By LCrich <email@example.com>
Submitted: February, 2002
Summary: A little episode of Lois & Clark where the couple has to investigate a murder. But this time things won't be the same… things will change.
I'd like to thank all my friends who read this story and gave me some advice to make it better. A special thank you to one of them who proofread my story and helped me with translating it because it was originally written in French. Without this friend, this story would never have seen the light of day. Thanks, Jenna!!!!
Lois and Clark were walking, hand in hand, unaware of the people around them. They felt like they were alone in the world. The last two days had been eventful and they were happy to have a chance of being alone with no reporters bugging them.
"Clark, I love you."
"I love you too, Lois."
"You know this story about the tabloids turned out to be a good thing after all."
"Well, now we have learned to be more preventive and take care that something like that will not happen again."
"Yeah, maybe. But I have to admit that for a moment I really thought that everybody would discover the truth about me and that made me sick. I don't know how I could bear this. Everyone would have acted differently towards me, even Jimmy and Perry. You know the admiration they have for Superman. But I think the worst would have been to know that you and my parents could be in danger."
"You're right. It was a close call, thanks to Jimmy who saved the situation!"
"Oh, I almost forgot. Talking about Jimmy, he finally finished the research I asked him to do on the corpse found in Hobbs Bay last week."
"Which corpse? I don't recall."
"Yes, remember, the one Superman discovered during his patrol to check out the progress of the Superman Foundation."
"Oh yes, now I see. Hey, while we're talking about the Superman Foundation, did you know my mother works there as a volunteer. She only told me this afternoon, all excited, that the money donated to reconstruct Kingston and make a secure place out of it has increased after having lowered during the tabloid scandal."
"Super. I found it was a pity that people would stop helping each other because of a little misunderstanding."
"A little misunderstanding? Personally, I find it was an ENORMOUS one."
Clark lifted his eyes toward the sky, hearing his wife's protestations. He looked at her, love in his eyes. He couldn't believe how lucky he was that this woman wanted to share her life with him. At the beginning he thought she would never love him, just Superman. He had been secretly relieved when she had found out everything about him being Superman. Lois made him escape his thoughts with her usual adroitness.
"Clark, it's time you came back to Earth and tell me what information Jimmy found."
Clark looked at her a moment without understanding what she meant and finally said, "Oh yeah, sorry, I was thinking about something else. So, Jimmy says that the victim, Mike Hamilton, worked as a caretaker at Macro Investments."
"Macro Investments? Wasn't that one of Lex Luthor's companies?"
"Yes, but after his death the company was sold to the city and a certain Andy Freeman bought it."
Clark abruptly stop speaking and the familiar look of Superman hearing a call for help spread over his face.
"So what now?"
Clark lowered his voice so that the passersby wouldn't hear. "I think someone needs Superman. It looks like a fire started near the hospital. I'm going. I'll see you at home later."
Clark bent to give Lois a kiss and started off at a run in search of an alley gloomy enough to change into the so familiar blue and red costume in.
A few hours later, having finally stopped the fire and taken care that everybody was safe and unhurt, Superman was flying over Hyperion street. He wanted to be sure nobody would see him enter his window. After he saw the street was completely empty, Superman descended and entered his house. He silently and carefully crept into the bedroom and changed clothes at superspeed, without making any noise to wake Lois. He stretched smoothly and listened for a while to the regular sounds his wife made while sleeping. He would never get tired of listening to them. And never would he tire of knowing that there was someone on this planet he could count on.
During this time, in another area of Metropolis, a very strange conversation was taking place between a small man in his late forties with gray hair and a stranger hidden in the shadow of a tree in Centennial Park.
"Did you follow my instructions properly, Mr. Freeman?"
"Yes sir, but we were a little delayed by this unexpected story with Mike Hamilton. But the problem has been speedily dealt with if I can permit myself to say so."
"Great, so you know the next step. I hope that this time no unexpected incidents will happen. Am I clear?"
"Yeah, as clear as crystal."
On those words the small man left, leaving the stranger alone in the park. A furtive ray of moonlight poked out of the clouds and lit his face. Knowing he had nothing more to do there he went, without forgetting to crush the cigar he was holding between his fingers.
The little ring of the elevator announced the arrival of the two star reporters at the Daily Planet editorial room. Lois and Clark were halfway down the little slope to their desks when they heard the high-handed voice of Perry White.
"Lois, Clark, in my office, pronto!"
"Certain things will never change.." whispered Clark.
Lois made a little unsure laugh and started toward Perry's office, her husband following a few meters behind her.
Right after Clark had closed the office door, Perry started to speak.
"So, my dear children, I know that these last two days have been really laborious for you after the tabloid story, but now it's time for you to go back to work. Do you have something new? Don't tell me you don't because if you do, I'll kill you!"
"Well, Perry, we started investigating this murder story in Hobbs Bay. We already have some information and I'm sure that if we dig a little bit we'll succeed in writing a very good article." Clark answered very rapidly so that Perry couldn't continue his monologue about the efficiency of his reporters.
