The Revenge of Ultrawoman

By Ultrawoman Lane <ultra_woman@mailcity.com>

Rated G

Submitted February 2000

Summary: An adorable story in which Lois gets the chance to turn the tables on Clark with some interesting complications.

Characters in this story are copyrighted by December 3rd Production, Warner Brothers, and ABC. No infringement is intended in any part by the author; however, the ideas expressed within this story are copyrighted to the author.

Comments are welcome at ultra_woman@mailcity.com

***

Okay, I know what you're going to say … this is all *my* fault.

Because it couldn't be Clark's fault … no-oo, certainly not; Clark's Mr. Right … Mr. *Always* Right!

So it has to be Lois's fault. Quick-tempered, impulsive Lois, who never thinks before she acts and who's always pulling poor, innocent, guileless Clark into her scrapes.

Innocent and guileless! ha! So innocent and guileless that for years he managed to hide from me — me, his partner, best friend, and *girlfriend* — the fact that under his business suit is hidden the biggest secret in this world … maybe even this universe!

So don't talk to me about Clark's innocence!

But you will, of course. You always do — all of you. You're always stopping me in the newsroom to tell me how wonderful he is. Clark is so nice, you say. So sweet. You're lucky to have him.

Lucky! Just how long would you call me lucky if I told you … Well, I'm not sure that I should I tell you.

Oh, why not! I know I'm not *sweet* and *innocent* like *Clark*, but at least I don't keep secrets locked up inside me, secrets from even my closest friend, my *best* friend, my *GIRL*friend…!

Secrets like the one he kept from me for two years!

And secrets like the one I found out about in the newsroom!

Okay, so that one wasn't exactly a secret. He wasn't trying to hide anything from me; he just hadn't "gotten around to telling" me about it yet.

Right.

It all started the morning Perry announced the Kerth nominees. I was pleased and happy for Clark when Perry said that he had been nominated for his series on Metropolis's homeless, and when the applause died down I walked over to his desk to congratulate him. Before I reached it, though, I was intercepted by Bea, who writes the "Bea's Buzz" gossip column. "Say, Lois, get a load of the hunks being auctioned off for the annual Children's Fest," she said, waving a list in front of my nose. "It'll make you wish you were single again." When I didn't reply, she followed the direction of my gaze. "Okay," she said, eyeing Clark, who was receiving Jimmy's congratulations, "… maybe not." She shrugged. "Still, you ought to at least take a look. There's some nice beefcake here: Brett Ranger, Cal Walker, Superman—"

"Superman!" I exclaimed. "Oh, no, Bea, that's a mistake," I said confidently. "He wouldn't—" Too late I saw that Clark was frantically trying to catch my eye, and from his expression it wasn't hard to guess what he was trying to tell me. "Or maybe not …" I said abruptly, brushing Bea aside and charging towards Clark, who was watching me with a helpless look on his face.

"Clark!" I began in an urgent whisper, "Don't tell me what Bea said is true!"

"Honey, I—" He stopped and a frustrated look came over his face. "I have to go," he whispered. "I'll talk to you later."

And we did. But I was still fuming when I reached the office the next morning and I sat at my terminal too furious to finish my story.

"Honey, do you want some coffee?" Clark was standing next to my desk with a mug in his hand.

"No!" I said snippily, averting my face. "No coffee."

"Lois!" he said in a low voice, bending over me. "Come on, honey, you're not still mad are you?" He was using that coaxing voice that's so hard for me to resist. He knows what that voice does to me! I could feel myself starting to give in, but …

No! It won't work! Not this time, Clark!

I set my lips in a tight line, not daring to look at him for fear I would capitulate, while he … he … after what he did … or rather, after what he will have done!

"You're not going to stay mad, are you?" he was still pleading, and I was finding it harder to resist him. I was just starting to relent when he spoke again. "Of course you're going to stay mad," he muttered. "You're Lois."

"What?" I said, jumping to my feet. I snatched my briefcase and began cramming papers into it. "Jimmy!" I yelled, ignoring my husband, who was hurriedly whispering that he had been "just kidding." "Tell Perry I'm doing some background work on the Limo scandal and probably won't be back in today."

"Uh, sure, Lois," said Jimmy, casting a quick glance at Clark, then looking away. I almost ground my teeth in frustration when I caught his expression and the glances of others in the newsroom. I knew what he was thinking, what they all were thinking! Poor Clark. Lois is mad *again*. I don't know how he puts up with her!

Rrrrrr! As if I don't have a reason for being mad!

And the worst of it is that I can't tell them! I can't tell anyone! Well, I could tell Martha and Jonathan. Oh, sure, call them up and complain about their son. Real smart!

That's why I was so steamed.

My anger wasn't entirely unreasonable, was it?

But Clark thought I was flying off the handle at nothing. As he pointed out when we finished our discussion later, the whole thing had been my idea in the first place … to have Superman date publicly in order to belay any lingering suspicions that he's having an illicit affair with me.

Well, it *had* been my idea, but I didn't think that he would really do it!

Of course, since he was only doing what he thought I wanted, I was finally forced to acknowledge that I couldn't really say any more on *that* subject.

Not that I forgot about it. How could I? But I didn't talk about it again. Except, of course, to give Clark the occasional sly dig about "Superman's" date when we were in public. I just couldn't help it.

