Testing Grounds

By Matrix

Rated: PG

Submitted: July, 2006

Summary: A revelation possibility set during the episode "Top Copy."

All characters and settings are the property of DC Comics, Warner Bros., and whoever else can legally lay claim to them. No copyright infringement is intended. This story was written purely for fun, not for profit, but the story is an original idea and belongs to me. A thank you to the writers of Lois & Clark, especially to the writers of "Top Copy" from which I borrowed a few scenes.

A really big thank you to Sue, not only for beta reading this story for me but also for being the inspiration I needed to try writing a 1st person POV fic. This is my first attempt at 1st person. And I didn't go into this B-plot story with an A-plot in mind… so don't complain, you've been warned. I did manage to fit a small one in there though. Okay, here we go…


I had left the hospital earlier feeling pretty upbeat. Superman was safe. The State's witness was safe, thanks to me, and Mayson and I had pretty much made up. As much as I hate to admit it, I, Lois Lane, stubborn alpha-female, am starting to feel a certain kinship with Mayson Drake. Even if we both happen to like the same man.

I let out a noisy sigh as I approach the stairs of that certain man's apartment building. If Clark is going to keep running off every time I try to have a serious conversation with him about our relationship, then maybe Mayson can just keep him.

No, not like that. I'm not going to let things end like that. I'm not a quitter, and that's why I'm here, standing in front of his apartment building. Before I completely give up on him, I'm going to make him explain himself. I figure if I can corner him at his apartment, there will be no way for him to go running off when the conversation gets too heated.

My upper lip curls in disgust as I think about our chess game the other night. I started to pour my heart out to him and he decided all of the sudden that he had a video to return. Then, he had the gall to tell me the next morning that one day maybe I'd realize things weren't always what they seemed to be. I gave him a chance to explain himself. I told him if he had some other excuse for leaving to just tell me, but he just said he guessed he didn't.

Well, this time he isn't going to leave. This time he is going to hear me out. I walk up the stairs and knock on his door. I even have an excuse for being here right now. I want to help clean up the mess I made when I broke the glass in his front door, trying to get to Superman.

There's no answer, so I knock again. I haven't seen Clark since earlier today when he was complaining of a headache and left work all of the sudden. That's actually the reason I came by his apartment earlier, when I found Superman on his floor instead; I was worried about him and had come by to check on him.

Where can he be? Maybe he is inside and is just too sick to come to the door? I reach my hand carefully through the broken glass pane and open the door from the inside.

"Clark? Clark, are you here?" I holler out.

There's no answer. I make a quick trip through the apartment just to be sure he isn't here, but he's not. Well, so much for that brilliant idea. I start to walk back out the front door and some of the broken glass crunches underneath my shoe. Oh, yeah. That *is* the reason that I supposedly came inside, isn't it? I might as well clean it up for him. If he is as sick as he looked, he's not going to feel like cleaning it up when he does get home. And, who knows, by the time I get done cleaning he might show up. Then I can move on to my secondary reason.

I begin poking around his apartment in different rooms and closets, looking for his broom and dustpan, but I keep coming up empty-handed. As I walk past his couch something catches my eye. His clothes. The clothes he had on earlier today. The shirt and tie are in a wrinkled pile on the couch, and his pants are in a heap on the floor in front of the couch.

So he had come home and changed clothes and then what? Where had he gone? Maybe he went to the doctor. Poor Clark, I hope he's really not that sick. Actually, as I think about it, I don't remember too many times that I've actually seen him sick. There was that one time when we were visiting Smallville and his allergies had acted up. And I sort of remember him complaining of a headache once or twice, but nothing major. He must have one heck of an immune system.

I walk over and pick his shirt and tie up off the couch, looking around for a hanger. None in sight. I'll just have to get one out of his closet.

My nose picks up on an alluring scent. Mmm, what is it that smells so good? I bring his shirt collar up to my face and smell it. It's his shirt. It smells of men's cologne. I don't recognize which one; I'm not really good with that sort of thing, placing cologne brands with their scents. But I know which ones I like and which ones just, well, reek; this one is definitely one of the former.

I smell it again. This time, beyond the cologne, I smell the clean scent of soap and a hint of fabric softener. Mmm, there's something about fresh laundry. I love that fresh, fabric softener smell. Beyond that there is just *Clark*. I don't know how else to explain it. It's just his scent. The realization of that sends unexpected feelings fluttering through my body; they come to rest deep in the pit of my stomach.

Oh my god. Am I aroused by this? Maybe a little, I realize. I haven't really thought about it before but Clark always does smell good. I breathe in the shirt one last time before I bend down to pick up his pants. My face flushes a little. What's wrong with me? You'd think I was back in high school, having my first crush. Get a grip, Lois.

I carry the clothes to his closet. I'm not sure if he would hang them up and wear them again or wash them, but I'll hang them up for now. Who knows, maybe I'll find his broom in this closet. I haven't checked it yet. You wouldn't think that's where he'd keep it, but then again, who knows?

I told Clark once that he was a *strange one* but that I thought I had him figured out. Ha, nothing could be further from the truth. The longer I've known him the less I've *figured* out about him.

With my free hand I pull open the closet door and peer inside. The clothes I'm holding abruptly fall to the floor as I bring the hand that was holding them up to cover my mouth. My head suddenly feels light and dizzy. I tighten my grip on the door I'm still holding and blink my eyes several times, as if that's going to help.

Red. Blue. Suits. Capes. Boots. And more than one pair of each. I stumble backwards away from the closet and lose my footing, sitting down on my butt hard on the floor. I continue staring, my mouth gaping open. What? How was this possible? What was going on here? Why are Superman's suits hanging in Clark's closet?

After finding the strength in my legs again, I get up and walk back to the closet to inspect my findings more carefully. I can see now that the items are inside some sort of secret compartment in the closet; there is a sliding door that normally closes this section off. With some difficulty I slide the door back, almost closed. With the door back in place, you wouldn't know there was anything back there. I slide the door back open again and reach out hesitantly to feel the suits hanging in front of me. I think I'm still in shock, and I'm definitely overcome by curiosity.

My fingers gently caress the familiar blue spandex. I take one of the suits off the rack and turn it around by the hanger. A zipper? So that's how Superman gets in and out of them. Interesting. But what are they doing here?

A familiar fragrance catches my attention and I bring the garment up to my face to smell it. I know that scent. Then it hits me. It's so obvious. It's him! It's Clark. Clark Kent is Superman. Wait a minute? What am I saying? Clark? No, not Clark.

But…it sure would explain a lot. I think back to a few weeks ago, when Superman was blinded by the ultra-violet light. He had been out of commission for the whole weekend. And where was Clark? I thought he had been in the mountains with Mayson Drake, but I find out that no, he had stood her up. Then all he could come up with was a ridiculous story that he had gotten confused and thought that he was supposed to be going to Smallville to visit his parents, instead of the other way around.

