Hot Chocolate and Reading Glasses

By Nan Smith <>

Rated G

Submitted February, 2008

Summary: A week after the events in the episode "That Old Gang of Mine," Superman winds up at Lois's without his powers.

Disclaimer: The recognizable characters and settings in this story are the property of D.C. Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions, and anyone else with a legal right to them, and I have no claim on them whatsoever, nor am I profiting by their use, but any of the new characters and situations are mine, and the story belongs to me.


Clark Kent staggered down the alley, supporting himself against the brick wall with one hand. The small-time thugs who had knocked over Young's Liquor hadn't seemed like such a challenge until the smaller man with the bald head had pulled out what looked like a ball of foil and ripped off the covering, to expose a chunk of green crystal half the size of his fist.

He'd managed to knock the stuff out of the other man's hand and hurled it against the brick wall to shatter into dust. While he was accomplishing this feat both men had run, as it turned out, straight into the arms of the police who had evidently responded to the silent alarm that had drawn Superman to the robbery, and Clark had managed to vanish into the darkness of an adjoining alley. The last thing he needed was for the police, or anyone else, to realize that the chunk of Kryptonite had taken away his powers again. That had probably been because he'd been forced to touch it. Still, he'd gone to a good deal of trouble to appear nearly unaffected by the stuff. Two other pieces, neither one the size of this last one, had appeared over the last month. He'd dealt with both in a similar manner. It had been painful for him but instructive to the men who had tried to use it on him, not to mention at least temporarily putting their careers on hold so that they might have some quality time to contemplate their folly in the local jail. Hopefully, the word was beginning to circulate that Kryptonite was over-rated as a defense against Superman, as he and Professor Hamilton had intended. The lead with which Hamilton had impregnated two of his suits was fairly effective for the short term in protecting him from the stuff, although all it actually did was to give him a slightly wider margin in which to act, since it couldn't completely shield him against the radiation. Still, so far it had helped a good deal. In the future, he wanted that doubt to be present in the minds of Metropolis's less upstanding citizens. Maybe most of the substance had been accounted for, but there apparently were still a few smaller pieces floating around. The less the criminal element trusted in its efficacy, the less courageous hoods like these guys would be about using it in the future.

But now he had to make it back to his apartment without being seen. He was still wearing the Suit and the temperature outside was several degrees below freezing. Normally it wouldn't have bothered him, but without his powers he was becoming rapidly aware of discomfort. The thin Spandex cloth wasn't much defense against the winter weather. If anyone saw him walking along with his arms wrapped around himself and shivering like this, the whole effort to deceive people would be worthless.

He leaned against the wall, trying to think, which wasn't easy with the scenery wavering unsteadily around him. The world swam rather sickeningly if he moved his head too quickly, and his right hand stung where it touched the bricks. Examining it in the uncertain light of a street lamp, flickering pale yellow in the thickening dusk, he discovered what looked very much like blisters and scorch marks on his palm and fingers. No wonder his hand hurt.

Fortunately, the sun had almost set. The city was growing darker by the moment and the streetlights were coming on all down the street. Unfortunately, as in the old child's game, the wind was picking up and snow was beginning to drift down from the overcast sky as it had been doing on and off since this morning. Fortunately, his mind told him whimsically, he wasn't far from Lois Lane's apartment. Unfortunately, if he showed up there like this, Lois was going to know something was wrong. On the other hand, it might not matter. Lois wouldn't broadcast anything about what had happened if he asked her not to, so maybe it wasn't so unfortunate after all. Except, as it turned out a few minutes later, Lois wasn't there.

Fortunately, however, he knew where she kept her spare key. Unlike him, she didn't keep it under the mat or even a flowerpot. Which was just as well, because Lois and plants didn't get along well, and the plant always lost the contest. Her key was in a small, flat box that stuck inconspicuously, by means of a magnet, to the bottom of the radiator beneath the window at the end of the hall, five feet away from her door. He appropriated it and let himself quietly into the darkened apartment.

Closing the door behind him, he refastened Lois's locks and stood for a moment, soaking in the warmth of the apartment. The shivering was letting up but the Suit still stuck damply to his skin, and he hesitated. He really wanted to change out of the wet outfit but there was nothing to change into. Lois's bathrobe certainly wouldn't fit him, and the last thing he needed was for Lois to walk in to find a half-naked Superman rummaging around in her closet or dresser in search of sweats, even if they would fit him -- or worse, Superman wrapped inadequately in her pink dressing gown. The image was enough to make him cringe.

