By J.K.D. (LandC14@aol.com)
Summary: Superman suffers when villains cook up a new flavor of kryptonite.
Flying, up as high as the clouds are, nobody can tell what or who you are. You could be a bird, or a plane, or a young man in red tights. Or, you could be a handsome star reporter, who happens to also be that young man in red tights.
Clark was getting the slightest bit annoyed. For split- seconds, he'd think about turning in his cape. And, this was because he kept getting false alarms.
When you're a super-hero, you can't ignore a call, simply because it could be a prank. There's too much at stake. People's lives, and your reputation to name a few. When Clark had been talking to Lois, trying to get another date, he had heard a scream. But, for all he knew, when he got there, he might just look silly. It was a risk he'd have to take.
He stopped at the area where the scream had originated. The area was deserted. Clark walked around a second, and found a tape-recorder, hiding in a shrub. That was what had been making those screams!
He kept walking forward, hoping for the person who had set this up. He had walked not very long, when he got struck with a spell of dizziness. He fell over, and down.
Lois sighed, as she sat at her desk. Where had that man gone to? Lois was now getting used to him leaving with really bad excuses. But, he was never gone that long. Lois wondered if the mail had yet to be delivered, and Clark had just wanted to get away from her. She quickly dismissed that idea. It made no sense. He had been trying to get another date with her.
They'd been dating for awhile now, and Lois was really enjoying it. She thought Clark had been too, until last week …
They had decided to go out to dinner. He had picked her up in a rented car, to be precise, a rented Mercedes Benz in dark red. They had gone to a fancy Italian restaurant. They had been seated, and had given their orders, when Clark had gotten that look on his face.
"What is it now, Clark?" she had asked him.
"I just remembered that I left my wallet at home … "
"I can pay," she protested, weakly.
"I don't want you to. This is my treat," he told her. He excused himself, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "I'll be back before you know it."
And he was. Lois had only gotten a drink of water in her mouth, and he was back. But, he didn't look as happy. His brow was furrowed, and he seemed to be trying very hard to simmer down something, or other …
A few minutes later, Clark had brightened. And, their food came. He appeared ravenous. He ate his chicken parmigana easily. Lois had had raviolies in a marinara sauce. Lois had a little wine, and so did Clark. Their date had been great that night, except for that little run- off, and Lois had never wanted it to end.
They'd had another date that Tuesday (it was now Friday). They had gone and played laser tag. Clark had won all of the games that they had played. It was 7:30 p.m. Lois suggested they stop at Lyon's for a moment, or some little restaurant like that. Clark had teased, and asked her if she wanted to do that for the French Cherry Cheesecake that they were serving that night. Lois had laughed.
They had just been seated at Lyon's, when Clark got that look on his face.
"Clark, you can't. We just got here." she pleaded. Clark shook his head, softly.
"But, what did you possibly forget? It wasn't your wallet."
"My house keys."
"But, wouldn't they be inside?"
"No, I hide a set outside."
"And, you wouldn't be able to find them later?"
"It will be dark. Lois, I've really got to go," he said. He got up, and was gone.
Lois had begun eating her cherry cheesecake when Clark came back in. He looked upset and sick. Lois had looked at him with concern.
"Are you okay, Clark?"
"Yes," he answered, shortly. He said it with such an air, Lois ceased talking. They had gone home in silence.
But, on Wednesday, he had seemed totally fine, and had so till today. Lois was beginning to worry. How long did it take to pick up a cheese sampler?
Just as she started worrying, Clark came back in. But he did not look good. He was as white as a ghost, and he looked like he was trying to hide something. Lois went over to him.
"Clark, I think you should take the rest of the day off."
"Why?" he asked, almost absentmindedly. He began going through a pile of papers held together by a paper clip.
"You're as white as a ghost."
"Lois, it's nothing," he told her. He found what he wanted, took out his cell phone, and dialed up a number. Seemingly, it was busy, because he quickly put the phone away. Lois continued:
"Are you sure you're okay? What are you hiding?" she asked. Clark looked up. He couldn't tell her what was going on, because he'd have to tell her he was Superman. He wasn't ready for that.
He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "Nothing is wrong, Lois," he told her, calmer.
"But, you're still white," she protested.
"It's nothing." he reassured her. She didn't give up that easily.
"Why did it take you so long to pick up your sampler?"
"The delivery guy was late."
"Why do you always leave?" she asked, frustration rising slightly in her voice.
