By Anne Spear <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: February 2004
Summary: In order to avoid dealing with Clark's death, Lois goes in search of ghosts in this rewrite of "That Old Gang of Mine."
For *years*, I promised myself that I would *not* jump on that TOGOM rewrite bandwagon, but like all "pie-crust promises", it was easily broken. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Sam, Ela, Craig and Dawn for BRing this for me and Jeanne for editing.
So, without any further ado, I present my version of how "That Old Gang of Mine" *could* (not necessarily should) have ended.
"Here, read this."
Perry looked up at Lois who was holding a sheet of paper under his nose. He took the page and asked, "What is this?"
"It's an article that just came over the wire."
Perry read the first couple of paragraphs, then looked back up at Lois. "Our foreign correspondent already submitted an article on this."
"Just finish it, please?" Lois asked, impatiently.
"I don't have to read it. We don't need two articles on the same subject."
"The subject's not important," she insisted. "Please just read it." Lois waited with her hands on her hips while Perry read through the article. "Well?"
"Okay, it's a good article, but we still don't need it."
"No," she sighed. "It's him. It's got his style written all over it. Don't you see it?"
Perry took a deep breath. "Lois, honey…you can't keep doing this."
"Look, I know what you're thinking…"
"But this is nothing like the last time…"
"And I *know* I'm right about this."
"I miss him too, Darlin', but you saw him get shot. You watched those gangsters drag him out of the club. You, of all people, should accept that Clark is dead."
Lois blinked back tears and shook her head angrily. "The police never found a body," she reminded him. "He could still be out there…somewhere."
"Honey, that only happens on soap operas."
"But look at the byline," she continued to argue, pointing at the page on Perry's desk.
"Okay, so this guy has Clark's initials. It's just a coincidence."
"But, Perry listen…"
"No, you listen. We went all through this two months ago and he turned out to be a college classmate of Clark's. *That's* why their writing style was similar and that's *probably* what's happening here, too." When Lois didn't answer, he continued. "I know it's only been six months, but don't you think that Clark would want you to get on with your life?"
Lois took a deep calming breath. "Maybe you're right," she admitted grudgingly. "I've probably just been working too hard. Would it be all right if I take a few days off?"
Perry studied Lois for a moment, trying to decide if she was genuine or just trying to snow him. Deciding to give her the benefit of the doubt, he nodded and watched her leave his office. After all, even Lois Lane would have a hard time finding one freelance reporter, who could be anywhere in the world, in three days.
Lois parked the rental car in front of the Kent farmhouse and got out. She knew she should have called first, but the investigative reporter in her didn't want to warn them of her visit. As she was climbing the porch steps, the front door opened and Martha greeted her with a smile.
"Lois, what a surprise."
"I know I should have called first…"
"Oh, pooh! You're *always* welcome," Martha insisted, giving Lois a hug. "Come on in. As soon as Jonathan gets home, we'll have dinner."
As Martha ushered Lois into the house, Lois felt like she was home. At least what she imagined home would feel like if she hadn't grown up with an alcoholic mother and workaholic father. She'd only been here once before, but everything was exactly as she remembered, including the pictures of Clark at different ages along the mantle. She followed Martha into the kitchen and sat at the table as the older woman finished making dinner.
"Can I help with anything?" Lois offered.
"It's almost done," Martha assured her.
Soon the two were chatting about all sorts of everyday things just like old friends. Before long, they heard the front screen door open and Jonathan calling.
"Martha? Whose car is out here?" He grinned when he walked into the kitchen. "Lois! How nice!" He gave Lois a big bear hug then moved over to Martha to give her a peck on the cheek.
As the Kents and their guest sat down to dinner, Lois sat quietly and listened to the older couple discussing their day, intermixed with teasing comments to each other and her. She soon realized that Perry was right. There was no way the Clark she knew, raised by these wonderful, kind- hearted people, would ever do anything as deceitful as she suspected just yesterday.
After dinner, Lois helped Martha wash and dry the dishes while Jonathan made a pot of coffee. Soon, the three of them were drinking their coffee in the living room, Lois and Martha at either end of the sofa and Jonathan in an easy chair. Eventually, there was a lull in the conversation.
"So, Lois," Jonathan started casually, "you've traveled an awfully long way just for a social call."
