By Barbara (Bml44@aol.com)
Summary: Perry sends Clark and a very pregnant Lois on a story to Washington. An old friend of Perry's has caught a whiff of scandal that could reveal corruption through all levels of government. The time away together also gives Lois and Clark an opportunity to sort out personal matters. This is the final installment of a trilogy that began with the author's "Beginnings" and continued with "Something in Common."
Author's note: This is the final part of what started out as two simple ideas and somehow developed into a trilogy. The first two parts were 'Beginnings' and 'Something in Common', but it is not necessary to read them to follow the story. It is set in my own Lois and Clark universe, one where they were married shortly after the infamous 'clone arc'. It was also written before New Kryptonians arrived, so I had already created a use for certain Kryptonian abilities. I decided to leave them as they were. Guess we had both wondered the same thing. (It will make sense after you read it … )
All rights to the characters belong to Warner Bros., ABC, TNT and anyone else who has them now. I just borrowed them for a little adventure … they can go back to whatever they were doing.
"Lois, Clark … in my office … now!" The Daily Planet editor's agitated, somewhat melancholy voice bellowed across the news room. Lois and Clark glanced up at each other from across their desks, both a bit worried.
"Another bad blind date or is it alimony day?" Lois asked with clinched teeth.
Clark lifted an eyebrow and shook his head. "Neither. His son was laid off from his job and is staying with him until he can find another one. I think they are getting on each other's nerves."
Lois turned in her chair and looked toward Perry's office. "Oy! Well, that explains why I haven't seen Jimmy around this morning. Should we sneak out or hide in the copy room?"
"From the look on his face … " Clark paused and turned back toward Lois. Raising both eyebrows, he continued. " … and knowing what I'm supposed to do whenever we are hiding in a closet, I'd say it's safer if we get our rear ends in his office." Clark got up and ushered a grinning Lois across the news room to Perry White's office. They entered tentatively and stopped in front of his desk. "You wanted to see us, Chief?" Clark asked with a forced smile.
Perry peered up at them from his desk. There were stacks of papers lined up across the front of the desk and smaller, less organized stacks on the floor to either side. It looked like he had been working nonstop for weeks. His haggard face told of a man who had gotten little sleep and was nearing exhaustion. Lois had never seen him like this. Even during the worst days of his breakup with Alice, he had never gotten to this state. She shared a concerned look with Clark.
"Uh … Lois … Clark, sit down … oh … and Clark … close that door." Clark turned and closed the door behind him. Lois took her usual spot in the wing back chair in front of Perry's desk, with Clark standing behind her, leaning against the back of the chair.
"Perry, are you okay?" Lois asked cautiously. "You look tired."
"Uh … yeah, Lois, I'm fine. Don't I look fine?" His words were sharp and piercing. Protectively, Clark lowered his hand to Lois' shoulder for comfort and assurance. Perry noticed the gesture and realized he had lashed out at Lois, who was simply concerned for his well-being. His face softened. "I'm … sorry, Lois, Clark. Things have been … well … a little rough lately. Didn't mean to take it out on you. Uh … that's not what I called you in here for … "
"That's all right Perry. Anything Clark and I can do to help, please … let us know."
Lois thought about the endearment these two men had for her. If any other man called her 'sweetie', they would receive a verbal barrage that would humble even the sharpest battalion. But, when either of them used it, her heart would melt just a little.
Perry was never good at expressing his feelings and was ill at ease with any discussions of the heart. He cared deeply for Lois, Clark and Jimmy and had long since become a surrogate father. Lois joked with Clark on several occasions of Perry's use of sports and Elvis metaphors to express his feelings with Jimmy. For Lois, Perry reserved this simple word. Clark seemed to be the only one Perry would open up to about his feelings. But then, everyone was like that around Clark.
Clark had first used the term in joking response to her request for pet names. 'Honey' had become his interchangeable term for 'Lois'. She was still a little shocked that she loved hearing him call her by it. Clark also had a hard time verbalizing what he was feeling, especially when they were intimate. Somehow, whenever passion clouded his thinking, 'honey' turned to 'sweetie'. Whenever she heard that one word, she knew in an instant that she was loved and had his undivided attention.
Lois' thoughts were brought back to the present when Perry slowly continued, filling them in on the events of the past few weeks.
"I've debated on whether or not to involve you in this. You guys have a lot on your minds, what with preparing for the baby and all … "
"Chief, Clark and I told you, baby or no baby, we are a team and will continue our jobs as before. Besides, I'm not due for months. And I'm pregnant, not an invalid," she said defensively.
"I know, Lois, I know. I've been through this with Alice. I didn't mean it like that. I meant, I know this is an exciting time for the two of you and that you would want to spend it at home, together … "
"What are you getting at, Chief?" Clark asked, squeezing Lois' shoulder to calm her.
"Well, it's a long story … but in a nutshell … I got a call from … " His voiced trailed off to a whisper. Lois instinctively leaned forward to hear. " … my source. He told me to meet him in the usual spot. He gave me copies of classified photos and memos from the Pentagon to NASA. It appears that something out of the ordinary happened during the last two space shuttle flights. Neither agency is talking about it and there is even reason to believe the live feed of the shuttle missions that NASA broadcasts are being fabricated to cover up the incidents."
Lois mind was racing now. She hadn't had her teeth in a really big scandal since they uncovered a drug operation at a local nightclub. And this was really sounding promising … NASA and the Pentagon. That would most likely lead to Congress and the White House. Yes, this was Kerth material all right.
Perry's informant, Sore Throat, was quirky, at best, and had definitely seen too many spy movies. He always insisted on Perry meeting him in a parking deck and that he come alone. And … well … the name? Even so, he had proven himself to be a reliable source. His information on Project Shock Wave had helped save Metropolis from a deadly tidal wave. And this … this promised to be even bigger and more far reaching.
"I've also checked all of this out through some of my sources in Washington and Florida. They confirm that there seems to be an unusual lack of information on the upcoming mission. They have sent out the standard timing press releases, but nothing more. No one seems to know the focus of the mission. They were scheduled to launch a military satellite, but that has been pushed back. It's common practice for the missions to change, so no one seems to be the wiser."
"What exactly does 'your source' suspect?" Clark asked, his thumb now slowly caressing the back of Lois' shoulder. He could feel her heart racing in anticipation. This was his subconscious, but futile, way of calming her.
"It has something to do with contact with the shuttle crew … from an unknown source. Theories range from HAM radio transmissions, misdirected satellite feeds to … well … aliens."
"This is beginning to sound like a bad 'X-Files' episode," Clark joked, trying to play down the 'aliens' theory.
"A what?" Perry asked, looking confused, his train of thought interrupted.
"Nothing, Chief," Clark responded sheepishly. Perry obviously wasn't up on the latest TV raves.
"Now … I don't put a lot of stock in that aliens theory, but something must be happening up there or the government wouldn't be trying to blow smoke up our skirts …" Perry emphasized his point by raising his hand as if swearing an oath. " … and I want to know what it is. The next launch is in four and a half weeks." He could see their expressions drop, so he lowered his hand in a comforting gesture. "Now, I know you had vacation scheduled next week, so I have an idea. Get out of here now … go and relax … and then get to work on the story. I don't want to see you back in here until you have the exclusive of the century. Just keep me updated on the story. Go to Washington, Florida, wherever … just get me that story. I'll let you know if I get anything more." Perry lifted two of the stacks on his desk and handed them to Lois. "Here's what I have so far." Clark started to respond, but Perry stopped him. "Ah … go on … get out of here," he said smiling and waved them out of his office.
Lois and Clark said good-bye to Perry and headed back to their desks. Their conversation with Perry left them with more questions than answers and they were both reeling now with the thrill of starting a new story and a change to their plans. They had been counting down the hours to their vacation for days. Lois laid down the stack of papers on Clark's desk and turned to him. She could see the disappointment in his eyes. They hadn't had a week alone together since their honeymoon, over a year ago. And there was no way they would enjoy a week off before working on the story. They would both be too preoccupied. He had obviously come to the same conclusions.
"I'll call Mom and Dad and tell them there has been a change in plans," Clark said, trying not to show his disappointment.
"I'm sorry, Clark. I was looking forward to a relaxing week at the Corn Festival myself. I was going to have you win another one of those bears for the baby. I'm kind of partial to the original one. Maybe we can 'fly' out for dinner one evening?"
Clark smiled at his lovely bride. Even though he knew she was champing at the bit to sink her teeth into the story, she was doing everything she could to comfort him. What a change from the driven reporter he first met. If they had received this assignment four years ago, he would be running to the elevator trying to keep up with her. He was glad to see that same drive was still there, but that she had learned to control it a little. He was thrilled to learn on their honeymoon that she approached everything with the same gusto. And was even more pleased that she hadn't found a way to control her passion for him as she had for work. Yes … he was a lucky guy!
