By Nancy Merckle <email@example.com>
Original Air Date: November 23, 1997
Summary: Cat Grant is back in town. Unfortunately, so is a cat burglar who steals … cats? Episode 8 of S5.
A shadowy figure stalked the alleys of Suicide Slum. Out of the darkness a plaintive meow was heard before being muffled by the burlap of an old grain sack. The figure placed the sack into the trunk of a car and disappeared out of the slum.
The arrival of her flight at Metropolis International Airport was a homecoming to Catherine Grant. It had been well over three years since she was last in Metropolis and in that time, she had been married and divorced. Now she was back to put the final touches on a book, hoping to reinstate her position in the writing profession without stepping on too many toes. She knew that some of the subjects of her book would not be too pleased to see her story come to light, but hoped at least a few would actually enjoy seeing her side of their encounter.
Catherine, or Cat as she was more commonly known, organized her carry-on items in preparation for the plane's final approach to Metropolis Airport. Once at the gate she gathered her items quickly and was on her way. She disembarked and showed her passport to the immigration official. The next stop was the luggage carousel to pick up four checked bags containing her extensive wardrobe and a few of the latest fashions from her home for the past three months, Paris. She was extremely glad that she had worn sensible low pumps. Her figure flattering maroon slacks and very light maroon silk blouse with patterned scarf, allowed her to remain comfortable even while waiting in what seemed to be an unusually time-consuming customs line. And if she tilted her head just right, the floppy brim of her matching hat shielded her eyes from the bright fluorescent lighting of the airport. Glancing at her watch, she noted it was much later than she had anticipated and she would have to hurry to make the deadline for her reservations at the Lexor hotel.
The customs agent became an obstacle in her battle with time. He insisted on going through each bag, matching each piece of expensive clothing and each knickknack to her customs voucher. The agent fingered through her expensive silk negligee, and held it up to imagine it on her. Next came the feather boa as the agent removed each carefully packed item in Cat's suitcase. Bit by bit the agent explored each piece of Cat's colorful wardrobe, and packed possessions. He was looking for discrepancies, and enjoying the task.
As declared, she was over the customs limit and paid the few dollars of additional duty required for her purchases. In front of her were four open suitcases with clothing haphazardly piled on them waiting to be repacked. Cat stared at the customs agent who had relished his job in manhandling her clothes. The agent stared back, expecting to watch her stuff the suitcases closed and leave. Ending the contest, Cat hopped up and sat on the customs table, effectively blocking the agent from continuing his job with the next passenger. "You had so much fun taking everything out, now it'd my turn to have fun watching you repack everything," Cat imparted to the customs agent as she removed a nail file from her purse. "Oh, and do be careful with the boa; it was a gift."
The delay in dealing with the overzealous customs agent did not help her disposition and cost her even more time. Finally having worked her way through customs, she made her way to the front of the airport to get a taxi to her hotel.
She found a taxi and carefully parked the luggage cart right beside her keeping one hand on the cart as she questioned the cabby. "How much to the Lexor?"
"Thirty Bucks, Lady," he told her.
She began to argue, considering the cost a bit high, but she decided to take it. "Help me with my luggage?" she asked, leaning back to get her purse.
Looking at the cart, she realized something was out of place. Carefully she looked over, around and below the cart in hopes that the items had merely slipped down between her luggage. No such luck, the missing items were nowhere to be found. Where was her laptop? Where was her purse? "I can't believe it, I only looked away for a moment, and it's gone." In disgust, she placed her hands on her hips and looked back to see the cab take on another fare.
Cat was seated by the desk of Metropolis' newest detective Jerry Hoffman filling out the forms to report the theft of her purse and laptop at Metropolis Airport. Once filled out, in duplicate and triplicate, all that remained was her signature. There were so many forms; it appeared she had more forms to sign than her recent book contract. After affixing the first signature, she looked up at the detective. His dark hair, blue eyes, and slender physique were intriguing to Cat. She smiled.
Noticing actions he perceived to be flirtatious, the officer simply smiled and made sure that his wedding band was clearly visible. Cat noticed the ring, smiled, shrugged her shoulders and went back to signing her paperwork.
Spending the evening in Metropolis Police Headquarters was not her idea of fun, especially considering it could probably have been avoided had she spent the evening packing and sleeping instead of attending the Paris opening of Harrison Ford's latest movie. Not only was she exhausted from too little sleep, she was jet-lagged and angry at her carelessness. Making the rounds of the police station with her forms, each new officer she encountered seemed to want to hear her story all over again. Frustrated with the constant questioning Cat blurted out, "Can't I just put this on tape, so each different officer that needs to hear the story can just listen to the tape?"
"I'm afraid not, Miss Grant," the latest officer in line told her calmly.
Cat sighed, and resigned herself to telling the story one more time. Finally she was finished with the report and free to leave, but Cat had nowhere to go. It was well past the check-in deadline for the Lexor Hotel. A phone call confirmed her room had been given to someone else. Even so, without her credit cards or purse, it would be difficult for her to arrange payment at this hour. Her credit cards! Cat quickly made a few phone calls to cancel them and order replacements. Still, she needed a place to stay for the night. As a last resort she decided to call Lois Lane. Cat heard the familiar tones, followed by the recorded operator voice; "the number you have reached, 555-3487 is not in service." She tried the number for Clark Kent and got a similar not in service recording. Cat breathed a heavy sigh, "Doesn't anyone I know still live in Metropolis?" There had to be someone at the Planet, even at this late hour. She dialed the number and was surprised when Perry answered. "So, you're still working the day *and* evening shift, Chief?"
"Cat, is that you?"
"Yes, Chief it's me. Why are you still at the Planet?"
"Just putting the final edition to bed Cat, as usual," Perry told her.
"I tried to call Lois, but her number is not in service. Does she still live here in Metropolis?"
"Lois is here working late, too. So what are you doing in Metropolis? You are in Metropolis right?"
"It's a long story, Chief, but I'm back in town for a little while. I just flew in earlier tonight. Could I speak to Lois? I need to ask her a favor."
"Sure Cat. Just a minute, I'll put her on."
"Lois Lane," she announced, picking up the phone. "Lois, it's Cat Grant."
"Cat? Wow, it's been ages since we've talked," Lois commented.
"Yes, almost four years. Right now though I need your help. Would it be possible for me to bunk with you tonight? I just flew into Metropolis, and had my purse stolen at the airport."
"Sure Cat, you can use the spare bedroom. Where are you now?"
"At the police station."
"I'll be there to pick you up in about fifteen minutes."
"Thanks, Lois. I owe you one." Cat told her breathing a sigh of relief as she hung up the phone. Bunking with Lois was not going to be as much fun as staying with Clark might have been, but at least she had a place to stay for the night. Tomorrow, with her cards replaced, she could be independent again.
Lois hung up the phone and looked in the general direction of her husband, who was still making last minute edits to his story for the final edition.
"Clark, we have a house guest tonight. Do you want me to come back for you after I pick her up from the police station?"
Clark gave her a strange look. "Maybe I should go along with you," he stated.
Lois walked over to his desk. "Cat Grant is back in town and needs our help." "Cat? Why did she call you, Lois?"
"Well probably because only I could get all of her luggage in the trunk of the car and unfortunately Cat had her purse stolen at the airport. Why don't I meet you at home? That will give you a chance to check out the city before you get there," Lois told him, giving their secret signal for Superman.
Lois Lane slowly drove her silver Jeep to police headquarters, still surprised that her former co-worker Cat Grant had asked for her. She couldn't really call her a friend as she remembered back to their time together at the Planet. Cat was always finding some fault, making some snide comment or trying to impress people with her conquests. Yet Cat didn't really have many close associates at the Daily Planet, which may have been part of the reason behind her leaving.
Lois unlocked the door to the town house she and Clark shared.
"Wow, Lois, this place is a lot nicer than your apartment," Cat exclaimed with her first glimpse of the interior of the home. "Perry must be paying better for you to afford this all by yourself."
"I don't afford it all by myself Cat, I got married. Didn't you hear about it?"
"You, married? No, I didn't hear about it. Who? I hope he won't mind. Do I know him?" Cat was surprised at how much things had changed in Metropolis during her absence.
"He already knows that I went to pick you up, and yes you do know him. I married Clark Kent," Lois stated with pride.
"Clark? The hack from nowheresville?" Now Cat was truly shocked.
