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Fic: "How We Roll"

title: how we roll
author: perletwo
rating: PG
fandom: DC Comics
words: 4,488 (now you know why I said this was kicking my ass!)
prompt: Lois Lane, Lois loses the use of her legs permanently, but doesn't stop working as a reporter.
A/N: Theoretically it's possible to translate the Kryptonian text images I put in here, but don't bother - I grabbed 'em at random. :D



Metropolis' mayor resisted the temptation to reach for a handkerchief and mop his brow. It appeared he was going to get through this press briefing basically unquestioned....

"Mr. Mayor!"

The mayor blanched - at the voice, and at its closeness. He turned his head to the left, to see the woman who hounded him even in his dreams, Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, coming ever closer toward him on the dais.

He pasted on a smile. "Broken out of the press pack, have we, Ms. Lane?"

"Well, the ADA does require all public buildings to offer full access to the handicapped, doesn't it, Mr. Mayor?" Lane rolled her motorized wheelchair back and forth about a foot to emphasize the point, and smiled the thin-lipped smile the mayor just knew hid a mouthful of shark's teeth. "C'mon now. You didn't really think you could put Metropolis' government in bed with LuthorCorp and I wouldn't have questions, did you?"

"I believe I've explained the proposal to your colleagues' satisfaction, Ms. Lane." He forced the wattage of his smile up a notch.

"Oh, I'm sure that's just because they don't have the special relationship you and I do. My expert friends tell me your proposal would give LuthorCorp full administrative access to the city's entire power grid, no compartmentalization. Tell me, do you think giving that level of power to a corporate entity is wise?" Her lips parted, and the smile became a touch feral. "Or did the number of zeroes on the check Luthor cut you last week - you personally, Mr. Mayor - make your brain shut down altogether?"

"That is a very serious allegation, Lane, made in a very public venue." His smile turned to a sneer. "I do hope you've got documentation. I'd hate to see the Planet made liable in a defamation suit."

"Oh, don't worry about me, Mr. Mayor. My ass never gets caught hanging out in the breeze. Advantage of always sitting down." She held the tape recorder a little closer. "Sure you don't want to go on record here, Bob?"

"Certainly, Lois. I have studied this proposal at great length, and I believe LuthorCorp can offer the best value for the tax dollar and the best service to this great city's citizens."

"To say nothing of your reelection campaign," Lois shot back.

"Mr. Luthor has the same right to support the political candidates of his choice that you do, Ms. Lane, and he follows the same federal laws." He turned back to the microphone. "If there are no more questions, I'm calling this conference to a close."

He turned and walked out to a barrage of shouting voices. Lois, silent and pensive, rolled down from the dais.

***********************


"Ahhh, Ms. Lane? Could you, ahhh, slow down?" Jimmy Olsen clutched the door handle and prayed to whatever gods he could think of.

A manic smile lit Lois' face as she weaved in and out of traffic. Her van was high off the ground, supercharged, and best of all, outfitted with handicap controllers so she could drive without pedals.

"Chicken. Think of it like a video game," she said. "Hey, if I'd known driving like this was so much fun, I'd'a rigged out my old car long before my legs got kiboshed!"

"Video game. Right." He kept his eyes tightly closed and practiced therapeutic deep breathing.

This was the best part of Lois' day. The van gave her more freedom of motion than she'd had since the car accident that hadn't been an accident. Her father had offered to set her up with a driver, but Lois was adamant - she wasn't going to let fear rule her. She was going to keep writing. She was going to keep investigating the bad guys. Most of all, she was going to find a way to keep driving.

Besides, when the offer comes from the General, she had to read "driver" as "spy."

***********************


Lois rolled into the newsroom in high gear, and lesser reporters scattered in her wake. "Perry! I got the quotes from the conf-"

Perry and the overdressed man beside him - really, who wears a hat these days? - turned to face her. "Lane. Good. This is our new hire, Clark Kent, for the general assignment desk. He'll be working with you on the Luthor story."

