Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Member # 8444
Clark landed on the roof of the Daily Planet building and looked down at his tattered cape. Terrific, and he had only brought the one suit with him. Now, he was going to have to make himself a new cape before Superman could go out again. He was going to have to sew it himself, not having time to find a tailor he could trust in such short amount of time. He sighed and spun into his business suit.
He jogged down the stairs and into the men’s restroom to wash the soot off his face and hands. What a day! Not only had Lois thought that he had slept with Cat, but she also thought that he hit on her kid sister. There was some kind of group – with possible ties to the government – out there that knew his, or this dimension’s Kal-El’s, spaceship had crash-landed outside of Smallville in 1966. He couldn’t get access to the bomb on the Prometheus to find out if it had ties to Luthor. He went to help out on a bomb threat, only to have the building explode around him within moments of him entering. It just wasn’t his day. He wondered what he was going to be hit with next; whatever it was, he wasn’t looking forward to it.
On his desk, he found a note from Floyd. His check had cleared, and Clark could come pick up the keys that afternoon. Finally, some good news. It was hard to get in and out of the Apollo Hotel as Superman. Luckily, he hadn’t been home the night before. Actually, he was looking forward to a night of rest. Then he remembered the mess that was his new apartment, and the fact that he didn’t have any furniture to move in, and groaned.
“Hey, CK,” Jimmy said, sitting down in the chair next to Clark’s desk. “You okay?”
“Hi, Jimmy,” Clark replied. “Yeah, I’m fine. It’s been a long day.” He rubbed his eyes for effect. “Essentially my day started yesterday. I just got my first bit of good news,” he said, holding up his note from Floyd. “I can move into my new apartment tonight.”
“Tell me about it,” Jimmy replied. “Today, the Chief had me fix Mr. Foot, his vibrating water massage, go on a soda run, twice, and he denied my request to go down to the Carlen Building as photographer. I’m never going to catch a break. I thought my photo of Superman and Lois making it to the evening edition the other day was it, but…” He shook his head. “To Perry White, I’m Mr. Fix-It, Mr. Go-Get-It. Man, I’m a journalist, or at least I would be if I was given half the chance.”
“Why don’t you talk to him? Tell him how you feel? Make him see…?”
Jimmy shrugged. “I’ve tried…” He sighed. “Sort of. Well, thanks, anyway… Hey, I heard that you out mad-dogged Mad Dog yesterday; good for you.”
Clark didn’t feel like it was something he should be congratulated on, as he still felt guilty for using Superman against Lois. “Is that really her nickname?”
“Badge of honor more like it,” Jimmy scoffed. “Normally she’s not this bad; I’ve never seen her this worked up. This Superman guy really pushes her buttons. You’re so smooth, CK. I really thought it would take Godzilla to knock Mad Dog down to size.”
“Godzilla? Good one, Jimmy!” Cat laughed as she walked by, eavesdropping of course. “Between the two of them who do you think has the bigger ego?”
“Hey, that’s my new partner you’re talking about. Let’s show her some respect,” Clark said, defending Lois in absentia, and shooting Cat a glare.
She responded by rolling her eyes. “Mama isn’t here, sweet cheeks. You don’t have to behave.”
“Cat,” Clark warned. “May I have a word?”
Jimmy nodded. With a glance between the two of them, he stood up. “I better get back to Mr. Foot.”
After Jimmy left, Cat sat her bottom down on Clark’s desk, crossed her legs demurely, and smiled. “You wanted to see me?” she purred.
Clark instinctively lowered his voice. “You were going to clear the air with Lois?”
Cat shrugged. “I haven’t found the right time.”
“Well, everybody in the office has gotten the impression that we were hanging from the chandeliers wearing black leather last night,” he informed her.
“Mmmmmm.” Her smile grew exponentially. “Well, we were interrupted.”
Clark rolled his eyes, tired of line of conversation already. “I’d appreciate it if you would fix this.”
