When You Needed Me Most

By Erin Klingler (erinklingler@cableone.net)

Summary: It's too late to get Lois to the hospital, so Clark has to deliver the baby himself. It's not going well, but even worse trials are yet to come.

Authors Note: I wrote this several months ago, before I even knew there was such a thing as fanfic. I had only intended to keep this for myself, but after reading all the other fanfic out there, I thought somebody might enjoy reading this. (I hope so, anyway!) It's full of WAFFs and also several very big WHAMs!

When I first sent this out to some of my buddies for proof reading, they found so many holes in the a-plot that I was ready to deep-six it. But with the help and encouragement of so many of my friends on IRC, I was able to rewrite it and make it a much better story. So I send out a huge thank you to Kathy Brown, Rochelle Harrison, Adrienne Vukovic, Michele Clark, Rich Synave, Rachel Royce, Jen Stosser, and Gina Blank—for without all their help, encouragement, and many late nights of brainstorming on IRC, this story couldn't have been salvaged. Thanks you guys!

As always, comments and/or suggestions would be *greatly* appreciated!

* denotes emphasis on a word

**denotes a person's thoughts

(ELK on IRC)


Lois rolled over in bed, still half asleep, wondering what it was that woke her up from the deep sleep she had just been in moments before. She glanced over at the alarm clock resting on her nightstand and saw that its luminous figures read 1:30. She stared around the room, searching and listening for anything out of the ordinary that would've caused her to wake up.

But the only sound she heard was the sound of Clark's slow, rhythmic breathing as he slept peacefully beside her. She shrugged off the strange feeling that something had caused her to wake up, and cuddled up next to Clark, pressing herself against his back and slipping her arm over his side so she could rest her hand on his flat, muscular stomach.

Her touch caused him to stir a little, and he shifted slightly, pressing even closer to her. Lois smiled, though, when her protruding belly prevented him from snuggling as close as he would've liked. She was just beginning her eighth month of pregnancy, and Lois already felt as if she couldn't possibly get any bigger. Her skin was already stretched tightly over her abdomen, and she was beginning to feel uncomfortable in these later stages of pregnancy. It was getting increasingly harder to sleep comfortably, and being on her feet for long periods of time had simply become out of the question.

It was tough on Lois, who was still one part of the toughest investigative journalism team of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, because her mind was still able to continue her tasks at the Daily Planet. But her body simply refused to perform, and finally Perry had practically forced her to take a maternity leave for her final month of pregnancy. "You're no good to us here, moaning and groaning about how wiped out you're feeling," Perry had told her firmly. "If you're body is trying to tell you to stay off your feet more, then I think you should. I'm sure your doctor would agree with me, too."

So, much to Lois' disappointment, she'd been grounded, so to speak. Now she was forced to spend a few hours a day at home with her feet propped up, using her laptop to work on the smaller, less exciting stories that Perry had assigned her to.

Lois was brought back to the present when Clark rolled over to face her, though still fast asleep. She stared into the face of the man she loved so deeply, more deeply than she ever knew was possible.

She thought back to when she and Clark had gotten married on that beautiful secluded mountain with only her family and two closest friends, Jimmy and Perry. She could still remember the onrush of emotions she felt when she and Clark were finally pronounced husband and wife. Lois knew that without a doubt, it had been the best day of her life. But she'd had no idea that after a year of marriage to this wonderful man, she could love him even more than she had back then.

Maybe it was because they were able to spend every day together, their love for each other growing deeper each day that passed. Or maybe it was because she was carrying their child.

She smiled softly as she moved her arm from Clark's side and placed her hand lightly on her swollen abdomen, lovingly caressing the bulge that was occupied by their soon-to-be son or daughter.

Her thoughts drifted back to about seven months ago, when she and Clark had only been married a few months. Lois had started feeling sick, but they hadn't thought much of it, since the flu had been going around. She took a couple of days off from work at the Planet, and stayed at home in bed. But when her symptoms persisted for several days, she began to wonder if it was really the flu that she had. She tried her best to act as if she was feeling better so Clark wouldn't worry, but it turned out to be pretty hard to hide her quick, frequent dashes to the bathroom. Clark had finally insisted that she go see a doctor.

That morning at the doctor's office a few days later, Lois had had the shock of her life. She could still remember when the doctor had entered the room, test results in hand and a big smile on his face. "Well, the way you're feeling is going to last a bit longer than any regular strain of the flu. About nine months longer, to be exact. Lois, congratulations! You're pregnant."

She remembered driving home from the doctor's office in a daze, wondering how Clark was going to take the news. They had decided even before they'd gotten married that they were going to wait a while before having children. But now their decision to wait had been changed for them.

Lois had paced around the apartment the rest of the morning, rehearsing the way she was going to break the news to Clark when he got home for lunch. It must've shown that she was still in a state of shock when he finally walked through the door, because he had taken one look at the distraught expression on her face and immediately expected the worst.

"Lois, honey, what is it? What's the matter? What did the doctor say?" Clark's questions ran together into one long sentence, his concern for her evident in his voice.

Her practiced speech immediately flew out the window when she saw how worried he was, and she simply blurted out the news. "Clark, I'm pregnant." Then she braced herself for his reaction, not knowing what he would do or say next.

But Clark's reaction was definitely not what Lois had expected. He let out a loud whoop, picked her up in his arms and spun her around excitedly, pausing only to kiss her soundly on the lips and tell her how much he loved her.

Though Clark had been thrilled and happy about the prospects of having a baby, Lois was filled with doubts and concerns. What if this baby turned out differently than everyone expected? After all, this baby would be half Kryptonian, and half human. Nobody knew what to expect. Would the baby be born a normal infant, or would he or she have super powers like Clark did?

Of course, Clark didn't get his powers until he was a teenager. But maybe being born here on Earth with a yellow sun would cause this baby to have super powers much earlier than Clark did. What then?

And there were also her concerns about being pregnant. She'd never been pregnant, and she hadn't the slightest idea of what to expect. There were books she could read, she knew, that could help her know what to expect. She smiled as she remembered wondering (not seriously, of course) if there was a book somewhere that would tell her what to expect of a Kryptonian pregnancy.

But what she worried the most about was what would happen when her figure began to change and her abdomen began to swell. Would Clark still find her attractive? What would happen when her slim and curvy figure started to become not so slim and curvy? Would it turn him off? She didn't know if she could handle that if it happened. She loved Clark with all her heart, and wanted to please him and continue to have him loving her as much as she loved him.

As it happened, she needn't have worried. When she began to show, Clark got more and more excited. Every morning when they'd wake up, Clark would roll over in bed and kiss her tenderly. Then he'd turn his attention to her growing abdomen.

He'd place his hands gently on her stomach and lower his face so that his mouth was by her navel. Then he'd speak loudly to their unborn child, saying things like, "How are you this morning, kiddo?" or "How's my up and coming journalist doing today?" Then he'd rub her stomach gently, almost reverently. She thought it was just about the sweetest thing she'd ever seen, this bond that Clark was developing with his unborn child.

And as she and Clark went to the doctors appointments together, learning how their baby was growing and developing, she could see the love for her in Clark's eyes growing daily, and he seemed to love her more each day. The pregnancy was creating a special bond between them, knowing that together they had created this life growing inside of her.

One morning, as the pregnancy began to enter its later stages, Clark did his morning ritual of talking to the baby, and was surprised when he felt the baby kick in response to his voice. Clark's entire face had lit up, looking exactly as if he were a child on Christmas morning. He had been so excited that he could hardly contain himself. He swarmed around the Planet's newsroom as soon as they arrived at work that morning, telling every single person he could find about how the baby had kicked.

Lois remembered rolling her eyes in exasperation, and complained to him when he'd finally returned to his desk that not every person in Metropolis wanted to know about this latest development. But secretly she'd been thrilled at Clark's excitement. It made her feel good that Clark was taking such an active roll in this pregnancy, and it made her feel special that she was the one carrying the child of the man she loved.

Lois ran her hand one more time over her baby bulge, and smiled at Clark, who was still asleep. She knew, without a doubt, that he was going to be the greatest dad in the whole world.

Suddenly she felt a sharp pain course through her, and she automatically curled herself into a tight ball, trying to ward off the pain. It grew stronger, and Lois let out an involuntary moan as she clutched at her stomach.

The noise woke up Clark, who looked over at her, startled, sleep still clouding his eyes. He propped himself up on one elbow and looked at her sleepily. "Lois? You okay?"

Lois pressed her hands firmly against her belly and lay silently for a minute as the pain started to subside. Then, as quickly as the pain had come, it was gone. She glanced over at Clark, who was still staring at her with concern.

"Yeah, I'm okay," she told him quietly. "I just had this sudden pain, but it's gone now." She slowly stretched back out underneath the covers, as if worried that any sudden movement might cause another pain to come.

Clark rubbed her shoulder lightly. "What kind of pain did you feel?"

"I'm sure it was nothing," she told him. "It was probably just from eating all that spicy food at dinner last night."

Clark watched her closely for another minute, as if he wasn't completely sure about whether to believe her or not. Finally, he gave her shoulder a squeeze and lay back down next to her. "Well, just let me know if you need anything. I'm right here."

She smiled softly at him. "Thanks."

Clark leaned forward and kissed the bare skin of her shoulder tenderly, then wrapped his arm around her and pulled her over next to him. She snuggled up against him, tucking her head under his chin and snuggling up against his chest.

She loved the feeling of him cuddled up next to her…the softness of the hairs on his leg brushing against the bare skin on her leg, the way he smelled as she rested her head against his chest, and the way it felt to have his arm draped over her. She loved being in his arms, and knew that she would never, ever grow tired of it. Feeling safe and contented, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Lois was startled awake again in the early hours of the morning. This time she had no trouble understanding what had woken her up as she felt a sharp pain stab at her abdomen. She grabbed at her stomach and tried to stifle a moan, not wanting to wake up Clark. But his super hearing picked up on the sound.

"Lois?" he asked, instantly awake.

Lois clutched at her stomach and sat upright, swinging her feet over the side of the bed so that they rested on the floor. She took several short, pained breaths as the dull, aching pain grew stronger.

**What kind of indigestion feels like this?** she asked herself silently. Then suddenly, the realization washed over her and Lois knew exactly what was happening. She wasn't having a bad case of indigestion. She was having a contraction!

Clark scooted over to her quickly and put his hands gently on her shoulders. "Lois, honey, are you okay?"

Feeling a little scared now that she knew what was happening, Lois turned to look at Clark. "Clark, I think I'm having a contraction."

Clark's eyes grew wide with shock and surprise. "You're having a *what*?" he asked in disbelief. "You can't be having a contraction! You're not due for another month yet!"

"I know that!" Lois snapped, feeling scared. "Don't you think I know that?"

A few seconds later, the pain subsided. Clark watched as Lois closed her eyes, breathed out slowly and then relaxed. "Is it over?" he asked, his eyes searching her face intently.

Lois opening her eyes back up and found herself staring straight into Clark's warm brown ones. She smiled slightly and nodded her head. "I'm okay. I guess it's over."

Clark looked at her worriedly. "Is this the first contraction you've had? Or have you been having them for a while?"

"I had one earlier this morning, but that's it."

"How long ago was that?" he asked.

"The first one was at 1:30 this morning," Lois told him before glancing over at the alarm clock again. It read 5:15.

Clark looked at the clock, too, and mentally counted the time between the two contractions. "Well, I don't think we have to get too concerned about this," Clark told her, wrapping his arms around her and drawing her to him. "Your contractions were almost four hours apart, so I doubt we need to get all panicky and rush you to the hospital. But I think we should keep track of any contractions you have so that if you start having them closer together, we can call the doctor and ask him what he thinks we should do."

Lois sighed into his bare chest. "Clark, I'm a little worried about this. Like you said, I'm not due for another month. I shouldn't be having contractions yet, should I?" She pulled away from Clark so that she could look up into his face.

Clark smiled reassuringly down at her. "I'm sure everything's fine, honey. Having a baby a month early these days isn't that big a deal anymore. Besides, we really don't know much about Kryptonian childbirth. Maybe Kryptonian babies mature faster, making the gestation period shorter. I just don't know."

"Clark, that's why I'm worried," Lois told him. "We really *don't* know that much about this. What if the kryptonian gestation period is supposed to be *longer* than nine months? Then that would mean something was wrong?"

Clark looked into her anxious face and rubbed her arms soothingly. "Lois, I'm sure everything is fine. You just had your doctor's appointment a week ago, and he said that everything was fine. So don't get all worked up about this. Let's just keep track of things for the next little while and she how everything goes. If you keep having contractions, we'll call the doctor and talk to him. Okay?"

Lois smiled softly at him. "Okay."

They stared into each other's eyes for several moments, and Lois was again amazed at how kind and loving the man was. Impulsively, she reached up her hand and brushed it across his cheek. He closed his eyes at her touch and then lifted his own hand to cover hers, pressing her hand tightly to his cheek.

"I love you, Clark," she whispered.

"I love you, too, Lois."

They sat that way for several minutes, until Clark finally stood up and pulled the sheets down on the bed. "Come on," he told her, gesturing to the bed. "You should get some sleep. If the contractions were four hours apart, it doesn't make any sense to wait up for the next one. It could be a while in coming, if at all."

He helped her get back in bed, then leaned down and kissed her gently on her forehead. "Aren't you coming back to bed, too?" Lois asked.

Clark shook his head. "It's almost 5:30, and I have to be up in about an hour anyway. I'll just stay up and do a few things around here until I have to get ready for work." At the mention of work, a thoughtful look crossed his face. "Maybe I should call Perry and tell him I won't be in to work this morning. I don't know if I want to leave you here all by yourself."

Lois reached for his hand. "Clark, I'll be fine. You should go to work. You have that bank theft story to finish. Besides, you're right that this is most likely nothing to worry about. Women in their eighth month probably have irregular contractions all the time…don't they?" She thought for a minute. "I'm sure they do. Didn't they say something about that in our prenatal class?"

Clark thought back, then nodded. "Yeah, I think they did." He looked down at her intently. "Are you sure about this? You don't want me to stay home with you?"

She shook her head adamantly. "No, I'll be fine. Go write your big story." Then a teasing smile crossed her face. "Besides, if I need you, I can just holler for *you-know-who*."

Clark's face broke out into a big grin. "Well, I'll just tell *you-know-who* to keep an ear out, then," he said as he gave her a quick kiss. Then he stood up and adjusted the covers around her a bit, making sure she was comfortable. "Now get some sleep."


Clark grabbed his robe and slipped it on before making his way to the door. Just before he left the room, he turned and smiled at her once more. "Sleep tight." Then he closed the door quietly behind him.

He took a couple of steps toward the kitchen but then stopped suddenly. Maybe it would be better if he left the door open a crack so that he could hear her if anything happened. But then he realized how silly that was. He'd be able to hear her through a closed door with his super hearing even if she made the tiniest noise. So it would probably be better to keep the door shut so his movements around the apartment wouldn't disturb her.

He wandered into the kitchen, intent on having some breakfast, and found himself unable to wipe his concern for Lois and their baby from his mind. Knowing how much Lois tended to worry and get worked up about things, he made sure he stayed calm and reassuring. And apparently he had.

But inside, he *was* a little concerned. As he told Lois, having a baby a month early these days wasn't that big a deal. But how did he know that this situation was nothing to worry about? He didn't have any past experience to compare this to. Only the prenatal classes that he and Lois were taking provided them with the information they needed.

He *did* seem to remember something from their class about it not being uncommon for women in their eighth month to have some contractions. But still, he found himself worrying about it a little.

**Well, worrying about this now isn't going to help anything,** Clark told himself as he put a couple slices of bread into the toaster. **We'll just have to wait and see what happens today.** Then with that decided, he set about his morning routine.

When he was finally ready to leave for work, Clark decided to check on Lois before he left to make sure she was okay. When he reached the bedroom door, he hesitated. He didn't want to open the door in case she was sleeping and the sound woke her up. So instead, he pulled his glasses down and used his x-ray vision to check on her.

She was curled up in the middle of the large bed, sound asleep, clutching his pillow tightly to her. He smiled. It made him feel good to know that she needed something of his to hold onto while she slept.

He watched her sleep for a few minutes, in awe of the beautiful woman that was all his. He'd never been able to get over feeling how truly lucky he was, that such an amazing woman could love him despite his many faults. With a happy sigh, he pushed the glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose and headed off to work.


Lois finally stirred as the mid-morning sun filtered in through the partially open blinds and fell across the bed. She stretched luxuriously and turned to see what time it was. She noticed, with some dismay, that it was almost ten-thirty. She had planned on finishing one of the no-brainer stories that Perry had assigned to her by noon, but now she doubted she'd have it done by then.

She lay there for another few minutes, torn between feeling guilty about sleeping so late, but happy to have a few minutes to do nothing at all. Her moment of peace was disturbed, however, when the phone rang.

With a moan, she rolled over onto her side and scooted toward the edge of the bed, feeling cumbersome and awkward. When she was able the phone, she lifted the receiver and pressed it to her ear.

"Hello?" she mumbled sleepily.

She heard Clark's voice on the other end. "Don't tell me you're still in bed and that I woke you up!" he said with a laugh. "How are you feeling? Is everything okay?"

Lois smiled a little and rolled over onto her back. "Everything is just fine. And no, you didn't wake me up. I woke up *by myself* a few minutes ago."

Clark chuckled. "Oh, okay. Whatever you say. Have you had any more contractions?"

"Nope," Lois told him, running her fingers through her short dark hair. "Not since 5:30."

"Good," he said, sounding relieved. "I was just thinking about you and wanted to make sure you were alright. Everything else okay, then?"

"Yeah. I think I'll just go take a shower and then work a little on that society piece that Perry assigned me." She rolled her eyes. "What a joke."

"Now, Lois," Clark began. "We've been though all this. It would be better for you to take things easy for a while. You can start back in on the investigative pieces after you have the baby."

"I guess," she said unhappily. Then she brightened as she remembered something. "Oh, Clark! Could you please stop by the store on your way home tonight and get a gallon of chocolate ice cream?"

Clark laughed. "Another one? I just bought you a gallon three days ago! You mean to tell me that it's gone already?"

"Hey, farmboy!" Lois said, trying not to laugh, too. "Don't give me a tough time! I'm eating for two, remember?"

"Sure, but you're supposed to be eating food that's good for you, not just chocolate ice cream by the gallon!" Clark pointed out, still laughing. "At this rate, this baby's going to be addicted to chocolate before it's even born."

Lois' first instinct was to defend herself and her eating habits, but then she realized that Clark was just teasing her, so she laughed, too.

"Okay, Lois. Chocolate ice cream it is," he said. "If you need me today, just call. But I'm going to ask Perry if I can leave a couple hours early so I can go home and be with you. Okay?"

"Okay," Lois responded. "Talk to you later. Love you."

Clark smiled. "Love you, too. Bye." Then he hung up the phone and went back to work on his story, satisfied that everything was okay.

Lois rolled over in bed and hung up the phone, deciding she'd better get up and shower. She hummed to herself as she walked into the bathroom and turned on the water, letting it get hot while she undressed.

With a sudden start, she realized that she was actually feeling pretty good today. In the past, she often felt worn out from doing the simple things like getting dressed and showering. But this morning, she felt exhilarated and energized.

**Maybe it was the extra sleep I got this morning,** she decided as she climbed into the stream of hot water. She stayed in the shower for what seemed like hours, letting the hot water soothe her muscles.

When she finally got out and got dressed (which was getting harder and harder to do each day, it seemed), she decided to take advantage of her unusual energy level and do some housework. By noon, Lois still felt great. She'd finished cleaning out the hall closet, done some work on her story, and finished two loads of laundry.

When Clark decided to go home for lunch so he could check on Lois, he was flabbergasted to see her in the kitchen, rubber gloves on, scrubbing the kitchen sink and counters. "Lois, what are you doing?" he asked in shock.

"Have you ever noticed how the grout around this sink never seems to come clean?" she asked, looking up from her scrubbing only long enough to give him a quick kiss. "I've tried a couple of different cleansers, and nothing seems to work."

Clark just continued to stare at her for a long minute, too shocked to say anything. Lois had never been the domestic type, and she hardly ever cooked, let alone scrubbed kitchen counters. There was something wrong with this picture.

Lois became self-conscious under his stare, and she stopped what she was doing to stare back at him. "What?"

He looked at her doubtfully. "Lois, are you sure you should be doing this? I mean, this morning you had a couple of contractions, and I think you should be taking it easy."

Lois waved off his concern. "No, no, Clark. I'm just fine. Actually, I haven't felt this good in a long time. I can't believe all the energy I have today. It must've been the extra sleep I got this morning."

"Ummm…Lois, " Clark began haltingly, not knowing how to say what he was thinking without causing her to worry.

"What is it, Clark?" she prompted, seeing the uncertainty in his eyes.

"It's just that… Lois, do you remember in our prenatal class when we talked about how women often get a big burst of energy the day or so before they deliver?"

Lois stared at Clark blankly for a minute, then it hit her. "Oh!" she said with sudden realization. "You're saying that I feel like this because…" she stopped.

Clark's only response was to raise his eyebrows at her. Lois' jaw dropped. "Wait, you don't think this means that I'm going to have this baby in the next couple of days, do you?"

Clark shrugged, and moved closer so he could put his hands on her shoulders and rub them lightly. "Everything does seem to be pointing in that direction. You had some contractions this morning, and now you seem to have this great supply of energy…" his voice trailed off.

Lois walked over and sank into the nearest kitchen chair, a stunned expression on her face. Clark pulled out a chair and sat down next to her. "Lois, honey, are you okay?"

She slowly took off her rubber gloves and laid them down on the table. "Clark, I'm not ready for this," she said. "I'm supposed to have a month before I'm due, and I kind of counted on that last month to prepare myself. I mean, childbirth is no easy task. Or so I've been told," she said, forcing a smile. "Anyway, I've always thought of how exciting it would be when I was ready to give birth to this baby, but now that I'm actually facing it, I don't know if I can do this. The truth is…I'm scared."

Clark smiled softly and pulled Lois into his lap, wrapping his arms comfortingly around her. "Lois, you *can* do this," he told her sincerely. "I know you can. Besides," he smiled at her tenderly. "You're not going to have to go through this alone. I'm going to be right with you the whole time, and we'll get through it *together*. Okay?"

As Lois looked back into Clark's kind, gentle eyes, she knew that he was right. They could do it together. "Oh, Clark. I don't know what I would do without you."

"Well, you wouldn't have anyone to buy you chocolate ice cream, that's for sure," he said with a teasing smile.


When Clark left to go back to work, he made Lois promise to spend the rest of the day taking things easy. She reluctantly agreed. But after he left and Lois was faced with a quiet house, the idea of curling up on the couch and doing nothing sounded wonderful.

She went into the bedroom and grabbed her pillow, a book, and a cozy afghan that Martha had made for them, and went into the front room. Then she made herself comfortable on the couch. It felt heavenly after her busy morning to lie down and not do anything.

She'd been reading for about a half-hour when she sensed that a contraction was coming. It wasn't as strong as the one she'd had earlier that morning, but it still wasn't a pleasant feeling. She grasped her book a little tighter and closed her eyes, waiting for the pain to subside. When it finally did, she let out a long, deep breath and glanced up at the clock on the wall. Doing some quick math, she figured it had been about eight hours since her last contraction.