Lois' eyes narrowed. "I'm a solo act, chief. You know that."

"I do know that, Lane." Perry White smiled around the cigar clamped between his teeth, the smile of a man who's about to get the better of the thorn in his side. "I also know I'm the boss of you. Oh, and I know that Kent is from Luthor's home town, and has known him all his life."

Her jaw ached from the effort of keeping her smile a smile instead of a snarl. "His hometown, huh."

The man - now that she inspected him more closely, she saw he was big and beefy, but sagging and unwieldy - nodded calmly. "Yes. Smallville."

"Smallville." Her chin dipped. "Really?"

"Smallville." Kent nodded again. "Kansas."

"I know that, Smallville. I saw it on Luthor's bio." She rolled the tension out of her shoulders. "I just honest to god thought he made that up."

"Founded in 1837 by Carpenter Small, with the help of the six founding families," Kent replied. "The Smalls, the Langs, the Rosses, the Clarks and the Potters." He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with one finger. "And the Luthors."

"No Kents?"

"No, the Kents were Johnny-come-latelies. Great-Grandpa Nathaniel moved there after the Civil War." He shrugged. "There was some discussion about whether a Kent could ever be good enough for a Clark when Pa proposed to Ma, I'm told."

Lois "hmph"ed and muttered "ma and pa" under her breath. "Would a Luthor be good enough for a Clark?"

"Oh, so not even an issue." Kent grinned. "Nobody in Smallville's good enough for a Luthor. They've always looked farther afield for their mates."

“And dragged them back to Kansas?” Her lips twitched in a faint grin.

“More or less.”

Perry clapped Clark on the shoulder. “Well! Since you two are getting along so well already, I’ll just leave you to plan your attack.”

Olsen jumped at the echo of the shoulder-slap. “Ahh, I’ll just start processing these press conference photos, Chief…” he said, and fled Lois’ orbit with a silent prayer for Kent. That woman was going to chew the poor man up and spit him out in pieces.

***********************


Lois rolled her chair to one side to make room for Kent to join her at her computer, flanked on all sides by years of Happy Meal toys, novelty items and promotional items. He sat slumped over the keyboard, hands hanging loosely between his knees, turning his hat around and around nervously. The light from the screen bounced off his glasses, effectively making eye contact impossible.

“Let’s start with the most basic of all possible questions,” she said. “Give me Lex Luthor in one word.”

“Egocentric,” he said without looking up. “In Lex’s mind he is the alpha and omega of all things, the center of the universe, and all life exists to cater to him.”

“Sure this isn’t small-town envy talking?”

“He hasn’t got anything I want,” Kent said, voice soft. “But he’d never believe that. Because if it’s his, everyone else must want it. How can a farm boy possibly be happy when he isn’t Lex? It must gnaw at his soul in the long sleepless nights, knowing he’s not Lex.”

Lois chuckled. “Devil’s advocate. It’s enabled him to build a vast multinational corporate empire, that egotism.”

“I don’t argue that. He channels it well, and he covers it well, most of the time. But when you’ve known him as long as I have, you get to see the mask slip from time to time.”

“Mayor Emerson’s proposal would put LuthorCorp in control of the traffic lights and the maintenance of the transformers that network the city’s power grid. In effect, he’d have total access to the grid. Would he play by the rules and stick to the letter of the agreement, and pass up that access?”

Kent shook his head. “Not in a million years. If it’s there to be taken, Lex will take it.”

“I think there may be documentation of the backroom maneuverings to get this deal on the table in the LuthorCorp computers. I can’t hack into the system, and even if I could I wouldn’t be allowed to use it. So I’m planning on going down there tomorrow and doing a little social engineering. You want in?”

“Absolutely,” he said, and winced gingerly. “Ms. Lane, I know I’m out of line, but - please use extreme caution when you’re dealing with Lex Luthor.”

