By IRC Round Robin
Submitted November 1998
Summary: Lois and Clark put their investigative skills to use when someone decides that a charity masquerade Halloween party at the Daily Planet is the perfect place to get away with murder.
An IRC Round Robin by Misha <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Zoomway <email@example.com>; Eraygun <Eraygun@aol.com>; chrispat <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Mackteach <Mackteach@aol.com>
"It was a dark and stormy night … " Clark intoned in a sepulchral voice.
"Clark!" Lois glared at him over her shoulder as he helped her out of her coat in the Daily Planet lobby. "It's never dark in Metropolis, and it hasn't even started to rain yet. You're going a little overboard on this whole Halloween thing."
"Mmm … " Clark pondered that for a microsecond before the full effect of Lois' costume hit him. "Nope. Can't be that." He ran his hands over the shot silk that slithered close to Lois' sides and bent over for a kiss.
Clark backed off, a tad bewildered. "What?"
"Your mustache is crooked, Nick." Lois traced her finger over Clark's lips, the tip of her tongue mimicking the movement.
"Ah … Lois?" Clark bit back a groan as his eyes followed her tongue's path.
"Nora, darling. I'm Nora tonight."
"My mustache is a little higher up."
"True." Lois reached up on tiptoes and pressed her lips to his. She was almost distracted enough to forget to adjust Clark's fake mustache. Almost.. Her lip tickled as she brought up a finger and tweaked the mustache into position. She giggled.
"Am I straight now?" Clark twitched the mustache from side to side.
Lois grinned as the elevator doors opened behind him, and pushed him backwards. "Yep."
Clark floated back a foot, then stumbled as Jimmy and his date beat the first few drops of rain into the lobby.
"Hey, CK, Lois!" Jimmy called out as he tried not to appear to be dragging his date across the lobby.
"Hey, Jimmy." Lois held the elevator doors for them.
"Actually, it's Frank Hardy, ma'am." Jimmy grinned.
Lois rolled her eyes. "Ma'am?"
"I'm Nancy Draw," the rather bored young woman shrugged. "Whoever that is … "
"Oh," Lois smiled. "Nancy Drew in the present tense."
"Yeah, whatever," she said, and tugged at the high collar of her blouse. "She dressed like a dork whoever she was."
"Well," Jimmy said breathlessly. "I think you look really cute, Clarissa."
"Why couldn't I be someone sexy instead of 'cute'? This is starting to bend my aura."
Lois and Clark exchanged pained glances. "Here we are," Clark said cheerfully as the elevator opened on the city room. "Your aura can have some breathing room now."
The young woman bustled from the elevator muttering, "Thank God."
Jimmy shrugged at his friends. "I know, I know, she's kind of … out there, but when you get to know her—"
"She's still out there," he sighed. "But she's cute enough that you're willing to overlook her … "
Clark searched desperately for a tactful word.
"Idiosyncrasies," Lois said, and leaned against Clark's shoulder.
"Yeah," Jimmy smiled. "Besides, she lives alone!"
Lois and Clark watched Jimmy trot off happily. "Were you ever that desperate, Clark?" Lois asked, still lazily leaning against her husband.
"Only when I met you, honey. I had it pretty easy until then."
Lois smacked his chest playfully. "Well, you remained patient till you met me, so you didn't have it *that* easy."
Clark extended his arm. "True. My dad said, 'Anything worth having—'"
"—is worth waiting for," Lois said, taking his arm.
"Actually, he said 'Anything worth having is a lot cheaper at CostMart'."
"I hate you, Nick."
Clark pulled Lois to him and squeezed her waist. "And I love you … Nora." His eyes twinkled as he placed a soft kiss on her lips. He felt Lois smile against his mouth. "Mmm. Much as I'd love to continue to do this, I hear Perry walking toward us."
Lois sighed and muttered something that made Clark chuckle. As they walked down the ramp toward the center of the newsroom, he whispered. "Maybe later."
Lois looked at him and raised her eyebrow. "Count on it." She turned her attention to Perry. "Hi, Chief. Or should I say … Lieutenant Columbo?"
Perry grinned as he removed the cigar from his mouth. "Right on the money. Inspector Henderson had a spare overcoat, so he let me borrow it."
Clark grinned. "Speaking of Inspector Henderson, what did he come as? Himself?"
