By CarolM <email@example.com>
Submitted: Aug. 2008
Summary: Second in the author's "Assignment" series. Trying to find a way to go back undercover after their first assignment was blown, Lois comes up with a creative solution and nearly unbelievable rationale for it. A response to the First Lines and Labby's One Hour challenges.
Thanks to my fabulous BR, Beth, for her aid. You rock! Thanks, also, to those who left FDK on the boards. (http://www.lcficmbs.com/cgi-bin/boards/ultimatebb.cgi?)
"I want a divorce."
Lois stared at Perry.
"Don't 'honey' me, Perry. I told you that partnership was like marriage. That it took patience, and understanding, and a willingness to be supportive."
"And *I* told *you* to fake it." He picked up the article he was editing; his end of the conversation over as far as he was concerned.
He didn't glance up. "Try harder. You're the one with experience, remember?"
"I'm the battle scarred veteran, I believe is what you called me."
"I was mistaken, apparently."
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
"Apparently, you're not veteran enough. Clark must be."
"No. He's the hungry, fresh talent or something." She rolled her eyes, though Perry still didn't look at her.
"That was a year ago, Lois. He's proven he's every bit the professional veteran you are. And apparently, he's better at faking it or something."
"Or something," Lois muttered.
Perry sighed and tossed the paper back on his desk. "What did he do this time that's got you so upset?"
Lois flopped down on the couch and didn't look at him.
"Well? If you're going to come in here and announce that you're done being partners, I want to know why."
"Irreconcilable differences," she mumbled.
"What irreconcilable differences?" Perry's eyes narrowed, wondering just how much of her complaints were substance and how much were annoyance about something. He was guessing it was heavy on the annoyance and light on the substance.
Just then, the door opened. "Hi, honey, I'm home." Clark sauntered in, a big grin on his face. He sat on the couch near Lois, his arm stretched out along the back of it. "Wanna neck?"
Lois just glared at him.
"Uh, Clark," Perry started. "I'm not quite sure how to tell you this, but it seems your partner wants a divorce."
Clark raised an eyebrow. "But we had so much fun on our honeymoon," he whined. "It was almost like... flying." His eyes twinkled, but Lois refused to look at him.
"See, Perry? I can't put up with him."
"Aw, honey," Clark pouted. "We got to go shopping together. I didn't make you carry all those heavy bags all by yourself or make you use the nasty crutches..."
"And that's another thing," she glared at Perry again. "Why exactly did I have to keep pretending I had a broken ankle when we were four hours from here?"
Perry shrugged. "You never know who you might run into, darlin'. Now, Clark here told me that you two did run into someone you knew. Superman was there?"
Clark shifted uncomfortably, wishing he hadn't mentioned to his editor that the caped superhero had put in an appearance.
Lois moved so that she could look Clark in the face. "Oh, Clark mentioned that, did he?"
Clark tugged on his collar. "Yeah, I might have mentioned it."
"So why don't I have a story on my desk?" Perry shuffled through papers. "Unless I missed it somewhere," he said, looking at them with a raised brow, knowing full well he hadn't.
"It was nothing, Perry. Honest." Lois gave Clark her darkest look. "He just stopped by for a few minutes to see if there was anything he could help with and when we assured him there wasn't, he left. But he did rescue a couple of stranded hikers before he left. That's it." The look she gave dared Clark to contradict her.
Clark sighed. He'd thought it would be easier to come up with excuses now that Lois could, in theory, help him out. Instead, over the last few days, she'd done everything she could to make it harder for him to leave.
Of course, when it was just the two of them, he glared at her and left anyway, but at this morning's story meeting... he couldn't do that.
And it wasn't that she was mad he hadn't told her about Superman sooner; that he could deal with.
No, she was still mad over the clothes thing. And because he wouldn't use 'feminine stuff' as a reason why he was buying his new bride clothes when they weren't supposed to be leaving the honeymoon suite.
Well, the tip had been a bust anyway, so she was extra irritated about that, too.
"Honestly, Chief, I simply cannot work with him anymore."
"If you want reassigned, you have to tell me why." Perry had picked up his red pencil and the article again while Clark was lost in his musings.
Lois huffed and slumped back on the sofa.
"You want to know why, Chief?" Clark asked.
Perry nodded, continuing to mark up an article Clark guessed was from Ralph given the number of edits being made.
"She's mad at me."
"Well, even a blind man could see that, son."
"It's why she's mad at me that's the doozy."
"Care to share?"
Lois glared at him.
Clark sighed, a long-suffering sigh. "Well, she didn't have time to go home and pack before we left last week and so she didn't have any clothes with her to change into."
Perry set the paper down slowly, watching them.
"So, she wanted me to go buy her some."
"Well, I'm not sure that was the best idea," the editor said frowning. "You two were supposed to be star crossed lovers who finally managed to get married. That was the story you needed for this, currently still incomplete, assignment. Buying clothes would have tipped them off that things weren't right."