You're probably thinking, "that's so like Lois, making poor Clark suffer." Yeah. Poor Clark. My poor *husband* who went out on a *date* *with* *ANOTHER* *WOMAN*!

But it did make money … forty thousand dollars. For physically challenged orphans. So it was for a good cause.

And it's not like his date was a threat to me. The woman who won the auction, I mean. She's seventy-two years old and I doubt that she'll come after Clark and drag him off kicking and screaming to her lair …

All right. When it was over I guess I shouldn't have stayed mad.

But I did.

***

That's not what this is about, though. That was just the beginning.

But you can see why I was so upset. Maybe that's why I threw myself into my work with so much energy. And why I began taking so many chances.

It wasn't that I was what Clark said, you know, reckless; I just wasn't exceptionally cautious. And I managed to get out of every jam without calling for Superman.

Okay, so that's not *exactly* true. There was one eentsy-weentsy situation where I finally had to yell for help and he arrived just in time to save my life. But I got out of the other jams by myself so there was no need for him to get that "I told you so" expression on his face when I collapsed on the bed after writing up the story and sending it to Perry!

Later, I awoke to the sound of voices. "She's going to be fine, Mom," said Clark. "I caught her just after Colby threw her off the building. We had to fly through a thunderstorm, but she didn't get hurt or anything. She's resting now."

"I hope she decides to take it easy after this," said Martha's voice. "She's been through a lot lately." I snuggled more deeply under the covers, basking in the warmth of my mother-in-law's concern. Even if Clark does get a little too protective at times, it's nice to know that he and his parents care.

"Yes, we've been reading about her exploits," continued Jonathan. "Almost getting shot by the trucking hijackers and chasing the leader of the Simpson gang through that construction site nine stories above the ground must have been stressful for her. And you not around to help her."

"Uh … actually, I was there each time, I just didn't let her know that," said Clark.

I froze.

Clark was right, I hadn't known he was there.

"You mean you've been following her?" exclaimed Martha.

"I stayed out of her line of vision, but I was watching over her the whole time to make sure she was okay. I'd have gone in if she'd needed me, but she got out of it herself."

"Well, good for her," said Jonathan hesitantly.

"Ye-es," said Clark doubtfully. I was holding my breath. "But she takes too many chances. I thought if she had a good scare it might make her more cautious about jumping into the next situation."

"Son, I don't think that's a good idea. If you're that concerned about the chances she's taking you should talk to her about it," said Jonathan.

"Dad, I have talked to her about it but she just won't listen! And I'm so afraid for her … sometimes I feel like I'm sweating blood! Someday she's going to get herself into a position she can't get out of and I won't be around to help her!"

"But Clark, don't you think she must have been scared at that construction site last week?" asked Martha.

"I hope so," said Clark. "I was! I was hoping she'd get scared enough to stop taking chances like that."

"It doesn't seem to have worked," said Jonathan drily, "based on what you told us about her activities *today*."

"No, but I waited until the last possible minute to rescue her today," said Clark, "and I think she was pretty frightened. This just may do the trick …"

"Why do you think she's been taking so many chances lately?" asked Martha.

"She's still chasing after that Pulitzer," said Clark. "She's so competitive …"

"Your Kerth nomination really got to her, huh?" chuckled Jonathan.

"I guess so …" sighed Clark.

Clark thinks I'm jealous of his Kerth nomination?

He doesn't trust me to take care of myself??

He's been following me around to keep an eye on me???

I almost jumped out of bed to tell Clark in no uncertain terms what I thought of him, but one odd thing about the conversation that I was overhearing stopped me. Not only should I *not* have been able to hear Clark (because the bedroom door was closed and he was downstairs in the living room), but I shouldn't have been able to hear Jonathan and Martha at all, because Clark's parents weren't downstairs with him, but were talking on the telephone. So how was I able to hear their part of the conversation? Did I have super hearing?

I lifted my head and experimented with my vision. Yes!!! I have x-ray vision!

And, yes!!! I can float!

I have super powers again! Clark and I must have been struck by lightning when we got caught in that thunderstorm this afternoon!

Do you know what this means?? I'm invulnerable!! I can chase hijackers and gang leaders, and beard Intergang bosses in their den, and never have to worry about my safety! I'll be able to get the best stories of my career! *I'll* be getting the Kerth next year, not Clark! Oops. I mean … not that I'm jealous of his nomination or anything!

(And if you're sitting there with a knowing smile on your face, thinking "see, Lois really *is* jealous of Clark's nomination," then you can just wipe that silly, know-it-all smirk right off your face … because I'M NOT JEALOUS!

Oh, I'll admit that there was a time when I would have been jealous, but that was a long time ago … and people DO change, you know! I love Clark and I'm really proud of him and I *don't* begrudge him his Kerth nomination! It's just that … well, you must understand that my work is my life. I may not have had much success in the relationship department — before Clark, anyway — but I'm a pistol when it comes to my work. And I don't mind saying it!

So you see, that's why the Kerth is so important to me.)

Now, back to my story …

I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bed, elated at my discovery of super powers.

Now Clark won't need to worry about me. For a few weeks or a few months, anyway, because the power transfer is only temporary. I'll go tell him now!

I paused.

And thought about the way Clark had been following me around. As if I can't take care of myself!

