By Laura S. <email@example.com>
Submitted October 2007
Summary: Just when Clark Kent thought the road to Lois' heart was clear, a new man swings onto the scene. Peter Parker, more famously known as Spider-man, has taken a job at the Daily Planet and set his sights on Lois Lane. And that leaves one seriously ticked off Superman.
I started this fic ages ago to answer a challenge that I've since lost the link to. The challenge was, *I think*, to see how other superheroes would react to Lois Lane… Or something along those lines anyway. Since my love prior to Superman was Spider-man, I jumped at this chance to write them together. I know it's quite blasphemous… Marvel and DC together?! But in my happily situated imagination, New York City and Metropolis now peacefully exist in the same realm. I've played a little fast and loose with the Spider-man continuity; in this fic Peter Parker is sometimes dating Mary Jane Watson, but she doesn't know he's Spider-man. Coincidentally, this takes place around the Phoenix, so Clark Kent is also sometimes dating Lane Lane, who doesn't know he's Superman! I wrote most of this on a whim, but I hope you'll enjoy it anyway. You don't have to be a big Spider-man fan to understand, and most of the story is Lois and Clark's point of view anyway.
Thanks to Sara Kraft for being my GE for this story.
The day that Peter Parker swore up and down would never happen occurred on a rainy, altogether normal Tuesday. He woke up, sent two would be muggers on the path of righteousness… okay, to the police precinct, checked on his on again, off again girlfriend Mary Jane, and came in to barter Spider-Man pictures at the Daily Bugle.
And that was when his world tilted crazily and spun backward on its axis.
Because his editor, J. Jonah Jameson, had suddenly been taken over and replaced by an alien. It was the absolutely only explanation that fit. Because there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that Jameson would have given Peter such responsibility if he had been himself. Peter was still puzzling this as he was shoved out of Jameson's office. Jonah's secretary watched him blink for a few moments before finally snapping her fingers.
"Pete? Wake up."
"Hmm…?" He mumbled, not focusing.
"Pete?" She questioned him again, a little more forcefully. It seemed to jar his thoughts, and Peter ran a hand through his brown hair.
"Sorry, Betty, I was a little out of it. I have to go."
With that, Peter broke off abruptly and walked off, his mind a million miles away from the Daily Bugle. Or rather, a couple hundred miles away from New York. Instead of the Big Apple, Peter's mind and body were already high in the air, hurling on a straight path toward Metropolis.
Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Lois Lane was on the warpath and Clark Kent was in the doghouse.
"I told you, it was… a special deal. I had to leave, Lois," Clark followed her to her desk, a plaintive note in his voice. It was rather pathetic, but it really did make him look cute enough to nearly assuage her anger… But no! No, she firmly reminded herself. Leaving her on the stakeout had been unforgivable. Especially with the lame excuse he had given her. The same excuse he was reiterating right now. She had to nip that in the bud before she really let loose her anger.
"Special deal, Clark? What are you, a drug dealer?" Lois rolled her eyes and shoved him slightly. "Just leave me alone."
"It was the sale at Wal-Mart. I promised my mom I'd go get her the latest Harry Potter. You don't know how many little kids and old ladies I had to beat off with sticks…" Clark weakly trailed off, realizing how stupid he sounded. He really needed to get a little better at this on the spot lying. After practicing it for two years, he would have thought he'd have been an expert.
Nope. Still as lousy as day one. He supposed that should grudgingly be a compliment to himself, but he refused to take it. Harry Potter? Jeez. No wonder Lois looked like she wanted to throttle him these days.
Lois had turned around slightly, facing her computer and away from him. Frowning at this rejection, Clark grabbed her chair and spun her toward him. "Please, Lois…" His voice died as he caught the hard sheen of tears in her eyes. She blinked them away, causing a strange tightness in his throat.
"Go to hell, Clark Kent."
With that, she roughly yanked his hand off her chair and spun resolutely back to her monitor. All teasing thoughts and impulses left Clark's body as his mind still revolted at the image of tears in her eyes. Tears that he helped put there. Quietly, Clark stood up and moved to his desk, wishing the world would open at his feet and swallow him whole.
