By Anne P.

Summary: Lois and Clark investigate a murder involving a very unlikely killer. The engaged couple also embark on some "firsts."

This script which preceded this story was written in the Fall of 1995 and finished in December 1995. Some minor changes were added after VD. Thanks to kwiz for her very helpful suggestions.

The characters are the property of DC Comics. The rest is mostly mine. If for some reason you want to post this somewhere, please contact me first. Also, if you have any constructive criticism, I'm eager to hear it. Thanks!


Clark Kent walked into the martial arts studio with a light in his eye. He and Lois Lane had been engaged for several months and had known each other for over two years, but he had never seen her practice her Tae Kwon Do. That is, other than when she kicked some bad guy who was after her. She had been working toward her black belt for a few years and had about six months to go. He finally asked if he could come watch. Lois agreed but warned him that he might be bored. As he walked in and caught a glimpse of her kicking a heavy bag, the kind that boxers use, he wondered how he could possibly be bored. He loved to watch her move. She was as lithe as a house cat, and the look in her face was as ferocious as a tiger's. As she kicked and punched and spun, he was mesmerized. He could watch her for hours.

Most men notice Lois Lane's looks, but many of them are put off by a woman who is smart, aggressive and strong. Not Clark Kent. Those were the qualities that made him fall for her in the first place. Of course, he also saw the insecurities and the softness that everyone has but most don't notice in Lois Lane. As he continued to eye her, he let his mind wander to what Lois had on underneath her uniform. He began to lower his glasses, but, as Lois finished up, Clark caught himself and smiled as she walked toward him. She returned his gaze and sat down next to him.

"Hi. I told you it would be boring." She wiped her face and neck with a towel.

"Hi, honey," he said, hoping she wouldn't mind the new name he was trying out.

"Did you just call me 'honey?'," she asked, taken aback a little.

"I thought I'd try it out. You don't like it?"

Lois, not wanting to seem abnormal, and deep down really liking to hear Clark call her that, knowing that he meant it, replied, "Well, I didn't say that. It's just the first time you've ever called me that." She paused for a moment, considering the name, "I think I kind of like it, ... sweetheart." She grinned as she heard that last word come out of her month, and she kissed him on the cheek. She had never used that word before, but, then, she had never felt about anyone the way she felt about Clark. Every day, as she woke up, she was amazed that she felt so good. Unlike everyone else in her life, she knew that Clark would be there for her. Sure, he might be rushing off to save someone or avert a world disaster, but, whenever she really needed him, he'd be there. She was still getting used to that concept, but, slowly, the insecurities were fading away -- some of them anyway.

"Why don't you change, and we can get something to eat," Clark suggested, pleased that she was pleased. Lois said, "Okay, sweetheart," wanting to try out the moniker again. She walked away and then turned and smiled at Clark with that wicked smile she saved only for him.

Lois and Clark walked down the street hand-in-hand, as she swung her gym bag with her other hand. For once, Lois' agile mind was calm, and both of them just enjoyed the peaceful night and being together. As they neared her Jeep, Clark asked, "Do you want to try the Thai place around the corner?"

"Okay. Let me throw this in the car," Lois said, indicating her bag.

Lois approached the car and unlocked the door. She threw her bag in the back and lifted her hand to shut the door when a woman's scream pierced through the night. Lois recognized the instinctive look that stole across Clark's face. He ducked into the alley, and Lois heard the familiar whoosh of Superman rushing to aid someone in trouble. Lois then got into her car and raced off toward the scream.

In a dark, deserted street, Superman landed near a woman's body lying in the middle of it. Careful not to disturb the body and any evidence that may have been around it, he bent to listen for breath and examined the body, but she was dead. No matter how many times he saw the atrocities which he inevitably did, his heart sank a little each time. Using his supervision, he scanned the area, but the killer was nowhere to be found. Superman then shot up like a missile and hovered above the scene looking for anyone running away. There was no one. As he descended back down to terra firma, Lois Lane screeched up in her Jeep and ran over to her fiance.

Superman said, "I can't see anyone," as he looked around again. "I don't understand how they could get away. I got here pretty quickly."

"Is she dead?"

With regret in his voice, Superman said quietly, "Yes. She's not bleeding. It looks like she may have been strangled." With his x-ray vision, Superman focused in on the woman's neck. There were reddish marks like fingerprints, and he noticed a drop of blood on her neck, but, strangely, he noted no cuts.

At the crime scene the next morning, Lois and Clark approached one of the detectives, an older woman with salt- and-pepper hair. As they strode up to her, Clark asked: "Detective, what have you found so far?" "Oh, Mr. Kent, Ms. Lane. Always nice to see the press interested in our work," Detective Richards responded, half-seriously, half-facetiously.

"Obviously I can't give you details, but, at this point, we've got Superman's statement that he was a few blocks away when he heard a struggle. When he got here, he found the body but saw no one leaving the scene. The woman appears to have been strangled. Superman found a drop of blood on her neck, but she wasn't cut."

Noting the same inconsistency she had noted the night before, Lois inquired further, "You said that there was blood on her neck, but the victim was strangled, and there were no cuts. Isn't that a little strange?"

"Yes. The crime lab people have collected it." Lois then tried a question she knew she wouldn't get the answer to, but what the hell, "Do you think it could be the killer's?"

Richards smiled, "Ms. Lane, you know I can't speculate about the evidence."

Knowing that they had gotten all that they were going to from the detective, Clark thanked her, and they walked away to compare thoughts.

Lois inquired, "Are you thinking the same thing about where the killer might have disappeared to?"

In synch, as they increasingly had become, Clark responded, "Yeah, into one of these buildings. Maybe he lives in one of them."

Ever watchful of her surroundings, Lois noted, "Looks like the police might think the same thing." Clark looked over to see two uniformed officers entering one of the nearby apartment buildings. Lois queried, "Well, partner, how should we handle this?"

"I'm sure you'll tell me."

"Cute," smirking as she said this. Although they had been needling each other for more than two years, they now did so not as two people fighting their feelings for one another (whether they realized it or not), but as two people who loved each other so completely that, even though they were working, they had to remind themselves of the personalness of their relationship.

Despite this, Lois' mind was forever working, "This isn't very creative but we could follow the cops and 'someone' could look and listen into the apartments while the cops are talking to people." She pretended to pull down a pair of glasses as she was speaking, just as Clark had done so many times in the past to actually do what she was suggesting. Clark chided, "Not bad for an amateur," as he grinned at his future wife.

Rushing off in her usual fashion, Lois ordered Clark, "Well, let's go." Shaking his head, Clark muttered in an amused way, "All that energy." As he followed her toward the apartment building, his thoughts turned to what had been increasingly on his mind lately -- he couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to be so close to that energy that it would make your skin radiate. But they had work to do.

In the hallway of the apartment building, her impatience beginning to rise to the surface, Lois asked, "What are they saying?" Lois hated missing out on anything that was going on. Attempting to concentrate, Clark shot back, "Lois, please be quiet, or I won't hear anything."

Feeling entirely frustrated, Lois leaned back against the wall with a bored look on her face. As she stared off into space, Clark lowered his glasses once more.

