By Molly P. Flynn (MizMollee@aol.com)
Summary: After he finishes beating himself up for letting Lois -- as Wanda Detroit -- leave with Lex Luthor, Clark sets out to find her, enlisting help from Jimmy and Starr. A humorous continuation of the episode "Double Jeopardy."
Here is a little something I wrote to amuse myself in the week between DOUBLE JEOPARDY and SECONDS. Feedback, as always, welcome! [Characters in this story are copyrighted by December 3rd Production, Warner Brothers, and ABC. No infringement is intended in any part by the author; however, the ideas expressed within this story are copyrighted by the author.] ** [Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (D. Thomas)]
Clark Kent wondered if Superman was fast enough to kick himself in the butt.
First, it had taken him two days to realize he had married a clone instead of the woman he loved. Then he had foolishly, stupidly, believed Lex Luthor would help him find that woman.
And finally, Clark had simply let his woman leave with Lex.
True, he had been immobilized by Lois Lane's words to him, but that was no excuse. To allow anyone he loved to be with the slime that was Lex Luthor was unforgivable. Clark had let his love for Lois and his fear for her safety override his good sense.
*Well, it's not going to happen again* Superman thought as he absent-mindedly crushed cans with his bare hands at the Metropolis Recycling Center. He needed to physically work off some of his anger while he tried to figure out what to do.
"Superman, that's all the cans from today," the Center's foreman interrupted his reverie. "We really appreciate your help. It saves us a fortune in electric bills."
"Just doing my civic duty," Superman replied. "Are you sure there's nothing else I can do to help today?" He still felt destructive.
"Supes, you've already melted down all the glass and plastic for reuse. Really, we can close up early today. Thanks again."
Trying to be more gracious than he felt, Superman nodded at the foreman, then flew off. He needed to find Lois. He needed a plan to get Lois back.
"Clarkie, you're home."
Clark cringed as he remembered, too late, that the Clone was living in his apartment. It was not her fault, but she was not Lois. Other than being a physically exact copy, she did not come close to being Lois.
"Look," he said to the creature, "we have to figure out what we're going to do."
"But Clarkie," the Clone replied, "I already know what I'm going to do. I'm Mrs. Superman, and I'm going to stay Mrs. Superman."
"No," Clark said, "you're not."
"Oh, but I am. Or else the whole world will know your little secret." The Clone grinned impishly at him. "And you wouldn't want that now, would you?" The Clone popped a live frog into her mouth, swallowed, then licked her lips.
"I don't care anymore." Clark meant it. Without Lois, there seemed no point in anything. He turned and walked out of his apartment.
He meandered aimlessly, oblivious to the where he walked. He found himself in front of Lois' building. She had not given up the lease on her apartment because she had not yet moved all of her things to his place. *I can stay here,* Clark thought.
A few moments later, he wondered if staying there was not a mistake. Everything in the apartment spoke of Lois: her taste, her grace, her very essence. He wandered through the waiting rooms, touching objects as though he could repossess her through her possessions.
*Starr!* The name cut through the fuzz in his brain. The next thing he knew, he was pounding on Lois' neighbor's door.
"Clark!" Starr was surprised to see him. "No, let me guess."
The psychic closed her eyes. "Lois is stuck in Chicago...no, Detroit." Starr opened her eyes and squinted at Clark. "Why aren't you in Detroit with her?"
Clark seized Starr and hugged her. "That's it! May I use your phone?"
"Sure. Why aren't you in Detroit with Lois?"
Clark grinned at her. "Jimmy?" he said into the telephone receiver. "Can you copy Lois' novel to disc and bring it over to her old apartment? Stat? You can? Great! How long will it take you?" He hung up. "So Starr, ever use a computer?"
Jimmy Olsen knocked on the familiar door. There was something very odd going on with CK and Lois Lane, and although it appeared CK was losing it, Jimmy had a feeling the root cause was Lois.
The door swung open. Jimmy came face to face with Starr.
Clark snatched the computer discs from Jimmy's hand and thrust the first one into Lois' laptop. "Starr, I need you to read Lois' novel. It's very difficult to explain, but...Lois seems to think...she's living the fiction she wrote here. You've already picked up on Lois. She's not IN Detroit. She's calling herself Wanda Detroit."
Starr's eyes opened wide. She was uncharacteristically silent. "Lois has a headache," she said after a moment. "A real bad headache." Starr glanced at the computer screen. "Clark, you don't need a psychic to figure this out. Lois invented Wanda because you were ignoring her."
"I wasn't ignoring her," Clark protested.
"Lois created Wanda because you invalidated her," Starr maintained.
"Are you in touch with her now?"
"Oh, yeah. She's got a real bad headache, and she's giving off some powerful vibes."
