By Jeff Brogden <email@example.com>
Summary: A story that builds on the episode "That Old Gang of Mine." Dr. Emil Hamilton's clones start degenerating, which leads Dr. Hamilton to fear for Clark Kent, who was supposed to have received "the treatment" from Superman. Bobby Bigmouth tips off Lois about Clark's supposed condition.
Originally written May 1995 Revised 1997, 1999
This is my first attempt at fanfic. I am no writer, and don't claim to be. The recent lack of LnC episodes, and the overwhelming LCWS has caused me to move from reader to somewhat writer (this was written 05/06/95).
It is based on TOGoM and current (1995) happenings in Marvel's Spiderman series.
Hope you enjoy it. Turned out longer than I had planned… sorry. Let me know what you think.
Author's Note: As you might have noticed, the original story DEGENERATION had a zapping hole in it. "What did Superman and Dr. Hamilton discuss about Clark?" and "What could have happened that would explain why Clark is going to be all right?" Also, "Wouldn't Lois want some proof that Clark would be OK?"
Several fellow fanfic readers asked these questions and I would like to say that it was a device to pull the reader into the story, allowing them to interact by letting the readers imagination come up with what they talked about. The real reason is I didn't know what to do about it either! I had no plan — thus the hole. Chalk it up to inexperience at writing (DEGENERATION was my first attempt at fanfic).
So — seeing that I really should fill in the gap, I sat down and came up with some missing scenes from the story DEGENERATION. In this revised version, they have been added to the story. Again — comments are welcome.
(Special thanks to Ranica for proofing this and helping with some of the sticky parts.)
Scene — Metropolis Prison, hospital ward, maximum security wing. A group of doctors and nurses surround the single patient in the room. The only noise is the steady purr and bleep of the vast amounts of machinery attached to the husk of a man now left laying in bed, unaware of his situation. At one time he had been a great man. He controlled perhaps the largest organized crime gang of its time. Al Capone was a man use to being in charge. Now however, his life was in the hands of the machines. Luckily, he was oblivious to this fact.
"How did it happen?" asked Dr. Stillwell.
"The guards said he started complaining of headaches, dizziness, lack of concentration, that sort of thing. They thought he was just getting senile," responded a nurse. "Shortly after that the degeneration process began. It only took 24 hours to get to this stage…" her voice trailed off.
The slow, but steady "bleep, bleep, bleep" of the heart monitor made a sudden change. It skipped a few beats, steadied, then faltered again.
"We're losing him!" Dr. Emil Hamilton shouted. "We can't let him die…" he pleaded. Dr. Stillwell simply said, "There is nothing more we can do." The heart monitor went into a flatline.
"It's over," commented the nurse without emotion.
Dr. Hamilton broke down and began ranting and raving. "If only I could have completed the process of the DNA modification. I didn't know… I… I didn't know that the process was incomplete without the final step to modify their personality traits! I *burned* down my lab… my notes… I can't remember *everything* I did… what I left out…"
"It's all right, Doctor. We know you tried to save Capone. You may yet save the others. If not…" Dr. Stillwell shrugged. "…they are only criminals. It's not like they are someone who benefit society…"
Upon hearing this, Dr. Hamilton was shocked that anyone could care so little about human life. So what if they were *just* criminals?! They were human! And alive! At least for a little while. And it was his fault that they were going to die again. Just as he was about to open his mouth to launch into a verbal lashing of Dr. Stillwell's lack of ethics, it hit him.
"CLARK!" he choked. Intense fear grabbed him. "Oh my god, Clark! Clark Kent! He… He… Superman used my procedures on him when Clyde shot him! He was cloned with my procedures! That means he might suffer the same fate as Capone!" He was screaming now. The knotting in his stomach threatened to cause him to double over in disgust. 'How could I have done this!' he thought.
Dr. Stillwell grabbed him, "Relax, Doctor. Maybe Capone is the only one to be affected. None of the others have shown any signs."
True. But he would have to start reconstructing his work as soon as possible in case there *were* other cases of the degeneration.
Just then, a medical team burst into the room, wheeling Dillinger in on a gurney. One quick glance at the pasty skin was enough to confirm the degeneration process had started. Dr. Hamilton simply started crying again.