Perry's loud guffaw made a few heads turn. "That would be something, wouldn't it? Nah, he came as Charlie Chan."
Perry turned toward the rest of the partygoers. "See? That's him over there. His wife is dressed as Number One Son."
Lois and Clark nodded as they surveyed the room. In keeping with the theme of the party, 'Law and Order', there were several Keystone Cops, two James Bonds, another Hardy Boy besides Jimmy, and …
"Clark? Isn't that Dr. Klein over there?"
Clark looked to where Lois was pointing. "It sure is, honey." He grinned as he turned to her. "And look who he's playing Watson to."
Lois quickly identified Sherlock Holmes. Laughing, she clutched Clark's arm. "Dr. Friskin?!? Oh, that's great!"
Lois waved to Holmes and Watson as she and Clark approached the buffet table. They greeted her with a wave and nod before returning to their discussion.
"And how did that make you feel, Dr. Klein?"
Dr. Klein munched on a broccoli floret as he considered her question. "Actually, amazingly free of any insecurities, Dr. Friskin. You see, they've moved me into management at STAR Labs, overseeing the R&D section. That's a lot of responsibility, and while I enjoy it, I miss the hands-on part of research."
Dr. Friskin nodded slowly. "So, you're saying that my assuming the role of Sherlock Holmes, the 'lead figure', and you being Watson, the 'sidekick', makes you feel no less important?"
"Not in the least." He popped a baby carrot into his mouth.
Dr. Friskin smiled. "You have quite a stable self-image, Dr. Klein."
Klein winked. "And how does that make *you* feel, Dr. Friskin?"
As they moved away from the buffet table, their conversation continued.
Lois shook her head in disbelief. "Did I hear right? Are they *analyzing* each other?"
Clark nodded. "Sounded like that to me, honey. Dip?" He turned to put some chips and dip on his paper plate.
Lois grinned as she watched Clark put more 'non-nutritional, high-calorie' appetizers on his plate. She sighed audibly. "Sometimes I wish I had your metabolism for eating."
Clark leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Go ahead and indulge. I'll help you work it off later."
Lois grinned as Clark leered at her, his eyebrow rising, and his fake moustache twitching. As she reached for some chicken wings, a not-so-subtle voice reached her.
"Pigging out, Lois?"
"Speaking of pigs," she muttered. She straightened and turned. "Hi, Ralph."
Ralph was dressed in a long trench coat and had an old fashioned fedora mashed down on his head. His cheeks were stubbled and he almost pulled off the look of a tough detective, until Lois noticed the piece of toilet paper stuck to his shoe. She giggled helplessly, leaving Clark to carry on the conversation.
"Hi, Ralph. Who are you supposed to be? Inspector Clouseau in disguise?"
Ralph drew himself up to his full (but still meager) height. "Inspector Clouseau? No. I'm Mike Hammer."
Clark grinned. "Well, there's something … " He was interrupted by a shriek coming from the direction of the dark room.
The door crashed open and a woman rushed out. "There's a body in there," she screamed.
Clark used a little unobtrusive superspeed to get to the door before anyone else. When he looked in, he sighed with relief and began to laugh. Someone had rigged up a fake corpse and hung it from the ceiling.
"It's okay, folks. It's just a little Halloween joke. Let's get back to the party." Mr. Stern had materialized with the Mayor at his side. They were dressed as Batman and Robin respectively.
Stern wasn't exactly physically right for the Caped Crusader, but his voice certainly was commanding, Lois thought.
He cleared his voice again and the room grew silent. "First of all, I want to thank all of you for coming here tonight"
"What choice did we have?" Ralph mumbled.
"Care to share that sentiment with Mr. Stern, Ralph?" Lois asked pointedly.
Ralph blanched a little. "Nah, that's okay … "
Stern glared in the direction of Ralph, and continued. "Your generosity has made the Planet's fundraisers for the Coates Orphanage big successes in the past, and I know that this year will be no exception. But that's enough business for now, let's get on with having *fun*. Right, Mayor Greenburg?" he asked the petite woman dressed as Robin standing by his side.
"Right, Franklin," she agreed, and nodded. "So why don't we—"
"Well, I can think of plenty of ways to have *fun*," purred a tall raven-haired woman dressed as Catwoman. "But you're all wearing too many clothes for what I have in mind."
