Love Thy Neighbor

By Wanda Detroit <>

Rated: PG

Submitted: October 2003

Summary: In the early months of their marriage, Lois and Clark deal with the changing emotions that come with a surprise pregnancy. Meanwhile, a curious neighbor speculates that Clark Kent may, in fact, be Superman. What will this discovery mean for our favorite couple?

A very special thanks to Stopquitdont, who was a *super* Beta Reader! Another huge thank you goes out to Zama60 for helping me edit and brainstorm for titles! There is one major WHAM, so be forewarned. Feedback is greatly appreciated!


Adam Whitney lay on his brand-new mattress in his brand-new apartment. It was about 11 P.M., and he was worn out from moving his pieces of furniture from his mom's house in the suburbs to his new place in the East Side of Metropolis. He frowned, wondering how he'd afford his share of next month's rent after having just bought the mattress and a few other essentials.

Adam never dreamed of living in a brownstone like this, especially right after college. It was all made possible by his college buddy, Elliot Newman. Elliot came from one of the wealthiest families in Metropolis. In fact, it was Elliot's idea to invite Adam to live with him. He made Adam a deal: if he took the smaller bedroom, he would only have to pay one-third of the rent. 'Fair enough,' thought Adam, who was ready to have some independence.

Today, he had been fortunate enough to meet his next-door neighbors, the Kents. They seemed to be nice people. Lois and Clark. Daily Planet reporters. Newlyweds. Clark had voluntarily helped Adam carry some heavy pieces of furniture up to his bedroom. It was incredible how easily Clark had lifted a particularly heavy bureau. Adam made a mental note to ask Clark what gym he belonged to.

Now, things were quiet. Elliot worked nights as an intern at S.T.A.R. Labs. While it was a boring position, it was an important one. He monitored a laboratory containing all kinds of Kryptonite experiments. There were long-term projects going on, he had told Adam. The glowing green crystals were being treated with extreme heat, extreme cold, and exposures to other chemicals, among other treatments. Elliot's job was to make sure the levels remained stable, the burners were still burning, and any changes were logged.

Adam stood up and stretched. He wandered over to the balcony, opened the glass door, and drank in a deep breath. The air was dark and cool. He looked up at the night sky. 'This has got to be one of the only places to see stars in Metropolis!' he mused, sitting Indian-style on his balcony. (They were still lacking some things to furnish their apartment, patio furniture being one of them.) Adam had minored in astronomy, so as he relaxed, he gazed skyward, searching for distant planets and galaxies.

Suddenly, something caught his eye. A tiny speck was earthbound. Yet it wasn't a shooting star. As the speck neared the ground, Adam recognized the red cape: it was Superman. Adam was shocked to find that Superman was landing in what appeared to be the alley beside their building. A few moments later, he heard voices from the apartment next door: Lois and Clark's apartment. Adam glanced over.

Lois slid the screen door aside and she and Clark stepped out onto their balcony. There was quite a distance between the two balconies, and with the privacy panels Adam was fairly certain Lois and Clark could not see him sitting there, even though he could see them.

Adam caught fragments of their conversation. "…a really bad fire," Clark was saying. "Anyone hurt?" his wife questioned. "…someone trapped on the eighth floor. I was there just in time," he replied. Lois pulled Clark in tight for a long kiss. "I was worried. It seemed…a long time." Adam was straining to hear, but half the fragments of their conversation drifted off into the night air.

Clark smiled calmly. "I'm just glad 'Superman' was able to make it before anyone got hurt."

Lois' voice was gentle. "Me too. Metropolis is lucky to have you."

Adam's mind was suddenly racing. 'Did I hear what I *think* I just heard?' Lois was talking to Clark like he *was* Superman. Come to think of it, Clark had certainly demonstrated super strength, and now *this!* Plus, Adam guessed, without his glasses, that Clark Kent really could look like the Man of Steel! There was still a shade of uncertainty. Superman's disappearance and Clark's reappearance had certainly coincided. Plus the conversation seemed to sound very much like a Superman rescue. Yet it was also possible Clark had rushed out to cover a story on a fire. Maybe 'Superman' was Lois' nickname for Clark. Either way, Adam was going to have to keep a close eye on Clark Kent.


Lois was having a long, horrible morning. To start off, she awoke to find herself sick to her stomach (she figured she had picked up a mild case of food poisoning from the Chinese take-out she had consumed the previous night). She rushed to get ready, and went off to work with Clark. It was a bad news day and she ended up having to write a society piece on the mayor's daughter's Sweet Sixteen party ("A waste of my time, making me write about this trash!"). As the day progressed, things got worse. 'Of all the lousy days,' grumbled Lois in her head.

Finally, lunchtime rolled around. Lois ordered a tuna salad sandwich on rye and suddenly found herself not hungry. She ate the potato chips that came with it and threw the rest away. She found the potato chips tasted especially good, so she bought herself a second bag.