"So," Perry retorted, "what are you still doing in my office? Go to work. You aren't paid to sleep but to bring back scoops!"
Lois and Clark had started toward the door when Perry asked a last question: "Huh, yeah, the young turtledoves, I almost forgot, Jimmy persuaded me to go see a movie with him tonight. You could come with us. We planned to go see the movie and have ice cream after. I know how you like ice cream, Lois, especially chocolate."
Clark looked at his wife and saw that she was nodding so he said they would be happy to accompany them. Lois and he exited their chief's office and started to plan their schedule for the day.
They decided to start their search by paying a visit to Andy Freeman, to hear his version the preceding week's events. So they went out of the building and entered Lois's Jeep to go to Macro Investments.
When they arrived, a beautiful secretary of about twenty years of age informed them Mr. Freeman was in a meeting. She politely told them to sit and that she would inform him of their visit when he was available. So Lois and Clark sat on the expensive couches in the waiting room. After an hour of waiting, the secretary let a very angry Lois and an exhausted Clark enter the boss's office.
"I can't believe it," started Lois. "One hour waiting as two poor boobies and, when we can finally enter the office of dear Mr. Freeman, he doesn't even care to honor us with his presence! That's too much! I really think I'll write an article on the lack of services in this industry. Jeez, it's scandalous, who do they think they are, letting two poor people wait during…"
Clark, searching for a way to stop his babbling wife, hastened rapidly toward her without letting her have time to react. Lois felt his warm lips come down on hers. They kissed passionately and languidly for a few minutes, until even Clark was out of breath.
"So," said Clark, mockingly. "I'm sorry, but that was the only way to stop you babbling like a magpie."
"Oh yeah? If you do that every time I start to talk a bit too much, I think I'll do it more often!"
They looked at each other for a moment, desire burning in their eyes. Then the door opened on a small man who presented himself as Andy Freeman.
"Good morning, Miss Lane, Mr. Kent."
"Hello, Mr. Freeman."
"Please, call me Andy. What can I do for you? My secretary told me you wanted to ask me some questions for an article you are writing?"
Choosing a direct manner, Lois answered, "Yes, in fact we are investigating the murder that took place last week in Hobbs Bay. We learned the victim was one of your employees?"
Clark had the impression that Freeman was a bit abashed by his wife's speech, but this impression disappeared rapidly when the man started speaking.
"Yes, that's true. You are well informed. Mr. Hamilton had worked for us for two months when this tragedy happened. But I didn't know him personally."
The conversation continued like that while the two reporters asked questions. Lois had the feeling that, kind as he was, the business man who was standing in front of them seemed to want to end the interview as quickly as possible.
A quarter of an hour later, Lois and Clark exited the building, discussing their impressions of the outcome of their article.
"I think this was telling truth. It seems that we don't really have any proof to resolve this crime. All we have is the approximate hour of the murder and a revolver found on at the crime scene. The person who left it there took care to remove all the fingerprints."
"I have to admit you're right, Clark. This murder story could only be a robbery after all. But my journalistic instinct is telling me something is wrong with this story."
"Oh oh, be careful, Miss Lane is detecting something. It could be lethal!!"
While laughing, Lois and Clark returned to their Jeep and made their way to the Planet.
During this time, in the director's office at Macro Investments, Andy Freeman was recovering from the reporters' visit. For a moment there, he'd thought they knew everything. That Lois Lane especially had made him uneasy with her questions. He'd been afraid that this uneasiness would reflect on his face and was nearly desperate when they finally decided to go.
He informed his secretary that he didn't want to be disturbed and picked up the phone lying on his desk. He dialed a number he knew by heart and waited for the person to answer. After only one ring, a rough voice answered.
"Hi, it's Freeman. I have bad news. Lane and Kent just left my office. They came to ask me some questions about the murder of Mike Hamilton. They are really curious. I'm afraid they will make our plan fail."
"Well, Mr. Freeman, I think there's only one thing to do. You know what. Kill them. Tell someone to put a bomb in their house and blame it on a terrorist organisation. Be quick, I want everything finished tomorrow. Bye."
Freeman hung up the phone and dialed another number, one of a man he could trust and to whom he could give the task of killing Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
Later in the evening, Lois and Clark were preparing themselves to go out with Jimmy and Perry. Over the years, Perry, despite his severe manners and his harsh tone, had become a bit like a godfather to Lois and Clark. He had seen them develop their relationship during the last four years. Jimmy, like Perry, even kept out of the secret Lois and Clark shared, had become their best friend and the two reporters were having fun acting as mentors and professors to the young Jimmy Olsen.
After a moment, Lois broke the silence.
"I am a bit disappointed. I thought we would have more material to write a good article for Perry."
"But, honey, don't get discouraged. Tomorrow we'll continue our research and we'll find something interesting."
"Maybe. But I'm starting to believe that, for the first time, my instincts took me in the wrong direction."
"Darling, you know we must never get discouraged."
Lois pressed her husband in her arms, comforted by the simple presence of the man she loved tenderly. They took their coats and went out. They hadn't reached their car yet when Clark raised his head. Lois looked at him, resigned.
