Submitted July 1999
Summary: Once again Lex Luthor tries to drive Lois and Clark apart. Meanwhile babies are missing and Lucy and Jack meet for the first time!
Editor's note: Shortly after submitting this story to the archive, the author announced that this would be her last L&C fanfic and that she was leaving FOLCdom. All her fans are sorry to see her go. :(
This is the second part of my series, which began with 'When Separate Worlds Collide, Book 1: Beginning to Heal.' That story can be found at the archive or you can email me privately and I'll send it to you as an attachment, or in multi-part email.
I've borrowed part of a line from the movie 'Fools Rush In' because it's a beautifully meaning line and one that I felt Lois would say *and* feel. If you've seen the movie, I'm sure you can pick it out.
I've borrowed the idea for the name of the coffee shop in Centennial Park from the TV show 'F*R*I*E*N*D*S' :)
I consulted the script for 'Don't Tug on Superman's Cape' in order to find out what the STAR in STAR Labs stands for, it was interesting to finally figure that out. :)
I consulted babycenter.com on a few things about Postpartum Depression.
I'd like to thank LabRat for her help again regarding Jack, she gave me a nice little excerpt from the script that helped me with this story.
Thanks go to Zoomway for filling me in on the correct spelling for 'Bessolo Blvd.'
Thanks to Annobelle Simmonds for her help about Bobby Bigmouth.
Thanks so much to Maggie for giving me the idea of how to get Lois out of the trouble she finds herself in. I'd have never resolved it without you Maggie-kins!
I'd also like to thank Dawn (sorry, I don't have your last name!) for her help regarding hypnosis and other psychological things!
Thanks again go to my Mom for introducing me to the show that has come to mean so much to me.
Thanks to my Dad for not laughing too much at my strange hobby.
I'd like to thank Irene Dutch for her tremendous help with labor and birth issues. I've never had a baby, so anything that rings true goes to the credit of Irene.
Thanks so much to Rachel T. for her help with so many grammatical errors that I'd missed. Also for finding more misspelled words than I'd have ever seen.
Thanks to Kathy Pernisek for her willingness to answer an email from a complete stranger asking for editing help. She took time out of her hectic schedule and edited my story for me. Also, she gave me a very interesting idea for one of the scenes involving Lois. She knows what I'm talking about, but I don't want to give too much of the plot of the story away. Needless to say, Kathy, you gave me a lot to think about, and started my brain churning. Thanks again! :)
I'd also like to thank Phil Mogul for jumping head first into editing for me and sticking it out even though he didn't always agree with how I write. Thank you, Phil, you've given me a new perspective on a lot of things and taught me a lot about what others are looking for in my stories.
To Andrea Gidusko, for making the song "No Place That Far," which is sung by Sara Evans and Vince Gill, into an LnC video; it's helped me get through *so* many bouts with writer's block in this story, and without that video, I don't think I could have made it through putting Lois and Clark through what I have. She inspired me to incorporate that song into the subtitle of this story and one of the ending scenes. Thank you, Andrea! And, by the way, if you haven't seen that video, then you really need to; it's one of the best I've ever seen! A side note about the song: I'm not sure if it had even been released during the time frame my story takes place in, so, you'll just have to suspend disbelief on that. :)
Thanks to Erin Klingler who gave me the URL where I could find the lyrics to 'No Place That Far' and made sure I knew what I was talking about! :)
I'd like to extend my deepest thanks to Karen Ward. Karen, you've been the best friend I've ever had, my mentor, my sister, and a 'tower of strength and understanding.' You've put up with my babbles, my typos, my craziness and went above and beyond the call of 'cyber friend' duty. I've never known anyone who understood me more than you do. And the mere words, 'Thank you' seem hardly enough for all the many things you've done for me and the things you've seen me through. Know that I'm forever in your debt and I'm just an email away. Thank you *so* much for convincing me to continue with this story and for all the many suggestions that you've made to make it what it is today. Without you, this story would be sitting in a trash can and my 'Worlds' of Lois and Clark would have gone no farther than Book 1. This story is for you.
And last, but certainly not least, thanks to the many people who wrote to tell me that they'd enjoyed Book 1. Yes, if you can believe it, the long awaited sequel is *finally* through and I'll be moving on to Book 3 soon. So thanks to: Labrat, James Tull (Mr. D8A), Melina (Snow Dolphin), Liz Alani, MSRFOLC007@aol.com, Alexis(MsLoisette@aol.com), Katie Bird, Brenda (email@example.com), Peggy Mueller, Kathryn Ann Kent, Wendy Richards, Carla Anderson (Kasspur), and Alex Barron. Also, anyone I've forgotten, I'm sorry, but know that your comments were just as instrumental in seeing me go on with this series.
Are you still with me? If so, then here's the story, I hope you enjoy it.
Asterisks (**) denotes passing of time or change of scene
>< denotes subliminal message
<> denotes news bulletin
# denotes voice or song on radio
Our Metropolis — October 6, 1998 7:50 p.m.
Lois Lane was sitting on the living room couch in the townhouse at 348 Hyperion Avenue. The T.V. was on, but she wasn't paying much attention to it. She was absently stroking her distended abdomen, imagining the life within it. The life that she and Clark had conceived by their love. Three days ago, her due date had come and gone and she'd had nightmares of carrying their half-human, half-Kryptonian baby for years on end.
However, about two hours ago, her fears were laid to rest when she started experiencing very mild contractions. When they'd first occured, she hadn't wanted to worry Clark in case it was just a false alarm. So, she hadn't told him. About thirty minutes after the contractions had commenced, she was nearly positive that the birth of their child was imminent. Unfortunately, by the time she had become concerned enough to tell Clark, he'd been called away on a super-emergency.
Her thoughts were abruptly halted by the need to rush back to the bathroom.
"This is definitely the biggest reason I won't miss being pregnant," she said aloud, as she struggled to hoist herself from the couch. 'I wonder,' she thought, 'if I'll ever move like a normal person again.'
As soon as she'd straightened herself up, she felt a rush of warm liquid flow down her legs.
"Oh my God!" she exclaimed. "My water just broke!" Not knowing what else to do, she acted on an instinct acquired from many years of putting herself into life-threatening situations and yelled for the man who'd come to her rescue so many times, "Help! Superman, help!"
Superman was struggling to free the last car from a thirteen car pile-up when he heard the all too familiar cry of his wife's call for help. Fear coursed through his body at the panicked tone he heard in her voice.
'Oh my God!' he thought. 'Lois!'
He took to the sky, a red and blue blur, leaving a sonic boom in his wake — a sound that had become familiar to most everyone in Metropolis. He soared through the clouds, flying faster and harder than he ever had in his life, all the while imagining deadly scenarios that would cause his wife to call for help. Almost instantly he was home.
He saw Lois standing in the middle of their living room, a look of bewilderment mixed with disbelief on her face. He rushed to her side.
"Lois? Honey?" He asked, sweeping his gaze over her body, trying to determine the cause of her need of him.
"Clark, it's time. My water just broke," she stated in a surprisingly calm voice.
"I … um … well … we …" Clark was gesturing wildly, trying to figure out what to do next.
"Clark, Honey, I think we need to get to the Hospital. I don't know how much longer this baby's gonna wait," Lois said, her voice remaining remarkably calm. Had she not been so preoccupied with getting to the hospital, she would have found the sight of Superman amusing, as he spun around in a circle, his cape billowing out behind him, trying to figure out how to help his wife.
"Yeah, you're right, yeah, you're absolutely right," he said, scooping her up into his arms. "We'll fly, slowly. This way we'll bypass the traffic." He carried her out to the patio and took off, flying to Metropolis Woodland Heights Hospital, where they were pre-registered.
Clark purposely flew low, not wanting to put Lois or the baby in jeopardy.
"Clark, I'm scared. I know, I can't believe that I said that. 'Mad Dog' Lane scared of childbirth. I mean women do this everyday. I'm as brave as any other woman, so why am I freaking out?"
"Lois, there's nothing wrong with being scared — I'm scared too."
"Really? You never told me that! You know, we're plunging into uncharted territory. All those movies about aliens and humans reproducing. The outcome of most of those things hasn't been good, no … no, hasn't been good at all. I know, I have an overactive imagination and this is something I should have thought about a *long* time ago. I mean, you look like a normal human, there's no reason why our baby shouldn't, but—"
"Lois, Honey, you're babbling."
"I know, I can't help it. I just want everything to be okay," she replied, her voice wavering at the thought that something might go wrong during labor.
"Sweetheart, everything's going to be fine."
When the silhouette of the hospital appeared against the sky, Clark began his descent. When he'd touched down, he rushed his wife into the emergency room.
He approached the nurses' station, ready to tell the nurse that his wife, Lois Lane, had just gone into labor. Fortunately, the nurse stopped him from making a big mistake.
"Hello, Superman. Who have we got here?"
Lois spoke up, realizing what had almost happened. "I'm Lois Lane — I pre-registered two weeks ago. I'm having contractions pretty close together, actually, they feel like they're right on top of each other. Superman was just doing me a personal favor by bringing me to the hospital. He's going to go pick up my husband now, aren't you, Superman?"
"Yes, I am, Ms. Lane. Congratulations on the baby. I'll have your husband here in a few minutes."
He deposited Lois in the nearest wheelchair and again took to the sky. By the time he'd changed into Clark clothes and returned, they'd already taken Lois into the delivery room.
Clark, anxious to get to his wife's side, found the nurse he'd seen earlier as Superman. As much as he enjoyed talking to his parents, and, on occasion, Lois's too, he was in too much of a hurry to take the time to call them. He approached the nurse, fiddgeting with his glasses as he recalled his near slip earlier.
"I'm Clark Kent, Lois Lane's husband. Could you call our parents and let them know that Lois has gone into labor?" he asked, patting around in his pockets, searching for a pen and paper.
"I'll be glad to do that, Mr. Kent," she said, handing him a slip of paper and a pencil. He hurriedly jotted the numbers down and handed the items back to her. "Now, you need to go through those doors over there, get scrubbed and join your wife," the kindly nurse offered.
Another few minutes found Clark in blue hospital scrubs, entering the delivery room.
Lois saw him come into the room and reached out her hand, needing his strength. "Clark, I was beginning to wonder if you were going to make it."
"I wouldn't miss this for the world," he said and she instinctively knew he meant it. At the beginning of the pregnancy, they'd had a heartfelt talk. He'd assured her that the whole world could come tumbling down around them, but Superman was going to be with his wife when their child was born.
"I must say, Mr. Kent, I didn't think you were going to make it either," Lois's physician chimed in. "This baby is in an awful hurry! In fact, I don't think I've ever witnessed this rapid a delivery. And, might I say, you arrived just in time. This baby isn't going to wait any longer." He then turned his attention back to Lois. "Lois, I'm gonna need you to start pushing."
Clark leaned down and whispered in her ear, "You can do this, Lois. You're the strongest person I've ever known."
"Push, Lois," the doctor urged.
Lois bore down and grunted as the intensity of the pain increased. The sensation was strangely satisfying and though she wanted to scream, she couldn't seem to find the air.
"That's enough right now, Lois. Wait just a minute," the doctor added.
"Oh God, Clark," she gasped. "This is hard!"
"I know, Baby, I know," he whispered next to her ear. He was having trouble keeping the emotion he was feeling out of his voice.
Things continued in a similar manner for what seemed like an eternity to Lois and Clark. Every cry of pain from Lois caused a wrenching sensation in Clark's chest, as if his heart was being torn to shreds. Seeing Lois in so much pain made him wish he could exchange places with her.
"Okay, Lois. Just one more big push should do it," the doctor finally said.
"Come on, Honey. You're doing a great job. I'm so proud of you," Clark added.
Finally, mingled with Lois's cries of pain, came the cries of the newest addition to the Kent family.
"Lois and Clark, you have a beautiful baby girl." The doctor handed the squalling infant to Lois.
Over the tiny head of their daughter, Clark's eyes met those of his wife.
"I love you, Lois."
"I love you, Clark."
Metropolis Woodland Heights Hospital — Room 219 — 10:35 p.m.
Two sets of grandparents and a proud father mingled around Lois's bed, anxious to get a glimpse of the precious child she held in her arms.
"Well, kids, what did you name her?" Martha, never one to sit back and wait, asked the question uppermost in everyone's mind.
"It took us forever to decide on a name we both liked. For two people that are usually so in sync, we sure have different taste in names, " Lois said, still amazed that she'd gotten Clark to decide on the one she liked the best. She was proud that her daughter would bear a name that honored her paternal grandfather. She had also felt very pleased that they had found a way to include 'Lane' in the name.
"We wanted something to reflect *all* of our families," Clark added.
Only Martha and Jonathan caught the meaning of that cryptic remark. The name would reflect the Kents, the Lanes, and Jor-El and Lara — the couple who'd so selflessly made all of this possible when they'd sent their infant son out into the cold universe to save his life.
"Everyone, say hello to Jordan Delaney Kent," Lois proudly presented her daughter.
"Princess, that's a beautiful name," Sam said.
"I think it sounds too much like a boy. No one is ever going to know that she's a girl. Just what we need, another tomboy in the family. Trust Lois though, she's always had to be different," Ellen added her opinion, much to everyone's chagrin.
"I think it's perfect and so is she," Jonathan chimed in.
"Me too," Martha added, tears clouding her vision. At one point in her life, Martha had thought she'd never have a child. Now, here she stood with her son, daughter-in-law and her beautiful granddaughter. Clark didn't share her blood, but she couldn't have loved him more if he had been a child of her own body.
Although it was difficult, the grandparents were soon persuaded to leave and Lois and Clark were finally able to get acquainted with their child.
At the moment, Jordan was held in her father's strong hands. The same hands which had launched space stations into orbit now supported her with great gentleness.
Clark Kent looked into his daughter's lovely eyes and was mesmerized. He felt sure his heart would burst with joy.
He'd often wondered if he'd ever find someone to love, someone who'd love him despite the fact that he'd originated half a universe away. When he'd found that someone, he'd wondered yet again — wondered if they'd ever be able to conceive the child they so desperately wanted.
Their hopes had nearly been shattered when Dr. Klein had assured them that it would never be possible for Clark to father a child with Lois.
But they'd proved him wrong. He and his Lois had overcome insurmountable odds yet again and now they had a daughter. Her birth was no less than a miracle in Clark's opinion. He didn't know what he'd done to be so lucky, but he gave thanks for it every day.
Clark glanced over at Lois, the woman of his dreams, the woman who'd made all of his dreams come true. In all the frenzy of their new baby's arrival, Clark hadn't yet had the chance to acknowledge the significance of this date two years before.
"What are ya thinkin'?" Lois asked.
"That I've only ever been this happy one other day in my life," he said, staring deeply into her coffee colored eyes. What he saw mirrored there still amazed him after all the time they'd shared together. The love she gave him still took his breath away.
"What day?" she asked, but felt she already knew the answer.
"This exact day two years ago."
"Happy anniversary, Clark," her voice faltered at the end of the sentence as the emotion of the day caught up with her. Tears sparkled in her luminous eyes, threatening to spill over.
Clark walked over to the bed and laid Jordan in her mother's arms. The baby squirmed until she found a comfortable spot and, before long, her eyes were fluttering as she drifted off to sleep.
He smoothed the hair back from Lois's face and cupped his hand around her cheek, a gesture that had come to mean more between them than mere words could explain.
"Happy anniversary, my Little Tornado."
They both started laughing at the reference from so long ago.
"Would you look at me?" she sighed, rolling her eyes slightly. "Who'd have ever thought Lois Lane would get so much joy out of being domesticated?"
The tender moment was interrupted by a soft knock on the door.
Dr. Bernard Klein stuck his head in the door. "I realize it's past visiting hours, but could I please come in?"
"Sure, Dr. Klein, you're practically family," Clark said.
Dr. Klein came into the room and shut the door soundlessly behind him, mindful of the sleeping baby in Lois's arms.
"I wanted to talk to you both about the results of the ovarian tests I performed on Lois," Dr. Klein began.
"What did you find out, Doc?" Lois asked, her inquisitive mind wanting answers to how they'd had a baby against all odds.
"Well," Klein continued in a hushed tone, so that no passer-by could hear their top-secret conversation. "After analyzing Clark's semen and combining it with the information you gave me about Lois's 'Ultra Woman' experience, I've concluded that while the super powers inhabited her body, they modified her reproductive system, so that, in essence, Lois now posseses a Terran-Kryptonian hybrid reproductive system. The reasons I kept giving you concerning your inability to conceive are no longer valid. Before the Ultra Woman phenomenon was factored in, I was going on the assumption that Lois was all human, which is, in fact, no longer true. You should be able to have as many children as you desire."
"What about our children, Dr. Klein?" Clark asked, worried that because of him, his children might have to face the agony of not having a family.
"With the inclusion of the new data, I am reasonably certain that your children will also be born with the hybrid reproductive system, thus making them capable of conceiving children with humans. Now, I really must be going before they run me out of the hospital. Congratulations on the birth of your new baby."
"Thank you, Dr. Klein," Lois said.
After the doctor had gone, Lois motioned toward the door. "I still can't get over the look on his face when we told him that you're Superman and that I was carrying your child."
"Yeah, he stuttered and said, 'That's impossible! Superman can't impregnate an Earth woman.' Then he looked at you and said, 'Are you from Krypton too?'"
Their mutual laughter roused Jordan from her nap and she let out a loud cry.
"I think Baby's tired," Lois said, looking down at her daughter. 'Her daughter'— she still couldn't quite get her mind around the thought that she was a mother.
"Well, she's had a rough day."
Lois sighed, "Haven't we all?"
A nurse came into the room, interrupting further conversation. "It's time for me to take her to the nursery," she said, carefully taking Jordan from Lois.
"Bye, Baby," Lois said, missing her already.
"Bye, Sweetheart," Clark said, as the nurse took the baby out the door.
Lois yawned, the events of the day finally catching up to her.
Clark noticed the dark circles under her eyes and went to his wife's side.
"I'm going to head home, Lois. It's been a long night and you need to get some rest. You'll be all right, won't you?"
"Sure, I'll be fine."
He kissed her softly, "Good night, Mommy."
She grinned against his lips, "Good night, Daddy."
Two Days Later
"Have we got everything, Clark?" Lois glanced around the hospital room from the wheelchair she'd been placed in.
"Yeah, I think we do. I can't believe how much stuff everyone sent."
"Me either. I never realized so many people liked us," she said sarcastically.
He rolled his eyes playfully. "I'll just take these things down to the car, then I'll get the rest when I come back up for you."
Lois started to get out of the chair. "They haven't brought the baby in yet. I can help you."
He put his hands on either arm of the wheelchair and leaned in to kiss her. "You're not going anywhere, Mrs. Kent. You're gonna sit right here and behave yourself."
"That's Ms. Lane and I'm not?"
"I think you're taking this 'Daddy' thing a bit seriously, Mr. Kent. Have you forgotten that you're married to Lois Lane?"
"No, ma'am. And trust me, I can't wait for you to be able to fully remind me."
Their lips met in a passionate kiss, filled with longing. The familiar spark ignited between them and soon the kiss became heated.
That's how the nurse found them when she brought in the baby.
"Mr. and Mrs. Kent?" She saw the intimate scene and said, "Oh, excuse me, I'm sorry."
"Oh, no, come on in, Ms. Chapel," Lois said, her voice slightly husky.
"I just wanted to bring Jordan in," the nurse said, placing the baby in Lois's arms. "I'll also be walking you down"
The ride down in the elevator was less than eventful and soon Lois found herself in the Jeep, alone with her baby for the first time since she'd been born. She laid Jordan in her lap and pushed back the blanket.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine … ten toes!" Lois said aloud and kissed her baby's tiny foot. Jordan's fingers got the same treatment — Lois kissing each one as she counted. "Well, sweetie," Lois began, "I'm not real sure how to be a mom, but I promise you that I'll do my best. I may not know how to cook and I'm not that crazy about cleaning, but I've learned how to love. Things have sure changed a lot for me these past years with your dad. He's taught me so much about how to love and I'm going to teach you the same things." Jordan was looking up at her mother in wide-eyed wonder, her tiny fists flailing in the air. "You're such a little miracle, Jordan. It scares me sometimes to think about all the times I came so close to losing your dad and then we'd have never had you. I didn't know if I was quite ready to be a mom, but now I know I am. I'm so lucky, Jordan. I'm so lucky to be your mom." The tears started falling freely down Lois's face as she took in the features of her child. Even at this early age, she could see a mixture of herself and Clark in the tiny face. It was a thrilling thought to think that their love was joined together in this beautiful child.
Clark opened Lois's door and gently took Jordan out of her arms. He opened the back door of the Jeep and put Jordan in the car seat they'd bought weeks ago. He secured the various straps and checked once more to make sure she'd be safe. He then went around and got in the driver's side. He glanced over at his wife and noticed the fresh tears on her face.
"Honey, what's wrong?" He reached over, picked up her hand and brought it to his lips, kissing the palm gently.
"Oh, nothing," she sighed. "It's silly."
"You can tell me, Lois. You know that nothing you've ever done has been silly to me."
"I know," she laughed nervously, "I was just thinking about how lucky I am. I've got everything I never knew I always wanted. Am I dreaming, Clark?"
"No, Honey, you're not dreaming." Clark smiled tenderly at his wife before starting the car and steering the Jeep in the direction of their townhouse.
"You know," Lois said, "it's still hard for me to believe we're taking her home."
