By Marta Olson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: What if Perry White were in Jimmy Olsen's shoes, and vice versa? They may just find out, if Lex Luthor's scientists' mind-swapping machine works on humans. Things get even more interesting when Luthor tries it on Lois and Clark.
This story takes place basically with Lois and Clark dating, and in love, but Lois doesn't know that he is Superman. It was basically sketched out and written before Season Three began, and any similarities to actual events in the series is purely coincidental. Thank you to Lynda Love, Rxiris@aol.com for all her help in editing this story!!!! Any comments, please send them to me at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Be cautioned: This story is kind of confusing so keep in mind that whenever you see someone's name in single quotes, it's a good bet that they are, in reality, someone else - it'll all make more sense as you begin to read.
"Have you uncovered anything about Lex Luthor yet?" Perry asked as he paced the length of the conference room.
"Nothing. It's like he vanished off the face of the earth." Lois fiddled with her pen. "Even Superman couldn't find anything."
"The entire inside of the tunnel has some kind of a lead coating in the rocks." Clark tried hard not to show his frustration. "There was also a high concentration of lead in the area around the tunnel so Superman couldn't even find which direction they went."
"Knowing Lex, it won't be long until he surfaces. I wonder if it will be in Metropolis or if he'll go someplace else." Lois looked at Clark, inviting his opinion.
"It will be Metropolis. If he goes somewhere else he's admitting Superman won. Lex won't do that." Clark shook his head.
"How's the follow-up going on the waterfront fire?" Perry asked.
Clark answered, "The warehouses were completely destroyed. They were previously owned by LexCorp and have been deserted for about a year. Police have ruled out arson."
"Evidently the police believe that transients had been using the warehouses for shelter and accidentally started the fire." Lois leaned forward in her chair. "We talked with Bobby Bigmouth on the way in this morning. He said the word on the street was that all the transients were chased off that night."
"No one was in the area. It had to be arson. The question is by who and why." Clark looked thoughtful. "I wonder if this has anything to do with Lex's escape? The fire was started less than an hour before his escape."
"Watch your backs on this one. Lex has more reason now to want revenge than before." Perry looked first at Lois, then at Clark to emphasize his point. Each nodded in return.
"Okay, let's move on. Have either of you ever heard of Lewis Logan?" Perry asked. Lois looked at Clark who shrugged before shaking her head.
"The mayor has called a press conference today to introduce him to us," Perry continued. "Evidently they've worked out some kind of civic project or something. You two cover it. See if you can get some background information on him also. Take Jimmy with you, we'll need some pictures."
"I feel like I should remember something about this door. " Lex paused for a moment in the hallway beneath the old LexCorp building.
"That is the duplicate apartment you had made for Lois Lane," Asabi began.
"Ah yes! The nightfall asteroid. I offered her sanctuary and she chose death." His eyes clouded as he remembered.
"This way sir, they're waiting for us." Asabi guided him to the wall at the end of the hall. "Anything?"
Lex looked around the area where they stood. Disgustedly he shook his head. "Why is this happening to me? Why can't I remember anything!"
Asabi placed his hand flat on the wall about shoulder height. A door appeared in front of them. As they passed through the door, Asabi continued, "We recovered some of Dr. Kelly's research. She hypothesized that since your rejuvenation process was interrupted twice…"
"By Lois and Superman, right?" Lex interrupted.
"Right. She believed the interruptions caused you to revive early during the final process and also caused the loss of your hair and your long term memory."
"Thank God my hair came back. I assume my memory will as well?"
"We hope so, sir. Your chief scientists are ready to brief you on their research." They entered the door marked "Conference Room". Seated around the table were three men and a woman. As Lex sat, Asabi introduced the scientists. "Dr. Alana Richards, chemical Engineering." He indicated the lone female in the room. "Dr. Mark Hastings, Weapons Development, Dr. James Alton and Dr. Troy Martins, Research and Development." He continued around the room. "Dr. Richards, please begin."
The monitor in the room came to life showing Superman in a cage as the bars glowed green. The clip continued to run, showing Superman escaping as Dr. Richards spoke.
"We knew from this incident that our synthetic kryptonite was not strong enough. Superman should have been completely incapacitated by the amounts we used. We have increased the strength to a level that should now be sufficient to kill him. We have, I believe, also perfected our synthetic red kryptonite and have also defined a formula that we feel will accomplish the same goal but in gaseous form."
"Kryptonite gas? How interesting. Have you tested it on him yet?" Lex mulled the possibilities thoughtfully as the monitor went dark.
"No, sir, but we are ready to begin the tests. We have also found several other samples of elements so closely related to kryptonite in composition that they must be related, but yet are different colors - silver and gold to name a few. We have no idea what effect, if any, these might have on him."
"Very good! We'll have to find out if this is his Achilles' heel." Lex turned to Dr. Mark Hastings.
"We've been working on various types of metal and explosives," Dr. Hastings said. The monitor came to life again showing news coverage of Lex's escape from prison in the tank. "We have perfected the material of this tank. It is impenetrable to any explosive currently known to man." The scene on the monitor changed. A Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) was launched at one of the tanks as it trekked through what appeared to be a desert area. The RPG hit the tank and exploded, producing a large smoke cloud. The tank burst through the cloud with no visible exterior damage.
"Very impressive," Lex murmured.
"We are now trying to develop a new explosive that will stop the tank. Both items will fetch a tremendous amount in certain circles once the next areas of unrest appear."
"We'll have to help that along when the time is right. Keep up the good work." Lex nodded, satisfied. He turned toward the remaining two men in the room.
"Dr. Alton and I have been working with Dr. Kelly's research," Dr. Martens began. "She theorized that electricity and a conductor would cause Superman's powers to be shared with whoever was connected to him on a machine. Several weeks before your revival she came across a process that did transfer Superman's powers. During her research, however, Lois Lane and Superman destroyed her machine and almost succeeded in killing you again."
"We were able to reconstruct her machine based on her notes, but, well… with a different result. I think it would be best if we showed you," Dr. Alton added.
The monitor glowed, focusing on a room that held two tables. Strapped to one table was a cat, on the other a dog. On the head of each animal was what appeared to be a metal cap with wires connecting each cap to a large machine. The machine had many dials and switches with monitors tracking the heart rate and blood pressure of the two animals. The sound of a dog barking and a cat meowing played over the speakers. Suddenly the dog and cat stiffened and became quiet. The sound of energy crackling through the wires filled the room. Although it seemed to last for several minutes, it only lasted a few seconds.
The animals did not move. On the screen Dr. Alton approached the cat, while Dr. Martens approached the dog. Each hat was removed, and the animals showed signs of movement. The cat was the first to sit and look around the room. It growled. At the sound of the cat the dog sat up and began to hiss at the two doctors. The cat decided growling wasn't enough anymore so he began to bark. With the barking of the cat, the dog began to meow.
"Oh my God!" Lex slowly rose to his feet, stunned by what he saw. "I don't believe it! You switched the dog and the cat! Does it work on humans?"
"We don't know yet, sir." Dr. Martens said. "We are now ready to begin that phase of testing. We will be needing volunteers very soon."
"Never fear, I'll get you some volunteers. Are the effects permanent?"
"We have always reversed the animals back. I'm not sure how long the effect will last."
"Fine. Turn the dog and cat back. Asabi, get them human volunteers. In fact, get them Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. Assuming they survive, we'll see how long lasting the effect is." Lex turned and walked out of the conference room smiling.
