By Betsy R.
Original Air Date: November 2, 1997
Summary: Lois and Clark go undercover in an infertility clinic. But will they find out more about their story or themselves? Episode 5 of S5.
By Betsy <firstname.lastname@example.org> (with contributions by Kathy Brown and Pam Jernigan)
Story by Stacey
Clark Kent walked quietly into the bedroom to find his wife laying on her stomach in the middle of their bed. She had their family photo album in front of her and was quietly studying the pictures. He sat gently down beside her and began to rub her shoulders through her satin pajama jacket.
"Whatcha' doin', honey?"
"Oh, just thinking, really." Lois turned a dreamy smile to Clark, and he smiled back. He looked over her to the page she was studying. The baby picture page.
Their mothers had gotten together before last Christmas and compiled this album, taking snapshots of both families and compiling them into the Lane-Kent memorabilia collection. On any given page, you might find a picture of Lois sticking her tongue out at the smiling, chocolate-icing covered face of her sister, Lucy. Or a picture of a toothless, 7 year old Clark, in full cowboy regalia, "robbing" his Uncle Ned. But on this particular page was each mothers' favorite baby picture of their child: a grinning baby Clark and an angelic, sleeping baby Lois.
"I wonder where your mom got that shot of you, Lois. I'd have thought you'd find that image-ruining even at that age. Lois Lane, *sleeping*?"
Lois turned to rest on her elbow to look up at him. "Ha ha. very funny. Of course, that sly — 'I've got something up my sleeve' grin has been with you since birth, Mr. Kent."
"Moi? Sly? Surely you're mistaken." He grinned an identical grin to the one in the picture, and Lois thought to herself how wonderful life could be. Then she noticed the direction his eyes had wandered and the fact that when she changed positions, her top hadn't quite turned with her. She raised one eyebrow at her leering husband, shook her head, and smiled.
Clark laughed and leaned down to lightly kiss her on the lips. He picked up the album with one last look at the baby pictures, then put it on the shelf. He turned back to the bed to find Lois turning down the sheets. As they snuggled into a sleeping position, she lifted her head from his chest and asked, "Seriously, though, what do you think our children will be like?"
"Seriously? Well, I think they'll have dark hair, beautiful brown eyes, creamy, delicate skin, and elfin noses. They'll be feisty in a fight, but they'll be fiercely loyal. And of course, they'll be smart. In other words, perfect. Just like you." He pulled her a bit more closely to him and kissed her nose.
"Perfect?" She raised smiling eyes to him, "Ya really think so?"
Suddenly, his eyes turned soft and serious. "Yeah. They'll have to be. They'll be a product of our love, and that's the most perfect thing I've ever known." He proceeded to demonstrate that perfection to her.
Dr. Daniels leaned away from his microscope and stretched his back. The work was slow and tedious, but the results could be phenomenal. Perfect children. He would bring to the world the ability to create perfect children.
His technique was almost complete. It would take only a few more months of documented research before he would start full-scale testing. He was a man of patience and intelligence, and he knew that he would have to release his work in small stages to the public. He was willing to do this for the important advances he would bring humanity.
He looked down at the sample he had just altered. It would be sold to a couple and would produce a genetically perfect baby. The price it would bring would fund two more months of research. He carefully recorded the results before storing the plate in a temporary storing facility. He shut the door of his private laboratory before going back to the main part of the clinic to retrieve another sample. It was late in the evening; he didn't feel the need to be extra cautious of his comings and goings.
As he stepped into the storage facility, Dr. Daniels didn't bother to turn on the overhead lights. He knew just where he had an extra embryo frozen. He avoided the areas of the room the security camera was programmed to watch, knowing his path by memory.
Often, when couples came in for his services, he performed the fertilization on several eggs, recording the number as a few less than he actually took. This way he had a guaranteed source for his research. He stored all these samples, carefully marked, in a corner cupboard. He was one of only two people with access to this area, so he was sure that his activities would remain undetected.
Tracey Jenkins was working late at the clinic on a Friday night. She was a fourth year med student, doing a research round at the clinic; fertility was an area that interested her. This was one of the few quiet times at the clinic, and she was trying to recount some samples she had worked on earlier in the day.
She wasn't sure she liked working at the facility by herself, but she didn't know when else she could get the work done. All of the other workers had gone home hours ago, and the place was downright spooky when it was dark and deserted. The only other sound was that of the cooling unit for the storage facility two doors down. Even that sound was eerie.
The clinic itself wasn't in the best section of town; frankly, since she had been held up at gunpoint the year before, Tracey had been quite skittish of being anywhere in the city alone this late at night. But she was an adult, and she knew she had to get over her fears.
'My own stupid fault. If I hadn't stayed at that party so late last night, I would have been able to count these samples right in the first place. Now I have to do it all again.' She carefully put the slide back in place.
She was about to bend back over the microscope when she heard someone walking through the halls. She froze.
'No one else should be here. It's a Friday night, for goodness' sakes. And I saw everybody leave, and nobody has rung the security bell to get in!'
The footsteps seemed to be heading toward her. She had no idea who it could be, but she wasn't sure she wanted to find out. She could feel fear creeping up from her stomach and constricting her throat, and she tried to force herself to think rationally.
'Whoever it is won't even know I'm here, if I'm quiet. Wait. The light. It'll be visible under the door!'
She streaked to the other side of the lab as quickly and quietly as she could, turning out the lights just as she heard the steps coming around the corner. She forced herself to breathe as quietly as she could. Her heart was pounding so loud in her ears that she was sure whoever was walking outside the door could hear it. But the footsteps receded to the end of the hall.
'Get a grip on yourself, girl. You're perfectly safe. That security guard — is Jeb his name? — is just at the front desk, if you really need anything. Just calm down.'
Tracey took several deep breaths and closed her eyes. Once she got control of her fear, her natural curiosity took over.
She strained her ears for more indication of where the stranger had gone. She heard the beeps and realized that he was accessing the storage facility. 'The storage facility? But only two people have the code for that room. I know Dr. Crick isn't here. Could it be Dr. Daniels?'
She struggled briefly with her conscience. Should she be brave and try to figure out who was going into the facility, or should she safely mind her own business?
'If it were my embryos, I'd want somebody to protect them. I'll just watch, to see if I can identify the person when they come out.'
Tracey made up her mind. She cracked open the door of her lab slightly, and allowed her eyes to adjust to the dark before intently studying the door of the storage room for any possible movement. Some moments later, she noticed someone who looked like Dr. Daniels walking quickly from the room with a sample in his hands.
'What on earth?'
She quietly shut her door and waited until the footsteps faded into the distance and the hall grew silent.
Quickly, Tracey made her way over to the computer and checked the on-line sample inventory list. If Dr. Daniels had just made an entry, she would know it was him and not an intruder.
'It says here that the last entry for sample checkout is mine. Why would Dr. Daniels take a sample without recording it? Unless it wasn't Dr. Daniels … Oh, geez. What should I do?'
She chewed on her bottom lip in indecision before turning back to her computer. She quickly did a search to see who was on the system, confirming that Dr. Daniels was logged on. She then hacked on to the main system as an administrator, which would allow her to move around undetected.
'Nice to know that John hasn't changed his passwords in the weeks since we stopped dating!' she thought, grateful that her brief fling with the system administrator earned her the knowledge that his passwords were usually just a variation on a theme.
Tracey noticed that Dr. Daniels was working on the Fantoni file. She opened a read only copy of the file.
The first thing that sprang to her attention was that the file was officially closed. IVF had worked for the Fantonis. They'd just had their second child through the clinic and were listed as having no more embryos in storage.