She shoved the chips into her briefcase as she entered the Daily Planet. Then, she sat down, finished up her story and handed it to Perry White. Lois was beginning to feel dizzy and lightheaded. She half fell into the chair behind her. "Perry," Lois began, "I'm not feeling very good right now…" Admitting defeat did not come easily to Lois, but today with her queasy stomach and pounding headache, some extra rest sounded very enticing.

"Lois, you don't look very good right now. I want you to go home," Perry said. He had noticed Lois looking pale and fatigued all day. He wondered why she hadn't asked to leave sooner. "I can't deprive my best reporter of her rest. Go on, now; get out of here."

"Thanks, chief," Lois sighed as she dragged herself out of his office.

"There you are, Lois! I was looking for you!" called Clark. He had just come back from running an "errand" (Superman had heard some children playing dangerously near the train tracks). He was disappointed to see that Lois looked even more wan and worn-out than she had before.

"Clark, I'm going home. I don't know what's wrong with me. It must have been the food last night," Lois mumbled tiredly.

"I was just going to suggest you leave early," Clark said, taking her hand. "I've never seen you like this. Come on; I'll take you home."

Clark drove Lois back to their apartment and saw that she was safely in. "Promise me you'll go to the clinic," he started. Lois nodded. "And call me when you get back, okay? I'm worried about you, Lois." And with that, Clark kissed Lois goodbye and left.

Lois wandered into the bedroom and unzipped the tight business suit and put on some loose sweat pants and a white tee-shirt. Before she left for the doctor's office, Lois grabbed some potato chips out of the cabinet to eat in the car. While her stomach was still upset, they were strangely satisfying.


Adam awoke to the sounds of Elliot unlocking the door after his shift at S.T.A.R. Labs had ended. Elliot was tired after his long night of work, yet still dressed in the professional attire that was required for his position. In his left hand he held a briefcase and his white lab coat was folded over his arm.

Adam bolted upright. He way dying to tell Elliot about his theory!

Elliot yawned. "Sorry I woke you up. It's only 7:30, why don't you go back to bed?"

"I have to tell you something," Adam offered excitedly.

"What's up?"

"That Clark Kent guy next door. I think he's Superman!" Adam was now pacing excitedly around the apartment.

"That's ridiculous. Don't tell me—Lois Lane is *Wonder Woman?*" Elliot was too tired to listen to all this nonsense.

"Hang on, sit down. Let me tell you what I saw." Adam explained everything: how Clark had moved huge pieces of furniture without breaking into a sweat, what he had seen on the balcony, and what he had heard. Elliot still tried to play the Devil's Advocate.

"You were tired; I swear, you were probably just seeing things," Elliot protested. Deep down, he wondered if there was some truth behind Adam's speculation. "Anyhow, Clark Kent wears glasses. *Everyone* knows that Superman has better-than-perfect vision."

"Don't you get it? That's probably just a front!" Adam sighed, exasperated that Elliot was not convinced. "At any rate, I am going to be keeping a really close eye on those people. There's something weird going on there."


Lois sat on the edge of the paper-covered table nervously. She was waiting for the doctor to return with the test results. Lois hated to go to the doctor, especially when she had to wait all alone in that small, white room. As she waited, she slipped off of the table quietly and wandered around the room. She poked around all of the jars of cotton swabs, Band-Aids, and cotton balls. She started to open the drawers when she heard the doctor outside of the door. She leapt onto the table once again, feigning innocence.

"Mrs. Kent?" said the doctor as he entered the exam room. He glanced at his clipboard bearing her test results.

"Yes?" Lois replied. 'Mrs. Kent…' Lois made a mental note. *She* was Mrs. Kent. 'I'm going to have to get used to that,' she thought.

"Well, the tests indicate that you're in very good health. Everything is just fine. But there is something else the tests revealed." Her doctor broke out into a big grin. "Congratulations! You're going to have a baby!"

Lois' heart caught in her throat as the color drained from her face. "Are you sure?" she choked out, beginning to tremble.


The drive home seemed like a dream. Now it was Lois' thoughts—not morning sickness—which were making her stomach churn. 'I'm pregnant…I'm pregnant…There's a baby growing inside of me right now…' she thought. The whole idea scared her. It just didn't feel real. She had only been married to Clark for two months. She and Clark had wanted a family…eventually. In Lois' mind, a pregnancy should follow careful planning. She and Clark had discussed the possibility of children after maybe two years of marriage. Now how would Clark react when she told him the news? She had tried to protect herself from pregnancy, but with Superman's alien genes anything could happen. The Superman factor was another problem. Would the baby have powers? What if her pregnancy didn't progress 'normally?' Could she still conceal Clark's identity when the baby's health was at stake? She had another guilty, selfish thought: 'Will I have to completely rearrange my lifestyle? Will I have to give up working?' Her job at the Daily Planet had become so much a part of who she was. Finally, another fear crossed her mind: 'Am I even *capable* of being a suitable mother?'

