It Might Have Been

By Ray Reynolds <>

Rated: PG-13

Submitted: December 2006

Summary: Lois marries Lex and the Planet doesn't get rebuilt. Can Clark find a job? Can he find love? An Elseworlds tale.

All trademarks and copyrights are assigned to their respective owners. I make no claim against any of them. Characters outside the normal Lois and Clark universe are created by me and remain my property. Any additional comments or feedback can be directed to


I owe a great debt of gratitude to my beta readers, without whom this story would never have seen the light of day.

First, I'd like to thank Wendy Richards. I sent her the original story to READ since she had encouraged me to write it. You can guess how shocked I was to get the story back beta read with my many grammatical errors corrected and suggestions for the plot as well. Her work was above and beyond the call of duty.

Next I'd like to thank Terry Leatherwood. We didn't see eye to eye on a lot of scenes, sorry your revelation scene didn't make it, but without his suggestions of how to add meat to the bones of my story it would be a lot less interesting. You really made me think and for that I thank you.

Lastly I'd like to thank NearlyNoelNeill. She took a rambling beast of a story and tamed it with her excellent comments and insightful suggestions. She really pulled this story together into its final form. She also taught me how to use the track function in MS- WORD which is a really cool feature!

Thank you all so very much, for all you time, effort and willingness to put up with my poor writing skills, I hope you like the final product as much as I do.


It is probably not a secret to many that first season Lois Lane is not my favorite person. She seemed to me to be cruel, condescending, and really not very likable, in my opinion. She changed as the show progressed and I came to like her very much for her loyalty, especially during the New Krypton arc, so I'm not a total Lois hater. While Clark was not perfect, far from it, I've always felt he was treated badly and kept coming back for more. His rare flashes of backbone were not enough to change my opinion of him as Lois's doormat.

A long time ago I postulated to authors a particular scenario: What if Lois married Luthor and not only doesn't Lex end up smashed on the sidewalk, their marriage progressed and seemed happy. This situation would force Clark to make a decision. Does he spend his life pining for his lost love or does he move on? It is, again, not surprising that no one was interested in writing this kind of story.

The idea languished for years in the back of my mind and, since I've never had the desire to write, the story was never written. I changed my mind recently, though it was no one event that motivated me to write the story that explored my idea. I'm still not a writer, I hope that you will be understanding, and I promise I won't be doing this again, I'm sure. I just had to get this off my chest.

There are a few minor changes to the villain in my story. Lex is still a sociopath, but he is not obsessive. He was *not* sprayed with the 100% solution of Miranda's 'Revenge', so he is not obsessed to the point of sloppiness. I feel this makes him even scarier as a villain, but that is my opinion only. It does make it easier for me, though, since he is able to maintain his façade and not confirm Superman's suspicions about him, to the detriment of all involved. A number of clues that our Clark had about Luthor's evil were not available to this Clark.

I also wanted to explore the theory espoused by HG Wells the first time he met Lois and Clark. He told Lois that soul mates did not always get together. Sometimes they didn't meet, or if they met they might not like each other, or, due to other circumstances like those in my story, might not fall in love.

This theory was rendered moot by the writers on the show once they decided that Lois and Clark could fall in love and marry, and by then it would have been sacrilege for them *not* to be together. However, at this time period, there *is* the possibility for them not to get together if circumstances conspired against them. I wanted to show that Clark might be able love another woman, not in place of Lois— he never stops loving her—but as another love, different but no less valid for the characters involved.

If you've read this far, thank you, and I hope you enjoy the story. If you've read this far and decide not to read it based on what I've told you, thank you anyway and I understand your decision. I look forward to hearing from you, pro or con.

"It Might Have Been"

{*For of all sad words of tongue or pen,

The saddest are these: "It might have been!"*}

From the poem "Maud Muller" by John Greenleaf Whittier


Lex Luthor sat behind his immense mahogany desk smoking a Cuban cigar, looking out the floor-to-ceiling glass doors at the city of Metropolis. His city. His plans for acquiring Lois Lane were progressing nicely. In fact he expected Nigel St. John any minute so they could finalize the next phase.

As if summoned by Luthor's thoughts, St. John appeared, standing silently in front of the desk. He cleared his throat softly.

Luthor turned his chair to face his second in command, set his cigar in the ashtray, and leaned back with his hands clasped in front of him. "Ah Nigel, just the man I've been looking for."

"Indeed, Sir. How may I be of assistance?"

"It is time to move to the next phase of my plan to wed Lois Lane. I want to move ahead with the destruction of the Daily Planet building." Thinking about the removal of the next obstacle caused his lips to curl into a cruel smile.

"Should I contact Joe 'the Blow', as we discussed earlier?"

Lex thought for a second. "No. I've decided that setting a bomb engenders too much risk. I think we need to make this look like an accident. There will be less chance that someone could trace this back to me."

"I have an idea along those lines, if you'd care to hear it."

Lex looked at Nigel with a raised eyebrow, waved his hand in a manner that said 'proceed' and sat back in his chair to hear the proposal. He picked up his cigar and inhaled deeply, letting the smoke escape from the side of his mouth.

"I have been studying the Daily Planet blueprints in preparation for deciding where to place the bomb, had you decided on that method. I have found a long neglected gas main in the basement. It resides very near the presses in the same room as their flammable storage.

"With a judicious use of force, that gas main could develop a slight rupture, allowing gas to fill the area. It would be more than enough to destroy the presses and seriously undermine the structural stability of the building itself, all while looking like a natural failure of an old pipe."

Lex was intrigued. He pondered for a minute before following up. "What kind of ignition source would be needed to cause this unfortunate accident to take place?"

Nigel's smile would have frozen anyone else's blood, but only made Lex more excited. "That is the beauty of this plan, sir. There is an exhaust fan in the room that is controlled only by a circuit breaker in another part of the building. My plan is to trip the breaker and 'adjust' some of the fan wiring so that when it is turned on again a spark results, thus setting off the gas. Additionally, all of the flammable chemical drums kept in the room will rupture, adding to the conflagration."

Lex smiled, pleased with the beauty of the plan. This was much more elegant than a mere bomb. That would be so plebian, so mundane, beneath him really. This plan had style, panache. There was still one more detail to ascertain, however. "How can you be sure the fan will be turned on at the proper time? I want this to happen in the early morning hours, when there are the fewest people in the building."

"I am surprised, Sir. Loss of life has never figured into your plans before."

He leaned farther back in his chair and rested his feet on the corner of the desk. "Oh it doesn't, Nigel. I just want this to happen when there are a minimal number of people around so that our 'accident' has the least probability of being discovered. I want to reduce the chance of failure to near zero."

"Ah, I see. This is most fortunate, then. I have had my spies documenting the night watchman's routine for a few days. Every night between 3:00 and 3:15 a.m. he checks this particular room. No one on the second or third shift goes in there as all chemicals needed for them are put out by the day shift. If the leak happens to start during the second shift, there will be more than enough gas escaped into the room when the watchman checks."

"Does he check inside the room? He could smell the gas and raise the alarm." Lex sat straighter in his chair, a frown crossing his normally placid features, fearful that a minor flaw could derail the plan.

"No, sir. He merely verifies that the fan is running, as a safety measure. It *is* a flammable storage area."

Lex digested this information for a few seconds before a sly smile played across his face and his eyes met those of his major domo. "Excellent, Nigel. I applaud your industry in having this information at hand so readily."

"I do try, Sir. I hate to bring up negatives at a time like this, but what about Superman?"

"Ah, yes, Superman. He is an unknown in our little equation, isn't he? Let me ask you this. Once the fan is turned on, how long do you estimate before the conflagration is beyond even Superman's abilities to stop it?"

Nigel paused for a few seconds then replied, "I would estimate five to ten seconds at most. The gas would ignite immediately, of course, and the chemical drums should ignite thereafter. Once that happens almost nothing can stop it, since the gas main will rupture even further in the explosion. The chemicals will flow everywhere, spreading the flames throughout the basement. Unless he is actually sitting atop the Daily Planet, I doubt he would be able to arrive in time."

Lex weighed this last bit of information before making his next statement, his brow furrowed in concentration. "I like it, but to further reduce the chance of Superman's interference, I'd like you to arrange a diversion large enough to get Superman's attention. I think it should be in another city to further our chances of success. Use your initiative as to what you think will best suit my purposes. Just make sure that whatever it is will keep him occupied long enough so that Superman will be busy during the crucial time at the Daily Planet."

"I have just the thing Sir. Now, to the heart of the matter. When should this 'accident' take place?"

Lex leaned forward resting his elbows on the desk. His eyes gleamed ferally; soon Lois Lane would be his. "As soon as you can get all the pieces in place, preferably tomorrow. I want no more delays. Now that Lois is considering my marriage proposal, I want to remove her last bit of support. With the Daily Planet gone, she will come to me in her hour of need and I will be here to offer my support and condolences, as is my right. I will be leaving within the hour for a meeting in Paris. Keep me informed."

"Very good, Sir," Nigel said and turning on his heel he exited the office without a backward glance.

Lex leaned back in his chair, took a deep drag on his cigar and blew a perfect smoke ring into the air, then chuckled softly.


Superman was flying the third circuit of his patrol of Metropolis. It was now just about 3 a.m. He had spent the evening chasing minor criminals and traffic accidents. If he didn't know better he would have sworn that every mugger in the city had decided to work tonight! As if that wasn't enough there had been a light drizzle that made the roads just wet enough to cause hundreds of fender benders. While the work wasn't hard, it was draining. It finally looked like the city was becoming quiet enough so that Clark felt he could wrap up his patrol and catch a few hours sleep before work that morning.

Just as he was beginning his last sweep over Suicide Slum, he caught an LNN broadcast of a warehouse fire in Chicago. Normally this wouldn't have caused Clark to alter his plans for sleep, since the emergency services in Chicago should be able to handle a single warehouse fire. But this one was different. The warehouse was right next to an oil refinery on the South Side and was presenting a very real danger of spreading to that refinery. Since things seemed quiet in Metropolis, Superman decided to head over to Chicago and lend his help.

Once out of Metropolis air space, he sped up and arrived in Chicago in seconds. He could see the glow of the fire as he neared the city. Quickly spotting the fire marshal, he landed and asked what he could do. The fire marshal told Clark that he was having trouble reaching the back of the warehouse with his hoses due to the number of hot spots in evidence. The firefighters were forced to spread out so that none were available to get to the back. While they had called in units from other precincts, those had not yet arrived.

"Chief, I'll get some water on that fire, you keep your men where they are," Superman said, and he took off. He noted some empty coal cars in the nearby rail yard, so he picked one up and headed for Lake Michigan. After three trips to the lake, the fire was out and the firefighters were starting to pull back and clean up.

Checking back with the Fire Marshall and finding nothing more he could do, Clark noticed it was heading toward four o'clock and he should be getting home. Just as he was taking off, he heard a female voice calling him.

"Superman! Hey, Superman! Could I ask you some questions?"

Looking down he saw a woman. She was about 5'7" and slim but shapely. She had ash blonde hair pulled away from her face with a clip. He guessed her hair would fall to her shoulders if she were to free it. Her face was pleasing though no one would mistake her for a runway model. Her determined expression reminded him of Lois when she was on the trail of a story, though that was the only similarity. He noticed her eyes were blue-gray and they twinkled in the dim light. He estimated her age as between 25 and 30.

Superman floated back to the ground and crossed his arms over his chest, accentuating his height. "Yes, Ms… ?"

"Blake, Pamela Blake, but everyone calls me Pam. Chicago Tribune."

"How can I help you, Pam?"

"I was wondering why you turned up here and what you can tell me about the fire."

"I'm here because I heard a broadcast on LNN giving details of this fire and the potential danger to people and property due to the close proximity of the refinery. Luckily, I heard that report in time to prevent more damage to the surrounding area. I was able to bring water to the back of the warehouse where the firemen were not able to reach with their hoses. I can't tell you any more than that. You'll need to get the official report from the fire department.

"If I may ask, what are *you* doing here at this time in the morning? You seem to be the only reporter on the scene."

She blushed a bit at being 'interviewed' by Superman. "I was in the area. I was at my brother's for a party that ran quite late. When I saw the glow of the fire I got over here as quickly as I could. Looks like this will be another scoop for the Trib! My editor should be pleased. We don't get a lot of first hand Superman coverage. I'm going to be a big shot in the newsroom, at least for a couple of days! Thanks so much for taking time to talk me Superman; I hope you stop by Chicago more often."

"I can't promise that Ms. Blake, sorry, Pam, but I'll be around if I'm needed." With that Clark took off toward Metropolis and, he hoped, bed.


Pam watched as Superman flew from the scene. 'He sure is handsome, much better looking in person, that's for sure. His pictures don't do him justice,' she thought. He was taller than she'd imagined; especially when he crossed his arms over his chest like he'd done, he looked positively huge. The most striking feature of his face was his eyes. They were a deep chocolate brown; she didn't think she'd ever seen eyes quite that shade before. And she'd have remembered because she had a really good memory for faces.

'God, I just met *Superman*,' she thought. She had always wanted to meet him but working in Chicago wasn't exactly conducive to first hand interviews so her meeting tonight was a real coup. She had admired him and his work since his first appearance at EPRAD. His actions since that time proved to her that he was a man to be admired. He selflessly used his amazing abilities to benefit mankind when most people would have used them for personal gain if not for actual evil. Meeting him had caused a warm feeling to settle over her that hadn't gone away.

She shook her head and put thoughts of Superman out of her mind as she headed toward her car. She needed to get to the newsroom to write up the story.


Clark glanced down as he lifted off; following Pam as she made her way to her car. Were all female reporters so intense, he wondered. Even though there was no similarity to them physically, she reminded him of Lois. He could see some of the drive that was present in abundance in his partner in this woman as well. "I hope she got some good quotes for her story,' he thought as he sped up; wanting to get to bed before anything else happened.

As soon as he neared Metropolis, Clark knew there would be no sleep this night. It seemed that every police and fire siren in the city was wailing, with all those vehicles converging on one place. The place looked to be very near the Daily Planet, so he sped up. He pulled up short, shocked at the sight. The Daily Planet building was engulfed in flames which seemed to be spreading ever higher throughout the building. The emergency services were doing a valiant job keeping away curious onlookers and fighting the fire, but were obviously in need of his assistance. Quickly spotting the fire marshal, Clark landed.

"Superman! Boy, am I glad you're here! Where have you been?" The fire marshal looked relieved now that Superman had arrived.

"Never mind that now. What can I do to help?"

"We've shut off the gas main that was feeding the major part of the fire. We need to get some foam on the chemicals that are stored in the basement and my men are having a hard time getting in there due to the heat."

"No problem. Just point me to the chemicals storage area you want me to hit first."

"There's only one Superman, thankfully, but it was pretty full according to the night supervisor. This blueprint shows the room is in the back of the building behind the presses. But due to the explosions, there may be chemicals all over that area."

"I'll be sure to watch for that. Get me the foam and I'll get on it right away."

"Jack!" the fire chief called, "Give Superman that chemical foam retardant equipment, he's going to try to put out that part of the fire for us!"

"Yes sir! Thanks, Superman," Jack said.

"No need to thank me, it's what I do." Superman could see the look of relief in the fireman's eyes.

"Yeah. There's plenty of foam here and I'll make sure it keeps flowing for you."

"Thanks, Jack. I'll get this out as soon as I can." With that, he grabbed the hose and headed into the fire.

Superman could see why the firefighters were having such a hard time getting the foam to this area. The flames were so hot that the presses were starting to melt. He started spraying foam at his feet and spread it slowly and completely throughout the area. About five minutes later, after a major portion of the flames were extinguished, he was able to survey the basement more thoroughly. What used to be the chemical storage area was mostly gone. The internal and external walls were destroyed. There was a massive hole in the back wall and there was major structural damage to the building in this area.

After ensuring that any chemically-fueled flames were extinguished, Superman surveyed the damage with an eye toward stabilizing the building. He zipped back to the fire line, dropping off the equipment he no longer needed. He headed to the Metropolis Salvage Yard to grab some I-beams. It took him another fifteen minutes to shore up the back of the building so that it was no longer in imminent danger of collapse. He hoped to make it safe for the fire inspection teams he knew would soon be swarming this area.


Perry White hated to be awakened in the middle of the night. It was never good news. To say this call was not good news was a major understatement. The night supervisor told him that there had been an explosion and a fire in the basement of the Planet. He was able to assure Perry that while there were some injuries, there were no fatalities, for which Perry was very grateful. Before he left the house, he called Clark but did not find him at home. Frustrated, he left a terse message and called Lois next. He also called the head of the Planet board and asked her to notify Lex Luthor and anyone else she needed to call. He then got dressed and headed over to survey the damage to his beloved Daily Planet.

Upon his arrival, Perry's heart rose into his throat. The building was engulfed in flames and every window in the building was gone. The explosion had caused damage to structures that surrounded it as well. It seemed to him that the building might even be leaning slightly but he couldn't be sure. This was bad, very bad. Given the current financial state of the paper, he seriously feared for the continued existence of the Daily Planet.

He moved toward the nearest policeman and identified himself. He was immediately taken to the fire marshal, who was calmly directing his men.

"Excuse me. I'm Perry White, editor of the Planet. What can you tell me about what happened?"

"Mr. White, Dan Rogers. I can't tell you much at this time. All we know is that about 3:15 there was an explosion that your night watchman seems to think took place in the chemical storage room. He'd noticed that the exhaust fan wasn't on when he made his rounds, as he says is sometimes the case. He went to the circuit breaker panel and reset the breaker that turned on the fan. The next thing he knew he was picking himself up off the floor across the room. He got up and started to give the alarm. Not that much alarm was needed, because when your employees felt the explosion, they started running for the exits.

"There were a few minor injuries. Your night watchman has a broken arm, but thankfully there were no fatalities. We were lucky this happened while there were very few employees on the scene. Superman is in there right now getting foam on the chemical fires and my men tell me he's making great progress. It's a good thing, too, since we couldn't get near there because of the heat. As soon as the fire is contained we'll start the investigation into the cause."

"Thanks, I know you're busy so I'll let you get back to what you were doing. Keep me posted if anything important changes, would you?" Perry ran his hand over his face trying to digest the information he'd just been given. His thinning hair fell into his eyes and he felt like he'd aged ten years in the last hour.

"No problem Mr. White, I'll talk to you later." With that he turned back to his directing his men in their battle against the flames.

Perry started to head over to the lines of ambulances to check on his people when he noticed Lois fighting her way through the crowd. "Lois! Over here!" Perry called.


"Lois! Over here!"

Lois, upon catching sight of Perry, ran over to him. She took one look and saw that things were bad. From the look on his face you'd think someone close to him had died. She quickly pushed that thought away to concentrate on what he was telling her. Perry recounted everything Dan Rogers had told him and then paused, wilting like a balloon with a slow leak. The weight of the situation clearly showed on Perry's face and Lois tried to cheer him up.

"Chief, everything will be OK. Remember, Lex owns the Planet now. He'll rebuild, I know he will." She placed her hand on Perry's arm and squeezed, trying to give him some support.

"I don't know, honey. With the current financial status of the Planet, losin' advertisers like we've been, I just don't know. Combine that with the extensive damage visible from here and I don't know if the insurance will cover it all," he said, his voice breaking.

"Chief, don't think about that now. I'll talk to Lex in the morning, well later this morning I guess. Once we know the full extent of the damages I'll get him to commit to rebuild! The city needs the Planet. Heck, the *world* needs the Planet. We'll be up and running soon, you'll see! By the way Chief, where's Clark? I thought he'd be here by now." Her annoyance at Clark was clearly reflected on her face.

"I don't know. I called him before I talked to you but nobody answered. I don't know where he could be this time of night but he's not around. I guess that's something we'll have to ask him when he shows up."

"You want me to interview the employees and the crowd, Chief?" she asked hopefully. If she could get him thinking of the story maybe he'd snap out of the mood he was in.

"If you want to, though I don't know where you're goin' to print the story once you get it." He paused and looked at her but she had the feeling he wasn't seeing her. "Maybe you can sell it freelance to the Star; I bet they'd be real pleased to get a first hand account by Lois Lane," he said ironically.

Lois's hackles raised on that statement. "Don't say that Perry! We'll be back in business soon, you'll see! I'm going to talk to some firefighters, get their take on the situation; I'll see you in a while."

"You do that, I'm gonna to sit down here and rest for a bit, it's been a long night." She saw him lower himself to the curb holding his head in his hands as his beloved Daily Planet was consumed by the flames.


Perry watched Lois as she made her way to the first firefighter she could see. He shook his head in wonderment. Lois seemed so sure Luthor was going to rebuild the Planet, but he didn't share her optimism. The Planet was currently losing money, a lot of money, and Lex Luthor didn't like that. He'd heard rumblings from the suits upstairs of closing the paper if the losses continued much longer.

He couldn't get over how quickly the Planet had fallen into financial trouble. It seemed as if half the advertisers cut back their business in the first month. The cancellations happened soon after. Perry had connections in the business world. He had tried to find out the cause, but he couldn't get any concrete evidence. It was damn frustrating! There was something going on. Someone was sabotaging his paper and there wasn't one thing he could do about it.

Perry sat alone as the turmoil continued around him. His gaze was drawn to the building as a crash caught his attention. Something large had fallen but he didn't know what it could be. He was no engineer, but to his untrained eye it didn't look like the shell of the building could be salvaged. The block where the Planet resided was prime Metropolis real estate. If rebuilding required the complete razing of the building, he was positive Luthor would not rebuild. He could easily sell the property for more than he would get from the insurance. The Planet's old board had been woefully remiss in their duty. They had failed to keep the insurance updated to current property values in recent years. There had been a boom in real estate prices that hadn't been taken into account when renewing the policy. They were probably too cheap to pay the increased premiums.

He wasn't ready to give up yet, however. This fire was too convenient to have been accidental. There had to be someone responsible and he intended to find out who that was.

He stood up slowly, his old knees complaining at having to haul his body off the curb. He scanned the crowd looking for Lois but couldn't find her. He had to admire her spirit. That girl wasn't going to stop being a reporter just because the Planet was going up in flames, but he felt she was going to be in for a major disappointment. She actually believed she could convince Luthor to rebuild the Planet on nothing more than the newspaper's reputation and her force of will. While he'd concede that if anyone could influence Luthor she could, but he didn't feel that she carried that kind of weight with him, despite what she thought. She might think that Luthor loved her, and maybe he did, but Perry doubted that as well, what Luthor loved was power, the more the better.

The Daily Planet, especially in its current position, did nothing to increase his power base. Luthor had never needed the Planet to augment his media empire. He couldn't figure out why Luthor had ever bought the business in the first place. Maybe Luthor bought it to impress Lois, but he doubted that as well, since Lois never cared who owned the paper as long as they stayed out of her way. None of this made sense— not Luthor buying the Planet, not the advertisers leaving in droves, and especially not this fire. There was something wrong; of that he was sure. He just needed to figure out what, and more importantly who, was behind it. He just hoped he wasn't in over his head.


Superman spent the next two hours assisting the fire service personnel. He had done everything he could and was about to leave when he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"Superman, may I talk to you?"

"Good morning Lois. Though on second thought, what's good about it?"

"Nothing, that's for sure. What can you tell me? I know about the explosion, the subsequent fires and the injuries so you can skip all that."

"The explosion in the chemical storage room destroyed a large portion of the rear of the building, causing major structural damage. I was able to shore it up with I-beams so that the fire investigators can get in and check for signs of arson. I didn't see anything overt in that direction and I looked pretty thoroughly. I'm sure the investigators will confirm it if that is the case. They've just entered the building and are going over everything with a fine-toothed comb. I heard them say that it will be at least two hours before they can have a preliminary finding."

"The fire chief told me the explosion was caused by a gas leak in that room. I didn't know there was gas in the building," Lois said, looking confused, as if she couldn't believe there was something about the Planet that she didn't know.

"I don't think many people did. It was on old line that had been capped off at least twenty years ago. I think it was even buried behind some cabinets, based on the debris I saw. There was evidence of corrosion on the line when I looked. Maybe there was some dampness that led to the failure. I don't want to speculate too much, though," he said wearily.

"I appreciate that. Whatever the cause, the Planet is in real trouble, that's for sure. This is the last thing we need with everything we've been through in the last few weeks. I'm going over to see Lex in an hour or so to get the insurance information from him so we can get the claims process going immediately."

At the mention of Luthor, Superman's face hardened into a grimace, but he said nothing. Though the look did not go unnoticed by Lois she decided not to comment on it.

"Superman, have you seen Clark? He wasn't home last night when Perry called and he hasn't been around all night here either."

Clark saw the annoyed look on her face and paused for a second. What could he tell Lois about his absence? He'd have to think about that, but for now he'd tell her nothing. "I'm sorry Lois, I haven't seen him, but I've been pretty busy tonight. You'll have to ask him when you see him."

"Oh I will, believe me! He'd better have a good excuse for not being here." She clenched her fists in anger, her frustration with Clark evident in her stance.

"I'm sure he will, Lois," Superman said hoping that would be true by the time he and Lois met again. "I have to get going now, I'll check in with you later."

"Thanks for the interview Superman, and thanks for everything you did tonight. I'm sure it would have been a lot worse without you." She placed her hand on his arm gratefully, a soft smile on her face as she looked into his eyes.

"I only wish I could have done more, Lois."


Lex Luthor returned to his suite at the Hotel De Crillon. Looking at his watch, he noted that it was about 6:00 a.m. in Metropolis. He turned on LNN to see that coverage of the explosion and subsequent fire at the Daily Planet was the major story. He smiled a smile that Satan would have been proud of.

He picked up the phone and called Mrs. Cox, directing her to put Nigel on the line.

"Yes sir," Nigel said upon picking up the phone.

"I see there was some 'difficulty' at the Daily Planet last night," he said the pleasure evident in his voice.

"Yes there was, it seems that an unfortunate accident has befallen the great newspaper, Sir."

"And where was the city's protector when all this was going on?"

"Superman was dealing with a warehouse fire in Chicago, sir, one that was threatening an oil refinery. He dealt with it in short order, but was too late to avert the disaster at the Planet," Nigel said with a wry tone. "I'm sure he feels terrible about his… failure."

"I'm sure he does. What is the status of the building?"

"There is nothing official yet. Unofficially, there is major structural damage to the rear of the building and if not for Superman's efforts at shoring it up there may have been a complete collapse of at least the rear half of the structure. The fire marshal's investigators are trying to determine the cause of the explosion. Preliminary reports point to a rusted gas main and some faulty wiring, nothing that would hint at arson."

"Nigel, please express my concern and thanks to the authorities and the board of the Planet for me if you would. Tell them I will meet with them when I return."

"Of course. Is there anything else you require?"

"Not right now. Please put Mrs. Cox back on. I have need of her services." he said.

"As you wish, Sir."

Completing his call Lex opened the complementary champagne he'd received. While it wasn't up to his usual standards it was a decent vintage. He poured himself a glass and took a sip. He sat down in the Louis the XIV chair, took another sip and savored his latest triumph. He had a few hours before his next meeting and he couldn't think of a better way to pass the time than in anticipation of his ultimate goal, the complete possession of Lois Lane.


Clark made his way to work that morning after zipping home for a shower and a quick change of clothes. He kept rehearsing his excuse for his absence when Perry had called. He could tell by the message that Perry was upset that he wasn't around. After what Lois had said earlier, he knew he'd better come up with a better alibi than his usual excuses. He rounded the corner and before he saw him he heard Perry yelling at people. Oh boy, this wasn't going to be fun at all.

"Kent! Where in the Sam Hill have you been! I've been tryin' to get hold of you all night!"

"I know, Chief. I'm sorry. I was out of town helping a neighbor. I didn't get back until a half hour ago. When I heard your message I came right here after changing my clothes. Could you fill me in?" He looked down at his shoes and shoved his hands deep into his pockets.

Perry seemed to accept Clark's excuse and started to bring him up to speed on everything that had happened. While he knew most of it, there were a few bits of information that were new, so it wasn't a total waste of his time. Just as Perry was finishing his final point, Clark saw Lois walk up to where they had gathered.

"Clark! Where were you last night? We've been worried! We could have used you here!" Clark could see anger and frustration evident in every step she took toward him.

"I know, Lois; I was just telling Perry I was out of town helping a neighbor. It was too late to come back last night so I stayed over with them. I got back early this morning. Once I heard Perry's message I came straight here. What can I do now to help?"

"I don't know," she said, her frustration getting the better of her. "We have to wait for the investigators and engineers to finish before we can get more information. I'm not even sure what we can do next. We don't have a place to work. We don't have a place to print a paper even if we did have a place to write it! Oh, Clark, what are we going to do?"

Her face fell and Clark pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly. "I don't know Lois, I just don't know. I do know that we cannot give up. We have to stay focused. This is going to be a trying time for everyone and we need to be there for them and for each other."


Lois arrived at the LexCorp offices at 9 o'clock that morning in higher spirits than a few hours ago. Her boyfriend owned the Planet and she was confident that he'd want to rebuild as much as she did. She was certain that he'd agree with her on the need for a strong Daily Planet to act as a watchdog over corruption and wrongdoing in the city. The Star—God, she hated to even think that name—couldn't even begin to do the job the Planet did, not on their best day. They were a bunch of hacks and practiced tabloid journalism. Now there was an oxymoron!

'I wonder if Lex knows about the fire. Of course he does, it's been all over LNN all morning! He's probably called my apartment a dozen times already. He's always so concerned for me and he'll know how much this means to me. I'm sure he's already thought about what will need to be done to get the Planet back on its feet,' she thought as she stepped into the elevator. She pressed the button for the penthouse and settled back against the rear wall as the car made its long journey.

With quiet of the elevator and the lack of activity the stress of the previous few hours crashed over Lois like a wave. Her knees buckled and she slid down the wall until she was crouched down with her head in her hands. "The Planet is gone!" she wailed as the tears flowed unbidden down her cheeks. The image of Perry, slumped on the curb looking ten years older, caused more tears and sobs to wrack her body. It hurt her terribly to see a good man like Perry brought so low by the loss of his beloved Daily Planet. Glancing at the panel she saw that her destination was fast approaching. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and stood back up. She knew she needed to get her emotions under control. She couldn't go to Lex looking like a distraught woman, not if she wanted him to respect her. She had to convince him that rebuilding the Planet was the right thing to do, she just had to. She couldn't live with the image of Perry she'd seen that morning and she'd do whatever it took to make sure she didn't see it ever again.

The car stopped, the doors opened, and she stepped out into the spacious waiting room. She walked into Lex's office and was met by Mrs. Cox.

"I need to see Lex right away," Lois said as she tried to get by the woman who barred her way.

"Mr. Luthor is not here, Ms. Lane. He had an emergency and flew to Paris yesterday afternoon," Mrs. Cox said with a smirk on her face.

"Paris?! I need to talk to him right now! Please get him on the phone, this is important!" Lois paced the office like a caged animal as the secretary placed the call. Once Mrs. Cox had Luthor on the phone she handed the instrument to Lois.

"Lois, darling, I'm glad you called! I saw the news about the Planet, I'm so sorry."

"Thanks, Lex. The Planet is the reason I called. I want to talk to you about rebuilding." She stood next to the desk, her body vibrating with frustration.

"Don't you think you're jumping ahead a bit here, darling? The report on the cause of the fire hasn't been released, nor has the engineers' report on the building itself."

Lex's lack of enthusiasm struck her like a cold slap in the face. "I know that, but you are going to rebuild, right?" she asked pointedly.

"I'm not sure Lois. I've been on the phone to the accountants already. There might not be enough insurance money to rebuild."

"Insurance?" she said incredulously. "This is the Daily Planet we're talking about here. The most respected paper in the country, if not the world! How could you not rebuild?"

"Lois, my dear, I've been in contact with my engineers and it doesn't look good for the building. Based on their experience, they feel the damage is quite severe. I have been told that if Superman hadn't shored it up when he did, it might have collapsed completely. If that is the case, and I feel it is, when you combine that with the problems of the last few months, the Daily Planet may not be a financially viable operation."

"But Lex…"

"No 'buts' Lois. Let's wait for the final reports so I can make an informed decision. I promise I'll do everything I can, within reason." His tone was one that might be used with a recalcitrant child.

Lois was devastated, but she also knew now was not the time to press further. Hiding her disappointment she continued. "OK. We'll wait for the final reports. Look, I have some things I need to do so I'll be leaving now."

"Oh, Lois? We are still on for the ballet tomorrow night? 8:00 pm?"

"What? Oh, yes, thanks for reminding me. With all that's gone on today I've forgotten completely. I'll be ready tomorrow at eight. See you then." The ballet, however, was the last thing on her mind. How could he be thinking about the ballet with the Planet in the shape it was! Was he totally without feeling? This wasn't over, not by a long shot! She'd go to the ballet, but it would be a total waste of her time. Her mind would be on the Daily Planet and nothing else.


Three weeks later, Lois opened the locks on her apartment door and plopped herself on one of her couches. It had been a rough day, probably the roughest she'd had in quite a while. Not only had she just started her new job at LNN the week before, which had been stressful enough, but she'd had a very uncomfortable meeting that day with Clark.

They had agreed to meet for lunch, and she'd taken the time to show him around LNN, give him an idea what she did there, the opportunities television journalism presented, that kind of thing. Then she'd made her first mistake of the day, she'd asked Clark to come to work with her. While he wasn't mean about it, he made himself very clear that working for Lex Luthor, in any capacity, was not something he'd ever do. No matter how much Lois prodded and cajoled him, he stood firm. Finally, Lois relented rather than have their meeting degenerate into a shouting match. She could always bring the subject up again later when she felt he might be more receptive.

They'd had a nice lunch, considering, talking about what they had been doing since the Planet closed. Clark told her about his job search. He hadn't applied to any other Metropolis newspapers, which had surprised her. Clark had said he didn't feel comfortable working at the Star, and the other papers were even smaller, some being only weeklies, so his choices were rather limited. He'd sent resumes to the Washington Times and the Chicago Tribune, among others, both of which he knew had openings on the city desk. He was really hoping for Chicago. It would put him closer to his parents and make it easier for him to get home to help out at harvest time and the like. Of course, none of that was certain. He had heard nothing from either paper yet.

Lois had felt a bit lost when he'd said that. Clark was her best friend, what was she going to do if he left town for a new job? Why did he have to be so stubborn? Here she was offering him a good job, at more pay she might add, right here in the city. He had dismissed Lex's offer out of hand because of his 'feelings' that Lex was not what he seemed. What really angered her was when she had pressed him for any tiny bit of evidence to support his claim, he could produce none! He had brought this up to her before. He'd had no evidence then and he had none now. She'd never have believed that Clark could be jealous. She'd have sworn he didn't have a jealous bone in his body. Besides there was nothing to be jealous of! Lex and Clark traveled in different circles. Clark was a good, maybe even great, reporter but he'd never be a captain of industry like Lex, nor did she think he wanted to be, so why was he jealous of Lex to the point that he wouldn't even work for him? It just didn't make sense and that, if nothing else, frustrated her to no end. If he kept this up he was going to hurt their friendship!

If it wasn't jealousy, then the alternative made even less sense. Clark was always the one to give a person the benefit of the doubt, whereas she didn't trust anyone. If she didn't get any bad vibes from Lex, why couldn't Clark see that? Her reporters' instincts told her Lex was a businessman who, while tough in his business dealings, was fair. Hadn't he taken care of all the Planet employees? He'd done everything he could for them once he'd determined that remaining open wasn't feasible. She was still hurting about that! She'd begged and pleaded. She'd tried to appeal to his civic pride, to no avail. Not being able to convince Lex to keep the Planet open was her greatest regret but she'd had to move on. Why couldn't Clark? How could he be so totally unreasonable? Did he really value their friendship, *her*, so little that his pride would take precedence over their friendship? If he could do that then she had to question the kind of friendship they had.

After lunch there was still some time before she was due back at work, so they'd decided to take a stroll through the park. They'd walked for a while when Clark asked her if she wanted to sit and rest. They'd sat on a bench, enjoying the sunny day in companionable silence. Clark broke that silence when he'd picked up her hand and turned to look into her eyes.

"Lois, I have loved you for a long, long time. Ever since I saw you during my first interview with Perry. You had to have known," he'd said, his eyes reflecting his love for her.

Lois was surprised at his courage to make this declaration given the circumstances but managed to respond, "Yes Clark, I guess I knew you were attracted to me but…"

"Lois, it's not just attraction. I love you. I love everything about you. I want to have a relationship with you."

She was stunned, how could he do this to her? How could he embarrass her like this? Not once, in all their time together, had he ever taken the initiative to ask her on a date and *now* he wanted a relationship? He knew she was seriously dating Lex and that he'd proposed for God's sake. What did he expect her to do, fall at his feet and thank him for falling in love with her? Did he really think she was going to drop Lex like a hot potato because he'd decided he wanted to have a relationship? As angry as this declaration had made her she could see in his eyes that he was sincere. Thinking back on their friendship if he'd only said something before she'd gotten serious with Lex she might have been more receptive to the idea than she had allowed herself to admit prior to today.

She dropped her gaze to her hands and paused. She loved Clark, as a friend, and she knew that what she had to tell him was going to hurt but she couldn't allow him to think that he was going to change her mind. She looked directly into his eyes and squeezed his hands with hers. "Clark, you have to know that I love you too, just not that way. We've talked about this before. I love you very much; you're the brother I never had. I love going over to your place, eating pizza and watching videos and just talking, but—that's all it is, two good friends enjoying each others company. I'm sorry, Clark."

"I understand, I guess. I had to make one last effort to tell you how I feel before you made a final decision on… that proposal. I guess we'd better head back now." Clark's face showed his deep disappointment but there was more than that, there was embarrassment as well.

"There is one thing I need you to do. I need you to contact someone for me; I need to talk to him before I make a final decision."

"Who's that, Lois?"

"I think you know."

"Yeah." Clark stood and started to walk toward the park exit, his shoulders hunched and his head down. He'd stopped to wait for her to catch up. He'd escorted her back to LNN even though she'd guessed that he'd rather be a thousand miles away from her.

The rest of the day had been a disaster too. Lois was so upset by Clark's declaration of love that she left to go home after two hours, when it became obvious to everyone that her mind wasn't on her job. Her boss had called her in and told her to go home. He had said that he could see she was upset and he hoped she'd be better tomorrow. If she had been told this while she'd worked at the Planet she'd have fought tooth and nail to stay. As a testament to her emotional condition she hadn't argued, she'd just grabbed her purse and almost ran out of the building.

Clark wasn't the only thing on her mind, though his declaration had surprised her. Leave it to a man to assume something more was going on when nothing but platonic friendship was in the offing. Granted, he was attractive, there was no denying that, but she wanted more than just animal attraction. She wanted a man who she could respect, someone whom she could look up to. She was pleased that a man as important as Lex Luthor was interested in her.

It wasn't that she hadn't told Clark before that she didn't feel that way about him either. She'd told him that to his face the time he'd had amnesia. Though there was a lot of emotional hugging of each other going on; most of that was due to the pressures everyone was feeling. First about their impending doom due to Nightfall, then for the elation everyone felt at being saved by Superman. She'd done nothing to lead him on. She'd been dating Lex for the last few months, for heavens sake! Didn't he see that? If she was in love with Clark, why would she be dating another man? It was pretty convenient that Clark should declare himself now just when she was getting ready to give Lex an answer to his proposal.

He was probably jealous, just like he'd been when she'd started dating Lex. After that hostage situation he'd warned her about being with Lex, but, as usual, he could give her no specific reasons, just his vague feelings of dislike for Lex as a man. He'd told her he had no proof. Even Superman had no proof that Lex was anything other than what he appeared to be, a rich businessman, who was also Metropolis's biggest philanthropist.

Lex had done his best for the employees of the Daily Planet. He had incorporated all the local and foreign bureaus the Planet operated into his LNN network. Where there was overlap in the same city and cuts had to be made, he'd done everything possible to see that Planet employees were placed elsewhere within LNN. If that was impossible, they were given a very generous severance package and a letter of recommendation. Though it hurt her grievously, and she had fought tooth and nail to change his mind, Lex had stood firm that it was not a wise financial decision to continue operations at the Planet. He was a businessman first and foremost, after all, and the Daily Planet was not a charity.


Perry's decision to retire upon the absorption of continuing Daily Planet operations into LNN was finally announced. He had told Lois there was only one Daily Planet. He just wasn't interested in starting over at another paper, though he did get offers from many prestigious news organizations. He'd originally felt there might have been sabotage involved in the destruction of the Planet, considering that the financial trouble the paper had been experiencing seemed to come out of nowhere. He'd read the preliminary report that showed no evidence of wrongdoing with skepticism. It was released before the full investigation was completed, so he continued his own efforts to uncover the truth. Two weeks later the final report was issued confirming the original findings. The Daily Planet building had been destroyed by a horrible accident brought on by poor maintenance. His best efforts had been unable to unearth anything to the contrary so he was forced to admit failure.

An old gas main had sustained damage over the years, probably due to careless employees banging things against it, not knowing what it was. Added to mix had been some bad wiring in an exhaust fan. Unnoticed by maintenance, a supposed explosion-proof fan hadn't been inspected in years and had developed a section of bare wiring due to corrosion of the exterior coating. When the night watchman had turned the circuit breaker on, the fan sparked and ignited the gas that had escaped into the room. It was not known how long the gas had been building up. It had to have been hours, based on the destructive force of the blast. When the final report, verified by officials Perry trusted to be thorough, was published, he had to give up his hope of proving sabotage. It also forced him to give up hope for continuing operations of the Planet, since Lex had been hinting very strongly that the numbers didn't support such a decision.

Perry decided that his best option was to retire early and spend more time with Alice. He'd received a very nice retirement package from Luthor. With that and his investments, he'd be very comfortable, very comfortable indeed.


Nigel St. John walked into Luthor's office in his usual calm, confident manner. He stood in front of the heavy mahogany desk and waited for his employer to acknowledge him. He didn't have to wait long. Lex Luthor turned from his surveying of the city and saw him standing there.

"Nigel, congratulations are in order!"

"Indeed?" He wondered what had caused the obvious enthusiasm his boss was exhibiting.

"Yes. The final report on the unfortunate 'incident' at the Daily Planet was issued today. Well-respected city officials have concluded that a horrible accident, brought about by poor maintenance, resulted in a gas explosion and subsequent fire that destroyed the building. We're lucky the fire insurance company has no restrictions on payouts due to lack of maintenance, don't you think?"

"Certainly, Sir, very fortunate. If I may be so bold, was the insurance enough to cover the rebuilding of the structure?"

"The policy that was owned by the Planet board before I took them over did not. However, the added policy I took out upon the purchase paid out very handsomely. More than enough to rebuild if I was so inclined, which I am not."

"No, of course not, Sir."

"I was also able to sell the real estate to one of my holding companies. I plan to erect a new building in its place that will generate millions more in revenue in one year than I could have realized from the Daily Planet in ten! All in all, a very satisfactory outcome.

"The reason I called you in is to reward you for a job well done. I am very pleased with the results of this operation. I am adding a bonus to your salary this month. I trust you will find it acceptable."

"I am certain that I will, Sir. My true reward is personal, the pride of a job well done. I feel that this operation was one of my best, maybe the best of my career." The pleasure he experienced from the praise of his employer was reflected by his slight smile and the miniscule change in his stance as Luthor regarded him.

"It was excellent, every step planned and executed to perfection. I especially liked the touch of having Superman in Chicago at the time."

"That particular detail was my signature twist for this operation. I wanted to make absolutely sure there would be no way he could interfere before irreparable damage was done to the building."

"How did you know he'd go to the warehouse fire? That's not something he'd usually be interested in." Luthor leaned over the desk and removed a cigar from the humidor, trimming the tip and lighting it as Nigel talked.

"I made sure that the LNN report expressed the danger to surrounding structures and residents due to the oil refinery nearby. I did not believe he could resist it. But just in case, there was a backup plan in effect here in Metropolis if he did not arrive in Chicago as expected," he said quite proudly.

"Excellent, Nigel, excellent! I knew my faith in you was not misplaced!"

"I hope it never is, Sir."

"I'm sure it won't be. That will be all for now." With that Luthor turned to the paperwork on his desk effectively dismissing him.

Nigel turned and left the office as silently as he'd entered, his mind occupied with his plans to transfer this 'bonus' to his private Swiss account.


Lois waited impatiently in her apartment that evening. Had Clark been able to contact Superman? Would he come tonight? You could never tell. If he got busy he might not be able to come for days! She couldn't put Lex off for that long! He'd been dropping 'subtle' hints lately that he was becoming impatient. But she had to know for sure before she made her decision, she just had to!

To calm herself, she decided to take a nice hot bubble bath. She'd just finished drying her hair when she heard a knock on the window. She turned and hurried into the living room. She saw Superman floating outside her window. Rushing over she opened it and stepped back.

"Superman! You're here. Please, wait a minute while I change into something a bit more appropriate."

"Unless it's lead-lined, don't bother, Lois," Superman said flatly.

Surprised and stunned Lois stepped back and bumped into her couch. He'd never talked like that to her! Why would he say something like that? While she wanted to tear into him for hurting her like that she had more important things on her mind. She gathered herself and said "Yes, well… please sit down, Superman."

"No thank you, Lois," he said rather curtly. "I can't stay long. Could you please tell me why you wanted to see me?"

It was crunch time, now or never, and she was nervous. She couldn't understand why he was being so rude and short with her. Nevertheless she screwed up her courage and continued.

"I love you, Superman. I've loved you since I flew with you that first day. I can't make a final decision until I know… Is there a chance for us?" she asked. Her love and her insecurity showed on her face and in her posture. Her eyes held hope and love in equal measure but her body huddled in on itself with her insecurity.

"Lois, you don't really know me—"

"I *do* know you. I know you're kind and good and caring. You have integrity and morals. You're the person I love! If you were an ordinary man living an ordinary life I'd still love you just the same."

Lois saw Superman stiffen at that last comment though she couldn't understand why. His expression turned even colder, if that was possible.

"Under the circumstances, Lois, I find that hard to believe. I'm sorry, I have to leave now." His face was as hard and unreadable as she'd ever seen it. The only times she'd seen that look was when he dealt with the worst criminals he faced. It scared her more than anything ever had to have him to look at her that way. With that he turned and floated out the window, and she felt, out of her life.

His last comment confused her, what did he mean by 'under the circumstances?' What circumstances? There were no 'circumstances' she could think of… unless he meant Clark? Oh, God, how could she be so stupid! She'd asked Clark to contact Superman for her! It was obvious that Superman had sensed something was wrong with Clark. They were friends; maybe they'd talked about her! That had to be it! Superman thought she'd rejected Clark only to chase him and he felt uncomfortable, or worse angered, by her actions. Was her only chance with Superman gone because she'd rejected Clark? She didn't know, but it sure looked that way. She closed the window, locked it, then ran to her room and cried. It didn't matter why Superman had rejected her in the end; the fact was he had rejected her declaration of love. Her dreams and hopes of Superman ever returning her love lay smashed and broken. Her sobs grew harder, shaking her slim frame and causing her throat to burn. She cried so hard she didn't think she'd ever stop.

Two hours later though, she did stop. Her eyes were red and puffy. Tear tracks showed on her cheeks and her hair was a mess. Besides crying she had spent a lot of the time examining her meeting with Superman. As she thought about Superman her thoughts also drifted to Clark. The two men seemed joined in her mind somehow, no matter how much she tried to forget Clark.

It was all Clark's fault! If Superman hadn't guessed something was bothering Clark he would not have acted the way he did tonight! He had been upset about something from the second he knocked on her window. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. If he was that angry with her why did he even stop by? He must have been spoiling for a fight to have acted the way he did. If he was going to take Clark's side over hers she was better off without him!

Superman was just like all the other men she'd known. She had thought he was different from the others but he had proved to have feet of clay. She reconsidered her last thought. In most things Superman was a beacon of goodness to the world. He was above the fray, acting as a role model for the world to follow. She'd tried to force him to interact on a human level. Was it any wonder that, when brought to that level, he acted in a manner unbecoming Superman? If this was true, then her efforts were really misguided.

It was possible that Superman was right this evening. What did she know about him? He appeared suddenly, from nowhere, really. He swooped in, saved the day, and then left as quickly as he came. Where did he go? What did he do when he wasn't rescuing people? What was his favorite color, for goodness sakes! She could answer *none* of those questions!

She had told Superman she was in love with him. Now that she examined her feelings she felt horribly embarrassed. How could she be *in love* with Superman? She knew more about *Clark* than she did about Superman and she wasn't in love with him! Superman must think her very immature in her view of love after her display this evening. Wryly, she thought that Superman leaving and possibly never seeing her again might be a *good* thing, since she was sure she'd die of embarrassment if they ever met again.

As terrible as she felt about what had happened this evening, she did get the answer to her dilemma. She couldn't give Lex an answer until she'd determined that there was no possibility of a relationship with Superman. She'd got that answer tonight, in spades! There was nothing to hold her back from making a decision now and she'd let Lex know tomorrow.


Lois had just finished another wonderful meal prepared by Chef Andre. Lex led her to the den for brandy.

Seated on the leather couch, Lex admired Lois's beauty. It was now time to press his case. "Lois, my darling, I've been very patient regarding my proposal, however the longer you take to give me your answer, the more concerned I become."

"I know, and I'm sorry, but your proposal was so sudden, it took me by surprise, you know? When you add in the destruction and closing of the Daily Planet I've had a lot to think about and some things to sort out in my mind before I could give you my answer." She took a sip of her brandy and lowered her head, seeming to avoid Luthor's piercing gaze.

"And have you, my dear? Sorted things out in your mind, I mean? Are you ready to give me your answer?" he asked a bit forcefully.

She raised her head and looked him in the eye as she said "Yes, Lex, I am. Yes, I will marry you."

"Thank you, my dear, thank you. You've made me the happiest man in the city!" He pulled her into a fierce embrace and smiled ferally, his prize now within his grasp.

Releasing her he pulled a small box from his pocket and opened it. Inside was a large diamond ring. It had to be ten carats at least! It was breathtaking. Lex pulled the ring out of the box and slid it on the third finger of her left hand. They looked at the ring for a few seconds and then their lips met in a kiss.


'Yes, I will marry you.'

She'd done it. She'd made the commitment of her life. The odd thing was she didn't feel as ecstatically happy as she'd expected. She looked down and saw her hand being held by Lex. She felt as if she were looking at someone else's hand. That hand was shaking slightly. Her hands didn't shake! She saw the ring. OH MY GOD! Look at the size of that rock! Her left arm was going to droop carrying that thing! She felt Lex's arms around her and his lips on hers. He was acting so passionately! His lips and hands seemed to be everywhere! She felt herself responding but she also felt as if something was missing.

Here she was, in the arms of her fiancé, in a passionate embrace and she didn't feel swept off her feet. Why was that? She'd felt more than this the time Clark had kissed her at the Lexor Hotel! Why was she thinking about Clark now? Why was she thinking about Clark at all? She didn't love Clark! She loved Superman, but he didn't love her. She needed to stop this! She'd made her decision; she was going to marry Lex! OK, so the earth didn't move when he kissed her. He kissed very nicely, not wet and sloppy. He held her tightly but reverently, as if she meant everything to him. This was nice. This was what love should be. All that pie in the sky soul-mates baloney was foisted on women by Hollywood and romance novels. It made them unhappy with normal men, men that a real woman could have a chance at finding and marrying.

She was marrying a very successful businessman, not that his success was what attracted her. His success was a definite plus, of course. The main thing though was he wanted her and she wanted him. It took two people to make a successful relationship, and that was something Clark couldn't figure out. It didn't matter that he loved her more than anything. She didn't love him that way! She didn't want to marry him! She enjoyed his company but as a friend. He was a great conversationalist, true. He was even a decent reporter, OK, more than decent. When push came to shove, however, she just couldn't see Clark and her together.

The whole 'white picket fence, two-point-five kids' thing just wasn't for her. If there was one thing she knew about Clark it was that he believed in it. He wanted a house in the country. He wanted a wife who wanted children. He wanted love to last forever. She didn't believe in that and she didn't see how he could. His Kansas upbringing was the basis for his belief, she was sure. Maybe that kind of love was possible in Kansas, but this was Metropolis! Things in the city didn't work that way. People in the city were lucky to stay married and keep their jobs! It took two salaries to afford anything decent. Working sixty to seventy hours a week didn't leave much time for a home life, much less time for children!

She had always thought Clark to be too naïve. She'd thought so from the day she'd met him. She'd also thought he'd grow out of it or the city would beat it out of him. That didn't happen with Clark. He had maintained his idealistic views of love and marriage, to her eternal mystification. He could live in his fantasy world if he wanted to, but she was going to live in the real world. That real world included acknowledging change. Her life had changed drastically in recent months, and while she accepted the changes, she also needed some stability in her life. Lex provided that stability. The calm he provided to her turbulent life was her anchor and played a major factor in her decision to accept his proposal.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Lex's hand at her blouse, undoing the buttons. She snapped out of her reverie. She wasn't ready for this!

"Lex! What are you doing?"

"Darling, I'm continuing what we've started. You do want to continue, don't you?" Lex asked, a surprised look on his face.

"Lex, I know this sounds old fashioned but… I'd like to wait until our wedding night. I know we're both experienced, but this is the first relationship I've had that is working. I don't want to jinx things by having sex now. We'll be married very soon anyway, so we won't have to wait much longer. I hope you understand?" she asked hopefully as she buttoned her blouse back up.

"Of course, my dear. I think it's… quaint. If this is what will make you happy, then I agree. I will see that the arrangements for the wedding are accelerated. What do you say to getting married in… oh, four weeks time? I feel four weeks is doable. I'll make sure it happens. I can't wait to be with you, darling. I know the experience will be worth the wait."

Lois visibly relaxed. He'd agreed! She wasn't sure what she would have done if he'd objected though. This had to prove he loved her. He was willing to postpone his carnal pleasures to make her happy! She jumped into his arms and hugged him tightly.

"Oh thank you, Lex! I knew you'd understand! Four weeks is wonderful, darling! I love you so much!" she said and kissed him again before sitting back down on the couch.

"I love you too, my dear. In four weeks time we'll be together. I'll be dreaming of the night we join as man and wife." Lex said magnanimously.

"Lex, it's getting late. Do you mind if I go home? It's been a long day and I'm very tired. I'll see you tomorrow, all right?"

"Certainly, darling. I want you well rested. I'll have Nigel bring the car around."

Lex walked to the desk and called for the car. Lois kissed her new fiancé goodnight and walked to the elevator. Twenty minutes later Nigel dropped her off in front of her building and she walked inside. It had been a very momentous day, for today Lois Lane became the fiancé of Lex Luthor. She couldn't wait to call her mother!


Outside Luthor's penthouse floated Superman. Despite his comments to Lois the previous night, he hadn't thought she'd go through with her plan to marry Luthor; however it seemed that she'd proven him wrong yet again. He'd thought that his declaration of love as Clark would have dissuaded her from her folly. If she had another suitor he'd hoped she'd not feel pressured to make any hasty decisions—but she'd destroyed that idea pretty quickly. She'd let him down easy, she really had, but the 'I love you like a brother' comment had hurt! It was as if she had torn his heart out of his chest. Then she'd stomped it into the dirt when she asked him to contact Superman for her! She didn't seem to see what her request had done to him that day. Maybe she was oblivious to his feelings. Whatever the reason, he just didn't know.

What he did know now, though, was that Lois had made her decision—and it wasn't him. It was a tough thing to accept. The woman he loved more than life itself *didn't* love him, would never love him, was now engaged to another man, one whom he didn't trust one bit. The problem was Luthor covered his tracks very, very well. Despite all his efforts Clark had been unable to find any firm evidence of wrongdoing by Luthor. The most he had were vague innuendos and tenuous links to felonious activity, nothing he could tell Lois about without being laughed out of her apartment. Certainly nothing that would make her change her mind about Luthor as a person.

Whatever he was, Luthor was good. He'd met the man, in both his guises, and could never detect the slightest hint of insincerity. Clark had heard of people like this, people who were so amoral that they believed what they were doing was right so no outward signs of duplicity would be detectable. He had never thought he'd ever meet someone like that, but in the case of Lex Luthor he was sure that he had. Whenever he saw the man, the hairs on the back of his neck rose and he felt a tingling sensation, like one would feel in the presence of a predator.

When he saw the couple in a heated embrace, he'd drifted away from the windows of the penthouse. He couldn't stand to see the two of them together any longer. He headed north, to the Arctic, where he could be alone with his thoughts and mourn the relationship he never had.


He sat on the cold Arctic plain in the shadow of a massive glacier. The cold and desolation reflected his despair. Why? Why did she not see what Luthor was? Why did she not see him for who *he* was. She was the most perceptive person he knew, but when it came to Clark she was totally oblivious! He'd been skeptical about the whole glasses and hairstyle disguise since the beginning. As time passed he had become more comfortable with it. Around Lois, however, he seemed to drop unconscious clues no matter what he'd intended. His absences from the newsroom were overlooked by her, and Perry for that matter. But you would think she'd call him on his lousy reasons for those absences. He'd thought they'd had a real breakthrough after the Trask incident. She'd hugged him so tightly and seemed so concerned for him that he felt sure her feelings for him were changing.

That change was short-lived, though. No sooner had they returned to Metropolis than Lois slipped back into her former pattern of treating him as nothing more than a friend. Whatever attraction or tenderness she'd felt for him had morphed into a stronger friendship, but that was not what Clark wanted at all. Of course he wanted to be her friend, that went without saying, but he wanted more. The fact that she went out of her way to maintain a friends-only attitude, was what frustrated him.

No matter how many times they'd sit and watch movies at his place, sharing his couch, their bodies touching, she'd pull away at the critical moment. If he put his arm around her she'd let it stay for awhile. But if he started to get too comfortable in that position she'd get up to get a drink or something, and when she came back she'd be sure to sit farther away. Not that she made it obvious, but Clark got the message.

When she'd started dating Luthor things got worse. Once he'd found out about that he'd let her know of his misgivings in the strongest possible terms, which weren't that strong since he had *no* evidence. Given his standing as her friend, her best friend according to her, he didn't understand why couldn't she at least listen to his concerns and accept them as his opinion? Lois had never accepted his feelings about Luthor as legitimate. While she was careful to avoid using the word 'jealous', the underlying message was clear. He didn't like the man because he was jealous. He didn't like him because of some crude territorial thing that she would never accept. Lois Lane belonged to no one but herself. Not Lex Luthor and certainly not Clark Kent.

