|The Wrong Meeting|
|What: As Clark Kent and Lois Lane track down a story, Superman has to make an appearance.|
"Kent. I don't care which one of you gets the story, but you need to get a quote from the mayor on this and you need to get it today."
"But sir," begins Clark, looking owlish with his messy hair and coke bottle glasses so thick they make his eyes look nearly double their true size. "I've already contacted his office three times. He's in a lunch meeting until 3:00. It's not as if I can simply open up his office door and jump right in."
Rumors have sprouted up all over town that a recent shipment of sludge waste was stolen from the Metropolitan docks and sold on the black market to some sort of seedy international group. The details at this point aren't clear, but what is clear is that Clark doesn't think he's going to be able to get in and speak to the mayor until this afternoon.
"What about you, Lois? You're the resourceful one, especially with Kent here playing possum. What are your thoughts?"
There has been the steady sound of typing from Lois' desk, and as the words are directed to her the reporter raises her head, finally stopping the tapping to lift one hand to rake the long, dark hair back from her face. "I was just sending his secretary a box of her favorite dark chocolate," she responds. "You'll get the bill with my monthly expense report," is added casually, directed to their editor. "If we head out now, Clark, we should be there by the time they're delivered." Lois stands, grabbing the strap of her bag and shouldering it. The look directed toward her fellow reporter is not unkind, but it is lacking something in the patience department. "Well, c'mon."
Clark sighs and nods to Lois, "Alright." It's clear he doesn't care for 'greasing the wheels.' He's said as much, before, that the sort of grey area that so often permeated this business could be very distasteful to him. Clark slings his briefcase over his rumpled suitcoat and follows along behind Lois. Perry, meanwhile, hampered by the smoking ban here in New York, must satiate himself by simply chewing on the end of his cigar.
As Clark follows behind, his soft and almost whimpy voice can be heard quietly, "Lois? Do you think we should take a taxi or the metro?"
While Lois has the standards to not stoop to anything 'shady', she herself considers a little bribe to a secretary just a way of staying in good graces. It's all about connections, after all. Maybe Clark will learn that one day. "If he's going to chew on those things he might as well just switch to the bubblegum ones," she observes, once they're out of earshot of their boss. "We'll take a cab. That's what expense accounts are for, after all." Her own voice is typically more authoritative, never less than sure of herself no matter the situation. Attitude is everything. She punches the button for the elevator as they reach it, then turns to look at her companion. There's a quick assessment before her hands come up, giving his lapels a light tug to straighten them. "Honestly, Clark, did you sleep in this?" That exasperated indulgence is in her tone again, as if she's correcting someone much younger than herself and not just a year her junior.
Clark looks quizzically at her as she straightens his lapels. He looks downward and raises an eyebrow before shaking his head. "No. Why, does it look bad?"
As they reach the ground floor it's just a few steps out into the craziness of New York City. On the street cars zip past, many of them taxis, while bystanders pass by. Many of the latter look up to see the large globe that stands atop the building.
For a second Lois just looks at Clark, then as the elevator dings she sighs and turns away without answering. She takes her phone out, tapping out a couple of text messages as the elevator descends, then taking the lead again out to the street. She hesitates as she steps up to the curb, turning to look at Clark. "Want to get us a cab?" She'll do that, now and then... pause to see if Clark steps up to take control. She doesn't think of them as tests, but as giving him chances.
Clark nods, "Sure!" His chipper demeanor seems to return; it's never gone for very long. He raises his hand and gives a shrill whistle. Almost immediately a cab pulls into the port. Clark takes a step and begins to fumble a bit with the door. "Do you think we'll have time for lunch before or after? I'm not sure Perry is considering our lunch hour much today with the news." Clark seems a bit sad at the idea of not eating and finally gets the handle of the door.
Lois is impressed as a cab is secured immediately, but then there's the fumbling with the door and the worry about food. Who can eat when there's a story out there waiting to be had? She takes a deep breath, quelling her urge to just reach out and get the door herself. "We can stop for a sandwich or something after," she says, adding, "Or grab a dog from a cart on our way back." Eating on the move is typical of her, as is eating things with the nutritional value of cardboard. "How's that?" At least she asks, as she climbs through the finally open cab door. She has slacks on, which she wears almost exclusively while working, because skirts just do not lend themselves to running after a story, especially when sometimes that's very literal. Her work shoes are also sensible but fashionable, her whole outfit meshing into a blend of fall colors.
