This is officially the earliest of the Snapshots series and our take on the night of the First Save, complete with Lois and Kal-El's history in the Little Secrets version of the 'verse. Some of this you guys are just now hearing about, some of it you've heard a bit about in tidbits through the oneshots and the epics. Here's hoping you like our version of events. Expect to hear more about the history of the beginning in oneshots throughout the rest of the year.

Do not set one of them above the rest, Jor-El had said, so many times that the mantra was engraved in his mind. He was supposed to be impartial, to keep his distance from individuals so he could love all humanity selflessly and equally. Clark found that increasingly difficult as he settled into his job at the Daily Planet, becoming friends with his coworkers. It was hard not to like the eager young photographer, or the crusty editor, not to mention…

Lois swept in then, reaching over him as he stared at his typewriter, lost in thought. He should've known – he'd picked up one of the donuts in the break room, and it had sat next to his coffee untouched for more than ten minutes. In Lois' mind, that made it fair game. The curve of her breast brushed his shoulder, feather light, and Clark tensed as if electrified. "Good thing you don't want this donut, huh?" Lois teased as she snatched it up, strolling away with a devilish smile on her lips and powdered sugar on her fingers.

Clark sighed. Lois didn't allow distance unless it was her idea. If she didn't like you, she got in your face to tell you about it. And if she did like you, she invaded your space freely, stole your food, drank your coffee, sat on your desk to chat with other reporters, and hid your office supplies when you scooped a story from her.

She reminded him of certain barn cats back home, the sort that would hiss and spit if you picked them up, give you a disdainful look if you tried to approach them when they were otherwise occupied, but if they wanted attention, they'd worm their way into your lap meowing and purring until you had to pet them or be smothered in cat fur.

And to his own surprise, Clark liked that about her. He liked nearly everything about Lois, as a matter of fact, from her brilliant smile when she landed a story to her surly pout while she waited for the coffee to brew in the mornings. Lois was incredibly courageous, she was deeply loyal to her friends, and she pursued her job with a single-minded ferocity that he couldn't help but admire. Even the things he probably shouldn't have liked seemed charming to Clark: her profanity, her swift temper, her sarcasm, and her cynicism.

Part of it was the fact that she was at her most beautiful when she was furious, a wrathful fascinating hurricane of a woman, and Clark found he couldn't tear his eyes away from her. Lois was nothing like any woman he'd ever met, certainly nothing like Lana, the last woman in his life he'd sighed after with disappointed longing. But then, he and Lana had just been kids. He'd fallen for red hair and a lovely smile, and never really gotten inside Lana's mind. They'd been good friends when they were little, but by high school they were both caught up in the separate storms of adolescence, strangers to each other and themselves.

Lois had her own striking beauty, and Clark knew her. In only a month, they'd become fast friends. From whispers he'd overheard, Lois had decided to protect him, to shelter the obviously naïve farmboy from the cutthroat reporters. That meant only she could harass him.

On the other hand, no matter how much she joked and teased him, she never noticed him as anything more than a friend. Clark had tried to make a few overtures, telling himself it was part of his disguise. Few men would fail to try getting a date with a woman as attractive as Lois, after all, and never mind that when she was near he was tempted to forget about 'distance' entirely. She never seemed to take him seriously, but then, it was Clark asking her, shy awkward Clark, who was always polite even in the face of insult.

He was surprised to realize how much of his diffidence was unfeigned. All those years of holding back, guarding his secret, and then training for his mission, had left him inexperienced in relationships. Clark gave a rueful little chuckle. Just how on earth could he expect Lois to be interested in him? Look at her, look at the kind of man she was currently dating…

Lois was seeing Dr. Marrin, who happened to be a psychiatrist. He was suave, sophisticated, and utterly casual about relationships. Lois had openly said there was no love, no romance between them; it was all about fulfilling certain basic needs. That horrified Clark, that any man could spend so much time in her company and not fall in love with her. She deserved better.

And they had broken up more times than Clark could remember. That was a pretty strong indicator of unsuitability, to Clark's mind. Dr. Marrin clearly didn't appreciate Lois, and she obviously wasn't as happy as she should be. Maybe what Lois really needed was a plain old-fashioned good guy for once, someone who respected her and enjoyed being with her.

He realized where his train of thought was heading, and tried to derail it. How could he continue to keep his rescues secret if he started spending even more time around a keen reporter? But the thought was too tempting. Maybe if he just took her out to dinner once… That wasn't really dating, and Jor-El couldn't find anything to disapprove of.

