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Birthday fic: Hard Choices, 1/1

Title: Hard Choices
Author: htbthomas
Fandom: Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Season 1
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,138 words
Summary: Trapped by terrorists in the editor-in-chief’s office at the Daily Planet with all of his colleagues – and Lex Luthor – Clark ponders just how to save them all without revealing himself.
Author's Notes: This is a Happy Birthday ficlet for mrsmosley, for her prompt: “Something angsty based on Lois and Clark, Season 1.” She mentioned that “Fly Hard” was one of her favorites from that season, so this is an exploration of a scene from that episode. Any dialogue that seems familiar is lifted directly from the episode. Thanks to mark_clark, as always.

My first attempt at Lois and Clark, please be kind. :)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Clark tried not to look again at the clock. Every minute, second – no, nanosecond – that they were all trapped in Perry White’s office was that much closer to the moment when the bomb might go off. The terrorists, led by a man and a woman called Fuentes and Remy, from what he’d over-super-heard, were arguing loudly in the outer room. One of the laptop computers was still smoking from where Fuentes had shot a bullet through the monitor.

He zoomed in again on the controller box in Fuentes’ hand… he’d already thought of and dismissed several plans for disabling it. But if the terrorists that were holding him didn’t find what they were looking for – something to do with a gangster from the Prohibition era called Dragonetti – by the time people began arriving for work in the morning…

He hated to feel helpless, especially when he knew that he was anything but. His lightning-fast brain zoomed through all of the scenarios again:

He could fry the circuits in the controller box, but what if he got the wrong one? He would have to find the bomb and remove it before it could go off.

He could super-speed into the outer room and disarm the terrorists, tying them up for the police to find.

He could place himself in the line of fire, using his invulnerability and strength to easily overpower them.

He could open a window and fly all of them to safety, coming back to deal with the terrorists.

Clark clenched his hands in frustration. Every path he could see before him eventually led to one destination. Revealing himself as Superman.

His eyes cut toward Lois and Lex Luthor, sitting handcuffed back to back a few yards away. Lois was wearing a gorgeous black dress, a hint of cleavage peeking out of the square neckline… which she had put on to wear to the opera with Lex. As much as it pained him, he suddenly sorely wished that she were at the theater with him right now. If she hadn’t come in to make a last-minute change to a story, she would be out of this mess. But Lois looked far from upset – even handcuffed to a chair she was as vibrant and quick-witted as ever.

Behind her, Luthor softly groaned, still weak from the loss of blood from a bullet wound in his shoulder. For a wicked moment, Clark wished that the shooter had better aim – then Clark would have been too late to do anything. He pushed the ugly thought down immediately, quashing the feelings of jealousy he had no right to have. He’d had ample opportunities to try to get closer to Lois in the last year… so why hadn’t he?

Was it that he couldn’t trust Lois? No… he knew that wasn’t true. She had proven more than trustworthy with both Clark and his alter-ego. It wasn’t her fault that he kept an invisible wall between himself and Lois. It wasn’t that at all…

…or did he not trust himself?

Maybe it was just because she was getting so close to Lex. If she would only just listen to Clark’s warnings about him. But she was certain that Clark was suspicious for no reason. Perhaps if he warned her as Superman… would she listen?

Lois shifted, craning her neck to look at Luthor. “How are you feeling?” she asked in a low voice, full of concern.

“Fairly well, all told,” he murmured back. Clark kept his eyes on the two terrorists on the other side of the glass, who were still arguing fiercely over accessing the computer system, but his hearing focused on the pair behind him almost instinctually.

“Are you in much pain?” Clark could almost hear the sympathetic grimace in her voice.

“Nothing intolerable,” Lex replied, probably punctuated by an oily shrug. “Don’t worry about me, my dear. I’ve been through worse.” Clark had to fight to keep from rolling his eyes.

“Still, if Clark hadn’t known that Burma—”

It was Borneo, but before could even feel a twinge of pride that Lois had been about to praise his efforts, Fuentes and Remy opened the office door forcefully.

“Your system is locked up. Who can get me online with the computer?” Fuentes demanded.

Perry cleared his throat. “System? What?” he asked gruffly.

“I said the system’s locked up,” he answered impatiently. “Now who can get me online with the computer?”

Was this his chance? Clark stood quickly, pulling his cuff-buddy Jack along with him, and tried to appear eager. “I can help you. What file do you need?”

