By ML Thompson <email@example.com>
Submitted October 1999
Summary: In this sequel to Shawn V.'s fanfic "Disquiet Nights," Lois and Clark desperately search for a way to legally sever the marital bonds which have joined Lois to Lex against her will. The two find themselves deeply involved in an investigation into Lex's criminal activities while fighting to resist an overwhelming mutual desire to be deeply involved in each other.
This little story is a continuation of Disquiet Nights by Shawn V. Read it first. I enjoyed the story so much that I decided to continue it. I am hoping that Shawn V. will see this as the sincerest form of flattery. I am a lawyer by trade and so the ending caught me a little off guard and sent me scurrying to my law books. Unfortunately, in spite of all my research, I was unable to find the statutes containing the laws of New Troy. As a result, I am unable to give a legal opinion on New Troy's laws and have had to invent my own laws on the issue of Marriage, Divorce and Annulment. These laws should not be seen to reflect the laws of any particular domicile except that of New Troy. Especially since I took some liberties in setting up laws that benefit my story line (can you blame me).
I have used characters that appear in the second season of Lois and Clark mainly because I figure that even though in season one we did not meet them, they probably still had the same jobs. In Disquiet Nights, Lois and Clark have one night of passion together. Lois thinks they are having a one night stand and Clark thinks that they are beginning a permanent relationship. Afterwards, before Clark drifts off to sleep he tells Lois that he loves her. She panics and when he awakes in the morning, she is gone. This leads to incredible tension between Lois and Clark which allows Luthor an opportunity to propose. Before accepting, Lois talks to Superman who tells her who he is and that since Superman is just a job, he can't love her as Superman but tells her that Clark always will. She accepts Lex's proposal and even marries him. As she is saying her vows to Lex Luthor, she thinks that she is saying 'I do' to Clark Kent. After marrying Lex, she immediately realizes that she loves Clark. After a brief spell of depression, she sets about to fix things. In the process and through an unusual twist of events, Lois Lane develops superpowers and after a year as a partner with Clark Kent in his regular job, she becomes partners with him in his other job and 'Superwoman' joins the crime fighting team. One of the things they discover is that they can now communicate telepathically. Lex's marriage to Lois goes down hill quickly. With these new Superpowers and armed with the knowledge that she hasn't lost Clark's friendship, she tells Lex she wants a Divorce but he isn't inclined to grant her one. Then, after having been spotted leaving their penthouse with Superman, Luthor becomes convinced that Lois and Superman are having an affair and attempts to murder Superman and Superwoman with kryptonite. However, Superwoman is immune because she never lived on Krypton so Superman is saved and Luthor and Mrs. Cox are arrested. Superwoman flies to Europe and gets an annulment of Lois' marriage from the Pope. Having ended her marriage to Lex Luthor, she finds her way into the bed of Clark Kent knowing that that is where she is meant to be. That is where our story begins. But I recommend that you read the whole story since she tells it much better than I ever could.
Thoughts transmitted telepathically are marked > <.
This story compares the way two men love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:4-8, 13
Lois awoke as the sunlight that found its way through Clark's windows began to caress her body. She reached out for Clark lazily wanting to feel and be comforted by his warm body lying next to her. It had been such an incredible night that she hadn't wanted it to end, but finally, exhausted and fulfilled, she had drifted off to sleep in his arms. Her arm touched his side of the bed and immediately she was wide awake. Clark was gone. She had woken from her dreams of Clark so many times to find that he wasn't really there that she felt a sudden surge of panic. Unconcerned about exposing her naked body, she sat up and called his name before noticing him sitting on a chair in the room.
"Are you ok?" he asked concerned although still able to appreciate the view of her body he was being afforded.
Lois smiled shyly and settled back down on Clark's double bed. "It's just that I have dreamt about you so many times in the past few weeks that when I woke up and didn't feel you beside me, I thought it had all been a dream." She paused slightly in response to his smile and then asked, "What are you doing over there?"
"Well, there was an accident on the freeway and I went to help out. When I came back, I saw you sleeping in my bed and just couldn't resist sitting down here to watch you." That brought a slight smile to Lois' face. How had she come so close to throwing this away? It was incredible to realize how deeply this man loved her in spite of all the agony she had put him through. He loved her even after she had slept with him and told him that she had only been after a one night stand and that they would only ever be friends. He loved her even after she had married Lex Luthor, his arch nemesis. He loved her in spite of how much pain she must have caused him, and except for a few angry words to her when she had first tried to tell him that she loved him (he had told her she had no cause to torture him), he had never reacted to her out of anger or pain, although she knew that he had been tormented by both. Of course, he had also been unwilling to be more than friends as long as she was married to Lex. But then, if he had been willing to have an affair with her, he wouldn't have been the man she loved. He was such a boy scout. But last night, when she had brought in the papers that the Pope had signed annulling their marriage, they had given themselves to each other completely and totally. Lois sighed happily as she looked at Clark.
"Why didn't you wake me up to help?" Lois asked. Now that she had become Superwoman, she wanted to do her part.
Clark smiled slightly. "You were sleeping so soundly that I couldn't bring myself to wake you. Besides…" he added sheepishly, "I wanted to know how if would feel to return to find you naked in my bed, and I have to say that it felt really incredible." She was certainly satisfied with that answer. It was amazing to her that in spite of the fact that they had only spent two nights together as lovers, she was not at all uncomfortable talking to him here like this. She remembered how she had put on a t-shirt because she hadn't wanted to be naked with Lex. It hadn't been because she was nervous or embarrassed, it had been because she was scared of him. She felt vulnerable and unprotected without clothing. She felt none of that with Clark. He made her feel safe and loved.
"Well, I enjoyed the sleep. But now that I am awake, how about a little company?" she said inviting him to join her. He didn't require a second invitation. Both spent the next hour discovering in the other a pleasure that only comes from giving yourself completely and without reservations to another person.
Lex Luthor's night had been slightly different from Lois Lane's. In fact, were you to compare them, they would have been on the opposite ends of the spectrum. After his arrest, Lex had been afforded the required phone call to one of his many lawyers. The call had been short and to the point. "Get down here and get me out now!" had been the gist of his comments to his attorney and then he had hung up the phone with a resounding bang. Lex smiled as he thought of the man scurrying to obey. However, things had not gone well after his phone call. His attorney had apparently shown up in record time but had not been allowed access that night. The attorney was informed that since the police did not plan to question Luthor, they were not prepared to stretch the rules to allow him to see his client this late. The judge on call that night was also not prepared to deal with the matter before morning. It was risky trying to bribe a judge since if they did not accept, it was likely that such a move could result in charges of bribery and obstruction of justice and the attorney was not prepared to make this decision on his own. If only he had been able to speak to Luthor.
The problem was that the police force as a whole were big fans of Superman. He had saved many of their lives on different occasions over the past year. Now here was Lex Luthor who was accused of trying to murder him and his new girlfriend, Superwoman, or at least that was how most people thought of her. So the police were not inclined at the moment to grant any favors to Lex Luthor. So he had spent the night in a smelly cold cell wearing orange overalls and sleeping on a hard cot with a cell mate who was sleeping off a bender.
All of this had left Lex livid by the time his attorney arrived. Lex had a hundred lawyers on retainer and many in house counsel for his business interests. However, until now he had never had personal need of a criminal lawyer. But just in case, he had checked out criminal lawyers years ago and had one on retainer in case the need ever came up. The one he had finally picked had a rather unsavory reputation which was one of the reasons Lex had chosen him. This man, named Clarence Taylor, was known to bend and even break the rules to get his client out of trouble. He wasn't the best criminal lawyer in the business but then, if you were willing to break the rules, you could often, in Luthor's experience, get more accomplished. However, this morning, after a night in jail, Lex Luthor was regretting his choice of counsel. A man with a better reputation with the police may have had more luck in getting to speak to him last night. He was silently fuming as his attorney sat down at the other end of the small table in the lawyers room. The room had windows through which the guards could keep an eye on things but were soundproof to allow privileged communication between lawyer and client. There were other rooms, more comfortable rooms, in which such interviews could take place but the police were not in the mood to give Lex Luthor or his slime ball lawyer any favors today. Luthor would have been tempted to kill Clarence Taylor if the windows had not made that impossible. Even if he jumped across the table and grabbed the man around the neck, he would probably not have sufficient time to kill him before he would be interrupted. Then, he would face another count of attempted murder without the pleasure of having fulfilled his goal. No, the price this man would pay would have to come later. Luthor looked at his lawyer in disgust. He was short and wiry. He wore an expensive black suit with a white shirt and a grey tie. Although he was into his forties, he wore a toupee which gave him the appearance of a twelve year old. The man's hair and toupee had a greasy quality that looked like he had added too much gel to his hair this morning. However, he did not seem to notice this because he wore his hair the same way every day. Luthor made a note to hire himself a new lawyer but to keep this one around to do the dirty work, such as bribing judges and witnesses. There was a place for slime balls like this one in Luthor's world even if the man was incompetent in criminal law. He could always settle the score for making him spend the night in jail after this matter was resolved. For now, Luthor decided, he could be of use.
"I need to see Nigel St. John immediately."
"They won't allow you any visitors other than me until after your arraignment today."
"After my arraignment, I expect to be going home!" Luthor said emphatically. "I don't care if they allow visitors then. I need to see St. John now!"
"Sir…" the man paused nervously, "I don't think they are going to be inclined to let you out."
Lex glared at the man with a look that could cause and had in the past caused a cobra to rethink its position. "Haven't you bribed the judge yet?"
"Well, sir… I wanted to speak to you about that first. You see… we have drawn Judge Templeman. He is unbribable."
"No one is unbribable. Find his price or his weakness. I want him bribed or blackmailed or threatened, but I want you to guarantee that I will be out of here today. I have no intention of spending another night in this hell hole. So make it happen or run far and hide deep. Because I will make sure that you pay for it." The lawyer visibly cringed. "Now, get me Nigel St. John." The lawyer quickly scampered from the room before Luthor could make any of those threats in regard to getting St. John in to see him.
Lois had settled herself down in the crook of Clark's arm with her head resting comfortably on him and her fingers lightly tracing the outline of the muscles in his chest when she finally noticed the clock. It was after nine. She jumped up in a panic much to Clark's surprise crawling over him in her rush to get out of bed. "What's going on? I didn't hear anything." He said, assuming that her super hearing had kicked in.
"We're late for work Clark," she said in her rush for the washroom.
"Relax Lois, I've already been on the phone with the Chief and he gave us the morning off. He said that after the story that I sent by LAN to him last night, we deserved to sleep in. Apparently, it's in the morning edition. The sidebar I did on Luthor didn't make it in time though so it will be in the afternoon edition. He does expect us to cover the arraignment though."
"What story?" She knew that the arrest of Lex Luthor would be front page news but that story hadn't been written yet. She and Clark had been occupied with more important matters. It didn't even occur to Lois to recognize the irony of that thought coming from her. The star reporter who thought that there was something more important than a story. She had been hoping that her honeymoon to Lex would be short so that she could get back to work and yet now, being with Clark seemed so much more important then getting the scoop on Luthor's demise.
"Oh." Clark looked a little sheepish. "When I got back from our run in with Luthor, I quickly typed up the story of Luthor's arrest under the by-line of Lane and Kent, of course. Then after you were asleep last night, I added a sidebar and sent that to Perry as well. I hope you don't mind?" He said a little nervously. He knew how Lois could be about getting the story.
Lois only smiled at him and said, "Well, give me a moment to get dressed and then I want to read it." Clark smiled too. She didn't mind.
A short time later, Lois appeared from the bedroom. She was wearing Clark's clothes again, a t-shirt and the pair of shorts that she had used during their night together before her marriage to Lex. She had come here last night in her Superwoman outfit and hadn't taken time to pack anything before doing so. Her only thought once she had the annulment was that she wanted to be with Clark. So she had none of her clothes here and although with superpowers she could have flown to the penthouse and gotten changed and showered and back in as little time as it had taken for her to rummage through Clark's dresser, she didn't want to leave Clark's even long enough to do that. She also was not looking forward to going back to the penthouse and wanted to put it off as long as possible. Clark was fixing breakfast in the kitchen when Lois walked in. He looked at her in appreciation and thought that his t-shirt had never looked better. "There's the computer," he said, pointing to the laptop on the table. She walked over and saw that the story that Clark had written had already been pulled up for her. She read it slowly and approved of Clark's writing although she thought he had given Superwomen too much credit. After the main story, Lois noticed that Clark had sent Perry a sidebar on Lex Luthor. It was very detailed about the man's holdings and net worth. She had never realized that Lex was worth that much. Clark brought over some coffee for her and watched intently as she read the end of his sidebar in order to catch her expression.
Lex Luthor, who was considered the city's most eligible bachelor, was married recently to Lois Lane. That marriage ended last night when the Pope himself dissolved the marriage by granting an annulment to Lois Lane.
She smiled slightly. "You enjoyed writing that didn't you?"
"Where did you get the details on the actual arrest? You were here at the time."
"You sent the details to me telepathically from the penthouse. Don't you remember?"
"Oh yeah. I forgot about that."
Lois looked back at the article in concentration. "It's good."
"But?" Clark encouraged.
"Just a minute," she said as her hands worked the keyboard. Clark who was sitting across from her waited patiently. He knew his partner well enough to trust any changes she might make, especially when she got that look on her face, a look that communicated to Clark that she had just had a stroke of sheer brilliance. She wrote a quick note to Perry and then sent it and the revised article to Perry before Clark reviewed her changes. He looked at her curiously. It wasn't like Lois to send it off without his approval if he were present to review it. They had both done their share of writing stories when the other one wasn't available to give input into the final draft. But when they were both present, it was understood that both would have to approve a story before Perry got it. Lois sat back looking very pleased with herself.
Clark got up and walked around. He wasn't annoyed, he was curious. 'What was Lois up to?' he wondered. She moved back to allow him access to the computer. He sat down and quickly read the note to Perry.
Clark and I have had a little difference of opinion on how the second article should end so we are submitting both. We trust that you will print the one that you think is most appropriate.
Clark and I will attend at the courthouse and will give you the update on Lex's arraignment. It is scheduled to begin at 4:30. But before then I need to get my things from Lex's penthouse if that's ok.
Clark looked at Lois a little oddly and then scrolled to the second article and read it with Lois' revisions.
Lex Luthor, who was considered the city's most eligible bachelor, was married recently to Lois Lane. That marriage ended last night when the Pope himself dissolved the marriage by granting an annulment to Lois Lane. The former Mrs. Luthor is rumored to have spent the night making mad passionate love to the man of her dreams, Mr. Clark Kent and is currently too tired to comment.
Lois only smiled. "Lighten up Clark. It's not like Perry didn't know. I'm sure as soon as he read about the annulment, he knew why we were really taking the morning off."
Clark guessed that was probably true enough. He looked over at Lois who was sitting back in her chair looking very smug and slowly shook his head and smiled to himself. That was Lois and it was that fire and forthrightness that were two of the things that made him love her. While he had spent most of his life hiding his feelings for fear of exposure, Lois never hid hers. She always said what she felt. And she was right, Perry did know. Not much got past their boss. He thought back to when the Chief had found out that he and Lois were in love. It was the day after their all night stake out during which they had not discovered anything… Well, nothing that could be printed in the paper anyway.
Perry had noticed Lois enter the newsroom after Clark had. They had not discovered any drug operation during their stakeout the night before. Perry already knew that from his brief conversation with Clark. Clark had informed him that Lois would arrive shortly. She had wanted to go home and change since she had only brought what she would need for the night to the hotel. Perry had wondered about Clark's miraculous recovery when he walked in this morning. He had been much better after Lois' return to work after her brief honeymoon but this transformation was remarkable. When he saw Lois enter the newsroom a short time later, he knew that something had happened. She was positively glowing. He knew from talking to Clark that it wasn't from getting the story so that left something else. The problem was that he was afraid that he knew what.
"LOIS," Perry's voice had boomed through the newsroom and Lois glanced nervously at Clark who simply shrugged and raised his eyebrows. Lois immediately knew that he had no idea what Perry wanted so she made her way to her boss' office. As soon as she entered, she knew that there was something serious on the Chief's mind. Perry closed the door slowly and then turned to look at her. He had thought of broaching the subject gently but then had rejected that for the straightforward approach. "Are you and Clark having an affair?"
Lois' eyes immediately flashed red. Perry didn't understand exactly how dangerous she could be at this moment given her super strength and the fact that it is much more difficult to control when you are upset or angry, because he didn't know that Lois now had the same powers as Superman, but he did know Lois well enough to know that she could be very dangerous when approached like this so before she could respond, Perry continued, "Now, don't get your dander up, I know it's none of my business but you haven't been around here for the past few weeks and you don't know what Clark's been going through. I do. Lois, in case you haven't realized it, that boy is completely in love with you. When you married Lex it nearly broke my heart to watch him. I don't think I've ever seen that much pain in one human being and I have seen a lot of pain in my life." The fire went out of Lois' eyes and she quietly sat down on the couch. Perry continued laying out his case, "Yet today, he comes in here whistling. I had my concerns about putting the two of you on a story that would require an overnight stay at a swanky hotel but since it seemed like the two of you had come to some sort of understanding…" He shrugged slightly before continuing. "But Lois, honey, I just don't want Clark to get hurt. I don't think that he could survive an affair with you. It wouldn't be a casual thing to him. It would end. It would have to if you want to stay married to Lex, and I'm not sure that next time he would survive."
Lois sighed. She knew that everything Perry was saying was true. She held in her hands the heart of the gentlest soul she had ever known. "No, Perry, we are not having an affair," she said after a moment of reflection. He was, after all, only looking out for Clark and she was the one who had caused Clark so much pain over the past few weeks. "Do you really think that Clark would have an affair with a married women?" she asked when she saw the look of disbelief on her editor's face.
"If it was any married women but you, I'd say a resounding 'no'. But honey, you could talk that boy into flying you to the moon if you wanted to."
"I know… but Perry, I promise you we aren't… we won't have an affair." She hesitated a moment before continuing. She wondered if she should tell Perry the truth. He was like a father to her. Much more so then her own had ever been and she wanted his perspective on this so she took a deep breath and continued slowly. "Perry, I really do love Clark. I realized that immediately after marrying Lex and I wouldn't have a second thought about betraying Lex to love Clark, but it would destroy something in Clark, that sense of fair play and decency he has. I couldn't do that to Clark." She put her hands up to her face as tears began to role down her cheeks. This was the last thing Perry had been expecting. His fatherly feelings for this young woman immediately kicked into gear and he sat down next to her and took her in his arms. She broke down then and cried, really cried, for the first time. He held her and listened to her broken and disjointed thoughts which were spoken between sobs. "I've ruined both out lives. I've got to get out of my marriage to Lex. I know that I am suppose to be with Clark. What do I do now?"
Clark had been sitting at his desk using all of his super will-power not to listen to what Perry had been talking to Lois about. It was none of his business, he had told himself firmly. She may love him and he may love her but she was another man's wife and as long as she was, he had to keep his distance. But when he heard Lois crying, he reacted without thinking. He rushed to the door of Perry's office and walked in without knocking (something he never did). Perry didn't have time to react as Clark closed the door behind him and walked over to Lois. She immediately released her grip on Perry and threw herself into Clark's open arms. Clark stroked her hair gently and began comforting her. Perry, not having the heart to separate them, opted to protect their privacy. He got up and closed the blinds to his office but didn't leave. It wouldn't do for people to see them emerging together from his office with the blinds closed. Lois finally quit crying and Clark, who still didn't know what had upset her turned an accusatory eye at Perry and said, "What did you say to her?" Both Perry and Lois looked shocked for a moment and then Lois began to laugh. Perry soon followed. Clark just knelt by the couch looking confused. When either Lois or Perry would start to get control, they would look at Clark's confused expression and the laughter would start all over again.
"Clark, it's ok." Lois finally said when she got her laughter under control. "Perry was just warning me not to hurt you." Clark continued to look confused so Lois continued. "So I told him that I should never have married Lex and that I didn't know what to do because I love you. That's why I was crying. It had nothing to do with Perry. But," she continued, putting a hand lightly to his face and smiling at him, "I do appreciate you coming to save the day anyway." Clark's eyes softened and Perry could see the love in the eyes of both his star reporters.
"So, I take it that you two kids have already talked about this?" Perry said. It was more of a statement then a question.
Lois nodded. "We talked about it last night. That is why Clark was whistling this morning. Not because we are having an affair." Lois looked over at Clark and they both remembered how close they had come to doing just that. Perry noticed the look but let it go. Even if they were having an affair, he now realized that it was not a fling for Lois. She had it as bad as Clark did.
"So what now?" Perry asked looking at the two of them.
"It's Lois' call, Chief. I'll support whatever she decides to do."
"Even if she decides to stay and try to work it out with Luthor?"
"Even then," Clark replied with certainty after swallowing hard. If she stayed with Luthor, Clark knew that she would need his support more than ever, and he was prepared to give it even if that never allowed him more than a friendship with the woman he loved above all else. That was one of the reasons why it was so important to him that they not have an affair. If he became her lover and she decided to stay with Luthor, he wouldn't be able to be there for her when she needed him, and Clark was certain she would need him. He knew what kind of a monster Lex Luthor was underneath that business suit.
Lois looked at him in astonishment. There was the difference between Lex and Clark in a nutshell. He would support whatever decision she made, even if it hurt him terribly, whereas Lex would always take control whether she wanted him to or not. Clark's love was open and giving. Lex's was possessive and controlling. Lex had certainly proven that on the third night of their marriage. Lois shuddered as she remembered the rape.
Lois knew that she could have convinced Clark to sleep with her the night before, but that wouldn't have solved the problem. Lois knew that she could never really belong to Clark as long as she was married to Lex. And she knew, without hesitation or uncertainty, that she wanted nothing more than to belong, really belong to Clark. She turned and looked at Perry.
"I've asked Lex for a divorce, but he isn't inclined to grant it. I'm hoping that I can be enough of a pest that he will change his mind, but he can be just as bullheaded as I am on occasion so that may not be enough. I'm not sure yet what else I can do, but I will find a way to be free of him." Then in a smaller voice she finished, "I have to."
"Well… if you kids need anything from me, just let me know."
"Earth to Clark." Clark looked up from his trip into the past to see Lois waving her hand in front of his face. "What were you thinking about? You looked like you were a million miles away."
"I was just thinking about the Chief. I don't think he believed us when we told him we weren't having an affair." Lois smiled. She had thought the same thing at the time. Clark continued, "I'm glad that we didn't though. I'm not sure I would be able to look at myself in the mirror if we had." Lois placed a hand on his thigh and rubbed his leg softly while he continued. "I had actually planned to wait till we were married though before we made love," Clark said with a sheepish grin.
"Are you sorry that we didn't wait?"
Clark looked at her intently and thought for a moment. "Lois, I believe that making love is meant to be shared only between two people who already belong to each other heart, soul and mind. I have belonged to you that way since I met you. I told you before but let me say it again, 'I'm yours forever.' Do I wish we had waited? In some ways. But I wouldn't go back now and do things differently." Lois looked at him in astonishment but not because of what he was saying about sex. By this time, she had a pretty good idea that that was how he would feel. She wasn't even shocked by his use of the word 'forever.' After all, he was a forever sort of guy. What did amaze her is that she felt the same way. 'Forever' was not a word that had ever been in Lois Lane's vocabulary. Her parent's marriage had ended in divorce after all. But now, sitting here and listening to Clark, she understood for the first time in her life the meaning of the word.
"Forever," she said softly. "I like it." Clark smiled.
"So," Clark said, shifting topics, "when are we going to go to Luthor's penthouse to get your stuff?"
"You'll come?" Lois asked hopefully. She had been dreading going back there alone but wasn't sure that Clark would want to come.
"Of course. It's been a fantasy of mine to move you out of there ever since you moved in." He grinned. "Where are we going to move you to? Do you still have your apartment?"
"No. I got a sublet to move in when I married Lex. I have a lease on the place until September." She paused and then asked nervously, "I don't suppose I could move in here?"
When Clark paused Lois jumped in immediately, "Of course, if it's too soon, I'd understand."
"It's not that. It's just that I'd kinda hoped that we would wait till we were married to live together." Lois grinned. She should have seen that one coming. 'Ok girl' she thought 'it's now or never.'
"Well then, maybe we should just go down to city hall and get married today." Clark looked stunned. "It would certainly save me from finding a new place, and it would be easier since we work together to be able to go into the Planet and come home together. Then there is all the money we would save…"
"Slow down, Lois. Take a breath," Clark said as Lois headed off on another tirade. His head was spinning. A couple months ago she had told him that they would only ever be friends and now… Now! Wow!!
"Of course," Lois said, pausing, "maybe you don't want to marry me." She said it with a grin but Clark could hear the insecurity in her voice.
There was only one way to deal with this situation. He needed to make sure that Lois was absolutely positive about this. He was afraid that she was jumping into marriage to him simply because she was so relieved to be out of her marriage to Luthor and he was a safe place to land. On the other hand, he didn't want her to doubt for a moment how serious his intentions were. He told Lois to hold on for a moment and went into his room. He returned with a little box that was covered in dark blue velvet. She stared at the box. He looked down briefly at the box but didn't open it. He sat down beside her.
"Lois," he began softly. "Do you remember when we were covering the story of the invisible man?"She nodded trying to see where this was going. Normally, she would have reminded him that the man wasn't really invisible. He only appeared to be invisible. But she had other things on her mind at the moment. She pulled her eyes away from the box and thought about what he was saying. They had only known each other for a little more than a month at the time. "At that time, a jewelry store was robbed by a second invisible man and Perry sent us to investigate. The man only stole gold so there were a number of diamond rings left behind. Do you remember that?" She remembered the incident quite clearly. She had been annoyed about being on such a far fetched story and so she had looked at almost everything in the store rather than working. It was then that she had seen the most beautiful diamond engagement ring and had pointed it out to Clark. She looked at him in surprise.
"They couldn't have still have had that ring?" It was more of a statement than a question. Clark shook his head slowly.
"I went back to the store and bought the ring later that week." Lois' mouth fell open. "I knew that I wanted you to marry me within a week of our first meeting and I hoped that some day I would have the opportunity to ask you… So when you told me that you liked that ring, I bought it in hopes that one day… Lois, I have loved you from the moment I met you. I know that isn't how it is supposed to happen but for me it did. There is nothing I would like more than for you to marry me but… I'm just not sure that the time is right. I mean, are you running to me or are you running away from Luthor. This ring," he still had not opened the box, "will be here for you whenever you are ready but there's no rush. Not having an apartment or wanting to save on expenses are not good reasons. I will wait for you as long as you need to be sure."
Lois just stared at him. How could she not have realized that this man was in love with her? Then, within an instant of asking herself the question, she knew the answer: she hadn't wanted to know. To allow herself to realize that Clark loved her would have put her in the position of having to do something about it and she hadn't been prepared to do that. Yet, on some level she must have known. That was why he always made her feel so safe and protected. That is why she came here when her life was in danger or she was hurting. She knew that he would never let any harm come to her. She was subconsciously afraid to recognize his feelings because she was scared of losing that love. She had never known love like Clark had always given her, and she was scared that if she acknowledged that love, she would be in danger of losing it.
She took a moment to formulate her response. She had brought up the idea of marriage in a casual manner, but he deserved to honestly know how she really felt about the subject. She took a deep breath and plunged ahead. "Clark, I don't think I told you why I actually married Lex, but I think you need to know. I told your mother about it, but I don't think I ever told you." He shook his head. "Well, after I had accepted Lex's proposal, I was in turmoil. I couldn't get peace with the idea because every time I let myself think, all I could think about was you. I quit working at the Planet early because I thought that maybe if I didn't see you every day, I would be able to put you out of my mind. But still when I would go to sleep, there you would be again. I can remember waking up in the morning and discovering that you weren't beside me and feeling like I had just had my heart ripped out of my chest. But, you know me. Never one to admit I had made a mistake, I plunged ahead. I would go out running at night and would run until I had collapsed. Then, on my wedding day, when I saw you at the church, I broke. Somehow I lost my grip on reality and when I said 'I do,' I thought I was saying it to you. When I realized what I had done…" She took a deep breath. "Let's just say that you weren't the only one who felt like their heart had been decimated that day. Marrying you is not my attempt to run away from Lex. I love you Clark and I now realize that I have for a long time. You used the word 'forever'? I now know that that is what you and I are forever. I want to marry you because I want to get started on forever as soon as possible."
Clark's arms went around her. Their lips found each other and they spent the next several minutes trying to express with lips and hands what they could not find the words to say the depth of their love for one another. Finally, Lois pulled back from Clark and putting a hand under his chin looked into his eyes and said pointedly, "So, do I hear a question?"
Clark smiled, slipped down on one knee and said simply, "Lois, will you marry me?"
"Well, maybe… yes yes yes yes yes yes," and with that flung herself back into his arms. After a few more minutes Clark drew back and picked up the small velvet box and opened it. It was even more beautiful that Lois had remembered because it was now from Clark, the man she loved. It was not anywhere near as expensive as the one from Lex, but she would not have traded this one for a hundred rings from Lex. Clark slipped it out of the box and onto her finger. He then bent over and softly kissed both the ring and her finger in one tender touch. She felt tears flowing freely down her cheeks and when he raised his head, she saw that he had tears on his face too.
Perry White looked smugly up at the television in the newsroom at the Planet. The announcer at LNN was telling of a report in this morning's edition of the Daily Planet that Lex Luthor had allegedly tried to kill Superman and Superwoman the night before and was currently in custody awaiting his arraignment. He promised viewers that they would be kept apprised of any new developments. The Planet's two prize reporters had given Perry White another scoop. Perry had seen that he had received something further from Lois but hadn't read it because he wanted to savor the moment of having the newscaster refer to a story in the Daily Planet. He walked back into his office and checked the computer and the newsroom was treated to a rare sound, Perry White laughing.
Perry was tempted to run the article the way Lois had revised it. However, he would have done it just to see her face. He knew that such information was the providence of rags like the Dirt Digger not a great metropolitan newspaper. But he was grateful that after so much pain, two people that he truly cared about had finally discovered how much they cared for each other. If truth be told, Perry had recognized that Clark loved Lois almost from the beginning and after watching the two interact for a while, he decided to team them up. He recognized that their styles complemented each other but more than that he knew that Clark was just what Lois needed and figured that making them partners would give her an opportunity to understand that too. Clark was the one person who could keep Lois grounded and to realize that it had finally come to pass made him happy. However, he was also worried. Lex would not take this gracefully and given Luthor's great wealth, he was afraid that the team of Lane and Kent still had some painful times in front of them.
They decided that Lois would fly up to the penthouse and that Clark would use the elevator. Security cameras would not have caught Lois leaving the building the night before and so it seemed prudent for them to make it appear as if she had been there the whole time. It would leave Lois alone in the penthouse for a brief amount of time but she decided that she would spend that time watching Clark come up to the penthouse with her x-ray vision. As soon as she reached the balcony she did her spin change into Lois Lane and stepped into the penthouse. She called down to security and told them that she was expecting Mr. Kent and to send him right up. At first the security guard objected. Mr. Luthor had left explicit orders that Clark Kent was not to be admitted under any circumstances. Lois felt a surge of rage and demanded to know when that had been done. "On your wedding day," she was informed.