**Well, that's hardly anything to worry about,** Lois thought to herself. The contractions were a far cry from being two minutes apart. She debated whether or not to phone Clark, but finally decided that one contraction wasn't worth getting him all worked up about. So she relaxed back on the couch and tried to concentrate on her book's intricate plot.

The rest of the afternoon was uneventful. Lois read a couple of chapters in her book and slept a little. When she woke up from her short nap and went into the kitchen for something to drink, she had another contraction. It was a little stronger than the previous one, but it didn't last very long. She thought again about calling Clark to let him know, but when she saw that it was almost time for Clark to get home, anyway, she decided to just wait and tell him when he got home.

A short time later, Clark walked in whistling cheerfully. He smiled when he saw her relaxing on the couch. "Hi," he said, coming over to sit beside her. He lifted her legs up so he could scoot underneath them, and rested her feet in his lap so he could massage them. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine," she told him with a smile. "But it's been kind of an exciting afternoon."

Clark's eyes lit up as he picked up on the meaning of her words. "Have you had more contractions?"

"Yes, a couple." She smiled at the looks of excitement and anxiety that crossed his face.

"Lois, I told you to call me if you started having contractions," he told her seriously. "Why didn't you?"

She shrugged. "I knew you'd be home in a couple of hours, and they weren't really that bad, so I decided not to bother you."

"Bother me?" Clark asked with a shake of his head. "Lois, as I told you earlier, we're in this together. I want to be here for you, whether it's for support or for you to use me as a punching bag when things start to get tough."

Lois laughed. "You mean you're actually giving me permission to beat you up? Maybe I should have a baby more often!"

Clark joined in with her laughter. "How many contractions did you have this afternoon?"

"Only two. I had one not too long after you left, and then another one about a half-hour ago. That would make them about three and a half hours apart."

"Okay. Then let's keep track of how close these get." He glanced at his watch, then looked back up at her. "Hungry? I brought us some *non-spicy* food for dinner," he told her with a teasing smile.


After dinner, Lois and Clark spent the evening playing scrabble. Lois could tell that Clark was trying his best to keep her occupied so she wouldn't think about the contractions that could come at any time. But still she felt anxious. Midway through their third game, Lois stood up to make yet another trip to the fridge.

Clark rolled his eyes and laughed. "Lois, what is this…your fourth or fifth trip to the fridge? You've made so many trips that I've lost count!"

Lois poured herself a glass of juice, then shuffled back to the table. "It's my sixth," she stated matter-of-factly.

Clark laughed again. "Come on, Lois, will you please calm down? You're making *me* nervous!"

"Clark, I'm sorry," she told him as she fidgeted with her scrabble pieces. "But I can't help it. All this waiting around is driving me crazy! I can't handle it. I need something to do."

"But honey, we *are* doing something. Don't you remember our game?" he gestured to the scrabble game spread out on the table.

Lois sighed. "Clark, that's not what I mean. I need something *active* to do. I'm tired of just sitting around."

"Well, what do you want to do, then?"

Lois smiled at Clark mischievously. "How about we go flying?"

Clark shook his head. "I don't think that's such a good idea, honey. How about going for a walk, instead?"

Lois pouted, only half teasing. She would've loved to go flying with Clark. "Well, okay. At least that's better than sitting around here."

Clark couldn't help but notice the disappointed expression on her face. He stood up and went over to Lois, taking her hands in his and leaning down to give her a tender kiss. "Don't worry, Lois. We'll go flying again soon. I promise."


The walk seemed to help things move along, because Lois had a couple more contractions after she and Clark returned home. Then as the evening wore on, the contractions started coming closer together and were a little stronger each time.

Lois was lying down on the couch restlessly flipping through channels on the TV, when she felt another contraction start to come. "Clark—" she called out anxiously. He was beside her immediately, holding her hands and rubbing the backs of them gently with his thumbs. When the pain finally subsided, Lois breathed a sigh of relief. "You okay?" Clark asked, lifting his hand to brush at her bangs.

Lois nodded. "That was one of the worst ones yet. How long ago was my last one?"

Clark looked at his watch. "About forty-five minutes."

"Do you think we should call Dr. Meyers? Just to make sure everything is okay?"

"Well, I don't know if we need to call him just yet. Even if your contractions *are* getting stronger, they're still nearly an hour apart."

Lois nodded. "I know. But I guess I would just feel a little better if I could talk to him for a minute."

Clark thought for a minute, then smiled softly. "I guess it wouldn't hurt to give him a call. Where's his number?" He took the cordless phone from its base next to the couch and dialed the number Lois recited to him.

They were able to reach Dr. Meyers through his answering service, and they spoke to him briefly. Lois voiced her concerns about having the contractions even though she wasn't due for another month. Dr. Meyers listened patiently, then reassured her that it sounded as if everything was just fine.

"When your contractions get to be about five minutes apart, give me a call and I'll meet you at the hospital. Until then, just hang in there, and feel free to call me if you're concerned about anything else."

After they hung up, Clark smiled at Lois. "Feel better?"

"Yes, I do." She smiled and scooted closer to Clark. He put his arm around her and she snuggled up against him. "I guess I just needed to hear him say that everything was okay."

"And everything is," Clark said confidently. They sat together that way for a long time, neither speaking, just enjoying each other's closeness. After several minutes, a broad smiled crossed Clark's face. "I can't believe this is actually happening!" he said excitedly. "You're in labor, and it won't be long before we have this baby!"

Lois laughed at his enthusiasm. "Of course you're excited. You're not the one who's going to have to give birth to this child!" She poked him in the chest teasingly. "Hey, what about your parents? Should we call them and let them know what's going on?"

Clark's eyes lit up. "Oh, yeah! I'm sure they'd love to know." He picked up the phone again and dialed his parents' number. As the phone rang, Lois rearranged herself so she could lean back against the arm of the couch and rest her feet in Clark's lap for him to massage. Clark smiled at her. "Is that a hint?" he asked, nodding toward her feet.

"You bet!" she answered with a mischievous smile. He laughed, but started massaging her feet anyway. A moment later, Martha answered the phone. "Mom!" Clark said, looking as if he was about to burst. "Guess what? Lois is in labor!" He looked over and caught Lois' eye, and winked at her.

Lois could hear the excited shriek from Martha clear from where she sat, a couple feet away from Clark. Both she and Clark laughed. Then they could hear Martha calling to Jonathan, telling him to get on the phone.

A minute later Clark was answering questions about how far apart Lois' contractions were, what the doctor had said, and that yes, even though Lois wasn't due for a few weeks yet, the doctor said everything sounded like it was fine. He talked for a while longer, then he felt Lois' hand start to squeeze his arm tightly. He looked at her and saw that she was tensing up, and knew that another contraction was coming.

"Mom, I've got to go. Lois is having another contraction. Yes, we'd love to have you come. Okay. We'll see you then. Bye." He hung up the phone and squeezed Lois' hand. "It's okay, Lois. I'm right here. Just hang in there. It'll be gone in a minute." He continued to reassure her until the contraction ended.

"Well, they're definitely getting stronger," Lois told him when it was over. "I guess that's to be expected. But I'll tell you, I'll be glad when this is all over. I don't think I care for labor too much."

Clark laughed. "I'll bet." They were silent for a minute. Hey, I just thought of something," he said suddenly. "We never did finish picking out names for the baby."

"Oh, you're right!" Lois said. "What did we have it narrowed down to?"

"Let me grab the notebook," Clark said as he stood up and walked over to the bookcase. He pulled the thin notebook down from the shelf, then walked back to Lois. He sat back down next to her and opened it up, laying it across both of their laps so they could both see what was written in it. "Okay," he said matter-of-factly as he scanned the list of names. "I remember we had a bunch of names that we both liked. Which ones do you like the best?"

"For a girl or a boy?" Lois asked, studying the list thoughtfully.

"A boy, of course."

"Wait a minute!" Lois said with a laugh. "What do you mean 'of course'? Are you saying that you'd rather have a boy?"

Clark laughed. "Lois, lighten up! I don't care what we have, as long as you and the baby are healthy." But he started reading off names from the boy names list anyway, and Lois rolled her eyes at him.

They went through their list of names, both for boys and for girls, debating about each one. After several minutes, though, Lois couldn't bring herself to pick any of them. She leaned back against the couch cushion and sighed.

Clark looked over at her, studying her carefully. "What was that sigh for?"

Lois shook her head. "It's just that none of these names sound right to me," she confessed. "If I tell you something, will you keep an open mind about it?"

He leaned back, too, so that he could look directly into her serious brown eyes. "You know I will," he assured her. "What's on your mind?"

"Well, it's just that I've been thinking about something for a while, and I wasn't sure how you'd feel about it," she began. She looked down at her hands for a minute, then back up into Clark's intent face. When she saw that she had his undivided attention, she rushed on. "OK, here goes. I know that you don't want anyone to be given any clues to your true heritage, but I'd really like to name this baby after your Kryptonian parents…kind of as a tribute to them. I mean, if they hadn't had the courage and love for you to send you away from them in a space ship to earth, never knowing if you'd reach your destination, I'd have never met the man of my dreams."

Clark's expression became tender, and he raised his hand to lay it lovingly on Lois' cheek. "And I would've met the woman of *my* dreams."

Lois smiled warmly at Clark. "So you understand why I'd like to do this?"

"Yes, I understand how you feel, and I feel the same way," Clark said with a sigh. "But if we named our child Jor-el or Lara, someone might get suspicious."

"I've already thought of that," Lois told him. "So, how about if we use "Jordan" for a boy or "Laura" for a girl? That way we're still honoring your parents by using a form of their names."

A warm and very pleased smile spread across Clark's face. He reached out to stroke her cheek lovingly. "I couldn't think of anything I'd like more. Thank you for understanding how much my heritage means to me."

Lois leaned over to him and met him halfway for a long, delicious kiss. "I do understand. And I love you."

He smiled into her eyes. "I love you, too."

"Okay," Clark said a minute later, clearly very pleased. "Jordan if it's a boy, Laura if it's a girl." He closed the yellow notebook with finality and tossed it onto the coffee table. "I'm glad that's settled."

Lois smiled. "Me, too. Now we won't have to argue about it in the hospital. You know what, though? I can see why people would want to know if they were having a boy or a girl. It would make it easier to choose a name, for one thing. And it would also give you a chance to plan ahead and buy clothes and all that."

Clark reached out to put his hand on Lois' tummy and rubbed it lightly. "You know, Lois, the offer I made you several months ago still stands. I could…you know…peek…" he touched the frames of his glasses. "and tell you what we're having."

Lois shook her head adamantly. "Clark, don't you dare! I want this to be a surprise!"

"Okay, okay!" Clark chuckled. "I was just offering."

"I know," Lois said, snuggling back up against him. "It's just…how many husbands do you know that can use their x-ray vision to see what sex their baby is?"

Clark laughed. "None, I guess."

"Exactly! I just want us to be like everyone else, having to rely on good old-fashioned medical technology."

"Lois, since when have we been like everyone else?" he pointed out with a big smile.

Lois laughed. "I guess you have a point there."


As the evening hours wore on, Lois only had one more contraction. Her labor seemed to be slowing down, and she was beginning to think that this was just a case of false labor like they had talked about in their prenatal classes.

Lois was surprised when she realized that she actually felt disappointed, even though it had only been a few hours ago when she had wished that she still had a month till this baby was ready to be born. Clark seemed disappointed, too, though he was trying his best not to show it.

As the evening wore on, Lois finally quit her nervous pacing and settled down on the couch with Clark to watch an old movie on TV. Still nothing had happened by the time the movie was over, and Clark noticed Lois yawning.

"Honey, why don't we go to bed?" he told her, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her to him. "It doesn't make sense to sit up all night waiting for something to happen. You need your sleep, and you can always wake me up if your contractions start up again. Okay?"

Lois nodded tiredly. "Yeah, I guess you're right. All this nervous energy has worn me out." Clark stood up and put out his hands to help her to her feet. She gratefully accepted his help. Then they turned off the TV and the lights and headed for their bedroom.

When they got into bed a few minutes later, Lois curled up against Clark, snuggling into his warmth. "Are you feeling okay?" Clark asked her, enveloping her in his embrace.

"Yeah, I feel fine. I'm just tired, I guess. It's been a long day."

Clark gently stroked her hair, something he knew that she loved. "Remember that I'm right here if you need anything tonight, okay? Anything at all."

She smiled softly, her cheek pressed against his collarbone. "Thanks, Clark. I love you."

"I love you, too, Lois."


Lois was awakened around one o'clock with another contraction. She groaned a little and sat up in bed, both startled and excited that her labor hadn't completely dissipated. Clark heard her and woke up, too. He was obviously excited when she told him that she was having contractions again.

After that, Lois started having contractions about every hour. Lois and Clark fell into a routine of sleeping between contractions, then waking up when another one came, then going back to sleep.

By morning, they were both exhausted from being up so much during the night. So when Clark's alarm clock rang at six a.m., they both groaned in protest. Clark rolled over quickly and hit the snooze button, silencing the alarm and nearly crushing the alarm clock. It was silent for a few minutes as they both fought the urge to doze back off to sleep.

Finally Clark rolled over and kissed Lois tenderly. "How are you feeling this morning?" he asked, rubbing her tummy lightly, his voice still gravelly from sleep.

"Tired," Lois admitted with a sigh. "I didn't sleep much last night."

Clark smiled. "I know. Neither did I. Why don't you go back to sleep? I'll call Perry to let him know I won't be in to work today, and I'll stay home with you."

Lois was too tired to even protest. "Okay. If you're sure Perry won't mind."

"It'll be fine, honey. You just rest. I'll go make some breakfast. Are you hungry?" Clark climbed out of bed and slipped on his robe.

"A little," she admitted. "A glass of juice sounds good."

"You got it." Clark leaned down over Lois, putting a hand on either side of her head on the bed and kissed her softly.

"Mmmm," Lois murmured dreamily. She brought her arms up to wrap them around Clark's neck, pulling him down to her and deepening their kiss.

When Clark finally pulled back, they were both breathless. Clark smiled provocatively at her figure scantily covered by one of his flannel shirts, buttoned only partially down the front, giving him a tantalizing view of what was underneath. He raised his eyebrows at her. "Lois, don't start something you can't finish," he said huskily.

Lois smiled. "*I'm* willing to finish it," she said seductively.

Clark looked longingly at her, and then leaned down to meet her kiss. He pulled away a second later, though, moaning in frustration. "Lois, don't tempt me," he pleaded soulfully.

"Oh, all right," Lois said with a sigh. "But you can't blame a girl for trying."

Clark smiled. "Don't worry. I'm definitely taking a rain check."

After Clark threw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, he disappeared down the hall and into the kitchen to make breakfast. Even though Lois knew she should be going back to sleep, she just couldn't. The smell of breakfast cooking was just too inviting.

She struggled out of bed, not an easy task with her baby bulge, and started to grab some sweats from her drawer. But then she decided against it. Wearing regular clothes made her feel huge, and the flannel shirt of Clark's that she was wearing did a good job of slimming her figure down. The shirt was large, even on Clark, and it hung down almost to her knees. **What the heck,** she thought. **Nobody's going to see me except for Clark, anyway.** So instead of dressing, Lois padded down the hall in the flannel shirt to go and see what Clark was cooking.

When she entered the kitchen, she saw Clark standing at the stove cooking scrambled eggs. She walked up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing her cheek against his back. "Hi," she murmured sleepily against his T-shirt.

"Lois, you're supposed to be sleeping," Clark told her, turning around so he could see her. "I would've just brought breakfast in to you so you didn't have to get up."

"I know," Lois said. "But I couldn't go back to sleep. Breakfast smelled too good."

Clark smiled and handed her a plate, which he spooned some eggs onto for her. Then he filled a plate for himself. They sat down at the table together, both excited and eager to talk about the baby on the way.

When Clark stood up to clear the breakfast dishes, Lois asked, "So what did Perry say when you told him you weren't coming in today?"

An alarmed look crossed his face. "Oh my gosh, I forgot to call Perry!" he said. "I'd better go call him so he doesn't wonder where I am."

Lois grabbed her empty plate and started to follow Clark to the sink, where they were putting their dirty dishes. But she'd only taken a couple of steps when she felt a warm gush of water and then felt it trickling down her legs. With a sudden wave of panic, Lois realized that her water had just broken. Too startled to concentrate on balancing her dishes in her hands, she lost her grip on them and the dishes fell to the floor with a crash.

Clark turned immediately to see what had happened. "Lois, are you okay?" he asked, concerned by the startled expression on her face.

"Clark!" she said, her voice holding a sense of urgency to it. "My water just broke!"

"What?! You're kidding! Lois, are you sure?" Clark asked, his questions running together into one long sentence.

Lois glared at him. "Clark, I think I would know if something like that happened!" she snapped irritably. She hadn't meant for her tone to be as sarcastic as it had come out, but she was scared, and it had edged into her voice.

"Okay, Lois. Okay. Let's not panic. Let's just get you to the hospital. I'll go grab your bag and be right back."

Lois nodded as he super-sped out of the room. "Everything's going to be okay. Everything's going to be okay," she kept muttering to herself over and over again Then she remembered something. "Oh, Clark! We need to call Dr. Meyers and tell him to meet us at the hospital!"

"I'm on it!" Clark called back.

Lois took a few tentative steps toward the front room, but then felt the unmistakable feeling of an oncoming contraction. She could tell right away, though, that this contraction wasn't like any of the others she had had. When this one hit her full force, she was nearly overwhelmed by the sharp, stabbing pain that surged through her. She doubled over and clutched at her stomach, reaching out to grab the back of the kitchen chair next to her.

"Clark!" she managed to call out from beneath clenched teeth.

Clark hurried into the kitchen when he heard her, and when he saw her doubled over in pain, his heart leapt into his throat. He immediately rushed to her side. "Lois! Lois, are you okay? What's the matter? Are you having another contraction?"

Lois heard him, but the pain was too intense for her to respond. She gritted her teeth and clenched her eyes shut tightly, still doubled over. When the contraction started to dissipate, Lois straightened a little, still holding fiercely to the back of the chair. "Clark, that was the worst contraction yet. I don't know if I can handle too many more of those," she told him truthfully, still a bit out of breath.

"Well, I just got off the phone with Dr. Meyers and he's on his way to the hospital to meet us. Let me just grab your bags and we'll go."

He started to leave, but Lois grabbed his arm tightly. "Clark, no! Don't leave me!" she said, the nervousness and insecurity she was feeling creeping into her voice.

Clark put his hand over hers and squeezed it gently. "Lois, listen to me," he said in a soft, soothing voice. "Your water just broke, and we need to get to the hospital as soon as we can."

Just then another contraction swept through Lois and she grabbed Clark's hand fiercely. "Ow!" she cried loudly. This time the contraction was too much for her to bear and she dropped to the kitchen floor, doubled over in a tight ball.

"Lois!" Clark shouted. He quickly knelt beside her and put one arm across her back, lowering his face down to hers so that he could see her. "Lois, talk to me!" he said, his voice filled with concern and alarm. "Tell me what's going on!"

Lois closed her eyes to the pain, wishing with all her heart that the contraction would end. When it finally did, Lois sat up slightly, her face flushed.

"Clark," she said, her voice trembling. "I think something's wrong. Remember in our prenatal classes that they told us the contractions would get closer gradually, and that they would get harder as they did? Well, what happened to that? My contractions were an hour apart all night, and now all of a sudden they're coming this hard and fast? This can't be normal. Something's got to be wrong."

"Lois, just calm down. I'm sure everything is fine," he said, his voice calm and reassuring. "Or it will be as soon as we get you to the hospital. Besides, we really can't know if this is normal or not," Clark reminded her. "We knew from the start that there may be some things about this pregnancy that would be different. Maybe this is one of them."

He paused to let his words sink in as Lois caught her breath. Then he continued, his voice determined. "Now come on, Lois. We really need to get you to the hospital. They'll be able to give you something for the pain."

He started to help her stand up, but just then another contraction racked her body and she slumped back onto the floor, starting to cry softly. "Clark, I can't go. It hurts too much. Please… go and call Dr. Meyers. Tell him—" she broke off as she groaned against the surging pain.

Clark felt torn. He knew he could just pick her up and fly her to the hospital, and they could be there in a couple of minutes. But he had no idea if moving her at this stage would do her more harm than good. And he wasn't about to take the chance at risking her life and the life of his unborn child by moving them.

**Maybe these kind of debilitating contractions are common in Kryptonian childbirth,** he thought to himself, trying to rationalize the situation. But on the other hand, what if something *was* wrong, as Lois thought? Either way, he knew she needed immediate medical attention.

When Lois' contraction was over, she seemed to relax a little and breathe easier. But Clark could tell from her flushed cheeks that this was anything but easy on her. "Lois, I'm going to call the paramedics," he said suddenly, his mind made up. "I'd fly you to the hospital, but I don't know how safe it would be for you to fly in this condition."

She nodded slightly, showing that she understood. "Okay. But tell them to hurry."

Clark rushed into the living room to grab the cordless phone and carried it back into the kitchen with him. He dialed 911 and then knelt beside Lois, putting his hand on her back and rubbing soothingly.

The 911 operator answered, and Clark quickly explained the situation. After giving them their address, Clark pressed the hang-up button on the phone and set it down beside him on the kitchen floor. "The paramedics are on their way. Do you think you'll be okay until they get here?"

"Do I have any choice?"

Clark smiled and lifted a hand to smooth her rumpled hair. "It won't be long, sweetie."

Just then Clark's super hearing tuned in to something, and Lois immediately recognized the look on his face. "What do you hear, Clark?"

He continued to listen for a second. "The neighbor's radio. There's a news bulletin about an overturned tanker on the highway. It's on fire, and just caused a huge pile up, and the fire is spreading to the cars involved in the accident." Clark's face took on a look of urgency. He knew that a lot of people were in trouble with the tanker fire spreading, but how could he possibly leave Lois in her condition?

"Clark," Lois said, giving his hand a desperate squeeze. "Please, don't go. I need you. I can't do this by myself. Please…" her pleading voice trailed off as she searched his eyes intently.

A second later, she saw the worried look in Clark's eyes dissipate and he let out a huge sigh of relief. "I just heard that several fire trucks just arrived at the scene, and that ambulances were being dispatched to help the people that were hurt. It sounds as if they're getting things under control."

Clark sighed again, relieved that he didn't have to make the decision to go or stay. He would've made the decision to stay, but he knew from past experience that when he found out how many people had been injured or even killed, he wouldn't have dealt well with the guilt of knowing he might've been able to save them.

Even from where they sat in Clark's apartment, they could hear dozens of sirens, all heading for the scene of the accident. "Did the news report say how many people were involved in the pile up?" Lois asked.

"The report didn't say for sure, but they suspected it was at least thirty cars worth."

Lois' interest in the accident vanished quickly when she felt another contraction coming. She grabbed Clark's hand and squeezed it tightly as the contraction grew in strength. When it was over, she straightened back up and met Clark's eyes.

"Clark, do you think everything is okay?" she asked, searching for reassurance.

Clark smiled calmly. "Yes, I'm sure that everything is fine. Even Dr. Meyers said so. So don't worry about it."

Lois gave a shaky laugh. "Don't worry about it?! That's easy for you to say. You're not the one in pain on the kitchen floor."

