.

"I guess you've followed through on your resolve to move back to your mom's. I really hope things are going better there now. And remember, you can always sound off to me whenever you need someone to listen. I'll always be here, and you know I'll never yell back at you!

"Now, let's change the subject. How are you getting along with senior math? I know you were having problems with differential calculus last year. Is it any easier now?"

The letter continued on into more mundane and normal topics for their correspondence, and Lois brushed away a tiny tear as she paused before reading on. How well he knew her! Even though they'd only been writing to each other for a little over two years, she knew that Scribe understood her far better than anyone else — her family, or even her closest friends. Though what was she talking about? Scribe *was* her closest friend!

***

"October 5, 1985

"Scribe!!!

"College is so *cool*!! Why didn't you tell me it was so great?

"I've been here a week now, and it's fantastic. I've signed up for as many classes as I can — they all look so interesting, I can't wait to take them! And no more math, or science… only what I *want* to learn! And the profs treat you like adults, not kids — for the first time in my life, I feel at home. *Really* at home.

"I've got roomies, of course, but they seem okay, even though one of them is really obsessed over this stupid pop group. I ask you — Flock of Seagulls?! Talk about one-hit wonders well past their sell-by date. The other one's a big Madonna fan, which gets pretty irritating when she keeps playing Like A Virgin night after night and singing along. I can't really see the appeal, myself. I bet you anything you like that in two years' time no-one will remember who Madonna even was.

"Anyway, obsessed roomies aside, college is really fantastic. They've also got a great — uh, club, I guess I'll call it, for something I'm passionate about. I'm not going to tell you what it is because it's what I want to do when I graduate, and I'm still sticking by the rules. Now I guess you're going to call me obsessed!

"Your favourite college freshman (I hope!)

"Tornado."

***

"June 11 1987

"Dear Tornado,

"Well, that's it — I am officially a graduate! Well, maybe not *officially* just yet since I have to wait for results and all that and the graduation ceremony, but I have a pretty good idea what my GPA is and — well, let's put it this way, we know I didn't flunk. You can congratulate me any time you want!

"Anyway, you may not hear from me for a while, because I'm heading out! I'm going to take a couple of years out, maybe more, and work my way around the world. There are so many places I want to go, Tornado! And not just the usual stuff — you know, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong. I want to go places the tourists never get to — like Brazilian rainforest country, the Australian outback, remote villages in India and Nigeria. Heck, I even want to get to Timbuktu, if I can find it! And as for Nepal… Yeti, here I come!

"I can't do without your letters, though, Tornado. So I'm making arrangements for my folks to pick up mail from my post office box and they'll send it on to me wherever I am, and I'll still write to you, even if it's not as frequently as before. You'd better get hold of a big noticeboard for your dormroom — in a few months' time you're going to have postcards from all over the world on it!

"Don't forget me,

"Your friend, always,

"Scribe."

Lois bit her lip as she re-read the letter. That was it, she'd assumed when she'd first read it; Scribe was off to start his new life, and she wouldn't hear from him again. Or maybe she would, but the letters and cards would start to come more slowly, until at best she'd get a card at Christmas. Scribe was moving on, leaving his past life, his growing-up years, behind him. And that included her.

Oh, his letter had said that he'd continue to write, that he valued her correspondence, that he would always be her friend, but Lois's experience had taught her never to take those kind of assurances at face value. She was losing Scribe; that was the only conclusion she'd been able to draw from his letter.

It took her several days to pluck up the courage to reply without anger or hurt.

"June 14, 1987

"Dear Scribe,

"I'm so happy for you. You sound like you're really looking forward to it all, and I can't help envying you. I've always wanted to travel — to be free to go wherever I want, with no barriers or limits or people telling me what I can and can't do. To spend the next few years travelling from country to country, discovering the big wide world out there, sounds fantastic.

"But I have to stay here and finish my final year of college, and then get a job — well, I think the job might already be in place, but that depends on this year and my grades, I guess. I'll be thinking of you, imagining you walking on Bondi Beach or boating on the Thames in England, or climbing in the Alps, or somewhere in the middle of the Amazon jungle. How will you talk to these remote African or Indian tribes? I guess you'll cope — things always seem to work out for you.

"I'll be honest, Scribe. I'm not sure how much I believe you when you say you won't stop writing to me. I mean, this is a huge change for you. Your life is going to be completely different, and I could understand if you felt it was time to break off old ties. I just… well, if that's the way you feel, then say goodbye, okay? Don't leave me wondering whether it's just that your letter's got stuck in the appalling mail system in some out-of-the-way place like Peru. Tell me, okay? I'll miss you… but I'd prefer you to be honest with me.