"Well, in case you haven't read the paper yet, my… Lex is in jail. So you are taking orders from me now and I insist that Mr. Kent be allowed in here immediately." She slammed down the phone. How dare Lex tell security to keep her friends out! The young security guard at the front was not sure what to do. He hadn't known about Lex Luthor being in jail. Surely his wife would have the right to say if someone were to be allowed in so when Clark strode through the front doors of Lex towers, he was granted immediate access.
Clark had asked about getting boxes and tape for packing her things but she had assured him that most of her things still hadn't been unpacked and that she still had the empty boxes stored from her move into the penthouse. So there would only be a little bit of packing to do. They decided that they would pack up her things and load them in the jeep. She had no furniture since she hadn't needed to bring any with her and so Lex had decided that the best thing was just to sublet her apartment furnished. Even her fish were still back at her old apartment being cared for by a stranger. She shook her head as she remembered how, after accepting Lex's proposal, she had seemed so unable to make decisions that she had just let him make them all. Even quitting work at the Planet had been Lex's idea. Maybe if she had stayed till the end… But she already knew the answer to that. She could hardly believe how her own stubbornness could have caused her to be such a fool. Once the things were piled in the jeep, the plan was that they would pick up their blood tests, go to city hall and get married and then go to cover the Lex's arraignment. After that, they would write up the story and go back to Clark's apartment for hopefully, an uninterrupted night of love making. Lois smiled. It felt good to think about that here which was still haunted by memories, some of which she was sure would stay with her for the rest of her life.
The blood tests had been an issue. Since both of them had skin that was impervious to puncture, the issue of giving blood for a blood test was a difficult one. Besides, it was not wise under any circumstances for Clark to have his blood analyzed. One would assume that his blood would be different from an ordinary human's and that would probably be seen even on a simple blood test. So they opted instead to get phony blood tests. It was simple enough to do. Lois had a source inside a doctor's clinic. She had simply offered the guy a hundred dollars, saying that she needed one to try to get information about corruption inside city hall in respect to marriages and that to do that, she had to pose as a person seeking a marriage license and that she couldn't do that without blood tests. Clark wasn't so sure but Lois assured him that they were only to warn couples of possible complications with pregnancy in mixing certain rare blood types. That wasn't of any use to them since he was Kryptonian. She had then suddenly been struck by a thought. "Can we have children?" she had asked.
"I don't know." Lois thought about that for a minute and when she didn't respond he continued, "Does that make a difference? Do you want to have children? Maybe we should find that out before getting married, I mean, if I can't maybe you will want to reconsider…" He was stopped by Lois' kiss.
"Clark," she said, leaning into his embrace, "I don't know if I want children but I do know that if I do have children there is only one man that I want to father them." As she said it, she realized how true the statement was. She couldn't even imagine having children with anyone but Clark, but having his children, there was something about that idea that she found incredible. So Clark agreed to the purchase of someone else's blood tests. The tests were to be sent to the Lex towers which Lois secretly enjoyed. She would pick them up at the security desk on her way out.
Clark arrived and they began to pack her things. As Lois packed stuff from the bathroom while Clark began emptying her dresser. In the bottom of one of the drawers his eyes nearly missed some folded sheets of paper. He looked at them trying to decide if they were something that should be packed or thrown out. He opened the papers up and saw Lois' handwriting. It looked like some sort of poem so he began to read.
It was very late at night, But the moon hung over the city Illuminating you
and I I didn't know how far you were willing to take this with me But I just had to try
Oh for such a long time I battled with my inner mind Deliberating what I should do I knew distinctly right from wrong But I could not convince myself Because I wanted you
I was the one who was out of control I was the one who pushed toward my goal I was the one who took advantage of you Now I am the one who doesn't know what to do Because I've lost my best friend Somewhere between the sheets
Clark gasped. It was about their night together. He stopped and looked back over the portion he had already read. He knew that he really should ask Lois' permission before continuing but he couldn't seem to stop reading.
Based on a misconception I had my night of glory with you As you touched me intimately Whispered 'I love you's' in my ear I let you go on thinking that my feelings were real as you made love to me
I was such a fool such a short time ago Baby, I've been sorry since then To hit you with such a coup And I've realized now That despite my word and deeds back then, I'm honestly in love with you.
I was the one who was out of control I was the one who pushed toward my goal I was the one who took advantage of you Now I am the one who doesn't know what to do Because I've lost my best friend Somewhere between the sheets
I hurt you deeply, darling A hurt so deep it's unforgivable I can't talk to you All I have left in my memory Is the love I feel and the pain I caused Experiencing the taboo
I've lost my best friend And the man who holds my heart There's an unhappy end A lonely life apart
Since I lost my best friend Somewhere between the sheets Oh, I lost you my darling Somewhere between the sheets.
As he came to the end, Clark found that he could hardly breath. It was a good thing that he could hold his breath for twenty minutes or so because he needed the ability now. He went back to the beginning and read the whole thing again before he was distracted by a movement to his right. He looked up and saw Lois standing in the doorway of the bedroom watching him. She had heard that first gasp and rushed into the bedroom and froze. She immediately knew what he was reading and didn't know what to do. She was afraid to interrupt. He was so deeply involved in the document in front of him that the building blowing up around him wouldn't have been noticed. She watched the pain on his face and found that it had her as captivated as her song lyrics had him. Their eyes caught and he saw tears running down her face. That snapped him out of his trance and he crossed the room and immediately had her in his arms.
"I think we need to talk about this," Clark said. Lois only nodded still trying to get control of her emotions. He led her over to a small bench that sat up against one of the walls of the bedroom. "When did you write this?"
"The evening after I first told you that I loved you."
"When I didn't believe you and threw you out of my place." She nodded slightly. Clark suddenly noticed that Lois wasn't looking at him. He reached over and placed a hand on her face gently raising her face to look at him. She still tried to avoid his eyes. "Talk to me Lois," he finally said.
"It's just… Clark, I'm so sorry. I ruined the first time we made love. I ruined the first time you told me you loved me. I'm so sorry." She buried her face in her hands and hunched over. Clark could feel her shoulders shake as her body convulsed with unheard sobs. No. This couldn't be allowed to continue.
"Look at me Lois." When she didn't he knelt down directly in front of her and removed her hands from over her eyes. She finally looked and saw in his eyes only love. "I'm not sorry about the first time we slept together."
"How can you say that?"
"Had it not been for you seducing me that night, I probably would never have had enough courage to tell you that I love you. Then Lex would have asked you to marry him and you would have done so without ever knowing how I felt. I think that part of the reason we are together today is because making love forced you to confront your feelings for me. I think you needed for us to make love and even to marry Lex to accept that you love me. So, no, I don't regret it. I'm not saying it hasn't been painful, and I can't say that at times I haven't wished that I didn't love you, but if these things hadn't happened, I would probably have lost you to Luthor." Then he added with a grin, "And I like where we are now a lot better than wondering if you would ever see me as more than a friend." She finally smiled at him. It was a weak watery smile, but it was a smile. She put her arms around his neck and held him close. When she had finally calmed down he picked up the song lyrics that he had set down on the bench and carefully folded it again. "It's beautiful," he said to her. Then he got up and gently tucked it into one of the boxes and they returned to the task at hand.
After their talk, Lois felt a weight lift from her shoulders. Although she was relieved to be with Clark now, it was not until this moment that she had really been able to forgive herself for her actions a few weeks ago. He had given her that and once again she was amazed by how he saw the world and how he loved her. She was determined to make sure that he never again regretted it.
Before leaving the apartment, Lois took her engagement and wedding rings from Lex and left them sitting on his desk. She didn't want them even if she could have sold them for an obscene amount of money. With that concluding gesture, she and Clark picked up her final boxes and headed for the car.
By the time they arrived at city hall, they were giddy. Both were wearing stupid grins and making stupid comments. It was much different from her wedding to Lex. Then all she had felt was a fierce determination to go through with it. She felt no happiness or pleasure during the experience. She had felt sick to her stomach and had forced a smile to remain on her face. Now she couldn't seem to keep the smile off her face. Clark was as giddy as she was. He could hardly believe that he was about to get everything he had ever wanted. Neither were concerned about the fact that they were not having a big wedding. They just wanted to be married and the wedding just seemed like a pesky little detail to be taken care off. Besides, there was something very appealing about the idea of eloping and they planned to have a reception for all their friends when things settled down a bit. They laughingly made their way into the appropriate office to get their wedding license. There was also a justice of the peace available in an office down the hall to perform the marriage ceremony.
Lois and Clark reached the front of the line quickly. At this time of day on a week day, the office was not crowded. They provided the clerk with all necessary documentation including her annulment papers from the Pope. Clark stood slightly behind Lois with his arms wrapped around her waist as the clerk checked over the documents. She leaned back into him and he bent his head down to kiss her lightly on the neck. She bit her lip slightly to keep her emotions under control. If she wasn't careful they would be consummating the marriage before the ceremony. They were brought back to their surroundings when the clerk suddenly excused himself saying that he needed to speak to his supervisor. As he left, Lois and Clark moved from their present embrace and looked at each other in concern. "What was that all about?" Lois asked, but Clark only shrugged.
It was at least five minutes before the clerk returned with an older gentleman to speak to the concerned young couple at the window. "Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent, I presume. I'm Laurence Fisher, the head of this department."
"What seems to be the problem, Mr. Fisher," Clark asked, impatient to get through the small talk and find out the problem.
"I'm afraid that you can't get married."
"What!!" Lois and Clark said in unison.
"Well, Ms. Lane here is still married to Mr. Luthor."
"I am not," Lois objected rustling through the papers they had given the clerk and pulling out the annulment from the Pope. "Look," she said, thrusting the paper into Mr. Fisher's hands.
"I've seen this ma'am. But that doesn't legally end your marriage."
"But surely an annulment signed by the Pope…" Clark began to object.
"An annulment by the Pope is a religious devise to allow people who are Catholic to get married again in the Catholic church. But it doesn't end a marriage legally. You need an annulment, a decree of nullity or a divorce issued by the State of New Troy."
"But…" But there was nothing else to say.
As they walked back to the jeep, Lois was fuming in typical Lois style. "The Catholic church can marry people so they ought to be able to dissolve marriages too. What type of stupid law is this? We should do a story on the hypocrisy of a system that gives the church the power to perform marriages and yet doesn't allow…" Lois voice trailed off as she caught sight of Clark. He hadn't said a word since they had discovered that Lois was still legally married to Lex Luthor. His shoulders were slightly slumped and his hands were buried deep in his pockets. His eyes were unfocused and that smile that had been stuck on his face earlier was not at all in existence now. Lois' mind immediately remembered the conversation she and Clark had had over breakfast this morning about him not being able to look at himself if they had had an affair. Her tirade completely forgotten, she turned to Clark. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Clark. I really thought that an annulment from the Pope would end my marriage. I would never have slept with you if I hadn't."
Clark looked at her and realized what she thought was bothering him. "No Lois, it's not that. What happened last night between us… I mean, we acted in good faith so I'm not bothered by that."
"It's just that… Well I mean… You've still married to Luthor and I don't think we should… I mean, until we've straightened that out I don't think we should… But I'm not sure that it is fair to you. I know that you don't feel the same way that I do about this. But Lois, you are still his wife… I just don't think…"
Lois immediately understood what he was saying. He was conflicted about their relationship. He didn't want them to have a physical relationship again until her marriage was really over but after last night he wasn't sure that it was fair of him to ask her to wait. She took his arm and led him to a park bench on the grounds in front of city hall. He had taught her more about love then she had ever learned from her own parents. Now was her turn to show him that she had learned those lessons and could love him the way that he had always loved her. This was important to him so it was important to her. In this case, making love to Clark meant not making love to Clark and she was determined to give him that. "Clark," she began slowly, "I understand. You want to put our physical relationship on hold until I can legally end my relationship with Lex. That's what you are trying to say, isn't it?"
He nodded. "But Lois, I'm not sure that is fair to you. After last night, it's not going to be easy."
She smiled. He was right, after all just having his arms around her and feeling his breath and lips on her throat had made her weak in the knees. "No, it won't be easy but I love you and I know this is important to you. That makes it important to me too. So, buster," she said poking him in the chest with her finger and smiling, "just keep your hands to yourself." He grinned back and got up and followed her to the car.
Just as they were about to get in the car, both of them remembered another problem. At the same time they both said, "The article." They looked around for a phone booth and Lois went to call Perry.
"Perry," Lois said when she got him on the line, "you need to take any references to an annulment out of Clark's sidebar on Lex. It seems that it is not legally binding in New Troy. I'm still married to Lex and we really don't want to tip our hand."
"What!!" Perry exclaimed.
"Oh and… that reference I made to what I did last night…"
"Don't worry honey, I'm the only one who saw that. I was tempted to give the information to Cat Grant but decided against it. How did you find out that the annulment wasn't legally binding?"
"We went down to city hall to get married and…" her voice broke.
"Ok, you and Clark get the story on Luthor's arraignment and then get back to the Planet. I'm going to help you plan your next step. Don't worry, honey, we'll get you free of Lex and married to Clark before you can say 'I do.'"
"Thanks, Perry." Lois smiled.
Lex Luthor was in rare form by the time he was scheduled to appear for his arraignment. His lawyer had failed to get him a meeting with Nigel St. John. He had not been allowed any additional phone calls, and he had not heard from his lawyer since their talk this morning. He hadn't even been given his suit for his appearance in court. When he was escorted into the court room both Lois and Clark were there. Lex caught Lois' eyes as soon as he entered the court room. She was amazed at how different he appeared wearing his orange jump suit and having both his arms and legs shackled. Cameras all over the room caught the unusual sight. When she caught his eye she shivered involuntarily. The evil and even a touch of madness was clearly visible. Lois was amazed that she had thought him charming and that she had been able to convince herself that she could love him. All she felt now was contempt. Clark felt an urge to put his arm around her to give her strength but resisted. Instead he sent her a telepathic message. >Are you ok?<
>I'm fine, Clark. I just don't understand how I could have married him.<
>Well, we will rectify that soon.<
Lex Luthor's lawyer never appeared at the arraignment. He had taken Luthor's advise to run far and hide deep. He knew the judge Luthor wanted to corrupt and that that wasn't a feasible option. It might have been possible to have this judge replaced before the trial, but it wouldn't get Luthor out today. So Mr. Taylor decided to get while the getting was good.
As a result, Lex Luthor was given the option of remanding his arraignment to the next day so that he could obtain new counsel or represent himself for today. He, of course, elected to represent himself even rejecting the help that a court appointed counsel could have given him. He entered a plea of not guilty to all charges and then the subject turned to bail. He was able to post a great quantity of money for bail, he had no criminal record, he had solid roots in the city and was a well respected member of the community. However, as the prosecution pointed out, he was a high flight risk given his access to unlimited amounts of money. Also, the charge was two counts of attempted murder and one count of forcible confinement. At this point in the proceedings, Superwoman showed up. She made a passionate plea to the judge. Given how well she did, Superman didn't feel a need to put in an appearance. There was only one tense moment at the beginning when Clark noticed that Superwoman was still wearing her engagement ring from him. However, a quick telepathic message to Superwoman rectified that situation. Once she was finished, she disappeared and Lois Lane came back into the court room. "Superwoman did great," Clark said.
"Wish I hadn't had to go to the washroom," Lois responded.
"Well, don't worry, I took good notes for the story."
"I did manage to catch her on her way out though and she gave me a good quote for our story."
Clark looked at her appreciatively. "Good work." They were obviously speaking for the benefit of the reporters around them. After all, Lois wanted to say something in their article that hadn't been said in the court room and how else could they have explained it. But she also enjoyed the looks of envy she was getting from the other reporters.
The judge denied bail and remanded Lex Luthor in custody until trial. After the arraignment, Luthor's eyes searched the court room again. When his eyes fell on Nigel St. John, he said, "Get me a lawyer and find a way to get me the hell out of here." Then he once again found Lois. "I will get out and we will be together again darling." Lois shivered.
As they were leaving the court room, Clark excused himself to speak to Henderson. He was in charge of gathering evidence for the Luthor case. When Clark came back, he was carrying a small tape. "What's that?" Lois asked.
"It's a copy of the surveillance tape from last night…"
"The one that recorded Lex's attempted murder of Superman."
"Clark, what do you want that for?"
"I've never seen how kryptonite effects Superman. I also want to see what happened since I wasn't conscious for all of it." The second sentence was said very softly so that only someone with super hearing could have heard it. And with that Lane and Kent headed for the Daily Planet.
Back at the Planet, Lois and Clark quickly typed up their story on the arraignment. They were too late to get it in the afternoon edition so it would go in tomorrow's paper. After that was done they went into the office of the Editor and Chief and collapsed on the couch exhausted. It had been an emotionally exhausting day for both of them. Lois, without thinking, reached a hand over and lightly rubbed Clark's thigh. It only took a moment for her to realize what she was doing and quickly removed her hand, but Clark could still feel every place where she had touched him. This was going to be one of the hardest things they had ever done. Last night had made physical contact between them so natural. Now, to have to go back to a strictly platonic relationship was a constant fight against their instincts. Perry noticed the action and felt for the pair. It was then that he also noticed that a very different ring was adorning Lois' finger. "Can I see?" he said indicating the ring to Lois. Lois beamed and passed her left hand over to Perry. "I like this one better than that big rock Luthor gave you. It suits your hand better."
"I like it better too Perry," Lois said, smiling at Clark.
"So, I take it from our conversation on the phone today that you are keeping your relationship under wraps until you can straighten out this Luthor mess."
"No, Perry, until my marriage ends to Lex, Clark and I are only friends and partners." When Perry looked at her in disbelief Lois said, "I'm serious, Perry." He smiled slightly at that. This was bound to be one bumpy ride.
"Well then Clark, tell me, why would you give someone who is just a friend and partner a diamond ring?" Both their faces fell. They hadn't even thought of that. Lois instinctively grabbed her left hand to protect the ring. It felt so right on her finger.
"He's right, Lois. You shouldn't be wearing that ring at the moment."
"You've taking back my ring?" she asked in a small voice.
"No," Clark answered softly. "I'm just saying that maybe you shouldn't be wearing it on your hand. What if you put it on a chain around your neck and kept it hidden for the time being?" Lois brightened a little. In retrospect, Clark probably should have taken back the ring but he really didn't want to and he could tell that Lois wasn't willing to give it up. Besides her possessiveness of the ring gave him a warm glow inside.
"Okay, now Lois, did you move out of the penthouse today?" Lois nodded. "So where will you be living. You know you're always welcome to stay with Alice and I."
"Thanks, Perry, but I called Lucy after I spoke to you this afternoon." This was news to Clark. "She said that I could come and stay with her for now. I was planning to move in with…" She didn't even bother to finish the thought.
"Good. So that's taken care of. Honey, I've set up an appointment for you with a lawyer for tomorrow morning. Her name is Constance Hunter. She has a reputation as a straight shooter and as a favor to me, she has agreed to give you a good deal on the fees. I assume you will want Clark to go with you." Lois nodded. "Okay. I will give you as much time as I can to work on this thing but I am still going to need stories. I will, however, give any minor stories to the others." Perry handed Lois Constance Hunter's business card.
"Okay. I want you kids to go home and get some sleep. You both look exhausted and you have a big day tomorrow." And with that he sent them on their way. They really did look exhausted. This wasn't going to be easy for either of them.
They arrived shortly at Lucy's place. She hadn't spoken to Lois since the day after her wedding and so was not expecting to hear that her sister had moved out. But she wasn't particularly surprised either. She figured that it was just a matter of time before that happened. But when she opened the door and saw Lois and Clark standing there, she was shocked. Although she had tried to convince Lois that there was still hope for her and Clark, she really didn't believe it. How could Clark forgive her sister for all the pain that she had caused him. She had the same perspective of love that Lois had. A perspective that said that if things got too difficult, you simply bailed so to see Clark helping Lois move her stuff was baffling. When she saw Clark, her mouth fell open and she was unable to say anything. Lois and Clark both looked at the stunned look on Lucy's face and burst out laughing. It helped relieve some of the tension that Lois and Clark had felt after the events of the day.
"Yes, Luce, he forgave me," Lois said to her sister as they walked in with her boxes. Once Lois' things were unloaded, Clark told Lois that he was going to go. They invited him to stay for dinner but he declined.
"I think you could use some time with your sister," he told Lois. He touched her lightly on the cheek and looked deep into her eyes saying with his eyes what he did not feel free to say to her out loud, given her marital status. Lois smiled at him. He was right. She needed to talk about everything that had happened and Lucy was the person she needed to talk to about it.
As he was turning to leave, he was surprised when Lucy came over to him and gave him a big hug. He looked at her in confusion. "Thanks for taking care of my sister," she said to him as she hugged him. He looked at her and smiled.
"I could never do any less," and then with a last look at Lois, he left.
As soon as he left, Lucy turned to her sister, "So, tell me," She demanded.
Lois laughed and began to tell Lucy the whole story. As she did, she started to feel better. There may still be obstacles to her and Clark being together, but when she thought back to where they had been, she realized how far they had come. By the time she got to last nights events, Lex suspecting her of having an affair with Superman and trying to kill Superman, Lucy was shaking her head. "So he doesn't know anything about you and Clark?" she asked.
"Not really. He found out that I had slept with Clark before we were married and that it had ruined our friendship so I don't think he will make that connection." She remembered the incident all too clearly but didn't tell Lucy about the rape. Instead, she wanted to keep this light and focus on Clark. "So then, after the attempt on Superman's life, Superwoman did me a favor and asked the Pope to grant an annulment of my marriage to Lex and he gave it to her."
"So then, you're free to be with Clark"
"No. It turns out that the Pope can't legally dissolve a marriage. So, Clark and I are going to see a lawyer tomorrow to try to find a way out of this."
"I don't understand. If you and Clark are really together, why are you here instead of staying at his place?"
"We aren't going to be together until I'm free of Lex."
Lucy looked confused. "I thought you left Lex?"
"Yes, but I'm still legally married to him."
"You mean… Why?"
Lois laughed. This concept would be outside Lucy's frame of reference. Lucy's attitudes to these things was well known to Lois. Lois had no great moral standards when it came to sexual relationships. She had had several casual sexual relationships in her life. However, she was not as enraptured by the subject as her sister. Lucy enjoyed casual sex. Lois had had enough bad experiences with men to be much more cautious. It fascinated her that she had been willing to have a one night stand with Clark, but hadn't been willing to sleep with Lex until they were married. She had rationalized to herself at the time that this was because she lusted after Clark but was trying to build a life with Lex. In truth, she now realized that she didn't trust Lex enough to want to give herself to him like that. How could she have married a man that she didn't trust? It baffled her again. What had she been thinking? She almost felt as if she hadn't been able to think from the moment she had accepted Lex's proposal. However, back to the problem at hand. How to explain Clark's desire to wait. Suddenly she realized that it wasn't only Clark's desire. She wanted to do this right too.
"I'm not sure how to explain this, Luce. It was Clark's choice but one that I agree with. As long as I'm married to Lex, I can't really belong to Clark. So, we have decided to wait until my marriage is legally over before taking our relationship beyond friendship."
"Wow… This was Clark's idea?" Lois nodded. "Wow. Well I guess you don't have to worry about him ever cheating on you with morals like that… I guess that also explains the lack of a good night kiss." Lois smiled. "Wow!!" Lucy said again. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the concept. "So you spent one incredible night with him weeks ago and now, after you realize that you love him you have to wait to end your marriage before…"
"Well, actually…" said Lois and then paused
"Last night when Superwoman brought me the annulment, I thought my marriage was over so I went to Clark's and…"
Lois looked at her sister for a moment debating. Then she shook her head. "I'm going to have to leave that to your imagination. But it is going to make waiting hard."
Clark had been right. Talking to Lucy had helped. As she went and tucked herself in bed she felt better than she had since she had discovered that the Pope's annulment was not legally binding. She was close to sleep when she heard Clark's voice in her head >Lois.<
>Yeah< her sleepy voice said.
>Did I wake you?<
>No, Clark. It's okay. What's happening?<
>I was watching the news. There's been an earthquake in Peru. Are you up for it?<
>I'll meet you at your place and we'll leave from there.<
The work had been long and hard but it managed to rejuvenate both of them more than a good night's sleep would have. They arrived back in the early morning hours and managed to get a couple of hours sleep before it was time to head off to the lawyer's appointment.
Before they arrived at the lawyer's office Lois and Clark had decided that they had to tell her everything if they were going to get as much help as possible. Not about Superman and Superwoman, of course, but about their relationship. Most people who go to see a lawyer only give half of the story, but Lois and Clark knew that if they were going to get help then they were going to have to trust her. The Chief had made it clear that he trusted her. One of the reasons that he had chosen her was that he didn't think that she could be corrupted by Luthor's money. They decided that they would go with his assessment. After all, he wasn't editor and chief because he could yodel. While they sat in the waiting room a very attractive woman with long blond hair and glasses wearing a very professional suit and a bow tie entered the room. "Lois Lane?" she asked walking toward the couple. As she approached she stuck out her hand and Lois and Clark both rose to meet her. "I'm Constance Hunter," she said as she took Lois' hand. Lois introduced herself and then introduced Clark. "Ah… the other half of that great by-line at the Planet," Constance said as she turned to take Clark's hand. "Would you come with me please?" she said, as she gestured down the hall of the impressive looking building.
"Do you mind if he comes too?"
"Of course not. If you would rather have him there, that's fine. But I assume, Mr. Kent, that you appreciate that nothing that we say in there is for publication unless Ms. Lane authorizes it.
Clark smiled. He liked and trusted this woman instantly. "Oh course, ma'am."
"Ma'am." Constance turned to Lois "I bet he opens car doors, too."
Lois smiled. She felt an instant kinship to this woman. "That's our Clark." By the time they arrived at her office, everyone was relaxed. Lois and Clark were directed and settled into chairs as Constance closed the door. Her office was clean except for large piles of file folders and papers everywhere. Constance joked that if there were no lawyers, the rain forest would be safe.
Once they had settled in and Constance had asked the secretary to bring them all some coffee, Constance turned to Lois. "So then, what can I do for you?"
"Well, as you may know, a few weeks ago I married Lex Luthor. I knew immediately that it had been a mistake and I want out."
"Okay. Why don't you start from the beginning and we will take it from there."
"What would you consider the beginning?"
"Well, why don't we start with Mr. Luthor's proposal?"
Lois thought for a moment and then shook her head. "I think it may be wise to start a bit further back." She looked over at Clark who nodded slightly. "You see, Clark and I have been partners and best friends for over a year now…" Lois began. Constance looked over at Clark. She had been extremely curious about why a business associate would have accompanied the current and hopefully soon to be former, Mrs. Luthor, to meet with her lawyer. She was glad and yet kind of surprised that she was being given this information so quickly and easily. Lois told about the night they spent together and the problems that had resulted. This seemed like a curious place to start and normally Constance would have tried to direct her client into more relevant areas but the people in front of her were not ordinary people, they were the best news team in Metropolis, probably the world. They already knew how to separate the herring from the backbone, so to speak, so she decided to let Lois continue. Lois told about Lex's proposal and then the distance between her and Clark and her decision to leave the Planet. She spoke of how confused she felt and the recurring dreams she kept having of Clark. Then she told of the wedding, how she had felt and that when she said 'I do' she had really believed that she was marrying Clark. Constance was beginning to see how the story fit together and was rapidly taking notes.
When she spoke about her feelings after the ceremony, Clark began to shift in his chair. Lois paused in her story trying to decide how to proceed when Clark said, "Maybe you'd feel more comfortable if I waited outside for this next part…" and rose as though to leave.
"NO!!" Lois said immediately grabbing the sleeve of his jacket. Clark immediately sat back down and looked at her curiously. She was obviously doing battle in her mind about something. When she didn't speak, Clark looked at Constance who was watching them both curiously and then moved his chair over closer to Lois', put his hand up to her cheek and turned her face to look directly into her eyes.
"Talk to me," he said softly.
"Oh Clark. It's just… well, I really need you to be here but I know that this next part is going to hurt you so…"
"Shhhh," Clark replied moving his thumb gently on her face. "Don't worry about me. I'm a reasonably strong guy. I can handle it." That got a smile out of Lois. He removed his hand and Lois turned back to Constance who had taken in this entire drama. These were two people deeply in love.
Lois accepted his reassurance and continued. She told about the hopeless feeling of her wedding night. How she had stayed in the bathroom as long as she could knowing that when she walked out the door she would belong to Lex. She told of how he had offered her champagne and how she had refused it because her stomach was in such turmoil that she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to keep it down. She didn't tell much about the details of the night itself just that she was wishing that she were anywhere but there. Constance handed her a box of kleenex and she took one, wiped her eyes, took a deep breath and continued.
Lois explained how the next morning Lex had been called away on business and how for the first time she had been truly scared of him. She told of how as soon as he had left she had called Lucy and she smiled slightly. She recalled the conversation and how she had suddenly realized that she loved Clark, but how she knew that it was too late. That he would never be able to forgive her. The sound of hopelessness in her words caused Clark, who had been working hard at keeping his emotions in check, to visibly cringe. She told of Lex's late return and, again without getting into details how she had once again fulfilled her marital obligations. Then she told of getting out of bed, her shower, how unclean she felt and how she didn't want to be naked in the room with Lex. Clark flashed back to yesterday morning and how comfortable she had seemed with him. She told of putting on Clark's shirt and holding the teddy bear that Clark had won for her and falling asleep by the window. Clark hadn't noticed the tears on his own face until Constance passed the box of kleenex over to him.
Lois continued explaining about the fight with Lex the next morning and the flight of the bear over the balcony. She told about looking for it but being unable to find it and then about her trip to see Clark. When she described the scene at his place (and she did it in such a way that he was not seen at all as the one at fault), Constance heard Clark's breath catch in his throat. She then told about the song she had written, Constance had asked to see it. Since Lois had been expecting this, she removed the papers from her briefcase and handed them to Constance. She was silent as Constance took a few moments to read. Then looked back at Lois who seemed unwilling to proceed. They all sat in silence for a moment before Lois finally continued in a shaky voice. She had never said this out loud and seemed to be fighting with her emotions.
"After I had finished the song, I felt a little better. Lex was still working so I went and climbed into bed. I had put the finished song in the bottom of one of my dresser drawers. I thought I had thrown out my rough draft but I guess I had missed the first page down to where it says 'I let you go on thinking that my feelings were real as you made love to me' because I had just fallen asleep when Lex came storming in." Constance looked concerned; Clark looked horrified. Constance quickly reread the first part of the song and then handed the paper to Clark who did the same while Lois mentally prepared herself to tell the story.
