50 First Revelations

By Matrix And Sue S <sistersuze@gmail.com>

Rated: PG-13

Submitted: April, 2007

Summary: Lois wakes up one morning having memory problems. Is she merely trying to block out a painful experience or is something else behind her mysterious amnesia? (Inspired by the concept of "50 First Dates") A multiauthored story by Matrix and Sue S.

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, without them we wouldn't have this wonderful world to play in.

Thank you Sue… not only for always being willing to beta the constant barrage of stories I send your way, but for allowing me to rope you in to co-write this story with me — DJ.

And thank you to Julie (Jomurf) for being the GE on this monster.


Clark Kent is Superman…

Lois woke with a start, her calf muscle drawing up into a charley horse.


She alternated pointing her toes and drawing them back, trying to work it out. She sat up in bed and reached down to rub and soothe the protesting limb.

Now, what had awakened her so suddenly?

Clark Kent is Superman…

The thought was screaming at her. It was true. He was Superman. It was as plain as… as vanilla ice cream without chocolate sauce.

She shook her head trying to clear some of the fog. Had that realization just come to her? In her dreams?

No. No, it was coming back to her now. Clark's parents had been kidnapped. Nigel had wanted her dead. She'd petitioned Superman to freeze her so she would appear to be dead, and just before he'd done as she asked… he had touched her, cupped her face…

Just like Clark!

Clark had touched her the same way, only hours before, when she'd told him she would do anything to help him get his parents back.

And she had… up to and including almost dying for them. And yet…

She hadn't even known whom she was doing it for.


Feeling a little woozy, she lay back down in bed. She remembered now with startling clarity — as soon as Superman had touched her, the feeling had resonated deep down inside her and she had known he was Clark. It was like someone had thrown a light switch.

When she had opened her eyes and looked into those soulful brown eyes, she had wondered how she'd never seen it before.

And she had known right then that, when he brought her back, everything was going to change.

She blinked her eyes a few times, trying to get the sleep out of them. What time was it? It was still dark outside. She looked over at her alarm clock — four-thirty.

She tried tentatively to sit up again. The room seemed stable now and she swung her legs off the side of the bed, standing up. She grabbed her robe off the end of her bed and made her way towards the bathroom.

She knew her apartment like the back of her hand, and that's why it surprised her when she stubbed her foot hard against something… something where there should have been nothing.

"Crap! Son-of-a…!" She hopped up and down on the other foot while grabbing the injured appendage and squeezing it tightly.

She'd be lucky if she hadn't broken a toe!

She bent over and squinted through the darkness to get a better look at the offensive object.

It was a potted plant… the kind that you would get delivered from a flower shop. Except that it was a nicer one than you would usually get delivered — planted inside a heavy, decorative ceramic flowerpot.

A flowerpot that she hadn't ever bought.

Where had it come from? It hadn't been there… before. How had it gotten in her apartment?

She immediately became paranoid. Had someone broken into her apartment?

Oh, yeah, Lane, brilliant. Someone broke into your apartment to leave you a potted plant. Yeah, that made a lot of sense.

Still… where had it come from?

She grabbed the crystal candlestick off of her dresser and held it up, wielding it as a weapon. She went methodically through her apartment, just to make sure no one *had* broken in… and might still be there. She left the lights off, hoping it would give her the advantage over them.


She should call, Clark… err… Superman. In case someone *was* here.

Shouldn't she?

No. No, she shouldn't. What would she say? He didn't even know that she knew… what she knew.

And she wasn't exactly sure she knew how she felt about… what she knew.

How exactly was she supposed to feel? She loved Clark… and she had loved Superman, or at least thought she had been in love with him… more like infatuated with him. And now, to find out they were the same person…

Her head hurt and she felt a little dizzy again. She finished up her inspection of her apartment in her bathroom and leaned against the countertop, taking a few deep breaths.

Clark Kent is Superman.

She reached out and flipped the light switch on, blinking a few times against the sudden onslaught. When her eyes finally adjusted she looked in the mirror in front of her.

What she saw frightened her worse than having a new decoration in her bedroom.

Her hair…

It was short. It had been cut. When? Why? By whom? She'd been needing to get a haircut — her hair was getting too long and unmanageable — but she hadn't gotten one yet. When she'd gone to Superman, err… Clark, to ask him to freeze her, her hair had been long, down past her shoulders.

Now… it was short, up above her shoulders — and layered to boot. She never layered her hair. And there was a bandage on her head, up next to her hairline.

For god's sake, what had happened to her after Clark froze her?

She reached up and carefully peeled the bandage back from her head. There was a nasty looking gash and a well-defined bump behind it.

Things must have gotten bad with Mazik.

So where was Clark? He had just thawed her out, brought her back here to her apartment and… dumped her off? The thought made her mad. How could he do that? He loved her, didn't he? How could he just bring her back here and leave her after something as traumatic as what she'd obviously been through? Unless…


What if…

…he hadn't made it?

She felt dizzy again and sat down on her toilet. No. No, if Superman had died… if Clark had died… someone would still be here with her. Perry. Or Jimmy.


They wouldn't have left her all alone at a time like this. There had to be some other explanation.

And the first thing she was going to do when she got to the Planet that morning was find out what that explanation was.

Clark a.k.a. Superman was going to give it to her.


Clark had dreaded the thought of going in to work today. Lois was going to be upset with him.

Truth be told, she wasn't supposed to come in today. Hell, Perry had practically threatened to fire her if she showed her face in the next week.

But he knew Lois. She couldn't sit still.

And after last night… there was no way she *wasn't* going to come in to work today. If for nothing else, she would come in just to confront him in the light of a new day.

He wasn't sure if she would be hurt or if she would be livid. Either emotion was equally distressing to contemplate.

He didn't regret what he had done — that wasn't it. He would stand by his decision. But what he was going to regret would be the aftermath. Hurricane Lane wouldn't be easy to weather.

And if he had dreaded coming in to work — he had been dreading what had just happened, even more.

Lois had just stepped off the elevator.

Her eyes met his instantly. They looked determined… and yet, there was something else in them.

Relief? Yes, it looked like relief and almost a… twinkle.

A twinkle? How could that be? What was she up to? He watched as she pointed at him and motioned towards the conference room.

He took in a deep, shaky breath and obediently headed into the conference room. She followed him inside and shut the door behind them. He turned around to look at her and she had a funny little smirky grin on her face.

What was up with her this morning?

"Do you have anything you want to tell me?" she prompted him, raising an eyebrow inquisitively.


"Anything. Anything at all…?"

His mind raced. What did she want? Was she expecting him to apologize for last night? To take back what he had said? Well it wasn't going to happen. He had meant what he'd said to her last night.

He frowned, letting a sigh escape from his lips, and he crossed his arms in front of his chest stubbornly. The action seemed to catch her off guard and her smile fell.

The confidence she'd felt about approaching him and telling him that she knew he was Superman fell — just a little — when he had given her that look. What had happened last night?

Well, first things first. She was determined that she was going to get through this… they'd deal with whatever had happened… after.

She had thought about skillfully trying to torture a confession out of him that he was Superman. But after this reception… well, now she was just irritated. So when the words came, they came hard and fast. "I know you're Superman."

He didn't react. He just sat stood there staring at her like he expected her to continue.

Did he already know she knew? Had she already said something last night? Had they fought and that's why he was being so aloof?

"And…" he finally said after her long pause.

"And? What do you mean 'and'? That's it. I figured it out. I know you're Superman," she stated adamantly, crossing her arms across her chest, mimicking him.

"Lois, come on, quit playing games. I'm really not in the mood," he said wearily. "Let's just get to the point." What was her deal? Of course she knew he was Superman. What kind of approach was this to what he'd told her last night? He wasn't really sure where she was going with this.

"Fine. Get to the point? Okay, I can do that. Why don't you tell me what went wrong?"

He sighed exasperatedly. Did she really want him to rehash everything that he'd already told her? This was ridiculous. He moved towards the door. "Lois, I'm not going to do this. You know how I feel. I told you. I stand by my actions. Now if you'll excuse me. I've gotta get to work." He reached out to open the door and she pulled on his arm from behind him.

"Excuse you? No, I don't think I will. I can't remember what exactly happened last night after you came to my apartment." He watched as she reached up to tug at her hair. "First off, can you explain to me why I'm sporting this new 'do'?"

Clark shook his head in confusion. What? She was asking him about her hairstyle choice? What did that have to do with anything? "How should I know — you chose it," he answered her exasperatedly. She frowned, looking confused, and he sighed, deciding to indulge her a little. He'd take his best stab at what she wanted him to say. "You said it had something to do with wanting to get a fresh start. That getting a new haircut sort of physically embodied that *fresh start* for you."

What? What was he talking about? *She* chose this haircut? Just like that? On the spur of the moment? After being frozen and held by a madman? That didn't sound like her…

But, then again, hadn't he warned her that she could possibly suffer some serious side effects from being frozen? Hadn't he even mentioned something along the lines of an aneurysm? Maybe this was some sort of weird side effect…

A deep sense of horror overcame her as she wondered what other lifestyle changes she had made before coming to her senses. She quickly thought back to that morning, she didn't remember seeing any piercings or tattoos or anything like that when she had put her make-up on. So maybe her haircut had been the worst of it.

What bothered her more, though, and seemed even stranger, was that Clark seemed absolutely confused by her question.

"Clark. I'm really getting tired of playing games…"

"You are!" he exclaimed sarcastically, pulling his arm away.

"Just stop. Okay? Just stop for a minute and let me get my bearings," she told him, her voice a tangle of both irritation and desperation. "The last thing I remember was asking you to freeze me so that we could save your parents. That's the last real thing I remember. Then I woke up in bed this morning and…" She broke off because his face had gone absolutely pale.

"What do you mean that's the last thing you remember?" he asked her, his voice eerily quiet.

"Exactly what I said. That's the last thing I remember. I remember you reaching out to touch me and realizing that, you, Superman, and, you, Clark, were the same person. Then you told me to close my eyes and… I woke up in bed last night, a bump on my head and a new hairstyle later." She was beginning to feel a little unsettled because the longer she talked the more pale he was becoming. Finally he grabbed a chair and took a seat, running a hand through his hair. "Clark, did something go wrong? How did I get this?" She reached up and felt her head, wincing at the contact. "And why did you just bring me back to my apartment and leave me? After everything that had most likely happened, I didn't expect to wake up alone in the middle of the night."

"Lois… I…" he shook his head and reached out to take her hands in his. Something was very wrong. Could it be from the concussion she had sustained? He couldn't understand how she could be *missing* so much. "I think you'd better sit down." He pulled a chair out for her and she hesitantly took a seat. "I don't know what's happened exactly but…"

Clark was scaring her. Something really was wrong. She could tell by the look on his face. Why didn't he just come out and tell her? "What is it? Just tell me!"

"That night that I… froze you. That happened almost a month ago."

It was a good thing he had asked her to sit down because if she hadn't, she was sure her legs would have given way beneath her. As it was, her head was swimming and her vision was spotting and flashing. A month ago? How was that possible? She'd forgotten a whole month? No. That wasn't possible. The room blurred and darkened.

Clark reached out to catch her before her body slid from the chair she was sitting in. "Lois? Lois!" He picked her up into his arms and carried her out of the conference room into Perry's office.

"Chief!" he bellowed.

"Clark? Lois?" Perry said, eyeing Clark as he carried an unconscious Lois into his office. "What in the Sam Hill is going on? What's she doing here? I thought I made myself perfectly clear when I told her to stay home?"

"Something's wrong. She doesn't remember anything that's happened the past few weeks. When she came in just now she was all confused and when I tried to explain what had happened, she passed out." He heard the shakiness in his voice. It wasn't bad enough that he'd been careless enough to let her get hurt when Bob Fences had fired up that micro-transmitter — now it seemed there was going to be even worse repercussions.

Clark shifted her in his arms a little so that her limp head was resting gently against his shoulder. "Dr. Peterson had scheduled her to come by his office later this afternoon for a follow-up appointment, but I think, under the circumstances, maybe I should go ahead and take her back to the hospital. Can you reassign my stories, at least for today? I'm not sure how long I'll be gone."

"Already done. You call me the minute they find something out, okay?"

Clark nodded at him and left his office with Lois still in his arms, headed for the elevators. Once inside he pulled the emergency stop button. He needed to make a quick change. Superman could get her to the hospital a lot faster.


Lois woke up in an unfamiliar room. She blinked several times as she realized she was in a hospital room and that beeping sound nearby was a monitor sounding out her own heartbeat. She looked to her left just as Clark lifted his head.

"Hey," he said softly. "How are you feeling?"

She pushed herself up on her elbows. What had happened? Why was she in the hospital? She wiggled her toes and fingers to establish that there was nothing wrong with them. There was an IV in her right arm and a small monitor clipped to her middle finger. She was in a hospital gown. Who had undressed her? She looked over at Clark again and then she remembered — Clark was Superman. He had frozen her and…

"Clark! Your parents! Are they okay? Did it work?"

His face fell and her breath stuck in her throat. It hadn't worked. Nigel and Jace had killed them after all.

"My parents are just fine," Clark said, feeling the dread rise up in him. How much had she forgotten now? "You're in the hospital because you passed out at work this morning."

"So you took me to the hospital? Isn't that a little extreme?" Why had she passed out? She squinted her eyes shut and concentrated.

"You don't remember talking to me this morning at work?" he prompted.

<That night that I… froze you. That happened almost a month ago.>

Oh god, she remembered now. A month ago? How could that be possible?

"Oh," she answered softly. "Yes, I remember that now." She let out a frustrated sigh. "I remember that I don't remember anything." She put one hand to her head and groaned. "I really did cut my hair, didn't I?"


"How long ago was that?"

"That was almost a week ago."

She felt an urge that couldn't be ignored and swung her legs over the right side of the bed. She focused on the door a few feet away. It had to be a bathroom.

"What are you doing?" Clark asked.

Lois ignored him, grabbing hold of the IV pole next to her bed to drag it along with her. She had only taken one step when she realized there was a substantial breeze at her backside. It was the wide-open back of her hospital gown — ugh, who made these things? She reached with her left hand to awkwardly pull it closed.

"Where do you think you're going?" he persisted.

"To the bathroom. I suddenly remembered that I drank a lot of coffee this morning." She tried to look somewhat dignified as she shuffled across the cold floor, clutching her gown tightly closed and pulling the IV pole along with her.

Under different circumstances, Clark might have smiled. Right now it was just too painful. He had hoped that when she woke up she would be back to her old self. Even if that meant she'd be spoiling for a good fight after what he'd said to her last night.

He knew he was right. If anyone found out that Superman and Lois Lane had a romantic relationship… The thought of another Jason Mazik using Lois to control him was enough to send him into a cold sweat. He was certain his heart had stopped when he saw her lying so motionless on the floor after the explosion. It had haunted him and caused him to reconsider their relationship. Was he willing to risk her life for his own selfish needs?

It had broken his heart to even think about not being with her. What if his dad was right? What if it wasn't possible for him to marry or have a family of his own? What if it was simply too dangerous? And here was the proof of all those dark prophecies. Lois had been hurt, almost killed, and it was entirely due to him. His selfishness, his desires, his foolish overconfidence in his own abilities.

It had almost destroyed him to actually have to tell her that he couldn't be with her. Was he going to have to tell her that they couldn't be together all over again? He had spent all of last night remembering the pain and anguish in her eyes as he broke both their hearts.

The ache inside him intensified and he wearily sat down to wait for her to come back.

As she washed her hands Lois looked at her reflection in the mirror. Yep — the hair was still short. There was still a bandage on her forehead. And there was an entire month of her life that was lost to her. What had she done for the past month? Why on earth had she cut her hair? How had she come to terms with Clark's secret? Why was he being so weird now? What had happened in the past month between them? There was such a marked difference between his gentle touch just before he froze her and the guilty expression on his face now.

She opened the door and came back into the room. He stood up, looking as if he were ready to come around the bed to help her if she even looked like she might stumble.

"So how did I get this concussion?" she asked as she carefully sat down on the bed.

"Superman was trying to save an island from being fried, so he destroyed this micro-transmitter machine. But it caused a malfunction and the machine blew up. He was trying to save you and the two criminals from being caught in the explosion." His face blanched and she could see his pain and worry. When he spoke again his voice was barely a whisper, "But I wasn't careful enough and you got hurt." His eyes looked a little glassy and there was self-doubt and blame in his voice.

"I'm sure it wasn't his… your fault," she told him softly. "I bet you saved us all. Obviously you did or I wouldn't be here." She reached out and touched his cheek affectionately. "Don't look so worried. You've had amnesia before. Only you forgot everything. I'm only missing a month." She took her hand from his cheek to cautiously feel the bandage on her forehead. "So is this what caused my amnesia?"

He shook his head. "The doctor says you're suffering from anterograde amnesia — it's a form of amnesia where you can remember everything up to the point of the trauma…"

"But that doesn't make sense. The trauma was from the head wound I received… what, yesterday? So why don't I remember that or anything for a month prior to that?"

Clark winced as if he'd been slapped. "I shouldn't have let you talk me in to freezing you."

"What do you mean? Are you saying that it was the *freeze* that caused it?" she exclaimed in disbelief.

"It's possible that my freezing you was a catalyst. I told you it was dangerous. I tried to warn you that it could cause arterial ruptures, brain damage, I didn't know what else. Obviously it must have caused some damage and then when you hit your head and got this concussion it aggravated an already unstable condition." It was hard for her to look him in the eyes… they were so full of regret and pain.

"Clark, it's not your fault. I asked you to do that. It was my decision." She was certain it had been the right decision. Clark's parents were alive because of it. "So I was fine for a month and now I'm not?" She shook her head. "I don't buy that. Something else happened. I can feel it. What was so traumatic about the last month that I don't want to remember it?" She studied his face closely, seeing at once that he looked more tired, more guarded than he had yesterday — or her yesterday, at any rate.

What had happened in the last month between them?

Clark focused on the toes of his shoes and tried to think of a way to answer her. It seemed an impossible task.

"Why are you avoiding me?" she asked softly.

He shook his head. "I'm not avoiding you."

"Yes, you are. You won't even look at me, Clark."

In response he turned his head and gave her a weary smile. "I'm not avoiding you, Lois. I'm just worried about you."

His words set off a feeling of panic inside her. She had an odd sense of vertigo, like she was looking over a high cliff and she reached out to him, suddenly wanting the comfort of his arms around her and desperately afraid that he was going to turn her down.

"Clark," she said in a hoarse whisper as her hand touched his shoulder, "I'm scared, Clark. Would you please hold me?"

He hesitated for a moment and then rose to sit on the edge of her bed. She sat up, wrapping her arms around him and he trembled. This was exactly what he wanted and it was exactly what he couldn't have. Clark closed his eyes and pulled her close against him, letting his chin dip to rest on her shoulder as he inhaled the clean, familiar scent of her hair. I love you, he thought. Lois, I love you so much. I'm so sorry…

"What have I forgotten, Clark?" she whispered.

"Nothing that won't come back, I'm sure," he answered.

"Have you kissed me in the last month? Have I forgotten that?"

"Yes." He shut his eyes tighter, feeling a tight sensation in his throat and chest at everything he was giving up for her sake. She didn't remember, didn't know, about the night on Spencer Spencer's island when he had bared his soul to her. She didn't remember any of those kisses and, somehow, her forgetting them now made it seem as if none of that had ever happened. The ache in his chest increased.

Her lips moved against his neck and he went to pull away. This was too much. He couldn't hold her like this. Not ever again.

"Clark," she whispered, tightening her grip on him. She brought her lips up from his neck towards his mouth. He watched with guilt-ridden hunger as her lips parted to taste his…

And then he turned away. "The doctor should be here any time to check on you." He shifted uncomfortably on the bed before finally standing up. Clark couldn't bring himself to turn around and look at her. He was certain she was staring in bewildered amazement at his back. "It's good that you're awake so you can hear what he has to say."

"What I really want to hear," she said evenly, after a moment's hesitation, "is what memories I've lost from the past month." Clark had something to hide. She was sure of it. He said he wasn't trying to avoid her… but he was.

And it scared her.

"Had we come to terms with me knowing… what I know?" She loved Clark. She knew that. But yet there was an underlying feeling of anger, right there below the surface. It had been nagging at her ever since she had woken up that morning. She had managed to push it out of her mind, but when he had pulled away just now, it had come flooding back. "I want the truth, Clark."

"Not here, Lois. Not like this. Once the doctor comes in to talk to you and releases you, I'll take you home and we can talk then. Okay?" His voice was almost pleading with her as he finally turned around to face her.

Clark hated that he was going to have to relive last night… again. He was going to have to tell her again, that they couldn't be together. He was going to have to see that pain in her eyes all over again. He wasn't sure he could do that to her… right now. She had so much she was dealing with.

He would put it off as long as he could.

Then another thought hit him. She didn't even remember the proposal! If she remembered nothing after the freezing, then she didn't even know…

"No. That's not 'okay'," she snipped, her fears confirmed — he was hiding something from her. "Clark, those are my memories, too. And I have a right to them. And right now, I need to know. I have this vague unsettled feeling and…"

The door opened and a kind-looking white-haired man walked in. "Ms. Lane? I'm Dr. Peterson."


"Can I get you anything?" Clark asked her.

Lois turned in a slow circle in the middle of her living room. It didn't seem all that different, but it felt odd to her. Like that plant in her bedroom — whatever had possessed her to buy it? She couldn't have had it very long — it was still in good health and she was murder on plants.

"Where did that come from?" She pointed at the plant.

"From Star, I think. She said something about needing a plant in that corner for your feng shui."


"Your new neighbor. She's a psychic." There was just a hint of smug glee in his words. She was immediately certain that he had teased her more than once about her new neighbor.

Lois rolled her eyes. "So she gave me a plant?"

"You two seemed to have hit it off." Clark shrugged.

Yes, she thought. He's definitely teased me about her.

"So when are you going to tell me what really happened?"

Clark looked away and blew out a sigh. "I should fix us something to eat," he told her. "Come on, Lois, you haven't eaten all day. Let me go fix you a sandwich or someth…"

"Why are you avoiding this? What are you hiding?"

"I'm not hiding anything…"

"Yes, you are," she said adamantly. "I ought to know. You hid being Superman from me for two years. Either you come clean with me right now about what's happened the past month, or you leave. It's your choice."

Clark thought about just leaving. They could deal with this tomorrow. But that was only delaying the inevitable. He was going to *have* to be honest with her at some point. Leaving now would only increase her frustration and anger. He could tell her that the dating thing just hadn't worked out because he didn't want to put her in jeopardy. He didn't have to tell her about the proposal. There would be no hurt feelings. No fight. His would be the only heart broken.

"What if…" He cleared his throat nervously. "What if you're right and you don't remember because it was something traumatic that happened between us? What if your subconscious did this so that we could start fresh?"

Lois looked at him in disbelief. Oh god, it must be bad. Part of her didn't want to know, but her curiosity won out. "I don't want to start fresh. I want to know what happened. I want my memories back. Besides, if you tell me what happened, maybe it will jolt something loose and I'll start remembering things on my own."

"Let's sit down," he suggested. "This might take a while…"


Lois sat in stunned silence at the end of his "debriefing". He had proposed to her? And then he'd been upset when she turned him down? How could he have expected her to react any differently? But it seemed like things had begun to turn around from there until last night.

His eyes had been glassy and full of pain as he told her how he had told her that they couldn't be together.

Her head throbbed dully along with the growing ache in her chest. Was this how she'd felt last night? No. She had probably felt worse because all those memories had been real to her then, ingrained in her psyche. It had hurt much worse last night.

And yet, this was horrible enough.

"And so that was it?" she questioned. "You didn't give me a chance for rebuttal… didn't wait to hear my opinion on the matter… didn't even kiss me goodbye?" she exclaimed loudly, bitter anger replacing the hurt. "You just left!"

Clark flinched, knowing that he deserved her anger. Had it worked? Had his being completely honest shook loose her memories? He wavered between shame and relief. She couldn't possibly be this mad unless she actually remembered, could she?

"I'm sorry," he told her. "I know it sounds callous. But I know I was right, Lois. We can't be together. It's just too dangerous."

"What about me?" she asked raggedly as angry tears came to her eyes. "What about how I feel? Do you even care? You sit there and tell me about proposing to me and how much you love me and how much I mean to you… but then you don't even give me a chance to reason with you? You don't even listen to my side of it?"

"I can't. You would have only tried to change my mind and I couldn't let you do that. I can't take the risk…" He looked away, hating himself for making her cry.

"This is so unfair! So one-sided. It seems to me that since *I'm* the one taking the risk, I should be the one to decide whether that risk is worth it. It's my life you know. Just because you've saved my life once or twice doesn't give you the right to make decisions for me. When two people love each other, they talk things out, they make decisions *together*."

"See, I knew that's what you would say," he muttered.

"And you had to know that I'm right about this," she retorted.

Clark stood up impatiently. "Oh, yeah, it's *always* about you being right, isn't it? It's not about what's best for you."

She stood up, too, smarting at the tone of his words. "I do not have to *always* be right! But I am right about this!"

What irked him was that he knew she was right. He should have sat down with her and listened to what she had to say. But he hadn't. He loved her so much and he had known that if he gave her the chance she would change his mind.

"Lois…" he started wearily.

"You know what, Clark? I think I've had just about all the stimulating conversation I can stand for one day. I'm tired and I think it's time for you to go home." Her legs felt shaky and she sat back down, unable to look at him.

"Maybe you shouldn't be alone…"

"I'm a big girl. I don't need a babysitter. Just go." She blinked back frustrated tears, unwilling to cry in front of him.

Clark wanted to reach out and touch her, but he held himself back. It would only confuse things. He didn't want things to be like this. He hated that she was so upset. But he knew he was right — they couldn't be together.

"I'll be back tomorrow morning to pick you up for your doctor appointment." Dr. Peterson had said there were a few more tests he'd like to run before they could decide on a course of treatment for her.

"Don't bother. I can take a cab," she mumbled. As if. The doctor had only 'recommended' that she not drive. She wasn't about to let Clark drive her there and, while it might be better if she took a cab, she'd make that decision in the morning.

She heard Clark sigh softly and then walk away. A few seconds later she heard her door shut. Her eyes closed tightly to squeeze back the tears that had already started to slip out.


Clark looked down at the key he held in his hand. He leaned his head back against the hallway wall next to Lois's front door. This was worse than last night. An emergency had called Superman away last night. Actually several emergencies. He'd had a busy night.

But not so busy that he hadn't replayed their final words over and over. He couldn't shake the memory of the pain in her eyes and the ache in her voice. He had consoled himself that he at least he hadn't had to withstand the fury of her words.

Clark swallowed to work loose the lump in his throat. He hefted the Jeep key he held in his hand once.

He deserved every word she had lashed upon him.


<Clark Kent is Superman.>

Lois sat up in bed, sucking in a sharp breath. Her alarm clock was blaring beside the bed. She reached out and smacked it to turn it off.

What had she been dreaming about before she woke up?

<Clark Kent is Superman.>


But that was insane! Clark Kent was her partner, her best friend. Superman was… well, he was…


<Clark Kent is Superman.>

The thought wouldn't go away. And she knew it was true. She knew it was the truth because it was she herself who had uncovered it.

It had certainly taken her long enough. A tight suit and a pair of glasses…

Oh, yeah, she was a real world-class investigative reporter.

She reached up to rub her eyes and then ran her hands up her forehead through her hair. A soft cotton patch on her head caught the attention of her fingers as they brushed across it.

A bandage?

Why did she have a bandage on her head?

She got up out of bed and turned on the light. As she walked towards the bathroom, she noticed a potted plant on the floor that hadn't been there before.

Where had that come from? She bent down to examine it. It had been watered recently. She closed her eyes and thought for a moment. Everything felt so hazy and disjointed, but surely she would remember having a new plant. After a few moments in which she came up with no explanation, she dismissed it. She would mess with it later. First… She walked into the bathroom, flicking the light switch as she went. She stopped in front of the mirror and confirmed what she had felt. A bandage.

Then she did a double-take.

What had happened to her hair?


Clark was trying his best to pay attention during the staff meeting. He really was. But he was a little tired — he hadn't gotten much sleep last night — and his mind kept drifting back to Lois. He wondered how she was feeling this morning. He had really wanted to call her earlier but then Perry had called this staff meeting and he'd lost his chance.

He should have gone ahead and made the call, though, because now he couldn't concentrate to save his life. He glanced down distractedly at his watch. Surely the Chief would understand if he ducked out for just a minute or two to check up on her. After all…

[Help! Superman!]

It was Lois's voice. Clark was instantly worried. He jumped up out of his chair startling Jimmy, who was sitting beside him obviously lost in thought.

"Hey, CK, where's the fire?"

Perry had paused in mid-sentence, as well, and was frowning at him.


"Perry, I just remembered… I was supposed to pick up a… prescription for Lois at the pharmacy this morning and I forgot. I'll be right back."

It was lame. But since Lois was injured and she'd had such a rough day yesterday, Perry seemed to buy it. Clark ran as fast as *humanly* possible to the stairwell. Then he flew up the stairwell to the roof, changing as he went.

[Help! Superman!]

She called out to him again while he was flying, increasing his worry. Her voice was coming from the direction of her apartment. He flew straight there and through the open window.

Open window? On this cold morning?

Lois was standing there a few feet away… looking upset. And cold. She was rubbing her arms to keep warm and he realized in irritation that being cold seemed to be the only thing wrong with her.

The window was open because she had been expecting him. She had called him there on purpose. "Lois? Are you hurt? What's wrong?"

"Clark?" she asked hesitantly. "It is you, isn't it?"

His eyebrows drew together in confusion. "Of course it's me. Why would…" He looked at her in disbelief as she began to pace in front of him.

"I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have *called* you like this. I'm fine. Or mostly fine. I'm just a little out of sorts this morning. Did something happen to my hair when you froze me? I mean, did it break off or something? Because it's shorter this morning and I'm a little worried. I know it must be post-traumatic stress or something because I don't remember anything after you froze me…"

She stopped talking when she noticed the horrified expression on his face. "Oh god," she said and stopped her pacing, too petrified to move, "It's bad, isn't it? Did your parents…"

He shook his head. "My parents are fine. You don't remember yesterday? You don't remember when I took you to the hospital?"

"Was that after you unfroze me?"

"Lois." He took her hands and sat down, coaxing her to sit next to him. "You have amnesia."

She almost snorted. "Don't be ridiculous, Clark. I know who I am. I remember everything that's happened…"

"Yeah, up to the night that I froze you, but that was almost a month ago. You've forgotten everything that's happened for the past month. We went through all of this yesterday. Do you remember any of that?"

"No," she told him, her voice quivering slightly. She clutched his hands tighter, needing to feel something solid to ground her. "Clark, this is insane. How could I not remember the past month… yesterday?"

"I don't know. But we're going to find out. Come on, let's go see Dr. Peterson again." He rose from the couch and she came with him. Once they were standing, Lois started to let go of his hand and then hesitated. Instead, she lifted her other hand to lay it timidly against his chest, softly caressing the fabric of his suit. "It's really true, isn't it?"

"What?" he asked?

"You're Superman." Her eyes sparkled.

"Yes," he said softly, allowing a smile to slip through.

"That's so weird." She let out a nervous laugh. "But it's a good thing. Especially since I can't find my car key today. I can't seem to remember where I put it. It's not in my purse where I normally leave it. Maybe you can just fly me where we need to go?"

"I took your key last night," he admitted, producing the missing key. "The doctor told you that you shouldn't be driving and so I… took it for safekeeping," he half-mumbled.

She frowned at him. "So you just took it?" She yanked her hand away from his, grabbing her key back from him and gesturing wildly with her other hand. "Just like that, no discussion? Did you know that I wouldn't remember again this morning? Is that why?"

"No, that's not it, I…"

"If you didn't want me to drive, all you had to do was offer to drive me. It's simple. You didn't have to take my key!"

He mentally shook his head. Oh, if only it were that simple.


"Ms. Lane? You can come back now," the receptionist told her.

Lois stood up and took a couple of steps before realizing that Clark was still sitting.

"Shouldn't you come with me?" she asked him.

"Um, no, probably not," he mumbled.

"But we're dating, aren't we? It would be okay if you were in the room with me."

Clark flinched. They weren't dating, not anymore, but now was hardly the time to tell her that.

"I'll just wait here, okay?" he said in a strained voice.

Lois narrowed her eyes suspiciously. He had been nervously aloof all morning. "Suit yourself." She shrugged and followed the receptionist to the exam room.

Clark felt a sharp pain in his chest. Was this some kind of cosmic penance for the way he had broken up with her? Was he going to have to relive telling her that they couldn't be together until he found a way to do it without traumatizing her?

Needing a distraction, he picked up one of the magazines lying on the table beside him.

He was half-heartedly skimming artichoke recipes when he heard Lois say his name. He looked up to see her standing in the hallway and gesturing for him to join her.

"Clark, the doctor thought you should hear this."

He stood up and followed her back into the exam room. "Okay, let's start again," she said to Dr. Peterson. "You said that I'm not 'creating new short term memories'. What exactly does that mean?" Her voice was tight and strained.

"Ms. Lane, you have what we classify as a form of 'anterograde amnesia' — you are exhibiting classic signs of short-term memory repression. Your brain is not taking your memories of the previous day and storing them in such a way that you have access to them. Your memory seems to be reverting back to the last memory it has access to. Now, I don't know if this means that you really aren't 'creating' new memories or if perhaps they are there and you just can't access them right now. It could be that they are inaccessible due to the swelling from your concussion."

"What if it's not? What if the swelling goes down and I still can't remember?"

The doctor fidgeted a little under the intensity of her gaze. Clark would have felt a little sorry for the man, if he wasn't feeling that same level of intensity himself.

Lois couldn't make new memories?

That was probably a worst-case scenario but it hit Clark hard.

"So what is your professional "opinion" of what I should expect?" Lois asked, trying to keep her voice calm.

"My *opinion* is that, at least until the swelling from your concussion goes down, you may experience this same type of memory loss each morning."

Her face fell and she felt a little weakness in her legs. She could possibly have to go through this each morning? For no telling how long? She would continue to wake up thinking it was the day after the 'big freeze'?

When the doctor saw her worried expression, he hurried to continue, "There have been several scientific studies that have shown that at night, when you're asleep, your brain is still very active. Many doctors in the field of neurobiology share the belief that when we sleep, our brains are repairing themselves — undergoing a "reorganization" if you will — cataloguing the events of the day. It's the time when your brain moves the short-term memories it has created, over to the long-term memory banks. But when this process happens in *your* brain, something goes wrong. Something is impeding synaptic plasticity from functioning normally. The memories either aren't being created, or they aren't being stored properly — as I said before, it's possible they're being created, but, due to the swelling, you can't access the area they're being stored in. So you revert back to the last memory you *can* access."

Well, even if that was just his opinion, or his best guess, it made her feel a little better.

"I'm sorry I don't have a more definitive answer for you," he told her, his voice sounding truly regretful. She tried to look on the bright side — at least he had good bedside manner. "Neurobiology is my field of medicine but there is still so much that we don't know about memory loss. We just won't know more until the swelling from your concussion goes down. Then we can see where we're at and if we need to run any further tests."

"So what would you recommend we do for her in the meantime?" Clark asked, on the edge of panic. There had to be something they could do… besides just continue waiting. Patience and feeling helpless were not things he dealt with very easily. He was used to being Superman. To being able to help — no matter what the problem was. "Are there mental exercises she could be doing that would help? Is there a type of specialist she could see?"

"Well, of course, anything she could do to "exercise" her brain is bound to be helpful. It would be good to get her back into her normal routine, doing things that are familiar to her. In fact, she would be okay to return to work if she would like. As far as seeing another specialist, well that would be up to Ms. Lane. As I've said, this is my field of medicine, and I don't know that anyone is going to be able to do much until the swelling from the concussion goes completely down and we can see what we're really dealing with."

"But there is a chance that I'll revert to normal once the swelling is gone?" Lois interrupted him, mentally crossing her fingers.

"I certainly wouldn't rule out that possibility. There is still so much that is unknown about the regenerative powers of memory and brain function." The doctor finished up writing the notes in Lois's file and tucked her folder under his arm. "There is one option I would like to present to you, Ms. Lane. There is a new drug that is being tested in clinical trials that looks very promising for patients suffering from various forms of memory loss. It was created as a treatment for patients with Alzheimer's and dementia, but I feel there may be some of the same pathology at work here. If you would like to participate in the clinical trial…"

"Yes," she said abruptly, and then stammered, "Sorry. What were you going to say?"

He smiled pleasantly at her. "We'll need to have you fill out some paperwork. Then we'll need to set up a schedule for you to come in so I can monitor your progress. Let me get you a sample of it that you can take tonight and I'll schedule you to come back in the morning to fill out the information for the clinical trial. Okay? That is, unless you have any further questions…"

"Uh, no. I guess that about covers it for now," Lois told him. Clark could hear the strain in her voice. She was barely keeping it together. "I mean it's not like I'm probably going to remember any of what you've said tomorrow anyway. That's why Clark is here." She let out a small laugh, but all that did was make Clark feel worse. She was trying to be brave, to find a way to lighten the mood.

"Lois, if you'll go on over to the nurses station, they'll get the paperwork started while I go get that sample for you."

Lois walked out of the room, headed towards the counter. Clark started to follow her, but he was stopped by an outstretched hand from the doctor.

"Mr. Kent? May I have a word with you?" the doctor asked him. His lips were pressed firmly together in a taut line.

"Yeah, sure. What is it? If there's anything I can do to…"

"Her condition could be permanent."

So much for subtlety.

Permanent? The word gave him a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He may have told Lois that they couldn't be together, but that didn't mean he could turn his back on his feelings for her that easily. It wasn't like flipping a light switch.

He loved her.

And now there was a possibility that all the new memories he would create with her, working with her at the Planet, being friends with her… that she would never remember any of them?

"Why are you telling *me* this?" Clark asked him, slightly confused. "Isn't this something you should be telling Lois?"

"I would, but it's very likely she won't remember any of this tomorrow and it would only upset her to hear it right now. You are going to have to be her memory, Mr. Kent. You were about to tell me if there was anything you could do to help…?" Clark nodded at him and Dr. Peterson gave him a nod in return. "Well there is. She is going to need friends and family to help her out while she finds her bearings. Does she have any family in the area that can stay with her for a while?"

"She doesn't have any family living in the immediate area, no. But I'll definitely contact them and see what I can arrange. In the meantime, I guess she'll be stuck with me." Just what he didn't want. He was supposed to be limiting his contact with her, especially as Superman… now he was going to have to watch over her constantly…

"Good. I would like to continue evaluating her and running tests, perhaps on a daily basis — we'll see how she responds to the medication. This is going to be an ongoing process, I'm afraid." The doctor laid his hand on Clark's shoulder and gave it a pat. "Don't worry, Mr. Kent, you have my firm assurance that I'll do what I can to treat Ms. Lane. I'll see the two of you in the morning." Clark watched the doctor walk away.


He hoped the doctor was wrong. He had to be wrong.


Lois walked out of the doctor's office and spotted Clark sitting in her Jeep. He had brought the car around to pick her up.

He was so thoughtful when it came to things like that. The little things… like opening doors for her, helping her on with her jacket, those morning cups of coffee — just at the right time, fixed just the way she liked it — all the little things.

She had this *feeling* deep inside her that said that it didn't really matter that he was Superman. Somehow she knew that, in the past month that was lost to her, she had come to grips with who he was.

How could she have lost that? If she didn't get those memories back, she was going to have wade through the emotions she was feeling right now — and probably not for the first time. It would be so much easier if those memories returned and the doubts and fears she was having were just automatically resolved.

But what if they didn't come back — forget that… what if she never made any new memories?

No, she didn't even want to *think* about that. That wasn't even a possibility. She *would* get her memories back and be back to normal… In no time.

Wouldn't she?

She climbed inside the passenger seat of the Jeep, thankful to be able to slump down into the solid feel of the seat beneath her.

"Where to?" Clark asked her, a fake smile plastered on his face.

"Don't bother smiling, Clark, if it's not real. I can tell you know. I lost my memories for one month — not the past two years," she grumbled.

Clark let the smile slide from his face. "Lois, it's going to be okay. You'll see. In fact, I bet you'll be back to your old self in no time. Chasing off after stories, me running to keep up…"

"Don't. Please. I can take the doctor coddling me, but not you. I know you're just as worried as I am." She frowned, staring out the windshield in front of her. A big bug had splattered its brains all over the upper right corner of her windshield. She normally kept her car so clean, when had that happened?

Her frown deepened into a scowl — she didn't remember. Somehow she felt a certain kinship to that bug. Her brains were a scattered mess, too.

"You're right. I am worried," Clark admitted. "But I also know Lois Lane. I know how strong you are, how… determined you are." He smiled warmly at her. "I know you'll find your way through this."

She pulled her eyes away from the bug carcass to look into his eyes. They were so warm, so caring… and so afraid.

She reached out to take one of his hands in hers and she squeezed it lovingly. The touch of his skin against hers mixed with all the strange emotions she was feeling, sending a tingle up through her arm. Clark traced one finger lightly over the inside of her palm. Suddenly she had this overwhelming feeling that she didn't want him to let go… ever.

She rubbed her thumb softly against the back of his hand — more tingles — and then she ran it a little further up his hand, relishing the smoothness of his skin… the polished perfection of Superman. He had such nice hands; so soft and warm, with such tantalizingly long fingers. She laced her fingers in between his.

Clark shifted a little uncomfortably in his seat. She was going to kill him if she kept this up. He needed to stop this, right now. He was supposed to be limiting his emotional involvement with Lois, not encouraging it.

He reluctantly pulled his hand away from hers. "Okay, where do you want me to take you? Do you feel like going in to work because the doctor said…"

"Are you serious? I can't go in to work. Clark, what would I do? I can't remember anything from one day to the next. Perry can't put me on any stories of any significance. If I broke the story, I wouldn't remember how the next day. If Perry lets me work on anything I'll be demoted to local dog shows." She curled her lip in disgust.

"No you won't. We're partners, remember? I'll help you remember. You can make good notes… to help you remember from day to day where you are, until you get your memories back."

"If I get my memories back," she muttered under her breath disgustedly.

"Don't say that!"

Oh, yeah, momentary lapse of memory. He was Superman. Of course he could hear her muttering. "Well, it's the truth!"

"No, it's not," he countered, looking agonized. He knew it as well as she did. She opened her mouth and he cut her off. "No, it's not. Being despondent isn't going to help anything."

She sighed and then sat up straighter in her seat. "I know. I know. You're right." Of course he was right. He was Superman — he was *always* right… or at least *thought* he was. She rolled her eyes in disgust.

Wait. Why did she do that? Why did she think that?

Why did she feel that way about Clark?

She smiled. It wasn't a memory — not yet — but it was a feeling about a memory. Something had to have happened to make her feel that way.

Clark saw her smile and gave her one of his own — little did he know what she was smiling about. "There, that's better. Now, how about we get you back into your routine, get you working on some *hot* story. That's bound to help… get your juices flowing."


"A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new library… you're serious?" Lois's voice came out sounding a little more sarcastic than she had meant for it to.

"Yes, I am," Perry assured her. "I think it would be a good piece for you to stretch your legs on, get you back into the swing of things."

"Chief, please. I didn't like those pieces back when I was a junior reporter. Do you honestly think something that monotonous is going to 'get me back into the swing of things'? Do you really think it's going to *do* anything for me, period?" She sighed exasperatedly. How could he expect her to work on something that trivial? They lived in Metropolis for crying out loud. Superman had gone out on three rescues all ready that day. There were far more interesting stories to work on.

But it wasn't like she hadn't thought the same thing herself — she remembered mentioning 'dog shows' to Clark…

"Lois, honey…"

But just because she had thought the same thing earlier, didn't necessarily mean it was a good idea. "Don't you trust me? Have you really lost that much faith in me? Geez, one little bump on the head and I'm demoted to stories that would be better suited for… Ralph!"

She was being emotional and irrational. She knew she was. She knew Perry had to do what was in the best interests of the paper. And what was in the paper's best interests was not having a reporter who couldn't remember things from one day to the next. How could she work on their more intricate stories like this?

"I'm back," Clark said as he walked through Perry's door. "Sorry. I can't believe I forgot to turn my iron off this morning." Lois rolled her eyes. He had to come up with better excuses. She couldn't believe she had bought so many of those lame ducks. "So what's the assignment, Chief?"

"He's putting you on the break-in story at STAR Labs," Lois informed him bitterly, "And he's asked me to cover the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new library." She flashed him a fake smile. "Because that's the type of story that really needs the hard-edged expertise of an award-winning journalist."

Perry and Clark both shifted uncomfortably on their feet, their eyes looking anywhere but at Lois. Clark knew that Perry was just trying to take the safe route, but he also knew that a library-opening story was not going to help Lois. It was selfish of him not to want to partner with Lois. He was her memory now, according to Dr. Peterson. More importantly, he was still her partner and he couldn't let his own fears and frustrations make her condition even worse.

"We're partners, Chief," he said, catching Perry's eye.

"Clark, you know that I…" Perry began.

"I miss my partner. Let us both work on the STAR Labs break-in. I'll take full responsibility," he assured him, putting as much weight behind his words as he could.

Lois looked like she could kiss him. He pushed that thought from his mind — better not to think about that.

It would do no good to think about her lips, how soft and supple they looked just now or to remember how good she tasted when he kissed them. Even now her hair had that one rebellious strand that had come untucked from behind her ear. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and sweep it back where it belonged. Only the fact that they were in Perry's office and that he had never been able to do so yet without letting his fingers pause, however briefly, against her cheek stopped him.

No, he shouldn't think about such things. It was so… unproductive.

"We'll be working together on it," he reminded Perry. "And she can make good notes on anything she follows up by herself."

Lois nodded in agreement and held her breath. Perry looked conflicted between doing what he had been told to do, and doing what he probably had wanted to do from the beginning. "Okay." His usual sparkle returned to his eyes. "Don't just stand there. Get out there and find me some page one news."

Clark opened the door for Lois, resting his hand at the small of her back as he followed her out of the office. That gesture wasn't unproductive at all, he told himself. That was just good manners.

Halfway to her desk, she stopped and turned, effectively hurling herself into his arms. "Thanks," she murmured against his neck. The sensation sent a shiver through him and he reflexively returned the hug.

"For what? For wanting to work with my partner?" He knew he should step back now, but he couldn't make himself do so. He stopped himself from allowing his hand to caress her back.

She wasn't sure but there was something wrong with how he had said 'partner'. He seemed so tense and it made her feel strangely uneasy.

"Clark, I mean it. Thank you." She stepped back to end the hug. Her hands caught his as he pulled away from her and she squeezed them.

"You're welcome." He looked down at their joined hands and felt awkward. She was looking at him expectantly and his mind raced to find something to say. "Um, Dr. Peterson mentioned that you might want to have someone stay with you. Do you want me to call your mom and see if she could…"

"I've lost my memory, Clark, not my mind," she said and released his hands. Why was he being so distant? "I can't handle my mom right now."

"What about Lucy?"

What about *him*? Why wasn't *he* offering to stay with her? Or let her stay with him? It hadn't been that long since Kyle Griffin had reappeared and Clark offered to her stay with him.

She had, of course, declined. They had just started dating and it would have felt uncomfortable to be there with him. Clark had coerced Jimmy into offering and she had elected to stay with him instead, which had turned out to be a nightmare.

But now… If Clark were to offer now, she might just take him up on it. If you couldn't trust Superman, who could you trust? For some reason, though, he didn't seem inclined to make the offer. The thought flickered through her mind that he was avoiding her. But that was silly — hadn't he just insisted on them working together as partners?

"Lucy's got classes right now and she works on top of that," Lois explained to him. "She doesn't have time to play babysitter to me." She hesitated for just a moment before forging ahead with, "Why couldn't you come over?"

The look on his face said it all. He looked… uneasy. Disappointment welled up inside her. He really was avoiding her — but why? Not wanting to give him a chance to rebuff her offer, she bit back her frustration and continued, "I meant first thing in the morning. You could check on me before I go into work. It's not like I'm going to burn the place to the ground if I'm left alone."

"I don't think you should be alone when you wake up in the morning. You'll wake up again totally disoriented, wondering how you got that bump on your head and why you cut your hair. I'm sure that has to be a little scary."

Clark sighed and wished he could have offered to stay with her. If he didn't know better, he would have thought that was what she had been suggesting before.

But that was impossible now. He couldn't be around her like that and she didn't realize that they weren't together. He didn't want to have to tell her. Again.

"Don't you mean *if*?" She raised one eyebrow at him.


"*If* I wake up disoriented."

He squirmed uncomfortably. "Um, yeah, *if*."

She eyed him pointedly. "Didn't you just scold me earlier for something along the same lines? Something about not being despondent?" She poked him in the ribs and was delighted to see him finally smile. "This is not going to beat me. I am going to get better, you'll see."

"I know you are," he told her, trying to make his voice sound positive. He wanted to believe that as much as she did. "I just meant… well, in case you woke up again with no memory, maybe it would be better if someone was there — you know, to explain things."

"Clark, I'm not going to be an imposition to anyone. If this does end up taking more than just a few days to clear up, then I'll just have to learn how to deal with it. I'm going to have to learn how to function on my own." She had opened a desk drawer while she was talking and was now rifling through it.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm looking for a journal. I bought one a few weeks ago. Dr. Friskin suggested that I might want to write down some of my feelings in it… you know, about you, and Superman, and… Dan." She sort of muttered the last name.

She opened another drawer and began to dig through it. "But I didn't really use it. I didn't need to." She flashed a smile at him. "And now, I think it could come in handy. I don't want to lose these memories, Clark… these days. There are entire days of my life that might end up missing. So if I am going to lose them, I want to at least have a record of what happened and what I did." She pulled out a book that was the size of a half sheet of paper with a soft-looking maroon cover. "At least that's something."

He watched as she picked up a pen off her desk. Clark realized that it was his pen — actually his *new* pen. He raised an eyebrow. He had searched his entire apartment looking for that pen. She must have borrowed it when she had come to his apartment looking for that pen.

He flinched. That night hadn't ended in work. It had ended in a kiss on his couch that had left them both breathless. He would never be able to kiss her again and the loss was staggering. Had she taken the pen accidentally? Or had she kept it as a memento of that night? He turned away as she started writing. He felt like he would be invading her privacy to stand there and watch her.

"Well, I'm going to call Bobby Bigmouth and see if he knows anything about the break-in or what was stolen," he told her, backing away. "Then we can call STAR Labs and see if anyone there has time to meet with us."

"Mmm hmm," she murmured at him as she began writing. She looked at her first sentence. 'The Truth About Clark Kent'. She quickly scratched the sentence out. There were certain truths that she needed to know, but she was going to have to figure out how to write them in code. If someone found her journal, she didn't want it to contain anything that would expose Clark. She put her pen to the paper again.

'The Truth About Lois Lane.'


Clark never could figure out how Bobby managed to be so sneaky. If Clark didn't keep his super-senses tightly attuned to any little noise or movement, Bobby could sneak up on them in less than half a heartbeat… he had done it before.

And Lois wasn't making it any easier for him to pay attention.

She had her hand inside one of the delivery bags, feverishly searching for some hidden morsel to capture for her own.

He glanced over to watch her withdraw a hand with an aluminum-foil-wrapped calzone in it. She raised it temptingly towards her face and sniffed it appreciatively.

"Lo-is," he hissed and shot her an annoyed look. "You know that Bobby will pout and sulk and won't tell us anything if he suspects you of pilfering some of his food."

"Well we got extra. It's not like I'm eating anything that absolutely had to be his," she pouted. She started to unwrap the foil.

"I'll take you back to the restaurant to eat afterwards if it means you'll quit trying to snitch his food."

"Did I hear someone say snitch?" Bobby's voice said from outside Clark's open window. Clark almost jumped. How did he do that?

"Hi, Bobby," Clark greeted him. He jabbed his elbow gently into Lois's side.

Even gently, it was still enough to make her jerk guiltily. "That depends on your definition of 'snitch'," she told Bobby, raising one eyebrow up at him. "Got anything good for us?"

Bobby opened the back door of the Jeep and climbed inside, wriggling forward until his head was between their two seats. "Well, I guess that would depend on your definition of good. But… you know the rules… and I hate to see good pasta go cold." Bobby held out his hand, smiling his wide, smirky grin.

Lois huffed in disgust and shoved her purloined treasure back down into the bag, handing it to him. "There. Now talk."

"Mmm, Alfredo's. They have the best primavera." Bobby seized a piece of bread from the sack and took a hungry bite out of it. It made her mouth water. For some reason she felt as if she hadn't eaten all day long yesterday. She'd have to ask Clark about that later. "Okay," Bobby continued, taking hurried bites of his bread as he eyed Lois suspiciously, "I bet you wanna know some info about that break-in last night at STAR Labs, huh?"

"You know about that?" Clark asked him eagerly.

Bobby sneered. "Please. Who do you think I am? Huh? Of course I know about that." He rummaged through the container to find the warm package of calzones. He pulled one out and began devouring it fervently. Lois glared at him in disgust. Where did he put it all? "From what I heard, there were some research notes taken and a sample of a highly-classified drug stolen. I haven't been able to pin down a name for the drug. But…" He licked his fingers off and dug into the package for another calzone. "There's rumored to be a doctor there who is pretty easy to talk to if you get him distracted enough. I've heard he's a little absent-minded sometimes…"

"Who?" Lois asked impatiently.

"Dr. Klein is his name. Dr. Bernard Klein. Head of one of the research divisions. Real nerd. Likes his experiments and primates better than people — a true introvert. Anyway, he's the guy you should talk to, and, uh, I've gotta get going. The food critic from the Metropolis Star is meeting me for information about a couple of local restaurants. You wouldn't believe what some of them are trying to pass off as food these days. I'll see you guys later. Oh, and Lois, don't *forget* me." His mouth widened into a full-fledged smirk as he tucked his payment underneath one arm and got out of the Jeep.

"Wait! Bobby!" Lois called after him. "Ugh." She gave Clark a frustrated sigh. "He didn't give us any information. And now he owes me a calzone. I gotta write that one down."

"Well he did give us a name — Dr. Klein." Clark turned the key in the ignition. "I think we ought to go pay the good doctor a visit."

Yeah, just what she wanted, to spend more time in the company of another doctor. This day just kept getting better and better.


"Dr. Klein?" Clark asked, extending his hand to the older, balding man standing before him. Clark found himself smiling easily at the man — he had kind eyes. "Clark Kent, Daily Planet, and this is my partner, Lois Lane."

Dr. Klein gave each of them a short, distracted handshake. Then he turned away from them and went back to dripping a few drops of liquid into some beakers that were already half full. An ominous tuft of smoke wisped up out of one of the beakers. Dr. Klein frowned and made a note on his clipboard.

"We were hoping you could talk to us about the break-in that happened last night," Lois prompted him.

"Yes?" he asked, looking back up at them puzzled. His expression changed as he shook his head slightly and a look of recognition seemed to dawn on his features. "Oh, yes, the break-in. Not really much to tell." He picked up one of the beakers and swirled the golden-hued liquid around inside of it. He took a long stemmed dropper off the counter and stuck it down inside the beaker. After withdrawing a small sample of the liquid into the dropper, he then walked over to a microscope and picked up a slide, dribbling the sample onto it.

"Yes, but since you work here, we were hoping you could give us more than just the "official" story," Lois urged him.

"Hmm, very interesting," he mumbled as he put his eye to the microscope.

"What's interesting?" Clark asked him.

"While I'm sure that liquid is absolutely fascinating," Lois noted, throwing an exasperated look Clark's way, "Could you focus for just a moment…"

"No, not the liquid," Dr. Klein explained. "The break-in. They didn't steal any equipment, computers or anything like that. I've spent all morning going through the contents of the lab and inventorying everything. There were only two things taken."