"Lois, for this last week, I really don't know," he told her, almost sadly. Lois walked to her own desk, turned on her computer, and finished typing her story. Across the way, she could see Clark typing, too. But, while she was typing quickly, in frustration, he was typing slower than usual …
"Hi, Clark. What's wrong?" Clark's mom's friendly voice rang cheerily on the other side of the phone line. Clark cleared his throat.
"For the past few days, I've been getting prank calls for help. Today, there was a scream, and when I got there, there was a tape recorder."
"Is that all?"
"I'm not done, yet. I fell."
"Mom, I started walking around today, to see if I could find whoever was doing this. The area looked deserted, but I decided to try, anyhow. I hadn't been walking very long, when I began to feel dizzy, and I fell."
"Are you sure?"
"Mom, when I woke up, I was 10 feet under the pavement."
"Well, I don't know what to tell you."
"I figured you wouldn't. Good-bye," he said, and hung up. He went and sat down on his white sofa. Actually, he lay down. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. Then, he closed them, and thought of what had happened on Tuesday.
When he had sat down at Lyon's, he had heard what appeared to be a fire alarm. He had rushed to it, and found no fire, and no alarm. And, no people. There weren't any families who lived in that area; it had been long abandoned.
He had started to look for the bad guy, when he felt like he was going to faint. He had quickly flown away, and felt somewhat better in a few minutes.
He wondered what in the world was causing this. Not the prank calls, but this fatigue. He wondered if it had something to do with kryptonite, and quickly dismissed the idea. Kryptonite only made him feel bad when he was around it. When he had flown off, so should of these symptoms.
He stopped thinking, and let his mind wander. It was still rather early; only a little after 10:00 pm. But, after a moment, Clark was already asleep.
The man sat next to his associates in a dimly lit bar. He did not look well. The last 20 years in jail had left him white, and thin, with a gray goatee, and a gray head of hair. He still had on what used to be his old jail pants. He had washed out the stripes.
"Well, what do you have?" asked one of his associates, a tall man in his mid-40's, with dark brown hair, and slantingly black eyes.
"This, Bill." answered the man in reply. He pulled out a lead box, and opened it. Inside, was a chunk of rock. It looked almost like kryptonite, but instead of a bright red or green, it was a bright blue.
"What is it, Tex?" the other associate asked the guy who held the lead box. He was younger than the rest; in his early 30's. He was handsomer, too: he had dark brown curls that framed dark brown eyes, and tanned skin.
Tex coughed, roughly, before speaking. "It's blue kryptonite."
"I thought kryptonite only came in red and green," said Bill.
"Well, this was once green kryptonite. When I spent those 20 years in that prison cell, I made a formula. When placed on regular kryptonite, it makes it blue."
"Is that it?" asked the younger guy, whom was named Joel.
"No. What it does is weaken Superman, like regular kryptonite. But, unlike regular, it stays with him, staying longer depending on how long the two are in contact. And, it's stronger."
"How do you know it's stronger, Tex?" asked Bill.
"I put out another one of those false alarms on Friday. He came in, as usual. I waited for him to find the tape recorder, as I sat behind a bush close by. When he found it, I opened my little lead box. He fainted, and went 10 feet past the pavement!"
"Could this kill him?" asked Bill, with excitement.
"Of course. It just needs to be around Superman longer, and that's where you come in, Joel."
"What do you mean?" asked Joel.
"Joel, I'm going to put this bluntly. Now, we've established that Superman is indeed Clark Kent. So, I want you to go to work at the 'Daily Planet', and try to get a relationship going with Lois Lane. In the meanwhile, you'll have this, and I want you to be in the same room as Clark a lot, so that he gets the full strength of it. In a month, or less he'll be dead."
"Can't you do it? Or, Bill?"
"I won't live long enough. And, I'm having Bill do important work for me in Reno."
"But, if you're dead, what will it matter to you if Superman is, also?"
"That's not quite right. I've injected myself with a fluid, and in about a month I will wake up. Then, I want Superman gone. So that the fun can begin."
"Just think." interjected Bill. "We could commit any crime in the book, here in Metropolis, without Mr. Tights coming to save the day."
"We can rob Tiffany's, and sell the jewelry we get from there!" replied Tex. Joel appeared uneasy.
"Why do I have to start up a relationship with Miss Lois Lane?" asked Joel.