Well, at the very least he could dry off his hair. The melting snow was running uncomfortably down the back of his neck. Maybe when Lois got here, he could get her to go over to his apartment for some clothing.

But how was he going to explain such a request?

He was aware that his thinking was a little foggy -- probably the result of the Kryptonite exposure, he thought. Still careful not to move his head too quickly, he made his way toward her bathroom. A thick towel hung from a rack on the wall behind the door and he was able to soak up the extra moisture in his hair, although his efforts to dry it left it standing on end. Worse, now that his hair was merely damp, its tendency to curl, rigorously suppressed in his role as Superman with a comb and hair gel, had become apparent. He tried futilely to finger comb it and coax it to lie straight, but as it dried in the warmth of the apartment the natural wave became more and more evident.

Finally he gave it up as a useless endeavor, but, as he turned to exit the bathroom, his eye lit on a garment hanging from a hook on the inside of the bathroom door. What he had taken at first for a gray bathrobe was a sweat suit -- a very familiar sweat suit. This was the one he had loaned Lois several weeks ago when they had been caught in a freak rain shower and arrived, soaking wet, at his apartment. She kept promising to return it and somehow it hadn't yet made its way back to his place -- not that he really cared, especially now. Without further internal debate, he began to peel off the Suit.

He was just pulling on the bottoms when he heard the sound of a key in the first of Lois's numerous locks.

Turning, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and froze. Without his glasses, dressed in the sweat suit and with his hair waving wildly on his head, he looked too much like Clark Kent and too much like Superman for Lois to possibly miss the obvious. What was he going to do?

That was when he spotted Lois's reading glasses lying on the end table next to her sofa. In two strides, he was at the sofa and slipped them on.

The last lock clicked. In desperation, he shoved the Suit under the sofa cushions and sat down, squinting through the distorted glass of the lenses.

They couldn't be very strong, he thought, as the images around him were only slightly out of focus, but for someone who had possessed perfect vision all his life, it was an odd sensation. The slowly fading feeling of muzziness behind his eyes intensified again and made him grateful that he was sitting down. He hoped his powers would return soon. He was finding this venture into normalcy no more pleasant than the first two times. He wasn't quite sure how he was going to explain this, but there wasn't much choice at this point. He leaned back on the sofa and tried to look relaxed as the door swung open.

At first, Lois didn't appear to notice his presence. She entered, juggling two large sacks of groceries, a bouquet of assorted flowers, her shoulder bag and her keys, kicked the door shut and turned to re-lock the door. One of the sacks slipped and she nearly dropped it. She caught the errant bag and dropped her keys. Grabbing for them, she released the bouquet of flowers, which hit the floor as well.

He had started to get to his feet but the sense of disorientation that was the result of the Kryptonite exposure and the distortion of his vision due to Lois's glasses nearly caused him to lose his balance. Lois, on the other hand, appeared to realize at last that the numerous items that she was trying to carry were incompatible with her attempt to lock the door. She heaved a sigh of exasperation and fastened the chain lock. Then, with the door secured to some extent, she turned to set the bags on the nearest chair.

Their eyes met. For a moment they stared at each other and suddenly the scene came to life.

"Clark! What are you doing here?" she demanded.

"Uh --"

She set down the bags, picked up the flowers and keys and got to her feet, never removing her eyes from him. Again, Clark opened his mouth and then closed it, uneasily aware that he had absolutely no idea of what to say.

His partner's eyes narrowed. "Are you drunk or something?" she demanded.

At least he could answer that truthfully. "No."

"Then what are you doing here? I mean, it's not that I mind that you came in. That's why I showed you where I keep my key -- and I'm still going to get you your own key -- it's just that you're wearing the sweats I was going to return to you and...why are you wearing my reading glasses?"

"Because I don't have mine," he said. "At least I can see with yours."

She gave him an odd look and turned to lock several of the remaining locks, dropped the keys in her purse and set it on the chair. "What happened to your glasses?" she asked. "And how come you're wearing the sweats? I hadn't even got around to washing them yet. And where are your other clothes?"

"Um --"

She grabbed up the sacks of groceries and the flowers and went past him into the kitchen, still talking. "You have to admit, it's a little strange. I mean, it's not as if I mind you being here. It's just that you've never come in here when I wasn't here before. *Something* must have happened, so what was it?"