"Go. I'll wait for you with Jimmy and Perry. I'll invent a lame excuse to cover up for you as always."
Clark kissed her and looked around him. Seeing no one, he whirled to change into the Superman costume. After a brief glance at his wife, the Man of Steel flew up into the sky. Lois followed him with her eyes until he was only a speck then entered the Jeep and started the engine.
A man was waiting in the shadow of Hyperion street. When he saw the car pull down the road he exited his hiding place. A furtive glance into Kents' window told him that there was nobody left in the house.
He entered the house and took out his material. He didn't know why someone wanted to eliminate the two reporters but he was happy to have a job and that was all that mattered to him. He hadn't asked any questions of the man who'd phoned him earlier in the afternoon.
His work finished, the man left, taking care not to leave any hint of his presence.
When Lois arrived at last at the cinema she was ten minutes late. She had been caught in a traffic jam and had difficulty finding a parking slot. She easily located Jimmy and Perry. The latter seemed irritated by the lateness of his friends.
"Hi, Jimmy, Perry. Here I am."
"Lois. At last. But where is Clark?"
"Oh, huh, he had to…" Lois thought rapidly, "go back to the car to…"
"Get my wallet that I left in the back seat of the car. Hi, Jimmy, Perry." Clark arrived just in time to save the situation.
Lois winked at her husband and suggested they enter to buy their tickets. They had decided on Titanic and there weren't many tickets left.
"That movie was really good!"
"Yeah, Jimmy, you're right. But some details weren't exactly it really happened."
"Oh, Lois, couldn't you lose your reporter soul just for one evening?"
All four of them burst out laughing at this remark. The film had lasted for three hours and it was already dark outside. The temperature had lowered and Lois shivered a little. She looked at her husband, making him realize she was cold.
"Oh, sorry. Take my coat. I don't need it anyway, I'm not cold."
Lois looked at him mischievously. Of course, he wasn't cold. He was Superman after all. Being Superman's wife had its bad and. its good advantages.
"Perry, Jimmy, why don't you come to our house for coffee?"
"Well, if you want, Lois. And we could discuss your article."
"Great. And you, Jimmy, what do you say?"
"Well, I don't know. I wouldn't want to disturb you and I have plenty of work to do for tomorrow." He looked at Perry, hoping he would understand that he would like to have a little rest. As if he was guessing his thought, Perry answered, "Well, my boy, this evening is a special one. If you don't come with us, I'll be very disappointed."
"Ok, I'm coming."
And all four of them started towards Lois and Clark's house. Lois and Perry were sitting in the front of the car and Jimmy and Clark in the back.
"Lois, I see you still drive very well." Perry looked at her, a funny look on his face. "Don't you ever worry about the police?"
"Well, Chief, if it happens I can count on my many charms to get out of it!"
"Hola, be careful, Lois, Clark could be jealous!"
The four friends continued to exchange jokes for the rest of the journey, which lasted about ten minutes. Lois parked the Jeep and Clark opened the front door of the house. He entered, followed by Lois, Jimmy and Perry.
"Make yourself at home. Sit on the couch, I'll go prepare some coffee for everybody."
"You're sure you don't want some help, Darling?"
"Huh, Lois, it's not that I don't want you to but, huh, you know, every time you put a foot in the kitchen, there's danger."
"Ok, Ok, I understand. Do it by yourself!!"
Clark entered the kitchen and Lois sat on the couch next to Jimmy and Perry.
"So, Lois, are you going to talk about your article?"
"Well, Clark and I went to meet Mr. Freeman this afternoon. He seemed honest, but I don't know why, I had a bad feeling while listening to him. As if he had something to hide." "Great. Tomorrow, Jimmy'll help you by researching into the past of this mysterious Andy Freeman. Won't you Jimmy?"
"Of course, Chief."
At that moment, Clark left the kitchen with four coffee cups. When he put them on the living room table his superhearing detected a little click that was too low for a normal person to hear. He lowered his glasses and looked through the table with his x ray vision. There he saw the bomb. A little bomb with a detonator which indicated there was…oh god, five seconds left!!
Without taking the time to think, wanting to protect the ones he loved, he took his wife in one arm, Perry and Jimmy in the other, and flew away as fast as lightning. They exited the house just as the bomb exploded, sending everything into ashes.
Clark put his passengers on the ground and changed into Superman. With his superbreath, he extinguished the fire. He returned to his three friends to be sure they were all right He saw first stupefaction and then comprehension spread over the faces of his friend and boss.
Clark woke up covered in sweat. He had had a terrible nightmare in which Jimmy and Perry had discovered the truth about him and in which his house was in flames. It had been horrible.
He made a move to turn to Lois and be sure she was well. He nearly fell off the other side of the bed when he realized this one was smaller than the one which was in his bedroom. He stood up and fumbled to find the switch. He found it and turned it on, lighting the room.
