Clark Stays Over — Part 1

By Melissa Dore

Summary: When Clark's apartment house burns down, Lois invites him to stay at her place … and discovers that her feelings toward Clark are more than friendly. She asks Superman to protect Clark — and also to secretly help her find the arsonist.

OK — my gift for LCWS and Valentine's day. Characters used without permission … yada yada … you know the routine. Comments, advice … possible likings can be emailed to the below address. Enjoy! Missy

[Rhen's note: all three parts are included in this file]


Perry came bursting out of his office. He had just taken his first breath to start on a tirade when he looked at Lois and Clark. Both were covered in soot and smelled like smoke. Clark looked like he lost his best friend. Lois was looking at Clark with concerned eyes.

"Clark! Lois! What in great shades happened to you?" Perry had completely forgotten his tirade.

Clark just sat down at his desk and stared at the blank screen on his computer. Lois gave him a squeeze on the shoulder and signaled Perry that they should talk in his office.

Curiosity overwhelming him, Perry followed Lois in, and shut the door. When he turned around he was surprised to see Lois flopped in his overstuffed chair … barely keeping back tears …

Perry realized this was Father Perry time … he sat on the edge of his desk and waited.

"Perry … " Lois whispered, "Clark's apartment…it's gone!" Perry stared at her … " What do you mean gone? Was it broken into again?"

"No … gone. We were out most of last night following that lead on the Hob's bay protection racket. It was about 4 am and we decided that nothing was going to happen, so I was dropping him off at his building when we saw the smoke. We raced to the door, but the smoke was billowing out the windows. I called the fire department on my cell phone, but it was too late. The place was engulfed in flames when we got there, and all the fire department could do was prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings. Clark's lost everything!"

Perry was stunned. To lose everything was one of his greatest fears. "Lois, are you sure _everything_ was lost? The fire could have been on another floor … Fires have a habit of looking bigger than they actually are."

Lois nodded … "I hope that's the case, Perry. The fire department wouldn't let us go near the building. They want the fire inspectors to go over it and make sure the place is safe."

Perry nodded. "So how's Clark taking all of this? I haven't seen him so low since … well, since …" Perry looked at Lois apologetically. "Since you agreed to marry Lex Luthor."

Lois's head shot up. She gave Perry a funny look and then nodded. "I don't know about that Perry, but I'm worried about him. He just stared at the building. He hasn't said _anything_ since we found the building engulfed in smoke."

Lois got up and walked to the window.

"I'm really worried about Clark, Perry. It scares me to see him this quiet. I tried to goad him a little on the way here, but I didn't get a whimper out of him!"

Perry joined Lois at the window. "Lois, it's the shock. You have to think of that. His whole life has just vanished. All he has left are the memories. Give him time and support … he'll come around."

Lois looked at Perry. She sighed. "You're right Perry, as usual. It's just … It's just that I've never seen him like this. So … sooo … despondent."

Perry wrapped his arm around Lois, and gave it a tight squeeze.

"What Clark needs now, Lois, is quiet attention and patience. I want Clark to take a couple days off. He'll need them for the insurance people and arson officials anyway. Why don't you stay with him … keep an eye on him..and," Perry felt a twinge of guilt, "see if you can find a story in all this."

Perry felt Lois go stiff for a moment. Then she sighed, "O.K., Perry … and thanks, I think."

Perry watched her go over to Clark's desk. Poor kids, he thought. Clark looses his home, and Lois is so confused by her feelings for him, she doesn't know what to do. I hope I just steered her in the right direction. With that, Perry closed his door, sighed, and went back to his haven, editing.


Clark didn't even hear Lois come up to his desk. All he could hear was the fire crackling, all his pictures, tapes and trophies going up in smoke. He hoped that his Superman suits went up in flames, otherwise he'd have a _lot_ of explaining to do.

Clark thought back to the night before.

The night had been cold, but Clark could just make out stars past the bright lights of Metropolis. Hob's Bay had once been a nice section of the city, but as time changed, so did the neighborhood. One of Lois's many snitches said that Intergang had started a protection racket here … Lois thought that it might be part of a plan to control the waterfront again. They spent most of the night scrunched down in the front of Lois's Cherokee. They had shared coffee and sandwiches from her Uncle Mike's cafe. They chatted about Lois's growing up in the city, Clark's life in Smallville and their lives in college. Clark had cherished the time to get to know one another.

Early in the morning, both of them realized that the snitch was lying, or Intergang had been tipped off. Lois suggested that she drop Clark off for a couple hours of sleep before showing up at the office. Yawning, Clark agreed.

It was then that all hell had broken loose. Coming around the corner to his building, Clark had smelled smoke. He looked up and saw black acrid smoke leaking around the window frames. He was trying to figure a way to ditch Lois, when she saw the smoke.

"Fire! Clark … your building is on fire!"

With that, she pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911. Clark pulled down his glasses and x-rayed the building. His only other neighbor was on vacation, so no one was inside. The flames were everywhere. He couldn't see where they started. He tried to get closer to the building, where he could properly aim his superbreath, but Lois put a hand on his shoulder.

"Clark! Don't go near there! The fire is all through the building! You'll be hurt!"

"Lois, my … my neighbor …"

"Is on vacation, you told me that yourself! No one's hurt, yet. So please don't get any closer!"

With that, Clark sighed and stared. Using all his special vision, he watched all his possessions go up in smoke.


Clark didn't remember getting to the Planet, or even to his desk. Suddenly he felt Lois's hand on his shoulder. Startled, he jumped.

"Clark, it's all right. It's just me. I talked to Perry … he wants us to take a couple of days off."

"Why you Lois? That doesn't sound like Perry."

Lois narrowed her eyes. For someone so good at lying, Clark could always see right through her.

"Perry … well, Perry wanted me to see if there was a story in the fire. Arson or something. Soooo … I'm to tag along and keep you company."

"That's what I thought."

"Clark … that's just Perry's way of making sure you're OK. Understand? He couldn't give me a day off with out _some_ major explanation, but if I'm tracking down a story … even if it doesn't pan out … well … it's an excuse."

Clark just stared at his computer. Lois wondered if he even noticed the blank screen. This isn't right, she thought…

She grabbed Clark by the shoulders..

"OK, Big Boy … up and at 'em! We've got loads to do … and you're not helping by staring at a blank screen."

"Lois … I … I don't feel …"

"That's your problem … Up. UP!! Move mister, we've got clothes to buy. Believe me … two days in the same clothing could destroy anyone's spirits."

Clark stood up and followed Lois out. He didn't really feel like thinking and going along was better than arguing. This worried Lois. She hoped a shower and new clothes would at least snap him out of it. She wondered if he had called his parents. She hadn't seen him use a phone.

While Clark was in the dressing room, Lois called Clark's parents. Martha picked up on the third ring.


"Martha? Hi .. It's Lois Lane."

"Lois? Is something wrong? Where's Clark?"

"He's in the dressing room right now. I wondered if he called you today. He's fine … sort of …"

"I tried him this morning … but all it did was ring and ring. The answering machine never picked up! _Why_ are you calling me while Clark's in a dressing room?"

Lois straightened. This wasn't going to be easy.

"There was a fire in Clark's building … He's OK. He was with me, but his apartment is basically, well … totaled. He's a mess, Martha. He's barely said a word and it's only by pushing him did I get him away from staring at a blank computer screen."

"Oh … god. Jonathan! Get in here! Now!!!"

Lois had to hold the phone away from her ear as Martha yelled for her husband.


"I can't believe you called my parents, Lois. I would have called them later. You just worried them."

