Author: AmeliaFaulks PM
No Krypton, superheroes, supervillains, or Superman. But there is a Lois and Clark.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 4 - Words: 23,776 - Reviews: 77 - Favs: 98 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 02-06-11 - Published: 01-02-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6616604
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: hello everyone, I've been poking around, back-burnering this story for the last year or so. It's kind of an Elseworlds that plays fast and loose with bits and pieces of the mythology to suit my own evil ends; it's not set in any one Super-verse. Mainly, I ask you to settle back and roll with me.
The story's in four parts. I hope it was worth the wait and, as ever, that you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing :).
Disclaimer: these characters belong to DC, not me. (If this fic were a movie, this is where that cool DC Comics logo would come rushing past us with the swooshy pixels and stuff.)
Sitting still and killing time were not her strongest suits, it was true. The situation was made doubly worse because her colleague had no game-face and lacked the facility for a proportional response. In fact he had the nervous habit of clamming up entirely, believing the surest safeguard against saying the wrong thing was not to say anything at all.
They were in a long, lonely corridor, just outside one of the smaller hearing rooms in the criminal courts building. She was leaning forward, perched on the edge of a plastic chair, high heels and toes flat on the ground, elbows resting on her knees with her fingers dangling loosely together. They had met out on the steps earlier when he had self-consciously avoided small talk and conversation had been hard to come by since.
She tilted her head to look behind her, watching as he fiddled with the aperture settings on his camera. She sighed, releasing the breath steadily out through her nostrils. Unable to face a third straight hour of the same she decided it was time for an act of mercy.
She lent back and unclasped her hands. "Jimmy, it's okay." Her smile aimed for reassuring, "You don't have to protect my feelings. We can talk about it."
Jimmy's whole body sagged in relief, but in a second he was tense again, a look of earnest concern puckering his face; "Because I know how much those awards mean to you, Miss Lane."
"Yes. Well." The flat of her hand skimmed along the top of her left pant leg and off the knee in one elegant, dismissive, stroke. "It's a piece of paper. Not the end of the world." Her lips rolled inwards.
Jimmy was thoughtful. "At least, I guess you were prepared."
She frowned. Jimmy added, "I mean, there's no shame in losing to a guy like that, right?"
Her gaze zeroed in on him, all traces of magnanimity suddenly gone. "A guy like what?"
"You know," he tried. "Like a war hero?"
Lois looked at him, unmoved. "He's a newspaper reporter. Just like you and me."
But Jimmy's gaze was already elsewhere, off in the distance. There was not a cynical bone in his body, and there was a wistful, impressed expression on his face when he said, "Getting shot, though- it kind of blows the competition away." His eyebrows raised. "Literally."
In normal circumstances Lois was careful to keep her own prejudices from clouding over the sunshine of Jimmy's world-view. Here, tightly, she managed, "Stunt journalism has its place, that's for sure."
"I don't know if I could ever be that brave."
With the edge now out of her voice, she told him, "There's more than one kind of bravery, Jimmy."
The young man nodded.
"And anyway." Lois cleared her throat. "I prefer not to view it strictly in terms of winning or losing. To be shortlisted at all-" there was a deliberate pause while she dipped her head to him; "for the fifth year running." She unveiled a cover girl smile that dimpled her cheeks, "I think that's the important thing." She nearly winked, but, in the end, restrained herself.
There was a respectful moment of silence. "I read they're going to give him the Zahiri-Khan Medal for Gallantry. It's like the highest honor the government can bestow on a foreign national."
Lois' smile hardened in place. "Well. Let's hope the NPAs aren't too much of a come-down for him." She folded her arms and went back to staring at the wall.
A large one-sided sheet of paper was held taut between Perry White's fingers. With the phone wedged between his shoulder and ear he scrutinized tomorrow's front page while he listened to his night editor on the end of the line. He checked his watch, "In that case you'll have to cut it. Bump the track cartel story, and you better get me Simmonds on the phone." He rolled his eyes as he set the page down back on the desk, "That's why I want to talk to him!"
He replaced the handset heavily as Lois Lane came into view on the far side of an emptied bullpen. He nodded and she gave him a tired little salute before she made it to his door and came inside.