She entered the apartment and picked up the telephone with shaky hands. 'I have to call Clark. I have to tell him right away,' she thought. It seemed to take forever for her to dial his extension at the Daily Planet. Lois felt as though she might throw up as she heard the phone ring. "Hi, Clark…? No, nothing's wrong. I've…got to tell you something. I'd like to tell you in person. Can you—"

In a matter of seconds, Clark was in the apartment with her. Lois set the phone down in its cradle before she'd even finished her sentence.

"You were saying, Lois?" He took her hand and studied her expression. Lois looked uncomfortable; her hands were cold and shaky. "Are you sure you're okay?" Clark's brow was furrowed with worry. Lois withdrew her hands and paced a little.

"I'm…we're going to—" she stopped. She stared at the floor and twisted her wedding ring around her finger nervously. "We're going to have a baby!" she blurted out as confused tears clouded her vision.

"Oh, Lois!" Clark took her in his arms, his heart in his eyes. "That's *wonderful!*" he cried out as he held her. Suddenly, to Clark's surprise, she dissolved into tears. "Lois! What's wrong?" he asked, concerned by her reaction.

"I'm so confused!" Lois cried. "I wasn't expecting this at all!"

"It's okay, Lois. I wasn't either. But we'll be together through the whole thing. And I'll take care of you." He kissed her tenderly.

She managed a smile. Clark always made her feel a million times better.


In the days that followed, Adam became obsessed with knowing the truth about his neighbors. He set up a little "spy station;" that is to say, he filled a cardboard box with binoculars, a handheld tape recorder, a disposable camera, a pad and pencil, a stopwatch, and any other implements he thought might be useful. At least twice a day, he sat out on the balcony looking for clues that Superman and Clark were really one and the same. His new 'Superman-watching hobby' was yielding very little results.

Once in a while he even convinced Elliot to join him. On one such afternoon, Adam was feeling particularly discouraged. "You know, I've come to realize how careful Superman is. I mean, I feel like we've got nothing definitive."

"I told you," retorted Elliot. "This whole thing is ridiculous. How do we even *know* Superman has a secret identity? For all we know, he lives in some secret place…I don't know…some solitary fortress somewhere."

Adam shrugged. "Yeah, I just wish there was some way to know for sure."

"Wait." Elliot's eyes flashed with a realization. "There *is* a way."

"What are you talking about, Elliot? You don't even believe me."

"I don't believe you because you haven't shown me any proof. Listen," he whispered. "As soon as I get the chance, I'll bet I can swipe a piece of Kryptonite from S.T.A.R. Labs. We can expose Clark Kent to it and see if he reacts!"

"Are you kidding me?" Adam was shocked. He grimaced, considering it. "I guess it's not a half-bad idea."


The days passed quickly. It had been three weeks since the day they found out Lois was expecting. She was three months into her pregnancy. Almost every day, she exhibited signs of morning sickness. But Lois was a strong woman, ready to take on any danger at any given time; she could handle a little nausea in the morning.

This particular morning was like any other. Clark got up early and dressed for work. Lois woke up shortly after. While Lois went to the bathroom, Clark plumped her pillows for her. She lay back down and Clark fixed the sheets and blankets around her just the way she liked them. "You're *sure* you don't need anything?" he asked as he did every morning.

Lois shook her head, grinning. She found it cute that he had become even more protective and thoughtful of her needs. "I'm not an invalid, Clark," she teased.

"I know, I know. But remember to call me if you're going to be a little late." He kissed her and began to leave.

"Oh!" Lois called after him. "There is something. Can you bring me my potato chips, please?"

"Of course," he said gently. Lois heard the cabinet door open and close. He entered the bedroom, potato chips in hand.

"Thank you, Clark," Lois said as she nibbled on her potato chips.

Clark patted her belly. "Take care of yourself. See you later," he said as he kissed her goodbye again. Lois, as usual, tasted like potato chips.

Every day, Lois would nap for an extra half-hour before coming to work. Her doctor recommended it, and the extra rest made a world of difference in the magnitude of her morning sickness. Clark worried, but knew it would be virtually impossible to keep Lois from working, pregnant or not.

It was eight thirty when Lois awoke. 'What a nice sleep!' she thought. She dressed in a hurry in a suit that she had accidentally bought too big, but never got around to returning. It fit her perfectly now, accommodating her swelling belly. She slipped on a pair of matching ballet flats and looked at herself in the full-length mirror.

"I'm Mrs. Lois Lane-Kent and I'm going to have a baby!" she said cheerily to her reflection. It was amazing. She was getting used to the idea of being a mother. She recalled the day she and Clark had spread the good news. Everyone— their parents, their coworkers at the Planet, their neighbors—seemed to be so happy for them. Lois smiled once more at her reflection. She ran a hand over her belly approvingly.

Before Lois left, she strolled over to her sliding glass door. The sun was shining brightly. She pulled the door open, drawing in a deep breath of fresh air. She felt wonderfully optimistic and alive. She was just about to slide the door closed when a voice caught her ear. It was her two neighbors; she could have sworn she heard them talking about Superman! On an instinct, Lois crouched down on her balcony and cocked her head to hear what the voices were saying.

"I stole it from S.T.A.R. Labs last night. They'll never know it's missing." The voice was Elliot's.