"Um -- I was sort of looking for you," he said, somewhat lamely. He could hear her rattling around in the kitchen, the clink of glassware and then the sound of water running. An instant later, she reappeared with a vase containing the somewhat battered bouquet in one hand.

"I figured that," she said, setting the vase down on a side table. "What for?" She leaned forward suddenly. "Clark, what happened to your hand?"

"Umm --" Instinctively, he started to put the hand behind him but Lois was too quick. She grabbed his wrist and turned his palm upward, revealing the scorch marks and blisters.

"Why didn't you say you'd hurt yourself?" she demanded. "I think I've got some anesthetic spray in the medicine cabinet. Just a minute." She jumped to her feet and hurried toward the bathroom. He heard her opening the cabinet and the rattle as something, probably the aspirin bottle, hit the tiles. Then she returned, clutching a spray bottle. "Hold out your hand," she commanded.

Automatically he extended his hand, a sense of inevitability possessing him. Arguing with Lois in this mood, he had discovered over the months of their acquaintance, was a useless endeavor.

The cool spray, however, eased the stinging of his hand, and then the pain began to fade and a faint numbness took its place. He found that the tension in his jaw, which he hadn't even noticed until this minute, was easing off as the stinging sensation diminished.

"Is that better?" Lois asked.

He nodded. "Yeah. Thanks."

"What happened?" she asked. "How did you hurt your hand?"

"I grabbed something I shouldn't have," he said truthfully.

"Why did you come over?" she asked. "Was it your hand?"

"Uh -- no, not exactly. I was over by Young's Liquor when a couple of guys tried to rob it. The police and Superman showed up but I ended up losing my coat and it's freezing out there -- so I came here. I didn't think you'd mind if I came in."

"What happened to your clothes?"

"They were kind of wet," he explained. "I noticed my sweat suit hanging on your hook and decided to change into it, since it was dry."

"Oh," she said. "You mean you were out in the snow in wet clothes? Clark, you're going to catch your death!"

"No, I'm fine --" he began.

"I'm going to make you some hot chocolate," she informed him, getting briskly to her feet. "You stay here and take care of your hand. Don't argue with me!" she added, as he started to stand up. "I don't need to have my partner sick on me!"

It was just as well, he realized, dropping back to a sitting position on the sofa. The slight distortion caused by the glasses was definitely upsetting his equilibrium -- and his stomach.

He heard the sound of the refrigerator door opening and the clink of pottery -- probably a mug for the hot chocolate, he thought. Then the hum of the microwave oven going into action reached his ears. After a moment or two it beeped and he heard various other unidentifiable noises. After another couple of minutes Lois reappeared, carrying a stoneware mug with the Superman logo on it. It must be hot, he surmised, judging by the way she was holding it, with the assistance of an oven mitt.

She took two coasters from the drawer of the end table, set them down on the coffee table and placed his mug on one. "Here," she told him. "Be careful -- it's pretty warm."

"You didn't have to do that," he protested.

"I know." She turned to go back to the kitchen and in another moment had returned with a second mug. She seated herself in the armchair at right angles to him and carefully set her mug down on the empty coaster. Clark watched her, frowning slightly. Ever since last week when he had managed to "revive" himself after being shot by Clyde Barrow in Georgie Hairdo's gambling parlor, Lois's attitude seemed to have changed somewhat. She acted...different, he thought. Almost as if she were trying to protect him. Surely it had to be his imagination, though. Lois just wasn't the type.

"Clark," Lois said firmly, "drink your hot chocolate.

Cautiously, he lifted the mug and blew at the steaming surface. Since he wasn't invulnerable, he couldn't just gulp it down. Judging by the steam rising from the cup, it was likely to scald the inside of his mouth if he wasn't careful. With great care, he took a judicious sip.

And nearly coughed. There was a sharp bite to the chocolate drink that caught at the back of his throat. Belatedly, he recognized the distinct smell of alcohol. He sniffed. Unquestionably alcohol, he thought. If he wasn't mistaken, it was Napoleon Brandy, and a *lot* of it! "Uh ... Lois, did you put brandy in this?"

She nodded. "I figured it would help fight off any cold germs you managed to pick up, running around out there in wet clothes," she told him.