Clark laughed a little, too. "You're right. I'm not." He leaned forward to touch his forehead to hers in a tender gesture. After a few moments, he pulled back. "Alright, let's see. The first thing we need to do is to get you as comfortable as possible until the paramedics get here. How about if we move you to the bedroom?"

Lois took a couple of quick breaths and shook her head. "No, I don't think so," she said. "Another contraction is coming."

Clark glanced quickly around the room, and finally spotted what he was looking for. The sweatshirt he'd been wearing the night before was still draped across the back of one of the kitchen chairs. He stood up and grabbed it, then wadded it up into a ball. "Here. Lift your head up. I'm going to put this under your head."

Lois shook her head as the contraction started to come full force. "I can't," she told him through clenched teeth.

"Lois, you've got to trust me," Clark told her firmly. "I've taken all the advanced first aid courses and I know what I'm talking about. I've even delivered several babies."

Despite being in pain, Lois nodded and let Clark help her lift her head so he could slide the wadded up sweatshirt under her head. Then he helped her lie back on it, trying to make her as comfortable as he could. A few moments later the contraction was over.

As Lois tried to slow her labored breathing, she smiled a little at Clark. "Delivering babies is just another day in the life of Superman, huh?"

Clark smiled. "Yeah, I guess it is," he said softly, his voice filled with tenderness and love. "But right now, this isn't a job for Superman. This is a job for me, Clark…your husband who loves you very much."

Lois felt tears come to her eyes when she heard his words. "Oh, Clark. I love you, too. Thanks for being so supportive."

Clark touched her face lightly. Then he seemed to remember that he was in charge of the matter at hand. "Now the second thing we need to do," he told her. "Is to get your breathing correctly. Do you remember our Lamaze classes?"

Lois nodded. "Although it seems like ages ago right now."

Clark smiled, then continued. "Remember, you're supposed to breathe like this: 'hee-hee-hee-hoooo'. Do you remember now?" Lois nodded. "Okay. Then the next time you have a contraction, breathe just like that."

Lois rested for a minute. "Clark, I don't think I can do this," she told him anxiously.

Clark squeezed her hands tightly. "Lois, you're doing just fine. Everything is going to be okay. Besides, what could go wrong?" He smiled teasingly. "You've got Superman here to deliver your baby. Do you realize how lucky you are?"

Lois' face broke into a big smile. "You never quit, do you?" She laughed softly. "Boy, I tell you. What an ego!" They laughed together for a minute, but then Lois' smile faded abruptly.

"Another one coming?" Clark asked, noticing the strained expression on her face. She nodded tensely. He could tell from her expression that she was scared, even though she was trying her hardest to mask it.

"Lois, you're doing fine," he reassured her. "I know you're scared, but you have nothing to worry about. I'll be right here with you and talk you through everything. Okay?"

Lois nodded, her face pinched with pain. "Okay," she gasped between quick breaths.

Clark squeezed her hands to get her attention back on him. "Lois, look at me," he told her quickly when he could tell that the contraction was gaining force. She did, and he looked directly back into her eyes. "Now remember your breathing. 'Hee-hee-hee-hoooo'."

Lois started breathing with him, but she could feel the contraction getting stronger and stronger. She let out a long moan.

Clark could tell that she was struggling to keep her emotions in check, and his heart went out to her. "Lois, I'm right here," he said, trying to keep her attention on him. "Don't think about the contraction. Just look right at me and we'll breathe together."

She looked into his face and locked her eyes with his. "Squeeze my hand as hard as you want if it helps," Clark told her. "I promise you won't hurt me."

Lois did, and in between breaths, she managed to say, "Is that supposed to be another Superman joke?"

Clark smiled at her, knowing how hard she was trying to stay positive. "I guess it was, even though I didn't mean it to be." He stopped talking for a minute to breathe with her. Then, as quickly as the contraction began, it was over.

Lois relaxed a bit and laid back on her "pillow". She closed her eyes for a long moment and took a couple of slow, deep breaths to return her breathing to normal. She opened her eyes, though, when she felt Clark brush his fingertips across her cheek.

"Okay?" he asked gently as she looked up into his dark, gentle eyes. She nodded, feeling a sudden surge of warmth and love for him sweep through her.

She raised her hand to gently touch his arm. "Clark?"

"Yeah?" He continued to stroke her cheek with his free hand.

"Thanks," she said quietly. "I couldn't get through this without you."

He smiled softly at her. "I'll *always* be here for you," he told her seriously. "Because I love you." Then he leaned down to kiss her tenderly.

After the kiss, Lois lifted her hand and touched his cheek gently, stroking his skin with her thumb. They sit that way for a long minute. Then Clark saw Lois start to tense up again. He sat up and grasped her hands. "Okay. Let's remember our breathing." He started breathing with her again.

By the time several contractions had come and gone, Clark began to get anxious. He glanced up at the clock on the kitchen wall and noticed that twenty minutes had already passed since he had phoned the paramedics. "Where *are* they!" he muttered under his breath.

Lois picked up on the urgency in his voice and looked up at him. "Clark, what is it? How long has it been?"

"It's been almost half an hour. The ambulance should've been here by now. I'm going to call again." He picked up the phone from the floor beside him and hit the redial button, then waited anxiously for the operator to answer.

When the operator picked up, Clark told her who he was and that the ambulance they had requested hadn't arrived yet. The operator apologized and explained that all their ambulances were at the huge tanker accident, and that they would send an ambulance to them as soon as one was available.

Clark hung up, beginning to feel desperate. The expression on his face must've given him away because Lois noticed immediately that something was wrong. "Clark, what's the matter?"

"All the ambulances are at the tanker accident," he explained slowly. "But they said they'd send one as soon as they could." He toyed again with the idea of flying Lois to the hospital himself, but then she had another contraction that racked her body even harder than the previous ones. She grabbed desperately for Clark's hand, and squeezed it as hard as she could, crying out loudly when the contraction grew even stronger.

"Lois, you're okay. You're fine," he told her, his worry for her increasing by the moment. "Try to keep breathing like we have been."

Part of the way into her contraction, Lois felt the sudden urge to push. She stopped her breathing and clenched her teeth together. "Clark, I need to push!" she told him loudly, almost desperately.

"No, no, no, Lois, don't push!" Clark said, trying to stem his sudden urge to panic. He forced himself to remember that he had to stay calm for Lois' sake. He squeezed her hands tightly to get her attention and moved closer to her head. "Lois, listen to me!" he said urgently. "You can't push. You've got to wait. The paramedics aren't here yet."

A tear trickled down Lois' cheek as she struggled not to push. "Clark, I have to. I don't think I can stop it."

"Lois, you *have* to stop it! Do whatever you have to do to keep from pushing." His mind raced as he tried to think of what he could do to keep her from pushing. "Lois, keep watching me. Look right here…" He pointed to his eyes. "Just keep watching me, and whatever you do, don't push!"

They breathed fiercely together for a minute, but Clark could tell that Lois was really struggling as she clenched her teeth together tightly. The tears were starting to flow freely now down her cheeks, and Clark felt as if someone was ripping out his heart and stomping on it. He wished with all his might that he could trade places with this brave little person who he loved so much, so that he could protect her from the pain that was encompassing her.

When the contraction was finally over, Clark started to stand up, but Lois grabbed at his shirt. "Clark! Where are you going?"

Clark looked down at her, able to tell from her face how scared she was. "It's okay, Lois. I'm just going to grab a couple of towels. Do you want a wet washcloth? Would that help?"

Lois nodded. "I think so. Man, I sure wish Dr. Meyers was here!"

Clark started to smile, but then a thoughtful look crossed his face. He stood up and super-sped into the living room, obviously looking for something. "Clark, what are you looking for?"

He stopped his super-speed search. "Dr. Meyers' gave us his cellular number. Do you know where it is?"

She nodded. "It's in my address book in my purse."

He found her purse and pulled out her address book. "Ah-ha!" Clark said triumphantly. "I'll be right back with those towels." He hurried down the hall to the linen closet, pulled out several towels, and had just turned on the bathroom faucet to wet one of the washcloths when he heard Lois calling him.

"Clark!" she said, gasping out between sharp breaths. "I'm having another one!"

Clark glanced at his watch and noticed with dismay that not even two minutes had passed. "Already? Shoot!" he muttered to himself. He quickly dialed Dr. Meyers' cell number.

"Come on, come on, come on," he said urgently as he waited for the call to go through. Feeling very desperate and wondering how much longer he could keep his own panic in check, he managed to call back semi-calmly, "Lois, hang in there for just one more minute!"

As the phone rang once, then twice, Clark shifted his feet impatiently. "Answer the phone, darn it!" Just then he heard Dr. Meyers' voice on the line. "Dr. Meyers!" Clark gasped out in a mixture of relief and anxiety. "This is Clark Kent. Lois isn't going to make it to the hospital. Her contractions are coming so hard and fast that I don't dare move her. I've called for an ambulance, but they're all at the sight of the tanker accident. And now Lois is saying that she needs to push. I think she's very close to having this baby, I don't know what to do…" Clark finally stopped his rambling when Dr. Meyers broke in.

"Now Clark, calm down. Tell me how far apart Lois' contractions are, and how she's doing."

Clark rung out the washcloth and started wetting another. "They're about a minute apart, and coming extremely hard. She can't even stand up to go to the hospital."

"Well, I'll tell you what. I'm in my car on the way to the hospital, but all the traffic's backed up because of the accident. I'm going to change directions and head over to your place. What's the address again?"

Clark told him hastily. "How far away are you?"

"Well, under normal circumstances, I'd be about fifteen or twenty minutes away. But unfortunately it's going to take longer than that because of all this backed-up traffic. I'd say maybe a half hour or forty-five minutes."

Clark rung out the washcloth and turned off the faucet. "I hate to say this, Dr. Meyers, but I don't think this baby's going to wait that much longer. I may have to deliver it myself."

"Have you ever seen it done before?" Dr. Meyers asked. "Do you have any idea what to do in case you need to?"

Clark smiled. "Yeah, I've delivered a few babies before, so I guess I could handle this if I had to."

Dr. Meyers sounded surprised. "You've actually *delivered* babies before?" he asked, stunned. "How? Did you use to be an EMT or something?"

"Ummm…" Clark stammered, suddenly realizing he had just made an awkward slip. "I've, uh, had a few extensive first aid classes, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to deliver a few."

Dr. Meyers laughed. "Imagine that. Well, do you think you can handle it until I get there, then?"

Clark, feeling calmer and thinking more clearly, nodded. "I'll just have to handle it, that's all. I'll see you when you get here."

"Okay. I'll be there as soon as I can." There was a click on the other end of the line as Dr. Meyers hung up.

Clark pushed the hang up button on his own phone, grabbed the towels, and hurried back into the kitchen. When he saw Lois, he could tell that this was really taking its toll on her. She was sweating profusely, and her face looked tired and pale. He saw her visibly relax when he came into the room.

"Did you get hold of Dr. Meyers?" she asked. "What did he say?"

Clark kneeled beside her with the towels and laid the wet washcloth across her forehead. "He's stuck in traffic, but he says he'll get here as fast as he can."

"How long?"

"Probably another half hour or forty-five minutes."

Lois started to cry softly. "I can't wait that long, Clark. I just can't."

"Shh-shh-shh," Clark said, gently wiping at the tears that were rolling down her cheeks. "It's okay, Lois. You won't have to wait any longer. Let's do this right now."

Lois looked up at Clark through tear-filled eyes, confused. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, let's deliver this baby." He looked down at Lois and smiled at her reassuringly. "Everything's going to be fine, Lois. You'll see." He looked deeply into her eyes for a moment, then leaned down and kissed her tenderly. "I love you," he told her sincerely.

"I love you, too."

Clark smiled gently at her for a minute, then sat up to a kneeling position beside her. "Are you ready for this?" he asked calmly.

"I don't think so," Lois said with a shaky laugh. "Can't we just have this baby some other time?"

Clark laughed and shook his head. "Sorry, Lois, but I don't think this baby is going to wait any longer."

"Neither do I."

"Okay." Clark said in a very business-like fashion. "The next time you have a contraction, which should be any time now—" he glanced at his watch. "we'll see if we can get this baby born. Okay?"


Clark took a couple of towels and scooted toward Lois' feet. "First of all, we'll need to get your underpants off." He helped her take the water-soaked garment off, then gently patted her shins. "Let's get your knees up and we'll see what's going on."

Lois nervously raised her knees so that her feet were flat on the floor. Clark lifted the bottom of her flannel shirt up and placed a hand on each of her knees.

"Okay, Lois," he told her calmly. "I'm going to reach in with my hand to see if I can feel the baby's head. You might feel a little pressure, but just relax. I'll be done before you know it." He waited for Lois to nod nervously before proceeding. As he put his hand in and felt for the baby's head, he could feel Lois tighten up nervously. "It's okay, Lois," he said soothingly. "Just relax." He rubbed her knee with his free hand in an attempt to soothe her.

"Wow, the baby's head is just right here," Clark said a moment later, smiling excitedly. "The other good news is that it feels like you're fully dilated, so I think its okay for you to start pushing on your next contraction." He rocked back on his heels. "I'm going to wet another towel." He stood up by the sink and turned on the faucet. He was just wetting the first one when he heard Lois call out to him.

"Clark!" she gasped. "Another one's coming!"

"Okay, Lois. You're fine," he said, turning to look at her. "Just remember your breathing. 'Hee-hee-hee-hoooo.'"

She did, but almost immediately she felt the urge to push. "Clark, I need to push. What do you want me to do? Do I push or what? Clark? Clark, where are you?!"

Clark hurried to her and situated himself by her feet. He grasped her knee with his hand and squeezed it reassuringly. "It's okay, Lois. Just relax. Everything's going to be fine." He made sure he had direct eye contact with her before continuing. "This is what we're going to do. When I say push, push hard for a count of ten. Got it?"

Lois nodded and tried to suppress another groan from behind clenched teeth.

"Okay, Lois. Push!" Clark said fervently. Lois strained down hard, raising herself up slightly as she did. "Good!" Clark exclaimed. "Now, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. Now rest for a minute."

Lois laid her head back on Clark's sweatshirt for a minute, but then she felt another irresistible urge to push. She gritted her teeth and Clark noticed. "Go ahead and push, Lois!" She did, and he started to count to ten out loud. Halfway through his count, he said excitedly, "Lois, I can see the baby's head!"

At the end of the ten count, Lois rested as the contraction subsided. A minute later, another one came. "Okay, Lois. Let's push again."

They went through this for what seemed like an eternity to Lois, and Clark kept glancing inconspicuously at his watch when Lois wasn't looking. Thirty minutes. Then forty-five. Then an hour. He could tell that the exertion of pushing was taking its toll on Lois. She seemed to have less and less energy each time she pushed, and he didn't know how much longer she could keep doing this.

And he didn't know how much longer *he* could keep doing this, either. He was beginning to worry that something was wrong, because no matter how hard Lois pushed, the baby's head would disappear as soon as she stopped pushing. Although he made sure to act calm and reassuring for Lois' sake, inside he was a nervous wreck. **Where's that ambulance?!** he kept demanding silently.

When yet another contraction came, Lois again heard Clark telling her to push. Lois did, but she was too exhausted to push very hard. "…6, 7, 8… Come on, Lois! Really bear down!" Clark told her. Lois pushed as hard as she could, but she knew she was just about out of steam.

When they had finished the count of ten, Clark rocked back on his heels. "I know you're getting tired, Lois," he said. "But we're almost done. One more push and I bet that'll do it. Rest for a minute and then we'll push again."

Lois let her head fall back on Clark's sweatshirt and nodded, but inside she felt ready to call it quits. No matter how hard she pushed, nothing seemed to be happening. **I can't do this any more,** she thought to herself. **I'm just too tired.** She let the tears that had been threatening for quite some time spill wearily down her cheeks.

A minute later Clark was telling her to push again. "Okay, Lois… now push!"

Nothing happened, and Clark looked up at Lois in surprise. He noticed with a sudden stab of concern that she wasn't even trying to push. "Lois!" He kneeled up so that he could lean over her, resting his left hand on the floor by her head and looking into her eyes. "Lois, what's the matter? What aren't you trying to push?"

He noticed she was crying softly. "I just can't push anymore, Clark. I can't. I'm just too tired."

It was then that Clark knew that Lois was out of steam. Never before had he heard her admit defeat, and it scared him. He knew that he had to do something immediately, or else he might lose her. He spoke up with determination, raising his voice for the first time since this had all begun.

"I know, you're tired, Lois, but listen to me! Both you and this baby are going to be in trouble very quickly if we don't do this! We've got to get this baby born before one of you goes into distress. You don't want that to happen, do you?"

Lois continued to cry softly, but she shook her head.

"The baby's head is right here, Lois," he said, his tone a little gentler. "A couple more good pushes and this will all be over with. You can do it, Lois. I know you can. Now are you ready to push?"

She nodded, and Clark felt relieved that at least she was still willing to try.

"Okay. Then go ahead and push! Really bear down. Hard!"

Nearly a half-hour later, though, still nothing was happening. Lois couldn't stop the tears from streaming down her face. Not only was she exhausted, but she was starting to feel dizzy and a little sick to her stomach. It seemed like every little thing she did took tons more energy than she had. **It's not supposed to be like this,** she thought silently. **I should be in a hospital where the doctors know what to do when things aren't going according to plan.**

When she heard Clark telling her to push again, she shook her head in resignation. "I can't, Clark. I'm too tired."

But Clark wasn't about to let her admit defeat. "Yes, you can, Lois! You have to!" he told her forcefully. "Now come on. Please try to do this. Just one more good push and that should do it."

"That's what you said a half-hour ago," she pointed out despairingly.

"I know, honey. But I really think it's going to happen this time." He stopped talking when he saw that Lois obviously didn't believe him. He knew he'd have to take some drastic measures. "Lois, I need to tell you something," he said, his serious tone causing her to look up at him. "I've been listening to this baby's heartbeat for the past forty-five minutes or so, and it's definitely slowing down. I think this baby is starting to go into distress. I'm really worried that if we don't get it delivered in a hurry, we might lose it."

Lois' heart skipped a beat when she heard this. The thought of losing this baby before it was even born was more than she could bear. So, without having to think twice, she decided that she would do whatever it would take to get this baby born.

Clark saw the renewed look of determination in Lois' eyes, and felt a sense of relief come over him. Knowing the urgency of the situation seemed to help her want to keep at it for at least a little while longer. "Now do you think you can try one more time?" Clark asked solemnly. When she nodded, he sighed with relief. "Good. Now go ahead and push!"

Lois knew that the time was up. It was now or never. She pushed a few more times as hard as she could, trying not to think about how tired and worn out she felt, and forced herself to focus on Clark's coaching and words of encouragement.

"Come on, Lois! One more! Just one more good one!"

Lois mustered what little strength she had left and strained for all she was worth. She pushed until she actually felt like she might pass out. Just then she heard the sound of a baby crying. Exhausted, she let her head fall back on Clark's sweatshirt and just cried, feeling an extreme rush of emotion at the realization that it was finally all over, and that everything was going to be okay.

"Lois, it's a boy!" she heard Clark say excitedly. She tried to sit up to see the tiny baby that Clark was wrapping in a big blue towel and holding up for her to see. "Is he…is he okay?" she asked wearily.

"Lois, he's perfect. Just perfect," Clark said, his voice full of emotion. "Ten fingers, ten toes, and a head full of dark hair."

"Let me see him," Lois said softly through her tears.

Clark scooted closer to Lois and gently placed the towel-wrapped baby in her arms. "Jordan, meet your mom. And *mom*…" he smiled at Lois. "Meet Jordan."

Lois took their new baby carefully, afraid that even the slightest move might hurt or break him. She peered down at the tiny baby, so delicate and beautiful. "Hi, Jordan," she said, her voice filled with emotion. "I'm your mom, Jordan. I'm your mom…" And with that, Lois started to cry all over again.

Lois felt Clark's hand on her shoulder and she looked up to see that Clark, too, had tears streaming unashamedly down his cheeks. "Lois, I'm so proud of you," he told her through his tears. "You worked so hard to bring this little guy into the world."

Just then they heard the front door open and shut, immediately followed by the entrance of Dr. Meyers into the kitchen. "Did I hear a baby crying?" he asked with a big smile on his face.

Clark sniffed and wiped at his tear-streaked cheeks. "You sure did," he said, his voice still overcome with emotion. "Everything is just fine."

"I'm sorry it took me so long to get here. In order to avoid all the traffic jams, I had to use just about every side street in this city to get here." Dr. Meyers kneeled beside them and peered at the baby in Lois' arms. "How did everything go?" he asked, taking the baby carefully from Lois to look him over. As he did, he looked back up at Lois and asked with concern, "How are you feeling, Lois? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm okay," Lois told him in a weak, but happy voice.

"Actually, Dr. Meyers," Clark spoke up. "She had a pretty tough delivery. I'm a little concerned about her."

"Well, let me just get this umbilical cord cut and then we'll make sure you're okay." When that was done, Dr. Meyers turned to Clark. "Why don't we let the new daddy hold this little boy. He appears to be as healthy as an ox." He handed Jordan to Clark, who took him eagerly.

Dr. Meyers turned to Lois. "Now. Let me make sure everything is okay with you." He moved closer to her and probed her tummy gently. But as gently as he was pressing, the pressure still really hurt, and Lois cringed. "I know this doesn't feel very good," he told her. "But I need to make sure the placenta has detached itself from the uterus wall."

He pressed around her mid-section for a few more moments, then finally rocked back on his heels, satisfied that everything was okay. "Everything looks good," he told them. "But judging from the amount of blood here, you've lost quite a bit, Lois. It's normal to lose a certain amount during delivery, but I'm concerned that you may have lost a little too much. When we get you to the hospital, I'm going to set you up with a couple of pints just to be safe."

Dr. Meyers then turned to Clark and patted his shoulder affectionately. "Good work, you two. I guess congratulations are in order. But I want you to know, Clark, that just because you delivered this baby by yourself doesn't mean my fee is going to be any less." His eyes twinkled as he winked at him.

Lois laughed, tired but happy. Clark turned his attention back to her and leaned down to kiss her. When their kiss ended, he smiled into her eyes. "Do you know that you're the most incredible person in the world?" he asked softly.

Lois smiled wearily at him. "In the world? Don't you mean in the universe?"

Clark laughed, and touched his forehead to hers, enjoying the private joke that nobody as of yet could understand. Just then there was a commotion in the entryway, and Clark looked up to see that the paramedics were coming into the room. His and Lois' private moment was gone, but he was glad to see the help arriving.

Clark moved back so the paramedics could check on Lois, too. Before he knew it, he and Lois and Jordan were on their way to the hospital in the ambulance. Clark held Jordan tightly the whole way, and Lois looked over at the father and son picture. A smile crossed her face as she watched Clark making cute faces at him. They looked so perfect together. Lois just knew that Clark was going to be a terrific father.

They arrived at the hospital quickly, and Clark was whisked away to fill out the admitting forms, while the baby was taken upstairs to the second-floor hospital nursery for further check-ups. Lois was wheeled up to the second floor a few minutes later where she was put in a private room.

Everything was so quiet when the nurses left, that Lois had to struggle to keep her eyes open. She wanted to stay awake because she knew that Clark would be there soon. But before she knew it, she had fallen fast asleep.

