By Kendra Prince (KPrince697@aol.com)
Summary: When Intergang sends kryptonite to Lois' apartment in an attempt to hurt Superman, it's Clark who gets sick. Taking care of him, Lois makes the big discovery. Later, caught at the center of an Intergang plot, she almost dies and finds herself at heaven's gate, where she has an interesting discussion with Elvis (who's filling in for St. Peter).
Author's note: Without a doubt, Lois and Clark are one of the most romantic couples onscreen today. We need more romantic heroes like this duo. Couples who are willing to sacrifice anything for the good of their partner. We know by the second season finale that Lois has this kind of sacrificial love for Clark since she was willing to die to save his parents.
The setting for this story falls after Clark and Lois have been dating for some time. I'm assuming this comes after the "Whine, Whine, Whine" episode.
Speaking of the finale, I swear on a mile-high stack of bibles that I almost had this story completed by the time I read the spoilers for "And The Answer Is". However, you may see some distinct similarities, which hopefully means I'm closer to being a real screenwriter than I thought! <vbg> Many thanks to Evelyn Catano, Leigh Raglan and Amy Roos for their input. I hope you find this story "Worth The Risk". (kp)
Lois Lane didn't know where she was. She looked about in wonder as clouds swirled around her. She tried in vain to remember just how she got there, wherever this was. As she made her way down what appeared to be a tunnel, she realized that she'd never felt so light, so carefree. Looking for answers, she pressed on toward the bright light at the end of the tunnel.
Stepping into the light, she took notice of a sign which read, "Point Of No Return." She viewed large gates made of, was it pearl? By the gates, there stood a man with his back to Lois. He was dressed in white and wore a large white cape decorated with rhinestones. He seemed ignorant of her presence as he bent over a large, open book.
Lois eased closer to peer over his shoulder. The book was filled with names and was open to the "L's". In a decidedly Memphis drawl, the man said, "You must be Miss Lane."
By this time, Lois was getting irritated. It was obvious this guy was in on the plot to bring her to this place. If he was in cahoots with Lex Luthor, she'd have his head. "As a matter of fact, I am. And just who do you think you are?" Lois stopped short as the man looked up and turned around to meet her. "Great shades of—"
"Elvis." He smiled and extended a hand to her.
"That's impossible. Elvis Presley is dead," Lois countered.
"Yes, ma'am and so are you."
"I'm dead? I died? When?" Lois stammered.
Elvis glanced down at his gold pocket watch. "Hmm… 'Bout a minute ago."
Lois' mind was reeling. "Okay. If we're both dead, this must be—" She held her breath waiting for him to fill in the blank.
Lois was awestruck as she walked around outside the gates, trying to get her bearings. "Funny. I always heard Peter was supposed to be at the gates."
"Oh, he's taking the rest of the century off. Processing all those folks from the last earthquake took a lot out of him. I think he said something about going fishing."
As she paused long enough to size up Elvis, Lois said, "You look so… thin."
"There's no need for plus sizes here, Miss Lane. We're all made perfect in the translation. Why, I can eat all the fried chicken and trimmings I want and never gain an ounce. This really *is* Heaven!" Elvis smiled. He reached into his cape and drew out a king-sized Double Fudge Crunch Bar. "I hear you have a special fondness for these."
As Lois reached for the candy, she sighed. "Thanks. I could really use one about now." As she absently began to unwrap the candy, she whispered, "How did I get here? How did I die?"
Elvis spoke reassuringly. "It's not unusual for the recently translated to be a little disoriented at first. What's the last thing you remember?"
Lois hesitated. "We were in Perry's office, talking about his plans to go to Graceland for your annual birthday celebration."
"You know, I've always liked Perry. He's a good guy."
Lois was surprised. "You know Perry?"
"Sure do. Jimmy and Clark, too."
Hearing Clark's name startled Lois. She cried out, "Is Clark okay? I have to know."
"We'll talk about him in a minute. Right now, we have to bring you up to speed." With that, Elvis swiveled his hips and pointed to a screen that appeared out of nowhere. He guided Lois over to the screen where she began watching the last week of her life unfold.
"I'm telling you, kids, I haven't been this excited since Alice proposed!" Perry laughed heartily. He turned in his chair to look at the picture of Elvis. "I can't wait to see Graceland. What a way to spend a second honeymoon, seeing the place of the King!"
(In Heaven, Elvis smiled. He leaned over to Lois and whispered, "If he thinks I'm the King, wait 'till he gets to meet…" He nodded past the pearly gates.
Lois followed his nod with her eyes. "You mean …?"
Elvis solemnly placed his hand on his chest and shook his head affirmatively.)
"That's great, Chief. You're leaving next week, right?" It never hurt to act interested, Clark reasoned.
"That's right, son. I still say they need to make Elvis' birthday a national holiday."
"In case anybody cares, my stomach is *still* growling…" Lois grumbled.
Clark rolled his eyes. "Sorry, Chief. Duty calls."
Satisfied, Lois sauntered out of Perry's office. "That's okay, son. Gotta' keep her happy."
"I'm trying, Perry. I really am." Clark looked over to see Lois standing by his desk with her arms folded and shooting him an "if-looks-could-kill" glare.
(In Heaven, Elvis remarked, "That's something we never have up here. Low blood sugar."
"The way you eat, that's no surprise," Lois said dryly.
"Hey, now. Don't be cruel.")
"You two get some rest," Perry ordered. "I've got half the staff out with the flu and I can't afford to lose my two star reporters."
"Will do, Chief," Clark promised.
As Clark escorted Lois to the elevator, he couldn't help smiling because Perry was calling Jimmy. "Uh… Jimmy! Have I told you about my trip to Graceland?"
Jimmy only looked like he was born yesterday. "Sorry, Chief. I've got a rush order on the film from the Crochet Tournament at the Senior Hall." He quickly ducked out of sight.
"Purist," sniffed Lois as she and Clark walked up the steps to her apartment building. They were in the midst of yet another "discussion". This time it was about, of all things, dessert pizza.
"All I'm saying is it's not really pizza. It's more of a pie."
"And pizza pizza is not a pie?"
"Lois Lane, without a doubt, you are the most stubborn woman I've ever met!"
"And you love me for it." She flashed him a disarming smile which Clark gladly returned.
"Yes I do." He put his arm around her waist. If only all their *discussions* ended this civilly.
"Well, come on. I'll warm up some of that "pie" you're carrying and we'll have it for dessert."
As they reached her door, Lois looked down to find a package waiting for her.
"Ordering things in plain, brown wrappers, Lois?" Clark teased.
Lois rose to the bait as she bent down to retrieve the package. "Keep that up, Kent and you'll be wearing dessert!" Lois frowned. "Augh, this thing is heavy!"
Clark reached for the box as Lois unlocked her door. When he tried to scan the contents with his x-ray vision, he found out why the box was so heavy. It was lead-lined.
"Lois, maybe you should send this over to Star Labs instead of opening it here," Clark cautioned.
"Nonsense." She grabbed the package from Clark and dropped it on her dining table. "It's not like it's ticking or anything." She wasted no time in ripping open the brown paper covering the package, which had no return address. Opening the box, she was furious to find kryptonite waiting inside.
Almost immediately, Clark became ill.
Lois forgot about the kryptonite as she rushed to his side to keep him from sinking to the floor. "Clark, what is it?"
Clark was determined this was not the time to reveal his alter ego. "It must be that flu that Perry was talking about," his voice rasped as he leaned heavily on Lois.
