I've Got A Crush On You

Written by: Thania St. John

Transcribed by Labrat

We open on a dramatic scene of fire engines racing to a major incident. A large warehouse is on fire. A firefighter jumps from his vehicle, axe in hand. Others run out a hose.

Firefighter: Come on! Come on!

A reporter stands next to the scene, in the midst of controlled chaos.

Reporter: And yet another blaze. Presumably a case of arson has drawn firefighters to the West River area.

Behind him, firefighters train water on the warehouse.

Reporter: Six in the last twenty-four hours and, still, Metropolis Fire Department officials have no leads.

We see a watching, anxious crowd being held back by police.

Reporter: There is a custodian trapped inside the West River Garment Company building on the top floor. The engine ladders aren't tall enough to reach him and the warehouse's stairwells are engulfed in flames. There doesn't appear to be any way to get him out.

We hear a sudden loud whooshing sound. People in the crowd call out:

Crowd Voice #1: It's him!

Crowd Voice #2: Superman!

Crowd Voice #3: There he is!

The reporter turns to look upwards as we see Superman swoop down out of a blue sky.

Crowd Voice: Fantastic!

Crowd Voice: Oh, boy.

We pan along the crowd as people continue to murmur excitedly, watching Superman come in to land. People call out Superman's name; some of them have video cameras trained on the action.

We see the blackened frontage and doorway of the West River Garment Company.

Reporter: It seems that Superman has been able to reach the man in question!

Superman, in all his red and blue glory, emerges from the haze of smoke shrouding the warehouse's doorway, carrying the semi-conscious custodian in his arms as the crowd cheers enthusiastically.

Crowd Voice: Way to go, Superman!

Emergency crews rush to meet the superhero, who places the unconscious custodian on a stretcher.

Superman: You'll be okay now.

The reporter rushes up to take Superman by the arm and draw him away as the stretcher is taken away.

Reporter: Superman!

Crowd Voice: You did a great job, Superman!

Reporter: (pulling Superman into place in front of the TV camera) You've been helping the fire department all day. Any idea who could be behind the fires?

Superman: No, we've been too busy fighting them.

Reporter: We're hearing rumours that the arsons might be gang-related. Any comment?

Superman: I'm sure the authorities are doing everything they can to find out –

A radio splutters into life on one of the fire engines.

Radio: Fire on Eighth and Hobbs….Company Forty-Three respond.

Superman: Now, if you'll excuse me –

He flies off.

Crowd Voices: Thanks, Superman! Thank you!

Cut to a sleazy nightclub. A young woman stands on a stage dancing and singing her laborious way through a version of "Steam Heat".

Singer: Steam Heat! I got Steam Heat! I got –

Manager/Owner: (derisive as he lounges at a table in front of the stage) You got nothing!

Singer: But…Johnny…last night you said I had talent.

Johnny: (wryly) Last night, you did. Next!

The singer continues to dance as a young blonde woman, dressed in a smart power suit, comes over to stand in front of Johnny. As we will later come to find out, this is Johnny's sister, Toni Taylor.

Toni: (briskly) We have a situation.

Johnny: I'm busy.

Toni: There was another fire. This time at Rudi's place.

Johnny: (dismissive) I'll take care of it.

Toni: Rudi pays us for protection.

Johnny: (annoyed) I said I'll take care of it!

Toni: (challengingly) How?

Johnny: Look, you really wanna help me and the Metro organisation?

Toni: You know I do.

Johnny: Then put on some tap shoes. I need a new chorus girl.

He laughs. Toni glares at him and stalks off.

Johnny: (gesturing impatiently at the stage where our singer is still giving it her all) Come on, I said next! Come on!

The singer marches off, disgruntled.

Johnny: (suddenly spotting something in the crowd of dancers standing hopefully by the stage, waiting for their audition) Hey! You. With the legs. The long legs.

We pan up those long legs, encased in sheer pantyhose, up to tight, black shorts and a white blouse tied beneath the dancer's breasts. The dancer leans against the wall with sultry attitude as she turns her head to bestow a smoky glance on Johnny. It's Lois Lane.

Johnny: Yeah, you. Come here.

Lois saunters into the middle of the stage, running a hand through her hair. She stops, hands on hips, and gives Johnny a seductive, challenging stare with a hint of a smile.

Johmmy: Uh-huh. Babycakes, you're in!

Lois's smile widens. The other dancers leave with varying mutters of disbelief and disgust.

Lois: (smirking) Sorry, girls. Better luck next time.

She heads for Johnny as we


The Daily Planet newsroom, full of its usual bustle and chatter, phones ringing etc. Lois and Clark cross the floor of the bullpen at a rapid clip, Jimmy tagging along behind them.

Clark: It's too dangerous.

Lois (impatiently) Well, not for me. Look, it's very simple. The Metro gang controls West River. West River's on fire. Only West River. So I am going undercover to find out why.

She stops at the coffee station and pours herself a cup.

Jimmy: (joining Clark's protests) Those guys aren't just club owners, Lois. They're gangsters. Gangsters, you know. Cement shoes, sleeps with the fishes, that kind of thing?

Lois takes a sip of her coffee and grimaces.

Lois: Ugh. This is cold. (To Jimmy) Thank you for your concern. But, no thanks.

Jimmy shakes his head, throws up his hand and quits. He leaves. Clark isn't for conceding defeat so easily as he spots Perry nearby.

Clark: Chief!

Perry: What's up, Kent?

Clark: Please, talk some sense into her, would you?

Lois rolls her eyes and sighs.

Perry: (wryly) You ever tried to milk a steer? (Clark frowns, baffled by this seeming non-sequitor.) Lois? What's the problem today?

Lois: The problem is Clark here would rather lose the scoop (Clark shakes his head, denying that as he takes a sip from his own coffee) on the West River fires, than have me take a few little chances. (She pantomimes little with her fingers, to further emphasise that this is nothing to concern their EIC)

She walks off. Perry gives Clark a speculative glance and follows.

Perry: Lois!

Behind them, Clark grimaces at his coffee cup. As Lois continues to protest the interference, offscreen, he pushes down his glasses and directs a short burst of heat vision into his cup.

Lois: If I'm an investigative journalist, I have to be able to investigate, right?

The coffee in Clark's cup begins to bubble furiously. Clark shuts off his heat vision, replaces his glasses and gives his cup a satisfied smile before heading over to join Perry and Lois. Lois reaches her desk and starts shuffling through papers.

Perry: A scoop, huh?

Lois: A sure thing.

Perry: (liking the sound of that.) You know…Kent…uh, it's always been my policy to back my reporters 1000 per cent. I mean, if you went up there and opened those windows and told me you could fly, I'd back you up. I'd miss you. But I'd back you up.

Lois: Thanks, Chief.

Clark smiles ruefully. Perry points a stern finger in Lois's direction.

Perry: Doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful.

He walks off. Clark carelessly puts his reheated coffee down on Lois's desk, not noticing that it's right next to Lois's cup.

Clark: You know, you should have discussed this with me before you took this on. We're a team.

Lois: Sometimes players have to wait on the bench while other players run with the ball.

Clark: You're in over your head with this one, Lois.

Lois picks up Clark's coffee, mistaking it for hers. She offers him a salute with the waxed paper cup.

Lois: If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the story.

She takes a long draft from the cup, gulps and gasps at the unexpected heat. Clark frowns, then glancing down at the desk realises what's happened.

Lois: (somewhat pompously) Besides, I am first and foremost a professional and I would certainly never do anything to compromise my personal safety or the integrity of my work.

Jimmy approaches, carrying a white dry-cleaner's bag.

Jimmy: Lois, this just came for you. The, uh, dry-cleaner said he had a terrible time with the…ah… (he unzips the bag and holds up a bright yellow chicken costume) …feathers.

Lois clumsily grabs the costume from him, struggles with it for a second and throws it to her chair as Jimmy and Clark struggle to contain their laughter. Lois grabs the dry-cleaning bag from Jimmy and glares at them. They beat a hasty retreat, Clark still grinning widely. Disgruntled, Lois plonks herself down on the edge of her desk.

A gaggle of press photographers stand in a huddle in Luthor's penthouse, cameras flashing as an excited murmur surrounds them. We pan down to an architect's scale model of a flashy harbour-front development. The focus of both excitement and media interest.