Hesitantly, Clark sniffed again. It must, he thought, be nearly half brandy. And definitely not just any brandy. It was almost sacrilege. "I don't think any germs could possibly live in this," he remarked. The look on her face told him that she wasn't sure if she should be hurt or not, and he quickly took another sip. "You're probably right," he added, swallowing manfully. "I'm not really worried about getting sick, but I guess it's just as well to be careful."

The smile on her face rewarded him, and he thought that he'd be willing to drink straight fingernail polish remover to see her smile like that more often.

The faintly nauseated feeling from the combination of Kryptonite and Lois's reading glasses seemed to be going away, he realized after a few sips. Maybe his powers were starting to come back. He took another swallow, conscious of a pleasantly warm sensation spreading through him. Lois's idea hadn't been such a bad one, he found himself thinking. He was certainly feeling better. With less reluctance, he lifted the container again.

"Would you like some more?" Lois's voice asked suddenly, and he discovered that he was holding an empty mug. The contents seemed to have vanished of their own accord, but he was feeling noticeably better than he had a short time ago. In fact, he couldn't recall feeling so good in his life. His powers must be starting to return, all right. Maybe the lead-impregnated suit had been even more protection than he'd realized.

"Sure," he said. He started to get to his feet. "I'll get it. You don't have to wait on me." The floor seemed to sway slightly, and he caught at the arm of the sofa.

Lois took the mug out of his hands. "That's all right. I'm going to get another one for myself, too. It was pretty cold out there. Maybe I should bring you a blanket along with the chocolate."

"Uh, no; I'm fine now," he said quickly.

She looked doubtfully at him and went back toward the kitchen, reappearing after a few minutes with both mugs steaming gently in her hands. She set his down carefully on the coaster and went to sit in the armchair again.

The second helping vanished even faster than the first one. He looked wistfully at the empty mug and then back at Lois. The reading glasses seemed to have begun to affect his vision more seriously and he was having to work to focus, so maybe his powers hadn't started to come back yet after all. His head was definitely feeling fuzzier again, too.

Lois stood up again. "I'll get more," she said. It didn't occur to him to wonder at the tone of her voice just then, but he did notice that she grasped the arm of her chair more firmly when she stood up. Clark got cautiously to his feet. Maybe he'd better go with her, just in case. It looked as if Lois might have put a little too much of the brandy into her own drink. Fortunately for him, he had always been resistant to alcohol.

There was a box of powdered chocolate drink sitting on the kitchen table. Lois retrieved the milk from the refrigerator, poured enough into the mugs to fill them halfway and stuck them into the microwave. "It'll be ready in a couple of minutes," she assured him. "I just don't want you to get sick. You men always try to act like you don't get sick, but you do and when you come down with colds you're worse than women. You don't look like you feel too good right now, either."

"I'm really okay," he said, somewhat untruthfully, and had to grab at the back of a kitchen chair to steady himself.

"Yeah, right." She pointed to the chair. "Sit. It won't matter if you get a little bit of a buzz from the brandy as long as you're here. It'll be better than having you at the office, sneezing your head off, tomorrow -- or worse, home with the flu! I don't feel like doing the whole job by myself."

"I don't think that's likely," he said.

"Just go with me here," she said. "I'm trying to help!"

Meekly, he sat down. It did feel better, he had to acknowledge. The muzzy feeling behind his eyes was getting worse. He wondered how long it would be before he could escape and get back to his place, but hurting Lois's feelings wasn't an option. He'd caused her enough pain and guilt last week. Besides, it was nice just to sit here in the warm kitchen and look at her as she poured brandy into the steaming hot chocolate, set one in front of him and took the chair across from him.

Lois sipped her chocolate and set the mug down. "Do you have any idea where you lost your glasses?" she asked.

He shrugged. "Somewhere over by Young's Liquor," he said. "I'll go by tomorrow and ask if anyone found them. I've got a spare set at home, just in case. Do you mind if I borrow yours in the meantime?"

"Of course not," Lois said. She sipped her chocolate. "That's good. I don't usually have Napoleon brandy around but Lucy sent it to me for my birthday. Now seemed a good time to open it."

"I was going to ask about that," Clark said. He discovered that he was leaning his chin on one fist and watching her. "It's awfully expensive brandy to put in hot chocolate."

Lois shrugged. "I didn't have anything else. Want some more?"

"Sure," he said.

"I'm running out of milk," she remarked as she mixed the chocolate with brandy. "I guess if you want something else I can make coffee and brandy, next time."