I thought that story had seemed a little weak. I mean who flies all the way to another state to see their parents without calling them to confirm first? At least tell them what time to expect him? Or pick him up at the airport?

Although, if he is Superman he probably flies to Kansas all the time, unannounced, to see them.

That would explain, too, why he had looked sick earlier today. If he is Superman, he had been suffering from his exposure to Kryptonite. Ha, just a headache my foot. 'Lois do you have some aspirin?' Yeah, like that would have done any good.

I feel my cheeks beginning to flush. All those times. All those stupid excuses. 'Lois, I just remembered I have to return this video…' He was just lying to me. Well, he probably did need to return that tape, eventually, but not right that second.

He's been lying to me this whole time. Why hasn't he told me? Was he ever going to tell me? I mean, he got up the nerve to ask me out — why not to tell me the truth?

I've worked myself up into a full-blown rage now. I leave his clothes in a pile on the floor, and I don't even bother continuing my search for a dustpan. He's Superman. Why does he need me cleaning up for him? He could clean up this mess faster than I could, with both hands and a foot tied behind his back.

Hmm, that thought has promise.

Ugh! Get a grip, Lois. Focus. You are mad at Superman; this is no time to fantasize. And I am mad. I'm so mad that I'd love to walk up and slap him in the face, but as hard as I'd want to hit him, it would probably break something — in my hand.

I make my way back to the front door. I think I'll head back to the Planet. Everyone's going to be glued to the TV to see what Diana Stride uncovered as Superman's biggest secret. I'm even more interested now than before to see what she'll reveal. Did *she* also discover that he's Clark Kent? If she did, what will he say when she exposes him?


I get to the Planet just in time. Top Copy is just about to start. I can't help but feel disappointed, though, when I realize Clark is nowhere to be seen. I would really like to see the reaction on his face to whatever Diana has to say.

"Hey, Lois, I didn't figure you'd miss this," Jimmy says, grinning at me as I walk up.

"Hi, Jimmy. Secrets on Superman? Nope, there's no way I'd miss this." Especially not now, I think to myself.

I stand glued to the TV as Diana blathers on with the uninteresting details about Superman that I already know, my hands clenching and unclenching in expectation of what she's really found out. Geez, I know they're going for ratings here, but enough's enough already.

My waiting is finally rewarded when I recognize that Diana is now standing inside Clark's apartment, at the very closet I was at earlier.

"And here in this apartment, we find the final piece of the puzzle which tells us that Superman is Clark Kent."

Diana slides the main closet door back, revealing Superman's suits, capes, and boots in all their glory. She must have been the one who found that secret compartment. Huh, if Diana hadn't tried to kill me earlier today, I'd almost thank her for finding it and then leaving it exposed for me to find later.

I glance around the room; everyone is staring slack-jawed at the TV in shocked disbelief.

"I don't believe it," Jimmy mumbles.

"I don't either," Perry chimes in.

"They always kinda looked alike, though," Jimmy says.

"Hey, I've been told I look a little like Nixon but I've never been to the White House. Lois? You buying this?" Perry asks me.

"Me?" Why, yes, I think to myself. I buy this lock, stock, and barrel, as a matter of fact. That's what I want to say, but I don't. "The woman was obviously desperate to save her career. She'll try anything. She tried to kill me earlier today, don't forget. I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this," I assure them. Yeah right, when pigs fly!

So that's it. There's my confirmation. Clark Kent *is* Superman. Oh! Just wait till I get my hands on him. He's going to be sorry he ever lied to Lois Lane.

The ping of the elevator door grabs my attention and I look up in time to see a sheepish-looking Clark come walking out.

"Hi," he says to the room in general.

Hi? Hi, Clark? That's all you've got to say? Oh, that's brilliant! I decide to speak up, put some pressure on him. "Clark, what is going on here?"

I watch his face as he turns to address me and the rest of the room. Is he sweating? That's got to be one of the few times I've seen Clark sweat. Good, let him sweat. I'd like to see him work his way out of this one.

"If everyone will follow me, I've got an announcement to make. I decided the easiest way to settle all this would be a press conference," he says, stepping back onto the elevator. Some people follow him onto the elevator, others wait for the other elevator, and I follow the remaining people down the stairwell. I wouldn't miss this for the world!


Clark has called a press conference to be held right outside the front doors of the Daily Planet. I press in as close to the podium as I can get, anxious to see what he has to say.

He gestures for our fellow co-workers to move in close amongst the other reporters and then he steps up to the mic and begins speaking.

"My name is Clark Kent. I'm sure you all saw the story on TV tonight and I'd just like to say…"

His speech is interrupted by a very familiar *whoosh*. I look up, and to my astonishment, I see Superman hovering a few feet above Clark. What? How can that be? Is it possible I was mistaken after all?

I squint my eyes, focusing on Clark, and then I look up squinting at Superman. I compare the similarities in them and the differences. What differences? There aren't many. There are a couple of subtle ones. He holds himself a little differently as Superman and speaks with a distinct flair.

Then there are the more blatant differences. Clark wears glasses. He actually just got a new pair recently. I like the new pair much better; I can see his eyes more clearly. Sometimes I think I could just fall into those dark pools.

Lois, you're getting off track…

I shift my eyes away from his, looking for more differences. There's his hairstyle. As Superman it's more rigid; with Clark it's more relaxed and soft, much like Clark himself.

Then, of course, there are the clothes. He wears decidedly different clothes as Superman. But really, other than those few things, nothing major. Was Superman's suit really *that* distracting? That I never noticed the striking similarity between him and Clark?

Superman's voice cut through my thoughts. "Clark, I don't mean to interrupt but maybe it'd be easier if I explained. Diana Stride is now a wanted fugitive," he says.

Well, that's nice to know, big guy, but what does that have to do with you and Clark not being the same person? I'm still focusing on their obvious similarities when it seems to me that Superman gets a little fuzzy. I don't know how else to describe it. It just seems that the lines that make up his body fuzz out a little. He is speaking again — something about Diana working for Intergang — I'm not really listening to what he's saying. I'm more interested in that fuzzy outline. I rub my eyes, am I *that* tired? I look back up and the fuzz disappears and everything looks crystal clear again.

"Clark Kent is a friend," Superman continues. "My uniforms were in his closet because he's nice enough to clean them for me. I don't have a washing machine or a place to hang my spare capes…"

He continues to prattle on a little longer but I'm still focused on what he said last. Can it be true? Can he just be keeping his stuff at Clark's? No. It's not true. I know by looking at both of them standing here before me, and I know in my heart it's not true. It certainly sounds good on the surface, and it will be good enough to fool all the other saps in the city, but not Lois Lane. Not me. I know the truth. Too many missing pieces fell into place when I made that little discovery. This was just one more lie, one more nail in his coffin. I can feel myself frowning. He's got a lot to answer for.

