Calling a Spade, a Spade …

By Glenda M. Hernandez (GMHernan@aol.com ) & Ketsia J. Lerebours

Summary: Cassandra Hathaway, with full magical powers restored, attempts to use Lois to make Clark do her bidding. A sequel to "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best … Medicine."

A Lois & Clark Adventure (A sequel to "Diamonds are a Girl's Best … Medicine")

{Authors' Note: GMHernan: At last, the final chapter of the Cassandra Hathaway saga (phew!). When I first came up with the character of Cassandra, I wanted to see Lois play the hero and fight for her man, but then I realized that L&C's relationship could change and grow as a result of Cassandra's interference. However, the time has come to end the mystery, the tragedy and whams and unlike the PTB, I know to end the arc at number three. ;-) I hope you have enjoyed the previous two stories and that now, you'll enjoy the conclusion. On a personal note, I often heard that writing is a solitary endeavor, but in my case that wasn't totally true. I had many people asking necessary questions, telling me when I was being too dramatic, or too corny, or when I did not dot all my I's and I truly thank them all. Special thanks to my colleague, my fellow nutty FOLC (Ketsia), as you can tell she co-wrote this story with me because I figured that after all the time of giving me advice and telling me how corny I was being (wait a couple of years, Ketsia, corny will be in vogue) that it was her turn to get her hands dirty.<bg> Those of you who have read her previous fan fiction, "I Now Pronounce You Husband and Wife," will understand why she had to be recruited. Besides, it's no secret that my pal has a one track mind. <Hint, hint, hint> So, enjoy the story and as always *all* comments are welcomed. 8-) GMH

JLerebours: Well, many months ago my friend and partner in crime (Glenda) came to me and told me about this character she felt compelled to create, Cassandra Hathaway. Over the next few months I grew to love and hate this character (I don't know who is worse, the person who created her or the one who egged her on <g>). When she asked me to help her conclude Cassandra's story, I couldn't refuse. I had to see how she would put her 'Frankenstein' to bed and I couldn't resist the opportunity to help create a romantic ending. What can I say I'm a sucker for sappy, romantic endings. So, on with the show :-) KJL }

***

It was a beautiful Summer day in the city of Metropolis. The kind of day that would make anyone think that nothing could ever go wrong. A day where the sun shone bright, where birds flew unencumbered and where lovers happily demonstrated their love to the world. Lois Lane and Clark Kent, the Daily Planet's top reporters, sat in an outside cafe enjoying lunch and making beautiful plans for their future. They were completely oblivious to the pair of green angry eyes that watched their every move.

"I feel so-so …" Lois started with a dreamy look in her eyes.

"Happy?" Clark inquired as he reached for her hand. Upon it, her engagement ring reflected the sunlight.

"Yes, but it's more than that." She enclosed her hand on his. "I feel like anything is possible now. I mean, we've been through so much and we've managed to survive it all. And I kind of feel like … Remember in college when you had THAT last final exam? Do you remember the exhilaration you felt? Like after all the work, you were glad to get a break. As if a big weight was lifted? That's it! I feel that we're going to have our break, now."

"I know, me too. And I think we're due for a break." He moved his chair closer to her. "Since, we have one now, don't you think we should make use of it?"

She knew exactly where he was headed. Lois smiled shyly and leaned toward him. "What do you think we should do?" She inquired with a smile in her eyes.

Lois followed his gaze as Clark took a long look at her engagement ring. "Well, I think it's time you got another ring to go with the one you already have." He looked up with a longing look in his eyes.

"Mr. Kent, you read my mind." They leaned toward each other and kissed softly and deeply.

The eyes that silently watched their every movement darken with fury and jealousy.

The couple continued to kiss, unaware of the world around them, unaware of the danger that watched from a dark limousine. Suddenly, Lois broke their kiss. "Tell me when? We could do it now. We could elope? Does that sound desperate? Because I don't want to sound desperate. I mean, if you're not ready yet, I could …"

"Lois, hold on." He told her with an amused smile. "Believe me, I'm more than ready. But, I want our wedding to be memorable. I want to tell the world that you're * my* love. A quick trip to city hall, will not be worthy of you."

Lois brought his hand to her lips and leaned her face against it. "What did I ever do to deserve you? You're everything I've ever wanted. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming."

"You're not dreaming, Lois."

"I know it now." She traced his face with her finger. "But Clark, we've waited so long to finally reach this point. I don't want to wait anymore. I want us to be together as soon as possible." She told him with a slight tremble in her voice.

"What's the matter, Lois?"

"I guess with everything that's happened over the past months, I can't help being afraid that something could ruin it all. Afraid that another big test will come and that this time we won't be able to overcome it."

"Lois, don't you know by now that together we can survive anything? Anyway, I don't think that there'll be any more tests. It's over. We can take our time and plan our wedding, AGAIN, and be happy." He told her in a reassuring tone.

"You're right." She shook her head as if to push her fears behind her. " Still, we won't take too much time, right?" She asked him with a smile that told him that her fears had been allayed.

"No, we won't. I promise." He leaned forward and kissed her gently on the cheek. "We could talk to Perry and ask for a few weeks. We can get things together quickly. I'm sure your mother will be happy to help us …"

"More than happy." She said sarcastically. Clark smiled.

"I could call my folks, tonight. They'll be glad to lend us a hand. Who knows? With everybody working together, we could set it up in about three weeks."

"Three weeks?" She asked with a disappointed look in her eyes.

"What? Too long?"

"At this point, even a day is too long." She paused for a second. "Did that sound desperate again?"

Clark laughed out loud. "No. You're just as eager as I am."

"I guess I could wait three weeks." Lois rolled her eyes.

"Okay, let's make a deal. We talk to Perry today. By the end of the week, we should be on vacation. Then we'll be able to dedicate one whole week to the preparations which should cut it down to two weeks. Is that better?"

"I guess so." She answered in a slightly disappointed tone.

"Don't worry, Lois. Before you know it, we'll be husband and wife."

Lois reached into her briefcase and pulled out her daily planner. Clark looked at her with a questioning look. "Lois, what are you doing?"

She opened her planner and honed in on today's date. "I'm marking the date," She circled the date on her planner while Clark tried to repress his laughter. Suddenly, Lois' eyes opened wide. "Oh no, I can't believe this!"

"What is it?"

"I had a meeting today with Dr. Klein and Professor Filakouris at STAR Labs. I can't believe I forgot. Where's my mind?"

"What was the meeting about?"

"Oh, you know, the break-in at the lab," she paused momentarily and gazed into his eyes, "and about Cassandra's ring …"

"I thought we were done with that?"

"The story is unfinished, Clark. Besides, you know me, I need resolutions in my life. I still have a couple of questions I need answered before I can definitely let go of the issue."

"Lois …"

"I know, I know, I'm a bit obsessive," she gave him a mischievous smile, "but you love me anyway."

He shook his head and grinned. "Yes, I do. God help me, I do. At what time was the meeting?"

"Five hours ago. I have to call them when we get back to the office. I hope they aren't upset. I've already rescheduled two times. Maybe I can convince them to do it tomorrow."

"Speaking of the office, we're late."

"Oh no … How time flies."

"Among other things." Clark stated with a smile as he helped her out of her chair. They smiled knowingly as they started to walk down the street toward the offices of the Daily Planet.

The green eyes watched as they walked happily down the street holding hands. The wrath that burned in them could've lit up the city of Metropolis. "How dare they be happy?" A voice whispered in a menacing tone. "How dare they?" It repeated, anger rising with every word. "Soon." The voice whispered. A simple word but one that carried the promise of revenge.

***

"I still can't believe she just left like that. Man, it's like the earth swallowed her." Jimmy Olsen exclaimed as he sat in Perry White's office discussing the sudden disappearance of Cassandra Hathaway.

"She gave me the news over the phone." Perry explained in a hushed tone.

"Did she tell you why she wanted to quit?"

"She told me something about wanting to start over somewhere else. That was it. I could tell she was not telling me the whole story. I even offered to send her a check for the days she worked but she just refused it."

"Do you think she quit because of Lois?" Jimmy asked.

"Who knows, Jimmy? Truth is, Lois was not very happy with Cassandra here."

"Can we blame her? Cassandra tried to hypnotize Clark and kidnap her. I would've been upset also."

"Funny thing, when she was here, I forgot all about the horrible things she did." Perry added in a reflective tone.

"Yeah, me too. How can we explain that?"

"I don't know but I feel bad. I think I turned my back on Lois. Can't explain why."

"Yeah, I think I did too, Chief. It's strange, I mean, I thought Cassandra was so cool and such a babe but now I can't even remember what I saw in her."

"To tell you the truth, even though I was sad to see her go at first, I have no feelings about it now, either. I don't know Jimmy, between you and me, I think this was just a small stop-over on the road to wherever. "

"Do you think Lois was right, Chief? Do you think Cassandra had not changed?"

"I hope not, son. I really hope not. If Lois was right, perhaps we haven't heard the last of her."

As the words left Perry's mouth, he spotted Lois and Clark standing at his door. Lois' face reflected all the discomfort she felt at even the mention of Cassandra's name. Perry registered this and immediately felt sorry. Jimmy lowered his head in embarrassment.

"What's going on?" She asked as she walked in the office and made herself comfortable on Perry's couch. Clark walked in behind her and leaned against the couch.

"Lois, honey, we were just discussing …" Perry started in an apologetic tone.

"Cassandra?" She asked interrupting Perry's thoughts.

"Why, yes."

"You're sorry she left?" She probed genuinely curious.

"No! Not at all. I mean, I have no feelings either way." Perry told her in a slightly alarmed tone.

"Lois, we don't even miss her." Jimmy added picking up where Perry left off.

Lois and Clark glanced at each other briefly, recognizing that their friends felt bad about everything that happened with Cassandra. "Guys, It's no secret that I didn't like her and that I resented her presence here. I admit I was mad at all the attention you gave her. I guess I can understand why. She's so beautiful and all …"

"Lois c'mon, don't …" Perry interrupted suddenly.

"No, Perry, let me finish," she told him in an authoritative tone. "I never believed that Cassandra changed, I still don't. It hurt when none of you understood this or even wanted to hear it." She looked at all the faces in the office. All of them appeared embarrassed. "Maybe, you blame me for her sudden departure. We all know I was not the most gracious. But, I know in my heart that her leaving was for the best …"

"Lois," Perry started once more, "I—we wanted to apologize. I don't know what happened or where our minds were at. All I know is that you are our friend and as such, you come first. No question."

"Yeah, Lois, you're way cooler than she was." Jimmy added with a smile.

"I feel like I'm competing with her for your affection." She stated simply.

"No way. You gotta understand, honey, we are a team and nobody's gonna come between us. Nobody can. Right people?" Perry asked in a loud commanding tone.

"Right Chief." Jimmy and Clark answered in unison. Lois smiled and shook her head.

Their simple gesture had been like a lifesaver. Even though she knew that Cassandra's departure was necessary, she often wondered if her friends begrudged her. She had seen how taken they had been with Cassandra and in the three weeks since her departure, she couldn't help but wonder if they resented her part in it. Now, as they rallied behind her, apologizing and reasserting their friendship, she had to smile in order to keep from crying and running to each one of them with her arms open.

"I don't know what to say." She stated quietly.

"You don't have to say anything." Perry stood, walked to her and sat beside her. "All you gotta do, is be happy," then he added with a hint of laugher in his voice, "not to mention work your tail off for me."

"I can do that, but …" Lois glanced at Clark. He realized where she was heading.

"… but we have to take a few weeks off." Clark concluded.

"Weeks off? What for?" Perry asked in a concerned tone.

"To plan our wedding." Clark answered as Lois smiled from Perry to Jimmy.

"You guys are going to do it, finally?" Jimmy asked grasping the meaning of Clark's words.

"Yeah, we are." Lois answered simply.

"Blessed blue suede shoes! About time, people!" Perry kissed Lois' cheek and stood up and shook Clark's hand, all the while laughing out loud. "Take all the time you need. You can go today, if you want."