"It is my pleasure to welcome Mr. Lewis Logan to Metropolis." Mayor Bono beamed at the audience. "Further, I would like to introduce him to you. He has recently moved to Metropolis from Gotham City. I know he will fill a void in this community. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Lewis Logan."
Polite applause sounded as the unfamiliar man approached the microphone.
"I don't know about you, but something just doesn't feel right to me. Do you think Lex would try something out in the open like this?" Lois looked around as she spoke.
Clark took a moment to scan the area with his x-ray vision. "I don't see anything out of the ordinary, but it wouldn't surprise me if he did."
"Hey guys," Jimmy whispered. "I'm gonna go move around and see if I can get a better angle." He checked his camera to make sure he had removed the lens cap before moving away.
"Ladies and gentlemen of Metropolis." On the podium, Lewis Logan began to speak. "It is a pleasure to be here in your city. I hope that I can be a positive influence on the citizens of Metropolis.
Today, I have two announcements to make. First of which is the relocation of my corporation, Lewis Industries, from Gotham City. The corporate office move was recently completed. The relocation of the remainder of Lewis Industries will follow in the coming months. Hopefully we can ease the burden that was left by the collapse of LexCorp." Cheers rose from one area of the crowd.
Lewis Logan smiled. "We previously completed negotiations to purchase the LexCorp building with Lex Luthor's attorneys. Former employees of LexCorp will be given first consideration regarding the employment opportunities this will present.
We have also completed an agreement between the City of Metropolis and Lewis Industries regarding our second announcement. Lewis Industries has purchased the waterfront land that was recently devastated by fire. We will begin construction on Port Harbour in two months."
Murmurs went through the crowd. Jobs would again be available in Metropolis.
"Port Harbour will consist of several stages. The first stage to be built will consist of apartments for the elderly and office buildings. The remaining stages will include a shopping mall, movie theaters, an amusement park and a recreation center. Upon the completion of the project, the recreation center and the apartments for the elderly will be turned over to the city. Now, are there any questions?"
"Several," Lois murmured to Clark. "Somehow I can't picture Lex selling the LexCorp building to anyone. I didn't think his ego would let him."
"He doesn't have much use for it on the run, though," Clark began, "But it does seem out of character."
Perry White looked at his watch for the third time. "Where could they be?" he thought as he paced back and forth. The message had said to meet Lois and Clark here twenty minutes ago. They said they had news about Lex. Finally, a car with tinted windows pulled up at the curb. As he approached the car he thought, "Strange, I didn't know Lois got a new car. Maybe it's Clark's?"
He reached the car as the two doors facing him opened. Two men jumped out of the car and grabbed for him.
"Great shades of Elvis!" Perry exclaimed as he tried in vain to get away. The two men fought to subdue a struggling Perry until one of them placed a cloth over his mouth and nose. Perry went limp as the chloroform took effect. They hustled him into the car and pealed away from the curb, leaving behind only dust.
At the end of the press conference, Lois and Clark made their way through the crowd towards the spot where Lewis Logan stood, surrounded by reporters.
"Excuse me! Pardon me! Excuse me!" Lois said as she burrowed her way to the front of the crowd.
"I'm sorry. I'm with her. Sorry." Clark shrugged apologetically as he followed.
"Miss Lane, I presume?" Lewis Logan asked as Lois stumbled into the front of the reporters. "I was wondering when I would have the opportunity to meet you. I've read your work at the Daily Planet. I must say, I'm impressed."
"Oh! Thank you, Mr. Logan," Lois patted her hair back into place.
"Please, call me Lewis."
She smiled as Clark arrived, standing behind her. He straightened his glasses as he caught the end of their exchange.
"You must be Clark Kent," Lewis said, not missing the glare he received as he continued to monopolize Lois' attention. Clark nodded an acknowledgment.
"Mr. Logan," Lois began.
"Lewis," he insisted.
"Lewis, would it be possible to schedule a time for later when we could meet for a more in-depth interview? You know, really introduce you to the people of Metropolis?"
"Well, I do have tickets to the theater tonight, if you'd care to join me for dinner and the show." Catching Lois' glance at Clark, he hastily added, "Unfortunately, I only have tickets for two. May I send a car for you? Say 6:00?"
"That would be fine," Lois replied, earning a sharp glance from Clark.
"Very well. I must go now. Until tonight," he said as he turned and walked into the building.
"Lois, I thought we had a date tonight," Clark said as he watched Logan's retreating back.
"Clark, please. Don't you think it's too coincidental that the day before a deal is announced to replace LexCorp Lex escaped from prison? Something doesn't feel right, I just don't know what it is. This will give me the perfect opportunity to talk to him. Maybe I can find out something. That's the only reason I said yes," Lois explained.
Clark turned his back to her and mumbled, "Where's Jimmy? We need to get back to the Planet."
Lois rolled her eyes and followed Clark.
Jimmy lost sight of Lois and Clark as the crowd closed around behind them. "Great!" he thought. "I won't be able to get any good close-ups now." He headed back towards the car, intent on meeting them there when they were finished. He put his camera case on the hood of the car and paced back and forth while waiting for them.
"Excuse me." A little kid ran up to him. "Are you Jimmy Olsen?"
"Yes I am," he said, puzzled.
The kid turned away and ran back down the street. Jimmy shrugged his shoulders and then turned back to look for Lois and Clark. He turned and was face to face with a stranger. The stranger grabbed his arm as Jimmy yelped, "Hey!" Another man came from behind and placed a chloroform rag over Jimmy's nose and mouth. He struggled for a minute and then went limp. The men carried him to another car and left.
Lois and Clark reached the car moments after Jimmy had been kidnapped.
"I don't understand what the big deal is. We can see that movie tomorrow night." Lois insisted.
"That's not the problem. I don't trust him," Clark argued.
"What you're really saying is you don't trust me, right!" she fumed.
"Of course I trust you. There's just something about Lewis Logan that seems too good. You know the saying, if it's too good to be true it usually is," he countered.
"You're just jealous. Clark, you know I love you. I don't understand what your problem is. It's just an interview," she sighed.
"For you, it's just an interview. For him, I don't think so. Did you see the look in his eye? He reminded me of someone else the way he looked at you. I wish I could place who it was."
"This is getting us nowhere. Let's find Jimmy and get back to the Planet. Look, here's his bag." Lois motioned to the bag sitting on top of the car. "It's not like him to leave it behind like that, I wonder where he is?"
Clark looked around with his x-ray vision. Seeing nothing, he said, "You're right. I just hope nothing happened to him!"
They rode back to the Daily Planet in an uncomfortable silence.
"Has anyone seen Jimmy?" Lois asked as she and Clark entered the offices of the Daily Planet. Several people paused and shook their heads. They headed toward Perry's office but they noticed it was deserted.
"Where's Perry?" Clark asked.
"Isn't he with you?" Cheryl, one of the other reporters answered.
"Obviously not or we wouldn't be asking!" Lois snapped. Clark glared at her.
"Why did you think Perry was with us?" Clark wanted to know.
"We were in a meeting with him when someone came in with a message. Perry stopped the meeting saying he had to meet you. He said it was urgent."
Lois set Jimmy's camera bag on his desk. "We never sent a message. I wonder what's going on?"
Lois turned to Clark. "Lex!" They said in unison.
"Oh my head!" Jimmy moaned as he regained consciousness.
"Take it easy, son," Perry encouraged.
"Perry?" Jimmy looked around the room. "Where are we? What's going on?"