Lex Luthor: Schools, shops, restaurants…

We pan across examples of these on the model, coming to a block at the front of the model with the name "Lex-Harbor" emblazoned on it. Lex circles the model, still waxing lyrical and waving a flamboyant, cigar-holding hand across the miniature buildings.

Luthor: …theatres, offices, apartments. A self-contained community. A giant step forward in urban reawakening. A bright new jewel in Metropolis's crown.

The crowd of photographers and press listens. Clark stands at the front of the crowd.

Reporter: Mr. Luthor, aren't you worried about making such a large investment in the West River area at this time?

Luthor: No.

Reporter: Well…what about the fires? Even Superman can't keep up with them.

Clark turns his head to the reporter, reacting to this criticism, then sighs quietly.

Luthor: Well, Superman's made a valiant effort. Unfortunately, he's failed. I suppose that proves he's only human.

The reporters laugh. Clark looks irritated.

Luthor: The West River is currently a blight on the face of our fair city. Lex Harbor will change all that.

Clark: Well, how do you respond to accusations that coercion was used to pressure the city council to approve this project without appropriate study?

Luthor: Well I don't respond to accusations, Mr. Kent. I'm more concerned with results. I believe that with Lex Harbor we can take Metropolis back from the criminal elements and the gang influence (Clark listens sceptically) that apparently even Superman can't control.

Clark looks even more irritated.

Luthor: Good day.

He strides through the reporters as they bombard him with questions, which he ignores as he exits the room. Clark stands in silence as we linger on Luthor's model of a new city dream for Metropolis: Lex-Harbor.

A group of emergency services vehicles race around a street corner, sirens wailing. They pass the entrance to the Metro Club. Inside the club we find the dancer from the teaser (whose name is Toots) and Lois. Both are dressed in the 'uniform' of the club's waitresses. Black leotard tops with sheer black sleeves attached which end in white cuffs. Short black skirts, slit to the waist on either side. And white chokers around their necks with black bow ties attached. Toots is giving Lois some tips and rules of the job.

Toots: And when you're not on stage, you're out here taking orders. Oh, and if you hold the tray like this (she demonstrates, holding the silver tray she's carrying against her hip, one-handed) then you'll always have one hand free for protection.

Lois: (puzzled) Protection?

Toots: Mmmm-hmmm. Eyes ain't the only things that wander in this joint.

She slaps her hip and chuckles. Lois laughs with her – a little uncertainly. Across the room, Toots notes a group of businessmen and Johnny going into a private room.

Toots: Oh, I'd better get them something to wet their whistle or I'll be back at the truckstop slinging hash.

Lois: (grabbing hold of the tray) Oh, let me. I could use the practice.

Toots: (Not letting go.) They tip big.

Lois: There's a twenty in it for you.

Toots shrugs and lets go of the tray, leaving Lois to stagger slightly. Lois steadies herself, takes a deep breath and heads for the room the men disappeared into.

Inside the private room at the club. Johnny stands beside a large table at which are seated his 'colleagues'. A meeting is in progress.

Johnny: Rocco.

Rocco: Yeah?

Johnny: Tell the Robertson boys they got one week to pay up. Then you take care of it. You got it?

Rocco: Okay, Johnny.

Johnny: Next. Lou. (He takes a seat beside Lou) Numbers.

Lou: (spreading his hands, shaking his head) Take is down this week, Johnny. Less street traffic on account of the fires…uh…which I think, it's time we start talking about.

Johnny: You just worry about your own problems. (looking around the table) We're the Metros. Nobody's gonna touch us.

At the far end of the table, Toni is seated. Her expression says she doesn't agree with his assessment.

Johnny: Not as long as I'm running things. I'll take care of the fires.

Toni: (challengingly) How?

Johnny: What?

Toni: How are you going to take care of the fires?

The door opens and Lois comes in, carrying a tray of drinks. She smiles at them.

Lois: Thirsty, boys?

They murmur agreement: "Yeah.", "Thank you."

Johnny: Over here, gorgeous.

Lois moves to place the tray on the table, stopping next to Johnny. She places a glass in front of him. As she straightens to move on to the next man, Johnny slaps a casual hand against her butt. Lois stops abruptly, her face speaking volumes. Johnny, oblivious, is already turning back to the matter at hand.

Johnny: So, where were we?

Lois gives him a disgusted glance and moves on, expression martyred. The things she does for a story.

Toni: (unfazed and undistracted by all this byplay) You were telling us how you're gonna deal with the fires.

Johnny: (getting annoyed) You got something to say, save it for later.

Toni: If I've got something to say, why shouldn't I say it now?

Johnny: (voice rising) Because you don’t talk in meetings. That's why!

Toni: Maybe I should start.

Johnny: (appealing to the guys around him) You hear that?

Groans sound around the table. Lou puts a hand to his forehead. Clearly this kind of spat between these two isn't uncommon.

Johnny: Let me tell you something, Miss M.B.A. All that piece of paper means is you do the books and stay out of business!

Unnoticed, Lois has stopped next to Toni's chair. Toni smiles derisively at Johnny.

Toni: 'Stay out of business' – and watch it go down the drain.

Johnny: (mocking) Sure. Okay, go on. Tell us all how stupid we are.

Toni: (getting to her feet) Not stupid. Inefficient. Misdirected, out-of-date. Still doing nickel-and-dime gangster stuff.

Beside her, still forgotten, Lois can't help smiling watching this strong woman take on the guys. She moves off, continuing to pass out drinks around the table.

Johnny: (stung) It was good enough for Pop!

Toni: Papa would be the first to say that it's time to move on.

Johnny: Papa would be the first to tell you to get a good husband, start having babies, and leave the real work to the men.

Toni: That's what he did tell me to do, Johnny. Only he didn't realise you'd destroy it all. The old days are over. The rackets are dead. But we've still got a chance. (she switches focus, now she's talking to the whole group, selling her pitch to them) We've got an organisation and we have influence.

Lois responds to this. What she's hearing is interesting.

Toni: We could be legitimate and make twice as much money.

Johnny: Yeah (he reaches into his jacket; the other gangsters dive from their seats and duck under the table with yells of protest. Lois quickly follows their example, crouching low to the floor.) we got an organisation (he pulls out a gun and waves it at her) and I'm still the head of it.

His sister stands unflinching, facing him down. Johnny fires three shots as Lois and the gangsters try to duck lower. We see that the shots have been fired into the wall, just to the right of his sister. Seemingly unmoved, still cool as cucumber, she stares at her brother disdainfully.

Toni: Just what we need. A cool head in charge.

Johnny swings the gun from his fingers, grinning slightly, still seeming to believe he won the argument. His sister shakes her head ruefully and casually stalks out of the room, through the still-cowering gangsters and Lois. Looking up at her in disbelief, Lois hastily gets to her feet and follows her out, closing the door behind her.

Johnny: Hey, where'd everybody go?!

Cut to where a red padded door with the gold letters MC on it is pushed open on a quietly bustling Metro Club. A saxophonist accompanies the red-haired dancer, Toots, as she does a sultry performance of "It's Too Darn Hot", wearing a tight red dress and waving a Chinese fan.

Clark enters. He's clearly made some attempt at disguise as he's wearing a fake moustache and beard and a black stocking cap. He looks like a slightly scruffy dockworker. He stands for a moment, hands in pockets, casually surveying the room, then wanders over to the bar. He raps heavily on the countertop, causing a tray of empty glasses to rattle. The bartender eyes him.

Clark: (gruffly) Beer.

The bartender pours. Clark takes off his cap and shoves it in his pocket. The bartender places a glass of beer in front of him. Clark takes it and begins to sip as he turns, leaning on the bar as he watches the singer on stage. Or appears to. In reality, the subject of his attention is a table near the front of the stage, where Johnny, Lou and some of the other gangsters from earlier are sitting. Johnny gets up and leaves the table. After a moment more of surveying the room, Clark slowly moves away from the bar and strolls further into the club, among the tables. He stops with his back against a red curtain as he takes another sip of his beer. And then squawks in surprise as an arm snakes out from a gap in the curtain and a hand grabs his shoulder and yanks him through to the dressing room on its other side.