And how he thinks I'm jealous of his Kerth nomination, when the real reason I was mad was because he went out on a date. (Why is he so dumb???)

And how he *could* have rescued me a few times but *didn't*. Because he wanted to "scare" me. For my own good.

I swung my legs back onto the bed and settled down into the pillows again.

You know, I think I'll just keep my invulnerability to myself for awhile.

And we'll see just who scares whom.

***

So *that's* how it all started, you're thinking. Lois lost her temper and took it out on poor Clark, and that's why she's sitting in this messy room, staring at a small gray box while she waits for him to come to her rescue.

Well, it wasn't quite like that, you know! In fact, I relented toward him almost immediately. It was ridiculous, anyway, to think that I could keep a secret like that from Clark, my husband, my *best* friend. Because he is my best friend. From the first time I met him, I don't know why, I found myself telling him things, confiding in a way that I never had before in my entire life.

So of course it was out of the question that I could keep my super powers secret from him. (I hope you notice my restraint in not pointing out that had our situations been reversed, Clark would have had no difficulty in hiding his secret powers from me! And I hope you notice that I don't mention just *how* I know for *sure* that Clark would hide them from me! I just want you to notice that!)

So, as I was saying, I was planning to tell him everything. But by the time I made up my mind to do it, he was gone.

***

Being invulnerable can do wonders for the career of an investigative journalist! During the next few weeks I broke into the office of an alleged Intergang leader, stowed away on the jet of a Mafia crime lord, climbed out on a ledge to hear the conversation between a police psychiatrist and a would-be jumper, and almost got "killed" when I disguised myself as a junkie to get close to the leader of a drug ring. And since Clark was away, busy with his undercover investigation of the Ringside murders, he wasn't around to get worried about the risks I appeared to be taking. If he'd been there, I'd have told him about the super powers, though; didn't I already say that?

As I got story after story, scooping every paper in town, Perry became more excited than I had seen him since the advent of Superman, when Clark nabbed the first exclusive. After patting me on the back in a rush of exuberance, though, Perry caught himself and remembered to caution me to be careful … being numero uno in Metropolis isn't worth my life to the Daily Planet, or to him, either. But I could tell that he was secretly hoping that I would continue to bring in the stories … a wish that I was only too glad to oblige!

So you see why I didn't tell Clark about my super powers even after he came back from his undercover investigation of the Ringside murders. Because by then I was working on a story that dwarfed all my efforts of the past few weeks, an investigation of a top executive at a corporation rumored to be linked to organized crime, and I was using my buzz-buzz, you know, x-ray vision and super hearing, to spy on the executive at home, something I *know* the Microscopically Clean and Tidy Smallville George Washington, "cannot tell a lie" (or use x-ray vision to pry into people's private lives) Clark Kent would heartily disapprove of.

So you see, that's why I didn't tell Clark about my super powers. I was *protecting* him from knowing something that would have caused him pain!

***

"Lois, great work on busting that purse-snatching ring!" said Perry several days later.

"Thanks, Chief," I said, trying not to look too triumphant in front of Clark. He hadn't liked it that I had investigated the story alone, but as I had pointed out to him, he couldn't go into the ladies' rooms at the airport himself!

I glanced at Clark, who was frowning over a stack of documents on his desk. He was wrapping up the first of what was going to be a series of articles on the Ringside murders.

Perry, whose eyes followed the direction of my gaze, coughed and suddenly seemed to recollect something. "Of course, we don't want you taking any more chances like that, honey," he said, patting my shoulder. "It won't do any of us any good if you … uh … go and get yourself killed."

Clark looked up and gave Perry a grateful smile. Seeing the glances the two men exchanged, I felt myself getting angry all over again. They think I don't see it … those man-to-man looks they give each other when they decide I'm being unreasonable about something, or when Perry thinks that Clark is "handling" me wrong … yes, I know they talk about it together. Perry has been giving Clark those fatherly little lectures for years, complete with tips on how to further his interests with me … something that infuriates me. And in a case like today, when there's no need for anyone to worry about me …

Okay, so they don't know that! But I had already decided that I was going to tell Clark about my super powers as soon as we get a minute alone together (I hadn't found out anything by eavesdropping in the executive's bedroom anyway, and I'd been witness to some steamy scenes that I really wished I hadn't! I have to admit that Clark was right … we have no business eavesdropping in someone's home. See? I *can* admit when I'm wrong about something!)

When I came out of the ladies' room a few minutes later, Clark was gone, assisting in another emergency. As I began gathering papers and packing them into my briefcase in preparation for some investigative work at the courthouse, my super hearing kicked in at the sound of Clark's name.

"Did you see the look Kent gave Ralph? What is it between those two, anyway?"

"There's nothing Žbetween' them; Ralph's a jerk and Kent just doesn't like him."

"No way! Elwood's a jerk, too, but Clark's never lost it with him. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen Clark lose it with *anyone*!"

"Except Lex Luthor," said someone. Everybody laughed.

"I have," chimed in a new voice. "What about that DEA agent who was nosing around here a coupla years ago? Scarborough? Scarsdale?"

"Scardino. And no wonder! The way the guy was hitting on Lois!"

"And that doctor who was supposed to be helping Lois get her memory back? What was his name … Deeda? Dieter? Deetle? Whatever."

"Yeah, but that doctor was one underhanded shrink. I heard he was puttin' the moves on Lois, too."