"It sure came on quick. Let me help you." Lois steered him toward her room, where he collapsed on the bed.
"You probably want to send the kryptonite to Star Labs for analysis." Clark knew it didn't have to be analyzed. He just wanted it out of the apartment.
"I'll call Jimmy, " said Lois as she reached for the phone. As she hung up, she turned to find Clark passed out against her pillow.
Lois ran a washcloth under cool water for Clark. She was really worried about him. His forehead felt like it was burning up. This flu must really be fast-acting, she mused. After all, Clark was fine at dinner.
She tiptoed to the bed and sat down beside him. Clark was sound asleep. He didn't even stir when she whispered his name. She lovingly stroked his face with the washcloth. Placing it across his forehead, she reached for his glasses.
Lois wasn't prepared for the revelation awaiting her behind the frames. She placed the glasses on her nightstand and looked back at Clark only to see Superman in a shirt and tie lying unconscious on her bed. Her eyes widened with shock. "Oh, my God. Clark is Superman!"
While Clark rested, Lois was grateful for the time to think. She couldn't imagine what to say or do. So. for now, she would play along with the charade.
She carefully placed Clark's glasses back on his face and waited, watching him sleep as the pieces began to fall in place. This answered so many of her questions, but hundreds of others came to take their place.
She walked to the very window where Super… Clark had come to see her so very often. Staring up into the starry night, she tried to picture herself soaring to the heavens in the arms of her partner, the man she thought she knew better than anyone. A man she fell in love with long ago under another identity. If he couldn't trust her with the truth, what was their relationship based on, anyway?
Lois found herself suspended between fear and anger. Fear, because she knew the kryptonite was sent to harm Superman. Anger, because Clark had played her for the fool. Normally, she would have shook Clark awake and confronted him, but he obviously was in serious danger. Yes, she must be careful. She must prove herself trustworthy whether Clark deserved it or not.
Lois jumped as the sound of her doorbell jolted her out of deep thoughts. She opened the door to find Jimmy waiting there. "Jimmy, what are you doing here?"
"You called me. Remember? Something about kryptonite."
"Oh, yes." She led him to the dining table and showed him the box. "This was waiting for me when Clark and I came back from dinner."
"C. K.? Is he still here?" Jimmy asked as he looked around the apartment.
Jimmy shot Lois a suspicious look.
"Wh-what I mean is that he wasn't feeling well and uh, left."
"Lois?" Clark called out from the bedroom.
"He left, huh?" Jimmy raised an eyebrow.
"Silly me. I forgot he's still here," Lois covered rather poorly.
"You know, Lois, if you want help with that memory, I hear fish is a great brain food. Perhaps next time, you and C. K. should eat down at the wharf instead of Al's Pizzeria." He tapped the box containing the dessert pizza for emphasis.
Her young friend smiled knowingly. "Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me."
That's not the secret I'm worried about, thought Lois. As she saw Jimmy to the door, Clark called out to her once more.
"Feeling better?" Lois moved back to sit beside him on the bed.
Clark struggled with telling her the truth. He knew she deserved to know everything, but he wasn't sure how she'd react. After the kryptonite, he just wasn't up to facing her possible anger. "I'm still a little weak but I think I can make it home okay."
Lois leaned forward and lingered as she kissed Clark's forehead. She sat back and smiled. "Mom could always tell when Lucy and I had a fever just by kissing us. Seems your fever left as quickly as it came."
Clark sat up. "Did Jimmy pick up the kryptonite?"
"He just left. You want me to drive you home?"
"I can make it okay. The walk will probably do me good." Clark shakily stood to his feet. Though the kryptonite was out of the apartment, Clark was still experiencing side effects. Lois watched carefully as he staggered out of her bedroom.
As Lois saw him to the door, Clark turned and looked into her eyes. Something was different. What if she knew the truth? What if he'd lost her trust? He bent to kiss her and while she didn't fight him, she didn't respond either. "You know, Lois, kisses are good for checking other things besides fevers."
Lois dismissed his concern. "Feel better, okay?" As Lois closed the door behind Clark, she turned and sunk to the floor with tears staining her cheeks.
At home, Clark placed a late night call to Jonathan and Martha. As soon as they heard about the kryptonite, they were worried. "The kicker is it's not the kryptonite that bothers me, as much as the fact that this happened in front of Lois. What if she suspects? I'm going to have to tell her the truth now!"
"Or at least confirm it," Jonathan uttered.
"Don't you think she deserves to know?" Martha asked.
"Of course she does. But I didn't want it to be like this. I kept waiting for the right time to tell her."
"Honey, I have a feeling there is no right time for telling someone this kind of news. You have to do it before someone like Luthor forces your hand."
"I know, Mom. Obviously, someone is trying to get to Superman through Lois."
"Which means she's in danger, too." Martha felt uneasy.
The next day at work, Lois was more subdued than Clark had ever seen her. He tried in vain to pick up where they left off on the dessert pizza debate. When Clark offered to take her to lunch, Lois declined, saying she had an "appointment". Clark asked what was bothering her and she shrugged it off, saying she was probably catching the flu.
Clark watched dejectedly as Lois left work early, something she'd never done in the time he'd known her. Perry was also watching and leaned over Clark's shoulder to ask, "Everything okay with you kids?"
"I hope so, Chief."
"Clark, have you been totally honest with Lois?"
"A-a-a-bout what?" Clark sputtered.
"Have you told her how you feel about her?"
"Lois knows, Perry."
"Does she really? What about Mayson Drake?"
The last thing Clark wanted was an inquisition in the middle of the news room. "Mayson was a professional acquaintance…" Perry raised an eyebrow. "… and a *friend*. There's no one for me but Lois."
"Take it from me, son. The sooner she knows how you feel, the better things will be. If she doesn't get that reassurance, she just may look elsewhere. Don't forget Scar—"
Clark had had enough. "Chief! Please don't mention that name. If it will make you happy, I'll go see Lois right now."
"Don't do it for me," Perry admonished. "Do it for love!"
With that, Clark grabbed his coat and took his leave. Strains of Perry singing "All Shook Up" echoed throughout the news room as the elevator doors shut behind Clark.
Lois dragged herself up the stairs to her apartment. Maybe she did have the flu after all. An emotional flu that had taken hold of her broken heart. She felt so torn as to what to do about Clark.
If only Lois knew what was waiting on the other side of her apartment door. No sooner had she dropped her attache case on the sofa, than she was grabbed from behind by a couple of Intergang henchmen. She fought valiantly, but they proved too quick and strong.
One of them held her, while the other pushed up the sleeve of her silk blouse. Lois struggled even more when she saw the hypodermic in her attacker's hand. She felt a slight prick and it was over.
The Intergang members leaned over Lois as she lay on her bed. "Did you receive the kryptonite we sent you?" one demanded.
Lois struggled to fight her way out of the fog she was in. "Yes," she murmured.
"Was Superman exposed to the kryptonite?" asked the other henchman.
"How did it affect him?"
Lois groaned. Even drugged, the memory of kryptonite making Clark ill pained her. "Made him… weak."
When Clark started to knock on Lois' door, he heard voices inside. There were two men and Lois, who sounded drugged.
The Intergang members honed in on the $64,000.00 question. "Does Superman have a secret identity?"
God help her, she didn't want to betray Clark, but the drug was proving to be a powerful override to her conscience. "Yes."
She was in trouble and Clark had no time to waste.
Looking at each other hopefully, the Intergang members leaned closer to Lois. "Tell us, Miss Lane, who Superman really is."
Just as Lois was about to reluctantly form Clark's name on her lips, a rush of wind swept through the room.
