Chapter 5: A Lead
“I’m fine!” she snapped, a little more harshly than intended, and Richard stepped back, glass of water in hand. She was feeling a lot better, really, but for some reason Richard and Jimmy were fussing over her like she was nine months pregnant.
“Are you sure?” Richard pressed. He knew better than anyone how much she hated to appear weak, even to her closest friends.
Feeling sorry for her outburst, she acquiesced. “Maybe a couple of ibuprofen to go with this?” she said, accepting the glass. “But really, just let me go over this research. It’s probably only a touch of something I picked up at sea.”
He nodded, but still wasn’t completely satisfied. “What about dinner tonight? Should we cancel? We can reschedule if you––”
“Richard.” She cut him off firmly, but gratefully. “The best medicine for me will be to break this story wide open.” She gestured at her computer screen.
He bent down to kiss her cheek. “All right. But promise me you’ll let me know if the feeling comes back?”
“I promise.” She watched him walk toward the supply cabinet, and dig around for the pain medicine she had requested.
They had arrived back at the Planet about a half-hour ago. Jimmy had forewarned Richard of her condition by phone call. As soon as the elevator doors had opened, Richard had taken her from Clark Kent’s arms and hustled her to her chair to sit. Clark had drifted away toward his desk, no longer needed.
She wondered again what had come over her. It’s not like I’m some swooning delicate flower, here… But then she chided herself. Admit it, Lane. You only get like this in the presence of Superman. Her dramatic fainting spell after Superman had rescued the plane was ample proof of that.
But Superman had been nowhere in sight this afternoon… Which reminded her – now that she felt better, she needed to properly thank Clark for his support earlier. She looked toward his desk. Empty. She scanned the room for him – he wasn’t with Jimmy, or Perry, or anywhere else in the room. He hadn’t gone off to research the story without her, had he? No, she smirked, she might do something like that, but not wholesome-as-milk Clark Kent. He was probably off on some inane errand again.
She glanced at the bank of television monitors. News organizations from around the world were reporting various Superman sightings since he had recovered from his fall from the skies. Been busy today, have you? But you can’t avoid me for long…
As she idly read through the list of damaged buildings trying to find some connection, she began to wonder if these fits of… déjà vu… were somehow connected as well. She broke off looking at the list, and grabbed a pencil and a legal pad from under a stack of papers.
She wrote ‘DV’ at the top of the tablet, underlining it a couple of times, just for good measure. She began to make a list of all the moments that had caused her to experience that strange sensation …
Superma–– She erased and started over. Inexplicably, she felt the urge to write in code.
S – red glow
Dimonds w/ white snow
She stopped. She had been about to write ‘Clark’s disappearances’ but wasn’t sure if they were related at all. In fact, she had that vision of Clark’s glasses fading from his face, too… She wrote it down anyway:
C – dissapear & glasses?
At that moment, Richard came by and quietly placed the ibuprofen on her desk. She smiled up at him in gratitude, while simultaneously blocking her handwritten notes with her forearm. He smiled back, and went on to his office.
As she removed her arm from blocking the list, she felt a twinge of guilt. But as with anything directly, or indirectly, related to Superman, she felt the need to keep it to herself. Again she tried to convince herself: Let me figure this whole thing out first, and then I’ll tell Richard everything.
She tore the sheet from the pad, folded it several times, and placed it in her purse for safekeeping. Writing things down always seemed to help her coalesce ideas in her mind. She would let them percolate a while longer…
Turning her attention back to the monitor, Lois scrolled down the page. The damage had been citywide. She pulled up her mapping program, and began to plot the locations. As she suspected, the damage spread from the quake’s fault point at the waterfront, and radiated outward.
She deleted the locations from the map that were in that radius, focusing instead on the buildings – like the Harris office building from this morning – that were outside of the expected pattern.
The red pinpoints were all over the map. She could see no discernible pattern… Wait. There, on the other side of the marine district from the section with the most damage, was the warehouse complex of L & V Construction. Hmm. Interesting. Could it be the same company that handled the construction of the Harris building?
She consolidated her list and got to work. Picking up the phone, she called the zoning office for the city of Metropolis. Lois spent an afternoon on the phone with various municipal offices – wheedling if needed, barking when necessary. If there was one thing in which Lois Lane excelled, above all others, it was getting information from people willingly. In all of these phone calls, she discovered a very important fact. While not all of the buildings had been built by the same company, a considerable number had been. Her hunch about L & V seemed to be panning out.
But at about 4:30PM, she hit a roadblock. The last phone call to make was to L & V Construction. She had a story all ready to tell the receptionist… but she ran into a recording, instead: “You have reached L & V Construction. At this time, our offices are closed, due to extensive damage to our headquarters. Please leave your name, number, and the address of the project in question and one of our project managers will get back to you as soon as possible.”
Shoot. She glanced at the clock again. Even if they were closed, there might be someone there to talk to. It was a good bet that everyone would leave by 5:00PM... But it wouldn’t hurt to try…
She grabbed her purse from the floor and jacket from the back of her chair, and strode over to pop her head into Richard’s office. “Richard,” she announced, and he looked up expectantly. “I want to go check out a lead at the waterfront. You have any idea what happened to Clark?”
“No idea.” He shrugged. “You look like you’re back to your old self.” She nodded, impatient to get moving. Richard’s face took on a puzzled expression. “Was Kent like this before? Always disappearing at odd times?”
“I think so,” she said, eyebrows drawing down. “I don’t remember all that well. But it seems like it.” She waved a hand in dismissal. “I’ll just give him a ring, let him know where I’m headed. If you see him, tell him to call?”
Lois started to rush off, but he stopped her. “Hon?”
She popped her head in again, very briefly. “Yes. Dinner, I know. I’ll be home in time.”
Without waiting for his response, she blew him a kiss, and sped for the elevators. She slipped one arm through her jacket sleeve as she searched through her cell phone contact list for Clark’s name. I know that I asked Clark for his number during lunch… was I so out of it that I just…? She found it, finally. The elevator doors opened with a ding and she stepped quickly out of the building. With one hand raised to hail a cab, the other hand held the phone to her ear.
She got the voice mail again. Will you please charge up your phone, already? She rolled her eyes, and spoke quickly into the phone. “Hey, Clark, this is Lois. I couldn’t find you earlier… but I think I might have a lead on our story. I’m heading to L & V Construction down by the docks if you want to meet me there. Otherwise, see you at 8 o’clock for dinner tonight. Bye.”
Just then, a cab stopped for her. “Pier 52, please,” she said matter-of-factly, sliding into the back seat.
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A/N: The spelling errors on Lois’ handwritten list are intentional. ;)Next: Chapter 6: Need to Know