Lois smiled at the teasing note she heard in his voice. "I guess I just…I don't know." She couldn't tell them the truth. Now that she realized she'd been wrong, she couldn't get their hopes up, even just a little. This time, she let the tears roll down her cheeks unchecked. "I just miss him so much."
Martha moved closer to Lois and wrapped her arms around the younger woman, pulling Lois' head toward her shoulder. "We know, sweetie," she soothed her, rubbing her back. "We just wish you kids had gotten more time together."
Lois managed to get her tears under control and sat upright again. "It's true what they say…you never know what you had until it's gone. There's so much I meant to tell him but never got the chance."
"Like what?" Jonathan asked.
"Like the fact that *I* called off my wedding because I couldn't stop thinking of *him*."
"Didn't Clark tell you he loved you before you accepted Lex's proposal?" Martha asked.
"Well…yes," Lois admitted.
"Then why didn't you tell him how you felt?"
"I wanted to. I *tried* to, but Clark stopped me and said that he'd made it up just to keep me from marrying Lex. I…suspected he was lying." Lois looked over at Martha. "He *did* love me all along, didn't he?"
Martha placed her hand on Lois' and sighed. "Clark loved you from the first moment he saw you."
"Well then why…"
"Because he was probably afraid that your friendship would suffer if you knew the truth."
Lois felt tears forming again. "I knew I should've gone first," she muttered, mostly to herself. She dashed the tears away and took a deep breath. "I refuse to live in the 'if only'," she announced. "That's how my mother lived her life, and I will not let that happen to me."
"Good for you," Jonathan praised her.
Lois rose from the couch and started to look for her purse. "Thank you so much," she started, looking at Martha, then at Jonathon, "but, I'd better get going."
"Where are you staying?" Martha asked.
"I don't know yet. I figured I'd go back to the interstate and find a motel…"
"Good, you can stay here then."
"Oh, no. I wouldn't want to impose."
"Nonsense. You're Clark's best friend. You have to stay here."
"Well, if you're sure it's no trouble…"
Jonathan rose from his chair. "Since that's all settled, I'm going to check on the new foal." He set his coffee mug on the end table and headed for the back door.
"And I'm going to make up the spare room," Martha decided, leaving her mug on the coffee table as she headed for the stairs.
"Please let me help," Lois said, starting to rise.
"It won't take but a minute. You relax and I'll be right back."
Lois finished her coffee and stood up. She noticed that Martha's mug was empty and took both into the kitchen. When she went back for Jonathan's mug, she happened to glance at the caller ID box sitting on the end table. The name of the last inbound call was displayed as "KEMP, CLINT 407-555- 2336."
Lois felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. Even if this guy *was* a friend of Clark's, as Perry had suggested, that didn't explain why he'd recently called the Kents. This was just too big a coincidence to let go. She recited the phone number to herself over and over again until she was sure she'd memorized it, then went out to the rental car to retrieve her overnight bag. When she returned to the living room, Martha was descending the stairs.
"I feel like I'm still on East Coast time," Lois stated. "I think I'll turn in now."
The next morning, after sharing a cup of coffee with Martha, Lois told her she needed to get back to work. <It's not a complete lie,> she thought with a tiny bit of guilt. The two women left the house; Lois went to the car to put her overnight bag in the trunk and Martha went to fetch Jonathan. The three of them stood in the front yard hugging for the longest time. Finally, Lois broke free. "Thank you…for everything," she said.
Martha took Lois' hand and squeezed it lightly. "Oh, honey. You know you can come here *any* time, or call if you just need to talk."
"I know," Lois answered. She gave them one more quick hug, then got into the car and started down the driveway.
Jonathan put his arm around Martha as they waved to Lois. Soon she was nothing but a diminishing dust cloud. "I hate lying to her," Martha stated without taking her gaze from the distance.
Jonathan looked down and kicked at the dirt. "We never actually *said* that Clark was dead. We just never told her he wasn't."
Martha glared at her husband, turned away from him and walked into the house. "I need to call Clark," she muttered.
On the way to the airport, Lois thought about the events of the last two days. When she'd first seen that article, written by a freelance reporter with Clark's initials, she was positive it was him. At first, she'd been willing to accept that he'd somehow survived being shot but had amnesia. After all, it wouldn't be the first time he lost his memory.