"That's what I said," Clark said triumphantly, his arm sliding off the back of the couch and around Lois' shoulders, attempting to pull her to him. "Right, honey?"
"So what did you do?"
"She wanted me to go buy her clothes and..." Clark glanced around, even though he knew it was only the three of them in the office, before whispering, "...feminine products." His voice returned to normal. "That way it would be obvious why my new bride needed clothes on our apparently long-awaited honeymoon."
Perry raised an eyebrow at Lois. "Darlin', you had to know you couldn't ask Clark to do that for you."
"Well, I didn't."
"Good for you, son."
"I carried her down to the store, proclaiming loudly my love for her the whole time, and she did it herself."
Perry sighed. "No wonder the lead didn't pan out. Lois, you've got to be more careful than that."
"Oh, this is *not* my fault, Perry." Lois stood, eyes blazing.
"Oh, I'm sure it's not. But since the last one was a bust, you guys get to do it all over again. This time in Hawaii." Perry frowned.
"What, Chief?" Clark asked.
"Well, if it's the same group out in Hawaii, like we think it is, it won't work sending you two undercover again."
"Because they keep pictures and such." He sighed. "I'll have to send someone else. Maybe Cat and Eduardo would want to go undercover."
"Oh, no. This is my story. Clark and I will figure something out, believe me." She turned to her partner. "Right, Charlie?"
Clark groaned. "We already did the Charlie and Lola King thing, Lois."
"I know. Come on." With that, she turned on her heel and headed out of the office. "We'll see you in a week with a story, Chief. Make the reservations under Clark and Lois Kent, would you?"
Clark and Perry stared after her, mouths agape.
"Do you have any idea what she's got planned, son?"
"Not a clue, Chief. Not a clue." He sighed and stood. "But I think I better go find out."
Clark followed Lois' path into the newsroom, wondering what she was up to.
"Clark," she said in a stage whisper, once he was close enough for mere humans to hear. "I don't want anyone to know Superman agreed to fly us to Vegas, okay? I mean, I know Perry gave us a week off for our honeymoon and all, but I really don't want it running on the front page of the Planet's Society section."
Clark stared at her, well aware that Cat was hearing every word, too. So that's what she was up to.
Well, two could play this game.
He moved until he was right behind her, his mouth close to her ear. "Whatever you say, dear." There was no way Cat heard what he said, but the new tomato shade Lois was sporting would certainly lead the gossip columnist to believe that it was something slightly risque and embarrassing rather than something designed to make Lois mad, which is where the red tones to Lois' skin really came from.
"Let's go," she hissed through clenched teeth as she grabbed her coat and purse and headed for the stairs.
Once they reached the roof, Clark disappeared from her view before returning a second later as Superman. He wasn't sure why, but he couldn't quite bring himself to do his spin change in front of her. Maybe it was performance anxiety or something, but with his luck, he'd end up half naked or something rather than in the suit.
"Where to first?" he asked.
"You're going to drop me off at my apartment, then you're going to go pack, and you're going to take half an hour doing it, and then you're flying us to Vegas."
He raised an eyebrow. "Vegas? Why?"
"This group is going to check it out, aren't they?"
"Probably. Especially if they realize that we were undercover last week."
"So we have to get married."
Clark raised an eyebrow. "I'm not so sure about this, Lois. When I get married, it's going to be because I'm in love with the woman of my dreams, not for a story."
Lois sighed. "Take me home to pack. We'll talk later."
Clark sighed deeply. "Okay. Let's go."
Lois sat on Clark's couch waiting for him to get back.
He'd dropped her off, she'd packed, and when he hadn't returned, she'd turned the news on and saw that he was rescuing 26 cheerleaders stuck in an elevator at Met U. She'd rolled her eyes. He was probably going to be taking pictures with the distraught victims for hours. Save the cheerleaders, save the world.
She'd taken the Jeep to his apartment to wait, knowing he'd have to come back at some point. She'd rather fight with him here.
She heard the thump as he arrived.
"So how many pictures did you have to take?" she asked before he even made it inside.
"About eight thousand," he said, walking through the door. "I'm going to go take a quick shower and try to get this perfume stink off of me."
Lois nodded and in about six seconds, Clark was standing in front of her.
He was wearing jeans that fit just right, one part of her mind noticed. His flannel shirt hung unbuttoned as he towel dried his hair and his glasses were missing in action. She followed a drop of water as it ran down his chest between the sides of his shirt.
She wasn't going to think about Clark like that, even if she was going to marry him today.
She just had to convince him of that.
"So, this whole married in Vegas thing..." Clark started.
Lois sighed. "It's the only way they're going to believe we're there for real and not for the story."
"I'm still not so sure about this," he said skeptically. "I only plan on getting married once in this life time."
"Me, too," she whispered, not looking at him.
His eyes narrowed. "So are you planning on bribing some Vegas official into making the paperwork look real?"