Clark simply shrugs his shoulders at the question, seemingly happy with her answer agreeing to a bite later. As for Clark's clothing it looks like something out of the 1980s. Early 80s, in fact. There's a blackish, greyish, woolish coat with pleated black pants and a skinny black tie. It's the glasses though. Always the glasses. Not far from the Daily Planet is City Hall. Clark pulls out his wallet, intent on picking up the fare. "Receipt please."
Lois has to admit that for whatever fumbling he does, Clark is always a gentleman, especially when it comes to expenses. "Lunch is on me," she says absently, her mind a million miles away. Or at least, some number of yards, as she's planning the best approach to Edith, the Mayor's secretary. "I think the chocolates should buy us at least a couple minutes, Edith is pretty good about getting him out of something while she makes more coffee." She starts talking almost in the middle of a conversation she had already started in her head, just expecting Clark to catch up with her train of thought.
"Edith?" Clark asks, confused. "Well, Lois, you know I can't allow you to buy me lunch, if my mother found out she'd be so disappointed in me." The pair head into City Hall with little fanfare and take the elevator to the Mayor's floor. When the door opens up, there's Edith behind the counter, working intently on something. Clark looks around at the walls, noticing some of the pictures the Mayor has hung. Pictures of him and other politicians, movie stars, or athletes.
"So don't tell your mother, Clark," Lois points out. "It's not like I'm going to rat you out to her because you let me buy a couple of dogs." In the elevator Lois brushes some nonexistent lint from her jacket sleeve, then combs her fingers through her hair quickly. She leads the way into the Mayor's outer office, a smile coming as soon as they're in sight of the secretary. Sharp eyes note a box of chocolates at the very end of the counter, the lid ajar, and her smile takes a touch of satisfaction. "Afternoon, Edith," she greets the other woman, stepping up before her. Her tone is gentle, knowing the other woman responds well to kindness, "What are the chances of us catching His Highness for two minutes?"
Edith returns the smile when the pair of reporters approach, glancing at Clark before her eyes focus on Lois. The Mayor's secretary is a little dowdy but very efficient, sometimes mousy but willing to stand her ground to do her job. Unless the wheels are greased. "Lois! I just got the chocolates a few minutes ago, how do you always remember my favorites?" Because it's in her database, actually. "I think I can interrupt with a break, they've been in there a while."
Lois is quick to agree, and just as quick to say, as she peers at Edith intently, "Have you done something different with your hair? You look fantastic." A little more grease never hurts, and while it's a fabricated compliment it's not given with malice. And it clearly pleases Edith. Lois turns to Clark, nearly bumping into him, one hand coming up to thump lightly on his chest, stopping the collision. She doesn't comment on the near miss, but just says, "C'mon, Clark."
"Lois, you know I could never keep a secret from my mother. Come on, don't be silly." True, if there is a mamma's boy of the office, it's certainly Clark Kent.
In the office, Clark's chest seems a lot more muscular than it might look, what with his hunched shoulders and his frumpy clothing. In any event, the pair start heading in, at the beckoning of Edith, but almost immediately it seems as though they shouldn't have. The mayor looks at the pair worriedly from behind his desk while the two sharp dressed men with slicked back hair and designer suits seem irritated at the intrusion.
From his point behind Lois, Clark's eyes lose their focus for a moment as he uses his x-ray vision to scan the room.
"Edith, pardon me. Do you happen to have a restroom? I'm suddenly not feeling great. I'm..." His face wrinkles with a bit of a pained look.
"Sure, Mr. Kent, it's out the door and right around the corner," answers Edith. "Lois," the mayor says, regaining some of his composure. "So nice to see you..." His voice trails.
Lois breezes into the inner office behind Edith, and as Clark makes his request she turns, giving him a look that clearly, if silently, says 'Really?'. The exasperation in her eyes is masked at once as her attention returns to the men, Clark dismissed summarily as he makes his exit. "It's wonderful to see you again, sir, and I promise this won't take but a moment of your time." She pauses, looking to the two somewhat goonish looking men with a nod, "Gentlemen." But her attention is right back onto the Mayor. "I was just hoping to get a quick statement on the apparently missing shipment from the harbor." She doesn't elaborate, he knows perfectly well what she's talking about. Edith, being wonderful at her job, blends into the furniture for a few minutes.
The trio of men in the room have faltering faces as she brings up the very topic they've been talking about. "Edith," the mayor says nervously. "Shut the door." Edith swiftly heads to the door and closes it, but after she does, one of the two men in suits rises after her and locks it.
"Ya came to da wrong meetin' Miss Lane," says one of the men who sports a thin mustache and a large neck and stomach. "I'm sorry to get you involved in this Lois..."