"Take care of yourself.

"Tornado."

Scribe's reply came barely three days later, clearly written in a hurry.

"June 16 1987

"Tornado! What the heck are you talking about?

"What gives you the idea that I want to stop writing to you? Did I say that? Have I ever given you that impression? Please, Tornado, don't read things into my letters that aren't there. You *know* me. You know that if I want to say something to you, I say it — maybe not always straight out, but I don't play games with people, and least of all you.

"You're my best friend, Tornado. You're right — I'm starting off on something which will be a major life- changing journey. I can't see that I'll come back the same person I am now. But that doesn't mean that I want to cut off everything from my life as it was. I'm going to need you now more than ever. This is going to be exciting, but I think I'm also going to be lonely sometimes. I'll need your letters to remind me that somewhere in the world I have a friend who cares about me and who wants me to come back safely. Even though we've never met, Tornado — and I wish we'd had the opportunity to meet each other before I leave the US, but I respect your wishes there — even though we've never met, I feel closer to you than to any other friend I've ever had. You think I want to lose that?

"Heck, if you only knew how worried I've been ever since you started college, thinking that now you're grown up and living on your own and having more fun than you ever had before you wouldn't need your penfriend any more!

"Tornado, don't doubt me. I think, if or when this correspondence does die a natural death, it'll be you who ends it, not me.

"I have to go now. But you owe me a real letter, you hear?

"Your affectionate friend,

"Scribe."

He'd meant that, Lois finally believed several months later, when letters continued to arrive detailing his adventures in other parts of the globe. Postcards, too, as he'd promised; by early spring of the following year, she had more than half a dozen in pride of place on her noticeboard. And a later letter had showed that Scribe not only understood her even better than she'd imagined, but had given her some insights into her own character:

"August 1 1987

"Hey Tornado!

"Well, here I am in France — my hotel in Paris isn't exactly in the best quarter, but then it's cheap, so what more do I want? The city is beautiful, especially at night…"

Further down the letter, he'd changed tone.

"I've hesitated to bring this up again, but it still bothers me that you thought I wanted to end our friendship, Tornado. And I know I've never given you any reason to think that's what I might want… so I've come to the conclusion that you don't trust people very easily. Am I right?

"Trust's a funny thing, you know. You give it, and you hope the other person's trusting you in return — and then suddenly you discover that your trust has been abused. People can respond to that in different ways. You can either get cynical and decide that you're not going to trust anyone else, ever — or you can put it down to experience and tell yourself that just because one person let you down, that doesn't mean that everyone else will. Tornado, I wouldn't say this to you if I didn't care a lot about you. I'd hate to see you get so cynical that you never trust anyone.

"If I'm speaking out of turn, then I apologise. But remember that you're my dearest friend and I want you to be happy.

"Always your friend,

"Scribe."

How right he'd been! And, more than anything else, that letter had reaffirmed for Lois that any fantasies she'd had of meeting Scribe in person one of these days would be a very bad idea. He knew far too much about her — knew her far too intimately — for that to be remotely comfortable. She needed to keep him at the safe distance of their regular, and semi-anonymous, correspondence.

***

"April 3, 1988

"Scribe… Are all men bastards, or do I just happen to meet the ones who are?

"Okay, okay, you want context, and I'd prefer more than anything else in the world not to have to give it to you — but if I'm going to get your advice, I have to tell you what happened. See, there's this guy. I think I might have mentioned him. I've been trying all *year* to get his attention, and just last week it looked like I'd succeeded *at last*! He asked me out, and then we went back to his dorm-room… well, I won't go into details, but let's just say we didn't drink coffee all night.

"And… I thought I was in love, Scribe! I really thought this was it, that we'd be going steady. Okay, I hadn't enjoyed the sex stuff all that much, but it was my first time and I figured that it'd get better. That's what everyone says, anyway. So I was making plans to go to the summer dance with him. And then I went over to his room last night and he was there with my best friend. My *female* best friend… and they were in bed together. And they laughed at me when I found them!

"Do I have this sticker on my forehead marked 'sucker'? I mean, they both betrayed me! I guess I was even angrier at L— my ex-friend than I am at him — I mean, she knew how I felt about him, and she knew that we'd been out on a date last week. And she still went after him!

