Guy Rule Number One
Back at the Planet, Jimmy sat with Brian in the Breakroom, fixing his coffee. “I don’t exactly know who’s in relationships and who’s not. I know the girls in research and the new interns…”
“Why do you need to know?” Brian asked.
Jimmy looked around to see if anyone was paying attention to him and then continued, “You didn’t hear it from me, but I think CK’s having a hard time meeting women.”
Brian spat his coffee out.
“You okay?” Jimmy patted him on the back as Brian coughed, trying to clear his airway.
“F-fine.” He wheezed out, catching his breath.
“You okay man?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Brian said. “You were saying?”
“Well, I think he and Mayson hit it off okay, but between you and me she’s not exactly his type.” Jimmy began evasively, not willing to tell Brian who had set him up on this mission.
Brian chuckled, “If you say so. I thought Kent only had eyes for Lois Lane.”
“Things change.” Jimmy shrugged. “Any ideas on who’s available? I don’t want to stick my foot in my mouth and I’d like to keep this on the down-low.”
“Discreet is my middle name,” Brian said, taking a sip from his coffee cup.
Outside the breakroom, neither gentleman noticed Darlene who had overheard the entire conversation. She headed toward the coffee maker where a few of her friends were chatting and sharing gossip. She couldn’t help but grin. The piece of gossip she’d overheard was a doozie.
In the newsroom, Clark began making calls to the list of contacts Perry had that were retired from the military and thus more willing to speak to the press. He and Lois had split up the list, and she remained distant.
She wasn’t unfriendly.
She was professional.
She just wasn’t…Lois.
Something had changed, and he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Lois was different somehow, and he couldn’t figure out what had changed.
“Clark?” A hand waved in front of him, and he turned to see Kathy from Accounting standing in front of him, waving her hand at him.
He pulled himself back to the present and smiled, “Uh, sorry I was someplace else.”
“I’ll say,” She mumbled under her breath, unaware he could hear her.
Ignoring the comment, he asked, “Can I help you with something?”
“I thought I could help you.” She said, taking a seat at his desk.
His brow furrowed in confusion, “Help me?”
“There’s a rumor going around that you finally let go of that silly crush you’ve had on your partner.” Kathy began, running her hand through her auburn locks with a smile.
“What???” He looked over toward Lois’ desk on impulse, surprised to find it empty.
Rumor? There was a rumor going around the Daily Planet Grapevine that he let go of his crush on Lois. How had they even known he’d had a crush on her? Okay, it was a lot more than a crush. He hadn’t realized his feelings for Lois were that noticeable.
‘Oh, no.’ he thought to himself, looking back at Lois’ desk. Was that why she’d been acting so weird lately? After her rejection of him last summer he’d taken back his confession in hopes that it’d help them get things back to normal. If she’d heard that rumor…
“I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear that. I mean, you’re a great guy and should get out there and live a little. I’m not attached, and it wouldn’t have to be anything too formal…I thought maybe if you’re up to it we could try out that new Chinese place on 22nd Street.” She dazzled him with a mega-watt smile, leaning toward him. “What do you say? You game?”
“I…” There were so many thoughts going through his mind he wasn’t sure how to respond. “Where did you hear this rumor?” He asked carefully.
“Oh.” Her smile quickly disappeared, and she sighed, “I heard it from Darlene in the Copy Room.”
“Uh-huh.” Was all he managed to say as he headed toward Darlene’s desk to do some investigating.
“Jimmy!” Clark caught up with the young man coming out of the darkroom with his hands full of pictures.
“What’s up CK?”
“I just had a very interesting conversation with Darlene.” He began following him to his desk. “Seems you and Brian had a very interesting conversation yourself this morning.”
Jimmy looked back at him in surprise. “Yeah, look about that…”
Clark pointed toward the conference room, “Conference room. Now.”
Jimmy nodded, setting the photos down on his desk and followed him to the Conference Room. He closed the door behind him as Clark struggled to regain control of his anger and disappointment in his young friend. “All I want to know is why?”
“Why what?” Jimmy asked.
“Why are you talking to Brian of all people about my personal life?” Clark fumed irritably.
“It’s wasn’t like that, honest, CK,” Jimmy stammered. “It just seemed like you were having a hard time getting out in the dating game. I figured Brian might know who was available…”
“If I wanted to date I would, Jimmy.”
“It just seemed like you needed a little push. That’s all.” Jimmy continued. “I didn’t mean for it to get back to Darlene. I’m sorry about that.”
