Guy Rule Number One
Lois headed down the darkened hallway following the signs that read, ‘Warning’ and ‘Danger’ with a wry look. From what she recalled with her conversations with Molly before they’d had that falling out about Ryan it was just above the floor with the Nuclear missels in the Special Operations building that she used to work in during her time on the Hawkeye. If Ryan had kidnapped her to make her work on it would be in the same place right?
“Is it ready?”
She heard Ryan’s voice coming from one of the labs ahead of her. She looked around, spotting a large metal door to hide behind in case he came out. She didn’t have anything to fight him with if he did have a weapon on him.
“I..I don’t know.” She heard Molly cry. “Please don’t do this.”
Lois peeked over the edge of the door and saw Ryan kneeling over Molly with a gun to the back of her head.
“Get it done!” He snarled.
She winced, hearing the loud slap of his hand across Molly’s face. She had to get out of here and get some help. She heard the sound of someone moving toward the door and flattened herself against the wall, praying she would remain hidden. She had to get out of here. She had to…
The door jerked open, and she found herself face to face with the barrel of a gun and Ryan Wiley.
“Thanks, Superman,” Admiral said with a grim expression as he rubbed his wrists. “I’ll keep a close eye on MISTER Fane here and keep him out of trouble.”
“You’ll never stop him!” Fane spat back. “In a matter of minutes this place will be nothing but ashes, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.”
The Admiral took his handkerchief and shoved it in Fane’s mouth to shut him up, “You’re a disgrace to the uniform and everything we stand for!”
“Admiral, where was the Hawkeye installed?” Clark asked, realizing he probably wouldn’t be able to depend on Molly to stop it in time.
“Oh, it was positioned right by the Messenger launch pad. Could reach anywhere in the world with the click of the button. It was supposed to have been dismantled.” He gave a glare at Fane.
Not even waiting long enough for the Admiral to finish he was soaring toward the space station where the Hawkeye stood in a round silver and white gleam, pointing its deadly rays towards Earth. Whether they were able to stop the programming or not, it was too deadly a weapon to keep.
“Lois Lane, why am I not surprised?” Ryan hissed in her ear, shoving her inside the high tech command center where Molly was handcuffed to the lab table. “Still sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong aren’t you, Lolo?”
“Lois!” Molly cried in surprise looking up.
“Molly!” Lois winced as the barrel of Ryan’s gut pressed against her back.
“He made me do it. I would never…” Molly cried frantically as she pointed at the screen which showed the satellite image of the base.
“I know…” Lois winced as Ryan threw her to the ground. “I'd love to stay and chat, catch up on old times. I missed out on the reunion being dead and all, but I've got a satellite to hijack.”
“Death must have affected your brain cells. How are you going to get all this equipment out of here in ten minutes?” Lois asked, trying to portray a sense of confidence she didn’t feel as she moved toward Molly.
“Don’t have to.” He sneered, moving toward the main computer system with a screwdriver to remove the motherboard, “I’m using the mobile remote system. You remember that one don’t you, Molly?”
Molly looked at him in disgust, “I’m sorry I ever designed it.”
“Spoken like a true anti-technology queen.” He sneered.
“It’s people like you she’s against; not technology—”
“Actually—” Molly began to argue.
“Not helping!” Lois hissed back at her.
“Ladies! Ladies! You only have a few minutes to live don’t waste it bickering.” Ryan said with an evil grin as he headed for the door.
“What are you going to do?” Lois shot back angrily as she worked on picking the lock to Molly’s handcuffs, “Use the satellite to blackmail governments so you can feel like the big man you never were?”
“Oh, aren’t we catty?” He sneered, “But you're right. All done in the name of the great anti-tech author Molly Flynn.”
“Nobody’ll believe it. Anyone that knows Molly knows she’d never resort to terrorism!” Lois shot back still fiddling with Molly’s handcuff lock.