"But the worst of it is that I found out this morning that he's been telling all his friends about me going to bed with him. And it sounds like he's been saying that I was a terrible lay. I can't even stand the thought of going outside… but I'm not going to let them see how much it hurts me. They're never going to see that I care.

"Scribe, why do men have to treat women like that? Is it some sort of macho thing that tells them they can't be a man unless they've treated at least one woman like dirt? I wouldn't trust any other man in the world to answer that for me, you know — but I know I can trust you. What's it all about? And… do *you* think I'm so načve and stupid that I had it coming?

"Your friend,

"Tornado."

"April 18 1988

"My dear Tornado,

"My very dear friend… you don't know how much I wished that I knew where you were when I got your letter! That guy who treated you like that… well, all I can say is that if I *ever* get to meet him, he'll regret it. I swear to you, Tornado, that guy doesn't deserve you. He's… well, let's just say that if I told you what I really think of him, my mom would rip my ear off (assuming she knew!). And I wish, most of all, that you'd been with someone who respected and loved you enough to give you a wonderful first time.

"No, all men aren't like that — but you knew that's what I was going to say, didn't you? Like everything, there are good and bad. There are plenty of guys out there who would never dream of treating a woman with that much disrespect — just as there are plenty of women who would never go behind a friend's back and steal her man. But there are also a few who just don't seem to care how many people they hurt. They're not representative, Tornado. And they're not worth the time of day.

"And you, načve or stupid? I don't think so! Maybe you're not all that experienced with relationships, from what you've said over the years, but that doesn't mean anything other than that you're choosy about who you date. And I'm pretty choosy too, I guess, so I don't see anything wrong about that. You're one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable people I know, so don't run yourself down.

"I know, going back to a conversation we had a few months ago, that this is going to damage your trust in other people — especially men — even more. But please don't let it turn you cynical. One day you'll meet a special guy you can really love, and you don't want to drive him away because of lack of trust.

"I'm glad that you finish college in a couple of months. After that, you won't even have to see either of those people ever again."

The letter went on for several pages, painting for Lois a vivid picture of Scribe's journeys through the Alps and making her even more jealous: he described the lush green valleys, the chalet-style houses and shops, the quaint regional costumes and the delicious bread and cheese. A number of the mountains still had snow on their peaks even though it was late spring, and some would have snow all year round.

"You'll have to visit the Alps some time, Tornado," the letter concluded. "It's just one of those parts of the world you can't miss out on. I'd love to be able to show it to you — but don't worry, I know that's not going to happen.

"Take care, my friend, and keep smiling. I don't care what anyone else thinks — I think you're terrific!

"Affectionately yours,

"Scribe."

***

Postcard dated June 28, 1988

"Scribe! I've got a job!!! You are now talking to… well, I'm not going to tell you. Yeah, I know, I'm crazy. But rules are rules, and it's just possible that my job could identify me to you, so I'm not going to tell you. But congratulate me!

"Your EMPLOYED friend,

"Tornado."

Postcard of the Russian Steppes, dated July 16 1988

"Hey, Tornado! Congratulations!

"And I even had a shot of vodka in a Moscow bar the day I got your card — I drank it to you. Be successful! Knowing you, I bet you'll end up running the place within five years.

"Scribe — learning Russian slowly!"

***

Postcard of the Amazon Basin, dated February 26 1989

"Hey Tornado! See where I am now! Is your noticeboard full of my cards now, or have you stopped keeping them?

"I'm still travelling, as you can see — beginning to think about maybe starting to settle somewhere for a bit longer, getting a proper job instead of temporary work. Borneo looks interesting — maybe I'll stick around there for a while if I can get a decent job.

"Stay happy!

"Scribe"

***

"September 14, 1989

"Hi Scribe.

"So much for a new career full of opportunities for life and love and happiness! I just don't know what I'm going to do. I'm tempted to quit my job and move to another city, but I've worked so hard to get to where I am — this was my dream job. I really don't know what I should do… right now I'm so miserable that I could curl up in my apartment, lock the door and never come out again.

"And you're the only person in the world I can talk to about this. There is no way that I could tell anyone else what happened, Scribe. Only you.

"I've gone and done it again — I fell in love with a complete piece of dirt. He works with me — he's senior to me, and I really looked up to him, as well as having a total crush on him almost from the moment he started here last summer. But he never seemed to see me as anything other than a junior co-worker. I mean, he was nice, but there was never anything personal in it. Until just about a week ago, when I started working on something really exciting.

