TITLE: Fired

AUTHOR: Gaeriel Mallory (gaeriel_mallory @ hotmail.com)

RATING: G

FANDOM: Lois and Clark

DISTRIBUTION: Photon's Crossing, FF.net, LnC Fanfic Archives. Anyone else, just ask.

DISCLAIMER: Superman, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, etc. belong to DC Comics, December 3rd Productions, TNT, and whoever else holds the rights. The plot idea, however, is all mine.

NOTE: No A-plot in this one. For a change, I decided to actually write something in which Lois reveals some of how she really feels about Clark; not so much by words, however, but by actions. Enjoy :)

Perry White sighed. He didn't like having to do what he was going to do, but it was his job. Clark was like a second son to him, but first and foremost, Clark was his employee. He was a great reporter, and his writing style complemented that of Lois's, but even that was not enough for Perry to overlook Clark's faults.

Clark Kent poked his head in through the office door. "You wanted to see me, Chief?"

Perry nodded and waved to a chair. "Have a seat, son. There's something I want to talk to you about."

Clark sat down, a little nervous. He had seen Perry happy, sad, and angry, but never before had he seen such Perry so...neutral. "What is it?"

Perry leaned forward on his desk and clasped his hands. "Clark, you're one fine reporter, and you do good work, but I've been told that you've been taking company time to do personal things." He began listing them on his fingers. "Getting haircuts, returning library books, going shopping--I've even heard something about picking up deliveries from the Cheese-of-the-Month Club."

Clark was beginning to look embarrassed. "Look, Mr. White, I know that I've run out a number of time, but I swear to you, that I would never do anything to jeopardize my job here."

Perry shook his head. "I'm sorry, son. I really am, but it's policy. I'm sorry, Clark, but I'm afraid that I'm going to have to let you go."

Clark sat there stunned. "Chief—?" he asked hesitantly.

"I'm really sorry. But there's nothing that I can do. Lois barged in here to complain to me yesterday after you left for some reason or another. Normally, I wouldn't have done anything, but I was in the middle of a meeting with one of the Suits from upstairs. The guy practically ordered me to fire you."

Clark left Perry's office in something of a daze. In the past year, the Planet had become home for him. He could have never thought about leaving it. And Lois—! What was he going to do without her, without seeing her everyday? It was ironic that Lois had caused him to be fired from the Planet.

Lois looked up from her desk. "What did Perry want?" she asked.

He sat down at the chair next to her desk. "He fired me."

"What?!?" Lois looked at her partner in shock. "But why?"

Clark told her. Lois's eyes widened and she looked ashamed. "Oh, Clark. I'm so sorry. I would never—"

Clark cut her off. "I know you wouldn't, Lois. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to clean out my desk and pick up my last paycheck down in accounting."

Lois jumped up. "Oh no. We're going to fight this." She grabbed Clark's arm and started marching towards Perry's office, ignoring Clark's protests.

She did not bother to knock, but rather opened the door and entered without an invitation. "Perry! You cannot fire Clark!"

Perry looked up from his paperwork with a look of resignation. He knew that as soon as Lois heard, she would be in here arguing. "I'm sorry, Lois honey, but my hands are tied. If it makes you feel any better, I argued until I was blue with Mr. Burksten but he wouldn't budge."

Lois crossed her arms and took her I'm-here-and-you're-not-getting-rid-of-me-until-I-get-what-I-want stance that had broken down many a receptionist and possible informants. "Fine. Well, if the Planet wants to let go of their second best reporter, then they're going to have to do without half of the best team they have."

Perry sighed. "I know, Lois. I told Burksten that myself, but he said that no one can be above the rules."

"Fine. Then I quit."

"Lois!" She silenced the rest of what Clark had been about to say with a glare. Turning her attention back to Perry, she said, "I'm serious, Perry. If you fire Clark, then I quit. I'm sure that the Star would be glad to add to their payroll the 'Hottest Team in Town.'"

"That rag?" Perry said disbelievingly. "Lois, you must be joking."

"Consider this my two week notice, Perry." Lois turned on her heel and stalked out of the room, leaving behind a baffled Clark and shocked Perry.

*        *        *

"Lois! Wait up, please!" Clark ran to catch up with Lois.

She turned in the middle of the busy sidewalk and waited for Clark. As soon as he reached her side, she turned around again and continued walking. "Ok, now the way I figure it, the Suits will be so scared to lose me that they'll hire the two of us back in a flash. They will never stand to lose both you and me to a competitor."

"How can you be so sure, Lois? They were willing to break up our partnership."

"Not they, only Burksten. When Perry tells the others what happened, we'll be hired back so fast that it would make Superman's head spin."

"I wish I had your confidence, Lois."

"Have faith, Kent. I'm positive that we'll be back behind our desks by the end of the week."

*        *        *

Two weeks later...

Lois sat in front of her television, dressed in pajamas and eating ice cream straight from the container. "No, you idiot. Don't fall for him! Go for your best friend! He loves you!"

