Summary: An evil genius plots to control people's minds with an airborne formula — and he plans to use kryptonite to take Superman out of the picture.
a. Chronologically, this takes place either before "I Now Pronounce You…" or after "Oedipus Wrecks," i.e., Lois and Clark are still happily engaged.
b. Any similarities to "Pheromone, My Lovely" are completely coincidental.)
The fire seemed to be out by the time Superman arrived, ruefully recalling the days when he was truly "faster than a speeding bullet." Now, everything was so much more complicated - by the time he excused himself and accepted Lois' warnings to be careful, he was lucky to be deemed "faster than a rolling snowball."
He approached the fire chief apprehensively. "Chief, anyone hurt?"
Chief McCallum looked puzzled as he replied, "Superman! No, no one hurt - there was actually no fire. Just a lot of smoke. The worst we've got here is water damage and the fact that these apartments are going to smell like a barbecue gone bad for a while. The arson squad is trying to determine what went down."
"Let me know what you come up with," Superman requested, as he started to move away.
"Sure, no problem!" McCallum promised, adding, "Hey - doesn't your friend, Clark Kent, live in this building?"
"Yeah," Superman muttered, climbing the stairs of 344 Clinton Street. "He sure does."
As Lois and Jimmy exited Triangle Systems, Inc., Lois dropped her tape recorder into her purse. "I still don't get it," she mused as Jimmy removed a roll of film from his camera. "Another air filtration system broken into? This is so strange. Nothing taken or damaged."
"Nothing much to shoot, either," Jimmy agreed. "CK didn't miss much - good thing he kept that appointment he had."
"Uh, yeah," Lois agreed quickly, trying to remember exactly what excuse she and Clark had come up with this time. She sometimes felt they should write them down to keep their stories straight.
It was a beautiful day in Metropolis - the kind where it feels like nothing can go wrong, and that's why neither Lois nor Jimmy paid attention to the bicycle messenger creeping up behind them. In fact, they barely noticed him until he grabbed Lois' purse off her arm and pushed her to the ground.
"Hey!" Lois yelled. "Stop, thief!"
Jimmy tried to go after the guy, but he was already blocks away. So instead, he helped a livid Lois to her feet.
"Did you see that," she demanded furiously, if a little shakily. "That guy stole my purse - oh, no my interview tape!"
"Are you OK?" Jimmy wanted to know.
"Fine," Lois muttered, brushing herself off. " Where is Superman when you need him?!"
Clark entered the Daily Planet newsroom looking smudged, and reeking of smoke. Lois was just slamming down the phone in frustration. "Well, excuse me for not being a murder case! You'd think the police would care that — Clark! What happened?"
Clark sank down at his desk. "The fire - it was in my building."
Lois forgot about her troubles for the moment. "Oh, no! Was anyone hurt? Was there much damage?"
Clark sighed. "No one hurt, thank goodness. But there's water everywhere and it smells awful. The police are investigating - I'm going to have to find somewhere to stay for a day or two."
He grinned up hopefully at his fiancee, who smiled and teased, "If you play your cards right, I think I could find room for you!"
They laughed as Jimmy rushed up and said, "Lois, any word from the police?"
"What's going on?" Clark asked.
Lois related the morning's events, hastening to add, "But I'm fine, really."
"I should have been there," Clark protested, taking her in his arms.
Lois sighed. "When you figure out a way to be in two places at once, let me know."
In his laboratory, Dr. Hugh Prince smiled as his assistant, Nelson, sifted through the contents of Lois' purse. "What women carry with them," he murmured as Nelson pulled out a tape recorder, a writing pad and two tubes of lipstick.
"You'd think she'd at least have some gum," Nelson complained as he handed Dr. Prince Lois' wallet. The doctor flipped through the photos, stopping at the one of Superman looking especially brave and strong.
"Ah, Superman," he grinned sardonically. "You will be my final test."
"I still don't understand why you have to test it on Superman," Nelson said, watching Dr. Prince go through the remaining contents of the purse.