"I'm not sure, kid, but I don't like it." Perry's eyes roamed the room for about the twentieth time since he had been brought in. They were in a laboratory of some kind. There was a control room on one side that was partitioned off by a glass wall. Perry and Jimmy were both strapped down into chairs with something strapped onto their heads. He couldn't tell what it was.
"Prepare yourselves, gentlemen." A voice came over the loud speaker.
"Prepare for what?" Perry asked.
"For the worst experience of your life," Lex said as he stepped out from the shadows of the control booth to flip the switch.
"Luthor?" Perry said incredulously
"Yes, Perry, it's me, Lex Luthor. You never should have interfered with my wedding to Lois. You must pay for destroying my life."
"No one destroyed your life but you!" Perry argued.
"Spare me the platitudes." Lex rolled his eyes. " I've waited a long time for this, can we proceed?"
Perry didn't have to wait long. Sudden bolts of electricity shot through his body. Jimmy's screams echoed through his head. He couldn't hold back any longer. He screamed, too. He turned to look at Jimmy's lifeless body, unsure whether he was dead or unconscious. It wasn't long before Perry also passed out.
Dr. Alton turned the machine off. "Now we find out if it works on humans or not," he said, excitement evident in his voice. They approached the still bodies of Jimmy and Perry cautiously. Dr. Martens unstrapped the hat from Jimmy while Dr. Alton did the same for Perry. They held smelling salts underneath Jimmy and Perry's respective noses.
Finally, Jimmy and Perry came around.
"So, Perry, how do you feel." Lex smiled.
"I feel fine, now will you let me go!" Perry said. At least it sounded like something Perry would say, but it came from Jimmy.
"I've got a bad feeling about this," Jimmy said, only it came from Perry. The doctors smiled triumphantly and released the restraints holding Jimmy and Perry in place.
Jimmy stood and faced Perry. "I don't believe it! You look like me now, son." Perry as 'Jimmy' said.
"Uh, Chief? I don't think so, you look like me!" Jimmy as 'Perry' said.
"Great Shades of Elvis! We've been switched!"
"Dr. Hastings!" Lex said over the phone. "I need you to construct a bomb with a small yield. Just enough to take out one room and everyone and everything in it."
"Yes, sir, Mr. Luthor."
"Around the bomb has to be the ultimate booby trap. It's for Superman. Use his weaknesses to destroy him. Use the kryptonite Dr. Richards has developed. Save the green kryptonite for last."
"I need it yesterday!"
"Right away, sir!"
Lex allowed himself a slight smile as he replaced the receiver. He turned to Asabi, "How long should that take?"
"He should have it done in a couple of hours."
"Good, good. Wait one hour, then release Perry and Jimmy not too far from here. We'll be expecting Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Have Dr. Alton and Dr. Martens move their machine to the room next to Lois' apartment. Have them start duplicating their machine as soon as it is moved."
"If I may, sir, why move the machine?" Asabi inquired.
"My dear Asabi, Lois and Clark mustn't find the laboratory. That would compromise our access to the city through our underground caverns."
"Yes, sir. How are you going to get Miss Lane and Mr. Kent here? What about Superman?"
"Bait! I am the bait to lure Lois and Clark here. They will trap Superman for me. This should be the best revenge yet. We'll switch Lois and Clark's minds. The only way Superman can save her and switch her back will be to disarm the bomb. In order to do that he has to battle both the red and green kryptonite. The kryptonite should weaken him enough that the bomb will take care of all three of them. It just gives me that extra little thrill to think about Perry White and Jimmy Olsen spending the rest of their lives as each other."
"I know. Now, tell me again about the tests we did on Superman. Faster than a speeding bullet?"
An hour and a half later the elevator doors opened, and Jimmy and Perry walked out into the news room. Jimmy was walking purposefully towards Perry's office followed by a rather timid looking Perry. Jimmy paused long enough to holler "Lane! Kent! My office, now!" as he passed the two stunned reporters.
"Jimmy," Lois began before lowering her voice, "Be careful, Perry's right behind you!"
Jimmy as 'Perry' winced.
Perry as 'Jimmy' walked back to Lois and looked her directly in the eye, holding her gaze with authority. "I've had a bad day and I really don't feel quite like myself. Now, come into my office and I'll explain it to you." He turned and entered the office with 'Perry' following closely. Lois looked at Clark, who shrugged his shoulders. He followed Lois into the office only to stop short as they took in the scene that greeted them.
'Jimmy' was sitting at Perry's desk going through the drawers looking for something, muttering to himself, "Now, where did I put that?"
'Perry' slouched in one of the chairs across from the desk, his left ankle across his right knee. He was also chewing on a fingernail.
'Jimmy' looked up Lois and Clark hesitating in the doorway "Don't just stand there, come in! Kent, close the door."
"This is a joke, right?" Lois asked finally as she and Clark sat in the remaining two chairs.
"Yeah right, some joke," 'Perry' said. "I lost my entire 'misspent youth' in a day, and you think it's a joke."
"Could be worse, kid," 'Jimmy' replied, "I have to go through it again!" he paused, "Great shades of Elvis, my kids are older than me!"
"Maybe you should start at the beginning, Chief," Clark inserted. They looked expectantly at Perry.
"I'm over here," 'Jimmy' said slowly. "Of all the things I thought I would see in my lifetime, this is not one of them. Lex has paired up with a couple of scientists that have this contraption that, well, it…"'Jimmy' paused, searching for the right words.
"They switched our minds, CK!" 'Perry' blurted out, the fragile hold he had on his emotions suddenly gone. "They put these hats on our head, then … then Luthor was there. He flipped a switch and then, oh my God! I was Perry and Perry was me!"
Lois and Clark were speechless, looking from Jimmy to Perry. "But that's impossible!" Lois declared. "Maybe you were just hypnotized or something."
"I've been hypnotized before, and it was nothing like this," 'Jimmy' explained. "When Lex turned that machine on, I felt as if my head were about to explode. I tried to hang on as long as I could, but finally I passed out. The last thing I remember was looking over at the kid, and seeing him unconscious and not knowing if he were dead or alive."
"Where were you? Did you see anything you recognized?" Clark asked.
"I was knocked out when they grabbed me. Next thing I knew we were in a lab. When they released us, they blindfolded us. All I remember was walking down some corridors. We must have walked for about three or four blocks. They let us go just outside the courthouse. When I turned around to see where they went, they had already disappeared," 'Jimmy' recalled.
"Same with me," 'Perry' added, "I was knocked out too."
"It could be anywhere downtown. If we can find that machine, there has to be a way to reverse the effect. We could change you back," Clark suggested.
"We need to contact Superman, I know he'll be able to help us. Maybe Bobby Big Mouth knows something." Lois stood up and moved toward her desk.
Clark rolled his eyes as he rose to follow her. "Don't give up yet, we'll figure it out."
'Perry' sat up straight as Clark left the office. "Holy cow! I have a date with Angela tonight! How am I gonna explain this to her?"
Cheryl stuck her head in the door, "Chief, Alice is on line one." She looked expectantly at Perry.
"Oh, no! Tell her I'm not here. I'll have to call her back!" 'Jimmy' replied.
Cheryl's jaw dropped to the floor.
Asabi grabbed the phone as it began to ring. "Yes?"
"The bomb is ready," Dr. Hastings said.
Asabi handed the phone to Lex. "Is it was I asked for?" he asked.
"I think you'll be pleased."