His eyes took some seconds to adjust to the light then he peered around him. The room looked unfamiliar. It was a small guest bedroom looking modest. A little bed was situated in the middle of the room and a mirror and a chest of drawers were disposed against the opposite wall. A large window offered a view of the the street below. As he walked over to have a look at it the bedroom's door opened and a familiar voice called after Clark.
"I knew you wouldn't be able to sleep either."
"Lois, what happened? What are we doing here? And where is here by the way?"
"Clark, we're at my mom's house, don't you remember?"
"So it wasn't a nightmare after all?. I dreamed a bomb exploded at our house and I had to reveal my true identity to Jimmy and Perry to save them. Then I extinguished the fire and that's all I recall."
"Yeah, I see, you must have had a mental block. Well after that Jimmy and Perry left. They looked extremely tense but they didn't say anything. I think there will be a lot of damage to restore tomorrow, and not only on the house. So after that we went to the police station to explain what had happened and how Superman saved us. Then we came here and my mother agreed to let us sleep here for a time.
"Lois, how's the house?"
"Well it will take a lot of time to return it to its original state and to make it livable. But, you know, it's just a house and you saved us from a tragedy by extinguishing the fire."
"And the secret room? Did the firemen find it? Are my costumes still there?"
"They are still there. The firemen didn't find it and they've already finished their work. We could always go there tomorrow and look at it."
"I agree. Lois, I'm really frightened. What will happen, I mean, with Perry and Jimmy? What will they think of me?"
"You know perfectly well they would never do anything against you. Perry won't publish an article about this if that's what's scaring you."
"No, I know he won't do something like that. In fact what scares me the most is that I could lose Perry and Jimmy's friendship."
"Don't be afraid about that. Everything will be just fine. We'll worry about that tomorrow. For now let's go to bed. This bed is very small but I'm sure if we squeeze up a bit, we'll have enough room."
"The bomb didn't work, they're still alive. Their good friend Superman saved them just in time. Why is he always at the right place at the right time? It's annoying."
"Well, Mr. Freeman, forget about the Kents. You failed and if you try it again, they may start to have doubts about us. Continue your research as we said."
Freeman hung up the phone and looked at his office door distractedly. This whole story was starting to get out of hand. At the beginning everything was so simple, so easy. He had bought Macro Investments with the help of his boss and had started the researche on his special project. This project was to create a computer able to infiltrate any other computer.
This computer could decrypt passwords and secret codes. If they could build it then there wouldn't be any limits. They could have all the money they wanted by pirating banks' systems. They could have access to the highly secure information of the NIA and many more. Really, the possibilities were unlimited.
But now there were more and more problems and they were losing control. Still, he would do what his boss asked him to, but he would stay alert.
"Lois, I'm really terrified. I feel as though I've got an enormous burden resting on my shoulders Though if it really was the case, I wouldn't even feel it."
"Clark really, calm down, it's pointless to worry about something that didn't happen yet. Who knows, maybe everything will go fine. For now, we must think about our article."
"Yeah, as always, you're right. And that's why I love you."
Lois drew near her husband and put her hand on his chest. "Only for that?"
Clark took her in his arms and kissed her. He was still kissing her when the elevator doors opened. The two star reporters entered the editorial room. Ralph, one of their colleagues, came towards them.
"Hey, guys, how are you today? I learned your house exploded yesterday, what a pity!" He cast a glance at Lois. "If you want, you could come sleep at my home for a time. I've only one bed but two people can sleep in it and Clark can sleep on the couch, it's really comfortable."
Lois didn't even bother to make an effort to hide the anger in her voice. "Ralph, you know perfectly well the answer is NO. You should return to your stupid, soporific stories if you don't want any hurt done to your ugly body!"
At that moment, Perry came out of his office and moved towards Lois and Clark's desks. "Hum, Lois, Clark, would you please come into my office, I'd like to have a word with you about your article."
Lois, Clark, and all the people situated near enough to hear looked strangely at each other. It wasn't normal that Perry was so polite and kind towards two of his reporters, even if they were his favorites.
Clark was the first to react. "Of course, Perry."
Perry moved to his office and, when he reached the door, opened it and held it to let Lois and Clark pass him.
"Please, sit down. Good. What steps have you taken to get further in your investigation?"
Clark, glad that his boss wasn't talking about last night's subject, answered his question.
"Well, we'll ask Jimmy to research into the past of Andy Freeman and we'll try to find someone who was close to Hamilton and see if something was troubling him before his death or if he said anything."
"Great, you can start working."
Clark was starting to feel uncomfortable and was very well aware that his boss wasn't in his normal state of mind. Even if he would have liked to avoid the subject he was about to start speaking when his wife overtook him.
"Perry, you don't seem to be yourself today. Since when are you so polite with your employees?"
Clark was, as always, astonished at the way his wife seemed to be reading his mind.
"Hum, Lois, I don't know why you say I seem different today, maybe you could explain it to me."
"Perry, you know perfectly well what I'm talking about. How do you feel about the events that took place yesterday?"
"Oh, you mean THAT. Well, I'm really sorry for you. I hope your house will soon be livable again, but if you want to talk about the fact that…" Perry seemed to be trying to find his words and Clark decided to help him a bit.