"That's because you don't understand very much," Prince snapped, finding what he was looking for - a small bottle of perfume. "If my formula will work on Superman, it will work on anyone. It simply must be modified to fit Superman's special needs." He lifted up a test tube containing barely a teaspoon of a green glowing substance, which he mixed with a small amount of the contents of a large bottle beside it. He then added the compound to the perfume bottle. It dissolved completely. "This," he said, stroking the large bottle lovingly, "is what will make me rich. The formula that makes people suggestible by seizing upon their greatest weaknesses: fears, illnesses. It destroys their defenses and makes them vulnerable to whatever I offer: suggestions… or poisons. Ah," he said, admiring the perfume bottle. "The sweet smell of kryptonite. The longer Superman is exposed to it, the more he'll be affected. And who better to expose him to it than Lois Lane?" He laughed. "The same goes for my potion. The longer I spread it through the air filtration systems and the longer people are exposed to it, the more affected they will be, until I use their weaknesses to control their minds! And once Superman is out of the way, no one can stop me!"
He motioned to a young man in the corner of the room. "Come here." He handed the kid Lois' purse and said, "Now remember…"
"I know what to do!" the kid snapped. "I managed to keep Superman busy while I got my hands on the purse, didn't I? And don't worry - there's no way Lois Lane will recognize me again."
"Of course," Dr. Prince said quickly. "Here," he pulled the cash from Lois' wallet and handed it over. "And I'm sure Ms. Lane will be grateful enough to reward you as well." The kid sniffed and left.
"Well, you told him!" Nelson laughed.
"Lois! Clark! What's going on with the air filtration story?" Perry White strode out of his office. Lois retold her story, adding, "I've mostly reconstructed the interview from memory and anyway, it wasn't much different than the last two. Definite break-ins, nothing stolen or damaged. Very odd."
"Well, keep at it. You'll crack the case. Clark - I heard about your building. You OK?"
"Yeah, Chief, thanks, but I'm not going to be able to go back for a day or two. Lois has very kindly offered to put me up, so…"
"You'll manage," Perry finished. "OK then! Try doing some research on who owns all the companies. Maybe you'll get a lead that way." He went back into his office.
"I tried that," Lois sighed. "Nothing."
"Excuse me, Ms. Lane?" a voice said from behind her. Lois turned to see a kid of about 16 holding a black bag.
"My purse!!" Lois squealed joyfully, grabbing it from him. "Where did you find it?"
"Well," the kid said, looking nervous. "Sometimes I go through the dumpster behind Tony's Pool Hall — just to see what I can find."
Lois plowed through her purse, then dumped the contents onto her desk. "Everything's here!" she exclaimed. "Even my wallet - no cash though."
"Hey - it wasn't me, I swear," the kid said, turning pale.
"Oh - I didn't mean…" Lois began. "Actually, I'd like to give you something, but I'm a little short now for obvious reasons. What's your name?"
"Rocky," the kid said nervously, backing away.
"Well, Rocky," Clark said, reaching into his pocket, but the kid was already out the door. "Poor kid. He seems scared to death."
Lois was carefully inspecting her belongings. "My tape recorder," she murmured happily. "And my Soleil perfume!"
Clark laughed. "I've never known you to be so attached to a fragrance!"
"Are you kidding?" Lois demanded. "Do you have any idea what this stuff costs?!" She smiled coyly. "And besides, you like it."
She held out the bottle for him to smell. Clark sniffed and grinned. "Yeah, it smells like you." Lois dabbed a little behind her ears and on her wrists. She then put a drop on Clark's telephone receiver. "So you won't miss me when I'm not here," she whispered, moving in closer for a kiss. Clark was just beginning to appreciate the idea of not forgetting Lois when they heard Perry approaching.
"Excuse me boys and girls, but do I have a front page story yet?"
"Getting on it right now Chief!" Lois assured him, springing back from Clark and attacking her keyboard with a vengeance. Clark picked up the phone and they didn't speak for quite a while.
When Lois finally looked up, what she saw frightened her. Clark was leaning over his desk, his hands pressed to his temples, looking very pale.
"Clark?" she whispered, moving over to him. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"I don't know," Clark admitted, "but it's getting worse."
