By IRC Round Robin
Submitted January 15, 1998
Summary: Take one New Year's Eve party for Metropolis's rich and famous, add a well-meaning experiment by Dr. Klein and mix well. Result: Just another day in the life of Lois and Clark. By Zoomway, ChrisM, CKgroupie, ChrisnDor, Eraygun and sharper.
An IRC round-robin fanfic by: Zoomway, ChrisM, CKgroupie, ChrisnDor, Eraygun, and sharper
Lois left Perry's office, breezed through the news room and was halfway up the landing to the elevator before Clark caught up to her. "Honey—" Lois, not looking at him, rang for the elevator.
Clark shoved his hands deep into his pockets and rolled his eyes. "What choice did I have?" Lois stepped into the elevator, and Clark reluctantly followed. It suddenly resembled a refrigerator as Lois lowered the temperature.
Then, as always happened, Lois responded, and Clark wondered if the silent treatment was not in fact better. "Choice? We're partners, right?"
"We're married, right?"
"Of course, and I—"
"Then please tell me why you took it upon yourself to volunteer *us* to take over that bloated, dull, bigwig soiree when Perry had to back out?"
"Wait a minute," Clark said as the doors opened on the lobby. "Weren't you the one telling me that you wanted to make up for all those times you invited people to dinner and then forgot?"
"Uh huh." He smiled as they passed through the revolving door. "Weren't you upset that you were suffering from … from, what did you call it?"
"MTMS," Lois replied flatly.
"Right! Mary Tyler Moore Syndrome," he laughed.
Lois, not wanting to, found herself laughing too. "Okay, I guess I did."
Clark drew his arm around her waist. "You 'guess'?"
"All right, I did, Mr. District Attorney." Lois turned and faced her bemused husband and placed her hands on his chest, "But you have to *promise* to help make this thing come out right."
"I promise," he said softly, but still was a bit full of himself. He knew Lois. "You know you thrive on pressure, and you know you want this thing to be a success."
"Well—" She shrugged. "I don't want it to be a failure."
"You know what I mean. You want this to be a *success*. You want people talking about it. You want this to be the high water mark of parties and—"
"Clark, if you stop now, there's a good chance I may still sleep in the same bed with you."
Clark laughed. "I think I'd better get to STAR Labs then and see what Klein was so excited about."
Lois pulled herself up a bit using Clark's lapels and kissed him. "Okay. It sounded like something that could help … you know who … in an emergency."
"I hope so," he said, returned the kiss, and they both hurried down opposite sides of the street.
Lois pulled out her notepad as soon as she got into her Jeep. She tried to focus on her hurriedly scribbled notes, but in her head she was still replaying the recent scene in Perry's office.
She'd been looking forward to *going* to a party … not *giving* one. Grumbling to herself, she tossed the pad onto the passenger seat and started up the engine.
First stop … the caterers. Perry had promised to have everyone on the guest list notified of the change of venue, so as least she wouldn't have to worry about that.
The sign outside the "Metropolitan Catering Emporium and Bowling Alley" made numerous extravagant claims about their services … most of which Lois doubted. Only Perry, Lois thought with a grimace, would have picked a place like this.
The interior was unprepossessing … and noisy. Eventually Lois was ushered into the manager's office. He was a large man, and Lois found herself wondering if he'd gotten that way from eating his own cooking.
It would be an understatement to say that the two of them did not hit it off. Five minutes later, the caterer/bowling alley impresario was out of a job, and Lois was back outside, sitting in her car with her car phone trying to get a list of available caterers.
Three hours later, she was in the townhouse and regretting her hasty termination of the catering contract. She'd called *everyone* in the phone book, but they were all already booked for New Year's Eve. Even Ralph's Pagoda.
What was she going to do now? Perry was counting on her and all those people would be coming to her house expecting to find food—*lots* of it—and drink—*gallons* of it—and she didn't have a caterer.
Then it dawned on her. She had an ace in the hole … she had super help.
The more she thought about it, the better she liked the idea. That would serve Clark right! After all *he* was the one who had been so eager to have the party! Now he had the party and the whole responsibility for the food. Should be no problem for her superhusband, should it?
