Guy Rule Number One
Folc4evernaday
Chapter 2

***

Lois sat down in the first booth at Fudge Castle, doing her best not to think about the events of the morning any longer than she had to. She took her red plastic spoon and swirled it around the chocolate fudge ice cream that was beginning to melt.

She shook her head in disgust as she shoved a bite of the melted chocolate in her mouth. She’d sat at her desk listening to Clark talk to Mayson about setting up a lunch date to talk.

‘Hadn’t she done enough talking the other night?’ Lois wondered as she took another bite.

It was obvious the new District Attorney was smitten with Clark. If she wasn’t so irritating, she might even be happy about her friend finding someone. There was just something about Mayson that bugged her. For starters, she was desperate and pushy and that kiss she’d witnessed the other night…

‘It has nothing to do with that.’ She tried to convince herself. ‘She hates Superman. Who hates Superman?’

“Superman.” She said the name with a sigh. She’d thought she had moved past everything that had happened last summer but after last night…

There was something there. She could feel it. She knew he’d felt it too. Why did he keep holding back? Was it really as simple as Jimmy had explained?

‘Guy Rule?’

Maybe he thought what Dianne and Darlene did? That Clark was hung up on her? She sighed, recalling the conversation she’d overhead earlier and flashed back to the conversation she and Clark had had outside the Planet when Mr. Stern had announced the return of the Daily Planet.

<<“I’m not in love with you.”

“You’re not?”

“I would have said anything to keep you from marrying Luthor.”>>


Jimmy had said he would have to give permission to pursue a relationship with another guy’s love interest—even if that girl didn’t share the guy’s feelings. A stupid rule. An idiotic rule, but for whatever reason, it seemed to keep some sort of respect among the masses when it came to dating. Something she found to be lacking in her friendships with women.

<< “You can’t go after a girl another guy likes unless…he’s given permission or has moved on.”>>

Did Superman need Clark’s permission to pursue her? Was that why he had pulled away that night? Clark said he’d have said anything to stop her from marrying Lex. Did that include misleading Superman on his feelings for her? If Superman had thought Clark was in love with her when he’d come to see her that night—that would explain why he had been so distant.

Clark had been the one to send him to her apartment.

‘No. That’s crazy. Clark wouldn’t do something like that.’ She pushed the thought out of her mind.

<<"If the guy is still hung up on someone –someone he cares about—it wouldn't be right for this friend to come along and move in.">>

Maybe she needed to talk to Superman? Make sure he knew there was nothing between her and Clark?

‘Yeah right,’ she thought to herself. ‘Like he’s going to believe that.’

No, he’d need more than just her word. She’d need to prove that Clark had moved on. ‘Not that there had been anything to move on from.’ She thought quietly to herself.

He was dating Mayson right now it seemed, so that had promise, but there still was something about that woman that just rubbed her the wrong way. Maybe she could help push Clark into the dating scene a bit? Give him a friendly shove and help stop these rumors that they were an item so Superman would feel safe to pursue a relationship with her without worrying about his friend’s feelings.

Could it really be that simple?

For months she’d been obsessing over every detail over the last year trying to figure out how she’d read both men so wrong. Then out of the blue, the answer came to her. It made sense. Now all she had to do was get Clark into the dating game—preferably with someone other than Mayson Drake—and everything would fall into place.

She stared down at the chocolate melted ice cream soup that once resembled her sundae and sighed. “Time to get to work.” She pulled out her phone and began to dial, waiting impatiently as the connection was made and the phone began to ring. “Jimmy? I need a favor…”

***

After avoiding Mayson’s obvious hints about wanting to spend the weekend together, Clark hung up the phone with a sigh. What was it with all the women in his life acting so strange lately? Lois with her questions about a ‘guy rule’ then Mayson seeming to think they were dating now after one dance and a lunch that hadn’t exactly ended on the best of terms. He’d told his parents he wasn’t sure how he felt about Mayson, but that wasn’t true. He knew he liked her—as a friend, but he also knew her distaste for his alter-ego made it so there could never be any relationship between them. Lois’ infatuation for Superman may be tiresome at times but he always knew he could count on her and he knew on some level she accepted him –both sides of him.

