By Ranica (Ranica@aol.com)
Summary: A supernatural figure haunts Lois and Clark in both their waking and sleeping hours.
Author's Note: Be forewarned. This story is a bit more supernatural than most of you may be used to. I took a lot of liberties with the state of unconsciousness (you'll see what I mean when you read it), but I hope that you'll be able to follow along and recognize the craziness of the human brain in REM. I just wanted to try something new, so bear with me. Comments and constructive criticism are welcomed and greatly appreciated. Also, thanks to OhSoYung for convincing me to stick with "Ghost" as the title. You're right, Yung. "The Friendly Ghost" would have been too cheezy.
Lois sat at her desk, her chin propped up on her hand. She stared at the piece of paper lying in front of her and sighed. She looked up and over at her partner who was also staring at something in front of him while twirling his pen repeatedly with his thumb and forefinger.
"Find anything, Clark?" Her voice seemed to tear him out of a reverie and he dropped his pen to meet her gaze.
"No, not really. This mysterious bomber is a ghost within the army. How 'bout you?"
"Nothing." She got up and walked over to him. "How do you do that?"
"Twirl your pen like that?" She picked up the fallen writing tool and tried to imitate his motion without any success.
"Looks easier than it really is, huh?" He smiled as she dropped the pen at every attempt. "Here, let me show you." He took his ball-point pen from her and demonstrated. "See? It's just a matter of balancing it on your thumb." He did it a few more times for emphasis, and grinned when she snatched it away from him.
"Okay, Mr. Show Off. Let me try it." She spun the pen, but failed in keeping it in her hands.
"Clark! Lois!" Jimmy came bounding up to them. He was breathless from excitement and could hardly speak. He swallowed hard, then continued. "This fax just came in from your source, Clark. He's identified the bomber as a Benjamin Miner and he's been spotted lurking outside Mayor Hansen's house."
Lois and Clark looked at each other in alarm. "He's gonna kill the Mayor?" Lois was already up and collecting her things. "We've got to get down there, Clark."
"This is a serious matter, Lois. What we need to do is call the police, and contact Superman." He turned to Jimmy. "Call the police and make sure she stays here. I'm going to look for Superman." He sensed Lois' disgust as he dashed off, but trusted Jimmy to keep her out of danger for the time being. He loosened his tie and was off towards the Mayor's house, unaware of the commotion back at the Planet.
Jimmy was on the phone, describing the situation to the police and keeping an eye on Lois. He hung up, and eyed Lois suspiciously, knowing that she wouldn't be easy to restrain, especially from a big story like this.
She pretended to be busy, scribbling frantically on a legal pad. Jimmy watched her, squirming a little. "What is wrong with you?" She finally asked. "Do you have ants in your pants or what?"
He blushed. "No, I just really have to -- use the facilities."
"Then why don't you just go?" she asked, exasperated.
"I can't. Clark said --"
"Clark said to watch me, and make sure I don't go anywhere. I assure you. I'm going nowhere." She gestured towards her scribbles that were barely discernible as letters. "I have a story to write. Go and -- relieve yourself," she smirked as she watched her friend turn even redder.
"Okay, but you'd better be here when I get back." He turned to a woman sitting in desk nearby. "Mary? Will you make sure Lois doesn't go anywhere while I'm gone?" The woman was distracted, but nodded. Jimmy, having a more urgent state of affairs to attend to, dashed off.
When he was gone, Lois grabbed her purse and started towards the elevator. Mary was more attentive than she had thought, and stopped her. "Lois? Where do you think you're going?" She hardly looked up from her work.
"Oh, just for another cup of coffee," she explained, grabbing her coffee mug off her desk.
"Oh, okay," she said, totally engrossed in her work.
Lois smiled smugly as she set her mug back on her desk and made her way to the elevator unnoticed.
Clark scanned the perimeter of Mayor Hansen's house for Benjamin Miner. He saw a figure near the garage, but when he zoomed in with his super sight, he saw that it was the Mayor's wife, Kathy Hansen. He briskly flew down to warn her of potential danger.
"Superman!" Kathy was startled by the man's landing. "What are you doing --" She was cut off suddenly when a man appeared behind her, clamped his gloved hand over her mouth, and held a glistening knife to her throat. Clark froze. One false move, and she could be seriously injured.
"Miner," he said grimly. "It's all over. The police are on their way, and they know what you've been up to." As if on cue, distant sirens were heard, causing Miner to turn. Using his distraction, Clark snatched Mrs. Hansen from him, unharmed and melted the sharp object in his hand with super speed. He seized a surprised Miner by the collar and handed him off to a waiting police officer. He carefully checked Mrs. Hansen for any injuries, and found none. Satisfied that he was no longer needed, he was about to take off when his super hearing picked up on a ticking within the house.