She closed the file and logged out of the administrator session. There was no way she could prove anything she had witnessed. Heck, she wasn't even sure what she had witnessed! She had no right to be logged in as the administrator, and Dr. Daniels could have something private stored in the storage facility.
But she smelled a rat.
'I'm just tired. I should probably just get out of here and come in tomorrow morning.'
Resigned to giving up her scheduled Saturday morning sleep-in and rollerblading session, she put her sample back into the temporary storage container and turned off her equipment. As she walked to her car, she couldn't have known that someone was monitoring her progress on a security camera.
The writers for the Daily Planet found themselves in the weekly staff meeting. As the social columnist raved about a soiree he would attend Friday night, Lois inwardly heaved a heavy sigh. 'I know why they call this a Bull session,' she thought.
Clark looked at her and smiled a knowing smile.
"… and once again, the Star got good box seats for the surprise hit musical Rent, while I was merely on orchestra level. How you expect me to follow all the goings on from that vantage, I'll never know."
"Too bad the Star doesn't have a staff opening," Lois muttered under her breath. Perry gave her a sharp look that she returned with an innocent smile before looking down to her notepad and the mindless doodles it contained.
At this point, Perry took over the course of the meeting. "That's great. On to the metro section."
Miller, the society section manager, gave his editor a brief strangled look before pouting down at his own notes.
"Williams, make sure your staff gives adequate coverage to the Mayor's press conference on the new education standards she's putting through.
"Kent, why don't you get a background story on how different areas of the country are approaching the President's call for better education? Do a story on Daley in Chicago, the charter schools in Michigan, the Oakland district's recent trials … you get the gist.
"Lois, I think we should develop the stories you and Clark have done recently into a series. The managed health care story and the expose on corruption in the insurance industry that came out yesterday could fit well into a series on health care. Didn't you say something about having notes on a story about Medicare and uninsured homeless?"
"That's been more of Clark's pet project, but I could do some more work on it."
"Do it. Any other ideas for the series I want to hear about, pronto. Kent, your story shouldn't take more than a few days, then I want you guys chasing down some more leads for this health care series. In the absence of hardened criminals and insane scientists trying to rule the world, we're going to have to make our own news.
"That's it, people. Get cracking. If we don't get a scoop soon, we're gonna have to start printing Elvis sightings, and I'm sure we don't want to get into competition with the Whisper. So get on it!"
The reporters moved to their respective areas; Lois and Clark were no exception. It had been a slow few weeks, with the exception of the murderer Lane and Kent had helped catch, and most of the reporting veterans were just biding time until the storm they knew to expect finally landed.
Of the team of Lane and Kent, Clark had always been better at the "human interest" stories. Since working with Clark, Lois had developed more patience for stories like the recent health-care series they were working on. Lois hadn't become softer in any way as a reporter, but her field of interest had broadened with the perspective she gained from her relationship with Clark. She had a much broader life outside reporting, and it was affecting her scope, if not her style.
She sat down at her desk and grimaced at the cold decaf in her mug. Ever since she had held the baby from the future, she had begun making decisions, conscious and not, to accommodate her life for a child. Drinking decaf was a precaution, a "just-in-case" they did happen to succeed in getting pregnant.
'When we get pregnant. Think positive.'
She got up and walked to the break area to get more coffee.
Ralph walked up as Lois was pouring more of the steaming liquid into her freshly cleaned mug.
"Hey, hey, hey, what's this I see? Mad-Dog Lane drinking decaf?? What — you knocked up or something? Heh heh, that Kent doesn't waste any time, does he? You two have only been married a year, right?"
He winked at her and laughed hard at his own humor.
Lois was speechless at this inappropriate and offensive one-sided conversation. She simply laughed a humorless laugh, shook her head and started to walk away.
But Ralph persisted and followed her.
"Say, seriously, Lois. Since Clark's working on this other story for a few days, do you think I could work with you a bit on the health care stories? I have some contacts down at Mercy who could get some good information." Ralph considered his great-aunt, who volunteered in the lobby of the hospital one afternoon, a good source.
"Ralph, the only health care you need to worry about is your own. Don't you have somebody else to harass? It's too early in the week for me."
Lois had never worked with a partner she could stand, except Clark. She was sure that Ralph would not be an exception. She turned her back on him and walked away. This time, he didn't dare follow.
Lois walked back to her desk, looking at Clark's vacant desk. He probably had to go off and stop a bank robber or something. His absence removed her only excuse for procrastination, so she sat down at her desk to organize all the material she had for the Medicare and the uninsured homeless.
It was a human interest story, pure and simple. There were no real fingers to point or criminals to uncover. So, it was, for Lois, a harder story to write. The insurance story had been much more her speed. But, it was a story she had to do, so she set her mind to it.
Lois made notes on some NIH reports she needed to order. 'I hate reading those government reports. Nothing's worse!' The shrill ring of her phone startled her, interrupting her bout of self-pity.
"Lois Lane," she answered in a professional voice.
"Ms. Lane? Hi. I'm, uh … a friend of your sister's. Lucy. I was wondering … uh …"
Lois rolled her eyes and waved her hand in the air, silently encouraging the caller to spit it out already.
"Yes, Lucy's my sister. Did you want to know how to get in touch with her?"
"No, umm … I can't really talk right now. But I need to speak to you. It may be important."
Lois felt a familiar twinge of excitement in her stomach. There was something in the way the caller was speaking: hesitance and nervousness and excitement all rolled into one. A story. She could feel it.
Lois enabled the trace ability on her phone, hoping the stranger would stay on long enough to get a good trace, and turned to a fresh page on her note pad.
"What would you like to talk about? Ms… ?"
"Tracey. And I don't want to give you details over the phone. But there's something I may be able to toss your way. Lucy always said you were more of a detective than a reporter. Anyway, uh, I was wondering if we could meet somewhere?"
"How about if I buy you lunch?" 'If you're Lucy's friend, you're probably unemployed and you'll take a free meal.'
"Sure. That sounds great. But I can't get lunch until 1:30 today. And I only have half an hour. Do you know where Athenian's Pizza is?"
"Down near James Madison Hospital? Sure. Athenian's at 1:30?"
"Great. I know what you look like, kinda, so I'll find you. Get a booth near the back, okay?"
"Sure. See you then." As Lois hung up the phone, she smiled to herself. Meeting next to the hospital … maybe this could be the next installment in the health care series … She checked her phone and found that the conversation had run just long enough for a trace.
Lois decided to check in with Lucy to see if she had a friend named Tracey still living in Metropolis. Her instincts told her this could be a good lead, but she didn't want to waste time. She hadn't talked to Lucy in a while, anyway, and if this "Tracey" was legitimate, Lucy could give Lois some insights and background on this unexpected source.
She chatted with Lucy for a while before putting the question of the source's identity to her.
"Tracey? Sure. Tracey Jenkins is in med school at Madison. Actually, she should be almost done by now. She's really smart — reminded me a lot of you. Why?"
"Oh, I'm doing this series on health care, and I ran into her, and she recognized me and said hi." Not the truth, but close enough.
The conversation continued for a while before Lois begged off, saying she had some other work to do. She hung up and began cross-referencing the number the trace on the source's call gave. It was a pay phone, in the same area as James Madison. 'So I have a legitimate source. I wonder what she has for me?'
Clark had not returned to the newsroom by 12:45. Madison was on the other side of town, so Lois knew if she wanted to be there in plenty of time and get a good parking spot, she had better get moving. She put her hand recorder — stocked with fresh batteries and a blank tape — in her bag with her memo pad and several pens. Leaving a note on Clark's desk which told where she was, Lois strode to the elevator and was gone.