"Beautiful!" Lex said. He turned to Asabi as he hung up the phone. "The kryptonite should make Superman so weak that the bomb will kill him as well. Ahhhh. I can tell this is going to be a wonderful day. Time to bait the trap." He reached for the phone.
"Lois Lane," she said into the phone.
"So, darling, have you missed me?" The color drained from her face as she recognized the voice of Lex Luthor.
"I didn't expect to hear from you this way, Lex," Lois replied
Clark looked up at the change in her voice. She motioned for him to join her. He used his super hearing to listen.
"I see you tired of loverboy, Kent. I knew you'd be disappointed. I am so hard to replace."
"I don't know what you're talking about." She mouthed to Clark, "It's Lex!"
Clark turned to his phone to start the trace on her line. He continued to listen to the conversation.
"Don't play games with me, my dear, I saw the way you were looking at Logan at the press conference. You'll soon tire of him also.
"I set up an interview with him. That's all - just business," she insisted.
"You might as well face it, Lois, you and I were made for each other. I'm sure he'll be brokenhearted to hear that."
"Why did you call?"
"I want to see you again. I want to start where we left off."
"There's nothing left to start." Lois looked at Clark as she spoke, who groaned inwardly when he saw the telltale gleam of investigative reporting spark in her eyes. "Where can we meet?"
"I'm waiting at your apartment, Lois."
"My apartment! But…"
"No Lois, your other apartment. Think about it. I'll see you soon." The phone went dead.
She moved toward Clark. "Any luck on the trace?" she asked him.
"Thank you." he said, then hung up the phone. "No. They were only able to get the general downtown area."
"My other apartment? What could he mean by that?" Lois wondered.
"Perry and Jimmy were released downtown by the courthouse. Your apartment isn't anywhere near there. Did you used to live somewhere near downtown?"
"No, other than work, I never really go downtown." Lois thought.
"Wait a minute, there was something. Why can't I think of it?" She paced from his desk to hers and back. "Ohhh!"
"Take your time. How long ago was it?"
"That's it! The nightfall asteroid! How could I have forgotten! Remember when the asteroid was going to crash into the earth, when Superman was almost too late? Lex called me and invited me over to his office. He said he had something to show me. He took me down below the cellars of the LexCorp building in an elevator hidden in his office. He had a bunker down there large enough to keep, oh, I don't remember how many people for how many years. He had made an exact replica of my apartment in one of the rooms of the bunker! That must be what he means! Let's go!" Lois grabbed her purse as she headed for the door with Clark close behind.
"Lois, this is a surprise! I didn't expect to see you until tonight," Lewis Logan said as he escorted them into his plush penthouse office.
"We were in the neighborhood working on a story. I wanted you to know that I don't think I'll be finished in time to make it tonight," Lois said.
While they were talking Clark located the elevator behind the wall in what used to be Lex Luthor's office using his x-ray vision. It was there, just like Lois said. Now all they had to do was get rid of Lewis Logan.
"I must say, I am disappointed, but I understand. You're a working woman, after all. Maybe we could do a late dinner?"
"I should be done by 7:00. How about dinner at 8:00?" she asked.
"That will be fine."
"By the way, have you noticed anything strange around the LexCorp building since you moved in?" Lois asked.
"What do you mean by strange?" he replied.
"Anything unusual, unexplained sounds, elevators that go lower than they should, people disappearing. Anything?" Lois shrugged her shoulders.
"No, I can't say that I have." Lewis smiled. "Now, I'm sorry to be rude, but I have a meeting down the hall," he explained as he escorted them out to the waiting area. His secretary offered him a folder.
"Until tonight," he said as he headed down the hall toward the conference room.
"Darn!" Lois exclaimed. "I think I must have dropped my pen somewhere in his office. I know I had it when we came in." She turned to the secretary. "Do you mind if I look for it?"
The secretary's phone rang before she could answer. She motioned for them to wait. "Yes, Mr. Logan, right away." She picked up another file folder and dashed in the direction Lewis had gone.
"Now, let's hurry!" Lois said as she pushed Clark into Lewis' office. "I hope they didn't seal the elevator."
"No, they didn't seal it. Do you remember where the controls were?" Clark asked.
"How do you know they didn't seal it?" She looked at him.
"Um, well, just a hunch," he shrugged. He exhaled deeply as she turned back toward the wall. He used his x-ray vision again to locate the wires leading from the elevator to the controls. They led to the bookcase.
"Try over there, maybe one of the books will trigger it," Clark suggested.
"That's in the movies! This is reality! Besides, there's no guarantee that these are Lex's books. They're probably Lewis'."
"Just try it okay? Indulge me," he said.
Lois took a deep breath before walking over to the bookcase. She began to pull each book off the shelf, then replacing it when nothing happened. After a few books, she turned and looked at Clark. "Satisfied?"
"Try the next shelf," he suggested.
When Lois tried to pick up the fifth book from the end on the third shelf, it wouldn't come. She wiggled it and finally succeeded in pulling the top of the book forward. As the book came forward, a panel on the wall next to the bookcase opened. "Bingo!" Lois pushed the button on the panel.
The panel to the left opened, revealing the elevator. "Let's go!" Clark said.
There were only two buttons inside the elevator. Lois pushed the lower one. Immediately the doors closed, and the elevator descended at a rapid rate. Several seconds later it stopped and the door opened onto a hallway.
"This is it," Lois said with satisfaction. "I think my apartment was this way." The elevator doors closed decisively behind them.
Clark followed Lois, using his x-ray vision to scope out the area. Unfortunately the hallway seemed to be painted with a lead based paint. He couldn't see a thing. "Lois, be careful," he said.
"Here it is," she said as she pushed open the door, and entered the apartment.
"Wow! You weren't kidding when you said it was an exact duplicate. He's even got copies of your Kerth awards," Clark said, pausing to look around.
"Of course, it's an exact duplicate. I don't do anything halfway." Lex said as he and Asabi entered the room.
"It's the rat man! I see you've crawled out of the sewer," Lois sneered. Clark moved between Lois and Lex.
"Always so clever. Come with me." Lex turned and left the room. Asabi motioned with his gun for them to follow. They went into the next room where there was a large machine and two chairs.
"Please, be seated. I wouldn't want people to think I have no manners." Lex professed. Lois glared at Lex as she and Clark each sat down. Two men appeared from nowhere and strapped them to their chair.
"You won't get away with this, Lex. Superman is on his way. He'll get us out of here!" Lois struggled against the straps.
Clark tried to move his glasses down so that he could cause a distraction. They wouldn't budge.
"I'm counting on him coming. Let's get this over with." Lex walked over to the switch. "It's been a pleasure knowing you. I'm sure this will lead to new opportunities for both of you. Have a nice life." He flipped the switch.
Lois screamed as pain exploded in her head. Clark had to do something. He looked around to see if there was anything he could do that would not give his identity away.
Unexpectedly the door opened and a woman entered carrying a small box. She approached Lex.
"This is the distraction I need!" Clark thought. He strained against the straps, breaking the first one. Suddenly, he was hit with a pain so intense he felt like he was being torn apart. Another pain began, this one in his head. He was helpless. He could do nothing. His last thought was, "Lois, I should have told you!" Then he lost consciousness.
Lex looked at the piece of kryptonite Dr. Richards had handed him moments earlier. He held it up to the light, turning it around as if it were a precious diamond. "Perfect," he said as he handed it back to her. "Now, put those two next door." He motioned to his men. "We've got to get ready for Superman."