Clark wasn't so sure that was a good idea. The bottle was well over half-empty now. That was a fair amount of brandy, even for two people, considering the fact that it had apparently been full when she started. It was a good thing that toxic substances didn't bother him, as a general rule. It looked to him as if Lois had been a bit over-generous with the contents of the bottle. "I think this is probably enough," he said, taking a big mouthful.

"Careful," Lois said. She sipped her own. "I didn't have enough milk so I made up for it with extra brandy." She leaned back in her chair. "It's nice to have you here," she said suddenly, leaning forward to plant her chin on her fist in a mirror image of his pose. "At least here I know you're not getting yourself killed somewhere."

"Yeah," he said. "I know what you mean. I'm always scared something's going to happen to you, too."

She swallowed the remaining contents of her mug in three gulps, without taking a breath. Clark almost winced, but she lowered the mug and set it on the table with a clink. "D'you know how I felt last week?" she said, almost accusingly. "I thought I was going to miss you forever. I didn't know what to do. All I could think of was to catch Capone and his friends but at the same time I almost didn't want to because once I'd done it I'd have to think about what I was going to do the rest of my life without you. I didn't know what to do," she repeated.

Horrified, Clark saw tears gathering in her eyes. "Don't cry," he said automatically. "I came back."

"But what if you hadn't?" she asked. "I wouldn't have you now and I wouldn't ever have you ever again. I was gonna miss you for all my life and I never got to tell you --" She broke off with a sudden hiccup.

She hiccupped a second time and a third. Clark got to his feet, staggering slightly, and retrieved a glass from her cupboard. There was usually mineral water in her fridge, he recalled, and went to get it for her.

"Here," he said, presenting her with the water.

Lois hiccupped again and took a big swallow of water. She promptly choked, coughed, sprayed water, coughed again and finally managed to get her breath.

"Are you all right?" Clark asked anxiously.

She nodded, drawing a whistling breath. Clark waited for a moment but the hiccups seemed to have been conquered. He dropped into the chair next to her and put an arm around her. "I'm not dead, though," he said, resuming the previous conversation and feeling unaccountably anxious to reassure her. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere -- not *anywhere*!" he emphasized. "If I went anywhere I wouldn't have *you*!"

Lois sniffled and leaned over to lay her head against his upper arm. "Don't *ever* go away again, Clark," she said.

He opened his mouth to tell her again he wasn't going anywhere but this time it was he who hiccupped.

He covered his mouth in surprise and promptly hiccupped again. Lois sat up, regarding him with a faintly owlish expression. Then she pushed his mug toward him. "Here. Drink it."

Clark obeyed, swallowing the last of the now barely warm mixture. He almost choked as a hiccup coming up met a swallow going down but he managed not to gag. Lois was regarding him worriedly as he coughed up the traces of chocolate milk and brandy that had managed to filter into his lungs. "Are you all right?" she asked. "Your face is all red."

He nodded, still coughing. Lois held the half-full glass of mineral water toward him. "Try this," she advised. "'S better'n brandy for hiccups."

Obediently he swallowed the water, somewhat more carefully than the previous beverage, and at once felt the urge to hiccup diminish. He smiled at Lois, vaguely aware that somehow he wasn't thinking very clearly but not particularly caring at the moment. "Thanks."

She smiled back. "Where would you be without me?" she asked. The sentence seemed to recall their previous topic of conversation and she looked almost tragic. "I forgot. It was me -- I almost got you killed. *Did* get you killed."

"No!" he said, appalled. Somehow he couldn't seem to think well enough to explain this to her, to show her it wasn't her fault. "If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have come back! Wouldn't have," he said carefully. "Wouldn't have figured out how. I had to figure out how," he repeated slowly. "I couldn't leave. Not again. Not with you here."

For several moments they sat leaning against each other and at last Clark, urged on by the discomfort of the position, sat up straight. "Let's go in the living room," he suggested. "Come on."

Lois lurched to her feet, leaning heavily on him, and he started uncertainly for the other room, grasping at any stationary object with which to stabilize himself. A sudden thought made him look a trifle hazily back at the mugs and the nearly empty bottle sitting innocently on Lois's kitchen table, and the room tilted slowly leftward. He grasped the doorframe to keep his balance and waited until things steadied down once more. He still didn't have his powers, he realized vaguely, and he was feeling stranger than ever. Could it possibly be the brandy? Never having drunk anything alcoholic while without his powers before, he really didn't have any idea how it might affect him, and his head sure felt strange.