Lex had come in the apartment at about midnight that third night of their marriage. He was angry at the incompetence of his staff allowing this problem at Lex Labs to get so out of control. He removed his jacket and threw it forcefully across the room when something caught his eye. A paper had been left on top of the grand piano. He walked over, picked it up and began to read. At first he thought that it was about him and Lois and smiled. She was writing poetry to him. But by the time he got to the last line, he knew what it was really about 'Kent' he fumed. So that was what the big fight had been about. He had been informed by sources that something had happened between Lois and Clark and that they could hardly stand to be around each other. That is why Luthor had chosen that moment to propose. Now that she was alienated from the only man who could have talked her out of this, other than Superman of course, it seemed like the perfect time and it had been. But she had slept with Kent while they were dating. He stormed into the room and confronted her. He had demanded to know when this had happened (although he already knew) and then had set out to show her who she belonged to. She had struggled but to no avail. His advantage in being awake, stronger than her and in a more advantageous position combined with his fury and her sense of hopelessness made resistance futile. Afterwards, he had held her until he fell asleep. Unlike the night before, she had been afraid to move out of his arms and had laid awake next to him until he left to go to work the following morning. He had been sweet and gentle to her when he left; telling her that he would be home as soon as he could. It was as if he didn't understand what he had done to her. After he left, she finally let herself cry.
Now Constance had joined the two in her office in needing a kleenez. She had heard such stories from clients before but not from one who was a paid story teller of the caliber of Lois Lane. She was, of course, not weeping but she had to brush away a couple of tears that had managed to slip down her cheeks.
The next day had been the day of the big storm. Lois told of the restoration of her friendship with Clark and how Lex never returned that night. She also told how, having gained the strength necessary to resist him (emotional strength because, of course, she couldn't tell Constance about her new physical strength) she moved out to the couch and told him that she wanted a divorce. He had slapped her and had refused to agree to a divorce and then the night on the stakeout and even how close they had come to making love. She told how Clark had been the one to put on the breaks but how they had confessed their love for each other that night and how comforting it had been to fall asleep in his arms.
Lois then came to the incident that landed Lex in jail. She gave excruciating details that had been left out of the newspaper article and how Superwoman had saved her and then done her a favor by going to Europe to see the Pope and get her an annulment. She produced the piece of paper for Constance. She then told of how she believed that ended her marriage to Lex and how she had gone to Clark. She told how they had both believed that her marriage was legally over when she had spent that night with Clark.
"How did you find out so soon that this isn't legally binding?" Constance asked.
"We went down to city hall the next day to get married," Clark explained. It was the first words he had spoken since telling Lois he would stay if she needed him to.
"So, what's happening now with you two?" Constance prompted. She had to know if there was something more for Luthor to find out about.
"We have gone back to being friends and partners until this mess with Luthor is sorted out. I have moved in with my sister, Lucy, for the time being." Constance looked skeptical. "Trust me, we know how hard it will be, but this man has more will-power than anyone I have ever known." Lois looked tenderly at Clark. "We'll make it. But," she continued looking at Constance, "how soon can you get me out of this?" Constance laughed at that and the mood in the room lightened a little.
"Okay, first things first.
Lex Luthor was having a much better day today. He was finally being allowed to have visitors. Nigel St. John was the first one. He informed Luthor that he had bribed one of the guards who had in exchange promised that he could have as many visitors as he desired on his shift. As he was the guard on duty at the front gate he was in the ideal position. He could allow people through who were not on the approved visitors' list. He even agreed that he would keep a false record of Luthor's visitors. It wasn't as good as being out, but it was a start. 'Thank god for Nigel," Luthor thought.
Lex was also finding that he was something of a celebrity in prison. He had held power among much of the criminal element of Metropolis for some time now but that was held by sheer terror. This was something new. Many of the inmates had been put here by Superman and so his attempt on Superman's life and the fact that he had nearly succeeded made him something of a folk legend. He was certain that given enough time, he would be running the jail. However, he certainly did not intend to be here long enough to find out.
Luthor provided Nigel with a list of people that he wished to see. They included lawyers and accountants and even the pilot of his jet. The accountants and pilot were necessary for him to prepare an escape plan in case the lawyers failed in their quest to get him out of this. Once Luthor was satisfied that Nigel had all the details, he asked, "Where's my wife?"
"We don't actually know, sir." Luthor looked displeased. "She moved out of the penthouse yesterday with the help of Mr. Kent, but she isn't staying with him. At least her things were not there when we broke into his apartment earlier this morning."
"I hope you made sure that it would look like an ordinary break-in."
"Actually sir, he had forgotten to lock his door so he will never even know that we were there. When we left we locked the door behind us so that he wouldn't even be tempted to think about a possible break-in."
"I have an investigator looking into Ms. Lane's… I mean Mrs. Luthor's whereabouts now. What do you want me to do after we find her?"
"Nothing. Just keep her under surveillance for now. I am particularly interested in whether she has any late night visits from Superman." Luthor didn't particularly worry about Clark. Lois may have spent a night with him but the poem he had seen made it clear that he had considered it a more serious liaison than she did. Besides, Kent was nothing and Lois would never settle for nothing. She belonged in the fast lane and he was the fast lane. All he had to do was make her realize it. But he had abounding faith in himself. The only one who he saw as any threat to his success was Superman. But Superman seemed to have a new partner and from what people were saying about them it was entirely possible that Superman would not be showing up at Lois' window very much in the near future. "That will be all for now, Nigel."
"Very good, sir," Nigel said as he rose to leave.
*** Constance took a moment to look at her notes and organize her thoughts. Where to begin? She made a few additional notes and then looked back at the hopeful couple sitting before her. "Let's start with the sure method of ending your marriage, a divorce?" Lois nodded. "You don't need your husband's permission to get a divorce." Lois visibly flinched at the use of the word 'husband' and Constance made a mental note not to refer to him that way again. "You have left your… Mr. Luthor so you can file for divorce once you have been separated for three years without his permission."
"Three years!!" Lois and Clark responded simultaneously.
"Now, if you can get him to agree to a divorce, you can get one immediately, but, from what you have told me, that is not likely to happen." Lois shook her head sadly. "But there are other grounds for divorce such as adultery and cruelty." Lois got a hopeful look on her face and Constance, reading her thoughts said, "And no, you can not commit adultery and use that to get your divorce. The only adultery you can use is Lex Luthor's adultery if he has committed or if he does commit adultery."
"What about cruelty? It seems to me that there are enough acts of cruelty to justify that, Ms. Hunter."
"I agree, Clark, but we have to be able to prove that cruelty was committed. Now, by my notes it seems that we have four incidents that we may be able to use. The bear incident, the slap, the rape and when he tied you up to force you to watch him kill Superman. Did you ever report the rape?"
"No. I was too ashamed." Lois knew that that was only half the answer. The other part was that after everything that she had done she believed that she deserved what Lex had done to her.
"That's too bad. When a woman doesn't report a rape immediately the courts tend to disbelieve her. Do you have any evidence that it happened. Torn clothing or anything like that." Lois shook her head. "Did you have any bruises or marks that anyone might have seen? Did you tell anyone about this incident?" Lois shook her head. "What about the bear incident? Is there any proof?"
"I can verify the bear incident," Clark said. Constance looked at him in amazement as he described finding the bear the next morning.
"Unfortunately, Clark, I don't want to call you as a witness if I can help it. Your relationship with Lois would be called into question and that could do more harm than good. Although you believed that the marriage had been legally ended, you two still committed adultery and courts seem to take the view that if you would cheat on your…" she tried to think of a different word but couldn't "your husband, you can't be trusted to tell the truth about anything." She paused. "That leaves the slap and the Superman incident. I don't suppose there were any witnesses to the slap." Lois shook her head. "Then that only leaves the Superman incident and there is a witness there. Superwoman. Do you think she would be willing to be a witness?"
Lois looked at Clark and then said, "Well, maybe Clark could talk to Superman. Clark is good friends with Superman and maybe he could get him to talk to Superwoman and find out if she will help."
"I think I could do that." He then added telepathically to Lois >You are good.<
>I know< she responded.
"Isn't there some other way I can go?" Lois asked. "It was such a short marriage, can't I get an annulment or something?"
Constance nodded. "There are two other ways to end a marriage but they are much more difficult. The first is, as you say, an annulment. The second is a decree of nullity."
"A decree of nullity? What's that?"
"Well, when a marriage takes place, there are certain requirements. If those elements are not present, then no marriage actually takes place. This is dealt with by having the court recognize that no marriage took place and if that is the case, the court issues a decree of nullity."
"What types of things are you referring to?"
"Well there are the formal requirements and I can look into those but I doubt you will find anything there. There also has to be capacity by both parties to enter into a marriage."
"Well, for example, there must be one man and one woman; the individuals must be old enough to get married; both people must understand the nature of the ceremony. If one thinks they are there to buy five chickens, for example, the marriage is void. If you were forced to marry him that would also be grounds to have the marriage declared void. Also, both parties must know the identity of the person they are marrying."
Lois immediately cut in, "That's it. I thought I was marrying Clark."
"I would agree but we would never be able to prove it unless you were on drugs, under a doctor's care or were drunk."
"Are there any other possibilities?"
"Well, there is annulment but since your marriage was consummated, that option is basically gone. I think our best course of action is to get you a divorce on grounds of cruelty. I would also suggest that you look into Mr. Luthor's sexual proclivities. Given his reputation with women in the past, you may find that he has not been faithful. However, due to the shortness of the marriage, this is probably a waste of time, but it is still worth looking into. Normally, I would recommend hiring an investigator but considering your reputation, I'll leave that with you. One more thing. I think that it may be worth a shot to take divorce papers over to Mr. Luthor while he is in jail and see if he is willing to reconsider."
"Would I have to be the one to do that?"
"Yes. I would have to deal with Mr. Luthor's attorneys rather that talking to him directly."
Lois looked at her briefly. "Can I think about it?" Constance nodded. Lois couldn't stand the idea of seeing Lex in a one on one situation if she could help it. Besides, it would tip Lex off to what was going on and she was fairly certain that he wouldn't take it well.
"We should also talk about what you want in terms of property division or support from Mr. Luthor."
"I don't want anything."
"Lois, you do realize that even with a short marriage, you would be entitled to a great deal of money considering Mr. Luthor's fortune. I did some rough calculations before you got here this morning and I figure that Mr. Luthor's investments make him about seven million dollars a day. That would make you entitled to about three and a half million dollars for every day you were married to him (before taxes of course)."
"Look Constance. I don't want anything from Luthor except my freedom. I would, of course, agree to have him pay your fees," she added the second part as an afterthought. Constance smiled.
With that they ended their interview. It had taken a good two and a half hours to get through it. As they were about to leave Lois turned sheepishly to Constance and said softly, "Do you want to see my engagement ring from Clark?" Given the fact that she couldn't tell many people and that she couldn't let people see it on her finger, she was dying to show someone. Constance immediately came around the desk as Lois pulled the chain from under her blouse.
"It's gorgeous. I like it much better than the ring Mr. Luthor gave you. I saw it in Celebrity Magazine. This is just the type that I would want." Lois beamed. She thought Constance would like it.
"I will get the paperwork ready to go. Let me know if your investigation turns up anything and, Lois, if you need anything or have any questions or even just need to talk, give me a call." She then offered both of them her hand and they left her office.
Lois and Clark got into the jeep and headed to the office. As usual, Lois was in the driver's seat. Once they were well on their way Clark heard Lois' voice. It was so low that he probably wouldn't have without super hearing. "I'm so sorry, Clark."
"I should never have married Lex. I should have known that you were the man for me. Now, we could end up waiting three years…" Her voice trailed off.
"It won't be three years, Lois," Clark said reassuringly. "After all, the team of Lane and Kent are on the case."
There was a brief period of silence before Clark asked, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"You mean about Lex raping me?"
"Oh Clark, I wanted to, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it." Lois looked down for a moment before continuing and then said in a softer voice, "Besides, after everything I had done, I deserved what happened."
"God!! Lois no!! No women ever deserves that! Besides, you didn't do anything that terrible." She looked at him with tear filled eyes as he continued. "Maybe if I had forgiven you and believed you when you first told me that you loved me, it wouldn't have happened. I'm sorry, Lois."
"Clark, you have nothing to be sorry for. After everything I had done, you had every right to be angry at me. It would kill me to think that you were blaming yourself for this. I'm the one who married a man who would rape me I'm the one who married one man when I was in love with another, not you."
Clark smiled slightly. "Well, I don't think Luthor had any intention of even asking me to marry him." The mood in the car lightened.
Ever since Lois' visit to the Planet a couple of days after her wedding, Jimmy had avoided Lois. He had been scared, really scared by Clark's reaction to Lois' marriage to Lex. Clark was one of the most solid and consistent people that Jimmy had ever known. Not that he never got angry or upset, because he did. He was especially quick to get upset by injustices in the world and Jimmy suspected that his reason for being a reporter had less to do with earning a living or even about being a top notch reporter than it had to do with his desire to right all the wrongs in the world. Jimmy's life, up until he met Clark Kent, had been about getting ahead. Now, Clark had become his role model. Clark was the first truly upright individual that Jimmy had ever known. He always found the good in every situation; always tried to help others even when it inconvenienced him and always believed in the people around him. He had taken Jimmy under his wing and been the best of friends. So when Jimmy had seen the hopelessness that permeated from his friend when Lois had accepted Lex' proposal of marriage, he had been distressed. However, he had expected Clark to bounce back like he always did. As the wedding approached, however, he became more and more concerned. Finally, when he heard that Clark was actually planning to go to the wedding, he confronted Clark.
Clark had been adamant that he had to be at the wedding when Jimmy approached him. It was at this moment that Jimmy finally realized that Clark was not just distressed about losing his best friend, after all marriage to another man would necessitate a distance between Lois and Clark. He realized for the first time that Clark was completely and, it appeared, hopelessly in love with Lois. But Jimmy still didn't understand why Clark felt that he had to be at the wedding. Why cause himself additional pain? Surely it would be easier on Clark to come to a ball game with him in an attempt to keep from thinking about what would be happening in a church downtown. Jimmy had been trying to convince Clark to go to the ball game with him for about ten minutes when Clark finally snapped.
"Jimmy, I'm going to her wedding," Clark practically yelled at his young friend. Clark had never raised his voice to Jimmy before. Jimmy looked at him in shock and even through his own pain, Clark realized that he had hurt Jimmy who had only been trying to help. Clark looked down for a moment to collect his cool and then continued in a softer voice, "I have to be there, Jimmy." He searched his young friend's face willing him to understand. "Maybe if she sees me… maybe she won't marry… him." Clark could not bring himself to say the man's name.
Jimmy couldn't let it go. "Clark, why would seeing you there change anything? Wouldn't she just see it as you giving your blessing to her wedding?"
Clark smiled slightly but his eyes did not reflect the small smile that had made its way to his lips. "No, she won't," Clark said it softly, but Jimmy heard the pain reflected in Clark's words.
Jimmy tried again. "Clark, we have all had our fantasies about Lois over the years, and I know that you are her best friend, but Clark, buddy, you've got to give it up. She doesn't think about you that way…" His voice trailed off slightly at the look in Clark's eyes but, after a slight pause, he plowed ahead. "She just sees you as a pal. Nothing more. You've got to get over it. Nothing is ever going to happen between you two beyond friendship. What are you expecting, for her to take you to bed or something…" He was stopped short by the look on Clark's face and he suddenly knew that that was what she had in fact done. There was a short period of silence and then Jimmy said, "Wow!!" It was the only response that he could think of. Jimmy slowly shook his head and then asked, "When was this?"
Normally, Clark would have jumped to Lois' defense and adamantly denied that anything had taken place between them but he no longer had the strength left. Kryptonite didn't have such power to destroy the man of steel as that brunette did. Clark broke down and with tears streaming down his cheeks poured his heart out to Jimmy about all that had happened, well except for the Superman part, between him and Lois. He knew he shouldn't. He hadn't even told his parents what had happened. But he needed release so badly. He immediately had regretted it and had made Jimmy give his word that he would tell no one. Clark's request was not so much a request as a demand. Jimmy had no doubt that he would see an anger from Clark that was like nothing he had ever experienced if he broke his word. Even with everything that had happened, Jimmy was amazed to realize that Clark was still trying to protect Lois.
Lois had married Lex even though Clark had gone to the church. Jimmy hadn't been able to bring himself to go inside but had waited outside until a completely destroyed Clark Kent slipped out of the doorway of the church before the throngs but after the minister had pronounced Metropolis' first couple man and wife. He had stayed until then, hoping for a last minute miracle, but it hadn't happened. Jimmy had packed a devastated Clark Kent into his old car and taken him home.
Clark had gone down hill from there. It had scared Jimmy to realize that Clark was undoubtedly thinking about suicide. He still came to work and did his job but he no longer joked, laughed or even smiled and when you looked into his eyes, it was scary. It was like the light that was in his eyes, the sparkle that made the man who he was, had died. Jimmy had tried to talk to him but there was no response, not even anger. There was just the haunted look of a man who was already dead but still walking.
So when Lois had walked into the newsroom a few days after the wedding, Jimmy had given it to her with both barrels. He had expected a full Lois tirade and after he had left her, found that he was surprised by her lack of defense. Lois, even in the wrong, was not one to be confronted. His attack on her was more out of fear than anger. He believed that Clark was contemplating suicide, and that really scared him. But he had also been angry with her. More angry than he had thought he could be at Lois and she had just sat there and taken it. When he thought about it afterwards, he realized that she had the same haunted expression that he had been seeing in Clark's eyes. Maybe she at least felt bad about what she had done and maybe he should have taken time to listen to her side of the story before letting her have it. But he had done what he had done, and in some ways, he did not regret what he had said to Lois. He had needed that release himself. Watching what was happening to Clark had caused the emotions to build up in him also, and so, when he saw Lois, he had given vent to his feelings and his very real fears for Clark.
He had been scared, terrified is more accurate, about what would happen when Lois returned from her honeymoon. But Clark had improved dramatically since Lois had returned. He didn't know what had happened but they had obviously worked things out. Now that he was no longer worried about his friend, Jimmy had another problem. He didn't want to take back the things he had said to Lois, he had meant them, but he did want to smooth out the relationship. He had spoken to her briefly a few times since she had come back, but he felt a barrier between them and he wanted it gone. He had planned to speak to her when she first arrived this morning but she hadn't arrived until about noon. She and Clark had walked into the newsroom carrying sandwiches. Both looked a little troubled and so Jimmy decided now wasn't the time.
Lois and Clark went to bring Perry up to date on their meeting with Constance Hunter. "She was a good choice, Chief," Clark told Perry. "She and Lois seemed to click instantly." Once he had been told about the meeting, Perry assigned them each a separate story for the afternoon and sent them on their way. The afternoon had been fairly routine other than one or the other of them disappearing at times to attend to some super activity. It sure made it easier to have her help out. When he was busy with something and would have had to come up with some stupid excuse to get away, she was able to take the cry and visa versa. By the end of the day as Lois LAN'd her story to Perry, she was feeling optimistic about life again. Clark loved her, Lex was in jail, and they had contacted all their snitches to ask for any information they had about Lex' activities since the wedding. She was certain they would get a break soon. She leaned back in her chair and stretched.
Jimmy saw his chance. This was a good time to approach Lois, when she was still basking in the glow of a job well done. Lois looked up from her desk into Jimmy's worried eyes and knew that he was there to speak to her about his lecture from a few weeks ago. He had been tense around her since that day. She felt no animosity toward him so she decided that the best way to deal with the situation was to let him take his time in cooling down and come to her when he was ready. As he stood before her now he looked to Lois like a man that had just been tied to a post in front of the firing squad before the blindfold was attached. She instantly realized that he was scared that she was going to fire. She decided that the best approach was to take the bull by the horns. She got up out of her desk and, taking Jimmy's arm, marched him toward the now empty conference room. She knew that she was scaring the hell out of the boy, but she couldn't resist. When she arrived she shut the door behind them. Jimmy was now completely intimidated.
She interrupted him immediately. "Thank you, Jimmy, for the lecture the other day," she said to his shocked expression. "I knew how badly I had hurt Clark, but I really needed to have someone else tell me. I'm glad that you were here for him. You are a good friend." With that Lois gave a completely startled Jimmy Olsen a kiss on the cheek and walked out of the conference room.
Clark had observed Lois take Jimmy into the conference room from his desk and although he didn't listen, he was curious. "What was that all about?" he asked Lois.
"When I came looking for you a couple of days after my wedding, Jimmy really let me have it. I just wanted him to know that I appreciated his honesty."
Clark had forgotten that Jimmy knew. "Oh, Lois, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to tell him. I just…"
Lois leaned over him and whispered, "Clark, it's ok. You needed someone to talk to; you chose Jimmy. I understand that." She caught herself just as she was about to kiss him. Both signed slightly as she pulled back. This was hard.
"Clark, I've been wondering about something." Clark looked at her and waited for her to continue. "That sidebar you did on Lex, where did you get all the information? I mean there were things in there that I didn't know."
"I've been keeping a file on Luthor since I first arrived in Metropolis. I just looked quickly through it to prepare the story. Why?"
"Where is it?"
"At my place. Why do you want to look at it?" Lois nodded. "I can bring it in tomorrow."
"Can I come over tonight to look at it?" Clark looked at her for a moment. "Look, Clark, it's not like I didn't spend half of my time at your place before. I think that it would look suspicious if I wasn't ever there now." When he continued to look at her she continued. "How about we pick up some Chinese and we can go through the file. There might be something in your file that will be helpful." Then in a lower voice she concluded, "I promise not to try anything if that's what you're worried about." He smiled at that.
"Come on. Let's tell Jimmy good night and get going." Lois beamed. She loved it when she won.
There was a note posted on the door of Clark's apartment. He took it off and read it quickly and then tried the door. He looked confused as he took entered he sent a message to Lois. >I think someone has been in my apartment. Don't say anything until I have had a chance to make sure it isn't bugged< Lois nodded and then stepped through the door. She closed the door softly as he picked up his cordless phone and scanned the room. He then walked into the bedroom and did the same. It didn't appear that there were any surveillance devises so he walked back into the living room and said, "All clear."
"First, tell me what you just did with the telephone."
"Well, surveillance devises are electronic and so cause interference with my cordless phone. The interference is not sufficient for the human ear to pick up but with super hearing it is pretty annoying. I can scan the place using my enhanced vision but that takes longer."
"Ok. Then what made you think that someone has been here."
He handed her the note. "I left my door unlocked this morning for a guy down the street to pick up some books he was wanting to borrow. He left this note telling me that he came by but the door was locked."
"Are you sure you remembered to leave the door unlocked?"
"Yeah. I actually had to come back to unlock it because I forgot to leave it unlocked when I left."
"Probably. But why wouldn't he have bugged the place. He knows we slept together so if he is trying to keep apprised of any indiscretions by you, wouldn't I be the one he would suspect?"
"Clark. Lex only knows that I slept with and then rejected you. He never read the rest of the song remember. He also thinks that I am having an affair with Superman so he probably doesn't see you as a threat."
"Then why break in here."
"He is probably just trying to figure out where I went."
"Well, in case he figured it out, you should take my phone with you when you go home tonight."
"Okay. Now I'm hungry. Let's eat."
After supper they cleaned up the dishes and Clark got Lois the file on Lex Luthor. Lois could have speed read it, but she was enjoying being here with Clark and didn't want to finish too soon. Besides, she was still not use to that ability and was afraid that she would miss something important. As she went through the file, Clark went over to the television, and using the video camera he had brought home from the Planet, put on the tape that Luthor had made of his attempt to kill Superman. It was only in black and white but when Lois walked in to see what he was watching, she remembered it in living color. The blood, his blood coating her arms and chest. She shuddered and her breath caught in her throat at the memory. Clark saw the blood drain from Lois' face and he barely made it to her before she fainted. He scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the couch and then with super speed he got a cool cloth from the washroom and placed it on her forehead. She came around quickly and looked up into his face. She smiled slightly. "I guess super powers don't prevent you from fainting." Clark's only response was to smile. He had never fainted so he really didn't know. He just continued to sit beside her gently stroking her face with the wet cloth. She allowed this to continue for a while. She was enjoying his nearness and his touch. He smelled so good. She was falling and she knew it. If she didn't get some distance now, she knew that she may not be able to stop this. She pushed his hand away and said that she was feeling fine. He backed away and went to turn off the television. He could always watch this after Lois left. He was just about to turn it off when Lois said, "Don't turn it off!!" He turned and looked at her quizzically and saw her staring intently at the television.
Clark glanced over at the television and noticed that something other than the attempted murder of Superman was now showing on the television screen. "Luthor must have taped over something else," Clark said but didn't see what Lois was finding so interesting about watching a person running. Yet Lois continued to watch. He turned to take a second look. It was Lois running. "When was this taken?"
"About a week after my engagement to Lex."
"Did you know he was taping you?" Lois just shook her head and continued to stare at the screen. She was on a track. She could remember that run. She had been having a panic attack about her upcoming marriage to Lex and had gone out late at night to run. She had run as fast as she could for as long as she could until she had finally collapsed. She had been completely alone. Clark picked up Lois legs off the couch and sat down placing her legs on his lap. He too was now watching intently. He had seen Lois run and had even on occasion run with her. But there was something different about this. This was not running for recreation or exercise. This was not even the type of running you might do to burn off frustration. Lois looked like she was scared; as if someone were pursuing her. But she was not being followed. They both watched in silence, consumed by their own thoughts, until her image on the screen finally collapsed and the tape ended. They allowed the tape to play to the end in case there was something else on it.
"He had me followed and recorded my movements," Lois said in a small voice when she finally recovered the power of speech. Clark felt like his heart was going to break. Nothing would surprise him about Luthor, but he wished he could have kept Lois from being hurt by that man. "Oh, Clark. How could I have been so blind?" Clark didn't say anything, he just got up and came over and wrapped his arms around her and, like she had so many times in the past, Lois drew strength from his strength. When she recovered, Clark reluctantly pulled away.
"So, have you looked at my file on Luthor yet?" he asked trying to get her mind on other things. Lois slowly rose to her feet and headed back to the table. Clark joined her and soon they were engrossed in the study of Lex Luthor over the past year. Lois was amazed to find out that the first time Clark had met Lex, Lex had held a sword to his throat. It hadn't been a threat exactly, but it had made Clark distrust the man.
"Clark, why didn't you ever tell me that you thought Lex was responsible for the sabotage of the space program?"
"I didn't have any proof. All I had was my suspicions."
"Why were you suspicious?"
"Do you remember when we were snooping in Luthor's study during the ball he gave and Luthor came in?" She nodded. "He told me that Alexander the Great had a simple battle strategy. He would seize the high ground."
"Wait. I've heard that somewhere." Clark nodded as Lois remembered. "That was the same thing that Dr. Baines said. She was the one who was eventually linked with the sabotage."
"And the second bomb was planted in the shuttle after Dr. Baines was already dead," Clark added.
"But why would he…"
"So that he could launch his own space station. Seize the high ground, remember? And be the savior of the space program and…"
"And make millions on the patents," Lois finished for him.
"Exactly. After I had dropped you off at the Planet that first day, I paid a little visit to Luthor. I told him that I knew who he was and that I would like nothing better than to bring him down. The next thing I know, someone is conducting a series of tests to see what my powers are. I am lured to a building with a bomb and someone detonates it as soon as I arrive. Then there were two jumpers on a direct line of sight at the same time. The one guy didn't seem like he had any intention of jumping and the other was afraid of heights. When the second one was taken off in the ambulance she kept muttering something about a test. They both worked for…"
"Once again, I confronted Luthor. He denied it, of course, but then he told me if I remained in Metropolis innocent people could be hurt. After all, I couldn't be everywhere. I hung up the suit after that. If it wasn't for you, Superman would have retired right then and there."
"Yeah, you. You told me that it was the idea of Superman that mattered and that whatever I could do was enough." Lois smiled. She remembered that conversation and how much she wanted to tell Superman that. She realized now that she had. One of these days she would have to go back through her file on Superman and link Clark with those events.
"Anyway, since that time, I think Luthor has been behind most of the attempts to discredit or destroy me as well as most of the major criminal activity in the city."
"The heat wave that was blamed on Superman that was really caused by…"
"The Lex Corp. Nuclear Power Plant."
"Yes. Did you ever wonder why the increases in heat corresponded so well with my activities?"
"You think that Lex was controlling the spill in such a way that the heat would increase when you would do something big."
"I do. The heat also made authorities rush through their approval of his nuclear power plant even though it turned out to have a huge leak."
"Then there was the clone of me that was made. He seemed to think that I was his enemy and he kept speaking about his father. He never told me who it was, but it had to be someone with a lot of money. I can only think of one enemy I have with that kind of money… Luthor. The clone figured out that Superman was Clark Kent. I don't think he told anyone, but I don't know that for certain."
"Clark!" Lois said with concern. He touched her cheek gently and then continued.
"I have also wondered if Luthor was behind the fighters with bionic arms."
"Why would you think that. I thought it was Max Manihan or Maken or whatever."
"Yeah… but do you remember that tape that your father made. Max kept referring to 'we.' Who was this 'we'"?
"I think you are wrong about that one, Clark. After all, Lex saved my life."
"Exactly, by shooting Max. As I was landing and just before Luthor shot him, I heard him say, 'You lousy…' I think Max knew who Luthor was and I think the next word out of his mouth would have been 'double-crosser.' Shooting Max cut off the possibility that Luthor could be implicated in the scam." Lois looked skeptical so Clark added, "So how did he know where to find you?" Lois now looked thoughtful.
"If Lex was behind it, why save my life?"
"I think that was just a bonus. He could undermine your hero worship of Superman by saving your life himself and get rid of Max in the bargain, but I could be way off base with that one."
"Then there were the toasters. I know that Tony Taylor was behind the toasters, but Luthor had just announced plans to improve the west river district and my research shows that Luthor acquired a lot of land at great prices as a result of the toasters' activities."
"And there was at least one meeting between Tony Taylor and Lex," Lois added. "Lex actually showed up at my place that night to increase my suspicions of Tony Taylor. I think he said something like 'If I were a smart reporter I wouldn't look any farther than Tony Taylor if I was looking for the source of all problems on the west river district.' I can't believe I bought it. What else do you have?"
Clark looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, "I have a confession, Lois. Do you remember when I had to distract Tony Taylor so that you could slip out of my apartment?" Oh yeah. Lois certainly remembered Clark kissing Tony Taylor. "I could have done a hundred things to distract her. I chose to kiss her just to make you jealous. Too bad it didn't work."
Lois smiled. "Well, if we are into confessions, I have one too. It worked. I could hardly believe how jealous I actually was." Clark looked amazed. Lois got them back on track by asking, "So what else do you have?"
"Well, there was also a connection between the smart kids and Luthor. In that case though, he was the one who they held hostage so I'm not sure that he was behind that one. But the doctor who created the drug that made the kid's smart also worked for Luthor."
"It's not much but you're right, it's another connection."
"I'm also…" Clark paused.
"It's just that I had my suspicions that Luthor may have also bought the globe from Jack." The globe. Suddenly Lois realized why Clark hadn't told her about the globe. It was his. "But Jack said he sold it for a thousand dollars to two men. He only saw one of them, and it didn't sound like Luthor. He described him as a tall English man and I don't know anyone like that connected to Luthor."