It's Lois. An annoyed Lois. She's dressed in the chicken costume – complete with feathered hat in the form of a chicken head, with beak and beady eyes - with a silk robe on top.

Lois: What are you doing here?

Clark: I came to see the show.

Lois: Oh, you will ruin everything.

Clark: (eyeing the costume disdainfully) Well, looks like you're real close to the story.

Lois: I am! For your information, I spent the entire afternoon with the leader of the Metros in his inner sanctum.

Clark: (dryly) Wearing this. (He flicks a mocking finger across the feathers covering the neck of her costume ).

Lois ducks her head to follow the motion, then lifts it to give him a derisive look, hands on her hips.

Lois: And who are you supposed to be? Popeye the Sailor Man?

Stage Manager: (offscreen) Five minutes!

Lois clicks her tongue impatiently and rushes to close the dressing room door before dashing back towards Clark.

Lois: (urgently) Go away!

Clark: I'm here to back you up.

Lois: I don't need backup!

Clark: I think you do. And how'd you get so close to this guy anyway?

Lois: He's a man. I'm a woman. You want me to draw you a diagram?

He grimaces at her.

Stage Manager: (offscreen) Places! That means you, sweet thing!

Lois sighs.

Clark: Well, what did you find out so far?

Lois: Johnny and his sister don't exactly see eye to eye. There's some sort of power struggle going on. (she makes shooing motions at him) Now, fly.

Clark: And miss your debut? (he grins) I think I'll stick around.

Lois: Clark, you will stick out like a sore thumb!

Clark: Well, thanks for worrying, but –

There's a knock on the door.

Stage Manager: (offscreen) Let's go!

Clark: Look, I think you’re on. (pause as he reaches to pinch her cheek and then, mocking) Sweet Thing.

He leaves as Lois glares after him. Giving up, she crosses to the mirror and tosses aside the silk robe. The chicken costume comprises a tight yellow leotard, with long sleeves, cut in a low scoop-neck at the front, neck and cuffs adorned with ruffles of feathers. A ball of feathers at the back forms a 'tail'. Lois tries to examine herself from all angles, brushing at the costume with an exasperated sigh.

Clark has returned to the bar. He raps on it again.

Clark: (belligerently): Whiskey. Make it a double.

The bartender pours as ordered. Clark slams the empty beer glass down on the bar and gropes in his jacket pocket for money. He throws a couple of notes to the bar and drains the whiskey in one swallow. He puts down the glass.

Clark: Another one.

Bartender: (shaking his head) It's gonna hit you like a ton of bricks, pal.

Clark (smiling) Alcohol never affects me.

Bartender (smiling back sceptically – that's what they all say) Sure. Sure. (he watches as Clark downs this second shot in one go, too)

Clark: Besides, it can't be any worse than what's already happened to me today. Hit me again.

The bartender pours a third shot in silence.

Clark: Don't you want to know what happened?

The bartender shakes his head. Clark carries on, regardless.

Clark: I got fired, that's what. Thrown off my ship just like that. (he clicks his fingers.)

A drum roll sounds over on the stage.

Announcer: Here again, it's Toots and the fabulous Metro Dancers!

Clark makes to drink the third shot, but stops as his attention is distracted by what's happening on stage. The band strikes up an energetic version of "How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm….". Over on the stage, Lois in her chicken costume and other dancers in various feathered animal costumes, dance around Toots as she sings. Clark watches Lois with a grin. Lois glares at him before plastering her wide fake smile on again, desperately making like she's having a ball doing this. Clark shakes his head, amused, then, sobering, turns back to the barkeep, reluctantly getting back to business.

Clark: Any job openings? I've done some bar-tending.

Barkeep: I don't think so.

Clark: (half belligerently, staying in character) Why not?

Barkeep: You're not the type.

Clark: (straightening aggressively) What is that supposed to mean?

Toni: (coming up beside the barkeep) Excuse me. Is there a problem here?

Clark: No, no problem. I was just asking your man here about a job.

Toni: I'm afraid we don't have any openings at this time. I'm also afraid that I'm going to have to ask you to leave. (gives him a once over) We have a very strict dress code here at the Metro Club.

Before Clark can respond the street door of the club slams open and a strange group enters. They are all dressed in silver coveralls and helmets, with goggles covering their eyes. They hold strange guns, pointed into the crowded club. Clark turns surprised. He and Toni stare at the newcomers. These are the Toasters.

Toaster #1: (yelling) Johnny!

Across the room, Johnny rises to his feet in surprise from where he's been sitting at a table enjoying the show. Seeing the lie of the land, the other people around the table also get hastily to their feet, trying to get out of firing range.

Toaster #1: You're a dead man!

Johnny's eyes widen as he reaches for his gun and chaos erupts in the club. Toots, Lois and the other dancers rush from the stage.

Dancer: Let's get outta here!

A patron tips over the table next to him and ducks behind its cover as the Toasters open fire. Clark rushes over and leaps at Johnny, bearing him to the ground and out of the line of fire. The Toasters whoop and holler as their flamethrower guns set the club ablaze. Panicked patrons rush from the club, others cower behind tables. Johnny and his men fire back at the Toasters from the cover of tables. The Toasters, their work done, rush for the door and out into the street and are gone. Clark and one of his henchmen help an outraged Johnny to his feet. The back of Clark's jacket is smouldering. He looks around – and spots Toni, trapped behind the bar by a wall of flame.

Clark leaps over the bar, picks Toni up in his arms and into the relatively clear space of the dancefloor. Setting her on her feet again, he rushes her for the outside door. Lois runs up beside him as they dash across the room. She starts to speak, but before she can say anything…

Clark: Out! Everybody out!

Lois: (following after Toni and the others, shepherding them out into the safety of the street) Come on, let's get outta here!

Clark stands for a moment in the doorway, staring back at the burning club. He uses his breath to freeze out the flames, putting out the fires. Lois comes back into the club as he finishes.

Lois: (worried) Clark, are you okay?

Clark: Yeah.

Lois: Who were those guys?

Clark: (pointing to where the word Toasters has been burned into the wall behind the bar) I think we've just been introduced to the Toasters.

He and Lois stare at the wall in disbelief.

Cut to the inside of the burned out Metro Club. A team of decorators in white overalls are busy trying to paint out the word Toasters on the wall.

Decorator #1: Need more coats, that's for sure.

Lois, wearing her waitress costume, is standing behind the bar polishing glasses.

Voice in the background #1: …found almost all of it, but we're short about three cases…

Lois surreptitiously watches as Johnny's henchmen go into Johnny's office. One of the waitresses approaches the office with a tray of drinks, but the henchman on guard at the door waves her off.

Henchman #1: Beat it, kid.

Voice in the background #2: All that glass still in the corner…

Voice in the background #3: Yeah…

Decorator #1: Cover it?

Decorator #2: No. Slow. Need a wire brush.

Lois puts down the tray of glasses and moves off with a determined look on her face.

Cut to the interior of Johnny's office as he holds a meeting with his henchmen. He is wearing a sling on his arm.

Johnny: First, what we gotta do is find out who these guys are and arrange for a little payback.

Toni: I don't think so.

Johnny: Hey, I'm talking here.

Toni: Not any more.

Johnny stops, looking at her in surprise.

Cut to the club's cellar/storeroom as Lois enters stealthily. Toni's voice continues faintly on the other side of the wall.

Toni: We can't keep working like that. They hit us, we hit them. It's never gonna stop.

Cut back to the office.

Johnny: Hey! I've had it with your mouth.

Toni: And I've had it with your stupidity. I'm not going to let you destroy the organisation that our father built.

Cut to the storeroom, where Lois is busily moving piles of crockery from a shelf at eye-level.

Johnny (faint from the other side of the wall): Not going to let me?! How are you gonna stop me?!

Lois puts her eye to a small hole drilled in the wall between storeroom and office. She has a clear view of most of the table, particularly Johnny.

Toni: I think I already have.

Henchman #1: She's right, Johnny. We all have to make a living.

The henchmen get to their feet and gather en masse behind Toni as she looks at her brother with mock sympathy.

Toni: You should have seen this coming, Johnny. Now it's too late.

Johnny: Says who?

He reaches into his jacket for his gun, but by the time he gets it out the henchmen have taken out theirs and are already pointing them at him.

