Back in Town
“I’m just thinking about work, I guess,” Lana said. “The trial will start right after New Year’s Day.”
“A week from tomorrow?” Clark asked.
“Yup. Monday, January 3rd, I make my debut in front of a judge here in Kansas.”
“You’re not getting nervous, are you?”
“Yeah. A little bit anyway.” Lana looked over at Clark. She could see the concern in his eyes. While she thought his concern was sweet, she also thought it was unnecessary, so she said, “Don’t worry about me, I always get nervous right before a trial. Once I’m in court and doing my thing, the butterflies disappear and everything’s all right.”
“So, do you have any more prep to do before you start jury selection?”
“Not really, but I do have a meeting scheduled with one of Ed Kinser’s old confidential informants.”
“Really? A meeting?”
“Eh……well, not an actual meeting, more like a secret phone call. This person seems to think he or she is the next Deep Throat. Whoever it is won’t even give me a name, but claims to have some inside information that I‘ll want. Ed’s files claim that this person has been an infallible source of information, so I’m going to make the call and see what he’s got to say.”
“Now it’s a he?”
Lana shrugged her shoulders. “Gut feeling.”
“When’s this call?”
“Tomorrow…and before you ask anything more, let me say that’s all I can tell you.”
“Don’t think you can use the ‘puppy dog eyes’ on me, either. When it comes to work, you’re a reporter and I’m a prosecutor. I do have to keep some things secret from you.”
Acknowledging the justice of Lana’s stance on her need to protect her sources, Clark backed off, but while his eyes were on the road, his mind was still busy thinking about her and her upcoming phone call.
Metropolis first appeared as an indistinct glow of light on the horizon. Then, road signs proclaiming the many services available in the city became more and more frequent. Soon, Clark was driving on the city’s ring road and then navigated the rented Lincoln down mostly deserted streets.
Once at Lana’s building, Clark unloaded her luggage and helped her carry it upstairs. He hadn’t said any more about her work, but felt compelled to give her a word of warning before he left. “Be careful about trusting any of Ed’s informants.”
Lana set her small suitcase down in her bathroom and came back out. “Why? He rated the guy very highly for reliability.”
“Yeah…” Clark said, slowly, “Lois and I had a number of C.I.s, too, but each and every one of them had been discovered and killed by the time I was able to get back around to reestablishing the evidence for our story after they killed her. These people seem to be good at counter-intelligence, they may already know about your informant.”
Lana liked the fact that Clark was seriously concerned for her well-being, but even more than that, she loved the fact that he wasn’t trying to tell her what to do, he was just warning her and letting her make her own decisions.
So many guys in my life have wanted to control me under the guise of ‘protecting’ me. Even Bruce tried to do that a time or two. It’s nice being treated like an equal for once. I’m not weaker just because I’m smaller or because I’m a woman.
“I’ll be sure to keep Superman informed if I go anywhere. Is that good enough?”
Nodding his head grudgingly, Clark agreed. Still, he knew women well enough to know that Lana’s idea of ‘keeping Superman informed’ was likely a whole lot different than his. Sounds like I’m going to need to tell my informants to be on the lookout for anything involving the new prosecutor.
“Keeping Superman in the loop sounds fine to me. I will hold you to that though. Your safety is more important to me than any number of new leads. Got it?”
“You’re so cute when you’re concerned for me,” Lana said, as she stepped into the circle of his arms.
Surprised and bemused by being called ‘cute,’ Clark said, “I think the last person who said I was cute, was Rachel.”
“It was the first day Rachel and I met face-to-face. Bruce used to talk about her constantly, but I never got to meet her until they became engaged.”
“You weren’t at the engagement party,” Lana commented. “I’d have remembered someone like you being there.”
“Thanks…I think.” Clark grinned briefly, but thinking back to that day brought a faraway look into his eyes. “I couldn’t make it to Gotham City for that, though I was supposed to be there. There had been a seven-alarm fire that morning at a low-income housing project here in Metropolis. Perry already had plenty of writers to cover the story, but I just needed to be here…to help in any way that I could.”