Lois and Clark were in Lois's apartment. After Jonathan had gotten on the phone, Lois tossed her cell phone to Clark in the dressing room. Try as she might, she couldn't hear anything. Clark must have had his face to the back wall. When Clark came out of the dressing room, he stared at Lois. Just stared. Lois thought that was more unnerving than any yelling might have done. It also told her, he hadn't started to recover yet.

They had spent the rest of the morning picking up new clothing for Clark. She even got to see the bizarre shop where Clark got his ties. It was this little hole in the wall. A T-shirt in the window, and all the sign said was "Ed's". She had no _idea_ how he found the place. Must be a guy thing.

The afternoon was spent filling out forms at the insurance office, filling out forms at City Hall, and filling out forms at the Arson Squad. Lois kept wondering how Clark could fill out all those forms and not complain of writer's cramp. Even with all the writing they do, most of it was on computer these days.

So far, the Arson squad hadn't come up with anything. They had ruled out accidental fire, but they hadn't found the hot spots yet. The Fire Marshall said the building would be "hot" for the next 24 hours … so, no admission.

The admission of arson set off Lois's reporter's instinct. Clark had only been in Metropolis for a couple of years, but he had made quite a few enemies. His neighbor was a CPA, and Lois couldn't see anyone torching him … hanging over a 200 foot drop maybe … but not setting him ablaze. She couldn't have Clark wandering all over the city by himself. She'd lost him once. (The thought of his body on the bar floor flooded to the surface. She shoved it to the back of her mind) Come hell or high water … she'd not lose him again … even if she had to ask <gulp> Mayson for help.

As Clark finished his final form (for the day), Lois watched him move to the desk. His shoulders were hunched and he dragged his feet. The sight made Lois's blood tingle. Lois questioned her response, shook her head and got up.

"Common Clark, we're going ho … to my place."

Clark stared at Lois over the top of his glasses. "Why would I do that, Lois? Your exhausted. We've been up all night. I'll find a hotel room …"

"Clark Jerome Kent! You'll do _no such thing!_ Your apartment may have been torched by someone out to get you! I'm _not_ letting you out of my sight!"

Clark looked startled. Where had she found out his middle name? Only his Mom used it, and only in severe punishment tone. Trust Lois to find that out. He looked at Lois again. Yup. The LOOK. He felt warm as her stare continued. Too tired to resist, he swung his hand out, told her, "you're the top banana" and headed to her apartment.

It was there, after a faxed dinner from the House of Hunan, that Clark had taken Lois to task about calling his parents. He still felt this weight hanging over him … but Lois didn't mention the fire or his apartment. Despite Perry's wishes, Lois hadn't looked for a story, she'd just been his friend. He'd caught her concerned looks at the store and the Arson squad's office. Some of the weight lifted as he remembered her presence.

Lois decided that they shouldn't talk about the fire and the possibility that someone was after Clark, until they had both gotten a good night's sleep. Lois got up and pulled out her extra blankets.

"You take the bed, Clark. You're too tall for my couch."

"Lois, neither one of us has had any sleep. You'll feel much better in your own bed. I'll be fine on the couch."

"Right … I suppose you sleep in the Lotus position?"

"No … on my stomach."

Lois stared at Clark … and then grinned … and started to chuckle. She watched as Clark's eyes glimmered a little. She felt relief … the fire hadn't destroyed his spirits after all, merely buried them for a while.

Clark found Lois's chuckle to be infectious. Even with the devastation of the day … his heart warmed. She had been there for him. He allowed a grin to come through.

"I'm taking the couch … I won't get much sleep tonight, anyway."

Lois tried holding back a yawn … she just couldn't help herself.

"See, Lois? You're exhausted. Take a shower and go to bed. I'll see you in the morning."

With that, Clark took the blankets from her hands, and headed to the couch.

Lois shrugged. He was probably right. Whenever disaster hit her, she didn't sleep … only paced the floors. She yawned again, and headed for the bedroom. After a quick shower, she hugged the teddy bear Clark had won for her and let sleep win.


Clark paced the floor of the living room. He heard Lois's rhythmic breathing and knew she had finally fallen asleep. Noticing that the floor creaked, Clark started pacing in the air.

It was arson. Luthor? Intergang? Who would want him dead? He wanted to stay at a hotel, to keep Lois out of danger … but now …

Clark stared at the bedroom door. She cared for him. She'd called his parents … thinking if anyone could help … it was them.

It was hard talking to them in the dressing room. He knew Lois was trying to evesdrop, so he whispered and let Mom do most of the talking. Mom somehow knew what to say … she was glad he wasn't in there and she'd FedEx a couple of new suits out to him. He was glad that he always kept one stashed nearby or wore it. He'd have to fly over to his building and make sure all the suits were destroyed. He didn't want any investigators finding them. He could say they were left there _by_ Superman … but Lois would be suspicious.

He was lost in these thoughts when Lois opened her bedroom door.


Clark quickly lowered himself to the floor. It was a good thing he was behind the couch when she walked in.

"Yes, Lois?"

Lois was wearing her oversized Mickey Mouse T-shirt. Clark had to admire that no matter how tired she was … she was beautiful.

"Clark … you can't sleep. I'm up … do you want to watch a movie?"

"Did I wake you?"

Lois looked at Clark. He hadn't even changed his clothes.

"No … I woke up on my own. I guess that with all the running around, and the caffeine … my body has no idea what time it is."

Clark pointed to the couch. "Have a seat. What do you want to watch?"

"Mel Gibson is always nice. We haven't seen Leathal Weapon III yet."

Clark thought of the night that _he_ watched it. She was asleep in his arms. Now _that_ was a good night.

Clark found the tape and shoved it in the VCR. Lois found the remote and flipped on the TV. She sat down on the corner of the couch. Clark sat next to her.

"This is supposed to be really good." Lois commented. She then cursed herself for coming up with such inane chatter.

Clark put his head back on the couch. "Uh-huh …" was all he said.

As Lois sat and watched the movie, her feet curled up underneath her. Clark was beginning to feel a little spacy. His head started to roll, and he felt his eyelids dropping.

Lois was trying to give Clark mental support, and wasn't watching … when she felt his weight on her shoulder. She put her arm around him and whipered "Clark?"

He was asleep. She didn't think anything would wake him. Just as well. But he looked uncomfortable. He was at these strange angles, and Lois knew from experience that that would mean great pain in the morning.

Lois shifted her weight. She was going to get off the couch and let him stretch out.

Fate had different plans.

As she started to move, Clark groaned.

<This won't do> she thought, <I move and he wakes up. He needs his sleep.>

So Lois carefully stretched her legs the length of the couch, and moved so that her back was resting on the arm. With his support gone, Clark's body followed the path of least resistance, in this case gravity.

Clark's head slid down to lay on Lois's chest. With a deft push from her outside leg, Clark's legs were on the couch. One of his arms was pinned against the back, and the other flopped over the side.

<That doesn't _look_ comfortable>, thought Lois. And then she felt Clark's soft breathing on her chest. <But he seems to like it.>

Lois turned off the TV with her remote. She sat there staring at the top of Clark's head. Absentmindedly, she started running her fingers through his hair, taking out rat's nests and smoothing it down.

As they lay there, Lois thought about Clark. She thought of the danger he might be in now.

Clark turned his head to face the back. His glasses slipped off his nose. Lois deftly removed them, and placed them on the end table. She went back to smoothing down his hair.

<He has such fine features> She thought. Then this little nagging voice rattled off in the back of her head.

*Fine features?* *That's _all_ you can think about?*

<Well, no …>


Lois shook her head. Lack of sleep did funny things to ones mind.

*How do you feel about him?*

That was the last question Lois wanted to hear. She was never sure of _what_ she felt towards Clark. She cared for him as a friend.


She _did_!