Cat’s responding chuckle had a seductive quality to it. “And ruin my reputation?” She caressed his jaw with her fingertips.
He crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat. “If you don’t, I will. I know your dirty, little secret.” He swirled around his index finger and pointed it at her.
Her brow furrowed. “And what secret, pray tell, would that be?”
Clark looked her straight into the eyes. “That under this aloof, sex goddess façade there lies the well-rounded heart of a kind, sweet, intelligent human being with easily hurt feelings.”
She got to her feet, her eyes wide. “You wouldn’t dare,” she growled.
“Try me and find out.”
Cat put her palms on his desk and leaned towards him. “I expect a second trip to Paris in the fall, Blue Wonder!” she hissed and turned on her heel to saunter off.
Clark put his fingers together and smiled, amazed that his bluff had actually worked.
Lois dropped her briefcase off at her desk and glanced over to see Clark on the telephone. He looked excited by whatever news he was hearing.
“Yes… uh-huh… really?” Clark said to the person on the line.
She walked up to his desk to see what he had found out.
“That’s unusual, isn’t it?...” he continued, making a note on his pad. “I see… okay, well, thank you very much. Great!” He hung up and glanced up at her, then was on his feet. “You’re bleeding.”
“It’s dry,” she said with a shrug, having already forgotten about it. “Who was that?”
“What happened?” Clark asked, not letting it go.
“Someone blew up the Carlen Building with Superman inside…” she began, before he interrupted her.
“You were there?” he gasped, his eyes still focused on her head wound. “You got hurt?”
“It isn’t that bad. Head wounds bleed a lot,” she explained. “I just happened to be collateral damage.”
Clark walked around his desk and set a gentle hand on the curve of her back, guiding her to sit down. “Why don’t you tell me what happened after I get you a bandage?” he suggested, rushing off. Less than a minute later he returned with a bandage, a cup of water, and some paper towels.
While she watched him cross the room, she thought about the feeling of protection having his hand on the small of her back had given her. It had almost been like he was leading her in a dance: gentle, respectful, and damn romantic. No wonder Cat had wanted to bed the man; he had the softest touch. She shook that thought out of her mind.
“I don’t need you to take care of me,” Lois informed him to try and counteract that fleeting rush his touch had brought out in her.
“Well, we’re not doing it for you,” he retorted. “We’re doing it for me. I won’t be able to concentrate on work while you have blood dripping down your face.”
“It really isn’t that bad,” she repeated with a scoff. He was really making too much of this.
“It looks bad from where I’m standing,” Clark said, almost under his breath.
“What? Do you get nauseated at the sight of blood? Because if that’s true, we might as well break up the partnership right now. You’ll never survive,” Lois said with a chuckle.
Clark knelt down in front of her and tried to apply a wet paper towel to her forehead.
She grimaced at the pain, jumping to her feet. “I’ll take care of this myself.”
“Sit down, you big baby, and let me do this,” he countered, nudging her back to the seat. “Please, to ease my guilt.”
“What guilt would that be?” she asked, and he blanched. Yep, he was definitely hiding something. Was he not joking? Did he really get sick from the sight of a little blood?
“For not being there when you needed me,” he murmured. “For allowing you to get hurt, when I could have stopped it.”
“Oh, so my little owie is all your fault?” she said sarcastically. “And here I was going to blame those men from yesterday.”
Clark stopped tending to her head to rock back on his heels to gaze into her eyes. “What?”
“Those fake government agents,” she clarified. “Henderson… that would be the detective from the Platt murder, not his cousin the inspector…”
“What?” he repeated, obviously lost by her little joke. Right, new in town; he didn’t have a grasp on all the members of MPD’s finest.
“It’s not important,” she said, brushing it aside. “Detective Henderson said that there were video cameras in the Carlen building that were not part of the building’s security system. Someone watched Superman enter and then blew up the building via radio control.”