"…that I am Superman."
"Well, hum, yes, that's it. So if you want to talk about that I have to admit I don't think I'm ready to do it".
"Well I thought you wouldn't be, Perry, and I'm really, really sorry that you learned this news in such a brutal way. If I can do anything, just tell me."
"Yeah, of course, Clark."
At that instant, Clark intercepted a radio communication concerning a hold up in the north of the city.
"Er, I'm sorry, but I have to go, er…" Clark was about to try to find a good excuse, as he always did, when he remembered he didn't have to do it anymore.
"In fact, I have to go offer my help to the police to stop some criminals."
Taking care the shades were closed, he whirled to change into his Superman costume and, after a last goodbye flew away without noticing Perry, who looked more than astonished.
"Well," said Lois to break the silence that was starting to make her feel uneasy. "I'd best start working till Clark comes back. Oh, and, Chief, don't be too hard with him, he didn't mean to hurt you."
And on those words she left her boss and friend's office.
Alone in his office, Perry reflected on recent events. He couldn't explain how he felt. He had always thought he could trust his journalistic instinct. But in the light of previous events he didn't know what to think it.
During five long years, he had been close to the Man of Steel, treating him like any other employee. The fact that he hadn't thought for one instant about the possibility that Clark could be more then he assumed, choked him very much. Now that he thought about it, everything seemed so self-evident. How Clark always left with a bad excuse, how he was never seen with Superman, how he always succeeded in contacting Superman. There was also the fact that he appeared in Metropolis at the same time as Superman, and that when Superman left them to go help his folks on New Krypton, Clark left too.
Now that he came back to those facts, Perry felt humiliated. The fact that his best reporter had been the mysterious hero who defended the world with all his might was really surprising and hard to accept. For the first time since the arrival of Superman, Perry didn't feel the same esteem, the same admiration for the super hero. He was discovering that Superman had fears and feelings like anybody else and that he also had some weaknesses, and one of those was Lois.
The more he thought about all this, the more he started accepting the idea that Clark was Superman. He was asking himself why he had react so badly the previous instant. He wished he could excuse himself and make everything be like before. But now he knew he had an ally on his side. And a powerful one.
"Hi Lois, it's Clark, how are you?"
"Oh, Clark, I'm fine. What's up?"
"I found Mike Hamilton's girlfriend. Her name's Rose Dewitt and she lives a few streets away from the Daily Planet. I thought maybe we could go interrogate her. What do you think?"
"It's a great idea. Give me her address, I'm coming."
After Clark gave her the address, Lois took her coat, her notepad and a pen, and left in a hurry.
"Are you sure she'll want to see us? It must have been really hard for her."
"Lois, normally, you're the kind to act and think later, no?"
"Yeah, you're right. Let's hear what she has to tell us."
Lois knocked at the door of the neat, twenties brownstone that stood before her. Apparently, the young woman who lived there was far away from poverty, judging by the aspects of her home.
After only a few seconds of waiting, the door was opened by a pretty brown-haired woman in her mid-twenties. It seemed she had been crying because her eyes were reddened and they could see some traces of mascara on her cheeks. Lois could very well understand this woman, thinking of the sadness she would have if she lost Clark.
"Good morning Miss Dewitt. My name's Lois Lane and here is my husband and partner, Clark Kent. We're reporters at the…"
"I know who you are, Miss Lane. I read all your articles. And yours too, Mr. Kent. I find them excellent. Come in, I suppose you are here to ask me some questions about Mike?" While speaking the name of her boyfriend the woman's voice shook a little.
"Yes, precisely. But you don't seem surprised about it."
"No. In fact, I was prepared for your visit. Mike was a real lover of your articles. He gave me a letter before he…"
"Yes, go on."
"Briefly, he told me that if anything happened to him, you would be interested in his story and that you could help him. I was about to send you the letter. He gave it to me for you." With those words, she gave them a little envelope bearing an inscription written by hand. "He told me I should not open it, because it could put me in danger. But he also told me you would know how to use it. At the time I thought he was only joking, but since he is dead I think you have to find his murderer."
Clark arched a bit towards the woman and put a protective hand on her shoulder. "Of course, Miss Dewitt. We'll find him and the courts will make him pay for his odious crime."
"I'm really grateful to you two."
The two reporters decided not to waste any more time there and left, thanking the woman for her information which put a new light on their investigation. Now they wanted to know what was in the letter. They took it with them with the intention of reading it once they were back in the news room.
Hi, my name's Mike Hamilton and if you're reading this letter, that means something has happened to me. Exactly two months and three days ago, I started working at Macro Investments. I work there as a caretaker. I am free to choose whether to do my tasks in the morning or in the evening, as I want. Most of the time I do them in the evening because that leaves me free to do many activities during the day.
That specific evening, I was cleaning the building as usual when I saw a ray of light coming from under the boss's door. I could hear a man talking fervently to someone. I'm really curious and so, unable to resist, I approached the door to see who was in there and what he was doing. While advancing silently, I could clearly hear my boss, Andy Freeman's, voice. I could hear what he was saying distinctly and I knew he was talking to someone on the phone. As I already wrote, I'm a curious guy and I decided to listen to him. If I could come back, I wouldn't have chosen so.