Meanwhile, Clark Kent is shuffling down the tileway toward the restroom. He holds the area over his gut as if to accentuate what is clearly already an embarrassing situation. He ducks into the bathroom and into one of the stalls.
It doesn't even take the snikt of the lock sliding into place for Lois to realize that this meeting is a lot more than she'd bargained on. And, of course, Clark has managed to leave her to the lions again. Well, at least he'll be safe, and maybe, when she doesn't come back out, he'll have the inclination to call the police. Because these look like the kind of guys who are the reason there's a police force in the first place. In a second, Lois widens her eyes, looking more innocent even than Clark. "The wrong meeting? Goodness, I don't want to interrupt then, Edith and I will just be on our way." Sure, it's not likely to work, but it gives her a minute to look around the office and assess for weapons. Even a desk phone can be a halfway decent thrown weapon with the right motivation. And two guys who look like they're both named Guido are pretty motivating.
Lois is strategically located next to a potted plant, and the good news is that the men don't seem to have any outward weapons. The bad news is that they were never likely to have any outward weapons. Indeed, this is an intimidation meeting. It was never supposed to get bloody, but the press was never supposed to walk right in either. Three cheers for awesome timing.
"I'm sorry, Miss Lane. It looks like bofe you and Edith are going to be staying for the duration of the meeting. More, afterwards, you're going to be coming with us."
So, the innocent act didn't work. Well, it was worth a try, even if she didn't really have much faith in the ruse. Wide eyes shift to a suspicious squint, hardening as the 'gentleman' makes plans for her and Edith. "I don't think that's going to fit into my schedule, gosh I'm sorry to disappoint you." She takes a sideways step, putting herself between the men and Edith, and that much closer to the potted plant. While they have size on her, it's not likely they expect Lois to know how to defend herself, and she's certainly not going to just let them bully poor Edith.
And where the hell is Clark? Talk about awesome timing.
"Really, Miss Lane, we'd just as soon appreciate it if you didn't talk." One of the guys, the guy who seems to be the one in charge, nods to the other one who immediately pulls a gleaming sidearm from the side of his coat. It's aimed at Lois.
The one in charge pulls out a cell and slowly dials a number. The only noise in the room is his pressing on the buttons.
"It's me." "It's the press. They j---. Yeah, Lane." "I dunno, some bozo in the crapper." "Whaddya wanna do?"
There's a dramatic pause as the man tilts his head from one side to the other. "You're the boss."
The man presses end and puts the phone back in his pocket.
Boy, Lois really doesn't like to be told to shut up, even if it's done somewhat diplomatically. Her lips press together in a thin line and she starts wondering how hard she'd have to hit him with the potted plant to dent his head. The weapon brings no visible reaction, but inside Lois is really hoping Clark comes back to find the door locked sooner rather than later. She holds her tongue while the phone call goes on, glancing to the Mayor briefly before her eyes return to the man on the phone. "So, we gonna hash this out over dinner? I know a great place just around the corner."
"Y'aint invited to dinner, missy." The second one reaches back into his pocket and begins to screw an elongated piece of metal onto his gun. As he re-raises it, the glass on the far window begins to warp and mutate, looking as if it's misshaping right before Lois' eyes. After a split seconds a piece of the glass melts away and a red beam continues on into the room, aimed directly on the handgun that is held towards Lois. It melts before the man can do anything about it to defend himself.
Lois is not unfamiliar with that particular power, knowing the source at once. She acts quickly, twisting, grabbing the plant by the greenery and swinging it up, stepping forward to get closer to Phone Thug and aiming it toward his noggin. "Sorry fern," she says softly to the plant as it arcs around, the wind of her upper body putting more umph behind it's swing.
As Superman floats into the room amid the broken glass of the window, he hovers down to the ground and pads softly onto the floor. Just as he does so, the Phone thug is hitting the carpet after being slugged in the head with a potted plant.
"Hello, Lois. It's good to see you. I wish it were on better terms. It appears you might not have needed my help after all."
There's a flutter in Lois' stomach that isn't solely the result of the close call, but, as always, she remains outwardly calm and collected. One brow lifts and a half smile curves her lips, "Nice to see you too, Superman." She tears her eyes away from the Man of Steel, because looking too long might reveal his affect on her, and she looks down to the now peacefully sleeping goon. "I'm ok with a potted plant, but I'm pretty sure that I would have been in a little bit of a pinch with the gun if you hadn't happened along." She looks back up, her eyes challenging as her composure regains solid footing and the Mayor goes at once to Edith. "Just in the neighborhood?"