He ran into the house, scanning everywhere for the bomb. He found it, embedded inside the wall behind the telephone and was about to disarm it when something distracted him.
"Clark?" He turned to see Lois.
"Lois, what are you doing here?" But something else wasn't right. Why had she called him Clark? He looked down and expected to see the Superman uniform that he had on a few moments ago, but was astonished to see his suit and tie. He reached up on his face, and felt his pair of glasses. When had he changed back? Suddenly, this minor detail didn't matter anymore when he remembered the bomb. "Get outta here, Lois! There's a --" But it was too late.
The explosion was fierce and it knocked him off his feet. He scrambled to his feet and his heart dropped when he saw Lois' limp body lying near him. He reached over to her, but she suddenly disappeared. What was going on here? He super scanned the area for any sign of his partner, but even the Mayor's neighborhood had disappeared. He was surrounded by a black void. He shook his head to clear it, but nothing changed.
"I love you, Clark," whispered a voice behind him. He turned around, expecting to see Lois, but instead, saw Mayson Drake in a long, white evening gown.
The phone in Clark's apartment jolted him out of his sleep. Still perturbed by his dream, he reached for it groggily. "Hello?"
"Clark? It's Lucy." Her voice was full of panic. "Can you come down to the hospital? Lois is here."
He was immediately up and dressing. "I'll be right there."
He arrived at the hospital three minutes later and ran in. He looked around for Lucy for more information about Lois, but instead, he saw another familiar face. "Lois?" She was standing at the check out counter, standing next to a man with a white coat, obviously her doctor. "What's wrong? Lucy called me and --"
"Oh, she's such a worry wart," she said, signing a piece of paper on a clipboard. "I'm fine. Really." She handed the clipboard back to the gray bearded man. "Let's go!" she said cheerfully, linking her arm through his.
"Wait." He turned to her doctor who was studying Lois' signature. "Why is she in the hospital?"
"Oh, we were just doing some routine tests. We thought that she might have been suffering from a bout of pneumonia, but she just has the common cold." He didn't seem the slightest bit concerned.
"Well, okay," Clark said hesitantly. "Does she have any medication that we need to --"
"Nope! Just have her drink plenty of fluids and well-rested." With that, he walked away.
"What?" He was confused, but allowed Lois to lead him away from the counter.
"Thanks for coming, Clark. I told Lucy not to call you, but --" She stopped and looked at him strangely.
"Lois? Are you okay?" He was concerned. Her eyes were going out of focus, and her grip on his arm started to dwindle as she slowly slipped to the floor. "Lois!" He said in dismay, propping her head up so it wouldn't hit the white tiles of the hospital floor. The hospital walls and the doctors and nurses seemed to fade away as he reached out to brush a dark strand of hair away from her face. He started to lift her up, when he noticed that the dark strand of hair turned into a blond strand and he looked into the face of Mayson. She separated his shirt to reveal the "S" on his uniform. "Why didn't you tell me, Clark?"
Clark woke up and bolted upright when his alarm sounded rudely besides his bed, clutching his pillow tightly to his chest. His heart pounded and his mind was clouded from his nightmare. Pulling the thin covers off him, he got up and started to prepare a breakfast, hoping that it would make him feel better.
Lois looked up from the Benjamin Miner story when the elevator rang. She saw her partner, a little disheveled, walking from it and shook her head. She continued to type the story up on her computer and was nearly done when he reached his desk. "Rough night, Clark?"
He shook his head in disbelief. "You wouldn't believe some of the dreams that I had last night, Lois."
"Why?" she said mischievously. "Was I in them?"
"As a matter of fact you were," he said, but offered her no more than that. "How's the Miner story coming?"
"Fine, but you might want to proofread it before we go to the inauguration. Now, which is the better headline? 'Superman Saves Mayor's Wife', or 'Serial Bomber's Plan Thwarted by' --" She was cut off by her ringing phone. "Lois Lane," she answered. Clark made his way over to her desk and looked at her choices for headlines. "What? You're serious!" She looked up at him through wide eyes. "Okay, I'll be right there." She hung up the phone and turned to her partner. "There's been a fire at my apartment. I have to go and check it out."
"Right now? But what about the inauguration?"
"Could you go without me? I really need to go." She looked at him with pleading eyes.
"Okay, but you're not going alone." He spotted a youngster nearby. "Jimmy! Can you go with Lois to her apartment?"
He came closer to the couple. "Why? What's up?" he said merrily.
"My apartment had a fire." She looked warily at Clark. "I can go by myself. It's no big deal."
"That's awful, Lois. Just let me grab my coat." He rushed off leaving them alone again.