When she awoke, she glanced groggily around the room trying to figure out where she was. Then it all came back to her in a rush. Jordan. Her new baby boy. She tried to sit up, but immediately decided against it. Every muscle in her body ached. She lay back on the bed and stared silently up at the ceiling, trying to sort out all the day's events in her mind.

A few minutes later, the door to her room opened and Clark came in. "Hi," he said, smiling at her tenderly. He came over and sat down next to her on the bed. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired," she answered truthfully. "And very sore. How's Jordan?"

Clark positively glowed. "He's perfect in every way. My parents think so, too. They say he's the most perfect baby they've ever seen, but you know how grandparents are." He rolled his eyes, but Lois could tell that he was still very pleased by their remarks.

"Your parents are here?" she asked happily. "Where are they?"

"They're in front of the nursery windows making fools out of themselves at him," he told her. "They stopped in to see you a little while ago, but you were asleep, so they didn't disturb you. Especially after I got through telling them about everything that happened. You know, about having the baby at home and having such a tough delivery and all."

Clark paused a minute as he tucked her blankets around her a little more tightly. "Actually, we've become mini-celebrities of sorts around here," he said with a broad smile. "All the doctors, and especially the nurses, are going on and on about how we delivered Jordan at home. You'd think they'd never heard of such a thing before by the way they're carrying on about it. It's kind of cool, actually. Anyway, the nurses went ahead and bottle-fed Jordan so you could sleep. Doctors orders."

Lois smiled tiredly. Clark was quiet for a moment as he studied her face. When he did speak, his voice was soft and serious. "Lois, how are you feeling, really? And please tell me the truth. I really want to know."

Lois sighed, but stopped quickly when she discovered that taking a deep breath actually hurt. "The truth of it is, I'm really very sore, and I'm still pretty tired."

"You have every right to be." Clark lifted his hand to gently push at a strand of hair that had fallen into her eyes. "Have I told you that you are the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me?"

"Not in the last couple of hours," Lois told him with a smile. "So I think you need to tell me again."

Clark laughed. Then he leaned toward her and pressed his lips to hers in a sweet, lingering kiss that left her tingling all over. When their kiss ended, he touched his forehead to hers and closed his eyes with a happy sigh.

Lois slipped her hand around the back of his neck so that it was resting just below his hairline. She massaged his neck gently as they sat that way for a minute, with their foreheads pressed together and their eyes shut, enjoying the intimacy of the moment.

A moment later the door opened. Clark didn't pull his head away, just turned it slightly, as did Lois, so they could see who had come in. It made it so their cheeks were still almost touching as they looked toward the door.

Martha and Jonathan appeared in the doorway, and Martha was all smiles as she came over to Lois' side. Clark sat up and moved back a little so that his mom could lean over the bed's railing and give Lois a big hug. "Oh, Lois!" she gushed happily. "You did so great! I'm so proud of you, sweetie. Jordan is just perfect!"

"He really is," Jonathan agreed proudly. "He's the best looking baby in the nursery."

Clark laughed, but Lois could tell he was really proud. "Dad. You're only saying that because you're his grandfather."

"So what if I am?" Jonathan smiled and shrugged. "Does that make it any less true?"

They all laughed, but Lois stopped quickly and clutched at her stomach. "Oh, don't make me laugh, please! I'm so sore that every time I try to laugh or breathe deeply, it hurts." She was still smiling, though.

"Clark said you had a really tough delivery," Martha said.

Lois nodded wearily. "Yeah, it was a lot harder than I'd expected it would be. But I'm okay. And thank you for your compliments on Jordan," Lois added, smiling proudly. "I haven't seen him since I've been here, though. I guess I must've fallen asleep right after they put me in bed. I keep asking myself if this has all really happened, and if I really do have that perfect little boy to show for it."

"Well, you really do," Clark assured her, beaming down at her. "And he really is absolutely perfect. Do you want to see him? Do you feel up to it? I can have the nurse bring him in."

Lois nodded. "I'd like that."

Clark buzzed the nurse, and she agreed to bring Jordan right in.

Jonathan turned toward the door. "I'll just go make sure she doesn't forget." Then, with a smile and a wink, he left the room.

Martha turned to Lois and Clark and shook her head, laughing. "Jonathan's so excited he can hardly stand it. He's just so thrilled to be a grandfather." She looked over at Clark and smiled proudly at him. "I still can't believe that you delivered Jordan all by yourself, without any doctor's help. I'm so proud of you." She gave Clark a big hug.

"Excuse me!" Lois protested jokingly. "He didn't deliver him by himself, you know."

Both Clark and his mom looked over at Lois and laughed. "I know, sweetie, I know," Martha said. "You did great, too. If I were you, Lois, I would've been scared to death."

Lois looked sheepishly at Clark, then back at his mom. "Actually, I was. I couldn't have done it without Clark there to talk me through it. He really was a *super* coach." Both Clark and his mom laughed at her pun.

The door opened a moment later, and they looked up to see the nurse come in, rolling the baby cart ahead of her with Jordan lying in it wrapped tightly in a light blue blanket. Jonathan was right behind them. The nurse stopped the cart beside Lois' bed, then left the room.

"Who wants to hold him first?" Clark asked.

Lois spoke up immediately. "Oh, me. Definitely,"

Clark picked Jordan up so gently that Lois was amazed that this was the same man who, only days before, had stopped a fifty-thousand ton meteor from crashing into South America. He was so gentle and loving that Lois wondered, as she had many times before, what she had possibly done to deserve this truly wonderful man.

"Hi, Jordan," Clark was saying as he cradled the tiny infant in his arms. "Do you want to see your mom?"

Lois eyes misted up as Clark put the sleeping baby into her arms. "Hi there," she spoke quietly, her voice filled with emotion. "You sure caused a lot of trouble earlier for such a little guy, do you know that? But you were definitely worth it." She leaned down and kissed him very gently on his wrinkled forehead.

He made a tiny little cooing sound and Lois felt as if her heart would burst right through her chest. A tear slid down her cheek, then another, then another. She sniffled, and then remembered in embarrassment that she had an audience.

Quickly, she wiped the tears from her cheeks with the sleeve of her hospital gown, but try as she might, she couldn't seem to stop the tears from coming. "I'm sorry," she murmured to the people standing around her. "I just can't seem to stop crying."

Clark's mom squeezed her shoulder understandingly. "Oh, sweetie, don't apologize. It's the most incredible thing in the world to hold that new little baby in your arms. I know. I remember how I felt when I held Clark in my arms for the first time." She looked over at Clark and smiled a watery smile. "It was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me." She looked back at Lois. "And now this is probably the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you."

Lois turned her teary-eyed gaze to Clark, who was standing beside her. "It is. Except for marrying Clark."

Clark sat down beside her and kissed her tenderly. Then he just sat there next to Lois, staring in awe down at his new son. A few minutes later, the talk turned to the baby's different features. "I think he definitely looks like Clark," Lois was saying as they heard the door open again.

"Oh, no! Please don't tell me he looks like Clark!" a voice said from the doorway. Everyone looked up to see Perry and Jimmy coming into the room, broad smiles on their faces.

"Hi!" Clark said happily. "How did you guys find out we were here? I haven't had time to call anybody yet."

Perry gestured to Martha and Jonathan. "Your folks phoned us at the Planet a little while ago. Everybody was worried when you didn't show up for work this morning, Clark. I was all ready to send Jimmy out to track you down when your parents phoned and told us that you guys had the baby. Of course, we hurried right over to see the little tyke."

The Kents stepped back a little so that Perry and Jimmy could see the baby in Lois' arms. "He's so wrinkled!" Jimmy said as he looked at Jordan. "He looks like a little old man."

"You'd better watch it," Clark joked back. "That's my son you're talking about."

"Man, that sounds strange," Jimmy said. "To think that you have a son. Do you know how ancient that makes you sound?"

Everybody laughed. When the laughter had died down, Perry turned to Lois. "So how are you feeling, Lois? Did everything go okay?"

"Actually," Lois began, glancing at Clark. "Nothing went according to plan. As you know, I wasn't due for another month. So when I started having contractions yesterday, Clark and I were both a little panicked." She stopped to study Perry and Jimmy's faces, then went on when she could tell she had a captive audience. "But things got worse. My contractions were coming so hard and fast, that we didn't have time to get to the hospital. So Clark phoned the paramedics and my doctor, but both were delayed in getting to our apartment, and Clark ended up having to deliver the baby by himself."

"No!" "You didn't!" Were their responses. They looked over at Clark in disbelief. But Clark nodded. "It's true. The baby was born right on our kitchen floor."

"Wow! That's incredible!" Perry said. "It'll make the perfect story for the Planet. Do you mind if we write it up?"

Clark laughed and shook his head. "Not at all. Actually, it would make us proud."

"Well, all I'd like to say is," Jimmy spoke up. "Remind me not to eat in your kitchen any time soon." Everybody laughed.

"That's an incredible story, Lois," Perry shook his head, still smiling. "Well, congratulations, you two. Jimmy and I should be getting back to the Planet. We just wanted to come by and see the little tyke."

Clark smiled. "Thanks, Perry. I'm glad you guys came by."

Perry and Jimmy headed for the door, but Perry turned back before they could leave. "Oh, and Clark…if you guys need anything, anything at all, just holler. Okay?"

"Okay. We will. Thanks."


Jordan started to fuss shortly after Jimmy and Perry left, and Lois looked down nervously at the squirming infant in her arms, who was now wide awake and acting restless. "What do I do?" she asked anxiously. "I don't know what's the matter with him."

"Oh, he's probably hungry," Martha said matter-of-factly. "Why don't I get the nurse and she can answer some feeding questions for you."

In response to their buzz, the nurse arrived shortly. Martha and Jonathan left, telling Lois and Clark that they were going to the cafeteria for some coffee. After they left, the nurse gave Lois a crash course in feeding Jordan. Once Jordan started suckling away, the nurse left, satisfied that Lois had things under control. When Jordan had finally had his fill, he promptly fell back to sleep in Lois' arms.

Clark, still in awe of his new baby boy, reached out to smooth the tiny infants short, dark hair. "He is just *so* perfect," Clark replied, his voice quiet, almost reverent.

Lois looked up at him and smiled. "He is, isn't he?"

"Not much for conversation, though, huh?"

Lois laughed. "I guess not!" It was quiet for a few more minutes as they just sat and watched Jordan sleep. The lack of activity started to make Lois feel tired, and she yawned.

Clark noticed and smiled. "Ready to fall asleep yourself, huh?" Then, as he looked at her more closely, he became more serious. "Lois, you look a little pale. Did all of this wear you out?"

"A little, I guess," she sighed. "A nap sounds wonderful."

Clark nodded understandingly. "I'll take Jordan back to the nursery so you can sleep for a while."

Lois started to protest, but Clark insisted. "Honey, you've been through so much in the last couple of days. You really should let your body rest and heal. Besides, I'll bring Jordan back in when you wake up. He'll probably be hungry by then again, anyway."

"Okay," Lois finally agreed. "I guess you're right. But what about you? What are you going to do?"

"Don't worry about me. I'll probably just go and talk some more with my parents."

"Be sure to tell them I said thanks for coming. It's really nice to have them here."

Clark smiled at her tenderly. "I'll tell them. Now you get some sleep." Then he left the room with Jordan, and Lois was asleep only moments later.

When she woke up, she noticed that her room was getting dark. Clark was immediately at her side. "Hi," he said softly, taking her hand.

"How long have I been asleep?"

"About four hours."

"You're kidding!" Lois asked sitting up a little. "Why didn't you wake me?"

Clark smiled. "Because you needed the sleep, honey. My parents said to say good-night. They decided to give us some time by ourselves, so they went back to the apartment. They made me promise, though, that if we needed anything at all, to call them right away." He laughed lightly. "My mom was very specific about that."

"That was nice of them. How's Jordan?"

"He's fine. I'm sure he's hungry, though. The nurses bottle fed him once while you were asleep, but it just seems to go right through him." Clark studied her still-pale complexion. "Do you feel up to feeding him?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Lois insisted.

Lois and Clark enjoyed spending the next couple of hours with Jordan, taking turns holding him and talking about what life had in store for him. Finally at around nine, Lois could no longer stifle her sleepy yawns.

"Lois, I'm going to go home and get some sleep," Clark told her. "And you need to get some, too. Dr. Meyers told me that he'd like to have the nursery feed Jordan tonight so you could get a good night's sleep. And I agree with him. I haven't seen you look this worn out in ages."

Lois smiled despite her drooping eyelids. "Well, why don't *you* try giving birth and see how well you feel afterward!"

"Okay, okay," Clark laughed. He bent over to give her a quick kiss. "Goodnight, Lois. If you need me tonight, just call and I'll be here in a flash."


After Clark left, Lois immediately fell into an uneasy, restless sleep. She kept waking up every hour or so, drenched in sweat. She'd kick her blankets off, trying to get cool, but then she'd feel chilled and cover back up. And to make matters worse, the nurses were in and out all night checking on her. Lois wished that, more than anything, they would just leave her alone and let her sleep.

By morning, Lois was even more worn out than she had been the day before. She was tired of being poked and prodded by the nurses, and snapped at them irritably when they kept coming in. By the time Clark arrived, Lois had a pounding headache and was starting to feel a little nauseous.

Clark came into her room whistling cheerfully and came over to give her a kiss. "How are you feeling this morning?"

"Horrible," Lois answered irritably. She knew she had said the wrong thing, however, when Clark's smile turned into a worried frown. "No, I'm okay, I guess," Lois reassured him. "It's just that I didn't sleep well at all, with the nurses in and out of here all night, waking me up every two minutes. How is someone supposed to get better if they never get any sleep around here?" She punched at her pillow up angrily.

"I'm sure they were just making sure you were okay," Clark said diplomatically. "Have you had anything to eat yet?"

Lois shook her head. "The nurse who was just in said they were bringing breakfast around in a few minutes. But I'm not all that hungry. Actually, my stomach feels a little queasy."

Clark patted her arm reassuringly. "Don't worry. I'm sure that's just because you haven't eaten since dinner last night. I'll go see if I can hurry them up with your breakfast." With that, he hurried out of the room.

He'd only been gone for a few minutes when Lois began to wonder if the queasy feeling in her stomach was really due to hunger pains. It was getting stronger by the minute, and Lois closed her eyes against the sudden wave of dizziness that swept through her. All of a sudden, Lois knew she couldn't fight it any longer. She needed to throw up.

Ignoring the screaming pains in her muscles, she threw back her covers and made a mad dash for the bathroom. Quickly she flipped on the light and dropped to her knees in front of the toilet, heaving into it over and over again.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she struggled unsuccessfully to regain control of her body. As she continued to heave, her skin started to feel hot and clammy, and beads of perspiration dotted her face.

A couple of agonizing minutes later, she heard her door open. Then she heard Clark's voice calling her, sounding puzzled as to why she wasn't in bed. "Lois, where are you?" A second later, he appeared in the bathroom doorway and was startled to see her hunched over the toilet bowl. "Lois, you're sick?" he asked in a concerned voice. He came into the bathroom and squatted beside her, putting a hand on her back. He noticed then how violently she was shaking.

She heaved again into the toilet, her stomach feeling like it was about to work its way out through her mouth. Clark immediately stood up. "I'm going to get the doctor," he told her before hurrying out the door.

Lois normally would've stopped him and assured him that she was sure it would pass in a minute. But with the way she felt just then, she was glad she was in a hospital where a doctor could make her feel better. Lois heard Clark shouting out in the hall for a doctor, and then she heard the sounds of people coming toward her room.

After yet another heave, Lois felt like there was absolutely nothing left that she could throw up, so she just sat there, shaking violently and clutching the rim of the toilet bowl for dear life. She felt both hot and cold at the same time, and she could feel the sweat just dripping off of her.

In the next instant, the door to her room was thrown open and she could hear Clark saying, "When I came in a minute ago, she was throwing up in the bathroom." Then Clark appeared in the bathroom doorway, along with a doctor and two nurses. The doctor immediately got down on the floor beside her. "Can you tell me what happened? Do you hurt anywhere in particular?"

Lois heard him, but she was shaking too violently to respond to his questions. She felt the doctor press his fingers against her neck and knew he was taking her pulse, then he put his hand to her forehead to check her temperature. A moment later he said with concern, "Her pulse is racing, and she's really burning up. We've got to get her back in bed." He turned back to Lois. "Can you walk?"

Lois nodded weakly, though she wasn't sure she could at all. The doctor and Clark helped her to a standing position, then supported her as she took the couple of steps to leave the tiny bathroom. As she did, Lois felt the room start to spin violently around her. The next thing she knew, her knees gave out and everything started to dim.

"Lois!" Clark exclaimed immediately. He scooped Lois up quickly and set her limp body on the bed.

The doctor spoke quickly to one of the nurses. "We've got to get her stabilized. Get on the intercom and tell ICU that we have an emergency!" The nurse nodded and rushed out into the hall. A few seconds later, she was back with a gurney. The doctor and two nurses quickly moved Lois onto it and rushed her out of the room, down the hall, and into the staff elevator, the doctor barking out instructions the entire way.

Clark ran along beside them, trying to stay out of their way, but not wanting to leave Lois' side. The elevator seemed to take forever to get to the ICU floor, but when the elevator doors finally opened, a medical team was waiting for them.

They rushed Lois into a room and immediately went to work, hooking her up to an IV and pumping her full of injections. Clark stood against the wall, feeling very helpless as he watched them work on her. The nurses hustled around, handing the ICU doctor the things he called out for. Members of the medical team stormed in and out of the room with various pieces of equipment. Everyone was shouting and talking at once, getting this and hooking this up to that.

Within a matter of minutes, Lois was hooked up to several machines and had wires and tubes stuck all over her. Finally the ICU doctor called out for silence and pressed his stethoscope to Lois' chest, listening for a long minute. Then he nodded his head at the members of the medical team that surrounded him. "It's okay now. She's stable."

He took the stethoscope out of his ears and let it dangle around his neck as he adjusted a couple more things before finally stepping back. Clark took the opportunity to speak. "Is she going to be okay? What happened?"

The doctor turned to look at him, noticing him for the first time since they'd arrived. "Well, she's stable now. But I have no idea what's caused this. We'll take some blood samples and compare it to the ones we took when she arrived. Maybe that will give us some clues."

"Is she going to be okay?" Clark asked.

The doctor didn't look very optimistic. "She's okay for now. But, like I said, we don't know what's caused this. Right now she's hovering pretty close to a coma. Whatever this is, if we hadn't gotten to her when we did, she might've died."

Clark swallowed noisily and felt tears come to his eyes. He looked across the room at Lois, with all the tubes and needles stuck in her, and felt dangerously close to losing it. He knew immediately what he had to do. "Do you have a phone I could use?"

The doctor nodded. "There's one in the office across the hall."

Clark walked to the office that the doctor had indicated, and shut the door behind him. Then, slowly and methodically, he walked over to the phone on the desk. He picked up the receiver, trying to hold back the sob in his throat as he dialed the phone number with shaking fingers. He listened to the phone ring once, twice, then three times. Finally his mom's voice came over the phone. "Hello?"

Clark tried to speak, but nothing came out. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Mom?"

Instantly, she could tell something was wrong. "Clark? Clark, what is it? What's wrong?" Then he heard his dad's voice in the background asking her what was wrong.

When he was finally able to speak, his voice was choked with emotion. "Mom, I need you and Dad. Can you come to the hospital right away? Something's wrong with Lois."

Hastily, his mother said, "Clark, we'll be right there. Just hang on." Then she hung up.

Clark slumped into the chair by the desk, still holding the phone and staring blankly into space. When he heard the tone come over the phone, it seemed to bring him back to the present. He slowly hung up the phone, stood up, and made his way out of the office and across the hall to Lois' room.

He opened the door quietly and stepped in, letting the door close slowly behind him. Standing awkwardly just inside the room, Clark shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans and slumped his shoulders.

It had just been last night that Lois had been happy and well, and they had held their precious new baby, talking excitedly about how their lives were going to change because of him. But in just a matter of minutes everything had changed. Instead of sitting and talking with Lois as she recovered, he'd now have to wait to find out if she'd live.

He walked slowly over to her bed and sat down in the chair beside it. In the dim light coming in through the curtained window, Clark stared at Lois' face, studying her delicate features. He lifted his hand to her cheek and let his fingers gently trail along her cheekbone and jaw. After staring at her helplessly for several minutes, Clark realized how completely lost he'd be without her.

The door to Lois' room opened a minute later, and Clark looked up to see a doctor in a lab coat coming into the room carrying Lois' patient folder. He shook Clark's hand solemnly as he introduced himself. "My name's Dr. Peterson. I'm here to see if we can find out what's wrong with your wife."

"Do you have any idea what's wrong with her?"

The doctor shook his head. "To tell you the truth, we're not sure. Her most recent blood samples are still being analyzed. Hopefully that will give us some answers. But in the meantime, can you tell us anything that could help us know what we're dealing with? Has Lois been sick lately, or complained about anything that might be health related?"

Clark sighed and shook his head. "No. Nothing at all. Her pregnancy has been fine. She wasn't due for another month, but our doctor didn't seem to be too worried about it. Other than that, I can't think of anything that could've caused this."

Dr. Peterson made a couple of notes in Lois' folder. Just then Clark felt a wave of fear swell up inside of him. "Jordan!" he said urgently, his voice filled with concern. "What about our baby, Jordan? Is he okay? Has he been affected by this like Lois has?"

Dr. Peterson shook his head quickly, dispelling any notions that Jordan might be in danger. "I'm already ahead of you. The pediatricians were alerted immediately, and they've been monitoring Jordan for any signs of this. But so far he seems completely unaffected by whatever is affecting your wife." Clark breathed a sigh of relief. "Boy, I'm glad to hear that. But what about Lois? Where do we go from here?"

"Well, unfortunately we're not going to be able to start looking for cures until we find out what's caused your wife's illness." Dr. Peterson glanced over at Lois, then looked back up at Clark. When he saw Clark's worried expression, he smiled reassuringly and patted his shoulder. "Don't worry, Mr. Kent. Metropolis General has one of the best ICUs in the country. We'll get to the bottom of this. Just hang in there." Then he turned and left the room.

Clark felt devastated. The woman he loved was fighting an unknown illness, and he couldn't stand the thought of what could happen if they didn't find out what was causing it.

The door opened again, and a nurse came in to inject something into Lois' IV. Clark couldn't bear to watch. Realizing that he was dangerously close to losing control of his emotions, he stood quickly and turned to escape from the hospital room.

He had just hurried out of the room and was starting to walk down the hall when he saw his parents come flying around the corner of the west wing. They both looked very worried and haggard.

"Clark!" his mother said immediately when she saw him. "What's wrong with Lois? Is she okay?" They rushed up to Clark and stopped beside him, seeming to be preparing themselves for the worst.

"No, she's not okay, mom." Clark told them what had happened and finished with, "and she hasn't regained consciousness yet."

"Oh, honey," Martha said, putting her arms around Clark and hugging him tightly. Jonathan put a hand on Clark's shoulder. After a long minute, his mom drew back. "Can we see her? Are the doctors allowing it?"

Clark shrugged, seeming more emotionally drained than either of his parents had ever seen him. "I guess they are. No one's said anything to me about it."

Jonathan spoke up. "I'd like to go be with her."