Lois touched his head gingerly. "You're burning up! Why didn't you say anything?"
"It just suddenly came on," Clark answered, rubbing his temples. "It's strange - it feels like kryptonite."
Lois tried not to panic. "Let's get out of here," she urged. "Maybe you'll feel better outside."
Clark did indeed look better outside - the fresh air seemed to revive him right away. In fact, he insisted Lois go on ahead to her apartment while he helped the police clear a nearby accident. Lois allowed herself to be convinced, partly because she wanted to believe he was all right, and partly because she hadn't been expecting company and really wanted the opportunity to clean up.
It took her about twenty minutes to straighten her apartment (with the help of some closets that would remain closed), and since Clark hadn't arrived yet, she called for some take-out and decided to create a romantic setting. Some candles, some flowers - and a little perfume in some well- placed areas, like the bed. "You never know," she reasoned, smiling to herself.
Clark arrived about 10 minutes later, looking great and insisting he'd never felt better. "Really, Lois, I'm fine," he tried, but Lois wouldn't hear of it.
"I want you to lie down until the food gets here," she ordered.
Clark sighed. "Is this what I have to look forward to when we're married?" he wanted to know.
"Yes," Lois replied with mock sternness, steering him towards the bedroom.
Clark obediently lay down on the bed and removed his glasses. "Care to join me?" he grinned, putting them on the night stand and patting the quilt next to him.
"Now, that wouldn't be very restful, would it?" Lois pointed out. "I'll wake you when the food gets here." She went back into the living room and began studying her notes on the air-filtration system story. When the food arrived, she paid the delivery guy and set the food down on the table, noting that Clark was awfully quiet for someone who had never felt better. She went in to wake him.
He was sound asleep, but his breathing struck Lois as somehow off. She reached out to touch him, and pulled her hand away in shock He was burning up again and he didn't even move. "Clark?" She shook him gently and then harder. "Clark!" He stirred slightly but did not awaken. Now Lois was genuinely alarmed - Clark's super-hearing usually made him a very light sleeper. She turned to the phone, debating with herself whether to call Dr. Klein at STARLabs, when the phone suddenly rang. She grabbed it. "Hello?"
"Lois? It's Martha Kent, dear. I just tried Clark at the Daily Planet, but they said he might be with you. Is he there?"
Lois' fear gave way to panic. "Oh, Martha, I don't know what to do! He's here, but I think - no, I know- there's something very wrong with him!"
"All right," Martha soothed, motioning to her husband behind her to pick up the extension. "Tell me what's going on."
Lois explained what was happening, adding, "I'm scared. What do you think I should do?"
"I think your original instincts to call Dr. Klein were correct," Jonathan said, nodding to Martha. "And don't worry - we're on our way."
Clark stirred in the bedroom, forcing himself out of the deep sleep he was in. Something was wrong — very wrong, and he had to wake up. With great effort, he opened his eyes and struggled from the bed, stumbling towards the kitchen. Lois had her hand on the phone, but she turned when she heard him. The look on her face told him he looked as awful as he felt.
"Clark," she cried rushing towards him, but before she could reach him, he collapsed onto the floor, his outstretched hand missing the door frame.
"Lois," he murmured, gasping for breath. "Something's wrong… I need…"
"Don't worry," Lois assured him, echoing Jonathan's words as she grabbed the portable phone and this time began to dial. "Dr. Klein," she breathed. "It's Lois Lane. I need your help - it's an emergency. It's Cl - Superman," she caught herself, turning to look at Clark, who was watching her, nodding. "He's very sick - it seems like kryptonite poisoning, but I don't know where it's coming from! No, he's here - in my apartment. Dr. Klein - I don't have to tell you - we have to keep this quiet. Yes, OK. We'll be waiting. Please hurry." She hung up and took Clark's hand. "He's on his way."
"Good," Clark whispered weakly. "But when he gets here, he has to find Superman."
Lois nodded, blinking back tears, and gently began to unbutton Clark's shirt. She smiled sadly. "Somehow, I envisioned we'd do this tonight, only you'd be a little more responsive." Clark attempted to smile, and a few minutes later, the only remaining evidence of him was the pair of glasses he'd left on Lois' bedside table.