Peter pushed open the doors to the Daily Planet and took a steadying breath. Triple J had trusted him with his assignment. If he botched it, he'd never hear the end of it. Jonah would lower his payments for Spider-Man pictures ridiculously low. Mr. Ditkovitch was already this close to evicting him from his apartment as it was…
Nope, Peter Parker had a lot riding on this relationship with Lois Lane. Somehow he had to manage to get her, one of the Planet's best and most tenacious reporters, to open up to him and simultaneously reveal just why the Daily Planet scooped the Bugle so many times when it came to Superman stories. Peter had briefly broached the subject that perhaps it was due to geographical distances more than anything, but Jonah had sent him such a withering stare that Peter had tactfully reverted to a more stoic listener. He should have learned already that no one questioned Jonah's opinions. Peter spent more time than he liked to admit wondering what Jonah would do if Spider-Man decided to sue the Daily Bugle due to libel charges. Unfortunately, that wasn't his task right now.
J. Jonah Jameson had found a new object to obsess over and vilify. Superman, Metropolis' golden boy. And right at the center of the Man of Steel's coverage was the Daily Planet, always scooping the other papers. The Daily Planet, the employers of Metropolis' "Hottest Team in Town." There was Clark Kent, on scene and on location with a startling regularity. And Lois Lane… Peter didn't want to think back on JJ's rant on Lois Lane.
Jonah's primary concerns seemed to range from anger that Lois Lane always managed to get such great Superman quotes and deep suspicion and disgust of the way she "fraternized" with the alien. According to Jameson, Superman was even a bigger freak than Spider-Man.
High praise indeed, Peter thought dryly as he adopted a confident air that wasn't totally his. He had become a bit of a better actor from playing the part of Spider-Man so much. He regularly was forced to adopt a completely different persona as Spider-Man and to leave his real Peter Parker self behind. At times it was liberating, sometimes a mere annoyance and occasionally he loathed himself for the deception. But he knew it was necessary. There were bigger things at stake than his own guilt, Mary Jane and Aunt May, to name the most important two. He would do anything to keep them safe. And if that meant he had to learn how to banter and become a little more confident and suave, he would do it.
Despite the fact that his mind sometimes still screamed at him to hunch down to avoid the phantom flying spitballs and airplane projectiles of his high school memories.
For one of the strongest men on the planet, sometimes he was a real wuss.
Lois really wasn't in the mood to listen to any more of Clark's excuses. She had had it up to here with him being so… him! With Clark's Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde split personality act. It was enough to make any person scream in frustration. Why was he so sweet sometimes?! It made yelling at him a lot more difficult. And then she started to feel like the bad guy, and she absolutely hated that. But right now, she didn't care. Clark Kent was lower than dirt in her estimation. When she felt the male presence at her desk, she let loose her fury. She whirled around, already charged and angry.
"I told you to back o—" Her breath caught in her throat as she took in the man at her desk. He was definitely not Clark Kent. Oh dear. The man looked a little confused and not a little apprehensive at her screech, but he admirably shook it off.
"Hi, Ms. Lane, my name is Peter Parker." The man stuck out his hand.
She really didn't have time for this.
"Hi, Peter. Call me Lois. Was there something you needed?" She had decided to aim for being brusque but pleasant. He deserved it after her banshee greeting. And he really wasn't that bad looking. Her gaze landed past Peter's shoulder and on her partner. He was sitting at his desk, idly snapping a pencil in two.
She had a feeling that if looks could kill, Peter Parker would have been vaporized.
Well *good.* Let him feel a little jealousy! But she had no idea why Clark would assume that Peter had any intentions toward her than merely introducing himself. Clark would have undoubtedly said something cynical to that, and she berated herself for allowing her conscience to morph into a little worrywart Clark Kent.
"I'm a new intern photographer here and I was wondering if you might be free one afternoon for lunch. I'd really just like to get your opinion on the city and the Daily Planet newsroom in general."
If Lois hadn't glanced back at Clark and felt her fury reemerge, she would have given Peter Parker an unequivocal "no way." She didn't have the time to mentor each and every new intern. She had let Clark come under her wing… well, he hadn't really needed mentoring, but it was the thought that counted, and look where she was now with him.
But Clark might be awfully jealous… and after the hell he put her through, he deserved to squirm. Lois pasted a bright smile on her face and nodded enthusiastically.
"I can meet you for lunch, Peter. Thanks for asking."
"That's fantastic! When will you be free? I can work around your schedule as long as Mr. White lets me off as well."
"You busy now?"
Peter stared at her slightly. She was certainly a bundle of energy! It made him long a little for the slightly subdued emotions of Mary Jane, but he hastily brushed those feelings aside. He had an assignment.
"No, not at all."
"Then let's go."
Lois grabbed her coat and followed Peter out the door, surveying him critically.
He was really… average. An average build, an average smile, average everything. Except those eyes. He had really gorgeous blue eyes. In fact, he was so different than…
No! She refused to let herself start comparing Clark's striking body to Peter's… Or to let herself get hung up on the couple inches that Clark had on Peter… Or the way that while Peter's eyes reminded her of… blue icees, Clark's reminded her of chocolate and she always had had a weakness for…
Coming back to reality, Lois strode into the elevator, taking charge immediately.