She gave up phoning around and instead started looking forward to telling him the good news. Speaking of telling him…where in heavens name was he? Didn't he mention that he just wanted to go over to STAR Labs? He'd been gone for more than four hours!
She turned on the TV, her usual way to find out about the actual location of her husband's doings, but the world seemed to be really quiet today. No explosion or bank alarm or anything like that. Nothing that cried for Superman's help. So where was he?
Well, there was nothing she could do about it right now. Maybe she should just concentrate on the big challenge: making this damn party a success.
She got the location, she got the guests, and food was Clark's problem now. That left only the beverages. She had no idea how much she had to buy for so many people, but she guessed right, that the friendly guy from the liquor store would be delighted to tell her and she just had to trust him. So she decided to make a final call, after all. And then she would look for her missing husband.
Meanwhile at STAR Labs, an excited Dr. Klein had provided Clark with something that looked like a Walkman of some sort.
Some time back, Dr. Klein had started to work on a device that was supposed to help Superman keep and recharge his energy if he was ever out of the sun too long. His encounter with the Press brothers a while ago had reminded Superman that even his invulnerability had limits. Without sunlight, his superpowers could be cut off.
Thus, although a little warily, Superman had agreed to participate in Dr. Klein's recent research project. So far, it hadn't produced anything of use though.
Dr. Klein had spent the better part of three hours explaining the technicalities to him. Clark, although fairly well read in physics and other natural sciences, had soon not been able to follow the enthusiastic scientist anymore. Klein was jumping from one idea to another so fast, Clark felt he was trying to catch a grasshopper or cricket in tall grass. His superpowers were of no use there.
What it came down to was that the little gadget acted as a "solar energy collector". In the end, when Dr. Klein had returned to Earth from his lofty flight, he had needed just five minutes to explain how to operate it. Not much bigger than a pocket pager, Clark could easily wear it on his belt. He had been sent off with instructions to try and use it and report back to Star Labs the following week—or sooner should problems arise.
Clark breathed a sigh of relief when he was finally back out in the street. He liked the good doctor and had come to consider him a friend, but when Klein got enthusiastic and took off soaring, he was amusing, but also a little exasperating. In the end, Clark couldn't help smiling at the thought, though. And it wouldn't be a week till he would see him again, for he remembered seeing Klein's name on the list of invited guests.
The thought of the party made him look at his watch. Realizing how much time had elapsed, he decided to get home the fast way.
Lois thought she must have worn a permanent path into the floor by the time she heard the familiar *whoosh* and thud of Clark landing. When Clark came downstairs, he braced himself for the tornado that welcomed him.
When Lois was going in high gear like this, there was nothing to do but ride out the storm. And Clark did learn that there was no catering service hired after all. Fortunately, when he didn't show up earlier, Lois had had a variety of groceries delivered. In the end, once she had gotten the frustration out of her system, Lois was even able to respond to his gentle teasing, claiming that she had only unhired the caterers because she, too, was eating and wanted to enjoy his cooking—as well as get even with him.
Even at superspeed, preparing the food for the reception had taken its time, and it was nearly time for the first guest to arrive when everything was arranged as it should.
Thus Clark all but supersped when he hurried upstairs to freshen up and change into the tuxedo that Lois had already laid out for him. He smiled recalling how much she liked seeing him in it, and couldn't help feeling excited at the prospect of seeing her in the new evening dress he had given her for Christmas.
Hurrying into the bedroom, he bumped against the sun lamp her mother had given Lois for Christmas. Although she hadn't particularly wanted one, in the end she had tried it out so as not to lie to her mother when answering her repeated questions of how it *felt*. Clark noticed that lamp was still plugged in since it began to hiss and spit in protest when the switch hit the wall. As he zoomed in to assess any possible damage, the lamp suddenly came to life. The bright glare surprised and momentarily blinded him. He lost his balance and stumbled backwards against the bed.
He sat down on it somewhat disoriented, which was how Lois found him when she came into the bedroom having heard the noise of the lamp falling over.