Lois rolled her eyes heavenward and sighed. 'Wasn't anyone going to ever forget she had said that?' Lois thought.
"You and Clark. That's going to take some time to get used too. Let's see, when I left, you were dating Lex Luthor and infatuated with Superman. What happened?"
Lois was caught off guard. "Clark helped me see through Lex's charms … " Lois paused as thoughts of the past and Lex, filtered into her mind. "It was a difficult time." Flushing the memories of Lex and turning to a much more pleasant topic, the expression on Lois' face clearly brightened. "Superman on the other hand … I finally realized he was a fantasy. Believe me, it took months to get him out of my mind, and while I was working on that project, Clark was working his way into my heart." Lois began heading upstairs. "I'll show you to the guest room."
"I still can't believe it, *you* married." Cat followed Lois up the stairs muttering, "Lois and Clark, married," over and over softly to herself and shaking her head.
After getting settled in, Cat found Lois in the kitchen pouring a glass of sparkling cider, waiting for Clark to come home.
"Sparkling Cider?" Lois offered.
"Sure," Cat replied. "If I remember correctly you once mentioned how much you enjoyed having a glass of wine in the evening to wind down after a busy day at the Planet."
"My life is still as busy, but I'm trying to limit my alcohol. This is a nice non-alcoholic alternative. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy a glass of wine now and then. Would you prefer wine Cat?"
"No, cider is fine."
"So tell me Cat, why are you here in Metropolis?" Lois brought Cat a glass of the cider and joined her at the kitchen table. She was eager to catch up on some of the missing years.
"Well it is more than a just a vacation. First, Richard called and asked me to meet him here tomorrow when he flies in from South America." Cat told her as she took the proffered glass. "So I decided to meet him and arranged a few other appointments around the trip."
Lois' natural curiosity was piqued. "Who's Richard? I don't believe I know him."
"You don't," Cat replied. "I met him shortly before you came to work at the Planet. We had a brief and passionate relationship." Catsmiled from the memory of those times. "Then we split up. He came back into my life about a year after I left Metropolis. It was in April, in Rome. The following Christmas we were married in Switzerland. That lasted eight months. Since our divorce, we've stayed close as friends, but realized marriage would take a lot more work than we were ready to invest."
"I'm sorry to hear about your divorce, Cat." Lois added with sincerity, "I didn't mean to pry into your life."
"I know you didn't, Lois," Cat told her. "Do you remember the night you and Clark spent in the Honeymoon Suite at the Lexor? It was back when Congressman Harrington was involved with that tsunami thing."
"Yes, what about it?"
"Richard is the man who engraved my name in the table. He asked me to come back to Metropolis to give our relationship another chance. I'm not sure I'm ready for it, but with his big new cosmetic contract, I thought I'd give it a try."
"Complete with free samples?" Lois teased.
"Of course." Cat told her with a toothy smile.
"That sounds more like the Cat I remember," Lois replied. "So tell me more about Richard."
"Richard worked for Luthor Technologies when I met him. He is a talented research chemist. When Lex Luthor's empire fell, he was hired by Constant Cosmetics. About eighteen months ago, he went to the Amazon rain forest to research new compounds for the company. The big announcement tomorrow is based in part on his research there."
"Clark and I are covering the press conference tomorrow. These new cosmetics really sound promising. I mean one application a week! That would be a real time saver."
"Don't I know it," Cat quipped. "He invited me to stay with him in the Amazon for a few months. It was fascinating but very primitive. I couldn't stand being out of touch for more than six months. Of course most of the news that filtered into the back country was in Portuguese, which did me a lot of good," Cat added sarcastically. "I might have lasted longer if my preparations had included a crash course in Portuguese."
"That must have been extremely difficult for someone who has always been connected like you, Cat. Didn't you get any news down there?"
"I had heard some wild rumors that Superman was having an affair with a married woman, but the details weren't translated. It is amazing how much news simply does not filter into the Amazon back country. Your wedding announcement is a perfect example."
"Well, that was in some of the papers," Lois confided. She considered her words very carefully. "On the other hand, I'm not surprised you heard about the Superman affair. It was everywhere for a few days. Superman was videotaped talking with me in a manner that some considered more than friendly during a break in the world peace talks. You know how special Superman is to me, but Clark is the man I love. It was blown way out of proportion."
"World Peace talks?"
"Yes, Superman was helping with the negotiations."
"Like I said, the Amazon is a news void," Cat commented shrugging her shoulders.
Clark had finally finished his story, and left the Planet. His evening patrol would have to be expedited tonight. With leaving work late and having a house guest, Lois probably expected him home at a reasonable hour. After a few wide circles above the city, he headed home. Clark entered the front door to hear giggles and laughter from the kitchen. Poking his head through the door, he found the two women catching up on the last few years.
Cat spotted Clark. Jumping up in mid-sentence, she ran to the kitchen door threw her arms around Clark, and gave him a big kiss. "Clark!" She exclaimed before kissing him again.
Lois and Clark were both caught off guard by Cat's actions. Clark broke the kiss and gently held Cat at arms length.
"C-a-t! … " Clark exclaimed with a questioning expression.
"I missed my chance to kiss the groom at the wedding," Cat explained smiling broadly. "Congratulations to both of you!"
Clark recovered from the surprise. Both he and Lois accepted Cat's good wishes. Pouring himself a glass of cider, Clark suggested that they move to the living room.
"So Cat, what brings you back to Metropolis?" Clark inquired.
"Mostly it's Richard and the announcement by Constant Cosmetics tomorrow, but I also arranged to meet with my book editor."
"You've written a book? What's it about?" Clark asked.
"I've decided to write an expanded version of my life encounters. There are so many people I've met with influence on happenings in the world. My publisher thought some of the information I've been able to gather on these people would be of interest. I've been putting the final touches on it for the last three months in Paris."
"So is it a 'tell-all'?" Clark wasn't sure he really wanted to know the answer, but knew Lois wouldn't dare ask the question.
"Sort-of. It goes into some detail about the many people I've met. Obviously it doesn't go into *every* detail," Cat quipped.
"So Cat, tell me, who's the most famous encounter in your book?" Lois asked.
"Well there are two actually. About three months after I left the Planet, I met Bill Gates. He and I dated for a while, but it didn't work out. I got upset one day about one of his fetishes and we couldn't work it out." Cat stated sadly.
"What fetish does Bill Gates have?" Lois was very curious about this inside information on the computer mogul.
"He has a windows fetish, Lois. He told me that in order for our relationship to progress, I would have to learn to do windows. I told him, You are a billionaire and you still want me to do windows? There are maids for these things!" Cat looked at her handsomely polished nails. "Do you know what window cleaner would do to my polish?"
Lois tried valiantly to stifle a giggle.
"No, um, Cat. Windows is … ah, never mind," Clark tried to add before being forced to hide his own reaction.
"I know what Windows is *now*, Clark. When it happened I didn't know and was only relating how I put it in my book. Of course that wasn't everything," Cat continued. "He also wanted me to get rid of my Macintosh."
After regaining her composure, Lois asked about the second encounter.
"You remember that one Lois, Victor Chow."
The glass shattered from the back door window on the darkened house. Missy, the only current resident of the house looked up from her water dish, at the shadow entering her territory. Silently scampering under a chair by the table, she sat watching the shadow and feeling invisible. The shadow wandered around the kitchen, and into the dining room. Missy could hear the shadow going through drawers, and collecting some loud metal things, along with some not so loud shuffling noises. The shadow came back into the kitchen. Unfortunately Missy discovered she was not invisible. She was cornered and placed in a burlap bag.
When Missy finally saw light again, she found herself being placed in a kennel cage. Many other cages with other cats surrounded her cage. These cats looked funny to Missy. And what were all those funny scents?
Bright morning sunshine greeted the trio on their way to the Planet. Cat planned on visiting with some of her former co- workers while she waited on the guaranteed 10AM delivery of her replacement credit cards. Perry White was especially happy to see the former gossip columnist, and shared a new Elvis story with her. Many of her former colleagues were also surprised to see her. When the commotion of her presence wound down, Cat spent a few moments at her old desk waiting for the current owner to show up. Cat spotted Jimmy walking toward Clark's desk. He was one person she hadn't yet spoken with. Walking over to intercept him, she gave him a big hug. "You have really changed."
