By Tank Wilson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: May 2004
Summary: In this rewrite of TOGOM (the episode "That Old Gang of Mine"), Lucy arrives at Lois' apartment
Let's face it, TOGoM variants are like bunnies. They multiply at an alarming rate. As more new fic writers enter the fray, they all have to try their hand at the most rewritten episode of the series ever. And, as for us more 'seasoned' writers, it's always fun to try to find another slightly different take on the scenario. It's a new year, and I just felt I needed to do my TOGoM rewrite for this year. Simple, really.
As always, all characters are trademarked and copyrighted to their respective owners. Any and all comments welcome at TankW1@aol.com.
Lucy Lane brushed her dark hair from her eyes as she searched for the keys to her sister's apartment. She was a bit nervous. It was quite late and Lois didn't know she was coming. She had spent several months in California trying to find herself, but had missed Metropolis. She hadn't planned on coming back for a couple of more months yet, but had just decided on the spur of the moment to come home.
She hoped she wouldn't freak Lois out coming in so late like this, and without any advanced warning. She'd called when she landed at the airport but Lois hadn't been home. She and her yummy partner had probably been out investigating a story.
She finally got her key into the lock and slowly pushed the door open. Apparently Lois still wasn't home. It was dark, and none of the chains or extra dead bolts had been engaged. For that Lucy was grateful. She hadn't wanted to have to pound on the door so late at night in order to wake Lois, though she was curious as to what her sister was doing out so late. A wry smile turned up the corner of her mouth. Maybe she'd finally gotten some sense and was, at that moment, ravishing her gorgeous partner at his place.
She was reaching for the light switch when suddenly she became aware of a sound coming from the living room. It was soft and hard to hear, but someone was in the apartment, in the dark, and they were sobbing.
"Hello, Lois, is that you?" Lucy called out into the darkness.
"Who's there?" The voice that answered was weak and had a waver in it.
"It's me, Lucy. Lois, what are you doing sitting in the dark?" She reached back and flipped the switch for the wall sconce near the front door. The rest of the apartment was still without illumination, but there was now enough light for Lucy to get a look at her sister. "Omigod! Lois, what's wrong?" Forgetting her bags, she rushed over to her sister.
Lucy gasped as she took in the forlorn, disheveled woman sitting on the edge of her couch. Lois had clearly been out during the evening since she was still wearing a stylish red dress. But now it looked almost as if she had slept in it. Her hands were shredding a tissue. A large pile of similar tissues littered the floor in front of her. The half empty box was next to her on the couch. Lois' face was tear-streaked, and her eyes were red and puffy from what had obviously been a long crying jag. She knelt down in front of the distraught woman and gently began to wipe her sister's cheeks with her thumbs. She was aghast. Lucy had never seen Lois this upset before. Not even when their father had walked out for good.
Feeling the hot prick of her own tears beginning to form in the back of her eyes, Lucy had to take a breath before she could speak. "It's okay, Lois, it's me, Luce. Can you tell me what's wrong?"
Lois bit down on her lower lip and shook her head back and forth, her lank hair swaying with the movement. "It's not okay. It will never be okay again." Her voice confirmed the pain that was evident in her face and tears. "Clark's dead."
"What!" Lucy was shocked. How could something like that happen? She moved from the floor to sit next to her tormented sister.
"He died protecting me." Lucy placed her arm around her big sister as Lois' shoulders shook as she began crying again. "It's my fault. I can't believe I'll never see him again."
She couldn't believe what she was hearing. How could Clark be dead? Her mind was a jumble of confused and conflicting thoughts. How was it Lois' fault? Lucy pulled her sister's head down to her shoulder.
"Oh, Lois." She gave her sibling a squeeze. "What happened?"
Lucy heard Lois sigh then sniff back another tear. She then felt Lois gather herself and pull away. Taking a deep breath and wiping at her cheeks with the back of her hand, Lois faced her sister. Lucy's heart went out to the miserable woman sitting next to her.
"Well, there was this illegal gambling club down near the waterfront. We had a tip that Capone and his gang might show up there."
Lois continued as if Lucy hadn't spoken. "Clark wasn't too thrilled about going there. He thought it might be too dangerous. Of course, you know me, no danger is too great in the pursuit of a story." Her words sounded bitter. "Anyway, the tip turned out to be golden as Capone and his cronies showed up." Lois' hands began to wave about as she began to put emphasis on her narrative.
"A well placed burst of gunfire captured everyone's attention as Capone announced that he was now in charge of the gambling club." Lois paused as she took a breath and sighed again. "It was just about then that Dillinger decided that he would hit on me."
"Dillinger? John Dillinger? The gangster?" Lucy was hopelessly confused.
"Yeah, apparently this mad scientist-type decided that it would be a good idea to resurrect long dead gangsters through some cloning process of his."