"What the devil are you doing here?!"
"Why, Mayor Greenburg, I'm just here to have a good time," Catwoman said, and shimmied her black vinyl-clad hips. "Aren't we all?"
"I'll say," muttered Ralph, who had stopped his grazing among the dips and the chips to ogle the babe in black.
Lois rolled her eyes in his direction, but something about the woman's shimmy bothered her. "Clark!" She pulled at the sleeve of his tux jacket. "Does she remind you of someone?"
"Who, besides Cat Grant?" Clark shrugged. "Not that I can think of." He dropped his lips to Lois' ear. "Besides, I think you'd look a lot better in that cat suit."
Lois shivered as Clark's breath tickled her ear. She draped her arm around Clark's neck and looked up at him, a slow grin spreading across her face. "How about out of it?"
Clark growled in her ear as that mental picture hit his imagination with a whipcrack of desire. "Lois … "
"Is the copy room busy?" The whisper of Lois' breath edged closer to his earlobe.
Clark looked up briefly and nearly hit the roof with his eyebrows. "Dr. Klein?"
Lois gave Clark a quizzical look. "Who's he with?"
Clark blushed a little.
"Never mind," Lois added abruptly as she insinuated her other hand beneath Clark's jacket. "I'm not all that concerned about him right now. I'm more interested in *us*. It seems like ages since we've had any time alone. How about the supply room?"
The guests in the room barely noticed the swift breeze that snicked the door to the supply room shut. No one noticed at all that the same breeze managed to lock the door as well.
Catwoman was swallowed into a crowd of … admirers.
"Jimmy, I tell you, those rotting shrimp are just oozing bad karma!" Nancy Drew whispered fiercely to her date. Jimmy winced as her 'whisper' reached everyone within a ten-foot radius. "It just goes to show you what happens when the teeming unwashed masses rape Mother Earth's seas and slaughter her children." She sniffed. "Besides, they didn't use enough horseradish in the cocktail sauce."
"Look, Clar … " Jimmy's attempt at placation was cut off by another scream. The haunted house on the floor below was getting really popular, it seemed.
At least, that's what he thought until Inspector Clouseau stumbled out of the broom closet and was messily sick in a wastebasket. The screams started again when the room saw behind him the body of Catwoman hanging from a noose, blood dripping like cocktail sauce from her head.
Lois pulled her right strap back up. "It's always something," she said, hopping on one foot trying to put her shoe back on. "Clark, you haven't changed into Superman. You said somebody is dead."
"She is," he moaned. "But Inspector Henderson is there, and Maggie just showed up."
"But shouldn't Superman—"
"Honey, you and I just got … we just … *started*. If I spun into the suit right now—"
Lois patted his shoulder and blushed. "Um … right. I'll go out there, find out what's going on, you stay here and … relax."
"Good plan," Clark sighed.
Lois hurried out of the supply closet, back into the newsroom. She bounced up and down trying to see over the crowd near the broom closet. "Come on, Clark," she whispered. "I could really use x-ray vision right now.
The crowd began to recede as Captain Maggie Sawyer pushed them back. "Back it up. Back it up," she chanted as Henderson examined the body.
"Maggie," Lois said, still trying to see the body. "What happened?"
"Nice dress, Lois — silk?"
Lois sighed loudly. "Maggie, please."
"Okay. Someone moved Catwoman to the expired produce aisle."
"Catwoman? Who is she?"
"Darla Vesper Wood," Henderson observed dryly. "Hot dress, Lane." He rose from his kneeling position beside the body lying sprawled in front of the closet door.
Lois folded her arms. "And *she* would be?"
"A madam for all seasons, Lane. She's been to the precinct so often she has her own personalized coffee mug."
"A madam came to a charity event?" Lois asked, her eyes wide now that she realized big news had literally dropped in her lap.
"Who knows?" Henderson shrugged. "Maybe she was feeling charitable and can write broom closet romance off on her taxes."
"How about a little respect for the dead, Henderson," Perry admonished.
"Okay, Perry," Henderson nodded. "I'm going to have to call in a dead Catwoman to the station. I'll muster all the dignity I can out of that one."
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Superman asked, finally putting in an appearance.