"Thank you, Perry. But, we still have some work to do." Lois explained curtailing some of the excitement.

"Work will always be here, Lois. Your wedding, if you're lucky and I think luck is turning your way, is a once in a lifetime thing." Perry advised as Lois and Clark gazed into each other's eyes.

"We know, Perry. Still, we have one outstanding *thing* to check out and before we go, Lois and I would like to take a shot at it." Clark reasoned and Lois nodded in agreement.

"Kids today, no romance. Fine. Do what you think is best. If you need any help, don't hesitate to ask, now."

"We will." Clark answered with a grateful smile.

"What's this *thing* about?" Perry asked.

"The break-in at STAR Labs remains unsolved, so we figure, we could ask around." Lois answered in a casual tone. Clark looked at her with a questioning look, knowing that she had not told Perry about the second aspect of the case. Knowing that she had not told him about Cassandra's ring. She returned her gaze communicating with her eyes that some things are better left unsaid. He nodded.

"Okay, sure, that's one that should be looked into. When do you want to start your vacation, though?"

"Friday will be our last day." Clark told him.

"Fine with me. I can't tell you how happy I am for you." Perry turned around to where Jimmy was sitting listening attentively to the conversation. "Olsen!"

"Yes, Chief." Startled, Jimmy quickly stood.

"Calm down, boy. I'm not going to eat ya. You were just sitting so quietly there."

"Sorry." Jimmy shrugged his shoulders. "I was just thinking about all the things you guys have been through … And I'm very happy that FINALLY you're going to get together."

Lois and Clark smiled at their young friend. They knew that his words came from the heart and they appreciated them.

"Thanks, Jimmy." Lois told him in a sweet, tender tone. Jimmy blushed.

"Oh, c'mon, you gonna make this old man cry." Perry stated quietly but suddenly his tone changed to the all too familiar commanding roar. "Get moving, people! Settle the STAR Labs deal. The sooner, the better cause I'm starting to get a craving for wedding cake."

They all laughed, enjoying the moment. Their eyes glared brightly at the thought of the happy days to come.

***

Later that night at Lois' apartment, Lois and Clark sat on her couch sipping Chianti and making plans for their impending nuptials.

"I don't know, Clark. Using the same church where I was kidnapped by Lex, doesn't bring about romantic feelings."

"I know what you mean." He sighed and winced as he remembered the marriage to Lois' frog eating clone. "Remember, that was the site of my biggest disappointment."

Lois gave him a sympathetic look. " Mine too. But, where then? The choices are kind of limited."

"Have you considered a wedding in a small chapel, in a small town?"

Lois smiled. "Mmm, let me think. Where could that be? I really have no idea. Could it be in the state of Oklahoma?" Clark smiled, enjoying the little game. "You have to give me another hint."

"Okay, how about, a small town where some time ago a little spaceship fell from the sky?"

"Oh, that's better. I know! Roswell, New Mexico!" She announced with mischievous glee.

"You're being bad." He told her with laughter in his voice.

"Yes, I am," she said with a playful grin. "But, I would *love* to marry you in Smallville."

"You would?"

"How could I not? That's your home and it is a magical place because it gave me you," she told him simply.

He was touched by her comment but he knew in his heart where his home really was, "Lois, home is wherever you are." He whispered.

She eased her way toward him and leaned her head against his powerful chest, "We're quite a pair, you and I…"

"What do you mean?" He whispered as he kissed the top of her head.

"We're hopeless romantics …"

"Is that bad?"

"No, it only goes to show that we were meant for each other."

"I knew that the moment I saw you." He held her tight against him.

"I wish I would've known sooner …" She told him with a hint of regret in her tone.

"You knew."

"Did I?" She looked up at him.

"Yeah, you just needed time to see it clearly." He smiled tenderly at her.

"I guess, I needed a pair of eyeglasses …" Lois joked as she reached for Clark's eyeglasses.

"No, just time." They snuggled closer together. "Now look, we have it all and it's the right time and the right place."

Lois suddenly moved away from him, his face reflected some disappointment. ".. Talking about place and time, we should get back to the wedding." She noticed the disappointed look on his face, "Unless you want to do it later?"

"No, the sooner we get married, the better it'll be."

"How better?" She asked in a sensual tone.

"We best leave that answer for later, otherwise city hall will start to sound pretty darn good." He warned her with a sweet tender smile.

"Oh sure, just when we were getting to the good part." Lois pretended to pout.

Clark chuckled and pulled away from her, "I better call my folks, now. Have to tell them the good news." He stood and started to walk toward her red phone.

"I know they'll be so happy."

"Then, you'll call your parents?"

"Must I?" She asked with a girlish pout.

"Lois …"

"Just kidding. I'm sure my parents will be beside themselves."

Clark smiled, lifted the receiver and dialed the numbers. "Mom? Yeah, hi. I hope I'm not calling too late? You're working on a project?" Lois stood and walked toward him. "That sounds like fun. Where's dad? Tell him not to move that, I'll do it. Yes, Lois is doing great. Mom, we're finally getting married. In two weeks. Yes, we're happy. We want to do it in Smallville." Clark suddenly turned to Lois, "She's definitely happy." He turned his attention back to his mother. "I'm here. I know it's soon but I think we can put it together. Can you help us? Thanks, mom. We'll drop by later this week, okay? Great. Tell dad I'll talk to him later. Bye. Love you."

"I guess itís my turn." Lois took the receiver from him and dialed the numbers to her mother's house. "Dad? What are you doing there? Dinner? Great. I'm fine, how are you? I'm glad. Clark's fine also. Yeah, he's right here. Dad, I'm almost thirty …Never mind. Can I talk to mom? No, I don't like her better than you." Lois rolled her eyes. Clark stood close to her giving her strength. "I love you both the same. Fine, okay, sure. Put mom on, please. Yeah, talk to you later. Love you too." Lois exhaled. "Mom? Yeah, he told me, dinner. It's fine. About time you started to get along. No, I'm not criticizing, it's just that too much anger is not good …okay, mom, sure. Mom, I have news. No, no Pulitzer yet. It's about Clark and … no he didn't leave me." Lois was starting to get exasperated but by a mere touch Clark managed to calm her down. "Mom…We're getting married. Two weeks. No, it's not too soon … That's why I'm calling, we need your help. No, it doesn't have to be a whole production, it's a small wedding, in … Smallville, yes. We like it there. Mom! Do you want to help or not? All right. Okay, call me. Sure, mom. Love you too. Goodbye." Lois exhaled as she hung up the phone.

"Is she happy?" Clark asked cautiously.

"Very. I think I made her evening."

Clark placed his arm on her waist as they walked back to her couch and sat. "At least that's done." He told her.

"I'm glad." Lois glanced at her wristwatch. "Look at the time. We have to be at STAR Labs early in the morning. Dr. Klein and Professor Filakouris are expecting us and I can't miss this meeting. I missed two already."

"Do you want me to pick you up?"

"I would love that."

Clark stood and looked down at Lois as she sat on the couch. "I really hate having to leave."

"I hate that you have to leave."

"I keep telling myself that in just two weeks, we won't have to go through this. It makes me feel a bit better."

"How better?" Lois asked in a seductive tone again.

Clark lowered his head and smiled. "Iíll see you in the morning, Lois." He started to walk toward her door.

"Goodnight, Clark." She told him with a sensuous smile while she stood to follow him. The two kissed at the door before Clark walked away.

As she closed the door behind him, Lois couldn't help thinking how happy she felt, how complete her life was, and that she owed it all to Clark. She leaned back against the closed door. "Finally, nothing will stand in our way, nothing is going to ruin our happiness." She whispered as she closed her eyes and smiled.

***

"Ah, Ms. Lane! Finally see each other again." Professor Filakouris exclaimed as Lois and Clark entered Dr. Klein's office where the Professor had set up camp.

Professor Filakouris was an expert in ancient Greek civilizations and for three weeks he had been studying articles that at one time had been in the possession of Cassandra Hathaway—her ring and her scroll. It was through Cassandra's ancient scroll as deciphered by the Professor, that Lois got to know a bit more about the unique civilization that Cassandra had referred to. A civilization made up of powerful women, who worshipped all things natural and who revered Greek goddesses as much as they revered their chosen queen. Three weeks had been enough time to almost complete the translation of the scroll and now as the Professor welcomed Lois and her companion, he couldn't wait to share it all with her, among other interesting things.

"Ms. Lane, I waited and waited for long time." The Professor told her in a scowling tone.

"Sorry, Professor. I got kind of busy. I'm here now, though."

"Yes. At last." The Professor noticed Lois companion. "Who is young man?"

"Yes, let me introduce you, this is Clark Kent, my partner and fiance."

Clark stretched his hand toward the Professor in greeting. "Nice to meet you, Professor. I heard a lot about your work."

He stared at Clark intensely. "You the one who got hypnotized, yes?"

"I guess you could say that."

"Dr. Klein told you?" Lois asked.

"Yes, we looked at ring and the Dr. Klein explained what it did. He told me Mr. Kent experienced ring's power."

"Actually," Clark started, "I'm not really sure about what happened."

"I remember some things." Lois added.

"What you remember?" The Professor asked while prompting them to sit.

Lois took a deep breath. "When Cassandra tried to hypnotize me, I noticed that her ring was glowing. Somehow I knew that staring at it would be dangerous. I closed my eyes but it was obvious that she wanted me to look at it. When Clark told me about what he remembered, I put it together. I knew that's how she managed to control people. Still, I don't understand specifically how she did it. That's why I asked the Dr. Klein to let you look at it."

"I see. Well, I looked at ring. Something confusing."

"What's confusing, Professor?" Lois asked with a slight tremble in her voice. Clark stared at her with a concern look.

"Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent," the Professor shifted position in his chair and leaned forward so as to get closer to them. "The scroll indicates that ring queen was unique. The band was 24 karat gold and inside band signs for the first letter and last letter of Greek alphabet were carved. Most importantly, between letters, two symbols were also carved. They were a heart and eye. Heart meant passion from alpha to omega and eye meant knowledge, also from alpha to omega." He paused and studied the faces before him. "This according to scroll, see?"

"Okay, so it is a unique ring, full of symbolism," Lois recapped. "But, what are you trying to say?"

"Ms. Lane, ring very old and some things wear off but something not quite right…"

"Is it the same ring?" She asked her face tensing with every word.

The Professor shifted uncomfortably in his chair sensing the importance of the information Lois was requesting. "Ms. Lane, this very confusing, but I do not believe it's the same ring."

"She did it! She switched the ring!" Lois said, her voice full of anger.

"Lois, maybe it's a mistake …" Clark said attempting to be rational.

"Clark, don't you see? Everything fits. The break-in at the lab, Cassandra's return, how everybody acted toward her, and now her apparent disappearance. She had the ring all along. I knew she couldn't be trusted!" She suddenly stood up and started to pace around the cramped office.

"Professor, can you be absolutely certain?" Clark asked with urgency in his tone.

"Mr. Kent, the scroll said so. I looked at ring, is not the same."

"I told you, Clark. She played with us all along. Arrg, I could wring her neck!"

"Calm down, Lois, we don't know …" Clark started seeking to calm an intensely irate Lois.

"We do know, Clark. We know what she's capable of." Lois thought for a minute. "Maybe in this instant she's planning her attack! And we don't even know where she is! "

"Lois, we have to be rational. If in fact she has the ring, we have to find out everything we can about it."

"If in fact she has the ring? How could you have any doubt?"

"Lois, I'm not going to get into a whole argument with you. All I'm saying is that we have to prepare ourselves, in case our suspicions are true."

"You always have to be practical. Can't you get mad? Don't you feel betrayed?"

"Lois, I …"

Clark's thoughts were interrupted by Professor Filakouris, who had been sitting listening to the squabbling couple. "Mr. Kent, Ms. Lane, this you do is not good. I know you're mad but anger not going to help now. This woman, maybe she has ring, yes?"

