Author's Note: Whee, author's note has been modified due to reader confusion! I'm always trying to help! The "Need to Know" section shall apply to all subsequent chapter unless noted differently in the chapter's author's note. Okay? Okay. Great!
Dictionary – Need to Know: Chlois theory in effect! (Chloe is Lois) Clark and Chloe are married. Both work for the Planet. Clark is Superman; Chloe knows. ...Chloe still has blonde hair? (I just realized I said she did in my other two similar timeline stories...well, if I can make Chloe be Lois, I can make Lois have blonde hair, right? No? Drat. Dark hair then.) Got a question about anything else? Let me know and I'll update this section.
Perry was on a witch hunt, and no one was safe. The Planet had been scooped—again!—by the Sun on what he had been assured was an exclusive story. The editor was so furious that he had actually come out of his office and was glaring down the quailing reporters in the newsroom. Even the ones who had absolutely nothing to do with the story (such as the restaurant critic, who looked like he might pass out if Perry turned his glare on him again) were chewing on the insides of their lips, waiting for the imminent explosion. One of their number was about to become the sacrificial lamb, and nobody wanted to stand out.
There were very few times when the newsroom of The Daily Planet was silent, but at this point nobody dared to breathe, let alone speak. All eyes were on Perry. Keyboards and telephone calls were abandoned, pencils had stopped their scritching mid-word. The tension was thicker than the Pakistani intern's accent.
Then a loud whistled tune caused everyone's heads to snap towards the glass doors. A tall man was approaching, a smile pasted on his features and laptop bag bumping against his hip as he strode, innocent and clueless, towards the slaughter. He was so perfectly oblivious to the danger that several people gasped, their mouths forming little round "o"s of horror. Not Clark!
Perry's face grew redder than ever as one of Clark's notes went horribly off-key. The reporter's hand was on the doorknob. Everyone could hear the whoosh of air as the pressure adjusted, then Clark was inside. Instantly his tune ceased. He had obviously sensed he was in dangerous waters, but far too late. Desperately looking from side to side, as if trying to find an escape route, Clark hastily shoved his glasses up the bridge of his nose and made a strangled noise.
Perry looked from the clock on the wall to the paralyzed newcomer, a look somewhere between unimaginable fury and a cat ready to pounce on a mouse crossing his face. Clark was thirty-six minutes late, had a minor history of incompetence when it came to keeping a big story secret, and frankly, had been whistling one of Perry's least favorite songs. There seemed to be no hope. The editor had found his lamb. Perry's mouth widened, his throat convulsed, then—
"It was my fault!" a voice screeched suddenly. A woman thudded her hands against her desk as she stood, trembling. "My fault," she repeated breathlessly as all the eyes in the room swiveled upon her. "I guess I was being followed, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean for it to happen!"
"Lois...?" Perry said weakly, the color draining out of his face as the woman fished around on her desk for a tissue and dabbed at her eyes.
"Lois" nodded briefly, adding, "I'm sorry, Mr. White..." before dissolving into muffled sobs. Perry swallowed thickly, walked over to the crying woman, and slipped an arm around her paternally, trying to calm her from her obviously distraught state.
Allowing herself to be escorted towards his office, the woman threw a look back over her shoulder at Clark, who has sunk back against the wall in relief, a hand clutching at his chest. But this wasn't a tear-filled, I-hope-you're-okay look. This was a there-had-better-be-chocolate-cake-waiting-for-me-when-I-get-home look. Clark, catching the meaning, nodded weakly.
"This is really good," Chloe murmured, eyes closed as she took another bite of an enormous slice of Molten-Fudge Double-Espresso Malted-Milk-Ball Triple-Decker Cocoa Cake A La Mode. "Where'd you get it?"
"A diner outside Albany, New York," Clark responded, massaging her feet, which were currently resting on his lap as they lounged on the couch in their apartment. "They have the best "I'm Sorry," "Thank You," and "You're An Absolute Goddess" cakes around."
"I'm going to have to stand up for you more often if this is the result," Chloe sighed blissfully, lifting another forkful to her mouth.
"Which reminds me, thank you so much. If I weren't practically invincible I probably would've keeled over right there from Perry's glare alone. It wasn't my fault that story got leaked, and I know it wasn't yours."
"No problem. He didn't even yell at me. Just patted me on the shoulder and told me to be more careful in the future. I'm telling you, turn on the waterworks and Perry White melts every time," the woman giggled, shifting so Clark could massage her calves too.
"I'm sure it works better if you're a beautiful world-renowned female investigative journalist, too, and not some bumbling idiot," her husband replied with a wry smile, happily complying to Chloe's unspoken demand for him to work out the knots in her legs.
"Well, somebody has to stick up for Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter. Otherwise he'd get walked all over," Chloe grinned, licking frosting off of her fork.
Clark chuckled. "My hero."
Taadaa! That was Aegis (definition: support, protection, a shield). Got a word? Let me know! I'm loving where this idea is going! Thanks for reading!