Leaning down, Clark gave Lois a quick kiss and whispered, "Have I told you lately how beautiful you are and how much I love you?" He pulled back and stared lovingly into her eyes. He could see she was a bit shocked by his sudden display of emotion. He also knew he better move on to a new topic … they were at work. "And … I have an idea. Neither of us would enjoy a vacation if we went now … so … why don't we combine work with pleasure." She gave him a quizzical look, so he continued. "What if we go home, pack the car and head south. We'll go to Washington and see what we can find out there and then head down to Florida if we need to. We have four weeks. We can spend a lot of time together *and* work on the story. We can even drop in on Mom and Dad for dinner when we get a chance."
Her face was now beaming. The small grin that had formed at the edges of her mouth had spread across her face. They had never spent that much time alone together and she couldn't wait. She leaned up and picked up the kiss Clark had started and mimicked his actions, whispering in his ear. "Have I told you lately you are incredible?" She placed one last, brief kiss on his cheek and turned to pick up the papers Perry had given them.
Clark placed his hand on her shoulder to stop her. He smiled at her and picked up the phone to add one last item to the plan. Handing her the receiver, he explained. "Here, call your doctor and make sure it's okay to be gone so long." She started to object but realized he was right. She took the receiver from his hand and began to dial. Grateful for her compliance, he placed his hand on her stomach and whispered, "You're the incredible one."
Lois could never remember being so relaxed and content. She was happy in work and happy in life. She sat sidesaddle in the passenger seat of their Jeep leaning against the door. Her feet lay across Clark's lap, who was absentmindedly massaging one foot and then the other as he drove. He had surprised her by stopping on the outskirts of town at a Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop and bought her the most heavenly chocolate ice cream creation she could imagine. Yes … this was heaven. As she scooped the last drop of chocolate syrup from the bottom of the container, she let out a contented sigh.
Clark glance over at her and smiled. "I take it that was the official seal of approval?"
"Umm hmm. That was the best ice cream sundae I've ever had. I'm beginning to think pregnancy has its advantages."
"I don't seem to recall hearing that same sentiment the past few months. Let me see, what was it again? Oh, I remember … it was 'Clark Kent, if I ever get out of this bathroom again' … or … 'Clark Kent, if you even think of touching me again' … "
Lois winced at the memory. "You heard that?"
"Well, I was worried about you. For a while there, you spent half of the day in the bathroom. I would listen in occasionally to be sure you were all right. You wouldn't let me in, remember? I don't think you spoke to me until after four o'clock for about a month … "
She smiled. She was finally over that horrible stage of pregnancy and, thank God, the memories of it were fading. "I'm sorry, Clark. You know I didn't mean it … "
"I know, but I felt pretty helpless. I hate that you had to go through it alone."
"Clark … I knew you were there for me. Just knowing that was a comfort. It's not exactly the kind of experience you want to share … " Trying to lighten the mood, she added, "This sundae was a step in the right direction … and *do not* pay any attention to that last comment you overheard! I expect to receive a lot of *attention* from you on this trip!"
Clark laughed and squeezed the foot he had been massaging. "You haven't let me pay attention to it yet, I don't see why I should start now … "
"Good!" Lois said, ending the matter. Clark chuckled under his breath and returned to his massage. It seemed to have a calming affect on him, but was doing wonderful things for her. As she leaned down to deposit her empty container into a bag in the floor, she noticed a tape case she hadn't seen before. She had made Clark promise that there would be no listening to the radio for possible *emergencies*. They had been listening to a classical CD he had brought along and she was interested to see what else he had packed. She picked up the case and set it in her lap. Opening up the case, she read aloud the titles it contained. "The Shadow, Abbot and Costello, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Inner Sanctum, The Green Hornet … " She looked over at Clark. "What are these?"
He smiled and glanced over at her. "They are some of the best of the radio shows from the 30s and 40s. The local NPR station used to broadcast them on Sundays when I was a kid. I would listen to them with Mom and Dad. They would tell me how they used to listen with their families when they originally aired. I started collecting the cassettes several years ago. I thought they would be good on a long car trip … put one of them in."
"I've heard of some of these shows before, but I don't think I've ever actually heard any of them." Lois picked up one of the cassettes, placed it in the stereo and sat back, waiting for it to begin.
An organ began playing a slow, foreboding melody while a deep voice warned, "Who knows … what evil … lurks in the hearts of men … The Shadow knows," finishing his warning with an evil laugh. Lois giggled at the melodrama. The laughter ended and the announcer set the stage for the drama. "The Shadow, who aids the forces of law and order, is in reality Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man about town. Years ago, in the Orient, Cranston learned the strange and mysterious secret, the hypnotic power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him. Cranston's friend and companion, the lovely Margot Lane, is the only person who knows to whom the voice of the invisible shadow belongs … "
Lois realized she had been holding her breath. She let it out at the same time she cried out, "Clark … "
Clark laughed. "I know … pretty coincidental, don't you think. I haven't listen to them in a while. I had forgotten her name was Margot *Lane*."
"Coincidental … my God, Clark … change the names … well, one of them … and the wealthy part and that is us. So what do this Lane and Cranston do for a living … no … let me guess …they're reporters, right?"
"No … actually, I don't think Cranston does anything … he's just … *about town* and I don't remember them ever saying what she does. I guess we'll have to listen to find out."
Everything about the recording intrigued her. There was a background static that they apparently were unable to edit from the original broadcast. Surprisingly, it added to the mystery, giving it an almost haunting quality. She imagined a family sitting in front of one of those huge wooden radios in their living room, hanging on every word. She smiled as the announcer sang the praises of anthracite, the sponsor's product, which she now knew was coal. Finally, the music returned, signaling the story was about to begin. She wanted to know more about this Shadow fellow and the Lane in his life. Nestling in the space between the door and the seat, she listened as a simple story of three robberies turned to murder.
Lois had been silent for so long, Clark thought she had fallen asleep. He looked over and was amazed to see she was immersed in the story. He could see the concentration on her face as she added each clue together to solve the crime. He loved sharing his fascinations with her and was thrilled that she seemed to be sharing his enjoyment.
The story was nearing the end. The Shadow managed to foil the criminal's plan and handed them over to the police commissioner. Lane and Cranston reviewed the events in the car on their way home.
"Well, it's all over now … let's forget about it," Margot Lane sighed. "Hmm, isn't this nice … just driving in moonlight."
"Now, now, now … stop cuddling, Margot. Don't you remember what Weston said about the Shadow? I'm dynamite …"
"Are you, Lamont? Someday, I wish you'd prove it … "
The music ended and the announcer came back to give another plug for their sponsor. He ended with the usual disclaimer. "The Shadow program is based on a story copyrighted by Street and Smith publications. The characters, names, places and plot are fictitious. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental."
The evil laugh returned and the Shadow issued one last warning. "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit … crime does not pay. The Shadow knows …" The tape ended with the Shadow's now familiar laugh.
Clark reached down and turned off the radio. Turning to Lois, he asked, "So, what did you think?"
Lois sat there for a minute, shaking her head. She was still trying to put all of the pieces together in her mind. "Well, Clark … let's see … getting past the obvious similarities … the name … the secret identity … his girlfriend being the *only* one who knows his secret … and we won't even discuss the *helpless* Margot Lane. I'll concede that to the time. What does that leave us? The Shadow solving the crime for the police. They allude to Lamont writing a book … so he must be a writer. The conversation in the car … 'I'm dynamite' and 'Someday, I wish you'd prove it' … the announcer should just add to his disclaimer … 'persons living, dead or to be born in 30 years' …Come on, Clark, Freud would have a field day with this stuff."
Clark couldn't help but laugh. He'd never thought about it before. "I guess it is a little … familiar."
"Clark, my dear, *that* is an understatement! Seriously, is this where you got the idea for a secret identity?"
"No. Well, no … not that I'm aware of, anyway. I haven't listened to these tapes in years. I found them when we were cleaning up for the nursery and set them aside to listen to them again. I told you, Mom came up with the costume … but it was *my* idea … Maybe I should rush back to Dr. Friskin … I'm acting out a radio series … " He reached over and grabbed Lois' hand. "Tell me, Margot, what should I do?" Lois couldn't help but laugh, but slapped him in the arm for making fun of her. "Okay, barring the *similarities,* what did you think of the program? Did you solve the crime?"
"It was fun. He's sort of an American Sherlock Holmes … calling the police commissioner to witness the criminals' confession … explaining to his trusty side-kick how the crime was pulled off … and I love that laugh … " Clark tried his best to duplicate the laugh, but his voice wasn't quite as deep as the actor's. Lois laughed and rubbed his shoulder in sympathy. "Honey, you better stick to the tights … I don't think Superman's greatest attribute is his laugh … " Clark retaliated by holding her legs to his lap and tickling her feet. She knew struggling to free her feet was pointless and he *was* driving. When she couldn't take it anymore and was exhausted from laughing, she finally called a truce. "I give … I give."
