Lois and Lex
by Gary Wilbur
So she bought the ticket for La Boheme the next day, and here she was. It was intermission, and she was not only enjoying the music, but also the heady atmosphere and the elegance of her surroundings. Wasn't that the actress Delores Winter heading toward the ladies room? And her date was . . . Oh, wow. It was Lex Luthor. Lex turned just as she saw him, and nearly bumped into her.
"Oh, excuse me," they both said. Then Lex actually saw her.
"Mr. Luthor . . . "
"Please call me Lex," he said, smiling.
"Lex? Well, okay. I'm Lois Lane."
"Well, yes, you are. Are you reviewing the opera for your newspaper?"
Lois was put off by that. "How do you know what I do?"
"Oh, that really doesn't matter much, my dear. Are you enjoying the production?"
"I am." Lois didn't want to admit this was her first opera, and really didn't know what else to say. And unless she was badly mistaken, it looked like Luthor was interested in her.
"Miss Lane . . . It is Miss, isn't it?"
"Miss Lane, I would love the opportunity to chat with you, but the second act is about to start, and I'm here with someone. Are you free for lunch tomorrow?"
"Uh, yes. Yes, I am." Lois kept her composure, but this was Lex Luthor asking her to lunch.
"Fine. Just come to the Lexcorp building tomorrow at noon and give your name to the receptionist. I'm looking forward to seeing you then."
Lois smiled, but it was all she could do to keep her mouth from gaping open. Just like that she had a lunch date with, of all people, Lex Luthor.
"Lois Lane to see Mr. Luthor," she said to the receptionist.
"Yes, Ms. Lane, he's expecting you. Please take that elevator to the second floor, and you'll find him down the hall to the right."
As she stepped out of the elevator she heard him.
"Lois, I'm glad you could make it." Lex was coming down the hall with three other men. "So," he said to one of them, "I want your report by three. Not a second later. We are not going to allow them to do this. Am I understood, gentlemen? Good. I'm going to lunch."
The three men stepped into the elevator Lois had just vacated. Lex smiled and led Lois off in another direction. "We'll have lunch in the private dining room upstairs," he said.
As the small talk slipped into more genuine conversation, Lois asked him, "Lex, last night you seemed to already know something about me."
"I am aware of you and your work, Lois. You're good. That WGBS story you did, the one that got you on their talk show: that was very interesting."
"You saw that?"
"I've seen you a few places," he smiled. "You're not a child any more, Lois."
That was an odd thing to say, Lois thought. I wonder if he . . . Oh, no. Lois remembered the time she, at age fifteen, had broken into Lex's home trying to find some bit of juicy news that would help her get a job as a reporter. Luthor had caught her that night. She wondered if he had any memory of that. She hesitated, but then couldn't resist asking.
"You don't by any chance recall . . . " she started before her nerve failed her.
Lex smiled amiably. "I recommend the lobster bisque," he said.
This evening they were in Luthor's penthouse enjoying a late dinner. The tycoon had brought out some of his second-best wine, and there was music and candles.
"So tell me, Lois. What are your dreams and hopes and ambitions?"
"You really want to hear this?"
"Certainly I do."
Well, I definitely want a career. Not just a job, a career. I want to make a name for myself. I want people to say that Lois Lane is really good at what she does, and not dependent on anybody."
"No dependence on a man? Really?"
"Not dependence, no . . . . Don't misunderstand, Lex. I want to be in love, sure. And I like men with power and authority, men like you, I'll admit. But I think I can write, and I'd like to get known in that way. That's why I really worked hard to get on with the Planet."
"So you'd like to make it big as a reporter."
"Oh, yeah. No question. You know, I'd give just about anything to get onto that space plane, for instance. The Constitution. Can you imagine the story that would be?"
"The story of the century?"
"I guess that's about as close a contender for that title as anything I can imagine."
Luthor smiled. "Lois, you think I'm a powerful man? Let me show you something." He walked across the room and picked up his phone. "Caldwell? Luthor. I want you to get a spot for a newspaper reporter to be on that Constitution flight. Yes. Lois Lane, Daily Planet. Good." He put the phone down, looked up at Lois, raised his eyebrows and extended his palms for the "Ta-Daa" look.
Lois' eyes couldn't open wider. "Lex? . . .Really?! I'm on it?!!" She sprang up and kissed him. "Oh, Lex, how can I ever thank you?"
Lex knew exactly how, as he kissed her back. But his embrace was just a little tighter and his kiss a bit more demanding than Lois was comfortable with. She started to pull away, and the embrace became a trap.
"Lex . . . "
Then he completely overplayed his hand, and more than just figuratively. Lois wrenched herself away and slapped him hard across the face.
All Luthor's charm dissipated in an instant, and he glared at her furiously, looking every bit as evil as he was. "Is this the thanks I get?" he growled.
"Is that the thanks you expect? Because if it is, you can have your gift back." Lois eyed him warily.
Luthor took a deep breath and reinstated his more reasoned self. In just a few seconds the charm was back. "Lois, please forgive me. I was . . . intoxicated by the moment. Of course there is no need to give back this flight opportunity."
"Are you sure that you . . . ?"
"Absolutely. I think way too much of you to want to harm or offend you in any way. I think you know me well enough to know that's true. I truly apologize. Come on. Let's just sit and finish our drinks and talk."