"The sooner they fall hopelessly in love (without intervention), the sooner Mr. Goody Two-Shoes tells Lois that he's you-know-who. And, after that, Lois will figure out that there's this blue rock in the room, and Superman won't be dead when I'm back."
"Now, go!" said Bill. Tex coughed, roughly, again. Joel looked at them.
"What? Look at how I'm dressed! I can't go in there dressed in jeans and a torn tee-shirt," he told them. Tex handed him a pair of tan Dockers, and a white top, with a black blazer.
"Now, see that bathroom over there? Go change!" commanded Bill. Joel ran. When he came back, he looked quite good. But, worried.
He kept trying to find loopholes in this plan. It had been fun setting the false alarms, but he had known that that wouldn't seriously hurt him. Now, Joel was scared. He didn't really want to hurt anyone.
"What about a resume?" asked Joel. Tex pulled out two typed papers. The first page listed that he had gone to school at Yale, and that he had worked at the New York Times for a few years, and then at U.S.A. Today. Joel looked at the other two.
"What in the world? My name ain't Thomas Johnson."
"It is now," said Tex, quietly.
"And, the word is isn't. Ain't ain't a word," said Bill.
"What if I say I don't want to do it?" asked Joel.
"You die, without injection of my special fluid," said Tex. Joel sighed, and caught sight of his dirty white high tops, peeking from under his Dockers.
"What about shoes?"
"Here," said Bill. He gave Joel a pair of men's black dress shoes. Joel put them on.
"Why'd you change my name?" Joel persisted.
"The police would read the paper, and go: 'Hey, didn't he break out from jail?', and we'd all be goners ."
"But, I didn't hurt anyone. Why did you pick me for this job?"
"Because you're the only criminal who even comes close to a writer. You have to be able to write a good story, what with all the recommendations we got you." said Tex.
"These." said Tex, and pulled out a pile of papers. One was from a Professor John Milton at Yale. Another was from Mr. Andrew Jason, the boss at U.S.A Today.
Joel sighed. He was almost beaten. He decided to try once more.
"Won't Superman notice that I'm walking around the newsroom with a big lead box?"
"It doesn't matter what size the kryptonite is. It just depends how close it is. If you're always by Lois, you'll always be by him. As for the lead box, you can fit this little baby in your breast pocket." said Tex, and he pulled out a really small lead box. Inside it was a small piece of blue kryptonite.
"Now go!" ordered Bill. Joel got up, ran a comb through his curls, and made his way over to 'The Daily Planet'.
"Is your pen name John Webberly?" asked Perry, from inside his office. Lois was mercilessly eavesdropping, forgetting for a second about Clark, forgetting how pale he had looked on their date on Sunday, though he hadn't seemed angry. Forgetting how Clark hadn't come in today, saying he was sick.
"Huh?" asked the young man behind Perry's desk. He seemed to be around Lois' age, and he was pretty cute. Almost as cute as Clark was, when he was healthy, but not quite.
"What I mean is, I've read that book, and it's by John Webberly."
"You mean 'Killer County'?"
"Well, it is my pen name."
"Okay, okay. Good recommendations. And, you've done a lot for a 34 year old. Though you haven't spent much time at any job … " he trailed off. Joel tried to look bright.
"Well, I don't like staying in one city very long. I never moved as a kid, and now that I'm an adult, I just can't stand staying, usually. But, here I think I might." Joel made up his little personal stories quickly in his mind, and they came out easily. He just pretended that this was a story he was writing. Joel had actually typed up some stories on his laptop before his arrest. And, they were still waiting to be printed on the floppy disk in his pocket.
"Well, I think I'll give you a shot. You can start work today," Perry was finishing. Joel tried to look excited.
"By any chance, is Miss Lois Lane here? And, her partner?"
"Lois is here, but Clark ain't here. He told me he had the flu," said Perry. Joel looked at his new boss, before exiting.
"It's isn't, Boss. Ain't ain't a word," he told him, and was out the door.
Lois, in the meanwhile, had ran off to her desk when she had felt that the conversation was about to end. Now, she sat on her desk, and pretended to hang up on some person on her cell phone, as the new guy came close.
"Hi, Miss Lane. I'm a new journalist," said Joel
"I overheard you in Perry's office. But, I didn't catch your name."
"I'm Thomas, but you can call me Tom. As for age, I think I'm around your age."
"I'm only 27," Lois protested.
"How old do I look, Miss Lane?" he replied, a pleasant smile on his face.
"Well, you don't look 34." she told him.