"Clark, what happened?" she asked.
When he didn't respond immediately, she pulled the plug from the socket since the lamp continued to hiss and spit angrily. "Clark, are you all right?" she repeated as she crossed the distance between them.
The blinding light gone, Clark blinked, looked at her in a somewhat dazed way for a moment, but then smiled. "Yeah, sure, honey. I'm fine."
"Good. You better hurry up and change."
"Change…?" Clark looked at her questioningly.
"Yeah, the tuxedo. Good thing you didn't sit on it. You barely missed it."
"Oh, the tuxedo," Clark said slowly, a smile spreading across his face. "You like to see me in it, don't you?" He reached out and pulled her into an embrace, kissing her deeply.
She blushed. "Yeah, of course, I do—"
The doorbell interrupted her. "I like that dress you're wearing, too," Clark began, playfully reaching around and pulling the zipper down just a little. "But I like what's in it even…"
"Clark, please!" She smiled, but had to disentangled herself from his embrace as the doorbell rang again, more insistently this time. Getting up, she looked at him. "Please hurry up. I'll meet you downstairs."
"Downstairs…? Here would be fine with me … but whatever you like best."
Lois giggled. "Well, we don't want a reception up here, do we?" With that she was out the door.
Several of the guests had arrived by the time Clark finally came downstairs to join her. Lois had begun to feel rather agitated as well as just a little annoyed at being left to her own devices for so long. But seeing Clark standing at the foot of the stairs, hands in his pockets surveying the scene, she felt her resistance melt as their eyes met and locked. Making his way through the crowd, he came over to her and, taking her in his arms—suddenly smacked her butt.
"Ow!" Lois rubbed her backside. "What's gotten into you?"
"Nothing," he whispered in a gravelly, low tone. "I feel … great. Really good … top of the world—"
Lois patted his shoulder. "I get the picture. So, let's mingle."
Clark pulled her close. "In front of everyone?"
Lois shook her head. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm better than 'okay', honey. When we get to that mingling thing you'll find out."
Lois started to reply, but the mayor walked over. Lois shot Clark a sobering look, though the term might be relative this evening. "Mayor, good to see you," Lois shmoozed. "How's the baby?"
"Oh, a treasure, Ms. Lane. Are you and your husband planning a family?"
Clark winked. "One day, but for now the practice part is really great."
The mayor's eyes widened, but Lois tapped Clark in the stomach with her elbow and faked a laugh. "He's always been such a kidder." She then rubbed her sore elbow.
The mayor nodded and laughed politely. "Well, you are such an attractive couple, you'd have a beautiful child."
As the mayor droned on, Clark moved up behind Lois and started kissing her neck. Lois bit her lip. "Affectionate tonight, isn't he?"
The mayor smiled. "Why, yes, how … lucky you are. I think I'll be heading back to my own husband."
"Mingle, mingle," Clark whispered next to Lois's neck.
"Clark, what is the matter with you!" she said, spinning around to face him.
"I love how you dance," he said airily.
"Please come into the kitchen with me … *now*"
Clark shrugged and followed his wife, but not before Klein grabbed his sleeve. "Nice party, Mr. Kent.
"Bernie!" Clark said loudly. "Call me Clark. That guy in tights has said some 'super' things about you."
Klein blinked. "I'm flattered."
Clark nodded. "I used to be soooo jealous of Superman. My wife was so hung up on him."
"Oh, God," Lois whispered.
"Um..really?" Klein said and began to perspire slightly.
"You *bet* really. The funny thing is, Bernie, I had a little secret Lois didn't know about."
"Clark!" Lois called, and everyone turned to look at her. She smiled. "I need your help in the kitchen."
Clark gave Lois a lopsided grin. "Sure, sweetie, I'll be right there. I was just chatting with Bernie here…"
"I know that, *darling*," Lois said with a tight smile, "but it really is important."
Clark shrugged. "Okay, see ya later, Bernie." And he lightly tapped Dr. Klein on the back, nearly propelling him across the room and into the mayor's husband's lap.