"It's hard for me to believe, too."
Jordan started sucking loudly on her fist, searching for an object of sustenance. When she was unable to find one, she voiced her displeasure rather loudly.
"I guess Baby is hungry. Talk about your Super lungs." Lois turned around to look at Jordan. "We'll be home in just a second, Sweetie, and then you can eat," Lois crooned.
They pulled up in front of the townhouse within minutes. Lois started to get out of the car on her own, but before she could open the door, Clark had zipped around to her side and opened it himself.
"Clark, what are you doing?"
"Just a second," he said, and opened the back door, taking Jordan out of her car seat. After closing the door behind him, he placed her gently in her mother's waiting arms. He scooped Lois up in his arms, being especially careful now that he had the two most important things in his life held in his embrace.
"I'm carrying my family over the threshold."
Their lips met and the fire that had been smoldering under the surface since the hospital ignited again.
Jordan started rooting around the front of her mother's blouse, again searching for a respite from her hunger. When she came up with nothing, she again voiced her disgruntlement bringing her parents back to Earth.
"I guess this is how things will be from now on," Clark said, pushing the door open. He carried Lois into the living room and placed her on the couch. He needed to distance himself from her temptation, so he said, "I'm gonna go unload the Jeep while you feed Jordan."
Breast-feeding was still a new experience for Lois, but one she'd already grown to enjoy. It gave her a chance to further the bonding process with her daughter. It also gave her a sense of accomplishment; the feeling of nurturing her child was like none she'd ever experienced before.
While Lois was feeding Jordan, Clark took two trips to unload the Jeep and, after he'd put the gifts away, he happily joined his family on the couch.
"I love to watch you two together," Clark said. "You're so good with her."
"You sound surprised about that."
"Not surprised, really. I just remember a few conversations we've had — namely back on Spencer Spencer's island. You had quite a bit of trepidation about the whole 'having a family' thing. Although, *I* knew you'd do just fine."
"You have such faith in me, Clark. That's probably why I've done as well as I have. Your faith makes me strong."
They leaned toward each other, ever closer, but before their lips could meet, someone knocked on their door.
"It's probably Jimmy," Clark groaned, gritting his teeth.
Lois laughed at his frustration, "He does have a way of interrupting us at the most inopportune times, so I wouldn't be surprised."
"Hang on just a second!" Clark yelled, as the person knocked on the door again. He turned back to Lois, gesturing to her blouse. "You need to… cover up before I get the door."
"Oh, yeah, I almost forgot." Lois buttoned her blouse and carefully raised Jordan to her shoulder, stroking her back gently. She then placed Jordan, now drowsy from the exertion of suckling, in the bassinet by the couch.
Lois followed Clark to the door, anxious to find out who the caller was. When they opened the door, there stood H.G. Wells.
"Mr. Wells?!" They exclaimed in unison.
"Yes… quite," he said, tipping his hat.
"What's wrong? What's Tempus done now? Which time period are we going to? Clark, we'll have to let your parents watch Jordan." Lois said all of this in one breath, preparing to chase Tempus through countless times periods once again.
After her tirade, H.G. Wells spoke again, "No, no, no, Ms. Lane. I'm not here about Tempus. May I come in?"
"Sure, Mr. Wells. Pardon our paranoia, but considering our track record when we see you, surely you understand," Clark said, grinning at Lois's incessant babbling.
"Yes, my boy, I understand," H.G. said, coming into the house. He looked around at the structure that, in Utopia, would become the 'Lane-Kent Memorial Museum.' "Did I hear you right when you said, 'Jordan?' Have you had your first child?"
"Yes, Mr. Wells, we had her three days ago," Lois said, indicating the bassinet.
"Ah, yes, I didn't realize it was that time of year yet." H.G. bent over the crib and looked down on Jordan.
"Hello, my dear. It's nice to see you as a baby. You turn out to be a remarkable woman."
"Please, Mr. Wells, have a seat," Clark said, motioning to the couch.
H.G. settled himself on the couch, trying to figure out where to start. "I've come to see you both to bring news of the alternate universe."
Lois and Clark sat down opposite from Wells, both looking very interested in what the writer had to tell them.
"Thank you for thinking of us, Mr. Wells. Clark and I have always wondered what happened to the other Clark. When you left here the last time, you seemed to imply that you were going to help him find his Lois. Did you?" she asked hopefully, wanting the wonderful man she'd met in the other reality to experience love like she and Clark had.
"Yes, Ms. Lane—"
"Please, call me Lois. You're a dear friend."
"Ah, yes, Ms. Lane… Lois, I just left the alternate universe and all was well. I helped Clark find his Lois in a mission in the Congo."
"That's ironic," Lois said. "That's the story we used when I was there."
"Yes, I thought that was ironic myself."
"So how come no one had been able to find her, Mr. Wells?" Clark spoke up.
"Well, that's just one more thing our nemesis Tempus is responsible for. He infected Lois with a debilitating disease back in 1993. When we found her, she was in a coma and all of her vital organs were systematically shutting down."
"Oh my God, Mr. Wells," Lois gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. When she'd regained her composure, Lois asked the obvious question. "Clark didn't find her just to lose her, did he?"
"No, no. I went ahead and saw that Clark found a cure for Lois."
"Really, what was it?" Clark asked, curious about the other version of himself.
"He contacted a doctor and was going to give Lois his super powers."
"Was going to?" Lois asked, her reporter's ear picking up facts quickly.
"Yes, Clark was willing to give up all of his powers to save her. But the doctor, a Karen Waren, discovered a procedure that could duplicate Clark's powers in Lois's body."
"So now they *both* have super powers?!" Clark asked, incredulously.
"Yes, and Lois has joined in helping the people of the alternate world as Ultra Woman."
"What a coincidence," Lois said, proud of her counterpart for taking up the amazing responsibility she'd only had a small glimpse of.
"When last I saw them, they'd just decided to get married." H.G. Wells delivered this last bit of information happily. He was thrilled to know that the once desolate alternate universe, created by Tempus, would be on its own way to becoming the peaceful Utopia this dimension would eventually become.
Lois reached over and grabbed Clark's hand. "I'm so happy for them," she said to no one in particular.
"So am I," Clark added.
H.G. Wells stood. "Well, it's time for me to go back where I belong."
Lois and Clark stood also, following Mr. Wells to the door.
"Which time period are you going to now?" Lois asked.
"I think I'll go back to my own for a while. I'll be seeing you in time." And he tipped his hat and walked back out of their lives once again.
Lois shut the door and leaned back against it. "Hmm …"
"Hmm?" Clark asked as he trapped his wife against the door and began nibbling on her ear.
"It's almost like us falling in love all over again — hearing about the other Lois and Clark getting together."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I couldn't live without you and I'm glad that Clark doesn't have to live without his Lois either. You're not getting any ideas about that 'both with super powers' thing, are you?"
"God, no! I've done that and it wasn't an experience I'd like to have again. I can see how it would work for them, though. With everybody knowing that Clark is Superman, the only way for them to have even a semblance of a life together would be for her to also have super powers."
Clark's head shot up as his superhearing kicked in.
"What is it? What do you hear?"
"Someone calling for help."
Lois ripped open his shirt and kissed him hard. "Go!"
In an abandoned fall-out shelter in the bowels of Metropolis, Lex Luthor sat hunched over a computer. He was concentrating on the numerical values that adorned the monitor in front of him, trying to find some of the money he'd hidden many years ago.
Strewn all over his desk were Addendums, Subsections, Conclusions and print-outs of an endless array of notes from LexLabs' Experimental Mind Control Research Project. Lex knew his revenge was hidden somewhere in those notes and had spent most of the day trying to decipher the key that would bring him back his kingdom.
"Hello?" a strangled voice said from out of the darkness. It was a voice full of pain, reeking anguish, and the sound sent chills up Lex's spine.
Lex's head shot up from the computer screen and he looked frantically around him. "Hello?" he said, puzzlement etched on his face. "Who's there? Where are you?"
"I'm in here."
"In where?" Lex asked frantically, beginning to think he'd lost his mind completely and was now hearing voices.
"I'm in the computer."
Lex pushed himself back from the desk, the chair he was sitting in falling to the floor with a loud bang. "If this is somebody's idea of a joke, I am *not* amused. I suggest you show yourself now, or when you do, you won't live to see tomorrow."
"I really *am* in the computer. It's me, your son, Jaxon Xavier Luthor."
Lex took a deep breath, composing himself. "I was under the impression that you died when your Virtual Center's computer crashed," he said, his voice surprisingly calm, masking the fact that for once in Lex Luthor's life he'd been almost frightened. Lex righted the chair and put it back in its original place in front of the computer. He sat down, slowly, not really sure if he was yet ready to get close to the machine.
"I didn't die. My brain was separated from my body. I'm now part of the micro circuits within the computer system. It's not as bad as it sounds — I can pretty much go anywhere and do anything. Most days, I stay inside Lois Lane's computer."
At the mention of Lois's name, Lex perked up, starting to reform the plan that had been swimming around in his sadistical mind. "Lois Lane?"
"Yes, Sir …"
"Please, call me Dad," Lex replied. "After all, I *am* your father."
Jaxon hesitated a moment. He'd craved the love of his father so long, he was blind to the fact that Lex was just going to use him in another plot to possess Lois Lane.
"Well … Dad," Jaxon began, "I'd like to know you. How did you escape the tunnel collapse that was supposed to have killed you?"
"That's a long story, son — one best left for another time. I'm wondering, Jaxon, do you think you could devise some sort of subliminal mind control system that would work when a person used the computer?"
"I'm not sure, Le … um, Dad. That'd take a lot of research. I know that I was working on something similar to that with the Virtual Center, but I've been unable to get back into those files."
"I've acquired a lot of old research notes from Lex Labs' secret files. I had scientists working non stop on devising a plan for mind control through the computer system. Do you think you could use this data and come up with something?"
"I could try."
After the long, grueling hours the rescue had demanded of his time, Clark finally made it home. It was late, Lois had already gone to bed and he stood over his daughter's baby bed, just staring at the miracle that was her.
When he'd come home, he'd unexplainably been drawn to Jordan's room.
Earlier Lois had asked if she was dreaming and he'd assuredly told her, 'no.' But if the truth were fully told, he sometimes felt as if he were dreaming too.
It was difficult for him to believe that the beautiful baby lying there so peacefully was his — his and Lois's.
He recalled the first few weeks and months he'd known Lois — when he'd wanted her so badly and thought for sure she'd never want him in return.
Sometimes it was still so hard for him to believe that he'd been married to her for two years. He felt that surely, one day, he'd wake up and find that he was nothing more to Lois than the 'Farmboy' from Kansas that she didn't have the time to fall for.
But, he thought wistfully to himself, if this were a dream, he never wanted to wake up because his life couldn't be more perfect.
He was so lost in thought, he didn't hear his wife's quiet footsteps as she walked up behind him. He only realized her presence when she wrapped her arms around his waist. Every fiber of his being came alive at her touch. He wanted to take her in his arms and make love to her — it'd been so long — but it was too soon after the birth and he controlled his instincts with every ounce of strength in his body.
"Clark," she whispered, her voice still heavy with sleep, "when'd you get home?"
"A few minutes ago. I just didn't feel much like sleeping."
"What are ya doin' in here?"
"Just thinking. I just keep watching her and thinking that maybe I've imagined all this."
"Clark, you're starting to sound like me." She checked the baby monitor, making sure it was on, before taking his hand. "Come on, let's get some sleep."
Clark looked one last time at his sleeping child and followed his wife out of the room.
Lex was roused from a sound sleep by his son's voice screeching from the speakers of his computer.
"Yeah? What?" Lex replied, throwing back the sheet that covered him. The place where Lex was staying was nowhere near his usual standards, but he was getting by. He planned to rise to power again; he was just biding his time. And if all things worked well with Jaxon, when he did rise to power, Lois would finally be by his side, where she belonged.
"I've gone through most of the notes you gave me and devised the first part of a control system that would allow me to bombard a computer user with a series of messages invisible to the naked eye. These messages could say anything we wanted and could basically have that person eating from the palm of our hands. There was some pretty interesting data included in one of the reports that was done right before you um … jumped … It um … had a detailed formula for making the suggestions implant themselves in the person's mind. After implantation, the messages would take root in the person's brain and could be triggered to grow or spread by the use of a key word. When the person heard that key word, maybe a name, for example, the subliminal messages would spread, much like a computer virus, until the person that was infected wouldn't be able to think anything that didn't have to do with what had been implanted."
"Very well done, my son."
"Thanks, Dad. Who are we going to use this system on?"
"All in good time, Jaxon. How long do you think it will take to perfect it?"
"Four weeks, maybe. Six weeks, at the most."
Six Weeks Later
"Lois, are you really sure you want to go back to work so soon?" Clark asked, taking the remaining supper dishes to the kitchen.
Lois, having just put Jordan down for the night, followed closely behind, holding on to the back of his shirt, raising it up just enough to get a bird's-eye-view of his tight posterior.
"It's not like I'm going into the office or anything. I'm just going to be writing from home. You'll be doing all of the leg work and I can still feel like Lois Lane, reporter, and not just Lois Kent, wife and mother."
He placed the dishes in the sink and turned, wrapping his arms around her and burying his face in her hair. "I like Lois Kent, wife and mother."
"Clark!" Lois swatted playfully at Clark's chest.
Clark chuckled. "Seriously, Honey, if you'd like to start working from home, then there's nothing I want more. Besides, I'll be happy to have my partner back. She's brilliant, you know."
"I know." Lois gigled, but then her expression turned hopeful as she gazed into her husband's dark eyes.
"What?" Clark noticed the odd way she was regarding him.
"Mmm … you're wonderful, you know that, Mr. Kent?"
"Sure, but I don't mind you telling me," Clark teased.
Lois's smile widened before it took on a seductive edge. "Let's go to bed, Clark."
"Are you sure?" he asked, concern for her evident in his deep brown eyes.
Clark entered the Planet newsroom bright and early the next morning, despite the fact he and Lois had been up most of the night. He was shocked to see everyone working quietly at their desks. In the five or so years he'd worked at the Planet, he couldn't remember ever seeing everything so calm.
He made his way to Perry's office and stuck his head in the door. The Editor was talking to someone on the phone. Clark shut the door quietly behind him and leaned back against the frame, waiting for Perry to finish his call.
Before long, Perry put the phone back in its cradle. "That was your wife, Kent, letting me know she's back at work from home."
"Yeah, she's really excited about getting back to work. I'm surprised we kept her away from the newsroom this long. So, what's on the agenda today, Chief?"
"Well, Son, if you can believe it, not a bloomin' thing. I can't remember the news ever being this slow."
Jimmy stuck his head in the door. He had a hard time pushing Clark off it. "C.K., Lois is on the phone for you."
"Thanks, Jim." He turned back to Perry. "Let me know if anything happens, Chief."
"Sure thing, Son."
Clark reached his desk and picked up the phone. "Hello, Beautiful," he whispered in his most seductive voice.
"Hello, yourself. Anything interesting happening down there? Perry said it was pretty slow."
"If you can believe it, it really is. It's as quiet as a church."
"It's probably because I'm not down there sniffing out corruption."
Clark laughed. "That's probably it. How's my girl?"
"Sleeping peacefully for a change. That girl sleeps less than her Daddy."
"Well, if her mother wasn't so … insatiable, her Daddy would have gotten a lot of sleep last night."
"Yeah, but wasn't it worth it?"
"It was *more* than worth it."
"You can expect more of the same tonight. Now, Mr. Kent, get back to work and find us a story."
"I'll do my best."
Just as Clark hung up the phone, his superhearing kicked in.
'I guess she's gonna get her wish.'
The air in Lex Luthor's hideaway was thick with tension.
"When *will* the system be ready?" Lex ground the words out through gritted teeth. He hated people who couldn't do a simple task and have it finished on time. It was just one of the many things that irritated him about 'normal' people. To think that his son fell into this category, cut him to the core. The fruit of his loins, nothing but a lazy, worthless, fool, it was unthinkable.
"Soon. Very soon," Jaxon said, scared that his dad would once again cut all ties to him.
"Soon isn't good enough! You told me that the system would be ready *two* weeks ago. My patience is wearing thin, Jaxon." In anger and frustration, Lex flung the book he'd previously been reading against the wall. "I want this system up and operational in the morning."
"Yes, Sir," Jaxon replied, fearful of calling Lex anything less formal.
Back at the townhouse, Lois was booting up her computer for the first time in weeks. She opened her mail program and checked her email.
"Fifty-seven messages and they're probably all spam."
She started skimming through her messages. She had a few departmental memos, lots of chain letters, software sales and one that said: URGENT PLEASE READ. She almost deleted that one but something inside stopped her.
When she'd opened the email and read a few lines, she was glad she hadn't deleted it.
The email read:
Ms. Lane -
You must help me. Three weeks ago, my six month old daughter, Kali, was abducted from Henson Groceries. I haven't been able to get anyone to help me. I've been in contact with two other women whose babies have also been stolen from the same store. Their names are: Elizabeth Driscoll — baby girl Gabrielle, seven months and Savannah Lansky — baby boy Sheldon, three months. I've included pictures of Kali, Gabrielle and Sheldon for you to use. Please, I'm begging you, help me.
Sincerely, Kaylah Holden
"Oh, God," Lois sighed. Being a new mother, Lois couldn't imagine having Jordan taken and not knowing where she was. She vowed she'd do all in her power to help these mothers get their babies back as soon as possible.
She picked up the phone and called Jimmy.
"Jimmy, it's Lois. I need you to pull up everything you can on a Henson Groceries and get back to me as soon as possible."
"Sure thing, Lois."
After Lois replaced the phone in its cradle, she got up and walked over to Jordan's bassinet. Jordan was asleep and looked just like an angel. Lois picked her up, gingerly, so as not to wake her and carried her back to the couch. She sat down and just looked at her baby, love swelling in her heart. The tears started falling before she knew it. She hoped she had enough resources to find these babies.
Clark finished up his latest super-rescue just in time for lunch. Missing his girls, he took a swift trip to Italy and picked up some food. When he arrived in Metropolis, he took a side trip by Lois's old neighborhood, bought her flowers, and started home.
Instead of making his usual entrance through the window, he sat the food down on the patio table, swiftly looked around to make sure no one was watching and spun into 'Clark.'
Inside the kitchen he quietly set the table, pulled down the shades, dimmed the lights and lit two candles. He placed the dozen roses in front of Lois's chair. He then flew back around the house and came in the front door.
"Hi, Honey!" he said cheerfully, but as soon as he saw Lois's tearstreaked face, his demeanor changed. He sat down on the couch beside her. "Honey, what's wrong?"
She brushed an errant tear away and sniffed loudly before saying, "It's a story that was just about thrown in my lap."
Clark picked up the sleeping Jordan and laid her back in the bassinet, then took Lois's hand, leading her into the kitchen.
When she saw what he'd done she said, "Oh, Clark. What's this for?"
"Because I love you."
She picked up the roses. "They're beautiful. Where'd you get them?"
Lois grinned at the memory of how the 'flowers from Tony's' tradition had begun, all those years ago after being marooned on Spencer Spencer's island.
The both sat down to the array of Italian food — spaghetti, linguine, lasagna, and fetuccini. There was also salad, breadsticks, and Italian bread.
"Clark, you really outdid yourself."
"I was hungry," he said offhandedly. "Tell me some about this story."
She explained to him what she'd learned about the missing babies. "I've got Jimmy checking out Henson's. It seems odd to me that babies continue to be stolen from there and nothing seems to be done about it."
"That's awful, I hope we can find who's doing it."
"So do I. What are you doing away from the Planet?"
"Superman had to help a farmer who'd gotten stuck under his tractor. When I was through, it was close to lunch, so I decided to come home for a while."
She reached over and took his hand. "I'm glad you did."
When they finished the meal, Lois started to get up and clean the dishes.
"Those can wait till later," Clark said and zipped out the kitchen door. He was back in a couple of minutes.
"What'd you just do?"
"Checked to make sure Jordan was still sleeping." He scooped her up in his arms.
"Clark! What're you doin'?"
"Well, I thought we'd go upstairs for a while. You *know* what pasta does to me."
"Is there time before you have to be back at work?"
"I *am* Superman."
He zipped the giggling Lois up to their bedroom where he proved just that.
In the fall-out shelter across town, things were boding very well for the Luthors and their maniacal plan.
"The system is finished, Dad. Now all I need is a test run."
"I want you to use it on Lois Lane the next time she uses her computer. I want the messages to center around me and her. The words should stimulate images of our past relationship. The key word should be my name — Lex. Do you remember all I told you about Lois and me?"
"Yes. I'm going to go monitor her computer now, the one at home, so I'll be prepared when she uses it."
"Yes, do it."
Lex sat back in his chair and reveled in the feelings of power and contentment. He was going to have Lois again and he was going to destroy Superman in the bargain. He didn't need Kryptonite to destroy the Man of Steel; he could bring him to his knees by taking away the most important things in his life — his wife and daughter.
Clark entered the Planet newsroom for the second time that day, a huge grin on his face. He saw Jimmy and walked over to see what he'd found out about Henson's Groceries.
"Hey C.K.!" Jimmy said when he saw Clark.
"Hey, Jimmy. What've you found out about Henson's?"
"Not much really. Lois'll probably kill me."
Clark smiled, "I doubt she'll kill you, Jim. There's really nothing on Henson's?"