"Huh! Who wouldn't? If I were Kent I'd keep a pretty tight hold on her. She is some babe! Built like a …"

"Hmm, do I see a pattern here? What do these guys all have in common: a billionaire crook, a government agent, a conniving shrink, and Ralph?" There was a moment's silence.

Then someone said, "You don't think that Ralph had the guts to hit on Lois …??"

"Hey, Buzz; I'll bet you're right … for once! Well, that clinches it for me … I'm staying away from Lois … no way I'm going to do anything to make Kent mad!"

"Kent??? What's he going to do … make faces at you?"

"Hey, man, he may seem like a real mellow guy, but you didn't see him the day he tore the door off Perry's office! No way I'm messin' with that guy … or his wife!"

"I missed that … what happened?"

"Kent ripped it right off its hinges … handled that big wood and glass door like it was poster board!"

Hastily I jammed the rest of my papers into the briefcase and hurried over to Jimmy's desk to pick up some files, anxious to get out of earshot without letting the men see my face. Buzz had guessed correctly at the animosity between Clark and Ralph; Clark has never liked Ralph since I told him how Ralph hit on me when Clark was off doing his New Krypton thingy.

While I was sorting through Jimmy's files, the elevator doors opened and Clark stepped out. Good! Now I can tell him about my super powers!

He didn't see me, and his face fell when he saw my empty desk. He continued walking toward his desk, his eyes surreptitiously searching the room at the same time. "Here I am, Clark," I breathed. His head swivelled, and his feet following the direction of his eyes, he made a beeline to my side.

"Lois," he said in a low voice, stretching his hands toward mine and clasping them warmly, "I'm sorry about this morning. I shouldn't have …"

"No, it's okay! I was crabby from lack of sleep. But never mind that now … Clark, I have something to tell you … oh, no …!"

"I'm sorry, honey, I have to go," he groaned. "Multi-car pile-up on the highway."

"I *know*," I said, meaning that I too had heard the motorist talking about it on her cell phone, but Clark didn't get it, and in seconds he was gone. "I heard it too," I whispered after he had disappeared. I sighed and finished jamming the files into my briefcase.

So I tried to tell him then, but it just didn't work out.

It was while I was waiting for the elevator that I heard more of those annoying remarks that set me off again. One of the pesky things about super hearing is that you're always picking up on conversations not meant for your ears … and the comments you overhear are not always flattering.

"I see that Lois and Clark are at it again," said Kristine's dry voice.

So I was a little crabby this morning! I only got two hours' sleep last night!

"I wondered how she'd take it when he got nominated again, and she didn't," Kristine continued.

That again! I'm not jealous of Clark's Kerth nomination! Our argument this morning sprang from Clark's nagging me about putting myself in danger so much. He was aghast when he found out what I'd been doing while he was away, realizing the risks I had apparently been taking. Well, didn't I just *try* to tell him why he doesn't need to worry about me any more?

"Poor Clark," Anna responded to Kristine's remark. "I don't know what he sees in her."

Well, I never liked that woman, anyway; or Kristine either!

"I don't know," said Kristine, "but they say he's had the hots for her ever since he met her … wouldn't even look at anyone else, not even Cat Grant. And he stood up that Assistant D.A., Mayson Drake."

"Ugh," said Anna. "I don't blame him for that. She was almost as mean as Lois."

I was spared from having to listen to any more of this conversation by the arrival of the elevator. I fumed all the way to the courthouse. The nerve of Kristine, saying that I'm jealous of Clark's Kerth nomination! I'm not jealous, I'm *not*!

How can Clark stand this super hearing thing?

Huh! Easily, if the remarks I've overheard about *him* are typical of what *he* overhears in the course of a normal day! Our colleagues talk a little differently about Clark than they do about me. Sigh.

My thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the telephone. "Hello??" I snapped into the cell phone.

"Lois, what are you doing?" asked my sister Lucy.

"I'm sitting in my car, fighting rush hour traffic and I don't really have time to talk right now, Lu-"

"No, I mean with Clark? What's going on between you two? When we met for breakfast this morning, you kept picking at him."

"Picking at him!" I gasped. "I did not! Not that it's any of your business!"

"Lois, sometimes I don't understand you. You're married to the nicest guy in Metropolis, who happens to adore you, God knows why, and now that you've enslaved him you pick these silly fights with him! What's with you anyway? Does—"

"Lucy, I don't have time for this right now!"

"… the Kerth nomination mean that much more to you than …"

"I DON'T CARE ABOUT THAT KERTH NOMINATION!" I shouted. "And I told you I don't have time to talk now! Goodbye!" I slammed down the receiver. Lucy too!

And what does she mean by saying *I* "enslaved" *Clark*! I know that's what they all think: Jimmy, Perry, and others in the office, but how's this for a new perspective…*I* didn't enslave *Clark*; *he* enslaved *me*!!!

Yes, that's right! The little alien came to Earth, looked the women over, picked the one he wanted, and by sheer persistence and dogged determination, wormed his way into her heart so completely that she can never escape! Well, I admit she doesn't want to escape … but can you see how it is? Can you understand why I feel a *little* frustrated sometimes? Good Clark, nice Clark, sweet Clark, and mean old Lois. Sweet Clark, who somehow always manages to get *exactly* what he wants and still come out smelling like a rose. That's how it always is.