Lois was sitting at her desk at the Daily Planet trying to look as if she was in deep thought about an article she should be working on. Instead, all she could think of was Clark, her partner. There he was, busily working away on some boring scientific article he had latched onto. He was totally engrossed in the work. 'If only he would show that much interest in me' Lois sighed. There was hope though. Earlier, Clark had asked her to go out for dinner after work. It wasn't really a "date" per se, just a casual "Hey, Lois, let's go get something to eat after work," as she remembered him saying. She had agreed because she wanted to get Clark to herself and get that boy to talking! She decided to go talk to Clark about where they would be going for dinner. If she couldn't get her mind on her work, then she was going to distract Clark a little as well.
Lois got up and walked over to Clark's desk. She stood there quietly, waiting for him to notice her. It only took a second or two, but it seemed like it was forever.
"Hey Lois, what's up?"
"Oh, nothing much, just wondered what you had planned for us and dinner…" Lois said, trying to sound casual.
"Oh, I don't know. Thought we might try that new Indian- food place that opened up over on the south-side," Clark replied, looking up with a questioning look on his face.
Lois winced. She really didn't want to go to someplace new — that would mean there would be lots of people, eager to try out the new place. Lots of people meant lots of noise, and distractions. She wanted someplace quieter, where she could have a nice quiet talk with Clark. And they *were* going to talk — even if she had to tackle him if he tried to leave.
Clark notice the reaction to his suggestion, even though Lois tried not to make it physically noticeable. "Or, we could go to that little sandwich shop a few blocks from here. The special tonight is Creamy Potato soup and a turkey sub…?" Clark questioned again.
"YES! I mean, yes, that sounds perfect… ah… good. Sounds good. This way we can talk… if you want to… about anything you might want to talk about. It's a cozy little place and we could talk…" babbled Lois without really meaning to.
"OK, Lois," Clark smiled up at her, fixing her with a suddenly serious look, "…we'll talk. I… uh… have something I want to talk to you about as well…" Lois looked into his eyes and read something there. What was it? She couldn't take her eyes off of his. They looked so warm, and inviting. A surge of butterflies came up from her stomach, she noticed she had stepped closer to his desk and Clark was starting to lean forward a bit.
"LOIS! PHONE!" Jimmy shouted all too loudly. Poof! The moment was gone.
'Hell!' she thought. 'If it's not Clark running off, it's something else. With my luck, it's going to be Dan to top it all off…' She reluctantly stepped back, fixed Clark with a "we-are-not-finished-here-yet" look and walked over to her desk. "Hello, Lois here."
It was Bobby Bigmouth. "Lois! Is Clark there? No! Don't answer! Look, I need to talk to you immediately. I'm downstairs in the lobby. Come alone; do not, I repeat, do *not* bring Clark. No food necessary either. Just get down here."
Lois glanced to see what Clark was doing, but he had become engrossed in a news broadcast coming over the newsroom television. "OK, ah… well… I will be right down, bye." She hung up the phone. 'That has got to be the weirdest call I have ever had' she thought, puzzled. 'What could be so important to see me now and *without* any food? And why no Clark?' Seeing that now would be a good time to slip out since Clark was watching TV, she grabbed her purse and just caught the elevator going down.
Clark had just caught the tail end of the news broadcast about a fire at the National Guard Armory. 'Looks like a job for Superman…' he sighed to himself. He took a quick glance at Lois on the phone and decided to head towards the bathroom. A check with the handy x-ray vision showed the bathroom was empty. 'Good. Makes things easier…' A quick change and he was gone.
Down in the lobby, Lois met up with Bobby Bigmouth. He practically jumped on her as soon as the elevator doors had opened.
"Lois! You're alone! Great! Let's go somewhere where we can talk…" he stammered. "…Someplace where no one will hear…"
After going outside, around the side of the Planet and down the alley, Lois finally grabbed Bobby's sleeve and said "OK, this is remote enough. Now what is so important that you didn't need food, and didn't want Clark along?? I thought you liked Clark?"
"I do! That's just it! I like him; he brings me the best and most authentic ethnic food you can imagine. I don't want to see him…" he paused. Lois shot him a "spill-it-now-or-die" look, and Bobby Bigmouth let loose with the information he had. All of it. About Dr. Hamilton's "clones" suddenly suffering from headaches, dizziness, lack of concentration, and other symptoms Lois couldn't remember. As the tale of the degeneration process poured forth from his mouth, she felt as if the words were wrapping themselves around her — numbing her, sucking away her very life-force.