"A few things about the owners, but they've been clean for years."
"I'm gonna catch the Chief up to speed on what we're working on."
Jimmy sighed, "And I'm gonna call Lois."
Jimmy went to his desk, sat down and arranged his notes before picking up the phone and dialing the Kents' home number.
Lois picked up the phone after the first ring. "Lane here," she said automatically, already easing back into 'repoorter mode.' She figured it' be good to answer the phone that way for a while since she'd have many sources and business acquaintances contacting her at the home number. It wasn't like they got all that many personal calls at home and the ones they did get were usually from their parents.
"Lois, it's Jimmy."
"So, what've you got for me?" she said, ready to sink her teeth into what could be a very juicy story.
Jimmy paused. When he couldn't find a lot of information for Lois, it always worried him. It wasn't like she was scary, but he'd always had a desire to please her. "Henson's Groceries is co-owned by Fredric Henson and his fiancee, Velma Kaminsky. Fredric's been in trouble once, when he was a juvenile, for stealing a neighbor's car. Velma, on the other hand, was brought up on prostitution charges two years ago. There was a pretty big stack of evidence against her, but somehow she got off."
"That's it? No connection to anything about babies, or adoption rings, or anything like that?"
"Nope. That's all I've been able to find," he said, holding his breath, waiting for the beratement to start.
"Thanks anyway, Jimmy. I'm gonna see what I can find on the Internet." She also made a notation on a stray piece of paper to get in touch with Bobby Bigmouth. Henson's was in his neighborhood, so if something shady was going on, he'd likely know.
As soon as Lois hung up the phone, it rang again.
"Hey yourself. How's the search coming?"
"Not so good. You know, I was thinking, one of us should call the police and set up an appointment with the officer covering the missing babies."
"That's a good idea, Honey. I'll do that."
"Thanks. I love you."
Lois felt sure she'd be able to get some work done, but as soon as she got off the phone with Clark, Jordan woke up — as hungry and as loud as ever.
At the Planet, Clark was on hold with the Metropolis Police Department. Finally, someone picked up the phone.
"This is Inspector Burke. How can I help you, Mr. Kent?"
"I need to talk to the officer investigating…" Clark paused, looking at his notes, "the Holden, Driscoll and Lansky kidnapping cases."
"Hang on just a second." The line switched to elevator music.
Clark sat there on hold for fifteen minutes, wondering if Burke had forgotten about him. Just when he was about to hang up, Inspector Burke came back on the line.
"I'm unable to find any records dealing with kidnappings under those names."
"It's not totally unheard of. I'll be sending one of our boys, officer Overstreet, to … where was it you worked again?"
Clark groaned at the ineptitude of some people. "The Daily Planet."
"Ah, yes. Anyway, I'll send an officer over there, tomorrow say around 9:00 a.m."
"Thank you, Inspector."
"Yeah, no problem."
Clark hung up the phone just in time to hear a call for help.
Back at the townhouse, Lois was finishing feeding Jordan when she heard a news bulletin on the television that caught her attention.
<This is an LNN News Special Report. A chemical plant in a small town outside Metropolis has reportedly caught on fire. Superman is hard at work at the scene and sources say he's been able to free all people that were trapped within the building. Stay tuned to LNN for further information on this situation.>
Lois looked down at her daughter, "Well, sweetie, your Daddy's done it again. I'm so proud of him, Jordan." Lois's thoughts turned sentimental, "And I'm so honored to be his wife. It's not the super powers that I'm proud of, even though sometimes I'm sure he thinks those play a big part in it. I'm proud of *him.* Of the courage and strength of character it takes to use his powers for good. Most men, having been blessed with his powers would have used them for their own glory and power — the Kryptonians proved that abundantly when they were here. But your father, he doesn't understand greed. I don't think he's even capable of feeling the least bit greedy. He's a remarkable man, your Daddy, and you're going to be a remarkable woman."
Lois sat there a few more minutes just looking at her daughter, imagining what sort of woman she'd be when she grew up. She finally pulled herself out of her reverie and put Jordan back in her bassinet.
Lois sat back down at the computer and pulled up her web browser. She accessed a search engine and typed in — babies.
>You love Lex Luthor<
That search was nowhere near what she needed. It pulled up sites about baby care, fertility, baby food, but nothing about stealing babies or stolen babies.
She then typed in — Henson's Groceries.
>You don't love Clark Kent<
She found a link to a web site for the store.
She followed the link to the site. It was a basic business site, nothing out of the ordinary, until she saw a link that said, "Members Only!" and clicked on it.
>You have always loved Lex Luthor<
>You should have married Lex Luthor<
The link pulled up a screen that asked for a password.
"What could a grocery store possibly have that'd require someone to have a password to access it?"
She punched in a few combinations, all the while being exposed to more of Jaxon's subliminal messages.
>You will leave Clark Kent<
>Clark Kent doesn't love you<
>Lex Luthor is the only one who ever loved you<
>Everything Lex has ever done, he's done because he loves you<
The phone had been ringing a while before Lois noticed it, so intent was she on breaking the code.
"Lois? It's Lucy."
"Lucy? Where are you?"
"I'm at the airport, I just got back into town. You think I could stay with you for a while?"
"Sure, Lucy. Do you remember the new address?"
"348 Hyper Avenue?"
"No, Hyperion Avenue."
"Oh, yeah. I'll be there soon."
"See ya then."
Lois cleared the line and then dialed the number she usually used to get in touch with Bobby. Before long, his unmistakable spoke into her ear and she could tell that his mouth was filled with food.
"Bobby? It's Lois."
"Hey, Lane! What can I do for you?" He managed to get out between bites.
"I was wondering if you know anything about a Henson's Groceries, it's in your neighborhood."
"Oh, yeah, I've heard of that place. They hold some sort of auction there every Friday night. Not sure what the merchandise is though — you don't get in there unless you're invited."
"Oh, and Lois?"
"Send some Peking Duck from Ralph's Pagoda to the usual drop off spot."
"Sure thing, Bobby."
Lois's head was throbbing, so she went to the medicine cabinet in search of some aspirin to ease the pain.
Superman turned the last criminal over to the police, and noting the late time, started home. When he entered the house, he saw Lois hard at work on the computer.
"Hey, Honey!"he said exuberantly.
"Hi," she said, absently, not looking up from the computer screen.
He leaned down to kiss her but she pulled away. Before he had a chance to ask her what was wrong, the doorbell rang.
Lois jumped up. "That must be Lucy."
"Yeah, she's going to be staying with us for a while."
Clark walked over to Jordan's bassinet. He picked her up and cradled her in his arms.
"Clark, I just put her down after feeding her. I thought she might take a nap." There was a tone in Lois's voice that Clark hadn't heard since long before they'd started dating.
"Well, I just got home from work and I want to see my daughter."
"Fine! Do whatever you want." She turned to the door and opened it. It was Lucy.
"Hey, sis," Lucy said, launching herself into Lois's arms for a big hug.
"Hi, Lucy. It's really great to see you. Come on in."
Lois stepped back and let Lucy come in the house.
Lucy dragged her two suitcases into the livingroom and noticed Clark.
"Hey, Clark. Is that my niece you've got there?"
Lucy walked over and took the baby from Clark, looking down into the beautiful eyes of her niece for the first time.
"Thank you," Clark and Lois said in unison. Their eyes met and something passed between them, something that Clark didn't quite understand. Clark smiled, trying to pull Lois out of the strange mood she'd been in since he'd come home. It didn't work, only causing her to cast her eyes down.
Lucy handed the baby back to Clark. "So, where'm I staying?" she asked.
It took Lois a moment to answer. "Oh, um … follow me, Lucy. I'll show you your room."
After Lois and Lucy had gone upstairs, Clark placed Jordan back in her bassinet. He cupped his large hand around her small cheek, much in the same manner he usually touched Lois's face. Jordan's small cheek was almost engulfed by the large hand. "What's wrong with Mommy, Jor-Jor? Why's she pulling away from me?"
Of course Jordan was unable to answer, but it made Clark feel better to get his feelings out in the open.
Lois came back down the stairs without Lucy.
"She's getting settled in. I told her we'd call her down for dinner."
"Speaking of which, I thought I'd whip up those steaks we've got in the freezer. Wanna help?"
"No, I'm gonna get back on the computer — see if I can find a lead. Bobby gave me some interesting information this afternoon and I'm seeing what I can do with it."
"Anything I can help you with?"
"No, I don't need your help."
A pained expression crossed Clark's face and he felt like he'd been physically injured. "Well, okay." The voice sounded nothing like its usual confident self and more like a lost little boy who was afraid of being alone again.
He walked toward the kitchen slowly — he felt as if a heavy weight had been placed on his chest and he had trouble breathing.
He entered the kitchen like a zombie, taking each step like a reflexive action, born from years of taking similar steps.
He took the steaks out of the freezer, focused his heat vision and soon they were cooked to perfection. Clark quickly fixed a salad out of some left over vegetables in the refrigerator. He carried everything out to the table.
Lois was still hard at work at the computer when he brought the food out.
"Lois, Honey, dinner's ready. Could you go tell Lucy?"
Lois barely looked up as she yelled, "Lucy! Dinner's ready!"
"Lois, I think we need to talk later," Clark said, a note of pleading in his voice.
"No, Clark, I don't think we do, actually," she said. Lois's headache was getting worse by the minute. She felt as if her brain was splitting in two. She reached for the aspirin that was sitting beside her computer. She'd taken quite a few already, but they seemed to be having no effect on the terrible throbbing in her head.
Before Clark had the chance to say anything more, Lucy came bounding down the stairs.
"Wow! That smells great! And it was ready so fast," Lucy said, eyeing the food on the table. "Lois, aren't you gonna eat?"
"Yeah, I'm coming. I'm just really engrossed in this story."
Lois took a seat as far away from Clark as she could get.
"So, Lucy," Clark began, "Tell us what you've been up to lately."
"Well, I moved to Miami, where I met an acctor. Boy, was he a loser! worked at this convenience store, making just enough money to get by. He wasn't working anywhere and come to find out, he was giving my money to this girl he was seeing on the side."
"That's terrible, Lucy," Clark said absently.
Lois was looking down at her plate, picking at her food. She felt Clark watching her, but she didn't want to look up. Then, her eyes were unexplainably drawn to his. His eyes held hers, his gaze caressing her like a touch. She could see the pain in his dark brown eyes and she knew she was the cause of it. She knew she ought to feel bad, but something in her head stopped her from feeling any emotion for Clark.
Lucy was oblivious to the tension crackling in the air and continued her story.
"After that, I moved to Nacogdoches, Texas and enrolled in the police academy. I joined the NPD for six months and then put in for a transfer to Metropolis."
"You're a cop?!" Lois exclaimed.
"That's what I just said, Lois," Lucy replied, a confidence in her voice that had never been there when she'd dealt with her sister. Lois had always been the over-achiever and Lucy had grown up in her shadow. But now, Lucy was proud of what she'd done, of who she'd become and she wasn't going to be deterred by her sister's overbearing attitude.
"Lucy, that's probably the craziest thing you've ever done. Do Mother and Dad know?"
"No, they don't. And it's not crazy, Lois. I'm good at it, really good. I've turned my life around."
"Becoming a cop isn't turning your life around, Lucy. It's just another in a long line of bad choices."
"You know, you would say that!" Lucy yelled, flinging her napkin down on the table and rushing out of the room.
"Lois, don't you think you were a little hard on her?" Clark asked.
"No, Clark, I don't. She's irrational. She's always been irrational. She'll never grow up. And really, Clark, it's none of your business, this is about family."
"Lois, I *am* family," he said, taking her hand.
She jerked her hand out of his grasp and ran up the stairs.
He just looked at the stairs until long after she'd reached their bedroom. He wrestled with himself; part of him wanted to run after her and part of him wanted to let her sort it out herself. The part that wanted to go after her finally won out.
He ran up the stairs and made it to their bedroom, faster than a normal guy would have. In his worry over the strange things that were happening between himself and Lois, he'd momentarily forgotten Lucy was staying with them and he had to keep his powers under tight control.
He opened their bedroom door slowly and saw Lois lying on their bed, staring absently at the ceiling. He walked over and sat down next to her. She scooted away so as not to have any part of her body touching his. Something inside was telling her, willing her, to break all contact with Clark.
He flinched, but said anyway, "Lois, Honey, what's the matter? I'm *so* sorry. I don't know what I did, but, whatever it is, I'm sorry. Can we just talk about this, *please*?"
"Clark, you're going to have to learn that sometimes 'sorry' just doesn't cut it. You can't expect to get your way out of every situation by saying you're sorry. I really just don't want to talk to you."
"I don't understand what happened, Lois. This afternoon we made love like newlyweds and now you can't stand my touch. If only I knew what I was supposed to be sorry for …"
"Well, if you don't know, then I'm afraid I can't help you. I … just … don't … like you anymore, Clark." she said without looking at him. "I can't explain what I'm feeling, all I know is I can't go on like this anymore."
He inhaled sharply, "Do you still *love* me?"
"I don't know, Clark, I just don't know anymore."
"Goodnight, Clark. I'm going to bed."
"But, Honey —"
"Clark, I'm tired and I want to sleep, so I'd appreciate it if you'd either shut up and go to sleep too, or go do your nightly patrols … or something."
Clark stood, starting to prepare for bed. "I'm gonna take a shower and then I'll be coming to bed too."
"I'd really rather you not sleep in here."
"But, Lois, I—"
"Either you sleep downstairs, or I do, Clark."
"No, Lois, I will. I …" Clark stammered. "Goodnight."
Clark reluctantly walked back down the stairs, the shower he'd been about to take forgotten. The look of disgust he'd seen on Lois's face had ripped his heart out.
In the living room, he noticed Lois's computer was still on. He saw she'd been trying to break a password code. He sat down and entered combinations at super speed until he'd broken the code. He had no idea why he'd done it, but it somehow made him feel closer to Lois.
He laid back on the couch, willing himself to go to sleep and forget the horrible events that had happened since he'd come home.
Lex was pacing around the room, a look of joy and underlying evil on his face.
He clapped his hands together excitedly, "So, Jaxon, you're telling me that Lois has already started turning away from Clark?"
"Yeah, Dad, I've been monitoring and from what I've been able to hear, she'll hardly speak to him and she won't let him touch her. The story she's working on is keeping her on the computer a lot. I've been spending a lot of time there, making sure the system is working to the fullest capacity."
"Keep up the work, Son, but *don't* ever run the system when Clark is using the computer."
"But we could make him leave her, Dad."
"No questions! Do *not* use the system on Kent. Now go, she may be using the computer and you're here wasting time."
Clark was tossing and turning on the couch, gripped in the throes of a terrible nightmare. In his dream, Lois was dressed in the wedding gown she'd bought for their first wedding. She took off her wedding ring and handed it to Clark. A shadow in the shape of a man came and took Lois's hand. She started speaking in a voice Clark didn't recognize.
"Goodbye, Clark Kent … Kal-El … Superman. I'll be taking Jordan and you'll never see either of us again. I'm with the man I've always loved now, the only one I've ever loved."
Then Clark heard male laughter that sent chills up his spine — laughter that'd be recognizable to Clark for the rest of his life — the laughter of Lex Luthor.
A similar thing was happening in their bedroom. Lois was caught in a dream. She saw herself in a wedding gown, the one she'd worn at her wedding to Lex. The emotions she felt now were much different than the ones she'd felt on the original day. She was ecstatic. She was marrying the man she loved. She walked down an elegant staircase and saw Lex at the end of an aisle waiting for her. She walked into his waiting arms and the minister started the ceremony.
"Lois Lane? Do you take Lex Luthor to be your husband …"
In the background she heard sobbing. Crying that came from deep inside a broken person. Crying that pulled at her heart and made her feel deep anguish. The crying of Clark Kent.
Clark sat straight up and wiped the tears from his eyes. 'Why would I dream about Lois and Lex?' he thought to himself.
He decided he needed some time to relax, spun into the suit and took to the sky, trying to shake the image of Lois with Lex.
Lois sat straight up in bed, the memory of her dream fresh in her mind. She got out of bed and began pacing around the room. Her head was aching, the conflicting emotions swirling in her mind. The part of her that loved Clark was fighting against the part of her that'd been brainwashed into wanting Lex. And unfortunately, the part that wanted Lex was winning out.
Clark was at the Planet by 5 a.m. the next day. He'd been out flying all night and hadn't wanted to go home — there was nothing there for him now. He was the first one in the office, Perry hadn't even made it in yet. He was enjoying the quiet, enjoying the feeling of not being unwanted. He passed the time writing up the stories of Superman's rescues from the night before. Putting his solitary by-line on each one and all the while feeling further separated from Lois.
Perry entered the newsroom about an hour after Clark.
"Judas Priest, Son, what are you doing at work so early? You and Lois have a fight?"
"Actually, yeah, and I have no idea what it was about."
Perry chuckled. "Do we ever really know what a fight's about?"
"Not really," Clark said. "I sent three stories to your computer about Superman."
"When'd you see him? It's pretty early to be getting stories."
Clark faltered on the lie. "He stopped by … early this morning. Told me all about it. Lois was still asleep, so it was one of those rare occasions that I land a Superman exclusive."
"So what's going on with the baby snatching case?"
"I'm meeting with an officer at 9:00 this morning to find out what's going on. They haven't been able to find any files on the cases, even though the mothers all reported the babies missing."
"Well, that sounds like a good place to start."
"I think so, Chief."
"Well, that's good, Son. Keep up the good work." He patted Clark on the back. "I'll see you later."
Clark watched the retreating form of his editor until he was sure that Perry would be out of hearing distance. He picked up the phone and dialed the number for STAR Labs.
A cheery voice picked up the phone. "Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Laboratories. How may I direct your call?"
"I need to speak to Dr. Klein, please."
The line switched to the 'Twilight Zone' theme and Clark rolled his eyes. STAR Labs was a pretty ritzy facility, but they always had the worst hold music he'd ever heard.
He was saved from hearing much more of it by the cheery woman coming back on the line. "I'm sorry, Sir. Dr. Klein is giving a debriefing to some staff members and won't be able to take your call. Would you like to leave a message?"
"Yes, please. Tell him that Clark Kent called. Could you also tell him that if he's unable to get back to me at work, he's welcome to call me at home? I really need to speak with him."
"I'll tell him, Mr. Kent. Thank you and have a nice day."
The opposite line clicked off and Clark sat the phone back down in its cradle. He let his head fall into his waiting hands as the despair of his life washed over him.
At the townhouse, Lois was in Jordan's room just watching her baby sleep. It was a very relaxing activity, she'd come to find out over the last few weeks, and right now, she needed to relax. She didn't know where the sudden feelings for Lex had come from, but they'd overtaken her sometime earlier that morning. She couldn't get his face out of her head, she kept hearing his voice calling her name. She knew that she must find him — knew that wherever he was, dead or alive, she had to see him again, to tell him how she felt, how she'd always felt.
She figured he wouldn't have her. He'd be angry about all the times she'd thwarted his plans and run away with Clark. But, she had to try. She knew that now. The whole thing with Clark had been a farce, a bad mistake she'd made in order to impress other people, the voice inside her head kept telling her.
She strolled down to the living room, figuring she needed to get some work done. She noticed the laptop was still on and that the code had been broken. She realized Clark must have done that when she kicked him out of their room last night. It was typical of him, to use his Super abilities to cut corners.
The page the code had accessed confirmed her suspicions about Henson's Groceries. All the babies that Kaylah had told her about were up for auction at enormous prices. She noticed another name on the page that caught her attention. Ellias Turner. Now, where had she heard that name before?
9:00 a.m. Daily Planet
A handsome young man in his early twenties exited the elevators of the world famous Daily Planet newsroom and was taken aback by how little it had changed in the years since he'd been there. Could it have really been only five years? His mind just couldn't fathom that time as he looked at all the familiar people scurrying around, working to meet the deadline.
He noticed his once good friends, Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent, bent over their desks, each probably struggling to put the finishing touches on some story full of corruption. He had an appointment to meet with Clark today about some kidnapping cases. Wouldn't everyone be surprised to see how he'd turned his life around? He was a bit hesitant about making the first few steps to Clark's desk. He'd always admired Clark and he felt guilty now about leaving and not telling him where he'd gone.
There was only one way to get past that, he realized, and he took the first steps in that direction. When he reached Clark's desk, Clark was on the phone and didn't have the chance to look up at the new arrival. So, Officer Overstreet, Jack, just Jack as he'd once been known, sat down to wait.
Before long, Clark hung up the phone and looked his visitor directly in the eye. It was a habit he had, Jack remembered, and one that had bothered him when they'd first met and he felt he had so many things to hide. But this time, Jack looked Clark squarely in the eye, waiting for the anticipated reaction to his reappearance.
"Jack?!" Clark exclaimed. Then noting Jack's police attire, he said, "You're the officer I'm supposed to meet with about that kidnapping case?"
"Yeah," Jack grinned sheepishly.
"Where have you been? When you left, I was so worried about you, I looked everywhere, but with only your first name to go by, it was next to impossible to find you. How have you been?"
"Well, I didn't go far. I wandered the coast for a while and finally settled down and went to the Police Academy. I've been doing great and always meant to come here and see you again, but didn't know what your reaction would be if I had."
"It's great to see you, Jack, really. I'm so glad that things have turned around for you — you've deserved it for a long time."
"I'm just relieved you're not mad."
"I'd never be mad, Jack."