She shook her head as she looked up at him through lowered lashes.
"This is because I'm Superman, isn't it?" he asked, realization crossing his face. "You've always wanted Superman and now you think you can have him."
"No," she said quietly. "I *have* always wanted Superman, you know that, but do you know what I spent most of those four days arguing with myself about?"
"About how much I didn't want to be attracted to you."
"You found out I was Superman about six hours after we got there," he pointed out.
"The arguments started long before that."
"Care to share?"
Lois shrugged. "I didn't want to let myself realize how safe I felt when you carried me, or how well-built you were, or how much I wanted to have you hold me all night, every night."
"Huh. And so because I'm well-built, you think we should get married?"
Lois sighed, and shrugged again. This tact wasn't working. "Okay, so a well-built guy may not be the best reason to get married, but let's break this down." She stood and started pacing. "Here's how the next few months would work out. I'd get over being mad about the clothes thing. You'd ask me on a date. We'd go out and have a fabulous time. I'd slam the door in your face because I was scared. We'd get interrupted by some dumb blond who wanted you, but hated Superman, and I'd be jealous, and you'd think that I didn't really want to be with you, and then we'd manage to have one absolutely perfect, fabulous kiss that would be interrupted by some emergency or other -- maybe even said blond blowing up or something. You'd be distraught because you couldn't save whoever it was because you were too busy kissing me and brush me off while guilt-ridden."
She took a deep breath. "I'd go out with another guy to make you jealous, which might actually work well enough that you'd decide that you couldn't take it any longer and move. But you wouldn't. You'd propose. I'd say no because I needed more time to get to know you for the real you. You'd get mad. We'd dance around the issue for a while. Something would happen and we'd end up engaged. Every homicidal, Kryptomaniacal maniac would try to stop the wedding. Heck, Lex might even reemerge with a clone of me to substitute at our, overly extravagant, thanks to my mother, wedding, and we'd have several more months of insanity before everything's back to normal."
She turned to look at him. "And then, just as we're starting to plan another wedding, some other maniac will show up and with our luck, your Kryptonian birth wife will suddenly claim you and you'll disappear into the cosmos. And maybe, if the other Kryptonians don't take over the earth, we'll finally manage to get married, but not until Clark Kent has gotten shot, in full view of everyone, by resurrected gangsters."
Clark was watching her with a raised brow. "That's really how you see the next year or so playing out?"
Lois shrugged. "And with our lucky streak continuing, we'll end up being eternally teased once we do get married because our wedding night will see the strangest confluence of meteorological and man-made disasters in the history of the world and I'd spend our honeymoon pining for you."
"Lois, I promise you, if we were ever to get married, the world would be on its own while we were on our honeymoon. Barring another global killer asteroid, of course."
Lois shrugged. "Okay then. Let's circumvent all of that and run off to Vegas. Well, fly off to Vegas."
"You really want to marry me?" he asked skeptically. "And not just because I'm Superman."
Lois shook her head. "No. Not *just* because you're Superman. But Superman is a part of you, and I've loved both of you a lot longer than I would ever admit to anyone, even myself. And besides that, if we don't stop these guys, no one will. So I won't hold you to that 'world is on its own unless there's a global killer asteroid' thing until we catch them and then we'll get Perry to give us another week off to actually go on a real honeymoon." Her breath caught. "If you want to, of course."
Clark sighed. "Okay."
"What?" Lois looked at him in surprise.
"You're right. The strangest things always happen to us and just doing it might actually make more sense." He rested his hands on his hips, pushing his shirt further open as he did. He did *not* miss the way Lois' eyes were drawn to his chest as he did so. "But are you sure?"
She nodded. "Superman was a pie-in-the-sky dream. Clark is real. Superman is every woman's ultimate fantasy. Clark is every woman's ultimate dream."
Clark raised a brow. "There's a difference? And this is a good thing?"
She nodded. "There's a big difference. And I get both. Except that Superman really stopped being my ultimate fantasy a while ago."
"And that's a good thing?" he reiterated.
She nodded again. "It's like when you crave ice cream all the time as a kid. When you get it, it's special. When you're a grown-up, you can eat it all you want so the novelty wears off a bit. That's kind of how Superman was. Still special, but not as much. Does that make sense?"
Clark nodded slowly. "I think so."
"It's not that I don't think the Superman side of you is pretty great, but I also know there's a lot more to you than that. And I get to have the whole package. If you really want to."
"Okay," Clark said quietly, moving towards her.
"You really mean that?"
He nodded as he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to him, her head resting on his chest. "Yeah, I do."
"Remember those words, Clark."
"I'm going to need them," he whispered, kissing her hair.
"You better believe it," she murmured, looking up at him before sliding her hands along his arms until they met in his still damp hair.
She pulled his head down towards her for a first real, toe curling, soul-searing kiss.
Long moments later, they pulled back.
"Vegas, here we come," Clark whispered.