"I should have seen the connection. I really should. I was just so *stupid*! I was flattered. He suddenly started chatting me up in the office, and then he asked if I was doing anything after work. We went for a drink that night. Then two days later he took me to dinner… and, Scribe, he's so sophisticated and charming, he really made me feel like I was lucky to be with him. He swept me off my feet.

"And then yesterday… we went for dinner again, and then he walked me home, like he had before. But this time he came in for coffee — only he didn't want coffee. Yeah, we ended up in bed. And… well, he knew what he was doing — he was a lot better than that guy in college. I thought this was it. I even told him I loved him!

"You've probably guessed it already. I woke up alone this morning, and when I went out into the living-room to see if he was anywhere around, all of my notes for my sxxx — the project I was working on were gone. And when I got into work, he'd already presented it to our boss as his own work. I tried to say something, but he just jumped in and thanked me for my *help*. And he patted me on the head and told me to run along. *Run along*?!? I wanted to scream at him and make sure everyone knew the truth. But I looked around the office and I could see that no-one would have believed me. So I just said nothing.

"And then later this afternoon I started noticing people looking at me and snickering. He's told everyone that I slept with him, I know it!

"I can't bear to stay here, Scribe. I've worked so hard and it was all going so well. That project would have got me a huge promotion, too. Now the boss says he's going to put the bastard in for a prize for it. That should be *my* prize! But it's not just that. I feel… hurt and humiliated and taken for a ride. And I feel so stupid. I just don't know what to do. I think I'm going to call in sick tomorrow.

"Scribe, do you still think I should believe that all men aren't pond-scum?

"Yours,

"Tornado."

"September 19 1989

"Hi Tornado,

"We were lucky — I was home visiting my parents when your letter arrived. I'll be here for a few days more. Do you want me to come and spend some time with you? I'd fly out immediately to wherever you are. Or even talk to you on the phone? Let me know. I'm going to send this letter by overnight mail so you'll have it quickly.

"I can't believe that anyone could be so cruel! To be so selfish, grasping… to trample over another human being like that just to ensure his own advancement — the guy deserves to be sacked and to never be able to work again. I wish you could have told your boss, but I suppose I understand why you couldn't. You're probably right — he wouldn't have believed you. Not that that's a great recommendation for your boss, Tornado.

"If I could have just five minutes with this guy, I'd make him wish he'd never set eyes on you. That probably doesn't sound like much, Tornado, but I'm not a violent person. I'm pretty strong, but I don't like using my strength against other people. The fact that I want to tear him limb from limb is a pretty good indicator of how angry I am right now.

"The fact that I'm the only person you can tell this to worries me deeply too. I hate to think that you don't have a close friend near you that you can confide in. I hate to think of you all alone in your apartment crying over what that worthless sub-specimen of a human being did to you. You should have someone you can talk to about something like this, Tornado. I know why you feel you can tell me, though. You feel safe telling me intimate and deeply personal things, because you know at some level that they'll never come back to haunt you. You're never going to have to look me in the eye and know that I know some very personal things about you. And if I ever bring up anything you wish I'd forgotten, you've always got a way out of our correspondence if you want it.

"I know that I'm your best friend — heck, you're mine! But the difference is that I can talk to my folks about things, and I have a couple of close friends back home and from college too. You feel so alone, Tornado. I wish you'd let me do more for you.

"You want my advice as to what you should do? Don't run away. Actually, I can tell you that my folks would laugh themselves silly if they could see me telling you that — they tell me that I've been running away since I left college. They're partly right, which is one reason why I'm planning on settling down somewhere at least for a couple of years. I think I've got a job lined up in Borneo, starting next month.

"I mean it, though. Don't run away. Brave it out. It'll be tough at first, but people will respect you far more for staying than they would for going. And, from what I know of you, my Tornado, you'll respect yourself far more if you stay. You hate to run away from things. Stay, and work as hard as you ever did before this happened. You proved that you could do well before, even if no-one knows that except yourself and the so-called co-worker who stole your work. You'll do well again — even better next time. And next time round it'll be you being recommended for a prize, I'm sure of it.

"Courage, Tornado. You face him with determination and contempt, and he'll be the one who has to look away.

"Oh, and trust me: not all men are like that. I couldn't imagine treating anyone the way that guy treated you. I guess you won't believe me, and after this I couldn't exactly blame you. But please don't let the cynicism take you over completely, huh?

"Sending you virtual hugs, since I can't give them to you in person,

"Always your friend,

"Scribe."