"Lois… Lois? LOIS!?!?" Bobby shouted.
She jerked herself to the present, barely able to maintain control of her emotions. "No. No! No! It can't be true!" she insisted.
"Wish it wasn't. Maybe… maybe I'm wrong…" he said flatly. He had hoped it would sound better than that. "I mean, I *have* been known to make mistakes before…" he offered. "Maybe you should investigate this to see if it is true before you tell Clark? Eh?"
"Yeah…" the tears started to well up as she remembered seeing Clark in her arms — dead. And the total overwhelming joy at seeing him alive. "Yes," she stated with conviction, "I *am* going to find out. I'm NOT going to lose Clark again, not like this."
Superman arrived at the Armory only to find that it was totally enveloped with flames. People were running like mad away from the building, and the Fire Department was backing away slowly, making sure everyone else was behind them. Clark flew down to the first fireperson he saw and asked what the situation was.
"Superman! Boy are we glad to see you! There are still people in there and we can't get to them. The fire started in the Ammunition room, and there are too many explosives for us to risk sending a team in."
Clark didn't even answer; with a patented "WHOOSH!", he was gone, flying up over the building using his x-ray vision to search for survivors. In the next five minutes, Clark had brought out 20 more people with his super-speed.
"Thanks, Superman!" exclaimed the Fire Chief, "…that's everyone. They are all accounted for. However, if we don't stop that fire from getting to the explosives stored in the ammunition dump, this whole city block will be a big crater."
"Don't worry, Chief, I'll zip in and try to cool things down. Just get everyone back outside the blast zone in case something goes wrong."
WHOOSH! he was gone again. "That's the bravest person I've ever met," said the Chief. Then he was yelling instructions into the mike of his radio, ordering everyone's retreat.
Clark found the explosives, and began using his super- cool breath to try to get the fire under control. The last thing he remembered was wondering what he and Lois was going to talk about over dinner. After that, there was a flash of light and then nothing.
The Fire Chief saw the flash and then felt the shockwave as the thunderous BOOM rolled out from the ammunition dump. A large fireball rolled into the sky, mushrooming out, spreading smoke across the horizon. His eyes widened in terror as he thought 'No one could have survived that…'
Everyone in the Daily Planet Newsroom heard the explosion. Perry came running out of his office, looking for Lois and Clark. "Great shades of Elvis, where are those two when you need them?" He was about to yell at Jimmy for no other reason than he was there and Lois and Clark were not, when Lois came running out of the elevator.
"Chief! Chief! I've got to talk to you!" Lois shouted wildly.
"And I've got a few choice words for you too, Lois, but right now I need you to get down to the National Guard Armory and check out this explosion!"
"But Chief, it's Clark, he's…"
"Not anywhere to be seen!" Perry interrupted. "Now, unless you want to be covering next week's Annual Gathering of Heavyweight American Singing Truckers [that's AGHAST to you and me --jwb], then I suggest you get yourself over to the Armory. Take Jimmy and get some photos. I'll send Clark over when I find him. What's left of him anyway after I get through with him…" With that, Perry stormed off to his office and slammed the door.
Lois, seeing there was not much else she could do, grabbed Jimmy and headed for the elevators.
Clark woke up in the bathroom at the Daily Planet. He was dressed as Clark, and sitting in a stall. His head was throbbing, and his ears were ringing.
'How did I get here? I remember an explosion, then…' his thoughts trailed off. Somehow, he had managed to fly back to the Planet, get into the bathroom and change back to Clark Kent.
'Oh No!' fear gripped him. 'What if I am in the women's bathroom! How am I going to explain that one!' A quick check with the x-ray vision confirmed he was in the men's room. Using his x-ray vision caused his head to hurt even more. He tried to stand up and almost fell back down. He was incredibly dizzy. He closed his eyes, steadied himself, took a deep breath. 'I'm so confused! Where was that explosion? How long have I been in here?'
Slowly his memory returned. He remembered the Armory, the explosion. It had hurled him miles into the air. 'Almost feels as bad as when I hit that meteor,' Clark thought. He remembered talking to the Fire Chief; no one had been hurt thank goodness. The Chief could not believe he was still alive, and kept asking if he needed medical attention. Superman had assured him he was fine and had left, somehow making his way back here to the Planet.