"Nigel St. John."
"Nigel St. John. He works for Lex in an undefined capacity."
"Well, if that's the case, Luthor knows more about me than most people. There were messages in the globe and although he didn't see all of them, he is one of the few people on the planet that knows that I didn't arrive on earth a year ago. He knows that I grew up here."
"Clark!" That information alone had told Lois that Superman had a secret identity. If Lex ever found out… Lois was horrified by the implications.
"Then there was the time we were being held hostage at the Daily Planet. Luthor tried to make a deal with the thieves…"
"And one of them said something about rather having the cops on his tail than Luthor."
"Why didn't you tell me all of this before I married Lex?"
"Without proof, would you have listened? I tried to tell you to be careful of Luthor, but beyond that, I didn't know what to do. I didn't even know for sure if I was right. When you decided to marry him, I looked through all of this again to see if there was something that would persuade you that I was right about Luthor but…" He shrugged in frustration. Maybe he should have done something more, but what?
Lois realized that he was about to go on a guilt trip. "Clark, you're right. There is no way that I would have listened to any of this if you had tried to tell me before the wedding." She reached over and placed a hand over his. He automatically turned his hand over and brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it. Then he realized what he had done and he pulled back quickly.
They had been going at this for hours. As well as looking at the past year and Luthor's involvement in criminal activities in Metropolis, they looked at his holdings and finances. It was close to midnight before they finished up. "I'll take you home," Clark said.
"Clark," Lois said in her 'you are being too protective' voice, "I'm perfectly capable of getting home safely by myself, especially now."
But that fainting episode earlier had disturbed him. Besides it would give him a few more minutes with Lois. "Come on, Lois. Let me see you home." Lois smiled. Clark would always be Clark, and it did give her a few more minutes with him. She picked up her coat and handed it to him so that he could help her put it on.
"Boy scout," she whispered to him as she walked out the door.
The trip to Lucy's was made in companionable silence as both found themselves simply enjoying the close proximity of the other. Suddenly Lois laughed. "Clark do you remember when we were sprayed with that pheromone compound." Clark certainly remembered. For two days, Lois pursued him shamelessly. It had taken every bit of super will-power he possessed to resist her advances. Her dance of the seven veils had haunted his dreams ever since.
"The reason you weren't affected by the compound is because you're Superman, right?"
"So then, do you care to explain Superman's actions at the airport?" She raised her eyebrows and looked across at him. He kept his eyes fixed firmly on the road. She could see him take a deep breath and blush furiously. As Superman he had pretended that he had been effected by the pheromone solution and had used the opportunity to tell Lois that he loved her. As a result, she had kissed him. He could still recall the feel of that kiss.
"I… um…" But what could he say.
"It's ok Clark," She said laughing at his discomfort. "I enjoyed that kiss too."
He walked her to the door and waited until she opened it before he left. He managed to remember in time not to kiss her good night. As she went into the apartment, he reminded her to check for surveillance devices.
Lucy was asleep so using Clark's phone she scanned the apartment. She found a listening devise in her phone as well as a hidden camera and a bug in the living room. She also found a camera in her bedroom. She snuck into Lucy's room but it was clean.
>Clark, I found some.< She shot at him >Do you think I should destroy them?<
>I don't know, Lois. If you find them this soon, they will think that >something's up and will simply replace them. Maybe there is some way we >can use them.<
>That is what I was thinking. But Clark, there is a camera in my bedroom.<
Clark flinched at that. >Well, I don't think it would be too unusual to have one of the devices malfunction. Examine the device with your x-ray vision, but be careful not to look suspicious. Tell me what you see.<
Lois did so and then Clark told her what to do so that the device was disabled in such a manner that it would look like it had malfunctioned of its own accord. >Thanks<
>Hey, no problem. I'll see you at the Planet tomorrow, Lois.<
>Good night, Clark< She wanted to add 'I love you' but for the time being >such things were better left unsaid. She got changed and crawled into bed >and looked for something that wasn't there. >Clark… I really could use >my teddy-bear. Do you think…< Before she ended the question, a streak of >red and blue flashed through the room leaving in its wake a slightly >abused, but still lovable, black and white bear. >Thank you< She curled up >with the bear and was immediately asleep.
The next few days seemed to fly by (no pun intended). Between work at the Planet, their second jobs of super heroing and trying to assemble a schedule for Luthor's activities since his marriage to Lois. It had even gotten easier to refrain from touching each other. By the time Friday rolled around they had put together a working schedule for Lex Luthor. Some of it Lois had been aware of, some of it she had not. She had taken no interest in knowing what he had to interrupt their honeymoon for. But apparently, there had been a 'technical problem' at Lex Labs. It was difficult to find out the exact nature of the problem but it seemed that some noxious gases had been released into the atmosphere. Scientists couldn't say how serious it was at this point but the cover-up at Lex Labs had been extraordinary. Luthor had done a good job covering his tracks. Of course, he had never gone to Lex Labs to examine the problem personally. He wouldn't risk injury to himself. He had not taken part in either the effort to stop the leak or in the effort to clean things up. His time, efforts and considerable talents had gone into covering it up. It would have worked too except with his imprisonment, a few people from management from Lex Labs had finally spoken up. Lois and Clark covered the story and found that as they did so, a lot of Luthor's activities in the weeks following their wedding became known. Clark had filled her in on Lex' whereabouts the night of the big storm. Clark knew that Luthor had been in meetings at the Lexor hotel when the rain had started. That was how he knew that Lois would likely be alone at the penthouse. All she had known was that Lex wasn't there and that, for a little while anyway, she was free. Then Friday afternoon came their first big break.
Lois picked up the phone and identified herself. "I hear you've been looking for information on Lex Luthor's activities after he married you," came the voice on the other end of the phone. Lois didn't recognize the voice and motioned for Clark to listen in.
"Where did you hear that?" she asked cautiously.
"I tend to hear a lot of things. Are you interested or not?"
"I'm interested," she said a little hesitantly. They didn't want Lex to find out what they were doing if it could be helped but they needed whatever information they could get.
"Then meet me at Mikes Pizzeria on Carlon Ave. in half an hour and you're buying." He was about to hang up.
"Wait," Lois said. "How will we know you?"
"I'll know you."
They arrived at the pizzeria in a little under thirty minutes. They looked around cautiously but did not see anyone familiar. When they found a table and had seated themselves they were joined by a man who introduced himself to them as Bobby Bigmouth. They both looked at him curiously. Lois repeated the name just to be certain that she had heard him right.
"Yeah, that's it. It's kind of a nick name."
"So what's this information you have for us?" Clark asked.
"Hey, wait a minute. Do you think I just give valuable information away?"
Lois and Clark drew back a little at that. He was expecting payment for any information he gave them. They smelt a scam. "How much?"
"Oh, I don't want your money." To their shocked expression he continued, "I'm starving. You buy the pizza and I'll talk." With that he called the order in and as they waited he explained that he had lived in Metropolis all his life. He also boasted that he knew almost everything that happened here. He would not reveal his sources asking Lois if she thought he was a fool when she asked and would only say that he had an ear to almost every grapevine in the city. By this time both Lois and Clark were more than a little suspicious. His extravagant claims made them suspect that he didn't know anything, but it was only costing them the price of a pizza so they decided to wait it out. When the pizza arrived, Bobby finally began talking.
"I was told that you were interested in Luthor's activities following your marriage to him. Given the fact that you are his wife, I doubt that you are interested in a day by day account of his activities. Besides, you can get that anywhere so I didn't bother contacting you until I had something a little more juice." With that he handed a piece of paper to Lois. On it was written a woman's name, address and phone number.
"That's the woman Luthor spent the night of the big storm with at the Lexor hotel. I think I can get the names of some of the other women he's been with since your marriage if you're interested. However, here's the deal. Anytime I come up with something good, you pay me in food. Deal?"
"Deal!" said both Lois and Clark in unison. They simply stared at Bobby Bigmouth as he stuffed the piece of pizza he was eating into his mouth and picked up the remainder in the box and left the restaurant.
"Well, what are we waiting for. Let's go," Lois said, tugging on Clark's sleeve. They paid for the pizza, left through the back door and hailed a cab. They had both been watching for and trying to avoid surveillance since the devices had been found in Lois' apartment. They had left them there but had told Lucy about them and so they were very careful to make sure that they didn't say or do anything in the apartment that they wouldn't want the world to know about. The camera in her bedroom that had 'malfunctioned' had not been fixed. They must have figured they could still monitor the comings and goings in her apartment by the other devices. Of course, they didn't know that she no longer needed a phone to speak to Clark given their new found ability to communicate telepathically so with that and the fact that Clark could just fly up and come in her bedroom window had he wanted to or Lois could just fly out left them thinking that they knew what was going on when, in fact, they had no idea. When they had left the Planet this afternoon, they had left Lois' jeep and hailed a cab. Both had been satisfied that they were not being followed by the time they arrived at the pizzeria. But in case they had been, they had taken the extra precaution of sneaking out the back before hailing the cab. They figured that since her jeep was still parked at the Planet, the tail was most likely waiting within sight of it. So, when they didn't want to be followed, they simply did not use the jeep.
The address was in one of the worst parts of town. Lois could hardly believe that Lex would be with someone who lived here. They made their way to the apartment indicated on the paper Bobby Bigmouth had given them and knocked. A young women in jeans and a t-shirt answered. They heard a baby crying in the other room. They were told to come in as the young woman disappeared into the back and emerged a few minutes later holding a now silent baby. In spite of the neighborhood, the apartment and the woman were immaculate. Lois didn't think she could be much more than eighteen. And she was very pretty. She asked them what they wanted and when Lois didn't answer, Clark jumped in.
"Are you Maureen Hamilton?"
"Yeah," the young woman replied suspiciously. "Are you from Child Services?"
"No," Clark quickly assured her. "We just need some information." He hesitated before continuing, "We just need to know whether you spent the night of the big storm with Lex Luthor."
"Are you the cops?"
"No. I'm Mrs. Luthor," said Lois defiantly. The woman looked at her for a moment. Yeah, she decided, she looked like the woman she had seen in the paper. Well, she guessed this was better than the police. She also decided that if she were in Mrs. Luthor's place, she would want to know.
"I think you'd might as well come in and sit down," she said quietly. She lead them into the small living room and motioned for them to have a seat. Then she sat down in a chair opposite and began to breast feed the baby. Clark looked a little uncomfortable but said nothing. "I got a call that afternoon that my presence would be required by Mr. Luthor at the Lexor hotel that night. I was pleased. Regular customers get a reputation in my profession and Lex is not into beating women so that makes him a desirable john. Also, the money is better than standing on the street corner so I accepted. I was with him most of the night. I think he finally left at about six a.m."
"And what did you do with him?" Lois was not leaving here without being told directly that they had had sex. She needed to know for sure.
"Well, we didn't get much sleep if you get my meaning. Look, I didn't have to tell you this but, if I were in your position, I'd want to know."
The words of the lawyer running through his mind Clark asked, "Do you have any proof of this, Ms. Hamilton?" She smiled at his courteous use of her last name. In her profession not many men showed her any respect. She usually was called Maureen or babe or doll or even slut. But she wasn't sure that any man had ever referred to her as Ms. Hamilton.
"Well, Susan was there with me. You can ask her." Lois stared at the woman in shock. Two women. Two. Maureen wrote down a name and address on a paper and handed it to Lois.
As they were about to leave, Clark took some money out of his bill fold and handed it to her. She asked what this was for and he told her it was for the baby. She took his tie between her fingers and informed him what the money could purchase for him. He told her that that was not necessary and removing his tie from her hands followed Lois out the door. The other address was not far away so they walked over. Lois did not say anything the whole trip. Clark wanted to reassure her but had no idea what he could possibly say. The second woman was just as young and pretty as the first one. They were able to determine that she did not have a phone so it was unlikely that she had been tipped off. She confirmed Maureen Hamilton's story. When they left Lois finally spoke.
"Clark, he cheated on me with hookers and children at that. I was still thinking that I would be spending my life with him and he was out having sex with two hookers. I hadn't even moved out of his bed at that time." She was fuming. "Maybe you should have taken Maureen Hamilton up on her offer, Clark. I mean you and Luthor have both had me. Maybe you would like to see what the rest of his women are like!" She knew she was being unfair to Clark but she couldn't seem to help it. What she really wanted was to lash out at Lex but he wasn't here so she lashed out at the nearest man available and that was Clark. It was just that she felt so cheep, so used.
"Lois," Clark said softly. He knew she didn't mean what she was saying, that she was just hurt. He gently took her by the arms and turned her to look at him. "There has never been, nor will there ever be anyone for me but you," he said, looking directly into her eyes, and he saw the fire and some of the hurt disappear from them.
"I'm sorry, Clark," she replied softly. This almost ended in a kiss, but both of them realized what was happening and pulled back in time.
"Maybe it would be better if I investigated Luthor alone, Lois. I could take whatever information I find directly to Constance Hunter, and you would only need to be told any information that needs to be brought up at a trial."
Lois shook her head violently. "I need to know, Clark." He nodded. He knew that she would say that.
"Hey, I have something that might cheer you up. I almost always have Friday night dinner at home with my folks. Would you like to come?" Lois brightened at that. She really loved his parents and an evening with them would certainly keep her mind off the news she had just received.
Before heading out to his folks, they decided to go back to the Planet to see what they could find out about their sources. After all, if their sources weren't legitimate, their information wouldn't be either. The two women both had records for hooking. The second one also had one conviction for petty theft and one for possession of narcotics. Bobby Bigmouth was a little harder to track down. They had spoken to Henderson who had never heard of him. He had run nicknames through his computer and had come up dry. No one who was known to have the nick name "Bigmouth" had a criminal record. Some of their other sources had heard of him, however. They were able to confirm that a guy with the nickname "Bigmouth" lived in Metropolis and seemed to know most of what was going down. They seemed conflicted when it came to why he had been given that name, whether it was his capacity for eating or his tendency to talk. Well, their sources checked out so the added the information to the file and headed off to Kansas.
After Lois and Clark had left the farm later that evening, Martha Kent looked at her husband. "Those two really are in a lot of pain, Jonathan."
"So what do you suggest we do about it?"
"How about you take Clark, and I'll take Lois?" He agreed.
Lois arrived back at Lucy's place feeling a little better. Martha was fast filling a role in her life that her absent mother never had. When she was little, her mother had been consumed with her social station in life. Having married a respected doctor, she felt the need to establish herself as a socialite. In this role there was little room for children. Lois and Lucy were relegated to play a small part in the life of Ellen Lane. Then as the marriage started to fall apart, Ellen Lane began drinking and as that took over her life, the children had been forced to take care of each other. Lois remembered many occasions when she had come home >from school to find her mother passed out on the sofa. She didn't feel like she could bring friends home for fear of what shape her mother would be in. She had withdrawn emotionally from her mother and thrown herself into being the best. Her father was no help. He would leave for work early and come home late. Lois suspected that it was due as much to his desire to avoid his wife as it was due to his work. When he did come home, it was to criticize. He had wanted a boy so bad that he had, in some ways, rejected Lois and Lucy. But Lois was determined that she would see to it that she made him notice her. She strove to be the best so that she could make him proud but never seemed to be able to do it. When both her parents were at home, it was almost worse. The tension in the house was so thick you could almost see it. She couldn't ever remember her parents saying something nice to each other. All they ever seemed to do when they did talk was fight. Meeting Martha and Jonathan Kent was a revelation. After 35 years of marriage, they were obviously still in love. At times, Lois had been jealous of Clark's sanctuary in Kansas. Now, she felt fortunate. They made her feel like a part of the family and there was something so comforting to be part of something so special. She was getting herself ready for bed when the phone rang.
"Hi Lois. I hope it's not too late."
"Martha!!" Lois said in surprise and then remembering the bug in the phone said quickly, "Listen, Martha, you've caught me at a bad time. Can I call you back in about fifteen minutes?"
"Sure," came the voice on the other end of the line. Lois hung up and threw on pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and flew at top speed out the bedroom window making herself almost invisible. She went to a phone booth a couple of blocks over and called Martha back.
"Hi Martha," she said when Martha's voice came over the line. "I'm sorry about the collect call, but I forgot to bring change with me."
"Where are you calling from?"
"A phone booth. We discovered that my phone is bugged and so rather than take the bug out making Lex' henchmen aware that we know about the bugs, we have decided just to be careful about what we say over the lines. So when I heard you call, I figured it might be best to call back from somewhere else. I will pay you back for the call though."
"Oh don't be silly honey. Clark has made his share of collect calls here and you are as much a part of the family as he is." Lois beamed.
"Thanks, Martha. So why are you calling?"
"Well, if you don't have anything on for tomorrow, I thought you might come out here and spend the afternoon shopping with me."
She did have tomorrow off from the Planet and after the week she had had, she really could use some time away from everything. "Sure, I'd love to. Say I come out about one. Is that ok?"
"When I get back to the apartment I'd better call you back so that no one gets suspicious."
"Got it. See you tomorrow, Lois."
And with that Lois hung up. She flew back in the bedroom window, changed back into her night clothes and then went to the phone and called Martha who said that she was calling to give her that recipe she had asked about. Lois smiled. Martha knew that she couldn't cook so her giving Lois a recipe was pointless but she probably chose to do that in order to make Lois smile. It had worked. It was nice to have a real mom in her life. She was really looking forward to tomorrow.
Lois and Martha went into town in the early afternoon. They found it very easy to be together. They started by casually looking at various items. Although they were officially there to shop, they were doing more chatting then shopping. Finally the conversation came around to Clark.
"So have you and Clark talked about the future? What is going to happen after you get out of your marriage to Lex Luthor."
Lois smiled and removed the chain around her neck and handed the ring to Martha. Martha hugged her and then Lois proceeded to tell her the story behind the ring. Martha was a little surprised that Clark would have asked her to marry him when she was still married to Luthor. That prompted Lois to tell Martha all about the annulment.
"We heard about that," Martha said. "Clark called us that morning to tell us. I am surprised that he would have asked you so quickly after the end of your relationship with Lex. Are you sure you are ready for that kind of commitment after what happened with Lex?"
"Actually, I kind of asked him."
"We actually went down to city hall to get married. That was when we discovered the annulment wasn't legal." She looked a little sad again so Martha jumped in.
"Have you talked about it since then?"
"Not really. We put our relationship on hold. It is so hard but officially we are just friends. I can hardly stand it sometimes Martha. To be so close to him and not be able to touch him. To not be able to tell him how much I love him. Especially after…" Lois' voice trailed off. This was Clark's mother she was talking to.
"Especially after one incredible night of passion?" Martha asked.
"How did you know? Surely Clark wouldn't have told you."
Martha smiled. "He didn't. Well, not exactly." Lois looked at her suspiciously for a moment waiting for her to continue. "When he called us to tell us that your marriage had been annulled, I sort of tricked him." She looked at Lois who was looking a little confused. "In case you haven't noticed, Clark can be a little naive."
"Well, when he called, I was thrilled. I asked him if I could talk to you or if you were still sleeping and he told me you were still asleep."
"I'm sorry. I couldn't resist. Jonathan gave me a hard time for that one."
"But I have slept over at his place before. That didn't necessarily mean anything happened."
"No. That's why I just confirmed my suspicions by getting you to admit it today." Lois covered her now blushing face with her hands. "Don't worry about it too much. After my conversation with Clark, I didn't figure you two had spent the night playing backgammon."
"Anyway, when you and Clark came for dinner last night, you both seemed just a little bit down so I said I'd make it my mission to cheer you up and Jonathan is…"
"To cheer up Clark. Is he with Jonathan now?"
"No. He said that he had something to do today, but he is coming out to help Jonathan repair the old truck tomorrow."
"I get shopping while he has to work?"
"Well, honey, Clark and his dad seem to do their best talking when they are working on something together."
"Men," they said together.
"Do you know that I knew that Clark loved you the first time that he mentioned you? He had been working at the paper for less than a week then. I think he described you as complicated, domineering, uncompromising, pig-headed and brilliant."
"And that told you that he was in love?"
"It was the way he said it. He hadn't ever mentioned a woman that way before. You, on the other hand, I knew when you were here during the Smallville corn festival that you loved Clark."
"How could you have? I didn't even know myself."
Martha laughed. "You and I are a lot more alike than you might imagine. I grew up in a… well shall we say, less than ideal family. I determined at a very young age that marriage wasn't for me. Jonathan had to ask me to marry him four times before I finally accepted."
"Really. Clark never told me that."
"I don't think he knows. But once I realized that being married to Jonathan was what I wanted, I never once regretted the decision. So when I met you, I recognized the symptoms. You didn't want to admit it but it was quite obvious, well, to me anyways. Of course, I didn't tell Clark. I decided that he had to figure it out on his own. I concluded that if he really wanted you in his life, he would have to find a way on his own to get you to realize that you loved him just like his father had to do with me."
"Anyways, Lois, since you and Clark are planning to get married, how about we go and look at wedding dresses. Our dress shop in town just received its summer supply of wedding dresses. I also have an idea for how to deal with those times when you want to tell Clark that you love him." Lois looked at her willing her to continue. "I was just thinking that when you feel that you want to tell him how you feel, put that energy into writing your wedding vows."
Lois smiled. That actually sounded like a good idea and looking at wedding dresses sounded like a lot of fun. So Martha and Lois went off to look at wedding dresses. Lois tried on dresses and Martha made appreciative noises or groans or laughed as was appropriate. Lois had been given no say in the dress she wore at her wedding to Lex. This seemed like heaven. After about half an hour, Lois put on a dress that she loved. It was simple and beautiful. "Oh Martha," she said, "I love this one."
"It is beautiful. It would certainly make an impression on Clark. Why don't you have them set it aside for you."
"But what if I can't marry Clark for a long time."
The owner of the store was a friend of Martha's and she entered the store just at the tail end of the conversation. "Well… Why don't I just keep it aside for you. I can probably hang on to it for about a year. If you want it by then, just call."
Lois smiled. There were some good things about small towns. "That would be great. Do you want me to put something down on it for you to hold it for me?"
"No. For Clark's future wife, I think I can bend the rules a bit."
By the time Martha and Lois left the store, Lois was totally relaxed and happy. The women decided that they would go get some coffee and relax after their hard day of shopping. They entered the cafe and sat down when Lois heard >Lois.<
>Clark. Just give me a minute and I'll contact you.<
She looked at Martha and explained that Clark needed to talk to her. They hadn't told his parents or anyone else about this new ability they had found to communicate telepathically so Lois briefly filled Martha in and then turned back to Clark.
>Clark what is it?<
>Where are you?<
>Kansas? What are you doing in Kansas?<
>Having coffee with your mom.<
>Are you at the house?<
>No, we are in town. Why?<
>I have some information for you. How about we meet at my folks' place in >about an hour?<
"Clark has some information for me. He is suggesting that he meet me at your place in about an hour. Is that okay?"
"Sure. Why don't the two of you plan to stay for dinner?"
>Ok Clark. We have been invited to stay for dinner afterwards.<
>Great! See you then.<
"That is really incredible. I guess that means that if there were more…" She looked around her for a moment "people like Clark here, they would be able to communicate that way too."
"It would certainly save on phone bills"
By the time Martha and Lois arrived back at the farm, Clark was already there. He asked his parents to give them some privacy and then said quietly to his mother that he may need their help in cheering Lois up in a little while. Martha and Jonathan decided to go for a walk. When he came back into the house, Lois said, "You still haven't gotten use to my having super powers have you?"
"I heard what you said to your mom. Don't tell me that you just found out that it will be the whole three years before I can get a divorce from Lex?"
"Actually, it's just the opposite." Lois looked at him puzzled. "I spent most of this morning checking out various escort services and I spent the afternoon down on Simpson Street."
"The hang out of hookers?"
"Yes. I thought that if Luthor had made use of professionals on the night of the storm, he may have availed himself of such services at other times. Also, the comment that Maureen Hamilton made about Luthor having a reputation among call girls… I just thought I'd check it out."
Lois made her way over to the couch. She had a feeling that she would need to sit down for the next part. Clark sat down quietly next to her putting his arm on the back of the couch behind her and lightly rubbing her neck. Lois took a couple of deep breaths and when she had braced herself said, "I take it you found something." It was both a statement and a question.
"Yes. I found at least three other women who have been with Luthor since your wedding." Lois felt her breath catch in her throat.
"Lois, are you sure you want to hear the details?"
"Well, two were after you had made it clear to Luthor that you wanted a divorce."
"And the third?"
"The day after your wedding."
Lois tensed but said, "Did you meet these women?"
"Tell me about them."
"Clark, tell me." Clark sighed and pulled out his file on what he had found for Lois. He had mug shots, criminal records and other information on three women. It also contained Clark's notes on what the women had told them. The notes contained much more details then they had been able to get from Maureen Hamilton. "You really were able to get these women to open up," Lois said when she was done. Her voice was steady but Clark could tell that this had really hurt Lois.
"I think they were more willing to give the information to me than to Luthor's wife." Lois tensed a bit at the term 'wife.' "Do you want to talk about it, Lois?"
Lois shook her head and informed Clark that she needed some fresh air. He offered to go with her but was informed that she needed to go alone.
When Martha and Jonathan arrived back at the farm, Clark was pacing nervously in the living room. Lois wasn't back yet. Martha told him that rather than just pacing in here, he should go find her. That was all the encouragement he needed. It didn't take him long to find her. She was sitting on a bale of hay playing with the kittens in the barn. The stains on her cheeks informed Clark that she had been crying. Clark sat down quietly beside her and began quietly scratching the ears of one of the kittens. She didn't say anything. Finally, Clark sent her a message telepathically >I love you, Lois<. Lois gave a slight sob and was in his arms.
They walked back to the house holding hands. Lois was quiet, but better. When they entered the house, the aromas from super were coming from the kitchen. At first Lois didn't participate much in the conversation. But soon, she was drawn in by the love around her.
"…so the world is about to be destroyed by an asteroid and no one can find Superman. But we can't convince Clark that he is Superman."
"They tried to convince me I could fly, but I couldn't remember how. So they got me to stand on the edge of my balcony. Mom said that they would give me a count. I was suppose to try flying on three. Of course, the only thing I can think of is how far it is to the alley. Well, on three, mom pushed me off the balcony."
"Well, I figured his instinct for flying would kick in on the way down but it didn't. He just plunged straight down. I think there is still an imprint on the pavement from where he landed."
"So what finally happened to give you back your memory?"
"I talked to you and you told me about Superman. The first thing I remembered was saving you."
By the time they said good-bye and headed back to Metropolis, Lois was feeling better. "Your folks are really great," she said to Clark.
"Well, they certainly are crazy about you."
They changed into their normal clothes about two blocks from Lucy's and Clark walked Lois home from there. "Do you want to come in for a while?" Lois asked when they arrived at the apartment. "After all, Lucy's home so we would have a chaperon."
"What about the surveillance devices?"
"I forgot about those. Hey, I have an idea. Why don't we use them to convince Luthor that you and I are just friends and that nothing is going on between Superman and I."
"Good idea," Clark said as he opened the door and they walked in.
"Thanks for walking me home, Clark. Why don't you come in for a while?"
"I'd like that, Lois. Hi, Lucy." Lois told Lucy to come to the kitchen with her. Once there she wrote her a quick note to let Lucy know what they were doing.
"Do you want some coffee, Clark?" came Lois' voice from the kitchen.
After they had settled down in the living room with their coffee, Lois said, "It really is nice to be friends again. I'm so glad you finally forgave me for that stupid night we spent together."
"Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized you were right. We are just too different to be anything more than friends."
"Tell me about it."
"So now that Luthor is out of the picture, what do you plan to do about Superman?"
"Well, I've been thinking about him too. Did I ever tell you that Lex accused me of having an affair with Superman?"
"No, you didn't."
"I couldn't believe it. Does he really think that Superman would have an affair with a married woman?"
"He really doesn't seem to understand Superman."
"So what about now?"
"Well, actually, I had a long talk with Superman the other day. It seems that he is in love with Superwoman. Not that it ever would have worked between us."
"I wondered if there was something going on with those two. Are you upset?"
"No. It's strange but I don't think Superman was anything more than a fantasy for me. You know, don't you, that in spite of popular misconception, I have never been 'Superman's girlfriend.'"
"Yeah, I know that. I had a long talk with Superman myself after… well after you and I slept together and he informed me that you and he have never been anything more than friends."
"That's true. You know, it's sort of strange. Even you and I have slept together once but, despite what everyone seems to think, I have never slept with Superman." Clark smiled.
Clark and Jonathan worked together in companionable silence doing chores. They had to milk the cows and feed the animals and shovel out the barn before they would be free to do some work on that old truck. By all rights, the truck should have been sent for scrap metal some time ago. But neither Jonathan nor Clark could bear to part with it so they were constantly replacing parts. It was a task of love. Clark picked the truck up and placed it on the blocks they had set up so that they could get underneath without any difficulty. He would have set it on its side but that would have seemed suspicious if anyone dropped by the farm besides, there were some things that couldn't be done if the car was on its side. They worked away for a while before Jonathan said, "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Dad, it's just so difficult sometimes. It was hard enough seeing her everyday when I knew that she didn't feel about me the way that I felt about her… But now that she feels the same way, to constantly hold myself back… Then, I see the pain she is in. Luthor really hurt her and I just want to hold her and never let go, never let her feel that kind of pain again. But she's still his wife…"
"We were working on a story a little while ago where a man was accused of killing another woman's husband. Everyone thought that the husband beat her. I remember Lois saying that it was all right to have an affair if your husband was a monster. I told her it still wasn't ok but now… I guess I still believe that it's just… I guess I didn't realize how easy that it to say and how hard it is to live by."
"Maybe you should try focusing on something else."
"Well, have you two decided what will happen when her marriage is over?" Jonathan had spoken to Martha last night so he already knew the answer to that one.
"We're getting married," Clark said softly.
"That's great son. Do you plan to wait a while or do it right away?"
"Right away. I was concerned that it would be too soon for her but she really wants to marry me so… But who knows when that will be."
"Well then, you won't know until the last minute when the wedding will be. Have you thought about things like where you are going to go on your honeymoon? I would think making some of those plans might help you to deal with the current situation."
"But I don't think it is appropriate for Lois and I to discuss such things."
"So don't discuss it. Surprise her."
"Lois isn't big on surprises. But you may have a point." Clark's countenance lit up and he began thinking.
"I take it you have an idea."
"Yeah, Dad, I do… Thanks."
"I have another idea that might help too if you're interested."
"I'll listen to anything right now, Dad."
"Well, when you feel like you are going to burst from wanting to tell her how you much you love her, why not focus that energy into writing your wedding vows."
Clark grinned. "That's a great idea, Dad. I think I'll do that."
After Clark left, Martha and Jonathan congratulated themselves. Now, there were some arrangements to make here. In the city, it wouldn't be possible without an actual date but this was a small town and they were certain that they could make this work.