It had been a long time since Jimmy had seen Cat, and to be greeted in such a manner confused him. "Cat, it has been a few years. We've both changed."
"You look a bit different though, I remembered you a bit taller."
"It must have been the deflated feeling I got after you wouldn't go out with me," Jimmy told her in jest.
"Well Jimmy, although you've matured, and gained more responsibility here, we are still related," Cat told him with a wide teasing smile.
"Cat!" Perry shouted across the newsroom. He held up an envelope and waved it at her. The replacement cards had arrived.
Cat stopped by Lois' desk. "Well it looks like I'm off on my errands. Thanks for everything, Lois. I'll see you this afternoon at the press conference." Cat gave Lois a brief hug, before leaving to visit a few of her favorite old haunts in Metropolis.
It felt a bit odd to Lois, that she and Cat had become closer in the past twenty-four hours than they had in the years they had worked together. It was obvious that Cat's experiences had softened her rough edges, and perhaps her own 'rough edges' had been smoothed by her feelings for Clark. In any event, her relationship with Cat had been reinstated to a level of friendship greater than it had been when both worked together at the Planet. To Lois' amazement, neither of them had resorted to the curt digs of each other that was common in their conversations merely four years ago.
Clark interrupted Lois' thoughts and reminded her that they both had a few odds and ends to clean up before leaving for the new cosmetic announcement. The morning meeting had very little hard news for them to cover other than the latest on this new cosmetic.
Lois and Clark entered the ballroom of the Lexor Hotel. Constant Cosmetics had lavishly decorated the room, with all of the male company personnel wearing formal attire and the women in expensive gowns of varying shades. Glancing around the room, both Lois and Clark felt oddly out of place at what almost appeared to be a black tie affair. Promptly at one, the master of ceremonies walked on stage in his top hat and tux. Following right behind him were six beautiful models wearing six different colors of the same floor length formal gown. The models created a semi-circle behind him as he walked up to the microphone.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, may I have your attention please." The conversations around the room ceased, as reporters turned their attention to the podium for the announcement. "My name is William North, and I am president of the research division of Constant Cosmetics." Several members of the press politely applauded, but were loudly outnumbered by the other members of the company assisting in the grandiose production. William waved his hands trying to hush the applause so the formal presentation could continue.
After attempting a couple of lame jokes and introductions of other members of the firm, William brought to the stage the reason the press conference had been called. "I'd like to introduce six of Metropolis' most glamorous models. Each model is wearing a color coordinated shade of our latest makeup, ULTIMATE, by Constant Cosmetics. This cosmetic is the only one to last a week, or more," he said smiling broadly, "until *you* decide to remove it. These lovely ladies will be passing out our official press release along with information sheets on the company and our latest product line."
Clark watched the beautiful women leave the stage and begin handing out information. He knew if Lois thought he was paying too much attention to them, he'd wind up with a well-placed elbow to the ribs and have some explaining to do. Instead of watching the models, he turned his attention to Lois. It would be easy to tell her that she was more beautiful than any of the models, because it was true. One of the models approached him and held out a pamphlet on the cosmetic. The mood was broken. Thanking the model, he looked around the room. Spotting Cat in the back to the left, he noticed that she was wearing a pale violet chiffon gown, and clinging to the arm of a man which Clark suspected was her ex-husband Richard Jackson.
"Once you have had a chance to read over our promotional material, my staff and I will be glad to answer any of your questions," William continued. "In the meantime, please enjoy the fabulous cuisine of the Lexor Hotel," he told the assembled group as he motioned toward a large spread of food to his right.
Reporters from all over Metropolis, New York, some from more distant areas of the country, and a few international reporters mingled around and sampled the food. Some reporters went to the area established by the company for answering questions and handing out samples. Clark scanned the handout the lovely model had given him.
"This is very impressive," Clark commented to Lois. "I'll believe it when I try it," Lois replied. "I mean realistically Clark, I have never found any so-called waterproof makeup that will stay on when I wash my face before bedtime, overnight and still be there when I wash my face the next morning. It has to be a hoax."
"Don't forget the sun block properties, Lois," Clark added.
"And the moisturizing properties. You know what they say about things too good to be true, don't you Clark?"
"You sound very skeptical. Why don't you see if you can get one of the free samples, and then we can expose all the broken promises of the cosmetic in our story," Clark added sarcastically.
"I think I will get a free sample or two," Lois informed her husband as she walked toward the sample table.
"We should also find Cat," Clark stated, following behind. "Her ex-husband might be able to provide some inside information for our story."
Lois tucked the bag of free cosmetics under her arm.
"There's Cat," Clark said as he began working his way toward her through the crowd. Lois followed.
"Clark, Lois," Cat announced as they came within view. "I want you both to meet Dr. Richard Jackson, research chemist with Constant Cosmetics."
After exchanging pleasantries, Dr. Jackson invited Lois and Clark to join Cat and himself for a nice quiet dinner at the Lexor Hotel.
Returning to the Planet, Lois and Clark began to outline their cosmetic story. Without much more than what was in the press release, the story would be sorely one-sided. They hoped spending the evening with the developer of ULTIMATE would provide a few exclusive details. After putting together a first draft, they headed home to prepare for their evening out.
Dinner proved to be extremely helpful to their story as well as being a pleasant evening. Even though Lois and Clark had not been close with Cat, before this trip to Metropolis, they found that time and experience had managed to add depth to Cat's personality. She was still capable of being the life of the party, and proved it.
Never one to miss an opportunity to get more information for a story, Lois cornered Richard with a few pointed questions. "So Richard, what gave you the idea for this 'permanent' cosmetic?"
"Can I blame it on Cat?" Richard responded squeezing Cat's hand with a wild grin on his face. "Actually she did give me the inspiration. Clark, you should understand my motives. How long does it take Lois to put on her make up in the morning?"
"Sometimes it is too long," Clark told him. "But I'm learning to live with it," he amended to appease Lois.
"Exactly my point. When we were married, Cat was taking almost an hour to get the makeup 'just right'. With ULTIMATE, you only need to spend that hour once each week, and maybe five minutes a day to touch it up." "So how was the secret uncovered?"
"I didn't go into this project looking to develop a cosmetic that could be worn day and night without adverse effects to the wearer, I was simply after a longer lasting cosmetic. Better yet if that same cosmetic included moisturizers and sun block as an all-in-one product. What made the jump possible from what I was looking for to ULTIMATE was an interesting plant found deep in the forests of the Amazon. This plant produced a chemical that allowed the makeup to bond to the skin without harm. Not only that, the chemical is a natural sun block. Fortunately we were also able to add moisturizers to keep the skin soft. So, not only did I achieve my goal, but I went beyond it to ULTIMATE."
Lois and Clark walked to where Lois had parked the Jeep. "Clark, do you really think this cosmetic will revolutionize the cosmetic industry?"
"Only if all of the promises are true," Clark told her as they arrived at the Jeep. "Lois, do you mind driving home alone? It's getting late and Superman really should check on the city."
"Sure Clark, I'll see you at home," Lois told him as she buckled into the driver's seat.
Clark watched her leave before changing into the man of steel. Superman had only been on patrol a few minutes when he spotted a shadowy figure in the wharf area of Hobbs bay. The figure had a burlap sack with a squirming content. Just as he was about to land and confront the man, he heard a mournful cry a few blocks away. He turned his attentions in the direction of the cry and found a scrappy undernourished young cat. Landing quietly near the cat, he was able to pick it up and soothe its cries. He felt the trust the little animal gave him. It was purring. Looking around and using his x-ray vision Superman could see no one around. Obviously the cat was either a stray or one that had been discarded. Slowly he lifted into the sky to take the animal home to Lois. They could find a home for the little cat tomorrow.
Lois was not particularly enthusiastic about Clark's latest gift, but the little one won her over as she felt the soft fur and heard the soothing purr of the abandoned animal still being held by Clark. Springing into action, she took the cat from him and sent Clark out for cat food. She was amazed that the little animal was so trusting, and purred loudly in her arms. Clark returned with the cat food, opened a can and put some of it on a plate.
"We shouldn't let it eat too fast, or it may not keep it down." Clark told Lois as she put the kitten down by the plate of food.
Despite their best efforts the kitten devoured the food much faster than it should have, and wanted more. Lois searched for and found a soft towel which she made into a bed for the animal. Wisely, Lois and Clark made the kitten wait until morning for more cat food.