*There's more and _you_ know it!*

Suddenly Lois was looking down on Clark's body. It was burned and the clothing charred. His glasses were shattered.

"I'm sorry, Lois … I wasn't fast enough."

Lois looked up. It was Superman. He had a sad look on his face, but no grief. Just a facade.

"Clark …?" Lois thought her heart had stopped.

"He's dead, Lois. The arsonist followed him to your office. I … I was too late."

Lois stared at this man. The man she _thought_ she loved. "You! You _let_ him _die_! You … you _killed_ the man I love!"

Superman through back his head and laughed. It was an evil laugh … one that chilled Lois.

Lois bent down and rested Clark's body on her lap.

"You bastard! You wanted me … so you killed Clark! You'll _never_ have me! NEVER!!!"

Tears were falling down Lois's face. She'd lost him. The man she'd die for … the man she … loved.

The maniacal laugh changed pitch. Lois looked up. Lex Luthor's head was now on Superman's body.

The head spoke.

"I knew how you felt Lois. Why do you think I blew up the Planet? I wanted you. I was the better man! He … well he was trash. And you picked me … didn't you?"

Lois stared at the head. She had picked Lex over Clark. She'd been a fool. Clark had tried to warn her … but she, as usual, was too stubborn to listen. Now Clark was dead … because of her.

Lois screamed.


Lois's eyes blasted open. She was still on her couch, Clark's head resting on her chest. She sighed.

It was a dream! She ran her hand through Clark's hair. She froze.

Clark had died once for her. She wouldn't let him down.

Lois felt this strange feeling come over her. She looked down at Clark. The voice had been right all along …

She *loved* him.

** Clark Stays Over — Part 2 **

Lois just stared down at Clark, who was sleeping, his head on her lap. She _loved_ him. Clark! When on earth did this happen? Lois tried to think back… everything seemed so clear now… why she couldn't marry Lex… her jealousy of Mayson… the unexplainable anger she felt when she first saw Clark kiss Mayson. Hah! The nerve of some people.

Lois felt a warmth rush through her veins. This was the man she wished to be with forever… but someone was trying to kill him!

She couldn't —no, _wouldn't_ let that happen. She'd find out who, and have the bastards locked behind bars so fast their heads would spin.

Her hands absently brushed Clark's hair. What should she tell him? Should she come admit that she loved him? No, not yet. She winced, remembering when she turned Clark down. He was lying then .. wasn't he? Or was he lying after Lex's death? Lois's mind was embroiled in confusion — and his being so near wasn't helping. She had to think.

With a final brush of his hair, Lois slowly wiggled out from under Clark. What was he made of? Lead? Or a pile of bricks? She scooted over the top of the couch, and stood up, sort of. She looked down at herself and winced. My legs are asleep! How come I didn't notice that?

With quiet eeeches and ouches, Lois wobbled into the bedroom and flopped on her bed. The pain began to ebb and when they diminished to light tingles, she could continue thinking about Clark.

What do I do now? Do I start looking for the people out to kill Clark? Or, do I tell him about my feelings? Lois stared out the window. The sun was beginning to rise over the building across the alley.

She _couldn't_ tell him about her feelings, not yet anyway… she'd shunned him once… and with the fire… It would seem as if she was just feeling sorry for him. And was she? *NO!* Of that she was sure…the feelings when he had died were so acute _because_ of her love…

"Great .. just great .. my legs are asleep and my brain's doing the tango."

She snatched the pen and paper off the night stand next to her bed. She _was_ going to find out who was trying to kill Clark. She'd pull out all the stops.

Only one problem: how was she going to keep _Clark_ out of danger? She needed to keep him busy… a distraction, to keep him safe, and out of her way. She'd have Perry find him a nice _quiet_ story.

She was still pondering this when exhaustion outweighed her new feelings of love and concern and she drifted off to sleep, the notepad slipping out of her hand and onto the blanket.


Clark woke up face down in Lois couch. He couldn't remember falling asleep. He rubbed his face. Where are my *glasses*? ohh geez, no… Clark looked around quickly and sighed with relief when he saw them on the end table. She took them off. Did she notice anything I'll have a hard time explaining? No, he didn't think so: otherwise her screaming at him would have waken up the dead, and he'd _definitely_ been sleeping in the netherworld.

Rubbing his face, Clark wandered over to the wall mirror. Too bad being invulnerable didn't save you from having pillow, or in this case, couch face in the morning. He looked closer and decided a shave was _more_ than a little necessary.

As Clark headed into the bathroom, hoping that Lois wouldn't mind his borrowing a few towels and some water. Wanting to confirm that Lois was asleep, so she wouldn't stumble in while he was doing anything super, he peeked in at Lois.

She was curled up with the Teddy bear he won for her at the Smallville Corn Festival. He warmed in those memories. She looked cold…should he cover her? No, she'd probably get all flustered and yell at him. Clark sighed, smiled and headed for the bathroom for a little heat vision shave and a hot shower.


Lois woke up to the sound of water running. She hadn't left the faucet on, had she? But then she remembered everything about last night. She jumped up and ran to the closet. What should she wear? Slacks or skirt? Brown, gray or maybe that forest green suit? Should she wear her hair up or down? What color eye shadow? Were her teeth clean?

Panic began to settle in — until she stopped herself. "And.. _how_ may I ask, young lady, are you going to explain the _dressing up_ to Clark? Hmmmmm? Be real…It's not like you have a major interview or something. Clark would know something's up." Lois selected a navy blue dress suit, pulled on her robe, and wandered around aimlessly tidying up, waiting for Clark to get out of the bathroom.

She made a mental checklist of things to do today:

1. Find Clark a safe assignment. Perry could help with that. Perry _should_ know that Clark's in danger.

2. Find Bobby Bigmouth. Wait…

2a. get lots of food. Greek? Bobby was looking for some good Greek food.

3. Make Bobby tell what's going on with Clark.

4a. Clark's _not_ in trouble. Then forget about it.

4b. Clark _is_ in trouble. Tell Perry. Find Superman.

Lois heard Clark coming out of the bathroom. Putting her list on hold, she fixed a warm smile on her face, and wished him a good morning.


Perry watched Clark and Lois enter the newsroom. He noted that Clark looked _much_ better than yesterday. The shock was gone, replaced with Clark's usual buoyant nature. Ahh, youth… such great recuperative powers. And Lois? He stared at his star reporter. Something was different, but he wasn't quite sure what. That would have to wait for later anyway because he recalled giving Clark some time off.

"Clark!" the editor barked. "What in tar nation are you doing here? I _told_ you to take a couple of days off and it's only been 12 hours since I last saw you in here!"

Clark had just opened his mouth when Lois stepped in front of him. The words came out of Lois in a torrent.

"We figured it was better if Clark kept to a work schedule. You know, to keep his mind off things. He can't do anything until the arson squad approves reentry into the building. So do you have anything _quiet_ he can work on?"

Clark _stared_ at Lois. Perry thought. There she goes, trying to drop him, just so she can get the scoop. Somethings _never_ change.

"Anything _quiet_ 'I' can work on? And just _what_ are _you_ going to be working on?"

Lois was ready for this, and she met Clark's stare. With a smile to lighten the mood Lois replied:

"I'm just going to work on the age discrimination story for the Sunday paper, and have a _little_ chat with my friendly snitch."

"About what?"

"About giving us false information and making us stay up all night for no apparent reason!"

"Can't I come with you and testify about the cramped space endured for no reason?"

"I think I can do that quite well. It would be a waste of manpower to have both of us there."

Perry decided to halt the game before it began. "Okay, okay, people. Lois, go chew out your snitch, I don't like the idea of my two best reporters using their skills on a worthless story. Clark, I'm putting you on the Marston case. Head down to the precinct and see if anyone will talk. Sam's there, but all his informants are mute."