She had even ignored Luthor's actions when they'd been held hostage a few weeks ago. It was obvious to him that Luthor was only looking out for his own skin and would have sold them all out if he could have worked his own deal with the terrorists. After Luthor was shot, her concern over her 'boyfriend' blinded her to everything that Luthor had done before. Clark was left standing in the street while she rode with Luthor to the hospital.

Now she'd committed the ultimate error in judgment, at least in his opinion. She'd accepted Luthor's proposal of marriage. How could she agree to marry the man? He hadn't even been aware that they were dating seriously at first, since she'd never waxed poetic about her dates with him. When she'd had any encouragement from Superman he'd heard about it all the next morning, to his extreme embarrassment most of the time. But after a date with Luthor, there was no sign that she'd had anything more than a 'nice' time. He had even asked—rarely, but he'd asked—and he'd gotten the same answer each time. She'd told him they'd had a 'nice' evening, nothing earthshaking that he could determine. Out of the blue, she'd told him that Luthor had proposed and she was considering the idea!

All during this time he had continued his visits to Lois as Superman. He'd told himself it was because he wanted to enjoy her company and because she saw Superman as a friend. He was fooling himself, of course. He'd done it because he wanted to see Lois attracted to him, even if that attraction was focused on the disguise he wore and not the man he was. If he thought about it, he was pathetic. He was acting like a lovesick doormat. It was no wonder that Lois never felt romantically inclined towards Clark. Most times he took her moods and disparaging remarks in stride and kept coming back for more.

Oh, he'd stood up for himself, but only rarely, and only when forced to by circumstances. If he hadn't stood up to her when she'd stolen his story, for example, she'd have lost any shred of respect she had for him. He could have done nothing else and still have been able to show his face in the newsroom. He wasn't affected by her attitude towards men in general and him in particular, but he didn't think that attitude had earned him many points in the romance column either. She'd started out with little to no respect for him as a reporter, and he'd had to claw his way up to grudging respect from her. Contrasting that to how she felt about Superman, and there was *no* comparison.

Superman not only had her respect, he had awed her with his abilities at first and then continued to do so with his actions. She had never looked at Superman as anything less than perfect. How could a mere man compete with that? How many times had she compared Clark to Superman and found Clark wanting. That kind of comparison couldn't have helped him, surely! When you started as low as Clark had in her eyes, there was nowhere to go but up… but that didn't mean he'd ever got to even in her eyes either.

Luthor never had the handicap of being a 'man' in Lois's eyes. Before Superman came to town he was the closest thing to the perfect man there was. Superman didn't tarnish that image because the two men were regarded by Lois as serving different functions. Superman saved the day, did heroic deeds and inspired the world. Luthor employed half the city, in one way or another, and his charitable contributions helped the other half. Superman handled the macro issues and Luthor worked on the micro level. Between them, the city was entering a perceived golden age.

No matter how you looked at it, Clark Kent came in a *very* distant third in the horse race for Lois's attention. No matter how much time he spent with her, day or night, he wasn't flashy or rich or powerful. He didn't think Lois was shallow, she wasn't; he knew she cared for people and she cared for him. The problem was she wasn't impressed by him. It saddened him, but he didn't have any idea of how he could have changed that.

Clark spent a long and lonely night. He cried, he wailed, and he screamed out his frustration. He mourned his lost love and despaired of ever finding a woman to share his life. As the hours passed, he thought about all the good times he'd experienced with Lois and tried to think about things he could have done differently. There were probably many things he could have done, but it was too late now. Lois had made her decision and that was that. At last he decided to head to Smallville for breakfast. He really needed to talk to his parents.


Martha Kent was just finishing frying some bacon when she heard the distinctive thump of Clark landing on the back porch. Seconds later, no longer wearing the suit, he walked into her arms, hugging her tightly. While she always enjoyed hugging her son, it was obvious from his demeanor that there was something bothering him. She knew it was something serious, but she also knew she'd have to wait him out, wait for him to start talking before she'd get to the bottom of his problems.

"Hi, Mom. It's good to see you."

"It's good to see you too, Clark. Sit down, your father should be in from the barn any second and we can eat."

"Thanks, Mom. I could use one of your breakfasts today."

"Oh? Why is that?"

"If you don't mind, I'd like to wait for dad before I start. I want you both to hear this."

"Of course, honey! There's your father now."

Jonathan Kent walked through the door and hung up his coat. He turned to his son and gave him a big hug. "Hi, son. To what to we owe this visit?"

"Gee, Dad, can't a guy come home to eat breakfast with his parents? It's not like I have to be at work, you know," Clark said, exasperated.

"Of course you can." Jonathan said carefully. "We just weren't expecting you. By the look on your face you've got a problem, care to tell us what it is?"

"Sorry, Dad. I do have a problem, but it's nothing you can help me fix. I just need to talk about it, get it off my chest, you know?"

"Sure, son, sure. Sit down and eat and we'll talk this through." Clark sat heavily onto the chair while Martha turned to get the food off the stove.

After Martha had dispensed eggs, bacon, pancakes and coffee to everyone, she sat down to eat and waited for Clark to start.

"Mom, Dad, you know that Lex Luthor proposed to Lois, right?"

"Yes, you told us when it happened. I don't know what that girl sees in him."

"Me neither, Mom. Anyway, the day before yesterday, I had lunch with Lois. She invited me to meet her at LNN to show me around and give me the nickel tour. It's a nice place. They probably do good work, but I can't work there. I can't work for Luthor."

"I know you can't, son," Jonathan said. "I wouldn't expect you to work for a man you didn't trust."

"Thanks, Dad. I know you both understand my position. The problem is Lois doesn't. She thinks I'm being stubborn and jealous. Maybe I am stubborn and I probably am jealous, but that's not the point. We went out for lunch and had a good time. We talked about the good old days at the Planet and all the fun we've had together. It was nice. Since she still had some time before she had to get back to work I suggested a walk in the park."

"That sounds nice," Martha said.

"It was nice, at least for a while. We sat down and I knew it was my last chance to tell Lois how I felt about her. I confessed that I had loved her for a long time and that I wanted a relationship with her…"

"What did she say to that, son?" Jonathan asked though Martha caught the look of concern in his eyes.

"She told me she loved me too—like a brother."


"Yeah, ouch. She told me I was her best friend and she loved me too, but she didn't feel that way about me. I knew she might not feel the same as me, but it hurt to have her actually say it, you know?"

"I'm sure it did, honey. It's never easy when someone you love doesn't love you back. I'm so sorry. I really thought she had feelings for you. When you were both here for the Corn Festival she seemed to really be attracted to you, at least from what I saw."

Clark paused and sighed before he continued. "I thought so too, Mom, but when we got back to Metropolis she slipped right back into her 'city girl against the country boy' attitude. It was friends only from that point on. Though I tried to get her to see me as more than a friend, she didn't seem too receptive and I didn't want to push her."

"No, Clark, you can't push someone into loving you, as much as we might like to," Martha said sympathetically.

"Anyway, by then I was feeling pretty badly and a bit embarrassed, though she did let me down easy. Then she did something that really hurt me. Here I had just finished pouring my heart out to her and she'd shot me down, then she had the gall to ask me to contact Superman for her!"

"She did what?" Martha and Jonathan said in unison, surprise evident on Jonathan's face and hers as well she was sure.

"Yeah, she asked me to do her a favor and contact someone for her. She never said Superman but it was obvious who she meant. I told her I'd do my best and we walked back to LNN and I went home." He paused in his narrative and looked at his plate, suddenly finding his breakfast very fascinating.

"Did you go to see her as Superman?" Jonathan asked when it didn't seem like Clark was going to continue.

Clark told his parents everything, and when he got to the part about the lead lined robe, he ducked his head, knowing what was coming.

"Clark! I can't believe you said that!" Martha's eyes flashed as she looked at her son.

Clark had the good sense to look embarrassed. He related the rest of their conversation ending with "She told me she knew everything about me she needed to know and that if I was an ordinary man leading an ordinary life, she'd love me just the same." He said this last part softly and hung his head, looking lost.

Jonathan rolled his eyes and mouthed "Oh boy." Martha gave him a 'keep quiet' look and returned her attention to Clark.

"Please continue, honey," she said gently.

"I didn't react very well to that and I told her that under the circumstances, I found that hard to believe."

"And…?" She reached across the table to pat his hand, offering what support she could with the gesture.

"I told her I was sorry and that I had to leave. I flew out the window and went home to lick my wounds."

"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry, but maybe you should have told her about Superman." Martha said sympathetically.

Clark stiffened a bit at that suggestion. "No. That wasn't an option even if I wanted to tell her. She's been dating Lex Luthor and there is *no way* I could ever tell her while she was in a relationship with him. I just couldn't take the chance. I know it might not be fair to want her to fall in love with Clark and not Superman, but I just can't tell her. I don't want her to love Clark because he's Superman, I want her to love Clark and accept that he's Superman. Does that make any sense?"

"Yes, it does, in a strange kind of way, since you are both Clark *and* Superman. Though I don't think you are being fair to her since she sincerely believes you are two separate men," Martha said.

"I know, Mom, but Clark is who I am; Superman is only what I can do. I knew that was the end, that my last chance to be with Lois was gone. I stopped by Luthor's penthouse last night—don't ask me why, maybe I'm a masochist, but I had to see if she would really agree to marry that man.

"She did. He gave her a diamond ring that could choke a horse and then he kissed her. I left after that. I know that I probably should have done things differently, maybe told her of my feelings sooner, or even told her about Superman before she got too close to him and really started to see Superman as a complete person, rather than the cartoon character he is. It's too late for coulda, shoulda, woulda's; it's too late for all of that now. But I do feel better talking this all out and I thank you for listening." He sat back in his chair and took a sip of his coffee.

"Oh, honey, we couldn't do anything else. You're our son and we'll support you always, even if we don't always agree with you," Martha said, reassuringly. He looked more relaxed than when he'd arrived, so she felt his talking things out had helped.

"Thanks Mom, Dad. I appreciate everything you've done for me, more than I can say. I think I'll head back to my apartment now. I've got some resumes to send out today and some other errands I have to do. I'll see you Friday night for supper, like usual."

"OK, son, we'll see you then," said Jonathan. "Take care of yourself, and if you want to talk more, you know our door is always open."

Clark stood up, spun into his suit and walked out of the kitchen to begin his journey back to Metropolis.


Martha waited a few minutes to make sure Clark was out of earshot. "I'm worried about him, Jonathan. He loves that woman like no one else and he's lost her."

"He's strong; he'll get over her in time. He'll need our support even more now, though. We need to convince him, gently, that there are more fish in the sea. Maybe now that he's actually experienced love, he'll be a bit more open to love from someone else," Jonathan said hopefully.

"I hope so, dear. I feel this could go either way, though. I don't want to see him pining for her the rest of his life. You know how he obsesses so."

"That he does. But I'm encouraged by him coming to us to talk about it. He could just as easily have gone to his apartment and brooded, but he didn't. He wanted to talk this out, kinda get it off his chest, and I think it helped him. He seemed better when he left, don't you think?"

"Considering how he looked when he got here, he did look better. I think I'm going to make sure to call him more often, even if it's just for a few minutes, to see how he's doing," she said with conviction.

"That's a good idea. We need to keep an eye on him these next few weeks, at least until the wedding is over. You know, I really hope he gets that job in Chicago; it might do him some good to get out of Metropolis, so he won't be seeing and hearing about her all the time," Jonathan said thoughtfully.

"You're right, sweetie. I hope so, too. I think a clean break with Metropolis would be the best thing for him."

Standing up from the table, Jonathan said, "I'm going back to the barn. That tractor won't change its oil by itself. See you at lunch." He kissed his wife and walked out of the kitchen.


"Mrs. Cox, what is the status of Project K?"

"We have finished the lab testing of the item and it seems to be the genuine article. All that is left is to field test it. That test is scheduled for this afternoon."

"Very good. Keep me informed as to the results."

"I will, sir. Is there anything else?"

Luthor looked at Mrs. Cox with a lascivious grin. "Yes, there is."

"Why, Lex, what about your fiancé?"

"What about her? I don't see her here, do you?"

Mrs. Cox slipped into Luthor's arms and brought her lips close to his. "No, I do not."


Later that afternoon Mrs. Cox reported back to Luthor on the results of the Project K field test.

"Lex, the test went better than we expected!"

"How so?" he asked picking up on his assistant's obvious excitement.

"As soon as I got the item within 20 feet of him, his reaction was dramatic. He staggered as if dizzy, and would have lost his balance if the security guard hadn't steadied him. I'm sure the effect would be more pronounced the closer he would get to it."

"That's what the scientists said as well. Close and prolonged exposure would weaken him to the point of death. The only thing we don't know is the length of the exposure to ensure death," Lex said thoughtfully.

"Are there any plans to further define the end result of the experiment?"

"Not at this time. I have plans for this little object, but they are for me to determine the time of their deployment."

"Certainly, Lex. I await your further instructions."

"That's all for now, thank you."

Lex returned to his desk and sat down. He turned to look out the window with a satisfied smile on his face. He now had a weapon to use against the blue Boy Scout should the need arise. He didn't think he'd ever need it since he had the idiot completely fooled, but if he didn't have a fail safe plan to deal with Superman, he'd be the fool, and Lex Luthor was *never* the fool.


The week before the wedding Lois was reviewing the invitation list. Perry and Alice, Jimmy Olsen, and Jack Brown had all accepted. As she went further down the list she saw that the only person from the Planet who hadn't was Clark. Surely this was a mistake. He was her friend, he had to attend! She picked up her phone, dialed his number and waited.

"Clark Kent."

"Clark, hi. It's me, Lois," she said, suddenly shy.

"I recognize your voice, Lois. What can I do for you?"

He sounded distinctly hostile. This wasn't starting out well at all.

"I was going over my invitation list and I noticed you hadn't accepted. I know you don't mean it. I'm sure you've been very busy with your job search and all. I need to finalize the number of guests for the caterers, so I thought I'd call and ask you to change your mind," she said in a rush.

"I appreciate the thought, Lois, but I didn't make a mistake. I'm not going to attend the wedding."

He wasn't going to attend! He was her best friend, how could he not attend! How dare he treat her like this? Just because she didn't love him he gets all in a snit!

"Clark! What do you mean you're not going to attend? You're my best friend! You have to come! I need you!"

"You don't need me, Lois. I doubt you ever did. You told me where I stood when you asked me to contact Superman for you. You also know how I feel about you. Do you think I'd *enjoy* going to the wedding and see you marry another man? I may not be the person you love but I do have *some* pride." Clark said heatedly.

"I'm sorry you feel that way. I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't have any other way to contact him. I had hoped you would be able to put our meeting in the park behind you for the sake of our friendship. I consider you my best friend, Clark. I love you very much, as my best friend. I want you to help me celebrate my marriage. Clark, you just have to come." She broke down and cried softly.


'Damn, why does she have to cry?' Clark couldn't abide her crying. He was trying to remain angry with her and failing miserably. Since that day in the park, especially after his visit as Superman, he'd gone out of his way to avoid thinking about Lois Lane. He was hurting, and thinking about her only exacerbated that hurt. Hearing her voice was tearing out his heart. He wanted to be left alone. Why did she have to call him today? He had sent his response back for a reason. He didn't want to go! Couldn't she see that? Knowing Lois, no, she couldn't see that. All she saw was she wasn't getting her way. She loved him as a friend, not as a lover. He knew that was the case so what was his problem? It was obvious to her and he was just being obstinate not to accept it! It didn't matter what he felt about it or how he felt about it. He was expected to discount his feelings and do what she wanted because it made her happy.

At one time, he would have done anything to make her happy. He'd have torn down mountains for her, rerouted rivers, replanted the rain forests, anything! All he had wanted was to be loved for the man he was. She didn't love the man he was, she loved the man he'd created. She didn't even know the man he'd created, for God's sake! She loved him because he was good and kind! A dog is good and kind but she wouldn't want to marry one, at least he hoped not. If she was looking for good and kind in a man she loved, what was she doing with Luthor? If anyone was the antithesis of good and kind it was Lex Luthor. Even if he wasn't a criminal, and Clark knew he was despite having no proof, a billionaire didn't get where he was in life by being kind.

This introspection was getting him nowhere, however. She was still crying. In fact, the crying had become more intense the longer he took to respond. It looked like it was time to swallow his pride one more time and give his 'friend' what she wanted.

"Lois, don't cry. I'll come to the wedding," he said, resignedly.

He heard sniffing on the other end of the line. "You will?"

"Yes, Lois, I will. We're friends. We've been good friends for a long time. You're right. I should be there to share my friend's happy day. Wipe your tears, you wouldn't want your husband-to-be to find you crying, would you?" he asked.

"No, Clark, I wouldn't. Thank you, Clark, thank you very much!" she said, happily.

"You're welcome, Lois. I'll see you next Saturday, OK? I'll be there, don't worry. I need to go now, I've got an appointment in half an hour," Clark said. He just wanted this call to end.

"Sure, Clark. Thanks again. I'll see you next Saturday."

He hung up the phone, set it on the coffee table and plopped on the couch wearily. Lying down he pulled a pillow under his head and stared at the ceiling. Why had he agreed? He didn't want to see Lex Luthor ever again if he could help it. Now he'd have to sit through a wedding service watching him marry the woman he loved. It was going to be torture, but when had his love for Lois not been torture? From the very beginning, she'd put him down and told him not to bother her. His love for her had always been unrequited. It didn't matter, he could *never* say no to her. He might as well suck it up and do what she wanted. He could survive for an hour, couldn't he? Sure he could. He'd go to the service, he could do that. He'd told her he'd attend the wedding and he would. He would *not* attend the reception, though. No way could he suffer through hours of seeing her dancing gaily with her husband, kissing and laughing the whole time.

His mind made up, he floated off the couch and spun into the Suit. It was time for a patrol anyway; maybe catching some criminals would take his mind off his troubles. Yeah, right!


The morning of the wedding Lois was a wreck. She'd moved most of her personal items from her apartment to the penthouse and now she was in the process of getting dressed. People were scurrying around like ants in a broken ant hill, running this way and that, taking care of last minute details and making sure everything was ready. Lois laughed wryly, thinking that the marriage of Charles and Diana didn't have this many people involved!

Now she was completely dressed, her veil on her head, and as she stood looking herself over in the full-length mirror, even she had to admit she looked beautiful. She should, considering the cost of the gown! It was handmade by the top designer in Europe and flown here on a private plane to make sure it didn't get 'misplaced.' Leave it to Lex to think of everything.

As she looked herself over, she started to feel nervous, a typical situation for a bride, she was sure. Unbidden, she started to practice variations of her new name to test out how they sounded.

"Lois Luthor."

"Lois Lane-Luthor."

"Lois Luthor-Lane."

"Lois Lane-Kent."

'Whoa! Where did that come from? Come on Lois, don't start that now! You don't love Clark, you told him you didn't less than a month ago! You're just having cold feet, nerves, that's all it is. You're in love with Lex, he's a wonderful man. He chose you of all the women in the world he could have chosen! You're going to be married and live a wonderful life with a wonderful man! Now straighten up and fly right!'

From outside the door a voice called, "Five minutes, Mrs. Luthor!"

Five minutes and she'd be Mrs. Lex Luthor. She turned and headed to the door.


She stood outside the doors to the chamber where everyone who was anyone was seated, waiting for her to make her appearance. At the first strains of the 'Wedding March' she strode forward. The doors opened automatically and she started the procession down the aisle. The room was packed! There were so many people, most of whom she didn't know. They were probably friends and associates of Lex or the 'beautiful people' with whom he associated.

As she moved slowly down the aisle, her eyes scanned the crowd looking for a familiar face. Just a few steps into the room she saw Perry and Alice. Next to them were Jimmy Olsen and Jack Brown. Before she could get upset, she saw him sitting one row ahead. Clark had come! He hadn't wanted to, but she'd made him feel so guilty that he'd finally relented. He didn't look very happy, of course, given his feelings, that was understandable. Maybe once he saw her married to Lex, he'd move on with his life. Suddenly she felt an emptiness in the pit of her stomach when she thought of Clark and another woman. Why would that be? She didn't want Clark so why didn't she want what she had for him? He was her best friend after all, didn't she want *him* to be happy?

As she walked down the aisle, she thought of all the fun times she'd had with Clark. Sitting on his sofa, watching movies or working on stories. Playing Scrabble in the honeymoon suite at the Lexor. Dancing with him at the Kerth ceremony. She'd enjoyed all those times immensely. She'd enjoyed his company immensely as well, and she'd hoped they'd be able to get together periodically in the future as well. That wouldn't be possible if Clark got a job out of town, as looked to be the case, since he wasn't looking for anything here in the city.

She was probably being unrealistic anyway. She couldn't see Lex letting her go to Clark's alone, that's for sure. Inviting Clark to come to their place wouldn't work either. If Clark wouldn't work for Lex he certainly wouldn't socialize with him! No matter what happened after today her friendship with Clark was going to change dramatically. And right or wrong that bothered her more than she wanted to admit. She really hadn't given any thought to what her marriage would mean to their friendship. She had to be an idiot not to think that marriage, for either of them, wouldn't affect how they lived and their friendship.

As she got closer to the bishop ­ no, correct that, the archbishop ­ who was to marry them, she thought of their meeting in the park that day and she wished he hadn't declared his love. It had made her uncomfortable and brought out feelings that she didn't want to face. She didn't love Clark like that. Better to stay friends, best friends, but friends only. A romance with Clark wasn't in the cards. Besides, she'd loved Superman, though she'd recently come to accept that it was really only infatuation. Since he didn't want her, she'd accepted the proposal of the man who had wanted her. She'd have a nice life; she'd be able to go behind all the doors that had been closed to her, she'd move on into this new phase of her life enthusiastically.

She arrived at her place next to Lex, turned and smiled at him. The next few minutes were a blur for her and before she knew it the archbishop was introducing them to the assemblage as Mr. and Mrs. Lex Luthor. They turned and headed down the aisle to the reception room across the hall. She tried to catch Clark's eyes on her way out, but he had his head down and while she wasn't sure, she thought she saw his shoulders shake slightly—but that could have been her imagination. She saw Perry lay his hand on Clark's shoulder and squeeze. There wasn't time to see much more as they swept past her friends and out the door.


Clark sat at home later that day thinking about the wedding he'd attended. Lois had looked so beautiful in her white gown and veil. She'd caught his eye when she walked down the aisle; he'd noticed the smile on her face got a little wider when she saw him. He'd kept his promise to her. He'd told her he'd attend and he had, he just didn't have to be happy about it.

The further she'd moved down the aisle, the more he felt his hopes fade away. As they said their vows, he could barely hear them over the sound of his heart pounding in his chest. When she said 'I do,' that was the most painful point in his life, even more painful than the Kryptonite exposure that time in Smallville. He didn't even see her walk out of the room on the arm of her… husband. Just saying the word 'husband' when referring to Lois was hard, he'd had his head down and had been valiantly trying to hold back the tears and failing miserably. He'd really appreciated Perry's gesture of comfort. He didn't know if he would have been able to hold back the tears without his support.

Once the crowd cleared out, he'd got up and headed to the elevators and home. He'd promised her he'd attend the wedding, but there was no way he'd put himself through the reception as well. A man could only take so much. Perry and Alice had tried to convince him to stay, as had Jimmy and Jack, but he'd begged off pleading a headache. He knew he was fooling no one with that excuse, but they were too polite to call him on it. Now he was home on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do. It was even quiet in the city, so there was nothing for Superman to do either. He'd watch some meaningless game on television and then go out for a patrol of the city later; hopefully there would be something to take his mind off his troubles.


Martha Kent was cleaning her kitchen one afternoon when her phone rang. "Hello!"

"Hi Mom, it's me."

"Clark, it's good to hear from you! How are you doing and when are you coming for supper!" Martha said excitedly as she finished wiping her hands.

"Mom, slow down! I was just there Friday night! I'll be over again this Friday as well, if that's OK with you."

"You have to ask?"

"No, I know I don't. Anyway the reason I called is I have kind of good news."

"Oh, tell me, tell me!"

"I have an interview tomorrow with the Chicago Tribune. You remember, I told you I'd sent them my resume?" he reminded her.

"Yes Clark, I remember, that's great! Wait 'til I tell your father." She paced the kitchen in her excitement. She was so glad; he needed some good news to offset all the bad things that had been happening in his life.

"Well it's not a done deal yet, Mom," Clark said quietly. "I still have to get through the interview."

"Oh Clark, you'll wow them! Just don't use that 'mating rituals of the knob tailed gecko' piece in your portfolio this time!"

"Mom! I'll never live that down, will I?" he asked, embarrassment creeping into his voice.

"No, son, that wasn't one of your better decisions, although it was a very interesting piece. What time is your interview and who are you seeing?"

"My appointment is for ten am with John Barron, the editor-in-chief. I think he knows Perry, so I expect to hear some Elvis stories. Though not too many, I hope!"

"You keep that man on topic, Clark! Don't let him distract you from selling yourself and what you can do for that paper," she told him sternly.

"I won't Mom, don't worry," he chuckled. "If this works out I'll be a lot closer to you guys. It will make it easier to come up with excuses to visit more often and to get time off to help with the harvest. I wouldn't have to stretch the truth about going to see you over a weekend. You know how I always hated telling stories to Perry."

"Yes, dear, I do. While I know you'll miss Metropolis, I'm sure you would be happy in Chicago as well," she said offering encouragement to her son.

"There isn't much to tie me to Metropolis any more, Mom. Of course I'll have to keep up my Superman activities here, at least for a while, so no one becomes suspicious."

"Yes, I suppose you will. It wouldn't do for anyone to associate Clark Kent moving out of town with Superman doing the same, that's for sure! Well, good luck, sweetie. Call us right after the interview, you hear!"

"I will Mom. Say hi to dad for me. I'll call you tomorrow, who knows, if I have good news I may stop by."

"That would be wonderful. I'm sure you'll have good news. I'll bake an apple pie today so you'll have something to look forward to when you get here," she said, her enthusiasm carrying to her son through the telephone lines.


Clark hung up the phone and walked to the kitchen to brew some tea. He pulled a mug from the cabinet and filled it with water. He grabbed some Oolong tea from the canister and put it in the water as well. Training his heat vision on the mug for a few seconds soon had the water at the right temperature and he took the cup back to the living room to steep. While he waited for the tea, he picked up his address book and looked up a number. He picked up the phone and dialed. After two rings a familiar voice came on the line.

"Hello, Perry White."

"Hi Perry, it's me, Clark!"

"Clark! It's good to hear from you, son! How are you doing?" Perry asked.

"I'm OK Chief. I'm hanging in there. How are you and how is Alice?"

"I'm bored to tears, to tell you the truth, but Alice is happy. For the first time in thirty years she knows I'll be home on time for supper!" Perry chuckled.

"I'm glad at least one of you is happy, Perry. What are you going to do now, play more golf?"

"Probably, but I'm also looking into working on the local weekly paper part time. It doesn't pay much, but I don't need the money, I need the activity. The current editor was kinda surprised when I talked to him about working there but he seemed really pleased by my interest in his paper. I think things will work out well for both of us."

"I'm glad Perry. I didn't think you would remain retired too long. You're just too young to spend all day basking in the sun. I do have an ulterior motive for this call, Perry. I'd like to ask you to be a reference for my job interview tomorrow," Clark said.

"You have an interview! That's great, son! Who's it with?" Perry asked.

"John Barron, of the Chicago Tribune."

"Good old John! I haven't talked to him in a month of Sundays! We were in Vietnam together you know," Perry said.

"No, I didn't know that, Chief. I assumed you might know him though, you have contacts all over. What can you tell me about him that might help at the interview?" Clark asked.

"He likes his reporters to work independently. He's not big on partnerships, especially not permanent ones like you and Lois. He's fair with his people and he's all business, almost a stuffed shirt at first glance, but he's not really. I don't think you'll have a problem with the interview, Clark. You have a good track record and your Kerth win is a real feather in your cap. My biggest advice is to leave that knob tailed gecko piece home!" Perry laughed.

"Perry! You too?" Clark laughed. "My mom told me the same thing!"

"I knew your mother was a smart woman! You listen to that lady, ya hear!"

"Yes sir! Thanks for the vote of confidence, Perry, I really want this job. I need to start clean, and getting out of Metropolis is a good first step at doing that."

"You know, that reminds me of the time the King went on tour after breaking up with the Colonel…"

Clark picked up his tea and sat back on the couch. This was going to be a *long* conversation.


The next morning found Clark sitting in the office of John Barron, editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune. He looked to be about 55 years old, with thick, dark hair and piercing blue eyes. He wasn't quite as tall as Clark, probably 5'11" and he looked to be about 200 pounds. Barron's office was very different from Perry's. The office was lined with dark oak paneling and contained only one window, to the left of the desk. A thick burgundy carpet covered the floor. Ansel Adams photographs and other nature scenes by prominent artists decorated the walls. There were a few small personal photographs showing John in hunting gear in front of a large buck and others of friends and family.

John Barron was seated behind his desk with Clark's resume and portfolio articles spread out in from of him. Clark was seated in a large leather covered wing chair, wearing his best charcoal-colored suit, trying to exude confidence and poise.

"I'm very impressed, Clark. Your portfolio is superb and your being last year's Kerth award winner doesn't hurt either! I'm just sorry that the only reason I'm even getting a crack at you is because the Daily Planet is gone. I still have a hard time believing it. It was a sad day in the newspaper business when the Daily Planet stopped publishing."

"Yes it was, sir. I'd wanted to work there from the time I became interested in journalism. I really learned a lot from Perry, and my other colleagues at the Planet as well."

"Perry is a good man, you couldn't have learned from anyone better. Speaking of colleagues, I see your old partner just got married!" Barron leaned forward and rested his elbows on his desk, his eyes sparkling.

Clark swallowed noisily and gathered his composure. "Yes, she did. The newspaper business won't be the same without her." Clark sat back in his chair a bit, his enthusiasm for the interview dulled at being reminded of Lois and how he'd never work with her again.

"You haven't gotten lazy working with a partner all that time, have you, Kent? I don't do that kind of thing very often, though it did seem to work for Perry in your case." Barron's eyes squinted a bit, examining Clark with greater scrutiny.

"No, Sir. Lois and I had an equal partnership. We each pulled our weight, but we also worked independently. I have no problem working without a partner, in fact I'm looking forward to it," he said, shaking himself out of his funk. It wouldn't be good to blow the interview now.

"Glad to hear that, Kent. I'm not looking for someone who needs constant attention," he said sternly.

Wanting to get back on a more positive footing, Clark sat up straighter in his chair and continued, "Of course not, sir, I'm very independently motivated. Give me an assignment and get out of my way. I hope you don't mind if I suggest a line of investigation periodically. I get some of my best scoops just digging around. My Kerth winning story came about that way."

"Not at all, Clark, I appreciate initiative in my reporters. From what Perry told me about you, you have that in spades. He did warn me that you have a habit of disappearing, though. Of course, he said there was usually a great story involved when that happened. I can deal with that as long as it doesn't happen too often, understand?"

"Yes Sir, I understand." Clark made a mental note that he'd have to be more circumspect in his Superman duties if he got the job.

"Now that we've got that settled, welcome to the Chicago Tribune, Clark, you start Monday!"

"Thank you very much Mr. Barron, I'm really looking forward to working with you!"

And please call me John. Everybody here does." He stood up and extended his hand in welcome.

Clark stood as well, shaking the extended hand. "OK John, I'll see you Monday! Thanks again!"

Clark picked up his portfolio and made his way to the elevator. On the ride down he experienced conflicting emotions. He was elated that he'd been hired at such a prestigious institution, but that elation was tempered with the realization that his last tie to Metropolis was now gone. He'd loved Metropolis, it had felt like home from the moment he'd set foot in the city. It had become more and more comfortable as his relationship with Lois grew. Now it felt like his home was gone and he was adrift. Lois was married, having just returned from her around the world honeymoon according to all the papers. Of course the Planet was gone, the only paper he'd wanted to work for and where he'd honed his journalistic skills no longer existed. If he didn't have his mom and dad, his whole support structure would be gone. He sighed heavily and straightened his back. It was time to look forward. Time to put Metropolis and Lois Lane behind him.


Clark opened the door to the kitchen and stuck his head in. "Mom! I got the job!"

Martha ran down the stairs and into the kitchen. "Oh sweetie, that's wonderful! I told you you'd get the job! That editor would have been stupid not to hire you!" She pulled him into a hug and kissed him lovingly on both cheeks.

"Thanks Mom, you're right I suppose, but I'm still glad that interview is over. I start Monday morning."

"If you don't mind my asking, did you get a raise?" Martha asked.

"Actually, I did. Also the cost of living is a bit less there than in Metropolis it works out even better in my favor."

"Well that's great sweetie. I'm proud of you. Why don't you head out to the south field and tell your father. You can have a nice talk while I get lunch ready. Tell your dad that lunch will be ready in half an hour, OK?"

"Great, Mom, see you later."

Clark made his way slowly to the south field. He saw his father atop the tractor and waved him to a stop.

"Clark! You got the job?" Jonathan asked hopefully.

"Yeah, Dad. Isn't it great!"

"It sure is, boy. I'm proud of you. Of course I knew you'd do well. That editor would have been a fool not to hire you," he said proudly.

"That's what mom said too, Dad. I'm just glad it's over. I know I'm going to miss Metropolis and my old friends, but this is a new phase in my life and I plan to take advantage of it. Oh, before I forget, Mom said that lunch will be ready in half an hour, we should probably start heading back."

"OK, hop on the tractor, we can talk on the way," he said, and putting the tractor in drive, Clark and his father headed toward the house and lunch.


Clark had given his landlord notice when the Planet closed, so he had no problem terminating his lease. His landlord had told him he was sorry to lose him as a tenant. Clark had always paid his rent on time and was the quietest tenant he'd ever had. Clark was sorry to leave as well. He'd had a lot of good times in this apartment. He'd miss the private balcony off his bedroom a lot. He'd have to really search carefully for an apartment in Chicago to find one that suited his Superman requirements as well as this one had.

Clark started the process of packing his things in boxes but his heart wasn't in it. He had made arrangements for a storage facility in Chicago so he'd have a place to keep his things while apartment hunting. He picked up the first box and started to clear off a shelf of books. There were volumes he'd collected from around the world. He'd read each one numerous times, enjoying them more with each reading. His favorite was a volume of Chinese poetry he'd picked up in Lanzhou.

Lanzhou was an interesting place. It sat near the geographic center of the country but was far from a modern city. Once you got outside of the main part of town you were in the wilds of China. He'd met some wonderful people and spent some happy days there. As he put the book in the box he thought of the last time he'd read it. He grew sad as he realized the last time he'd read this book was five months ago. The circumstance was really what saddened him. Lois had seen the book on the shelf and had picked it up. Noticing the book was in Chinese she had asked him to read some passages to her.

Thinking he'd make some points he picked out a couple of love poems. Lois had seemed to enjoy them, based on her slight smile and dreamy expression. He'd seen an opportunity as he caught her gaze with his heated one. He had thought she might be responding to him when her facial expression changed dramatically. Where she had seemed to be leaning toward him her direction reversed quickly. She sat back farther on the couch and placed her hands in her lap, looking uncomfortable. Whether it was a result of her discomfort, or merely coincidence, Lois left soon after.

Clark sighed heavily. He was not going to get anything done if he kept this up. There were too many things that reminded him of Lois and the good times they'd had. If he went off on a tangent each time he packed something it would be months before he got finished. Gathering his thoughts and feelings, he decided that packing slowly was not the best thing for his emotional well-being. He started moving at super speed, becoming a blur, and thirty seconds later all his things were packed and stacked in the center of the room.

The down side of packing quickly was he now had nothing to do for the rest of the day. He couldn't begin moving his things until after dark and it wasn't even noon! He looked mournfully around the apartment. This apartment had been his first permanent place since he'd left Kansas. Before coming to Metropolis, he'd never had a place he could call his own. He'd had to move every few months to avoid suspicion after his 'secret' rescues became noticed. All the things he'd collected from around the world had been stored at the farm where he couldn't enjoy them easily, and now they were at his fingertips.

It wasn't just the apartment that made this place feel like home. From the moment he'd set foot in the city, something about Metropolis had called to him. When he'd first seen the globe over the entrance of the Daily Planet, his heart had warmed and calm had settled over his soul. He just knew his wandering days were over. He'd found the place he wanted to be. The feeling only deepened when Lois had burst into Perry's office that day.

He'd met many beautiful women from around the world, of course. None of them had affected him like she had. The feeling he'd had of finding his other half made his relationship with Lois difficult. How could she *not* feel what he felt? No matter how much he had tried to fight the attraction he had for her, he couldn't! He had been drawn to her, to his great regret. His irrational behavior had caused him to do things he'd considered, upon further reflection, to be quite pathetic. It had caused him to 'romance' her as Superman when doing that was the *worst* thing he could have done.

Every time he had visited her as Superman, he had undermined any potential feelings she might have had for Clark. He had seen the admiration and devotion in her eyes when Superman paid attention to her. It got worse when he'd had the opportunity to fly with her! When he had seen her as Clark after she'd flown with Superman, he had seen how the experience had affected her. Her demeanor was distracted for hours afterward. His efforts to engage her in any meaningful work-related discussions had been met with frustration on her part. While he may have been imagining things, he'd gotten the distinct impression that he was bothering her, and she resented his presence.

No matter what he had done to get Lois to see Clark as a possible romantic interest, his visits to her as Superman undercut them. He had known that then, just as he knew it now. His inability to control the urge that had made him continue to see her as Superman was surely a sign of a flaw in his character. His greatest desire had been for Lois to love Clark. Each visit to her as Superman weakened that desire. Didn't that at least suggest some underlying need *not* to want Lois to love Clark? He was sure a psychiatrist would have a field day examining this facet of his personality. Maybe his subconscious was telling him that Lois *wasn't* what he really wanted. That his attraction to her was actually bad for him, and that was why he consistently sabotaged his every effort. Deep down in his heart he knew that was not the case, and it saddened him that his grief over his loss had led him along that path. No, Lois would always be his first love, but he sincerely hoped not his only love.

None of this soul searching mattered now. Lois had settled the issue for him very concretely. Her pointed rejection of his last ditch effort at conveying his feelings and her subsequent marriage made his desires moot. He promised himself if he ever became attracted to another woman, which he sincerely doubted, Superman wouldn't get anywhere near her! In fact, he would change Superman's demeanor from now on.

His original plan had been for Superman to be kind but aloof. His 'fatal attraction' to Lois Lane had shot that plan down from the beginning. He'd acted way too friendly around her and this had carried over to his interactions with others. Some of this he put down to feeling his way in his efforts to become the superhero. But, he had been Superman for about a year now. He was no longer defining the character. Superman was a known quantity that felt comfortable to him. All he needed to do now was slowly to cut back on his interaction with the public. He wasn't going to become an automaton, but he wasn't going to be quite so open with his feelings.

He felt very sad about leaving the city that had been his home for the past year, but he felt more positive now that he had a plan to deal with the transition. He felt the urgent need for some kind of action. A patrol seemed like the best thing he could do with his time. He'd still patrol Metropolis in the future of course, he'd do so to allay suspicion, the time he'd be able to spend here would lessen, that's all. This patrol, however, would be his 'goodbye tour' through Metropolis; he'd spend extra time just enjoying the city that had embraced him. While he would always love this city, he looked forward to this new phase in his life.


Clark spent the rest of the week in Chicago looking for apartments. He started out looking for buildings with openings in his price range, and he further reduced the list by flying over each one and looking for private areas where he could come and go when he needed to. The requirement for privacy really whittled the list down greatly, and he finally narrowed the choices to two. He made arrangements to see each of them the next day. The first one had a very disjointed floor plan and didn't really feel right so he held off on a commitment and went to see the other one.

The second apartment reminded him a lot of his old place. It had an open floor plan and one big bedroom, though it didn't have an upstairs storage area like his old apartment. He'd miss that, but otherwise this apartment was perfect. It had a private balcony off the bedroom that opened up onto the back of another building that had no windows on that side. Since most people wanted some kind of view, the landlord had more trouble renting this apartment than others in the building. He even gave Clark a break on the rent since it had been empty so long. Clark signed the lease immediately and made arrangements to move in the next day. By the weekend Clark was fully settled and ready for the challenge ahead.


Martha Kent picked up her telephone and prepared to dial a number. She had debated with herself whether she should even make the call but she felt she should. Just because Clark had a bad experience didn't mean that she couldn't be polite. Of course some might consider her nosy, which maybe, she was. Shaking off that thought she dialed the number and waited.

"Good afternoon. Thank you for calling LexCorp, how may I help you?"

Martha gathered her courage and said. "My name is Martha Kent. I'm a friend of Mrs. Luthor. I wasn't able to attend the wedding but I'd like to speak to her to convey my congratulations."

"I can't give you her private number but I can connect you to her secretary, would that be satisfactory?" she asked.

"That would be wonderful, thank you," Martha said and leaned against the wall as she waited for the receptionist to transfer her call.

"Good afternoon, my name is Ms. Jackson, how may I help you?"

"Good afternoon Ms. Jackson. My name is Martha Kent. My son and Mrs. Luthor worked together. I'd like to talk to her if I may and convey my congratulations on her marriage."

"Could you hold, Mrs. Kent? I'll see if Mrs. Luthor is available."

"Thank you Ms. Jackson." It was less than a minute before a voice came on the phone.

"Martha! It's so good to hear from you!" Lois cried excitedly.

The enthusiasm in Lois's voice pleased Martha. She was glad she'd decided to make the call. "It's good to hear your voice too, dear. Congratulations on your marriage. I'm sorry I haven't called earlier."

"I understand Martha. I was surprised to hear that it was you on the phone…" Lois paused awkwardly.

"Why is that dear?"

With a catch in her voice, she carefully said, "I-I didn't think you'd want to talk to me after all that happened with Clark."

Martha heard the sadness in Lois's voice and moved to reassure her. "Nonsense! Just because you and Clark had a falling out doesn't mean I can't talk to you. I told you I considered you a friend when you visited us last year and I meant that. Clark doesn't determine who I talk to. He wouldn't do that anyway. What happened was between you two and no one else."

"I appreciate that, Martha. I had a nice time visiting with you and Jonathan. I thought our friendship was over now that I'm married, and I'm so happy that it's not," Lois said.

"I am too, Lois. I saw your itinerary for the honeymoon in the paper. So tell me, how was your world tour?"

Lois regaled Martha with the wonders she saw of the world and they talked about her life since she had returned. The conversation was interrupted by Ms. Jackson reminding Lois of an appointment.

"I have to go, Martha. I'll have my secretary give you my private number for next time. Is it OK if I call you?" Lois asked carefully.

Martha smiled at Lois's unease. "Certainly! I'd be upset if you didn't! Please feel free to call any time you'd like to have a chat. You take care of yourself."


Monday morning Clark reported to Personnel to fill out his paperwork and to go through the half day orientation all new employees were required to attend. After orientation Mr. Barron, John, took him to lunch where they discussed mostly personal things. They talked about Perry a lot, since John had worked with Perry years ago when they were in Vietnam, and had found him to be a great newsman and a great person. They swapped stories for most of the meal but also talked a little business. John wanted Clark to work with one of his best reporters for his first week until he became a bit more familiar with the city.

Clark thought this was a good idea, as it would be nice to have a local person introduce him to the movers and shakers. He was especially anxious to meet the mayor. The mayor of Chicago was famous, even in Metropolis, and was known to be a real character. Mayor Richard J. Daley suffered reporters not at all, and maintained an adversarial relationship with them. His first mayoral press conference ought to be fun.

John and Clark got off the elevator in the newsroom and Clark instantly felt at peace. While this wasn't the Daily Planet, nothing could ever replace the Planet, it was familiar. The sights, the sounds and the smells brought back mostly pleasant memories and he was itching to get started.

The two men walked across the bullpen to the desk of a young woman who was busily working and hadn't noticed them approach.

"Excuse me, Pam? I'd like you to meet Clark Kent. Clark this is Pamela Blake."

Pamela stood up and extended her hand in greeting. "Pleased to meet you Mr. Kent."

Clark saw an attractive woman standing in front of him. She smiled at him pleasantly; a shy smile that he thought conveyed more than it should, considering they had just met. He'd have to be careful around her. The last thing he needed was another romantic entanglement. However, what he noticed most was that she was the reporter Superman had met at the warehouse fire a month or so ago. "Pleased to meet you too, Ms. Blake."

John broke in to further explain the reason for the introduction. "Pam, Clark is our newest reporter; he comes to us with excellent credentials from the Daily Planet."

"Oh yes, I knew that name sounded familiar. I've read your work, Mr. Kent. You write very well. By the way, have we ever met before? You seem so familiar."

"Thanks, Ms. Blake, but I don't think so. I've read some of your work as well, in my preparation for my interview, and I admire your work very much."

"OK, you two, since you're going to be working together how about we drop the 'Mr. and Ms.' stuff and get on to first names." John said.

"Thanks for reminding me John. Please call me Clark, and do you prefer Pamela or Pam?"

"I prefer Pam, thank you. Let's start again; it's nice to meet you, Clark."

"It's nice to meet you too, Pam," Clark said, smiling pleasantly. "I look forward to working with you."

"Pam, I'd like you to show Clark around the building and around town this week, help him get acclimated, you know the drill. I'd like him to work with you on any new stories that come in this week, with a shared byline, but I want you to keep anything you're already working on separate. Is that OK with you?"

"Sure John, that's fair. Does Clark have a desk yet?" Pam asked.

"He'll be moving into Davis's old desk since that's the one closest to you. It will make things easier for this week, but you won't be on top of each other when your assignments diverge."

"Great! Well, Clark, why don't I show you to your desk, and then you can take some time to get settled. I have a city council meeting to attend at one; we can attend that together." Pam said, sounding very efficient.

"That sounds great, Pam. Thanks again, John, for giving me the opportunity to work here. I appreciate it very much," Clark said sincerely.

"You're welcome, Clark, but you earned the opportunity by your previous work, and you'll maintain your position by producing more quality work. Now get to it!" With that, John walked away toward his office, leaving Pam and Clark alone.


Clark sat at his new desk arranging the items he'd been given from the supply cabinet. Pam had shown him the computer system and left him to become familiarized with it. Since he'd been given a user id and password, he spent some time exploring the software. Luckily the main program the Tribune used was the same as he'd used at the Planet, just a newer version with more features. With time on his hands, his mind wandered to his new 'partner'.

The best part of having Pam Blake as his partner was that he knew the partnership wouldn't last long. He had absolutely no desire to have a partner on a permanent basis, much less an attractive female partner. He had been pleased when John had said he didn't like permanent partnerships. What worked for Woodward and Bernstein was rare in the newspaper business, and John didn't think it helped his newsroom, so he avoided the practice. His exception to the rule came during major scandals or stories that required the collaboration of multiple resources. His time as Pam's partner would be blissfully brief, then he'd be able to make his way in the city at his own pace.

Her comment about Clark seeming familiar could be cause for concern. He knew the only time they had ever met was the one time Superman had given her an interview after that warehouse fire. He had spent maybe ten minutes in her presence. Since it was very early in the morning, it had been dark as well. Either he had made a very favorable impression on Pam Blake, or she had a remarkable facility for faces. If she was another Superman devotee, she'd be sorely disappointed by his new attitude. He had no plans to give all his interviews to any one news outlet, and certainly not to any one reporter. The biggest mistake he'd made at the start of his Superman career was becoming associated with the Daily Planet and Lois Lane in particular.

Once it had become common knowledge that you could get to Superman through the Planet and Lois, his problems had grown exponentially. Lois was regularly kidnapped or endangered due to her 'relationship' with Superman. The Planet itself was not immune when you considered the resurrected gangsters and the terrorists of a few months ago. His plan to spread his interviews around was a good one. It might take some effort, since old habits were hard to break, but he knew it would be best for all concerned.

He'd also have to be careful around her as Superman. If she did have an affinity for faces, now that she worked with Clark Kent, he didn't want her to make any connection between the two men. He had no plans on becoming a close friend of hers, or of anyone right now. He was new in this city, so he would play on that to avoid forming close friendships until he got to know his coworkers a little better. Somehow he didn't think his relationship with John was going to be as casual as it was with Perry. He doubted he'd ever hear John call him 'son'. While he was going to miss Perry's casual management style, at least where he was concerned, he felt like keeping to himself more would work better here, at least for the time being.

Pam caught his attention by standing up and heading toward his desk. He saw that it was almost time to leave, so he gathered his notebook and pen and met her half way. They made their way to the elevator and Clark's first city council meeting in Chicago.


Pam Blake sat in her apartment thinking about her day at work. She'd found Clark Kent to be very personable and a good reporter. She knew a bit about him, word got around in the newspaper business. She'd gotten the impression from her peers that Kent had ridden Lois Lane's coat tails to get where he was. She wasn't sure that was true. First, he'd won the Kerth award for a story he'd worked alone, not one they'd worked on together. Second, she'd seen him in action today at the city council meeting. While he didn't know the players, he had a keen grasp of the situation with no prodding from her.

There was one thing about Clark that did surprise her. He had old- fashioned manners, the kind of manners you don't see much of today, not in men of her age group at least. They hadn't had too much time to talk but she had found out he was a year older than her, had attended a college in the Midwest and had traveled the world before taking the job at the Planet. She'd told him that she'd grown up in Los Angeles, had attended UCLA and had moved to Chicago soon after graduation.

There was something about the man that bothered her, however. Clark seemed to be familiar to her, but she knew she'd never met him before today. Their paths had never crossed at journalism seminars or other such events. He was a very handsome man and she'd have remembered. In spite of that, she knew she'd seen him before, or at least someone who looked a lot like him. She had an excellent memory for faces. She forgot names all the time but she rarely forgot a face, and Clark Kent looked familiar. She'd put that thought on the back burner for a while. She was sure the answer would come to her when she least expected it.

There was something about Clark that surprised as well. She'd been instantly attraction to him. When they'd first met she knew she'd reacted to him more strongly than to any man in recent memory. Clark was handsome, of course, any woman would notice that, but she wasn't affected like this by good looks alone. There was something about Clark Kent that touched her, and she resolved to explore the feelings she'd experienced today in greater depth and see where they led.


Weeks passed, and Clark settled in to his new surroundings. He'd had to cut back on his Superman activities for a while, especially in Chicago. It did hurt at times when he knew he could have helped, but he just couldn't get away without raising undo suspicion. After he'd been at the Trib for two months, Clark felt comfortable that sufficient time had passed, and having Superman cut back in Metropolis wouldn't be linked to him.

His move to Chicago had cut into the time he had been able to spend in Metropolis no matter what he did. Rescues that he would have performed during the work day were no longer taking place. People had been wondering why. He had seen editorials questioning Superman's absence. He pondered his options for a while before coming to a solution. Since Superman was going to be showing up in Chicago more often, he needed to explain that so people would understand. He would call a press conference to announce his desire to widen his sphere of influence to other cities in the United States. This would, by necessity, force him to cut back on his 'routine' rescues but allow him to respond to major events to a greater degree. He'd widen his patrol area to other major cities as well while maintaining a presence in Metropolis. His plan finalized, he called city hall to schedule the press conference for the next day.

Superman announced that he would be spreading his services around and would no longer be using Metropolis as his base of operations. He'd still be around, so the criminal element should not take this as good news, but it had never been his plan to stay in one city too long. It was now time to expand his horizons.

What he didn't tell them, of course, was that he felt uncomfortable in Metropolis. He didn't want to take the chance that he could run into Lois, or worse, Luthor himself! He'd restricted his patrols of Metropolis to early morning or late evening, always varying his visits so there was little pattern to be discerned. He'd also started patrols over other big cities as well. He'd added Dallas, Denver, St. Louis, and Los Angeles, in addition to Chicago, to his routine. Living in Chicago made visits to other cities more convenient, since he was more centrally located.

As much as he'd liked to avoid any thoughts of Lois, he couldn't give up on her completely. He still felt that she was in danger being married to Luthor no matter what *she* thought of her husband. He still did everything he could not to have any close contact with her, but he also made an effort to check on her when he was in the city. He'd promised himself that if he found any evidence of Luthor's illegal activities he'd present them to Lois, no matter what.


Clark soon found that he lived a few miles from Pam and they started taking the 'L' together to and from work. She lived one stop farther along the line than he. Since they kept similar schedules, it was not unusual for them to see each other on the train. At first they sat apart because the train was usually pretty crowded and they arrived separately, but as the weeks turned into months they started to share adjacent seats and discuss stories they were working on.

Clark found Pam to be much more open about what she worked on than Lois was before they'd been partnered up. While Pam was competitive and guarded her stories, she wasn't paranoid about it. She asked Clark's opinion on angles she was considering, and he asked for her opinion as well. She was very bright, though not given to wild leaps of logic like Lois. She gave Clark a different insight when he was stuck on a story from time to time, and he gave her ideas for ways to approach an interview when he thought she could use them. She was usually receptive but did not always act on everything he suggested.

Clark had just returned from an interview with a local author and saw Pam working on her latest article. Since he had an idea for an angle for the story he made his way to her desk.

"Hey Pam, I was just thinking…"

"Not a good thing to do, Clark," she said smiling. "You know how much trouble you get into when you do that!"

"You cut me to the quick," he said staggering back a step, holding his hand over his heart. "Anyway, I had this idea for your Meigs Field piece."

"Thanks, Clark but I have everything I need for that, I'm almost done as a matter of fact."

"But I have this great angle…"

"Clark, thanks, really, but I'm almost done. I just have this last paragraph to write and it's on its way to John. Tell you what, how about you write it down for me in case John needs a follow-up?"

"Sure, I'll do that, Pam," he said sounding slightly disappointed. "I'll drop it off later, OK."

"Great, Clark!" she smiled. "Thanks for thinking about my story, even if I wasn't able to use your suggestion. I really do appreciate your input, you know."

Clark smiled at Pam and walked to his desk. The smile slipped from his face once he turned. Why did one little comment Pam made bother him like this. **You know why, it reminded you of Lois,** the voice in his head said. He sat down heavily in his chair. He had to stop letting little things that reminded him of Lois wreck his mood. It did him no good at all. He took a deep, cleansing breath and started transcribing his notes for Pam.


The next morning Pam found Clark's notes, as promised, on her desk. She decided to thank him for them and thought a cup of coffee for him would be a good idea as well. She picked up his cup on her way by, fixed both of them, and returned to his desk in a matter of minutes. Setting his cup down she noticed he was working on the story they had been assigned the day before.

"Thanks for the coffee, Pam. I'm just getting started on the story John assigned us yesterday. I've got an outline going; do you have time to look it over?"

"Sure Clark," she said. She took a sip from her coffee and then leaned over Clark's shoulder, reading as he typed. As she got closer to him she noticed his aftershave and thought it smelled nice on him. She inhaled deeper, the scent of his aftershave and his skin causing a warm feeling to settle over her. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts she continued reading but soon noticed he'd stopped typing.

'Hmm, am I invading his personal space?' she wondered. 'No it doesn't seem to be. His shoulders are slumped, like he's saddened or something. If he were upset he'd be stiffer, wouldn't he? Maybe I should sit beside him and see how that works.'

"Here, let me pull up this chair," she said. "Stooping like that is hurting my back." She pulled up the chair next to his desk and quickly sat. She went back to her reading while glancing at Clark to see how he reacted. Almost as soon as she sat down he resumed his previous posture and continued typing.

'Well, that's interesting. He obviously doesn't like me reading over his shoulder. Wait a minute, John did the same thing last week and I don't remember him reacting negatively. In fact they seemed to be having an animated discussion. Maybe it's something about me?'

"That's great, Clark," she said. "I've got some additions though…"

Clark relaxed more now that Pam was seated beside him. He'd reacted to her position behind him without even being aware of it at first. He'd sensed her presence and heard her inhale as she'd looked at his monitor. He could smell her perfume and feel the heat radiate from her body. It reminded him too much of Lois's habit of reading over his shoulder and his thoughts were pulled, reluctantly, back in time. His hands had stilled of their own volition and his head sank onto his chest. Luckily for him Pam's complaint about her back caused her to take a seat. He resumed typing while Pam outlined her additions.

They worked on their piece for another twenty minutes, getting as far as they could. She went back to her desk to complete the story she had due. 'Hmm my theory was correct. He doesn't have a problem with me being in close proximity since I was leaning in to read the screen a number of times, our shoulders touched more than once, but he sure didn't like me reading over his shoulder. Since he doesn't like it, I guess I'll try not to do it again.'

She pulled up her article and read it through one more time. She needed to finish this up before noon.


"Boy, it sure is quiet tonight. I hope we're not wasting our time," Pam said.

"Huh? Did you say something? I'm sorry, I was lost in thought."

"I was saying that I hope we're not wasting our time. What's bothering you, Clark? You seem very distracted tonight."

"It's nothing. I was just thinking. It has been pretty quiet in here."

"I agree. Why don't we change that? You know, ever since you started I've wanted to ask you about Lois Lane. What was she like to work with? I've heard so much about her, she's almost a legend in journalism! When you consider she's about our age, she's done more than most people do in a whole career!"

Expecting to hear a response, the chill silence surprised her. She turned to face him and noticed a distinct pallor that hadn't been there before. Clark looked like he had been punched in the stomach! What could have caused that kind of reaction? All she did was ask about his old partner! She would have thought he'd be delighted to have a chance to brag about his time with Lois. He had been very lucky to work with her. If Pam had been as lucky, she'd have bored everyone to death bragging about being partnered with the great Lois Lane.

There had to be something else going on between them, something that, very probably, wasn't work related. Continuing along that line of thought, she had wondered what might cause a man to lose his color and go mute when asked about a woman. The obvious answer pointed to a personal problem. She studied him even more closely. Pain reflected in his eyes and his body language screamed hurt. This man was hurting at the mere mention of Lois Lane. Strong reactions hinted at strong emotions. She couldn't be one-hundred percent sure, but her woman's intuition told her she was right. Clark had been in love with his partner. No, correct that, Clark was *still* in love with his partner. Since she was now married to Lex Luthor, Clark's response was understandable.

Now that she had figured out what was bothering him she felt compelled to say something to ease his pain.

"Clark, I'm sorry. Forget I said anything. I can see you don't want to talk about it. How about we drop the subject?" She turned in her seat and sat, quietly.

Clark turned and caught her eyes with his. She could see the pain was still there but it was lessening.

"Thanks, Pam. You're right. I really don't want to talk about this. How about we talk about something else?"

She thought for a second. Maybe some humor would help to lighten the mood.

"OK. How 'bout them Cubs!" she said, laughing heartily.