A policeman was talking to a man in his early thirties. The officer asked the routine preliminary questions: name, occupation and whereabouts at the time of the crime. Derek Brockhurst responded that he was a doctor and that he was on his way home from work at 8:00 p.m. As far as Clark could tell, this guy was just giving the officer the straight scoop, "My girlfriend was going to meet me at my apartment about 8:30, which she did. By that time, the cops were all over the place."

"Mr. Brockhurst, do you have a criminal record?"

Brockhurst, unannoyed by this intrusive question, responded, "Of course not."

The officer then requested what he had requested of everyone he had interviewed that day, a blood sample. Derek Brockhurst indicated that he was happy to cooperate. The officer did not believe that this gentle, intelligent, unassuming man could possibly be involved in the strangulation of Janine Harper.

Back in the hallway, Clark finally spoke, "Looks like they're wrapping up. Let's get out of sight." Finally sensing that something would involve her, Lois reacted as they turned the corner away from the officer.

"Did this guy say anything new?"

"No, they were all either out or just staying in and didn't see or hear anything unusual."

This was not what Lois wanted to hear. All day they had been standing around, and, while Clark had attempted to fill her in on everything he had heard, it was difficult for her to be passive. In any case, she was sure that there was a story buried somewhere in all of this.

Later that day, as Lois and Clark were making their usual notes of the day's events, they were jolted from their concentration by the loud voice of the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet, Perry White, "Lane, Kent, get in here."

As they walked into Perry's office, they noted the presence of the ever-present Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy seized every opportunity he could to learn the newspaper business from Perry, whom he no-so-secretly idolized.

"What is it, Perry?" Lois inquired.

"Have you heard anything about the results of the blood tests on the people in those buildings where that woman was killed?"

Clark said, "Nothing really, Chief. They've done the standard blood-typing tests, with several matches, but DNA results take awhile."

Skeptical that anything newsworthy would come of the matter, Perry, not-so-subtly, suggested, "I think that maybe you two should scout around for something else. There'll probably be no matches. No doubt it was some sicko who wanders around attacking women at random or else a jealous boyfriend or husband."

Lois agreed, but she wasn't as ready to give on a story she wanted to stay involved in, "Most likely. There was no relationship between Janine Harper and anyone in that building, at least not that we could find. But I have a gut feeling that there is something in this story. At the very least, I would like to do something on crimes against women. It might encourage them to take steps to protect themselves." Lois could find a worthy angle in almost any of the grizzly or odd events that occurred in Metropolis.

The ringing of the phone interrupted Perry's response. He answered the call and handed the phone to Lois. Putting the receiver to her ear and hearing what was coming from the other end, her juices started flowing, "Really? Thanks."

"Well, this story just got more interesting. My source at the police station says that the DNA results show a match between the blood at the crime scene and that doctor, Brockhurst. Someone who lives in the building also saw him entering the building near the time Janine Harper was killed. They've arrested him." As she said this, Lois got a glint in her eye which Clark recognized as that spark that had attracted him in the first place. He had the same spark in his eye, for, although he and Lois were opposites in a great many ways, they both shared the excitement of what they did for a living, and neither could imagine doing anything else.

But, when Lois' announcement hit him, Clark was surprised, "I wouldn't have guessed that one. Let's see if we can talk to some people who know him."

Picking up on his instinct, Lois countered, "He mentioned a girlfriend in the interview with the cops, didn't he?"

Jimmy was intrigued by that statement. How could they know what was said in the interview? "Hey, how do you know that?" he asked.

Realizing their slip, Clark covered as generically as he could, "Uh, ... sources." As he changed the subject, he stated to Lois, "Maybe we should go to the jail and see who his visitors have been."

Knowing a reporter's instinct when he saw it, Perry barked, "Good idea, people. Now move."

Lois, Clark and Jimmy were used to the Chief's saltiness, but it was usually more appropriately stated than in this instance. As they left, Lois noted, "Boy, he's in an even worse mood than usual. Things with Alice must really be terrible." Although it was not discussed openly very often, everyone in the newsroom was acutely aware that Perry and Alice were separated.

Clark was raised in an environment where the concept of divorce was more alien than he. He had once told Lois that he looked forward to marriage because his parents had made marriage look fun. Despite the trials and tribulations of all marriages, his parents gave him the sense that they could not imagine their lives without each other. He saw it in the way they looked at each other, even after all of these years. "I feel so bad for him. It's like I feel guilty for being so happy. Here we are planning our wedding, and Perry's talking divorce." But despite the numerous breakups around him, Clark was as completely convinced as the day he met Lois that they were meant to be together. No matter what they faced, as long as they faced it together, openly and honestly, they could get through it intact.

Breaking the silence, Jimmy quietly suggested, "Do you think one of us should go talk to him?"

But, despite the fact that each of them felt as if they wanted to reach out to Perry, they all knew the obstacles they faced in trying to get through to him. Nonetheless, Lois knew that, of all of them, she would have the best chance of reaching him. She was just as stubborn, tenacious and bullheaded as he. Reluctantly, however, she uttered, "I'll do it."

Relieved that Lois had spoken up, Jimmy replied, "Good. I'm afraid to go back in there."

Lois smirked at Jimmy and then knocked on Perry's office door. Before hearing a response, she walked in.

"Lois, I thought you and Clark had left to go to the jail. Why are you still here?"

"We'll go in a minute. There's something I want to talk to you about."

Not wanting any more human contact than necessary to do his job, and truly wanting Lois and Clark out on the story, Perry retorted, "Well, make it quick."

"Perry, we couldn't help but notice that things are going pretty badly right now for you. Do you want to talk about it?"

"Not really, Lois. Get out on that story, okay?"

"Are you sure?"

Perry nodded, but, as Lois was heading out, Perry stopped her without thinking. "I just don't know what's going on anymore?"

"Have you and Alice tried to work things out?"

"We really haven't even spoken since she left."

In disbelief at what she was hearing, Lois shouted, "What! Perry, how do you expect to make things right if you don't talk?" Despite all of her experience to the contrary, Lois wanted more than anything to believe that, if you tried hard enough, relationships could work. She had to believe this, or she and Clark wouldn't be planning their wedding.

Unconsciously both trying to avoid and confront the topic, Perry asked, "Lois, why are we having this conversation?"

Her dander clearly up, Lois responded, "Because I can't stand seeing someone whom I admire for his drive and determination doing absolutely nothing when it comes to losing what should be the most important thing in his life."

Perry tried to interrupt, but it was futile -- Lois was already on a roll. Sometimes she reminded him so much of himself that it unnerved him.

"Let me finish," she demanded. "I, of all people, know how work can become the be-all and end-all ... how exciting this place can be. But someone once told me that there will always be stories -- headless corpses, wasn't it? -- but true love may come only once. Well, he was right, but I don't see him in this room. That man would run to his wife and tell her that his life is empty without her and that no big story or great edition can fill that void. He would be doing everything he could to get her back." Pausing to catch her breath, Lois finished, "That's all I have to say."

As Lois stridently strode out of his office, Perry sat, staring off into space and wondering what the hell he had just been hit with. And, as she walked out into the newsroom to grab her attache, Clark chided her, "Boy, you really got him to open up."

Sometimes it wasn't so great having a boyfriend who could overhear everything. "Well, he needed to hear it. And don't give me that look." Clark shrugged and followed Lois out to the elevators.

"Hi, I'm Lois Lane, and this is Clark Kent. We're with the Daily Planet. We were wondering if you have a list of Mr. Brockhurst's visitors."