"There's a new deli I want to try downtown; we'll go there."
Peter just looked at her, bemused and counting his lucky stars that she had agreed to speak with him. She was no Mary Jane Watson, but he had to admire the gleam in her eyes. She was hellfire, pure and simple, and it gave him a little rush to be so near her.
But he'd always enjoyed the quiet power of the stars to the flashy beauty of the sun.
And Mary Jane Watson was pure starshine.
Clark watched Lois and Peter exit the newsroom, trying to come to terms with the situation. How the heck had Lois actually said yes to that man?! He had been ready for Lois to blast Peter across the newsroom for speaking to her.
And Clark had to admit, he had been waiting eagerly for that moment. Then, when that problem had been satisfactorily dealt with, Clark could sweep in to *his* partner's desk and try and beg forgiveness again. Ideally, she'd forgive him and he could take her out to dinner. Worst case, she would yell again and he could slink back to his desk, rejected.
Because both scenarios involved Lois actually speaking to him, he wasn't too upset about either of them occurring. What he hadn't expected was for that new photographer to sweep in and steal her away! Just why had Parker so single mindedly marched to Lois' desk, anyway? What was he after?
Clark's jaw tightened. He abruptly stood from his chair, hell-bent on finding the two of them and demanding for Parker to fess up his true reason for asking Lois out.
"Clark!" Perry White called him over to his office. Clark stiffly turned and walked over.
"Not now, Chief, I really have to—"
"Excuse me, Kent? Who here calls the shots? You go back and sit in that desk. I expect that Carpenter story on my desk by five, cracked open and screaming exclusive."
"But, Chief, I need to—"
"I know exactly where you were heading, Clark, and I'm telling you now, Lois will not appreciate it. Go sit back in that desk and let her be."
Nearly sulking, Clark shuffled back to his desk and sat down, exhaling heavily.
Inside his office, Perry White shook his head and wondered what it was about women that turned even the most level headed guys into raging lunatics. Just then, his phone rang.
"White," he answered abruptly. After a moment of listening, his demeanor changed completely. His smile softened and he sank into his desk chair. "Yes, Dumplin', you choose the movie tonight. Titanic? Well, of course, dear, if that's what you want…"
When Perry hung up the phone a moment later, his silly grin dissolved. Had he just agreed to spend his evening voluntarily watching Titanic?
Hell's bells, he was just as nuts as Kent.
Peter Parker was sweating bullets. When he had accepted the assignment from Jonah, he'd had no idea it would involve dealing with the most insane woman on the planet. From Lois' babbling about her partner, Peter had gathered that Clark Kent was a frighteningly two sided schizophrenic. He wondered if the man had to create a whole other identity in order to distance himself from the tornado that was Lois Lane. He had barely gotten a word in edgewise during their lunch at the deli.
Worst of all, Peter hadn't been able to ask her about Superman and her many exclusives. He inwardly groaned. He suppose it would have been too much to ask for her to readily let him know that she had a signal watch or something that alerted her to Superman's whereabouts or some other easy answer to take back to Jonah.
No, instead of returning to New York to take out some Chinese food with MJ, he was stuck asking Lois for another date.
As Peter was paying the bill, he broached the topic with Lois.
"So, Lois, I had a really great time today. Would you be free for dinner sometime?"
"Peter, you're a really nice guy," Lois began.
Oh no, here it is, Peter thought grimly. The big rejection.
"And that's why I'm going to have to be brutally honest with you." Peter blinked and waited for her to continue.
"I'm pretty sure that if I accept this invitation, I'll be using you to make Clark jealous. So rescind your offer if you'd like. If not, then I accept."
Peter was sure he resembled a deer caught in headlights. Had she actually just *said* that to him? Were these Metropolis women nuts? Was it something in the water that made them so… forward? Brutally honest was right. Pasting on a confident smile, Peter tilted his head slightly and gave her a slow smile.
"I'll pick you up at eight, then."
It was Lois' turn to be shocked. She hadn't really thought ahead of her statement. What self-respecting man would accept her as a date when she told them she was just using him?
A man looking to get laid, Clark's voice resounded in her head, having taken over her conscience again. How annoying to have that boy scout as her Jiminy Cricket. Ignoring him, Lois pressed on.
"Well then, here's my address." Lois grabbed a napkin and scribbled it down. "Don't be late."
With that final parting, she left him alone in the restaurant shaking his head in utter bemusement.