***

By the time I had fought my way through the nightmare of rush-hour traffic and had wrestled the jeep into the only parking space I could find within running distance of the courthouse, I was thoroughly disgruntled. It was only after several hours of monotonous file-searching that I became calm enough to acknowledge the justice of Lucy's remarks, and consequently more determined than ever to clear the air with Clark.

I'll tell him tonight. I'll tell him everything. I'll apologize for my bad mood of the past few weeks and I'll tell him about my super powers so he can stop worrying about me, at least until the powers wear off.

I hurried home, stopping only to pick up an assortment of Clark's favorite take-out. "Hi, honey," Clark greeted me when I burst in the door. He staggered backward when I flung myself into his arms and began raining kisses on his face. "What's all this?" he laughed. "Wait … you're crushing the … what is this, anyway?"

"An assortment of Chinese from Mandarin Ma-Jong's," I said, removing the take-out cartons from the bag.

Clark followed me into the kitchen and watched while I dumped the contents of the cartons into the elegant serving bowls we had received as wedding gifts. "Just what a man wants," he teased. "The little woman to Žcook' his favorite meal when he comes home from work." I reached for a spoon and carefully scraped the last precious morsel from the carton. "I'm kidding, Lois," he said.

"I know," I said, standing on tiptoe to kiss him on the lips.

"What's the occasion?" he asked, leaning back and lounging against the counter after he had returned the kiss quite to our mutual satisfaction.

"Occasion?" I said.

"Yes, why am I getting the royal treatment tonight?"

"I just want to show you how much I … that … well, I know things haven't been going well between us lately and I haven't been … oh, no, not again!"

"Tanker carrying toxic chemicals overturned on the interstate," he said tersely, bending to kiss me. "I'm sorry. Keep dinner warm for me." And then he was gone.

I sighed. There went the "True Confessions" session that I had planned for the evening … a toxic spill could take quite some time to clean up, even for Superman. Briefly, I considered flying to the scene and helping out as Ultrawoman, but dismissed the idea as leading to too many questions from the public. I put covers on the serving dishes and placed them in the refrigerator; planning to reheat our dinner when Clark got home.

Let's see, what else can I do to make this evening special for Clark? I know, dessert from Pierre's Palace ŽO Plenty, one of our favorite haunts.

I snatched my purse and ran outside to the jeep.

So you see, I really meant to put things right with Clark that night; it wasn't my fault that events didn't work out exactly as I had planned.

***

Okay. Maybe I should have done something when I first heard the footsteps behind me. Maybe I should have whirled and used a few Tae Kwon Do moves at that time. But I was still trying to conceal my super powers (I am *NOT* careless with our super secrets, whatever a certain person who I'm carefully *not* mentioning may say!), so when I heard the man's stealthy footfalls behind me, I let him "sneak up on me" and stick the gun in my back.

Maybe it was a mistake. So sue me.

Okay, I know, I know; if I'd escaped then, I wouldn't be sitting here now with my hands tied behind my back, staring helplessly at that box …

But acting "normal" seemed like a good idea at the time, so when he pressed the gun into my back, I tried to react as a normal woman would react and stuck my hands in the air with a "frightened" gasp.

"Put yer hands down, Lane," sneered the voice behind me. "And walk nice and slow."

I did.

I walked "nice and slow" into the back of his van and submitted to being tied and gagged, then lay quietly on the floor as the van bounced and jolted its way down the street.

"What's this all about?" I asked when I had been shepherded into the basement of a dilapidated building.

"Easy," my captor grinned evilly at me. "We're holding you until we can get Kent's word that he won't publish his story on the Ringside murders."

Oh. It's Clark this time. My captor's not trying to get back at me for something that *I've* done, or trying to prevent *me* from doing something, or using me as bait to lure Superman … he's extorting Clark! I felt inexplicably relieved.

"But …" I said, after thinking hard for a few minutes, "what makes you think my husband cares what you do to me? We haven't been getting along lately, as anyone in the newsroom can tell you, and he might be glad to get rid of me! Besides, he's willing to do *anything* to get a journalism award, and this Ringside case may be his ticket to another Kerth nomination. Why, he practically *stole* this year's nomination from me! He's so competitive!"

My captor snorted. "Nice try, Lane, but it's no secret how Clark Kent feels about his precious babe. He'd do anything to keep you safe … he'd give up his story, his career, his money … maybe even his life." He stuck his face close to mine. "And you know it, too!"

"You listen to me you pungent little snail!" I snapped. "You let me go! Or … or …"

He grinned and pushed me backward into a chair, busying himself with tying me securely.

I was thinking furiously.

I'm in no danger from this obnoxious little creep … I could break my bonds quite easily and carry the rag-headed man directly to the police station … but that's out of the question if I want to conceal the super powers that would allow me to do it.

Resisting the urge to flex my arms and snap the ropes that bound me, I settled into my chair. I would just have to wait and "pick my moment," as Clark would say, for using my super powers.

Meanwhile, I was tired after staying up most of the night before, and was beginning to get sleepy. "Well, wake me up for breakfast," I said with an indifference that wasn't entirely assumed. "I'd like a mocha latte with whipped cream and a cheese Danish. No, make that a chocolate croissant."