Tears fell from Lois's eyes as she read Scribe's letter one more time. He'd always been a wonderful friend to her, far better than she deserved. After all, how often had he told her about his problems and looked for sympathy and understanding? Almost never. And yet she seemed to have done it on a very regular basis over the years.

He was such a great friend — the perfect friend. And that made one more reason why they should never meet, she'd decided as soon as she came to that conclusion. Why would such a wonderful, perfect guy even *like* boring, frigid and načve Lois Lane? He was right, too, about the fact that his knowing her so well would make her even less inclined to agree to meet up.

But his letter had made her feel better than she had in days.

"September 20, 1989

"Dear Scribe,

"I can't tell you how much your letter helped. I did go into work over the last few days, but I've been feeling pretty depressed still and I was still thinking about quitting. You're dead right — there is *no* way that I should leave. If anyone should quit, he should — if he had any decency, that is!

"My boss isn't bad — he's pretty fair, really. But in this case I really couldn't expect him to believe me. No-one would believe that someone in my position, who's only been here a little over a year, could have done what I did. And the other guy has quite a reputation for being good at what he does. It's kind of like that Marlowe guy claiming that he wrote some of Shakespeare's plays — who'd have believed him at the time? Or even now?

"I guess it'll take a while to forget what happened. And I can't help being cynical, Scribe. I mean, why should I ever trust a guy ever again? I don't mean you. You're different, and I've always known I could trust you. Why can't I meet a guy like you?

"And you're right about something else. I *am* going to be nominated for that prize next year. And I'm going to win it, too! That will show him — and everyone else.

"Anyway, I've got to snap out of this, otherwise you'll get fed up with me moaning to you all the time. So, tell me about this job in Borneo, then! How did that come about? Where will you be working? And are you looking forward to it…"

***

Postcard of a victory parade, October 20, 1990

"Scribe! I did it!

"Not only was I nominated — I won! The only sour note is that git-face has gone back to Europe, so he wasn't here to have his face ground into to the dirt by it. But he'll hear about it. And I don't care any more now — I've proven that I can do it.

"I won! I won, I won, I won!!!!!!

"Delirious-Tornado"

Postcard of a bunch of flowers, 28 October 1990

"Congratulations, winner!!

"I really am delighted for you. But then, I knew you'd do it! Hey, forget that waste of space — he's really not worth it. Concentrate on winning again next year. I know you'll do it if you set your mind to it.

"Proud of you,

"Scribe."

***

Postcard, 10 December 1992

"Hey Tornado!

"I'm on my way home! Yeah, after four and a half years of wandering the world and changing jobs every six months, I'm homesick for the USA. I'll be back Stateside in time for Christmas. And then you can expect to hear from me more frequently, so be warned!

"Scribe"

Christmas card, dated 18 December 1992

"Scribe! Welcome home!

"So what are your plans? Looking for a job back home? Do you actually think you can stay in the same place for longer than half a year now?

"Have a wonderful Christmas with your folks. Love you,

"Your friend,

"Tornado"

Christmas card dated 24 December 1992

"This one won't get to you in time, but it's the thought that counts. <g> Yes, I will be looking for a job — something close to home for the time being. I'm already putting out feelers and I think I might have something. As to whether I can stay put, if things work out as planned I could be on the move again in late spring…

By the way, would you by any chance have come across email? I've got a new account, just for you: scribe@coolmail.com If technology doesn't still bring you out in hives, send me a mail!

"Happy new year, my Tornado!

"Scribe."

***

From tornado@maxiserf.com To scribe@coolmail.com Message dated January 03 1993 2215

"Scribe!

"Happy new year!

"Thought I couldn't do it, did you? Well, I'll admit it; I had to wait until the office junior, who knows about techie stuff, could come over and hook me up to the internet at home. He told me about this mail provider as well, so I can have a nicely anonymous email address too.

"So now you can expect to hear from me at any hour of the night or day — well, assuming I'm home. I was working late again tonight…"

The email continued for several more paragraphs, and Lois smiled to herself as she re-read it at the end, thinking about how long it would take him to respond.

From scribe@coolmail.com To tornado@maxiserf.com Message dated January 03 1993 2248

"Tornado! You made it!

"I've been checking this account daily since a couple of days before New Year — I was starting to assume that you'd never manage to figure out email. Well, I've got to hand it to you: I was wrong. (Okay, so you got some guy to help you. That showed initiative, at least… ;)).