On Monday morning, Clark arrived at the Planet before Lois. She had been distracted by a cry for help. Clark had been driving so it was easier for her to answer it. When he walked in Cat was there. She had been trying to seduce Clark since he first arrived at the Planet but she soon realized that he was in love with Lois. Now that Lois was married, she decided that she would try again.
"Clark," she said running her hands down his chest. 'He has such an incredible body' she thought to herself and not for the first time.
"Please Cat," he said in exasperation as he removed her hands. "This is getting old."
"I just thought that now that Lois is out of the picture, you might like to take me to dinner."
"I'm sorry, Cat. I just don't think it's a good idea," and with that, he walked over to his desk and got to work.
Lois entered a few minutes later. >Clark, can you meet me in the conference room?<
>Sure< He got up and the two of them headed for the conference room.
Jimmy was watching as Lois entered the newsroom and then saw Clark get up and the two of them enter the conference room. 'How do they do that?' he wondered to himself again. It was almost as if they could communicate non-verbally. He shook his head and returned to his work.
"Clark, I just stopped a rapist." She was shaking. This was hitting a little close to home.
"Is the rapist still alive?" Clark asked nervously.
"Yes… but I almost killed him. How do you do it Clark? How do you deal with controlling your emotions in situations like that?"
"This is going to sound a bit simplistic but it takes practice. Although, I have often wondered if I would maintain my ethics if anything ever happened to you. Right now it is taking every bit of self control I possess not to break in to the jail and just kill Lex Luthor to keep you from having to be hurt by having to dig around into his activities." Lois went to put a hand to his face, realized what she was doing and stopped. She knew that there was no easy solution but she was no longer shaking. Talking to Clark had helped. She even managed to smile.
They were on their way back to their respective desks when Cat approached Lois. "Can I talk to you about something for a minute?" and Lois turned around and went back to the conference room with Cat. "I need your advise. I know… I know… I'm as amazed by this as you are."
"What is it Cat? I have work to do."
"It's about Clark." Lois' ears picked up at this. This could be interesting. "Before I start, maybe I should tell you that in spite of the rumors that circulated at the Planet when he first started working here…"
"Rumors that you started."
"Ok rumors that I started. Anyway, he has managed to resist me. I always thought you were the problem so I figured that since you're now married, I'd try again. Yet this morning, I made my usual pass and he turned me down again." Lois controlled her impulse to smile. "So, anyway, since you probably know him as well as anyone, I'm asking for your help."
"You want my help to get Clark to fall for you?" Lois asked incredulously.
"Well, he doesn't have to exactly fall. I was thinking more in terms of a one night stand. I don't know if you noticed it but he's incredibly sexy and that body… wow!" Cat fanned herself and then continued. "I bet he is one incredible lover." Lois caught herself before she said 'he is.' "Yet, I can't seem to interest him no matter what I do. So I'm desperate. Are you going to help me or not?"
"Cat, I think the problem is that you aren't his type. I don't think it is something that you can fix."
"Fine, don't help me then. I'll find a way to do it myself." With that she stormed out of the conference room leaving a very amused Lois Lane Luthor in her wake.
The news team of Lane and Kent had a ten o'clock meeting with the prosecutor on the Luthor case. They promised Perry an exclusive on the progress of the case but they went with a second objective as well. Although they now had five women that could testify to Luthor's infidelity, they were all prostitutes and they felt that they needed another source who could confirm these encounters and maybe even give them the names of women who were not prostitutes. They needed Mrs. Cox' cooperation and hoped that the D.A.'s office would help.
They walked into the D.A.'s office where they met a young woman named Mayson Drake. They went into her office. "Listen, I was told to cooperate with you, but I have real problems giving information to Lex Luthor's wife."
"Ms. Drake. I'm not on Lex' side in this matter, I promise you. I am one of the victims in this case."
"That may be, but in my job I see a lot of women who are abused by their husbands who, between the time the charge it laid and the time of trial, change sides. He talks that sweet talk about how sorry he is and how much he loves you and you decide he doesn't really deserve to be punished."
"That's not going to happen."
"I guess we will see. Anyway… I have been told to give you whatever information you want so why don't you ask your questions."
For half an hour, Lois and Clark asked their questions and Mayson Drake answered them. Then they told her what they wanted.
"Ms. Drake, I need your help here. I need some information from Mrs. Cox. She probably knows Lex's activities better than anyone. She was his personal assistant. I'd like to be able to offer her a deal in exchange for the information."
"What type of information?"
"I believe that Lex… It's sort of personal… Let's just say that it may solve your problem of having me switch sides."
"We have already given Mrs. Cox a deal in exchange for her testimony against Lex Luthor so I don't know what help I can be."
"There has to be something more that can be offered," Clark added. Mayson paused a moment, looking at him. Lois noticed the look as one that she had seen on the faces of many women when they would look at Clark. She cleared her throat to keep from laughing.
"Well," Mayson said, "I suppose we could cut a few years off her sentence. That is, of course, as long as Superman and Superwoman agree."
"Thanks," Clark said giving her his million dollar smile. "We really appreciate it."
With that Lois and Clark made their way out of her office. As they were on their way out, Mayson pulled Clark aside and said softly, "Clark, would you like to have dinner with me some day?"
"Um… I… Well that sounds really nice but… right now I am really swamped."
"Oh, I understand," Mayson said quickly. "Maybe when you get a bit more time." She took her business card, quickly scrawled her home number on the back and handed it to Clark. "Give me a call." Clark gave Mayson an embarrassed smile.
As they walked away, Lois turned to Clark with a smile playing on her lips and mischief in her eyes. She planned on giving him a hard time about Mayson Drake when Clark preempted her. "Don't say a thing," he said in an exasperated voice. He hated it when women hit on him. He wasn't interested in anyone but Lois but had never quite figured out how to turn women down without hurting their feelings.
Suddenly Lois got serious. "What is it, Lois?"
"I was just thinking." She paused. "If you hadn't taken me back… I just can't imagine how it would feel if I had to watch things like that… like Mayson Drake asking you out and knowing that I couldn't do anything about it."
Mrs. Cox's face transformed itself into a smirk as Lois and Clark entered the interview room. She was going to enjoy this. She had never understood Lex's obsession with this woman. This could be a very interesting conversation. It would certainly break up the monotony of prison life. Lois and Clark got right to the point. "We understand that you made a deal with the D.A.'s office in exchange for your testimony against Lex. We are authorized to offer you a further reduction in your sentence."
"In exchange for?"
"I need information about my relationship with Lex. In particular his sexual activities since our marriage. If you are prepared to give me the information I need and possibly testify to that effect, I can get you a reduction in your sentence."
Mrs. Cox agreed. For a long time she had wanted to tell the new Mrs. Luthor where she really stood with Lex. She supposed she was just jealous but that didn't change the fact that she would enjoy this and benefit from it.
Mrs. Cox gave them a lot of details about the women in Lex Luthor's wife, making this as painful as possible for Lois, about affairs that Lex had both before and after their marriage. She told of five women between their engagement and their wedding and seven after. Her information confirmed the information they already had. Lex chose women for one of two reasons: either they were young and beautiful or they were of use to him. She also told them that since his marriage, Lex had limited his women to prostitutes and married women. He had said that no one believed prostitutes, and married women didn't talk, and given his new marital status, he thought that was the prudent course.
On an impulse, Clark asked about Dr. Baines and was told that they had been lovers. It still didn't prove Lex's involvement in the sabotage of the space program, but it certainly made the case a lot stronger in Clark's mind. Lois also caught the connection. When they left 45 minutes later, they had two more women that they needed to talk to. Neither of these were professionals so they would make much better witnesses but both were also married themselves and so getting them to come forward would be much more difficult.
"Clark," Lois said in a hesitant voice after they had left the interview with Mrs. Cox, "Am I that inadequate in bed that my husband would have to…" Her voice trailed off.
Clark was taken back. "Lois, it isn't you. It's Luthor." When she looked at him in disbelief he added, "And I speak from personal experience." That got a smile out of her. She took his arm and they headed off to track down the other two women.
Both of the women denied the allegations and Lois and Clark were frustrated. They decided to leave it for now until they could come up with something else. They dropped their file on Luthor's affairs off with Constance Hunter on their way back to the Planet.
*** When they entered the newsroom, Clark spotted Cat Grant. Although not as formal as when she was trying to seduce Arthur Chow, the second richest man in the world, she was dressed much more conservatively than usual. "What's with Cat?" Clark asked and then added, "There must be a new man."
Lois looked over at Cat and laughed. "There is."
"You." Clark looked at her in disbelief so she continued. "She asked me this morning how to get you into bed."
"So that was what you two were talking about this morning. Is this your idea of how she could do it?"
"No. I told her that I didn't think she was your type. Obviously, she intends to become your type." Clark groaned. "Don't worry. Soon I'll be able to make it perfectly clear to her and every other woman that you are off limits."
"I can't wait."
When they got back to their desks, Lois had a message from Bobby Bigmouth. He had turned out to be a great source the last time so they were anxious to find out what he had for them this time. Lois was just about to call him when a familiar voice boomed from behind her. "Lois… Clark… you two have that story for me yet."
"Actually, Chief, we just got another lead that we're following up on."
"Later. I need that story on your trip to the D.A.'s office right now."
Lois set down the phone and they wrote up the story as quickly as possible. They couldn't use super powers to do it because that would have made Perry suspicious. So they worked at normal human speed but still hurrying as fast as they could. They gave the details of the D.A.'s case against Lex Luthor, but they were very careful to only use the facts that Luthor would already know about so as not to give Luthor anything extra to use in court. When they finished, Lois called Bobby Bigmouth and agreed to meet at Simeon's Chinese on Memorial Street.
After the food had come, Bobby asked Lois a strange question "Do you have cancer?"
"First, tell me, were you on any medication before your wedding?" Bobby asked as he shoveled food into his mouth.
"No." Bobby now had Lois' and Clark's full attention. What did Bobby have?
"Well then, this might be of interest to you. There is a rumor that Lex Luthor filled a prescription for his fiancee about two weeks before the wedding. The thing that makes it odd is that it was for some sort of new drug. I couldn't get the name but it is supposedly for the treatment of cancer."
"The thing is, this drug is not out on the market yet because of its side effects. Apparently it is very effective on dealing with cancer but it also has some serious mind altering consequences."
"What type of consequences?"
"I don't know exactly but it seems that it makes some people using it completely unable to make decisions."
"So if a person had made a decision and then started taking the drug, they would be unable to change their mind?"
Bobby shrugged his shoulders as he opened another carton of Chinese food. "All I know is that people on this drug allow others to make all their decisions. It would be easier than having to make the decisions themselves. Oh yeah, there's one other thing. Apparently it can also can cause hallucinations."
"Where did he get the prescription?"
"I don't know but if I can find out you'll get a call."
After Bobby left, Lois turned to Clark in excitement. Nothing was surprising her anymore but this would solve everything. "Clark, do you know what this means?"
"Yes, if we can prove it then…"
"It would mean I was never married to Lex and I could…"
"Get a Decree of Nullity."
"Exactly. And if I was never married then we…"
"Never committed adultery."
Lois smiled. "Come on."
"Where are we going?"
"To the Metropolis Cancer Treatment Center. Let's see what we can find out about this drug."
The Metropolis Cancer Treatment Center had been founded in the 1970s. It was now known world wide as the foremost center for Cancer research in the world. The doctors and researchers were world renowned. Of course, research money was always needed so when two reporters with the reputation of Lane and Kent arrived, they were immediately escorted in to speak to the director of the center, even without an appointment.
"We hear that you are working on a new drug in the treatment of cancer. It is apparently very effective but has some serious mind altering side effects."
"How did you know about that? We've been keeping it under wraps because until we get the side effects under control. We don't want to get people's expectations up. The way it is now, it could be used for some very unethical purposes."
"We think it already has been."
"We need to get as much information as possible on the drug and on everyone who had information about it."
The director thought about it for a minute. If he let them have the information they wanted and they were right, it could hurt the Center. On the other hand, if he refused to give them the information that they wanted, and they found out that the drug had been used for an improper purpose, it would look like the Center was trying to cover it up. Since this was the news team of Lane and Kent, he figured that they would get to the bottom of this eventually. It was probably better in the long run if he cooperated. "Ok. I'll make you a deal. As long as you agree that you will try to protect the reputation of the Center, I will give you full access to all the information you want. If someone here has been using or selling this drug, I want that person found as badly as you do."
"Agreed," said Lois. Lois wasn't interested in ruining the center. All she wanted was to get the evidence she needed to prove that she was effected by drugs when she married Lex. Bobby Bigmouth was turning out to be an extremely valuable source.
"What is the drug called?"
"So what exactly are the side effects?"
"It causes an increase in a person's level of anxiety. Think of it as the opposite of Prozac. The way this manifests itself differs with the individual. In the worst cases, the person has a complete mental breakdown. However, for most people the level of stress is so high that it makes it almost impossible for them to make decisions. They tend to leave the decisions to someone else, simply because making a decision themselves is too stressful. They are unable to decide what to do because of the level of stress they are under."
"If a person made a decision before they were under the influence of the drug, would it keep them on the same course of action, unable to change their mind?"
"Absolutely. The decision having been made already, the level of anxiety would make it impossible for the individual to change that decision."
"We also heard that it can cause hallucinations. Is that true?"
"Everyone responds differently to the high levels of stress. Stress can cause all sorts of different problems, some physical and some emotional. It can cause irrational responses to stimuli, depression, mood swings and yes, in some cases, even hallucinations."
They collected all the information they could about the drug. Spoke briefly to everyone remotely connected to the project and got names and addresses and then returned to the Planet. "Jimmy," Lois yelled when they arrived. Jimmy came scurrying over. "Get us everything you can on these names." She handed over the list of names she had from the Center.
"Anything particular that you're looking for?"
"I'm particularly interested in any criminal connections they might have. Oh, and get us their financial information."
"Will do," said Jimmy as he hurried off to do as she had asked. He loved being able to work on a story with the team of Lane and Kent. He found that he learned so much by getting an inside look at their technique. It was so good to see them interacting so easily again. When Lois and Clark were getting along, the whole newsroom seemed brighter and they were definitely getting along. In fact, if he didn't know better… No, he wasn't even going to allow himself to think that way. Although it would explain a lot.
Lois and Clark got on the phone in an effort to track down anyone else who might have information on the sale of illegal drugs. They had left dozens of messages. They had even contacted the Drug Enforcement Agency to see if they had any information. Hopefully, someone would get back to them soon. They sat back in their chairs in frustration as they finished the last of their phone calls. Fortunately, just then, Jimmy returned. "What have you got, Jimmy?"
"Well, here is everything I was able to find," he said, handing Clark the file.
"Did you notice anything interesting, Jimmy?" Lois asked, coming over to Clark's desk.
"I did notice one thing. When I was getting the financial records of one… Walter Paxton, I noticed that he was in serious financial trouble. Apparently, he just came through a very expensive divorce. Then, several weeks ago, he seems to have hit the jackpot."
"He had an infusion of cash?" Lois asked as she took the file from Jimmy. "Look, Clark, this deposit was made two days after I accepted Lex's proposal."
"Lex Luthor?" Jimmy said. "What does he have to do with this? What are you guys working on?"
Lois and Clark looked at each other. >It's your call< Clark said telepathically to her. Lois looked at Jimmy for a moment and then escorted him into the conference room with Clark on their tail.
"Okay, Jimmy," she said as Clark closed the door. They had checked the conference room for bugs earlier in the day, but Clark pulled his glasses down and quickly and unobtrusively scanned the room again. Lois noticed what he was doing and gave him time to finish before continuing. "What I am about to tell you doesn't go beyond this room." Jimmy nodded. "I'm serious Jimmy, if this gets out, it could cause me a lot of problems."
Jimmy looked at her with a serious expression on his face. "I won't tell a soul," he said.
Lois sighed, looked at Clark and continued. "There is a new cancer drug that apparently shows real promise. However, it also has some serious side effects. It causes the person taking it to loose their decision making ability." Jimmy kept looking at her not understanding. Lois took a deep breath and continued, "I think Lex was giving it to me to get me to marry him."
"She's serious, Jimmy. We still can't prove it which is why we need you to keep digging into those names. They all had access to the drug. So look into all of them some more. See if any of them had a connection to Lex Luthor. Also, see if you can track the source of the funds that Paxton received. Especially see if there is a connection to Luthor. Can you do that for us?"
"Sure. I'll do whatever I can to help."
"Oh, and Lois, I'm really sorry."
Lois smiled and replied, "I'm not, Jimmy. I'm actually sort of relieved."
When Jimmy left the conference room, Clark and Lois stayed behind. "Okay, so let's review what we know. The rumor on the street has it that Luthor bought a drug that may be a cure for cancer but that causes an inability to make decisions."
"There is a drug called… 'Tenander' under secret development at the Metropolis Cancer Treatment Center that seems to fit that description, causing high degrees of stress in people. So high in fact that they are unable to make decisions, can hallucinate and can even suffer a nervous breakdown."
"We also know that a Walter Paxton, who had access to the drug received a large sum of money just after you agreed to marry Luthor. So maybe you should tell me everything you can about the period of your engagement."
"It was one of the worst times in my life. I remember that I constantly asked myself if I was doing the right thing. I would go to sleep at night and dream that I was with you and I would feel so relieved. Then I would wake up and the realization that we weren't together would hit me like a ton of bricks. But, I would dismiss the dream and continue as planned. I remember thinking once that maybe I should just disappear because the wedding would probably just go on without me. I didn't make any of the decisions. I just let everyone else tell me what to do. I didn't even pick out my own wedding dress. Sometimes I would try to give an opinion and would just be ignored."
"So what would you do when you were ignored?"
"Nothing." Clark was stunned. Lois was not one to be ignored. "I quit work at the Planet because I couldn't take the anxiety of being near you and thought that I would be able to forget you better if I wasn't around you all the time. Lex suggested it, although he didn't know at the time what was going on between us. I can remember thinking that I wished the wedding was over so that I couldn't change my mind."
"I spent the night before my wedding dreaming of you and felt that same ton of bricks dropping on me again when I woke up and realized that it was my wedding day. But Lucy was telling me to hurry up and get ready so I just did as I was told. Then when I got to the church and started walking down the aisle, I saw you and… oh Clark, the feelings… I finally got to the front of the church and I could have sworn that I was being asked if I would take you to love honor and cherish. When I realized it was Lex, it was too late. I was already married. The depression came almost immediately." Lois stopped to steady her breath. "It wasn't until the next morning that I was able to think clearly about the whole situation."
"So, how much time did you spend with Luthor or someone else in his employ during your engagement."
"Oh, I saw Lex most days for supper. Other days, I spent at least some of my time with wedding planners, dress designers and the like. All hired by Lex."
"So Lex would have been able to slip the drug to you at least once a day, because I think that is what the researchers told us was the dosage."
"Yes. It wouldn't have been a problem if that's what he did."
It had been a long day for both of them so they decided to get some supper and call it a day.
They had eaten supper together many times as friends, especially after a long day of work so they figured that it was safe enough for them to do so tonight. The decided to go to Clark's where they could talk freely. However, as the evening grew longer, the sexual tension between them increased. The periods where they would fall silent and just stare into each other's eyes became more frequent and of longer duration. Finally, the tension was almost too much to bear. Lois finally spoke, "We shouldn't be doing this, Clark."
"Doing what? We're not doing anything."
"You know what I mean. If we aren't careful…"
Clark looked away from her trying to get his desires under control. "I know."
Lois took a deep breath. "So tell me, does a cold shower work when you have super powers. I mean when neither cold nor hot effects you does a cold shower do any good."
The tension in the air parted a bit at that. "Well… no, a cold shower doesn't do any good but a dip in the middle of the Pacific ocean seems to help."
Lois laughed. "Have you had to do that much?"
"Only since I met you."
"Well then, why don't we go there together and then I need to get some sleep. I really am exhausted." She paused for a moment before asking, "When was the first time?"
"The first time you had to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean."
Clark smiled. "The night of Lex Luthor's ball."
"Really? I was horrible to you that night."
"Yeah, but you looked incredible." Lois grinned and shook her head.
They took off toward the Pacific ocean in their suits and in a few minutes were flying over different parts of the ocean diving in and reemerging. They were hundreds of miles apart when Clark heard >Clark help< come through telepathically. He headed at full speed in the direction that he knew Lois had gone and arrived just in time to see her falling through the sky. He dove and caught her just before she hit the waves. She wrapped her arms tightly around his neck and was silent while he flew her to a near-by island and set her down.
"Do you want to tell me what happened?"
"I don't know. I had just come out of the ocean and was flying around to take another dive when I suddenly couldn't fly. I just started falling. I screamed for you in my head and then you were there catching me."
Lex Luthor had been given daily updates on the activities of his wife. He was infuriated at how many times his surveillance teams had lost her. He had cursed their incompetence and already replaced the teams twice. There was one Saturday when they had sworn that she had stayed in her bedroom almost the entire day. They had seen her rummaging around her apartment in the morning and then she had gone into her bedroom and hadn't emerged again. Unfortunately, they were unable to confirm it because the transmitter they had placed in her bedroom had malfunctioned. Maybe she had spent the entire day in her room but he had his doubts. More likely the team had not been paying attention and had not seen her leave. The fact that she came back in the front door had not been mentioned to Mr. Luthor by the crew because it would only have increased his anger. However, the conversation between Lois and Clark later on that night had been relayed to him in detail.
He was ecstatic to learn that he had been correct about Clark Kent. Lois was meant for something more than involvement with a nobody like Mr. Kent. They had managed to restore their friendship and that was a concern, but he was certain that he could handle it. He also admitted to himself that he was wrong about Superman. Apparently the super hero's morals extended beyond helping others to morals in sexual matters. He was annoyed with himself that he had not realized that before. He was also pleased to hear what was said about Superman and Superwoman and Lois' realization that her infatuation with Superman had been just that. He was confident that now that Superman was out of the way, Lois Lane Luthor would be his again. Besides, there was still the drug. He was very pleased with its effect on Lois. He could always use it again if he couldn't persuade her by more traditional means.
The plans for his escape if that became necessary were also progressing nicely. A tidy sum of ten billion dollars was either in foreign investments or could be converted to foreign investments in a hurry. The pilot of his private jet had the jet fueled and ready to go at a moment's notice. They would fly due east and get out over international waters quickly. From there, he had villas in at least a dozen countries with no extradition treaties. However, only one on a small island off the east coast of Africa had a lead lined, sound proof apartment underground. He had added that feature in case it ever became necessary to hide from Superman. Everyone who had helped build it had turned up dead. Luthor had told Nigel to dispose, with extreme prejudice, everyone else who knew about the bunker. That would only leave Nigel and himself who would know where they went.
Luthor trusted no one but he trusted Nigel more than most. Nigel had been with him almost since the beginning and had never betrayed him. And, Luthor would need someone here who could keep things going until it was safe for him to reemerge. If he were simply planning on making this escape by himself, he would not be worried about Superman catching up to him since Superman would obey the rules and, if there were no extradition treaties, Superman would respect that. But he was planning to take Lois with him and so he would have to stay hidden until Lois was truly and completely his.
"Can you fly now?" asked Clark. Lois tried and then shook her head. "Try again." She tried once more and was still unable to do so. "Ok, now try using x-ray and heat vision." She did and again was unable to do so. The same was the case with her use of super breath. "What about your skin, is it still impervious to puncture." She pulled out a small Swiss army knife that she always carried with her, even when she was in the suit, and handed it to Clark. He opened the blade and took her hand gently in his but when he lowered the blade to her finger he was unable to go any further. No matter what the cause, he could not bring himself to purposely hurt her. He held his position for a moment and then looked up at her. "I can't," he said simply. She smiled and took the knife from his hand took a breath and then placed the tip of the knife on the tip of her left thumb and gave a little jab. She pulled back as a drop of blood came to the spot.
"Well, I guess that means I no longer have super powers. Any idea what happened?"
"Maybe the human body is incapable of maintaining them for more than a brief period of time."
Lois nodded. "I guess we could always go back to the… what did you call it? Oh yeah, Fortress of Solitude and use that whatchamacallit to replace the powers."
Clark was silent for a moment and then said, "You mean the Kryptonian Regeneration Matrix?"
"I'm not sure that is a good idea Lois." She looked confused.
"Don't I make a good partner?"
"Oh that's not it. You make a great partner. Its just… when I put you in the Matrix, it was because it was the only chance I had to save your life, but I really didn't know if you would be able to survive the Matrix. I only took the risk because I had no other choice. To do nothing would have meant certain death. So, I did it."
"But it didn't harm me."
"Not that time, but repeated exposure could well be a different matter. Before we take that chance, I would need to do some more research. I don't think it is something we should rush into. I'm not prepared to lose you, especially now." Lois nodded sadly.
"I'm sorry that I can't be your playmate anymore."
Clark smiled. "Well, I've been hoping more for a wife than a playmate, anyway." She joined him in smiling. >I love you Clark< she said using the same method she used when she had super powers to send him telepathic messages although she knew that he could no longer hear her.
"I heard that," Clark exclaimed. >Can you hear me?<
>Yes I can!! How is this possible?<
>Maybe the human brain is capable of communicating telepathically already >and the Matrix just sort of kick-started it for you.<
>Do you think it will last?<
>I don't know.<
>I sure hope it does. It could make it much easier to keep track of you.<
Clark grinned. >Let's see what kind of range we have.<
Clark flew off over mainland United States. >Lois.<
A few seconds more he was over France. >Can you hear me now?>
>Loud and clear.<
Clark returned to find Lois taking in her surroundings for the first time. They were on a deserted beach but lights could be seen in the distance. It looked like some sort of resort. Clark used his enhanced vision to see where they were and then took off again saying that he would be back in a minute. He returned carrying some clothes. "There is an outdoor restaurant over there. How do you feel about dessert?"
"You act as look out," Lois said as she stripped out of her outfit and into her regular clothes. When she was decent, Clark turned back around and spun into his clothes. The night air was warm and Lois slipped her arm through his as they walked down the beach toward the restaurant. It turned out that the restaurant was a romantic place attached to a tourist resort. They had dessert and then went for another walk along the beach. During this walk, Clark had his arm over Lois' shoulder and Lois had her arm around Clark's waist. They found a little cove that was protected from the wind and prying eyes further down the beach and sat down. Dawn found them asleep laying on the beach in each other's arms. Lois woke up first and looked over at Clark. Nothing had happened last night except that they had slept, really slept, together. They hadn't even shared a kiss. It was just so good to be together that neither of them had the heart to suggest that they return home. Finally, exhausted they had fallen asleep. Lois lay there looking at the man she loved and thinking how right it felt to be here beside him. She reached over and ran her hand down his chest. He stirred and looked up at her and his face broke in to a broad smile. "Good morning."
"Good morning," she replied.
Clark suddenly sat up startled. "If it's morning here…"
"Then what time is it in Metropolis?"
"We'd better be going."
It was after eleven a.m. when they arrived at the Daily Planet. When they walked in, they braced themselves for the lecture from Perry. They had missed the morning bull session and they knew that he would be all over them. They hadn't moved five feet from the elevator when they heard "LOIS! CLARK! MY OFFICE NOW!!" They expected the riot act and braced themselves for its impact as they rushed for the office of the Editor of the Daily Planet.
As they entered the office Lois said, "We can explain Perry," although she had no idea what she was going to give as an explanation. But no explanation was necessary. Sitting in Perry White's office was a good looking man with dark curly hair and piercing blue eyes. He was wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans and a bright shirt.
"This is Agent Dan Scardino from the D.E.A.," Perry said. "Agent Scardino, this is Lois Lane Lu… Lois Lane and Clark Kent." Lois smiled at Perry's deliberate failure to refer to her by the name 'Luthor.' Agent Scardino rose and shook their hands. Once the introductions were over, Perry continued, "Agent Scardino informs me that he received a call from you about some sort of mind altering drug. He asked if he could speak to you about it. I would suggest that you go to the conference room to speak and after you do, how about you two come in here and bring me up to speed."
As they entered the conference room Lois asked to see Agent Scardino's badge. He handed it to her and she showed Clark before handing it back. "So what do you have for me?" Scardino asked.
"You are expecting information from us?" Lois said indigently. She walked toward the door of the conference room and opened it. She had no intention of sharing the information they had with a stranger. Lex had some really impressive connections and she was not prepared to make his job easy.
"Listen, if you have information about a new mind altering drug that is on the streets, it is your obligation to report it."
"I will decide what my obligations are Agent Scardino."
"Please, call me Daniel," he said with a charming smile.
"If you have any information for us about a drug called 'Tenander,' Give us a call. Until then, I would advise you to leave."
Agent Scardino walked to the door and then turned back toward Lois and said, "Would you be interested in having dinner with me tonight?"
"I'm married, Agent Scardino," Lois replied sending a telepathic message to Clark >and engaged.<
"I know. To Lex Luthor, if I'm not mistaken, but we're both intelligent creative people, I'm sure we can work something out." Lois felt Clark tense behind her. She recognized this reaction. But why? Suddenly she realized that it was the same tension she felt from Clark whenever anyone had ever hit on her. The last time she had felt it was when she had received flowers from Lex. How could she possibly not have known how he felt about her? She was almost as annoyed at her lack of observation about that as she was about not realizing that Clark was Superman. What kind of investigative reporter was she, anyway?
"I don't think so," Lois replied and Scardino nodded slightly a smile still playing around his lips and in his eyes and then he left.
After Scardino left, Lois and Clark made their way to Perry's office. "Please tell me that this is some front page story you are working on."
"Not exactly, Chief."
"Well, then, why don't you tell me 'exactly' what this is about."
"I'm not sure where to start. We were checking into Lex's activities since we were married. It turns out that he has been repeatedly unfaithful which would allow me to get a divorce."
"Well, honey, I could have predicted that, given Luthor's reputation with the women. But I would have expected that he would have had the decency to refrain for at least a few weeks. Are you okay?"
"Well, yeah. I just…" Lois shook her head. "Well, that's not all we found. We turned up a rumor that Lex purchased a prescription to a new cancer drug for me during our engagement."
"Lois, you don't have cancer, do you?" Perry asked concerned.
"No, Perry. That's just it. Apparently the drug was purchased for the side effects. It causes high levels of anxiety which makes the taker unable to make decisions. So, we think that after I accepted Lex's proposal, he gave me the drug to keep me from being able to change my mind. Of course, proving it is more difficult. But if I can, then I will be able to get the court to issue a… oh what's it called…"
"A decree of nullity."
"A decree of nullity, right. That would mean that my marriage to Luthor was never legitimate."
"So what are you doing to prove this?"
"We have Jimmy checking out everyone who had access to the drug in question. We have found that such a drug exists. We have also contacted every connection we have."
"Ok, I'm going to let you kids run with this. You can use Daily Planet time and resources, including using Jimmy for research. But I do have one condition. Lex's marriage being a non-marriage will be big news. I know it's personal, honey, but every news network on the eastern seaboard is going to be running this. So, when you break this, I want the Daily Planet to get an exclusive. Is that agreed?"