Lois was running late, but she promised Clark she would have their newest house guest checked out by the local veterinarian. She explained the situation to Dr. Moore, leaving out the Superman connection. Dr. Moore suggested that the cat be given a series of tests, and that if she didn't want to keep the animal, she should register it with their lost and found service.
"Can you tell how old she is?" Lois asked.
"I would estimate *his* age at about seven months."
"Oops. You know, my husband and I never even bothered checking that little detail."
"Your cat is very undernourished, and may have worms. We'll check him out for you though," the vet told her as he continued the exam.
"We did feed him last night, but didn't want to overwhelm his digestive system with too much, too fast."
"That's fine, Ms. Lane. A cat this undernourished, needs to start eating again slowly and regularly." The vet finished his examination and drew a blood sample. "We should have the complete results tomorrow morning."
"And in the mean time?" Lois asked the vet.
"Just keep doing what you are doing. You may want to spread out his meals, give him a smaller quantity three or four times a day. Give the cat some attention, along with these nutritional supplements and this worm medicine once a day."
"Three or four times a day! That seems a bit much, don't you think?"
"Ms. Lane, this cat needs special treatment now, but it won't need feeding that often forever."
"Oh … Ok … I guess I can handle that," Lois said picking up the cat and making her way into the outer office.
Before leaving the vet's office, she registered the cat with their lost and found. "So what happens if the animal is not claimed?" Lois asked the receptionist.
"Normally when that happens, you get to keep the cat. Or," the receptionist continued noting the less than enthusiastic look on Lois' face, "we will help you try to place the cat."
"Thanks," Lois replied. "It's not that I don't like the animal, I'm just not sure about the responsibility."
"Cats are not like dogs. They don't require walking, or going outside. Of the two, cats are much easier to care for and you could easily get fifteen to twenty years of purring devotion."
"I'll think about it," she stated as she paid the bill for the visit, and her purchases.
Lois took the kitten, his medicine, a litter pan and bag of litter home before heading to the Planet. She set up the pan in the kitchen and closed the door to contain the kitten. Earlier that morning she had found a small reminder that she had forgotten a major necessity for having a cat in the house.
At the Planet, Clark had been diligently trying to put all of the information they had on the cosmetics into their news story. However no matter how he worded it, the story still sounded more like an advertisement than news. Lois looked over his shoulder at the story.
"Hi Honey," Lois greeted, just as Clark realized she was behind him. "How's our story coming along?"
"It still sounds too much like a commercial for the greatest thing since lipstick in a tube, but other than that, fine."
Jimmy rushed up with several file folders in his hands. "Here's the research on Constant Cosmetics you wanted, Clark." Jimmy told him as he placed one of the files on Clark's desk. "It seems that Richard Jackson's chemical discovery has been very lucrative both in salary and company profits. Constant Cosmetics has invested quite a sum in the development, testing and promotion of the ULTIMATE series based on his discovery." Placing a second file on Clark's desk, Jimmy continued. "There was even one item buried in *this* file that mentions his discovery was almost lost due to a mining deal with the Rain Forest Consortium that Superman thwarted a little over four years ago."
Jimmy placed the last file on top of the first two. "This last file contains a sampling of some of the tests performed before Constant Cosmetics could put the ULTIMATE brand on the market. This file is incomplete. You know how companies try to protect corporate secrets, however there does appear to be some type of after effect when using the makeup."
"Good work Jimmy," Clark responded. "Did you take the sample I gave you over to Star Labs for analysis?"
"Yeah, CK," Jimmy told him as he turned to leave. "They should have something later this afternoon."
"Thanks, Jimmy," Clark called after the retreating figure. "How about filling me in on what you've found out so far," Lois asked her partner.
"Unfortunately Jimmy just told us everything I've found out," Clark told her with a smile.
Lois looked at her partner/husband. "Well, we still need to clean the story up a bit. Let me take a look at it and see what I can do."
After several minutes of editing, and consulting with Clark, Lois sent the story to Perry.
"Lois! Clark! My office!" Perry shouted. The two reporters headed for the office of their editor in chief.
"Chief, if this is about the cosmetic piece," Lois began as she entered the office.
"No, Lois. I need someone to go down to police headquarters. The police chief's home was burgled last night."
"We're on it, Chief," Clark said as he and Lois headed out toward the elevators.
Lois and Clark arrived at headquarters to find police officers and the normal complement of reporters milling about. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. Lois spotted one of her sources grabbing a cup of coffee and darted down the hall to chat with him.
"Charlie," Lois half shouted at the policeman. "Clark and I got a tip that Chief Roberts home was burgled last night. What's the scoop?"
"We've had a lot of petty burglaries happening over the past few weeks, money and jewelry taken, petty thefts for the most part."
"And the rest of it," Lois prompted.
"There is a weird aspect to these burglaries," Charlie continued. "In each case if the household has a pet cat, it is also stolen."
"A cat?" Lois couldn't believe that a thief would steal a common household animal. "Did the police chief have a cat?"
"Yes, originally it was his daughter's cat, but when she left for college, it became his wife's cat. I think they called it Missy. The chief told me, his wife is more upset about the missing cat, than she is about her jewels."
"I can understand that," Clark added after catching up to Lois and Charlie. Lois looked at Clark without comprehending his point. "I mean a cat is a living thing, something that cannot be replaced. Silver, no matter how antique or sentimental to the owner, can be replaced," Clark explained. "Lois, can you keep this out of the paper?"
"That's a lot to ask, Charlie," Lois told him giving his problem some thought. "But I'll make a deal with you. You give us information on the other burglaries you've linked together, and we'll save the information on the burglary of the police Chief's home as a last resort."
Lois looked at her partner for confirmation of their agreement. Clark nodded his assent.
"I'll be back in a minute," Charlie told them before disappearing through the door to his office with his full coffee cup. Moments later, Charlie reappeared with a few folded papers.
Lois slipped the papers in her purse. "Thanks Charlie." Clark led the way out of the police station.
Lois and Clark made their way into the Planet conference room to discuss the information Charlie had given them. After leafing through the documents they began piecing together the information. Lois rubbed her temples. Even after spending an hour pouring over the data, the motive for the thefts eluded them. "I just don't get it Clark. Why would anyone want to steal common household cats?"
Jimmy knocked on the conference room door, almost bounding into the room before Lois and Clark could acknowledge his presence.
"The report from Star Labs on the cosmetic is in," he announced bolting into the room. "According to their report, the makeup contains a compound that is a brand new adhesive. From what they know about the adhesive, they figure it is what gives the makeup its staying power. Almost as if it were a stain instead of a cosmetic."
"A stain? You mean like a permanent marker?"
"They didn't say that, exactly," Jimmy told them.
"But that would account for the long lasting qualities claimed by Constant Cosmetics," Clark added.
Lois and Clark put the final touches on a generic story about the insignificant burglaries happening around the city before heading home. Clark freed the kitten from being penned up in the kitchen and discovered the mess left behind. Shredded paper towels covered the counter with more tattered papers, and napkins on the floor. Several plastic bowls were scattered about. "It seems our guest has had a busy day," Clark told Lois as he reentered the living room.
"What did he do?"
"You probably don't want to know," Clark told her. "I'll take care of it." Clark headed back into the kitchen and cleaned up the mess at super speed. Emerging from the kitchen about a minute later, he brought the little one a plate of cat food.
The next afternoon Jimmy spotted Lois and Clark busy in the conference room trying to piece together information for a follow-up article on yesterday's burglary story. Lois had spent the morning talking with burglary victims. Fortunately they were making some headway, having discovered that of the fourteen cats taken, only Missy was a purebred white Persian cat. The remaining animals were standard domestic short-hair cats. One interesting item involved the coloring of the cats. They were all white, light tan or gray.
Jimmy watched them move to Clark's desk and figured it might be an appropriate time to update them on the news from S.T.A.R. Labs. He reached the desk just as Clark was about to enter their facts into the computer.
"I got some more information on that cosmetic, if you're interested," Jimmy mentioned nonchalantly.
Lois crooked her finger at Jimmy so he would follow her to her desk, allowing Clark to work the keyboard.
"What ya got, Jimmy?"
"My contact gave me more on the adhesive ingredient. It forms a bond with almost any organic surface. They tested a small amount on the skin of a female volunteer and had a tough time getting it off. The bond that formed almost required removal of the skin to get it off. Maybe this stuff really works," Jimmy added.