“That’s not your concern. Just get me onto the Metro-Comp database.”

Before Clark could respond, Lois cut in. “Metro-Comp? That’s the old database. We updated three years ago. He won’t know how to use it.” She rabbited forward in the chair, a triumphant smile on her face. “You’ll have to take me.”

Why did she have to sound so smug? Clark nearly ground his teeth in frustration. He could have them all out of this situation in seconds… But one look around, at Perry, Jack, Lois – and Luthor – his shoulders slumped in defeat.

Fuentes snapped his fingers briskly and the woman unlocked Lois’ cuffs.

“Be careful,” Lex warned, the picture of true concern.

“Don’t worry,” Lois assured him, even as she was being dragged forward by one arm. She was walking once again into the fire, bold as you please. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she shot back, just for Clark’s benefit, “Somebody’s gotta find out what they’re doing here.”

Then she was into the next room with a rough tug and a muffled squeak.

Clark sat back with Jack on the desk. If he could only concentrate, he knew he could think of a way to extract them all safely and preserve his secret identity. He stood again abruptly and drew close to the window, Jack beside him. He lowered the frames of his glasses to get a closer look at what was going on…

“How could you let her go in there?” Luthor demanded from his chair.

“It wasn’t exactly my plan,” Clark drawled.

“If anything happens to her, you’ll—” Lex was interrupted by a grunt of fear from Lois outside. “What’s he doing to her?” He got up carefully from his chair and came to join Clark at the glass-covered doorway.

Clark waved him quiet with a “Shh,” and focused in on Lois once again. “I’ve spent eight months preparing for this night,” Fuentes was saying, “So if you don’t give me the correct access code, I’m gonna—”

Fuentes had his hand around her throat, and a rush of anger filled Clark. If the terrorist so much as harmed her, he would—

“Superman…” Lois squeaked.

Enough was enough – secret identities be damned. “I’m going in,” Clark growled.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


A/N: The episode goes on, but this seems like a lovely place to stop, especially if I wanted to pick a spot to go AU, a time-honored tradition in the L&C fandom. What do you think? Should I?

Oh, and a little something extra for the DC fans, seen at Kimono's Townhouse this morning:

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
mrsmosley
Aug. 22nd, 2007 11:30 am (UTC)
SQUEE! I got birthday fic! Thank you so much, Barb. This is a lovely bit of introspection from Clark. And I think continuing it in an AU would be great! *hugs*
htbthomas
Aug. 22nd, 2007 11:56 am (UTC)
You're welcome. I was pretty nervous about it... since there's so much good L&C fic out there...

I just might continue it if the Muse bites!
elliania
Aug. 22nd, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, that OS is a great way to start a day!! =D
htbthomas
Aug. 22nd, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
OS?
elliania
Aug. 22nd, 2007 04:19 pm (UTC)
One-shot. Ficelet. Fic with only one chapter... Wait! Do you have more chapter to this fic?? O_o
htbthomas
Aug. 22nd, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
I don't have more... yet. I might do more if the Muse prods me. But I just didn't know what "OS" meant! (Can you believe it?)
babettew54
Aug. 22nd, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Nevermind...found the link!
babettew54
Aug. 22nd, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
Wow, your first? Congrats! Well, I hope you continue, because I liked it. I like Clark's POV in situations like this. Always at the forefront is 'the secret' and who will find out. Can you blame him? All those people..! Anyway, thanks, Babs.
**

I almost fell out of my lunch chair when I read this "Kimono Townhouse". LOL. I want more, please. Is there a link? Please send it. Thanks.
htbthomas
Aug. 23rd, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
I know! I love kimonos_house! It's sooo cute and funny. And I knew everyone on my f-list would get a kick out of it! :D
mrsmosley
Aug. 22nd, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
And you sent me a cupcake! I do not deserve this awesomeness. Thank you, friend! :)

htbthomas
Aug. 23rd, 2007 01:08 am (UTC)
Oh, it t'weren't nuthin'. Hope you had a good one!
taro_twist
Aug. 23rd, 2007 05:45 am (UTC)
Ooo, this was great! I don't remember the episode, but Lois, Clark, and Lex all seemed spot on for their L&C versions. Especially Lois! I could completely see and hear Teri Hatcher there.

And these were my two favorite lines:

As much as it pained him, he suddenly sorely wished that she were at the theater with him right now.

and

For a wicked moment, Clark wished that the shooter had better aim – then Clark would have been too late to do anything.