"Clark, I don't need a baby-sitter. Tell Jimmy that it's okay. I don't need him."
He reached out and stopped her. "Lois, did your landlord tell you what caused the fire?"
"No, but --"
"For all you know, somebody could have made an attempt on your life. No offense, but you have more enemies than the Jolly Green Giant has vegetables." She rolled her eyes. "I'd just feel better if you didn't go alone, okay?"
"Okay," she sighed, watching Jimmy advancing towards them. "C'mon, Jimmy, let's go!" she said impatiently.
Clark watched nervously as he let them go. He wanted to go with her to make sure that she would be all right, but knew that somebody had to cover the inauguration.
"Clark!" Perry's voice boomed all the way across the newsroom. "Don't you have a ceremony to attend?" He looked sternly at him.
"Yes sir!" He grabbed his jacket and scurried away.
"Mrs. Turner!" called Lois, rushing to meet her landlord outside her apartment building. "Lois Lane, apartment #501?" She caught up with the elderly lady and paused to catch her breath. "Is it safe to go in?"
She smiled at her. "Yes, Ms. Lane, but only stay in there for as long as you need to collect your personal things. The firefighters said that the area is still a little unstable." She shook her head sadly. "I hope that you're insured, Ms. Lane. I saw the damage, and it was not pretty."
Lois' face fell. "Was it that bad?"
"I'm afraid so," she nodded.
"Well, thank you, Mrs. Turner." She turned to Jimmy. "Well, let's go!"
Lois fumbled for her keys as they climbed the fifth flight of stairs, but as they approached her apartment, she realized that she wouldn't need them. The door was completely burnt off the hinges. She stepped through the threshold gingerly, with Jimmy close behind her.
"Whoa. What a mess," he whispered. He wandered to look through her kitchen. Lois took a deep breath and ventured into her bedroom.
Miraculously, her room was a little less damaged than the rest of her apartment. She opened her closet, and found a large duffel bag, and started scooping some of her necessities into the bag. She walked to her dresser, and picked up a photo of her and Clark together. The fire hadn't touched the picture frame. She smiled as she remembered the day they took the picture. He was holding his first Kerth award proudly, and his arm was slung around her shoulder. They were both smiling happily. She heard Jimmy come in her bedroom.
"Are you ready, Lois? We really shouldn't stay this long." He came closer and peeked over her shoulder at the photo. "That's a great picture." She brushed her hand across the glass and smiled.
"Yes, it is." She turned around to smile at her young friend, but he was nowhere to be seen. "Jimmy?" She was puzzled. She could have sworn that he had just been standing behind her. Instead, the room was empty. Shrugging, she placed the picture carefully in her duffel bag and continued packing her belongings.
"He really loves you, Lois." A woman's voice startled her and she jumped around to face her.
"Mayson?" she said in disbelief. She blinked hard, and when she opened her eyes again, she was gone.
"Lois?" Jimmy poked his head into her bedroom. "Are you ready?"
"Yeah," she said, dumping the rest of her underwear drawer into the bag. "Let's go. I gotta go call for a hotel room."
They exited her bedroom slowly. Lois turned back one last time to check if Mayson Drake was still standing there. The room was empty. "Too many Double Fudge Crunch Bars," she muttered as they left her charred apartment.
The rice and vegetables sizzled as they hit the wok. Clark smiled as the delicious aroma filled his kitchen. He slowly poked at the food with his finger, ignoring the smoke emanating from his hand. He never did need any kitchen utensils to help him cook. He was just about to pick the wok up with his bare hands to give his meal a little shake when the phone rang. He carefully turned off the stove, and reached for a towel. Directing his heat vision into the wok, he continued to warm up the rice and brought his cooking meal with him to the phone.
"Hello?" he said, finishing off his grub with a last sizzle.
"Hey, Clark." It was Lois, calling from her hotel room. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Just cooking dinner. Hey, how was your apartment?"
"Don't even ask," she sighed. "Mrs. Turner said that the firefighters told her that they didn't know what caused the fire. Probably just some freak accident."
"What if it was somebody that was after you?" Clark was still concerned. "Do you want me to ask Superman to go and take a look at your apartment? Maybe he'll be able to find the source. And I'd feel much better --"
"Oh, don't even bother, Clark. Thanks, but I know that Superman has a lot more important thing to do than to check out what caused a fire in my apartment."
"No 'buts' Clark. Besides, I'm insured, so I'll be fine." She poked at her spaghetti in disgust. "What did you cook for dinner, Clark?"
"Fried rice. Why?"
"The room service here is terrible! Fried rice sounds good though."