Clark looked positively green and seemed to be going into shock. Oh, how she wished he wouldn’t do that; it was making her feel bad for him and his blood phobia. She didn’t want to feel bad for him; she wanted to hate him for… for what? Being a man with needs and desires? Or for wanting to satisfy those needs and desires with someone other than her? Or with Cat especially?
Lois grabbed the bandage from his hand and pushed him aside. “I better finish this. Go sit down. We wouldn’t want your new nickname to be Up-Chuck, and it will be if you get sick on my shoes.”
He took one last look at her head and conceded, backing into his chair. “Do you really think someone was trying to hurt Superman?”
“Or kill him,” Lois murmured, an ache in her chest exploded at that thought. Just the idea of Superman dying filled her with dread and an overpowering sense of loss. She took a shaking breath and pushed through the emotional pain this one thought brought her. “I mean, it had to be those guys, right? Who else out there is gunning for Superman?” She opened up the bandage and was going to slap it on her forehead, when Clark gently grabbed her wrist.
“Here, let me. You hold back your hair, so it doesn’t get caught in the adhesive,” he suggested. He looked better now, although still a little green around the gills.
“Fine!” Lois rolled her eyes and pushed back her hair.
Clark slowly set the bandage on her head, running his fingers over the flaps to smooth out any wrinkles. He really did have a light touch. His gaze dropped from her forehead to her eyes and with him there, hesitating less than a foot away from her, his breath tickling her cheeks and his fingers caressing her skin, it felt like he was going to kiss her.
Oh, no! She couldn’t let that happen!
Not in the newsroom.
No, no, no.
Not at all.
She must have been hurt more than she had thought or had a concussion, if she was starting to feel something other than anger for Clark. She was in love with Superman, not some regular Joe, especially not some guy who got sick at the sight of blood. Clark knew how she felt about Superman. He shouldn’t be hitting on her. What was up with him? She needed to stop this right here, right now.
“That poor man,” she whispered, amazed at how dark Clark’s eyes were when he looked at her like that.
“What man?” Clark murmured, obviously too distracted either by her blood or her proximity to recall who they were talking about.
“Superman,” Lois said, and with that one word Clark seemed to remember himself and returned to his chair. Thank God! She could breathe again, not that having Clark that close made it difficult to breathe. It was uncomfortable, him being her work partner and all. She cleared her throat. “He comes here to help us… Can you imagine how he must he feel?”
“I think so,” he mumbled, turning away from her and shuffling through the papers on his desk.
Her brow furrowed. That was an odd thing to say. How would Clark know how Superman felt about being a target? Maybe Clark was talking about something else. Perhaps he meant he knew how Superman felt about Lois?
Oh, no! She already knew that Clark was attracted to her, but he must have developed a crush on her too. That was the last thing she needed was a puppy dog of a partner, following her around, doing whatever she told him…
Okay, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. She could stick him with all the grunt work and she could do all the fun stuff. Maybe this partnership wouldn’t be so bad, after all. She hated to string any guy along, but as long as Clark remembered who was top banana in their partnership and that she belonged with Superman, she would be more than willing to use his little crush to her advantage.
A sweet smile grew on her lips. “Thanks, Chuck.”
“Uh…” Clark glanced up from his desk and over at her, a slight blush darkening his cheeks. “Uh-huh, it was nothing. You would have done the same for me,” he mumbled, his flush actually deepening.
“Who was that on the phone?”
“Oh… uh… Dr. Newman from Metropolis Hospital,” he replied vaguely.
“Was that the same Dr. Newman who did the psychiatric evaluations on our jumpers, the attempted suicides from yesterday?” she inquired.
He raised a brow. “Our jumpers?”
Lois leaned towards him. “Partner,” she reminded him with a smile. “We’re working together now, aren’t we?”
Clark sighed and then admitted, “Yep.”
“So, what did you learn?”