Martha nodded. "Me, too." They started to walk toward Lois' room, but a couple of steps later, Martha noticed that Clark wasn't following them. "Clark?" she said, looking at him questioningly.

"I don't think I can do this, mom," he said a moment later, feeling dangerously close to tears. "Maybe you should just go in without me."

Jonathan shook his head firmly. "Clark, I understand how hard this is for you to see Lois this way. But she's your wife, and she's very sick right now. She needs to feel that you're here for her. Running away from the problem isn't going to make it go away. We all have to face the fact that our loved ones are not always going to be free from injury and sickness. We can only hope to deal with something like this when it happens."

Clark nodded. "I know. You're right. It's just…it's just harder than I ever thought it would be." A tear slid down his cheek.

Martha nodded and squeezed his arm. "I know. But we'll be right there with you."


When Dr. Peterson came in twenty minutes later to explain what they had found, Clark was shocked at what the doctor told them. "It's almost as if her blood has been poisoned by a foreign agent," Dr. Peterson explained. "It's unlike anything I've ever seen. Its DNA is very similar to the same kind of anti-body that our bodies produce to fight off diseases, but we have no idea where this particular agent came from. Our bodies don't produce anything like it. In some cases, I can see that this anti-body could be used to fight off all sorts of diseases and sicknesses, but in Lois' case, her blood has instead been poisoned by it for lack of it being slowly introduced to her immune system. In actuality, it's poisoning her blood, and in turn, her whole immune system."

It was quiet for a minute as they pondered the doctor's words. Finally Jonathan spoke up. "So what does this all mean? Lois *is* going to get better, isn't she?"

Dr. Peterson sighed. "Well, unfortunately, nobody around here has seen anything like this. So we're going to have to do some more research and just hope for the best."

"You don't sound very hopeful about that," Jonathan pointed out.

"Well, of course we're going to do all that we can. But until we figure out what's caused this…" his voice trailed off and he shrugged bewilderedly. Then he started for the door. "I'm going to get right on this. But I'll let you know the minute we find out anything."

As soon as the door shut behind Dr. Peterson, Clark slapped the armrests of his chair angrily and stood up abruptly, nearly tipping his chair over in the process. His parents jumped, and looked at Clark in surprise.

"Damn it!" he swore uncharacteristically, walking angrily across the room to the window. "I should've known something like this would happen."

Martha and Jonathan were so surprised by his outburst that they were silent for a minute. Finally Martha spoke up. "Clark? What's the matter?"

When Clark turned around, they could see the tears streaming down his face. "How could I have done this to her?" he said, his voice totally overcome with emotion. "Lois is the love of my life. I can't imagine living without her, yet this is all my fault."

Martha and Jonathan exchanged a very confused look, then Martha said, "Clark, what on earth are you talking about?"

"Mom, you know *exactly* what I'm talking about," he said, seeming to have finally lost control of his emotions. "We never knew for sure how my body worked, or if my physiology was even the same as everyone else's. Obviously my blood chemistry is completely different than Lois', and when we decided to have this baby, my blood type carried over to the baby. Then during the delivery yesterday, my blood-the baby's blood—contaminated Lois'." He looked from his mom to his dad. "Don't you see? This is all my fault! And now Lois might even die because of this…" he broke off, dropped into a nearby chair, put his face in his hands and started to sob.

Martha immediately went over to him and put her arms around him. She rocked him slightly and stroked his hair back away from his forehead like she used to do when he was a child and in need of comfort.

When his sobs finally diminished, he took the handkerchief his dad offered him and wiped at his tear streaked cheeks. "So what are you going to do, son?" his dad asked solemnly. "You can't just tell the doctor that you're…well, you know."

Clark was silent for what seemed like an eternity, his mind pondering the seriousness of the situation. "I don't know, Dad. Maybe this time I don't have a choice. Maybe if I tell the doctors what's going on, they can do something to help her. If I don't…" he let his voice trail off.

"Oh, but Clark!" Martha interjected. "You can't do that! You've always stressed the importance of not having the people close to you becoming a target. And letting the cat out of the bag, so to speak, would definitely put Lois, *and the baby*," she emphasized, "at risk."

Clark looked up at his mom's serious expression. "So what do you think I should do, then, Mom?"

The room was quiet for a minute as they all silently considered Clark's options. "Well, I don't think you should do anything as drastic as telling the doctors who you are unless it becomes absolutely necessary," Jonathan said a minute later. "Lois is stable for now and not in any immediate danger. I think it would be best to wait and see what the doctors come up with. I mean, if they were able to find a cure on their own, telling them the truth would be unnecessary."

Martha nodded. "That's right. I agree that we should wait and see what the doctors find out."

Clark sighed heavily. "I guess you're right." He turned to look at Lois sadly. "It's just so hard to wait."

"We know, Clark. We know."


A couple of hours later, Clark was sitting in the chair beside Lois' bed holding her hand when the door to her room opened yet again. By now Clark was so used to having doctors and nurses in and out of the room checking on Lois and giving her medication that he didn't even look up until he heard the sound of Perry and Jimmy's voices.

"Oh, man," Jimmy said as he stopped by the bed and saw Lois hooked up to all the machines. "Is she going to be okay?"

"I don't know," Clark said desolately. He explained for the second time that day what had had happened and what the doctors had said.

Perry shook his head when Clark finished. "Do the doctors have any idea what caused this?"

"No, not yet. They're still working on some things. They hope to find out soon."

Perry clamped a hand onto Clark's shoulder in a show of support. "Clark, I want you to know that we're here for you. If you need anything at all, just say the word. Got it?" And Jimmy nodded in agreement.

Clark smiled gratefully. "Thanks, you guys. I appreciate that. I don't know how much you could really do right now, though. We're just waiting to hear."

"But I'm sure that's the hardest part of all, son," Perry told him solemnly.

Clark nodded. **If only they knew how hard it really is to sit back and wait,** he thought sadly. **When you know that you have the answer, but have to wait until the doctors really need to ask the question.**


Dr. Peterson came in a short time after Jimmy and Perry left to go back to the Planet. Clark looked up at him hopefully. "Any word yet?"

Dr. Peterson shook his head. "It's not looking very good. I'm afraid we've hit a brick wall. We don't know what else to try. We just don't know enough about what's caused this to try to create a cure."

Seeing the devastated look on Clark's face, he put his hand on Clark's shoulder sympathetically before leaving the room. Clark found himself almost in a trance as he wrestled inwardly with his thoughts. Martha came into the room a moment later.

"Clark, sweetie, one of the nurses from downstairs just called up here saying that Jordan was hungry and needed to be fed. Should I just tell the nurses there to bottle feed him? Or would you like to go down and do it yourself? It might do you some good to take a break and spend some time with Jordan."

Clark felt torn. He didn't want to leave Lois, but he also wanted to see his new son, whom he hadn't even seen in a couple of hours. **This isn't the way it's supposed to be,** Clark thought sadly. **We're supposed to be home by now, and enjoying being a family. And now all that may change…**

In that instant, Clark knew that he needed to see Jordan. Maybe seeing the flicker of Lois in him would somehow reassure him that Lois was going to be okay. That Lois *had* to be okay. "I think you're right, Mom. I need to get out of here for a while. Seeing Jordan might help me sort some things out."

Martha seemed confused by her son's last words, but decided not to pursue it. "Good," she said. "Maybe seeing Jordan will cheer you up a little. And don't worry. I'll stay here with Lois."

Clark walked stiffly down the hall to the elevator. When he reached the nursery, he could hear Jordan crying. The nurses smiled at Clark when they saw him through the windows and gestured for him to come in. They helped him put a gown on over his clothes and pointed him toward a tiny room just off of the nursery where he could sit and bottle feed his new son, away from the noise and activity of the nursery. He sat in the rocking chair in the corner and waited for the nurse to bring Jordan in to him.

A minute later she was setting Jordan gently in his arms. Clark took the bottle that was handed to him, then offered it to the fussing infant. As soon as Jordan got a taste of the warm formula, he latched on to the bottle and started sucking fiercely. Clark and the nurse both laughed. A few moments later, the nurse turned to resume her duties, leaving them alone.

Clark stared at Jordan for a long time, absolutely mesmerized by him. He loved the way his thin eyebrows raised slightly each time he sucked on the bottle's nipple, and the way his dark hair curled slightly around his ears.

As Clark continued to study his features, he realized just how much Jordan looked like Lois. With a smile, he wondered if Jordan would have more in common with his mom than just her looks. Would he also have her feisty spirit? Would he always be getting himself into one predicament after another? Would 'Superman' have to keep saving him, like he did his mom?

After several minutes, Jordan's sucking grew less and less fierce, then finally stopped altogether as he drifted off to sleep in his dad's arms. Clark slowly slipped the bottle from Jordan's mouth and set it on the changing table next to him. Then he brought his arm back and slipped it underneath him again, cradling the tiny infant ever so gently.

As Clark relaxed back in the chair, rocking slowly and rhythmically, he stared down at his precious new son, and he felt his love for this perfect little person nearly overcome him. "You are just so perfect," Clark said quietly, in awe of the little miracle he held in his arms. "I can't believe that you're here, and that you belong to us."

He was quiet as he sat back, simply enjoying watching Jordan sleep peacefully in his arms. A minute later, Clark continued speaking again softly. "Your mom and I love you so much. Do you know that? And I love your mom very, very much." Once the words were out, Clark couldn't stop the tears from spilling down his cheeks.

"You see, Jordan…your mom is very sick, and she needs my help. But giving her that help is going to come at a price. A big price. It's definitely not easy for me to make this kind of decision, because I would never do anything that would hurt you or your mom. And I'm afraid that this might. People might try to hurt one of you because of it, and I'd never, ever want that to happen. But I don't see that I have much choice. Your mom needs to get well, because…" he paused, trying to control the shake in his voice. "Well, because I love her and you more than anything else in this world…" Unable to continue, Clark broke down and started to cry softly, no longer able to hold back his flood of emotions.

When he was all cried out, he leaned down and gently kissed the top of Jordan's dark head. Then he tucked the blue blanket around him a little more snugly, making sure he felt warm and safe.

A minute later the nurse poked her head into the room. "Dr. Peterson is looking for you upstairs," she told him.

Immediately Clark felt anxious. "Tell him I'm on my way." With one last look at his sleeping baby, he said, "Jordan, I promise that I will always love you, and that I'll always do my best to keep you and your mom safe." Then he kissed him once more before standing up and going back into the well lit nursery.

The nurse came over to take the sleeping infant out of his arms, and Clark wondered if the nurse could tell he'd been crying. If she had, she didn't let it show. "Thanks," Clark told her as he took off the gown he'd been wearing and draped it across the arm of a chair. Then he slipped out of the nursery and headed for the elevators.

When Clark reached the Intensive Care Unit, he saw that Dr. Peterson and his parents were waiting for him. "What's going on?" Clark asked.

Dr. Peterson cleared his throat. "I just finished checking on Lois, and I'm afraid to say that I'm not sure how much longer we can keep her stable. Whatever this is just seems to be overtaking her system."

Clark felt like his heart was falling into the pit of his stomach. The time had finally come. There wasn't anything else these doctors could do for Lois, so Clark knew that he no longer had a choice. He had to tell them the truth.

When Dr. Peterson excused himself, Clark turned to his parents. "Well, I guess I no longer have a choice, do I?" he said sadly.

Jonathan shook his head. "I guess not, son."

Clark crammed his hands into the front pockets of his jeans and shook his head nervously. "I know what I have to do, but the idea of telling anybody that I'm…you know…scares me to death. I mean, the more people that know about me, the bigger chance there is that the information could be leaked out to the criminal element. But I don't see that I have any other choice now. Lois' life depends on me telling the doctors who I am."

Martha and Jonathan nodded their heads in agreement. "I wish we could think of some other way, Clark, but considering the circumstances, I think you have to tell them," Jonathan said.

"I just thought of something," Martha spoke up. "What about the patient/doctor confidentiality thing? If you only told the doctors who need to know, you could still keep this relatively quiet."

"I see what you're getting at, Martha," Jonathan said. "But it's not like Clark knows these doctors personally or anything. Do you really think they would keep something this significant in confidence? How would he know if he could really trust them?"

Clark was thoughtful for a minute, then his face lit up. "Dr. Klein!" he said excitedly. "He would help, I'm sure of it! If I could trust anyone to keep this under wraps, it would be him!"

"But what about Lois' other doctors?" Martha asked with concern. "Surely Dr. Klein couldn't do everything by himself. He'd have to have some kind of help."

Clark sighed as he realized that his mom was right. So what was the answer? The life of his wife hung in limbo, her health totally dependent upon his decision. Yet he struggled to make that decision. **What's to decide?** he asked himself angrily. He could save the life of the woman he loved more than life itself just by telling a few doctors about himself. But the truth of the matter was, it wasn't an easy decision to make at all.

Keeping his other identity a secret had become second nature to him, something he never had to think twice about. He did it to keep the people in his life safe. The thought of other people knowing his secret made him feel vulnerable, at risk. He would be dependent upon a handful of strangers to keep his true identity a secret. And that thought terrified him.

But when he thought about Lois, lying in that hospital bed so sick and pale, with all those tubes stuck in her limp body, his heart ached. **Just one phone call,** he told himself. **That's all it would take to start making Lois better.** It sounded so simple. But he knew that it wasn't. It was going to be the hardest phone call he'd ever had to make in his life. But he knew exactly what he had to do.

He turned to his parents. "Let's call Dr. Klein."


"Well," Clark said after the phone call had been made. "I guess now we just wait for Dr. Klein to get here."

His dad slipped an arm around his shoulders. "Are you okay, son?"

Clark forced a smile, trying to put up a brave front. "I think so." He was quiet for a minute. "Hey, would you guys mind keeping an eye out for Dr. Klein? I'd like to have a few minutes alone with Lois before he comes."

"Of course, sweetie," his mom said, giving his arm a squeeze. "Spend all the time with Lois that you need. We'll let you know when Dr. Klein gets here."

"Thanks, Mom," he said before turning and going into Lois' room. When the door shut behind him, he noticed how deathly quiet it was in the room, the only sounds coming from the beeping and humming machines.

Clark walked slowly over to Lois' side and sat down. He took her hand in his, gently tracing her delicate knuckles with his thumb. Finally he looked up at her face.

"Lois, I don't know if you can hear me, but I need to talk to you anyway. I need you to understand why I'm about to something. The doctors have been running around in circles for a while now, trying to figure out what exactly has made you sick, but they've come up empty handed. They have no idea what's caused this. But I do."

He paused, looking back down at her hand and lightly running his finger over the white medical tape that held her IV needle securely in place.

When he looked back up at her, he had tears in his eyes. "Lois, I know that it means more people would know my secret, and it could be dangerous for you and Jordan, and for my folks. And I know that's not how we wanted to live our lives…in fear that somebody could find out and try to use the people I love to get to me. But you see, I don't have any other choice. If I tell the doctors who I am, they can do something to make you well. I'd rather let my secret out and have to live with the consequences than to not tell anyone and have you die. Because, Lois, I love you very much and I want to have you with me forever."

He squeezed her hand tightly. "So, I'm asking you to forgive me for what I'm about to do, and I hope you'll understand why I did it." He listened for a minute to Lois' labored breathing, and he knew that without a doubt, he was making the right decision.

With renewed determination, he leaned over and kissed Lois' lips lightly, sealing the silent bargain. Then he stood up and left the room.


It seemed like an eternity before Clark and his parents finally saw Dr. Klein come out of the elevator and hurry toward them. "Clark, you said it was urgent," Dr. Klein said by way of a greeting, sounding extremely concerned. "What's going on?"

Clark briefly explained the events that had happened in the last 24 hours, and Dr. Klein was stunned when Clark finished. "Is Lois going to be okay? Have her doctors been able to determine what's wrong with her?"

Clark shook his head. "All they know is that it's a type of blood poisoning they've never seen before."

"So why am I here? Did you need my help with something?" Dr. Klein asked.

"Actually, I do," Clark told him. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. But we just paged Dr. Peterson, and I'd like to wait until he gets here because what I have to say, I want to say only once."

"Okay," Dr. Klein said, uncertainly.

"He should be here in a minute," Clark said. He paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. "Dr. Klein, can I ask you something? Do you know Lois' doctor, Dr. Peterson?"

Dr. Klein nodded. "Sure. He's one of the best doctors around. Why?"

"Well, the reason I'm asking is that I need to know if he could be trusted with something big."

"With what, exactly?"

Clark shifted his feet. "Lois' doctors don't know what's caused Lois' blood poisoning. But I do."

Dr. Klein stared at Clark incredulously. "You're kidding! What's caused it? And how come you know about it and the doctors don't?"

Clark held up his hands to stop the doctor's questions. "I'll explain everything when Dr. Peterson gets here. But could you answer my question? Can Dr. Peterson be trusted?"

Dr. Klein nodded immediately. "Dr. Peterson is a good man. I've known him for a long time. And I assure you that he can be trusted with whatever it is that you need to tell us."

Dr. Peterson arrived a few minutes later. When he saw Dr. Klein standing with Clark, his face broke into a big grin. The two doctors greeted each other warmly, and Clark could tell that they were indeed close friends.

When they were done greeting each other, Dr. Peterson turned to Clark. "The nurse said you needed to talk to me about something important."

"Yes, I do," Clark answered, nodding his head solemnly. "Um, do you mind if we talk somewhere a little more private? Maybe we could use an office down the hall?"

"Oh, umm…okay," Dr. Peterson said, slightly confused. But he turned and started to lead the way down the hall.

Jonathan touched Clark's shoulder. "Do you want us to come with you, son?"

Clark sighed. "No, I'll be fine. Could you please just stay with Lois?"

"Sure, honey," Martha said with a motherly smile.

"Thanks," Clark said. Once he and the two doctors were in the office with the door shut behind them, Dr. Peterson turned to Clark.

"So what's this all about?" he asked.

"I think I can help you with Lois' problem," Clark began. "I'm pretty sure it has everything to do with my blood type. But, before I go on, I'd like to have your word that what I am about to tell you will be held in the strictest of confidence. For Lois' sake, my sake, and my baby's sake."

"Of course," Dr. Peterson nodded. "You can trust me."

Clark smiled, relieved. "That's what Dr. Klein said about you, too. It's just that the information I'm about to give you is…well, let's just say that if this ever got out, my life, and the lives of my family, would be at stake."

"You have my word."

Clark breathed a sigh of relief, feeling confident that he could trust these two doctors. "Okay. Here goes. I know how Lois' blood got infected. It was because of my blood type. Maybe it happened while she was pregnant with Jordan, or maybe it happened while she was giving birth, I don't know. But somehow my blood type affected Lois' bloodstream, and her body wasn't able to acclimate. I never thought that this would be a problem, but obviously it is."

"I'm…not sure I understand," Dr. Peterson said, confused. "Why would your blood type cause Lois' infection? Is this something like the rh factor?"

"Yeah, I guess it is something like that," Clark answered. "But I didn't say anything earlier because I was hoping you'd be able to help Lois without me having to tell you this."

Dr. Klein shifted his weight, and shook his head. "Clark, I'm afraid we've lost you. Could you please just tell us what you're trying to say?"

"I'm sorry," Clark told him quickly. "It's just that…this is really hard for me to say."

"What is it, Clark?" Dr. Klein prompted.

Clark took a deep breath to steady himself. "Dr. Klein, Dr. Peterson…What I wanted to tell you is… I'm Superman."

It was silent in the room for a long time as Dr. Klein and Dr. Peterson continued to stare blankly at Clark. It seemed as if they were waiting for Clark to laugh, or to tell them that this was all just a big joke. "You're kidding, right?" Dr. Peterson asked in a stunned voice.

Clark shook his head. "No, I'm not kidding. I've never been more serious in my life." Then, as if to convince the still skeptical doctors, Clark started explaining about himself. "You see, this all started when I wanted to lead a normal life…"

Several minutes later, Clark finished explaining to them about his secret identity. The room was silent for a minute as both doctors digested the news. Finally Dr. Klein found his voice. "So let me get this straight. All these years I've been helping Superman, I was really helping you?"

Clark cleared his throat nervously. Dr. Klein sounded exactly as Lois had on that rainy night in the park when he'd asked her to marry him, and she'd confronted him about his other identity. Afraid that his reaction would be similar to Lois', he forged on, hoping to smooth things over.

"Dr. Klein, I would completely understand if you're upset with me for deceiving you," he said. "But you have to understand why I've kept this from you. From everyone. There are plenty of criminals in the world who would just love to have this information to use against me. So I'd decided a long time ago to never tell this to anyone, for fear that my enemies would try to hurt the people I loved in order to get to me."

Clark watched both doctors' faces carefully, studying them for any indications as to how they were feeling, but their expressions were unreadable. "To be honest," Clark went on. "I would've continued to keep this a secret from you if I could. But that's no longer possible." He turned to Dr. Klein, his eyes pleading. "Dr. Klein, of all the people in this world, you know the most about me…about my physiology. I think that you, along with Dr. Peterson, could come up with something that would save Lois' life. Please, Dr. Klein. I need you help. *Lois* needs your help."

Dr. Klein's intent expression softened into a reassuring smile. "Of course I'll help, Clark. It's just that I think it's going to take some time to get used to the fact that you're…"

Clark tipped his head down slightly so that he was looking at Dr. Klein over the top of his glasses, waiting for him to finish. Dr. Klein finally shrugged. "Well, you know," he finished awkwardly.

Clark then turned to Dr. Peterson. "Do I have your support, too?"

Dr. Peterson nodded. "You can trust me, Clark. And I promise you that I'll do everything in my power to help your wife."

Clark breathed a loud sigh of relief. "So where do we start?"

"Well, we should definitely start working on this right away," Dr. Peterson said. "Dr. Klein, since you've worked with Clark in the past, I'd greatly appreciate your help. I don't even know where to start."

Dr. Klein nodded. "I'll help in any way I can. Maybe I can take a look at Lois' most recent blood samples, and then we can go from there."

Dr. Peterson turned to Clark. "I know that you want to keep this quiet, Clark," Dr. Peterson said. "and I agree that it's in everybody's best interest to do so. But with your permission, I'd like to call in some more thinking power. There are a couple of specialists that I think can help us. And yes, we can trust them."

Clark nodded. "Whatever you think is best."

With the specialists on their way, Clark decided to spend the next few minutes with Lois until the doctors arrived. When he got to Lois' room and pushed open the door, he saw his parents seated beside Lois' bed.

"How did it go?" his mom asked anxiously.

"Okay. Dr. Klein and Dr. Peterson went up to the lab to get started. They're calling in a couple of specialists that they think can help Lois."

"Have you thought about how Lois is going to handle all of this when she wakes up?" Jonathan asked solemnly. "She'll no longer be the only other person besides us to know about you, and I'm sure that'll be a big adjustment."

Clark nodded. "I know. But all I've been able to come up with is that I hope she'll understand why I had to do it."

Martha gave him a gentle, reassuring smile. "I'm sure she will."

A short time later, one of the ICU nurses came into the room to tell Clark that Dr. Peterson had called and wanted to see him upstairs. Clark nodded, but lingered at Lois' side for a moment longer. "I'll be back soon, Lois," he told her, touching her cheek lightly. "And when I do, I plan to have good news." Then, with a renewed sense of hope, he turned and left the room.

When Clark got off the elevator on the sixth floor, Dr. Klein and Dr. Peterson were waiting for him. "How are you holding up?"