"At this moment, he's your worst enemy." The henchmen looked up to see Superman standing just inside the window. They drew their guns, but their bullets proved useless. In the blink of an eye, Superman had them both by the collars. At the doorway, Superman stole a glance at his sleeping beauty. Once again, the criminal element had gotten in the way of their being together.
Later that evening, Clark stopped by Lois' apartment to check on her. Clark dreaded facing her. His worst fears had been realized when he heard Lois confirm to the Intergang thugs that Superman had a secret identity. He knew then that the kryptonite in her apartment had exposed him. He wanted her to know the truth, but on his terms. How would she treat him now? What was she going to say? Better yet, what was Clark going to say to her? For the time being, he decided not to say anything. He didn't just have the truth to worry about, he had Lois' safety. With a heavy sigh, he raised his hand to knock on her door.
By that time, the drug was out of Lois' system and she was clear-headed once again. If anything, the attack had crystallized her thinking. She knew at last what she needed to do.
Lois opened her door to Clark, who looked extremely concerned. "Superman told me about the attack."
"I bet he did, " Lois said as she backed away from the door.
Clark hesitated for a moment. If Lois seemed distant this morning, she seemed downright cold now. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine, considering I was jumped and given truth serum by two Intergang thugs who seem to think I know Superman's true identity, which of course, I don't. Do I, Clark?"
Her penetrating stare took Clark by surprise. "I'm sure you wouldn't know unless he confided in you. Provided of course, he does have a secret identity."
Lois moved within inches of Clark's face. "You seem closer to him than anyone. Do you anticipate him confiding in me anytime soon? Provided of course, he does have a secret identity."
Clark's heart was hammering inside his chest. After what happened, he couldn't confide in her. He refused to place her in that kind of danger. "Lois, I'm sure Superman trusts you with his very life, but as for any secrets he may be carrying, I'm not prepared to give you an answer."
The next morning, although Clark was surprised to see Lois wasn't at her desk, he didn't worry. Considering the evening she'd had the night before, she deserved a day off. He sat at his desk and just as he started to check his e-mail, Perry summoned him into his office.
Perry's face looked grave as he shut the door behind Clark. "Clark, I heard about the attack on Lois last night."
"Thankfully, Superman stopped the Intergang thugs who were pumping her for information about Superman's identity. I think she's going to be okay."
"Are you sure, son? She called me late last night and asked for a leave of absence."
Clark was shocked. This didn't sound like Lois. "For how long, Chief?"
"For an undetermined length of time. You sure everything is kosher between you two?"
"I thought so."
"She didn't tell you about the leave of absence?"
"No. Wait! I've got an e-mail from her waiting for me." Clark rushed back to his desk as Perry watched from his office doorway.
Clark wasted no time in pulling up Lois' e-mail which read:
SUBJECT: Leave of absence
By now, you've probably noticed I'm not in the office today. After the attack last night, I need some time to think about some things, including our relationship. Things are happening so fast, I can't catch my breath. I know you care, Clark and so do I, but please allow me some space. Please don't try to find me. I'll call you when I'm ready to talk.
Numbly, Clark sat back in his chair. He hadn't even noticed Jimmy standing by his desk. "Bad news, C. K.?"
"Lois is taking a leave of absence."
"Because of the attack by Intergang?"
"That's part of it. Jimmy, I need Lucy's number at school. Do you think you could track it down for me?"
Jimmy seemed relieved to offer help. "Sure thing." He immediately went to work at Lois' computer, searching for the number. In a matter of minutes, he handed not only Lucy's phone number, but also the number of her dorm room at school to Clark.
"Thanks, Jimmy. I owe you one."
"I'm sorry, Clark", Lucy Lane apologized. "Lois asked me not to tell anyone where she is, especially you. I'm only supposed to contact her in the case of an emergency. I've never seen her this upset. Did you guys have a fight or something?"
"No. Just a failure to communicate," Clark said morosely. "If you talk to her, tell her I got the message and I miss her very much."
Lois steered her jeep into the shady drive of a romantic hideaway tucked away in upstate New York. It was spring and everything here was beautiful and new. The scenery should have been a balm to Lois' spirit, but it only served to depress her more. This was the kind of place she hoped to be sharing with Clark someday. Even away from Metropolis, he was utmost on her mind.
As she stepped out of the jeep, she viewed the inn with a smile. Had it really been eight years? The place seemed frozen in time.
Inside, she tiptoed to the bar. The bartender recognized Lois immediately. He grasped her hand warmly. She turned her focus to the singer on-stage.
The years had been kind to David Lambert. Lois smiled when she remembered her crush. The kind of crush only a love-struck teen could have. David and Lois' fathers were mutual friends. When Lois graduated high school, her dad pulled a few strings to get her summer work here at the inn. At that time, David was managing the inn for his father, as well as performing in the club. He still was performing here, only he had bought the inn from his father and apparently, turned it into a real success.
On-stage, David and his band were preparing to rehearse. "Let's go over 'Ain No Mountain High Enough'."
One of the band members piped up. "Isn't that a duet?'
"Well, since Denise walked out, it's a solo. What is it with me and backup singers, anyway?"
"Have you got another mike back there?" Lois asked the bartender.
The introduction began to play and David started to sing:
"Listen, baby Ain't no mountain high Ain't no valley low Ain't no river wide enough, baby"
To the surprise of David and his band, he did have a duet partner—Lois. She chimed in:
"If you need me Call me No matter where you are No matter how far Just call my name I'll be there in a hurry You don't have to worry"
The bartender signaled for the light tech to put a spot on Lois. David smiled when he recognized her and joined with her on the chorus.
"Cause baby There ain't no mountain high enough There ain't no valley low enough There ain't no river wide enough To keep me from getting to you babe"
David and Lois moved toward one another as they continued to sing. Those in the band who remembered Lois smiled to see her singing with their boss. Those who didn't know her couldn't help be intrigued.
"Remember the day I set you free I told you you could always count on me darlin' From that day on I made a vow I'll be there when you want me Some way, some how"
David reached out to take Lois' hand as they repeated the chorus. For some reason, it felt so natural for her to be there with him. Looking into her eyes, the years just melted away.
"No wind No rain Or winter's cold Can stop me, baby Cause you are my goal If you're ever in trouble I'll be there on the double Just send for me, oh baby My love is alive Way down in my heart All though we are miles apart If you ever need a helping hand I'll be there on the double Just as fast as I can Don't you know There ain't no mountain high enough Ain't no valley low enough Ain't no river wide enough To keep me from getting to you babe…" **
When the final chord sounded, the room was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. David and Lois stood there taking each other in. Over forty and he's still one of the most handsome men I know besides Clark, Lois mused.
Lois was a welcome sight to David as well. She's even more beautiful than I remember, he thought.
"Lois, what brings you here?"
"Like the song says, I need a helping hand."
"Daddy, who's this?" Lois looked down to see a precocious little girl, probably no more than seven or eight, tugging on David's sleeve.
Lois raised an eyebrow. "Daddy?"
David smiled sheepishly. "I guess some things have changed since you were last here, Brown Eyes."
David and Lois took a late night stroll around the lake on the property.
Lois thought it was time to approach the subject of David's daughter, Hannah. "It's funny, but she reminds me of that backup singer who left just after I started working here."
"It's not so funny when you consider Shelley *is* Hannah's mother."
Lois sat on a rocky ledge by the lakeside. "I thought Shelley left to pursue a singing career on the west coast."
"That's what her note said," David answered.