Having successfully made off with the only donut left in the City Room (there was rumored to be a box in there with Foswell, but there were some things that didn't make even donuts worth filching) , Lois escaped to the break room to polish off the donut with a fresh cup of coffee-flavored tar. She couldn't stop the instinctive wince that went along with the first sip. Tradition at its finest, she thought with a smirk. Even though she'd been drinking this demons-brew since she was sixteen, the bite was still there, although the payoff more than made up for the damage to your digestive system when you needed to wide-awake until what could potentially be a fourteen-hour workday. The Old Man hadn't really cleaned out the coffee urns since he'd installed them over fifteen years ago, just had a secretary rinse them off each morning before brewing a fresh batch. The brew became thicker and darker and more intense throughout the day, thanks in part to the residue in the urn and the staff's tendency to let a pot sit on the warmer until someone drank the last of it. Lethal to your average guy on the street, better than any energy drink or pill on the market for the brave souls of City who quaffed it all day long. That is, if you could handle the occasional heart palpitations.

The reporter sauntered back over to her desk while licking the last of the sugar off her fingers. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she caught Freizon's jaw hanging open as he watched her in a way that make him look utterly mesmerized. Oh, for God's sake. Seriously? But rather than say something scathing at the ridiculousness, Lois decided to kill him with kindness and put an extra sway in her step as she dropped herself into her chair. Any minute now… At the squeak of her chair, Gil glanced up from his keyboard, startled and curious. The moment he spotted the look on his friend's face, in connection with the fact that Lane had just sat down, he was busting his chops over it. It had been the same routine for the last three years.

Stifling a snicker, Lois kept her eyes glued to the notes on President Salkind's ETA for this evening's press conference, although a tiny smile betrayed the fact that she was listening to every word. Poor Bill, he'd been ogling her since she was hired, but she'd made it clear that dating anyone she worked with was completely impossible. Never. Never ever. It was one of her top Rules of Reporting, right up there with always getting a source and never letting anyone steal her story. And neither had happened more than once this far. And she had found ways to annihilated those that tried. Jasperson still crossed the hallway to avoid running into her alone after pulling that fast one. He'd also transferred over to Travel after that. Lesson learned.

It was only then that she noticed the message light on her phone was blinking, and Lois couldn't help pursing her lips in aggravation. If the light was flashing this early, odds were thirty to one that it was one Doctor Elliot Marrin, whom she was dating yet again. If you could call it that after this many go-rounds. They had had an arrangement on and off the last few years, a mutually beneficial arrangement, that included social functions and philosophical discussions. And frequent and quite excellent sex. Yeah, putting it that way sounded a little crass, a little cold, but it was imminently practical for their busy lives and more truthful than trying to call it a romance; it suited Lois not to have to be tangled up in romantic attachments when she had a career to focus on, and it suited Elliot to have a beautiful young woman on his arm and in his bed without too many demands on his time. Now if only he'd quit trying to use his professional skills on her, trying to peel back the layers and figure her out… What possessed me to date a freakin' shrink, of all things? And why the hell did I let Loueen get me involved with him in the first place?

She shook her head slightly; as many times as she wanted to duct-tape his mouth over the questions after the lights were out, the pros outweighed the cons the majority of the time, and that really was what mattered, right? No more messy breakup scenes like that with Cameron, although in the end it had proven worse for him than for her. As it should have – Lois Lane did not tolerate men cheating on her. Period. That much she could trust Elliot on. Between his practice and his need to show up at all the upper-crust events in town in the evening, he simply did not have the time. As if she didn't give him incentive besides, she thought with a smirk.

She usually didn't tolerate them psychoanalyzing her, judging her, either, but Elliott had wisely kept his pontificating mouth shut until he knew her well enough to know exactly when and how to spring his little observations on her. In bed in the small hours of the morning, perhaps, or in the car on the way back from the symphony, he'd make innocuous small talk. At least, it seemed innocuous, until he'd tricked her into talking about her childhood or her father or what it was like to go to twelve different schools in five countries over the span of eight years. Somehow she always wound up letting him see the cracks in her armor she spent so much time and effort hiding from everyone else, and she resented him for it. Which explained why they were on their sixth go-round now. Sure, he made her want to throttle him, but she had yet to find another man who could meet all of her needs without too many of the negatives to ruin it. It was a good compromise.

So why did she keep feeling like something was missing?

