By Kermtzu <email@example.com>
Submitted: July 2007
Summary: Lois punishes Clark for his deception of a secret identity, but who is really suffering? A sequel the fanfic to "Keeping up with Lois."
Author's note: Words in ** denote emphasis
This is a follow-up to my story "Keeping Up With Lois." I suggest reading that story first, or have a heck of an imagination to fill in the gaps!
Lois fidgeted in her seat. "Anguish of the Heart" was playing on the screen. *She* was anguished at having to sit through it as part of her payback to Clark Kent. After learning he'd deceived her with his secret life as Superman, she decided to put down a few conditions (okay, quite a few conditions) before she could forgive him. Maybe.
One of those conditions was his mandatory attendance at every chick flick she could drag him in to see. At the time, it had seemed like the perfect punishment for a man, even the Man of Steel, but Lois had a problem. She, too, hated chick flicks. With a passion. She had more than enough passion for life to have to watch more of it on the big screen. She would much rather watch the latest action film. Car chases and explosions— that was Lois' idea of a good movie. Who cared if there were holes in the plot big enough to *drive* a car chase through. Action. Lois wanted action.
So here she was, sitting through "Anguish of the Heart." To punish Clark. The two- faced, one-bodied and two-outfitted weasel was going to pay for not trusting her with his secret, even if it killed her. She wished no one ill (except perhaps for her partner) but how she longed for a cry of "Help! Superman!" to rescue *her*.
Clark had his head inclined slightly (in Lois' direction, of course) and used his x-ray vision to watch the great action film the next screening room over. By filtering his hearing, just as he did to listen for cries of help, he could listen to that film as well. Lois was fidgeting and squirming in obvious discomfort. Ha!
He had been protesting mightily each and every film Lois had chosen, knowing that his protestations would cause her to continue with her punishment. No sympathy from Lois! For each film he "suffered" through, there had been a much better movie on either side in the multi-theater complex. He had seen pretty much every action film put out in the last three months, while Lois was stuck with her dramas of unrequited love, requited then lost love, and unrequited, requited, then urequited love brought about by betrayal, a long, drawn-out and sappy death scene, or a principal character struck down by amnesia. How corny could the writers be?
For the rare times that there were no new films on either side, Clark allowed his eyes to glaze over and his photographic memory to kick in. He was currently re-reading "Emma" by Jane Austen, with "To Kill a Mockingbird" next on the reading list. Filtering out the sobs of distraught heroines on the screen was simple to a man who'd had to filter out most sounds around him for years.
He slid his arm around Lois, having found that she didn't protest when he did so. The human contact seemed necessary to keep her sane through the film, or at least awake. He was going to push for holding hands during the next film, which by his reckoning, would be the latest in a line of Oscar contenders and thus pretty much unwatchable. "Dreams Lost" would be shown at the same time as "Brock Unholstered." He couldn't wait.
They walked back to Lois' apartment, Clark forcing himself to drag a bit and wear a hangdog expression. It was difficult. He'd really enjoyed that movie! "Anguish" had finished with a grand total of three drawn-out deaths and two weddings, making it a chick flick for the ages.
Lois pretended to have enjoyed it, chattering on about key points in the film, but she kept mixing up characters and events. Who could keep track without a scorecard, and more importantly, who would want to? She'd been ready to jump into the film and put the long-suffering characters out of their misery as mercy killings — for the audience.
It was Lois' turn to get take-out, so when they reached her apartment she zipped off after seeing Clark in. Clark had to clean her apartment as part of Lois' retribution. Time to get cracking.
At superspeed, he zipped through the apartment. First he scrubbed grout, tile, chrome and porcelain to a shine. Then he buffed wooden surfaces to a gloss. Using his enhanced vision, he gathered each and every speck of dust. Able to see down to almost the molecular level, it wasn't that difficult to do. He had a bag into which he put every crumb, every dust mote and every loose hair. After filling it to the brim, several ounces worth, he slowed as he heard a swoosh announcing Lois' arrival. Yum. Smelled like Thai.
Lois entered the room and was dazzled. Her apartment sparkled. Literally.
Clark held out his bag of dust with eyes downcast. He knew he couldn't face Lois without busting into laughter.