Clark attempted the Shadow's laugh one more time. "Chalk one up for the good guys." He released his hold on her legs and went back to caressing her feet.
"Well, at least we have some more baby names," Lois joked. "Margot Lane Kent … or maybe … Cranston Kent … think anyone would figure it out? My favorite is still … Calvin Kent!"
"Well, maybe we better keep a lower profile, Lois. I still like Charlton or Eulalee."
"I knew I should never have told you that Charlton Heston was president in that alternate life. And where did you get Eulalee? We are *not* naming our child Eulalee."
"What about Wanda?"
"Clark … "
"Okay … okay. I know you've thought about the story. We'll be in Washington in an hour. What's the plan?"
"Well, by the time we get there, it'll be after six o'clock, so everything will be shut down. I say we check in, order room service and read what Perry gave us … then we'll know where to start. Or, we could go with plan B…check in, go out for a nice dinner and then come back and read."
"I vote for plan C … we check in, order room service and start on the story in the morning."
"What would we do all evening? Is it 'Must see TV night' again, Clark?"
"Oh … I'm sure we'll think of something … So, which is it?"
"C … definitely C."
Lois woke up and instinctively reached for Clark. Realizing he wasn't there, she opened her eyes to look at the night stand. When they got back from their honeymoon, they had developed a signal to let her know if Superman had been called away. They wanted it to be simple, but something that wouldn't be obvious to anyone else. They finally agreed on a tie. If he had to leave, he would put one of his ties on the night stand. She looked over and breathed a sigh of relief … no tie. About the same time she smelled coffee, so she knew he was still there. After a quick stretch, she slipped on a robe and went into the next room.
Clark was sitting at the desk going over the papers Perry had given them. He was wearing his usual pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He looked up and smiled as she walked over to him. "Good morning, sleepy head."
She sat down in his lap and gave him a kiss. Clark put his arms around her, one hand coming to rest on her stomach. "Good morning," she said, reaching over to steal a sip of his coffee. He tried to stop her, but she protested. "Just a sip … I promise."
He moved his hand back to her stomach, bent his head down and continued, "And Good Morning to you, Baby Kent."
Lois smiled at his new morning ritual. He was going to be such a good father. "What time is it?"
"Why didn't you wake me? The day is half over?"
"You were sleeping so peacefully, I didn't want to bother you. And you and Baby Kent here need your rest."
"Remind me not to invite you to any more of my doctor's visits. But, I have to admit … it was nice sleeping in and having you here when I woke up. I like this mixing work and pleasure idea." She leaned down and gave him a quick peck on the lips and switched gears. "So, what have you found out?"
"Well, I read through all of the material Perry gathered. Something is definitely contacting the shuttle. It's not a HAM operator, it's not the right frequency. That must be something they created to leak if the story came out. I don't think it is coming from a satellite, but I can't be sure with what we have so far."
"Clark, you're not saying that an alien … "
"Well, Lois, you're sitting on one … is it so improbable that there are others out there? I know, I'm sure glad I'm here," he smiled, rubbing her stomach again.
"Okay, for argument's sake, let's say it is … someone from another planet. Why would they try to contact the shuttle and not just come here on their own?"
"Maybe they need a lift?" Lois gave him a disapproving look and pulled his ear. He smiled and obligingly grimaced as if her action had hurt. "Okay … bad joke. I don't know, Lois. The signal they are receiving is some sort of pulse … like a Morse code … but they aren't able to decipher it. If we could get our hands on a copy of the transmission … "
Lois interrupted. "Could you decipher it?"
Clark looked at her, confused. "Lois, I may be an alien, but that doesn't mean I speak all of their languages. I came here when I was a baby, remember? And my parents spoke to me in English, so if they used another form of communication, they didn't share it with me."
"Oh … sorry."
"What I was going to say, is that if we could get a hold of the transmission, we could get Doctor Klein to analyze it. He could tell us if the frequency could be broadcast from a satellite."
"Oh, right. But Clark, you were how old when they put you in the space ship?"
"I don't know … Mom and Dad guessed I was about five or six months old. Why?"
"Well, if you were around them for that long, you would have to have heard them talk to one another. We can assume the message in the globe was in English because they knew you would learn it here. What if we took you back to before you came here, maybe you could remember their language."
"You're talking about Star and hypnosis, right? What are we supposed to do … drop in and say … 'By the way, Star, Clark is Superman and needs to speak to his parents. Can you dial them up?'"
"No, lunkhead. Superman can go for a visit. She knows we're friends. And maybe she could talk to your parents. Wouldn't you like that? They could see you with me … *They* would know. You could tell them about the baby."
"I don't know, Lois, it's awfully risky.
"Well … think about it. So, what do you have planned?"
"Perry dug up a lot of information on the Pentagon's role in all of this. I talked to him this morning and he gave me the name of his source. I'm waiting for him to call now. I hope we can meet with him today. If not, I want to get as much information on satellite transmissions and alien communications as we can. I have Jimmy working on the satellite information now. I thought it was best if we worked on the alien angle."
"Okay … I'll jump in the shower and get ready."
Hearing the phone ring, Clark added, "And there's Perry … timing is everything."
Lois and Clark stood on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, looking out over the water. Even on a weekday, there were people out in paddle boats enjoying the beautiful day. She had been to the nation's capital on many occasions, but all she ever saw was the inside of a hotel, restaurant or airport. She was amazed at the beauty of the river and even the monument itself. She looked up at Jefferson staring down at her. All she could think of was the beginning of the Declaration of Independence. Her fourth grade teacher made them memorize it and recite it to the class. Over the years, she had read a lot about him and realized he was an incredible man. What would he think if he were to see what had happened to the country he helped form? And what would he think of the story they were working on … government cover- ups … alien contacts. Heck, what would he think of her husband? She'd have to ask Mr. Wells the next time he came looking for them.
Clark spotted a man coming across the street that fit Perry's description. He was wearing a business suit and carrying a newspaper. Taking Lois' hand, Clark led her down the stairs to meet him. When they reached the bottom of the steps, the man came over to them and smiled.
"You must be Perry's crack news team."
"Mr. Williams? Clark Kent It's a pleasure to meet you." Clark shook the man's hand and motioned to Lois. "And, this … "
The man interrupted Clark before he could finish the introduction. "And you must be Lois Lane." He sought out Lois' hand and shook it. "Perry has been bragging on you for years. You'd think you were his daughter, the way he dotes on you. I think he told me twelve times that you were expecting and that I should keep an eye on you."
"That's Perry, all right. It's nice to meet you, Mr. Williams."
"Please, call me Dan." He took a glance around. "Why don't we go for a stroll. Washington has eyes and ears everywhere. That's why I asked you to dress casually." Pointing toward the path around the river, he said, "Let's walk over there."
"So, Dan, Perry tells me you two were roommates in college," Clark added, trying to start the conversation.
"Yes, we were. I never realized how much I hated Elvis until I roomed with Perry."
Lois laughed. "He is a bit obsessed, isn't he?"
"Well, deep down, Perry's a great guy. Best friend a guy could have. He got me through college. I wasn't exactly the most motivated of students. If Perry hadn't pulled me along, I would have been tossed from the dorm and the campus."
"He does have a way of taking you under his wing," Lois agreed.
"I was so sorry to hear about him and Alice. He has always been married to that paper and I don't think she ever understood his passion for his work." He looked at the two young reporters. "Good thing you two are married to each other and the paper … so one of you won't be at home waiting."
Lois looked at Clark and smiled, raising a knowing eyebrow at his unintended truth. "I was just telling Clark the same thing this morning."
They continued to exchange pleasantries as they walked around the lake. Their new source was Perry's age, but had seemed to wear the years a bit better. His hair was a striking blond, with a hint of white at the temples. He was a few inches taller than Clark and appeared to be in great shape. As he told them about a time when he and Perry sneaked into Alice's sorority, his eyes lit up like a three year old's. As the story neared the end, they stopped and sat on the wall around the river, looking out at the couples in the paddle boats.
"I know you two didn't come here to hear about the misadventures of Perry and Dan, so I'll cut to the chase. I work for a firm that does consulting work with the Pentagon. I got a hold of some information that didn't ring true, so I called Perry. He always had the best nose for a scandal. I ran what I had by him and he checked into it. I have some more information for you … it should be waiting for you at your hotel. Look, I know this all sounds cloak and dagger, but you have to watch your back in this town. Everything I know is in that package. There are some names for you to follow up with and the latest press release from the Pentagon."
"Is there any way to get a hold of a copy of the transmissions?" Clark asked.
"Hmm, that would be tough, but I'll see what I can do. The first name on the list is your best bet. I'll check out any other avenues I can think of." Getting up, he pointed them back in the direction they came. "We better head back. I have a meeting later I can't miss." He started in on a story about Perry's experience with the birth of his son. Both Lois and Clark were laughing so hard their eyes were watering. "And I'm sure you'll never hear that story from him! That's why friends are around at the time … to tell about it later."