Clark had laughed along with her, and the somber mood seemed to have lifted. They did talk baseball for a while, then their conversation moved to other subjects. Another hour of no activity in the area had convinced them the stakeout was not going to yield any results. They'd agreed to call it a night and Pam had driven to Clark's place and dropped him off.

Arriving home, she had made herself some tea and sat down to think. She had been developing feelings for Clark as a man, but the man she had feelings for was hung up on another woman. She had never run into this scenario before. She had never had to compete for a man's heart. She had always broken off the relationship first; however, none of the men she had dated were coming off a serious relationship either. She wasn't sure how to handle this. Was she jealous? Maybe a little, but she was still in the early stages of attraction to Clark, they hadn't dated after all. They were friends, but nothing more. She had wanted the chance to have more, but Clark's issues with Lois might derail that.

He had to have been seriously in love with her to be this affected still. He'd been in Chicago about six months now. Lois had gotten married before he'd left Metropolis. She had wondered about the nature of their relationship. Without more details, she was at a distinct disadvantage. He could have been dating her and gotten dumped, *or* he could have been in love with her but she wasn't in love with him. Either way, he wasn't talking and she couldn't ask. All she could do was wait for him to get over his hurt and maybe try to help him along the way.


After that incident she'd never felt comfortable bringing up Lois Lane again. She had tried to be more understanding of his moods and she had succeeded for the most part. Clark had opened up to her more after that. He had invited her over for dinner and a movie once or twice a month. She had asked him over as well. They would play board games and talk for hours. The first time they had gotten together for game night, as they came to call it, was at Clark's place. That night stuck out in her memory since, again, he'd acted out of character.

"The manicotti was wonderful, Clark! You have some real talent in the kitchen." Pam turned from the cabinet after putting the last plate away and made her way to his couch.

Wiping his hands on a dish towel, Clark hung it on the rack and joined her on the couch. "Thank you, madam, Chef Clark tries his best!"

"You outdid yourself tonight, that's for sure. When did you find time to do all that?"

"Most of it I had in the freezer so it didn't take a lot of time to prepare. The only thing I had to do from scratch was the salad."

"No matter, it was delicious! So, what game are we going to play?"

"It doesn't matter to me, I have 'Monopoly', 'Trivial Pursuit'—"

"'Scrabble!' I love 'Scrabble', do you have that?"

Clark's reaction to her request was unexpected. She saw him stiffen and his eyes seemed to lose focus for a few seconds. His next comment really surprised her though.

"No, I don't have 'Scrabble', I really dislike that game." He was still staring off into the distance.

"Why, I love it and being a person whose livelihood is working with words I would think you would too?"

Turning to face her he said "I can't stand that game. I work with words all day and I don't want to play with them for fun." Running his hand through his hair he continued. "Look, could we pick something else? I really like 'RISK', I feel like conquering the world tonight. Would that be all right?"

Though she was stunned by his comment she could see that it was more than 'Scrabble' that was bothering Clark. "Sure, 'RISK' sounds like just the thing, but don't think you're going to go all Genghis Khan on me. I'm pretty good at that game too. My brother and I used to play it a lot when we were kids."


As Clark walked to his bedroom closet to get the 'RISK' game he berated himself for his reaction. Pam didn't deserve to be treated like that. She didn't know that 'Scrabble' brought back bittersweet memories. She was making a request of a friend, asking for a game she liked to play, nothing more. Why did he always have to overreact! It was foolish of him to be so sensitive. Lois was married, happily so, it seemed, and he was happy here in Chicago. He'd made a new friend in Pam, a friendship he was enjoying daily despite his initial reservations. She'd made it easy to be friends. She had been open and inviting to him and his natural instincts took over. His resolve to avoid intimate friendships had fallen by the wayside where Pam was concerned and he didn't feel bad that it had.

He found the game and headed back to the living room. He set the game on the table and took the chair opposite her.

"Pam, I'm sorry. You didn't deserver that."

"Don't worry Clark, there's nothing to apologize for. It's OK that you don't like to play 'SCRABBLE'."

"That's not why I'm sorry. I was rude and I'm sorry."

"In that case, apology accepted. Now help me set up the board and prepared to get your armies handed to you!" she laughed.

"We'll see who hands whose armies to whom, Ms. Blake," he said chuckling superiorly.

Two hours later they had played each other to a draw and the hour was growing late.

"Clark, we've got an early day tomorrow, how about we agree to a draw?"

"Good idea. Boy that was fun! The time has flown by," he said as he got Pam's coat from the closet and helped her put it on.

"Yes, we played very evenly tonight. We'll have to do this again sometime so we can determine a winner."

"You're not one of those people who have to win at all costs I hope?" he said cautiously.

"No, I don't mind losing if I have to but I won't throw a game to make somebody feel good. Why do you ask, Clark?"

"No reason," he said innocently. "I've played with people who hate to lose and it takes the fun out of the game, you know?"

"I know what you mean; I had friends like that when I was a child. I stopped playing with them after a while." She opened the door and stepped into the hall. "Well, good night, Clark, I'll see you in the morning."

"Good night, Pam," Clark said and he closed the door behind him.


Clark was flying low over Metropolis, starting his second pass through the city. It was a quiet night, typical for the time of year though. Cold weather kept most people inside on nights like this, even the bad guys. As he had been doing since he had left the city, his second pass through took him near the LexCorp building and his thoughts drifted to Lois. He'd been keeping an eye on her all these months hoping to see something, anything, that might support his convictions that Luthor was not who he seemed. He was sure that now that Lois was his wife, he'd become complacent and something would slip and his real personality would come to the fore.

His problem, if it could be called that, was he'd never found one shred of evidence that Lois wasn't happy in her marriage. While he rarely scanned the building with his x-ray vision to see what actually was happening, he did listen in. All he ever heard were innocent conversations between Lois and her husband, or worse, not so innocent conversations, if it was late enough in the evening. It was these intimate conversations that bothered him most and he made sure not to listen if the hour became too late.

As much as he still believed Lex Luthor to be a criminal and a psychopath, there seemed to be no evidence of it, at least none that he could find. He could also find no evidence that Lois was unhappy in her marriage. He still believed that she had made a mistake by marrying Luthor, but circumstances so far were proving him wrong. He had to at least consider the possibility that he'd made a mistake, as hard as that was to admit. Another possibility, one that seemed even more unrealistic, was Lois might not be the person he thought she was and *was* aware of Luthor's activities and actually supported them. Clark felt badly when thoughts like this crept into his mind, but was it realistic to assume that a man, even Luthor, could keep the criminal activities Clark suspected he was involved in a secret from his wife? No, Clark just couldn't believe that of Lois. He'd known her for a year and, while she might do some things that weren't exactly legal to get a story, he knew she wouldn't stand still for having a criminal as a husband.

Despite his feelings to the contrary, he had to face facts. It looked as if Lois was right; she had chosen a man who loved her and was happy with her decision. He would still check on her during his visits to the city to make sure she was all right, but it was probably an unnecessary effort. He shook his head and returned his concentration to the task at hand. Completing his patrol he headed back to Chicago and his bed.


Pam had been working with Clark for almost eleven months. She liked working with him the times they'd been partnered together, though those kinds of stories were few and far between these days. She enjoyed their daily commute to and from work even more. Clark was fun to talk to, if a little quiet about his past. He had traveled the world and she had convinced him to tell her some of his travel stories. At first he'd been reluctant, but as they became friendlier, he would tell her a story once in a while. The more time she spent with him, the more she had the nagging feeling that she'd seen him somewhere before. For the life of her though, she couldn't place where. That all changed the afternoon she covered a fire in a downtown high rise.

Pam arrived at the scene of the fire and flashed her press pass at the police officer guarding the perimeter. The officer was a man she had worked with occasionally so she stopped to ask some questions.

"Hi, Officer Grabowski. What can you tell me about the situation?"

"Not much, I'm afraid, Ms. Blake. All I know is there is a fire in a storage room on the twenty-fifth floor, a real smoky one too. People below that floor are making their way to the street but people above are trapped by the smoke. Superman has just arrived, so I have hopes that injuries will be minimal."

"Thanks, I'll make my way to the front lines, if that's OK?"

"Sure. Watch your step, though. There's lots of broken glass and debris all over."

Pam moved forward and started interviewing employees who were milling about, watching the firemen trying to gain control of the fire. Suddenly, there was a roar from the crowd and everyone looked skyward. She saw Superman floating down, carrying two women who appeared to be having trouble breathing. Superman handed the women to paramedics and zipped back to floor where the fire was. Not long after, she noticed the amount of smoke coming from the window had distinctly lessened. She guessed that Superman had gotten the fire under control and that accounted for the reduction in the smoke.

A few minutes later, she heard another roar from the crowd and she could see a large group of people exit the building. She overheard the fire chief saying that people who had been trapped on the upper floors were now exiting because Superman had cleared the emergency stairwells of smoke. The fire chief had just finished speaking when Superman suddenly appeared next to him.

Superman crossed his arms over his chest and said, "Chief, I've put out the fire and cleared all the emergency exits. The two women I brought down earlier were the worst of the injured. They were closest to the fire and were trying to put it out. It looks like there wasn't too much damage, not counting the smoke of course. Your men should be able to enter the area safely now."

"Thanks, Superman. We were having trouble getting our hoses to that floor. I sure wish the city council would get off their duffs and change the fire codes for these older high-rises. There's going to be trouble one of these days. It's too bad, but someone is going to have to die before those politicians will do anything," the fire chief said angrily.

"I believe you're right, Chief, but I'll do what I can to change that. Maybe I should have a visit with Mayor Daley," Superman said, looking thoughtful.

"Would you, Superman? Your support would sure go a long way toward convincing the reluctant members of the council and the mayor to finally do something."

"I'll do what I can Chief, I promise." Superman was getting ready to leave now that the scene was secure. Pam knew she'd better hurry if she wanted to get a quote for her article.

"Superman! Superman! Could I have a moment?" she called loudly.

Superman turned and walked toward her. "Certainly Ms. Blake— sorry, Pam." Superman corrected himself.

"You remember my name?" Pam said curiously.

"Yes, I have what is sometimes called a 'photographic memory'. It comes in handy in my line of work," Superman said seriously.

"I'll bet it does. I'm pretty good with faces myself, but names usually escape me. Anyway, what can you tell me about the fire?" Pam asked, getting down to business.

"I arrived before any major damage was done to the building. I was able to put out the fire quickly then I cleared the smoke from the emergency stairwells so people trapped on the floors above could escape. All in all this was a relatively easy rescue. I wish they were all that way."

"I noticed you had a long conversation with the fire chief on the scene. May I ask what you discussed?" she asked.

"We were talking about the need for change in the city fire code to require sprinklers in older high-rise buildings."

"That doesn't surprise me. Sprinklers for high-rises built before 1970 have been proposed many times, but the legislation doesn't seem to get much attention where it counts."

"I have that impression as well. Maybe you could highlight that in your article. I plan to work with city officials to lobby for change. In addition to your story, you might ask your editor to add an editorial about the need for sprinkler systems in older high-rises. This whole situation might have been unnecessary if this building had sprinklers."

"I will, Superman. The lack of sprinklers has been an issue in this city for a long time, and it's about time the politicians took notice and actually did something!" Pam exclaimed. As she was talking to Superman she felt a 'tickle' in the back of her mind. She looked closer at his face, studying him a bit harder. She noticed he had a small mole on his upper lip. She'd seen that mole before! Clark had one a lot like it! She planned to verify that observation before she got too excited, but with the feeling that she'd seen Kent before, she was reasonably certain.

"Thanks for the interview, Superman; I'm sure I'll see you around town," Pam said, grateful for the time he'd been able to give her. But now she wanted to get back to the newsroom to prove her theory.

"You're welcome. I'm sure I will, goodbye."

She watched as Superman lifted off and headed out of sight. Could Superman and Clark really be the same man? Her instincts said yes, her affinity for faces had rarely let her down.


Pam walked into John Barron's office without knocking and stood waiting in front of his desk.

"Yes, Pam, what can I do for you, and have you forgotten how to knock?"

"Sorry, John, but I need to speak to you about something important," said Pam, excitement evident in her stance.

"Oh, what is this about?"

"I just got back from a fire downtown. Superman was there. He asked me to talk to you about doing an editorial on the need for sprinklers in older high-rise buildings." Her words spilled out in a torrent.

"You know we've done editorials like that before and not much came of them. Why do you think it'll do some good now?"

"I overheard Superman telling the fire chief he was going to talk to the mayor about the need for action on this. Besides, Superman asked if we could do it." Almost daring John to disagree with her she continued. "He's done a lot for the world and he seems to be spending more time here. I think we should support him."

"You know how long this issue has been bandied about and nothing has happened. What do you think Superman can do?"

"Superman carries a lot of weight with the people, especially those workers in that high rise today. I think if Superman comes down on the side of sprinkler retrofit legislation and his meeting with the mayor is known to be for that purpose I think there will be too much pressure on the city to ignore the issue this time."

John sat back in his chair and pondered Pam's points. Superman might just be the catalyst needed to force the politician's hands in this matter. When you add in the support of the Tribune to the mix he had a good feeling that they could actually succeed.

"You're right Pam, we should. I'll get on it right away, you get me that copy on the fire and I'll make sure both pieces make the morning edition."

"Thanks, Chief! I'll have it to you in half an hour!" Pam turned and hurried to her desk to get started on the story.

A few minutes later Pam noticed Clark enter the newsroom and head toward his desk. As she saw him approach he slowed and finally stopped in front of her desk.

"Hey, Pam, hot story?" asked Clark airily.

"Hot in more ways than one, Clark. John wants this in half an hour. It's the story about the fire in that downtown high-rise. I'm sorry, but I really need to get back to this," she said politely.

"Sure, Pam, sorry to interrupt," Clark apologized and continued to his desk.

Pam had the story to John's mailbox with seven minutes to spare. It was a good piece, not an award winner, but a good solid piece. The Superman quotes certainly helped. Oh! Superman! She wanted to compare him to Clark to confirm her assumptions. What if she was correct? What should she do with the information?

The one thing she knew she wouldn't do with it was publish it. The world needed Superman. If he felt the need for a disguise there had to be a good reason for it. Some in her profession would have printed the story in a New York minute, but she was not one of them. There was a greater good than just the public's need to know. She liked Clark and considered him a friend, and she couldn't do something like that to a friend. So, if she wasn't going to publish what would she do? First, she decided, she needed to verify her suspicions. If she was wrong further speculation was futile and her affinity for faces had let her down. She got up from her desk to talk to Clark and to study his face in the process.

"Clark, can I speak to you for a minute?"

"Of course, what can I do for you?"

While she talked, she studied his mouth and his eyes, as much as she could see, given the glasses hiding them. Yes, that mole was in the same place and was the same size and shape. His eyes were the same color and shape as well. She imagined Clark with his glasses off and his hair slicked back, which only confirmed her theory. If Clark Kent wasn't Superman, he was his twin brother! Her suspicions confirmed she wrapped up her conversation.

"OK, Clark, thanks. I'll see you on the train tonight, right?"

"Yep, I don't have anything that'll keep me here late. How about I meet you in the lobby about six and we can walk to the station together?"

"Great, see you then." Pam walked back to her desk to ponder her new discovery. She settled into her chair and glanced over at Clark again. Despite her newfound knowledge he didn't look any different. He was still the drop-dead gorgeous man she'd known for the last year. 'OH MY GOD! Clark is Superman!!' she thought again. She took deep breaths trying to calm down. This was big, really big. 'How can I act normally around him tonight? I've got to calm down. I wonder if he can hear my heart beating? He could, I suppose, if he were listening.' She looked casually at Clark again but couldn't see that he was even aware of her. He seemed to be deep in thought on his latest story.

Feeling the need for a drink to calm her nerves, she made her way to the break room. She stopped by Clark's desk on the way. "Hey, Clark, I'm going for coffee, do you want one?"

Clark raised his head and smiled. "No, thanks Pam, I've had my limit for the day," he said before returning to his story.

'That went well, I was able to talk to him without falling apart, at least,' she thought. As she poured sugar into her cup she continued her ruminations. 'He's still the man I know, even if he is Superman. He's my friend, that hasn't changed. I'm going to treat him like I always have, like he's Clark Kent, because that's who he is.' She went back to her desk, finished her coffee and finished her day.


Pam sat at her kitchen table, eating her dinner and thinking. Clark Kent was Superman! That thought had been running through her mind all afternoon. She wondered who else knew. Logically there couldn't be too many people or it probably wouldn't be a secret. She knew that at his old job at the Planet he had been partnered with Lois Lane for about a year. Lois was the best in the business, so she had to know, right? Sure she did, it just made sense. Of course his parents had to know. During the past year they had talked enough, during their rides to and from work, their limited number of stakeouts and such, about their personal lives. She knew he was adopted, an only child. He spent most of his time at work. When he wasn't at work he was out being Superman, she now knew, so that didn't leave him much free time for socialization. Even before she found out about Superman he didn't seem to have many friends outside of work, as he never mentioned anyone, not even in passing. Since she was friendlier with Clark than anyone else at work she felt reasonably sure that there was no one else in Chicago who could be in on the secret.

Why was Clark even *in* Chicago? Clark had come here because of the closing of the Planet, so he said. Could there have been another reason? Superman had been associated with Metropolis since his debut. There must have been an overriding reason for leaving. Superman *was* Metropolis, so even if Clark lost his job you'd think he'd have found another in the city rather than leave completely; taking Superman with him. There were other papers in Metropolis so he could have worked at one of them, couldn't he?

With Clark's background and experience who said he had to stay in print journalism? LNN was headquartered in Metropolis; surely he could have gotten a job there. His former partner was married to Lex Luthor; she could have pulled a few strings for him, but given Clark's feelings about Lois it made sense that he might not want to work there. Right now she had more questions than answers and none would be forthcoming soon. She'd have to give it some time and casually query Clark to see if she could solve this little mystery.

This was a big responsibility, knowing Superman lived a normal life like any other human being. It was amazing in a way, to think that the most powerful being on the planet worked for a living, did his laundry and shopping and worried about making ends meet, just like the rest of us. Why did he do it? He probably didn't need the money; Superman had a charitable foundation that was worth millions. It wasn't out of the question that he could draw a salary from that, so why work as a journalist? Why work at all for that matter. A reporter made a decent salary but would never get rich from it! If it wasn't for the money, why work? It would have to take away from his Superman duties, surely.

Clark spent eight or more hours a day at work and a good portion of those were spent in the newsroom. Come to think of it, Clark did leave the office at odd times, being gone for ten to twenty minutes for no apparent reason. More than once she'd heard John asking where Clark was and then later hearing him pointedly remind Clark that he was not Perry White and he wouldn't put up with his disappearing act. Each time that happened, Clark would disappear less but gradually he'd be back to a few times a day going AWOL, so to speak. If he allowed his job to interfere with his Superman duties that had to mean he *wanted* to work, didn't it?

It occurred to her, again, that she was probably the closest friend Superman had. That thought really humbled her, but she was not frightened by it. The more she thought about it, she realized that Superman was the disguise. Clark was such a normal guy; he grew up in Kansas for heaven's sake. Superman had only been on the scene for a short time. Something had prompted Clark to create Superman. What could have done that? She hoped, someday, she'd find out the answer to that and many other questions. For now she'd play this close to her chest. She'd observe him to see if he was giving off clues that others could pick up. If she noticed something that she felt might endanger the secret, she'd mention it then. For now she'd keep this to herself.


That morning she resolved to start getting some answers to the questions that had been plaguing her the previous night. She'd have to be subtle though so Clark wouldn't suspect he was being questioned. She resolved to start tonight, on their ride home.

Once they got seated on the train she decided to jump in, before Clark could bring up work.

"Clark, I've always wondered about something, why did you move to Chicago? There had to have been openings in Metropolis, weren't there?"

Clark paused, hung his head and sighed. "There were opportunities but none of them fit what I wanted for my career. The other papers in the city were second tier papers or tabloids. I'd worked for the Daily Planet; I wasn't going to take a step down."

"What about LNN? Lois worked there; surely she could have pulled some strings for you?"

"I'm a print journalist, Pam. I'm not interested in television news. As a matter of fact Lois asked me to come to work there. She all but insinuated that I had a job if I wanted one. I told her thanks but no thanks. I had been sending out resumes to top papers in other cities and I knew one of them would come through so why would I settle for a job where I knew I wouldn't be happy?"

"You shouldn't, and personally, I'm glad you didn't," she said as she smiled at him.

Clark glanced at her and there was a ghost of a smile on his face. "I'm glad I didn't either."

"Hey, Clark, I've got some leftover roast beef in the fridge. Can I tempt you to come over for sandwiches tonight? Please?"

He paused, seeming to consider her offer. "All right, for a little while. I've got plans for later though so I can't stay too long."

"Great!" she said and they settled into a companionable silence for the rest of the trip.

Conversation during the walk to her apartment was light. She unlocked her door, waved Clark through and closed it behind her.

"Clark, please sit down while I change. I'll be right out," she called as she made her way to her bedroom.

"Can I get started on anything?"

"No, thanks. I've got everything under control." She returned wearing a light sweater, jeans and slippers. "Boy it feels good to be in casual clothes. Clark, feel free to loosen that tie and take off your jacket," she said as she noticed him sitting just as she'd left him.

"Thanks, Pam, I guess I will."

She quickly pulled the platter of roast beef from the fridge and set it on the table. Bread, butter, mustard and other fixings soon joined it. Clark walked into the kitchen just then, his shirt open at the neck and his sleeves rolled up on his forearms. He looked GOOD!

"Can I help with anything? I feel kind of useless just standing here."

Pam pointed at the cabinet near his shoulder. "You could get out the plates and silverware if you'd like. Thanks, Clark."

"No need to thank me, you're doing all the work, I'm sort of along for the ride." Clark efficiently placed the plates and silverware on the table. "What are we drinking?"

"What do you prefer? Milk or coffee?"

"Milk, please."

"OK, if you'll get the glasses I'll get the milk." Pam pulled the gallon jug of milk from the fridge and placed it on the table. Clark poured two glasses and handed it back.

Seating themselves at the table Pam passed Clark the bread, then the meat. She made her own sandwich then took a bite.

"Hey, this is good," Clark said.

"Thanks, I made it for Sunday dinner. Greg and Julie came over."

"Greg and Julie?"

"My brother and sister-in-law, didn't I ever tell you their names?"

"Oh, yes, I forgot, sorry. So you made this? I didn't know you could cook this well."

"There are a lot of things you don't know about me, Mr. Kent," she said with a shy smile.

Clark started to smile but his faced closed down quickly. "Clark, did I say something I shouldn't?"

"No, Pam. Sorry, I guess I'm just not very good company tonight."

"Nonsense, you're great company, you just have to loosen up. So, you were saying on the train that you wanted to stay in print journalism. How did you end up at the Trib?"

He told her that the Trib had been his first interview and he really wanted to work in Chicago so he could be closer to his parents. When the job was offered he jumped at it and the rest was history, so to speak.

"So, do you visit your parents often?"

"As often as I can, I live pretty cheaply so I can fly down quite often."

'I'll bet he flies down often,' she thought. "You must be very close to your parents, then. I wish I could see mine more often," she said wistfully.

"We are. I love them very much. They aren't getting any younger and the farm work doesn't change so I try to help whenever I can."

"You're a good man, Clark. Not every son would do what you do."

Clark blushed at her comment. "Yeah, well, I do it because I love them."

Clark made another sandwich and refilled his glass. "So, what prompted you to come to Chicago? I would have thought you'd apply to the L. A. Times?"

"I did. Like you though I applied to a lot of papers. I got the interview here first. I wasn't even sure I was going to take it but my mother convinced me it would be good experience interviewing, if nothing else. When I got here something clicked with me and when the offer came I took it. My mother still kicks herself though."


"An call for an interview for the L.A. Times came through while I was in Chicago, that's why. I'd already taken the job here. If it hadn't been for her encouragement I probably wouldn't be working here at all and there was a pretty good chance I'd have worked in L.A. instead."

"Ah, I see. I can understand your mom's feelings but I'm glad you took the job here, too, Pam."

She saw something in his face but she couldn't be sure what it was. It looked like he was pleased but somehow sad as well.

He glanced at the clock in her kitchen. "I'm sorry, Pam, but I've got to get going."

Standing up she said, "No problem. I really appreciate you coming over tonight. It was nice not eating supper alone."

"Yeah, it was," he said sincerely.

She walked him to the door, said good night and waved as he walked down the hall. After she closed the door she walked to the window in her bedroom. She opened it and remained quiet. While she couldn't see anything, it was too dark; she did hear the telltale whoosh of Superman taking off nearby.

'That went well,' she thought. 'I'm really glad he accepted my invitation. I like him a lot and *not* because he's Superman. Clark is a great guy. Handsome, of course, but he doesn't seem to realize it. Just being around him makes me feel comfortable, better than I've felt with any other guy I've known. I think he feels something for me too but it's not easy to get him to express it. He's shy, or maybe reluctant would be a better word. Whatever it is I want to get to know Clark in a personal way. I'll just have to let him know I'm interested.'

She closed the window and settled in front of the TV to see if Superman was in the news.


Clark walked down the stairs from Pam's apartment. He turned and headed between her building and the one next to it. The space between the buildings was dark enough with no windows. He scanned the area and, finding no one about, ducked in, spun into the suit and was airborne.

As he soared over the city on his way to Dallas his thoughts were drawn back to Pam and their conversations of the evening. He was surprised when she invited him home for dinner. It wasn't the first time he'd been invited to her place but it wasn't their usual night. She'd seemed to want him to come so he accepted, though he made sure she knew it was only for supper. That way he could leave early, if necessary.

He was relieved that she planned on sandwiches. He really didn't want her to go to a lot of trouble. He liked Pam as a friend. She was his only real friend in Chicago. He was cordial to his coworkers but he couldn't call them friends, only Pam fit that description.

As much as he tried not to become too friendly with anyone here he couldn't do that where Pam was concerned. Maybe it was because they worked in close proximity or something, but if he was honest that wasn't true. Others had desks as close to his as Pam's but he didn't get them coffee, nor did they offer to get some for him. Pam started asking if he wanted some on her way by and he'd accepted, then he started reciprocating even though he had to go out of his way to do so.

Did he 'like' her? Again, if he was going to be honest, yes, he did. However he wasn't sure he wanted to. His feelings for Pam were no where near what he'd felt for Lois so what did that mean? Did that mean he could find love again? Just having feelings for *any* woman beside Lois surprised him. In all his travels he'd never felt anything like what he'd found with Lois. His feelings for Pam fell into a different category. They weren't the strong feelings he'd had for Lois, certainly, but they also weren't the mild attraction he'd experienced with other women in his travels.

That Nigerian princess had been very beautiful and he'd enjoyed her company but he was only mildly attracted to her. His feelings for Pam were much stronger, though they confused him as well. Would he be able to find something akin to love with another woman? He hoped so. He didn't really want to go through his life alone. He wanted a family some day, a wife and children. He just wondered if his dream could ever come true.

Approaching Dallas he pushed thoughts of his situation with Pam to the back of his mind. He'd have plenty of time to revisit them. He was in no hurry right now.


After a few weeks of observation, Pam had noticed some mannerisms she felt Clark should know about. He'd been exhibiting behavior that could, if continued, cause others to become suspicious. She'd also noticed times when Superman seemed to have had an especially difficult rescue; Clark had acted really subdued and distracted. He probably had no one he could talk to after a rescue, she'd decided. Knowing how sensitive Clark was, he might not feel comfortable talking his to parents if a rescue went bad. If she went through with her plan to tell Clark she knew his secret, could *she* support Superman? She believed strongly in what Superman did so, deep down, she believed she could.

The more important question was how would Clark feel about her knowing his secret? She was a reporter, as he was. He'd probably be worried that she'd reveal it, certainly. She'd have to make very sure she convinced Clark of her trustworthiness. Over the past year she'd come to like Clark very much. She was feeling more for Clark than she'd felt for any man in years and she didn't want her knowing his secret to ruin her chance at happiness with him.

She had dated a few men, in high school, college and afterwards, but had always found them wanting. They were all nice guys, she didn't go for the bad-boy type, but after a few weeks or months of dates she just knew there was nothing 'special' between them. Rather than lead a guy on, she hated women who did that, she told them the truth. For the most part they respected her honesty. She remained friends with a couple of them to this day.

From the moment she'd met Clark she had felt he was different. There was some 'feeling' she had when she looked at him that seemed promising to her. It wasn't love at first sight. She had never believed in that kind of thing. She knew that for her, love grew slowly. She had to feel comfortable with a man first. If she couldn't feel comfortable with a man she knew that she couldn't grow to love him. Clark gave her a very comfortable feeling. She had felt that way the first day and their friendship, along with her comfort level, had grown from there.

Right now Clark was such an enigma. He seemed to really enjoy her company, both at work and in private, but he gave out such mixed signals! One minute she'd sense that he was interested in her as more than a friend might and then his expression would cloud over, as if he were remembering something or someone, and he'd pull back and act almost as if they were casual acquaintances rather than friends. She wanted more than friendship with Clark Kent, she wanted his love, and not because he was Superman. She'd never been a Superman groupie. Superman was hot—any woman could see that, but Clark was the man under the suit. She wanted a man she could snuggle on the couch with, not a superhero to fantasize over. With Clark she could have both, the couch snuggle guy *and* the superhero, though the real man was far more important to her.

She sometimes dreamed about what it might be like dating Clark. She was sure they'd spend a lot of time just talking, sharing their lives with each other. She also knew that there would be interruptions due to Superman activities. She knew and accepted it as part of being with Clark. She thought about how he'd come back to her after a tough rescue and need support and love. She wanted to be the one to provide it and she played different scenarios over in her head of how that might go. She saw herself holding him while he told her of the horrors he'd dealt with. She saw herself telling him he'd done everything he could and people were grateful for his efforts. He'd bemoan the fact he couldn't save everyone of course, but it would be up to her to let him know he was being unfair to himself. She'd give him her unconditional love and support. As the man she loved she could do no less.

Her thoughts were interrupted by John's voice calling to another reporter. While she was reasonably confident Clark wouldn't react negatively to her admission, she wasn't totally sure. She wanted this to work, for a number of reasons, but she was nervous as well. She wanted to help her friend guard his secret. He needed to be told of his behavior and she couldn't do that without telling him she knew.

Clark was a great guy. His Midwestern values and manners were very attractive, reminding her of her father in that respect, who'd been a transplant from southern Illinois to the west coast. Clark was obviously a tribute to his parents' upbringing. He was someone she could love very easily. The fact that he was drop-dead gorgeous didn't play into her decision one bit. Yeah, right! If things went badly and Clark pulled away from her, she'd regret this day for the rest of her life. In spite of the risks, she also knew this was the right thing to do. She was only prolonging the inevitable with her ruminations. Her decision made, she got out of her chair, squared her shoulders, and walked over to his desk.

"Clark, could I talk to you, in private, please?"

Clark looked up from his story, an expression of curiosity on his face. "What's this all about, Pam?"

Insistently, she said, "I really need to talk to you in private, Clark. It isn't something I can say in front of the whole newsroom." She saw a confused look cross his face.

"How about the night editor's office? Would that work?" he said.

"That would be perfect." Now that she had his attention she turned and walked away, leaving him to catch up. Clark entered seconds later then she closed and locked the door.

She noticed that Clark saw her lock the door and he looked at her uneasily. He shuffled to the far side of the desk and sat down behind it. Probably putting as much distance as he could between them, she thought.

"Why all the secrecy, Pam?"

Outwardly Clark appeared to be unconcerned, but she could see the muscle in his jaw working so she knew he wasn't as calm as he appeared. She needed to get started. The longer she took, the more nervous he would become.

"Clark," she started, but her voice failed. She cleared her throat and started again. "Clark, I don't know how to say this. There is no easy way, so I'm just going to say it… Clark, I know you're Superman."

Clark's face went white and his head snapped up. "Pam! Why would you think I'm Superman?" He seemed really stressed and that confirmed her suspicions. If he wasn't Superman he wouldn't be nearly so upset. She needed to diffuse the situation before he flew out the window!

"Clark, please calm down," she said gently. "I know this is hard for you to believe. You're probably wondering how I figured it out. I'll tell you that in a second, but I want you to know that I will *never* tell anyone that I know. We've worked together long enough now that you should know I'm sincere." She looked him directly in the eyes and held them with hers, willing him to believe her. She smiled slightly when she saw him relax and sit back his chair. While he was still as nervous as a cat, at least he was sitting.

"You remember that I've told you I never forget a face?" She sat down across from him so that her eyes were level with Clark's as he sat there looking back at her, nervously.

"Yes, I remember."

"Do you also remember when we first met I told you that you looked familiar?" she continued quietly, drawing him along her chain of logic.

"Yes," he said wariness in his voice.

"Remember a few weeks ago, I told you about the fire where I saw Superman? That was the second time I had met him. As we were talking I got the same feeling. I knew him, or he reminded me of someone I knew. As I thought harder, I suddenly realized he reminded me of *you*, Clark. I studied his mouth and noticed the mole on his lip and the shape of his face and eyes. I then compared that image to you when you got back to the newsroom that day. You are the same, Clark.

'So far so good,' she thought as she continued to study him. 'He's shocked, obviously, but he's listening rather than denying. That's a good sign, right?'

"I didn't say anything right away because I wanted to be sure. I also wanted to get some things straight in my mind before I talked to you. I debated whether to tell you at all for the longest time. I knew if you wanted me, or anyone for that matter, to know, you would tell them. I could have continued on the way I have been forever, but I started to notice some things you do that could, remember I say *could*, cause someone else to figure it out."

The scared look on Clark's face returned at that last statement, so she continued on quickly.

"I've seen you working away when suddenly your head goes up and it's like you're listening to something no one else can hear. You then rush to the emergency stairs and seconds later you can hear Superman go by! I'm reasonably sure no one else has noticed. Maybe they're all too busy or something, but it's obvious to me now that I know what to look for. I *want* to help you guard your secret, Clark. I consider you my friend and I wouldn't want my friend's secret exposed.

'Poor Clark, he's so confused, but who can blame him? A few minutes ago he was confident that no one knew his secret and now, not only am I telling him *I* know but that he's been doing things that could give him away to others!' She felt badly about her decision for a few seconds but realized that telling him so he could protect himself was for the best.

"I also want to help support Superman. I've seen how you are sometimes distracted and subdued after a rescue where there is loss of life. I feel that you are keeping the things you see inside and it is affecting you negatively. People in the emergency services have access to counseling, but Superman has no one. I want to offer my services, Clark, if you'll let me." She paused, hoping for some kind of reaction. Not getting any she continued, gently. "Well, Clark, what do you have to say?"

Clark sat quietly for a few seconds looking stunned. A variety of emotions played on his face as she waited for him to respond. She could see fear, of course, but that didn't last long. She saw confusion mostly. He was probably wondering how he'd given himself away, sure that he'd been careful. Every few seconds he would sigh and run his hand through his hair and shake his head. Finally, after what seemed like hours to her but was really only a couple of minutes, Clark raised his head. He still looked confused but resigned. At least he didn't look so scared. She hoped he believed she'd never tell anyone. It would kill her if he felt he couldn't trust her.

"Yes, Pam," he said sounding tired. "I am Superman."

"I knew it was true but I appreciate you being honest with me. You could have denied it since I have no concrete proof. Please remember, I'll never tell anyone what we've talked about today. There is no way I could hurt my friend like that." She reached across the desk, extending her hand. She was pleased when he grasped it, squeezed gently and continued the contact.

"No, thank you. You don't know how much your reassurance means to me. You're right too, I do know you well enough to see that you are sincere. I've kept my identity a secret for a number of reasons, but the major one is to protect my parents from harm." He looked down at the desk then back to her eyes. "Look, I know you probably have a lot of questions. How about you come to my place and I'll cook dinner and we can talk all night. Would that be all right with you?"

"Yes, Clark, that would be wonderful." Then he smiled at her. While it wasn't one of his megawatt smiles, it wasn't a smile of discomfort either. He seemed to be dealing the whole situation reasonably well.

"Clark, could I ask one question now? This has really been bugging me and I can't wait for tonight to get the answer."

"One, I guess. We've been in here quite a while. People are going to wonder where we are."

"I'll make this quick but I just have to know. Did Lois know your secret?"

She'd stunned him for the second time that day based on his expression. He obviously hadn't expected that to be her first question. It had forced him to think about Lois, something she'd tried hard not to make him do. It was too late to take the question back, but now she regretted asking it. He was probably wondering if she was obsessed with Lois Lane. She wasn't obsessed, exactly, but she was very curious and up 'til now she hadn't been able to get any information. Maybe now that would change.

"No, she never figured it out," he said sadly. "I suppose I should expand on that, but can it wait? We really should get back to work."

He was right. They had been in there a long time. The gossips in the office were probably having a field day. "Of course, Clark. I'm sorry this took so long."

There were many curious stares from their coworkers as they exited the office. They made their way back to their desks, ignoring the attention of the people around them. Quickly enough people went back to work, for which Pam was very grateful. She wondered how she'd be able to get any work done for the balance of the day; luckily they only had a couple of hours left.


Clark sat at his desk and tried to get back to his story. He stared at the monitor, but no words came to him. His mind was occupied with something other than work right now and no amount of will would change that. He was just lucky this piece wasn't due today or John would have had his hide. Giving up, he let his thoughts run free. Pam knew! His major fear had come true; someone other than his mom and dad knew he was Superman! The whole situation was almost comical in a way. From his debut as Superman he had feared the discovery of his secret. Trask had found out but had died soon after, so Clark hadn't been as affected as he was this time. Now he had time to ponder the repercussions. What was ironic, when one thought about it, was he would have bet anything that the person to figure it out would have been Lois, and she'd had *no clue*! His secret had fallen to a friend with a knack for remembering faces instead.

Pam *was* his friend, of that he had no doubt. She was the best friend he had. She had promised him she would keep his secret and he believed her. He wasn't completely accepting of the situation, but that would come with time. He wasn't worried that he would see his secret plastered all over the front page of the Tribune. His other worry, that criminals would target the person because of their association with Superman, was moot in this case. Pam had no association with Superman. She'd written just two exclusive articles in the past year on Superman, far fewer than other reporters in the city. He'd tried very hard to spread his exclusives around so no one would be linked as 'close' to Superman.

Now that Pam had found out, he thought about how the situation would have been different if Lois had discovered his alter-ego. He'd have spent a major portion of his time worrying. Not that he would have worried that Lois would have published his identity— he knew she wouldn't. His worry would have been for Lois herself. She'd done a wonderful job of attracting bad guys before he'd come along. Once he'd arrived and she'd become associated with him, the frequency of mishaps hadn't lessened one iota. As much as he had loved Lois and had wanted a relationship with her, he was glad she hadn't discovered his identity. She would have been in too much danger, and he couldn't have lived with himself if she'd been hurt due to her knowledge.

Pam *knew*! He just couldn't believe it! He'd thought he'd been so careful! He needed to calm down. Pam had only started looking for things that might give him away once she was reasonably sure of his identity. As she had said, she was confident that no one else in the newsroom suspected a thing. As that thought sunk in, he relaxed somewhat. His greatest asset was his normality. Clark's appearance and behavior was just so—so *normal*. There was nothing about him that would make someone associate him with Superman. Even his resemblance to Superman was discounted by most people. The suit made him look taller and his boots had a thicker sole that added to his height. As Clark, he didn't stand up quite as straight, and his business suits hid most of his physique. He felt he was still in good shape with regard to his physical differences.

However, Pam had addressed his mannerisms as confirming her suspicions. She had mentioned his habit of 'listening'. He wasn't even aware that he raised his head when he heard a call. Of course his attention was grabbed by a call for help, which was natural; his head movement was something he'd have to work on. Now that he was aware of it he would make a conscious effort not to do so. If he thought about it, he'd have help too. He could ask Pam to keep watch and remind him if he slipped up.

Her second point, hearing Superman soon after Clark left the room, should be easier to correct. In spite of the need to get to a rescue quickly he could hold back on the speed until he got farther away from the building, maybe fly straight up before heading in the direction he needed to go. Since they were meeting this evening, he'd ask Pam what she thought of his ideas and ask for hers as well.

His last thought caused him to pause. He was actually planning to ask Pam's opinion on Superman. Was he thinking of her as a partner in this effort so soon? He hadn't thought of it in that way, but she could be considered a partner in keeping his secret now. She'd told him she'd do whatever she could to help, and it seemed that he was accepting her in that role. He'd been carrying this burden alone for so long it had become second nature. He wouldn't even tell his parents all the things he saw as Superman. Could he share those things with Pam?

She had offered to give him someone to talk to if he felt the need. Could he do it? He had wanted to share this part of his life with Lois at one time, but could he share it with Pam? He didn't know. He'd have to wait and see. It would be nice to have someone to talk to after a difficult rescue, someone who would allow him to talk about his problems and not judge. The longer he'd known her the more he liked her, as a woman. To allow her to help as she'd suggested he'd have to show her a side of himself, that until now, he had kept hidden. It would mean that he would have to let her see a different, more personal, side of him, at least a little bit. Could he do that after Lois? Could he trust any woman, even Pam, with his heart again? He wanted to, but it was hard. Did he want to take that chance? He just didn't have the answer to that question now. He'd have to see how tonight went. He'd determine how serious she was and he'd make his decision then.

There was one more thing to consider. How was he going to tell his parents? He had to tell them. Keeping this from them had never crossed his mind. He was concerned how his father would take the news. He'd always been a reluctant participant. His dad had never expressed outright opposition to Clark's idea, but Clark could also tell his father wasn't as enthusiastic as his mother had been. As time had passed, his dad had seen all the good that Superman had done, and his pride in Clark was self-evident. He hoped this development wouldn't upset him too much.

Clark was very certain that he could prove to his parents that Pam was trustworthy. Once they were convinced of that, his dad's concerns would lessen, which was all he could ask for. A meeting among the parties involved might be needed, but he wouldn't make that decision until he'd had a chance to talk to his parents.

Now that he'd had this chance to think, he felt better. He knew Pam would not disclose his secret. He also felt she was sincere in her offer to support his activities as Superman. Did he wish that she didn't know? Sure he did, but now that she did, he'd make the best of the situation. Who knew, her figuring out his secret could be a good thing. With the situation as settled as it could be for the time being maybe now he could actually get some work done on his article. He picked up his notes to read through them again.


Dinner at Clark's was very good. He made a stir-fry with chicken and vegetables, a garden salad, and chocolate mousse for dessert. She liked to cook, but knowing Clark liked to cook as well made for a nice change.

"Now that dinner is finished, how about I start by continuing where we left off today?" Clark asked, sounding hopeful.

"I'd like that. You said Lois didn't know your secret. I would have thought that she'd have guessed right away, given her reputation," she said incredulously.

"I believe she had a handicap that you don't have. Lois had trust issues with men and while we became friends I don't think I ever got that close to her."

"Oh, I see. Since Superman and you are so different and she wasn't that close to you she just didn't put two and two together?"

"Basically, the farm boy from Kansas and the superhero who flew were two very different people to her and there was no reason for her to think differently."

She hesitated, then asked haltingly "Could you tell me why you created Superman? There had to be some event that made you want to ­ you know ­ go public?"

She really hoped Clark would share this with her. She would gain so much insight into the man that she felt would help her in the future. As she waited for him to answer, she saw that he wore an expression she couldn't quite read. It looked like he was concerned about something, but he looked sad as well. Could his decision have been a result of his relationship with Lois Lane? It looked like she might be correct, as Clark was still silent. She wanted to say something, but she held her tongue. Clark needed to come to his own decision. If he trusted her with this information, then she'd know he truly trusted her.

Clark was looking away from her, his eyes focused on nothing. She reached out, resting her hand on his arm. She smiled at him encouragingly. He sighed then continued. "I had been struggling for a while before I moved to Metropolis on how to use my abilities to help people. Part of the reason I traveled the world was because I found myself using my powers to help wherever I was staying at the time. I'd try not to be seen, but sometimes that just wasn't possible. When I felt that people were becoming suspicious, I'd move on. I was frustrated, but I didn't know what else to do. I felt that there had to be a way to help and still have a private life.

"Not long after I started at the Planet, Lois and I were coming back from a story. There was an explosion of some sort in the sewer system. A man was hurt and I couldn't stand by and do nothing. I zipped down, grabbed the man and handed him up to safety and was back by Lois's side before she even noticed I was gone. The man I saved pointed to me as the person who'd saved him. I told Lois he was obviously delusional and thought that was that. She looked at me funny and noticed I was all dirty! I thought I was done for but she didn't see the connection. She did tell me that I should keep another set of clothes at work, like she did."

Clark seemed to relax as his story progressed. Pam could see the tension leech out of him the more he talked. Her pride in him almost radiated from her and she felt that gave him the confidence to continue.

"We went upstairs and went back to work but her comment struck a chord with me. I talked to my parents about a secret identity and Superman was born soon after. I've never regretted creating Superman. He has allowed me to use my abilities to help mankind and still have a private life. I have gained so much pleasure and such a sense of accomplishment by being able to help like I do."

Pam felt very humbled by Clark's admission. He truly trusted her with his secret. He'd confirmed so much that she had assumed was the reasoning behind his need to be Superman. The chance comment by Lois Lane that gave him the idea was amazing to her. Would he ever have thought of another identity without it? They'd never know, of course, but the completely serendipitous nature of the situation left her awestruck. She had to let him know she appreciated his trust in her.

"Do you mind if I ask when you developed your powers?"

"Of course not." Clark reached for her hand and held it a second before releasing it and continuing. "My powers developed slowly. When my mom and dad found me they estimated my age at about three months. I seemed very normal to them. According to my mom, I was a good baby. The only thing she mentioned was I didn't get sick as often as other children.

"As I grew up, I developed normally. I fell out of my tree house when I was six and broke my arm. It healed faster than the doctor expected, but not enough to raise suspicion. By the time I was ten or eleven I wasn't getting hurt at all. I also seemed stronger and faster than other kids my age.

"As I reached puberty the various powers started to develop. I started hearing things I shouldn't. I started seeing through walls and other things and my strength increased dramatically. With each new power my mom and dad acted as anchor for me. I was scared. What else would be happening to me? Would I grow a second head? My mind would run away with me and I'd think of the most horrible things.

"My mom and dad were great. They talked to me about each new power as it developed, then dad and I would go someplace where I could practice until I could control it. The control gave me some peace and reduced the worry to a great extent. I don't know what I would have done without the calming influence of my parents.

"The last power to develop was flight. That one came on when I was a senior in high school. Of all the powers I have, I love flying the most. When I found out I could fly I wasn't scared, I was elated! Maybe it was because I was finally used to developing weird powers, or maybe my parents' words had sunk in and I didn't react badly like I had years earlier. Learning I could fly was very fortunate for me when I decided to travel after college. I'd never have been able to see as much of the world if I'd had to pay for air fare."

"That was an amazing story, Clark. Thanks so much for sharing that with me. I want you know, anything I can do to help you in your efforts to be Superman, I'll be happy to do. I've admired what you do as Superman since he first appeared on the scene and I want to help. Please come to me any time you feel the need to talk, day or night. I told you I've noticed you seem distracted after some rescues, so I know you're upset. I can help and I want to, please let me," Pam said sincerely. She moved closer to him as he sat there. She extended her hand and stroked his forearm. They sat that way for a couple of minutes. She felt very strongly that she could save the world in her own way by helping Clark as Superman. She just hoped he'd see it that way as well.

"I don't know, Pam. I see some pretty horrible things as Superman. I don't want to burden you with them." Clark dropped his head, still not looking at her.

"Clark, look at me, please." She waited while he turned his head and looked at her intently. "I'm a reporter. I've seen most of the bad things in the world, you know. I've been on assignment where I've seen death and destruction on a massive scale. It's horrible. I also know that I needed someone to talk to after I'd experienced something like that. Being able to unburden my soul helped immensely. I feel that being able to talk about what you see as Superman will help you as well.

"You've done an amazing job on your own. You are the most well adjusted man I know. But everybody needs help one time or another, no matter how strong they are. Think about it, Clark, that's all I ask."

She'd made her case and all she could do now was to wait and see. She felt reasonably certain he'd agree with her once he overcame his doubts.

"I'll think about it, Pam, I promise." The clock over the stove showed the time was 11:20 PM. "It's getting late. Is it OK if we continue this conversation another time?"

"No problem. We've had a long day and you've told me so much already, there can't be that much left. If something comes up that piques my interest I'll ask. How does that sound?"

"That sounds great. I'd like to see you home safely, would you do the honor of flying with me?"

"You're kidding, right? Me, fly with Superman? Are you sure?"

He paused, frowning, as if he were considering retracting his offer, but a grin soon replaced the frown.

"No, I'm not kidding, and yes, I'm sure."

"Thank you Clark, that's very nice of you, but I don't want to take advantage of my knowledge to get free rides."

"You're not taking advantage, I offered. I want to do this, please let me."

She saw the look in his eyes. He seemed to need to share this side of himself with her but she wasn't quite sure why. She'd accept and see how things went. "All right, but just this once."

"No problem. Now, please step back a bit."

Pam backed up a couple of steps and Clark started to spin. A swirling tornado of colors appeared where Clark had been standing, and when it stopped Superman stood in front of her.

Even though she'd met Superman twice this display knocked her back on her heels. "Wow! I'm awe-struck! I'm speechless!"

"Wait until you've had the complete experience. You can tell me what you think once we get to your place." With that, he scooped her up and flew the short distance to her apartment. He landed in an alley behind her place and spun back into Clark.

"Oh my God, Clark! Flying with you is *breathtaking*. No wonder you enjoy it so much! Thank you for sharing that with me."

"You're welcome. Let me see you to your door, then I'm going to make a quick patrol of the city."

"Thanks again, Clark, I really appreciate how you confided in me. I'll never tell anyone about you. This is *our* secret now." The smile he gave her at this statement warmed her heart.


Clark landed on the balcony of his apartment and walked into his bedroom. Spinning out of the suit he hopped into the shower, seconds later he walked back into the bedroom, a towel draped around his waist. Putting on a t-shirt and some sweats he went to the kitchen to fix himself a cup of tea. He turned the CD player on low and seated himself on the couch.

With his patrol over he had some time to contemplate his new situation. Overall he felt the evening had been positive. He certainly felt calmer than he had earlier in the day. Pam had asked the kinds of questions he would have expected and she'd allowed him to answer at his own pace without getting impatient. She had shown her concern for him when she had noticed he'd seemed uncomfortable talking about the circumstances that caused him to create Superman. The question was logical and relevant; she couldn't know it was also somewhat painful as well. Like so many things about his life in Metropolis, the answer involved Lois.

The more time that passed the easier it became for him to deal with things that reminded him of her. The problem was he didn't feel he was getting over Lois fast enough. It bothered him for two reasons: How could he still be hung up on her after all this time? That question haunted him, especially late at night, like this, when he had time to think. Lois had been married for over a year now and he still thought of her more often than he should.

He knew that he had loved her very deeply; she was, up to this time at least, his one great love. A person didn't forget a love like that overnight; but he felt a year after was pushing it. It seemed that Pam understood, or at least sensed there was still something in his heart for Lois and she didn't seem to feel threatened by it. He respected Pam for that. He respected her for allowing him some privacy in his personal life.

He could also tell, especially tonight, that she was more than casually interested in him. She had touched him more intimately than she had before and he could see her attraction in her eyes. He also noticed how tightly she held him and how she had laid her head on his shoulder when he flew her home. He could tell her heartbeat and respiration increased and he didn't think it was only due to the excitement of flying. While he felt very flattered, he wondered if some of that attraction might not be the result of him being Superman. One of the reasons he'd never told Lois his secret was that he wanted her to love Clark and not just because he was Superman. He didn't want Lois to settle for Clark so she could have Superman. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do, especially since both men were really him, but it made sense to him and that's all that mattered.

Thinking back, he couldn't recall any time where Pam had been obvious about an attraction to Superman. Both times he had met her as the superhero he hadn't detected the kind of hero-worship he had whenever Lois interacted with Superman. Pam didn't break her neck to get every Superman exclusive, not that he would have given them all to her anyway. She behaved like all the other reporters he dealt with, professional and respectful. She didn't treat Superman as if he was her personal superhero and he enjoyed it.

Pam also treated Clark differently too. Now that he had a chance to think about it, she had always been very friendly with Clark, from the first day they'd met. That day she had taken him to his first city council meeting and they had gotten along like they had been friends for years. Even though he had not been aware of it at the time, she had also been giving him subtle signals that she was attracted to him. The signals were never overt but they were there then and, he realized they were there now, and stronger than ever.

The more he thought about it he realized that he liked Pam, liked her very much as well. He even found himself enjoying the flight to her house tonight. He hadn't flown with anybody, much less a woman, in a year and he found the close contact nice. He might even say it was more than nice; it was very enjoyable. He didn't think he could ever react to having another woman in his arms like he had tonight, but he did. He was attracted to Pam as well, at least more than he had been willing to admit. He might not love her, at least right now, but he liked her as more than a friend and that confused him. God he wished he could get past his feelings for Lois, if only for his own peace of mind. But he couldn't and wishing it were so wouldn't change that. Only time could. He'd just have to take his time and get over Lois at his own pace and at the same time not lead Pam on. It was going to be tough, probably on both of them.


Pam walked into her apartment, put away her coat and started to get ready for bed. As she was undressing her thoughts played over the events of the evening just past. The most exciting part of the evening was the trip home. Flying with Superman, no, flying with *Clark* was out of this world! She had told Clark she didn't want to take advantage but she'd have to reevaluate that stance. She just couldn't see herself *not* flying with him every chance she got! Just being held in his arms like that was enough to take her breath away and it had nothing to do with the altitude. Being in his arms seemed so natural to her and having her cheek next to his while she held him allowed her to take in his natural scent. The combination of aftershave and Clark was intoxicating, and she couldn't wait for another dose.

She now knew a lot more about the man than she had just this morning and it wasn't only what he had told her. She knew, even more certainly, that this was probably the man for her. He was everything she'd always wanted in a man. His love for his parents was rare these days and showed her he valued family ties, as she did. She knew most of his views on the world and, for the most part, they meshed with hers. She loved to just talk with him; the subject didn't matter, because he always amazed her with his intelligence and his ability to speak intelligently on just about any subject. She enjoyed spending her leisure time with him, more than with just about anyone but her family. In short, he completed her. Her biggest problem would be to convince him of that and be patient enough while he came to the same conclusion. She could tell there was more than a basic attraction between them and that he could sense it as well though she felt he didn't really acknowledge it. She could see a subconscious response to her at times that encouraged her and allowed her to feel she could be patient while he worked out whatever was bothering him. Clark was a great guy; he'd be worth the wait.

She'd also learned more about Clark as Superman. Most of what he'd told her tonight she had worked out for herself and he'd just confirmed her suspicions. In other cases, like how and why he became Superman, it had come as a complete surprise. It was amazing what a chance comment by a coworker could do to change the course of history. Another promising outcome of the evening was Clark's tacit acceptance of her offer of help when he felt the need to talk about an event that might bother him. Until tonight she wasn't sure he'd go for it but he'd seemed to be open to the idea. She'd have to wait and see if he really followed through.

All in all her decision to tell Clark that she knew his secret had worked out better that she might have expected. Now that he knew he could come to her in his time of need, she felt he might start to confide more in her. If he could do that he might come to accept the feelings for her she was reasonably sure he had.


The phone at the Kent farmhouse rang soon after Martha had finished the washing the dinner dishes.


"Hi, Mom!"

"Clark! How are you, sweetie?"

"I'm fine Mom. Is Dad there with you? I have something I need to tell you both."

"Jonathan! Pick up the phone Clark needs to talk to us."

"Hi son, what's up?"

"Yes, Clark, what did you need to tell us?"

"Mom, Dad, you remember Pam Blake, from work? I've told you about her."

"Yes, Clark, we remember." Martha said. "She's the woman who showed you around when you first started at the Tribune."

"That's right, Mom. I've told you she was pretty sharp, that not much got by her, and, well… she knows."

"What do you mean, she knows?" Jonathan asked, sounding worried. "Knows what?"

"She *knows*. She figured out I'm Superman."

"Oh God, Clark!" Martha burst out. "How did this happen? And what is she going to do with the information?"

"Calm down, Mom. Pam has a real talent for remembering faces. I met her as Superman one time, and then when I started at the paper she told me I seemed familiar to her. It took her a while to put things together, but she saw Superman at a fire and she studied him a bit closer, then she compared Superman to me, and that was it. She didn't tell me right away, though, because she wanted to make sure of her facts. She watched me and noticed some things I do when I hear a call and how I hurry off to the stairs and then Superman is heard in the area."

"Clark, I've told you to be careful!"

"Dad, I am careful! No one at the Planet ever figured it out, and no one else at the Tribune is suspicious. I don't think Pam would have guessed if not for being really good with faces."

"All right, let's all calm down. Assuming that is the case." Martha said "What does she plan to do with this knowledge?"

"Nothing, Mom, I told you. We talked all last night. She's a good friend; she wants nothing more than to be a friend. She wants to be someone I can talk to after a bad rescue and things like that. She's a good person. The only reason she even told me she knew was because she thought what I was doing might arouse suspicion."

"If you say so, Clark," Jonathan said skeptically.

"Mom, Dad, would it be OK to bring her out for dinner one night this week? Maybe if you meet her it'll ease your mind."

"That would be wonderful, Clark. She sounds like a special person. We'd love to meet her. When do you think you'll be down?" Martha relaxed a little now that she'd had some time to think. Her grip on the phone lessened and the whiteness left her knuckles.

"I'm not sure, Mom. I'll talk to Pam and get back to you."

"That's fine, any night this week is good with us. Call us when you know more, and honey, be careful, please."

"I will, Mom. Thanks to Pam, I know what I'm doing, and now I can be on guard for it." Clark paused. "I think I'll start by getting a remote for my pager so I can set it off myself. That should cover my hearing emergency calls and give me an excuse to leave the newsroom."

"That's sounds good, son," Jonathan said.

"Thanks, Mom, Dad. I'll call later this week with all the details, and we'll see you soon."


Jonathan and Martha hung up their respective phones and met in the kitchen.

"Darn! I've always thought something like this was going to happen!"

"Now Jonathan, calm down. It's not as bad as you think."

"Not as bad as I think? Martha, a reporter knows who our boy is! That's about as bad as it gets in my book."

"I might have more sympathy for your position if it were Lois who found out but not much even then. I really don't see this woman causing trouble for Clark. From the little Clark has said about her Pam seems to be a very nice girl. She's certainly not as driven as Lois was and I know *she* wouldn't have published Clark's identity. I think we should meet her before we condemn her."