Heat in her eye, Lois rolled her chair back and forth pointedly. “You think I don’t know the consequences of going up against heavy hitters, Smallville? Me, of all people?”

“I know, I know. But I’d feel guilty forever if I hadn’t said anything and something happened,” he said. “You don’t know Lex. He’s got the thinnest skin on the planet with antennae constantly attuned to even the tiniest slight, and he’s capable of holding a grudge for years waiting for the perfect moment to get his revenge. You wouldn’t believe how dangerous he can be.”

Both Lois’ eyebrows winged up. “Geez, Smallville, what did you do to him?”

“Nothing!” Kent writhed in embarrassment. “I mean, I was just going about my business with no regard for Lex at all. But he didn’t see it that way.”

He sighed, sat back and began the story.

“Our freshman year in high school, Lex went out for football. He’d been the star in junior high, so he naturally figured he was a shoo-in. But the school’d hired a new coach, a legend in Kansas ball, and he didn’t want stars. He wanted raw talent he could mold into the kinds of players he needed, and he wanted a gestalt team ethos – to him it was more important that we learn to work as a unit than that we win. So he put Lex on the team, but on the second string.”

“You’re coming into this story soon, right?”

“Yeah, just as soon as our original QB smashes up his dad’s pickup and lands in traction,” Kent continued. “New tryouts held. Coach came courting me, asking me to try out. I – I was never very interested in sports, I’m such a klutz at everything but farmwork, and that’s only because I’ve gone through those motions so many millions of times – but my best friend Pete ate, slept and breathed football, and Coach had implied to him he wouldn’t get on the team unless he got me to try out with him.”

“He gave you the quarterback spot,” Lois guessed.

“Yeah. I took it for Pete’s sake, and I was never a star, but I got, well, competent, eventually, through Coach’s individual attention,” Kent said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but Lex took it as a personal affront. He was doing some behind the scenes politicking to get the QB spot. I can’t prove it was him, but there was a whispering campaign started against Coach around that time, and who else?”

“The hammer’s coming down right about here,” she murmured.

“Well, yeah. If you call Coach disappearing without a trace ‘the hammer.’ Rumor was he’d run out on his wife with a girlfriend. I got that individual attention, and I know exactly how much of his time he spent at school on that field or in the gym – he didn’t have time for a girlfriend, Ms. Lane, and he was crazy devoted to his wife and his job. He wouldn’t just run out.” Kent slumped again, sighed. “They hired a new coach, one who does like stars, and caters to the booster club’s big donors. Lex and I switched places. Pete did okay in the new lineup, though, so I felt free to drop out. And the team started winning games, lots and lots of games, and who questions things when you’re riding that high wave of a winning streak?”

“And you? What’d he do to you?”

Kent took a deep breath. “That fall there was a tax lien placed against my parents’ farm. It was bullcrap and easily disposed of, but we had to take off to Topeka to handle it during harvest week. So even if we won the battle, we’d lose the war – our whole season’s livelihood would’ve sat there and rotted in the fields.”

“What happened?”

“Something Lex couldn’t have anticipated beforehand, or understood after,” he said. “Our neighbors gave up time on their own farms to reap our crops – carved out an hour here and there. Certain teachers would let my aggie friends have a class period off to go work our farm. The school’s 4-H Club made it a class project and got permission to take a whole school day off to work our farm as a community service credit. We got the legal mess cleared up and we got the crops into the barn and out to market, with just about half the town’s help. Lex can’t get that, because everything to him is all about individual dominance. You see?”

“Yes. Yes, I do see.” She sighed. “Smallville, if it helps any, I was raised by a man very much like that. I have a pretty good sense of how to handle them, and I’m not afraid of them. Maybe I should be, but I’m not.”

Some tension left Clark’s shoulders. “That’ll be okay, if you’ll let me ride shotgun. Because I’m scared enough of them for both of us.”


***********************


Clark joined Lois at an outdoor table at a small café the next morning. They traded off sections of the morning paper over lattes.