Yesterday, she'd flown to Kansas with every intention of confronting Clark's parents with her suspicions. The more she'd thought about it during that first night, the more she'd been convinced that Clark had disappeared and changed his name on purpose. She had no idea what he was hiding from, but she had meant to find out, no matter what.
Then, she'd arrived at the Kent farm and been welcomed with open arms. That was *not* the typical behavior of someone trying to hide something. She'd realized that if she told the Kents her real reason for coming all this way, it would just raise their hopes, probably unnecessarily…or they'd just think she was crazy.
She'd finally convinced herself that Perry had been right all along and she should stop chasing ghosts when she'd seen that caller ID. Now she felt like the monkey in the middle with some big secret being tossed overhead just out of her reach. Just how far did this conspiracy go? Even Superman left Metropolis two months after the shooting. Sure, he said goodbye, but he never really gave her a good reason for leaving. "Needs time off" my Aunt Fanny! She'd seen him on the news plenty of times in the past four months. He'd even showed up at that train derailment in Metropolis six weeks ago. If he hadn't been so distant prior to that, she would have asked for his help finding Clark's body. Well, now she had a renewed urgency to find out exactly what was going on.
At the airport, Lois turned in her rental car and found the nearest payphone. She dialed the number and extension from memory.
"Hey, Jimmy. It's Lois."
"Hi! How's the vacation?"
"Fine. Listen, I have this phone number and I need to know if you can get me an address."
"Sure, just let me get into the right search…okay, shoot."
"407-555-2336." Lois opened her notebook and waited with pen in hand.
"Well, I know that 407 is south Florida 'cause that's where my aunt lives…got it! The address is 3765 Tiffany Drive East, Greenacres."
"You've *got* to be kidding me."
"Nope. That's what it says."
"So where is Greenacres, exactly?
"Palm Beach County."
"Great, thanks Jimmy. I owe you one."
"Yeah, yeah. I stopped counting."
Lois snickered and hung up the phone. She gathered her stuff and found the Continental ticket agents. Once there, she traded in her return ticket to Metropolis for a one-way to Palm Beach International Airport, figuring she could then get another one way from Florida back to Metropolis when she was done. She checked her overnight bag then sat at the gate to wait for the flight.
At PBI, Lois collected her overnight bag then found a Hertz counter. During the process of renting a car, she asked directions to Tiffany Drive East in Greenacres.
"Well, I'm not sure about that street," the young woman behind the counter admitted, "but Greenacres isn't too far. Just take Alligator Alley to Southern Boulevard. Make a right onto Southern, then a left onto Jog Road and that will take you right into Greenacres."
Lois thanked her, took the key and went to find the car.
Once in Greenacres, Lois pulled into a combination gas station/convenience store called "Stop 'n Go." She purchased a pack of gum and asked the man at the register if he knew where Tiffany Drive was.
"Oh, sure," he answered cheerfully. "Just make a right outta here, then the next right — that's Todd Road and both Tiffanys are down a piece, before you get to Stark Road."
"Thank you so much," Lois said and got back in her car to backtrack the quarter mile to Todd Road.
Finally, Lois turned the corner onto Tiffany Drive East and found number 3765 right away. It was the first house on the corner, half of a duplex with a driveway wide enough for two cars and a tall pine tree in the front yard. She parked next to a white Honda and turned off her car. She didn't get out right away, but sat there gripping the steering wheel.
<What am I doing?> she asked herself, staring at the dark brown front door. <What would I possibly say to this guy? 'Hi, my name is Lois Lane and I know this sounds crazy but I'm here to make sure that you're not my dead best friend who I was really in love with but too scared to tell him my real feelings.' They'll send me directly to the funny farm for sure.>
Eventually, she let go of the steering wheel and took hold of her resolve instead. <If I don't see him face to face, I will always wonder,> she decided. She got out of the car and walked directly to the front door, ringing the bell quickly before she changed her mind again. She heard a muffled voice inside but couldn't understand the words. Soon the door opened and she stood face to face with a very contrite Clark Kent.
A thousand different thoughts tumbled through Lois' mind all at once. She, however, ignored every one of them and threw her arms around Clark's neck. Clark started to speak, but Lois stopped him with a kiss that conveyed all the relief, all the happiness and all the love she felt at finding him alive.