"That seems strange," Lois mentioned to no one in particular. The thought process was visibly reflected on her face. "They had to have developed a way to remove the cosmetic without taking the skin with it." Lois found the flyer handed out at yesterday's press conference and looked over the information. "Ah, here it is. How convenient. Constant Cosmetics also sells a compound to remove the makeup. See if you can get some of that compound over to S.T.A.R. Labs."
Jimmy headed off with his new assignment. Lois picked up the phone and dialed the vet. It was after five, and she had forgotten to call the vet for the test results. "Hi, this is Lois Lane. I'm calling for the test results on the stray kitten I brought in yesterday."
It was good news. Other than some anemia which was to be expected, the blood tests were fine.
"Has anyone called to claim the cat?"
"Ok, thanks," Lois told the receptionist as she hung up the phone. She walked over to Clark's desk and gave him the news.
Lois was ready to call it a day. Perry had not given the follow-up story on either the cosmetic or the burglaries newspaper space. Many details still needed to be sorted through before they would have a follow-up story Perry would publish.
Clark switched off his computer and cleared his desk. "Shall we do something special tonight?"
"Just what did you have in mind?" Lois wondered returning Clark's hopeful tone.
"Well first we have a house guest to feed, but afterward I thought maybe some fresh night air might be on the agenda," Clark mentioned giving his 'flying' signal. "And who knows what might become special in the night air."
Hand in hand they left the Planet building and headed home.
William North met with his contact. This contact was his connection to the secret organization providing the research funds which enabled him to develop the cosmetic.
"My boss is very pleased with the publicity you've received on our product," John Peters told him. "We will have your bonus ready for you as soon as sales reach the agreed upon level."
"That shouldn't take too long," North commented. "The special properties of the cosmetic assure sales. It's as sure as Grant being buried in Grant's Tomb."
"The head of my organization will be glad to hear that."
Lois walked in the town house to discover an innocent looking kitten in the middle of the dinning room. Surrounding the cat were two overturned plants, a spider plant and the dieffenbachia plant given to her as a wedding present from Lucy.
"Don't give me those innocent green eyes," she told the cat disgustedly. "What am I going to do with you?" Lois scowled at the cat which cowered at her voice.
Clark followed Lois into the room and shook his finger at the kitten before helping Lois with her jacket. Returning to the coat tree by the door, he carefully placed both of their jackets on the tree.
Setting the plants back on the shelf, Lois replaced as much of the lost soil as possible, before digging out the vacuum cleaner to get the rest of the dirt. As soon as she switched on the appliance, terror filled the young cat who leapt into the air and ran toward the closest and tallest object to climb like a tree.
Surprised by the kitten's actions, Clark used his lightning speed to try to catch the cat, but was only able to keep the kitten from falling to the ground. The damage was done, several splintered claws, with multiple varying length matching slits in the fabric of his slacks. The poor kitten was also a bit dazed from colliding with 'steel'.
Lois finished the job and turned off the vacuum cleaner. She turned around to see Clark standing in the middle of the hallway with a slightly dazed but still terrified cat, attempting to cling to Clark's thigh but only managing to hang on to his navy slacks.
"I could use your help here," Clark appealed to his wife. Gently, he started to cautiously remove the cat from the entanglement. Once the cat was free, Clark got a good look at the animals claws. A few were badly splintered. "Think we should take him to the vet?" Clark asked.
"Let's see how well we can clean him up first. I'll get my finger nail clippers."
Lois was able to trim and file the rough edges of all of the little claws. She had a bit of a fight from the cat, who did not like having his defending claws manicured, even though the splintered ones were not much good to him without repair. "Maybe this will teach you to look before you leap little one," she told the cat as she finished the final claw. "Veterinary bill averted," she announced to Clark as she presented the kitten to him for his inspection.
"Hmm, maybe we should name this little one Lucky … Just as long as he stops overturning plants," Clark suggested.
"And, only if he learns that Superman is not a tree," Lois added while petting the kitten still being held by Clark.
Misty Moon, one of the models hired for the cosmetic announcement of only twenty-eight hours ago walked into her agent's office looking very plain. "What is this?" Carl Green, her agent asked. "You aren't wearing any makeup."
"Yes I am."
"It certainly doesn't look like you are."
"Take a closer look," Misty suggested. "See what this new cosmetic did to my skin! I've aged ten years in less than two days. I'm ruined," she stated plopping down in a plush agency chair in front of Carl's desk. "I'm ruined," she muttered again into her hands. "I have another cosmetic photo shoot scheduled tonight and it won't look good for me to walk in wearing a competing brand, which is the only thing I could think to do. I was afraid it would make me look worse. None of my makeup will cover the effects left behind."
"I can't believe something like this would get government approval." Carl picked up his telephone. "I'll make some calls. We'll find out if any of the other girls had a problem and figure out what we can do about it."
"We need one more cat for our testing," William told the figure hugging the shadows.
"Do you have any particular cat in mind?"
"Yes, I understand the Mayor's wife doesn't want to try our cosmetic. And she has a cat."
"Consider it done."
There was cash on the counter, and jewels in the bedroom, but no cat to be found. To make his effort worthwhile he took the jewels and the cash. On his way out he noticed two glowing orbs in the darkness of the living room. He had the cat.
Within her plush suite at the Lexor Hotel, Cat sat in front of the large bathroom mirror. Spread out on the counter was a wide selection of cosmetics from the ULTIMATE collection. Her afternoon was completely open giving her time to experiment with the new cosmetic. Feeling like a teenager all over again, Cat opened each container and placed a small sample of the contents on her skin. She had to see how each hue looked on her, and how certain groups of colors went together. After going through almost the entire ULTIMATE collection, Cat selected those shades and products that looked good and fit her personal tastes. The rest would simply dry up on her shelf or become a gift to the less fortunate.
Now came the task of cleaning off the test areas. Once the makeup had dried, it was a real chore to remove. She did not have any problem at first with the colors she didn't like. They were still wet, when she removed them simply with soap and water. When she liked a color, she let the makeup dry to make sure the color remained true. These dried test areas remained even after scrubbing vigorously with soap and water. Next she tried the cold cream she had always used for stubborn makeup which did not dim the colors on her skin. Finally she reached for the special liquid she saved to cleanse her pores each night before going to bed. It too, failed miserably. 'I can't go out looking like this,' she thought to herself. 'Something has got to remove this stuff.' Digging deeper into the cosmetic samples Richard had generously provided for her, she found some of the special ULTIMATE removing gel. Finally this worked to remove the test patches of color from her skin. The gel also functioned as a makeup base for her evening date with Richard.
Completing the application for her date, and making sure some of the removing gel remained, she let the new application dry. Looking in the mirror, she felt five years younger based simply on the imagereflected. 'Wow this stuff is great,' she thought as she finished preparing for the evening.
Clark's phone rang. "Clark Kent," he announced. "Mr. Kent, this is Carl Green. I'm the managing agent for several models who were hired to showcase a new make up two days ago."
"Yes, Mr. Green, I was at the announcement. They looked great!"
"Well, they don't look great now. Could you see me this afternoon? I may have a story for you," Carl told him.
"Sure. How does two o'clock sound?"
"Thanks, that's fine," Carl said hanging up the phone. Before him sat four of his models, all plain in appearance, looking significantly older than they did merely two days ago.
Arriving at the agency, Lois and Clark were stunned to see how plain and ordinary the four models looked, sitting to the left of a man behind a large desk. Both easily remembered how lovely these women looked at the cosmetic announcement, and wondered what could have possibly caused the sudden change in their appearance.
"Mr. Green," Clark assumed stretching out his hand in greeting, "this is my partner, Lois Lane."
The two reporters sat in the two plush chairs near Mr. Green's desk.
Lois and Clark entered Perry's office. "We have a follow-up story on the Constant Cosmetic announcement, Chief," Lois announced as Clark closed the door behind them.
"What could you possibly have to follow that fluff piece you turned in?" Perry scoffed.
"The models who showcased the make up have suddenly aged ten years," Lois stated.
"What?" Perry's eyes widened.
"We have signed affidavits from four of the six models, that they believe their careers have been ruined, by simply wearing the ULTIMATE line of Constant Cosmetics," Clark informed his boss.