She treated Clark differently that she treated Superman—everyone did. Where Lois would always jump to his alter-ego’s defense Mayson, it seemed jumped to the worst case scenario. It was a change of pace, and it was flattering to have the other side of him given the attention he’d sought from Lois for so long, but it was a moot point. He was still hopelessly in love with Lois Lane. No amount of dates or flattery from a beautiful woman would change that.

He continued to hold out hope that Lois would look at him the same way she looked at Superman one day. Until then he would have to be content being her friend—her partner—and pray she’d one day return those feelings for not just the superhero in tights and a cape but the man beneath the suit as well.

After an hour of making calls and getting nowhere and no sign of his missing partner, he decided to give up on waiting her out and head off to lunch. Just as he was locking his computer, a young blonde approached him, claiming the seat next to him.

“Hi.”

He looked up, not recognizing the young woman sitting at his desk. She was young. Her choice in business attire left a lot to be desired with the short mini skirt and v-neck blouse showing way too much of body parts that were better left to the imagination.

He looked up, forcing himself to stay focused on her eyes and not certain parts that were popping out. “Uh, hi?”

“I’m Candi.” She smiled at him, kicking her ankle as she spoke. “With an ‘i’ not a ‘y.’ Lots of people get that confused.”

Still confused what ‘Candi’ with an ‘i’ was doing at his desk he cleared his throat, daring to ask the question, “Okay, Candi with an ‘i.’ Is there something I can help you with?”

“You should take me to lunch.” She grinned at him flirtatiously.

“Why would I do that?” He asked cautiously.

“I’m someone you’d want to get to know.”

“Well as …tempting as that offer is, Candi, I don’t go to lunch with strangers…and I have no clue who you are. So, if you don’t mind…?” He pointed to the chair she was occupying where his jacket was.

She looked at him in surprise, then recovered, “Well, don’t say I never offered.” With that, she was gone.

Clark rolled his eyes after she left, “Weird.” He muttered to himself. “Definitely weird.”

***

“Candi? Seriously Jimmy?” Lois took a seat at the young man’s desk, glaring at him

“Last minute that’s what I got.” Jimmy shrugged. “Why are you trying to set Clark up on a date anyway? Isn’t he dating that Mayson from the DA’s office?”

“I wouldn’t call it dating.” Lois sniffed.

“Uh-huh.” Jimmy gave her a look, and she glared back at him.

“Candi is a 22-year old intern with no brains. She probably got the internship from….” Lois stopped when she noticed the young blonde approaching them.

“Jimmy, where do I put the files when I’m done with them?” Candi stopped in front of Jimmy’s desk with a wide grin, holding the files to her chest where more skin than clothing was showing. Lois frowned glaring at the slit in her already too short mini skirt.

“In the file cabinet.” Jimmy pointed toward the Archives where the file cabinets were stored.

“Right.” She smiled back at him and turned in the direction Jimmy had pointed.

“See?” Lois pointed out, “How could you possibly think Clark would be interested in someone like that?”

“You said to find him a date by lunch. You didn’t give me specifics.” Jimmy shot back.

“Date. Not bimbo.” Lois growled.

“Bimbo?” Jimmy echoed.

“That girl shows way too much cleavage and leg for a professional setting like the Daily Planet.” Lois sniffed.

“Uh-huh.”

“Clark deserves so much better.”

Jimmy nodded, giving her a knowing look, “Right, better.”

Lois noticed the tone in his voice and narrowed her eyes at him. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing.” Jimmy turned away, “I didn’t say nothing.”

Lois pulled out the number she had for her old college roommate, “Well, while you’re doing ‘nothing’ why don’t you do me a favor and find me an address for ‘Molly Flynn.’” She scribbled down the last address she had for her along with the last known phone number. “This is her last known address and number, but the number’s disconnected and the landlord said she moved without a forwarding address.”

“I’ll see what I can find out.” Jimmy nodded, taking the paper from her.

