Lois straightened her posture and ran a hand through her hair, tugging at the dress shirt and doing her best to keep it from getting wrinkled. With a tug on her shirtsleeve in an attempt to hide the cast, she folded her arms in her lap and stared at her image in the mirror. The skirt she was wearing did little to hide the cast on her leg, but she had to make due with what she had. She had downright refused when Lucy suggested they cut a slit down her pant legs so that she could wear them. She wanted something to look forward to when she got the darn things off, and spending money on a new wardrobe was not one of those things.
“You’re not a paraplegic,” Lucy said, bringing herself out from behind the door to stand behind Lois. “You’re immobile. There’s a big difference.”
“Sure doesn’t look like it.”
“Should I provide a little example by kicking you in your good leg?” When her sister’s mirror image glared at her, Lucy smiled. “Relax, Lois. It’s a little doctor humor. My way of saying that you’re being way too dramatic about all of this.”
“I’m a senior reporter for the Daily Planet. Reporting dramatic situations in a dramatic way is my job.”
Lucy dropped her head and sighed deeply. Lifting it again, she looked at her sister with an arched eyebrow. “Are you sure it has nothing to do with the predicament you’re in?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know what I’m talking about, Lois.” Leaning her head closer to her sister’s brown curls, Lucy watched her face. “I heard you last night… crying for Richard.”
Suddenly Lois was unreadable. The humor passed quickly, and her eyes hardened. Staring at her own reflection in the mirror, she said quietly, “That’s none of your business.”
“Lois, when your little sister is hearing you crying out for your fiancé in the middle of the night,” she leaned her head closer, “with her nephew just down the hall, you have reason to ask the sister if she’s okay.”
“Did Jason hear me?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Then it’s fine. For now. As long as he doesn’t know everything at this moment.”
“He’s going to figure it out eventually.”
Lois sighed deeply, the only action that told Lucy she agreed. “And I’ll have an answer for him by then. Hopefully.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
“What is there to talk about, Lucy?” Lois turned as much as she could, her eyes blazing with growing anger. “My fiancé is reported missing the same day that I get injured in a freak accident at the repair shop that just happened to be his favorite place to go. Meanwhile, my son has no idea where he is, if he’s okay, when he’ll be back, and I’m mentally begging him not to ask any questions because I don’t have an answer myself! What is there to talk about, Lucy? You know the details already!”
Suddenly Lucy was the unreadable one. The room grew quiet and filled with tension. The Lane sisters, best of friends and worst of enemies, were at a standstill. Lucy knew her sister needed an outlet, and as much she wanted to vent her own frustration, it would do nothing to help Lois’ sour mood. Instead she crouched down until their eyes were even.
“I know you miss Richard. I know you’re worried about having the answers for Jason when the time comes. And I know how much it’s killing you inside not to be able to get your hands into this investigation. Things are just a little bit different for you now, Lois. As much as you’re going to hate hearing me say this, you’re going to need other people to help you during this… whether you want them to or not.”
Lois’ stare wasn’t nearly as challenging as it was moments before. The impenetrable façade she put up was slowly melting away, revealing the hurt woman beneath. Suddenly Lucy saw how much Lois was harboring inside. Leaning forward and putting a hand on her forearm, she whispered, “You can do this, sis. You’re strong enough to overcome this.”
A blink from Lois and the mask was back in place. With a smug grin, Lois brushed off her sister’s hand. “That’s the same thing
“He’s supposed to. He said he was going to tell me all about his conversation with Doug the other day, but I haven’t heard from him, yet.” Lois put a hand to her mouth, but resisted the urge to chew on her thumbnail. “I can’t imagine what’s taking him so long.”
“Don’t get too impatient. From what little I know about him, I’d say
“He’s a little too good for his own good, sometimes.” Lois muttered. She rested her head on her good hand and glanced at Lucy. Her sister’s grin was still in place. “What?”
“He’s a good guy,” she said again.
Lois paused. “And?”
“And… he’s single, right?”
Lois mind connected the dots. She groaned. “Oh, Lucy… you don’t want to get involved with a guy like
“Because! He’s practically a hayseed!”