Lois got out of her Jeep and fed quarters into the parking meter. 'She said half an hour, but I better put in for 45 minutes. These city meter maids are always looking for an excuse …'
Lois looked around and located the pizza shop down the block. She walked quickly toward it, trying to keep warm; the early November wind was quite chilly. The shop smelled fantastic, with several pies on display at the counter. "Slice, miss?"
Her mouth watered at the sausage and onion pizza, and she had to tear her eyes away to answer the question. "Not yet. I'm waiting for a friend."
"Seat yourself. Catch the wife's eye when you wanna order." The burly man behind the counter nodded his head toward a stocky woman who was wiping off tables in the back.
Lois smiled, thanked him, and made her way to a booth in the back of the shop.
She didn't have to wait long. Lois had just begun to read the placemat (titled "a brief history of pizza") when she heard someone approach her booth.
Lois smiled up at the young woman whose face betrayed that she was under a large amount of stress.
"Lois. You're Tracey?"
"Yeah, Tracey Jenkins." She shook Lois's hand and sat down opposite her. They placed their order with the waitress and looked at each other. "I guess it would be best if I started at the beginning."
"Do you mind if I record this conversation as well as take notes?"
"No, no. But I don't have a lot of time before I have to get back. So let me tell you everything I know. I'm a med student, doing my fourth year rotations. I'm working at an IVF clinic. Do you know what that is?"
"Yes — in vitro fertilization. It's a method of conception for people having trouble, right?"
"Right. Well, I've been working there for about 3 months. Two weeks ago, I was working late at the facility, counting some samples. I heard somebody accessing the storage room — where all the embryos are kept. Only two people, the head doctors at the clinic, Dr. Daniels and Dr. Crick, have access to that room. It was very late, and they both had been gone for hours. So I looked to see who it was. It could have been Dr. Daniels, but I wasn't sure. The person hadn't turned on any lights, and they were walking in the shadows along the far side of the hall. The one thing I could see clearly was that he had a sample in this hands. I checked the inventory on my computer, and none of the samples had been checked out. This is where things start to get a little weird.
"I hacked on as the administrator of the computer system and checked to see if anybody else was logged on. Dr. Daniels was, in his private lab. We have automatic time-out on our accounts after 25 minutes. It's a security feature. So he must have been there.
"I noted the name of the file he was working on. The file was on a couple who had completed the IVF program and supposedly didn't have any embryos left in storage. They had conceived twice — both of the children were born healthy, even though the parents were at high risk for passing on Tay-Sachs, a genetically carried disease that is 100% fatal. The couple decided not to test fate any more and didn't have any more samples left in storage. So why was he studying their files? And what sample was he working on? What was he doing with it?
"I didn't think a lot about it until I heard some of the techies talking about Dr. Daniels later on the next week. They were hinting that he lives well beyond his means, and that he's never really carried his part of the practice. Dr. Crick has about 70% of the patients, yet Dr. Daniels brings in 50% of the financial assets and uses twice as much equipment.
"I got to thinking. When we fertilize embryos for implantation, we fertilize many at once, as many eggs as we can harvest from the woman that month. The most viable embryos are implanted, but if there are extras, we freeze them and store them for future use by the couple. You understand?"
Lois nodded her head in agreement. She could see where this story was going.
"So I figured, what if Dr. Daniels was skimming one or two healthy eggs off the top? They could be sold to other infertile couples — egg donation is not new technology. I got to thinking that he would have to store those eggs. Then I remembered."
She paused as the waitress brought their orders. They both thanked the waitress and waited for her to walk away before Tracey continued.
"I've only been allowed into the storage facility twice. The first time was during a tour that Dr. Crick gave me. He referred to one corner section as Dr. Daniels's section, partly for his private clients and partly for his 'private research'. I was never to get any samples from there. Dr. Crick said these samples were volunteered. But what if they aren't? And where is he getting all the extra funding?
"Maybe I'm blowing this all out of proportion. He may have a research grant, and it's completely legitimate. I really don't have the time to do any more digging, and if I'm wrong and I *did* do research like that, it could be bad for my career. But if something is wrong …" It was quite obvious that Tracey was worked up over this situation.
"I completely understand," Lois said. "And your name will never come into it whether or not I find anything, if that's the way you want it. But if I do run into you while I'm investigating this, just act natural. We have a reason to know each other, so it's okay to acknowledge we've met without feeling guilty, okay?"
"Great. I'll keep my eyes open, too. If I see anything else, or if you need me to look for anything else, here's my mom's phone number. I'm still living at home; it's cheaper."
They finished their lunches quickly, exchanging news about Lucy and getting to know each other a little. Lois decided that she liked Tracey, and Tracey decided in turn that she was glad she had trusted Lois. They exchanged a brief good-bye as Tracey ran back to work.
Lois checked that she had everything, paid the bill with a generous tip, and headed back to her car. She was so deep in thought about how she would investigate this story that she almost ran into the woman who parked her motor-scooter in front of Lois's Jeep.
Lois was about to start protesting quite madly when she noticed that the meter was just shy of running out of time. She unlocked her door and started the engine just as the "expired" sign popped up. Rolling down her window, she grinned at the ticket-dispenser. "Better luck next time!"
'This just may turn out to be a great day!' Lois thought to herself, and headed back to the Planet.
Bernard Klein looked up from his microscope as he felt a breeze across his head.
'I wish those cleaning people would learn to shut the windows. My samples could be ruined by this temperature differential!' He was about to shout for his assistant to close the window when he noticed someone standing next to him.
Not just anyone.
Dr. Klein straightened slowly and mentally prepared himself.
"Superman. So good to see you. I realize how busy your schedule has been lately, what with that conference and all, and it's just good of you to take time out to … uh …"
"Dr. Klein," Superman interrupted, "as you have stated, I am a fairly busy man. I know you're very busy, too. I want you to know that I understand and respect that, and I'm truly grateful for your help."
"You know I'm always willing to do what I can to help you, Superman." Dr. Klein paused as he tried to phrase the news he had to give to Superman. "That's why it's so much harder for me to give you bad news."
"Well, I assume it's bad news. The second sample you gave me: it was negative." He looked at the so-called "Man of Steel" and saw a look of pure human sorrow. "I'm so sorry. But the tests are quite clear." Dr. Klein walked to a safe and pulled out a small file.
"You see, here," indicating a small graph, "the enzyme assay indicates that you are missing the enzyme critical for the fertilization of a human egg. We probably would have seen that with the initial hamster ova fertilization test, but we decided to forgo that in the event that there could be an unforeseen side effect. Although, not so surprisingly, your sperm do seem incredibly human. You, after all, appear to be quite human …" Dr. Klein babbled his scientific thoughts aloud to cover his nervous tension.
Superman was still stuck a sentence or two back, though.
"My sperm act … human?"
"Well, of course, they have Kryptonian DNA. But to a great extent, your characteristics are quite close to human. Your genome can't differ from ours by more than .5%. Of course, on a genetic scale, that can be quite huge."
"But the problem you found …"
"Actually, Superman, this deficiency occurs even among humans. You see, the rule with human pathology is that if the body makes something, it can and will go wrong. The test we used is one used commonly in human fertility experiments."
"Could this test be wrong?"
"The chances of that are extremely small. Better odds in Vegas. I'd offer to test them again, but the sample is destroyed in the assay."
"I only ask because I have reason to believe they might be wrong."
Klein looked up, surprised at this. "Do you mean … umm … are you … uh … should I be congratulating you?"
Superman looked briefly confused, then shook his head slightly and smiled faintly. "No, no. I just have some alternative sources of information. They indicated that in the future … well, anyway, thank you for all your assistance."
"It was no bother, Superman. You know, if you ever need anything, I'm glad to help."
Superman took his leave, his shoulders hunched slightly as if under a great tension.
Dr. Klein watched him fly away, sighed slightly, then turned back to his work.