Jimmy stared, his mouth hanging open.
Starr continued. "Wanda is Lois' response to your indifference."
"My indifference? I could NEVER be indifferent to Lois!"
"You musta done something to make her turn to Wanda," Starr reasoned.
"I didn't DO anything!"
"There ya go," Starr told him. "You didn't do anything."
"CK?" Jimmy's voice cracked.
Clark turned to his young friend.
"When Lois was so upset at the church, just before the wedding, you didn't do anything. She was talking crazy about strange presents and Lex Luthor, and you didn't do anything," Jimmy reminded him.
Clark felt like he had been slugged with kryptonite. He remembered.
Four nights before their wedding, Lois had called because she felt something was wrong. He had brushed her intuition away as bridal jitters. He had made lame excuses for the box of dead roses she had received. When the smashed wedding cake arrived with a menacing note, he had responded with a kiss before he flew off to India to deal with a tidal wave.
And the final "do nothing": Clark had stood by while Lois, now hiding as Wanda, drove off with convicted felon and known psychopath Lex Luthor.
Clark groaned and buried his face in his hands. Lois retreating into a fictional character she had created when angry with him made perfect sense. But it did not explain why Lois had willingly fled with Lex.
"Clark, Lois has an awful headache. Starr appeared to have slipped into a trance. "This Kent guy she's with..."
"Who?" Clark seized Starr by the shoulders. "Who is she with?"
"Somebody named Kent," Starr answered. "He keeps singing Rod Stewart songs to her."
"CK!" Jimmy was jumping. "Kent--that's the name of the other guy in Lois' novel."
"And Luthor heard you tell me that at my apartment. He must have told Lois HE was Kent." Clark's face was grim. "Which explains why Wanda went with him. Luthor probably coached her on what to say to me."
"Clark," Starr interrupted, "Lois has a headache. She wants a bottle of rain."
"Stay with her, Starr. Where are they? I need to know where they are."
"Moving across the water."
"What was that all about?" Jimmy asked Clark after Starr had gone.
"Lois...left with Lex," Clark told him. "Starr is a psychic.
She's usually close enough to the truth to be of help. And, speaking of help..."
"Hey, CK, I'm in," Jimmy assured his friend. "What about Superman? Could he help?"
"I'm going to try to get in touch with him soon. In the meantime, I need you to listen to some Rod Stewart CDs."
"Isn't Rod Stewart...dead?" Jimmy asked. Jimmy preferred Pearl Jam.
"Sometimes Starr's...static...means something. She mentioned Rod Stewart songs," Clark explained.
"Gotcha. Consider it done." Jimmy bolted out of the door.
Alone again, Clark racked his brain. *Moving across the water.
Does that mean Lex is taking Lois overseas?* There was so little for Clark to go on. He groaned in frustration.
Jimmy nodded off. The old fogies' music was putting him to sleep. He had come up with a couple of possibilities for Clark, but they were general: "Knowing that you lied, straight faced while I cried"; "You are my heart, you are my soul, you are my lover, you're my best friend". All of those lyrics could describe what Lois and Clark had shared. But Clark seemed to think there would be something Jimmy would recognize, some clue.
He put another CD in and hit the play button.
Two songs later he was sitting upright, wide awake. *This is it!* he thought excitedly. *Man, that Starr IS psychic. I wonder if she does personal readings?* He called Lois' apartment.
The phone rang in empty rooms. Superman was searching the country for Lois.
*I'll go over to CK's and wait for him there,* Jimmy thought.
The lights were on when Jimmy arrived. He knocked.
The Clone started at the pounding on the door. She swallowed two frogs in quick succession, then sauntered over to the door.
"Clarkie?" she inquired.
"Lois!" Jimmy was shocked. "Clark thinks you took off with Luthor. Boy, will he be relieved that you're here. I guess there's no reason for me to stay then, so I'll catch you later."
Jimmy turned to go.
"Wait," the Clone called out. "Jimmy. Clark's not here right now, and I'm...lonely. Keep me company?" The Clone ran her finger down the zipper of Jimmy's leather jacket.
*She's acting weird,* Jimmy thought. "Uh, sure, Lois," he stammered. He walked down the stairs into Clark's living room.
It looked as though a cyclone had been through the room. Photos of Lois with Clark had been torn in half. "Lois dies" was spray- painted on the side of Clark's new refrigerator.
"Lois?" Jimmy asked hesitantly.
The Clone shrugged. "We had a little spat. I'm not the wife he expected me to be," she replied.
Jimmy did not like the way she looked at him. "Uh, uh, Clark asked me to find a certain song for him," he said. The tension in the room was thick and dangerous. "Found it, too." He pulled the CD from his pocket. "Got it right here. Want to hear it?" Jimmy was desperate for distraction. Something was WRONG.