“So? He’s a good worker and an honest man. That’s a hard thing to find in a guy who works in the city. Plus, he seems determined to help you with this investigation.”
“Only because we’ve been working partners for several years.”
Lucy seemed to think that one over before shaking her head. “No, I don’t think that’s it. I think he likes you.”
“Lucy! I’m an engaged woman!”
“That doesn’t mean he can’t have feelings for you. Personally, I think it’s kinda cute. The Midwestern nerd falls for the rough-and-tough city girl…”
“Sounds like a cheap chick flick.”
“Maybe, but it’s still cute. Even if he is a bit of a dork, sometimes.”
“But he’s kind, a sweetheart… all he needs to do is get rid of those glasses and maybe get some better clothes… and get more of a backbone to match your personality…”
“Lucy,” Lois held up her hand and wiggled her ring finger. “Engaged woman.”
“Fine, be that way.” Lucy crossed the room to stand in front of her sister, adjusting her legs on the leg rests before wheeling her out of the room. “Does this mean I can have him?”
After conquering the stairs and getting her fill of lunch, Lois was placed in the living room in front of the TV, staring at a darkened screen, full of vibrant colors only moments earlier. It had been playing the news, some local station with a less than professional news anchor droning on the news, when reports of Richard’s disappearance ran across the ticker on the bottom of the screen. When it became the story of the moment, she had turned off the TV. It was bad enough that
She held the remote loosely in one hand, letting it tap against the armrest. Finally, she lazily tossed it to the nearby couch. It fell short and clattered against Jason’s piano on the coffee table. Rolling her eyes, she shifted a bit, wincing when a still tender rib protested, and reached for the remote. Her finger landed on a key, and she jumped when the note softly rang out in the room. Jason had forgotten to turn the piano off before Lucy dropped him off at school.
Her finger stayed in place. Shifting a bit more, she realized she had landed on a very familiar note, high C. It was the same note that Jason started on when he played “Heart and Soul”. She hit the key three times then let her fingers dance slowly across others.
Heart and Soul, I begged to be adored
Lost control and tumbled overboard
The final note sounded louder in her ears than any others she had played. She let it ring a moment longer then pulled back, sighing as she did. Richard had taught them both where those notes were so long ago, when tumbling overboard was how Lois felt in relation to everything surrounding her. He was such a strong person, taking the chance with a fearless reporter and her small child. It was so admirable that, at the time, it almost felt stupid. Why would anyone take the chance with the emotional bomb that was
Because someone else dared to, and got further than anyone ever expected…
The phone rang. Loudly. Startling her out of her thoughts, Lois put her good hand on a wheel and turned, but only rotated herself to the direction of the kitchen. Grunting and groaning, she considered her broken arm for a moment before hesitantly placing it on the other wheel beside her. Just a little push would get her somewhere and show the others what she could do…
The phone rang again. “Don’t move, Lois! I’ll get it!”
Unhooking her fingers from the wheel, she let her arm drop, perhaps a little too roughly, back on the armrest. “You answer that phone and get in here,
She heard the phone beep. Lucy greeted the caller, walking into the living room with a smile on her face. Covering the mouth piece, she said, “It’s
The smile said everything. Taking the phone from Lucy with her good arm, then using the edge of her cast to push Lucy away, she lifted it to her ear. “
“I’m sorry, Lois. I asked Mr. White earlier about coming over, but I’m carrying a big enough load as it is. I’ve got your things and mine to cover!”
“You wimp. You’ve taken on more than that before.”
“Lois, you’ve left a ton of unfinished stories here! I don’t even know where to begin!”
“Begin by telling me how your meeting with Doug went. What kind of information did he give you?”
“Nothing beyond what we already know. He said that he’s gotten the notification about his location, but they won’t know for another day or so.”
“So, it’s a dead end until we hear from him again?”
“Seems like it.” He paused. “You could have told me you knew him so well.”
“Would you have believed me?”
“Of course I would have. You know this guy better than I do.”
“I know you better than that, Mr. Detail. You would have looked into his history anyway. You aren’t checking out files on him, are you?”