Clark nodded at him. "Yes, some research notes and a highly classified drug…"

"No. Some research notes and a mind-altering drug," he mumbled, turning a knob on the microscope. He finally leaned away from the eyepiece and looked blankly at them. Then his features softened and he gave them a crooked smile. "It's rumored that the drug was originally developed by Intergang — Bill Church."

"Project Nirvana?" Lois broke in. The mind-control drug Dan had been working to uncover?

Dr. Klein's eyes went wide. "You know about Project Nirvana? That information was supposed to be classified."

"Yeah, well, I dated the DEA agent who was working on the case. I did some snooping around on him and found out a few things." She crossed her arms in front of her, looking satisfied at her journalistic abilities.

Clark rolled his eyes. That was all he needed — to have Scardino show up in her life again. At least her amnesia hadn't erased the fact that she had picked him over Dan.

He winced to himself when he realized where his thoughts were turning. What would he do if she decided… no, *when* she decided to date someone else? How was he going to deal with that?

Dr. Klein threw Lois a quizzical look and then nodded his head. "I see. Work before love. I know that all too well." He dribbled some of the liquid from his dropper into a Petri dish and then replaced the lid. "Well, I suppose if you already know about the drug it won't hurt to talk to you about it. Uh, what do you know?"

She narrowed her eyes at him and then sighed — give a little, get a little, she supposed. "According to my sources, Bill Church, Jr. was involved in a deal with Charles Knox, the head of Omnicorp, to try and get the drug released as an over-the-counter pain med for headaches. The unexpected side-effect, though, was that it made you highly susceptible to suggestion, allowing you to be, in effect, brainwashed into doing whatever the intended benefactor wanted you to do."

Dr. Klein nodded in agreement with her. "Yes, that's correct. But it goes even beyond that. It's very interesting. The drug actually allows for…" Dr. Klein tilted his head and blinked rapidly. "Oh no!" he exclaimed and began to hurry from the room. "I'm terribly sorry, I need to go check on…"

He was out the door, leaving both Lois and Clark to stare after him in surprised disbelief.

"Well," Clark said after a few seconds had passed. "Do you want to wait for him to come back?"

Lois sighed.

"Come on," Clark said, taking her arm, "Let's get back to the Planet and see what we can dig up in the meantime on thought-altering drugs and mind-control."

She scowled at him. "Oh, yeah, just what I was in the mood for — some light reading. Can we at least grab a bite to eat, first? You promised me lunch at Alfredo's — remember?"


Lois frowned at Clark as she took another bite of her ravioli. "You eat too fast." Clark had kept his promise to take her to Alfredo's for lunch eat since she hadn't pilfered any of Bobby's food — not that she'd had time — and she wasn't about to inhale it. Food this good was meant to be savored.

Clark smiled at her as he watched her eat. "You should see me eat at home. I slow down when I'm in public."

Did he do *everything* at super-speed? She sincerely hoped not. But, then again, she had kissed him plenty of times, and he certainly didn't rush *that*. This thought caused her eyes to give pause at his lips.

Clark glanced over just in time to see her eyes darken just a shade. He swallowed as he recognized the unmistakable hunger in her eyes. It was a look that was beginning to *affect* him. Clark reached up and blotted at his mouth with his napkin, nervously clearing his throat.

Lois came out of her pleasant daydream with a sigh. She watched Clark dab at his mouth with his napkin. Was that his way of telling her that she needed to hurry up? She frowned. Did he think she wasn't just as anxious as he was to get back to the Planet and get to work on the story? Her frown deepened. She was more eager than he was. She could feel the adrenaline rush of a good story and she was certain that having something to work on would go a long way towards shaking loose the cobwebs in her brain.

She dug into her food a little more voraciously. He might already be done but it wouldn't take her long to catch up. Although, given that he was done eating, maybe he could catch her up to speed on a few things while she finished. But where to start? Might as well start at the beginning, she decided. "Speaking of," she lowered her voice, "super feats." She pulled another piece of bread out of the basket and chased some of the sauce on her plate with it. "What happened with Jace and Nigel? You told me this morning that your parents were okay, but what happened?"

"What happened?" Clark looked down at his plate and picked up the fork still lying there, smashing down the little crumbs that had been left behind. "Oh, you know, the usual. Superman saved the day, rescued my parents and revived you."

He could feel Lois's eyes on him. "Wow. So many details. I'm overwhelmed." Have you ever considered becoming a writer? She paused long enough to take another bite of food. "Come on. I've lost my memory for the past month. Indulge me with some information. Did I tell you what it felt like to be frozen? Or to be revived with your heat vision? How did you capture Jace and Nigel? Was it easy? Did you just swoop in there and wrap them up in a big bow? What?" She had put her fork down and was staring intently at him.

He looked up, his eyes finally meeting hers. "No. It wasn't easy."

The softness in Clark's voice caught her off guard. Something had definitely happened that night, something he hadn't been expecting.

She reached out and laid one hand on top of his. "What happened?"

Clark looked away from her. He didn't want to talk about it. He didn't want to tell her that she had almost died. The gentle weight of her hand on his made it feel as if his throat was closing off.


He cleared his throat. "Jace had Kryptonite. Nigel had given it to him."

She gave his hand a little squeeze, her heart constricting as she remembered the kind of pain that vicious green rock inflicted on Superman. On him, she realized. It had been Clark — her Clark — that she had seen writing in pain under its influence. Somehow that made it even worse.

"Jace had us, Mom and Dad and me, locked inside this chamber. It was filling with gas, slowly suffocating them, and I couldn't do anything because of the Kryptonite — but there was this vent. I froze it and Dad threw the Kryptonite up and it broke through. And then… And then I got us out and woke you up." His voice was deathly quiet now, not more than a whisper, and he had gone back to playing with the traces of food left on his plate.

Lois could tell something was upsetting him and he probably didn't want her to press him, but she had forgotten everything from that night and she wanted to know. "Just like that? Did I just wake right up? Did you have to take me to the hospital or anything?"

Clark's face paled and then he coughed. "Where did our waiter go? I think I need some more water. What about you?"

"Clark…" She squeezed his hand again. "Please, I want to know."

He tried to sigh but only succeeded in his breath hitching in his chest as his mind flashed back to that fateful night. She might have forgotten but the anguish he had felt that night still haunted his dreams. If only… he never should have agreed to her plan. It was his fault. It was all his fault. That night that had set in motion their current nightmare.

"The truth?" he asked and she nodded. When he spoke next his voice shook a little. "You scared me. I thought I had lost you." He took her hand inside his, caressing her skin softly with his thumb. "I warmed you with my heat vision. Then I took your hand in my hand." He held her hand a little tighter.

"But you didn't wake up." His gaze dropped but she could still hear the pain in his voice as he relived it. "I gave you CPR and I talked to you, hoping that you would hear me and wake up. But you didn't respond." His voice trembled on those last words.

"I lost you, Lois." He ducked his head and took a deep breath. The next words tumbled from his mouth as he relived the nightmare. She had to know this. She had to know why it was so important that he keep his distance from now on.

"I begged you to breathe. I pleaded with you. But you were gone and it was like the rest of my life stretched out in front of me. Years and years to go without you. A lifetime to wonder and wish that I had never agreed to do it. And then… you took a breath. I held you and swore to myself that I would never let you go."

Lois didn't try to stop her tears. She wanted to tell him that it was okay, that she was okay, but that wasn't really the truth, was it?

Poor Clark. It wasn't his fault that things had turned out the way they had, but she knew he was blaming himself. Had he even forgiven himself yet for what had happened? Maybe, but, if he had, this latest setback with her amnesia had probably re-opened all the old wounds. No wonder he had been acting so strange. "Did you take me to the hospital?"

He nodded. "You said you were okay. You even got a little irritated at me and told me to quit fussing over you — probably because you had figured out my secret and were fuming over how to tell me that you knew. But I just had to get you checked out, make sure that everything was okay."

"So how did I tell you that I knew?"

Clark made a show of looking down at his watch. "You know, we should probably get back to the Planet. We really need to give Dr. Klein a call and see if…"

"How did I tell you?" she interrupted him. Why was he so cagey every time she asked him a question about something that had happened? "Did I just come out and say it or did I try to manipulate it out of you? Did we have a big fight? What?"

He squirmed nervously in his seat. No. He couldn't tell her about the proposal. That would only make things even more complicated. "I asked you a question and you took off my glasses and wanted to know who was asking, me or," his voice trailed off and he mouthed the word, "Superman."

"What was the question?"


"That you asked me? What question did you ask me?"

Clark cocked his head to the side suddenly and Lois grimaced. It was *the look*. The one that said he was hearing something she couldn't hear. She had seen it on his face many times… and now she knew why he would dash off with some lame excuse.

"What is it?" she asked, disappointed that something was going to interrupt their lunch. She still had a lot of questions for him.

"Fire. Some people are trapped. I gotta…"

"Go," she finished. "I know. Go." She made a shooing motion with her hands. "I'll meet back up with you at the Planet."

As Clark rushed from the table Lois forcefully pushed her plate away from her, no longer interested in eating. Ugh! Superman had come between them again.

Huh? Wait… Why did she feel that way?

Sure, looking back she realized that Superman had interrupted them quite frequently when they were on the threshold of some important conversation, but this felt different.

This emotion felt… hostile. Strange, she thought. Knowing he was Superman should have made it easier to see him running away in the middle of a conversation.


Lois was headed to her desk, meticulously trying to remember every word from her lunch with Clark. She had to write it down in her journal. She didn't want to lose it if she woke up in the morning and forgot everything from today.

If… Lois repeated the word to herself for reassurance — *if* she forgot.

It was probably because she was so lost in thought that she practically mowed Jimmy down on her way.

"Whoa! Lois!"

She sidestepped him at the last moment, almost tripping over her own feet in the process. "Sorry, Jimmy!" she called out over her shoulder as she continued on her way.

Then she stopped and turned back. "Jimmy, wait, I need you to get me something."

"Sure thing, Lois, whaddya need? If it's about your story at STAR Labs, you remember that I've got a friend who works there. I could probably…"

"No. Not for the story."

Jimmy grimaced. "Oh, don't tell me you've forgotten how to program your VCR again…" he broke off, looking at her sheepishly. "Uh, sorry, bad choice of words."

She smirked at him, crossing her arms. "Ha ha. Very funny. I want you to pull any and all articles I've worked on for the past month. Both the ones with and without Clark. This whole *thing* is making me crazy and I feel a little disconnected with everything. I think if I review what's been going on in the world the past month that it might help."

"Sure thing." Jimmy turned and started to walk off.

"Oh, and Jimmy? Get me all the articles I've written up on Intergang, starting with the ones related to Knox and that drug the DEA was investigating."

Jimmy nodded at her and walked off. Lois sat down at her desk, her mind still going over her last thought. The DEA…

Dan Scardino.

Dan might have information on Project Nirvana that could help them with this break-in at STAR Labs.

Lois eyed her telephone warily. She could call him, she was pretty sure she still had the telephone number for his office and, if not, it wouldn't be difficult to get.

She reached out hesitantly for her phone.

But *should* she call him?

Well, why *shouldn't* she?

How about because it might upset Clark? She rolled her eyes. Oh, come on, Lois, you're being ridiculous. You and Clark and Dan are all adults and you shouldn't let what happened stop you from calling Dan for some information. Besides, Clark knows that you chose him over Scardino. She grinned to herself. At least she hadn't lost the memory of *that* night. Clark could definitely do some things very, very slowly.

She picked up her Rolodex and thumbed through it until she found his number. She picked up her phone and dialed it. The number was familiar and she realized that she had once had it memorized. Had she lost that memory in the missing month? No, she decided. She forgot Dan's number the night she had shown up at Clark's apartment and shown him who she wanted to be with.

The receptionist on the other end informed her that Dan was out of the office but would be back tomorrow afternoon. Lois left the woman her name and number — at the Planet — and asked her to have him give her a call.

Well, so much for that. She'd have to wait to explore that particular avenue further tomorrow.

She flipped through the "S's" in her Rolodex a little further to locate the number for STAR Labs and then dialed it. If she couldn't talk to Dan, maybe Dr. Klein would have time to talk to her now.

"STAR Labs, Mandy speaking. How may I direct your call?"

"Dr. Klein's office."

"Oh, I'm sorry, but Dr. Klein has asked that all his calls be held today."

"But this is really important. I'm Lois Lane with the Daily Planet and Dr. Klein was talking to me and my partn…"

"I'm sorry, Ms. Lane, but I can't put you through. You'll have to try back tomorrow."

Lois hung up the phone in annoyance. Dead end. Everything today seemed to be a dead end. And not just with their story.

She glanced up at the elevator. Where was Clark? Probably still cleaning up the mess with the fire…

It was so frustrating to know that she was possibly going to wake up in the morning with no memory of what had happened with Clark, with her story, with everything and have to start all over again.

Start all over again…

She finally remembered what it was she had planned to do when she first came back to the office.

Her journal.

She had a lot of notes to make. Both about what Clark had told her at lunch today and about their case.


Clark stepped off the elevator, his eyes automatically scanning the newsroom for Lois. She was sitting at her desk, furiously writing in that burgundy journal — the one she had determined was going to be her memory.

He started to head towards her when Perry's voice cut across the newsroom. "Clark."

Clark looked over as Perry motioned him to come to his office. He glanced back to Lois and found that she was watching him. She flashed a smile at him.

It used to be when he would see that smile that it would send a shockwave straight through to his heart, warming him from the inside out.


Now it began a slowly building ache that seemed like it was bent on suffocating him. When he finally told her what was *really* going on between them, this pleasant warm comfortableness between them would be gone.

He dreaded it.

He walked inside Perry's office and closed the door behind him. "Yeah, Chief?"

"Where have you been?"

Clark swallowed involuntarily. "Uh, trying to track down some leads on this break-in at STAR Labs."

"Well? What have you got?"

"Nothing yet. I mean, we've got some leads but they're all going to have to be followed up on tomorrow… nothing concrete, yet."

"Yeah, that's just what Lois said, too." Perry walked over to his window and peered out, looking at Lois. "I'm worried about her, Clark."

Clark felt a little uneasy in the face of Perry's concern. Perry didn't show this side of himself too often, preferring instead to keep that gruff exterior of his always showing.

"Me too, Chief."

"Listen it's getting late in the day and you two aren't going to get any further on this story today. Why don't you both go ahead and head out. I'm sure you've got a lot you need to… catch up on."

Clark wasn't sure whether he should be grateful or fearful. Part of him wanted to talk to Lois, try to help her work through this. But another part of him realized that she was just going to keep asking him questions, grilling him about what had happened during the past month.

He couldn't hide forever.

"Thanks, Perry." Clark smiled warmly at him. "I'll take her home."


The first part of the ride to her apartment had been spent discussing the break-in and where they were at with the story. Then they had both lapsed into silence.

Lois was lost in thought. What had happened between them over the past month? She could *read* about what had happened in her professional life. But her personal life? Only Clark could give her that.

Something big had happened. She could tell. There had been little hints and clues all day to the enormity of an event that she had now forgotten.

She knew what it felt like to be held in Clark's arms and the rush she felt from him at just the touch of her hand against his. It was almost as if electric energy passed between them at times, it was so intense. She knew he felt it, too.

He had avoided touching her today. Oh, he had touched her arms and shoulders long enough to help her get her jacket on before they left the Planet. And he had rested his hand at the small of her back as they had stepped off the elevator into the parking garage.

She loved those small gestures. But she and Clark had long since moved beyond such trifles. Where was the passion she remembered? It was almost as if he was afraid of the energy between them. But why? Why was he so hesitant? What had happened between them? Were they in a fight?

Had they fought once she'd found out that he was Superman? Had she been upset with him for keeping that from her? She knew that's how she was feeling right now. She had done her best to push those feelings aside, thinking that she had to have already come to terms with Superman in the past month; and, even though she didn't remember 'coming to terms' with him, she didn't feel like it would be fair to open old wounds that were surely closed by now.

But were they?

If those wounds were healed then what was it?

They had reached her apartment and she still couldn't think of how to ask him. Clark had insisted on walking her to the door, but even that extra bit of time left her still scrambling to figure out what to say to him. As they rounded the last corner before her apartment door, Clark finally spoke.

"What time is your appointment in the morning?"

"Oh, uh, anytime. I'm just supposed to finish filling out the paperwork and pick up my prescription. No big deal." She pulled her keychain out of her purse and nervously shuffled through the keys, trying to prolong the inevitable and hoping for an epiphany.

"I'd feel better if you'd let me drive you." He knew she was physically capable of driving herself in the morning. But she had been right when she thought he would want to come by in the morning and check on her.

She located her apartment key and moved closer to the door. "Oh, don't be silly, Clark. I don't want to inconvenience you." As she heard the words coming from her mouth, her heart pleaded for him not to listen to them. Why couldn't she just tell him that she wanted him to check on her tomorrow?

Why couldn't she admit to him that just the thought of waking up in the morning with all her memories from today gone frightened the hell out of her? If she loved him and he loved her, then why couldn't she tell him how she felt?

She didn't know. Something inside her told her that she didn't want him to see her fear — and that same something was telling her that it had to do with what she had forgotten.

His hand came out to rest against her hand as she fumbled to press the key into the lock. The touch sent that electric feeling up her arm.

"It's not an inconvenience. I would like to go with you."

Her resolve finally melted and she let herself go. She turned and went to him, wrapping her arms tightly around him as she let her tears worry a damp spot into his coat. "Oh, Clark. I'm so scared."

Clark's heart lurched inside his chest. "Shhh. I know," he soothed. "Everything's going to be okay." He rubbed his hands lightly across her back, the contact comforting her even as it seemed determined to tear him apart.

She leaned back and looked at him with tear-filled eyes. "But how do you know? What if I never come out of this?" She snuggled against him again, hugging him tighter. "I'm afraid to go to sleep, Clark. I don't want to wake up in the morning and start all over again."

He continued to caress her back and began to rock her softly. "I know, Lois. I'm so sorry. This was my fault." The guilt felt like it was eating a hole through his stomach.

"No. Don't say that." Her voice trembled against his chest as she scolded him, but it was firm. "This was Jace's fault, or Nigel's fault, or any one of those other criminals out there who force you to make choices every day."

"Yeah, choices that I never should have had to make. Not when it comes to you. I should never have put you in the position to be used as a bargaining chip. It won't happen again. It can't." The words were out of his mouth before he even realized that he was saying them.

She pulled back from him and looked up into his eyes. "What are you saying, Clark?" The heartbroken look on his face frightened her almost as much as his words had.

He released her from his arms and backed away, sighing softly. "I should go. You need your rest."

"You've told me this before, haven't you?" The expression on his face was answer enough.

"Lois? Clark? Is that you?" A familiar voice came from the direction of the stairs. Jimmy's voice.

Lois wiped at her tear-stained cheeks and smoothed out her clothing, plastering a smile on her face as Jimmy rounded the corner. "Hey! You guys left before I could get you those articles you wanted."

"Lois, I'll see you tomorrow morning," Clark said, walking past Jimmy. "G'night, Jimmy."

"Yeah, uh, night, CK. See you tomorrow." Jimmy gave him a slight wave and then turned back to hand a stack of articles to Lois. "Here you go. Everything you've done for the past month, starting with the article on the arrest of Jacen Mazik."

Lois was watching Clark disappear around the corner, a heavy sadness in her heart. She wanted to yell at him to wait, to come back, but not front of Jimmy. The boy had infuriating timing. "Thanks, Jimmy. I appreciate it."

Her flat response increased the worry that Jimmy had felt since seeing the two of them in the hall. It was obvious that something had happened. Jimmy flashed her a grin, not daring to ask what was wrong.

"No problem. If you need anything else I'm only a phone call away."

"Thanks, Jimmy," she said again and opened her door. Tucking the papers under her arm she waved bye to him and then turned around and went inside her apartment.

Part of her, just a small part, thought about going to the window and yelling for Superman.

Would he come if she did?

Probably, if she was *convincing* enough. But she decided against it. She had already used that ruse once today. Besides, she had a few hours to kill before it was time to go to bed, she would put it to good use. It was time to see just what she had been up to for the past month.

Lois walked over to one of her loveseats and set the stack of articles down on the coffee table. She was just about to take a seat and start pouring over the articles when a stray thought meandered its way through the tangled mess of her mind.

What about the *box*?

If she was going to take a trip down memory lane tonight, that tour needed to include a visit to her box. She went to her closet and retrieved it. It wasn't anything to look at, just an old shoebox; but that wasn't important — it was what was inside that counted. She brought it back over to the loveseat and sat down with it, untying the twine that was holding it shut and pulling off the lid.

She had always had a keepsake box. Growing up, she had put things in it like certificates of achievement, awards and ribbons she had won for her creative writing attempts and some of the first stories she had written up for her school paper. Since graduating from college she had put pictures in it, special clippings, postcards from Lucy — Lois smiled as she examined one that Lucy had sent her from Baha, California. 'The Perfect Man' — It had a picture of a gorgeous guy who had an apron on, a dustpan in one hand, a bag of chocolates in the other and a piece of duct tape over his mouth. Back when Lucy had sent her that postcard, she had *thought* that was the perfect man.

It was amazing how much your opinion could change and as she perused her box further, she realized that this box confirmed that. Over the past year, a different kind of memento had begun to share space in this box with her other treasures.

Memories of Clark.

The first thing she had put in here from Clark — besides a clipping of their first article together — had been a simple little card. Its appearance was splotchy and warped with a yellowish-brown hue. Lois smiled remembering what had caused the discoloration.

Clark had given her yellow roses after her first fiasco with Kyle Griffin. She had thought Kyle was playing a final joke on her and she had thrown the card, roses, and all into her trashcan and poured her coffee out on them.

Only then had she found out they were from Clark.

'From a special friend.'

The words weren't his — it was just a stock card from the florist — but she had saved it anyway. That had been before she realized how special that friend was going to become.

She sifted through some of the other more recent items, smiling at the funny things she had kept. One item in particular caught her attention.

A cork.

She felt a blush creep into her cheeks when she remembered the night that cork belonged to.

The night of their 'almost' first date.

She had noticed the cork laying on the countertop above the small refrigerator that next morning and had pocketed it. She wasn't sure why. She had just wanted it. It had been a special night — despite her being sick — and she had wanted something to remember it by.

Lois felt tears coming to her eyes again. What if she couldn't ever make memories like that again? Had they shared close moments in the weeks she had lost? What didn't she remember?

What if the memories she had right now and the keepsakes in this box were all she would ever know of her life? All she would ever know of Clark…?

A petite floral-decorated envelope in the box caught her attention. She didn't remember this card. And that meant it must have been something she'd been given sometime in the past month.

It was a small card, like the one she had kept from her yellow roses. Had it been given to her by Clark?

She anxiously removed the card from its envelope and saw that he had handwritten this one.

'Still dreaming about that night in the clouds. Take all the time you need — I'll always be here for you. Yours forever, Clark.'

A soft sob escaped from her lips as she read the words to herself. How could she have lost the memory of a night in the clouds? What did that mean, anyway? Had he taken her flying with him? Just for fun and not because he was rescuing her? Had they kissed?

She felt hollow at the loss of that memory, whatever it was. She read the card again. 'Take all the time you need.'

Time? Time for what? To do what?

'Take all the time you need. I'll always be here for you.'

The words seemed to imply that she had something to think about. That she was contemplating something. What?

A knock at her door startled her out of thought and her heart soared at the hope that it might be Clark.

No. No it probably wasn't Clark. If it were Clark, he most likely would have come via the window, not the door.

She got up from the couch and headed towards the door, not really in the mood to talk to anyone. A quick look out her peephole told her that she didn't know the woman on the other side of the door.

Her hand hesitated at the knob. She was tired, frustrated, and she didn't feel like talking to a stranger, even if the woman did have a pleasant smile on her face. She let her hand drop and was about to turn around when the woman's voice came from the other side of the door.

"Lois, it's Star. I know you're in there. Open up. I brought ice cream."

Star. That name sounded familiar. Star…? Oh, yes, Clark had mentioned the name to her that morning. She was Lois's new neighbor, the one who had given her the plant.

Lois started to wonder how Star knew she was in here and then remembered Clark mentioning something about her being psychic. She rolled her eyes. This was bound to be interesting.

She opened the door. "Hi, Star." Lois was about to tell her that she was very tired and had lost her memory and wasn't in the mood to talk, but Star came flouncing into her apartment talking a mile a minute before Lois could even form her words.

"Hi, Lois. I'm sorry to barge in on you like this but I've been out of town visiting my sister for the past two days and I wanted to check on you. How's your head?"

"Um, okay, but I…"

"Oh, good. That was a nasty little spill you took. I was worried," Star interrupted her. "Anyway, I just got back tonight and I ran into Clark as he was leaving. He looked pretty upset and he didn't want to talk. Are you two still having problems? I thought after we talked the other night that you were feeling more comfortable about marriage and commitment. Where do you keep your spoons? Nevermind, I know." She smiled at Lois giving her a little wink. "I always know." Star headed off into the kitchen in search of the required silverware.

Lois's head spun from the influx of information. Is this how other people felt when *she* went into babble mode?


<'Take all the time you need…'>

Lois caught up to Star and grabbed her arm to catch her attention. "What do you mean by 'marriage and commitment'?"


Darkness. A freezing void. Lois wanted to breathe but the air wouldn't find her lungs. She tried to scream but no sound came to her lips.

She was going to die. Or she already had.

But then…

Heat. An indescribable feeling of warmth. And a voice…

"Live," it commanded her. She tried to open her eyes, but found she couldn't. She felt the warm touch of someone's hand on her own, and then the soft caress of lips brush against hers as air was forced into her lungs. They protested the invasion, wanting to accept the life-giving air, but were not yet ready to do so.

"Come on, Lois. Come back to me." The voice begged her. "Fight, Lois, come on, fight." It was like she was trapped in a thick fog, but even through her blindness, she recognized the voice… Clark. He sounded so frightened.

'I'm trying, Clark!' her mind screamed at him as she began to fear that this would be the last time she ever heard his voice. She clawed her way further through the fog.

"Don't you die on me, Lois. Now come on, don't give up." His voice seemed to quiver.

'I'm not! Clark, I'm trying!' It seemed as if she could see a bit of light through the fog. Was that good or bad? She had heard about people 'moving towards the light'…

"Come on, breathe, Lois. Breathe!" Clark commanded her, his tone thick with desperation.

She tried to will herself to open her eyes. Breathe! Move! Cough! Something…

She felt the weight of his head against her chest. "No…" His voice was barely even a breath and yet it was so full of pain.

He thought she was dead.

She exerted every ounce of strength and spirit that she could find inside her… and then her panic increased. The breath he had pushed into her lungs was escaping — she wasn't able to hold onto it.

She coughed.

Clark's arms were around her immediately. "Okay, okay," he murmured soothingly to her.

She coughed again and then gratefully sucked in a deep breath.

"Okay, okay. That's it… okay," he continued to persuade her with whispers as he clutched her against him protectively. She could hear murmurs of relief coming from Martha and Jonathan as well. They were alive! It had worked!

"I heard you calling," she choked out, wanting to reassure him. "I heard you calling."

"Shhh. Shhh," he whispered softly, holding her even tighter.

She opened her eyes, expecting to see Clark and his parents; but, instead, she saw Superman's concerned face looking down at her.

Lois's eyes flew open.

Clark is Superman.

She threw the covers back in her bed, feeling slightly claustrophobic. It wasn't a dream. It was real. That had really happened.

Clark is Superman.

It had worked! They had beaten Jace and saved Clark's parents. Her heart lurched with indescribable relief.

But where was Clark? She wanted him — needed to hold him in her arms. She needed to talk to him, to sort through this amazing discovery. She knew she was right. What would his reaction be? Where was he? How had she gotten back to her apartment? She couldn't seem to remember…

She glanced over at her alarm clock. She couldn't read the time — something was taped to the front of it. She reached over and turned her lamp on so she could see what it was. Maybe Clark had left her a note?

She grabbed the note from her clock. It was folded in half and there was handwriting on the outside — *her* handwriting:

'Lois — you must read this before you do anything else.'

With the oddest sense of déjà vu, she opened the note. It appeared to be some kind of a list — in her own handwriting. Thoroughly confused, she began to read the list…

1. You have amnesia — I know it's hard to believe but it's true (check the burgundy notebook on your nightstand for further details).

2. Yes, you know about Clark and he knows you know. Your plan worked (well, sort of — again check your journal) and Clark's parents are safe.

3. You cut your hair, don't freak out — I don't know why — and you have a bump on your head from a concussion.

4. You have a new neighbor named Star. She gave you the plant in your bedroom. Last night she said that Clark proposed to you a month ago. Maybe check with Perry about this, not sure how much to trust Star? She obviously doesn't know you that well if she gave you a plant.

5. You have a doctor's appointment to go to this morning and Clark will be coming by to pick you up. He's been acting very distant. It may be because (according to Star) you turned down his proposal. Again, need more info on this.

6. Call the drycleaners, your light blue suit is missing and you probably dropped it off there before this all started.

7. Check the expiration date on your milk. I meant to do this last night but I was too tired to get out of bed.

Lois set the paper down and felt a little lightheaded. Her hand rose to run through her hair and she was dismayed to find that it really was shorter. She glanced wearily over at the burgundy notebook. When she opened it she noted with dismay that the date was a month in the future. When had it become August? But it must, or someone was doing a damn fine job of forging her handwriting.



Clark fought the growing anxiety he was feeling the closer he came to Lois's apartment door.

It was like already knowing the end of a book but reading it anyway and hoping desperately that somehow it would change… this time.

But what if she hadn't forgotten everything again? What if she managed to remember some of what she had learned yesterday?

What was he saying? Of course she would remember some of yesterday. If not through actual memories, then certainly through her journal. She had written everything down. Whether she would believe it was another story.

Uneasiness spread through him, settling deep in his stomach. He was going to have to tell her.

Lois was going to keep pushing him, keep asking for the missing memories from the past month. He couldn't keep glossing over things and pretending like everything was okay between them.

It wasn't. They couldn't be together, and he was going to have to tell her that.

Wasn't he?

He reached out to knock on the door, mentally preparing himself for Lois's confusion when she answered, and then he hesitated.

Until she was fully recovered from this, did he have the right to foist the full truth on her? She had seemed so scared, so vulnerable last night. It wouldn't be fair of him, or loving, to unburden his conscience by telling her things that she didn't really need to know right now.

Would it?

No, it wouldn't. It could wait. What she needed right now more than anything was a friend to help her through this — even if she thought that friend was something more… than a friend. He put his knuckles to the wood and rapped lightly.

When the door swung open, Clark thought he had prepared himself for whatever Lois might throw at him.

He was wrong.

Lois rushed into his arms, her lips finding his in a passionate kiss. As his mind fought to determine just why this wasn't a good idea, his body took over and his arms wrapped themselves around her of their own will.

Lois clung to him. Oh, his lips felt so good. She knew that she had been mad at him for hiding from her, not telling her the truth about Superman. She knew that because she was feeling those feelings now. Everything was new to her. But those emotions weren't overpowering — something inside her was also telling her that she had forgiven him. And then there was her journal, which said Clark had proposed to her.

Proposed to her! That was a hard concept to wrap her mind around first thing in the morning, but the possibility had been staring up at her from the pages of that journal in pure black and white. There had also been a card in Clark's handwriting tucked into her journal telling her that he would give her all the time she needed.

Right now the only thing she knew for sure was that she wanted to hold him — and wanted him to hold her.

And she never wanted to let him go.

Clark didn't think she was ever going to let go of him. What had prompted this reaction from her? He reluctantly but insistently parted from her. "What's going on?" he asked breathlessly.

"Remember yesterday you told me about reviving me and thinking you almost lost me? Well of course you remember — I'm the one with the memory problem. Anyway, I dreamt about it last night."

Clark was so relieved that he pressed a quick kiss to her forehead. "You dreamt about it? So you remembered something I told you from yesterday?"

"No, not from yesterday. From when you froze me. And it wasn't something you told me. I dreamed about how you woke me up — it was like I lived it again. Clark, I think I actually *remembered* something!"

Clark felt a thrill of excitement go through him accompanied by just a touch of nerves. "Do you remember anything else?"

Lois furrowed her brow as she thought for a moment. "No. I remember everything up through waking up in your arms, after you thawed me out. But that's when I woke up and that seems to be where my memory stops as well. Everything else I know because I made a list and wrote it in a journal." Clark watched as a curious twinkle came into her eyes. "Do you realize what this means?"

He shook his head; she had lost him.

"It means you have to tell me more," she said excitedly. "You have to give more of my memories back to me. Maybe I'll begin to remember more as you do."

He wished that were true. But he didn't see how that could be possible. After all, he had explained everything in detail to her the other night, and she hadn't remembered any of it the next morning. What he was afraid was that this was just a fluke.

But he wasn't going to tell her that. And he certainly wasn't about to get into their breakup, not right this second anyway. "We can talk more later. Right now, I need to get you to your doctor's appointment."

Clark felt even more guilt at the look of disappointment he saw on her face, but it couldn't be helped. He wasn't even sure what he planned on telling her yet. He needed some time today to think about it.

Lois frowned. He was being — oh how had she put it in her journal? Aloof? Yes. He was being aloof — again. He *was* dodging her. Presumably he had acted that way all day yesterday, if her notes were anything to go by. She wondered if it was because she still hadn't given him an answer to that "supposed" proposal. She had to find out about that for sure.

She wasn't going to her doctor's appointment, not just yet. This couldn't wait, not even until after her appointment. "Okay. I'm ready when you are, but first I want to swing by the Planet. There's something I need to clear up with Perry."

Perry? What was she going to ask Perry, Clark wondered? Something she came across when she was going over some notes last night or this morning?

Clark wasn't sure just why but, for some reason, it concerned him.


Clark slowed the Jeep and was getting ready to turn in the direction of the parking garage when Lois's hand came out to rest on his arm. It sent a tingle through him.

"No, just drop me off here, Clark, and wait for me. This will only take a minute. I'll be right back."

"But if it's about the story we're working on, shouldn't I be there with you when you talk to Perry?"

"Oh, don't worry. It's not about work. It's personal." She leaned over and gave him a swift but tender kiss on the cheek. "I'll be right back." She wiped her lipstick from his cheek and then hopped out of the car before he even had time to protest.


As he watched Lois disappear inside the building, he wondered briefly if he could hear them from down here, inside the car. He could definitely peer through the building and watch.

Mortified at himself, he shook his head. His mother would probably threaten to beat him if she knew he was thinking about intentionally spying on Lois… Not that he hadn't done it before.

That had been different, though. They hadn't been a couple before.

But they weren't a couple now, he reminded himself.

He tore his eyes away from the building and looked down at the radio. Maybe it was better if he just removed temptation completely.


"Lois? Aren't you supposed to be at the doctor's office? Where's Clark?" Perry asked, his voice caught between confusion and concern.

"Clark? Clark's down in the car, Perry. We're on our way to the doctor's office, but I had to know something. This couldn't wait."

Perry's eyebrows went up a little and he sat up a little straighter in his seat. "You, uh, seem pretty worked up. What's on your mind?"



She nodded at him and then turned and began to slowly pace. "I know I'm missing a lot from the past few weeks, but I just came across some interesting information that I wanted to ask you about. I know you didn't get to be editor by being a snappy dresser," she quipped, stopping to glance at him. Off of his wounded look she hastily amended, "Not that you're not fashion-conscious, Chief…"

"Oh, save it, Lois. What did you want?"

"Did Clark ask me… that is… did I tell you about…"

"I do need to try and leave sometime today…"

"Right. Okay…" She took a quick breath and then let the words tumble out. "I think Clark asked me to marry him before I lost my memory. Did he?"

Perry watched her in stunned disbelief. Of course he knew about the proposal. He bit back a smile when he remembered Lois coming into his office and telling him that Clark had asked her to marry him. Perry had asked if she thought they ought to try dating first. That was before that fiasco on Spencer Spencer's island.

That retreat really hadn't turned out the way he had planned. It was supposed to be a getaway for Lois and Clark. He was going to have to find a way to make that up to them. That is, once Lois got her memory back.

Perry frowned. Of all the information Clark had no doubt given Lois since she had lost her memory, he hadn't thought to tell her *that*? You don't simply *forget* to tell someone that you proposed to them. Something was up.

"Well, I, uh," Perry stammered. "Don't you think that's something you should ask Clark?"

"That's the thing. Normally, I would. You know me, Chief, I don't beat around the bush. But what if I'm wrong? That could be a little awkward." She paused, looking at him expectantly. When he didn't say anything she sighed dramatically. "Well, do you know, or don't you?"

"Yeah. Yeah, Lois, I know. And my advice to you," he looked at her very pointedly, "is to ask Clark about it."

That was it. That was her answer. Clark *had* proposed to her!


Lois rattled the pills around in the little brown plastic bottle. Well, rattle wasn't really the right word. They were liquid-filled capsules and they didn't make much more than a muted clack as they bounced against one another. Thirty pills — thirty chances to fill in the holes in her memory.

She glanced sidelong at Clark as he drove them back to the Planet. She hadn't figured out yet how to bring up the proposal to him. Part of her just wanted to blurt it out. Call him on it. She had tried to work up the nerve to do that on the way to the doctor's office, but she couldn't. And then she hadn't had the privacy to do it at the doctor's office, but now they were back in the car, alone.

The other part of her, though, desperately wanted Clark to come clean, to tell her about the proposal on his own.

Maybe even propose again. She looked away to hide her smile.

Something was obviously keeping him from telling her, though, possibly the fact that she hadn't accepted his proposal to begin with. She had probably crushed him when she had said "no", or that she had to "think about it", or whatever it was that she had told him.

What would she say right now? If he asked her again?

She wasn't sure…

She looked back down at the bottle in her hands. The pills were a golden honey color. They looked almost good enough to eat. She bet if she punctured one and tasted it that it wouldn't taste anything like honey.

She looked over at Clark, again, her eyes going straight to his lips. *He*, however, tasted like honey, or something close to honey. She wished she could have a taste of those lips now. A movement distracted her from his mouth and she noticed that the little tic in his jaw, the one that meant he was working something out in his mind, was jumping erratically.

"The doctor was very pleased that I had remembered something already," Lois said, unable to sit in silence any longer. "He said he thought the pills were working better than we had hoped. The one I took last night was my first one, after all. I think the visit was encouraging, don't you?" she asked, her voice hopeful.

"Mmm," Clark mumbled distractedly.

"Are you even listening to me?" she complained.

"What?" he asked, turning to look at her. "Yes, Lois, I'm listening to you. I've just… got a lot on my mind, that's all."

"Oh? Well why don't you share it with me? Is there something you are just dying to tell me, or maybe ask me?"

The confusion she saw on his features didn't do anything to assure her that he knew what she was talking about, let alone give her hope that he was actually going to divulge anything to her.

"Actually, I do."

Lois's heart jumped in her chest. She tried to control her breathing and calm the beating of her heart, but it was impossible. She bit the inside of her lip as she waited semi-patiently for him to continue.

"But not right now," Clark continued, not finding his nerve. This was all wrong. He still wasn't sure exactly what he was going to tell her or how much. Whatever he was going to say, he couldn't tell her here. Not like this — in her Jeep on the way back to work. It had to be somewhere private and comforting. It needed to be at her apartment. "Ask me again, later."

He hated himself for the disappointment he saw on her face. What was she hoping he was going to tell her?

<Oh, don't worry. It's not about work. It's personal…>

What did she know — or think she knew — about what had happened in the past month?

What had she asked Perry about earlier?


Lois was finishing up writing some notes for the day on their "nonexistent" story and her "nonexistent" memory in her journal when she heard Clark sigh exasperatedly.

"Yeah, I'll hold."

She looked up in time to see him run a hand through his hair and blow out a long sigh through pursed lips. It was about the fourth time she'd heard him utter those words and then sigh since he'd made the call to STAR Labs.

They had been trying to contact Dr. Klein to ask him some further questions about Project Nirvana but, so far, he was still inaccessible.

Dr. Klein must be a very busy man.

But maybe not too busy for Superman?

Lois got up from her desk and walked over to Clark; she looked around conspiratorially and leaned down close to his ear. "What about Superman? If Clark Kent can't get through to Dr. Klein, maybe Superman could?"

"Lois, I do not use my secret identity to bypass… What? Yes, I've been holding. How much longer is it… No! Wait! Ugh… sure, I'll hold." He looked up to see Lois smiling smugly at him. He was about to say something when her phone began to ring. She turned back to look at it and then shrugged at him as she walked back to her desk.

Lois had scarcely believed her journal entry this morning and she wondered if this was the call she had been waiting for. If it was, there was no way she wouldn't be overheard by Clark. Oh well. Tough. This had to be done, and if bothered Clark then he the one was being immature.

"Lois Lane," she spoke into the receiver as she lifted it to her ear.

"So I didn't imagine it. Tell me you called just to hear my voice." Lois rolled her eyes at Dan Scardino's attempts to flirt with her. She was still amazed that she'd kept his office number in her Rolodex. But it seemed now as if she might have a use for it after all — if he would help her.

"I'm sorry I missed your call yesterday," he continued smoothly, "I was out… So, *is* this a social call? Please tell me it is. Please tell me that you've come to your senses and dumped that lackluster partner of yours… or better yet, he finally ran off and never came back."

"Hi, Dan," she said simply, trying to avoid his comments as best she could. After all, she was going to need to sweet talk him a little if she was going to get what she wanted out of him. "It's not exactly a social call," she forced the lie from her lips with difficulty and glanced around guiltily. Clark was looking at her — correction — frowning at her. Well, that was what he got for listening in on other people's conversations. "Actually, Dan, I need your help."

"My help? *You* need *my* help?"

She grimaced. He was going to be difficult, after all. "Yeah."

"My help comes at a steep price, Lois." She could actually *hear* him smiling through the phone.

She furrowed her brow, raising her eyebrows. Price? She didn't ask, letting her silence speak for her.

"It just so happens that I'm going to be in Metropolis for a few days," he continued. "I'm coming through briefly to testify at the Knox trial before heading out to my next assignment in Philadelphia. I wasn't planning to give you a call, after our last conversation… but if you need information, the least you can do is go out to dinner with me. My flight gets in tomorrow afternoon."

So it was going to be extortion. She sighed wearily. Clark wasn't going to be happy. But if anyone could give them the information they were looking for, it would be Dan. She was fairly certain he would share more info than Dr. Klein ever would. "You don't even know what I'm going to ask. I need to know…"

"Uh-uh. No way. No dinner, no information. That's the deal."

She hesitated for a second before replying, "Okay, Dan," in a resigned tone. She could see Clark, out of the corner of her eye, as he slammed his receiver down, the look on his face way past irritation. "But it's just a business dinner, nothing else," she added hastily.

"Well, yeah. Strictly business. You know me — all work and no play."

Lois relaxed a little into her chair. He was teasing her, but at least he knew that she wanted to keep it on a professional level. "Where do you want to meet?"

"Why don't I pick you up at your apartment and we'll go from there?"

She tensed up again. "Oh, Dan, I don't know…" She could see Clark getting up out of his chair to walk over towards her. She needed to wrap this up quickly, before Clark decided he needed to intervene on her behalf. "Okay, sure, how about six o'clock?"

"Six it is. See you soon. Oh, and don't expect me to bring flowers." He chuckled lightly and hung up. She put the receiver back down in its cradle and looked up at Clark with her best innocent look.

"So, did you get through to Dr. Klein?" she asked, trying to sidetrack him.

"Who was that?"

She grimaced. No such luck. Then she felt a little irritation. Who was that? He knew who that was! "Don't give me that. I know you were listening in on my conversation, 'Mr. Sonar Ears'."

Her comment seemed to have wounded him a little and he had the decency to look a little chagrined.

"I only called him because I knew he could help with the case," she continued unabashed. "Dan did extensive research on that drug. Remember, he was up to his eyeballs posing as a dirty FDA agent in an undercover sting when Intergang tried to get the drug approved in a hurry."

Clark knew that it was a reasonable idea. Dan was the only other expert they knew besides Dr. Klein. And Dr. Klein was proving almost impossible to get in touch with.

Clark's heart feared another story. Hearing Lois talk to Dan had opened up all the anxiety he had tried so hard to forget. She might say that she was over Dan — and she very well may be — but Clark just knew that Dan didn't feel the same way. Dan had backed away gracefully when Lois had made her intentions known, but that didn't mean the jerk would stop trying if he thought there was the least little chance.

"Then you won't mind if I come to dinner with you tomorrow night," he suggested.

She raised an eyebrow at him in disbelief. "Clark, are you seriously jealous? You remember that I dumped him, right? Listen, I understand your feelings, I really do. But you know Dan isn't going to open up with you there. You make him uncomfortable — and that makes me uncomfortable. You're just going to have to trust me to do this one on my own."

"What about your memory?" he challenged.

"Don't worry. I'll write the appointment down in my journal and I'll take my journal with me to dinner tomorrow night. Nothing will be forgotten."

Clark looked less than happy and Lois felt a little guilty. Maybe she could make it up to him by having dinner with *him*… tonight. He still owed her some explanations, after all. Explanations… hah, that was one way of putting it. "Besides, you're coming over for dinner tonight, right?"

Dinner? She wanted to have dinner with him tonight? When he faltered in his response she continued, "I really need to talk to you and I really don't want to be by myself tonight," she admitted, her mouth making that cute little pout that was almost impossible for him to resist.

He was torn. Part of him knew he shouldn't. He had told her they couldn't see each other any more. He needed to keep his distance from her as much as he could, in order to protect her.

But she didn't know that now… she had lost those memories again and he still wasn't sure he was ready yet to relive them with her… again. What was it he had told himself earlier that morning?

She needed a friend right now.

He had comforted her before as her friend. He would do that for her tonight. Plus, he didn't really want her to have to be alone tonight, either. He hadn't wanted to leave her alone last night. He wished she had let him call Lucy or Ellen to come stay with her.

She was so stubborn sometimes…

Then, too, there was her dinner with Dan tomorrow. It really bothered Clark, more than he cared to admit. And part of his irrational brain said if she was going to have dinner with Dan that he wanted to have dinner with her, too.

He knew he was being foolish — but the idea had been seeded and was now firmly rooted in his heart.

"Dinner?" he asked. She nodded. "At *your* place?" Another nod. "Are *you* cooking?" That earned him a playful slap on the arm.

"Fine," she pouted and then she got a little twinkle in her eye. "You know, Dan liked my rumaki. And I bet there are plenty of men out there who could learn to love my cooking," she stated matter-of-factly, giving him a mischievous look.

He rolled his eyes at the further mention of Dan's name. He had heard the man's name too many times both that day and the day before — once had been one too many. Dan had finally been extricated from their lives a little over a month ago. It had taken Clark that long to forget him. And now, it seemed, he was coming back.

Clark sighed in frustration. He could have died happy if he'd never seen the man again — never heard his name mentioned again. But he knew he couldn't fault Lois for continuing to bring him up. She couldn't remember anything that had happened the past month — so Dan was probably still pretty fresh in her mind. Which was fine, so long as she continued to remember that she had emphatically shown him the door.

He still didn't like it, though. It… irked him. And what irked him even more was that she was going to have dinner with *him* tomorrow.

<He wouldn't be able to just stand idly by and watch Lois date some other person — even if he had told her that they couldn't be together. Especially if she dated someone as smarmy as Dan Scardino. Or, god forbid, Scardino himself…>

She could… end up with someone like Scardino. Clark was eventually going to have to tell her what had happened between them… that he had told her they couldn't be together because it wasn't safe for her.

He couldn't expect her to stay single the rest of her life. She was beautiful and talented. And someone was going to come along, eventually… whether it was Dan, or someone else.

The thought left him feeling unsettled. Just *thinking* about Lois with someone else was enough to put an uncomfortable knot in the pit of his stomach. It caused all kinds of unpleasant feelings to flow through him.

Imagine if he actually had to *see* her with another man.

That thought wasn't at all pleasant. He'd have to move again if that happened… when that happened. That's all there was to it.

It wasn't that he didn't want to see her happy. He wanted that more than anything — safe and happy. But he couldn't — he wouldn't — just sit back and watch her with another man. Watch her be held by another man. Watch her kiss another man…

That *would* be more than he could take.

"Hey, I was just teasing," she said, grabbing his arm and jolting him out of his thoughts. "You know there's nothing between me and Dan. Honestly… I'm not sure there ever would have been."

"Yeah, I know," he told her, his voice sounding a little unsteady. There wasn't anything between Lois and Dan — right now. But when she found out that she wasn't otherwise engaged with someone else…

Lois watched Clark as he fidgeted, his expression dark with emotion. What was up with him? Surely he knew she was just kidding with him? Even if she was still upset with him over the whole Superman situation, she knew there was only one man for her.

And she had chosen Clark over Dan, after all. Why should this bother him so much? But, then again, if everything she had learned was true, she had turned down his proposal. Was that it?

Well, they were going to move past that tonight.

"So?" she asked.

"So?" he shook his head, looking confused.

"Are you going to come over for dinner…?"

"Oh. Yeah," he stumbled and then he threw her a crooked grin. "But why don't I cook for you?"


"More wine?" Clark asked her, picking up the bottle and flashing her a smile. He knew he shouldn't be enjoying this as much as he was. It was only going to break both of their hearts later when she got better and he had to come back to reality.

"No, better not," she said, as she came walking back to the table with dessert. Homemade fudge brownies. Clark had said they were his mom's special recipe and that he couldn't make them quite as good as she could — but close. The smell of chocolate was almost intoxicating — or maybe that was from the wine. "I'm having enough memory trouble as it is." She set the pan down on the table next to him.

She lifted her eyes from the pan to his face and she noticed that he had a little speck of spaghetti sauce next to his mouth. Temptingly close to his lips.

"Mmm, you have a little sauce…"

"Where?" He started to reach up for his face, but she beat him there. She applied her mouth to his skin and slowly and methodically removed the sauce with the tip of her tongue. She thought she heard a guttural moan escape from him but before she could question it, he was kissing her.

He reached up, cupping her face with one hand, his fingers gently pulling her down towards him to deepen the kiss.

Clark had acted without thinking, and now that his brain had kicked in, he wasn't about to stop. He had missed kissing her. He had missed it a lot. The eager pull of her mouth against his made him feel more alive than anything else ever had. He knew he should stop this but he didn't want to. And he couldn't even blame it on the wine, either. It was entirely Lois. He was drunk on Lois.

He deepened the kiss, tasting wine and something else, something solely hers, in the recesses of her mouth. This had been a bad idea — coming over tonight for dinner. He had flirted with her, enjoying her company and the teasing warmth of her eyes. He had wanted this all night, had hoped for it, even half-planned it.

Clark urged her down, onto his lap, and she came willingly. Her hands tangled in his hair and brushed across the back of his neck, sending little sparks of desire down his spine to gather low in his groin.

Had she ever kissed Scardino like this? What if she ended up with Dan once she realized that Clark had broken up with her? He increased the intensity of their kiss, a new desperation filling him as he realized that he loved her more than ever.

Lois could feel his body begin to tense. He seemed conflicted. It was time. It was time for her to force him to come clean with her. He had been avoiding her all day and now she had him here, where she could corner him. Where he couldn't escape.

She said a silent prayer that no one would need Superman… at least not until she was through with him.

Lois pulled gently away from the questing attention of Clark's lips and looked at him tenderly. "Clark, if I asked you to do something for me, would you do it?"

Clark's mind was still swimming from the kiss but he could feel his heartbeat quicken. Do what? It depended on what she wanted him to do…

No, no that wasn't true. He knew it wasn't. At this moment, he would do whatever she asked of him. He nodded at her, unable to find his voice.

"Take me flying." She thought back to the card she had found in her journal this morning.

<'Still dreaming about that night in the clouds…'>

She couldn't remember that night, but if she couldn't remember it, then maybe she could try to relive it.

"Flying?" That caught Clark totally off guard. He wasn't sure what he had expected her to ask — but it hadn't been that.

"Yeah, you know, just because you want to and not because Superman just saved me. I've always wanted to fly with you. You told me once that you'd take me, remember?"

Clark thought back furiously, trying to remember when he had promised to take her flying. It was ironic. She was the one with the missing memories but he was the one who couldn't seem to remember.

He shook his head when he came up empty. "I'm sorry…"

"It was when you left to destroy the Nightfall asteroid. You promised me you'd come back… that we'd go flying. But we never did. Of course after having amnesia yourself, you probably forgot." She gave him a weary smile. "We make quite a pair."

She was wrong, though, he did remember now. He remembered the fear in her eyes as she'd watched him go. He had been afraid, too, but he had wanted to be strong for her. He wondered if telling her that he would come back and that they would go flying together was what had helped him find the strength to make it back?

Clark held back the painful grimace before it reached his face. They had been flying together since then. He closed his eyes remembering their night together in the clouds… when Lois had told him that he wasn't alone any more.

She had been willing to stay beside him, to assure him that he wasn't alone but, instead, he had left her.

He knew he shouldn't do this but he wanted it more than anything else right now. He glanced toward the window. It was getting dark and if he took them high enough into the night sky, no one would be able to see them. Superman wouldn't be putting her in danger by being seen with her.

Lois watched anxiously as Clark seemed to have some kind of inner struggle with himself. She laid one hand against his chest softly. "Please?"

Her final plea was his undoing. "Yes, Lois. I'll take you flying." He took her hand from his chest and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Just let me change." He got up from the table, taking a couple of steps away from her, and spun into his suit. He smiled when he saw the awed expression on her face. For her this was still all so new.

He held out his hand to her and felt the heat flow up his arm and through his body when she placed her hand in his. He led her to the window, opening it with his other hand, and then turned back to face her.

"So how do we do this?" she asked hesitantly. "Usually when I fly with you, you've just scooped me up from the jaws of death." She flashed him a nervous smile.

When he smiled back it threatened to weaken her legs to the point that he really was going to have to scoop her. He lifted his arms slightly and she took the hint, sliding her hands around his back.

Clark fought the urge to embrace her and instead took hold of her below her ribcage on either side, gently raising her into the air a few inches. "Put your feet on top of mine."


"If it will make you feel more stable, you can put your feet on top of mine."

She wiggled her toes, working the small black pump off of one foot to let it fall the short distance to the floor below and then used her toes to pull the other shoe off. She knew it was silly, but she didn't want to put her feet on top of his with her shoes on.

The sole of one foot found the smooth surface of his boot and she applied a little weight to it, and then she did the same to the other one.

Clark lifted them out through the open window and up into the darkness above. It was a crisp, cool night, not a cloud in sight, and she could see for miles. The moon wasn't full; it was missing part of the upper curve, but it was still big and bright.

A slight shiver ran through her and she nestled into Clark's chest, wrapping her arms around him a little tighter. She hadn't thought to put a jacket on before they left, but it didn't seem that she was going to need one. It was amazing how warm he was. She laid her head down softly against his shoulder and dared to move her face closer to his neck.

Clark hesitantly moved his hands from where he held her to wrap his arms around her. It was only to keep her warm, he reassured himself. When he felt another shiver run through her, he wrapped his cape around her as he had before, on the flight that she didn't remember.

Having her here with him, floating under the stars, he wanted to push the world away; to pretend that everything that had happened and everything he knew to be true, didn't exist. Up here, right now, there were no villains after them. For just a little while Clark could pretend he hadn't told her that they couldn't be together. For this moment, all was perfect in his world.

A breath of wind caught the scent of her and bathed him in it, a mixture of her shampoo, his favorite perfume, and the fragrance of just *her*.

He had read that the sense of smell was the strongest of the senses, able to conjure up memories and feelings in a way that none of the others could. He believed that. Her scent conjured up images of all the times he had held her this close; first as Superman — usually as Superman — but then as Clark. She smelled so tantalizing, enchanting, just like when they had fallen together onto the couch the night of their almost first date.