"I guess you're right, Martha, it just scared me when Clark said that someone knew his secret. And you're right, Lois wouldn't have published Clark's secret. I'm sorry I lost my cool, honey. I'll be calmer by the time Clark and Pam come down."

"It's OK, honey, I worry too, but you'll see. Things will work out for the best."


The next morning, as Clark entered the newsroom, he looked for Pam and saw her by the coffee machine. Grabbing his mug he headed over. Since there was no one else in the area, he felt comfortable telling her about the dinner invitation.

"Good morning, Pam."

"Oh, good morning," she said, smiling brightly.

Clark looked around again to make sure they would not be overheard, "I talked to my parents last night. They'd like to invite you to dinner one day this week, if you're free." Clark looked at her hopefully as he started to put cream and sugar in his mug.

Trying to avoid his eyes, she stared at her cup. "Clark, I don't know, I'd feel so awkward."

"Nonsense! You'll love my mom and dad, they're great people. After all, they raised me," Clark said with a grin, puffing his chest up a bit. "Besides, now that you know about me mom and dad would like to get to know you and for you get to know them. I think it would make them feel better about… you know. What do you say?" Clark poured coffee into his mug as he anxiously waited for her answer.

She paused a second, and Clark wondered what she might be thinking. He hoped she would agree to come, as he really wanted her to meet his mom and dad. Finally, she said, "Sure, Clark, how about tomorrow night?"

"Great! I'll tell Mom tonight. We'll leave right after work if that's OK with you?"

"That works for me. Well, back to the salt mines." With that Pam turned and hurried off to her desk to start the day.


Pam sat at her desk deep in thought. He wanted her to meet his mother and father! What surprised her even more was how quickly she'd agreed! Why didn't she put up more of a fight? She'd just told him she knew he was Superman and now he wanted her to meet his mom and dad! As she thought about the situation, she felt she could understand the invitation. If she were in their position she would want to meet the person who had figured out their son's secret to gauge that person's trustworthiness. No matter what their son had told them, they'd want to assure themselves that the person was, indeed, responsible. After all, the knowledge she now had affected not only Clark, but them as well. This secret was an enormous responsibility for anyone to deal with. The lives of three people rested in her hands! One stray comment could bring their lives, as they were now, to an end!

She knew that his parents might think that most people in her position would be extremely tempted to write this story and damn the consequences. Of course, a person who would do that wouldn't take the time to tell Clark that they knew. That kind of person would have just written the story and Clark and his family would have found out when they read the paper or turned on their TV. She couldn't, and wouldn't, do that.

She had never thought of Clark and his secret as a story. He was a man she respected. A friend she wanted to get to know on a more personal level. Once she had discovered his 'other job,' she'd found that she respected and admired him even more. She had read most of the Superman coverage in the various papers, especially the Daily Planet. Lois Lane had brought the superhero to life for her, helping her understand his motivation to help the world, to make it a better place.

Superman could have easily been a force for evil as he was a force for good. She felt it was Clark's upbringing that made him the hero he was. The more she thought about it, the more she really wanted to meet the two people who had exerted such influence on this man, who helped shape the person he had become. The world would never know, but everyone on this planet owed Jonathan and Martha Kent an immense debt of gratitude. As she returned her concentration to the story in front of her, she found herself looking forward to dinner with Clark and his parents.


The next evening, Pam and Clark headed to the roof of the Tribune in preparation for the trip to Smallville. Clark spun into his suit, picked her up, and drifted slowly into the sky. She settled herself into the crook of his shoulder, her arms tight around his neck. He decided that he enjoyed the closeness of the contact and tightened his hold on her as well. The flight passed mostly in silence, with Clark wondering what the night would bring. He noticed a pensive expression on her face. He assumed that she was also thinking about the night before them. After a short time, Clark started his descent to land behind a well-kept white farmhouse. He set Pam down gently, stepped back and spun into his work clothes. He put his hand on her lower back, guiding her to the back door, where he knocked.

"Come in, Clark," Martha called.

As Pam and Clark walked in the kitchen, Jonathan entered from the living room.

"Mom, Dad, this is Pam Blake."

Pam stepped forward, extended her hand toward Martha and said, "I'm pleased to meet you, Mrs. Kent."

Martha moved closer to her and grasped her hand. "Please, call me Martha, and that's Jonathan."

Pam returned Martha's handshake. "Thanks, Martha, Jonathan. It's very nice of you to invite me for dinner."

"Nonsense," Jonathan said as he shook Pam's hand. "You're a friend of Clark's so you're always welcome here."

Martha directed Pam to a chair and said, "Everyone, sit, supper's ready. We can talk while we eat."

The meal was very enjoyable and any nervousness among the parties soon disappeared. Pam told them of her life growing up in LA and how she had ended up working for the paper. Martha told her quite a bit more about Clark's childhood than Clark felt comfortable with, but Pam seemed to find it very interesting.

The one subject that hadn't come up was the reason for the dinner invitation in the first place. Pam straightened up in her chair as she began to speak.

"Martha, Jonathan, I know you're concerned over my knowing about Clark, but please don't be. He's become a very good friend to me and I'd never do anything to hurt him. I want to help him protect his secret."

Martha smiled and patted Pam's hand. "I know that, dear. I could tell you were sincere after seeing you and talking to you during supper. I will admit that we were a bit concerned when Clark first told us that you'd figured out his secret. But now that we've had a chance to meet, we know you wouldn't do anything to endanger him."

"Martha's right, Pam," Jonathan said "We can see that you're a woman of integrity. We're pleased that you're Clark's friend. We hope that you'll be able to visit more often. Any friend of Clark's is a friend of ours."

Clark saw Pam drop her eyes to her lap; she seemed to be very humbled by Jonathan's comment.

"Thanks, Jonathan. I appreciate the invitation and the trust you've both placed in me. I'd love to visit more often. I've had so much fun tonight. I love the stories of Clark's childhood, especially the embarrassing ones!" She giggled as she looked at Clark with a shy smile.

Clark felt his cheeks redden as he saw the impish grin on Pam's face. His mother also smiled conspiratorially at Pam, and he knew that there would be more moments like this in his future, and he felt pleased at that thought. His feelings for Pam were changing and he wasn't unhappy that they were. She was a very attractive woman once he'd allowed himself to admit it. She was so different from Lois in so many ways. He had never thought he could be attracted to any other woman, but maybe he was wrong. Maybe there *was* more than one woman for him.

It was true that he hadn't felt the instant connection to her like he had with Lois, but that didn't mean too much to him right now. After all, look what that connection had gotten him! He'd spent the better part of the year they worked together trying to get her to notice him and then trying to get her to love to him, all for nothing. No matter what he had done, he couldn't break through her fear of 'ordinary' men. Clark Kent was ordinary in the extreme since he worked so hard to be that way.

He'd been so naïve then. He had really expected her to change her mind once he'd declared his feelings. With the benefit of hindsight he realized how foolish that idea had been.

He'd always have feelings for her, but he also had to be realistic. There was no use hoping in vain for something that wasn't going to happen. That kind of hope could have turned him into a pathetic stalker of sorts, hanging on every shred of news of Lois and her life, watching her from afar, hoping for her to fall out of love with Luthor and come running to him.

He wouldn't allow that to happen. He wasn't that kind of person, for one thing, but it also wasn't a healthy place to be, mentally. It was time to admit he'd lost her to another man and to move on. Maybe he hadn't felt that instant connection to Pam. Maybe she wasn't his first love. That didn't mean he had to ignore the basic attraction there was between them. No, now that Pam knew his secret and had offered to be his confidant when his Superman duties became too much, he would try to get to know her even better and see where their relationship went.

He was startled out of his reverie by someone asking him a question.

"Clark, you seem to be deep in thought," Martha said. "Is anything wrong?"

"No, Mom, nothing's wrong." Clark glanced at the kitchen clock and noticed that it was approaching eleven o'clock. "Pam, it's getting late. What do you say we call it an evening? I know mom and dad get up pretty early and so do we."

"Oh, you're right, I lost track of the time. We've had so much fun I don't want the evening to end. But, now that you mention it, I am getting tired. Thanks again, Martha, Jonathan. I'm so glad you invited me."

"You're very welcome, dear. We've enjoyed your visit very much. I'll make sure Clark brings you out more often." Martha added conspiratorially. "I've got lots of photo albums to show you!"

Clark looked at the smile on his mother's face and knew he was in for it. He had never thought he'd be sharing these things with anyone but Lois and he felt slightly guilty for feeling this way. His world was changing again, but he felt it might be for the better.

He stood up from his chair and moved back, spinning into his suit. He helped Pam into her coat and they all walked to the porch. Pam and Clark said their goodbyes and took off toward Chicago.


On the flight back to Chicago Pam felt a lot calmer than she had on the way to Smallville. The evening had gone great. She'd found Clark's parents to be exactly as she had thought they'd be. She'd also confirmed how much she loved flying with Clark. The quick trip to her place the other night had given her a taste, but tonight had given her an addiction. She'd never turn down a flight with Clark if she could help it. It seemed to her that he held her tighter to his chest this time around. On the way down it had seemed like it to her but now, on the way back she was sure. She could feel his strong arms wrapped tighter around her and it made her feel so safe but also excited, and she loved that feeling. She resumed the position she'd assumed on the way down, snuggled into Clark's shoulder, where she could relax, enjoy the flight and the closeness of the man she wanted to be with forever.

"I enjoyed the evening very much, Clark." she said, a tiny smile on her face. "Your parents are wonderful people."

"I told you that they'd like you. You're such a nice person and you've been a good friend to me. They know that and they appreciate it very much. I know how much they worry about me even if they don't say so. I think they feel a lot better that I have a friend I can confide in if things get to be too much, someone beside them, you know?"

"I understand. As close as I am to my parents, there are things I don't feel comfortable telling them, so I understand perfectly."

"Well, I want to thank you again anyway. You've been great about everything and I feel very good that you're my friend."

"You're welcome. I'm very glad that you're my friend, too. And this flying thing is a nice side benefit!"

"I'm glad you enjoy it, Ms. Blake." he said and grinned back at her. "Superman Airways aims to please."

They settled into a companionable silence, allowing Pam to continue with her thoughts on the evening just past. Her fear of meeting Clark's parents had proven to be unfounded. She'd felt at ease with them soon after they had started eating. They were such wonderful people, down to earth, and obviously very loving. She could see the love between parent and child on their faces every time one of them looked at the other.

Clark was a very lucky man to have been adopted by wonderful people like the Kents. She shivered a bit when she thought how different Clark might have turned out if his parents hadn't been so loving and understanding. She quickly put that thought out of her mind, since speculation like that was foolish. Clark was the product of a loving, respectful Midwestern couple with good family values. He had learned early on the importance of helping others, and that people had a responsibility to those less fortunate.

Clark exhibited those values in his daily life via his work at the Tribune, and, of course, in his work as Superman. Once she was sure of Clark's secret identity, she had started watching Superman coverage on TV more closely. She had seen him in action and had noticed how moved he was by the plight of people he'd helped to recover from natural disasters. She could tell he'd been hurt deeply by every life he couldn't save, by every person who had been injured before he had arrived. She knew that Clark would need to be reminded often that he was still only one man, no matter how strong he was. The forces of nature were more powerful than Superman, and he couldn't stop such things as earthquakes or tornadoes from happening. She'd have to help him to accept that, and to take pride in his efforts on behalf of the survivors of those events.

As she'd come to see this other side of the man she worked with daily, she had found herself becoming more and more attracted to him if that was possible.

All too soon, she saw the lights of Chicago on the horizon. She could see the lights of Midway Airport and the Sears Tower as well. Seconds later, they were over her neighborhood. Clark dropped her off at her apartment and then he left to make a patrol of the city.


As Clark took off after leaving Pam at her door he paused to reflect on the evening. He'd been a little nervous bringing Pam home. Almost as nervous as he was that first time with Lois and that was for an assignment! This time it was a lot more personal, she knew his secret and he knew she liked him. His mother had picked up on her attraction if the looks that passed between her and Pam all night were any indication. She even gave him a couple of looks that he couldn't quite interpret but he assumed them to be related to him and Pam.

He'd found himself holding Pam tighter tonight than he had the other night as well. He tried to convince himself it was because the trip was going to take longer and he was flying a lot faster, but he wasn't kidding anyone. He was starting to enjoy having a woman, an attractive woman at that, in his arms again. If he had to guess, he didn't think Pam was averse to his holding her tighter either since he heard her sigh quietly a few times during each flight. She felt and smelled different than Lois; Pam wore a light, flowery scent that pleased him. He'd always thought Lois fit his body like his missing half but Pam's fit close to perfect as well, if he were honest with himself. This whole thing was just too confusing! He felt guilty for letting Pam have what, previously, only Lois had but he also felt guilty for letting memories of Lois intrude on his time with Pam. He sure was one messed up guy when it came to women. A shot fired down in Cabrini-Green drew his attention. It was time to go to work.


Clark had been very busy after their return from Smallville, so it wasn't until later in the week before he was able to call his parents to follow up on their supper visit.

"Hi, Mom. How are things on the farm?"

"Oh, we're just fine, Clark, the usual. How are you doing?"

"Great, Mom. So, what did you and dad think of Pam?" He knew they were no longer worried about their secret, but he wanted his parents to like her.

"She's very nice, honey, and I'm glad we got a chance to meet her. I hope she'll visit often. I still have to show her your baby pictures, you know!"

"Mom! Could you hold off on that for a while? We're friends… we're not dating you know. I think we could, someday, but I don't see that happening for a while at least." He ran his hand through his hair, frustration with his mother's matchmaking starting to get to him.

"Oh, that's too bad. She's a very attractive girl and I think she likes you, Clark," Martha said with a slight grin to her voice.

"Mom, please. Our friendship is what's important now. Sure she's a very nice person and she is attractive, and *yes* she does like me, as a friend for sure, and maybe more. After… you know, I'm not sure I'm ready for a deeper relationship right now." Clark said sadly. "I thought I had met the woman for me but she had other ideas. I accept that, but I don't want to discuss it any more, all right?"

"All right, sweetie. You know I worry about you, that's all. Give it some time. You'll change your mind when you least expect it, and someone else will fill the empty place you have now."

"I know, Mom, at least that's what I hope will happen. It's been quite a while and just when I think I'm making progress something happens and it hurts almost as bad as the day of the wedding. I didn't think anything could hurt that bad, not even Kryptonite. Even now I try to avoid the society news, but things slip through and I see her and everything she said to me comes rushing back. It's hard Mom, it's real hard."

He sat down on his couch and hung his head, the weight of the conversation and his memories overcoming him. The last time he'd seen something about Lois in the paper she'd looked so happy. She was dancing in the arms of her husband, her head on his chest. She had the most beautiful smile on her face. It was the smile she used to give him once in a while, and seeing it on her face with her in the arms of Luthor really hurt him. He was brought back to the present when his mother continued.

"Oh, Clark, you poor thing, I didn't realize it was still that bad for you. You seemed so much better the other night when Pam was here. You haven't said anything about this before."

"It's not something I'm comfortable telling you, Mom. But now that I have, I do feel a little better getting it off my chest."

"Maybe you should talk to your father. I know he'd be willing to listen, and a sympathetic ear is always a good thing."

"You know, Mom, maybe I will. Do you have room for one more at supper?"



That night, after supper, Clark and Jonathan walked down by the pond to talk. They sat on a log and Clark picked up some stones and started to skip them across the water. He got one to thirteen skips before he broke the silence.

"Dad, how do you get over a lost love?"

Jonathan paused to gather his thoughts before he spoke. "You never really get over it. You eventually get to the point where it doesn't hurt so much to remember. After a time, the good parts of the relationship are remembered fondly, and the bad parts fade away. Your life moves forward, and dealing with the memories becomes easier. Of course, it helps if you are open to other people and not living in the past," said Jonathan carefully. He glanced over at his son and his heart went out to him.

"I'm not living in the past, Dad. But I do think that I'm still too close to the hurt to be objective. Right now, I can't see how I could give my heart to another woman. I'm not ready to take the chance that something similar will happen."

"No, of course not, son. I agree. You are too close to be objective. You loved her very deeply and it will take a long time to come to terms with being rejected by someone you loved like that. I don't know why she didn't return your feelings. Your mother and I thought she did. Who knows? Maybe she couldn't admit her feelings to herself? Only she knows her heart, but please don't assume it was entirely your fault. Could you have been honest with her about Superman? Yes. Would that have made a difference? No one can say. All you can do is learn from the experience and try not to make the same mistakes the next time."

"Thanks, Dad, I feel better just talking about it. I've kept this inside way too long."

"You do have a tendency to do that, you know, but I love you anyway," Jonathan said with a smile, nudging his son with his shoulder.

Clark turned and hugged his father who returned it enthusiastically. "I love you too, Dad."

They sat quietly for a few more minutes, enjoying their time together. Jonathan missed times like this with his son. When Clark was growing up, they had spent a lot of time here on warm summer days, swimming and just talking. The talks got more serious as Clark's powers started to manifest themselves. No matter how much of a challenge Clark's powers became, his love for his son was his guiding light.

No matter how upset he was, Clark always knew his father loved him and he could tell him anything and not be judged for it. The unconditional love between father and son was a gift both of them treasured, and they would always be close because of it. He wished with all his heart that he could fix this for Clark but he knew he couldn't. It was at times like this that he wished Clark's only problem was which new power was going to manifest itself this month. Ah, the good old days!

As the sun was setting, Clark stood up and extended his hand to his father to help him up from the log.

"Thanks again, Dad. I think I'll be heading back to the apartment now. Would you tell Mom goodbye for me?" Clark stepped back, spinning into his suit.

"Sure, son. Have a good flight." Jonathan stood and watched as his son lifted off and flew out of sight.


Having just left his dad by the pond, Clark decided to do a patrol in Metropolis instead of going home. He thought a bit more about what his dad had said. He felt conflicted. He wanted to be over Lois, he really did, but he felt conflicted over his feelings for Pam as well. His feelings were all over the map! One day he'd feel good and he'd start to notice Pam and how pretty her eyes were and he'd think that he might be making progress. Then he'd see or hear a news item about Lois and he'd be back in the dumps again over her rejection. What made it worse was when he would actually hear her voice as he flew by on his patrol. Her voice kept his feelings for her close to the surface, and that wasn't helping.

She'd been married over a year now, and nothing had arisen in the news or in his personal experience to make him believe that Lois was unhappy in her marriage. He had to admit it. He had to have been wrong about Luthor, as hard as that was for him to accept. It was time to stop checking up on Lois and let her live her life and for him start living his. Of course, acknowledging the need and acting on it were two different things. He still didn't see himself jumping into a serious relationship with Pam any time soon. It would take him time to get used to this new state of affairs, but at least he'd made a start down the road to a new relationship someday.

With a much lighter heart, he continued his patrol confident in his resolve to move on.


One evening, a few weeks later, Pam was sitting in her apartment watching LNN. The story of the day, all day, had been the horrendous earthquake in Turkey. Scientific instrumentation had measured it at 8.4 on the Richter scale. Devastation was widespread, and the casualties were estimated at thousands dead and tens of thousands injured and homeless. Superman had been on site since early morning Chicago time and it was now after ten pm. John had been in a rare mood all day wondering where Clark was, even though she'd covered for him as best she could. It was a foregone conclusion that Clark would hear about it tomorrow, even if he did have exclusive Superman quotes to go along with the story he'd submit.

The last update showed Superman had completed everything he could do to help the rescue services. The work remaining to be done was cleanup and refugee services that fell outside Superman's purview. He'd looked battered and defeated by all the death he'd seen. His suit was filthy, spattered with the blood of the injured and dead. She really hoped he'd stop by tonight, because she was sure he could use a friend after the day he'd had.

As if summoned by her thoughts, there was a knock on her door. She ran to it and threw it open, pulling Clark into her arms as she shut the door behind him. He looked as if he would fall down if she didn't hold him up. She didn't know if Clark got physically tired but mental fatigue radiated off him in waves.

"Oh Clark, I'm so glad you're here," she said, hugging him tightly, willing him to feel her support through her contact with his body. She released him and guided him to her couch where he fell into an exhausted heap. She grabbed the remote and turned off the TV. That distraction was not what he needed now.

She sat next to him, pulling his head to her breast and hugging him tightly, rocking him, rubbing his back, and whispering soothing words in his ear. They stayed that way for fifteen minutes, and she was becoming concerned that he hadn't said anything in all that time. This was the worst natural disaster he'd faced since she had known his secret. In the past, he'd talked to her after a few minutes. Those times he'd poured his heart out to her, and she'd helped him cope with the feelings of failure he had when he couldn't rescue everyone. She'd patiently and lovingly reminded him of his limitations, making sure he understood that he had done everything possible for the people involved.

She thought he might have fallen asleep because he hadn't moved in so long. She felt herself starting to fall asleep as well when Clark finally spoke.

"It was horrible. So many dead. I couldn't save them…" Clark said trailing off to silence again.

"I know Clark, I know," she whispered and hugged him even tighter. She waited a few seconds and he continued.

"When I arrived I could hear the trapped crying for help. I couldn't decide who to rescue first. I had to take precious minutes to examine the wreckage so that when I moved something it wouldn't collapse further and cause more injuries. As I rescued more and more people, the remaining ones seemed to be more grievously injured, but I kept going and going. I felt numb after a while, and I just kept moving bricks and stones and wood. I kept on pulling the injured from what was left of their homes and businesses. It got so bad I had to slow down because there was no place left to put the injured.

"After I finished rescuing the living, then came the recovery of the dead. I pulled this one little boy from the ruin of his bedroom. I had to bring his broken little body out of the house in front of his mom and dad. The father took his son from my arms while his wife wailed to God, mourning the loss of her child. There were so many children killed because they were in bed at the time of the quake." Clark stopped his narrative at this point and started to sob again.

"I'm so sorry for you, but you did your best, Clark. You have to know that those people would be in much worse shape if you hadn't been there." She stroked his face and dried his tears. She picked up the hand she had been holding in her lap and kissed it. She wasn't sure if she should be so bold but he didn't seem to mind the gesture. "You probably saved thousands from a horrible death, and those people will be forever grateful for your efforts on their behalf. I saw some of those people on the news. Reporters interviewing them were told the same thing over and over; if it hadn't been for Superman they didn't know what they would do. Even those people who lost family members were thankful for your efforts at recovering their loved ones' remains.

"You've shown the world your compassion for everyone today. You've done what no one else on earth could do. You saved lives that would have surely been lost. You have nothing to be sorry for. You can mourn the people you couldn't save and I know you do, but you can't take responsibility for those deaths, either. You have to focus on all the people you were able to save and take pride in yourself for that." There were tears in her eyes as she held him and kissed the top of his head.

"I know you're right, but at the time it's hard for me not to get wrapped up in all the things I can't do, all the people I can't rescue."

"I know. But for all your speed and strength, you can't do everything. You can't stop an earthquake, Clark, you just can't. All you can do is get to the area as quickly as possible and work as hard as you can to help the people affected. You did that today, Clark. You did good."

Clark raised his head from her breast for the first time in over an hour and looked into her eyes. She could see the hurt in them but the despair was no longer there. He was starting to accept her words as true and he'd begun the healing process from the destruction he'd dealt with all day.

They sat in companionable silence for a while, Pam stroking his face and holding him tight to her, allowing him to decompress from the stress of the day at his own pace. Finally, after another 15 minutes, Clark continued.

"Thanks, Pam. No matter how many times I deal with things like today, it still bothers me to see all the hurt and dead people. I appreciate your telling me again how much good I do when I have a tendency to see only what I couldn't do."

"I would be worried if you weren't bothered by what you have to deal with during times like this. And I'll keep reminding you of the good you do for the world as often as you need me to. You're my friend, I couldn't do anything less." Pam held Clark's hands in hers and kissed his cheek, tasting the tears that he had shed over the course of his tale. She sat back a bit, studying Clark. His posture was a little straighter now, as if the weight of the world had been lifted from him, and maybe it had.

"I should be going now, I feel much better. Thanks you so much for being here for me, Pam. I don't know what I'd do without you." His gratitude evident from his expression.

"You're very welcome. What are friends for if they can't provide a shoulder and support for a friend in need? I'll always be here for you, no matter what." Her tone telling Clark she meant every word.

"I know you will. I'm very grateful for everything you've done. I couldn't ask for a better friend." Clark stood up and hugged Pam tightly before he headed for the door.

She opened it and kissed his cheek once more. "Sleep well, Clark. I'll see you at work tomorrow."

"Good night, Pam."

She closed the door after watching him make his way down the corridor. She felt good that she'd been able to help Clark. When he'd knocked on her door she could see that he'd been more affected by this experience than any since she'd discovered his secret. She'd reacted instinctively tonight, kissing him multiple times. She'd never done that before and she still worried she might have stepped over a line she hadn't crossed before. He hadn't reacted negatively, thank goodness; he hadn't needed anything more to deal with tonight. Maybe he'd appreciated her concern for him and the display of affection she'd shown hadn't bothered him. When he'd left she had kissed his cheek one last time and he certainly hadn't seemed bothered by it. Since he hadn't reacted badly to the kiss she resolved to do more of it, when circumstances were right, of course.


Clark felt much better after his visit with Pam. She had held him in her arms, letting him release his feelings inadequacy. She never rushed him to talk. She never seemed anxious for him to speak. Once he began, she would listen until he finished, allowing him to express his frustration and sadness. She would praise his efforts and chide him gently for dwelling on what he could not do. How many times since she had become his confidant had she reminded him of his limitations, limitations he had to face head on. Just because he was Superman did not make him omnipotent. He might be very powerful, but he, like all men, had limits. Pam reminded him of what he knew to be true but forgot in the heat of the moment. He climbed into bed that night knowing he'd be able to sleep better than he would have without Pam's help.

As he settled on his back, staring at the ceiling, he remembered something else. Pam had kissed him, numerous times. In no case were the kisses even remotely romantic in nature, they were more like the kisses you would give to a friend in need. He had been that tonight, and her kisses had the expected affect. They'd calmed him and showed him, very pointedly, her unconditional support for him. She done it on the spur of the moment, not even thinking he might not welcome them. As he considered this he realized he did welcome them. He'd appreciated the kiss on his hands as she'd looked in his eyes when she tried to convince him that he'd done all he could. He remembered lying on her breast and he felt the gentle kisses she'd laid on his head as he talked, purging his soul of the ache he'd felt. The kiss to his cheek as he'd left was the best of all. She'd just kissed him goodnight, seemingly not caring about any underlying message it might have sent.

He closed his eyes and he could feel Pam's lips on his cheek. He could feel her body close to his and he could smell her perfume. The kiss was quick but heartfelt, at least it seemed that way to him. He decided he liked it, he liked it a lot, and he hoped she'd to it more often.

The next day at work, Clark was heading to the break area to get some coffee when he saw Pam and Cindy Johnson talking about a book Cindy had read that Pam was very interested in. Before he could get there, they left, heading to their respective desks. Clark had the book in question at home and had enjoyed it greatly. He had gotten busy for the remainder of the day and hadn't had an opportunity to talk to her about the book. On the ride home, Clark had an idea.

"Pam, do you have any plans for the next hour or so?" Clark asked.

"No, why?" she asked curiously.

"I was wondering if you'd like to stop by my place. I have that book, 'The Broker' by John Grisham, that I heard you telling Cindy you've been dying to read. I could let you borrow it, if you're interested."

"Why, Mr. Kent, are you planning to get me in your apartment and take advantage of me?" Pam asked seriously, but with a hint of a smile.

"NO! No, I just thought… I heard you talking… I thought you might want…" Clark babbled, feeling very nervous.

"Clark, I'm sorry. I was teasing you and you took me seriously. I guess my weird sense of humor has done me in again. I'd love to borrow the book—that is, if you still want me to," she said contritely.

Clark sat back in the seat and chuckled. "You sure got me, Pam. I'm always nervous about what a woman might think. Not that I invite women to my apartment a lot…" he trailed off, embarrassed again.

"I know, Clark. If there is one man in this city who is a real gentleman, it's you. I've never thought you were a serial dater with a string of women running in and out of your apartment, not that there aren't women interested." She lowered her eyes, looking at her hands clasped in her lap.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence. My mom will be pleased to hear that you think I'm a gentleman. I guess all those years working on my manners weren't wasted," he laughed, trying to lighten the mood. "Here's my stop, we'd better get going."

"This is a really nice place, Clark. I really love the open plan style. I know I probably say that almost every time I'm here but I can't help it. It's so different from most Chicago apartments. I wish my place was laid out like this." She spoke in a normal tone of voice. Pam had taken his powers in stride, so Clark wasn't surprised when she didn't raise her voice to talk to him.

"It's a lot like my old place in Metropolis," he called back. "It even has a balcony off the bedroom. This one doesn't have a view, either, but I don't mind. Just having a private balcony is enough. It makes coming and going as Superman so much easier." Clark returned from the bedroom and handed Pam the book. "Here you go. Please feel free to keep it as long as you need to. I'm finished with it, so there's no rush. Hey, when you're done, maybe we can discuss it?"

"I'd love that. I haven't had a chance to get near a bookstore and I've really wanted to read it. If it is as good as everyone says I'll probably buy it anyway."

"Oh, it is. It's great! I'm looking forward to our discussion." Clark paused. "Hey, if you don't think I'm being too forward, I'd, um, I'd like you to stay for dinner."

"You're sure? I wouldn't want to put you out."

"I'm sure. I can throw together something on really short notice, you know. You should see what I can do with water buffalo," he said, laughing.

"I hope you're not planning water buffalo stir-fry!" she said, horrified.

"No, but I am planning to use steak," he chuckled. "I haven't found any place that sells good water buffalo here in Chicago yet!"

"When you do, remind me *not* to come over for dinner," she said, but Clark saw a smile on her face nonetheless.

Pam seemed to enjoy the meal. She insisted on helping with the dishes, but when they were done she said she needed to head home. Clark helped her on with her coat and grabbed his own jacket.

"Are you going out as well, Clark?" she asked.

"I'm going to walk you to the station," he said seriously.

"There's no need. I walk to my place from the train this time of night all the time, just as I will tonight."

"I know. I just want to make sure you get to the station all right. Call it my Kansas manners, but I don't want you to walk alone," he said, looking at his feet.

"If you insist, though there's really no need." She gestured toward the door, smiling. "Shall we?"

They walked the short distance to the train chatting, along the way. Clark waited with her as well, since the train was due in less than five minutes.

"Thanks for the book, Clark. I really love Grisham's work. And thanks for dinner. I had a very nice time, as always," she said softly, smiling.

"You're welcome," he said smiling bashfully.

"Look, here comes the train. I'll see you in the morning, good night, Clark."

"Good night!"

Clark walked home thinking of how much he had enjoyed having Pam over this evening. She'd been over to his place a number of times, of course, but tonight felt different. However, he also felt confused to a certain extent. Tonight could have been interpreted as an informal date, if one were so inclined. Clark liked Pam, a lot, but he didn't want to lead her on. He wasn't sure if he was ready for dating yet, though his actions tonight made him question his feelings.

He was getting over Lois and he did have feelings for Pam. He was very conflicted over these feelings. How could he be attracted to Pam when he still had some feelings for Lois? He knew that he needed to get past his feeling and he *was* trying. His guilt came from his reluctance to explore his feelings for Pam in greater depth. He didn't feel he could commit to dating Pam while he felt this way for Lois. He also wasn't sure of her feelings for him.

She cared for him deeply, that he knew. No one could do what she had done for him if she didn't care about him. What he wasn't entirely convinced of was her feelings toward him as a man, not a friend. She was very perceptive. She knew that his feelings for Lois were still very much a part of him. She was very patient with him and never pushed for anything more than he offered. Tonight wasn't the first time she'd been to his place and she had acted as she always had, friendly and companionable.

As much as he wanted to change how he felt about Lois, he couldn't do it overnight. If Pam was interested in a relationship with him, she'd have to continue as she had been. He needed to work on his feelings and sort them out, independent of any relationship with another woman. Until he could feel comfortable moving on, he would continue to move their friendship forward and not worry about romance.


Six months later Pam was finishing her last story of the day, two minutes before deadline. It had been a very busy week and she was looking forward to the weekend. Most of the week had been taken up with a major corruption story in city hall, a story so big that John had assigned Clark to work with her on it. As usual they'd worked well together. Pam thought that the more they worked together the better their writing became, even when they worked independently. She could see how Clark had won his Kerth award; his writing was concise and never condescending to his reader. The human angle was always at the forefront of his stories and she admired that. As she was thinking Clark walked up behind her and touched her shoulder.

She jumped and spun around. "Clark, you startled me!"

"Sorry, Pam, I didn't notice you so deep in thought. So, a penny for them?"

"They're not worth that much. I was just spacing out after the week we've had. No deep thoughts here, just my mind wandering to the weekend ahead."

"I know what you mean. I'm glad we have two days off as well. John sure cracked the whip on us this week, but it did make the time fly by! I haven't had a week this busy in a long time. Hey, you want to grab something to eat? I'm buying!"

"Yeah, that would be nice," Pam continued, nervously. "I've been meaning to ask you something for a long time." This was a big step in their relationship and she wasn't sure if she might not be pushing too much. She really hoped he'd accept. "My brother and his wife keep asking me about my friend at work and they'd like to invite you for Sunday dinner. Would you be available, say about two pm?"

Clark paused, seeming to consult his inner day planner. "I have no plans, but you know how easily that can change where I'm concerned. I'd love to meet your brother and his wife. Thanks for inviting me."

"Thank you for accepting. They'll be really pleased, I know I am," she smiled, relieved he had accepted. "Now where are we going to eat?"

Clark grinned, seemingly amused at her reaction. "I was thinking Italian, maybe Angelino's?"

"I love Angelino's, Italian it is!"

As they were riding down in the elevator together, Pam reflected that their relationship had been moving forward nicely, at least in her opinion. They had been getting together one or two nights a week, at his place one night, hers the next for quite some time. Sometimes they would cook in; other times they would order pizza or Chinese if they were running late. Rarely Clark would get food from around the world. While they ate, they would talk about all kinds of subjects, moving smoothly from movies and books to politics and government. More times than not, they shared a common position on the topic of discussion, but when they did not, the debate was spirited without generating anger or animosity.

Tonight's dinner was another sign that their relationship was growing more serious. Only recently had Clark become comfortable asking her out for dinner. Eating at one apartment or the other was two friends being together, but inviting her out was closer to a date, or at least that was the impression Pam had gotten from conversations with Clark.

The elevator reached the lobby floor and they exited the building. Clark looked up at the sky, breathing deeply. "What do you say we walk to Angelino's? It's a nice night and we've been cooped up inside all day."

Pam looked at him and smiled. "That's a wonderful idea! I love to walk through the city at night. Shall we?"

With that they started walking the ten blocks to the restaurant. As they were walking Pam decided to take Clark's hand to see how he would react. He'd been more receptive to her touching him the last few months. Some of that was probably due to when he'd come to her for support after the earthquake in Turkey. He'd guide her through doors and he would touch her casually on their evenings together, but they had not held hands on the street, as yet.

Pam reached out and grasped Clark's hand lightly. She didn't interlace her fingers with his; she held his hand as one might a child's. She held him gently, not squeezing or trying to imply intimacy; she just held it and waited. When Clark didn't release her they continued the rest of the way hand in hand. 'This is progress,' she thought as she enjoyed the more intimate contact. There was a pleased smile on her face for the remainder of their journey.

Upon entering the restaurant Clark walked up to the hostess. "Hi, Gloria. Could we have a table for two, please?"

"I have a lovely table near the window. Is that OK?"

"That's perfect Gloria, how's that little girl of yours? She must be getting big. She turned three a few weeks ago, right?"

"I'm surprised you remembered, thanks for asking Mr…"

"Kent, please, call me Clark."

"Oh, yes, thanks for reminding me, Clark. She sure is getting to be a big girl. Sometimes I think she's three going on thirteen!" She laughed delightedly and showed them to their table.

Pam sat for a few minutes looking at the menu and thinking about Clark's interaction with the hostess. He made people feel special. That quality helped him with his interviews, making them feel at ease while spilling their secrets to him. It also showed at times like this as well. His simple comment meant so much to Gloria and it cost him so little. The greatest thing about it was he didn't think it was anything special. Where he grew up, it was normal to get to know people and ask after their welfare and their children.

Clark was a wonderful man, the kind of man a woman looked for and so rarely found. He was the kind of man she'd like to date, the kind of man she'd like to marry someday. She could see a gradual softening of Clark's heart where she was concerned and that pleased her, but she also wondered how he felt about her romantically. He was still very hard to read that way. She knew he was very fond of her, but she couldn't tell yet if he felt anything more for her. He gave her conflicting signals when they were together. Sometimes he'd look at her as if he was feeling something beyond friendship, but the next time that look would be gone and he'd be his normal, friendly, non-intimate self.

Tonight's hand holding was a good sign, though. He hadn't released her hand after she'd taken his, but he also hadn't offered more by letting her know, verbally, through his actions, or his body language, that he'd enjoyed it. Still, she considered it a good sign; one more sign of Clark's healing process where his heart was concerned.

She looked up from her menu. "I think I'm going to have the lasagna tonight. I think it's the best in the city, but not quite as good as what you brought home from Italy last week."

Clark's eyes locked on hers and he smiled his megawatt smile. "That was good, wasn't it? I love that place. It's run by a family from Palermo who moved to Rome thirty years ago. The grandmother still supervises all the cooking."

"You'll have to tell me how you met them someday. I wish I'd been able to travel the world," she said wistfully, then continued. "Of course you did have an advantage over the rest of us!"

He had the grace to look slightly embarrassed, "I did. I needed to see the world then, to see if there might be other people like me out there. At that time my parents and I didn't know where I came from, so it seemed to be a good idea. Even though I didn't find what I was looking for, I did meet hundreds of people whom I really liked, and I learned a lot of the languages of the world. It was an experience I cherish."

"I can tell you do. You look so happy when you tell me about your travels and how you made so many friends." She looked out the window and sighed wistfully. "Like I said, I'm just a little jealous I didn't travel after school, at least for a bit. Who knows, maybe someday?"

The waiter arrived to take their orders and they settled into a companionable silence. Pam heard Clark clear his throat and returned her attention to him.

"So, could you tell me a little more about your brother and his wife? It was very nice of them to invite me to their home."

Pam grinned and leaned a bit closer to the table. "They are very nice, but I'm prejudiced!" she said impishly. "My brother, Greg, is two years older than me and his wife Julie is a year older than me. They've been married almost seven years now. They met during her freshman year at college here in Illinois, dated all that time, then got married after her graduation. He's an electrical engineer for a big defense contractor and Julie is a housewife. She used to be a programmer for a small business, but they ran into financial difficulties and she got laid off. She's been taking some classes to update her skills, but I don't think she's looking too hard."

"Oh? Why is that?"

"They've been talking about having children so I think she wants to keep her options open in case that works out. They both want her to stay home with a child, if they are lucky enough to have any." Pam wondered if Clark ever thought about children. She put that thought out of her mind quickly.

"I love children," Clark said, a slight smile on his face. "I hope it works out for them."

At that moment the waiter returned with their meals, and they spent the next few minutes quietly eating, allowing the conversation to lag. Finally Pam broke the silence. "This is nice, Clark. Thanks for suggesting we come here tonight."

"You're welcome, but there's no need to thank me. It's two friends eating dinner together, that's all," Clark said quietly.

'Darn,' she thought, disappointed. 'And here I thought we might be making progress. One step forward, two steps back, I guess.'

"I know, but I wanted to. This is the first time we've eaten here together and I enjoyed it very much. I hope you want to do this again, soon." She lowered her gaze and waited, looking through her eyelashes at him.

"It was fun, wasn't it?" he said softly. "I'd like to do this again too. Do you mind if we skip dessert? I really need to do a patrol early tonight."

"No, I don't need dessert after this lovely dinner anyway. How about you walk me to the 'L' station? I can make my way home from there."

"I'd be happy to," Clark said gallantly.

They paid their bill and Clark escorted Pam to the train.


Lois breezed past Mrs. Cox's desk and into the open door of her husband's office.

"Hi Lex, I just stopped by to say goodbye before I leave for my charity club luncheon. Is there anything I can bring back for you while I'm out?"

Lex rose from behind his desk and kissed her on her cheek. "Darling, you know you don't have to do that. I have people on staff to run errands. You need to get over that plebian need of yours to do menial tasks."

"Lex, it's not plebian for a wife to want to do things to help her husband. I'm going to be out anyway, I've got the chauffer, so what's the big deal?"

Lex sighed, frustrated. "Lois, the big deal is my wife does not run errands. You help me by attending to all the charity functions you do allowing me to concentrate more on our business. You're an important woman now, darling. You have to act like one at all times."

Lois sighed; if there was one thing she wasn't happy about in her marriage it was being 'an important woman'. Some days she wished she were waist deep in a city hall corruption scandal again instead of sitting on the board of directors of a half-dozen of the city's largest charities.

"Lois, could you wait here a second, I need to give this to Mrs. Cox." Lex left leaving Lois alone in the large office. The quick second turned into minutes as Mrs. Cox asked Lex a few questions. Being bored, Lois glanced at the papers on her husband's desk. There on the top was an insurance policy on the Daily Planet.

'Why would Lex have this out? The Planet insurance has been settled for years, hasn't it?' She looked closer and noticed the company underwriting the policy was not New York Life and Casualty, the Planet's underwriters, but Northwestern Mutual, a company Lex did a lot of business with.

'Whoa! This policy is for $425,000,000 and it was paid out two weeks after the report on the accident was published. Why didn't Lex tell me about this? With this policy and the policy the Planet board had there would have been plenty of money to rebuild. That son of a—! Wait until I get him in private, I'll rip him a new one!

'No, if he's lied to me about reopening the Planet what other lies has he told me? My God, could Clark have been right about Lex? I wonder if Clark knew about this policy but didn't have any evidence. I need to look into this. I need to find out what my 'loving husband' has been up to.'

Lois's attention was brought back to her husband when she saw him returning to the office. "I'm sorry, darling, that took longer than I thought. Why don't you go to your meeting and we can talk more tonight over dinner."

"That's fine, Lex. I'll be going then." She kissed him on the cheek, spun on her heel and headed to the elevator.

As she rode down in the elevator she started planning how she would proceed in this very sensitive investigation.


After the luncheon she put her preliminary plan into action. She needed to enlist help since she couldn't do this alone. She'd love to have had Clark's help but that just wasn't possible. Most obviously, he no longer lived in Metropolis. This was going to be a very intensive investigation and she needed a local partner. Of lesser importance; she didn't feel comfortable involving Clark in this investigation. She just couldn't stand the 'I told you so' look she'd probably get. He'd never say anything of course, Clark had too much class for that, but the fact that he'd warned her and she'd ignored him would always be in the back of her mind and she didn't want to deal with that. No, she had the perfect partner in mind; she just had to convince him.

She asked the chauffer to drop her off at a local department store and to wait for her in the car. She didn't need help carrying any packages since she was going to the jewelry counter. Instead she headed to the first cell phone kiosk she could find. There she purchased a cheap cell phone and a card with prepaid minutes that she paid for in cash. She took her new phone to the nearest ladies room and dialed a number she hadn't called in years.


"Henderson, this is Lois."

"Lois? Lois who?"

"Lois Lane!"

"Oh, Lois Luthor, no wonder I didn't recognize your voice. I don't travel in the same circles you do."

"Cut the funny business Henderson, this is important!"

"It must be important for you to be calling since I haven't heard from you in almost two years. What's so all fired important this time, Lois?"

"I need your help, Bill, and I don't have anyone else to turn to," she said plaintively.

"Whoa, Lois, this sounds serious."

"It is, Bill, I just don't know how serious yet, but I have a feeling it's going to be awful."

"Why don't you fill me in?"

"Bill, this is big. Top Secret big, and I need you to promise me that *no one* but you will have this information."

"I promise, Lois."

"Thanks, Bill. I appreciate this more than you'll ever know."

Lois recited all that had happened in Lex's office that morning and then gave him her impressions of the facts as she saw them.

"So you see, Bill, I can't think of any reason for Lex to lie to me about the amount of insurance he had on the Planet. If he didn't have a good reason then that only leaves a bad reason. I know Lex isn't a choirboy, you don't get to be a billionaire by being Mr. Nice Guy, but my old reporter's instincts are screaming that this is just the tip of the iceberg."

"I don't know Lois, are you sure you're not misreading something? There could be a perfectly legitimate explanation, you know."

"I suppose there could, Bill, but I really don't think so. Please, I've got a bad feeling, could you nose around and see what you think? You need to be very discrete of course."

"All right, Lois, give me the details and I'll look into it. If there *is* something not right it could become very dangerous for you. Please be careful while I do some preliminary snooping. How do I reach you?"

"I'll have to call you. I have a cell phone I just purchased for cash but I don't want it ringing. That would cause all kinds of problems I don't need. How about I call you this same time next week and you let me know what you've found."

That call had led to others, each one allowing them to dig deeper into Lex's business dealings. Lois was able to put her old investigative skills to good use, rusty though they were at first. It had been slow going but now Lois was convinced that her husband was everything Clark had said about him and much, much more.


Sunday afternoon arrived and Clark rode with Pam to her brother's house. Clark still didn't own a car, not that he needed one. Pam drove a sensible older Honda Accord; it got great mileage and it blended easily in most neighborhoods if they used it on a stakeout.

Pam's brother, Greg, met them at the door. After taking their coats, he extended his hand to Clark. "Welcome to our home. I'm Greg."

"Pleased to meet you Greg. Clark Kent."

"Pleased to finally meet you too, Clark. Pam talks about you all the time," Greg said, smiling at his sister.

Pam had the grace to look embarrassed and punched her brother in the shoulder. "Thanks for nothing, brother! I'll get even with you later."

"Me? I thought I was being polite. Anyway, please have a seat in the living room while I get Julie."

Glancing at Clark as they seated themselves on the couch she noticed he didn't seem too upset at Greg's comment. Though she wished he hadn't said anything. Greg thought he was helping, of course, but given the situation he'd probably done more harm than good.

Not long after Greg returned with his wife in tow. "Clark, this is my wife, Julie."

Clark stood and shook her hand. "Pleased to meet you, Julie. You have a lovely home."

"Thank you, Clark," replied Julie. "It isn't often I see a man who stands when a lady enters the room. I hope you're taking notes, Greg," she smiled at her husband.

"Yes, dear, I am."

They engaged in small talk for a while then moved to the dining room for dinner. Conversation around the table was lively and the meal was superb. Clark enjoyed himself more than he had in a long time, and much to his surprise, there were no calls for his alter ego.

After dinner Greg asked Clark if he'd be interested in seeing the car he was restoring in the garage. "What do you say to helping me take these dishes to the kitchen on the way?" Clark agreed, and the two men made their way out through the kitchen with the plates and silverware.

When she heard the door to the garage close, Pam leaned in to Julie and said, "Julie, did you put Greg up to that?"

Julie giggled and waved her hand in a negative gesture. "No, you know how much he likes to show off that car. He's in for a rude awakening when we have children. His 'baby' in the garage is going," she said, though there was a smile on her face when she said it.

Pam chuckled knowingly. "Yes, he does love that car, luckily not as much as he loves you though, anyone can see that. It is nice to have some time alone to have a little girl talk."

Julie looked at Pam conspiratorially. "Yes, and on that subject, Clark is a real hunk, isn't he! And he's so nice and polite. You don't see many men like that anymore. So, is there anything going on between you two?"

"No, we're friends, very good friends, probably best friends, but no, nothing more right now, not that I'm opposed to it."

Julie looked surprised at that statement. "What's wrong with him? Is he gay? All the good looking ones are married or gay! God, you can never tell, can you!"

Pam looked shocked and grasped her sister-in-law's hand. "Julie! He's not gay! He had a really bad relationship back in Metropolis."

"The poor guy! But that happens to a lot of men, and they're not put off women like you seem to be telling me Clark is. There has to be something else."

Pam looked at her hands in her lap and said sadly, "There may be, but I don't know what it is. All I know is he was hurt pretty badly and I think he's guarding his heart. He'll come around, I think. I have seen some signs of that. He was pleased when I asked him to come for dinner today and we've been seeing each other outside work more too. I just have to move slowly. I know how odd that seems, it's usually the guy that has to go slow because the woman has been hurt. I'm willing to do it, though, because I believe he's worth it."

Julie leaned closer to Pam and gripped her hand. "Oh, he definitely seems worth it, if what I've seen today is any indication. If there is anything Greg and I can do to push things along, you just tell me."

"Thanks for the offer, Julie. I don't think there is much you can do though. I think today may have helped because he seems very relaxed with us. I feel it is going to take a bit more time." She sighed heavily then put a smile on her face before she continued. "That's enough about me and Clark. How are things with you?"


Out in the garage, Greg regaled Clark with the virtues of his car. Clark listened politely, asking questions at the appropriate times to show his interest. After a time the conversation wound down.

"So Clark, are you dating anyone? A good-looking guy like you must have to beat 'em off with a stick!"

Clark was stunned for a second by Greg's question. He didn't know the man that well and here he was asking very personal questions. He paused, considering whether he should answer him. Greg was probably looking for information as to his intentions, given his comment when they'd arrived.

"No, I'm not dating anyone at the moment. Working the hours I do I don't have much time to meet women. I do volunteer work in my off hours as well. I keep very busy," he said seeming annoyed.

Greg raised his hands in a gesture of apology. "I'm sorry, Clark, that was out of line. I'm not judging, just making conversation. I know what you mean though. My sister doesn't date much either, I'm sure due in large part to her job. It's got to be rough to find a woman who can deal with the kind of hours you guys put in. You're almost limited to a woman in the business, I guess."

"I suppose that would make things easier. At least there would be no illusions about the job and the hours required, but there are also pitfalls since people in the business are pretty much workaholics. That's tough on a relationship too," Clark said softly.

Greg walked over to the workbench and picked up a wrench. "Juggling work and home life is always a problem, but when two people really want something to work, they find a way. Marriage is hard work, but it's the best job you'll ever have. I wouldn't trade a day married to Julie for anything in the world."

"My parents have been married for 30 years, and while they make it look easy I know they've had to work hard to get where they are today."

Greg looked at Clark more intensely and straightened up. "I hope I'm not telling tales out of school, but my sister seems pretty interested in you, you know," he said carefully.

Clark paused, absorbing Greg's last statement. "Pam? We're friends, that's all. She doesn't feel that way about me. She's a very independent woman. We spend time together, but as friends. I was surprised but pleased at the invitation today, as a matter of fact. I've known her for a long time and this is the first time I've met anyone from her family." As he spoke, Clark thought back to their dinner together Friday night, and the way she had taken his hand on the walk to Angelino's.

Greg walked over to Clark and leaned against the fender next to him. He looked at Clark for a second then directed his gaze toward the floor as well.

"I know what I hear when she talks about you on her visits with us and I know what I saw during dinner. She's attracted to you, I can tell, but she's holding back. I'm not sure why, but she is. I'm not saying she's head over heels in love, but there is a definite attraction there, and with not much effort I think something could happen in that direction. Look, I've probably said more than I ever should but I'm her big brother and I've got to look out for my sister, you know how it is," he said sounding embarrassed.

Clark walked to the workbench while digesting Greg's comments. Was Pam interested in him romantically? She was a very pretty woman; he'd noticed that the first time he'd met her, and now that they'd become friends he saw that she was beautiful where it counted, inside. She had a lovely soul. She was kind, loving, loyal, and really fun to be with. If he were honest he missed her on the nights they didn't get together. She'd helped him a number of times after he'd come back from rescues where innocents had died. She'd let him cry out his grief and she'd offered quiet support. He knew he always felt better after being with her at times like that.

They'd been meeting outside of work much more often when Superman wasn't involved, and he'd enjoyed those times as well. They'd watch movies or just talk for hours, each of them seeming to enjoy the discussion and the debate. The more he thought about it the more he realized he was pleased to hear this news. He realized that knowing Pam wanted more to their relationship made it easier for him. Now all he had to do was decide on what he wanted. He'd have to give it some more thought. "Thanks for the heads up, Greg."

Greg stood up and clapped Clark on the shoulder. "I'm glad I could be of help."


Clark left to patrol Metropolis when Pam dropped him off after dinner. As he made his way east, he pondered his conversation with Greg and what had happened after. He'd observed Pam more closely to see if Greg was correct in his assessment of her feelings for him. He'd watched her to see if he could detect the signs Greg had mentioned. While there was nothing really overt, there was a slight increase in her heart rate when he sat near her, and he caught her glancing at him at bit more than was absolutely necessary for the conversation. When he would look at her more intently she'd lower her eyes shyly, not all the time but enough to be noticeable. It looked like Greg was right, maybe Pam was attracted to him, more than he'd previously thought she was.

In private, she was very respectful of him, rarely pushing for more than a friend would want. Of course, she knew about Lois and his love for her, and she probably sensed there was more than was he telling her and she was giving him space. He knew her well enough now to know that she'd put her own feelings aside to help him, and not to put pressure on him. He was humbled by that thought. If she was putting his feelings before her own it surely meant that Pam cared a lot more than he was ready to admit. If he were honest what he'd just described was… love. She loved him and she was ready to put her needs aside so he wouldn't be pressured. The realization that Pam would do that for him warmed his heart and a smile crept onto his face. As Superman arrived at the outskirts of Metropolis, he put his ruminations out of his mind to focus on his job.

The last few times he'd been in Metropolis there seemed to be more criminal activity in Suicide Slum. Muggings had been on the rise, mostly the result of increased gang activity, so he planned to spend more time in the area this evening than he usually did, maybe start and end his patrol there. He was thinking that he might even have to do some extra patrols on days he'd normally be in other cities. Maybe he was getting predictable in his patrolling. He was passing over the theater district, deep in thought, when he heard it. That familiar laugh, the laugh he'd never forget but had hoped never to hear again.

He stopped, floating high above the city and focused his vision below. At the curb was a long black limousine, a man in a tuxedo was helping a woman out of the door. It was her. She was beautiful, as always, and she was happy. After all, she was laughing and enjoying the company of her husband. He waited until they entered the theater and he lost sight of them. He let out a breath he didn't even realize he'd been holding.

What surprised him was that he didn't feel as bereft as he thought he would if he ever saw her again. Seeing her happy didn't hurt as badly as he'd expected. Maybe his dad's advice was right, time helped to put things in perspective. It was time for him to be a man and move on. He'd spent a lot of time grieving for what he'd lost, and while he'd never forget the good times, he felt like he'd finally be able to put his love for Lois behind him. After his conversation with Greg, and his own observations later, he felt that Pam was more than likely interested in moving forward with a relationship. Now that he had seen Lois again, he realized that he was not feeling the devastation that he used to at the mere thought of her. Maybe enough time *had* passed that he could at least think about having a relationship with a woman who *wasn't* Lois Lane.


Clark had been at the Tribune for about two and a half years. He was firmly ensconced as one of the top reporters in the city; he'd even won an award for Chicago journalists. Just last week John had told him that he was in the running for a Kerth this year for his story about city corruption and the hired trucks scandal. While he wouldn't be too disappointed if he didn't win, it would be nice, if only to prove to himself that his first one wasn't a fluke.

He was seeing even more of Pam outside work, as well. He'd invite her to stop at his place for supper more often and he'd cook dinner for them. He usually did this on his local patrol nights so he could spend more time with her, rather than having to end the evening early. On these evenings they'd talk about work, stories they were both working on, generally bouncing ideas off each other. The thing he enjoyed most, of all the things they did, was when he'd tutor her in French. She'd mentioned that she'd taken French in high school but had not kept up with it in college. A dream she'd had for years was to vacation in France, touring Paris and the Côte d'A·zur and be able to communicate in the native language. When he'd heard this he volunteered to be her tutor and she enthusiastically accepted. They spent at least part of every evening they were together speaking French. She was progressing nicely, if he did say so himself.

Some weekends they'd spend time walking along the lake front, holding hands and chatting about nothing. Other weekends they'd hit the various museums and art galleries. Of course they spent time in Smallville, though never overnight. He'd even started to give her a kiss on the cheek as they were parting, which he could see pleased her greatly. He knew he was probably moving too slowly but he didn't want to rush things. He was sure he was serious about her and didn't want to mess anything up.


One evening Pam received a call from her sister-in-law, Julie.

"Hi Pam, I'm glad I got you. I've been trying for the last couple of hours to reach you, where have you been?"

"Oh, I just got home from dinner at Clark's, why didn't you call my cell?"

"I kept getting the message that the user was unavailable. Did your battery die again?"

Pam pulled her cell phone from her purse and turned it on. Nothing. She threw the phone back in her purse and sat down on her couch. "Yes, I'm afraid it did. Stupid battery! I guess it's time for a new one. This one won't hold a charge anymore! What did you need, Julie?"

"Well, it really wasn't that important, you know." She hesitated, and just before Pam spoke, she screamed, "I just told your brother he was going to be a daddy!"

Pam jumped up off the couch and started to pace her living room. "Julie, that's great! How far along are you? When are you due?"

"I'm six weeks along. The doctor estimates my due date as July 14th next year, but it could be two weeks either way."

Pam stopped pacing and sat back down, "I'm so happy for you and Greg! Congratulations! We need to get together for coffee and you can tell me all about it. I want to hear how you told Greg and his reaction, you know!"

"Yes, I know. So, you were at Clark's eh? You've been over there a lot lately, haven't you? Is this finally getting serious?"

Pam's face took on a wistful look which carried over into her voice. "I think it may be, Julie. He seems to be more open to getting together with me, and he smiles more, and there are little touches between us, you know? The other day he put his arm around my shoulders and hugged me close on the way to a restaurant. I was stunned at first but I wrapped my arm around his waist and we stayed like that the whole way. I'm really attracted to him and now I'm getting vibes that he's receptive to me too. I'm not sure exactly what's holding him back."

"I remember you mentioned he'd been hurt before. He really had to be affected badly. How long has it been now, two years?"

Pam sat back further into the couch, getting comfortable she pulled her legs underneath her. "Yeah, a little over that. Clark had his two year anniversary at the Tribune back in July. He just needs to get on with his life. I see signs that he is, but I'm getting a little impatient. The problem is I don't know what I can do about it." Pam twirled her hair around with her fingers several times.

"You could ask him out. It is done these days, you know. You could show him you're interested and that you're an independent woman in the bargain. You don't have to put much pressure on him, make it a casual date, nothing fancy, and see how he reacts. You'll know for sure if he accepts and then how he responds on the date. If he doesn't, maybe it's time to cut your losses and move on."