"But in reality, she left because she was pregnant."
"When did you find out about Hannah?"
"About a year after Shelley left, she walked into the inn one day with Hannah in tow. It seems she didn't find motherhood an honorable profession. She wanted to give me a chance to raise Hannah. Otherwise, she was going to put her up for adoption."
"That must have been hard for you."
"Actually, it was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. The first time I laid eyes on Hannah, she looked up at me and smiled so big. She wrapped her tiny hand around my finger and held on for dear life. It was if she were saying, 'Take me. I'm yours.' I had my lawyer draw up papers that afternoon and Hannah's been with me since then."
"Is not a part of our lives anymore."
"I think Hannah is a very lucky little girl."
"It's tough sometimes, being two parents in one. I keep thinking she needs a mother, but Hannah can be really choosy when it comes to my dates." They both laughed at the thought.
"From what I can see, you haven't done so bad."
"What about you, Lois?"
Lois immediately became guarded. "What do you mean?"
"Why do I get the feeling you're running from something or … someone?"
If Lois hadn't needed to talk so much, she would have resented David seeing through her. "Um, there is someone. A very special someone."
Lois tried to avoid David's penetrating gaze. "So why are you here with me instead of home with him tonight?"
"I found out something that could put him in jeopardy if the truth ever got out. There are people who think they can get to him through me and my presence in Metropolis puts him in danger."
"You left to protect him?"
"I love him, David. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for him."
David wrapped his arms around Lois. "You can stay here as long as you like."
"Thank you," Lois whispered as she rested her head on David's capable shoulder. David knew her heart belonged to another man, but he couldn't help wishing his relationship with Lois wasn't past tense.
Back in Metropolis, sleep eluded Clark Kent. After tossing and turning for what seemed like hours, he finally got up and walked out onto the balcony. As he stared up into the moonless night, Steve Perry's voice echoed from the stereo.
"Oh, I'm missing you The hurt on your heart Through your eyes it shows The past can't relive what we both know Still, I remember things I never meant Memories surround me Won't let me forget
I was so wrong The secret's not worth keeping I had no faith that you would still believe Now, my heart's in your keeping Here I am, missing you
Missing you Feeling the dark stares from my wall Your eyes in your picture won't let me go If I could remember how you felt the pain The king of pretenders alone in shame
I was so wrong
The secret's not worth keeping I had no faith that you would still believe Now, my heart's in your keeping Here I am, missing you…" ***
The next day at work found Clark doing just what it took to get through the day. He did his best to stay busy. Try as he might, he couldn't resist an occasional glance at Lois' empty desk. Not even Perry's favorite Elvis story could lift Clark out of his doldrums.
It had been a fairly slow news day until Jimmy ran through the news room with news hot off the wire. There had been a jailbreak at the penitentiary. "Anybody we know?" Clark asked.
"I'll say. It's Lex Luthor!" Clark reeled at the news. He knew he had to find Lois now.
Lucy Lane was hard at work studying for her chemistry final when she felt wind rushing through her dorm room. She looked up to see Superman at her window. Gazing up into his finely chiseled face, she knew now why Lois used to get weak in the knees around this guy. "Superman? What brings you here?"
"Lucy, I need your help. Lois could be in danger."
"Again?" That Lois is always getting herself in trouble, thought Lucy. "What has she done now?"
"I don't have time to go into detail, but Lex Luthor has broken out of prison and he may be looking for Lois. Can you tell me where she is?"
Lucy was starting to worry. Luthor was no ordinary adversary. He was so obsessed with Lois, it was scary. Reluctantly, she told Superman where Lois was staying. Little did she know her dorm room had been bugged.
At David's insistence, Lois agreed to sing at a few of the performances at the inn. A case of nerves was settling in as Lois sat at the vanity table in her dressing room. I must be crazy to do this, she thought. Outside of her impromptu duet with David the day before, she hadn't sung publicly since she sang "I've Got A Crush On You" at Toni Taylor's club. "And I ended up in the dumpster that night, thanks to Clark," she thought out loud.
The knock at her dressing room door, made her jump. It was one of the stage hands telling her she was wanted on the phone. Except for Lucy, no one knew she was here. Thankfully, it *was* Lucy, but the news was not good.
"You told him what?" Lois demanded.
"I told Superman where you were staying. You told me not to tell Clark where you were. You didn't say anything about Superman."
"Oh Lucy. Don't you know telling one is as good as telling the other?"
"Lois, I'm sorry."
Lois softened. No use in blaming Lucy for doing what she thought was right. "It's okay." Lois noticed the stage hand signaling she had five minutes before her performance. "Look, I've got to go. I'll talk to you soon."
Suddenly, Lucy remembered Lex. "Lois, wait!" But it was too late. Lois had already hung up. Lucy signed. "I guess I shouldn't worry. Superman will take care of her. He always does."
Lois wasted no time in peering out at the audience. Just as she suspected, Clark was sitting in the crowd. To her dismay, David was sitting there talking with him.
When David walked backstage, Lois grabbed his arm. "David, you know, I've been thinking. Maybe I shouldn't sing tonight after all."
David checked his tie in a mirror off stage. "Are you kidding? You sounded great in rehearsal. Besides, there's someone waiting for you in the audience."
"I know", Lois said morosely.
"This wouldn't be 'that special someone', would it?"
Lois nodded quietly.
"Well, from what I can tell, he's crazy about you. Look, you guys are miles from Metropolis. Whatever secret Clark is carrying is safe here and so are the two of you. Now, I want you to go out there and knock his socks off. Okay?"
Lois stopped short of a salute. "Yes, sir." That's what Lois loved about David, the way he took control. She could remember when he was both a father figure *and* a lover. She was glad to have his strength to draw on now.
The audience settled as David strode out onto the stage to take the microphone. "One night, not so long ago, I found out at the last minute I was short a female vocalist. I was backstage making plans to cancel the show, when this feisty girl comes up from waiting tables and took control of the microphone. She won my undying gratitude as she made the audience her very own.
These days, she's working the same magic with her words as one of the top investigative reporters at The Daily Planet in Metropolis. Tonight, she's here to bail me out once more. Please give a warm welcome to the lovely Miss Lois Lane!"
As David handed the microphone to Lois, he winked and said, "Knock 'em dead, Brown Eyes." Lois stepped into the spotlight and did her best not to focus on Clark, who was sitting in the corner, now joined by Hannah. Instead, she focused on the song she was singing.
"For all I was blessed with in this life There was an emptiness in me I was imprisoned by the power of gold With one kind touch you set me free Let the world stop turning Let the sun stop burning Let them tell me love's not worth going through If it all falls apart I will know deep in my heart The only dream that mattered had come true In this life I was loved by you"
Lois stole Clark's heart away. Singing up on that stage, she looked like an angel. And yes, she was wearing burgundy. Her dress, which looked as if it were made only for Lois, left few curves to the imagination. The sleeves were sheer and served to enhance her arms as she raised them gracefully. Folds of taffeta fell from her waist down her right leg to the floor, and were capped off by two taffeta roses.
"For every mountain I have climbed Every raging river crossed You were the treasure that I longed to find Without your love I would be lost"
Lois cast a quick, nervous glance Clark's way.
"I know that I won't live forever But forever I'll be loving you"
"You know, my dad and Lois used to be 'involved'," Hannah rolled her big eyes behind her glasses. "There's a picture of them together over the bar."
Clark lowered his glasses and used his super vision to focus on a candid shot of Lois and David in an embrace. She couldn't have been much over eighteen or nineteen years old. Her hair was much longer, with curls cascading around her face. But one thing hadn't changed. Those luminous brown eyes.