Clark felt a little better. He needed to get back to his desk before Lois decided he wasn't coming out and charged into the men's room looking for him. That brought a smile to his face — he could just see her storming through the door, the fire in her eyes, the concern on her face. Ha! He left the stall and headed for the door. Passing by the mirror he took a quick glance and stopped. He had soot smudge all over his face and hands!
'Great. I go to the bathroom and come out looking like I got caught in a bonfire. That would be a little tough to explain.' Clark turned on the faucet and bent over to splash water in his face. Again the dizziness hit and he had to grab the sink to keep his balance. 'Geesh! Got to hold it together if I want to appear normal…'
Perry saw Clark literally stumble out of the men's room, shuffle over to his desk and plop himself down in his chair. Perry's initial reaction was to storm out and chew Clark up one side and down the other for staying out too late the night before and letting it affect his work. He stopped short when he realized that if it was anyone but Clark, that is just what he would do. But this *was* Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter. 'Something must be wrong,' Perry thought as his brow furrowed.
Clark still felt miserable. He couldn't seem to think straight for very long, and the dizziness just made the headache worse. He started rubbing his eyes when he heard Perry walk up and say softly, "Clark? You OK, son? You don't look so good."
"Oh, I'm OK, chief, I think," Clark said as he looked up.
Perry could tell from his eyes he wasn't all right. "Look, Clark, why don't you go on home for the rest of the day and try to relax. You look a little beat up…"
"It's just a headache and some dizziness. Makes it hard to concentrate. I'm sure I will be OK in a bit."
"No, no, you go on home. I don't want you getting any worse, or spreading anything around the newsroom…"
Clark had to chuckle a bit to himself, '"spread anything around"? I haven't caught anything to spread around…' Instead he said, "But Lois and I have a da… um I mean we were going to get a sandwich after work, and…"
Perry stopped him with a wave of his hand. "Lois and Jimmy are down at the Armory explosion. They won't be back for awhile. If it makes you feel better, I'll tell Lois you went home sick, and she should pick up some dinner for the two of you and have her check in on you."
Going home *did* sound good. "OK, Chief, you win. Tell Lois to get me a special, and that I'll leave a key under the mat for her." With that he struggled himself up and trudged out of the newsroom, longing to get to bed.
Later in the afternoon, Lois and Jimmy came back in after interviewing everyone in sight at the explosion. No one was saying much, but it was looking like human error was the cause. The highlight was the descriptions of the survivors rescued by Superman. He had pulled them all out at super-speed, and had gone back into the building on a failed attempt to stop the explosion. Superman had left shortly after and was not around for an interview. Lois had not been really disappointed though. In fact, through out the whole ordeal, all she could think about was Clark and what Bobby Bigmouth had told her.
'Bobby has just got to be wrong. Clark can't be in any danger. I can't lose him again!' These thoughts just kept running through her mind over and over.
As soon as she got off the elevator, she called out "Clark! Clark!" Perry was standing by Clark's desk with a strange look on his face. Lois ran down from the elevator to Clark's desk and up to Perry.
"Where's Clark! I've got to talk to Clark!"
"Now Lois, just calm down a second. Clark wasn't feeling well, so I sent him home. It's my fault he's not here, and won't be able to take you out on your date, er, um, to dinner after work…"
Lois was in shock. "He wasn't feeling well!?!? Wh-Wh-What do you mean, was he, he sick, or… or.."
"… I told him I would tell you to pick up some supper and check in on him. He wants the special. He's fine, just a headache and some dizziness," Perry said in his most fatherly voice possible. For some reason, Lois was taking this worse than he would have thought possible.
Lois felt like she had just been smacked in the face. She could feel the blood rush to her feet as her whole body paled. Her knees became weak, and a fit of tears threatened to overcome her. She quickly sat down on Clark's chair.
"My God, Lois, you look like you've seen a ghost. What in tarnation is wrong?" Perry couldn't believe how fast Lois' face had turned pale when he had relayed Clark's condition to her. "Clark's going to be just fine; it's just a headache…"
"NO! No, you don't understand!" Lois sobbed. She relayed Bobby Bigmouth's message to Perry. As the words came gushing out with the tears, Perry found HIS knees weakening. "Great shades of Elvis…" was all he could mutter.