"I'm sure of it." Lois answered without glancing at Clark.

"Okay, if this woman has ring, then we must know how or why she uses it. Mr. Kent, since you were, how you say, victim? You must remember all you can, yes?"

"I don't know. Everything is foggy." Clark said.

"Try to remember, very important, okay?"

"I'll try." Clark thought for a moment while Lois and the Professor stared at him intently, as if their stares could make him remember. "We had just finished dinner …" Clark started in a soft murmur which grew louder as he recounted his experience. " … And we were sitting on the sofa, ready to start the interview. I remember she was wearing a gown made of gold and she was very attentive."

"I bet she was." Lois commented in a sarcastic tone.

"Ms. Lane, please let him tell." The Professor scowled. Lois shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes.

"She was attentive," Clark continued. "We were going to start the interview when Pathos, her servant I guess, went into her bedroom. When he came out, six women were behind him. They were all dressed in ancient Greek-like gowns. She told me that they were her employees, then told me their names. One was called Penelope, another Eleni, Thera, one Diana and Athena. I can't remember the last one. She introduced them to me and then she sat beside me. Then I heard it. I heard the music, like a million voices humming. Cassandra sat by me and she was talking, then I saw the yellow light …" Clark shook his head at the memory of that event. "Then everything went black that is until, I heard Cassandra's screams and found her and Lois in the balcony."

Lois listened to his every word carefully. She fought back tears as the memory of that evening replayed in her mind. Specifically, how Clark had behaved under Cassandra's influence. She knew that Clark had not been responsible for his actions, however, the memory of his cold vacant eyes and his forceful hands upon her arms remained and Lois knew that it would not be easily forgotten. The Professor's voice, brought her back from that horrible memory.

"Ms. Lane, what happened? Why were you in balcony?"

Lois cleared her throat. "We fought and she fell over the railing. Before that, I tried to get her ring, like I told you, I knew that it was dangerous. She fought me but when she fell, I could only hold on to her ring. I managed to grab hold of her other hand just before the ring slipped off her finger. Next thing I knew, Clark, the * real* Clark, was standing beside me." She glanced at Clark, who smiled tenderly at her. Lois' heart melted.

"I understand." The Professor started. "Obvious ring very powerful. It gives queen power to control. Maybe enhances power given by goddesses. When ring is taken off without the required permission, queen loses all power over victim as well as all knowledge and passion. Mr. Kent, how you feel when you woke up?"

"I felt disoriented and tired for a second but Cassandra's screams put things in focus for me." Clark explained.

"How about the six women, how they feel?"

"Like Clark, they were disoriented but it took them a few hours to wake up and when they did, they didn't remember anything. Other than that, they were fine." Lois answered.

"It's very interesting thing about six women." The Professor stated as a matter-of -fact.

"Why is that, Professor?" Clark inquired, obviously getting involved with the Professor's opinions.

"In scroll, it is stated that queen must have all of worshipped attributes. Ms. Lane knows, but I tell you again. These women worshipped; beauty, nature, birth and death, power, strength, independence, perseverance and courage. All women with queen had to have these qualities. All must be beautiful. Kind of natural beauty-no enhancement. And all must represent some or all of qualities. When queen got group together, she became stronger, more powerful." The Professor thought for a moment then announced loudly, "That's it! Ring is very powerful, can be use to control but queen needs followers, she needs these women to help her. It's like her family. Mr. Kent, you mentioned music, you know where music came from?"

"No. I wanted to see where it came from but somehow I couldn't move."

"No matter. I have idea of where it came from. This very interesting. To control, queen had to have loyal followers." Lois and Clark listened closely, in their faces splashes of recognition and understanding appeared.

"Lois told me that Cassandra wanted her to join her family." Clark said.

"She told me she admired my Perseverance and Independence. What a joke!"

"If I understand this woman, she felt crazy passion for Mr. Kent and she wanted Ms. Lane to complete her family circle." The Professor paused momentarily and collected his thoughts. "I don't doubt this woman can be dangerous."

"Especially now that she has the ring." Lois concluded.

"I have to admit …" Clark whispered. "… I'm having a hard time with this. The last time we saw her, she looked normal. She didn't act like the person you're describing."

"Clark …" Lois started only to be interrupted by the Professor.

"Mr. Kent, maybe woman changed, maybe she's normal. However, if she has ring, anything is possible. You have to beware. She may be very powerful. Remember, she may have goddesses' blessing if she's wearing ring. And perhaps, she has started a new family. That's very, very powerful. Be careful. If she wants you, she would do anything to get you. Remember, she's very passionate."

Clark and Lois stared at each other. Worry and fear were displayed in their eyes.

Lois and Clark left the Professor shortly thereafter. They had agreed, that he would continue his examination of Cassandra's scroll, so as to get a complete picture of her. On the way to the Daily Planet, no words were exchanged. In their minds, they tried to assimilate all the information gathered and tried to come to grip with the possibility that Cassandra may not be totally out of their lives. For Clark, their meeting with Professor Filakouris was like an awakening. For the first time, he understood the threat that Cassandra presented but most importantly, he understood the danger that Lois had placed herself in to save him. For the first time, he doubted Cassandra and her motives and the images of his amiable college friend which he held on to so fiercely, were beginning to fade from his mind. Lois, on the other hand, felt like she had been tricked all over again. Even though she suspected Cassandra immediately upon her return, she still felt like she'd been duped. She thought that if only she could've investigated deeper, if only she would've known about the missing ring earlier, then they wouldn't have this dark cloud looming over their heads.

They entered the offices of the Planet in relative silence and yet they walked briskly, determined to get to the bottom of the Cassandra mystery. Lois walked to Jimmy who was standing by the copy machine.

"Hi, Lois, what's up?" He inquired as he fed the machine papers to be copied.

"I need you to do something for me. It's critical and I need it pronto."

"What do you need?"

"Get me a list of any jewelers within Metropolis or adjacent towns that carry 20 plus karat Canary diamonds."

"Gee, Lois, do you think Clark could afford that kind of wedding ring?" Jimmy joked. Lois gave him an annoyed look. "Sorry. That's all?"

"No, also get a listing of any recent sales of that type of ring, try to get buyer information."

"I'm on it." With this Jimmy walked away quickly on his way to the research room. Before entering, his path was blocked by Clark.

"Jimmy, I need you to do something for me. It's very important."

"What's going on?"

"I want you to get me list of any prior convicts, in jail or on parole, who have been involved in highly stylized break- ins."

"You mean like at STAR Labs?"

"Yes."

"You mean, you got a lead on the STAR Labs break- in?"

"Maybe. Let's see what you come up with."

"C.K., Both you and Lois seem very anxious. What's happening?"

"Something came up. I can't tell you now but I need that information as soon as possible."

"No problem, C.K., I'm on it."

***

Later that night at Lois' apartment, Clark and Lois sat examining countless files and articles. The day had been a very busy one and at the moment the night looked equally busy. Jimmy had gathered all the information they individually requested and he had done it in record time, sensing the urgency of the situation. For Lois, the information gathered was the first step to discovering who switched the rings. During the day, she had visited countless jewelry stores around Metropolis seeking a definite answer to her questions but she had come up empty. In a way she was not surprised, she knew that whoever did it, and she had a pretty good idea of who it may have been, had thought of everything. Still, she searched for the particular definite clue that would lead her directly to her suspect. Clark, was equally unlucky, his search for the individuals responsible for the break-in at STAR Labs had created more questions than answers. Although he narrowed his search to a handful of individuals capable of such a break- in, he soon found out that his suspects had disappeared into thin air. They knew that the answers they sought would not come easily, yet, still they hoped, though frustration was beginning to set in.

"I can't stand this!" Lois yelled, throwing her notepad on the floor.

"Come on, Lois, don't give up."

"I don't even know what we are looking for anymore. It's funny, I know who did it, I know why they did it, when, where and so on but I can't prove it."

"I know what you mean. At least you have the 'who,' I can't even find who did it. All I know for sure is that Cassandra had something to do with it." Clark concluded.

"You believe me, now?" Lois asked

"As hard as it is to admit it, I think you may have been right. When I think of Cassandra and … It's hard."

"I know, Clark. When she came back three weeks ago, she appeared to have changed. But, we were fooled once again."

"I could've never imagined this. It's too fantastical."

"Clark, you're a guy who flies, that's fantastical in itself, isn't it?"

Clark smiled. "You got me."

"I'll get you anywhere, any time." They both smiled, momentarily forgetting the task before them. "Want to take a break?" Lois asked brightly.

"Actually," Clark glanced at his watch, "I really should be going, it's past midnight."

"Last time I heard, I didn't have a curfew, Clark."

"No. It's not that. I have to fly around a bit. You know, have a job to do."

"I understand. I should really get to bed myself, tomorrow is going to be a long day. I have a couple more places to visit." She paused and stared into his eyes. "Wouldn't it be nice, if we could wrap this up tomorrow?"

"Why?"

"More time to prepare our wedding. Don't tell me you forgot?"

"No, of course not, Lois. It would be nice, if we could find our answers."

"It's not going to be easy. She thought of everything."

"We'll solve this. I know we will." He leaned forward and kissed her gently on the lips. "But, now …" Clark swiftly changed into his Superman outfit, walked to her window and smiled at Lois. "Want me to pick you up, in the morning?"

"It's okay. I'll meet you at the Planet. I have a couple of things to do before I go to the office."

"Okay." He walked back to her, leaned and kissed her deeply. "I love you." With this, he flew out her window into the dark Metropolis night.

"I love you too." Lois told him simply as a soft wind caressed her face.

After Clark left, Lois sat looking at the papers before her. She was angry and this anger made her more determined to find the all the answers about Cassandra. She sat there for almost an hour, rummaging through papers and wondering how they could've been such fools. Lois stood suddenly and walked to her kitchen to prepare a cup of tea, she knew that she would be unable to sleep tonight, unable to get Cassandra Hathaway out of her mind. Suddenly a thought occurred to her, she thought of Professor Filakouris and all that he had related, specifically about Cassandra's need to have followers. In that instant, she realized what Cassandra's first steps would've been; to gather her 'family.' "Kidnap victims! Of course," as the words crossed her lips, she heard a knock at the door. Lois glanced at her watch quickly, it was 15 minutes past 1 in the morning. "Who could it be?" She whispered as she walked to the door and stared out through the peephole. She was able to distinguish the familiar red cape and golden "S' stitched on it. Without thinking, she quickly opened her door.

"Clark? Why didn't you use the wind …"

In an instant, all that Lois could see turned to black.

***

The next morning, Lois stepped out of the elevator at the Daily Planet. She walked stiffly, hardly noticing the people who greeted her. She walked straight to her desk and sat without a single word to anyone. When Clark walked in, Lois still sat at her desk without uttering a single word but staring constantly at her empty computer screen. He walked straight to her, all the while displaying a bright grin.

"Hi, sweetheart. I hope you didn't stay up too late, last night …" Clark told her as he sat at the edge of her desk. For the first time, Lois looked up. She stared at him, as if seeing him for the first time.

"Oh, hi, Clark. How are you?" She asked without a drop of emotion.

"I'm fine." Clark immediately noticed that something was not right. "Lois, are you okay?"

She continued to stare at him as if he were a stranger. "I'm fine. Couldn't be better, Clark. Today's a good day."

Clark was not convinced. "Lois, did you get any sleep last night?"

"Slept like a babe. Today, I feel reborn. I see things clearly, now."

"Lois, you're not making sense …" Clark stated in a concerned tone.

"I'm not making sense? Are you saying I'm stupid, Clark? Are you saying I'm crazy?!" Lois asked her voice rising with every word. Clark was taken aback by this display.

"No, Lois, c'mon. I was just …"

"You were just belittling me again! Like you did with Cassandra! You didn't pay attention to me, you doubted me, all of you doubted me!!" She yelled and turned to stare angrily at everyone in the office while frightened eyes avoided her gaze.