I watch as the *imposter* Superman flies up and off into the sky. How did he pull that off? A projection of some sort? That made sense since Superman had seemed to *fuzz out* a little.

"Any questions?" Clark asks. The crowd goes wild with voices yelling, questions being thrown from every direction.

Oooh, wait till I get my hands on you, Clark!


After the press conference is over I'm not exactly sure what I want to do. I go inside the Planet and back up to my desk. I try furiously to work on something, anything, but my mind keeps wandering.

I want to confront Clark; that much I know for sure. But how? How did I want to do it? Part of me wants to go to his apartment tonight. When he answers the door I'd like to punch him in the stomach and scream at him, but that would probably break my fist. Although, at least he wouldn't be able to hide who he is then, would he? He wouldn't be prepared for an attack like that.

But who am I kidding? I know deep down that what I really want is a willing confession from him. I want to believe that, above everyone else, he will tell *me* the truth. Maybe I'll at least give him the chance to.

I finally decide that I'm not getting anything done and it's time to go. Do I go home? Or do I go to Clark's? I don't know. Maybe I'll just walk around for a while until I come to a decision.

I make my way out of the building and almost run headfirst into Clark coming into the building.

When Clark's eyes make contact with me, my palms start to sweat. What if I'm wrong? Okay, so maybe a frontal attack isn't my best bet. Maybe I should try to force his hand, make him spill his guts. Or maybe I should wait for that confession I'm hoping for.

"Working late?" he asks me. He has a pleasant smile on his face that melts the ice in my heart a little, despite my best efforts.

"Big news night. Where've you been?" I ask him pointedly.

"Superman caught Diana. I got *us* the exclusive."

"You are *some* partner," I manage to say, I hope without too much sarcasm.

"Is that all I am, Lois?" He has a look on his face. Is it hope? Is it fear? Mmm, I hope it's fear. Do I really have that kind of control over him? Over Superman? The thought makes me a little weak in the knees.

Okay, back to his question. Hmm, I don't know, *is* that all you are, Clark? Or are you perhaps also Superman? That's what I think, not what I say. I know what he's getting at. I sigh. "I don't know. I know how I feel… but I also know what I think. And they're two very different things." True enough.

"Can I make a suggestion?"

The timidity that I hear in his voice helps me keep the sarcasm out of mine. "Please."

"Let's finish what we started."

What does that mean? What did we start?

"The chess game, remember? Then take it from there," he continues.

Oh, that. Why not? We'll have a chance to talk, and we'll be alone. Maybe he'll have something he wants to get off his chest.

I see Perry and Jimmy walking up out of the corner of my eye.

"You two going back to work?" Perry asks us.

"Nope. We're going back in to play," I tell him. Oooh-hoo, and play we will. I have a feeling that this is going to be quite a game of cat and mouse.


"Your move," Clark tells me.

"No, actually, I think it's *your* move," I reply, trying to gauge his reaction.

He decides to play dumb. "No, I just moved my bishop, and you're in check." He smiles playfully at me.

I feel a flutter in my chest. Why does his smile have to have that effect on me? I push the feelings away and gain control of myself again. I'm not the one in check, Clark, you are. And it's soon going to become checkmate.

"Don't you have anything you want to tell me?" I ask him sweetly, one last glimmer of hope in my heart. Please be honest with me, Clark.

"I'm not going to help you cheat, Lois, if that's what you're asking. You're going to have to fight your way through this on your own."

Okay, so that's how he wants to play it, huh? Fine, then you're on, Clark. A fight it shall be.

"So, you really keep Superman's suits in your closet?"

Clark seems to get a little bit uncomfortable at the question. "Yeah. It's not like Superman really has anywhere to keep them, or any way to clean them."

"I guess that's true. I mean, could you just see him going down to the local coin laundry?" I can't help myself; I laugh at my own joke, and he joins me in a small chuckle. But I'm not done. "I'm just a little surprised that you never told me about it. I mean, what if I'd accidentally found them sometime? I might have thought you were Superman! That would have caused you all kinds of grief, wouldn't it?" I laugh briefly again, but this time it's only for show.

"I guess I hadn't really thought about it. Do you go through my apartment often, without my knowledge?" he asks me teasingly.

"Ha. I'm not giving away all my secrets, Kent." But you'd better start, if you know what's good for you. So, my questioning isn't going to coax a confession out of him? Well, then maybe I'll just provoke him a little instead. I know it's childish, but it'll make me feel better. "So how often does Superman come by?"

"Oh, I don't know, a few times a week, I guess. I haven't really kept track." He seems to actually squirm a little this time. Good. At least I know it bothers him a little bit to lie to me. Or maybe it just bothers him that I want to keep talking about Superman.

"Really? That often? I'm surprised I haven't ever bumped into him when I've been over at your apartment." I can't help myself; I dig a little deeper. "That would've been the highlight of my visit, getting to see Superman picking up a clean suit." I giggle a little. I'm probably enjoying this just a little too much.

"The highlight of your visit?" Clark's voice has a wounded tone.

"Yeah, you know. I see you all the time, but it seems like unless I'm being threatened by some diabolical mastermind, I don't get to see Superman that much." I'm on a runaway train. I can't stop myself. I know I'm hurting him with what I'm saying. I know now how unfair I've been in the past with my attentions towards Superman, gushing and falling all over him while ignoring Clark for so long. But right now I'm still mad and hurt.

"Gee, nice to know I'm so monotonous and boring." He's outright scowling with this statement.

I don't feel sorry for him… well, maybe a little bit. "You're not boring, Clark. You're just… *comfortable*." Okay, enough of that. I decide to probe him a little further instead. "So do you actually wash his suits for him? I mean, they aren't 'dry clean only' or anything?"

"Do we really have to spend the rest of the evening talking about this?" he asks, unable to hide the irritation in his voice any longer.

His irritation sparks my frustration again. "No, I guess not. I just find it a little disturbing that you kept this a secret from me. It makes me wonder what *other* secrets you've been keeping from me."

Clark definitely squirms this time. "I wasn't exactly keeping it a secret from you. To keep something a secret, you have to be asked a question and then deny the answer. You never asked."

Wow! I don't think even a politician could have put that statement any better.

I never asked. Hmm, so does that mean if I just come right out and say 'Clark, are you Superman?' that you'll tell me the truth? Right here and now? Part of me is tempted to put the theory to a test. But not with the *big* question. Maybe with a smaller one.