Clark forced a small smile. "I'm okay. Are your colleagues here?"

Dr. Peterson nodded. "They're waiting for us in the conference room down the hall." He led the way to the conference room, where two men immediately stopped talking when Clark and the two doctors entered the room.

Clark was glad to know that these specialists were thought of so highly by Dr. Klein and Dr. Peterson. But he still couldn't help feeling like a white rat in a research lab because of the scrutinizing stares he was getting.

"Well, Superman!" A short, balding man with a cheerful countenance came up to greet Clark, shaking his hand firmly. "I'm Dr. Henderson. It's a real pleasure to finally be able to meet you. Although I wish it were under different circumstances. I'm sorry to hear that your wife is so sick."

"Thank you," Clark said softly. "And, please. My name's Clark."

Dr. Henderson seemed a little embarrassed at his mistake. "Of course. I'm sorry."

The other doctor stepped forward to shake his hand, and Clark recognized him almost immediately. "Dr. Simons," Clark responded with a smile. "How nice to see you again." He and Lois had done a story on this world-renowned doctor about a year ago when he'd won the Noble prize for research he'd done on several major diseases.

Dr. Simons smiled broadly at him as they shook hands, seeming to pick up almost instantly on Clark's feelings. "Don't worry, Clark. We're not here to slap you on a table to open you up and see what makes you tick. We're here to help in any way we can."

"Thank you," Clark said softly, grateful for this obviously caring man. "I'd just like to say before we begin, though, that this news of who I am poses a potentially very serious problem to my wife and baby, and they are my first priority right now. I don't think I need to remind you of how dangerous this information could be in the hands of my enemies."

"We understand completely," Dr. Henderson said, and all the other doctors nodded in agreement.

"Okay," Dr. Klein spoke up. "Let's start with the briefing. Here's what we have."

After everyone knew what was going on and what needed to be done, Dr. Peterson turned to Clark. "Clark, it might help if we're able to run several tests on you, to get some ideas of what we're dealing with. Maybe we could do some blood work on you, too, to compare blood samples between Lois and you and the baby. I think that's the best place to start."

"Umm," Clark hesitated. "I don't think you completely understand the situation. My body isn't like yours. You can't just stick a needle into me and draw blood. I'd break all the needles."

The doctors looked at each other, perplexed. "Hmm. I see what you mean. So what do you propose?"

Clark could only shrug and lift his hands in a helpless gesture. "I don't know. I was hoping that we could come up with something." Clark sighed wearily. "Look. I'm sorry about all this. I had no idea that anything like this would happen, or Lois and I may not have decided to have a family."

Dr. Klein put a hand on his shoulder. "Now, Clark, don't you talk like that. Between the five of us, we should be able to come up with something."

Fifteen minutes later, Clark lay on a table in the lab staring up into the brilliant lights overhead. A dozen circular pads were stuck all over his body, monitoring his vital signs and gathering information about the way Clark's body worked.

Clark tried to be patient as he was poked and prodded and asked questions about what he knew about his Kryptonian physiology. The conversation he'd had time and time again with his dad as he was growing up flashed through his mind: "People in the city are always looking to make a quick buck. If they find out about you, they'll put you in a laboratory and dissect you like a frog."

Like his dad had warned, he was beginning to feel uncomfortably like a science experiment. But then he forced himself to remember why he was doing this. He was doing this to save the woman that he loved. He'd just have to put his personal feelings aside and muddle through all of this.

As Clark forced himself to relax, he could hear the voices of two nurses walking past the blind-drawn windows of the lab. "I wonder what's going on in there?" one of the nurses said. "They're sure keeping everything hush-hush. I've never known a case to be so isolated before. Maybe this has something to do with that Mrs. Lane up in ICU. Maybe we should snoop around a bit and find out what's going on."

When Clark heard this, he started to sit up quickly, but Dr. Simons put a hand on Clark's bare chest to restrain him. "Clark, don't you pay any attention to them. There's no way they're going to find out anything about this because nobody is talking. There's nothing to worry about."

"Yeah, I guess you're right," Clark said. "It's just that I've never felt this helpless before in my entire life. I'm not used to having to rely on others for everything."

Dr. Simons nodded understandingly. "I can see how this would be extremely hard for you. I mean, here you are, a super-human being who stops volcanoes from wiping out entire cities, and keeps crime almost single-handedly to a minimum here in Metropolis. And just last week you stopped that meteor from crashing into South America." Dr. Simons stopped his evaluations for a minute to smile gratefully at Clark. "By the way…thanks. I have a son living down there who would've been killed by that meteor."

Clark smiled back warmly at Dr. Simons, whom he found himself liking more and more by the minute. "Your welcome."

Dr. Simons patted Clark's shoulder affectionately, knowing that they were on their way to becoming fast friends. Then he turned back to his notes. "Now let's see what I can do about saving the person *you* love."

Clark felt a warm feeling come over him towards this doctor, who seemed to be single-handedly restoring Clark's hopes that everything would indeed turn out okay. Clark grasped the doctor's arm as he started to walk away. "Dr. Simons… thank you." Clark told him sincerely. "I can't tell you how much I appreciate you working so hard to save Lois' life."

Dr. Simons smiled, but his face was solemn. "We haven't saved her life yet," he pointed out gravely. "We still have a long way to go."


"I can't believe this! That's the third needle I've broken in you," Dr. Henderson said as he threw away the broken needle in frustration. They'd been trying unsuccessfully to extract some blood samples for the past fifteen minutes, and the doctors were beginning to get frustrated.

"I told you that it wouldn't work," Clark said as Dr. Henderson took a fourth needle from a tray beside the bed. "And it still won't, so you may as well quit trying."

"Well, we've got to find a way to get a blood sample from you if we want to go any further," he said, with notable frustration in his voice. "I just don't see that any of our blood extraction methods are going to work." He sat back and removed his glasses, rubbing tiredly at his eyes.

Dr. Simons held up his hands and called for attention. "Look, people. I know we've been at this for a while now, and that we're all tired. But we can't give up. Let's remember why we're doing this. Does anybody have any suggestions?"

Several suggestions were tossed out, but Clark shook his head at all of them. "None of those will work," he said, giving in to his own weariness and becoming slightly irritable. "My skin just isn't like yours."

"Well, there's got to be a way to get a needle into you. Isn't there some way to weaken your skin's resistance?"

Clark started to argue that there wasn't, but then stopped and looked quickly over at Dr. Klein. "The Kryptonite!" he said immediately. "Does Star Labs still have it?"

Dr. Klein's expression brightened and he nodded. "Yes! Yes, we do! I think that just might do the trick!"

"But wait a minute," Dr. Simons interrupted. "I thought this Kryptonite was just a rumor. You mean such a thing really exists?"

Dr. Klein nodded. "Oh, it definitely exists. We have a piece of it locked in our high security vault at Star Labs."

Dr. Henderson looked over at Clark. "But isn't Kryptonite supposed to kill you? We don't want to kill you. We just want to take some blood samples."

Clark sat up excitedly. "Long term exposure to Kryptonite *would* kill me. But I wouldn't need to be exposed to it for very long before my skin would become vulnerable. I would only need to be exposed to it long enough so that you could stick a needle in me to draw some blood."

All the doctors in the room nodded, finally understanding what Clark was telling them. "So how long would you need to be exposed to it for this to work?" Dr. Henderson asked.

Clark looked over at Dr. Klein and they thought for a minute. "Maybe about ten minutes," Dr. Klein finally said. "All I'd have to do is call over to the lab and get permission to have the Kryptonite released into my custody, and then have it brought here to the hospital."

The four doctors looked at each other as they silently mulled it over. Finally Dr. Simons spoke up. "Let's do it."

Everyone hurried off to get things ready for the Kryptonite to arrive. Clark got Dr. Simons' attention before he, too, could hustle off. "Uh, Dr. Simons? Would it be okay if I went to tell my folks what we're going to do? I promised to let them know what was going on."

Dr. Simons smiled understandingly. "You bet. Besides," he said, winking at Clark. "I don't think I'm strong enough to keep you from going even if I told you couldn't."

Clark laughed at Dr. Simons' joke as he started taking off the circular monitor pads that were still stuck to him, and placed them carefully on the metal cart beside the bed. Then he grabbed his flannel shirt and slipped it on, fumbling tiredly with the buttons. "I'll be back in a minute."

"No hurry. Take all the time you need."


When Clark pushed open the door to Lois' room, he saw his dad dozing in the chair next to Lois' bed, but he didn't see his mom. He went over to his dad and shook him lightly. "Dad."

Jonathan woke up immediately, looking a bit startled. But he relaxed when he saw Clark standing over him. "Oh, Clark. I must've dozed off."

"Where's Mom?"

"She went down to feed Jordan a little while ago. She should probably be back any time now." As if on cue, Martha came into the room only moments later.

"Clark, is everything okay?" she asked with concern.

"Yeah, everything's fine, Mom. How's Jordan doing?"

Martha smiled broadly. "He is just darling. I'm glad the nurses asked me if I wanted to feed him instead of doing it themselves. He polished off a bottle of formula in a matter of minutes. I think you can plan on him eating you out of house and home." Then she seemed to remember the situation at hand. "So have the doctors come up with anything?"

"Well, first of all, the doctors are all really great and I feel good about their ability to help Lois. But we've run into a problem that I wanted to tell you about." Clark told them how the doctors needed to get blood samples from him, but decided they'd need to use the Kryptonite to do so.

Clark's parents listened carefully, but they were obviously very concerned by the time he finished. "But Clark, are you sure it'll be safe?" his mom asked. "We know what Kryptonite can do to you. I'm not sure this is such a good idea."

"I know what Kryptonite has done to me in the past, but under the circumstances, I think that it's actually going to save Lois' life. Dr. Simons says that if they can get some blood samples from me, they should be able to mix the healthy anti-bodies in my blood with some of the blood they extracted from Lois. Then they could mix them together with a desensitizing agent that they could inject into Lois' bloodstream. Since it'll be a modified version of the anti-bodies in her blood, it should kill off the poisoned blood cells. Then her immune system would return to normal."

Martha and Jonathan nodded their heads. "That makes sense," they agreed.

"Listen," Clark told them. "I want you two to go back to the apartment to get some sleep. It'll be at least a couple of hours before they know if Dr. Simons theory will work, and I'll call you as soon as they know."

"Okay," they agreed hesitantly. "But remember. We're only a phone call away."

Clark smiled and gave them each a hug before seeing them to the elevator. Then he decided to go back to sit with Lois until the Kryptonite arrived.


Meanwhile, at the Planet:

"Daily Planet." Jimmy answered the ringing phone on Clark's desk.

"Hey, Jimmy, is that you?" the voice on the other end of the line asked.

"Yeah, this is Jimmy," he said, sounding confused. "Who is this?"

"Jimmy, it's me. Steve. From down at Star Labs."

"Oh, hi, Steve!" Jimmy's guard dropped instantly as he recognized his friend's voice. "What's up?"

"I had some information for Clark. Is he around?"

"No, I'm sorry. He's not. Can I take a message?" Jimmy asked as he fumbled around on Clark's desk for a pen and paper.

"Well, there's something going on down here at Star Labs that I thought Clark might be interested in. In the past, he's always wanted to know if anything happened down here that was Superman related. And this definitely is."

Jimmy's interest perked up immediately and he took a seat at Clark's desk "What's going on?"

"Well, Dr. Klein just phoned from Metropolis General and authorized the release of the Kryptonite that we have stored here in our vault. He said he needed it for something he was working on at the hospital. He said it was a matter of life or death."

Jimmy was stunned. "A matter of life or death for whom?" he asked. "You don't think that it was Superman's life that he was talking about, do you?"

"I don't know," Steve answered truthfully. "But he sounded very serious when he called. Anyway, I just wanted to call and let Clark know what'd I'd heard. Will you make sure he gets the message?"

"Sure, no problem," Jimmy answered, still digesting the information. "Thanks for the call, Steve." After he hung up the phone, he continued to sit at Clark's desk, his mind churning.

There was definitely something strange going on here. If this was one of Dr. Klein's normal Kryptonite experiments, why wouldn't he be doing the experiment at Star Labs like he always did? Why would he need to have the Kryptonite taken to the hospital? Well, according to Steve, Dr. Klein had said that it was a matter of life or death. But who's life? It had been proven that Superman was the only person on earth who could be affected by Kryptonite. But surely Dr. Klein wasn't planning on using the Kryptonite on Superman! It would kill him!

**No, that doesn't make sense,** Jimmy thought to himself, shaking his head. **Surely he wouldn't want to kill Superman. There's got to be something going on that I haven't thought of yet. And whatever it is, it's sure to be big. Front page news, even.**

Jimmy knew that if Lois and Clark were here, they would jump right on this. They would go down to the hospital and try to find out exactly what was going on. But Lois and Clark weren't here. And they weren't going to be able to investigate this latest piece of information. But Jimmy knew that this information couldn't just be ignored. It was a story just screaming to be written!

Jimmy felt a tingle run up his spine as he realized what this could mean. This could be the story that would launch his investigative journalism career! Without a second thought, he stood up from Clark's chair, grabbed a pen and notebook from the desk, and then headed for the elevator.


When Jimmy got to the hospital, he took the elevator up to the sixth floor, where he knew several of the bigger labs were located. If Dr. Klein was doing some kind of experiment with the Kryptonite, it was sure to involve several other doctors. Otherwise, he would've just stayed at Star Labs.

The elevator's doors opened slowly when it reached the sixth floor, and Jimmy looked up and down the hall as he stepped off. **Dr. Klein's got to be on this floor somewhere,** he thought. **Now all I have to do is find him and see if he'll tell me what's going on.**

Jimmy peeked in several lab windows along the corridor before he heard a door open further down the hall. He looked up, startled and worried about being caught snooping around, and saw that it was Dr. Klein coming out of the lab at the end of the hall.

"Dr. Klein!" he called out.

Dr. Klein looked up and smiled when he saw Jimmy approaching. "Oh, hi, Jimmy. If you came to see Lois, you're off by a floor. She's on the fifth floor."

"Oh, um… yeah," Jimmy began hesitantly. "I was going to see Lois, but I was looking for you first."


Jimmy nodded. "Yeah. Well, I heard from a source that you were having the Kryptonite from Star Labs released into your custody and brought here, and that it was a matter of life or death. I figured that this had something to do with Superman, and of course, being a friend of Superman's, I was worried. I was hoping you would tell me what was going on."

"Kryptonite? Brought here to the hospital?" Dr. Klein asked with obviously feigned ignorance. "If I needed to do any kind of experiments with the Kryptonite, I'd be doing them in my lab. I think your 'source' must have fed you some false information."

"Then what are you doing here at the hospital?" Jimmy asked. "I heard you were here for something that was considered a matter of life or death."

Dr. Klein shook his head, but Jimmy could see that little beads of perspiration were starting to form on his brow. "I'm just here to help a colleague of mine with some routine work. Certainly nothing as serious as life or death, I assure you. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my colleague." And with that, Dr. Klein turned and hurried off down the hall and got into the elevator.

Jimmy watched as the elevator doors shut, leaving him alone in the hall. **Now what?** Jimmy asked himself. It was obvious that Dr. Klein was hiding something. You didn't have to be an award winning investigative journalist like Lois or Clark to figure that out.

He knew Dr. Klein pretty well, since he had worked with him with Lois and Clark on several occasions. So it seemed strange that Dr. Klein would be this secretive with him about this. If this had just been a matter of Star Lab security, he would've said so. But the way he had acted…it was almost as if he was scared of something.

Jimmy knew that he just had to find out what was going on. If Superman was really in trouble, as Jimmy suspected he was, then he wanted to know about it so he could help out in any way he could. After all, Superman had saved his life on many occasions, and Jimmy wasn't about to turn his back on a friend.

**Well, if Dr. Klein won't tell me what's going on, I'll just have to find out for myself,** Jimmy decided. He looked toward the elevator and saw that the doors were still closed, then glanced up and down the hall. Confident that nobody was watching, he started down the hall toward the lab that Dr. Klein had come out of just a few minutes before.

Jimmy's steps slowed as he neared the lab and he kept glancing nervously over his shoulder to make sure that he wasn't being watched. Confident that he was alone, he reached out and slowly started to turn the doorknob. Locked.

With a frustrated sigh, Jimmy took a step back, trying to decide what his next course of action should be. The blinds were shut on all the windows, so he knew he wasn't going to be able to see what was in that lab unless he found a way to get in. **But how?** he thought, discouraged.

Suddenly, the elevator bell sounded, and Jimmy looked up just in time to see two doctors in white lab coats and holding clipboards start to walk out of the elevator. Thinking quickly, Jimmy made a dash for the lab across the hall, praying that the door would be unlocked. It was. Jimmy ducked into the lab, shutting the door noiselessly behind him. Thankfully, the lab was empty, so Jimmy was able to hide out until he could decide what to do next.

As the two doctors neared the lab where Dr. Klein had been a short time ago, Jimmy peered out of the drawn blinds on the lab's door and watched as the doctors continued on, completely unaware that they were being watched. They were consulting the notes on their clipboards, talking quietly and comparing their information.

"I know, but take a look at this," the short, balding doctor told the taller, thinner one. "How do you explain this type of anti-body? It just doesn't make sense."

"Sure, it makes sense," the tall doctor told him as they stopped in front of the lab across the hall. He pulled a key out of his pocket and started to unlock the lab door. "You need to remember that his own world isn't like ours. On his planet, that kind of anti-body was probably necessary to protect his immune system from the diseases there, which were probably a hundred times deadlier than here. So that's probably why he isn't affected by the viruses or diseases here on earth. Our major diseases probably seem like a slight case of the sniffles compared to what his body was used to on his planet."

As they disappeared into the lab and shut the door firmly behind them, Jimmy felt his heart pound furiously. They *were* talking about Superman! There was no doubt about that. But *why* were they talking about him? Why was Dr. Klein being so secretive about the Kryptonite that Jimmy knew was being brought to the hospital? And why would these two doctors be discussing Superman as if he were a patient if he wasn't one?

He let go of the blinds and straightened up, his mind going a mile a minute. **So now that I know that this definitely has to do with Superman, what do I do? It's obvious I'm not going to get any information out of these doctors.**

A minute later, Jimmy heard the lab door across the hall open, and he quickly peered back out of the blinds. He watched as the two doctors left the lab, locking the door behind them. Then they walked back down the hall to the elevators, and were gone a minute later.

Jimmy stood inside the lab for another few moments and listened carefully to see if he could hear any other voices coming from the hall. When he didn't, he slowly opened the door and crossed the hall without a sound. He tried the doorknob once again, but still it was locked. **This calls for some drastic measures,** Jimmy thought decisively.

He pulled a paper clip from his pocket and went to work picking the lock. A second later, he heard a "click", and smiled with satisfaction. *Works every time,* he whispered to himself. Then he slipped the paper clip back into his pocket and quickly opened the door and stepped in.

Once the door was shut and locked behind him, he looked around the large room. There were microscopes and various other pieces of equipment sitting on the sterile white counter that ran the length of the room, and several other large, free-standing machines were plugged in to outlets and beeping away. There was a large patient's table, covered with white paper, in the middle of the room. A large, steel equipment cart with wheels was rolled over next to it, and several white, circular pads were set on it, the wires running to a vital statistics machine nearby.

Several piles of paperwork were scattered about on the long counter next to the microscopes, and Jimmy crossed the room silently, needing to read what was written on those pages. He leafed through them, scanning the hand-written notes of the doctors, looking for any references to Superman. The scribbled notes were mostly numbers. Vital statistics, Jimmy guessed. He moved on to the next pile. As he started to read the first page, he was startled to see Lois' name on the paperwork.

*What would Lois' patient information be doing here?* Jimmy asked, confused. Puzzled, he read on. "Unexplained blood infection poisoning healthy blood cells and collapsing entire immune system. Origin of agent unknown. Baby shows no sign of the illness."

The notes went on to talk about the doctors' suspicions that Clark's DNA and blood type were incompatible with Lois', and that was what had caused the blood infection that was affecting her immune system. Then the doctor's handwritten scrawl continued on, but with lots of medical terms and jargon that Jimmy couldn't understand.

He flipped through the next couple of pages that were filled with numbers, statistics, and big medical terms. On the fifth page, Jimmy's attention was drawn to a large portion of notes that had been circled.

The notes read: "Determination: Once we find a way to draw blood from Clark, we feel it's possible to create an antidote by mixing the healthy anti-bodies from his blood with a desensitizing agent that we could inject into Lois' bloodstream. It should be strong enough to kill off the poisoned blood cells and combat the infection, returning her immune system to a normal state of operation."

After that, there was a big gap where nothing had been written. Then at the bottom of the page, there was one sentence written in bold letters and underlined. It read, "All attempts at drawing blood from Clark as of yet unsuccessful."

Jimmy was thoroughly confused. Why wouldn't they be able to draw blood from Clark? And what was so strange about his blood type that made it affect Lois' in such a dangerous way?

Just then Jimmy heard the sound of a key being slipped into the door, and he desperately looked around the lab for a place to hide. He spotted a large closet at the far end of the room and quickly hurried over to it. With one continuous motion, he pulled opened the door, climbed in, and shut the door behind him just as the lab door opened.

He blended into the lab coats that hung around him, and stood deathly quiet, hoping that he hadn't been detected. The sound of the door shutting, and then two men's voices talking, drifted across the room to him. Neither of the two men, who's voices he heard, seemed to detect anything out of the ordinary as they moved around the lab, talking in solemn voices.

Jimmy opened the closet door a crack so that he could see what was going on. The first person to come into his line of sight was Dr. Klein. He walked over to the counter and thumbed through one of the piles of notes, looking for something. "Here we go," he said, coming across the page filled with vital statistics. "These should help us to know how much your body can take during the Kryptonite treatment."

Jimmy's ears perked up when he heard this. Kryptonite treatment?! He must be talking to Superman! Jimmy opened the closet door just a tiny bit further, straining to see further into the room to see if it really *was* Superman that Dr. Klein was talking to. But try as he might, he couldn't see the other half of the room without running the risk of being detected.

**Hey, wait a minute!** Jimmy realized suddenly. **This must mean that Dr. Klein *is* planning to use the Kryptonite on Superman! But why? Surely they both knew that the Kryptonite could kill him!**

Jimmy's attention was shifted from his own thoughts and back to the conversation when he heard Dr. Klein saying, "The Kryptonite should be here soon, and then we should be able to get started."

Then Jimmy heard Superman's voice next. "How long will it take after you have some blood samples from me before you're able to know if this is going to work?" he asked.

"Maybe an hour or so. We just don't know for sure. None of us have ever had to deal with anything like this before." Dr. Klein paused, and Jimmy could hear him rolling the steel cart away from the table in the middle of the room. Then he continued. "Are you sure you're going to be able to handle the Kryptonite exposure? We've talked before about how long we think you can be safely exposed to it, but you don't have to do this if you think it's going to be too dangerous."

Jimmy continued to listen to them talk as he watched through the crack in the door, waiting for Superman to move into his line of sight so he could verify that that's who it really was. But when the person finally did, Jimmy was floored. It wasn't Superman at all! It was Clark!

"I understand," Clark was saying. "But Kryptonite is the only way I know of to be able to weaken my skin long enough for you to be able to stick a needle in me to draw some blood. And if we don't have a blood sample of my Kryptonian DNA, Lois may never stand a chance at getting better."