"Lois, calm down. Everyone's watching." Clark reached out for her but she avoided his touch.

"Don't touch me!" She told him, her eyes full of fury. Clark's eyes displayed surprise and confusion.

"Lois, I don't know what's going on … But let's talk about this. You're upset and I …"

"I am upset! For the first time, I see clearly what's before me! I know who you truly are! You don't love me! You never loved me! You just used me, like a toy, like you use everyone! Tell me Clark, how long did you expect to continue to play your little sick game? Tell me, how long did you expect ME to play it?!" She told him as she stared harshly into his eyes.

"Lois, I don't know what you're talking about." Clark told her in a tone full of confusion.

"Play the innocent, Clark. You're good at it. Too good. Nobody knows you like I do, do they? I'm the only one who knows the true monster behind that casual, goody two shoes facade. You can't fool me anymore! I did away with the rose-colored glasses."

"Lois, please, letís go somewhere and talk about this."

"I'm not going anywhere with you! It's over! I don't want you in my life! I don't love you! I never did and that was my salvation. Don't you dare come near me ever again! It's over!" With this she walked out of the Daily Planet, without a backward glance. If she would've glanced behind her, she would've seen a whole office full of shocked faces but most of all she would've seen the image of a heart breaking as displayed in Clark's eyes.

Clark felt like running after Lois and he would've done it except for the hand that held him back.

"Give her some time, Clark." Perry told him as he directed Clark to his office.

"Perry, I don't know where that came from. Just last night everything was …"

"Clark, son, maybe she's scared. You know, cold feet, you guys are getting married soon and all."

"I don't know, Perry. This was more that 'cold feet.' You heard her. In her mind I was like this monster!"

"All I can tell you is to give her time. Don't rush after her, just yet. Let her calm down."

"This isn't right, Perry. Something is wrong. No, I have to talk to her."

"Yes. But not today. Clark, go home, calm down and tomorrow, call her up and sit and talk. Give her tonight. Trust me, if I would've done the same with Alice, we would still be married."

"I don't know, Perry, all the things that she said …"

"Give her tonight. You gotta calm down also."

"Fine," Clark conceded reluctantly. "If she calls though, let me know. I want to make sure she's okay."

"I will, son."

"Thanks, Perry" With that Clark walked out of the office hardly noticing the concerned looks and whispers that followed him.

***

Later that night, Clark sat slumped on his sofa without moving, it was everything he could do to keep on breathing. All day he had been fighting a strong desire to run to Lois and demand answers, to force her to tell him what had gone wrong but Perry's words rang in his head- "Give her time," he had said. "Maybe Perry is right," he thought, "maybe I should give her time. But how? How can I go on without knowing what's happening?" He managed to get off his sofa and walk to his window. Every movement he made, appeared unreal to him as though he was watching it on television. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a framed picture of him and Lois in happier times, he focused on her, on her smile, on how happy she was.

"Just yesterday, everything was fine. Just yesterday, she told me she loved me." He whispered as he continued to stare at the picture. "No! I can't stay away!" He quickly turned resolute to go to her and demand his answers. Just as he was ready to leave, his phone rang, he almost didn't answer it but the thought that Lois could be the one calling stopped him.

"Lois?!" Clark asked in an urgent tone.

"No, Mr. Kent. It's Professor Filakouris."

"Professor. I really can't talk …"

"Please, Mr. Kent. I need to ask question."

"Can't this wait?"

"No. I've been trying to contact Ms. Lane but I can't find her so I call you, okay?"

"Really, Professor, if we could do this later …"

"Please, Mr Kent! Very important. Need to know, right before everything went black, what else you remember?"

"I thought I told you everything."

"Tell me about *her*."

"Fine. I remember that she was very seductive. I mean, her voice was very soothing. I felt attached to it somehow… Then the humming started and the rest you know."

"Do you know if you did anything after she captured you?"

"I don't remember but Lois," He paused suddenly remembering the pain he carried inside, "Lois… told me that I did everything Cassandra told me to do. Apparently I had no will of my own, like my thoughts were her thoughts …" Clark stopped abruptly as an idea began to take shape in his mind.

"Go on, Mr. Kent."

"My thoughts were her thoughts. That's all."

"I see."

"What, Professor?"

"Listen carefully. I figured this. If she was wearing ring, she was chosen queen of Amazons. In order to create new tribe, she needed followers, ring afforded power to get followers. Upon gathering new tribe with required worshipped characteristics, she become stronger, more powerful. This power made easy to capture anybody's mind. I know she followed a simple formula."

"What formula? A recipe from the scroll?"

"No. Is like this; first, she needed target victim; second, she had to have followers who supplied the humming you referred to; third, she used goddess given power like soothing voice to force victim to surrender all defenses which she used in conjunction with humming; and fourth, the ring put it all together in a form of blinding light that reached into victimís mind making them helpless, erasing their memories and feelings. Like a blank canvas to be filled in by queen. Victimís feelings were supplanted by an undying love and devotion to the queen, in this case Ms. Hathaway."

"Once all these were in place, queen had power to control every aspect of victim's life, like their choices, likes and dislikes, their fears, own wishes and their loves. Is like victim became a puppet who lived to serve the queen."

Clark listened attentively to the Professor's lecture and every bit of information provided, shone a light on his own hidden memories. As the professor spoke, all that happened between him and Cassandra as she took over him, began to materialize in his mind. In that instant, all the doubts, all the guilt he had felt at one time, disappeared. For the first time, he finally saw what Cassandra had been all about because at last the fog had been lifted. Still, he couldn't dwell on his own anger and confusion, he needed to be prepare in case Cassandra came back into his life.

"Professor, I can't thank you enough for what you've done."

"Heh, it's my job, Mr Kent." The Professor exclaimed as he graciously dismissed Clark's compliment.

"I need to know, though, is there a way to stop her?"

"This hard. I guess, best way would be to eliminate one of the components she uses."

"Like what?"

"Easier would be not to get near her, yes?" The Professor waited for a response that didn't come, he cleared his throat. "More difficult to get ring or once get near her not fall prey to her voice and followers' humming."

"For argument's sake, how can one prevent falling prey to her voice and the humming?"

"I'm not a scientist, just an ancient civilizations Professor, but I guess best way be *not* to listen."

Clark reflected for a moment on what the Professor had said. "Thank you, Professor."

"Okay. You tell Ms. Lane, yes?" Clark didn't answer. "Mr. Kent, you okay, yes?"

"I will be, Professor, I will be. Bye."

As soon as Clark ended his conversation with Professor Filakouris, he started to pace around his apartment. His head was full of questions and images. All that had happened since Cassandra came to Metropolis began to flash through his mind. He remembered the first time he had seen her at the Metropolis airport, he remembered how all the male reporters present had gone wild over her, how they had become violent and aggressive at the prospect of laying eyes on her. He also reflected on how Jimmy and Perry had behaved toward her, how willing they had been to please her and how smitten they had been. It was as though she exuded an energy that made every man around her, fall in love. All except him. In that instant, he understood Cassandra's power, understood how that power led her to act as she did. He realized that he had been the only one who never fell for her, either when she didn't have any powers in college or later when she had all the power in the world. He understood then, that she would never stop seeking him.

He wondered how he could've been such a fool. How at one time he had refused to believe that she had any designs on him. He remembered how she had manipulated him for it now was clear to him that she knew how guilty he had felt. He saw the whole picture; how he had been her puppet even when he had ceased to be under her direct control. She had used him nonetheless, manipulated him, played with him and for what?! To satisfy some deeply ingrained obsession; to get what she thought had been denied to her; to get him. "I *never* led her on," he whispered, "I never lied to her. Never Lied. It wasn't my fault." As he uttered those words, an image of Lois came to his mind because she had told him repeatedly that it wasn't his fault. "Lois …" He said quietly and suddenly remembered his intended destination. Without thinking, he quickly changed into his Superman outfit and flew out his window.

***

Clark flew as fast as he could to Lois' apartment, he was carried through by a strong desire to see her and to find out what could've happened between them that would justify her breaking up with him. He knew that something was not right, what it was, eluded him but the possibilities terrified him. As Clark reached Lois' apartment building, he noticed a black limousine with tinted windows parked in front of it, he didn't think much of it, that is until out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Lois as she walked out her building toward the limousine. Before he had a chance to go to her, she was already inside and the limo had taken off. "Where is she going?" He wondered out loud. In his mind Lois' behavior was too strange, first the fight at the Planet and now this, a late night trip to "somewhere" in a strange limousine, thoughts of Lex Luthor crossed his mind. He felt like stopping the car because this image was too familiar, once he had seen the woman he loved ride in a car away from him and he hadn't done anything to stop her. For that mistake, he had paid dearly and this time he didn't care to repeat it, yet, instead of stopping the limo, he opted to follow it to its intended destination.

Clark followed the limousine closely, occasionally using his x-ray vision to spy inside and check on Lois. She seemed fine except for the fact that she didn't move a muscle, it was as though she was frozen in place. The limo rode several miles outside Metropolis to a solitary road, it was a dark road and from Clark's point of view, it was almost hidden by countless trees. Finally, after almost two hours of driving, the car made a turn into a secluded driveway en route to what at first appeared to be an abandoned mansion. He noticed as the limo made a sudden stop just before the main door. Lois quickly got out and walked stiffly toward the door and inside the house. "What's going on here?" Clark wondered. He descended slowly and walked toward the door. He opened it and looked inside. Clark walked in and found himself in the middle of a large foyer, there were no signs of people or furniture for that matter, it was just an empty, dark space. He looked to his left and there he saw a large wooden door, he tried to look inside using his x-ray vision but he was unable to because the door was lead lined. "Strange…" He thought. Clark then decided to use his super hearing in order to determine where Lois was and from behind that large wooden door he heard it. A song was playing and a person was laughing. He recognized the song, it was some old Cole Porter tune but the laughter was a strange one, an almost maniacal one, not one belonging to Lois. He walked toward that door and opened it. In that instant, the music assaulted him full force:

"…In Love With My Joy Delirious

With The Thought That You Might Care.

So Taunt Me And Hurt Me.

Deceive me, Desert Me.

I'm Yours 'til I Die,

So In Love

So In Love

So In Love With You, My Love, Am I…"

As the music played out, Clark continued to hear the laughter, he had to find out who it was, something about its tone did not sit very well with him. Without hesitating, he crossed the doorway into the biggest, brightest and most luxurious living room he had ever seen. It was a room fit for a castle, fit for a QUEEN. Clark immediately searched the large room with his eyes, looking for the source of that maniacal laughter. He found it soon enough sitting in a tall leather made chair. Cassandra Hathaway sat there, staring at him with an amused look on her face.

He couldn't believe, didn't want to believe it. They stared at one another as two fighters would the morning of their fateful fight and neither said a word. Cassandra continued to stared at him, examining his face, his body and measuring his disposition. This was the moment she has been waiting for, she slowly stood and walked toward her stereo. Clark followed her every move, anticipating danger. As she turned off the stereo, she looked back at him and once again smiled.

"How are you, Clarkie? " She asked as she walked back to her chair and sat. "I've been expecting you."

"Cassandra …" Clark whispered, still unable to grasp the reality of the situation and yet the thought of Lois being at her hands made him react. "Where's Lois?!" He asked in a demanding tone.

"Why Clarkie, aren't you going to ask how am *I* doing?" She asked in girlish tone.

"What games are you playing, Cassandra?! What have you done with Lois?!" He insisted as he walked toward her with forceful steps.

"Clarkie. What kind of person do you think I am? I don't like playing games …That is unless I can win them. And, I don't like hurting people…Unless they get in my way." Clark continued to move toward her until he towered over her. "My, you're tall."

"Tell me where Lois is or I swear …" He reached out for her arms and brought her to him.

Cassandra was totally unafraid. "What are you going to do? Kill me?" She looked down at his hands as they gripped her arms. Clark let go of her recognizing that he had let his anger take over him. "I didn't think so. Superman would never kill anyone. By the way, love the outfit."