"So, do you keep anything else for Superman?" I ask him. Will he know what I'm getting at? I think back to the globe that he'd had and kept secret from me. If Clark is Superman, then he still has that globe. Will he admit it?

"I don't know."

What? "What do you mean 'you don't know'? You either keep other stuff for him or you don't. Which is it?"

He shifts back and forth in his seat, obviously uncomfortable. Great, here comes another lie. "He has his own spot to keep his stuff. I'm not nosy like *some* people. I don't go through it to see what's there."

Nosy! Of all the… Before I can get properly riled up, though, he continues.

"Do we really have to keep talking about Superman? I didn't ask you to come up here so we could discuss Superman's storage facilities."

"Why did you bring me up here?" I bite out, no longer hiding the anger in my voice.

Clark shrinks back slightly from the heat in my words. "So we could talk."

"I see. Well, unfortunately, I don't feel like talking anymore now. It's getting late, and I'm ready to head home."

I can see the disappointment in his face, but I don't let it make me feel bad. I gave him several opportunities to come clean. He has no excuses. We were here alone. He had his chance. Now, he's going to pay.

"Goodnight, Clark," I tell him abruptly, getting up and heading to the elevator. Yes, goodnight… and get a good night's sleep because you have battle to do in the morning.


The next morning I wake up tired. I didn't sleep well the night before. I spent most of the night going over ways that I could expose Clark's secret.

I'm certain now that I don't want to just come right out and ask him. I'm not even sure he would tell me if I did. I would need irrefutable proof, first, if I were going to do that. But what I really want is to corner him, force his hand.

But I didn't come up with one acceptable idea all night. First, I thought maybe I could hire someone to pretend they were in danger, scream for Superman. Then I could try to follow Clark when he tried to dash off to rescue them. Too risky. If he *dashed* too fast, I wouldn't be able to keep up.

Then I thought maybe I could put myself in danger somehow, in front of him. He'd have to save me as Clark, revealing himself. I still think that idea may have some merit, but I haven't come up with an acceptable situation yet.

The last idea I came up with was to test Clark himself in some way. Like, by stabbing him with a pencil or something. I shudder at the thought. Am I becoming a sadist? But, it would definitely prove he was Superman.

But all these ideas would force his hand in a way that I don't want. Part of me wants to make him tell me, but another part of me wants him to volunteer the information. Ugh! This was going to be difficult.

I *know* that he is Superman; deep down I really do. But before I put any sort of a *plan* into action, I really need to confirm that to myself. The one way I can think of to do that is to *mark* him somehow, so that when he dashes off as Clark and shows back up as Superman, he'll still be marked.

But how? I can't mark anything he's wearing; he'll take it off. It has to be on his body, and something I can see outside the suit. And I probably need to do it in a way that he won't notice. If he knows he's been marked, he'll be less likely to show up anywhere as Superman.

A thought strikes me — one of my previous ideas just might work for part of this.


I walk off the elevator at the Planet and head towards my desk. Clark's there already, standing next to it, holding two cups of coffee.

Hmm, sweet, Clark, nice try — try again.

"Good morning," he says, testing a smile on me.

Ugh! There's that pesky smile again. Could he melt butter with that? Focus! I keep myself composed. I don't say a word.

"Come on, Lois, you can't still be mad about last night."

"No, Clark, I can." You can lie and I can stay mad.

"But why?" he pleads with me.

"Why? Were you not listening to anything I said last night? You keep secrets from me, and what happened last night just proves that."

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have kept that from you." He risks moving a little closer to me. Having smelled his shirt just yesterday, my nose immediately picks up on his scent. That darned flutter returns to my stomach. Mmm, his clothes had smelled nice, but he smells even better. I breathe him in and enjoy it, despite myself, as he continues to close the distance between us.

"Are you really?" I finally manage to ask him. Our bodies are in such close proximity that it's a little distracting. My mind keeps trying to picture Clark's perfectly formed body beneath those clothes. I've always known that Clark has a nice physique, from that first time I went to that dingy little apartment he was living in and he answered the door in just a towel.

But then when we had our *almost* first date, and we fell together on the couch, I felt that muscular form, up close and personal. The swell of his… muscles, and the feel of his body beneath the thin shirt he was wearing. I had run my hands along his chest before letting him get up off that couch. Oh, and then, then, he had undressed behind that foggy glass door. And now I know it's not only Clark's body I was admiring, but…Superman's!

No, Lois, think; stay clear. Clark lied — you're angry. I cross my hands against my chest and step backwards a little. "Are you sorry for hiding it? Or sorry you got caught? Do you have any other secrets you'd like to divulge to me? Now's the time."

Clark sets my coffee mug down on my desk. "Let me know when my partner, and friend, Lois Lane, comes back. I'd like to talk to *her*." He starts to walk off. Is he really going to leave it like this? Fine!

"Oh, that's nice, Clark. Real mature," I huff at him.

But I let him go. I don't have time to pursue this any further at the moment. I look down at my watch. It's almost showtime. I open my desk drawer and take out the cheap tube of lipstick I bought — the kind that bleeds off your lips really bad. I press it to my lips making sure to get a good thick application on them. I wait a few minutes for good measure — this has to seem believable — and then make my way over to Clark's desk.

I walk up behind him quietly and place my *marked* lips against the side of his neck, kissing him. The smell of his skin is accosting my nose. For a minute, I consider kissing him somewhere else, his lips look so inviting, but no, I don't have time for that right now.

"I'm sorry, you're right," I tell him. "I probably over-reacted about last night." I work hard not to gag on the words as I say them. I move my hand away and he turns his chair to look at me. I glance down at his throat — bingo!

He raises his eyebrows at me in disbelief and opens his mouth to say something. But, before any words come out, he gets a strange look on his face and moves to stand up. Wow, how many times have I seen that look before and not realized what it was for? But I know what it's for this time. Ha, she's right on schedule.

"Can we talk about this when I get back?" he asks.

"Get back? Where are you going? You're running off again while I'm trying to have a discussion with you?" I can't help myself. Besides, if I don't show a little irritation he'll be suspicious.

"I'm sorry. It's just that I…"

Oh come on, let's hear it. What's the excuse going to be this time?

"I, uh, forgot to mail a couple of bills that are due. I've gotta run back home and grab them. I'll be right back."

I almost laugh out loud. Like that's something he needs to do right this second? How could I have not seen through all those stupid, flimsy excuses he gave me whenever he needed to run off as Superman? Cheese of the Month Club? Yeah, right!

"Oh, well of course, you'd better go get them then," I say sarcastically. Now, if my *plant* does her job.

He smiles sheepishly at me and dashes off.

I wait for a few short minutes and here he comes, right back, adjusting his tie as he walks. So that's why he does that. He's checking to make sure everything's tucked and tied and nothing's exposed. I had always thought he was just obsessive over his tie being straight.