The man gave a crack of laughter. "I've heard about your spunk!" he said. "It's going to be fun holding you hostage, Lane! Real entertaining!"

I didn't answer, but closed my eyes and let my chin drop to my chest. I must have dozed, for when I opened my eyes again (thank goodness for invulnerability … no stiff neck to deal with!), two additional people were in the room.

Great … now I have to try to escape with three people watching me!

I assumed a mask of indifference again. "Are you ready to let me go yet?" I asked them, yawning.

"Not quite," said the man who had captured me. "We're having a little trouble with your husband. Maybe you were right after all, Lane. Maybe your husband loves his Kerth more than you." This last was said with a sneer.

"You see," I said. "You might as well let me go."

"Not a chance," said the little man.

"Look," I said desperately, (I really wanted to go home … I was anxious to set things straight with Clark) "you must realize that Superman will be looking for me. If you let me go now, I'll persuade him to put in a good word for you."

But my captor was shaking his head. "Nah," he said. "No dice, Lane. I doubt Superman could do anything for me. Besides," he leaned toward me again, "I'm ready for him!" He winked. "Let him come!"

Uh-oh. If this smelly man isn't afraid of Superman, that can mean only one thing … he has kryptonite!

But is that possible?

Of course it's possible, Lois! Everyone's getting kryptonite these days … soon it'll be sold in every corner drugstore!

That's when I became afraid for the first time. I had to find a way out of this jam before Clark came looking for me and walked into a room full of kryptonite!

The minutes passed slowly while I considered my options. I could break free of my bonds, resisting all attempts my captors may make to subdue me, including repelling any bullets they fire at me, and thereby let the world know that I'm (at least temporarily) invulnerable; or I could wait for an opportunity to make a Clark-like escape from my bonds ("uh … weak link," or "I guess the guy who tied these was never a boy scout") and sneak away undetected, and by waiting, take the risk that before any such opportunity presented itself to me, Superman would come to rescue me and walk right into the kryptonite.

I wished that what I had said about Clark *not* wanting to rescue me was true, but I knew it wasn't so. I thought about all the times he had come flying to my rescue, even *before* I knew he and Superman were the same, about all the times he had come crashing through a door, a wall, or a ceiling, to carry me to safety, and I knew he'd be here.

I closed my eyes and silently berated myself for not telling Clark about my invulnerability before.

You're right.

You're *all* right.

This *is* my fault. If I hadn't lost my temper … if I had told him right away … if we hadn't had that spat this morning …

I wouldn't be sitting here, tied hand and foot while I wait for Superman to come rushing to my rescue …

To my rescue. Yeah. To his doom.

He's going to be so worried about me … He's surely out looking for me by now and when he finds me, he's going to burst into a room full of mean thugs who are in possession of the only substance that can kill him and … no, wait, Lois … it won't kill him …because you won't let that happen. You can snatch the kryptonite away so he doesn't get hurt …

Right. And give myself away. Won't Clark be pleased. And me, too!!

I sighed. There didn't seem to be a way out of this any time soon without revealing my super powers. If only there were some way to let Clark know that I'm invulnerable and can escape on my own. My eye fell on the telephone sitting on the floor across the room.

"You said you're having trouble with my husband," I said.

"Yeah, he doesn't want to cooperate," said my captor.

"Well, let me talk to him," I said, nodding toward the phone. "Maybe I can persuade him to comply with your wishes and—"

"And let you speak to him in some kind of code you both know?" said one of the other men, speaking for the first time. "Nothing doing, lady!" I stared as the man, who looked rather greasy, pulled a small box from his pocket. "We have quite a lot to discuss with your husband," the greasy man continued. "Disguising himself and infiltrating our group like that! He made us think he's somebody he's not."

"Tell me about it," I muttered gloomily.

I jerked my wandering thoughts back to the problem.

What's in that small box the greasy man is holding? The box must be made of lead, because I can't see through it. It probably contains the kryptonite. The substance that is deadly poison to my husband, who is undoubtedly looking for me now, x-raying every building in Metropolis, preparing to come crashing in when he sees me here, little dreaming that my captors have the material …

Should I make my move now? Sparing Clark the pain but giving myself away in the process?

I stared at the box again. It remained stubbornly impenetrable. And suddenly fear hit me with such force that I almost fell over in my chair.

***

What if my super powers are fading???

***

What if the reason I can't x-ray that box is because I'm becoming "normal" again??

When bestowed in the manner in which they came to me, the powers can fade quite suddenly, as we've discovered in the past. What if they're even now beginning to leave me?

Hurriedly I focused on the man's hand and was relieved to see the bones in his fingers come sharply into view.

But now I had a new worry.

What if the super powers leave me before I can get out of this? *Should I make my move now??*

In the end, I decided to sit and wait. Which was tough; waiting isn't my strong suit …

"Strange that Superman hasn't shown up yet," one of the men said in a low voice. "Her boyfriend doesn't usually take this long …"

The greasy man grunted. "Superman's not her boyfriend," he said. "Everyone knows that alien isn't interested in women … not Earth women, anyway. As many times as he's been auctioned off to young, pretty women, and not a one of them could get anything out of him … don't look at me like that … I had it from Guido, and he knows because he used to work for that broad, you know the one, Lex Luthor's old flame …"

The other man snorted. "Which one of Luthor's old flames …? And what's that have to do with …?"