Clark had made it home and had gone straight to bed. After about an hour, he felt better. 'Boy, that explosion sure took a lot out of me,' he thought. He flipped on the radio, tuned in a news report to check on the situation and found that everything was going well for Metropolis' finest.
'Good. I really don't feel like going out and being super right now…' Just then the phone rang.
"Yes, this is Clark Kent, what can I do for you?"
"This is Dr. Emil Hamilton, we need to talk…"
Dr. Emil Hamilton was alone in the prison hospital ward with his last patient — Bonnie Parker. The others were all dead. All he could do was cry and mumble to himself. 'It wasn't suppose to be like this! I was trying to help society. Why, oh why did I try and play God? If I hadn't burned my notes, I could have saved them. But I couldn't let anyone else get my notes. Who knows what would have happened then…' He was being torn apart by his dilemma. 'My only hope of redemption is to save Clark Kent,' he thought. He straightened, set his jaw and started working again on trying to find a cure, or some way to stop the degeneration process.
As he tried to work he could still remember how emotional Lois had been while telling him of Clark's death and how overcome with joy she had been to learn that Superman had saved Clark with his processes. An alarm went off. Dr. Hamilton froze as he realized that the heart monitor had just gone into a flatline. He simply walked over and shut it off, turned back around and went back to work on the answer to his problem — saving Clark Kent!
WHOOSH! "Dr. Hamilton?"
"Sup-Superman! Wha-What are you doing here?" Dr. Hamilton stammered. "You have got to help me! You have got to go get Clark Kent and bring him here — fast! Use… use your super- breath to put him in a state of suspended animation or something… We have to have more time, I just can't remember everything right now…" Dr. Hamilton was a pitiful picture of a man, shaking all over and crying. Clark couldn't help but pity the poor man.
"Dr. Hamilton — about Clark. I think we need to talk about his… situation, a bit more."
Clark had managed to calm Dr. Hamilton down enough to talk to him about the degeneration process, and what had gone wrong.
"I never got to complete the DNA modification. I wanted to bring these criminals back into the world, modifying their DNA to remove the negative, destructive impulses they had so they could help society see that it is killing itself," Dr. Hamilton explained to Superman. "The way to do this was to isolate the areas of the brain that these impulses were being generated from, and to modify them, genetically removing the unwanted behavior."
Dr. Hamilton sat down heavily on a near by chair, "I was able to isolate the proper areas of the brain to modify, and to start the genetic modification while they 'grew' so to speak." He started wringing his hands, looking down at his feet. "The idea was to finish the DNA modification after they had begun to live so the proper tweaking could be done. They never let me get that far … They took over before I could complete the process, and thus the degeneration process started."
"Then Clark should be fine. I didn't know to look for any areas in the brain to modify. His development would have been a natural growth just like the first time nature 'built' him," Superman said hopefully. Maybe there was a simple way out after all!
"Yes. Yes, that is possible …" a look of hope crossed Dr. Hamilton's face. "Still …" the negative look returned, "I will have to examine Clark to make sure everything is all right. That there is absolutely no chance that he will *ever* degenerate!" Dr. Hamilton was talking with an edge to his voice. Clark could see he was not going to be able to talk him out of an examination. Dr. Hamilton had to know for certain that Clark was going to be all right.
"What would this examination entail Dr. Hamilton?" Clark queried.
"I'll need to perform a simple CAT scan on him. The degeneration is a result of DNA breakdown due to brain imperfections. The brain imperfection is a result of the incomplete modification process."
Dr. Hamilton stood up and began pacing as he explained everything, "At first, with Capone, I was not aware that the cloning process introduced brain imperfections. I only did blood tests, that sort of thing, looking for the cause of the degeneration. When Dillinger was brought in, I noticed they had both complained of the same symptoms leading up to the physical degeneration."
Turning to look at Superman, Dr. Hamilton continued relaying his path of discovery for him. "Headaches, dizziness, lack of concentration. So I did a CAT scan on both of them and discovered the massive brain imperfections. A CAT scan of both Bonnie and Clyde confirmed the results. Although they were not yet suffering from degeneration, the brain imperfections were there. If Clark Kent doesn't have these imperfections, then he will be OK." The hope in his eyes was incredible. Yet his physical demeanor stated he was still wary of what he might find.