They sat there a moment in companionable silence before Jack noticed Lois and Clark's wedding picture on his desk. "You *married* Lane?"
"Yeah, about two years ago."
"I always knew you were head over heels for her, but she really didn't seem to pay that much attention to you. She always seemed sorta bossy to me," Jack said, with a sheepish grin. He was, after all, talking about Clark's wife.
"Yeah, she did come over that way to a lot of people and it took a while to make her notice me, but she came around." A stricken look crossed Clark's face at the thought of happier times with his wife.
Jack noticed, but pretended he didn't. "Well, I'm very happy for you."
"Thanks. Have you got anyone special in your life?" Clark asked, and the younger man turned three shades of red.
"No, um, I haven't really had that kinda time, you know. I've been focusing on my career."
Clark was forming an idea in his head and, even with all the problems he was having at home, said anyway, "How about coming over for dinner tonight?"
"Well, sure, yeah, I'd love that, Clark!" Jack beamed, glad to know that he hadn't lost Clark's friendship.
Across the newsroom, Jimmy Olsen glanced up from his desk as he heard Clark laugh loudly. The man that was sitting with his back to Jimmy held a familiar air, so he decided to go see if it was someone he knew. When he'd reached Clark's desk, and taken in the identity of his guest, he exclaimed, "Jack?!"
"Jimmy!" Jack said, getting up to shake his hand.
"It's so good to see you, man. When you disappeared, I was really worried."
"Oh, well, sorry about that." Jack noticed that his old friend looked somewhat different than he'd remembered. "You've changed a lot, Jimmy. Hope you don't mind me saying that."
"Oh, no, I don't mind, you're right though, I went through some major changes just after you left."
"Jimmy, I just asked Jack if he'd like to come to dinner tonight. Do you think you and Penny could make it?" Clark asked.
"Yeah, Clark, I'm pretty sure we could, we were going to do something together tonight, but we didn't really have plans. I'll go give her a call."
"Which reminds me," Clark said, "I'd better call Lois and run this by her. Excuse me for a moment Jack."
"Sure, no problem."
Clark picked up the receiver of his phone and pressed the speed dial for his home number. His wife picked up and his heart started beating faster, remembering all too well the last time he'd talked to her.
"Lois, it's Clark."
"Oh, hi," she said, dejectedly.
Clark closed his eyes and stilled himself for what was sure to be a difficult conversation. But, he plunged ahead, trying not to be daunted by his wife's frigid behavior. "I wanted to let you know that I've invited some guests over for dinner tonight, Lois."
"Just listen to me a second, Lois. An old friend of mine has come back into town and I'm bringing him home for dinner. Jimmy and Penny will be joining us too." He'd never taken such a controlling attitude with Lois before, but considering the circumstances, he really didn't know what else to do.
"Who's the friend? Some hack from that rinky-dink hole in the wall you hail from?" she asked, her voice dripping with spite.
"No, Lois, it's Jack. You remember him, I'm sure, he worked at the Planet around the time you almost married that maniacal sociopath, Luthor." Clark spat the name out spitefully. He hadn't wanted to get angry with Lois but the way she was acting, brought it out.
At the mention of Lex's name, Lois became more angered. "Well, Clark, maybe I should have! So, it's that sniveling little ruffian that robbed you? You're bringing a thief into our home with our newly born child? How typical of you, Clark, really. That do-gooder attitude of yours is sure more than I can handle. Don't expect me to cook. If you want them fed, you take care of it."
"That's just fine, Lois. Besides, I wouldn't want to poison my friends with your cooking anyway." He knew the last remark was caustic and childish, but she'd really pushed him as far as he could go.
"Fine!" she yelled and slammed the phone down.
Clark simply set the receiver back in the cradle and turned to see where Jack had wondered to. He saw him standing outside Perry's office, probably contemplating whether or not it would be smart to reacquaint himself with the Editor in Chief. Clark got up, walked over to him, and placed his hand on Jack's back. "Come on, let's go in and show the Chief how well you've done for yourself."
Clark opened the door and almost had to push Jack into the office. "Chief, you remember Jack that used to work here, don't you?"
"Great Shades of Elvis, Son, look at you! Sure, I remember him, Clark. I see you've cleaned yourself up a bit. Boy, I'm proud of you!" The Editor beamed at the young man.
Jack became flustered. He'd always respected the older man, though he'd been loathe to show it when he'd worked for the Planet. "Well, um … thank you, Sir."
"I'd offer you your old job back, but it looks like you've got that handled. Are you enjoying working for the MPD?" Perry questioned, still having a hard time taking in that the young man who'd been a bur under his saddle had now taken a job with the Metropolis Police Department.
"Oh, yes, Sir, it's been a great experience so far. In fact, Inspector Burke sent me here today to get some information about some kidnappings that Clark had called to check on. I've done quite a bit of sniffing around down at the precinct, but haven't been able to find anything remotely resembling the things that Clark had mentioned."
"Well, then, I guess I should let you two get to work. Thanks for stopping in to see me, Jack. I'm really proud of how you've come around." Perry stuck his hand out and shook the younger man's hand vigorously.
"We'll be in the conference room, Chief," Clark spoke up as he escorted Jack out of the office.
When they'd settled themselves in the conference room, Clark started relaying the information that Lois had given him about the missing babies. Jack took notes furiously, every now and then shaking his head and mumbling some things that were barely audible even to a Super-ear. Clark agreed with everything he was saying though, because the younger man was marveling at how such a large case had slipped right through the cracks in the system.
"Well, Clark," Jack stood up after their meeting, "I think I have enough information to at least begin an investigation. I'll let you know what I come up with. I guess I'd better be going."
"Ah, you're not getting off that easily. I asked you to dinner tonight and I mean to see that you come."
"Oh, yeah, I almost forgot," Jack said, though he'd really tried to purposely get out of it. He hadn't been in a 'family' setting in so long, he really didn't think he'd be comfortable.
"Lois and I live at 348 Hyperion Avenue. Dinner'll be ready at 8."
"I'll be there!" Jack said and rushed to catch the elevator that had just opened.
Back at the townhouse, Lois was pouring over her rolodex trying to locate the name 'Ellias Turner.' When she found the card with that name, she was more than surprised. Ellias Turner was Henderson's partner!
"Oh, man, this is bigger than I thought!"
She punched in the web address for Henson's groceries, wanting to make sure she hadn't made a mistake about the name. She accessed the secret page, using the password that had been saved on her computer and there it was, as plain as day: Ellias Turner.
>Tonight is the night you'll leave Clark Kent<
>You'll be reunited with your true love, Lex Luthor<
Lois couldn't believe it! She'd met Henderson's partner at a Policeman's Ball a couple of years ago, and the elderly gentleman had seemed to her like a father figure. He'd been very courteous, and highly complimentary of her work and had also asked her to dance.
She looked in the Metropolis phonebook, to make sure that there were no other Ellias's listed under the last name Turner. Sure enough, the only one she found was Inspector Ellias Turner, MPD.
She reached for the phone, wanting to fill Perry in on the details of this story. At the same time she was waiting for someone to answer the Daily Planet phone, she was writing a hurried e-mail to Kaylah, to let her know that soon she'd have her baby back.
>Further instructions on a meeting place will be here tonight<
"Daily Planet?" a cheery voice said into the phone, pulling Lois out of a temporary state of trance.
"Oh, um," she said, shaking her head, as pictures of Lex killing Clark ran through her head. "I need to speak to Perry, it's urgent."
"One moment please."
Lois continued to type the e-mail furiously, all the while being bombarded with derogatory messages about Clark and complimentary messages about Lex. Her warring emotions were tearing her apart inside, almost like a physical war going on within her body. Her head began to ache and she found it hard to breathe. By the time Perry had picked up the phone, she was near hysterics.
"Perry," she panted, out of breath, "it's Lois."
"What in the Sam Hill is wrong, Honey, you sound like you've ran a marathon."
"Oh, no," she said, shaking her head, trying to free herself from the turmoil. "It's nothing. I just wanted to call and tell you that I just got a break on the kidnappings. I'm on my way there now."
"Shouldn't you take Clark with you, Honey?"
"No!" She almost screamed the word. "No, I don't need his help. He's too much of a saint and his goodness always gets in the way of my investigations."
Perry held the phone out, looking at it strangely, hardly believing the words coming out of his star reporter's mouth. She hadn't talked about Clark that way in years!
"No, buts, Perry, I can do this alone."
"Well, if you say so."
"Save room for this on the front page in the morning, Perry — it's got big connections at the Police Department."
Lois hung up the phone without waiting for Perry to say anything more. The last thing she needed was that hassle of a husband following her and messing up the story she'd worked so hard for. At that thought, she felt an emptiness inside her, one she hadn't felt in ages.
She bolted off the couch, and rushed up the stairs, bursting into Lucy's room.
"Luce," she began, "I need you to watch Jordan for a while. Do you think you can handle it?"
"Sure, Lois, I can handle it. But, what's wrong, you look like you've seen a ghost."
"It's nothing. I'm on the trail of a big story. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Lois dashed back down the stairs, grabbing her purse on the way, and rushed out of the house. By the time she was fully in the Jeep, she already had it started and, when she shut the door, she zoomed away from the house, in pursuit of the baby snatchers.
She wove in and out of traffic on her way to Henson's and, when she was within two blocks of the store, parked her car.
She exited the vehicle and jogged the two block distance to an alley just beside Henson's. She peered around the corner and noticed a back entrance with the lettering "Employees or Guests Only" on the door. Never one to be daunted by a 'keep out' sign, she walked slowly and silently into the alley, looking all around her to make sure no one could see where she was going. When she reached the door, she noticed there was a lock and thanked the stars she'd brought along her 'lock-picking' equipment. She made quick work of a lock she deemed 'easy pickings' and soon she'd slunk into a back room of the grocery store.
>From her vantage point, she could see doors to other rooms, which luckily >all had windows. One seemed to be a nursery of sorts and the other two >resembled meeting rooms, with one of these seeming to be the 'auction' >room, complete with chairs, a podium and numbered cards.
She tip-toed further into the store and, just as she was about to enter the room that held the many squalling infants, a hand came up from behind and wrapped itself viciously around her neck, the other hand of her assailant covering her muffled scream.
"Well, well, well, Ms. Lane, it's very nice to see you again after all these years." The voice purred into her ear. It was a voice, same in tone to the one she remembered from the Policeman's ball two years prior, but one that now was laced with an undertone of evil. Had she not been under mind control, she might have likened the baneful tone to that of Lex Luthor.
She wriggled around, trying to break herself from his grip, mumbling muted "Mmphs" before finally elbowing him in the stomach.
He winced but recovered. "Really, Lois," he said the name almost like a physical caress and she shuddered at the thought. "Do you think I spent 35 years on the Metropolis Police Force and didn't learn how to wrangle a squirming person?"
Her brain failing to come up with any other course of action, she bit down on his hand hard and that resulted in having him throw her to the ground with a stunning blow to her face. Pain shot through her jaw, causing her vision to blur and the blood to start pounding in her head.
Ellias Turner might be over sixty, but he was still a powerful man.
Now that her mouth was free, the thought flitted across her mind that she should call for Superman. Again, an internal war raged inside her mind as part of her — her soul — wanted to call for its other half, and the other part of her — her mind — flung the hated thought away.
But that part of her soul that yearned for Clark, that part of her that had an ingrained need to call for him in times of trouble won out this one time and she took a deep breath and yelled, "Help! Superman, help!"
The words had no sooner left her mouth than Turner had knocked another stunning blow across her face, this time succeeding in silencing her for a time.
In the chaotic newsroom of the Daily Planet, Clark Kent's head raised up in a fashion that was familiar to many, but only understood by one, his partner, his wife, his soul mate. He heard her voice inside his head — a shout he'd become accustomed to on the many occasions she'd been in danger since that fated day when he'd met her. And in that instant, all the fighting of the past few days, all the many harsh words and cruel jabs faded away in the light of her need for him.
He ran out of the newsroom, tugging at his tie. He bolted up the stairs to the roof and took to the sky. She was no longer calling for him, which worried him immensely, but he remembered the vicinity the call had come from. If he had to guess, he'd say she'd been caught snooping around Henson's Groceries, so that's the direction he took.
He flew fast and soon he was in the same alley that Lois had been in only moments before. He saw her car parked down the street and knew that he must have guessed right. He entered the still-ajar door and saw Lois tied to a chair, unconscious. 'That explains why she didn't call for me again.'
He x-rayed through the walls and found the babies sleeping peacefully in the make-shift nursery, and, in the room in front of that he saw Ellias Turner!
Superman had dealt with Turner on many occasions when Henderson had been tending to other things. Clark couldn't believe that he was somehow involved, but upon further inspection of the room, there was no mistaking that Turner was knee-deep in the baby snatching scheme.
In one of the other rooms, Superman saw a man and a woman locked in a passionate embrace. 'That must be Fredric and Velma.'
Before either of the three criminals knew what was happening, Superman, scooped them all up and flew them to the nearest police precinct.
After he'd deposited the criminals and asked a few MPD officers to come with him, he made way for Henson's once again.
This time when he came through the door, Lois was awake, shaking her head, trying to clear her vision.
"Clark!" she exclaimed.
"Lois, you know you're not supposed to call me that when I'm in the suit!" he admonished her.
"I don't care what I'm supposed to do! Where's Turner?"
"I've taken him and the other two down to the station and some officers will be here shortly to pick up the babies and return them to their rightful homes."
"How could you!" she screamed. "You took this story right away from me! I had everything under control."
"Everything under control? You call being knocked out and tied to a chair 'under control?'"
She just glared at him and said nothing further as the police swarmed the store.
She started struggling against her bonds, trying to free herself and get away from this so she could write the story before Clark did.
Superman went to her side and swiftly dislodged the ropes from around her wrists.
"I didn't need your help!" She spat the words out under her breath so no one else could hear her, just loud enough for someone with superhearing to pick it up.
"Ugh!" she said, putting all of her frustration into that one word. She ran out of the door, heading toward her Jeep. Lois was so determined to beat Clark to the punch, she didn't even notice her throbbing headache, remnant of the blow Ellias Turner had dealt her.
Clark started to go after her, but then decided against it. His heart wanted to go with her and make sure she was all right, she'd been hit on the head many times, and even though his hurried x-ray of her head found no major damage, he was still concerned about her health. He figured she was going to the Planet to write up the story. He'd let her handle this one alone.
And tonight, after dinner, they'd talk about what was going wrong between them.
Lois ran into the Daily Planet newsroom and flung her purse down on her desk.
"Great Shades of Elvis, Lois, I thought you weren't coming into the office for a while," Perry said as she breezed past him.
"Oh, yeah, I wasn't, but I've gotta get this story turned in before Clark does."
Perry looked at Jimmy who'd caught this last remark and they both shrugged. Who were they to get in the way of 'Mad Dog Lane' when she was hot on the tail of a story?
Lois started typing frantically, all the while the words tumbling over and over in her mind, 'Clark Kent doesn't love you.'
She had to get this story written before Clark stole it right out from under her. He'd done it before.
She continued to work on it, and for once in a long while, there were no subliminal messages polluting her mind. Though the ones that had already embedded themselves were tormenting her.
After everything was handled at Henson's, Clark flew home. He changed into 'Clark' clothes before walking through the door because, when he'd x-rayed the house, he saw Lucy upstairs playing with Jordan.
'I'd wondered what Lois had done with Jordan,' he thought.
"Lucy!" He yelled towards the upstairs, "It's Clark."
He pulled his glasses down and peered through the ceiling, seeing Lucy get Jordan situated, and then coming down the stairs with her.
"Hey, Clark!" Lucy said and smiled a disarming smile.
Clark responded out of instinct — that smile she'd flashed was so much like Lois's. He beamed at her as he took Jordan out of her arms and then placed a friendly arm around her, hugging her closely.
Gratitude and brotherly love shone in Clark's eyes as he gazed at his sister-in-law. This was how Lois found them when she returned to her Hyperion home. Misinterpreting their warm embrace and the look that was passing between them, white hot rage gripped her body.
"Well!" she yelled, as one of the subliminal messages kicked in. Her brain was screaming, 'Clark Kent doesn't love you!'
Clark turned around at the sound of her voice, the first indication he'd had that she was there. He realized what this must have looked like to her, but she was reading more into it than was there. Clark had always been one to respond to emotions and he felt strongly about anyone that was part of his family. He'd just wanted Lucy to feel at home and to let her know that he appreciated her watching after Jordan. Lois should know she'd never have anything to worry about with him — he'd never given her any reason to be jealous. She, on the other hand, had almost *kissed* the other Clark and he'd not held that against her.
"Don't you 'Honey' me, you … you scoundrel! I turn my back for *one* moment and you start making passes at my kid sister!"
"Oh, shut up, Lucy! I know you've always been hot after my husband."
"I've never been any such thing!"
"Lois, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I really think we need to talk."
"I don't think we do, Clark." She took Jordan out of his arms. "I'm going upstairs. I'm taking Jordan with me. Don't expect me to come downstairs for dinner. I'll eat something after your … guests leave."
Clark started after her. "Lois—"
"Don't come after me, Kent! I don't want to see your face." With that, she rushed up the stairs.
When he'd heard their bedroom door slam, Clark sat down on the couch and put his head in his hands, shaking it back and forth in confusion.
Lucy went to his side, though she refrained from touching him. He looked like he needed a hug, but after the earlier incident she was scared of how he'd interpret her giving him one. She'd come to look up to Clark and respect him on the few occasions she'd seen him since he and Lois had gotten married. She wasn't attracted to him, but she loved him. She loved him for being the man for her sister and for loving Lois the way she'd always deserved to be loved.
"Clark, I'm sorry."
He looked up. "No, no, Lucy, it's not your fault," he assured her and reached out and squeezed her hand. He loved Lucy like the kid sister he'd never had. Lois should realize that. He hadn't spent a lot of time with Lucy since he and Lois had gotten married, but he'd found out in those few times that she was every bit as tenacious and determined as Lois. He'd had an ulterior motive when he'd invited Jack over for dinner. He felt they'd hit it off and they both deserved someone great. "Lois has been acting… strange," he said, for lack of a better word to describe her behavior. "It's been going on for a few days."
"You know, Clark, now that you mention it, I've noticed it too. I wonder what's wrong?"
"I don't know, Lucy. I just don't know …"
In their bedroom, Lois was holding Jordan tightly to her chest and rocking her gently back and forth. Hot tears were pouring down her face and her head was pounding as the separate sides of her psyche fought over her thoughts.
She knew without a doubt now that she had to leave Clark. Her mind was leading her and that's the course it wanted to take. If she was so decided on this though, why was it breaking her heart?
"So," Lex began, rubbing his hands together in psychotic glee. "Tonight's the night that I'll have Lois back! You've done an excellent job, my son," he said to the computer in front of him, actually meaning the words as they came out of his mouth. He *was* proud of his son — his son had just handed the world back to him. If the system had worked so well on Lois, who he felt sure would never leave that Boy Scout of her own free will, then he shouldn't have any problem using it on prominent figures of society to regain his position in Metropolis.
"Thank you, Dad," Jaxon said. "Now do you think we could talk to some of the people you know and see about getting my mind re-acquainted with my body?" he asked tentatively, referring to a conversation he and his father had had the night before.
Lex just grinned an evil grin. "All in good time, my son. All in good time."
348 Hyperion Avenue — 7:55 p.m.
Clark was removing the burgers from the grill and trying to keep his mind on what he was doing. It was hard, to say the least.
Lois had been true to her word and hadn't stepped foot out of their room since she'd stormed out of the living room earlier that afternoon.
He'd let her steam, knowing, after two years of marriage, it was much better to let her sort things out before he tried to patch them up. He planned to have a very long talk with her tonight. They needed it. Their marriage needed it.
Lucy was helping him prepare dinner. She was currently chopping some lettuce for a salad. He had to smile. Even though she was trying really hard, she was as bad in the kitchen as her sister.
His guests would be arriving shortly and he still didn't know what he'd tell them to explain Lois's very obvious absence. He figured he'd just go with the flow since he was bad enough at coming up with excuses for his Super escapades. He didn't even want to ponder what he might come up with in the way of excuses for Lois's not being at the dinner table.
"Lucy," he said, breaking the companionable silence they'd been working in, "you can go ahead and take the salad and the chips out to the table. I'm gonna keep the burgers warm until the guests arrive."
Lucy picked up the bowl of salad. Well, Clark grinned to himself, it sorta resembled salad except all the vegetables were just piled on top of each other and hardly mixed together.
As he followed her out of the kitchen, the doorbell rang. He x-rayed quickly to see which of his guests had arrived and was surprised to see Jack. He'd expected the young man to be late and he'd had the nagging feeling he might not show at all. Frankly, he was thankful for the diversion this dinner would probably prove to be. He needed something to occupy his thoughts other than the state of his marriage.
"Lucy, why don't you get that?" Clark said, smiling slightly. He wasn't going to push them to get together, but as his Mom always said, 'a little helping along never hurt anyone.' It might have done Lois and himself some good at the beginning, had they had someone pulling for them to get together.
Lucy walked to the door, patting her hair down instinctively. Clark hadn't told her who'd be joining them tonight, but she was always a little nervous when meeting new people.
She opened the door slowly and then had to mentally catch herself before falling to the floor. She was met by the most beautiful, deep, chocolate brown eyes she'd ever seen. Eyes that held such courage and strength and yet gentleness in their depths.