Wow! That was a quick trip home, I muse. What's his excuse gonna be to cover that? "Back already?" I ask him.

"Yeah. I got all the way downstairs and realized that I did mail them. Yesterday morning. I'd just forgotten."

"Oh. Well good thing you remembered. It would have been a shame to waste a trip all the way home for nothing." I can see in his face that my false sympathy isn't lost on him.

Okay, better take care of the smudge that is still on his neck. No sense taking the chance that someone else would notice the same mark on both Clark and Superman.

"Clark? What did you get on your neck?"


"There's a smudge on your neck."

"There is?"

"Yeah, right here," I say as I walk up and poke him in the neck. I lick my thumb and give him a spit bath, washing the evidence away. Not romantic, but hey, if he's going to act like a kid — lie like a kid — I'm going to treat him like one.

"Uh thanks, I think."

"You're welcome," I say sweetly. If I have to keep this up, I am going to gag. I'm itching to see how my evidence turned out. So I decide to come up with a lame excuse of my own. "Okay, well I'm off."

"You're leaving?"

"Huh? Oh yeah, I've got a minor little thing to take care of. Won't take too long. I'll be back when it's done. Bye, Clark!" I see the puzzled look on Clark's face out of the corner of my eye as I head towards the elevator. Ha. "It's not fun is it? Being left in the dark?" I mumble under my breath, knowing full well he can hear me if he's listening.

I restrain myself to keep my pace steady. It's all I can do not to run to the elevator. I can't wait to meet up with Michelle Sitkowitz, my neighbor I wrangled into helping me.


"I'm confused," Michelle was saying. She leaned against the doorframe of her apartment door and put one hand on her hip. "Why did you need me to get this picture of Superman for you? Aren't you and he close?"

I had set it up perfectly. I had Michelle drop a wad of money, my money, down a sewer vent just a little way down from the Daily Planet building. Then I had told her to call for help. I knew Superman would hear her, especially as close as she was. I told her she could explain that it was her grocery money for the week and she desperately needed it back. I knew being the boy scout he is that he wouldn't be able to resist. Then, once she had the money back, I told her to tell him she had her camera with her and ask if she could take his picture. The money was hers to keep, of course, for the favor.

"No, I wouldn't say close." No, obviously not *that* close since he still feels the need to lie to me and keep secrets from me. "It's for… a story I'm working on. I needed a specific picture of him on this specific day, and I couldn't let him know I was the one taking the picture."

"Oh, okay," Michelle says, not quite sounding convinced. "Well, here you go. As promised. You know I really don't want to keep this money. It really wasn't a big deal."

"No, I insist. Believe me, you earned it."

"Well, I have to admit, it was kind of exciting. Like I was helping you investigate a case or something."

Or something… "I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your help."

"Okay, well, I'll see you around; maybe at the next tenant's meeting, huh?"

"Oh, uh, maybe. Bye, Michelle. Thanks," I say, walking off towards my apartment.

"You're welcome! Bye."

I unlock my door and make my way inside, closing the door behind me. I open the envelope she gave me and take out the roll of film. Now to go find a one-hour photo lab.


"Um, when you asked for doubles, did you realize there was just one picture of Superman on this whole roll of film? Not any other pictures? The rest were blank." The clerk was giving me a funny look. He hands me the photo envelope and picks up the money I had laid on the counter.

Oh mind your own business, would ya? "Yeah, I'm a big fan. I just had to get this picture back. I couldn't wait."

He rolls his eyes slightly as he gets my change out of the cash register. Does he really think I can't see him doing that? If I wasn't in such a hurry to examine my prize photo, I would take the time to give him a piece of my mind.

I grab my change out of his outstretched palm and hurry back out to my car. Once inside, I open the envelope and pull out the picture.

There before me is the solid proof I've been looking for. A big lip-print-shaped smudge on Superman's handsome neck, right where I kissed him. Busted! Okay, now I'm ready. Now, I have the conclusive, infallible proof I need.


When I get back to the Planet, Clark and half the rest of the newsroom are nowhere to be seen. I look around and find all of them huddled together in the conference room. What's going on?

I head towards the door and Perry sees me. He begins frantically waving at me to hurry up and come inside. I walk through the door, trying to hide my embarrassment. Great, one of the few times I play hooky to take care of something personal, and I get caught red-handed.

Whatever's going on, it must be important because Perry doesn't even bring up my absence. I move over next to Clark.

"What's going on?" I whisper.

Clark seems agitated but, oddly enough, not with me. "A news report just came in that the Bank of Metropolis is being held-up at gun point. The robbers have hostages and are making demands. One man is already injured. He was hit by a ricochet when one of the robbers got excited and fired his gun," he whispers back to me.

Ah, I know why he's agitated now. He wants to *fly* off and help, but he's stuck here trying to find a reason to excuse himself from Perry's briefing so he can leave. See, Clark, if you'd just be honest and share your secret with me, I might be able to help.

But maybe I can help anyway and manage to get the exclusive on this story. My palms sweat with excitement at the thought. "Chief, we're wasting time here," I tell him. "Let Clark and I go down there. We'll get you that story."

"Wasting time? Uh, Lois, I wasn't the one off gallivanting around while everyone else was here, working on this story." Perry frowns at me.

I feel my cheeks redden, but I know he's going to concede. He wants this story.

"Sorry, I can explain." No, I can't really, but, I know the Chief, he won't want an explanation. It would waste too much time.

"No, Lois, just get down there and get me that story. Clark, you go with her."

"How 'bout me, Chief?" Jimmy asked, hopeful.

"Yeah, okay, you too, Jimmy. Get me some prize winning photos."

"Chief?" It seemed Clark had finally found his voice. "Lois doesn't need to go. It's going to be dangerous down there. Someone needs to stay here and keep trying to get through to our source at the precinct to see how negotiations are proceeding."

Oh, no you don't, Clark. If you think I'm going to do that, you've got another thing coming. "No way! I'm not staying. Perry knows I don't need to stay here to do that. He's perfectly capable of handling that on his own. Besides, it's his source anyway, not mine."

"Lois, I don't think…"

"No, Clark, you don't. You're welcome to come with me if you want, but I'm going." With that I head out of Perry's office, catching Jimmy's arm with mine as I leave. Perry and Jimmy seem to share some *knowing* look between them, but both of them are smart enough not to say anything. "Come on, Jimmy, grab your camera."

"Okay, fine, Lois, you win. You and Jimmy go on. I'll meet you there," Clark says in resignation.

Yes, I'm sure you will but I'm betting not as Clark.


