Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Lois Lane, Perry White, Lucy Lane, Angela Martinelli, Clark/Bruce
Rating (this chapter): G
General Summary: Lois is tracking a hot story while keeping an eye on Clark as Bruce circles around her naïve partner.
Chapter Summary: Lois goes undercover.
Date Of Completion: September 26, 2015
Date Of Posting: July 21, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2194
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: One of my favorite tropes: Lois fiercely protecting Clark! :)
SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES
I was at the Planet bright and early the next day, figuring to catch Mr. Up-With-The-Sun, but Clark wasn’t there. I marched into Perry’s office. Did the man sleep there? No one could beat him into the building.
“Where’s my partner, Perry?”
“Good morning to you, too, Lois.” Perry ate an English muffin with strawberry jam. He often had a tray sent up from the cafeteria. Rank had its privileges.
“C’mon, Perry.” I kept my hands on my hips. I wasn’t backing down.
“Probably at the Prince’s palatial penthouse. I persuaded our erstwhile owner to allow an interview for the Sunday supplement.”
“You heard me.” Perry drank his coffee. He always took it black and strong as steel. Come to think of it, so did Clark.
“Why do we need another puff piece about Mr. Spoiled Brat?”
“Careful, Lois, that ‘spoiled brat’ signs your paychecks.”
“I know that!” I refused to budge.
Perry put jam on his second muffin. “See that you remember it. Now get out of here and get over to the courthouse.” I huffed and started to leave. “Hey.” I turned back. “Good story yesterday on the trial.” He picked up the phone.
An inner devil prompted me. “Thanks, Chief.” Perry’s shout of, “Don’t call me Chief!” followed me out to the newsroom as I grinned a Cheshire Cat grin.
I grabbed up my notes and headed for the courthouse.
Lucy was with me today. I’d managed to finagle her a press pass and she played the part to perfection. She’d been hanging out with reporters too long.
We watched the trial with interest. Defendant Tony Mangione sat smugly next to his company of high-priced lawyers. The prosecutor was busy conferring with his assistants.
Lucy nudged me. “How come Clark isn’t part of this assignment?”
“Perry’s got him on something else.”
“Trailing the Prince around?”
I frowned. Lucy was hanging around too much with reporters. She was too damned nosy, not to mention successful at ferreting out the story.
The proceedings were interesting. I kept up with my notes and Lucy made some, too. When we compared them at lunch, I was impressed by what she had picked up.
“Looks like the prosecution’s got a good case,” said Lucy. “Isn’t the D.A. going to present his star witness tomorrow?”
“That’s the rumor.”
“Should be good theater.”
It also meant that I had to make my move tonight.
I looked at myself in my full-length mirror. I had to admit, Luciano’s had style. Waiters dressed in black jackets and pants with crisp white shirts, and the waitresses wore black dresses trimmed in white lace with little white caps. I looked mighty fine in my uniform.
Happily someone had the sense to specify flats instead of high heels. I wore a brown wig and glasses, hoping that no one would recognize me. I grabbed my coat and purse and headed out.
I’ve been in my share of restaurant kitchens. Being an investigative reporter causes you to don many hats. Waitress was often one of them. I usually learned a lot while posing as one. People tended to ignore waitstaff unless they’re looking for a bottle of ketchup or the check.
The manager directed me where to put my coat and purse in a room full of lockers. When I entered the kitchen, I was hit with a cacophony of sound: people shouting, dish covers clanging, the stoves sizzling and the silverware clattering. There’s nothing quite like the chaos of a restaurant kitchen.
I received my stations and order pad. I weaved my way to the small pantry where the waitstaff congregated away from the noisy kitchen. The hostess, an older woman with silver hair and a pleasant face, pointed out my tables.
“If you get overwhelmed your first night, just tell me and I’ll help out.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Martinelli.”
I went to my first table after studying the evening’s specials. The couple at the table were easy customers, knowing what they wanted and not having any special requests.