"Well, she … you know …*tried*!"

"Tried?"

"Yeah, you know, but the Superman guy was so stiff and formal and she couldn't get him to unbend even a little … and it's been that way with every one of his dates. I'm tellin' you, the guy's not like Earth men!"

I must have dozed again and started dreaming, for the voices were swirling around me, saying things that I knew the present company wasn't saying, "… married to the nicest man in Metropolis, who happens to adore you … what do these guys all have in common? … I'm stayin' away from Lois … no way I'm goin' to do anything to make Kent mad … married to the nicest man … happens to adore you … happens to adore you … adore you … adore you …" The voices swirled around and around, cascading into a huge, roaring waterfall, getting louder as it came closer and closer …

I jerked awake. "Kryptonite!" I yelped. "Kryptonite! Kryptonite! Kryptonite!" I blinked my sleep-filled eyes and gazed up at the group of men surrounding me.

"What's she doin'?" asked one of them.

"Aw, she's dreamin'," said my captor.

"No, she's warning Superman," said the third man grimly.

"No way! He's not even here!"

"Not yet," said the third man. "But he must be comin'. Some people say those two have ESP and that's how he knows to rescue her so much."

"No way," said my captor again. "If they had ESP, then she wouldn't need to say Žkryptonite' out loud … she could tell him about it telepathically."

I frowned in annoyance at the dialogue that was preventing me from listening for Superman, from learning if I had been right that the roaring sound I had heard in my dream was the sound of his approach …

"I feel su-per!" I sang out in a high-pitched voice. "Ultra, ultra good!"

"Hey, stop that!" The man who had guessed that I was warning Superman stepped forward and slapped me across the face.

"I feel fine!" I squealed. "Ul-tra fine!"

"She's nuts!" said my captor.

"Lois?" the voice came out of nowhere. I looked at my captors, but they didn't react at all … apparently only my super hearing had detected the sound of my husband's voice. It took all my willpower not to betray my relief.

"Yes?" I said.

"Can you hear me?"

"Yes."

My captors were looking at me in consternation. "What's she doing?"

"She's talking to Superman! She must have a receiver on her!" The suspicious man rushed forward and began running his grimy hands through my hair, probing and searching. Yuk.

"You're all right? You really have super powers?"

"Keep your hands off me! … yes."

"And they have kryptonite?"

"Yes, yes, yes!"

"Hang on, I'll be back!"

"No, no receiver."

"Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes," I sang, lolling my head drunkenly to one side. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!"

"I told ya she was crazy!" my first captor said.

"Hey, snap out of it!" The suspicious man slapped my face again. I blinked and sat up straight, trying to look as if I were in pain.

"Where am I?" I asked stupidly.

"See? She was dreamin'."

"She was warnin' Superman," said the suspicious man, swiveling his head to and fro as if he expected to see Superman lurking in some corner.

I settled in my chair again, wondering what Clark intended to do. Blow the building away from a safe distance? Freeze it with his super breath? Set it on fire with his heat vision?

No, he went to get the police; I could hear them talking outside. "Are you sure she's in there, Mr. Kent?"

"I'm sure. Come on, let's go before they find out we're here!"

"No, wait! You can't go in there!"

"Hold on, Kent! You could put your wife in great danger if you go in … they may kill her, or …!"

"Somebody's coming!" hissed my first captor.

"Quick, grab …" the rest of the sentence was lost as the door came off its hinges and hurtled through the room toward us, just as the door at the warehouse had done so many years ago. Dear Clark! Coming to my rescue *again*!

I slipped quietly out of my bonds and scuttled for the lead box, snatching it out of the grasp of the greasy man. "No, you don't, Lane!" he yelled, aiming a punch at my head. I dodged him at super speed, then delivered a few swift Tae Kwon Do kicks at normal human speed. Clark and the police took care of the other men, and in a few minutes it was all over. Clark put his arm around my shoulders and steered me outside. "Are you all right?" he asked softly. I nodded. "Sure?" I nodded again. "Do you really have super—"

"Hey, Kent!" a hard-faced police detective yelled at him. "Don't ever try a stunt like that again, or I'll bring charges against you!"

"Okay," said Clark peaceably. He turned back to me, still holding me tightly.

"… guy's nuts. He could have gotten himself killed. And her too!"

I looked quickly at Clark, who winked and smiled.

"He just went berserk, that's all."

"Love-crazed fool …"

"Off his rocker …"

Several of the policemen sent various awed and sympathetic glances toward Clark.

I was disgusted. I might have known they'd turn Clark's injudicious assault into some kind of virtue! Well, what did I expect? As I said before, everyone thinks Clark's a saint! Not that I want them to think Clark's an insensitive lout or anything, but do they have to automatically give him the benefit of the doubt *every single time*???

I looked up into Clark's amused face. "What's so funny?" I asked him.

"You," he said. "Your thoughts are written all over your face. Don't worry, honey, they'll turn against me soon enough … the next time I write a tough article about their department."

"Clark!! It's not that! Do you think I begrudge you their respect? I just … it's just … do you know how hard it is, being married to the perfect man? Everyone's always telling me how wonderful you are! And they don't even know about your *super* side!"

"Oh, yes, speaking of super—" began Clark.

"Lois!!!" bellowed a detective. "What have I told you about removing evidence from the scene of a crime? Bring that box back here!"