Pam's face brightened at Julie's suggestion. "You know Julie, that's a great idea! I want this to work between us but I'm not going to wait forever. We're good enough friends to give me hope that he'll accept, but I'll try not to be too devastated if he says no. We'll have a good strong friendship regardless. I don't want there to be any awkwardness if this goes south. I'll do it! I'm going to ask him to pizza and a movie on Saturday! Wish me luck!"

"Good luck Pam, I hope this works out how you want, you deserve it."

"Thanks Julie, I'll keep you posted."


Friday night Pam cooked for Clark at her place, she'd insisted, since the last three times he'd done the cooking and she wanted to hold up her end of the friendship. After dinner they sat down to watch a movie on her couch.

"What movie are we watching tonight?"

"Sleepless in Seattle, I love that movie! I've been told I look a little like Meg Ryan, what do you think?" Pam leaned forward and turned to 'model' her profile for him.

"Now that you mention it, I see a slight resemblance, but you're *much* taller," he chuckled. "I like that movie as well. It's nice to see that a guy can find romance again after such a devastating loss."

The irony of that statement was not lost on Pam. "Yes, it is. His son was so cute, working so hard to get his dad to come out of his shell. Come on, sit down and I'll get the popcorn."

"Popcorn? We just finished dinner!"

Pam looked at Clark as if he'd said the most ridiculous thing in the world. "Clark, you know it's not movie night if we don't have popcorn! Now sit down."

"Yes, ma'am."

She patted his shoulder as she went by. "Good boy! I'll get you trained yet."

They sat quietly and watched the movie with the popcorn bowl between them. Throughout the night, their hands would touch as they grabbed for the food. Sometimes their touches would linger before continuing on for another handful. Despite Clark's earlier protest, he ate his share of the popcorn and more. By the time the movie was half over, the bowl was empty and her head was resting on his chest, his arm holding her closely. She'd snuggled closer and rested her arm across his stomach. He'd even laid kisses on her head periodically.

All too soon for Pam, Clark stood up and got ready to leave. He was heading out to patrol the west coast tonight, so he didn't have to rush as much as he did on his east coast nights.

As he was getting his jacket, Pam decided it was time to take the chance and ask Clark out. She walked to where he was standing by the door. Touching his arm, she turned him so he was looking at her.



"Do you have plans for tomorrow evening?" she asked softly.

"No, nothing special, just a late night patrol of the city. Why?"

She looked directly into his eyes and continued. "I'd like to ask you out for pizza and a movie with me," she said huskily as her hand slid down his arm to grasp his hand. "I'll pick you up at six. What do you say, Clark?"

"Is this like a date, Pam?" he asked, sounding curious.

Clark's eyes darkened as he looked at her and she continued, her voice soft and tender. "Yes, Clark, it's like a date. You remember those, don't you? You get an invitation from a person. You accept, the two of you go out and the person doing the inviting pays. They take you home at the end of the evening and walk you to your door, that kind of a date. So, is it a date, Clark?"

Clark paused, she assumed he was weighing her offer of course, but she could see he was also thinking of something else. He looked deeper into her eyes and said, "I'd be delighted to do pizza and a movie with you. Thank you."

Pam was secretly ecstatic but she contained her enthusiasm. She looked at him calmly, but her pleasure at his acceptance showed in her eyes.

"You're welcome, Clark. I'll see you at six, then," she said as she stretched to kiss him on the cheek.

He returned the gesture and just before the door closed he said, "Six it is. I look forward to it."


The phone in Julie Blake's living room rang and she rushed from the bathroom to grab it. "Hello?"

"Julie, it's me! He said, 'yes'!"

Julie raised her eyes to the ceiling and pumped her hand in victory. "Clark said yes! That's great! I'm so happy for you, Pam! Tell me all about it!"

Pam told her all about dinner and the movie they watched. "I was telling him that I loved 'Sleepless in Seattle', that it was such a wonderful love story. Clark said that he liked the movie as well and he thought it was nice to see that a man could find romance again after a devastating loss."

Julie thought over Pam's last statement. "That *was* ironic wasn't it? Did you plan that?"

"I might have taken special care in my choice of movie. It is my very favorite, as you know, so it could have been just a wonderful coincidence!"

Julie smiled conspiratorially. "I love it! He never had a chance, did he?"

"I'd like to think he didn't, but you can't count your chickens before they're hatched. I'm really glad he accepted. I would have been pretty surprised if he hadn't, since I'd been getting positive vibes all night. We're going out tomorrow at six for pizza and a movie, real low key. We'll see what happens. I have a feeling that this might be the start of something good."

Julie smiled at the enthusiasm she heard from her sister-in-law. "Well, girl, you keep me posted. If you get home early enough, which I hope you don't, call me right away. Otherwise I expect a call first thing Sunday morning or you're off the preferred babysitting auntie list!"

"No problem, Julie. I think I'll be bursting at the seams to tell somebody about the date as soon as it's over. I've got a new battery for my cell, so I may be calling you on my way down his steps!"

Julie looked surprised and said, "You're driving?"

"I invited him, I'm driving, and I'm paying. He'll just have to accept that I'm a liberated modern woman," Pam chuckled.

Julie looked around the living room, even though no one was around, and asked softly, "Do you plan to kiss him goodnight? It is your first date, after all."

"Probably a small kiss, just to give him an idea of what he's got ahead of him. But I'll play that by ear as well, depending on how the date goes."

"I know it'll be a success, I just know it! I've got this feeling, Pam. I'll be thinking good thoughts."

"Thanks, Julie, I really appreciate it. I know I've said this before but you're like the sister I never had. I'm glad to be able to confide in you like this."

"You're welcome, 'sis'. Good luck with your date. I'll be waiting for your call. I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight; you've got me all excited!"

"You take care of yourself; you're sleeping for two, you know! You have to take good care of my niece or nephew. I'm looking forward to being an aunt *and* a godmother!"

Julie rubbed her hand over her abdomen and thought of the child developing within her. "I wouldn't want anyone else to be godmother to my child. Who knows, if things work out for you, I may not have to look too hard for a godfather!"

"Don't jinx it, Julie! Let's take this one step at a time. Good night, I'll call you soon."

Julie hung up the phone and headed to the kitchen. She didn't know how she'd be able to wait until Greg got home to tell him about the date. She knew he'd be pleased to hear the news.


Pam knocked on Clark's door at exactly 5:58 pm. She smoothed her blouse, tucked her hair behind her ear and took a deep breath while she waited for Clark to answer. He opened the door and invited her in.

"You look very pretty tonight, Pam."

Pam blushed slightly at his complement. "Thank you, kind sir, you look very handsome yourself." Clark was wearing black jeans and a black polo shirt that showed off his magnificent physique to its fullest. She felt her heart beat faster and her breath became short. She'd seen him in casual clothes, of course, but tonight the situation was different. She wanted this to work. She wanted more than the friendship they had no matter how good that was. She wanted his friendship *and* his love, and she felt she had a real possibility of getting them.

"Shall we go, Clark? The movie starts at eight so we have plenty of time to eat and relax for a while. I thought we'd go to Uno's for pizza. It's a fun place and it's close to the theater as well."

"Let me get a jacket and we're out of here."


At the restaurant they talked and teased each other throughout dinner. Pam finished her meal and gazed lovingly at Clark. He looked great tonight. He was very receptive to her touches, and he returned them readily.

"How was your pizza, Clark?"

"It's was good. I'm glad you suggested coming here. I've been in the city over two years now and until today I've never had Uno's pizza. It's really good!"

"Uno's started in the 1930's with one small restaurant and it has expanded to locations all over the city and suburbs. They have locations in other cities now, though I've also heard the quality isn't the same as here. You can't call yourself a Chicagoan until you've had Uno's, so you're now official!" she exclaimed, smiling beautifully at Clark.

His eyes gazed deeply into hers. He held her hand and said, "When I moved here, I missed Metropolis a lot. I felt so at home and that feeling only grew the longer I lived there. Chicago was nice, but it wasn't Metropolis. That started to change when we became friends. You've made me appreciate the city as a vibrant entity in and of itself. The longer I've live here the more I feel at home. Metropolis will always have a special place in my heart, but I consider Chicago my home now and that is because of you."

Pam choked up with joy at Clark's declaration. He felt at home because of *her*! "I'm glad you feel that way, Clark. I love this city. It has been my home for a long time now, and I'm pleased that I was able to pass that love along to you."

"You did, I don't think I'd feel the same about the city if it wasn't for you. It is you that makes this city come alive." He let go of her hand and stroked up and down her arm as he spoke. "I see Chicago through your eyes, yes, but it's your presence that makes me stay. I enjoy being with you, whether that's at work, or at our apartments. You're a funny, pretty, intelligent woman and I'm honored that you are my friend."

Pam's heart did flip-flops as she absorbed Clark's words. She was pleasantly surprised, however, that he felt comfortable enough to express them. She took it as a sign that he, too, wanted a real relationship with her. She was very glad that she had taken the initiative and asked Clark out this evening. By doing that, she had declared his importance to her. She felt that might have prompted him to examine his feelings toward her in greater depth, at least she hoped so. It looked like he had decided his interest in her was something he wanted to pursue, and that pleased her even more.

She smiled brightly and continued. "I'm honored to be your friend too, Clark. I'm very pleased that you feel that way about the city, and about me. I feel the same way about you. I see the city through your eyes too, and I find myself seeing my favorite places anew." She squeezed his hand and ran her thumb over his knuckles lovingly hoping to convey her love for him. She reluctantly pulled her hand back and started to gather her things.

"We should get going, Clark. It's nearly seven-thirty."

"What movie are we seeing?"

"Jerry Maguire, is that OK?"

"Yeah, sounds good to me." Clark stood and helped her on with her jacket, then guided her out the door to her car.

Pam paid for the tickets and they made their way to their seats. "Where do you like to sit, Clark?"

"How about we sit in the back row? I see this theater has couples seating. We wouldn't have the armrest between us. You know, we didn't have anything like this back east."

"I didn't know that. Couples seating is very popular in this area but it's not in all the theaters, yet."

They chose a seat in the center of the row, removed their coats, and sat down. Before she had a chance to think about it, Clark slipped his arm around her shoulders, gently guiding her into the crook of his arm. She felt his hand caressing her arm and smiled. She grasped his free hand and interlaced her fingers with his. They settled down to watch the coming attractions in companionable silence.

As the movie played, Pam's thoughts were drawn back to the dinner they had just shared. She had expected him to respond to her favorably, since he had accepted her invitation. However, his responses were more than she had hoped for, much to her surprise and pleasure. He had held her hand quite lovingly as he'd told her about his feelings, and now he was holding her again, in an even more intimate way. He hadn't removed his arm once, but had gently stroked her arm every few minutes. She looked at him periodically, and more often than not he was looking at her instead of the movie.

She was enjoying the closeness they were sharing. While this was not the first time they had sat this close together the setting seemed to amplify every gesture. Here, in the darkness, his leg and thigh came in contact with hers and the feeling was electric. She found it difficult to concentrate on the movie with all the physical stimulation she was experiencing, so she decided to give up and just enjoy the feelings instead. She hoped that he was feeling even half of what she was!

Two hours flew by and the credits were rolling before they knew it. Just as she'd done at dinner she reluctantly released Clark's hand so they could put on their jackets. As they made their way down the stairs to the theater floor, she felt his hand on the small of her back. He'd done that almost from the beginning of their friendship, but the significance of the act seemed to have grown. To her, his hand seemed to be in greater contact with her back, the pressure slightly more than it had been previous to this night and it made her feel wonderful. Once they reached the lobby, and the crowd had thinned out Clark held her hand again. They made their way slowly through the parking lot to her car.

On the way home they were both quiet, neither one wanting the evening to end. Pam decided to try to extend their time together. "Clark, would you like to stop for coffee and pie? They have great pie at the little diner down the street from your place."

"Sounds good! But I'm paying! You've paid for everything tonight and it is my turn," he said resolutely.

"All right, Clark, if you insist. Does it threaten your masculinity to have the woman pay?" she asked with a teasing smile.

"Not at all. I just want to be fair. My parents raised me to be a gentleman. You wouldn't want to offend my parents, would you?"

Pam paused for a second. "Far be it for me to offend Martha and Jonathan, though I don't think your mother would be very offended."

"No, she probably wouldn't, but I'm paying anyway."

They settled into a booth and ordered two coffees. Pam wanted banana cream pie and Clark ordered country apple. With their pie and coffee in front of them, they talked about the upcoming exhibit of The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence at the Art Institute. Pam was particularly looking forward to seeing Michelangelo's work. Three refills of coffee later, the time was approaching midnight. As much as she didn't want the evening to end, she knew Clark still had to do a patrol.

"Pam, I hate to say this but—You know, I've had a great time and I really don't want the evening to end, but…"

Pam patted his hand sympathetically. "I understand, Clark. Let's get the check and I'll drive you home."

"The check is mine, remember?"

"Yes, Clark, I remember! Now get your wallet out so we can get going."

Clark paid the bill and they drove to his apartment. He started to climb out of the car when she saw him pause. She had been unbuckling her seat belt preparing to exit the vehicle, her door already opened.

He turned to look at her. "You don't have to do this you know, I'm only going to head right out again anyway."

She looked him in the eye sternly though her smile betrayed her. "When I take a man on a date he gets walked to his door. My parents taught me manners too!"

She exited the car and as he joined her on the sidewalk she took his arm and led him up the steps of his building. They rode the elevator in silence, holding hands. The doors opened and they took their time getting to his apartment. Stopping in front of his door, they turned to face each other.

"Pam, I had a wonderful time. Thanks for inviting me."

Pam stepped even closer to him and looked into his beautiful brown eyes. "You're welcome, Clark. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, I know I did." With that, she stood on her tiptoes, moved her mouth to his, and kissed him briefly but sensually. She broke the kiss before she lost her head and she lowered her eyes. "Good night, Clark. Have a good patrol." She looked deep into his eyes, brushed the lock of hair off his forehead, turned and walked to the elevator.


Clark unlocked his door and sat on his couch, thinking about the evening and the kiss. He thought he would feel awkward at first, since he'd always thought the only woman he'd ever want to be on a date with was Lois. In spite of his knowing in his heart that Lois was married, he had held onto his love for her so long it was difficult for him to let go. He also realized it wasn't fair to Pam to keep doing that.

She had put her heart on the line with this date. She had taken the initiative and asked him out, knowing full well that she could be rejected. She had protected herself, and her heart, by framing the date in a very casual way; after all, pizza and a movie didn't convey passionate romance. Now that he thought about it, she had given him an out as well. She hadn't wanted to make him feel obligated to say yes, but he knew she had wanted him to accept nonetheless.

Once he had figured all that out, it felt as if a weight had been removed from his heart. He had seen Pam in a different light this evening. She was a beautiful woman, of course, tall, shapely, and very sexy. Her long legs looked great in the slacks she'd worn this evening and he had to admit just the thought of the way they hugged her bottom did things to him he'd never thought he'd feel again. He was a lucky man that she was interested in him. She had to have had men who desired her over the course of her life, but she had waited. Now she had entered his life and she'd enriched it greatly. He had responded to her by holding her in a more romantic way than he had previously. While he had put his arm around her before, tonight was different. He'd stroked her arm, his fingers eliciting small shivers from her as he did so. She'd held his other hand stroking his knuckles with her thumb throughout the evening. The small contact had driven him almost to distraction. As they'd talked he found that he couldn't tear his eyes from her and her smile let him know of her interest in him more than words ever could.

He had been pleasantly surprised with the seating arrangements at the theater. It had allowed them to sit more intimately, almost like being on the couch at his apartment. He enjoyed how their bodies touched as well. The warmth of her leg and thigh against his affected him greatly. He found himself almost sweating at times. His reaction was surprising at first, but instead of analyzing things to death, he relaxed and enjoyed every second.

He had glanced at her periodically and had often found her looking back. In the darkened theater he could see her eyes shining brightly, and her smile as their eyes met warmed his heart. With his enhanced senses, he could hear her heart beating slightly faster and her breathing increase each time they looked at each other. When the movie ended, he was surprised at how quickly the time had passed. He also realized that he hadn't watched more than a few minutes of it! He had hoped she wouldn't want to talk about it on the way home, because he would have been embarrassed by his inattention.

He had jumped at the invitation to extend the evening like a fish taking a lure. The euphoric feeling between them continued as they ate, and the time had passed far too quickly… The date wasn't the funniest, or the sexiest, or even the wildest one he'd ever had, but it was… nice. A perfect first date for him. Pam's kiss was really nice, too. He hadn't kissed a woman in over two years. He missed it, and it was time to change that situation. With the decision made, he left on his patrol.


Since it was well after midnight, Pam didn't call Julie, though she was sorely tempted. The date had gone better than she had envisioned. Clark had been very attentive and not the least bit reluctant to touch her or hold her. She could still feel his touch as she remembered their conversation over coffee. It felt like they'd held hands the whole time, though that was impossible since they had eaten their pie. The pinnacle of the evening, though, was the kiss.

For a first kiss it had been wonderful. Though it was brief, she had the impression that Clark was going to be a great kisser, and she couldn't wait to put that theory to the test. She would do so the next time they got together, that's for sure. She wondered if he'd stop by or call tomorrow. She hoped he would. Then she'd know that he really wanted to continue and move forward with a relationship. She showered and climbed into bed with thoughts of being in Clark's arms, playing through her mind.


The ringing of the phone awakened Pam. She looked at the clock on her bedside table. Eight o'clock! Who could be calling her at this ungodly hour on a Sunday morning! She reached out to silence the infernal racket.

"'Lo, who is this?" she grumbled.

"Pam, is that you? You sound terrible!"

"Julie?" Pam's annoyance increased in concert with her alertness. "It's eight o'clock! I was sleeping!"

"How could you sleep? I've been on pins and needles since we talked on Friday! What happened? How was the date? Did you kiss him? Come on, I'm dying of suspense here!" Julie exclaimed, her words running together in her effort to get them out.

"Slow down; let me wake up a second." Pam ran her hand through her hair, propped a pillow behind her and sat up against the headboard. "OK, Julie, I guess I'm as awake as I'm going to be. The date was great! He was dressed in black jeans with a black polo shirt. God, that guy has a body on him! There isn't an ounce of fat anywhere! Black is his color, too!

"At the restaurant we talked and held hands. At the movies he held me the whole night. I couldn't tell you the plot of the thing, either, all I could think about was him. He jumped at my suggestion of pie and coffee after the movie so he must have been enjoying himself. We talked for close to two hours, holding hands the whole time. Finally I walked him to his door and kissed him, just a quick kiss but wow, it was great! I can tell you, that man can kiss!"

"Way to go! I told you it would work out! That sounds so sweet." Julie continued hopefully. "So when are you seeing him again?"

Pam thought for a second. They hadn't discussed their next date last night and she regretted that now. "I'm not sure. We didn't talk about that. I kissed him, told him goodnight and walked away. I wanted to give him something to think about. Personally, I'd be surprised if I didn't hear from him today. If he feels anything like I do right now, he can't wait to see me!"

"If he's got any brains at all he'll want to see you today, that's for sure. After what you've told me, if I was a man I'd be over there knocking on your door with breakfast!"

As Julie finished someone knocked on Pam's door. "Julie, there's someone at the door, hold on while I see who it is." She ran to the door and looked through the peephole. She staggered back, stunned. Clark was standing there with a brown bag and a tray with two cups of coffee in his hands. 'Boy, that Julie should start picking my lottery numbers after this,' Pam thought. "Hold on a second, Clark, I have to put on a robe!" she hollered as she ran back to the bedroom.

She picked up the phone and she noticed her hands shaking with excitement. "Julie! You're not going to believe this! He's at the door!"

"Clark's at the door?!"


"Then what are you doing talking to me? Get going! I'll talk to you later! Good luck!"

"Thanks, Julie! I'll call you! Bye."

Pam ran a brush through her hair, threw on a bathrobe and ran back through the living room. She took two deep breaths to calm herself and opened the door.

"Good morning, Clark, sorry to keep you waiting."

"No problem, Pam. You weren't expecting me. I was at a rescue in France, and on the way back I stopped at this little bakery I know that has the best croissants and coffee. I thought I'd surprise you with breakfast. I hope that's all right?"

Pam moved closer to him and rested her hand on his arm. "It's more than all right, Clark; it's very thoughtful of you. Please, come in."

Clark set the bag down and placed a cup of coffee for each of them on the table. Pam handed him three plates, one for each of them and one for the extra croissants. She grabbed some butter and jelly from the refrigerator while he got some silverware. She also put on a pot of coffee, since she'd probably want more than one cup with breakfast.

Turning around, she saw Clark sitting at the table, waiting for her to sit down. He was looking at her differently than he usually did, and it made her anxious.

Cautiously she asked, "What is it, Clark? You're looking at me rather strangely."

Clark shook his head slightly. "Was I? I'm sorry. I was just thinking this is the first time I've been here this early, and I noticed how good you look in the morning. You're a beautiful woman, Pam."

Pam blushed. "Thank you, Clark, it's very nice of you to say that."

"It's true. You are beautiful, and you're great friend. I'm a very lucky man to know you, and I'd like to know you even better. Would you like to go to a museum with me today?"

Pam's heart leapt at his suggestion. He wanted to take her out again today! The long wait had been worth it, her dreams were finally coming true. She lowered her head and looked at him through her eyelashes. "That would be wonderful, Clark. What museum would you like to visit, the Field Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry?"

"I was thinking about the Louvre, actually," Clark said with a grin.

"The Louvre?" she stammered. "The real Louvre? That's in France!"

"Yes it is, but it's still early there and on Sunday they stay open a little later so we'll have plenty of time. We can hit a bistro on the Champs Élysées for lunch and then go wherever you'd like for dinner. It'll give you a chance to try out your new linguistic skills, too." With hope in his eyes, he asked, "What do you say?"

She jumped out of her chair, too excited to sit. "What do I say? Yes!" She ran over to him, threw her arms around his neck hugging him tightly. "Yes! I'd love to Clark; I've never been to France before! Do I need a passport?"

"No, Superman Airways doesn't stop for customs, so no passport is necessary," he said smiling.

She stepped back and ran her hand through her hair. "Of course. I'm just so excited! Oh, Clark, this is great! I've always wanted to visit the Louvre!"

"You're very welcome, Pam. Now sit down and eat your breakfast. We can leave as soon as you get dressed."

She went back to her place and buttered her first croissant. They talked throughout breakfast with Clark giving her some ideas for parts of the museum he'd like to show her. They'd see the Mona Lisa, of course, but Pam also wanted to see the exhibit of French Impressionists, since she loved that period and always stopped by that exhibit when she went to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Within the hour they were flying east toward France. She marveled at the sensation of flying like this. She knew they had to be moving very fast, since it would take 8 or 9 hours to fly from Chicago to Paris via normal methods. She asked Clark about it and he told her about his aura and how people and objects held close to him like this were protected by it and not affected by the speed at which he traveled. He also told her that even with his aura he had to watch his speed, because he could fly fast enough to cause someone harm. She thought about this and wondered how fast he could really fly. They had talked about his powers a lot, but she'd never asked about them in detail. Now that they were dating it was probably time to ask some more questions. After the Louvre, of course.

Minutes later the continent of Europe came into her field of vision, and not long after that, they landed in a deserted alley. A quick spin into casual clothes and they were making their way to the museum entrance.

Clark showed her all around the museum, and they spent their time discussing the various works of art they saw. Before they had the chance to see even half the exhibits they had planned to see, the museum closing notification was sounded and they were forced, grudgingly, to leave.

"Don't worry; we'll come back again whenever you want. I had a great time today. How about we hit that bistro? I'm hungry."

Pam noticed for the first time all day that she too was very hungry. "That's a great idea, Clark. Thanks again for suggesting coming here. This is turning into a dream second date."

He reached out and she felt his hands grasp hers. "I hope it is the second of many dates, Pam. I meant what I said at breakfast today. I want to get to know you even better, and I hope you feel the same way."

Stepping closer she looked deep into his eyes and brushed the lock of hair from his forehead lovingly. "I do, Clark. I want to get to know you much better as well. You are a very kind, caring and handsome man, one who I want to know very, very well."

She saw his eyes light up and his face took on a very pleased expression. "I'm glad you feel that way Pam. Here's the bistro I was telling you about. Let's grab a table and we can talk some more."

They had a wonderful meal and continued discussing the exhibits they'd seen and the ones they wanted to see next time. They moved smoothly from one topic to another with companionable silences interspersed where they just held hands and looked into each others eyes. After the meal, they window shopped for a while. They wandered into a small park when Clark stopped and turned her to look at him.

"Pam, today has been wonderful, and I owe it all to you."

Surprised by his statement she replied, "To me? What makes you say that?"

"You've grown into a wonderful friend, the best friend I could ask for. You've helped me as Superman when I needed support just to keep going some days. But most important, you've helped me by being patient, and understanding my reluctance to risk my heart again. Your patience with me while I worked through my issues has been astounding. Not many women would have waited as long as you have, been as understanding, or just been a friend when that was what I truly needed. I'm ready to move on now and I'm so glad that I'm moving on with you." Gently, Clark gathered her to him and kissed her.

This kiss was nothing like the one the night before. It started tentatively but soon became more confident on both their parts. When she felt his tongue request entrance, she opened her mouth gratefully and soon their tongues were dueling together, first in her mouth then in his. Soon they had to break apart to breathe, but the magic was not lost between them. She rested her head on his chest and sighed.

Tears ran, unbidden, down her cheeks. "Clark, oh Clark, that was beautiful. I've always known you were hurting but I never knew how badly. I'm the lucky one. To be your friend is the greatest honor in the world. I wasn't in love with you when we first met but I did know I respected you because of who you were. The love I feel for you now has grown slowly as I have gotten to know you over the last two years. Maybe it wasn't love at first sight for either of us, but I think our feelings are just as strong nonetheless. I love you, Clark Kent."

She raised her head from his chest and saw the tears shining in his eyes. "I love you, Pamela Blake, I love you too!" Clark said as he guided her chin up and kissed her again and again.

He wiped her tears with his thumbs, then kissed her nose and smiled at her. "Pam, would like to freshen up a bit before we head back home? We can take our time then hit a restaurant for a late dinner."

She held his hands in hers and looked into his eyes. All her dreams were coming true. This wonderful man was in love with her. His heart had healed and now he was giving it to her to possess and protect. And protect it she would. She would cherish the gift of Clark's heart for the rest of her life. Before her thoughts caused her to start crying again she continued. "That sounds like a good idea, Clark. I would like to fix my makeup." He led them to a little restaurant where Pam used the restroom, then they were on their way. As they drew closer to Chicago, Pam had an idea. She hoped he wouldn't think she was being too forward. Their relationship was moving very quickly, but still, he might not react favorably to her idea. She decided to take the chance. If he didn't think it was something he'd like to do she'd drop it.

Carefully she asked, "Clark, could we make a stop in Smallville?"

"Smallville? Sure, but why?" he asked.

She looked into his eyes and stroked his chin. "If I know your mother she's been hurting for you since you moved from Metropolis. While she may not have shown it, she's concerned. I know how I feel about you and I'm very sure how you feel about me. Why don't we stop by and tell your parents we're dating? I think they'd be pleased to hear it."

A pensive look crossed his face. He seemed to be weighing her suggestion. She hoped that he'd agree and that she hadn't presumed too much too early in their relationship. She knew she'd made the right decision when he turned to her with that megawatt smile on his face. "That's a great idea! I'm sure they'll be pleased as well, but are you ready for this? This is only our second date."

Pam's eyes twinkled, her smile widening as she said, "I feel something between us Clark. I feel like I want to tell the world I'm dating you. That's why I'm not concerned about telling your parents now. Does that ease your mind?"

Relief and happiness shone on Clark's face. "Yes, it does. A stop in Smallville it is then!"


Martha and Jonathan had just settled down to watch television when there was a knock on the front door.

Jonathan sent a puzzled glance at his wife. "Now who can that be?"

She shrugged and replied, "Go answer the door and you'll find out."

Jonathan was surprised to see Clark standing there with Pam beside him. "Martha, it's Clark and Pam! Come on in kids, come on in, it's good to see you. What a nice surprise."

Jonathan closed the door behind them and settled back in his chair when Pam spoke up. "We were on our way to San Francisco for dinner and we thought we'd stop and say hi. I hope we haven't come at a bad time?"

Martha waved her hand dismissively. "No dear, certainly not, we were just watching TV. It's good to see you again. I wish you'd come more often. I can never see my boy enough."

"Thanks, Mom. I miss you guys too, and I do try to visit as often as possible. We'll have to find more time to visit now."

Jonathan saw that Martha had picked up on that last statement very quickly. "*We*, Clark? What do you mean 'we'?" she asked hopefully.

Pam spoke up at this time and said, "Yes, Martha, we. Clark and I are dating."

Jonathan looked at Martha and saw that the stunned feeling he had was mirrored in wife's face. What Pam said sunk in and they turned back to face the two younger people.

"You're dating? When did this happen, Clark?" Jonathan asked.

"Pam asked me out on a date last night. Then I stopped by with a surprise breakfast this morning. We spent the day in Paris at the Louvre and we're finishing off with dinner in San Francisco. I know this seems kind of quick, but we've known each other for over two years now and have become best friends in that time. This was just the next natural step. I think it would have happened sooner if I hadn't been so scared. Thankfully, Pam was patient with me."

"I think he was worth the wait," Pam said. Jonathan saw her smiling at Clark lovingly.

Martha walked over to Pam and hugged her whispering, "Thank you for taking care of my boy." Martha pulled back with tears brimming in her eyes, but she held them back. Though they were tears of joy, she didn't want to shed them right now.

Jonathan smiled broadly as he hugged his son. They embraced for a bit and then pulled back. "You treat her right, boy. She's a keeper."

"I plan to, Dad, I plan to. It was her idea to stop and give you the good news. I didn't want to presume upon our relationship, but she made me see that she wanted to tell you and I readily agreed. Seeing you two so happy makes me glad we did."

"Yes, Jonathan, I wanted to stop. I felt you both should know since you been so kind to me. I love him very much and I know he loves me too. I'm just grateful that he realized it before I reached retirement!" she said with a grin at Clark.

Jonathan saw that Clark took the good natured ribbing with ease. He knew that Clark could have missed out on another chance at love by mourning his relationship with Lois. He was very grateful himself that his son had seized this chance before it was too late.

The four of them spent an hour or so just talking and enjoying each others company, but soon it was time for Pam and Clark to leave.

"You two stop by often now, you hear?" Martha said. "You know you're always welcome."

"That's right, son, we want to see plenty of this little lady so you make sure you bring her."

"I will Dad."

"I'll make sure he does Jonathan, don't worry. I love the farm and I want to come often."

The two couples walked to the porch where Clark spun into the suit. He picked Pam up and the young couple lifted off, heading into the western sky. Martha and Jonathan watched them go until they could see them no more, then they returned to the living room. Jonathan pulled Martha into his arms and kissed her. When they broke apart they stood looking into each others eyes.

"Well, Martha, it looks like our boy is going to be all right."

"Yes it does, sweetie. I've been really worried about him."

"I'd never have guessed."

Martha batted him on the shoulder. "Oh, you! There's no fooling you, is there?"

"Not in this case. We were both pretty worried. But he was his own worst enemy where she was concerned."

"Yes, he was. There was many a time I wanted to grab that boy by the ear and shake some sense into him but I had to bite my tongue and support him the best I could, as I know you did. He's got a second chance now, and I think he's learned his lesson. He won't make a mess of this relationship if he can help it."

"No, there's no way she's going to let him."


Three months later Pam and Clark were having dinner with Julie and Greg. Julie was now about five months along and she was starting to show more and it was obvious that being pregnant agreed with her.

Clark set his napkin next to his plate and leaned back in his chair. "This is a wonderful meal, Julie, as usual. I don't know how you do it, in your condition."

"I'm pregnant, Clark, not an invalid. I'm not that big yet, it will be a few more months before moving around becomes a chore."

"I guess I haven't thought much about it. All anyone ever hears about are the problems women face as their pregnancy progresses."

Greg piped in at this moment. "Don't let her kid you, Clark, you're not here for the complaining when she has trouble getting out of bed in the morning." Leaning over, Greg gave Julie a quick kiss and hug.

"You'll get yours later, Greg. I'll be getting a longer than usual back rub tonight!"

Greg's smile showed that he was going to enjoy his 'punishment'. "Yes, dear."

"So, Pam," Julie said, with a twinkle in her eye, "Is Clark any good at back rubs?"


"Yeah, Pam," Greg chipped in, "Is he?"

Pam's cheeks turned a wonderful shade of pink as she looked back and forth among Julie, Greg and Clark.

Seeing a chance to extricate himself and Pam gracefully, Clark spoke up. "Julie, you should know that a gentleman never kisses, or in this case rubs, and tells." His teasing expression said nothing and everything.

Still looking embarrassed Pam glared at her sister-in-law. "Don't you think it's time for dessert, Julie? How about we have it in the living room?" She rose and headed for the kitchen. "Clark, Greg, why don't you boys move to the couch while I help Julie?"

Taking the hint Greg and Clark headed toward the living room as Julie and Pam disappeared into the kitchen.


As soon as the door closed behind them Pam rounded on Julie. "I can't believe you said that!"

"Come on, Pam. We're all adults here. You can't tell me you haven't had a few 'back rubs' with that hunky guy you're dating."

"No, Julie, we haven't."

Seemingly taken aback by this comment Julie eased herself into a chair. "Nothing? Not even a little slap and tickle?"

Smiling dreamily Pam blushed again. "Well, maybe a little, but nothing else! And you know why."

"Yes I do, but if you don't mind my asking, why? You're 28 and Clark is at least 30, you're obviously very serious about each other…"

Pam dropped her head, suddenly finding the floor very interesting. "I know, but I still want to wait."

"You do?"

"Yes. Clark is wonderful. When things start to get too heated and I slow things down and he respects my wishes. It's not every guy who would do that, you know!"

"Oh, I know. I've fought off my share of gropers in my day." Curiosity overrode discretion causing Julie to probe deeper. "So, how does a beautiful woman like you avoid intimacy with a cutie like Clark this long?"

"I'm not a total innocent, as you well know. I've had experiences with guys before." She paused, thinking back over the experiences she'd had. "I've always believed that sex was for marriage and would be so much better with a man you really loved. I know it sounds odd but I'm so close and I don't want to fail now."

"Wow, that's amazing, Pam, but I respect your decision. There aren't many girls like you in the world, mores the pity."

"Thanks, Julie. I knew you'd understand. Enough of this, the guys are going to be wondering what happened to us! I'll grab the tray with the coffee and you get the cake."


Clark was seated on the couch with Greg across the coffee table from him. They had just gotten comfortable when Greg spoke.

"So, Clark, how are things going between you and my little sister? You seem to be dating pretty seriously?"

"Things are going great Greg. I really enjoy being with her." Clark smiled wistfully. "She's one in a million."

"That she is, but then again, I'm prejudiced," he chuckled. Turning his head, Greg looked toward the kitchen for the second time in as many minutes. "I wonder what could be keeping them? They've been in there a long time."

At that second Pam appeared in the doorway, followed by Julie. Greg and Clark stood immediately and took the coffee and cake from the ladies. While the women seated themselves Clark poured the coffee while Greg distributed the cake.

"This cake is really great, Julie. Did you bake it from scratch?" Clark asked.

"I wish! No, it's a good old box mix but I did add my own special touch that my mom taught me. I think it really helps the flavor."

"Oh it does!" Pam said. "You'll have to give me recipe secret, Julie."

"I don't know, Pam. Can you keep a secret?"

A knowing look passed between Pam and Clark. "I certainly can, and I resent your implications!" Her smile, however, belied her outrage.

"Well, if you're sure. I guess I can trust you! The secret ingredient for this cake is a half-cup of Napoleon brandy."

"Should you be eating cake with brandy?" Pam asked.

"The alcohol cooks off during baking," Clark said. "It's perfectly safe for a pregnant woman."

"I didn't think you'd know that, Clark," Julie said.

"Oh, he's a great cook, Julie," Pam said. "He's almost chef quality!"

"I don't know if I'd go quite that far, Pam, but I do love to cook. My mom taught me everything she knows."

"Well, she taught you well. His stir-fry's are to die for."

Soon the cake was finished and as they were enjoying their coffee and chatting Clark stood up.

"I've been planning something for a while now and this is the perfect time to do it."

"What are you talking about, Clark," Pam asked curiously.

"Patience, please," he said with a smile. "Now if I may…"

Clark reached into his pocket, pulled out a small red box and dropped to one knee. He opened it, revealing a beautiful diamond solitaire ring. "Pamela Blake, will you marry me?"

Pam's eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped open. She gazed at the ring, speechless. Her hand shook as she raised it to her mouth. She tore her gaze from the ring and met Clark's eyes with hers. "Yes, Clark, I will marry you." And she held out her left hand.

Clark removed the ring from the box, and with a slightly shaky hand, he slipped it on the third finger of her left hand. He pulled her to him, enveloping her in his embrace.

They were lost in their kiss when they heard cheering coming from the other couple in the room.

Julie got up as quickly as she could and hurried over to Pam and hugged her tightly. Greg got up also and extended his hand to Clark who shook it then pulled him into a hug as well. They exchanged hugging partners with everyone basking in the beautiful moment. They sat down again and Greg was the first to speak.

"Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Clark. It was beautiful. Though I thought I might have had to defend my sister's honor if that kiss had gone on much longer!" Greg joked.

"Greg!" Julie said whapping him in the arm for his comment. "Leave it to you to ruin a beautiful moment! Men!" Though Clark saw she said that last with a smile. "Allow me to thank you as well, Clark. Pam is the sister I never had and I feel very privileged to have been here when you asked her to marry you."

"You're both very welcome. Besides, I didn't think she'd turn me down with witnesses in the room," Clark joked, one of his megawatt smiles lighting up the room.

Pam whapped Clark in the arm and looked at her sister-in-law, "You're right, Julie! Men!" Her bright smile took all malice from her words.

Clark smiled at his fiancé, held her hands and looked deep in to her sparkling blue eyes. He spoke now in a serious tone. "I love you Pam. I still can't believe I have been lucky enough to win your love. You were so patient with me and my hang-ups. You put up with more than most women would. I promise to do everything I can to make you happy for the rest of my life. Thank you for agreeing to be my wife."

Clark saw tears making their way down Pam's cheeks. She wiped them swiftly and kissed him lovingly. "I love you too, Clark. A long time ago I told myself that if I wanted you to love me I would have to be patient. I also knew that if I was successful I would have the man of my dreams, and now I do. I too will spend the rest of my life working to make you happy and I'm honored that you want me for your wife."

Clark heard the depth of feeling in Pam's words and felt humbled that a woman like her was going to be his wife. His heart was filled with his love for her and nothing would ever change that.

The balance of the afternoon was spent with the discussion of wedding plans. Pam asked her brother and Julie not to say anything, as they planned to call both of their parents that evening and they wanted them to know before anyone else. Greg and Julie agreed and the visit soon ended. Promising to visit again soon Pam and Clark left to make their calls.


Pam suggested that they go to Clark's place since his was closer. They got comfortable on the couch and Pam dialed her parent's number. She sat back and waited while Clark got them some coffee. Her mother's voice came on the line after a couple of rings.

"Hi, Mom!"

"Hello, dear!"

"Is Dad there with you? I have some good news that I want to share with you."

"Yes, your father is in his den. Let me get him on the line."

Seconds later Bill Blake joined the conversation.

"Hi, honey! It's good to hear from you! So, what is this good news you have to share?"

"Mom, Dad, Clark proposed and I accepted! We're going to be married!"

"That's wonderful!" Mary said. "I'm so happy for you dear!"

"Congratulations, darling. That is wonderful news!" Bill said. "Is Clark there with you? I'd like to talk to him if you don't mind?"

Pam smiled, "Sure, Dad, he's right here. Clark, my dad and mom would like to talk to you."

Clark took the phone from her hand. "Hello, Mary, Bill. I hope you're pleased with our news?"

"Pleased? We're delighted!" Mary said. "We want to congratulate you and welcome you to our family."

"Yes, Clark, we're very pleased," Bill said happily. "I know you'll be a wonderful husband to my daughter."

Clark smiled and he reached for her hand as he continued. "I plan to Bill. I plan to be the best husband any woman could want. I love your daughter very much. I'm so happy that she agreed to marry me."

"I know you will, Clark. We're so very happy for you both," Mary said. "Could you put Pam back on the line dear?"

"Sure, Mary, hold on please." Clark passed the phone back to Pam.

"I'm back Mom, isn't this wonderful?" Pam said, her happiness carrying through to her parents.

"It certainly is, dear. You've always said that the right man was out there but you just hadn't met him yet.

"I didn't think you'd remember that, Mom."

"There are some things a mother doesn't forget, dear."

"I guess, well I've found the man for me now. I'm so excited. I can't wait to show you my ring!"

"Oh, I wish I were there to see it! You two have to get out here soon. In the meantime maybe you could send me a picture!"

"That's a great idea, Mom. I'll send one out in a few days."

"I'll be looking for it. It looks like things are really working out for you. Clark's a wonderful man and I'm *so* happy for you both."

"Thank you, Mom, we *are* very happy and I'm glad you're happy for us. If you don't mind, I want to cut this short so we can call Martha and Jonathan, OK?"

"Of course, honey. We're glad you called. We'll talk to you when you have more time. Say hello to Martha and Jonathan for us!" Bill said.

"We will. Bye, Mom, bye, Dad." Pam ended the call and handed the phone to Clark.

He studied at the phone for a second then set it on the table. "What do you say to flying to Smallville and giving them the news in person? We don't have to stay long…"

Pam thought for a second. It was only six o'clock; they could spare an hour or so. "Sure, I think that would be nice. Let me get my jacket."

Minutes later they walked up to the back door of the Kent farmhouse. Clark knocked on the door then stuck his head in. "Mom, Dad, could we see you a minute?"

Martha and Jonathan walked into the kitchen, surprise showing on their faces.

"Clark, Pam, what a nice surprise! We weren't expecting you!" Martha hugged her son then moved on to hug Pam as well.

While Jonathan was shaking hands with his son, Pam explained the reason for their visit.

"We have good news for you and rather than call we thought we'd drop in for a few minutes."

Pam noticed a glance pass between husband and wife then when she had their attention again she held out her hand and said, "We're getting married!"

Martha nervously grasped Pam's hand and looked at the diamond ring that resided there. Pam's eyes met with Martha's and something wonderful passed between them in that gaze. What she could see was the love for her that Martha held in her eyes and on her face. She looked at Jonathan and saw something very similar to the look on Martha's face. Each of them had tears in their eyes, but love for her reflected on their faces.

"Oh this is so wonderful! When did this happen?" Martha said with tears spilling down her face.

Clark hugged his mother and said, "Just this afternoon, Mom. I proposed at Julie and Greg's. We called Mary and Bill then came directly here. I hope you don't mind that you're the last to know?"

"No, Clark. It doesn't matter who is first or last. We're all family, what is important is the news itself. I'm so happy that you've found a woman to share your life with!" Jonathan said as he hugged his son.

"So am I Dad. I'm a lucky man to have found her." Pam felt Clark's arm go around her shoulder and draw her into his body. It felt so good to be there. She loved to be held in his arms like this and now she'd be able to enjoy it for the rest of her life.

Martha placed her hand on Clark's arm and looked into his eyes. "You've both made us so happy today. We couldn't ask for better news. Sit down everyone. I've got an apple pie in the refrigerator and a fresh pot of coffee right here. Let's have a snack and talk."

For the next half hour the two couples ate, drank and talked. Martha and Jonathan took turns gazing lovingly at each other and their children. When the pie and coffee were finished Pam and Clark stood up to leave.

"Thanks for the pie and coffee Martha, it was delicious as always," Pam said. She hugged Martha then moved to Jonathan and hugged him as well.

Clark kissed his mother on the cheek and shook hands with his father. "Thanks for everything Mom, Dad. We've got to head back to Chicago, but we'll be here for dinner on Friday as we planned. We can talk more then."

"You're welcome, son, and we'll look forward to Friday night!" Jonathan said.

Moments later, Clark and Pam were in the air and heading to Chicago.


Landing on Clark's balcony Pam slid out of his grasp and pulled him into a smoldering kiss. Clark's response was immediate and he hugged her tighter, pressing his body against hers. He maneuvered her to the bed and eased her down, resting gently on top of her. The kiss continued, their hands roaming over each other until Pam pulled back, breathless, looking into Clark's eyes.

"What was that all about, honey?" Clark said, breathlessly. "Not that I'm complaining."

"Nothing, sweetie, I'm just kissing my fiancé," she smiled sexily. "I haven't had a chance to really show you how much I love you since you proposed."

"Wow, if that's how much you show you love me now that we're engaged we'd better get married quick. I don't think I could take too many more of those kinds of kisses without wanting to do more!"

"I know just how you feel, Clark." She ducked her head and kissed his throat, nipping the skin as she did so.

"Hey, cut that out! I'm only human you know!"

She kissed up to his ear and nibbled the lob before pulling back to look into his eyes.

"Believe me, I can feel just how human you are!" she said blushing hotly.

He dipped his head, capturing her lips again, pulling her lower lip between his teeth before thrusting his tongue into her mouth causing a whimper to rise in her throat. As much fun as this was she knew they needed to cool things down so she slowly released her grip on Clark's shoulders and brought them around to his chest, gently pressing against him.

"I'm sorry, honey, but we really need to slow down," Pam said her breathing coming in heated gasps. "I'm enjoying this way too much and I don't want to lose control. How about we move this to the living room?"

"Sure, hon," he said gasping for breath himself. "Not losing control sounds… good." He stood up, extending his hand to help her off the bed. She stood carefully, taking some time to allow her legs to gather some strength so she wouldn't collapse in his arms.

He gazed into her eyes and laid a kiss on the tip of her nose. "How about I make some tea? I could use a hot drink."

"Tea sounds wonderful," she said as he headed to the kitchen while she seated herself on his couch. "Clark, considering what just happened in the bedroom I want to get married as soon as we can. How does that sound to you?"

"I agree," he called out, returning with two steaming mugs of tea in his hands. "Now that we've decided to get married I'm getting impatient. How soon do you think we can get arrangements together?"

"I don't know," she said sipping her tea. "We don't even know *where* we want to get married."

"It doesn't matter to me, honey," he said settling down next to her, putting his arm around her shoulders. "Wherever you want is fine with me."

She gazed into her mug, thinking about where she'd like to get married. "How do you feel about Smallville?" she said tentatively.

"Are you sure? I'd love it, of course, but what about your parents, how do you think it would go over with them?"

"I think they'd love it. They're always saying they'd like to visit Martha and Jonathan, I think dad misses the Midwest and I know mom wouldn't mind. I want to get married where you grew up, Clark. I've fallen in love with Smallville and I can't think of a better place to begin our new life together."

"You don't have to convince me, you know," Clark said, laying a kiss on her forehead then sliding down to give her a peck on the nose as well. "Why don't you talk this over with your parents and see how they feel about it?"

"I will," she smiled, nibbling his ear as well. "I'll call them tomorrow night, after work." Grabbing his mug and setting both of them on the table in front of her she climbed into Clark's lap losing herself in his kisses.


The ringing of the phone was the first thing Mary Blake heard as she entered her kitchen. She set her groceries on the counter and picked up the phone.


"Hi, Mom, how are you?"

"I'm good, I just got home from groceries. You should see what they're charging for lettuce these days! To what do I owe the pleasure of this call, dear?"

"Can't I call my mother just to hear her lovely voice?" Pam said with a slight pout in her voice.

"Of course you can, dear. You usually don't call on a Monday. We just spoke yesterday after all."

"I know, Mom, but I needed to talk to you. Do you have time for a chat?"

"Sure, your dad won't be home for a while and I can get dinner started while we talk. What's on your mind?"

"Clark and I want to get married as soon as we can and I wanted to talk to you about some details."

"In a rush are you? I can understand that. I couldn't wait for my wedding day once your father asked me. Do you have anything specific you wanted to discuss?"

"Yeah," she said, hoping her mother would react the way she'd envisioned. "How would you feel if I said I wanted to get married in Smallville?"

Mary paused, surprised at her daughter's suggestion. "Smallville? You don't want to get married in our church here?"

"No, Mom, it's not that. I love our church. I don't know how to explain it, exactly, but I've fallen in love with Smallville and I want to marry there. I know how much you and dad have wanted to visit Martha and Jonathan and how much you both miss the Midwest. It's kind of centrally located for people coming from either coast as well. What do you think?"

"I think if Smallville is where you want to get married then that's where you should get married! It's your wedding and you should have it your way. All I've ever wanted was for my baby girl to marry a man who would love her as much as she loved him. I know you've found that man, so everything else is just details."

"Thank you, Mom. I was pretty sure you would feel that way. OK, how quickly do you think we can put a wedding together?"

"Have you talked to Martha yet?"

"No, I wanted to talk to you first. I wanted your opinion on Smallville. I didn't want to say anything otherwise."

"I can understand that, dear. We really need the three of us to put our heads together. Boy I wish we could all be on at the same time."

"We can, Mom!" Pam said excitedly. "I've got three-way calling. I can just conference Martha in. Do you want to do that now?"

"How about we do this after I feed your father? He'll be home by five and we'll be done by six. How about we get together at 6:30?"

"Great, I'll call Martha and let her know. If there are any changes to the plan I'll call you right back."

"OK, dear, that'll be fine. Don't worry, we'll get you married so quickly your head will spin!" she laughed.

"It's already spinning, Mom, I don't know what I'll do if it gets worse!"

"Call Martha, now, dear. I'll talk to you later."

"Bye, Mom, later!"


Pam dialed the phone and waited for her mother to pick up.


"Hi, Mom, hold on while I get Martha on the line."

"OK, dear."

Pam put her mother on hold and dialed Martha.


"Martha? Hold on while I get my mom back."

Pam pressed the button necessary buttons to get everyone connected.

"Is everyone here?" Pam said.

"Yes," Mary said.

"Yes!" Martha replied.

"Great, we're all set then. Mom, Martha, Clark and I would like your help. We want to get married as quickly as possible but we don't have a good feel on how long it would take to put things together. We want a simple wedding, just close friends and family. We'd also like a simple reception, maybe a buffet style meal. What do you think?"

Martha paused, before she responded. "I think what you are suggesting sounds very nice. Have you decided where you want to get married?"

Pam continued. "We've talked about it and if you don't think it would be too much of an imposition we'd like to get married in Smallville. Mom and I have already talked and she supports our decision."

"That would be wonderful! We could hold the service and the reception here. If we put up a tent in the back yard we could have the reception there and if it rains, God forbid, we could hold the service there as well otherwise the service could be in the side yard. I can get the women's auxiliary from the church to help with the details. We did that for Joe Belmont's boy last year." Martha paused again. "It would be a bit of work, but I think we could put things together in about two months."

"Two months!" Pam said. "Are you sure you can do everything in that short a time?"

"Yes, Martha, are you sure?" Mary said. "I hate to impose on you like this. I only wish I could be there to help."

"Don't worry, Mary," Martha said. "I'll be calling you a lot over the next few weeks for advice and guidance on what Pam might like. I'll also be putting you to work as soon as you step off the plane that weekend. You won't be getting off easy!"

"Thanks, Martha! I was feeling bad for asking you to do all of this, considering she's my daughter," Mary said. "Bill and I will be paying for the wedding so you make sure you call me as soon as the bills start coming in. Do you think you'll need some money for reservations and things?"

"I don't think so, but if something changes I'll be sure to let you know. Now for the exact date, let me get my calendar." There was a short pause and soon Martha was back on the line. "Let's see. May 17th should give us enough time, is that soon enough?"

"That sounds great, Martha! Are you *sure* this isn't too much work for you?" Pam asked again.

"It will be a lot of work, no doubt, but for you and Clark we'll gladly do it. Besides, I won't be doing this alone, I'll be enlisting Jonathan's help too," she chuckled.

"Martha, you don't know how happy that makes me! I think now we need decide on whom to invite so we can get invitations out. Two months doesn't leave people much time to arrange flights. Mom, can you help out coordinating arrangements?" Pam asked, excitedly.

"Sure," Mary said. "How about we start on that now?"

The rest of the evening was spent listing all the friends and family and gathering the relevant addresses. Clark was assigned the job of getting the invitations addressed and mailed since he could write them in a matter of seconds, even though Pam couldn't let Mary know that. Preparations made, as far as could be, the three called it an evening but not before Mary and Martha exchanged numbers. The three women went to bed with visions of the perfect wedding playing in their minds.


A week after they set the date for the wedding, Pam and Clark were sitting on her couch after enjoying a quick meal that she had prepared. Clark pulled Pam onto his lap and they started to kiss. Seconds later their passion escalated and their hands roamed over each other. Pam slipped her hand into Clark's shirt to get better contact with the skin of his chest. Clark moaned in the back of his throat and nibbled on Pam's neck. While she was enjoying this *very* much Pam knew there was something she needed to tell Clark.

She pulled her hand from his shirt and gently pressed against his chest. "Clark, honey, there's something I need to tell you."

Clark pulled back from her neck and gazed into her eyes. "What is it honey? Is anything wrong?"

"Not wrong, no. While I love what we've been doing, I think we need to talk about what happens next." Pam paused and looked deep into Clark's eyes trying to gauge his reaction. He was waiting patiently and his expression told her he wasn't upset with her for stopping them. Gathering her thoughts and continued. "Honey, I have to tell you that while I have dated since high school, I've been very careful in whom I dated. I've always had a very strong feeling that there was one man for me and I'd know him when I met him.

"Because of that feeling I've not had a steady boyfriend for very long. I never wanted to lead someone on when the feeling just wasn't there." She stopped and looked down at her hands that rested in her lap. What surprised her was that her hands were shaking. This was very hard for her to say and she hoped Clark would understand her reasoning. "Anyway, while I have had a certain level of experience with men I haven't been completely intimate with one. What I'm trying to say, Clark, is… I'm a virgin."

She kept her eyes down for what seemed like hours but was only seconds. The next thing she knew she felt Clark's hand on her chin gently lifting her head so that she was looking into his chocolate brown eyes. She hadn't known what to expect but what she saw made her heart leap in her chest. Clark was smiling, one of his megawatt smiles that always lit up a room. The love she saw there made her relax and she put her hand on his wrist, stroking his arm lovingly. She pulled back slightly and kissed his palm. When she looked back into his eyes she grasped his other hand and held it tightly.

"Pam, honey, I understand completely. I feel very much like you do. During my high school years and my world travels I met some very beautiful women who were attracted to me and the feeling was mutual. The problem was that no matter who the woman was, there always seemed to be something missing. We would make out, of course, as I'm sure you did, and sometimes things went pretty far, but I never felt like I could commit myself totally to any of these women so I would end the relationship.

"Because of my uniqueness I felt that before I could be totally intimate with a woman I had to tell her about myself and there was never anyone I wanted to confide in. What I'm trying to say is I'm a virgin too." Clark then leaned in for a kiss.

Pam responded to his kiss and deepened it. They stayed this way for several minutes kissing and hugging but this time their passion remained in check. Pam pulled back and held Clark's hands. "Darling, I know we love each other and I very much want to be intimate but I want to wait until the honeymoon to make love for the first time. I've promised myself that I'd not have intercourse outside of marriage and I really want to keep that promise. I've dreamed of my wedding night since I was a little girl and I want it to be special. Is that all right?"

"It is more than all right. I plan to make our wedding night as special as I can for you and that will make it special for me." Clark leaned forward and pulled her into his arms again.

Pam rested her head on his chest, absorbing the warmth from his body and the warmth of his love due to their closeness. She sighed and said, "Thanks for understanding honey, though I don't know why I was worried. You're so understanding. I should have known that no matter what I asked, if it was in your power to grant, you would do it gladly. That knowledge makes me love you even more. I *promise* you won't regret waiting."

"If you are serious about waiting, you had better not use that tone of voice or I can't be held responsible for my actions!" Clark wiggled his eyebrows and she giggled.

"Down, boy! You promised, now don't be going back on your word already!" she said with a laugh and she pushed him back gently.

"Don't worry, honey, you're worth the wait. I'm just glad we're getting married in a few weeks. I may be Superman but waiting to make love to you would be something I wouldn't want to do for long."

Pam got off Clark's lap and settled on the sofa next to him. She held his hand and continued. "I'm *not* Superman and I'm having a hard enough time keeping my hands of you so I think we should cool things off a bit. There is one other thing I'd like to discuss, though."

Clark looked concerned. "What is it, honey?"

"There's nothing wrong Clark. There is something I'd like to ask your opinion on, that's all."

Clark looked relieved. "Go ahead, ask away."

"I've been thinking. You know my family reasonably well. What do you think of them?" she asked carefully.

Clark paused for a moment before he answered. "You know I really like Greg and Julie, they are wonderful people and a lot of fun to be with. I also like your mom and dad. I respect them and while I don't know them as well as your brother and Julie I like them very much. Is that what you want to know? Did you think I didn't like your family?"

"No, Clark, that's not what I meant. I'm sorry; I'm not explaining this very well. Let me try again. Do you think my family is trustworthy?"

Again Clark took a few moments before answering. "I believe so. I'm sure they are. I can see the love your family has for each other and I don't believe they would do anything to hurt anyone, especially not a member of the family. I'm sorry, honey, but I still don't see where this is going."

Pam took a deep breath to calm her nerves. She knew this was going to be very difficult and a delicate subject to broach. "Clark, I hope you don't think I'm out of line here but… could we discuss telling my family about you?" There, she'd said it. She hoped he would understand. She loved her family and now that Clark was going to be a part of it she wanted to share everything with them. She just hoped he would agree.

Clark seemed stunned. He sat back and looked to be deep in thought. Minutes passed and Pam started to worry that their first fight might be in the offing. Rather than go on offense and try to bully him into this she wanted him to come around to see her point of view. She wanted to discuss this calmly and rationally and come to a decision they could both live with. She also knew she'd have to be willing to compromise; this couldn't be all her way since it was his secret but she also wanted to share this with her family. They had always been her support system and she found herself missing that support when it came to Clark. While she loved Martha and Jonathan, she didn't know how she'd confide in them when the subject was personal and involved their son. She sat back on the couch and waited.


"Clark, I hope you don't think I'm out of line here but… could we discuss telling my family about you?"