Anyway, here's a summary of the one way discussion I heard:
"Yes, that's it. But I'll need more time to create this computer. I put together a special team for that. Some great guys I can trust. Yeah, they know it's illegal. But I promised them a lot of money in exchange for their services. Yes, of course, I'll call you once everything's finished. What? OK. I know, if something goes wrong I won't hesitate to eliminate the problem by any means necessary. Perfect. Bye."
When I heard the man hang up, I was still upset by the conversation I had just heard. None of this had meaning for me but I never doubted something was wrong with this guy. But, up to now, I haven't found a meaning to the conversation.
I was still lost in my thoughts when the office door opened. Andy Freeman came out of it and bumped into me. He asked me what I was doing there and if I had heard something. I denied it, but as I'm a poor liar I don't think he believed me. After that, I returned home and I hastened to write this letter. I don't know why. I don't really think I'm in danger, but I'm writing this letter because of the fact that Freeman said he would eliminate the problem by by any means necessary and that was really frightening. If you find this letter I hope you'll know what to do with it.
"This letter is pretty strange. But it seems we finally have something."
"Yes. It seems that this letter accuses Mr. Freeman of Hamilton's murder, even if it does it indirectly. I think we should try and find out about this computer."
Lois and Clark were in the conference room, where they had sat down comfortably to read the letter with silence and calm around them. Clark started pacing around the room, thinking. There was something troubling in this letter. He decided to talk about it with his wife.
"Freeman was speaking with someone on the phone. Someone who he seems to receive orders from. I think that someone else must be the chief in this organization."
"You're right. And the only way to find out is to find a link between Freeman and that someone else. Let's start working on that task right away."
They looked at each other and, as if they were only one person, they shouted: "JIMMY!!"
Some seconds later they saw Jimmy enter the conference room. He looked tired, as if he hadn't slept during the night.
Clark asked the first question. "Jimmy, where is your research on Andy Freeman?" Seeing Jimmy didn't seem to have heard him, Clark was about to ask his question again when Lois did for him.
"I finished them, Lois. I found many interesting things. Andy Freeman came from a far away region in the north of the United States. His father raised him, his mother having died when he was only two years of age. He studied at the university and obtained his diploma. After that, he started working for a small computer center. Three years ago he was arrested for a capital abduction. He spent a few months in jail. When he got out, a mysterious man proposed lending him money so that he could realize his deepest dream and buy a computer company. Guess which company that was."
"Macro Investments," Lois answered Jimmy's sentence enthusiastically. Then she noted the puzzled expression of her husband.
"What's bothering you, darling? You're not happy with the information Jimmy found?"
"That's not it. Jimmy, who was this mysterious man who proposed helping Freeman? And what did he want in exchange?"
Again, Jimmy seemed as if he hadn't heard Clark. Clark asked his question again and obtained no reaction.
"So, Lois, if you've finished asking your questions, I'll go back to work."
Clark made a quick move to block the way. "Jimmy, what's up? Why are you acting as if I'm not here?"
"Did you hear something, Lois? I thought I was hearing Clark's voice."
"Jimmy, that's really not nice. Why are you doing this?"
Finally choosing to answer Clark's persistent questions, Jimmy turned around to face him, anger in his eyes.
"I thought you were one of my friends. I thought I could trust you. And then suddenly I learn that you've betrayed me. You must have laughed behind my back all that time, thinking how stupid I was for not seeing the truth. You were my friend, and my hero at the same time. You're nothing anymore!!"
On those terrific words, Jimmy left. Clark, who was stunned, and returned to his work. Clark looked at his wife, a desperate look on his face.
"Well now all my fears are happening. Perry doesn't know how to treat me, Jimmy doesn't want to hear anything about me anymore and he doesn't want me to be his friend. For God's sake, what have I done?"
And, for one of the rare times in his life, Clark Kent started crying, lost in the fine arms of the woman he loved.
Clark wiped the tears from his eyes and peered at his wife, a bit humiliated by what he had just done.
"I'm really sorry. I don't act like this normally. It's just that all this, with our story and everything…it was a bit too much."
"I know, sweetheart, don't be ashamed of that. Let's concentrate on our article."
"Yes, but, when our article is over, I want to have a heart to heart with Perry and Jimmy."
Clark stopped talking. With an abashed look, he watched the woman he loved with a look that was a little too familiar. Lois understood what was going on at once.
"Not someone else to save." It was more of a statement than a question.
"Well yes and it seems urgent. I'm going. I won't be long. You stay here. Above all, don't think of going alone to see Freeman. It could be dangerous. Instead, wait for me."
Lois reassured him and watched him go, loosening his tie as he went. She found Clark had given her a really good idea and she was INCAPABLE of staying in place. He knew that but he always asked her not to go without him anyway.' So she took her perfect journalist kit and set off for Macro Investments.