The officer at the desk looked up from his paperwork. "Sorry, we can't release that."

With a perturbed edge in her voice, Lois next asked, "Well, can we see Mr. Brockhurst then?"

Unappreciative of her tone, the officer said, "Sure, but it's up to him, and you'll have to wait behind this line of reporters." Lois and Clark looked back to see a mob of reporters there to do the same thing they were. "His girlfriend's in with him now," the officer gave them.

Clark had just as much of a reporter's instinct for important information as Lois did, "Girlfriend?"

Turning his attention back to his work, the officer grunted, "Yeah."

Knowing that this cop had given them a freebie, Clark thanked him.

As they walked toward the interview room, a woman walked out. She was attractive in a subtle sort of way, but she looked tired. Realizing who the woman could be, Lois rushed up to her.

"Excuse me."

Melissa Eagan, however, was in no mood for interruption, "Please, leave me alone. I haven't had a moment's peace since this whole thing started."

Their suspicions were confirmed. In his unassuming way, Clark still attempted to get the woman to talk, "I'm Clark Kent and this is Lois Lane ..."

Interrupting him, Melissa distractedly remarked, "Lane and Kent, the hottest team in town. I've seen the posters. I've also read your work. You are a good team. But I just can't talk to any reporters right now."

Appreciating the praise, but not about to give up on the story, Lois kept at it, "Ms...."

Clearly exasperated, the woman said, "Eagan, Melissa Eagan."

Feeling as if they were getting through, Lois asked, "Ms. Eagan, I know this must be difficult, but don't you want people to hear your point of view?"

Finally relenting, Melissa responded, "I suppose that I do, but can it wait until tomorrow? I'll meet you at your office at 10 a.m. Okay?"

"Thank you, Ms. Eagan," Clark politely replied.

A quiet night at home for the hottest team in town often involved work. As they sat facing each other on either end of Clark's couch that night, in their casual clothes, with their shoes off and their legs intertwined, both had pads of paper on their laps. Each was writing, pausing only to collect the next thought and reconsider old ones.

Lois interrupted the quiet, "What do you think about asking her about his psychological history?"

Without looking up, Clark responded, "Fine, but I don't think we can go into it too probingly."

Failing to comprehend his point, Lois shot back, "Why not? We're reporters. That's what we do. We probe."

Although he sensed a fight coming on, he persisted nonetheless, not willing to concede, "I know, but isn't there a line that maybe shouldn't be crossed?"

"Once in awhile, but, in this case, I think that this is relevant information," Lois defended herself.

"I do too, but, I think we have to tread carefully."

"Are you saying that I'm not tactful? You think I'm just going to burst in and say, 'Fess up, honey, how'd he do it?'"

"Like your tact with Perry today?" But, realizing that he was about to set off a powder keg, Clark quickly made his point, "All I'm saying is that this is not our typical type of story, and we might want to be a little more sensitive."

"Here we go, Smallville sensitivity."

By this time, they were both angry. "Why is it that every time we disagree about a story, I'm just a farmboy, and you're a sophisticated, big-city reporter?" Clark shot back. Sometimes the hurt from years past came bubbling back up to the surface. Clark still had not completely gotten over how Lois used to treat him when he first came to Metropolis. It was something that they were going to have to work through.

"That is so not true. Why is it that you assume that I will just go charging in with no appreciation for the situation? I *have* been doing this awhile." Although she respected Clark more than anyone, Lois did not appreciate the implication of his statement.

Realizing that they both had good points, Clark calmed himself and the conversation down, "Okay, let's just remember that this woman probably thinks that Brockhurst is innocent. She is his girlfriend."

Appreciating the respite, Lois teased him, half-serious, half- kidding, "I know, but all relationships aren't as perfect as ours." As she said this, she leapt forward and tackled him. As she got on top of him, she began to tickle him. Clark laughed and began to feel fortunate that their fight had clearly ceased. Lois smiled and kissed him.

As their lips parted, he returned her smile and said, "You're right." He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her. Their mouths melted together as if they were meant only to be kissed by the other. As the kiss became deeper, each reached for the other's buttons, stealing more kisses as their hands fumbled. However, Clark's attention was interrupted by something only he could hear -- the frantic cry of someone in need. "Help! My daughter's in there. Help! Fire!" Those words could not have come at a more inopportune time.

Clark usually didn't begrudge anyone his assistance, but, just once, he would like to be Clark and only Clark. He just wanted to be able to make love to his fiancee like other men, without interruption. "Damn!" he uttered as he sat up, lifting Lois with him. She moved away slightly, as he held his head in his hands. He raised his head and got into his Superman mode, "Lois, I am really sorry, but someone is in big trouble -- a fire. I'll be back if I can get back quickly. Otherwise, I'll see you tomorrow morning."

Lois silently nodded.

She watched him spin into his Superman outfit, as she had done for several months now. He kissed her quickly before he flew out the window. Once he was safely out of earshot, Lois groaned in frustration and flopped back on the couch.

The next morning, Lois sat at her desk typing up some thoughts on the Brockhurst case. But, this morning, her thoughts kept turning back to the night before. She knew that being involved with Superman would not be easy. And she certainly couldn't complain. It's not like he was out at bars every night. He was helping people, which was one of the reasons she loved him so much. But "just once," she reflected. Her thoughts were interrupted by the large, strong hands on her shoulders. She'd know that touch anywhere, and Clark kissed the top of her head.

"Hi, honey," he said.

"Hi," Lois responded. Her standoffish tone was not what she had wanted to come out, but her feelings reflected themselves nonetheless. When Lois didn't know how to deal with something, she did the thing that came most naturally to her, she worked. She continued typing as Clark came around and sat at the side of her desk.

"I'm really sorry I didn't make it back last night," he said, knowing full well what was bothering her.

"Well, after finishing our questions for today, I got a lot of sleep," Lois snidely remarked, still in a more reactive mode than a reflective one.

"Lois, ..." Clark stammered.

Hearing him struggling, Lois felt terrible about what had just come out of her mouth. "Clark, I'm sorry." She touched his hand and explained, "It's just so frustrating. I'm still getting used to all of this. I just want to be with you so much."

He responded by squeezing her hand. He softly said, fully understanding what she was expressing without any other words, "I know. We'll both learn how to deal with it." It was something that he had thought about more times than he could count since he and Lois started to get serious. He knew that they *would* work it out, but that didn't make accepting their unique situation any easier. Taking a cue from his fiancee, Clark turned the subject back to an easier one to deal with, "In the meantime, can I read the rest of the questions you prepared?"

Lois handed him some papers and rose. "I'm getting some more coffee. Do you want some, sweetheart?" she coyly asked him.

In his best Droopy Dog impression, Clark grinned and said, "Yes, thanks, sugar blossom."

"You are so strange sometimes, Clark Kent. I don't know why I put up with you," she teased.

Smiling back at this woman who made him feel so many things, Clark responded with a twinkle in his eye, "Yes, you do."

Jimmy walked by as Lois returned Clark's smile. "Do you guys know that you do that?" Jimmy questioned.

"Do what, Jimmy?" Lois asked curiously.

Jimmy said, "The way you look at each other. Your eyes light up when you see each other. It's amazing." He grinned and looked at one, then the other. Both blushed, and Lois went off to get coffee.