“Yeah! If I was going to do something, I’d force Chinese herbs down your throat. You look like you could use them!” Molly spat back angrily.
“Well, according to the letters the great Molly Flynn left around Metropolis and here at the base the evidence will point to you.” Ryan countered in an eerily calm tone.
“You’re a monster!” Molly spat.
“Maybe, but very soon I’ll be a very rich monster. Free and clear to spend my millions while you and your sidekick Lolo disappear without a trace. Even if someone did start to dig, they’d never find anything. I’m already dead, remember?”
“You can’t leave us in here!!” Molly screamed angrily as the door shut and sealed with a tight lock.
“Got it!” Lois cheered as the lock unhooked.
“Thanks.” Molly rubbed her wrists as the handcuffs fell off.
“Can you stop the Hawkeye from here?” Lois asked, looking at the screen that showed the Hawkeye satellite positioning its aim toward Fort Truman.
“I don’t know,” Molly whispered moving toward the computer Ryan had just torn apart.
“Why did you lie to me?” Lois accused quietly.
“What?” Molly looked back at her, grabbing the screwdriver off the desk as she began to work.
“You lied to me about him being dead. Why did you lie to me?”
Molly sighed, “I thought he was dead! Until he showed up at my door and told me he faked his death. He said he’d stumbled onto military secrets and the Army was out to kill him.”
“And you fell for that??” Lois looked at her in surprise.
“ Don't start with me, Lois!”
“Don’t get snippy with me! I’m not the one that…” She stopped mid-sentence. ‘I’m not the one that dated a psycho.’ That was what she’d been trying to say when she realized how wrong it was. She had dated a psycho.
“What?” Molly asked, pulling a motherboard from one of the computers on an empty desk and moving toward the computer Ryan had been working on.
“Just thinking twice about something.” She gave her a weak smile.
“Lois Lane thinking twice about something?” Molly teased, “Where’s the 'Guinness Book of World Records' when you need one?”
“Very funny.” Lois sniffed. “I’m not that bad.”
“No, you used to be worse.” Molly shrugged. “Okay hand me that flat-head screwdriver there.”
Lois reached for the screwdriver Molly was pointing at, “What are you doing?”
“Replacing the motherboard he took with this one. Pray it’s compatible.” Molly said with a panicked look.
“If it is, can you stop it?”
“I don’t know, but I gotta try something!” Molly’s voice was slightly panicked.
“Okay.” Lois backed off, trying to calm the inner voice that was asking what would happen if Clark couldn’t find Superman in time. She watched the monitor change, showing the coordinates for the base as it slowly zoomed in from the Earth’s atmosphere. “Molly, it’s the base! The base!”
“I see it!” Molly fumed, “I can only work so fast!”
“Well, do whatever you’re doing faster!” Lois spat. “All this over money and greed?” She mused aloud, “You really know how to pick ‘em.”
“Lois, in what may be our last minutes together here on Earth is this really what you want to talk about?” Molly spat as she finished tightening the last screw into the motherboard.
“Well…” She thought about it and then pressed through, “Yes! Just once, I’d like for you to agree that I was right about Ryan.”
“Look, he was cute; we had a lot in common, we fell in love.” Molly fumed as she powered up the motherboard, typing in a few commands on the computer, “How was I supposed to know he’d turn out to be a psycho??”
“Hah! So you finally admit it!”
“Okay, I admit it.” Molly shot back, “But we’re still going to die so what good does it do??”
“Well, I feel a little better.” She gave her a weak smile.
“Great.” Molly rolled her eyes. “You know what bugs me?”
Lois looked at her uncertainly, “About me?”
“Yes about you! It bugged me when my best friend dropped out of my life over my boyfriend.”
Lois looked at her exasperated, “Well, what was I supposed to do? I hated him, and you ignored me, and that was that.”
“A real friend would have respected my feelings and kept our relationship alive. But I guess that would require someone who's not judgmental and self-absorbed.”