Almost as soon as the question rose in her mind, she quashed it. Deep introspection was not on the agenda today. Save that for the weekend and the independent film festival Elliot was dragging her to in Boston. As if she were looking forward to that… Not wanting to get into that either, Lois shrugged off the annoying thought. Enough time to dwell on that later. Unbeknownst to the boys, Perry had pulled her aside this morning to inform her that she had a President to interview tonight.

The memory of that shoved all of the other crap out of her mind. Galloway had been begging Perry for the opportunity to grab this one, every hour on the hour, from the moment the appearance had been announced. And that had been his fatal mistake. Several big stories had gone by while he begged the EIC for the big fish, all of which Lois had snapped up and stayed late working on, all the while proving herself capable of surpassing him once and for all. Galloway had finally proved that he read too much of his own press. That's what had done him in and prompted Perry to give her the kind of opportunity that could cement her star reporter status for all time.

After vacillating most of the day, Clark finally decided to go ahead and do it. Ask Lois out to dinner – she couldn't brush that off or misinterpret it, not if it was phrased directly.

First he had to catch up to her. Once she decided to leave, Lois wanted to be gone; she was up out of her desk, grabbing her coat, and striding fast in high heels. Clark followed her, snagging the garment bag for her, but he could barely get a word in edgewise as Lois set about finishing the day's tasks. Clearly she didn't have a minute that wasn't already being used for two or three different things.

As they approached the bullpen door and Lois dropped off her mail with Alice, Clark managed to pop the question. It actually sounded halfway natural, not nervous and forced and stuttering, because he had no time to over-think it.

The words were barely out of his mouth when Lois turned him down, never even looking up at him. "Oh, gosh, Clark, I'm sorry. I'm booked."

"Oh." Crestfallen, he had time to think that at least she'd let him down gently. The last time Bill had tried to finagle a date with her, Lois' scathing reply had left the man unable to face her for a week.

"Yeah, Air Force One's landing at the airport…" Lois rattled off the details of her latest assignment, stopping in mid-sentence to call a goodbye to one of the secretaries. It occurred to Clark that this moment was quintessentially Lois: she was moving fast, multitasking, her mind fixed on her goal, and completely ignoring his attempt at romance. Typical of her, really. She never wasted a moment on anything 'soft'.

"My goodness, don't you ever let up?" Clark asked with half a laugh, both amazed and amused. He'd never met anyone as driven as Lois, nor met any woman so utterly focused on her career.

Little did he realize that his comment had scored more deeply than he meant it to. Lois' head came up, her gaze flat for a moment, but this was Clark. He didn't deserve to get the really sharp side of her tongue. Still, it was high time he bought himself a clue. This was Metropolis, and unlike whatever backwater he'd come from in Kansas, not every woman in the city was content with the American Dream (For Girls): a husband to pamper, a house to clean, and kids to raise. Especially not this girl.

Lois couldn't help stepping up onto her soapbox a bit, drawing the obvious comparison with her own sister. Lucy was perfectly happy with three kids, two cats, and one mortgage, but that was Lois' worst nightmare. She loved her nephew and nieces, but 4 AM feedings and endless diaper changes on top of the cooking and cleaning and yard work … blech! Lois would rather have a string of violent murders to write up or a politician to grill.

Poor Clark wasn't giving up, though, offering her a ride to the airport – did the man even own a car? She'd always seen him walking to work. Lois turned him down yet again, got her coat, and gently stopped him from following her into the ladies' room. He tried one more time, though, and that was once too many for Lois' patience, shutting the door in his face. Another man would've been slapped for his temerity.

One of the girls from accounting had been at the sink the whole time, and she gave Lois a slight smirk and shake of the head, international female sign language for men, aren't they adorably clueless? Lois could only smile half-heartedly back, feeling like she'd just kicked a puppy. But somehow she had to let Clark know to just quit already.

Outside, Clark sighed and turned to go, only to realize his coat was trapped in the door. The door on the other side of which Lois was presently getting undressed, and that was not a thought he could entertain for more than an instant if he didn't want to blush all the way to the tips of his ears. It wouldn't tug loose, so he had to knock and ask Lois to open the door so he could retrieve his coat.

Fortunately, she needed something mailed, and stuck her head out to hand the letter to him. He'd no sooner taken the letter than Lois shut the door in his face again. Guess I really struck out there, Clark thought morosely. Maybe this was meant to be, proof that Jor-El was right. Lois had no interest in him whatsoever, and that stung. He had to admit that asking her out wasn't some exercise designed to maintain his cover as the unlikeliest hero ever, nor was it an attempt to remind her there were better men in the world than Dr. Marrin.