Johnny: If that's the way you guys feel about it, I'll… (small pause, then he puts his gun down on the table, defeated.)

Toni: You need a vacation. (to her henchmen) Get him outta here.

The henchmen holster their guns and comply. Two of them take Johnny under the arms and pull him to stand.

Henchman #2: Come on, Johnny, let's go.

As her brother is removed bodily from the office, Toni casually gets up and moves around the table to take his recently occupied chair at its head. In the storeroom, Lois strains to get closer to the wall and hear better.

Toni: (surveying her troops as they return to their seats) I know that some of you would like to go back to the way things were when my father was alive. That's not going to happen. (the henchmen look at each other, sceptical, not necessarily liking what they're hearing, but clearly prepared to go with her for now). We have an opportunity to take this organisation to the next level.

In the storeroom, Lois continues to spy on the meeting through the hole in the wall.

Toni: Out of the backroom into the boardroom. Any of you who disagree are welcome to join Johnny in retirement.

In the storeroom, an increasingly frustrated Lois tries to get closer.

Toni: Any questions?

The henchmen look at each other in silence. After a pause, Toni smiles.

Toni: Good. Let's get to work.

She opens a folder as, back in the storeroom, Lois replaces the crockery on the shelf and hastily leaves.

Cut to the Daily Planet newsroom. Clark sits at his desk, busily typing on his computer. He has a plate of food at his elbow. Lois rushes up, wearing a raincoat over her waitress outfit.

Lois: You haven't sent that article on the Toasters down to copy yet, have you?

Clark: I'm just putting the finishing touches on it, right now.

Lois sighs with relief. Clark looks at her and reaches for a chicken drumstick on his plate. He holds it up to her with raised eyebrows.

Clark: Drumstick?

Lois: (giving him a 'very funny' look) I swear, if you ever breathe a word of that to anyone…

Clark puts the drumstick back down on the plate with a grin.

Clark: You were saying something about the article?

Lois: Yes! Stop the presses. The Metros just had a big meeting. Johnny is out and like his sister, Toni, has taken over.

Caught up in her enthusiasm, she hurriedly takes off her raincoat and throws it on her chair.

Lois: Come on, if we hurry we can get it in the afternoon addition!

Clark (noticing what she's forgotten) Uh…Lois –

Lois: Clark, I'm on a deadline.

She stands at her desk in her waitress costume, busily writing on a notepad and, for the moment, oblivious to the fact that a small crowd of giggling staffers has gathered behind her. Jimmy passes by and gives her the once over.

Jimmy (to Clark): Professional, but naughty. I like it!

Lois glances at him, momentarily bewildered before the penny drops and she glances down at herself, startled. She turns to the giggling staffers, hands on hips and they scatter at her glare. She hastily covers herself with the raincoat as she sits down at her desk and gives Clark a dark look. Grinning, he gets to his feet and saunters on over. Lois ignores him, typing busily.

Clark: (leaning on her desk): So I guess if Johnny's out, so is your plan.

Lois: (looking up at him, puzzled): Don't be ridiculous. I'm perfectly placed.

Clark: (smugly) Well…I might be, too.

Lois: What are you talking about?

Clark: (straightening) Toni asked me to meet her at the club this afternoon.

Lois: For what?

Clark: Well…I'm a man…she's a woman… (Lois folds her arms, giving him a sardonic look as he repeats her earlier words back at her). Would you like me to draw you a diagram?

Perry comes up beside him. He looks Lois over with interest.

Perry: Lois. How's the…uh…undercover work coming?

Lois glances down at herself, then hikes the raincoat higher, trying to play it cool.

Lois: Fine, Chief. F-fine.

Perry: (beginning to grin) Well, I didn't think you would… (pause as he and Clark glance at one another)…chicken out on me.

He moves off, laughing as Lois looks disgruntled. Clark can't contain his laughter any longer, either. Lois gives Clark a dark glance, then sighs deeply as she returns to her typing. Men!

Cut to the interior of the empty Metro Club. Lou sits alone at a table as Toni arrives. She tosses a newspaper down on the table in front of him.

Toni: Since when is Metro business front page news?

Lou picks up the paper and begins to read the article, frowning.

Lou: Since the Toasters declared war on us.

On the other side of the room, Clark – back in his dockworker's disguise – slouches at the bar with a glass of whiskey as the bartender polishes glasses behind the bar. He listens to the conversation between Lou and Toni with his superhearing.

Toni: This says that Johnny is out and I'm the new head of the Metros. That kind of information could only come from inside. Could Johnny have leaked the story?

Lou: Uhuh. We put him on a plane, just like you said. With an escort.

Toni: Then it's someone else. Find him. Fast. We can't afford this kind of exposure.

The bartender approaches the table.

Bartender: Toni. It's the guy from last night. You said you wanted to see him?

All three glance over to where Clark stands at the bar. He stares back at them.

Toni: Send him over.

She continues to stare at Clark for a moment, a small smile hovering on her lips – until she spots Lou watching her. The smile vanishes as she jerks her head, indicating he should leave.

Toni: (a command) Lou…

He gets to his feet and leaves. The bartender returns to his spot behind the bar, hooking a thumb at Clark, in Toni's direction.

Bartender: You can see her.

Clark takes off his hat and approaches Toni.

Toni: I've changed my mind.

Clark: About what?

Toni: The dress code. It doesn't apply to men who save my life.

Clark: (smiling, charming) Well, good. Because these are the only clothes I've got.

Toni: (moving closer) Maybe we can change that.

Clark: I didn't come here for a handout. (he folds his arms.) You said you had a job for me?

Toni: Bartender…right? Mr…?

Clark: King. Charles King.

Toni: Charlie. Yeah, you look like a Charlie. You were very brave last night.

A jazz piano starts up in the background, playing a sultry tune.

Clark: (shrugging) You needed help.

Toni: Are you always that cool under fire?

Clark: Try me.

Toni: I might. (small pause) But for now… (she takes his arm, draws him towards the bar)…let's just start with bartending. Keep your eyes and ears open and we'll see about moving you up.

Clark: You're the boss.

Toni: I hope so.

Clark eyes her speculatively for a moment. Lou arrives.

Lou: Excuse me. I don't mean to…uh…disturb you, but we got a small problem. Toots just quit. Says she's too scared because of the Toasters to come back.

Toni: (coolly) Does she have a contract?

Lou: Yeah, of course.

Toni: Well then, sue the sequins off her and get us a new singer.

Lou: Done.

Clark (as Lou leaves): So…when do I start? Boss.

Toni: As soon as you get yourself a shave and something appropriate to wear. (She reaches into her blouse pocket and pulls out a wad of cash, begins peeling off notes. She hands him some.) Welcome to the Metro Club.

Clark takes the cash and slowly smiles.

Cut to the interior of a busy Metro Club. The band play a mellow tune. Lois winds her way through the tables, carrying a drinks tray and heads for the bar.

Lois (distracted as she dumps the empty glasses on her tray onto the bar counter): Soda, please.

Bartender: Coming right up.

It's Clark. Looking suave in a tux. He puts the drink on the counter. Lois jerks back as she recognises him, eyes widening.

Lois: Wha - ?!

She moves hastily to his side of the bar as he smiles at her.

Lois: What are you doing here?

Clark: My job. You're looking at the Metro Club's newest bartender.

He tweaks his bow tie with a smug grin. Lois sighs in frustration and disbelief. Toni comes up to the bar.

Toni: Charlie!

She looks impressed at how he cleans up. Lois folds her arms and repeats the greeting under her breath, a little more sardonically than Toni did.

Toni: I hardly recognised you.

Lois (sotto voice): Join the club.

Clark: (indicating Lois) Just getting to know the help.

Toni (archly): Not too well, I hope.

Clark smiles, Lois takes the hint.

Lois: Ah…

Clark: Beat it kid, I gotta get to work.

He slaps Lois on the butt as she picks up her drinks tray. Lois freezes for a moment, then rolls her eyes. He's going to pay for that later. Toni watches her leave, then focuses her attention on Clark as he mixes a cocktail.

Clark: (holding the drink out to her) Long Island Iced Tea with a squeeze of lemon. (He puts it on the counter in front of her).

Toni: (impressed) How'd you guess?

Clark: I asked.