"Here, Lois. Here's all the dust from your apartment. I'll get the dust every day, okay?"
Lois gulped. This was much more than she'd bargained for. "Oh, Clark, I wouldn't want to put you out," she said in a sickly sweet voice.
Clark was ready. "No, Lois, I insist. It's the least I can do for not trusting you. I'll be over every morning at six to clean up, and I'll fly you home each night after work for a second round."
Lois smiled. Sickly. It wasn't sweet at all.
Martha smiled at her future daughter-in-law. Oh, there was nothing official yet, Lois and Clark being too pigheaded and unable to see what was in front of them; but Martha knew. She just knew. Lois was the daughter she'd never had, and loved Lois with all her heart. Things now were so different from the early years of her marriage to Jonathan, the love of her life. Then she'd been heartbroken, unable to have a child, and now she had *two* wonderful children. Even grandchildren somewhere off in the future — all her dreams of being surrounded by large family were coming true.
"Thanks so much, Martha, for helping me with this idea. Clark has mentioned it a couple of times and I'm ready, but I want it to be a surprise."
Martha chuckled, "It sure will be, Lois! I love the idea and the design, and I know Clark will, too."
"Do you think he knows anything?"
"Oh no, honey. Clark doesn't listen in on conversations of friends and family. If Clark needs to hear something, he's knows that we'll tell him."
Just then Clark came in, stamping his feet from the snow. He and Jonathan had been putting the animals into the barn for the night.
"What do I need to know, Mom?" Martha looked down at her needlepoint with a smile, while Lois looked up at the ceiling, whistling a tuneless ditty.
"Okay, now I'm nervous. What are you two planning?" asked a concerned Clark.
"Nothing you need to worry about, flyboy. Your Mom and I are working on something that doesn't involve you."
Clark frowned. "Okay, *flygirl* — I'll mind my own business for now."
"How about citygirl? I've been *farmboy* ever since you've known me, Lois."
Lois glared. "Neither is acceptable, Mr. If-I'd-told-Lois-in-the-first-place-I-wouldn't-be- in-trouble-now."
Clark suppressed a snicker. He was enjoying his punishment far more than Lois was in meting it out. He'd love to stay in 'trouble' like this for quite a while. Besides, against all his expectations, Lois was running out of original insults.
"Whatever you say, Lois."
"Darn right, Clark. Now, if you wouldn't mind, I'd love some Swiss hot chocolate. From Switzerland."
"You're the boss, Lois. Mom? How about you?"
Martha knew what Lois was doing. The two conspirators needed some more time with Clark elsewhere.
"That sounds wonderful, honey. Why don't you make it four? Bring your Dad in when you get back; he'll be in the mood for something hot."
With a wry shake of his head, Clark was off with a swoosh.
"Okay, Martha, here's the color scheme I've chosen…"
Superman was rounding up criminals by the dozen. Some crime boss had evidently been thinking beyond 'grab a gun, threaten the populace, and make off with the loot' and put into play a new scheme — have a dozen or more criminals act individually at exactly the same time at equidistant locations across Metropolis. Like a school of fish, some might be caught, but many would escape. In theory, at least. Superman was zipping around the city grabbing petty crooks as he heard each siren, police whistle or cry for help. After six captures, he had a pretty good idea what was going on, and had resigned himself to playing tag until all malefactors were rounded up. Disarming each, he'd been placing them into an empty high-walled enclosure in the Metropolis Parkside Zoo until he could have the police carry them all off.
Carrying his eighth criminal over, he heard a sonic boom nearby. Lois must be back from wherever she'd gone this morning. Rarely did the two of them have the same weekend off, and he'd been disappointed at not having her to himself for two days. It was good to hear her come back. Maybe they could go out to dinner after the last round-up of the multi-criminal crime wave.
Dropping off his latest catch into the group of unhappily-penned criminals, Superman was astounded to see another flying form approach, carrying yet another thug. His eyes had barely caught sight of what had to be Lois before his jaw dropped.
Facing him in mid-air was a new superhero.
Clad in a white bodysuit, black cape, gauntlets and boots, she also had a gauzy blindfold over her eyes. A quick flash of x-ray vision confirmed it was Lois.
