By Double L <email@example.com>
Original Air Date: May 10, 1998
Summary: Lois is wrapping up her last week at work before her maternity leave. Relaxing? Not when you have a mad-man targeting you and Superman for revenge. Episode 21 of S5.
By Double L with lots of help from Adrienne, KathyB, Laurie, Pam and Leanne!
A pretty young brunette glanced his way and impatiently tapped on the edge of the wooden door frame with her pencil. He would truly miss her. At times she made him feel as if his heart would burst with pride. He wept at her sorrow, felt anxious when she would return later than scheduled. She had been known to make his blood boil with her stubbornness and lack of discretion. He had watched her grow in character and skill. Never afraid of involving herself 200 percent, always before weighing the consequences. Now she was embarking on a new chapter, that would require gentleness, love …
The pencil tapping grew louder and louder …
… and most of all … Patience.
Perry threw his pencil down at the interruption and yanked his reading glasses off. Looking up, he met the impatient gaze of his number one investigative reporter. "Judas Priest, Lois! Can't you see I'm trying to edit this story? I tell you sometimes Ralph's writing makes as much sense as a hound dog chasing his own tail. If he weren't so good at digging up dirt on the politicians around here, I'd … "
*"Perry!!!"* She said as she snapped the pencil. She was sick and tired of everything today. Of being nine months pregnant in the sweltering August heat, of working on stories she found unworthy, of being ignored by her editor.
Laying his glasses down gently, he folded his hands on his desk, outwardly portraying a calm he didn't feel. "Yes Lois, can I help you?"
"Here." She tossed some print outs on his desk and placing her hands across her stomach, giving Perry a rather forlorn look. "I've finished the Cooking School rewrites. Boy, will it be interesting to see how those recipes turn out!" she said with a sarcastic twist. "Listen, I'm going to call it a day. I have a doctor's appointment in a couple of hours. I know I'm supposed to go home and take a nap, but there's a new baby boutique that just opened down the street, and I want to go check out first."
"How are you and Clark coming with that follow-up story on the fish market scandal?"
"Pretty fishy," she smirked. "I think he's out with Sergeant Zymack now, making his final notes. I've got to get up and walk some. This baby's been pressing on my lower back since the staff meeting this morning. See ya later, okay?"
"Okay sweetie, you take it easy. Tomorrow we'll tie up the loose ends."
"Thanks Perry. I'll probably try and work a full day tomorrow."
"Now Lois, you follow doctor's orders and rest like you're supposed to."
"I'll be *fine*, I promise. I'm just going to be at my desk all day anyhow. See you tomorrow."
'I've never seen a woman so stubborn in all my life.' Perry thought, as he watched her walk slowly toward the elevator. 'I pity the doctors and nurses in that delivery room when that baby comes. They'll be in for the ride of their lives. So will her poor husband.'
Walking about half a block from the Daily Planet, Lois stopped in the new baby boutique. Browsing through the store she noticed the introduction of the new fall line of maternity fashions. 'Thank goodness I won't be needing fall maternity clothes, unless a Kryptonian pregnancy is a year long.' Venturing into the other half of the store she pondered over some last minute items for the nursery. 'Oh no, not this store too!' In front her were folded layette blankets, royal blue in color, with little Superman logos printed in a diagonal pattern. It seemed like every baby store that she had shopped in so far had pushed Superman bumper pads, Superman plush toys, even Superman baby blankets with the "S" shield. A sign above the display read, "For the little Superman in your life."
"Oh, brother. This is just *so* ridiculous," she muttered under her breath as she zig-zagged her way through the petite baby items. She made a mental note for Clark to ask Murray to make sure that these royalties were going to the Superman Foundation.
"May I help you find something?" a voice from behind the counter broke her train of thought.
"No, thanks, just browsing."
As Lois turned around the saleslady eyed her large profile. "My my, it looks like *we* don't have much more time for looking."
"No, *we* don't. Actually, it could be any time."
"Boy? Girl? … Twins?"
Lois threw her an annoying look. "Look … " then caught herself before she said something really nasty. She replied calmly, "No, just one. We don't know what it will be yet."
"Oh, I see." The saleslady attempted to regain Lois' confidence. "May I show you the latest in crib ensembles?"
As trying as it was for her to maintain her politeness at this lady's nosy remarks, Lois managed to return a forced smile. "Well I really have all that part taken care … "
Not listening to Lois' response, the saleslady continued her pitch. "Here is one thing that's very popular is … "
'Let me guess, Superman,' Lois thought to herself.
"The Superman theme ensembles."
"I can tell; it seems to be *everywhere*," Lois replied, acting mildly interested.
"It's been very popular with today's new moms, especially ones expecting little boys. Superman is such a wonderful role model. After all, with the excitement of Superman possibly looking for a mate, it creates a very promising marketing opportunity." She nudged Lois' arm, and added slyly, "If you know what I mean!"
"Yes, it sure is." Lois gave a fake, half-hearted laugh and then rolled her eyes as the lady turned to put something away. She had wished that part of Superman's life had not become such public knowledge.
"Well, I mean, isn't that what every women secretly wishes for?" The saleslady suddenly spotted Lois' Daily Planet employee card hanging from her key chain.
"Aren't you Lois Lane, of the Daily Planet? Well, then *you* of all people should be interested in a Superman theme nursery. After all aren't you and Superman verrry close?" The saleslady leaned toward her and whispered in her ear. "I read one of those copies of the National Inquisitor!" She gave Lois a wink. "Tell me, are his kisses heavenly?"
"I beg your pardon?! How dare you!" Leaving the store in a huff, Lois heard the saleslady call after her, "I'm sorry Ms. Lane, I wasn't really implying anything; I remember reading it was a hoax … "
Lois bolted out of the store straight into the path of businessmen walking on the sidewalk. The look on her face made them part like the Red Sea to let her through. As she walked, a million thoughts quickly built a paranoia mountain in her mind. 'What if everyone knows? … that's the third person to try to sell me Superman baby stuff … everyone snickering and commenting on how fat I am … making jokes about Superman having babies … oh, God, what if someone finds out?' Stopping to regain her composure, she reached for a tissue from her purse.
The Fudge Castle sign in front of her beckoned as a cure for her rampant emotions. Marching right in, she placed her order. "I'll take a triple cone of Chunky Monkey Chocolate Chip, packed tightly, smaller scoop on the top so it doesn't fall, in a waffle cone, please."
A young, freckled faced boy behind the counter handed her the cone and accepted her ten dollar bill. He returned her change on the counter, as he grew tired of waiting for her to juggle her purse and wallet. Eyeing her large stomach he turned to a co-worker and whispered, "Yeah, she needs another 20 pounds, doesn't she." The young kids quietly snickered.
"Excuse me, were you talking to me?" she shot back. The boy's face grew red with embarrassment as he shook his head. Lois snatched the cone away, giving him the look of death and left the ice cream shop, waddling her way back towards her Jeep that was parked near the Planet.
Rounding the last corner of the block, she walked past a mirrored office front and noticed her protruding profile. 'Oh my God, I'm a hippo. And here I am cramming ice cream down my throat. I'll never be thin again, Clark will never find me attractive … ' Her mind babbled on as the tears began streaming down her face. Though deep down she knew that pregnancy was a beautiful thing, after the ninth month of carrying what seemed to be a huge baby, she felt enormous. She was so tired of wearing maternity clothes and waddling like a penguin. She couldn't bend over to tie her shoes or roll over in bed at night without Clark's assistance. The melting ice-cream cone suddenly lost its appeal and she tossed it into a nearby trash can. Suddenly she felt a pair of strong loving arms embrace her shoulders as she realized once again she was not paying attention to where she was going. She gasped at the impact.
"Honey, what's wrong?" he said, sympathetically.
Clark was the last person she wanted to be see right now.
"Oh, Clark." The tears flowed down her cheeks more freely. "I'm as big as a house … " She sobbed into his shoulder. "I'm so fat, and you'll never think I'm pretty, ever again."
She felt his thumb caress her tear stained cheek and brush her long hair behind her ear. "Lois, look at me." he said quietly, lovingly. She looked up into his mocha brown eyes. "You know you're tired and overworked. You're letting your imagination run away with you … and you *are* the sexiest mother-to-be that I have ever seen in my entire life."
"You're just saying that." she argued half-heartedly, clearly wanting to be convinced.
"That's right, I am … " he wrapped her into a big hug … "because it's the truth." He bent down and whispered in her ear. "And Superman *always* tells the truth."
Looking at her beautiful face, he watched her quivering lower lip transform into that special crooked little smile that she reserved just for him. Her mood suddenly grew serious again.
"But Clark, everyone is looking at me so nasty, even other women. And Superman baby stuff … it's everywhere. Have you talked to Murray about the royalties going to the Superman Foundation?"
Stopping again for a moment, a tone of panic crept into her voice. "Clark, what if everyone knows … why else would everybody be so insistent on me buying Superman baby things … they're talking about that awful tabloid story … they're thinking just because I know Superman, that I should be fantasizing about having his baby … "
Clark put a finger to her lips in attempt to slow down her building anxiety. "Well, you are, aren't you?" he said with a sly smile. She lightly smacked his chest.
"Oh, Clark, look at the time. It's almost four o'clock. Are you coming to the doctor with me? They're just doing the usual exam, like they've been doing every week this month. You know, listen to the heartbeat, measure my stomach. Maybe this time I'll show some signs of actually *having* this baby. If they tell me to come back next week again, I'm going to scream!"
"I'll meet you there, okay? I need to get this story to Perry first." He lowered his head to meet her lips, kissing away the telltale ice cream. "Mmmn, Chunky Monkey … delicious!"
Walking with her until her spirits were improved, he accompanied her to her Jeep. Watching her drive away, he thought to himself, 'I can hardly wait to see what post partum depression will be like. Heaven help me and the rest of the world.' He shook his head and walked back into the Planet.
In a home on the upper east side of Metropolis, an irritated man replayed a video tape over and over again. It was a previous newscast of a story about Superman's rescues during last winter's snow storm.
Marta Fisher from LNN, and a then slightly-showing, Lois Lane from the Daily Planet, were on location at Metropolis General Hospital, interviewing some of the people that Superman had rescued. One footage showed Superman reading a nursery rhyme book to the Mayor's daughter, who he had rescued the previous day, from a fall through a frozen pond.
Bradley Goose looked at the TV screen, his eyes filled with anger and a desire for revenge.
"Of course he rescues the *Mayor's* child! I guess he picks and chooses who he rescues according to who he wants to stay in good rapport with. And *where* was Superman when our Meredith was killed? In bed, with that reporter, Lois Lane! Well I'm going to show Lois Lane and Superman how much it hurts to lose a child. I'll show them!" He picked up a magazine from the nearby table and threw it at the image of Superman on the TV screen. *"Why didn't you save her, why, why?"*
Mary Goose walked into the room. Glancing at the all too familiar tape, she placed a consoling hand on her husband's shoulder. "Bradley, you've been watching that tape and ranting and raving about this for months; it won't bring her back to us. Please, just let her loving memory rest in peace."
"He'll pay for not rescuing our daughter … when he was too busy having that affair with Lois Lane."
"We don't know for a fact where Superman was at the time. He could have been on the other side of the world! Besides Bradley, that affair was a proven hoax."
"That's the story that she and *Superman* conjured up, and that Clark Kent's just dumb enough to believe. Since you can't trust the tabloid rags either way, I prefer to assume that they're guilty. Lois Lane is pregnant. Whether that baby is Superman's or her husband's, I'm going make Superman suffer for not rescuing our child!"
"What are you going to do?" his wife asked anxiously. She had been worried about his deteriorating behavior since their daughter's death.
As Bradley continued to stare at the television, Superman's concerned and loving image toward the Mayor's daughter fanned a smoldering ember of hate and vengeance within his soul. He stood and replied coldly to his wife. "Don't worry; nothing that involves you," and he left the room.
Dr. Bradley Goose was a former prominent Metropolis obstetrician, known for developing some promising theories on fertilization techniques. Ironically however, he and his wife Mary, soon found out that they too, had fertility problems of their own. Despite all his knowledge, efforts and research, he failed to find a solution that allowed them to conceive. His frustration led him first to desperation, then to derangement, as he became insanely jealous of his own patients who reveled in the excitement of first time parenthood. Soon there was an unexplained increase in miscarriages with his patients. He was asked by his partners to leave the practice and his fellow researchers began withdrawing monetary support for his research. Malpractice and murder charges were soon brought against him.
Perry White did an expose about the case when he was brought to trial. Former patients and associates testified against Goose and it looked like there would be an indictment. Suddenly, the DA's changed their mind and the charges were dropped, supposedly due to lack of evidence. Dr. Bradley Goose and his wife Mary disappeared from the public limelight.