Clark sighed, “I need you to put a stop to this.” He ordered.
“Stop to what?” Jimmy asked.
“The talk around the Planet about my relationship with Lois. The women showing up at my desk with some misconception that I need a date…”
“Sorry about that.” Jimmy apologized. “The only girls I know that are available are the interns.”
“Why would you do something like this?” Clark asked, “If you had a concern you should have talked to me about it.”
“I know. We weren’t thinking. I’m sorry, CK.”
“We?” Clark’s ears perked up. “What do you mean by ‘we?’”
“Well, um…” Jimmy looked toward the door.
“She said you needed to find a date. I was just trying to help, honest.” Jimmy squealed out hurriedly.
“She?” His eyes narrowed.
“OLSEN!!!” Perry’s voice echoed outside the door, and they both looked to see Perry standing on the other side of the glass pane door.
“I gotta go,” Jimmy said heading for the exit.
“This isn’t over,” Clark warned.
“We’ll talk later. I promise.” Jimmy called over his shoulder as he headed toward Perry who was waiting impatiently on the other side of the conference room door.
Clark sighed, watching his friend leave. He knew Jimmy. He knew he would never purposefully interfere in someone’s life like that. He’d been put up to it by someone. Who he wasn’t entirely sure on, but he had a pretty good guess.
He glanced toward the empty desk of his partner’s and then picked up the phone in the conference room and began to dial.
Lois sat across from Molly’s shop with binoculars, sipping on her coffee as she watched Molly close her shop up. She was right about Molly. She knew she was hiding something and she was going to prove it.
The look on Molly’s face when she’d mentioned Ryan’s name had been like a deer in headlights. She had known Molly for years. She knew when she was lying.
Clark still seemed to think her theory was far-fetched. He’d given her a skeptical look when she pitched the idea of staking Molly’s shop out. Since he was already calling Perry’s contacts, she figured now was as good as any time to begin her stakeout.
She’d done pretty well at remaining professional but not stepping over the lines with him this morning. No grabbing at him or touching him when they were talking. Working together but at their individual desks. At first, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do it. She’d been accustomed to working close with him day to day for over a year. It had taken a lot of reflection to realize how unfair she’d been over the past year. All the little gestures that were like second nature could be viewed as flirting. The more she thought about it, the more she realized she had been flirting with him—more so recently.
He’d made his feelings perfectly clear the day the Planet reopened for business; he wasn’t in love with her. So whatever her feelings may or may not have been didn’t matter. All she could hope for was to move forward. He couldn’t blame her for that, could he? She’d help him find someone he could fall in love with and hopefully wouldn’t drive her insane in the process.
Superman would see his friend was not in love with her and then hopefully they could finally stop this dance they’d been doing for the past year and a half. It was clear he felt something for her. She didn’t imagine he stopped by just anyone’s apartment on a daily basis after his patrols—or danced with them to ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’ She had fallen hard for him from their first meeting. She recalled telling her sister, Lucy about the connection she’d felt when he’d carried her into the newsroom after lifting Prometheus into space.
The backfiring or a motorcycle brought her back to the present. She watched as the blinds to Molly’s store closed, and the lights went out. There was no sign of Molly but judging from the time listed on her door, and what the digital clock on her dashboard blinked back at her she knew something was amiss.
Her phone rang, and she jumped, looking over at the phone in her console. She pulled the antenna out and answered it with a sharp, “Lois Lane,”
She spotted the door to Molly’s shop open, and Ryan Wiley stepped outside with a very distraught looking Molly next to him. He was holding her close to him—too close. They didn’t look like a loving couple that had just been reunited. Something was wrong.
“Lois? Where are you?” Clark’s voice echoed on the other end of the line.
“I’m following a lead. I’ll call you back.” She hung up the phone and watched as Ryan walked with Molly toward an old Chevrolet pickup truck. From her viewpoint, she could see something metallic pointed at Molly as she was forced into the truck. Whether it was a gun or not, she wasn’t sure.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
She jumped, seeing Clark’s profile blocking her view as he folded his arms over his chest, looking at her with that ‘I’m disappointed’ look he always gave her.
“How did you get here so fast?” She asked, looking at him in surprise. She’d just hung up the phone with him.
“Mobile phone.” He said quickly, “and don’t change the subject. What do you think you’re doing?”