"What have you done?" He repeated, backing away from her.

"I've only done what you and Lois forced me to do. You know, Clarkie, everything would have been much simpler if Lois had not gotten in the way when I finally had you all to myself. There I was , I had my ultimate desire in my hands, plus something extra," Cassandra surveyed his Superman outfit, "and then Lois showed up. You can't imagine the disappointment."

"I could *never* be yours and I could *never* love you." He retorted, once again moving toward her.

"Isn't that funny," she smiled, never moving an inch. "As I recall, you *were* mine and you *did* love me. You were ready to do anything I asked, you were even ready to hurt the woman you supposedly loved." Clark looked down as he remembered the pain he had caused Lois. "Clarkie, haven't you learned by now that I could make anybody love and worship me? I could show you, do you want me to?"

As soon as she asked that frightening question, they heard a knock at the door. "Enter." Cassandra ordered and in walked a statuesque blond woman, wearing a dark designer dress and blinding diamond necklace. "Mother!" Cassandra announced with obvious glee in her voice. Clark stared at her, hardly believing that this was the same woman he had met weeks ago, a woman who at the time appeared frail and elderly. Hardly believing that this was Francesca Hathaway.

"Mother, have you met Mr. K… I mean, Superman?"

Francesca Hathaway stared at the Man of Steel, obviously admiring his figure. "No, darling, I have not. Believe me, I would have remembered." Francesca walked to Clark, her hand stretched in greeting but he refused it. She smiled and turned to her daughter. "Okay, I guess he's a bit temperamental. Darling, you never told me you had friends in such *high* places."

"We've only just met, mother dear." Clark looked at Cassandra with a surprised look on his face. He could've never imagined that she would keep his real identity a secret.

"I *really* hope he becomes a regular." Francesca stared at Clark once again with a lascivious look in her eyes. "Mmm, well, I just came to tell you that I'm leaving now for the airport. And that there's still no sign of Mr. Kent."

"Don't worry mother, he'll come sooner or later." Cassandra stared at Clark out of the corner of her eye. "Anyway, have a good trip and I'll see you in Monte Carlo shortly."

Francesca stared at her daughter with a confused look, she couldn't believe that she would disclose their destination in front of a stranger, even if that stranger was a handsome superhero. "Cissy, dear, do you think it was a good idea to …"

"Don't worry, mother, Superman is a friend of the family." Cassandra told her with a smile. "Now, be on your way. Kiss, kiss?" Francesca leaned forward to receive her daughter's kiss before exciting en route to the airport.

As soon as Francesca left, Clark approached Cassandra. "Why didn't you tell her who I was?"

"Clarkie dear, your secret is the only thing I have of you and I want to keep it all to myself. Call me selfish, if you must, but I think it's delicious."

"You said you didn't remember."

"I didn't lie, when I came to you after I was let out of that dreadful hospital, I didn't remember but later after I had gotten my "medicine," everything became clearer."

"Your medicine? You mean your ring."

"Well, yes, what else? I assume you know everything about it. Was it Professor…What's his name? Filakouris? Mother warned me about him but I never figured he would know that much. Oh well, why cry over spilt milk. I still got my wish nonetheless, you are here. But, where were we? Oh yes! Do you want me to show you how anybody can love and worship me?"

"I want to see Lois, now, Cassandra!"

"Oh Clarkie, we're having such a good time. Why can't we spend some time together?"

"I'm not here to play house with you, all I want is Lois, where is she?"

Cassandra walked back to her chair and sat, she looked up at Clark with a mischievous grin. "I see you don't want to play. You want your reward before winning the game …"

"What are you talking about?" He walked to her and stood above her.

"Clarkie, I knew you would come, I know you that well. That reminds me, sorry about your break-up. It must have hurt a lot." She told him in a mocking tone.

He knew in that instant that she had orchestrated everything, that somehow she had gotten to Lois and made a slave out of her and this fact filled him with fear. In that moment, all he wanted, all he cared about was Lois. "Where is Lois?!" He insisted, trying hard to contain his increasing anger.

"All good things come to those who wait." She told him simply.

Clark made a move toward the door, he knew that she would never tell him and that it a was up to him to find her even if he had to tear down every inch of this house. Cassandra noticed his intentions.

"Clarkie, do you know that there are over fifty rooms in this house and that each room is lead lined?" Clark stopped at the door and turned toward her, with a questioning look. "Yes, that's a fact. Apparently the previous owner had a thing about radioactivity or as I hear it, he had a Superman phobia. I think his name was Luthor or something. He sounded like a marvelous person. I think he's dead. Pity." Clark walked back into the room. "As you have already figured out, it would take you a long time to find her and who knows what could happen to her while you searched. Have you seen the roof? Gosh, anybody can fall from there and where would you be? Tearing down the house, room by room. I wonder if you would have enough time to save that somebody, I mean, who knows what could happen, right? Are you going to take that chance?" She inquired as she smiled her cat-like smile, her green eyes shining with obvious satisfaction.

Clark walked back to her and stood above her. "What do you want?" He asked, his face red with fury.

"Right now, I want you to sit and play nice."

Clark did as requested and sat on a chair across from her. "Now what?"

"Now, smile." Clark countenance did not change. Cassandra sighed. "One out of two isn't bad. Now that we are comfortable and seemingly relaxed, let me share something with you."

"What can you tell me? That you love me, that you've always loved me …"

"Good guess! But it's not the whole story. Tell me Clarkie, when you were young did you ever want something really bad but you couldn't get it either because you didn't have enough money or because it didn't want you. Have you ever wanted something that didn't want *you*?" Clark did not answer. "I did. I wanted you, always wanted you. But guess what? You refused me! For four years when we were in college, I dreamt of you loving me. I dreamt that one day you would turn to me and say, 'Cassie, I love you.' Many times I thought you would, when you looked at me that way… But, it didn't happen. Instead, you taunted me! You hurt me! Flaunting your handsome figure about, knowing full well how much I wanted you."

"I never did that." Clark retorted flatly.

"Oh yes, you did! You tortured me!"

Clark stared at her with an emotionless look on his face. "Do you expect me to feel guilty for something I never did?" He asked, his face tensing.

"Guilt? I *love* guilt. I guess you figured out that I played you like a violin when I returned from the hospital. I must admit, it was a whole lot of fun, watching you and Lois bicker over me. You almost broke up then, didn't you? Almost …" Cassandra looked down, remembering her second failure. "But you didn't. No, you *love* her. She's your reason for living!" Cassandra glared at him, jealousy imprinted in her eyes. "Isn't that what you told me, once? I've seen you together, you know? I've seen how *loving* you are. Sickening! With her you're a whole different person, you don't torture her! You're so loving and caring. So eager to please. Why, I wonder?!"

"It's called love. True love, look it up." He told her in defiant tone.

Cassandra gave him a sly smile. "True love? Don't tell me, I think I've heard about it before. Let me see if I remember— 'It's like finding you heart, a heart you've been searching for all your life and when you find it, nobody can take its place.' Did I get it right, Clarkie?"

"On your lips, those words lose their meaning. You'll never understand. You think I tortured you, that I played with you? Your memory is distorted. It's all a fantasy." Clark told her in an accusing tone.

"No, not distorted, it's pretty accurate." She replied with a girlish smile. "I tried to understand what Lois meant when she related her definition of 'true love' but I do believe we disagreed in the end."

"Why did you have to take Lois? What are you planning?"

"Clarkie, one thing about me is that I learn from my mistakes and with you I've made plenty. For example; trying to capture you like I did the first time was a mistake. I didn't count on Lois." She told him with fury in her eyes. "She's very determined. My encounter with her led me to be isolated in some mental hospital for two whole months. That was torture. Did you know that my mind was fully alive? My body failed to respond though. I was trapped inside a useless body, I felt everything, thought of everything but I could not do anything about it. I owe that little experience to Lois. The second mistake; believing that through guilt and pity I could lure you away from her. You see, I didn't have all my powers when I came out of the hospital, I had to improvise. Thank the gods that my mother was with me, she cured me, you know? Through some artful solicitation, she gathered some men that could get me my ring back, my "medicine." As I recuperated, I tried to get you to realize that Lois was not for you but once again, I failed. And again, I owe that little failure to Lois."

"She had nothing to do with your so-called failures." Clark told her in angry, defiant tone.

"She had *everything* to do with them! Her mere existence was a bad omen!" Cassandra suddenly jumped from her chair, fueled by pure anger. Clark didn't react. Just as suddenly, Cassandra's mood changed and she returned to her amiable self. "The funny thing is, I liked her at the beginning. She had all the qualities I admired, Perseverance and Independence, I knew she would make a great addition to my family. That's where my third mistake came from, I should've made her one of us from the beginning then I would not have encountered such resistance. Well, after trial and error, I finally figured it out, I finally came up with the sure way to make you mine."

"What are you saying?" He asked cautiously.

"Oh Clarkie, you're not stupid. Of course, you know what I'm talking about. All right, let me show you." Cassandra walked to the wall, where she found a panel of buttons, she pressed a red one. "I wanted to spend some more time with you alone, the gods know that I hardly ever had the pleasure of spending time with you." Cassandra sighed. "I guess we should just get on with it."

Suddenly six women walked stiffly into the room, all were lined up in rows of three and in the middle of the rows, Lois walked oblivious to Clark's presence. Clark immediately stood and ran toward Lois, as the other women walked toward Cassandra and kneeled. Clark was beside himself as he tried to bring Lois back from where Cassandra had sent her.

"Lois! Wake up! It's me, Clark. Wake Up!" He shook her gently but there was no response not even a twitch.

"You guys never learn." Cassandra stated with amusement in her voice. "Save your breath, Clark, she cannot hear *you*, I'm the only one who has control over her." Clark quickly turned toward Cassandra, to quick for her to notice. Before she knew it, he was standing right in front of her anger burning in his eyes.

"Let her go, now!" He whispered menacingly, Cassandra didn't flinch but instead, laughed loudly. Clark was taken aback.

"Clarkie, why should I? Because you say so? Don't make me laugh. You're a man, you cannot order *me* about. I'm *Queen of the Amazons.* Do you know what that means? I have unimaginable powers. Look!" She motioned toward the women kneeling under her and toward Lois. "My family is complete, I have all the power in the world! While you have pure brawn, I have the most powerful mind not to mention all the gods on my side. And you think you can order *me* about? Cute, really cute."

"You have no right! Let her go!" Clark insisted.

"Oh men, they think they can just lord it over everybody." Cassandra turned toward her servants and as she spoke, they all looked up to her, including Lois. "Not anymore. I will rule the world! We will *all* rule the world! Look at Lois, Clark." She walked toward Lois and took her hand, almost motherly. "Before she joined us, she was just an average reporter doing work for an overrated patriarchal society. She didn't dare dream beyond that, none of them dared to dream beyond what they had. But then, I came along. I rescued them one by one. It was simple really, I didn't have to convince them. Well, I only had to convince one—Lois. I think she was surprised the night I went to her apartment wearing a replica of your cape, it was so easy, one turn of the knob and she was mine. Okay, I'm exaggerating really, I actually had to hit her over the head a couple of times before she saw the light. The ring light, that is. And now look at her, so beautiful, so independent and full of perseverance. I think she's happy, what do you think?"

Clark could hardly control his anger and yet he knew that at this moment in time, Cassandra held all the cards. "What do you want, Cassandra? What would it take for you to let her go?"

"Simple. Only one thing—you."

"Why do you want me? I'm in love with Lois. Besides, I've never led you on and I never promised you anything. Can't you see that?" Clark asked hoping to reach her.

"Mmm, such a typical thing for a man to say. I thought you were an original. Still, Clarkie, you are that thing I always wanted and never got. I could have the world with one snap of my fingers but it would not mean anything, if I don't have you. Don't you see I've done all this for you? I've built an empire, I've become rich, made myself a queen with followers, just for *you.* If you ask me, you should be flattered." She smiled proudly.