***
Four.

Clark had counted four different women that couldn’t have been older than Jimmy approaching him all afternoon one by one, insisting on him taking them to lunch, dinner, drinks, and one even suggested food wasn’t necessary if he was into that sort of thing. Thankfully Perry had walked by when he did, and he was able to make a break for the nearest exit. What was with everyone today? First Lois with her questions about a ‘guy rule’ and then all the interns were acting like they were under the influence of Miranda’s Revenge Pheromone.

He still hadn’t talked to Lois about what had happened the other night. He needed to clear the air with her as Superman first though. He just wasn’t sure how. He had stepped over the line of friendship, and he needed to rectify that situation before it created another hurdle in his and Lois’ relationship. They had just gotten back to a comfortable routine with one another. He didn’t want to wreck that by leading her on as Superman. The only way he would pursue a relationship with her would be if she started seeing him, Clark Kent as more than a friend. Superman was not an option. It would be easy to give into his impulses and pursue her as his alter-ego, but it wouldn’t be real. He wouldn’t be able to share the biggest part of himself; the real him. He didn’t want a relationship like that, and he didn’t want to do that to Lois. It wasn’t fair to either of them.

***

Lois let out a long sigh as she placed the phone back on the cradle, staring at the address book in front of her. She’d called and left messages with a few acquaintances from college that she knew were still in the area. Unfortunately, it seemed just about everyone was attached to someone.

Three were engaged. Two married. One was pregnant with twins. The few that weren’t attached were the ones she remembered as being very friendly and popular at the parties. She wasn’t sure she wanted to put Clark through that. She wanted him to start dating again; not put him in a situation that would require a tetanus shot afterward.

It was disheartening to hear how many of her old college friends seemed to be already starting their lives with ‘the one’ while she was still flailing in the wind. She’d spent so much of her young adulthood focused on clawing her way up the professional ladder. Now, she was at the top of her career—living her dream as an investigative reporter for the Daily Planet—but it wasn’t enough. She had spent years ignoring invitations to parties in pursuit of a good story, putting off dates or friends to further her career. She had told Lucy she didn’t believe in ‘Mr. Right,’ and that had been true until someone had changed her.

Superman.

He had swept her off her feet –literally after saving all the passengers and herself from the bomb on the Prometheus space station. She had spent months pining after him, lusting after him and hoping he’d notice her too. There had been so many signs that made her think he felt the same way toward her—then after Lex’s proposal she’d laid it all on the line –and he’d crushed her dreams.

She had convinced herself she could be happy with Lex. It wasn’t until she was in the dressing room crying about being Mrs. Luthor that she realized how big of a mistake she had made. Every step down the aisle she’d been thinking of everything she was losing—mostly her friendship with Clark.

Understanding now that Superman hadn’t been pushing her way as a way to hurt her but rather to protect his friend—made her love him even more. Even though she and Clark had never dated or been an item, he was trying to protect his friend. She could understand that. He was her friend too, but he’d told her himself he wasn’t in love with her. Why did Superman think otherwise?

She cherished her friendship with Clark. It had been her sanctuary during the chaos that had been her life over the last few months. He’d been there to help cheer her up and talk after everything had come out about Lex. Those late night talks were something she’d come accustomed to, but she knew they couldn’t continue. She had to let him have his life back. Surely he wasn’t just sitting around every night waiting for her to call him.

She glanced at the phone sadly.

‘If I want him to start dating I’ve got to give him the freedom to do so.’ She reminded herself.

It was hard, but she knew it was for the best. She knew it was the only way to give her and Superman a real chance at a relationship and give Clark the space he needed to find someone he could love. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be with that pushy District Attorney. Lois frowned. Mayson Drake was not a good match for him. The interns Jimmy had found weren’t a good fit either. She wouldn’t be a good friend if she let him get involved with someone that wasn’t a good fit, would she?