Jimmy's jaw dropped in shocked silence. Kryptonian DNA? Kryptonite exposure the only way to weaken his skin? What was Clark talking about? All of a sudden, Jimmy felt the world spinning out of control around him. **Wait a minute!** he thought, his mind a jumbled mess. **Clark Kent is…?**

A second later, Jimmy shook his head, as if to shake the ridiculously insane idea from his mind. **No, that can't be,** he deducted. He'd known Clark for a long time, and he'd seen Superman and Clark together lots of times. How about that time just last week when Superman had… no, wait a minute. Clark had left an instant before Superman had showed up, saying he felt the sudden urge for some frozen yogurt or something like that. And he hadn't returned until after Superman had flown off.

The more that Jimmy thought about it, the more he started to realize that Clark *always* mysteriously disappeared just seconds before Superman showed up. And now that he was trying to remember a single time when he had seen the two men together at the same time, he couldn't. And then it hit him like a brick wall.

Clark Kent was Superman.

Jimmy only half-listened as Clark and Dr. Klein said a few more things before finally leaving the lab. After the news he had just heard, *nothing* else seemed significant! Once again alone, Jimmy slowly stepped out from his hiding place, dazed and bewildered.

**I can't believe this!** Jimmy thought, stunned. **Clark Kent is Superman!** After all the years he'd known Clark, he had never once suspected anything like this! But then, who would've? It seemed ludicrous that such an easy-going, mild-mannered person such as Clark Kent could be the invincible, unstoppable superhero. But obviously, that's exactly what Clark had fooled everybody into believing.

He made his way across the lab to the door, barely remembering to make sure nobody was coming before he slipped out into the hall unnoticed. He stumbled into the elevator and pressed the down button, grateful to have the elevator to himself so he could sort through his jumble of thoughts.

It wasn't until two floors later that he suddenly realized what he had here. This was the story of the century! This would definitely launch his journalism career with a bang! He started imagining what it would feel like, rubbing elbows with the journalism greats at the awards ceremonies. And when it came time to announce the winner of the Pulitzer prize, his name would be read and he'd stand up to accept his award. Everybody would be patting him on the back as he passed, saying that he was on his way to being the best journalist ever.

But just as quickly as his daydream had started, it vanished when he realized something. There was no way he could tell this story without betraying the confidence of his best friend.


When Jimmy got back to the Daily Planet, he stepped off the elevator and wandered aimlessly through the newsroom, struggling with what he should do with his newfound knowledge. As he reached the bottom of the ramp and turned the corner, he collided with someone who was hurrying past, knocking the papers out of the person's hands. Jimmy apologized distractedly and bent over to help him pick up the scattered papers.

Perry silently watched the scene from just outside of his office, noticing the preoccupied expression on Jimmy's face. He knew that Jimmy could get a little distracted at times, but he'd never seen him look *this* distracted before. Something had to be wrong. And feeling like a father to Jimmy, he decided he needed to find out what it was.

As soon as Jimmy had finished helping the man pick up the scattered papers, Perry bellowed out, "Olsen! In my office. Pronto!"

Jimmy looked up at the sound of Perry's voice, startled by the Chief's authoritative command. "Huh? Oh! Sure, Chief. I'll be right there."

When he entered Perry's office, Perry shut the door behind him firmly and gestured to the couch across from his large desk. "Have a seat, Jimmy."

As Jimmy sat, he could feel the palms of his hands start to sweat nervously. He waited for Perry to speak.

"Now, Jimmy. I can't help but notice that you seem a little distracted. Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, everything's okay, Chief," Jimmy answered, though a little uncertainly. "It's just that I have this really big decision to make, and I've been doing a lot of thinking about it."

Perry studied the serious expression on Jimmy's face, wondering what decision could possibly make Jimmy as serious as he was at this very moment. It was actually beginning to worry him. "Want to talk about it, Jimmy?" Perry asked, sitting on the corner of his desk. "Maybe I could help."

"Actually, Perry, I would love to have somebody else's opinion on this. But I don't know if this is something I can tell even you." He took a deep breath to calm himself, then searched his mind for the right way to get Perry's advice without having to pass on Clark's secret. After all, Clark had kept this a secret, so maybe he didn't want anyone to know…even Perry.

"Perry," Jimmy began hesitantly. "You know how I've always wanted to be an investigative journalist? And you've given me lots of smaller stories to help me get my feet wet? Well, the more you've given me, the more I'm sure that it's what I want to do. And I knew that one day I'd get my big break. The story that would really make my journalism career take off." He paused.

Perry watched him silently, waiting for him to continue. He could see that Jimmy was really struggling with whatever it was that he was about to tell him, so he thought it best to let Jimmy take things at his own pace.

Finally, Jimmy continued. "Well, I've finally had that big story fall right into my lap. And now that it's sitting right here, just waiting for me to grab onto it, I don't know if I should write the story or not."

"I see," Perry said, contemplatively. He tried to keep his voice quiet and emotionless. "Why wouldn't you want to break the story? Are you worried about not having all the facts?"

"Oh, I have all the facts, all right," Jimmy assured him. "But this has become somewhat of an ethics question. You see, I know the people involved with this story personally. They're friends of mine, actually. And if I write the story, it could ruin their lives forever. "

Perry pondered Jimmy's dilemma quietly for a minute. Then when he spoke, his voice was soft and thoughtful. "It sounds as if you've stumbled across something big, all right. But the biggest part of our jobs is to expose the truth, especially if the truth deals with something that's against the law."

Jimmy's eyes widened. "Oh, no, Chief. Nobody has broken any laws, or anything. It's just a big piece of information that someone has kept hidden for a long, long time." He cleared his throat. "It has to do with Clark."

Perry's ears perked up. "Clark? What does he have to do with all of this? Is he okay? Is something wrong?"

"No, no… Clark's okay," Jimmy assured him. "It's just that… I found out something about him. Something big that no one else knows. But I'm sure he wouldn't want anyone to find out about it. So even though this story could be the break I've been waiting for all my life, I don't think I should write it. I mean, this is Clark's life we're talking about. He's my friend, and I wouldn't ever want to do anything to jeopardize our friendship."

Perry smiled when Jimmy finally stopped talking. "Jimmy, you're beginning to sound like Lois. Stop babbling and tell me what you're getting at."

"Sorry, Chief," Jimmy apologized. "I found out that Clark is really somebody else. Or somebody else is him. Oh, man, I'm not making any sense, am I?"

"Jimmy!" Perry finally shouted. "Get to the point! Tell me once and for all what's going on!"

"Okay. But promise that what I'm about to tell you will never go any further than this room." Jimmy waited for Perry to nod in agreement. Then he forged on. "All right. Here goes. I did some snooping around a while ago…" Jimmy briefly told Perry about the tip he'd gotten from Steve at Star Labs, and then how he'd sneaked into the lab at the hospital and nosed around. "Anyway, while I was there, I found out that Clark…is really Superman."


Jimmy watched Perry's face carefully for the next few moments. He had no idea how Perry was going to react: raging temper, angry pacing around the room, hurt from being lied to. But Jimmy definitely didn't expect what he saw right now… Perry's calm, unsurprised, unblinking eyes looking back his. After a long, deafening, unnerving silence, Jimmy knew he couldn't keep quiet a minute longer.

"Perry?" he asked in confusion. "Did you just hear what I said?"

Perry nodded gravely. "Yes, Jimmy. I heard what you said."

Jimmy stared at Perry, who continued to sit calmly on the edge of his desk. "Well, aren't you going to say something?"

"I don't know what I *can* say, Jimmy," Perry said. "I guess I knew that somebody would figure it out sooner or later. Besides Lois, I mean."

Jimmy's jaw just about hit the floor. "You mean *you knew*?"

Perry nodded.

Jimmy shifted on the couch, knowing that he'd be surprised at nothing after all this. "Perry, you knew all along and you never said anything? What about Clark? Does he know that you know? How did you figure it out?" Jimmy's questions seemed to run together into one long sentence.

Perry smiled a little. "Jimmy, I'm surprised more people haven't figured it out," he said. "And no, Clark doesn't know that I know."

"But how did you figure it out?"

"You think an old news hound like myself wouldn't be able to put two and two together after all this time? I mean, with all of Clark's sudden disappearing acts, his flimsy excuses for where he's going, and why he and Superman are never in the same place at the same time?"

"Well, yeah," Jimmy said, starting to feel a little stupid for not making the connection sooner. "But I guess I just never thought about all of that. How long have you known, Perry?"

Perry chuckled and shook his head. "I've known for years, but I've never said anything to anyone. I figured that if Clark wasn't telling anybody, then he didn't want anybody to know. So I kept my mouth shut." He stopped, then laughed suddenly as he remembered something.

"You know, Jimmy, I can still remember the day when Lois found out. It was the day after she and Clark had bagged that story about Jason Mazik and Niles St. John. Remember that? Well, anyway, I knew from the moment I saw them together at Clark's desk, working on that Church Group story that something was up. I've never seen those two act more coolly toward each other, yet underneath it all, I could tell they were more in love than they'd ever been. I don't know how Lois figured it out, but it must've not been the way Clark wanted her to, because they both seemed so angry. I'm just surprised that Lois didn't put two and two together a long time ago, with them being partners and best friends and all. Man, for such a great investigative journalist, she sure couldn't see what was right in front of her. But I guess it's true what they say. Love is blind."

Jimmy listened quietly while Perry talked, and then shook his head in amazement when he finally finished. "Man, Perry. I still can't believe you've known all this time. Even before Lois knew." He paused. "But now you can see why I can't write this story, can't you, Chief? If I wrote this about Clark, his and Lois' lives would be ruined. So my question is, where do I go from here? Do I tell Clark that I know? And what about you? Don't you think Clark would want to know that you knew, too?"

Perry sighed and moved from his desk for the first time since their conversation had started. "Oh, Jimmy, I don't know. I was hoping I'd never be faced with this decision. Clark has kept this quiet all these years for a reason. I don't know if he'd be happy to hear that others had discovered his secret, even if it is just us."

"But I'd like to be able to help him, Perry," Jimmy said sincerely. "If only you could've seen how miserable and alone Clark looked earlier at the lab. I think he really needs somebody to be there for him, and I plan to be. But I think it would be easier to help him if he knew that I knew, because then he wouldn't have to worry so much about having to hide anything."

Perry nodded. "Yes, but you also have to understand that telling Clark that we know about him places a big responsibility on his shoulders. It gives him that many more people to worry about. I mean, suppose Clark's enemies found out that we knew about him, and tried to use us to get to him. Just look at all the times Lois has been targeted or kidnapped by someone who wanted to get to Superman."

"Sure, Perry, but don't you remember that all that stuff happened to Lois even *before* she knew that he was Superman? Clark's enemies targeted her, and even us, for that matter, because we were friends with Superman, not because we knew anything about his secret identity."

Perry thought about that for a minute, nodding his head. "You have a good point there, Jimmy. I see what you're getting at."

"I just think we'd be able to help Clark more if he knew that we knew. We could help cover for him, and it would be easier if he didn't have to come up with all those ridiculous excuses about why he had to run off at the drop of a hat. I understand why you think it could be a burden to him, knowing that we know, but I think it would be a big load off of his shoulders to not have to hide this from us anymore. And he'd know we'd never tell anybody anything. Besides, I think Clark deserves to know. If we kept on pretending that we didn't know anything, would that be fair to Clark? He'd be forced to go on lying to us for no reason "

The office was quiet for several minutes as they contemplated their options. Finally Perry nodded solemnly and sighed. "I think you're right, Jimmy. Clark deserves to know."


Jimmy arrived at the hospital a short time later, and went directly to the fifth floor where he hoped Clark would be. Sure enough, when Jimmy quietly opened the door to Lois' room, he saw Clark sitting bedside her bed holding her hand and talking to her softly.


Clark looked up immediately and smiled a little when he saw Jimmy standing in the doorway. "Hi, Jimmy. Come on in."

Jimmy came into the room and sat in the empty chair next to Clark. "How's she doing?"

Clark sighed. "Okay. The doctors have come up with something that should make her better very soon."

"Really?" Jimmy asked, trying to sound surprised. "What did they find out?"

"I'm, umm, not really sure," Clark stammered, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. "They are working on some kind of injection that will help her immune system fight off this infection." He cleared his throat. "It's, uh, all very technical…I'm not sure I understand it all, myself."

Jimmy could tell that Clark was trying his best not to give away too much, and it made Jimmy feel bad to see his friend squirm. **I've just got to tell him,** Jimmy decided at that moment. **It's not fair to him for me to pretend that I don't know what's going on.**

"Clark, there's something I need to tell you," Jimmy began tentatively, rubbing his damp palms on his jeans. "I came to the hospital earlier today on a tip I got from Steve down at Star Labs. He said that Dr. Klein had ordered the release of the Kryptonite and needed it brought here. So I came to investigate, worried that something was wrong with Superman. Dr. Klein denied everything, so I got into the lab and snooped around a bit, and when I did, I found out that…" Jimmy paused, having a tough time saying the next words. "Well…I found out that… you're Superman."

Clark's face turned white, and he just stared back at Jimmy in stunned silence. The room was deathly quiet for several minutes until Clark was finally able to find his voice. "I don't know what to say, Jimmy, other than I'm sorry that I lied to you."

"Oh, no, Clark, you don't have to apologize," Jimmy rushed on. "I understand completely why you did. But I need to tell you that Perry knows, too. Apparently he's known for quite some time."

Clark's jaw dropped. "You're kidding! How did he know?"

Jimmy smiled. "He said something like, 'You think an old news hound like myself couldn't put two and two together after all this time?' He said that after a while of you zipping off in the middle of conversations, and giving bad excuses about where you'd gone to, he started noticing little things like you and Superman never being in the same place at the same time." He shrugged. "I guess it just takes longer for me to figure out things than it does for Perry."

Clark shook his head in disbelief. "I can't believe he knew and never said anything."

"Apparently he knew before even Lois did. You've got to give that man some credit. He's the best." Jimmy smiled.

Clark smiled, too. Then he became more serious. "So you're not mad?"

"No, I'm not mad," he assured Clark. "Perry and I didn't think it would be fair to you if we went on pretending that we didn't know. Besides, I want to be here for you. I want to be able to help in any way I can."

"Thanks, Jimmy," Clark said, feeling very grateful to have such good friends. "You'll never know how much that means to me."

"So what happens now with Lois?" Jimmy asked.

Knowing that he didn't have to hide anything from Jimmy anymore, Clark poured out the whole story, and told him what they were planning on doing with the Kryptonite. "It's taken a while to get here, though, because Dr. Klein wanted to take every precaution to make sure that nothing happened to it on its way here. I guess it should be here anytime, though, and then we can get started."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Jimmy asked sincerely. "Do you need someone to be there with you during the Kryptonite exposure?"

Clark shook his head. "No, there are going to be a lot of doctors around during it, so I'll be fine. But I'd really appreciate it if you could be here with Lois while I'm gone. I sent my parents home for a while, and they may not be back in time to sit with her when the Kryptonite arrives."

"You got it."


The Kryptonite arrived in a lead-lined case a short time later, accompanied by two armed guards. Clark was sitting in the lab with Drs. Henderson, Simons, and Peterson when Dr. Klein came in looking a bit frazzled.

"I *hate* transporting this stuff," he said, placing the lead-lined box containing the Kryptonite on the counter. "Every known criminal in Metropolis could've been following me here, just waiting to take me out and make off with the Kryptonite." When he looked up from the box now sitting on the counter, he saw the worried expression on Clark's face. "Oh, don't worry, Clark. Nobody followed us. We kept a close watch and nothing happened."

Clark breathed a sigh of relief as the doctors once again went about their work getting things ready to start. In the next few minutes, Dr. Klein briefed everyone, telling them what they could expect as soon as Clark was exposed to the Kryptonite, and about how much time they would have to take the blood samples before they needed to stop Clark's exposure.

"Let's make this a positive effort, people," he said when he finished. "We only want to do this once, for Clark's own health, so let's get it right the first time."

"Dr. Klein is going to be monitoring your vital signs, comparing them with the read-outs we got on you earlier as you're exposed to the Kryptonite," Dr. Simons explained to Clark as he had him take his shirt off and lie down on the table. "If he sees that you're in any danger, we'll stop your exposure to the Kryptonite immediately, no questions asked."

But Clark shook his head. "Don't stop it unless absolutely necessary. Remember, it'll take about ten minutes before my skin will be vulnerable. And I can handle a whole lot more than your charts say that I can. Besides, my wife's life is depending on this."

Dr. Simon nodded. "I understand. Are you ready?"

Clark nodded. He tried to relax as he stared up into the bright lights on the ceiling. He could hear Dr. Klein roll the cart over beside him that held the lead-lined Kryptonite box. A minute later he heard him start to lift the lid.

Almost immediately, Clark felt a wave of pain sweep through him and he gritted his teeth against the searing pain. He also felt Dr. Simons' hand squeeze his arm tightly, trying to reassure him in any way that he could.

The pain continued to move through Clark's body in waves, and Clark gasped out in pain and agony. After about two minutes of this, Dr. Klein, who was carefully monitoring his vital signs, called out. "Dr. Simons, his EKG is already way off the charts! There's no way he's going to be able to handle ten minutes of this!"

Clark heard Dr. Simons and Dr. Klein consulting quickly over his vital signs. But then Clark felt another strong wave of pain, and he yelled out in pain. Dr. Simons panicked. "We've got to stop this right now!" he shouted urgently. "We're killing him! We'll just have to find another way to do this."

He moved toward the Kryptonite box so he could shut the lid, but Clark grabbed his arm with what little strength he had left. Through clenched teeth, Clark managed to say, "No, please! Lois is counting on me. She needs this to work if she's going to live."

But Dr. Simons shook his head. "We'll just have to find another way to do this. I don't think your body's going to be able to stand this much longer."

Clark held onto his arm tightly. "Please, Dr. Simons. I can handle it. Besides, Lois needs this to work. Please…" he begged with as much force as he could muster.

It was quiet for a minute as Dr. Simons' mind whirled about frantically. "Dr. Simons!" Dr. Klein shouted. "His EKG! What do you want me to do?"

Dr. Simons was silent for another moment as he stared into Clark's troubled eyes, seeing the fierce love that this man had for his wife, and the determination he saw there that would get him through this.

"Please," Clark repeated again. "I can make it. *I have to make it.*"

It was in that instant that Dr. Simons made his decision. "Let's keep going," he said in barely more than a whisper. The other doctors were quiet, knowing that Dr. Simons had just made an incredibly tough decision. They all went back to work without questioning him.

Clark released his grip on the doctor's arm and whispered, "Thank you" to him before closing his eyes again to the pain.

When the agonizing ten minutes were almost up, Dr. Peterson tested Clark's skin by pinching it lightly and attempting to press the tip of a needle through it. He was thrilled when he saw that the needle pieced Clark's skin.

"It worked!" he called out excitedly. "Let's hurry and get to work!" There was lots of commotion as everybody rushed around doing what they needed to do.

Clark was barely aware of what was going on, the Kyrptonite having sent him into a drugged state. He could see the blur of the people around him, and hear the distant sound of everyone's voices, but he was unable to do anything but lie still and watch from beneath drooping eyelids.

After what seemed like an eternity, Dr. Simons stepped back with a handful of blood-filled viles. "Time!" he called out.

Clark heard the lid slam shut on the Kryptonite box and said a silent prayer, thankful that it was over. Then he saw Dr. Simons leaning over him, watching him carefully with concern in his eyes. "Clark, can you hear me? How are you feeling?"

It was all Clark could do to respond to the simple question. Finally he was able to whisper, "Weak."

"You're going to be fine. Your vital signs are returning to normal. Do you have any idea how long it will take for you to return to your normal strength?"

Clark could feel some of his strength already returning, and this time speaking wasn't quite as difficult. "I don't really know. Not too long, I guess. I'm already starting to feel a little stronger."

"Good," Dr. Simons said, obviously relieved. "I'd like for you to stay in here and rest while we get to work on this antidote. Okay?"

Clark nodded. "Okay."

Dr. Simons left the room, and Clark was alone. He continued to lay on the bed for a few more minutes, letting his strength return gradually. After about ten minutes he decided he felt strong enough to sit up. He sat up slowly, almost experimentally, and dangled his feet over the edge of the bed. Then the door to the lab opened, and Dr. Simons poked his head back in the room.

"There's someone out here who says he's a friend of yours. He says his name is Jimmy Olsen. Should I let him in?"

Clark nodded slowly. "Sure. Send him in." The door was pushed open the rest of the way, and Jimmy came in looking frazzled and concerned.

"Hey, C.K.! Are you all right?" Jimmy asked with concern as he came in to stand beside Clark.

"Yeah, I'm okay, Jimmy," Clark said weakly.

"Oh, man. I've spent the last fifteen minutes trying to convince those doctors that I really am a friend of yours and to let me in to see you. They're sure not letting anyone through. That should make you feel better." He paused long enough to take a deep breath. "Hey, your folks just got here a few minutes ago, and we were all concerned about you. How did it go? Are you feeling okay?

Clark concentrated on his feet as he put them gingerly on the floor, then stood up slowly, reaching out for Jimmy's shoulder to steady himself. "Actually, I've felt better," Clark said, able to muster a slight grin. "But I'll be okay in a few minutes."

It was quiet for a minute as Clark concentrated on regaining his bearings. Then Jimmy smiled broadly and gestured to Clark's bare, muscular chest. "Hey, check you out!" Jimmy said lightly. "You are so beefed. And all this time I thought you just worked out a lot at the gym. But I guess you don't have to, huh?"

Clark laughed softly and shook his head. "No, I don't have to." There was a brief pause, and then Clark said, "I think I need to sit down for a minute. I still feel pretty weak. Let's go over to the couch."

"Here. Let me help," Jimmy offered immediately. Clark put his arm around Jimmy's shoulder gratefully and leaned on him as they made their way across the room to the black leather couch against the wall. Jimmy had his arm around Clark's middle as he helped support his weight.

When they reached the couch, Clark dropped thankfully onto it. He leaned his head back against the backrest and clasped his hands together, lifting them to his eyes so that the back of his hand was resting over his eyes in a tired gesture.

"So, was it rough?" Jimmy asked softly.

Clark nodded slightly, too tired to do anything else. "Yeah, it was pretty rough."

"Do the doctors think this blood typing thing will work?"

Clark dropped his hands into his lap and lifted his head from the back of the couch so that he could look over at Jimmy. "They're pretty confident that it will."

Jimmy sighed with obvious relief. "That's good news. Everybody at the Planet has been really worried about Lois since they heard what happened. They all send their love." Jimmy paused. "Do you think Lois will ever know what you went through for her? I mean, with this Kryptonite thing, and how there are now several more people who know that you're Superman?"

Clark shrugged tiredly. "I don't know, Jimmy. But you know what? I'd do it for her all over again if I had to. Lois means everything to me. I'd move heaven and earth for her if she wanted me to."

Jimmy smiled. "Yeah, I know." He was quiet for a minute. Then a teasing smiled brightened his face and he elbowed Clark lightly. "And I bet you literally could, huh?"

Clark turned slightly so that he looked over at Jimmy out of the corner of his eye, then he laughed softly. In a soft, humble voice, he joked back, "Yeah, I guess I could."