Lois grabbed Clark by the hand and dragged him into the kitchen. As the door closed behind them she grabbed him by the lapels of his tux. "What is the matter with you?"
"Nothing, honey," Clark said as he wrapped his arms around Lois waist. "I feel just fine." With that he began nuzzling Lois's neck and one of his hands began rubbing up and down her spine.
Clark heard Lois's groan and thought she was beginning to respond to him, so he was astounded to hear the groan turn to a growl of exasperation and to feel her small hands pushing him away from her.
"Clark!" she hissed at him, her voice verging on anger. "*What* is wrong with you?"
The silly smile he'd had on his face all evening reappeared as he reached for her again. "Nothing's wrong with me, sweetie. And," he paused for a moment to look her over appreciatively, "there's certainly nothing wrong with you, either. Come here, gorgeous."
Lois retreated to the other side of the cooking island, relieved that none of their guests were there at the moment. There was no telling when they might be interrupted, however, so she needed to get Clark straightened out … pronto!
She raised a reprimanding finger at him and used her sternest tone of voice. "Clark Kent, you behave yourself right now, or—"
"Or what?" Clark asked with a grin, following her around the island and entering into the spirit of this game.
"Or … or …" Lois searched her mind desperately for a deterrent that would have some effect on a guy who could pick up buses and stop tidal waves. "Or, I'll tell your mother on you!"
Clark paused, as if thinking about the consequences of her threat. Then he grinned again, immediately seeing the hole in her argument. "But my mom's not here," he reminded her in a sing-song voice. "So that won't work."
Lois moved around the island some more. "Clark Kent, I'm not kidding!"
Clark followed her, the grin on his face getting wider, and he was starting to giggle. "I'm not kidding either, Lois. Stop trying to run away, and I'll show you."
"No, Clark, we have guests."
He stopped and looked around. "Where?"
"Where are they? I don't see them."
Lois watched in disbelief as her husband opened the broom closet as if to look for the lost guests. This was unreal. If she didn't know better she'd think he was drunk … or crazy.
"See …? Clark paused for effect, then giggled again. "Nobody there." He then turned and proceeded to open a few more cabinet doors, peeking into the cabinets and giving Lois a wink with each of them.
Lois had never known Clark to be affected by alcohol. But she was beginning to wonder. She turned around and got closer to Clark, intending to smell his breath even though she knew he hadn't really had any time to have more than a sip of anything.
Clark grinned as she came closer, suddenly whisking her into his arms. "Changed your mind?" he whispered into her ear as he held her tenderly yet securely.
"Clark …" She couldn't smell any alcohol on his breath. Yet he wasn't paying attention to her as he began to systematically rain light kisses on her face, soon focusing his attention on her right ear.
Now it was her turn to try and keep from being distracted. He knew exactly which places to touch, and was nibbling away at her with great enthusiasm now. Although she was enjoying the attention, she was also aware that she seemed to be the only one of the two who was conscious of the party in full swing right outside the kitchen door. She knew that even more guests had arrived since the doorbell had rung three times since they went to the kitchen.
Fortunately, somebody seemed to have answered the door for them. Clark was not to be distracted, however. He was holding her close to him and kept nibbling her earlobe while his hands had started a single-minded exploration of their own. Lois was trying hard not to respond too much, when suddenly the kitchen door opened and in burst Jimmy Olsen, a little out of breath as usual.
"Oh, here you are!" he exclaimed.
For once, Lois didn't mind the Jimmy interruptus that much. She smiled at him as she greeted him a little overenthusiastically. "Oh, Jimmy, good to see you!"
After a few moments, his presence registered with Clark also. "Hey, Jimbo!" Clark shouted, his mouth still half filled with Lois's ear lobe.
Lois winced at Clark's volume so close to her ear.
Jimmy blushed a little taking in the scene.
"Your timing's bad as usual, though, buddy," Clark said as he continued to nibble.
"Well, I'm sorry, guys, but …" Jimmy was definitely embarrassed. "Mr. Stern just arrived and wants to meet the top reporter team of his Planet. Said something about special honors…"
Lois rolled her eyes heavenwards.