Superman chuckles at Lois' dry humor. "Actually, I could hear the conversation from where I was. Sounds like your dinner plans are ruined, Lois." He nods over to the Mayor, "Sir, I called the authorities on my way over, they should be here shortly. I'll also look into their connections and attempt to ensure you receive no further threats."
Lois holds her gaze unwaveringly on Superman as she agrees, "Yes, I seem to have my time freed up now." Clark who? She doesn't look away until Superman's attention turns to the Mayor, who looks up from patting Edith's cheeks. "Well, once again, it seems I'm in your debt, Superman," he says, sounding more than a little relieved. This would put the tally up to a rough several thousand, give or take a dozen.
Lois seems to finally notice Edith down for the count, and she quickly steps to the Mayor's desk, where there is a pitcher of water and a glass. Some is poured out before she crosses and stoops by the woman, who is just coming around. It's not splashed into Edith's face, but offered with a gentle, "It's alright, Edith, it's all over now." as Lois' tough side slips into a kindness that few get to really see. Edith is a little dazed, but she'll recover.
"It appears so," Superman says to Lois with another smile. As they tend to Edith, who seems okay, Superman nods at each of them. Using his X-ray vision, he can see that the police are just about to arrive. "Well, it looks as if the work here is done. I'm glad everything ended up being okay. It was good to see you, Lois." He gives her nod and floats up into the air, slowly heading out the same way he came in.
As Superman says his goodbyes Edith is all but forgotten, but she's in the capable hands of the Mayor, and Lois stands. Was she too subtle? "Yeah... well... all's well that ends well," she says, then immediately thinks that was probably the most lame thing that's ever fallen from her lips. Seriously, Lane, get over it. She clears her throat and nods back to him, resisting the urge to reach out and tug on Superman's cape. "Thanks, Superman. Again." The sound of sirens is almost music, at least to Lois' ears, and she watches the Man of Steel depart. Her pique at her own foolishness is given an outlet as the plant-smacked thug, formerly known as the phone thug, groans. She strides over in three steps and, with the side of her foot, kicks the man in the rear. "No one tells me to shut up." It surely doesn't hurt him more than the plant did, but the release makes Lois feel a little better.
Just after the kick, the doors burst open. "Stop! Police!" As four blueshirts file through the doors with guns drawn they stop abruptly once they realize the job's already done. "Let me guess," one of them says. "Superman," says another, being rather chauvinist and rude given Lois' fern-smash attack.
Lois just rolls her eyes, and, with a sigh, sits on the edge of the Mayor's desk. Now there will be questions to answer, but at least she'll get a damned good story out of the deal. Without thinking, she glances toward the window, but Superman is already long gone. "No," she replies to the cop, "Edith there took them out." Her annoyance is masked perfectly behind a humorous tone, because it pays to stay on the friendly side of Metropolis' finest, even if they can be a bunch of frat boys at times.
After about 15 minutes of questions and answers and general boring police procedural stuff. Clark enters the room, still holding his stomach and the winced look on his face. He pushes his glasses up upon his nose. "Wow, what happened here?"
Very much at home in her perch on the Mayor's desk, Lois is paying rapt attention to the details, already writing the story in her head. When Clark shows up she sighs again, something she seems to do frequently around him. "What happened is that you missed the story, Clark. And Superman saved the day." There's only a light wryness to her tone, because honestly, he did. It would just be nice to get a little credit for the fern smash. But the story is always more important than any accolades. Still, it's probably for the best that Clark wasn't here, and Lois pushes off the desk to her feet, crossing to him as the others talk. Her voice lowers, and there is some measure of concern in her tone as she asks, "How's your stomach?" That man has got to have one of the worst digestive systems of anyone she's ever met, the poor thing.
Clark winces, "Not the best. And I think it's going to be a whole lot worse once Perry realizes I missed the story. I'll have to find something before I head back to the office." He shrugs his shoulders, "Maybe something minty will help. You want to head to Tommy's Bistro?"
Lois doesn't want to see Clark fail, so she reassures him lightly, "We'll find you something, don't worry." She's seen Perry lay into Clark, and it's not a pretty sight. "Yeah, let's hit Tommy's, I think they have ginger ale, too." Lois' version of a miracle cure-all. She looks back to the cops, talking to the Mayor and a still slightly pale looking Edith. "Are you through with me? We have deadlines to meet."
"Yeah yeah, sure, Miss Lane. If we have any more questions, we'll call, thanks." The Lieutenant says. With that, Clark begins to head out the door. "Guess I'm pretty glad I missed all of that."