"Sure thing, Chief." Clark nodded to Lois and headed for the elevator.

The Marston case was a hot topic. Bill Marston had control of Brinks bank Far East investments. He had swindled, at last count, over half a billion dollars, forcing the bank to declare bankruptcy. The whole escapade had sent ripples through financial centers, and there was talk of a stock crash. Marston has fled, but was caught at the Metropolis International Airport.

Lois and Perry watched him go.

"Thanks, Perry."

"For what? I was going to give the Marston case to him anyway, it's right up his alley. White collar crime at its worst."

"Sure, Perry, then what's Sam doing down there?" Lois smiled.

Perry just turned and headed back into his office.


Lois sat in the driver's seat of her Jeep, trying _not_ to eat the baklava she got for Bobby Bigmouth. Or the mint lamb, the puff bread and the cous cous. She had heard Bobby was in search of Greek delicacies…she tried her best. Clark was the _real_ food expert of the team, but he wasn't going to be in on this.

"Hi Lois…Ummmm puff bread…That's Indian…but I like it."

Lois whipped around. Bobby had slid into the back seat and was helping himself to the food. Lois grabbed the baklava.

"Hey!" Bobby looked disappointed.

"No desert until I get information."

"Lois, I always give you information.."

"It's important Bobby! What happened at Clark's building night before last?"

"It burned."

"Great observation, Bobby. _Why_ did it burn? Is someone after Clark?"

Bobby looked longingly at the baklava… He knew that Lois loved deserts as much as he did and that she would get the good stuff. He looked at her. His face showed the yearning for a good piece of baklava. "Yes." He reached for what Lois held. Lois pulled the baklava farther away. "Who? Tell me, Bobby — or no baklava!!"

"Geez, Lois, you're _really_ mean without Clark around…"

"Spill it!"

"I'm not sure who is behind it, but a guy named Scorcher has the contract. He likes making it look like an accident. He meant to miss the other night. He's too good to mess up like that. I don't know who Clark aggravated, but Scorcher is one of the best —_and_ most expensive."

Lois handed over the Baklava. Bobby started munching, but then he paused.

"Lois, Clark is in _real_ danger. This guy won't give up. He'll destroy everything in his sight to get to his target. Once he blew up a ten-story building just to kill one person. So don't go looking for him or he'll try to kill you too, and _then_ where would I get the good eats?"

With a salute and a quick grab of the remaining bags of food, Bobby Bigmouth slithered out the back door and disappeared.


Lois sat in a state of shock for several minutes. She _was_ right! Clark was in danger! She had to get him out of the city, but how? Who should she tell? Clark? Perry? Mayson? <ugh…no>, Martha and Jonathan? Superman? Yes! That's it! Superman had saved Clark before… but in her dream… he hadn't…

Lois remembered that horrid vision of Superman standing over Clark's charred body, saying he was sorry.

"That was a dream, Lois! Wake up! Clark's a good friend of his, he _will_ help. Just… Just… how on _earth_ do I contact him without letting Clark know?"

Lois started the Jeep and headed back to the office.


Clark was already back from the Marston case. Sam had been right…the case was so hush hush…that _no one_ was talking about it. The Planet would just have to wait for the press release. No one was saying where Bill Marston was, or who would get first crack at him.

Clark heard Lois walk over to her desk. He had those footsteps memorized. He looked up. Lois's face was pale and she fumbled with her purse. She attacked her computer with a vengeance. _Something_, other than the age discrimination case, was up.

Clark got up and approached her desk. "Lois?" Lois spied him coming over and quickly cleared her screen.

"Cl…Clark! How…uh…when did you get back?"

<Great she's hiding something…> Clark thought.

"I've been here, Lois. Sam couldn't get anything, and neither could I. So you won…I had a _quiet_ morning."

"Good…uh…good…I…I've got to go see Perry…no! Ahh…no…private stuff…no and a not a story…personal…there he is…Go sit down Clark!"

Perry, who had been over at Emily's desk proofing, looked up to see Clark with the most _puzzled_ look on his face. He saw Lois bee line it to the him, grabbed his arm, and hauled him back into his office. Clark was just about to listen in when he saw Lois fling her arms around Perry. This was personal, he decided when he got over the shock of what he was seeing, so he wouldn't eavesdrop.

Clark sat down to work on cleaning up a couple of articles… and to worry about Lois. Well, he thought, worrying about her is taking my mind off my own troubles… Perry was overwhelmed by the hug Lois gave him. And more than a little concerned. She hauled him in the office and wham! Bear hug. Perry returned the hug briefly, and then proceeded to pry Lois off. He looked down at his star reporter. Her eyes were filled with tears and her eyebrows were knitted with worry.

Quietly Perry asked, "Lois? What's wrong?"

"The…the fire are Clark's yesterday…" she gasped, "it wasn't an accident, someone's trying to kill Clark!!!"

Perry was shocked. Kill Clark? That kid attracted trouble, like Elvis attracted women!

"Now Lois, are you sure??"

Lois sniffed. "Perry, I just got back from talking to Bobby Bigmouth. He says a guy named the Scorcher has been hired to kill Clark! The man's a professional and the fire was just a warning!"

"Lois, I believe you… but why don't you just tell Clark?"

"NO!! No, not after I nearly lost him last time…"

"Lois, Clark needs to know his life is in danger. That way he can keep an eye out and make plans. Maybe we should call the DA's office"

"What…and tell Mayson we _think_ someone is after Clark? But we don't know who? Or why? No, thank you! I'm not going to look like a idiot in front of her!"

"Lois, personal opinions get set aside in a case like this. Mayson is a professional. Besides, there's more than one Assistant DA"

"Perry, we don't know _who's_ involved. Clark's exposes have shown more than enough corruption in the DA's office to prevent him from being safe."

"Okay. So we won't call the DA's office yet. But I think we should tell Clark —"

"NO! Clark would think I'm imagining all of this.."

Perry sighed. "Now Lois, you _know_ that wouldn't be the case. He didn't imagine his apartment being burned down, did he?"

"Okay… I'd…I'd just like a plan set up _before_ we tell Clark. We need to get him to a safe place, but where? I think Superman will help us, he and Clark are close, but how do we call Superman _without_ telling Clark?"

Perry thought for a minute and brightened. He stood up, went to his office door, checked to see that Clark wasn't in the newsroom, opened the door and shouted.


Jimmy, who had been chatting with Angela, bolted into the Chief's office. "Yeah, Chief?" Jimmy was frantically wondering what he had down to have Perry yell at him.

"Do you still have that watch from S.T.A.R. Labs? The one that apparently only Superman can hear?"

"Yeah, Chief, I'm wearing it now…"

"Good, give it to Lois…"

"But, Chief…?" Lois, knowing how this might drag on, sighed,

"Just give me the watch, Jimmy."

Jimmy handed over the watch.

Perry grunted approval.

"Thank you. Now, skeedaddle."

Jimmy stared at Lois and Perry. They weren't going to tell him _anything_. He sighed and slinked out of the office.

Perry handed Lois the watch.

"I'd advise you to use this outside. Perhaps the roof?"

Lois held the watch, looking at the signal button. She _would_ save Clark — and Superman would help her!

Perry put a gentle arm on Lois's shoulder. "We _will_ keep Clark safe Lois, that's a promise. We've just gotten him broken in, and I'm sure you don't want a new partner."

"NO! I… I… no."