Lois nodded. "Be right there, Jimmy."
The moment Jimmy exited, Lois turned back to Clark. "You have *got* to pull yourself together. Now it's our *jobs*."
Clark smiled. "I never noticed how much your eyes sparkle in this light."
"Clark, *please* focus."
Clark's eyes unglazed for a moment. "Focused. I like that lilac underwear."
"Oy," Lois sighed. "Let's go visit Mr. Stern, and do *not* x-ray anyone else."
Clark walked with her to the door. "I only have eyes for you… Do you know I think of that as 'our song', honey?"
"That's nice," she said, took a breath, and opened the door.
The assembled guests laughed when Clark quipped, "Bet you didn't think you'd see the Lois and Clark expedition again."
Lois tugged her besotted husband over to Franklin Stern, an imposing man whom even Perry approached with caution.
"Here are my star reporters." He smiled.
Clark reached out his hand to Stern. "Lois is the star, sir. I just hitch my wagon to her," he said, and then winked wickedly. "Every chance I get."
"You're too modest, Mr. Kent," Stern said, shaking his hand. "You, after all, got the first exclusive interview with Superman. I'd love to know how you managed that scoop."
Clark laughed. "I just gave myself a good talking to."
Lois laughed nervously as panic set in. "Clark likes to give himself pep talks."
"Well, whatever works, I always say."
Clark raised his eyebrows. "'Quota, revenue, or else' is what Perry says you always say."
The silence in the room thundered in Lois's ears. After a beat, Stern laughed loudly. "Lord, Kent, Perry must have put you up to this. I heard he had to back out on the party."
"Yes," Lois interrupted. "Good old Perry. He just didn't want this evening to go by without some little reminder it was *his* party and *his* idea. I hope this party will be remembered as *his*."
Stern chuckled. "My dear, that's very unselfish of you. But I'm sure Perry would want you and Clark to take credit for this extravaganza. The food is fantastic by the way. Who's the caterer?"
Clark grinned. "Oh it's just something I … er … we whipped up in the kitchen."
"Really I had no idea you were so talented in the kitchen, Lois."
"She's talented in lots of rooms," Clark interrupted. "Particularly in the bed—"
"Clark!" Lois said and quickly placed a hand over his mouth. "Do you smell something burning in the kitchen?"
Clark shook his head.
"Well, *I* do," Lois said between clenched teeth. "We need to go see about it *now.* We'll be right back, Mr. Stern." And once again Lois dragged Clark out to the kitchen.
"Have you lost your mind completely?!" she hissed as the door swing shut.
Clark shrugged, but before he could give a response, the kitchen radio crackled with an incoming news bulletin. "This just in. Police report that there is a hostage crisis taking place at the main post office."
Lois raised her eyes to heaven and briefly contemplated indulging in a primal scream. A rescue! Of all the wrong times for a rescue, this had to be the wrongest!
She pulled Clark to the back door and opened it, then turned to face him. "Clark!"
He was looking at her hair and reached a hand up to play with the curls at her right ear. "Hmmm?"
"Clark! Did you hear that? Hostage situation … you have to go."
His eyes came back to her face, and she could see how unfocused his gaze was. His condition seemed to be worsening. She shook him. "Clark! Did you hear me?"
He blinked a few times with great deliberation and took a deep breath. "Sure. Hostages. Go." Then he looked around the kitchen again. "Where?"
"Great Shades of Elvis!" Lois muttered with great emotion. What in the world was going on here? "Clark, you have to go save those people."
"Yes." She made their hand motion for flying. "You know … go … do what you … do. Super—"
She was interrupted by the sound of someone clearing his throat behind her. "Could you use my help?" She turned and looked into the friendly, albeit guilty face of Dr. Klein.
Clark broke into a big grin. "Oh, hi, Bernie!"
The hostage situation temporarily forgotten, Clark made his way around Lois and eagerly shook the doctor's hand. When he moved to slap his back again, Klein quickly ducked out of the way. Clark, hitting thin air, was off balance momentarily, but quickly steadied himself holding onto the doctor. "Well, you know, the treatment is working. But maybe you need to give Lois here a treatment, too."