That night had haunted his dreams recently — along with the thought of never holding her in his arms like that or ever being that close to her again. He remembered how the weight of her on top of him had felt. He could recall in perfect detail the flex of her hands on his biceps as she pushed herself upright. She had shifted her lower body against his in such a way that even the memory of it still made him break out in a cold sweat.

And now, here she was… in his arms again. Clark closed his eyes, pushing away the disquieting thoughts that were trying to break through, and simply held her.

The moment was perfect. Part of Lois hated to break the spell, but she knew it was now or never. Clark was relaxed, he was vulnerable. If she was going to catch him off guard, it would have to be now.

"Wasn't there something you wanted to tell me?" she asked softly, her lips moving against his neck as she spoke.

"Tell you?" Clark asked nervously. No, not now. Please, not now.

"Yes. Earlier today, in the car, you said you had something you wanted to tell me, but not then. You told me to ask you later." She paused for effect. "This is about as "later" as it gets."

Clark bit back a frustrated sigh. He had been right. She was going to keep pushing until she made him tell her everything. But he didn't want to. He didn't want this to end.

But it had to. Deep down he knew it did. "Okay. But let me take us back to your apartment." He couldn't do this with them dangling several hundred feet above the ground. He needed something steady beneath him, giving him strength. And she would need more stability, too.

He was tensing up. Lois could feel the tightness as it flowed through his body. He was afraid. She didn't want him to feel afraid or hesitant. It had to be difficult to propose to someone only to be rejected the first time. What if he couldn't work up the nerve to tell her what had happened… or to ask her again? She wanted him to feel her love, her acceptance.

Clark set them down gently inside her apartment and started to unwrap himself from her, but she held on to him tighter and moved her lips up to his ear. "If you ask me, I'll say yes," she whispered encouragingly.

Clark's breath caught in his chest. She knew about the proposal! Somehow she had figured it out.

But how? She surely didn't remember it? Had someone told her? But who? Perry? Was that what she had asked Perry about this morning? Clark almost felt dizzy as his mind hurled questions at him.

And then he couldn't think at all anymore. Lois was kissing him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and laced her fingers through the back of his hair as she pulled him closer to her.

Clark couldn't help himself. His heart knew what he wanted and it wasn't going to be denied again.

He wanted her.

He wrapped his arms back around her and pulled her against him as he deepened the kiss.


He had been so wrong.

How could their being together be wrong when it felt so right?

So positively and unquestionably right.

His life was so chaotic, so hectic. Nothing ever felt as right as when he was with her.

He needed her. He wasn't sure he could live without her. And he was absolutely certain he couldn't live with seeing her in another man's arms. How could he face a future where her lips were only captured by another man? Having to know that someone else was touching her body…

Lois — her body, her mind, her soul — all of her would be treasured and shared with another. His mind screamed at the thought and he moved them, their bodies still pressed together and their lips still joined, until her back was against the wall behind her. He released her mouth to explore the taste of her skin along her jaw line and down her neck. He sucked lightly on the delicate skin in the hollow at the base of her throat.

"Oh, Clark," Lois moaned, sliding a couple of inches down the wall as the strength in her legs failed her.

The soft intensity of her voice as she said his name pulled him back to reality. What was he doing? How could he even think of doing this? She didn't remember that he had told her that they couldn't be together. If she knew that, she wouldn't have allowed him to do this in the first place.

And she would only be able to remember any of this through a written journal.

It wasn't fair of him to make these memories with her under false pretenses. He loved her too much to take advantage of her missing memories and her confused feelings.

Clark pulled back from her lips and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. "Lois, we can't. You won't remember any of this tomorrow. It's not fair."

Lois nodded wordlessly, stepping out of Clark's arms and leading him over to her loveseat. She picked up a small card from the table and handed it to him. "I can't imagine *that* flight being any better than the one we just took."

Clark looked down at the card and his lips curved into a bittersweet smile.

'Still dreaming about that night in the clouds. Take all the time you need — I'll always be here for you. Yours forever, Clark.'

His heart ached. He had promised her so much and it must have hurt her deeply when he broke up with her. For a vague, unsettling moment he wondered if he was even more to blame for her current amnesia. Had it been the shock of his breaking things off between them that had caused this? Was this how her mind was coping with the loss? Was her mind resetting itself each night to the last happy memory she had of him?

But that couldn't be right, could it? She had been happy on Spencer Spencer's island. She had been happy that first night in the clouds. And she had been ready to say yes to him when he had told her they couldn't be together; and she was ready to say yes to him now. She wanted him to propose to her. What if he did it? What if he made things right between them? Would she wake up tomorrow with all her memories intact again?

But he couldn't propose again now. Things were too unresolved, too unsure and there was no guarantee that doing so would fix things. Clark knew that he loved her and he didn't want to see her end up with someone like Scardino. But if he ever could propose to her again, it certainly wouldn't be like this — with Lois unaware of what had happened between them and unable to remember things from one day to the next. It wouldn't be fair to her and it would be based on a lie. Or, even worse, a desperate experiment. He couldn't play with her feelings like that.

Clark was suddenly determined that he wouldn't hide anything else from her ever again.

And yet he didn't want to tell her what had happened between them. He didn't want to lose her. A feeling of desperation washed over him and he dropped to his knees in front of her.

Lois's breath caught in her chest as she watched Clark kneel on the floor in front of her. Oh god! He was really going to do it. But then he leaned forward and wrapped his arms around her tightly, pressing his cheek against her stomach.

Clark held on to her, not wanting to let go, terribly afraid that he was about to tell her the truth.

"I'm sorry," the whispered words escaped from his lips before he realized he was saying them.

Lois pulled back from him and looked into his eyes. The deep sorrow she could see in them shook her to the core. "Clark? What's wrong?"

Clark looked away from her, trying to hide his feelings. Why had he said that?

<Her condition could be permanent…>

Did he really need to tell her? Couldn't *he* just forget? "Nothing," was his reply.

She knew he was lying. She had seen it in his face all day. And somehow she knew now that his pain wasn't from her rejecting him.

Something else was wrong.

And she was about to find out what that something was. "Nothing, huh? I tell you in no uncertain words that I've accepted your proposal and then you tell me 'you're sorry'?" Her voice had begun to rise in timber. She was actually beginning to regret what she had said. "Then, when I ask what's wrong, you try to tell me it's nothing?" Clark's shoulders slumped and he flinched at the heat in her words. "I'm not stupid, Clark. What am I missing here?"

He started to turn away from her as if that was somehow going to save him from answering her. She reached out and grasped his jaw in her hand, turning his head so he had to face her. "You've avoided talking to me all day and now you can't anymore. Why don't you fill me in on just what I've forgotten over the past month?"

If he told her she would write it in her journal. She would wake up and relive it every single day until her memories returned — if they returned. No, that wasn't the truth. She would wake up and remember how thoughtless he had been even after her memories returned.

He wasn't ready to tell her. "Not right now, let's just…"

"No. Clark. Now," she commanded him, letting go of his face and crossing her arms in front of her.

"Does it really matter?" he implored. She was surprised by the depth of emotion in his eyes. They were beseeching her not to ask again. "You may not remember any of this in the morning and I'd really rather just enjoy the rest of our evening."

Whatever had happened hadn't been good — otherwise he wouldn't be so adamant about not talking about it. Her reporter's instincts kicked in and wouldn't allow her to let it go. These were *her* memories, too, after all; she deserved to know what had happened… whether she would remember tomorrow or not. Besides, she could write them down. She could make herself remember.

"No. I *need* to know, Clark. This is my life we're talking about. My memories. I can't just go on and pretend like the last month never happened." She exhaled an exasperated breath. "I mean, maybe I'll have to, if it comes to that, but I plan to at least document the things I've missed out on. If I can't remember them myself, I can at least have a record of them."

Clark was feeling a little panicked. He was right. She wanted him to tell her what had happened so she could write it all down and then relive it each morning when she woke up and read her journal.


No, he couldn't do that to her. He wouldn't.

His stomach seemed to twist in guilt. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to… lie to her. Well, not exactly lie. He could just change things… a little. He would come clean with her when her memories were back.

It was entirely possible she would remember on her own — without his help.

"Clark? I'm waiting." He was trying to decide something. She could see it in his eyes and it was written all over his face. But what?

"Yeah. I know. It's just… Where do I start?"

"You start from the beginning." And you don't leave anything out, either, she added silently. Was that what he was trying to decide? What *exactly* he was going to share with her? He'd better not think of withholding anything. These were her memories and she wanted them — the good, the bad, and the ugly. "Clark?"


"Please, be honest. Just because I don't remember what's happened doesn't mean you have the right to embellish anything… and don't think I won't be able to tell, either. Superman may have pulled the wool over my eyes for the past two years — but I dare say he won't fool again." She arched an eyebrow to emphasize her point. "Promise me."

"Promise you?"

"Promise me that you'll tell 'the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth' so help you…" She reached out and took his chin in her hand, again, forcing him to look her directly in the eyes.

"Lois…" He tried to look away. Memories of the night he had gone to visit her and Dan had beat him there were flashing through his mind. Clark had watched, his heart breaking, as Dan had gone inside Lois's apartment building with her so they could talk and Clark had simply flown off — resigned to the fact that he had lost her. How many times was he going to have to lose her before she remembered everything?

"Promise me!" she demanded, holding him firmly in place so he couldn't escape. Of course she knew she couldn't do that if he didn't let her. He could fly right out her window — if he had a mind to — but she was also certain that he knew better than to try something like that.

"Okay, okay. I promise." Clark swallowed and wished desperately that he were anywhere but here right now.


"I think I want you to leave now," Lois said quietly. Clark had spent the past hour recounting everything to her. She had kept her journal open in front of her, trying to take notes and yet becoming slowly swallowed by the words he was telling her.

She looked down at the words she had penned that were now staring up at her in permanent ink. He loved her. He had proposed to her. She loved him. Somehow she just knew she had been ready to give him her answer. And… He had left her. He had ended things. He had run away like a… coward.

No, that wasn't fair. He wasn't a coward. He was afraid, but not for himself. He was afraid for her.

But that didn't excuse what he had done. He had made the decision by himself. Did he think she was stupid? Did he think she hadn't considered the important issues? Like knowing what it was *really* going to mean to be his girlfriend? All the secrets she would have to keep? All the times she would have to be alone? And yes, even that she might be making herself a target.

She'd thought about it. She knew she had — whether she could remember thinking about it or not. But he hadn't even given her a chance to explain her point of view, to share her thoughts with him. He had just decided to play the big, dumb, alpha male and make the decision for both of them.

And that made her mad.

Really, really mad.

And it also hurt. It hurt like hell to know that she had lost him. And now she was going to wake up every morning and lose him all over again.

She understood — now — why he had been so reluctant to tell her the truth. For the briefest of moments she even considered ripping her latest notes from her journal. But that wouldn't fix anything, not really. It had happened and she was going to have to deal with it.

"Lois, please… don't."

"Don't what? Why would you even want to stay, Clark? We can't be together, remember?" she stated bitterly. "That means you shouldn't be here."

"Please, you didn't let me finish. You don't understand. That's not how I…"

"No, Clark, I understand perfectly, and I think you should go now."

"Maybe you shouldn't be alone," he argued. "Why don't I see if…"

"No. I want to be alone. I don't want you to stay and I don't want anyone else to, either. I'll get through things on my own just fine. Like I always have." Damn him for making her feel like she needed anyone, like she needed him. She got up from the loveseat and walked to the door, opening it.

"Okay, Lois, okay. I'll leave. But I'll come back by in the morning to check on you." Clark's voice sounded sad… resigned, and she had to steel her heart against it.

This wasn't her fault. He had done this to himself. *He* had made the decision and he was going to have to live with the consequences.

She watched him walk out her door and she closed it behind him, letting out a shaky breath.

Oh, Clark, how could you?

She felt a tear trying to escape from the corner of her eye and she reached up to brush it away, determined not to give in. This was why she didn't let people inside. This is why she had carefully constructed a wall around her… but Clark had managed to worm his way inside it.

And look what had happened.

She walked back over to the table and picked up her journal. How would she feel in the morning, when she woke up and read the words she had penned on these pages? She bit her lip; she knew exactly how she was going to feel — like she had been punched in the gut.

Lois walked into her bedroom and retrieved her *list* from her nightstand. She glanced through it. Items one, two, and three would remain as they were. She needed to know she had amnesia, that she knew about Clark and that she had cut her hair. But, after that, she needed to make some revisions. She marked through items four through seven and moved her pen down to the space below and began to write.

4. You have a new neighbor named Star. She's responsible for the plant in your bedroom. Note — apparently she is a reliable source for information on your private life. Because of her you discovered something important — see item five.

5. Clark proposed to you. It's true. You confirmed it with Perry and then managed to get Clark to admit it, just before you forced him to tell you things that had happened the past few weeks — including the fact that the night you got that bump on your head, he broke up with you. He gave you the stupid reason that it was too dangerous for Superman to be with you — people might use you to get to him. But, yet, he still somehow thinks it's okay for the two of you to be friends. What's the difference? Girlfriend… friend-friend… it's the same! Well minus a few things that you'd really rather not give up.

Lois paused there, realizing her mind had begun to drift. She was thinking about how it felt to kiss his lips and feel his strong arms wrapped around her, to feel the quickening of his heartbeat when he held her in those arms.

Focus, Lois. You're mad.

Clark had been incredibly dense and she was going to make him pay for it. She looked back down at item five and added one more sentence.

For more information on this, see pages fifteen through twenty of your journal.

6. Blue suit located at cleaners and picked up. Scratch that one.

7. Milk is fine — for another three or four days — but make a note when you go to pick up a new carton to get some fish food, too.

8. You have a dinner date with Dan Scardino tonight at six o'clock — it's for some information about Project Nirvana (see journal). He's coming to your apartment to pick you up. Remember to take your journal and take good notes.

9. Your medication that Dr. Peterson prescribed to help with your memory is in a little brown bottle in your medicine cabinet. They are liquid filled capsules, honey in color. You take one each night at bedtime.

She taped the note to her alarm clock and then proceeded to go retrieve her pill bottle from the cabinet. It was time to take one of those pills. The sooner she got better, the sooner she could put this whole mess behind her and get on with her life.

With or without Clark.


Clark peered through the building, watching as Lois taped a note to her alarm clock and left her journal on the nightstand next to her bed.

He was sorely tempted to fly in there and take the journal — not to keep it — just long enough to make some alterations to it.

Why had he agreed to tell her? Now she was upset and she was going to wake up and start each day, upset.

And if she hadn't had amnesia would she wake up each morning any happier? — his mind berated him.

It was true. It was his fault she was upset — lost memory or not.

He withdrew his vision from her apartment and shoved his hands in his pockets, choosing to walk home rather than fly.

He was going to have a difficult time getting to sleep tonight.


Lois was walking hand in hand with Clark. The air was crisp and a light breeze was blowing, causing a shiver to run through her.

Clark put his arm around her. "Chilly?"

"No." She shook her head, but when he tried to pull his arm away, she snuggled in closer. He was so warm. Clark was always warm. She remembered a time not too long ago that he had given her his coat to keep her warm. It had been bitter cold out and she had protested that he would freeze. But he had insisted, and he had seemed to manage just fine. Now she understood why.

They walked a few more paces through the beautiful scenery of Centennial Park. It seemed like Clark was leading them towards the fountain in the center of the park. It was one of the few places in Metropolis where you could see an unobstructed view of the night sky. But not tonight. When Lois looked up hoping to catch a glimpse of some twinkling lights, she saw instead a blanket of darkness. She couldn't even seem to locate the moon. It looked like a storm might be coming.

As the fountain came into view, Clark gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Lois, I've been thinking."

He had been thinking? She wondered what about. She knew what she had been thinking about — how was she going to tell him that she knew? Or was she even going to tell him? Maybe she would try to get him to reveal it himself. "Me too."

"What about?"

No. The time wasn't right. Plus, she wanted to see what was on his mind. "You first."

"Okay." Was she imagining it or had there been just a little tremor in his voice? Was he nervous?

They were almost to the fountain. Lois could hear the gentle splashing of the water as it trickled down the platforms into the basin below.

She heard a soft sigh escape from Clark's lips before he began speaking again. "Sometimes you think you're immortal and you start to think the people around you are, too." The tenderness in his eyes was almost tangible. "It just takes a second to realize how wrong you are about everything…" He went silent for just a moment before continuing, "What I'm trying to say, Lois, is, I almost lost you. And I feel… ashamed."

"Ashamed? Why?" He better not tell her that he was ashamed for having to accept her help, or something else equally as ridiculous. She'd put a stop to that nonsense right here and now.

"I kept pushing you away even when I promised I'd stop. If you died without ever knowing why, I'd never be able to forgive myself. Because I love you."

Oh god. He had said it. He loved her. The anticipation in his face made her want to tell him she knew his secret. It made her want to throw herself into his arms and forget the rest of the world. But she didn't. She restrained herself… mostly. Her hand came out and she affectionately smoothed that rebellious strand of hair from his forehead. It was so hard not to touch him further. He was worried about her dying without knowing the truth? She could have died right then and there from the way he looked in his all black ensemble. She wanted to touch him everywhere, all at once.

She didn't return the words, though. She didn't need to. He already knew. She had told Superman that if anything happened to tell Clark that she loved him.

So she waited — almost patiently — because she could tell he had more he wanted to say. He placed his hands on her shoulders and ran them down her arms until finally taking her hands in his, and then he led her over to the fountain.

The look in his eyes amazed her. They held a fear that she had never seen before. No, wait, she had seen it, but she couldn't place when or where she had seen it before.

But beyond that fear, there was joy, excitement… and hope. She could definitely see the sparkle of hope in his eyes. What was he about to tell her? Was he going to reveal his secret to her?

Butterflies took flight inside her. He was! This was important. Is that why his eyes held fear? Was he afraid of what she would think when he told her? Part of her wanted to tell him not to be afraid, but part of her — a very small part — whispered in the back of her mind, 'Yes, Clark, be afraid. Be very afraid, because you've got a lot of explaining to do.'

Through his hands and body movements, Clark urged her to sit down next to the fountain. She indulged him and sat down, watching in fascination as he seemed to try and gather his thoughts. She felt like the sole spectator of a play written especially for her.

He really was going to do this! He was going to tell her.

Her stomach knotted up as she watched him open his mouth and then there was a loud crash of thunder overhead, accompanied by a bright flash of lightning that illuminated Clark's face.

A couple of raindrops hit his glasses about the same time she felt one tickle her skin as it ran down her cheek.

She fought to contain a frown. She had been right about the storm. What terrible timing!

Clark let out a frustrated almost-chuckle and looked up at the sky. "Come on!" he shouted at the powers that be. "Gimme a break."

Lois couldn't repress a giggle. "You wanna go back?" Please say no. Please, god. If he didn't tell her now, would he ever work up the nerve again?

"If the earth opened up at my feet, I wouldn't move until I'd said this." He flashed her a smile that held more confidence in it than she had expected to see. She watched in shocked fascination as he knelt down in front of her.

Wait a minute! Wait just one minute. Since when do you need to kneel down on one knee to tell someone a secret? Perhaps he didn't want to seem like he was looming over her when he told her? Or…

Oh… he wouldn't! Would he?

And then she realized when she had seen that look of fear in his eyes before. It was a fear of rejection. She had seen it in his face when he had confessed his love to her to try and keep her from marrying Lex.

Lois felt a little lightheaded and dizzy. She was cold and shivering, soft raindrops pelting her face and dampening her hair. But when Clark said her name his voice pierced through her soul like molten lava. "Lois…"

This couldn't be happening!

She watched, her anticipation growing, as he reached inside his jacket pocket to withdraw a small, black box. Oh… my… god. He was! He was going to propose to her.

Her mind swam. No. No, she wasn't ready for this. This isn't what she had been expecting at all. She still hadn't come to grips with the fact that her partner and her best friend — the person she cared the most about in the entire world — had been lying to her and had been moonlighting as a superhero the entire time she had known him.

She looked down at the box, watching as he slowly opened it. No. Please, Clark. She loved him but she wasn't ready for this.

The sparkle of the diamond flashed brightly against the darkness surrounding her. No.

"Will you marry me?"

She peered through the rain into Clark's face; she could barely see his eyes through the water droplets covering his glasses. But it didn't matter. He couldn't hide behind those glasses, not tonight, not anymore.

Lois's eyes flew open.

Clark is Superman.

She knew that was true. But what about the dream? Was it a dream? Had Clark really proposed to her? Of course not. It was only a dream.

But it seemed so real…

She glanced over at her alarm clock. She couldn't read the time — something was covering the display. She reached over and turned her lamp on so she could see what it was.

A note?


Clark glanced down at his watch as he walked up the stairs inside Lois's apartment building. Superman had been busy, already that morning, but he still had plenty of time to check on Lois and get to the Planet on time for work. Chances were she didn't want to see him this morning.

But he had to see her.

He walked up to her door and raised his hand, holding it poised to knock on her door. But he didn't knock.

What state of mind was she going to be in this morning? Had she read her journal yet? He closed his eyes briefly, exhaling a soft sigh. There was more than one way to find out. For a split second his hand rose to his glasses. Just as quickly he brought his hand back down.

He knocked on the door and stood there, for what seemed like an eternity. Oh, how he wished she would greet him this morning how she had greeted him yesterday morning. But he was pretty sure he had ruined any chance of that happening.

Just as he was getting ready to knock again, he heard her unfastening the locks on the door. She undid all the locks except the chain. The door came open as far as the chain would allow and Lois peered out at him. Her eyes wouldn't meet his and he felt his hopes sink.

"Just go on to work, Clark. I don't want to talk to you right now."


Why didn't she want to talk to him? If she didn't want him around right now, that was fine, but he had to know why. Was it because of her journal? Or because she remembered something?

"Do you rememb…"

"No. I don't remember," she snapped. "I read my journal." She shut the door and he could hear her refastening the locks. He sighed wearily and turned around to leave.

It was going to be a long day.


Lois leaned her head against the door and let out a shaky breath. Had she really needed to be that mean to him? The look on his face had almost softened her… almost.

And the way he'd looked in that black shirt. Oh god. Almost as good as the night he'd proposed to her. That alone had almost kept her from shutting the door in his face. Damn, the man looked good in black.

Wait a minute…

Her mind flashed back to her dream. She could see the clothes he was wearing — all black. Black slacks, black shirt. He looked so…

"Clark! Wait!" She disengaged the locks again, even the chain this time, and threw the door open.

He hadn't gone far. "What is it, Lois?" His voice sounded weary and hurt. "I'm gonna be late for work." He had stopped but didn't turn around to look at her.

He was upset but she refused to let it bother her. She had every right to be irritated with him. And if he even thought for a second about denying that fact, she'd remind him of it.

But it was her choice whether to talk to him or not — and right now she needed to talk to him.

"The night you proposed to me… were you wearing all black? Were you wearing the same black shirt you have on today?" She tried to keep the excitement out of her voice but, in doing so, her voice ended up coming off sounding needy and a little unstable.

"What?" he asked, turning to face her, his face confused.

"Just answer the question," she snipped. "Was I wearing a dark shirt, tan slacks and boots? And you were wearing all black?"

His eyes grew wide. "You remembered that?" Clark felt a jolt of giddiness flow through him. He had given her a lot of details last night about his proposal, but he hadn't told her that. He hadn't described what they had been wearing. He looked down at his shirt — it was the same one.

She nodded at him. "Yeah. I remembered, I guess. I dreamt about it last night."

"That's wonderful!" He reached out to touch her but pulled back at the last second, trying awkwardly to figure out what to do with his hands. He settled for crossing his arms in front of him. "So more things are coming back to you. Do you remember anything else?"

"No. Just that. I remember walking with you through Centennial Park and seeing you kneel down in front of me. I remember you opening the ring box and asking me to marry you." The beginning of a smile was trying to stretch across her face. "You know when you stand like that, you look like you should be in your *suit*." The almost smile broadened.

Clark looked down at his arms folded across his chest and smiled back at her, letting them unfold and hang loosely at his sides. "But that's encouraging. I was afraid your dream and memory of me reviving you yesterday had just been a fluke. That drug Dr. Peterson prescribed must be working."

"I guess. It's a shame I can't forget it again now, though." She paused before continuing, "All of it. Maybe not knowing wouldn't hurt as bad," she mused, her voice raw and quiet.

He wanted to tell her that he had thought that same thing last night. He had tried to get her to just forget what had happened. But it wouldn't do any good to say that now. It would only make her mad. Besides, if he knew Lois — and he did — she didn't really mean it. She would want to know the truth of what had happened, no matter how bad it hurt.

What she really wanted was an apology.

So that's what he would give her. He would give her one every day — every time she woke up and remembered what had happened. Until she could find it in her heart to forgive him.

"Lois, I'm sorry. I thought I was doing what was best for you. Surely you know that…"

"No. I don't know that," she interrupted him caustically. "Unfortunately your pig-headedness got in the way and didn't allow us to explore any other options. And I'm sorry to say this right now, but I'm not really interested in exploring any other options…" she paused before she said the next two words, but she was mad, so she didn't stop herself. She went ahead and said them — just to hurt him, "… with *you*."

She could tell from the look on his face that her words had triggered the desired effect — to her distress though, she realized it didn't make her feel any better. It actually made her feel worse.

But the stubborn streak in her wouldn't let her back down now. He had hurt her and now she was going to let him see how it felt. She was going to look forward to her date with Dan Scardino tonight. Let Clark find out what it was going to feel like to see her with someone else. After all, surely he didn't expect her to become a nun and join a convent? Had he thought about how he would feel when she moved on?

Maybe it was time he learned.

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get ready for my doctor's appointment." She began to slowly shut the door between them as she continued, "And I still need to tidy up my house before I come in to work since Dan is coming by tonight."


Lois sat up on the table with a little help from Dr. Peterson.

"Are you okay?" he asked, his voice tinged with concern.

"Uh, yeah. I think so. What happened?"

"You passed out. I turned around to write some notes down in your chart and you collapsed. I just finished checking your vitals, everything read within normal limits. Have you been under any emotional stress this morning?"

Emotional stress. Yeah, she would call it that. "You mean other than waking up to find out I've lost my mind?" she asked, her voice laced with sarcasm.

The doctor smiled pleasantly at her. "I think you might want to consider having someone pick you up. My assistant can make the call for you if you'd like. Mr. Kent, perhaps?"

Lois barely heard him. She was still trying to remember what had happened. She had passed out? That just didn't seem like her. She wasn't weak-kneed like that.

Yet the proof was there, in her own mind. She remembered sitting there listening to the doctor and then… nothing. Lois tried to shake her head a little to clear the haze that was still there. She still felt a little fuzzy but other than that she seemed to be okay now. "No. No, I'll be fine."

"You're probably just tired. With a concussion a person's body needs a lot of rest to heal itself. Did you stay up late last night?"

She smiled weakly at him. "Uh, doctor, I think you're asking the wrong person here. I'm the one who can't remember anything, remember?" She put her feet down on the floor and tried tentatively to stand up. Her legs felt pretty sturdy — so far, so good. "But I did wake up this morning feeling pretty tired."

"Yes, well that's just part of having a concussion. It just takes the body a while to get back up to speed. Still, I'm not sure you should be driving in this condition." Dr. Peterson moved to open the door. "Why don't I have my assistant call…"

"A cab. Tell her to call me a cab. I'll come back for my car later."


Clark looked up for the sixth time in five minutes when he heard the elevator door ping.

It was Karl from Travel.

He looked back down at his watch. Judging by the time her appointment had taken yesterday, Lois should be arriving any moment. Although, since more of her memory had come back, maybe the doctor had decided to do some further testing this morning?

Clark smiled sadly at the thought of the memory that had come back to her last night. Both memories she had recalled had been about him, about them. Of the memories she had lost were these the most important ones to her?

Or maybe they were just the ones with the strongest emotional attachment and that's why she had remembered them first.

Or maybe it was just random. But it did seem encouraging that they went in chronological order. Maybe the memories would come back to her gradually, starting with the oldest memories first?

He looked back down at his computer screen in front of him, only to hear the elevator door ping again.

Still not Lois.

A phone ringing caught his attention. It was Lois's phone. Clark walked over to her desk and picked up the line. Since they were working on the STAR Labs story together, someone might be calling her with information — hopefully Dr. Klein.

"Daily Planet, Clark Kent."


It was Dan Scardino. Clark rolled his eyes. "Scardino," he greeted him abrasively.

"Sorry. I thought this was Lois's number."

Clark bit his tongue. "It is. She's… not here at the moment. Is there something I can help you with?" Yeah, like taking a message that Scardino was sorry but he needed to cancel his dinner plans with Lois tonight…

"Uh, no," he said flatly. "Unless…" His voice had taken on a mocking tone, "You can tell me what kind of wine it is that she likes. See ya around, Kent." And then all Clark heard was dial tone.

"Perfect," he growled. Lois was infuriated at him and she was having dinner tonight with the competition. A dinner with wine. Should she even be drinking given her current mental state? Was Scardino low enough to take advantage of the situation?

"Clark, where are you and Lois at on the break-in at STAR Labs?"

Clark jerked his head up, startled. He hadn't heard Perry walk up. Perry was frowning at him, holding a template of the afternoon edition in his hands — it had a big blank spot on page one.

"Well we know the drug that was stolen was the same drug the DEA was trying to link to Intergang," Clark responded as he tried to collect his thoughts. "It was code-named Project Nirvana. Dr. Klein confirmed that for us. But, unfortunately, we aren't far enough along to write anything up. Dr. Klein was supposed to get back to us with more detailed information, but we haven't been able to get in touch with him yet." Clark glanced down at his message pad. Dr. Klein had actually tried to call him first thing that morning, but he hadn't been here… Superman had been called away on an emergency. Clark sighed. Figures.

"Clark, you know I trust your instincts on this one, yours and Lois's. And I know you've got a lot on your plate right now with Lois, but I can't continue to distract the publishers with smoke and mirrors for much longer." Perry looked down at the template in his hands, a grimace on his face. It was going to take some fancy two-stepping to keep the 'suits' off their backs for another day. "I can give you one more day but you two have got to get me a headliner."

"I will, Chief. I'll keep trying Dr. Klein if it takes me all morning to get through to him." He needed to give Perry something, some hope, to tide him over until he and Lois could find something more concrete. "Lois has an interview scheduled with Dan Scardino, remember him?"

"Wasn't he the agent who helped work on Mayson Drake's death?"

Clark winced imperceptibly. Mayson… another woman with whom he had been too careless. If only he had moved a little faster. Gotten there a little quicker…

"Yeah, but he was also the DEA agent working on the Project Nirvana case. Oh, and get this, I talked to Inspector Henderson earlier this morning, and someone had disengaged the security camera in the room that was broken into at STAR Labs. They're in the process of checking other cameras in the building to see if any of them picked up anything."

"Well keep at it, Clark. Let me know what you find out from Dr. Klein and that DEA agent."

Clark nodded at him as he picked up his receiver. Come on, Dr. Klein, he thought. Be there.


Lois waited impatiently on the curb outside the doctor's office. There were a million cabs in this city, had the assistant called her one from the other side of town?

She opened her purse and pulled out her phone, just about ready to call the cab company herself and give them a piece of her mind, when she saw a taxi coming down the road. She watched as it pulled into the driveway of the clinic.

Well it's about time!

She hardly gave the man time to stop before jerking the door open and crawling inside.

"Where to, lady?" the unshaven, ball-cap sporting cabbie asked Lois. He looked like he hadn't showered in days and the smell in his cab wasn't exactly reassuring either.

"Metropolis Prison." A flash of inspiration had hit her back inside Dr. Peterson's office. She was willing to bet that there was at least one other person besides Dan or Dr. Klein that had information about Project Nirvana. And at least with him she knew she didn't need an appointment.

It was just a matter of getting him to talk.



"Hello, Dr. Klein. It's Clark Kent. Lois Lane and I spoke with you a couple of days ago…"

"You did?" the doctor's voice sounded a little confused.

"Uh, yeah, remember… Project Nirvana?" Clark shifted the receiver to his other ear so he could grab his notes from the other side of his desk.

"Oh. Oh, yes, of course. Sorry, I've been really busy…"

"Yeah. I know." He didn't need Dr. Klein to tell him that. "That day we were in your lab, you were about to tell us more about the drug."


Clark waited but got no further response. "Well…?"

"Oh! Now? No, I don't think that would be a good idea. Better to meet me in person. Can you meet me at the lab tonight? Say six o'clock?"

Clark grimaced, exactly when Lois was supposed to have dinner with Dan. He had wanted the opportunity to be "available" during that time frame, so that maybe he could swing by and check on things… okay, spy on them. He shook his head at himself.

Then an idea hit him that brought a slow smile to his face. Maybe he could convince Lois to cancel her dinner and interview Dr. Klein with him instead.

"Six o'clock would be perfect. Thanks, Dr. Klein."


Lois sat behind the little glass pane, staring at the telephone receiver next to her on the wall of the cubicle. She probably should have called Clark to tell him where she was going.

But why? What was he? Her nursemaid? He certainly wasn't her boyfriend. So why call him?

Because he's your partner… and your friend, her mind berated her.

Well it was too late now. The guards had confiscated her purse — and therefore her cell phone along with it — before admitting her to the visitation area. So she couldn't call him now… besides, she'd head straight to the Planet after she got finished here.

She turned her attention back to the glass in front of her. What exactly was she going to ask him when she saw him?

The door on the other side of the glass opened, and Bill Church, Jr. swaggered in through it.

His eyebrows went up in surprise when he saw who was there to visit him and he flashed her a smug smile as he pulled out the chair to sit down.

They both picked up their receivers and he was the first one to speak. "Well, Ms. Lane, what a surprise. What brings you to my humble little abode?"

"Project Nirvana."

If her knowledge about it surprised him, he wasn't letting it show.

"What about it?" he chuffed. "You do know that no connection has ever been made on that one to Intergang."

"And *you* know that's only a matter of time. Here's your chance to get the facts straight," she persuaded.

"What facts? Why should I tell you anything? Give a little, get a little, Ms. Lane."

That phrase seemed oddly familiar… like she had said it recently. The thought was there, just out of her reach. She shook off the feeling and sighed in frustration before answering him. "After the arrest of Knox, the remaining samples of the drug were sent to STAR Labs for testing, and I'm just guessing here, but probably for experimentation, too."

"No doubt. I'm sure the government would love to discover how to manufacture a drug like that… unofficially, of course."

"Of course," she agreed. She was certain there were people, or entire groups, that the CIA, FBI, or NIA were just dying to brainwash.

"But what does this have to do with me?"

"The drug was stolen from STAR Labs two nights ago, along with the research notes."

"Really…" he said with feigned disinterest, "and you're telling me this because…?"

"Cut the crap, Church, who is helping you?"

"Helping me? I had nothing to do with that break-in." He lifted an appraising eyebrow at her. "I am in prison, you know."

"I never said that you did." She grinned at him — she had his interest now. "I think someone is about to set you up. So who else knew about Project Nirvana?"

For several seconds he sat frozen, his eyes looking past her as he considered her words. Then Bill Jr. swore under his breath and rose from the table, turning his back to her. His hands clenched and unclenched and then he turned back around. When he sat down again, his face had lost every trace of its former polite disinterest. "She double-crossed me. She's fooled everyone," he said softly.

Lois wracked her brain. She? There was a 'she' behind Intergang? Then she remembered the article about Bill Church, Sr., getting remarried. Lois had even seen *her*, just this morning on a chat show while she was in the doctor's office waiting room. What was her name? Cindy? Mindy? Whatever it was, the vapid blonde on-screen had simply made her snort at the vanity of men like Bill Church who thought they could turn back time with a trophy wife.

"She who? Your father's new wife?"

"She's not the brainless 'Little Miss Innocent' that she claims to be, Ms. Lane. Don't let her fool you. If someone's stolen that drug, you can bet that Mindy's involved."

Lois smirked. "That was a pretty abrupt change of heart. Just why are you so willing to share this information with me?" she asked him, feeling suspicious of his sudden charity.

"Why? Because it's Mindy's fault that I'm in here to begin with, double-crossing little tramp!"

"Oh," was all Lois managed to say. She remembered reading something about Bill Jr. having sworn it was Mindy behind not only the attempted bombing of the art museum, but also the attempt on Lois's life — whatever that had been about.

Was there anyone who wasn't out to get her?

She pulled her mind away from that depressing thought and back to Mindy Church. This could definitely be the break they had been looking for in the story! If she could tie this back to Mindy Church and further tie her back to Intergang…

She could practically smell the Pulitzer now!


Clark checked his watch again. Lois still wasn't back yet and he was getting worried. He had called the doctor's office and they had told him that she had left over an hour ago in a cab.

He had tried calling her cell phone but she wasn't answering. He strode purposefully up the ramp to the elevators and reached out to press the down arrow.

So where was she?

His mind immediately jumped to conclusions. What if she was being held hostage by some criminal mastermind? What if she was hurt? What if she was lying unconscious somewhere in a gutter? Images flashed through his mind of lifting her unconscious body up into his arms and flying her to the hospital.

He had known that she wasn't dead, even before the doctor had explained that she had a concussion, but that hadn't made him feel any better.

And these thoughts weren't making him feel any better now…

Impatiently shifting his weight from one foot to the other, he stood almost plastered to the outside of the elevator doors. In fact, he was standing so close to the doors that when they opened Lois plowed right into him.

"Mmmpf," she exclaimed, bouncing off of him like a pinball. He reached out and steadied her before she could fall.

His body perked at the contact of her body against him. She was here and she was safe. The anxiety that had been building inside him slowly ebbed away. Oh god, he wanted to throw his arms around her and hug her tightly to him.

Not that she would have let him do that.

"Lois! Are you okay? Where have you been?"

She could hear the concern in his voice and her heart lurched, making her feel just the tiniest bit guilty. She held onto him a little tighter even though she had regained her balance. It wouldn't take much for her to embrace him. Part of her just wanted to wrap her arms around him and shut out the rest of the world.

But he wouldn't have let her. And she certainly wasn't going to give him the pleasure of turning her down, again.

"Interviewing Bill Church, Jr.," she answered, trying to focus on the story so that she didn't have to think about things that would only upset her.

"In prison?" Clark asked, letting go of her.

She made sure to hide her disappointment at the loss of his touch. "No," she rolled her eyes, "at his summer home in the Hamptons. Yes, in prison."

"Why didn't you call me? I could have gone with you." His face looked hurt and the ache in his voice broke through the barrier to her heart, causing her to briefly wonder exactly why she really hadn't called him.

Because you're mad at him, she reminded herself. Focus.

"I'm perfectly capable of tracking down some leads on my own, thank you very much. I'm an amnesiac, not a five-year-old," she scolded him.

"I know that," Clark said a little sharply. He strained to control his voice. He knew she was still upset with him, but couldn't she see how worried he had been? Didn't she care? He continued on softer, letting a little of the hurt creep into his voice, "But when I called the doctor's office to check on you they told me that they'd had to call you a cab. I would have picked you up if you had only called."

Lois steeled her heart against the pain in his voice. Not this time. She wouldn't be feeling this way or treating him this way if he hadn't abandoned her to begin with. How could he expect her to lean on him now when he had deserted her like that before? Was he really that dense?

She waved him away and started heading towards her desk. "Clark, I'm not going to call you up every time I have some eensy weensy little problem — after all, you're not my boyfriend." She turned and eyed him pointedly.

"I'm your partner," he chastised her. "And hopefully I'm still your friend. And your doctor told me to look out for you."

There was that whole 'friend' thing again. He couldn't be engaged to her, married to her, but it was okay to be friends with her?

Yes, he apparently really was that dense and in more ways than one.

"Well, I'm doing better. The doctor seemed pretty encouraged at my progress." She purposefully left out the 'passing out in the doctor's office' part, not feeling like listening to a lecture from Clark or being fussed over by him. "But anyway, enough about that. I don't want to talk about *that* anymore. What I do want to talk about is Mindy Church."

Clark *did* want to talk more about things. He kept trying to look for an opening, watch for an opportunity to tell her that he had been wrong not to discuss his decision with her. That he was ready to hear what she had to say.

That he was willing to concede that he might have been wrong.

But that opening, that opportunity, wasn't now. He wasn't going to get anywhere with her in her current frame of mind so he let it go… for now. "Mindy Church? As in Bill Sr.'s new ditzy, blonde wife?"

"Uh-huh. According to Bill Jr., she may have gotten her hands on information about Project Nirvana."

Clark knew immediately where Lois's brain was headed with this… amnesia or not. "And you think she could possibly be the one behind the break-in at STAR Labs?" He paused for a moment and then shook his head, a broad smile breaking out on his face. "You're not serious, are you? Mindy? Are we remembering the same woman? Have you forgotten how…"

Lois gave him a stare that could pierce steel.

He ducked his head and gave her an embarrassed grimace. "Sorry, bad choice of words. Of course you don't remember her. Lois, believe me, Mindy is not the one behind this. She called Bill, Sr. her 'Hunky'." He rolled his eyes. "She's nothing more than a 'trophy wife' — the looks of a Barbie Doll with the depth to match."

She scowled at him. "Maybe your hormones are clouding your judgment. I haven't actually met her." The scowl deepened. "At least not, that I can remember, anyway. Maybe there's more to her than meets the eye," she argued, even though she had thought the exact same thing when she'd seen Mindy in that interview earlier. "She may not be as ditzy as everyone believes. Anyway, I think it would at least be worth the trip to interview her. I was going to see if she could meet us for a late lunch."

"Fine by me. We've gotta get moving on this story. Perry said he could only keep the publishers at bay for probably one more day before he had to either give them something or reassign us." Clark paused for a moment and ran a hand through his hair tentatively. "I also have dinner plans that might interest you."

Was he serious? Lois put her hand on her hip. "Dinner plans? Clark, don't start with me. Surely you remember that I'm having dinner with Dan tonight. I need to find out what he can tell me…"

"Dr. Klein agreed to meet with me at six tonight," he interrupted, "to enlighten us on what he was about to tell us the other day."

He could see the sparkle of interest in her eyes — but obviously it wasn't enough because she began shaking her head from side to side. "Nope. Sometimes partners have to work together and sometimes, for the greater good, they have to split up." She gave him a pointed look. "Especially if we've only got one more day to get something for Perry. I'll interview Dan, you interview Dr. Klein and we can meet up tomorrow and compare notes."

He didn't look happy.

The funny thing was, Lois didn't feel very happy, either. Isn't this what she had wanted to do? Hurt him? Make him realize that he was wrong? Show him what it would be like if she moved on without him?

No. That's not what she really wanted. What she really wanted was to be with him.

But she wasn't about to tell him that.

Before he could open his mouth to offer any alternatives she picked up her phone and began dialing. "If you'll excuse me, I'll see if I can get us a lunch date with Mrs. Church. I get the distinct feeling after talking to Bill, Jr. that she isn't the brainless blonde that she pretends to be."


"Oooh, Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent. I just love to read your paper," Mindy said enthusiastically after they had all exchanged greetings and sat down at the table.

Lois picked up a menu and glanced at it. Her stomach growled — everything looked good. But, first things first. "Oh? You read our articles?" She was surprised Mindy would admit to that if she was trying to pull off being a bombshell boob, which if Mindy's outfit was any indicator, that's exactly what she was going for. Lois tried her best to hide her feeling of revulsion at the skin-tight, low-cut dress Mindy had chosen to wear for their interview.

Really, did the woman have no pride? No shame?

<The looks of a Barbie doll with the depth to match…>

Lois risked a glance over at Clark to see what he was looking at… Mindy's face. His eyes appeared to be glued to Mindy's, not allowing his vision to drift even a millimeter lower.


Good? Was she honestly even thinking of feeling jealous over Clark? Better yet, over Mindy? Yes, yes she was. She sighed inwardly. Apparently Clark wasn't the only one who hadn't thought about what it would be like to see the person he loved move on. She hadn't thought about it either.

And she didn't want to think about it — especially not right now. She had more important things to focus on.

"No," Mindy said absently. "I don't really care for the news. But I do read the fashion articles and movie reviews."

Lois smirked. Hah, big surprise there… that is, if you took Mindy at face value.

Mindy took a little sip of her water through a straw and smiled brightly at Clark. "And I love the sale ads. They're so perky and shiny and you always have my favorite stores."

Ahh, yes. That was definitely more like Mindy, Lois thought, or more like the woman that Mindy *wanted* people to see.

"Mrs. Church," Clark said, catching Mindy's attention before Lois could say something insulting, "we came here to find out if you know anything about something your… uh… stepson…" Clark stammered. It took an extreme stretch of the imagination to think of Bill Jr. as her stepson, "…was working on, called Project Nirvana?"

"Project Nirvana? I thought maybe this was an interview about the new perfume fragrance I'm designing." She crinkled up her mouth into what she obviously deemed to be a cute little pout.

And it would have been a cute little pout — to um… the right interested party. Clark just happened to *not* be that party. He found Lois's pout much more persuasive. In fact, when Lois turned that look of hers on him, he was putty in her hands.

He wondered if she knew that?

He wondered if that's why he had left so abruptly the night he told her that they couldn't be together any longer.

Oh, it was true that there had been an emergency and Clark had been called away. But it hadn't been *that* big of an emergency. A drunk driver had run into a fire hydrant in the uptown commercial district; water had been shooting everywhere, flooding the street.

But hardly something that had required the assistance of Superman.

And yet he had flown there anyway. He had stopped the leak and assisted the police with the cleanup and removal of the wrecked vehicle.

Anything to have gotten him out of Lois's apartment.

He had already seen the look on her face, the tears in her eyes, when she had realized what he was telling her. The same tears he had seen in her eyes last night. If he hadn't left that night when he had, he might not have stood by his decision.

Would that have been such a bad thing?

But he had done it for her. Couldn't she see that? He had done it because he loved her too much to be the reason that she had been hurt.

The only problem was that, now, he was seeing things differently.

"Hmm, Project Nirvana?" Mindy said again, looking bewildered. "Isn't that like a rock band or something?"

"No, more like something a rock band might take," Lois mumbled, rolling her eyes. "Project Nirvana is a drug that we believe your husband and step-son were working on through Intergang with a company by the name of Omnicorp. Have you ever talked to or met a man named Charles Knox?"

"Intergang? I don't know anything about Intergang, Ms. Lane. I was as shocked as you were to learn that my sweet little Hunky could possibly be involved in anything criminal." Lois rolled her eyes — no *she* hadn't been surprised at all. Lois had been working for months trying to prove a connection between the Churches and Intergang.

Clark decided to try a different tactic. "There was a break-in two nights ago at STAR Labs, Mrs. Church. We're trying to track down anyone who may have known about Project Nirvana or who may have had connections to Intergang or Charles Knox. Has anyone called you, trying to contact your husband or Bill Jr.? Or asked you for any information?"

"No. But that's probably because they know I don't know anything. When the police arrested…" she broke off to let out a sniffle and dab a dainty hanky to the corner of one eye, "my husband, they couldn't find much of anything about Intergang. All the files, the computers, everything had disappeared, and anything that was left behind was confiscated by the police and locked up for the trial."

It seemed to Lois that Mindy got an almost wicked gleam in her eye before she continued, "It's a good thing that whoever cleaned everything out missed the one file about the bomb at the museum and 'Joe the Blow', otherwise the police might not have had enough to arrest…" she let out a small sob and drew her face into that *pout* again before continuing. "Little did I know I was married to the 'Devil Incarcerate.'"

"Devil Incarnate," Lois corrected her and then smirked — although incarcerate sort of worked in this case…

Mindy gave her a confused look. "Huh?"

"Never mind," Lois soothed. If Mindy really was a smart as Lois thought she might be, it had to be painful to act this dumb. But if so, it was a very good diversionary tactic.

Mindy sobbed again, blotting at her eyes and sniffling. She looked back up at Lois, looked over at Clark, and then back at Lois again. "Hey… are you guys still a *thing*? You looked so cute together at that museum party. I just knew you had to be a *thing*."

"Uh, no," Lois answered her, throwing an annoyed look over at Clark, "We're not a *thing*… anymore… It didn't really work out." Lois shook her head mentally — what was she doing telling this woman about her social life?

"Oh, that's too bad," Mindy told them, doing a good job of sounding sincere. "What happened? I mean, it's not like you found out he was the crime boss of Metropolis or something." More sniffles.

"I, uh," Lois stammered, feeling increasingly more uncomfortable about disclosing information from her private life to a complete stranger… especially with Clark sitting right here.

Clark… sitting right here…

"You'll have to ask him," Lois told her, jerking her thumb over towards Clark. "He's the one who broke it off." Lois didn't understand why she was doing this. It was ridiculous and she really needed to get Mindy back on track, but something inside her just needed some justification — even if it was from Mindy Church.

Mindy looked up at Clark expectantly and he could feel the color in his cheeks visibly deepening. "Um, Mrs. Church, back to the topic of Project Nirvana. If you think of anything or come across anything that might help us…" Clark wrote the Planet phone number down on a piece of paper and handed it to her. "Give us a call, okay?"

"Sure." She smiled suddenly at them, her tears apparently forgotten. She scooted her chair back and started to stand up.

"Are you leaving? We haven't even ordered yet." Lois eyed her suspiciously. Where had she decided she needed to go, all of the sudden?

"Oooh, all this talk about Bill and Intergang… I just don't have an appetite anymore. Besides, the two of you look like you could use a lunch alone. I'll call if I think of anything." Mindy reached out and gave Lois's hand a quick squeeze before applying her lips to Clark's cheek in an affectionate *smooch*. "Bye!" she called out happily as she walked away from their table.

Oh, great. Lunch alone with Clark.


Lois watched as Mindy made her way to the front of the restaurant and then out the front door.

She had better things to do than sit here and try to be pleasant with Clark over food that would end up giving her indigestion from the conversation. Lois grabbed her purse and stood up, never taking her eyes off of the retreating figure of Mindy Church, whom she could still see through the outside windows.

As she started to walk away from the table, Clark's hand reached out taking hold of her. She tried to ignore the tendrils of electricity that played through her hand at his touch, but it was difficult. "Where are you going?" he asked her, eyeing her suspiciously.

She pulled her hand free to rid herself of the distraction. "To the restroom. That conversation was enough to make me lose my lunch before I ate it."

"You wouldn't possibly be thinking of sneaking off to follow Mindy Church and ditching me here, would you?"

Lois sighed disgustedly. What, now he was a mind reader, too? No… Her chest tightened a little. No, he just knew her that well now — because she had made the mistake of letting him in. "Now what on Earth would give you that impression?" she snipped. As she walked off, she called out over her shoulder, "If you're coming then hurry up, I don't want to lose her."


Perry leaned back in his chair and steepled his hands in front of him. "So, let me get this straight, you think that Mindy Church is running Intergang now?"

Lois rolled her eyes at the sarcasm in his voice. "Yes. Don't you see? It makes perfect sense. With both Bills out of the way, who does that leave in a perfect position to take over Intergang?"

"There are plenty of other crime syndicates out there who would have leapt at that chance," Clark jumped in before Perry could respond, trying to reason with her. "Besides, Bill Sr. probably had men under him who would have moved up in the ranks and taken over things when he was arrested."

Lois was irked. Clark was arguing with her… in front of Perry. It wasn't bad enough that she felt like she had to prove herself to Perry due to a loss of memory, now she had to deal with Clark trying to undermine her. "No. If it were other criminals either inside or outside the organization that were trying to take over and run things, we would have heard something. None of my contacts on the streets, Bobby Bigmouth included, have heard anything about a hostile takeover… or *any* takeover, for that matter. Everything related to Intergang has been very quiet since the Churches' arrest." She paused, allowing a smirk to crawl across her face. "Or at least that's what I've been able to discern from my notes on the case and from what you've told me, Clark. Do you know something you've failed to bring to my attention?" She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at him.

She saw Perry look from her to Clark and give him a questioning glance. "Clark?"

"No. I don't. She's right. No one seems to know anything about what's happening with Intergang right now, but maybe that's because nothing's happening. Right now the Churches are in prison without bail, waiting for their trial. Do you think anyone is honestly going to make a bid for power before the fate of the Churches is decided for sure?"

"Yes, I do," Lois answered him. "I think Mindy would — and I think she has. Whatever she's up to has something to do with keeping Bill Jr. and her husband locked away for good. When I talked to Bill Jr. at the prison, he said that it was Mindy's fault that he had been locked up to begin with. I think maybe she set them up or helped someone set them up."

Clark frowned at her. "I don't think we should trust Bill Jr. He's given us no reason to trust him. And I think you're reaching."

"Yeah? Well, I think you're blind!" she huffed. Perry looked surprised at the intensity of her words, but she was too irritated with Clark to care. "Where did Mindy go when we followed her? Straight to Costmart, that's where!"

"She owns the store!" Clark countered.

"So. You've seen what the woman wears. She might own it, but she doesn't shop there," she retorted. "Then we lost her when we went inside. It's like she vanished." Lois turned to address Perry, "And Mr. Boy Scout here wouldn't let me pick a couple of little locks to see if I could sneak inside the restricted areas. I think the reason we lost Mindy is because she went down inside that underground bunker — the one that Bill Church and his son ran Intergang from. The one where they were holding you captive."

Lois had asked Clark to use his x-ray vision to see where Mindy had gone, but Clark had told her that everything below Costmart was lined with lead. So Superman hadn't been any help. But she could have been — if Clark just would have just left her alone to her own devices. He could be so infuriatingly protective sometimes. And at the wrong moments.

"Chief," Clark broke in, "all I told her was that before we attempted breaking and entering, maybe we should go back to the prison and talk to Bill Jr. again. See if was willing to share any more information with us about Mindy. I'm still not sure we can trust him, but I am interested to hear what he has to say."

Perry had been sitting there in silence, looking back and forth from one reporter to the other, waiting for them to finish — like a parent waiting to hear both kids' side of the story. "Look, it's obvious to me that things are *strained* between you two right now, and that's understandable with what…"

"Chief, it's not like that, you don't…"

"Lois, don't interrupt. I think we've gone about as far as we can go with this thing today. Clark, didn't you say you had a meeting with Dr. Klein later tonight?" Clark nodded silently.

"And you have a meeting with Agent Scardino?" Perry continued, looking at Lois. She nodded, biting down on her lip so as not to correct him — something in her desperately wanted to blurt out the word 'date'.

Perry gave them something that resembled a strangled attempt at a smile. "Then let's wait and discuss this further tomorrow morning, after you've gathered more information. And I think Clark is right, Lois, I think the two of you should go back and talk to Bill Jr. — but not today. Tomorrow. First thing. I think with the level of stress everyone's dealing with that the two of you should call it a day… uh, for today." He paused for a moment and then added for emphasis, "Okay?" It wasn't a question.

"Fine by me, Perry," Lois said, turning around to walk out of his office. "I'll see you in the morning."

"Thanks, Chief," Clark told him and then turned to chase after Lois. He caught up to her as she reached her desk. She angrily snatched up her purse and then threw her coat across one arm before turning in the direction of the elevators.

"Lois, wait. Where are you going?"


Clark stopped short. Home? Really? "You're going home?" he asked in disbelief. Not off to talk to Bobby Bigmouth, or to the jail to see if she could get in to see Bill again, but home.

"Yes. Home. Perhaps you've forgotten, but I have a *date* tonight." She reached out and pushed the button for the elevator.

Clark looked down at his watch — it was just a little after four o'clock. Her *date* — ugh — wasn't until six. "Yeah, but Dan's not coming by to get you until six. What are you going to do until then?" As he spoke he closed in on her, standing so close to her that he could feel the heat coming off her body.

The close proximity of his body was sending mixed signals to her brain. No. No, she was mad at him. She was mad and she was going to make him pay. Isn't that what she had decided earlier?

She took a step away from him. "Not that it's any of your business, but I need time to get ready."