Never revealed was the fact that it was Lex Luthor who paid to have Bradley's name cleared. Dr. Goose was then hired by Lex to privately continue his research as part of his future cloning project. With the monetary backing of LexCorp, experiments were once again successful. Mary Goose became pregnant. A daughter Meredith was born.
The waiting room at Dr. McGrath's practice was packed with expectant mothers and it was estimated to be at least a two hour wait. Clark had not shown, but Lois didn't really mind this time since the outcome would probably be the same as last week. 'Two hour wait for a five second exam followed by the same statement that I've heard for the last three visits. 'You're doing great Lois, gained another couple of pounds. See you back next week.' Next week, next month, next century! Who knows just how long this half-human, half-Kryptonian pregnancy takes. Probably eleven months like an elephant.' she thought to herself as she started to read an article in the latest copy of Baby Talk.
"Lois Lane," the receptionist called. "Next, please." 'Darn it, always when I just find a good article'. She folded the complimentary copy of the baby magazine and tucked it away in her bag.
The exam was routine as Lois had expected, except today they did an internal exam to see if she had begun to dilate. It was rather uncomfortable because of the pressure of the baby, but Lois figured it was just nature's little way of preparing her for the major pain of childbirth yet to come. After the exam, Lois joined Dr. McGrath in her office.
"Well, Lois, it looks like baby's getting in position and you've begun to dilate. About two centimeters now."
"That's great! Does that mean that I won't have to come back for next week's scheduled appointment?" she replied with a hopeful grin.
"Well, that all depends. Some women walk around for days dilated halfway, some dilate to a full ten in a matter of hours. We've estimated your due date to be sometime midweek or first part of next week. Remember, that's just an estimate. We won't induce labor unless there is a problem with you or the baby. You're still taking midday, two hour rests, aren't you? How much longer do you intend to work?"
"Yes, I'm trying very hard to make myself rest more. Tomorrow *is* supposed to be my last day. I'm really trying to work as long as possible. If I stay home all day, I'll go absolutely nuts!"
"Now Lois, I know that you're not one who prefers to sit and watch the world pass you by, but this is a baby you're having. Enjoy it. Enjoy the quiet moments before the baby comes. And rest. Once your little one is here, you'll wonder where all that quiet time went. Call me if your water breaks, or if you start feeling real contractions five minutes apart. And of course, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call. You're a first time mother. No questions are too stupid or dumb. You can still go about your normal routine, but don't push it."
'Normal routine,' thought Lois. 'Hah, if she only knew.'
Clark was out on his late night patrol. Unable to sleep, Lois went downstairs, and settled in front of the TV with some popcorn and bottled water. Channel surfing was futile. Shopping channel. Baseball. Gabby on Howard Stern, blah, blah, blah. 'Yuk.'
Stretching her feet out on the coffee table, Lois placed the remote on her belly. It lay still at first, then gradually teetered back and forth like a seesaw. Smiling, Lois marveled at the sight of her stomach change shape as the baby moved within her. Little bulges from elbows, feet, and bottom would appear in one spot and roll across her stomach to the other side.
'Getting ready for the Macarena huh, little one? Once you're born, you'll have all the room you need for dancing.'
Suddenly there was a kick that sent the remote sailing to the floor. It landed face down and switched the channel to a movie. Lois' eyes grew wide as she became absorbed in what was on the screen.
She watched the television intently as the expectant mother writhed in agony at the pain within her abdomen. Sweat poured from every ounce of her body. The people around her were of no comfort, no drugs could ease her anguish. Suddenly, her flesh ripped and a horrible monster, thrashing and biting, rose from within her, attacking everyone in the room, except for its host. The woman looked in horror at the beast that she had just given birth to. A blood curdling scream pierced the calm night air.
A hefty kick from Lois' baby surprised her right at the climatic point, and she gave a startled scream that rivaled the actress in the movie.
Without slowing down to open the window, Superman flew into their townhouse, glass shattering to the floor.
"My God, Lois, what's wrong?! Are you okay?! Is it time?!"
Lois was still transfixed on the screen and didn't immediately reply.
Clark was answered by the television's announcers annoying voice. "We will return to 'My Mother Gave Birth to An Alien's Hell Spawn' right after these messages from our fine sponsors.'
"What!?" Clark looked at the TV to see that the horror he heard was only from the movie. His temper flared from being taken away from a real emergency by this false alarm, and he zapped the power off to the TV."Lois, you know, you scare me to death sometimes. I didn't know what was wrong. I'm already dealing with a hot tempered gang situation in Hobb's Bay, I don't need false alarms like this!" He calmed his voice down as he saw the reaction on Lois' face of 'you're giving me that look'. "Don't watch shows like that if it's going to scare you, okay?"
"Oh don't get your cape all in a flutter. The baby just kicked hard at the same time she gave birth to that-that-*thing*. Clark, what if … ?"
Clark immediately interrupted her as it was way past the babbling hour. "*Don't* even begin to go there, Lois."
"But … I mean we don't know what can go wrong. We are definitely charting unknown waters in the realm of inter-species reproduction."
"Lo-is, we've seen an ultrasound, and we've heard only one heartbeat. One very normal heartbeat. You told me Dr. McGrath said today, that the head is in position and you've dilated 2 centimeters. It won't be long now. Remember, Dr. Klein says so far it's as normal a pregnancy as can be expected."
"Considering I'm giving birth to an alien's baby," she muttered. She looked at him and smiled, trying to get on his better side. "Probably the most sexy alien there is."
It didn't work. Clark was still not amused. "Will you be okay now if I go? I've got to check back in the Bay area, then take a quick patrol around the city. Go back upstairs and just try to get some sleep please? I'll try not to be long."
"Okay, I'm sorry to have worried you. Be careful; love ya."
Clark kissed her goodnight and flew out into the muggy night air once again. Grabbing the broom she swept the broken glass into a pile in the corner. "And he tells me that I'm the emotional one, please."
Mary Goose placed a hot breakfast in front of her husband as he read the morning paper. "How's work going, dear?" she asked, trying to make light, small talk, taking the focus away from the previous emotional night.
Bradley, engrossed in his article, answered her with an intelligible grunt.
"Must be an interesting article. What are you reading?" she said, trying to get his attention.
"This goody-goody Superman piece that Lois Lane wrote, it talks about his latest involvement in the world peace talks." He suddenly ripped the article out, wadded it into a ball and threw it on the kitchen floor. "I hate him!! He's such a damn hypocrite."
"Bradley, I think this obsession with Superman is getting out of hand. Remember your blood pressure rises when you get emotional."
"Whose side are you on anyway?" His voice rose in anger at his wife's comment, thinking she was defending Superman's values. "Don't you care that he obviously values certain people over others? Doesn't it bother you what he did to our daughter?"
"Of course, I'm on your side." Mary knew in her heart it was an accident and while she would had given anything if Superman could have saved their daughter, she knew that it was not his fault. Her husband however thought differently and she didn't want to push him anymore, with his unstable state of mind.
"But remember Bradley, I lost Meredith, too." She placed her hand on his shoulder. "Please! The best thing you can do now, is to put this thing to rest and just forget about this obsession of getting revenge on Superman so when can get on with our lives."
He jerked his shoulder away from her touch. "There is no life without Meredith. I *never* will forget, or forgive him," and he stormed out of the house and over to his laboratory at LexCorp.
The morning sun shined brightly into the bedroom of the townhouse on Hyperion Ave. Lois opened her eyes to see that the covers on Clark's side of the bed were barely disturbed. She was hoping that he wasn't still mad at her for last night's little incident. "Clark? Are you home?" She didn't get a reply.
Still sleepy, she quietly shrugged his absence off and ambled her way into the bathroom to prepare for her last day at work. As she was toweling off after her shower, she heard the familiar swoosh of Clark's arrival. Whistling a merry tune as he entered the bathroom, he picked up an extra towel to help dry her back and her legs and kissed her good morning. Lois was quite taken aback with his good mood, considering he was gone most of the night.
"Hmm, Superman seems quite cheery this morning. A big change from the Superman that I had a conversation with last night." She quit teasing and looked turned to look into his eyes. "Really, Clark, I'm sorry if I made you mad."
"Mad? Oh last night. Don't worry about it. I was just juggling a lot of emergencies and over-reacted. I'm sorry too."
"Were you gone all night? Did you get any sleep?" Lois looked at his suit that was covered in mud and soot. "You're a mess!"
"It was really busy last night. After the incident at the bay, there was a robbery, a homeless person that was being harassed, a house fire, and train derailment in California. I may have snuck in an hour or so of sleep sometime between three or four a.m."
"And you're this happy first thing in the morning?"
"Yeah! It's, you know, rejuvenating, to have a good night rescuing people." He stripped his suit off and tossed it in the hamper, then stepped into the shower.
Lois continued drying her hair. "What's the weather like outside this morning?"
"Pretty muggy already. You'll probably be hot today; you should wear shorts."
"Clark, I've been hot since April with our little built-in furnace." She gently toweled the moisture off of her stomach. "Think Perry would mind if I wore shorts?"
"Let's see, you've worn a chicken suit, a biker's outfit, a waitress's outfit. Cat wore a bikini during the heat wave. No, I don't think Perry will mind if you wear shorts. It is Friday after all. They're trying out that new casual Friday dress policy. You won't be going on any calls anyway."
She stopped towel drying her hair and pulled back the shower curtain to reply. "I'm not going to be doing what?"
Clark stepped from the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist. He looked at his wife who was giving him an annoyed look. "Lois, promise me you'll stay at the office today, and just enjoy your last day. No investigations. No criminals. No getting in trouble. Okay? Promise?"
"Clark, all I will be doing today is organizing my desk and files for whoever is going to cover for me while I'm on maternity leave. Boring stuff like that." Lois threw Clark another coy smile. "Besides, what trouble could I possibly get into at the office?"
Clark embraced his wife from behind, admiring her beauty in the mirror. "Lois, honey, I know I always seem to be nagging you about staying out of trouble. It just always seems to have a way of finding you, even at the office. We are so close to having this baby. With every rescue that takes me away from your side, I can't help but feel a little insecure if I don't know where you are. And when you give me that smile, it makes me very nervous about what you may be scheming."
Arriving at the office together in their routine fashion, Clark whipped up a quick little baby-safe, craving-satisfying concoction of mocha decaf, coffee, extra creme, and sugar for his lovely partner.
Lois walked to her desk, looked at the all of the stacks of paper and mess that covered her entire desk. Ever since she had cut back on her hours, the paperwork that would have normally been filed or tossed at the end of the day, was instead piling higher and higher, until her desktop was completely covered. Letting out a sigh as she sat down, she prepared to tackle her worst enemy: organization. Planning for her temporary replacement would be more of a challenge than any criminal she had ever encountered.
As Perry walked by Lois' desk, he stopped and placed a fatherly hand on her shoulder. "How are you doing this morning, Lois?"
"Fine, Perry. I'm just trying to decide where to start." Perry gave her a couple of pats on the shoulder, chuckled and continued on his way.
Clark returned to her desk, handing her the coffee. "Here, honey, just the way you like it."
"Oh, thanks, Clark." she paused for a moment. Just looking at the steam rising from the cup made her forehead break into a sweat and she suddenly had second thoughts about drinking it.
"You know, it seems awfully hot in here. I know it's probably just me, but now I'm really not in the mood for a hot coffee this morning after all. I'm sorry, Clark."
As she started to dispose of it in her desk plant, Clark immediately took pity on the plant and quickly retrieved it from her. Looking around to see if anyone was paying attention, he quickly used his freezing breath, stirred it quickly and handed it back to her, grinning like the Cheshire Cat at his handy super feat.
"No problem. There, Iced Mocha Cappuccino Milkshake."
"See why you're so handy to have around." Lois teased. Looking at the piles of notes, drafts of stories, and files waiting to be organized, she sighed. "You just don't know how I hate to do this stuff. *I* know where everything is. Why do I have to organize it for someone *else*?" Clark smiled at her as she continued her complaining. "If I throw it all over the floor will you super organize it like you did before?" She thought back to when Superman came to her apartment when she was on suspension. He had taken pity on her disheveled living room and picked up, alphabetically refiling all of her source and contact file cards in about two super seconds.
Clark leaned down to whisper, "Too many people around. Besides, then what would you do for the next eight hours. Looks like you'll have to tackle this one yourself."
Lois half smiled at him, "Hmmmph, " and proceeded to connect to the internet as Clark returned to his desk. Downloading her email, she recognized the usual promotional updates, news from the International News Association, LNN reports. She scanned through them briefly, something she generally considered a waste of time. She clicked on the next one that did not have a description or an address of the sender.