"I'm sorry, ma'am, but you're going to have to stay back behind the police tape. I don't care who you are," the officer tells me gruffly. Ma'am? The kid can't be much younger than me, maybe twenty-five or twenty-six years old. His statement irks me a little. I'm certainly not over-the-hill. Ma'am? Fine, he won't let me get in close, maybe I can find another way around.

I just have to get closer to what's happening. The robbers have hostages inside, and they have the building wired with explosives to use if they don't get what they want. Superman arrived shortly before me and Jimmy, of course. He is talking with the chief of police and the bomb squad to work up a plan for him to get inside and diffuse the situation without harming any innocents.

Hmm, I wonder if there is another entrance to get inside the bank, maybe an employee entrance off to the side, or in the back? I decide to go exploring. I know it's a little reckless, a little dangerous, but since I also know Superman is here that takes some of the danger out of it. He'll save me if I get into too much trouble. But, that doesn't mean I want Jimmy taking risks with me.

"Okay, Jimmy, I'm going to go around back and see if there's anyway I can get in a little closer and find out what's going on. You stay out front here and keep an eye on things. You need to be here in case the robbers surrender, to take pictures. Be careful, okay?"

"Me? How 'bout you? I don't think CK will like you going off like this by yourself. It could be dangerous."

"Don't worry. Besides Clark isn't here right now to have to know about it."

I make my way down a side alley and begin closing in on the bank building from the back. I keep myself pressed close to the building I'm following and low to the ground.

I'm in luck; there's a back entrance into the bank. It's being guarded, however, by two police officers. How am I going to get past them?

Before I can contemplate that thought any further, the door violently swings open and an armed man comes out shooting the two police officers. I try to strangle a startled cry before it escapes my lips. But I'm too late, I realize, as the masked gunner looks my way. I've been spotted. What do I do?

The robber quickly bends down, taking the weapons from the downed officers, and then begins heading towards me. There's only one thing to do — run! I take off back down the alley, the way I came. I hear the sound of the gun firing and feel something hit me in the shoulder almost simultaneously. He shot me!

I fall to the ground in shock and reach up to feel the wound that I'm certain is there. Instead, I find a small dart sticking out of my shoulder; I jerk it out, inspecting it. As a feeling of nausea washes over me, I wonder — is it a poison dart or maybe just a tranquilizer? I don't feel any immediate pain; maybe it wasn't poison, I hope.

Whether it's poison or not, I'm in trouble. I feel my mind clouding over. Everything is getting hazy. A man's arms pull harshly on my body, dragging me deeper into the dark alley.

"Oh, baby, I really don't have time for this, but in your case I think I'll make time. Surely the other boys will understand," a deep, abrasive voice says in my ear. I feel something soft and wet slide across my ear and down the side of my face.

He… he licked me! Oh, that's disgusting. I raise an arm to slap him but my limbs are all beginning to feel like dead weights; they won't move. This can't be happening.

He shoves me roughly to the ground and begins pulling at my clothes. I can't keep my eyes open any longer. I'm still trying to fight him off but I'm losing consciousness.

Okay, no more time to fool around, I'm really in trouble here. I need help. "Clark," I try to scream out, but much to my horror it only comes out as a soft, strangled cry.

I hear the flick of a knife blade being opened and then there is a sharp tug on my hair. The last thing I hear before I pass out is the man's voice again. "Just a little souvenir to remember you by."


When I awaken, I'm in my apartment, in my bed. What happened? What am I doing here?

The room is dark, only lit by the moonlight streaming through the window. But I can see the morning sun beginning to peek above the horizon. I look down at what I'm wearing. I'm still in the clothes I had on yesterday. Have I been out all day and all night? I wrack my brain trying to remember what had happened…something, anything; but the last thing I can remember is the knife, the voice, and passing out.

I start to get out of bed and a wave of dizziness hits me. Oh, I sit back down; better move slow. After a few seconds, I try standing up again, successfully this time, and I head for the door. That's when I see him. Clark.

He's sitting in a chair in one corner of my bedroom, asleep. His head is resting against the wall next to him and there's a blanket thrown across him.

It's then that I realize — he saved me. Just like he always does. But, did he save me before… or… I swallow the lump that has formed in my throat. Or after? What had happened?

I close my eyes, reaching out with all my senses, trying to *feel* my body. I don't feel like I've been harmed or… invaded. I think if that had really happened I would know. I relax a little. He must have found me just after I passed out.

I walk up to him quietly, trying not to wake him. He looks exhausted. Does Superman really get tired? Well, maybe the exhaustion wasn't so much from being tired, but from worry.

A small smile spreads across my face as I realize how much he cares about me; how much he worries about me. All irritation with him forgotten, I lean over and cautiously remove the glasses he purposefully left on his face before falling asleep.

I watch his chest as it rises and falls. I look at the awkward way he had to sit in order to sleep in the chair. Why had he slept in this uncomfortable chair? He could have slept in the living room on one of the loveseats. Granted, they aren't the most comfortable in the world, but it's gotta be better than this.

Because, I tell myself, he wanted to be as close to me as possible, so that he could watch over me. Why didn't he just lie next to me in bed? But even as I ask myself, I know the answer. Clark would never presume on me like that.

Had I really been planning to torture this man? Hound him, browbeat him into finally telling me his secret? This man who loves me, does everything he can to protect me?

I know now that I can't go through with it. I'm still hurt, but I'm not angry, not any more. Deep down I know he has good reasons to hide his identity. He wouldn't have any kind of life if people knew that he is Superman. He probably even rationalized not telling me by thinking he was protecting me somehow.

No, I'm not mad, but I still haven't really come to grips with it, not completely. I mean here he is, Clark, my best friend with the promise of maybe so much more, and yet he's the most powerful being on the planet, a hero to millions. How do you wrap your mind around that one?

I look down at the glasses I'm still holding in my hands. How did I never look past these and see him for who he really is? But maybe I had known who he *really* is all along. After all, he didn't live his life as Superman. He lived, breathed, worked, and… loved, as Clark.

I feel a pang of guilt in my chest. He has always loved me as Clark, and I have time after time thrown myself at him as Superman, at the same time ignoring Clark. No wonder he hasn't told me.

My bladder reminds me with sudden urgency that I probably haven't given it any attention for too long a period of time. Well, this will give me a chance to freshen up a little anyway, and survey the damage, if there is any.


When I walk into my bathroom and look into the mirror, I have to stifle the scream that tries to come flying out of my mouth. My hair! There is a chunk missing from my hair! And the rest of it doesn't look so hot either, but that comes from sleeping on it for part of the day and all night.

I grab the section of hair that is missing a chunk from the bottom half. It's been neatly severed off by something. I remember my attacker pulling that knife out and what he had said before I passed out. 'Just a little souvenir to remember you by.'