"Are you *serious?* Can I see it?" said Adam. They were standing on their balcony. Panicking, Lois tried to peer between the wooden slats of her balcony.

"Okay. I'll give you a little peek," said Elliot. Lois stared in their direction. Their backs were turned towards her, but she could see that Elliot was opening a small box. When she saw the green glow shine on the two boys' faces, she knew it could only contain one thing: *Kryptonite.*

Lois held her breath and continued to listen. "I don't know about this, Elliot," Adam hesitated.

"I know what I'm doing," said Elliot.

"When are you going to do it?" Adam sounded uneasy.

"Today. I'm going to drop it off right now at the Daily Planet."

Lois had heard enough. She crept into her apartment and shut the glass door. 'I have to warn Clark!' she thought as she headed for the door.


"Elliot, I can't do this. These people are really nice," Adam complained, wrought with guilt. The prospect of a world without a Superman scared the pants off of him. He had no idea his so-called 'friend' would misuse the information Adam had given him. "I mean, you want to *kill* Superman just to prove he's really Clark Kent?"

"Not 'kill,' per se. I'll wound him a little. I'll get photographs of Clark reacting to Kryptonite. You bring the rock; I'll take the photos. Are you in or are you out?"

Adam couldn't believe how his innocent theory had become so twisted and dangerous. He shook his head. "I'm out. I'm staying right here."

"Suit yourself," Elliot sneered. "But don't think that you're going to stop me."


Lois was about to bolt out the door when she remembered she'd left her keys behind. She scrambled back to her bedroom where she'd left her handbag and keys. Once she had collected her belongings, she turned and raced for the stairs. Unbeknownst to her, the strap on her handbag caught on the banister, yanking her off of her feet. Just as quickly, the strap broke, sending her tumbling down the stairs. Lois felt like she was moving in slow motion, unable to grasp anything to break her fall. She screamed as the angry wooden stairs struck her in the head, the abdomen, her arms and legs. She was as helpless as a rag doll. "Help!" she cried out, collapsing finally at the bottom with a sickening thud. She struggled to get up, but her efforts ceased when a searing pain ran through her leg. She found she was unable to put any weight on it. Lois let out a low moan. She felt a heavy pain in the pit of her stomach…no; the pain was lower than her stomach. 'No!' she thought, breaking into a sweat. She called out to anyone who could hear her.

Clark had been busy at work when his super hearing picked up the frantic screams. It didn't take him long to realize it was Lois' voice. He darted out of the newsroom and as soon as he was able, he spun into his Superman suit and flew off to their apartment. Before entering the building, he spun back into his regular clothes and dashed up to their door, key in hand. He could hear her cries without the aid of super hearing. Not knowing what to expect, Clark burst into the room.

"Lois!" he gasped, rushing to her side. Lois lay in a heap at the bottom of their stairs, entangled in her own limbs. The contents of her bag were scattered all around her. Her suit jacket restricted her movement. The strap of her broken bag was twisted around her body. Her left leg was purplish in some places and starting to swell. Had her skirt not hitched itself up around her waist, Clark would not have noticed that she was bleeding…

"My God!" he cried out in shock. "What happened?"

Lois uttered a painful groan. "The baby!" she cried. Her face was wet with tears.

"Shhh…" whispered Clark. "Let's get you to the hospital." With that, he helped his wife untangle herself. He lifted her into a sitting position and helped her out of her restrictive jacket and gave her a quick once-over. The satin shell she wore clung to her with cold sweat. She had wrapped her arms tightly around her midsection as if this feeble attempt might save her baby. Lois winced and cried out any time that Clark tried to touch her injured leg, so he was careful to avoid disturbing it.

Clark (as Superman once again) carried Lois out of the apartment and they flew off to the emergency room. Lois nodded in and out of consciousness. Once at the hospital, she was admitted into the Emergency Room. As soon as Superman saw that she was being attended to, he disappeared. Moments later, it was Clark Kent who was by his wife's side. After an x-ray, it was apparent that Lois had a badly broken leg. She would need it to be surgically set, so she was soon taken to the operating room.

Clark was going crazy waiting for the surgeon to finish. He sat in the waiting area, took off his glasses and pressed his palms to his face. He was sick with worry. He stood up and paced for a bit, trying to wear off his nervousness. After what seemed to be an eternity, Dr. Huang emerged from the operating room, a stern look on her face.

"Is Lois all right?" asked Clark as he stood up.

"She's in recovery now," Dr. Huang replied. "We were able to set the bone successfully, but she'll need to walk on crutches for a while—"

"Is that all?" asked a panicky Clark.

"Well, no. She has a concussion, and we'll monitor her closely to make sure she recovers normally," she explained. "There's one more thing; I'm afraid that the force of the fall and how she landed—"

"No," he whispered, almost inaudibly.

"Yes. I'm sorry, Mr. Kent. She lost the baby."