"What's this?" she thought as a message downloaded on her screen. She continued to read to herself the familiar nursery rhyme.
*Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
Down will come baby, cradle and all.*
"Now why would somebody send me an email like this?" she spoke aloud.
Without looking up from his notes, Clark answered. "Talking to yourself again, honey?"
"Only to those who eavesdrop with super ears." she whispered as she read the rhyme again, trying to figure out who sent it. She turned to face him and spoke a little louder. "No, I received this email. It's a nursery rhyme."
"That's nice," Clark automatically replied as he typed away on what Lois would call a fluff piece of news, obviously not paying full attention to his wife.
Lois continued her conversation with herself. 'Wow, I never noticed before how twisted these lyrics are. Why would someone put a baby in a tree, and have it come crashing down? Stupid thing, probably some spam, or some teaser campaign for a new baby safety product.' She hit the delete key. Lois attempted to refocus on her organizational task, but the familiar nursery rhyme lyrics kept pushing its way back into her subconscious. Her thoughts then turned to Clark and his findings in the fish scandal case. "Hey, Clark, did you get a chance to talk to Zymack yesterday?"
"Clark?" Lois looked over to Clark and immediately knew by the faraway look on his face, that the answer would have to wait a little longer.
"I have to go. I'm sorry, what did you say a few minutes ago? I wasn't listening."
"Never mind. What do you hear?"
"A young mother screaming for help, something about her baby." He paused for a moment. "The staff meeting … "
"Go! I'll think of some excuse if you're not back in twenty minutes. Be careful."
"Who's going to cover for me while you're gone?" He smiled and exited quickly down the corridor. Lois heard the familiar swoosh about the same time Perry came out of his office and saw Clark's empty chair.
"Lois, where the Sam Hill did Clark go?"
"Uh, he went over to the editorial department. Someone needed his help with an article on political viewpoints in Borneo."
"Tell him when he gets back I want to see him pronto. I've got changes on his story. And a staff meeting in twenty."
"Oh, I'll take them, Chief. I can start working on them until he gets back." She thought to herself, 'Boy, some day I'm just going to run flat out of excuses.'
Superhearing quickly pinpointed a frantic cry for help from the Riverwalk Emporium Park. It was an outdoor area, with multi-level playgrounds, shops and eating establishments. Superman landed to find the hysterical mother pointing over the rail to the top of the adjacent tree. Precariously perched on the end of a large branch out of her reach, a small baby in an infant carrier cried hysterically for his mother. "Don't worry ma'am, I'll get him safely back to you." Superman floated over the rail to reach the small infant. Just as he reached down for the handle, the carrier suddenly slipped off of the branch, and the baby tumbled toward the ground below. Superman quickly caught the baby and returned him to his mother on the above deck. She quickly removed him from the carrier to comfort him.
"Ma'am, how did your baby get out on that tree limb?"
"I don't know. I put the carrier down on the deck while I retied my daughter's shoelace. I watched her run to the playground, then combined some of my packages into one shopping bag. When I turned back around my baby was gone. I thought someone had kidnapped him, and when I looked over the rail to see if I could see anyone in the crowd below, I saw him in the top of the tree. I don't understand what happened, I only took my eyes off of him for a second."
"Unfortunately, sometimes a second is all it takes for a child to be kidnapped." Superman stayed with the shaken mother and children for a moment, trying to calm their fears.
"I believe you and your children are safe now. Why don't you take them home. I'll take a look around and see if I can find an explanation of what happened." Superman spoke to a few shoppers and people dining in the surrounding area. No one had noticed anything unusual.
A man stood in front of a store window, posing as a casual shopper. He watched Superman from a safe distance talk to people and look for clues. He smiled as he observed, then continued on his way.
In his flight back to work, the hysterical look on the young mother's face and the sound of the baby crying, kept going around and around in Superman's mind. The recurring worries began to surface, even though he had discussed his feelings with Lois many times. As her due date approached, his anxiety grew, heightened with every rescue he performed.
He quickly flew back to the Daily Planet, just in time to grab a cup of coffee and make it into the conference room where the staff meeting was about to begin.
"Everything OK?" Lois asked as he took a seat next to her.
"Yeah, just a very odd accident. I'll tell you about it later." He proceeded to take notes as Perry started to lead the meeting.
Lois tried to find the most comfortable position in the hard wooden conference chairs. Clark wished that he could suspend her in air, if it would help relieve some of her discomfort.
Ralph was sitting on the opposite side of the table from her with an annoyed look on his face "Gosh Lois, can't you be still? With the way you're squirming, you'd think you were about ready to pop out that baby." All eyes glared upon Ralph after the callous statement. Clark stood up and gave Ralph a look that shut him up immediately. Ralph ducked his head to one side as Lois threw her pencil at him. Perry bellowed. "Hey, hey. This isn't some sideshow at the state fair. Ralph, I'll see you in my office after the meeting. Now, Dianne, I'm going to pair you with Clark while Lois is on maternity leave. You can learn a lot from him in your transition from features to investigative reporting. Get withLois for part of the day, familiarize yourself with existing stories, and assignments. Then do the same with Clark. Now John, how's that investigation … "
Perry's words quickly turned to background garble as Lois thought to herself 'Thanks a lot Perry. Pair Dianne and Clark. Real go-getter. Blond. Pretty. Skinny.' Lois knew that it would be purely professional between she and her husband. Yet, in her self-conscious state-of-mind, Lois couldn't help feeling like she was being replaced by a more attractive, over-eager reporter.
The meeting seemed to drag on for hours. Lois didn't look forward to spending part of the afternoon familiarizing Dianne with her files. She didn't like to share that with anybody, except Clark.
The previous rescue continued to puzzle Clark throughout the morning meeting. It didn't make any sense. There were no witnesses as to how the baby and the carrier were so quietly taken from its mother and placed in the nearby tree. He was eager to share his viewpoints with Lois on the event.
After the meeting, Clark spoke briefly with Dianne on what they would be working on later. As he poured himself another cup of coffee, he saw his wife return to her desk from the restroom. She looked worn out and seemed to sulk as she sat to continue the assault of paper work before her. He walked up behind her chair, and started to rub her shoulders. "Honey, are you sure you don't want to go home early today and rest?"
"No, Clark, I'd feel much better knowing all of this is behind me before I go on maternity leave."
Clark leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Then where would the most beautiful woman in the world like to eat lunch today?"
Closing her eyes, she smiled as his large, warm hands caressed her neck. "Ummm, you always come to my rescue just in the nick of time. In more ways than one."
"Glad to always be at your beck and call." And he kissed her on the cheek. "In about an hour? I'll have Perry's rewrites finished by then."
"Okay, maybe I will have made some headway with all this mess by then, too."
As they walked back from the corner deli, Lois remembered to ask about Superman's rescue from earlier that morning. Clark filled her in about the rather odd turn of events.
"That was one of the weirdest rescues I've ever had to make. You know how at the Riverwalk Emporium Park there are multi-level walking decks and playgrounds among the trees. A baby in a carrier was somehow placed over the rail, out of the reach of its mother, in the top of a tree. Just as I hovered over the tree to get him, the carrier slid off the branch. That baby would have died if I had arrived just a few seconds later."
"Clark! That weird email I got this morning. Do you think there's a connection?"
"What email? I guess I really wasn't paying much attention to what you were talking about. Sorry."
"Somebody sent me the Rock-a Bye Baby nursery rhyme, as an email. You know … Rock-a-Bye Baby, in the treetop. Blah, blah, blah, down will come baby, cradle and all."
"I would say that *is* a little more than just coincidental. That doesn't seem like your typical email. Do you know who sent it?"
"I'm not sure. In fact, I don't remember seeing an address attached to it. I deleted it, but I don't think I've emptied the trash folder in the last couple of days. Let's go see."
Bradley Goose returned to his laboratory after plotting a scheme for Superman's next rescue. He quickly sat down at his computer to compose another email to Lois Lane. He did not hear the stealthy footsteps of Lex Luthor approaching him from behind.
Bradley jumped nervously at the unexpected visitor, accidentally sending a beaker of fluid crashing to the floor.
"Feeling a little jumpy today, Bradley?"
"Uh, no, Mr. Luthor. I, uh, I'm fine. I was just trying to locate some information on the internet." He quickly sent the message and closed the message window.
"I've been studying your latest theory on the extension of the life expectancy of our cloning experiments. I must say, I'm impressed."
"Uh, thank you, Mr. Luthor. I think we're close to a breakthrough that will advance your clones beyond all other possibilities. Now, if you don't mind, sir, I need the rest of the day off. I have some personal business I need to attend to." Without waiting for a reply from Luthor, Bradley nervously retrieved his things and exited quickly.
Lex waited until Bradley was out of the room and then opened the 'sent mail' file, reading the two nursery rhymes that were sent to Lois Lane. He glanced curiously towards the door, pondering the connection between Bradley's nervous behavior, the emails and Lois. He dialed his cell phone to instruct one of his henchmen to follow Bradley and report back to him the details of his whereabouts.
Lex Luthor's hireling followed Goose to a small daycare located in urban Metropolis. He watched as Goose put on a cap, tuck a clipboard under his arm, and slip a small black box into his jacket pocket. The hireling observing him, started to phone Lex, but he decided would wait to see the outcome of the charade.
Bradley Goose walked into the daycare's office. "Excuse me, I'm Rex Smith from the County Health Board. Occasionally, we arrive unannounced to do our quarterly inspections, just to keep everyone on their toes. Shall we begin?"
Goose stayed calm as he mentally took notes of the places in which he could hide the device. The director showed him through all of the rooms without any hesitation, because she knew that her daycare was in compliance with all of the city's codes. The last room that he asked to inspect was the kitchen.
The director talked to him as she showed him around. "I'm afraid the place is a little cluttered right now, we're preparing lunch, and have to do it in a few shifts in order to feed everyone within an half-hour." She watched Goose as he looked around the room, pretending to inspect breaker boxes, stove connections and the like. The chime of the entrance door signaled an arrival of another visitor. The director excused herself. "Excuse me, I need to see who just arrived."
"Go ahead ma'am, I'm almost through." When the director slipped out of the room, Goose took the device from his pocket, set a timer and slipped it into the bottom of the trash can that was next to the stove. Then he exited the daycare, making a quick comment to the director, who was getting ready to show the daycare to a prospective parent.
"I'm all finished ma'am, you'll will receive a report from the county within two weeks. Good day."
The hireling watched Bradley quickly exit the building, jump into this car and leave before any one noticed anything supicious. He picked up the cell phone and reported his findings to Lex.
Returning to the newsroom after lunch, Lois and Clark looked at her mail file. "That's odd. There's nothing in my trash folder. I know I haven't emptied it in days." Suddenly a chime sounded. On the screen, there was a message: 'You have new mail'. Lois clicked on the icon, and they read the new message together, aloud.
fly away home
Your house is on fire
And your children will burn;
All except one
And that's little Ann
And she has crept under
The warming pan*
"Oh my, Clark this is getting eerie."
"No kidding." Clark suddenly looked into the air and reached instinctively for his tie.
"What do you hear?" Lois quietly asked.
"A dispatch call about a fire at a daycare center." Lois looked at Clark with astonishment of his answer. Was it just coincidence, or a connection?
"Lois, promise me you'll stay here. If you get any more messages like this, call for me, okay?" Lois nodded in approval and placed a loving hand on his cheek. Usually when Clark specifically asked her *not* to go anywhere, her first reaction would be to do just the opposite. Today, the call for adventure just wasn't there. She was too hot, too big, and just too tired to do anything *but* stay there. Lois took another break to go to the restroom. When she returned to her desk, she sat down and studied the message that was still on her screen. All she could think about was the jeopardy of those innocent children in a burning building. She hoped that Superman would be able to rescue all of them in time. A fax message fluttered in front of her face, breaking her train of thoughts.
"Fax for you, Ms. Lane." Lois let out a long breath. Was it the baby pressing up against her diaphragm, or was she just so lost in thought that she forgot to breathe? She glanced briefly at the unfamiliar face of the man who was holding the fax in his hand.
"Oh, uh, thank you." The expression in his eyes unnerved her slightly, but she wasn't sure why. 'He must be new. Kinda creepy,' she thought, and she continued with her work as he walked away.
Once again, Superman flew high above the city, just ahead of the fire engines, listening for cries of help, searching the cities horizon for smoke.
The alarm was sounding from the Happy House Daycare where thick black smoke was billowing out of the kitchen window. Teachers and staff were frantically taking a head count of the children, as they gathered them in the playground and the parking lot. Superman flew in, extinguished the fire, inhaled the smoke to quickly clear the building, then exhaling it safely into the atmosphere.