No, the simple truth was, he was already falling for her. And Lois Lane was unreachable, impossible, especially since he worked with her. Preoccupied, Clark got shut out of one elevator, tried to get on another going the wrong way, and was totally ignored by a couple of reporters whom he tried to offer a friendly good night. Sighing again, he waited for the elevator to come back.

Meanwhile, Lois got changed and headed for the roof. Her ride was on its way, a two-seat helicopter. In a city the size of Metropolis, it was often a more efficient way of getting around the tall buildings than descending to street level and bothering with taxis. And of course the Daily Planet had to have two dedicated news helicopters for its reporters' use. Lois had done it often enough as a reporter and an Army brat that it was routine now, and she hopped in without hesitation, greeted the pilot, and buckled herself in before allowing herself to imagine the look on Galloway's face when he realized he wasn't going to this press conference: 'the girl' was.

Her eyes narrowed a fraction at that. Galloway had never referred to her by name in the two years she'd worked the City beat. She was always 'the girl' or 'that girl' or worse, 'Perry's pet', all of which infuriated her. And, what was worse, he knew it did. Let him call her whatever he liked, she was twice the reporter he was, and now she had a chance to prove it.

Enough about the past; the future was ahead of her. Lois started silently going over her questions for the president. She was keyed-up, tense; Lois wouldn't allow herself to call her state of mind nervous, no matter how true it was. Consequently she wasn't quite as alert to her surroundings as she normally would have been.

Perhaps if she hadn't been so locked onto the task at hand, she might have seen the thin black cable when it popped loose and began whipping around on the black roof, perhaps not. Either way, Lois had no idea anything was wrong until the helicopter suddenly swayed in midair.

She'd been on plenty of flights, many of them with hotshot military pilots who didn't care about the niceties of civilian travel, and she'd never in her life felt such a sickening lurch. It reminded her of a time when she'd been walking to work, and some idiot's little yapping dog had tried to lunge at her. The mutt had hit the end of the leash and been jerked back, the elasticity of the leather making it look comical.

Well, it didn't feel comical when she was the one hitting a tether and feeling the whole craft yanked backwards. The pilot and control tower started shouting to each other, and having walked into this high-strung, Lois began to freak out. She was no longer on the ground, the helicopter wasn't responding at all to the pilot's efforts, they were bobbing and swaying a few feet off the paved roof, and the whole situation was spiraling totally out of control. Her single worst fear, come to life at incredibly high stakes.

The 'copter began to spin wildly, smashing into the control tower and careening back toward the edge of the roof. The entire world had narrowed to the sickening flash of red, blue, and white lights as they turned in ever faster, even wider circles. Lois couldn't hold back a wail, forced to admit that she was unable to get herself out of this situation, her mind vapor-locked in sheer panic. There was nothing she could do, nothing at all, no way out, not a shred of control…

Then the helicopter struck the roof railing and caught, losing its lift and momentum as the two of them were bounced around in their seats. A moment later it was hung up on the very edge by one skid, the rotors spinning to a stop, the smell of burning in the air. The pilot collapsed, and Lois shook him, trying to wake him up. They had to get out of here now, dammit!

One final lurch sideways threw Lois against the door, which popped open. She found herself hanging by her seat belt, staring out the open door at the sidewalk sixty-five stories below. It felt like her heart stopped and her lungs froze at that moment, her eyes huge as she stared down at the pavement yawning below her. This was surreal. Her day had been filled with a lot of little worries: how to keep Galloway from realizing he'd been scooped, what to ask the President, how to give Clark a hint without crushing his innocent Midwestern soul, what to wear to the press conference. Yet now she had only one thing on her mind: surviving to plant her ankle-strap heels on solid ground once more.

With no easy options, Lois found herself doing the sensible thing, and screamed for help.

She heard no reply. No one came running, and the helicopter was still rocking precariously. Bracing herself, she took a deep breath. No rescue from that quarter. Only one thing to do, then. Unbuckling her seat belt went against every instinct, but she'd rather not be strapped into this bird when it went over the side for good. Which, eventually, it would. Resolutely not looking down, Lois started to climb over the unconscious pilot. She'd help him later if she could, but the first rule in any emergency was to secure your own safety before helping others.