Jimmy slapped Clark on the back, "I'll tell you, C.K., if anyone ever looked at me the way Lois looks at you, and, if I ever looked back the way you look at her, I'd ask for a life contract and sign it in a minute. In the meantime, I have a date with Marie tonight." He grinned, "She's a tattoo artist," clearly eager to see Clark's reaction.

Clark grinned, amused with this young man who had quickly become one of his closest friends. "Have fun, Jimmy." As Jimmy began to walk away, Clark added, "And, Jimmy, don't rush into anything permanent too quickly. I'd hate to see you come in with 'Mom' tattooed on your arm."

Jimmy laughed and headed toward Perry's office. Clark continued to read the questions Lois had added to their list.

As Lois was pouring coffee for herself and Clark, Melissa Eagan stepped off the elevator and headed toward her. Lois offered her a sorely-needed cup of coffee. Clark rose as they headed toward him. "Good morning, Ms. Eagan."

"Morning. I want you two to know that I'm only talking to you. . . ."

"And we appreciate that," Lois chimed in.

"Please let me finish. I'm only talking to you because of your reputation for being honest journalists and for ferreting out the truth. But, if I suspect that this is some sort of a game, I'm ending it."

Knowing Lois better than anyone and seeing the annoyance on her face as she began to open her mouth, Clark stepped in before she could respond. "Uh, ... we'll try to respect your feelings, Ms. Eagan, but we *will* be asking you some tough questions." Lois shot him a sharp look.

"I expect that, Mr. Kent, just as long as they're fair."

"Why don't we go into the conference room?" Lois suggested, wanting to get this interview underway before Melissa backed out.

Lois picked up the papers Clark had been reading, and the three of them walked into the conference room and sat down. Once they were comfortable, Clark asked the first question, "How long have you known Derek Brockhurst?"

"A little over two years. We work together at a clinic. We're both doctors."

"And how long have you been seeing each other?" Lois asked.

"About six months."

Asking a more open-ended question and hoping Melissa would start to open up, Lois queried, "What kind of man is Derek?"

Struggling, but wanting to answer this as best she could, Melissa said, "How can I put all of this into words?" She looked off into space attempting to collect her thoughts. "He's honest, caring, warm, funny. Derek is the most decent man I know. That's why this is so hard. I *know* he didn't murder that woman. It's unthinkable."

Lois knew as well as anyone how it felt to be deceived by a man who said he cared about you. But this Lois Lane also knew what it was like to be in love with someone whom she could trust completely. This new insight made her a better reporter, and she asked a tough question as sensitively as she could, "What about the DNA results, Ms. Eagan?"

Without hesitation, Melissa replied, "They are wrong. They have to be. "

Lois and Clark exchanged a quick look to see how the other was reacting. Although they tried to keep the look covert, Melissa picked up on it, "Look, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that here is another woman who has been fooled by a smart, conniving man. That this is just another stand-by-your-man thing." She paused. "Frankly, if I were in your shoes looking at this from the outside, I probably would too. But you don't know Derek, and you don't know our relationship. We were best friends before we ever got together."

Both Lois and Clark squirmed ever so slightly as they heard these words. Melissa continued, "I know Derek as well as I know myself -- probably better." Half-smiling for the first time in days, she described the man she loved, "Derek is the kind of man who would bandage up an animal if it was hurt. He is the kind of man who volunteers his time to treat sick children." Melissa looked down and smiled as she said the next sentence, "He is the kind of man who would fly to Switzerland to get me chocolate if I asked him to."

Those words really made the reporters squirm. True, Derek couldn't *actually* fly to Switzerland, except in a plane, but they began to get the sense that they were not dealing with a typical crime story.

Melissa went on, "All I know is that Derek is no killer. I know it as sure as I know I'm sitting here talking to you. Trust me, this is all new for me. I don't let many people get close to me. It took me almost two years to let even Derek in. Do either of you know what I mean?"

Few people could draw Lois in the way Melissa Eagan had, especially when she was interviewing them. But, somehow, it was happening. She replied to Melissa, "That sounds vaguely familiar. I know what you mean." And she did. Lois looked at Clark. She knew that if he were ever accused of anything, she wouldn't have to stop to think for one second. She would know that he was innocent.

Melissa noticed the look and asked, "You mean, you two?"

"Yeah, we're engaged," Clark replied.

With a wistful tone in her voice, Melissa congratulated them. "Derek and I were talking about getting married. Now who knows what will happen." She paused. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize how tough this would be, and we haven't even really started." Abruptly, she stated, "I have to go see Derek." Clark and Lois, however, understood. Although they were professionals, they were also human beings. Melissa did give them something, though, "If you really want to see what sort of man he is, why don't you meet me there in half an hour?"

Clark replied, "We'd love to. Thank you."

The three of them rose, and Melissa left. Lois shut the door behind her and sat back down to get Clark's feelings on the matter. "Wow, deja vu," she said, as she sat down.

"Yeah, except *he's* accused of murder. What do you think?"

The reporter's instinct was coming back, "I want to believe this woman, but DNA, come on. This isn't La-La Land, and he's not some big celebrity. What jury is going to discount this evidence? The body was right near his apartment, and he was seen in the lobby near the time of the murder."

Clark agreed, "It is pretty damning, but I get the same sense you do. Maybe we just both want to believe her."

"Maybe. Let's go see what this Derek is like."

As Lois and Clark arrived at the jail, they were both curious about the man they would meet. Was he really as genuine as Melissa had said? Or was he undeserving of such love and trust? Inside the visitors' cubicle, Melissa introduced them to Derek. Looking around at his bare surroundings, Derek Brockhurst was nonetheless pleasant. "It's nice to meet you. I wish it was under better circumstances."

Clark inquired, "Mr. Brockhurst, would you be willing to talk to us?"

Derek replied, politely but firmly, "I guess so. I'm sure my lawyer wouldn't be too thrilled, but I've got nothing to hide. Melissa says you two seem to be decent people. But I don't want some sensationalized story. This has been hard enough on Melissa and my parents."

"Where do your parents live?" Lois asked.

"Wisconsin. They run a dairy farm."

At the utterance of the word farm, Lois and Clark looked at each other as covertly as possible, but Derek was as observant as the reporters themselves, wondering what was so intriguing about his parents farm in Wisconsin.

Striving to cover up their discomfort, Clark said, "My parents have a farm in Kansas."

Lois then attempted to get the interview back on track, "Mr. Brockhurst, do you have any siblings?" She was trying to get a sense of who this man was by discovering where he came from.

Derek replied, "One brother -- Alan. I don't know exactly where he is, except probably as far away from Metropolis as possible. You see, my brother has always been mad at me."

"Why?" Lois queried, intrigued by his response.

"I don't know -- because I finished med school, because I'm happy with Melissa, because, in his eyes, I was too perfect. I don't know. I've always tried to establish a relationship with him, but the more I'd try, the angrier he'd get. The ironic thing is that he is brilliant. He's much smarter than I am, and he could achieve anything he wanted to if he applied himself. But he never really did. He could have been a brilliant doctor or scientist, but he dropped out of med school after his first year. I haven't seen him since. He moved to California or something. My parents talked to him a few weeks ago. They said that, when they started to tell him about how well I was doing, he got upset and accused them of playing favorites. Anyway, you don't want to hear all about this. You must have other questions."