A teacher was frantically searching through the groups of children. "Martha Anne?! Where's Martha Anne?! Has anyone seen Martha Anne!!"
"Is there someone missing?" Superman asked the anxious teacher.
"Martha Anne. She was in line with us on the way out, now I don't see her. Please Superman, you've got to find her!"
In one of the classrooms, Superman discovered the crying toddler. Tightly curled up with her blanket in a corner under a box of dress up clothes, she appeared frozen in terror by the alarm and commotion.
"Is your name Martha Anne?" Superman asked the little girl who looked up at him through tearful eyes. Coughing and crying, she nodded.
"I'm Superman, and I'm going to take you outside to your teacher, okay?" The little girl nodded. Wrapping his cape around her, he gently held her close as they slowly floated outside, where he handed her to her relieved teacher.
"Is everyone accounted for? I didn't see anyone else inside."
"Yes, oh yes, thank you, Superman; thank you so very much."
Superman listened to the Director's conversation with the Fire Chief. "We had just finished lunch, and were preparing for story time when the smoke alarm went off. I went into the kitchen and saw smoke and fire was coming from a trash can next to the stove. I don't understand it. We don't allow smoking, and I was the last one to clean the kitchen. The towel hanging above it mush have caught on fire. Within minutes, the whole kitchen was engulfed in flames."
Superman praised the Director for her quick actions. "I'm glad you responded so quickly, getting the children out to the playground."
"You know, thirty minutes later and it would have been nap time. Thank you again, Superman. You got here just in the nick of time."
'Just in the nick of time, nick of time … ' "Aaahh, I can't get those words out of my mind!" Superman exclaimed into the atmosphere as he flew back to the Planet. The phrase kept going around and around in his head. What if he wasn't in the nick of time when his own child needed him? What if he's rescuing someone else, somewhere else?
As Clark entered the news room, he noticed Jimmy and Perry were standing over Lois' desk. The trio were intently waiting for a new message to appear.
Readjusting his tie, he walked over to Lois' desk. "What's up, guys?"
Perry looked up, glad to see the second half of his favorite reporting team return. "Clark, there you are. Did you get a chance to talk to Superman about that baby in a tree?"
"Yeah, Perry. And I also found out that he just now put out a fire at a daycare. I told him that just moments ago, Lois received another anonymous nursery rhyme email. You know the one that goes Ladybug, Ladybug fly away home, your house is on fire, children all gone."
Lois gave him a concerned glance. "Were any children — did Superman rescue them all?"
"They're all fine. He did have to rescue a little girl who was hiding in the corner of the classroom. With all the commotion, she must have run back into the building unnoticed. I told Superman that you had received another email this morning that may be related to the baby rescue from the tree, and that we would check into it for him."
"Well, so far we've only received those two. But that's two too many for me." Lois gave up waiting for another message and she started to work on another file.
"Maybe it was just a fluke," commented Perry as he retreated back into his office.
Clark looked at Lois and Jimmy. "Maybe, but I don't think so. Jimmy, there's no return address on these two messages. How hard is it to trace without them?"
"Kind of tricky, CK."
"Well, nothing seems to be happening in the land of Fractured Fairy tales right now." Lois grumbled. Spraying her screen and grabbing some tissue, she wiped off the annoying fingerprints that her co-workers had left. She stood and stretched, holding the side of her belly as the baby shifted to the left.
"Everything okay, honey?" Clark said to her as he saw her face grimace slightly.
"Clark, it's just a little foot attempting to re-align my ribcage. I'm fine. I stretch a lot, and I ache a lot. Don't be so concerned with every little face or sigh I make, okay?" She was tiring and getting a little annoyed at the constant questions from her husband about whether or not she was okay.
Jimmy looked away, not surprised by Lois' snappy comment to her husband, and decided to retreat quickly to the darkroom.
Lois looked at the look on her husband's face, which was taken aback by her thoughtless comment. "I'm sorry, Clark. I didn't mean to snap. I know you're just concerned at my every move and pain, but *really*, I'm fine. Forgive me?"
"Apology accepted." He stepped closer to her desk to give her details on the rescue, as he had a feeling that this story would be making tomorrow's paper. "Lois, both of these rescues have involved innocent children. The baby in the tree and the fire, neither of them had any prior warnings about what was going to happen."
"The children didn't, but *we* did!"
"It's like someone is trying to set up innocent children as easy targets for Superman's rescues."
"Look, Clark, maybe this *would* be a good story for you to write with Dianne."
Clark responded to her statement with a quizzical look, at her relinquishment of a story. "Wait, I was just talking to the Planet's top investigative reporter, Lois Lane. I know she was just here. You know her, Mad Dog Lane, who never gives up the scoop on a story, always looking for that next Kerth."
"I know, I know. But Dianne has to start somewhere. And assuming this baby comes *sometime* this century, the story can't wait until I return from maternity leave."
"You're sure? It's already two o'clock. Perry's going to have my hide if I don't get those rewrites done by deadline on the black-market fish scandal for tomorrow's edition."
"I've already taken care of that for you."
Clark slipped behind her and began to massage her shoulders again. "Know what? You're the best, my little tornado."
She giggled in agreement. "Mmmm, that feels wonderful." She leaned her head back and teasingly tousled her hair in Clark's face.
The sweet smell of the cucumber oil she wore caused Clark to sneak a kiss on her neck. "You know, when we get home tonight, I want to give you a full body massage. You know, to let the baby get to know his daddy's loving touch."
"That sounds wonder … "
"Hey, hey! Can't you two at least pretend you're working." Perry bellowed, as he came back out of his office. "You think we're going to meet the three o'clock deadline with my writers acting like a pair of Amazon Love Parrots?"
"No, Chief." The two said automatically together.
A discreet chime from the computer announced the arrival of new mail.
"Oh, boy, let's see what this one is." said Perry. The trio anxiously awaited as it downloaded. With a sigh of relief, Clark spoke. "It's only an update from Human Resources on the company picnic later on in the month." With a sigh of relief, everyone returned to their desk.
Bradley stopped the mail cart and deposited some boxes of office supplies on Lois' desk. By the time she noticed, he was well on his way. "Hey, wait! I didn't order these!" When the man continued on without looking back, Lois muttered under her breath. "Great, something else to have to put away."
In the lower red light district of Hobbs Bay, a young prostitute was standing in the doorway, looking for a way to score her next fix.
Bradley Goose pulled up in a black, four door sedan. Noticing the strung-out young woman, he parked across the street and observed.
Another car approached and stopped where she was standing.
"Hey, mister, wanna feel good? Twenty bucks?"
As the potential customer opened the door for her to join him, her children ran out of a doorway to her side, pulling on her short skirt, crying for something to eat.
"Mommy, mommy, don't go, we're hungry." The three young children pleaded for their mother not to leave them again. She ignored the cries and begging of her children, wanting to please her customer more. All of the children's noise and crying agitated the man and he decided that it just wasn't worth it, no matter how cheap the price. He pushed her out of the car and sped away.
Goose smiled as he watched the scenario unfold from across the street. He retrieved his pocket computer and emailed a message to Lois Lane at the Daily Planet. Knowing this would pull at her heartstrings, he hoped that she would relay the message to Superman. He then would be able to observe Superman's emotions as he rescued the children in trouble.
"Clark, another message is coming in." Lois was hoping this wouldn't be from the mystery sender.
There was a young lady who needed some crack whose crying children she wanted to smack she needed a fix , but they kept her from getting her hit so she gave them all a mighty whack!
Clark read the message and was out of the news room before Lois had even finished it. Superman flew to a district that was known for having several crack houses. Flying over the run-down area, he spotted the strung out mother cursing at her children out on the sidewalk. Her arm drawn back, she threatened to hit her toddler again. Superman landed between the violent mother and her innocent children who were cowering in fear.
"Stop hitting your children!"
"What damn business is it of yours?! Leave us alone!" Screaming, she ranked her children up by the arm and dragged them inside the apartment.
Pain touched Clark's soul as he looked at the horror in their eyes. How could a mother betray her own children? Superman stepped into the apartment and picked the toddler up, whose nose was bleeding. The two other young children clutched Superman's leg and cape, hiding behind him from their raging mother.
"You need some help, and these children need to be placed in a home where they will be loved and cared for properly."
"I give 'em all the care they need. I don't need any help from anybody. All I need is a fix. Now get out!" she screamed as she picked up an iron and threw it at him.
Superman caught the iron with his free hand. Placing the toddler with her siblings, he ripped the cord from the iron and tied the mother's hands behind her back. After calling the police, he took the innocent children outside to escape the stench, blocking the door so the unfit mother couldn't escape.
Clark looked across the street to see Bradley's car pull away. The police arrived and as Superman left, he stopped the man in his car about half a block away.
"Sir, excuse me. I noticed that you were parked across the street, during that incident. Do you know that woman the police just took into custody?"
"No ,Superman." Bradley was stammering, trying to think of a decent excuse. "I … uh, just happened to drive through. I don't know, my wife and I, well we don't really.. get together … anymore. I've never been with a hooker, honest. When the police came, I panicked … I gotta, I gotta get home. It won't happen again."
Superman was disappointed that a married man would resort to prostitution instead of seeking counseling, but the man hadn't committed a crime so there was no reason to suspect or accuse him of any wrongdoing. Superman sensed the guy had truly made a mistake and patted him on the shoulder. "Maybe you and your wife should seek counseling."
"Thank you Superman, I'll do that." Bradley drove away hoping that Superman didn't see his palm sized computer tucked away under his seat.
Lois hung up the phone from her husband. "Perry, Clark just called in. He said that Superman rescued some abused children who were living in a crack house with their strung out mother. He's down at the precinct now, talking to a social worker about placing them together in the same foster home." She paused for a minute and sighed. "You know, it just makes me sick how such unfit people can have children while there are so many loving people who can't." Returning her attention to Clark's story, she finished the last bit of rewriting and hit the 'send' key. "Final corrections on that Fish Scandal piece coming your way, Chief."
Perry walked up to her desk. "You know, sometimes I felt like my kids may have well grown up in a foster home, as far as my involvement with them, always being at work, not spending enough time with them at home."
"Chief, you were a wonderful dad. Your boys knew they could always count on you."
"Well, maybe, I don't know. Now what else is going on with this baa, baa, black sheep stuff you're getting on your computer?"
"This email thing is really getting bizarre. At first I thought it was a joke. But now, it seems too coincidental. Superman's made three rescues that seem to be related to the emails that we've received. Jimmy's been trying to find out who's sending them."
"Lois, I know if anyone can crack this case, it will be you." Perry put his hand on her shoulder. "I'm gonna miss ya, you know."
"Hey Chief, it's not like I'm leaving forever. Think of it as the long vacation I never took." Perry chuckled and retreated to his office.
Lois looked around to find just the people she needed. "Jimmy, Dianne, we've got to figure out who's behind this and fast. Superman says he's had three rescues today that have involved children. And this is the third email from this prankster." Lois flashed back to all of the practical jokes that the Prankster played on Lois and Clark and the rest of Metropolis. "Jimmy! You don't think that the Prankster is out again, do you? Were you able to find out anything about these emails, where they are coming from?"
"I checked with George, the tech service guy for our provider, Metropolis.com. It's coming from someone who subscribes to our server, but that's all they can tell right now. There's no trace route outside the system. As for the Prankster, as far as I know, he's still in for another twenty years."
Clark reappeared about thirty minutes later. He gave Dianne details of Superman's conversation with the Metropolis Police on the situation.
Lois told Clark of her concern about the Prankster, stemming from the conversation she had with Jimmy. "Clark, do *you* think the Prankster's involved somehow?"
"That did kind of occur to me, but I really don't think this is his style. I think there's another motive behind this, other than a practical joke."
Clark, Dianne and Jimmy continued looking into possible suspects of who was possibly staging the accidents to prompt Superman's rescues. Lois continued to work on the mounds of paperwork. The end was beginning to come into view as she could actually see the wood grain of her desk beneath the piles.
The double pastrami and swiss on rye from lunch was making her suddenly thirsty. 'A fountain drink with lots of ice would taste a lot better than a can drink. But if I get a drink *now,* that means more than double the trips to the bathroom this afternoon. Ugh, I can't win.' She sighed, stood and walked over to Clark, where he was working with Dianne. She placed her hands on her husband's broad shoulders, massaging them lightly. A bit of her wanted to be sure to put Dianne in her place.
"I'm going down to the canteen to get a fountain drink. Do you two want anything?" Lois asked.
"What about the drink machine? Then you won't have to walk so far." Clark said as he flashed his beautiful smile to his wife. All of Lois' insecure thoughts about Dianne working with Clark vanished like a puff of smoke.