Lois had been working at her desk for about five hours, getting as much information as she could on Dr. Herman Daniels. He was an incredibly bright fellow, according to all she had found. The number of prizes and awards given to him during his tenure as a student and faculty member at Harvard Medical Research Center were amazing. And he had about one hundred papers to his name. Unfortunately, the reasons he had left academia were not all that clear.
Lois had already arranged a short phone interview with the head of the department at Harvard. Surprisingly, the man had made time for her that very afternoon. It was Dr. Hubert, the same one who had worked closely with Dr. Winninger on the male potency compounds that scientist had discovered in Brazil. After forgiving the initial "mistaken-identity" accusation Lois had made, he felt Lois had done a good job in exposing the truth about Dr. Winninger's death and work. "It's not often that people in the media actually show the scientific arena in a good light. But you and Mr. Kent seem to," he had said. For that reason, he had granted the interview.
Lois was typing up the last of the notes from the interview and cataloging the tapes of that and her lunch interview with Tracey, when Jimmy came up to her desk with a sheaf of papers.
"Here you go, Lois. All the papers you requested from Metropolis University's Medical Library as well as some basic journal stuff from our own library. Say, I was looking at the titles to some of these: 'Transplanting the human embryo, the basics of In Vitro fertilization', 'Assisted Reproductive Technology: A comparison of ZIFT, GIFT, IVF-ET and TET' — geez, that one's a mouthful, 'Successful Embryo Implantation: a Study of Incubation Criteria'. I was wondering. This isn't, uh … for personal reasons, is it?" Jimmy smiled, clearly embarrassed, yet curious.
Lois looked up from her computer screen. She had just caught the end of what Jimmy had said. "No, no. Of course not! A story, that's all. I got a lead this afternoon …"
Jimmy's smile began to falter. He coughed slightly and fidgeted. "A story. Of course … of course it's a story. I mean, I'm sorry. I just thought, you know, what with the adoption thing you guys looked into a few months ago …" Lois had raised an eyebrow at him, crossed her arms, leaned back in her chair, and waited for him to finish. "Uhh … well, never mind." He turned quickly, almost toppling the pile of papers he had just delivered and scurried away.
'Honestly, you'd think people would mind their own business once in a while.' Lois inwardly rolled her eyes and finished her logging.
Shortly thereafter, Lois looked up to see Clark walking toward her. She knew he had planned to meet with Dr. Klein earlier in the afternoon, but then she had heard several reports on Superman sightings. Wondering if he had even had time for the appointment, she studied his expression.
He looked rather solemn. Since Superman had performed well all afternoon, the meeting with Dr. Klein must not have gone well.
Lois felt her heart sink in her chest, but she realized that this was neither the time nor place to deal with such a personal issue. She gave him a brave smile and quietly said, "Just let me shut down my files and transfer them to my laptop. I'm just about ready to go home."
Lois powered down her computer, gathered her papers and stood, while Clark waited patiently. She looked up at him then put her arms around his chest in a warm, understanding hug. She quietly broke the embrace, captured his hand, and led him to the elevator.
As they walked to the parking garage, Lois began outlining the afternoon's events. She explained her interview with Tracey and all of the other information she had been able to gather that afternoon. By the time she pulled the car onto the main bypass, she was summing it up for him:
"So Dr. Daniels left Harvard basically for two reasons. First, his funding sources were becoming increasingly shady, and the institution has its reputation to protect. More importantly, though, was the direction his research was heading. He was working on genetic manipulation. Officials at Harvard believed this was too controversial. They were doubly glad he had left when the new anti-cloning laws were put into effect — "
"The ones that were put in place after the president was kidnapped and cloned?"
"That would be them. And you'll notice that several of the papers Daniels authored have come out just in the last year. Where's he been getting the money to fund all this research? Maybe it's even more than Tracey suspected. Maybe he's selling embryos, not eggs. Genetically altered embryos."
"Have you been able to track down a list of the grant suppliers? Or any of his current funding sources?"
"Well, I was hoping my partner could run down some of those lists. I, after all, am going to have my hands full reading all these papers."
"You know, Lois, it might be easier if we switched jobs here. I can read a lot faster than you can, and those papers look pretty heavy on the technical side."
"Are you implying that they're too complex for me?!" Lois raised an eyebrow to Clark, and he became slightly flustered.
"No, of course not. You can do anything you put your mind to. I just thought — "
"Well, you can stop right there," Lois interrupted . "I'm doing the reading part because it's an area that interests me. Particularly now. You know, I was thinking we could kill two birds with one stone, here."
"Lois," Clark sighed. "I think the story is sound. But I don't want to sign up for IVF just yet."
"I'm not saying sign up. I was just thinking we could pose as a couple looking at the method. You know, check out the clinic and maybe get some more information on our own situation in the process. It would be one more test we can run without going to Dr. Klein."
Clark looked at her, incredulous. "Lois, I'm not going to risk any strangers handling a … sample like that — let alone a person potentially capable of gene manipulation!"
"I'm not suggesting that, either. At least not directly. Look, we need to find out what's going on on a more basic level if we ever want to have children. That's going to involve some risks. I'm not saying that we should just go around taking every lab test in the world. But I think *I* should be tested, to make sure I'm normal. I think we should also look into the procedures used to test male samples.
"All, I'm asking, Clark, is that we keep an open mind. We could make sure the sample gets destroyed after the tests are done. Just promise me you'll keep an open mind." She turned pleading eyes from the road to her husband, who was staring out the passenger side of the Jeep. She reached out her hand to rub his shoulder before returning to the gears to downshift as she exited the bypass.
"Clark, maybe now would be a good time for you to tell me what Dr. Klein said."
Clark took a deep breath. "Well, the results are the same. Dr. Klein had the same tests run and they showed the same deficiencies. Basically, my sample looks normal. But it's missing one enzyme that makes it impossible for me to father children.
"As a matter of fact, that's part of the reason he told me the initial tests looked promising back when we started all of this — he was testing for unusual Kryptonian differences but it turns out the actual problem is a more basic one. Apparently, even human men are sometimes missing this enzyme. It's one of the causes of normal human male infertility. All my life I've wanted to be normal, and now I am in a way I didn't expect." He smiled a tired, humorless smile and shook his head.
Clark paused for a long moment before continuing.
Finally, he sighed sadly. "I think the hardest part of the whole thing is knowing it's all my fault and there's not a thing I can do to control it."
Lois pulled in front of their townhouse but made no move to exit the car. She put a hand on his knee as he started to open his door. He looked at her, his eyes full of sorrow and guilt.
"I won't let you think like that, Clark Kent, there is *no* blame here," she said firmly. Then she softened. "Come on, let's treat this like an investigation. We're going to figure it out together. This story on the IVF clinic may just be a good place for us to start. I'm not suggesting that we try IVF. I'm just suggesting we learn about it. Maybe, if the tests aren't too intrusive, we can even have that same basic test run one more time, just to make sure." She gave his knee a reassuring squeeze before getting out of the car.
Clark opened the door to the house and allowed Lois to enter before him.
She turned and gave him a reassuring hug in the foyer. "Let me go get changed, then we'll fix some supper and watch TV for a while. I'm not quite ready to read science yet. I never liked reading science books. Labs — they were more fun. Especially when we got to blow things up!!"
Lois babbled partly out of habit and partly to lighten the mood between them. It would be a long night of work, and she needed a little bit of a breather or she'd work herself into a good headache. Clark appreciated her attempt to lighten the mood and suggested that some "Mad About You" reruns — from the first season — were playing on the local FOX station. They made dinner and watched the show, putting their own problems temporarily to the side.