Clark then got to the heart of matters, "Did you know Janine Harper?"

Clearly anguished, Derek responded, "Yes. She came into our clinic once in awhile. But I didn't really know her very well. I think I saw her once. But she's not one of my regular patients."

"Where were you around 8:00 that night?"

"Like I told the police, I was on my way home. Then, I got home and was waiting for Melissa. I was cooking for us."

Lois homed in on the question anyone would ask, but only a good reporter would know when to ask it, "Did you kill this woman?" she inquired quietly.

Derek stated adamantly, but without anger, "Absolutely not."

"How do you explain the DNA?"

"I can't. I'm a doctor. I believe in those tests." Derek plainly was distressed. "All I know is that I didn't murder that woman, and that is not my blood." As he thrust out his hands for the reporters to examine, he said, "Look. I don't have any cuts." And he didn't.

"Thank you, Mr. Brockhurst. We appreciate your taking the time to talk to us. Now, we'll give you some time alone." Clark sensed that they had asked any important questions and that Derek and Melissa really did want to talk lone. They would return later.

Out in the hallway outside the interview room, Lois and Clark rehashed the interview, each one curious as hell about what the other thought. But they ere both still struck by the similarities between their lives and their subjects'.

"Wow, you don't think he can fly too, do you?" Lois asked semi-facetiously.

"All I know is that he sure doesn't seem like a murderer."

"That's for sure. Don't you think it's odd that his blood is on her but he as no cuts?"

Although he wanted to believe Derek, Clark would, no more than Lois, lose is sense of what his job was, "Well, we've only seen his hands. And there are always nose bleeds. I don't get it either. This guy has everything -- good job, a wonderful girlfriend."

"Well, we both know that people aren't always what they seem," implying much more than the average person would with those words.

Clark whispered, "But, even when you thought Clark and Superman were two people, we weren't complete opposites." Returning to his normal voice, This guy would be like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

"Yeah, but you always hear neighbors say how they thought someone was so normal until they end up hacking people into bits." The old, cynical Lois ad returned. Clark acknowledged his partner's statement with a shrug and nod.

When they arrived back at the Daily Planet, Lois and Clark did what good reporters do when they have to write about a topic they don't know much about -- they researched it. Each at their respective desks, they were scanning their computer screens for helpful information.

"This DNA stuff is fascinating. Kind of dry when you get into the technicalities, but the concepts are amazing." Lois had never gotten over the fascination of all the new things she learned about from being a reporter. The variety was one of the things she loved about what she did.

While Lois had been taking in the intricacies of base pairs and population statistics, Clark had been learning about the suspect. This bifurcation suited their personalities well, made sense, and made them the perfect team. "I've been trying to check out Brockhurst's background to see if he was telling us the truth. It seems he was. Mother -- Anne. Father -- James. Live in Janesville, Wisconsin. Two sons, twins, Derek and Alan."

Immersed in her own work, Lois replied, half-listening. "That's nice." But, after half a second, it registered, "Wait a minute, did you say twins?" she asked.

"Yeah, why?"

Lois formed the basis of a theory, wild though it was, without any real evidence to back it up. "Clark, identical twins are the only people with the same DNA."

"Do you think that Alan Brockhurst could be in Metropolis?" Clark replied, going down the same path.

"It's worth checking. Derek didn't know where he was. I wish we could find out if he was on a flight into Metropolis near the time of the murder." By this time the adrenaline was pumping. But they needed more information.

"How?" Clark asked.

"Good question. Let's go talk to Derek Brockhurst again, maybe he can give us some clue as to where his brother might be."

But, as they arose to leave, Perry interrupted Lois. He hesitantly said, "Lois, I want to thank you for what you said to me in my office this morning. I needed a good kick in the backside. Alice and I still aren't really talking, but, at least, I took the first step."

"Good for you, Perry."

Clark approached them, having overheard everything. "Chief, I'm sorry to eavesdrop, but don't give up. Trust me. As long as there is any chance at all, keep trying." Clark looked at Lois with all of the tenderness a look could possibly emit. "I've never told anyone this. Not even Lois." He paused and took a breath as revealed himself, "But, when I thought she was going to marry Lex Luthor, I went to the loneliest, most desolate place I could find, and I screamed at the top of my lungs. At that moment, I thought that everything I ever wanted had slipped through my fingers. But look at us now." Clark slipped his arm around Lois' waist and looked into her brown eyes, "It may take some time, but it's definitely worth it." Lois returned his gaze and wondered why he had never told her this before.

Perry appreciated the message Clark was sending him, and, for the first time in a long time, he believed that he and Alice might get back together. After all, two years ago who would have guessed that Lois Lane would be marrying Clark Kent. "Thank you, son. Now you two get back to work. We can't spend all day talking about my problems." Perry's emotions were simply getting the best of him, so he had to turn the conversation back to work.

As he was led into the jail's interview room again, Derek Brockhurst was confused about why the two reporters from the Daily Planet wanted to see him again.

Lois thanked him for agreeing to speak with them and then got right to the point, "Is it true that you and Alan are identical twins?"

"Yes. Why does that matter?" Derek asked quizzically.

Clark explained, "Identical twins have identical DNA, don't they?"

"Yes, but.... You don't think Alan? He was always resentful, but he was never dangerous."

But Lois was on a mission, "Do you have any idea where he might be if he were in Metropolis?"

"He hasn't been here in years. At least not that I know of. A few years back, he used to hang out at this pool place on Second and 15th Street called Marco's." And they had their lead. They thanked him and left, both anxious to get to Marco's.

Marco's was far from the type of place Lois and Clark usually frequented, except, however, when they were on a story. Then, who knows where they might end up. And, thanks to superspeed, it didn't take very long to whiz by their apartments to change into something a little less upscale. Clark was dressed in a black T-shirt, black jeans and boots. His sleeves were rolled up to expose his muscles. Lois wore blue jeans and a black leather jacket, which was unzipped just enough to reveal a form-fitting blouse.

Marco's was smoky, dark, and scuzzy. Almost all of the patrons were men. As the reporters walked in, everyone stopped to look at them. After the gazes subsided, Lois and Clark scanned the room and, as covertly as she could, Lois elbowed Clark and nodded in the direction of one pool table in particular. A man who looked just like Derek Brockhurst was playing pool by himself in a corner. He wore dark clothes and a long sleeved shirt. Lois and Clark approached the table.

"Like to play a game?" Clark asked, as they neared Alan.

"How much?"

"Twenty bucks?" Clark replied, attempting not to sound green. He hoped that he had offered the guy enough.

"Okay, rack 'em up."

Alan was drinking beer and took a swig. Clark began to rack up the pool balls. Wanting to fit in, Lois walked over to the bar and ordered two beers. As the bartender turned to draw two beers out of the fridge, an enormous man sidled up to Lois.


Glancing suspiciously sideways, Lois responded, "Hi."

"Can I buy you a drink?"

Lois answered, "No, thanks," knowing from the way his eyes were moving across her body that he wanted much more than to buy her a simple drink. She turned away and looked over to see how Clark was doing. This Cro-Magnon turned and followed her gaze. "You with him?"

"Yeah," Lois said, as she turned back to the bar.

"You deserve someone better than him."

With her curiosity peaked, she looked at him, "Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah, you don't want some pretty boy," he ventured, as he put his arm around Lois' waist. "You want someone who's been around."