"Brilliant, huh? So, Clark had to play the macho protector and step between me and Dillinger. Words were exchanged, but before the two of them could do much breast beating Clyde decided to get involved."
Lucy shook her head as she tried to bring her mind back to some level of coherency. "Clyde… Barrow? As in Bonnie and Clyde?"
Lois nodded. "She was there too. So, Clyde pulled his gun and decided to end the argument right then." Another tear escaped from the corner of Lois' eye. "He shot Clark in the chest at point blank range. Killed him right in front of me." More tears started to fall once again. "I don't know what I'm going to do."
"I don't understand." Lucy's bewildered thoughts kept her head spinning.
Lois barked a derisive laugh. "In one *lousy* second I lost my partner and my best friend. And the really sick part of it is that I never realized how much Clark really meant to me… until now. Now that he's gone." Lois angrily tucked her hair behind her ears. "When I think of what the rest of my life is going to be like now, without him, my stomach twists itself into a knot." Lucy watched as her sister raised her eyes to meet her own and stared at her through a veil of tears. "I miss him so much already. How am I supposed to deal with never seeing him again?"
Lucy reached out and grabbed her sister's hand and gave it a squeeze. "I'm sure that things seem pretty bleak right now, but you two are brilliant investigative reporters. I'm sure you'll figure out something."
Lois stared at her sister, she clearly now the one who was confused. "What do you mean?"
Lucy shrugged. "Just that I'm confident that you and Clark will find a way around this."
"What!" Lois pulled her hand out of Lucy's and sprang up from the couch. Her voice rose to a near hysterical level. "Haven't you been listening? Clark was shot down, at point blank range, in front of a room full of people." Her arms began to wave about animatedly. "Capone and his goons dragged Clark away with them. The police haven't even recovered his body yet."
Lucy nodded. "Well, that's an advantage."
Lucy held her hands up in front of her in an effort to calm her agitated sibling. "Look, I know that it seems to the rest of the world that Clark Kent was shot down in that club tonight." Lucy shrugged again. "But it's not as if he's actually dead."
Lois began to pace while tearing at her hair. "Lucy, what are you smoking? Clark Kent, my partner, my best friend and the most wonderful man I've ever known is dead. He was gunned down right before my eyes!"
"I know what you told me, Lois. But it's not like a bullet can actually hurt Clark. After all, he is Superman."
Lois' mouth opened but no words came out. Lucy had to stifle a giggle, it looked so funny. Then the realization struck her. "Omigod," she said. "You didn't know?"
Lois closed her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. When she opened them again her eyes blazed into Lucy's. "Are you trying to tell me that Clark was… is Superman. Is this your idea of a sick joke?"
Lucy was momentarily taken aback by the vehemence of Lois' reaction. She licked her lips as she tried to order her thoughts. She was going to have to tread carefully with this. Her sister had obviously not known what Lucy had assumed she had known, and she was now clearly on the edge.
"Lois, just think about it. It makes sense."
"Makes sense!" Lois began to pace faster. "Clark was a warm caring person who went to baseball games with Jimmy and watched videos with his too- stupid-to-realize-how-she-felt partner till all hours of the morning. Superman is a super hero. He's the guy who holds up broken bridges and saves the world from rouge asteroids." She closed her eyes and spoke in a whisper. "He's the guy who doesn't show up to save his friend." Lois opened her eyes and threw up her hands. "They don't even look alike!"
Lucy's brow rose nearly to her hairline. "They don't?" She chuckled and shook her head. "Let's see, they are both about six foot one."
"They both have similar complexions, dark hair and brown eyes."
Lois pursed her lips. "Lots of people have brown eyes. I have brown eyes. Besides, Clark wears glasses."
Lucy rolled her eyes. "Oh, puleese."
Lois' lower lip stuck out in a pout. "Well, he does."
"And so do you, occasionally."
Lois suddenly took on a defiant air. "Yeah, but what about that costume. Doesn't leave much to the imagination. We can all see what sort of body that Superman has."
"Well, I suppose that's true, but…" A sly smile crossed Lucy's face. "I thought you told me that you once saw Clark in only a towel." Her smile got bigger as she saw a red blush creep onto Lois' cheeks. "If I remember correctly your reaction was hardly indifferent. Something about 'rock-hard abs and chocolate sauce'?"
Lois stopped pacing and faced Lucy. Her eyes began to mist up again. "I know what you're trying to do. You're trying to take my mind off what happened tonight. You think that getting me riled up with this silly talk about Clark being Superman will make me too angry to dwell on what I've lost."
Lucy felt like tearing out her hair. "Lois, just tell me this then." She waited to make sure her sister was listening. "Did you see any blood?"
The two young women stared at each other in silence for several moments. Finally Lois broke the stillness. "No."