When they had made their way back to the steps where they had started, Dan opened the paper to reveal a copy of the Daily Planet and a gift. "This is a copy of Perry's first big story. I have several copies … I thought you two would enjoy it." He handed the paper to Clark and held out the package to Lois. "And this is something for the baby. My wife suggested it … " He leaned over and gave Lois a hug and shook Clark's hand. "It was great meeting you two. I can see why Perry thinks so highly of you. If you need anything while you're here, call me. We'd love to have you over for dinner … Jane insisted."
"Thanks, Dan," Clark answered. "We'll keep in touch."
They watched as he walked back across the street to his car. Clark looked down and read the headline of the paper for the first time. He held it out for Lois to read. "Nixon Quiet on Democratic Party Scandal."
Lois looked at Clark. "You don't think … " Lois had always wondered about Perry's sources, but she couldn't believe what she was thinking. She looked over at Clark who was shaking his head. "No … " they said in agreement.
They made their way back to the hotel and picked up the package that Dan had left for them. They were both anxious to see what Perry and Jimmy had uncovered. Lois read through the information while Clark logged onto the computer and started printing what Jimmy had faxed. Reading through the faxes, Clark joined Lois on the couch to see what she had found. She handed him the list of names Dan referred to and a letter he had written explaining the whole situation. "Read this, Clark. It gets better … "
Clark read the letter and glanced at the list of names. He didn't recognize any of the names except the first one … Dr. Klein, at STAR Labs. "Lois, what does Dr. Klein have to do with this?"
"I don't know, Clark. You wanted to get a copy of the transmission to him and Dan says he might be the best source to get one. But, how would he have a copy of it?"
"He has been helping me come up with something to counteract the effects of Kryptonite. Maybe the military found out and thinks he might be an expert on aliens?"
"I don't know, Clark."
"Well, why don't we ask him?" Clark reached for the phone and dialed while Lois continued reading the stack of papers on her lap. She listened to Clark's side of the conversation and glanced at the notes he made. "Thanks, Dr. Klein. I'll wait for your fax." He hung up the phone and turned to Lois. "Well, we were half right. Apparently, STAR Labs has been working for some time on a satellite project with Dan's firm. Dr. Klein was contacted by the Pentagon to analyze the transmission. He is sending us his findings. Basically, he doesn't know what it is, but it definitely could not be sent by satellite, at least with current technology. It has him stumped."
"So that leaves us … back with the alien theory?"
"I guess. Lois … why are you looking at me like that?"
"Well … have you thought about going to Star?"
"Lois, we are lucky that she hasn't figured out who I am so far. Do we really want her finding out Superman's family history? I mean, she's a nice person, but … "
"I know, she's a bit flaky … but Clark … this could be the key."
"I don't know … "
"Clark … take a chance."
Star opened her door and was surprised to see Lois standing there with Superman. "Lois, neighbor … well, ex- neighbor … Superman … come in." They entered and looked around the apartment. This was the first time Clark had been there. She had always been at Lois' when he'd seen her before. He expected to see dark drapes, dangling beads and crystal balls. Instead, he was surprised at how … normal … it looked. The only indication of her occupation was a sign in the window. He looked at Lois, who had obviously been there before, as she did not seem surprised. "Lois, Superman, what can I do for you … no, no … let me … you are in trouble and you need my help."
"Star … " Lois started, "Superman needs some information. He is helping Clark and me with a story. Clark is out of town working on it now. I know you took Clark and me back to remember our past. Could you do the same with Superman … and can I ask the questions?"
"I don't know, Lois. I've never done anything like this before."
"Please," Lois pleaded.
Star looked over at Superman. He looked a bit sheepish, but raised his eyebrows, echoing Lois' pleadings. "Oh, all right. Just don't let this get out … it might ruin my reputation in the psychic circles. I'm trying to get onto one of those psychic hot lines. Dionne Warwick is reviewing my resume, you know."
"Wow," Lois murmured. "That's … impressive … isn't it Cl … Superman."
"Yes," he answered, nodding to Lois. "Yes it is."
Star grinned in satisfaction. Turning to Superman, she paused. "Well, I guess it will work on you. Have you ever been hypnotized before?"
"Uh, no … "
"Well, we can try it. Sit down over here." Clark sat down in the chair Star pointed out and she and Lois sat down together on the coach. "Now Lois, I'll make sure he's under and you can ask the questions, okay."
"Okay … "
Star proceeded to hypnotize Clark. She told him he would be in a safe place and could come out at any time. Lois remembered that the last time Star asked Clark his name he had said Kal-El. Before she could ask this again, Lois motioned to her. Star got up and went into the bedroom. Lois turned on her recorder and began asking her questions.
"Superman, go back to the time before coming to earth … while you were still on Krypton. Can you remember anything of it?" Clark nodded. "What do you see?"
"I'm in a room, it looks like nursery, and Jor-El and Lara are there."
"What are they doing?"
"They are talking to one another."
"Can you hear what they are saying?"
"Tell me … "
"They are talking to each other, but their lips are not moving … yet I can still hear what they are saying. They're talking about sending me to earth."
"What language are they speaking? Is it English?"
"No … I'm not sure what it is, only that it is familiar and I can understand it."
"Remember the language …and tell me what they are saying."
"They are discussing whether I will survive the trip. Lara says that whatever the chances that it won't work, if they don't send me, I will perish with the rest of them. Jor- El is comforting her. He said if there were any way all of us could go, he would arrange it, but there isn't time. Lara walks over to where I am lying and picks me up. She is holding me and … she's begun to cry. I reach up and play with her hair, not understanding why she was crying."
"Can you remember anything else?"
"I see them placing me in the ship and sending me to earth." He paused as he remembered the sadness in his parent's eyes. "My father is comforting my mother. He put the globe in the ship with me and tells her they will contact me if they can find a way to survive." He paused again. Lois noticed that he has switched from referring to them by Jor-El and Lara to mother and father. She could see in his eyes and hear in his voice the love they held for him.
Remembering what Star had done in the past, Lois decided to bring him back. "Superman, you will come back to the present now remembering everything." Lois turned off the recorder and went to Clark. He shook his head and looked around. Lois leaned down next to him, taking his hands and cradled them in his lap. "Are you okay?"
"Yes. I remember. I was there … with them."
"Do you remember how they spoke to one another?"
"Yes. It was some sort of mind transference. They didn't have to open their mouths … but I understood what they were saying."
"Clark, you mentioned that when your father put the globe in the ship, he said he would contact you if he could. Do you remember?"
"Yes … could that be … "
"I don't know, but let's get to STAR Labs and find out." Lois went to the bedroom and knocked on the door. She thanked Star and agreed to come back and tell her all about the baby when she could. It was all Clark could do to keep her from telling Lois whether the baby was a boy or girl.
Lois and Superman arrived at STAR Labs moments later. They entered Dr. Klein's lab and found him at his desk, staring off into space, listening to something on a headset. He nearly jumped out of his seat when Clark put his hand on his shoulder to get his attention.
"Superman, Ms. Kent … I was just working on what I spoke to your husband about earlier."
"That's why we're here, Dr. Klein. Could Superman listen to the transmission?"
"Yes. Oh, wait … I'll rewind it." He handed the headset to Clark and fumbled with the recorder. Clark sat down in the chair and waited. Dr. Klein pushed play and Clark listened intently. When the tape came to an end, Clark took off the headphones and looked up at Dr. Klein. "Has this been edited in any way?"
"No, Superman. It's the live feed."
"Can I have a copy of this?"
"Well … yes. I have an extra copy in my office. I'll go get it." He turned and walked into the adjoining room.
Clark looked at Lois and held a finger to his lips. Knowing she was dying to know what was on the tape, he whispered, "I'll tell you on our way back to Washington."
Dr. Klein returned and handed Superman the tape. "I probably shouldn't be releasing this, but if anyone can figure out what that is, it's you."
"Thank you, Dr. Klein. I'll let you know if I uncover anything. Please let Lois or Clark know if you learn anything more."
"Of course, Superman."
Lois waited just until Clark had her above STAR Labs to quiz him on his findings.
"Okay, tell me. What did you hear?"
Clark looked down at her in his arms and grinned. "I guess patience isn't something that comes with pregnancy, huh?"
Lois gave him a gentle slap on his chest. "Well?"
"Actually, it's more of what I didn't hear."
"Remember the radio show we listened to yesterday. You could hear static … something transmitted over the airwaves they couldn't filter out."
"Yes, I remember."
"Well, there were no background noises on the tape at all , which leads me to believe they are fake."
"But for what purpose? And why feed it to the space shuttle."
"Maybe they are using this as a diversion to something else."
"Okay, but what?"
"Well, I had Jimmy check on all of the missions. The three before this one and the next three that are scheduled. I also had him run a check on Dan's company. There's one common denominator. Dan's company. They are involved in some aspect of all of these missions, whether simply supplying equipment or NASA running an experiment for them."