Toni (picking up the drink): Initiative. I like that. Lou tells me you're having trouble with the freezer.

Clark: Ah…no problems.

He turns to take a tray of ice cubes from the small freezer behind the bar. The cubes are unfrozen. He uses his breath to freeze them and then turns back to the counter and empties them into an ice bucket.

Clark: You hear about the Toasters' latest stunt? (he puts ice into her drink) Burned down a police station about a couple of blocks from here.

Toni: Bad for business. (she shakes her head ruefully) They're out of control. They have to be stopped.

Clark: What are you gonna do about it?

Toni looks at him, raises a brow.

Clark: (hastily) Not…that it's any of my business. (pause) I just don't like anything dangerous getting too close to you.

Toni (smiling sardonically): That's quite a line you've got.

Clark: I mean every word.

Toni's smile widens, clearly she thinks he's flirting and she's enjoying it. She turns away to survey the room and we see Lex Luthor enter the club.

Luthor: (to the maitre'd): Good evening. Miss Taylor's expecting me.

Toni (turning back to Clark and putting her drink down on the counter) We'll talk some more about this later. Right now, you just stay there and look handsome. I've got some business to discuss.

Clark watches her go and his smile freezes, his eyes widen, as he spots Luthor. Hastily, he turns his back, makes himself busy, hoping Luthor won't spot him and recognise him. Toni greets Luthor at the door and ushers him to a table.

Toni: Welcome to the Metro Club.

Luthor: Thank you. I trust things are running smoothly, Miss Taylor?

They reach the table. Toni waits pointedly for Luthor to pull out a chair for her to sit. He does so, looking sardonically amused at her hint as he does. Over by the bar, Clark uses his super-hearing to eavesdrop on their conversation.

Toni: Everything's under complete control.

Luthor: Shall we talk over a drink?

Toni: Yes, I'd like to. (she notes, to her displeasure, that his attention is distracted as he checks out the room.) Luthor?

Luthor: Anything I should know about? New –

Toni: Don't you think it's better as a surprise?

Luthor: No, I don't. Ever.

Toni: I'm concerned about the Toasters.

Luthor: You want to talk business before we have a drink - ?

Concentrating on the conversation, Clark is taken completely by surprise as over on the other side of the club the band strikes up with a loud drumroll. Clark jerks back, cutting off his super-hearing abruptly as he grimaces and puts his hands to his ears. He shakes his head and taps at his ear, trying to restore his hearing.

Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Metro Club proudly presents…Miss Lola Dane!

A singer stands on the darkened stage, nothing more than a silhouette in the shadows, her back to the audience. She turns to face the room as she's presented. The house lights come up slowly to illuminate Lois, looking breathtakingly svelte and sexy in a long, silver-lame evening gown. She begins to sing the first few bars of a sultry ballad – "I've Got A Crush On You". Over by the bar, Clark frowns…he knows that voice. He turns his head to look at the stage.

Over by the table with Toni, Luthor, too, glances casually at the stage and does a double-take as he recognises Lois. He looks around the club, stunned, comes back to the stage – he can't believe what he is seeing.

Clark leans against the bar, absolutely captivated by Lois. A small smile of admiration spreads on his lips. Luthor glances speculatively at Toni – does she know that her torch singer is the Daily Planet's finest reporter?

On the stage, Lois continues her performance. She is enchanting. The epitome of sex and glamour, her voice soft and alluring as she sings to the crowd. This is a far cry from her last performance on the Metro Club's stage.

Luthor sips at his drink, his eyes fixed on her, clearly enthralled. Lois startles for an instant as her eyes light on him, then she recovers and continues, but her eyes dart to Clark at the bar, apprehensive. Clark notes the look and his smile fades. Frowning, catching her concern, he glances over to Luthor, remembering suddenly that he is there. Noting the way that Luthor is watching Lois, his expression becomes worried. Is Luthor going to blow her cover? Lois gets back into her stride and continues the song. She finishes to cheers of acclaim, cries of "bravo", "brava" and wild applause.

Luthor shakes his head in slowly in admiration. Lois takes her bows as Luthor applauds as enthusiastically as the rest. He picks up a red rose from the table's centrepiece and throws it to her.

Luthor: Brava!

Lois catches the rose, startled. Then she smiles at him. Clark hastily leaves the bar as Lois backs off the stage, nodding her thanks to Luthor for the rose (and his silence) as calls for an encore ring in her ears.

Customer #1 : One more time!

Customer #2: Come on! One More!

Clark pushes through the curtain and into the dressing room, looking around anxiously for Lois. He spots her standing in the corridor, outside.

Clark: Lois!

Lois (putting a hasty finger to her lips) Shhhhh! (she gestures him towards her).

Clark hurries to reach her, bumping into a couple of chorus girls in feathered costumes on the way. Lois ushers him with her into the storeroom.

Lois: Come here.

They quickly enter the room and Clark closes the door behind them.

Clark (anxious) Did you see him?

Lois: (impatient) Of course I saw him.

Clark: Well, get out of here, now! Don't even stop to get your things –

Lois: Lex Luthor is a friend of mine. He wouldn't do anything to hurt me and besides he's way too smart to let anything slip.

Clark: I don't trust him. And what's he doing here, anyway?

Lois: I don't know! Next time I see him, I will ask him!

Clark shakes his head, frustrated, and his expression changes, distracted as he spots something over her shoulder.

Clark: Oh…

He moves past her and starts to pull crockery from the shelf, revealing the spy hole in the wall behind them.

Clark: So this is how you spied on the meetings.

He puts his eye to the hole. Lois pats him on the back, wryly.

Lois: Yes, and if you're a good boy, I'll teach you some of my other tricks. But, right now, I have to get ready for my next act.

She turns to go, Clark follows her as she pulls open the storeroom door – and jerks back, startled as she finds Toni Taylor standing on the other side. Clark comes up to stand as Lois's shoulder as Toni stares at them in surprise.

Toni: Interesting place for a bartender. Run out of olives?

Clark hesitates for a moment, flummoxed, then frowns and grabs Lois by the shoulders.

Clark: Here she is – your leak! Lois Lane, reporter for the Daily Planet!

Lois looks at him, aghast, mouth opening on a silent protest as she begins to struggle in his grip.

Toni: I guess I'm going to have to find myself another singer. Good work.

Clark: What do you want me to do with her?

Toni smiles and jerks her head towards the door. Lois glares at Clark, who sticks with his role.

Clark: (brusquely) Come on.

He manhandles her through the storeroom door.

Cut to the alley behind the Metro Club. The outer door opens and we see Clark carrying a struggling Lois over his shoulder, her feet kicking.

Lois: You will pay for this, Kent, I swear!

Clark (slapping her lightly on the butt, as he looks around, trying to think where to put her – probably that doesn't allow her to get in any retaliation when he lets her go) It's King, remember.

Lois: Benedict Arnold is more like it.

The door behind them opens again and Lou looks out.

Lou: Get that trash out of here.

He stands watching, as Clark strides off with Lois.

Clark (low-voiced): I had no choice.

Lois (equally low-voiced): You had a choice. You could have pretended that we were sharing some fleeting moment of passion, but you didn't think of that, did you? No!

Clark: (through gritted teeth) No, but I'll remember it next time we're in a closet.

He stops by some dumpsters. Lois has ceased struggling, resigned to having to play out the roles Clark has made for them, what with Lou still watching from the door. Clark uses his x-ray vision to see what's in the first of the dumpsters. It appears to be dry waste – wood, paper etc. Lois sighs in frustration as she waits. Clark checks out the second dumpster – a much less attractive proposition, full of rotting food waste, slimy and wet. Clark smiles, opens up the lid of the second dumpster. Lois, glancing over his shoulder, suddenly realises his intentions.

Lois: (a low growl) Don't even think about it.

Clark: It's for your own good. Believe me.

Lois: No! Nooooo!

The second protest becomes a shriek as Clark unceremoniously tips her over his shoulder to land on her back in the dumpster.

Clark: (still playing to Lou) And stay out!

Lois struggles among the mess to sit as Clark heads back for the door. Lou looks at him in satisfaction.

Lou: Guess we won't be hearing from her no more.

He heads back into the club, shutting the door behind him. Clark pauses to glance back ruefully at the dumpsters.