"If you want, Lois, I can bring some over -- that is, if you want --" He stopped when he heard a noise that only his super hearing could have picked up and turned around to see what it was. He stared in awe at the apparition that stood in front of him. He tried to pinch himself to see if he was dreaming again, but it did no good. He couldn't feel a thing, but that could have been due to his steel exterior. Something told him, however, that this time, it was no dream.
"You were always a great cook, Clark." Mayson Drake smiled at him sadly. In his surprise, Clark almost dropped the phone.
"Clark? Clark?! Are you there?"
Lois laughed. "Well, when are you gonna bring me some food? I'm starving here!"
"Oops! Oh, uh Lois? The rice is burning," he said, unable to take his eyes off of the image of Mayson. "I gotta go. I'll call you later, okay?" He abruptly hung up, leaving Lois utterly confused at her end of the line.
Mayson made her way across the living room and towards Clark in his kitchen. Although he knew that he was looking at what was best explained as a ghost, he wasn't afraid. There was a calming and soothing aura to her being as she inched her way closer to him. He opened his mouth to speak, but found that he could get no words out. She finally stopped about an arm's length away from him.
"You know that I love you. I always will, and I want you to be happy. We were never meant to be, but you and Lois are. Tell her. Lois deserves better, and so do you. Tell her the truth." He finally lifted his arm, to reach out to her, to try to touch her, but she faded into thin air.
Silence filled Clark's apartment as he pondered on the meaning of those words.
Lois slid her cotton pajamas over her head and yanked them down to cover the rest of her. She grabbed her latest romance novel and a pair of reading glasses from the dresser by the bed and slipped under the covers. Getting comfortable, she sat back and fumbled for her bookmark halfway through the novel. She read a few sentences, but was startled when she heard the phone rang. She smiled and reached over to pick it up.
"So when do I get my food already? I'm starving!" She waited for a silly excuse from her partner, but there was no answer. "Hello?" The image of Mayson in her apartment suddenly came rushing back to her and she felt a chill. She clutched the comforter tighter around her and tried again. "Hello?!" When there was no response, she hung up and returned to her novel.
"Lois." The voice made her jump and shriek a little. Mayson stood at the foot of her bed, looking very sad. When her initial shock was over, Lois was mesmerized by the sight. She too felt the same protective and calming aura that Clark had felt as it suddenly filled the room. "I know that we've had our previous disagreements, Lois, but please listen to me. Clark would do anything for you. Don't forget that. Forgive him."
"What are you --" But she gave up as she saw the image dissolve before her eyes. Her gaze fell upon the picture frame that she had rescued from her apartment. She stared at it for what seemed to be an eternity, until she heard a knock on her door.
She carefully made her way to the door, knowing that Clark was on the other side. She opened it, and saw that he looked as confused as she felt. He was carrying a Tupperware filled with the fried rice that he was cooking earlier.
"I brought you your food," he said, suddenly becoming nervous. "I hope you don't mind a few little crispy pieces of chicken." He smiled sheepishly as she accepted the rice.
"Come in," she said, a little distracted. "It sure smells good." She headed toward the wet bar near the window and opened the lid. "Too bad I don't have a microwave though."
Clark saw his opportunity. "You know, Lois. I've been meaning to tell you something. Maybe after I tell you, your problem with a lack of microwave can be solved."
She looked at him puzzingly. "What do you mean?"
"Lois, I've been keeping a huge secret from you, ever since I met you." He winced and expected her to throw an angry fit, but was surprised when she just waited patiently for him to finish. He reached up and removed his glasses. "I'm Superman."
She gasped as she finally looked into his pair of brown eyes with a new light. She saw the two people within him, and all the love for her within them. Echoes of Mayson's pleading rang through her head as she started to see red. The echoes smoothed down her anger immediately as she reached up and pushed back a stray lock of his hair.
"You really do love me, don't you, Clark?" She smiled a small smile. "And you too, Superman?"
This wasn't the reaction that he had been expecting, but he wasn't going to argue. "Yes, we do, especially me." He looked into her eyes, hoping that she would understand who he was talking about.
"I love you too, Clark," she whispered, tilting head up towards his. She sighed softly as he slowly bent his head down towards her and their lips brushed ever so gently. When they pulled away, he saw that she had tears in her eyes.
"Are you crying, Lois?" He gently brushed away a single tear that trickled down her face.
"I'm just so happy," she sniffed, embarrassed with the display of emotions that she was revealing. She laughed suddenly and reached up to pull him into a hug. He returned her embrace readily, his heart bursting with joy, and he laughed too. They remained clinging to each other, until they both heard a voice and pulled away slightly.
"Good luck you two." The merriment was apparent in her eyes as she watched her handiwork come to an end. Lois and Clark watched as she vanished from their sight for the last time, smiling upon them. They turned back to each other, wondering the same thing.
In unison, they exclaimed, "Did you see that too?"