"Yeah, you know, for my date. I have to wash my hair, shave my legs, paint my toenails… oh and then there's my eyelashes — I probably should curl them since Dan made that comment about them being pretty. Then again, after all that effort, I might not feel like going out at all. Maybe we'll stay in and I'll make him something. *He* loves my cooking, you know…" The elevator opened and she stepped inside. "Goodnight, Clark. Have fun on your date with Dr. Klein."

Then the elevator doors closed and Clark was left standing there to contemplate the jealousy that was flaring up inside him.

What did she mean she had to shave her legs?


Lois had known that Dan had said he was just going to meet her at her apartment at six and then they would go somewhere else from there, but, wanting to irritate Clark just a little further, she had gone ahead and made dinner for Dan. After all, he had seemed pretty pleased with her rumaki. She had decided that maybe she wasn't such a bad cook after all.

Or maybe not.

She looked with dismay at the mess that had once been her clean kitchen countertop and range. All she had to show for her efforts were boiled over liquids and the burned crisps of something that had once been edible. Her entire apartment had the horrid burnt stench of dinner gone terribly, terribly wrong.

It was at this moment that Dan chose to ring her doorbell.

"Just a minute!" Lois sighed in frustration as she looked at the wreck in her kitchen. She made her way to the front door and stopped in front of the mirror just long enough to ensure that she didn't have any of the mess on her or her clothes.

She didn't. Her kitchen may have been a wreck, but she looked great — except for the diminishing bump and cut that still adorned her forehead. Oh well, nothing she could do about that. She had touched it up with make-up as best she could.

She gave her hair one last fluff before she opened the door — just a crack. "Hi, Dan! I'm sorry, but you can't come in. Trust me — it looks like a war zone in here."

"I'm sure it's not that bad. Besides I'll hardly even notice. It's not like I came here to look at your apartment." He let out a low whistle. "I really like the haircut. I didn't think anything could make your eyes more lovely. I was wrong."

"Thanks." Despite everything, she felt a blush creep into her cheeks. Get a grip, Lois. You are not interested in Dan. You dumped him, remember? You are just doing this to get back at Clark… oh, and to get some information on Project Nirvana. "Okay, well, don't say I didn't warn you." It wasn't like she was trying to impress him, anyway. Who cared if he saw her house in this messy state? She wasn't trying to date the guy. She flung the door open with reckless abandon and waited to see his horrified expression.

It didn't come.

"Now, I know I promised I wouldn't bring flowers, but…" One arm came out from behind his back and he handed her a package of imported Swiss chocolates. "…I never promised not to bring chocolate."

Lois was appalled. He *did* think this was a date!


"So, tell me, Lois, whatever happened to 'Mr. Smoldering Eyes'? You never did tell me on the phone yesterday."

"Um, well, it's complicated."

"When isn't it with you and him?"

She smiled uncomfortably at him and shrugged.

"Well, are you two still dating or not?" he brazenly asked her.

She sighed heavily. "At the moment… not."

"Great. Then I don't have to worry about 'Dad' dropping by to spy on us, now do I?"

She fidgeted awkwardly. "I think you're getting the wrong impression about tonight, Dan."

"Am I? Let's see. Currently you are not involved in a relationship with your former boyfriend — the one you dumped me for — and yet you called me up out of the blue to ask for my help. When I bribed you for dinner, you accepted, and from the looks of things you even tried to *cook* me dinner… which is really very sweet, definitely going the extra mile. Does that about sum things up?"

She nodded mutely at him — realizing just how things really did look from an outside perspective.

"Then I just can't imagine how you could possibly think I'm getting the wrong impression." He smiled lopsidedly at her.

She blushed again — and then chastised herself for letting him see her blush.

What was wrong with her?

Well it couldn't be that, because her best friend, partner, and superhero to the world had just rejected her, she was feeling a little neglected and needy and so was responding to this attention more fervently than it really deserved.

Could it?

God, that was it, wasn't it? She actually felt like she needed the attention of a man to validate herself. Since when did Lois Lane ever need anything from a man?

Since she had fallen in love with Clark Kent.

The ache in her heart made her angry and she forced the feeling down into the pit of her stomach. Clark was going to be sorry. She would make him sorry. If she knew Clark, he wouldn't just sit at home all night, brooding about her date with Dan. He would put in an appearance at some point, some innocent coincidence no doubt, but he would make sure Dan saw him, nonetheless.

And when he did…


Clark stood inside the security checkpoint waiting area to STAR Labs feeling a little disconcerted when the woman behind the glass wouldn't let him inside the facility.

She was the same woman who had been here the other day when he and Lois had come to interview Dr. Klein. All they'd had to do was show her their press badges and they had been let inside without question.

But this time she had asked him to wait while she got clearance to admit him.

Clark tipped his glasses down on his nose a little and scanned inside her booth. She was talking to someone on the phone. He relaxed his guard and let his hearing stretch out to intercept her words.

"Yes, Dr. Klein, it's that reporter from yesterday… No, he's here by himself… Yes, I'm sure it's the same guy… Should I send him… No? You want me to… Oh, okay, whatever you say, Dr. Klein."

The curls of her red hair bounced a little as she came back to the window and took a seat on her stool. "I'm sorry, Mr. Kent. Security has been tightened around here the past couple of days. Without direct authorization, I can't allow you inside the facility." Her face flushed a little, enough to cause her light freckles to darken. "Dr. Klein wouldn't give it to me. He asked me to have you wait out here."

The news irritated an already impatient Clark. He wanted to get this over with so he could use the information he obtained from Dr. Klein as an excuse to go intrude over at Lois's.

He cringed inwardly at himself. Clark Kent, what has become of you? Was he really that jealous of Dan that he couldn't stand for Lois to be alone with him for one evening?

Yes, he was. And, under the current circumstances, he had good reason to be.

His over-active imagination was taking him to places that he didn't want to go. He could practically see Dan sitting next to Lois on her loveseat, raising one arm to drape behind her. He could see Lois smiling prettily at him, batting her long, thick eyelashes — the ones Dan had commented on. Then Dan would lean in closer to her and they both would close their eyes…

That was ridiculous. Lois wouldn't… would she? No.

It was also repulsive and Clark didn't want to think about it anymore. But he just couldn't get the contrived imagery out of his head.

He sighed. He had to make up his mind. Lois wasn't going to allow him to teeter back and forth. They were either together or they weren't. And if they weren't, he was going to have to let her go.

And that wasn't something he was prepared to do, not now.


"Let's see if we can salvage any of this," Dan offered as he made his way into her kitchen.

"That's really sweet of you but, trust me, it can't be salvaged." She watched, holding her breath, as he stuck his finger in one of the pots and tasted it.

"A little heavy on the Cajun blackening," he told her, grinning widely.

She had forgotten how his smile could make her feel. It was infectious.

But not as intoxicating as Clark's smile. His smile made her weak like no other man ever had before.

She frowned. But Clark wasn't here tonight and apparently he didn't plan on ever being here again — not like this.

"It's okay, Dan, really. Don't give yourself food poisoning just to impress me. If you want to eat here, I can always call out for some Chinese to be delivered."

"How about that place I told you about that has the really good rumaki — the one that wasn't as good as yours… remember?"

Of course she remembered. She had mentioned that very thing to Clark just yesterday. She smiled at him. "Okay."

While Dan busied himself with calling in their order, Lois turned her attention to cleaning up the kitchen. If they were going to eat here, they at least needed a clean place to sit — and one that smelled a little less like a science experiment gone wrong.

"Here, let me help you with that," Dan said as he walked up behind her.

She was in the process of picking up various pots and pans and dishes. He reached out to take a stack of the dirty items from her and their hands brushed briefly.

Much to her surprise, it sent a little jolt through her. By the look on his face, it had done the same to him.

"Umm, I'll let you finish putting the dishes into the dishwasher," she instructed him, taking a few steps back. "I'll just grab a towel and see if I can get some of this food off the counter." She anxiously moved past him, headed for the drawer she kept her towels in.

But before she got past him, he had taken hold of her arm, stopping her from going any further.

"How serious did it get with you and Kent?"

"What do you mean?" she asked evasively.

"You know what I mean, Lois. I can see it in your face, when you look at me." His own face had taken on a very somber demeanor — one that she hadn't seen on Agent Dan Scardino's face very often, not unless he was dead serious about something. "There's guilt in your eyes when you smile at me. He really got to you, didn't he?"

Lois looked away from him, not wanting him to see her most private feelings on display.

Pull it together Lane.

"No, hmm mmh," she lied unconvincingly. "I just feel guilty about stringing you along on this 'almost' date just so I can get some info out of you about Project Nirvana."

"Project Nirvana? The drug that Knox was working with Intergang on?"

"Yeah. That's the one," Lois confirmed, glad to have steered the conversation in a different direction. "Apparently when your office pulled the plug on the drug, a sample of it was sent to STAR Labs. For what, I don't know, but I'm betting it had something to do with the government wanting to do some testing on it. Anyway, the research and samples that STAR Labs had were stolen last night."

"Are you kidding? Do the police have any leads or suspects?"

He was still holding her arm. Well, not so much holding as touching. And she couldn't find it in her to pull her arm away. "No, not yet. Clark and I have been doing some digging to try and piece together who might have stood to benefit from stealing it."

"Who? Just about any criminal with enough ambition, that's who. Lois, that drug is powerful… and dangerous. You thought you knew what I was involved in… but you didn't know the half of it." He shook his head and let out a long, slow breath. "That drug in the wrong hands…" He let go of her arm to pull his cell phone out of his pants pocket.

"Who are you calling?" she asked, unable to contain her curiosity.

"My office. They need to be informed of what's going on in Metropolis. I have a feeling that this might pre-empt my next assignment in Philly. Looks like you might be stuck with me a little longer."

Lois smirked to herself — oh, Clark was going to love that.


Clark was just about to give up on Dr. Klein, deciding that the doctor had gotten so absorbed in what he was working on that he had forgotten about him, and that was the precise moment that Clark could see him coming from the other side of the thick glass.

As Dr. Klein approached the door and reached out to open it, the glass from the doors behind Clark shattered violently — jagged pieces of it shooting out in all directions.

Clark, unable to change into Superman, dropped to the ground, ducking his head down between his knees and covering his head with his hands as if to protect himself.

Bullets flew by overhead, impacting harmlessly into the interior, bulletproof glass.

Clark could see Dr. Klein out of the corner of his eye. The older man had an absolute terrified look of horror on his face as he dropped down and stared at Clark through the glass.

The shooting stopped almost as soon as it had started and Clark could hear the squealing of tires as the vehicle sped away.

The door to the room was jerked open and Dr. Klein was there, bending over him and babbling nervously.

"Mr. Kent. I'm so sorry. Are you hurt? Were you shot? This is why I was being so careful. Clearly not careful enough. If I had known…"

"Dr. Klein, it's all right. I think I'm okay." Clark knew he was okay, but he at least gave the pretense of being concerned by sitting up and feeling himself and looking his clothes over for evidence that none of the bullets had chosen him as a target.

Luckily, none of them had. Clark looked back up at the glass. All the hits had been centralized in one basic spot — the area Dr. Klein had been standing in.

Dr. Klein was over at the security window checking on the now crying attendant behind the glass. Poor thing. She wasn't a security guard; she was just a receptionist. She wasn't prepared to deal with something like this.

"Mandy, are you okay?" Dr. Klein asked her worriedly.

"Y… yes, Dr. Klein, I think so. Who were those people? And why were they trying to shoot you?"

"Yes, why were they trying to shoot you?" Clark asked, eying the glass again.

"Mandy, call the police, and contact the board of directors, let them know what happened." Dr. Klein turned away from her and lowered his voice before continuing, "This is why I wanted to meet you after work. I think we have a mole somewhere here at STAR Labs."

"A mole?" Clark asked, surprised.

"Shhh," Dr. Klein shushed him, gesturing with his hand for him to lower his voice. "I know I probably come off seeming a little scatterbrained from time to time…"

Clark hid a smile.

"…but when it comes to things like formulas, my memory is impeccable. I can remember formulas like some people remember… oh, I don't know… telephone numbers…"

"Uh, Dr. Klein," Clark prompted him, wondering if there was a point to this.

"Huh? Oh, yes. Well, I'm personally the one who has been experimenting with the Project Nirvana drug over the past several weeks. It's one of several projects that I've been working on. It has a very interesting chemical makeup. There are some synthetic ingredients in it that are so intricate…"

Clark made a gesture of rolling his hand.

"Right, sorry," Dr. Klein apologized. "I had worked with it enough that I had committed its formula to memory. So when the research notes and samples were stolen, it wasn't a total disaster because I had everything up here." He pointed to his head. "I had been working on a reformulation of it all day long the day you were here. Uh, that was the reason I had to run out on you and Ms. Lane — forgot I had left a batch of it unattended. I finally got the formula perfected yesterday. But here's the weird thing, when I came in this morning, all my new notes and samples were gone — stolen again."

"Did you call the police?" Clark asked him. This was news to him — no one had said there had been any additional theft here.


"Why not?"

"Because shortly after I discovered the theft, someone called me. Someone who was speaking with a voice synthesizer, Mr. Kent. I was instructed not to report the theft and that I was to stop working on the Nirvana project… or else they would put a stop to me." Dr. Klein gulped visibly. "So you can see why I've been so hesitant to talk to you and why I had taken so many precautions."

Clark looked around at the mess on the floor. Obviously not enough. Someone wanted this drug to disappear pretty badly. And he was betting that whoever it was had connections to Intergang.

"I know you told us before that it was some form of mind control drug. How so? What does the drug do, exactly?"

"Just about anything you want it to. Have you ever heard of another Project — Project MKULTRA?"

Clark searched his memory. It sounded vaguely familiar, but he wasn't sure why. "I think I've heard of it but I don't remember what it was about."

"That's not surprising. What are you, Mr. Kent? About twenty-eight? Twenty-nine?" Clark nodded at him. "Project MKULTRA would have happened before you were even born. It was a pet-project of the CIA back in the fifties and early sixties."

"Let me guess. They were trying to figure out how to brainwash people?"

Dr. Klein nodded. "They experimented with LSD mainly, but also several other drugs and combinations of drugs in an effort to create a perfect truth serum or in other words, mind control drug. They would even combine those drugs with electronic signals sent into the brain or sometimes radiation."

Clark shivered involuntarily. "Were they successful?"

Dr. Klein shrugged his shoulders. "No one knows for sure. All the research, notes, and files were mysteriously destroyed several years later. It was rumored that they had finally developed a drug that could actually inhibit or control cognitive brain function. The only drawback, if I remember correctly, was that it required electric stimuli to initiate the response."

"They had to shock the subject before it would take effect?" Clark was horrified.

"Pretty much. It wasn't very realistic for implementation in anything outside of war. They couldn't exactly get away with going around drugging and shocking innocent civilians. But not so with Project Nirvana. Project Nirvana also affects cognitive brain function. It inhibits the conscious, decision-making capabilities of the brain, much like as if you had drank a little too much. It makes you highly susceptible to suggestion. And the stronger the dosage, the more control you have over someone."

"So how do you *activate* the Project Nirvana drug?" Clark pondered.

"From what we learned in the research notes we had that Omnicorp had conducted on it, there really isn't anything required to activate it — for small suggestions. For example, if it was being administered in small doses and you were simply going to expose someone to a little subliminal advertising."

"Like to get someone to buy your products. So that's why Bill Church was in on it — he could brainwash people to shop at Costmart."

"Yes, but that's not all. According to their research, if you tried to plant a more stringent suggestion in someone's mind, say something that would normally go against their basic moral code, or something contrary to the normal functioning of the brain, the mind would fight it. Higher doses of the drug had to be administered in those cases and also a "trigger word" had to be set up, like one would use in hypnosis. The trigger word would activate the programming, the subject would carry out their assignment and then they would wake up, oblivious to what had happened — at least while they were under the effects of the drug. There hadn't been any long term experiments conducted yet."

Clark nodded his head, understanding. The people involved with Intergang definitely would have had more nefarious designs for the drug. With the help of that drug, they would have had an unlimited source of mercenaries to carry out whatever purpose they deemed necessary to the organization. All they would have had to do was drug someone, plant a suggestion and a trigger word, and voila — instant assassin.

"Come on, Dr. Klein, I'm going to take you down to police headquarters. We need to get you somewhere safe for the night."

And once he had that little errand taken care of, he could go check on Lois.


"So what is it you see in Clark Kent that you didn't see in me?" Dan asked her, taking another drink from the wine glass she had offered him.

Dinner had been delicious, much better than anything she could have concocted. They had discussed what Dan could recall from memory about Project Nirvana. Lois had made detailed notes in her journal — managing not to reveal to Dan why she was writing everything down word for word. She wasn't sure why, but she just didn't want to talk to him about her memory problems right now.

Right now that seemed better off forgotten.

After telling her what he could remember he had said he would call the office secretary first thing in the morning and have her fax his notes to the Planet, so he and Lois could go over them…


She hid a sigh. That had been over a half an hour ago.

Dan had made himself at home on her couch and she had long since passed the point of politely being able to ask him when he was planning to leave. So, she had made the best of the situation by getting them both a glass of wine.

She had just begun to relax, both in part to the familiarity of talking with Dan but also due, in no small part, to the relaxing effect of the wine. His question snapped her back to full alert though.

What did she see in Clark?

How did he expect her to answer that question? She wasn't even sure how to answer that question. It wasn't like she could tell him that Clark was Superman. Although, in all fairness, she hadn't known that little tidbit when she had chosen Clark over Dan.

So why had she chosen Clark over Dan?

There were a lot of different reasons, but most of them were just "feelings" — not really anything she could put into actual words. But Dan was waiting… so she thought quickly.

"He has an innate goodness." On seeing Dan's uncomfortable body language she hastily amended her statement, "Not that you don't also possess a goodness. You do. It's just that… how do I explain this? Clark sees the world with such different eyes. He sees things with an almost innocent nature. He always looks for the good in people. You should have seen the way I treated him when I first met him and we started working together." She smiled at the memory — 'don't fall for me Farmboy — I don't have time for it'. "If he hadn't looked past the wall I projected…"

"I looked past that wall…" He reached out and touched her hand lightly.

That touch sent the butterflies fluttering again.

How ridiculous. Had she actually become so shallow that the sweet attentions of any man could threaten to send her into a diabetic coma?

She tried to compose herself before speaking. "Yes, you did," she admitted, extricating her hand. "But you also weren't willing to be honest with me."

"Neither was Kent."

She stared at him slack-jawed. "What do you mean by that?"

"Oh, come on, Lois. The guy was always running off to take care of some mysterious agenda. And he had the absolute worst, most unbelievable excuses I've ever heard. Don't tell me you bought any of those." He eyed her appraisingly. "Is that why you guys are on the outs, right now? You finally found out what he was hiding?"

The conversation was quickly finding her more and more uncomfortable. "I really don't think that's any of your business."

"You're right. It's not," he apologized, having the decency to look abashed. She made a motion to stand up from the couch and he stood up behind her, reaching out to stop her from leaving. "Please don't shut me out again, Lois. Please give me another chance. I can be the man you want. I know I can. I've thought about you every day since I left Metropolis, hoping for another chance at this."

His words were having the oddest effect on her. They seemed to be warming her from the inside out. She felt a little dizzy. What was wrong with her? She loved Clark, didn't she? But, yet, she *couldn't* love him, could she. She felt so confused. It had to be the wine… or maybe the fact that her brain was scrambled right now.

Dan moved in closer to her, so close that she could feel his breath on her skin. He placed a soft kiss next to her lips.

"Just one more chance, Lois. Please?"


Clark stopped in front of Lois's apartment door. Surely Scardino couldn't still be in there, could he?

After the incident at STAR Labs, Clark had gone with Dr. Klein down to the police precinct and had given the police a statement about the shooting.

Once the police found out the details from Dr. Klein about what had been happening there the past two days, they had given the doctor a police escort to his home and assured them they would have a patrol keeping an eye on things tonight.

Clark had decided Superman would go back by Dr. Klein's house later tonight to check on things and make sure he was okay.

Right now, though, he wanted to see Lois — but not if Scardino was still there. Clark looked down at his watch. It was late. Dan was probably gone and she was most likely getting ready for bed.

But just to make sure… Clark lowered his glasses and took a cautious peek through the front door. The sight that met his eyes flash-boiled his blood.

Scardino was standing behind Lois; he was leaning down close to her — too close. And then…

He kissed her! Son-of-a… The opportunistic sleazeball had kissed her. And Lois had let him.

Dan's lips began to move and Clark listened in, '…more chance, Lois. Please?"

Clark continued to watch, frozen in place, as Scardino pulled Lois down to the loveseat with him. He ran his hand up her leg, bunching up the fabric of her delicate, black dress. The hem of her dress lifted higher with each movement of his hand, exposing the silky smooth skin of her legs until Clark could make out one shapely, freshly-shaven knee, showing just below the hemline.

Clark couldn't allow things to proceed any further. He thought he had lost Lois once to Dan. He wouldn't let it happen again. He put his fist to the door and pounded fiercely.


Lois felt like she was drowning. Dan was kissing her and touching her and before she realized it, they were on the couch together. She vaguely felt the hemline of her dress crawling up her leg and then Dan's hand on her outer thigh. That was enough to finally snap her out of her thoughts and get her full attention. But before she could reprimand Dan, there was a knock at her door.

A decidedly angry-sounding knock.


Without a word she pushed Dan away from her and got up from the couch, leaving him to think about what he had just done. Part of her wanted to give Dan a good slap to the face for his brazenness and give him a piece of her mind, but she certainly didn't want to give Clark the satisfaction of hearing that… if that was Clark.

She walked over to the door and peeked through the peephole.


She took a few deep breaths, composing herself, and then she opened the door.

"Clark. What are you doing here?" she asked, putting a little breathiness into her voice.

The tic was working in his jaw. "I thought I'd come by and go over some of our notes on the story with you." He glanced purposefully over her shoulder at Dan. "I didn't think your dinner guest would still be here."

"Hey, Kent," Dan acknowledged him with fake cheerfulness. "What a surprise to see you here," he continued dryly. "Lois and I were just catching up on old times, weren't we, Lois?"

"Uh, yeah." She was still more than upset with Dan for the little stunt he had pulled just a moment ago — kissing her like that — but her reporter's instincts were telling her that there was also more than a good chance that Clark had seen that kiss and what had followed, if he'd been… watching. The timing of his knock at the door had been a little too coincidental.

If so, that would give her the upper hand.

And she was never one to squander having the upper hand. "Old times. Not that they are that old."

"I don't know," Clark mused. "Several species of insects live and die in a month's time." He gave Lois a pointed look. "It seems that a lot of things can live… and die… in a month's time."

His meaning wasn't lost on her. If their love, their relationship, had died, it was because of *him*, not her. "Yeah, and some tortoises live to be over a hundred, just goes to show you that some things last longer than others," she quipped.

"Well, I guess I'd better be going," Dan said, walking over towards the door. He wasn't stupid — he could see the storm brewing. "I'll have my office fax you all my notes on Project Nirvana and I'll come by your office in the morning and go over them with you…" he hesitated for a moment before adding the compulsory, "both of you." He turned and flashed Lois a smile. "Goodnight, Lois. Don't hesitate to call me if you need anything." He looked away from her to smile smugly at Clark. "I'll be seeing you around, Kent."

Clark stepped aside as Dan went out her door and then he slipped inside before she had time to refuse him entry. She shut the door and took a deep breath, bracing herself for the conversation to come.

"So, what did you want to talk about?" she asked flippantly before murmuring, "As if I didn't know."

"I told you — the story," he answered, going over to take up residence on her loveseat. "He was here awfully late, wasn't he?"

"I don't think that's any of your business, is it?"

"Look, Lois, I didn't come here to argue." The tic was working in his jaw again.

"Then why did you come here?" she bit out at him.

"To talk…"

"Oh, yeah, about the story." She rolled her eyes.

"Yes, about the story. And… about us."

"There is no us, or so I've been informed."

"There is still an *us*. Or do you no longer consider us to be friends or partners, either?" His voice held just a trace of bitterness.

"Don't try to put this on me, Clark. I still considered us a couple until I woke up this morning. You're the one who put an end to that, remember?"

"Do you think I wanted to? Is that what you think? Because I can tell you that…"

"No. I don't think that's what you *wanted*. I think that's what you *decided* — all by yourself." She folded her arms and bit the inside of her lip to try and keep her tear ducts from over-reacting.

She knew she wasn't going to win him over like this — didn't even know if she cared about winning him over… at least right now. But she wasn't through with him yet, either. She had a point to make and she was going to make it now.

"If you really loved me, Clark, you wouldn't be doing this to me."

"You don't…"

"Don't interrupt me, I'm not through yet." She hardened her voice a little as she spoke her next words, "You wouldn't dump me and tell me that we could no longer be together but then constantly keep telling me how much you love me and how much this hurts… and you wouldn't interfere with me trying to move on… if you *really* loved me. How can you tell me that we can't be together and then expect me to just go on like nothing ever happened between us — just go on as your friend? It doesn't work like that. You're being selfish, Clark."

"What?" he exclaimed, jumping up from the couch.

"You heard me. You're being selfish. You can't have me or won't have me, whichever it is, but you don't want me to be with anyone else either. You can't have it both ways."

"I know that. Things have just gotten so complicated." He moved to stand closer to her and it was making it hard for her to concentrate with his body in such close proximity to hers. She knew from the words she had penned that he had broken up with her — but in her heart it was as if they had only begun dating. Her heart was still to the point that she had loved him so much that she had been willing to put her life on the line to save his parents.

It wasn't good when your heart and your mind were at war with each other. It was difficult to see which warring faction was going to win out.

This time it was her mind.

"Well, here, let's see if I can make things simple enough for you. I refuse to stay a spinster for the rest of my life, pining away after someone I can't have. If you don't want me, then I'm going to find someone who does. Is that simple and uncomplicated enough for you?" She raised an eyebrow in challenge to him.

And then he did something that totally caught her off guard.

He kissed her.

He bridged the remaining distance between their bodies before she could register what was happening. He wrapped his arms firmly around her and drew her in for a forcefully passionate kiss.

The kiss caught her so unawares that she stumbled backward, the bend of her knees backing up to her coffee table. Clark's arms tightened around her, steadying her as his hands smoothed urgently over her back and shoulders.

Her mind was protesting furiously, screaming angrily that he couldn't dump her one day and then kiss her like this the next.

But her heart…? Her heart was totally wrapped up in the emotion of the moment. It was loving the feel of his soft lips against hers, the possessive yet gentle strength in his arms and hands as he held her against him protectively, and the heat that was building between their bodies.

Her heart wanted more — demanded more.

She soon found herself responding to his kiss. Her arms reached behind his back, her hands groping his body passionately as she returned his kiss with fervor. "Oh, Clark," she whispered softly against his lips.

Clark deepened the kiss, drawing her in tighter against his body. His lips captured hers again and again, until he could hear her panting between kisses. His own breathing had become just as ragged. Her hands scorched his skin wherever they touched him. The taste of her lips and tongue intoxicating him.

He loved her — wasn't sure he could live with out her. And he was absolutely certain that he couldn't stand to see her with someone like Scardino.

"*I* want you," he murmured breathlessly into her mouth.

Damn he was a good kisser. Lois's mind swam. His lips were so firm and sure in their movement against hers. Oh, how she wanted this, how she wanted him…

Wait… *He* wanted her? Just like that? As if he could flip a switch and suddenly everything would be okay — just because he wanted it to be? He had seen her with Scardino and it had made him jealous.

It's not going to be that easy, Clark, she thought ruefully. This one moment had erased her doubts. He wanted her — and she wanted him. But she had to make sure he never did this to her again. She had to make sure he knew for certain that this was what he wanted. And until she knew that for sure…

Lois forced herself to focus and let her mind take control once again. He was not going to treat her emotions like a yo-yo. He had to make a clear choice.

She tried to pull back from him but he didn't seem to want to let her go. She finally broke contact with his lips long enough to utter a single word, "No." It came out as a soft cry, sounding a little sorrowful as if it were mourning the death of something.

That broke the spell. He pulled back from her, his eyes filled with concern. "No?" His heart clenched tightly in his chest, berating him for the fool he was.

"I can't. I can't do this, Clark. It's not fair. You have no idea how much part of me wants to. The part of me who remembers loving you… like it was yesterday. Then there's this other part of me — the part that knows the truth. And that part of me says that I can't do this." She stepped away from him, straightening and smoothing her clothes. "Like I said before — you can't have it both ways. We're either together or we're not. And you said we're not."

"I know I said that, but if you would just…"

"I think you should go, Clark," Lois interrupted him. She couldn't talk to him right now. Not like this. Emotions were running too high. They both needed time to cool off. "We've got a busy day tomorrow and I still have a lot of information that I need to write down in my journal."

Clark was sure she did have a lot to write down… including her re-emerging feelings for Dan.

He sighed in resignation and allowed her to escort him to her front door. He smiled sadly at her and restrained himself from reaching out to touch her cheek. "Goodnight, Lois. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yeah. Tomorrow. At the Planet." She emphasized that last part.


Clark mentally kicked himself as he left Lois's apartment building. What was wrong with him?

He was an idiot.

First of all, he had finally managed to break down Lois's barriers and she had fallen in love with him. Then he had proposed to her, and she had figured out his deepest secret. Finally, when she had come to terms with everything and was willing to accept his proposal, he had messed it all up by deciding it was too dangerous for them to be involved.

And a small part of him — very small — still felt that way… sort of.

Just look at the current mess Lois was in with her head injury and memory loss. This was his fault. If he had been more careful, she wouldn't have gotten hurt. If he hadn't frozen her in the first place, there wouldn't have been damage already, contributing to the problem.

It was his fault.


If he hadn't been around… if he had decided a long time ago that it was too risky for them to be together…

She could have already been dead.

Yes, Lois took risks, knowing that he was Superman, knowing that he could protect her — or at least she thought he could. But she took risks anyway. She had always taken risks. And people might try to use her to get to him, but people had managed to threaten her anyway, without him having anything to do with it. Miranda, the Prankster, and Barbara Trevino were a few examples that came to mind.

It might be dangerous for her, for them to be together, but wouldn't it be just as dangerous for them not to be?

What if Lois did become involved with some ordinary human guy — Clark flinched — like Dan? Then Clark wouldn't be able to live here in Metropolis any longer. He'd have to move. He just wouldn't be able to see her with another man. So say he moved — to some other city, New York maybe. Clark had heard that the 'Daily Bugle' was a pretty good paper to work for…

Then what?

Who would be there to save Lois when she got into trouble then? Scardino? Clark wasn't discounting the love of any normal man. He knew their love was just as powerful as his own. He had his parents' love as an example of that. But an ordinary man just wasn't as capable of protecting Lois as Clark was. A regular man could only do so much.

Clark could do more. Superman could do more.

Would he feel any better if something happened to her, that it wasn't because they had been involved?

Of course not. That was ridiculous! How could he have been so stupid? How could he have not thought through that decision?

Because he hadn't been thinking rationally.

It was all like a dream, like someone else had been thinking for him. He had been reasoning and acting solely on emotion. He had been so afraid when he had seen Lois lying unconscious on the floor with that gash on her head. He could have lost her so easily. If her injuries had been just a little worse, she could have died. He would have failed to protect her.

He had felt so responsible, so guilty. And he had let those emotions, that guilt, drive his actions that night.

And now he had possibly done irreparable damage.

He thought back to the kiss he had seen Scardino give her. Had he driven her into Scardino's arms? If it wasn't Scardino, would there be someone else later who would kiss and hold her? How could he let that happen? How could he fix this?

He wasn't sure. But he knew he had to find a way. She still loved him. He had felt her love in their kiss. It wasn't too late.

There had to be a way.


Lois sat down on her bed, cross-legged. She opened her journal and stared down at the blank page in front of her.

A blank page.

Just like the rest of her life if she didn't get her memory back.

She put her pen to the paper and then hesitated. What did she want to write? Her mind spit out a couple of options.

<Why I should have chosen Dan…>

<Why Clark is an idiot…>

<Why Lois Lane… still loves Clark Kent…>

She sighed long and deep as she flipped back a few pages and looked down at the notes she had written last night. The notes that told her that Clark said they couldn't be together. The sentences that told her he had broken her heart. The words that tried to fill-in where her memories were absent.

She wouldn't remember any of it… if she just tore the pages out of her book. She wouldn't have to wake up in the morning like she had this morning… and proceed through the rest of the day feeling like her world had been shattered.

It was tempting — but only a little. If she tore those pages out, she wouldn't remember what she had torn out — or why.

Maybe she could tear them out, put them someplace and tell herself not to read them until later.

No, that wouldn't work… obviously… she had tried that this morning already. She had told herself not read beyond a certain page in her journal but she hadn't listened. She had read those pages anyway. She was simply too curious. If she had access to the pages and knew about them, she would read them.

She knew herself too well.

Besides, what would be the point? It wouldn't change things between her and Clark.

Would it?

<*I* want you…>

He had really seemed like he wished things were different. She had felt it… in his kiss. He had wanted her, needed her.

<If she had access to the pages…>

Lois looked back down at the pages she held in her hand. She had the power to give him that chance.

Did he deserve a second chance?

It was her choice. Clark couldn't make this decision for her or take it away from her. She didn't really have anything to lose by giving him another chance. But if she didn't give him one, she had already lost.

Maybe she could tear them out and give them to someone? Maybe Star could keep them for her… No. No, that wasn't a good idea. There were things written on those pages about Clark and Superman. She had done her best to "encode" what she had written, in case anyone should read them, but it would still be better to keep them private.

But, if not Star, then who?

Clark. She could give the pages to him. She could take them over to him right now, foist them upon him and tell him she was willing to give him a second chance.

No. Not a good idea. If she put him in the equation that would take away her control. He could simply refuse her proposal right then and there. No. She had to be the one making the decision this time. She had to be the one with the control.

She thought about it for a few moments before making her decision. She gathered a few select pages from her journal in her hands and carefully tore them out before turning to the back of the book to tear out a couple of blank pages.

After writing a short note on one of the blank pages, she stacked it together with the other pages, folded them, and put them inside an envelope. She sealed it and wrote 'Personal and Confidential' on the outside. She was about to write 'Do not open until' when she realized she had no idea how long she would need to avoid the contents. There was no way that putting a date on it would stop her from opening the envelope. She frowned. What would fail to draw her interest? She thought for another minute and then wrote:

'Tax info 1995'.

That should do the trick.

She went to her closet and pulled out her memory box. There were notes in her journal that told her to reference this box each morning to get a bearing on certain things. Lois pulled up on the contents until she came to the bottom of the box. She then slid her envelope inside, letting the other items settle down on top of it.

Now at least she still had her notes — even if she probably wouldn't remember where she had put them tomorrow. But there was still the issue of Clark to deal with. She had to give him a heads up. If she didn't, he would get all worried when he saw her tomorrow and she couldn't remember anything about their break-up.

She let out a soft sigh and felt a smile creep onto her lips. He'd probably insist on dragging her to the doctor's office, first thing, to figure out what the problem was.

Yes, she definitely needed to let him know what was going on.

Lois went over to her phone and started to pick up the receiver… no. She didn't want to call him. She just couldn't deal with telling him anything in person. Lois glanced over at the other blank sheet of paper that she had torn out of her journal. Yes. A note. A note would be much better.

After scribbling a quick note on the blank page, she folded it and put it inside an envelope. She sealed it and wrote Clark's name on it. She grabbed a piece of tape and headed for her front door, intending to leave it for Clark to find in the morning. She had told him she'd see him at the Planet, but somehow she just knew he'd be by in the morning anyway.

Reaching out to stick the note on her door, Lois narrowed her eyes as an idea came to her. No, she wouldn't leave it here. She would drop it by his apartment, instead. After what he had put her through, he deserved to have to think about this all night tonight.

Lois went back inside to grab her jacket. She had an errand to run and then she had some writing to do.


Clark was lying in bed, trying to figure out how to quiet his mind long enough to fall asleep.

That's when he heard it — a feather-light noise coming from his front door.

He leaned up and tilted his head, listening closer, but he didn't hear anything else. Leaning up a little further, he peered through his front door but didn't see anyone there. He started to dismiss it and lie back down, but since he wasn't falling to sleep anytime soon…

Clark got out of bed and threw on a shirt, grabbing his glasses as he headed towards his front door. He saw the white envelope long before he was close enough to pick it up. A quick burst of speed and he was standing next to his door staring down at the envelope in his hands.

It had his name written on it — in Lois's handwriting.

He tore open the envelope with shaky fingers and took out the paper that was inside. The message written on it was short and sweet.

He looked again — definitely sweet.

Do you want a second chance? Prove it to me tomorrow. I'm editing my journal. — Lois


Lois had told Clark that she would see him at the Planet this morning, but he didn't want to wait until then to see her.

His dad was right — he was impatient… sometimes.

But this morning he had good reason. As Clark walked down the familiar sidewalk of Clinton Street, that was now be leading him into unfamiliar territory, he pulled the note Lois had given him out of his inside coat pocket and unfolded it.

<Do you want a second chance? Prove it to me tomorrow. I'm editing my journal. — Lois>

The note was wrinkled and the paper was no longer crisp from the number of times he had read it — folded it up, tucked it away in his coat pocket, then pulled it back out of the pocket and read it again… and again.

He hadn't slept last night. He had tried, but sleep just wouldn't come. He had spent the first couple of hours arguing with himself about whether or not he should just go over to her apartment right then.

Once he realized that going over to her apartment wasn't going to solve anything — she had made her decision and, even if he could have changed her mind, he didn't want to. He had taken a long slow flight through the night sky to try and make sense out of things.

He had flown by Dr. Klein's house to check on him, as well. The good doctor had seemed almost in awe that Superman had personally come by to check on him. Clark didn't think it was possible but Dr. Klein had been even more flustered than he normally was. The thought made him smile. He was beginning to feel a rapport with the man. Dr. Klein seemed very genuine, maybe even trustworthy. Only time would tell.

Clark looked up, realizing he was standing in front of Lois's apartment building. He was here. He hesitated outside the front door, unsure if he was ready to go inside.

What did she mean? She was editing her journal how? Was she changing something? Ripping something out? The pages about their break-up? Or something else? What? Why? Did he want a second chance? Of course he did, but what did she expect him to do? To say? How exactly was he supposed to prove himself?

Clark took several deep breaths as he went inside the building and walked up the stairs to her floor. He paused in front of her door, his hand held poised to knock.

What did she want him to do?

What did he want to do?

He didn't know. What he knew for sure was that he wanted to see her. He knocked on the door and waited… semi-patiently.

After a few seconds, Lois opened the door. She smiled a sweet, shy smile at him. "Is it true?"

He gave her a puzzled look. Is what true? That he was Superman? That she had saved his parents? That he was madly in love with her? What? He was afraid to answer lest he accidentally trap himself somehow.

"Did you really propose to me?" she continued.

Oh — that was easy enough to answer, wasn't it? He nodded his head at her, not really trusting his voice just yet.

"Then why don't I have an engagement ring on?" She flashed him her unadorned left hand.

Now that question was harder to answer. "What did your journal tell you?" he asked her cautiously.

"It said that I had initially turned you down."

"You did," he confirmed. So far, so good. No falsities there.

"It also said you got mad." She raised a questioning eyebrow. "Why did you get mad? Didn't you realize what a big step that would be for me and that I would need time to think about it?"

"I wasn't thinking clearly." Boy, there was the understatement of the year. "And you were mad, too. Really, really mad, as I recall."

Her face flushed. "Well, I'm sure I had good reason."

"You were mad because you said you didn't know me. But you didn't stay mad for very long." He smiled encouragingly at her. "You said you needed time to adjust and time to think. So that's what I was giving you, and that's why you don't have a ring yet on your finger." Still mostly true. Maybe the last part was stretching the truth, but it was a gamble that seemed to be worth taking.

"So was I still thinking?" That made sense. She could see herself taking her time with this decision. Still, something didn't feel right.

Something was just… off. All of the puzzle pieces fit together. But, with each piece that she received, it was becoming more and more obvious that the final piece was going to be missing.

There were some pages removed from her journal — they had been very neatly excised but she could tell that they were missing. In their place had been inserted a couple of loose pages with pertinent information about her debriefing of Agent Scardino last night. He was supposed to be getting together with her and Clark this morning to go over some notes on Project Nirvana.

To be truthful, she was a little taken aback that she had agreed to meet Scardino at her apartment to discuss the story with him. What had she been thinking? That had to have upset Clark. At least she assumed Clark hadn't been there, that's what her journal seemed to allude to.

She wasn't sure exactly how much she could rely on her journal but, then again, she didn't really have a choice, did she?

Besides the missing pages, there were also a few places in the journal where words — and occasionally even an entire sentence — had been scribbled through. New notes had been written in the margins — crammed in between what was already written and the edge of the page. It had all been written in the same ink, so obviously she had done these edits at the same time. Why? What had changed?

But those weren't the only things out of place. Lois could feel the faint stirrings of unresolved feelings, buried deep down inside her. She couldn't tell what the feelings were, just that they felt out of place. They didn't belong with anything that she had read or that Clark had told her… so far, anyway.

But maybe this was just how all amnesiacs felt. She still couldn't believe that she was missing a month's worth of memories and that this was the fourth day in a row she'd had to wake up and relearn everything. This was going to get old, real fast. Then again, it was new to her each morning. It must be irritating to Clark and Perry and everyone else, though.

She wondered if she had thought that exact same thing yesterday.

"Okay," she told him. "I can live with that — for now. So, what did you come by for this morning?" She smiled lopsidedly at him. "You weren't hoping to take advantage of me while my memory's off, were you?"

"Oh, you caught me," he admitted, flashing her a small grin in return. It felt good to smile like this with Lois again. "I was going to tell you that you had agreed to go away with me to a private island and…"

Before he could get anything else out she smacked him playfully. "We've already been to a private island, remember? I'm not too anxious to try out another one just yet."

His heart swelled. "Do you remember that? Is that what you dreamt about last night? Did you dream?"

She reached up and rubbed her forehead with one hand. "Whoa. Slow down, Clark. You're babbling." Clark repressed a laugh. That was the pot calling the kettle black. "No. I don't remember it. There were newspaper clippings on my coffee table. One of them was the article we wrote about that island." She smiled softly at him. "But I did dream last night."

"About what?" Obviously not about their 'break-up'…

Lois frowned. "Mindy Church."

Clark raised an eyebrow. Not what he had been hoping to hear she had dreamed about. "Mindy?"

"Yeah. Remember that party we went to at the art museum? It was the first time that you and I had worked together as a team after I was in on the *secret*. Remember? We diffused that bomb together?"

Clark grinned at her. "Yes, I remember."

"Well of course *you* do," she said, blushing a little. "Something that caught my attention about that party was that Bill Jr. and his dad left the party together. They were later picked up by the police at Costmart. Bill Sr. swore he didn't know anything about the bomb. Do you think if he had known about it that he would have left Mindy behind like that? Bill really did seem like he was in love with her and she didn't go with them."


"So, don't you see? Something's just not right about Mindy. I'm telling you, there's more there than meets the eye. And the police received an *anonymous* tip about the bombing, linking it to the two Bills. What if she was the informant? And then there's Bill Jr., who swears that Mindy set him up. I'm telling you something about her just doesn't feel right."

"Okay, okay," he soothed, "as soon as you get done at the doctor's office, we'll go to the prison and talk to Bill Jr., like Perry suggested."

Lois smiled at him, happy that he was seeing things her way. She looked away from him and down at her hand, a curious thought tugging at her mind. "So where's the ring?" she asked, wondering if he kept it on him, if he kept it at work — locked up in his desk, or if maybe he just kept it at home.

"The ring?" He cleared his throat nervously. "It's at home."

"Can I see it?" Where did he keep it at home? Just put away in an old dresser drawer? Or was it sitting out somewhere — someplace where he looked it at every day? The thought made her feel a little giddy.

"Now?" Clark put one hand against the doorframe to steady himself. "You want to see it now?"

"Well, yeah. It's not like it would take you a long time to go get it. You could just…" She made a flying motion with her hand. "Couldn't you?"

She had a point. He could. He could go get it and be back before she hardly had time to blink. That wasn't the problem. It was just that this was getting a little too…

"Hey, I was just teasing," she said, grabbing his hand and giving it a little squeeze. Yep, something was definitely off. Maybe he really was upset with her for meeting with Scardino last night. Why else would he seem so uncomfortable?

But maybe that wasn't it at all. She was missing the last few weeks of her memory — maybe he was just trying to be cautious. She could understand that. "Why don't you come inside? I'm almost ready."

She pulled on his hand and Clark followed her inside. He sat down on a loveseat to wait while she finished up.

What did he do now? What had she expected him to do? What did he want to do?


He glanced back towards her bedroom and then, before he could change his mind, he spun into his suit, opened her window, and made a quick trip back to his apartment to grab the ring box.

As Clark flew back through Lois's open window, he spun back into his regular clothes. He sat back down on the loveseat and slid the ring box inside his coat pocket, wondering why he really had gone to get it. He glanced back towards the shuffling noises and sounds he could hear Lois making. Was he really going to show it to her?

Clark let out a frustrated sigh, running a hand through his hair as he turned back around. When he brought his hand down, something on the coffee table caught his eye. It was her journal. It was lying open, alongside an open box filled with newspaper clippings, mementos, and keepsakes. He started to reach out for the journal. If he read it, he would at least be able to figure out what she had taken out of it or what edits she had made to it.

But he stopped himself. She was giving him a second chance. That's really all he needed to know. A second chance wasn't about knowing what she remembered from the past but, instead, about making a fresh start — about making new memories.

Wasn't it?

His mind was chasing itself in circles when he felt her hands on his shoulders. She leaned down wrapping her arms around him, smoothing the fabric of his shirt beneath her fingertips.

"Clark?" she whispered softly. Her mouth was next to his ear and it sent a shudder through him. His palms felt sweaty and he was suddenly thirsty. "That wasn't all I dreamt about."

Before Clark could find his voice to inquire further, she withdrew a hand and when she brought it back, it had a small card in it. He recognized his handwriting on the card.

'Still dreaming about that night in the clouds. Take all the time you need — I'll always be here for you. Yours forever, Clark.'

"I dreamt about that flight over the city," she continued in a husky voice. "I remembered it. And I remember what I was thinking after you gave the flowers to me that came with this card."

Clark knew what he had been thinking. Lois had looked beautifully seductive in the light silk nightgown she had been wearing the evening he had brought those flowers to her. He had wondered many times since that night if she had been expecting him to come. As Superman, he had been to her apartment several times at night and she had never been dressed like that before.

Not like that.

Oh there had been that one time when he had come to her before she had accepted Luthor's proposal, and she had looked lovely…

But not as lovely as *that* night. Clark closed his eyes remembering the way her hair had fluttered as the breeze from the window caught it. Her cream-colored silk nightie had plunged dramatically at the neckline, drawing Clark's eyes down her body. He had realized that the night air was a little chilly and he had wrapped his arms around her to warm her. They had held each other closely, their bodies swaying softly against one another. Her skin had felt more like silk than what she was wearing.

"Clark, do you remember that night?" Lois asked, breaking into his thoughts. She slid her hands back up across his chest and brushed her fingertips lightly across his neck before resting her hands on his shoulders. Her gentle touch sent an anticipatory shiver through him.

"Yes," he murmured quietly. The feeling of her smooth skin beneath his fingertips that night had been burned into his memory. He shouldn't be doing this. He shouldn't be talking about this with her, letting the moment affect him like it was. If she knew the truth, she wouldn't be doing this — acting this way. He needed to slow things down.

He tried to summon the will but it wouldn't come.

"Do you remember how we laid together on this loveseat and…" She withdrew her hands from his shoulders and walked around the loveseat to sit down next to him. She leaned in and pressed her lips lightly against his throat, just below his jaw line. "…we kissed."

Lois definitely remembered. How could she have ever forgotten that night? She wondered what would have happened if Superman hadn't been needed — if Clark hadn't been called away that night. There had been an emergency… but she couldn't remember anything else — all she knew was that he'd had to leave.

She had almost been ready to accept his proposal that night… almost, but not quite. She had still been scared, and she was still scared now but not like before. Something inside her had changed. She didn't know how to explain it — she could just feel it.

Clark was the one man she wanted to spend her life with. The realization of that resonated down deep inside of her, culminating in a pool of liquid heat.

"That's what I dreamt about just before I woke up this morning." She kissed his neck again, moving her lips up and then along his jaw before finally reaching his lips. She sucked softly on his upper lip, savoring the soft, smooth feel of his skin with her tongue.

Clark felt the last of his control — and any remaining objections — die upon his lips, unuttered, as she moved even closer against him. Her lips sought his, repeatedly, as her hands wrapped around his neck and her fingers threaded themselves through his hair.

"Clark," she whispered his name breathlessly between kisses as she reached between them to pull the sides of his coat back and down his shoulders. "Oh… I want…" She let out a frustrated groan and Clark took over for her, working his suit coat off his body and letting it fall to the floor.

He took her in his arms, holding her tightly against him as he ran his hands up her back. "…need…" she murmured into his mouth. He released her lips to lay her down on the soft cushions of the loveseat and he began moving his mouth down the front of her neck, stopping momentarily to suck softly at the base of her throat. "Oh… I mean, I don't… think I need any… more… time."

Clark paused in his attention to the soft skin just beneath her collarbone and looked up into her eyes. They were soft with hope and yet passionate with desire at the same time. It would be so easy. He had the ring — he could just pull it out and ask her and she would say yes.

His mind finally reigned him back in. He couldn't do that. Surely that's not what she'd had in mind when she had said she was giving him a second chance. He needed to make things right between them and that meant not rushing things. She had to know what had happened and that he was sorry for what he had done. He needed to tell her that she had been right — together they could overcome anything.

He had to make sure she knew why he was proposing to her — that he realized he couldn't let her go. He needed her — not just as a partner or a friend but as his wife, his lover, his equal. Clark reached down and cupped her face as he leaned in to kiss her lips. He took a long, slow taste of her before he pulled away. "I told you I would give you all the time you need and I will. I can wait."

"But I can't," she protested before he kissed her again. She pushed against him, separating their lips. "I'm ready to give you my answer," she told him breathily. "I don't want to wait. Look at how fast things can change."

Clark closed his eyes, memories of Lois lying unconscious flashing through his mind… memories of him telling her they couldn't be together… and the memory of Dan kissing her. Yes, he knew just how fast things could change.

He could feel his hand reaching for his coat, and the cherished item it contained, almost of its own accord.

Clark and Lois both jumped as a loud sound ripped through their collective conscious. The sound blared again and Clark's mind finally recognized it as Lois's phone. It was ringing. He pulled his hand back from its quest and started to sit up.

"Don't, Clark. Just let it ring, please?" she implored, pulling him back down to her.

"But what if it's important?"

"Could it be that important? More important?" she questioned before kissing him again.

No, it could definitely wait, he decided. Clark deepened the kiss, allowing his body to relax against hers.

She slid one hand between them and grabbed for his tie, pulling at it to loosen it. When she had pulled it far enough to expose the top two buttons of his shirt, she slid her other hand inside to work them free. She was leaning up, one hand pulling down the edge of his *suit*, to kiss the exposed flesh beneath his throat when her answering machine picked up the call.

"Lois? Lois are you there?" Perry's voice bellowed. "If you're there, pick up. I can't find Clark and…"

Clark was there, the receiver in his hand, before Perry could finish his sentence. "Hello, Chief?"


"Yeah," Clark answered, sounding a little sheepish and a even more winded. "I was here to pick up Lois for her doctor's appointment. We were… uh… just getting ready to leave."

"Uh-huh," was Perry's less than convinced reply. "Well I think you're gonna want to change your plans this morning. I just gotta call from my source down at the police precinct. Dr. Klein has been brought in on charges of burglary, theft, and conspiracy to destroy evidence related to the Knox trial."

"No! You're kidding. Not Dr. Klein," Clark replied emphatically. "Perry, I know he's not involved in this. There has to be some kind of mistake. Do the police not realize that someone tried to kill him last night?"

"The police realize that, Clark, but they have him on tape. Remember the other security camera tapes they were going to review from STAR Labs? Well they reviewed them and guess who they found on them? Now look, Clark, I realize you're a little personally involved in this case…"

"Personally involved? Yeah, I'd say getting shot at kind of makes you 'personally involved'. A few more inches and they'd have hit me."

"Clark!" Lois exclaimed, coming up behind him. "You didn't tell me you were shot at last night." Visions of Clark being shot in that nightclub almost a year ago flashed through her mind. There wouldn't have been any regeneration machine this time to cover up what had happened and metaphorically bring him back to life — back to her.

Clark tried to casually wave it off. "It really wasn't anything."

Lois frowned at him. She hadn't really thought about it before now… Her frown deepened — at least not that she could remember. Superman was invulnerable, but Clark wasn't. Clark could be killed.

"No, Clark, it was… it *is* something," she argued.

When she had told Clark to look at how fast things could change, she had been thinking about what could happen to her… not to him. She hadn't really thought about being able to lose him. A panicky feeling settled into her stomach. What if he had been shot last night? What if she had lost him?

She had written in her journal that the accident that had caused her amnesia had really upset Clark — had made him realize how easy it would be to lose her. She thought maybe she understood now how he might have felt. She could only imagine how awful it would have been to have lost Clark — and yet she would still have had him as Superman. It wouldn't have been the same but she still would have had him.

If she died, there was no coming back — Clark would have nothing. He stood to lose a lot more.

She wasn't sure why but that revelation seemed really important to her. Like it meant more than what she realized. The next time she made notes in her journal she needed to write that down.

"Did I hear Lois?" Perry asked.

"Yeah, she's standing here, Perry," Clark answered.

"Ask her if she can handle her doctor's appointment solo this morning," Perry instructed him, his voice making it clear that it wasn't up for debate. "I need you down at the police precinct to find out exactly what's going on, Clark."

"Okay, Perry. I'll get down there as quick as I can." Clark hung up the receiver and turned to Lois with an apologetic look.

"It's okay, Clark. Go. I'll be fine. I'll meet you at the prison to talk with Bill Jr. after my appointment."

"Are you sure?"

"Go," she told him, fanning her hands in a shooing motion.

Clark spun into his suit and pulled her to him, planting a firm kiss against her lips before going out through her open window — leaving her to watch him fly off.

"Wow," Lois whispered softly, sitting down in the chair next to her. There were definitely a few things that were more fun to read about in her journal than others. She would absolutely want to read about this morning… tomorrow morning.

As she glanced over at her journal — contemplating what she might write — Clark's coat, lying in a heap on the floor next to the loveseat, caught her attention. She got up and went over to pick up. She gave it a little shake to straighten it out and folded it lengthwise. She started to run one hand down the length of it to smooth it out but stopped when her hand came to a hard lump.

Lois opened the coat and reached into the inside pocket. As she pulled out the soft black velvet box, a gasp escaped from her lips.

He had gone to get it. When? It must have been while she had finished getting ready.

She opened the box and looked down at the sparkling diamond. He had really brought it to her. She pulled the ring from the box and held it up in the sunlight to examine it. She looked beyond the ring to the open window and the curtains fluttering in the morning breeze. What would have happened if Perry hadn't called?

She repressed the desire to curse.

How long were things going to continue to work against them? She started to put the ring back in the box but she hesitated. After glancing at the window once more, she slid the ring on her finger.

He had gotten pretty close on the ring size. It was almost a perfect fit. She held her hand up and wiggled her finger back and forth — marveling at the facets of light the diamond sparkled back at her.

After losing herself in it for a few moments, she took the ring off and put it back in its velvet box. She closed the box and started to put it back inside Clark's coat but again hesitated.

She didn't want to give it back. Not now… not again.

Lois sighed unhappily and fought an internal battle for several seconds, but she finally slid the box back into his pocket. Soon. She would have her chance soon. She could feel it…

She could feel something else, too. There was something else in his coat pocket — a piece of paper. She grabbed the paper with her fingertips and pulled it out.