What a sicko! He had cut a chunk of my hair off and was going to keep it as a memento. Ugh! There had to be some kind of clinical name for a weirdo like that. A few names came to my mind, but none of them clinical.

Great! Well, there is no way *that* could be repaired. I'm going to have to get my hair cut, short. What a way to start the day.

I grab my brush and a ponytail band off my sink and begin working the brush through my hair. I don't want to go around with a funny looking piece of hair sticking out all day today. I need to call the beauty salon as soon as they open to see if they can work me in later today, or first thing tomorrow maybe.

After pulling my hair back, taking care of some business, and brushing my teeth, I feel a lot better. I feel human again.

Now at least when Clark wakes up, I won't look like a deviant. Not that I didn't have an excuse, but still.


When I come back into my bedroom, I notice the sunlight beginning to softly stream in through the window. It casts a surreal glow across Clark's face. I start to put his glasses back on his face, but I hesitate. He looks so handsome; I just can't resist. I bend down over him, applying a soft kiss to each of his eyes, but I don't stop there. I move down further and brush my lips lightly across his.

It isn't much of a kiss but it moves me deeply. I've kissed Clark before, and I've kissed Superman before. But somehow, it's different now.

He begins to stir at my contact, and I start to pull back; but his hands, his arms, stop me as they reach around my waist, holding me in place.

"Lois?" he whispers, blinking his eyes against the light. "What are you doing up? Are you okay?"

"Yeah. I'm okay… thanks to you."

"No, not me. It was Superman. He found you in the alley. A man was on top of you…" he broke off, lowering his gaze, and was quiet for a moment. "But you were okay. Nothing happened."

He looks back up at me, smiling softly, but then his look changes to horror. He releases one hand from behind my waist and brings it up to his face; at the same time he looks at the object I have in my hand.

He reaches out to take them from me but I hold them up, out of his reach.

Since I've decided that I'm not going to torture him about this, I decide not to beat around the bush. "I don't really think you need these anymore, at least not right now, do you… Superman?"

A grimace shadows his face and he looks like he is preparing himself for a firing squad. I almost giggle. Well, good; I might not still be mad at him, but I am glad to at least know he's worried.

"Can I ask you a question?" I ask him.

"Okay," he says hesitantly.

"Did you catch the robbers? And save the people at the bank?"

He looks confused. I have to restrain myself to keep from smiling.

"Are you sure that's the question you wanted to ask me?"

"Uh huh," I say, nodding my head.

"Yes. I was able to diffuse the explosives and get everyone out safe. The two cops who got shot in that alley behind the bank are both okay. They were shot with tranquilizers like you were — except the guy shot them each twice, so they got a heavier dose. The hostage who had been wounded by the ricochet is recovering and will be okay. The robbers are of course claiming they hadn't planned to hurt anyone, and that's why they used tranquilizer guns on the police; the ricochet was just an accident. I handed the robbers over to the police but one of them had to be taken to the hospital for injuries."

"Injuries? What happened to him?" I ask, curious.

Clark looks away from me and sits in silence for a few moments. "I injured him," he says softly.

"What? How?"

When he begins talking, his voice is even softer than before. "It was the man who attacked you. When I found you and I saw what he had done to you, what he was trying to do, I…" he trails off.

"Is he going to be okay?" To be honest, I'm not sure I even care, but I know he does. Superman stands for justice, and he never carries out that justice himself. I realize something; his feelings for me had pushed him over the edge.

"Yeah. He sustained a broken jaw and cheekbone where I punched him, and a couple of broken ribs when I threw him away from you and into the wall of the building next to us."

I don't know what to do, what to say to him. I take his head in my hands and kiss him deeply. He responds, kissing me back, and wrapping his arms around me tightly. Then he draws away from my lips to rest the side of his head against my stomach. I run my hands through his hair and just allow him to hold me.

"Thank you, Clark," I say after a few moments. "Thank you for saving me. It's not enough, not nearly enough, but thank you."

"Can I ask *you* something?"

"Anything," I assure him.

"Why did you do that? Why did you take such a big risk like that?"

I feel the embarrassment flush my cheeks. "Honestly?" I ask, and then I sigh. "Because I knew Superman was there, and I knew he would save me if anything went wrong. I already knew you were Superman. I figured with you there, nothing bad would happen."

The pain I see in his face hurts me, deep down inside. "How could you think that?" he asks me. "What if I'd had to choose? What if it had meant someone else had gotten hurt, or died?"

He goes silent for a bit, and I feel a wave of shame come over me. He's right. I haven't really thought about it in those terms. I try to find my voice to tell him that, but he breaks the silence first, his voice painfully quiet. "What if I hadn't made it in time? What if…"

"I'm sorry, Clark. Really I am. It was a stupid thing to do," I say, interrupting him.

He tries to smile at me but the pain in his eyes is still there. "Lois, promise me something."

"I can't promise anything without knowing what it is."

He lets out a sigh. "Promise me that you won't test me like that again, not on purpose. I won't ask you to stop being the best reporter you can be, but please don't take unnecessary risks, even if you know I'm there. Please. I don't know what I would have done if I'd gotten there too late. That man…I might have…"

He might have what? Killed him? No, he wouldn't do that. Superman wouldn't do that. But, what if I'm wrong? Does he really love me *that* much? The thought makes my legs weak, and I slide down onto his lap.

"I promise," I say softly, and I mean it. He felt like I was testing him? I had planned to test him but in a different way, but that is done. There will be no more experiments; there's no need, the results are already in.

He reaches into his pocket pulling something back out in his hand.

"Here, I think this belongs to you," he says, grimacing.

What? He opens his hand to reveal a thick clipping of my hair. I take it from him, frowning, and I reach up to check that my ponytail is still secure. "I wondered where it had ended up. I guess I get to get a new hairdo."

"I bet you'll look cute with short hair," he says, smiling playfully at me. Then he continues, "Can I ask you another question?"

I nod my head at him.

"When did you find out?"

"Remember when I found you, as Superman, and you were fighting the Kryptonite exposure?" He nods his head. "I had come there to check on *you*, Clark. You told me you weren't feeling well at work and then disappeared. So I went by your place to check on you. Then, after that business with Diana Stride later at the hospital, I went back by your apartment again to check on you."

I can see the appreciation in his eyes. Does he not realize how much I care about him?

"Plus, I wanted to help clean up the glass I busted out of your door. Since you weren't home, I decided to clean it up for you anyway. I couldn't find your broom anywhere and in the process of looking for it, I found the Superman costumes in your closet. Diana had been there already and had left your secret compartment open. So when I opened the closet, there they were, screaming at me to see them."

"But what about the press conference? What I told everyone?"