The bartender came over with two beers and watched this scene unfold. "Get your hands off me." She threw his hands off of her, and she was no longer just a reporter on a story. But the ape didn't appreciate the gesture.

"Hey, don't get nasty. I'm just being friendly." Attempting to assert what he believed to be his superiority, he put his hands on Lois' shoulders. As he did this, Clark noticed what was happening. He too forgot that he was working and instantly reacted to seeing this man put his hands on Lois. He dropped his pool cue and began to walk toward the bar.

"Besides, do you think pretty boy is going to come over here and fight me?" as he nodded in Clark's direction.

Lois looked at his hands on her, as he watched with an obtuse grin on his face. Then Lois returned his gaze. She replied, "I don't know what he's going to do, but I know what I'm going to do."

She brought her arms up over his and slapped them away. Then she quickly kicked him in the groin. As he doubled over in pain, she threw some money on the bar, picked up the two beers and headed over to the table. Clark had stopped halfway between the pool table and the bar when Lois delivered that kick. With fire still in her eyes and evident in her stride, Lois walked by Clark without looking at him, while handing him a beer. Clark grinned as he watched her walk back to the pool table and then followed her. Every day for almost three years he had found something new about Lois to amaze him.

As they approached, Alan snarled at Clark, "Okay, if you're finished watching over your girlfriend, let's start." Flipping a coin, he said, "Call it."


"Go ahead and break."

Clark knew that he would have to hold back, and Alan sipped his beer as he shot. Nothing went in. Alan then hit a ball which went in. He continued hitting balls in without looking at either Lois or Clark. Lois winked at Clark and said, "Honey, I don't feel too well again."

Hearing this, Brockhurst became interested, "What's wrong with you?"


"What symptoms do you have?" he uttered, and Lois knew that she was reeling him in.

Making it up as she went along, Lois stammered, "Um, I've been feeling real tired, um, nauseous, thirsty."

Sounding almost like a doctor, Alan surmised, "Could be anything. Diabetes, anemia, you could be pregnant."

At these words, Lois looked sheepishly at Clark and instinctively responded, "I'm pretty sure it's not the last thing." But she recovered herself quickly and recalled her mission, "You a doctor or something?"

"No, not me. That's my brother's department." Brockhurst clearly was not pleased at his utterance, but Clark couldn't let the opportunity pass.

"Oh, maybe she could go see him then. Where's his office?"

With a self-satisfied tone, Alan responded, "Don't think he'd be interested. He's indisposed at the moment." But, as he said these words, he shot, and, this time, he missed.

Lois pressed on, "Oh. He's not practicing medicine anymore?"

Alan angrily responded, "Look, are we going to stand here chatting all day or play pool. Just shoot, man."

Knowing that they had gotten what they came for, Clark quickly cleared the table of the remaining balls. He took only half of the forty dollars off the table. After all, he had an advantage that Brockhurst could never have realized. Clark put his arm around Lois, and they walked out.

Out on the street, they teased each other, both still keyed up from the reaction they had gotten from Alan. That reaction had told them a great deal.

"It's fun to watch you in action," Lois told her husband-to-be.

"I could say the same. I think that guy's sons felt that kick."

"Please don't tell me he has reproduced." They both laughed, enjoying their work and each other.

Lois, however, shifted gears without taking a breath, "Well, it's pretty clear that Alan Brockhurst has a grudge against Derek. But we've got no proof that he was involved in the murder."

"That is, unless he has a cut," Clark said nonchalantly.

"He didn't have any cuts," Lois quickly responded, but then she looked at Clark.

Clark slyly grinned. "Not that weren't covered by clothes." He lowered his glasses.

"Clark Kent!" Lois was both proud and amazed.

Clark knew that Lois would do almost anything to get a story, and she had never flinched at his use of his powers once she had discovered his secret. But he sometimes felt that it was cheating. Nonetheless, when he did use them, it was justified. Most of the time, anyway. "It's not something I would do under normal circumstances ... or for my own purposes but ..." He paused, thinking about the other night at Lois' martial arts class when he had almost used them to peek at Lois.

Lois paused, as well, however, recalling when his powers had been transferred to her, and she *had* used them to check him out. "Yeah, that would be wrong." She still hadn't told him about that yet. Oh well, she'd wait to tell him until after they were married or at least until after they made love. If that ever happened, she thought to herself, recalling the prior night. "Anyway, what did you see?" she asked, breaking the silence.

"A small cut on his wrist. I also scanned Derek at the jail -- no cuts."

They stopped walking, and Lois turned to Clark, "It all makes sense now. He set up Derek."

Clark agreed, "I think so. What if Alan Brockhurst was so upset and jealous of his brother that he couldn't stand seeing Derek happy?"

They began to trade sentences in a decided rhythm, with the pace picking up as the conversation progressed. Lois responded, "So he plots to set him up for murder."

"Right. He kills a woman right near Derek's building...."

"And he cuts himself purposely...."

"Knowing that his DNA matches Derek's exactly."

"Then he goes into Derek's building, hoping that he'd been seen."



They kissed each other hard and then stopped. They took a couple of breaths and, without blinking an eye, began their conversation again.

"Now, how do we prove it?" Lois queried.

"I've got an idea. Alan's whole plan was to ruin Derek's life, right?"

Lois' eyes lit up. "So, what if Alan thought Derek's life wasn't ruined?"

"Exactly. What if he thought Derek was coming home?"

The next morning Lois was in her Jeep across the street from a low-rent apartment building. She sipped her coffee and watched the building. Clark walked out of the building, crossed the street and entered the Jeep. With an eager lilt in her voice, Lois asked, "Did you plant it?"

Clark answered with a self-satisfied, "Yep."

"I sure hope that this works."

"It will," Clark reassured her.

Lois looked over at the building at the moment Alan Brockhurst was coming out. It would be obvious to anyone watching him that he was none too pleased.

"There he is, Clark. Time to be Superman."

"See you later, honey."

Clark kissed her and exited the Jeep. Lois watched him run into a nearby alley and heard the familiar whooshing sound that had always sent a shiver through her and still did. She started up the Jeep and headed toward the place where they expected Alan to go next. If they were wrong, Clark was following him and would find her. If they were right, they would have one hell of a story.

Lois waited in her vehicle outside of Derek Brockhurst's building. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity to someone with slightly less than the patience of Job, she finally saw Alan purposefully striding into the building. That was her cue. She picked up the phone.

Superman hovered over the building. Even from this distance, he saw Lois dialing her phone, and, using his x-ray vision to see into Derek's apartment, he watched Alan, who had no idea that anyone had an inkling of what he was up to.

In the hallway outside of Derek's apartment, Alan jimmied the lock and entered. He looked around the apartment, and, seeing the bathroom, he went in. He then pulled a screwdriver out of his pocket and removed the showerhead. He took a tube out of his pocket and, with some maneuvering, fit it into the showerhead. He then screwed the cover back in place. Next, he pulled a small bottle from his coat and put it in Derek's medicine cabinet. He was careful to leave the door half open. Little did he know that another pair of eyes watching, and little did he know that those eyes were the eyes of both a superhero and a reporter.

Out in the hallway, Alan peeked out the door, stepped out, and quietly closed it, but, as he turned to leave, he bumped into what felt like a wall. He was taken aback when he looked up and saw Superman staring him down. Superman grabbed him by the collar, "Let's go back in, Mr. Brockhurst."