Lois wasn’t sure how to respond to that remark. Was she really judgmental and self-absorbed? A red blinking on the screen caught her attention, “Look!” Lois noticed the phrase ‘Read Error’ on the screen.
“No! No! No!” Molly fumed angrily.
“What does that mean?” Lois asked.
“Read error.” Molly echoed. “I can’t boot it. I can’t get in the system.” Her tone was an eerie calm as tears fell down her cheeks.
“So, this is…?” Lois couldn’t bring herself to say it.
“It.” Molly breathed as she reached out to hug Lois.
A loud banging on the security door caught their attention. Lois looked up on the large screen, “Molly, look!”
“Hawkeye out of range?” Molly read the words on the screen.
“Superman.” Lois smiled. “Clark got to him in time.” She couldn’t hide the grin on her face.
Another loud bang could be heard as the security door was ripped from its hinges. There standing in the doorway was Superman with a crowd of soldiers and Ryan Wiley tied up.
“Are you two all right?” Superman asked.
“We’re fine…now.” Lois smiled, giving Molly a half-hug.
One of the officers approached them, “You’ll have to come with us for debriefing.”
“Debriefing?” Lois and Molly asked in unison.
Three soldiers pushed Ryan into the room and laughed, “Not so tough now that your satellite’s facing the other way, are ya?”
“You!” Ryan growled angrily.
“Attempted murder, terrorism, and oh, fraud!” Molly spat back. “That should get you at least a few lifetimes in prison.”
“Officers, is there anything else you need from me?” Superman asked.
“No, we’ll take it from here.” One of the higher ranking officers said. “Thank you, Superman.”
“Glad I could help.” With that, he disappeared.
Lois spotted Admiral Haberstetzer approaching and looked around with a frown. “Admiral? Have you seen Clark?”
“I thought he was with you.” He said.
Before she could respond Clark approached still in the uniform, she’d had him change into earlier. “Clark!” She ran up to him, wrapping her arms around him.
“Are you okay?” He asked, pulling back to look at her.
“A little shaky but I’ll live.” She glanced back at Molly who was surrounded by three soldiers that appeared to be giving her a look over, examining her wrists and the handcuffs on the desk. Molly met her gaze and smiled at her. She turned toward the Admiral who was talking with one of the senior officers. “When can we get out of here?”
“Might be a few hours. Once the officials have deemed we aren’t a threat to national security, we should be able to leave.”
“How long will that take?” Clark asked nervously.
“Twenty minutes. If you write fast.” One of the officers from behind them asked. “I’ll need all of your statements. Write legibly.” He handed them a pad of paper and pen. “Don’t leave anything out.”
Lois looked back at Clark with a half-smile then walked with him toward one of the desks to begin writing.
Later that morning after giving their statements and going over everything that had happened repeatedly to several officers they were finally released. The drive back had been quiet. Molly hadn’t said much after they’d been freed to leave.
“This is it.” The Admiral said, pointing at the small shop Molly had given them directions to.
“I’ll walk you,” Lois said, following her to the door to reassure herself she was indeed safe. Clark stayed back, seeming to sense she needed to talk to Molly alone. He was always so good at reading her. It was scary how well he seemed to know her; almost as well as she and Molly used to know one another. They’d gone to school together then gone to college together. Molly was her rock through the fiasco with Paul and Linda. They were best friends—until Ryan happened.
‘Judgmental and Self-absorbed.’
“So, this is it.” Molly pointed at the shop. “I have a cute little apartment in the back. You want to come in for a minute and have some coffee? The Admiral and Clark can come in too.”
“We really shouldn’t.” Lois apologized. “Perry’s probably wondering where we are. We can maybe grab lunch tomorrow if you’d like?”
“Yeah, that’d be nice,” Molly said with a warm smile. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too,” Lois admitted. “Senior year certainly wasn’t the same without you.”
“I know.” Molly said sadly, “I can’t believe we let a man come between us. I haven’t met a man yet that is worth giving up a good friend for.”