Of all the things he thought she might want to discuss, this one never crossed his mind. His first instinct was to tell her no and chide her for even thinking about wanting to tell anyone else. His secret was a great responsibility, a huge weight to place on a person. He'd always tried to protect the people around him from that responsibility. Keeping everything to himself protecting, rather than endangering, the innocent lives around him was like second nature. He'd shared this secret with Pam but mainly because she figured it out herself. Of course he would have told her, if she hadn't already known when he decided to propose but did that mean he wanted to include her family?

Pam was very close to her parents and brother, probably as close as he was to his parents. He knew she talked to her mother and father two or three times a week, if only for a few minutes, and she really enjoyed that contact. She saw her brother at least once a week, most times with him joining in. She'd also visit them alone when he was busy with his Superman duties.

She had women friends outside of work, but these people weren't her main support system. He looked at her and saw that she was waiting patiently for his answer but she also seemed to be uncomfortable as his silence lengthened. He thought she might be regretting asking him to consider this. While he wasn't convinced he wanted to tell her family, he also didn't want her to fear asking him anything. The time for thinking had passed and it was now time to talk.

"Please relax honey, I'm not upset. I'm just stunned. This was not what I expected at all. I'm glad you trust me enough to ask though. While I may not always like a subject I want you to feel free to ask me anything. I love you and I want to be as open I can with you, as I know you will be with me." Clark smiled, trying to ease Pam's mind.

"I'm sorry I surprised you Clark. I've been thinking about this for a long time. Ever since I guessed your secret I've wanted to talk to someone about this. I have talked to your mom, and she is a big help, but there are things I don't feel comfortable telling your mother. I hope you understand. I've had to deal with those kinds of issues myself and while I have, I've really missed being able to ask my mom or dad things." She dropped her head and sighed.

"The other night for example, when you proposed, we called my parents to tell them but we visited your mom and dad because we could. I loved being able to share that information with them in person and telling mom and dad over the phone just isn't the same."

Clark sighed as well and ran his hand through his hair. "I understand, I really do, but this secret is a great burden. It is a dangerous secret. If it were known that I'm Superman everyone I'm close to would be in danger. One thing I was very careful to change once I moved here was to avoid associating Superman with any one news organization. It became known to everyone that the Daily Planet, and Lois Lane in particular, were friends of Superman. This knowledge worked to draw criminals like a magnet. I didn't want that to happen again so I have gone to great lengths not to do the same as I did in Metropolis. I also try harder to project a more aloof demeanor now."

"I've noticed that. There was a lot of speculation about that when you left Metropolis. I remember commentators talking about how you had changed so much. There were many theories; some even suggested that Superman had suffered a broken heart…" Pam trailed off.

"Don't be sad, honey. I'm over that now. I hadn't heard that one but I was avoiding the news back then so I'm not surprised. But you see what I mean? It was known, or highly suspected, that Superman had people he loved. I want to tell you that knowledge caused me a lot of sleepless nights. Some of those sleepless nights were the result of my old partner though. She seemed to draw trouble without trying and her being associated closely with Superman didn't help the situation.

"Personally, I'm very glad you don't draw that kind of attention. I'd never tell you what you could or could not do but I am so glad that you don't have a reckless streak. It makes my life a whole lot easier," he grinned lovingly at her and stroked her arm.

"I know you wouldn't Clark, not that I'd let you even if you did. I've always been careful. I weigh the risks against the rewards in making decisions. I don't like to leave my boss wondering where I am if I'm investigating a story. It's just not fair to him and it is not good for me either. Look Clark, I understand where you are coming from regarding news organizations and Superman and I agree that is a great idea. However, I think that your actions have made it easier for us to share your secret rather than harder."

"How do you mean?"

"You've said it yourself. Superman is very aloof now. He doesn't make 'friends' and he doesn't maintain contact with any of his old friends for all intents and purposes since the Daily Planet no longer exists. I'm marrying my coworker, Clark Kent, who used to be associated with Superman, but for the last two plus years hasn't maintained that closeness. You don't get many Superman exclusives, no more than anyone else on our paper. The criminal element hasn't targeted anyone from the Tribune since you moved here and I don't see that changing, do you?"

He thought for a second then replied, "No, I don't. I see your point but I'm still not sure. Would you mind if I slept on this for a while? I'd like to ask my mom and dad their opinion. This is their secret, too."

"That's a great idea. I'd love to have their input. I want this to work for all of us and if you and your parents aren't comfortable then it's not going to happen. How about we talk to them this weekend, we're going there for dinner Friday anyway. This way you have a couple of days to think about it before we see Martha and Jonathan."

"I appreciate your understanding, honey, and I promise I'll think about this very carefully and consider your needs when I do," Clark said sincerely.

"That's all I'm asking, Clark. I love you and I want what's best for you and if that means we don't tell my family then so be it. I think there could be positive benefits for you as well as me if they were told but I'll accept whatever decision we all come to."

"I think I'll call and mention it to my parents before Friday. We'll have a more productive discussion if we don't surprise them."

"I agree. I think surprising them would be disrespectful. I want them to have an informed opinion rather than reacting emotionally. Why don't you call them tomorrow when you get home?"

"I will, and thanks. I think I'll head out now. I'm patrolling Metropolis tonight. Goodnight sweetheart, I'll see you in the morning." Clark kissed her goodbye, spun into his suit and sped out her living room window to begin his patrol.


That Friday evening the talk around the dinner table was very different from usual. They still chatted about what each had been doing since the last visit, but everyone ignored the elephant in the room. Jonathan seemed very concerned as he was quieter than usual. The Kents had met Pam's parents when they had visited Chicago soon after Clark had proposed. Martha and Jonathan had taken to Mary and Bill immediately. Both couples came from small town backgrounds. Living in the city hadn't changed them one bit. It wasn't long before the four older people were talking as if they had known each other for years. The meal completed and the dishes done they retired to the living room.

"Clark, are you sure about this? I like Bill and Mary very much. Greg and Julie seem to be very fine people as well. But I don't know whether that means we should tell them about you."

"I know, Dad, and I'm not totally convinced myself though I am less worried than I was when Pam first mentioned it. I can see her point of view, that's why we wanted both your opinions. You and mom are equal partners in this secret and it wouldn't be fair for me to make this decision alone."

For a few moments no one said anything as everyone appeared to be gathering their thoughts. Martha decided to take the opportunity to voice her opinion.

"I understand, Clark," she said patting Jonathan's hand. "And I thank you for including us. However I'm leaning toward Pam's point of view."

Both Clark and Jonathan looked at Martha with surprise. He saw that Pam was looking at his mother with gratitude in her eyes.

"Could you explain what you mean, Mom?"

"Of course, dear. Being a woman I understand the need to confide in another family member, usually your mother, in times of need or stress. As much as I love Jonathan, there are times when I need a woman's input to balance the men in my life. Pam and I have talked privately a few times and these have been some of my most cherished moments. For almost thirty years, I haven't been able to talk to another woman about my boy. I sometimes wish I had a better relationship with my mother so that I could have confided in her, but that wasn't possible. I also understand that in the course of a marriage a woman might not feel comfortable talking to her mother- in-law about certain subjects. It is times like these that there is no substitute for her mother.

"I would assume that Pam might also feel she's being shortchanged in some respects with regard to you and her family. You two come here for dinner just about every Friday and we love to see you, but to do the same thing with Bill and Mary you need to schedule a long weekend off from work, get plane tickets and everything that goes with that. She can't just suggest that you drop everything and go to L.A. for dinner with her parents."

Clark saw the love in his mother's eyes as she looked across the room at Pam. He'd heard much the same reasons before and now he'd heard them from his mother. He picked up his coffee, took a sip, then set the cup back on the table as his mother continued.

"When we met Mary and Bill I watched her interact with her children and with you, Clark. I saw a woman who loves her children more than life itself. We talked for quite a while and we seemed to bond on a level I didn't really expect. I know you and Jonathan are concerned about sharing this secret, as am I, but I feel that Mary and Bill, and by extension Greg and Julie, are trustworthy people. Pam is very close to her family and I think that keeping this from them could hurt that relationship if it became known later. No one can say what will happen in the future. We can say now that there will never be a circumstance that would make us tell Mary and Bill but we could be forced to change our minds tomorrow. I feel we should start the joining of our families on the right foot. I think we should tell them."

His mother grasped his dad's hand and squeeze gently. He could see his father squeeze back and Jonathan's face relaxed a bit, thinking about what his wife had just said. Clark turned toward Pam as she began to speak.

"Thanks for understanding, Martha. I love our talks. It has been wonderful to have someone beside Clark to confide in and to bounce questions off of. I'm sorry to hear about your relationship with your mother. I don't know what I'd do without the support of my mom, dad and brother. They are as close to me as Clark is and I do want to share this with them. I appreciate your support, but no matter what we decide here tonight I'll always be grateful for the opportunity to discuss this in a calm, open manner." Pam picked up her coffee and sat back to drink.

Jonathan had been deep in thought throughout Pam's speech and silence fell over the gathering as each member mulled over the decision to be made. After taking another sip of his coffee Jonathan set his cup down. He sat forward in his chair and with his arms on his knees addressed Pam.

"For years we've kept this secret to protect our boy and allow him to have a normal life. When we first found him we were afraid he'd be taken away because of how he arrived, in that spaceship of his. As he grew older and his powers started developing we thought if people knew what he could do they'd take him from us and experiment on him. When he became Superman I was initially against it. I didn't think people would accept him and some didn't. That Jason Trask fella comes to mind. Bottom line is, we love our son and want to protect him." Jonathan paused and Clark caught his father's eyes. He smiled at him, letting him know that he appreciated everything he and his mother had done for him.

"Clark, how do you feel about this, I haven't heard from you yet?" Jonathan asked.

"Dad, I know how you feel. I was originally against widening the circle of those who know about me. Pam explained her feelings very well and that caused me to consider things from a different viewpoint. I have my mom and dad to talk to and to confide in. I have Pam, who I'll always cherish. Bringing Pam into our family is great but if we don't consider telling her family we isolate a large part of her life from the people she loves the most. I like Pam's family very much. They are good people, people who deserve our respect. As much as it goes against my instincts to some extent…I think we should do it." Clark looked to his mother and saw her smiling sweetly at him. He turned back to his dad, hoping that he'd understand how much this meant to him and his wife-to-be.

"Thanks son, I appreciate your honesty. It looks like I'm the holdout—"

"No, Dad! That's not it at all." Clark reached over and grasped Pam's hand. He looked into her eyes for the support he knew he'd find there. He turned back to his dad and continued. "I don't see you as a hold out. Your opinion is as valid as any of ours; we're all equal partners here. Pam and I respect your objections and we want to help you overcome them. If you really feel that telling the Blakes is a bad thing to do then we won't do it. We want everyone to agree that taking them into our confidence is the right thing to do.

"I respect Pam's family. I think there could be a lot of good to come out of this. You know how much I hate to lie to people, especially people I like and respect. Sometimes I have to, like at work, or with friends that don't have a strict need to know. However we are talking family here. They may not be our blood relatives, but they will be my family too. They are important to the woman I love. I want to start this marriage off on the best foot I can. Telling them about me will show them I respect them and trust them. They wouldn't do anything to hurt Pam. They love her too much, almost as much as I do." Clark paused and squeezed Pam's hand lightly, waiting for his father to respond.

"I'm sorry, son. I didn't mean to say holdout. It was a poor choice of words. I respect your opinion and you mother's as well. Pam, you present an excellent case… and I agree. We should tell your family about Clark. We'll leave when and how to do it up to you," he said sitting back and smiling at his son and his new daughter.

Clark and Pam's eyes met and silent communication passed between them. Pam stood and walked over to Jonathan.

"Thanks for understanding, Jonathan, you won't regret this." She leaned down and kissed him on the cheek and hugged him tightly.

"I know I won't, dear," he said hugging her back. "Thank you for considering a stubborn old man's feelings."


May 15, 1997:

Martha Kent was running late. She should have been to Maisie's by now. It was a good thing that Pam and Clark had volunteered to pick up her parents, her brother and his wife. Jonathan and the other men should have the tent up by now and be on their way to the church to get the tables and chairs.

Thankfully everyone was coming in today and not waiting until Friday. She was going to need all the help she could get tomorrow and having all those hands was going to make light work of it. Pulling up in front of the diner Martha put the truck in park and headed in to get the cake.

"Hi, Maisie! Is the cake ready? I'm running behind and I've still got two more stops to make."

"It's all ready, Martha. You sure you don't have time for a quick cup of coffee?"

"I'd love to but no, I have to stop by the hardware store and the ladies auxiliary hall yet and supper isn't even started. I'm hoping Clark gets home before I do because I know he'll get supper started for me."

Maisie set the large cake box on the counter and opened it to show Martha. "Didn't it turn out lovely, Martha?"

"Oh, it's beautiful! You always make the best cakes, Maisie. Thank you for doing this. Are you sure I can't pay you?"

"No, this is part of my gift to Clark and his girl. Clark's always been one of my favorite people and providing the wedding cake is the least I can do. He sure does have great taste in women. Pam is a beautiful girl, and so down to earth."

"I know, I love her like she was my own daughter. I'm very blessed that she's going to be part of our family now. But I need to get going so that frosting won't melt."

"It won't, it's not too warm today. You should have plenty of time to make your other stops. I'll see you Saturday then!"

"We'll be looking for you, make sure to bring your dancing shoes!" And with that she left the diner to complete the balance of her errands.


Supper at the Kent house that evening was a crowded but happy affair. The upcoming wedding was the hot topic of discussion but the four couples also spent a good portion of the time catching up on their lives since the last time they had all been together.

After dinner the ladies did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen while the men returned to the tent to complete the setting up of the tables and chairs. Finishing before the guys, the women decided to rest a bit in the living room before serving dessert and coffee.

"So Martha," Pam said, "what wonderful concoction do you have for dessert tonight?"

"Nothing special, dear, just some homemade brownies."

"Brownies!" Pam said, "Martha, how did you know I *love* brownies?"

A sly smile spread across Martha's face. "I don't know, maybe a little bird told me."

"I'll bet. It was probably that six-foot, 200 pound hunk out there that told you!"

"He might have mentioned it in passing one time," Martha chuckled.

"You're not the only one who likes brownies, Pam," Mary said. "Julie and I plan to eat our fair share, too!"

"That's right. Remember, I'm eating for two!" Julie giggled and patted her tummy.

"Don't worry, little mother-to-be," Pam said, "I'll make sure you get your share. I don't want my nephew or niece born under weight."

Julie groaned a bit at that. "Don't worry, he or she won't be. My doctor says my pregnancy is right on schedule. He thinks the baby is going to weigh between 7 and 8 pounds."

"That's going to be a nice size baby," Martha said.

Pam heard the men coming in the back door. "The guys are done setting up, Martha. Let me help you with the coffee."

"Thanks Pam, could you get the milk and sugar while I get the coffee? I'll have Clark bring in the plates and the brownies."

Pam walked to the refrigerator, grabbed the milk and then picked up the sugar from the table and, before heading back to the living room, she kissed her fiancé on the cheek.

"Clark?" Martha asked, getting her son's attention. "Could you bring the brownies and plates in after you wash up?"

"Sure thing, Mom!"

Minutes later everyone was seated in the living room with coffee and dessert. Soon all the brownies were gone and second cups of coffee had been poured.

Pam glanced over at Clark to catch his attention. "Honey, could you help me with something upstairs?"

"Sure Pam, just let me put my cup in the sink."

Pam led the way upstairs and into Clark's old bedroom.

"What did you need my help with, honey?"

"With this," Pam said and she wound her arms around Clark's neck and gave him a kiss that had his knees buckling.

"I'll help you with this any time, sweetheart! But I don't think we have much time?"

"No, we don't. Actually that wasn't what I wanted, but it was fun! I was thinking we could tell my family about you tonight. What do you think?"

"I hadn't thought about it, but you have a point. There isn't a much better time than this. How do you want to do it?"

"Since this is my family we're telling, I feel I should break the news. I want you to feel free to fill in the blanks as needed. I hope Martha and Jonathan will help as well."

"You now they will, sweetheart." Clark said, "I'll be right beside you the whole way. I love you very much."

"I love you too, honey. Well, shall we?"

Pam took Clark's hand in hers and they made their way back to the living room.

They returned to their seats and rejoined the conversation. Pam's hands were sweating and her knees were trembling slightly as well. Rather than wait any longer she screwed up her courage and called for everyone's attention.

"Everyone?" Pam said nervously, "I, well Clark and I, have an announcement to make." Pam glanced at her fiancé and drew strength from his smile.

A hush fell over the assemblage and concerned looks passed between the members of the Blake family.

"You're not pregnant are you, Pam?" Mary asked softly.

"Mother! No, I'm not pregnant!"

"Thank God, not that pregnancy is a bad thing, but I had hoped you would wait until you got married."

"Mom, please, if you'll wait a second I'll tell you what you want to know."

"You're right, dear," Bill said, "please continue."

"Thank you, Daddy." Pam took a deep breath to calm her nerves and squeezed Clark's hand.

"You know that we love you all very much, right? Well there is something we want to share with you. It is a big part of Clark's life and mine as well—"

"If you're talking about Clark being adopted, we know that," Greg said.

"Please!" she glared at her brother, silencing him. "This is hard enough for me, us, without you interrupting!" Pam turned to Clark who took her in his arms and gave her a comforting hug.

"We're sorry," Julie said, "but you've got us very curious. If you're not pregnant and it's not about Clark being adopted, what could be so important?"

Pam sighed heavily and looked at her family in turn, trying to get them to have some patience.

"What we want to share with you, because we love and respect you, is a secret. It is one of the greatest secrets in the world. No matter what else happens here today, you can not tell anyone what we are about to tell you."

"Now you *are* scaring us, Pam," Bill said. "What secret could a couple of reporters have that would warrant all this?"

"Bill, please, give us a chance," Clark said. "Honey, maybe I should take over."

Pam felt both relieved and upset. She obviously wasn't handling this well at all. She'd wanted to do this but maybe it would be better if Clark continued, after all, he'd been dealing with this secret longer that she had.

"Thanks, sweetheart, I appreciate it." Pam sat back in her chair and rubbed Clark's back while he gathered his thoughts.

"Pam is correct. This secret is one that absolutely must not leave this room. I don't want to scare you unduly but it is very important that no one else finds out about me.

"Clark!" Bill interrupted, "Could you please just get on with it? We're losing our patience here. No matter what you have to tell us it can't be as bad as you are making it out to be."

"I'm sorry, Bill, but this is very important. It could affect the lives of everyone in this room."

"Oh my God, Clark, you haven't killed anyone, have you?" Mary gasped.

"Mom, please! Let Clark finish. Honey, maybe you should just tell them. All this preparation doesn't seem to be helping."

"You're right. OK, here goes… I'm Superman."

The expressions on the faces of the Blake clan changed quickly from shock to disbelief in a matter of seconds.


"You're kidding!"

"How could you say something like that?"

"No way!"

Bill quickly took the lead and confronted Clark.

"Very funny, Clark," he laughed, "Ok, you've made your point. What's the secret?"

At this point Clark spoke up. "Bill, everyone, I assure you, this is no joke. Pam and I love and respect you and your feelings. Besides, we wouldn't joke about something like this."

"No, Daddy, we wouldn't. Why won't you believe us?"

"Come on, Pam. Clark is Superman?" Bill said incredulously, "How ridiculous can you be?"

Jonathan joined in. "Bill, she's telling you the truth."

"Not you too, Jonathan?" Mary said with a chuckle "How can you say something like that with a straight face? I mean, come on, Clark's a well built young man, but Superman, no way!"

Turning to her son Martha said quietly, "Clark, maybe you need to show them?"

Clark shook his head slowly, stood up straight and rose to the ceiling where he lay looking down at the assembled group.

"Oh my God, he is Superman!" Bill said, falling back into his chair.

"Daddy, are you all right?" Pam was out of her chair kneeling in front of her father holding his hand. "Daddy! Please, speak to me! Clark, get down here, I think you've proved your point."

Clark floated down to stand beside his fiancé then moved quickly to the kitchen for a glass of water. Returning he handed the glass to Pam who had her father take a few sips.

"Are you feeling better, Daddy?" Pam said nervously. "Say something, please?"

"I don't know what to say." Bill leaned back in the chair still stunned from the revelation that his future son-in-law was the Man of Steel. "You've obviously had a long time to get used to this. It's a lot to take in, you know?"

"I know, Daddy, I know. I'm sorry it happened like this. I really thought telling you would go differently. I guess you never know, do you?"

"Yes, Bill, we're sorry," Clark said. "We want you to know because Pam is very close to you all and this secret was something she wanted to share with you."

"How long *have* you known, Pam?" Mary asked.

"Almost two years, Mom."

"Two years! You've kept this secret for two years? Why didn't you tell us before this? Why wait until two days before the wedding?" Greg said.

"Firstly, the fewer people who know, the better. You have to understand that. Before we started dating and got engaged there was no reason to tell you." Pam said. "Clark was a good friend and coworker, that's all. Once we got serious, which was only a few months ago, I started to think about whether we should tell you or not.

"Even so, I wouldn't tell you if all we did was have a few dates. If our relationship had stayed as friends only I would never have told you. Clark had very close friends in Metropolis that he's never told. While I would have been frustrated at not being able to talk about Clark fully I would have done so, because I respect his need for secrecy.

"However, once he proposed I felt very strongly that I wanted to tell you everything. Martha, Jonathan and Clark agreed and here we are. I know this is a lot to accept at once, but please, understand we love you all very much and we trust you to keep our secret."

Pam grew quiet at this point and stepped into Clark's arms. She felt so safe and loved there and she never wanted to leave.

Bill stood and extended his hand to Clark, which Clark took gratefully. "While I believe I speak for the whole family in saying we're still in shock, we also appreciate the great trust you've shown in us. We'll never tell anyone, rest assured."

"We know you wouldn't Bill, but thanks for the reassurance." Clark said as he released Bill's hand and he and Pam headed back to their seats.

"I know you probably have a lot of questions but, if you would indulge me I'll tell you about myself then you can ask any questions you may have. Is that all right?"

A chorus of yeses rang out and Clark spent the next half hour telling his new family members all about himself. While Clark was talking Martha and Pam passed out more coffee, decaf this time, as it was late and then they retired to the kitchen to chat.

"That went well, didn't it?" Pam said sarcastically.

"It sure didn't go as planned, did it, dear?"

"Not at all, Martha. I really thought they'd be more receptive and understanding. They actually thought we were playing a joke on them and that you and Jonathan were in on it!"

"I know dear, but this has been a big shock to them. Clark is, for all intents and purposes, a normal guy. No one would think a reporter from Kansas would be Superman. He's Clark with special abilities, that's all. He's further separated himself from Superman since he's moved to Chicago as well. Superman has changed, he's more aloof and that certainly is not Clark. I think it makes perfect sense that your family wouldn't believe you without proof, as hard as that may be to accept. Don't worry, dear. Once they've had a chance to digest what they've learned tonight they'll be just fine."

"I know, Martha. I feel so much better already knowing that I can be totally open with my family again. I would have dealt with it if I'd had to but I'm so glad I was able to confide in them. I'll always be grateful to you and Jonathan for agreeing to this."

"I understand completely, dear. I think it's time we returned to the family now. I think Clark is just about wrapping up his talk."

Pam followed Martha out of the kitchen and took their seats again. Clark was just finishing and he kissed Pam on the cheek as she seated herself.

"Well, that's my story," Clark said "do you have any questions?"

Julie put her coffee on the table. "I have one question, Clark. Do you give rides?"

Clark doubled over in laughter and tears sprang to his eyes he was laughing so hard.

"Julie!" Pam said, "My fiancé is not an arcade attraction!" But she smiled as she said it.

"It's all right, honey. Yes, Julie, I do give rides, on a *very* limited basis. But none for you until after the baby is born, OK?"

"I'll hold you to that, Clark."

"I'll look forward to it," he smiled sincerely.

"You know, she does bring up a good point," Bill said. "We're going to expect you two to visit more often now that I know you don't have to pay for air fare."

"We will, Daddy. I've wanted to drop in on you two for so long now but we couldn't because there would be no way to explain how we got there at odd times. You can bet we'll be dropping in more often, you may even get sick of seeing us."

"I doubt that, dear," Mary said. "We've missed you and Greg and Julie so much with you all being so far away. Now we won't have to wait for the holidays to see you!"

"That's right, Mary," Clark said. "I can bring you guys in for a weekend whenever you want. I think it will make it really convenient for you when Julie's baby is born."

"Oh thank you, Clark," Mary said, "I would really like to spend a few days with Julie after the baby comes home and your offer is very much appreciated."

"It will be my pleasure, Mary. I can even pick up Bill after work once in a while for a quick visit if he'd like."

"I would, Clark," Bill said, "but I don't want to put you out, besides the time difference is going to cause problems."

"I really don't mind, Bill, but I'll leave it up to you."

"I'm sorry to break up this little party, but I'm getting tired," Julie said. "Greg, would you help me up?"

"It is late, we should be going too, Bill," Mary said.

"You folks remember the way back to the motel, right?" Jonathan asked.

"Yep, right at the end of the driveway and then straight for two miles. No problem, Jonathan." Bill said.

Pam stood up and kissed her mom and dad then moved to Greg and Julie. Hugs and kisses were exchanged all around and soon the house was quiet for the first time all evening.

"Clark, will you be sleeping upstairs?" Martha asked with a twinkle in her eye.

"No, Mom. I'll be sleeping down here. We can wait a couple more days."

"Yes, Martha, we've waited this long two more days won't hurt us."

"Well, good night then, we'll see you in the morning. Come on Jonathan, let's leave these two alone."

Pam walked over to Clark and stepped into his welcoming arms. She lifted her face to find Clark's lips descending toward hers. Before things could get more involved Pam stepped back.

"Good night, Clark," she said reluctantly, "We've had a long day and tomorrow is going to be busy too. I can't wait until Saturday, darling."

"I know, sweetheart. I can hardly wait myself. You'd better get going." He kissed her once more, lightly, and she turned toward the stairs and bed.


May 17, 1997:

It took quite a bit of work, but Martha had pulled it off with a lot of help from family, friends and the ladies auxiliary of the local church, with some super assistance when necessary. The farmhouse was an example of organized chaos in preparation for the wedding to be held that morning at eleven. The day had dawned to a cloudless sky and it promised to be warm for late May. Martha was in the kitchen getting coffee for the ladies upstairs who were helping Pam get prepared for the big event. Clark and the men in the party were at Wayne Irig's house getting ready as well, or at least they'd better be.

It was going to be a relatively small wedding, as neither Clark nor Pam wanted a large wedding party. They had asked Julie Blake and Jimmy Olsen to stand up with them and that was all. Julie was getting quite big and moving none too fast but she had told Pam she wouldn't miss the wedding for the world. She wasn't due for almost two months or so and she had got clearance from her doctor to travel so here she was. Everyone spent the time working on last minute wedding details and catching up on events in their lives since their last meeting. The Blakes apologized for not being able to help more but Bill's job hadn't allowed them to leave California any earlier. Martha assured them that they were helping now and that was all that mattered.

She finished getting the milk and sugar and placed them on the tray with the coffee pot and mugs and headed up the stairs to Clark's old room where Pam was dressing.

"Coffee is here, ladies!" Martha said as she handed the mugs around. After the women fixed the coffee to their liking they sat down to enjoy a few minutes of relative quiet. Each woman seemed deep in thought, probably thinking about the ceremony to come. Martha remembered her own wedding ceremony with fondness as she studied the bride-to-be.

"Mom, I'm so happy I can barely sit! How did you behave when you married dad?" Pam asked.

"I was just like you, dear. I think all brides are who are as much in love as you are. You said it yourself, you're so happy you can barely sit, not that you're so nervous you can barely sit. You can't wait for this whole thing to be over so you can be with your husband forever because you know that this union will be the fulfillment of your happiness, as it should be. Always remember though that marriage is communication, cooperation, endurance and work. I'm so pleased that you've found the kind of love that your father and I, Julie and Greg, and Martha and Jonathan have as well. It is a rare thing and is to be cherished for the wonderful gift it is." A tear started to sneak down Mary's cheek but she wiped it away quickly.

"Hear, hear," Martha and Julie chimed in.

"That's right, Pam," Martha said, "We can see the deep love you have for my son as he has for you. It is a great gift you've been given but never take it for granted. Love like yours will make your marriage easier but a marriage only survives and thrives with hard work. Never take your love or your marriage for granted and I know you'll have a successful and happy marriage, like all of us. Right, ladies?"

"You bet, Martha," Julie added. "I was privileged to see Pam and Clark grow in their love and I could see a lot of Greg and myself when I looked at them. I had a feeling about them even before I met Clark and it grew stronger after I met him. One thing that didn't surprise me was the speed with which the relationship progressed. I knew once they both admitted to their feelings things were going to happen quickly. I'm kind of glad it did, too, or this little guy or girl might have made an appearance before the wedding happened!" she laughed.

"What do you mean, Julie, you mean you wouldn't be my matron of honor after the baby was born?" she asked.

"No, honey! I couldn't wait that long! Remember how I called you so early after your first date?"

"Yes," Pam said.

"Well, the doctor noticed I was getting stressed and asked me about it. I told him my sister-in-law was in love and I couldn't wait for her boyfriend to propose! If you had waited any longer to get married I'd have probably gone into early labor due to stress!" Julie laughed and the other ladies joined her.

"Well, far be it for me to be responsible for adding to the statistics on premature births. If I'd known it was that bad, I'd have asked Clark on a date a lot sooner!" Pam exclaimed seeming to enjoy the teasing she received from her sister-in-law.

"OK ladies, it's time to get this beautiful woman dressed so she can meet her husband," Martha said, and everyone sprang into action.


Clark stood before the mirror in the spare bedroom of Wayne Irig's house adjusting his tie. It didn't seem to want to stay in place or maybe he was just fidgeting. He wanted this wait over so he could get to the ceremony. The sooner the ceremony was over the sooner Pam would be his wife. He looked himself over once more as he heard Jimmy coming up the stairs.

"CK! You look great, man. I didn't realize you were so cut! That tux is *you*."

Clark chuckled at his friend's enthusiasm. "Thanks Jim. I really appreciate you being my best man. Even though we've been in different cities for the past two years you're my closest friend. I wish we could have gotten together more, but I've enjoyed our phone calls nonetheless."

"Me too, CK. I've missed going to ballgames and such with you, but I understand why you had to leave Metropolis," Jimmy said softly.

"Yeah," Clark sighed. "If anyone would, you would."

"I'm sorry, CK."

"Nothing to be sorry about, Jim. We all have choices to make in life. I made mine and I'm very happy with it. After all, if I hadn't moved to Chicago I'd have never met Pam," he smiled happily. "I think things have worked out for the best. I'm marrying a beautiful woman in less than an hour, I have my family and friends here to celebrate with me, what more could a man want?"

"Yeah, Pam sure is beautiful. You are one lucky guy, first Lois and now Pam…" Jimmy stopped, realizing he'd stepped in it up to his chest. "I'm sorry CK, I-I've got a big mouth!"

"Don't worry about it Jim. I'm over Lois. I wouldn't be marrying Pam if I was still hung up on Lois, it wouldn't be fair to her. Pam doesn't deserve to be second in my heart, and she's not. If Lois were to run in here right now with tickets to Vegas, begging me to marry her I'd tell her thanks but no thanks. I need to be first with the woman I love too. I was Lois's friend but I was never first in her heart."

"Well, I've still got a big mouth but it's nice of you to let me off the hook!" Jimmy smiled.

"Hey, you're my best man, I couldn't do anything less."

"Clark, Jimmy, the photographer needs you down here for pictures!" Jonathan called from downstairs.

Jimmy clapped Clark on the back and said, "OK buddy, it's time to get this show on the road!"


Forty-five minutes later, everyone was in place watching for the bride. Clark and Jimmy waited impatiently with the minister, looking out over their assembled family and friends.

At eleven o'clock the first strains of the 'Wedding March' floated on the air. Julie exited the house and made her way slowly down the aisle. A few seconds later Pam appeared and Clark was awed by the sight of her. He'd always known she was a beautiful woman, inside and out, but today she was breathtaking. She had on a minimal amount of makeup, just enough to highlight her blue eyes, and she had her ash blonde hair done up in a simple twist. Every eye was on her as her father walked her down the aisle. The only man prouder than her father at that moment was Clark, for he knew that soon she would be his wife.

Julie reached the front of the gathering and turned left to take her place and waited for Pam. Pam and Bill arrived in front of the minister, where Bill presented Pam's hand to Clark and stood back to await his portion of the ceremony.

The minister looked at the happy couple then began. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to join these two people, Clark and Pamela, in the bonds of holy matrimony. Who gives this woman to be wed?"

"I do," Bill said then he sat down taking his place next to his wife.

"The bride and groom have written their own vows that express the feelings they have for each other. Clark, would you begin?"

"In the presence of God and before our family and friends I, Clark, choose you, Pamela, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love. I promise to share with you in times of joy as in times of trouble; to talk and to listen; to honor and appreciate you; to provide for and support you in trust and in love. I further promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, and cherish you always." He gazed deep into Pam's eyes and saw the reflection of the love he felt in his heart.

"Pamela?" the minister asked.

"I, Pamela, take you Clark, from this day forward and into the long forever to be my beloved, my sweetheart, my darling, my husband. I promise always to love you, to honor you, to adore you, to give thanks for the gift of your presence. You are the one I admire; you are the one I adore. You are the one I choose to go on with forever, from now until the end of my life."

"The rings, please?" The minister turned to Jimmy and held out his hand. Jimmy removed the rings from his pocket and handed them to the minister.

Taking the small gold band, he blessed it and handed it to Clark who reverently slipped it on Pam's finger. Holding the larger version of the ring that now encircled Pam's finger the blessing was repeated and the minister handed it to the bride who slipped it onto Clark's finger. There was a look of love exchanged between the couple then they turned and faced the minister.

"By the power vested in me by the church and the great state of Kansas, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride," he said proudly.

The kiss was one that everyone present could see conveyed every ounce of love these two people had for the other. The kiss ended, and the couple turned to face the audience.

The minister announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to present Mr. and Mrs. Clark Kent!"


Pam and Clark moved down the aisle to the congratulations of their friends and family then proceeded to the rear of the farmhouse where the tent had been set up for the reception.

Clark, Pam and the other members of the wedding party stopped near the front of the tent for the receiving line to start. Everyone expressed their congratulations to the happy couple and then went to their seats. Toward the end of the line were Perry and Alice White. Clark extended his hand to his old boss and made the introductions.

"Pam, I'd like you to meet Perry White and his wife, Alice."

"Mr. and Mrs. White, I've heard a lot about you. Thanks so much for attending our wedding."

"Now, darlin', it's Perry and Alice, please. We wouldn't have missed Clark's wedding for anything, would we, dear?"

"No, we wouldn't." Alice said. "Clark has always been a favorite of ours and it is our pleasure to be here. I hope we can have some time to talk today, Pam."

"I'd love to, Alice. I want to talk to you and Perry as well. I'm just sorry we haven't had time before this!"

"Don't worry, dear. You've probably been so busy you haven't been able to sit for two minutes. We understand."

"Congratulations again, son. We'd better move along, don't want to hold up the line too long! We'll talk more later," Perry said as he and Alice walked away.

The happy couple finished greeting the last few guests and then made their way to the head table. Clark held Pam's chair as she got comfortable then he pushed it in for her. Taking his seat next to his wife he looked out over the assembled crowd.

"I'm glad we sat Perry and Alice at the same table as John and Kelly. Look at them! Perry and John are already telling stories of their days in Vietnam," Clark said with a grin.

"How can you tell that?"

"Super hearing, remember?"

"I keep forgetting. I'm glad they're having a good time. It looks like everyone else is, as well."

Before Clark could respond Jimmy Olsen stood and tapped his water glass with his knife to get everyone's attention. The crowd quieted and he began his speech.

"Ladies and gentlemen, as best man, it is my joyful duty to say a few words. Four years ago I met Clark Kent on his first day at the Daily Planet. I saw a man who didn't look like a typical reporter and I was not surprised when he walked out of the building without a job. I never expected to see this man again, but he would not take no for an answer.

"Clark took advantage of some information he'd overheard and wrote his first article for the Daily Planet. He came back the next day and gave it Perry, who was so impressed he offered Clark a job then and there.

"I'm pleased and proud to say that Clark and I became friends during his time at the Planet. We've maintained our friendship even though he moved to Chicago and I stayed in Metropolis, though anyone who knows Clark would not be surprised at that. Now that my friend Clark is married, I hope to get to know his beautiful wife better, as well.

"What I do know about her is she is a very kind, loving woman. I can see that their love is strong and will continue to grow stronger. I want to thank Pam and Clark for being my friends. A man couldn't have better friends than these two people. I also want to thank Clark for asking me to be his best man. It is an honor I'll never forget.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in wishing Pam and Clark all the best in life and their marriage." Jimmy raised his glass of champagne and continued. "To Pam and Clark, may you be as happy fifty years from now as you are today!"

Jimmy and the rest of the guests raised their glasses and said, "To Pam and Clark!"

Clark shook hands with Jimmy as he sat down after his speech. "That was a wonderful toast Jim. Thank you!"

"Yes, thank you, Jim. I'm impressed!" Pam said.

"You're welcome, guys. I've written, edited and re-edited that speech since Clark asked me to be his best man. I wanted to make it perfect."

"It was, Jim," Clark said sincerely. "I couldn't have asked for a better best man or a better speech."


The reception continued with Jimmy serving the bride and groom. Greg brought his wife a plate and joined her at the head table. Martha and the ladies of the church auxiliary had done an excellent job with the food and everyone commented on the wonderful homemade dishes. After the meal it was time for Pam and Clark's first dance.

Clark had asked if he could surprise her with the music for their first dance and she had agreed knowing Clark would choose something lovely and appropriate. Clark had given the choice of music a lot of thought and he chose an old Elvis favorite that expressed his feelings about his new wife.

As Clark led his lovely bride to the center of the dance floor the strains of 'Can't Help Falling in Love' filled the air. All eyes were on the happy couple.

Wise men say only fools rush in But I can't help falling in love with you Shall I stay Would it be a sin If I can't help falling in love with you

Pam looked into Clark's eyes and he could see hers shining back at him. He leaned down and dropped a light kiss on his bride's nose.

"Oh, Clark. This is beautiful. How did you ever come to choose it?"

"After working with Perry all that time, I came to appreciate Elvis's music more, and this song just seemed to fit our situation. No matter what I felt when I arrived in Chicago, I couldn't help loving you. I'm just glad you waited for me to realize it. " Clark kissed her lightly on the lips.

"That's enough of that, Clark. We're together now and that's all that matters. You're mine and I couldn't help loving you either." Pam laid her head on Clark's chest and hummed along with the music.

Like a river flows surely to the sea Darling so it goes Some things are meant to be Take my hand, take my whole life too For I can't help falling in love with you. For I can't help falling in love with you. *

As they broke away from each other, Clark saw Alice and Perry on the dance floor next to them. Perry was holding Alice tightly swaying gently to the music. Perry looked at Clark and smiled, mouthing 'thank you' to him. Clark felt that Perry would appreciate his choice as much as Pam would, and he was pleased that he had been right.

After dancing with their respective parents, Clark and Pam cut the cake. As usual they took turns feeding each other and mugging for the camera. The highlight of the cake cutting, for Clark at least, was his cleaning the frosting from Pam's lips with a very sensual kiss. Despite the heat of the kiss, Pam smiled and blushed prettily for the camera, all the while hugging her new husband tightly.

The newlyweds spent the rest of their time dancing with friends and relatives and renewing friendships with people from far away. Clark watched as his wife walked over to where her cousins were sitting. He felt as if he should pinch himself to make sure the whole day wasn't a dream. In a way it was; it was his dream come true.

All his life he had dreamed of this day, the day he would marry a woman who loved him for himself and who accepted and loved his unique abilities as well. A long time ago he had thought he'd found that person in Lois but he'd been so wrong. He'd also been wrong to let the hurt linger much longer than he should have. Being lost in grief over a one-way relationship might have caused him to miss out on Pam's love when it came his way. He hadn't missed it and for that he was eternally grateful. He looked around the tent and saw his mother and father in the far corner talking to Mary and Bill. He made his way to them to thank them once more for everything they had done to make the wedding a wonderful experience.


The last of the guests had left the reception and it was time for Pam and Clark to leave for their honeymoon. The newlyweds had told everyone that they had a midnight flight to France leaving from Kansas City but that excuse was to explain why they had stayed to the end of the reception rather than leaving early. Clark went upstairs to get their luggage then walked with it to the front porch.

"I'll take these bags to the hotel first, honey and I'll be back to get you in a few minutes." With that he spun into his suit and flew away.

Greg, Julie, Bill and Mary stood still for a few seconds. The shock of actually seeing Clark change into Superman brought home the truth of what they all had been told days earlier.

Mary put her hand over her chest and looked at her daughter. "My God Pam, that was amazing! How did you get used to it?"

"You don't Mom. I'm in awe every time I see it." Pam smiled.

"He really *is* Superman!" Bill said.

"We told you he was Daddy," Pam said.

"Oh I know that but it's different actually *seeing* him change like that! Oh wow, my son-in-law is Superman!" Bill said.

"No Daddy, your son-in-law is Clark Kent, Superman doesn't really exist. He's just Clark in a loud costume." Pam giggled.

"Loud! I'll have you know I made that costume!" Martha said smiling at her new family members. "Like I told him when I first made it, 'nobody will be looking at your face!' Did he ever blush when I said that!" Everyone broke into laughter at that comment.

"You really said that, Martha?" Mary asked.

At that moment Clark arrived from France and said, "What did I miss, Mom?"

"Oh just that your mom made your suit," Pam said. "She was just telling us how sure she was the suit would hide your real identity."

Clark got a worried look on his face. "Mom?"

"Don't worry Clark," Martha giggled. "I won't get you into too much trouble with your new wife."

"That's what I'm afraid of! Sweetheart, are you ready?"

The newlyweds said their goodbyes to their family with hugs and kisses then Clark scooped up his bride and lifted off the ground heading slowly east toward a two week honeymoon in France.


Sunday May 18th dawned brightly in Metropolis. Lois Luthor was reading the Sunday newspapers in bed while she waited for her husband to return with breakfast. Lex had ordered breakfast in bed for them to be served promptly at eight am. He liked to have breakfast in bed periodically, and they would spend an hour or so afterward reading the paper and talking about current events.

She had just finished the New York Times and was ready to start on the Chicago Tribune when Lex walked in with the tray.

"Here we are darling. Chef Andre made all your favorites. We have Eggs Benedict, scones with marmalade, and plenty of coffee." Lex set the tray between them and extended the sides so they could share it.

"Thanks Lex, but you know those are *your* favorites. All I really need is toast and coffee." She put down the paper and picked up the carafe.

"Lois, you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day." Lex leaned over and kissed her deeply.

"Lex! I almost spilled the coffee, please be careful," she said looking at her husband angrily.

"Darling you know I can't resist your charms, especially early in the morning. You look lovely to me lying there in that negligee. Put the coffee down and come here." He reached for the cup and moved the tray out of the way. He moved closer to Lois and stroked her hair while looking directly in her eyes. "My darling, you are as sexy and desirable as the day we married."

Lois felt his hand move from her face, down her arm to her hip. She felt her negligee being pushed upward. She'd had to work harder and harder to hide her disgust with the man she had married as his crimes had been revealed to her. It was at times like this, when he 'made love' to her, if you could call it that, when her acting ability was severely tested. With each new crime she'd uncovered whatever love she'd had for him turned to hate. His touch sickened her. Her only happiness came from the knowledge that Lex wasn't ready for children. She'd been taking birth control pills since before they married and she had no intention of going off them. Just the thought of carrying this monster's child chilled her to the bone.

Her married life had taken a distinct downward turn the day she'd found some documents in Lex's office that raised her suspicions. It had started her investigation of Lex's activities as well. As Lex treated her to his perfunctory dose of foreplay she thought of the irony of her life. Clark had been right and she'd been wrong. It had been hard to admit but even harder to accept, though accept it she did. Lex was damn good at hiding his off the radar activities though so she didn't feel as bad as she might have. Still, what if she'd listened to Clark? It didn't matter now of course, but it saddened her nonetheless.

Lois could hear Lex's breathing increase signaling he was nearing his completion. She made the appropriate noises at the appropriate times and, as usual, Lex was none the wiser. Thankfully, for her, his interests were in pleasing himself or she might not be able to get away with her deception. His lust spent, he fell to her side and stroked her belly.

"It looks like I'll have to call Chef Andre for a fresh breakfast. This one seems to have gone cold during our exertions." He smiled as he started to rise.

"Nothing for me Lex, the coffee in the carafe is still hot, that's all I really feel like this morning. I'm going to take my paper and sit on my balcony." She rose and pulled on the expensive silk dressing gown he'd given her last week.

"As you wish my dear. I'll take this to my office and eat there. Please be ready by one, we're expected at the senator's for his daughter's coming out party." He walked out the door without waiting for her response.

'Yeah, that outta be a real thrill,' she thought sarcastically as she sat down on her chaise lounge with her coffee and paper. She sorted through the Tribune to get to the news sections. She came to the Society page and was about to pass it by like she always did when one of the photos made her freeze, the paper gripped tightly between her fingers.

There on the front were the marriage announcements. Among the pictures of happy couples was a face she hadn't seen in almost three years. Clark Kent and Pamela Blake the caption under the picture read. The date of the wedding was May 17, 1997. That was yesterday! Clark had gotten married yesterday! How could he do that! Martha hadn't said a word, though if she were honest they avoided talking about Clark by mutual agreement. She looked at the picture more closely. The woman Clark had married was pretty enough, she guessed. She seemed to have dark blonde hair, but it was hard to tell from a black and white photograph. What she could tell was the love the couple showed for each other. You could see it in their eyes and no grainy newspaper photo could hide it.

She suddenly felt cold inside. Clark was *married*. She didn't know why she should, but she felt abandoned all over again. She'd felt that way when she'd noticed that Clark hadn't attended their reception. She had felt that way again when, upon her return from their around the world honeymoon, she'd found that he had moved with no forwarding address. She had thought he was her friend, but a friend wouldn't treat her like that would he? No. His declaration of love that day in the park had to have been a ruse as well she had thought at the time. It had to be his way of making her doubt her decision to marry Lex. He had been jealous that was all. Today was the first time she had thought about that time in almost three years. Now that she knew some of Lex's crimes Clark's feelings toward Lex weren't wrong. Since that was true then what of his declaration? Had that been true as well?

She didn't want to, couldn't, think about that now. If she did she was sure she'd start crying and she didn't want Lex to catch her doing that. He'd ask too many questions. Questions she didn't want to answer, mostly because she didn't have the answers herself. Besides, it was too late to change any of that now. She had been married for three years and Clark was married now too. He had found the love that she had rejected and she should be pleased for him. If she couldn't have a happy marriage then maybe Clark could.

She looked up from the paper to the Metropolis skyline, lost in thought. She thought back to the good times she and Clark had spent together and regretted her attitude towards him. He had tried so hard to get her to notice him and she had—she would have to have been blind not to notice him. He was quite handsome and very well built; once he got rid of those horrible suits he wore when he first started at the Planet. He'd seemed to worship the ground she walked on, but he wouldn't be bullied by her. He'd seemed to understand her better than she did and rolled with her metaphorical punches.

Given her childhood experiences her attitude towards men was to be expected. Her attitude was further reinforced by her experiences with men outside her family. With each failed relationship she became more and more convinced that men were untrustworthy, and she hid her heart away behind a higher and higher wall. When Clark arrived, his obvious infatuation was 'cute' but nothing she'd wanted to deal with. He was from Kansas, of all places, and he held a simplistic view of the world and of love. She was sure he'd get educated in the big city real quick. As it turned out, the only one who gave Clark an education in love was her.

She had taught him that a pure, deep, abiding love like his meant nothing to her. She'd enjoyed his attention; it had made her very happy most of the time. The only time it had bothered her was when she started to weaken and contemplate returning that love. She would then do something to make sure he understood his place in her world and she could go back to her teasing banter with no fears that he'd mistake her friendliness for anything more.

She was saddened by that thought now. How she wished she could have responded the way Clark had wanted her to but that was not to be. She wasn't that kind of person then. Back then she had been having fun with Lex and dreaming of a relationship with Superman and spending the rest of her time enjoying the company of her best friend. She'd had the best of all worlds, or so it had seemed. It was only after investigating Lex that she realized her 'love' for Lex had been severely misplaced. The one man, of the three she had been involved with, who really, truly loved her, had been Clark and she couldn't, or more accurately, wouldn't see it. She gazed at the picture again and the woman with Clark. Someone else had seen what Clark had to offer a woman and had acted on it. The old saying 'you snooze, you lose' described Lois to a tee.

Her ruminations were interrupted by a gust of wind that nearly ripped the paper from her hands. She grasped it tighter and looked at the faces of her friend and his new wife one more time. She sighed heavily and put the paper down on the floor of the balcony. She'd lost all interest in the Tribune for that day.


Jonathan Kent sat in the kitchen finishing up a cup of coffee. He'd just come in from the barn where he had spent the morning feeding the animals and mucking out the stalls. The balance of the morning would be spent working on that old tractor. Someday he'd have to look into buying a newer one but for now wishes wouldn't fix the clutch. As he was rising from the table the phone rang. He walked over and picked it up.


"Um, hi Jonathan. Is Martha there?"

Jonathan paused, Lois was on the phone. The last person in the world he would have expected to call today was Lois Lane, no; he corrected himself, Lois Luthor. He realized he'd probably been quiet too long so he said, "Lois, what a surprise. I didn't expect to hear your voice. I'll get Martha for you." Without waiting for an answer he put the phone down and walked out the back door. He found his wife where he had seen her on his way in for his coffee break. She was just finishing hanging out the wash.

"Martha? There's a call for you," he said his voice slightly strained.

Martha turned. "Who is it dear?" she asked carefully.

"It's Lois."


"Yes, oh. Can we talk about this later?"

"Of course sweetheart, I'd better get in there and take that call." She moved past him on her way to the house.


Martha walked in the house and for the first time since she'd been talking regularly to Lois she was nervous about the conversation. She steeled herself and picked up the phone.

"Hi, Lois. Sorry it took so long to get here, I was outside hanging clothes. How are you?"

"I'm fine, Martha. I haven't called at a bad time, have I?"

"No, dear, not at all. How have things been going? It's been a few months since we talked last." Martha relaxed a bit and leaned against the wall, though she still twisted the telephone cord in her hands.

"Yeah, Martha, I'm sorry about that. I've been so busy with my charity work. I've been traveling so much lately as well, anyway, I'm sorry. We're planning a trip to Switzerland for our anniversary, and then we might stop over in Paris on the way home. Lex loves Paris so much." Just as Martha was starting to respond to the silence Lois continued. "Martha, I know we kinda agreed not to talk about Clark but could we? Just this once?"

Martha thought she detected sadness in Lois's voice and her heart went out to the younger woman. She decided that this one time she would talk with Lois about her boy.

"Of course, dear," she said kindly, hoping to ease Lois's fears.

"Thanks, Martha. I appreciate it. I saw the announcement in the paper of Clark's wedding." Lois paused then continued. "Is he, is he happy? He looked happy in the picture, but you can never tell with these things. He's always been special to me and I don't want to think of him in an unhappy marriage…" She trailed off to silence.

Martha heard Lois sob quietly. She probably wasn't supposed to even hear the sob but she had. Why would Lois be crying over Clark getting married? Why would she think he'd be in an unhappy marriage? Unless…

"He's very happy, dear. She's a lovely girl and anyone can see that she thinks the sun rises and sets with Clark." She hoped she wasn't hurting Lois more than she was helping.

"Oh, that's good, I guess. I'm glad he found someone. He's a wonderful guy and he deserves to be happy. If you don't mind my asking, how did they meet?"

Martha wondered why Lois was putting herself through this since it obviously bothered her. If this was what Lois thought she needed to hear, who was Martha to deny her?

"They met at work. Then he started riding the train with her to and from work." Martha chuckled. "You know Clark. He was probably concerned for her safety on those trains."

"Yes, he used to worry about me like that all the time. I pretended to hate it but I secretly enjoyed the attention."

"It took almost two years for them to get really close. I liked her from the moment I met her…" Martha heard a sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line.

"He brought her to visit?! Of course he did, she was a friend. He brought me to visit so why wouldn't he bring her… I'm sorry, Martha, I didn't mean to interrupt." Lois babbled.

"Don't worry about it dear. Yes, they visited during planting and harvest time. With Clark living in Chicago it makes it much easier for him to come home for a long weekend. Jonathan and I appreciate the help I can tell you."

"I'm sure you do. Could you… could you tell me about the wedding?"

Sighing happily Martha continued. "It was beautiful. We held the ceremony here, in the side yard. Perry and Alice were there and Jimmy was Clark's best man. There were about one-hundred people in attendance. Pam grew up in Los Angeles so a lot of her friends couldn't get here. Her mother and father were here of course, as were her brother and his wife. Some of her cousins made the trip as well, so she had good family representation."

Martha paused and pulled up a chair then sat down to continue.

"Clark's friends from Smallville came of course. Some of his old college buddies were able to make it too. They had a great time at the bachelor party, or so I'm told. Jonathan said his old buddies really roasted him. Clark told me later he had one of the best times of his life that night."

Martha waited a second or two before continuing.

"They wrote their own vows; that was different from when Jonathan and I were married, but it was beautiful," she said wistfully. "The reception was lovely; we held it in the back yard under a tent though the weather cooperated the whole day. That Perry is a heck of a dancer! I don't think he missed one slow dance with Alice. He even talked the DJ into playing "Jailhouse Rock"! I didn't think he could move his hips like that!" Martha laughed heartily at the memory.

Lois chuckled, "I wish I'd been there to see that!" Martha heard Lois catch her breath and the silence that followed on Lois's end of the line was deafening.

Realizing the awkwardness of the moment Martha moved to cover it. "It was something I'll tell you. Anyway that's about everything that happened."

"Thank you Martha. I know it was asking a lot, but I had to know. Even if we haven't been close these last few years I still consider him my friend. I'm so glad he's found someone to love. He deserves to be happy."

Martha heard Lois's voice crack again. She felt sorry for Lois but she didn't know what to say to ease her pain. "He is dear, he's very happy. I haven't seen him this happy in a long time."

"Martha, I have to get going now. I have a board meeting for the Metropolis Children's Charities foundation in half an hour. I appreciate your breaking our agreement this one time. I won't forget this. Goodbye Martha, I'll call you in a few weeks."

"Goodbye Lois, it's been good talking to you. I'll look forward to your next call."


Lois stared at the phone on her desk, not really seeing the instrument. Why had she made that call? Why did she *keep* calling Martha after that first 'congratulations on your wedding' call? They were mostly 'how's the weather' type conversations. They really didn't have a lot in common now, not like when she'd worked with Clark. She guessed that's why she hadn't called in over six months. Except for assuring each other they were still alive there was no substance to the calls, not really. So why did she do it? She knew why but she hated to admit it. Martha was her last link to Clark, even if they never talked about him. She wanted to laugh at herself but she was too sad to do so. She still called Martha Kent but she couldn't find the time to call Perry, who had been like a father to her, or Jimmy who was as close to a little brother as she would ever have. How sad was that.

One thing that didn't surprise her was hearing that Perry and Jimmy were at Clark's wedding. Clark wouldn't forget his old friends; he'd keep track of Perry and Jimmy and call just to say hello. Heck, he'd kept in touch with his college buddies when he'd worked with her so it was no surprise, really. **He doesn't keep in touch with you** the voice in her head taunted. 'No, he doesn't,' she thought. 'But considering how I treated him is that such a surprise?' No it wasn't, and that saddened her most of all. Her thoughts were interrupted by her secretary reminding her she'd be late for her meeting if she didn't leave right away. Sighing, Lois stood and asked her secretary to call the limousine.


Martha hung up the phone and sat back down. She got right back up and poured herself a cup of coffee, leaning against the counter. Why had Lois wanted to know all that? It seemed obvious that Lois was upset by some of the things she'd said. Lois seemed to still have feelings for Clark, if her reactions were any indication. Maybe she still held some love for him that had been buried deep within her only to surface now that she saw Clark was married.

Whatever the reasons, she knew there were no answers to be found right now, nor did it really matter. Lois had been married for three years and Clark was married to a wonderful woman who loved him very deeply. If Lois was having regrets, Martha felt bad for her but there was nothing she could do.

What she would do was talk to her husband. He was probably curious about the phone call.


Jonathan was working under the tractor when Martha walked into the barn.

"Jonathan, can you stop that for a minute? You wanted to talk?"

Jonathan pushed himself from under the tractor, grabbed a rag and wiped his hands as he stood and walked over to her.

"Yes dear I did. I was surprised to hear Lois's voice on the phone today. Don't you think it was too much of a coincidence that she'd call so soon after the wedding?" He was genuinely surprised by the call and was looking to his wife for clarification.

"It was. I told you she and I maintained contact after her wedding but we don't talk very often, maybe every couple of months. To be honest we've had an unspoken agreement not to talk about Clark and it has worked well. Just because she and Clark didn't work out doesn't mean I can't remain friends with her. I really liked her. She reminded me of myself when I was that age."

"You were never that feisty, Martha."

"No, but there was just something about her I liked, what can I tell you. Besides I think she liked to have someone to talk to who didn't think of her as 'Mrs. Luthor'."

"You said you didn't talk about Clark. I take it today that changed?" He searched his wife's face and saw that she seemed conflicted.

"Yes, today was different. In a nutshell she saw the wedding announcement in yesterday's paper. I got the impression that the announcement surprised her but it seemed to affect her a lot more than I would have guessed. I think she has feelings for Clark that she's been keeping hidden. She was very choked up when I told her about Pam and the wedding."

Jonathan was momentarily struck speechless by her last comment. "She asked about Pam and the wedding?"

"She did. She asked me specifically to tell her about it. She said something that struck me funny though. She said she wanted to make sure Clark was in a happy marriage. I found that very odd."

Jonathan thought that comment was odd as well. Why would Lois think Clark would enter into a marriage where he wasn't happy? It didn't make sense. Though considering this was Lois, making sense wasn't always possible.

"How did she react to that? I hope you told her how happy they are?"

"I did. I told her they were very happy together and they reminded me a lot of you and me on our wedding day." Jonathan felt his wife's hand on his arm and she looked at him with the same expression he'd seen these last thirty years, total love and contentment.

"They did look like us didn't they? I haven't seen two people as happy and in love as those two in a long time."