The following morning, Lois and Clark walked into the Planet newsroom with a good deal of the background research done for the story. Lois sat down at her desk and brought up her e-mail program to get some administrative work out of the way. Clark brought her a fresh cup of coffee, and they sat together to plan the day's strategies. They knew they needed to get into the IVF clinic to get the rest of their questions answered, but getting an appointment for one of those places could take months. They knew they didn't have that kind of time. Maybe it was time to call the Chief in on this one.
As if he had read their thoughts, the voice of the managing editor came booming across the floor.
"Lane, Kent. My office. Pronto."
Lois looked up at Clark with a furrowed brow. How did Perry always seem to know … ? Clark shrugged his shoulders, grabbed his coffee, Daytimer and pencil, and headed to the Chief's office. Lois followed, a bit less organized than her husband.
She made it into the office, but at Perry's motion to shut the door behind her, she looked briefly at her dangerously full hands and quickly kicked the door shut with her foot.
Perry looked up at the her from the piece he was editing, his eyebrow raised at Lois. She shrugged and sat down. As she carefully put down her coffee cup, Clark caught her planner before it hit the floor. Their eyes met with a smile, and Lois mouthed a thanks as Perry began to speak.
"I want to know where you two are with the 'Medicare for the homeless' story."
"Well, Perry, something else has come up. Yesterday I got a call from a friend of Lucy's who said she had some information for me. She works at a fertility clinic and thinks that one of the head doctors there is dealing in something shady."
"You got anything besides your kid sister's friend's word on this?"
"Chief, Lois and I did a lot of research last night. The physician in question, a Dr. Herman Daniels, has a questionable reputation, and certainly has a great deal of mysterious funding sources."
"And what was your plan to investigate this further?"
"Well, we weren't exactly sure. We figured maybe we'd try to interview the doctor, get a tour of the facility, do a little digging …" Clark started.
"We were thinking of maybe trying to get my source to let us in after hours …" Lois piped in, enthusiastically.
"Breaking in?" The two reporters had the grace to look a little guilty. "When you have a perfectly good cover? No, no. That wouldn't do at all. Actually, you have an appointment this afternoon, as a Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kane. You're taking a last minute appointment with Dr. Daniels to get information on the practices of assisted conception techniques." Perry searched his desk for the envelope he had used to jot down the appointment information.
"But how did you …?!?"
In mid-search, Perry looked up at Lois with raised eyebrows. "Next time, make sure Jimmy knows that you're doing background research for a story *before* you have him deliver you articles like that, Lois. He doesn't have the tightest lips on this ship. Fortunately, I figured out where you were going with this and was able to squash any rumors that might be flying around," Perry finished, raising an eyebrow and looking at them pointedly.
Lois blushed slightly and started, "Oh, Perry … I …" while Clark stammered, "Jimmy's always getting confused, Chief. You know … you remember the time when …"
Perry chuckled and waved his hand. "I don't want to know. I just want the low-down on this story. Here's the details for your appointment. If you don't have anything more solid by this afternoon, I want you back on the other story. We can't have this series going cold."
"Sure, Chief. You'll get details as soon as we have them."
Lois and Clark picked up their things and walked quickly to the door.
"By the way, Lois …"
Lois and Clark stopped before they got out the door and turned to face Perry. He had a slightly wicked glimmer in his eye as he asked:
"How's the decaf?"
"Mr. and Mrs. Kane. Please have a seat. My name is Dr. Daniels, and, should you decide to go through the ART process, I will be the one in charge of your case."
"Yes, Assisted Reproductive Technology. That's the latest term we use around here. We think it represents us so much better because there are so many different techniques involved in fertility treatment. IVF is just one of the techniques we use. Besides, ART sounds so much more approachable than 'in-vitro fertilization', don't you think?" He smiled a charming smile and Lois laughed nervously as she clenched Clark's hand.
"Before I begin, I have to ask. Do I know you from somewhere? You look so familiar …"
"No, no. I think we just have those kind of faces, you know." Lois smiled assuredly while Clark nodded his assent.
"All right then. Let me give you a basic overview of what we do," Dr. Daniels continued.
"First of all, this is just an informational meeting; we're not going to do any type of physical exams today, so relax." The doctor smiled at the couple, demonstrating a polished bedside manner.
Lois and Clark each laughed and "relaxed".
"Our success rate at this clinic is one of the highest in the entire eastern United States, and we are very proud of our work here. But undergoing fertility treatments is an emotional and expensive procedure, so I want you to feel informed and have time to weigh your options before you make a decision one way or another. So, today, we're just going to run through the various procedures we offer here at the clinic and let you ask any questions you might have. Later, if you do decide to work with us, we'll do complete physical work-ups on each of you, have you fill out some in-depth questionnaires, that sort of thing. Still with me?"
At their nod, he continued, giving them some of the history of the clinic, his medical background, and other introductory information.
Lois and Clark listened carefully as Dr. Daniels then explained the various fertility assistance methods provided at the clinic. They took notes — though not as detailed as they would have as reporters, so as to appear as just a "regular" couple.
They especially took interest in the types of tests that would be run during the preliminary work up, noting phrases like "sperm count and mobility", "assay tests", and "mucus volume and consistency".
They also noted the description of in-vitro fertilization, whereby egg and sperm are combined in the laboratory and the resulting embryos are implanted into the woman's uterus. Lois and Clark exchanged a meaningful look when the doctor mentioned that unused fertilized embryos could be stored for future implantation.
"I realize that I'm going through this rather quickly," the doctor concluded as he wrapped up his prepared spiel. "Let me give you this pamphlet: 'A Patient's Guide to Assisted Reproductive Technologies' that explains our processes in further depth. If you decide to go through with the procedure, just contact the front office and we'll set you up with the preliminary tests as soon as is convenient for you."
"Dr. Daniels, my wife and I want to thank you for making time for us in your schedule. We know how busy you are, but we're both so anxious to see why we haven't been able to conceive. We've heard such good things about you."
"Thank you, thank you. I only do what I can to ease the pain of infertility. "
Lois looked at the doctor. "If you don't mind my asking, Dr. Daniels, why did you choose this field?"
"Well, Mrs. Kane, I actually came into this field in a round-about kind of way. I was studying genetic disorders and found that work to be so … depressing. You see, I was beginning to see what actually caused some of the worst afflictions mankind has yet to overcome. Yet I was powerless to change anything. Technology is advanced enough that I could identify the problem, but not so advanced as to offer a solution. The situation was impossibly frustrating for me. Then I saw a way to put my studies of embryo development to good use. My own brother and his wife couldn't conceive. The wait for most clinics like this one are very long, and the process is so expensive. Here, with several of my own techniques being applied, we have managed to cut the price of the procedure while boosting the efficiency. A win-win situation. And, of course, nothing can beat the joy on the faces of my patients when that baby is born."
Clark smiled. "I can certainly understand that. Well, Dr. Daniels, we'd both like to thank you for your efforts. I'm sure your secretary will be hearing from us soon."
Dr. Daniels shook hands with the couple and escorted them from the interviewing room to the lobby. As they began putting on their coats, he said his good-byes and walked back towards his lab.
Just as he was about to turn the corner, however, he heard Mrs. Kane greet someone in the lobby. Curious, he turned to see who it was.
"Tracey? Hi! You probably don't remember me. It's Lori, Lori Kane … Lucy's sister."
"Lori? Oh, of course! I remember you! How are you? How's Lucy?"
"She's fine. Have you met my husband, Charles?"
"No, I haven't; Mr. … uh, *Kane*, it's a pleasure to meet you."
"How long have you been working here, Tracey?"
"Well, I'm just doing one of my research rotations here. It's not permanent. I've been here a couple of months, and I really like it. How's Lucy doing?"
"You know Lucy. She seemed like she was on top of the world when I talked to her a few days ago. Say, it's just about lunch time. How about Charlie and I buy you lunch?"