His heart sank. 'No…' thought Clark. It couldn't be. His baby. Their baby. It was too much for him to comprehend. What would Lois think? He knew she'd be torn apart. Right then and there, Clark promised himself that he would be Lois' tower of strength. He was not going to let her down. He had promised to be there for her. But if he was Lois' strength, who was going to his?

Clark had sat there for over an hour, brooding over his wife's bed. She looked so tiny and pallid lying there. Dark bruises marred the soft pale skin on her arms. She wore a plaster cast on her left leg, from her knee to her toes. He watched, mesmerized, the rise and fall of her chest with every shallow breath. It was eating him up inside that he hadn't been able to prevent this terrible accident.

Lois' deep, anesthesia-driven sleep was plagued by terrible dreams. In them, Clark was looking down on her with scorn. "It's your fault, Lois," he said bitterly. "You killed our baby! It's your fault…your fault…your fault…" The words echoed over and over until Lois couldn't bear it anymore. She awoke in a cold sweat, tears streaming down her cheeks. She realized she was now in a hospital bed. She felt a persistent throbbing ache all over her body.

At last she stirred. Clark watched her eyes flutter open, and he carefully wiped the tears from her cheeks. "Lois, honey, are you okay?" he asked gently.

Lois stared at Clark blankly. Something was missing; there was a dullness in her eyes. Clark noticed right away from her expression.

"Lois? Can you hear me?" Clark brushed a lock of her hair away from her face with gentle fingertips.

Lois only sighed a deep sigh and broke the eye contact.

"Don't do this to me, Lois! Say something!" he pleaded.

Lois took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Finally she spoke. "We lost the baby, didn't we?"

'Anything but that,' thought Clark. But he had to be honest with her. "Yes, Lois. We lost the baby."

Lois closed her eyes and Clark watched a few tears roll down her colorless cheeks. He planted a gentle kiss on her forehead, took her hand and held it until she fell asleep again.

After Lois had drifted off, Clark discreetly made a call to the Daily Planet, dialing Jimmy Olsen's extension.

"What's up, C.K.?" Jimmy asked. He heard Clark let out a wavering sigh. "Is everything okay?"

"No," Clark answered, his voice cracking a little. "It's Lois—She took a really bad fall today at the apartment—"

"Is she okay?!"

Clark swallowed. There was a lump welling up in his throat. "She is going to be okay, she has a badly broken leg. But…" He squeezed his eyes shut, fighting the tears, "But…we lost the baby."

"Oh, C.K., no! I'm so sorry."

Clark could hear the genuine sadness in Jimmy's voice. He took another deep breath. "Listen, Lois and I are going to need some time off to deal with this. She'll be in the hospital for another day or two. Can you relay that message to Perry?"

"Sure thing, C.K."

"You might as well let everyone know about the baby; somehow I don't think Lois and I will be up to talking about it a whole lot when we come back."

"Absolutely. If there's anything else I can do for you, I'm here for you, buddy."

"Thanks, Jimmy."


Clark went to the apartment that evening to collect some of Lois' belongings and bring them to the hospital. Coming home to an empty home was bad enough. Seeing Lois' belongings strewn all over the staircase made him feel ill. Before climbing the stairs to the bedroom, he gathered up her fallen items—her crumpled suit jacket, a shoe, a few pens, a tube of lipstick, some peppermints—and carried them up to their room, leaving behind no evidence of her fall.

Clark took Lois' hairbrush and her toothbrush and packed them in a small overnight bag. He selected a few cotton nightgowns for Lois, and clean underwear. Out of nowhere, Clark felt his eyes well up with tears. Was it a delayed reaction to seeing the stairs that had overwhelmed him? Maybe it was looking through her dresser drawer, or knowing that she would not be sleeping beside him tonight. Whatever the cause, he wept silently, dabbing his eyes on the lavender nightgown he still held.

After gaining his composure, Clark took the overnight bag and headed out. He descended the stairs of their brownstone, and saw his neighbor Adam on the sidewalk. Clark wasn't in the mood to chat and avoided eye contact.

"Clark!" Adam's voice was cheerful. Clark had to look up. "Hey, are you okay?"

Clark looked disheveled and overwhelmingly sad. "Um…not really, Adam. Lois is in the hospital. She broke her leg, and we lost the baby." He sounded numb.

"That's *terrible!* I am *so* sorry, Clark."

Clark nodded. "I have to go." He headed over to Lois' car, put her belongings in the trunk, and drove off towards the hospital.

Adam stood there, dumbfounded. He felt horrible. Hearing about Lois and the baby just affirmed his stance against Elliot's plans. His neighbors were nice people. Whether Clark was Superman or not, Adam was not going to inflict any more harm on them. They had endured enough. If Elliot was going to go through with the Kryptonite plan, Adam decided he would cover for Clark—if questioned, Adam would attest that there was *no* way Clark Kent and Superman could be the same person.


Lois hardly spoke a word during the remainder of her hospital stay. Clark had never felt so distant from her in his life. He was beginning to think that things would never be the same between them. This was not the Lois he had grown to love.