"To get back to your question, she didn't react well at all in my opinion. She seemed very upset and I'm sure I heard her crying a couple of times though she tried to hide it from me. At the end of the conversation we agreed to go back to not talking about Clark, this was a one time thing. Our friendship works better that way."

"I'm glad you're her friend dear, I have the feeling she doesn't have too many friends. I just hope it was worth it for her."

"Me too dear. I'm going to start lunch now. I'll call you when it's ready."

Jonathan watched his wife make her way back to the house. Before he crawled back under the tractor he pondered their conversation. No matter how long he lived he'd never understand the female psyche.


Two weeks later Pam and Clark returned from France. Clark had brought their luggage to his apartment earlier and then returned for his wife. Before they had left for the honeymoon they had moved some of Pam's belongings to his apartment and put the rest into storage. The move to Clark's place was only temporary, they planned to search for a larger apartment very soon, however since Clark's apartment was the larger of the two the move made sense.

Clark landed on the balcony and set Pam down gently. After spinning out of the suit and into jeans and a t-shirt, Pam took his hand and led him to the living room. She guided him to the couch and after he sat down she made herself comfortable on his lap.

"Clark, as much as I loved France and our honeymoon it is nice to be back," she sighed and rested her head on his chest.

"It *is* good to be home, honey. We sure had a lot of fun these last two weeks, and your French was excellent. I'm sure a lot of people thought you were a native!"

At that moment Pam felt Clark stiffen. He seemed to be listening to something and it wasn't her.

"What's wrong Clark?"

"Forest fire in Colorado, I'm sorry, honey but I've got to go," he said as he gently lifted her from his lap.

"Be careful, honey, and come home soon." She kissed her husband and stepped back. In a blur he was gone.

'Well, since I'm alone I think I'll call mom and see how she's doing,' she thought as she reached over and picked up the phone on the side table. The phone rang two times before her mother's voice came over the line.


"Hi Mom! We're back from France."

"Pam! It's good to hear from you dear. How was the honeymoon?"

"Mom, you won't believe it. The French countryside was so beautiful and Paris was out of this world. It was heaven!" Pam said with a laugh. She blushed a little thinking back to the nights with Clark.

"That's wonderful dear. I'm so glad. I know you were on your honeymoon but sure I missed hearing from you for two whole weeks."

"I know what you mean Mom. I think that is the longest we've gone without talking in years, maybe ever." There was a pause on Mary's end of the line for a few moments causing Pam to feel uneasy.

"Dear, I hope you don't think I'm meddling… " Mary said cautiously. "But I have a concern that we didn't talk about in Smallville."

"Mom, I don't think you're meddling. We want you to feel comfortable and if there is something we didn't cover we should talk about it." She wondered what her mother could be talking about though; they had been pretty thorough that night.

"Is Clark there? I'm embarrassed to bring this up and I don't want him to overhear."

"He's not here. He left a few minutes ago. There's a forest fire in Colorado."

"That's good, not that there's fire, just that he's not there. I love him very much and I don't want to say anything that might hurt him."

Pam was even more concerned now, what could her mother want to know that would hurt Clark? She hoped she would get to the point quickly.

"What's bothering you Mom?" She stood up and started pacing in front of the couch.

"I'm sorry dear. I just have one question. Have you and Clark talked about children?" Before Pam could answer she plowed on. "I know you just got married and it's way too early to be thinking about them but with his heritage is it possible for him to father any? I know how much you always wanted children of your own and I think it's not too early to talk about it."

Pam plopped heavily on the couch, speechless. They hadn't talked much about children. Things had moved quickly once they had professed their love for each other and the subject had come up in passing. They both wanted children, she knew that. She hadn't thought about Clark's heritage though. He was so normal she didn't even think he was from another planet most of the time. Could he father children? She didn't know.

"Pam? Dear? Are you all right?" Pam heard her mother's voice in her ear and it took a few seconds to realize she was still on the phone with her.

"I'm sorry Mom, I'm OK. You surprised me that's all. We have talked about children, Mom. Clark and I both want children some day. As to his heritage, all I can tell you is Clark is as human as you or me. He's perfect for me. He fulfills me just as he is. If some day we are blessed with children they will be an addition to my life that I will cherish. If we aren't blessed then I'll still have my hearts desire, my life with my husband." There were tears in her eyes and tightness in her voice.

"I'm sorry dear. I didn't mean to upset you." Mary cried. "I'm so glad you feel the way you do, believe me! I don't care about grandchildren if having them would mean you weren't happy with the man that fathered them. If the man you are happy with can't father children but he makes you happy then that's what I want. I'm sorry I brought it up."

"No Mom, I'm glad you asked. It is something Clark and I need to talk more about. We just haven't yet. We could be worrying over nothing. We are using protection now so Clark must think there is a possibility of pregnancy. It's not to prevent disease that's for sure."

"No, of course not. I'm sorry dear. I've been thinking about this since you told us about Clark back in Smallville but I didn't know how to bring it up. It's a very personal subject. I've been thinking all this time and I had to get it off my chest. This is why I couldn't ask you if Clark was there. I wouldn't want to embarrass him. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't mention I asked when you do talk to him. I wouldn't want him to be uncomfortable around me, I'll be uncomfortable enough for both of us," she chuckled, but there was sadness in her tone as well.

"Don't be Mom. Please. There's nothing to be embarrassed about. You have a valid point and we'll talk about it. I appreciate you bringing it up. I really do. I'll talk to Clark about this soon, I promise."

"Thank you dear. You've eased my mind a lot. Now, tell me all about France, maybe I can get your father to take me there for a second honeymoon!"


The weekend after their return from France turned out to be the first time the couple had any free time to discuss the subject of children. The week had been spent catching up on stories and other work that had piled up over the previous two weeks. Superman had also been very busy helping out after a spate of tornadoes and flooding across the country.

While they were cleaning up the breakfast dishes on Saturday morning, Pam ran various scenarios through her mind for her talk with her husband. This could be a sensitive subject for Clark and she didn't want to make him embarrassed or uneasy, but it was also important that the subject be raised. She came to the conclusion that honesty was the best policy, and she'd just ask how he felt and what he knew.

"Honey, could we talk? I have something to ask you." She hung up the towel she had used to wipe the dishes.

"Sure sweetheart, why don't we take our coffee and go sit in the living room?" Clark poured a cup for each of them and the made their way to the couch.

Pam looked over at her husband and, taking a cleansing breath, she started.

"I don't know quite how to begin, so this might come out awkwardly. Honey, how do you feel about children? We have discussed this before but only briefly and I wanted to talk about it some more." She leaned back on the arm of the couch and sipped her coffee as she waited for his reply.

Clark smiled. "I love children. I used to watch a neighbor's children once in a while when I was a kid; she was a widow with no family near by. You also know how much I do to help children as Superman. Is that what you mean?"

"Yes, but how do you feel about having children of our own? I don't mean to hurt you but do you know if you can father children?" She leaned closer and squeezed his hand lovingly.

"I've always wanted a family of my own. Having a wife and then children has been my dream since I was very little. As to whether I can father children, I don't know," he said. "My birth father, Jor-El, mentioned that he sent me to Earth because this planet had people that were close to Kryptonians biologically but he wasn't more specific than that."

Pam sat up straighter in surprise. "You've never told me about your Kryptonian parents. How did you find out about them?" she asked excitedly.

"I never told you about the globe?" Pam shook her head and he continued. "I was exploring a warehouse and I was drawn to an object under a tarp that turned out to be a small rocket ship with my 'S' symbol on the front."

Pam's eyes widened at this news. "Oh my God, Clark, what did you find? Please, go on!"

"Lying next to the ship was a leather bag that contained a round ball, the globe. I hid the globe but before I could get the ship out of there I had to leave or be captured. By the time I could return the ship was gone."

Pam could sense the sadness this retelling brought her husband so she squeezed his hand to show she understood. Her eyes captured his and she knew he felt her love and support. He smiled a little and squeezed her hand gently then continued.

"I kept the globe in my apartment and basically forgot about it. Then one night I was awakened by a strange feeling. I got out of bed and was drawn to the box where I kept the globe. I touched it and what I can only describe as a hologram formed. The hologram spoke to me. The man identified himself as Jor-El, my biological father. There was a woman who turned out to be my mother, her name was Lara. The first message was pretty short but he told me there would be four other messages.

"The globe was stolen from my apartment the next day but I recovered it a few days later. Even while it was gone I was able to experience the holograms in my mind."

Clark dropped his head, going quiet. She kissed him and hugged him for several minutes. When he lifted his head he seemed to have gathered himself enough to continue, so she sat back allowing him to finish the story.

"There were no more holograms after that; at least there have been none since. I moved the globe to Smallville after that for safekeeping. So all I know is that Jor-El and Lara knew that Kryptonians and Earthlings were similar biologically, we do look alike externally, but they probably didn't know how compatible we are."

"Don't worry honey, it doesn't matter. We aren't ready for children. We've just got married. We need time to be man and wife and enjoy being newlyweds. When the time comes that we want to start a family we can explore our options then." Pam moved into Clark's lap and kissed him deeply. She pulled back, gazed into his eyes and brushed that errant lock off his forehead. "I love you for you. Don't ever think that I married you because you could give me children. You make me deliriously happy just being my husband and if we are to be blessed with children then so be it."

"I love you too Pam, so very, very much. If I've learned nothing else in life, I've learned that being a father is more than biology. My dad is the best father I know but we share no blood. If it turns out I can't give you children the natural way I'd love to adopt. After all, look how well it turned out for me." He smiled and this time there was no sadness in his eyes.

"I think adoption is a wonderful option Clark. I don't know why I say this but I just have a feeling that things will work out for us. For now though let's forget about children. We've discussed it and we agree on our feelings and our options. That's all I wanted to accomplish when I started this conversation. Now, if you don't mind I'd like to get back to being a newlywed." She followed up with a smile and a quick kiss.

"Oh, and what would you like to do my sexy wife?"

"I can probably think of something. Come here and kiss me."


Clark won his second Kerth award that year and his star rose a bit higher at the Tribune with each award and each high quality story he submitted. Pam was a good reporter; however she also knew she'd never be one of the 'greats' like her husband. There was no jealousy between them because of their love for each other.

Over the last year Pam discovered that she had a talent for editing. Periodically she had been asked to fill in for various editors around the paper covering vacations and sicknesses as they arose. She decided that she'd like to make a shift in her career and one night at dinner she presented her idea.

"Clark, I have something I'd like your opinion on."

"What is it, honey?"

"You know how I've been covering for some of the editors when they take vacation or are sick?"

"Yes, I miss you in the bullpen when you're doing that but I know John appreciates the help."

"Well that's what I want to talk about. There is an opening for assistant-editor coming up with Sonia Gross retiring and I'd like to apply for it. What do you think?"

"Hmm, I'll sure miss you in the newsroom, but I suppose I'll survive your absence," he said with a grin.

"Oh thank you honey! I knew you'd understand!" Pam slipped into Clark's lap, kissing him thoroughly.

"Gee, if I had known it would make you this happy I'd have suggested it myself."

"You knew I wanted to edit?"

"I've noticed how you talk about it when you had the chance, how excited you were and how much you seemed to love it. It's not for me, but whatever makes you happy makes me happy." He kissed his wife again, raising both their body temperatures.

"How about we have dessert in the bedroom, Mr. Kent?" Pam seductively stroked his cheek with her finger.

"You're on, Mrs. Kent! I'll race you!"

"No cheating Clark, ooh!" Pam said as Clark took off at super speed. "You never let me win!" 'Of course I do love how he treats the loser!'


Life was good for Pam and Clark. Pam had been assistant-editor for two years now and was being groomed by John as his successor when the time came. Clark continued to earn the accolades of his peers and the management of the Tribune. He was one of the most respected print journalists in the city. They now felt that they were firmly established in their occupations and could explore their options for having a family.

Pam accepted the possibility that there might not be any natural children in their future so they again discussed other options like adoption or artificial insemination. As they became more serious in their discussions, and since she still held out hope of having Clark's children, she convinced him to have some tests to determine if it would be possible for him to impregnate an Earth woman.

She did some research and came up with a name of a theoretical biologist who also had a medical doctor background. He had been working in Metropolis but had recently transferred to the Chicago office of STAR Labs. STAR Labs was relatively new in Chicago and Dr. Bernard Klein was its top scientist. She felt that with his background he could be the man they needed to perform the tests on Superman.

Clark was, understandably, reluctant to approach the scientist. Pam knew all about Clark's fears, so she understood where he was coming from. She also knew he wanted children as much as she wanted to bear his children, so she'd just have to convince him.

One day soon after their last conversation, Superman made a stop at STAR Labs and asked to speak to Dr. Klein.


"Superman!" Dr. Bernard Klein extended his hand in surprise. "To what do I owe this honor?"

Superman returned his handshake. "Dr. Klein, I'm pleased to meet you. I've heard very good things about you. This is a bit awkward for me, but I've done some research and I feel you may be the man to help me."

"How can I help you, Superman?"

"As you may know I'm the last survivor of my race and while it doesn't happen often I have run into medical issues that have caused me trouble. To be blunt Dr. Klein, I need a family doctor. Someone I can come to if I need medical advice or treatment."

"But, why me, Superman?"

"I chose you because of your reputation as a scientist and because you are known for your ethics. Obviously everything I tell you is very confidential, even beyond the usual doctor/patient confidentiality."

"I understand completely, Superman."

"Some of the things I'll tell you, or things you could discover, may be life threatening to me, and to be honest, to you too. Certain people would be very interested in this information so no one must know the exact nature of our relationship," Superman paused. "I'm asking you if you would take me on as a patient."

Dr. Klein thought for a minute. While he hadn't done any medical work in quite some time, the opportunity to examine Superman was too good to pass up. He'd always admired Superman for the good he did for the world and he felt honored that Superman would come to him for help.

"I want you to know that I have lousy bedside manner, Superman. I'm sometimes blunt or nervous regarding a patient's condition. Also I haven't practiced medicine in a few years, though I do keep up with the field to maintain my certification. If you can live with those limitations then I'd be pleased and honored to be your doctor." Klein extended his hand again.

Superman smiled and shook the doctor's hand to seal the deal. Klein had never seen Superman smile like that before; he rarely ever smiled in the photos he'd seen. It made him proud that he could please this man who did so much for others.

"OK Superman, the first thing I need to do is get a baseline on you. Do you have time to take some tests and be examined today?"

"Yes Dr. Klein I do. Thanks again, for everything."

"You're very welcome Superman, very welcome indeed. Now let's get started shall we?"


Clark made many trips to STAR Labs before Dr. Klein had completed all the tests he needed to get a baseline on Superman's vital statistics and his general health. The blood tests were always the hardest because they involved the use of Kryptonite, which made the tests very problematic. The doctor came up with a solution that worked reasonably well with minimal discomfort and minimal loss of Superman's powers.

They used a lead lined room with a small opening that contained a lead/rubber sleeve that Superman put his arm through. Dr. Klein would enter this room with the sample of Kryptonite he used for experiments, and, with minimal exposure, he was able to draw his blood samples. Superman had a very minor reaction due to the limited exposure and was completely recovered, usually in half an hour, though his powers were never totally gone at any time.

It was at the end of one of these visits that Superman asked the question that was foremost on Clark and Pam's minds.

"Dr. Klein?" Superman asked carefully. "Have you enough data to be able to tell if I could father a child with an Earth woman?"

Dr. Klein paused to ponder the question. "I've never considered it. Let me think, I believe I do but if that is something you're really interested in knowing I believe one more test is necessary."

"I am interested in that doctor. Since I am the last of my kind, the only way to perpetuate my species is with a human female."

"Do you have a girlfriend Superman? Are you using protection now?"

"There is someone special and, yes, we are using protection, just in case. I want to be sure that not only are we compatible for procreation but that she would be safe in the event she became pregnant."

"I understand completely and knowing you, your concern for your partner is to be expected. I'll need a sample to complete my last test then."

"All right doc, you get the Kryptonite and I'll roll up my sleeve."

"Ah, Superman?" Bernie said a bit embarrassed. "That's not the kind of sample I need."

"Oh, OH! Sorry Dr. Klein, I misunderstood what you needed. Where do you want me to go?"

Klein handed him a specimen bottle and pointed to the bathroom down the hall. "You can use that restroom right there."

"Thank you." Superman made his way to the little room to produce the sample that could change the future for himself and his wife.


The Kents waited patiently for Dr. Klein to get back to Superman with his results. Klein had said, because of the delicate nature of the tests and the need for extreme secrecy, he was going to be performing the tests during off hours, and he was going to do each test twice to ensure an accurate result. This made the time needed to complete the testing somewhat longer than would normally be the case. Klein told Superman to come back in two weeks and he would give him the results then.

The two weeks were up the next day, and Clark and Pam were nervous about the results.

"Well honey, tomorrows the big day. Superman has an appointment with Dr. Klein at 10 am. What if…"

"Clark, no what ifs." Pam said trying to calm her worrywart husband. "We wait to hear the results before we drive ourselves crazy. I have confidence in us, Clark. You are more human than any man I know and your other tests show that you are mostly within human normal as well, why would this time be different?"

"I don't know, honey. I just want this so badly that I don't want to be disappointed. I don't want to disappoint you."

"Clark Kent, you have never and could never disappoint me!" She looked directly into his eyes, her determination obvious. "We've talked about this; I knew what I was getting into. If we can't have children together then we can go the adoption route, it worked pretty well for a certain man from Kansas if I recall."

"Yes it did. Thanks for reminding me, honey, what would I do without you?"

"You're never going to find out, baby. I'm going to be here with you forever." With that she kissed him enthusiastically and they practiced their procreating technique well into the night.


Superman arrived at STAR Labs at 10 am sharp, his nervousness over the test results obvious in his face and posture. It was plain that Superman was a man where it counted; he worried like all the rest of us.

"Good morning Dr. Klein. Do you have the results of the tests?"

"Yes I do, Superman, and the results are so interesting. I've compared the Kryptonian genome with the human one and cross- referenced the reproductive enzymes—"

"Dr. Klein, please! I'm nervous enough as it is, could you get to the point?"

"Sorry Superman. I have warned you about this. I told you I have a lousy bedside manner and I get wrapped up in the scientific side—"

"Doctor Klein," Superman pleaded "the results, please?"

"I did it again didn't I? Yes, the results. I have determined that you are compatible with a human female for reproduction, and carrying the pregnancy to term should have no ill effects on the woman. Congratulations Superman."

Clark had to sit down. He was compatible with a human female. He was compatible with *Pam*! They could have children together! He had never believed it could be true. It was his fondest dream to have a child, to be able to teach him or her all the things his dad and mom had taught him. He could father a child! He wouldn't be the last of his kind anymore. Some piece of Krypton and Jor-El and Lara would live on through him and Pam. This had to be the happiest day of his life since the day he got married.

"Superman, are you all right?" Klein said concerned. "You don't look well."

"Huh? Oh yeah, I'm fine. Shocked I guess, I never thought this could happen. I never thought the tests would be positive. She was right, I am a worrywart."

"Who's right Superman? Your girlfriend?"

"My wife. She told me not to worry, that things would work out for us."

"You're married! Superman when did this happen? Does anyone else know?"

Clark realized he'd said more than he'd planned once he heard Klein's excited outburst.

"Yes, Dr. Klein, I'm married. No one else knows except you, and you can't tell anyone. You know it wouldn't be safe for her if people knew Superman had a wife."

"Please don't worry, Superman," he apologized. "Your secret is safe with me, you know that. I was just shocked that's all. You mentioned a girlfriend so I was surprised when you said 'wife'."

"Actually, Dr. Klein, I was already married the first day we met. My wife convinced me that I should have a doctor and for the need to determine if we could have children. You mentioned a girlfriend one time and I just never corrected you."

"No problem, Superman. The information made no difference in the tests. You've been the picture of honesty with me in that regard. Every patient has things they keep from their doctor and as long as they don't affect treatment I have no problem with that."

"Thanks for being so understanding, Doc. Is there anything else? I'd like to pass the good news along."

"No, that's all for now, and again, congratulations. I'm glad I could be of help."


Pam was on pins and needles as she waited for her husband to get back from his doctor's appointment. She sat at her desk editing copy for the next day's edition but not really getting much work done. She'd been assistant-editor for close to two years now and she loved the work. Reporting had been fun but she felt more fulfilled doing this and she was so glad Clark had supported her move, not that she'd ever expect him not to. He loved her more than anything, as she did him. He'd been so happy for her when she got the appointment. That night he'd taken her to Tahiti for a late dinner celebration. They had eaten at their favorite restaurant on the island and had a wonderful meal. They had continued the celebration later that evening in the privacy of their bedroom.

Her mind came back to the present, 'Where is that man! He knows I'm dying of curiosity!' As if summoned by her desire to see him Clark knocked on his wife's door and entered her office. She could tell nothing from his expression and the suspense was killing her.

"Well, speak up Kent! You can't keep me waiting forever!"

"The results are positive."

"Positive…" and her voice trailed off. Positive was good, right? Yes! Positive was good! "Clark you mean…?"

"Yes, baby, we can have children together," Clark said his voice choked with emotion.

"Oh Clark!" She ran to her husband and threw herself into his arms. Only his super-powers kept them upright.


John Barron heard a noise and a yell coming from the office next to his and decided to investigate. He walked around the door and saw Pam and Clark Kent in an embrace that shouldn't be happening in his newsroom.

"What's going on here!" he exclaimed, surprised at the display of affection taking place in front of him.

Clark and Pam broke their embrace, smoothed their clothes and turned red-faced toward their boss, looking distinctly surprised and uncomfortable.


"John!" They exclaimed together.

"Would you two care to explain what's going on here? You know I don't tolerate public displays of affection in my newsroom, even if you two are married."

"Sorry John," Pam said "but this was such a surprise for both of us we got lost in the moment."

"Well," John asked "Is someone going to elaborate?"

"We just received some wonderful news and we lost our heads." Pam said contritely. "Sorry about this John, it won't happen again."

"I see. Well, under the circumstances I'll let it go this time," he said with a wink and walked out the door.


"Clark, we have to tell our parents right now, you know they've all been waiting for the results. Though my mom has one grandchild already she wants more grandchildren. I saw how Martha looked at the last family get-together when she held our nephew. She wants a grandchild of her own to spoil. You go to the conference room and call your parents and I'll call mine from here. Come back when you're done, I want to treat my husband to lunch!" With that she pushed him out of her office and began dialing.



"Hi, Mom, it's me."

"Clark! You got the results?"

"Yes Mom I got them—"

"Hold on a minute, I want your father to hear this. Jonathan! Pick up the extension! Clark has the results!"

"I'm here. Go ahead, son."

"The test was positive! We're compatible!"

"Oh honey," Martha said with tears in her voice.

"Now, Mom, don't cry, this is good news!"

"Yes and these are happy tears. You leave me alone. At times like this I'm going to cry and enjoy it!"

"Congratulations boy," Jonathan said his voice choked with tears as well. "I'm happy for you two."

"Thanks Dad, we're so happy we don't know what to do!"

"I can think of one thing…"

"Jonathan Kent! I can't believe you said that!" Martha exclaimed.

"I meant he should take his wife out to celebrate. What were you thinking I meant, Martha?"

"I know exactly what you meant Jonathan but it was a nice recovery anyway! You still think fast on your feet."

"Thank you, dear," Jonathan said. "So what's Pam doing now Clark?"

"She's on the phone with Bill and Mary giving them the good news. Probably having the same conversation we are," Clark said. "I should get back to work. My wife has invited me out for lunch so we should get going."

"OK, Son. Thanks for the good news. You two are still coming for Sunday dinner right?" Jonathan asked.

"Wouldn't miss it for the world. We'll talk more about this then. Love you, bye."

"Bye, Clark," they said and hung up the phone.


At the same time Clark was talking to his parents Pam was talking to hers.


"Hi Mom!"

"Pam! It's so good to hear from you! I haven't been able to sit still all morning, please tell me you have good news!"

"Yes, Mom, I have good news. Dr. Klein confirmed what I already knew in my heart. Clark and I are compatible! Clark was so sure he wasn't because of his heritage but I just felt it. He's so human in all ways that it didn't seem possible that he couldn't be in this way as well."

"I know you did, dear, but I can see Clark's point. He's such a sensitive guy. I'm sure he didn't want to raise your hopes in case things didn't work out. He's probably thought about this for a long time and came to accept the possibility, but I sure am glad he was wrong. Of course you could have adopted or taken advantage of any number of other options, but being able to have your own natural children… well that's the best option and I'm glad that's open to you."

"Me too, Mom, me too."

"I'll call your father and give him the good news. I'm sure you have to get back to work. He'll be so happy for you. Call me when you have a bit more time to talk, OK dear?"

"I will, Mom. I'll try to call you this evening. Bye."

As Pam was hanging up the phone Clark walked back into her office.

"You ready to leave honey?"

"Yes, dear. Let me grab my coat then we can tell John we're leaving. You up for Subway?"

"That works. A quick sandwich sounds good, especially since I've got to be uptown by 1."

"OK, my sexy husband, let's eat!"


Pam Kent had been tired the last few days and generally not feeling well. She had mentioned to Clark that she had scheduled a doctor's appointment for that morning. He agreed that she should go, since there was a bug going around the newsroom. So it was that she found herself sitting in her doctor's examining room.

"All right, Pam, what's bothering you?" Dr. Alice Green asked.

"It's nothing specific, I've been really tired the last couple of weeks and I just feel blah. There is a bug going around the newsroom and I think I may have caught it, but I wanted to make sure."

"Let me draw some blood and run a few quick tests and I'll check your vitals while those are processing."

Twenty minutes later the doctor returned to the examining room with the results of the tests.

"Pam, I have good news. You don't have a virus or any type of illness, though you do have a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals. I'll be giving you a prescription for that."

"Then what's causing me to feel so rotten all the time? I can barely keep my eyes open at the office some days. I've been *so* tired."

"That's the other part of my good news. You're pregnant."


The doctor smiled indulgently. "Pamela Kent, you are one pregnant lady! Congratulations."

The words filtered into Pam's consciousness. Pregnant. The doctor said she was pregnant. They hadn't been trying that long. Could it happen that quickly? Obviously it did since she was certainly pregnant. Dr. Klein was right. Boy, were they compatible!

"Pregnant," she whispered.

"Yes, Pam pregnant, though you're barely far enough along for the test to show it. Your body must be very sensitive to the changes it is going through. I hope this is good news for you?"

"Oh, yes! It is it's just that we haven't been trying that long so I never suspected it could happen this quickly…. I'm pregnant! I can't wait to tell Clark!"

"Congratulations, Pam. I'm so happy for you. Here's the prescription for some prenatal vitamins and here's a list of OB-GYNs for you in case you don't have a doctor you prefer. If there is nothing else, you can get dressed now and congratulations again!" Dr. Green gave Pam quick hug before leaving.

Pam got dressed and started thinking of how she would tell her husband the good news. She'd wait until tonight. She didn't want to tell him at work. She wanted to be able to talk privately to Clark and the newsroom was not the place for that. She'd tell him after dinner tonight, before he left for patrol. She just hoped no emergency ruined her plans.


Clark had been out of the newsroom all day on various stories and minor Superman duties, so he didn't get back until late that day only to find that Pam had already left. She had left him a note that said her doctor's appointment went well, that she was not sick and that she'd see him at home. He was glad to hear that there was nothing wrong so with a light heart he finished up his articles and forwarded them to the night editor. Five minutes later he got word that no rewrites would be necessary so he grabbed his coat and headed to the elevators and home.


Twenty-five minutes later Clark walked in the door and was met by his wife who gave him a big kiss.

"Wow, to what do I owe this greeting, honey?"

"Nothing special. I just want to show my husband how much I love him."

"And I love you too," he said, and he kissed her again. "Umm! Something smells good. Is that pot roast?"

"Yes, I had a little extra time and I wanted to make something fancier tonight."

"Thank you, honey, but you didn't have to go to that much trouble."

"It's no trouble; I wanted to treat my husband that's all. Come, sit down, tell me about what kept you so late today."

Clark told her of his interviews and all the small Superman rescues that he'd attended that day. Pam made a quick mention of her doctor visit but gave no details. After dinner they were relaxing on the couch having dessert when Pam decided it was time.

"Clark, I have something to tell you."

"What is it, honey?"

"Don't worry, Clark. It's nothing bad so get that look off your face."

"Sorry, honey, now what did you want to tell me?"

"Clark, Dr. Klein was right, we're compatible. Sweetheart, we're pregnant."

Clark sat looking at his wife for what seemed forever but was only a couple of seconds then his eyes misted over and he smiled one of his megawatt smiles and said, "We're pregnant? Oh, baby, that's great! I never thought it could happen this quickly. We've only been trying for a few weeks!" He pulled his wife into his arms and his kiss told her how happy he was at her news.

As they broke apart Pam continued. "I know Clark. I never expected to get pregnant so quickly either! The doctor said my body must be very sensitive to the changes it's going through for the symptoms to show up so soon. Before you get all worried, there is nothing wrong. My doctor gave me a prescription for prenatal vitamins and I've scheduled an appointment for next week with my OB-GYN. I hope you'll be able to come with me?"

"Honey I wouldn't miss it for the world. Unless there is a major emergency, Superman is unavailable."

"Thanks, honey. I don't want you to not go to major emergencies but I would like you to let the normal agencies handle the routine stuff at times like this. You know I'd never interfere with your Superman duties. I know how much you need to do that, but I also would like to ask you to cut back a bit if you can so that you can enjoy this experience with me. I really want to share *all* of this with you!"

"I do too, baby, I do too. I want to experience everything. This is a dream come true for me. As I grew up and my powers started to appear I accepted that I was different and that the dream might not be possible. Once I found out I was from another planet I was sure that children were not in my future, at least not *my* children. Now that we're pregnant I *want* to be there for you and I will, barring major emergencies. And I promise now, the world could come to an end and I will be at your side for the birth! Nothing will keep me away from that!"

"Oh, Clark, I know you will." Pam smiled at him with tears in her eyes.


That weekend the couple made plans to visit their respective families to give them the good news. Julie and Greg lived in the city so they visited them on Friday evening. Since they were first to know they were sworn to secrecy. Pam and Clark wanted to tell each of their parents personally and not have them find out through other channels. Though it would be hard to keep quiet, Julie agreed and promised not to say anything to anyone.

Pam and Clark were seated in the living room of her parents enjoying coffee and cake. At a lull in the conversation Pam cleared her throat.

"Mom, Dad, we have some good news. Clark and I are pregnant!"

"Honey, that's wonderful!"

"Oh, Sweetheart!" Bill and Mary said in unison.

They got off the couch to embrace their children. Bill shook Clark's hand then pulled him into a hug. Mary hugged her daughter and said, "I'm so happy for you dear."

"Thanks, Mom, I can hardly believe it myself. I'm going to be a mother!"

They switched and Mary hugged Clark while Bill kissed and hugged his daughter. "I'm so pleased for you, Clark," Mary said.

"Thanks, Mary. This is so great. I'm overwhelmed but so happy I could burst!"

The rest of the evening was spent talking over Pam and Clark's concerns about parenthood with Bill and Mary imparting pearls of wisdom and general encouragement. The younger couple left that night feeling calmer than they had since they'd found out they were pregnant.

The scene the next night at the Kent farm mirrored that of the previous evening but for Martha and Jonathan the news carried extra significance since they, like Clark, had privately resigned themselves to the idea that Clark would be unable to father children. While the news of Clark and Pam's compatibility was welcomed there was still doubt in their hearts. This news put that last fear to rest and they rejoiced in the knowledge that not only would they soon be grandparents but their son had finally achieved his dream, a wife and family of his own.


As Bernard Klein had predicted, Pam's pregnancy was perfectly normal. Clark was as good as his word and attended every prenatal appointment with Pam as well as Lamaze classes, thoroughly enjoying every second of the pregnancy. Pam received constant support from Julie, Mary, Martha and her friends and she appreciated all of the advice she got as it helped to alleviate her normal fears and concerns.

Clark doted on her, as one would expect. He was now very glad that Pam had decided to switch from reporting to editing since his concern for his wife and child would have been exponentially greater if she were still chasing stories all over the city. Being assistant-editor allowed her to schedule her final work day for two weeks before the due date with her leave extending for six weeks after the birth of the child.


John Barron rose from behind his desk and walked to his door. He scanned the newsroom looking for his star reporter. Spying him sitting at his desk he walked over to Clark's desk.

"Clark, I've got an assignment for you. Please come to my office." He returned to his office and sat down. When Clark arrived he motioned for him to close the door and sit down.

"What is it, Chief?"

"Clark, I'm sending you to Metropolis."

"What is so important that you need to send someone from here?"

"Lex Luthor has been arrested." John said. He paused and looked over his desk at his best reporter. Clark was visibly stunned as he digested the news. He'd sat back in his chair and ran his fingers through his hair. He broke out of his reverie and addressed his boss.

"When did this happen? I haven't seen anything on the wires."

"I've got an old friend in the Metropolis Police Department who just called. They arrested him less than an hour ago. The interesting part, and the reason I'm sending you, is his wife was instrumental in his arrest."

"Lois? Lois was involved with Luthor being arrested?" Again, Clark seemed stunned by the news.

"Yes. The details are real sketchy, but it seems that she's involved in some way. I know she was your partner years ago and I'm counting on you to get us the inside scoop. Here's a folder with everything I have so far." John pushed the file over to Clark and sat back in his chair and studied the younger man. Clark paled as he read the material. His color was almost white and he wondered if the younger man might faint. "Clark, you don't look well, are you going to be all right?"

"Sorry John. This is quite a shock. I'll be OK, just give me a minute."

"I want you to get an interview with Lois Luthor. I don't care how you do it, just do it. I want you on a plane first thing in the morning; the tickets are already waiting in travel."

"But, John! Pam's due in a few weeks! I don't want to be out of town on an extended assignment right now!"

"I know she's due soon, but not for almost two months. I want you to get me the good stuff right now. I want all the juicy details that no one else can give me. I also want you to lay the groundwork for the next person I send. They'll cover the pre-trial events and the trial itself. I need you on this Clark, don't let me down." John eyed Clark carefully.

Clark leaned toward his boss's desk and ran his hand through his hair again. He paused and sighed before replying. "All right, John. I don't like it, but, I'll do it. Is it all right if Pam and I leave now so I can have some time alone with her before the flight leaves? I'll make my calls from home if I have to."

"That's fine Clark. Don't worry. You won't have to be there any longer than absolutely necessary, I promise," he said sincerely. "I'll make sure Pam is taken care of while you're gone. If it will make you feel better I'll even let her work from home a few days a week if she wants to."

"I don't think that'll be necessary John. Pam would have a fit if she knew I'd asked for special treatment for her. She can take care of herself. I worry, that's all. I hear it's called for in the new fathers' manual," he chuckled though there was little humor in it.

"I know how you feel, Clark. I remember my firstborn. I was a nervous wreck those last couple of months. About drove Kelly crazy. Now get out of here and take your wife home. The plane leaves at seven from O'Hare. Call me when you get in with the details you have so far. I want daily reports directly to me besides what you send in. I also want to know anything breaking as soon as it happens, night or day! This is the biggest story to come down the pike in years and I want to be all over it like white on rice!"

Clark stood and walked to the door. "You got it, Chief. I'll get you an angle no one else can."

"That's why I'm sending you. I'm counting on it."


Clark walked next door to his wife's office but she was not there. He sat down to wait and familiarize himself with the file John had given him. The news was so much of a surprise that he hadn't more than glanced at it earlier.

Lex Luthor had been arrested for murder and was under investigation for an ever growing list of crimes. It seemed that his wife, Lois Luthor had directed the police to critical evidence against her husband, leading to his arrest. His top employees, Nigel St. John and Mrs. Julia Cox, had been arrested as well. Mrs. Cox was cooperating with the district attorney's office, probably hoping for a reduced sentence.

As Clark finished reading the background information he'd been given, his thoughts drifted to his coming meeting with Lois. While he waited for Pam, he decided to make a call and try to set up the all important interview with Lois Luthor.

"Hello LexCorp, how may I direct your call?"

"Hello, my name is Clark Kent, I'm a reporter with the Chicago Tribune. I'd like to schedule an appointment to interview Mrs. Luthor please."

"Hold please while I connect you to her private secretary," the operator said.

'Private secretary, hmm, boy that doesn't sound like the Lois I knew.'

"How may I help you Mr. Kent?" the secretary said.

"I'd like to schedule an appointment to interview Mrs. Luthor regarding the arrest of her husband please, Ms… ?"

"Jackson. I'm sorry but Mrs. Luthor isn't granting interviews, I'm sure you can understand given the circumstances."

"I understand perfectly Ms. Jackson, but I'd like to ask you to reconsider. You're probably not aware of this but I worked with Mrs. Luthor at the Daily Planet. I can assure you, and her, of a fair interview, she is aware of my reputation. I'm sure you're both concerned with her public image and I can tell you that ignoring the press totally is not going to help. This would be an excellent opportunity to present her side of the story in a neutral forum. This won't be a puff piece I assure you, but neither will it be a hatchet job. Please ask Mrs. Luthor if she would be willing to speak with me."

There was a short pause then Ms. Jackson said, "All right, Mr. Kent, I'll pass along the request. Is there a number where you can be reached?"

"Yes. You can reach me at the Tribune at 312-555-7878 or you can reach me on my cell phone at 773-555-4121." At that moment Pam Kent walked back into her office. Clark motioned her to a chair as he finished his call. "Thank you Ms. Jackson. I hope to hear from you soon." He hung up the phone and walked over and hugged his wife.

"What was all that about?"

"John is sending me to Metropolis on a story. I leave tomorrow at seven from O'Hare. I came in here to tell you but when I saw you weren't here I decided to get a jump on some calls."

"Oh, honey. How long will you be gone?"

"John estimates two weeks—"

"Two weeks! Clark why does it have to be now?"

"This is huge, honey! Lex Luthor was arrested about an hour ago. His two top confidants have been arrested as well and one is trying to cut a deal already! On top of that Lois was involved in getting the goods on her husband."

"Oh my God. No wonder John wants to send you. You have the inside track to Lois."

"You've got that right. He gave me my marching orders not fifteen minutes ago. I'm to bring him the stuff nobody else can get. I suppose he's right, I don't think anyone else could get an interview with her."

"Have you talked to Lois yet?"

"No, not yet. That was the call I was on when you came in. I spoke to her secretary. She's going to talk to Lois and get back to me."

"Don't worry, sweetheart. I know she'll agree. Who else could she talk to that would be as fair as you?"

"I agree. I wonder if she's changed much over the years. It would seem that she hadn't given up on investigating so at least that much hasn't changed. I just wonder if she's still the same person, inside. I would think that she'd have to be affected negatively after living with Luthor all that time. I don't see how anyone could not be affected." He still held his wife in his arms and he squeezed her tighter. He bent his head down and kissed the top of her head.

"I bet you'll be surprised, honey. If she was involved in bringing him down I think she's probably very close to the same person you knew and worked with. People don't change that drastically unless something major happens to make them do so. I assume that something she saw or heard from her husband or his employees piqued her interest and her old instincts kicked in. Once that happened I don't think anything she might have gone through would have made much difference. She does seem to be a remarkable woman. I hope I can meet her some day."

"John gave us the balance of the day off so we can have some time alone and so I can get packed and ready. I gave Lois's secretary my cell phone number so she can contact me. How about we get out of here?"

"Let me get my coat and purse and we can continue this discussion at home."


Pam and Clark were both quiet on the ride home. Clark was reading his file leaving Pam to her thoughts.

'Why did this have to happen now! God, here I am 7 months pregnant. I waddle when I walk and I haven't seen my feet in weeks. Clark's been great, he tries so hard to show me how attractive I am but how can I be? I'm fat, I'm irritable, and I have to run to the bathroom every 15 minutes! We can't even have sex very often lately. Now my sexually frustrated husband is going to be away for at least two weeks and will be 'interviewing' his sexy, *thin*, old flame! What am I going to do?'

**You know Clark loves only you!** her conscience said vehemently.

'I know but men do stray when their wives are pregnant and now he's going to be in forced company Lois, who is beautiful, sexy and in need of comforting. Clark is so empathetic, he'll want to comfort her, I know he will. What if he hugs her and she can't control herself? Even Superman is only so strong!'

**You are being so unfair! Lois hurt him! He carried that hurt for two damn years! Do you really think he'd go back to her after that?**

'I don't know! I want to believe he won't, I really do. I trust him but I don't trust *her*. She's rich, beautiful and she's going to be available soon! She might realize she gave up a good thing and go after Clark! God, I can't lose him, I just can't!' She could feel tears welling up in her eyes and squelched them quickly. She couldn't cry now, Clark would ask why and she couldn't tell him she doubted him. It would hurt him so much.

**See, you've made my point! If Clark knew you doubted him like this he'd be devastated. He loves *you*. He fell in love with *you*. You're having *his* child! Clark would not do that to you, no matter how attractive or seductive Lois might be.**

'I'm being hormonal again, I know that. I've got to get my feeling under control. I'm just feeling sorry for myself. Clark *loves* me and that's all there is to it. I need to stop borrowing trouble and trust my husband, and I will,' she resolved. With her emotions a little more under control she watched the buildings pass by her window as the train made its way to their stop.


Pam made dinner while Clark worked on his interview questions and notes. His head was down and he wrote furiously. She turned back to her pots and began stirring the sauce she was making for the spaghetti.

"Pam? Could I ask you a question?"

"Of course, honey. What's up?"

"Back in the office you said you wanted to meet Lois one day. Did you mean that? Wouldn't you be uneasy meeting her? Knowing how I felt about her, I mean. Aren't you concerned about me meeting her after all these years?" She could see that he was bothered asking her these questions.

"Yes, Clark, I'd like to meet her some day. She was a legend in the news business so why wouldn't I want to meet her? As to being concerned with you and her meeting, I was at first but now I'm not. I know you, Clark. I love you more than anything. I also know that you feel the same way about me. You are a one woman man. You can only give your heart to one woman at a time, and I am that woman.

"You gave your heart to Lois back then. I know that. I also know that, for whatever reason, she gave it back to you. That hurt you very badly. After that you kept your heart protected, not trusting any woman for a long time. I could see then that you had been hurt but I wasn't aware of the depth of that hurt until much later. Slowly you learned to trust again.

"You gave your heart to me, Clark. You'll never know how much of a gift that is. I treasure that gift every day. I also know that once I gave you my heart you cherished it as well.

"We've grown to love each other, Clark. It didn't happen magically. I think that makes our love stronger because it was built block by block into the strong entity it is. You could no more hurt me by getting involved with Lois than I could do that to you. I know my husband and I'm secure in his love. If that isn't enough I know that the father of my child would never do anything to hurt me. There is no concern now on my part about your meeting with Lois Lane."

The look on Clark's face pleased Pam very much. Her speech had touched his heart, as she knew it would.


Clark stared at his wife in awestruck silence. Pam was such a wonderful person. What had he ever done to deserve her love? She had convinced him of her confidence in him and in her security as his wife, the love of his life. She really did know him, he thought. While he'd always have fond feelings for Lois he wasn't in love with her any more. He had long ago come to the conclusion that she loved another.

Even now, when it seemed obvious that if she had ever loved her husband, she no longer did, Clark did not harbor secret feelings of reconciliation with Lois. Those thoughts never crossed his mind. The first thing he had thought, when John had told him of Luthor's arrest, was how badly he felt for Lois and wondering how she was coping. He knew she hated being the subject of gossip, and this situation had to be hurting her deeply.

None of that affected his love for Pam. He was married to a woman who showed him every day how deeply she loved him. She was carrying *his child*. She was right about Lois, too. For whatever reason, Lois had rejected Clark's heart and he had given it to Pam without reservation. He was filled with love and pride for his wife, and he was humbled that she knew him so well.

He rose from his chair and moved to take his wife in his arms. Pulling her into his body required more care lately as her stomach made it difficult to get as close as they both liked. He gently held her to his chest and basked in the love he felt. He tipped her head up and kissed her deeply.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, honey. I'll never violate your trust in me. So many women could be jealous or have nagging doubts about their husband meeting with an old flame. You have shown me that you are a rare woman and I love you all the more for it." He brought his head down and captured her lips again before releasing her.

"You are the rare man, sweetheart. There aren't many men who inspire that level of trust in their wives. In my current condition I'm not feeling very attractive in spite of how often you tell me I'm beautiful. If you were almost any other man I might have been concerned or at least worried privately, but I'm not. Now, why don't you go back to your notes and let me get back to making dinner."

Clark kissed Pam one more time, very sweetly then released her. He sat back down and worked on his notes.


Later that evening Ms. Jackson called and told Clark that Mrs. Luthor had agreed to an interview. A time was agreed upon for the next afternoon at Clark's hotel. Lois's secretary had made arrangements for a private meeting room to be available. He sent his confirmation in an email and he continued to prepare for the interview.

The next morning Clark boarded the flight for the trip to Metropolis. He spent his time reviewing his notes and thinking about his wife. He hoped he could wrap up everything John wanted in less than two weeks. The flight attendant's message that they would be landing soon pulled him back to the present. The interview was scheduled for two pm. He'd arrive in Metropolis around ten; he should be to his hotel by eleven which left him about two and a half hours to go over his notes and questions one more time. He settled back in his seat and prepared for landing.


Clark had just arrived in his room and setting his suitcase on the bed, picked up the phone and dialed.

"Chicago Tribune, Pamela Kent speaking."

"Hi, honey, I'm here."

"Hi, honey, I miss you already. It's a good thing you're able to see me every night. I'd hate it if you were really stuck there for two weeks."

"Don't worry, honey. I'll be stopping by to check on you while I'm out on patrol. I miss you too you know and I couldn't make it two weeks either.

"I just wanted to check in. I'd better hit my notes one more time before this interview. I also have to call John so I'd better go. I'll see you tonight or if something comes up I'll be sure to call. You're going to be at Julie and Greg's tonight right?"

"Yes, dear, I'm going for dinner then Greg is bringing me home around nine. See you tonight, love you!"

"Love you too!" He pressed the switch hook so he could call his boss.


Clark was in the small meeting room by 1:45 pm waiting for his interview. Management had arranged for a room out of the way and as close as possible to the rear entrance. It made it as easy as could be for Lois to enter the building without drawing undue attention, but given her situation that was all relative. Hotel security was available to discourage any overly-enthusiastic members of the press who might have become aware of the meeting.

At 2:05 the door to the room opened and in she walked. If he'd once thought he was totally over her he now knew he was wrong. Just seeing her after all this time still took his breath away. She was beautiful, probably more beautiful than the last time he'd seen her. She seemed so confident in spite of her current situation. He admired her ability to remain above the fray and not fall apart. He knew he'd been wrong about her; she'd always be Lois Lane and her time in Luthor's world hadn't changed that.

He supposed she'd always have some effect on him, but facing her, he now knew he could deal with it. He still felt love for Lois, but he was no longer *in love* with her. He was in love with his wife and always would be. She was the one who'd supported him after his rejection by Lois. She'd become the kind of friend he'd not been able to be with Lois because of both of their hang-ups. They'd both made mistakes, he understood that; he also knew it was way too late to consider all the things each had done wrong. All they could do now was to remain civil and try to regain some of the friendliness they'd had and move on.


Lois stepped into the small meeting room after her mad dash down the narrow corridor. She was thankful for her secretary's foresight in reserving a room so far from normal business activities in this hotel. She turned and saw him for the first time since her wedding. Was it really that long ago? It didn't seem that long. He'd not aged a day, not one extra pound was on that magnificent body. 'Whoa, don't go there, Lois. He's a married man now, and you're a married woman, though that will change once the lawyers got going.' She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath to calm her nerves. She walked slowly to one of the chairs Clark had placed near the center of the room and stopped as she got next to him. She extended her hand.

"It's good to see you, Clark, how have you been?"

Clark shook her hand and felt the tingle she always felt when he touched her. He released her hand and pointed her to a chair.

"I've been well, Lois, and you? Ignoring the present situation of course."

"Of course. I've been well, thanks for asking. I appreciate you calling for an interview, Clark. I've been hounded by members of the press ever since word of Lex's arrest came out. The problem is if I was still in the business I'd be one of those doing the hounding," she chuckled humorlessly.

"No, Lois, you wouldn't be like them, you never were. You had ethics and principles. While you would have done everything you could to get the story, it would have been a fair story. I'm not sure I can say that about your former 'colleagues'."

"Thanks, Clark. Your opinion of me was one of the main reasons I agreed to this interview. You always thought very highly of me when I was a reporter. I've seen that you've maintained that high ethical standard at the Tribune, so I knew I'd get a fair shake and that's all I'm asking, a chance to tell my story."

"That's what I'm here to offer, Lois, could we get started?"


"What led you to suspect your husband was involved in something illegal?"

"It wasn't any one thing, Clark; it was many little things over quite some time. It started with a feeling, nothing more. At first everything was great. He'd shut me out of his business dealings but I wasn't concerned as I was still getting used to my new life. Lex got me involved in his charity work. I'm on the board of just about every charity he contributed to. We also had a full social calendar so there wasn't much time to get suspicious of what he did in his business.

"The first hint I had that something wasn't quite kosher came when I overheard a conversation between Lex and Mrs. Cox. I had just walked into the outer office as she was entering the opposite door that led to Lex's private office. I don't know if the change in pressure affected it but his door didn't close tightly. You know I can't pass up a chance to listen in, so I sat in the chair closest to the door to wait and strained my ear to hear. I didn't expect to hear anything, and it would have been embarrassing to get caught listening, so it was a good compromise.

"Mrs. Cox wanted to follow up on the status of something she called Project 'K'. Not knowing what that was I assumed it was some scientific effort Lex was funding. My ears perked up when Mrs. Cox asked about Superman."

Clark focused his attention even more pointedly now. What could this Project 'K' have to do with Superman?

"Lex told Mrs. Cox that the urgency to develop Project 'K' further had been lessened by Superman's recent press conference. His decision to spend more time in other cities made it less likely that any intervention would be needed. He told Mrs. Cox that further experiments were being shelved and the specimen would be held in his personal safe until such time as it might be needed. Mrs. Cox exited the office then and found me sitting there. She looked at me kind of oddly until I told her I had just arrived. She looked relieved and announced me to Lex. I didn't have time to think about what I had heard nor did it make much sense. It still doesn't, truthfully. Henderson hasn't mentioned what he found in Lex's private safe so I don't know if whatever Lex had is still there."

Clark made a mental note to stop by and talk to Inspector Henderson as Superman. He needed to know if what he suspected Project 'K' referred to was true. He had always wondered what had happened to the sample of Kryptonite Wayne Irig had sent in for testing. It had disappeared at the time and had never made another appearance. He suspected that the missing piece would be found in that safe. Lois was continuing with her tale so Clark focused his attention on her.

"As I got more familiar with my charitable and social duties I had more free time. I waited a few months until people got used to seeing me around and I made sure to get friendly with all the people on Lex's staff that I could. I made it a point to stop by Lex's office at all times of the day, asking innocent questions, checking details, things like that. Lex was always accommodating and I think he got to look forward to my visits.

"It was during one of these visits that I saw something on his desk that looked out of the ordinary. I'd made it a habit of surreptitiously checking out his desk every time I visited, old habits are hard to break I guess. This time I saw something related to the Daily Planet. Of course that caught my attention. It had been quite a while since the Planet had been absorbed into LexCorp so there was no reason I could see why he'd have something like that on his desk.

"As we were talking I tried to read what it said but couldn't without arousing suspicion. Luck was with me though because Lex walked away for a bit to talk to Mrs. Cox privately. I looked quickly and saw that the document was a confirmation of an insurance payout on the Daily Planet. That, by itself, would not have aroused my suspicion except that it was from a company I didn't recognize and for an amount far greater than I knew the Planet had been insured for since Lex had showed me all of that when the decision was made.

"I wondered why Lex had another policy on the Planet and had not told me. With the amount of money I saw that had been paid out, the building could have easily been rebuilt and the business could have continued. It made me wonder why he felt he had to hide that from me. I'd never questioned anything about the shutting down of the Planet and now I felt betrayed, and you know how I feel about betrayal."

"I do, please, continue," Clark cringed inside as he thought about her statement. He still felt guilty for the way Superman had led her on without meaning to.

"I couldn't see any way to get a copy of the document at that time so I called the insurance company the next day pretending to be Mrs. Cox and requested a copy and a copy of the policy itself. I told them that another copy of the policy was needed for tax purposes and a notarized original was needed. The difficult part was getting them to send the papers to a different address, one that I controlled. I lucked out in that I was dealing with a secretary who didn't happen to know the address Lex uses for his business correspondence and she went along with me when I confirmed the address I wanted it sent to.

"Those papers were the start of my behind the scenes action to get whatever evidence I could get on my husband. I'd sneak looks into some files where I could get away with it and I had my secretary call others away from their desks so I could get other documents. Having a rich husband has its advantages, in that I had enough money in my private accounts to purchase some of the best spy equipment available. I was paranoid that Lex might be having me followed but I kept watch very carefully and I never saw anyone. I contacted Henderson for help from a prepaid cell phone I'd bought with cash and arranged for a dead drop to pass him information in case I was wrong about being followed. He purchased the spy equipment for me and passed it back through the dead drop.

"I must not have aroused Lex's suspicions because he never changed his operation nor did I detect a change in his treatment of me. I worked slowly and methodically letting months go by before passing along my information so that no one would become suspicious. It took almost four full years to get the goods, but I got them. Once I got enough information to get started to Henderson, he ran a parallel investigation. As he uncovered more items, he asked me to look for specific items some of which I could find, others I couldn't.

"It took over two months for Henderson to get a warrant because he had to check out the judge. He suspected, rightly as it turned out, that there was a mole in his department, so he kept the arrest a secret from everyone except his hand picked team. Fortunately, for all involved, the warrant was served without incident, including the arrest of Nigel St. John and Mrs. Cox." Lois finished her tale on a sigh.

"That's an amazing story, Lois. You were very brave to do that on your own like that. Living in the lion's den and maintaining the façade of loving wife. Maybe you should try acting next!" Clark smiled but there was admiration in his voice for her as well.

"Maybe I should. Lex never suspected me. He didn't know I was even involved until Henderson asked me if I was all right before they took him away."

"Lois, he's a very dangerous person, your life could very well be in danger!"

"Thanks for your concern, Clark, but Lex's cohorts are in jail and the other rats are running before they get caught in the trap. I do have security though, just in case. There is a bodyguard outside this door right now. I hate it but I have to be realistic too. You tried to warn me about Lex, but I wouldn't believe you."

"I'm not looking to say 'I told you so' Lois. I had no evidence to give you or I would have. All I had were vague suspicions and an uneasy feeling about him. While I wish you had believed me, I understand why you didn't. He was good at fooling people. Superman was suspicious of his involvement in those tests on his powers soon after he arrived, remember that?"

"I do, I remember you telling me that Superman felt he was being tested but no one was ever implicated."

"I didn't tell you this at the time, but you'll see why in a bit. Superman went to confront Luthor about the tests. He was sure Luthor was the only person who could be responsible, especially since people linked to LexCorp were involved in some of the incidents. He told me Luthor denied being involved at all and offered to help Superman track down the perpetrators. The whole time they were talking Superman listened to his heartbeat and respiration to see if he were lying. There was *no* change. The man was as calm as you and I are now. He had to be a pathological liar to be able to perform that way."

"He is, Clark, he is. You've only heard some of the charges against Lex. There are many more that will be announced in the next few days. There have been investigators and forensic accountants crawling all over the building looking for anything they can find. You can't print this until the authorities announce it, but Lex is implicated in at least twenty murders, most of them committed by Nigel, some by Mrs. Cox, if you can believe it, but all of them ordered by him. God, I was so stupid to fall for that man's line."

"No, Lois, in this case you have nothing to blame yourself for. He fooled everyone, even Superman to an extent, if you think about it. No one could prove *anything* against him, not until you became suspicious and started the ball rolling. You may not have realized his true nature when you married him but you were the cause of his downfall and for that you should be proud." Clark's admiration for her was evident by his smile.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Clark. Logically I agree with you. I just wish I'd had a clue sooner. So many things could be different now."

Hearing her voice her regret got Clark thinking of how different things could have been if Lois hadn't married Luthor. He didn't dwell on it long, however. He'd been over that ground years ago and felt no need to dredge all those feelings up again. "You have no cause for regret Lois, and I plan to tell my readers that when this article is published. You and Henderson, but mostly you, are the hero in this whole situation. No one who reads my story will be able to accuse you of complicity in any of Luthor's misdeeds."

"Thanks for your belief in me, Clark, you're still the best friend I've got but I also know that if I wasn't convincing our friendship would not matter."

"I'm glad you still consider me a friend Lois, even though we haven't had any contact these last few years. That's my fault to a great extent. If I was really a friend you getting married wouldn't have made a difference," Clark said sadly. He now regretted not maintaining some level of contact with Lois after her marriage. He might have been able to do something to help investigate Luthor if he had.

"I appreciate you taking the blame, Clark, but I understand now how you felt back then. I was angry with you for a long time. I mean, you come to my wedding then you leave town? That hurt me. I saw your byline at the Tribune soon after you left, so I knew where you went. But I refused to contact you since you were the one who abandoned me. As time passed and I thought about our last days together I understood I was part of the reason you left.

"I never meant to hurt you, Clark," she said sadly, "If I'd had any other way to contact Superman that didn't involve falling off a building I'd have done it, but I didn't. I can see how much that must have hurt you once I really thought about it. It must have seemed very cruel and heartless, especially considering what you'd just told me in the park. I don't blame you, Clark, I really don't. I hope that now we've had a chance to sit and talk we can be friends again. I'd really like that and I hope you do too."

"You're right, Lois, I was very hurt by that incident but I'm over it now. It was a long time ago. I realized over the years that holding on to the hurt was doing me no good, especially since I also came to the realization that I was not the only injured party. I've moved on. I've put that incident into perspective and in the grand scheme of things it's nothing that should stop us from being friends. I'd like to resume being friends again Lois; I'd like that very much."

"Great!" she said a smile lighting up her face. "Why don't we go some place for coffee and talk! We have a lot of time to catch up on."

"I'd love to, Lois, but given the situation a coffee shop might be too open. How about I order some coffee delivered here, we can talk and take our time."

"Clark, if you wouldn't feel too uncomfortable, could we take coffee in your room? I'm sure the chairs there are more comfortable than these and we can be more comfortable as well."

Clark blushed slightly at the shyness Lois was exhibiting. "Of course, I didn't suggest that because I didn't want to make you uncomfortable. Let's go upstairs and I'll order some coffee. Would you like anything else?"