Clark had been in his office when he heard the doorbell. Even though he wasn't expecting anyone, he welcomed the interruption, since his current article was turning out to be a real pain.
"Be right there," he called and, mostly out of habit, lowered his glasses to see who it was through the door. He was not completely surprised to see Lois standing on his front stoop. He should have known that she'd track him down eventually, especially after his mother's call this morning. <What am I going to say to her?> he thought. <She's *got* to be pissed at me!> Deciding to face the music, he slowly opened the door, but before he could say anything, Lois was in his arms and kissing him as if her very life depended on physical contact with him.
<Yes! He is real!> Lois thought as the kiss went on and on. <He's here; I'm here and I'm never letting go *ever* again!>
Clark finally raised his head and held Lois at arm's length. "I can explain…" he started.
"I don't care how or why or even when," she interrupted him before resuming the kiss to end all kisses.
Giving in, Clark hooked one arm around Lois' waist and lifted her off her feet. He took a step back and closed the front door with his other hand, before letting her feet touch the floor again. He placed his hands on either side of her face then touched foreheads with her. "Lois, we really need to talk," he told her.
"I suppose you're right," she sighed. Clark released her and gestured toward the couch, wordlessly inviting her to sit. She did and waited for him to take the place beside her.
"There's so much I…" she started.
"I know I should have…" he said, simultaneously with her.
"Oh no," Lois stopped him with a hand on his arm. "The last time I let you go first you lied to me. We lost a lot of time because of that and I am not going to let that happen again."
"What do you mean?" he asked her.
"After Lex…died, when we were in front of the new Daily Planet, I was going to tell you that I said no to Lex at the altar *before* Perry and the cops busted in."
"Why did you back out?"
"Because I couldn't stop thinking of you, even as I was walking down the aisle toward him. I was about to tell you that I thought I was ready to explore those feelings further when you told me that you *didn't* love me after all. I couldn't pour my heart out thinking you only wanted to be friends."
"And I lied because I didn't want to ruin the friendship we already had."
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, fighting back the tears yet again. "During the past six months, thinking you were gone, I realized I've missed you far more than just a friend…"
Clark was afraid to breathe; afraid he was expecting too much. "Lois, what are you saying?"
"I'm saying I love you, you lunkhead!" she confessed, swatting him playfully.
"Me?" he teased her, grinning. "You're sure it's me you love?"
"Okay, so it took me awhile to realize it, so?" she retorted, looking away.
Clark took her hand in one of his and gently brought her back to face him. "And I love you," he told her softly. "I always have."
This time, their kiss was soft and lingering. They had found each other and lost that earlier desperation. <Why did we wait so long?> Lois asked herself as she settled into the kiss. <Why did I have to lose him to realize how much he means to me?> Abruptly, she pulled away and looked up at Clark. "Wait a minute. How *did* you survive getting shot?"
"Yeah, that's what I need to explain." He released her hand and stood up, shutting the window shades behind the couch as he rose. Then Lois watched as he moved to the center of the living room and began to spin, faster and faster, until he was nothing but a denim blur. The blur became brighter shades of red and blue and finally stopped as Superman stood in Clark's place with his arms crossed over his chest. He waited for a reaction from Lois. He didn't know what he expected — anger, disappointment, even angst — but he never expected this silent stare. "Lois, please say *something*," he pleaded, sitting next to her again.
"Well, that explains how you survived a gunshot…plus a whole lot more."
"How mad are you?" he asked, tentatively.
"I'm not sure. Can I get back to you on that?"
"Are you okay? You're not acting like I expected…"
Lois rose suddenly and walked into the kitchen. "How did you expect me to act?" she retorted. "Especially after you lied to me."
Superman rose and followed her. "I'm sorry," he apologized, pulling her into a hug. "I wanted to tell you for so long, but I couldn't risk exposure for my parents' sake."
Lois shrugged out of his arms and moved further away. "Not that lie. I understand why you couldn't tell me *this*," she insisted, indicating his costume. "Could you change back? It's hard to talk to you in this." When he'd finished spinning again, she continued. "I have been mourning you for six months — blaming myself for your death and kicking myself for not telling you how I felt before it was too late. Now I find out that you *didn't* die and you've been hiding here all this time! You may be invulnerable but under that cape, you're a coward."