"Mmm," the Clone replied, smiling dreamily. "Okay."
"It's by this guy, Rod Stewart. Starr told Clark about it."
"Star? Clarkie talks to stars?" The Clone laughed. "Yes, I imagine he would."
"Your neighbor, Lois. The psychic."
"You know, not to change the subject or anything," the Clone said, "but, did I ever mention that I think you're cute?"
Jimmy felt the blood rush to his face. "Uh, yeah. The other day, at the Planet. You know, you're talking awfully funny for a newly married woman." His voice shook.
The Clone moved closer to Jimmy. "I told you, Jimmy, I'm not the wife Clarkie expected." She kissed Jimmy lightly on the mouth.
*Man,* Jimmy thought. *Lois has got really bad breath. Like a swamp.* He moved quickly to Clark's CD player and popped in the disc. "This is the song. It's called Broken Arrow. It's not bad for an old fogie."
The Clone followed him.
"Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow? Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain? There he goes, moving across the water. There he goes, turnin' my whole world around."
Rod Stewart sang.
"Jim-my," The Clone said, her voice husky. She pressed him against the bookcase. "Do you think I'm cute?"
Rod Stewart continued:
"Do you feel what I feel? Can we make it so that's part of the deal. I've got to hold you in these arms of steel. Lay your heart on the line, this time."
"I mean, do you think I'm really cute?" Her lips were a fraction of an inch from his.
*I'm gonna hurl,* Jimmy thought.
The Clone rubbed suggestively against Jimmy.
"Lois, this is not..." he started to say, but she cut off his words with a kiss.
Jimmy gagged. He shoved the Clone away from him. "I don't know what kind of sick game you're playing, Lois, but CK is my friend and you're his wife." Jimmy turned off the CD player and popped the disc back into the pocket of his leather jacket. "Right now, I don't even know why he's trying to find you." Jimmy stalked up the stairs, filled with disgust.
"Clarkie's looking for me?"
*She looks so innocent!* Jimmy thought. "He thinks you've run off with Lex Luthor."
"No, he doesn't," an authoritative voice boomed through the room.
Jimmy looked up to see Superman walk in from the balcony. "Whoa, Big Guy, am I glad to see you!" he welcomed the super-hero.
"Hi!" The Clone greeted Superman with delight.
Jimmy glared at her. *Is she putting the make on Superman, too?* he wondered.
"Did you offer your guest a snack?" Superman asked the Clone.
"No," the Clone pouted.
"Don't you think you should?" Superman goaded.
"No. They're mine!" The Clone seized an aluminum pot and clutched it to her chest.
"Weren't you taught to share?"
"No. I'm not sharing."
Jimmy raised an eyebrow, then looked at Superman.
"Why don't you show Jimmy what you were eating when he got here?" Superman strode across the room and wrested the pan away from the Clone.
"Those are mine!" she shrieked. "Give them back!" She pummeled Superman's chest.
"Here, Jimmy." Superman tossed the pot to him. "This might explain a lot."
Jimmy lifted the lid off the pan. It contained an inch or two of water, and frogs. Little green and gold dopple bufo frogs. The truth slashed through his brain. "She's a clone?"
"Give me those!" The Clone was on him again, this time trying to take the frogs.
Jimmy relinquished them, then backed away from the creature.
"You're a frog-eatin', freakin' clone."
The Clone took one of the frogs and swallowed it, closing her eyes with pleasure as the frog squirmed its way down her throat.
"Superman, we gotta help Clark find Lois." Jimmy still watched the Clone, his eyes filled with revulsion.
"We will, Jimmy. Clark thought you might have come here and asked me to send you to..." Superman glanced at the clone, "..to the place where you last met. He wants to know if you had any luck."
"Sure. Yeah. I'm on my way." Jimmy shot the Clone one last look of loathing, then slammed out of Clark's apartment.
What's taking Jimmy so long?* Clark wondered. He paced the length of Lois' apartment, pausing at the window on each pass.
Jimmy's Mustang was nowhere to be seen.
Clark had scoured the country. There had been no sign of Lex Luthor or Lois anywhere in the United States. He had been flying over his own apartment when he had spotted Jimmy and the Clone.
It had seemed like as good a way as any to let Jimmy know exactly what was going on. Clark had felt a twinge of guilt because he had to be cruel to the Clone, who in essence was innocent of any wrong doing. He shook off the sympathy. HE was the wronged party, not the Clone.
Clark's super-hearing heard Jimmy's car pull up to the curb outside Lois' apartment. He met Jimmy at the door.
Jimmy seemed subdued, embarrassed even. Clark thought he saw signs of tears on Jimmy's cheeks. "Superman told me you found the song Starr was talking about." Clark tried to hide his impatience. Jimmy was obviously upset about the Lois clone. He could not look Clark in the eye.