Lois thought about it for a minute. He was right. The moment she filed the papers with the court, the press would be all over this. At least if it was the front page of the Daily Planet, she would have control. Besides, this was news. The third richest man in the world, Lex Luthor, and the world's biggest playboy had force fed his fiancee drugs to ensure that she would go through with her marriage to him. "Ok, Perry. But I want full discretion on what is printed."
"Fine." Perry White did not normally relinquish control over stories to his reporters. But this wasn't just another story and this was his star reporter. Even Clark, who was good, did not have the instincts that this feisty brunette had. Besides, if he didn't agree he might loose the inside scoop on what promised to be one hell of a story. "So where do you go from here?"
"Well, I've been thinking about that tape we saw under the tape of the attempted murder of Superman," said Clark.
"You mean the tape of me running."
"Exactly. Luthor obviously had you under surveillance. What if there are more tapes like that and…"
"If there are, there might be evidence of him slipping me the drugs."
Perry was enjoying watching this interchange. These two had a method of working that was fascinating to watch.
"So then, where would Luthor keep those tapes."
"Well, they aren't in the penthouse. I spent more than enough time trapped in there."
"What, you didn't enjoy living in a penthouse on the top floor of the highest building in Metropolis with seven bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room…?"
"Don't exaggerate. There are only six bedrooms."
"No Lois, there are seven."
"Seven." Suddenly they stopped and looked at each other.
"Jimmy," they yelled in unison.
"Excuse us, Chief," Clark said as they started toward the door of Perry White's office. Perry smiled. He didn't know what this was all about but he knew they had just come up with an idea. Sometimes it really seemed like those two could communicate telepathically.
"By the way, do I want to know why you two were late this morning?" Both Lois and Clark stopped and looked, or didn't quite look, at him sheepishly.
"I don't think you do, Perry," Lois said.
"Okay, why don't you kids get back to work." Gratefully they left the office leaving a smiling Perry White in their wake.
While they were waiting for Jimmy, Lois said quietly to Clark, "Why do you think there are seven bedrooms?"
"I x-rayed the penthouse to see if Luthor was there on a couple of occasions. So if there are only six bedrooms visible from inside…"
"There must be a secret room somewhere in the penthouse."
Jimmy arrived. "Jimmy, we need a blue print of the Luthor penthouse." Jimmy scurried off to find the requested item.
"So, if there are seven rooms, I guess we go to Luthor towers. Do you think we can walk in the front door?"
"I suggest we try that first and then if that doesn't work, maybe you could just fly us up there."
Clark smiled, "Sure."
Jimmy came back with the blue prints which distinctly showed seven bedrooms. With that, the two headed out to Luthor towers.
Getting in by way of the front door was not possible. Luthor had left instructions not to re-admit Mrs. Luthor. "If you want to come in, you have to go down to the prison and talk to Mr. Luthor." Lois threw a fit as usual but to no avail. The instructions that had been left were very clear. Obviously, Lex was concerned that if she did come back, it would be to dig up dirt on him. It was better to keep her out until he could get her back under his control. So Lois and Clark took the alternate route the Superman express.
Once inside, finding the seventh room was easy enough. Of course, the fact that Clark could use his x-ray vision helped. The main protection the room seemed to have was its secrecy so when they found it, getting inside was easy. When they walked into the room they gasped. It had file cabinets and video tapes that were all neatly categorized. But the thing that caught their attention and caused the gasp was the security cameras. They covered almost every room in the Penthouse. Luthor had his own place under surveillance. They closed the door behind them. Clark quickly used his x-ray vision to wipe out the tapes currently in the cameras so that they wouldn't capture him and Lois arriving in the penthouse. However, by not taking the tapes, they wouldn't raise undue suspicion.
Lois and Clark started with the file cabinets. After a few minutes, Clark found a file titled "Lois Lane." It was a thick file. He opened it and noticed at the front of the file an investigator's report. "Ah… Lois." She came over and joined him. He handed her the file and said, "I think you should be the one to read this." She looked at the first report briefly and then turned to him in confusion.
"Why should I be the one to look at this?"
"Well, there might be something in it that you don't want me to know about."
"Clark, I don't want to keep any secrets from you." Clark smiled at that.
"Well then, maybe I would prefer to hear about it from you than to read about it in an investigator's report." Lois smiled at that and began to look through the file as Clark continued to search the file cabinets.
Suddenly Clark heard voices in the penthouse. He grabbed the file from Lois, stuck it back in the file cabinet and then pulled Lois into the closet closing the door behind him. The closet was crowded and Clark still had his arm around Lois. >I take it you're not making a pass here.<
Clark smiled >No, Lois, someone is in the penthouse and they appeared to be headed for this room.<
>Can you see who it is?<
>A tall older gentleman. From his voice, he seems English.<
>Nigel St. John probably.<
>There is also a woman with him. She is small, and very very attractive.<
>Watch it Kent< At that his arms went around Lois' waist and she leaned her >back up against him. >What are they doing?<
>They are coming into the room. They are talking so how about I listen and >then communicate their conversation to you using this method< Lois nodded. >He could feel her nod by the movement of her head against his chest.
"…so Mr. Luthor just wanted us to make sure the room is secure?"
"Exactly, since Miss. Lane, I mean Mrs. Luthor made an attempt to enter the building and her entrance was denied, I would assume that means she hasn't located the room. But, it is imperative that she not find these items. That is why you are here. You are to install a state of the art security system in this room. We can no longer rely in simple secrecy to keep these things safe."
"Why doesn't Mr. Luthor just have us destroy this stuff?"
"He wants to go through it before destroying most of it. There are things in this room that he wants to keep. I think cleaning out this room will be his first task when he gets out of prison. Until then, our job is to ensure that it remains secure."
"I don't know why he had to marry that woman."
"I agree. She is a menace. His obsession with her is Mr. Luthor's Achilles heel. I think that his attraction to the woman is the result of being sprayed by Miranda's full strength pheromone compound. It clouded his brain permanently. After all, that was when he fell in love with her. But there is nothing to do about it now except make sure the new Mrs. Luthor doesn't find this room." And with that they left. Clark did not transmit Nigel's last comments to Lois.
Lois and Clark remained in the closet after St. John and his companion left to be certain that they were not coming back. They had a potential gold mine here and they didn't want to risk being discovered. However, as they waited for the others to leave the penthouse, their thoughts turned to how close they were to each other. Lois could hear Clark's breathing getting deeper and responded in kind. It amazed her how easily she responded to him. His arms tightened around her waist and before she could think about what she was doing, she turned around and her arms were around him too. Their mouths found each other and their hands explored each other's backs. Clark's mouth left Lois' and moved down to her neck. She moved her head to the side to allow him better access. Suddenly, she felt her blouse being pulled out of the top of her skirt. She moved away from him slightly and his hands came around and began undoing her blouse. He was taking too long so she began to help him and in a moment, Clark had pushed her blouse off of her shoulders. It fell to the floor. She moved back into his arms pulling out his shirt from his trousers when she felt his hands on her bra, that snapped her back to reality. They couldn't do this. She stepped back suddenly and grabbed her blouse off the floor and fled from the closet. When she made it back into the room she put her blouse back on and began doing up the buttons. Her hands were shaking so badly at the sudden cessation of activity that she only got about three buttons done up when she decided that that was sufficient for now. It was then that she turned back toward Clark.
Clark was still standing in the closet looking completely disorientated. Lois' sudden departure had left him spinning. When he finally was able to focus, his eyes met Lois'. He immediately looked down. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
Lois took an automatic step toward him and then stopped. It was too soon for her to be close to him. She needed to get her own body under control before having contact with him again. "Clark, I don't think you understand," she said with a shaky voice.
"I understand. I had no right…"
"Clark, I was right there with you. Kiss for kiss and touch for touch. You have nothing to apologize for. I wanted it as badly as you. It's just… this would destroy who you are." He looked at her and smiled. It was a shaky smile but it was a smile. "Come on Clark, let's get back to work."
"Um… Lois, I need a minute here."
Lois smiled. "That reminds me of a dream I had. We were at the Daily Planet and we were together, but for some reason we hadn't spent the night together. Anyway, I told you I needed something from the top shelf in the supply closet and you came in…"
"And you told me to close the door. Then you were all over me but we managed to stop before…"
"How did you know that?"
"I had the same dream, Lois."
"What!! How is that possible?"
"I don't know but I think we should leave this discussion for a more opportune time. Let's find out what we have here." Lois agreed so they got back to work.
They spent quite some time looking at files. Lois read through the file that Lex had assembled on her. It was amazing the stuff he had been able to find out. He knew of every sexual relationship she had ever had. He had stuff as inconsequential as her grade school marks to details about her problems with Linda King, who had stole a boyfriend and a story from her in college. He had medical records for her right back to when she was a child. He had information on her parents and their activities, including a number of affairs that her father had apparently had. This was news to her. She sat reading the file in fascination and horror. There was information on her sister as well and an investigator's report on her relationship with Clark. Although there was no information on their night together, everything else was there. There were also details on almost every encounter she had had with Superman. That brought her back to reality. "Did you find a file on Superman?" she asked. He hadn't but wasn't surprised. He figured that Luthor would have kept that in a lead lined room. This would be too easy for Superman to find. She had to agree with that. After all, that was why they were here now.
Finally, they turned their attention to the cameras. The tapes were filed by date. Luthor obviously didn't have enough tapes here to suggest that he kept all his tapes. That assumption was supported by the fact that Luthor had used a tape of Lois running to record his attempted murder of Superman.
They decided to look at the tapes starting with the date she accepted Luthor's proposal up until her marriage. That still left a lot of tapes. As they started watching they realized that the tapes had been edited to keep only the most interesting parts. That would save time. There were a couple of televisions in the room for viewing tapes so they both began looking at tapes. He started with the day of her wedding and she started with her acceptance of Luthor's proposal with the idea that they would meet in the middle. Clark put the tape from Lois' wedding day in the machine. A day that was still all too clear in his mind. There were clips from the wedding and the reception. He didn't think he had ever seen Lois looking so lost. Then came some footage that Clark recognized as coming from Luthor's bedroom. Lois was in her wedding dress and had gone into the bathroom. Luthor was sitting on the bed opening champagne. Clark really didn't want to watch this. It was obviously her wedding night and, besides, she had already married Luthor so that wouldn't help them. But then something caught his attention. He continued watching in interest as Lois walked back into the room. She looked incredible but after noting that he kept his eyes on the champagne. At that moment, Lois noticed what he was watching, recognized it and jumped up to turn it off. She didn't want him to see this any more than he originally had but he stopped her. "Wait, Lois," he said stopping the tape and rewinding it briefly. He turned the tape back on. It started at the part where she left for the bathroom.
"Clark, I… Please, I don't want you to see this. I don't want to see this. What do…"
"Watch the champagne."
She looked confused and turned back to the television. She watched Lex open the bottle and set it down beside two glasses. She recalled how she had refused the champagne because she was certain that she wouldn't be able to keep it down. Lex poured the champagne and then removed a small container from the night stand and took a pill out and dropped it into one of the glasses. Lois stared in fascination. If she hadn't refused the champagne… She reached out to turn it off. Once again he stopped her. "I know what happens after that, Clark"
"I just want to be sure that he offers you the one with the drugs in it."
She stepped back and watched as she emerged once again from the bathroom. Just watching it made her feel sick all over again. They watched in silence as Lex Luthor handed the glass with the drugs in it to her and watched as she refused. With that Clark got up and turned off the tape and turned to Lois. She was deep in thought.
"Well, I guess that settles it," Clark said.
"I don't think so. I think it helps substantiate our theory but this is after my wedding and we can't yet prove what the type of pills he put in my champagne."
Clark nodded. They still had some serious work ahead of them. Suddenly she had a thought. It was the next morning that she had realized that she loved Clark. She told that to Clark. "If I hadn't felt so sick about everything and had drunk the champagne, I may not have realized how I felt about you."
"Well, it may have taken you a bit longer but… I'm glad you didn't drink it."
They resumed watching the recordings. Most of what they saw was useless. However, they did find three more instances of drugs being slipped to Lois, all of them before the wedding. All they needed now was some evidence that linked Luthor to the drug in question. However, there was nothing in the room that would help them know what the drug was. They were about to leave when Lois walked back over to the videos and took the videos for a few additional days following her wedding. Clark looked at her curiously and was told, "I want any other videos that might show Lex and I…" She never finished the sentence. Clark just nodded. He understood. He didn't like the thought of Luthor having such videos either. Suddenly Lois was struck by another thought. "The day that we came here to get my stuff. Should we take that one too."
Clark thought for a moment. "You said that Luthor had information about our relationship." She nodded. "Then he knows that when you cry I always hug you so there would be nothing unusual in that. I think it would be more suspicious if the tape were missing. None of these tapes record sound so I don't think the video will tell him anything. What I'm more interested in is whether you changed from Lois to Superwoman in the penthouse."
Lois thought for a moment and then shook her head. "No, I always changed on the balcony and there don't appear to be any cameras out there." She paused and then said, "except for the day that Lex tried to kill you." They decided to take that tape too since Luthor would just think that they had taken it to help prove the case. With that, they gathered up the videos they had selected as well as Luthor's file on Lois Lane and they flew back to Clark's apartment where they dropped off their acquisitions and then Clark flew Lois home. They landed a couple of blocks from Lucy's since her place was still under surveillance and walked, as Lois and Clark to the apartment from there. Clark said a quick good bye just inside the door for the benefit of the cameras and headed for home to hide what they had found.
Lois had gotten ready for bed and was heading back into the kitchen for something to drink when there was a knock at the door. Lucy's place did not have a peep hole in the door so Lois asked who it was.
Lois, immediately aware of the cameras and bugs opened the door and stepped out into the hallway sending a message to Clark. >I need Clark Kent at the door of my apartment now.< It only took a few seconds for Clark to turn the corner and walk up to Lois' door. Agent Scardino looked annoyed by the arrival of Clark Kent. "What do you want, Scardino?"
"Please, call me Daniel. I figured that if I wanted your cooperation, I'd have to give you something. If you'll invite me inside, we can talk."
"Clark, take him to the bar around the corner. I'll join you in a few minutes." Lois walked back inside as Lucy came up and asked who was there.
"Just this guy who has been hitting on me at work. I don't know how he got my address but I got rid of him. I imagine he will be nursing his ego for a week at least. Anyway, I really wanted something with fizz to drink and we don't seem to have anything so I'm going to go to the corner store." Satisfied that she had performed well for the cameras, she got dressed and left the apartment. Avoiding a tail was simple enough.
By the time Lois arrived at the bar, Clark and Scardino were being served with drinks. Lois was surprised to find that on seeing Clark she felt her heart skip a beat. How could she have ever thought that she couldn't love Clark? She wouldn't have believed that she was capable of feeling this much emotion for another person.
Lois smiled as she watched the two men trying to prove that they were real men by guzzling drinks. This was one challenge that she knew Clark would win. She had often wondered why Clark could drink without getting drunk. Now she knew. She was enjoying discovering who Clark really was. Things that had baffled her about Clark before now made perfect sense. As she stood there, Clark looked in her direction and she went to join the two of them.
"All right, what did you want to talk to us about, Scardino?" Clark asked.
Agent Scardino ignored Clark and addressed Lois, "I was concerned about sharing information with you given your connection to Lex Luthor. But I checked you out and am satisfied that you can be trusted with this information. Mr. Luthor has too many… shall we say powerful connections and this information could cost me my job. Before I release this information to you, I need to know that under no circumstances will you tell how you obtained this information."
"I always protect my sources, Agent Scardino," Lois said.
"Please call me Daniel." And with that Daniel Scardino took a file out of his brief case and passed it over to Lois. Clark scooted his chair over next to Lois and they began to examine the file. The file was of a man named Charles Lynch. There was a short biography and a picture. He was a pharmacist by education and trade. There were also financial records that showed that he was a very rich man.
"I take it that he did not get this rich operating a pharmacy."
"No. Charles Lynch is, technically, a drug dealer. However, he is a very different type of drug dealer. He doesn't push crack to school kids, he sells drugs that have not received F.D.A. approval to terminally ill people."
"I discovered his activities years ago but decided not to take any action. What he is doing is illegal and I probably should have arrested him but he is always very careful about who he sells to. He only sells these experimental drugs to people who have no possibility of survival without them. These people could go to other countries to receive treatment. However, even with his exaggerated prices, it is still cheaper for these people to obtain the drugs from him. He has saved a lot of lives. So, I didn't bust him. However, I have been keeping a very close eye on his business. When I heard about your investigation into an experimental drug, I was concerned that maybe I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have. So, here is all the information I have on Mr. Lynch. If I were trying to track down an experimental drug on the street, here is where I would start."
"I would appreciate some quid pro quo, however. Since I am the one who let this guy continue to operate, I would like to know what exactly you are looking for."
Lois and Clark looked at each other. Clark had run a check on Agent Scardino after his appearance in the newsroom earlier that day. He didn't know if he had done this because he was suspicious or if he was upset about him hitting on Lois. He had discovered that Scardino had been suspended more than any other D.E.A. agent. He had also discovered that Scardino had also received more decorations than any other D.E.A. agent. The story he was telling here today was believable and it fit with what Clark had learned about the man. He did things his own way. His objectives appeared to be honest but he was known for bending the rules to get to his objectives. This was not the way Clark lived but he still could respect those who lived in that way. After all, Lois often followed this method. Also, his financial records showed a man living from paycheck to paycheck, and Clark had been able to determine that the deposits to his bank account corresponded with his paychecks. If he was working for Luthor, you couldn't tell from his lifestyle. Besides, this information was not something that Luthor would want them to get their hands on and they didn't believe that Luthor knew what they were looking for. Clark also doubted that Luthor would hire someone who would hit on Lois, and Scardino was known as a ladies' man. If he was working for Luthor, making passes at Lois would be a very dangerous thing. Clark also thought that they might be able to use his help in this matter.
>I think we should trust him, but I'll stand by your decision.< Clark sent to Lois.
Lois looked at Clark suspiciously. Clark had shared with her the information he had found on Scardino. Scardino was a cute guy who had hit on her constantly since they met. It was obvious to Lois that Clark didn't like Agent Scardino and yet he thought that they could trust him? Well, then that is what she would do at least to a certain extent.
"We believe that I was given drugs without my knowledge. The drug was an experimental drug known as Tenander. Tenander is used in the treatment of cancer and I don't have cancer. However, we think it was used on me for the side effects. Apparently it increases a person's stress level to the point where they are not able to make decisions."
"Why would someone have used this on you?"
Lois looked at him for a long moment debating. Finally she decided. "I think Lex Luthor used this drug to get me to marry him."
"Omigod. Look Lois, if that's true, then Lynch is… I'm so sorry. What can I do?"
Clark finally spoke. "Does Lynch know that you are aware of his activities?"
"Then you have leverage that is not available to us. Can you talk to him?"
"Good. Let us know what you find. But be careful. We don't want Luthor knowing that we are on to this because the evidence will disappear if he does."
"I'll have something for you by tomorrow afternoon."
Scardino then turned to Lois with an award winning smile and said, "Why don't you let me walk you home? It is late and I want to be sure you get home safely."
Lois smiled and said, "Thanks, but Clark will take me home." The smile on Scardino's face faded slightly but then he took Lois' hand and, before she could object, pulled it to his mouth and kissed it.
"I'll see you tomorrow."
As he left, Clark bit his lower lip slightly and shook his head. Lois laughed and handed him her coat. "Why don't you walk me home. Oh, and I need to pick up some soda on the way." Clark looked confused so she explained that that was the excuse she had given for leaving the apartment.
The next morning at the Planet, Lois and Clark both had separate stories to work on. Lois had to go interview a C.E.O. of a textile plant about allegations of improper disposal of toxic chemicals. She got the interview but, uncharacteristically, she didn't delve into the story. For now, the story was just about the allegations and the C.E.O.'s denials. Finding out the truth of the allegations would have to wait till later. She had more important things on her mind. She wanted to get back to the Planet in time for Scardino's visit. Clark was covering a presentation from the Department of State to a visiting dignitary from the Kingdom of Algenas. He too was anxious to get back. When they arrived back, they quickly typed up their respective stories. They were just finishing up when Jimmy came over.
"Hey, C.K. I found some things on Walter Paxton you and Lois might find interesting."
"Let's hear it, Jimmy."
"The large donation of money that ended up in Paxton's account came from a holding company called L.C.A.. Incorporated."
"'L.C.A.' what does it stand for."
"I don't know. The company is incorporated under the letters only without any indication of what they stand for. I also was unable to find out who was behind the company. However, I do know that the company has no obvious business and no assets. A large deposit was made to the company just before the pay out occurred. I also looked at the company's past activities. All I can tell you is that every so often, a large deposit is made and within days, that money is paid out."
"So it's a dead end," sighed Lois.
"Not necessarily," said Clark. "Lois, I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that L.C.A. Incorporated is one of the companies I found in my research on Luthor's holdings."
"I'm not certain. My files are at home, but I think that is one of the companies I found that Luthor owns. There were a number of holding companies that I could not find any purpose for."
"How come you could find it when I couldn't?"
"I think that may be because I started at Luthor and worked my way down. You started at the company and worked your way up."
"Did you find anything else on those other names we gave you?"
"Sorry C.K. There doesn't seem to be anything unusual with any of the other names you gave me. They all seem to be legitimate doctors or lab techs or security guards. I couldn't find anything to indicate that any of them were anything but what they appear except Paxton."
"What exactly does Walter Paxton do at the Center?" asked Lois.
"He is a lab technician. He was known for being out of the lab by 5:30 p.m. every night except right around the time that the money mysteriously appeared in his bank account. He also had access to the drug. Staying late would make it easy for him to smuggle some of the drug out of the lab. I asked for the security tapes and log in books for around the time the donation was made to his bank account."
Lois and Clark looked impressed. "Good work, Jimmy. Did you find anything?"
"Security cameras are not set up to watch the lab, but they show that he didn't leave till about 11:00 p.m. the day before the deposit. When I checked the sign out books I discovered that he was the last one in the lab that night and, get this, he left about fifteen minutes after the last researcher left the lab."
Well, I'd say we now know who smuggled the drug out of the lab." Clark and Jimmy agreed.
It was at this moment that Cat chose to make an appearance. She was once again dressed conservatively. "You look very nice," said Clark sincerely. A look from Lois told him that he shouldn't have said that. He looked confused.
>Don't encourage her Clark?<
>What?< and suddenly it hit him. She was dressed that way to attract him. >He suddenly looked horrified at what he'd done. Lois burst out laughing as >she saw the pieces come together in Clark's mind. Jimmy and Cat looked at >her.
"What's so funny, Lois?" Jimmy asked. Lois just shook her head and turned to Cat.
"So what's the occasion, Cat. New man in your life?"
"No. I just thought I'd like to try a different look." Cat then turned to Clark. "I've been having some trouble with my car, Clark. As a farmboy, I'm sure you know about such things. Do you think you could come over some time this week to take a look at it?"
"I… um… well Cat…" He didn't ever turn down a woman in trouble and although he thought this was probably a set-up, he didn't know that for sure. He looked at Lois >Help.<
>Go ahead and accept. I'll come with you.< Lois replied to his call for help.
"How about tonight?" Clark said to Cat.
"Great. Why don't you come by for supper and then we can look at the car?"
"Actually, I have dinner plans. How about I come by at about eight?"
"Fine," Cat was disappointed not to get him over for supper but eight o'clock, she could work with that.
Scardino arrived in the early afternoon. Clark was in the Planet's archives looking for more information about Luthor's connection to the Cancer Center when Scardino arrived. Scardino was pleased to see that Clark was no where around when he walked into the newsroom. He spotted Lois Lane immediately and walked over to her desk.
"Hi," he said with one of his trademark smiles. Lois looked amused. He was attractive but she was definitely not interested. It was flattering however to have someone, other than Clark, interested in her. Her self-esteem had been seriously undermined by Luthor's betrayals. This was a nice little ego boost.
Jimmy noticed Scardino enter the newsroom and saw him head for Lois' desk. Even from this distance he could tell that Scardino liked Lois Lane. He was still feeling protective of C.K. After seeing how Clark had reacted to Lois' marriage to Lex Luthor, he didn't like what he was seeing. Lois may not be interested in Clark as more than a friend, but he didn't want her jumping into another relationship so soon. He was afraid that it would have disastrous consequences for C.K.. He looked around for Clark and when he couldn't see him, he made his way to Lois' desk. His presence was accepted by Lois who figured he was here to protect Clark. Normally, she would have hated such actions but given all that had happened… Jimmy would know soon enough about her and Clark and until then, she was willing to accept his interference. Scardino, however, looked annoyed. Why were all these men who worked with Lois Lane trying to protect her from him?
"So, do you have anything for us?" asked Lois.
"Actually, I found out quite a lot." He laid some record books on her desk. "These are Charles Lynch's records." He opened the book to the page in question. "Apparently he acquired the drugs for the wife of an executive in Lex Corp. He had her checked out and she does have cancer and has been diagnosed as terminal. However, the drug was not picked up by the husband but by a…" Scardino looked for the name "a Nigel St. John. He assumed that it was all above board or as much as it could be given that the whole operation is illegal. He was horrified to learn that the drug may have been used specifically for its side effects and is willing to help you in any way possible."
Clark had walked up in the middle of Scardino's explanation. "Did he say who at the Metropolis Cancer Treatment Center helped him?"
"Yes. I have the name here somewhere." He said as he flipped through his notes. "It was…Walter Paxton." All three of the people he was talking to smiled. "Apparently Lynch made the arrangements to transfer the drug but he said that Lex Corp. paid Paxton personally."
"Well, when I was in the archives, I found something else interesting. Apparently, Luthor is on the board of directors for the Metropolis Cancer Treatment Center."
"So that is how he learned about the drug." Lois looked smug. "So that's it. We have the tapes showing Lex giving me drugs. We have a connection between the drug and Lex and we have my reaction. I think we should visit Constance Hunter," she said looking at Clark. He nodded, a smile spreading across his face. "Can we hang on to these?" Lois asked Scardino. He nodded.
"Who is Constance Hunter?" Lois just shook her head. She wasn't about to tell him exactly what the information was for.
"Sorry, Scardino," Clark said.
Lois and Clark went out for supper before their mission of mercy to check out Cat's car. When they got seated, Lois wanted to talk about something that had been bothering her since yesterday… the dream. "Clark, did you dream about me during my engagement and marriage to Lex?"
"Quite a bit actually. Why?"
"I dreamt about you too."
"I figured that during our stake out."
Lois smiled at that. She had woken up saying Clark's name and had then turned to apologize thinking that she had called Lex by Clark's name. It was this that had convinced Clark that she loved him. But, back to the dreams. "But it wasn't your usual dreams. It seemed that the dreams were connected." Clark was suddenly very interested.
"Do you mean that one dream picked up from where the last left off?"
"That's how my dreams were too."
"Did your dreams start after you had been engaged to Luthor for about a week?"
"Yes. Did the first one seem like it was the same night that you told me…" she looked around to make sure no one was listening, "that you told me you were Superman," she said quietly.
Clark nodded. "Are you saying that we were in each other's dreams, literally?"
"I don't know. What do you remember about the dreams?"
"Well…" Clark blushed. "Some of them were…"
"Well, yes. The dream started with you coming to me in the middle of the night after I told you that I was Superman. I didn't remember anything about what was happening in the real world but you would tell me about these dreams you had been having."
"In one of the dreams, did we spend it making love on the island where I went to learn to use my superpowers?"
"Yes." Clark looked thoughtful. "Lois when did you have that dream?"
"I don't know exactly."
"Well, was it before or after I came to your balcony and we saved our friendship?"
Lois thought about it for a moment and then said, "It started before that night and the next morning was after. Why?"
"Lois, you were dreaming about an island that you had never been to. I had dreamt of taking you there but never had."
Lois looked stunned. "Do you think this means that all of this is a dream?" She was dreading his response.
"No. I think it happened because you and I are connected and because we both needed those dreams to survive the situation. I know that the only thing that kept me going a lot of the time was those dreams."
"Me too." There was a period of silence before Lois said "Wow!!" Clark agreed with that sentiment.
They arrived at Cat's a little bit before eight. They were standing outside her apartment when Clark hesitated. Lois smiled, leaned over and knocked. Cat answered the door wearing a sweat shirt and blue jeans. When she spotted Lois the smile disappeared from her face. Noticing her appearance and realizing that she was wearing it to disarm Clark, Lois smiled. "Lois," Cat said trying to hide her displeasure, "I didn't expect you to come."
"Well, Clark and I had dinner together and he suggested that I come to keep you company while he looked at the car."
"That really wasn't necessary, Lois. You don't need to stay here to babysit me. I'm sure you have better things to do, so please don't feel you have to stay."
"Oh, it's no problem, Cat. I can't think of anything I'd rather do."
Clark interrupted. "Cat, why don't you give me the keys to your car and I will go down and check it out while you two continue this. What seems to be the problem with the car?"
Cat sighed and then told Clark what the problem was. There was some sort of scrapping sound when she accelerated or turned corners. Clark took the keys and left for the garage in the basement. Lois stayed and followed Cat back into the apartment. When the door was closed, Cat turned to Lois in anger.
"I told you that I was going after Clark, so what are you doing here? You're married to Lex Luthor. It's not fair of you to keep Clark on a string when you are married to someone else. Don't give him hope when there is none."
"Clark and I are friends, Cat."
Cat snorted. "Maybe that is how you see it, but haven't you noticed the way he looks at you, hangs on your every word, is always there when you need him. I have never had a guy look at me the way he looks at you."
Lois blushed. Everyone seemed to know how Clark felt about her. So why hadn't she noticed it. "You don't understand, Cat," she stammered. This was going to be harder than she thought. She hadn't thought about it but it would look like she was leading Clark on. "We are friends and with Lex in jail, I need a friend." Cat turned away from her and stocked into the kitchen. She brought back a bottle of wine and two glasses.
"Well, I guess we might as well enjoy this. It is obvious that I won't be able to enjoy it with Clark tonight and right now I could use a drink."
By the time Clark came back, Lois and Cat had finished three bottles of wine and were actually having a good time. They had never spent time together outside the office and once the barriers came down (and the third bottle of wine had done that) they were chatting like old friends. Clark collected Lois and told her that he would drive her home. She had argued that she was okay to drive but Clark, noticing the empty bottles decided that he would drive. He helped her out to the jeep and poured her into the car. He had flashbacks to a similar situation not that long ago and hoped that he wouldn't have to try to resist her advances now. He wasn't sure he had quite enough will-power these days to do that. Fortunately, Lois was asleep almost immediately. When they arrived at Lois', Clark carried her into the apartment. When he knocked on the door, Lucy answered. He motioned for her to stay quiet. Lois was asleep in his arms. "She's a little drunk," he explained as he carried her into her bedroom and laid her down on the bed. He quickly surveyed the room to discover that no new surveillance equipment had been installed. Once he knew that there were no cameras, he leaned over and gently kissed Lois on the cheek. Lucy was standing in the doorway to the bedroom watching all of this. Clark turned to her. "Will you take care of her?" he asked.