***
The next day Clark walked with Lois to meet her friend Molly Flynn at her shop. Lois had spent most of the afternoon avoiding him. He’d had three different women approach him yesterday about everything from coffee to dinner and drinks after Candi’s invitation to lunch. If that hadn’t been confusing enough, he’d had to deal with what seemed to be the silent treatment from Lois. He wasn’t sure what to make out of her confusing behavior, so he’d ignored it but now here they were the next morning, and she was still avoiding saying anything to him. Deciding it best to start the conversation out on something neutral, he looked at his notes and asked, “Did the military ever say how this guy died?”

“Just that it was an accident. There were rumors that it had something to do with the Hawkeye Strategic defense system.” Lois explained, looking at her notes.

“Hawkeye?” He looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“Top secret,” Lois said as if that explained what it was. “Molly couldn’t say too much, but I think it’s some kind of killer defense satellite. Whatever it is Ryan was dead, and that was that.”

“But now he’s alive?” Clark still wasn’t sure about her theory but was willing to follow her gut for the time being. They had seen stranger things in the past.

“Pretty weird, huh?” She sighed, uncertainly, “What am I going to say to her? Your boyfriend’s back, and we think he’s starting trouble? Hey, la de lah.” Her eyes twinkled at the last line, reciting the familiar tune’s chorus.

“We don’t know that for sure.” He pointed out.

“The part that he’s alive and walking around Fort Truman or the fact that he’s up to no good?” She challenged, crossing her arms over her chest.

He knew better than to argue with her when she got that look on her face and turned away, spotting the shop they were looking for, “There it is.” He walked toward the bookstore with the window painted, ‘Molly’s Greenhouse Bookstore.’

Lois followed him, looking over his shoulder at the shop with her nose scrunched up. Organic herbs were on display along with crystals and a book titled ‘Technology Is Killing Us’ by Molly Flynn.

“This can’t be right.” Lois shook her head.

Clark pulled out the forwarding address Jimmy had gotten from Molly’s mailman, “It’s the forwarding address Jimmy found for her.”

“But Molly's a computer engineer. What's she doing running a flaky place like this?” Lois asked more to herself than to him. “and when did she start writing this junk?”

“Why do I get the feeling you and Molly aren’t exactly on the friends and family program?” he cautiously observed.

“So we’ve drifted apart a little.” Lois shrugged. “I suppose you stayed in touch with all your college friends?”

“Well, yeah,” He began before she cut him off.

“Oh, sure, that’s easy when you go to Smallville U with a graduating class of ten farmers and a cow.”

“Midwestern. The graduating class was about three thousand.” He corrected with a smirk.

Lois glared at him, “I was being sarcastic and illustrating a point.”

“I know. You hate to lose those arguments.” He said, opening the door for her.

“This is so bizarre. She went from Technology Guru to Hippie in the span of five years.”

“People change.” He commented.

“Not that much. I wonder what happened.”

“Well, how about we go inside and find out?” He gestured to the open door, “Unless you want to do another chorus of ‘your boyfriend’s back’?”

“Cute.” Lois smacked him on the arm and made her way inside.

***
Lois did her best not to react to the obvious baiting Clark was trying to do. She was trying to put as much distance between them as she could. If this was going to work, she had to make sure she kept Clark at a distance. She had to give him the freedom to date. That meant no more late night visits to one another’s apartments—even if it was for a story. She’d done a lot of thinking the past twenty-four hours trying to figure out the double meaning behind things Superman had said to her. It was obvious he cared. If he was holding back for the sake of Clark—she had to make him see reason. Sacrificing his own happiness for the sake of a friend’s feelings was very noble. It seemed impossible to come up with a plan on how to explain the holes in his reasoning. The only plan that made sense right now was to prove there was nothing between her and Clark.

If she could get Clark in the dating game, then it would be less likely that Superman would see Clark as the wounded party. She just needed to find the right woman. Mayson wasn’t going to fit the bill. She was too pushy. Jimmy had sent four different women to Clark yesterday, and he’d shot every one of them down. Getting Clark in the dating game was going to prove harder than she thought.