She sighed and took another large bite of double fudge chocolate crunch ice cream as the woman on the screen fell into the arms of the rich and handsome businessman and began kissing him passionately. "Idiot," she muttered under her breath.

She looked up at a tapping on her window. Getting up, she set down her ice cream and went to let Superman in. He took in her appearance frowned slightly. "Lois, are you all right?"

"Why shouldn't I be fine? Just because I haven't had a job for two weeks and I've got nothing to do all day except to watch soap operas ... Why shouldn't I be fine?" As she spoke, her voice had been getting louder and louder until she was nearly shouting the last few words.

Superman held up his hands in front of him. "Calm down, Lois. I'm sure that everything will work out in the end. Look, if you want, I can go over to the Planet and put in a good word for you and Clark. I'd be happy to."

Lois shook her head. "You don't understand. I thought that I was so good that the Planet wouldn't bear to lose me. I thought that they'd come crawling on their knees after me, begging me to come back. But that didn't happen." Her voice turned bitter and she stared at the floor. "Guess I wasn't as good as I thought I was."

Fingers reached under her chin and lifted up her head. "Lois, you are the best reporter that I've ever known. And if the people in charge of the Planet can't see that, then it's there loss. If you wanted to, you could walk into any newspaper in the country, tell them who you were and they'd hire you on the spot. Trust me on this."

"But what about Clark?"

Superman looked surprised. "Clark?"

"Yeah. He was the reason I had quit—because he had been fired. Clark's my best friend and I couldn't imagine not seeing our names together on the front page. 'By Lois Lane and Clark Kent.' It's just ... right, somehow. Anything else would just be wrong. And it's not just that," she rushed on. "The Planet has been home for me for a long time now. I can't imagine writing for another paper. Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and the Daily Planet. They belong together."

"But why aren't you fighting this? I would have thought that you would have been out there trying to find a story that would have to make the Planet hire you back."

She smiled weakly. "Why bother? If they haven't banged on my door trying to get me back by now, I doubt they ever will. I thought that I meant more to the Planet than just another reporter."

He didn't know what to say to that. "I'm sure everything will be fine in the end," he said lamely before flying away.

"I wish I could believe that," she whispered.

*        *        *

Perry stood in the corner of the room holding a drink in his hand. Jimmy was leaning against the wall next to him. "This just doesn't feel right without Lois and CK."

I hear ya, Jimmy. I hear ya." Perry took a sip of his drink.

It was the Daily Planet's two month anniversary since reopening after the bombing. In honor of the occasion, Mr. Franklin Stern, the Planet's owner, had decided to hold a party in the newsroom.

"I mean, without CK, we would never have found out that Luthor had planted the bomb. You'd still be retired and I'd probably be flipping burgers somewhere."

"I know." Perry sighed.

Across the room, Mr. Stern was talking animatedly to a few people from Accounting. He laughed at something one of them said before he moved away. Spotting Perry and Jimmy, he smiled and waved and began walking towards them. "Great party, huh?"

"Yeah." "Great." The other two answered with false cheer.

"Too bad Lane and Kent aren't here. Where are they anyway? Out hunting down a front page story or something?"

"You mean you don't know?"

"Know what, Perry?"

"Clark was fired two weeks ago. That same day, Lois quit."

"What? Why?"

"Well, Lois told me about a few times Clark had left work for personal reasons and she did it in front of Mr. Burksten from upstairs. Well, he basically ordered me to fire Kent. Something about how no one was above the rules. When Lois heard, she quit."

"You're kidding me. With the stories those two bring in, I would have been more than willing to give him a little slack. But if Lois quit because you fired Clark, why didn't you just hire him back?"

"I wanted to but Burksten wouldn't let me."

Mr. Stern's eyes hardened. "You let me deal with Burksten. You just get our two best reporters back before sales drop off."

*        *        *

Lois and Clark walked back into the busy newsroom. As soon as they exited the elevator, the room erupted in cheers and shouts of welcome back. A large banner hung from the ceiling bearing the words, "Welcome Back Clark and Lois!"

"Why is your name first?" Lois grumbled under her breath.

Clark laughed. "Maybe they felt a little sorry for me because your name is always first in the byline."

Lois actually smiled at that and she stepped forward. "It's good to be back!" she called out.

Only more cheers greeted her statement. Clark hung in the background, smiling.

*        *        *

After the chaos died down and people resumed their routines, the two reporters headed towards Lois's desk. She sat down in her old chair with a sigh of satisfaction. "You know, Clark, I really am glad to be back."

He perched on the edge of her desk and smiled. "I know you are. I am, too."

"I can't believe that idiot Burksten actually had the nerve to get you fired."

"There's something I don't get, Lois. Why did you quit? You worked just fine without a partner before I came along."

Lois looked a little embarrassed. "Well, you know, Clark...you're more than just a partner—you're a friend. And friends are supposed to stick up for one another, and that's what I did. Stick up for you, I mean. And I guess I've gotten a little used to having you around." She flashed a mischievous grin at him. "And besides, who else will bring me my coffee in the morning?"