By this time, the deceitful instinct of the criminal returned, "What are you talking about, Superman? I'm just leaving my apartment."

But the Man of Steel knew better, "No, you're leaving Derek Brockhurst's apartment."

"*I'm* Derek Brockhurst. Didn't you read the paper?" Alan insisted.

"You're *Alan* Brockhurst." And, with these words, Alan knew that he was in trouble.

A criminal rarely returns to the scene of his crime with the person who has caught him, but this was no ordinary law enforcement official. In Derek's bathroom, Superman took off the showerhead and removed the tube. He sniffed it carefully, and, without a doubt in his mind, he knew he had captured Janine Harper's killer. "Cyanide," he said, both angered and saddened at the inhumanity this man had demonstrated through his acts. Brockhurst said nothing. Superman then looked into the medicine cabinet and sniffed the bottle. "Mmm, hmm." He grabbed Alan, and they left.

The two men walked out of the building. Lois watched from the sidewalk. At first, Alan didn't notice her but then realized that she was the same woman he had met in the bar yesterday.

Knowing by the look on Clark's face that they had their killer and their story, Lois greeted him, "Hi, Superman. Everything okay?"

"I think it'll be just fine now, Lois." Looking at Alan, "For everyone except Mr. Brockhurst here, that is. I don't think they give light sentences for murder, attempted murder, breaking and entering, and trying to frame your brother."

As he finished his sentence, the police drove up. Superman handed Alan Brockhurst over to the officers. He told them, "Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent, and I will be in to make a statement, officers." They thanked him and put Alan in the car. Superman and Lois walked away so that they would not be overheard.

"Well, I guess Lane and Kent should go talk to the police. Superman can go later." Clark did not relish having to give two statements when one was all they needed, but it was one of the prices of leading a double life. And, when he looked at Lois, he knew he needed one. Imagine what people would do if they found out who he really was. He and Lois could never have a life -- their job, their marriage, and their future family. He would constantly be hounded, and Lois would be in danger from all of the warped individuals who found it a challenge to try to bring down Superman. It was definitely worth the extra hassles he had to deal with.

Superman looked around and then pulled Lois into an alley. She watched as he spun himself around, metamorphosing into Clark. As she watched this spectacle which she alone was privileged to share, she slyly said to her fiance, "Do you think that you could do that more slowly some time?"


"Clark!" she teased him.

She took his arm as they walked out of the alley, and Clark looked at her in disbelief. There was still a bit of Kansas farmboy in him, but he also was animated by her remark.

Later that Friday night, after all "three" of them had given their statements to the police, Lois and Clark finished up their work, jotting down ideas for their follow-up on the Brockhurst matter. Lois sat at her desk and looked over at her partner. He felt her gaze and returned it. She came over and leaned against his desk.

"Hey you." He touched her hand beneath the desk where no one else could see. Lois bent over and semi-whispered, "Hey you. Let's get out of here."


As they were packing up to leave, Perry and Jimmy approached.

"Great job, you two."

"Thanks, Chief," Clark responded.

Jimmy was fascinated, "Alan Brockhurst was so jealous of his brother that he couldn't stand to see him happy, so he framed him for murder. But how did you guys figure it out?"

"Well, we had a little help from Superman," Clark said, patting himself on the back, although no one but Lois knew it. "You see, Alan Brockhurst read the morning edition of the Daily Planet."

But Jimmy was confused, "So?"

Lois grinned impishly. "Too bad for Alan he wasn't reading the real Planet." She lifted a newspaper and showed Jimmy the front page. The headline read, "Derek Brockhurst To Be Freed For Lack Of Evidence."

"I don't think he'll like tomorrow's top story by Lane and Kent either," Clark added.

Lois explained, "When he thought his plan had failed, thanks to two wily reporters, he figured he would kill his brother and make it look like a suicide by cyanide poisoning."

Clark finished, "Superman saw him put the cyanide in the showerhead but plant a bottle in the medicine cabinet to make it look like Derek, feeling guilty for murdering Janine Harper, committed suicide."

"Pretty sick, huh?" Lois added. Everyone nodded in agreement.

But, ever the optimist, Clark indicated, "Well, there *is* a more uplifting side to the story. Although Derek Brockhurst was quite upset over his brother, he was relieved to be out of jail and back with Melissa. They're getting married in a few months." And, stealing a glance at Lois, he made the loaded comment, "They're not going to wait any longer."

"That's great," Jimmy replied.

Perry, somewhat sadly, noted, "Well, at least there's a happy ending some time. Have a good weekend."

Lois returned the sentiment, "Thanks, Chief, you too," knowing that, until he and Alice were back together, he wouldn't be having very many good weekends.

Clark pulled Jimmy aside as Lois packed her attache, "Jimmy, any dates?"

Jimmy grinned and nodded.

"Be careful."

"I will, C.K.," Jimmy said, enjoying the ribbing from Clark, who had become like an older brother to him.

After Jimmy and Perry had left, Lois asked, "What do you want to do tonight?"

"I was thinking that we might spend some quiet time alone."

They both knew what he meant.

"Are you taking the night off?" Lois gestured with her hand with their signal for flying.

Clark whispered, as he always did when discussing his other identity, "Yes ... , um, the whole night. We have to have some time for us and only us, kind of relationship can we have? The world will just have go on as if Superman never existed for one night."

Lois paused, "Okay. Why don't you meet me back at my apartment at eight o'clock?"

"See you there," Clark anxiously replied.

Lois watched Clark as he left. She was feeling so many things, the predominant two of which were excitement and nervousness.

At her apartment, Lois rushed around putting candles throughout the apartment and lighting them. She put on soft music and turned the electric lights off just as there was a knock at the door. She opened it and smiled at Clark, "Hi."

Clark recognized that smile as the one designated only for him. It said as much as any words could. "Hi," he replied. As he entered, he noticed the candles and swallowed hard.

He handed her one red rose and kissed her softly. She smiled, took his hand and led him over to the couch. Clark sat down and took a deep breath. Lois sat beside him and faced him. Ever the more daring, Lois spoke first, "Clark, I love you."

"I love you too."

Lois touched his face and kissed him softly. As their kiss deepened, he pulled her onto his lap so that she was facing him. As each of their mouths searched the other's, they lost themselves. Lois gently pulled away and began to unbutton his shirt. As she did this, she kissed down his neck and chest. Clark leaned back and breathed deeply, taking in every one of her touches. She slipped off his shirt and moved back to his mouth. Clark felt her begin to unbutton her own blouse, and his heart stopped. He reluctantly put his hand over hers and stopped her.

"Lois ..." he said breathlessly, as he removed his mouth from hers.

"What?" Lois responded, intent now on kissing his neck. But she did not hear the words she expected.

"Lois, we can't yet."

These words got her attention, and she sat up. "Why not? Clark, we love each other, we're getting married...." She thought maybe he had changed his mind. They had once talked about waiting until their wedding.

"No, Lois, it's not that. There's still a lot to talk about."

"Don't worry everything is taken care of," she reassured him, and she moved forward to kiss him.

But he wasn't concerned with birth control, at least not directly. "Lois, please. There are some things we need to discuss."

Lois slid off of his lap. "Clark, what is it? This has *almost* happened many times before, and you never stopped." She looked at him with that hurt and confused look, as she said, "Don't you want...."