“I believe that the jumper story was determined to be my story, Lois, not ‘our’ story,” he corrected her.
She ran her tongue over her teeth. Okay, maybe Chuck was no obedient puppy. “Spill it.”
He caved with a smile though. “Okay. They’ve both been released. Jules Johnson, immediately. They don’t think that he ever meant to jump. Now, Monique Kahn on the other hand, was hysterical…”
“I remember you saying something about her still screaming as the ambulance hauled her away,” Lois said.
He nodded. “It turns out that she’s afraid of heights.”
“She’s afraid of heights, and she jumps off a thirty story building?” Lois questioned. That was odd.
“That doesn’t sound right, does it?” Clark said, as if reading Lois’ thoughts.
“Hmmm. What else?”
“While she was sedated, she kept mumbling something about ‘a test’,” he told her.
“A test? A test of courage? I don’t get it.” Lois shook her head. “What else?”
She scowled. “That’s not much.”
“Okay, what we’ve got so far,” Lois said, ticking off everything they had learned on her fingers. “Is a group of men who fear Superman and his ‘mission’. A bomb aimed at killing Superman. A couple of jumpers, one who was faking it and the other who was scared of heights. Why would she jump? Was she pushed? If so, who pushed her? I followed George Thompson to an old furniture warehouse on Bessolo Boulevard, but he must have caught me tailing him, because he never came out. So, what do all these things have in common?”
He looked at her skeptically. “That they all happened in Metropolis. I don’t think the jumpers had anything to do with that group from yesterday. Ms. Kahn and Mr. Johnson don’t seem to fit the group’s profile.”
“And what profile would that be?” Lois asked. “White males?” Her eyes went wide. “What if they’re a hate group? Like the skin-heads or something? Or one of those anti-government paranoia groups? You know the type that hoards weapons for the end of the world? Only this one is focused on alien invaders or something?” Her brow furrowed in disappointment. “That sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it?”
“Actually it doesn’t,” Clark reassured her.
Lois smiled. She liked that Clark wasn’t a yes-man. Therefore when he did agree with her, he meant it. Oh, yes, she could get used to having Clark as a partner, especially since he had Superman’s unlisted phone number. She grabbed his arm. “Clark! Superman!”
He gulped and when she realized he was staring at her hand on his arm, she removed it. “What about him?” he inquired softly.
She looked at him as if he were an idiot. “Clark, Superman is the key, the glue to all these stories. We need to talk to him.” Lois lowered her voice to a whisper and leaned close to her partner. “Why don’t you give me his number and…?”
Clark started to laugh. “Not going to happen, Lois.”
“But he wouldn’t mind if I had it,” she hissed.
“Why? Because you’re head cheerleader for team Super?” he replied.
Lois snarled at him. “It’s not like that, and you know it!”
Clark pressed his lips together and raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
“Don’t you think that should be his decision and not yours?” she snapped, pointing her finger at him.
A big victorious grin slipped on to Clark’s face. “Okay, Lois, let’s leave it up to him. If he wants to let you know how to contact him directly, he’ll let you know how.”
“I hate working through a middle-man,” Lois grumbled, leaning back and crossing her arms.
“Good thing we’re partners then, eh, partner?”
Lois sat at the snack table, finally able to eat the lunch Lucy had brought her, after Clark left to cover some drive-by shooting. What was wrong with her partner? Contacting Superman to confirm or deny some facts for their story should be their number one priority, and Clark was the only man in town who apparently knew how to reach the man. Yet, he put it at the bottom of his to-do list.
He had to understand Lois’ frustration. The work histories on the two jumpers had brought up squat. Clark, of course, had thought it was significant that both jumpers worked for LexCorp.
“Them, and about a million other people in Metropolis,” Lois had reminded him, but he hadn’t listened.