"I guess I can spare half an hour. Let me grab my coat."
Tracey got her coat and told her boss that she was going on a short break. She walked out of the clinic and found Lois and Clark. They walked in relative silence until they got to a small yet busy deli. After they placed their orders, Tracey gave Lois with an admonishing look.
"Lois, you just about gave me a heart attack in there. I didn't know what to do!"
"She's doing that to me all the time. Believe me, you handled it better than most." Clark winked and smiled.
"Okay, you two, no ganging up on me."
The three laughed a bit before Tracey began to speak again.
"Lois, I have some more information for you." Tracey hesitated slightly, looking at Clark.
"Oh, you can trust him. He's my partner-in-crime, so to speak. Clark Kent, this is Tracey Jenkins."
"Nice to meet you for real, Mr. Kent. I really like your work."
"Thanks." Clark smiled down at Tracey.
Looking at his handsome face, Tracey knew just what Lucy meant when she said that Lois just seemed to have all the luck.
"Listen, I've been keeping my eyes open, just like you said. I noticed something funny." She pulled out two sheets of paper. "I work for Dr. Crick, whose lab is in the east wing. The other interns and I share a small lab at the end of the hall, behind Dr. Crick's office. It connects to her lab, which we also use." Tracey drew a basic blueprint of the east wing with the three rooms annotated.
"Now, the basic interview and clinical rooms are in the center of the floor, then Dr. Daniels has the same basic layout in the west wing that Dr. Crick has in the east wing. His office is the same size as Dr. Crick's. His lab is the same and also mirrors hers. And we assistants share his lab with him. The room we have on our side is pretty small, but that space is unaccounted for on Dr. Daniels' side. I went over the other night when I was working late. I checked all over for a door. I even went outside to see if maybe the west wing looked different from the outside. But it didn't. I have a feeling that Dr. Daniels is hiding what ever he's doing in there."
"So now we just have to get into his lair."
"Actually, I have an idea on that, too. If Mr. Kent submits a sample for us to test, you could easily ask for a tour of the facilities while Dr. Daniels explains the results to you."
Lois and Clark exchanged a look.
Clark responded hesitantly. "Tracey, we're not sure we trust Dr. Daniels with a sample. Especially if he's selling things or altering them. It's just too … personal."
Tracey waved her hand. "Don't worry. Dr. Daniels doesn't get involved at that stage. Besides, the first battery of tests destroys the samples completely, and the degraded samples, once tested, are all tossed into the biomedical waste bin. There won't be anything left for him or anyone else to alter."
The trio finished their lunches, making plans and warning Tracey to keep an eye out for anything else that could help them.
Clark woke from a very light, disturbed sleep to find himself alone in bed. He was about to get up and look for Lois when he noticed her sitting on the window seat, bathed in moonlight. He thought for a second how lovely she was, and how lucky he was to have her in his life. Then he noticed the set of her shoulders, the tension she seemed to be harboring. "Honey, it's late, and I know you're tired. What's bothering you? "
Lois got up from the window and walked back to the bed. "I just don't see how Dr. Klein can be right, Clark. I mean, you say he sounds so certain. But I *know* we can have children." Lois eyed her husband with determination.
It was 1:30 in the morning, they had a long week at work behind them, and they had to go in the next morning because it was their Saturday to cover the floor. But Clark knew by the set of her jaw that she was not going to let this problem go.
"Honey, Dr. Klein says his assistant has gone over the test results of both samples I gave him very carefully. The enzyme I need to fertilize your egg just isn't there. Beyond trying to manipulate my cells, there's no way that we can have children naturally."
Lois lay back down with him, resting her head on her pillow so that they were facing each other in the bed. "Clark, I know we've talked about this, but I just can't help wondering if Dr. Klein would be able to work more efficiently if he knew the whole truth." Lois sighed. "I know it's way too risky — I mean, look what happened when we told my father. But I can't help but wonder. I keep thinking: maybe if he knew it was *me* you were trying to get pregnant, maybe that would help somehow."
"I'm just afraid of what could happen to him, honey. He's already under enough pressure being the 'Superman Expert.' Besides, a test is a test. Whether it's performed on Superman or Clark Kent, it's going to come back with the same results."
"Yeah, but we have more information than he does. We've seen our descendants, right? And what about that cycle thing? We still don't know exactly what that meant, but it seemed to be important." She took his hand and intertwined her fingers in his. "Clark, we've come through *so much* together. We've already beaten some incredible odds, not to mention several mad scientists, a few aliens, and your random crazy-rich-guy. Do you honestly think I'm going to let one stupid enzyme get in our way?"
Clark laughed a tired laugh. She had so much fire, so much life. It hurt him inside to think that he might never see that fire in a child they created together. Although he had held a child that was descended from *a* Lois and Clark, he couldn't help but worry that the people he met were from a different time line or universe, especially given all he and Lois's dealings with the Alternative Metropolis over the last couple of years. There was still no way to *prove* that he and Lois could have children of their own.
"Here, roll over," he said, indicating for her to face away from him. "You're so tense. You need to relax and get some sleep." He began to rub her back and shoulders under her night shirt.
"It's just that I hate leaving problems unsolved." She stifled a little yawn as she relaxed under Clark's soothing hands.
Clark moved closer and began planting butterfly kisses on her neck. "Well, what do you say we run these tests one more time. You know, even baseball players get three strikes."
She turned to him in surprise. "Do you mean it? Run a test at the clinic?"
"I've been thinking about it, too. Dr. Klein and Tracey both said the tests are destructive. Besides, if we do find a secret room when we go for the test, we're going to have to come back later to investigate it. That would be the perfect time to retrieve or destroy any remaining sample."
"Well, I think that's about as foolproof as things can get."
"And this way, we get another test without bothering Dr. Klein again."
Lois kissed his mouth gleefully and felt him return it hungrily.
As their lips parted, she gave him a special grin.
"I don't care what any of them say, Mr. Kent. I think your 'samples' are just perfect!"
The day of the second appointment with Dr. Daniels arrived quickly. Clark mentioned a bit of apprehension at answering such personal questions, especially under a false identity and to strangers suspected of wrong-doings, so Lois decided to coach him a bit in the car.
"Lying is an art form, Clark. The key to success is that you have to stay as close to the truth as possible. So we give them fake names, but otherwise, we tell the whole truth. You see, you get caught when you embellish too much."
"Lois, I think I can handle it. After all, I have been living with two identities for five years now."
Lois shot him a look of amazement and rolled her eyes, teasing him. "Well, that doesn't prove anything. Look at some of the excuses you came up with before you had me helping you out. Next thing you know, you'll be telling Dr. Daniels that you're a member of the Cheese Of The Month Club."
The teasing banter continued until they were in the clinic waiting room and greeted by the doctor himself.
"Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Kane. I'm so glad to see you back so soon. You both look nervous, but just remember, hundreds of couples go through this treatment, and we haven't lost any yet!" His attempt at humor lightened the mood a little, and Lois laughed.
"We're ready for anything you have to throw at us, Dr. Daniels."
"Well, I trust none of it will be too painful." He led them to a small room in the center of the building, where a young man in a lab coat stood waiting for them. "Mr. Kane, this is Bill, my assistant. He'll show you to a room where you can provide us with the sample we need. Mrs. Kane, you can wait here and fill out this questionnaire with as much information as you can. When Mr. Kane is done, Bill will show the two of you to my office, then we'll sit down and go over some of your history."
When Clark returned to the waiting room, Lois was still trying to finish up the medical history questionnaire. She looked at her watch. "Geez, that was pretty fast. No stage fright?"