There had been no histrionics or emotional outburst in the soft spoken response. Lucy could see the wheels still turning in her sister's head. "Doesn't that seem rather odd? Especially since you said that Clark was shot at point blank range?"
Silence overtook the dimly lit room once again. Lucy felt uneasy as she watched her sister standing there. Lois' face was an emotionless mask for what seemed an eternity, but in reality was only a couple of minutes. Slowly her eyes began to narrow, and her lips drew themselves into a tight line.
"Clark Kent is a dead man."
Lucy's shoulders slumped in defeat. "Lois, I'm sorry that you won't let yourself believe me. That you insist on punishing yourself for something that isn't your fault, let alone actually happened."
Lois shook her head. "No, I believe you. I don't want to because that means that Clark really doesn't care about me the way I thought he did. It means that I've been experiencing the worst pain I've ever felt for a man who has been lying to me for over a year. A man who professed to love me, then took it back, then left me alone to cry over what I thought was his dead body." Lois sighed. "I don't want to believe it but I do. It makes sense. All those times when he's run out on me with only the lamest of excuses. All those miraculous Superman interviews he was able to pull out of his hat." She shook her head sadly. "No, it does make sense." Her eyes glinted with the fire of a growing anger through a mist of fresh tears. "That's why he's a dead man. The next time I see him… I'm going to kill him."
Lucy could see that her sister had just traded one type of pain for another. Lois' pain of loss had been replaced by the pain of betrayal. She had intended to make her sister feel better by forcing her to realize that Clark was Superman, but now she wasn't so sure she had done her any favor.
"Lois, I …" she began.
Lois held up her hand. "No, that's all right. I know that you were trying to help." She sighed as she sat down on the too hard chair opposite the too hard couch. "You know what really bothers me? I never knew. I never put it together. Some investigative reporter I am. My sister, who has met the man only a couple of times, sees right through his 'secret identity'." Lois used her fingers to make the quotes gesture in the air. "While I work next to the man for over a year and don't make the connection. What does that say for my powers of observation? I must really be galactically stupid or something."
Lucy was feeling bad for her sister. She'd never seen Lois doubt herself like this before. "You can't blame yourself. No one else seems to have put it together."
"You did." Lois rubbed her temples then folded her hands in her lap and looked up at Lucy. "So, how did you find out? Was it really that obvious to you?"
Shaking her head, Lucy felt the heat of her own blush of embarrassment. "Actually, it was sort of an accident. I was on the phone and began doodling on some of the pictures of Superman you had around everywhere."
"You drew on my Superman pictures?" Lois shot back, hotly.
Lucy grinned. "Yeah, they were everywhere back then." She nearly laughed out loud at the vexed look on her sister's face. "Anyway, there was this close-up head shot lying on the table, and I began to draw a pair of glasses on it. After I'd done so I was struck by how familiar he looked. Not in the oh-so-that's- what-Superman-would-look-like-in- glasses kind of way. It was a nagging feeling that I'd seen that person, who wasn't Superman, somewhere before." She paused for a breath. "Clark came over a few hours later. You guys were going on a stake-out or something. And suddenly it clicked."
Lois was shaking her head during the whole explanation. "So how come you never said anything to me?"
She shrugged. "I wasn't that sure of myself, and as time went by I thought I might just have imagined it. I did begin to take some closer looks at the pictures you had of both Clark and Superman. Well, the one picture you had of Clark and the hundreds you had of Superman. Truthfully, it was never more than an amusing exercise of my imagination. Shortly after that I moved to California."
"But we talked — on the phone — several times while you were in California. You never once brought it up."
Lucy shrugged again. "I guess I just sort of forgot about it. Besides, by then I assumed that you already knew. After all, it looked like the two of you were beginning to get pretty close."
Lois snorted. "Apparently not that close."
Lucy bit down on her lower lip. It was a Lane woman mannerism. She knew her sister had been through a lot this evening and that she was hurting badly. It was now a different kind of pain than she had been experiencing earlier, but it was no less hurtful. She felt so helpless because she didn't know what she could do for her emotionally injured sibling. She loved Lois dearly, but it seemed that anything she said just made matters worse.
"Lois, I'm so sorry. What are you going to do now?"
The two sisters stared at each other for several moments. Then Lois took a deep breath and stood up. She moved purposely to the phone and, lifting the receiver, rapidly pressed a sequence that she obviously knew well.
"Martha? Sorry to be waking you at this hour. Yes, this is Lois. Please don't talk, just listen. I assume *he's* there now, and if he isn't he probably soon will be. As soon as you see him tell him to fly his shiny red butt over to my place. I'm awake and I'll be waiting. He has a lot of explaining to do." Lois quickly replaced the receiver. She turned back toward Lucy. "Now we wait."
Lucy had to give Clark, or rather Superman, due credit. Within ten minutes there was a knock on the living room window of the apartment.