She rolled her eyes again at Clark’s animosity towards Metropolis’ benefactor. She wondered if it was still jealousy over her interview date with the billionaire. She had let it casually drop that she had canceled a lunch date with the man for the other day, because… well, because she had figured out a way to sneak aboard the Prometheus transport… but she let Clark think it was because Superman had shown up. Actually, now that she thought about it, she hadn’t given one thought to Lex Luthor since Superman had appeared. Between the two men, there was no contest. In truth, between Superman and any other man, her Man in Blue would always be the victor.
Lois took a bite of her sandwich and continued to doodle on her notepad. Sure, there were other stories, other leads she could be working on, but with Superman in the world, why would she want to?
Cat had the nerve to sit down at her table with a bowl of fruit and a liter bottle of water. “Hi, Lois.” She glanced down at Lois’ sketch of Superman’s ‘S’ crest. “Penny for your thoughts.”
“Buzz off, Cat,” Lois grumbled, flipping over her pad.
“How’s your day been?” Cat asked with more kindness than she was apt to show and it instantly put Lois on edge.
Really? Cat was going to act like she hadn’t humiliated the Dickens out of Lois the day before, and then seduced her partner after that. Her remarks seemed innocent, but Lois knew they were just foreshadowing to the gloat to come.
“Peachy,” Lois grouched, a tad more grumpily than she had meant to. It had been three days since Superman had promised her his exclusive interview, and she still had bupkis. Not only that, but she had only seen her man in blue twice in the last forty-eight hours, once for five minutes of pure bliss in the clouds, and once for five seconds after someone tried to blow him up. He hadn’t even noticed her there at the Carlen Building, let alone that she’d been nicked by flying debris. She just wanted to reassure him of her feelings and warn him about that group that was looking for him.
Sure, it had taken months to nail Luthor down to an interview before Lois had gotten her faux-interview date, which also ended her up with squat. Was she just going through a rough patch? A dry spell? Superman had at least kept his word and hadn’t spoken to another reporter, but still… it hurt.
No, Superman must be busy, Lois told herself. She certainly had been. She shouldn’t take his avoidance personally. It wasn’t like it was with Lex; she and Superman had a connection. They both knew it.
“I saw Clark help you with your head wound earlier. He really is quite a sweetie, isn’t he?” Cat said, opening up her fruit and spearing a chunk of banana with her fork. Was that supposed to be some kind of subtle message about Clark’s anatomy?
Well, Lois refused to fall for it. “Uh-huh.”
“You could do worse,” Cat said, stabbing a cherry next.
What was that supposed to mean? That Lois couldn’t do better than Clark? Please, she was in a serious – yet, at the moment, seriously lacking – relationship with Superman… for the rest of her life. Lois didn’t need a fallback man, especially one like Clark. “Clark and I are just co-workers, Cat. Unlike other people, I come to the office to work, not to meet men.”
“Well, that’s obvious,” Cat murmured into her water bottle.
Lois decided to ignore Cat. Maybe she would get lucky, and the woman would just fade away. Doubtful, but on some topics Lois was a fountain of optimism.
Jimmy slid into a chair next to Lois. So much for her peaceful and solo late lunch.
He pulled a sandwich out of his paper sack, and leaned towards Cat. “So, I hear that you and CK are an item,” he said. “Is it true that you hung from the rafters? Because I was wondering exactly what that entailed.”
Lois dropped her sandwich, her appetite suddenly gone. She didn’t want to hear the gory details of Cat and Clark’s tryst, yet she couldn’t find the will to stand up and walk away. A part of her was curious how much Clark’s version differed from Cat’s.
Cat glanced at her and then back at Jimmy, but didn’t speak, returning to her fruit. It wasn’t like Cat to refrain from gloating. Had Clark been right? Had Lois misjudged her new partner? Had nothing truly happened?
Jimmy glanced at Lois with curiosity. He too was wondering about Cat’s unusual silence. They both turned and stared at the woman. “Cat?” he asked.