“That’s very noble of you,” Lana said, and she meant it. She was touched by the idea that Clark would sacrifice a night designed to honor two close friends in an attempt to help people who needed him more. “How’d you finally meet her?”
“They were on vacation a few weeks later and they both made it a point to come here so she could finally meet me, and vice-versa. She saw me, and told Bruce that she thought I was ‘too cute for words.’ I just rolled my eyes at Bruce, and that’s when she found out I have pretty good hearing.”
“You must have. Rachel is normally a very careful. I don’t think she would have wanted to embarrass you like that.”
“She didn’t embarrass me, it’s just that I usually save the word ‘cute’ for babies, young girls in white pinafores on Easter Sunday, and you.”
Lana started swaying side-to-side, and when Clark responded in kind, they began to dance out around the bedroom as they talked.
“Too bad we don’t have any music in here,” Lana commented as they moved together. Contrary to Clark’s protests the day they met, he seemed to her to be a decent dancer, just as he had been the night of her office party. That’s something I’ll have to investigate further at a later date…or maybe on a later date.
“Too bad we aren’t at my place,” Clark countered. “You can hear the sound system perfectly from any room in the place.” Strike that idea, Clark thought. I don’t want Lana within range of that stupid black box. With her in the room, it would probably start playing theme music from E.T. or Alien. Then, I’d just panic.
Clark led the dancing, finally taking them from the bedroom out to the safer territory of the living room. He didn’t want to break their clinch, but both of them had to return to the working world tomorrow, and they were going to need their sleep. After exchanging ‘I love yous’, they kissed softly…once, twice, three times, and then Clark let Lana go.
“Sleep tight, Lana.”
“You too, Clark.”
Clark made his way out of her building and returned the rented car to the airport and then super-sped back to his building. No way was he going to waste sleeping time on a long, slow, and expensive cab ride.
The next day brought a return to normalcy for Lana and Clark. She was out of her building on time wearing a sharp business suit, and he was in position overhead in Superman’s red-and-blue, on the lookout for anyone who wanted to mess with her.
The closer she got to Schuster Plaza, the lower he flew, because he had come to the conclusion that she was at her most vulnerable entering or leaving work since there was only one entrance to the building, which gave her enemies a place that she had to pass through at least twice every day. Her condo building had entrances on opposite sides, forcing people to guess which side she might use, which made her that much safer.
Safely in her office once more, Lana went to work, wading through a number of meetings before heading out to lunch with some of the girls from work. They all mentioned their Christmases, and when Lana mentioned she had spent the holiday with Clark at his mom’s house, their mouths just dropped open in shock. Her new friends knew how long the two of them had known each other, and while they were happy for her, they wondered if this relationship wasn’t going a little too fast.
Still, it was impossible for them to deny the way Lana glowed whenever she talked about Clark. The unattached girls envied her ‘lucking’ into a great guy on her first day in town, while the girls who already had a guy thought back to those first days of a new love with great fondness.
Clark had been busy himself. As he promised himself the night before, he put out the word to all of his contacts to send him word if they heard anything about the new Deputy District Attorney. Perry then called him into his glass-walled office for a brief meeting.
When Clark closed the door, Perry tossed him a copy of the Sunday edition of the Daily Planet and said, “Read Sullivan’s first article on your girlfr…on Miss Lang and her team.”
The content of the article was unexceptionable, and the writing was clear and concise. To Clark’s eyes, it appeared that Perry had hired another talented writer. It remained to been seen if she was a good researcher.
“I like it so far, Perry,” Clark said as he handed the paper back. “She seems like a good writer.”
“So…what does Miss Lang think of it?”