"Boy scout," Maggie smiled and shook Superman's hand. "We don't have a print man here. Can your big brown eyes handle that?"
Clark smiled. "Sure," he said, finally noticing that Maggie was dressed like the pregnant police officer from the movie 'Fargo.' "Expecting a baby, or is that just part of the costume?"
Maggie shook her head. "Unless there's a star with a tail as big as kite in the sky, it's a costume."
Clark grinned and then knelt to scan the corpse. "I don't see any readable prints on her neck, if that's what you're looking for, Maggie. Maybe if I examined the rope she was hanging from … "
"Sure, Superman, right this way," Maggie said, as she turned and led Clark into the broom closet. "Wait. How did you know she was strung up? You just got here."
Superman hesitated for a second.
"Clark told him," Lois interjected.
"And just where is your better half, Lane?" Henderson asked.
"That's right, darlin', where the heck is Clark?" Perry said."I've been looking all over for him."
Now it was Lois' turn to hesitate. "Why he's … he's … "
Lois was shoved into the doorframe by a rather burly and decidedly pale Jessica Fletcher. The lady in question stumbled in her mad dash for the restrooms, and lurched into the men's room.
"He was having a little trouble with his stomach," she finished smoothly. She saw Clark's shoulders relax minutely.
Henderson again knelt by the body, dabbed at the blood at the victim's temple, and brought it up to his nose. He sniffed briefly, then tentatively tasted it. "Interesting."
Lois' gorge rose, but she ignored the sensation. "What?"
"Needs more horseradish."
"It's cocktail sauce."
"She's bleeding cocktail sauce?" Jimmy asked as he started snapping pictures.
Henderson shielded his eyes from the flash. "No. She's not bleeding at all. As far as I can tell, she has no external injuries."
"Nothing internal either, Inspector," Clark said from over his shoulder.
Henderson's brow furrowed as he glanced up at Maggie and Superman. "What about the rope?"
Clark shook his head. "Half a dozen sets of prints on the rope itself, but none on the beam it's tied to. I'd say it's the same as the rest of the props in the haunted house downstairs."
Henderson sighed. "Well, she's got no marks on her neck, so she wasn't hung, and she wasn't hit on the head by anything more deadly than a half-dozen shrimp … "
Another party-goer stumbled past them towards the restrooms.
"You might want to reconsider that, Henderson," Maggie muttered. "Those shrimp are looking worse every minute."
Jimmy's date peered over his shoulder, jostling the camera. "I told you. They were just leaking bad karma all over the place."
Maggie's eyebrows went up. "Who's your friend, Olsen?" she said, but didn't wait for an answer.
"Then I guess it's up to the Medical Examiner, Bill," Maggie sighed.
Lois glanced at Clark longingly. He had been returning the compliment. Her silk dress 'whispered' when she walked, and what it whispered made his ears burn.
"So," he said, putting on his Superman voice — what was left of it. "Anything else I can do, Inspector?"
Henderson shrugged. "Make sure the exits are secure. Nobody leaves."
Clark nodded and began to leave, but Lois grabbed his arm. "Before you go, Superman. My husband disappeared to worship the porcelain facility. Could you see if he's still alive?"
Clark half-smiled. "I'm sure he's fine, but I'll check."
Klein looked up as Superman departed, the speed of his passing raising a breeze in the newsroom. "It's probably a beautiful night … somewhere," he said wistfully. "Maybe Superman has a date."
Friskin walked up behind him, her deerstalker cap perilously askew. "Yes," she sighed. "Superman was in love once, and I'm surprised he never —" Friskin blushed fiercely. "I don't know what's wrong with me - that's privileged doctor-client information."
Klein smiled and straightened her cap. "That's okay, he's my patient too. Maybe it's the same girlfriend he told me about."
Friskin's eyes grew large behind her glasses as she glanced at Lois Lane. "I hope we're talking two different love interests, Bernard."
Klein noted where Friskin was staring. "Maybe, Ruth," he smiled. "Maybe not."
At that moment, Clark, sans tuxedo jacket, exited the men's room.
Lois smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck. "You look so sexy in suspenders."
"Well, that's good," he said, but frowned. "Because I can't find the jacket anywhere."
Lois patted his cheek. "It'll turn up." She retrieved a plate and handed it to him. "I put a little of everything on there … well, besides the shrimp."