"Would you like to go on a date, Miss Lane?"
"It's Lois." Lois said mechanically.
"I'm kind of involved with somebody," she protested.
"Oh, come on. Just one little date? I bet you he won't mind."
Especially if he doesn't know, thought Lois. Then she thought that he probably wouldn't run off like Clark. She pasted a smile on her face.
"Sure. I have a car. Don't worry about picking me up."
"What type of car?"
"A hot red Ferarri. I'll pick you up at 7:00 pm" he said, and left.
The day soon ended. It was 5:00 pm, a relatively early time for Lois to go home. But, she wasn't going home quite yet. She made a detour to Clark's apartment, to check up on him.
She knocked on his door. "Just a second, Lois." Clark called out. Lois had to wonder how he knew it was her.
Then, he came to the door, and opened it. He had on a pair of dark blue jeans, and a white sweatshirt. In one hand he held a cup of coffee. But, Lois hardly noticed his outfit. She just noticed how pale he looked. ˇHe was too pale.
"Why are you here?" asked Clark.
"To check up on my partner. To see if he's feeling better." she told him with a smile. He smiled back.
"I'm feeling better. But, why are you really here?" he said.
"Just for that. And, to tell you that I won't be home tonight." she said.
"Why?" asked Clark, almost seeming to study her.
"Since you're sick, I made a plan to go out with a friend."
"Oh, okay. Have fun." said Clark. Lois looked at her watch.
"I should get going. 'Bye!" she told him. He nodded, waved, and closed the door. Lois began to walk off.
7:00 pm quickly came. Lois found Tom wearing a pair of black pants, a black blazer, and a dark red shirt. Lois wore a dark red dress, with short sleeves, and a knee-length flared skirt. The two went out.
Lois nearly lost her breath when she saw his Ferarri. It had leather interior, a folded down roof, and a Cd player. Tom behaved like a gentleman, and let her in first. Then, he got in, and stared the car.
"You must have tons of money," Lois told him, as they coasted down the highway.
"No, but I have a maxed-out credit card," he told her with a laugh. They stopped at Martinelli's. They were seated at a fancy table, and almost to Lois' surprise, he stayed for the whole dinner. And, the whole movie they went to see next. Finally, they went dancing. And, during a slow song, while she was in Tom's arms, she wondered if she had found her Romeo …
Clark made his way in to the crowded newsroom on that Tuesday. There was color back on his cheeks, and he had a better outlook on the whole entire turning in the cape idea. There hadn't been any false alarms all weekend. There hadn't even been any calls for help on Monday. There was even a smile on his face.
But, he lost his smile, as he went to sit down at his desk. Lois was kissing another guy. Clark sat down his briefcase, and went over to the two.
The young man, with dark curls, and dark eyes looked vaguely familiar to Clark, but he couldn't place it. He waited for the kiss to finish, and that guy to walk away. He tried to smile, but couldn't. He was beginning to feel bad again …
Lois whirled around, and tried to smile brightly at Clark. She obviously knew that he knew. "HI, Clark. Feeling better?"
"Enough to go to work. Who's he?"
"Oh him? That's just an old friend, who started work here. You know how some people kiss their friends when they are seeing them again, after awhile?"
"No friends kiss their friends like that, even if they're best friends. That looked like a good-night sort of kiss. Is that the friend you went out with on Friday night?"
"Yes." she replied, surprised that Clark had picked that up so quickly.
"Okay." he told her with a shrug. He walked back to his own desk, keeping his feelings hidden. But, thoughts were filling up his mind. Did she like him? Did she like him better than Super man? Did she like him better than Clark? Clark could answer that last question. She probably did. This guy didn't look like the type who'd run off in the middle of a date. Then again, most people didn't have the reason he did, but she didn't know that reason. And, Clark thought sadly, she probably never would …
Lois watched Clark's desk. He seemed sad, and still sick. Lois wished he hadn't seen the two of them kiss. He'd probably be better, then. Then, her mind began to wonder, as she sat there, in front of the empty screen of her laptop.
She'd really had fun on her date last night with Tom. As a matter of fact, they already had another date planned. But, it hadn't been the magic that Lois had experienced on her date with Clark.
Oh, who was the right guy? Was it Clark? Was it Tom? Was it, even, Superman? Or, perhaps it was some guy living in Japan.