"You heard me." She poked Clark's chest for emphasis. "You ran away rather than just telling me the truth and trusting that we could find a way to bring you back to life together."
"Lois, I am sorry that I put you through that, but…"
"And then, you lied to me as Superman!"
"When did Superman lie to you?"
"When you left Metropolis. You said you needed time off."
"No, I said I needed time away," he clarified.
Lois turned and started to pace. "Off, away, what's the difference? You made it seem as if Superman was as heartbroken at losing his best friend as I was."
"Because I was…"
Lois shopped short and glared at him. "But you're alive! How could you be upset about your own death when you're not really dead?" He raised his eyebrows and just stared blankly at Lois. She shook her head as if to clear it. "You *know* what I mean!"
Clark took a deep breath. He'd known all along that he'd been wrong to run away, but he couldn't think of a way that 'Clark' could have survived *and* couldn't bear the idea of seeing Lois only as 'Superman'.
"*You* are the best friend that *I* lost," he explained softly, taking both of her hands in his and looking deep into her eyes. "I know I should have told you everything." He looked down at their linked hands and took a deep breath. "So, where do we go from here?"
Lois felt tears stinging her eyes again and realized just how silly she was being. She had been willing to fly all the way here to this dinky little town on what Perry tried to convince her was a wild goose chase…and now she was mad at him for being here? That just made no sense. She looked right into Clark's eyes and smiled.
"Why don't we try the West Coast for a change?"
"Are you suggesting…"
"I am not leaving here without you, and you obviously can't go back to Metropolis, so…we'll just have to find a new place to live together."
"Lois, I can't ask you to do that. You won't be able to see your family or friends ever again."
"You're not asking. I don't really *have* any close friends, except you, and as far as my family goes…I will *always* choose you over them." She felt a pang of regret about never seeing Lucy, Perry or Jimmy again, but knew that staying with Clark was far more important to her.
"Are you positive? *If* we do this, there's no changing your mind."
"I already know how it feels to live without you. I don't *ever* want to do that again." She let go of his hands and wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her cheek on his chest. "Besides, we still have your parents and they're worth ten of mine."
Clark closed his arms across her back and laid his chin on her head. "Do you realize *how* much I love you?" he sighed. He smiled warmly, content to just hold her for now. Packing, planning and quitting his job could wait…he wasn't going to let her go ever again.
"And maybe with my new name, I could cut my hair short, too."
"I would love you no matter how you look," he assured her, kissing the top of her head.
She pulled away just far enough to look up at Clark. "Even if I dyed it red?" she teased.
She reached up, took the glasses off his face and studied them for a moment. "I can't believe I was fooled by these for so long."
"You and a lot of others. So, what new name would you like to use?"
"I don't know. I am tired of redundant initials…maybe Lorraine, um…"
"Why, Clint. Are you asking me to marry you?"
Yes, Lorraine. I do believe I am."
They shared another lingering kiss, softer and longer than the last one, still standing in the middle of the kitchen.
When they finally stopped, she sighed. "How could I possibly say no to *that*?"
*Three years later*
"Chief, you gotta' read this…"
Perry looked up at Jimmy holding a small paperback novel. The cover artwork showed a couple, both in business suits. The woman's skirt was too short and tight to be practical and she seemed to be peeling her jacket off to reveal a tight, low-cut blouse, as Fabio with black hair watched intently. "Love's Afternoon Edition" was scrawled across the top in headline typeface. The author's name, Loni Keller was on the bottom.
"Sorry, Jimbo. That's really not my style."
"Romance novels? What are you doing reading that dribble?"
"No. It's not mine, it's Penny's. But listen, it's about these two reporters who are forced to become partners and she becomes engaged to this really rich and powerful guy who turns out to be a criminal, and her partner gets the proof to put him away for good 'cause he's loved her from the first moment he saw her, but the fianc‚ kills himself before the police can arrest him." Perry's blank stare told Jimmy that he wasn't seeing the connection. "C'mon! It's got Lois and Clark written all *over* it!"
Perry rolled his eyes. "Lord," he pleaded heavenward, "not again!"