Clark: Speak for yourself.

As he makes to enter the club, Lois grabs a rotting melon and hurls it at him. Clark snags it out of the air, without looking, and turns to look at her. Lois looks taken aback that he caught it. Clark tosses the melon in an over-arm shot into the trash can nearby and grins at Lois before entering the club. Thoroughly frustrated, Lois slumps back into her bed of rotting food with a groan.

Cut to Clark's apartment. A gas burner roars into flame as he sets a kettle on it to boil. He's still wearing the pants and white shirt, minus bow tie and open at the neck, from his tux. He begins to spoon tea into a mug and looks up as his apartment door bursts open. Lois – still dressed in her Lola Dane silver gown - slams it behind her and comes storming down the stairs.

Lois: You rotten, backstabbing piece of slime! (She's in his face as he stands with folded arms, facing her mildly) You know, some people might be fooled by that innocent, boyish exterior, but not me! (She pokes him in the chest for emphasis) Not any more! (She pokes him again)

Clark (faintly amused): Tea, Lois? (He indicates the cup) It's a calming, herbal blend. I learned it from a medicine man in Fiji. The secret is the fresh mint –

Lois (not about to be distracted from her pique): I don't suppose that you care, but you have completely blown the story!

Clark: Lois, I had no choice! Now Toni will stop looking for a leak. At least my cover's still safe.

Lois: (throwing up her arms in frustration) Oh, well, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Clark: (slightly irritated now) You know, sometimes, on a team, the person carrying the ball gets hemmed in and she has to hand off to another member of the team who's in a better position to score.

Lois folds her arms, listening to his defence with scepticism. But before she can respond there's a knock at the door. Clark pulls down his glasses, using his x-ray vision to see who's there. To his dismay, it's Toni. She's carrying a bag of groceries. Clark pushes up his glasses.

Clark: (quickly) You'd better go. She's here.

Lois: Who? (she puts her hand on her hips, challenging) How'd you know who it is?

Clark: Because I'm expecting a…dinner…date. (pause) Toni.

Lois: Oh! I get it. You don't have to draw me a diagram.

Clark (surprised, folding his arms as a slow smile begins) You're jealous.

Lois: Jealous? (she laughs) Are you out of your mind?

Clark, enjoying the moment, is jolted by the sudden remembrance that Toni is still waiting outside the door.

Clark: (hastily) You'd better hide, Lois. She can't see you here. You'd better hide.

He starts to hustle Lois into the bedroom. She resists.

Lois: I don't wanna hide!

Clark: Look, I'll find some way to distract her and then you sneak out.

He pushes her around the corner of the bedroom wall. She immediately pops out again, with a frustrated growl, batting at him with her hands. Clark pushes her back in and points a warning finger at her – a silent command. Stay! Reassured she'll stay put, he goes to open the door.

Toni: Once again, I'm in your debt. I thought I'd pay you back with a home-cooked meal. How does lasagne sound.

Clark: (enthusiastic) Delicious!

Peeking out from behind the wall, Lois rolls her eyes skyward and silently and sarcastically repeats that. Clark gestures Toni into the apartment and closes the door behind them as she moves down the stairs, looking around.

Toni: Nice place.

Clark: Uh, it belongs to a friend of mine. He lets me stay here whenever I'm in Metropolis.

Following her to the kitchen area, Clark glances at Lois and waves her to stay where she is. Lois folds her arms and leans against the wall beside her, scowling. Toni puts the grocery bag on the kitchen counter and starts to unpack it as Clark moves up close at her shoulder, hands in his pockets.

Clark: You know, you don't have to do this.

Toni: I want to.

Clark: You always get what you want?

Toni: (attention still on the groceries) Not always. How about you?

Clark: Let's see.

He takes hold of her, spins her gently around and, as she gasps, startled, dips her. Toni's arm wraps around his neck as she surrenders to his kiss. Across the room, from her hiding place, Lois's jaw drops as she watches. Still kissing Toni, Clark waves a hand in Lois's direction, indicating she should leave now. Disgruntled, Lois tiptoes for the door. Clark waves her on and she leaves, closing the door softly behind her as he ends the kiss. Toni looks up at him, slightly dazed.

Toni: You don't waste any time, do you?

Clark: Not if I can help it.

They smile at each other.

Clark: You said something about lasagne?

Cut to Lois's darkened apartment as the door is opened and Lois enters. She thumps her keys down and hops on one foot as she pulls off a shoe and tosses it to the floor.

Lois: Jealous! Hah!

She pulls off the second shoe and it follows the first to the floor as she heads for the bedroom, unzipping her gown as she goes. An ironic jazz theme follows her as she goes.

Lois: Hell, that'll be the day!

She emerges into the kitchen, dressed in a ratty robe, obviously designed more for comfort than style, and still wearing her dangling, glitzy, silver earrings.

Lois: Like I really care!

She yanks open the refrigerator, pulls out a carton of ice-cream with spoon already stuck in it and plops down on a chair at the kitchen table, her expression defiant. She takes a first spoonful of the ice-cream and her face crumbles into despair.

Lois (tearfully): I am jealous!

She gestures in disbelief that this can be happening to her and puts the spoon back in her mouth. A knock comes at the door and she frowns. Still carrying the tub of ice-cream and with the spoon dangling from her mouth she opens the door…

…to reveal Lex Luthor, dashingly handsome in his tuxedo, leaning up against the doorframe.

Luthor: Let's do it.

Lois (startled and distorted around the spoon in her mouth) I beg your pardon? (she pulls the spoon clear)

Luthor: A song request. Let's do it…(he clicks his fingers in tune, swaying slightly to the music in his head and sings the next line) Let's fall in love…

Lois: Ah, my singing career is over.

Luthor: (surprised) Why? You were magnificent.

Lois: (embarrassed, but pleased) Oh, it was just an act.

Luthor: No, I prefer to think of it as the real you. Passionate…sultry…(Lois stares at him)…seductive…

He looks her up and down with this last and Lois's expression changes as she realises she's dressed in a tatty robe. She looks up at him, dismayed, and he chuckles. He dips a finger into the ice-cream tub.

Luthor: So… You got an extra spoon?

He pops the finger seductively into his mouth to lick off the ice-cream coating it. Lois laughs, still a little embarrassed, and gestures him into the apartment.

Lois: Oh…ah…come in.

Luthor enters and stands just inside the doorway, the very picture of cool sophistication, completely at ease as he examines the room. Behind him, Lois – decidedly less comfortable – stands with her back to the closed door, cradling the ice-cream tub to her chest.

Luthor: Ah, it's exactly as I pictured your apartment.

Embarrassed, Lois makes a beeline for the kitchen, hastily picking up dropped shoes as she goes.

Lois: Oh, well, ah, actually…I was thinking of remodelling.

She opens the refrigerator door as Luthor follows her into the kitchen. He stands in the doorway, watching in amusement as she shoves ice-cream and shoes into the refrigerator and slams the door shut. She leans back against the refrigerator door and runs a quick hand through her hair.

Lois: Ah, thanks for not blowing my cover.

Luthor: Well, that's what friends are for. (he walks towards her) Tonight, you looked as though you could use one.

Lois's embarrassment and ill-at-ease air fades as she focuses on business. She folds her arms and frowns at him.

Lois: Lex…what were you doing at the club?

Luthor: (confessing, slightly abashed) I was meeting with the new leader of the Metro gang. She called me and, according to her, we have similar interests in the West River district.

Lois: Oh, I find that hard to believe.

Luthor: Well, so do I. But she talks a good line. Slum clearance, uplifting the neighbourhood, micro-management, growth and prosperity…

Lois nods, he's preaching to the choir and she's on board with his version of events.

Lois: Do you believe her?

Luthor: Not for a minute. In fact, I think the whole thing was designed to get me to slow down my own plans for reviving the area.

Lois (sucked in completely now): Oh.

Luthor: She even suggested a… (he moves in closer, with a slow, sultry smile) …partnership. Of sorts.

Lois laughs uncertainly, back to ill-at-ease, now that he's so close. She moves into the living-room, clutching the neck of her robe tighter around her. He follows close at her back.

Lois: Lex…what are you doing here?

She turns to face him.

Luthor: I came to…warn you. I think Toni's hiding something.

