She considered going undercover as a hat check girl, but that wouldn't have gotten her into the middle of the action. Something was going down tonight at Frank's Place and if her informant was right, it was a front page scoop.
So Lois dressed as a cleaner, her long black hair tucked down the back of the jumpsuit, as the club closed the morning before, then climbed under a table and waited, obscured by the tablecloth.
Poker. Illegal gambling. Nothing new for the dark side of Metropolis. But Big Tony Malloy playing one-eyed jacks with Senator Reesor? That was news. Discussing mob influence on Capitol Hill? Even better.
Proof. Now there was the problem. She had no way to record the conversation, and she couldn't very well jump out with a camera and scream 'Surprise!' as she ran for it. So she waited and listened for names and dates, figuring she could tie all the ends together when she left the next morning. There was enough meat here for the story.
She hadn't counted on the fight. Sounded like someone accused of palming cards at the next table. Yelling. The smack of fists. The distinct blast of a forty-five.
By the time they flipped her table over, the senator was gone.
“Hey. What the? Who are you?”
“That's Lois Lane, the broad that writes for the Planet!”
And from behind her. “Let her go.”
That voice. It was him. The ping of bullets bouncing off his chest. The whizz of rushing air as he swiftly tied up the men in the club.
“Are you alright, Miss Lane? Can I take you home?”
She smiled at her tall, dark saviour. “That's okay, Superman. I have a story to write.”
Lois sat in front of her typewriter, her head propped on her hand, trying to think of just the right word without dozing off.
“Lois?” She started as his hand touched her shoulder.
“I'm working, Clark. No time to chat.”
“Sorry, Lois,” he smiled. “Looked like sleeping to me.”
She adjusted her pillbox hat and squared her shoulders, hands poised on the keys. “I was just resting my eyes.”
“What are you working on?” he asked. “I heard you got caught in a little altercation last night.”
“I was doing research. I'm fine.” She stifled a yawn. “Besides, Superman was there. Luckily I heard enough before the fight broke out to give me the lead I needed.”
“You should be careful, Lois.” Clark sat on the edge of her desk. “Superman might not always be there when you need him.”
“Well, you'd know about being careful.” She started typing. “This story has everything, Clark. From political corruption to robot warfare. I even heard them mention Lex Luthor.”
“What about Luthor?”
“Oh, Clark. That would be telling. You'll just have to read about it in the Planet, like everyone else.”
“Like I said, Lois. Be careful.”
“When am I not?” She glanced up at him. “And wipe that smile off your face. Now leave me alone. I have some phone calls to make.”
“Before you do,” Clark said, “I wanted to ask if you wanted to have lunch today. A girl's got to eat.”
“I'll think about it. Depends on how much progress I get with these calls.” She gave him a push. “Now scoot.”
As he left he dropped the latest edition of the Planet on her desk. There stood Superman on the front page, hands on hips, handsome as always, with an article about him and the previous evening's fight, byline Clark Kent. “Now how did he do that? He wasn't even there!”
She skimmed the article and found no mention of the senator, to her relief. Clark had scooped her on enough stories, but this was a big one. She picked up a pencil and circled Superman's eyes. “Naw.” She looked closer. “Still...”
Lois walked down the street, long, dark hair blowing in the breeze, a grin on her face. Maybe she'd used Sam Lane's name to confirm the story, but confirm it she had. She had no guilt in taking a break for lunch, especially after seeing Perry's eyes light up after she emailed him the copy.
She was a block from the restaurant when she heard someone making a hissing sound from the narrow alley between two buildings. “Psst. Lane. Lois Lane.”
She stopped and looked. A hairy male hand reached out and tried to pull her inside. She pulled back.
“Don't fight me, Lane. You saw a little too much last night, and you're going to pay.”
She felt the cold steel muzzle press against her midriff, and without even thinking, pulled the thug out onto the street, flipping him to the ground with one spiked heel pressed against his throat. The gun had gone flying onto the sidewalk. She pulled her cell from her jacket pocket and punched 9-11.
Within minutes the miscreant had been taken away. After assurances that she was fine, and a promise to come down to the station that afternoon, she hurried to the cafe. Clark was waiting on the patio.
“You look a little shaken up. What happened?” he asked.
“Nothing I couldn't handle.” She took his hand. “You forgot your ring again.”
“Oops.” He slipped it onto his finger. “I still figure it's better for Clark to be seen without his than Superman to be seen with it.”
“It's just a ring.” She leaned in for a kiss. “As long as my man comes home to me, I don't care whether he walks through the front door or flies through the window.”
“So, are you going to tell me why you're late?”
Lois smiled, and picked up a menu. “Sweetheart,” she winked, “ you can read it in the Planet like everybody else.”