When Jack saw the vision of loveliness open the door to Clark's house, he was afraid he'd gotten the wrong house number. He'd expected to be greeted by Clark, or even Lois for that matter, but never someone who was so… ravishing.
"Hi—" they both said, each one turning a few shades of red, wondering if maybe the other didn't know what they were thinking.
Jack composed himself first. "I'm, um, supposed to be having dinner with the Kents. Is this their house?" he asked, hoping by some odd twist of fate this was where he was supposed to be, because he couldn't imagine walking back down that street and never seeing *her* again.
"Yeah, you're at the right place," she laughed nervously. "I'm Lucy Lane, Lois's sister." She extended her hand and his large one enveloped her small one, making it seem fragile in comparison.
At the touch of their hands, an almost audible spark of electricity passed between them and in that instant they both knew that they wanted to get to know each other a lot more.
Clark walked up behind Lucy, having super snooped on their conversation and thinking, if he didn't pry them away from the door way somehow, they'd be spending the rest of the evening holding hands in the foyer.
"Hey, Jack!" he said, pulling them out of their reverie. "Why don't you come on in?"
Lucy stepped back slightly so that Jack could step into the living room, but their hands didn't separate. Neither one was quite ready to break that first contact. They realized they were holding hands about the same time and released each other nervously.
Clark grinned inwardly. He'd been right. They were going to hit it off splendidly — Martha would be proud.
Clark motioned for them to make themselves comfortable on the couch while he went to make sure the dessert he'd made would be chilled for after dinner. He didn't actually have to chill it conventionally in the refrigerator; he just had to find some excuse to get out of the living room so that they could be alone and get better acquainted with each other.
When he'd made it to the kitchen, he pulled his glasses down slightly, x-raying through the ceiling to look at his wife. God, how he missed her. He missed her touch, her voice, her smell. He missed everything about her. He had no idea what had happened or why she was acting so strangely, all he knew was that he'd done *something* to make her turn against him. He'd racked his brain for hours upon hours and hadn't been able to come up with a single clue that would point to anything that had gone wrong between them. So, it had to be something else. He'd considered it might be Postpartum Depression and that had prompted his earlier call to Klein. If only the scientist would get back to him, maybe there'd be some light shed on the matter.
She was curled up in a ball on the bed, rocking gently back and forth. He swept his glance over and saw that Jordan was sleeping peacefully in the baby bed they had in their room. He remembered the day they'd bought that extra baby bed — the one they'd use for when the baby was sick and they didn't want to leave the baby in the nursery. They'd been so happy, looking forward to the future, *their* future. Lois had beamed with pride and twirled around the room. Then she'd launched herself into his arms and whispered, "I love you, Clark. I love you so much and I'm so proud — no make that honored — to be having your child. This baby," she'd said, placing his hand on her still flat stomach, "this baby will be … super. Not just because of your powers but because it's a blending of our love."
He was pulled from further thoughts of happier times by the doorbell ringing again. He rushed out of the kitchen to see that Lucy and Jack were still talking quietly on the couch so he went and answered the door himself.
As expected, it was Jimmy and his girlfriend Penny. It still amazed Clark that Jimmy had maintained, perhaps even thrived on, his relationship with the strange girl that had once confused him with Superman. Clark was also still a bit nervous around her, wondering if maybe she might be able to figure out Superman's *real* secret identity. If she did know, she'd never let on.
"Hey, CK, my man! Something smells great!" Jimmy said, walking into the living room. He'd been to Lois and Clark's house so many times, he didn't feel the need to wait to be invited in like Jack had.
"Hey, Jim, Penny," Clark said, nodding to each one in succession and shutting the door after Penny had come in.
The young couple walked into the living room and Jimmy said, "Hey, Lucy! It's great to see you again."
"Hey, Jimmy!" Lucy said, getting up and walking over to hug the cub reporter.
Jimmy wrapped his arms around her exuberantly. A long time ago he'd asked her out and they'd gone on a date. They'd both realized pretty early into the evening that it just wasn't meant to be. Jimmy himself realized that he'd been a totally different person back then. He thought that she probably had been too.
Lucy hugged her old friend. They'd gone out once years ago and she'd realized that's all he'd ever be to her, just a casual acquaintance and that was fine by her. She wasn't sure yet, but she thought she'd just met a guy she wanted to spend a lot of time with and maybe, just maybe, he'd finally be the one.
The two other young people in the room were taking in the warm embrace with mixed emotions.
Penny trusted Jimmy. Since they'd got all that mess fixed at the first of their relationship, she'd never had any reason to doubt another thing he'd said. But this girl, this Lucy, was making her extremely jealous. Jimmy had once told her that he'd had a crush on Lois and this girl who had her arms wrapped so snuggly around him now could easily be mistaken for a younger version of the famous reporter.
Jack's fists clenched against the fabric of the plush couch he was sitting on. To see another man with his arms around Lucy, even an old friend like Jimmy, made him see red. He'd just found her; he wasn't about to lose her now. Jack vaguely recalled Jimmy mentioning once that he and Lucy had gone out, and this thought made him all the more jealous of the hug that was passing between them.
Clark noticed the tension in the air and so clapped his hands together to break the spell before it went any farther.
"Well, guys, how about we go to the dining room? Dinner's ready and I'm starving."
"Yeah, me too, CK," Jimmy said, releasing Lucy from his embrace. He turned to Penny and put his arm around her waist and nuzzled her neck. "It's nothing, Honey," he whispered into her ear. "Stop staring daggers at her back — you know you're the one for me."
Penny flashed a bright smile at him, marveling at the fact that he knew her so well.
Jimmy smiled back, hugging her closer. He knew he'd made the right decision. Penny was the woman for him.
On the other side of the living room, Lucy turned to Jack as he stood up from the couch. She noticed his crestfallen expression and grabbed his hand, pulling him away from the others who were making their way into the dining room. "Jack," she whispered, "why don't we go out for coffee after dinner?" she asked hopefully, smiling up at him through her lashes.
Jack realized at that moment that this woman could ask him to walk on water and he'd drown trying. "Sure, Lucy, that'd be nice."
They walked into the dining room holding hands and joined the others who'd already sat down and were waiting for them to begin eating.
After Jack had held a chair out for Lucy, he sat down in the one beside it and inched it closer to Lucy.
Clark took in the action and inwardly smiled again. He was happy for his friends and their developing relationships. He longed for the chance to be happy in his *own* relationship again.
"So, CK," Jimmy began, jump starting the conversation. "Where's Lois?"
Lucy and Clark exchanged a knowing look. They'd each been holding their breath in anticipation of this question.
"Oh, um, well, she—" Clark began, faltering on the thought of lying to his friends. Admittedly, he lied to them daily about his 'superness' but this was somehow different. Yet, he didn't want to admit to them that he was having a lot of trouble in his marriage, trouble that not even he understood.
"Well, she …" Lucy started. "She's just not feeling very well," she said, shrugging her shoulders slightly at Clark. It wasn't a total lie. She obviously wasn't feeling all that well about much of anything at the moment.
"That's too bad," Jimmy muttered. He didn't buy that story for a second. He was no Lane, or a Kent for that matter, but even he could tell that something else was amiss.
He let the subject drop, though, not wanting to push his friend further than he wanted to go. He knew Clark would tell him what was the matter in his own time — he always did.
Everyone ate in amicable silence, admiring Clark's culinary skills. They purposely avoided mentioning Lois's absence again, and for this, Clark was grateful.
Soon their silence was interrupted by the phone ringing. The sound startled most of them and Clark rushed out of the dining room to get it.
"Clark? This is Klein. Sorry it's taken me so long to return your call, but after the debriefing I had to help an intern dissect this new formula that she'd run across on how to—"
Clark cleared his throat, trying to bring the scientist back to the subject at hand. "Dr. Klein?"
"Yes, I'm sorry. What was it you wanted to talk to me about?"
"Well," Clark began. "I was wondering, do you know anything about Postpartum Depression?"
"I'm no pyschologist, but that's what some women experience after the birth of their babies. Oh, wait, I have a book about that somewhere around here. I picked up some books about pregnancy after I found out about Lois. Ah, here it is! This is what the book says about it, Clark:
"*Along with symptoms similar to what some refer to as the 'baby blues,' such as weepiness, anxiety, and inability to sleep, women may also become moody or irritable. Women with Postpartum Depression might lose their appetite or have panic attacks. Some women feel that they cannot adequately care for their baby. Others report feeling suicidal, or having negative thoughts about their baby.*"
"Is that what you needed to know, Clark?"
Clark took in the information and realized that those symptoms didn't seem like what was wrong with Lois at all. She didn't have any adverse feelings about the baby — just him. "Yeah, Dr. Klein. You've been a lot of help."
"I'll talk to you later then, Clark."
Clark hung up the phone and joined his guests again, still puzzled over what was wrong with Lois.
Lois padded out of their bedroom, taking each step gingerly, afraid that Clark might pick up the soft sounds of her socks brushing along the floor with his super hearing.
She'd been off the offensive computer for hours and her own feelings were peering through the fog of demented thoughts Lex Luthor's son had implanted in her mind. She stood at the top of the stairs. If she strained, she could just barely hear her husband's deep voice. The sound was somehow comforting and she longed to go to him and wrap her arms around him and tell him that everything would be all right. But, there was that one nagging thought in the back of her mind that wouldn't let her. She knew she was leaving him tonight, knew that as sure as she knew she loved him, but for the life of her, she couldn't figure out why.
Clark sensed rather than heard Lois's presence on the stairs. He wanted to rush to her side and plead for her to forgive him and wrap his arms around her, letting their love wash away all the pain. He knew that at that moment, all of that was impossible. Something had changed between them.
He continued carrying on a conversation with his guests, but he was only half paying attention to them. He could *feel* her, feel her confusion, her pain. When he heard her soft footsteps tread carefully back to their room, he wanted to follow her. Dinner ended before he really even realized it had happened and soon his young callers were starting to leave.
"CK, dinner was superb. I haven't had a burger that good in ages," Jimmy gushed. He could tell his friend wasn't with them though. Clark was with Lois wherever she was.
"Yes, Clark," Penny said, "thanks so much for inviting me."
Lucy spoke next. "Clark, Jack and I are going out for coffee. Will everything be okay?" She asked him, wanting to assure herself that Clark and Lois were going to fare well.
"Yeah, Lucy, everything will be fine."
After Clark had shut the door behind them, he turned to go upstairs. He stopped just at the bottom, with his right foot on the first step. It'd been easy to think about talking with Lois about their problems, but actually walking upstairs and starting the conversation seemed to Clark like the hardest thing he'd ever had to do.
It'd have been much easier had he understood what he'd done. One minute he and his wife had the perfect marriage, the perfect relationship, and the next everything had shattered and fallen at his feet. Something was going on … if only he could figure out what.
He took the first tentative step and with each surface his foot connected, he gained strength until he found himself at the top of the stairs and then in front of their door. His sensitive hearing picked up the faintest sound and he heard that she was crying. Almost silent tears, but tears that seemed to come from deep within her soul and pull at that part of him that was celestially connected to her. Each sob he felt inside him and the tears felt like icy knives cutting through his heart.
He inched the door open and saw her lying in a fetal position on their bed, rocking gently back and forth. Her back was turned to him so he couldn't see her face. He went to the bed and sat down gently on his side and touched her arm.
She jumped at his touch, like she'd been burned by the contact of his skin meeting hers.
"Don't touch me," she said, her voice hoarse from the hours of crying.
"Lois, we need to talk." He tugged on her shoulder until she'd turned over onto her back and he could see into her eyes. Those eyes he'd always loved, always been mesmerized by, were full of the deepest anguish he'd ever seen in any living thing. To think that he'd caused her that kind of pain by something he couldn't even remember doing, wounded him to the very depths of his soul. He'd rather die than cause her any pain, and it took every ounce of strength he held in his magnificent body not to leave her now in an attempt to make her happy again.
"Clark," she began, "Please, I don't want to talk to you. I'm going downstairs to fix something to eat. I'd really rather you not follow me." She got off the bed and started towards the door. "There's no sense in fighting it, Clark" she said, turning back to face him. Looking into his eyes, those deep brown pools of light, she almost lost her nerve. But, she was under the influence of a strong subliminal message and no matter how hard she fought, she couldn't quite shake it. "I don't love you anymore."
Clark's worst fear had just become a reality. She'd finally decided he was just too different, the thought of being married to an alien had finally pushed her past the point of revulsion. For, that was what he saw in her eyes. She was repulsed by his presence. In a last effort to salvage the joyous times they'd had together he pleaded, "Lois, please, that can't be true—" his voice broke at the end as quick tears came to his eyes. He fought them back, wanting her to say how she truly felt and not be moved by his emotion.
"It is true, Clark." She walked out the door and shut it behind her.
Stunned, Clark fell back onto their bed. The Man of Steel felt like the wind had just been knocked out of him.
He lay there for what seemed like hours, every now and then x-raying through the floor to see what Lois was doing. She'd fixed some of the salad and was sitting on the couch working on the computer. The thought flitted through his mind that she'd been using it a lot more recently than she usually did. With all the other things on his mind, he was unable to draw a connection between her computer usage and her odd behavior.
His head shot up off the bed as he heard many voices raised in terror. Superman was needed. He wrestled with the urge to stay with her or go help what he could tell were hundreds of people somewhere across town. His super instincts won out, because it seemed that whatever disaster was evolving was horrendous.
He spun into the suit, took one last look down at his wife and Superman took to the sky.
Lois was typing away at the computer, even though she was sure she had no desire whatsoever to use it.
>Go to the corner of Bessolo and Grey, there you will meet your love, Lex >Luthor<
In an action akin to that of what her husband did when he was needed, her head shot up and she jumped off the couch and frantically ran up the stairs. She had thought to see Clark lying on the bed in their room and had he been there, he could have stopped her from making a terrible mistake. But his absence further pushed her away from him and she furiously threw clothes in a suitcase and then hurried down the hall to Jordan's room and threw some clothes in a diaper bag, sweeping the sleeping infant up into her arms.
She ran down the stairs and looked around the living room for a piece of paper. When she'd found one, she scrawled a note to Clark and left it in a place she was sure he'd see it when he came back from wherever he'd gone.
She then walked out of the door of 348 Hyperion Avenue, never once looking back and started the walk to Bessolo and Grey to meet her love.
Clark was desperately trying to clear occupants out of the Lexor Hotel. A raging fire burned through the building and it had spread quickly, before they'd even had the chance to evacuate one person.
Suddenly, he felt as if his heart had been ripped out of his chest, like he'd lost something that could never be replaced. He mentally shook himself and went back to work, not knowing that he'd just lost his wife and daughter, the two most important people in his life.
The walk to the meeting place took next to no time and soon she could see the silhouette of Lex Luthor.
He stepped into the beam of a street light and she could see his smiling face. He glanced quickly around him, always mindful that he was a wanted fugitive and could never be too careful.
"Hello, Lois, my love," he said, wrapping his arms around her. The sound of his voice sent shivers down her spine. He looked down at the baby in her arms. "Hello, beautiful," he said, "say hello to Daddy."
At his last words Lois felt as if a knife had been viciously slammed into her chest.
"Come with me, my darling," Lex said, taking her hand and leading her to an almost invisible door in the pavement. Had the door not been open, it would have been impossible to see it.
She followed him down a long staircase into a dimly lit corridor and finally they came to a room that looked as if someone had been living there.
She finally found her voice. "Where are we, Lex?"
"This is my temporary abode, my dear. Only until I can rise to power again and then I shall shower you with all the worldly goods your heart can fathom."
He led her to the corner of the room where there was a baby bed. It was a simple bed, hardly adorned and didn't look that sturdy.
"This is where our child will sleep, Lois." He looked at her then, trying to gauge her reaction to him referring to the baby in their arms as 'theirs.'
A guarded look crossed her face as she laid Jordan in the bed. "Thank you, Lex, for thinking of … Jordan." She said, unable to bring herself to say the child was his. Jordan was one of the main things Clark had wanted out of life and it hurt her beyond words to be taking her away from her father. But Lois loved Jordan too, and couldn't see leaving the baby with Clark.
Lex took her hand again and the more he touched her, the easier it began for her to enjoy his presence. That part of her brain that had been influenced started taking over and she slowly became the woman Lex wanted her to be.
"So, Lex, do you happen to have something more comfortable I could change into?" she asked coyly, lowering her lashes in a flirtatious manner.
Lex was startled by her change in demeanor. He decided not to question it however, he was too pleased with her almost willingness to be with him.
"Yes, my love." He took her hand again and led her to a side room, that she could tell he used as a closet. It was bare, save for a few men's clothes and almost garish women's attire.
Lois selected a robe, lined with imitation fur. She turned to Lex. "Would you be so kind as to allow me to change in private?" she asked. The voice was not her own, but more a mechanical incarnation of it. She couldn't figure out why she'd asked the man she loved to leave the room while she changed, but she just didn't feel comfortable with the thought of taking her clothes off in front of Lex.
It seemed that every fiber of her being was on Red Alert. She didn't understand it. She felt uneasy and repulsed at the very thought of being alone, in a room with Lex; yet every thought in her war-torn mind urged her to stay. All she could think of was Lex, loving Lex, but for the life of her, she couldn't understand why.
When she'd slipped the robe on after taking off her clothes, the transformation was almost complete. She didn't resemble Clark Kent's wife when she walked out of that closet, she looked more like the long ago alter ego she'd taken on, Wanda Detroit.
"My dear, you look stunning," Lex said when he saw her. He was lying on the bed, the only furnishing in the room except a beat up table, computer and one chair. "Come, join me," he said, indicating the empty space next to him.
She walked over and sat down on the bed, gingerly, feeling out of place crawling into bed with anyone except her husband. She scooted closer to Lex and before she could lay her head on his chest, he captured her mouth with his. It was a rough kiss, full of domineering passion and Lois was loathe to respond to it until that part of her brain kicked in that wouldn't give her a choice.
She kissed him with what to him must have felt like pent up desire, but was really desperation. They clung to each other like that for long minutes before Lois pulled herself away and laid her head on his chest.
Her mind was whirling, and she was having a hard time focusing on anything because her vision was blurred. The familiar feeling of a war going on within her head overtook her again and she closed her eyes in fear. She couldn't figure out what was happening to her.
"Lex?" She asked.
"Yes, my pet?"
"Tell me about what our life will be like together, where will we live?"
"Well, I thought we would go to the Alps. There I could hide out and set up a shell company to start regaining some of my power."
"We're going to leave Metropolis?"
"That's what I had in mind. The boy in blue won't rest until he's found us and I want to be as far away from here as I can get, to make that harder on him."
Lois shivered at the thought of leaving Metropolis forever.
At the Centennial Perk, a small coffee shop on the outskirts of the park, Jack and Lucy were sharing a large cup of coffee and talking quietly about their pasts.
"So, Lucy, what do you do now?" Jack asked, curious to know how she spent her days.
"Well, I just came back to Metropolis. I'm joining the Metropolis Police Department in the morning."
"You're what?!" Jack exclaimed.
"I'm a cop, Jack," she said as calmly as she could. "I'm starting with the force in the morning."
"Women shouldn't *be* cops," Jack ground the words out, worried about this fragile girl he'd just met being exposed to the criminal life of Metropolis.
"Women can *be* cops and they *are* cops, Jack!" she retorted. Throwing her napkin down on the table, she got up. "You're not who I thought you were, if you're closed minded enough to say something so… so… chauvinistic."
She rushed out of the cafe and Jack wanted desperately to go after her. But, he wasn't used to relationships or how to deal with women, so he decided against it. He paid the bill and headed home.
Clark stumbled into his house through the front door, the hours of exertion with the fire at the Lexor, having sapped nearly all of his strength. He didn't know that deep in the walls of the Lexor, Lex Luthor had stored Kryptonite years ago and through the smoke from the fire, he'd been exposed to hours of Kryptonite laced fumes.
"Lois!" he called after he shut the door. "Lois!" he called again, needing her presence, needing her to walk down the stairs and tell him that everything was going to be okay. Tell him that there really *was* nothing he could have done to save those two babies that had inhaled so much smoke that it had killed them. But, as expected, he was only met with Lucy rushing down the stairs to see if he was all right.
In his haste to get home, he'd forgotten to change out of the 'suit' and when Lucy rushed into the living room, she was met with Superman sprawled on her sister's floor.
"Superman?!" she exclaimed, bringing him out of the trance he'd fallen into and saving him from making yet another mistake with his 'secret' identity. "What are you doing here?"
"I … um," he stuttered, "Lois and Clark let me stay here when I need to rest. Do you think you could help me over to the couch?" he asked.
"Sure, Superman." she said and bent down and helped him lift himself off the floor.
She guided him to the couch where he collapsed in a heap.
"Is there anything else I can do for you, Superman?" she asked. She'd never spent much time around Superman, so she'd never had the chance to get over the initial awe of meeting the man so many people revered as a god in tights.
"No, Lu—" He caught himself, realizing Superman probably didn't know Lois's sister's name. Lucy didn't seem to notice. "No, I'll be fine."
"Okay," she said, reluctant to disagree with the superhero despite her reservations. She hurried back up the stairs to her room where she'd been having mixed feelings about her 'date' with Jack.