“Yes, Clark came for dinner last night,” Cat admitted before taking another bite of her salad.
Dinner? Right. Lois wasn’t going to let this lie. How much of Clark’s version could she reveal without actually saying anything? “Clark said the details floating around the office had been grossly misrepresented.”
“He what?!” stammered Jimmy in disbelief. “Tell me it isn’t so, Cat?”
Cat pressed her lips together, obviously not wanting to answer.
Had Clark been telling Lois the truth? Had nothing happened? Or had something awkward occurred? Something other than sexual? Something embarrassing to Cat? Suddenly, the possibility for this story to be entertaining grew in Lois’ mind.
“Well, we were interrupted,” Cat conceded. “We’d only begun nibbling on the appetizer platter when his beeper went off.” She took a sip of her water bottle. “We hadn’t yet made it to the main course.”
Nibbling on what? What was Cat saying? That she and Clark had only made out before they had beeped him? Or that they had progressed further, but not to the point of completion? Lois swallowed and looked down at her sandwich. She hated to admit it, but that could have been encompassed in Clark’s ‘nothing happened’ explanation as well. Lois didn’t know why that disappointed her. For a brief moment there, she had thought that maybe, perhaps, that she might possibly have been slightly mistaken about Cat and Clark; that Clark might actually be the upstanding guy she had originally thought he was. She didn’t even want to think what the ‘main course’ would have entailed.
The silence at the snack table was practically palpable. “So, Superman, huh?” Cat said, changing the topic first. “How’s your exposé coming, Lois?”
“It’s not an exposé, Cat. It’s an interview, and we’ve had scheduling problems,” Lois grumbled.
Cat nodded, but Lois couldn’t help noticing the smirk that accompanied it on the woman’s lips.
“I had an idea about finding Superman,” Jimmy said, instantly attracting both women’s rapt attention. Unused to such focus on himself, he began to sputter, “Forget it. It’s a zero, like my life.”
“Tell me anyway,” Lois coaxed. Any idea was better than none.
“I just thought that if Superman is an alien, and he came here from another planet, he’d have some kind of spaceship,” Jimmy elaborated. “Track down this spaceship somehow, find Superman.”
“Hmmmm,” responded Lois with thought, but not expressing any outward interest. That made sense. Why hadn’t she thought of that? Probably because it seemed odd for a man who flew on his own to actually need a spaceship.
“See. A zero,” Jimmy said, knocking his idea again.
“A spaceship?” Cat’s brows furrowed in thought. “Where would he leave such a thing? It’d have to be someplace large and secluded, where no one would stumble across it…”
“Jimmy!” Perry called to him from across the newsroom. “Let’s go!”
“Duty calls,” Jimmy said, heading off with reluctance.
Lois started tapping her pencil on her legal pad. Superman’s spaceship? How would one begin on tracking it down? Well, it had to have entered Earth’s atmosphere at some point? Sometime before the city worker was saved from the gas leak the week before. Who would track objects entering the Earth’s atmosphere? The EPRAD Satellite Tracking Station in Fairbanks, Alaska might have that information. She wondered if they would talk to her.
Standing up, Lois dumped what was left of her sandwich in the trash and headed back to her desk. She glanced over at Clark’s empty desk. Luckily he wasn’t there to accuse her of running with someone else’s idea. Anyway, Lois wasn’t stealing Jimmy’s theory, she was borrowing it. If it panned out, she would credit him. It’s not like she would ever reveal the location of the spaceship to anyone. Hello, psycho fringe group out there paranoid about everything Superman. Anyway, it wasn’t like Kent was helping her contact Superman either. Why would Superman put his trust in Chuck and not her?
***End of Part 16***
A/N: I have borrowed lots of dialogue and scenes from Lois & Clark. I will post the full disclaimer at the end of the story, but if you need to see it before then, you can find it Here.
"On the long road, take small steps." -- Jor-el, "The Foundling"
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