Dr. Klein and his assistant arrived moments later and between the three of them, they managed to transport the fallen superhero down the back staircase of Lois' building. Neither of them noticed the pale looking kid watching from the shadows, talking on a cellular phone. "They're taking him out now - yeah, don't worry. He's down for the count."
Lois paced back and forth for what seemed like the millionth time. It was after midnight and she was thoroughly exhausted. She could see Clark through the glass window as Dr. Klein re-examined him, and while his color seemed better, she knew he was not out of the woods yet.
The door suddenly sprung open behind her, and she turned to see the very worried Martha and Jonathan Kent. They attempted to be low-key, but she could see the panic in their faces at the sight of their son lying weakly in the bed.
"How is he?" Martha whispered, putting her arms around Lois who was glad she had thought to leave their names with the guard outside.
"Actually," Lois replied, trying to be positive, "he looks a lot better." The Kents did not seem cheered by this, so she added, "Dr. Klein will be out in a minute."
As if on cue, the doctor emerged from the isolation room, removing his mask and gown as he did.
"Dr. Klein, this Martha and Jonathan Kent - Clark's parents. Since Clark is… away, they came to support me - and Superman - since he and Clark are so close."
"Of course," Dr. Klein nodded distractedly. "Well, Superman's condition is slightly better."
"I knew it!" Lois exclaimed.
Dr. Klein held up a hand. "He's still quite weak, though. He has been heavily exposed to kryptonite, and until we figure out where it's coming from, he must remain in isolation. Now, where was he when the symptoms started?"
"At the Daily Planet," Lois reported. "And later in my apartment, only then it was worse."
"We'll need to check there first," Dr. Klein mused.
"Check?" Jonathan broke in. "How can you 'check' for kryptonite? It's either there or it's not."
"Not if it's invisible to the naked eye," Dr. Klein answered patiently. "Superman and I have recently been working on that." He opened a nearby closet and pulled out what looked like a small spotlight. "This is the kryptonite detector we've come up with. It's just a prototype, mind you, but I think it will serve our purposes. In a darkened room, it will cause any trace of kryptonite to show up as a bright green glow."
He handed the detector to Lois, who looked troubled. "If we find kryptonite, what do we do with it?"
Dr. Klein nodded and reached back into the closet. He produced what looked like a can of air freshener.
"What is that?" Jonathan asked, puzzled.
"It's sort of a 'kryptonite neutralizer'," Dr. Klein explained. "I have been doing a lot of research lately trying to find an antidote for kryptonite." Lois nodded, Clark had mentioned this, but hadn't seemed very encouraged by the results. As if reading her mind, Dr. Klein continued, "I haven't been too successful. Kryptonite in its solid form is simply too dense for any formula I've come up with to have any effect. The only things I've had any success with are airborne or microscopic particles. This formula seems to neutralize them. I haven't really even had much use for it - until now." He handed the can to Lois. "If you spray this wherever the detector indicates traces of kryptonite, it will eliminate any danger." Lois looked uncertain as she examined the can. Dr. Klein admitted, "I'm still testing this. If you come up with any pieces visible without the detector, you'll have to collect them and bring them to me. You'll need to be very thorough."
Lois was hesitant to leave Clark, but Dr. Klein, noticing her reluctance, and stressing the importance of the cleanup, offered to allow one or both of the Kents to stay with him. He accepted their concern for Superman without question, and it was decided that Jonathan would stay while Lois and Martha went to the apartment with Dr. Klein's equipment. With a last look through the glass, Lois followed Martha out the door, the detector clutched tightly in her arms.
As she unlocked her apartment door and held it open for Martha, her heart pounding with trepidation, she looked around as though she expected the kryptonite to jump out at her. "Where do you think it is?" she whispered uneasily, as she absently dropped her keys and purse on the floor.
"There's only one way to find out," Martha replied briskly as she lowered the shades and closed the curtains, blocking out any light from the moon or street lamps. Lois did the same in the bedroom. She turned from the window and picked up Clark's glasses from the night stand, stroking them as though they were her fiance himself.