"First they had a difficult time removing the stuff, and then after they did get it off, the skin deteriorated and showed every wrinkle," Lois added. "Even trying to cover it with their regular make up didn't help. They really looked bad, Perry."
"So what caused the deterioration?" Perry asked.
"We don't know," Clark responded. "But it had to be something in the cosmetic and we have a few connections to check out for our story."
"Let me know what you find," Perry told them ushering them out of his office. "Clark, I'd better call Cat, and tell her not to use that makeup," Lois told her partner as she rushed to her desk.
"I'll check with S.T.A.R. Labs and see if they've found anything unusual," Clark responded.
The reporters went to work. Lois missed connecting with Cat at her hotel. Clark, on the other hand, was a bit more fortunate. S.T.A.R. Labs still had some of the samples he had delivered and were willing to run additional tests.
"They did give me a little information on that cosmetic remover gel you sent over," Clark told his partner. "It's a variation on the makeup base, with the same adhesive compound, but in smaller quantities."
"Great, they get you coming and going."
"Maybe that's the key, Lois. If they sell both products, and you can't use one without the other, they would create a virtual monopoly."
"Especially if using the product gives you an unwanted 'after effect' unless you use even more," Lois chimed in. "We need to talk to Dr. Richard Jackson and find out exactly what happened to those models."
It was early evening. After several tries and failing to contact Jackson, Lois and Clark decided to head home. They still had little 'Lucky' to feed, and cuddle.
The new morning brought a new Cat to the Planet newsroom. She walked over to Lois' desk.
"Good Morning, Lois," Cat said to get her attention.
"Good … Morning, Cat," Lois said as she looked up, she was shocked to see Cat's obviously different appearance. Cat was wearing a big floppy hat, large sunglasses, blue jeans and a plain turtleneck sweater. This was one outfit Lois never expected to see her wearing.
Cat unceremoniously plopped herself in a chair beside Lois' desk. "Look at what that makeup has done to my face! It makes me look fifteen years older," she stated removing her glasses briefly so Lois could glimpse her hidden face.
"Cat, what happened?" Lois asked even though she felt she knew at least part of the story.
"I removed Richard's makeup last night, and woke up to this. I wanted to wear a different color today, but was afraid to use any after seeing what the first application had done."
Lois knew Cat was in emotional pain over her discovery and that telling her they had found out about the 'problem' late yesterday would not be helpful. "Have you talked with Richard this morning? Maybe he has an answer," Lois suggested with a dual purpose.
"We had a date last night. He said I looked fabulous. I think his phrase was 'like the day we first met'. We danced, talked over old times and simply enjoyed each other's company. Now I'm afraid to see him," Cat told her. "I'd really just like to become invisible."
Clark picked an inopportune time to return to his desk. He spotted Cat and began to walk over to greet her when he noticed that Lois was desperately trying to tell him something using her personal sign language.
Lois failed. Cat spotted Clark and immediately turned away from him. Realizing the problem, Clark suggested they take their conversation to the Conference room where there would be more privacy. After closing the door, he picked up the phone.
"Who are you calling?" Cat asked.
"Richard. Maybe he can help us figure out what is going on here," Clark answered.
"No! I don't want to see him," Cat declared.
"Cat, take it easy, I'm going to talk with him on the phone," Clark told her with a calm voice. "We need to find out more information."
"You knew? And you didn't tell me? What kind of friends are you?"
It was Lois' turn to try and calm down a very agitated Cat. "Yes Cat. We found out late yesterday. My first phone call was to you, but you had already left the hotel."
"Richard? This is Clark Kent. We've had a report of some adverse after effects as a result of using ULTIMATE. Could I ask you a few questions about it? … Great." Clark covered the phone. "He wants to come down here and put our concerns to rest." Clark uncovered the phone. "That will be fine. I'll see you in half an hour." Clark hung up the phone and made direct eye contact with Cat. "You don't have to be here when he arrives, Cat." Looking over at his wife, Clark suggested, "why don't you take Cat to meet Lucky?"
"I don't really want to meet anyone the way I look."
"Cat. Trust me."
Lois led Cat out to her Jeep and drove to the home she and Clark shared. Once inside, the mewing of little Lucky caught Cat's attention and momentarily made her forget her own problems.
As soon as Lois and Cat had left the building, Clark got on the phone to S.T.A.R. Labs. "Dr. Klein. Have you gotten any additional information on the make up samples?"
"Oh, hi Clark. That makeup is really strange stuff. The bonding properties are very strong. Without proper treatment, the surface skin cells deteriorate. The only way to prevent the deterioration is a second application of the makeup, or the skin conditioner. Both have the same bonding properties, which makes it a vicious cycle."
"Is there any way to counteract the adhesive?"
"Not that I've found so far. Without the conditioner, an accelerated aging process begins. It appears to be temporary, but we haven't been able to figure out how long the temporary condition will last. We are thinking that eventually as the surface cells are renewed by new cells the effect will literally wear off."
"And the conditioner is manufactured by the same company," Clark stated to no one in particular.
"I wouldn't know about that, but it does contain the same adhesive in a slightly diluted form."
"What else did you find?"
"The chemical base is alkaline. The contents include a wonderful selection of moisturizers and color dyes. Except for the adhesive, it's a really nice mixture."
"Thanks, Dr. Klein, I really appreciate the help."
Cat was becoming increasingly attached to Lucky. Lois had told her the whole story, about how Superman had found the cat, and brought it to her. Now she and Clark were trying to decide if they should find a home for it, or keep it. Taking care of the animal with all of its special needs was becoming more of a chore than either she or Clark had envisioned. Especially considering their work schedules.
"I think he's absolutely adorable," Cat stated. "If I stay in Metropolis, and you decide not to keep him, I'll take him."
Dr. Richard Jackson exited the Daily Planet elevator into the newsroom. Briefly stopping the first person to pass the elevator, he asked the directions to the desk of Clark Kent. Jimmy led him to Clark's desk, instead of merely giving directions. "Clark, you have a visitor."
"Dr. Jackson," Clark said in greeting. "Thank you for coming to meet with me. We've had a report of some problems with your makeup. The models who showcased the makeup and handed out the information sheets removed the make up and suddenly looked ten years older."
"This is really strange. We never had any problem with our test subjects."
"My boss William North arranged to have the tests run on about a dozen cats."
"Yes, we were testing the staying power of the cosmetic, and tested it on the fur of the animals to see how long it would last. None of the cats were harmed, I assure you. We also tested the removal gel, to make sure it would take the cosmetic off the fur. Everything went according to plan, and there were no ill effects. Once that test was completed, we shaved small sections of the fur and tested the cosmetic directly on the skin of the cats."
"Did you test the cosmetic on human skin?"
"We didn't see the need for that prior to our introduction of the cosmetic. The exhaustive testing we've done on the cats over the past six months was considered sufficient."
"There is a skin problem with the cosmetic. Several of the models reported it late yesterday, and unfortunately this morning we discovered that Cat is also a victim."
"Cat? What kind of skin problem? We tested this cosmetic in every known way before going public." Richard shook his head, 'what had he done?'
Realizing that Richard was taking the news hard, Clark tried to gently explain. "It seems that once the makeup is removed, the skin underneath gives the appearance of advanced aging. She didn't want to see you here this morning because of how bad she felt she looked after removing the makeup. My wife took her to our place. As part of our story, we took the liberty of sending some of your free samples to a trusted scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs, hoping for additional information. So far we've found nothing out of the ordinary except maybe the strength of the bonding adhesive."
"That was the chemical I found in the Amazon. It came from a member of the sundew family, like the Venus flytrap. You can't imagine how amazing it was to sit and watch an unsuspecting insect get caught by the plant. The properties of the adhesive worked to lure the insect to the plant and to bond the insect to a leaf for ingestion. Truly fascinating to watch. It was so strong we had to dilute it to even work with the substance."
"How did you get from an adhesive, to a cosmetic? That seems like quite a large jump of logic," Clark interjected.
"My first plan for the adhesive was to integrate it into a sun block, so that the protection would last all day without becoming diluted. We discovered the adhesive was a natural sun block. Then we went on to develop skin moisturizer which of course retained the natural sun block properties. The addition of colorful cosmetic compounds gave us the first ULTIMATE cosmetic. The moisturizer removes the cosmetic by dissolving the existing bond and diluting the solution containing the color. A new bond is made between the skin and the clear drying moisturizer."