"Um, yeah, CK." Jimmy gave a little half shrug. "It's right here. The bottle of rain and everything. Moving across the water." He handed his friend the CD. "Cut three. 'Broken Arrow'.
Clark put the CD in its nest. Sad music filled the room.
"Who else is gonna to bring you a broken arrow? Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of wine? There he goes, moving across the water. There he goes, turnin' my whole world around.
Do you feel what I feel? Can we make it so that's part of the deal? I gotta hold you in these arms of steel. Lay your heart on the line this time. I'm gonna breathe when you breathe. When you whisper like that hot summer breeze. Count the beads of sweat that cover me. Didn't you show me a sign this time?"
"It's not rain," Clark said. "Starr got it wrong, so you heard it wrong. It's wine. Lois wants a bottle of wine."
"Do you see what I see? Can you cut behind the mystery? I will meet you by the witness tree. Leave the whole world behind. I wanna come when you call. I'll get to you if I have to crawl. They can't hold me with these iron walls. We got mountains to climb, to climb."
Clark sat, his head bowed, and his hands dangling uselessly between his knees.
"CK." Jimmy's voice cracked. His eyes were wet. "We gotta find Lois." Jimmy looked at Clark for the first time since he had arrived. "We gotta find her."
"We will," Clark responded with quiet conviction. "We're going to need Starr again."
"What about Superman?"
"He's...out now, looking," Clark replied. "He'll be there when we need him."
"That's the song!" Starr exclaimed when Clark played the cut for her. "That's the song Kent is playing for Lois."
"IS Kent playing it for her?" Clark asked.
"It's what she hears from him," Starr amended.
"It's what she hears," Starr further condensed her interpretation. "Clark, what's going on?"
Clark hesitated. "I don't want to tell you because I don't want your...senses...colored by what has happened. So far you've been almost 100 percent, Starr. And because you don't know what's going on, it becomes that much more valuable."
"Okay," Starr conceded.
"Is there anything else you can tell us."
"Clark, she's still got that headache." Starr slipped into a light trance. "It's getting worse. The altitude isn't helping at all."
"Altitude? What altitude?"
"The mountains they climbed."
"That's from the song, CK," Jimmy whispered. "Maybe we shouldn't have played the song for her."
Clark shook his head. "Starr, are you sure?" he asked the staring woman.
"Yes. Mountains. Iron walls, no windows. William and apples."
Jimmy looked at Clark, totally puzzled. Some of what Starr said was gibberish.
"William's son's headache is worse than Lois'," Starr continued. She was silent for a moment. "No!" she screamed suddenly, startling both Jimmy and Clark. "The arrow...the arrow...headache..." Starr keeled over.
Clark rushed to her side. "I think she fainted," he told Jimmy.
He tested the pulse in her neck. It was rapid, but strong.
Jimmy was on his feet, fists clenched at his sides. "This is too weird, CK."
Clark simply looked at his friend.
Jimmy sighed. "Okay. Okay." He sounded as though he were trying to convince himself. He walked over to Lois' lap top computer. "I'm going to make myself useful. Yes, that's what I am going to do," he muttered under his breath.
Clark turned his attention back to the unconscious psychic. He elevated her feet.
Starr began to stir. "What happened?" she asked, sitting up.
"You fainted. Whatever you saw seemed to frighten you, and you fainted," Clark explained.
"Well, he was shooting the arrow right at the kid's head!" Starr exclaimed. "And...splat! Talk about a headache!"
Jimmy was busy entering Starr's images into the computer. "CK," he said after a moment. "I think...I think we've got something."
He made another entry. "CK, it's time to get Superman," Jimmy said with a satisfied grin on his face. "Destination: the Swiss Alps."
Clark's head jerked up. "Across the water, mountains. William Tell, master archer, shooting an apple off his son's head. Swiss bank accounts."
"Swiss chocolate," Starr chimed in. "Lois should like that."
"It all adds up." Jimmy seemed pleased.
"Okay," Clark said. "We think we know where they are. There's just one more little detail we need to work out."
"What's that?" Jimmy asked.
"How do I convince "Wanda" of the truth?"
"That's easy!" Starr exclaimed. "Get rid of her headache."
Wanda Detroit awoke slightly disoriented. She had felt odd for days, ever since she had met Red Dixon and gone to work for Bibbo at the Ace O Clubs. Then Kent had reentered her life.
She had thought Kent's return would fill her with joy, would dispel the awful fog of apathy which had settled around her. It had not. Instead, her feeling of being askew had increased.
Still, she knew she loved Kent and had willingly fled with him after the confrontation with Clark.
*Clark.* Even the thought of his name sent a stab of pain through her skull.