It was folded up and wrinkled, no telling what it was or how long it had been in there — probably just trash. She'd throw it away for him. She tossed it onto her coffee table for now; it was time for her to get going to her doctor's appointment.


Clark landed in an alleyway just a few blocks down from the police precinct. He changed into his clothes and then spent a few minutes fighting traffic before he was inside the front door and looking for Inspector Henderson.

He found him in short order. "Henderson! What's going on?"

"And a good morning to you too, Kent. What's going on is that your boy Klein is being fingered as the front man working for Knox. I'd say there was a very good chance that he's on the payroll for Intergang."

"Knox? Intergang?" Clark said in disbelief. "Come on. You can't be serious. He might have been killed last night if it hadn't been for that bullet-proof glass."

"Maybe Klein had a falling out with them, how should I know?" Henderson shrugged expansively. "Evidence doesn't lie."

"You have him on videotape?"

Henderson nodded. "We knew whoever stole that sample and trashed the lab had to have clearance. There was no sign of a break-in. The thief simply walked in, trashed the place and took what they needed. We knew it had to be an inside job — and that tape proves it."

"May I see it?" Clark asked, waiting for the objection to come.

"I'll have the boys down in forensics make you a copy."

"How long?" Clark asked, impatiently.

"Couple of hours," Henderson mumbled distractedly as he glanced down at the paperwork in his hands. "I'll call you as soon as it's done."

Clark pulled a card out of his pocket and grabbed a pen off the Inspector's desk. He wrote a number down on the card and handed it to Henderson. "I may not be back at the Planet for a while. That's my beeper number."

Henderson took the card and nodded at him before setting it down on his desk; then he went back to examining the papers he was holding.

It was sign of dismissal, but Clark wasn't going to be put off so easily. "Can I at least talk to him?"

At that request, Henderson's head came back up and he looked at Clark suspiciously. "Why? What makes you believe Klein didn't do it?"

"Just call it a gut instinct." There very well could be a crooked doctor at STAR Labs, but he was certain that it wasn't Klein. And if it wasn't Klein, Clark was going to need his help figuring out just who it was. "Come on, Henderson. Don't make me bring Lois back down here with me."

Henderson wavered a few more seconds before walking away and waving at Clark to follow him. "All right. If it means missing out on a visit from Lane, you can have five minutes."

Clark smiled and followed him silently back to the holding cell. Dr. Klein looked up and, when he saw Clark, a small look of relief seemed to pass over his face. "Mr. Kent. Thank goodness. It's nice to see a friendly face." His eyebrows furrowed. "This is a friendly visit, isn't it? You were there last night, you saw what happened." Klein walked up to the bars of his cell and wrapped his hands around them.

Henderson ignored the doctor and turned back to face Clark. "Five minutes. Got that?" At that, Henderson walked off and left Clark and Dr. Klein to talk.

"Mr. Kent…"


He nodded, smiling. "Clark. I did not steal that sample. Why would I do that? Why would I break in and steal a sample that I already had access to? That I was already working with? That makes no sense." Dr. Klein let go of the bars as he was speaking and began to pace. "They say they have me on tape, but I think maybe it was someone impersonating me…"

"Dr. Klein…"

"Maybe they had a mask on or something…?"

Clark tried again. "Dr. Klein, I…"

"I don't know. There has to be some kind of…"

"Dr. Klein!" Clark all but yelled.

"What, Clark?" Dr. Klein looked vaguely offended. "You don't have to shout."

"I believe you. But if it wasn't you, who else could it have been? Henderson said whoever it was had access to the lab and the secured areas. They were even able to disable the security camera in the lab they broke into."

"Do you remember Mandy? From last night? She was the…"

"Receptionist," Clark cut in, trying to speed things along. He only had a minute or two left and Henderson would be coming back. "I remember."

"No, she's not a receptionist. She's actually my lab assistant. When you came last night, it was after hours. It was time for the regular receptionist to go home for the night. I was scared and I wanted someone out front who I could trust, that wouldn't just let anyone walk in."

Clark nodded at him. "So you trust Mandy."

"Yes, and she'll help you. I told her that I trusted you. She can get you a list of doctors who have clearance access to the laboratory that was broken in to." Dr. Klein paused, shaking his head. "I just can't imagine one of my colleagues being involved in this."

"Don't worry. I'll get that list from Mandy. Henderson is going to get me a copy of that tape so I can look at it. We'll figure this out. For now, you may actually be safer inside here. Last night was proof that whoever is responsible for this thinks you are a big enough threat to try and get rid of you."

Dr. Klein nodded. "I think you may be right. Clark, can you do me a favor?"

"What?" Clark could hear Henderson's footsteps coming.

"See if Mandy can get you my notes and samples — the ones that are still left that I reassembled after the break-in. With me in here and not at the lab, I don't think they're safe there."

"I'll try," Clark promised. He wasn't sure that Mandy or anyone else at STAR Labs was going to turn sensitive scientific studies over to just anyone, but he'd do his best. If they wouldn't give it to him, maybe he could try as Superman.

"Time's up, Kent," Henderson boomed.

Clark gave Dr. Klein the most reassuring smile he could muster. "I'll be back. Don't worry. We'll figure this out."


Clark turned around and started walk away but Dr. Klein's voice halted him. "Clark? One more thing. Would you tell Mandy to make sure she feeds my chimps for me while I'm gone?"

Despite the gravity of the situation, Clark found himself having to repress a chuckle. He didn't dare look back into the man's face for fear of losing it. "Sure thing," he managed.

Of all the things for Dr. Klein to be concerned about… The man was innocent. Clark knew it — and he was going to prove it.


Lois waited impatiently on the small, uncomfortable bed in the examination room. The nurse had said Dr. Peterson would be with her in about five minutes and that had been over twenty minutes ago.

She had alternated between reading some of the informational posters pinned to the billboard in the room and flipping through some of the back issues of "gossip" magazines in the small wicker basket on the floor.

Nothing had held her attention for very long, though. And if the doctor didn't get here soon, she was going to be forced to walk out in this extremely undignified gown to ask if there was a restroom nearby.

If they really needed you to strip down and put one of these gowns on, did they have to keep it so cold in the exam rooms?

After a couple more minutes of staring at the bizarre pattern on the wallpaper, her mind drew her thoughts to the coat that was back at home. The coat that belonged to Clark — that was now draped across the arm of her couch. She wasn't thinking so much about the coat, though, as what was inside the coat.

If she had known she was going to have to wait this long, she would have brought that box with her. At least then she would have had something interesting to look at.

Would he realize he'd left his coat, and that box, at her apartment and come back and pick it up before she had a chance to see it again? She shouldn't have put it back.

What would Clark have thought if she had just put it on and kept it on?

No. That wasn't how it was supposed to work. The man was supposed to make a big presentation of proposing, and then the woman of accepting… and then, she could wear it. The only thing was that he had already made that big presentation…

And she had turned him down. Well not exactly. She just hadn't accepted. That wasn't really the same thing. Was it?

She sighed and slumped her shoulders, wishing that she were sitting in a chair with a back to it — instead of on this uncomfortable exam bed. She sighed again, a little louder this time. Who was she kidding? Of course it was the same thing. And why did she think Clark was going to make a big 'to do' about proposing to her again — after she'd turned him down once?

What if he couldn't work up the nerve again? Then again, he had brought the ring… Maybe she should…

A knock at the door startled her out of her thoughts.

"Come in," she answered.

"How are we feeling this morning, Ms. Lane?" Dr. Peterson walked in, his interest focused on her chart.

"Very good, Dr. Peterson. I remembered a lot last night," she replied, feeling like an eager student looking for praise from her teacher.

"Interesting… I'm surprised at the speed of your recovery and the amount of memory you're regaining. I didn't think it was possible."

Lois frowned at his choice of words. He didn't think it was possible? But wasn't that why he had her on the medication? "I guess I'm just a fast healer."

He murmured something to himself as he made some notes in her chart. As he set her folder down on the counter, the cell phone in her purse started to ring.

"Oh, that's my cell. Would you mind?" She pointed at her purse, which was sitting next to the file he had just set down. Her cell phone was sticking out of the top of it and Dr. Peterson pulled it out.

He glanced at the display. "D. Scardin?"

"Oh, that's Dan Scardino," she told him, smiling sheepishly as she grabbed for the phone. "I ran out of space to fit the whole name."

Dr. Peterson handed her the phone and frowned. "I'll come back," he said stiffly.

Lois frowned as she watched him shut the door. That was a little rude — especially after she had waited so long on him. Surely he could be polite enough to give her just a minute or two…

Oh, the phone!

"Hello, Lois Lane."

"Lois, I was afraid you had decided to avoid me," Dan's silky smooth voice teased from the other end.

Had she really liked him? Honestly? Well, maybe, just a little. But whatever she had felt for him before was long gone. "Avoid you? Now why would I do that?" she managed sweetly.

There was a long pause on the other end. "Umm, okay. Well, then where are you?"

That was a little nosy. "Look I know you said you'd meet me at the Planet this morning to go over some stuff, but I'm sure I told you about my other appointment this morning."

"Appointment? What appointment?"

She hadn't told him? How strange. Well, she wasn't going to get into it right now. Her cell minutes cost a fortune and she had just managed to talk Perry into this phone. She didn't want him to decide to take it back. "Never mind. I'll be in a little later, after my appointment."

"Uh, okay. What time?"

What time? She looked at her watch. She was about to tell him to give her a half an hour but then she remembered — she had told Clark she would meet him at the prison to talk to Bill Jr. after her appointment. That was going to take some time.

"Actually, Dan, I'm sorry. I forgot. I have another appointment after this one. I…"

"Ahh. So you are avoiding me. Listen if this was about…"

"No. Honestly. I'm not avoiding you. I have an interview to go to with Clark."

"With Clark… I see. Work related, I'm guessing."

Of all the nerve! Where did he get off asking that? She bit down on her tongue before she could say something nasty. She took a deep breath and managed to remain civil in her reply, "Yeah. Listen, I've gotta get off here, but I'll meet up with you at lunch… say one o'clock at the Penny Loaf, it's a deli a few blocks down from the Planet. Do you know where that is?"

"I do. It's a date."

She grimaced. Why did he have to be so flirty? Did the man have no self-respect? She had dumped him, after all. "It's not a date. Clark and I will see you there."

She closed her phone and looked back up at the door, frowning in disgust. Now how long was she going to have to wait again before the doctor came back?


Mandy nervously played with one of her red curls as she looked around conspiratorially. "I'm afraid I can't give you Dr. Klein's notes or samples. I can get you that list you're wanting, though. I'm getting ready to go on break right now, Mr. Kent. Do you want to buy me a cup of coffee?"

The look on her face was practically begging him to say yes. "Sure. I could use a cup myself."

"Okay. I have to go by the lab first to log out. Just follow me and then I'll take you to the break room."

Clark followed Mandy through the winding maze of hallways until they stopped in front of a door labeled "Chemical Lab — 511A". "I'll be just a moment," she told him, "you can come inside."

He followed her inside the lab and over to a computer station. Mandy glanced up at one corner of the lab and then moved so that her back was facing the corner but Clark could still see her face. "Mr. Kent, don't look at me. Don't act like I'm talking to you," she whispered the words so quietly that a normal person would have had trouble hearing her. "Scratch your cheek if you understand me."

Clark reached up and scratched his cheek. Mandy walked over to a computer station, keeping her back to the wall. "Stay close enough that you can hear me. I can't talk any louder."

Clark scratched his cheek again.

"Since you're trying to help Dr. Klein, I trust you, Mr. Kent. Bernie didn't do this." Mandy typed on the keyboard, keeping her eyes and mouth, face forward. "It's not in him. Someone is setting him up and as much as I hate to think it's one of the other doctors… I'm inclined to agree with you. And if that's the case, then I have to be really careful. I don't want those goons coming after me." She edged her way over to the printer sitting on the other side of the desk. "I printed off the list of doctors with access, for you. I'm also printing off Dr. Klein's notes on the formula for Project Nirvana. I'm going to go remove the sample and put it in my purse. When you go with me to get me a cup of coffee, I'll slip it to you."

Clark reached up and scratched his cheek, trying to keep the motion casual.

"I want to help Bernie, really I do. But please don't involve me any further. The Board of Directors asked me a lot of questions, as well as the police. The less I know, the better off I am… and Dr. Klein. But I'll do this much, for Bernie. He's been like a father to me. He gave me a job here when no one else would give me the time of day. I owe him this much."

She took the badge from around her neck and swiped it across a keycard reader. "I'm going into the cold storage vault to retrieve the sample. Just wait for me here."

She handed a computer print out to him and walked off. Clark glanced down at the list. There weren't too many names — that should help narrow it down. He checked his watch. He was going to be late meeting Lois at the prison.


Lois found herself looking up into the sky again before glancing back down at her watch. Where was he? Had he run into a snag down at the precinct? Maybe she should go on inside and talk to Bill, Jr. without him?

She reached for the door handle of her Jeep but then pulled her hand back. No. She would give him a few more minutes. If she went inside and started without Clark, she'd have to wait to talk to him until after the interview.

She looked back up through the windshield, shading her eyes with her hand as she scanned the sky for the familiar red and blue. Her mouth twitched into a smirk as she realized just how strange it was to be staring up into the sky watching for Clark. She used to wonder why he didn't have a car. He certainly made enough money as a reporter for the Planet to have one. She used to think that surely a car would be cheaper than him taking a taxi everywhere.

Her smile widened. Now she knew that he rarely took a taxi. Not unless he was trying to maintain the ruse that he actually needed one.

She wondered how many times he had to do something because of things that were beyond his control. What things did he sometimes have to give up or sacrifice because of who he was?

How much of that sacrifice would she have to share in if they got married?

All of it. She wasn't going into this half-committed. She knew what she would be committing to — *who* she would be committing to — once she accepted that ring.

Lois glanced over at her journal lying on the passenger seat. She picked it up and dug a pen out of her purse and began writing.

She didn't know how much time had passed, but she was lost in thought when her door was slowly opened. She looked up to see Clark smiling at her. She smiled back as she realized he was wearing his suit coat — the one he'd left at her apartment.

"Sorry it took me so long. Dr. Klein asked me to run by STAR Labs to get some of his notes and information from his assistant."

She closed her journal and tucked it under one arm, accepting the hand he was offering to help her out of the Jeep. "That's all right. Gave me a little time to play catch up." She leaned up and gave him quick kiss, laying her hands on his chest as she did so. She slid one hand down a bit, where his inner pocket would be. When she didn't feel anything there, she did her best to hide her disappointment. He had taken it back home. "I see you remembered where you left your coat," she remarked casually, pulling away from him and turning around to close her door.

Clark could tell something had upset her. She had seemed fine until that kiss. She had kissed him and then ran her hands down… Oh, no. Surely she hadn't…

Well, of course she had. When he had gone to pick up his coat, it hadn't been lying where it had fallen to the floor. It had been neatly folded and laid across the arm of her love seat.

He opened his mouth, not sure what he was going to say, but she started talking first, "What were you able to get at STAR Labs?"

Still unsure of how to broach the other subject, he opted to just answer her question. "Dr. Klein's notes on Nirvana. A list of people with access to the section of the lab that was broken in to, and this…" He pulled a small brown glass bottle out of his side jacket pocket.

Lois looked from that side pocket to his other side pocket. Maybe he hadn't taken it home? Maybe he had just put it in another pocket…? She brushed that thought away and took the bottle from him, shaking it and hearing the liquid slosh inside. "Nirvana?"

He nodded. "I'm not exactly sure what Dr. Klein wanted me to do with it — he just didn't think it was safe to leave it at STAR Labs." He reached back into the same pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. "The list of people with access to Dr. Klein's lab is pretty short. I thought we could give it to Jimmy when we get back and let him do some digging for us."

She took the paper from him and glanced at it. There weren't any names on it that stood out to her — although would she remember if there were? She shrugged and handed the paper and bottle back to him. She glanced at his side pocket again. What had he done with it? Did he still have it? Had he taken it home? It was killing her — she hated not knowing.

She could just ask him…

"Clark…" she began, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. She sighed. "We'd better get going if we want to get finished in time to meet up with Dan for lunch."

Dan? Clark held back a grimace. "We're having lunch with Dan?"

"Yeah," Lois said as she started walking towards the entry to the prison. "He called me this morning to see where I was. He was supposed to meet up with us at the Planet and apparently I had forgotten to tell him about my doctor appointment."

Clark followed behind her, feeling himself growing nervous. "What did he say?" She hadn't told Dan about her appointment? Had she not told him about her 'condition' either? It probably wouldn't do any good to ask her — she wouldn't remember.

"Not much. He was just… you know, Dan."

Yes, Clark knew. And Clark knew that if Dan didn't know, but Dan found out later, that Dan would make sure Lois knew what it was that Lois didn't know — that she had gone on a 'date' with Dan. And if Lois found out that she had gone on a date with Dan, she would know things weren't right between *them*. Clark shook his head feeling a little dizzy from his inner ramblings. Dan could ruin this… he could ruin it so easily. "But you told him we were *both* joining him for lunch?"

"Yes, of course."

Clark was going to have to tell her what had happened, everything, and he needed to tell her before she found out some other way. He looked up as the prison loomed in front of them. Now wasn't the time though.

But he would have to find the time. Soon.


Bill, Jr. sat down, pulling the phone off the wall with a smirk on his face. "Keep this up, Ms. Lane, and I'll see that the warden gets you a reserved parking spot."

Lois scowled at him. "Did you hire the hit on Dr. Klein?" She held the phone between herself and Clark, where they could both hear the receiver. She knew he didn't need the phone to hear what Bill was saying — but there was that 'appearances' thing again.

"What?" He looked from Lois to Clark. "Your boyfriend should keep you on a tighter leash, Lane. Someday you're going to make one too many of your wild accusations."

Clark swore that the only thing keeping Lois from lunging across to throttle Bill was the pane of glass between them. He reached over and grabbed her hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze before tilting the receiver towards his mouth. "Just answer her question, Church. Were you behind the attack on Dr. Klein?"

Bill furrowed his brow at them. "Have you looked around?" He gestured around the room at nothing in particular. "How could I attack Dr. Klein?"

Lois lurched forward, snatching the phone with her as she went. "You can cut the crap," she growled. "Everyone in this room knows how far reaching Intergang is." Clark leaned forward, still trying to keep up the ruse that he needed to be close to the phone to hear. He put his hand on her back and gave it a gentle rub.

"Uh, yeah, whatever. Listen, I don't even know who this Klein guy is." Bill, Jr. stood up.

"He's the doctor who was working on Nirvana," Lois said hurriedly before Bill could take the phone from his ear. "I told you that STAR Labs had been broken into and the sample stolen. You told me to check out Mindy. We did — we haven't been able to connect her to anything. Then last night a carload of thugs shot at Dr. Klein and Clark."

Bill leaned forward and pointed at her through the glass. "I'll tell you the same thing I told you last time, Ms. Lane. If you want a lead, go stalk Mindy for a while. Me?" He gestured to himself, "I'm just working on my 'good behavior'." He sneered at them as he lowered the phone from his ear.

Lois was about to yell loudly into the phone that he better not hang up on her, when Bill brought the phone back up to his ear. "I will give you one piece of advice. If Mindy is behind this and she's helping Knox and trying to set me up, you can bet that she'll find a way to make the evidence in lockup for the trial disappear too."

With that, he slammed the phone down on the receiver and walked out of the room, leaving Lois and Clark to think about what he had just said.


Clark held the visitation room door open for Lois and escorted her through with his hand held softly against the small of her back. They walked out of the prison into the bright daylight of mid-morning.

"We should probably warn Henderson about what Bill said," Lois told him, digging through her purse.

"I agree. When we get back to the Planet, I'll call to check on the videotape and let him know what Bill said." Clark watched her curiously as she stopped and opened her purse wider. She started taking items out — her billfold, a small can of mace, a tube of lipstick… "Lois, is something wrong?" His hand left her back as she began holding items out for him to take.

"My keys. I can't find my keys." She dropped her head suddenly and let out a choice expletive. "I locked them in the Jeep!"


"I was… a little distracted. I didn't get them out of the ignition before I shut the door."

"Are you sure?"

She scowled at him.

"I meant about locking the doors," he hastily amended. "If you forgot to grab your keys, maybe you forgot to lock the doors." They hurried over to the Jeep and tried the doors.

Nope. They were locked.

"Can you get it open?" she asked.


"You know…" She looked around conspiratorially. "With your one of your powers."

Clark couldn't help himself and he chuckled. "Lois, there isn't a power in heaven or on Earth that could get me inside that car — unless you don't mind a broken window."

She grimaced. "Let's not be hasty. I guess I'll just have to call a locksmith." She glanced back towards the prison. "Or… I bet one of the guards in the prison could jimmy it open." She turned around to walk back.

Clark reached out to stop her. "Or I could fly you home to get your spare key. You do have a spare key, don't you?"

She smiled at him and nodded. "Yeah. I do. Good idea."

Clark looked around. There weren't any good places to make a quick change. The area around the prison was under surveillance and didn't have anything that would provide any cover. Clark glanced further down the road from the prison. A stretch of the road was shaded by a row of trees. That would work. They'd just have to walk for a little bit.

"Come on," Clark said, taking Lois gently by the arm.

"Where are we going?"

"I need someplace to *change*. Let's head for those trees," he suggested, pointing.

"Oh." She slid her hand into his as they started to walk and a tingle ran up his arm. Clark knew he should talk to her. This was the perfect time. No one was around — it was just the two of them. No Dan. No outside interruptions. Now was the perfect time to tell her the truth.

But he didn't know where to start. He still hadn't figured out exactly what he needed to say.

And so, instead, they walked in silence.

Lois hated the silence. It felt so uncomfortable. But she couldn't seem to work up the courage to ask him if he still had the ring with him. She glanced down, nonchalantly, at his pants pocket. There was something in it — something was keeping it from lying flat.

She gave his hand a squeeze. He squeezed back. She swung their joined hands slightly a few times and then she bumped them against his hip — against the object in his pocket.

Even though it was just the back of her hand, she could tell it was hard, whatever it was. Hard and bulky and somewhat square-shaped.

Could it be?

It was driving her to distraction. She wasn't going to be able to think about anything else until she found out for sure. She was hardly able to think right now. But there was no subtle way to stick her hand in his pocket to find out. So… she would give up being subtle in favor of being direct.

She pulled her hand from his grasp and slipped it inside his pocket.

"Lois!" Clark almost stumbled, more than a little startled by what she'd done. "What are you doing?"

"I'm sorry, Clark, I just had to see…" She closed her fingers around the object and pulled her hand free. Lois looked down at what she was holding — Clark's beeper. "…your beeper?"

Clark couldn't help himself, the baffled look on Lois's face caused a small chuff to escape his lips.

Lois looked up at the sound and found Clark grinning from ear to ear. She gave in to the absurdity of the situation and laughed with him.

"You had to see my beeper, huh?" he asked her, his voice echoing his laugh.

"Uh… yeah, I guess so." She giggled again and flashed him a smile.

Her smile could melt steel. He should know — that smile was melting his resolve right now. Clark knew what she was looking for. He reached out and took the pager from her, slipping it into his other pants' pocket and then withdrawing the ring box. Lois immediately stopped giggling.

"Is this what you were looking for?" he asked, the laughter gone from his voice — a quiet intensity in its place. She nodded. "I decided I'd better keep it in a pocket where it couldn't get misplaced so easily."

Lois bit her bottom lip. What was he going to say? What was he going to do? The small girl inside her was just dying, hoping that he'd drop down to one knee right then and propose. "Can I see it?" She reached out tentatively for the box.

Clark opened the box and she gasped a short breath before she reached out to pull it from its cushion. "I peeked earlier," she admitted, "when I found it in your coat. I had forgotten how beautiful it was."

She started to slide the ring on her finger, but Clark stopped her. "No. Don't put it on until it's for real. I… I can't see it on your hand unless it's real." His chest was so tight that it was making it hard for him to breathe.

"Then make it real, Clark."

Clark's legs felt weak and he took a step back from her. "I…"

Lois took a step forward and took hold of his hand with hers. "I'm ready."


"Clark, what are you waiting for?"

"You. I'm waiting for you, Lois. I'm ready, too, but this isn't right. The timing's just not right. You barely even remember me proposing to you the first time and your memory of the past month is spotty at best. I don't want you to make this decision until its right, until you're sure."

Lois felt the lump in her throat a second or two before the sting in her eyes. He was afraid to ask her. She had lost her memory and woke up every day to have to start over again… he didn't want her like this.

She turned away from him, hurt and angry but unable to find her voice to say anything.

"Hey," Clark said softly, touching her shoulder. "Look at me." She turned back to look at him, fire burning in her eyes as tears threatened to spill out of them and wash down her cheeks.

The concerned look on Clark's face turned to agony. What had he done? "Lois? What's wrong?"

"What's wrong?" her shaky voice asked with a hiccup. "You don't want me."

"What? No!" He was aghast — she had completely misunderstood him.

"Yes, Clark. I wake up every day to start over. I can't make new memories with you — all I can do is read about them in a book. You're afraid. You don't want to make a commitment to live a life with someone like that." She turned around and started to walk away.

Clark rushed after her and caught her by the shoulders, turning her to face him. "No, Lois. You don't understand…"

"Yes, I do. And I guess I really can't blame you. Who would want to be married to someone who woke up in the morning shocked and afraid to find their self lying in bed next to someone?" Her voice was trembling worse now and her bottom lip had started to quiver. "I wouldn't even be able to remember my wedding day." That was the final straw — she gave herself over and began to cry. "Or my honeymoon night," she whispered hoarsely.

Clark pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly. "That's not true. You're going to get better — you're already remembering things on your own." She cried quietly against his chest, her body shaking softly. "Shhhh. It's okay," he soothed, stroking the back of her head tenderly. "I'm here. I'm right here."

"But you're avoiding me," she mumbled against his chest. She pulled her head away and looked into his eyes, her face lined with pain. "And you don't want to propose to me until you know for sure that I'm going to get better."

Clark took her firmly by the shoulders and then lifted her chin up with one hand. "Look at me, Lois. I want you to *really* hear me. That's not true. That's not true at all. I would marry you tomorrow. I would marry you even if the doctor told me that your memory was never going to come back. I love you…"

Lois started to cry again. She hated that she was such an emotional wreck but the stress of everything was taking its toll and it was just all too much. "Oh, Clark," she sobbed through her tears.

"I love you, Lois." He slid his hand into her hair and drew her to him again. "And I want you." He echoed his words from the night before, even though he knew she wouldn't remember them. "But I want you to know, really know, what's happened. And, as long as there's a chance that you're going to remember everything, I want to wait. I want us both to know, each morning, the depth of our commitment to each other. I'll wait for you, Lois. I told you I would wait as long as you needed and I meant that. I love you and I'll wait for you."

He leaned down and kissed her cheek softly; and she turned her face, tilting it to capture his lips with hers. Clark could taste the salty tears from her cheek and he moved one hand to cradle her face, his thumb smoothing away the moisture as he took a long, slow draw from her lips.

Lois slid one arm behind his back and brought her other hand up around his neck, pulling against him, deepening the kiss. She began to feel an urgency in his actions as he made longer and more insistent demands from her mouth, and it excited her.

Clark, the man who always held himself in check, who always tried to remain in control, was losing himself to her. They both knew it. He broke contact with her lips to kiss her chin, her throat and down to the base of her neck.

The attentions of his lips affected her so deeply that her breath caught in her throat and she opened her eyes to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Then she realized they were still standing a few hundred feet from the prison, on the side of a road, in broad daylight.


"Yes," he murmured, taking a soft nibble of her earlobe.

"Oh… Do you think…"

"Mmmm…?" He left a trail of kisses down the side of her neck.

Lois let out a sweet sigh and tried again, "Do you think we could do this someplace a little more private and a little less out in the open? Maybe not on the side of a paved road?"

Clark looked up at her and grinned mischievously. "Your place or mine?" he asked before moving his lips back down to her neck.

"Well I do still need to… aaah… get my umm… oh, please, Clark. My keys."

"Your place it is."


Clark — still uncomfortable with the idea of being seen too often with Lois as Superman — set them down in an alleyway close to her apartment building and changed into his clothes before they made a hurried dash to the front door of her building.

The second they were inside the quiet privacy of Lois's apartment building's stairwell, they were kissing again. They moved unsteadily up the stairs a couple of steps at a time — hands moving insistently against one another's bodies, their urgent breathing the only sound filling the emptiness of the staircase.

Lois missed a step and started to fall, but Clark caught her and moved them so that she landed in his lap. He kissed her long and deep, untucking her blouse from the waist of her skirt so that his fingers could skim along the soft skin of her lower back. She moaned and shifted against him and the friction caused every thought but one to desert him — they needed to get inside her apartment. Clark cradled her in his arms and carried her up the remaining stairs, his feet barely making contact with the floor.

As they neared her apartment door, he set her back down. She put her arms around his neck again and pulled him down for another kiss. He walked her backwards, guiding her towards her door and then she broke the kiss long enough to pant, "Keys. I don't have my keys."

He kissed her hungrily before asking, "You don't happen to have one hidden somewhere do you?"

She shook her head no as she found his mouth again. He drew her bottom lip into his mouth and sucked lightly on it, considering whether or not to just break down her door. Probably not a good idea. "Do you still leave your window unlocked for me?"

They had come to her door and Lois let out a startled gasp as his body pressed tightly against hers. "I don't remember, remember?"

He smiled as he kissed her again, using the leverage of the door behind her to intensify the kiss. He shifted, rocking his body against hers, thrilling them both with the result. This wasn't nearly enough for him anymore — not when there were couches and privacy behind her door. And a bed, his hormones whispered. She's got a bed in there, too. But it was no good to either of them while they were still in her hallway — he had to fix that first. Clark reluctantly pulled away from her.

"I'll go find out," he said, his voice thick with need.

Lois leaned against the door, her head spinning. God, what a time not to have her keys! Suddenly she was losing ground to the door, falling sideways only to land on her couch at the same time she heard the door slam shut.

Clark settled his weight carefully on top of her and whispered, "Lois, you don't know how much I've missed kissing you like this," he said, kissing her again. "And like this," he added breathlessly, his mouth moving to taste the line of her jaw.

"You've missed it?" she panted in between partings. "I don't even remember it," she complained. "I don't even begin to know how to write this down in my journal."

Clark smiled against her lips before taking a deeper taste of her.

"Oh, please, Clark. I need to feel your hands on me."

Clark shifted, putting his weight on one arm while he ran the other hand just underneath the hem of her blouse. She shivered as his fingers brushed over her abdomen.

"Yes. God, that feels good," she moaned, her hands pulling on Clark's shirt to touch the warm smooth skin of his back. Had he even worn the suit to go through her window? "Where's the suit?"

"Left it," he punctuated his words with short kisses along her neck, "by… the window… when I… came in."

Clark's brain was screaming at him. What are you doing? You need to stop now. Now. Stop now. She won't remember any of this tomorrow. It's not fair.

Lois's body was begging for more, pleading with her. She didn't care if she didn't remember any of this tomorrow. Right now all that mattered was him — his lips, his hands, and this moment.

Then she felt an odd sensation against her hip. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation but, at first, she couldn't quite pinpoint what it was.

"Clark? Are you vibrating?"

"What?" he asked and then sighed when he realized his pager was going off. "It's my beeper."

He pulled it out of his pants pocket, intending to toss it across the room and retrieve it later. But he looked at the display first, out of habit.

It was the number for the police precinct. It was Henderson.

It was a wake up call. Just enough of a reality-check to bring him back to sanity. "I'm sorry." He kissed her again softly before sitting up and making his way off the couch.

"Sorry?" Lois leaned up on her elbows and frowned at Clark.

Clark gestured apologetically at his pager. "It's Inspector Henderson. He said he'd page me when the copy of the security tape was ready for me to pick up. With Dr. Klein in prison for the break-in and the real criminal still out there, I should probably get down there and get that tape so we can take a look at it." He held a hand out to help her up.

Lois sighed quietly, wishing for one fleeting moment that their jobs weren't always so demanding and hectic — but just for a moment. "Yeah. I understand. You should go." She took his hand to pull herself up from the couch. Once she was standing she didn't let go of his hand, allowing the momentum carrying her forward until she was in his arms. She nuzzled his neck, kissing it tenderly.

"Lois," Clark whispered her name with difficulty and then murmured her name again into her hair as he kissed the top of her head. She leaned up and kissed his lips one last time before stepping away from him. He took a deep breath to clear his mind. "I, uh… I guess you'd better grab your spare key and I'll take you back to your Jeep."

Lois got a sheepish look on her face. "Yes. The key. Right… I probably should have told you this sooner."

Clark gave her a puzzled look. "Told me what?"

"The key isn't here. It's at the Planet." The color creeping into her cheeks darkened visibly. "A couple of months back I almost locked my keys in my Jeep at work, so I took my key and put it in my desk, in case I ever really did lock them in there. But, I, uh, kinda got distracted after we got here. I figured I'd just tell you later."

Clark grinned at her. She had wanted this as much as he had. Well, they could continue their *discussion* later tonight, after he'd had time to have a real discussion with her first. "Okay, then, how about I run you by the Planet before I go to the precinct and we can go pick up the Jeep later?"

She nodded at him as she began tucking her shirt back inside her skirt. Clark walked over to her chair to retrieve his suit coat and *suit*. He spun back into his complete ensemble and started to pocket his pager in his side suit coat pocket. His fingers came in contact with the Nirvana sample and notes already inside.

Clark pulled the bottle and papers from his pocket and looked at them. It probably wasn't a good idea to carry this stuff around with him all day, especially since he was getting ready to go back to the police precinct. He should probably leave it here for the time being.

"I should probably hide this stuff, for safe-keeping," he said, glancing around her apartment for a safe place to stash it. "I don't think I should have it on me when I go to see Henderson — just in case."

Lois held out her hand. "Here, let me put it in my scrap-box. I really doubt anyone's going to look for it there."

When Clark reached across the coffee table between them to hand the items to her, a folded, wrinkled paper on the table below caught his eye.

He glanced back up at Lois before lowering his glasses to look at the paper — one quick x-ray confirmed his suspicion. It was her note from the night before. His heart was in his throat as he bent down and picked up the paper. He tried to calm himself, tried to tell himself that she couldn't have read it. If she had, she would have immediately brought it to his attention — not left it sitting here in her apartment, folded up on the table.

Lois watched curiously as Clark retrieved the *trash* that she had pulled from his suit coat that morning. "I'm sorry, was that important?" She cleared her throat timidly. "I found that when I found the ring box this morning. I thought it was trash. I was going to throw it away for you."

"You didn't read it…" he repeated, this time out loud as if to reassure himself.

"I, uh, was a little distracted." Her mind flashed back to the way the ring had sparkled on her finger in the morning sunlight. "And like I said, I thought it was trash."

Lois furrowed her eyebrows as she watched him stuff the paper into his coat pocket. "So it was important. What was it?"

Clark's mouth went dry. "A note from you," he said quietly, unable to look at her.

"Really? When did I give it to you?"

"Last night."

Last night? That paper looked like it had been folded and unfolded repeatedly. When he said it was a note from her she had assumed it was some sort of love note she had written to him that he had been sentimental enough to carry around with him. The fact that it had been so well read in just one night, only served to stoke her curiosity even further. "Can I see it?"

"No," he answered a little too quickly. When her eyebrow began to rise and she got that look of challenge in her eyes, he continued, "Not right now. This requires a little introduction and time, and we don't have that time right now. Tonight. I promise. I'll share it with you tonight." He would share everything with her tonight — and then beg her for forgiveness.

Lois wasn't happy about it. But she knew he really did need to get down to the precinct. "All right. But don't you dare think I'll forget."


Lois sat at her desk, completely lost in thought. She hadn't found it this difficult to concentrate since… Well, when had the last time been? It might have been when she was seeing Dr. Friskin and trying to decide which of the three men in her life she was really in love with — Clark, Dan, or Superman. Not that there had really been a decision to make. She had come to realize that she had known all along.

Falling in love with Clark had been a gradual thing. And yet it had snuck up on her and then dominated her before she had any chance to resist it. And now she was helpless to fight against it — not that she wanted to.

But it was those feelings for Clark that was making it so difficult to concentrate right now.

She was sure that, truth be told, she had probably been this distracted after she found out Clark was Superman, and he had proposed to her. She had some of those memories. The parts that had come back to her in her dreams she could remember, but a good portion of it was still sketchy.

But this — this was just terrible. She looked down at her computer screen. She had been stuck on this sentence for the last fifteen minutes. She couldn't seem to get her mind to focus. It was still back at her apartment, on the couch with Clark — or daydreaming about where they could go when Clark got back so they could continue what they had started.

She had to get tough with herself or she wasn't going to get anything done today. She sat up straighter in her chair and pulled it closer to her desk. She took a big gulp of her caffeinated coffee — which to her dismay was beginning to cool down considerably — and took a deep, cleansing breath.

Lois put her hands on the keyboard and her eyes to the screen — and then abruptly every nerve ending in her body went on alert…

…as Clark's hands came down to rest on top of her shoulders.

"Hi," he said quietly as he bent down close to her ear. "I missed you." The whispered words sent a shiver through her and made her smile.

"Mmm, me too. Did you get the tape?" she asked, tilting her head to look at him.

"Yeah. Henderson was out on a call, but he had left it for me at the front desk. So I guess I'll have to call back later to tell him about what Church said." He squeezed her shoulders softly and it sent a tingle through her. "You wanna come in the conference room with me and take a look?"

Lois almost asked 'take a look at what' in a sultry tone but realized at the last second that he meant the tape. Focus. Yes, the tape. She wanted to look at the tape. She nodded at him and stood up. Clark reached out and put one hand behind her back, escorting her towards the conference room.

The touch of his hand made her knees feel weak when she thought about how that hand had touched her earlier. How it had stroked across the bare skin of her back, her stomach. God, why couldn't she concentrate?

She knew why… It was because she *knew*. She knew now for a certainty that Clark loved her, that he was going to marry her. He had all but proposed to her again — saying that he just wanted to give her time to remember everything. He had said he would marry her no matter what — even if her memory never fully recovered.

The thought made her dizzy and she had to focus on the conference room door so she didn't trip herself. What Clark had said was of course ridiculous — there was no way she'd let him make a commitment to uncertainty like that. But it still made her feel an incredible sense of belonging, of love.

Clark followed closely behind Lois, watching her intently. He wasn't sure how he could sense it — maybe it was the rise in her heart rate that he could hear, or maybe it was the way she kept taking in short, shallow breaths — but he could tell something was affecting her. He wondered if it was the same thing that was affecting him.

His mind flashed back to her hands on the bare skin of his back, her lips pulling against his, eagerly. He'd barely been able to fly straight afterwards. It had been pleasurable torture, flying with her in his arms to bring her to the Planet.

Clark hadn't been able to think of much else, since leaving Lois's apartment. They had done some intense kissing and necking before… before her accident. But he couldn't remember anything quite that passionate or urgent.

And it had been a while.

Clark reached out and opened the door for her to go inside the conference room. Was it his imagination or did she just purposefully brush against him?

A slight breeze wafted in her wake, carrying her scent on it. It was a mixture of her shampoo, perfume, and something deeper, more elemental — something he had noticed earlier when he had been kissing her on the couch. He took a deeper breath, letting her fragrance saturate his senses. As it ignited a path down his throat and into his lungs, a heat slid through him to settle low in his stomach.

Clark followed her inside, shutting the door behind them. Lois was just about to pull out a chair to take a seat, when she felt a gust of air behind her. She turned around to watch in astonishment as all the shades in the conference room went down and the set of soft presentation lights came on.

And then Clark was there, holding her in his arms.

"I missed you," he repeated in a whisper, his voice husky.

In response, she threw her arms around him and began kissing him. Her movements were reckless and demanding. Her hands clutched at his body, wanting to touch him everywhere at once.

"Clark," she panted, "I'm not sure…" He reclaimed possession of her mouth again, ending her thought. When he moved his lips further down her neck, she continued, "…we should be doing this… oh god, Clark… in the conference room."

That's what she was saying. By contrast, what she was actually doing was backing him up until he came to the chair that was behind him. At her urging, he sat down. She advanced on him, sliding one knee between his legs to rest it against the seat of the chair as she bent down to reclaim his lips once more.

He slid one hand around her waist, drawing her to him, while he ran his other hand just under the hem of her skirt to rest on the back of her thigh.

Clark broke from their kiss. "Well, where would you…" He kissed her briefly but firmly. "…suggest that we…" Lois nudged her knee a little closer in between his legs, eliciting a groan from him. "…do this?" he finished, his voice shaking a little.

She smiled against his lips. "I don't know," she murmured, moving his tie aside so she could run her hands up his chest. "Someplace a little more private and a little less open…"

"The supply closet?" he suggested, punctuating the last word when she leaned in to take a nibble of his ear.

She giggled and Clark could feel the vibrations of her laugh against his neck. "Hmmm, maybe the stairwell," she teased. "We're at least semi-experienced there." All of the sudden, Clark was pushing her back and straightening his tie. "Clark? What's wrong?"

"Jimmy's coming," he told her hastily.

Lois turned around in time to see the door swing open. She looked back at Clark and watched as he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands in front of him. She had to repress a snicker.

She covered her amusement by scowling at Jimmy. "Don't you knock?" she barked.

Jimmy looked abashed, fidgeting a little as he started to close the door. "Sorry, guys."

"It's okay, Jimmy," Clark told him. "What did you need?"

"Well, uh, Lois gave me the list of people with access to Dr. Klein's lab when she came in this morning. I've run every identifier I could on these people. They're clean. One of the lab techs has a speeding ticket but, other than that, they're all upstanding citizens. If you're looking for something here, you're gonna have to go a lot deeper than what I could."

He held the list out and Lois snatched it out of his hands. "Thanks." Jimmy started to leave but Lois's voice stopped him. "Hey, Jimmy?"


"Would you let Perry know that we've got the security tape from STAR Labs? I think he wanted to watch it," she instructed him.

Jimmy smiled, obviously relieved that he didn't seem to be in the doghouse any longer. "Sure thing." And then he left Lois and Clark alone, once more.

Clark let out a long shaky sigh.

"Told you we shouldn't do that here," Lois told him, smiling widely.

"I guess that kills any fantasies I had about the supply closet or stairwell, then, huh?" Clark chuckled lightly.

Lois joined him in a laugh, smacking him on the arm playfully. "Well, at least not *this* stairwell. Besides I bet we can come up with plenty of interesting places to make out at our apartments — where we're much less likely to be interrupted."

Clark thought about their last couple of attempts to "make out" at Lois's apartment — not likely.

Perry opened the door and walked in, followed closely by Jimmy. Perry held his hands out wide in front of him. "So? Where's the tape? Put it in. Let's go people. The suits upstairs are breathing down my neck like Elvis on his manager after an eight-month tour. What have we got?"

Clark got up out of his chair and popped the tape in the VCR. When it started playing he backed up, taking a seat again to watch the recording.

The tape started up with the display clock in the lower left corner showing five-thirty p.m. Clark recognized Dr. Klein's assistant, Mandy, as she came out of the lab. She had her purse on one arm and her coat slung across her other arm as she left for the day.

After a long few moments of nothing happening, Lois walked over and pressed the fast forward button on the VCR. She pressed resume when a man approached the door. It was Dr. Klein — he was still dressed in his white lab coat, obviously staying late to work. He opened the lab door and went inside. Lois pressed the fast forward button again and almost a half an hour on the timestamp went by before Dr. Klein exited the lab. He was no longer wearing his lab coat and, instead, had a black leather jacket under one arm and a motorcycle helmet in his other.

A motorcycle? Really? Clark would have never guessed.

A moment later the tape faded to garbled fuzz — the end of the recording that the police had provided them with.

"So is that it?" Perry asked, sounding annoyed. "Great shades of Elvis! Surely they aren't holding Dr., uh…" Perry looked at Clark.

"Dr. Klein," Clark supplied.

"Yeah, Klein…" Perry nodded, continuing his previous thought, "…based on this. This evidence seems a little flimsy to me. What does it prove?"

"Nothing," Clark said heatedly. "It proves nothing."

"It proves that Dr. Klein was the last person to leave the lab," Lois pointed out.

Clark hated it when Lois played 'devil's advocate' — because it usually meant that she was arguing with him. He didn't feel like arguing with her, especially when he knew Dr. Klein was innocent.

Wasn't he? This tape proved nothing. "But what if someone entered the lab through a different door or was already inside?" Clark postulated. "Maybe someone doctored the tape?"

Lois raised an eyebrow at him. "Who's reaching now? Aren't you the one who always tells me if something looks…"

"Yes," he interrupted her, "I am. All I'm saying is that I'm not ready to jump on the bandwagon that Henderson is driving. Not just yet. There are still too many questions out there." Clark went over to the VCR and ejected the tape. "That lab can't be accessed without a keycard. I'm gonna take this tape back to the precinct and see if Henderson's back yet. I want to see if he has the records of whose cards were swiped that day going in and out of the lab."

Clark headed for the door but was stopped by Lois's voice, "Clark, wait. Don't you remember, we're supposed to meet Scardino at the Penny Loaf at one o'clock for lunch?"

Clark looked down at his watch. It was almost twelve-thirty. That didn't leave him much time. "Yeah, I know," he told her. "I'll meet you there, okay?" And then he was out the door.

Lois looked over at Perry and smiled half-heartedly. Clark had better be there. She didn't look forward to attending a lunch with Dan by herself.

She just had this uneasy feeling.


"Yes," Henderson said, nodding his head, "of course I have the records of whose cards accessed the lab that day, not that I needed them. We've got our man."

"How can you be so sure?" Clark argued, trying to keep from gritting his teeth. How could Henderson be so categorically one-sided on this? "When Dr. Klein left that lab, he wasn't carrying anything but a leather jacket and a bike helmet."

"The only items taken were some notes and the formula. Klein's assistant has given a sworn statement that they were still there when she left. Klein was the only one left in that part of the lab. Both of those items were small enough to fit in someone's pocket. How can you prove that Klein *didn't* have them when he left?"

Clark realized he was right — that was how Mandy had smuggled a sample out to him, after all.

"Now if you'll excuse me," Henderson said, opening the door to his office and holding a hand out as if to show Clark out.

Clark sighed. Henderson wasn't going to listen. Clark rose out of his chair and made his way to the door. If he could only find a way to make him listen… As Clark extended his hand towards Henderson to shake, he remembered something. "Oh, by the way, Bill Church, Jr. says hello."

Henderson raised an eyebrow. "You've been talking to Church?"

"Yeah, Lois and I thought he might have had something to do with the break-in at STAR Labs."

"And what did he say?" Henderson asked, his interest obviously piqued.

"He singled out Mindy Church," Clark told him, watching his expression. Henderson's face went from interested to amused in less time than it took Clark to change from one persona to another.

"Mrs. Church… yeah. Okay."

"Look, I don't blame you. I thought the same thing," Clark admitted. "But the last thing Bill, Jr. told us was to warn you to watch the evidence locker for the Knox trial. He said if Mindy was involved, then she is probably working with Knox. And if she is, you can bet they'll try to make that evidence disappear."

It seemed to Clark that Henderson's face went just a little pale. He shut the door and went back over to his desk, gesturing for Clark to sit back down.

"Kent, I'm gonna tell you something. What I'm about to tell you is to be kept in strict confidence — off the record."

Clark nodded.

"I'm serious. If this gets out, you, Lois, or anyone else at the Daily Planet can be assured that you'll get no further cooperation or information from anyone under my authority. Do you understand?"

Clark nodded again. "I understand. You can trust me."

Henderson narrowed his eyes at him and sighed softly. "The evidence for the trial? It's already missing."

"What? When?"

Henderson nodded. "Your friend Klein took it."

"What?" Clark asked again, his voice a little harsher this time. "You can't have any…"

"Proof? No," he paused and gave Clark a small smirk. "But that tape and those key card records give me enough to hold Klein and get a warrant to search his house."

Clark was dumbfounded. Was he the only one who found this to be ridiculous? "You can't be serious, Henderson. Do you really think Dr. Klein would have the capability to break into an evidence locker and steal that sample?"

"Absolutely. If you can believe that Mindy Church could hold two thoughts together, surely you can see that a man of Klein's intelligence could steal." At Clark's disgusted expression he pressed on. "Look, all I know are the facts. And the fact is, I checked the evidence locker the morning after you and Klein came here. Since someone had stolen the sample from STAR Labs, I wanted to check on our sample. It was gone. It seemed highly coincidental to me that it would go missing after Klein had been here. Then we found the evidence on that STAR Labs security camera from the hallway outside Klein's laboratory. And according to the passkey records, Klein was the only person in the building." Henderson shrugged. "It's enough to make him a suspect. And if I find what I'm looking for at his house…"

"You won't," Clark assured him with a shake of his head. "Let's say, just for argument's sake, that Dr. Klein is working with Intergang. They wouldn't leave something like that at his house for you to find. If Intergang took those samples, you can bet they are long gone."

"That may be true, Kent. But I have to explore all the angles on this one." Henderson picked a pen up from his desk and forcefully plunged it into a cup that said 'Safety First', containing various other pens and pencils. "My butt's on the line with that evidence going missing right before the trial. I have less than seventy-two hours to find it and get it back."

"If you're going to check all the angles, then you should at least get footage from the other security cameras…" Clark persisted. "Have you checked to see if it's possible for those key cards to be duplicated? Someone could have gotten a hold of Dr. Klein's card and…"

"No. Look, Kent, I won't pretend to understand why you are so adamantly defending Klein but, simply put, I don't have the manpower to waste on something like that — not when the evidence so clearly points to Klein." Henderson walked back over to his door again, opening it.

Clark opened his mouth to offer another suggestion but Henderson silenced him with a wave of his hand. "If Klein's house comes up clean, then we'll go from there," Henderson assured him. "But right now, he's our best lead." Henderson gestured at the open doorway. "Now if you'll excuse me…"

Realizing he had gotten as far as he was going to get, Clark nodded at him and walked out the door. He made his way to the entrance of the precinct and stopped at the front desk. He looked down at the name plate — Sherry Walker.

"Sherry, may I use your phone?"

The young brunette looked up at him and she smiled pleasantly. "Local call?" Clark nodded and she handed him the phone. "Just dial nine to get out."

He dialed the number to STAR Labs.

"STAR Labs, how may I direct your call?" the receptionist asked.

"Mandy…" Clark paused — he didn't know her last name, "…Dr. Klein's assistant, please." He looked down at his watch, hoping he could catch her before she left for lunch.

"May I ask whose calling?"

"Clark Kent with the Daily Planet."

A few seconds passed and then she was back. "Mr. Kent? Mandy is getting ready to leave and asked me to take a message," the woman's voice told him.

"That's okay. I'll just call her back after lunch."

"No, Mr. Kent, she's not leaving for lunch — she's leaving for the day."

That wasn't good. Clark didn't want to sit on this until tomorrow. "Can you please ask her to wait just a couple more minutes? I'm on my way there, I'll be there shortly."

Without waiting for a reply, he hung up the receiver and thanked Sherry. Then he headed outside in search of a secluded alleyway.


"Mr. Kent, please, I asked you not to involve me any further," Mandy said, frowning as she slung her purse over one shoulder and picked up a duffle bag from the floor of the laboratory.

"Yes, I know. But you also told me that you wanted to help Dr. Klein." Mandy began walking towards the door of the lab and Clark followed her. "Mandy, he's in trouble. The police have a security tape showing that he was the last one to leave the laboratory that night."

She stopped abruptly and Clark had to catch himself so he didn't run into her. "Look, I want to help Bernie," she assured him. "I really do. But I have to think about myself, too. The people who are out to get Bernie are dangerous. They tried to kill him and almost killed you." She set her bag down again and sighed heavily. "That's why I'm leaving today. I'm going out of town to spend a few days with relatives. I don't feel safe here right now."

Clark couldn't argue with her logic and he certainly wouldn't want anything to happen to her. "Lunch. Just let me take you to lunch and ask you a couple more questions." Clark cringed inwardly. He couldn't really afford to miss his lunch appointment with Lois, especially since Scardino was their appointment.

But he couldn't afford to let Mandy leave either, without getting some information from her first.

She gave him an edgy look before checking her watch. "Okay. Lunch. But make it quick, I have a flight to catch."

"Does STAR Labs have a cafeteria?"


Lois sat at a small table inside the deli, glancing disinterestedly at the brightly-colored menu. Where was Clark? He was supposed to just pop over and talk to Henderson and then meet her here.

Maybe there had been an emergency? She glanced up at the muted TV that was bolted to the wall in one corner of the restaurant. It was tuned in to LNN and the financial analysts who were here to grab a quick bite to eat were glued to the screen watching the stock ticker roll across.

Closed captioning also scrolled across the screen — apparently telecommunications stocks had rose by five points that day. But nothing more interesting than that was going on. No mudslides or volcanic eruptions, no meteorite headed towards Earth… not even a treed kitten in need of rescuing.

Lois frowned and looked back down at her menu. She really needed to get used to this. If she was going to be the future Mrs. Kent, she was going to have to prepare herself to sleep alone occasionally, to eat dinner across from an empty plate… to love someone who wouldn't always have time to spend with her.

She knew all that, though. She had often fantasized about being Mrs. Superman. It was an idea that she had at first romanticized in her head. Imagine, a man who could fulfill your every wish. You wanted authentic Italian tonight? Voila! Forgot to chill the wine before dinner? No problem…

Locked your keys in your car and need a lift home?

Lois swallowed a smile with a drink of her coffee. But after a while, she had seen through the romantic veneer of her daydream and the reality had hit home. Even if she could have Superman, she would have to share him with everyone.

She realized, of course, that no matter who she married, she would have to share them to a certain extent. Every man had a past, had a family and friends, had a job… had a life.

But with Superman… with Clark… she would have to share him with the world. Was he worth it?

In her fantasy it was.

And in her reality? She knew it wouldn't always be easy. But she couldn't imagine anyone that she would rather share.

Certainly not a certain DEA agent…

"Hi, Lois. Am I late?" A voice asked from behind her.

…Dan Scardino.

"Hi, Dan. No, you're not late. I was early." Lois shifted uncomfortably in her chair and turned to look at him, forcing a smile to her lips.

Where was Clark?

Dan flashed a smile of his own at her. "So, where's Kent? He stand you up again?"

Her frown quickly fell into a scowl.


"It doesn't look good for Dr. Klein," Clark explained as Mandy took a bite of her chicken salad sandwich. Clark had only gotten a cup of coffee, still hoping he could make it for part of his lunch with Lois… and Dan. "The security tape from the hallway shows that he was the last person to go in or out of the lab that night. The police also got a copy of the security keycard swipes for the day and Dr. Klein was the last one to access the room according to those records." He hesitated before adding, "And there's the testimony that you gave the police that the sample was still there when you left for the day."

With her mouth full, Mandy couldn't say anything in response, but she didn't look at all happy. Clark decided to press forward. "Is there any other way into that lab?"

Mandy chewed for a few moments in silence before answering him. "Yes, actually, there is one other way to access the lab."

"How?" Clark didn't bother to hide the agitation in his voice — why hadn't she told him this the first time he had spoken with her? It would have saved him some time.

"Through the cold storage area — where I retrieved the sample of Nirvana for you. Each cold storage unit we have is shared by two laboratory rooms, one on either side of it. The vaults, as we call them, are accessed by a numerical keypad. Each lab has its own code into or out of the vault."

Clark could see where she was going with this and when she paused to take a drink of her soda, he jumped in. "So someone who had access to the other laboratory could have entered Dr. Klein's lab through the shared vault."

Mandy frowned. "Technically, yes, but they would have had to know the numeric code of our laboratory in order to get inside."

"Who has access to that code?"

