Onward and upward!
Perry walked in early, secretly pleased at the prospect of lambasting
But when he actually walked into the office, he saw a pitiful sight. Lois was slumped over her desk, asleep in the clothes she’d worn yesterday, just one hand and a mass of wavy black hair visible. It’s worse than I thought, Perry mused, scowling. Usually it’s the man that gets thrown out of the house during a fight. Well, Lois never could do anything expected. At least he had an hour before anyone else came in. That ought to be enough time to put things right…
Lois woke up very slowly, feeling as if her head was stuffed with cotton wool. Her neck and back and legs ached, too, and the arm she had laid her head on was numb. Oh, God. Now I remember why I don’t do this anymore. Eww, I fell asleep without brushing my teeth. Yuck. I’m getting old.
She lifted her head, hair tumbling into her eyes, and focused blearily on the insulated coffee cup in front of her. Fragrant steam rose from it, smelling nothing like the over-boiled mud she usually got at work. Eyes practically crossing, she pulled it closer and took a sip.
“Well, at least we know she’s alive,” Perry’s gruff voice said behind her as she put the cup back down. She whirled as he continued, “Your devotion’s admirable, Lane, but you really didn’t have to sleep here to be on time for the conference.”
“And don’t try to weasel out of it, either. Your name plate says Assistant Editor, you have to go to the meetings. Most of them, anyway. I ought to make you go like that, only I’m too nice.”
Perry looked more amused than anything else, so Lois just drank her coffee and looked at him with an eyebrow raised.
He grinned. “Olsen was kind enough to come in early and pick up your dry cleaning, so that suit Kala spewed on is here and ready for you to wear. He also got you some coffee from that froufy little shop on the corner. Now I’ve got him running down to the convenience store for a toothbrush and toothpaste. Loueen’s on her way in, and I asked her to pick up whatever else you’d need. I don’t meddle in feminine mysteries, and neither should Olsen. Besides, Loueen’s more likely to accurately guess your bra size. She said you’d have makeup?”
“Yeah, I have a makeup bag in my desk,” Lois muttered. “Perry, what about the twins? Who’s taking them to school?”
“Richard,” the editor replied. “I called him and told him you’d slept here and he needed to take the monsters in.”
Lois winced. “Lovely. So how much has your nephew told you?”
“Not a damn thing, and I didn’t ask,” he retorted. “But I think he was glad to know you were here and nowhere else.”
Ouch. “Point made, White, now leave it.” Lois took another swig of the coffee, glad that Starbucks knew her usual, and raked her fingers through her dark hair. What I really want right now is a nice long bath – I missed my morning shower. Speaking of which… “Perry, if it’s going to be a few minutes, I’m going to go down to the gym and have a shower. I feel grungy.”
“Knew that free membership for the executive staff would come in handy,” he muttered. “Go on, I’ll send Loueen down there when she gets here.”
Lois got up, wincing when she stretched, and kissed Perry on the cheek as she went by. “Thanks, Dad,” she said, and though her tone was light, her eyes were sincere.
“Yeah, like I’d admit to a daughter like you,” Perry groused, but he was smiling. “Don’t pull this nonsense again or you’re grounded.”
Lois would have been amused at the number of ‘unofficial’ rescues he did, and the thought of her made him smile bittersweetly. That dream had been so very real, and even now he wished he could exchange this life for the one he’d led in it. Too late,
At least they had promised to be civil to each other … and he still had to get the info from Karla Smith-Bennett over to Lois. Last
Mulling over the Luthor problem,
Lois let the hot water blast straight into her face, hoping it would wake her up enough for this damn conference. She’d have to remember to refill the shampoo and conditioner bottles she carried in her makeup case…
“Hello, Lois? It’s me, I’m here to rescue your silly butt. Did you really spend the night here?”
The reporter grinned. Marriage hadn’t tamed Loueen, apparently. “In here. Yeah, I had a few things I wanted to look up and I fell asleep at my desk.”
“Type-A overachiever,” Loueen said affectionately, tucking a strand of thick chestnut hair behind her ear. She was right outside the shower stall now, and added, “I hope I guessed your size right … I brought panties, bra, stockings, slip, and camisole. Everything matches – I figured it was the pinstripe.”
“Mm-hmm. Thank you so much, Loueen. You didn’t have to.”
“Yes I did. That’s why you shouldn’t marry your boss; you get used to actually doing what he wants.”