"How was your date with Parker?" A bitter voice growled in her ear as she decorously sat down in her desk chair and wiggled the mouse to clear her screensaver.
"I don't see how it's any business of yours, Clark," Lois said calmly as she checked her email.
She didn't need to look up to see that Clark was beet red and fuming. She really did bring out the worst in him sometimes. Seeing that Clark wasn't leaving, Lois continued to click files on her computer. She called up a word document and started pounding out a lead.
"It was quite nice, Clark."
"We've arranged to have dinner plans together if that tells you anything," Lois responded, her voice dripping in honey.
Clark let loose a sound akin to a snarl.
"Lois, I don't trust him."
"Clark, you don't trust any male who's younger than eighty five around me," she said matter of factly as she studiously avoided his gaze.
"That's because they usually either want to kill you or sleep with you!" Clark nearly shouted. The newsroom quieted somewhat, finding new entertainment in Clark's outburst. It wasn't surprising for Lois to yell and scream, and they had long learned to tune it out, but Clark… Clark was much less easily riled, or less vocal about it anyway. In the corner, Peter Parker was hunched in his seat, feeling miserable.
"Sorry about all of this, buddy," he said under his breath. "She really does like you a whole lot more than me."
Across the newsroom, Clark's head shot up and he caught Peter's gaze in an unnervingly steadfast glare. Peter shifted restlessly in his seat. There was no way Kent could have heard him across the din of the newsroom. He really was paranoid. Peter adjusted the levels of his photographs and tried to ignore the feeling that the assignment wasn't worth the grief he was causing the obviously rocky couple.
"—Excuse me, Lois, I just remembered I left the iron on at my house! Could start a fire. Heh. Better go check on it!"
As Peter rushed out for the second time on their date, Lois could only stare in shock. How did this always happen? Were men really just forgetful, compulsive house checkers? What were the odds that she would attract two crazy men like this? Lois was almost too baffled to be annoyed. Almost. God, if this was all she had to look forward to in the dating world, she'd be better off staying home. All Peter spoke to her about was Superman and her exclusives. With Clark, she could at least have some intelligent conversation. For the most part. There were those couple of minutes in which Peter had started rambling on about chemistry and physics equations… She had almost left right then and there. She was just about to pay the check and leave in exasperation when she caught a glimpse of an exceedingly wild tie.
There was only one straight man in Metropolis who would wear such a tie. And that man was her partner. Who was currently lurking near the door. Lois furiously grabbed two twenties from her purse and threw them on the table before marching over to the door.
Without even looking up to check the face of the unfortunate tie-wearing man, she grabbed his arm and yanked him out of the restaurant.
"Clark Kent, are you *spying* on me?!" Lois hissed as she yanked on his tie to pull his face down to hers.
"You were! I can't believe you! What is this unreasonable dislike you have for Peter Parker?"
"Other than the fact that he's completely untrustworthy?" Clark gave her a mulish stare. "Nothing."
"Why do you have this awful preconceived notion that he's untrustworthy?" she asked in exasperation.
"Oh, maybe it's the fact that he's singled you out and pursued you without a thought of anyone else. Or the fact that he's left you here alone!"
"Oh, like that doesn't sound like someone else I know," Lois gave him a withering glare and marched off down the street. "Call me when either of you have some semblance of normalcy in your lives."
He started to go after her, his heart twisting in his chest at the look of tight pain across her face, but he stopped himself. She really looked like she needed some time alone. Clark melted into the crowd and spun into the suit in an alley. He had just prepared himself to follow Lois from a safe, airborne distance when his nostrils detected a scent that he was quickly beginning to loathe. He knew only one man who wore that cheap cologne. Peter Parker was entering the alley. Clark quickly hid up in the shadows, high above the building. He had no trouble seeing in the dark night and his gaze followed Parker curiously.
He was… what? He was changing? Was this guy crazy? It was a public alley! His logic disregarded that fact that he had done the exact same thing a few moments prior. What was the kid changing into? He narrowed his gaze and Peter came into much sharper focus. He was moving quite quickly, shoving his arms into tight red sleeves.
His throat closed up as he looked just a bit closer.
Red sleeves covered in spider webs. Clark watched with a sick sense of dread as Peter Parker pulled on the rest of the Spider-man costume. He was moving so fast that Clark was certain a normal human eye would never be able to detect it. But he could see quite well. The black spider emblazoned on the front, the frightening red mask with the opaque eyes. He might have let out a sharp gasp, because he saw Peter's head turn sharply toward him. But by the time the Spider-man had looked, Superman was long gone.