I just love how you managed to show, right next to each other, the goodness in Clark that makes him Superman, and the side of him that makes him just as human and flawed as anybody else.

In any case, I do hope you go AU with this! I don't know if you're planning on revealing Clark's secret, but I know I love scenarios where he's torn between saving people and revealing his identity to the public. :)

Also, that Kimono's Townhouse strip is hilarious! Cooking with Superman! Action figures! Batmuffins!! Awesome. :D



htbthomas
Aug. 23rd, 2007 10:07 am (UTC)
Thanks, Christine! I actually had to go and rewatch it when she mentioned it to me. Her other two faves ran a bell, but not this one, so of course I picked it. :D

Yeah, I liked those lines, too. L&C Clark was really great in showing that dichotomy, wasn't he? I fell a little more in love each time.

I just might, really! I've never been very good with AU stories, but I love reading them in this fandom, and they are really a major component of fic among FoLCs.

The author of KT imagines that the Batmuffins recipe is Alfred's. :D
chickadilly
Aug. 25th, 2007 10:58 pm (UTC)
I don't know how I missed this entry but this was a very fun read - I'd love to read more!

I never read much of L&C fic because I was always sort of mixed on Teri's Lois - I confess she always sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I should look into some fics to see if I like her fan fic versions better. Hmm ...

:)
htbthomas
Aug. 26th, 2007 01:08 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, thanks!

I really love L&C fanfic, but Lois' characterization can be all over the map! I suppose that's true for any Clois story though.

If you go to the archive (lcfanfic.com) I have a few faves:

Sue S. (though her NC-17 rated stuff is not there, go to www.nfanfic.net instead and follow the instructions for the password)
CC Aiken
Wendy Richards

And I also enjoy laramoon, mrsmosley (the birthday girl!) and Laura S.'s stuff lately, too!

I might just continue it, if I can think of a good AU storyline for it!
jij
Aug. 28th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
You know what's especially interesting? I'm reading on the fly, sneaking looks at bookmarked fic in between family responsibilities, and so I didn't look carefully at your headers. And yet, only four paragraphs into this, I though, "That's odd, this is a very cool Clark, but it doesn't read like movieverse Clark at all." Then I went back and figured out it was L&C! I'm very impressed at how different the tone is, especially considering I never watched L&C! The whole feel of this story was strikingly different and really nicely done, loved it very much.

Also: *squees over cartoon and saves it to post later*
htbthomas
Aug. 28th, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
Oo, yay! I'm so glad I captured the different tone! Really, the Clark of L&C: TNAOS is a really different person. He's still Clark, and Superman, but he's more... I don't know... relatable?

I loved the fact that the show was more about the relationship and the reporting team than the villains and B-plots. Of course, that very thing drove many comics fans away, but it was one more hook into my love of Superman. And the first fanfic I ever read (back in 1996) was for L&C, so it's special to me for that reason. ♥
penumbra
Apr. 25th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
That was awesome ... I don't totally remember this episode (it's been a while since I watched L&C), but this is a really nice introspective fic and very IC for that version of Clark. ♥
htbthomas
Apr. 26th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
Thanks! I really like the differences between the Clarks in all my Superman canon. Makes him fun to play with!
laramoon
May. 23rd, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
So.... is there a sequel to this one? If not.. when's it gonna be here? *g*

I think you did a wonderful job with Clark here - I would never have believed this was your first try at L&C if you hadn't mentioned it.

*thumbs up*
htbthomas
May. 23rd, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
There isn't a sequel to this one... sorry. I only have one L&C in a WIP state right now. And I have had to put it aside for a bit (have to ponder the ending a while).

I'm always nervous the first time I attempt a new fandom that I won't get the character voices right. But it's awesome that you approve! *hugs*
laramoon
May. 23rd, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
Well, you really have nothing to worry about, 'cause you totally have the voices right -- in fact, the other fic I was reading (the WIP one) I could totally hear the voices in my head as if it had been the actors delivering the dialog. Hasn't happened in a long while for a fic I'm reading. I love when it does. :D
legendsinlove
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've seen this episode in forever!

Great one shot. :)
htbthomas
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:37 pm (UTC)
It was mrsmosley who got me to rewatch! She enjoys S1 the most, and I asked if there were any episodes she was partial to. :)

Thanks for reviewing! *hugs*
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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