Lois left Perry's office and headed for the elevator. Perry let a slight smile touch the corner of his mouth. <So the kid has finally figured out she loves Clark. 'Bout time.> The smile faded away…<Now if we can keep Clark alive…>. Perry grimaced and headed back to his desk. He looked at his the gold-framed picture of Elvis hanging on the back of his office door. "If you're up there, put in a good word for Clark, eh? He'll need all the help he can get, what with Lois on his side…"


Lois climbed the stairs to the roof. Whispering a prayer, she activated the signal watch. Clark was so startled as his ear drums groaned in protest of the racket that he nearly dropped his coffee.

_How_ many times had he told Jimmy to only use that watch in case of emergencies? He looked over at Jimmy… who wasn't wearing the watch! Now who…?

Clark decided that Superman had better find out. Whipping into the store room, he flew out of the window moments later as Superman and using x-ray vision, discovered the source of the noise: Lois was on the roof and she had the watch.

Superman flew out a half block, then up to 1,000 feet, and then back down to the Planet roof, landing behind Lois.

"Lois! What's wrong? And will you turn that thing off, please?"

Lois quickly silenced the watch. She stared at Superman: could he help? Or would her dream come true? Lois shook herself of that horrible vision… {Personally, I thin

"Superman, I need your help."

"You see, it started night before last. Clark's apartment burned down…"

Lois told Superman everything she had learned about the contract out on Clark. Looks of surprise and concern alternated on Superman's face. Lois was really scared. Scared to the point of no babbling No wonder her face was white and she had jumped when he came up behind her…

When she stopped, Superman asked, "Why don't you tell Clark? Doesn't he have a right to know?"

Lois looked at Superman…a quick gust of wind had blown his cape around the both of them, so she had caught it and was fiddling with the edges.

"I wanted to have a plan, before I told him…I needed a place for him to be safe…when I…I lost him before…"

Lois's hands tightened on the cape..

"You saved him and I can never repay you for that…but I don't want to lose him again, ever. Promise you'll find a place to hide him! Promise to keep him safe!!" Lois looked at Superman's face. He couldn't say no, he _had_ to help them! Superman put his hands on Lois's shoulders.

"I promise, Lois. Now what about you?"

"They're not after me, just Clark. I'm going to find out who's after him and put a stop to it! _You_ keep him safe, and I'll take care of the rest."

"That's asking a lot, Lois. My time would be better spent helping you and Clark find the Scorcher.

She eyed Superman.

"Are you going to do it or not?"

Superman thought for a moment. How was he going to keep himself "safe", and keep Lois from getting herself killed?

"Sure I will, Lois. I have a place he can stay, a very _safe_ place. I call it my Fortress of Solitude. No one knows where it is…except me. Clark can stay there…and _no one_ will harm him."

Lois sighed. A fortress. Clark would be safe.

"Let me go get him. The faster he's at your fortress…the safer he'll be."

"NO! Lois.. to do that would mean that the Scorcher knows that you've found out. Then you wouldn't be safe. I'll pick him up tonight. Just tell him to come to the roof at 6. That's just over an hour from now. I'll take it from there."

"Oh, good idea. Maybe you have to do a little… Fortress cleaning, eh?" Lois nodded, trying to make a joke in the tense situation. "Okay, that will give me time to pack up some things for him and let him know what's going on. Be gentle with him, he won't _like_ leaving."

"Don't bother with his things Lois…I'll pick them up at your apartment later. The Scorcher might get suspicious if you bring a bag of Clark's things to the Planet. The first thing is to get Clark to my fortress. I'll see you at 10 o'clock."

"Can't I see Clark off?"

"No. Trust me, Lois."

With that Superman flew straight up and into a cloud.

Lois sighed. Clark would be safe. That was all that mattered.


Lois headed back to the newsroom. She gave Jimmy his watch without a word. Jimmy shrugged, "You're welcome." and headed for home. Lois headed for Clark. "Clark. Come into Perry's office. We need to talk."

Clark thought he did the puzzled look very well. Poor Lois, no wonder she had looked so worried. She seemed to brighten up when Superman agreed to keep him safe.

Perry shut the door behind Lois and Clark. Clark half listened as Perry relayed all the events to him. He was more concerned about Lois. <So I disappear for a while. [How am I going to keep an eye on Lois? She's _going_ to get into trouble> Clark warmed in the remembrance of her relief that he would be safe. Maybe she did have strong feelings towards him…maybe… He roused out of his train of thinking at Perry's voice.

"Clark! Are you still listening?"

Perry was concerned. Clark seemed to have zoned for a minute.

"Ohh…I'm fine, Chief… It's just… It's just so much to take in. Who would want to kill _me_?"

Lois touched Clark's hand. "I'm going to find out and we _will_ stop him. I… we just want you to be safe."

"So I'm supposed to hide in this 'Fortress' and you're going to be trying to get yourselves killed? I _don't_ think so."

Perry placed a calming hand on Clark's shoulder.

"Clark, I'm sure Superman has a full refrigerator and cable TV to boot. Why, you heard what Lois found out. For you to be here would not only endanger your life, but those of your colleagues. I think it would be best for everyone if you went with Superman."

Clark stared at Perry. He'd already figured out that problem…but he wanted his departure to look good. Clark sighed. "Okay, Chief, you win…when do I leave?"

"Six PM sharp, than one hour from now. Do you want to call your parents and let them know? I don't want them to be worried."

"I'll do that Perry. Could I use your phone? It'll be kind of hard to explain it to them…"

"Sure, Clark. Use my private line. It was checked for taps yesterday. Never know what those yellow rags are up to."

With that, Perry guided Lois out of the office. Clark picked up the phone and dialed home.


Martha picked up the phone in her studio. "Hello?"

"Mom? It's me. Is Dad there[, too]?"


Clark grimaced. "Mom…have you ever considered an intercom system?"

Martha laughed. "Clark, this is how I keep my lungs in shape!"

" 'lo? Son?"

"Hi Dad. Listen…"

Clark explained everything. His mom and dad were concerned, of course, but Mom laughed, "The Fortress of Solitude? Your old tree house?"

"It was the only thing that came to mind. Only you and I know about it. And Lois seemed reassured with the word 'Fortress'."

Jonathan interrupted. "What about Lois?. _She_ can't be safe. They might use her to lure you out of hiding."

"I know Dad. I'm worried about that, too. Superman will just have to keep his eyes open. But I don't know how I can stay close to her out like a sore thumb in those tights." I'll have to think of something."

Martha replied. "Come home for dinner. The three of us will try to think of something. See you at 6:05? I'll make chicken pie."

Clark agreed, said his good-byes, hung up and opened Perry's door. Perry and Lois were waiting for him. "They're worried," Clark reported, "but they agree that I'll be okay at Superman's fortress. Chief, call them if anything happens, okay?"

Perry nodded. He remembered the last time he called the Kents to tell them Clark had been murdered. His parents were certainly troopers.

Lois wrapped her arm around Clark's elbow. Quietly she said, "It's time.."

Clark looked down into Lois's face. She was almost crying. He said a quiet goodbye to Perry.. and then let Lois lead him to the elevator.


Lois was quiet in the elevator. She knew Clark was going to be safe and that was important. But why was her heart flipping around so much? She loved him… and now he had to go away[. F]or how long? When would he be able to come back?

When they reached the bottom of the stairs to the roof, Lois hugged Clark.

Clark hugged back. He felt Lois banging her fists into his chest.

He pulled her away to look at her face. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.


"Oh," she sniffed, "Clark… I'm going to miss you…!"

Lois buried her face deep into Clark's shoulder. Only with help from his superhearing could he hear her.

"I want you to come back, Clark, I'll solve this mystery soon… I… I have something to tell you… but not now, not here…"

Clark kissed the top of her head. He had to try to calm her down before Superman was supposed to arrive. "It's all right, Lois. I'll be fine. I'm sure I'll be back before you know it. Who else is going to listen to your… your babble?"