"What — what—"
She just smiled, enjoying seeing his reaction.
"There are more fish in the sea, Superman. Let's finish up, and we can talk."
Faster than he'd thought possible, Clark grabbed the last several crooks, noticing that Lois was doing the same. Zipping around the city, the two finished off cleaning up the failed crime spree in a matter of minutes. One quick visit to the police and two police wagons later, Clark pointed up. He and Lois flew up above the clouds to talk.
Having found his voice, he said, "Nice costume, Lois! Now I know what you and Mom were planning."
Lois basked in the praise. "Oh, this old thing? Just something we threw together."
Able now to study her more closely, Clark noticed the stylized "J" on her chest. Ah, her chest. All his regrets at the tightness of spandex evaporated.
"'J,' Lois? I know you didn't like the name Superwoman, but I thought you'd pick something like Ultra Woman, Speed Demon or the like."
Lois rolled her eyes. He thought. Tough to tell beneath the blindfold.
"Puh-leez! Ultra Woman? Superwoman is too derivative, but Ultra Woman?" She mimicked gagging. "The J stands for Justice! You know, Lady Justice? Do you like the blindfold? Conceals my identity, since I've never worn anything like your removable dorky glasses, and Justice fits in nicely with what we do. Truth and justice, all that jazz. You don't lie, except to *me*, so you can be Mr. Truth and I'll handle the *justice*." She punctuated this with a giggle, destroying the semi-serious moment.
Clark realized she'd have to work on the babbling while in costume. It was a dead giveaway. "How do you see through the blindfold?"
She stared. "Hello! X-ray vision? I just keep it working while I wear the costume. Sort of a one-way mirror."
Clark smiled at Lois' work. Justice. It fit her. Her writing and desire to right wrongs in print were legendary. Now she could physically right wrongs as well.
He could still give her some grief, however.
"I like it. I really do. But doesn't Justice carry a scale?"
"Oh, don't be silly! What would I do, throw it like bolas?"
"Oh. Right. Couldn't throw a balance around. I guess that leaves out the sword, as well."
"Aha! I thought you'd never mention that! Check this out."
Lois did his spin (should have patented that, he thought) and then slowed. In her hand she held a sword. Where did she get that? He goggled at the sight.
"Um, Lois? I'm not sure you want to use a sword. You already wield a weapon, your pen, when you write — and you know, 'The pen is mightier than the sword'."
"Cla— Superman, I'm waaaay ahead of you there. Meet Pen. That's what I've named it. Pretty cool, huh? I popped into space and found that same asteroid and material you used to make my Christmas tree star. I whittled this into shape with my bare hands and heat vision, and this is one tough sword. I think it's unbreakable, and I've been practicing. Check this out — en garde!"
With that, she flicked the sword about, none too gracefully. A close sweep by Clark's head sliced off a lock of hair, which they both watched as it fluttered slowly down to earth.
"Oops. Guess the aura thing extends along the sword, huh?"
Clark struggled with his expression. "Perhaps this is a good reason to think again about using a sword?"
"Oh, pish posh. So I need more practice. How good do I have to be when I've got superspeed? Hey, hear that alarm below? Guess one of the crooks has a slow watch. Come watch this!"
She flew downwards with a boom. Now it was Clark's turn to roll his eyes. He trusted Lois, but these powers were still new to her. He had to make certain that no one was accidentally injured.
He found Lois facing a stunned crook. Clark had to force his eyes away from her costume, so she wouldn't have two men ogling her.
"Snicker snack!" Lois said, as she shifted into superspeed. Before Clark could even react, Lois flicked her blade here and there. Imperceptible to the thief, he watched with amazement as Lois used Pen to trim all ten of the thief's fingernails. Bits of nail went flying everywhere.
Coming out of superspeed, Lois watched as the crook stared, unaware of what had just happened. Clark could see the fine lines where the nails had been cut, with no damage to the fingers themselves. Lois was absolutely correct. With superspeed, accuracy could take a back seat — in the next county over. He and Lois were able to move hundreds of times faster than any normal human being. A precise and careful movement for her was still a blur to normal vision.
The petty thief finally noticed his fingernails were neatly trimmed. Lois tilted her sword in his direction.