I soon got into the rhythm of waitressing. I had no problems and was quick and efficient, to the approval of the manager.
I hoped to catch some tidbits about the trial. Mobsters ate at Italian restaurants and talked. They liked their veal piccata and discussions about things.
Finally, two hours into my shift there was a table of possibilities. I was very demure as I took the orders of three men who I recognized as Mangione men. As I went to the kitchen I caught the word ‘tomorrow’.
The contrast between the dining room and the kitchen was jarring. Out there all was quiet with an underlining of soft piano music. Papa Luciano employed a pianist instead of piped-in music.
In here was that total chaos. It reminded me of the newsroom. I loved it!
“Good job so far, Kane,” said the manager.
I took care of another table and returned to the Mob table. I brought them warm garlic bread and crisp salads. After depositing the first course I puttered around at the next booth. Plants separated each booth and gave them a measure of privacy, not to mention me.
“We can’t let that jamoke testify.”
“Relax, the fix is in.”
“I’d rather the location of the rat was known and we…” said the first thug, a stocky man with a scar across his cheek.
“Shaddup,” said a third voice. This guy was thin and had a weasel-like face, hard eyes missing nothing. The second guy was sort of in-between, not too stocky or thin, kind of just there, y’know?
I smiled all the way back to the kitchen.
The Mob table wasn’t spilling any more beans, but I was hopeful. I was still figuring out how to get more information when I was at my next station before I knew it.
“Good evening, gentlemen. What can I get you?”
I nearly blurted out my outrage when I saw the diners: Clark and Wayne!
“What’ll you have, sir?” I asked Clark. Let Wayne wait his turn!
“Hmm, well, let me see. The chicken cacciatore sounds good.”
I concentrated on taking their orders, keeping my eyes on my pad. Hopefully they’d be too busy making goo-goo eyes at each other to notice me.
I headed back to the kitchen and put in their orders.
“Desserts ready Table 12!” called the pastry chef.
That was my Mob table. I took the tray of spumoni out.
“And I say fix or no fix, we oughtta have a back-up plan.” The stocky mobster was definitely disgruntled.
“What plan? It’ll all play out tomorrow in court,” shrugged the second thug.
“We should have a guy across the street.”
They stopped talking as I approached. Oh, well. I had some stuff, more than if I hadn’t played this part. Every little bit helped, because I really didn’t expect them to openly talk about silencing witnesses! Though sometimes you’d be surprised in this business.
Once I was through with Table 12, I went to Table 13. Clark was listening intently to something that Wayne was saying. Oh, well, I suppose he was doing his job. Writing a puff piece still requires some effort.
“I forgot to mention we are offering free sesame seed sticks tonight if you’d like them.”
“Sure, bring them on.” Wayne waved his hand dismissively.
I did a slow burn on my way back to the kitchen. I loathe rich types who treat the rest of us like dirt. I’m surprised that Clark is attracted to a jerk like that.
I got the sesame seed sticks. Their salads were also ready, so out I went again.
“Now, polo is an intriguing sport,” Wayne was saying. “Good work-out for the horses. Are you a rider, Mr. Kent?”
“Yes, I rode on the farm.”
“Plow horses, no doubt.”
I set down the breadsticks and salads. Was Clark going to take that lying down?
“Now, Mr. Wayne, the horses I rode were good and sturdy.”
I went over to the bar and got their drinks, delivering them as Clark was saying, “There’s a lot to be said for farm work, Mr. Wayne. Greatest exercise in the world!”
You tell ‘em, Clark!
The mobsters were almost finished with their desserts. My potential source of information would be walking out the door.
“We need to make a move tonight,” the first gangster insisted.
“All right, we’ll case the hotel and see what we can do,” the third gangster decided.
I laid the leather folder with the check enclosed. I began clearing away the dishes. When I returned, the hard-eyed mobster handed me the folder.
“Keep the change, honey.”
My skin crawled at his lecherous smile. “Thank you, sir.”