Clark lay there for a moment, trying to compose himself. He couldn't imagine what had happened, no other rescue had ever taken this much out of him unless he'd been exposed to Kryptonite. Pulling his thoughts away from his physical dilemma, he tried to x-ray through the ceiling to see what Lois was up to. Though his x-ray vision wasn't functioning too well, he saw almost instantly that she was gone and that she'd taken Jordan with her.
He rolled off the couch, trying to stand but his legs wouldn't support his weight. He fell back down and as he did, he noticed a note lying on the coffee table. He picked it up, already suspicious of what it said. But nothing could have prepared him for what the note really said.
I'm leaving you. I'm going to be with the person I've always wanted to be with. Lex has contacted me and now we can be together forever. Jordan is coming with me. Don't try to find us.
The note wasn't signed. Clark crumpled the paper in horror. If Lois was going to 'be' with Lex, and Lex was dead, did that mean she was going to kill herself and Jordan in order to be with that psychopath?
But then the thought occurred to him that maybe Lex *wasn't* dead after all. The tests that had been done on the rubble where he'd supposedly died had always been inconclusive and Clark had always held the thought in the back of his mind that this one hated enemy would rise again to cause him further heartache.
He realized he was really in no shape to go out and look for Lois and Jordan, but he couldn't just lay around while his wife and daughter were in the hands of that maniac. So, he walked out of the door and started looking for them on foot, the only way he was capable of at the moment.
A few hours later, the effects of the Kryptonite had worn off and he was again able to fly, able to soar through the clouds and look for his wife and daughter. He swept the city, x-raying every part of it he could. Suddenly, he noticed the lead-lined structure under Bessolo that he'd wondered about on previous trips over the city.
Willing to try anything, he landed softly beside the part of the street that had an obstruction to his vision. He bent down and felt around on the side walk until he felt the slightest indention in the concrete. He applied pressure to that spot and the concrete gave way, allowing him to get his hand in and pull the door off the hide-away.
He stepped down and walked slowly into a dimly lit corridor. He inhaled deeply as a familiar scent came to his attention. He smelled Lois's perfume. He'd found the right place! Which meant that Luthor was probably down here with her. The thought sent cold chills down Clark's spine. He plunged further into the corridor, which by the looks of it, used to be a fall out shelter. Up ahead he saw a light, but he'd yet to hear any voices, which was good. He wanted to surprise Luthor, before he had the chance to figure out what was going on.
He peeked around the corner and the sight he saw sent all the blood rushing to his face and a vein started pounding in his neck. He had to draw from every reserve of goodness in his body to not rush into that room and rip them both to pieces.
Lois and Luthor were kissing. Not *even* a 'nice to see you again' or a 'oh, you're my friend' kiss, but a kiss like Clark had shared so many times with Lois. Not that Lois had any reason to give Luthor any kind of kiss. Seeing her like this with that hideous creature hurt Clark more than anything she'd done so far.
He had flashbacks to the time when Lois had almost married Lex, when she'd told Clark, as Superman, 'If you had no powers at all, if you were just an ordinary man, leading an ordinary life, I would love you just the same.' She hadn't meant it then, Clark knew and he wondered if she'd ever come to mean it. In the dark recesses of his mind, he wondered if she'd really only agreed to marry him because she'd figured out he was Superman. He tried to shake that feeling off, but seeing the passion build between her and Luthor, was slowly killing the trust he had in her.
He went to make his move and was beside the bed in seconds, lifting Luthor off the bed and dangling him in the air.
When Lois saw Clark she screamed and tried to wrest his hand from around Lex's throat. "Please," she begged, "Don't hurt him, don't kill him."
It was the first time in Clark's life he'd ever had any desire to strike a woman, and to think he felt like striking Lois made him even more angry.
"See, Clark, see how she begs for my life?" Luthor said, even while his face was turning blue from lack of oxygen. He used 'Clark' to let his nemesis know that he did in fact remember *all* of his secrets. "She's always loved me." Luthor continued his tormenting spew. "She's always desired me. We were just using you. It was all part of the plan." Lex kept talking, forming the plan in his mind as he went. "We wanted her to pretend to love you, and marry you, then if at all possible, get pregnant with your child." Clark's hand tightened instinctively on Luthor's throat, but he continued speaking anyway. "All those times she said she loved you, she was just using you, Clark, using *you* for *me*. Didn't it ever occur to you why suddenly, Lois Lane, the self-proclaimed career woman wanted to have a child so badly?" Lex saw that he'd hit a nerve.
"Enough!" Clark screamed, throwing Luthor down on the bed in unrestrained anger. In all his years on this planet called Earth, he'd never been this angry. He saw Lois go to Luthor to soothe him and a white-hot rage spread through his body, like lava running through his veins. He jerked Lois off the bed, causing her to scream again and wriggle against his body to try and free herself. At other times, Lois's body pressed that close to his would have caused desire to run through him, but feeling her against him so soon after she'd been passionately entwined with Luthor, almost sent revulsion pulsing through him, even though his traitorous body came to life at her touch.
"Let me go!" she screamed and he thought vaguely that her voice sounded nothing like the one he'd grown to love.
"I'm never letting you go again, Lois, no matter what this maniac says. You're my *wife* and I will not let you stay with this lunatic again, I made that mistake once." He couldn't understand what was wrong with Lois. Surely, after everything they'd been through together, everything they'd shared, she had to be under some sort of mind control to be shutting him out like this.
"But, I *want* to stay, Clark. I told you I don't love you anymore. I love Lex. I want to be with Lex."
"See, Kent," Lex said, "everything I told you was true!"
Clark shut his eyes and tried to make himself not believe what he was hearing. It didn't matter how she felt, he wasn't leaving her with Lex, not this time. He scooped her up into his arms and she started kicking and screaming and beating her fists against his chest, the contact causing her more pain than it did him. She was struggling so roughly and his thoughts were on so many things, that she managed to wriggle out of his grip and fall back to the bed. She scooted away from him as quickly as possible and when she reached Lex, they both bounded from the bed.
Lex grabbed a knife from the table, "Stay away from us, Kent!"
Clark laughed at his stupidity. "You know a knife can't hurt me, Luthor!"
"No, you're right, but it can hurt her!" he screamed and held the knife to her throat.
He saw the Man of Steel wince as the metal came in contact with the delicate skin of Lois's throat and knew he had the bait to get himself out of here alive.
"Lex, what are you doing?" Lois asked, fearful of the man she claimed to love.
"I'm doing what is necessary to get us out of here, my pet. Even after everything we've told him, the fool still loves you and he'll go to any means to save you from getting hurt, and if that means letting me leave with you, then he'll let me."
"That's not true, Luthor. I'd rather she die than spend a lifetime with you." The scene flashed through Clark's mind of the time when Lois had been held captive by another Luthor and what he'd had to do to get her out of that situation. If it came down to it, if there was no other way to get her away from Luthor, he'd do it again.
"Let her go, Luthor."
"No," Lex said in the voice of a spoiled child who refused to give up his most prized toy. Clark knew that children like that would often keep a toy just to spite another child that wanted to play with and cherish the toy. Then the spoiled child would destroy the toy in an attempt to prove that they owned it. Clark wasn't going to let Luthor destroy Lois, even if she didn't love him anymore.
"Well, if that's the way you want it then, that's the way it has to be," Clark told him.
Clark waited until Lois had her eyes closed and in that millisecond, he focused his freezing super breath on her body and froze her in the manner he'd done on two other occasions.
Before Lex could throw her down and break her, Clark zipped across the room, took her out of his arms and laid her gently on the bed.
"You've killed her!" Lex exclaimed, looking at the frozen body of his love on the bed. "My God, man, you're insane!" he said, taking in his archenemy in a new light. He'd never thought Clark had it in him to do anything so drastic. Maybe he'd underestimated him after all.
Clark super sped back to Lex and picked him up off the ground. Then, glancing around the room, he realized there was no way to tie him up. He knew that time was short and he needed to get Lois thawed before any permanent damage was done. Clark saw Lois's robe had a belt, that seemed to be made out of pretty strong material, so he dropped Luthor to the ground and went to her and made quick work of the belt, making sure to shield any exposed skin from Luthor's lascivious gaze. He then turned his attention back to Luthor.
"Lie down!" he said.
"I will not."
Clark's eyes turned a frightening shade of red, which reminded Lex that he wasn't up against a mere mortal foe, but one who'd have no problem at all causing his death. He reluctantly complied, lying down on the ground.
"Turn over," Clark said.
Lex again did what he was told, not wanting to incur the wrath of a man who'd just murdered his own wife — a wife he'd professed to love more than life itself.
Clark tied Lex's feet and hands together and making sure that he couldn't get away, picked Lois and Jordan up and flew them out of the fall-out shelter.
In the nearest alley he could find, he laid Lois down on the pavement. He placed his still sleeping infant beside her mother and then took both of Lois's hands in his. He then focused a beam of heat vision on her icy body. The red beam engulfed her almost fragile body and soon the ice started to melt away and she again resembled a living human. However, she didn't start breathing nor did her heartbeat pick up its usually steady rhythm.
"Come on, Baby," he whispered. "We've done this before, too many times, but we have. You've gotta come back to me, Lois. Whether you love me or not, you can't leave me."
He bent down and touched his lips to hers, trying to breathe life into her still blue lips.
After a couple of seconds, she gasped, "Get away from me! Where's Lex?"
"That doesn't matter Lois." He gathered her in his arms despite her protests. "All that matters is that you're here with me and that I'm never letting you go again. Whatever Lex had done to you to make you turn from me, we can fix it Lois. We can get through this, just like we always have."
A deep, hidden part of Lois started to respond to his touch and his kind words. She could hear his voice rumbling deeply in his broad chest and it brought back feelings that had been beaten down by Lex's scheme. But the tranquil mood didn't last long, as Clark said the one word that triggered the domino affect of the subliminal messages. As they spread through her mind like wild fire, she pushed away from him. Her mind was telling her to go along with whatever Lex said, that Lex was right and so, she did the only thing her mind would let her.
"Let me go, Clark. Can't you see, don't you know? *I* don't want you anymore. It's nothing Lex has done, it's *my* decision. It's like Lex said, Clark, I never loved you, we just used you. You know that I was always more interested in your super powers than anything else. I wanted to have a baby that would have those powers, and now, with Jordan, I have a very real chance of that. But, I just can't stand to be around you anymore. I need a powerful man. Not like you, you're blessed with these great abilities, but that doesn't make you powerful. Lex is powerful. He's the man I want."
Many emotions played across his handsome face in the minutes that Lois dealt that cruel speech. Anger, hopelessness, denial and then fear. Fear like he'd never felt before. He was afraid, afraid that it wasn't some mind control she was under but that this was the way she actually felt, had always felt. He wouldn't let himself give into his emotions though, not if it meant losing the chance to get his Lois back. For the person in front of him barely resembled her even in looks any more. He felt surely that she'd been brainwashed somehow and he figured the best way to find out what was going on was to take her to Woodland Heights Hospital and have her admitted to the mental ward. But, making that decision and getting her to adhere to it were two different matters and he had to hurry, because he still had Luthor tied up in that fall out shelter and he wasn't quite through with him yet.
"Lois," he said, picking Jordan up and standing himself. "We need to take Jordan home. It's cold and she needs to be in her own bed."
Lois's concern for her daughter was evident in her deep brown eyes, but there was also that uncertainty, that feeling that she needed to go back.
"I have to go back for Lex, he *needs* me," she cried.
She stood up and realized that her robe was no longer belted together. She hastily pulled the two sides together, covering her body.
"No, Lois," he said, grabbing her arm. "*We* have to take our child home. *She* needs you." He started pulling her in the direction of their townhouse.
The walk home was quiet, Lois was looking around, trying to avoid her husband at all costs and Clark was soothing Jordan who'd started crying.
"Lois," he began, "When was the last time you fed Jordan?"
"Not that it's any of your concern, since *I'm* more than capable of taking care of my child, but it was not long before you busted into Lex's."
Clark noted the fact that she'd called the place they'd just come from 'Lex's' and having done so, indicated a subconscious thought that Luthor's place had not been *her* home. But, it also sank in *exactly* what she'd said. "You mean, you … he … you …" he stuttered at the thought of Luthor eyeing his wife's well endowed bosom. When he'd composed himself he said, "You mean you let him *see* you feed Jordan? Let him see your …" his voice trailed off leaving the obvious next word unsaid.
"Yes, Clark, he did. I told you, I'm capable of taking care of my child and she needed to be fed. It wasn't anything sensual, not that it's any of your business."
Clark had to bite back a sarcastic remark and decided instead to say, "I know that you're capable of taking care of her, Lois, but I'm her father and I have every right to be concerned." He wanted to reinstate his position and let Lois know at the same time that whatever plans she had to take Jordan away from him were never going to work. He wasn't going to give up his daughter and he wasn't going to give up Lois if there was any way to keep from doing so.
"Whatever," she muttered as she walked up the steps of their brownstone.
Clark followed closely behind her, not wanting to let her out of his sight for fear she'd run back to Luthor's hideaway.
Lucy was sitting in the living room, reading the note on the table. When she saw her sister walk in followed by Superman she said, "Omigod! Lois! I was *so* worried about you. Where have you been? How could you run back to that madman?" Lucy gathered her sister in her arms for a big hug. She'd been so scared that she'd never see her again.
"I'm fine Lucy. There's no need to freak out. Yes, I was with Lex. That's where I should be right now, but Cl—" she stopped before she called Superman, Clark. Even though the subliminal messages were deep set, they didn't get to that part of her that protected her husband's secret at all costs.
The omission of his real name didn't escape Clark's notice and he thanked the heavens that there was still a part of Lois that cared about him enough to keep his secret. He turned his attention back to Lois as she continued to explain things to Lucy.
"… but Superman thought it necessary to rescue me or something even after I told him that I didn't want to leave Lex," she glanced at her husband to emphasize her next words, "that I didn't want to be with Clark, he wouldn't listen to me. So, he insisted on dragging me out of there against my will and leaving poor Lex tied up on the floor."
Lucy stared at her sister in horror. She knew that Lois loved Clark more than life itself. It had been evident in every action, every word she'd spoken since all those years ago when Lois had allowed herself to realize she loved him. To hear words coming out of Lois's mouth that implied she wanted to leave Clark for *Lex Luthor* of all people, left Lucy gaping, her mouth hanging open in shock.
"Stop looking at me like I've grown another head, Lucy, and get out of my way." Lois pushed past her sister and entered her home, starting for the stairs.
Clark caught back up with her in seconds and took a firm grip on her arm.
"Where are you going, Lois?"
"I'm going upstairs to change, then I'm going back to Lex." She flung the words at him, trying unsuccessfully to wrench her arm from his grasp.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to put a kink in your plans on that one, Lois," he told her. He then turned his attention to Lucy. "Ms. Lane?"
"Yes, Superman?" Lucy asked, her confidence building in his presence now that she'd been around him more.
"I'm wondering, could you watch the Kents' baby while I take your sister somewhere? I think Lois has had some sort of head trauma and I want to get her to a hospital as soon as I can." He talked about Lois as if she wasn't there, not because he didn't care for her enough to acknowledge her presence, but to keep his true feelings about his wife hidden from her sister in order to ensure she didn't figure out all that was going on.
When Lois heard 'hospital' she increased the struggling against his hold on her, desperately trying to get away from him.
"Please, Ms. Lane," he continued speaking to Lucy, who only nodded to signal her willingness to watch the baby. "Take Jordan," he said, handing her the baby. When he was sure she had a firm grip on the infant, he scooped Lois up into his arms and rushed out of the house.
The entire trip to the hospital was spent with Lois beating any part of Clark she could reach and trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to get away from him. He thought she must have surely lost her mind to want to get away from him so badly as to risk falling from the sky.
"Lois, be still. You're making it hard for me to keep altitude."
"I don't care! I don't want to go to the hospital, I'm not crazy. The only reason you think I am is because I want to leave you and *that's* pretty crazy on your part. Millions of women leave their husbands everyday and they don't get admitted to the hospital for 'head trauma.' You must think highly of yourself if you think the only reason a woman would leave you is because she'd been bumped on the head!"
She said all this in one breath and for just a split second Clark got a glimpse of his Lois in full Lois-babble and even though she was basically demeaning his character, it was good to hear her talk again and not ramble on like a machine. Clark figured he'd been right. He was almost certain now that she was under some sort of mind control that Luthor had cooked up and the closer they came to the hospital, the more hopeful he became that he'd be able to find a doctor there who would know how to get these thoughts out of Lois's head and get her back to normal.
In the fall-out shelter across town, Lex was struggling against his bonds while desperately calling into the air, in hopes that his son would hear him.
No answer. He couldn't imagine where that … that *brat* could be at this most crucial moment, but it seemed that his son obviously thought he had better things to do than wait around for Lex to call. That settled something in Lex's mind. From that day forward, he'd have no further use for his 'son' and if Jaxon ever tried to contact him again, Lex would do his best to have his brain erased from the computer system forever.
A few more tugs and swift hand movements found Lex free from the temporary prison he'd been in and again on his feet.
As he walked out of the shelter, he didn't look back, and again, Lex Luthor faded into the night.
Superman touched down in front of Metropolis's Woodland Heights Hospital and as soon as he'd set Lois on the ground, she took off running in the opposite direction. He zipped around in frront of her, held out his arm and she ran into them.
"Let me go!" she yelled and passer-by started looking at their resident super hero like he was assaulting the woman he held in his arms.
He spoke to the crowd. "It's okay folks, everything's under control. Ms. Lane is not quite herself and needs to be taken into the hospital for treatment." Without saying anything further, he hoisted Lois up over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, her head hanging upside down behind his back.
He carried her into the hospital, despite her many heated protests and the numerous expletives she was muttering and when they reached the nurses' station, all the nurses ran toward him, anxious to figure out what was going on.
"Superman?" the first one who reached him asked.
"Yes, Ms.—" he glanced at her name tag, "Ms. Ward. I have Lois Lane here, I believe she's been put under some sort of mind control and been brainwashed by an escaped convict. I need to have her admitted to the mental ward for evaluation."
"Well, Superman, the only one that can do that is a next of kin." The nurse informed him, but seeing the flailing form of Ms. Lane, the well known reporter, she offered, "But, considering her condition, I can sedate her until a family member can get here. Would that be all right?"
"Oh, yes, that would be fine. As soon as you do, I'll go get her husband." Clark sat Lois down on her feet, but she immediately started running for the door.
"Ms. Ward? I think I may have to restrain her until you can get that sedative."
Nurse Ward took in the scene of the fleeing reporter being chased by the handsome super hero, whose cape was billowing behind him, with a bit of amusement. This was probably one of the funniest things she'd ever seen in her hospital. Bringing herself out of her temporary reverie, she realized that whatever was wrong with Ms. Lane might be deadly serious and rushed to the supply room to get a vial of sedative and a syringe. She ran back out into the reception area where she saw Superman still struggling with the reporter.
"I've got it Superman!" she said and hurried to his side. She filled the syringe with the liquid sedative and then tapped it twice.
"You … you can't *do* this to me!" Lois yelled and everyone in the waiting room that hadn't already been watching the scene in rapt attention, took notice.
Clark had a hard time keeping her in check even with his superpowers, so hell-bent was she to get out of his grasp and back to her supposed love. But he held on and the nurse brought the syringe down and injected the sedative into Lois's flailing body.
Within what seemed to Clark like only seconds, Lois's eyes started to droop and he carried her over to a waiting wheelchair.
"I'll put her in a room until her husband gets here and tells us what he'd like to be done," the nurse told him.
Clark took one last look at his wife's tear streaked face, looking deeply into the eyes of the woman he loved more than he'd ever thought he'd love anyone in his life. What he saw there scared him, but he wasn't giving up. He loved her too much to ever give up on her … on them.
Superman walked out of the hospital, a heavy weight on his shoulders, making his usually strong, confident form, look like a dejected little boy who'd just lost his baseball privileges. He took to the sky, flying back to Lex's lair, ready to take out his frustrations on the skinny body of the madman.
Clark arrived at the hide out on Bessolo in mere minutes, so anxious was he to get back to Luthor.
When he walked into the room and found it empty, he couldn't believe his eyes. Luthor had gotten away — again! Clark couldn't believe he'd been stupid enough to think that a mere cloth belt would be able to hold one of the most renowned criminals who ever lived. A whole building shattering on top of him hadn't even been able to stop him so it really came as no surprise, now that Clark thought about it, that Lex had gotten away this time as well.
'I let my feelings cloud my thoughts,' he said to himself. But he realized it'd been what was necessary and if he had the entire situation to do over again, he'd do it in a heartbeat. Lois and Jordan were the two most important things to him in the world and their safety came before any deep set feelings of revenge he held against Luthor.
Clark looked around the room and noticed a desktop computer on a desk with a chair in front of it, indicating it must have been Luthor's workstation.
Clark sat down in the chair and booted up the computer, marveling at Lex's ability to have electricity in this old abandoned building. That the man could do *anything* never ceased to amaze Clark.
Clark started searching documents and programs on the computer, not sure of what he was looking for, but assuming that whatever it was, it would be something illegal.
What he did find after long minutes of searching was a mind control program, that was hooked up to work on Lois's laptop computer.
"I knew it!" Clark yelled, jumping up from the table and knocking the chair over in the process. He knew that there had to be some very logical reason for Lois's sudden change in character and he'd been right. He'd been right to believe in her, in their love. Lois would never willingly turn away from him, he should have realized that from the first. They'd been through too much and Clark *knew* as well as he knew that he was Superman that Lois loved *him.* It'd been a long time since he'd been this happy and as he rushed out of the lair and flew toward the hospital, it was with a light heart. It wouldn't be long until he had Lois back and they could go on with their lives and enjoy being in love and having a daughter again.