"I could never love you, Cassandra. No matter what you do, I will *never* love you."

"We shall see. Submit to me Clark, submit to me and we shall see."

Clark knew full well what she wanted of him. He knew that if he agreed to her conditions that life as he knew it would cease and that he could become Cassandra's weapon for destruction. Although, he would've traded his life for Lois' without thinking, he knew that the stakes were high. He decided to call Cassandra's bluff. "No." He said simply as he stared straight into Cassandra's green eyes.

"I thought you would say that." Cassandra turned to Lois. "Lois, do as I have commanded you." As soon as she spoke the words, Lois produced a gun out of her Greek-like gown, cocked it and placed it tightly against her temple.

"No, Lois!" Clark yelled as he attempted to reach for the gun.

"No, no, no, Clarkie. Don't you dare touch her." Clark stopped abruptly, anticipating one of Cassandra's tricks. "One word and we could be cleaning Lois' brains from the carpet for a week."

"You're crazy. You'll never get what you want, not if I can help it!"

"That's the thing, Clark, you can't help it. Either you submit to me or with a word that starts with 'G' and ends with 'O,' Lois could die. I must tell you, our pledge as Amazons prohibits any of us from killing one another but we can't help it if any of us chooses to kill herself. Terrible, isn't it?" Cassandra gave him a bright smile. "I know you're fast, Clark, but I can speak very fast and a bullet can shoot out of that gun she holds so *tightly* to her temple very, very fast. Are you going to take the chance? Are you a gambling man?"

Clark looked at Lois and the gun she held, he tried to figure out a way to save her. Although he was the fastest man alive, he knew he couldn't take the chance, not with Lois. He loved her too much. More importantly, he knew that Cassandra was not bluffing. "What if I submit, would you let her go?" He asked, giving up any chances of freedom.

"Clarkie, trust me."

"Why should I? You've lied to me all along. Why I should I trust you now?"

"I know I've said in the past that 'trust is a bad thing' but tell me what choice have you got? Trust me now and I won't let you down. Submit to me and Lois will go free."

Clark knew she was lying. Yet, he reasoned that she needed Lois as much as she wanted him and for that reason once he had submitted, she would never kill her. He also knew that she was right, he didn't have any choice. "Fine. Do it." He told her, without a drop of emotion.

"I knew you would do the right thing. Oh look! I have goose bumps." She turned toward her servants as Lois remained in the background still holding the gun to her temple. "It's time, ladies." With this the women stood and walked toward Clark, they circled him and Cassandra. This was too familiar to Clark, images of the first time he was hypnotized assaulted him, intermingled with images of Professor Filakouris. From where they were standing encircled by Cassandra's servant, he could see Lois in the background, in a frozen state with a loaded gun to her temple. He felt his heart breaking. Then, the humming started, Clark froze in place, he tried to fight it but the music enveloped him. Cassandra approached him and spoke to him in a very soothing tone.

"Clarkie, you're mine again. Finally you are MINE." She circled him, all the while touching his muscular body. "You've always been my love, my life, my ultimate dream and now I'll be your love, your life and your ultimate dream. Your present, your future, your heart, your soul, your body and mind, are all mine forever." she brought her soft hand to his face, on it her magical ring glowed brightly with a blinding yellow light. She caressed his face tenderly and lovingly, all the while repeating the words— "My love, my love, my love…"

When it was done, her servants kneeled before her once again, Clark just stood there without moving, awaiting Cassandra's command. Cassandra was beside herself, the dream of a lifetime had come true in one instant, this was more than she had hoped for. She stood before him, examining her newly acquired reward. She almost couldn't believe it. She caressed his face, then traced his powerful torso and gently touched the "S" emblazoned on his chest, in her mind she knew she had won the game.

"Come with me, Clark." She ordered quickly. Clark did not hesitate and followed her. The two sat in a large luxurious sofa in the middle of the room. "Do you remember, how it was before, Clark?" He didn't answer. "Why are you so quiet?" Once again he didn't answer. "I guess you're tired. Maybe tomorrow, you will feel better." She kissed his lips and quickly walked toward where Lois was still standing with a gun against her temple. Clark's eyes followed her every move as though they were slaves.

"Lois, drop the gun." Lois did as ordered as Cassandra started to circle her. "Lois, you are an invaluable addition to my family but not *that* invaluable. I realized tonight that I really… Hate you. You've been very useful to me but that's the extend of it. Now it's my turn to say to you, 'I don't want you anywhere near us.' I think it's time for you to fly, without Superman, of course. As soon as we leave for the airport, you will go to this castle's roof and fly. You will fly for me, your queen, fly for Clark, *my* king, you will fly and prove your worth. Do you agree?"

For the first time, Lois spoke. Her voice was different, emotionless and cold. "Yes, my Queen." She said as she lowered her head.

"Good. Very good. Now, stand there until we leave. Do you agree?"

"Yes, my Queen."

Cassandra returned to Clark who still sat motionless. "Clark, my dear, it's time for us to leave. Monte Carlo awaits!" She announced happily. "Come, come with me." Clark looked up to her with love in his eyes. Cassandra felt like melting in those eyes, she sat once again, next to him. With her jeweled hand, she started to caress his face. Clark took hold of her hand and began to kiss it, Cassandra was beside herself. "I knew you would love me." She whispered as Clark kissed every one of her fingers.

When he got to the finger that bore Cassandra's magical ring, he looked up and smiled. Cassandra smiled back, not finding it unusual that he would display emotion, she was too taken by his demonstration of love. "I dreamed of this." She told him as she fell deeply under his spell. He continued to kiss her hand and fingers, Cassandra melted each time his lips touch her skin. That's probably why, it took her by surprise when he looked up at her again and simply told her, "I'll *never* love you," while he took a forceful hold of her magical ring.

"What?! How?!" She asked, suddenly confused and alarmed.

Clark smiled, never letting go of her ring. "Did you think I would fall for your tricks a second time?"

"How? How?" She continued to ask hardly believing her eyes.

"The real trick was *not* to listen." He started as he continued to hold her ring threatening to slip it from her finger. "Simple, isn't it? I couldn't hear you, my mind and all my senses were occupied with one thing, a thing that simply took over me and helped me escape your magic. That thing was, Lois. I only had to focus on her as she stood there, a victim of your madness and nothing could touch me. You couldn't touch me."

"Impossible!" She insisted as fear began to appear in her eyes for the first time.

"No, not impossible. It's something you could never understand. It's called, true love."

Cassandra immediately looked toward Lois, realizing that she could be the key to her escape. If she could only command her to get hold of the gun again, she thought.

Clark took immediate notice of her intentions. "No, no, no, Cassandra. Don't you even think of doing anything to her." Clark warned as he started to pull at her ring. Cassandra, immediately focused on him.

"Please, Clark, don't do it. I will be trapped, please let me live, I'll go away. You'll never see me again. I swear, you won't. Please, don't destroy me. If you take the ring off without me having acquired the goddesses' permission, I could be destroyed. Please, Clark, if you ever cared, please don't do it. " She pleaded with tears in her eyes.

"I did care, once, but you used me. You hurt the woman I love and tried to keep us apart. How can I trust you, when I know now the kind of monster you are?" Clark looked straight into her eyes as he spoke without emotion.

"I wasn't always this way, you made me this way. It's your fault." Cassandra insisted as she opted to play one last card.

"Wrong. You created yourself and your fantasies. You still think you can make me feel guilty? I just realized something, you'll never stop, will you? You'll continue to seek me. You'll continue to get in the way of our happiness."

"I'll go away." She insisted, realizing that perhaps she had pushed Clark too far, that perhaps she had overplayed her hand.

Clark looked back at Lois as she stood like a statue awaiting Cassandra's command. In that instant he knew he had a choice to make. He knew that it was either Cassandra or Lois. "Weren't you going to kill Lois?"

Cassandra looked frightened, she knew she was caught. "I—I, I was just," She paused remembering the hate she held inside and once again returned to her arrogant, defiant self.. "Why Clarkie, I told you to trust me. Me? Kill? Never. I like your little sweetheart." She smiled her cat-like smile.

"Someone once told me, that 'trust is a bad thing,' I think I've learned my lesson." Clark looked into her defiant green eyes, the choice was made, there were no questions left to ask and no doubts remained. His old college friend, Cassie Jones, had ceased to exist a long time ago and in her place a monster remained, a monster called—Cassandra Hathaway. As he glanced at Lois in her frozen, emotionless state, he didn't hesitate as he quickly slipped Cassandra's magical Diamond ring from her finger.

As soon as he had taken the ring from her, she began to scream as though her heart was being ripped from her body. Cassandra lay in front of him, writhing with pain, her eyes wide open, tears spilling down the sides of her face. He looked at the ring in his hand and noticed that it was glowing. Suddenly, without warning, three beams shot out from the ring. The lights began to take shape. Clark couldn't believe his eyes, right in front of him, three goddesses appeared out of thin air. He stood in shock as they looked down at Cassandra with disappointment in their eyes. Cassandra tried to reach up to them but the three just turned their backs and disappeared. She appeared to beg once more but then everything was silent. Clark looked again at the ring in his hand. He knew that it had contributed to all the pain Lois and he had experienced. Without thinking, he let his anger take over him and with one squeeze, the ring was no more. Immediately, an explosion took place and a blinding pyramid of colors emanated from the shattered ring. Cassandra, Lois and the rest of Cassandra's servants brought their hands to their heads, all staggered, letting out ear shattering screams. Clark's heart stopped beating for a moment, he felt as if he were moving in slow motion as he rushed to Lois' side. Maybe he had done the wrong thing, maybe destroying the ring had killed Lois. He bent down next to her, his hand trembling slightly as he searched for a pulse. He breathed a silent sigh of relief when he felt her strong heartbeat. He looked at the other women and realized that they were still alive but his focus was Lois. Clark immediately lifted her in his arms and flew off, without a backward glance, straight to Metropolis Mercy hospital.

***

Once they got to the hospital and he had quickly changed out of his Superman outfit, he soon discovered that there wasn't anything that the doctors could do for her. At first he had felt frightened but the doctors told him that she was asleep, a deep healing sleep and that she would awaken from it when she was ready. For two days, Clark kept a silent, constant vigil by Lois' bedside. He never left her, only once did he dare leave her and that was to call the Metropolis Police, to make sure they had found the mansion and that they had rescued the six women Cassandra had kidnapped. More importantly, he wanted to know, what they had done with Cassandra. They informed him that she had been transferred back to the Metropolis Deter Mental Hospital where she remained in a perpetual catatonic state. Clark took a deep breath and exhaled, he knew better, he knew that right at that moment, Cassandra's mind was trapped in an useless body without any hope for relief. He shook his head and quietly walked back to his love's side.

After two days of anxiety, Lois slowly awoke, her limbs felt heavy and her head ached. She tried to bring her left hand to her head, but she didn't seem to be able to lift it, something had a grip of her hand. She opened her eyes, trying to find the culprit, it was then that she spotted Clark, slumped on a chair near her bed, she looked down at her hand and found his hand clutched around it. "He looks tired," she thought, as she watched his silent figure. Lois tugged on her hand and said his name at the same time.

"Clark… ?" Clark immediately opened his eyes when he heard her voice. "Where am I?"

He smiled at her tenderly. "You're in the hospital."

"What happened? Why am I in a hospital?" Lois wondered a loud.

"Do you remember anything?" He inquired as he gently stroked her hand.

"The last thing I remember was you. I mean, I thought it was you, I saw you through my peephole… Then I remember Cassandra…" She trailed off for a moment as she fought to remember more. "Why was Cassandra there?" She trembled slightly. Clark tried to soothe her fears. "I… remember feeling strange as if something was controlling me…making me do things, say things…and then I remember pain… excruciating pain as if my head was being split open and then all I saw was black." She looked at Clark, silently asking him to fill in the gaps.