Lois woke up with a start, trying to remember what happened. She was laying on the sofa in her apartment. She started to get up, but something didn't feel right. For one thing, she was wearing Clark's glasses. She took them off. Funny, she could see just as well with them as she could without them. Shouldn't there be some kind of distortion? Oh, her head ached! She closed her eyes and laid still for a few more minutes.
In the chair across the room Clark began to stir. He moved his head to try and clear his mind, but something brushed his cheek. He reached up to see what it was. Hair! Had someone put a wig on him? Something about his hand caught his eye. He took a closer look at his hand for just a minute. It wasn't his, it was … Lois'! Memories came rushing back. "Oh my God!" he exclaimed as he sat up. Lex had switched their minds just like Perry and Jimmy! His voice was Lois' also. He looked over at the sofa. He saw himself lying there.
He stood and went to himself, kicking off the high heels Lois wore after the first couple of clumsy steps. "How can she walk in those things?" he thought. He knelt down next to himself and said, "Lois, Lois," and shook his shoulder.
She opened his eyes, and almost screamed when she found she was looking at herself. There she was, kneeling beside her - or him, she amended, as she remembered what had happened. "He did it! He really did it!" she exclaimed, as he sat up.
"Clark, you're going to ruin my suit if you keep kneeling like that!" Lois as 'Clark' admonished.
"I think there are more important things to worry about here," Clark as 'Lois' shot back.
"I paid good money for that suit! You're gonna ruin my pantyhose if you don't put those shoes back on."
"Lois" he started.
"I'm sorry, Clark. I'm just scared. You know how I am when I get scared." 'Clark' took a deep breath. "I'm okay now. We just have to be patient. Superman will know what to do. He'll get us out of this mess." 'Clark' stood up and began to pace.
"Lois, there's something I have to tell you," 'Lois' began.
"How can you wear these things?" 'Clark' said as she reached up to loosen his tie. His head jerked down with the force as she pulled the knot of the tie. "Whoa, I must be more woozy than I thought," she said as she threw the tie away. It flew across the room, knocking a lamp off the table. 'Clark' stared at the lamp.
"Lois, would you please listen to me for a minute!" 'Lois' exclaimed, his frustration mounting.
"Calm down Clark, Superman will be here soon." 'Clark' paused as she flexed his shoulders. She ran his hand up to the collar of the shirt, pausing as she felt something under the fabric. She looked at him, amazed. "Are you wearing an undershirt in summer?"
'Clark' walked to the window and raised the curtains, exposing a brick wall. Frustrated, 'Clark' hit the wall. Amazingly, the bricks gave way, flying through the wall to the room next door.
"Clark, look! These walls must be made of paper." 'Clark' exclaimed.
'Lois' rushed to 'Clark's' side. "Trust me, the wall will wait. What I need to tell you won't." The serious note in 'Lois' voice finally registered with 'Clark'. She followed him back to the sofa.
"Lois, Superman isn't coming."
"Of course he is, don't be silly. He'll straighten everything out!"
'Lois' took a hold of both 'Clark's' hands. "Superman isn't coming. There's something I've been meaning to tell you for a long time. I just didn't know how to tell you, and then the timing wasn't right. Now I have no choice."
"I don't think this is the right time for True Confessions, Clark."
"Listen to me. Superman isn't coming because he's already here. I, well, now you, are Superman."
"Lois, you're crushing my hands! Take it easy!"
"Kid, this is never gonna work," 'Jimmy' insisted.
"Sure it will, Chief! I wrote out what you need to say, just say it like I would. I don't want Angela to think I stood her up," 'Perry' argued.
"I don't like it," 'Jimmy' objected.
"I'll call Alice for you! Please?" 'Perry' pleaded.
"Oh, all right. I just can't stand to see a grown man beg. It ain't a pretty sight, especially when it's me."
"Thanks, Chief! I knew I could count on you!" 'Perry' picked up the phone. "Maybe we'll get her answering machine," he commented hopefully while dialing.
"It's ringing," 'Jimmy' confirmed. He looked at the written words in front of him.
"Uh, yeah, that's what I call her."
"What does she call you?"
"Believe me, Chief, you don't want to know."
"Hi, this is Angela, I can't come…" the message started.
"Answering machine," 'Jimmy' updated.
"Yeah, uh, Angel? This is Jimmy. I, uh, can't make our date tonight. I have to work…" 'Jimmy' began.
A female voice interrupted. "Jimmy? It's me, Angela. I was just getting in the shower when I heard your voice."
'Jimmy's' eyes widened. "Oh, um, hi Angel." 'Perry' rushed over to listen.
"Did you say you have to work?" Angela asked.
"Um, yeah. I, uh, I don't know when I'll be done."
"Loosen up!" 'Perry' mouthed.'
"Oh, Jimmy. I was really looking forward to seeing you tonight."
"I, uh, I know. Me too!" 'Jimmy' improvised.
"Well, be careful, and call me if you get done early. Maybe we can still do something."
"Okay, bye Angel," 'Jimmy' said with relief.
"Um, aren't you forgetting something?" she prompted.
"Forgetting something?" he stalled.
"Don't I get a kiss?"
"A kiss?" 'Jimmy's' eyes were wide as he faced 'Perry'. 'Perry' slapped his hand to his forehead in frustration. 'Jimmy' shrugged. 'Perry' nodded yes.
"Oh, okay," 'Jimmy' said.
"I'm waiting," Angela prompted.
'Perry' was frantically writing instructions down for 'Jimmy'. 'Jimmy' grabbed the paper from him as he finished and scanned what 'Perry' had written. He looked up and glared at 'Perry'. Then he puckered up and kissed into the phone once and said, "One for the tip of your gorgeous nose." Angela kissed back and replied in a similar manner. He kissed two more times saying, "One for each of your beautiful eyes." She returned the gesture again. He kissed once more, noisily, and said, "And a big one for your most delicious lips." She once again repeated the gesture.
"Bye Angel," 'Jimmy' said with relief.
"Bye Sugar Lips," Angela replied.
"Sugar Lips?" 'Jimmy' said as he hung up the phone. 'Perry' cringed.
"All this time and you're Superman?"
"I wanted to tell you but I didn't know how."
"You mean I spent all that time trying to work out my feelings and now you tell me you're both of you! How could you NOT tell me? You saw what I went through." 'Clark's' anger began to surface.
"Can we talk about this later? I'd really hate for Lex to find out." 'Lois' glanced around nervously.
"Always on your terms, right, Clark? Only on your terms." In frustration 'Clark' slammed a fist down on the coffee table, shattering it. She stared at the splintered wood with dawning amazement.
"That might be a good place to start."
"Start what?" 'Clark' said distractedly.
"Learning. If we're going to get out of here, we need Superman. You're him."
"Oh, right. What do I need to do?"
"First of all, concentrate on force. Trust me, the wall over there is not paper," he explained.
'Clark' looked at the wall, his eyes wide. "Wow!" he giggled slightly.
"Okay, now you'll be fine if you're setting something down. Here, take this table leg and hold it."
'Clark' took the leg 'Lois' offered and held it normally.
"Now, hold it tight enough that I can't take it away from you." As 'Clark's' grip tightened the table leg broke in two. "Restraint. You'll have to concentrate in order to get the result you want. Take this other leg. Now tighten your grip just a tiny bit. Just a little. Okay?" She nodded. 'Lois' reached for the leg. Instinctively 'Clark's' grip on the leg tightened, once again shattering it.