"What are you saying, Clark?"
"What if our little alien transmission is just a cover to throw NASA off, to keep a bigger problem from being recognized."
"Okay, but who? You don't think Dan … "
"No, not really. But I do think he was set up. Think about it. He just happens to get a hold of Pentagon classified memos. They have to know he is best friends with the editor of The Daily Planet. It's just too nice a package."
"You're right." Lois' pulse was starting to race now. She thrived on unraveling any sort of cover-up … government or otherwise. Following his train of thought, she started throwing out theories. "Maybe there is a problem with the satellite they developed. Their contract could be coming up for renewal and they are trying to stall NASA."
"But where is this going to leave Dan? Should we warn him?"
"I don't know. Maybe we should discuss this with Perry. Let's go pack our things and head back to Metropolis."
Lois and Clark spent the first hour of the trip back to Metropolis sounding out theories on the cover-up. They had the story of the century, as Perry had called it, but what they were going to do with was another matter entirely. Once they had decided to discuss their theories with Perry, they were able to relax and enjoy the ride home and plan their vacation.
"So, Clark, let's leave for Smallville as soon as we have this thing nailed down."
"I think there is room for one in first class. It is a charter."
Lois leaned over and nuzzled Clark's neck. "An exclusive charter, I hope … "
"As a matter of fact, it is … and the fare is pretty steep … think you can afford it?"
"Well, can I take it out in trade?"
"Actually, that's the only form of payment accepted."
Lois smiled and nestled against Clark's shoulder. Clark's slid his arm around her and rested his hand on her stomach, a gesture he had begun as soon as she told him about the baby. It seemed to be his way of being connected to the child growing within her. This child was such a precious gift. He so desperately wanted a family and they had no way of knowing if they would be able to have children. She was thrilled at being able to give that to him.
"You know, Clark, it's still hard for me to put all of this into perspective. I mean, I *know* you came from another planet and you have abilities that no one else on this one possesses. But when I think of 'aliens', I think of 'ET' or the 'X-Files'. You are Clark … my husband … my best friend. I can't bear to think of you being hunted down like the military is trying to do with the source of those transmissions."
"Lois, the image you have of aliens is from TV and the movies. Their depiction is sensationalized for effect, not based on reality. I am reality. I'm afraid Hollywood still uses Orson Welles as their basis for anyone not from Earth." Looking down at himself, he grinned at her. "The truth wouldn't make for very good TV."
Looking up at him, she proceeded cautiously. "Does it bother you when other people talk about aliens?"
"Well, maybe a little. The only thing that really bothers me is how it will affect you. How do you feel being married to one?"
"You know, the weird thing is … I don't really think of you that way. I mean, I know you can fly and all … and believe me … I love it. But, I can't think of you as an … alien. I mean, you are the most normal person I know."
This caught Clark's curiosity. This was something he had wondered about, but they had never really discussed. "What do you know about … aliens?"
"Aliens? Well, I've been reading up on the subject for a while now. You know, abductions, crop rings, Soltzvig's books. I saw 'Communion'. Oh, and I loved 'ET'."
"Thanks, Lois. I love the company you've put me in."
Reaching up, she placed her hand on his cheek to reassure him. "No. No, I didn't mean it that way. I wanted to know what *they* knew about aliens. I mean, I know what an *alien* is really like." Giving him a wicked grin, she continued. "And, as I've told you before, it's a good thing no one else knows how wonderful that really is."
Reaching down, blushing a bit, he kissed her. "Thank you."
"Clark, think about it. What if others have come here too. If they are like you, maybe they have blended in also. They can buy glasses too, you know."
"Okay … seriously, Clark. Why would the Pentagon be so interested in aliens, anyway? Before you came, all anyone knew of what was out there was 'War of the Worlds' or Marvin the Martian. Well, we all know that's not the case now. Maybe they've known this all along."
"What are you getting at, Lois?"
"Maybe the government has known all along that there *was* life out there, somewhere. They knew about it and also knew that there were no *little green men*. That these people were actually rather ordinary looking, but with extraordinary abilities. They kept this to themselves because they thought they could use it to their advantage. The ultimate weapon. They control them for their own purposes. Then you come along and show the world that aliens weren't what they made us believe."
"So, what you're saying is that they created crop circles, abductions and ET to keep up their pretense. I'm just a fluke … all of the others are of the *green men* variety and to be feared?"
"Yes. I mean, it occurred to me, when I was trying to put all of this into perspective … you know, you being from Krypton, and all … well, I'm an alien to you. If Krypton still existed and you could take me there, I would be the one from another planet. I mean, we really aren't so different, are we. It's just geography."
Clark had to admit that, in all of the years he had thought about his situation, this had never crossed his mind. He was always the outsider, from another planet. Leave it to Lois to see it all from a different angle. It was one of the many things he loved about her and why they were such good partners.
Smiling down at her, he shook his head in amazement. "I never thought of it that way." He tenderly slid his hand back on her swollen belly. "So, does this mean Baby Kent will have dual citizenship?"
Lois laughed. "I guess so." Clark would always be Clark. He would always find a way to see the humor in any situation. "The only thing I can't figure out is why they've never tried to use you?"
"I know. I've wondered that myself. Dad always used to worry about me ending up in a lab, being dissected like a frog." Lois winced at the thought. "Sorry, honey. Maybe they do already have others and don't need me."
"This really is starting to sound like an 'X-Files' episode."
Lois grinned. "Yeah. Do you think we'll run into Scully and Mulder?"
"With you, honey, I've learned anything's possible."
"Well, I've seen the way you look at her … I'm going to have to keep my eye on you."
"Good, cause you're the one thing I never tire of looking at."
"Oh, you are a sweet-talker, aren't you?"
"No … I just always speak the truth."
They fell into a companionable silence, retreating back to their thoughts and the comfort of each other's company. Clark had one more question he had been wanting to ask, but hadn't found a way to broach the subject. Since they were being so open about this topic, Clark decided this was the time.
"Lois, I know you said you had come to terms with being married to an alien, but what about the baby?"
Lois looked up at him and grinned. "I wondered when you'd get back to that."
Clark continued. "I know you are scared, honey. You've said some things … in your sleep."
Lois' expression changed to one of shock. Certainly she had been concerned and she had had a few nightmares, but she had written them off to just fear of the unknown. "Clark, I've never been pregnant … it's a scary thing. I've just started getting used to being married … and yes, I'll admit it … depending on someone else. Trusting that you'll always be there. And now … knowing that baby Kent here will be depending on *me* … " Lois paused, deep seeded fears coming to the surface. "I just keep thinking back to my family and the day Dad left … all the years before that. I remember Lucy coming into my room and holding her until she stopped crying. She was still too young to understand what was going on. And Mom … " Lois had been staring out the window, but slowly turned to Clark. "I just never want our child to go through that … and I'm afraid, because that's all I know … "
Clark took her hand in his and turned to her. "Lois, that was a long time ago … and that was your parents' problem, it had nothing to do with you. And honey, you aren't the only one in this marriage. I depend on you, too … and you never let me down. I couldn't continue to be Superman if it weren't for you. As for role models, Lois, look at how you took care of Lucy. You have more mothering instincts than you give yourself credit for. Look at how you took care of me when I had that virus." Lois had been staring at his hands, unable to look him in the eye. Clark paused and turned her chin to him. "Lois, you are going to be a wonderful mother … you already are a wonderful wife, better than I deserve."
She stopped trying to fight the tears and just let them flow. Clark brushed them off with his thumb. "Lois, you know I'll always be there for you and for our child."
"I know … " She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "I guess some things just take a while to sink in … "
"Lois, what I'm concerned about … well … tell me what's really scaring you about the baby."
"Well, Clark … I guess I'm nervous. We don't know what is going to happen. I mean … what if this is different from other pregnancies. How are we going to explain it?"
"I know … I've wondered about that, too. Mom and I've talked about it … what she did with me. She said I progressed normally until I was a teenager … and that I never needed to go to a doctor. So, we can assume this pregnancy will be the same as anyone else's."
"So far everything has been … I've talked to your Mom about this too. That's helped a lot."
Clark knew that she still hadn't gotten to what was really bother her. Her took her hand again and continued. "Lois … please tell me … you won't hurt my feelings … tell me honestly … what are your real fears about the baby."
She knew she needed to get this one barrier between them out of the way, but that didn't make it any easier to discuss. "Clark, I love you … everything about you. Who you are and all of the things you can do. Your being Superman did scare me … but I came to terms with that a long time ago. I know you'll be there for me and this baby. I guess it's … " She hesitated, this was so hard for her to express. Clark gave her hand a gentle squeeze, urging her to continue. "Clark, the reason it took me so long to say yes to marrying you is because I didn't feel worthy of you. I mean … you are Superman, I'm just Lois Lane, stubborn reporter who happened to be your partner."