"So how can we break the bonding process?" Clark asked. "Dr. Klein at S.T.A.R. Labs seems to think the process is temporary, but has no idea how long the effect will last."
"I'll get over to my lab and see what solutions might work," Richard volunteered. "We never noticed any kind of cell disruption on the lab animals, temporary or permanent. I'll let you know if we come up with anything."
Richard left the Planet newsroom for the lab. He hoped to find some way of reversing a process he had inadvertently started.
Clark picked up the phone and dialed home. "Lois? The coast is clear. Richard left to begin working on the aging problem. Oh, and tell Cat that Dr. Klein thinks the after effect is temporary."
Lois sighed. Still no progress on solving either the cosmetic problem or the cat theft story. A commotion over by the elevator drew her attention in that direction. Richard Jackson had knocked over one of the Planet staff runners, causing papers to fly. Lois was forced to stifle a giggle, as she watched the two participants in the collision gather their papers haphazardly.
Richard was able to collect his papers and a plastic container before making his way to Clark's desk. "I think I have something," he announced. Clark motioned to Lois to join them in the conference room.
"So what did you find?" Lois asked anxiously.
"It may not be much," Richard replied, "but I further diluted the adhesive in the removal gel and produced a substance that will remove the makeup with a weaker bond. It may still create some problems with the skin cells. There was no deterioration found with the cats with this new formula, but the original formula didn't create a problem either. I used some of it on my arm," Richard told them as he showed Lois and Clark his left forearm, which had no reaction.
A knock at the conference door made the three of them look up to see Cat. As she entered, Lois and Clark could both tell that she looked better, but still showed some effects of the cosmetic.
"Hi Cat," Richard greeted her. "I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to apologize to you for what happened with my cosmetic. I really don't know what went wrong."
"I understand, Richard. Lois told me you were working on something that might improve the removal process," Cat told him accepting his apology. "Can I help?"
"I'd hate to ask you to help, after all you've been through," Richard told her, "but I have something I tested on myself, and had no adverse reaction. The next step is to test it on someone who has had a reaction, to see if it helps."
Cat looked at her ex-husband. "Well I've had a reaction and I want an antidote. I'll be your volunteer."
Inspector Henderson along with two uniformed officers walked into the Planet newsroom. Spotting the foursome in the conference room, he knocked gently before entering. "Richard Jackson?"
"You are under arrest for grand theft," Henderson told him before giving him his Miranda warning.
"What is this all about? I've never stolen anything in my life," Richard protested.
"This arrest warrant accuses you of stealing money, jewelry, and a cat from the home of the Chief of Police," Inspector Henderson told him.
Richard Jackson was ushered out of the Planet conference room toward the elevator in handcuffs. His research papers along with a sample of the new diluted gel remained temporarily forgotten on the conference room table. Lois, Clark and Cat followed Richard and Inspector Henderson to the elevators, trying to get more information on the arrest.
"I'll call your lawyer, Richard," Cat told him as the elevator doors closed. Cat couldn't believe this was happening.
Cat took Lois aside. "You've got to help me, Lois. I don't know why they think Richard is a thief, but he is not the type. He's got a penthouse condo; he has no need to steal money. I know him."
"We'll do everything we can, Cat," Lois assured her.
Cat hung up the phone with Richard's attorney. "I filled him in on what just happened. He's going to try and get Richard out on bail."
Clark headed back to the conference room for the papers Richard had scattered on the conference room table.
The two women joined him, just as he finished gathering the files and new gel left behind.
"Cat, you know Dr. Klein said the effects are temporary, are you sure you want to try this?" Clark asked. He picked up the plastic container for Cat to see.
She thought about it for only a few seconds before taking the container from Clark's hand. "Let's get thisover with. Lois will you help me?" Cat headed toward the Planet's Ladies Room.
"Cat," Lois called allowing her to catch up. "Maybe we should do this at my place or in your hotel room, it's more private."
Nodding her head in agreement, the two women headed to the elevator. Clark took the papers he'd gathered to his desk, and began to sort through the documents. Something Richard told him, nagged at the back of his mind. Suddenly it hit him. William North had arranged the testing on the cats. Maybe he had also been the one to procure them.
"Jimmy," Clark called spotting the young man passing Lois' desk. "See what you can dig up on a William North, business contacts, acquaintances, the works."
"Sure thing, CK."
Clark searched the documents for confirmation of what Richard had told him. Not finding the solution there, he went back to the papers Jimmy had found on the cosmetic. Buried deep within these papers was an unfamiliar name, Wells Foundation. The notes showed that this foundation had provided substantial sums of cash to finance Richard's research and other cosmetic development at Constant Cosmetics.
Things were not going well with Lois and Cat. The new compound was successful in removing the makeup, but did not return the skin to normal. It would be a few more hours before any additional damage to the skin would be known. Cat planned to spend the rest of the day in the town home, keeping Lucky company. She didn't want to be seen, especially if her situation worsened.
Lois headed to the police station to find out what she could about the arrest of Richard Jackson. She cornered Inspector Henderson in his office. "Ok, Inspector, What makes you think Richard Jackson is the thief?" Lois asked with notepad and pen in hand.
"Lois, you know I can't tell you that on the record."
Putting her notepad away, she asked "What can you tell me off the record?"
"We had a hot tip that we could find some of the missing jewels in his hotel room. Security was kind enough to let us in to do a search, and guess what we found? Evidence from three of the robberies, including a cat collar."
"Purely circumstantial," Lois snapped. "He didn't even get into the country until the day of the cosmetic announcement. How could he have possibly been involved in those thefts?"
"If he ordered the thefts or knowingly received the stolen goods, he's involved," Henderson responded.
The discussion ended abruptly, when one of the other officers informed Inspector Henderson that Jackson's attorney had arranged bail. Henderson followed the officer to where Richard Jackson was being signed out of custody. Lois followed Henderson.
As soon as Richard reached freedom, he asked about Cat. Lois had no really good news and tempered her answer. "She is at my place. The compound removed her makeup, and didn't appear to make things any worse. Unfortunately there was no improvement either. Right now she's staying there babysitting Lucky."
"Well then, I guess I should get back to the lab and see if I can find a better solution. How about dropping me off at the lab?"
"Sure," Lois replied pointing in the general direction of where she had parked the Jeep. "How about a tour?"
Richard led the way into his research facility passing several guards. "This is the main research lab. As you can see it is a fairly typical chemical lab, probably a lot like what you saw in college. Through these doors," Richard said walking to the large connecting doors, "are the kennels we use for our lab animals." Opening the door, he ushered Lois into the kennel section.
Walking over to the cages, Lois could see the healthy felines. Some had colorful fur, and some with patches of fur removed to expose colorful areas of skin. Lois spotted a White Persian cat who appeared completely normal. "Why is this cat here?" Lois asked.
"She arrived a day or two ago from our supplier. We haven't begun testing on her yet."
"Wait a minute," Lois said as she searched her memory for information. "Missy, this could be Missy."
"Missy? Who is Missy?"
"This cat could belong to the chief of police! Your supplier may have been stealing these cats," Lois deduced. "Who is supplying you with these animals?"
"My boss, William North made the arrangements," Richard stated as he looked closely at the new addition. Moving quickly out of the kennel area to his desk, he began looking through file folders.
Surprised by Richard's sudden departure, Lois caught up with him at his desk. "According to my records, he hired Metro Lab Animals to supply the cats. All of the animals are supposed to be specifically raised for this purpose. According to our contract, no household pets, no strays, and no pet store animals are acceptable."
"Then why would you have a pure bred Persian cat?" Lois asked. "It doesn't make sense."
Richard picked up the phone and dialed the number for the animal supplier. "A recording," he announced.
"Who signed the contract for the company?"
"The name appears to be a Sal Myers. I think I better make a photocopy of this contract for my lawyer. It just might help my case."
"How about a spare photocopy for the Planet," Lois suggested.
Richard nodded and took the papers to the photocopier, making the desired copies himself. He then handed a copy to Lois.
"Once your lawyer has his copy, you should call the police and have Chief Roberts come out and see if that is Missy," Lois suggested as she placed the Planet photocopy in her purse. "I need to get back to the Planet, and you need to find a cure."