Klein looked from Lois to Clark and back again. If he assessed the situation correctly, his help was needed … although he didn't quite know how to help.
"Ms. Lane," Klein said, looking from her to Clark again, "I don't think your husband should be out … in traffic."
Clark gave Klein a slow smile. "Thanks, doc. I don't want to be out at all… Maybe you could … you know … prescribe some … er … rest?"
"Clark …" Lois didn't know what to make of the situation.
Lois tried to assess everything quickly. If there was one repetitive theme with Clark this evening, it was his amorous obsession. "Clark," she whispered. "I think it's so sexy when I hear about you 'saving the day' on the radio."
"It gets me—" she glanced at Klein and blushed— "hot."
Clark spun into the Superman outfit. "Keep the radio tuned to channel WHOT," he said, now leering more than gazing at her, and then was gone in a blur.
Lois wiped the plastered smile from her face and grabbed Klein by the lapels. "What the *hell* did you do to my husband?"
Klein grimaced. "I didn't know the *hell* he was your husband until a few minutes ago!"
Lois relented and released the shaken (not stirred) doctor. "I'm sorry, Dr. Klein. You've always been a good friend to Superman. It's just that—"
Klein nodded sympathetically. "It's always…something."
"What happened to him?"
"Now that, I'm not sure of. He was fine when he left STAR Labs. I'd created a treatment that would give him a boost if away from the sun and in need of a physical recharge."
Lois's pulse began to race. "Would a strong, artificial light source have an adverse effect?"
Klein shrugged. "Possibly."
"Oh, God. There's a sun lamp my mother sent me."
"Yes, Clark seemed to have run afoul of the thing in the bedroom. He may be the man of steel, but Fred Astaire he ain't."
"I could run tests."
"We don't have time for tests, Dr. Klein! I've got a room full of important people and a husband who just *happens* to be Superman flying while intoxicated!"
"I've got an idea, but I'll have to go back to STAR Labs and get what I need."
Lois hugged him. "Please hurry. If Clark gets back before you do, he'll be expecting a lot more than just some crab puffs."
"On my way!" the doctor shouted.
Clark made a less than smooth landing at Metropolis's main post office, taking out a lamppost and a mail box before finally stopping in front of Captain Sawyer of the SCU. Dazed but determined, he shook his head and grinned at Captain Sawyer. "How's it going, Maggie? Heard you could use a little help."
Sawyer eyed Superman warily. "Well thanks, big guy, we certainly could use some assistance…"
"Okie dokie," Clark replied. "But I've got to make this quick. I've got a hot …" Maggie and her second in command leaned closer and began to listen intently. "… Never mind, I'll just make this quick." He disappeared in a blur and 5 seconds later, the hostage taker was bundled at the SCU commander's feet like a Christmas turkey.
Clark grinned once more. "Ta-Ta," he said, and then he streaked off into the night sky.
"You know, if I didn't know better, I'd swear he was tipsy," Sgt. Turpin said to Maggie Sawyer.
"Well, I guess he's allowed to blow off a little steam once in a while. It is New Year's Eve. Besides, are you going to be the one to give him a ticket?"
Back at the party, Lois was attempting to play the perfect hostess while covering for the missing Clark with marginal success. It looked like her string of entertainment disasters was going to remain unbroken. Her only hope was that the party would end before the emergency.
That hope died when she heard a sudden ==whoosh== at the backdoor.
Her next hope was that Superman wouldn't suddenly appear … in the same condition that Clark had left in. Fortunately, though, it was Clark who came through the doors, not Superman.
*Unfortunately,* he was still obviously not himself. How much longer was this going to last?
Dr. Klein mumbled to himself as he went through the various cabinets and drawers in his lab. "Let's see, I need this gizmo…and that thingamajig…and where did I put that whatzis? Oh, there it is! Geez! Will you look at that! So *that's* where this whatchamacallit got to!"