"I started my new job last week, right here in my home town. I think I'm going to enjoy it, even though they know and I know that I won't be here long. Much as I love home, I want to work in one of the big cities. And I even have a place — and a place of work — in mind. It's all a matter of ambition and luck, I guess. I need to get my resume up to scratch and get a couple of good references — being out of touch and travelling so much over the last few years doesn't really help with that. But I'm determined. I'm taking my lesson from you, my Tornado!

"Got to go to bed — early start in the morning out here!

"Yours affectionately,

"Scribe."

***

Postcard of a train, dated 1 May 1993

"Wish me luck, Tornado! I'm on my way to the big city, looking for that great job I really, really want. My interview's in a couple of days' time. I won't be able to mail you or check email for a few days — although I have my laptop with me, I don't think I'll be staying anywhere I can connect to the Internet. But I'll be in touch when I can.

"Scribe (nervous as heck…)

Lois put the postcard back in its box and started to flick through the remaining, though much smaller, pile. Then she felt a shadow behind her.

"What are you doing, honey?"

"Clark!" She spun around, almost falling over as a result of her kneeling position on the floor. Somewhat embarrassed to be found like that, she shrugged. "Just sorting through some old stuff."

"Hmm… letters, postcards, printed-out emails…" he teased.

"Oh, okay!" she confessed. "I found your box with all my letters in it, and I was merging them with mine. You kept everything, Clark! Every single letter!"

"Do you honestly think I'd have thrown anything out?" he asked softly. "You were always my very best friend, Lois. I loved you for years. Of course I kept everything." He brushed one hand softly over her hair. "And you kept everything too, by the look of that pile," he added with a grin.

Lois nodded. "Every single bit. I could never bear to throw any of it out. I used to re-read your letters on days when I felt miserable — you never failed to cheer me up. Or make me feel better about myself when I was really down."

"You did the same for me," Clark said quietly. "More than you knew. You were my Tornado, the friend who always made me feel like I belonged — and that somebody needed me."

"I'm just so glad that we found each other," Lois said. "I mean, when you think of all the places you could have settled, Clark… and I was being so crazy, saying I didn't want to meet you…"

"I think we were destined to meet," Clark said thoughtfully. "If you think about it — I came all the way from Krypton; I grew up in Smallville, I got you as a penfriend, and even after travelling all over the world I ended up right on your doorstep. *And* I fell in love with you both as a penfriend and as a co-worker. I think someone was determined that we were going to end up together." He reached for her hand, lifting it to his lips and kissing her wedding ring.

"I wonder what would have happened if I'd found out you were Scribe when you first started at the Planet?" Lois mused aloud.

"We wouldn't have wasted a year," Clark teased.

But Lois shook her head, knowing that she had to be honest with him and with herself. "It was just as well that I didn't find out then. Clark, I was horrible to you! And the way I felt about you, if I'd found out that you were Scribe, I'd probably have told you to get lost and stopped writing to you, too! That's just the sort of stupid thing I'd have done back then."

Clark shook his head. "I don't think you would, honey. I know you better than you know yourself sometimes, remember? You have a very strong innate sense of fairness. And you're highly intelligent. I think you'd have thought about all our correspondence over the year, and you'd have realised that your first impression of Clark Kent was wrong. It might have taken you a few days, but you'd have done it. And we'd have been friends much sooner — and maybe more, too."

"You're very forgiving, Clark," Lois said softly. "But then, I always knew that. And I love that about you."

"I'm not forgiving when it comes to someone who's hurt you," he said on a low growl. "Didn't you say that Claude guy might be at that world journalism symposium next month?"

Deeply touched that Clark still remembered, and still wanted to fulfil his promise, Lois slid into his welcoming arms. "Leave it, Clark. I won in the end, you know. Not only did I win four solo Kerths and two joint ones, but I'm far happier than I ever was when I was dating him. *And* I know that he wasn't so hot in bed after all…"

"You mean I am?" Clark blushed, and Lois laughed. "If I'm hot," he continued, "you're a furnace, my little Tornado!"

Clark began to pack the now-single box of letters away; then he turned to Lois and smiled. "You know, we should do something with these some day. Write a book or something. Like Helene Hanff — remember 84 Charing Cross Road?"

"Oh yeah?" Lois smiled fondly at her husband. "Only when I'm too old and grey to be embarrassed by them any more!"

"It's a deal," he agreed. "After all, now that email's taken over from pen and paper, hardly anyone knows what a penfriend is any more."

"We do," Lois pointed out.

"And am I glad!" Clark exclaimed, sweeping her into his arms for a kiss.

THE END