Clark quickly filled her in on the events that had taken place, about Cassandra, their mock break-up, the ring and the reason why she was in the hospital. Lois stared in shocked horror as she listened to Clark. It was as if what he was saying had happened to another woman.

"I don't remember any of it,Ē she reached out and took hold of his hand. "Clark, I love. You know I would never— ever leave you like that…" Lois said in a small, frightened voice.

Clark reached over and held her in his arms, silently offering her his strength and his love, "I know Lois, I know," he gently rocked her. "I know it wasn't you. Never you." She rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes, she felt safe, protected and loved.

"That's it…No more." Clark whispered as he held her. Lois lifted her head off of Clark's shoulder and looked up at him.

"No more what?" she asked softly. Clark didn't answer, he only smiled, kissed her and then pulled away from her.

"Where are you going?" Lois tried to catch a hold of him, but he eluded her.

Clark collected his jacket off the chair and made a mad dash for the door, saying as he left, "I'm going to be away for a few days…But don't worry my parents and your parents will be here to keep you company." He stood in the open doorway and glanced back at Lois. "I'll be back in a couple of days when you're due to check out."

"Clark Kent, what do you think your doing…?" A bewildered Lois stared after Clark.

Before walking away, Clark gave her a secretive smile. "Trust me, sweetheart, it's a surprise. Remember, I love you." He then walked away..

"Clark!" She yelled after him but it was too late, he was already gone. "I don't believe…I DON'T believe he just did that." Lois muttered to herself as she stared at the closed hospital door.

***

Later that afternoon, Martha Kent and Ellen Lane walked into Lois' hospital room.

"How are you feeling, honey?" Martha asked as she hugged and kissed Lois.

"Fine, Fine…but that son of yours is going to drive me crazy!"

A smiling Ellen Lane kissed and hugged her daughter, "That's what men are good at, driving us women crazy, sweetheart."

Martha and Ellen shared a furtive glance and smiled at each other. Lois noticed their shared look and her investigative reporter's antenna went up. "You know what heís up to, don't you?"

"Yes, but we've been sworn to secrecy." Martha told her as she made herself comfortable in the chair next to Loisí bed. All the while smiling at her tenderly. Lois glanced from her mother to Martha, giving both of them suspicious looks.

***

The two days crawled by slowly. Although her parents, Martha, Jonathan, Perry and Jimmy made sure that Lois always had company during visiting hours, she desperately missed Clark. She hadn't seen him since that day he hurried out of her hospital room. He had called, but it wasn't the same thing, she *needed* to see him.

Finally, the time arrived for Lois to check out of the hospital. She signed all her papers and started packing her overnight case. She waited and waited, but no one came. "Obviously, everyone had more important things to do than pick me up." She muttered to herself as she gathered up her belongings. "Great, just great, first my fiance disappears on me and now my family and friends have decided to abandon me." She angrily threw her things in her suitcase. Just as she was about to wallow in self pity, Clark walked through the door, as if he hadn't a care in the world, as if he hadn't been gone for the past two days.

"Hi, honey, ready to go?" He smiled at her.

Lois stiffened as she saw him, "Glad to see you finally decided to grace me with your presence." She turned back to her packing.

Clark walked toward her and stood next to her, he reached over and gently brought her chin up, so that she could look at him, he looked into her eyes and said, "Just trust me, Lois." She fought to hold on to her anger, but she could never resist those brown eyes, she could never stay mad at him for too long.

"Okay, but whatever you have up your sleeve, better be worth it." She handed him her suitcase as she took his other hand.

The couple walked outside all the while holding hands. "Where's my Jeep?" Lois inquired as she looked through the hospital parking lot.

"We're not using your car." Clark pulled Lois toward the back alley of the hospital, after searching to make sure that no one was around, he quickly changed into his Superman outfit and picked Lois up, "We're using the Superman express this time." He told her as he took to the air and flew up into the sky. The couple flew toward their destination, ten minutes later they stood in a deserted field.

"This is it…?" Lois looked around her incredulously, all she saw was grass and trees. "Let me guess, you flew me to the meadows for a picnic?" She asked sarcastically. Lois looked around her for a moment. "Wait, this looks kind of familiar."

Clark laughed and pulled her up towards a big oak tree, behind which Lois' Jeep was parked. "We're going the rest of the way by car."

"Where are we?" Lois asked as she continued to look around them seeking recognizable landmarks.

"It's a …" Clark started but Lois cut him off before he finished his sentence.

"A surprise. "

Clark smiled, "you took the words right out of my mouth."

"This had better be good." She repeated once again, "I haven't fully forgiven you yet for not visiting me for the last few days and you know I *hate* being kept in the dark."

Clark placed Lois' small suitcase in the trunk of the Jeep and got into the driverís side of the car. "Oh, believe me Lois…" He smiled to himself. "This will definitely be good, now just sit back and enjoy the ride." Lois put on her seat belt and sat back as Clark put on a tape in the tape player and started the car.

About half an hour later the couple came upon what looked to be a small town. Trees and small quaint little homes lined the streets. Clark stopped the car in front of a small picturesque chapel.

"We're here." Clark announced as he stopped the car.

"This looks *very* familiar. You know, somehow, I picture a lot of corn. Where exactly is here?" A puzzled Lois looked around her.

Clark would only smile. He got out of the car and went to Lois' side, he opened the door and unhooked her seat belt. "Come on." He gently ordered.

Clark pulled her out of the car and right there, in the middle of the street with the little picturesque little church in the background, he got down on bended knees, pulled a gold wedding band out of his pocket and said: "Lois Lane, would you do me the honor, the privilege of becoming my bride, now, today, in this instant?" He grinned as he waited for her answer, "you did promise you would marry me in Smallville, now it's time to keep your promise."

Lois' stood in shock as she finally realized what was going on. "This is what you've been planning all this time? Our wedding in Smallville?"

"Yes." Clark smiled up at Lois, obviously proud of his plan. "But you haven't answered my question, yet."

Lois smiled down at him and pretended to mull it over for a moment, "ummm…let me see…What was that question again?"

"Lois…" He said warningly

"Of course I'll marry you, you big lug head." Lois pulled Clark up from the ground and hugged and kissed him. "But, I don't have a thing to wear, all I have is what I have on now." Lois looked down in disgust at her jeans and tee shirt.

"Don't worry, I've planned everything." Clark pulled Lois down the street towards the small parish house. He knocked on the door and a gray haired old woman in her late sixties opened the door.

"Hello, Clark." She smiled and turned to look at Lois. "And this must be the beautiful young lady that you've told us so much about." She held her hand out and introduced herself to Lois, "Hello, dear, I'm Mrs. Doris Hampton."

Lois shook her hand, "Lois Lane, please to meet you, Mrs. Hampton."

"Dear, please call me Doris." Mrs. Hampton turned to Clark, "Clark, dear, everything is set up, but Reverend Hampton wanted to speak to you before the ceremony, he's in his office in the church, I'll take care of Lois."

Clark smiled at her, "Thank you, Doris. I'll leave her in your capable hands." Clark turned to Lois, "Doris will show you where you can get ready, I have a few last minute things to do, so I'll see you in the chapel in an hour." He pulled her to him, gave her a quick kiss and left her to Mrs. Hampton's care.

Doris took Lois' hand and pulled her with her. "Come in, dear, I'll show you where you can change your clothes." They walked down the hall. "I cannot tell you how happy reverend Hampton and I are to be finally meeting Clark's Lois. Every time he comes to visit all he can talk about is you and how lucky he is to have you in his life." She stopped in front of a large bedroom at the end of the hall, "Here you are, dear, you'll find your gown on the bed." Once inside the room, she pointed to one of the two doors inside, "That's the bathroom, if you want to freshen up, you'll find clean towels in the dresser by the window." Mrs. Hampton hurried to the door, "I have few last minute things to do, dear, so holler if you need anything." With that, she left Lois on her own.

Lois walked to the bed, where a garment bag was laid out, she unzipped it and inspected the dress. She smiled when she looked at the gown, it was exactly the type of gown she would have chosen. It was a cream-colored sleeveless silk gown. The bodice was tight, requiring no bra, the dress then fell from under her breasts in unpressed pleats to cascade behind her in a short train. It was breathtaking in it's simplicity. The silk veil was attached to a coronet of cream roses. The brocade shoes were dyed to match the gown and had little rose buds designed on them. Her grin widened when she saw her makeup case on the night stand table near a blue garter and bouquet of pink tinged tea roses. "He had really of thought of everything." She said aloud as her smile grew wide.

***

AN HOUR LATER, organ music filled the Mountain View chapel, as a small group of family and close friends awaited the arrival of the bride. The flickering glow of candles danced on the whitewashed stone walls and the stain glass windows, giving off a very special warmth and intimacy. The beribboned pews were mostly empty, except for the two front pews, where, Martha and Jonathan Kent, Sam Lane, Ellen Lane, Lucy Lane, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen sat. Clark turned and faced the back of the church as the wedding march, played by Doris Hampton filled the room. He caught his breath as Lois, looking breathtakingly beautiful in her wedding gown, walked down the aisle toward him. Lois looked straight ahead at Clark, "He looks so handsome in his black tuxedo," she said silently to herself, as she walked down the aisle toward her future. When she was more than halfway down the aisle, Clark walked and met her the rest of the way. He couldn't wait to have her near him, didn't want to wait. They walked toward the reverend and faced him with joined hands.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and in the face of this congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony…"

Lois and Clark turned and faced one another as the reverend's voice echoed throughout the church reciting the marriage service.

"Will you, Clark Jerome Kent, take this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep you only unto her, so long as you both shall live?"

"I will." Clark caught his breath as he noticed the love he saw reflected in Lois' eyes.

"Will you, Lois Lane, take this man to be your wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep you only unto him, so long as you both shall live?"

"I will." Lois' eyes teared up as she saw the love reflected in Clark's eyes.

Finally, the time came for the couple to exchange their vows and rings. Neither had time to write their vows down or even to practice but somehow they knew that they didn't have to. They knew that whatever words were spoken came directly from their hearts.

Clark took Lois' left hand in his. "Lois, I…"He searched for words to describe his emotions, "all my life I've felt as if something was missing…as if I was incomplete…like a part of me was out there somewhere…I think that's why I traveled around the world as I did…I was looking for it…" He smiled as he looked down at her, "The moment I came to Metropolis, I had this immense feeling that at last I was home, as if I had finally found *my* place. I couldn't understand why, that is, until I saw you for the first time. The moment I had you before me, I knew that I had found what I'd been looking for …the part of me that I always thought was missing…Call it my heart, or my soul, I just love to call it my Lois." He smiled and lifted her hand to his lips. "With you in my life and by my side I know that I'm finally whole. I love you now and forever." He took Lois' left and pulled the ring out of his pocket, "take this ring as a symbol of my love and devotion, with it I pledge my life and my love to you always." Clark slipped the gold band on Lois' finger. Lois look down at it, hardly believing that her dream had finally come true.

Lois took Clark's left hand in hers. "Clark, before I met you I had given up on true love, I thought that it only existed in fairy tales. I was wrong…" She paused a moment as she gathered her thoughts. "The moment I stopped fighting my feelings for you and took the time to notice you…" She smiled softly at him, "the *real* you, I realized that true love wasn't a myth…That in you…" Lois lifted her hand and caressed Clark's face, "my best friend, my partner, my love, my soul-mate, I had found the kind of love that people would die for, the kind of love that poets write about and fairy tales are built on." Lois lifted Clark's left hand, "I love you now and forever. Take this ring as a symbol of my love and devotion to you." She slipped the wide gold band onto Clark's ring finger, "With this ring I pledge my heart and my life to you, now and always." Lois smiled and lifted his hand to her lips, gently kissing his ring finger ,all the love she felt for Clark shone in her eyes. As she gently kissed his hand, Clark held his breath, in that instant he had forgotten how to breath, he had forgotten how to be, and he knew then that he owed his life, his existence, to the only love of his life—to Lois.