Lucy nodded. "Don't worry Clark, I'll take care of her," and with that Lucy saw Clark to the door and then, as he was about to leave, pulled his head down and kissed him on the cheek. He smiled at her and left.
Lucy closed the door and went back to get her sister more comfortable. She was glad that Clark was in the picture. He loved her sister and unlike Lex Luthor, Lucy trusted that Clark would never hurt Lois. She had been disturbed when she had set down the phone after her phone conversation with Lois on the day after her wedding to Luthor. She certainly hadn't anticipated that Lois would ever get Clark back. But, here he was, loving Lois as if she had never hurt him. She was thrilled to see how Lois was looking at Clark these days too. Lucy had never believed in love until now. Clark had not only managed to convince Lois that real love was possible, but he had also managed to give Lucy hope.
Lois and Clark arrived at the office of Constance Hunter at nine o'clock in the morning. They had called the day before but she was in court so they had made an appointment to see her this morning. They laid out their entire case before a surprised Constance Hunter. This time Clark was much more involved than he had been on the first visit to her office. She looked at their evidence for a few minutes looking for possible weaknesses in their case. Finally, she looked up at them and said:
"I think we've got a case." They both smiled.
She explained to them the court process. Normally, it would take at least a month for her to prepare the papers, get them served and filed and get the matter before a judge. But given their hard work in helping to prepare the case as well as her sympathy for their plight, she would get the papers drafted today and their first court date would take place in about a week. She warned them not to expect results by then. If Lex Luthor was planning to challenge, this would probably have to go to a trial. That could still be months away. That took the some of the wind out of Lois and Clark's sails but they nodded anyway.
Lois told Constance that they needed to know when the papers were going to be filed in order to ensure that two things were done before then. First, the witnesses would need to be protected. Second, they had an exclusive story to file with the Planet. Constance told her to expect the paper to be filed first thing tomorrow morning. They then made arrangements for the witnesses to come in to sign their affidavits later in the day. Lois would sign one as well as Charles Lynch and a doctor from the Center would be needed to sign one about the side effects of the drug. They were asked if either Nigel St. John or Walter Paxton would sign affidavits. They knew that Nigel wouldn't but would see if they could persuade Paxton.
Just as they were about to leave, Constance sat them back down. "There is something more I need from the two of you."
"Name it," Clark said.
"Well…It's just that I don't think it is a good idea for Clark to come to the courtroom when we go for the Nullity."
"What!" Lois and Clark both said in surprise.
"I need him there," Lois added.
Constance smiled. "Its just that you two can't look at each other without telling everyone around you how you feel about each other and if the judge thinks that you want out of your marriage to Lex Luthor to be with another man, you are not as likely to be believed. What we are counting on here is your reputation as one of the few trustworthy reporters left in the world against a man who is in jail on two counts of attempted murder and forcible confinement. If anyone makes the connection between you two, we could loose much of that advantage." Lois and Clark nodded their heads.
Lois and Clark returned to the newsroom to prepare their story for tomorrow's morning edition. They were careful about revealing names although Lex Luthor would have that information when the papers were served on him tomorrow. However, Perry would get their story tonight and they were concerned that Lex Luthor could have informants inside the Planet.
Cat walked in to the paper at her usual late hour. Clark noticed her enter and sent a message to Lois. >It looks like Cat has given up< Lois looked up. Cat was dressed in her usual style. No more conservative clothing. Lois smiled and then looked thoughtful and then frowned. Suddenly, she deliberately made her way over to Cat.
"How much do you remember about last night, Cat?" She asked innocently. "My memory is really spotty."
"Only bits and pieces," Cat confessed. "It seems we must have finished off the third bottle."
Lois signed in relief. Cat allowed her to have her slight moment of reprieve before smiling and whipping out a tape recorder. "However, as a gossip columnist you learn to be resourceful. I turned it on at the end of our second bottle. I listened to it this morning," and with that Cat hit the play button.
Lois heard her voice say "…of course, I can't blame you for wanting to get Clark into bed. He is the best lover I've ever had." Lois lunged at the tape recorder, but Cat was ready for her.
"Do you think I would let you near the original, Lois? This is only a copy. The original is locked up some place safe."
"What do you intend to do with that?" Lois was now in a cold sweat. Cat grinned.
"Well, I do have a gossip column to write."
Lois grabbed Cat's sleeve and headed for the conference room signaling Clark to join them. When they had entered, Lois closed the door, took the tape recorder from Cat and played the disturbing portion again for Clark. She watched the color drain out of his face.
"Cat…" he began and then stopped. He had no idea what to say. If she printed this, it could ruin Lois' chances to be free of Lex. Lois was way ahead of him.
"How about we trade you? I have better gossip than that. The story is already written and you can submit it to Perry under your name. The only condition I have is that it not be printed until tomorrow morning's edition." When Cat looked unsure Lois added, "It's just that we have to make sure that the people referred to in the story are protected."
"What could you possibly give me that would top Lex Luthor's wife having an affair with her partner?"
"We are not having an affair," Clark objected but both Lois and Cat ignored him. They were too heavily in to their horse trading.
Lois walked out of the conference room and brought in the disk that contained their most recent story on Lex Luthor force feeding her drugs to get her to marry him. She turned on the conference room computer. She waved the disk at Cat. "This is guaranteed to get you the front page instead of the gossip column and it will soon be the hottest gossip in town." Cat was still skeptical. "However, before I show you this, I want your word that if you don't accept it, you won't print anything about it in this afternoon's edition." Cat was too curious to resist so she agreed. Lois loaded the story and Cat sat down in front of the computer to read. This was incredible and Lois was definitely correct in her assessment. It was hotter that Lex's wife having an affair.
"Deal," she said after reading it.
"Fine, then I want the tape, including the original, of last night's conversation."
"This is the original, Lois. I haven't had time to make a copy yet." Cat said with a grin. "Just tell me something. I won't print it but I just have to know. When did you start having an affair?"
"We are not having an affair," Clark reiterated. Cat looked at him in disbelief before turning back to Lois.
"He's telling the truth. We slept together once before I married Lex. That's how I know that he is an incredible lover."
"Lois, I'm no fool. From the way you two look at each other and your reaction to the tape, it is obvious something is going on." Lois and Clark both remained silent so Cat continued. "Fine. You can keep your story and I will print mine. I would think that it will complement yours nicely."
"Cat, wait," Lois said as Cat got up to leave the conference room. Cat sat back down with a smile. Lois sighed and looked at Clark who shrugged. He had never been blackmailed before and so was completely at a loss for what to do. "Ok, you win. What we told you is true. Clark and I are not having an affair but that isn't the whole story." Lois reached into her blouse and pulled out the ring and, unfastening the chain, handed it to Cat before continuing. "But, once my marriage to Lex is nullified, we are planning to get married." Cat looked confused.
"But if you know that Lex drugged you to get you to marry him and you two are planning to get married when the marriage is over, then how can you not be having an affair."
"Clark wants to wait," Lois said simply. Cat looked stunned.
"Why?" she asked Clark.
Clark looked at her in confusion. "Because it wouldn't be right, Cat. At this time, whether either of us likes it, Lois is married to Lex Luthor. She is not free to be with another man. I love Lois and I want to wait until we can really be together. However, if you print any of this, you will undermine her chance to be free of Luthor and I will never forgive you for that." The look in Clark's eyes let Cat know just how serious he was.
"Ok. I'll trade you. What I know about the two of you for the story about Lex drugging you," and with that, she left the conference room in confusion. She had never known anyone like Clark Kent but he was taken and she now understood that she would never be able to seduce him. With morals like that, he would never cheat on Lois. Maybe Lois could have a little accident… Nah. It wasn't worth it. There were plenty of fish in the sea. Still… Lois' words 'he's the best lover I've ever had' rang in her mind. Considering the fact that Cat knew from personal experience that Lex Luthor was a really good lover, that was saying something.
It was a busy day for Lois and Clark. They went to the Cancer Center and found a doctor who agreed to give them an affidavit about the drug's effects. They were also given a small sample of the drug itself to use as evidence if necessary. They spoke to Charles Lynch who, after profusely apologizing to Lois, agreed to meet them at the lawyer's office at four. He accepted, with gratitude their offer to have Superman protect him and his family. They would be relocated in what Lois referred to as the Superman Protection Program until after the Decree of Nullity was obtained. If after that time he wanted their assistance to disappear permanently, they would help. He assured them that once he had had time to convert his assets into cash, he would be able to handle that part. He also assured them that as of this moment he was out of the illegal prescription drug trade for good. They immediately had Superman take him and his family to a safe place. Superman would bring him back for the lawyer's appointment, but until then, he would be safe. That only left Walter Paxton. They had left him till last because he hadn't been at the Center today. Apparently, he had left early because he was sick so they had been given his address.
Lois and Clark checked the address again. This didn't seem right. The house was small and looked neglected. However, they decided that the only way to find out for certain that it was the wrong address was to knock. They did so and a small nervous looking fellow answered the door. He identified himself as Walter Paxton. It didn't look to Lois or Clark like he was sick. When they told him who they were, he glanced around nervously. "You can't be here," he snarled.
"Why not Mr. Paxton?" Lois asked innocently. This man was definitely afraid of something. Maybe word had finally leaked to Lex about what they were up to. One thing Lois was certain of was that pressure was being applied here and she intended to take advantage of it.
"You just can't." Clark surveyed the area and determined that Paxton may have been threatened but he was not under surveillance, well not yet anyway. But that was just a matter of time.
"We can offer you protection," Clark said.
"What can you possibly do to protect me from someone as rich as Lex Luthor?"
"We can offer you protection in the Superman Protection Program," Lois said. She now had Paxton's full attention so Lois continued. "You provide us with an affidavit on what you did with the drug called 'Tenander' and, if necessary, agree to testify at trial and Superman will fly you some place safe to stay until the trial and will help you get resettled afterwards. Paxton sounded relieved. He invited Lois and Clark inside and locked the door. He told them everything and including a conversation he had actually had with Lex Luthor himself about dosages and side effects. He had doubted that Luthor intended to use it in the treatment of cancer because Luthor never once asked about its effectiveness in fighting cancer. The drug was to be delivered to Charles Lynch which it was and then the next day, Paxton found that a large sum of money had been deposited in his bank account.
After they had received all the information from Paxton, they called it in to Hunter's secretary who took it for the affidavit that Paxton would sign later today. They then had Superman take him someplace safe until four o'clock.
The meeting with Constance Hunter went well. Lois informed Constance that since Clark didn't have to sign anything, they had decided that he should let her come alone. However, Superman brought the witness in one at a time and when they had finished, he returned them to safety. After all of the witnesses had signed and Constance had begun to pile up the papers, Lois told her that they thought that Luthor was aware of what they were doing. She was concerned about Constance's safety as well as the safety of the evidence. As they were discussing it, Superman showed up from returning the last witness and asked if he could be of assistance. Constance was grateful. She wasn't concerned about her own safety. She lived in a very secure building and she was just the lawyer. The case would proceed without her so even if they killed her, it would not stop the process and she was sure that Luthor would know that. However, she was concerned about the evidence. She made several copies, giving one to Lois, putting one in her own files and putting the one for court in the safe. However, she wanted to be certain that the originals were somewhere even safer than her safe. She turned those over, with the approval of Lois Lane, to Superman for safe keeping. He in turn took them to the Fortress of Solitude. After that, Clark showed up at Constance Hunter's office in order to pick Lois up.
They returned to the Planet before heading home and were summoned into Perry's office. He was looking at Cat's article. He looked at them in question. This was obviously Lois and Clark's work. He could recognize their style anywhere. "Do you want to explain this?" He asked.
"Not really Chief," Clark tried. But Perry was not letting them get away with that this time.
"Well then, why don't you just explain it to me anyway."
Lois and Clark sat down and brought him up to speed. He listened intently and then said, "You both realize that this story will probably bring in another Kerth award. Are you really prepared to just give it to Cat Grant?"
"Perry, all I really want is to get out of my marriage to Lex and rumors about Clark and I may hinder that. I'm not willing to take that risk even for a Kerth award." However, there was a sadness in her voice. Given the choice between an award winning story and the man she loved, she had chosen the man. Perry was secretly pleased by that. However, he was still not happy with this turn of events. However, there was nothing that either Lois or Clark could do about it, so he let them go.
When they arrived at Lucy's apartment, they destroyed the remaining surveillance devices. Luthor now knew what they were doing so there was no need to pretend. They might as well have whatever privacy they could. However, in order to protect whatever misinformation they had already sent to Luthor, they pretended to find one of the bugs and then called in experts to check for anymore. After they were gone, Clark sat down on the sofa and Lois curled up next to him and they spent the next hour talking to Lucy about what was happening. She had been kept in the dark until then in order to ensure that she wouldn't be able to let something slip in front of the surveillance devices.
When the paper hit the news stands, it bore a 48 point headline 'Luthor DRUGS LOIS LANE TO ENSURE MARRIAGE.' Underneath was the by line of Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Lois and Clark looked at each other in horror and made their way to the office of their editor. "What have you done, Perry," Lois said. "We had a deal with Cat and when she sees this, she will print what she knows about us. You know what's at stake here. How could you do this to us?" Perry listened to her diatribe in silence until she finished.
"Close the door," he said and Clark did so. "Now, if you are quite finished…" Lois and Clark nodded and sat down.
"I had a little talk with Cat after you left yesterday. It seems that there are one or two things that she doesn't want released to the general public any more than you want your relationship to get out." Lois and Clark looked at him in disbelief. He had blackmailed Cat into remaining silent. When the irony hit them, they both smiled. "I couldn't let Cat have a chance at a Kerth award for work that you two did." With that he smiled and said, "What are you hanging around here for? Don't you two have work to do?" They got up to leave and as they did so they heard Perry muttering under his breath, "Great shades of Elvis, what am I running here, the Borneo Gazette?"
The papers were issued at the Court House first thing that morning. A date was set for the matter to be heard in a week. If Luthor didn't challenge it, it would be dealt with then, but neither Lois nor Clark believed that Luthor would let this go unchallenged. If he did challenge then a date would have to be set for a hearing. Constance assured them that she would get the quickest date possible but that even then, it would be at least a month.
The papers were served on Lex Luthor at the prison a few hours after they had been issued by the courts. He had already seen the morning headlines and he was fuming. He had gotten wind of the investigation early yesterday afternoon from a source inside the Daily Planet and had taken steps to have all of the connections to him eliminated. However, his incompetent henchman had bungled the job as usual and now all of the people who could help prove his connection to the drug seemed to be beyond his reach. He knew that there was no point in trying to fight this through legal channels until and unless he could plug those leaks. He decided that he would just have to move the time table up on Plan B.
He spoke to Nigel to find the earliest date possible in which to initiate Plan B. He would never tolerate losing Lois Lane. He would just have to get to Lois, he decided. That was his only hope in fighting this. He was convinced that Lois could still be persuaded to remain his wife. All he had to do was to convince her that they belonged together. Yet, she had not come to see him. He had tried calling her sister's place a couple of times but both times Lucy had answered and had refused to even take a message. He had tried calling her at the Daily Planet but had been unable to call at a time when she was there. He needed to talk to her and he would find a way to do so. It never occurred to Lex Luthor to let Lois go. She belonged with him. All he had to do was get her to see that.
The week that followed when by quickly. They managed to come up with an excuse for the sudden disappearance of Superwoman that did not prohibit her return to Metropolis. Perry had been thrilled at getting the exclusive story. Superwoman had promised to return for Lex Luthor's trial before leaving. Clark was finding it so much easier having Lois in on his secret. He no longer had to think up excuses for ducking off when they were out on a story. Lois was also better at coming up with excuses then he ever was when they were with other people.
Perry had them working long hours to make up for the leeway he'd given them while they were trying to find a way for Lois to get out of her marriage with Luthor. Now however that the case had been fully prepared, there was time for them to work on other stories. What was unusual was that he gave them stories that they would not be working on together. He figured that by keeping them busy and, mostly apart, he could also help keep any rumors >from forming about their relationship. He became concerned after that >incident with Cat that they were in danger of giving away their >relationship. Although Cat would not likely be a problem, given what Perry >knew about her, there were others who would not be so easy to control. He >could help with that and although he did not tell Lois and Clark what he >was doing, he was sure that they had figured it out. When he partnered >Lois with someone else on one story, they had both looked at him >curiously. He was fairly sure that they knew that he was keeping them apart and probably had figured out why.
However, there were times when he would observe Lois looking at Clark or Clark looking at Lois and knew that it would still be quite obvious to anyone who knew them well what was happening. When such periods of silent staring got too long, Perry would stick his head into the newsroom and make his presence felt. This never failed to bring them back to the task at hand.
After work in the evenings, Clark would drive to Lucy's with Lois. They would talk on the way, but it was always so short and Lois was too tired to do anything but go straight home and to bed. Clark would do his patrols of the city and then head home himself. Yet both craved some time together. When Saturday evening rolled around, Clark approached Lois with the proposition that she come over to his place for dinner. She wanted to go so bad. She missed him so much but…
"Clark, I'm not sure we should be alone together in your apartment."
Clark smiled. "Well, how about we invite Lucy and Jimmy to join us?"
Lois was frustrated by the thought that they wouldn't be alone but agreed with Clark's suggestion. They didn't want to go to a restaurant because if Luthor was still having her followed, it wouldn't take much these days to notice how they looked at each other. It seemed that their longing to be together grew stronger as time passed. At least if they gave themselves away when Lucy and Jimmy were there, they wouldn't have to worry about it getting back to Lex. Also, Lois had a feeling that Lucy and Jimmy were attracted to each other and there was a hope that they would keep each other company so that Lois and Clark, although not alone, would at least be able to talk.
Both Lucy and Jimmy were pleased to be invited over to Clark's for supper. Clark would be cooking. It was something Clark enjoyed doing. Jimmy said that he would pick up a couple of videos on his way over to Clark's and with that, it was settled. This was a close as Lois and Clark were going to be able to get to being alone for the time being.
By the time Lois and Lucy arrived, Jimmy was already there and Clark had begun cooking. Everyone had taken time to go home and change into something casual for this dinner. Lucy went with Jimmy to look at the videos as Lois joined Clark in the kitchen. She lifted herself up to sit on the counter to talk to him as he cooked. He was cutting up vegetables and she reached over and picked up a carrot stick and started eating. Suddenly both of them flashed back to the last time she had sat on that counter and watched him cook. Lois blushed and Clark cleared his throat as both tried to drag their minds back to the present. Fortunately, Lucy came over just then and told Lois and Clark that Jimmy had great taste in movies and to find out what was for supper. That helped break the tension and Lois and Clark both released breaths that they hadn't realized they were holding. It really was a good thing that these two had come.
Supper was great. Even Lois and Clark were enjoining having Lucy and Jimmy there by the end of the meal. The lasagna was delicious as was the salad. Clark certainly was a great cook. Given Lois' lack of cooking skills, that could certainly be an asset in marriage. They cleaned up the dishes and retired to the living room to watch the videos.
Clark put on the video and settled down on the couch putting his feet up on the coffee table as the advertisements for other movies came on. Everyone else made their way into the living room and Jimmy sat down next to Clark. At that moment, Lois no longer cared if Jimmy knew about her and Clark. All she knew was that he was sitting in her spot. She grabbed Jimmy's arm and pulled him to his feet. He looked at her in confusion. He was trying to figure out what she was doing when it suddenly became very obvious as she settled herself down beside Clark. Clark moved his arm so that she could snuggle up against him and then his arm moved in around her shoulders. Lois cuddled up comfortably against Clark's chest completely ignoring the startled Jimmy. Clark looked at Jimmy's stunned expression and said, "Why don't you sit down, Jimmy. The movie is starting." Jimmy did as he was told but his brain was still trying to comprehend what had just happened.
Lois and Clark had had an exhausting week both from their workload and from constantly fighting their desire for each other and they were both asleep in a few minutes. Jimmy kept looking over at the sleeping couple trying to believe his eyes. He was not watching the movie. He was battling with the idea that Lois was having an affair with C.K. He could see that of Lois but C.K. That was not like him at all. Then he thought back to the newsroom and how that very idea had crossed his mind briefly. But after everything that had happened between them, Jimmy could not believe what his eyes and his mind were telling him. How long had this been going on? Since Lois had returned to work perhaps. That was when C.K. had started to recover. Perhaps it was when Luthor had gone to jail or when Lois found out that Luthor had drugged her to get her to marry him. Was Clark just Lois' way of getting revenge on Lex Luthor? He certainly hoped not. His mind was swirling but he was unable to find any answers.
Lucy, who had been watching the movie, looked over at Jimmy and saw him intently watching the sleeping couple on the couch. She smiled. He obviously did not know what was going on here and if she let him think what he was obviously thinking… Well, let's just say that it would not likely remain a secret. "In case you were wondering, Jimmy," she finally said, "I think we are here to act as chaperons." Jimmy looked confused at this so Lucy motioned for him to follow her into the kitchen area. He did. "I take it from your expression that you don't know what's going on." Lucy gestured toward the sleeping couple. Jimmy just shook his head.
"After Lois married Lex, she immediately realized that it had been a mistake and that she loved Clark. Of course, at the time she didn't know that she had been drugged. She didn't know what to do about it. But as you can see, she got Clark to forgive her. However, they have decided that they can't sleep together while she is still married to Lex. So they have to avoid situations that… well you know. So, I think that we were invited here tonight to act as chaperons."
Jimmy looked at her in amazement. This was starting to make sense. "But why didn't they tell me before?"
"We didn't tell anyone," Clark said. He and Lois had awaken at the sound of the voices and were now standing at the entrance way to the kitchen. Lois was leaning back against Clark and he had his arms wrapped around her waist.
"If it becomes known how we feel about each other, it will undermine my case and make ending my marriage to Lex much more difficult." Lois paused and gently stroked Clark's arm that was around her waist. "But Lucy is right, we are waiting until my marriage is over to Lex but then…" She looked back at Clark briefly before continuing. "Then we are going to get married like we should have in the first place." Lois' eyes were absolutely gleaming.
"Congratulations!!" Jimmy said absolutely stunned. Everyone laughed at that and they all decided to return to the movie that was already in progress.
They had just settled back down into their designated places when the phone rang. Clark was able to reach over and answer the phone without moving away from Lois. Lois watched him and saw his face and felt his body tense. He removed the phone from his ear and covered the mouthpiece. "It's Luthor. He wants to talk to you." She shook her head and Clark put phone back to his ear. "She doesn't want to talk to you, Luthor." He looked like he was going to hang up when he stopped and listened. "Love her!!" Clark exclaimed. "You never loved her. You don't even know the meaning of the word. You don't drug someone you love, Luthor. Don't you realize how dangerous that drug is. She could have had a nervous breakdown. You b
d!!!. And in case you didn't know…" Lois was now sitting up and had placed a hand on Clark's chest silently willing him to calm down. "You don't cheat on your wife with, what was it, seven different women, if you love her." There was a moment of silence in which no one could hear what was being said on the other end of the conversation but the narrowing of Clark's eyes told them that it wasn't an apology or any other calming words. Clark's voice went from anger to almost a hiss. "Listen to me carefully Luthor. If you ever hurt her again. I swear that you won't live to tell about it. And trust me, Luthor, I am more than capable of fulfilling that threat." And with that Clark slammed down the phone and his audience watched as it shattered into a hundred pieces. Lois didn't worry about the phone. She figured, or at least hoped that the others would think that a normal human male could have done that if he was angry enough and no one in the room doubted that Clark was very angry. Lois' main concern at the moment was for Clark. They needed to talk somewhere without an audience. She needed to get him calmed down. She took his hand and directed him into the bedroom. They did not completely close the door but swung it to an almost shut position so that they could talk privately.
The second movie ended and there was still no sign of Lois or Clark. Jimmy looked over at the bedroom door. It was still open a slit. "Do we dare?" he asked.
Lucy who was less scared of Lois' wrath then anyone in the world got up and walked over to the door and pushed. Sound asleep, fully clothed, on the bed were Lois and Clark. After their talk they had obviously laid down in each other's arms and fallen asleep. They looked so peaceful that it almost seemed a shame to disturb them but, if they were the chaperons tonight, they had to so. Lucy woke her sister up and told her that it was time to go home. Clark groaned in protest when Lois moved from his side. She reached over and lightly rubbed his arm. He awoke and looked at her contentedly. She told him that she had to go and he got up to take them home. "You're not awake C.K.," Jimmy said. "I'll make sure that they get home okay."
"Thanks, Jimmy," Clark said. Lois was about to protest that they didn't need anyone to take them home but decided that she was too tired. She leaned over to kiss Clark and stopped herself. That was not an option yet. She straightened up and touched his face lightly with her hand and said good night. He looked a little sad as she left and she felt like she was walking away from her heart but somehow she managed to do it and soon she was at home tucked into her own bed and dreaming of Clark.
It was finally the evening before the hearing and Constance Hunter had informed Lois that Lex Luthor had not yet filed a response. This was a very good sign although Luthor's attorneys could simply show up at court and ask for additional time. But so far so good.
Lois was getting ready for bed when the phone rang. At first she considered not answering. What if it was Lex. She really didn't want to talk to him. However, after it rang for the forth time, she changed her mind and picked up the phone. She was pleased to hear Martha's voice on the other end.
"I understand that tomorrow is the big day. Have you heard whether Lex Luthor is going to oppose the application?"
"Not yet, Martha. But that concerns me. It makes me think that Lex must have a plan up his sleeve. I just wish I knew what it was."
"Honey try to relax. Maybe Lex just knows he has no case."
"Maybe, but I've got a bad feeling about this."
"Why don't you have Clark come over and keep you company tonight. If you are afraid of what Lex might do, it might be a good idea to have him there."
"I don't think that's a good idea, Martha. We are so close to making it through this. If he spends the night here… I just don't think it's a good idea. Besides, Lex is in jail and I don't think he would hurt me. I'm just a little nervous about what legal maneuvers he may try to pull tomorrow."
"Well, I'm sure that you can handle whatever he might try."
"I have another reason for calling," Martha said a little hesitantly.
"What is it, Martha?"
"I have an idea. I will understand completely if you don't want to but… Well, I was just thinking… Are you two still planning to get married as soon as your marriage is declared null and void?"
"We haven't talked about it. Why?"
"Well, I was just thinking that rather than going down to City Hall, you might want to come to Smallville and get married in our family church. Anyone you want here could come Superman airlines. I spoke to our minister and he's willing to perform a wedding on a moment's notice. Well, I just thought…"
"That it would be really nice if you could see your only son get married?"
"Well, yes… But Lois, if you don't like the idea…"
"I love the idea, Martha. Besides, I have a beautiful dress waiting for me in Smallville." Lois smiled. She liked the idea of getting married in a simple church in Smallville. She liked the idea of inviting Perry and Alice and Jimmy and Luce and maybe even Constance Hunter. She would have to invite her parents too but doubted that they would be able to come. But she really did like the idea of Martha and Jonathan being there. If her father couldn't come, she would ask Perry to walk her down the aisle. "Thanks, Martha. How about Clark and I give you a call after my court appearance tomorrow?"
"That would be great," said an ecstatic Martha Kent. She had been nervous about suggesting this but was now glad she did.
Lois was both excited and nervous about the court case. She had a terrible time deciding what to wear to court. She finally decided on a tan suit and a white blouse after trying on almost everything she owned. Afterwards her bedroom looked like a hurricane had been through there. But she didn't have time to clean up as she was already cutting it close. She didn't dare think about after the court case because there was no guarantee that the decree would be granted. It was time to go so she grabbed her briefcase and headed for the door.
Lois didn't have a chance to scream or even send a message to Clark telepathically. She was closing the door when someone came up behind her and stuck a hypodermic needle in her neck. She was unconscious instantly.
Clark arrived at the court house about ten minutes before court was scheduled to start. He met Constance Hunter just inside the building. She told Clark again that he should wait out here and not come in the court room. Clark understood. However, he still needed to be near. No matter what happened in that court room, he needed to be here for Lois. Constance looked at her watch. It was getting late. Clark was use to Lois being late so he didn't see anything odd about this.
"What happens if she doesn't arrive in time?" Clark asked.
"She doesn't have to be here. The evidence is all in and I can argue it for her. But I am surprised that she is not here. Do you think anything is wrong?"
"Ms. Hunter, Lois is always late. I wouldn't worry about it too much."
"Listen Clark, you have called me Ms. Hunter since we met. Why not call me Constance? I think we know each other well enough by now, don't you?"
Clark smiled. "Sure. I think I can do that Ms… Constance." She smiled at him. She understood what Lois found so attractive. Between that smile and that hometown charm, this guy was a great catch. She looked at her watch one more time.
"I need to get into the court room. Send Lois in when she gets here. I don't see any of Luthor's lawyers here so that is a good sign. Maybe after reviewing our evidence he realized that it was a waste of time trying to oppose." Clark wasn't as convinced. He was suddenly worried. Lois being late was a fact of nature but Luthor's apparent lack of opposition was not normal. He smiled at Constance the best he could and wished her good luck as she entered the court room.
As soon as she was gone, Clark took off. He flew over to Lois apartment but didn't find her there. Then he saw the jeep. Something had happened to Lois. The jeep would not be here if she was on her way to court. He searched her entire building and the surrounding buildings but found no sign of her. He tried calling her telepathically but to no avail. For all he knew, she no longer possessed that power to communicate telepathically so the fact that he couldn't reach her that way didn't mean anything. It certainly did not mean that she… that she… He couldn't even bring himself to think that. He stood completely still and tried to listen for her voice. There was no sign of her as far as he could hear. He used his visual abilities to search for any clues. All he found was what appeared to be a very small water spot on the carpet near her door. He bent and felt the spot. It was still wet. He put his fingers to his nose to smell the substance and then touched his tongue to his fingertips to taste it. It was definitely not water. It was some form of medication and although he did not recognize it, he was certain that it had something to do with Lois' disappearance.
He flew over the courthouse on his way to the police station just in case he was wrong, but Lois was still not there. He knew it was too early to file a missing person's report but he was determined to speak to Inspector Henderson. Even if he couldn't do something officially, they had worked with Henderson before and Clark hoped he could convince Henderson to help. He spun into his Clark clothes in an alley outside the station before he entered. He found Henderson right away and was horrified by the first words out of Henderson's mouth.
"I assume you are here to get information about Lex Luthor's escape from prison." The look on Clark's face told Henderson that he hadn't heard about Luthor so he continued. "He escaped some time during the night but no one noticed it until the head count this morning. We are still looking into it… Clark are you all right?" Clark had lost all of the color out of his face.
"I'm here to tell you that Lois is missing." Clark sounded almost desperate, silently willing Henderson to say that he knew where she was. Maybe she heard about Luthor's escape and came here to investigate instead of going to the court house. But there was no such reassurance. Henderson took Clark into his office to get all the details about Lois Lane's disappearance. Clark told him about the wet spot on the carpet outside Lois' apartment. Henderson immediately sent someone over there to check it out. He informed Clark of all the steps that the police were taking to track down Luthor and it was reasonable to assume that when they found Lex Luthor they would find Lois Lane. They had a team over at Luthor Towers now searching the penthouse for clues.