Clark started to object, but she continued. "No, let me finish." Collecting her thoughts again, she pressed on. "Clark, you have all of these abilities. It took me a while to get used to that. That you wanted me … I mean, what do I have to offer Superman? Don't get me wrong, I have no doubts about how strong our love is for one another. I cherish that. But, what if our child does have your abilities? How do you discipline a child that is floating three feet above your head. I can't exactly go after them if they decide to fly off in the middle of an argument. You can. I can't."
Clark just sat there staring at her for a time. It never occurred to him that Lois felt this way … that she would feel different or like an outcast in her own family. "Lois, honey, I'm not the one creating our child." He leaned over and took her hand and placed it on her stomach. "You are. And it isn't just going to be like me … it will be like *us*. I have powers because I had two Kryptonian parents. Who knows what powers our child will inherit, if any. But this child is *ours*, not just mine. You are never going to be the odd person out. Come on Lois, I've known you a long time … if bombs, guns, poisonous gases, mind altering devices …just to name a few … aren't able to stop you, what makes you think a small child will?" Clark raised her hand to his lips and softly kissed it. "I know powers have never helped me where you're concerned."
Lois looked up him and smiled. He was right, as usual, whether she would ever admit it to him or not. "Thank you," she whispered, reaching over to give him a quick kiss. "You always seem to know what I'm thinking … what to do to make me feel better. Are you sure you don't have that mind transference ability like your parents?"
Clark grinned and raised his eyebrows. "I'll never tell."
Lois stuck her tongue out at him and smiled. "We still haven't decided on a name for Baby Kent here. And I know you know what it is, but if you could choose, which would you want … a boy or a girl?"
"That's easy. I'd want a little girl that looks just like you … with your smile … your eyes … your laugh … so I can thoroughly spoil her."
"Don't you think one of me is more than enough for any family, Clark?"
"Never! In fact, if I could clone you … "
"Clark … " Lois screamed, punching him in the arm.
"Sorry, honey. What about you? What do you want?"
"Well … I think I want a little boy. I can just picture him with these big brown eyes and dimples. I just hope he doesn't inherit your sense of humor, though … "
"And I thought that's what you loved most about me … my sense of humor."
"Well, Clark, I wouldn't say that was your best feature," Lois said seductively.
Clark blushed. "Lois … "
Lois laughed and placed her hand on his flushed cheek. "This is your best feature … that you are the most powerful man in the universe, but you still blush. What did you think I meant?"
"Oh … I … "
"So, what is my best feature, Clark?"
Clark gave her an evil grin. "Well, it sure isn't speaking … "
Lois punched him again. "Very funny … so, what is it?"
Clark placed his hand on her chest.
"Why, Clark Kent. I never knew you were so … so … "
Clark laughed, not sure if he should finish her sentence or correct her misunderstanding. "Honey, you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, but I was referring to your heart."
"Oh … "
"You have the biggest heart of anyone I know. I'm so grateful that you opened it to me … and now to our child. Thank you."
"It's just what I'm learning from you." Lois grinned, until another thought struck her. "You said you would like a girl. Are you trying to tell me something?"
"Lois, I thought you wanted to wait and find out."
"I do … I do. I think … "
They had both fallen back into thought, resting comfortably now that they had discussed their concerns. As always, Lois' brain seemed to drift back to the story.
"Wait a minute, Clark. I just thought of something. Dan could have met us anywhere in Washington, right?"
"Yes," Clark replied, not sure where she was headed with this thought.
"But he chose the Jefferson memorial. Maybe he was trying to tell us something. I mean … all of the information he gave us is just background stuff … nothing really all that classified or damning. Even the tape from Dr. Klein … anyone could have gotten that off the live satellite feed. Maybe Thomas Jefferson is the clue." Lois reached down and picked up a pad of paper and began to make a list. "Okay, what do we know about him … he was the third president … "
As Lois wrote, Clark joined in the brainstorm. "He wrote the Declaration of Independence."
"There was the Louisiana Purchase," Lois added.
"Let's see … he was from Virginia, he was an inventor, a farmer and an architect … and his library was used to restore the Library of Congress after the War of 1812," Clark continued.
Lois turned to Clark with a sly grin. "Sometimes that photographic memory of yours comes in handy. Okay, let's see what we've got." Lois looked over the list. "It would probably be something obvious so let's look at our first thoughts … the third president and the Declaration of Independence."
"There are so many things about *being* the president … that's too general," Clark pondered. "Maybe something to do with the number three?"
"Could be … but what about the Declaration of Independence? Maybe there is something in that … let's see … we had to memorize it in fourth grade." Lois paused and began reciting. "We, the people, in order to form a more perfect union … "
Clark cut her off before she could continue. "Honey, that's the preamble to the Constitution."
Lois thought for a moment and smiled. "You're right. We had to memorize that, too. It has been a while."
Clark grinned and started the document for her. "When in the course … "
"Oh yeah, that's it. 'When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to … to do something … and that we hold these truths to be self- evident … that all men are endowed by their creator with certain … '" Lois stopped and began laughing.
Clark turned to her a little confused. "What is so funny?"
Lois tried to regain her composure enough to explain. Finally, almost out of breath, she managed to eke out a few words. "Now I have proof … "
"What? Proof of what?" Clark had begun to laugh with her, her amusement sparking his own. "Honey, what are you talking about?"
Lois let out a long breath and continued. "Jefferson proved my original theory about our relationship. 'All men are endowed with certain *un*alienable rights'. See, even Thomas Jefferson knew I was top banana … "
Clark couldn't help but laugh. "So I guess my *alienable* rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of Lois Lane?"
Lois smiled and reached over and kissed him. "Exactly … and that last one is a lifetime commitment."
"It has been since the moment I saw you, Lois."
"Ahh," Lois sighed as she mockingly patted his cheek. "Now pull over at this exit, I need you do something."
Clark turned off the interstate and parked in the far corner of a fast food parking lot. Lois immediately handed him the pad of paper.
"Clark, do that superspeed writing thing and jot down the Declaration of Independence. There has to be something there."
Clark took the pen and within seconds had written out the entire text. Lois took back the pad and began reading.
"'When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.'" Lois looked up at Clark, recognition of her thoughts evident without words. She looked back down at the text and skipped down to a section that jumped out at her. "'That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.'"
They both sat in silence a second, trying to collect their thoughts. Lois finally turned to Clark. "What does that sound like to you?"
"That there is someone out there who doesn't care for the current government and wants to change it."
"Exactly … but who do you think it is? Someone in Dan's firm?"
"I'm not sure. To pull off something like that, they would have to have a lot of power and access to some pretty high positions in the government."
"You're right, Clark, but who … and how far up does this go? And what would this have to do with the space shuttle or satellites?"
"Well, what do we have so far? We have fake transmissions to seemingly stall the space shuttle missions. It appears that Dan's company is causing the stall … why, we're not sure. Dan sees … something … we're not sure what … that makes him suspicious and calls Perry. Perry looks into this and almost exhausts himself … Dan gave us surface information and this clue. But, what is the connection?"
"What about the newspaper he gave us … that story Perry broke … maybe there is something there."
"Lois, I don't think Nixon is planning another break-in anytime soon."
"Maybe it is a similar operation."
"Well, Jefferson has been credited with being the founder of the democratic party. He was a proponent of liberal views. Watergate was an operation to break into the Democratic headquarters to sabotage an election. Maybe that is the goal. The democratic party has held office for two terms, now. Could this group be wanting to replace them?"
"Clark, what have we stumbled on … is this really as big as it sounds? Who would have this kind of power?"
"I don't know, Lois. But, if you were going to try to buy an election, what would you need?"
"Lots of money, for one thing."
"Exactly. I think that might be what Dan has stumbled onto. Maybe that's what this phony satellite feed is all about. Maybe they are trying to funnel money through some of these government contracts."
"You may be right." Lois turned to find the information Jimmy had found on the shuttle missions. "While I check out the details on the missions, be a dear and go get us some food. I could really use a fish sandwich and a strawberry shake."
"You want a *strawberry* shake? And aren't you the one always joking about how they find square fish for those sandwiches?"
"Yes, but that's what I want."
"Okay." Clark answered, as he started to get out of the car. Lois grabbed his arm to stop him.
"And get lots of mustard."
"Got it." Clark walked toward the restaurant shaking his head. 'I guess this is the stage of pregnancy where the husband gets sick watching what his wife eats,' he thought to himself. 'Ugh … fish, mustard and ice cream.'
Clark returned to the car to find Lois in the back seat with papers spread out across the seat in front of her. At his questioning look, she quickly responded.
"Before you say a word, no … there was not enough room for me to maneuver in the front seat. And knowing that you are the cause, I would wipe that smirk off your face."
"Me … smirk? I'm just one happy guy."
Lois just grinned. "Uh huh … "
Clark decided to quickly change the subject and handed her two bags of food. "Here you go, one fish sandwich, one strawberry shake and a bag full of mustard."