“Nice job on the news obit,” she said, distracted by her reading.

“Thanks. I know it’s not an earth-shaking expose or anything, but –“

A shadow fell across the table. “Ms. Lane! A pleasure to finally meet you.” Luthor barely turned his head. “Kent. Been ages.”

“Lois Lane, meet Lex Luthor.” Clark kept his face carefully neutral.

“Oh, I’ve been a fan of Ms. Lane’s for years. And to judge by your press conference story in today’s paper, Lois – may I call you Lois? – you’re acquainted with my work as well.” He smiled, a tight baring of teeth.

“Mr. Luthor. So glad you like my little scribblings.” Lois smiled slyly and sipped coffee.

“I’m sure they help keep your mind off your…troubles,” he answered, with a pointed glance at her wheelchair. “I do hope you won’t take my friend the mayor’s mention of lawsuits to heart. He does have a reputation to think of, after all, and a reelection campaign. For my part, I think you do a wonderful job of keeping those of us working for the public interest on our toes.”

She waved a hand airily. “You know what they say, Mr. Luthor – it’s truth that sets us all free.”

“Indeed!” He beamed down at her. “Kent! So good to see you’ve hit the big time at last. Hope they don’t keep you on the dead beat for long…” He checked his watch ostentatiously. “The time! My my, how it does fly, and so must I.”

He stepped away with a wave, and the two reporters carefully kept their eyes on the table until he was out of earshot.

“As I was about to say,” Lois said in measured tones, “I appreciate the need for the kind of profile piece you did yesterday in our paper. It’s as important as my muckraking. More, maybe, because it reaches people on a primal, personal level. You did a good job digging in to all the little details of that man’s personality, getting people to talk about him. I felt like I knew him when I was done reading it. That’s a gift.”

“That means a lot, coming from you. Such a distinguished career, and then the Pulitzer,” he said.

Lois shrugged. “Sometimes I wonder how much the public even reads my pieces. The stuff I write about affects every single person in this city, and you’d think they’d be in high dudgeon with their city officials every day, and yet…” She sighed. “As for the Pulitzer, it’s in a box in my basement. I can’t stand to even look at the thing. I’ll never be able to be sure it wasn’t just a pity vote, coming as it did so soon after the crash.”

“Lois –“

She rolled away from the table. “C’mon, Smallville. Let’s settle up here and get moving. Those corporate whistles aren’t going to blow themselves.”

Inside, the cashier told them “the big bald man” had insisted on paying their breakfast tab. Lois ordered a box of mixed pastries to go and paid cash for it. “That’ll make up for the attempt to influence, and we can throw it to the howling wolves in the newsroom when we get back,” she said with a grin.

Clark didn’t return her smile. “Saying it again for the record, ma’am. Step very carefully around this one.”

“SOP when dealing with snakes in suits.”

***********************


Jimmy took the back seat this time, and as promised, Clark rode shotgun. While Jimmy clutched at the shoulder belt, though, Clark sat impassive through Lois’ wild driving.

Jeezus, Ms. Lane, are to trying to fly us there?” Jimmy whimpered.

“Not afraid of a little speed, Smallville? My opinion of you’s rising by the mile,” she said with a sidelong glance and a sly smile.

“I’m not afraid to fly,” Clark said in his soft voice, but winced when the van hit a pothole. “Of course, I’ve never been on a plane in real turbulence…”

“Aww, Kent, you’re such an Eeyore.” Lois snickered, but Clark just smiled with abashed delight.

“Eeyore’s my favorite,” he admitted. “Him and Snuffleupagus.”

“That figures,” she needled, and decided Kent didn’t look quite so blah when he smiled. Further investigation might be required, though. Just to make sure.

“I like Tigger,” Jimmy piped up, oblivious.

***********************


“I – I don’t know, Ms. Lane. I could lose my job,” Wesley whined.