High in the air, Clark hovered and brooded. He had no idea why Spider-man was sniffing around Lois Lane, but if the Bugle was to be believed, the man was a menace. Of course, while the Bugle's news reputation was nowhere near the quality of the Planet's, but it was not something to be disregarded, either.
His upper lip curling over his teeth in a feral sneer, Clark headed to the Planet. He had some research to do on the so-called Webslinger.
Clark Kent knocked gently on the door of Mary Jane Watson's modest apartment. From what he had read, Ms. Watson had been somewhat connected as the "love interest" of the Spider-man and fascinatingly enough, had also been linked to Peter Parker. His anger had had plenty of time to cool on the flight to New York City, and he was finally ready to look at the situation objectively. He attempted to line up the facts in his mind.
Peter Parker had arrived in Metropolis and immediately dug around Lois Lane. While he, himself had fallen hard the moment he laid eyes on her, he knew Lois' stunning beauty didn't typically make all men drop their things and rush to ask her out.
And he wasn't quite sure how the whole "Peter Parker is Spider-man" thing worked out. For one, why was the man working for the Daily Bugle, actually supplying the newspaper with the excellent photography that accompanied such trashy headlines as "SPIDER-MAN IN CAHOOTS WITH TERRORISTS"? The only thing he actually knew for certain was that Peter Parker had some emotional entanglement with Mary Jane Watson and, therefore, she remained his one and only lead.
A moment later, he was pulled from his musings by the door opening a crack, the chain still firmly in place. A strikingly beautiful redhead was looking out at him with a mixture of quiet suspicion and genuine curiosity.
"Ms. Watson?" Clark said softly.
"My name is Clark Kent. I work at the Daily Planet in Metropolis."
Mary Jane paused for a moment, still keeping the chain in place, but pulling it taut. "Lane and Kent? I read your articles quite often. What are you doing here?"
"Ms. Watson, I'm afraid I came here to speak with you about your boyfriend, Peter Parker." He cursed himself when she immediately paled. "No! No, nothing serious. He's fine, Ms. Watson. I apologize for scaring you." In his haste to reassure her, Clark bungled his words, but eventually he felt she got the message. "I just need to talk to you for a few minutes. You can keep the chain there if you'd like."
To Clark's incredulity, a hint of a blush caressed her cheeks and she unlatched the chain.
"I'm sorry. I'm afraid I've gotten a little hardened living in the city for so long. You can call me MJ, Clark."
A wistful smile flitted across his face as he thought of his own city girl. "No, no. You're right. I just wish my girlfriend at home would be so conscious of her safety."
MJ leaned her head against the doorframe as she took in the man's whipped puppy gaze. "You sound just like Pete. He worries too much for his own good."
Stifling a groan, Clark ran his fingers through his head. "But if the person keeps insisting on finding herself being held hostage by madmen and seduced by lunatic billionaires…"
MJ blew out a breath and rolled her eyes. "Been there, bought the T-shirts. Come on in, Clark, and ask me what you need to know about Peter."
Clark hesitated in the doorway, his mind still on Lois. Was she inviting Peter Parker into her home? Would she let a strange man in her apartment? Why did Mary Jane trust him? He hadn't shown any credentials! He could be anyone, for goodness sake. Why were these city, *Earth* women so infuriatingly trusting?
"Clark? You planning on drinking your Coke out there?" MJ sauntered back to the doorway and gave him a curious little head tilt. "You look awfully confused, Sport."
He felt the heat rise up his throat in the start of a blush, as he stumbled after her. "Sorry, Ms. Watson."
"What is it with you and this Ms. Watson thing? I told you to call me MJ."
As Clark mumbled an apology, Mary Jane smiled and patted his shoulder. "Boy, you sure do remind me of Peter sometimes, Clark, and I barely know you. I think you two would get along really well."
Clark narrowed his eyes, the name sending a bucket of ice water across his shoulders and clearing his mind. "Don't hold your breath on that, MJ."
When she looked at him curiously, Clark sighed and rubbed his neck. "MJ, you had better sit down for this."
Three hours later, Clark Kent and Mary Jane Watson were on the runway of the LaGuardia airport, their plane picking up speed as they chased the sunset all the way to Metropolis.
Clark gripped the edge of his seat on the plane, tensely debating how long the flight was back to Metropolis. He glanced next to him at MJ, who was calmly flipping through the in-flight magazine. His death grip relaxed somewhat at her poise, as he made a conscious effort to unwind.
"I'm sorry, MJ. I didn't mean to make you come all the way to Metropolis with me. Honestly, I just wanted to ask you about Peter. If he had been laid off at the Bugle or anything…"
"—You think I was going to sit at home and knit while you tracked down Peter Parker?"