“You think I’m a good friend?” Lois asked skeptically.
“I do,” Molly said with a smile, leaning in for a hug. “So, you and Clark, huh?”
Lois blushed, “We’re still figuring things out.”
“I bet you are!” Molly wiggled her eyebrows in a teasing tone. “He seems nice. Not a psycho.”
“Always a plus.”
“Quite a track record between us, huh?”
“Are you going to be okay?” Lois asked, sensing she was covering.
“Nothing a couple hundred thousand dollars of therapy won’t cure.” Molly gave her a watery smile. “I’m fine. Really. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
Lois leaned in to hug her. “Tomorrow.” She held her a little longer, “Take care of yourself.” Then headed back to the Jeep where Clark and the Admiral were waiting.
Lois watched the Admiral drive off and sighed as she walked toward her car that was parked across from his apartment. Recalling what had almost happened a few hours ago and the tension that hung in the air after her close call with death again.
He did look really good in that uniform.
He felt really good.
She moved her hand up his shoulder tentatively, uncertain what she was allowed to do or not do. How could so much change in such a short amount of time?
<<“I love you, Lois, I've always loved you.”>>
“I guess we should get that story written. I’m sure Perry’s wondering what happened.” She said nervously. The smell of his cologne hung in the air. What was it about that smell that made her want to inhale and let it linger on her nostrils. Had he always smelled that good?
<<“Are you saying you’d regret making love with me?”
“Yeah, what time did the General say the power would be restored? Maybe we can power up one of the laptops.” He suggested, stopping when they got to the driver’s side of the Jeep.
<<“I love you, Lois. I don’t want a one-night-stand, and I don’t think you want that either. I want forever…”
“I think they’re both still at the Planet.” She said, leaning back against the door. She should get in the Jeep and go home. Sleep. Shower and change. These were things she should be doing, but instead, all she could think about was that kiss. That incredibly mind-numbing kiss that had made her weak in the knees.
They hadn’t even been on a date, and she was already fighting the urge to give into her impulses to grab him and pick up where they’d started. What he must think of her…Trying to seduce him like that.
<<“You shouldn’t laugh. You’re about to fall head over heels in love.”
“I thought I already was.”
“Not yet, but you will be.” >>
“Then I guess we should head back to the Planet.” He said, moving his hand to cup her cheek.
“Right.” She relaxed as his palm brushed against her cheek. She moved her hand to cover his, meeting his gaze. “I’m glad you were able to get Superman to stop the Hawkeye in time. One of these days you’re going to have to teach me how you do that. I tried to contact him with Jimmy’s old watch from STAR Labs. I don’t think that went over very well.”
He chuckled, “I’m just glad everything worked out okay.”
She met his gaze, and she could see the struggle he seemed to be having within himself. Was he finding it just as hard not to pick up where they’d left off? Was he fighting the urge to pick up where they’d left off too?
“We should get going.” He said, pulling back. “Don’t want to keep Perry waiting.”
“Right,” She nodded, “Perry.”
Clark pushed through the rotating glass doors, following Lois through the lobby and into the stairwell. It was still dimly lit with the battery powered lanterns Perry had put on each floor to make sure everyone could make it up and down without falling in the dark. He could pick up the faint beat of Lois’ heartbeat as they moved up the stairs. She was upset about something but what that something was he wasn’t sure.
“Clark?” She turned back to him as they approached the floor to the newsroom. “Do you think I’m judgmental?”
“No... not really.” He edged cautiously, not sure what had brought the question on.
“Am I self-centered?”
Judging by the look on her face he could tell it really bothered her. If he’d been talking to the Lois Lane, he’d first met over a year ago the answer would have been a definite ‘yes’ but now things had changed. She had changed. She still had her moments, but she was more caring that self-absorbed these days.
“No…not often.” He smiled at her.
“Do you think I always have to be right?”