"Oh! I know. Restraint." 'Clark' practiced until she could increase his grip on an object without harming it.
"Good, now just remember - concentrate! Now let's try hearing. Close your eyes and picture yourself standing outside the door. Focus on that. Can you hear anything?"
"I can hear the elevators all through the building."
"Okay. Now slowly go with that thought - the elevators. Picture the inside of an elevator. Anything?"
"No." She opened his eyes. "It's no use, I can't do this."
"You have to! Now try again. Picture the lobby upstairs." 'Clark' nodded.
"Okay." Her mind centered on the lobby as it had appeared earlier when they arrived. Was it still today? Or had tomorrow become today, she wondered. She forced her mind to focus on the lobby. Slowly, conversations were beginning to filter through the walls. 'Clark' smiled.
"Is it working?" 'Lois' asked.
"Yes. 'The weather is so nice, let's walk home.' 'No, I've got an appointment tonight.' 'Again?' 'Yes.' 'Can't you miss it just this once?' 'Watch the door.' 'Lois' followed one conversation. As the people talked she could almost see them walk out the door. As she imagined them walking outside, her mind was suddenly overwhelmed with voices. "Oh my goodness!" she exclaimed as she vigorously shook her head.
"How do you not let it get to you?" she asked.
"It took time. It's almost like I subconsciously focus on certain things. They always get through. Everything else is only when I will it to happen," he explained.
"What certain things?" she asked.
"Oh, you know, the word "help", sirens, "Superman", and of course anything you call out."
"Anytime," 'Lois' stated emphatically. Their eyes met, lingering. They moved toward each other, leaning in. Their lips came closer, and closer, until they were almost touching when 'Clark' suddenly turned away.
"Oh no! Footsteps, down the hall!"
"Hurry, back where we were - maybe they'll think we're still unconscious."
'Clark' sped to the sofa, hitting it in his unexpected haste. She grimaced. "I gotta get used to this soon!"
The door opened just as they reached their places and Asabi entered.
"Lois, my dear, come in. Please sit down." Lex smiled while 'Clark' was brought into the room. "Would you care for something to drink?"
"Cut the charm. What do you want?" she asked impatiently.
"Tsk, tsk. Is that any way to talk to your benefactor?"
"Oh, is that what you call it? You set out to win me as a prize." 'Clark' rose and began to pace angrily as she spoke. "You lied to me about the Daily Planet. You lied to me about my friends. You almost killed Superman. Then you killed yourself!" He twirled to face Lex.
"Don't Lois me! Your ex-wife tries to kill me. Your henchmen almost kill me while trying to revive you. Then you try to kill me! Now you take my mind and put it in Clark's body, and say have a nice life! You call that being my benefactor?" She sank slowly back into the chair.
"I can change you back you know. I wanted to give you one last chance to come back to me." Lex went over to him, held his hands and looked him in the eye. "Lois, I love you. We were meant to be together."
"Please…" She began.
Lex let go of 'Clark's' hands and stood up. "Talking to you like this is harder than I thought. I feel like I'm talking to that wimp, Kent."
"Clark is not a wimp!" she defended.
"You deserve so much better than this. Let me give it to you," he implored.
"Didn't you hear what I said? You tried to kill me!" she stared incredulously.
"So what! I kill a lot of people. I obviously didn't succeed in killing you, or we wouldn't be having this conversation. What's the matter? Don't you think I can provide for you? How do you think I can afford all this? I am far from destitute."
"That's not the point! I don't love you," 'Clark' explained.
"Love? Love dies, then you have nothing," he said vehemently. "Let me tell you a story. Shortly after Superman came to town I decided to split my fortune and set up a new identity in a new town. When you live a life of crime you have to be prepared. You never know what might happen. Under Asabi's guidance, it has grown to equal what I lost when I died. Now, when Superman comes to rescue you he will be killed. Then I will rise again and there will be no stopping me!"
"It'll never work. You won't be able to stop Superman!" she challenged.
Lex's reaction was instantaneous. "Get this out of my sight!" he turned away disgustedly as Asabi led 'Clark' back to the apartment.
The door opened to allow 'Clark' back into the apartment. 'Lois' rose immediately and went to him. "Are you okay?" he asked as the door closed.
"Yes. And no, I didn't do anything to make him suspect that you're Superman."
"I didn't think you would! What did Lex want?"
"Oh, the usual. Come away with me. Let me wine and dine you. Yes, I know I tried to kill you, but marry me anyway. You know, typical Lex. I told him no."
"I bet that really pleased him," 'Lois' smiled.
"No kidding. Now, what's next?"
"It's really x-ray?"
"Well, it depends. Think of it as taking away layers. For instance," 'Lois' looked around the room. "Take that box sitting over there on the table. The first layer is the outside that everyone sees. Then you look past the outer layer to what's inside. If there were another box inside, that's what you'd see next, and so on, until you were seeing into the last level you wanted to see. Does that make sense?"
"I, I think so. If I look through the wall I should be able to see the hallway, and then whatever is on the other side, right?"
"Right. Now concentrate, just like before, only on seeing instead of hearing."
"Okay." 'Clark' stood and faced the wall towards the hallway. To her amazement, the wall started to dissolve and then would go no further. She concentrated harder.
"A little. I can see through this side of the wall, the studs, the wiring and things, but I can't see into the hallway."
"That's strange." 'Lois' stepped over to the wall and rubbed her hand against it. "Oh yeah, lead paint. Lex must know that I can't see through lead. That's why I couldn't see them waiting for us when we got off the elevator."
"It's amazing! 'Clark' interrupted. "I can see right through you! Oh! I'm sorry, I'll try over here." She turned towards the wall she had punched a hole in earlier. "Clark, there's the machine. I can see it. Uh-oh."
"There's a bomb, or at least it looks like a bomb on the machine. The numbers are flashing!" Panic began to creep into her voice.
"Look at the numbers again. What do they say?"
"10:00, 9:59, 9:58, 9:57 Clark! We've got less than 10 minutes or we'll be stuck as each other for the rest of our lives!"
Their eyes locked. "If we survive the bomb."
Lois and Clark stood facing the machine that could change their lives back to normal. That is, if the bomb didn't blow it and them apart first. The ominous beeping threatened their concentration as the seconds ticked away. The clock read 8:58, 8:57.
"Lois, you have to look inside the bomb. Tell me what you see." 'Lois' nodded. 'Clark' looked at her, fear evident in his eyes. "You need to hurry," 'Lois' urged.
She looked at the bomb, concentrating with all her might on the box the wires emerged from. Nothing was coming through. "It's not working! I can't see anything!" she cried frantically. She glanced at the clock. 7:20.
"It has to work. Look at me," he commanded. When she didn't respond, 'Lois' took his shoulders and tried to pull her to face him.
"Look at me!" Their eyes met.
"Now, take a deep breath. Do it!" She did. "Now do it again. Again. Okay, now stay calm and try again. Look into the box."
She took a deep breath and turned to look at the box. This time, she noticed things she hadn't seen before. "That's strange! I can see through the table next to the box, and the wires around the box, but not into the box itself."
"I was afraid of that. It's lead. We're just going to have to chance it." 'Lois' looked around the box on all sides. He got down on her hands and knees to get a better look.
"Watch the suit, okay?"
'Lois' glared at her. 'Clark' shrugged his shoulders. She looked at the clock. 6:10.
"There's a seam here which indicates the box will open this way," 'Lois' observed. "Go ahead and open it."