"Um… Well, no, of course not." Clark was unnerved. Talking to Mary Jane was like talking to a subtly different Lois. Both had spitfire intelligence and tended to say exactly what was on their minds. He had simply told her that Peter was in Metropolis, working for the Daily Planet; he didn't want to be the one to break the news that her boyfriend was a scumbag cheating on her with *his* girl.
The thought set his teeth on edge and he glared out the window at the blue sky.
"You okay, Sport?" MJ laid a gentle hand on his tense shoulder and Clark relaxed despite himself.
"Yeah, I'm fine, MJ," he said quietly, giving her a small smile. "Thanks."
"I have no idea what Peter's doing in Metropolis getting a job at the Daily Planet," she burst out a moment later. For the first time, Clark saw her masked anger rise to the surface. "If he wasn't planning on coming back, I'm going to take him out back and beat him up."
This was said so petulantly, and with such a straight face, Clark burst out laughing. "There's no doubt in my mind that you could take him, MJ. No doubt at all."
She nodded, one side of her mouth curving into a small smile. "I like you, Clark Kent. Tell me about this city girl you're so hung up on."
A genuine smile crossing his face, Clark dived into one of his favorite subjects. "Lois Lane… Well, she's my partner, for one thing, and let me tell you, she did not like me very much when we started out. She had worked hard for her position and she made it a point to tell me that she was top dog. Lois is… complicated. She's very beautiful, but really, that isn't what draws me to her. She's single minded and pigheaded, mowing down anyone in her way. But then again, there are times when she's completely the opposite. She's fiercely loyal and tenacious. She's absolutely incredible." Clark paused, looking down at his hands. "I'm sorry, I must be boring you."
MJ shook her head, and rested her chin on her hand. "I like hearing you talk about her. If Pete says half the sweet things you say about your city girl about me, I think I'd count myself lucky.
Clark shook his head, wondering how such a scumbag man like Peter Parker could have wormed his way into this amazing woman's heart. "If you don't mind me saying, MJ, if he doesn't already say those things about you, then he's a real idiot."
Laughing, Mary Jane ducked her head and then leaned back against the headrest. "As I said, Clark, I like you. You're good for my ego."
A few hours later, Clark left the Planet, a seething Mary Jane Watson in tow.
"He's actually out on a date? With *your* city girl? What is this 'Chez Joey's' place anyway?"
His jaw clenched, Clark mindlessly pulled MJ out of the way of a renegade taxi and helped her cross the street. "It's a nice restaurant known for its truffle cheesecake and filet mignon."
"And they're there right now?"
"That's what Jimmy said." Clark paused. "After I threatened him."
For a moment, a ghost of a smile flickered across her face. "You were very menacing. And by menacing I meant pathetic."
"Okay fine, after *you* threatened him. I don't think Jimmy will be able to sleep for a week after you pulled off that high heel and threatened to go for the jugular."
Mary Jane and Clark hurried along the sidewalk until they reached the front of the restaurant. Through the mildly frosted glass, they could just make out twinkling white lights strung up across the ceiling and the muted lighting of a restaurant guaranteed to put a dent in a man's wallet.
Clark pulled open the door for Mary Jane and followed her in. A wave of gentle conversation, savory scents, and romantic lightning assaulted their senses. Clark located Lois' heartbeat right away and pointed them out to Mary Jane.
"I'm going to kill him," she hissed, her gaze riveted on her erstwhile boyfriend.
His spine a rigid line of tension, Clark thought he might not be far behind. Lois and Peter were ensconced in a spacious booth toward the back of the restaurant, blood red wine catching the sparkles of the white Christmas lights above.
Biting back his own jealousy and hurt feelings, Clark rested a gentle hand on Mary Jane's back. "Perhaps we should go," he muttered dully. "I apologize for bringing you here. This is wrong." He wasn't quite sure which of the various things wrong with the situation he was addressing.
A hard sparkle glittered in Mary Jane's emerald green eyes as she shook her head and grabbed his hand. "No, we shouldn't go. You're here as my date, aren't you Clark?"
"Yes, you are. Now before I dismember my boyfriend, we're going to give him the shock of his life and make him seethe with jealousy."
"We are?" Clark gulped, but a quick glance back at Lois, who was leaning in closely to Peter's head, hardened his resolve.
"And we're going to get a steak dinner out of it, too."
The immature part of his conscious was jumping up and down at the thought of giving Lois a taste of her own medicine, while the rational part was wondering whether it might be smarter to go poke a sleeping pit bull in the eye.