Still, Clark vowed to keep the silent promise he had made to her. He would be her strength when she was at her weakest. After some physical therapy, Lois was discharged from the hospital and was able to walk on crutches by herself. Clark was hoping that Lois would feel a little better once she got home. He helped her into the passenger's side of her silver Jeep Cherokee and they took off for their apartment.

As Clark helped his wife into their home, he noticed her shudder at the sight of the stairs she had fallen down. Clark lifted her gently in his arms, carrying her up to the bedroom. A huge and fragrant flower arrangement from the Daily Planet overwhelmed their bureau; it bore a card wishing Lois a speedy recovery, and sending sympathetic thoughts on the loss of their baby.

Lois still wasn't in the mood to talk when they got there, so she just laid down and took a nap. She fell asleep at five o'clock in the afternoon. Clark roamed the apartment, restless. Mechanically, he made a sandwich for dinner and ate it. A few times he stopped and stood in the darkened bedroom, watching Lois sleep. She looked peaceful for the first time in days.

It was calming; at least when she was asleep, Clark could pretend that everything was okay. The truth was, everything wasn't. Lois' silence was tearing him up inside. He stared at her from the far corner of the room. He listened to her heartbeat with his super hearing, studied the tiny movements she made as she rested. His heart ached; he wanted so badly to talk to her, but his main fear was that pushing the issue would push Lois away. Losing their baby was bad enough; losing his best friend, his partner, and his wife would be exponentially worse. He would wait. He would be patient and wait for her to be ready to talk. He only hoped it would be soon.

Lois was still sleeping at night when Clark crawled into bed beside her. Although Clark was terribly tired, he could not fall asleep. 'Poor Lois,' he kept thinking. 'Poor, poor Lois. If only I had been there that afternoon. If only—'

Clark's 'if onlys' were interrupted suddenly. Lois was awake, and not only was she awake, but she was crying. She was weeping into her pillow, trying to stifle her sounds. Her porcelain shoulders glistened blue in the moonlight, heaving with every sob. "Lois?" questioned Clark as he sat up. He spoke very gently, knowing how much she was hurting inside.

Lois looked up at him and sat up also. "Oh, Clark!" she cried, breaking her silence and falling into his open arms. As he held her, he knew he had seen something that had been missing for the past few days. Something very subtle, but a definite improvement. The familiar spark was back in her eyes and even though she seemed to be an emotional wreck at the moment, the Lois he knew and loved was back.

Lois cried for all she was worth. All of the emotions she had bottled up poured out: depression, anxiety, anger, loss, and physical and emotional pain. Clark held her tightly and cried with her. Lois gripped his shoulders, burying her face in his chest. Finally, as her tears became fewer, she pulled away from him. She wiped her eyes and managed a feeble grin. "Thanks," she whispered. "I needed that."

"Me too," Clark said as he wiped away his own tears.

"I think I'm ready to talk now," Lois said at last.

Clark could have wept again with glee at the sound of those words. "Okay," he said carefully, not wanting to push her too much, too soon. He helped Lois into the living room without her crutches. Then, he excused himself to put on a pot of coffee in the kitchen. Once it was done (rather quickly, thanks to heat vision), Clark settled himself next to Lois on the couch. Both of them warmed their hands with hot coffee mugs.

"I feel terrible," Lois said tearfully as she sipped her coffee. "I wasn't totally sure I was ready to have a baby. I always thought that we'd have a family some day, but it felt too soon. And now look what's happened! It's like I'm being punished for feeling that way…I feel so guilty! It's all my fault!" She dabbed her eyes and nose with a crumpled tissue.

Clark couldn't believe what he was hearing. 'No wonder Lois hasn't been speaking,' he thought. 'She's been blaming herself all along.' Clark embraced her once more. He felt the flutter of her tear-soaked eyelashes on his shoulder. "Is that what you've been thinking all this time?" he asked. Lois looked up at him, glassy-eyed, and nodded. "Lois, your feelings had nothing to do with that. It's not your fault. Not at all."

Somehow, when hearing him speak to her with understanding and tenderness, Lois felt an enormous relief. She smiled a hundred-watt smile and relaxed in Clark's arms.

"We'll have children someday," Lois said, sniffling. "But right now is a little too soon for me. I think I'd like some time where it's just the two of us for a while. And then when we're ready, we can prepare, plan, take things one step at a time."

"I couldn't have said it better myself," Clark smiled. "You know, you are going to make a wonderful mother someday, Lois Lane," he said, kissing her slowly and tenderly. Her lips tasted sweet—a lovely blend of Lois and coffee.

"Do you really think so?" she whispered, beaming.

"I *know* so." And with that, Clark inclined his head, brushing his lips across hers. The kiss lingered, heated by their mutual passion and understanding. He scooped Lois up off of the sofa and carried her into the bedroom like he had done on their honeymoon. "Now, let's get some sleep. I've got a surprise for you tomorrow," he said, his voice a husky whisper.

Lois' curiosity was sparked, but she decided not to ask him what it was just yet. Right now, in his arms, everything was just perfect. She returned Clark's smile. "I love you so much, Clark," Lois whispered, before falling asleep in his arms.