Lois (shrugging): What?

Luthor: I wish I knew. I only know that if I were a smart reporter looking for answers, looking for the source of all the problems in West River, I wouldn't look any farther than Toni Taylor.

Lois nods, smiling. This is exactly what she wants to hear. It agrees so neatly with her own theories on Toni Taylor. Plus, she's not averse to hearing that she's a smart reporter.

Lois: Thanks for the tip. Guess I owe you one.

Luthor: Well, don't think I won't try to collect.

He leans in towards her mouth. Lois holds her breath, but at the last instant he shifts slightly and kisses her cheek. Lois looks up at him and giggles uncertainly.

Luthor: Good-night.

He strolls for the door as Lois looks after him, dewy-eyed.

Cut to the balcony outside Clark's apartment. A table has been set for two, candles glow among an empty wine bottle and the remnants of a meal. Clark leans on the balcony rail, his back to the street. Toni stands close besides him, her hands resting on the rail. Behind them, sirens wail, loud before fading into the distance.

Clark: You are a great cook.

Toni: (laughing dismissively) My father's idea of a higher education was a summer at the Cordon Bleu.

Clark: I thought you went to business school.

Toni: (hesitating slightly) I did. After he died. (pause) I really miss him. The only thing I ever wanted was to have him be proud of me.

Clark: I'm sure he would have been. You're…picking up where he left off.

Toni: Only after my brother almost ruined us. He just never thought big enough.

Clark: (amused) Unlike you.

Toni: (smiling) Look, Charlie, I don't want to run a crime syndicate. I want to run a conglomerate. We have the organisation and the structure for legitimate business.

Clark: Sounds like a good plan.

Toni: (sobering) If I can just get past this thing with the Toasters.

Clark: (serious, too) You will. (pause) With my help.

Toni: (turning to look at him) Maybe. But not tonight. (she runs her hand across the buttons of his shirt as he looks disappointed) I have a…previous engagement. Disappointed?

Clark: It just…gives me something to look forward to.

Toni (shaking her head with a smile) You're full of surprises, Charlie.

She kisses him on the cheek and leaves.

Cut to the outside of Clark's apartment. It's night, dark and shadowed on the stairs to the street. Toni emerges from his apartment and closes the door behind her. As she heads down the stairs a shadowed figure steps cautiously out from where it's been hiding around the corner of Clark's apartment. It's Lois. Dressed casually with a light gray raincoat on top, she stealthily follows Toni.

Cut to the West River district, outside the West River Garment Company warehouse. A poster on the wall advertises the new coming development of Lex-Harbor. A man in a shabby raincoat walks past. He stops, holding out a hand as Toni passes by.

Beggar: Spare change?

Toni ignores him, not even breaking stride. She is carrying a briefcase.

Beggar (sarcastically): Thank you, too.

Toni reaches a door which carries a warning "Keep Out" sign on it that the warehouse has been condemned and is in a dangerous condition. Yellow tape marked "Caution" stretches across the door. Ignoring these warnings, Toni ducks under the tape, opens the door and goes inside.

Across the street, Lois stands watching the doorway into which Toni has vanished. Looking around her, cautiously, she quickly crosses the street and pauses at the entrance to the warehouse.

Inside the warehouse, Toni makes her way through a clutter of burned mannequins. Suddenly, a man dressed all in black jumps into view from higher up, landing right behind her. As she turns quickly to view him, two more men in black appear. The three converge and quickly grab her by the shoulders as a fourth man, wearing a bandana, comes to stand in front of them.

Toni (exasperated) Is this really necessary?

Toaster's Leader: You got the money?

Toni: (holding up the briefcase) One hundred-thousand.

Toaster #1: (from behind her) You said two!

Toni: (turning her head slightly to view him as Lois appears in the shadows of the warehouse. Lois listens as Toni replies) Considering how badly you botched the hit of my brother you're lucky I'm even here. (to their leader) Do you realise I could have been killed?

Leader: (not terribly concerned) Uh…yeah, that would have been a real shame.

The Toasters laugh as Lois creeps closer to the group.

Toni: Just don't forget who's running this show.

Lois gasps slightly as she brushes against a mannequin, setting it rocking before she steadies it. But neither the Toasters nor Toni hear.

Toni: The fires were supposed to stop as soon as I took over. What do you think you've been doing?

Toaster #1: Having fun?

The Toasters laugh again.

Toni: The fun stops now. I want the toasters back.

The leader steps forward suddenly, smacking his hand hard against Toni's fingers where they clutch the briefcase. She cries out in pain and recoils, shocked.

Leader: I don't think so. (he pulls the briefcase from her) We kinda decided to…hold on to them, for a while.

Toni: (struggling in the Toasters' grip) Listen, punk –

Leader: No, you listen to me for a change! You and the Metros, you're nothing. We could wipe you out just by pulling the trigger.

Toni: I made you.

Leader: (sarcastic) And we are so grateful. (he laughs) Wrap her up.

Toni laughs as the Toasters start to drag her away.

Toni: (taunting) The four of you against the Metros? You don't have a chance!

Lois stands behind the camouflage of a wooden staircase, peering through the steps.

Leader: Why just four? Why not forty? Four hundred? Recruiting's a snap. Plenty of guys love to see things burn.

Toni: You don't have the weapons.

Leader: Not yet. But we'll figure out how to make more. We're not as dumb as you may think.

A clatter from elsewhere in the warehouse distracts their attention. Silently, the Toasters' leader signs for his men to take their weapons and investigate. Two of them move out stealthily into the warehouse, firing up their flamethrowers, exploring the area where Lois was last seen. One of them glances up the staircase, where Lois is now hiding. She ducks back further into the shadow and he moves on. Pressed up against the brick wall at the top of the stairs, Lois warily watches them leave. They return to their leader.

Leader: Anything?

Toaster #1: Nah. You wouldn't believe how big the rats get around here.

Toni: (giving them a disparaging look) No, I'd believe it. What now? What about me?

Leader: Well, we got a little barbecue planned for tomorrow. (he puts his hands on her shoulders, ignoring her as she tries to jerk free) We thought we'd start at the wharf… (he manoeuvres her around and forces her to sit on a nearby chair)…and work our way back up to the Metro Club. When we're done with that, we'll get back to you. (pause, then he leans abruptly close) If the rats don't get to you first!

He flicks his tongue at her, then laughs. The other Toasters join in.

Leader: (to Toaster #1) Keep an eye on her.

Toaster #1: Mmmm-hmmmm.

He takes up position in front of her, hefting his flamethrower across his chest, as the others leave.

Lois begins to rise to her feet, intending to follow them, then freezes with a low gasp. Not far away, a rat sits on its haunches and stares back at her, whiskers twitching as it bars her way. Lois slumps against the wall.

Cut to the warehouse some hours later. Daylight filters through the windows. Lois is curled up against the wall, asleep.

Toaster #1: All right. I see you and I'm gonna get you before you cause any more trouble.

Lois jerks awake and shies back as she sees Toaster #1 at the bottom of the stairs, looking up and priming his flamethrower. He continues his threats as Lois peers over the top of the stairs at him.

Toaster #1: Your little tail is mine.

A clatter nearby and the sound of squeaking has him suddenly leaping onto the lower rungs of a ladder as he anxiously scans the floor. As Lois continues to watch, he jumps back down and leaps into another room, acting out an action hero movie, as he hunts more rats. Lois hastily takes advantage of his distraction, heading down the stairs.

Cut to Clark's apartment. Early morning sunlight brightens the main living space. Clark, dressed in sleep shorts and t-shirt and blinking blearily as he puts on his glasses, heads up the stairs in response to loud, urgent knocking at the front door. He opens it to find Lois on the other side.

Clark: Lois? What's up?

She looks him up and down, sardonically.

Lois: Tough night, Clark? (not waiting for an answer) Where's the phone?

Clark (indicating as she pushes past him and heads down the stairs) It's right there.

He follows her into the living space as she picks up the phone and urgently dials. He starts to brush at the back of her raincoat.

Clark: See, I thought I was hard on clothing.

Lois (slapping his hand away impatiently) Would you stop that?!

Clark stops smiling as her urgency finally starts to register and he realises this is something more than just normal Mad Dog Lane.