"Well, now that you ask, some chocolate ice cream sounds really good right about now."

"Chocolate ice cream it is."


By the time Lois and Clark got to his room, the coffee and ice cream arrived seconds after they closed the door.

Lois sat on the couch and watched as Clark poured the coffee and fixed hers. After all this time, he still remembered how she took her coffee. He handed her the cup and saucer then the bowl of ice cream. She set the coffee down on the table and tasted the ice cream. It was heavenly. Sitting here, eating ice cream and having coffee with Clark transported her back six years to when this was a common occurrence. She was jarred from her memories by Clark's voice.

"How's the ice cream, Lois?"

"It's chocolate that makes it good. Thanks for inviting me up here, Clark. I don't know about you but I almost feel like six years haven't passed. Here we are in your living room, having coffee and ice cream, discussing a story. The difference is your living room is in a hotel and I'm the story!" Lois paused and studied her ice cream then continued. "I don't want to talk about that now however. We came up here to catch up on what's happening in our lives. Tell me what you've been up to if you would?" Lois hoped that by letting Clark talk for a while she would calm down. She was still very nervous being in Clark's room like this. Now that she was being honest with herself she was still very attracted to Clark. Sitting here looking at him, seeing how sexy he was, certainly wasn't helping.

"Where would you like me to start?"

"Tell me about working at the Tribune and just let it flow from there."

"All right. The Tribune is very different from the Planet. I work independently for the most part. John, that's John Barron my editor, doesn't believe in long term partnerships. The only time I work with a partner now is on very major stories."

"I did notice the byline was your name only. I'd wondered about that." She had wondered if he'd been down on having a partner after his experience with her.

"I missed working with a partner at first. We did some great work together. I got used to it quickly though. The biggest difference is I haven't heard one Elvis story at work in six years! I think I went through withdrawals the first month I was there," he chuckled.

Lois laughed heartily at Clark's comment. She missed Perry's stories too. Actually, she missed Perry. She'd have to get in contact with him again and maintain contact this time!

"Luckily I keep in contact with Perry so I get my Elvis fix," he laughed, "just not at the office."

Lois laughed along with Clark then asked, "I saw that you won a Kerth award this past year. I bet your boss loved that!"

"Oh he did. I did too, truthfully. There were some of my colleagues who thought I got my job only because of my work with you. That didn't last too long. My work proved why I got the job in short order. It felt good to win another one though. I wondered if the first one was luck or something like that. Now that I've won a second that last bit of doubt in myself has been laid to rest."

"You earned that first award, Clark. I know you earned this one too. You should never doubt your ability. You've come a long way, former partner." She sipped her coffee and smiled at him over the rim. He smiled at that comment. He was sitting back in his chair eating his last bit of ice cream. He looked good, calm and in control. She wished she felt half as in control. Even though she didn't want to she couldn't help asking the question she dreaded.

"So, Clark, I saw in the paper that you got married. How is your wife?" Lois sat forward on the couch and waited. She didn't know if she wanted him to be happy in his marriage or not. She felt guilty that she almost hoped he wasn't. Her faint hope was dashed when she saw the look of joy on his face at the mere mention of his wife.

"She's wonderful. She's a great person. She supports me in everything I do and by doing that she makes my life more fulfilled. Her beauty and charm made me fall in love with her. I thought the day that I married her was the happiest day of my life. Now that she's carrying our child I find I was wrong. The day she told me I was going to be a father became the happiest day of my life."

Lois was stunned. Her stomach felt as if she'd been kicked by a horse. Clark's wife was pregnant! Those were the last words she expected to hear come from his mouth. Not that it was impossible, of course. They had been married for two years or so. But a baby? Now? Why did his wife have to be pregnant? Her last fragile hope was now shattered. He was obviously head over heels in love with his wife that hurt bad enough. With her being pregnant she was in agony. Why had she not acted on what Clark was offering her all those years ago? She heard Clark talking and realized she had stopped listening some time before.

"Lois? Are you all right?" Clark asked, concerned. "You seem to be a million miles away?"

"I'm fine. I was just thinking. So when is your wife, Pam isn't it, due?"

"In less than two months. I'm hoping to wrap up my portion of this story soon so I can get back to her. She can take care of herself, but I worry."

"You always were a worrywart, Clark. She sounds like a wonderful person. I hope I get to meet her sometime."

"Pam said the same thing about you when she found out about our meeting."

"She did? Why would she want to meet me?"

"She used to be a pretty decent reporter before she moved into editing. She told me you were the best in the business and she'd love to meet you."

"Well, if she really feels like that I *have* to meet her. She sounds like my kind of woman!"

"I think you'll like her, Lois. She reminded me of you when we first met, not quite as intense, but you and her share a lot of common qualities."

Lois smiled slightly at Clark and his description of her and his wife. "You know, Clark, by the time Pam delivers the baby I think I'll be ready for a vacation. If you don't mind, I'd like to visit you and your wife. I'll bring a present for the baby and she and I can share Clark stories!" Lois giggled at the look of fear that passed quickly over Clark's face.

Clark smiled a genuine smile and continued. "That would be wonderful Lois. We'd be pleased to have you over. I'll mention it to Pam tonight when I call. She'll be excited to hear that you want to meet her."

"I do, Clark. Oh, look at the time. If you don't mind, I need to get going." She stood and picked up her purse, turning to face Clark who was standing as well. "I've got a meeting with the lawyers in less than an hour and traffic this time of day is horrendous."

"Of course not, Lois. I'm sorry. I didn't plan for this meeting to go this long. May I call you tomorrow? I'm sure I'll have some follow- up questions once more charges get filed."

"Here's my cell phone number." Lois reached into her purse and pulled out her business card. "You can reach me any time and you won't have to deal with Ms. Jackson. She's a great secretary but she can be over protective at times."

"Thanks, Lois. I'm glad we could have some time to talk. Here's my card, my cell phone number is on it. Please feel free to call any time you want to talk."

"Thanks, I will." Lois shook his hand, then left with her giant bodyguard in tow.


When Lois returned to her penthouse apartment her meeting with Clark played over in her mind. The meeting had gone better than she had expected. Clark had been very gracious to her, acting almost as if the intervening six years had never taken place. He had seemed to fall easily into the friendship they'd had, but there were differences as well. He had seemed… less attentive, somehow. He used to hang on her every word; at least it had seemed so to her back then, but that obviously wasn't the case now.

Also gone from his eyes was the devotion she had seen at the time. No matter how much she tried to ignore it, she was attracted to him and seeing that devotion in his eyes back then had been very exciting. She had enjoyed his attention to her, to the exclusion of all other women. Her thoughts drifted back to the year they had worked together at the Planet.

She'd originally thought he had fallen under Cat's spell, but Lois soon discovered that had not been the case. She had seen that other women at the Planet tried to get Clark's attention as well. Time and time again she would see them work to get his interest and would see them give up after it became obvious that he did not see them as more than friends. In spite of her efforts to dissuade him, his interest in her grew greater and greater.

Since she couldn't, or wouldn't, return his affections she had decided to enjoy them. She'd engaged in teasing banter with him. She had patted his chest, suggestively, it might be said. She had even taken his arm, many times, as they walked down the street. She'd felt free to do these things because it had been fun and it hadn't harmed anyone. She'd enjoyed visiting his apartment with pizza and a video and, if she were honest with herself, she'd gotten off on Clark's devotion. She'd assumed she'd have that devotion always, since he'd been smitten from the beginning.

Of course that was before Lex had upped the ante. That was before the destruction of the Daily Planet and her acceptance of Lex's proposal of marriage. It was before she had been so stupid as to ask Clark to have Superman stop by after they'd talked in the park that day. God, could she have been *any* crueler to him? Despite what she'd said at the time, could she have done any better job at tearing the man's heart out and stomping on it? She doubted it, but if there had been a way she was sure she'd have found it.

She felt she understood how Superman could act the way he had with her that night. After all Clark must have talked to him before their meeting in the park, probably many times, so he had to know from Clark's demeanor, if nothing else, that Lois had turned him down and then had asked Clark to have Superman come over.

The thing she had never figured out was the remark Superman had made about not believing her under the circumstances. After all this time that phrase never fit what had happened that night. Maybe someday she'd find out what he had meant. Of course the possibility of that was minimal since Superman wasn't in Metropolis much any more and they hadn't spoken in six years.

With Superman branching out to other cities Clark hadn't kept up with his Superman exclusives like he had in Metropolis. Maybe he wasn't in the right place like he used to be, or maybe Superman didn't want to be associated with one paper like he seemed to have been before. Come to think of it, Superman seemed a lot more aloof with the press now, if articles about him were any indication.

Clark had come to the wedding, at her insistence, though he hadn't wanted to be there. She'd looked at him as she'd walked down the aisle that day, and she'd seen the pain in his eyes but she'd dismissed it. She'd been happy that her best friend had been there for her on her wedding day. She had thought that he'd be able to move on if he saw that she was happy. She was in love with Lex; at least she'd thought she was at the time, though in reality she hadn't known what love was, not really, certainly not the kind Clark had wanted to offer her.

Lex had told her that he loved her. He had wanted to marry her. At the time when her world was crumbling Lex was her anchor. He'd offered her a good job. He'd taken care of the Planet's employees, as many as he could help. He'd done everything he could to make things right, at least she'd thought so, though that opinion changed later on too.

Her denial of Clark's love, his anger with her over her decision and Lex's continuous behind the scenes pressure helped to make up her mind to get married. To this day she still didn't understand all of the factors that had led to her decision. She could have done as Clark did and gotten a job at another paper—with her three Kerths she knew she could have. Clark had continuously refused her offer of a job at LNN and refused Lex's offer of help in obtaining a position. Clark had been too proud to accept Lex's help; at least she'd thought that at the time. Events had shown Clark's decision to be the right one, given recent developments. Instead she'd married Lex and they'd started their life together.

The wedding ceremony was the last time she'd seen Clark until today. He hadn't attended the reception; she'd looked for him specifically but he had disappeared. By the time she and Lex had returned from their honeymoon, Clark had moved away. At the time she hadn't known where he had moved but she soon found out.

She'd made sure to keep up with the news even though she was no longer in the business. One morning she'd picked up one of the many newspapers Lex read every day and there was Clark's byline. Clark had found a job at the Chicago Tribune. With his credentials, he'd have been able to get a position anywhere, credentials that were earned as her partner she told herself, as if that knowledge would make her feel better.

There he'd met a fellow reporter, a woman named Pamela Blake. He hadn't taken to her at first, not like he had to Lois. Of course some of that could have been him guarding his heart after what Lois had done to him, though she hoped that wasn't the case. They had been married in Smallville, a beautiful ceremony according to Martha, and they'd settled down to their married life.

Lois appreciated her talks with Martha. Soon after she'd got back from the honeymoon, Martha had called to wish the newlyweds well. At the end of that first conversation Martha had told Lois to call any time she wanted to talk. Over the past six years Lois *had* called and found Martha to be a good friend. They rarely talked about Clark during those conversations, sticking to generalities mostly, though items like the wedding were discussed when Lois brought them up. Mostly though, Martha treated Lois like any of her other friends. Even though Lois had broken her son's heart Martha remained friends with her.

Lois's thoughts moved to the last part of their meeting today. This part had hurt the worst of all. Clark had told her that he and his wife were expecting their first child in less than two months and that he missed her terribly. His assignment was planned for at least two weeks, so he'd have to be satisfied with nightly calls to make sure she was OK.

He'd told her that Pam was now assistant-editor, having changed from reporting a while ago. His obvious relief that his pregnant wife wasn't chasing criminals all over town was evident. She wondered if his comment had been a subconscious knock at her for her old tendency to get into trouble. She knew that if things had worked out differently she'd never have changed how she worked, pregnant or not, and she could imagine Clark thinking that as well.

Now, with Lex in jail, the waste that her married life had become because of her choice of mate washed over her in waves of remorse. She had no children, Lex hadn't been ready for them, thank God, and now it was too late. She had no husband, the man she'd married was in jail, but in truth he was no longer the man she'd married, or at least the man she thought she'd married. If convicted, and Lois had no doubt that he would be as the evidence was irrefutable, then Lex was sure to get life with no possibility of parole, which was the least he deserved.

She'd be filing for divorce soon. There was no way she could stay married once she'd found out how badly she'd been deceived. She didn't think she'd have any problems getting a judge to sign the decree. Now all she had left was his wealth, at least the part that would remain after all the criminal and civil judgments were rendered. She planned to make good to Lex's victims, especially to those who weren't able to prove damages in court but who she knew had been wronged anyway. At least some of Lex's money would be used for restitution.

The problem with being a rich divorcee was who to trust? She trusted Clark of course, even now, but that was not what she meant. Who could she trust with her heart? How could she be sure a man wanted her for herself and not for her money? Given her track record with men, she was reasonably sure that whoever she picked would *not* be someone to trust. Maybe she should just remain celibate, have nothing at all to do with men, and dedicate herself to philanthropy, the kind of philanthropy that Lex had only played at to enhance his image. Yes, that was probably the best thing for her to do. Men were nothing but trouble, all but one of course, and he was no longer available.

She'd wished him well and told him to call her when the baby was born so she could send a gift, maybe come for a visit, talk to his wife and tell Clark stories. Clark had blanched a bit at that, but recovered quickly and sincerely thanked her for her kindness, and he'd assured her he'd call. Since this was Clark, she was sure he would. She'd go too; she had to meet this woman who had won Clark's heart.

She had to see her and talk to her, if only to assure herself that Clark was being treated well, though if she was honest with herself she just wanted to see what could have been hers if she hadn't been so foolish in telling Clark she only loved him like a brother. Hell, she loved him more than that now, never mind back then. It had been her fears, her foolishness and her pride talking and there wasn't a day that she didn't regret those words.

But regret wouldn't change things now. She was strong. She'd get through this. Clark had expressed interest in keeping up their renewed friendship and she planned to maintain contact with him. He was going to be in town for the next two weeks or so. He'd probably want to interview her again once more details of Lex's crimes were released by the authorities. Of course she'd agree to any interviews Clark wanted, and she was also sure that they would spend time talking "off the record" afterwards.

She'd just have to make the most of the opportunity to meet with Clark while he was in town and hope he wouldn't mind the occasional call once he returned home. She also hoped her friendship wouldn't cause Clark problems in his marriage. She hoped his wife wasn't the jealous type, not that she had anything to worry about. If there was one thing she had learned from today's meeting, it was that Clark was in love with his wife and had no romantic interest in Lois.

A woman can tell when a man is interested in her and Lois knew Clark's signals, even after all this time. While Clark had been attentive and friendly the old "I'm attracted to you" signals were not there, not in the least. While she would never try to break up Clark's marriage she had hoped that some of the old attraction would still be there, if only to stroke her ego. The more she thought about it, she realized that she'd expect nothing less of Clark. It had taken her marriage to Lex, his marriage to Pam, and the investigation into Lex's crimes to make her realize that Clark Kent *wasn't* like other men.

While other men might harbor some romantic feelings for an old flame, Clark didn't. He still loved her, she could see that, but as a friend. He had tried to make Lois love him and had failed. He was now married and totally in love with his very pregnant wife. As she thought about it, she felt that she could understand a small portion of what Clark had gone through when she'd told him she loved him but as a friend. She felt hurt now that her love was not returned, at least a little bit, and that wasn't going to change.

She gazed at the clock, realizing she couldn't take any more time to lament her situation as she had a meeting with her lawyers coming up in a few minutes. She walked into her bedroom to freshen up and put on her "game face". She had to be ready for whatever would come next.


Clark sent his finished story to John and settled on the bed to think. The meeting with Lois had been… interesting. Even though he was sure he was over Lois he'd been concerned that being in close proximity to her would cause his old feelings to rush to the surface. When he'd touched her hand the old tingle was even there but it didn't elicit the same feelings it had all those years ago. Though he'd shown no outward sign, he was sure, he'd breathed a sigh of relief. Lois no longer affected him! After that epiphany the rest of the interview was easy. They'd settled into a very pleasant conversation, reminiscent of their conversations when working together. While that brought back warm feelings for him the old devotion he'd felt was nowhere to be seen.

He wasn't completely sure but he thought he'd detected signs that Lois might be interested in him, and that saddened him. What he wouldn't have given then to have her look at him like she did today. Her body language told him she was interested in him, though it may have been a subconscious reaction. Clark was interested in being Lois's friend now, nothing more. Thankfully she hadn't become more aggressive in her attraction; he'd have hated to have to turn her down. It would have embarrassed them both and killed any chance their renewed friendship might have had.

Once Clark told her of Pam's pregnancy the change in Lois was dramatic. Her body language was completely different. Her body went from telling him 'I'm attracted to you' to 'I'm glad you still want to be my friend'. They had parted friends again, and he hoped that this time they'd maintain contact. He planned to call her no matter what. He'd decide how serious she was by how she reacted to his calls.

He needed to get moving however. Her mention of 'Project K' made it imperative that he see Inspector Henderson immediately. He exited his room, took the stairs to the roof and, after assuring his privacy, spun into the Suit, making his way to the MPD precinct where Henderson worked.


Superman strode into the station house and approached the front desk.

"May I speak to Inspector Henderson, please," Superman said.

The desk sergeant looked up from his paperwork startled to see the red and blue clad hero. "Superman! Long time no see! Inspector Henderson? Let me see if he's available."

"Thank you, sergeant."

Minutes later Inspector Henderson walked to the reception area. "Superman, to what do I owe the pleasure," he said shaking the superhero's hand.

"Could we talk in private Inspector? There's a confidential matter I need to discuss."

"Certainly, Superman. Please come to my office." They entered the office and Henderson closed and locked the door behind him. "We shouldn't be overheard here Superman. I have the office swept for bugs daily."

"It's clean, I checked as well."

"Thanks, Superman, now what can I do for you."

"It has come to my attention that Luthor was working on something he called 'Project K', something he felt could be used as a weapon against me. I've been told that the item is in Luthor's private safe. Have you inspected it yet?"

"Not yet, Superman. I've had it sealed until I can have it examined."

"Would you be able to inspect it yourself? I want to minimize the number of people who know about this."

Henderson paused to consider the request. "For you I can. Care to tell me what I'm looking for?"

"I believe Luthor has a piece of Kryptonite in that safe," Superman said grimly.

"Kryptonite? I've heard rumors of it but I didn't think they were true."

"Oh it exists, believe me, Inspector. It is a very dangerous item for me. Luckily most people are like you and they don't think it really exists. I'm hoping it is in a lead box but it might be loose in the safe so I can't be with you when you open it. I have a sheet of lead foil that should cover it which I can give you later. Lead is the only element that protects me from Kryptonite."

"I understand Superman. If I find it what does it look like?"

"It's a crystal. It glows a sickly green, you can't miss it."

"OK, if I do find it what do you want done with it?"

"If it isn't in a lead case, wrap it up in the foil. Do you have a secure place to keep it until I contact you again?"

"Sure. I'll go over there and check right away. How about you meet me back here at 5:00 and I'll give it to you, if it's there of course."

"I'll see you at 5 o'clock."


At 5:00 on the dot Superman strode into the precinct. He waved to the desk sergeant on his way to Henderson's office. He knocked then opened the door. "Can I come in Inspector?"

"Please, and close the door behind you."

Superman closed and locked the door then took a chair. "Did you have any luck, Inspector?"

"I did." Henderson opened his desk drawer and removed a small metal box. "I found this just where you said it would be. I opened it to make sure the item was inside. No one but me knows it was there, or has been removed." He pushed the box toward Superman and then relaxed back in his chair.

Superman picked the box up off the desk and studied it thoughtfully. He returned his attention to the man across the desk. "Thanks, Inspector. I know you broke a lot of rules to get this for me and I appreciate it. If you ever need anything from me, you just ask."

"I'll do that, but how do I contact you now? I can't call over to the Daily Planet anymore," he smiled sardonically.

"I still maintain contact with Clark Kent, though not so obviously. You call him and I'll get the message."

"If you don't mind my asking, what do you plan to do with it?"

Superman scowled before he answered. "I was planning to launch it into outer space, but I'm going to give it to a scientist I've been working with. He's got a secure storage facility. He's been experimenting with an antidote that he has high hopes for. Thanks again, Inspector, I really owe you."

"No, problem, Superman, I'm glad I could be of assistance."

Superman stood, shook the inspector's hand and left the precinct.



The headline blazed across the front page of the Chicago Tribune the next morning. Clark had submitted the story soon after he had found out that something had happened at the jail. He had been able to get an exclusive quote from Inspector Henderson that had angered his colleagues and pleased his boss no end. Despite every effort by the police to control who came into contact with him, someone had smuggled cyanide to Luthor and he had used it to cheat justice. Luthor had railed to all who would listen that he would never live in a cage, and he had convinced someone to supply him with the means to make good his threat.

Clark was saddened by these circumstances. Despite knowing that Luthor was a criminal of the first order and deserved a life sentence, to never breathe free air again, he hadn't wanted him to die. Suicide was a waste of a life, even Luthor's. How was this new development affecting Lois, he thought? He set the paper down and picked up the phone. He wanted to talk to her, to see how she was handling the news. He hoped she'd allow him to be there for her and not see him as just another reporter out to take advantage of her.

He dialed her cell phone and waited as it rang.

"Lois Lane."

"Hi, Lois, it's me, Clark."

"Hi, Clark."

"Before you say anything, I'm *not* calling for an interview. I'm calling because I'm your friend. How are you holding up?"

Clark heard Lois sigh heavily.

"Thanks for calling, Clark. I need a friend right about now."

"Do you want to talk?"

"I'd like to, but not on the phone." Lois paused before continuing. "Would you mind coming over here?"

"I'll be over in twenty minutes, is that OK?"

"That would be wonderful. Come to the rear entrance, the pack of wolves you call colleagues are mostly camped out front. I'll have security watch for you and escort you in."

"Thanks Lois, I'll see you in a few minutes."

Clark hung up the phone, rode the elevator to the lobby and entered a cab waiting at the curb. Giving the driver the LexCorp address, he sat back to watch the city pass by. As much as he now loved Chicago, he still missed Metropolis, especially when he wasn't flying over the city. Here he could see, hear and feel the vibrancy of the city. The pace was definitely faster than he'd grown used to these last few years. Someday he'd have to take Pam here for dinner. He was sure she'd love to see some of his old haunts and eat in some of the best restaurants in the world.

His thoughts were interrupted by the driver pulling to the curb. The trip had taken less time than he'd thought, the cabbie probably made all the lights. Paying the driver, he made his way to the rear entrance. As promised, security was waiting for him and they escorted him into the building to the consternation of the reporters waiting on the sidewalk. Clark rode the private elevator to the penthouse. Exiting, he saw Lois waiting for him.

She ran to him and he took her into his arms holding her gently.

"Oh, Clark! I can't tell you how much this means to me. Thanks so much for coming."

Clark held her a little tighter as her shoulders shook with her tears. He stroked her hair while she cried, whispering nonsense phrases as he did so. Soon her tears were spent and she pulled back a bit to look into his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Clark. I don't even know why I'm crying. It's not as if I loved the bastard!"

"You lived with the man for six years. You had to have some feelings for him at one time. I'd hate to think that you married the man without ever loving him."

"Clark, I'm so confused. I've been investigating him for the past four years. In that time I've come to hate him for what he'd done to innocent people. With each crime I uncovered I could feel something inside me die. How could I have been fooled by that man! Me, who never trusts anyone! What's worse is he fooled me for the first two years of our marriage as well! Before we married I wasn't with him every day, but that changed. We saw each other day in day out. I slept with the man, for Gods sake! He still had me fooled as to his real self. The ironic part of this whole thing is if I hadn't seen that insurance policy I have to wonder if I'd have *ever* seen through him!" Lois broke down and cried some more, sobs wracking her body.

"Of course you would have, Lois. No one can fool you forever. He would have slipped up sooner or later, you have to believe that. In spite of your hatred for him you still have to grieve, even if you only grieve for the man who you thought he was and not the slime he turned out to be. You fell in love with an image that didn't exist and that hurts. Luthor's death only exacerbated those feelings," Clark held her loosely and rubbed his hand up and down her back.

Lois's sobs slowed then quieted. He continued to hold her as she calmed down. Finally he released her and directed her to a couch. Sitting down with her beside him he held her hand and stroked it with his thumb. She wiped the tears from her face with the back of her other hand and sniffled. Clark quickly took out his handkerchief and handed it to her.

"Thanks Clark, I really appreciate your support. I guess I did love him at one time but it's been so long since I've felt anything but loathing for him I've forgotten. I appreciate your faith in me but I don't know if I share your optimism. Lex was good. With everything I found out about him he never acted differently toward me. He still acted as if he loved me right up to his arrest." She sighed, "I really don't know if he would have messed up again."

Clark could see that her confidence was beaten and battered. He'd have to try to build her up very carefully. After all he didn't want to make her angry.

"I think you're being too hard on yourself, Lois. But I can see how you could feel the way you do. Give it some time. Think about what I've said. I'm sure you'll feel better about things once some time has passed." Clark spied a carafe of coffee with cups and saucers on the sideboard. "How about a cup of coffee, Lois?"

She heard his voice but it took her a few seconds to react. "That would be nice, Clark, thanks."

Clark fixed coffee for both of them. Bringing the two cups back to the couch he set his on the coffee table before handing one to Lois. Lois took a couple of sips then sat back, lost in thought.

Clark too sipped his coffee as he waited for her to talk. She looked so forlorn. He was at a loss as to how to help her. He'd love to be able to make this all go away but he knew that was impossible. All he could do was listen to her as she unburdened herself and offer what support he could.

After her coffee was finished, Lois started talking. She started slowly, then, as her confidence grew, the words flowed from her in a torrent. An hour and a half later Lois wound down and finally went quiet. All during her monologue Clark remained quiet, holding her hand and listening intently.

"Thanks for being here, Clark. I feel so much better. I don't have many friends, certainly none that I could talk to like this. After all that has come out about Lex, I wonder how many of my "friends" will even talk to me now. You and Martha are the only people who treat me like Lois Lane and not Lex Luthor's wife, and I'll never forget that. I'm so grateful that you're my friend."

Clark was surprised by Lois's last comment. She'd said his mother treated her like a friend. He didn't even know Lois and his mother talked to each other.

"You talk to my mom?"

"Yes. We talk quite often actually, given my busy schedule. She called to congratulate me after the wedding and we've maintained contact ever since. Hasn't she told you we talk?"

"No, she's never mentioned it. It doesn't surprise me though. She always liked you. She told me so after that first visit to Smallville. She considered you a friend then and she's not one to give up on her friends." Clark paused, embarrassed by his last statement. "Not like I did."

Lois reacted immediately.

"Clark! Don't say that! Our situation was more complex. We both made mistakes back then and I don't want to resurrect all that baggage now. Please, let's just agree that neither of us was acting like a friend should have and move on. I want you to be my friend now. I don't care about the past!"

Clark looked into Lois's eyes, saw the sincerity in them and decided that he too would put the past behind them.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Lois. I'm glad you've had mom's support all these years and I'm sure she appreciates your friendship as well. I promise you, I'll make certain our friendship doesn't suffer this time. Whenever you need me I'll be there for you."

"What about your wife? Won't she be upset if I bother you? Won't she be jealous?"

"No, Lois. She won't be jealous. She knows I love her more than life itself. Our friendship won't change that. She also knows that we were close friends before she and I met. She knows the value of friendship and she'll understand. Just don't call me in the middle of the night—she might not appreciate that," he laughed softly.

"She's a better woman than I am, Clark." Lois sighed, sadly. "If my husband had a female friend like me *I'd* be jealous."

"No you wouldn't. Not if you had the kind of love that Pam and I have. You'd know that my love for a friend, as deep as that may be, is nothing compared to my love for her. I hope you can find that kind of love some day, I really do."

"I doubt I will, Clark. I had my chance and blew it. That kind of love doesn't come around twice."

"Don't say that! You'll find someone to love, Lois. If you give love a chance."

"I hope so. In the meantime I'll be satisfied with our friendship and let love find me, if it ever does. Clark, I know you came here as a friend but I also know how the reporting business is. I'd like to give you an interview. I know the public is going to be interested in my reaction to Lex's death. How about we talk *on* the record for a while?"

"You don't have to do this, Lois."

"I know I don't, I want to. Your editor sent you here to get the story no one else could, you want to keep him happy, don't you?"

"I won't do that if it compromises my ethics. I won't use our friendship to get a story."

"You're not. I offered you an exclusive and not because I feel I have to. I want to do this. I need to get my story out and you're the man to do that. Get out your notebook and let's get started."


Clark submitted that interview and some others before he was called back to Chicago. As he had promised before he'd left, Clark got the story no one else could. While there were some who still questioned Lois's involvement in Luthor's crimes, they were a distinct minority. Clark's articles, and his reputation, convinced the public that while Lois had been fooled by Luthor for a time, it was through her heroic efforts that the villain had been brought to justice even if justice had been thwarted by Luthor's suicide.

Clark was requested to meet with his editor upon his return to the city so there he sat, waiting for John to speak.

"Clark that was great work! I knew you could do it! Circulation has been through the roof while you were in Metropolis and most of that has been through new subscriptions. We're getting new advertisers beating our doors down and I don't have to tell you what that does for the bottom line! Congratulations!"

"Thanks, John. I only did my job to the best of my ability. I'm glad the paper is benefiting too, of course."

"We sure are, Clark. In fact I have a surprise for you. I talked the executive council into approving a raise for you based on the work you've done. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that this series is being considered for a Pulitzer! I'll be doing whatever I can to make that happen I'll tell you."

"Wow, a raise and a Pulitzer nomination? What more can a reporter ask for?"

"How about some time off to enjoy being with your wife after your trip? I've got approval just this morning. Get your wife and go home. I'll see you both in a couple of days. And thanks again!" John stood and offered his hand to Clark who returned the handshake enthusiastically.

Clark walked out of John's office and turned into the next doorway. His wife didn't see him at first, being completely involved in her work. Clark cleared his throat and Pam looked up.

"Clark! You're here! When did you get in?"

Rising slowly from her chair Pam hurried to him as quickly as a woman in her condition could. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply. Even though he had come home every night to see her he still missed her. He missed her touch, her smell and the taste of her luscious lips. He missed falling asleep to the sound of her, and now their baby's, heartbeats. He was so looking forward to sleeping next to his wife after two weeks of sleeping alone.

"I just got in, honey. John called me into his office as I got off the elevator. I'm sorry I couldn't see you first. I've missed you so much." Clark hugged her as tightly as he dared, basking in the warmth of her body.

"I've missed you too. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't been able to see you every night but it's not the same as having you home. You don't have to go back do you?"

"No, I don't. I've given all my notes to our man, Corrigan, in Metropolis and he's going to do any follow-up stories. I've gotten all I can from Lois, given what we know now. If something comes up later, I can do everything else by phone. John has given us two days off; how about we continue this discussion at home? I can't wait to have you on my lap and hold you for hours while we talk."

"Sounds good to me! Let me finish up this article and forward the rest to John. Give me fifteen minutes?"

"Fifteen minutes it is. I've got a couple of things to finish myself. I'll meet you at the elevator."


As soon as they arrived home and removed their coats, Clark settled onto their couch and pulled Pam gently onto his lap.

"Ah, that's better," he said as she settled her head into the crook of his shoulder. "I've missed holding you like this. Heck, I've just missed holding you!"

"Me too, honey. I can't tell you how lonely our bed has been with you not in it. Our son or daughter misses you too. He or she has been kicking up a storm wanting daddy's touch. It always amazes me how the baby settles down when you caress my stomach when she kicks. Speaking of which, our child is making its presence known now."

Clark moved his hand from Pam's legs to her stomach and gently caressed the moving lump.

"Hi baby, Daddy's home. I've missed you so much. I'm so glad to be home to touch you like this. Soon I'll be able to hold you in my arms while mommy sits on my lap, won't that be great!"

While still stroking his child Clark looked into his wife's eyes and leaned in for a kiss. The kiss heated up quickly and their passion exploded into enthusiastic but careful lovemaking right there on the couch. Enjoying the afterglow Clark caressed his wife's body.

"Wow where did that come from?" she said.

"I don't know but it was amazing, wasn't it?"

"Amazing isn't the word. Words don't exist for that but I want more I can tell you. I've missed making love with you." She reached up and moved a lock of hair from Clark's forehead.

"Are you *sure* it's OK to make love this late in your pregnancy?"

"We've been through this before, honey. The doctor said we could continue as long as I felt comfortable doing so. Let me tell you mister, *I'm comfortable!*

"We'll have to stop soon enough, so I intend to enjoy you as much as I can, while I can. When the baby arrives I'll be too busy sleeping and taking care of the baby to even want to make love so you'd better stock up now for the long dry spell to come!" she laughed.

"Don't forget I plan to be an equal partner in raising our child you know. You won't be doing this alone, though I understand where you're coming from. Our opportunities for carefree lovemaking are going to be severely limited once this little one makes an appearance."

"Yes they will. Now, before I was so rudely interrupted, you were going to tell me about your trip."

"Rudely interrupted, huh! I'll take care of you later!" Clark tickled her tummy in revenge.

"Clark! Please! Now I have to go to the bathroom! Let me up!"

"How about I fix us some lunch and we can continue this conversation at the table." With that he helped Pam to her feet and gathered her clothes, handing them to her. Spinning into his own clothes Clark patted his wife on the bottom and headed to the kitchen. Fifteen minutes later Pam reappeared, sat down and started in on her sandwich.

"How is Lois holding up? It's not bad enough that she found out her husband was a criminal, then he goes and commits suicide while in jail. She has to be a wreck with the press hounding her all the time."

"She was pretty shaken that next day. You remember I spent a few hours with her just listening and being a friend, I hope you don't mind?"

"Of course not, Clark. I told you that when we talked that day. I wouldn't expect anything less of you. Your friend needed support and you were there to support her. So I take it she's doing better then?"

"She's better, yes. Not great, but better, and she's improving every day. I told her to call if things got too rough for her. I plan to call to check on her as well. We've renewed our friendship while I was there and I don't want to let it lapse again. I feel kinda guilty that I wasn't the kind of friend I should have been. Maybe if I had been I could have helped her investigate Luthor. I was the one who warned her against him in the first place and I gave up on investigating him… " Clark trailed off.

"Clark, stop that right now. You told me yourself you watched him for over a year after the marriage and could find nothing. According to your articles Lois didn't become suspicious until they'd been married two years! You can't blame yourself for not investigating Luthor. What's done is done, you have to let it go and move forward." She reached out and grasped his hand.

"I guess. Lois said something similar when we last talked…"

"See, I told you. Lois is a smart woman, you should listen to her."

"Yes, dear." Clark smiled. He paused then continued. "You're *sure* you don't mind Lois calling? She might call at inconvenient times?"

"No, I don't mind. You don't mind my friends calling do you?"

"No, but you and your friends don't have the kind of history I have with Lois."

"That's true, we don't. How many times do I have to tell you? I'm not jealous of Lois. I love you and I'm secure in your love for me. That's all there is to it."

"I told Lois the same thing when she raised the issue but I feel better hearing you say it again. I'd never do anything to hurt you, you know that, right?" He squeezed the hand that still held his gently.

"I know that and your friendship with Lois doesn't bother me. Did you invite her to visit some time? I still want to meet her, you know."

"Not formally, no, but when I told her you were expecting she said she wanted to bring the baby a gift and I told her she'd be welcome any time."

"That's great! I'd love for her to see the baby. I hope she does come to visit. I'd love to talk to her about you! I bet she's got some great stories!" Pam smiled and wiggled her eyebrows.

"Remind me to tell Lois not to come the next time I talk to her!"

"That's fine darling. I found her cell phone number in your address book. I'll just call her instead."

Clark raised his hands in a surrender gesture. "There's no way to keep you two from talking is there? Just promise me I don't have to sit there and be embarrassed while you carve me up!"

"Promise. Seriously though, honey, I do hope she comes to visit. I've wanted to meet her for years. Even though she's been out of the news business for six years she's still a legend. Do you think she'll go back to reporting now?"

"I doubt it, she's pretty well known. It would make it tough to go undercover. She still owns all of Luthor's media empire so she may become more involved with that. I'll have to ask the next time we talk; she may not have given it much thought."

"She'd shake up the LNN management I bet! I hope she does it. The business world needs more female CEOs and she'd be a great one!"

"I'll tell her you're rooting for her. That's enough talk about Lois and my trip. What are we going to do for the next two days?"

"How about we spend them in LA with my parents? We haven't been to visit them in a while."

"That's a great idea, honey. Why don't you call your mother and let her know we'll be there in an hour. I'll go pack our bags."

Kissing his wife on the cheek, Clark walked into their bedroom to pack.


Clark was nervous and had been pacing between the couch and the window for the last half hour. For the umpteenth time he looked out the window for a cab that had failed to materialize.

"Clark! Please sit down. You're going to wear a hole in the rug with your pacing. Besides you're making *me* nervous now and you know how Bobby picks up on our feelings. She'll get here when she gets here."

"I'm sorry, honey. I want everything to go well today, that's all."

Clark heard a noise from the nursery and stood up.

"It looks like Bobby is awake, honey. I'll go get him."

"Thanks, Clark."

Clark entered the nursery to find his son waiting to be picked up. Upon seeing his father he started cooing and moving his arms and legs ecstatically.

"Hey big guy, did you sleep well?" Clark leaned over the crib and cradled his son in his arms. "Let's go see mommy shall we? I bet you're hungry."

Clark walked back into the living room and handed his son to his wife. Pam pulled her blouse and nursing bra aside and settled her son to her breast.

Clark sat back in his chair to watch the scene before him. He never tired of watching his son and wife at feeding time. Bobby was now two months old and was developing his own individuality already. He looked intently at his mother while he nursed, and Clark could almost see the bond between mother and son. Clark was disturbed from his reverie by the sound of the doorbell.

"That must be Lois. I'll be right back, honey."

"Take your time, Clark. I'm not going anywhere for a while."

Walking to the door Clark ran his hand through his hair. There was no way he should be this nervous. Lois was a friend and she was coming to visit and bring a present for the baby. This kind of thing happened every day to new parents. Taking a deep breath, Clark opened the door.

"Lois! It's good to see you! Please, come in." Clark stepped back and gestured for Lois to enter then closed the door behind her.

Lois leaned in toward Clark and kissed him on the cheek. "It's good to see you too, Clark. How have you been? Getting any sleep?"

"Actually we've been sleeping reasonably well. Bobby is a great baby and while he doesn't sleep through the night yet he does sleep five to six hours at a time. Come on into the living room, Pam is feeding him now."

Lois moved in the direction Clark indicated and he followed closely behind.

Pam heard them come into the room and looked up from her son.

"Sorry I can't greet you properly Lois but it's great to meet you. This is a real pleasure for me."

Lois walked over to the couch where Pam was sitting. Clark saw her pause then stroke his son's head.

"I'm pleased to meet you too, Pam. Clark has told me so much about you. And don't you worry, what you're doing now is much more important than greeting me." Turning to face Clark Lois continued. "He's gorgeous, Clark. Your son is a treasure. I think he has your eyes, Pam, but he has Clark's hair."

"I agree, Lois. He sure has a lot of hair for such a little guy," Clark said, smiling and gazing at his son.

Bobby pulled away from his mother's breast and turned his head to face Lois. He seemed to be studying the stranger for a few seconds then he closed his eyes and returned to suckling.

"Please sit down, Lois. I've been looking forward to meeting you since I met Clark. I hope you don't mind me asking about your time at the Planet? You're a legend in journalism and I can't pass up this chance to pick your brain."

"I don't know about being a legend, but I'd be pleased to talk about our time at the Planet. I have some great stories about your husband!"

Clark turned to look his wife in the eye and saw the mischief reflected there. He'd known this day could be rough for him and it was shaping up to be just that.

"Hey now, you're not going to talk about me while I'm sitting right here are you?" Clark asked plaintively.

"No honey, I plan to send you out later. *Then* we'll talk about you!"

Lois looked over to Pam and their eyes met. Both women looked back at Clark and the giggling started.

"Before you ladies get too far into the fun you're going to have at my expense, I think I'll go to the kitchen and make coffee."

"Thanks honey. I promise we'll be gentle with you while you're gone."

Clark rose from his chair and made his way to the kitchen. He was sorely tempted to listen in to the conversation going on in the living room but he didn't. He decided to take his time and gather up some snacks as well as the coffee to give the women time to have a private chat. Ten minutes later the coffee was ready and Clark poured it into a carafe, put it and some cups on a tray with the sweets and made his way back to the living room.

Upon his return he saw that Bobby was now resting over Pam's shoulder sleeping contentedly having been fed and burped. Clark put the tray down and picked up his son from Pam's shoulder.

"Let me put Bobby back in his crib, honey. I'll be right back."

"Thanks sweetie, I appreciate it. I'll pour the coffee while you're gone."

Clark returned seconds later seeing a cup of coffee fixed just the way he liked it waiting for him. He sat down, picked up his coffee and took a sip.

"Thanks honey. Just the way I like it!"

"Don't thank me, Lois fixed your coffee."

"You remember how I like my coffee?"

"It's not that amazing, Clark. We had coffee quite a few times when you were in Metropolis last you know. I just remembered from then, that's all."

"Well your observations were very accurate. Thanks!"

They settled into a comfortable conversation, chatting about the newspaper business and Lois and Clark's time at the Planet in particular. Clark was just starting to enjoy the situation when he heard an emergency broadcast from their neighbor's radio. Unobtrusively he set off his pager, pulled it from his belt and looked at the display.

"I'm sorry Lois, Pam. This is from work. I've got to leave for a bit. Don't get up, Lois. I won't be long. Do you want me to pick up anything on the way back, honey?"

"No, I think I'm all set. Be careful and try not to be too long?"

"I won't." He kissed his wife then rushed out the door.


'Hmm, I see some things never change,' Lois thought. "He still does that huh?" Lois said catching Pam's eye.

"Does what, Lois?"

"Runs off at the oddest times with a flimsy excuse." As she was waiting for Pam's response Lois heard a faint but familiar noise. "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"That whooshing noise. If I didn't know better I'd swear that was Superman taking off!"

Lois noticed an odd look on Pam's face before she responded. "I think that was the wind. These old buildings channel the sound in the weirdest ways."

"I suppose, but I could have sworn it was Superman. Even though it's been six years I don't think I'll ever forget that sound."

"I've met Superman a couple of times in my career, though not since I've been editing, of course. He is awesome, isn't he?"

"Yes he is. He and I used to be pretty good friends, before my marriage that is. I named him, you know."

"I didn't know that! How did that come about?"

"It was the day he made his first appearance. He had just come back from space after lifting the ship into orbit. He came back to EPRAD like he said he would, and he flew me to the Daily Planet. We flew directly into the newsroom and he set me down right by my desk. Cat, that's Cat Grant, she used to be the gossip columnist at the Planet…Cat asked me what his name was. I was kind of overwhelmed and said he was 'super' then I continued, super man, Superman! Perry heard me and that's the name he used in the headline for that afternoon's paper. The name was picked up by all news organizations and the rest, as they say, is history!"

"Wow, that's amazing! And you told me you weren't a legend! It's not many reporters who get to name a superhero! Thanks for sharing all of this with me, Lois. I can't believe you're actually here, in my living room."

"Stop that, Pam. You're embarrassing me! I was just in the right place at the right time. I didn't do anything any reporter wouldn't have done in my place."

"I disagree, Lois. What you've done was more than just being in the right place at the right time. You have instincts that put you there and not many reporters have that."

"I don't know about that but I thank you anyway. That was a long time ago. Enough about me, how about I tell you some embarrassing stories about Clark!"

They chatted for the next hour with Lois regaling Pam with her stories of Clark and their exploits together. Their chat was interrupted by Clark's return.

"Hi girls! I'm sorry that took so long, you know how sources can be at times. I picked up a package of diapers while I was out, honey. I'm sure we'll need them soon anyway."

Clark moved through the living room to the nursery only to return seconds later.

"I'm glad you're back, Clark. I've got something to tell you," Lois said.

"Oh, what's that Lois?"

"Ever since Lex died I've been wondering what I was going to do with myself. I've been talking with my lawyers and I've decided to take over Lex's position as CEO of LexCorp—"

"That's great, Lois!" Clark said excitedly.

"It sure is! I was telling Clark just the other day that I hoped you'd do just that. Congratulations!" Pam said sincerely.

"Thanks, both of you. But that's not the only thing I wanted to tell you. I've decided to rename the company. There are a lot of good people who work for me but the company has been tainted. I've decided to change the name to Lane Enterprises. Since I'm back to using my maiden name I thought that sounded best."

"Lane Enterprises, it has a nice ring to it," Clark said.

"For my first act as CEO I've decided to reopen the Daily Planet. I've already called Perry and he just about jumped out of his skin to accept. I want to reassemble as much of the old crew as possible and then recruit the best talent I can from around the country. Clark, I want you to come to work for me."

Lois watched Clark's face for a reaction. She saw surprise, of course, then delight but that soon changed to a frown.

"I'm sorry, Lois. But under the circumstances I don't think I can."

Clark's words struck Lois like a blow to the chest. It wasn't just that he didn't want to work for her, it was the way he said it! She had heard those words almost six years ago when Superman had told her he didn't believe she had loved him and now Clark said almost the exact same thing! The voice and the inflection were so similar!

She looked more closely at Clark trying to picture him with slicked back hair and no glasses. Oh my God! If Clark wasn't Superman then he was his twin brother! When she considered that just after Clark had left the house today she could have sworn she'd heard Superman taking off she was sure. Clark *was* Superman! She suddenly felt faint and flopped back onto the couch.

"Lois! Are you all right!"

Lois opened her eyes to find Clark beside her, holding her hand. She pulled her hand from his and sat up straighter, holding her head.

"I'm fine, Clark. Just a dizzy spell I guess. I haven't been sleeping to well lately. I'm sorry I upset you."

"You're sure you're OK? Can I get you some water or anything?" Clark asked worriedly.

"No, thank you. I'm fine now. What did you mean when you said under the circumstances you couldn't come to work for me? I thought you'd jump at the chance to work at the Planet again."

"I might have considered it if I wasn't under contract to the Tribune for another two years."

"I can buy out your contract, Clark, don't let that bother you. I want you to come back."

"It's not only that Lois. Pam is in line to take over for John when he retires. We've built our lives here. We have family in the city. I've enjoyed being closer to my parents as well. It's been great being able to take a long weekend to help mom and dad out when they need it. I just don't think we want to move to Metropolis. I'm sorry."

"Are you sure, Clark? I promise you I'll consider Pam for Perry's spot when he retires. I can offer her an assistant-editor position right now though. Pam, what do you think?"

Lois noticed Pam catch her husband's eye before she replied.

"I don't know what to say, Lois. This is such a surprise. But I have to agree with Clark. He's very secure in his position here. John thinks he's in line for a Pulitzer nomination this year. I'm also very happy where I am. I'm on track for promotion and my boss is happy with my work. I've met Perry and Alice and they're wonderful people but I don't know if I want to work for him. He used to be a real workaholic and I don't see that changing when he returns. Also, my brother and his family live here and we're very close. I'd miss them horribly if I lived that far away."

"I can understand that. I forget how close people are to their family sometimes. I really wish you would change your mind. I could use people like you two, people I can trust. I can offer you both a big raise…" Lois said hopefully.

"It's not the money. Money is the least of our considerations, though we appreciate your offer very much. We're honored that you'd want us to work for you, but I'm sure Pam will agree with me." Clark glanced at his wife then continued. "We're happy that the Planet is being reopened and we'll support you in every way we can, but we want to stay in Chicago. I'm sorry, Lois."

"While I'm disappointed, obviously, I understand. I had to ask. If you two ever change your minds you let me know. There will always be a place for you at the Planet."

"That's nice to know, Lois. Thank you," Clark said.

"Yes, thank you." Pam said, "It's going to be great to have the Daily Planet back. The news business can always use a strong voice for truth, as I know the Planet is going to be."

"It will, I promise you. With me running the company, Perry and the reporters will never have to worry about the suits causing trouble again!"

"Lois, can you stay for dinner? I'd love to hear more about your plans for the Planet," Pam said.

"Thank you, no. I have to be going. I'm having a meeting with some of my local executives tonight to go over changes to the company."

"May I call a cab for you?"

"No need, Clark. I came in a company car. The chauffer should be waiting outside by now. I told him to come back by five so I could make my six o'clock meeting."

Lois made her way to the door followed by Clark and Pam. She picked up her purse and turned to her hosts.

"Thanks for inviting me today. I had a wonderful time. I hope we can do this again, Pam. I didn't get a chance to tell you half my Clark stories you know!"

"I'd love to, Lois. Any time you're in town you're welcome to visit. Maybe we can go shopping next time and have a real girl's day out."

"Oh, that sounds like a great idea. I'll call you before my next trip."

Lois moved to Pam and shook her hand then turned to Clark and kissed him quickly on the cheek.

"Goodnight, Clark. You take care. I'll talk to you soon. I may want to pick your brain on ideas for the Planet," Lois said as she walked down the steps.

"Goodnight Lois, I'll be looking forward to it!"

Lois walked to the limousine and stepped in while the driver held the door. She'd just settled into the soft leather seat before she broke down, crying. She was glad she'd been able to hold it together back there. Her acting skills from dealing with Lex were still in good working order, thank goodness. If she had cried, Clark would have asked all kinds of questions that she didn't want to answer.

So many things now fell into place, not only Superman's last comment to her that fateful night, but all kinds of things that had bothered her about Clark. No wonder the man was always disappearing back then, he was Superman! Here she had worked with him day in and day out for a year and never guessed! This was just another instance of her being blind to the true nature of a man. Of course, given her initial feelings toward Clark and then her momentous introduction to Superman she could understand why she might not have guessed at first, but later, that's what didn't make sense.

Clark was always slipping up. He knew things he shouldn't then he'd cover himself, sloppily she now admitted, by saying Superman had told him. How many times had she accepted that lousy excuse and never *once* questioned him? Then he had the gall to romance her as Superman and declare his love as Clark! What had he expected of her? Here she had thought two men were interested in her. She had never had any idea that they were one and the same. Then when she decided she wanted one of his disguises over the other he got upset and treated her like she was the one in the wrong!

It all made so much sense. Superman's actions were inexcusable now that she knew it was Clark in the suit. He had taken out his anger at her dismissal of Clark and made her feel small. He'd actually insinuated that he thought she was trying to seduce him that night! How childish could he be? She was in love with one part of him; couldn't he have told her who he really was? She'd have accepted his keeping a secret from her once he'd told her the truth!

The more she thought about Clark being Superman she began to understand more about the man and why he might not have told her who he was. She had treated Clark pretty badly when he had first started at the Planet. He had mooned over her almost from the first moment she'd met him and she had told him specifically not to fall for her but he'd done it anyway. As soon as Superman made his debut her treatment of Clark descended into denigration.

How would any man react when the woman he loved called him the before and Superman the way, way after! How would he have felt that he could tell her he was Superman when she had told the sketch artist that Superman's eyes were the wrong color, not insipid mud brown, like Clark's?

It was now obvious that Superman was only an invention by Clark so he could use his powers and still have a private life. She hadn't known that, of course. For whatever unfathomable reason, he had chosen to make Superman into a real person to her. It may have been her treatment of Clark that had caused him to do what she now faulted him for. If his love for her had been that overriding, might he not have done anything, even pretend to be another man, to get close to her? When she had seen Superman she'd behaved differently, softer to a certain extent. Mad Dog Lane was banished to her cage when in the presence of Superman, only to come roaring back when Clark was around.

She had softened towards Clark after he'd demonstrated his trustworthiness, but by then the damage had been done. He was never as overt with his desires for her as he had been those first few weeks. She had beaten him down often enough and he had learned his lesson. By then they had settled into a comfortable friendship and she had liked it that way and had done everything she could to maintain the status quo. If Clark had tried to 'warm up' their relationship, she had cooled it off, real quick.

From her current vantage point, six years removed from the situation, she had to have been a total fool not to have fallen for him. She had felt something she'd never felt when in Lex's vicinity, and when Clark touched her, the feeling was electric. How could she have confused that wonderful feeling for anything close to what she had felt when in a relationship with the men that had hurt her?

She had thought she had loved Paul and had been disappointed when her love wasn't returned, but she knew that love could still be found. She had really thought she was in love with Claude, but he had shown her how misplaced her love had been.

By then the injury to her self-esteem was complete, as was her disillusionment with love, so when the country boy from Kansas with the gorgeous smile came along seeming to be infatuated with her she wasn't going to give him the time of day. She knew that her judgment with respect to men was unreliable at best and destructive at worst. His being a colleague and a competitor only exacerbated the situation. All she could see was that boyish grin trying to worm its way into her bed and then to steal her story and she wasn't going to let *that* happen again.

The difference this time had been the feelings she got whenever she got close to Clark. She'd never felt that way with any of her other 'lovers', if you could call them that. She'd had an almost overwhelming urge to run her fingers through his hair after first moving that lock of hair from his forehead. She had found herself wanting to kiss him senseless after looking at his soft, moist lips. It had been worse after she had actually kissed him though. If they hadn't been fighting for their lives against Trask's goons and then gotten thrown out of the plane, she might have weakened, but Superman came to her rescue and she forgot all about Clark and the kiss. But the feeling had remained and she'd had worked hard to fight it.

A few months into their working relationship they had settled into a comfortable friendship that had allowed her to gain control of herself and not react to the feelings she sometimes let out of the prison of her wounded heart. She had felt that if she repeated often enough that she loved him like a friend and a brother he, and more importantly she, would begin to believe it. Now, to her great regret, that tactic had worked, for the most part.

She had come to think of him as a friend only and she had grown comfortable with that feeling of safety. She had been able to fight the attraction for Clark because she was sure her feelings would lead her to make the biggest mistake of her life. Now that she had seen Pam, Clark and their son she realized her fears had come true. She *had* made the biggest mistake of her life but it wasn't by accepting Clark's love, it was by rejecting it.

How many chances had Clark given her to accept his love, the love he offered her freely and without thought for himself? There had to have been hundreds of opportunities if she had only been the least bit receptive to him. They had spent *three days* in the honeymoon suite of the Lexor. He had even kissed her for God's sake! While the kiss was a ruse to fool the maid, she had been stunned by it nonetheless. There they were, lying on the bed, in almost full body contact, kissing like a newlywed couple. If Clark hadn't been as much of a gentleman as he was, they surely would have ended up in bed together as she wasn't in any frame of mind to stop what they were doing!

Maybe that was Clark's, and tangentially, her problem. Clark was, and had been at the time, too much of a gentleman! He had actually believed her when she told him she loved him like a brother! Most guys wouldn't have taken no for an answer but Clark had. Clark's Midwest manners and upbringing had taught him to respect a woman and her wishes, in this case to both their detriment. By the time Lex showed up on the scene, she had convinced herself of her feelings for Clark and no longer thought of how excited she had felt in the early days of their relationship.

She had also enjoyed having access to the world Lex inhabited. While she could let her hair down and be herself with Clark, she knew that she also wanted to experience 'how the other half lived'. The world of the rich and famous was one she had wanted to experience and Lex was her passport. As with a lot of things in life, she had found that the grass wasn't greener, and the green was the color of money.

People were the same no matter their social strata. Money gave them the opportunity to do more, but the basic personality traits were the same. She had been disillusioned when she had come to that realization. She had somehow thought that these people would be different, that they would see they had a societal duty by reason of their wealth, but that hadn't been the case.

The difference between Lex and Clark was that she had never seen Lex as a buddy like she had Clark. It had put Clark at a distinct disadvantage in the romance department. She had liked the attention Lex had given her, and he had been suave enough to treat her like he wanted to be with her. She also hadn't wanted to take the chance of ruining her friendship with Clark by injecting romance into the equation. She had wanted to keep her friend her friend and accept romantic attention from Lex thereby having the best of both worlds.

By the time Clark had reached the desperate stage such that he had blatantly expressed his love for her it was too late. She had been dating Lex and he had proposed marriage. It would have made her look foolish and maybe even fickle if she had reacted positively to Clark's plea for her heart, and she had never wanted to look foolish.

How could she explain to Lex that she had changed her mind and decided to date her friend who had told just her he loved her? Of course that had assumed that she would have been receptive to Clark's declaration in the first place, which she hadn't been due to her very successful brainwashing campaign. She had parroted back her usual line, 'I love you too, like a brother', right on cue and in so doing had broken Clark's heart and sealed her own fate as well, though she hadn't known it at the time.

Sitting in the car she shook her head ruefully. The icing on this rotten cake had shown itself to be spoiled as well with today's little discovery. She had been thinking that with all of the time that had passed, maybe Superman might have mellowed in his feelings toward her. With her new status as a widow, she had been thinking that maybe she could work on contacting Superman again and trying to rekindle their friendship.

After all, if Clark could forgive and forget maybe Superman could as well. She had thought that she could invite him to dinner some evening and then see how things progressed. Maybe this time she *could* get to know him. Maybe she could find out what kind of music he liked, what his favorite book was, where he went when he wasn't saving people. Living in the penthouse would allow him to come and go in relative obscurity as well.

She had hoped that he would be able to forgive her and they could move forward. Superman was the only man in the world, besides Clark, whom she could trust with her heart now. She'd learned a lot these past six years, and she wouldn't make the same mistakes she'd made back then. Today though, her last hope for some degree of happiness had died. Superman didn't exist! All her dreams of falling in love with Superman were dashed by the knowledge she had gained today.

Her luck with men was holding true to form. Either she chose men who were not worthy of her love, or she pushed away the few good ones who showed the least bit of interest. Not only had she lost Clark, basically given him away to another woman because of her foolish fears, but she now knew that Clark was a two for one deal. Not only did Pam have a wonderful, loving husband in Clark Kent, but she had Superman as well! She gazed out over the skyline of the city thinking that all that she had seen today could have been hers if she had been willing to risk her heart one more time. She hadn't, and now she knew what she had given up by that decision.

Her last thought before the car pulled to the curb was how her situation reminded her of the Whittier poem.

{*The saddest words

Of tongue or pen

Are these four words

It might have been.*}

Those words were so true. If not for her actions that day in the park, what might have been… for her.


Authors Notes:

Clark and Pam's wedding vows were not written by me but were found on this web site:

*Can't Help Falling in Love Words and music by George Weiss, Hugo Peretti, and Luigi Creatore Sung by Elvis Presley

After researching the elevated train system in Chicago via the Internet I found two abbreviations 'L' and 'El'. The official website for the system uses 'L' so that was the abbreviation I used.