"Do you think Lois is pretty?" Hannah asked Clark, who smiled at her question.
"I think she's beautiful."
On stage, Lois was having a difficult time avoiding Clark's gaze. Clark, please know this is for you, she thought as she repeated the chorus.
"If it all falls apart I will know deep in my heart The only dream that mattered had come true In this life I was loved by you"
With the last chord, the crowd applauded appreciatively. Lois graciously took her bows, thankful the audience couldn't see the tears she was fighting back. Exiting the stage, she didn't expect Clark to be waiting at her dressing room door.
"Clark, what are you doing here?"
"Looking for my partner."
Lois started to fidget. "Didn't you get my e-mail?"
"I think we need to have a talk."
"Can I at least change first?" Clark nodded and leaned back against the wall as Lois closed the dressing room door behind her. She wasted no time in changing into jeans and a denim shirt. She almost opened the door when a sudden urge to run came over her. With that, Lois opened a window and crawled out.
In the hallway, Clark was becoming impatient. With his x-ray vision, he could look through Lois' door to see her crawling out the window. "Lois!" he groaned.
Lois had no idea where she was going and frankly, she didn't care. She just wanted to get away from everything. Clark, Superman and the fact that the two men were one and the same. Just as she made it to the lakeside, Clark caught up with her.
Lois knew better than to try to run, but she did it anyway. She fought Clark as he grabbed her arm and spun her around to face him. "Let me go!" she cried.
"Not until you tell me what is going on."
"Forget it, Clark. Just go back to Metropolis, okay?"
"What is it, Lois? Is Lambert the reason you're here? Was that song for him? Just who is he to you anyway?"
"He's a friend, Clark. A port in a storm." She swallowed hard. "And he's one man who never broke my heart. But he's not the reason I'm here. You are."
"Why? What did I do?"
Lois fought the tears forming in her eyes. "It's not what you did. It's who you are." Clark's heart filled with dread. "I know the truth. I know you're Superman!"
"I didn't want you to find out, not like this." When Clark reached to smooth back a strand of hair from Lois' face, she jerked her head away from him.
The anger Lois had pushed aside when she left Metropolis boiled to the surface. "When *were* you going to tell me, Clark? The first time you made love to me? I can't believe what a fool I've been! Some investigative reporter I turned out to be. I can hear the Kerth committee now." She held her hand up to her mouth and ear as if talking on the phone. "Hello, Miss Lane? About those awards we gave you. We're taking them back, since it appears you wouldn't know a newsworthy story if it rose up and bit you on the butt!"
"Is that all this is to you, Lois? A newsworthy story?"
"If it were, do you think I would have left my byline in Metropolis?"
Clark absently kicked a stone and sent it shooting into the night sky. "I'm sorry. I had to make sure how you felt before I could say anything. When I first came to Metropolis, you didn't want anything to do with me."
"That's not true."
"Oh, really? The phrase 'hack from Nowheresville' comes to mind."
"It was a term of endearment", Lois sniffed.
"Uh-huh. When Superman came on the scene, you were so caught up in him, you wouldn't give me a second glance. But I was willing to wait it out until you saw me for who I really am, Clark Kent. Face it, Lois. I could have taken advantage of your attraction to Superman a number of times, but I never did, did I?" When she was slow to answer, he tilted her chin up to him. "Did I?"
She shook her head and whispered, "No."
"I wanted to tell you. I really did. But telling you the truth meant more than just confiding in you. It meant placing you in danger. Do you have any idea how it felt for me to find those Intergang thugs in your apartment? I don't think I could stand it if anything happened to you."
"That's why I had to leave Metropolis, Clark. If Super… *you* hadn't come when you did, I would have told those men everything I knew, or thought I knew. Do you realize what would happen if word got out that Superman was living and working among the citizens of Metropolis? I can't be responsible for placing you at risk."
Clark leaned close to cradle her face with his hand. "You're worth the risk to me." This time, Lois let him stroke her hair. "Come back to Metropolis with me and we'll fight the crime together."
"I don't know. This is all happening so fast. I need time to think."
"I think I can give you some incentive," Clark smiled as he bent to kiss her. It was a soul-satisfying kiss that left Lois breathless. "You know, Lambert takes credit for teaching you how to kiss. My compliments."
"That's not all he taught me." Lois smiled slyly. "Why don't we meet here tomorrow night after the show and talk some more?"
As Clark watched Lois stroll back to the inn, he realized he'd forgot to tell Lois about Luthor's escape. It could wait. For now, Lois was safe and he wasn't about to let anything happen to her. Clark couldn't help but be grateful that Lex knew nothing of this place.
Oh, but he DID know.
At safe distance, Lex was fighting a wave of nausea. Seeing Kent kiss *his* Lois that way was more than he could stand. He was kicking himself for not finding them sooner. He arrived just in time to hear their plans to meet the next evening. For now, that would have to do.
"Lois knows," admitted Clark as he talked to his parents in the Kents' farmhouse kitchen. Martha and Jonathan exchanged glances.
"So you decided to tell her about Superman," Martha said as she placed a cool glass of buttermilk before Clark.
"I didn't have a chance. Thanks to the kryptonite at her apartment, she figured it out on her own."
Jonathan asked, "How did she react?"
Clark sipped the buttermilk absently. "She's hurt. I definitely have some fences to mend if we're going to stay together. I think she feels I violated her trust by not telling her the truth about Superman. Frankly, I can't blame her."
Martha joined Clark and Jonathan at the table. "I'm sure she'll forgive you once she's had time to think it over."
Clark twirled the now empty glass in his hand. "I wish I could believe that, Mom. I wish I could say my motives in not telling her were totally selfless. Things got to where I felt like I was competing against myself for her attention." Clark moved to the sink to rinse his glass. "Then, of course, I'm worried about her safety. Especially after the attack by Intergang. There have been so many times her life has been put on the line because of her relationship with Superman."
Jonathan patted Clark on the shoulder. "Don't forget the times she's been saved because of it too."
Clark arrived back at the inn just in time to meet with Lois. He was so grateful for parents like Jonathan and Martha. They were more than just parents. So often, they were his confidants and he was thankful for their advice as well as their love.
As he entered the lobby, Clark smiled to see Hannah sitting behind the desk. She obviously was relishing her role as desk clerk as she pulled her glasses to the end of her nose and peered over them at Clark. "May I help you?"
"Yes ma'am. Do I have any messages, Miss Lambert?"
"I'll check. What was your name again?"
Clark leaned on the desk. "Kent. Clark Kent."
"How do you spell that?"
A rather stern voice spoke from the office. "Hannah."
"Okay," she sniffed. She pushed her glasses up on her nose and handed Clark one message.
Clark smile quickly faded as he began to read the message which said, "Kent— Don't bother going to the lake to meet Lois. She won't be there. She's with me. If you ever want to see her alive again, have Superman come to the old smelting plant on Northcross Road. Tell him to come alone. Luthor."
David walked out of the office and saw the grave look cross Clark's face. "Clark, what is it?"
"I think Lois is in trouble. Hannah, who gave you this note?"
Hannah shrugged. "Some bald guy."
"Shouldn't we call the police?" David asked.
"No! I mean, I think I can handle this." Clark ran out of the lobby.
Lois woke with a start to find Lex leaning over her. "Lex? What are you doing out of jail?"
"I guess you and Kent were too busy arguing last night for him to tell you. It seems Intergang found their own people too inept to handle Superman, so they called in an expert with a personal stake." Lois recoiled as Lex reached to caress her cheek.