Lois thought it might be fun to be married to Clark, someday. But, she could just imagine herself going in to labor. He'd get that funny look on his face, tell her he had a pizza to pick up, or something like that, and be gone. You couldn't build a life on that.
Lois was starting to really like Tom. He never ran out on their date, even though it was only their first. He might not have the magic Clark did, but he was good. Lois remembered her mother telling her : 'The right guy might not always be the best. You might feel fireworks, but he might also be the type to kill innocent children.'
Lois took herself away from her thoughts. She didn't know where Tom was, and Clark was coming towards her. She waited for a second, and found that he wasn't there. He was lying on the floor. He had fainted!
Clark opened his eyes a few moments later, to find Lois looking back in to them, worry written across her face. Clark thought that a t least she still cared for him. That made him feel slightly better.
He tried to get up. It should've been easy. I mean, at least he hadn't fallen through the floor like before. But, he couldn't get himself to get up. Finally, still lying down, he spoke :
"Lois? Do me a favor?" he asked her. Lois looked at him, slight relief crossing her face. He was awake!
"What is it, Clark?"
"I know this might sound kind of weird, but could you look over behind that chair, and see if anyone's hiding?" he asked. He pulled himself up in to a sitting position. He had an idea : that somebody was hiding, with some special "I can kill Superman" charm.
Lois looked behind the chair he had vaguely pointed to. She was surprised to see Tom at the other end, he just as surprised as she.
"What are you doing over there?"
"Just relaxing. Why does it matter?"
"Good. Just don't tell Clark. I'm kind of embarrassed."
"I understand." she told him. She went back to Clark, whom was still white.
"Well?" he asked from where he was, sitting against a table leg. Lois felt a little bad about lying, but not really.
"There wasn't anyone."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Why did you ask me to look?"
"I was just curious. Thanks." he told her. He tried to pull himself up, and for some odd reason, couldn't. Lois began to look worried, again.
"Clark! Can you get up?" she asked him.
"I think so." he said, and on his third try, was standing up. " Maybe I shouldn't have come in to work today."
"That's okay, son." came Perry's voice. He came in through the door of his office. "I would've come; I saw you faint. But, my door was jammed."
"It's okay, Chief, honest. Where's Jimmy?" asked Clark.
"He's at a funeral. He had an old uncle that died." Lois and Clark looked at each other. This was the first they had heard.
"Was he okay?"
"Oh, he was fine. Never really liked his uncle. It was something his mother required from over in New York. He should be back tomorrow. Now, Clark, you go home." Perry finished, and went back in to his office, closing the door behind him.
Lois looked at Clark again. "What is wrong? I've known you for a year and a half, now, and this is the first time you've ever been sick."
"I'm probably just coming down with a really bad virus. I guess I should go home."
"Can you make it home walking?" she asked. Clark didn't own a car, for reasons he didn't tell her. Really, it was because : when you can fly, who needs a car?
"Yeah, I think. Are you going on another date with whoever he is?"
Clark shook his head softly. He seemed very sad. "Well, have fun. 'Bye." he told her, and he was gone.
Three weeks passed. Tom and Lois' relationship got thicker, while Clark got sicker. He'd be fine in the morning, but later on he'd feel really weak. He didn't tell anyone.
It was another bright Tuesday. Clark came in, and sadly found no surprise in seeing Lois and Tom (as he had found out his name) strolling, and laughing, and kissing … a lot. He made his way in to Perry's office.
Perry put down his phone. "Clark, you don't look very good."
"I don't feel all that great, either." Clark replied.
"I think you should take some time off."
"I was kind of thinking of … leaving." Clark told him. Perry shook his head.
"Look at Lois and Tom. Can't you tell?"
"But, you're our best! I can't lose you."
"I think that Lois is better."
"I think, son, that you have beaten her. You know, I could just take you two off from being partners."
"It's too hard."
"Darn. Well, if you want to leave Clark, you can. At any rate, I want you at home, in bed, and a doctors check-up coming to you, for now."
"Okay, Chief." he said, and left the building. He made his way to his apartment, feeling horrible, and sad. He didn't want to talk to his parents : they couldn't really help. So, he just lay down on his couch.
He knew he'd miss Lois, but no matter what he did, he'd miss Lois. And, if he left, his disease (or whatever it was) might go away. But, he just had an unpleasant feeling about it, like he'd miss out on something great by leaving.
He wasn't sure, yet, and decided to take a quick cat nap on it. He closed his eyes, and peacefully began to fall in to a deep sleep.