"No, I need to get up and walk, anyway I want a drink over lots of ice. What can I get you two? Last call!"
"Nothing for me, thanks." Clark turned to Dianne. "Do you want a drink?"
"Yeah, thanks, Lois, a grape soda would be fine."
"Umm, I haven't had one of those in a long time, think I'll make that two. Be back in a couple of minutes, so listen out for my computer in case I get any more emails, okay?"
"Okay," Clark said as his attention returned to the screen and trailed away from the bustling sounds of the news room floor.
Bradley Goose stood undetected by the reporters at a nearby copy machine. Overhearing Lois's conversation with Clark and Dianne, he decided to follow her and he took the back steps down to the lobby floor.
Taking the elevator to the lobby floor to get a drink from company's canteen, Lois walked in and found the steel gate was closed in the food preparation area, blocking the soda fountain and ice machine. The sign said: "Will reopen at 6 p.m."
"What!? People aren't supposed to get thirsty at four o'clock in the afternoon? Great. I guess it's a canned drink after all. They don't have grape in the newsroom though, maybe the machine down in the newsprint storage has some." A few people casually walked by, staring at this woman who was having a private conversation with the steel gate that stood between her and her cup of ice cold grape soda. Lois suddenly noticed and blurted out. "Haven't you ever seen a pregnant lady talking to herself before?" The other employees chose not to reply and kept on walking. Bradley, standing just around the corner, heard Lois ranting and raving and saw this as another opportunity to stage another rescue. He smiled nervously as he pulled out his pocket computer to compose another nursery rhyme.
Lois took the nearby freight elevator as a shortcut down to the newsprint storage room to keep from walking down another two flights of stairs. She walked through the newsprint storage room to the drink machine that was located on the opposite side of the room. Giant rows of one ton newsprint rolls towered above her head like the huge forest from which they originated.
The room bustled with busy workers to the slow steady hums of the tow motors. The drivers worked their way through the rows. Large circular arms of the tow motors gripping the one ton rolls and transporting them from the top of the towering stacks to the reel room. There the rolls would be placed on their sides in rows on the floor, waiting to be loaded on the bottom of the giant web presses, preparing for the next press run. An occasional warning beep was heard as the drivers zipped in and out of the rows of newsprint.
Lois was careful not to step in the path of one. Some of the men working in this room she would talk to on occasion, as this was also a shortcut to the back parking lot. A few of them waved politely as they drove by her.
"How's that baby doing today, Ms. Lane?"
"Oh, just fine, James, won't be too long now."
"Well, you just take it easy walking through here, okay?"
"I sure will, thanks."
She reached the machine on the far side of the room. "Yes! Grape Smash Deluxe, in stock!"
Juggling the two cans, she managed to pop the top, and she brought the cool, bubbly drink to her mouth. She retraced her steps as she read the nutrition label. So intent on the annoying details like calories and sodium intake, she accidentally missed the turn that led to the elevator.
Bradley slipped on some pressman overalls in the locker room, hopped into an empty tow motor and set out to follow Lois.
Lois heard a hum from behind, and then suddenly a blast from the caution horn. The sound startled her and she spilled the grape soda down her white shirt. She spun around to confront the guilty party, and she was momentarily blinded by the bright lights of a tow motor coming straight toward her.
Turning to run, she found herself at a dead end. The rolls were too close together for an escape route. As the tow motor encroached upon her, the circular gripping arm opened, ready to embrace a roll of newsprint.
Lois, unable to see who was driving the machine, tried to jump quickly to the side but her weight shifted, causing her to lose her balance and she fell to her knees. She cursed at the sharp, intense pain that coursed through her body.
Bradley propped a weight on the pedal and exited before Lois could see him, sending the machine straight towards her. Looking up, she saw the arm of the tow motor bearing down upon her.
As she half-rolled to the side, she felt the hard cold metal brush her arm. The tow motor continued to bump into the newsprint, causing the tower of paper to sway above her. Noticing the driver's cage was now abandoned she scrambled inside. Covering her stomach with her head and arms, Lois prayed that the federal safety regulations of the driver's cage would protect her and their unborn child as the massive rolls of newsprint came tumbling down around her.
Clark was working at his desk helping Dianne compile the story when they heard the chime of an email alert. This time it was his computer, not Lois' and he downloaded the message.
*Humpty Dumpty walked through the aisles.
Humpty Dumpty knocked over a huge pile.
All the husbands and all the supermen,
Couldn't rescue Humpty Dumpty again.*
"What the hell is this!?" Clark exclaimed, reading the twisted rhyme.
"What is it, Clark?" Dianne asked, looking up from her notes.
Suddenly Clark's super hearing picked up the sound of a scream and the crashing rolls of newsprint. He glanced towards Lois' desk to see that she had not returned.
"Excuse me, Dianne. I've got to go check on Lois." He raced off.
Clark took the backstairs to the reel room. Transforming into a blue and red blur, he flew into the newsprint storage room, hovering above the falling paper rolls to access the scene. Stacks of newsprint were falling to the ground like giant dominoes around the room. Everyone was running for cover to avoid being crushed to death. Clark could hear a repetitive whining of a tow motor.
"Anyone in here?" Superman called out. James was standing against the wall out of harm's way and replied to Superman.
"Superman. Ms. Lane was just in here getting a drink. I don't know if she went out that way or not." He pointed toward the last direction she was seen walking.
"Lois?!" He started to scan the area with his x-ray vision, when he heard a soft, overwrought cry for help. "Clark!"
He x-rayed through the piles and saw Lois cowering in the cab of the tow motor, the rolls of newsprint precariously balanced above.
"Lois! It's Superman. Listen to me. DON'T MOVE OR TOUCH ANYTHING! Wait until I get everything moved, so it doesn't avalanche!"
Clark could hear the shakiness in her voice, even though she was trying to be brave. Quickly Superman returned the rolls to their previous positions.
Lois felt his strong protective arms carefully pull her from the cab. "Easy, I'm a little stiff," she said softly. They stood close, his arms supporting her as she regained her breath.
"Lois, how? … Never mind, I don't even want to know."
"What?! All I did was go to the drink machine. Next thing I knew, this thing had me pinned against the newsprint. It was *not* my fault."
His brief frustration with her seeming knack of always finding herself in the middle of trouble, quickly turned to concern about her and the baby's safety, as he watched her rub her stomach over and over again. "Are you okay? Let me take you to the doctor."
"Clark, I'm fine, just give me a minute," she whispered to him, not giving away his true identity. She felt the baby roll to the other side and stretch. Clark felt it move against him too. They looked at each other and both gave a sigh of relief.
James and some of the other paper handlers were coming over, to see if Lois was okay. Clark released his embrace on Lois, so as not to arouse any suspicion of their personal relationship.
"Ms. Lane, are you okay?"
Lois nodded an affirmative reply to James as Superman scooped her gently in his arms to take her back to the elevator. "I'm fine guys, really. And I think this guy here … " she patted Superman on the arm, "is the one who's being overprotective."
Superman politely smiled in the company of others, as slowly flew away to the privacy of the freight elevator. Flying even this short distance was a little uncomfortable for Lois. He continued his personal conversation with her when they were out of earshot of the other employees as the elevator doors began to close.
"I know it wasn't your fault, but I don't think it was an accident either. I just got a really bizarre email." As she stood again in the elevator, they gazed into each others eyes. Without words, the impact of the near miss accident suddenly came to their full realization. Superman embraced his wife, burying his head into her hair. He whispered into her ear. "I worry so much about you, and him."
"Her, and besides … you can't be everywhere at once." Clark chimed in on the last sentence. Lois wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on his cheek, then rested her head on his shoulder.
Observing them from a safe distance behind the recycling shredder, Bradley reacted pleasingly at Superman's anguished look during the rescue. He vanished quickly through an outside exit to plan his next course of action. Undetected by Bradley or Superman, Lex's henchmen, who also had observed the incident, made a call to Lex on his cell phone after Bradley had left the room.
"Your speculation was right! Bradley tried to run Lois Lane down, then hid and watched Superman save her. He seemed to have taken some weird form of pleasure, watching Superman's reaction to Lois being in danger."
"I don't know what he's up to, but I want you to keep following him." Lex replied and the phone line went dead. The henchmen continued with his given orders.
Superman escorted Lois to her desk. Perry came storming out of his office to find out why his two top reporters had suddenly disappeared from his newsroom. "Lois, honey are you okay? Superman, what in the name of Elvis happened? Dianne said that Clark flew out of here like there was a five alarm fire!"
"It's okay, Perry, just a few rolls of … " Her voice grew slower and progressively quieter with each set of words. "newsprint … almost fell on top … of me."
"What in the Sam Hill!! Where's Clark?"
Lois looked at Superman, giving him an 'I'm blank, you'll have to take this one' look. Superman spoke to Perry. "He's, uh, downstairs talking to some of the men that were around when it happened, checking their equipment, seeing if there were any witnesses. I'm sure he'll be right back." He suddenly glanced toward the large window in the newsroom, out to the Metropolis skyline. "Sorry, I have to go. I hear a bank alarm. Lois, you take care of yourself and that baby, okay?" Lois smiled at him, knowing of his real plan to make a quick change of identity, and in a blue streak he was gone.
Perry turned his attention back to Lois. "And did you happen to get another one of those anonymous emails?"
Dianne spoke up, "Uh, Clark did, Chief, this time on *his* computer."
Lois and Perry walked over to Dianne and read Clark's monitor. "Oh, my," Lois responded softly. A little taken back, she leaned against Perry's arm for support.
"Lois, you come in my office right now and rest on this couch, or I'm sending you straight for the hospital." Perry led her by the arm into his office as if she was a fiveyear old.
"Really, Chief, I'm too keyed up to lie down. I'm fine."
"Lois, you're going to lie down, now! Don't say another word!" Lois rolled her eyes. Once she settled on the couch, stretching out suddenly seemed like a good idea. The baby started to move gently which assured Lois that everything really was okay." He covered her with a throw and returned to the news room so she would have some peace and quiet. Lois decided that this would be a good time to practice her Lamaze breathing exercises as she could still feel her heart race from the incident. She picked a focus point and started to take long deep breaths. Soon she was calm and relaxed. 'Amazing, they really do work.' Before she realized it, she drifted off to sleep. Clark came running back into the news room to where Perry, Jimmy and Dianne were standing at Clark's desk. "Perry, where's Lois? Didn't Superman bring her back here?"
"She's fine, son, she's in my office. I made her lie down and rest. I think she's taking a little snooze."
Clark walked to Perry's door and looked through the partially open blinds. Lois was comfortably stretched out on the couch. Clark smiled contentedly as he listened to both heartbeats making a smooth rhythmic sound. How could this beautiful woman who was carrying their child be the same one who made him so mad that he ripped the hinges off of this very door last year? 'I'll let you sleep, but only a short nap,' he thought. 'Because I know if I don't wake you up soon, I'll never hear the end of it.'
Dianne was trying to put all of these strange events together in her head. As Clark returned to his desk she stood up with concern and determination on her face.
"All right, Clark, this is my first break at doing investigative reporting instead of feature writing. I want to know how you and Lois do this."
"You know, *this*!" She pointed out all of the notes of the details of Superman's rescues. "The two of you constantly have the scoop on Superman. And how did you know that Lois was in trouble downstairs?"
"Well, the email had some pretty obvious clues."
"I know, but how is it that you are always in the same place as Superman to get the exclusive?"
The conversation was making Clark a little nervous, not knowing what direction it was heading as Dianne continued her personal interrogation. "If I'm going to be partnered with you, next time you let me know so I can get in on the act. Deal?"
Her determination and feistiness reminded him a little of Lois when he first met her. But she didn't have the fire in her eyes that his wife did, when she smelled a story brewing.
"OK, but there's no secret Bat Symbol or anything. I think it's just that since Lois and I were the first ones to report on Superman, we've developed a mutual trust of reporting on his actions, accurately and truthfully. Let's go back down to newsprint storage. I'll show you the tow motor and where Superman told me that Lois was trapped. Superman said he didn't seem to find anything immediately out of the ordinary, but maybe we can question some of the paper handlers again to see if there were any other details."
Putting her interrogation to rest, Dianne jumped up at the opportunity to talk to other witnesses and raced ahead of Clark to the elevator. "Sounds great, let's go."
Lois awoke about ten minutes after Clark and Dianne had left. Perry was sitting at his desk, working. She seemed a little disoriented at first.
"You okay, honey?"
"Yeah," she sat up slowly. "I had the wackiest dream. All of these huge rolls of newsprint were falling through the air like a big domino game."
"Honey, I'm afraid that wasn't a dream."