After the briefest moment of inner debate, Clark nodded.
"You look stunning, Mary Jane. Let's go knock their socks off."
She gave him a megawatt grin, and the transformation from angry to careless was so profound, he gaped for a moment. "You deserve an Oscar, MJ."
Mary Jane spoke quietly with the hostess, giving her a few winning smiles and then grabbing his hand again.
"I told her we're meeting our *friends* here. She said to go right over," Mary Jane said, giving his hand a quick, friendly squeeze. "And don't you worry that handsome head of yours. If you think this is good acting… well, you ain't seen nothing yet."
Lois gave Peter a vacant smile as she listened to him recount yet another story about that one time in chemistry. Or biology. Or whatever it was he was prattling on about. She rested her chin on her hand and leaned into the table, willing herself not to fall face first into her Caesar salad.
"Lois, Peter, what a coincidence seeing you two here."
Lois straightened immediately, turning to face her partner with a twinge of guilt settling in her chest. He didn't deserve to be blown off like she kept doing to h—
Who the hell was the redhead?!
The strikingly gorgeous woman had her arm looped territorially through *her* partner's arm. A quick once over revealed one perfectly toned leg quite close to Clark's, and… what was that other hand doing?!
The thoughts flooded through her mind in about a millisecond, but her stunned reaction was nothing compared to her previously dull dinner date's. Peter jumped to his feet, suddenly appearing much taller.
"Mary Jane? What are you doing here?"
The woman paused, considering him. "I could ask you the same question, Tiger."
"I-I…" Peter broke off and faced Clark instead. "Why did you bring her here? Who the hell do you think you are?"
Though still battling her own mounting fury, Lois grabbed Peter's arm and swung him around to face her.
"You," she said squarely, poking him in the chest. "Don't yell at him."
An elegantly dressed waiter materialized out of nowhere, a stern look on his features. "Is there a problem here?"
Clark and Peter faced each other, inches apart, with tense jaws and hard eyes.
Eventually Mary Jane spoke up. "No, of course not, sir. We're just sitting down."
MJ took Peter by the shoulder and steered him next to Lois in the booth before grabbing Clark's hand and pulling him down next to her.
"Now isn't this fun?" she asked brightly. She grabbed Peter's water glass and took a big sip. "Delicious."
"Mary Jane, why are you in Metropolis?" Peter asked again. His blue eyes seemed darker now, more pained. For a moment it startled Mary Jane, but she stuck to her guns.
"I'm here with Clark Kent, Peter."
"And how do you know Clark?" Lois asked, her tone biting. She hadn't missed the affectionate way this Mary Jane woman had held Clark's hand, and she didn't like it one bit. "Who the hell are you?"
"Lois!" Clark admonished from across the table. She whirled on him, giving him a death stare. "You shut up, Mister. I'll get to you in a minute."
A siren wailed in the background as the table fell silent.
"MJ, Jameson wanted me to come to Metropolis and get a job at the Daily Planet," Peter finally said, his voice strained. "To try and scoop their paper."
Lois and Clark both let out a sharp cry of indignation at the same time.
"You were using me? To scoop the Daily Planet?! You low-life, scheming, two-faced…" Lois ranted, going into full Mad Dog Lane mode.
Two more sirens screamed past the restaurant, and a radio call begged for more backup.
"You left me in New York City to get a job half a million miles away and you didn't think I deserved to know?!" Mary Jane's calm demeanor had finally dropped as she let loose on her scheming boyfriend.
For a moment, Clark almost felt sorry for the guy.
And then another siren joined the chorus and all of his pity became directed at himself. He couldn't ignore the situation any longer and Lois Lane was going to kill him. No matter his invulnerability, she'd find a way. And knowing her, she'd make it very painful. He tugged on his tie and stood.
"I'm sorry," he directed this at Lois, pleading with his eyes for her to understand. "I have to go…" He shut his eyes as he thought for a moment, though it could have been that he was praying for divine intervention. "…pay my barber. I forgot to get Waldo his check last time and he's worse than my landlady."
A pair of brown eyes shot daggers at him, while the green gaze just merely blinked. It was then he realized that Peter was standing next to him, jittery as well.
"And I have to go…" He glanced at Clark, and for a moment their differences seemed to melt away as each recognized the cry for help in the other's eyes.
"Do that thing!" Clark finished, giving the two girls a brilliant smile.
"Exactly," Peter gasped. The men looked at each other and nodded, before stumbling out of the restaurant. Once outside, they glared at each other suspiciously.
Another police car raced past.