"Only a handful of people. Not everyone who has access to the lab itself has access to the vaults. The experiments locked up in the vault are often extremely sensitive and classified. Besides Bernie there are probably only a handful of other people who would have that code." She glanced down at her sandwich and picked at it, tearing a piece off.

"But you have the code, right? I mean you got that sample out for me yesterday."

She dropped the bite she was holding and looked up at him with a panicked expression. She glanced around the cafeteria and held up one hand in a warning gesture. "Officially, no… But off the record? Yes. Bernie gave me the code a while back. Truth be told I already knew it as many times as I had seen him punch it in. But Bernie isn't irresponsible, Mr. Kent. He wouldn't hand that code out to just anyone." She glanced around the room again, looking uncomfortable, before picking up her napkin and wiping her mouth. She stood up and dropped the napkin on her plate.

"Can you get me a list of people who officially have the code?" Clark asked, standing up when she stood.

"No, I can't. I'm sorry. I'm only an assistant." She took her purse from the back of her chair and hung it on her shoulder. "That kind of information goes above what I'm able to access. And I only have rights to the information for Dr. Klein's laboratory. If I'm following your thinking, it sounds to me like you're going to need to find someone who not only has access to our vault code, but who also has access to the adjoining laboratory." She spread her hands and gave him an apologetic look. "I can't give you that information. I'm sorry."


Lois watched in irritation as Dan pulled out the chair next to her, instead of across the table from her. Why was he being so forward? She had told him she wasn't interested. She had chosen Clark. And how did he expect her to interview him, talk to him at all, if he was sitting next to her instead of across from her?

She could feel her eyebrows shoot up when he put his hand on her shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze. She shrugged it off and turned to face him. "Dan, I think you're getting the wrong idea about our lunch meeting today."

"Am I?" He smiled at her and let his knee bump against hers. "That's what you said about our dinner, uh, meeting, last night."

But that's what last night's dinner had been, hadn't it? Just an interview? That's what her journal had said. What had happened last night?

She moved her legs away from his. "Look, I don't know what you think last night was, but it was just one professional helping another out. I needed information and…"

"As I recall information wasn't the only thing we traded," he interrupted, sliding his hand over hers.

Lois recoiled in shock. "Daniel Scardino, I'll request that you keep your hands to yourself. I'm involved with Clark, or have you forgotten?"

Dan got a look of absolute confusion on his face. "But last night… I thought… You said…"

"I said what?" she exclaimed a little too loudly, noticing a few people turn to look at them.

Dan's face flushed a little. "You said that you and Kent weren't currently an item."

Lois grabbed for the table as the room abruptly seem to tilt. She closed her eyes, trying to regain her balance. Why would she have said that? Told him that?

Unless it was true? How could it be true?

Dan had told her that morning that he hadn't known about her doctor appointment. Was it possible she hadn't told him about her amnesia, either? She had forgotten what had happened last night and it was obvious to her, now, that she hadn't written everything down, either.

It had seemed to her like Clark had been acting strange today, as if he almost wasn't sure what to do with himself. She had just brushed it off as part of his concern for her amnesia. But now…

"I think you'd better tell me exactly what happened last night."


Clark walked Mandy outside and hailed a taxi for her. He helped her inside the cab and handed her bag to her, wishing her a safe trip.

She smiled sadly at him. "I really do hope you're able to help Bernie, Mr. Kent. I know he's innocent. Please, don't lose faith in him."

Clark started to close the door to the cab when her hand came out to stop him. She cast one fearful look at the STAR Labs building before speaking. "Dr. Phillips is the doctor who works out of the adjoining lab. His assistant's name is Cheryl. Maybe one of them can help you."

"Thanks Mandy. I'll look into it. Goodbye."


Clark watched the taxi roll off down the street and he turned back to look at the entrance to STAR Labs, feeling a little disheartened. He doubted very highly that a doctor who didn't know him, or that doctor's assistant, was going to be willing to give him access to the records he needed. But like his mother always told him — it never hurts to ask.

All they could say was 'no'.


"So, please, Lois. Tell me. What exactly is going on here?" Dan was upset. He was angry and confused and hurt — she could see it in his face.

Lois sat there numbly, unsure of what to say or how to feel. According to what Dan had just told her, she and Clark were not currently dating. They had actually had a little fight in front of him. And she… she had kissed Dan last night.

No wonder Dan was perplexed. She was positively bewildered by the whole situation. But even so, she wasn't jumping to any conclusions. She couldn't just take Dan at his word. After all, she hadn't written any of it down. There had to be a reason for that.

And there was no way of verifying any of it, until she could talk to Clark. Obviously Dan didn't know *exactly* what was going on either. How could he? And that meant that Clark was the only one who could tell her for sure. Maybe they had just had a little fight and she had used Dan to get even? But that seemed too petty, even for her.

Lois closed her eyes, trying to calm her mind. Clark, why didn't you tell me? She could still feel Clark's hands on her, his lips on her mouth… the eager desire in his actions.

If she and Clark weren't still dating, then what had that been?

Lois frowned as she remembered them kissing on her couch. She had ignored the way Clark implied that he hadn't kissed her or touched her like that in a while. He had actually said something along those lines to her — that he had missed kissing her and touching her.

She had been a little distracted at the time and had dismissed the comment. But now she realized that he had been *acting* the same way.

Lois felt claustrophobic all of the sudden and wanted to get out of the deli. She wanted to go somewhere — anywhere. She wanted to scream — she wanted to go find Clark and make him tell her everything.

"Lois?" Dan said her name softly. "I'm sorry. Are you okay? Can I do anything?"

Lois opened her eyes and nodded at him. She swallowed, her throat feeling thick. "Yes, you can take me to my Jeep."

He frowned at her. "Your Jeep?"

"Yes, I locked my keys in it this morning and I had to get my spare key at the Planet. Clark was supposed to take me to get it after lunch. If you wouldn't mind…" She got up from the table, feeling more and more uncomfortable the longer she sat here. She had to get out of here. She needed some fresh air — needed to think.

"Sure. I'm parked in the parking garage down the street. You want to wait here while I go get the car?"

"No. I could use the walk."


They said 'no'. Clark flew even faster as his disappointment grew. Not one person at STAR Labs had been willing to help him. They were all either too busy, didn't want to get involved, or even actually seemed disinterested.

He scanned the city beneath him until he located the deli, and then he peered inside. Neither Lois nor Dan was anywhere to be seen. Clark lifted his head and scanned the newsroom floor of the Daily Planet just down the street.

They weren't there either. The uneasy feeling that had been gradually worsening as it gnawed at him all morning, finally exploded into a full-blown panic.

What had Dan told her? Why had they left the deli so early? When Clark had left STAR Labs his watch had read a quarter after one. They should have barely begun eating by then. Why had they left? And why weren't they at the Planet? Where had they gone?

He sighed to himself. It was his own fault. He had gotten so wrapped up in what Lois had expected from him — what he was supposed to do with his second chance — that he had lost sight of the one thing that had mattered most.

That he had a second chance.

Now that might have been taken away from him. Clark flew towards the familiar parking garage of the Planet. There wasn't anything to do now but wait for her to come back. It wouldn't do any good to go out and scour the city to find her. She would just get upset if he did that. She had left the deli for a reason, and he needed to respect that and wait for her to return.

And that would give him a chance to talk to Jimmy. He had a feeling that Jimmy might be able to get him what no one else could.


Lois had determined, at first, to ride the entire trip to the prison in silence. But after ten or fifteen minutes of smothering silence combined with her rising frustration at the congested noon-time traffic and having to ride as a passenger instead of driving, she had given up that idea in favor of debriefing Dan on where they were at on the story… and explaining her *situation* to him.

They were pulling into the visitor parking at the prison when she finally finished.

"Wow. Lois. I'm sorry. Why didn't you tell me this last night?"

Lois continued to look out her side window, unable to meet his gaze. She sighed at his question. "I just told you — I can't remember. I wish I could. It might explain a lot to me about what exactly is going on between Clark and me."

Dan didn't have any response for that. Lois almost risked a glance at him to see if he looked disappointed, but she didn't. "It doesn't make sense that I would tell you that Clark and I aren't a couple and let you kiss me… and yet I didn't tell you about my condition. And I didn't write any of that down in my journal. Instead I wrote… other things down. I wrote about my feelings for Clark — about our relationship."

She swore she could feel Dan tense beside her, or maybe she could just hear it in his voice as he said, "Well, we're here. I guess I'll see you back at the Planet."

Lois finally turned to face him and she reached out and gave his hand a soft squeeze. "I'm sorry, Dan. Really, I am. I hate that I gave you the wrong impression."

"How do you know that the impression you gave me last night was the wrong one? How do you know that wasn't the right one — how you really feel?"

She started to withdraw her hand but Dan took hold of it. Determined to free it, she worked it loose from his grasp and gave him an apologetic smile. "I know how I feel right now," she said softly but firmly. "I chose Clark. I'm in love with Clark. I don't know what's going on right now or what problems we may be having, but that's between him and me." And Clark was going to tell her just exactly what that was…

Dan nodded at her. "Okay, I can respect that. For now."

Lois wasn't sure she liked the last part of that, but she ignored it… for now. "I guess I'll see you back at the Planet then. We can see what Clark found out from Henderson and compare notes."


Clark was fidgeting. How long was Lois going to be gone? The longer he waited the more nervous he became.

Not able to stand it any longer, he got up from his desk and went over to bother Jimmy. "So, how's it going?" Clark asked, looking over Jimmy's shoulder.

Jimmy didn't seem to hear him, but after a few seconds he finally tore his eyes from his computer screen and rubbed them before looking up at Clark. "You do realize it's only been like thirty minutes? Do you have any idea the kind of hardware STAR Labs is packing? The difficulty of the systems and security you're expecting me to hack through?"

"No, not really," Clark admitted sheepishly.

"Um, yeah. Well, the deeper I get the more I realize that this is going to be an all day project — maybe an all night one — especially since I still have some errands to run for the Chief." Jimmy glanced around as if to make sure no one was listening. "Not to mention the fact that it's not exactly legal. Is it really that important?"

"It could be. Depending on what you find, it could make the difference of whether a possibly innocent man goes to prison or not."

Jimmy smirked a smile at him. "Well that was cryptic. All right, CK. I'll do my best. Just don't expect anything for a while, got it?"

Translation — leave me alone and let me work. Clark nodded at him. "Thanks."

Clark was on his way back to his desk when the elevator door opened and Lois entered the newsroom, followed by a somber-looking Scardino. Clark's stomach did an abrupt drop before it hollowed completely out.

He caught Lois's eye but her reaction was impassive. Swallowing involuntarily, he smiled weakly at her as she came down the ramp toward him.

"Sorry," Clark said as her lips parted. He had a feeling he'd better practice saying that word — he was going to be saying it a lot more before the day was over.

She closed her mouth momentarily before opening it again. "What happened?"

"Henderson's getting a search warrant for Dr. Klein's house. He thinks Klein's guilty." Clark glanced over at Scardino as he came down the ramp, headed towards Lois.

"Maybe that's because he is guilty," Dan said as he walked up. "Sometimes the obvious answer…"

"Is the right one," Clark finished for him. "Yeah. I know. But you haven't met the man." He turned his attention back to Lois. "I wanted to talk to Dr. Klein's assistant, Mandy, again but she was heading out of town. It couldn't wait, I'm sorry. I had to go as soon as I left the precinct."

Lois nodded, "I understand." But her stance said otherwise. "So what did you find out from Mandy?"

"Not much." Clark helped Lois take her jacket off and he laid it across his chair. "Why don't we go get set up in the conference room and we can compare notes?"

"Sounds good, Kent," Dan broke in. "I'll call my office and have them fax my case notes over." He pulled out his cell phone and began dialing as he turned away from them.

"Okay, well I'm going to use the ladies room first. One too many cups of coffee while I sat at the deli."

Lois started to turn away but Clark reached out and put one hand on her shoulder, halting her. He used his fingertips to gently pull her back towards him. "I'm sorry."

"What are you sorry for, Clark?" Lois asked a little sharply. She really did want to know. Was he just sorry that he had missed lunch or was this some kind of precursor to the rest of the things he might be sorry for?

Clark dropped his head and let out a sigh. When he looked back up into Lois's face, he could see the confusion there — the anticipation of his next words.

"Everything. I'm sorry for everything, Lois. I don't know…"

"But what does 'everything' mean?" There was an edge in her voice that cut through him. "I'm the one with amnesia, here, so I'm not exactly sure what's going on or what you're sorry for. Are you sorry that we broke up? Or are you sorry that Dan came back into my life? Maybe you're just sorry for kissing me earlier on my couch?" She said the last words just above a whisper. The look on her face tore at his heart — Dan had told her.

"No. I'm not sorry for kissing you." Clark reached for her hand but she pulled it away. He swallowed, trying to push past the breath that had caught in his throat. Not again. It couldn't fall apart like this again. He stepped in closer to her and put a hand up to her face, cupping it tenderly. "Ask me anything. I'll tell you. Anything you want to know, I promise. Just don't pull away from me." He leaned in closer to her, his lips almost touching her cheek. "Please," he whispered softly.

Lois pushed away from him and nodded towards Scardino, who was still talking on his cell phone. "Not here. Not now. Later tonight, like you promised me earlier." Her voice matched the determination in her eyes. "Right now I'm going to go to the ladies room and I'll meet you and Dan in the conference room when I get back."

Clark watched her walk part way up the ramp before she stopped and turned back to look at him. "I'm going to hold you to that promise."

He watched her until she disappeared around the corner and then he picked up his notes and went inside the conference room. Dan came inside a couple of minutes later, pocketing his phone. "Girlfriend problems, Kent?"

Clark glared at him. "Scardino, I'm warning you…"

"I'd watch myself if I were you. If you can't make up your mind where you stand with Lois," Dan pointed a finger at him, "someone might just make it up for you."

"Is that a threat?" Clark clenched and unclenched his fists. Dan had no idea who he was talking to. Clark had never picked a fight with anyone before, but he was seriously tempted right now.

"Just call it some friendly advice," Dan told him, with a smirk.

"Advice? Here's some advice for you — stay away from Lois."

Clark took another step closer as Dan opened his mouth to offer some sarcastic reply, no doubt, but they were both interrupted when Lois opened the door.

"Okay, what've we got?"


"I'm beat," Lois said, standing up to stretch. They had been at this for hours — discussing the details of Project Nirvana back when Dan had been undercover working the deal with Intergang and Knox — and they still weren't really any further along than when they had started.

Lois hated dead ends. She, Clark, and Dan had all concurred that Intergang was behind this. But how could they prove it? And who was it specifically? Was it Bill Church, Sr.? His son? Or his wife? Who was handling things?

And to what purpose? Was Intergang working with Knox on this — trying to keep him from being convicted? And how did Dr. Klein fit into the equation? Was he really innocent like Clark thought?

"Well, I'm starved," Dan grumbled, rising from his chair also. "I don't seem to remember eating anything for lunch today."

Clark frowned at him — and whose fault was that? If Dan had kept his big mouth shut, his stomach would have been full and Clark would have been on more solid ground with Lois. Sympathy was the last thing Clark was feeling for Dan right now.

"Lois, why don't you let me buy you some dinner?" Dan asked, flashing her one of those annoying smiles he had. Clark's frown would have turned into a distasteful scowl if he hadn't noticed that Lois didn't seem too happy either. That was good, wasn't it?

Dan seemed to pick up on her displeasure as well. "Kent can come too, of course."

Clark wanted to speak up and say something, but before he had a chance, Lois was already answering, "Oh that's okay, Dan. You know the old saying 'two's company, three's a crowd'."

Dan smirked at Clark and Clark clenched his fists. "So my car or yours?" Dan asked her.

"No, you don't understand," Lois began explaining, "Clark and I already have plans. I'm sorry, Dan."

Dan's face fell as he realized that she meant *he* was the third wheel, but he nodded graciously at both of them. "Sure. Maybe tomorrow night?" he asked, his voice hopeful.

"Maybe," Lois conceded, throwing a look at Clark. "G'night, Dan."

"Night, Lois… Kent." Dan gave him a half-hearted nod before departing the conference room and heading towards the elevators.

Clark stood up and followed Lois out of the conference room over to his desk. She picked up her jacket and he helped her slide it on.

"Thanks," she said softly.

"You're welcome." He wanted to say more but his voice just wouldn't cooperate with him.

"Come on," she said, heading towards the ramp. "Take me home, Clark."


Clark had wanted to fly Lois home. It would have been so much faster. But she had insisted that she didn't want to leave her Jeep again. She would need it for her doctor appointment in the morning.

He had attempted to begin his apology to her in the parking garage but she had insisted that they wait to discuss things until they got to her apartment. She said the parking garage wasn't the place to have that kind of delicate discussion and she didn't want to talk about it while she drove, either. She wanted him to have her full attention.

So Clark had waited, quietly composed on the outside, while his doubt gnawed at him from the inside.

But now that they were here, at her apartment, Clark wasn't sure how to begin. Should he just start talking? Spill everything, all at once? Should he let her do the talking? Ask the questions?

They walked inside the apartment building and Clark watched her eye the door to the stairwell. A small smile touched her lips but it was gone before it started.

They entered the stairwell and the clack of the door shutting behind them was the only sound besides the rattle of keys as Lois pulled them from her purse. Clark couldn't wait any longer. If he had to climb five flights of stairs in silence, he was going to go crazy.

Lois looked up at him and smiled timidly. "This time I…" Without a word, Clark scooped her into his arms and flew her up the stairs and inside her apartment. "…have my keys," she finished, taking in a short little breath as Clark handed her keys back to her.

They stood in an awkward silence for a few seconds, neither one looking at the other.

"Clark, I'm not sure…" "Lois, I should…"

"Go ahead," Clark told her.

Lois set her purse and journal down on the floor and then she cleared her throat. "I'm not sure exactly what's going on, but I have to know why you pretended we were still together… because, according to Dan, we're not. Or was that a lie?" Who had been lying? Clark or Dan? Lois was afraid to hear Clark's answer. She wrung her hands nervously.

Clark ran a hand through his hair. "You must have told Dan that we weren't together last night when you had dinner with him." He sighed softly. "It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't entirely the truth, either."

Lois could feel a lump beginning in her throat. "If it wasn't a lie, then it's the truth. It can't be both."

Clark moved closed to her. "You don't understand. It's complicated. There's a lot more…"

Lois stepped away from him and sat down on her loveseat. "So what more is there? What explanation do you have for me?" And you had better make it good, Clark, she begged silently.

"Lois, we weren't together because of a mistake I made," he said as he came over to sit down beside her. "Because of a stupid decision that I made without talking with you first. I would give anything to take it back, make it right, and last night you decided to give me that chance."

She raised an eyebrow at him in disbelief, but then Clark could see the realization hit her. "My journal. I edited my journal."

He nodded at her.

She shook her head. "But since you haven't been honest with me, how am I supposed to believe you now?"

Clark reached into his inside coat pocket. "You don't have to believe me. I had hoped you would. But maybe you'll believe yourself." He handed her the folded up, wrinkled note and sat down beside her.

Lois unfolded the note carefully and looked down at the words written on it.

Do you want a second chance? Prove it to me tomorrow. I'm editing my journal. — Lois

The words were there in black and white, in her own handwriting.

Clark took the note from her and set it on the coffee table and then took her hands in his. "I'm sorry, Lois. I wanted to do this right. I just…" He shook his head softly. "I should have just come clean with you first thing this morning. But you have no idea how wonderful it was to see you smile again, to feel your touch… to kiss your lips. I was so afraid of losing that."

He forced himself to look into her eyes as he spoke to her — even though it hurt him to see the pain in her eyes. Please, Lois, his mind begged her. At least she hadn't pulled away from him.

When she didn't say anything, he continued, "I wasn't sure what you wanted me to do. I was so worried about doing something or saying something that could wreck everything that I ended up making a mess of things anyway by saying nothing."

She was still watching him, silently judging him. "Please, say something," he begged her quietly.

"I'm still willing to give you a second chance, Clark. So here it is. Tell me everything."


Clark waited. It had been a couple of minutes since he had finished talking. So far, Lois hadn't said anything. She had a distant look on her face as she contemplated everything he had told her. Sometime during his confession, he had stood up and started pacing back and forth as he spoke to her. She had just sat quietly, watching him and listening.

He was trying to be patient. He knew it was a lot to take in, all at once. But the longer she went without saying anything, the more concerned he became. It felt like he had a chunk of Kryptonite in his stomach that was slowly burning a hole through him from the inside out. The discomfort inside him made him want to sit, but he was too restless to sit. He just stood there in front of her, waiting for her judgment.

His mind kept repeating one word, over and over — please. It repeated like some strange chorus in the back of his mind. It became so loud, so insistent, that he finally spoke it. "Please."

The word seemed to shake her out of her thoughts and she looked up at him.

"Please, Lois." He knelt down in front of her and took her hands in his. "Please forgive me. I can't lose you. I can't live without you." He dropped his head, almost laying it in her lap. "I'm sorry," he murmured.

He heard a gentle sigh escape her lips, and then, "I'm sorry, too."

His heart constricted in his chest. She couldn't forgive him. He wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn't come. He had lost her and it was his fault. He wanted to stand up, move away from her, but his body wouldn't cooperate. A weakness had settled inside him that prevented him from moving.

And then…

…he felt her hands as they threaded gently into his hair. He raised his head to look at her and she smiled at him.

"I forgive you, Clark." Lois rubbed a hand gently over his cheek, trying to reassure him. She didn't think she had ever seen him this frightened before, not even in the face of Kryptonite.

She was upset — she couldn't lie to herself about that. It would be very easy to be angry with him, be stubborn and refuse to forgive him — she'd obviously done that very thing the first couple of times he had told her.

But there was one very big difference.

He hadn't admitted he was wrong and asked her to forgive him before. And, after everything she had learned about herself and about Clark today, she *wanted* to forgive him. If she couldn't forgive him then what did she have to look forward to each morning? The realization that she was going to have to relive that awful memory over and over again because she couldn't get past it?

Clark loved her, she knew that. And she knew that he was sorry and that he knew he had been wrong. She believed him. And that's all that really mattered. Almost… "You have to promise me, though, that from now on we make our decisions together, Clark. That's what couples do. They discuss things and decide the best course — together."

He nodded his head at her as the relief poured through his face. She stroked his cheek lightly again with her hand and cupped his face tenderly before continuing, "And you have to promise that you will never do something like that to me again. I don't think my heart could take it."

He shook his head as he got up to sit next to her. "Never. I'm never going to push you away again and I'm never going to let you go. I can't."

His words touched her deeply but they frightened her a little, too. If her condition didn't improve… "I may have been missing some memories when I woke up this morning, but I think I might have learned more today than I lost."

Clark had taken one of her hands in his and turned it over, palm up. He brought it up to his lips and began kissing it softly. "What do you mean?"

"When I thought about you getting shot at last night it frightened me. It scared me because I realized that while a regular bullet can't kill Superman, it can kill Clark. I thought about you lying on the floor of that nightclub when Clyde Barrows shot you." She swallowed, her throat feeling tight, and she took a couple of quick breaths.

The pain of losing Clark that night was still so vivid, it was like it happened yesterday. She could see his limp body lying there. She could remember thinking that he would never be there to comfort her again, tease her in his playful way, or give her strength when she needed it.

She never wanted to experience that again. "So I understand your fear of losing me but, Clark, you can't take that all upon yourself. You can't control everything and everyone. I don't even want to think about where I would be today if it weren't for you." She brushed a lock of hair from his forehead. "I need you."

He smiled softly at her before pulling her to him to kiss her. "I need you." He kissed her again, more deeply this time.

When Lois pulled away to catch her breath she whispered, "I know. But you have to be able to let me go, too."

Clark leaned away to look into her eyes. "What do you mean?"

Lois dropped her eyes, unable to meet his gaze. "I think you know what I mean." She squeezed the hand that was still holding hers. "I love you too much to let you waste your life, Clark. If it turns out that my condition isn't reversible — if I'm not going to make new memories…"

Clark cut her off with another kiss, and then he murmured against her lips, "No. Don't say it." He moved his lips down to her neck and kissed her softly, moving up to her ear. "You know I can't do that. I can't."

"Clark, I don't want…"

"No," he said a little louder before he kissed her again. He drew from her lips long and forcefully, stealing her breath so she couldn't say it. "No," he murmured again as his lips trailed a path of kisses down her neck.

His hands brushed lightly over her shoulders and down her arms as he kissed her, finally taking a hold of her and pulling her to him. "I'll never let you go again," he whispered. He pressed his lips to hers and took a taste of her with his tongue. Lois parted her lips in invitation and Clark explored her deeper.

Lois couldn't think. Her mind swam with his kisses and her lack of oxygen, and she was slowly drowning in them. She couldn't argue with him anymore. "There's no one I would rather forget myself with," she admitted, before kissing him back.

"Not even Dan?" he teased lightly.

Lois pulled away, her face serious. "I chose you, Clark. There's only you." She swung one leg around him and sat on his lap, straddling him with one knee on either side of him. "Only you," she repeated before hungrily seeking his lips again.

Her actions caught Clark by surprise, and he sank back into the couch from the force of her kiss. He braced himself against her — vying for control of the kiss — as he put his hands on her legs, just above her knees. The smooth skin he found there took his breath in equal measures with her kiss. Lois usually wore pantyhose with a skirt this length. "Bare is beautiful?" he murmured against her lips.

"Mmm…" She broke from his lips long enough to mumble the words, "gotta runner in them." Clark wondered briefly if the runner had happened during their make-out session earlier; but then she was kissing him again and he couldn't think of anything else. Clark slid one hand up a little higher on her leg and was rewarded by a moan of approval. He thrilled at the thought that this was the second time today that he was making out on Lois's loveseat with her. Is this what the person who had come up with the term 'loveseat' had envisioned?


He slid his hands beneath the edge of her shirt and lifted it until he felt her silky smooth skin under his fingers. He moved his fingertips in slow circles over the skin of her back and delighted when he felt her skin rise up at his touch.

"Clark," she said his name breathily as she kissed his neck just under his chin. "Did you…" another kiss, on his jaw, "happen to…" a kiss to his cheek, "leave the suit behind again," she managed to get out before she took a playful nip of his ear.

"No," he groaned as she pulled his shirt free from his pants.

Lois lifted the shirt high enough to uncover the spandex underneath before sliding her hands along the slick material, relishing the tremble she felt from him at her touch. "So how fast can we get this off?"

Clark was shaken by how low and husky her voice was. She wanted more. More than he could give her right now. He wanted this as much, if not more, than she did. But not like this.

When they decided to become intimate, he wanted it to be something special. The perfect moment. One that neither of them would…


It couldn't happen this way. He loved kissing her, touching her, holding her… but it couldn't go any further. Not right now. Not like this.


"Mmmm…" She lost the rest of his words in another kiss.

"Lois…" he tried again.

She kissed him again. "Yes," she murmured against his mouth as she started undoing the buttons on his shirt.

"Honey, wait. Please. You have no idea how much…"

"What?" she whispered hoarsely. She leaned back, her hands dropping from his shirt. "What did you just say?" Lois knew what he had just said — what he had just called her. The word had burned through her, leaving a warm liquid path in its wake. She wanted to hear him say it again.

"Wait," he panted. "We should wait."

"No, besides the 'wait', what else did you say?"

"I…" He was suffering from a serious loss of blood to his brain and she was going to grill him on his exact words? "Honey?"

"Again," she beseeched him, settling herself in his lap. She ran her hands around his neck and pulled him to her. "Again, please."

"Honey," he said in a breathless groan.

"Yes, Clark…"

Clark tipped his head back and closed his eyes, trying to regain his focus. "What would you say if I asked if I could just hold you tonight?"

She laughed softly against his chest. "All night?" She squeezed against him with her thighs. "Is that what you really want?"

"Oh… I… For tonight, just for tonight." He could almost die happy if she would just let him hold her in his arms tonight.

Lois leaned away from him and looked into his eyes. "You're serious," she said, her voice betraying her surprise.

"Yes, I am. Lois, if everything holds true, you're going to wake up in the morning with no knowledge of what happened tonight — except for what you write in your journal. Every thought you've had today, every feeling you've felt… will be gone." He reached up with one hand and brushed a couple of stray hairs from her eyes. "I want to hold you in my arms and have you tell me everything about your day today. Everything you thought about, dreamt about… every feeling you experienced. I want to hold on to those memories for you and keep them safe until you remember them again."

Lois's eyes teared up as she smiled at him. "You know, just when I think I know everything about you, you take my breath away with something else." She wiped at her eyes and sniffed a little. "How did we ever meet?"

Clark smiled and tried to lighten the mood. "I blame Perry." He laughed lightly when she smacked his arm.

"I'm being serious," she said, giving him a squeeze.

"I know," Clark said softly, smiling at her. He easily lifted her up from his lap and set her down on the loveseat. Only one thing could make this night more extraordinary, more memorable than it already was. It was time. There were no more excuses — no more reasons to wait. Reaching inside his coat, he dropped down to one knee beneath her and brought out the ring box. "So am I."

Lois's breath caught as she watched him reach into the box and take out the ring — her ring. "Marry me, Lois. I want to spend my life with the woman who completes me, who has made me the man I am today. We've made so many wonderful memories together — enough to last a lifetime. Marry me." Clark held his breath as he watched delicate tears spill from her eyes.

"Yes. Oh, yes, Clark."


Clark knew if there were a heaven on Earth, he'd found it. He and Lois had retired to her bedroom to find a more comfortable place to talk. And talking wasn't all they had done. Clark felt the warmth in his face as he thought about kissing her and touching her.

They had shared so much. He had held her in his arms on her bed while they told each other of the revelations they'd had about one another that day.

Part of him wished the night would never end, that she didn't have to go to sleep and wake up in the morning to start all over again. The thought made his chest ache. How could he explain all of this to her?

He would find a way. He had to. If he had to tell her every morning for the rest of her life, he was going to.

Lois was almost asleep — Clark found himself supporting more of her weight as she relaxed against him, and her eyes had long since closed.

"Lois…? Honey?" He smiled as he tried out the name again. "You need to wake up."

She shifted a little, turning on her side and snuggling into his chest — a position more conducive for falling asleep. "In a minute," she mumbled.

Lois wasn't going to fall asleep. But she couldn't bring herself to get up either. It was so amazingly comfortable to lie here in Clark's arms. Lois had changed into some flannel pajamas and Clark had made a quick trip home while Lois changed clothes. When she opened her bedroom door, he had been waiting for her in a pair of sleep shorts and a cotton t-shirt. She didn't think he could have looked sexier.

Well, maybe…

Maybe if he had chosen not to wear a shirt at all. But she didn't think she could have laid in his arms, against his bare chest, and still have been able to have a coherent conversation. So maybe it was best that he'd worn the shirt.

She could still remember the time he'd answered his door in nothing but a towel, leaving very little to the imagination. How could she have been so blind? She had seen that chest in all its naked glory. The smooth perfection of his skin and the way his muscles had flexed and rippled as he had walked to the bathroom to put on some clothes. Yes, she could still see it vividly in her mind, and she looked forward to seeing more of it — much more. But tonight, for him to hold her in his arms and talk about their future life together, that was enough.

No, not quite enough. If she could lie here just a little longer in his arms, *that* would be enough. Just a few more minutes…

Clark closed his eyes and stroked her hair softly, memorizing everything about this moment. "I know you're tired, but you still need to write in your journal." He couldn't let her fall asleep before she wrote her memories down. For one thing, she had asked him not to let that happen, and for another thing, he didn't want her to forget. "Come on, I'll carry you."

Clark slid out from behind her and picked her up in his arms, carrying her back to the living room. He set her down gently on the loveseat and then retrieved her journal from the floor — where she had set it when they'd first come in.

He held the journal out to her and she looked up at him, giving him a sleepy smile before taking it from him. "Thanks." The sparkle of the ring on her finger caught his eye as she leaned forward, reaching for the pen lying on her coffee table. Clark couldn't believe it was real — they were engaged, they were going to get married — it felt like dream.

Lois smiled mischievously at him. "You know, if you wrote these notes for me it would be a lot faster… and we could get back to more important things…"

"Mmm, true." He flashed her a grin. "But will you believe them in the morning if I write them?"

"I'm sure I can think of some little ending note to explain."

Clark was bending down to retrieve the pen when he heard a sound.

No, not now. Not tonight.

Lois noticed Clark perk up, like he was listening to something — and soon, she heard it too. She sat up a little straighter and wiped the sleep from her eyes. "Clark, are those police sirens?"

He sighed softly. "Yes."

She looked at him inquisitively. "Well, aren't you gonna…" She made a flying motion with her hand.

"Yeah." He stood up from the couch and then turned to face her. "But I've never hated to leave you as much as I do right now." He bent down and kissed her softly. "I'll be back as soon as I can." He paused to kiss her again. "I love you."

"I know." She smiled. "I love you, too. I'll be waiting for you."

He went to her window and picked up a familiar red and blue bundle from the floor. He spun into his suit and in the blink of an eye he was standing in front of her — his cape billowing behind him from the window he had opened in the process.

He was holding something out to her.

She took it from him and realized it was his t-shirt and sleep shorts.

"I'll be back as soon as I can."


It had been almost an hour and Clark still wasn't back yet. Lois had been writing feverishly in her journal trying to capture everything she had learned and experienced today — tonight. But now her hand was cramping and her eyes were tired. She needed a break.

Picking up her TV remote, she turned the TV on and started flipping through the news channels hoping to find out what Clark had gone to help out with. It must have been big.

She soon had her answer.

She wasn't sure what the police sirens had been about or what he had initially gone to help with but, right now, he was in Japan. A fault-line there had suffered a major earthquake just minutes earlier. Initial reports had it coming in at seven-point-three on the Richter scale. And that wasn't counting the after-shocks they would no doubt suffer.

Apparently, right now, what they were most concerned about was that the portion of the fault-line that had been affected ran under the ocean floor. The initial earthquake didn't seem to have caused any seismic activity in the ocean so far, but that could change as the after-shocks began to hit.

Superman was there, helping out where he could and waiting to see what was still to come. The extent of the damage wasn't yet known. It looked like Clark could end up being over there most of the night.

Lois let out a sigh. This is what she had been thinking about earlier — having to share him with the world. She reached up and touched her lips, remembering the way he had kissed her and held her… remembering how much he loved her. The sparkle from her ring caught her eye and a delighted shiver ran through her.

Her initial thought had been right. It was worth it — he was worth it.

A hard yawn caught her and she stretched through the end of it. She was so tired. But she wasn't going to fall asleep, not until Clark got back. Part of her wondered if she could just take a little nap. Did she have to get into deep REM sleep before she lost her memories? Her journal said that Dr. Peterson thought it happened during sleep when the brain was trying to convert short-term memories to long-term. Maybe if she just took a short catnap she would be okay?

No. It wasn't worth the risk.

In fact, part of her wanted to just stay up all night. Maybe if she never went to sleep she wouldn't lose her memories?

She frowned. It was a nice thought, but she could only go without sleep for so long. She would make it tonight though. She had to. She wanted to see Clark again before the memories were gone.

Lois went into her kitchen and got out her coffee and a filter. If she was going to stay up, she was going to need caffeine. She started the coffee pot and then went back to the living room to sit down and review what she had written in her journal.

After a few minutes of reviewing her notes and not thinking of anything she needed to add, her eyes drifted over to her memory box on the coffee table. She picked it up and sat it on her lap. The Nirvana notes that Clark had laid inside caught her eye first.

She pulled the notes and bottle from the box before setting it down on the floor. She set the bottle on the coffee table and then eased back into her loveseat to see if she could make any sense out of the notes.

They might as well have been written in Chinese. She couldn't make heads or tails out of them. Perhaps because of her father, she hadn't had much interest in science — particularly medicine. So she doubted that she was going to find anything particularly useful by continuing to stare at the gibberish on the notes.

She was just about to drop the notes back into the box when one sentence caught her attention.

'The chemical reaction causes a honey color to develop in the liquid.'

Honey color? Why did that seem so familiar? She closed her eyes, grasping at the memory that was trying to elude her. Honey…

What was it?

Maybe she was just thinking about Clark using that word earlier. Lois smiled and felt a little thrill at the thought of him calling her 'honey'. She couldn't wait to hear him say it again.

The thought gave her a warm and fuzzy feeling that caused her to relax comfortably into the loveseat. She smiled as she glanced at the t-shirt and shorts lying next to her. The soft cotton shirt called out for her to touch it and she ran one hand across its smooth surface. She let her mind drift to Clark — wondering what he was doing right this moment… and how soon he would be back.

Lois yawned and she could feel her eyelids beginning to fall — it was time to drink some coffee. She got up and went into the kitchen and poured herself a cup. As she took her first warming drink, she glanced at the 'to do' list on her refrigerator door. It was also time for her to take her medicine. She'd better do it before she forgot.

She went into her bathroom and opened her medicine cabinet. She located the brown plastic pill bottle and opened it. It felt light. She looked inside and realized there was only one capsule left. Well, it was just a sample, she reasoned, Dr. Peterson would probably give her a refill tomorrow. She tipped the bottle upside down and shook the last liquid-filled capsule into the palm of her hand.

A honey colored capsule.

The room felt like it was spinning and Lois grabbed for the counter in front of her to steady herself.

Images flashed through her mind. She was at STAR Labs. Dr. Klein was standing in his laboratory, holding a glass beaker of liquid. He swirled it around and stuck a dropper down into the liquid. It was honey colored. He was telling her and Clark about his experiments with Nirvana.

Lois let go of the counter and backed away to sit down on the side of her tub.


No, it couldn't be. And yet, it would explain so much.

She needed to tell Clark. Lois got up from where she sat and ran to the open window in her living room. She stuck her head outside and the wind blew softly through her hair causing a few strands to dance in front of her vision. Her mouth opened, prepared to call for Superman, but after a moment's hesitation she closed it and stepped back from the window.

Clark was halfway around the world. He'd never hear her — and even if he could, it wasn't fair to call him away like that. This wasn't life or death. Those people over there needed him.

Lois turned and looked at her journal still sitting where she had left it on her loveseat. She would write everything down. That way if she did fall asleep and forget, or if the drug took over and made her forget, there would still be a record of it. As she walked towards the loveseat, she noticed Clark's clothes on the chair by the window.

Clark had obviously planned on returning.

But what if he was gone all night? What if he decided to go home first and clean up before coming back here? What if he decided not to come back here tonight because he didn't want to risk waking her up or something? Just because he had clothes here didn't mean he had to come back here. He had said he would, but if he was gone all night…

She stopped her inner monologue and took a breath. Maybe she should call his apartment and leave him a message, just in case. She didn't want to leave anything to chance.

Lois changed direction and went over to pick up her phone. She dialed Clark's number and waited for his machine to pick up. What should she say?

His friendly voice started speaking and she waited impatiently for the beep, feeling her own urgency increase in spite of his folksy charm.

"Hi, Clark? This is Lois. I'm not sure if you'll come back here first or not and this can't wait. I need you to know something about Nirvana. I was looking at Dr. Klein's notes… I think it's the drug that Dr. Peterson has me taking. I can't be sure and I know it sounds crazy but they're both the same color. I think they are, anyway. We need to have Dr. Klein take a look at the sample we have and compare it to my pills. So if you get this message before you come here… just… please come as soon as you get this. I love you. Bye."

Lois looked down at the capsule she still held in her hand. She walked over to her coffee table and grabbed the bottle of Nirvana before heading into her kitchen. She took a plate out of one cabinet and grabbed a knife before setting everything down on her counter top. Taking her capsule firmly between two fingers, she set it on the plate and sliced through it with the knife. She tipped the bottle of Nirvana just enough to dribble a small sample on the other side of the plate.

The samples looked exactly the same. She picked up the plate and held it under her nose. There wasn't much of a smell — a little bit of a medicinal smell — but they also seemed to smell the same. Part of her was tempted to stick her finger into each substance and touch it to her tongue but she knew better. The drug was far too powerful — she would never take another drop of it again.

She needed to show this to Clark when he got here. With his vision and sense of smell, he'd be able to tell even better than she would. In fact, he could probably do the taste test — it shouldn't affect *him*.

Lois put the lid back on the bottle and opened a drawer, pulling out her plastic wrap. After tearing a sheet off, she covered the plate and set it on her kitchen table. Lois grabbed the bottle from her counter, then made her way back into her living room and picked up her journal before sitting down to write in it again.

When she had finished her notations, she picked the Nirvana notes up from the couch and slid them inside her journal before closing it.

She was so tired. The initial rush of adrenaline that had coursed through her veins when she had made her discovery was long gone. And even though she had drunk a couple cups of coffee already, it didn't seem to be doing much to wake her up. Her eyes had closed and her head had nodded more than once as she had written her notes.

It would probably be a good idea to get up and pace for a little while, move around. Maybe she should get another cup of coffee…

But her mind was so hazy and her body felt so heavy that even the stiff cushions of her loveseat felt comfy. She'd close her eyes for just a minute. Only a minute.


A noise at the window and a flutter of air woke Lois from her light sleep. She looked up to see Superman lowering himself down through the open window.

"Clark! You're back!" She jumped up from the couch and ran to him, realizing part of the way there that he looked horrible. His eyes were dark and sunken, his hair was mussed from its usual swept back and gelled style, he had black smudges of soot on his skin and clothing, and there were some snags and tears in his cape.

He tried to smile at her but it fell flat and betrayed the events of the night.

"What happened?" she asked quietly, walking up and laying her hands against his chest softly. His suit was probably ruined. She didn't see how any amount of soap or chemicals were going to get those stains out. Upon closer inspection she realized that some of the dark stains bore a striking resemblance to something she'd rather not think about. "Clark? Are you okay?"

She reached out and took his hand in hers. She started to come towards him, intending to give him a hug, but he held out his hand to stop her. "I'll get you dirty."

"I'll wash later," she assured him, wanting to make contact with him.

Clark sighed softly and wrapped his arms around her, letting his chin rest on her shoulder. His body was tight and tense but as her body came in contact with his, she could feel him begin to relax. "It was bad… all those people…" his voice wasn't much above a whisper. His arms tightened their hold on her and she reached up with one hand to stroke the back of his head.

She needed to tell him about her pills… but not yet, not right now. He needed her right now. "I know," she murmured softly, "but you did all that you could. You saved as many as you could."

"But not enough. Not nearly enough. There were people trapped under rubble, pinned by furniture… crushed beneath collapsed buildings. I couldn't save them all…" His voice broke off and his body shuddered.

Wanting to comfort him, even in some small way, Lois brought her other hand up to his back and rubbed it gently as she continued to smooth her fingers through his soft locks.

"There was this one little girl… when I found her, it was too late. I had to bring her body to her parents…"

"Shhhh," she soothed. "You gave them some peace, didn't you? At least they have her body and they can give her a proper burial. It's over now, Clark. You're here. You did more than anyone else could have. You saved the lives of hundreds. Saved so many other families from that kind of grief." She gave him a soft squeeze. "It's okay. You're home now."

Is this how it would be? Being married to him? Would she have to see him come home like this, emotionally battered and drained from the things he had experienced?

Yes… but not always. There would be plenty of nights where she would simply lie in his arms and let the sound of his breathing gently lull her to sleep — let the soft caresses of his hands on her body relax her until she let go and fell asleep in his arms.

There would be those nights. But there would also be nights like tonight. Nights where she would have to be strong for him. Times when she would need to soothe and comfort him — help him find the peace to sleep.

And that's what she would do tonight. He had asked to simply hold her tonight, but the truth now was that he needed her to hold him. She would find a way to ease his spirit and quiet his thoughts. When she had successfully managed that, then she would tell him about Nirvana.

"Come on," she stepped away from him and took his hand in hers, "let's clean you up a little."

He looked like he wanted to argue, but he didn't. He didn't seem to have enough left in him to protest being led into her bedroom. She sat him down on the end of her bed and knelt down to pull of his boots.

"Lois, let me, I can do this much faster…"

"This isn't about speed," she interrupted. "Now, be quiet and let me help you, okay?" She looked up to see him smiling softly at her — his eyes glassy with emotion.

She removed his boots one at a time and set them on the floor next to her bed. It took her a few seconds to figure out how to extricate his cape from his suit but she soon had it unfastened and removed. She left it in a heap on the floor — they could decide later if he wanted to try and clean it or not.

Lois had discovered the zipper for his suit while she was working on the cape. She felt her breath catch slightly in her chest as she stood in front of him and reached around to take hold of the tab. The zipper slid smoothly down his back, guided by her fingers, until it stopped near his waist. She turned around to walk away and Clark's hand came out to stop her.

"Where are you going?" he asked, his voice sounding almost like he was begging her not to leave him.

"I'll be right back. I'm just getting a washcloth." She went into her bathroom and ran a washcloth under some warm water before wringing it out and taking it back into the bedroom with her.

She touched the cloth to his face and gently wiped at the spots of soot and grime that were smudged in places. As she passed the rag over them, the golden hue of his skin began to show through once more. She moved the cloth down his neck before peeling back the suit to wipe along the edge of it.

Lois took one of his hands in hers, to pull the arm of his suit down, and that's when she saw it. The sight of it made her want to cry. Dark blacks, browns and reds were showing through from behind Clark's fingernails. He had such attractive hands — they held such unimaginable strength even though they had always been so gentle with her. She rubbed the rag over them, feeling down-heartened when she realized that some of it wasn't going to come off. It had stained him.

Oh it would come off eventually, but something about that just spoke of the things that Superman… that Clark had to carry with him on a daily basis. And yet he managed to smile that beautiful smile of his and tease her playfully at just the right time, to lift her spirits.

He was always looking out for her.

When Lois was satisfied that she had removed as many of the smudges from him as she could, she took the suit in both hands and pulled it down — sliding it off his arms and allowing it to bunch at his waist.

Climbing onto the bed, she knelt just behind him and laid her hands on his shoulders. She began to knead his tight muscles beneath her fingers. It wasn't long before she became tired from her ministrations.

Giving up her massage, which probably wasn't accomplishing a whole lot, she moved closer to him. She wrapped her arms around him, pressing her body against his and letting her hands drape across his chest. She felt his pectoral muscles with the tips of her fingers, tracing out the contour of them. His body trembled beneath her touch.


"Shhh." She pressed her lips to the back of his neck and kissed him softly. She then began moving her lips down his back, kissing each vertebrae as she moved lower. She delighted in the way his body reacted. He shivered slightly at the press of her lips to his skin and arched into the touch of her hands.

As she began to work her way back up his body, he turned around to look at her. The tension had eased from his face and he wore a faint smile. "I should get a shower," he murmured.

She nodded at him, understanding that he needed the shower more for a mental cleansing than an actual physical one. Lois watched him as he walked into her bathroom, noticing that he didn't close the door behind him.

She wouldn't disturb his shower. She would put her time to better use. The sound of water began to fill the silence in her bedroom and she walked over to her dresser, opening one of the drawers. She pulled out a light blue, silky nightgown and changed out of her flannel pajamas that now shared the smudges he had worn on his suit.

She then turned her attention to the bed, removing the decorator pillows and a small black and white teddy bear before pulling back the comforter. At first glance, someone might think it was a little childish to keep a teddy bear on her bed. She was a grown woman, after all. But what they wouldn't know is who had given that bear to her. She wondered if he remembered it.

She was sure he did.

After a few more seconds, she heard the water turn off and then she heard his voice call softly from the bathroom, "Lois?"

She walked over to the bathroom door and peeked inside tentatively. Clark was standing there with a towel wrapped around his waist; his skin glistening with the moisture he hadn't completely toweled off. A few locks of hair hung loosely over his forehead and Lois couldn't remember a time when he had looked more delicious. He looked very much like he had the day she had come to his hotel room and he had answered the door in nothing but a towel.

But he looked even better this time. At first she wondered if the difference was that he wasn't wearing his glasses. But, no, that wasn't it. What made him even more beautiful was *knowing* him. Before, he had just been some rookie reporter with a good body. Now… Now he was Clark Kent — her best friend, her partner, and her fiancé.

That made him so damn desirable that she couldn't take her eyes off of him. She walked over to him and reached out, laying her hands softly against the taut muscles of his chest and abdomen.

"I didn't have anything to change into," he told her quietly, raising one hand to caress her upper arm softly. His touch sent ripples of desire through her. "I left my clothes in your living room."

She nodded at him. But she didn't make a move to go get them for him. Instead she stepped closer to him, wrapping her arms around him and leaning up to kiss his neck at the curve of his shoulder.

He let out a soft hiss as her lips met with his skin. She smiled at his reaction and then sucked tenderly at the soft skin. His skin was still hot from his shower. Her mind paused to contemplate the fact that he had taken such a hot shower. It sent a delighted shiver through her.

Clark enclosed her body in his arms and ran one hand up her back and into her hair. "Thank you, Lois. You have no idea how it feels to have someone to come home to."

His words brought tears to her eyes. He needed this, he needed her, more than she had ever realized. How many nights had he had to deal with some tragedy only to go home to an empty apartment and a cold bed?

She knew he had his parents — but somehow she doubted that he went home to Kansas every time he had a tough night. He just swallowed his feelings and found a way to move on — to wake up the next day and start over.

"Clark, I'm so sorry." She pulled away from his neck to find his mouth. She kissed him long and deeply. "Let me help you to relax — let me help you…" she murmured before kissing him again.

He broke their kiss and pulled away to look at her, understanding dawning on his face. "No, Lois. I can't… We can't… It wouldn't be fair to you."



"You promised you wouldn't make any decisions on your own again. You promised that you would always discuss them with me."

"I know, but…"

"I want this. I may not remember it tomorrow, but you don't know that. And even if I forget it, you'll remember… and you can help me remember it again." She smiled mischievously at him.

"Honey…" he protested before she covered his mouth again with hers. There was that word again — honey — reminding her that she had something important to tell him. She couldn't stop herself and she let out a small shudder as she thought about how she had been used — been drugged. Her life had been turned upside down, nearly ruined. The men responsible for this were going to answer to her.

Clark pulled away from her lips. "Lois? Sweetheart, what's wrong?" His concerned face brought her back to realty and she forced a smile onto her face. She had to tell him but not yet. Not now.

"Ask me again later… it's not important right now." She attempted to pull him into another kiss, but he resisted.

"Of course it is. Every feeling, every thought you have is important to me." He was looking at her with such tender love in his eyes that it threatened to overcome her.

She sighed softly. "I know that, Clark. But you're important to me and I want… oooh…"

She was interrupted as Clark scooped her up into his arms. "I want you to relax," he interrupted. "Let me get you something chocolate and then you can tell me what's bothering you."


Lois wasn't sure exactly what had awakened her from her dream, but something had. And when she opened her eyes and realized it had only been a dream, she grieved the loss of it. Having Clark in a dream was better than not having him at all — and from the looks of things, he still wasn't back yet.

She reached up and tried to rub the sleep from her eyes, squinting at the clock over on her desk. She had only been asleep for about thirty minutes but it felt like hours.

Lois concentrated on what she could remember. Had she forgotten anything yet? She didn't think so, but she couldn't exactly seem to remember anything right now either — anything other than the dream that had just been interrupted. Maybe if she went right back to sleep the dream would be there, waiting for her?

No. No, that wasn't a good idea. Lois was even more determined now that she wanted to stay awake until Clark got back. She had to see him. Her heart twinged — what was he going through right now?

She glanced down at her left hand and smiled at the twinkle from her diamond when she wiggled her finger. No. She definitely hadn't forgotten. If anything, she knew more now than before she had gone to sleep. She had learned something from her dream.

It hadn't been real, but yet, in its own way, it was. She knew without a doubt that was how Clark would be — in every aspect of their lives. She might have to share him with the world, but he would always try to put her first — even above himself and his own needs.

Lois realized now that even when he had made the huge mistake of breaking up with her it had been because he loved her, because he valued her safety above his own happiness. She knew if it came right down to it that he would even give his life for her. That thought scared her. The world needed him. And not just Superman — the world needed Clark Kent.

A noise outside brought her out of her musings. Her heart leaped — Clark was back! She started to jump up from the couch but stopped when her brain finally caught up with her body and realized it wouldn't have been Clark. Clark would have been through her window and inside her apartment without so much as a sound.

Then who? Could it have been Dan? No. Surely not. He had tried that little stunt once before, only to have met an uncomfortable fate at the end of her plunger. Besides, Dan had only come through her window because she hadn't answered her door — and no one had knocked at her door.

There it was again… Another noise. It sounded like someone coming up the fire escape out her window. Out of a protective instinct, Lois shoved her journal under the seat cushion as she got up.

Remembering the window was still open, she ran over to close it and found herself face to face with a man in a black ski mask. She stumbled backwards and grabbed for the first thing she saw — a lamp sitting to one side of the window.

As she hurled the lamp at her attacker he lunged forward knocking them both to the floor.

She felt a sharp pain in her arm and then everything went black.


A loud pounding sound gradually woke Lois from her sleep. She cracked her eyes open against the morning sunlight filtering in through the open window.

As the fogginess in her brain cleared, Lois realized she had a horribly uncomfortable crick in her neck and an equally unfriendly pounding inside her head. She chanced opening her eyes wider, only to be greeted with unfamiliar sights.

Instead of her comfortable bed with her soft feather pillow and warm comforter, she found herself lying on something hard and unyielding — and her feet and hands were freezing.

Was she on the floor?

She blinked a couple of times. Yes, she was on the floor next to her coffee table. She stared at the leg of the table in front of her — it had a few scratches on it where she'd been a little too liberal with her broom and dustpan. Lois scowled — obviously that had been a while back. She really needed to get down to this level more often, the dust bunnies were atrocious.

Grabbing onto the table with one hand, she attempted to pull herself up into a sitting position. She was rewarded for her efforts with a renewed and increased pounding in her head.

What in the world had she been doing on the floor? Had she slept there all night? She couldn't seem to remember. She pulled herself up further and attempted to stand, before sitting down quickly on her loveseat when she got lightheaded from the room tilting at strange angles.

She took a couple of deep breaths and looked around. The place was a mess. There were papers and odds and ends all over the place. Her eyes stopped on a box lying upside down on her floor. She recognized that box — it was her memory box. It had been unceremoniously relieved of its contents — which had been scattered across the floor — and then dumped to the side. She hadn't done that, had she? When had she taken it from the closet? Oh geez, had she become maudlin last night and decided to take a trip down memory lane? Lois tried, but couldn't remember taking the box from her closet. Had she been drinking? Was that the reason for the headache — she was hungover?

So what had happened? She tried to think but her mind skittered away from remembering anything. It had been something bad — she could feel it. Something terrible had happened.

Lois stood up slowly, wincing as her muscles protested, and began to make her way through the rest of her apartment to survey the damage — starting with her bedroom.

Her bed had been turned down, but it didn't appear to have been slept in. Other than that, her bedroom seemed to be in order — it didn't have the mess in it that her living room did.

Had she been in her living room going through her memory box when she had fallen asleep? Maybe the box had fallen off the couch to the floor? Or maybe when *she* had fallen to the floor she had dumped the box and that's why stuff was all over the floor?

Yeah, right. She was a light sleeper. She would have heard the commotion, and certainly the jarring fall to the floor would have woken her up. Not to mention the fact that simply falling to the floor wouldn't have scattered the box's contents like this.

So why couldn't she remember what had happened? Lois reached up and felt the side of her head. There was a bump there and the flesh was tender. Maybe she had hit her head somehow and passed out?

She was on her way to a mirror to inspect the bruise, when she heard a noise coming from the living room. Lois moved quietly to her bedroom doorway and peeked into the living room.

A man was breaking into her apartment!

There was a dark-haired man climbing through her living room window. Lois glanced around her bedroom and her eyes fell on the bulky crystal candlestick on her dresser. She picked it up and hefted its solid weight in her hand before holding it slightly over her head in an attack position.

She peered back out her doorway. The man had made it inside her apartment and was looking around cautiously. "Lois?" the man called out. Lois frowned — he actually had the gall to try and lure her back into the living room? What had he come back for?