Now here they were investigating Ryan Wiley’s murder, face to face with her old college friend, Molly Flynn. The woman she barely recognized as Molly wore long beads and her hair up in a hemp tie. She screamed anything but ‘computer engineer’ at the moment.

“Molly.” Lois managed to squeak out.

“Lois?” Molly recognized her, turning to embrace her. “You look wonderful.”

Lois smiled, uncertain how to return the compliment, “Thanks and you look so…not yourself.”

Molly beamed back at her with a sigh, “I know.” She gestured to the store they stood in, “What do you think?”

“It's, um…uh,” She struggled to think of a word that didn’t sound like an insult.

“Well, you had a word for it out front.” Clark reminded her. “I think you said it was…”

“Nice!” Lois cut him off, glaring at him with daggers before turning back to Molly. “Very nice.” She looked around the shop uncertainly, “Love what you’ve done with the place.”

“So, how’ve you been?” Molly asked. “It’s been….”

“Ages.” Lois nodded. “I know. I’ve been meaning to call.”

“Me too.” Molly smiled sadly at her. Lois could sense Molly was holding something back.

“Listen, Molly, the reason we’re here is…well, it’s about Ryan.” Lois began hoping just to dive in to get to the reason for her visit.

Molly turned to the display with crystals on it, “These have amazing healing properties. You can either wear them…” She pointed to the crystal on her necklace, “or meditate with them by putting them on your forehead.”

Lois took the crystal from her, frowning at her change of the subject and placed it on her forehead, “Wouldn’t it fall off?”

“You’re supposed to lie down when you do it.” Clark pointed out.

Lois shrugged, “I knew that.” She handed the crystal back to Molly, “Just a little new age humor.”

“Same old Lois. Still, can't admit you don't know everything.” Molly observed.

“Well, speaking of things not changing…” Lois pulled out the picture from Fort Truman and handed it to her. “What was Ryan doing at Fort Truman?”

“That’s not Ryan.”

“What do you mean it’s not Ryan?” Lois scoffed, looking at the photo. “ Same jaw. Same eyes…”

“Similar features. That’s it. He died, Lois!” Molly snapped irritably.

“Are you sure?” Lois shot back. “You said yourself there was no body…”

“Lois don’t do this!” Molly said exasperatedly.

“Okay, how about we all just take a step back and calm down?” Clark interjected.

Lois and Molly looked at Clark who was looking at them both with pleading eyes. Lois sighed, crossing her arms over her chest, “Fine.”

“Fine,” Molly repeated.

“Okay, Molly, Lois said you used to be a computer engineer?” Clark prompted.

“Yes, I was recruited to work on the Hawkeye project. It was the last project I ever worked on.” She glared at Lois, “Working on a machine that can kill people from space isn’t exactly what I was trying to major in in college.”

“Same project Ryan was assigned to right?” Lois pressed.

“Yes.” Molly said exasperatedly.

“Ryan, your fiancé?” Clark asked.

“Yes, my fiancé who was killed working on the Hawkeye.”

“Did they give you any information on how he was killed?” Clark asked.

“They said he was installing the trigger system on the satellite and it somehow exploded. They said the blast was so bad there weren’t any remains.” Molly said sadly.

“I’m sorry,” Clark said sympathetically.

“Thank you, Clark,” Molly said smiling at him softly. “Anyway, after that project I stopped working with the military defense team. I opened up shop here and have been happy ever since. Working on the Hawkeye opened my eyes to how bad technology had gotten.”

“Well, without technology we’d be in the dark ages.” Lois snapped back irritably.

“Lois, it’s killing us. We’ve got to release its death grip and free the human spirit.” Molly said, handing her a copy of her book. “Here. You should really read my book.”

“You really don’t know anything about this?” Lois asked.

“I really don’t,” Molly said with an exasperated sigh.

“Fine,” Lois said pulling out her card. “If you hear from him or remember anything else call me.”

“Okay,” Molly replied coolly. “We should do lunch. Catch up.”

Lois gave her a half-smile, “Give me a call and we just might.” With that, she left, closing the shop door behind her.

***

TBC...
_________________________
Erich Fromm - “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

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