A split second later, Superman was zeroing in on the problem area while Spider-man was hurling himself from building to building.
Neither stopped to think about what they had seen the other do; a truce was called as human life took the utmost precedence.
Inside the restaurant, Mary Jane and Lois could only stare in amazement at the spots where the two men had been.
"Does this seem to happen to you an awful lot?" Mary Jane finally asked, sinking back into the booth.
"And they just make you so angry you could throttle them?"
"All the time."
"But then they come back and do something really sweet and you kind of forget you were mad at them, despite how much you'd like to hold onto that anger?"
"Girl, I think we've been had."
Lois sighed and mirrored MJ's pose.
"So, you're Peter's girlfriend, I gather?"
"Yup. If I ever decide he's out of the doghouse. You're the city girl Clark rhapsodized about on the way here?"
"So, are we just dating two snakes, or what?"
Lois shook her head, still in a state of bewilderedness. "Honestly, Mary Jane, I haven't the slightest idea. Maybe they've got some kind of split personality?"
She actually seemed to give the idea some consideration, but the jingle of the local news network interrupted their musings. MJ and Lois immediately turned at the sound, and watched transfixed as the bartender ignored his customers and turned up the volume.
"I repeat, Spider-man from New York City and Metropolis' own Superman are here, helping to deal with the hostage situation and the fire raging in the building."
"Hey! Turn that up!" Mary Jane shouted.
The bartended shot her a dirty look, but raised the volume.
"It seems like the two superheroes, who have never been previously spotted together, are managing to deal with the situation. The Spider-man has just pulled out the hostage! Yes, I repeat, the hostage appears to be safe!"
In the booth, Mary Jane let out a cry of excitement, while Lois kept her gaze fixed on the set for news of Superman.
"His freezing breath has done it again! Superman has extinguished the fire and apprehended the criminals. The two work inordinately well with each other!" The newswoman continued to rave about the two superheroes until the camera suddenly zoomed in on the two heroes. They were facing each other, Superman floating in mid-air and Spider-man perched in an unnatural position on the way.
"They appear to be arguing," the newswoman continued her play by play in a chipper tone, her eyes glued on the super beings.
Spider-man shot two gloved hands and shoved Superman hard into the air.
Mary Jane and Lois both gasped. They looked at each other, and then back at the screen.
"What the hell is Spider-man doing here in Metropolis?" She finally asked, her eyes still on the set.
"I have no idea. What on earth could they be fighting about?" Lois shook her head, wide-eyed.
The cameraman creeped closer to the heroes, who were tackling each other and sparring twenty feet above the ground. The soundman ducked as close as he dared and suddenly, with a burst of static and crackle, the muffled voices on the heroes could be heard.
"—Lois— you traitor—Planet" Superman's words were cut off in a burst of static, but the faint voice of Spider-man arrived on tape next, muttering a string of indistinct words.
The name Mary Jane, however, rang loud and clear across the set and into the ears of the two incredulous women.
"They can't be…" Mary Jane began, glancing at Lois uncertainly.
"Where did Clark and Pete say they went?"
Lois responded dully, her mind whirring. "To the barber and to do a thing."
"Oh my god."
"Oh my god."
"They can't be…"
"Did you know this?"
"…invulnerable or not, I'm going to…"
"Oh my god!"
Lois dug through Clark's wallet, which he had left on the table, and left six twenties. On second thought… She looked in there again and shook the rest of the contents onto the table.
"That's an expensive glass of wine," Mary Jane commented as she blandly watched Lois rob Clark blind.
"Oh, trust me, when I get through with that man…"
"I know. Let's go."
The two women ignored the hostess who tried to open the door for them and settled outside the restaurant to wait.
"I can't wait until they get back here," Mary Jane began, cracking her knuckles.
"Me either. You know, MJ, after having gotten off to a very rocky start, I think I'm beginning to like you."
Mary Jane opened her mouth to respond, but she was interrupted by Clark and Peter stumbling around the building, straightening their ties. Peter had a black eye and a cut lip, while Clark's hair was mussed with his glasses askew.
Both men froze when they saw Lois and Mary Jane leaning shark-like against the wall of the restaurant. The deadly look in their eyes was unmistakable.
Peter muttered an expletive beneath his breath and Clark took a step backward.
Their eyes met, all thoughts of battle forgotten.
"Time to get the heck out of dodge," Peter said quickly.
"I think you're right, Peter."
A burst of sound and light, and they two were gone.
And that was how Spider-man and Superman were left cowering on the roof of Chez Joey, while their girlfriends enjoyed a steak dinner beneath them.
On Clark's dime.