A deadpan smile appeared as she reached across the desk, "Oh, like you wouldn't believe." She handed over several pages of copy. "My notes on a scandal."
Perry began reading through them. "Olsen?"
"I let him go once we were done."
"He get anything?"
One eyebrow arched, "A rather fetching shot of Judge McQuerry leaving court." Pointing to her face she added, "Right is definitely His Honor's best side."
Perry's brow furrowed as he read. "Which way's the wind blowing?"
Lois lifted a shoulder, "This one's going to run and run. No one wants to go on record. Off the record, they're like talk-radio hosts on crack, you can't shut them up. We spoke to both sides and the stuff they've got prepped- it fills warehouses; litigation, counter-litigation, lists of depositions, motions to dismiss." She shook her head, "It's enough to make you weep."
"The justice system at work," Perry mumbled.
"Legal system," she corrected automatically, and Perry sniffed, smiling at their well-honed little double-act.
He shuffled her papers together and handed them back. "It's your call."
She nodded once. "I'm going to push a pin in it. I had some fresh leads on the Forest Hills redevelopment come through today. I'd like to follow them up. See if I can make any headway."
She gave another quick nod and turned to leave.
Lois stepped back and for a moment they simply watched each other.
Carefully, Perry said, "I believe congratulations are in order?"
Her expression remained blank. "Are they?"
From his desk drawer Perry produced an official-looking letter. He laid it in front of him where they both could see it. Lois already knew what it was. Hers was folded away in her coat pocket. "You received your invitation from the Press Association this morning?"
Lois touched her lips together as if deciding whether to answer. Finally, "Yes."
Her head dropped and Perry watched her shoulders move and settle as a deep breath was taken and then exhaled. When Lois looked up again, it was to jab one finger at him, "I can take it from everyone else, okay? But please, spare me."
He leaned back making his chair squeak, "Lois-"
"I didn't win- big deal!" she cut him off. "For next year, I'll be sure to tackle an armed mugger, or single-handedly foil a bank robbery, or," an arm flapped, "commandeer a tank and storm an enemy post, or something. It seems to do the trick."
Perry began moving the letter and other items around on his desk. "You're still a little upset. It's understandable."
"I'm not upset," Lois clarified, immediately. "I'm disappointed. If I had known the board were so easily dazzled, I wouldn't have wasted all that time at welfare shelters and rehab drop-ins in a clearly pointless exercise in issue-driven journalism."
"It was a great submission, kid. You know as well as I do, embeds will always be looked on favorably by the judging panel."
Her hands went up in reassurance, "Perry, I got it. Forget about moral obligations, responsible social commentary, the fact that there's an underclass in this city on a scale not seen since the thirties," she pointed, beyond Perry, out to the lights of Metropolis; "what the judges really want to read about is Edward Murrow crashing through a plate glass window with a red rambo band on his head."
Perry grimaced. "Okay, well, now I think you're being a little unfair."
With one hand on her hip, Lois rolled her shoulders irritably, "I don't know why we're even having this conversation,"
"-Don't go there, Lois," Perry growled.
"when we both know the cognoscenti on that board would rather do the funky chicken dressed up as Big Bird, than honor the Planet over the Gazette."
"You know that's not true."
Lois snorted. "C'mon, Chief. Gotham has big money, big ideas, and political credibility. And we have Lex Luthor playing lawsuit dodgeball while Rome burns." Fired up, Lois glared, "And when I get my way, things will change, but until that happens, Metropolis will always be treated like the ugly stepsister- but no one would ever admit it. No one wants to get their hands dirty."
At first Perry said nothing. "I thought you liked him." His eyes lifted to meet hers. "This Kent guy."
"I do." She shifted on her feet. "Generally." A vague circular motion with her hand was directed at the invitation, "It's this particular piece I have a problem with."
"You liked this piece. You championed this piece. You're the one that showed it to me in the first place."
"That was before it beat me out of my award."
Her editor smiled. "It was a good piece. The man can write. Sometimes you have to hold up your hands and appreciate raw talent. I understand because I'm used to doing it."