“Coffee, binoculars and double fudge crunch bars. What does it look like I’m doing?” She snapped, trying to get him to move out of the way as she tried unsuccessfully to peer over his shoulder. The truck had disappeared. “Would you move? I can’t see what’s going on!”
“I told you we didn’t have enough information to warrant staking your friend’s shop out. Why are you..?”
“I know Molly, and I know she’s lying.” Lois shot back.
“We’re supposed to be partners. I’m over there doing all the heavy lifting while you’re reaching because of some old feud with your friend.”
“I am not reaching!” Lois snapped. “If you would move out of the way I can show you…”
She stopped when she saw the empty parking spot where the truck had been moments ago. “Great. Just great.”
“What?” Clark asked.
“I lost her.” She mumbled incoherently, banging her head against the steering wheel lightly.
“Lost who?” He asked, confused.
“Molly,” Lois said, blowing a stray hair out of her face. “She came out of her shop –with Ryan.”
“What?? Why didn’t you call me?” Clark asked.
“I was trying to see what was going on first.” Lois snapped irritably. “If someone hadn’t decided to come pick a fight with me I might have seen which way they went.”
He had the decency to at least look remorseful, “I’m sorry.” They were both silent for a moment. “Do you think she was working with him?”
Lois shook her head, “No. I think Ryan just kidnapped her.” Clark hung his head and gave her shoulder a squeeze through the open window of the driver’s side of her Jeep.
“Come on.” He got in on the passenger side of her Jeep.
“What are you doing?” Lois asked.
“Helping you.” He said matter-of-factly. “Let’s head back to the Planet and see if we can make any headway with those old Army buddies of Perry’s.”
“What good is that going to do? Molly’s been kidnapped! We need to call the police, Henderson, Superman…”
“You said yourself everyone thinks this guy’s dead, right?” Clark pointed out.
“Yeah,” Lois admitted, not seeing where he was going with this.
“So we need to find out who was in charge of this guy’s investigation and get a copy of that file. In order to do that we need someone on the inside with access.”
He was right. She hated it when he was right. “Fine. You’re right.”
“I know I am, but you can say it again.” He smiled back at her.
She scowled at him as she turned the key in the ignition. “You know you don’t have to be so smug.”
Clark sighed an exasperated sigh as he followed Lois into the lobby, waiting by the elevator with Lois. She had hardly said two words the entire drive back to the Planet. She was mad at him. That much was certain, but what he’d done to get out of her good graces he still wasn’t sure. He had a sinking suspicion Lois was the ‘she’ Jimmy had been referring to earlier, but he’d kept his cool most of the morning to prevent a big blow-up.
“So, you seem quiet today.” He finally said, breaking the tension
“I’ve had a lot on my mind.” She shrugged, pressing the call button once more.
“All day?” He challenged.
“Yes, all day. Dead guy came back from the dead, remember?”
He could tell from her face she wasn’t being upfront with him. “I think it’s something else.”
“Oh, do tell!” She glared at him.
“You have been acting strange since yesterday.” He pointed out as he followed her inside the elevator car.
“Well, getting shot at usually drums up some emotions.” She retorted, pressing the button for the newsroom.
“Never seemed to bother you before.” He said.
“Well, some people change,” Lois said haughtily.
“And sometimes they stay the same.” He shot back.
Lois rolled her eyes, “What is that supposed to mean?”
“Don’t play games!” Clark snapped, “I know it was you.”
“Me?” Lois shrugged, “What are you talking about?”
“You know, I thought you had a problem with Mayson, but I didn’t think you’d stoop that low,” Clark added irritably. “I have to work here too. I don’t appreciate you airing my personal life on the Planet Grapevine just because you can’t stand…”
“What are you talking about??” Lois snapped, “I haven’t done anything!”
“Oh, so you didn’t tell Jimmy that I needed a date?”
“You are unbelievable!” He fumed angrily. “Who do you think you are??”
“I was trying to help!” Lois snapped back.
“Help??” He scoffed. “You’re joking, right?”
The elevator dinged and the doors opened. On the other side was Mayson Drake. He stepped off the elevator, and put on his best smile, “Mayson, what are you doing here?”
“I thought I could come steal you for lunch. Maybe talk?” She gave him a warm smile.`
“Gladly.” He said, shooting a warning glare at Lois as he walked past her. Mayson grinned ear to ear as he followed her into the elevator. Lois shot daggers at him as the elevator doors closed, and he did his best not to react.