"Lo-is." Clark flushed slightly. "Please." He took a deep breath and tried to relax. "I guess I'm just kinda getting used to delivering these samples in clinical situations, that's all. Of course, the pictures I have of you in my wallet help."
"Pictures?! What pictures?!"
"Gotcha." He grinned, and it was her turn to blush. "Now, shall we go find Bill?"
The lab assistant guided them to Dr. Daniels's office, where the doctor was working on some paperwork. The walls of his office were covered with a mixture of Escher prints and degrees, demonstrating the doctor's intellect as well as his taste. It was obvious that the surroundings were supposed to look professional as well as personal, and the overall effect calmed and reassured many prospective patients.
"Now, let's have a look at what you've filled out here. Mrs. Kane, your medical history seems complete, the physical came out completely normal, and your family history seems normal.
"Mr. Kane, your information is a bit more sketchy. You were adopted?"
"Yes, and I have no idea of my family's medical history."
"That's unfortunate. But not tragic. We won't worry about that unless we come back with a negative result on your activity test."
"When can we expect that result?"
"Well, Tracey Jenkins should be running those tests this afternoon. I believe you are acquainted with her?"
"Yeah, kinda. She's a friend of my sister," Lois replied smoothly.
Dr. Daniels smiled and nodded. "Well, she said she'd put a priority on it. I guess it is who you know, after all. Anyway, she should have the results in a few days and we'll work from there. In the meantime, are there any other questions you have for me?"
Lois looked at Clark, who gave the signal that he had found whatever he was looking for in his super-search of the room. They could leave whenever she wanted. "No, not right now, Dr. Daniels, thank you. We're just anxious to get the test results."
They stood up and exchanged good-byes. The doctor led them to the front desk so they could make an appointment for the next phase of the treatment. When they got outside of the building, Clark revealed what he had found.
"There's another room, which appears to be a laboratory, connected to his office, just as Tracey suspected. He has all sorts of equipment in there; there's no telling what he's doing."
"Or why he's hiding it. By the way, I read through our contract with them, and there is a clause that once we withdraw our samples, our file is to be sealed. Therefore, if the couple Tracey told me about did finish up, their file should never have been signed out to Dr. Daniels. That in itself is illegal."
"Well, what do you say we call Tracey tonight and have her let us into the clinic tomorrow night. I saw in Daniels' appointment book that he has some sort of convention out of town tomorrow, so it will be good timing."
The following evening, they met Tracey at the back door of the clinic at the pre-arranged time. "Come on in, guys. Hurry. The camera swings back this way in 5 seconds."
They raced through the door and Tracey led them to the lab behind Dr. Daniels's office.
"I think there must be a door into the extra room both in this room and in his office, just as there is to our other lab. I just don't know exactly where. On our side, it's where this chemical cabinet is on this side."
Lois stepped up to the large cabinet and tried to open it. The cabinet door was locked. She opened her purse and pulled out some devices. After a few seconds, the sound of the lock coming undone echoed through the lab.
She opened the door of the cabinet and pulled out two empty solvent jars. She knocked on the back panel of the cabinet and noticed a hollow ring. Training a flashlight on the back of the cabinet, she and Clark both tried to find if the cabinet was hiding anything. As Clark pulled on small lever, the back panel swung aside to reveal the room behind.
Tracey overcame her nervousness at the sight of the hidden lab. "Cool! I don't believe he actually hides all this!"
The three of them walked through the doorway inside the cabinet into the small room beyond. Clark quickly booted the computer he found while Lois started paging through the file cabinet. Tracey was hesitant to touch anything. Lois, noticing this, tried to keep the girl calm.
"Tracey, why don't you go get our files and sample for us from your lab, so we can take them when we leave. Besides, you should cover for us in case anybody comes while we're in here."
"Oh, of course, that sounds like a good idea. I'll be back in, say, 15 minutes?"
"Yeah, that should give us plenty of time to find anything we need."
The room was quiet after she left. Only the sound of rustling papers and a clicking keyboard could be heard.
"Jackpot!" Clark said quietly. He removed a blank floppy disk from his jacket pocket and began to quickly download the information.
"Clark, what'd you find?" Lois whispered.
"This is a log of all the samples Dr. Daniels has 'altered', what was done to them, and to whom they were sold."
"Well, check this out. Here's a detailed technique on gene alteration to eliminate genetic abnormalities." Lois laid the notes out and began to photograph them. Neither of them heard the second hidden door to the room open.
"Ahh, Mr. and Mrs. Kane. Or should I say Kent … Lane and Kent, if I'm not mistaken. I knew you two looked familiar. I suppose it's a good thing I've been monitoring Ms. Jenkins's comings and goings. Otherwise you two might have gone without a greeting party."
Both Lois and Clark looked up guiltily from what they were doing. The doctor held a small but deadly handgun, and it was aimed directly at Lois.
"Well, Doc, nobody has ever accused you of being stupid. Tasteless, maybe, but stupid, no."
Clark looked at Lois, his eyes imploring her not to bait the scientist. "Oh, Mr. Kent, don't worry that I'll lose my temper. I certainly won't use this unless you force me to." Daniels looked back at Lois. "But I *will* use it if I have to, Ms. Lane," he said firmly.
"You two are a small snag in my plan, true, but I've come too far to allow you to interfere. However, I'm a humane man. Oh, I'm going to kill you, don't get me wrong. I'd just much prefer your deaths to be quiet and peaceful, wouldn't you? Gunshots can be so painful, not to mention messy."
"Well, Dr. Kevorkian, before our untimely demise, I was wondering if you could satisfy my curiosity on one thing."
"What's that, Ms. Lane? Why was I stealing these embryos from these couples? Well, not all of them are stolen. But research like mine demands a lot of samples and this was a guaranteed free source. Besides, without my research, many of these couples wouldn't have been able to have normal children in the first place!"
"Just what do you deem to be 'normal', Dr. Daniels?" Clark spat out accusingly. He also was slowly maneuvering himself between the gun and Lois.
"That'll be far enough, Mr. Kent. I need an unobstructed view of your lovely wife. It really is too bad that you two decided to stake out this clinic tonight. This isn't the safest neighborhood, you know. A lot of bad people come for free treatment at Madison. Some of them might have seen you in your car and decided to rob you. Or maybe you just kept the car running, because it's so cold, and died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning." He indicated a small cylinder of gas next to him.
"I don't think that they're going to die of either, Dr. Daniels."
"Ah, Miss Jenkins. I was wondering if you'd join the party. Good — you've saved me the trouble of tracking you down. I'm surprised you have the guts to face me directly. Perhaps you'd like to walk over to where your friends are standing."
"I don't think so, Dr. Daniels. You see, I have all of your precious samples in this tray," she indicated a rather large box she was carrying, "and won't hesitate to destroy them all with this little acid pellet if you don't drop the gun."
"Miss Jenkins, I think you misjudge the gravity of this situation. If you put down those samples, I may let you live. As it is, I certainly doubt that Dr. Crick will take your word in these things over mine, especially since you have been opening all these files that you're not supposed to have access to. I have computer records of you doing so." The doctor continued, taunting her. "And that egg that you sold on the black market? Not a smart thing to do, taking advantage of your position when you're not even fully qualified yet. Tsk, tsk, Tracey. What will the police think of that?"
At Tracey's stunned look, the doctor laughed. "Oh, yes, Miss Jenkins, I've prepared all sorts of incriminating evidence, ready to be planted at a moment's notice. Just think of it as my insurance policy. I can ruin your career before it even starts."
Tracey's eyes flashed. "You know, losing my career, maybe even going to jail — it all might even be worth it, if it means I can put a stop to work like yours."
"Work like mine?! I would expect you, as a future physician, to understand exactly why I'm doing this! Imagine, a world free of things like Tay Sachs and Downs Syndrome and Alcoholism and Obesity. The list goes on and on!"