"Good morning, Beautiful," whispered Clark, after planting a kiss on his sleeping wife's lips. She loved waking up to his kisses.

Squinting, Lois turned to look at the clock. "*Morning?* Clark, it's almost noon!"

"Well, we were up pretty late talking about things last night, Lois."

Lois nodded. "I'm really glad we did." She scooted over, filling the gap between her body and Clark's on the bed, and resting her head on his chest. "Hey! You were saying that you had a surprise for me?!"

"Oh yes. How does dinner for two sound?"

"Mmmmm, wonderful! Where?"

"Right here," Clark grinned impishly.

"In bed?!"

Clark raised an eyebrow. "Not a bad idea. But I was thinking about the dining room table. Leave the atmosphere up to me. Ethnic cuisine of your choice: Thai, Italian, Mexican, Chinese—"

"Oooh! I could really go for Chinese!"

"It's settled then," he said, smiling.


Much to Elliot's disappointment (and to Adam's relief), the plan had backfired. Clark Kent was not at the Daily Planet when Elliot, costumed as a postal worker, arrived to deposit a package of Kryptonite onto his desk. Nor was he at work the next day. Or the next.

Still, Elliot had not given up. Today was the fifth day that Clark had not turned up. Today, he would be receiving the deadly package at his home.


Clark was impressed by how agile Lois had become on her crutches. Her aches and pains had decreased a great deal, and she was excitedly anticipating her romantic evening with Clark. She was also looking forward to getting back to work in two days. Their afternoon was spent puttering around the house—something they rarely had time to do together. Clark was glad the afternoon passed without a single call for Superman's help.

When four o'clock came around, Clark made an announcement. "I'm going to China. I'll be back in an hour."

Lois grinned. "Is there anything you want me to do to get ready?"

"Leave all of that to me. You can just sit there and look cute." He spun into his Superman suit and disappeared out the window.

Lois looked around the now-empty apartment. She glanced down at herself and was shocked to find that she had not yet changed out of her pajamas! 'I'll have to do something about *that!*' she thought. Very slowly and carefully, she hobbled up the stairs.

Once in the bedroom, she opened a drawer in her dresser. Just as she thought, there was a brand-new, jade negligee she had received as a wedding shower gift. It was from her cousin who was stationed in China with the Army. The gown was still wrapped in tissue paper, waiting for a special occasion. Lois slipped the thin satin garment on, buttoning the two elaborate frog closures that led up to the sleek Nehru collar. Clark had never seen this little gem yet, and she was sure he'd love it!

Lois was just putting the final touches on her makeup, when the doorbell rang. "Who is it?" she called loudly.

"Postal delivery," she heard a man call out. She seized her crutches and started making her way down the stairs, slowly and carefully.

"Can you please leave it outside? I'm in the middle of something!" Lois frowned, and continued her slow walk down the stairs.

"I need a signature."

"All right, I'm coming."

On the other side of the door Elliot stood waiting. He had to stifle an evil grin that was dying to spread across his face. He had his fake uniform on, and carried a brown cardboard box with Clark's address on it. 'What's taking so long?' he wondered. Then he made a speculation. 'They're making love! What could be better? Clark will have a hell of a time getting away without any clothes,' Elliot surmised.

At last, the door swung open. He was startled at the sight of Lois' cast and crutches. By the looks of her sexy negligee, he had guessed right about their lovemaking. "Sign here, ma'am." Lois took the clipboard and signed her name. As she did, Elliot stepped forward into the room. Lois looked at him defiantly.

"I'll just set this box down on the table for you, ma'am. Seeing as how you haven't got an extra hand." Elliot did just that, but he didn't leave.

'Who *is* this man? Why does he seem so familiar?' Lois tried to remember. The man slammed the door behind him and removed his cap.

"Where is he?!" demanded Elliot loudly.

Lois stepped back, wide-eyed. She hadn't realized it, but with all of the stress that had followed her accident, she never had gotten around to telling Clark why she'd been running down those stairs in the first place. She recognized the 'postman' as her neighbor Elliott who had stolen the Kryptonite on the afternoon of her fall. Suddenly Lois realized what was inside the package.

"He's not here!" she cried out, stumbling backwards.

Before Lois could react, Elliot lunged at her and rammed her back into the wall. "Maybe you didn't hear me. I said, 'Where is he?'" Elliot raged.

Lois' heart was pounding; her crutches dropped to the floor. She scrambled out of Elliot's grasp and crawled towards the box. It was on the coffee table, tauntingly out of reach. Elliot was right behind her, so she seized her crutch and whacked him in the head with it, hard enough to disorient him for a moment.

Lois managed to grab hold of the box. She stood up and limped towards the sliding glass doors that led to the terrace. Elliot was starting to come to his senses, so Lois threw open the door and heaved the box of Kryptonite into the far reaches of her back yard. Lois was a bit distracted for a moment and Elliot took advantage of it.