"I'm sure he won't hurt her. If he had only wanted revenge, he would not have kidnaped her. That gives us every reason to believe that your partner is alive and we will find her Kent." Clark nodded and walked out of the station feeling like the world had just come crumbling down around him.
Well, the police may have limits on what they could do to find Luthor. However, Superman didn't. He spun into his Superman outfit and took to the skies.
Lex Luthor looked over at his unconscious companion. She looked to be resting comfortably. He would keep her well sedated until he could get her inside their new home. It was on an island off the coast of Africa. There was no extradition treaty and his fortress beneath the island was exactly to his purpose. Once there he would wake Lois. The fortress was lead lined and sound proof so Lois could scream for Superman to her heart's content. When she realized there was no way out, all he had to do was to convince Lois that he is her destiny.
The plane entered the air over international waters. They kept going according to the flight plan they had to file until they were out beyond the range of air traffic control and then turned south and headed for the island. Luthor was content. Nigel had stayed behind in Metropolis to conclude all last minute business, to keep an eye on the police investigation into his escape and to keep him informed.
Luthor had been very pleased previously with Tenander's effect on Lois Lane. It rendered her incapable of making decisions leaving them all in his providence. When he had failed to renew the dosage on their wedding night, he was nervous but the wedding night and even the following night had proven him wrong. Her passiveness in bed had convinced Lex Luthor that he had won. He took this as a sign that the feisty brunette was now totally his. He had broken her. It had been a good feeling so he had decided that he would not continue the medication. That had been a mis… an err… a miscalculation on his part but one that was possible to rectify. He was concerned that when he had tried to start it up again after she had moved out of their bedroom, it didn't seem to have any effect. However, he would try again. This time the drug would be combined with the hopelessness of the situation and it should break her for good. He would, however, have to be sure that he kept her away from anything she could use to harm herself because if she took her own life, he would still be deprived of his victory. He was looking forward to the challenge, since that was what he loved most about Lois Lane. His only annoyance was that he would have to wait a few days before he could recommence using the drug. He had been told in no uncertain terms that to give her Tenander when any trace of the other drug was in her system would be fatal for her. He would wait a week just to be sure.
Clark floated above Metropolis x-raying every building that was somehow connected to Luthor. Those buildings with lead paint or having lead lined rooms he explored by personal recognizance. He even looked under many of Lex Luthor's buildings, making sure that he could see well into the earth in case Luthor had built a bunker below the city. He found and examined the 'arc' Lois had told him about. Luthor had built a fall-out shelter that could house 200 people for 3 years. It was lined with lead and so Superman had had to burrow down below the earth to search it. However, there was no sign of Lois.
When court had ended, a confused Constance Hunter had emerged and having seen no sign of either Lois or Clark had gone back to her office. Clark stopped by later in the day to receive the news that Luthor had not contested and they had obtained the Decree of Nullity. Lois was not married to Lex Luthor and never had been. She had been expecting a more joyous audience but quickly realized that something dreadful had happened. When Clark filled her in, she was horrified. She told him that if there was anything she could do to help, just to let her know. Over the past weeks, she had come to think of both Lois and Clark as friends. At her offer, Clark asked if she could prepare a list of all countries that the U.S. didn't have extradition treaties with. He was sure that Luthor would either have taken or would be taking Lois out of the country. Constance agreed to assemble the list but didn't know what Clark could possibly hope to accomplish by obtaining one. He informed her that he would personally search every one of those countries if he had to but he was going to find her and bring her home.
It didn't take long for the police to discover that Luthor's private jet had disappeared somewhere over the Atlantic. The police were of the opinion that Luthor was now beyond their jurisdiction and although they continued to search, they didn't have much hope of finding Luthor.
For the next two days, Clark continued to search. He flew over every possible location and even tried surveying some of the foreign properties owned by Luthor. He tried again and again to contact her telepathically but to no avail. During all this time, Clark had not slept. He was exhausted and frustrated and angry but mostly, he was terrified.
When searching through his traditional means did not turn anything up of value, he decided to try a different technique. Perry White had informed him that in Luthor's absence, Nigel St. John was running Lex Corp. So Superman decided to pay Mr. St. John a little visit.
Superman landed on the balcony of the penthouse. St. John was gathering up papers in Luthor's private office when Superman arrived. Superman started by demanding to know where Luthor had taken Lois. Nigel denied any knowledge of Luthor's whereabouts claiming that he had already spoken to the police. Although he was speaking to the most powerful being on the planet, he felt no fear. Everyone knew that Superman played by the rules so he was taken back by what happened next.
"I don't think you understand. I want answers and I want them now."
"I don't have any information for you so what are you going to do. Everyone knows that you always obey the rules so, since I'm not talking, go find another source."
In a low menacing voice, Superman said, "I've often wondered if I would be able to maintain my ethics if anything happened to Lois," and with that he used his heat vision to start a fire on Luthor's desk. "I guess we will soon find out, won't we?" With that he lit the curtains on fire. Nigel started backing away from the half crazed super hero. He noticed the beard stubble on the normally clean shaven super hero and a touch of what could only be called madness in his eyes.
"You won't hurt me," he said as much to convince himself as the super hero. But he continued to back up until he was on the balcony. Superman followed him step for step.
"Won't I?" Superman said. He stepped up until Nigel couldn't step back anymore. "Are you going to talk?"
"I don't know anything."
"Fine," Superman said as he gave Nigel a solid push off the balcony. Nigel screamed and fell backwards. He had obviously misjudged the super hero. Everyone had their breaking point and maybe Superman's limit had just been passed.
In the second before he hit the ground, Nigel St. John felt him himself being caught and flown back up to the penthouse. "On second thought," continued Superman, "If you're dead, you won't be able to tell me what I need to know. Maybe I should try some alternative methods first," and with that he used his heat vision to set fire to one of Nigel's shoes. Nigel jumped and began frantically removing his shoe from his foot. Superman simply watched as Nigel got his shoe off. Superman x-rayed his sock and found only minor burns. He was pleased that there was no serious damage although he was not prepared to let Nigel see that. "So are you ready now to tell me what I need to know or do we continue?"
Nigel St. John was not normally a fearful man but he knew a no-win situation when he saw one. "She is in an underground, lead lined bunker on an island off the east coast of Africa." Superman's eyes glowed red as he prepared to use his heat vision again. "That's all I know, I swear. Please don't hurt me." Nigel was whimpering now and Superman was satisfied that he had been told all that Nigel St. John knew. He hadn't, but he had been told a lot. At least it was enough to begin a search. Superman then tied Nigel up and contacted the police. He put out the fires and quickly made some repairs so that nothing Nigel would say about his methods would be backed up by the evidence. Superman didn't think there was enough evidence to prove that Nigel was involved in Luthor's escape, especially since his confession to the Superhero would undoubtedly be thrown out. But the police would keep Nigel from contacting Luthor for a while. Once the police arrived Superman headed out in the direction of Africa. He would start his search by correlating what he had received from Constance Hunter about extradition treaties with the information he had received from Nigel St. John. That left a lot of ground to still cover, but at least it wasn't the whole world. He also figured that the place would have a landing field since Luthor had disappeared in the jet. At least he hoped that Luthor would have wanted to land near the sight where he would be taking Lois.
As he was searching, he suddenly heard a small weak voice in his head >Clark.< He stopped in mid-flight, hung in the air and concentrated intently. >Clark.< the voice said again.
>Lois?< Clark gasped in relief.
>I need you.<
>Where are you?<
>I don't know. It looks like some kind of bunker.<
>Are you ok?<
>Well, I don't know. My head is foggy and I feel completely disoriented, but I seem to be all right. What happened?<
>You've been missing for two days now. Luthor escaped from prison and so far from what I have been able to determine, you are somewhere off the east coast of Africa in an underground fortress.<
>Two days!! Are you telling me that Luthor has me?< Clark heard real fear >in her voice. He had to get her calmed down.
>Don't worry, Lois, I will find you.<
>How? All you know is that I am somewhere off the east coast of Africa.<
There was a moment of silence before Clark heard a small voice say >I'm scared Clark.< Clark felt his heart break at the words.
>I have an idea Lois. I think I should be able to track your voice. I need >you to keep talking to me and I am going to try following your voice.<
>What if someone comes in?<
>Just hum or repeat what they say in your mind. Just try to keep it going. Ok?<
With that she started talking about anything and everything she could think of. She told Clark about her conversation with his mother and about how much she liked his parents. She told him that she had noticed how good looking he was while they were working on their first story and, fearing that she was going to be swept off her feet had done everything she could to put distance between them. She told of how it had felt when he first held her in his arms flying her back to the Daily Planet. She told of how she had felt a connection between them. She talked about everything she could think of. She was on to stories from her childhood when she heard someone at the door.
Lex walked in the door and Lois had to control her emotions. She would not let him see her afraid. She told Clark that Lex was there and then decided to try his idea of sending the entire conversation telepathically to Clark.
"Lex? What's going on? Where am I?" She was amazed at how calm her voice sounded. It must be that the tranquilizer he had given her was still in her system.
"All you need to know is that we are together now," Lex said soothingly, "and once you accept that, I'll tell you everything. Until then, I don't intend to give you any information that might assist you in your escape. After all, I do expect that you will try to escape but you will find that it is hopeless."
"So what? Until then, I'm stuck in this room?"
"Not at all, my dear. You will have run of the entire place. You will find that it is about twice the size of the penthouse so that will give you plenty of room."
"Why aren't there any windows in my room? You know that I like to see the moonlight at night."
"Sorry but there are no windows anywhere in this place." Okay, thought Lois, we must be underground. She sent that message to Clark and then continued.
"Lex do you really expect me to love you after all of this?"
"I don't really care if you love me but you will be mine. That has been my objective since the day we first met, my love. And I will succeed. Oh, and until then, you can scream for Superman to your heart's content. The building is soundproof and the walls are lined with lead."
He grinned his Cheshire Cat grin and Lois felt sick inside. The man was mad. Well, maybe she should try talking about something else with him. "So what does L.C.A. Incorporated stand for?"
"Yes, I saw reference to it in your story."
So, what does it stand for?"
Luthor grinned "Luthor Criminal Activities."
He was about to turn and leave when he noticed something sparkle around Lois' neck. Lois noticed where Lex's eyes were focused and froze. >He has seen your ring< she screamed to Clark as Luthor approached her. He grabbed the ring and pulled busting the gold chain that held it in place around her neck.
"What is this?" he demanded.
"It was my grandmother's," Lois lied evenly.
A small evil grin made its way to Lex Luthor's face. "Don't take me for a fool, darling. I know enough about jewelry to know that this isn't old enough to have belonged to your grandmother." He took the chain that was still running through the ring and tossed it carelessly to the floor so that he could examine the ring more closely. She held her breath as he examined the inside of the ring and saw the words engraved there: Forever, love Clark. When Luthor looked back at her, she saw a rage in his eyes like nothing she had never seen before. She shrunk back in fear from that look. >Help Clark,< she cried in her brain.
Clark had been having some success in tracking Lois' voice but it was taking a long time. He had to go slow. He tried to ignore the fear that crept into him when he heard that Lex had entered the room and he had succeeded. The only way for him to save her was for him to remain calm and follow her voice. However, when Luthor had discovered the ring and on hearing Lois' last transmission, the fear overtook him. The connection was broken. Then there had been nothing. He had tried to send her some calming and reassuring messages but she had failed to respond. He felt himself moving from fear to panic. He couldn't track her voice when she wasn't communicating with him. He looked around and tried to will himself to calm down so that he could think. He finally got himself under control enough to come up with another idea. He suddenly remembered the incident in the barn where Lois had tried to read his mind. She had been able to enter his mind but had found that the number of thoughts there made reading it impossible. He also remembered her having problems getting out. However, it was his only hope. Maybe if he entered her mind, he could follow it to her location. He concentrated and suddenly knew that he had made it into her mind. The number of thoughts were overwhelming. He knew that he would loose his own mind if he stayed in here too long but he brushed that aside and concentrated. The force of the connection made it easier to track then her words had been. He closed his eyes and allowed his senses to lead him.
Clark entered the bunker. He took in the scene and reacted immediately. The room had been trashed making it apparent that there had been quite a struggle. Lois had managed to buy enough time for Clark to get there but it was a good thing that he had arrived when he did.. Luthor had Lois pinned on the bed and was about to show her once again who owned her. Superman immediately had Luthor by the back of his shirt and lifted him off Lois. Lois caught the look on Clark's face and realized that Clark was out of control. She was seriously afraid that he would kill Lex and, although that thought was not exactly unpleasant to her either at this moment, she knew that they would both regret it later. She grabbed Clark's arm as he was holding Luthor up using Luthor's own shirt to cut off his oxygen. She struggled to get herself between Luthor and the super hero. "Superman, No!" she yelled again. "Kal stop." This finally broke Clark's concentration. Clark's eyes left Luthor and focused on Lois. Her clothing was ripped and she was disheveled but she was alive. He dropped a gasping Lex Luthor to the floor. "I'm ok," she whispered throwing her arms around him. "I'm ok." And with that the uncontrollable anger left him.
Luthor and his staff were tied securely when Clark took Lois back to Metropolis. He would come back for Luthor and the others and take them back after he made sure that Lois was safe. He went to pick her up when she stopped him and began searching the room frantically. He was about to ask what she was looking for when she bent down and picked up a small ring with a diamond setting. He looked at her and smiled slightly while slowly shaking his head. She then picked up the broken chain and walked over to Clark who picked her up and flew her home. She wrapped her arms around him and got lost in the strength and safety of his arms. He flew her to his apartment and then reluctantly took off to deal with Luthor.
Superman delivered Luthor to Inspector Henderson at police headquarters. It was a violation of extradition treaties but, guess what, Superman didn't care. He figured that violating extradition treaties was a far less serious infraction than killing Luthor and that was the only other option he could think of. The guard who had helped Luthor both with getting visitors in and getting Luthor out had been found and charges had been laid. They intended to come down hard on him as a warning to all other guards about what would happen if they helped Luthor in the future. The guard had the money that he had been paid for the task seized and all of his assets had been frozen. Henderson was confident that it would be a long time before any of the guards forgot this lesson.
Superman filled Henderson in on where he had found Luthor (although he would say nothing about how he had found him) and that Lois was back safe and sound. Henderson was relieved. Lois could be a pain in the butt. Still Henderson recognized that she was one of the good guys. He was glad that she was all right.
Clark arrived back at his apartment. He had hated leaving Lois alone for so long but it was imperative that he made sure that Luthor was securely locked away so that he couldn't be a threat to her anymore.
When Clark entered the apartment he saw Lois curled up on the couch wearing a long t-shirt of his and covered with a blanket she had stolen from his bed. She was absentmindedly flipping through channels on the T.V. She was starting to feel the effects of her close call. When she had arrived at the apartment, she had called everyone to say that she was all right. She had spoken to Perry and Jimmy, Martha and Jonathan, Lucy and even her parents. She had even left a message for Constance Hunter and had been informed by her secretary that her marriage to Lex Luthor was over.
When she saw Clark enter, Lois turned off the television and watched him come over to her. He took her in his arms and just held her. They didn't say a word to each other. It just felt so good, so safe for both of them to be holding the other. Finally, Lois, in a small voice asked, "Will you just hold me tonight, Clark?" He pulled away slightly and looked at her. She could look so small and so lost sometimes, he thought. He smiled slightly and nodded. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her into the bedroom. She needed him to just be here for her tonight and he could, finally, do that. He set her down on the bed and went to change into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt for sleeping and then crawled into bed next to her. She snuggled up close to him and was asleep almost immediately. He laid awake well into the night grateful to have the chance to hold her again.
Lois stretched lazily but didn't open her eyes. She knew where she was and just wanted to enjoy laying here a little bit longer. She could tell that Clark was no longer laying beside her but that did not concern her. She could hear noises and smell coffee coming from the other room. She smiled sleepily. She had no idea what day it was (the kidnaping had robbed her of a couple of days) or what time it was, but it didn't matter. All that mattered was that she was free from Lex and she was with Clark. The sensation washed over her that all was right with the world. She allowed herself to doze a little longer before opening her eyes. She looked over at the clock on Clark's night stand but it was in pieces. She took a second look. She had noticed the time before she fell asleep and wondered what had happened to the clock since then.
She got out from under the warm covers and shivered at the chill in the air. She noticed Clark's robe hanging on the back of the door and went over and put it on. It was huge. She rolled up the sleeves so that she could at least find her hands. She spotted Clark's big old slippers and slipped her tiny feet into them. She would have to be careful walking but at least her feet were warm. She then quietly opened the door and made her way into the kitchen. She wanted to sneak in unnoticed so that she could watch him for a while without being observed but have you ever tried to sneak up on someone with super powers?
"Good morning, Lois," Clark said the moment she entered the room. He was busy cooking breakfast and didn't turn around. She smiled. Well, so much for that idea. He moved a pan off the stove and then turned around to look at her. When Clark saw her, his breath caught in his throat. Just the sight of her was enough to throw him these days. He wanted to tell her how much he loved her, how much he needed her in his life, but he seemed to be rendered speechless. So he just looked at her.
At his look, Lois felt the backs of her knees go weak. His look conveyed so much love. She had never before known this kind of love. A love that was so accepting, so forgiving and so unconditional. She was in awe of the fact that someone could actually love her that way. Not even her own parents had loved her like that. They stood like that for a moment, just looking at each other when Clark seemed to remember what he was doing. "I have breakfast ready."
"That sounds great. I'm starving." Lois grabbed some plates and cutlery and glasses and quickly set the table as Clark put the finishing touches on breakfast. They sat down to eat in companionable silence before Lois remembered what had been troubling her. "Clark, what happened to the clock in your room?"
Clark looked sheepish. "Well, when it went off… I was sort of in a hurry to turn it off to keep it from waking you up and… Well, I guess…" Lois started laughing. He had obviously hit it like any other person would have to turn it off and in his half-asleep state had shattered it to smithereens.
"Does that happen a lot?"
"Yeah," Clark said sheepishly.
"Well, I guess that means that I can keep 'alarm clock' on your Christmas list every year." She was still laughing. "That should cut down on my need to think up new ideas every Christmas anyway."
When they had finished breakfast and cleared the dishes, Clark took Lois into the living room. He sat her on the couch and pulled out the engagement ring that he had fished out of her suit pocket earlier this morning. "Lois, do you still want to marry me? I mean after what happened with Luthor, I know that you might need some time and I'm certainly prepared to give…"
"Shut up Clark," Lois said. "I want to marry you more than you can possibly imagine and… the sooner the better."
He slipped the ring on her finger and then said, "So?"
"So, I've been thinking about your mother's offer and I really like the idea of getting married in Smallville. What do you say we call your folks and find out if they have time to come to a wedding tomorrow?"
They spent the rest of the morning talking about the wedding. They called everyone to see if they could come and even Constance Hunter said that she could take time off work. The calls were fun except the one to her mother who gave her a lecture on waiting and being sure this time. She reminded Lois of the a short engagement she had had to Lex Luthor and asked how well she really knew Clark. However, when Lois suggested that maybe her mother might rather not come to the wedding, she was surprised by her determination to come "Even though it is almost certainly another mistake."
Martha and Jonathan were grateful to have a whole day to get ready. They had rather expected to be given a couple of hours. Since they had heard about the almost elopement, they had had florists and a caterer and the minister on stand-by. There was even a tux on hold in Smallville for Clark. They made the calls and got things ready for the big day.
Lois and Clark also had some things that they needed to get done. First, they went to a jewelry store together to pick out wedding rings. They agreed to meet later on for supper and kissed good-bye. They had also agreed about something else too. Since the wedding was tomorrow, they had agreed to wait until they were married to make love again. Much to Clark's surprise, it was Lois' idea.
The guests of course were excited about the travel arrangements. Apparently, Superman had agreed to fly everyone to Smallville for the wedding and offered to fly everyone back the next day. However, much to Lois' relief, Jonathan and Martha vetoed that idea saying that although it would be nice if Superman flew everyone to the wedding that they were coming to Metropolis anyway and would rent a van to take everyone back. Reservations had to be made at the motel in Smallville since there was not enough room at the farm to put everyone up. However, the motel owner, thrilled by the prospect of one of the nicest kids from around these parts getting married, had given the guests an excellent rate.
When Lois left Clark, she called her sister who agreed to miss classes this morning to go shopping with Lois. Lois was determined to find a perfect outfit for her wedding night. She knew that she could come out wearing an old sweatshirt and blue jeans and Clark would be happy but she intended to completely overwhelm him and to do this she needed Lucy's help. Clark was thinking about the wedding night too but in a different way. He had a few things to do to get the place where they would spend their wedding night ready. He hoped Lois would like it.
When they finally met for supper, Lois and Clark were both satisfied with their day. Lois was still nervous about Clark meeting her mother but that was overshadowed by the unadulterated joy she felt at the thought of her upcoming wedding. Unlike her feelings about marrying Lex, she felt no doubts about marrying Clark. They ate supper and then Clark invited Lois to go with him to the Fortress of Solitude. Before they got married, he wanted her to know him. To know that there was nothing that he would ever keep from her. He felt he could do that best by showing her the Fortress. A place never seen by another soul. She was thrilled. When she had been there last time, she had not had the chance to explore that she would have liked. But there was something that she also wanted to share with him…
"Clark, where did you put the evidence for the court case?"
"It's at the Fortress of Solitude. Why?"
"There is something in that evidence that I want to show you too."
They arrived at the Fortress of Solitude about eight o'clock Metropolis time. It was cool outside but the fortress had some sort of kryptonian power source that kept the temperature at a constant 75 degrees F. Clark showed Lois all of the secrets of the place. It was then that she noticed the globe. "Does it usually glow?" she asked suddenly as she noticed the globe glow for the first time.
Clark looked up. "No." He walked over and took the globe in his hand. Instantly, the image of his father, Jor-El, was standing before him.
"If you are seeing this message, it means that you have found someone to share your life with. If she is not there with you, she should be. A marriage can not work unless you are willing to share all that you are with each other. Her hand must touch the globe to for this message to continue." Lois reached over and touched the globe. Jor-El smiled and Laura came over to join her husband. "We wish we could have had a chance to meet the woman that would agree to share her life with our son. We welcome you to our family. Love each other well. Take care of each other and trust each other for that is the basis for a solid marriage. Our hope for both of you is that you will find together what your mother and I have. Be happy with each other." And with that, the image faded.
"Wow," said Lois who had not seen the previous messages. "How did it know that we were getting married."
"I don't know," said Clark.
Clark continued to show her around. When they had finished, Lois pulled out a file from among the evidence they had gathered for the court case. It was the file that Luthor had assembled on her before their marriage. She sat down at a table with Clark and handed it to him. He looked in confusion at the file and then looked back at Lois. "I want you to read this Clark." He started to shake his head but stopped as she continued. "I want you to know everything about me. I've never wanted that from anyone else before. I've always feared letting people get too close. But I want you to know who I am." He took the file and opened it slowly. For the next hour they went through it together. He laughed at her D- in home economics in high school but was suitably impressed by the rest of her marks. He looked at her seriously when he saw the list of her father's affairs.
"Did you know about these before you read the file?"
"Are any of the names familiar?"
"Some," she acknowledged.
"Well, just because Luthor has a file that says that your father had these affairs doesn't make it true."
"It's true Clark," she said sadly. "It explains so many things that happened between my parents that I didn't understand at the time. Promise me that we won't turn into that," she pleaded.
"Lois, I have never been with anyone but you, and I never will be. From the moment we met, I have known that I belong to you." She smiled tenderly at him.
The next thing he came across was the list of her sexual relationships. He wasn't sure he should be looking at it. He looked into her face searching it to assure himself that she wanted him to see this. She smiled a little sadly. The list wasn't long by some standards but there were still a number of names on it. She reached over and took it from him. "Lex did quite a good job on this one." She began going through the list telling him about her past relationships. Some of them he knew about, the affair with the reporter in which she had waken in the morning to find that he had stolen her news story and claimed it for his own. The relationship in college where her best friend had stolen both a story and the man in her life. He had switched from one friend to the other without even having the decency of ending his relationship with Lois before starting his relationship with Linda King. She suspected that for a time he had been sleeping with both her and Linda. She hated talking about this but she wanted him to know that she had no secrets from him and this appeared to be the best way. Clark listened as she talked. It was a sad story of doomed relationships. In case after case, Lois had been hurt and abused in these relationships. She chose men who, without fail, had betrayed and used her. Clark suddenly understood the woman he loved. No wonder she had fought falling in love with him. No wonder she had chosen Luthor. To her love and abuse were opposite sides of the same coin. You couldn't have one without the other.
When she had finished, she sat silently looking down at her hands. He didn't know what to say so he just took her in his arms and held her. Willing her to understand that he loved her. That he would never hurt her. She clung to him tightly. She felt his strength and his love and felt safe. He would never purposely hurt her. She knew that without a doubt and couldn't believe how close she had come to throwing this away. She sighed and Clark felt the tension leave her body. He pulled back and looked into her eyes. He understood that he had been given a very special gift, Lois' trust.
"Thanks for sharing this with me" he said earnestly. She smiled and lightly kissed him.
Clark looked thoughtful for a moment and then a slow smile spread across his face. "What?" she asked, recognizing that he was about to say something outrageous.
"I was just thinking about what you told Cat…" Lois shook her head and laughed at his cocky expression.
Lois was amazed at how much Martha had accomplished on such short notice. The church was beautifully decorated and flowers could be seen wherever she looked. Lois had asked Lucy to stand up for her and Clark had asked Jimmy. They had both agreed with enthusiasm. Clark had flown her back to stay with his parents after they got back from the Fortress of Solitude. That way he wouldn't see her on their wedding day until she walked down the aisle. Martha was ecstatic. She loved Lois and knew that she was the one person who could hold her own with the man of steel.
Clark spent the early morning flying the guests to Smallville. He met Lois' mother although she didn't know that. She had grilled the man of steel on what he knew about Clark Kent. Superman patently answered all her questions. He tried not to be too full of praise when speaking about himself to his future mother-in-law, but he did make it clear to Mrs. Lane that he knew that Clark loved her daughter and that he would never hurt her. Once all the guests made it, Clark himself appeared and managed to charm his future mother-in-law. The worldly woman that was Mrs. Lane was no match for Clark's old world country charm.
Clark had met Lois' father before. However, then he was just Lois' partner, sort of, at work. However, Dr. Sam Lane had liked him then and he was pleased with his daughter's choice now. He was also honored to be asked to escort Lois down the aisle. He had wondered, given their history, if he would be afforded that luxury.
This time as she walked down the aisle, she didn't notice anyone but Clark standing at the end waiting for her. The look on his face when he saw her was almost intoxicating. When they exchanged their vows (vows they had been working on since their respective discussions with his parents) they could have sworn that they were the only two people in the church. When the minister pronounced them man and wife, they both had unshed tears in their eyes and when they kissed for the first time as husband and wife, they felt like they had exchanged souls.
When the time came for the bride and groom to take their leave, they borrowed his parent's car. (He told them that they would leave it in town for them) Then without telling anyone where they were going, they drove off. As they were leaving, a thought occurred to Lois.
"Clark, we made these plans so quickly that we didn't make any arrangements for a honeymoon." Clark just smiled. "Okay buster, spill it. Where are we going?" But try as she might, she couldn't get Clark to tell her where they were going.
When they reached town, Clark spun into Superman and looked at Lois and said simply, "Fly with me." She allowed herself to be taken, she knew not where, by her husband and for the first time that word did not set her teeth on edge.
They arrived on the island in the Atlantic that they had both visited in their dreams and where Lois had practiced her super powers in real life. But there was a difference. There was a cabin on the island. It was lit only by the moon and stars overhead so Clark used his heat vision to light the fire in the fireplace and the candles he had placed throughout the cabin. It glowed with a soft romantic glow. "When did you do this?" she asked.
"Well, on those long nights when I was wishing I could be with you, I would fly out here and work on building it." Lois was impressed. It was fabulous. Their own private island, their own private cabin in their own tropical paradise. Clark had made sure it had all the comforts of home from indoor plumbing to electricity although with all the candles, electricity was not necessarily needed. Clark hadn't missed a trick. It was more romantic than anything Lois could have imagined..
Lois' choice of nighttime attire was as much of a hit as Clark's surprise had been. Unlike Lex's controlled appreciation, Clark was totally awed. He was sitting on the bed when she walked out of the bathroom. He looked up and was unable to tear his eyes away. She was beautiful. She smiled at the look and began to walk toward him. He tried to get up to meet her but was unable to make his legs work. He watched her every move feeling his heart begin to race. His desire made its way into his eyes. She saw the look and felt her body respond in kind. When she reached the edge of the bed he moved over to allow her to sit down beside him. His hand went out to her face and hesitantly touched her as if afraid to break the spell. He gently pulled her face toward him and then met her half way. He softly touched her lips with his own. She responded to his kisses and slowly, the kisses became longer. Soon, they became completely lost in each other. Forever in love. Forever free.
Lex Luthor looked at the wedding announcement in the Daily Planet and crunched the paper into a ball and flung it with all his might across the room. Lois Lane was meant for greatness. Had she chosen Superman, he could have accepted that. Superman was a worthy opponent. But he had lost her to a giblet like Clark Kent. His anger was incredible and yet he could see no way to change things. For the first time in his life, Lex Luthor had to admit that he had lost.
As I said, I created New Troy's laws around the questions of divorce and annulment. However, as a Canadian lawyer, I drew the majority of my laws from Canadian law. However, there are a number of differences. There is only a one year waiting period for a divorce in Canada and that period can't be sped up by having the parties agree. However, I thought three years was much more dramatic and giving Luthor a power to grant her the divorce helped tie it in with the first story. Also, the time between going to the lawyer and the time that the marriage was ended was much quicker than is realistic. However, I got feeling sorry for Lois and Clark and so rushed the court procedure through. There would also be an appeal period on the Decree of Nullity that would prevent Lois and Clark from getting married immediately following the granting of the Judgment. I also abbreviated the law around annulments because I didn't plan on using it in the story line.
I used American law, such as I understand it, in dealing with the Criminal aspects of this case (I have watched Law and Order too). I did this because in The Man of Steel Bars, which was seen in the first season, the show follows the American system. This can be seen in that they have arraignments and D.A.s instead of bail hearings and crowns. However, my knowledge in this area is somewhat more limited since I have never practiced law in the States. Thus, I'm sure that some Canadian criminal law and procedure crept into my story (i.e. orange jump suits and forcible confinement).
I tried to write about love and what I believe it is and isn't. Unfortunately, as a family law lawyer, I see much more of Lex Luthor's kind of love than I do of Clark Kent's. However, I'm still a believer that such love is possible.
I would also like to thank Shawn V. for allowing me to use her story for the starting point for mine. Please note that the song that is included in my story was written by her.
To Warner Brothers and D.C. Comics, I would like to say: Please don't sue me. I don't mean to violate copyright laws. Please forgive me. I'm just having a little fun. I promise you, I didn't profit from this story and so you wouldn't get anything in damages.