"Thanks," he smiled. "Do you realize every time you bend over in that dress, the heart rate of every man in this room accelerates?"
Lois smiled. "Including yours?"
"*Especially* mine, though I think Maggie is running me a close second."
Lois laughed and picked up her plate. "By the way, you just ate your mustache."
Clark grinned and took Lois' hand to lead her over to his desk. After setting their plates on it, he sat down in his chair and pulled her into his lap.
"I guess we're stuck here for a while. Wanna neck?"
Lois giggled and glanced around. Thankfully the lights had been turned low for the party. "Sure. Why not?"
She started to nibble on his ear, but Clark looked startled and raised his head.
"I can't believe this. Dr. Klein and Dr. Friskin are talking about us … I mean about you and Superman."
"Just what did you tell Dr. Friskin about Superman?"
Lois blushed. "Well … I did tell her I was attracted to him, I mean you..and I loved you, I mean Clark … and then there was Dan … and … "
Clark kissed her before she could launch into full babble mode. "Honey," he murmured against her lips, caressing her curves through the silk of her dress. "Did I tell you how much I like this dress? It's definitely a keeper."
Lois smacked his chest. "Stop trying to distract me, Kent. What if they put two and two together and get the three of us? You, me, and Superman."
Clark moved his lips from hers to the sensitive spot just below her ear. "Relax, honey," he murmured against her lips. "I trust Dr. Klein, and I think I trust Dr. Friskin, too." He raised his head again. "Hmmm. I wonder what they were doing in the copy room. You distracted me after I saw them going in there, remember?"
Lois' eyes lit up. "You don't think … nah. Dr Klein and Dr. Friskin? Oooh … I want to know more. You tackle Klein. I'll take Friskin."
Before Clark could react, Lois was out of his arms and making a beeline for Dr. Friskin.
Perry intercepted Lois before she could make her way across the room. "Just a second, darlin'. I need to talk to you and Clark," he whispered as he deftly spun her around and headed her back to Clark's desk.
"Perry, what the —!?"
"What's up, Chief?" Clark asked with concern as the two approached.
"Look, you two, we have had a *major* story drop into our laps and I don't want to miss the chance for an exclusive. Darla Vesper Wood knew the intimate secrets of most of the rich and famous from here to Gotham City."
"Perry, that's not our kind of a story," Lois protested.
"Now, while I generally leave that kind of stuff to the National Whisper, the fact that she happens to be murdered at the same time most of those people are here at the Planet is just too much to pass on. I want you and Clark to work a little of your special magic and find me a killer."
Clark looked at Lois and shrugged.
"Okay," she sighed and gave Perry a wry smile. "I guess we can solve the mystery and stop the bad guy one more time."
Perry grinned. "That's my girl."
Lois turned back to Clark as Perry moved off to join the crowd at the buffet.
"Well," he said, "I guess the first thing we should do is run a computer check on Darla and see what turns up."
Lois nodded in agreement. Sitting down at Clark's desk, she turned on the computer. The monitor flickered to life, then suddenly it and every other light in the room went dark.
"So much for that idea," Lois said.
Clark murmured his agreement as he used his supersenses to check on the crowd. Satisfied that everyone was present and accounted for, he focused on Lois. Leaning toward her, he whispered, "Everyone's all right."
Perry's booming voice interrupted Clark. "Now, stay calm, folks! We'll have the power restored in just a few minutes. In the meantime, make sure you don't accidentally eat the shrimp." Nervous laughter filtered through the crowd.
Lois smiled up at Clark, her hand reaching for his suspender. "What say we make the most of the dark?" Tugging, she pulled Clark toward her, their lips finding each other unerringly in the dark.
"Mmm, good idea," Clark murmured. The kiss deepened, but just as Lois was undoing the top button of Clark's shirt, the lights flickered on. She sighed against Clark's lips, her hand sneaking between the edges of his shirt to lightly brush against his skin.
"Curses. Foiled again," she moaned, wishing that they could have had this one evening without having to be interrupted by a cry for help or a murder.
Clark sighed as well, his forehead touching hers. "Yeah. Let's say we bag the killer and have a private trick or treat of our own."
"I couldn't have said it any better."
The beeping of the computer alerted them and they turned their attention to the monitor, Clark leaning close to Lois, his breath warm and ticklish at her ear and neck.