"It's still unlocked," Lois called out.
The Man of Steel stepped into the room and stood impassively before the two women. Lucy had forgotten what an impressive figure Superman really was. She had to swallow a couple of times and make sure her tongue was still firmly tucked inside her mouth. Two pairs of brown eyes locked onto each other. Lucy knew that she had faded into the furniture as far as the two of them were concerned. She leaned back. This was going to be interesting.
"You requested my presence, I'm here." Superman's expression was sullen. He'd clearly been feeling sorry for himself and it showed.
"Well, at least thank you for that." The acrimony in Lois' voice was like fingernails on a black board.
A pained expression flashed across Superman's face before he was able to smooth his features back to a more stoic appearance. "Look, Lois," he began, his voice beginning to betray some emotion. "I'm sorry if I hurt you. It was never my intention."
"Never your intention?" Lois' voice rose in pitch with each word. And they were off.
Lucy lay back in her bed. It was very late and she should've been sound asleep the moment her head hit the pillow, but she couldn't sleep. She was still too keyed up. The arguments had been passionate and emotional. And had lasted long into the early hours of the morning. Lucy was amazed by all that she had heard that evening.
Lois had ranted about her usual hot buttons of trust and lying. Clark had defended himself with talk about Lois' attitudes toward Clark and Superman and how he wanted to tell her his secret but the time was never right. Lucy had to agree with Clark to a point. She knew that Lois had resented being saddled with the hack from Nowheresville at first, then even after they'd become friends she'd started dating Lex Luthor. The less said about that fiasco the better.
Lois had grudgingly agreed that he might have had a point, but had countered with their partnership since then, and the closeness they had been building. Clark had admitted that their friendship had grown, but had pointed out that Lois had continually made it clear that she was only interested in being friends. That she'd reserved stronger feelings for people like Luthor and Superman. Of course, that had set Lois off. She accused Clark of being petty by calling her superficial. She then pointed out that he was the one who took back his earlier declaration of love when she was ready to explore the possibility that what they shared might be more than just friendship. Which in turn led Clark to say that he'd only said that because he knew that's what Lois wanted to hear.
Lucy could feel a grin stretch her lips as she remembered the thunderstruck looks on the two of them when they both realized how foolish they'd been over the last few months. She had honestly thought at that point things were going to get better and that their obvious love for each other would finally prevail. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
It was then that Lois chose to remember the hours she had spent sobbing over what she had thought was the death of her partner. Fresh tears had come to her eyes and she had angrily accused Clark of not really caring about her. That no one who professed to love another would allow them to have suffered the way she had earlier if he hadn't had to. A few words from him telling her he wasn't actually dead would have spared her a mountain of guilt and a depth of grieving she'd never felt before.
This was where Clark had surprised Lucy. She'd thought that he'd mumble some lame apology based on his supposition that he didn't know that he'd meant that much to her, but he hadn't. Instead he'd hardened his features and spoke in cold, even tones. He'd felt justified in not telling Lois then, because in his mind it would've been better if Lois just continued to believe that Clark had truly died. Both Lois and Lucy had been stunned by those words, but before Lois could explode with an answering tirade of her own he dropped his bombshell.
Superman, and Lucy now realized that Clark had pointedly stayed in costume and had not changed into street clothes for just that reason, pointed out that a room full of witnesses had seen Clark Kent shot and killed this past evening. Not knowing what else to do, he had clutched at his chest and feigned death. Lois had bitterly remarked that he couldn't have grabbed at his shoulder as he fell, no, he had to clutch at his chest.
Clark had merely frowned at her, but the bottom line, as he said, was that there was no going back now. The papers that hit the stands this morning would be carrying the story of how reporter Clark Kent of the Daily Planet had been killed. He may not have suffered any physical injury, but Clark Kent was just as effectively dead, and only Superman remained.
The sisters had then spent several minutes staring at him in shocked silence as the full impact of his words sunk in. Finally, Lois had begun to pace, shaking her head and saying 'no' over and over again. She wasn't about to let Clark stay dead. Not when she finally realized how much she needed him in her life.
Lucy had been glad that their true feelings for each other had finally gotten them beyond the accusations and recriminations. Only now they had to face a bigger problem. Clark Kent had to come back to life.
They all began throwing out scenarios of miraculous recovery. Everything from bullet-proof vests to cigarette cases deflecting the bullet; from substituted doubles for Clark to having him be recloned by Hamilton had been suggested. Nothing seemed to be a feasible explanation. Eventually, they had given up for the night. Everyone was tired and emotionally drained, so Lois made Clark promise to come back once they'd all had some sleep and could think a bit clearer.
Another smile found its way onto Lucy's face. She didn't have a clue as to how they were going to pull it off, but she wasn't worried. If Lois wanted Clark back in her life, she would find a way to make it happen. After all, she was Lois Lane.