"What if it explodes?"
"Then we don't get changed back. I'll stand behind you, that way you'll take most of the force and I should survive," 'Lois' explained
"Should?" 'Clark' asked.
"Should. Lois, time is running out."
She placed his hands on the box, ready to pull it open. 'Lois' moved behind 'Clark' so that she would be protected from the blast.
"Ready?" 'Clark' called out.
"Ready." 'Lois' waited and waited for the explosion, or at least something to tell him the box was open. Nothing happened. "Lois?"
"Lois?" He peered over 'Clark's' shoulder. There was a little red gaseous cloud over the open box. 'Clark' was mesmerized by it. 'Lois' moved around to get a better look at the bomb. The clock read 4:59.
"Pookie! Pookie? And you thought Angel was bad?" 'Perry' exclaimed at the notes 'Jimmy' had made for the call to Alice.
"Yeah, I know. You know how it is when you're young and you do silly things. No, I guess you don't. Anyhow, sometimes they stick around." 'Jimmy' explained while dialing his home number.
"Do you have an answering machine?" 'Perry' asked hopefully.
"No, I don't like contraptions like that, not at home."
"Great! Chief, one of these days I'll come over and get you all set up. You won't even know it's an answering machine." He sighed, "It's ringing."
"Pookie? It's me."
'Jimmy' moved closer so he could hear both sides of the conversation.
"Hi Perry. I thought you were going to leave early. You should be almost home by now."
"Um, well, um, you know how it is."
"Yes, I do," she sighed. "It's always something, isn't it."
"I promise, I'll make it up to you."
"Well, the Carters are expecting us for dinner and bridge. You know we've got that tournament coming up. We really do need the practice."
"Yes, hon, I know. I'm afraid it's unavoidable. You go on, and I'll see if I can't get there later."
"Three for bridge doesn't work," she admonished.
"I said I'll try."
"I'll make a deal with you. You make it for bridge and I will guarantee that my Stud Muffin will get lots of action tonight!"
'Jimmy' winced. 'Perry' smiled.
"It's a deal. I'll see you as soon as I can. Bye Pookie."
"Bye Stud Muffin!"
"Don't say it, don't even say it," 'Jimmy' growled as he sat behind the desk, head in his hands.
"Look at this. Have you ever seen anything like this before?" 'Clark' asked as she watched the red gas. She slowly moved his hand through the gas, causing patterns to form. "It's beautiful!"
"It must be red kryptonite. I guess Lex's scientists have been busy on this one." 'Lois' looked over the bomb. There was a small box in the center where all five wires emerged. Two of the wires ran into the explosives. The other three appeared to go through the wall. Reaching in, 'Lois' disconnected the two wires from the explosives. "That should do it." The clock stopped at 4:48.
He turned to observe 'Clark' still mesmerized by the gas. "Can you make the gas come over this way?" he asked, indicating the air vent. 'Clark' played with the gas to get it to where 'Lois' had requested. "Maybe if you blow it here it will move faster," he suggested. "Gently."
Dreamily, 'Clark' blew the gas toward 'Lois'. The gas went into the air vent even though the air system was off. As soon as the last bit of gas was in the vent 'Lois' closed it. 'Clark' reached out a hand to steady herself.
"Whoa, what was that?"
"Red kryptonite. It seems to affect me differently every time I'm near it. Quite an effect, huh?"
"You can say that again. Did you stop the bomb?"
"Piece of cake once I could see the wires."
"How do you always know how to disarm whichever bomb you find?"
"I have a photographic memory and it actually stayed with me through the switch." As 'Lois' said this an alarm sounded. A panel in the wall slid apart showing another clock and a TV set. This one read 1:59. The TV set next to the clock came to life, showing Lex Luther. He appeared to be watching as boxes were loaded into several vans. He turned and looked toward the camera. Showing surprise, he moved closer.
"Oh, hello there. I guess you must have made it past the first bomb, otherwise we wouldn't be talking. Funny, I expected to see Superman with you. I thought for sure you would need his help. Oh well, I guess everything can't be perfect. As you can see, there is another part of the bomb that you have failed to disconnect. It will detonate in two minutes. Oh my, we're down to one and a half minutes already." At his words another panel in the wall slid open to reveal the remaining three wires running into another smaller box.
"Well, have fun. Since Superman didn't come to help you, responsibility for your death rests solely on him. Better to be each other than to be dead. But, now there's no time to get away from the bomb. Pity, I did so enjoy your work. Well, as you can see, it's moving day. Just in case our explosives department miscalculated, I'm much too valuable to be caught in the explosion. Till next time," he paused. "I'm sorry, there won't be a next time. This really is good- bye." His voice turned cold. "So be it." The screen went blank. The clock read :25.
"That box is lead again," she said.
"Figures. Go for it, we haven't got much time. Before you do that," he dropped his voice to a whisper, "take out the TV screen. It must be a two-way camera. All we need is Lex to see you disarm the bomb."
"What do I do?" she whispered back.
"Same as x-ray vision but think fire."
"Okay, wish me luck." 'Clark' concentrated on the center of the TV, picturing in her mind what she wanted to happen. In her mind, flames reached out of the TV set, engulfing it. In reality, smoke began to rise through the vents in the top. Suddenly, there was an explosion as the TV heated up and burst into flames. "Wow!" She looked at the clock. :11
"Get behind me." She reached in and ripped off the box. 'Clark' was immediately hit with a pain so intense it doubled her over. "Clark! Oh, God, it hurts! What is this?" :6
'Lois' looked at the bomb. "Kryptonite!" He reached in a pulled the remaining three wires from the bomb. The clock continued to tick down for a few seconds :03, :02, :01 until it stopped. 'Clark' was getting weaker. 'Lois' reached in and covered the kryptonite with the lead box.
As Lex and Asabi climbed into the van the picture on his TV screen disappeared. "The explosion must have been a little bigger than I expected," Asabi began. "It wasn't supposed to take out the camera equipment."
Climbing back out of the van, Lex addressed his minions. "Let's pause for a moment of silence at the death of two of our adversaries. Lois Lane, a beautiful and talented newspaper reporter. An amazing woman, actually. Such as shame… and Clark Kent." He stood silently literally for one minute. "Too bad Superman wasn't with them." He turned to Asabi, "Get them out of here. Tell Dr. Martens and Dr. Alton they need to have their machine assembled and working one week from today. What time is it?"
"Drat! People will still be in the office. I'll have to take the time to change." He turned back to everyone. "Move out!" he said as he stepped away. He watched as Asabi sent the caravan out of the parking garage.
"Asabi, get me the tape of Lois and Clark's final hours from the video control room. I want to watch it tonight."
"I will bring it to the penthouse, sir." Asabi turned back into the building.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" 'Clark' asked.
"That depends, what are you thinking?"
"Does Lex have another surprise for us, or will the machine work?"
"There's only one way to find out," 'Lois' said as he motioned for her to have a seat. He moved the on/off switch closer to the chair he was sitting in. "Ready?"
"Ready as I'll ever be," 'Clark' replied.
'Lois' pushed the button, turning the machine on. As the machine began to hum he was hit with an intense pain inside her head. 'Clark' felt nothing. Realizing the machine was only partially working, 'Clark' reached across and turned it off. 'Lois' sighed in relief. 'Clark' looked the machine over to see if there were any connections missing. Nothing.
"Do you remember anything about when he switched us the first time?" 'Lois' asked.
"Not really, just that it felt like my head was being torn in two."