Lois looked deeply in to Tom's dark brown eyes. They glistened from behind the candle on their table, at Chez Maurice (which was the French restaurant they were at).
Tom smiled, and began to look almost uneasy. Like he was hiding something, but Lois dismissed that idea. This was her Romeo. He is perfect, she thought, dreamily.
Suddenly, there was the sound of gunshot. There was a criminal in the restaurant! Lois saw the man. He was tall, and pudgy, wearing a pair of dark pants, and a dark trench coat. A pair of sunglasses covered his eyes. Lois had no idea who he was, but the crook obviously knew who she was, because he ran towards her, gun held in his right hand, his finger on the trigger.
Tom, figuring out what was going on, ran in front of Lois, who had begun to stand up. It was in vain, because the man just pushed Tom away, and he fell to the floor. A little lead box fell out of his breast pocket A woman screamed …
Lois kept that little box in her mind, but didn't have the time to ponder that, now. The man was quickly approaching, while she backed away. She was getting close to the open window.
Lois felt a burst of wind at her back. She knew Superman was there. And, sure enough, he was, though he didn't look as well as usual. He looked like he had caught the same thing as Clark.
Superman calmly took the gun out of the guy's hand, and snapped it in two, like a twig. The man looked frightened, but did not give up that easily. He began punching Superman in the stomach. His hand bounced off. He tried again. This time, Superman caught his hand.
"You know, that really isn't a good idea." Superman told him, holding the arm. He led him to a police officer. Everyone ran out in a panic, except Lois (even Tom left). She was the only one to see Superman fall; out of strength, out of energy …
Clark opened his eyes, saw Lois worrying over him, and a feeling of deja' vu' swept over him. He tried to smile reassuringly at Lois.
"Superman! Are you okay? You look like you have what Clark does."
Clark pulled himself up in to a sitting position. "Lois, we need to talk." he told her. He flew her to his apartment.
He sat her down, and tried unsuccessfully to get some color in his cheek. Finally, he gave up.
"Why are we here?" asked Lois from her seat on Clark's white sofa.
"I need to tell you something."
"Wait! Me first."
"What is it?"
"I was on a date with a guy, Superman, and it wasn't Clark. Anyway, when that guy came along, he, let's call him 'Will', tried to protect me. 'Will' ran in front of me. But, the guy pushed him away. 'Will' fell over, and from his breast pocket fell a tiny lead box."
"Which could've had kryptonite in it … "
"Yeah. I never knew." she told him. She didn't want Superman angry at her.
"It's not your fault. Now, back to what I was saying, I'll be back in a second." he told her, and walked off. Clark returned in his 'Clark' clothes, completely surprising Lois.
"Clark! I had no idea you were home! Superman just dropped me off, and then he left." she told him. Clark shook his head, softly.
"Lois, Superman hasn't left."
"Then, where is he?" asked Lois. Clark sighed. That special kryptonite, whatever it was, didn't make him feel good at all. Not that telling Lois would be easy, no matter how he felt.
"Lois, he's right in front of you." he told her. Lois got the picture immediately, but wasn't sure.
"You're joking, right Clark?"
"I'm dead serious," he replied. He silently added that was also what he might be very soon. Dead.
"Is that why you've run off on all of our dates?"
"Yep. Calls for help. I couldn't ignore them."
"I understand. But, why didn't you tell me before?"
"Come on, Lois. When I first got here you said that Superman was a Greek god. Who can compete with that, especially when you tell that person that he's a hick? And, later, we started dating. But, I didn't know if you felt the same way for me as you did for my alter ego."
"So, that lead box might be why you've been sick, right?"
"Right. Are you okay with this?"
"Yes! To think, I spent so much time wondering if I was more suited for Clark or Superman. Now, changing the subject, how do you feel?"
"Not very well." he confessed. Lois looked at him in worry.
"Will you be okay?" she asked him.
"I honestly don't know."
"Well, if this will make you feel better, I'm leaving Tom."
"Good. Why?" asked Clark, as he sat down across from Lois on his sofa.
"I don't want to stay with a guy who'd try to kill Superman. I'm sorry I was with him before."
"It's not your fault. I can see it. I wasn't around, he was cute, and he wasn't leaving you."
"But still … " Lois protested.
"It's nothing. Let's try to figure out what is causing this." he told her.
"Well, we know who." said Lois.
"But, we don't know what."
"Doesn't it have to be kryptonite?"