“No such worries here,” Lois replied, turning off the spray and grabbing the towel of the shower door. “You’re the one who wanted to get hitched, not me.”
“It does have its benefits,” Loueen said lazily. “Such as not having to fight over the ‘official office hot chick’ title anymore. A much better wardrobe. More money in the house. And it has drawbacks, too, I’ll admit. He didn’t tell me you didn’t know about the pets until we were at your house and he wanted to sneak them inside.”
“You know,” Lois muttered as she finished drying off, “one day, you’re going to be a widow because of that little trick, right? The lizard is evil.”
“Tell me about it. It got loose in our house and I had to chase it off the curtains with a broom.” Lois heard Loueen chuckle, and then the younger woman said, “Everything’s right outside the door here. I’m going to go see if Jimmy’s back with your toothbrush. Somehow I don’t think he’d dare come in the women’s locker room even if they let him.”
The black-haired reporter grinned to herself, pulling the shopping bag into the shower stall. No, he probably wouldn’t have, especially since he knew she was here. Several years ago, Lois had been in the habit of quickly changing clothes in the janitorial closet, which was closer than the restrooms. Jimmy had once walked in on her in mid-change, wearing just a bra and panties, and the young photographer had been so traumatized that he couldn’t meet her eyes for days. That, and the life-sized picture of Perry now plastered on the closet wall, had cemented Lois’ decision to walk the extra distance to the restrooms to change from then on… “No, Loueen, he wouldn’t. Jimmy’s too much of a gentleman.”
“Like someone else we know,” Perry’s wife and former secretary replied. “The two that love you the most are the two least likely to subscribe if I set up a pay-per-view webcam over that shower door.”
“Loueen! You’re terrible!” Lois was glad the other woman couldn’t see her blushing at the mention of
“It’s true. Heck, the last time I saw you and
“You mean the hand I broke three fingers of?” Lois said sweetly, glad of someone else to discuss. “By the way, when did you start drugging your husband with illegal substances? He rehired Grizzly Lombard!”
“Don’t blame that on me, he’s always been like that. Something you know perfectly well,” Loueen shot back, laughing. “Probably did it just for the fun of watching a big burly ex-quarterback hide from someone as petite as you. All right, I’m gonna go get that toothbrush before you blame me for anything else.”
“C’mon, Loueen, everyone knows that anything that goes wrong is blamed on the last person who quit. Namely, you.”
“Hey, Norm quit after me!” Loueen called from the doorway.
“He didn’t quit, he died! There’s a difference!”
“Fancy you knowing that!”
Caught off guard, he could only stammer in reply. “Didn’t … didn’t Lois tell you? I was sick…”
“Sick of working, more like! First Lois tells me she’s leaving early, then Richard skips out, then you just sort of drift out without a word. Got any explanation that won’t make me laugh?”
“I had a, um, stomach virus,” Clark said, feeling much the same way he had when he and Richard were in
“Well, I was probably too busy tearing her a new one for her spat with Superman on national TV to hear her if she did tell me,” Perry replied with a dismissive wave of his hand, not noticing the way Jimmy hustled to his desk out of Perry’s line of sight. “Besides, Lois isn’t your boss. You should’ve called me or Richard. Of course, you couldn’t have reached Richard because he took the afternoon off, too! I’m not going to put up with my best reporters playing hooky just because they don’t feel like working. Is that understood?”
“No, don’t start that. Lois tried the same thing last night and fell asleep here. She hasn’t done that since Superman left. Dedication’s fine, but when you people start moving in, I start to worry.”
“Lois stayed here last night?”
“Richard took them to school,” Perry said, then did a double-take. “Wait a minute. You told Lois you were sick? Thought you two weren’t speaking. Didn’t she drive you out of City?” He folded his arms and gave
“Mr. White, I left City for my own reasons,”
“Well, that explains why I never got it,” Perry muttered. “
“Mr. White, I don’t think you’re being fair to Lois…”
“Fine, fine. She didn’t get any less absentminded, either.” Perry turned away, making Jimmy quickly start rustling through the papers on his desk in an attempt to look busy, and then the rest of the employees started to arrive. Grateful for the reprieve,
Other reporters trickled in, and
Lois swept into the office with Abigail Montgomery, Caroline Biste, and several other reporters.
Now is as good a time as ever to face her. I just hope Perry hasn’t riled her up too much…