He promptly fainted away.
Lois sighed in frustration. Clark was taking his duties with her laundry a bit too seriously for her liking. He had first arranged her clean clothing by shades of color. *That* was unacceptable. A woman had to sort through her outfits in some undiscernable pattern. Men just didn't understand. She'd had to nip that in the bud.
Now he'd put everything away by designer label. Alphabetically.
Ugh. What next? Was he going to lay out her outfit each night for work the next morning?
Her underthings were always packaged neatly from the dry cleaners, however. Clark was obviously uncomfortable handling those, so he had it done. It was too cute, actually. It didn't make up for his anal retentive and obsessive compulsive clothing storage habits, though. Maybe it was time to let him off the hook — for laundry, at least? Goodness knew, she was ready to end the chick flicks. One more of those and she'd storm Hollywood and talk to a few movie producers. If no more of those films were released on an unsuspecting public, then she wouldn't be trapped into another to punish Clark.
Grumbling, she put away her clothes. The right way.
Lois and Clark were spending another late night researching. Their latest story, an exposť of a pharmaceutical company passing off sugar pills as actual medication, was coming together nicely. Some of these medications were for people with heart conditions and other serious medical concerns, and the two were furious at the deception. At times it was difficult to put distance between the story and personal feelings. Clark felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment at this story, and the good that would result from exposing this crime. No matter how many times he performed a rescue as Superman, he knew that what he and Lois did through their writing helped people just as much. It was what he loved doing, and best of all, it was just him and Lois; no superpowers involved.
There was a knock at the door. "Probably the pizza, Clark. I'll get it," Lois said as she jumped up.
Opening the door, Lois found Lora. The future girl.
"Oh, Ms. Lane! I'm so glad you're here! Utopia is —"
Lois slammed the door in her face.
"Just a door to door salesperson, Clark."
"Lo-is! Did you have to slam the door in their face?"
"Clark, there is no need to encourage these people. Rejection after rejection will force them go out and find a real job, and become productive members of society." With that, they bent their heads once again to the mounds of paper and testimonials. Clark sure wished that pizza would get there soon.
Perry came out of his office, excitement on his face. "Lois! Clark! Robbery in progress at the LexGas station on M-42, just outside of town. Possible hostages!"
Lois jumped up. She and Clark had just heard the police communication themselves, and decided that they weren't both needed. "On it, Chief!"
Looking pointedly at Clark, she said with a slight frown, "Now, no peeking when I spin on the roof, Kent. I caught you looking the other day when we responded to that fire in Gotham City."
Clark sputtered. "Lois, I did no such thing!"
"I did not!"
"Clark, I saw you!"
"Ha! How did you see me, Lois? That means *you* were looking!"
Lois shook her head. That comment was ridiculous. She would *never* stoop — well, hardly *ever* stoop —"
Clark reminded her, "Lois? The robbery?"
"We're not done with this, Kent! We'll just have to take turns to spin when we fly out, and you'll turn your back, or else!"
"Ladies first, Lois."
"No way, flyboy! I'm faster than you, so you'll go first."
Perry stood and stared. Whatever the two were arguing about in hushed tones, it wasn't getting the story written any faster.
"Um, if you two have something more important to work out, why don't I send out Olsen instead?"
"Hey, on my way, Chief!" exclaimed Jimmy.
"Why not take Lois along, Jimmy? She could use some experience at how a reporter operates during a breaking story, " drawled Perry.
Chastened, Clark looked down while Lois and Jimmy rushed out. He allowed himself a grin, thought — good luck to Lois in losing Jimmy so she could do her part in ending the robbery as Justice. Let her see just how difficult it was to come up with an excuse!
Ditching Jimmy wasn't difficult, as the cub photographer had forgotten film and was running to a nearby convenience store to purchase a roll for his camera. Smugly, Lois spun into her Suit and reached for Pen.
She came away with a red boot in her hand. Frowning, she spun again, dropping the boot while reaching once again for Pen.
Now she had the right boot. Darn it, Clark!
'Oh well, might as well use the tools you have,' thought Lois.
"Lois, do you have something to tell me?" asked Clark when Lois returned.
Lois looked at a fascinating spot on the Daily Planet wall just past Clark. "What, Clark?"