"No. Usually, with kryptonite, I feel bad only when I'm near it. I'm not near anything now, and I still feel bad."
"Could it be kryptonite and something else?"
"That was what I was thinking. Kryptonite mixed with something else. I don't know what, though."
"I could ask Tom about it."
"He might be a criminal, but that doesn't mean he made it. He seems too young to have perfected something." said Clark from his spot.
"So he might have an accomplice?"
"Or, more than one." replied Clark.
"At any rate, I'll talk to him."
"He still might be dangerous."
"I could handle it, Clark. I won't let him know that I hate his guts, now." she told him. She cuddled up next to Clark, and kissed him. The pinkish-tan color that usually colored his face was failing to return. He coughed.
"I don't think I'll go in to work tomorrow." said Clark, thoughtfully.
Lois nodded. "Yeah. I don't think he knows that I saw. He'll probably still have it."
"Can you get any information, if he has any, without getting hurt?" he asked, concerned, though he was the one close to dying, right now. Lois thought it was sweet.
Lois put Ňon her best reassuring smile. "Sure. Like I said, I can handle him." she told him. The two kissed. The, Lois went home, worrying about Clark.
Tex spoke to Joel (whom, as you know, was Tom). He did look like he had been dead for 3 weeks, but he was alive now.
"Did you do your work? Is Mr. Tights dead?" asked Tex. Joel looked up at the early morning sun. He'd have to get in to work soon. It was Wednesday, that day after Lois had found out.
Sweat poured down Joel's face. "Well, no."
"What do you mean no?"
"He's very close. I just need to be near him one last time."
"I'll give you one last chance. If he ain't dead tomorrow, you will be, I guarantee." he said with a smile. He walked off.
Joel pulled out a handkerchief, and wiped the sweat from his brow. Then, he set off for work.
Lois tried to look good, as she saw Tom come in. Tom noticed her, and plastered a smile on his face. He ran to her.
They kissed. Lois no longer liked it, but would deal with it to save Clark. They pulled away from their kiss.
"Is our date on, still?" Tom asked.
"Of course, since now you're the only guy in my life, Romeo." Lois lied.
"What about Clark, or Superman?"
"Super-who? Oh, him. I don't know about Superman, but Clark should be here in a few days." she said, and added silently : Not that you'll be, partner.
Tom smiled. "Okay. Why don't we go right after work?"
"Sure! If, you'll tell me your secret." Lois lowered her voice at 'secret'. Tom (or Joel) began to look nervous. Small beads of perspiration fell on his forehead.
"What secret?" he tried to ask innocently. Lois leaned closer to him, putting her knees on her chair, while Tom was standing on the other side of her desk.
"You know, that little lead box."
"Don't play dumb with me, cowboy. I saw that little lead box get thrown from your pocket. Now, tell me. What was in it? Was it kryptonite?"
"Do you care about Superman?"
Lois laughed. "No. I want him dead." she lied. Joel bought it. He led her to an abandoned little side room, and closed the door. He removed the little lead box (which was about the size of a box you'd get earrings in) from his breast pocket. He sat it down on the table. Then, he sat Lois down on a chair facing the table. He stayed standing, and cleared his throat before speaking.
"You sort of guessed right, my love." he told her. He opened the little box. Inside was a sliver of what appeared to be blue kryptonite, becau %se it was blue, but otherwise it looked exactly like kryptonite.
"This, my darling Juliet, is what my friend invented when he was in jail for 20 years. It's regular old kryptonite, but on the top of it is a chemical liquid of some sort. It makes the kryptonite a heck of a lot stronger, and it makes it so that Superman always feels bad if he's been in contact long enough with it. As a matter of fact, when I see Superman again, and I have this little baby, he will die, swiftly!" now, Joel was putting on the charade of really wanting to kill Superman.
"Is that why he looked bad at the restaurant?"
"Precisely, mademoiselle. And, now, let's go off to lunch, my love." Lois decided to end the charade. She had what she needed. She picked up the little lead box before he could.
"Think again, Bub." she told him. Tom (or Joel) turned around.
"You heard me. I don't want to date you. You tried to kill Superman, whom I know that you know is Clark. I don't even want to be in the same room as you."
Joel decided to try and act like a tough guy, like Tex. "Think again, Lois. Superman is in no shape to catch me, and the police will never believe you."
"They will when I give them this." she told him, and took out, with a flourish, her little tape recorder, from inside of her pocket. Joel started sweating like crazy.