Lois (into phone) Yes, get me whoever is in charge of the Arson Investigation Unit. (pause) No, I won't hold. I said I –

She groans and rolls her eyes as she's ignored and put on hold.

Clark: What's happened? Where were you?

Lois (sighing in frustration) Sleeping with a rat. How about you?

Clark: Lois, Toni left here about 10.

Lois: Yeah, I know. (into phone) Yes, I'm holding. No, don –

Clark (frowning) How…how do you know?

Lois: Because I followed her. Clark, this is gonna come as a shock to you but Toni is behind the Toasters. Well, she was behind the Toasters. Now they've got her held captive.

Clark: (thoroughly confused) What?

Lois: The Toasters are completely out of control. They are planning on burning West River to the ground, starting with the wharf and moving inward. Unless that is… (she hefts the phone, grimacing in frustration)…someone picks up this rotten line!

Sirens begin to sound outside the apartment – a lot of sirens. Clark hastily moves to the TV and turns it on as Lois continues to growl into the phone.

Reporter on TV (from news helicopter): Uh, we are now over what appears to be, to this reporter, the largest fire –

Clark turns to Lois.

Clark: Lois, put down the phone. (turning back to the TV as she stares at him) You won't get through.

On the TV screen, a fires rages, as the news helicopter hovers above. Lois stares in dismay as she shuts off the phone.

Reporter: As of yet, I can see no fire apparatus on the scene –

Lois: (putting down the phone) I'm going to the police station. They need to know what they're up against. (she heads for the stairs) Meet me at the Planet.

Reporter: Let me swing around here –

Lois (pausing on the stairs to look back at the TV) Superman, I hope you're out there.

Clark responds to that with a glance at her as she heads out the door.

Reporter: Terence Baker for LexCom News…

Clark pulls off his glasses and takes off his t-shirt.

Cut to the burning West River district and a scene of chaos. Buildings and cars are ablaze as the rampaging Toasters whoop and holler their way through the street, burning everything in their path as they stroll along in a tightly-spaced row.

Toaster Leader (gesturing them to a halt) Gentlemen! I'd like to propose a toast!

He taps the barrel of his flamethrower against the barrel of the one carried by his colleague and then points it at a car parked across the street.

Leader: Let's cook!

They fire their flamethrowers at the car, which explodes in a ball of fire. The Toasters whoop in delight, then fall quiet as they spot Superman standing just a few feet away.

Superman: You know what they say about people who play with fire.

Leader: Yeah! They get burned!

The Toasters fire at Superman. His cape catches fire. He puts it out with slaps of his hands as the Toaster leader watches, laughing.

Superman (angrily): It's about time someone cooled you guys off.

He directs a blast of ice-cold breath at them, instantly freezing them in place, where they stand.

Leader (with difficulty as his face and jaw are frozen): Hey…you can't leave us like this!

Superman: The police are on their way. I'm sure they'll have a nice…toasty…cell waiting for you.

Cut to the garment warehouse. Its door creaks open and footsteps echo, approaching Toni as she sits, tied to a chair. She looks around anxiously, then smiles.

Toni: Well. It's about time.

Luthor looks at her with a sardonic smile.

Luthor: How the mighty have fallen.

Toni: Save the speeches. Just untie me.

Luthor: No, I don't think that would do either of us much good.

Toni: We had a deal.

Luthor: No, we had a plan. (He walks closer, circling to stand in front of her). Although, it seems to have turned out a little bit better for me than it did for you. I was able to pick up all the real estate I need for Lex Harbor, at – shall we say – fire-sale prices, thanks to the Toasters. Whereas, you, my dear, you had it all in the palm of your hand – the Metros, West River, the future as a legitimate entrepreneur – and you got careless. (He removes a pristine white handkerchief from his pocket and spreads it on a crate, then sits.) You let a reporter come between you and an empire.

Toni: I'll tell everyone you're behind the Toasters.

Luthor: No, I don't think you'll do that. You're intelligent. You know that my power extends well beyond the normal reach, even to Metropolis's women's prison. No, Toni, you'll take the blame, you'll do your time, I'll keep my eye on things here in West River, and when they let you out, maybe I'll let you back into the game.

Toni: You're a dangerous man, Lex. I never realised how dangerous until now.

Luthor: Well, thank you, my dear. Thank you very much. (he gets to his feet, heading for the door. He turns back briefly.) And…welcome to big business.

Toni looks disgusted as he leaves.

Cut to Superman flying over the city, to where heavy storm clouds gather and lighting flashes in the air. He stops in the middle of the storm and blows the clouds towards the garment district. Rain begins to fall on West River, to the relief of fire crews.

Cut to the warehouse. Toni struggles with her bonds, then stops, surprised, as she sees Clark making his way towards her.

Toni: How'd you find me?

Clark (crouching to untie her ankles) I had a tip.

Toni: (as he moves around behind her to untie her hands) We've got to get out of here before the Toasters come back.

Clark: Uh, Superman already took care of that.

Toni stands up and he moves to stand in front of her. She puts a hand to his shoulder, smiling.

Toni: Looks like you came through for me.

Clark (reprovingly): Looks like you let me down.

They look up briefly as lightning flashes and thunder roars outside the building.

Toni: I had to create a situation that would allow me to take over the Metros. There was no other way.

Clark: There's always another way.

Toni: (soothingly as she puts both hands on his shoulders and begins to slide them down his chest, seductively) Oh, Charlie…please…

Clark: My name's not Charlie. (she pauses) It's Clark Kent. I work at the Daily Planet.

Toni: (with a rueful smile) I guess both of us were hiding the truth.

Clark (softly) Yeah.

Toni: (hopeful) So…what happens now?

She stops smiling as sirens sound in the distance, approaching the warehouse. Clark follows her glance, regretfully.

Clark: (resolutely) I think you know.

Toni (putting her hand to his cheek and recovering her smile) Can I…talk you out of it?

Clark looks away, sighing. Toni gives up, removing her hand.

Toni: I guess not. I'll miss you, Charlie.

More thunder and lightning sound outside as she turns and walks to meet the police when they arrive. Clark follows.

Cut to Luthor's penthouse. He stands at the window, its panes sheeted in heavy rain, as he speaks on the phone, a smoking cigar in his other hand.

Luthor: Every parcel on the list. Excellent. Let's move directly to phase two. (he turns his back on the window, waving the cigar expansively in the air) I'd like to break ground on Lex Harbor sometime next month. (a pause) Well, I wouldn't worry about that. Toni Taylor and I have an arrangement. The weapons? Destroy them. The plans, too. Should we ever have to revive the Toaster technology, it should be…easy enough.

He clicks off the phone, puts the cigar to his mouth and looks at the model of Lex Harbor. He blows a cloud of smoke across its miniature landscape.

Cut to the Daily Planet newsroom. Lois stands at the photocopier/printer station looking through a file as Clark comes in to stand behind her.

Clark: Hi.

Lois: Where have you been? (she puts the file down and turns to him with a smug expression) I already finished the story.

Clark (standing with his hands in his pockets, relaxed): Well, save room for a sidebar on Toni Taylor. I've just been saying goodbye.

Lois: (smirking as she heads for her desk) A touching farewell, I suppose.

Clark (following her) She wasn't all bad.

Lois: Well, nobody's all bad, Clark. Or all good. (she pauses, then smiles dreamily) Except Superman.

Clark (wryly): Naturally.

Lois: Superman, for example, would not have tried to cut me out of the story by ratting on me to the opposing team. (she folds her arms as he looks at her, amused). It's a good thing I got myself back in the game and scored the winning touchdown.

Clark: Well, sometimes the quarterback has to fake a throw to his primary receiver in order to free up his secondary target –

Lois: I'm getting really tired of fumbling around with all these football metaphors.

Clark: Me, too. I pass.

Lois: Let's drop the ball. Okay?

Clark: (grinning) Okay. But tell me, honestly, (he sits on the desk edge and looks up at her challengingly) you weren't the slightest bit jealous of me and Toni Taylor?

Lois (smiling as she folds her arms and sits beside him) You'd like that, wouldn't you? Me, home alone in a schlumpy robe, crying into a tub of Rocky Road. (she shakes her head) In your dreams, Kent. In… your…dreams.

Clark smiles as we


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