"Aren't you forgetting some other defects? Like freckled skin or maybe brown eyes?" Tracey spat out.
"You think you're so clever. You think I'm no better than a Nazi?!" Dr. Daniels rose to his full height, mingling indignation and scorn into one withering glare. Lois took advantage of his distraction to step a fraction sideways. The muzzle of the gun failed to track her progress, and, emboldened, she began inching around the perimeter of the computer desk towards the doctor, who was continuing his diatribe unabated. "Ignorant girl! I'm not suggesting that we wipe out genetic differences, just abnormalities. I will be hailed by future generations as the man who helped humanity become a race of Supermen!"
"Somehow, I don't think so!" Clark disagreed sharply, pulling the doctor's attention further away from Lois. She quickly crossed the remaining distance, coming up behind Dr. Daniels. Her first kick sent his gun arm abruptly upwards. He tightened his finger reflexively on the trigger, but too late — the bullet crashed harmlessly into the ceiling, sending a shower of plaster through the air. The deafening roar startled the scientist, who was unused to firearms. That loosened his grip, and Lois's subsequent blow to his shoulder jarred the gun free, sending it skittering across the lab floor. By that time, Clark had advanced on the doctor from the front, and grabbed him securely by the arm.
"You don't understand!" Dr. Daniels fumed. He tried twisting out of Clark's grip, but with no success.
Lois smirked at him. "You can explain it all to the police."
"Is it over?" Tracey poked her head out from behind a lab bench. Seeing that the excitement had died down, she straightened up and held out the fallen gun. "I grabbed this so he couldn't get it back — Lois, can you take this? I'm feeling a little … shaky."
As she was handing over the gun, a noise at the entrance made them all turn. They saw a security guard standing in the concealed entrance, looking very suspicious. "What's all this? Dr. Daniels, are you okay?"
"Jeb, thank heavens you've come," Dr. Daniels began suavely.
"Don't listen to him, Jeb," Tracey begged. "He's been performing illegal experiments in here; I mean, why else would the room be secret?"
"She's the one who's been breaking the law, young man," the doctor insisted. "And these are her accomplices — look, they've pulled a gun on me!"
Lois shook her head, amazed by the man's gall. "Look, I'm Lois Lane, and this is Clark Kent. We're with the Daily Planet." She could see that Jeb, while no doubt a worthwhile fellow, was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. She sighed. "And we'll be very happy to wait right here until the police arrive to sort everything out, okay?"
The beleaugered young man looked around the disarray in the room, weighed the two stories he'd been told … and decided that he should definitely turn this problem over to higher authorities. "Alright, nobody move. I'm calling the cops." He busied himself with his radio, and kept a watchful eye on them all.
Dr. Daniels sagged in Clark's grip. "If you must. May I sit down in the meantime? I'm not as young as I once was."
Clark released his grip, looking slightly abashed, and the doctor seated himself on the floor of the lab, suddenly looking much older. As if speaking to himself, he said slowly, "At leeast my research will live on. And in the right hands, it will do exactly what I've planned."
"Not if I have anything to say about it," Tracey refuted stoutly.
Clark cocked his head, with a sudden abstracted expression, then reached down behind Dr. Daniels. The carbon monoxide cylinder had been opened, and was quietly hissing the gas into the room. With a disgusted expression, he closed the valve. "I wouldn't count on martyrdom too quickly, Dr. Daniels. It takes a lot more carbon monoxide than that to even give someone a headache."
The doctor glared up at him, at them all, then shook his head. "Someday, the world will understand."
"Maybe someday, when we understand ourselves better, work like yours will have a place." Clark allowed, thoughtfully. "But right now, while people still hate others simply for the reason of skin color, letting a small group of people decide what comprises a 'genetic defect' is dangerous."
"And by the look of your bank account, Dr. Daniels, " Lois interjected, "I don't think your motives are completely altruistic, either."
At that moment, the police arrived, and Lois and Clark turned their energies to explaining the night's activities.
A few hours later, when the authorities were done questioning them, Tracey, Lois, and Clark were allowed to go.
Clark went to phone in the rest of the story while Lois went to find Tracey.
"Tracey?" Lois called to the girl as she was about to return to her own lab.
"Clark and I want to thank you for all your help. You were very brave in there."
She smiled. "You really think so? Thanks! I'm just so glad everything worked out so quickly. I hope that he hadn't done too much damage before he got caught."
"Well, it'll be up to the authorities to notify all the parents and donors of exactly what he was doing."
"Yeah. I'm just glad it's over. I'll be glad to go back to my normal hectic life without having to look over my shoulder."
They smiled and shook hands.
"Oh, by the way, here are the results to your tests. I realize it was all just a cover, but if you ever do have troubles, well, here's one thing you can rule out."
"Rule out?" Lois asked, surprised.
"Yeah. Mr. Kent's sample was completely healthy and normal. The count is good, the hamster ova responded well, and the enzyme assay came back positive — fully within the normal guidelines. Here's the paperwork — and the sample was completely destroyed, just like you asked."
Lois looked at the papers, dumbfounded, then shook her head.
"Thanks, again, Tracey. You're gonna be a terrific doctor."
As they walked into the house, Lois was still trying to make sense of what Tracey had told her. She was so lost in her own thoughts, she didn't even notice the looks Clark kept shooting her way. He kept quiet until they hung up their coats and moved into the living room.
"OK, out with it."
Lois looked up in surprise. "Huh?"
"Come on, Lois, what's wrong? You obviously have something on your mind. You've barely said two words since we left the clinic."
Lois smiled, perplexed. "Well, the thing is … I'm not sure what's wrong. Or maybe I should say, I'm not sure what's right. Here, let me show you something."
She pulled the sheets Tracey had given her from her bag and handed them to her husband.
"These are your test results, Clark. I got them from Tracey when you were on the phone with the Planet."
Clark glanced quickly at the papers, then stopped in his tracks and looked them over much more meticulously.
Lois watched as his expression changed from curiosity to confusion, mirroring her own.
"See what I mean? I don't know what to make of it."
"I don't understand, Lois. It's positive. Exactly where Dr. Klein showed me the deficiency, there's a spike on this graph. I- I can't believe it."
Lois tried to reign in her building excitement. "So, it's really the same test? Tracey said the tests were normal, but I wasn't sure they were the same ones that Dr. Klein ran."
"It's the same test, all right. Here's the enzyme that was missing from my other samples!"
They stared at each other in amazement, then restudied the papers.
"But how could this be? Yesterday you were sterile and today you're not? That doesn't make any sense, Clark! I mean, I'm sure Tracey knows what she's doing, but I trust Dr. Klein, too."
Her eyes widened as she thought of something new. "Clark …" she started, a smile growing on her lips, "any chance this has something to do with that cycle thing?? Oh, I wish there was a way we could re-test the sample we gave to the clinic to see if they did it right!"
Clark looked up from the papers, grinning like a huge weight had just been lifted from his shoulders. He threw the papers on the side table and quickly scooped Lois up in his arms.
"Clark?!" she shrieked in surprise, her voice full of laughter. "What are you doing?"
He started up the stairs with a delighted grin on his face.
"I don't know about you, honey, but I, for one, am thoroughly sick of all this testing. I say we stop *thinking* and start *doing*."
To demonstrate his point, he captured her mouth and gave her a deep kiss.
"Oh, Mr. Kent," Lois purred as they reached the top of the stairs, "I do like your style."
Characters in this episode are copyrighted by DC Comics, December 3rd Production and Warner Brothers. No infringement is intended in any part by the author or the Season 5 group, however, the ideas expressed within this episode are copyrighted (c) 1997 to the author.