This time, when Lois arrived at Macro Investments, she entered without taking notice of the angry secretary telling her Freeman was occupied and couldn't see her. She entered his office. She discovered Freeman, surprise on his face, taking notes on his computer.
"Miss Lane, what can I do for you? Do you have more questions?
"I know what a criminal you are. And I know what you did in the past. I also know that something illegal's going on here and that you hired someone to kill Mike Hamilton because he knew too much and was a fly in the ointment.
Lois had expected to see the man object and affirm he was innocent, but on the contrary, he glanced at Lois with a look to make the dead tremble. Lois started to understand that maybe this time she had gone too far without taking the necessary precautions.
"That's exactly right, Miss Lane. And now you are the one who knows too much."
He took a small revolver out of its hiding place under his desk and aimed it at Lois. With a small clatter, he disengaged the safety catch.
"Be careful, Miss Lane." The man's voice was hard and high- pitched. "I know how to use this little thing and I won't hesitate."
"Ah, Superman, you're finally here! One of our employees is wedged between two beams. It happened when the main platform collapsed because of a technical problem."
They were on one of the numerous construction sites in Metropolis. Superman had arrived less than five minutes after one employee had been trapped by the beams. Now he had to find a way to rescue him without hurting him.
Superman approached and, in superfast movement, heaved one of the beams aside and released the man before the beams fell on him again.
Everyone there to watch started clapping and cheering their hero who, once again, had saved someone. It was a certainty that the world would be very different without Superman.
"Fine, if everything is OK, I'll think I'll leave. Be sure this man receives the help of a good doctor." And on those words, Superman disappeared in a blur of blue and red lightning.
Back at the Daily Planet, Clark had a terrible surprise when he realized Lois was missing. He looked on his desk and saw the note she had left on it.
Clark, I'm sorry but I couldn't resist the temptation. I went to see Freeman. I don't think he's really dangerous, but if I need any help, I'll call Superman.
Love from, Lois.
Clark let out a breath. Lois always succeeded in putting herself in danger and his worst fear was that maybe one day he couldn't be there to help her out of trouble. Most of all, this visit to Andy Freeman gave him a strange feeling. He went to Perry's office and hesitated in front of the door. He finally decided the situation was too serious to be affected by a little conflict between him and Perry, especially if he wanted to protect his wife.
So he entered the office, leaving the door wide open behind him.
"Perry, I think Lois went directly to the center of the storm. And I think this time she's in mortal danger. She went alone see Andy Freeman because just before I left to go help someone we came to the conclusion he must be the killer of Mike Hamilton. I'm leaving right now to ask Superman to go make a little visit to Macro Investments. You should call the police to warn them."
Clark made a move to go, but was stopped by Perry who cleared his throat and said, "Hum, Clark, be careful, won't you? And bring her back unhurt."
Clark forced a smile. "Of course, Chief. You know me." And, with an understanding glance, he disappeared out of the room.
"Well, Lois, you should learn there are some things you don't meddle in and you should learn to stay out of the affairs of the others."
"I'm sorry, it's a natural propensity I have to put myself in trouble." And that's exactly what Clark must think, she pondered.
Freeman pressed the intercom button and made a sign to Lois to shut up, pointing at her with his revolver.
"Gladys, could you go bring me a cup of coffee, please."
He waited a few seconds to be sure his secretary was gone and then pushed Lois in the back with his revolver. Lois, under the menace of the weapon, didn't dare to resist.
"Where are we going?"
"To a quieter place, where the police will take many days to find your corpse."
"Oh, that's so kind of you," she said sarcastically.
Freeman brought them to the staircase and they went down two or three floors. Then they passed a door and ended up at a kind of depositary for used computers.
Lois judged it was now or never. Using the different techniques of Tae Kwon Do she had learned, she kicked her aggressor in the stomach with her foot and, at the same time, broke his wrist with an agile blow. The revolver fired and Lois fell to the ground, astonished. A little stream of blood was running from her right shoulder. The bullet had skimmed her skin without any serious damage. But, taking advantage of Lois' injury, Freeman hastened to pick up the revolver and pointed it at her.
"Now, Miss Lane, I hope you are praying fervently because your time has come."
Lois closed her eyes, waiting for her death, and the weapon fired. A couple of seconds passed before she realized a voice was calling her name.
"Lois, Lois, open your eyes, everything's fine."
She opened her eyes and the scene she saw before her made her strength come back a bit. Superman was there, once again he had arrived at the right time. He had seized the gun and had crushed it as if it was nothing but a vulgar insect. He had tied the bandit with some of the computers' electric wire. Freeman looked Crestfallen, sad and surprised all at the same time. Lois heard the far away police siren growing nearer and nearer and she couldn't restrain a grin.
"So, Mr. Freeman, it seems that it's YOUR time that has come. Superman, thank you very much for your help, but I would have been able to take care of that by myself."
"Lo-is," said Clark. "Let me see your shoulder. It seems a little visit to the hospital would be of some use. I'll tell your husband Clark to join you there."