"Come on, Clark," Lois urged, pulling at his arm. "Le's go siddown. I don't feel so good."

Neither did he. Placing one foot carefully before the other, he steered Lois slowly toward the living room sofa.

It was a relief to settle down on the security of the sofa, with Lois sitting next to him. She leaned against the sofa back and he found that he was looking at her, wondering how or why he had ever even considered, even for a minute, leaving her after the Georgie Hairdo debacle. She was looking back at him, and smiled at him a little sadly.

"Don' get killed again," she said. "You're my best friend. I don't have another best friend. Never did." She appeared to contemplate his face for a moment. "Don't have anybody but you."

He shook his head. "I won't," he said. He put his arm around her. "You're my best friend too." He blinked at her. "You're so pretty," he added. "I thought so the first time I saw you."

"You really think so?" she asked.

He nodded. "Uh huh." He rubbed his forehead. "I think maybe I'm a little tipsy."

"Yeah," Lois said. "Me too."

"But I still mean it," he said.

"Me too."

They were quiet for several minutes. Clark leaned back against the sofa, wincing a little at the uncomfortable position, and Lois shifted slightly so her cheek rested against his shoulder. "Feels nice," she said.


Silence. Drowsiness crept over him and his head fell forward once, jerking him awake. Beside him, Lois murmured sleepily. For several minutes, he considered the wisdom of just staying here. It was tempting, but Lois's sofa was giving him a crick in his neck. He was just about to straighten up when someone knocked sharply on Lois's door.

Lois opened her eyes, looking around in a puzzled way. The knocking came again and with it Jimmy's voice. "Lois! The Chief wanted me to drop off some stuff for you. Lois? Are you there?"

"Yeah," she muttered. "Get the door, would you, Clark?"

"Uh...sure." Clark squirmed out of the cushions and got to his feet, clutching at the sofa back for support as the room took a leisurely turn to the right, but managed to make it to the door. After a moment of fumbling with clumsy fingers, he managed to undo the locks and got it open.

Jimmy was standing outside, looking harassed, but his expression changed as soon as he saw Clark. "Oh, hi CK. Is Lois here? I guess she must be, since you are. Perry sent this stuff over for Lois to look at. Where is she?"

"Asleep," Clark said. He missed the odd glance Jimmy gave him. "I'll give it to her."

Jimmy handed it to him, a faint grin on his features. "Hey, CK, are you all right?"

"Huh? Yeah."

Jimmy's eyes flicked over him and he sniffed the air. His grin widened slightly. "How come you're wearing Lois's glasses?"

"I lost mine," Clark told him. "G'night."

"Good night," Jimmy said. He turned and retreated down the hallway, whistling softly.

Clark closed the door. In the back of his mind he wondered vaguely how Jimmy had known the glasses belonged to Lois. He glanced at his partner and grimaced. She was asleep again and was undoubtedly going to have a sore neck if she slept there all night. He laid the packet of papers down on the seat of one of her armchairs and went to the sofa. "Come on, Lois. You can't sleep here."

She half-opened her eyes at his tug on her arm and, protesting slightly, got to her feet with his help. Together they made their way to her bedroom. Clark settled her on her bed, pulled off her high heels and drew the blankets over her. He looked down at her for a moment and then leaned over to kiss her lightly on the forehead.

"I love you, Lois," he whispered. "I'm going to tell you everything -- just as soon as I work up the nerve."

She murmured something indistinguishable and turned onto her side, snuggling down under the blankets. After another long second, he straightened up and turned toward the door. A glance in the mirror of her dresser solved the mystery of Jimmy and the glasses. The little rhinestones that decorated the frames winked at him in the light of the reading lamp on Lois's nightstand.

It didn't matter, though. He was sleepy and, since the brandy was definitely affecting him, it probably wasn't too safe for him to be wandering around the streets at this hour. As an afterthought, he snapped off the light and ambled vaguely back out into the sitting room to sit back down on the sofa. He'd just wait here until the brandy wore off, he thought. Then he'd go home. Besides, his powers would probably come back before morning. The sofa wasn't particularly comfortable, so after a moment he settled down on the carpet. The oddity of the action didn't even cross his mind. A little shut-eye would probably do him good.

It was Lois's voice that brought him out of sleep some hours later. "Clark Kent, you come down here right now! You've got some explaining to do, mister!"