'At least he doesn't want a blood sample. Don't know what I would have done about that,' Clark mused. 'A CAT scan, though. I don't know if that will work on me or not? What will the results be? Will they look "normal"? Don't really have a choice…'
"I'll go try to find Clark Kent, Dr. Hamilton," Superman said. 'If this doesn't work, I may end up having to tell him my secret — if he doesn't figure it out from the CAT scan first…'
There was a knock at the door, and Clark Kent stepped into the prison hospital laboratory. "Dr. Hamilton?"
"Clark! Oh, I am so glad to see you. Do you feel all right?" Dr. Hamilton could hardly hide his emotions.
"I feel fine, Doctor. Superman said you wanted to do a CAT scan on me?" Clark asked.
"Yes, yes, yes … Come over here and we will get started," Dr. Hamilton lead him into the next room.
Clark did as he was instructed, laying perfectly still so the machine could do its thing. After what seemed like an eternity, Dr. Hamilton reappeared next to him, smiling a huge smile.
"I take it that everything is all right?" Clark asked.
"Every thing is perfect. You have a perfect brain, no damage anywhere. Quite amazing actually…" Dr. Hamilton's face put on a puzzled look. "I find it strange that you didn't have any damage at all…"
'Oh, oh.. here it comes…'
"Maybe the fact that Superman was able to freeze you before there was any tissue damage from being dead, or the fact that Superman said he didn't know to look for an area of the brain to modify, or because…" Dr. Hamilton began muttering to himself.
Clark was starting to become uncomfortable. He really didn't want to tell Dr. Hamilton he was Superman, so he had to think of something fast.
"Well, whatever the case is," Dr. Hamilton suddenly looked happy again, "…I am glad you are going to be fine. Thank you, Mr. Kent." Dr. Hamilton grasped Clark's hand and shook it. "Thank you for giving me a second chance."
"No, I think it is I who should thank you," Clark said and shook his hand back.
Lois arrived at Clark's apartment, only to find it was dark inside. She furiously began pounding on the door, and yelling, "Clark! Clark! Open up, Clark, it's me, Lois…" Her throat closed on her as a vision of Clark laying unconscious on the floor filled her mind. Then she remembered Perry said there would be a key under the mat. She flipped it back and found the key laying there; it looked beautiful. She picked it up, unlocked the door, and flew into the apartment. She ran down the stairs, and made a quick lap through the entire apartment only to find no Clark.
Fear was really starting to take over now. 'Where IS he? Perry said he was going straight home!! Why isn't he here???' she thought frantically. Then she noticed the note on the table. She picked it up and read it:
I got a call from Dr. Emil Hamilton. He needed to see me. Nothing to worry about, I'll tell you about it when I get back. Did you bring the "special" I ordered? Make yourself at home, there are videos and music. I might even have some chocolate ice cream in the fridge. No Rocky Road, sorry. You will just have to use your imagination and use what I have in the kitchen to spruce it up. I think there are some nuts, caramel, marshmallows, and some fudge syrup in the cabinet next to the fridge.
"Oh Clark, I… I love chocolate ice cream…" With that she put her head in her hands and started crying all over again.
Superman was about to land on the balcony of his apartment when he realized there was a light on and the television was playing. A quick peek with the x-ray vision showed him that Lois was on the couch, asleep. He decided to come in the front door, so he zipped up to the roof, and changed into his street clothes.
He made sure he made little noise when he came in the front door. He didn't want to startle her and scare her. As he approached her, he could see she had eaten 3/4 of a gallon of his chocolate ice cream — straight from the container — plain. 'Oh oh, wonder what is wrong now,' Clark worried. He stepped around in front of her and noticed she had cried herself to sleep. Her eyes were still puffy and her make-up was streaked down her cheeks. Yet, she was incredibly beautiful lying there. All thoughts left his mind and he kneeled down beside her.
He brushed the hair back from her eyes. Slowly he leaned down, hesitated a brief second as his lips hovered over her cheek. Then, making up his mind, he moved over till his lips touched hers ever so slightly. The kiss was like the touch of a feather, soft and gentle. The amount of contact was so light Clark wondered if he was kissing her at all.
Slowly Lois' eyes parted to look up at him. She couldn't quite see him; she blinked to get the fog of sleep from her tear- swollen eyes. Clark, noticing she was awake, pulled back slowly, locking her eyes to his.
"Mmm, Clark? CLARK!!!" Lois screamed.