He landed outside the hospital yet again and darted behind a tree. After looking around to make sure that no one would see his quick change, he spun out of the suit and into his Clark clothes, then headed for the front doors of the hospital. He glanced down at his watch, it was 4 am! He'd have to call Perry soon and let him know that Lane and Kent weren't going to be able to come into the office for a while. He also needed to call Lucy to make sure that everything was all right with Jordan, but first, he needed to get into the hospital and get some sort of treatment started on Lois. As the big glass doors slid back, admitting him into the hospital, he heard thunder in the distance.
As the large doors slid soundlessly shut behind him, a heavy down pour unleashed itself from the rain swelled clouds, drenching all of Metropolis, as lightning and the thunder that followed, lit up the night with its melodious display.
He walked up to the nurses' station, that he'd seen only minutes ago as Superman, thinking to himself that he and Lois had spent far too much time in hospitals over the years they'd known each other.
He noticed nurse Ward talking on the phone and tried hard to keep the hint of recognition out of his eyes as he waited for her to end her conversation. When she'd finished talking, she placed the phone back in the receiver and looked up at the handsome young gentleman in front of her.
"Can I help you, Sir?" she asked, careful as always to keep her voice cheerful, yet sympathetic. She met so many people who were without hope that she tried her hardest to make sure they had a kind and thoughtful nurse to deal with.
"Yes, ma'am." Clark smiled, warming to her efforts to make him feel more at ease.
"I'm Clark Kent. Superman was in here a while ago and brought in my wife. When I talked to him, he said that she was under some sort of mind control and he thought I needed to have her admitted to the mental ward."
"Ah, yes, Mr. Kent. I've put your wife in a room where she could sleep comfortably." She stood, walked around the counter and took Clark by the arm, noting in a far recess of her mind, how strong, but gentle this man seemed. The lovely, mixed-up girl she'd seen earlier sure was lucky. "If you'll follow me, I'll show you to her room."
Clark followed the nurse down a couple of dimly lit halls, that reeked of that smell that can only be called 'hospital.' Though the walk was a short one, to Clark it seemed to take forever, he was so eager to get to his wife's side.
When Nurse Ward finally opened the door to a small room, Clark was relieved to see Lois sleeping soundly, curled in a ball on her side. She looked so fragile, so breakable and the sight pulled at his heart, as all thoughts of the hateful words she'd said fled in the knowledge that they hadn't been her words, but the words of a demented man, who lived for nothing but evil.
Ms. Ward let go of his arm and silently went back down the hall, sensing that he needed to be alone with his wife for some time before he made the decision to have her committed.
Clark inched into the room, one small step at a time, and shut the door behind him. As he got closer, he noticed the large, dark circles under Lois's eyes, and the remnants of dried tears still on her face. Clark could honestly say, that to him, she'd never looked more radiant, more beautiful, because he knew that soon everything would be all right.
'That is,' he thought cynically, 'until the next time some madman makes it his life's goal to destroy the fragile thread of happiness Lois and I cling to so desperately.' Sometimes he just wanted to scoop Lois and Jordan into his arms and fly away, away from all the crime, all the evil and away from even Superman. He wanted to shuck it all and just live out the rest of his days without adversity. But he knew, as sure as he knew he loved the tiny woman who was engulfed by the size of the hospital bed, that he'd never be able to do that. The world needed Superman, as Lois had told him on so many occasions. And he realized that Lois Lane and Clark Kent needed Superman as well. He wouldn't be the man Lois fell in love with if he gave up what he believed in just because he was afraid that one day something horrible and irrevocable might strike down someone he loved. And he *was* afraid, he begrudgingly admitted to himself.
He shook his head at that thought, almost as if the mere word disgusted him. 'If people only knew,' he thought, letting his head fall down into his hands. If they only knew that the Man of Steel was nothing but a coward in a cape, then they wouldn't revere him as some God sent to this planet to help, but they'd view him as nothing more than a laughingstock, someone who preached about justice and hope, but was afraid to risk emotional pain in order to have those things himself.
He sat there for a long while, wallowing in the worst bout of self pity and loathing he'd ever experienced. The only thing that brought him out of it was Lois starting to wriggle around on the bed, moaning in what seemed to be some indistinguishable pain. He took her hand in his and inwardly cringed as she cried out Luthor's name over and over.
Clark knew he had to make a decision about her treatment. He knew that even the nurse he'd talked to, Ms. Ward, had thought it best to have her committed, even though she hadn't come right out and said it. He didn't want to even contemplate thinking about the last time he'd had Lois institutionalized for 'brain washing.' Images of Maxwell Deter, who had reminded Clark so much of Lex Luthor, flashed through his mind. Lois coming into the Planet and telling everyone that she was quitting and moving to the South of France with Deter. 'And,' Clark laughed bitterly, 'all that had been Lex Luthor's fault too.'
But, he knew what had to be done. There was no use fighting it, in order for him to get Lois back, he had to do it. 'God,' he prayed, 'just let her have a lady psychiatrist this time.' And catching himself, because he wanted to be covered by this prayer for all the things that could go wrong, he added, 'one who's sane.'
Clark leaned over and pushed the button beside the bed that would summon the nurse and again, the kindly nurse he'd met earlier came to his aide.
"How can I help you, Mr. Kent?" She asked.
"I'm going to have her admitted to the psychiatric ward. Is there something I need to sign?"
"Oh, yes, if you'll just follow me back down to the reception area, we'll get all the paperwork filled out and get treatment started as soon as possible."
Clark started for the door, but looked back one more time.
"She'll be fine, Mr. Kent. Everything's going to be fine."
He wanted to believe that so much and made a silent vow that from that moment forward, he would.
After all the necessary paper work was filled out, nurse Ward asked Clark who he'd like for a psychiatrist.
"Well, that all depends," he said, knowing full well that if one of them was named Deter, no matter if they were related to Maxwell Deter or not, he wouldn't pick that one. He also didn't want to trust and pick 'the best one for the job' again, either. Everyone knew where that had gotten them last time. "Who do you have on staff?"
She glanced down at her computer screen and punched a few buttons. "We have Dr. Cook—"
"Would you mind giving first names as well," he asked, interrupting her and giving her a sheepish look.
She merely tilted her head to the side and started reading again. "We have Dr. Elton Cook, Dr. Jefferson Williams, Dr. Cain Waren and Dr. Karen Waren."
At the name 'Karen Waren,' Clark's ears perked up, as he realized that he recognized that name. 'That's the doctor who helped the Alternate Lois and Clark save Lois's life.' To the nurse he said, "That one. Dr. Karen Waren."
"All right, Dr. Karen, it is. I just have to tell you, Mr. Kent, you've made a wise choice, Dr. Karen and her brother-in-law, Cain, are some of the finest doctors I've ever had the chance to meet."
"Oh, I'd assumed they were married, having the same last name and all."
"No, no, Dr. Karen is married to Cain's twin brother, Dean. Dr. Cain is married to a lovely little lady named Maggie."
Clark nodded and though he seemed to only barely be taking in what the nurse was saying, he was listening in rapt attention. He was eager to know all he could about the woman who he'd entrust with Lois's care.
"I wanted to ask you one more thing, Ms. Ward," Clark said.
"Yes? I'll be happy to help you with anything I can."
"Do you think it'd be possible to have someone in the maternity section watch our daughter? We just had her few weeks ago and I don't want Jordan to be separated from us too much."
"Sure, that wouldn't be a problem at all. I'll even look in on the wee one >from time to time, in case you need to do something while your wife is in treatment," the friendly nurse offered.
"You're a lifesaver," he told her and flashed a bright grin that made the nurse's knees turn weak.
Metropolis Woodland Heights Hospital — Room 119 6:57 a.m.
Clark was glancing around at the new room they'd just moved Lois into, pondering how different things were between he and Lois from when they'd had Jordan. Lois was sleeping again, she'd woken up only briefly and being very confused by her surroundings, had tried to escape. Dr. Waren had prescribed more sedative until such time she could examine Lois.
Clark picked up the phone from the bedside table and sat it in his lap. He figured he had quite a few calls to make, and now seemed as good a time as any.
The first number he dialed, after checking the time on his watch, was the Daily Planet. He thought that Perry would already be in the office, as he usually made it in by 6 a.m. everyday. Even if Clark couldn't talk to Perry, he could leave a message for him and that would at least be one thing out of the way.
After a few rings, a gruff voice picked up the phone. "Daily Planet?"
"Yeah, this is Perry. Clark, Son, is that you?" the elder gentleman asked, concern starting to creep into his voice as he thought of what could cause one of his star reporter's to call into work at this hour.
"Yeah, Perry, it's me," Clark said and paused a minute, trying to string together his thoughts before going on. At the sound of his editor's voice, Clark almost gave into the tide of emotions he'd so studiously held back. He hadn't let himself break down, had actually never given into his emotions and had a good cry, but just hearing the emotion and concern in Perry's voice almost did him in.
"What's wrong? What's the matter?" Perry asked, almost afraid of what he might hear this time. So many things had gone wrong for the two young people he considered his surrogate children, that usually it came as no surprise anymore when one more thing happened. But, after all they'd been through, Perry's heart still almost burst every time he found out something else had been done to Lois or Clark.
"Well, Perry, it's a long story and I'm not sure just where to start."
"Just start from the beginning, Son, and go from there."
"A couple of days ago, heck, I'm not sure what day it is now so I'm not really sure when all this started—"
"Son, you're starting to babble, just like Lois," Perry pointed out with a hint of amusement.
Clark laughed, for the first time in days, a real laugh, from deep within. He proceeded to tell Perry about Lois's strange behavior and subsequent 'kidnapping' by Lex Luthor.
"Well, Son, don't you think we oughta print up a story about all this? Let the world know that Lex Luthor is alive and still at large?"
"You know, Chief, I hadn't even thought of that until now. You're right though, we should do that. Do you think you could come up with something from what I've told you, Perry? I think I'm just too close to this story to be able to look at the whole thing objectively."
"Yeah, Son. I'll have it in the morning edition. Maybe Lex is still around and someone will spot him."
"Thanks, Chief. I'll keep you posted on Lois's condition."
"You do that. And tell her we love her, that is, when she'll wanna hear it."
Clark hung up the phone, contemplating calling Lucy. He wasn't sure if it'd be too early. Then it hit him! Lucy had to go to work today!
He picked up the phone again and hastily dialed his home number. It wasn't long before a very groggy voice answered the phone, a voice that sounded so much like Lois's when she woke up that it was uncanny.
"He'o?" she mumbled, her brain not yet ready to form the entire word, especially after a night taking care of her sister's baby, a baby who was none too pleased to be drinking refrigerated breast-milk.
"Lucy? It's Clark."
She came fully awake, finally getting someone on the line who she could voice her frustrations to. "Where in the *world* have you been, Clark? I love Jordan and I love my sister, but I'm really not cut out to take care of a baby. Especially, when I have no idea where the parents are, or when they'll be back, or if they're dead or—"
"Lucy?" he asked, almost dumbfounded by the similarity to Lois when she went off on one of her tangents.
"Don't tell me I'm babbling. I *know* I'm babbling. Where's Lois? Is she all right? Why haven't you called me before now?" She glanced at the clock on the bedside table, "Omigod! I have to be at work in an hour and forty-five minutes! What can I do with Jordan? Where are you?"
Clark just listened to Lucy, as he'd learned on so many occasions with Lois, that was really all that was needed when a Lane woman went into what Clark referred to as 'babble mode.' He knew that as soon as she wore down, he'd have his chance to talk. When he found a break in her conversation, he piped up, "We're at Woodland Heights Hospital. I've had Lois admitted. Lex Luthor had her under mind control and we need to get her deprogrammed."
"Oh, God, Clark that's awful! Is she going to be all right?"
"Yeah, everything's going to be fine, Lucy. Do you think you could bring Jordan by here on your way to work?"
"Sure, Clark, Woodland's just right down the road from the precinct. I'll be there as soon as I can. Oh, I meant to tell you the next time we talked, your Mom called and left a message on the machine, she wanted you to call her. Bye!"
As soon as Lucy'd hung up the phone, Clark clicked the button that would disconnect the line again and dialed the number for his parents in Smallville. Before one ring could sound though, he slammed the phone down, realizing that it was a couple of hours earlier where his parents were and even though life on the farm started early, they were more than likely still asleep. There was no use waking them up, it really wasn't an emergency any more, everything was pretty much under control.
Clark sat the phone back on the bedside table and leaned his head back on the headrest of the chair, closing his eyes. He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept and with the tension of almost losing Lois, the fire at the Lexor and what he felt was Kryptonite exposure, he was bone weary. That, coupled with the soothing sounds of the thunderstorm outside, lulled him into much needed sleep.
Dr. Karen Waren was sitting behind a large mahogany desk, leafing through the file of her latest patient. If she hadn't been reading it with her own eyes, and had someone not just told her about it, she would have never believed all the things that had happened to this woman.
Dr. Waren figured there'd be a lot of things to work through, and she thought the best place to start would be with the husband.
She picked up her phone and dialed the extension for room 119. The phone rang for a while, and just as she was about to hang up, a sleep heavy voice picked up.
That voice sounded so close to one she'd heard every morning since she'd been married, that it threw her for a loop. She almost felt she'd dialed the wrong extension and somehow gotten her home number.
"Hello? This is Karen Waren. Is this—" she glanced down at her file, searching for the name, "Mr. Kent?"
"Yes, Dr. Waren—"
"Please, call me Karen."
"Yes, Karen, this is Clark Kent. Are you ready to start treatment on Lois?" he asked the doctor. Her voice was friendly and soothing. From the second she'd started talking, Clark had good feelings about her. He just *knew* that this woman would do all in her power to help them, just like her counterpart in the Alternate world had done for the other version of Lois and Clark.
"Well, not just yet. I was wondering if you could come to my office for a while. I'm in room 511." She could hear the pain in his voice, pain that she knew came from deep within. She'd been right to want to start with him; there was a lot of emotion inside him waiting to come to the surface.
"Sure, I'll be there as quick as I can." He hung up the phone, took a lingering look at Lois and then went in search of the doctor who'd given him his life back.
When he found the room, he knocked softly.
The voice he'd heard only moments before on the phone, said, "Come in!"
He walked into Dr. Waren's office. It wasn't your typical psychiatrist office — didn't have a couch in sight. It was 'homey' without being unprofessional, done in shades of burgundy and rose. Definitely a woman's office, but not so 'girly' as to make a man feel out of place.
He found the doctor sitting behind a large desk, jotting down notes on a piece of paper. She looked up and motioned him over, indicating he should sit in one of the chairs at the side of the room.
After a few more minutes, she gathered together a few things and then joined him, sitting in the chair to the right of his.
When she sat down, she got a good look at him and was shocked to be looking into a pair of eyes almost identical to those of her husband and his twin brother. She extended her hand to shake his.
"It's remarkable how much you look like my husband," she said. Picking up a small silver framed picture from the table beside her, she showed him what she meant. "This is a picture of me and my husband, Dean, his twin brother, Cain and his wife, Meg. See the resemblance? You could pass for one of them easily."
Clark took the small framed picture and examined it closely. She was right — these two men looked strikingly like him without his glasses. However, with the way they had their hair fixed, they didn't look the least bit like Clark did when he was Superman. They were somewhere in between — a mixture of Clark's looks with and without his glasses. It was eerie. But it was said that everyone had a twin and, in this case, it seemed he had two. "You're right," he said, when he found his voice. "They do look a lot like me." Then changing the subject, he said, "I must admit, doctor, I'm a bit curious as to why you wanted to see me and not get right to work on Lois."
She'd anticipated this question when she'd first asked him to her office, so she said, "Well, Mr. Kent, it's been my experience that the longer a patient stays away from the object of the mind control, the more the patient's own feelings and thoughts start creeping in and taking over. If we keep Lois away from the object that was controlling her, then as more of her own emotions start peeking through the rubble that's in her mind, the easier it'll be for us to break through and go on to complete recovery." She saw him take in all of this with complete interest, absorbing the details of her explanation like a sponge. She could tell he was a very intelligent man and that he cared deeply about his wife and wanted to do what was best for her above all else.
Clark nodded. "I can understand that. But, why did you want to see me?"
"Well," she began, "it's my understanding that you and your wife have been through some pretty emotional experiences over the years. I also understand that this isn't the first time Lois has had to be admitted for treatment. I thought you could fill me in on a little bit of the history, give me a better understanding of all that Lois has been through." She purposely avoided telling him that she felt *he* needed to get some of these feelings out of him. She could see in his eyes that she was right. He held a lot in, much like her own husband, and needed some help getting it out.
"Sure, I'd be more than happy to help. Where would you like me to start?"
She glanced down at her chart and flipped to the front. "Would you mind telling me a little about the time your wife almost married Lex Luthor?" She saw the pained expression cross his face, even though he tried to hide it. She waited until he got his emotions under control and then he started speaking.
"That was a long time ago …" he said in a way to make her think that to him it seemed like an entirely different world, but a world that was just close enough to haunt him. He seemed to get past something — some inner battle — and then continued, "I don't think Lois actually loved Lex. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe the power, maybe she was feeling rejected." He shook his head. He'd never really come to terms with all that went on those few months. When he and Lois had started over, after the Planet had been rebuilt, he didn't think he needed to. But, this doctor had just shown him different. There were some issues he still had about Lois and Lex that had to be settled or they'd silently tear him apart.
He cleared his throat, took a deep breath and began again. "I think it was that. I think she felt rejected by …" he stopped before he revealed too much. "By this guy we both knew. What I told her didn't help either. I just sorta dumped my feelings for her inn her lap and I know that must have scared her."
"Why'd you do that?" Karen asked, glad that he was finding a way to open up about all this.
"I was scared too. I was scared I was losing her to that … to Luthor. I should have told her how I felt before he had the chance to ask her to marry him. She might not have been ready to accept it, but at least it would have been out there for her to think about. If I had only told her, she might—" He stopped, the guilt he'd had buried inside for years overtaking him.
Karen noticed this and urged him to go on, "She might what, Clark?"
He still hesitated. He hadn't ever admitted it to himself, and it was hard for him to come out and say what he'd felt deep inside for so long. "She might never have gone out with him and then everything he's ever done to her might never have happened," he whispered, in a barely audible voice.
"Clark, you can't keep blaming yourself for what Lex Luthor has done to Lois," Karen pointed out.
"But nothing, Clark. The man's insane. It's hard to tell what set him off. Had you told Lois your feelings earlier, do you think she would have accepted them?"
"Maybe." He knew that wasn't true and shook his head. "No, she wouldn't have. She wasn't ready to be in love with me yet. I just feel like there was something I could have done that would have prevented it. Something I could have done to protect her from all the pain Lex has caused her."
"You can't control the actions of other people, Clark, no matter how much you think you can. You've protected Lois. As far as I can tell from the things I've read and the things I've heard about the love you two share, you've done a lot for Lois — more than any other man has ever done for her."
"You seem to know a lot about us," Clark noted, with some curiosity.
"I used to do some consulting with Maxwell Deter back around the time that whole thing happened with Lex and Lois and then him."
At the mention of Deter's name, shivers ran up his spine and he had to shake himself before he could tune back in to what the doctor was saying.
"After they carted him away, I took over his case files. I read through Lois's; he'd written quite a bit of stuff about her. Most everything seemed accurate, except his obsession for her. I never did like the man much; he always seemed to have an air about him that just wasn't right. He had a very long account of most everything that had ever happened to her. Makes me think he might have been studying up on her long before he acquired her as a patient. Anyway, I must admit, I remember a lot of what he wrote."
Clark glanced at his watch and figured Lucy had probably had enough time to make it to the hospital, so he needed to get back to Lois's room. He stood up. "Thank you, Doctor. You've helped me deal with a lot of things that have been under the surface for a long time. Don't be surprised if I come talk to you again before this is all over."
Dr. Waren stood also, "I think that'd be wonderful. I plan on starting treatment on Lois this evening. I do my best work at night. I'll be seeing you later."
There was a faint knock on the door as Clark started to leave and Dr. Waren opened it to reveal her husband. "Dean!" she said, and enthusiastically launched herself into the man's arms, kissing him passionately.
Clark said, "Excuse me," as he tried to get out of the office and he came face to face with an almost complete replica of himself. It was like seeing the Alternate Clark again, but not. They took in each other with awe, mixed with a bit of amusement, until Dr. Waren pulled her husband into her office and shut the door. Though Clark tried to tune his superhearing elsewhere, he could hear their conversation.
"So, you're having an affair with a guy that looks just like me? I'm flattered," Dean said.
"No, silly, he's a patient. There could never be a replacement for you."
Clark heard a male groan and then feminine laughter and forced himself to tune into the elevator music.
When Clark made it back to Lois's room, Lucy was already there and Lois was awake, sitting up in bed, booting up her laptop computer. 'Lucy must have brought it, thinking Lois would be bored,' he thought.
"Lois!" he said, urgently. "You've got to stop working on that thing right now!" He was worried — worried that this wouldn't work if Lois was further inundated with Luthor's messages.
"I'll do no such thing, Clark!" she yelled back. "Shut the door, for goodness sake, people are starting to stare. You could at least say 'hi' to Lucy. She was nice enough to bring Jordan down here, even though she has to be at work soon."