He couldn’t help but smile at that question. She did have a need to be right, but she could also take criticism if given to her …gently. “Well... not always.” He moved toward her, running a hand down her jawline, “Lois, what's this all about?”
She looked down remorsefully, “It’s just something Molly said.” She gave him a sad smile, “Do you think I’m a good friend?”
He grinned, “I think you’re a *great*friend.”
“Really?” She asked, not quite believing.
“Really.” He leaned into her, feeling her relax in his embrace. “You’re a very caring person that fights tooth and nail for everyone and everything you care about. Anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend. As long as they don’t try to scoop you.”
She let out a groan, “I still can’t believe you tricked me like that.”
“You stole my story.” He countered with a half-smile.
“I did apologize for that.” She argued.
“No, you didn’t.” He laughed. “You tried to turn it around like it was some great teaching moment.”
“Oh, yeah,” She gave him a weak grin, “Well, I’m apologizing now. Better late than never, right?”
Clark chuckled and reached for the door behind her, “I accept your apology.”
They stepped into the newsroom and spotted Perry with a copy of last night’s newspaper in his hand, “Hey you two, you just missed Stormin’ Norman! I heard you two held down the fort. Nice work!”
“How’s your friend?” Perry asked as they walked toward their desks.
“Molly? She’s good. She’s got a lot to work through, but she’ll be fine. I told her we’d have lunch tomorrow and talk.” Lois said with a nod toward Clark.
He smiled back, “I’m sure you two have a lot to catch up on.”
Perry gave them a look, “So I assume whatever was going on is, uh, taken care of?”
“Gone and buried,” Lois said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Sorry about that Chief,” Clark apologized, recalling how he and Lois had disrupted the newsroom earlier.
“Every partnership goes through its rough patches.” Perry reasoned. “As long as you were able to work through it I don’t got a problem.”
Lois looked back at him with a grin, and he put an arm over her shoulder, sharing a look with her. There was still a lot he and Lois had to work through, but that was something they’d work through together. He knew what he needed to do. He needed to tell her about Superman, but right now wasn’t the time. They were both exhausted going on very little sleep.
“Where’s Jimmy?” Clark asked, looking around. He still needed to talk to Jimmy about his part in all of this. He wasn’t happy with what he’d done, but he also wasn’t proud of the way he’d spoken to his young friend either.
Perry pointed toward his office where Jimmy was fast asleep on the couch, “I think he’s got the heart to be a real newsman. Just lacks the stamina.”
The lights flickered, and he and Lois both looked at one another then to their computers which were powering up. Lois reached for her keyboard and hugged it as the sounds of televisions and phones filled the newsroom. Reporters cheered around them.
“All right! Looks like we'll be able to run an Extra edition!” Perry cheered. He looked to Lois and Clark, “We’re going to lead with your story.” He took a deep breath looking toward his office, “I hate to do this.” He walked toward his office, “Jimmy! Wake up, son!”
Jimmy’s exhausted voice reached Clark’s ears, “I’m up. I’m up.”
Lois turned to him with a shy smile, running her hand over his chest, “I guess it'll take more than a few terrorists to bring down this paper.”
“With Perry and Jimmy on board? Definitely.” Clark nodded, “So, what do you say we get this article written sleep for a day and then you have dinner with me tomorrow night?”
“Sleep does sound good.” She smiled, “Are you sure you still want to date a self-absorbed judgmental know-it-all that steals stories from her friends?”
“I have it on good authority she’s worth it.” He reached over to cup her cheek, “So, is it a date?”
She ran her hands up his chest until they were resting on his shoulders and whispered, “It’s a date.”
His smile spread across his face, and he held her gaze, “You won’t be sorry.”
She looked back at him with a smirk. “You seem pretty confident about this date. What if it doesn’t work out? What makes you think I’m not going to have a horrible time and leave?”
“That won’t be possible.” He responded with a twinkle in his eye.
“Pretty sure of yourself there, aren’t you, Kent?”