Martha set up the detector on the kitchen counter so it would shine in both rooms simultaneously. "Ready?" she asked, at last betraying a hint of nervousness.
"Ready," Lois answered from the doorway, glad it was now too dark for Martha to see her trembling.
Martha switched the detector on. The motor began to hum and then the light glowed softly. Both woman gasped. Surrounding them, Lois' apartment took on a greenish tint. Lois gaped in horror at the bed, the pillows upon which Clark had been sleeping. Even the curtains had turned a sickish green.
Martha was rooted in shock at she looked at the telephone, the computer and the couch. They all stared back at her defiantly. She backed away, stumbling over Lois' purse and strewing the contents all over the floor. She bent to move them and was struck by one of the items which glowed brighter than anything in the room. Martha reached for it and was holding it in her hand when Lois whirled in, crying, "Oh, god, it's everywhere! How?!"
Martha turned slowly, the item in her outstretched hand and seemed about to speak, but as she raised her eyes, she froze at the sight of Lois.
"What? What is that?" Lois took it from her and slowly turned the familiar object over in her hands. "This is my perfume bottle, but…" she stopped, the implications hitting her all at once."
"Lois," Martha finally managed.
"But how?" Lois wailed. "How could this happen?"
"Lois," Martha repeated insistently, putting both hands on her future daughter-in-law's shoulders.
"Martha, what-" Lois began to protest and then stopped as Martha turned her around to face the mirror on the wall behind her.
The glow of the kryptonite in the apartment provided enough light to see, but even if it hadn't, Lois would have seen her reflection clearly enough. Because she was glowing. The kryptonite was all over her. It was everywhere - in her hair, on her clothes, on her hands and face. It had come from her - and she had spread it to Clark.
For the rest of her life, Martha knew she would never forget the look on Lois' face or the sound of her anguished cry.
"Lois! Lois, it's been over an hour! Lois, can you hear me?" Martha called again through the bathroom door. After she had gotten Lois calmed from hysterical to merely extremely upset, the devastated young woman had run into the shower where she remained while Martha removed all traces of kryptonite from the apartment using Dr. Klein's solution. It worked like a charm - one spray caused the green traces to disappear after only a few seconds. She turned on the detector one more time to satisfy herself that the only kryptonite remaining was in the perfume bottle which was safely encased in layers of plastic bags. Then she took a deep breath and headed into the bathroom where Lois continued to shower in water so hot Martha could feel the intense heat even before she opened the bathroom door.
"Lois," she said, more firmly this time, "You have to come out of there." Lois did not respond, so Martha, abandoning all sense of propriety, reached inside the shower curtain and shut off the water herself. Lois stood sobbing quietly, her eyes tightly shut as Martha took the spray can and covered her from head to toe with the mist. She then bundled Lois in a robe, wrapped her hair in a towel and gently led her into the bedroom where she sank down on the bed.
"Lois, are you all right?" Martha asked quietly.
Lois looked up at her with red eyes and replied, "If anything happened to him, it would be my fault. How can he ever forgive me? How can I ever forgive myself?"
Martha sat down next to her and began to dry Lois' hair with the towel, all the while dispensing the wisdom for which she was so famous. "First of all," she said firmly, "nothing is going to happen to Clark. I just spoke with Jonathan and he says Clark is much better - he even has some of his powers back. So no more talk about that, okay?" she asked as Lois nodded, wiping her eyes. "Secondly, this is not your fault. Somebody put that kryptonite in the perfume bottle and when you find out who that someone is, you can blame that person."
Lois' reporter instincts finally kicked in. "My purse," she realized, getting up and slowly beginning to dress. "I was mugged and my purse was stolen yesterday—" it seemed like weeks ago — "and then it was returned to me. I thought it was luck, but what if it was planned?" She picked up a hairbrush and turned to face Martha thoughtfully, her hand poised in the air. "Someone set us up - getting Superman away so he wouldn't be able to help me and then planting the kryptonite. But who?…"
Dr. Hugh Prince watched the monitor in his lab, very pleased. "Things are going even better than I'd hoped," he revealed to Nelson. "The levels in each of the three office buildings are reaching the point of no return. After these people spend the day inhaling my potion, they will be under my control forever. And Superman can't do anything about it!" he laughed.
