She’d been on plenty of flights, many of them with hotshot military pilots who didn’t care about the niceties of civilian travel, and she’d never in her life felt such a sickening lurch. It reminded her of a time when she’d been walking to work, and some idiot’s little yapping dog had tried to lunge at her. The mutt had hit the end of the leash and been jerked back, the elasticity of the leather making it look comical.
Well, it didn’t feel comical when she was the one hitting a tether and feeling the whole craft yanked backwards. The pilot and control tower started shouting to each other, and having walked into this high-strung, Lois began to freak out. She was no longer on the ground, the helicopter wasn’t responding at all to the pilot’s efforts, they were bobbing and swaying a few feet off the paved roof, and the whole situation was spiraling totally out of control. Her single worst fear, come to life at incredibly high stakes.
The ‘copter began to spin wildly, smashing into the control tower and careening back toward the edge of the roof. The entire world had narrowed to the sickening flash of red, blue, and white lights as they turned in ever faster, even wider circles. Lois couldn’t hold back a wail, forced to admit that she was unable to get herself out of this situation, her mind vapor-locked in sheer panic. There was nothing she could do, nothing at all, no way out, not a shred of control…
Then the helicopter struck the roof railing and caught, losing its lift and momentum as the two of them were bounced around in their seats. A moment later it was hung up on the very edge by one skid, the rotors spinning to a stop, the smell of burning in the air. The pilot collapsed, and Lois shook him, trying to wake him up. They had to get out of here now, dammit!
One final lurch sideways threw Lois against the door, which popped open. She found herself hanging by her seat belt, staring out the open door at the sidewalk sixty-five stories below. It felt like her heart stopped and her lungs froze at that moment, her eyes huge as she stared down at the pavement yawning below her. This was surreal. Her day had been filled with a lot of little worries: how to keep Galloway from realizing he’d been scooped, what to ask the President, how to give Clark a hint without crushing his innocent Midwestern soul, what to wear to the press conference. Yet now she had only one thing on her mind: surviving to plant her ankle-strap heels on solid ground once more.
With no easy options, Lois found herself doing the sensible thing, and screamed for help.
She heard no reply. No one came running, and the helicopter was still rocking precariously. Bracing herself, she took a deep breath. No rescue from that quarter. Only one thing to do, then. Unbuckling her seat belt went against every instinct, but she’d rather not be strapped into this bird when it went over the side for good. Which, eventually, it would. Resolutely not looking down, Lois started to climb over the unconscious pilot. She’d help him later if she could, but the first rule in any emergency was to secure your own safety before helping others.
Lois was almost to the far door when she lost her grip and started to slip into gravity’s embrace. She caught herself immediately, but happened to glance down again and felt her stomach lurch. There were people gathering on the street below now, and their screams of horror and shock were drifting up to her. And here she was, sixty-five stories from the ground, clinging to an accident waiting to happen She couldn’t help a howl of sheer terror.
But this was no time to be a damsel in distress. It took all of her stubborn will, but she managed to refocus for a moment. You get it together or it’s curtains, kiddo. You can let your brain leak out with the stress later. Now’s not the time for it. The helicopter still wasn’t stable; she had to get out. She clawed and scrambled her way back up to the far door, and braced her legs so her hands were free to push it open. The door was heavier than she’d expected, and the force she was using to push against it rocked the entire craft.
One more push would do it… Lois shoved hard as hard as she could, still yelling for help, and to her horror, she felt the helicopter lurch again. Without warning, she was jarred loose, the leather of her skirt sliding slickly over the leather of the seats. Wild with sheer terror, her hands scrabbled for a hold as she drew closer to the edge, and just managed to catch her own seat belt in a death grip.
The reporter came to an abrupt stop, heart in her throat to find herself hanging onto the slick leather belt so tightly her knuckles were white. Her black ankle-strap heels dangled sixty-five stories above the ground, and a small part of her mind was blackly amused. A seat belt? A freaking seat belt. Are you kidding me?
Stuck. An unwieldy chopper on the verge of falling above her, now impossible to reach, and the ground looming below her with gravity closing further and further in by the instant. These thoughts in mind, Lois didn’t dare let go with one hand to try for a higher grip on the belt; she was too far away from the helicopter and the building now to reach either one. And her palms were sweating with fear, which made the leather belt even more slippery. She was trapped, with only one place to go. No way out of it this time. All Lois could do was let loose a panicked scream.
On the street below, Clark had finally managed to make his way out of the building, preoccupied with his dilemma. How could he possibly get Lois to notice him? It wasn’t an issue that would change the fate of the world, but it meant a lot to…
Something caught the corner of his eye then, and he turned around, surprised to see Lois’ hat lying on the sidewalk. He frowned a bit at that. That didn’t seem like Lois at all. With the way she was about her things, there was no way she would have left it if it had blown off right outside the doors. That didn’t make any sense. Even less so when he remembered she’d taken a helicopter, so the question of how the hat got here remained.
Only then did he notice the terrified crowd milling about and the emergency personnel around him. His frown growing deeper, he glanced at the hat again. And from up above came a familiar voice raised in a shriek of stark horror. Clark looked up with sudden dread, his heart sinking. His enhanced vision made the situation at hand hellishly clear. Far above him, Lois dangled beneath the smoking, wrecked helicopter. By what looked like a safety belt.