Wanda sat up and looked around the room. It was furnished in a lush, overblown style. Musty velvets tried to hold the chill of the Alpine winter at bay, but served only to harbor the icy damp.
Kent's fortress in the mountains showed signs of money, big money, but it was an uncomfortable abode. The first thing Wanda hated about it was its lack of windows. "I thought you hated the sun," Kent had patiently explained. "With your career singing in night clubs, I would think the sun would be the last thing you would want to see." Wanda did not press the issue.
There were other, more disturbing things about the building, starting with its occupants.
Kent. Wanda tried to summon up the passion she knew she should feel for him, but there was nothing. The thought of his touch made her skin crawl. "You've been ill, my love," Kent had reasoned, when she turned him from her bed. "I understand. I'll give you all the time you need to recover."
*It'll be a cold day in hell,* Wanda thought, "or a hot day in Iceland, whichever comes last.* She lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. Twin plumes of smoke drifted from her nostrils.
There were the creepy, silent servants. At first, she had attributed their sullen attitudes to her own tawdry appearance.
After a day or two, Wanda had realized that they were not truly servants, had never been servants. Servants do not go about armed. Chambermaids do not carry hypodermic needles.
Wanda's biggest complaint was that there was nothing to do. The library was filled with books, but Wanda Detroit was not a reader. The satellite dish on the roof of the fortress pulled in television shows in German, Italian and French, but no English.
Kent would not let her leave the building, so she could not find a village tavern in which to sing her blues. If she tried to explore the fortress, she was followed by a menacing footman sporting an uzi.
*Maybe I'll write my life's story,* she thought. *The True and Amazing Adventures of Wanda Detroit.* Another bolt of agony shot through her head. *Then again, maybe I won't.* Wanda picked up a deck of playing cards. *Cigarettes and solitaire. What more could a girl want?*
Clark was in a bind.
Superman and Clark could not go to Switzerland together. Clark needed both Starr and Superman to help him locate Lois--Superman for his physical abilities and Starr for her telepathy. He thought he came up with a perfect solution. "Superman will fly Starr to Switzerland," he explained to Jimmy and Starr. "I'll catch a plane and meet them there."
"Why can't Superman fly all three of us over?" Jimmy asked. He wanted to help Clark find Lois.
*Jimmy, my friend,* Clark thought, *I'm going to have to find something to occupy you.* Clark was certain he could pull off the Clark/Superman disappearing act with Starr; it would be too difficult with Jimmy along. Clark knew he would be too preoccupied to consider every little detail of his charade. "His cape can only shield one other person at a time," Clark lied, "and Superman flies at such a speed that anyone with him needs the added protection of his cape."
Jimmy believed. "Okay, I'll fly over with you."
"Do you have a current passport?" Clark asked.
"Uh...no. I guess that's a problem, huh."
"Guess so." Clark tried to sound sorry. He turned to the psychic. "Starr, can you dress a little more warmly than what you're wearing? I'll try to get in touch with Superman."
"CK?" Jimmy held out his hand. "Good luck. I wish I were going".
Clark brush Jimmy's hand aside and embraced him. "Thanks."
Superman hovered outside the balcony of Clark's apartment. He watched the Clone try on her new wardrobe and eat frogs. His initial revulsion had passed. The only emotion he felt for her was pity. He did not know what to do about her. He could not destroy her, nor could he let anyone else do it. But she could not remain. Her knowledge made her too dangerous to allow loose in his and Lois' world. If he and Lois HAD a world...
Superman swooped in through the open window. "We need to talk," he said to his wife.
"Clarkie! Oh, Superman." The Clone grinned idiotically. "What do you think?" She twirled about in her latest retro-sixties outfit.
"We need to talk," Superman repeated.
"You're not happy?" The Clone paused, looking anxiously at him.
"We can talk here, or we can talk in Switzerland."
"Switzerland!" The Clone was ecstatic. "You're taking me skiing in Europe! Oh, honey!" She flung herself against him and hugged him.
Superman stood, his arms still crossed across his chest, immobile, the Man of Steel.
The Clone backed away. "Switzerland," she repeated slowly. "You mean at Lex's fortress in the Alps, don't you. Well, I'm not going." She turned her back to Superman and began poking through her many shopping bags. "I told Lex I'm through spying, I'm through reporting back to him. It's a good thing he took Lois out of the country, because I would have killed her, you know."
She whirled around and faced him. "You're my husband, and I'm not sharing, not you, not my frogs." She giggled again. "Did you see the look on that cute Jimmy's face?"
"Oh, but you are going to Switzerland," Superman told her, "with me, tonight. I need you to tell me exactly WHERE in Switzerland Lex's fortress is."
"No, I don't think so."
Superman seized the Clone's stash of frogs. "I...think...so."