Lois quickly typed Darla's name into the search file connected to Metropolis Police HQ and sat back as the screen began to scroll. Her hand reached toward Clark and came in contact with his chest. Without thinking, she began to stroke him, feeling the play of his muscles against her hand. All the while, she kept her eyes focused on the monitor and the information that was being displayed.
"Clark, look at this! Inspector Henderson wasn't kidding when he said Darla had a coffee mug with her name on it down at the police department."
"Uh huh," Clark bit his lower lip in an effort to concentrate on the information on the monitor. Lois' touch had always undone him, driving him to distraction, just as she was doing right now, but they needed to solve this murder mystery. The pleasurable distraction of Lois would have to wait, though hopefully, not for very long.
He placed his hand over hers, stilling its movements. "She was a … "
" … an informant, a spy, a snitch." Lois and Clark lifted their heads at Maggie Sawyer's voice. Maggie nodded. "Yeah. Darla was feeding us information on certain … clients."
"Only the dirty ones. No, Darla had connections to some of the more, shall we say, unsavory members of society."
Clark looked hard at Maggie. "And in return?"
Maggie shrugged her shoulders. "We let her operate. Within reason." She turned her eyes to Clark and matched his hard gaze with a cold stare of her own. "There's a greater justice at work here, Clark. Yes, what Darla and her ladies did was against the law. But, when weighed against the information we were able to obtain and the criminals we were able to put behind bars … " Maggie's words trailed off.
Lois looked from Clark to Maggie, placing her hand once more against Clark's chest. He broke his gaze away from Maggie and looked down at Lois. "A greater truth," she whispered, her eyes sending him a silent message.
Clark sighed, not completely comfortable with everything he had just heard. For the most part, the informants that he and Lois had used were "shady," but still on the right side of the law. But the police *knowingly* using a criminal as an informant? True, according to the police file, Darla had never been convicted, but that didn't make what she did any less illegal. Still, he had to agree with Lois, there was a greater truth, a greater good. He nodded once, letting Lois know he understood what she and Maggie were saying.
Looking once more at Maggie, he asked, "So, any ideas who might have wanted Darla dead?"
Maggie shrugged again. "Any of her clients who figured she showed up here for blackmail purposes, or who had realized she was feeding us information." She sighed. "It might be easier once we get the cause of death established."
Clark nodded. "Have you gotten hold of the M.E.?"
Maggie shook her head. "Not yet. The storm managed to hit the cell site for downtown, and the electricity in the air is interfering with our radios. Dr. Klein volunteered to do a preliminary examination."
Lois glanced back at the list scrolling on her screen. It was getting longer, and showed little sign of stopping anytime soon.
A half-hour later, Dr. Klein approached, stripping the latex gloves from his hands. Clark wrinkled his nose as he got closer.
"Do you have any answers for me, Doctor?"
"Not one you'll like. She wasn't killed here. She's been dead for at least twelve hours, possibly as long as a week."
"A week?" Lois was incredulous. "She was just prancing around here an hour ago!"
Doctor Klein shook his head. "That must have been someone else, possibly attempting to throw off pursuit."
"She … whoever that was … the costume did have gloves, honey."
Maggie nodded. "That would explain the lack of fingerprints."
"There's a faint smell of formaldehyde, too. I don't think the body was preserved in it, but it's there. I'd like to say she was poisoned, but I'm unfamiliar with that area of chemistry. Now, if she'd had contact with some interesting isotopes, I could help you, but … " Dr. Klein shrugged and let his sentence trail off.
"Poison. Great." Maggie Sawyer was less than pleased. "We've already got half the party laid up with food-poisoning … " She glanced at Clark. "Say, Kent, you seem pretty chipper for someone who was doing the technicolor yawn not too long ago."
Clark blinked at her for a moment. "Yeah, well, I guess I didn't eat that much of the shrimp after all."
Dr.Friskin, who had hovered while Klein was performing his examination, tapped the magnifying glass against her chin. "Formaldehyde, Bernie?"
"Yes, cupcake," he said, and smiled like an idiot.
"Well, it's been many years since medical school, but if someone ingests methyl alcohol, as opposed to ethyl alcohol, which is the usual potable alcohol—"
"Booze?" Ralph asked, and then threw up again in the wastebasket.