He hesitated. Then he chuckled. “You really do know me better than I think you do.”
“He’s got a clean bill, right?”
“So far so good.”
“So what are you worried about? Just get back to work and call me as soon as you hear something. In the meantime, you can send me anything you find through email. I’ll be here most of the day.”
“Lois, I think it’s safe to assume you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Don’t make me work my way over there. Call me if you find something.”
The line clicked.
The image in front of him reloaded. Instead of the distorted Lego-like structure he had shown Lois, the prefect model he had hidden from her was in its place, an exact replica of the repair shop before it had collapsed. He used his mouse and clicked on the frame of the model, rotating it until he could get a good look at the one corner that was secure. Typing in another command, he soon had all four corners side-by-side-by-side-by-side before him. He leaned forward, resting his head on his hand, and compared the four corners to what he had committed to memory.
Then the phone rang.
He startled so badly that he knocked over the cup of coffee on his desk. Jumping up from his seat and grabbing some tissues from a nearby box, he attempted to mop up the coffee while answering the phone at the same time. “
“I thought you should inform Lois – we’ve got a location for Richard’s seaplane. We’ve already got port authorities on their way to the location. They should be there within the hour.”
“Within the hour,”
“There’s something else I need you to ask her too. I know she’s going to kill me later for this, but could you have her get in touch with Superman? We could use his help getting this thing back to the coast.”
With a small grin,
Dropping the pen and paper on his desk,
Hitting the seventh number, he awkwardly stood from his seat. Crushed beneath his weight and soaking the chair was the tissue papers he had used to clean up the coffee. I must have dropped it on the chair, he thought, picking it up and tossing it in the trash. He could hear snickers coming from around the office. Sitting back down in his chair, he groaned. At least I’m staying in-character.
Speeding through the air and hovering just feet above the ocean, Superman replayed his conversation with Lois in his mind. There was doubt, that was for sure, but there was something else in her voice that wanted to break free. Whatever it was she hadn’t released it, so her words exchanged with
Of course it was. I’m sure she’s still trying to figure everything out. Adding the suit to the mix could only complicate things.
Moments later a small dot broke over the horizon. Pulling back his arms and stopping his forward movement, he glanced behind him. The skyline of the city was still visible. Smog and distance made it hard to see, but there was no doubt that this island was closer to the coast than Luthor’s kryptonite creation had been. Turning back to his destination, he sped over the waters faster than before.
The perfect sands of the beach met him when he arrived. Landing on a collection of rocks, he stood and surveyed the area around him. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary on that side, so he peered deeper into the thick brush before him. Trees and trunks faded before him, rock and water melted before his eyes… and he saw the familiar coating of paint on a wing.
Rising above the trees, it took him only a moment to spot the seaplane. Scanning the area surrounding it, he landed quietly and walked over to it. It was scratched and damaged, with one wing bent out of shape and a tire missing from the landing gear. Standing before it, he focused and watched the side of the plane melt away. There were several boxes of supplies for a long trip, a blanket, and a few canteens of water. Taking a deep breath, he scanned the pilot’s seat.
Richard wasn’t inside.
He blinked. Another dead end. Taking a few steps around the plane, he scanned the rest of it and found nothing out of the ordinary. The plane itself looked like it had been through a crash landing, but nothing suggested that Richard had been hurt. He turned around and looked at the propeller blades.
That’s when he noticed the brush in front of him was smashed to the ground. He took a step towards it, and his boot stepped in a heap of mud.
The mud, he noticed, was out of the ordinary. Surrounding the plane on the south was lush green grass, but to the north was nothing but mud. Focusing harder, he found several smashed shapes in the earth before him. Each of them had a set of shoeprints. Hovering over the ground, he followed the messy patterns and soon found the shoeprints mixed with lines, a trail that lead through the small thicket…
… straight into a clearing.
Directly before him was a wall of mud that rose to his thighs, its shape covered with branches and leaves. Several yards away a tree was snapped in half. Superman clenched his jaw and turned back to the seaplane.
Someone had intentionally moved it from the crash site in the clearing to the cover of the brush.