Bring it on, she thought at him.

She stepped back into the shadows and patiently held her ground as he made his way through her living room towards her bedroom door. When he was close enough that she could hear his breathing, she jumped out from her hiding spot with a triumphant yell and brought the candlestick down hard — smacking him across the head with it.

"Lo…" was all the man managed to say before falling to the floor with a heavy thud.


Clark was almost back to Metropolis. It had been a horribly long night but, all-in-all, things had gone well. His help had gone a long way towards keeping property damage and loss of life to a minimum.

Earthquakes were never easy. When the first wave hit — what didn't topple was loosened for the impending aftershocks — fractures in foundations, cracks in bridges and dams…

Clark was just glad it was over. He was ready to get back to Lois. When he had originally left her last night, it had been for a simple armed robbery. He hadn't realized an earthquake was on its way and he was going to be gone for the rest of the evening.

Lois had said that she'd wait for him. A small part of him hoped that she had. He knew if she had gone to sleep that he was going to have to spend some time reacquainting her with reality. If she had stayed up last night, though, there was a chance that she would still remember everything that had happened.

But if she had stayed up, he would feel like a heel for having been gone all night and making her wait. No. No, he hoped she had gotten some restful sleep.

Clark had just changed his flight path to head towards her apartment when he heard a yell he would have known anywhere. Not only was Lois awake, something was going on. Clark poured on the speed and raced to get to her side.


Lois looked down at the man she had hit over the head. Who was this lunatic? How dare he break-in on her like this! She bent down over him nervously, the candlestick at the ready in case he so much as twitched. There was a familiar whooshing sound at her living room window and she let out a relieved breath. She hurried into the next room to see Superman standing there.

"Lois? Honey, are you okay?" he asked as he came towards her.

Lois lowered the candlestick sheepishly as she replied, "Yeah, I'm okay." Then her mind did a double-take — had he just called her 'honey'? She was caught even more by surprise when he took her in his arms.

"What happened?" he asked softly. His mouth was close to her ear — so close that she could feel the heat from his breath.

Oh, god. If this was a dream she hoped she never woke up. "Someone broke into my apartment. I went after him with this," she pulled away slightly to hold up her candlestick like a trophy.

Clark peered into her bedroom and saw a man's body lying motionless, facedown on the floor. He was still breathing and Clark fought a little smile at the thought that the man deserved everything he'd just received.

He looked back at Lois. Her eyes sparkled at him invitingly. Her cheeks were flushed with excitement — had she stayed awake all night waiting for him? He wanted to hold her and kiss her more than anything in the world right now. One quick hug — and then he would check on her intruder.

Clark eased the candlestick out of her grasp, setting it on the floor, and then took hold of her shoulders, pulling her to him again just to feel her body against his. "I'm glad you're okay. Sorry it took me so long."

Took him so long? He had gotten here mere seconds after she had yelled. That was a pretty prompt response if you asked her. She was going to mention that when all her thought processes were brought to an abrupt halt by his lips.

She felt his breath against her neck just a fraction of a second before his mouth pressed tenderly against her skin, his lips moving in a fluttering kiss that sent a spike of heat straight through her. His arms tightened around her as his lips moved along her throat. Oh god, it was a thousand dreams come true. If she had known that Superman was going to show up here this morning and do *this*, she would have worn some better pajamas.

"Really, Superman, I'm okay," she weakly assured him, her mouth finding the audacity to brush against his when his head lifted.

Clark gave himself over to her lips and was about to respond with a kiss of his own when he realized what she had just said. Had she just called him Superman?

Then again, she did have an intruder lying on the floor of her bedroom. It was probably better to address him as Superman and not Clark — just in case.

Her intruder could wake up at any second so Clark pushed the thought from his mind and kissed her back quickly. He slid his hands up her back after the kiss ended, holding her firmly against him, not yet willing to let go of her. In his peripheral vision he could see the man in her bedroom was still motionless. After one last squeeze, Clark pulled away from her and gave her a playful grin. "Okay, if you're sure you're all right. Although a more in-depth examination might not be out of the question once we've taken care of him," he teased, tilting his head to indicate the man on her floor.

Lois's heart fluttered erratically at the low tone of his voice and the unmistakable gleam in his eye. Superman was coming on to her. This was flirting with intent. He had never done anything like this before… well maybe a little, but nothing so bold or blatant as this. She felt woozy and absolutely certain that she was going to wake up at any moment now.

Clark sighed and finally released her from his arms. "I guess I'd better go check on your intruder," he said reluctantly. Since the guy was passed out on the floor, there wasn't really any need for him to apprehend him as Superman. All Clark needed to do was find something to tie him up with. He had been in this suit all night. It was dirty and frankly he was a little tired of wearing it… Plus, he had clean clothes that he had left here last night. "But first, I want to get out of this suit."

Lois let out a small gasp. He was going to take the suit off? Oh. My. God! A small part of her mind wondered why, but it was quickly overcome by the part of her brain that simply didn't care. She watched him walk over to the chair by her window and grab something off of it. When he turned, she could see what it was.

Clothes! A suit — a real suit!

How odd. Had those clothes been there all along? Or had Superman brought them with him? Why would he have brought clothes with him?

And… a suit? Really? Who knew? She was learning so much about him this morning.

Lois watched in fascination as Superman began to spin in front of her eyes. One moment he was wearing his red and blue suit and the next minute she could see that he was fully clothed in a charcoal grey suit with a white dress shirt — though she couldn't quite make out the tie yet.

The spinning abruptly stopped and Lois stood there, her mouth gaped open, as Clark put on his glasses and smiled at her. She finally found her voice after a couple of seconds. "Y… yo…" She backed up a few steps, moving into her kitchen. How could he have hidden this from her? How could she have been so stupid not to have figured it out before? How could he have kissed her like that? He had been so… familiar with her, so different from the last hesitant kiss he had given her. "Yo… you fake… backstabbing… liar! You're… you're…"

When Lois had first gaped at him, Clark had thought it was just because she still wasn't used to seeing him spin out of his suit like that. He belatedly realized there was a much bigger problem. "Lois, don't you remember who I am?" Even if she hadn't read her journal yet, she should still remember that Clark was Superman — she had at least retained that memory through all of this.

Lois began to back away further, holding her left hand out in front of her as if to somehow keep him back. "Remember who you are?" she all but screamed. "Which one is really you?"

Clark's panic level had shot through the roof. "Lois, honey, calm down…"

"Honey!" she sputtered. "I'm not…" A sparkling glint from her outstretched hand caught her eye and she glanced down at it in disbelief.

She had an engagement ring on. How had she not noticed that before? Where the hell…?

A moaning coming from her bedroom caught both of their attention. Clark motioned for her to stay where she was. "Let me go in and check on him."

Lois nodded at him, too dumbstruck by everything that was happening to argue. She moved out of the way and let him pass her to go inside her bedroom.

"Lois! Did you not look at him before you attacked him?" And then he got a strange look on his face. "Wait — what did he do to you?"

Huh? Lois walked into the bedroom as Clark knelt down to examine her attacker. "What do you mean what did he do to me? He broke into my apartment. He was going to attack me! Excuse me for not taking the time to interview the guy first. What did you expect me to do?"

"Attack you? What do you mean?" There was that odd expression on his face again — Lois didn't know what to make of it. Irritation? Anger?

Just then, the man's eyes opened and he winced as he looked up at Lois. "Geez, Lois, a plunger's one thing — what are you trying to do, kill me?"

"How do you know my name?" she asked warily.

The two men exchanged worried glances. "What were you doing here, Dan?" Clark asked her attacker. Lois did a double-take. Did he just call him Dan? Clark knew this man?

"Whoa, Kent. Slow down. It's not what you think. I was not 'attacking' her… or even anything remotely like that…"

"What *were* you doing here?" Clark snapped back at him.

"I was out late last night," 'Dan' paused and glanced over at Lois before continuing, "really late. I had a couple of drinks…"

Clark motioned for him to get on with it.

"Anyway," 'Dan' continued, "when I got back to my hotel room this morning, it had been trashed. I got worried so I came over here to check on Lois. I pounded on the door, but no one answered…"

"So you thought it would be a good idea to climb down her fire escape and through her window to check on her?" Clark shook his head in disbelief. "I knew that was going to get you into trouble some day. Of all the idiotic things to do. You knew Lois was having memory problems. You shouldn't have scared her like that."

Dan frowned at him. "Hey, don't talk down to me, Kent. I was only going to take a look inside, to make sure she was okay. But when I got to her window and looked in, Lois was nowhere to be seen," he shook his head and his eyes darkened, "and the place was a mess — stuff was everywhere. I knew something was wrong."

Clark nodded, seeming appeased for the moment, and offered a hand to help Dan up. He rubbed his head gingerly once he was upright.

Lois was scowling at both of them. "Memory problems? Wait a minute — wait just one minute," she interjected. "I'm supposed to know this man? Is that the memory problem you're talking about?"

Both men just stared at her and she felt her panic increase.

She shook her head emphatically. What was Clark's game? Was being Superman not enough of a joke to play on her? "I've never seen this man before in my life! Trust me. I would remember." She sniffed in dismissal.

"What?" Dan asked, looking for all the world like a lost puppy.

Clark's stomach began to hurt. "You said your hotel room was broken into?" Dan looked away from Lois and nodded at him. "And you said when you came here this morning that the place was already trashed?" Another nod. Clark had assumed at first that the place had gotten trashed when Lois had discovered her 'intruder' — Dan — and went after him. "So that means…"

"That someone else broke in here last night," Dan finished for him. He turned to look at Lois. "Do you remember *anything* from last night?"

"Let me handle this, Dan." Clark took Lois gently by the shoulders and turned her towards him. She looked like she wanted to protest, but she didn't say anything. "You don't remember how your apartment got trashed, do you?"

She shook her head.

"Lois, this man is DEA Agent Daniel Scardino."

Lois gaped. A DEA agent? She had hit a government official over the head and knocked him unconscious? Wonderful! She was in so much trouble. Assault with a deadly weapon… well, a candlestick wasn't exactly a deadly weapon. Maybe they'd get her on assault with deadly intent…

"But that's ridiculous! How could she not remember me?" Dan interrupted. "She said she was only missing a few weeks of her memory?"

Clark held up a hand to silence him.

Lois's eyes went even wider. "Missing a few weeks of my memory! What's he talking about?"

"Just a minute, Lois. I promise to explain everything, but I need to know what we're dealing with here." Clark let out a soft sigh before asking, "What's the last thing you *do* remember?" He dreaded to hear the answer.

Lois thought hard for a few seconds. Everything seemed really hazy and jumbled up, but the last thing she remembered very clearly was…


"Oh, Clark! I'm so sorry." She reached up and laid her hand across his hand on her shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze. "The last thing I remember clearly is… Mayson… she died last night."

Clark's heart shattered. The Lois who had agreed to marry him was gone. "That's the last thing you remember? You don't remember Dan investigating Mayson's death? You don't remember Jason Mazik kidnapping my parents? You don't remember having Superman freeze you?"

Her look of confusion was answer enough. Clark let his hands fall limply from her shoulders. Even Kryptonite had never made him feel this weak before, this helpless. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them again, a note on Lois's fridge caught his attention. It was the note that she normally put on her alarm clock when she went to bed, but here it remained. That and the smell of coffee that had been left warming too long, told him that she had obviously planned to stay awake until he returned.

But then what had happened? Someone had broken in, that much was clear from the state of her living room. Was it a random act? Or had it been someone involved with Nirvana? It wouldn't do any good to ask Lois. "Dan, do you have any idea who broke into your hotel room?"

Dan shook his head. "No, but I'd bet you a month's salary that whoever it was worked for Intergang." Dan got up the nerve to move a little closer to Lois and Clark restrained himself from physically backing him up a bit. "I'm real sorry about what happened. I wish I had been here." Dan gave her arm a soft squeeze before looking up at Clark. "At this point I even wish Kent had been here… or Superman." He paused for a moment and then frowned. "Where was Superman?"

Lois gave Clark a look that could pierce steel. "I don't know. Clark, where do *you* suppose Superman was?"

Clark panicked for a brief moment, afraid in her anger at him that she might reveal a little too much to Dan. But then her eyes softened apologetically and she looked away from him. No, this might not be the Lois he had proposed to last night, but she was Lois, regardless. She would never put him in danger or compromise him by revealing anything. He caught her eyes again and tried to silently ask forgiveness as he said, "Um, I think I heard that he was in Japan assisting with the earthquake last night."

"Oh, yeah — seems like I heard something about that on the TV at the bar. I had forgotten," Dan admitted.

Lois's eyes widened as she looked back at Clark but if she was feeling any emotion, she kept it well hidden. "I'm sure if he could have been here, he would have," she said softly.

An uncomfortable silence hung in the air for a few moments and Clark sought for a way to break it. He needed to get Dan out of here so he could talk to Lois privately. "Dan, I'm going to take Lois to see Dr. Peterson about why she's had this memory relapse. Why don't you head down to the police precinct and inform Henderson about the break-in at your hotel and the break-in here? We'll meet back up with you at the Planet later."

Dan looked like he wanted to argue but he couldn't. "Sure. Take care of her. I'll catch up with you later." He walked over to Lois's door and undid the locks before opening it and making his exit.

Clark turned his nervous gaze back to Lois. He could see the fire that was still burning in her eyes, but it had lessened and was now intermingled with a look of confusion… and maybe just a little fear.

"Lois," Clark began hesitantly. "I know this must be hard to believe. I could get you a copy of today's paper so you can see the date. Or maybe I could…"

"How long?" she cut him off.

Clark shook his head. "How long?"

She sighed in disgust. "How long have I been missing my memory?"

"You've been missing parts of your memory for almost a week now, but if you're asking how *much* of your memory is now missing — Mayson was murdered almost six months ago."

Lois's face blanched. She pulled out a chair from her kitchen table and sat down. "Six months? That's…" She wanted to say impossible, but obviously it wasn't. "How? I just… can't believe it." How had this happened? A feeling of panic was threatening to overwhelm her and she could feel tears trying to start in her eyes.

No. No, she wasn't going to cry. Especially not in front of Clark… or Superman, for that matter. She pushed a plate out of the way on her table and laid her head down on her arm, trying to conceal her face until she could get herself under control.

Clark picked the plate up out of her way and took it over to her sink. After things settled down, he should help her clean up her apartment. He looked down at the plate. There was something still on it. Was that honey? She must have gotten hungry after he left last night. Where did she keep her scrub brush? It would take more than just water to get that off. Maybe he could soak it? He was just about to turn on the water when he heard her mumbling.

"What about you?" The words were so soft and muffled against her arm, that he barely heard them.

"What about me?" he repeated quietly, setting the plate down inside the sink. He hesitated for a moment and then went to her. He desperately wanted to make contact with her.

Lois felt Clark's hands settle lightly on her shoulders. She fought the urge to shrug them away. Superman, she thought. All this time, Clark was Superman. At what point had he told her? Obviously they were still dating… or something. The ring on her hand sent a nervous excitement through her. Was she engaged to Superman? His hands began to softly knead the tension from her shoulders and she gave in to the sensation. She turned her head to look up at him. She could see his apprehension — he wore it plainly on his face.

"How long have I known?" she asked quietly, gesturing back at him, "You know — about you?"

"For a month," he said quietly, moving his hands from her shoulders to softly caress her back. "I'm sorry, Lois. I can only imagine how frustrating and scary this must be. Ask me anything, anything you want to know, and I'll tell you. But I do think we should get you to see Dr. Peterson and have him check…"

Lois abruptly held up her left hand and wiggled her ring finger. "Anything?" Her voice broke just a little. "Then tell me about this."

Clark's heart clenched in his chest. She didn't remember everything they had come through to get to this point. In her mind, they had only had a first date — and one that had ended in tragedy. "I asked you to marry me. But you don't…"


"I proposed to you a month ago. But it wasn't until last night that you finally said, 'yes'." He took his hand from her back and ran it through his hair.

A month ago. Wasn't that when he had said she found out he was Superman? "So you told me you were Superman and then you proposed?"

Clark's face seem to pale just slightly. "Not exactly." He swallowed. "It was more like you figured it out. When I asked you to marry me, you asked me who was asking."

Her eyebrows shot up. "Clark! You asked me to marry you without my knowing the truth?" She jumped up out of her chair and walked a few paces away from him. "How could you do that?"

He wanted to follow her. He wanted to hold her in his arms and tell her how sorry he was about everything. Tell her how they had moved past all of this and she had forgiven him. But he didn't. He couldn't. This was going to take time, and patience… lots of patience. Not his best quality.

"I understand if you're upset." He dropped his voice a little and bit back the sorrow that had overtaken him. "And I'll understand if you want to give me the ring back." Clark walked over to her and took her left hand in his. "But please believe me when I say that you chose to put it on."

You wanted to be my wife, he thought to himself. For just a little while you were mine.

Lois pulled her hand away and nervously twisted the ring on her finger. If Clark had lied to her about who he really was, how could she believe him now? How could she believe that everything he was telling her was the truth?

She looked up from the ring and into his face, searching it. She wasn't really sure what she was going to find — the answer to universe probably, as hard as she was staring at it. "Can you understand how confusing this is? How hard this is to believe?" she asked quietly. "How impossible…?

Clark looked hurt, but if he was, he didn't say anything. "Yes. But you have a journal that you've been keeping this past week. You write in it each night about what's happened that day. Maybe when you read from it, things will make a little more sense." He began looking around her apartment. "It's a leather burgundy book about this big." He held up his hands to illustrate.

"Where do I keep it?"

"Usually in your bedroom next to your bed or on your coffee table with your memory box." Clark lowered his glasses and looked into her bedroom. It wasn't in there. He walked into her living room, into the disaster that used to be the contents of her memory box. Moving at super speed, he sorted through and reorganized the items — putting everything back inside the box in a few seconds.

The journal wasn't there, and neither was the Nirvana sample or Dr. Klein's notes. Whoever the thief had been, he had known what he was looking for — and he had taken them.

Clark looked up from his futile treasure hunt to find Lois staring at him, a look of amazement on her face.

"He really is you… you really are him, aren't you?" she asked softly, continuing to stare.

Clark shifted uncomfortably under her gaze. He had forgotten what it felt like to have Lois look at him in Superman-inspired awe. "Yeah… I'm sorry, but it looks like whoever broke in here last night took your journal and our notes and sample of a drug we've been researching for a story. That must have been what they were looking for."

"My journal?"

"No. Well, maybe, but only because you had notes in your journal about the drug — Nirvana. Somehow, someone learned that you had the sample and notes here and so they broke in and stole them." Clark frowned grimly. He was going to need to talk to Henderson about this. Could Dr. Klein really be involved? Dr. Klein was the only one who knew that Clark had obtained that sample and those notes from Mandy. Clark hadn't told anyone else besides Lois.

And if the thief had broken in here, looking for them, had they also broken into Clark's apartment? It was impossible that anyone knew Clark had hidden the items here at Lois's. Wouldn't they have checked his place first? A wave of nausea swept over him as he thought about what they might have found. He'd had near-misses before. Jack had broken into his apartment a couple of years ago and then Diana Stride had let herself in and had tried to expose his secret identity to the world. Clark had built a special revolving wine rack to hide his Superman paraphernalia in. But that didn't mean that someone who was really determined might not have found it.

"Lois, we can talk more about this later. I promise. Anything you want to know, I'll tell you," he assured her, walking over and taking her hand in his, giving it a gentle squeeze. "But we need to get you in to see Dr. Peterson. We need to find out why your memory has regressed further. While you get dressed and get ready, I'm going to swing by my apartment and take a quick shower and check things out. See if anyone tried to break in at my place as well." Clark glanced over at her window. "After I leave, I want you to close this window and lock it and lock your door. Don't open it for anyone but me, okay?"

"Clark?" she asked as he went to the door. "It is Clark, isn't it? I mean…"

"It's Clark," he answered, giving her a sad smile.

The tears she had held back suddenly reappeared. What had happened between them in those missing six months? The kiss he had given her at the window and the ring on her finger made her mourn for the moments she had lost. He was her best friend, but now he was obviously more than that and she had no clue how to get those memories back.

Suddenly she didn't want him to leave. What else might she forget before she saw him again?

"You said Superman froze me?"

His eyes closed briefly. "Yes. In fact, that's when you figured out that I was Superman. I touched your cheek just before I froze you."

"Show me."

Clark swallowed and then stepped closer to her, reaching out to cup her cheek in his hand. "Like this," he whispered.

Her hand reached up to cover his and, for just a second, Lois felt an almost overwhelming sensation of love and fear and hope. She looked up at him and gave him a watery smile. "You said someone had kidnapped your parents?"

"They're fine." His thumb slid across her cheekbone, wiping away the tear that had slipped loose. "You helped save them."

Her bottom lip trembled and she closed her eyes. "I don't remember."

"I do," he said in a fierce whisper. "I'll never forget how brave you were."

Her eyes opened and met his. They were his eyes — Superman's and Clark's. They had such tenderness and love in them. Lois held back more tears. She might have been brave then, but she was scared to death now. "Clark, I'm scared." She closed the distance between them hesitantly — torn between her confusion and her need to feel safe… in his arms.

"I know. Me too," he whispered. Clark couldn't fight the desire to hold her any longer. He slid his hand from her face to the back of her of her head, drawing her to him as he slid his other arm around her waist. "But I won't let anything happen to you. I'm here for you, Lois. I will always be here for you."

Lois let him hold her, snuggling a little closer to him as she realized what he said was the truth. Even if nothing else made sense, she knew she could trust in that feeling. She had always turned to Clark and he had always been there for her. "I know. It's the weirdest thing, but I still trust you."

Clark pulled away from her, softly kissing her forehead as he reluctantly withdrew from their embrace. "I'll be back in half an hour to pick you up, okay?"

"Okay." She nodded as his hand dropped away and he turned back to the door.

There were so many more questions that she wanted to ask him. So much more she needed to know. And yet, just knowing that Clark was Superman was revelation enough to deal with for today. Something told her she had a good fifty revelations left to go — maybe more — before she really understood what had happened in her life.

So it would be good if Clark left for a while. It would give her a chance to clear her mind and quiet her thoughts so she could make sense out of things.

And then she could figure out where that left her.


She had forgotten.

Clark flew as fast as his body would carry him — trying to outrun the truth.

But he couldn't. He had to face it. Lois had forgotten him… them. She hadn't just forgotten the proposal — she had forgotten everything. Everything she had managed to remember — it was all gone. Clark wanted to scream — a trip up to the Arctic sounded pretty appealing — but he didn't. He had to find his strength… for her. He had to be there for her, help her find her way… help her to remember. There was no other choice. No other option. He had promised her last night that he would be there for her, even if her memories never came back. She may no longer remember that promise, but he did.

Something had to have happened to her last night, when her apartment was broken into. Maybe she fought with the intruder and she had hit her head again? If that was the case, then there was a good chance that her memories might still come back. She had been making good progress under Dr. Peterson's care.

They had to come back.

Clark was about to land on his balcony when he heard voices coming from his apartment. He stopped short when he realized that the voices belonged to Jimmy and Inspector Henderson. He peered inside to see them standing in his bedroom — in the middle of a huge mess.

His stomach tightened abruptly into a knot — someone had broken in here, as well. What had they found? Clark dropped down into the alleyway before Henderson or Jimmy saw him. He changed clothes and then made his way to his apartment on foot.

He reached out to open his front door and realized that one of the doors had been relieved of its glass in the middle section — the pane next to the door handle.

"CK! You're all right!" Jimmy yelled at him from inside.

Clark pushed the door open and went in. "Jimmy? Yeah, I'm fine," he said, glancing around the room and raising his eyebrows — as if he hadn't already seen the mess before, "which is more than I can say for my apartment. What happened?"

"What happened to you?" Jimmy asked in turn. "I was afraid… well, where were you? I've been here half the night."

Clark grasped for a believable excuse. "I was with Lois. We were working on the story." That was at least partially the truth. Clark nodded a greeting at Henderson. "Any idea what happened? Or who did this?" Before Henderson could answer, Clark turned back to Jimmy. "And what were you doing here, anyway?"

Jimmy began his explanation first. "I came by to give you the results of…" he broke off and glanced over at Henderson, "that little project you had me working on."

Clark had asked him to find out who had last accessed the other lab that shared the cold storage area with Dr. Klein's. "You could have called me…"

"I tried. I called and you didn't answer. I also sent you a page." Clark grimaced guiltily as he remembered turning off his pager last night — when he had been talking to Lois. He had been afraid someone might call and interrupt him while he was pouring his heart out to her, so he had turned it off. He reached into his pocket and turned it back on. It began to vibrate immediately — alerting him that he had a missed page.

"Sorry, Jimmy, I must have forgotten to turn it back on."

"Yeah, well, when I couldn't get you, I just decided to swing by here when I left the Planet to see if I might catch you at home." Jimmy frowned and glanced up at the front door. "But when I got here, the door was wide open and there was glass everywhere. I came inside to check things out and there was a guy in a black ski mask fiddling with your answering machine." Jimmy glanced towards Clark's machine on his nightstand and then grimaced as he looked around at the mess. A bunch of Clark's books had been knocked off their shelves and were lying strewn across the floor, loose papers were scattered in the mix, knick-knacks and trophies also laid amongst the mess, and Clark winced when he realized that a couple of items had been broken.

Jimmy sighed and continued, "I yelled at him and asked what he was doing, and he took off running for your balcony. I chased him, but he was fast. He was out the door and half-way down the fire escape before I got out there." He gave Clark an apologetic look. "Sorry."

Clark squeezed Jimmy's shoulder lightly. "It's all right, Jimmy. I'm just glad you're okay. That guy could have had a weapon…"

"Yeah," Jimmy continued, brushing away the concern, "Anyway, I stayed here last night. I didn't want to leave with your door like that — where just anyone could come in. Plus, I was afraid that the guy might come back." He glanced up towards the door. "I cleaned up the glass a little."

Clark squeezed his shoulder again. "Thanks." It was almost too simple of a word to say. He appreciated what Jimmy had done more than his friend would ever know. If that thief had been allowed to continue his search… Clark turned and eyed Henderson pointedly. "Why did it take the police all night to get here? I'm sure Jimmy called right away."

"Yeah, he did, Kent. But the news that Superman was over in Japan was splashed all over every cable news channel available. Every time that happens the criminal element in Metropolis act like Christmas has come early." Clark could see Henderson's eyes darken even through the tinted lenses of his glasses. "I had every man I could spare out on the streets, and some I couldn't… including me." Henderson let out a noisy sigh. "It was a busy night. I wasn't able to get here until this morning."

Clark could hear a buzzing sound and reached automatically for the pager in his pocket, but it wasn't his. Henderson pulled his pager off his belt and looked down at it. "Mind if I use your phone, Kent?"

Clark waved his hand in invitation towards his phone on the nightstand. When Henderson walked over to use it, Clark pulled Jimmy aside and whispered quietly, "So what did you find out?"

Jimmy's face fell. "I'm sorry, CK… nothing. No one has accessed that other lab in over a week. Whoever broke into that cold storage vault, had to have done it from Dr. Klein's lab."

Clark frowned. Things were not looking good for Dr. Klein. Then he did a double-take. Had Jimmy just admitted that he had come by here to give Clark… nothing? "Don't take this the wrong way, I'm glad you were here when *this* happened… But you could have just told me when I saw you later today."

"Well you weren't supposed to see me later today. I had a party I was going to last night. That's why I stayed so late working on this for you — I have the day off today." Jimmy shrugged. "Your apartment was on my way. If I didn't get you, I was just gonna leave you a note."

Clark smiled. The poor kid had to waste his entire night babysitting Clark's apartment. He was fairly sure Jimmy had given up a date with a girl too, truth be told. There was no one quite like Jimmy. "Thanks, Jimmy." Clark gave his arm a pat and then turned back to look at Henderson just as he was getting off the phone.

"That was the precinct," Henderson explained. "Apparently we can add Lane's apartment to the list that was broken into." He paused and raised an eyebrow at Clark. "That seems highly coincidental."

Dan was on top of things… for once. "Yes, it does. That's because it wasn't a coincidence. I was over there this morning and helped Lois clean up. That wasn't a random break-in. They went there with a purpose." Clark gestured around him. "And I imagine this wasn't just an accident either." He sighed and then decided to probe Henderson a little. "Did you get that warrant for Dr. Klein's house?"


"Did you find anything?"

Henderson frowned and didn't answer for a moment. "No. We didn't."

"And yet you still think he's guilty?" Clark could tell from Henderson's body language that he did.

"I'm afraid I can't discuss the investigation any further with you, right now." Henderson glanced at Jimmy and then gave Clark a pointed look that he couldn't miss.

"I see, well then I guess we don't have any more to say then." Clark turned back to Jimmy. "Jimmy, I really appreciate what you did, but you don't need to stay here any longer. You've already wasted enough of your day off. You should go on home…"

Jimmy shrugged. "Nah. I'll probably just head on into the Planet. I'm too keyed up to go home now."

Clark nodded at him. "Perry's probably about to blow a gasket. Would you let him know what's going on? I've got to run Lois to her doctor appointment and then we'll be in shortly."

If Jimmy felt like he was being given the brush off, he didn't let on. "Sure thing, CK. I'll see ya later." He turned and nodded to Henderson. "Inspector." And then he walked up the stairs and went out the still open front door.

"So, what's the real story?" Clark asked, looking back at Henderson. "Why are you still so sure that Dr. Klein is your man?" To be truthful Clark was beginning to wonder if Dr. Klein might actually be involved. He still couldn't get past the fact that Dr. Klein was the only one, other than Mandy, who even knew they had the sample and notes.

Henderson sighed noisily. "Okay, Kent. Here's the deal, and this can't leave your apartment." Clark nodded. "There's another tape."

"What? Why didn't you tell me that before?" Clark exclaimed exasperatedly. "Why didn't you let me see it?"

"Because I was under instruction from the board of directors at STAR Labs not to. The tape comes from a security camera inside the cold storage vault. The materials and experiments in the vault are highly confidential and some of them are government contracts. I wasn't allowed to let anyone see that tape."

"But you could have told me about it," Clark said, trying to keep his voice level and not really succeeding.

"I was trying to be cautious, and I thought that we would find what we were looking for at Klein's house. But we didn't." Henderson was scowling in frustration.

"Then why are you still so sure that Klein is guilty? What was on that tape?"

"Klein. That tape showed Klein removing the sample. It was date and time stamped. I know you like him, Kent," Henderson paused to sigh quietly, his face softening a little, "but Klein is guilty."

So what Jimmy had found out was true. Whoever had taken the sample had come from Dr. Klein's lab… and that person appeared to be Dr. Klein himself. "Well that explains a lot." Clark shook his head. "I didn't understand how you could be so adamant about Dr. Klein's guilt. That certainly doesn't leave much room to argue and I don't know if I even want to continue pleading his case after what happened last night."

Henderson eyed him cautiously. "What happened last night?"

"The thief who broke into Lois's apartment — he was looking for something specific." Clark ran a hand through his hair nervously. Henderson wasn't going to be happy with his answer. "He was looking for Nirvana."

"Nirvana? At Lois's apartment?"

Clark nodded and winced. "Yeah, and probably here too. Dr. Klein had asked me to talk to his assistant, Mandy, at STAR Labs. She was able to get me a sample of Nirvana and a copy of Dr. Klein's notes." Clark began picking up books and papers off the floor while he was talking, stacking them on his bed. "What bothers me is that only she and Dr. Klein knew that Lois and I had those notes and that sample."

"I should probably send someone to STAR Labs to question his assistant then."

Clark's stomach tightened again. Could Mandy be involved? She had been there that night they had been shot at — she had been in danger. And she really seemed to care about Dr. Klein. But did that really mean anything? Clark let out a sigh, disgusted with himself. "Don't bother. If Mandy was involved, she's probably long gone by now. The day she gave me the sample and Dr. Klein's notes, she told me that she was going out of town to stay with relatives for a while until everything calmed down."

As Clark continued to talk, he picked up more papers. When he set them down on his nightstand, he noticed the light blinking on his answering machine. Then he remembered something Jimmy had said earlier — the thief had been messing with his machine when Jimmy had come in.

"Kent, you know I could charge you with obstruction of justice for keeping this information from me — not to mention that sample of Nirvana and those notes."

Clark ignored him for the moment, opening the cassette holder — the tape was still in there. He pushed the cassette back down and pressed the play button.

"Did you hear what I just said?" Henderson asked, his voice riding the fine edge of control.

Clark understood that Henderson was upset, but something told him this was important. "Yes, I heard what you said. Give me just a minute here… Jimmy said the thief was messing with my answering machine when he walked in on him. Maybe there's something…"

Jimmy's voice cut Clark off in mid-sentence, "CK? Are you there? Pick up, it's Jimmy. Okay, I guess you're not there. I'll try you again later."

Clark heard Henderson walk up behind him, and then the answering machine beeped — signaling the next message. When the voice began speaking, Clark's heart jumped in his chest…

"Hi, Clark? This is Lois. I'm not sure if you'll come back here first or not and this can't wait. I need you to know something about Nirvana. I was looking at Dr. Klein's notes… I think it's the drug that Dr. Peterson has me taking. I can't be sure and I know it sounds crazy but they're both the same color. I think they are, anyway. We need to have Dr. Klein take a look at the sample we have and compare it to my pills. So if you get this message before you come here… just… please come as soon as you get this. I love you. Bye."

Guilt washed over him. He should have been there last night. If he had stayed with her, this wouldn't have happened. Lois had discovered the truth last night… Clark realized with a start that he had almost washed it down the drain. That's what that substance had been on the plate from her table. She had put together a sample to inspect.

"Who is this 'Dr. Peterson'? Is he an associate of Dr. Klein's?" Henderson was now standing next to him, staring down at his answering machine.

"He's a doctor that Lois is seeing right now — long story. Does he know Dr. Klein? Honestly, I don't know." Dr. Peterson was behind this, or at least involved. He had to be if he was giving Lois the Nirvana drug. But was he working alone? Was he working for Intergang? Or maybe for Knox's company — Omnicorp? And was Dr. Klein working with him? Had someone bugged Lois's phone line? That would explain how they knew the sample was at Lois's house and that's why they had someone break in here — to get rid of the message — only Jimmy had interrupted him before he could finish the job.

Clark popped the tape out of the answering machine and handed it to Henderson. "I need to get back to Lois's apartment to check on her. There is one sample of Nirvana left at her apartment. Lois was right in her message — we need to let Dr. Klein compare the sample of Nirvana to the drug she was taking. That will prove Dr. Peterson's involvement. I'm going to head on over there. Why don't you… "

"Come with you? Sure. I'll even drive."

Clark grimaced. Not exactly what he had in mind. This was going to slow him down considerably, but what excuse did he have? Henderson didn't look like he was going to take no for an answer.

"Okay, let's go."


Lois stared at herself in the mirror and sighed… again. She had stared at herself in amazement for a minute or two before finally stepping into the tub for a quick shower. Once she had gotten out of the shower, she had stared some more. She had stared after brushing her hair and drying her hair. And now that she had done the best to style her hair, she was still staring.

What in the world had possessed her to cut her hair like this?

She frowned at herself. And not just cut her hair, either. She was engaged! To Clark! One minute they were sharing their first kiss and now, suddenly, they were engaged. It had been a good kiss — she had to give him that much credit. It was the first time they had kissed when it wasn't a diversion or because of some drug-induced fit of passion, but a real honest-to-god kiss.

And it had been incredible. That much she did remember.

But now… now she had woken up to find herself engaged, seemingly after just one kiss — with no memory of how any of it had happened — and to a man who she apparently didn't really know as well as she had thought. Oh, she knew the separate sides of him. She knew him as her partner and friend and, conversely, as her super hero. But none of those were truly him — they were all just parts of him. Clark had to be in there somewhere — a combination of all of them.

She was sure that she had *learned* who he was over the past few months and had come to terms with everything, but she had lost that precious knowledge. And now she had to start over.

*They* had to start over. Lois sighed and picked at a piece of hair that just didn't want to lie down right. She realized as awful as all of this was for her, it was probably pretty awful for Clark as well. She could still see the sad smile he had given her before he left her apartment. He was engaged to a woman who no longer remembered not only the proposal but everything that had led up to it.

Lois looked down at the ring on her finger. She wasn't sure why she hadn't taken it off yet. She knew she should. That ring stood for a commitment that two people had made to one another… a commitment that she didn't remember making.

And yet… something inside her just didn't want to take it off.

Lois looked up at her reflection again in the mirror. "Mrs. Clark Kent," she mumbled softly. "Mrs. Lois Lane… Kent." She remembered uttering those words when she stood dressed in a wedding gown about to marry Luthor. She remembered how right they had sounded to her.

But she still wasn't sure how she felt about that, or about wearing the ring… really about any of it. Maybe she should take it off for now — just keep it somewhere safe until she could figure things out…

The sound of her phone ringing jarred her out of her thoughts. Maybe that was Clark. He was probably calling to tell her they had ransacked his place too. She sincerely hoped that they hadn't, but she prepared herself for the worst as she picked up the receiver.


"Ms. Lane?" asked an unknown male voice.

"Yes. Who is this?"

"This is Dr. Peterson. I was trying to reach you to see if you could come in a little earlier this morning. I had something personal come up and need to leave the office early today."

"Oh? Um, when did you need me to come in?" Lois found herself glancing at her window. Where was Clark? He had said a half an hour and it was past time for him to be back.

"Actually, right now."


"Yes, I'm sorry. I know it's an inconvenience. If you'd like to reschedule…"

"No. Umm…" Lois paused for a second. She didn't think it was a good idea to reschedule. "I've had some further memory regression."

"Oh. Then I definitely should take a look at you today. Can you come now?"

Lois dithered. She really should wait for Clark to get back. But Clark had said she really needed to see Dr. Peterson. Although Clark probably wouldn't be happy if…

She frowned suddenly. Wait a minute!

Since when did she feel the need to let Clark advise her on her every move? She was a grown woman and could take care of herself just fine. She didn't need a man — even if he was Superman — to lead the way.

"Ms. Lane?"

"Oh, yes, sorry Dr. Peterson. You're at the Neurology Clinic, right?" Lois guessed.

"That's correct."

"I'm leaving right now. I'll be there shortly."

Lois hung up the phone and grabbed her purse. She was on the way out her door when she realized she should at least call Clark and tell him to meet her there. It would be rude to run off to her appointment without at least telling him what had happened. Plus, she admitted to herself, she really did need him there. He knew more about what was going on in her life than she did.

The thought irritated her just a little.

She grabbed her phone and dialed his number. No answer. His machine picked up and she hung up the phone. Should she wait? Did that mean he was on his way here? If he were on his way here, he could be here in mere seconds.

On the other hand, if he had been called away to an emergency, there was no telling when he would get here.

She reeled again at the thought that Clark was Superman. It was still a little hard to wrap her mind around.

She hesitated another ten or fifteen seconds before finally deciding that she would just leave him a note. When he did get here, he would see the note and he could just meet her there. It's not like it would take him any extra time… not really.

She quickly scrawled a note and left it taped to the outside of her door.

Dr. Peterson called, needed me to come in early. See you there — Lois.


Clark took the stairs at Lois's building two at a time, without waiting for Henderson. He couldn't explain it but he just had this feeling…

He flung the door open to Lois's floor and hurried towards her apartment, his heart beating faster when he saw there was a piece of paper taped outside it.

No! His stomach lurched in apprehension as he unfolded the note and saw what she had written. He shouldn't have left her alone…

Clark could hear Henderson huffing as he came around the corner behind him and Clark turned to face him. "Geez, Kent. I need to have you give lessons to some of the donut-eaters down at the…" When he saw the look on Clark's face he stiffened. "What's wrong?"

"Dr. Peterson called Lois and asked her to come in for her appointment early." Clark walked over and handed the note to Henderson, the muscle in his jaw clenching. "She's on her way there right now. I've gotta get to her." He headed back for the stairwell and Henderson started after him.

Clark turned around and shook his head — he needed to get to Lois fast and Henderson would only slow him down. "No, you should go inside Lois's apartment and get that Nirvana sample." Clark held out Lois's spare keys — she had asked him to keep them for her after locking her keys in her Jeep. "It's on a plate in her kitchen sink — the one with two yellow substances on it. We need to know for sure if the drug Dr. Peterson was giving Lois is Nirvana. If it is, then Dr. Peterson could be the one behind all of this. Take the samples back to the precinct and show them to Dr. Klein — he can confirm it." Clark realized he was speaking to Henderson in almost his Superman voice — but he didn't care. He had to get Henderson to listen to him.

"I can't just hand evidence over to him like that. Klein is a suspect in the case," Henderson balked.

"You have to," Clark argued. "He's the only one who knows the chemical make-up of Nirvana by memory. What's Dr. Klein going to do if you're standing right there watching him? We need to know…"

Henderson sighed in defeat. "Okay, Kent, but you'd better be right about this. When I get inside Lois's apartment I'll call for back-up and send them to Peterson's office."

"Thanks," Clark called out behind him as he made a dash for the stairwell.


Lois stepped out of her Jeep and started to walk towards the entrance of the clinic. She cursed loudly when a black Mercedes screeched to a halt in front of her, almost running her over in the process. "What? Do you think you own the road? Probably some rich doctor's wife too busy talking on her cell phone to bother with pedestrians."

Lois started to walk around the car when the back door was harshly flung open. A middle-aged man stepped out of the car, his face was eerily void of emotion. "Ms. Lane. Could I persuade you to join me? You have something that belongs to me."

"And what would that be? Your common sense? Look, I don't know who you think you are…" she began.

"Yes," he interrupted her, "that's about what I expected you to say. Doctor?" He nodded, presumably at someone behind her.

She started to turn around when she felt a sharp pain in her arm and then her eyes seemed to lose focus and her vision began to swim. "What do you… think you're…" Lois stumbled forward and braced herself against the car with one hand. She was in trouble. "Supe…"


Clark flew at top speed straight for the clinic, scanning the streets below. No sign of Lois. When he got to the clinic he could see her Jeep in the parking lot — a quick scan revealed that she wasn't inside. Clark landed out of sight, changed clothes, and made his way inside to the receptionist's desk.

A pleasant-looking woman glanced up at him from her computer and smiled. "Is there something I can help you with?"

"Yeah. I'm running late. I was meeting Lois Lane here for her appointment with Dr. Peterson." Clark tried to control his anxiety from leaking through into his voice — he didn't think it was working.

"Dr. Peterson?" She raised her eyebrows at him. "You must be mistaken. Dr. Peterson's not in today. He had something personal to attend to. I'm sorry, I thought he had already called and cancelled all his appointments for today himself…"

Clark was already turning around before the last sentence was out of her mouth. He said a muffled 'thank you', and he pushed the door open and left the building.

Moments later he was back in the air again scanning, what he felt to be futilely, the streets and vehicles below for Lois. How would he ever find her? How much had he missed her by? She could be anywhere by now. He flew in a gradually deepening circular pattern, x-raying as he went. The more time that passed the more panicked he became — minutes seemed to stretch by like hours.

Why wasn't she calling for him?

He stretched out with his hearing, as far as he could push it — hoping to hear something — a heartbeat, a breath — anything. No matter how far away they had taken her, it couldn't be far enough that he wouldn't hear her.

But there was nothing.

Why couldn't he hear her?

Because this wasn't about him. This wasn't about using her to get to Superman. They weren't trying to make her yell out for Superman to lure him into some kind of trap. They already had what they wanted.


For all he knew, she could already be dead.

Clark lost altitude, falling a few feet through the air before steadying himself. His heart was pounding wildly in his chest. No. He shut his eyes against the thought, flying blindly for a few seconds, trying to clear his mind and think clearly. No, she wasn't dead. If they had wanted to simply kill her, they would have done that last night. They must still need her for something — or she still had something that they wanted.

He needed help. Clark changed direction and headed for the police precinct. He needed to tell Henderson what had happened and find out if Dr. Klein knew Dr. Peterson.


Lois opened her eyes and then abruptly wished she hadn't when they were assaulted by harsh light. She shut them and then tried again, this time just squinting.

She was strapped into a chair, her wrists were bound to the arms of it with rope and that same rope was around her waist holding her in place. Two men were standing off to the side, a little ways away, arguing about something.

She couldn't quite make out what they were saying. She concentrated a little harder and the voices became clear.

"I said I want out," the older-looking man said angrily.

"You can't get out," the other man snipped. "You're in too deep, now. She's not going to just let you walk away." Lois tried to hear more but their voices had become quieter and she couldn't make out what they were saying.

As her eyes became adjusted to the light, she opened them a little wider. She didn't recognize where she was. The room had all sorts of equipment in it — computers, telephones, large monitors and screens hanging on the walls. But there were no windows. And there only appeared to be one set of double doors leading into the room.

She looked down at her restraints, wondering if she could wriggle enough to get one arm free. Side to side and back and forth she moved one arm and then the other, trying to gauge how much room she had to move. There wasn't much give, but since the two men in the room with her weren't watching her, she'd give it a shot.

Lois worked the arm that had the most freedom back and forth a few times. She tried flattening her hand out and scrunching her fingers together to see if she could get them to slide through her restraints, but it wasn't going to work. She gave the rope one more hard, frustrated tug before giving up.

The noise from her last exertion caught the men's attention. "Well, Ms. Lane, how good of you to join us," the one man said. He had dark thinning hair and an aloof, militaristic presence about him. She recognized him as the man who had gotten out of the Mercedes.

"I'm sorry. My mother told me never to talk to strangers," she bit out. It was ridiculous but she was mad and she didn't feel like cooperating in the slightest with these people — whoever they were. She looked over at the other man. He was an older man with white hair. He was almost bald save for the few wisps of hair around the back of his head.

"Cute," the man with the dark hair continued, "But we aren't strangers, Ms. Lane. This is Dr. Peterson. I believe you know him quite well, actually."

Lois looked at the white-headed man again and scowled.

"And though we've never officially met before," the dark-haired man continued in his structured tone, "you actually know me as well — Charles Knox. You listened in on a private conversation of mine once with Agent Scardino. Although I'm sure at the moment you don't remember any of that." He smirked ever so slightly at her. "In fact, I tried unsuccessfully to kill you and Agent Scardino in an explosion at the courthouse." His almost smirk turned to a scowl. "I was foiled by that sanctimonious schmuck, Superman."

"Is that why I'm here? You think you can get me to call out for Superman? Lure him here? Because I won't do it," she spat.

"Oh, no, Ms. Lane. Superman is the last person I want here. In fact, we're a little over forty feet below ground down here… and we have sound-proofing in place — I doubt even the Man of Steel could hear you scream."

Scream? Lois swallowed involuntarily. "So you brought me down here to finish the job you started before? To kill me?"

Knox's sneer was more pronounced this time. "If I had simply wanted to kill you, I would have had the bumbling idiot that my employer sent to your apartment last night do it."

His employer? Who was that? She vaguely remembered the DEA agent, Dan, mentioning something about Intergang possibly being involved in the break-in. Did Knox work for Intergang?

Lois needed to keep Knox talking. She needed to give Clark time to find her. She knew he would get her note, and then he would go to Dr. Peterson's office. She didn't know where he would go from there, but surely he could find her — Clark was smart. He was the best investigative reporter she'd ever worked with — not to mention the fact that he was Superman. She just needed to give him time.

"So why am I here?"

Knox frowned. "You wouldn't *be* here if that dullard had done his job."

Lois watched him walk over to a drawer and open it, pulling out a small vial and syringe. Knox set the items on a table as he continued speaking.

"That blundering burglar was supposed to break into your apartment, put you to sleep, steal the sample of Nirvana that you had and the notes, and then leave. Everything was going fine until he came back without the notes. He had found a few papers that had case notes on them and some newspaper clippings about Nirvana, but that's not what we needed." Knox sighed softly, regaining his composure. The blank look on his face had returned and Lois found it disturbing. "Apparently you hid the actual notes somewhere… probably along with that journal Dr. Peterson told me you've been keeping."

"So you brought me here because you need my journal? Why not just break in and look for it again?" Keep him talking, she repeated the mantra to herself — her mind racing to figure out a way to escape.

"No, I'm quite sure the journal won't contain anything of use to me. What I'm interested in is Dr. Klein's notes. The journal I was just going to throw away to make sure we squelched that memory of yours," he explained, tapping her on the head.

"To make *sure*…? You mean you're responsible for my memory loss?"

Knox's eyes narrowed slightly and he nodded towards his accomplice. "Actually, no, you can thank Dr. Peterson for that. He was one of the doctors I had originally worked with on Nirvana. He was about to start a clinical trial of the drug when you and Agent Scardino exposed it as a mind-controlling substance." He folded his hands stiffly in front of him. "Imagine our delight when Mr. Kent brought you into the hospital that fateful night, almost a week ago, for that concussion you had sustained."

Lois wracked her brain trying to remember, but it wouldn't come to her. What had happened to her?

"Dr. Peterson knew an opportunity when he saw one," Knox continued. "He still had a small sample of the Nirvana drug from his previous research. He called our mutual employer and asked if you should become his first experimental subject. You made the perfect test subject. If we could erase your memory, you couldn't testify against me in the upcoming Nirvana trial. And your background gave us the perfect cover story."

Her background? What did he mean? At her confused frown he went on, "Your file at the hospital showed that Superman had brought you in a few months back. You had been exposed to extreme cold and he'd had to revive you. He was concerned that there might be after-effects — ruptures, bleeding in the brain… You get the idea. It turned out that you were fine and given a clean bill of health."

He unclasped his hands and straightened his tie and coat, almost mechanically. "But last week, the concussion you incurred gave us just the opportunity we needed to give you a little amnesia. As a test run, we took your memory back to the night that Superman had brought you in. We had to be sure the drug would do what we needed it to before we erased your memory any further. You became our first lab rat." He was staring at her and she suddenly felt very much like a specimen under a microscope. "You should be proud. We've gotten a lot of helpful data back from our experiments on you."

Lois was paying attention to everything he said, even though most of it didn't make any sense to her. Knox hadn't hesitated to answer any of her questions — that could only mean one thing. He wasn't planning on her being able to tell anyone. She had to keep him talking…

"So why did I suddenly regress further?"

He glanced over at the doctor before answering her question. Lois followed his gaze and realized the doctor didn't look too happy. "Dr. Peterson had programmed your memory yesterday to reset far enough back that you wouldn't remember anything about Nirvana or Agent Scardino. Too many of your memories were finding a way to seep back into your conscious thoughts through your dreams. We needed to do something more drastic. Our experiments were over. We had the information we needed and it was time to make you forget completely.

"Are you sure we should be telling her all of this?" Dr. Peterson finally broke in.

Knox looked over at him again. "Worried, Doctor? Don't be. After we're through with her, she won't be telling anyone, anything." He shifted his piercing gaze back on her and a shiver went down her spine.

Please hurry, Clark, she thought desperately.


After changing clothes, Clark ran up the steps leading to the precinct. He was met by none other than Dan Scardino coming out the door.

"Kent? What are you doing here? Where's Lois?"

Clark winced. Not the person he wanted to see right now. "I'm here to see Henderson. Has he made it back yet?"

"Yeah, just a few minutes ago. Why?" Dan eyed him suspiciously.

"Nothing. I just need to talk to him."

"Nothing?" Dan scowled. "Come on, Kent, I know we've had our differences, but I'm involved in this and you know it. Let me do what I can to help."

Clark sighed in defeat. "Okay, come on. I only want to have to say this once."


"I told you that I'm not going to be a part of killing anyone," Dr. Peterson told Knox heatedly. "I'm a doctor. I initially got involved in this for the research and to help my patients. I'll admit that I've done some things I'm not proud of, but I won't be involved in killing anyone."

"Who said anything about killing her?" Knox asked, his voice sharp and precise. "Once we have the notes for Nirvana, we can make more of it and just erase her memory entirely." He chuffed slightly and Lois felt her face blanch. "Although it's a little late for you to worry about murder on your rap sheet."

"I didn't have anything to do with the death of that man."

"No. You're right. I killed him — but you would no doubt be viewed as an accomplice," Knox said with calculating indifference. "I killed him for his ineptitude and his stupidity. He should have been smart enough to know the notes he brought us weren't what we needed, and he should have been smart enough to know if he didn't finish erasing that tape that he shouldn't have bothered to come back. Besides, if I hadn't killed him, *she* would have. And she'll kill you if you try to back out now."

Lois wondered just briefly what tape he was talking about — and who this mystery woman was. And then Knox was walking over towards her chair. She would have tried something, her legs were still free, but he gave her a wide berth. He bent down behind her and began to fiddle with something underneath the chair. "Now come here and help me hook this thing up."

"No. I told you that it's too dangerous," Dr. Peterson said nervously. "We don't know what it might do in reaction with the drug. It hasn't been tested."

Knox stood up and adjusted his glasses, looking first at Lois and then at the doctor. "If you aren't going to help, then at least prepare the Nirvana." She could see him gesturing at the bottom of her chair out of the corner of her eye. "Besides the initial employment, we'll only use this if we have to." He walked around where she could see him more clearly. "I'm sure Ms. Lane is going to cooperate with us. Aren't you, Ms. Lane?"

Lois glared at him. She would cooperate — to a point — if it would buy her more time.

Dr. Peterson walked over to the table and grabbed the syringe and vial, which Lois could now see contained a small amount of golden liquid. The doctor inserted the needle into the vial and extracted the liquid before tipping the needle up and tapping the cylinder. He pushed the injector far enough that a small bit of liquid came out of the needle, and then he brought it towards her.

The doctor paused and looked over at Knox. "You realize this is the last of the vial we *obtained* from STAR Labs? We won't have any more until we can get those notes."

"Yes, yes. I know," Knox assured him brusquely. "It's a shame the notes we stole from STAR Labs turned out to be incomplete, our circumstances wouldn't be quite so problematic. We could have simply made more."

Knox turned to look at her and his lip twitched as if attempting a smile. "Now just relax…"

"Don't bet on it," Lois said as she kicked out at both of them with her legs. Unfortunately they came up short.

"I told you to tie her legs," Knox spat.

"Sorry. I'm new to the whole kidnapping and hostage scenario," Dr. Peterson quipped. "And we didn't have any more rope." He turned back to her and gave her a regretful look. "Ms. Lane, trust me when I say that you're going to want this as much as Mr. Knox does."

"Yeah, I'm sure," she snipped.

"No, he's right," Knox interjected. "Once we inject you with this and say the fail-safe code word, your memories will return."

Lois eyed him suspiciously. "And just why would you do that? You've worked so hard to take them away from me. How do I know whatever is in that thing isn't just going to kill me?"

Knox sighed, pulling out a handgun from inside the coat he was wearing and pointing it at her. "Because, Ms. Lane, if I wanted to kill you, I would simply shoot you." Lois struggled to remain calm and continued to glare at him. It was a stand off.

She won.

He re-holstered the weapon and gestured for Dr. Peterson to try again. "You want your memories. We *need* your memories. We need those notes and you are only going to be able to tell us where they are if we give you your memory back."

Lois bit back the retort that she wasn't going to tell them anyway. She wasn't. But if it meant she would get her memory back, she would cooperate with them for the time being. And once she had her memory back, she had to figure out a way out of this mess before they took it from her again… She repressed a shudder — or something worse.

Even though Knox had assured her he wasn't going to kill her right this second, she eyed the needle that was coming toward her with equal parts trepidation and excitement.

She was finally going to get her memories back! But what was going to happen to her when she didn't cooperate?

<We're a little over forty feet below ground down here… and we have sound-proofing in place — I doubt even the Man of Steel could hear you scream…>


Dr. Klein was frowning as he lifted his attention from the microscope. "Yes. The composition and make-up of the two specimens are exactly alike. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say they came from the same primary source."