"Thanks." Lois opened the bags and began eating, continuing to delve through the mass of papers in front of her. Knowing that she would surface when she had found something, Clark went about eating his food as well. He also cracked a window a bit, trying to deaden the smell of Lois' lunch in the jeep.
A few moments later, after inhaling the sandwich and most of the shake, Lois shoved some papers toward Clark. "Look at this, Clark."
Lois had made a list of the shuttle missions Jimmy had researched, outlining their original dates and the actual dates they were run or scheduled to run. She also listed the purpose of the mission and what companies had contracts for that mission. "Notice anything interesting about these missions, Clark?"
"They sure have been delayed a lot, haven't they?"
"Yes … and I think we were wrong as to why they might want to create a diversion. I don't think they are trying to stall to finish a project. I think they are stalling for the money. What better way to funnel funds than through an open- ended government contract."
"You might be right. They create this whole satellite story to draw attention to the missions, not divert it. That way they have justification for spending more money. Keep people running on the wild goose chase as long as they can."
"Right … and if we're are correct, Dan was set up to leak the story. We just have to figure who."
"Head back to Washington?"
Lois and Clark decided they still needed to update Perry on their findings. Lois called him on their way back to their hotel and asked if he could get in touch with his infamous source. If anyone would know who was behind this, he would. He quickly had a meeting set up for that evening in the parking deck of their hotel. They also had Jimmy find out where the money for the missions was coming from and where it was going.
As they waited in the dark, drafty parking deck, they both remembered their first encounter with 'Sore Throat'. Clark tried to keep Lois warm as they waited, rubbing her shoulders through the coat that she was now barely able to button. They both turned when they heard a gruff voice behind them.
"So, we meet again. So much for retirement."
"Hello … Mr. Throat," Lois stammered, not sure how to address him.
"Good to see you both again. Congratulations on the marriage and the baby."
"Thank you," Clark answered. "We appreciate your meeting with us like this. I know you are used to dealing with Perry."
"I've been following you two since last we met. I can see why Perry has so much faith in you. That's the only reason I agreed to this meeting."
"We appreciate that," Lois said, ending the pleasantries to get to the information they needed. "Clark and I have been investigating a lead on what we think is an attempt by a very organized group to buy the next election. We have traced the lead to a company with various government contracts. We think they are funneling the money from these contracts. What we need to know is who's behind this and how far it reaches. And how they plan to use the money."
"Sounds like you two have been busy, finding out so much in just two days. I'm afraid all I can do is give you a name … and confirm your findings. The rest you'll have to find for yourselves."
"Okay," Lois answered.
"The name is Mitchell."
"Did you say Mitchell?" Clark asked, a bit confused.
"I know, ironic isn't it. It's all a bit of deja vu for me."
Lois and Clark turned to look at one another. When they turned back to Sore Throat, he was gone.
"Well," Lois sighed, "That was interesting."
"Sure was," Clark agreed, ushering Lois to the elevator. "Let's get upstairs where it's warm and check this out."
Clark searched through all of the information they had to determine who this Mitchell could be while Lois read through the shuttle information Jimmy had faxed them. Clark finished jotting down some notes and pulled a few pages off the printer. Turning to Lois, he began to think out loud.
"Lois, if you were the Democratic party, who would you run for President in 2000?"
"Well, the vice-president, I guess."
"Exactly. So if you wanted to sabotage an election, wouldn't you need to sabotage their leading candidate?" Clark held up a piece of paper with a small picture. "Meet William Mitchell, businessman from Tennessee, a major stockholder in Dan's firm and a long time business adversary of the vice- president. Seems he voted against something years ago that would have made Mitchell a lot of money."
"So, this is as much about revenge as it is about changing the power in the White House?"
"It would seem so. Want to know the strange thing?"
"Guess what party he belongs to, Lois?"
"Well, my first guess would be the republican, but I guess that would be wrong."
"Yep. He's registered as a democrat. He's after his own party."
"Wow! And he must have the right supporters. From what I've calculated, these contracts are worth big bucks. They could easily have millions tucked away by now. So what do you think they are planning to do?"
"I'm not sure. Let's have Jimmy do a background search on William Mitchell. And I think maybe we should take Dan up on his dinner offer."
Lois and Clark sat on the patio of a modest home in Arlington, VA. They had been listening to Jane and Dan recount the tale of Perry and Alice's wedding day. Jane even produced a few pictures of the event, leaving Lois and Clark in hysterics over Perry's 'Elvis' sideburns.
"You know, Jane," Lois laughed, "This is one picture he never brought to the office."
"And I don't ever remember him mentioning anything about almost passing out at his wedding," Clark added.
"Imagine that, Dan," Jane grinned. "Maybe we shouldn't have divulged some of his secrets."
"He knew the risks sending these two here," Dan replied. "He'll just have to pay the price."
After a few more trips down Memory Lane, Lois was ready to get back to the story. She had been trying to find a way to work her questions into the conversation. She finally decided to try the subtle approach and change the topic. "So Dan, you must know why we took you up on your dinner invitation."
Recognizing the Lois Lane 'bull in the china shop' subtlety, Clark quickly came to her rescue. "Other than the wonderful company, of course."
Dan grinned, having been on the receiving end of that particular life preserver many times after 30 years of marriage. "I wondered how long it would take to get to that. In fact, I was surprised when you called so soon. I've been agonizing over this for weeks. What do you need to know?"
"Thank you for the clues," Clark added. "We were able to confirm your suspicions."
"What we need to know is how far this goes," Lois followed. "Who's involved with these contracts and what areas of government they control."
"I've been looking into that … and I can't believe the names I've come up with. If the ones I suspect are involved, we are looking at a major shakeup at the Pentagon and Congress. But I don't have any real evidence. Just suspicions."
"If you can get us the names, Dan," Lois assured, "We can get the proof."
"Look at the back of the card on the baby gift. They are written into the fine print at the bottom."
"Very clever," Lois laughed. "You're in the wrong business, Dan."
"Actually, it was Jane's idea."
Lois and Clark both looked at Jane and smiled. "Actually, I saw this Hallmark commercial … "
After checking the background of the names Dan *and* Jane supplied, Lois and Clark were able to piece together the shell of the organization. William Mitchell was the mastermind, with the assistance of two key members of the Defense Department and the House Ways and Means committee. They were able to trace the funds siphoned from the government contracts through several holding companies to a small office in Georgetown. Once they had a little heart-to- heart talk with one of the staff members at the office, they had the evidence they needed to run with the story. Mitchell was planning to set up the vice-president and insert his candidate once he was out of the way.
Lois and Clark sent the story off to Perry and decided to hang around Washington for a few days for follow-up interviews once the story broke. When the indictments came down and they had two weeks' worth of headlines wrapped up for the Planet, they headed north to Metropolis.
Taking their time returning home, Lois and Clark had begun to enjoy this time alone in the car. Their conversation spun from topic to topic, but eventually would return to a comfortable time for reflection, leaving each to collect their thoughts. After absently listening to one of Lois' favorite CDs for a time, she finally broke the silence.
"Clark, I realized something during all of this."
"What's that, honey?"
"Well, when we were waiting outside the Jefferson Memorial for Dan, I remember wondering what Jefferson would think about the country he had helped form. How it had turned out, the scandal we were following and … well … about you. And later, when I read the Declaration of Independence, I tried to imagine what it must have been like to create something like that. What courage it must have taken to risk everything … your life, your home, your family … all for a cause that you believed in. Knowing that you wouldn't be able to see the real fruits of your labor, but rather paving the way for future generations." Lois paused, collecting her thoughts and continued. "And I never used to think that things were meant to be. After the way my family turned out and reporting on all of the horrible things people do to one another, I'd made myself believe that everything just happened by chance. I mean, I couldn't believe that that could be my destiny in life."
"So what made you change your mind?"
Lois reached over and placed her hand on Clark's cheek, mimicking the loving gesture he reserved for her alone. "You did. You know, I always wondered how anyone could place their child in a spaceship and send him to a world they'd never see, not really knowing if he would even make it. But listening to you recall your parents' conversation, I realized that that was the greatest act of love … the greatest gift they could give you … the gift of life. And I realize now that everything does happen for a reason. I mean, you could have ended up anywhere, but you landed in Smallville at the exact time Martha and Jonathan were driving by, a couple who desperately wanted a child. They never questioned where you came from, but were just thankful to be able to give you a home. You could have worked for any paper in the world, yet you show up at the Planet."
Lois looked down and placed her free hand on her stomach. "And now, after everything we went through, we're married and expecting our first child. This has to be destiny. And not knowing what the future holds doesn't scare me anymore, *because* I know that this was meant to be. Martha made me realize that no one is prepared to be a parent … that you and I will make mistakes, but we'll learn from them and move on. I never thought I would ever love anyone the way I love you. I'm connected to you in a way I don't think I'll ever understand. And even though this child isn't even here yet … well, I have these feelings I can't describe, but they are the same ones I saw reflected in your eyes when you were repeating Lara and Jor-El's conversation."