As she sat up, the incident in the newsprint storage room came back to her vividly. "Oh, wow, you're right. I've got to go find out … " She tried to stand but couldn't get her balance right to stand up from the soft, deep sofa. "Dammit, I'm so tired of not being able to move. I feel like a beached whale."
Perry walked over to give her a hand. "Now wait a doggone minute Lois, you're not going anywhere except straight to your desk."
"Clark and Dianne went back downstairs to talk to James again. You're staying right here like I promised Clark. Now you were lucky this time, but I'm not letting you take any more chances."
"Don't *but* me … now go back to your desk. That's an order!"
"Perry, I don't need you to baby-sit me while some rookie reporter from another department works on a story about me with my husband!"
"Lo-is. Do I detect a note of jealousy?"
Lois realized how childish her last comment sounded. "No, Perry, just frustration. I'm just having a hard time letting go."
"I know, Lois. Don't worry, everything will work out just fine. Now, you just go back to your desk. See if Jimmy has found out anything more about who the nutcase is that's sending those emails."
By the look on Perry's face, she could tell she wasn't going to win this battle. Slipping her shoes on, Lois dejectedly went back to her desk. Jimmy wasn't around either, and the baby magazine looked much more interesting than the remaining files that still needed attending to. She chose to continue reading the article that she had started yesterday in the doctor's office. Soon she heard Dianne's voice as she and Clark stepped off of the elevator.
"Why would this person be staging rescues of children? And what is he trying to prove by putting children's lives in danger so Superman can rescue them? It must be awfully hard on him, emotionally."
Without looking up from her article, Lois responded as they walked by. "Yeah, Dianne, I'm sure it is hard for Superman."
Lois' response took Clark a little off guard. His thoughts were focused on a lead weight that he found on the floor, near a roll of newsprint. He hadn't noticed that Lois had returned to her desk.
"Lois, honey, how do you feel? Are you hurt in any way?" He reached down and gave her a tender kiss as he placed his hand on her belly.
She opened her eyes as the kiss ended and saw the concerned look in his dark eyes. "We're fine, really."
Assured that Lois was all right, Clark stood and returned to his desk, expounding on Lois' comment as he did so. "Even Superman's emotions seem to run high when children are involved. I can really identify with him. With our baby almost here, I seem to be worrying constantly whether I can protect him or her. Superman always seems to be there when we need him, but he can't be everywhere."
Lois knew that even though Clark's words were physically directed toward Dianne, they were meant for her. The strong words pulled at her heartstrings, as the tears welled in her eyes. She knew of his fears of something happening to his family, not being able to be there if they needed him. She flipped through the pages of the baby magazine faster and faster to take her mind off of his last comment. As she turned the pages, however, a subscription ad caught her eye. A familiar face on a past cover photo merged in her memory with the face of the unfamiliar worker that she had seen in the newsroom, earlier in the day.
Clark and Dianne both answered, puzzled. "What do mean, it's him? Who?"
"I've seen this man before! He used to be an associate of Dr. McGrath's, back when I first started going to her in college!"
"You mean you've seen him as a patient?"
"No, I mean I've seen him in this building! Clark, he's the guy who delivered the mail earlier this morning!"
"Lois, a prominent physician wouldn't have a part time job delivering mail at the Planet."
"As a matter of fact, not only did he deliver the mail, but the faxes, and I think the supplies. Look at his face!"
Lois showed the photo in the magazine to Clark and Dianne. Dianne recognized his face as well. "Lois, I saw him over at the files before lunch … and he was putting toner in the copy machine, right before you went to get a drink!"
The three of them yelled in unison, "Jimmy!!"
Jimmy had just come out of the darkroom. "Right here. What's up?"
Clark used his magnification vision to read the very small, blurred print that was in the reproduced article. It read 'Dr. Bradley Goose, New Fertilization Breakthroughs.' "Jimmy, find out everything you can doctors who specialize in fertilization and see if there's one named … " Lois interjected his name before Clark spouted out a really lame excuse.
"Dr. Bradley Goose."
"Ah, sure." Jimmy replied as he saw Lois and Clark smile at each other.
"One of these days I'm going to figure out how you do that." Jimmy turned to go back to his computer, then spun back around to Lois, Clark and Dianne with a grin on his face. "Now you aren't sending me on some wild goose chase are you?"
"Bad Jimmy." Clark chuckled and popped him with the rubber band that he had been toying with throughout the conversation.
Dianne spoke to Lois and Clark. "How did you two know what his name was?" Lois knew the answer because she saw Clark lower his glasses. She jumped in and replied before Clark could say anything. "I remembered his name from the practice." Clark then replied. "I thought I remembered seeing his name, when I was gathering some research notes about fertilization." He picked up on Lois' uneasy feeling about this conversation getting a little too personal. "Uh, it was for a friend of mine, back home in Kansas." Lois continued to wonder how Goose fit in all of this.
"Clark, why would he be in the building doing different jobs, unless he was … "
"Spying on us?"
"You don't think he has anything to do with sending those email messages do you?" Dianne asked.
"I don't know," Clark replied as he chewed on the end of his pencil, contemplating Bradley's role in all of this. "I found a lead block downstairs that may have been used to hold the gas pedal of the tow motor. I'm going to take it to the station, have it dusted for fingerprints."
Jimmy returned rather quickly, not gathering very much information.
"There's not much in the computer data files on a Bradley Goose. I did find his daughter's obit from a year and a half ago. Goose and his wife were driving in an ice storm when they lost control of the car and slid into the river. They survived, but their daughter, Meredith, didn't. The car seat proved to be defective. The seat belt jammed and they couldn't get her out in time. Unfortunately, she drowned."
"That's so sad," Lois responded softly. "Anything more?"
"I found another story in the National Inquisitor from just a couple of months ago. He wrote an editorial and sent it to their Hits and Picks column, about how Superman seems to pick and choose his rescues, and how he judges who's worthy of his super feats."
Clark could feel his anger rising. "That's a bunch of bull." Lois noticed his pencil, which he had idly been chewing on, was down almost to a nub. Her eyes grew wide, signaling him to hide the pencil that he had almost devoured out of frustration.
Jimmy continued. "He seems to blame his daughter's death on Superman not coming to her rescue in time."
"You don't think he would do these twisted things to get back at Superman, do you?" Dianne asked.
"I don't know." Clark returned. "I think there's definitely a connection somewhere. It's just too much of a coincidence that this man keeps showing up around the building. Anything else, Jimmy?"
"Well, there was a reference note to an article that ran about eight or nine years ago. It seems that Dr. Goose was accused of causing women to miscarry while he was practicing obstetrics. I couldn't locate that article electronically. That's before we started our computerized archives."
Perry emerged from his office. "How's this story coming, folks? Any leads yet?"
"Well, Lois and Dianne recognized a photo of a former obstetrician in an issue of the Metropolis Baby Talk as the same man that's been doing odd jobs around here today: mail clerk, delivery person, copy machine technician."
Perry chuckled. "You mean to tell me that a doctor in Metropolis is moonlighting here at the Daily Planet?"
"No, Chief, I think he's watching us. I think he's using us as bait for alerting Superman."
Perry picked up the magazine and looked at the picture. "Great shades of Elvis! Bradley Goose!"
"You know him, Chief?"
"About nine years ago, when we were understaffed in the newsroom, I covered his trial. He was indicted with causing some of his patients to miscarry. He was charged with murder and malpractice. Damn thing is, even though several of his patients testified against him, he was acquitted, supposedly from lack of evidence. He hasn't appeared in public that I know of since then."
"Until now." Lois responded as a cold chill ran through her and she protectively caressed her unborn child.
Perry looked at his watch. "Look kids, it's been a hectic afternoon. Let's break for dinner; I'm buying."
Lois had already lost her appetite at the news of why Bradley Goose was brought to trial and the last thing she wanted was to go to one of Perry's dives to eat a greasy, fat laden dinner. "Thanks, but no. I don't think I can handle 'Bo's Ribs and Rinds' or much of anything else right now."
Clark put his arm around Lois. "I think we'll stick around here, Perry. I want to see if I can find out more on this Dr. Goose guy. Also if he is setting us up to make the connection to Superman, I want to make sure we're here so we can get the word to him. Dianne, you and Jimmy go on. Lois and I can handle it for a while."
Dianne and Jimmy left with Perry. The news room was quiet as Lois and Clark were among the few remaining at the dinner hour.
Mary Goose looked at her husband as he nervously hung up the phone. "Who was that on the phone dear?"
"Mr. Luthor. He wants me to meet him at the laboratory in five minutes."
"Sounds urgent. Is everything OK?"
"Uh, yeah. He wants to go over some notes I left for him to study." He grabbed his briefcase and ran out the door.
Mary Goose wasn't totally naive and she didn't believe his excuse for a minute. She saw a piece of paper flutter unnoticed by her husband, from his pocket to the floor . Picking it up, she read his scribbled notes. Among them was Lois Lane and Clark Kent's email addresses.
Bradley Goose did indeed return to the laboratory, but not for the reasons he told his wife. He sat nervously as Lex Luthor paced back and forth in front of him.
"So Bradley, you said something about needing some personal time off. Are you feeling a lot of stress from your research? Do I need to allocate more money in the budget for new equipment?"
"No, Mr. Luthor. It's not the research. After that last purchase, I feel that we are still on the cutting edge of technology. It's something … more personal."
"Could that personal problem have a color code of say … red and blue?"
Bradley looked a little puzzled. "Excuse me, sir?"
Lex stopped in front of Bradley. "Does it have to do with Superman?"
Bradley wasn't sure how to answer, but felt sure that Lex was always very thorough, and he did not want to be caught as one who lied to Lex Luthor.
"Yes,sir, it is." Bradley continued to tell Lex of his feeling of vengeance that he had towards Superman, for the death of his daughter. As he told of his suspicion of Lois Lane, Lex reached down and grabbed Goose by the collar. "I heard about the little accident you staged this afternoon, with Lois Lane." He leaned closer and stared coldly into Goose's eyes. "If she is harmed in any way, I can promise you I will pluck each and every hair from your head, and boil you alive, *Goose*!" Lex threw him back into the chair and walked over to a box sitting on the counter. Shaking, Bradley didn't know whether to stay or run for his life. As Lex turned around, his face took on a completely different personality. One of pleasantness, confidence, power.
"If it's Superman you want, well then, I'll make you a deal."
Lois sat in a chair next to Clark's desk, munching on a Nutri Grain Bar, while resting her swollen ankles in his lap. Clark was massaging her feet as he read over the online article that Jimmy had found about the death of Meredith Goose.
"Clark, you don't really think this Goose guy has a revenge thing for you, do you? Do you think he knows, you know, about you, us?"
"No, I think maybe somehow he just knows that we can get in touch with Superman pretty easily. This online article gives a reference to the date of another article that hasn't been posted on the archives site yet. I'll go to the paper morgue and see if we can find the back issue that has the article from Goose's trial." He stood up and looked at his wife. "Stay here, please. It won't take long."
"No, wait, Clark. I want to go with you. You never know where he might show up next."
They took the elevator down two floors and walked down the hall to the paper morgue, next to the pressroom. Nicknamed the morgue, the room was a large storage area with rows and rows of back issues of the Daily Planet. Library ladders on tracks gave easy access to the high shelves which held past copies of newspapers filed by date.
They walked in through the double doors into the dim room. Lois stopped momentarily to catch her breath. "I'll wait here, Clark." The aisles seemed to stretch further into the darkness than she cared to walk.
"Okay, it's dated 1989. It's probably in the middle racks. I'll be right back." Clark chose to briskly walk at human speed, to avoid spreading the papers around like a whirlwind.
Lois stood next to the freight elevator door. She grew nervous for a moment, as the light from the small window appeared, signaling the arrival of the cab.
'Get a grip girl, it's probably just the maintenance crew.' Lois thought to herself as she nervously looked down the aisle. ' What's taking Clark so long, the paper must be way in the back,' she thought. 'Maybe this article will provide some clue or connection to what's going on.'
The horizontal doors opened and a man stepped off the elevator dressed in dark green coveralls with the Daily Planet logo on the chest pocket. Lois glanced at him. A strong shadow from the light inside the cab, fell across his face, hiding his features. She glanced back toward the aisles to look for Clark, when something cold and hard suddenly pressed against her spine. As she let out a short, alarmed breath, Clark seemed to instantly reappear from around the corner.
"Stop! Don't come any closer, Mr. Kent." Goose called out as he pressed the gun harder into Lois' back, causing her to flinch.
"Bradley Goose." Clark's eyes narrowed, recognizing the man in front of him, as the same man that was in the front page article and in the car in red light district.
Bradley motioned for the two of them to step into the freight elevator. He followed them inside, holding them at gun point.