I wanted to follow them but my shift had quite a bit of time to go. I brought minestrone soup to Table 13 and got an idea. I set Clark’s soup down and tipped the bowl from the tray, making a glorious splash all over Bruce Wayne’s expensive white shirt.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, sir!” I grabbed his napkin to help him clean up.
Mrs. Martinelli hurried over. “Oh, we’re so sorry, Mr. Wayne!”
“Fire this incompetent person,” Wayne said coldly. “I’m going to the men’s room.”
Mrs. Martinelli shook her head. “You’d better go.”
I hurried through the kitchen to the locker room and grabbed my coat and purse. Good thing Bruce Wayne was a high-handed cretin. I was out the door into the alley and saw my quarry standing at the far end. All I needed was to trail them and…
“Raise your hands, bitch.”
A gun poked into my back. Furious, I raised my hands. Another poke in the back set me walking.
A whuff of air and a thump behind me caused me to turn around. One of the thugs from Table 12 was crumpled on the ground. An annoyed Bruce Wayne was shaking his hand, his shirt soup-spattered.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Saving your life, Ms. Lane.”
“Ms…La…? You knew it was me?”
“Not at first. You’re good with disguises.”
“I could have gotten myself out of this, you know.”
“Thanks.” My tone was grudging, but give him his due.
“You’re welcome,” he said dryly.
I looked at the end of the alley. “Damnit, they’re gone!”
I tossed the paper down on the kitchen table. Lucy looked up from her plate of scrambled eggs.
“Did you get another front page byline?”
Lucy spread out the paper with the thick black headline, ATTEMPTED HIT ON MANGIONE WITNESS THWARTED BY SUPERMAN. The byline read By Clark Kent.
“Wow, Clarkie sure is peppermint ice cream.”
“Looks like he got a scoop.”
I rolled my eyes while Lucy laughed.
The Mangione trial was a win for the prosecution. The attempted murder of the prosecution’s star witness convinced the jury of Mangione's guilt. I went back to the Daily Planet while Lucy headed for the airport to work the London flight.
I reached my desk in the newsroom. A cup of coffee and a pumpkin doughnut was on Clark’s desk and his computer ready for typing, but no Clark.
I locked my purse in the bottom drawer of my desk and stared morosely at the blinking cursor on my computer screen after booting up. I had plenty to write but suddenly no enthusiasm to do it.
Clark came back to his desk. “Why so gloomy, Gus?”
I rolled my eyes. Sprawled in my chair, strands of hair hung in my eyes while I felt boneless.
“You scooped me.”
“Tricks-of-the-trade, partner, tricks-of-the-trade.” He straightened his loose tie.
I stuck my tongue out but he only laughed. I stayed in sulk mode. “I worked like a dog on that Mob story, Smallville.” I kicked my desk, hiding my wince. “And you get the big headline!”
“That’s the newspaper game.”
Clark’s breezy tone made me want to strangle him. With a huge, put-upon sigh I heaved myself into a sitting position. I started to type.
“For a guy writing a puff piece, you sure got lucky last night,” I grumbled.
“You’re right, he did get lucky.”
The voice of Bruce Wayne was silky-smooth behind my chair. I yelped as cold water was poured over the top of my head, soaking my shirt. Wayne came into view and stood beside Clark with a smirk on his rich boy face.
“What…!” I sputtered.
“Hey, you’re lucky it wasn’t minestrone soup.”
I glared at him but knew he had the right to get back at me. I can respect someone out for revenge.
Clark smiled at Wayne, who actually smiled back at him. Yeesh!
“How about lunch today, Clark?” Wayne asked.
So this was my life now: Smallville dating the Prince. Oh, well, maybe I could get a pipeline to Wayne without going through a secretary now.
As I clicked away on the keyboard, Clark laughed at a joke uttered by his new boyfriend. If Bruce Wayne hurt Clark, he’d be sleeping with the fishes.
I looked up and met Wayne’s eyes. He knew.
Smart for a rich kid.