Martha was on the phone with STARLabs again. "Oh, Jonathan, that's wonderful. Yes, we'll be right there."
Lois, meanwhile, couldn't get that kid out of her head. What was his name. Rocky. The kid who "found" her purse in the dumpster behind Tony's Pool Hall. As good a place as any to start. She paused briefly to listen to Martha's conversation and, satisfied of Clark's recovery, she climbed out onto the fire escape and disappeared into the morning light.
"I think someone should take this solution over to the Daily Planet," Martha continued. "No, they don't need the detector - Lois said the perfume was confined to the area of Clark's and her desks. We will come back down to STARLabs, and we'll bring the perfume bottle. We'll see you soon." She hung up the phone, suddenly conscious of an eerie silence in the bedroom. "Lois," she called, but the only response was the curtains fluttering back at her.
Lois approached Tony's Pool Hall and circled around the back of the building. "Always return to the scene of the crime," she smiled grimly as she neared the oft mentioned dumpster. As she drew closer, though, her face darkened and she frowned. The dumpster had what appeared to be a very heavy, sturdy padlock on it. Lois reached out to touch it, her heart pounding. At that moment, the back door of the pool hall opened and a bartender emerged carrying several large garbage bags.
"You looking for something, lady?" he questioned warily, pulling out a key and unlocking the padlock."
"Good morning," Lois smiled, fighting against her exhaustion and growing anxiety in an attempt to be charming. "I was wondering - is this dumpster always locked?"
The guy stared at her as he loaded the trash bags into the bin. "Yeah, Tony started locking it about six months ago to keep the bums and the raccoons out. What's it to you?"
"Just curious," Lois lied. "Do you by any chance know a kid named 'Rocky?' About 16, looks scared of his own shadow?"
The bartender frowned. "Is he in trouble?"
"Oh no," Lois exclaimed, "he returned my purse to me yesterday and I wanted to give him a reward."
The guy tried to hide a grin. " 'Returned' it, huh?" He laughed. "He might be inside - go ahead, take a look." He relocked the dumpster and went back in. Lois headed around the front door of the pool hall and went inside.
It took a few minutes for her eyes to adjust to the dark interior. The place was small - just a bar, a few pool tables and an old jukebox playing in the corner. The smell of stale beer permeated the air. The bartender glanced up and then ignored her. Lois scanned the room, her eyes alighting on just who she was looking for - Rocky, hustling pool in the far corner.
Lois made her way towards him with renewed determination. Rocky looked up and saw her before she reached him. "Ms. Lane," he said, surprised, his face clouding with "fear." "Is something wrong? I swear -"
"Can the Oliver Twist routine," Lois snapped. "You've got some serious explaining to do. Tell me again how you 'found' my purse?"
"I don't understand," Rocky tried, backing away.
"You claimed you found it in the dumpster out back. But the dumpster is locked, pal. Would you like to tell me where you really got my purse from? Or maybe you'd like to tell the police?"
At this, Rocky broke away from her, heading for the door. Lois flew after him, but he was too quick. He was nearly outside before he was stopped in his tracks by an imposing figure who stood with his arms crossed, his red cape billowing around him. "I believe the lady asked you a question," he said formidably. Rocky stared disbelievingly as Superman met Lois' gaze. The look in his eyes made her want to cry, so she turned back to Rocky who was continuing to gape.
"Surprised to see me?" Superman asked the obviously astounded boy. "I think we have some catching up to do - outside." He took hold of Rocky's collar and propelled him through the doorway. Lois followed, her demeanor suddenly quieter.
When they were out in the alley, Superman suddenly grabbed Rocky and pinned him up against the infamous dumpster. "Talk," he demanded. "Who is responsible for stealing Ms. Lane's purse and tampering with the contents?"
Rocky now looked genuinely terrified. "Hey, look, man. It wasn't me! I just did a job for the guy! Just a job, you know?"
"What guy?" Lois asked, her earlier anger returning. "Tell us who it is!"