Lois looked at Clark's face. His embarrassed grin warmed her. He would be safe. She placed her hands on his cheeks and pulled his mouth to hers…

It was a kiss of promise and hope. To Lois, it was a kiss of love.

Lois broke the kiss and pushed Clark up the stairs.

After one look back, Clark opened the roof access.

Lois heard the *whoosh* of Superman's cape…

Clark was safe…

Lois sobbed…Clark was gone…

Lois cursed fire… and fate.

** Clark Stays Over — Part 3 **

The rain had slowed to a trickle. People started emptying out of the office buildings, trying to beat the next downpour. Rush hour was going to be hell tonight. The man in the forest green trench coat shrugged off the excess water, and stared at the Daily Planet's entranceway. Clark Kent had gone in there four hours ago, and now the Scorcher waited to finish his assignment.

Patience was one of the Scorcher's best traits. At least he thought so. The rain running down his back made no impression. His one goal was to finish his latest assignment: Clark Kent. The Scorcher liked to confuse people before the final blow. What better way to confuse someone than to destroy his home? The Kent fire was indeed spectacular. Old lofts like that were full of old chemicals that burned in many bright hues. He was glad that Lois Lane had prevented Kent from entering the building, that would have deprived the Scorcher of closure, and what good is an incident without closure?

The nondescript man in the forest green overcoat waited. Just like his Aunt Ruth said, patience makes perfect.


Perry watched Lois enter the newsroom. Her slow pace and puffy eyes gave her mood away, but the rest of the crew were too busy putting the Planet to bed to notice. Perry followed her to Clark's desk.

"Lois… did everything go all right?"

Lois ran her fingers over the back of Clark's chair.

"He's safe, Perry, Superman flew him to the Fortress ten minutes ago. At least the Scorcher can't get him there."

Perry put a comforting hand on Lois's shoulder.

"Well then, go home and get some rest. I've got a paper to put to bed."

Perry headed back to his office. Lois would bounce back, she always did. And when she came back, well… that would be a hell of a story.

Lois sat down in Clark's chair. Only yesterday Clark sat here dazed and confused over the loss of his apartment. Only an hour ago Lois had to tell Clark about the threat on his life, and only minutes since she had Superman whisk Clark to his Fortress of Solitude. It seemed so overwhelming.

Lois picked up the picture of Clark's parents off his desk. They were Clark's roots, they molded him into the person she had come to love. She wiped the smudges off the glass with her shirt sleeve.

"We'll find the Scorcher, Martha. I'll make sure you see him again, safe and sound. That's a promise from one woman who loves him to another. "

Lois put the picture back and headed for home. Clark's things needed to be packed for Superman to pick up. She looked at her watch, 6:30. Three and a half hours. An eternity.


"Clark, do you want some more potatoes?"

"Hmmm? What, Mom?"

"Clark, your mother asked if you wanted some more potatoes. If you don't eat them, then I'll be having hash for the next four days!"

"Oh, sorry Dad. I'm just not hungry."

Martha watched her son's face. He had been so despondent over leaving Lois in such a crisis. Martha got up and walked over to her son; she gave him a big hug.

"Clark, you had to leave. To stay would endanger your friends' lives. There has to be a way you can keep an eye on Lois and keep your identity as Superman a secret."

"But how, Mom? It's not like I can stroll down the street as Superman, and if I watched her from 30,000 feet… by the time I got there, something could have happened."

Martha released her hold on Clark and looked him in the eyes.

"Why not walk down the street as Superman?"

"Mom? What?"

Jonathan put down his fork and stared at this wife.

"Martha, Superman walking down the street? Wouldn't that be a little obvious? I mean the cape would stick out _just_ a little bit?"

Martha picked up the empty plates and walked over to the sink. Clark picked up a dish towel and followed her. She sunk her hands into the suds, took a breath, and started laying out her idea.

"Clark, Lois never notices your 'likeness' to Superman. Why should she notice Superman's 'likeness' to Clark? What if you went to help her in street clothes?"

"Mom, that would never work. Lois knows what I look like in street clothes, and she'd have me pegged in a second!"

"Hear me out, Clark. Hmmm.. Just a minute."

Martha wiped off her soapy hands, and headed up stairs. Clark could hear her roaming around, tripping on the board that always loosened up this time of year. Clark looked at his Dad. Jonathan shrugged.

"Son, I have absolutely no idea what your mother is up to. That's one of the things I love about her."

"I guess that's why I care for Lois so much, Dad. She and Mom have a lot of the same qualities."

"Except I know how to cook!", Martha chortled as she came back into the kitchen. "Here Clark, put this on."

Martha handed Clark a T-shirt. It was blue, and when he opened it up, there was _his_ logo. He stared at his mother for a moment, and with a shrug, pulled the shirt on. Martha stepped back to get the full picture.

"Good, Clark. Now slick your hair back and take off your glasses."

Clark complied.

"Now go into that 'Superman pose' of yours."

Clark straightened out, put his arms across his chest, and made his "hero face".

Jonathan stared, and Martha smiled.

"Wonderful Clark! With that tight fitting T-shirt, and the S so pronounced, no one, not even Lois, will know you're Clark!"

"Mom, that's what you said about the costume!"

"And I was right!"

With that, Clark felt more sure than he had all day. Maybe this could be pulled off! Clark looked at his parents and smiled.

"Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad. You two always know how to help me out."

Martha hugged Clark.

"That's what we're here for. Just remember, you're Superman. You can't act like Clark around her. If you do, well, I'd stay clear of the fireworks."

"I'll do my best, Mom."

"You always do."


Lois scanned her apartment one more time. Had she gotten everything? She looked at her list again.



Sweatshirts (Who knows how cold it is?)







This last one had stumped Lois. She had searched the entire bathroom for Clark's razor, and had come up empty. She knew he shaved this morning, but no razor.

Lois sighed, "If he used mine, because he forgot to buy one, he's dea…", Lois paused. That was what she was trying to prevent! Tears formed in her eyes, she'd never use _that_ phrase again.

Lois heard the curtains rustle. She looked to see Superman flying in the window she had left open. Lois saw the look of concern on his face. Her heart skipped a beat.

"Superman! What's wrong? Is Clark all right?", Lois tried to keep the panic down.

Superman walked over to Lois and put his hands on her shoulders.

"Clark's just fine, Lois. He's itching to help you, but he realizes that the best help was to keep you out of harm's way. He's probably checking out the latest Buffalo Bills game on my television."

"You have a television?"

"Sure, haven't you heard of CNN and the Weather Channel? Makes flying to emergencies quick and easy when you know where the problems are, and how to avoid nasty weather getting there."

Lois let a grin creep across her face.

"I guess I just can't see you flopped on a sofa watching the boob tube. I mean, wouldn't that wrinkle your cape?"

Superman returned her smile and released her shoulders.

"Permanent press. Now about the Scorcher. Clark was pretty sure you'd go after him yourself. He asked if I'd give you a hand."

Lois's eyes flew open.

"But you have to protect Clark! You promised me!"

"Clark is safe, Lois. Extremely safe. No one's going to find him, and if anything, he's going to yell at me for the lack of things to do. I promised him I'd keep _you_ out of trouble."

Lois crossed her arms, leaned back and inspected Superman's costume.

"I don't think that will go very well as street wear. So I guess you can't come with me."

Superman's smile widened.

"It's been thought of. The suit isn't permanent. Watch!"

With a quick blur, Superman was in a Superman T-shirt (and a nice fitting one at that, Lois thought), jeans and sneakers.

"Do you think I'll blend in?", Superman asked.

"In Gold's Gym, maybe. You're serious about staying with me."

"Like Superglue."

Lois groaned, "OK, just promise me, no more terrible puns."