"Yes, 'booze'," Friskin repeated. "Methyl alcohol turns to formaldehyde in the system. Literally pickling the person from the inside out."
"You're wonderful!" Klein beamed.
Henderson nodded appreciatively. "Thanks, Doc. So now we may have a possible agent causing her death, the other lab coat here gave us an estimated time of death, and that means—"
"We need women who could fit into that Catwoman costume who weren't in the room when she put in an appearance," Maggie said, completing his thought.
"I was taking photos when Catwoman showed up," Jimmy said, and then swallowed as Clarissa glared. "Um, just to have pictures of the party, you understand."
"Uh huh," Henderson nodded. "Run those off in the darkroom, and in the meantime, I know that these three women," Henderson said flatly as he pointed to a waitress and two of the guests, "and Lane came running into the room *after* the body was discovered."
"Now wait a minute!" Lois said, her voice strained. "You can't *possibly* suspect me?"
"All's fair, Lane. I can't make exceptions."
"Hold on a minute, Inspector," Clark interceded. "Lois was with me."
Clark blushed. "The … supply closet."
After the roar of hoots, whistles and laughter died down, the rather rotund Sergeant Zymak cleared his throat. "I've heard that before."
"It's true, Henderson," Clark insisted.
"I believe you," Ralph belched. "Who *wouldn't* want to be in a supply closet with her?"
Maggie nodded. "He's got a point."
"Look, Lane, you weren't in here, we don't have a polygraph, it's all preliminary, so into White's office with the other women, and spare me any Constitutional speeches. I'll read you the Miranda if you want."
"Don't *bother*," she huffed, and stormed towards Perry's office.
"Ouch," Clark whispered.
Henderson shook his head. "Sorry, Kent. You'll probably wish you were Superman later when you get her home."
Lois glared out of Perry's office as Henderson questioned the other women.. She pointedly ignored both Henderson and her fellow inmates as he patiently asked a waitress where she had been when the body had been found.
Lois' gaze swept across the newsroom, touching briefly on the concerned slouch of her husband before moving on. She was mad, darnit, and he had no right to go directing those gorgeous chocolate eyes at her. She wanted to stay mad, so shifted her gaze to the man behind Clark.
She recognized one of the candidates for local state representative, a slim man in Robin Hood tights who'd always come across in interviews as slightly slimy. She met his gaze, and he smirked and turned to leave.
Lois' eyes narrowed as he sauntered off. That walk … Lois scrambled for the door.
"Clark! Get him!" she shouted, as Zymak grabbed her arm. "He's the Catwoman!"
Robin Hood jumped at her shout and ran for the elevators. Clark was right behind him, and felled him with a flying tackle before he even reached the ramp.
Clark picked him up by the scruff of the neck, tearing the brown tunic. Zymak let go of Lois' arm as the costume shredded to reveal the gleam of black vinyl beneath.
"Ha!" Lois ran up to Clark and excitedly drummed her hands in a victorious tattoo against his chest. The surrounding officers converged on the hapless Cat-'woman'.
"Lois, how did you recognize him?" Clark asked her, as half of the Metropolis Police Department chimed in on reading the suspect his Miranda rights.
Lois beamed up at him and blushed slightly. "He shimmied."
"Well … it was those belly-dancing lessons." Her color rose. "Men's hips work differently than women's, and when he was pretending to be a woman, he shimmied funny. And then … well, I guess he forgot to stop."
"You are amazing." Clark rested his forehead against hers.
"You think so?" Lois smiled up at him, finally willing to drown in his eyes.
"I know so." They turned to look at Maggie Sawyer, smirking in triumph. "He's on our list of Intergang-funded politicians. He was one of Darla's special 'clients', and I guess he thought he could throw off suspicion by dumping her here. That was smart thinking there, Lane."
Lois tossed a quick 'thanks' over her shoulder as Clark drew them away from the crowd of detectives, both literary and Metropolis PD.
"So, tell me more about this 'shimmy' thing."
"Well … I can't really describe it." Lois grinned up at him.
"Would asking for a demonstration be out of the question?" Clark placed his hands on her sides and ran them down to rest on her hips.
"I think … " Lois' voice grew husky and she rose up on her tiptoes. "I could be … " She inched closer to his lips. " … persuaded."