Rocky looked her up and down. "What's it worth to you?" he sneered.
Superman pushed him harder against the dumpster, uncharacteristically, but understandably, losing patience. "Worth is relative term, Rocky," he warned.
"Fine - the guy's a doctor - a scientist or something. He's got some sicko idea to control people's minds by putting some potion through the air filtration systems in office buildings."
Lois gasped. "Did you say air filtration systems?"
"Who is he?" Superman demanded. "Where is he?"
"He works at Manilla Labs," Rocky revealed. "I can take you there."
"That won't be necessary," Superman replied. "I think you'll be too busy with the police." He exchanged a familiar look with Lois.
"I'll call the police and have them meet you," she volunteered. Superman nodded, scanning the area until he found what he was looking for - a strong chain, which he used to secure Rocky to the dumpster. He then held Lois' gaze for the briefest of moments before flying off.
Dr. Prince continued to watch the monitors, laughing. "A few more minutes, yet, Nelson. Then it will all be mine!"
"Not so fast," a voice declared from the doorway. Dr. Prince and Nelson turned to see Superman entering the room with Lois and the police at his heels. "With Rocky's testimony and the evidence here, nothing will be yours for a long time except a prison cell."
Dr. Prince, shocked at the sight of the alive and healthy superhero, burst out, "It's too late! In ten minutes, three office buildings full of workers will be irreversibly under my control!"
Superman studied the monitors and nearby charts carefully. "If the formula is removed from the air in the next few minutes, there's still a chance," he declared. While the police took Dr. Prince and Nelson into custody, Superman flew through each office building (faster than a speeding bullet), decontaminating each air filtration system, removing the tampered air and replacing it with fresh.
"Great Shades of Elvis," Perry White's voice boomed over the phone. "Mind control!! I knew you and Kent would crack the story. I've got it on my computer now."
"I guess Jimmy's photos will come in handy after all," Lois replied, inwardly giving thanks for modems. While Clark was busy with the police, she had finished the story and sent it over to the Planet without having to explain Clark's absence.
"A fine job - by all of you," Perry continued, glancing out the window. He did not see the unfamiliar maintenance worker going to town with a can of air freshener in the newsroom. "See you in the morning."
Lois hung up the phone and looked around her apartment, marveling at all that had happened in the last two days. Dr. Prince had confessed to everything, as had Nelson and Rocky. Dr. Klein had determined that none of the office workers would suffer any lasting effects. And Perry had his page one story.
Lois sank down on the couch and closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the coolness of the evening. Presently, a familiar breeze fluttered the curtains. Lois opened her eyes knowingly and was already halfway across the room before she heard the knock.
She opened the door and flung herself into Clark's arms. "Hey," he whispered, feeling her tremble. "Take it easy." He moved inside, shutting the door behind him. Lois attempted to calm down as he guided her over to the couch.
"Clark, I'm so sorry," Lois began, but Clark immediately put his finger to her lips.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," he told her fiercely. "In fact, you probably saved my life."
"There wouldn't have been any need to save it in the first place if I had only…"
"No," Clark said strongly. "No. I will not have you blaming yourself for something you had no control over."
Lois threw her arms around him, then remembered the question she wanted to ask him. "How did you know where to find me?"
Clark laughed. "Are you kidding? My mom told me how upset you were about the perfume and how you'd told her about your purse being stolen and then returned - it was easy to figure out you'd gone after Rocky. I know how your mind works, Lois Lane."
Lois sighed. "Your mother was so wonderful. I don't know what I would have done without her. Where are she and your father?"
"At my apartment," Clark admitted. "She's now in a cleaning mode and she's determined to make the place livable! She recruited my dad, too."
Lois giggled. "Poor Jonathan! Maybe we should go help."
"In a minute," Clark said, turning serious again. "I want to make sure you know how I feel about everything that's happened in the last two days. You saved me, Lois. I never thought I'd be in that kind of situation when I needed to depend on someone for help, but I was last night. I'll never forget that you were there for me."
Lois looked at him for a long moment and then got up and went into the bedroom. She returned with Clark's glasses, which she placed gently on his face. "And I always will be."