Cat was bored. Lucky was curled up in a patch of sunshine, tired of chasing the aluminum foil string toy. Exploring the kitchen, Cat found a nice juicy peach in the fruit bowl on the table. Deciding to eat the peach, she washed off the fruit in the sink and bit into it. It was delicious. Cleaning up afterward in the bathroom, she noticed something different around her mouth and chin. The areas covered by the juices of the peach appeared rejuvenated. The rest of her face was still dull and old looking. Running back to the kitchen for another peach, Cat found that she had eaten the last one.
Pondering the situation for only a moment, Cat picked up the phone and called a cab. Traipsing to the nearest market, she bought a dozen peaches. Returning to Lois' town house, she cut one of the peaches into a bowl. Taking the bowl to the sink, she began smearing the chunks of fruit all over her face. The juice stung her eyes; but if this worked, it would be well worth the slight discomfort. Washing the sticky juice from her face in the bathroom produced a very pleasing result. No traces of the old looking skin remained.
Once again Cat picked up the phone. This time the cab took her straight to the Daily Planet. Walking into the newsroom, looking and feeling much better, cat strode over to the desk of Clark Kent. "Well Clark, what do you think?"
Clark looked up at Cat and smiled. "The new gel worked."
"No, it didn't, but I found a solution." Reaching into the grocery bag, she pulled out a big juicy peach. "This did it."
Clark couldn't believe the solution was so simple. "Of course, Dr. Klein mentioned something about the makeup having an alkaline base. Peaches are acidic. It makes perfect sense. We need to get this information to Richard."
"Richard is out?" Cat asked.
"Lois called from the Jeep. She was taking him to his lab so he could find a solution."
Just as Clark picked up the phone to dial the lab, Lois exited the elevators and made her way to Clark's desk. Noticing Cat by Clark's desk she looked closely at Cat's face.
"It worked?" Lois probed.
"Not exactly," Cat said holding up one of the peaches.
"What, a peach reversed the process? That's amazing." Lois couldn't believe the solution had been so easy. The surprising solution made her forget for a moment about the information she brought from the lab. "I've got a clue on the thefts," she announced to Clark digging out the photocopy. "It seems that the lab animals were provided by Metro Lab Animals, with a contract signed by Sal Myers."
"Sal Myers? That name rings a bell," Clark stated as he shuffled through the papers he studied earlier. "Here it is, Sal Myers is on the board of directors of the Wells Foundation, a substantial contributor to the research fund of Constant Cosmetics."
"There's our link," Lois stated.
Jimmy walked up bringing a fairly large file folder. "I found more information on William North. It seems he has some rather unscrupulous friends. The file also appears to contain a few monetary deals that probably wouldn't pass IRS muster."
Clark took the documentation wishing he could speed scan the contents, but knew that was impossible with so many eyes on him. He handed off each document to Lois as he finished browsing the contents, hoping he was not going too fast. Lois in turn handed her finished documents to Cat. Sitting up straight at his desk, a name had caught his eye. Once again Sal Myers was mentioned; this time the reference pointed to Myers as a former co-worker at Luthor Technologies.
Richard took the police chief into the kennel area of the lab and to the cage of the white Persian.
"Missy!" Roberts exclaimed.
The cat let out a soft meow as if answering to her name. Opening the cage, he pulled the cat out and handed it to Chief Roberts. Immediately the animal began to purr.
"It is her," Roberts nearly shouted. "Thank you for finding her, my wife will be so pleased."
"Actually it was Lois Lane who spotted Missy. I never made the connection." Richard guided the chief of Police out of the kennel and lab.
Just as the chief of Police opened the door behind him, he was met by Cat, Lois and Clark. Richard was astonished to see that Cat's beauty had been restored. He never even noticed that she was wearing very little makeup. "It worked!" Richard exclaimed.
For the third time Cat reached into the bag she was carrying, pulled out a peach and said "not quite."
Richard's expression was incomprehension. "What are you trying to tell me?" he asked.
"The gel removed the make up ok, but didn't help my skin at all. Then I ate a peach." Cat continued to explain what had actually transpired to restore her skin.
Richard took the peach from her hand and studied it until enlightenment dawned. "Citric acid! That must be the key." Delving back into his research and ignoring his guests, he began to tap away at his computer. "Yes, that might be exactly the right acidity to return the gel to a neutral pH. I'll get to work on it right away."
"Do you want any help?" Cat's question was bait in hoping Richard would ask her to stay.
"Sure Cat, I'd love the company."
Clark motioned to Lois and whispered, "we should let them alone, don't you think?"
Lois nodded. "I think Clark and I should go get started on this story. Will you let us know when you have anything?"
"Sure, Lois," Richard told her. "And if you get the opportunity, contact those models, I'd like to clear up their problem as well."
Lois and Clark knowingly smiled at each other as they left the lab.
Sal Myers stood in the dark office. Mindy Church was not pleased with what she had read in the paper.
"It seems that the cosmetic firm you spoke of so highly is being investigated by the Daily Planet," Mindy stated.
"There is no way they can tie that to Intergang," Sal told her confidently. "They have succeeded in compromising the Wells Foundation which cost us a lot of money."
"It will never happen again, Mrs. Church."
Making eye contact with a man in the shadows, he stepped forward into the light. "You are right it will never happen again."
Perry walked up to his reporting duo smiling and carrying the latest edition of the Daily Planet. Holding it up to Lois and Clark, he let his expression speak for him. The headlines said it all: 'Cat Burglar Caught, Makeup Key'.
"You two may have another Kerth on this one," Perry told them. "Not only did you solve the mysterious thefts, you restored the youth to many women in Metropolis."
"Cat was the real pioneer there, Chief," Lois advised as she spotted her stepping out of the elevator with Richard.
"And we couldn't have made the connection without Jimmy's research," Clark added.
"Well it is a fine piece of journalism. William North in jail for the thefts, an APB out on Sal Myers, and a long lasting cosmetic safely on the market."
Cat and Richard walked up and joined the conversation. Richard was carrying a brown paper bag.
"Thanks to the two of you," Richard told Lois and Clark, "I've been cleared and my cosmetic is safely on the market and promises to be very lucrative. This is a small way to thank you for saving my career and keeping me out of jail."
Before Lois could open the bag, Cat added ,"And for all the things you've done for me, and for us." Cat hooked her hand over Richard's now free arm. Lois opened her bag, to discover a complete line of reformulated ULTIMATE. "I've also given a complete line of the reformulated version to the six models from the demonstration," Richard told them. "I'm hopeful they will reconsider their lawsuits."
"Especially now that we know the process can be reversed," Clark added. "So will you be staying in Metropolis Cat?"
"Might be, Chief … I think Richard's kinda glad that the Cat is back … " Cat's smile generated smiles around the group.
"Well in that case," Perry smirked, "I do have an opening to replace Miller, the Society Section Chief."
"That's a very tempting offer, Perry. Mind if I talk it over with Richard before giving you an answer?"
"Sure, take your time. Just don't take too much time, that section of the paper is sorely in need of your column." Perry smiled.
"Well in that case, Perry, you've got Cat's Corner back. I'm still going to have to think about the section chief part though."
"That's great news!" Perry proclaimed. "Welcome back to the Daily Planet staff, Miss Grant. I'll get the paperwork filled out before you have a chance to change your mind," Perry stated before heading back to his office.
"You know what really gripes me about this whole story?" Lois asked rhetorically. "I'm upset we couldn't prove a connection to Intergang."
"Lois and I are both convinced that Wells Foundation was merely a front for Intergang," Clark explained. "All the clues were there, just no proof." "I'm sure you will find the proof someday," Cat reassured them.
Unlocking the door to their home, Lois and Clark entered and flicked on the light switch. The place was a mess and sitting in the center of the room, was Lucky.
"I think our cat's luck has run out," Lois exclaimed angrily. "He didn't do this when Cat was here."
"You know what that means don't you, Lois? Cat has a magic touch with Lucky."
"And I don't?"
"Wel,l maybe not with this cat, Lois," Clark hedged. "Each animal has its own personality. Maybe this little guy would be better off with Cat and you would be better off with a different cat, or a dog, or more fish … "
Lois put her finger to Clark's lips to stop his rambling. "I can always visit Lucky at Cat's," Lois whispered. "Right now I have plans for the other male in this house."
Characters in this episode are copyrighted by DC Comics, December 3rd Production and Warner Brothers. No infringement is intended in any part by the author or the Season 5 group, however, the ideas expressed within this episode are copyrighted (c) 1997 to the author.