Instantly she was awake. She threw her arms around his neck and pulled him down on the couch on top of her.
"Oh, Clark! Clark! You're alive; you're not sick! I thought I was never going to see you again. Dr. Hamilton and his clones, they… and then I had to go to the explosion and you were gone when I got back… Perry said you had a headache and Bobby Bigmouth said it was one of the symptoms… and I came here but you were gone… I got so scared…" Lois sobbed and babbled.
"So that's why you cried yourself to sleep and ate all my chocolate ice cream…" Clark stated. He was about to ask how Bobby Bigmouth found out, but was interrupted when Lois reached up, put her hand on the back of his head and forced it down to her waiting lips. The kiss was passionate. The blood ran in his ears and he could feel her raw emotions broiling through the kiss. Lois broke the kiss, looked into his eyes as if she needed to say something to him, but didn't know how to start.
"No, Clark, I'm going first." she interrupted. "Clark, I want you to know that I… well I…"
The phone cut her short with its incredibly loud ringing. Clark and Lois instantly became stiff, self-aware of their position and surroundings.
"I, aa, I should get that." Clark mumbled.
"Yea, um, you… you need to get that." Lois said in a small voice.
RRRIINN--- "Hello? Chief! Yeah, I'm fine. Yes, I know about Dr. Hamilton. I went to see him earlier today. No, I'm fine, everything is fine. Lois? Yeah, she's right here. My special?" Clark looked at Lois quizzically.
Lois blushed. She had completely forgot about supper. "Oh, Clark, I'm sorry. I was so worried about you I came running over here and forgot to pick up supper."
"Ah yeah, Chief, Lois brought my special when she came over; in fact, we were just enjoying it when you called." His face split into one of those incredible smiles as Lois' mouth dropped, her face turning even a brighter red.
"Sure, Chief, we'll be sure to write up the clone thing tomorrow…" Clark shrugged and rolled his eyes, "…Yes, it would make a great story. OK, bye," Clark hung up the phone and walked back to the couch. Lois was sitting there looking at her hands as they competed in a wrestling match with themselves. He sat down next to her, grabbed her chin between his forefinger and thumb, turning it up so he could look into her eyes.
"I'm sorry you got so scared," Clark said softly. "There is really nothing to worry about any more. I truly am all right."
Lois laughed nervously, "That's good. Sorry about supper… we could… you know… go somewhere and get something to eat… if you wanted to…" She was trying not to sound like she didn't want to leave, but it sounded like a failed attempt even to her.
"Oh, I don't know; after all, you did bring over something special," he said, looking deep into her eyes. "I would kind of like to try some more of that 'special'…" He kissed her softly. "Hmmm… it's good."
"Yeah?" Lois whispered. Again he kissed her, soft and sweet.
"Yeah. I think I'll have it more often." With that he put his hand around her neck, pulled her close and kissed her deeply.
"You know…" Lois said after some time, "I think there might be a lot of this special. Think you can handle it?"
Clark grinned, "Oh, I think I can handle it just fine…"
For Clark, time could not slow down far enough. He wanted to stay here with Lois forever. Just like this, her in his arms, kissing. Lois finally broke the spell, and sat back.
"Clark, how does Dr. Hamilton know you will not suffer from the degeneration process?" Lois asked. He could hear the fear in her voice still. "I mean… what if it takes a little longer… or you haven't gotten to some stage or something…" her voice becoming smaller as the words came out.
Clark grabbed her and hugged her tightly. As he held her, he told her about the brain imperfections, and the CAT scan, and the results.
"Dr. Hamilton said I have a perfect brain!" he stated as he leaned back and smuggly grinned at Lois.
"HA!" Lois lightly punched him in the arm. "Don't let it go to your head, Clark. If it gets any bigger, you will not be able to get out the door when you take me out for supper," Lois said with a smile. He could tell she was relieved, and the familiar spark was starting to come back.
"Supper, huh? Still want to go to the sandwich shop for the special?" Clark asked.
"Yes. And it's a beautiful night out; let's walk." Lois stood and reached down for his hand.
Clark reached up, took her hand and stood.
"Don't think for a second though, that any special some sandwich shop has to offer can compete with the 'Lane Special'," Lois teased.
Clark raised his eyebrows, "And whose head is going to have trouble fitting through the door?"