Lois looked up at Clark and smiled. "I know I'm rambling, but I do have a point. All of this just sort of fell into place when I read the last line Jefferson wrote. That 'we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.' I know now how he felt when he wrote that, because that is our commitment to each other. And, I know you wanted to know what my fears were about the baby. I don't know that I was really able to describe them until now. Thank you for letting me work them out. I guess I had to come to terms with it myself before I could voice them. I guess my greatest fear was not feeling worthy of all of this … of you … the baby."
Clark reached over and placed his hand over the one she had resting on her swollen belly. "Honey … " Clark whispered, trying to disagree. Lois just continued.
"I kept coming back to what HG Wells told us about the future. About how our children changed the world. How our story was told to generation after generation of how their utopian society was formed. It's a bit overwhelming knowing the rest of the world is depending on you … on us. I didn't feel worthy of you, I certainly didn't feel worthy of that. I mean, I can't even make toast without burning it, how am I going to be responsible for helping change the world? But Jefferson's words finally made me see that it really is just about you and me. He and his compatriots pledged their lives to one another to form this country and then did what they had to do to prepare the way for future generations. All they could do was show the way, it was up to the future generations to see it through. And that's what we did. We pledged our lives to each other and will prepare our children to lead to way. I guess I felt it was all on our shoulders … that we were responsible for it all. And all along Martha was right."
"Right about what?"
"She told me that all any child asks for is to be loved and cared for. I guess it's the same when you are raising a child or a country."
Clark just looked at her and shook his head. "You are amazing, Lois Lane. I'm still not sure who's the one with superpowers in this relationship." Rubbing her stomach, he grinned. "This is far greater than any power I possess."
"Honey, I've also figured out what we should name 'Junior' here."
"Well, I asked Martha, I wanted to make sure … and she agreed with me. We both owe your real parents so much for sending you to us. It only seems fitting that their names be carried on to the future. If it's a girl, let's name her Lara, and if it's a boy, how about Joel … it's the closest to Jor-El."
Clark closed his eyes, overcome with emotion for the woman before him. Tears that had welled up in his eyes ran down his cheeks. Letting out a deep breath, he gently brushed his thumb along her face in a familiar gesture. "Lois, thank you. For everything … you are the only reason I exist. I've known it since the moment I saw you and I'll know it when I take my last breath." He paused a second, uncertain whether to continue. "There is something I need to tell you … and I know you wanted to wait to know about the baby, but … "
"No, Clark, tell me. I want to know. I know I said I wanted to be surprised, but I'm ready to know now."
"Well … " Clark grinned and looked down at her belly. Looking back up, he continued to caress her cheek and said simply, "We're being doubly blessed."
Lois' eyes got wider as his words sank in. "Clark, you don't mean … "
"Yes, honey. We can use both names. We are having a boy and a girl."
Lois just sat there, staring at her stomach, unable to form any words into a sentence. Clark allowed her some time to come to terms with the news. Finally, after a few minutes, Clark couldn't stand it any longer.
"Lois … honey … are you all right?"
Lois slowly turned to him and sighed. "Twins. That's all, right? Just two."
Clark smiled at her expression. "Yes, honey, just two."
"I take it back, Clark. I'm not ready."
"It will be okay, honey. Breathe, Lois."
"Twins … " Lois shook her head and grinned. "Do you always have to be such an overachiever?"
Clark just laughed, knowing that the initial shock had passed. "Well," he said with a devilish grin, "Weren't you the one who gave me the name Superman?"
"Yes, I did at that. So, I guess we'll have to amend the legendary slogan … faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and able to create twins in one try."
"I don't think the world needs that particular bit of information."
"I guess you're right. There are already too many women throwing themselves at you now. I certainly don't want this to get out."
Clark blushed, still uneasy with his 'idol' status. It always made Lois laugh knowing she had this effect on the 'man of steel'. "I'm sorry, Clark. Didn't mean to embarrass you … "
"No you're not."
"Okay, I'm not … but one thing's for sure. Unlike that Shadow fellow, you certainly proved that you are 'dynamite'."
Clark tried once again to mimic the Shadow's laugh, once again earning a laugh from Lois.
"The laugh still needs some work, however … "
The next few months were difficult ones for Lois and therefore for Clark. Because she was having twins, the doctor forbade her to return to work around the seventh month. The doctor actually wanted her out earlier, much earlier, but she only gave in when it *required* Superman to be able to get out of a chair. Even then, Perry and Clark worried about her returning after a few days. Perry went so far as to place 'Wanted' signs at the entrance and on the elevators, offering a bounty if anyone spotted her in the building.
All in all, she took it stride. Of course, to Lois Lane, this meant working from the bed through the phone lines. She even had Clark create a makeshift desk that he placed on his side of the bed each morning.
Clark was responsible for keeping her informed on their latest story and keeping her supplied with what was to become her mainstay, pears. Clark had never seen Lois eat a pear before, much less be able to pick one out in a grocery store, but every day she consumed several gallons of water and at least 5 pears. He had also set up a charge account at the McDonald's down the street when Lois realized how good pears were dipped in a milkshake. EPILOGUE:
December 3rd would be a day that Lois and Clark would remember for the rest of their lives. This was the day that the best news team in the industry were awarded their highest honor. A Pulitzer. But that was just a pale comparison of the joy the two of them shared on that day. For on this day, at the same time they were being honored for their most incredible journalist endeavor, Lois gave birth to Lara Lane Kent and Joel Samuel Kent. While she had waited her whole life to win a Pulitzer, after looking into the eyes of her two little miracles, she knew nothing would have the same meaning again.
Lois sat in the soft shadows, staring into the same eyes that she woke up to every morning. She gently rocked the small child held tightly in her arms, trying to lure him back to sleep. Looking down, she spotted the sleeping form of her husband who had finally given into exhaustion an hour earlier. Across the room, she could hear the soft murmurs of her daughter, who had fallen asleep just before Clark.
'This is bliss,' she thought. Finally, she realized what Clark and Martha had been trying to tell her all along. Looking at the impossibly small version of her husband in her arms, she finally realized just how much love she had to give. All along she had thought that there was just so much love to go around. She couldn't love Clark as much as she did and still have enough for a child, or in this case, children. Now she knew. Love doesn't divide or separate, but rather it expands. She knew she couldn't predict the future any more than her parents had and she knew she would make a million mistakes. She also knew that she and Clark would see them through together. That love made everything else possible.
Clark awoke in his old room at the farm house, just as he had so many times in the past. But on this morning, it wasn't a rooster's banter that pulled him from his dreams. This morning, it was a sound he had waited his whole life to hear. The simple cry of his child. Rolling over, he noticed Lois holding their son, gently rocking him to a rhythm only the two could hear. He slowly got up and walked over to his daughter, picking her up to hush her cries. Walking back to the bed, he noticed Lois watching him.
"So, Clark, I guess this is what it's going to be like. As soon as one's asleep, the other wakes up."
Clark sat down beside her and grinned. "Lois, you know Mom is going to stay with us for the first few months to help out. Between her and your Mom, I think we can handle it."
"I know. I just wish they could tell us what it is they want. I mean, she was crying. Why was she crying?"
"Honey, I think she's hungry."
"Oh … yeah, I guess you're right." Lois smiled, content that it was something they could take care of … until another thought entered her mind. "Oh … my … Clark, she's hungry," she repeated, it finally dawning on her of just how *she* was to take care of this hunger.
"It's okay, honey. You can do this."
"That's easy for you to say. Let's see you try it."
"Lois … "
Just then there was a soft knock on the door. Martha opened it and entered slowly, holding two bottles and a familiar red cape and suit. "Did I hear the sound of someone wanting a little breakfast?" Walking to her son, she handed him the suit and said simply, "There's a flood in Ecuador."
Clark looked over at Lois, not sure whether he was relieved or upset at the intrusion. Realizing his mother's intentions were for the best, and nonnegotiable, he kissed his daughter and handed her to his mother. "I guess I should go." Leaning down, he kissed his wife and son. "I'll be back as soon as I can. I love you … both."
With the blur of her son leaving through the window, Martha turned to the task at hand, ready to prepare another generation for the future.
As a lifelong fan of 30's and 40's radio series, 'The Shadow' and 'Superman', I couldn't resist finally getting this story down on paper. It always struck me as an amazing *coincidence*. The excerpts of the radio show is from "The Little Man Who Wasn't There," originally airing in 1945. The sponsor of this show was actually Linex(?) Cream Polish. An earlier sponsor was Blue Coal Oil, who always talked about anthracite in their ads. Not living in an area that used coal for heat, I always got a kick out of the ad and had to throw it in. (All rights belong to Street and Smith, and their successors.)
My apologies to Thomas Jefferson for using his historical text as a clue. Since it was used to protect what he created, I didn't think he would mind. Somehow, I'm sure he would have been a Superman fan. Guess we'll just have to ask Mr. Wells to know for sure …