"After you left, I had to respond to a building collapse in Central City. When I spun, guess what I *didn't* find?"
Lois thought for a moment. "A hideous tie?"
"Gosh, I can't imagine, Clark. What didn't you find?"
"My boots, Lois! I couldn't find my boots — I had to help out in my bare feet!"
Lois was indignant. "It's not my fault if you can't keep your stuff on your side of … of … wherever it is that stuff goes. I wanted Pen, and instead I got a pair of dirty old boots."
Clark frowned, "And of course, you couldn't just put them back, could you Lois? I hear that would-be gas station robber won't be sitting comfortably for weeks!"
Lois smiled beautifully at him. Darn it. Everything she did, she did beautifully.
"Bruises heal, Clark. I just put the boot to use as best I could imagine. A swift kick may do more than any jail sentence to a crook."
Clark shook his head. Keeping up with Lois was getting to be more than he could ever have imagined.
Lois was getting tired of punishing Clark. They'd spent Friday night shopping for clothes, with him standing by meekly as she tried on outfits. Saturday saw Clark doing her laundry, and here they were at a matinee on Sunday watching yet another chick flick. She missed spending fun time with Clark. He'd always stood up to her in the past when he felt it was warranted, but he was now just taking his lumps with no complaints, merely giving in to her whims. The worst of it was that she'd painted herself into a corner, and had no idea how to free him (and herself) from his penance. He was doing everything she dished out, and she was tired of it. She wanted and itched for a good fight. Not a meek doormat. She sighed, and looked over at him. As usual, he was glancing at her, no doubt trying to escape the histrionics on the screen.
Wait a minute…
He might be looking in her direction, but he wasn't looking at *her*.
She glanced over. Was there some cute woman the heel was scoping out? Ooh, he was in trouble now!
Hmm. No woman, cute or otherwise. Just some guy that reminded her of Clark's landlord, Floyd. He was crying into a napkin. Good grief.
So what was Clark looking at? There was nothing else in that direction but the wall of the theater…
She narrowed her eyes, and used her x-ray vision. "Brock Unholstered" was playing in the next theater. A massive explosion in the film, caused by three cars colliding in mid- air, resulted in a muttered "Cool!" from Clark.
She whipped her head over to Clark, who noticed the glare of doom emanating from her lovely brown eyes, which now somehow appeared red.
"Hey, Lois — want more popcorn?" asked Clark, who exited hastily without awaiting an answer. He was no idiot.
Lois followed as quickly as she could without raising suspicion of superhuman speed.
She looked over at the young woman tending the concession stand. "Did you just see a man run into the lobby?" She'd check the bathrooms next, if she had to.
The young woman gulped at Lois' fierce glare. "I sure did — he ran out of the theater like his pants were on fire!" She shivered as Lois flashed out the double doors. Whoever that poor guy was, the clerk figured the police would need dental records or that garish tie to identify the body.
Lois didn't bother to change into her Suit, but instead shot into the sky. That rat might fly off, but she was faster. There was nowhere on Earth or in the solar system he could hide!
She found him hovering over the clouds above Metropolis. Laughing. He was laughing!
"Oh, Lois, if you could have seen your face! All these weeks of laundry, grout, chick flicks and shopping have been worth it for that look alone!"
Lois floated slowly toward him. It didn't matter to Clark. He couldn't stop laughing.
"Do you know what I'm going to do to you, Kent?" she asked, pinning him with her gaze.
Clark couldn't even choke out an answer due to laughter as Lois neared. No punishment she devised could ever spoil this moment. He'd beaten Lois at her own game.
"LAX, this is LexAir 437 out of Boston, cruising at 30,000 feet. All systems nominal."
"Roger, 437. Good flying — ETA 3 hours and 17 minutes."
"Roger that, LAX. See you in… What the heck?"
"437, what is it? Do you request assistance?"
"Uh, no, LAX. Must have been ball lightning. Startled me for a moment."
"Glad to hear there's no trouble, 437. See you. Over and out."
Captain McKenzie wiped his brow. He had a good job, great benefits, and he loved flying. Was he going to jeopardize all that by saying that he'd seen a man and woman kissing 30,000 feet in the air?