Lois also reminded him of his other aliases. "You're also the one who delivered my mail, and those office supplies."
Clark looked at him coldly. "Says here, Goose, that you were charged in several attempts to cause pregnant mothers to miscarry."
"All my research, all my efforts, were only benefiting strangers. Seeing these women daily, elated with their impending motherhood, while my own wife and I couldn't conceive a child of our own … "
"How could you take the life of an innocent child? Take a child away from its parents?" Clark snapped back.
While Bradley's attention was focused on Clark, Lois tried to move toward the door on the opposite side. Bradley became agitated and motioned for her and Clark to hold their hands higher into the air.
"I couldn't let those mothers have those babies. I couldn't let them have the joy that was taken away from me and my wife. I couldn't go on practicing, giving these women the technological advances enabling them to conceive, when none of my theories could help my own wife."
Lois felt her knees weaken at his sinister words. "Look, Dr. Goose, whatever it is you're after … it can't be worth risking the life of innocent children across Metropolis."
"Shut up. How would you know, you probably had no trouble getting pregnant." Lois and Clark glanced at each other, remembering all the trials and tribulations about not being able to conceive. Bradley continued his verbal confession. "Finally we conceived a beautiful daughter. Our Meredith, so beautiful, so full of life."
Bradley lowered the elevator and stopped it between the second and third floor. He waved his gun back and forth between Lois and Clark to keep them at bay. Clark was ready to spring at super speed if Bradley fired his gun.
Tears formed in Bradley's eyes as he continued his story. "We couldn't get her out of the car seat when our car went in the river. The seat belt jammed and we couldn't get her out before it was too late." His eyes turned to rage and he started to shake and wave his gun erratically, as the tone in his voice grew stronger. "And where was Superman? He didn't come to her rescue. He let us down, he let my little daughter down. Superman let her die. I have nothing left to lose."
Clark felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. He knew that he couldn't be everywhere at once, but that didn't always take away the guilt, especially when an innocent child lost its life.
"After Meredith died, I lost everything. EVERYTHING! I'm going to show Superman how that feels. I have to make him realize how crucial it is to rescue every child that's in trouble. It's all *his* fault, you know!"
Lois couldn't believe the words of this madman. "So you're the one who sent those sick nursery rhymes to Clark and me. You staged these calamities, so we would get the word to Superman. What are you, some twisted Father Goose?"
Bradley was getting more and more irritated at Lois' accusations. His deep-seated anger and opinions of her, made him not take heed of Lex Luthor's warning to keep her out of harm's way. Clark was trying to gradually move over closer to Lois, when suddenly Bradley aimed the gun directly at her. "And it's your fault too that Meredith died, Ms. Lane!"
"NO!" Clark yelled, fearing that he would pull the trigger and protectively stepped in front of his wife. "Bradley, you don't want to do this. Lois has done nothing to you."
"What do you mean it was all *my* fault?" Lois exclaimed, and she stepped out from behind Clark to confront him, but Clark put his hand out to stop her.
"Superman didn't save our daughter because he was too busy in bed with *you!*"
Lois' mouth dropped open and a look of fury mingled with astonishment crossed her face as he finished his verbal assault. "What??!"
"Your wife couldn't keep out of Superman's bed, and because of it, he didn't come to rescue our daughter and she died! Now it's your turn!"
Clark's emotion turned to rage, and he pushed her protectively back behind him, regardless of Bradley's threat. "That was a set-up, Goose."
"And you believe everything that boy scout in spandex says? Boy, are you gullible, Kent. I've read the stories of how Superman's always coming to his mistress', uh, excuse me, your wife's rescue."
Goose was trying to toy with Clark's emotions. Clark was afraid that if Goose fired, the bullet would ricochet off of him, possibly hitting his wife.
"And when Superman is lured to come to his mistress' rescue, I'll greet him with this!" Bradley pulled a small box out of his overalls. "And watch *him* suffer as he watches me kill two of his closest friends, right in front of his very eyes."
Bradley momentarily took his eyes off of them as he began to open the box.
Clark was afraid he knew what the contents had in store for him, and took Bradley's slight distraction as an opportunity to whisk the gun from him and make their escape. Clark lunged just as Goose unveiled a medium chunk of roughly cut Kryptonite.
Goose's reflexes were quick, however, and he struck the already weakened Clark with the Kryptonite.
Clark's superpowers quickly diminished with the direct exposure and he felt the rough edge of the meteor tear into the flesh of his forehead. Clark clutched his head and fell to his knees, as the excruciating pain seared through his body. When Goose hit him in the head once more with the butt of the pistol, Clark dropped completely to the floor, struggling to stay conscious.
Lois watched in horror at the sight of her husband in distress, blood pouring down his forehead over his eyes and glasses from the wound on his head.
"Clark!! Oh my God, are you all right?!" Lois dropped to her knees at her husband's side. She put her ear to his chest to see if he was breathing.
Goose reached down to see if Clark was still a threat to him. As the Kryptonite in his hand came closer to her stomach, the baby began kicking hard. Lois gasped at the surprise and clutched her stomach. Clark heard her cry out and tried to reach his arm toward her.
Bradley yelled into the air. "Okay, Superman. Come to your friends' rescue! Superman!"
"Lois?!" Clark's voice was weak and faltering.
"Clark, I'm okay." She took short quick breaths that her Lamaze coach had taught her to help ease the pain. "It's the baby, Clark. It's kicking. Hard!"
Lois had always been able to get Kryptonite away from Clark in the past. With its continued presence, she had never seen it affect him as badly as this. He was losing a lot of blood, more than ever before, and she could tell he was fading in and out of consciousness. Lois cradled his head on her legs and put the edge of her shirt against his wound, to stop the bleeding. The baby kicked against the side of his head which made him yell out in agony.
"Oh, God, I'm sorry." She moved back slightly, but continued to hold his head, attending to his wound. It looked for a moment like he was gone. "Clark, hang on! … Don't you die on me! … Please!"
Bradley was getting frustrated with the absence of Superman. "So where is he?!" He started to pace back and forth in front of the fallen reporter. "Maybe he's with some other slut somewhere."
The derogatory remark about his wife brought him back to consciousness. "Don't … call … her … " As Goose walked past, Clark managed to grab him by one ankle, but Goose turned and kicked Clark in his side. He aimed the gun at Clark and cocked the trigger. Lois' scream echoed off the walls and carried throughout the elevator shaft.
Jimmy, Dianne and Perry were returning to the newsroom from dinner when they heard the email chime of Lois' computer. Jimmy downloaded the message.
Lois and Clark walked arm and arm to fetch a back copy of the dailies Clark got whacked, and grimaced in horror. And poor Lois and child will never see tomorrow.
Jimmy couldn't believe his eyes. "Perry!! Come look at this!"
"Great Shades Of Elvis! What the hell is going on here!"
Suddenly Mary Goose came running into the news room hysterical to find anyone that could help her. She ran up to Perry and Jimmy, grabbing them by the sleeves to get their attention. "You've got to stop him!" she screamed.
"Ma'am, please," Perry said curtly. "We have an emergency here."
"No, you don't understand. I think my husband is out to kill Superman. He's vowed to take revenge for Superman not rescuing our daughter. I don't know the connection, but I think your reporters might be involved and in danger." Mary Goose looked at the computer screen and realized that maybe it was too late.
Jimmy studied the email for a moment. "Clark was trying to find a back issue to read about this doctor … "
Mary Goose pointed to the page in the baby magazine that had her husband's picture on it. "That's my husband, Bradley Goose." Mary pulled out the crumpled paper that she had found. "I don't know if there's a connection, but I found their email addresses on a piece of paper that Bradley dropped. I'm afraid that he might have sent this message. He's a very sick man."
Jimmy and Perry took off down the back stairs toward the paper morgue, with Mary Goose close behind. The room was quiet and the lights dimmed. It seemed deserted. The 'In Use' light on the elevator was on.
"Bradley must have them down there." Perry pushed the button but only the bell sounded, the cab didn't budge. "The emergency stop must be on."
Jimmy banged on the large metal doors. "Lois! Clark! Are you alright?" He looked around for something to pry the doors open.
Mary Goose caught up to them. "If he hears you, it might send him over the edge."
"She's right Jimmy. We've got to play it safe. I'll go call the police. Where in the Sam Hill is Superman?" Perry ran out the door, back upstairs to the news room.
Just then, two pressmen approached, attracted by all of the commotion.
"What's going on in here! We thought we heard someone scream."
"We've got to get in that elevator! Lois and Clark are being held by a … "
Jimmy didn't need to finish his statement.
Just then, the sound of a gunshot echoed through the chamber.
Bradley had fired a warning shot through the roof to alert Superman. "So where the hell is he? Ms. Lane, doesn't he always comes to your rescue? Scream! Scream 'Help Superman'. Now!"
Through her tears she could see Clark laying in a pool of blood, struggling in pain to breathe. Between the loss of blood and the Kryptonite, she knew they didn't have much more time.
Hank, one of the Daily Planet press operators had an emergency key to open the elevator doors. There was a maintenance ladder on the side of the shaft wall. Hank and the other pressman Ron, quickly scaled down the ladder to the elevator cage below. Jimmy started to follow, but Perry returned just in time to stop him. "Now, just a minute. With your latest brush with death, no way are you going down there. The S.W.A.T. team's on its way."
Bradley put the gun to Lois' head in attempt to scare her into calling for Superman, but she was so distraught that she could only manage a squeak. Angry, Goose grabbed Lois' arm, roughly pulling her away from Clark. Lois gasped as the Kryptonite came close to her stomach once again, and Goose finally put two and two together.
He attempted to bring the Kryptonite to her belly once more, eyes narrowing as Lois jerked violently away from him in an attempt to escape. "Now why would a woman fear a little rock unless she is carrying Superman's baby?" he asked in an evil voice. "Soooo, the affair wasn't so alleged after all. Well, Mr. Kent, it looks as though you'll probably have a few words for Superman too. IF HE EVER COMES!"
"Get … away … from … her," Clark said to Bradley through ragged breaths. "Don't make … my wife and child another one of your … victims." His vision was becoming blurred, all he could see was Lois clutching her abdomen in the corner. "Superman's … not … coming. I'm the one you want. I'm Superman."
Lois continued to breath short quick breaths, putting her focus point on her husband. She looked shocked at his confession. "Clark, no!"
"You! Well, well, well, Mr. Kent, you don't look so super to me." Bradley laughed. He knelt down next to Clark, and laughed gleefully as the close proximity of the Kryptonite caused Clark to groan in pain. "So you *are* Superman. Then the little rescues I staged proved to be an even better lesson in protecting your own child. This is turning out better than I thought."
A greedy smile turned to rage. "Why didn't you save my child, Superman? Why?!?" He screamed as he grabbed Clark by his shirt, and shook him. "You didn't save my child, and now you're not going to be able to save your own."
Goose released Clark and aimed the gun at Lois' stomach. Lois pleaded with him, looking down the barrel of Bradley's gun. "Superman didn't cause your daughter to die. He can't be everywhere at once! Please! *No*!"
"Say good-bye, Ms. Lane."
Lois closed her eyes and kicked up with one leg as far as her stomach would allow. Striking Bradley hard in the kneecap, it sent him reeling backward in profuse pain.
Clark's strength was completely gone. The crying, yelling and screaming kept echoing in his head. He tried but couldn't get over to Lois in time to protect her. The last thing he remembered before losing consciousness was Lois' scream, Bradley's yell and the sound of another gunshot ringing out. *Lois!!* his mind screamed and darkness fell.
Just then, the trap door on top of the cab swung down as Hank and Ron jumped into the cage, distracting Goose's aim even more. His shot embedded in the back wall of the elevator, missing Lois. Before Goose could get off another shot, Hank and Jimmy were on top of him, wrestling him to the ground. As the gunman landed on the floor, the gun in his hand discharged one last time, killing him instantly.
Jimmy, unable to heed Perry's wishes, came down into the elevator cab. "Lois! CK! Are you all right?" He helped Lois get up and over to Clark who was now unconscious.
"CK!" Jimmy called out to his friend but Clark didn't respond. "Lois, is he dead?"
"I don't know Jimmy, he's lost a lot of blood. Goose hit him in the head with the gun." Lois glanced towards Goose and saw the Kryptonite had fallen from his hand to the back corner.
"Jimmy, that's Kryptonite in the corner. Get it out of here, now!" Lois was trying hard to keep the panic out of her voice, but it was difficult knowing how dangerous the rock was to both her husband and unborn child. "Superman could show up any minute, and we don't want to expose him," she added at the end, hoping it was enough to cover her growing desperation.