Lois sighed. LuthorCorp’s whistleblower couldn’t lose his nerve now, not after the days she’d spent turning him. “Look, Wes. If this deal goes through and your boss takes advantage of the security hole, I’ll bring him down. Promise you that. Your job’s not gonna be worth much then,” she pointed out.

“I – I guess…” Wes turned the flash drive in his hands end over end nervously.

“Is that it? All of it?”

“Y’uh-huh. All the emails between Luthor and Emerson, and Luthor and his research department.” He thrust it at Lois. “Take it, before I change my mind.”

She snatched it from his hand.

“You’re doing the right thing, Mr. Clutter,” Clark said softly.

Watching through a hidden spy-eye, Lex Luthor sighed. So hard to find good help these days. He took out a disposable cell phone and attached a voice scrambler, then made a call.

“Metropolis Towers, Apartment 1026. Now. As discussed.”


***********************


Clark and Lois spent another half-hour with Wesley Clutter, getting on tape the story of how he stumbled upon the digital paper trail of Luthor’s corporate malfeasances and planned citywide power grab. Lois was quietly pleased with Kent’s gentle way with the witness, drawing out his personal reactions to his discoveries and the thought process that went into his decision to go against Luthor. Kent had real potential, she thought; she’d just have to see he got the savvy and seasoning he needed…

Luthor’s security force broke down Clutter’s door and fired at the threesome. Clark threw Clutter to the ground with one arm and dragged Lois out of her chair with the other. On the other side of the room, Jimmy tried blinding the guards with the flash of his camera, but ended up ducking desperately.

The lead guard grabbed the back of Clark’s jacket and threw him backward into the wall. He slumped there painfully, then began inching his way to the open doorway. Going for help, he mouthed to Lois, who nodded. The guard turned his attention to Wesley, who was clutching Lois in his arms as if his life depended on it.

“You really should be careful who you make an enemy of,” the guard sneered. He picked them both up, shot out the picture window, and hurled them out. He fired a barrage of shots through the window after them. Jimmy cried out and tried rushing to the window, only to be hit with the butt of a rifle.

Then a whirlwind whipped through the room. Jimmy was taking pictures, and even inspecting the shots later, still couldn’t determine what exactly happened – only that a red and blue blur rendered the guards unconscious and tied down to furniture.

***********************


Clutter’s blood covered Lois’ shirt. His grip on her released as he bled out, and he was dead before he hit the alleyway below. Lois was fairly sure she was in for an even less pleasant end.

Then a wind rose around her, something gripped her shoulders, and her descent slowed. She opened her eyes and found herself in the arms of a man – a flying man. Heavily musclebound, with a firm square jaw and a shock of black hair falling in a curl over his forehead. Glancing down, she saw he was clad in blue with a red “S” on his chest and a red cape trailing behind him. He landed gracefully and safely in the alley.

,” he said, and Lois shook her head.

“I have no idea what that means. Is that even a language?”

The strange man set Lois gently on her feet. She stood for approximately two seconds before her knees buckled and she collapsed in a heap.

“I’m crippled,” she said, wrestling her useless limbs out from under her. “I can’t get around without my chair. It’s back up there.” She pointed up.

The man with the S followed her pointing finger, and his eyes shifted and streamed like liquid mercury. Then his knees bent and he rose into the sky, gaining speed as he went. He descended again 75 seconds later with Lois’ motorized chair in his arms.

?”

“Yes, that’s it.” He picked her up from the ground and placed her gently in the seat. “Thanks. Guess you do understand what I’m saying?”

He nodded once. “” And so saying, flew off again.


Lois sat there staring after the strange man.


***********************


“Ms. Lane! Are you all right?” Clark and Jimmy raced into the alley a few minutes later. “I called the police, but – what happened up there?”

“I – have no idea,” she said. “I’m fine. There was a man –“ She shook her head. “Look. The cops are coming. You guys need to stay here and give witness reports. Olsen, lemme have your camera. I’ve got the flash drive. I’ll zip back to the office and get this written up for the noon edition. Okay?”