"That's easy Lois, it's the only one I know. Now if you give me Clark's stuff, I'll fly it back to him, and I'll see you first thing in the morning."

Lois picked up the duffel bag she had packed. As she handed it to Superman, she said, "Maybe you could pick up a razor for Clark. I couldn't find his. Tell him to sleep well, OK? You can tell him I'm letting you guard dog me; that should ease his mind. I'm leaving here at 7 am sharp! So if you're coming, " Superman nodded, "be ready to listen to my rules. Got it?"

"Got it, Lois. 7 am tomorrow morning. I'll be here, dressed for walking."


At 6:55 am, Superman knocked on Lois's door. Lois was a little startled by having him come through the door, but showed him in.

"Why did you come through the door? My window was open."

"You know I'm Superman, Lois, but I don't want the rest of the Metropolis to know it. If I flew in, and then walked out, anyone watching would suspect something was up. This way I'm just Joe anybody."

Lois harumphed, "Like that was possible. Well, let's get going. We've got a lot of territory to cover."


Perry looked up as the elevator door opened. For a moment Perry thought Clark was with Lois, but another glance changed his mind. Whoever it was, was exceedingly confident of himself. However, those clothes would have to go, this wasn't a gym.

"Lois! In here!", Perry signaled Lois into his office. Lois and Superman followed Perry into the enclosed work space.

"Lois, you know the rules, no bringing snitches into the office. It might endanger them, as well as us.", Perry looked at Superman, "I'm sorry son, but this is for her safety as well as your own."

"It's all right, Mr. White. Actually, I'm here to make sure nothing happens to Lois."

Lois went over and placed her hand on Perry's forearm. "It's all right Perry. Don't you know who this is?"

Perry looked at the tall man with the slicked backed hair. With a whispered "Great Shades!", Perry eased around and shut his door. Perry set his shoulders as he turned to face Lois and Superman.

"Well Superman, I didn't think it could be done, but here you are incognito! But, why? I thought you were guarding Clark?"

Lois jumped on the question, and saved Superman from having to repeat himself.


During the following question and answer period, Clark spent all his time keeping his "Superman face" in place. He want so much to jump into the fray, fire questions at Lois, ask some of his own, but to do so would risk his greatest secret, and possibly his only love. Instead, Clark started an x-ray sweep of the building and the streets around it for something unusual. His greatest fear was that the Scorcher would give up on Clark Kent, and try to kill his friends instead.

As Clark swept the front of the Daily Planet building, he noticed a man in a green overcoat. The man looked like he was waiting for someone. He had a paper tucked under his arm, and was staring at the Planet's entrance.

Clark noted the man and continued his sweep. It was then that Lois poked his arm.

"Earth to Superman. Hello?"

"Oh, sorry, Lois. I was scanning the building and surrounding area for possible clues. I didn't find anything."

Perry harumphed. "Superman, a good reporter doesn't wait for the story to sit on his lap, he hunts it down to the bowels of the earth."

Superman smiled, "I'll try and remember that, Mr. White."

Lois turned and opened the door. "Perry, we'll be out most of the day. I have an idea where to start looking."

With that comment, Superman and Perry both raised their eyebrows. Lois constantly amazed them. Superman started to follow Lois out, when he heard Perry whisper, "Ahhh…Superman.."

"Lois, I'll meet you at the elevator.", Superman called out. Watching the back of her head nod, Superman turned back into Perry's office.

"Yes, Mr. White?"

"Son, I don't need to tell you how to save the world, but Lois is Clark's world. Oh, I know he wouldn't admit to me, but it's true none the less. I know Clark's your best friend, but if you know what's good for you, don't let _anything_ happen to Lois Lane. Ya hear?"

Superman nodded solemnly. "Mr. White, I've promised Clark, and I will you as well. Right now my sole job is to protect Lois Lane. Unless a disaster of the greatest magnitude occurs, I'm her shadow. She'll find out who's trying to kill Clark, and I'm here to make sure that the man is caught, and Lois is left unharmed."

With a nod, Perry dismissed Superman. Perry looked up at his Elvis picture. "Thanks, big guy."


Lois held the elevator as Superman came out of Perry's office. She looked at him with a curious look. "What did Perry want?"

Superman leaned over to be at eye level with Lois. He allowed a little grin as he said, "The same thing Clark wanted, a pledge that I would protect you at all costs."

Lois chortled, "And just how many times _have_ you saved my life?"

Superman grew serious, "Too many, Lois. Far too many. You love to go out on the edge, but one day I may not be there to pull you back."

Superman walked out of the elevator as it opened on the main lobby. Lois, stunned, came out a few seconds later. She caught up with him as he went through the revolving door. She was a little miffed.

"Hey, I took care of myself _before_ you came on the scene, thank you very much. Besides, Clark's saved me more times than you have. So they haven't been as fantastic and newsworthy, but they've meant a lot more to me!"


Superman settled himself in the Jeep's passenger seat. Lois had nearly waxed poetic about Clark, the entire trip to the parking garage. Was she really interested in Clark? Or was this worry? As he attached his seat belt, Superman decided to pry a bit.

"Lois, I know you're worried about Clark, but he's probably snoozing on the couch. Or he could be reading a book, either way, he's all right. "

Lois snapped her belt into place and started the Jeep. She put it in drive, and then slammed it back into Park. She sunk back into the driver's seat, sighed, and looked at Superman.

"I know he's all right, Superman. It's just…, it's just that I miss him. I realized something a couple of nights ago, and I wanted to tell him, but getting him to safety was more important. Besides, it just wasn't the right time. He'd think that my brain was confused. Worry and all that."

Superman tilted his head at that statement. Something was definitely up.

"Lois, Clark will be back before you know it. After this is all calmed down, you can tell him… whatever it is. I'm sure everything will be all right."

Lois bit the corner of her lip. "Do you really think so?"

Superman picked up her right hand, squeezed it gently and put it on the gearbox.

"Lois, I know so."


After four hours of pumping snitches, searching through the wreckage that was once Clark's apartment, and bullying Inspector Henderson about the Scorcher, Lois and Superman were back at the newsroom of the Daily Planet. They hadn't learned anything new.

Superman sat in the guest chair next to Lois's desk. He felt funny not sitting at his own desk, and there was a new Zuffo game he'd just downloaded. He was just itching to play it. Being the spectator at a newspaper was _boring_.

Lois came back to her desk with two cups of coffee. She handed one to Superman, then sat down at her desk. After taking a sip, she turned to Superman and starting listing ideas.

"Well, most of Clark's enemies are still in jail, or you spooked them enough and they'd never go near Clark. So, what does that leave us? Intergang and Lex Luthor. Intergang and the Scorcher don't mix because of a falling out. It's nice to see that Bill Henderson is on the ball somewhere. Luthor is in prison. That doesn't mean he couldn't have hired the Scorcher, but since he has a court appointed public defender as his lawyer, I don't think he could afford it. So where does that leave us? Absolutely _no where_!"

Lois slammed down here cup in frustration. The coffee splashed all over Superman's T-shirt.

"Ack! Superman! Oh, I'm so sorry!" Lois pulled some paper napkins from her desk and started blotting the stain. Superman stood up, using his hands to wipe off the excess coffee. As Lois continued to dab, Superman looked out the window.


"Hang on, I'll be done in a minute. It's a good thing you weren't Clark, he would've had second degree burns."

"Lois, I'm fine. Come look out the window."

Puzzled, Lois looked up at Superman's face, and then followed his stare out the window. Down on the corner was a man in a green overcoat. He had a newspaper under his arm, and looked like he was waiting for someone. Lois sighed.

"It's just a man waiting for a meeting. It is done, you know."

Superman focused on Lois's face.