"Hi, Lucy," Clark said absently as he jerked the laptop off Lois's lap, yanked the plug out of the wall and started pulling on his tie. "I'll … um … be back in a second."
Lois and Lucy were left gaping after his retreating form. They both shrugged their shoulders and resumed conversation.
Clark flew with the laptop to the under ground former hide-away of Lex Luthor, where he scooped up the offensive machine that had the mind control system in it and started towards STAR Labs. He was amazed that the computer was still there, shocked actually, that Luthor hadn't tried to get to it before Clark had the chance to examine it. 'Oh, well,' he thought, 'no accounting of how a maniac thinks.'
When he flew into one of the inner labs in the STAR Labs building, Dr. Bernard Klein barely glanced up from what he was working on. The sound of Superman landing in the building had become so familiar over the years that most times it barely even registered to the often absent-minded doctor.
"What can I do for you, Cl—" he caught his near mistake. "Superman?"
"Dr. Klein, I found this desktop computer in an underground lair that was occupied by Lex Luthor—"
Dr. Klein interrupted the super hero. "Did you say 'Lex Luthor?' Frankly, Superman, I'm getting a bit sick of that man myself."
"Yeah, Dr. Klein, I said 'Luthor.' He'd used this desktop computer to hook up a mind control program to Lois Lane's home computer, thus exposing her to a myriad of demented messages which turned her away from her husband."
Dr. Klein knew who Lois Lane's husband was, even though the rest of the lab didn't, and he noted the weary look in Superman's eyes, which was more than likely a result of all this. "So, Luthor was trying to use mind control to steal Lois from Clark. How typical. I suppose you want me to see what I can do with the mind control system and find a way to get it un-hooked from Lois's computer?"
"If it's not too much trouble, that's what I was hoping you'd do."
"Oh, no, no trouble at all. Might be interesting to see what that psychopath dreamed up this time. I'm still reeling from the whole 'clone' incident. He'll have to do something to top himself there. I'll have it finished as soon as I can."
"Thank you, Dr. Klein." Superman turned to leave, but Dr. Klein's voice stopped him.
"Oh, Superman!" he said, then he mouthed, "Good luck!"
Superman nodded his head and gave the doctor a bright smile, before whooshing away in a streak of red and blue.
Metropolis Police Department — Precinct 2 8:50 a.m.
Officer Lucy Lane walked into the office of the bustling Metropolis police, dressed in uniform and looking spectacular. Several of the men watched her slim figure as it made its way to the administrator's office. In the years since she'd been away from Metropolis, she'd started looking more and more like her sister. The men gazed at her with eyes filled with thoughts of the body that lay just under the tight fitting uniform.
As she closed the door behind her, blocking her from their view, the officers' thoughts turned to what she might be doing in their precinct. Even though she was dressed in police attire, the thought never crossed their minds that she'd be working amongst them. This branch of the MPD had always steered clear of female officers.
One man in particular was not wondering about her presence — he was just watching her with eyes that spoke of how much he'd already grown to care for her. He wanted to go to her and apologize for his callous remarks of the night before. But, he was stubborn and he felt that he'd been justified in his opinion, so that held him at bay.
Jack Overstreet was pulled out of his wistful thoughts by the sound of the Captain calling his name.
"Overstreet!" he bellowed, sticking his head out of the administrator's office. "Get in here, now!"
"Yes, Sir!" Jack stood and walked slowly to the room that held Lucy, almost shaking at the thought of being in the same room with her again. As he reached for the doorknob, he took a deep breath and pushed the door open slowly.
The first sight he was greeted with was Lucy's chocolate eyes and he felt himself almost melting into the floor.
After he'd closed the door behind him, the Captain spoke again. "Jack Overstreet, I'd like you to meet your new partner, Lucy Lane."
Lucy and Jack just stared at each other, their mouths gaping and their eyes nearly bugging out of their heads.
"But, Captain, I—"
"No 'buts,' Jack. It's time this precinct moved into the 20th century. Go on, go get acquainted. Show her to the desk beside yours. I'll have your assignment to you in a while," the Captain said, conveying by his tone that no questions would be tolerated.
Jack walked back out of the office, Lucy following at a safe distance behind. When he reached his desk he turned to her and said, "Lucy, I—"
"Let's just forget about it, Jack. We're here to do a job, nothing more." She dismissed him and sat down at her new workstation. Jack knew that look she'd given him. He'd seen Lois Lane shoot that glare at Clark more that once when he'd been working at the Planet. It was that 'hands off' look that had caused Clark so much pain for so long. But, Jack grinned, look how that turned out!
He sat down at his own desk, pondering what would come of this new partnership.
After being diverted by several situations that required Superman's attention, Clark finally made it back to the hospital at half past eight. He was drenched, having been subjected to the steady downpour that had started early that morning. The storm had stayed over Metropolis all day, never letting up for more than minutes. The thunder and lightning had been going on so long that Clark barely remembered what Metropolis sounded like without them.
When he made it to Lois's room, he found Nurse Ward with Jordan.
"Hello, Mr. Kent," she whispered. "Jordan's almost asleep. She's a wonderful little lady."
"Thank you. Where's Lois?"
"She was just carted down to Doctor Karen's office. I'm sure you could go down there if you like. I'll be fine here."
Clark walked over and kissed his baby on the forehead, taking a deep breath and smelling the mixture of soap and baby powder that he'd come to think of as 'her' smell. He then made his way to Dr. Waren's office.
He tapped lightly on the door and Dr. Waren yelled for him to come in.
When he entered the office, he saw Lois sitting in the chair that he'd occupied earlier in the day, looking so fragile, and even serene compared to the last few times he'd seen her. Dr. Waren was sitting beside her and they were talking quietly.
When Lois looked up and saw who'd entered the room, she starting screaming, "Get him out of here! I don't wanna see him!" She was throwing looks filled with daggers at Clark and the pain he saw in her eyes scared him.
Dr. Waren got up and hurried to his side. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave, Clark. Your presence is upsetting her and it'll make it harder for us to work. Everything will be fine."
"Yeah, you're right, I guess I should go. I'll be taking a walk outside if you need me." Clark glanced one last time at Lois before walking silently out of the room.
He didn't know where to go or what to do. He wanted to be there for Lois. Be there when she broke through, to see the light of love back in her luminous eyes. But, if he had to stay away in order for her to get through this, then he would.
He strolled out of the hospital and into the pouring rain. He figured it didn't much matter; he was still soaked anyway, and the rain was soothing as if it washed away all the bad things that happened.
He sat down on a bench under a tree and tuned his superhearing into the tiny voice of his wife, only barely audible, even to him. She was talking in a small voice that Clark barely recognized and he assumed that Dr. Waren had already put her under. It was Clark's understanding that the best way for a patient to get past subliminal messages was to be hypnotized, so, he'd agreed to that treatment for Lois.
He cleared his mind and simply listened to Lois and the Doctor…
"Lois? Are you in a safe place?" the doctor asked, her voice calm and soothing.
"And you know that, at any time you want, you can bring yourself out of this hypnosis?"
"What are you feeling?" she urged Lois to go on.
"I … I feel … conflicted, unsure … afraid."
"What are you afraid of?"
"I'm afraid of … Clark. He wants to take me away from Lex. I love Lex. I've always loved Lex. I—"
Clark winced at her words, but forced himself to continue listening.
"What were you going to say, Lois?"
"I don't know why I love Lex," Lois said. It was such a simple statement, but one that held profound possibilities of things to come.
Clark perked up at this — at the first sign that Lois was just acting out on implanted emotions that she didn't really feel.
"Well, Lois, maybe it'd be best for you to discuss some of what you feel for Lex." the doctor urged, thinking that if they could get Lois to see why she'd been believing she'd loved Lex, then this would be over quicker than they'd originally thought.
"I … it just seems like the thing to do. I, well, I don't actually *feel* anything, but, it's like this voice in my head keeps telling me that I love Lex and no matter what I do, I can't fight it. But—"
Clark was listening intently. He had a feeling that Lois was very close to getting that man's control out of her head.
"But, what, Lois?"
"But, I *don't* love him. I never did love him." At this realization, Lois came out of the hypnotic state, jumping up out of the chair and motioning with her hands. "I *never* loved Lex Luthor! I've always loved Clark. It's always been Clark. Right from the first …"
At those words, Clark jumped up off the bench and started for the hospital.
"Where is he, Dr. Waren? I've gotta see him," Lois asked, anxious to get to Clark, to tell him how sorry she was for everything she'd said these past few days. She wanted to tell him how sorry she was for ever getting mixed up with Lex in the first place. She'd never told him, and it was something they needed to get out in the open.
"I believe he said he was going to take a walk outside."
Lois bolted out of the doctor's office and ran down the hall, reaching the sliding glass doors that would admit her to the outside, within moments. When they slid back to grant her passage, she barely noticed the rain, all she saw was her husband, drenched to the bone, walking intently toward the hospital.
She took off running and when she reached him, she launched herself into his arms. He immediately grabbed her and picked her up off the ground, spinning around with her in his arms. Within mere seconds, she was covered in rain, but it didn't even register. She was too intent on raining kisses on Clark's beloved face. No words were needed between them; they just reveled in the touch of each other — the feeling of being in the arms of their soul mate once again. Lois's lips found his and she kissed him hungrily and soon their embrace turned heated.
"Lois, Honey," Clark managed to say between kisses, "We'd better stop before I get carried away."
"I don't wanna stop, Clark. I've got so much to make up to you." She looked into his soft brown eyes — eyes that held the other part of her soul. She saw the unfaltering love shining there and once again she was amazed at how much this remarkable man loved her. "Oh, Clark, I'm so sorry."
He cupped her face in his large hand, looking deeply into her eyes. He was relieved to again see the love that was mirrored in the velvety depths. He also saw the tears that were threatening to brim over. "Shh," he soothed, "we'll talk about this when we get home. You *are* ready to go home, aren't you?"
"Yeah, I am. I've never been more ready for anything in my life."
They walked back into the hospital, arms wrapped around each other, as if they were afraid that breaking the contact would separate them forever.
Lois led the way back to Dr. Waren's office. Clark knocked quietly at the door and the doctor opened it.
"I was just about to go home," she offered.
"I just … we just wanted to say thank you for what you've done. You've given us our life back," Lois said, not knowing how to express what that meant to her.
"There wasn't much to do, Lois. Your love for Clark was always there, right under the surface, you just needed a little prodding to remember it."
A group of three people, two men and a woman, walked up to Dr. Waren as Clark and Lois were walking off. Lois did a double take when she got a good look at the men.
"Clark, they look—"
"Just like me. I know. It's eerie."
A similar thing was happening with two of the other people that were in the hall. Cain and Maggie Waren were looking at Clark in unabashed curiosity.
Clark merely nodded his head and started the walk back to Lois's room, where they'd pick up their daughter and go home.
Maggie Waren stood there, gaping at his retreating form for a while, unable to draw her eyes away from the man who looked so much like her husband.
Cain pulled her into his arms, nuzzling her neck. "Maggie, it's not nice to drool, even if the guy looks just like me."
"He doesn't look just like you. You're much more handsome," she said, kissing her husband. "He does look a lot like Superman, though."
Clark hated to admit it, even to Lois, but he'd been super-eavesdropping on the conversation. He relayed it to Lois.
"Well, with your hair wet, you do look like him," Lois said and tousled his hair so that the stray lock that always fell over his forehead found it's usual place. "That's better."
When they arrived at Lois's room, Nurse Ward was proud to hear that Lois had made a complete recovery. She handed Jordan to her mother and bid her two patients farewell, wishing them a long, prosperous life together.
"Well," Lois said, "All that's left is to go home."
"I'll fly home and get the Jeep and meet you back here," Clark said, knowing they couldn't fly in the rain with Jordan.
"Let's just get a cab. I don't wanna be away from you for a second."
"You're going to ride with a Metro cabby to be near me? I'm flattered," he said, grinning.
"I'd do anything to be near you," she whispered, looking up at him through her lashes.
Clark put his arm around her and they walked out of the room. He shut the door, and let out the sigh of relief that he'd been holding. It was over.
In the bedroom of 348 Hyperion avenue, Clark was talking on the phone, waiting for Lois to come back in after putting Jordan to sleep.
"Yes. Thank you." he said into the phone.
Lois heard the last bit of conversation when she entered the room, and she was surprised that he'd been on the phone.
"Who was that?" she asked, her inquisitive mind never letting anything go unnoticed.
"No one important," Clark replied, flipping on the radio and tuning in a station playing soft country music. He'd started listening to a country station the other day and heard a wonderful song that made him think of Lois.
Clark took off his robe and Lois sucked in a breath at the sight of him in nothing but black boxers. His body never ceased to amaze her — never stopped making her heart race and her stomach flutter. Even after two years of marriage she still found him irresistible.
He climbed into bed and motioned for her to join him.
She untied her robe and let it fall to the floor, revealing a small black nighty she'd bought just before the baby had been born in anticipation of a special night.
Clark swallowed at the sight of his wife's beautiful body, clad in nothing more than a tad of black silk and lace. The pregnancy had caused a few changes in her luscious curves, but changes that only improved her already beautiful body. Clark didn't know how, but she'd grown more lovely since they'd been married.
She climbed into bed and settled her head on his chest. The contact of their skin touching in so many places was overwhelming. Electricity crackled in the air. But, they knew there were a few things they needed to work through before they could make love.
Before Lois had the chance to start speaking, Clark reached for the remote and turned the radio up where they could clearly hear it.
"Clark? What are you doing?"
# As you all know, this is request and dedication night on Y101.9 and we have a special request from a Metropolis celebrity to his wife, who's also pretty famous around here. So, this song goes out to Lois Lane from her husband, Clark Kent. He wants you to know how much he loves you. #
Lois looked up at Clark, quick tears coming to her eyes and brimming over, falling down her face. "Oh, Clark."
Clark reached up and wiped them away as the song started playing.
# I can't imagine
# Any greater fear
# Then waking up
# Without you here
# And though the sun
# Would still shine on
# My whole world
# Would all be gone
# But not for long
# If I had to run
# If I had to crawl
# If I had to swim a hundred rivers
# Just to climb a thousand walls
# Always know that I would find a way
# To get to where you are
# There's no place that far
# It wouldn't matter
# Why we're apart
# Lonely miles
# Or two stubborn hearts
# Nothing short
# Of God above
# Could turn me away
# From your love
# I need you that much
# If I had to run
# If I had to crawl
# If I had to swim a hundred rivers
# Just to climb a thousand walls
# Always know that I would find a way
# To get to where you are
# There's no place that far
# Oh if I had to run
# (if I had to run)
# If I had to crawl
# (If I had to crawl)
# If I had to swim a hundred rivers
# Just to climb a thousand walls
# Always know that I would find a way
# To get to where you are
# There's no place that far
# Baby there's no place that far
As the last sounds of Sara Evans and Vince Gill's voices faded away, Clark turned the volume on the radio down.
Lois was absorbing the words of the beautiful country song, tears falling freely down her face. Clark cupped her face in both of his hands and placed a gentle kiss upon her lips.
"There's no place that far," he whispered. "Lois, I—"
"Just a second, Clark, let me go first." She sat up in bed, crossing her legs and taking both of his hands in hers. She stared deeply into his eyes. "Clark, I love you. I love you more than I ever thought possible, probably more than any woman has ever loved any man. I appreciate the way you stand beside me — the way you never give up on me, even when it seems our whole world is falling apart. I know that there's no place I'll ever be taken that you won't do your best to find me." She paused, trying to get her emotions under control before continuing. "When I was under the control of Lex, there was still a part of me that could *feel* you — a part of me that wouldn't let you go. It was like there was a war going on inside me, tearing me apart. It was the same way I'd felt when I almost married Lex."
At the mention of that event, Clark sucked in breath through his teeth. He didn't like to think about that time, but he'd been confronted with it often in the last few days.
Lois saw the pain in his eyes and it ripped at her heart, but she forced herself to go on, feeling she needed to get this out in the open.
"When I was standing there in my wedding dress, when I should have been thrilled to be getting married, I was miserable. I knew that I didn't love Lex; I even knew by that time that I didn't really love Superman. What I did know was that I felt something for my partner … for my best friend — that scared the hell out of me. I was testing out my married name in the mirror and from out of nowhere came, 'Lois Lane Kent' and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I'd *always* been in love with you. I tried to love Superman as a way to keep from getting hurt. I focused my attention on someone unattainable, knowing that I'd never get him, thus I'd never have to open myself up to the possibility of being walked out on again. I tried to tell you that, outside the Planet that day, but you wouldn't let me. You insisted on going first and you told me that you didn't love me — that you'd have said anything to keep me from marrying Lex. That hurt because I'd realized that I loved you and then found out you didn't love me—"
"I lied, Lois," he said simply.
"What?" she asked, incredulously. To her knowledge, she'd never known her husband to lie about anything that wasn't directly related to Superman. Hearing him admit that he had, surprised her.
"I had my fingers crossed behind my back. I'd always loved you, from that second I saw you in Perry's office. I lied to keep our friendship because I thought you didn't love me — that you'd really been in love with Lex, and I didn't want to lose you completely. So, I lied." He realized that the whole thing with Lex had been both of their faults and, at the same time, neither of their faults. All the guilt he'd felt for so long, faded away and a part of his heart that had always been dark, was finally touched by the light of their love.
Lois picked up a pillow and swatted him over the head. "And you're just *now* telling me? Clark! If you'd only told me sooner, think where we'd be now."
"I like where we are just fine," he said, tossing the pillow aside and drawing her into his arms. "There's no place I'd rather be."
"So," Lois said, "We're okay?"
"We're more than okay … we're Super." He took her mouth hungrily, drawing life from the love that passed between them. Just as the yellow sun gave him his powers, Lois gave him life. He hadn't been alive until he'd met her.
He lowered her gently to the bed where they spent the night reaffirming their love for each other over and over again, each one complete in a way they'd never been before. There were no more secrets between them — no more hidden feelings that were searching for release. They were just Lois and Clark, two halves of a whole, that had finally — totally — found each other.
The Next Day — STAR Labs
Lois was holding Jordan, listening intently to Dr. Klein's explanation of the subliminal program which had held her under it's evil grasp. Though she was loathe to admit it, she didn't really understand anything the good doctor was saying, so she just concentrated on looking at her beautiful daughter.
After Clark and the doctor had discussed it for a while, Lois asked, "So, does this mean I can have my computer back?"
"Sure, Lois, I've deleted the program from your computer. I must say that it surprised me more than once. I know that Luthor was …excuse me, I keep forgetting he's *not* dead. I know that Luthor *is* a very intelligent man, but I don't think he's capable of making a program this advanced. In fact, I think it's safe to say that he had outside help, though I can't figure out who."
Lois and Clark exchanged a knowing look — they were both thinking the same thing. With Lex and his mysterious helper still on the loose, would this ever truly be over?
They took their leave of Dr. Klein and started for the Planet. They'd promised to give Perry an interview for his upcoming follow up story on the return of Lex Luthor. They also wanted to show off their daughter to the office staff.
Lois, Clark and Jordan entered the Planet newsroom unnoticed. Everyone was bustling around, working on the latest front page story. They headed for Perry's office, but before they could get there, they were surrounded by curious people who wanted to see the baby.
No one in the newsroom could quite believe that 'Mad Dog Lane' had settled down, gotten married and had a baby. They needed proof, so they rushed to her side to see the bundle she was holding.
"I'll go get Perry," Clark whispered in her ear. "I'll be right back," he said, kissing her earlobe softly.
"I'll be waiting," she whispered before turning to the crowd who was 'oohing' and 'ahing' over Jordan. Lois couldn't believe she was actually enjoying the attention. She loved the thought of showing these people, who'd always thought there was no hope for her ever having a family, that she'd succeeded.
Across the newsroom, Perry and Clark watched her with a look of pride in each of their eyes. They were standing just outside Perry's office, observing the scene of a preening Lois showing off her daughter.
"I've never seen her so happy, Son," Perry said, patting Clark on the back. "Did the doctor say everything would be fine?"
"Yeah, she said Lois should have a complete recovery."
Lois finally pulled herself away from the throng of people and joined her editor and husband.
"Could I hold that li'l lady?" Perry asked, anxious to get his arms around what he considered his first grandchild.
"Sure, Perry," Lois said, placing Jordan gently in the older man's arms.
Lois and Clark watched as their editor talked gibberish to their daughter, turning into a completely different person than they'd ever seen. Gone was the hard-bitten newshound and in his place was a gentle grandfather. He was completely oblivious to anything except the little bundle in his arms.
Lois wrapped her arms around Clark's neck. "So, do you think everything will settle down now? You think we can go a day without any big surprises?"
"I think it's pretty safe to assume that. I mean, what else could possibly happen?"
No sooner had those words left Clark's mouth than a hush fell over the newsroom. Everyone's attention was drawn to the elevator, where a very slinky, very sexy woman had just emerged.
Cat Grant stepped off the elevator into the bustling activity of the Daily Planet newsroom, hearing just the reaction she'd hoped for — stunned silence.
Lois looked at Clark and shrugged her shoulders. "I guess we spoke too soon."
Stay tuned for When Separate Worlds Collide, Book 3 — Coming Soon!
Editor's note: Shortly after submitting this story to the archive, the author announced that this would be her last L&C fanfic and that she was leaving FOLCdom. All her fans are sorry to see her go. :(