Lois and Clark exchanged glances, both of them very happy Superman had arrived in time. But Clark was a bit angry with himself because he hadn't be able to stop his wife from getting hurt by the gun. At least, he pondered, the criminal would spend a huge amount of time in jail.
Lois sat on Clark's desk and read the title of the morning newspaper over his shoulder: SUPERMAN CATCHES THE MURDERER OF MIKE HAMILTON. Story by Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
"Congratulations to you. Lois, you know how I hate it when you do things as dangerous as that." He peered at the thick bandage covering her right shoulder. "And I really fear that someday I won't be there to protect you. You should learn not to be that carefree."
Lois didn't answer but hit him amusingly in the stomach. At that moment Ralph approached them which created a look of disgust on Lois' face.
"Lois, Clark, bravo, good article."
"By the way, did you see Jimmy or Perry? They both look very upset by something. To look at them you'd think they'd been hit over the head with something. Perry is more gruff than usual, which is already hard to beat, and Jimmy's asleep on his on his feet. They wouldn't have acted differently if I had told them I was Superman."
Clark flinched a bit, uncomfortable. "Hum, Ralph, it's not that we don't appreciate your company but we have a lot to do. So thanks for your congratulations and see you later."
With that, he and Lois returned to their computer, ignoring Ralph's protestations. He stayed a few seconds more and then decided his place was somewhere else.
"Lois, I think it's time for my conversation with Jimmy and Perry. Try and find Jimmy and tell him to come into Perry's office. If it's me who goes, he might refuse to come."
"Very well. And can I help with the conversation?"
"Of course. I can't imagine talking to them without your support. And you know I don't have any secrets, from you. Nor from Jimmy and Perry, now."
"Yeah, you're right."
Perry was pacing around the office and Jimmy was sitting before his chief's desk. Both of them were avoiding Clark's gaze.
"Well, I think I should start. Perry, Jimmy, I'm very sorry you had learn my secret the hard way. I would have wished to announce it to you myself, but because of the circumstances I had to do it another way. I know how you must feel. Hurt and humiliated because I lied to you all this time. But it was necessary. If I had do it another way I would have put you in danger and let you in on my problems. I have to admit I was also scared that you would discover my secret and act differently toward me. I'm always the same Clark. Superman is only a part of me. A very small part."
Perry stopped pacing and looked Clark directly in the eyes. After a moment, he spoke in a rough voice.
"I have to crush my pride but I think I finally understand you, my boy. It's true it must have been a heavy secret to bear. And I'm sorry about my reaction yesterday. I was a bit shocked I'll try not to treat you differently and you can be sure your secret is safe with me."
"Very good, Chief. And you can continue to shout at me any time you want!!"
"By Elvis's cape, I'm happy about that!!"
The three friends looked at Jimmy who was still silent and had been since the beginning of the conversation.
"Well, Jimmy, what do you think about what I said?"
"I thought you were my friend and now I'm not so sure. I thought you could tell anything to a friend."
"That's right. And I made a mistake. I'm not trying to defend myself. I admit I wasn't straight with you. I wish some day you'll be able to forgive me."
"I'll try. I'll try, Clark. But I'll have to get used to the fact that you are Superman. You, the farmboy who pretended to be a bad athlete and an ordinary journalist. That will be hard. When I think of all the excuses you gave when you were leaving to rescue someone. They were really ridiculous!!"
The four friends started laughing heartily. More because they were all relieved than because the joke was funny. They would still need time to adjust, but what Perry and Jimmy had told him made Clark think everything would be fine.
Clark finally managed to stop laughing and said, "Now that we've settled that question, I want to come back to the article we wrote. There's still something that's bothering me in this story."
"So, what is it now, Mr. I'm-never-satisfied and I-see- plots-everywhere?"
"Well in his letter Mike Hamilton said another man seemed to be involved in this, but the police only arrested Freeman. I'm asking myself who this other person was."
"Maybe we'll never know."
Lois and Clark were talking in the guest room in the house of Lois' mother.
"You know, Lois, at the beginning my fears seemed to be well founded but, once I talked about them to Jimmy and Perry, everything seemed to come back to order. I know it'll take time for them to get used to the idea, but I'm relieved."
"You see, I told you that. Stupid guy."
"Lois, if you treat me like a stupid guy I'll have to…tickle you until you ask for mercy."
"Oh, darling, I know something better than that you can do."
And they kissed passionately.
The man closed his cell phone, still walking. The day had been catastrophic. Because of the two reporters, one of his men was in jail and he had no other way to create the computer he dreamed of. His money had gone up in smoke.
At least nobody had found the link between him and Freeman. He would always be able to restart the operation with someone else.
He reached the end of the street and turned the corner. He entered the majestic building before him.
The night guard saluted him when he entered the hall.
"Good evening, Mr. Mayor. You forget something?"
"Yes, Lewis, I won't be long."
And on those words, he entered his office and closed the door behind him.
Whether you liked this story or not, I would be really happy to have your comments about it. Maybe if I have enough comments I will try and write a sequel. Please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond to your letter for sure