Lois was almost to the far door when she lost her grip and started to slip into gravity's embrace. She caught herself immediately, but happened to glance down again and felt her stomach lurch. There were people gathering on the street below now, and their screams of horror and shock were drifting up to her. And here she was, sixty-five stories from the ground, clinging to an accident waiting to happen She couldn't help a howl of sheer terror.

But this was no time to be a damsel in distress. It took all of her stubborn will, but she managed to refocus for a moment. You get it together or it's curtains, kiddo. You can let your brain leak out with the stress later. Now's not the time for it. The helicopter still wasn't stable; she had to get out. She clawed and scrambled her way back up to the far door, and braced her legs so her hands were free to push it open. The door was heavier than she'd expected, and the force she was using to push against it rocked the entire craft.

One more push would do it… Lois shoved hard as hard as she could, still yelling for help, and to her horror, she felt the helicopter lurch again. Without warning, she was jarred loose, the leather of her skirt sliding slickly over the leather of the seats. Wild with sheer terror, her hands scrabbled for a hold as she drew closer to the edge, and just managed to catch her own seat belt in a death grip.

The reporter came to an abrupt stop, heart in her throat to find herself hanging onto the slick leather belt so tightly her knuckles were white. Her black ankle-strap heels dangled sixty-five stories above the ground, and a small part of her mind was blackly amused. A seat belt? A freaking seat belt. Are you kidding me?

Stuck. An unwieldy chopper on the verge of falling above her, now impossible to reach, and the ground looming below her with gravity closing further and further in by the instant. These thoughts in mind, Lois didn't dare let go with one hand to try for a higher grip on the belt; she was too far away from the helicopter and the building now to reach either one. And her palms were sweating with fear, which made the leather belt even more slippery. She was trapped, with only one place to go. No way out of it this time. All Lois could do was let loose a panicked scream.

On the street below, Clark had finally managed to make his way out of the building, preoccupied with his dilemma. How could he possibly get Lois to notice him? It wasn't an issue that would change the fate of the world, but it meant a lot to…

Something caught the corner of his eye then, and he turned around, surprised to see Lois' hat lying on the sidewalk. He frowned a bit at that. That didn't seem like Lois at all. With the way she was about her things, there was no way she would have left it if it had blown off right outside the doors. That didn't make any sense. Even less so when he remembered she'd taken a helicopter, so the question of how the hat got here remained.

Only then did he notice the terrified crowd milling about and the emergency personnel around him. His frown growing deeper, he glanced at the hat again. And from up above came a familiar voice raised in a shriek of stark horror. Clark looked up with sudden dread, his heart sinking. His enhanced vision made the situation at hand hellishly clear. Far above him, Lois dangled beneath the smoking, wrecked helicopter. By what looked like a safety belt.

He'd been wearing the uniform his father had given him underneath his suit for a couple of months now, trying to decide when and how to go public with his rescues. The few he had done so far had been done at blinding speed, witnesses seeing nothing but the final result and none of them being done in Metropolis city limits. Jor-El was wrong; there was no way he could hide this indefinitely. He'd been biding his time, trying to decide what way to go about revealing his mission. That decision had been taken from him the moment he'd looked up; he had to save Lois. Now. No one else could. He could not just be a bystander. His mind locked on that one plan, all that was important at the moment was looking for a place to quickly change. The phone booth he was standing near was no good, but a revolving door of the hotel up the street would do, and it blurred with his speed.

As he stepped out, now clad for the first time in red and blue, someone called out on seeing him, but Clark wasn't paying attention. Now sure of what he was going to do, he reoriented on Lois and soared upward, focused only on her.

No matter how tightly she held on, Lois couldn't resist the persistent tug of gravity forever. Her hands slid to the end of the belt and caught there for a second, every ounce of her determination and survival instinct dedicated to just holding on in a death grip. But then, inevitably, the helicopter started to come further loose, shifting downward again. Her blood ran cold, knowing that the thing could go at any second, and felt the tension in her hands tighten into a cramp at the same time. Oh God. Oh God. Nononono! Her arms were shaking, burning with the effort of holding on, cramping more and more the tighter she held on. Another screech of twisting metal, then the inevitable happened before Lois could even brace herself. She slipped loose and fell, plummeting straight down. Her despairing scream trailed off as Lois recognized the inescapability of her death. This is it, no Pulitzer, no fame, it's all over now, just a twenty-something reporter with shitty luck and a gruesome end.

This is it. Over. Dammit.