"I had already convinced myself by then that you were Superman. Your little presentation didn't fool me." Clark looks like he's a little worried; I venture a guess why. "Don't worry. The explanation was good enough to fool everyone else. Just not me. How did you do it?"

"My mom had a holograph projector that she was using in one of her art projects. We used it to create a holograph of Superman."

Ah, that made sense. So I didn't imagine those blurry lines.

"Impressive," I tell him.

"So you were positive I was Superman, even after I tried convincing everyone I wasn't?"

"Well, not positive. I was pretty certain… ninety-nine point nine percent." I smile at him. "But that point one percent kept nagging at the back of my mind. So I conducted a little experiment to prove to myself once and for all that you were Superman."

"Experiment?" he asks.

"Uh-huh. Hang on," I tell him, going to the other room to grab the photo Michelle had taken of him. I come back into the room and hand it to him.

His eyes take in the photo and then they look back up at me, smiling. "I wondered why you apologized so easily to me that morning. That just seemed so not you. You only apologized so you could kiss me?"

I blush fiercely. "Well, it was the only way I could be sure. I knew if I kissed Clark, and left some evidence behind, and the evidence showed up on Superman… then bingo!"

"So the woman I helped…"

"Was a plant," I finish for him.

He smiles and shakes his head slightly, handing the photo back to me. "I should have known to never try and hide from investigative reporter, Lois Lane."

"Why did you hide?"

"From you? I never really wanted to hide from you. I created Superman so I could have a life. The closer we became, the more I wanted to tell you. I just didn't know how to get past the lie. I knew you'd be upset. Upset that I lied to you, and mad, and who knows what else. Are you?"

"I was at first. I tried so hard to drop little hints after I found out. I wanted you to tell me, and I was furious when you dodged me, when you wouldn't be honest. But I think I understand why you did it, and I'm coming to terms with that. It's still a little hard to believe, and I still feel hurt that I had to find out on my own, that you didn't tell me."

"I know, Lois, and I'm sorry for lying to you." He pauses and looks away from my face. I reach out and touch his face, turning him back to me, and he continues. "I wanted to know; I wanted to believe that you could love *me*, for just me…"

"I know, Clark. You wanted to know that I loved you and not the flashy guy in the red, yellow, and blue suit. But I do. That *is* who I love." Oh my god! Did I just really say that out loud? Yep, I did, and there's no taking it back now. I'm not even sure I'd want to take it back, even if I could.

Clark doesn't look like he believes what I just said either. I smile shyly at him through lowered lashes. "Oh god, um, I didn't really mean to blurt it out like that. I'm sorry, it's just that I…"

"I love you, too, Lois." He captures my mouth in his in a long, slow, tender kiss. When he tries to break off the kiss I immediately seek his mouth in return, hungering for more. I taste the inside of his lips with my tongue. Oh, the scent of him is driving me wild. I can't believe this is happening. I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that I would be here at this point in time, making out with Clark Kent.

I make small gasps between our lips as he runs his hands down my body, touching me softly, on my neck, my back, my thigh. We both get up, moving over to the more comfortable surface of the bed, kissing and touching one another.

Our breath is coming in short ragged bursts between kisses. I'm suddenly very glad I was able to brush my teeth this morning and freshen up. His hands continue their gentle exploration of my body, being careful not to touch any area even remotely questionable. What's he waiting for? An invitation? Well yes, probably, knowing Clark.

Do I want to give him an invitation? Yes, my body beckons, I do. Without breaking contact with his lips, I begin unbuttoning his shirt, feeling his muscular chest beneath my fingers as I move down from button to button. It wasn't too long ago that I'd held one of his shirts in my hands, feeling myself aroused by the scent of the man on it, but it felt like a lifetime ago. Would I have believed that I'd be here now, with the real thing? Clark's arms wrap around me, holding me, as his body coaxes me to lie back on the bed. He follows me down onto the soft, inviting surface.

Oh god, where is this going? At what point do we stop? Do I even want it to stop? Is all of this too soon? I mean, I love him, Clark, Superman, all of him, but are we ready for this? Every nerve ending in my body has begun to tingle, and my heart is beating so hard I think I can literally hear it pounding. No… That pounding sound isn't my heart. It's… Oh no, not now! The sound is the knocking of a fist on my front door. Ugh! What timing! Who could that possibly be?

Clark pulls away from me, trying to compose himself. He glances in the direction that my front door would be. "You should probably get that. It's Jimmy."


Out of habit I start to look through the peephole on my door. I catch myself and realize I don't need to bother with that when my boyfriend has x-ray vision. I fling the door open, and Jimmy is standing there with his fist raised, about to knock again.

"Lois! Hi! How are you? Are you okay?" He has a worried look on his face which causes the irritation I'm feeling with him to ease.

"Yeah, Jimmy, I'm okay. Still a little light-headed." Not really from the tranquilizer but I'm not about to tell him that. "But I'm feeling much better."

"Oh, thank goodness. Never again, Lois. I'm never letting you talk me into staying put like that again, while you run off and get yourself into trouble."

I smile in spite of myself. "That's sweet, really, but what could you have done? If you had gone with me, then Superman would've had to rescue two tranq'd-out reporters. It's okay. I'm fine now."

Clark had come walking up behind me while Jimmy and I were talking. Jimmy has an amazed look of disbelief on his face.

"CK? Did you spend the night here?"

Clark hesitates, so I answer for him. "Yeah, he did. He's so sweet. He wanted to make sure I was okay and wanted to be here in case I needed something. Did *you* need something, Jimmy?"

"Uh, no, I just had a message to deliver from the Chief. He says if you even think of showing your face today at work that you're fired."

I smile broadly at him. "Ah, good 'ol Perry. He knows if he doesn't order me to stay home that I'll be there. Well, you tell him I said he'll get no arguments from me today. I don't plan to leave my apartment all day." I throw a look over my shoulder at Clark and it seems to me that he blushes.

"I'll do that," Jimmy assures me.

"Oh, and Jimmy, tell Perry that the same goes for Clark, too. I may need him to do a few things for me today." Or to me. God, what am I saying? Now it's my turn to blush.

Jimmy looks at me, then Clark, then back at me again. He raises his eyebrows slightly.

"What?" I ask him, putting a little irritation into my voice. "Did I stutter? Now get going and let him know I'll be in bright and early tomorrow; and he'd better not think of ordering me not to."

"Yes ma'am," he says, making a little mock salute to me. "Well, you two don't get into too much trouble today, ya hear?"

Ha, don't count on it. I plan to get into plenty of trouble. I reach out and smack him playfully on the arm. "We'll try not to. Bye, Jimmy."

"Bye, Lois, CK."

"Bye, Jimmy," Clark chimes in.

I close the door and turn around, right into Clark's open arms.

"Now, where were we?"