"You're probably not far off, Dr. Klein." Clark said, glancing from Klein to Henderson to see what he thought. His expression was unreadable. "The pills Lois was taking could very well have come from the sample of Nirvana that was stolen from STAR Labs. So both samples would have come from your lab, but…"

"If we take Dr. Klein at his word," Henderson interrupted, looking over at Clark, "which I'm not sure I'm willing to do… Then this proves that Dr. Peterson has been giving Lois the Nirvana drug. But what I want to know is how Dr. Klein is acquainted with Dr. Peterson."

Dr. Klein sighed. "That's the thing. I'm not. I've never even met the man before." He shook his head in bewilderment. "He's a private practice neurologist. I'm a scientist at STAR Labs. Just because we're both doctors doesn't mean we both belong to some exclusive club that gets together on weekends."

"But I saw you take the sample from the vault," Henderson pointed out. "If you removed it and he ended up with it, and you say you've never even met him, then how did it happen?"

"Honestly, I just don't know," Dr. Klein said, exasperatedly. "I don't even remember removing that sample from the vault."


Lois shut her eyes in apprehension as the needle touched her skin. She winced from the prick of pain and the pinching slide the needle made as it entered her arm. She could feel a burst of liquid and then it was over.

She didn't feel any different — didn't remember anything new.

"It didn't work," she stated condescendingly.

"For a reporter you don't listen very well sometimes." Knox let out an exasperated sigh. "I have to say the *fail-safe* code word to trigger the release of memory." He glanced over at Dr. Peterson as if seeking confirmation. The doctor gave him a slight nod. "You see, Nirvana works all by itself for small things like, oh, commercial brainwashing, for instance. Commercials tell us every day what to eat, how to dress… what phone service to buy. But we still retain the ability to decide that for ourselves. However, if someone was taking Nirvana and was exposed to, say suggestive advertising inside a CostMart store, they would be unable to resist. They would buy what they were told, without question."

Lois scowled at him. "That's what your grand plan for Nirvana is? Mindless consumer consumption?" She snorted.

"Hardly, Ms. Lane," Knox said flatly. "I said that's how it works for small things. We have much bigger plans for Nirvana. But further, deeper mind control requires programming. That's what we used you as a test subject for. Each morning when you came in for your doctor's appointment, you received programming through the use of code words — detailed instructions that told you to forget your memories for that day and reset to your memories of the previous day. You were also given a fail-safe code word in case we needed to bring the memories back."

Knox walked closer to her, close enough that she could have tried to kick him again, although it wouldn't have accomplished anything. "Now close your eyes and relax. Focus on my voice and hear the word."

Lois did what he said and waited anxiously to hear the word that would give her life back to her.


Lois opened her eyes, probably a mere instant later but it felt strangely like she had been asleep for what seemed like days. When she remembered where she was, she wished desperately that she could just go back to sleep. She blinked and looked around.

And then she could see Clark in her mind. He was kneeling before her, the rain that was falling had created a soft mist on his glasses. She closed her eyes, wishing she were really there, and she could hear him speaking -

<If the Earth opened up at my feet, I wouldn't move until I'd said this… Lois… Will you marry me?>

And then the memory shifted and she was standing next to him on a sidewalk — he was arguing with her —

<Oh, okay, I see. It's okay for you to get mad, but I'm not supposed to feel anything?>

The pain in his voice hurt and she struggled against it, trying to block it out. But then his face was gone and it had been replaced by Martha's face. She was crying —

<Oh, this is so nice. Almost thirty years, you're the first woman I've ever been able to talk to about my boy…>

Martha leaned in to hug her and her face dissolved into an image of Perry smiling softly at her -

<Honey, there will always be another headless corpse. But true love… comes around maybe once…>

His image vanished and was replaced with Clark's face again, but this time Clark was holding her in his arms. They were lying next to a campfire -

<This thing between us, whatever it is, it's stronger than me. Being with you is stronger than me alone…>

She turned in his arms and he leaned down to kiss her. She was beginning to anticipate it when his face shifted and suddenly he was in her apartment, sitting next to her on her bed -

<Lois, I love you. I love you way too much to ever let something like this happen to you again. I know I can't control everything, but I can control people not using you to get to me… And so that's why I came. To tell you… To say… We just can't be together anymore, Lois, I'm sorry…>

And then memories started flooding in faster and all at once — flashes and glimpses -

The smell of aftershave on Clark's throat.

The feel of his hands against the bare flesh of her back.

The touch of his mouth as it brushed her lips and lingered against them, seizing them in a kiss.

Touches, glances, kisses, feelings…

<Fight, Lois, come on, fight… Don't you die on me, Lois. Now come on, don't give up…>

And then it stopped…

Oh, Clark… Lois's heart constricted. Every memory she had ever made with Clark over the past six months was there — even the ones she had lost over the past week.

Even the ones from last night.

<Marry me, Lois. I want to spend my life with the woman who completes me, who has made me the man I am today. We've made so many wonderful memories together — enough to last a lifetime. Marry me…>

Lois slowly opened her eyes and glanced down at the ring on her finger as tears threatened to form. She blinked them back, not wanting to share this moment with the men in this room.

<I love you way too much to ever let something like this happen to you again…>

She had to find a way out of this mess. Clark would blame himself for what had happened to her.

But no matter what, she couldn't let them find her journal. She had been so careful not to write anything down that would blatantly lead anyone to believe that Clark was Superman. But there was still enough there that someone who was savvy might figure it out. That book had been her memory and she had written a million different little details in it — each one of itself innocent enough. But put them all together…

No. She couldn't let them find that journal. No matter what. If they found that journal and figured out that Clark was Superman, they would expose him to the world. And then Clark would be gone — swallowed up by Superman. Clark Kent would no longer exist.

The world might not miss Clark Kent. But she would. She needed him. She needed Clark far more than she had ever wanted or needed Superman.

"Feeling more like yourself?" Knox asked? "A pity if you ask me. Now, where are the notes?"

Lois remembered, of course. She had put the notes inside her journal and when she had heard the noise outside her window, she had tucked the journal under the cushion of her loveseat.

But she wasn't going to tell Knox.

"I can't remember," she said. "I guess you need to work on your drug some more."

"Okay. We'll just have to help you remember another way, won't we?" Knox moved behind her and attached two electrodes to either side of her forehead. Lois futilely shook her head from side to side and twisted against the restraints. It didn't help. Once the leads were attached, Knox stood next to her and looked over at Dr. Peterson.

"Here," Knox held out the wires attached to the electrodes. "Attach these and throw the switch." Knox pulled something out of his pants pocket that looked like a remote controller. "We'll see if we can't help jog your memory," he said, looking at her stone-faced.

Dr. Peterson balked. "I… I already told you — I won't be a part of this. You don't know what it might do. The combination with her medication could be lethal. Besides electroshock therapy is normally used to erase memory…"

"It worked fine for the government," Knox stated matter-of-factly.

"It did not work *fine*. And the government wasn't using Nirvana. The drug they were working with wasn't nearly as strong as Nirvana." Dr. Peterson shook his head adamantly. "I won't do it."

"You will. You are in too deep now to back out. Or shall I call *her* and tell her that you're having second thoughts?" Knox's eyes were glittering. "She just needs to be coerced a little into giving us what we want. It won't take much."

Dr. Peterson bolted for the set of double doors in the room. Knox calmly pulled his handgun from his coat pocket and fired, catching the doctor right between the shoulder blades. Peterson dropped to the floor with a loud yelp.

Lois shrieked and then watched in horror as the doctor tried to drag himself towards the door. Knox walked over to him, keeping the gun trained on him, and Lois looked away, her body jerking when the gun went off again.

She wanted to cry. Not for Dr. Peterson. She was sorry for what had happened to him — no one deserved to die like that — but she was scared. Knox was serious. He was cold, calculating. He didn't care about her… about anyone.

As Knox walked back towards her, she couldn't fight the instinctive reaction to recoil from him. He walked around behind her and bent down, fiddling with whatever was underneath her chair.

"I don't remember anything," Lois said adamantly. "You can do you what you want to me, but it's not going to help."

"I think you will remember."

"And what if I don't?" she asked, her voice shaking in spite of her efforts to sound confident. "Are you going to kill me like you killed Dr. Peterson?"

"I won't kill you, not just yet; you have one other purpose to fulfill first."

"Another purpose?" Lois's mind was reeling. She was trying to focus on a plan of action — a way to escape — but she was coming up empty-handed. Nothing. There was no way to escape. She had already tried to fight against the ropes that held her — to no avail. They were forty feet underground — no one would hear her if she screamed.

And no one knew where she was.

It was a seldom thing in Lois's life when she felt really and truly scared — and this was one of them.

<Clark, I love you. This isn't your fault…> She thought desperately, wishing there was some way to tell him. He would blame himself — she knew him too well. He had told her just earlier this morning that he would always be there for her. He shouldn't have promised that — let alone allow himself believe it. Some things were just beyond his control.

But he would blame himself nonetheless.

"Yes, another purpose," Knox repeated going over to a counter and retrieving her purse. He dug through it until he pulled out her cell phone. As he walked over to a desk that had a phone, Knox flipped her cell phone open and started pushing buttons. "Yes. Here it is. The other purpose."

Lois couldn't imagine what he was talking about but before she could ask him, he told her.

"How nice of you to keep the number for Agent Scardino."


"You don't know," Henderson repeated, smirking at Dr. Klein. "Well there's a piece of testimony that's bound to get you acquitted at the trial, Klein," he continued sarcastically. "Oh, I'm sorry, judge, my memory just isn't what it used to be. And since Dr. Peterson isn't one of my golfing buddies, you can see how I couldn't possibly know him."

"I don't golf," Klein stated simply.

"Excuse me?" Henderson said incredulously.

"I don't…"

"Is it possible that someone could have drugged Dr. Klein too?" Dan broke in.

Clark hated to admit it but Dan had a good point. What if someone had used the Nirvana drug on Dr. Klein? Had him steal the sample and notes and deliver them somewhere, only to forget he had ever done it?

"That's a nice happy little theory there, Scardino," Henderson replied acerbically, "but where's your proof? The only proof I have is the tape that shows Dr. Klein stealing from his own laboratory. I have to have hard evidence."

"I understand that," Dan said, not sounding understanding at all, "but if you would just…" He paused and pulled his cell phone from the case clipped to his belt. He opened the phone and said, "Scardino." His eyes widened just slightly — not enough that anyone else would have noticed, but Clark did. "Ex… excuse me for a second. I gotta take this call."

Clark watched as Dan hurriedly left the office. He peered through the wall, continuing to watch as Dan ran out the front door, stopping on the front steps and putting the phone to his ear. Clark stretched his hearing out — trying to ignore the discussion that Dr. Klein and Henderson were engrossed in — and focused on Dan. The first words Dan uttered captured his full attention.

"Where's Lois?"

Clark edged towards the door. Henderson scowled at him and Clark raised his hand to placate him. He nodded vaguely in the direction of the hallway and then ducked out of the office. He listened, hearing Dan's rapid footsteps and only snatches of the voice on the other end of the call.

"All— good time. Tell— Scardino, how is— FDA—?" Clark didn't recognize the man's voice.

"Knox?" Dan spat into the phone.

Knox? As in Omnicorp's Charles Knox? The man who had been working with Intergang to get Nirvana approved? Clark stopped just inside the front door where he could listen in unobserved. He was close enough now to make out the caller's words.

"Well, wit *and* brains," the man replied tartly. "Yes, this is Knox. And you are a DEA agent. You lied to me, Scardino. You'll pay for that."

"Where's Lois?"

"We have her here."

"Here? Where's here?" Dan asked.

It was faint, but Clark could hear muffled pleas coming from Lois in the background. "No, Dan! Don't listen to him! Call Clark, he can…" There was a loud smack and a moan — and Lois went silent. Clark's blood boiled and he fought the urge to go out there and snatch the phone away from Dan. Knox would pay for that.

"Ms. Lane, that was a warning. Shut up or I will be forced to shut you up," Knox threatened. Clark cringed. Please listen to him, he begged her silently. Wait for me. I'll find you.

"If you ever want to see Ms. Lane alive again," Knox continued, "I suggest you follow my instructions to the letter."

"Okay. You have my undivided attention. What is it that you want?" Dan asked, his voice void of all its usual cockiness.

"We want you to come here… alone," Knox instructed.

"No!" Lois cried. "Don't, Dan! Call Clark! Tell him to find Superm…" her words were cut off in a blood-curdling scream.


Lois was listening intently to the one-sided conversation Knox was having with Dan. She seethed at the pain in her cheek from where Knox had hit her.

He was telling Dan that he wanted him to come here alone. Lois couldn't let him do that. Knox would kill him. She had to say something, do something — no matter what the consequences to her.

"No!" she cried. "Don't, Dan!" Lois watched as Knox lifted the remote in his hand — whatever he was going to do to her, it was about to happen. Desperation clutched at her. "Call Clark! Tell him to find Superm…"

Her words were cut short as a wave of painful heat sparked from the electrodes on her forehead and pulsed through her, causing her body to arch against the restraints holding her in place and making her feel as if every single cell in her body had just caught fire. In that instant, her brain shut down. She couldn't talk, couldn't think… couldn't do anything. Her mind shouted one coherent thought to her — *make* *it* *stop*!

And she screamed.


Clark's legs went weak at the pain in Lois's scream and he leaned against the wall next to him to support himself. He felt like he was going to be sick. What had Knox done to her?

"Stop!" Dan pleaded. "Stop it! Why are you doing this? What do you want? I can get it for you. Whatever you want. Just name it."

"We want you, Scardino. We want you to come here."

"Where?" Dan exclaimed in frustration. "Tell me and I'm there."

"Come to the CostMart building and wait for further instructions. Oh, and don't bring the police into this. We wouldn't want things to get… messy. And don't even think of alerting Superman. If we see so much as a flash of red cape, Lois is dead — negotiations closed. We don't want to see any blue uniforms around here — police or superhero. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Dan assured them, his voice breaking. "Yes, I understand."

"Good. I would hate to think you didn't. Ms. Lane's life depends on you. Goodbye, Agent Scardino."

Dan hurried down the steps and Clark rushed out the door after him. "Where are you going? Who called?"

"I've gotta go, Kent. I don't have time to explain." Dan started to walk away but he was stopped by Clark's hand clenched tightly around his arm.

"Did that call have something to do with Lois?" When Dan hesitated, Clark continued, "I can see the fear in your eyes. Tell me what's going on."

Clark knew very well what was going on but he couldn't rush off to save Lois as Superman. Knox obviously had some kind of surveillance around the CostMart building. If Clark went as Superman, he'd get Lois killed for sure. But he could go as Clark and try to find a way to get to her. He was pretty certain he knew where they were holding her — the same bunker that Bill Jr. had held Perry in when he kidnapped him.

But Clark wouldn't be able to explain how he had found Lois — unless Dan told him. So Dan was going to have to tell him.

Clark tightened his grip on Dan's arm until he flinched a little. "Let me go, Kent. It's Lois. Charles Knox has her. I'm supposed to meet him at the CostMart building." Clark loosened his grip and Dan jerked his arm away. "I know how you feel about Lois and I know what you think of me. But you can trust me. I don't want to see anything happen to Lois. Don't say anything to Henderson. Knox said if he sees any cops, Lois is dead."

Dan started to walk away but hesitated. "And if you see Superman, tell him to stay close, but not to interfere." He sighed heavily and his eyes darkened. "Knox will kill her if he sees Superman anywhere near them."

Then, before Clark could respond, Dan was running full tilt and disappeared around the corner of the building.

Clark headed for the closest alley. Knox had said Superman couldn't be seen — but Superman could at least get Clark close.


Lois was flying. The houses and buildings below her looked so small. The city of Metropolis seemed like such a peaceful place from way up here.

Is that why Clark loved to fly? Yes, probably part of it, anyway. She imagined that he felt the same exhilarating freeness that she did, up here soaring among the clouds. She had always wanted to fly — and not just in an airplane. Lois had flown in airplanes many times.

There was nothing to compare to this.

Lois had flown with Clark — Superman — many times since she had met him. Usually it was because he had just rescued her from some horrifying situation. But since they had started dating, sometimes he brought her up here just to fly with her.

And sometimes… she would ask him to.

Lois felt Clark's arms wrap around her more protectively, shielding her from the cold dampness of the wind around them. Part of her wished that she could stay like this forever, safely cocooned within the gentle strength of his body, flying free — high above her cares, her worries, her problems.

She closed her eyes for a second so as not to be distracted by what she was seeing and she just allowed herself to feel. She could feel the moisture in the air, the warmth of the sun on her face… Clark's hands where they rested against her body.

Hands that seemed to be losing their grip.

Hands that were suddenly gone and she was falling — flailing blindly in the dark. She opened her eyes but there was nothing to see. She wanted to scream for Clark. Didn't he realize that she needed him? That she needed help?

But her voice wouldn't work.

And then there was pain. So much pain. It threatened to consume her. And she at once realized that this must be what it felt like to die.

She had fallen to her death.

But then there was a voice. It was calling to her. It needed her help. What was it saying? She tried to concentrate on it.

"…tell me where they are," a man's voice instructed her.

What? She shook her head in confusion. Why didn't her eyes want to open? There was a strange buzzing in her ears — her body didn't seem to want to cooperate with her. Had she been paralyzed? "What?" she asked through a choked voice that she barely recognized as her own. "Please, I need help. Can you help me?"

"Yes. I can help you, Ms. Lane. You tell me where the Nirvana notes are and I will get you some help," the voice assured her.

Oh, the Nirvana notes. Yes, that was easy. Those were in her apartment under the cushion of her loveseat. "Yes. I can tell you."

"Good. I'm listening. Go on."

"They're…" Lois paused. This wasn't right. Something… she couldn't explain it, but something inside her told her that this was all wrong. She tried to reach up with her hands to rub her eyes, but met with resistance. But her hands weren't paralyzed, they were being restrained. They were tied down.


How could her hands be tied down if she had been flying only a second ago?

Because you weren't flying a second ago, her mind clarified.

And then it all came back to her. She was being held underground by Charles Knox. He wanted her Nirvana notes. He had stolen her memories from her. He had tortured her.

He was probably going to kill her.

The numbness in her body gave itself over to the pain and a million little shards of fire sliced through her as she remembered being electrocuted.

Her eyes flew open as she cried out, "No! No, I won't tell you."

Knox was standing in front of her with an eager look in his eyes. He blinked once and then the look faded into one of impatience. "Why are you fighting me? You know I have the power to hurt you again. That was merely a taste of what I can do. It can last much longer." His eyes narrowed. "I can make you talk. I *will* make you talk."

"You'll kill me," she stated flatly. "And then you'll have to answer to Mindy Church, won't you? I bet Mrs. Church wouldn't be too happy about that, would she?"

"Mrs. Church?" Knox gave her a puzzled look. "Now why would you think she's involved in this?"

"I heard you talking to Dr. Peterson about answering to *her*. I know your boss is a woman. And I know you used to be partners with Intergang on Nirvana. I'm willing to bet you still are." It was such an effort to talk, but she clung to the thought that Dan was probably on his way and he might be able to help her. And there was still a chance that Clark might find her — she had to give him time. "I think a woman has taken over Intergang, and I think that woman is Mindy Church."

Knox was silent. His silence was proof enough for her.

She had to keep him talking. Besides the pain involved with being electrocuted and the fear of not knowing what damage it was capable of causing, she wasn't sure her resolve could survive another round of it. She had almost given him exactly the information he had wanted… and on accident. She hadn't been able to think clearly.

Keep him talking. "But what I really want to know is how you got to Dr. Klein? How did you get him to work for you? He is an upstanding scientist in his field, devoted to his work. How could you have possibly…" Lois paused for a moment when she realized the answer. They had drugged him too.

Knox saw the realization on her face. "Yes. That's right. We used Klein to get the drug… him and that little assistant of his — Mandy. You'd be surprised what an otherwise loyal employee will do when you threaten to kill her family."

Lois blanched. Poor Dr. Klein. All this time he had been innocent. Well, as soon as she found a way out of this mess, she would get him cleared.

*If* she found a way out.

"So you had Dr. Klein's assistant slip him some of the very drug he was working on?" she guessed.

Knox didn't say anything.

"What is Mrs. Church planning to use the drug for?" She shifted against her bonds, hating that she was trapped by this man. She had to keep him talking.

"I think that's just about enough," Knox said, crossing his arms in front of him. "I'm the one doing the interrogating, not the other way around. Now, do you have anything you want to tell me? Or do you require further persuasion?" He uncrossed his arms and held the remote up in front of him.

Her palms began to sweat and her teeth were threatening to chatter. Clark would come. He would find her. She just had to last until then.

She just had to keep her mouth shut a little while longer.


Clark rode the private elevator down into the bunker below Costmart, silently seething that he couldn't go to Lois as Superman. He couldn't take the risk, though. Knox had threatened to kill Lois if he saw Superman anywhere close by and Clark couldn't even count the number of security cameras he had already seen thus far. He didn't think he could find them all or take them all out in time.

But 'Clark'… Knox wouldn't kill Lois if he saw just 'Clark' coming. He might actually even view it as an advantage. Knox might think he could use Clark, threaten him, to get whatever it was that he wanted.

Let him think that.

It hadn't taken much to get past the two men guarding the entrance to the elevator. Clark had tried to slip past them, but because he couldn't move at super speed, he had been caught. He knew he didn't have any time to spare, so he had fought back.

He had tried to be careful, but his mind had been on Lois. Clark winced as he remembered the sound of the bones shattering in the one guard's hand as Clark had sidestepped him and the man had punched the concrete wall behind Clark.

Better the concrete wall than Clark's body… well, maybe.

Clark had been afraid that the commotion they were causing was going to draw some unwanted attention, so he had knocked them out. His stomach churned a little at the thought. It came awfully close to crossing a line that he didn't want to think about — purposely hurting someone.

But he hadn't been left with many options. Lois had to be saved at all costs… Even if that meant Clark had to reveal his secret. He already knew that once he found her, if push came to shove, he would just change into Superman right then if he needed to — to save her.

Clark pressed the button on the panel of the elevator again — as if that would hurry it along. He was about to go insane waiting for the elevator to reach the bunker's level. When it finally did and the doors opened, he headed out of them at a run.

But then a sound brought him to an immediate halt, stealing his breath from his lungs. It was Lois.

She let out an angry sounding scream.

And then she was shouting, "No! I won't tell you!"

"Then I will kill you," the voice he recognized as Knox bit out.

"You'll kill me anyway — even if I tell you!"

Clark listened to her voice, following it to locate which room she was in. He could tell she was trying to be brave but he could hear the tremor in her voice and it made him ache. What was Knox doing to her?

"No. If you cooperate, I won't kill you," Clark heard Knox assure her. "I'll take your memories from you, but I won't kill you. You have my word."

"I'd rather die!" Clark heard her spat. He had located the room and he violently shoved the double doors open.

"Let her go, Knox!" he shouted as he entered through the doors.

"Clark!" Lois whimpered, her body slumping against the ropes holding her in place. Clark winced and turned on Knox, his eyes flashing dangerously.

"Mr. Kent," Knox addressed him coolly, apparently unfazed by the vehemence in Clark's glare. "I don't believe I invited you to this little party. Where's Agent Scardino?"

"He's on his way, but I was faster," Clark answered him, moving towards Lois. She was tied down in a chair and appeared to be hooked up to some kind of battery. Clark felt the color drain from his face. "Just what do you want?" he ground out between clenched teeth.

"For starters I want you to move back."

"And if I don't?" Clark challenged.

"Then Ms. Lane, here, is going to suffer a whole lot because of you." He held up some kind of remote in his hand and gestured with it. "If you push me, I just might have to kill her."

Clark wasn't sure if that battery had enough juice to actually kill Lois, but he wasn't taking any chances — he obediently backed up a few paces. "Okay, all right. I'm backing up." He looked into Lois's eyes and saw her determination. She had been resisting Knox. Her face was pale and drawn up from pain, but the fire still burned in her eyes. It threatened to overwhelm him.

He looked back at Knox and the device he held in his hand. Clark was sure if he moved at super speed that he could get to Knox and get that remote out of his hands before Knox had time to activate it again.

Clark would have to reveal himself in order to do it. But if that was the only way, he had to do it. He had no choice.

Knox was watching his eyes and he gave Clark the slightest of smirks. "Don't even think that you could get to me first. It only takes one push to activate the charge — it takes another push to deactivate it. And it's keyed to my thumbprint. I think you can imagine what would happen if I managed to press it only once… Are you in the mood for a barbeque?"

Lois pushed the remaining haze from her mind. Clark was here. He had come. She knew he would. But he hadn't come as Superman. She frowned — why had he come as Clark?

She watched him survey their situation, noticing the way he seemed to be calculating something. He was trying to make a decision. She felt her stomach flip-flop. He was considering doing something "super" to save her. She knew that's what he must be thinking.

She wasn't sure why he hadn't just come as Superman to begin with, but she had to stop him. Knox couldn't find out that he was Superman. If Knox found out that he was Superman…

Lois didn't even want to think about it.

"Knox. I'll give you what you want. Just let Clark go," she said, her tongue feeling thick. Her mouth felt like cotton had been stuffed in inside of it. "Please. I'll give it to you."

Knox was backing away from Clark, unintentionally moving closer to Lois. She tried to gauge how close he would have to be before she could attempt to kick the remote out of his hand. Please, Clark, she thought, please don't do anything stupid. Give me some time.

Clark watched Lois carefully. She seemed to be begging him with her eyes, but oddly enough it didn't seem like she was begging him to help her. Had she guessed that he was thinking of revealing himself? He frowned, probably. But how did she expect him to help her otherwise? What was it that Knox wanted? What was she willing to give him to spare Clark? "What do you want from her, Knox?"

"Why should I tell you?"

"Maybe I could get it for you." Clark was desperate. He would do anything to get Lois out of here, to get her safe. Maybe he could convince Knox to take him captive instead — let Lois go.

Knox looked like he was considering Clark's proposal. "Besides using Lois to draw Agent Scardino here, I want Dr. Klein's formula for Nirvana. Do you know where his notes are?"

Clark fidgeted. He didn't know where they were. But if the thief who had broken into Lois's apartment hadn't found them, then that meant they had to still be there. "Yes, I can get them for you." All Clark had to do was give Lois's place a quick x-ray and he would find them.

Lois was fixed intently on Knox as he came closer — almost within striking distance. Keep him talking, Clark. Give me a chance…

"And you would get it for me in exchange for Lois Lane's life?" Knox asked, one eyebrow raising ever so slightly. "You realize that I'll still have to erase her memory… and I'm not willing to let both of you go. You know too much. Are you willing to trade your life for hers?

"Yes. Please, just let her go," Clark pleaded. Knox wasn't willing to let any of them go alive — no matter what he said. But if Clark could just get Knox away from here, away from Lois… away from that remote…

Knox seemed to consider his request. But Lois was having none of it. She knew Knox couldn't kill Clark, not literally, and that Clark was doing what he could to get her out of here safely. But her mind raced with all the things that could go wrong — Clark could end up having to do something "super" and give himself away… or Knox could end up trying to shoot Clark and find out that way… "No. Clark! Don't do it."

"Shut up! Both of you," Knox snapped. He was just barely within her reach. Just a little more… "It's irrelevant who gives me what I want. If I kill you, Mr. Kent, I can torture what I need from Ms. Lane — once I've taken care of Agent Scardino."

There was no time left. Lois braced herself and kicked out at the remote Knox held in his hand. She connected with it and it popped up out of his hand… only to be caught by the other one.

"You'll be sorry you did that, Ms. Lane." Knox drew his sidearm from his jacket with his other hand and pointed it at Clark.

"No!" Lois shouted, kicking out at him again. He rolled his eyes and snorted contemptuously at her before pressing the button on the remote.

Lois screamed — bucking against the restraints that held her in firmly in place and then welcoming the placid blackness of unconsciousness that was threatening to overtake her. Clark, I'm sorry, she thought as the dark overtook her. I love you.

Clark watched in horror as Lois collapsed, her body convulsing against the current. Time seemed to stand still for just a moment and, before he could react, the doors to the room were thrown open.

Knox shot reflexively at the opening doors, hitting Dan Scardino in the left shoulder as he came barreling through them. A groan of pain came from Dan and he dropped to the ground, rolling and drawing his sidearm as he fell. He fired one shot.

Knox was tracking Scardino with his gun and was about to pull the trigger when the bullet from Scardino's gun caught him neatly in the forehead.

Clark was already running towards Knox and he caught his body as it fell. He pulled Knox's hand down to the remote that had fallen to the floor beneath them and pressed his unresisting thumb against the button.

Lois's body slumped limply against her restraints.

"Lois!" both men shouted into the silence of the room. Dan struggled to get up from the floor but collapsed with a groan. His eyes rolled back in his head as his arms became slack. A pool of blood was forming under his shoulder.

Dan needed help, but Lois was first.

Clark ran over to her chair and ripped away the ropes that were holding her. He checked her neck for a pulse and his knees almost buckled when he didn't find one.

In one fluid motion he scooped her up out of the chair and laid her down on the floor. He tipped her head back and pressed his mouth to hers, forcing air into her lungs. His mind flitted back to a night not so long ago, when he had been trying to revive her.

Clark put his hands to her chest and did compressions. He found himself saying words similar to the ones he had uttered that night, "Fight, Lois, come on, fight… Don't give up." Another breath into her mouth. "Please don't give up. I need you." More compressions.

He kept waiting for that moment, like the time before, where she would suck in a shaky breath… and everything would be okay.

But she wasn't breathing.

And everything wasn't okay.

"No, Lois!" His voice trembled and he almost choked on her name. "Don't do this." He took her gently by the shoulders and shook her. "Come back to me. Breathe, Lois." He put his lips back to her mouth and blew another breath into her lungs. "Breathe, dammit!"

This couldn't be it. It couldn't end like this. Not like this.

Clark looked around and spotted the battery that was strapped to the bottom of her chair. He pulled the electrodes from Lois's forehead and let them fall to the floor before running over to Knox's body. He pressed Knox's thumb to the remote and then picked up the thrumming electrodes — he could feel the energy coursing through them. Holding them in one hand, he held his other hand above Lois's heart.

"Please, live…"


Clark had nodded off and he shook himself lightly to wake up, sitting up a little straighter in his chair as he did. He looked over and winced to see Lois lying so still in her hospital bed. An oxygen cannula lay beneath her nose and a bewildering array of monitors, wires, and IV's were attached to her body.

This confirmation of her mortality made Clark weak and he tipped his head back against the wall behind him.

She's okay now, he told himself. She's here, she's safe — everything's gonna be all right.

He had lost count of the number of times he had told himself that in the past few hours. But it wouldn't hurt to tell himself again.

It was over. She was okay now.

Clark frowned as he lowered his head back down. She wasn't all right. She was trembling. The motion was shaking the blanket covering her. Every so often her head jerked from one side to the other and it seemed as if she was having a dream — maybe a nightmare. Clark got up and walked over to her, laying his hand gently on her forehead to reassure her.

"Shhhh. It's okay. I'm here," he soothed.

"No," she murmured. "No, stop!"

"Lois, honey, it's just a bad dream," he whispered gently. "Go back to sleep, you'll be okay." He stroked her forehead softly and pulled her covers up around her a little more snugly.

"Don't!" she cried. "Get away!"

Clark knew she wasn't talking to him, but it still caused a knee-jerk reaction and he backed up just a little bit. "Lois?" he said her name softly. "You're safe now. It's okay."

He started to move towards her again when her eyes flew open and she sat up in bed, sucking in a shaky breath.

"Wait, Lois. You're gonna pull something loose…"

Lois looked up at him and her eyes widened. She jerked her covers up around her and snaked further down under them. "Who? Who are you?" She squinted through the darkness at Clark. "Where am I?" She searched the room, her head turning in jerky movements.

"It's Clark. You're okay. You're at the hospital and…"


"Yes." Clark stepped in closer to her, ready to hold her in his arms.

"Clark who?"

Her words stopped him dead in his tracks. No. No her memory was just hazy. "You remember, Lois. Clark. We work together at the Daily Planet."

"No," she snorted. "I don't work with anyone and I don't know a 'Clark'."

Clark felt himself beginning to panic. She didn't remember him? At all? "Lois…"

"Stop saying my name. You don't know me. I haven't seen you before in my life."

Clark swallowed convulsively. Now he knew how Dan Scardino had felt. Maybe things would just be a little hazy at first. "Lo…" Clark swallowed again, and could feel the lump forming in his throat, "Ms. Lane, it's all right. I know you don't remember me, but trust me, you do know me. I'm a very good friend. I'm here to help…" He took a step closer to her and her eyes widened.

"Stop!" She held up one hand in front of her. "Stop right there. Don't move!" Her hand fumbled to get the covers off of her and she climbed weakly out of bed away from him, causing a couple of monitor leads to be pulled from her body.

His heart was breaking inside him. The doctor had told him that he didn't know how extensive the damage would be, that they wouldn't know for sure until she woke up. But he had warned Clark that it was very possible there could be permanent brain damage — permanent memory loss.

Besides the pain in his chest that was cutting off the air to his lungs, Clark was numb. This wasn't what was supposed to happen. He had saved her. She was supposed to be okay.

Lois continued backing away from him, pulling wires and machines with her, until her back was against the wall. Alarms were now blaring in the stark silence of the room. She yelped when one of the monitors tipped over and crashed to the floor beside her.

Clark reached out for her instinctively. "Wait! Don't. You're going to hurt yourself. Please."

Lois looked like a cornered animal and her hand came out to slap his away. "Get back! Don't touch me! Help! Someone help me!"

Clark reeled and closed his eyes, trying to steady himself. But he found that he couldn't. Lois was gone. Everything was gone.


Clark felt himself falling. His world was turning upside down and whirling around him. His eyes snapped open just a second before his body hit the floor.

He caught himself, hovering mere inches above the hardwood floor of Lois's bedroom. Her deep, easy breathing continued on undisturbed and he let out a sigh of relief.

It had only been a dream.

Clark floated up and turned himself upright, looking over at Lois sleeping peacefully in her bed. Her face held a soft, warm glow from the small lamp that was illuminating the room against the dark night outside, and he couldn't remember a time when she had looked more beautiful.

They had left the hospital hours ago. Lois had been discharged after a day and a half of monitoring, and her new doctor, Dr. Hendricks, had told Clark to keep a close eye on her and to call if he noticed anything unusual.

But so far Lois had just slept. That's all she had done at the hospital, and then on the way home in the car. Clark had carried her up to her apartment and she had managed to shower and clean up before practically collapsing on her bed.

He longed to talk to her — to see what she remembered. She had looked so delicate and frail lying in that hospital bed. The images from his dream with the tubes and monitors — that part had been real enough.

Would the rest of it be real as well? Would she wake up, not remembering who he was? The thought made Clark's blood run cold. He had told her that he loved her and wanted to be with her even if her memories never came back, and that was true. But what if she didn't even remember him? What then?

He knew the answer. He would just have to earn her trust again. There was no other option. He would patiently stay by her side, allowing her to learn about him, about the life they'd had, gaining her trust… until she realized what he already knew.

That he couldn't live without her.

Clark walked over to her and reached out with his hand to brush a few loose hairs from her forehead. "Oh, Lois," he whispered. "I almost lost you. What would I have done…?" He broke off, unable and unwilling to complete that thought. The words echoed eerily through his mind as he realized he had said something similar only a week ago. He had been afraid that he'd lost her once before, when he had seen her lying so still after the explosion at Bob Fences laboratory.

She had been okay, that time. But then he'd almost lost her again for a completely different reason — because of his own thick-headedness and stupidity. Clark leaned down and pressed his lips lightly to her forehead.

Lois's eyelids fluttered open at the contact. "Clark? What happened? Where are we?" she whispered hoarsely, glancing around the room.

Hope swelled in his heart. She remembered him. It was a start. "It's okay, honey," he offered the endearment hesitantly. He let out a sigh of relief when he didn't see a shred of shock in her face. "Everything's all right." He wasn't sure if he was trying to assure her or himself. "You're safe now, back in your own bed."

She moaned quietly. "I've certainly felt better…"

Clark smiled softly at her. "I know. I'm sorry. Knox electrocuted you, more than once." He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. "The doctor said it was probably going to take a few days before you were back up to speed."

Lois nodded at him and glanced down at her left hand. Her eyes widened and she looked back up at him in panic. "Clark! My ring! My ring is gone!" Where had she lost it? She remembered having it on when she was with Knox — when her memory had come back to her. What could have happened to it since then?

"Lois, it's okay…"

"No, Clark. It's not okay. I've lost it. Maybe it's in my bed?" Lois started to peel her covers back to search for the ring. Maybe it had come off in her sleep?

"Lois," Clark tried again, taking hold of her questing hands in his, "I've got your ring. I… had to take it off…"

"You had to take it off?" she interrupted him, ceasing in her search. "Why?" Then she frowned at him and began to shake her head. "No. Oh, no, you don't, Clark Kent. I said 'yes' and I meant it. You are not taking it back because of some flimsy excuse like…"

Clark cut off her words with a kiss, slightly overwhelmed by the moment. This was his Lois. She was back. His legs felt a little weak and he sat down on the bed beside her before kissing her again. "Oh, Lois," he murmured into her mouth as he slid his hand through her hair, cupping the back of her head and drawing her against him. "It's really you, isn't it? You're back."

She pulled away from him and gave him a watery smile before nodding at him. "Yeah. I remember everything."


She raised an eyebrow at him. "Yes, *everything*, but especially that proposal…" she snuggled against him, "and my ring. Why did you take it off?"

"The hospital had to remove your jewelry for some of the scans they needed to do. If you'll notice, your earrings are missing too."

Lois leaned away and reached up to feel one of her ears. Yep, they were gone too. She smiled timidly at him. "Oh." And then she watched with her breath held tightly in her chest as Clark reached into his pocket and withdrew the precious possession between two fingers. Even in the relative darkness of the room, the ring still managed to glimmer.

Her eyes threatened to cloud up when he took her left hand in his.

"Lois Lane, will you marry me?" The anxious expectation in his face made her smile. He was such a… farm boy, sometimes. The world didn't know it, but it needed Clark Kent as much as it had ever needed Superman. She knew she did.

"Yes. I haven't changed my mind. I will marry you, Clark… you. All of you."

Clark closed his eyes and let out a soft sigh before sliding the ring onto her finger. He would never let her go again. He watched as Lois looked down at the ring. She twisted it slightly, straightening it, and he felt a little light-headed when she smiled and reached out for him. He leaned into her waiting arms and gave her a gentle squeeze. "Lois, I'm so sorry…"

She interrupted him, pressing her lips to his mouth in a soft kiss. "No. No more apologies," she murmured against his lips. "We've spent too much time lately in apologies. This wasn't your fault and it had nothing to do with Superman. So don't even think of bringing that up again."

He shook his head. "No. You're right. When I finally came to my senses, I realized that you are perfectly capable of getting into trouble all on your own," he teased.

She laughed and smacked him lightly. "Watch it."

He grinned at her. "That's when I realized it was much more dangerous for me to stay away from you."

"Yes," she said quietly, looking at him through veiled lashes, "I *need* Superman."

The hazy desire he saw in her eyes sent all the blood in his body rushing south. "And Superman needs you." He leaned in to brush his lips against hers, cupping the side of her face in his hand, before taking her top lip in his mouth and gently tasting it.

He felt her tremble softly just a moment before her tongue slipped inside his mouth. He moaned and felt her smile as she deepened the kiss. Clark kissed her hungrily in return.

She was here, she was safe, and she was going to be his wife.

"Is there anything I can do for you?" he murmured quietly. "Is there anything you need?" The look she gave him in response stole his breath and his face flushed.

"Mmm. I can think of one or two things…" She grinned mischievously. "But, yes, actually, I could use a glass of water. My mouth and throat feel like I've been drinking sand."

"Is that *all* you want?" Clark smiled suggestively at her before getting up from the bed.

It was her turn to blush. "Umm, why don't we discuss the rest of my *demands* when you get back?"

Clark felt his heart rate jump in response to her insinuation and he sprinted out of her bedroom, headed for her kitchen.

"Oh, and Clark?" he heard her shout from the bedroom. "See if I have any ice cream in the freezer, please?"

He smiled to himself. She had to be feeling better if she was ready for some ice cream. Clark grabbed a glass and opened her refrigerator, pulling out her bottled water. He then opened her freezer to get some ice and see if she had any ice cream — preferably chocolate.

Nope, no chocolate, but she had some rocky road. A minute later he had her water and two bowls of ice cream. He carried them at normal speed to her bedroom so he didn't spill anything.

He was surprised to find her asleep again when he walked in. He had only been gone a couple of minutes. Setting the bowls and glass down quietly so he didn't disturb her, he walked over and kissed her softly. "G'night, sweetheart," he whispered.

"Mmmm," she murmured sleepily. Her arms came out from her blanket and tugged on him. "Come to bed, Clark."

He sucked in a shaky breath at her words. How he had longed for the day that he would hear her say those words to him. He floated into bed, coming to rest behind her body. Draping one arm around her, he pulled her snugly against him and she let out a contented sigh.

Clark had wanted nothing more than to fall asleep with her in his arms the other night and that was precisely what he planned to do tonight.


Lois woke up when she heard voices. She opened her eyes and took in her surroundings. She was in her apartment, in her own bed.

Her eyes caught sight of two bowls on her nightstand. She rose up and peered inside them — melted ice cream. And then it came back to her.

Clark had slept with her last night.

She remembered waking up scared a couple of times during the night. But then she had felt the solid warmth of his body against hers and the weight of his arm wrapped around her.

She had never felt so safe… so loved.

A smile touched her lips as she thought about the fact that very soon she would have that same feeling every night. She had actually wondered how she would adjust to sleeping with someone in the same bed. Now she wasn't sure she ever wanted to sleep alone again.

Lois shuddered when she thought about how long it had taken them to get to this place, and how long her mother would probably try to drag out their engagement. That thought in itself was enough to send her into an almost panic attack.

She wondered how Clark felt about eloping?

Where was Clark?

There was soft laughing coming from her living room. One laugh was clearly distinguishable as Clark's and it made her smile. But she thought she recognized the other voice too.

Climbing quietly out of bed, she padded silently to her bedroom door and peeked out.

It was Dan! He was standing just inside her front door, talking to Clark. A smile tugged at her lips. Clark was still in his cotton pajama pants and shirt from last night. And he had never looked better.

Lois craned her neck to hear what they were saying.

"You better be careful or they'll end up putting you on desk duty at work," Clark was telling him with a broad grin.

"Don't make me hurt you, Kent. I'd hate to have to explain to my sergeant why I saved your life only to beat you up later with my one good arm." Dan took a half-hearted swing at Clark and grinned. His other arm was bandaged up at the shoulder. The only reason Lois could tell was because Dan had another one of those god-awful Hawaiian shirts on that he was so fond of. This one was even more hideous than usual — bright orange with big blue flowers. Blue flowers? Since when? The shirt had short sleeves and she could see the bandages peeking out from under the sleeve. His arm was held tightly against his body in a sling.

"Hey, don't injure me," Clark protested. "I still have a patient to look after."

The teasing grin left Dan's face and he turned a little solemn. "How is Lois, anyway?"

"I think she's better. She's pretty much slept the whole time." Clark let out a quiet sigh. "But she was awake long enough last night to tell me that she had her memory back."

Dan nodded softly. "You take good care of her, Kent. I mean it. Or I *will* have to come back and hurt you. You've got a real special lady."

"Yeah. I know."

Clark's expression threatened to make Lois teary-eyed. She felt ridiculous standing there listening in on their conversation, but she was too engrossed to stop.

Dan straightened up, looking a little uncomfortable with all the sentiment. "When she wakes up tell her that I came by, will you?"

Lois couldn't let him leave without saying goodbye. "Why don't you tell her yourself?" she said a little loudly and walked out of her bedroom.

"Lois!" Dan exclaimed, meeting her halfway. She was a little surprised when he embraced her with his one good arm and gave her a tender hug. "How are you feeling?"

"Me? Not bad. Obviously better than you." She eyed his shoulder. How had that happened?

"This? Nah, just a flesh wound." He flashed a smile at her. She realized that while she and Dan would have never made a very good match — whether she was involved with Clark or not — the man did have a killer smile. It was infectious and she found herself smiling back at him.

"Sure." She raised an eyebrow at him. "Were you really going to leave without telling me goodbye? In person?"

Dan shuffled his feet and looked away. "Yeah, well, I had to get back down to the precinct. Henderson needed some more information from me, and Dr. Klein…"

"Oh, my god," Lois interrupted. "Dr. Klein!" She looked over at Clark. "Clark, he's innocent. Knox admitted that Dr. Peterson was drugging Dr. Klein too. And his assistant, umm… Mandy? They were using her to…" She broke off when she noticed that both men were nodding their heads at her. "You already know?"

"Yeah," Dan told her. "Mandy called Inspector Henderson yesterday from her parent's house where she was hiding out and confessed. Told him that Knox had threatened to kill her family if she hadn't agreed to cooperate. Apparently she had lifted a sample of the Nirvana drug from the vault and slipped it in Dr. Klein's coffee. But that appears to be the extent of her involvement. Poor girl seems crushed by what happened to Dr. Klein."

Lois frowned. Part of her wanted to be upset with the girl, but Mandy had only done what she did to protect her family. "But she turned herself in, right? That's got to count for something, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, that, plus Kent's testimony, and yours, and the fact that Dr. Klein doesn't want to press charges…" he shrugged, "She'll still be charged, but that will definitely weigh in her favor."

Lois nodded at him and caught Clark out of the corner of her eye. He had this smile on his face — a smile of complete contentment. Lois smiled shyly back at him and moved past Dan to give him a quick hug. "Good morning."

"Morning." He squeezed her back gently.

"Uh, yeah," Dan said, looking uncomfortable. "Well, anyway, now that Knox is dead, Mandy felt comfortable enough to come forward. She's coming back to Metropolis today to turn herself in."

Lois felt her mouth drop open. "Hold on. Knox is dead?"

Dan nodded softly at her. "Yeah. But that's a story I'll let Kent tell. I've really got to be getting down to the precinct. I'll call and check on you before I leave town."

"You're leaving?" Lois asked and then realized how dumb the question sounded.

Dan cleared his throat a little, "Yeah. I was only here to testify at the Knox trial… and… and there isn't really anything to keep me here." He looked away from her, letting his gaze drop to the floor. "Anyway, I'm gonna hook up with my new partner in Philadelphia. She's already started our investigation of a large pharmaceutical company there."

Lois felt the color deepen in her cheeks. Dan really was a nice guy. "Dan, for what it's worth… I'm sorry for leading you on. I wasn't really quite… myself." She paused for a second and realized what he had just said. She looked at him mischievously. "She?"

He smiled at her. "Yeah, Christine. It should be interesting. I think she could even give *you* a run for your money. I hope I can keep up."

"Hah." Lois laughed. "Don't bet on it."

Dan smiled again and walked towards her front door. He stopped just long enough to give Lois a quick hug. Clark's hand came out to stop Dan from walking away and the two men shook hands.

"Thanks, Dan." There was an intensity in Clark's face that caught Lois off guard. What had happened between the two of them to bring about such a radical change?

"You're welcome. Bye you two. And try to stay out of trouble… although that might be asking too much of Lois." Dan smiled.

"Hey!" Lois cried in mock protest.

Dan simply smiled again. "Oh, and Lois, Inspector Henderson wants to get a statement from you as soon as you're feeling up to it."

She nodded. "Yeah. I need to talk to him about Mindy Church too."

Dan raised his eyebrows. "Mindy? Bill Sr.'s wife? Why?"

"Because I think she's the one running Intergang now that her husband and Bill Jr. are in prison. I couldn't ever get Knox to actually admit it but he kept referring to his boss as a woman. It has to be her." She sighed. "But Dr. Peterson is dead and if Knox is dead too, then it looks like we might have a hard time proving it. I'm sure she's destroyed every paper file and wiped every computer file related to Nirvana by now."

Dan nodded. "Yeah, but if anyone can do it, you two can." He opened the door and hesitated just a second before continuing, "Listen, you guys be careful and call if you need anything." He pointed at Clark. "Take care of her."

Clark nodded and something unspoken seemed to pass between the two men.

"I'll see ya around," Dan said, stepping out into the hallway.

"Bye, Dan." Lois and Clark said together.

When the door closed, Lois turned an appraising gaze on Clark. "That sure was an about face. I would almost think the two of you were friends." She smirked.

"Dan's not such a bad guy."

She lifted her eyebrows. "Really…"

Clark took her hand in his and led her over to her loveseat. At his urging she sat down with him. "He… He saved my life. Maybe not in the way he thinks he did, but he saved it nonetheless."


"It's hard to believe, it all happened so fast. Knox shocked you and was about to pull the trigger to shoot me. But then Dan came busting through the doors. Knox shot Dan in the shoulder but Dan shot him in the head. That's how Knox died. And that's how Dan saved me. He risked his life for both of us that day."

Clark was quiet for a few seconds before continuing, "Dan was released from the hospital just a few hours before you. He lost some blood but the bullet passed through cleanly. So there wasn't any infection to deal with." He smiled softly at her and reached down with one hand to squeeze her leg. "After that, I didn't see how I could be mad at him." Clark knew what he owed Dan and he knew just what Dan had lost to him. He gave Lois's leg another squeeze.

"Mmm. I see. And what about me?" She ran her hand up his leg and took her turn giving him a squeeze.

Clark shivered. "What about you?"

"What are you going to do if I'm still mad at you?"

"Are you?" Clark felt his palms start to sweat. He hadn't even considered the possibility. He probably should have, but after everything…

"No." Lois laid her hand against the side of his face and felt of it tenderly. "I'm not mad. I remember what I learned about you and your fears of losing me… and that you realized that being together means making decisions together. I remember how hard we worked to get here. In fact…"

She stood up from the loveseat and urged him to do this same. He stood up questioningly and then moved out of the way at her insistence. Lois lifted up on the cushion of her loveseat and withdrew a familiar burgundy journal.

"Would you do me a favor?" she asked earnestly.

"Anything," he promised.

"Burn this."

He furrowed his brow. "Burn it? But it has all of your memories and the things you had written down the past week."

She nodded. "I know. But I have those memories now, Clark. And that's all they are now, just memories. They've already begun to fade. If I ever read this journal again, it will just bring everything back to stark reality. I have no reason to keep it. Plus, it has information in it about you that could be dangerous if it got out. Burn it."

She handed the book over to him and Clark carried it into the kitchen and set it in her kitchen sink, lowering his glasses to turn his heat vision on it.

"No wait!" she exclaimed.

Clark jumped and jerked his glasses back up. "What?"

Lois ran over and picked up her memory box from where it still sat on her floor. She rifled through it until she found what she was looking for. She brought it over and handed it to him.

Clark looked down at the envelope in her hands — 'Tax Info 1995'.

"This too," she instructed.

He raised his eyebrows at her. "Umm, Lois, I don't…"

"Trust me, Clark, just do it."

He laid the papers down in the sink with the journal and tugged his glasses down once more. A couple of quick blasts of heat vision and the paper was burning. He reached over and opened her kitchen window before giving the pile a couple more bursts for good measure.

And then it was gone. Nothing but a pile of light-colored ashes remained.

Lois breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. She walked up behind Clark and wrapped her arms around his waist, smoothing her hands up and across his chest. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." The hair on Clark's neck stood up when she brought one hand up to tug at the neckline of the cotton shirt he was wearing. She went up on tiptoe and placed a soft kiss at the base of his neck. She pulled the shirt a little lower and trailed a couple more kisses down. Her lips were so soft and tender that Clark grabbed hold of the counter to steady himself. He wondered if he would ever get used to the feel of her lips on his skin.

He turned to face her, capturing her in his arms. A small yawn escaped from her lips and she gave him a timid smile. "Sorry. Guess I'm still recuperating."

"Maybe you should go back to bed."

She shook her head softly and laid it against him, snuggling into the bend of his neck. She inhaled his masculine scent combined with traces of fabric softener from his shirt. "No. I'm not ready to give this up yet. The feel of your arms around me, the warmth of your body against mine."

Clark scooped her up in his arms and she let out a little gasp. "You don't have to," he murmured. "I'll hold you until you fall asleep."

Lois ran her fingers softly across his chest, smoothing out a wrinkle in his t-shirt, and looked up at him. "What about after I fall asleep? Will you hold me then too?"

Clark gave her a tender squeeze and she laid her head back against his shoulder. "You'll be lucky if I ever let you go again." He carried her into the bedroom and laid her gently down on the bed. She covered her mouth trying to conceal another yawn. Clark smiled warmly at her and pulled the covers back on her bed, sliding in beside her. He wrapped one arm around her to hold her loosely in an embrace.

Lois shivered a little at the solid feel of his body against hers and tears threatened her eyes at the rightness of it. "I love you," she whispered.

Clark tightened his arms around her and nuzzled her ear. "I love you too, honey."

Honey. The word thrilled her in a way she had never imagined and a smile spread across her lips. "Will you be here when I wake up?"

"If I'm not, I'll be back as soon as I can. I promise."

She knew he would and she closed her eyes to fall asleep in his arms.



AUTHORS NOTES (from Sue and DJ):

I'll go first — age before beauty. <g> Four months ago DJ came up with this awesome idea for a fic. I was so insanely jealous that I hadn't thought of it that I immediately began a campaign to flatter, charm and finagle her into "co-writing" it with me. And she fell for it! So DJ would write, write, write her guts out. Then I would read it and be the world's most intrusive beta and just flat-out make changes instead of suggestions. She would go over the part again and send it back to me. I might tweak a word or two and then — voila! — she would post and the accolades just rolled in. I had several pangs of conscience that people were lumping me in with her since she really did all the heavy lifting on this one.

I'm deeply grateful to DJ for letting me ride shotgun. It was a blast and I'm afraid she's going to wish she'd never done it the next time she sends me something to beta and I just go to town on it.

Thanks DJ — for the laughs, the fun, the bomp-chicka, and (above all) for putting up with me sharing a corner of a spotlight that should have been yours alone.


Now DJ. Where do I begin? Okay, the thank yous. My first thank you has to go to Sue. Sue, I honestly am at a loss for words for how to properly thank you for your help on this story and for co-writing it with me. I have learned so much over the past (checks calendar) four months writing this with you. Wow! Has it really been over four months? <checks calendar again> Yep. I posted the first part of this story on November 30, 2006 and here it is April 13, 2007. Wow.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. <g> Sue you were a wonderful inspiration. I know you keep trying to convince everyone that this was my story and I was the one writing it, and blah blah blah… But they didn't get to see all the spitballing sessions you had with me. How you gave my muse just the right nudge sometimes. Or how you would write something and send it to me and it would be absolutely perfect for the scene we were working on. Not to mention all the little "one word" corrections you obsessed over — to get it "just right". <hugs> This story would not have been what it was if I had written it on my own — certainly not as in-depth and multi-faceted (at least as I hope it was).

<DJ bows and scrapes>

So thank *you*. Thanks for everything — especially for all I've learned from you. <sniffle>

And to all of you readers out there — thank you so much for going on this four-month-long journey with us. Encouraging us with all your funny little comments — not to mention your threats about how you expected the story to proceed and end. <g> I truly hope you had as much fun reading it as we had writing it. FDK truly is the drug of choice for the writers on this fandom — without it our muses would just dry up and wither away. <g> So thank you for keeping Babbles so fat and happy — she sends her regards.

I also want to thank Nancy for allowing me to PM her a few times about medical questions and such — she is always so willing to help a girl out. <g>

In case any of you want to see where any of my research came from (yes, I did try to do some homework to make this story believable) you can check out the links I've posted below. They contain information on neurobiology, amnesia, and also Project MKULTRA that I mentioned a couple of times. The information was all obtained from Wikipedia — so take that into account when considering the validity of the information.

And now, though I do have some other stories in the works, I believe I am going to take a nice long break (Babbles is already breaking out the martinis <g>). Thanks again everyone for a wonderful four months.