"Hey!" The Clone protested. "Give those back! They're mine!"
Superman knew exactly what to do about the Clone.
"CK!" Jimmy recognized the voice on the other end immediately, even though he had been sound asleep when the phone rang.
"Jimmy, I need you to check a couple of things for me," Clark said to his friend. "First of all, find out if Perry's ordination in the First Church of Blue Suede Deliverance is valid in this state."
"Consider it done," Jimmy replied.
"Wait, there's more. I also need you to check with Wylie Chapel's office to see if our marriage license has been sent to the county clerk's office or the state capitol. If it hasn't, take it. I don't care how, but don't let that marriage license get registered."
"And Jimmy, I need one more favor. I need you to find out from Phil at Phil's Exotic Pet Palace exactly where in the south Pacific those dopple bufo frogs come from."
"Jimmy, I have to know."
Superman landed behind the cathedral in Zurich. The Clone had stopped struggling with him somewhere over the Atlantic. Once they were back on the ground, he flipped a frog to her, which she greedily popped into her mouth.
Starr, who had been waiting for Superman's return, watched in amazement. "She looks like Lois, but she's not Lois," she confirmed for Superman. "Lois is here, in Switzerland. Her vibes are really strong."
"Did you get the bottle of chianti?" Superman asked.
Starr held up a straw covered bottle. "Right here. Why do you need chianti?"
"You told Clark that Lois wants a bottle of wine," Superman replied.
"No," Starr corrected him, "she wants a bottle of rain."
Superman shrugged, then turned his attention back to the Clone.
"Okay. Where is Luthor's fortress?"
"Not tellin'" the Clone replied, pouting.
Superman held another frog out. "Where's the fortress?" he asked again. The Clone lunged for the frog, but Superman elevated just out of her reach. "The fortress?"
"Ooh," the Clone stomped her foot. "Outside of a village near the Italian border." When Superman did not give her the frog, she screamed out the name of the village.
Superman placed the frog in her mouth. "Thank you." He turned to Starr. "I'm sorry, but I have to ask you wait for just another moment or two. I'm going to take...her...someplace where she'll be safe."
Starr waved him off. "Just hurry. Something is going on with Lois."
Wanda licked her lips. Too many cigarettes had parched her mouth and throat. She was thirsty, but Kent seemed to have nothing but fine wines and rare liqueurs available to drink. The water, she had been told, was not fit for human consumption. Her instincts told her not to let Kent get her inebriated. There was hot tea, hot coffee, hot chocolate, but nothing cold, nothing to soothe her raw throat.
"Who else is going to bring you a broken arrow? Who else is going to bring you a bottle of rain? There he goes, movin' across the water. There he goes, turn' my whole world around."
Wanda's head jerked up. She kept hearing the same song over and over. No one else seemed to hear it. The man who sang it sounded hoarse, like he, too, had smoked too many cigarettes. *I could use a bottle of rain,* Wanda thought. *To drink.*
"Do you feel what I feel? Can we make it so that's part of the deal? I gotta hold you in these arms of steel. Lay your heart on the line, this time."
She pushed the door of her room open and peeked into the hall.
The man with the uzi was no where in sight. Wanda seized the opportunity to get out of the stuffiness of her room. Smoke- filled dockside gin joints might be her milieu, but this velvet prison was getting old fast.
"I'm gonna breathe when you breathe. When you whisper like that hot summer breeze. Count the beads of sweat that cover me. Didn't you show me a sign, this time."
Wanda quickly made her way down the dark hall. Other passages opened off the main branch. She feared she would lose her way back to her room, but something...the music in her head?...beckoned.
"Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow? Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain? There he goes, movin' across the water. There he goes, turnin' my whole world around."
Superman unceremoniously dumped the clone on the ground next to a fresh water pool. They were on a little known island in the Indonesian archipelago.
"You can't just leave me here," the Clone said, her voice shaking. "Clarkie! There's nothing to do!" she wailed.
"You should be safe here," Superman told her. "You don't know what Luthor is capable of, and if he should see you while I'm trying to get Lois, I don't know what will happen."
"Why do you need her," the Clone pouted. "You've got me. Didn't I make you happy?"
"You're not Lois," Superman said.
"But I look just like her!"
"But you're not her." They stared at each other for a moment.
"I brought you here for a reason," he said, breaking the silence.
"Look at the pond."
The Clone turned. "I don't see anything." She was still sullen.
"It's filled with dopple bufo frogs," Superman explained.
The Clone tried to smile. "You must care about me a little," she said, inching closer to the water.
"I don't...wish you any harm."
"That's a start."
"It's not enough."
"Okay." The Clone dove into the pool. She resurfaced with two fists full of frogs. "I think I'll be okay here for a while," she told Superman. "But don't leave me here. There's no place to shop."