“Oh, come on, Kent,” Perry said. He folded the paper and laid it flat on his desk. Putting his elbows on the table, Perry folded his hands, leaned forward, and said, “I know I officially don’t know about you two, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know. You can tell me what she thinks.”
“Honest, Perry, I don’t know. Lana and I were both out of town until late last night and neither one of us saw a copy of the Planet while in Smallville.”
“Smallville, Kent? Taking her to meet your mother already? And on Christmas no less.” Perry whistled. “She must be more attractive inside than outside, and that’s saying a lot from what I’ve seen.”
Clark shook his head helplessly. “You have no idea.”
Perry studied his desk for a moment and then asked quietly, “How is your mother these days, Clark?”
“I’m glad.” Perry ‘s eyes shot up, and he seemed to snap out of whatever funk he had been in. “The reason I asked you about Sullivan’s article is that I wanted to make sure the little argument those two ladies had last week doesn’t spill over into Sullivan’s work. I have a standard to maintain here, and if she’s not up to the job, I need to know as soon as possible.”
At lunch time, Clark headed out to eat by himself since Lana had called to say she was going to eat with some girls from work. He quickly headed to a comfortable Thai place since he felt like eating something spicy. The restaurant was dark, but he was recognized almost as soon as he was seated. It turned out to be Chloe, who asked if she could share the table with him. Figuring she knew by now just where they stood, Clark agreed and stood to seat her.
“Nice article, Chloe.”
The waitress came and took their orders, and then Clark resumed their conversation. “Is this an accidental meeting, or were you looking for me?”
“Looking for you. I was coming over here to find you and saw you leave the Planet, so I followed. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Nah. I don’t mind company, and I’m interested to hear how you and Lana are getting along.”
“Surprisingly well,” Chloe admitted. “After I kissed her boyfriend and her reaction to the kiss, I thought she might hold it against me and make things difficult.”
“Not Lana, not from what I’ve seen anyway,” Clark said. “You guys apologized and made up, so that should be it for her…but if you’d done that to my last girlfriend, she would’ve knocked your block off instead of just yelling at you.”
“Oh yeah?” Chloe said, as she took a sip of her iced tea. “Whoever she was, she’d better be tough.”
The look in Clark’s eyes was nostalgic as he said, “She was. They don’t get much tougher than Lois Lane.”
Chloe had just begun swallowing her sip of tea and instantly began choking. When her series of hacking coughs ended, she looked up at Clark and asked incredulously, “Lois Lane? Tall, bossy, big mouth? Hard-as-nails on the outside and soft-as-a-marshmallow on the inside?”
Not sure where this was going, Clark said cautiously, “Yeeeeeeees, that sounds like Lois all right. Did she owe you money or something?”
“No,” Chloe said, with a voice that sounded completely lost. “She was my cousin.”
Clark was now as shocked as Chloe. “I thought the only family she had left was a kid sister who was traveling in Europe and made her money as a grifter.”
“Yeah, that’s Lucy.” Chloe shook her head in disgust. “Looks like a model, but has the mind of a swindler.”
Clark and Chloe spent the rest of their lunch sharing stories of Lois. Chloe’s were all from Lois’ childhood, while Clark’s were from her last years, an exchange of stories that allowed each to see a side of Lois that they had never known. It wasn’t until they paid and went outside, however, that Clark told Chloe about Lois’ death and that he was sure Intergang was responsible.
Chloe hadn’t been too excited about covering Lana and her team until that moment. Now, she wanted to revel in the conviction of Morgan Edge, and to help with the destruction of Intergang. She ended up staying a bit long on lunch so Clark could tell her about Lois’ death, and by the time she made it back to the District Attorney’s offices, Lana had already received a special phone call from a voice that was being electronically masked.
Lana took notes on a plain sheet of paper. When she was done, she reviewed the notes and put the paper through the crosscut shredder in her office once she had memorized the details of the notes. “Looks like I’ve got some calls to make before everyone goes home for the day. I have an old warehouse to lead a raid on.”