Once all the vows had been exchanged and the blessings given, the minister smiled at the couple and at the congregation and announced those long awaited words, "I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride." Clark leaned over and kissed Lois softly. It was a warm, drugging kiss, filled with gentleness and love. She sighed contentedly and wrapped her arms around his neck—in that moment nothing—no one mattered but the two of them. Clark continued to kiss her gently on her lips, her nose, her eyes. Soft, gentle caresses no heavier than dew. Reluctantly the couple broke apart, they smiled at each other before turning to face their friends and family.

After the wedding, the small group kissed Lois and Clark good-bye.

A crying Ellen Lane hugged and kissed her daughter, "Remember as soon as you get to Metropolis we are renting the biggest hall in town and throwing the biggest reception that the city has ever seen."

Laughing, Lois returned the hug. "Okay, mother."

Teary eyed Martha Kent, hugged and kissed Lois and Clark. "Be happy and treat each other well." She took both their hands in hers, giving them a silent blessing.

Perry White shook Clark's and patted him on the back, "Congratulations, son, I was beginning to doubt that we would ever see this day."

Clark returned the pat and handshake, " I know what you mean, Perry. Thanks for being here to support us."

Jimmy Olsen, kissed Lois and shook Clark's hand, "Congratulations, C.K, Congratulations, Lois."

"Thanks, Jimmy." Lois and Clark said together.

Lucy Lane, Sam Lane and Jonathan Kent also bid their happy goodbyes. The little group then lined up down the church stairs as they threw rice at the couple. Lois and Clark ran to the Jeep waiting at the curb. As the car pulled away, Ellen Lane yelled out, "I'll call the caterer as soon as I get back… we have to make sure that we can get the Swiss bell ringers and the white doves…" Lois and Clark laughed as they waved goodbye to the group.

Lois looked at Clark as he drove, "So, tell me, oh master of surprise, where are we going now?"

Clark smiled the familiar secretive smile, "Just lean back and enjoy the ride, it's a…"

Lois broke in before he could finish, "Surprise!" She laughingly finished.

***

Twenty minutes later Lois and Clark arrived at their final destination. Clark stopped the Jeep in front of a small two story cottage with a wrap-around porch. Approximately fifteen yards from the front door of the cottage stood a smoky blue lake. On the other three sides of the cottage, the trees grew thick, full of weeping willows, dark bushes, and ferns.

"Welcome to our little hideaway in the woods, Mrs. Kent." Clark announced as Lois looked around in awe, as she noticed the lush bushes and trees. "Do you like it?"

"Oh, Clark, it is absolutely beautiful."

"My grandmother left it to me, it was broken down and in desperate need of repairs, but dad and I have been fixing it for the past couple of months." He took Lois' hand in his. "It's my wedding present to you, this is the place where we can go and leave the world behind." He paused and thought back to their little stay on Spencer Spencer's island. "The place where we can go and just be Joe and Judy regular." He raised Lois' hand to his lips and kissed it.

Lois threw herself into his arms and hugged and kissed him. "I love it, I love you." She kissed him again, "Thank you, it's the best wedding present that anyone could ask for."

Clark swooped her up into his arms and made for the front door of the cabin. Lois laughed out loud and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Your palace awaits, M'lady." He unlocked the front door and carried her over the threshold. Clark set her on her feet, awaiting her opinion on the cabin. "Do you like it?" He asked anxiously.

Lois looked around her in wonder, a modern kitchen took one corner of the cottage, a small dining table with chairs stood near the kitchen area. A wall was dominated by a stone fireplace. An oak table, sofa and recliner sat in front of the fireplace. An oak bookshelf and a chest, with a mini-stereo system stood in a corner and a large hand-woven cherry red rug covered most of the wooden floor.

Lois turned and faced Clark, "It's absolutely perfect." She assured him.

She walked toward the small dining table. "I can't believe it." She gazed at the food spread on the table. A small wedding cake sat in the middle of the table, complete with a miniature bride and groom on top. Next to the cake was a bottle of champagne icing in a bucket and a bottle of red wine. Two long stemmed champagne glasses and two wine goblets stood near the bottles. The covered dishes revealed, a feast fit for a Lord and his Lady.

"Dinner is served, Mrs. Kent." Clark pulled the chair out for Lois.

"Thank you, Mr. Kent." She smiled at him and sat. They ate in relative silence as they gazed longingly into each others eyes.

After dinner, the couple opened the champagne bottle and toasted each other.

"To my beautiful bride, my love." Clark said huskily as he raised his glass to Lois.

Lois smiled and raised her glass in a toast. "To my husband, my best friend, thank you for making all my dreams come true." The couple clicked their glasses and hooked their arms together, smiling lovingly into each other's eyes as they sipped champagne from the other's glass.

"It's time to cut our wedding cake." Clark set his and Lois' glass on the table and picked up the knife near the cake. He sliced a small piece of the white icing chocolate cake. He raised the piece to Lois' mouth. She opened her mouth and accepted it, smiling she cut a piece of cake and raised it to Clark's lips. He took a small bite of the cake and put the rest back on the plate, he reached down and cupped Lois' face in his hands, he leaned down and gently brought his lips to hers. The couple kissed long and hard, before breaking apart for air. Clark looked deeply into her eyes, Lois knew exactly what he was thinking because she was thinking the same thing. Before she had a chance to make her move, Clark had walked over to the stereo and popped in a CD. Immediately, the sweet melodic voice of Natalie Cole filled the room.

Clark held his hand out to Lois as the music played. "May I have this dance."

Lois smiled and put her hand into his. "Yes, you may."

"The very thought of you.

And I forget to do.

The little ordinary things

that everyone ought to do."

Clark clasped Lois' body down the length of his. His mouth settled on hers in soft, teasing movements, lifting then briefly pressing down to tease her again, as they moved slowly to the song.

I'm living in … A kind of daydream.

I'm happy as a king.

And foolish though it may seem …

To me, that's everything."

The couple floated off the floor as the song continued to play. Lois stifled a giggle and smiled up at Clark. "What's wrong?" He asked, suddenly curious.

"Nothing," Lois ran her hand through Clark's hair, "I was just remembering the first time we air danced and you told me that *that* was dancing to you."

He smiled down at her and gently stroked her face with his hand. "Do you know that ever since you said yes to my marriage proposal my feet have felt as if they hadn't touch the ground once." She smiled and kissed the hand tracing her face.

"The mere idea of you.

The longing here for you.

You'll never know how slow …

The moments go till I'm near to you.

I see your face in every flower,

your eyes in stars above.

It's just the thought of you,

the very thought of you, my love."

Clark bent down and pressed gentle kisses on Lois face before finding her lips. He gently brought them back to the ground. The couple moved as one to the music while the sound of soothing violins and a melodic piano filled their modest cottage.

"The mere idea of you …"

Lois unbutton Clark's shirt, she reached up and pushed the shirt from his shoulders. Her hands began their sensuous quest, touching, stroking his wide chest.

"The longing here for you …"

She leaned into him and started raining kisses on his chest. He brought her face up to his, opening his mouth over hers, he kissed her hungrily, desperately, as if he couldn't get enough of her.

"You'll never know how slow …"

Not breaking the kiss, Clark reached for the zipper on Lois' dress. He slowly unzipped the back of the dress. He left her lips, and rained feather-like kisses on her neck and shoulders.

" … The moments go till I'm near to you …"

He pushed her dress off her shoulders and down her arms, he peeled the gown away until it lay in a pool at her feet. He explored her then, taking his time, slowly running his hands down her body.

"I see you face in every flower …"

He swung her up into his arms and walked towards the stairs. At the foot of the stairs he bent his head, capturing her mouth with his. Moving his mouth over hers, he coaxed her mouth to part, she deepened the kiss, sinking against him. His mouth left hers to explore the sensitive cord in her neck.

"Your eyes in stars above …"

His muscle-corded arms held her easily as he carried her up the stairs toward the bedroom. The bedroom was spacious and was dominated by a large bay window in one corner and a stone fireplace in another. The four poster bed stood in the middle of the room, the curved headboard, straight foot-board and four dramatic pencil posts with its garden patch puff quilt looked inviting and comfortable.

"It's just the thought of you …"

Clark carried Lois inside to the bed. She pulled his body toward her and he covered her with his body. Raising her chin, he kissed her fully, passionately, holding nothing back. He opened her mouth with his and felt her shudder. Her hands and mouth moved freely over him as she whispered, "*my* love."

"The very thought of you … My love …"

***

Just before dawn pinked the sky, Lois awoke. She felt cold. She tried to snuggle up next to Clark's body, but he was gone. She opened her eyes and looked around the room searching for him. She made out his figure on the window seat in front of the bay window. He was slouched with his eyes closed. Lois pulled the sheet bunched up at the end of the bed around her and walked toward him. "Clark?" There was no answer. She walked up to him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Clark?" She repeated.

His eyes suddenly opened and he smiled at her as he reached with one hand, and pulled her into his lap.

"What are you doing way down here?" She arranged herself on his lap, leaning back into his body, as he wrapped his arm around her waist. "I was cold."

He tightened his hold on her as she snuggled closer to his body, seeking his warmth. "I was just sitting here looking at the sun about to rise over the lake and thinking of how lucky and happy I am at this moment." He squeezed her gently.

She titled her head back and kissed him softly on the lips. "I know what you mean…I never thought… never dreamed that anyone could possibly be as happy as I am," she smiled at him, "as *we* are at this moment." She snuggled closer to his body

They held each other for a moment, enjoying the scenery as they thought about the past, about what they had learned but most importantly, they looked forward to their future. Lois was the first to break the silence. "Awaiting the rising of a new day…" She gently rubbed the arms that held her, "Our first full day of married life together, isn't it just beautiful." She told him in a tone full of awe.

"Yes, beautiful." He said huskily, but he wasn't looking at the scenery, he was looking at the woman snuggled in his arms. He brought her left hand to his lips and kissed her ring finger.

"I can't believe how many times and how close we came to missing out on this happiness. I was beginning to think that we would never be together." Lois reflected morosely, as she remembered all the roadblocks that they had to overcome to reach this point.

"I would never have let that happen, Lois," Clark kissed the top of her head, "after finding you, do you really think that I would ever let anything take you away from me? That I would let you out of my life without a fight?"

Lois stroked her cheek on his shoulder, "Crazed billionaires turned psychopaths, frog eating clones, amnesia, unethical doctors, and an obsessed, crazed, hormone driven shrew with delusions of grandeur. I think we more than earned our happiness." She laughed as she listed the many obstacles that they had to overcome.

"None of that matters now, it's all in the past. Thankfully." He placed his chin on top her head and squeezed her gently as he gently rocked her.

"Yes, in the past." She whispered. Lois leaned back and lifted her lips for a kiss. The two shared a long kiss, before breaking apart.

They sat silently as they watched the sun rise over the lake.

Clark broke the silence. "You never told me what you thought of my little surprise, was it worth it?"

Lois turned around on Clark's lap to face him, she laughed, slid her hand around his neck, "I'll let you know in forty or fifty years," she brought her lips to his as the sheet she held fell slowly to the floor.

***

EPILOGUE

Somewhere under the bright sun of Monte Carlo, Francesca Hathaway waited for the phone call that would never come. Dreaming of seeing the face of a daughter she would never ever see again as she could never again step on Metropolis soil. If by chance she would have dared, she would immediately find herself behind grey bars at the Metropolis county jail. So, on this day, all Francesca could do was pray. Pray to goddesses who now refused to answer. All that was left were tears of bitterness for the lonely, luxury deprived life that awaited her.

"Someday…" she whispered. A simple word but one that carried the promise of calamity.

THE END

"Characters in this story are based on the television series "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It is copyrighted by December 3rd Production, Warner Brothers, and ABC. No infringement is intended in any part by the author(s), however, the ideas expressed within this story are copyrighted to the author(s)."

Songs: "So In Love" By: Cole Porter

"The Very Thought Of You" By: Ray Noble

(spade.txt)