"What do you mean by 'handling' Superman?"
Lex rose and began to pace around the cramped room. "Simple, my darling. Intergang has graciously offered me their resources and my freedom in exchange for ridding the world of that Kryptonian menace."
Lois scrambled to her feet. "What are you going to do?"
Lex relished the opportunity to display his genius. "It's only a matter of time before Superman comes to rescue you, as he always does. When he comes, he'll be able to see you through that panel." Lex indicated a Plexiglas panel in the doorway. "The closer he moves to you, the more kryptonite he will be exposed to. The walls in the next room have been impregnated by it."
"He'll see it and come another way."
"Not if they're shielded by lead." To Lois' dismay, Lex pressed a button on a remote control and lead liners slammed down over the kryptonite-filled walls. "I must admit the idea of using a smelting plant was sheer inspiration."
Lois knew time was of the essence. If she were going to protect Clark, she'd have to try to reason with Luthor. "Lex, you really don't have to do this. If it's me you want, we can go away together."
If only she meant it, thought Lex. "It's a tempting offer, Lois. But unfortunately, it's too little too late. You've already had your chance." Lex smiled wickedly. "You know, it's like killing two birds with one stone. Of course, it helps if the stone is kryptonite."
Lois rushed forward as Lex stepped across the threshold. "I'm begging you, please don't do this!" But Lois' pleas fell on deaf ears as the Plexiglas panel fell shut behind him. Lex Luthor was a man on a mission. A mission which would land him a place in infamy.
Clark wasted no time in arriving at the smelting plant as Superman. He burst through the front doors in a blast of speed.
The rush of wind extinguished the match Lex was using to light the finest of Cuban cigars, compliments of Intergang, of course. "Prompt as always, Superman."
"What have you done with Lois?"
"She's waiting for you in the next room, provided you can save her in time." With that, Lex pressed a button on his remote control and the lead liners covering the kryptonite began to rise. Lois panicked as she looked up to see gas pouring from the vents overhead. Clark's heart began to race when he saw Lois covering her nose and mouth as she tried to escape the noxious fumes.
Clark rushed into the room standing between him and Lois, only to realize too late the danger that awaited him. Instantly, the kryptonite-laced walls affected him, making him feel as if time were moving in slow motion. He would have understood Lois' warning that this was a trap, if only he could have heard her above the ringing in his ears. With every step, he grew increasingly weak until he almost reached the doorway.
By the time Clark made it to the Plexiglas panel, his breathing was labored. It was as if he could feel the very life being sucked from him. He fell to his knees and tried to raise the panel. Lois was on the other side, doing likewise. When they failed to lift the panel, Lois looked at Clark in desperation. The gas was quickly filling the chamber and she started coughing violently. Clark did his best to use his heat vision to bore through the panel, but to no avail. The kryptonite was proving too powerful.
To Lois' horror, Clark collapsed with one hand clutching his chest and the other hand touching the Plexiglas. Lois pounded at the panel as she gasped for oxygen. With her last conscious breath, she fell to the floor and whispered, "Don't… let… him… win…" Before the darkness engulfed her, she reached to press her hand to the Plexiglas. A relatively thin sheet of plastic separated Lois and Clark, but at that moment, it might as well have been miles.
Lex bristled at the sight of Lois and Superman's hands touching against the Plexiglas. Even Luthor's cold heart quivered at the thought of Lois dying by his own hand, but alas, it had to be.
Strolling out into the sunlight, Luthor breathed deep. He took time to finally light that wonderful Cuban he'd been craving. He punched a number into a cellular phone and said, "It's done."
Within minutes, an Intergang helicopter was there to pick him up. Stepping up into the helicopter, Luthor regarded the remote one last time. "I won't be needing this anymore." He tossed it out as the helicopter became airborne.
The remote fell through the air and struck a rock. This caused the liners inside the smelting plant to slam shut over the kryptonite and the panel between Lois and Clark to rise.
Once the immediate threat of kryptonite was gone, Clark began to regain consciousness. Approximately ten minutes had passed since Luthor had made his escape. Clark became aware of something touching his arm and jumped when he realized it was Lois' hand.
As he raised up to check on Lois, his worst fears came true. Her face was tinged with blue and she wasn't breathing. Gas fumes still hung heavy in the air. Clark did his best to inhale the gas to clear the air for Lois, but the kryptonite had weakened him so all he could do was cough and gasp.
He had no choice but to get Lois outside. Summoning every ounce of strength he had left, he bent to pick her up. Usually, Lois was light as a feather in Clark's strong arms, but because the kryptonite had sapped so much of his strength, lifting her was proving a daunting task. Realizing time was of the essence, Clark settled for lifting Lois' upper body and dragging her out of the plant.
Placing her on the ground, Clark searched in vain for a heartbeat but found none. He tilted Lois' head back and began CPR, begging God to save her while he performed the compressions. "I can't lose her now. Not like this." Clark stopped long enough to see if she was responding to the CPR, but there still was no pulse. "Come back to me, Lois. I'm not giving you up! Do you hear me?"
(Elvis turned to Lois. "This is where you came in, Miss Lane."
"It never fails. Every time I find someone to love me, something always happens."
"You've been shown these things because you have to make a choice."
"What kind of choice?"
"This is the Point Of No Return. Once you pass through those gates, there is no going back. But you've been granted a second chance, because you died before your appointed time."
Lois looked at Elvis with earnest. "You mean, I don't have to stay?"
Elvis shook his head. "Not many of us get that opportunity. I sure didn't."
Lois looked around the outskirts of Heaven once more. "I have to admit, this is the scoop of a lifetime." She moved back to the screen where she watched Clark fight to save her. "But it wouldn't be Heaven without Clark. Please, I'd like to go back."
She looked back at the screen to see Clark desperately continuing the CPR. The tears streaming down his face matched her own.
With that, the tunnel became visible once again. As Lois walked into the swirling clouds, Elvis said, "Oh, Miss Lane!"
Lois turned back in time to catch a scarf as it sailed through the air. "Tell Perry Elvis says, 'Hi'."
Lois smiled and wrapped the scarf around her neck. "Will do." She took a deep breath and walked into the tunnel.)
Clark was beginning to lose hope that Lois would ever come back to him. As he continued the compressions on her chest, he spoke intently to a God he was beginning to wonder existed. "Please. Bring her back to me. Take my powers if you want. What good are they anyway, if I can't save her?"
He bent once more to blow air into her lungs and pleaded once more, this time with Lois. "Please don't leave me. Not now. Not like this!"
Suddenly, Lois started to cough and gasp for air. Clark felt his knees go weak with gratitude as he drew her up into his arms. Her eyes opened slowly and she whispered, "I knew you wouldn't let him win."
"Oh, Lois." Clark and Lois held each other close and wept, realizing what a close call this had been.
Back at the inn, Clark strode across the lobby and bounded up the stairs to Lois' room, where David was waiting outside. "The doctor's in with her now," David said.
In a few moments, Dr. Matthews stepped outside. Smiling at David, he said, "She's going to be okay, but she needs rest tonight. I've given her something to help her sleep. I'll be back by in the morning to check on her."
"Thanks, Ralph. I'll see you out."
"Is it all right if I see her?" Clark asked.
"Sure. But make it short. The medicine is already taking effect."
Clark found Lois resting quietly against her pillow. He couldn't help but remember the last time he saw her sleeping like this, when Intergang had drugged her in her apartment. Moving quietly, he sat down by her bed.