He seized hold of her and attacked her from behind. Lois let out a piercing scream. Elliot's hands tightened around Lois' neck. Lois struggled, but it only made Elliot increase his grip on her. She tried to draw in a breath, but found she couldn't. She dropped to her knees, and Elliot lowered himself to her level. Lois continued fighting for all she was worth. The lack of oxygen made her feel faint. She and Elliot wrestled for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality must have lasted only a few seconds. Suddenly, she felt she'd lost the battle. She was starting to black out—

Out of nowhere, a strong force grabbed her and pulled her to safety. It was *Superman!* Lois coughed and drank in a deep breath. She was safe! As soon as Superman carried Lois to safety, he seized Elliot and instructed Lois to call the police. She did as she was told.

When the police showed up, Superman was gone. Elliot wasn't quite sure what had happened; before he knew it, he was sitting all alone in the middle of the Kent living room, bound tightly in a length of rope.

Clark emerged from the upstairs bathroom wrapped in only a towel. "What's going on here?!" he exclaimed at the sight of the police. He shot a quick wink to Lois. Feigning embarrassment, he wrapped up in a robe before coming down the stairs.

Lois gave the police a statement about what had happened. One officer rushed out to the yard to confiscate the box of Kryptonite. "With your testimony, Mrs. Kent, our 'friend' Elliot Newman won't be allowed near S.T.A.R. Labs again."

"You don't understand!" Elliot was shouting, as he was dragged out of the apartment in handcuffs. "That man is Superman! *Clark Kent* is Superman!"

"Yeah, right," the police officer retorted. "That guy was in the shower the whole time. He didn't even hear his wife scream! Superman has better hearing than that. Come on, buddy." Once they had left, Clark shut the door and bolted it.

Clark sighed, pleased that his quick cover had worked. "Lois, are you all right?" he said as he sat down beside her.

"I—I think so," Lois answered, smoothing out her negligee, which had become wrinkled. "I'm just a little shaken up. Are you all right?"

"Yes, thanks to you," Clark said, smiling. He kissed Lois passionately. He stared at her, suddenly remembering their evening plans. "You look stunning, by the way."

"So do you," she laughed, flashing him a teasing smile. "Nice robe you've got there."

Clark glanced down at his shabby robe, then back at Lois. He grinned and reddened when he saw that her eyes had stopped at his bare chest, not the robe. "Thanks," he said bashfully. He suddenly recalled his original plans for the evening and changed the subject. "Close your eyes and count to ten," Clark challenged.

"Okay." Lois counted. "One…" With super speed, Clark raced over to the corner of the room, where he had deposited his parcels from China. He unwrapped them and took out a tablecloth and candles he'd gotten there. "Two…Three…" Clark cleared the table off, laid out the cloth and lit the candles. He dimmed the lights. "Four…Five…" In an instant, he set the table with two places. He laid out chopsticks and crafted origami swans out of two dinner napkins. "Six…Seven…" Clark opened the containers of soup and poured two bowls. He quickly applied his heat vision to the meal, which had started to become cold. Then he dished it out onto serving platters. "Eight…Nine…" Clark dashed upstairs and returned back downstairs dressed in a handsome black button-down shirt and khaki pants.

"Ten." As she said the word, she felt Clark's hand take hers. She flashed her eyes open quickly enough to watch him slip a lotus flower corsage onto her dainty wrist. "Oh my gosh," she whispered, as her eyes fell on the beautiful table he had set for her.

"You like it?"

"I have no words," Lois murmured. She embraced him tightly, her eyes filling with tears.

"How about, 'Come on, let's eat!'?" Clark teased.

Lois gave him a chiding jab in the arm as she rose to take her place at the table. "I was thinking more along the lines of, 'I love you so much, Clark Kent. You make my life complete. There's no other man for me but you.' But I suppose that will have to do."

During the dinner, Clark couldn't help but stare at his wife. He watched her eating skillfully with chopsticks. She was naturally graceful. Her skin was warm and radiant in the candlelight. She looked up from her plate and gazed at Clark lovingly, as a soft smile played across her lips. He was mesmerized, lost in her eyes. "How do you do it, Lois?" he mused.

"Do what?"

"How do you deal with everything so well? You were just attacked, and here you are looking as calm and beautiful as ever. There's a lot of baggage that comes with being married to—" He lowered his voice to a whisper, "*Superman.* I'm afraid for you, that you'll be the target of—"

"Don't go there, Clark. I married *you.* Superman is part of you. I wouldn't change that for the world," Lois stated matter-of-factly. "Maybe it doesn't make us the most 'normal' couple. But so what? You know, the hardest thing that ever happened to me was losing our baby. That had nothing to do with Superman. And you and I are getting through it together. That's the way it's supposed to be."

Slowly, Lois leaned over, brushing her lips tentatively across his. She parted her lips, and made a more aggressive advance. Clark was pleasantly taken by surprise. He didn't have a choice; he let his guard down, suddenly forgetting what he was so worried about. He returned her passion, but couldn't help but let her guide him. All that mattered was Lois: her eyes, her skin, her lips. Her life. Together. With him.

It was a kiss that rendered him—Clark Kent—*Superman*— powerless.