But, before she could utter those insecure words, he stopped her, not wanting her to think for one second that his hesitation had anything to do with her desirability. He took her face in his large hands and said, "Lois, I've wanted you for so long. Stopping now is the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. Trust me, stopping a nuclear explosion is much easier for me. But there are some things that you need to know."

"Like what? When you said you were taking the night off, the *whole* night off, I thought that that meant that tonight was *the* night."

"Lois, I'm sorry. My head was saying that we should slow down. But every other part of me was saying differently. I want this to happen just as much as you do.... Lois, I've never done this before."

"Yes, so?" She had gotten used to that concept long ago.

Clark explained, "I could never let myself get close enough to anyone because of Superman, until now. Until now, I could live with that."

"Clark, what is the problem? This will all work itself out," she said playfully. "I promise I'll be gentle," she said, and she nipped at his ear.

Clark felt a tingle go through him, but he caught himself before he let it affect his judgment, "Lois, please. Because I've never done this before, I don't know what the ... effects will be. I know that it's not dangerous for you, but I'm still worried."

But, now, Lois was angry, "I thought you gave up this overprotective, controlling stuff. What did you think, that we would never make love?"

"No, but...."

She cut him off, "Clark, give me a little credit. Don't you think I've thought of this a million times since I figured out you were Superman?" She took a deep breath and calmed herself down, "Whatever consequences there are, we will deal with them, right?"

"Right, but what if you get ... pregnant? It may be more likely with me."

Lois reassured him, "I've taken precautions which should work, but ... I can't believe I'm saying this, but I would be okay with that if it happens." She paused, and, with trepidation, she asked, "Would you?"

Without hesitation, Clark responded, "Yes, I would, but, Lois, are you very sure?"

In all honesty, Lois replied, "I've never been more sure in my life. You know I've never let anyone get this close to me. For the longest time, I was afraid of committing -- of the intensity of needing someone so much... before."

These words touched him as much as any ever had. "Lois, I love you."

As she stroked his face, she said softly, "I love you too. Now, please kiss me, farmboy."

"Why, Ms. Lane, are you seducing me?" Clark played along.

She gently said, "I sure hope so."

And he whispered, "I can live with that."

He kissed her softly and lifted her off of the couch. As he carried her into the bedroom, she nuzzled against his chest, and he knew that he would remember this moment for the rest of his life.

Lois lay with her head on Clark's chest. The candles still burned, but they were burnt down low. Their clothes were strewn about the floor, and the blankets were untucked. Clark stroked Lois' hair and looked down at her. Although she had been with other men, whatever that had been, it was nothing like this. This was as new to her as it was to Clark.

A wicked smile stole across Lois' face, "What time is it?"

Clark looked over at the clock radio, "Two a.m." He looked down at Lois and smiled.

"Four and a half hours!" She stated with a pleased lilt in her voice. Lois figured that she must be the luckiest woman on earth. She might just be the first woman who would roll over and go to sleep before her lover. Of course, she couldn't tell anyone, but she knew and that was enough.

"Have you ever read any Plato?" Clark asked.

A slightly puzzled Lois responded, "A little. Why?"

"In the Symposium, all of these old Greek guys are sitting around talking about love. One of them says that each of us is looking for the other half of ourselves and that love happens when you find your other half. I've memorized part of it, because it's the way I've felt ever since I met you." He looked down at her and spoke quietly but with a strength that he had never before felt.

"'And so, when a person meets the half that is his very own, then something wonderful happens: the two are struck from their senses by love, by a sense of belonging to one another, and by desire, and they don't want to be separated from one another, not even for a moment. These are the people who finish out their lives together and still cannot say what it is they want from one another.... Look at your love, and see if this is what you desire: wouldn't this be all the good fortune you could want?'"

Lois had never heard a more beautiful sound that those words coming from Clark's lips. As he spoke, her eyes moistened and her heart filled with all of the emotion that had been built up over their lengthy partnership. As he finished speaking Plato's words, Clark lifted her up. They look into each other's eyes, and Clark put into his own words how he was feeling, "Lois, I never thought I could love you more than I did, but making love to you made me feel closer than I ever thought two people could be." He stroked the side of her face in the same way he had when she had first realized that he was two men melded into one. "It's like I've been waiting my whole life to feel that I really belong to something ... to someone, and, tonight, ... I do."

Lois put her hand behind his head and pulled him to her, "I know the feeling." As she kissed him, she felt his involuntary response, and she knew that she wasn't going to get much sleep that night. But, then again, sleep was overrated.

In the newsroom of the Daily Planet the following Monday morning, Jimmy and Perry were looking over photographs that Jimmy had taken, when they noticed Lois and Clark sauntering in. Lois yawned, and even the normally peppy Clark seemed a little tired. As it dawned on them, Jimmy and Perry looked at each other with raised eyebrows, and each of them secretly envied Clark.

After they got coffee, the pair split up and went to their respective desks. Lois turned on her computer, and Clark picked up a piece of paper from his desk and began to read it. Both were feigning an absorption in their work, but it would be evident to anyone watching that they were distracted. Giving in, Lois peered over at Clark. Knowing instantly that she had relented, Clark looked back and raised his eyebrows twice. Lois smiled and turned away, and Clark came over to her desk.

He bent down and whispered, "I can't stop thinking about this weekend."

"I can't either. I can't believe we didn't leave the apartment the whole time." As those last words trickled out of her mouth, Lois Lane actually giggled.

"Pizza delivery is a wonderful thing," Clark added.

As they laughed and continued to recall the details of their weekend, they realized that others in the newsroom were watching them. Lois quickly looked back at her computer screen, and Clark walked back to his desk.

A delivery man entered from the elevator holding two boxes and approached Jimmy, "Is Clark Kent here?"

"Yeah, he's over there."

He walked over to Clark and said, "Here you go." Clark thanked him and began to take the ribbon off the box. Lois looked over and knew what she would see.

The delivery man started to walk away but looked at his clipboard and turned back. He approached Lois' desk, "Are you Lois Lane?"


"Enjoy," he said with a grin, as he looked back over at Clark.

"Thanks," she said in surprise.

Both reporters pulled a dozen red roses out of their boxes. They read the cards and smiles involuntarily formed on their faces. They looked up simultaneously and caught the other's gaze. Lois walked over to Clark holding the card. He picked up his card. But both knew what the other's said. "Thank you," they both read.

"Scary, isn't it?" Clark said.

"Not really," Lois replied. She looked up into his eyes and squeezed his hand.

Then Lois Lane, as always, went back to work. But, this morning, she went back to work happier, more confident and more secure than she had ever before felt. And she didn't have to worry that Clark wouldn't understand why she had such passion for her work. He shared it and lived it. They complemented each other in so many ways -- her energy to his calm; her impatience to his tolerance; her instinct to his thoughtfulness. Lois had been looking for her equal all of her life. She found him that day that Perry introduced her to that "hack from Nowheresville," as she had once called him.

Clark watched his life-mate return to her desk, knowing that every morning for the rest of his life he would want to see that face. He wouldn't be able to do so every morning because of his other duties, but he silently vowed that, if there was any possible way he could watch her wake up, he would be there. If only for those few moments when she slammed her hand down on the alarm clock and then rolled over to reach for him. Then, he went back to work.