"I think I know what's wrong, but I'm not positive. Are you willing to try it again, even if it's painful?"
"Anything. No offense, Clark, but I'd rather spend the rest of my life with you, not as you."
"Hmm…Before I felt the pain someone came into the room. I remember thinking it would be the distraction I needed, 'Lois' paused. "Wait! She opened a box and gave something to Lex. I think it was the kryptonite. It must have weakened me enough to let the machine work."
"That makes sense, actually. Okay, what do we need to do?"
"I'm going to put the kryptonite that was with the last bomb here under the lead box. Just before I turn on the machine I will remove the box. It will hurt like before, but we should be able to transfer. If it works, as soon as you can, cover the kryptonite. If you can't do that, I'll die. If the transfer doesn't work, well, I should be able to shut the machine off, and cover the kryptonite. Ready?"
"Ready." She braced herself for the pain that should follow. She watched 'Lois' reach for the box. Their eyes met. 'Clark' nodded. 'Lois' opened the box. Instantly the pain hit just as intense as before. Through the pain she saw 'Lois' switch on the machine. The agony of the kryptonite was joined by another pain. She felt as if her head was being pulled apart. Her last conscious thought was, "It's working!"
Lois moved slowly as she regained consciousness. She moved her head from side to side, stretching the muscles. Slowly she opened her eyes. Across the room she saw Clark. "It worked!" she thought.
"Lois! Lois!" he whispered, trying to get her attention. Then she remembered the pain Clark was in. She covered the kryptonite with the lead box and shut the machine off.
"Clark!" she rushed to his side. "Are you okay?"
"I am now." He took a deep breath, pulled her close, and kissed her. *** Epilogue:
They paused outside the building, each with their own thoughts. Jimmy and Perry were glad to be themselves again. Clark was still uneasy about Lois' reaction to finally finding out his secret. Lois was concentrating on the conflicting feelings that were going through her mind.
Perry broke the silence. "Well folks, I can't say it's been a pleasure, although it was interesting."
"Yeah. No offense, Chief, but I sure am glad to be myself again." Jimmy looked at his watch. "If I hurry, maybe Angela and I can still catch that movie she wanted to see. I'll see you guys tomorrow."
"Bye." Lois and Clark called in unison.
With a twinkle in his eye, Perry called out after Jimmy, "Take care, Sugarlips!"
Jimmy stopped in his tracks before slowly turning around, his face a dark shade of red. He smiled and exclaimed, "You too, Stud Muffin!" and continued on his way.
"Sugarlips?" Lois asked.
"Stud Muffin?" Clark asked.
Perry looked embarrassed. "It's a long story. Gotta go!" He headed for home, leaving Lois and Clark shaking their heads.
"Can we take a walk?" Clark asked hesitantly.
"I think we need to," she agreed. They crossed the street to the park and began to walk towards the fountain.
"Are you mad at me?" he asked.
"A little. I'm also mad at myself."
She stopped walking. "You are one of my closest friends. I should have known, should have been able to tell, that you and Superman were the same person. I feel like I've been so blind, so stupid." She tried to explain her conflicting thoughts.
"Lois, no. You're neither."
"It explains so much though, doesn't it," she said.
"The cheese of the month club, all the excuses."
"That, and how you can eat like you do," she smiled, remembering the first time she had been in his apartment. She had described him as Mr. Hardbody who eats like an eight year old.
"Why did you lie to me?"
They began walking. "At first, it just seemed like the right thing to do. Because I'm not from here, I have certain abilities that allow me to help people who would normally not have the help. When I first came to Metropolis certain things happened, like the runaway bus. I was able to stop it, but one person saw me do it. She was really frightened. I was afraid that if I kept doing it, people would know it was me, then others would find out and I'd find myself locked up somewhere while they tried to find out what gave me my powers. I am an alien, you know. The costume seemed like a good idea."
"Then I called you Superman."
"Yes," he smiled as he remembered. "You were so fascinated by Superman. All I wanted was to have you look at Clark like that. You know, Clark is who I really am. Superman just lets me do the things I can to help people. You couldn't see past the costume and the flying. I wanted to take you away right then and there, and tell you that I was him, but I was afraid that you'd still think of me as the farmboy hack from Nowheresville," he laughed nervously.
She winced as he spoke. "I couldn't stay away from you," she began. "Every time I needed someone, you were there. Every time I needed to talk, you were there. I finally realized that Superman could never belong to one person. He, you, belongs to everyone. And then I realized what you mean to me."
"But by that time it seemed too late. I was afraid you'd be upset because I should have told you, but by the time I felt like I could tell you it was already too late. I thought you'd be so mad at me that you'd never want to see me again." he explained.
"I probably would have been," she smiled. "But it wouldn't have lasted for long. So, who all knows? Obviously, your parents." She kind of laughed.
"Obviously," he smiled.
"Anyone else?" she asked.
"Trask, of course. He found out just before he died. Jason Mazik also knew because of the diary his father found. The only other person is Jack."
"You told Jack and you didn't tell me! Of all the…"
"Lois, no! Remember when the gang of terrorists held us hostage in the Daily Planet? Well, Jack saw me do some things that only Superman could do. He put two and two together and got four."
"Whereas I put two and two together and got five," she said ruefully.
"Mmm, you could say that. What I'd rather you say is that you forgive me for not telling you about Superman."
"Give me a couple of days," she smiled. "I wish I could stay here and talk some more, but I've got to get ready for the interview with Lewis Logan. I'm already going to be late."
"Allow me," he said as he looked around to make sure no one was within sight. He spun around and changed into Superman. "May I give you a lift?" he asked.
"This might have its advantages after all," Lois mused as Superman picked her up. Maybe I'll cancel dinner with Lewis Logan after all," she said as they flew to her apartment.
Lewis Logan escorted his new personal assistant, Jennifer Moore, to the elevator.
"I left the last of the letters on your desk for you to sign. I changed your dinner reservations to 8:00, and Lois Lane is expecting you at 7:30. Your chauffeur has her address," she recited as they waited for the elevator.
He nodded to her in reply. The elevator going down appeared.
"Good night, Mr. Lewis."
"Good night, Jennifer," he said. As the doors closed, his demeanor changed. He went back into his apartment, once owned by Lex Luthor.
He entered the living room and walked over to the mirror on the wall. As he looked in the mirror, he began to scratch his chin. Skin flecked off underneath his fingernails, until finally he had loosened a portion of the skin. He continued to scratch and work loose the skin on his face until he had enough that he could hold onto. He grabbed the edge of the mask and pulled until the mask came off. He looked into the mirror.
"I told you I'd be back." Lex Luthor began to laugh.
Asabi entered the apartment with a videotape in his hand. Unknown to Lois and Clark, the tape contained the time they had spent in the duplicated apartment. He handed it to Lex.
"Ah, Lois and Clark's final hours on this earth." Lex paused. "I'd like to be alone now."
As Asabi slipped out of the room, the phone rang. Lex ignored it, allowing the answering machine to do its job as he savored the thought of the video tape's contents. He'd stop it before the explosion, he decided. He didn't want to see Lois go to pieces, literally. He smiled at the thought.
The message played aloud as it recorded, "Mr. Logan? This is Lois Lane. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to cancel dinner tonight. I hope we can reschedule. I'll call you at your office tomorrow. Goodnight."
"No!" Lex screamed as he hurled the videotape into the mirror, sending pieces of broken glass and shredded tape flying across the room.
(Until Next Time)