She had just begun making her peace with it, surrendering to a fate she could no longer change when she felt the sensation of a strong arm around her. The rush of air stopped abruptly as she jerked to a halt in midair, letting out a startled yelp. What? How? The eyes she had closed tightly against the final images she knew she'd see shot open in disbelief; Lois found herself staring into an obviously amused blue-eyed gaze. What was easily the handsomest man she'd ever seen was telling her, "Easy miss, I've got you."

Seriously? What the fuck? The last two seconds of my life and I've completely lost it. She had always heard that your entire life would be passing before your eyes before you bought it. But that hadn't happened, and the sensation of falling had completely stopped. Which just made her all the more sure her brain had broken. This couldn't be happening. "You… You've got me? Who's got you?" she exclaimed in incredulity, glancing down at the ground growing further away by the instant. Before she could even get her mind around this, she realized that they were headed back up toward the roof.

She'd been saved by a flying man in blue tights and a red cape. This had to be some kind of last-second fantasy, her brain hallucinating an unattainable rescue. Whatever, the vision of impossible hope was worth clinging to, better than seeing the sidewalk that was about to turn her into pavement pizza, so Lois decided to go with it. She threw her arms around his neck and hung on.

Without warning, she heard a familiar shrieking metallic sound that threatened to tear away this dream. Oh God, come on! Don't ruin it. This almost makes up for the fact that I'll be a smear on the pavement in a sec. Come on! Lois looked away from the miraculous stranger with dread in her gaze, just in time to see the helicopter break loose and fall toward them … and the dozens of rubber-neckers below. Without even a pause of consideration, they hurdled toward it. Seeing death smashing down toward her and obliterating this rescue fantasy once and for all, Lois gasped, but the flying man just moved smoothly out of the helicopter's path, and then caught it by the skid as it came level with them. The reporter could only stare at first the 'copter, then him in stunned wonder. Damn, my imagination is fantastic, she thought, staring wide-eyed at her savior.

This was totally unreal, impossible, FUBAR, and for the first time in her life Lois found herself completely speechless and utterly bewildered.

Kal-El beamed at her. Without the glasses, with his hair styled differently, and in a state of severe shock, Lois didn't even recognize him as Clark Kent. It was all he could do not to laugh out loud in triumph. It had worked. Well, she's noticing me now! This makes up for everything I couldn't do, all my life – the football games I could never play in, the powers I could never display. Now, finally, this is what I was always meant to be.

His confidence was absolute, and Lois' rapt gaze only increased it. He'd never seen genuine awe in her expression, and to have it directed at him was simply perfect. Astounding, even. Catching Lois and then the helicopter presented no problems, with his flight and strength. He soared gently up over the broken railing, and managed to set them all down lightly.

He called to the control room operators, letting them know the pilot needed help. Lois was still staring at him, overwhelmed and not at all fearful. Someone else might have been frightened of something as strange as he appeared to be, but Lois' courage was one of the things he had begun to love about her.

Kal-El looked down into Lois' wide hazel eyes, and gave her a little speech about the safety of flying, just to see what she'd say. She merely nodded without a change of expression, the words flowing over her without breaking the spell. He turned to go, still grinning elatedly, and that was when Lois gathered her scattered wits and found her voice again.

"Wait!' she called out, and he turned back around, wondering if he had gotten ahead of himself on whether she recognized him or not. Knowing now just how dogged she could be when she had her mind set on finding out a secret, he felt his stomach flutter. Her next words mollified that fear, as she asked, "Who are you?"

Even then, Lois had an air of barely being able to string a sentence together, and his eyes sparkled with delight. Someone had finally flummoxed the unstoppable Lois Lane, and it was him. "A friend," he answered truthfully, trying not to grin enough to give himself away, and took off while she was still staring perplexedly. Her head fell back to watch him go, their gazes still locked. Just before making himself look away, he gave her a little wave and called, "Bye."

Below him, he could feel her eyes on him while Lois waved back dazedly until the enormity of this entire situation weighed down on her. All of it crashed down at once; now on solid ground, those hazel eyes promptly rolled back and she fainted right there on the helipad.

He didn't see her collapse; he was taking possession of the skies over Metropolis for the first time since he had arrived a month ago, seeing a thousand possibilities of making his mission public. He'd finally gotten the girl of his dreams to notice him, and on the soaring high of that victory, he set out to make his intentions toward the city plain. If he was out of hiding, he might as well show them what he could do. And not far away a jewel thief was scaling a building…

Turning mid-flight to make his way toward the sound of suction on glass, he could almost hear the click of his life snapping into place. This was where he belonged, who he was supposed to be. And he couldn't wait to get started.