"This box is mine!" I lied promptly. "And I'm taking it home with me."

I'm taking it to Star Labs for safe keeping, actually, but I'm not telling him that.

"You can't remove *anything* from—"

"Aren't you the officer who was involved in that Bronson Boulevard fiasco?" I asked, stepping up to him and peering into his face. "I haven't written all my follow-up stories on that debacle yet. Maybe you'd like to see your name in print … again!" The officer blenched and recoiled while Clark winced.

"I guess I made a mistake," the officer muttered, backing away. He remarked to another policeman, in an aside, "I wish Kent luck with his wife! I wouldn't be married to that hellion for anything!"

"Then it's a good thing she's never shown the slightest interest in you," his companion replied caustically.

I looked at Clark, who was laughing openly now. "Well, hellion," he said softly. "Are you ready to go home?"

"Yes …" I sighed.

"But, Lois, there's one thing … are you really … ultra?"

I floated upward until our faces were level. "Mmm, yes," I said, kissing him lightly on the lips as I put my arms around his neck.

"Lois!!" he whispered. "Don't do that! Someone will see!"

"Then put your arms around me and pretend you're holding me up," I whispered back, assuming it was my floating that he wanted to conceal from prying eyes, not my kisses. He complied with my suggestion unhesitatingly.

"Honey …" he said with his lips against mine.

"Mmmm?"

"How long have you been …"

"I'll race you home," I said in a low voice. "Let's go down this alley so no one will see … okay, on the count of three. One … two …"

It's not true what Clark says, that I took off before I actually said the word three, but it didn't matter anyway, he still managed to arrive at the house before I did. In fact, he had already changed into his T-shirt and shorts and was standing in the kitchen.

"Beat you," he said.

"I got lost," I said, annoyed.

Clark grinned. "Honey, you don't have to win *all* the time," he said. I stalked over to the refrigerator, not answering. "Lois, how long have you had super powers?" he asked.

I pulled the dishes of Chinese food out of the refrigerator. "Hungry?" I asked.

"That oil fire last week … the one that mysteriously put itself out before Superman even arrived on the scene …"

"We have pot stickers, and duck with brown sauce …"

"… and those bank robbers who somehow tripped themselves up …"

"Eggroll?" I tore off a bite-sized chunk and popped it into his mouth.

"… and that time you stowed away … mmmm, Mandarin Ma Jong's, you said? … you stowed away on …"

"Or maybe you'd like to go right to dessert?" I asked, putting my arms around his neck and pressing close.

Clark's eyes widened, and before I could take the time to blink, he had whirled me upstairs.

***

Later, we sat cross-legged on the bed and finished the last of the Chinese take-out. I was now wearing Clark's shirt and he was wearing … not much.

"It's nice to have everything out in the open at last … no more secrets!" I observed, scraping brown sauce from the side of the carton.

"Your having super powers added a little … shall we say … excitement … to the fireworks this evening," Clark grinned at me.

"Yes, I wish I'd told you about it weeks ago," I sighed.

"Honey, I still don't understand why you didn't tell me before," said Clark.

I looked at him. "Because …" I said mischievously, "I wanted to find out if you loved me for me, not Ultrawoman, not her powers …"

"Ah," said Clark. "You mean you wanted to be sure that I loved the woman under the suit, and didn't just have an infatuation for someone with …"

"… godlike super powers," I finished.

"So … did I convince you tonight that I love the woman under the suit, or at least without the suit?" he teased. "You weren't wearing it just now, or anything else, either …" he reached for me, but I batted his hands away.

"Enough of that," I said severely, but without conviction. "I didn't tell you about the super powers because you went undercover to investigate the Ringside murders immediately after I got them, and every time you managed to sneak away to visit me, your mind was on … other things."

Clark raised his eyebrows. "It still is …" he said, grinning at me.

I threw a pillow at him, snatching it back as the sound of sirens reached us both at the same time. "Oh, no," I groaned. "Okay, just go … or should I persuade Ultrawoman to join you?"

"Not this time," he said. "It shouldn't take long. And I'll pick up the jeep at Pierre's, too." And then he was gone.

I smiled and settled back into the spot he had just vacated, pleased, as I had told Clark, that I didn't have to keep secrets from my best friend any more.

And no more fights about me putting myself in jeopardy … I'll have nothing to fear when I pursue my stories!

I can feel next year's Kerth in my hands already!

I sighed with contentment and concentrated on levitating above the bed, something else I can now do when Clark is around to see.

What a sense of relief that gives me!

Whoops! What happened? I fell from floating! How is that possible?

I tried again.

Now I can't rise even an inch above the bed! What's happening to me? Am I losing my super powers already?

I tried the x-ray vision, cooling breath, and heat vision in rapid succession. Nothing. No super strength, either.

This can't be happening! Not this soon! Just when things were starting to go so well! Now I'll have to tell Clark and we'll start fighting about what he mistakenly calls my "recklessness …"

I moaned and rolled over, burying my head in the pillows. Then I sat up again.

Wait; why do I have to tell Clark? It'll only worry him.

I managed to get myself out of all those other jams without super powers … the times he was watching over me but refused to intervene "for my own good."

If I could get along without Superman then, I can do it again.

So I won't tell Clark. Yet.

After all, what harm can there possibly be in him not knowing?

THE END