He’d been wearing the uniform his father had given him underneath his suit for a couple of months now, trying to decide when and how to go public with his rescues. The few he had done so far had been done at blinding speed, witnesses seeing nothing but the final result and none of them being done in Metropolis city limits. Jor-El was wrong; there was no way he could hide this indefinitely. He’d been biding his time, trying to decide what way to go about revealing his mission. That decision had been taken from him the moment he’d looked up; he had to save Lois. Now. No one else could. He could not just be a bystander. His mind locked on that one plan, all that was important at the moment was looking for a place to quickly change. The phone booth he was standing near was no good, but a revolving door of the hotel up the street would do, and it blurred with his speed.
As he stepped out, now clad for the first time in red and blue, someone called out on seeing him, but Clark wasn’t paying attention. Now sure of what he was going to do, he reoriented on Lois and soared upward, focused only on her.
This is it. Over. Dammit.
She had just begun making her peace with it, surrendering to a fate she could no longer change when she felt the sensation of a strong arm around her. The rush of air stopped abruptly as she jerked to a halt in midair, letting out a startled yelp. What? How?! The eyes she had closed tightly against the final images she knew she’d see shot open in disbelief; Lois found herself staring into an obviously amused blue-eyed gaze. What was easily the handsomest man she’d ever seen was telling her, “Easy miss, I’ve got you.”
Seriously? What the fuck? The last two seconds of my life and I’ve completely lost it. She had always heard that your entire life would be passing before your eyes before you bought it. But that hadn’t happened, and the sensation of falling had completely stopped. Which just made her all the more sure her brain had broken. This couldn’t be happening. “You… You’ve got me? Who’s got you?” she exclaimed in incredulity, glancing down at the ground growing further away by the instant. Before she could even get her mind around this, she realized that they were headed back up toward the roof.
She’d been saved by a flying man in blue tights and a red cape. This had to be some kind of last-second fantasy, her brain hallucinating an unattainable rescue. Whatever, the vision of impossible hope was worth clinging to, better than seeing the sidewalk that was about to turn her into pavement pizza, so Lois decided to go with it. She threw her arms around his neck and hung on.
Without warning, she heard a familiar shrieking metallic sound that threatened to tear away this dream. Oh God, come on! Don’t ruin it. This almost makes up for the fact that I’ll be a smear on the pavement in a sec. Come on! Lois looked away from the miraculous stranger with dread in her gaze, just in time to see the helicopter break loose and fall toward them … and the dozens of rubber-neckers below. Without even a pause of consideration, they hurdled toward it. Seeing death smashing down toward her and obliterating this rescue fantasy once and for all, Lois gasped, but the flying man just moved smoothly out of the helicopter’s path, and then caught it by the skid as it came level with them. The reporter could only stare at first the ‘copter, then him in stunned wonder. Damn, my imagination is fantastic, she thought, staring wide-eyed at her savior.
This was totally unreal, impossible, FUBAR, and for the first time in her life Lois found herself completely speechless and utterly bewildered.
His confidence was absolute, and Lois’ rapt gaze only increased it. He’d never seen genuine awe in her expression, and to have it directed at him was simply perfect. Astounding, even. Catching Lois and then the helicopter presented no problems, with his flight and strength. He soared gently up over the broken railing, and managed to set them all down lightly.
He called to the control room operators, letting them know the pilot needed help. Lois was still staring at him, overwhelmed and not at all fearful. Someone else might have been frightened of something as strange as he appeared to be, but Lois’ courage was one of the things he had begun to love about her.
Kal-El looked down into Lois’ wide hazel eyes, and gave her a little speech about the safety of flying, just to see what she’d say. She merely nodded without a change of expression, the words flowing over her without breaking the spell. He turned to go, still grinning elatedly, and that was when Lois gathered her scattered wits and found her voice again.
“Wait!’ she called out, and he turned back around, wondering if he had gotten ahead of himself on whether she recognized him or not. Knowing now just how dogged she could be when she had her mind set on finding out a secret, he felt his stomach flutter. Her next words mollified that fear, as she asked, “Who are you?”
Even then, Lois had an air of barely being able to string a sentence together, and his eyes sparkled with delight. Someone had finally flummoxed the unstoppable Lois Lane, and it was him. “A friend,” he answered truthfully, trying not to grin enough to give himself away, and took off while she was still staring perplexedly. Her head fell back to watch him go, their gazes still locked. Just before making himself look away, he gave her a little wave and called, “Bye.”
Below him, he could feel her eyes on him while Lois waved back dazedly until the enormity of this entire situation weighed down on her. All of it crashed down at once; now on solid ground, Lois’ eyes promptly rolled back and she fainted right there on the helipad.
He didn’t see her collapse; he was taking possession of the skies over Metropolis for the first time since he had arrived a month ago, seeing a thousand possibilities of making his mission public. He’d finally gotten the girl of his dreams to notice him, and on the soaring high of that victory, he set out to make his intentions toward the city plain. If he was out of hiding, he might as well show them what he could do. And not far away a jewel thief was scaling a building…
Turning mid-flight to make his way toward the sound of suction on glass, he could almost hear the click of his life snapping into place. This was where he belonged, who he was supposed to be. And he couldn’t wait to get started.