"You can't use that! I didn't consent!" he replied, anger and embarrassment rising up, making his face red. Lois smiled, slyly.
"I don't care if you consented or not. The police consented for you! I talked to the police around midnight, telling them what I suspected. They gave me the go-ahead." she told him. Joel looked pitiful.
"Now Tom," she continued "what is your real name?"
"Joel Stevens. Why does that sound so familiar?" she muttered, half to herself.
"You should know." Joel hinted.
"Don't tell me — Me and Clark did a story on you, last year. Now I remember. You must've escaped from jail."
Joel nodded. "Uh-huh. Are you still taping me?"
"Okay, then let me say something for myself. I didn't actually break out. That other guy, he broke me out for me."
"By, the way, who is that other guy?"
"I don't know his real name. His nickname's Tex. He's old, and gray-haired. He's dead."
"So, why are you telling me what he looks like? I can't make a citizen's arrest on a corpse." Lois told him.
"He was dead. He also injected himself with something else, and now he's alive."
"What in the world?"
"I'm serious." replied Joel. Lois caught a look on his face. He might have been lying about his whole past life for the past three weeks, but he was being honest, now. Lois sighed.
"I need to have him arrested, as much as you need to be. But, I can't go up to a police officer, and go : 'Hey, I'm looking for this old criminal. He's called Tex. Yes, and he's dead, too. Well, he was … '! They'd haul me off!"
"But, you could have Bill arrested."
"Wait up. Who the heck is Bill?"
"He's the third guy." replied Joel, his face as pale as Clark's had been earlier.
"What third guy?"
"The other partner. He's around 50, and his name's Bill. I think he acts as Tex's secretary."
"And, you? Why did he 'hire' you?" asked Lois, her curiosity piqued.
"In order to get Superman dead, there needed to be a lot of contact between him and the kryptonite. Tex figured that would only work if there was somebody working at the 'Planet' near him. He picked me, 'cuz I'm supposedly a good writer. I don't know 'bout that part, but he said he needed someone who could pull off the part of a journalist."
"And, you took the job because?"
"He offered me a hundred grand. And, he'd break me out of jail. I couldn't pass it up."
Then, Joel came a bit closer to Lois :
"But, I promise you, Miss Lane. I never wanted to hurt you, or Superman."
"Then why did you?"
"When he let me out, Tex told me that he'd just be having a little fun. You know, pulling false alarms. It didn't put anyone in danger, so I went along with it. Later, he brought up that whole entire 'blue kryptonite' concept. He told me if I didn't do it, I'd be dead meat."
"So, you didn't want to get yourself hurt, either." she finished for him. Joel nodded.
"Right. Now, go on. Call your cops. Do your worst." he told her. Lois took out her cell phone, and began to punch out a number.
"Do you want to say some last words to me, before I get you in jail?" she asked, putting her hand over the receiver.
"Only one. And, this is sincere. I, Miss Lane, have always had a crush on you." he told her. Lois looked at him. He was being sincere.
A couple of days ago, Lois would've appreciated the flattery. But, now, all she could think of was how sick Clark was, and how this guy was about to kill him. Nothing he could say could make her forgive him about that. She nodded, and finished dialing up the number.
"Hello, police? This is Lois Lane, here. I've found the culprit. One Mr. Joel Stevens." said Lois. She took a look at Joel, and saw him even paler than Clark had been. Good, she thought …
Clark looked in to Lois' dark brown eyes from across the table. The firelight in the candle was reflecting in them, and in her dark blue dress, she looked positively breathtaking. Clark had to smile.
It was eight days later. Joel was filling out his 6 year term in prison, and Clark was feeling much, much better. Lois smiled back at him.
"So, do you think I make as a good of a date as Tom does? I know that I don't have a red Ferarri … " said Clark.
"You're much better than Tom ever was. How many times have I told dyou I'm sorry for going out with him?"
"That makes it about a hundred." he told her. She giggled, and pushed a lock of raven hair behind her ear, to show her new silver hoops.
"Well, I want you to know that I've meant it every single time." she told him. She took a sip from her champagne glass. Clark smiled.
"I know. You've said that about a hundred times, also." he told her. She laughed again, leaned over, and kissed him on the lips.
"Well, how many times have I done that, Superman?" she asked.
"Not enough." he told her. The two finished their meals, and then Lois was flown up in to the night sky, via Superman. The two held a long kiss, just floating in space.