Superman hid his smile. He dipped his head in her direction, then began to elevate. "I can't make any guarantees," he told her. "I can't bring you back to Metropolis," he whispered just before took off across the Pacific.
Wanda could find no more stairs to climb. She had reached the top of Kent's windowless fortress.
"Do you see what I see? Can you cut behind the mystery? I will meet you by the witness tree. Leave the whole world behind."
She tried every door she came to. Each opened into rooms filled with things and dust. *There has to be a way out,* she thought.
*Why do I want out?* She felt so very confused. But she did not stop opening doors.
Then she found it. One last flight of stairs, hidden behind a tiny door tucked in a tapestry covered alcove. Above her, at the top, daylight dimly filtered in. Slowly, she began her ascent.
Superman and Starr canvassed the village the Clone had named.
They found nothing. Superman did a quick check by air. Still nothing.
"We're close," Starr told him. "That song is so loud I can barely hear myself think. Are you looking for buildings lined with lead? If I were going to hide from you, I would do it in a lead-lined fortress."
Superman nodded. "Nothing. I just don't get it."
"Maybe it's not a building," Starr suggested.
Superman remembered his own Fortress of Solitude: a tree house on his parents' farm in Kansas. "What else could it be?" he asked.
Starr seemed to listen for a moment. "Mountains to climb," she told Superman. "Did Clark tell you that part?"
Superman waved his arm. "Starr, we're in the Alps. No matter where we go, there's a mountain to climb."
Wanda pushed at the door. It was heavy, made of studded iron plates over some other material. She had to put all of her frail weight into the move. The door creaked in protest, but she persisted.
Cold air rushed in as Wanda stepped out into the daylight. She looked around in amazement.
She had thought she would be on the roof of...a castle. Instead, she stood on top of a mountain. *Kent's fortress is inside of a mountain. No wonder there are no windows and everything is damp,* she thought. Bare rocks and snow made up the landscape.
There was a small satellite dish to import television.
Wanda shivered in the winter wind. She wore the gown in which she had fled Metropolis. She might as well have been naked.
"I wanna come when you call. I'll get to you if I have to crawl They can't hold me with these iron walls We've got mountains to climb, to climb"
*I climbed the mountain,* Wanda realized. *I just need to call.
But I don't know WHO to call.*
Darkness was falling. She would be missed soon, if she had not already been found out. The first star of the evening popped through the gathering dusk. "Star, bright, star light, first star I see tonight," Wanda whispered. She turned to descend the stairs.
"I heard her," Starr and Superman said at the same time.
"She called me," Starr said.
"I heard," Superman agreed. "It came from that mountain." He pointed to a nearby peak. It appeared barren except for a lone satellite dish. *A witness tree?* he wondered.
Superman used his x-ray vision and found that the mountain was impenetrable to x-ray. It was a lined with lead. "That's it," he told Starr. "A lead-lined mountain. Well, here we come." He scooped Starr into his arms and sped to the summit of the fortress.
Wanda was half-way down the stairs when she heard footsteps heading toward her. She stopped, frozen in terror like a deer caught in headlights.
Kent stood at the base of the stairs, lantern in hand. "You can't leave me, Wanda," he told her. "You shouldn't have left your room."
The sound of his voice spurred her to action. She turned and ran back up the stairs, preferring the iciness of a winter evening to the iciness of Kent's emotion. She shoved the iron door shut.
The sight of a man in a blue leotard and a red cape flying out of the sky seemed perfectly normal. *Now I know I'm off,* Wanda thought. The man in the red cape carried a woman. They landed softly in front of her.
Wanda looked deeply into the man's eyes. Neither of them said anything for a long moment. Then, Wanda knew. "You're Kent," she whispered.
Superman nodded slightly, not knowing what else to do.
"Ke--he, that other man, lied to me. That's why I couldn't feel anything for him. You're Kent."
Lex Luthor came bursting through the door. "You!" he screamed when he saw Superman. "Wanda, this man wants to hurt you," he told her.
"No, you do." Wanda turned on Lex. "I don't know who you are or why you tried to pass yourself off as Kent, but I know now, I've always known, you couldn't be him. You're pure evil and he, Kent, is all that is good."
"I don't know what lies he's been telling you," Lex said, improvising wildly, "but HE is the evil one. Only a person who has sold his soul to the devil could fly and do the other things he can do."
"Or an angel," Wanda softly replied. She moved closer to Superman. "My angel."
Superman stepped in front of her. "I am not going to deal with you now," he warned Luthor. "But be warned: we are NOT through yet." Superman picked both Wanda and Starr up and prepared to fly off.