It was quiet again for a few minutes. When Clark started to speak, his voice was soft. "You know what scares me the most about this whole thing, Jimmy? The fact that all of a sudden there are six more people in this world who know who I really am. I know none of you would ever purposely let this get out. But what if it *did* get out? There are a lot of criminals out there who would just *love* to know this about me. And if they ever found out, all the people I love and care about would be at risk—Lois, Jordan, my parents, even you or Perry."

"Yeah, I know," Jimmy said. "But, if it makes you feel any better, I want you to know that you're secret is safe with me."

"Thanks, Jimmy."

"You know what C.K.?" Jimmy asked. "I've always considered you to be my best friend. You've always been there for me whenever I've needed something, and I plan on returning the favor. Anytime you need anything…just ask. Okay?"

Clark smiled at Jimmy, touched by his words. "Thanks, Jimmy. That means a lot."

Then Jimmy's teasing smile was back and he laughed lightly. "Now, about this Superman thing. I know that girls really dig it, so if I meet this really cute chick, is it alright with you if I drop your name and tell her that I know you?"

Clark laughed. "Sure, Jimmy, sure. I knew that there had to be a good reason for telling all these people who I really am. And that's definitely why I did it…to help you get women."

They were still laughing as the door to the room opened and Dr. Simons came in. "How are you feeling?" he asked Clark.


"Good. Because I came in here to give you some good news."

Instantly Clark was alert. "What is it?"

"Our blood typing and mixing idea worked. We've been testing it over and over again in the lab for the past half hour, and it's going to work beautifully."

Clark was so relieved that he rested his head back on the couch and closed his eyes, sighing with relief. "Thank you," he whispered in the direction of the heavens. Then he looked back at Dr. Simons. "So when do we start?"

"Well, Dr. Peterson is getting the antidote ready as we speak. In a few minutes we should be ready to inject it into Lois."

Clark stood up slowly and walked over to Dr. Simons to shake his hand, but ended up hugging him instead. "Thank you so much. For everything."

Dr. Simons seemed surprised by Clark's openness and laughed lightly as he hugged him back. "You're welcome." When they parted, Dr. Simons grinned and said, "Consider it repayment for saving my son's life in Brazil."

Clark smiled. "I'd say that's a fair exchange."

"If you're feeling up to it, why don't we go back to Lois' room to wait for Dr. Peterson? He should be there in a few minutes with the antidote."

"I'd like that," Clark told him. Then he remembered Jimmy, and quickly introduced him-as one of his best friends-to Dr. Simons.

After shaking hands pleasantly, Dr. Simons gestured toward the door. "Let's get going."

Clark reached for his shirt and began buttoning it up as they headed for the door. Halfway across the room, Clark stumbled and had to grab the edge of a counter to stop himself from falling.

Dr. Simons quickly reached out to steady him, looking concerned. "Are you sure you're alright?"

Clark nodded. "I'm just a little weak still, that's all."

"Clark, you can lean on me if you need to," Jimmy offered. "That's what I'm here for."

Clark nodded and leaned on Jimmy heavily as they left the lab and made their way to the elevator. He cringed inwardly, however, when he saw Drs. Klein and Henderson watching him as he walked past.

He was very aware of the fact that he still had on the same long-sleeved flannel shirt that he had worn the day before, and that it was buttoned lopsided, with the front of it untucked from his jeans. He also knew how haggard he must look after his Kryptonite exposure, leaning dependently on Jimmy to keep from falling down as they walked. It all made him feel very self-conscious because he knew he didn't look the least bit like the invincible super-hero that everybody knew.

When they finally reached Lois' room, Clark was beginning to feel stronger. He walked into the room pretty much on his own power, and was startled to see his parents sitting there. He had forgotten that Jimmy said they'd returned. "Mom, Dad…" he said with a weak smile.

They hurried over to him gave him a hug. "Oh, Clark!" Martha said, her voice filled with concern. "Are you okay? You look so pale."

"I'm okay, Mom," Clark said, hugging his parents back. "It's just going to take me a little while to get back to normal." Then Clark remembered that Dr. Simons was standing beside him. "Oh, Mom, Dad…this is Dr. Simons."

Martha and Jonathan both shook his hand happily. "We can't thank you enough for what you've done for Lois…and for Clark."

He smiled warmly. "It was my pleasure."

Dr. Peterson came in a minute later, pushing a cart with a tray of needles and other medications on it. "We're ready to go," he told them. He rolled the cart up next to Lois' bed and took Lois' old IV bag from the stand and exchanged it with the one on the cart. Then he prepared the three shots he was going to give her.

"It's going to take a bigger dosage than we initially thought," Dr. Simons explained as Dr. Peterson proceeded to give Lois the first shot. Everyone waited anxiously as the second and third shots were given.

Finally Dr. Peterson nodded and stepped back. "That should do it."

"How long until we know if it's working?" Clark asked.

"We'll give it about an hour, and then we'll take another blood sample from Lois to compare to her earlier ones. That should tell us how well and how quickly the antidote is working."

"Okay," Clark nodded, leaning back against the wall. He glanced at his watch and noticed that it was after midnight. With a sigh, he took his glasses off with one hand and rubbed tiredly at his eyes with the other.

Dr. Simons could tell how tired Clark was. "How long has it been since you've slept, Clark?"

Clark sighed. "A long time."

"Why don't we see if we can bring a cot in here for you? That way you could get some sleep, but still be with Lois."

Clark smiled gratefully. "That would be great. Thanks."

The doctors left to rustle up a cot, and Clark turned to Jimmy. "How about you? You look pretty tired, too."

"I guess I am pretty tired. It's been a very long day." He smiled knowingly at Clark. "But I'll be fine if you want me to stay."

Clark shook his head. "No, I'll be okay." He turned to his parents. "Why don't you guys go and get some sleep, too? I'll call you as soon as we know anything."

Dr. Simons was back a minute later carrying a large folding cot, a pillow, and a blanket. Jimmy hurried over and helped him set it up against the wall. When it was all set up, Dr. Simons turned to Clark. "Now get some sleep!" he instructed firmly. "Doctor's orders."

Clark laughed. "You don't have to tell me twice. But could you wake me up when you get the answers to Lois' blood test?"

"No problem."

"And make sure you call us as soon as you hear, Clark," Jonathan told Clark, clamping a fatherly hand onto his shoulder.

He nodded. "I will. I promise."

It was very quiet in the room after everybody had gone, and Clark walked over to Lois and very gently picked up her hand, squeezing it softly. "It won't be long, now, Lois, and you'll be better. Then we can take our precious little baby and go home. Just the three of us." He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly.

Then Clark laid her hand gently back on the bed and walked over to the cot. The second he laid down on it, he was asleep.

Clark woke up when he felt someone gently shaking him. He struggled to open his heavy eyelids, and when he did, he found himself looking into Dr. Simons' very excited face. "What is it?" Clark asked eagerly, suddenly wide awake.

Dr. Simons nodded happily. "We just got the results back on Lois' blood test, and I'm pleased to report that the antidote is working just as we planned. She's going to be fine."

All the stress, tension and worry that Clark had felt since this had all begun seemed to just drain away, and Clark found himself starting to cry happy tears. He stood up and hugged Dr. Simons happily, unable to hold back his pent up tears and emotions.

Dr. Simons chuckled and hugged Clark back. He groaned, though, and joked, "Well, I can tell that your strength is definitely returning."

Clark laughed, feeling happier than he had in a long time. "Sorry about that," he said with a wry grin.

"That's quite all right. I didn't want to wake you earlier when we came in to take the blood sample because you looked like you really needed the sleep. But I knew you'd want me to wake you now to let you know that everything is going to be just fine. At the rate her blood cells are reacting to the antidote, I suspect that Lois should be strong enough to regain consciousness in a few hours."

"Dr. Simons, thank you for everything," Clark told him for what felt like the hundredth time. "I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate what you've done for me and my family."

Dr. Simons smiled gently. "I'm just glad I could help."

"If you ever need anything…anything at all. You know, like having a meteor stopped from crashing into Brazil…" Dr. Simons laughed at Clark's words. Clark continued, more seriously this time. "You just let me know. Okay?"

Dr. Simons nodded, still smiling broadly. "Okay."

What an unbelievable couple of days this has been, Clark thought silently as he left Lois' room to call his parents. First, his beautiful new son had been born, and now Lois was going to be okay.

After Clark dialed the number, he looked up at the clock on the wall and saw that it read two a.m. He cringed a little, knowing that his parents were probably sound asleep. They were, but they answered the phone on the second ring. When he told them the news, they were ecstatic. "We'll be right there," Jonathan said.

"No, wait!" Clark protested. "Dr. Simons said it will probably still be a few hours until Lois will come out of this, so just go back to sleep and don't worry about coming over until morning. I just wanted to call and let you know that Lois is going to be okay."

After Clark hung up, he was halfway back to Lois' room when he realized something. It had been hours since he'd seen Jordan! **Well, that's all going to change,** he thought silently. **Lois should be well enough to go home in a couple of days, and then we can spend some quiet time together as a family.**

Clark went back into Lois' room and laid down heavily on the cot again with a happy sigh. It would be wonderful to have things back to normal.

The next morning, Clark woke up and looked around disconcertedly. Suddenly everything came back to him in a rush. He sat up quickly, and looked over at Lois. He was startled to see that they weren't alone.

Dr. Simons was standing next to Lois' bed, taking her blood pressure. He smiled at Clark when he saw him sitting up. "Good morning!" he said jovially. "Feeling human again?"

Clark smiled. "Well, almost."

Dr. Simons laughed, then stepped away from Lois' bed. "She's improving steadily," he announced. "I'm happy to say that she's going to make a full recovery."

Clark smiled broadly. "You don't know how wonderful that sounds." He stood up and raked his fingers through his dark hair as he walked over to Lois' bed. He was thrilled to see that her color was returning, and that she'd been unhooked from most of the machines.

Suddenly a extremely sobering thought came to Clark's mind. "Hey, Dr. Simons? Will this problem with the incompatibility of Lois' and my blood type keep us from having more children? Is this same thing going to happen the next time we try to have a baby?"

Dr. Simons smiled understandingly. "I can see why you'd be concerned about that, but I can assure you that having more children will not be a problem. Now that we know about this, we can develop some kind of injections to give Lois while she's pregnant that will keep her from being infected like she was this time. So you have nothing to worry about."

Clark's smile returned and he breathed a sigh of relief. "Wonderful."

Dr. Simons studied Clark's rumpled appearance. "It'll probably still be a while before Lois regains consciousness, so if you'd like to clean up a bit or take a shower, you're welcome to use the doctor's locker room. I can show you where it is."

Clark readily agreed. A short time later, he was in the quiet of the locker room, climbing into the shower. The hot water streaming from the showerhead felt incredible, and Clark stood under its spray for several minutes, letting it soothe his tense muscles. Clark finally climbed out of the shower, dried himself off and got dressed, wishing that he had a fresh set of clothes to change into.

When he got back to Lois's room, he saw that his parents were already there. They greeted him excitedly, obviously as happy as he was that Lois was going to be okay. Martha brought out a bag of bagels and fruit that they had picked up from the grocery store on their way to the hospital, and it wasn't until then that Clark realized how hungry he was and how long it had been since he'd eaten.

Clark enjoyed the next little while, sitting in Lois' room talking with his parents and able to relax, knowing that Lois was going to be okay. They got special permission to have Jordan brought up to Lois' room, and they all took turns holding him and playfully arguing over who got to hold him next.

As Clark laughed at the faces his father was making at Jordan, he suddenly noticed a slight movement out of the corner of his eye. He looked over at Lois, and his heart leapt when he saw her hand move.

In a flash Clark was at her side. He took her hand and held it gently, watching her face anxiously. A few moments later, her eyes opened slowly. "Clark," she said when she saw him watching her, her voice barely more than a whisper.

Clark couldn't stop the broad smile from lighting up his face. "Hi," he answered quietly. "How are you feeling?"

"Kind of light headed," she admitted softly.

Clark smiled and lifted his hand to touch her cheek tenderly. "You may feel that way for a little while. But everything's going to be okay."

Martha and Jonathan were immediately at her side, too. Martha patted her leg through the layer of blankets. "You gave us all quite a scare," she told Lois. "For a while there, we didn't think you were going to make it."

"What's happened?"

Clark looked at his parents, not quite sure how to explain everything that had happened in the last twenty four hours. Finally Clark told her, "You had a form of blood poisoning that the doctors didn't know how to treat until last night. They were finally able to develop a antidote to treat it. What happened is a little complicated to explain. But the important part is, you're going to be better, and that's all that matters. When you're feeling stronger, I'll explain it all to you."


Lois, aside from being tired, felt pretty much back to her normal self by that afternoon. "Are you sure you feel up to holding him?" Clark asked as he picked Jordan up out of his baby cart.

"Yeah, I'm okay," Lois answered. "Just let me sit up a little bit." She pushed the button on her bed rail and waited as the mechanism raised the back of her bed so she was soon sitting up.

Clark carried Jordan over to Lois, putting the tiny infant into her arms. She smiled down at him as he wiggled until he found a comfortable position in the crook of her arm before snuggling back down and instantly falling back to sleep.

"Man," Clark laughed. "He sure sleeps a lot. I somehow thought having a baby would be a little more exciting than this."

Lois scowled playfully at him. "Just because he's not flying around the room yet doesn't mean he's not exciting," she joked. "What did you expect him to do?"

Clark shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I've just always looked forward to having kids because you could rough house with them and take them camping and fishing and stuff like that."

Martha, who was leaning over Lois, ogling the baby, laughed. "Of course you'll be able to do all those things with him, Clark. But he needs to grow up a little first."

"In the mean time," Jonathan put in. "You'll just have to get used to changing diapers and waking up at 2 and 3 in the morning to feed him and take care of him."

They were interrupted a moment later by one of the nurses as she came into the room and smiled at them all. "How's everybody enjoying that new little baby?"

"Oh, he's just wonderful," Lois sighed as she looked down at him sleeping peacefully in her arms.

The nurse smiled. "I'm glad to hear that. But I came to tell you, Lois, that it's time for you to get some sleep. Doctor's orders."

Lois started to object, but Martha stood up and patted her arm. "Now Lois, she's right. You've been through a lot, and you need your rest. Besides, it's almost dinnertime. Jonathan and I will just go out for something to eat, and we'll check back on you later."

"Okay," Lois finally agreed. They started gathering up their things, and the nurse came over to Lois and started to take Jordan from her. "Can't I just hold him for a few more minutes?" Lois pleaded. "I feel like I've missed out on the first couple days of his life."

The nurse hesitated. "Well, okay. Fifteen more minutes. But don't tell Dr. Peterson that I said so. He'd have my head." She smiled and winked, then followed Clark's parents out of the room.

"Oh, man, do I feel sore," Lois complained as she shifted uncomfortably in her bed.

"I can't imagine why," Clark said sarcastically as he sat in the chair next to her that had been vacated by his dad. He took Lois' hand and laced his fingers through hers. "Are you sure you're doing okay?"

A troubled look crossed Lois' face. "Clark, what happened to me exactly?" she asked seriously. "You said I had a rare case of blood poisoning. How did I get it?"

Clark raised his eyebrows as if to say, 'oh, great. Here we go', but he managed to keep his tone normal when he answered her. "Well, it's kind of a long story, and I don't know if you're up to hearing about it all."

"Clark, I need to know. Please tell me."

Clark looked at her uncertainly, but saw that her eyes were earnest and pleading. He sighed. "Okay, Lois, okay. But this isn't going to be easy for me, so please just bear with me."

For the next few minutes, Clark told Lois about everything that had happened, including how he had to tell the doctors about who he was, how Jimmy and Perry found out about him, and then about his Kryptonite exposure.

When he finished, Lois had tears in her eyes. "I can't believe you went through all that for me," she said tearfully.

"Like I told Jimmy…I'd do it all again if I had to," he told her, kissing her softly.

"And what about Jimmy and Perry?" Lois asked solemnly. "How do you feel about them knowing?"

"Okay, I guess," Clark answered thoughtfully. "At first I was shocked when Jimmy told me that he and Perry knew. But now that I've had some time to think about it, I kind of like the idea of having Perry and Jimmy on my side. It'll definitely be a relief not to have to lie to them anymore."

Lois smiled. "No more lame excuses about where you're going, huh?"

Clark laughed. "No more lame excuses."


The next morning, Lois was moved out of the ICU and back into the maternity ward when she passed all of Dr. Simons' tests with flying colors and was given a clean bill of health.

"It's unbelievable how quickly you've recovered from all of this," he said when he stopped in to check on her after breakfast. "You'd never know by looking at you that only the day before yesterday you were seriously ill."

"It's because she's too stubborn to stay sick," a voice said from the doorway.

Lois looked up in time to see Jimmy coming into the room, smiling broadly and carrying a beautiful arrangement of flowers. Dr. Simons excused himself and left the room.

"Oh, Jimmy, these are beautiful!" Lois exclaimed in delight when Jimmy handed her the large bouquet.

"They're from everybody at the Planet," he explained. "They all send their wishes for a speedy recovery."

"That's so sweet!" She held the flowers to her nose, closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, enjoying the rich, floral scent. She looked back up at Jimmy a moment later. "Have a seat," she said, gesturing to the chair beside her bed.

Jimmy sat down nervously, and cleared his throat. "Lois, did Clark, um…"

Lois smiled softly at him. "Yeah, Jimmy. Clark told me that you and Perry know about him."

"And you're not mad?"

Lois laughed and shook her head. "No, I'm not mad. Actually, it'll be nice to have somebody to talk to about it. It's hard having to pretend all the time that I don't know anything about this. And if it's hard for me, I can't imagine how it must be for Clark!"

Jimmy gave a relieved laugh. "Me, neither. It must be hard for him to keep quiet about everything. If I was him, I'd be shouting the news from the tallest building in Metropolis."

Lois laughed, but then a thoughtful look crossed her face. "Hey, Jimmy, Clark told me that you'd snooped around the lab, and that's how you figured out about him. But how exactly did you figure it out?"

Jimmy told her about hiding in the lab closet and overhearing Clark's and Dr. Klein's conversation. When he finished telling her, Jimmy shifted in his chair. "But you know what, Lois? I don't think I'll ever get used to the fact that CK is you-know-who. I'm having a tough time connecting the two of them in my mind. Just when I think I can, I think of something that Clark did as 'his other self', like stopping that meteor from crashing into Brazil last week, for example. I find myself saying, 'No way! That couldn't have been Clark who did that!'"

"I know what you mean," Lois said, nodding. "You should've seen me when I finally realized that the two men in my life were actually the same person."

Jimmy's jaw dropped open. "You mean CK didn't just come out and tell you? You had to find out like I did?"

"Well, I wasn't hiding in a closet spying, if that's what you mean," Lois said with a smile. "But yes, I figured it out on my own. It happened the night after Clark and I finished that story on Mazik and Niles St. John." She smiled as she recalled the events leading up to it Clark's proposal by the fountain in the rain. By the time she had finished telling Jimmy the story, they were both laughing at how ridiculous it now seemed.

"But you know what, Jimmy? I've known about Clark for quite a while now, and every once in a while, I'll remember something that Clark did as you-know-who, and it still throws me! I'll say to myself, 'Wow! Was that really Clark that did that?'"

Jimmy laughed. "I know *exactly* what you mean! I've been doing that since I found out yesterday!"

"Oh, you know what else?" Lois giggled. "How about those times when people talk about Superman doing something, and I have to feign ignorance to the whole thing. Like that time Tim and Amber Lake were after Clark and me, and Perry gave us those ridiculous bullet proof vests to wear? I told him that Superman wasn't going to let anything happen to us…which of course, he wasn't…" Lois winked at Jimmy. "And Perry said, 'You don't see Superman here *now*, do you?' Well, it was all I could do to keep from cracking up!"

They were both laughing hysterically when Clark walked into the room a few minutes later. "What are you guys laughing at?" he asked with a smile as he walked over to Lois and planted a loving kiss on her forehead.

"We were just talking about the time when you those Newtrich sisters shot you with that red beam, and it transferred your super powers to me." Lois told him, still giggling.

"And you know what really freaks me out about that?" Jimmy asked, starting to laugh again. "That huge crush I developed on UltraWoman. I was drooling all over the place, and the whole time it was you in that costume!"

Lois blushed a little at that, but she laughed along with Clark and Jimmy. The three of them spent the rest of the morning reminiscing and laughing about different things. When Jimmy finally announced that he had to get back to the Planet, Lois felt a new bond of friendship developing between her and Jimmy. It was going to be nice to have a friend to share Clark's secret with.


A week later:

Lois bent slowly over the crib, being careful not to wake up Jordan, and tucked the covers up around him gently. She smiled at the pile of blue blankets that Clark had insisted on buying him. When she was confident that he was warm enough, she stepped back and smiled at the sight of her new baby boy sleeping peacefully in his own crib.

An arm slipped around her shoulders, and she looked up to see Clark smiling at the sight, too. "He's just too good to be true, isn't he?"

Lois nodded. "He really is."

Clark started to guide Lois out of the room. "Let's let him sleep." When they got out into the living room, they were just in time to see Jimmy walk in with Lois' suitcase. "I think this is everything," he said as he set it down by the couch.

"It's sure great to be home!" Lois told them happily. "I'm glad they finally decided to spring me from the hospital. Boy, one week in there is more than enough for me!"

Clark laughed and shook his head. "You'd better be glad that that was all it was! It could've easily been more if I hadn't stooped to begging and pleading with Dr. Peterson to release you in my care. So you'd better do what he says and stay off your feet as much as possible for the next few days, or you could be back *in* that hospital!"

"Okay, okay," Lois told him with a smile. "I promise I'll be good."

Jimmy laughed at their good-natured bickering. Just then that all-too-familiar, faraway look came into Clark's eyes. Lois noticed immediately.

"What is it?" she asked.

"A fire. There's some people trapped." He listened for a minute, then looked back at Lois questioningly.

"Go," she told him. "We'll be fine. I'm sure Jimmy will keep reminding me to take things easy until you get back, right Jimmy?"

Jimmy smiled. "Sure, no problem. I'd love to boss *you* around for a change."

Lois slugged him playfully in the arm, and he pretended like it hurt.

Clark looked at them undecidedly for another moment, but Jimmy spoke up. "Don't worry about them, CK. I'll stay and keep an eye on them until you get back."

"Are you sure?"

Jimmy nodded. "Yeah, I'm sure. Now go."

Clark smiled at him gratefully. "Thanks, Jimmy. I owe you one."

"Just remember that the next time I'm trying to pick up a girl and need a special appearance by Superman to make an impression on her!" Jimmy smiled slyly. Clark and Lois both laughed.

"You got it." Clark clapped Jimmy on the shoulder, then stepped back and spun into Superman. He stood before them in the familiar red and blue suit for a moment, then smiled at them and whooshed off, leaving Lois and Jimmy staring after him.

"Wow," Jimmy said, his mouth still open in amazement. "That's amazing! How do you ever get used to that?"

Lois continued to stare after Clark and she sighed dreamily. "The truth is, Jimmy… I don't. Every time I see him do that, it just takes my breath away."

They smiled at each other, then Lois went into the next room again to peek in on Jordan. Satisfied that everything was okay, she left the room and shut the door behind her softly, leaving her new baby sleeping peacefully.