Eventually, he'd located everything he thought he'd need and was headed for the door, his coat pockets bulging. He'd heard on the lab's radio that Superman had helped corral whoever had created the disturbance at the post office, so he figured that Clark must be back at the party by now. At least…he hoped that's where he was. If he wasn't, Dr. Klein couldn't even begin to imagine how they'd go about finding an AWOL Superman…much less an FWI Superman.
Lois looked at the clock again. Could it really be only an hour ago that this party had started? She felt wrung out. She *really* hoped Dr. Klein would get back soon.
Back at the party, Lois felt her stomach do unexpected somersaults when Clark came down the stairs, his shirt open by two buttons and his bowtie perked to one side. Just a bit of blue was visible from under the open shirt. She rushed up to him and, wrapping her arms around him, said, just a little too loudly, "Oh, there you are! I'm glad you're feeling better."
Clark immediately focused his attention on her, kissing her intently while she fumbled with his shirt buttons. "Hola!" Clark exclaimed. Misinterpreting her attention to his buttons, he swept her off her feet and whisked back up the stairs at slightly more than normal speed.
In his current state, opening their bedroom door was more than he could handle while carrying Lois, so Clark pressed her up against the door, kissing her and asking, "So how did that rescue make you feel?"
His hips were pressed tightly to hers and one hand was reaching for her zipper while the other was sliding under her skirt and up her thigh. She figured she had about two seconds before any of their guests wandering upstairs in search of a bathroom got the show of a lifetime. She reached behind her for the doorknob and turned it, praying that she remembered enough of her martial arts training.
Under the pressure of their combined weights, the door swung open, and they fell inward. Lois twisted and rolled, but Clark's reflexes were abnormally slow—which is to say they were about on par with a normal human male—and he landed heavily on the floor beside her.
She kept rolling and was on her feet even as he reached for her, a grin spreading across his face at this new game. For an instant, she was free, but she had about as much chance of staying out of her husband's reach as a snowball had of maintaining a solid state in the devil's domain.
Lois glanced around the room desperately—and saw the bathroom door. Inspiration struck. Pressing a hand to her stomach and putting all the day's frustration into her grimace, she held Clark off with one weakly waving hand. "Ohhh," she moaned, "I don't feel so good."
Clark had risen to his feet and had his arms out to scoop her into them, but he stopped short at her words. His smile wavered and faded. "You don't?"
She wasn't sure that a mere upset stomach would hold him off for long—not in the state he was in, so she decided to up the ante. "I think I'm going to be sick."
His forward motion came to a complete stop. At his horrified look, she turned and stumbled into the bathroom. With the door safely closed, she turned on the water in the sink.
God, what a mess. Here she was, holed up in the master bathroom, while her amorous spouse waited outside the door and a score of Planet bigwigs wandered around downstairs. If only she could think of an errand that would send Clark away or that would give her an excuse to go downstairs—an excuse that he wouldn't simply ignore.
And where was the author of her problems, Dr. Bernard "I love using Superman as a guinea pig" Klein?
The party was actually doing quite well, considering that both the host and hostess were inexplicably absent, Dr. Klein noticed as he sidled between two very large men in well-fitting tuxedos. Most of the guests were either pretending that Lois and Clak *weren't* absent (those were the administrators, he guessed), or they were placing bets on what excuse the Kents would use to explain their absence. Since most of the people involved in the latter activity seemed to be younger and wearing less custom-fitted evening clothes, he guessed that they were staff members.
Before he was reduced to searching the house room by room, he saw a face he recognized. "Jimmy … Olsen, isn't it?"
Jimmy turned and smiled at Dr. Klein. "Hey, you're with the Lab Rats, aren't you?"
The doctor nodded. "Have you seen Lois and Clark?"
Jimmy rolled his eyes ceilingward and jerked a thumb toward the stairs. "They went thataway."
"Thanks." Dr. Klein patted his shoulder. You could always depend on a fellow biker.
Klein noticed the bedroom door was not closed. He craned his head to the side and saw Clark, by himself, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I'm in time. Lois won't kill me." He pushed the door open gently. "Where's your wife, Mr. Kent?"