"Lois, that man was right there, this morning. He hasn't moved. I'd call waiting for four hours, a little too patient."

With that, Superman turned his head back to the window. With a small thought, he activated his telescopic and x-ray vision. The man wasn't wearing a gun. His driver's license called him "Calvin O'Reigh", funny name. Superman was still puzzled by his presence. It was when he turned of his x-ray vision and did an external scan of the man, that he found a new clue to the puzzle.

"Lois, what's today's date?"

"It's the 6th, why?"

"Because the paper that man is carrying is dated the 5th. Why would he carry an _old_ newspaper, when he's right across the street from Planet?"

Lois's eyes widened.

"He's watching the Planet! Waiting for someone!", Lois glanced out the window again. "I bet he's waiting for Clark! Since you took him off the rooftop, I bet he thinks Clark is still in here! Let's go get him! He can lead us to the Scorcher!"

Superman put a hand on Lois's shoulder to keep her from bolting to the elevator.

"Lois, if we chase him now, we'll never know who hired him. Sooner or later, he'll have to report to his superior. Until then, we watch and wait."

Lois's shoulders slumped in resignation. She knew Superman was right, but she wanted this over with, and Clark back beside her. Superman was all right, but he was so, so wooden. She missed Clark's teasing.

With a reluctant glance at the elevator, Lois headed back to her desk.


It took several hours for the man in the green overcoat to make his move. Lois thought it was an eternity. For all his powers, Superman lacked Clark's wit. She tried to pick up a conversation several times, but all that came of it was a grunt of acknowledgment.


Superman thought he'd rather run into another meteorite than go through the past six hours again. He was tired of being Superman, he just wanted to relax his body, and chat with Lois. They sat there, staring out the window, and Superman was afraid to start a conversion, for fear of where it might go.


At rush hour, things began to happen. The green overcoat was getting testy. He shifted from one foot to the other, looking at his watch every few minutes. Finally he threw away his paper, and headed down the street.

Superman stood up. He looked over to Lois, who'd dozed off. It took all his strength to keep from moving that loose lock of hair from dangling over her nose. Instead, he quick-changed into his "working clothes", attached his cape, and woke Lois.

"Lois, he's moving. Time to go."

"Ummm? Clark?", Lois blinked a couple of times. "Oh, Superman, it's only you. He's moving? Let's get to my Jeep."

Superman gave her a slight smile. "I think the aerial approach might be a little better this time."

Lois shoved the annoying lock of hair behind her ear and nodded. With a quick swoop, Superman picked up Lois and flew her out the newsroom window. Perry, the only one left in the newsroom, watched them leave. Picking up his read copy pen, Perry looked at Elvis, sighed, and got to the matter at hand.


Superman and Lois flew high over the city, as green overcoat man wandered around the city. Lois thought that he was seeing if he'd picked up a tail. Finally, he headed into the Lexor hotel. Superman used his x-ray vision to follow him to the executive suite. There he saw the master of the plan.

Lois saw Superman's jaw clench.

"Superman, what is it? Have we found the Scorcher?"

"Lois, I'm going to put you down at ground level. I want you to call the police. Tell them to go to the executive suite of the Lexor hotel."

Lois huffed. "Superman, this is my story! You're _not_ going to leave me out of this! If the man who's trying to hurt Clark is in there, I want a shot at him!"

Superman frowned. "No, Lois, it's too dangerous. Why didn't I notice that before?"

Lois glared as Superman placed her on the ground. "What didn't you notice?"

"His name, Lois. His name!"


Calvin O'Reigh took off his overcoat. The man sitting in the leather chair was not pleased. Then, he had that right. The Scorcher has lost his prey. Normally he'd blow up the whole building, but the man didn't want that.

"I'm sorry, sir, I don't see how he vanished. I waited for over 48 hours, but Kent has disappeared."

The man in the chair stroked his beard. Clearly he wasn't pleased.

"I told you the man had powerful friends, Mr. O'Reigh. One of whom is Superman. Obviously you forgot to take that into account."

"Yes, you both did."

O'Reigh and the bearded man turned to see Superman enter from the window. O'Reigh ran for the door. With a quick burst of superbreath, Superman blasted him into the nearby wall, knocking him out. Superman then turned to the bearded man.

"Well Nigel, I see you've come up in the world. Looks like you've beaten the sewer rats. Tell me, why put a contract on Clark Kent?"

Nigel leered and put his hands in his pockets.

"Quite simple Superman. Kent was the root of the trouble. _You_ may have stopped it, but Kent figured out Luthor and Intergang. He broke up Miss Lane and Mr. Luthor, and effectively ruined my career. So an eye for an eye so to speak?"

Superman shook his head. "Strange logic, Nigel. Well, you'll have plenty of time discussing it with Lex Luthor."

"Oh, I don't _think_ so Superman.", with a flourish, Nigel pulled a box from his coat pocket. With a flick of the wrist, Nigel exposed Superman to his deadly foe, kryptonite.

"Did you forget, dear chap, about this? Really Superman, I thought you'd remember my keepsake from the last time we met."

With an evil laugh, Nigel taunted an agonized Superman. Finally Superman collapsed in pain.

"Nigel!" , Lois screamed. Not to be outdone by Superman, Lois hoofed it to the Executive Suite. With a flying front kick, Lois brought Nigel to the ground, the kryptonite dropped so his hands could hold his aching body parts.

With a quick flourish, Lois slammed the lead box shut, canceling out the kryptonite. She put it on the table, and rushed to Superman's side.

"Superman, are you OK? You weren't overexposed?", Lois worried. Superman slowly got up.

"I'm fine, Lois. Nice kick. We've got the Scorcher, and Nigel…"

Superman looked around. Nigel was gone!

Lois shook her head, "Don't worry, Superman, Clark and I will find him again. Common, let's get fizzled head to the police."


It took most of the night, and half of the next day, but Superman and Lois finally got out of the police station. Lois looked at Superman.

"I don't want to listen to Inspector Henderson for at _least_ a month! Ack! Those jokes!"

Superman nodded.

"I think the Scorcher is out of business, and Nigel won't try anything for a while. If you agree, I'm going to get Clark and bring him back to the Planet building."

Lois grasped Superman's arm and looked into his eyes. Hers were shiny with unshed tears.

"Yes, Superman. Please bring Clark home. I have something I have to tell him."

"I'll drop him on the roof at 6:30 tonight."

Lois nodded. As Superman got ready to fly away, Lois said, "Wait."

Superman faced Lois once more.

"Superman, thank you for everything. You could have said no. You saved Clark's life, and more than likely my own. Thank you." Lois paused, "But I was wondering if you could just drop Clark off. There's something I want to tell him. Alone… and I don't think my window will be open anymore. I hope you don't mind."

Superman smiled, and gave Lois a brief hug.

"I understand Lois, three's a crowd. However, I'd still like to keep saving you, if you don't mind."

Lois laughed and then headed towards the street. Superman smiled and flew towards Kansas.


Lois waited at the base of the roof stairs. Was it only a couple of days ago that she said good-bye? Lois heard a brief thump from the rooftop. Taking a deep breath, she opened the roof door.

Standing with his back towards her, was Clark, overcoat flapping in the wind. Next to him was the duffel bag she packed. She walked up behind him, and circled her arms around his chest.

"Clark!", Lois could barely speak.

Clark Kent turned around in Lois's arms. He looked down at her tear-stained face.

Clark spoke softly, "Hey, what's this, Lois? Superman said you'd be _happy_ to see me."

Lois reached up and let her hands frame Clark's face. Looking into his eyes, Lois took a deep breath, and said, "I love you, Clark."

As their lips met, the city went on.

For Lois and Clark, destiny had come.