"Okay, sure," Jimmy picked it up and was tossing it around in his hand. The baby started to stretch and kick again. The pain against her already bruised ribcage, threatened to overcome Lois and she used short, quick breaths to ease the pain.
"Lois!! Are you OK? Is the baby coming?!"
Lois shook her head no as the baby started to still. "No, I'm fine, just please take that to STAR Labs *now*!" Jimmy started to give it to Hank to take out of the elevator.
"No, Jimmy, I want *you* to personally take it to STAR Labs, and give it to Dr. Klein. I want to be sure it doesn't get into the wrong hands, again."
The S.W.A.T. team called out before descending down the shaft. Jimmy called out to tell them that it was over. He took off the emergency stop and the cab returned to the upper floor.
"I've got to call an ambulance, CK's been hurt, bad." Jimmy said as he rushed past them.
"They're already here, Jimmy. Judas Priest. Lois, are you okay?" Perry asked looking at Lois who was covered in Clark's blood.
She was so upset that all she could do was nod. With the Kryptonite gone, the baby was calm and still. Her voice broke and tears began to flow again as she held her husband. She was sure with the absence of the Kryptonite, that he would have started recovering quickly, but he was still unconscious. "Clark's dying. Somebody help him."
"Bradley!!" Mary saw her husband slumped on the floor. She broke down with the realization that he was dead and went to his side. Henderson sent a fellow detective to comfort the grieving wife.
Suddenly, Clark began to moan and stir as he tried to open his eyes. His vision was still blurry and the ringing in his head wouldn't stop. He called out for his wife who he could not see. A soft but shaking hand lovingly caressed the side of his face as she replaced his blood covered glasses with the soft handkerchief from his back pocket.
"You're alive. Oh, God, Clark, you're alive. I'm right here, shhh, right here." She placed another handkerchief that Perry had given her, to the wound which had now stopped bleeding. She shielded his eyes and forehead from his coworkers, in case Clark started regaining his powers and healed to quickly. There was too big of an audience to see that. "I'm okay Clark, I'm okay. You just lay still. There are a lot of people around," she whispered to him.
Two ambulances were waiting at the entrance of the Daily Planet. One headed for Metropolis General Emergency Room, one to carry Goose's body to the morgue. Lois rode in the ambulance next to Clark as they tended his head wound. With his forehead bruised and with his eye almost swollen shut, the attendants didn't recognize him as Superman, even without his glasses. She attempted to pull his matted hair down on his forehead. Quietly concerned that the swelling and large bruise remained after this amount of time, she thought that there were maybe some slivers of Kryptonite still in his wound. Going by the loss of blood, the attendants were preparing Clark for the need of possible stitches when they arrived at the hospital. When they finished cleaning the wound, they noticed that it had practically self healed. Lois interjected her own theory. "Oh, he's just a free-bleeder. One little scratch and you would think he was cut to the bone."
In the emergency room, Lois was placed on a fetal stress monitor. An internal exam showed that she hadn't dilated any further than the two centimeters from her previous doctor's visit. The baby wasn't showing any signs of stress and the heartbeat was steady and normal. The doctors encouraged her to stay, but she insisted on going home to be with her husband. Perry said that he and Jimmy would help Dianne finish the article for the morning edition. Lois filled Jimmy, Dianne and Inspector Henderson in on the details of the incident in the elevator while Clark insisted to the emergency room attendants that stitches were not needed, that he was fine and all he need was to just wrap his head with a bandage.
As they were preparing to leave, Mary Goose approached them.
"Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent, I'm so sorry for the pain that my husband caused you. He was a very sick man. I never knew that he would turn so violent. I'm sorry."
Clark politely smiled back. "I'm sorry for you too, ma'am, and I'm sorry about the loss of your daughter."
"Oh, and please tell Superman if you see him, that I don't hold a grudge against him. Bradley put Superman at fault for our daughter's death, for not rescuing her. I know it wasn't his fault. He can't be everywhere at once. We have to be thankful for the lives that he is able to save." As she turned to walk away, she stopped and faced Lois. "And Ms. Lane, I know those tabloid stories weren't true. It's obvious that you care very much for your husband. Please take care."
"Thank you, Mrs. Goose."
The mantel clock chimed 2 a.m. when Lois and Clark finally returned to the townhouse. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, Clark removed the bandage. The majority of the effects of the Kryptonite had worn off, his forehead showing a mere shadow of the former bruise and swelling. After sharing a long, warm shower, they climbed into bed and turned out the light.
Lois lay her head on the pillow, and immediately her nose became stuffy and she reacted with frustration.
"Aaaagghh! I'm so tired of not being able to breath at night when I lay down to go to sleep. I know I've been crying, but it's been like this every night for the last month. Clark, can you please reach the tissue?"
Clark turned on the light. Realizing the box was empty, he slowly rose to go back to the bathroom to get some more. His head started to throb, and he held his hand to his forehead. "Oww." He sat back down on the bed.
"Oh, honey, I didn't realize your head still hurt. I'll get it." She got up herself and went to the bathroom for some more tissue. When she walked back into the bedroom, she noticed Clark sitting up on the side of the bed, his eyes closed, his face cradled in his palms.
"You okay?" She stood in front of him, gently caressing his aching head.
Clark looked up to her, his eyes glistening with unshed tears in the moonlight. "I know what Mary Goose said, but Lois, did I let their daughter die? Do I become so entranced in your spell, when I make love to you, that I completely tune out everything else?" He reached up to caress her cheek in his loving manner.
"Well, that's what I would like to think I do to you." Lois started to joke, but realized that this was really bothering Clark when she didn't see a return smile from him.
"Lois, was it the night you and I were at Chateau Roberge?"
"Actually, Clark, I had Jimmy check the date on the death certificate on Meredith Goose. It was after our weekend getaway. You were in Los Angeles, helping the victims of the mud slides caused by El Nino. It wasn't because of us. But even if it was that weekend, you were *not* responsible. You can't take this on yourself."
"I don't think I've ever been so scared, or felt so helpless as I did tonight. After rescuing all of these children lately, then Bradley almost killing you … " He reached out. Caressing her stomach, he felt a little kick in return. "And our baby." His throat closed for a moment. Blinking away the encroaching tears, he lay his head against her stomach.
"Clark, the baby kicked wildly when the Kryptonite was near me. Do you think it was just stress from the whole trauma, or could the baby have had a reaction to the Kryptonite?"
"I don't know, Lois." Clark was quiet for a moment, his mind trying to compose a million thoughts he wanted to convey to his wife. "Lois, when I first came to Metropolis, I had no idea what the future would hold. I dreamt of finding a place … a place where I could fit in and grow. Then I met you."
Lois smiled at him and stroked the side of his cheek, wiping a stray tear from the corner of his eye. "Shhh, Clark. I know what you're going to say. It's okay. Let's just lie down and try to get some sleep."
"No, Lois, I need to say this." He looked back into her eyes. "Right after I met you, I fell in love with you. I so hoped that you would be a part of my future. But there were many times when I almost gave up on that future. On us."
Lois squeezed his hand tightly.
"But when that future stepped closer, became more real after you said you would marry me, I never thought anything in the world could be better." He unbuttoned the lower part of her gown to stroke her stomach with his warm hand. He felt the baby push back against him. "Now you are pregnant with our child, a child conceived out of our love. A child that will carry on a part of my Kryptonian heritage that myself, mom and dad, and probably Lara and JorEl, weren't so sure would ever be. Life, truly can't be better than this."
Lois swiped at her escaping tears, touched by his heart-felt words.
"Lois, if anything happened to you, and him, I don't know if I could go on, I love the two of you so much."
"Oh, Clark." Tears of happiness trickled down her cheeks.
They embraced as their tears began to flow more freely. Clark tenderly wiped her tears away, and captured her lips in a soft, loving kiss. As the kiss lingered, it literally began taking her breath away, and she gently pushed him away.
"Sorry," she panted. "I couldn't breathe. Clark, what did I ever do to deserve you .. . this." She took his hand and placed it on her stomach. Together they felt their baby move gently. "I'm the luckiest woman in the universe."
Though his head continued to throb, he gently scooped her in his arms and placed her into the bed. Clark rained a trail of kisses down her neck, across her breast, to her tummy. Featherlight kisses danced around a belly button that was now threatening to lose all resemblance of its former self. He placed his ear to her stomach and listened to the strong, fast, rhythmic heartbeat of their new life. A new existence. A new love. A larger, steady heartbeat took over and he glanced at his wife who was fast asleep. He buttoned up her gown and helped her to roll on her left side. Tucking the supportive pillows under her stomach, against her back and between her knees, he kissed her cheek and turned out the light. Soon inner peace prevailed and he too, drifted to sleep.
Cigar smoke in paisley patterns curled through the air of the study, rising above a leather wing chair. The phone rang five or six times before he chose to answer it.
"Well done. I see the Kryptonite was delivered to Dr. Goose as planned. Yes, I received a call from my source at the hospital moments ago, of his death … He was just a pawn, a player to move one step closer to eliminating Superman … A delicate and unstable mind is a terrible thing to take advantage of, don't you think … ? Goose failed in his attempt to kill Superman. Your next mission is to retrieve the missing Kryptonite. When you do, you will receive payment by courier drop."
He quietly put down the receiver and took another long drag on the cigar. The hospital informant also gave him a report about the condition of Lane and Kent. Beth entered the study. "Was that the informant on the phone? Did you find out what Bradley was up to?"
A glimmer twinkled in his eye as the smoke curled above him. "Shall we retire for the evening, my dear?" Lex rose and embraced his wife as they walked to their bedroom. The future looked more promising with the pending birth of the child of Lois Lane and Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman.
Lois Lane read aloud the headline of the morning edition of the Daily Planet. "Former prominent obstetrician, Bradley Goose, dead after kidnapping and murder attempt."
"Well, it looks like Dianne did an okay job for a rookie investigative reporter."
"Yeah, that's one story I'm glad we didn't have to finish. I think we were a little too close to it."
Clark placed a breakfast tray of yogurt, personally picked fresh fruit from the tropics, and a beautiful yellow orchid next to Lois as he climbed back in bed. As she leaned into his kiss they were interrupted, as always, by the ring of the telephone. Lois picked up the receiver as she smiled at the morning menu. "Hello?"
"Oh, hi, Perry, yes, we're fine. Well, we talked to Superman this morning. He apologized for not being in the area, he was in a remote part of the Alps where an avalanche was threatening a ski village." Lois smiled at Clark, as she held up two crossed fingers. "Yes, I guess this is one time where I'm glad he didn't come to our rescue, that was a pretty big piece of Kryptonite … Clark's fine, that cut on his head is still pretty sore, but I think he'll soon be as good as new."
She winked at her husband as he fed her a piece of fresh papaya. His forehead was just as smooth and flawless as ever. He motioned to her that he was going to take a shower.
"Yes, Perry, Clark and I thought Dianne did a very good job on the story. A little too much detail about the Kryptonite, we thought, but she's new … Now Perry remember, after maternity leave, I'm back. No replacement. right? … Don't worry about me, Perry. I'm going to take it easy until the baby is born. Of course, we'll call you when it's born. And you'll see me before my leave is up. I'll be bringing the baby in for a visit just as soon as I can. Have to get that newspaper blood into her as soon as possible." she giggled. "Hey, thank Jimmy and Dianne for us … Bye, Perry."
Lois was enjoying her last bite of fruit and the view as Clark returned to the bedroom. Beads of water still glistened on his freshly showered, towel-clad body.
"I feel much better now; how was your breakfast?" he asked.
"And the stores call it fresh from the vine. They should be sued for false advertising. To imagine that I used to complain about you spoiling me!"
Clark chuckled as he leaned down to kiss his wife. "Ready to get in the shower?" He reached out to take her hand. Suddenly Lois' face tensed.
"Are you okay?"
Lois didn't answer for a moment. She relaxed and smiled at her husband. "I think I might have just felt a contraction!"
"Really? Like last night?"
"No, I don't think I had contractions last night, just a lot of kicking. Help me up so I can go ahead and get in the shower. If this is the real thing, I want to have my hair washed."
"Lois, I wouldn't worry about that."
"Clark, a woman always wants to look good, especially while she's having a baby, you know visitors and other people will be seeing you."
Clark knew better than to argue with his pregnant wife. "Okay dear. Whatever makes you feel better.. I'll stay right here until you get out, okay?"
"Okay, no flying to anyone's rescue, right?"
Clark was getting dressed and making up the bed when he heard Lois gasp from within the shower. Immediately he was at her side.
"What is it? Did you have another contraction?"
Lois rubbed her stomach and smiled at her husband.
"Contraction number two!"
"Do you think it's the real thing?!"
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) 1998 to the author.