Clark looked up, his expression forlorn. "She's not feeling well, Doctor Klein."
"Ah." Klein nodded and rapped on the bathroom door. "Ms. Lane, it's Klein. I might be able to help you feel better."
"Thank God," she whispered and opened the door. To her surprise, Clark took her in his arms and swayed gently. It seemed his emotions, whether amorous or sympathetic, were on override.
He kissed the top of her head. "You'll be okay, honey."
Klein smiled. "She'll be all right, Clark," he said and then turned to Lois. "I just happen to have the pocket edition interositor with me."
Clark looked up at Klein. "And that will make her better?"
Lois shot a conspiratorial glance at Klein. "So what do I do, doctor?"
"Well, Lois, first Clark needs to move a bit back."
Clark obediently stepped back and reseated himself on the edge of the bed. Klein removed the interositor and handed it to Lois.
She raised her eyebrows questioningly. "All you have to do, Ms. Lane, is turn it on and aim it."
"Oh, well, anywhere skin is exposed. The face would be fine."
Lois nodded, turned, and pointed the interositor at Clark and turned it on.
Clark began to stand, but sat back down when the dark light poured over his face. He closed his eyes a moment.
Klein walked over and shut off the machine and then continued forward to Clark. "How do you feel?"
Clark looked at him. "Where'd you come from, Doctor Klein?"
Klein shrugged and looked over his shoulder to Lois. "Complete binge blackout. He's all right, but he likely won't remember much of what he did this evening."
Clark stood up and groaned, "My head feels like it weighs as much as a battleship."
Lois stroked his cheek. "And instant hangover."
"Hangover? Was I … drunk?"
"I'm tempted to ask 'does a bear take Reader's Digest in the woods', but I'll just leave it at yes, you were drunk."
"But how … I mean, it can't be possible."
Klein sighed. "It seems we still have a bug or two to work out on that energy boost thing, Superman."
Clark's heart began to pound. "Lois, did you tell him I'm—?"
"No," Klein replied quickly. "I'm afraid you were a bit liberal with your secret … but don't worry, only I caught it … by accident … um, in the kitchen."
Clark sat back down, and Lois walked over and put her hand around his shoulder. "It's okay, sweetie. You don't remember what you said to the mayor's wife or Mr. Stern, so it's all for the best."
Clark fell back on the bed and covered his eyes. "At least my parents weren't here." He uncovered his eyes slowly. "They weren't, were they?"
"No," Lois laughed, "but I can send Martha an e-mail now since we gave her that computer for Christmas."
Clark propped himself up on his elbows. "If I'd never met your mother, I'd always wonder where your sadistic streak came from."
Klein laughed, but covered his mouth quickly and blushed.
Clark turned and looked at the bemused doctor. "I don't suppose there's any way for you to forget all of this too, Dr. Klein?"
"Frankly, Super … er, Clark, you and your wife have a problem hiding your affection for each other when you visit me. I see you and her together more often when you're Superman. It may be the only reason your co-workers don't suspect. They see you together as Lois and Clark," he said and folded his arms. "I'm afraid I've suspected as much for quite some time."
Clark let out a long sigh. "We're that obvious?"
"Only to me," Klein reassured him. "I've gotten to the point I ask technicians and assistants to leave when the two of you are likely to end up together in my lab."
Clark smiled and shook his head. "You were protecting the secret, even from us."
"You and Ms. Lane are the best friends I have. I'm afraid I'm not much of a social butterfly … or maybe you hadn't noticed."
Lois kissed his cheek. "It's society's loss."
Clark smoothed back his hair and straightened his tie. "Well, I guess we'd better go back and face our guests, and I'll apologize if you just point out the people I offended."
"Good, I made flashcards."
Clark laughed and put his arm around her shoulder. "I really said something offensive to the mayor?"
"Not really," Lois soothed. "But she did say you and I would have a beautiful baby."
Klein opened the door. "I'm sure she's right. We'll know in a few months anyway—" Klein grimaced at Lois. "Or was that a secret, too?"