Clark swayed dizzily at the sight of the splattered remains of Wesley Clutter. “I – okay. We can do that. Go. Get it filed.”

Lois’s van zipped down the street moving two miles below the speed limit as sirens approached the apartment building.

***********************


Clark entered the newsroom two hours later and found Lois sitting at her computer, elbows on the desk, hands propping up her head.

“We took care of the police. They’re going to want a statement from you, but we talked them into getting it first thing in the morning,” he said. “You got the story done?”

She nodded. “It’s done. All the files on the flash drive back it up and Jimmy’s camera has loads of pictures of the home invasion. The pages are locked into the printer. For all the good it’ll probably do. That poor man…” She looked away, fighting tears.

“He made a choice, Ms. Lane. A good choice,” Clark said, and gave her shoulder an awkward pat.

“I bullied him into it,” she said bitterly. “And for what? A story nobody will care about in a couple of days.”

“You stopped Luthor from gaining access to unlimited power,” Clark pointed out.

If he was ever really a threat,” she said.

“All I can tell you, Ms. Lane, is that in my heart there is no doubt you did the right thing. Not even a tiny one,” he said, and stood to go. At the last minute he turned back.

“Ms. Lane?” She looked up. “I was in college when I read the story that won you that Pulitzer. I read it and I thought, yes, that’s the caliber of work a world-class award should go to. That’s work that makes a difference. That’s what I want to do with my life.” He turned his hat around in his hands. “It wasn’t until much later I found out that that story had cost you the use of your legs. It didn’t make me pity you then, and when I found out you went right back to work, it just made me admire you more.” He put the hat firmly on his head. “What you do matters, Ms. Lane. More than you realize.”

“Thanks…Kent.” She smiled, and he just shrugged.

He turned and left, and Lois sat and stared at the glow of her monitor.

***********************


When Clark came in the next morning, the TV mounted on the newsroom wall showed Lex Luthor in full spin mode.

“…overzealous in their execution of their duty. They have of course been fired, and our hearts go out to the family of poor Mr. Clutter,” Lex was saying.

“So he slithers out of responsibility again,” Clark murmured. Lois wheeled up and slapped him in the gut with a folded newspaper.

“Not necessarily.” She unfolded the paper and held it up for him to read their story on the front page. “The mayor’s spinning it like a top too and so are his lawyers, but the fact is, politically he’s toast.”

“Mmm. I love the smell of roasted politician in the morning.” Lois chuckled and wheeled away.

Clark entered his barren cubicle and found a gift bag sitting on the desk. He opened it and found a tissue-wrapped bundle and a note.

Congratulations on your first front page co-byline and your very first piece of big-city cubicle swag. They didn’t have a Snuffleupagus.

P.S. Name’s Lois. Use it.


He unwrapped the tissue paper and found a beanie-baby style toy Eeyore. He smiled and set it on top of his computer monitor, then settled in to the day’s work.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
sailorlibra
Oct. 24th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
Awwww, I thought this was a really nice story.
trista_zevkia
Oct. 24th, 2011 04:44 am (UTC)
This is a great start to the relationship between Lois and Clark! There's a backstory for Clark and Lex, and an acceptance from Lois that you don't see often, in canon of fanfic.
Wonderful!

And I love how Clark admits to knowing and liking Eeyore and Snuffleupagus.
eternal_moonie
Oct. 24th, 2011 10:41 am (UTC)
Absolutely AWESOME fic!!!
littlemissgriff
Oct. 25th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
*BIG HAPPY HUM*

This is a story that just did everything right. I love the characters, I love the plot, I love the pacing, and I'm absolutely thrilled Lois is so very much her ferocious self, in chair and out.
bugeyedmonster
Dec. 3rd, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
Good fic. I must add this to memories. Why is it that I don't read comics, yet I'm always reading DC or Marvel fanfic?

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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