Lex dove at Superman and sent him sprawling. He then seized Wanda's arm and dragged her to the iron door. "We are through, Superman," he snarled. "And Lois is MINE." He pulled Wanda with him as he went through the door. He slammed it shut, bolted it, then hurtled down the stairs, never relinquishing his grasp on Wanda's arm.
"Who is Lois?" Wanda asked, trying to pull away from Lex. "And who are you?"
"No time for explanations, my love," Lex replied. "We need to get to the kryptonite. Your little expedition has cost me, but I can and will prevail."
"Lois still has her headache," Starr told Superman as he ripped the iron door from its hinges. "She thinks she's Wanda."
"I figured that," Superman replied. "Wait here." He was gone in a blur of red and blue.
Starr shrugged. She was warmly dressed, but the wind whipped at the landscape on this high peak, and she was part of that landscape. Starr ducked inside of the stairwell to escape the wind. She was drawn further into the fortress by the sounds of the scuffle below.
Superman and Lex Luthor's henchmen were engaged in combat.
Superman flung the men away like they were rag dolls. Wanda's personal uzi-bearer emptied his weapon. Superman caught the bullets and crushed them like sugar cubes.
*Broken arrows,* Wanda thought. *I wonder if he brought me a bottle of rain? I sure could use something to drink.* She watched the melee from the corner where Lex had tossed her while he tried to reach his secret weapon.
Starr, like Lois Lane, was never one to stay put when she was told. She crept into the room where the fracas reigned, then crawled to Lois, who cowered in the corner.
"Who are you, and why are you with Kent?" Wanda wanted to know.
"I'm Starr, your neighbor back in Metropolis."
"I never lived in any place long enough to know my neighbors," Wanda replied.
"I'm a psychic," Starr told Wanda. "And I think you have a headache."
"Headache? Some psychic," Wanda smiled sadly, still watching
Superman disable more of Lex's men. "I don't have a headache.
I'm thirsty. I think Kent brought me something to drink. Some rain."
"You DO want rain," Starr said. "I tried to tell him that, but he insisted you wanted WINE." She showed Wanda the bottle of chianti she still carried.
"HE has cellars full of wine here," Wanda told Starr. "I'm not partial to wine."
"Must be that headache of yours, Lois." Starr shook her head.
"You have me mistaken with another," Wanda said. "My name is Wanda...Wanda Detroit." She offered her hand to Starr. "Pleased to meet you, Starr. But you still haven't told me why you're with Kent."
"Because we're looking for you," Starr replied. "I keep hearing this song..."
Wanda stared at Starr. "About broken arrows?"
"That's the one."
"I hear it too," Wanda admitted. "I thought it was Kent calling me. That's why I thought he brought me a bottle of rain."
"Well, Clark will be happy to hear you're okay," Starr said.
"Clark?" Wanda felt fear again. A burst of pain split her head.
"Not Clark. He's not here, is he?"
Starr could feel Wanda's terror. "Clark loves you, honey. He sent me and Superman here to find you and bring you back."
Superman finished with the men. The room was littered with the bodies of the fallen. He looked around for Lex Luthor, who was no where to be seen. Superman then approached the women in the corner. "I thought I told you to stay upstairs," he said to Starr.
"You did," she admitted, "but I got cold."
"You didn't come for me yourself," Wanda said, tears rolling down her face. "You came to take me back to Clark," she accused. "Do you know what he did? He set me up to take the fall for a string of gas station hold ups. I thought you loved me, Kent."
"She still has her headache," Starr told Superman.
"Well, how do we get rid of it?" he asked the psychic.
Starr thought for a moment. "Well, she insists she wanted a bottle of rain, not a bottle of wine, so..." Starr raised the bottle of chianti like a club, and before Superman could stop her, smashed the bottle down on Wanda's head.
Wanda sank to the floor, unconscious.
"Starr," Superman cried out. "Are you out of your mind?"
"Superman, she must have had a head trauma to cause her memory loss in the first place, which would explain the headache I keep reading on her. I saw a movie once where another hit on the head brought the victim back. I thought it was worth a try." Starr rationalized.
Superman bent over Lois. Purple wine stained the beige satin of her dress. Her eyelids flickered. "Superman?" She looked over at his companion. "Starr?" She sat up. "Oh God, Superman. Lex Luthor...he said he has kryptonite."
"Lois!" Superman crushed her to his chest. "I...we thought we'd lost you."
"Superman, there's no time. You have to get out of here."
Superman picked the women up, one under each arm. He sped up the staircase to the top of the mountain. Before taking off, he used his heat vision to weld the iron door to its frame. "Luthor won't be going anywhere soon," he muttered.
Lois stared at the beloved face. There were so many questions she needed to ask him, but they could wait until they were safe, and alone. It was enough that she remembered who she really was and who she really loved.