Lois stretched and smiled. "Hi there."
Clark stroked her hair. "How do you feel?"
"Like I'm mayor of La-La Land. Dr. Matthews says I can leave in the morning." She reached for Clark's hand. "Which means we can go home."
"Lois, we have to talk." Clark stood and walked away from her bed. "I'm not going back to Metropolis."
Lois struggled to sit up. "What? Why not?"
"I'm responsible for what happened to you today. Luthor is still on the loose and who knows what he'll try to do when he finds out he didn't succeed in killing us. I can't put you at that kind of risk."
Lois couldn't believe what she was hearing. "You're worth the risk to me."
Clark was at the breaking point. "You could have died out there today. In fact, you *did*!"
Lois' eyelids were getting heavy. "But I came back to be with you!"
"Well, you came back for the wrong reasons. Part of me died with you and I can't bear to go through that again."
"What are you going to do? Where are you going to go?"
This was proving even harder than he expected. "I don't know, Lois. Just away from Metropolis, Mom , Dad…"
Lois threw back the covers and stood up. She had to stop him before the medicine won. "Wherever it is, I'll go with you," she offered.
Clark was firm. "No. Metropolis needs you."
"It needs all three of us. You, me and Superman. Come back with me, Clark and we'll fight criminals like Luthor and Church together." She hadn't looked this earnest since the time she told Superman she loved Clark.
Clark reached out to touch her cheek. "Goodbye, Lois." He opened her door and rushed down the stairs toward the lobby passing David on the way out.
Lois followed him out to the stairs. "Clark! Don't leave! Please!" She wasn't prepared for the wave of dizziness that came over her. The medicine was hitting her full force now. Clark would have had to use his superspeed to reach her in time. Thankfully, David was walking up the stairs and caught her before she fell. Clark looked up to the landing to see David carry Lois back to her room. Sadly, he turned and slipped out of the lobby.
The following evening, Lois sang at the inn one last time. David had convinced her it would be good therapy. She allowed herself to get lost in the love songs she sang. After the crowd had cleared out, David found Lois alone in the dark, sitting at one of the tables.
She smiled sadly and said, "I guess I'll be leaving tomorrow."
David took a seat by her and reached for her hand. "You know you don't have to go."
"Yes I do. Otherwise, you'll never get someone in here who actually sings for a living. Besides, Perry considers a long weekend an extended leave of absence."
Clark sat on the steps of his parents' farmhouse, talking to Martha and Jonathan. "I can't tell you how it felt, holding her lifeless body in my arms."
Martha sympathized. "I know something of what you're going through. When Jonathan had his heart attack last year, I wondered if I'd ever see him again."
"But I came back to be with you," Jonathan patted Martha's arm.
"That's exactly what Lois said, Dad."
"Clark, do you really think Lois is safe just because you're out of her life?" Martha asked.
"She's right, son. Luthor doesn't just have a score to settle with you. He's got one to settle with Lois, too."
"I think I'll stay in here for a while, if that's okay."
"Stay as long as you like. Just lock up when you leave."
Lois looked up to see David walking away. "David. Thank you for being so good to me. Past *and* present tense."
David smiled and winked at Lois. He turned and strolled out of the lounge. Lois stood and made her way around the tables. She was lost in her thoughts when a song began to play from the jukebox in the corner.
She turned to see Clark's glasses resting on her table. Clark was standing by the table, carrying a beautiful red rose straight from Martha's garden. Lois moved closer to take him in and reaching for his glasses, she placed them back on his face. Clark smiled broadly. This gesture by Lois confirmed all he needed to know. She was in love with Clark. *He* was the one she wanted, even more than Superman.
Clark offered Lois the rose and led her to the one lone spotlight shining in the room. She eased into his arms and they began to dance together.
David, with Hannah close on his heels, was checking sound equipment backstage when he heard the music begin. As they peered through the curtain at the couple on the dance floor, Hannah asked, "Daddy, do you believe in happy ever after?"
David smiled. "I do when I see Lois and Clark." Although Hannah wanted to stay a little longer, she started to yawn. She didn't even protest when David picked her up in his arms and carried her to her room.
On the dance floor, Clark and Lois' thoughts became one. Even without uttering a word, the two of them reflected on the past two years. How Lois' perspective of Clark had changed from viewing him as a nuisance forced on her by Perry to a friend and confidant and now, a lover and soul mate.
For them both, this represented a lowering of the guard, for they had both learned the meaning of trust and love. The farmboy and cosmopolitan city girl had claimed each other as their own. And in their own way, they had reached the Point Of No Return, finding their heaven on Earth.
"I've walked along a lot of highways Some I wish I could forget And I've burned a lot of bridges But there's not one that I regret 'Cause every path I've taken They all have led me to Knowing my place, my place is with you
I've had my promises forsaken In too many empty words And I'm amazed and so astounded That I won't get what I deserve Whatever lies I've lived for I have finally found the truth I know my place, my place is with you
You are my treasure forever The one dream I've searched for
I've not been given my tomorrows I'm only certain of today And if I don't see another sunrise I will not have to be afraid I know we will be together When all my days are through I know my place, my place is with you
My place is with you"
"This has got to be the most fantastic story I've ever heard!" Perry exclaimed as he read Lois' copy about the hereafter.
"It's true, Chief. Elvis never looked better."
"Were you scared, Lois?" Jimmy asked.
"It's an indescribable feeling. At first, you're too disoriented to be scared, " Lois replied.
Clark smiled and said, "Actually, I think Superman was scared enough for the both of them, wondering if he'd ever see her again." The look he gave Lois said it all.
Perry rose to his feet and handed the copy to Jimmy. "Take this to Stevens and make sure it's in this afternoon's edition." He looked up at his favorite reporting duo. "You two got any plans for the weekend?"
Lois reached for Clark's hand. "We're flying home to see Clark's parents."
Perry flashed a big grin. "Taking you to see Mom and Dad, is he?"
"Yeah, we plan on racking up those frequent flyer miles," Lois smiled and winked at Clark.
"In that case, I'm glad you're back to do just that."
On their way out the door, Lois stopped and said, "I almost forgot!" She reached into her pocket and drew out a scarf. Tossing it to Perry, she told him, "Elvis says, 'hi'."
Perry and Jimmy exchanged dumbfounded looks.
Later that day, Martha Kent called out to her husband. "Jonathan! The kids are here!" She rushed out onto her porch to greet Lois and Clark as they landed on the front lawn. Both Martha and Jonathan welcomed them with open arms. For the first time, Lois felt at home. After all, this was her first trip to Kansas after learning the truth about Superman. She found herself viewing Smallville with a whole new perspective now.
Martha couldn't help but notice Lois looked a little green. "Honey, are you feeling okay?"
Clark intervened on Lois' behalf. "Mom, have you got anything for motion sickness? We hit some turbulence over Cleveland."
"Oh, sure. Come on in, Lois. We'll fix you right up."
"I told Clark he was going to have to start carrying air-sickness bags in that suit of his," Lois said weakly as her stomach lurched. Clark smiled and held out his cape.
Martha gave Lois something for her queasy stomach and told her to lie down for a while. Lois didn't argue, because like Clark said once, being dead takes a lot out of you.
While she was resting, Clark took the opportunity to run a quick errand out of the country. When he returned, he busied himself in his childhood treehouse, the Fortress of Solitude.
Later, he found Lois in the kitchen, drying dishes for Martha. Lois smiled and kissed him as he wrapped his arms around her. "Hi there. Where have you been?"