"I can't do that tonight, Lex. I don't know. I think I'll just go."
"Are you sure I can't convince you to stay a little longer?"
"Not tonight, Lex. No. I am grateful for the space plane opportunity, but . . . "
"Of course. I understand. I'll see you out."
"I'll let myself out, thanks."
As soon as she was gone, Luthor's fury was back on his face. "Who does she think she is? Thinks I'm powerful, does she? She has no idea. I think a good scare is just what Miss Lois Lane can really use right now."
He picked up his phone again.
She was approaching the space plane, and with the tiniest catch in her voice she said to the registrar, "Lois Lane, Daily Planet," and showed him her ID. She was ushered on to the next checkpoint. They had her flight suit, and she was tagged as part of the team. She was actually going to get on this plane. She was aware of her heartbeat.
I'm really a fool to act so provincial, she thought. I'm a grown woman. He's a grown man. We have urges. I'm not some na´ve little girl fresh off the farm, I'm a Metropolitan. And look where I am, and all because of him. By the time she was actually aboard the plane she had convinced herself that maybe she needed to apologize to Lex.
I'd kind of like to have what I thought they had, Clark thought. But I guess they weren't the match I believed them to be.
Clark was in the center of a large press of people moving to the area that would probably afford them the best view. They were just waiting, now. Many people had cameras. Ruby wasn't really right for me, either, he thought. I like her a lot, it's true, but after losing Lori, well, I just can't imagine the girl that I could really fall for.
Clark heard the sound before anyone else did, but he was careful not to react until others heard it, and all eyes turned in the direction of the historic flight of the space plane Constitution.
All he needed to do was guide the Cessna into a near miss with the space plane. A near miss. The pilot would never know what caused his plane to act like that. But the near miss turned out to be nearer than Luthor had intended. The pilot, frantic in his attempts to recover control of his plane, steered wildly and somehow threw off Luthor's control by a few crucial feet, and his plane collided with the gargantuan space plane.
Everyone saw it, and there was a mass cry of horror. But one individual made an instant fateful decision and leaped into the air. The crowd went silent in shocked disbelief as a flying man darted up to meet the rapid descent of the space plane. They not only saw a man fly that day, they saw him actually catch the massive plane and guide it safely to the tarmac.
They were still awestruck when the door to the Constitution opened and a fiery young woman leaped out.
"Hold it right there, Buster!" she yelled at the man who had just saved her life. The flying man turned to her, and their eyes met. For a second, neither of them could speak, stunned by what they saw. He saw a courageous and attractive young woman who had a quality he couldn't quite describe. But his thoughts of Lori Lemaris were dissipated in that instant. She saw something in his face that was as impressive as the save, a look of just plain decency, a look that made everything she was feeling about Lex seem cheap.
So much was left unspoken that day, for when the crowd swarmed in around them, the hero of the day flew off, remaining a mystery to everyone. But Lois had her story, bigger and better than she had ever dreamed. "It Flies!" was her headline on the Daily Planet's front page. "Mysterious Superman Saves Space Plane."
Lois nodded. "It's true. It was the biggest story anyone could imagine, and you put me right in the way of it. If you had planned the crash itself you couldn't have done a better job of putting me on the map."
"Hm. Yes." He gave her a piercing look. "I can see something else about you, Lois."
"From the way you wrote about this superman, it is clear to me that what you said the other night was true."
"What are you alluding to?"
"You like powerful men."
"I think that's probably true."
Now Lex was speaking earnestly to her. "Lois, I'm the most powerful man you will ever meet. I know that I startled you that evening, but I think we both know how right we are for each other. Let's not let this slip away. You're not some na´ve little farm girl. We are Metropolitans, and life, as you may realize from your recent close call, is short."
Lois stared in disbelief. He just doesn't give up, she thought. She stood and picked up her jacket.
"Yes, Lex," she said. "Life is short. Too short not to be true to yourself. I'm sorry, but sex is a big deal, a big step, and I just don't feel right about it. If you can learn to live with that it would be a big help." She started toward the door.
"I know what you want, Lois."
She stopped to listen.
"Every woman is different, but I can tell what you want. And it's only fair, I can't blame you. Marry me, Lois."
Lois' amazement quickly became outrage. "Such a charming proposal, Lex! Do you think that is going to make a difference? Like marriage is just the price you pay to have your way with me? And I'd be wife number what? Forgive me if I'm not overwhelmed by this magnanimous offer. Start thinking in terms of us being through, Lex." She stormed out.
The next day she received a videotape in the mail. It was a tape of her stripsearch when she had broken into Luthor's place at the age of fifteen. The post-it note stuck on it said, "See, Lois? It's no big deal."
Perry's mouth dropped open and he dropped his coffee cup. "Great Caesar's ghost!"
Lois turned to follow his gaze, just becoming aware of the wave of voices welling up all around her. Everyone on the street was as amazed as she was when they saw a flying man in a bright blue costume swoop between the buildings just a couple stories above their heads.
"It's a bird," someone said.
"It's a plane," responded a child's voice.
"No," came the voice of a man who obviously had read Lois' space plane rescue story. He sounded as if he really knew what he was talking about, and everyone seemed to accept his pronouncement as true.
"No. It's Superman."