Lois looked up chewing the edge of her teeth before allowing a begrudging smile to eke out. She knew she was being worked but Perry was such a pro.
"Four straight wins, and now a highly commended. That's a damn fine record. You should be proud. Not many people can say that- in an entire career."
Perry picked up the invitation. "And this is not just about you. It's for the Planet. We can go, drink some champagne. Have a nice night." Without looking at her, his bottom lip curled, "You and Mr Kent can, uh, get acquainted."
His change in tone caught her attention. She read his face and, exasperated, she looked to the ceiling, "Oh for God's sakes, Perry."
He tried looking innocent again but didn't really make it and gave up all together.
"Have we really not moved beyond the honey-trap as our primary recruitment technique?"
Perry came forward in his chair and planted an elbow, "Let me tell you something, Lois. Everyone's gunning for this guy right now. With salary packages that make my operational budget look like Jimmy's pocket change." He narrowed his eyes at her; "And I know for a fact that no one on the Post, or the Times, OR the Gazette's newsdesk looks as good in a cocktail dress as you do."
Lois put one hand to her chest and spoke with wide-eyed sincerity, "Well, thankyou, Mr White. It warms the cockles of my heart to know I'm considered such a multifaceted asset to this newspaper."
Perry was unimpressed. "I'd take your indignation more seriously if we both didn't know that a)," he stuck his thumb out, "you're the best journalist I've ever worked with, b), I hold you in the highest professional regard that that opinion accords, and c), everything I just said, including about the cocktail dress, is true."
"Fine," Lois said. She sniffed. "Where would you put him?"
Perry nodded once, "In the bullpen."
"He's a war reporter."
An eyebrow twitched, "He'd fit in well on the city beat, don't you think?"
She looked offended. "Is that a joke?"
"I think this town's big enough for the both of you."
Her laugh was unamused. "Together?"
"When you write, you're unapologetic, aggressive, engaged." He picked up the invitation, pointed to where their names appeared on the shortlist. "This guy's the same. But more cerebral, spare, uncompromising. You write in poetry and he writes in prose." Perry shrugged, feeling his assessment was so obvious as to be barely worth making; "I think you'd work well with each other."
"I don't work with anybody."
"The only complimentary styles I care about go; headline, byline." Lois blinked. "In that order."
Perry had picked up the proof sheet and was rotating his hand in an uninterested royal wave, "I'm sure you'll have a fun time discussing your personal philosophies with your colleagues and fellow peers at the dinner."
Lois drew out a sigh. "I got my invitation. And I am proud," she admitted, "but I'm not going to be at the dinner this year. I can't go."
"I have a prior engagement."
Perry raised his eyes to her, "What prior engagement?"
"My aunt's throwing a party the same night."
Obviously missing something, Perry's brow lowered. "So?"
"So." Lois repeated, peevishly. "I'm double-booked, and I can't go." Explaining, she pointed her finger at the invite, "The board moved the date around this year." She shrugged a shoulder, "You'll just have to accept the commendation on my behalf."
Perry had a better solution. "No, you'll have to rearrange."
Lois smiled, "You can't rearrange a birthday, Perry."
Lois leaned forward, bracing her weight on the back of a chair, "Look. No one likes to dodge Lane family gatherings more than me, but I am expected to put in the occasional token appearance. It's her birthday party, she made me swear I'd attend it this year, and I did, and I'm going to go." She lifted her thumbs, "I'm sorry."
They looked at each other. "If you're not at the Sheldon collecting that award, it's going to look like sour grapes."
"I don't care how it looks. I made a promise, and I can't be at the ceremony."
The frown remained on Perry's face. His phone started to ring. "Kent will be there."
Lois shrugged, "It's the Gazette's night. Maybe it's like you said, sometimes you just have to respect that," her hand whisked through the air, "and move on."
"You'll regret it." Perry picked up the phone. "You'll regret not meeting him."
"If he's half as good as everyone and their mothers seems to think he is, then there's always next year." Lois leaned in a little, "I'll wear a pretty dress and everything." In the doorway she turned around and thumbed at herself, "And he can meet me."