Clark resorted to evasive answers, which Lois had hoped she would never hear again, now that she knew the truth. "As long as you don't tell me your cheese of the month shipment just came in…" Lois teased.
Martha's jaw dropped. "Did he really tell you that?"
"That was one of his best!" She looked up at Clark sincerely and said, "You know you can tell me anything now."
"All things will be revealed tonight. I promise."
A sudden thought struck Martha. "Which reminds me, Jonathan and I are spending the night with my sister, Thelma."
Jonathan looked up from the farm report he was reading. "We are?"
Martha looked at him directly. "We *are*." She turned back to Clark and Lois. "She hasn't been the same since Frank died. Besides, it will give you two a chance to talk, among other things."
She smiled and raised her eyebrows at her son, who stammered and said, "Mom!"
Lois seemed pleased that Clark was vulnerable to some things, like his mother's teasing.
Later that evening, Clark took Lois out to the Fortress of Solitude. "So this is your treehouse. I can just picture you playing here as a little boy."
"I broke my arm when I was four, falling out of this very tree."
"I never knew that about you."
Clark cradled Lois' face in his hand. "After tonight, there's nothing you won't know about me." With that, he levitated them to the treehouse doorway.
Once inside the "fortress", Lois marveled. Clark had placed an old quilt on the floor for them to enjoy a candlelight picnic supper, supplied by Martha before she left.
While they polished off the contents of the picnic basket, Lois relished stories about Clark growing up there in Smallville. Tales which would have bored her to tears when they first met, entertained her now. What she would have given to have a childhood like his, in a home filled with love. Now through Clark's memories, she could.
Later, Clark opened a small wooden chest to reveal the globe which he almost lost to Luthor. "Remember what I said about all things being revealed tonight?"
"Clark, I'd all but forgotten the globe."
"Do you know why this is so precious to me? It holds answers to where I came from. It shows my birth parents. And it tells what happened to the people I left behind when they sent me to Earth." The globe began to glow as he lifted it gently from the box. A holographic image of Jor-El and Lara formed in front of Clark and Lois.
Jor-El wove a tale of imminent destruction of the planet Krypton. Lara lovingly placed her son inside the spaceship which would guide him to his new home and family. Lois watched speechless as these events unfolded before her.
As the images ceased, Lois leaned back against Clark and sighed. "Jor-El and Lara must have loved you very much to entrust you to the Earth."
"I'm so grateful for the globe. It's my one link with my past and while it's answered a lot of questions, it's certainly created others. I had to show you this, Lois, because if you're going to be part of my future, you need to know about my past."
Lois hesitated. "Part of your future?"
Clark started to answer but the globe began to glow again. "Lois, put your hands on the globe. Let's see what happens."
With that, he held the globe before her and as she lightly put her hands over his own to touch the globe, Lara appeared. This time, she was alone with the infant, Kal-El. She smiled and cooed at the playful baby. Clark watched intently as this was a revelation he had yet to see.
Lara looked directly at them and then back at the baby in her arms. "Time grows short, my little one. Soon you'll be winging your way to a new world. As we entrust you to the heavens, there's so much I wish for you: a family who loves you as much as Jor-El and I do, parents who'll lead you and help you grow into a man of principle and character and a society who will welcome you and appreciate your abilities. But more than anything, Kal, I wish you someone to love and be loved by. As strong as you'll be, the right mate will make you stronger." Looking over Lois' shoulder, Clark nodded in silent agreement. Lara continued, "I'm trusting destiny to lead you to your life partner and a love stronger than all the forces in the universe to keep you together."
As she moved to look longingly at the Earth magnified on a screen on the wall, Lara murmured, "I wish you love and joy, my precious one." As she bent to kiss her baby, Clark and Lois could see an explosion shake Krypton. Fear and urgency flashed in Lara's eyes as the image faded with Lara cradling her child close to her heart.
"Something tells me I haven't heard the last from the globe," Clark whispered softly. "I hope someday I'll find out why Krypton exploded the way it did."
"You will. When it's time for you to know." Lois grew reflective as she handed the globe back to Clark. "I just wish Lara could see how all her wishes for you came true. Most of them, anyway."
Clark studied Lois for a moment and then began to reminisce. "You know, Clark Kent will never forget the day he met Lois Lane. He was interviewing with Perry White when she burst into Perry's office like a whirlwind. She barely noticed Kent, but oh, he noticed her."
Lois smiled and joined in on the walk down memory lane. "She had to notice though, when horror of horrors, Perry paired her with this 'farmboy' from Kansas."
"The attraction was immediate, at least on Kent's part. When she told the farmboy not to fall for her, the gauntlet was down, for he could do nothing else. In that moment, he knew why he had to stay inMetropolis."
"For Lois, the journey was much longer. She'd been hurt before and didn't want to be that vulnerable again. But Clark Kent found a way to break through the walls she'd built around her emotions."
"Yes, as Superman," Clark reminded her.
"For a while," Lois agreed. "But Kent bided his time until Lois came to her senses. She never looked back."
"It seemed idyllic until kryptonite forced Clark's hand and in a weakened moment, his secret was revealed. He'd wanted to tell her for so long but never found the right moment."
Lois nodded. "At first, Lois felt betrayed but when Intergang almost forced his secret from her, she had no choice but to put his safety first."
"He eventually caught up with her but before he had a chance to make things right, she was taken from him. He almost lost her that day. Vowing he'd rather give her up than mourn her, he walked away. It was the hardest thing he'd ever done."
"At that point, Lois thought her life was over. After all, what was living without him?"
Clark stroked her cheek. "Clark Kent felt the same way. Thanks to his parents, he realized he would always have to do battle with the Luthors and Churches of this world. And like his birth mother said, Lois made him stronger. That's why he had to ask this." He reached into his pocket and pulled out the most beautiful ring Lois had ever seen. The large diamond was brilliant and fiery, like her. "Lois, will you marry me?"
Without a moment's hesitation, she said, "Yes."
She marveled as he slipped the ring on her finger. "Clark, it's so beautiful! Where on earth did you find it?"
"Well, that's where I found the gold and the diamond."
Lois laughed. "You don't mean you *mined* these."
"I do mean."
"And then, you took them to a jeweler, right?"
"Not exactly. I used my heat vision and…"
"You made this? Clark Kent, you never cease to amaze me."
"Let's hope I never do."
With that, they sealed their engagement with a kiss. Lois smiled at Clark and said, "Love me, Farmboy. I've got a lifetime for it. For you."
Outside, storm clouds were brewing. It was a quick cloudburst, the kind Kansas is famous for. Wind whisked through the treehouse, blowing out the candles Clark had placed around them. But Lois and Clark never noticed. Their passion was taking them to places they'd only dreamed of till now.
Later, when the storm had subsided both inside and outside the treehouse, Clark stood in the doorway. He looked over the yard where after his first day at the Planet, he'd told Jonathan he hoped to meet someone and have a family someday. Now, thanks to Lois, those dreams were closer to becoming a reality.
She stirred from her sleep and came to stand by him, with Superman's cape draped around her. Clark couldn't help but smile.
"I was just thinking the cape looks better on you than me. If anybody got a picture of you wearing that…"
Lois snuggled close to him. "Don't worry, Mr. Kent. You're the only one I want to wear it for."
Clark wrapped his arms around her and gave thanks for this one who finally penetrated his Fortress of Solitude, for she was definitely worth the risk.
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" Ashford/Simpson "Missing You," Perry/Miner "In This Life," Reid/Shamblin "My Place Is With You," Puryear/Thurman