By Kyle Harper
Summary: Barry Allen (The Flash) and his friend Tina McGee come to Metropolis around the same time that Barry's enemy The Trickster begins stalking the Prankster. Oh yeah, Lois and Clark are in this one too. (Episode # 15 of The Unaired Fifth Season)
Story Concept by Kyle Harper, Joel Ellis Rea, and Craig Byrne
Written By Kyle Harper
(Originally published as episode #15 of The Krypton Club's Unaired Fifth Season)
Lois drew closer to Clark as the cameras in her face flashed continuously. Shielding her eyes from the light, she leaned over to Clark and whispered, "It's strange having all these reporters and photographers after us — I'm used to being the one asking the questions, not having them asked of me."
Clark gazed around, looking at the crowd of the press that were eager to get closer to them. "These people aren't journalists," Clark said, not speaking as low as his wife had. "They're paparazzi, and they're after pictures of you — Lois Lane, pregnant reporter." Not happy to say the least, Clark put his hands in front of the cameras, saying loudly, "That will be all, gentlemen. My wife and I would like some privacy this evening." Lois walked in front of her husband, going inside the Metropolis Conference Center as Clark dealt with the reporters.
Catching up with Lois again, Clark put his left hand around Lois's body, and she let out a sigh as she felt her husband's familiar presence. "So what did you tell them?" Lois asked, as the couple were led to a table marked with their name.
Clark smiled. "I told them that we didn't want any pictures taken tonight — and then I x-rayed the film in their cameras, so they wouldn't be able to use any of the pictures they'd already taken."
"Good boy," Lois said with a smirk, leaning over to kiss Clark on the cheek. "I don't want anyone to see me in my condition."
"There's nothing wrong with being pregnant," Clark insisted. Lois said nothing; she just slowly lifted up the edge of her top, letting Clark see the developing bulge within. With the other people's attentions on other things, Clark let his hand drift over to his wife's bare stomach, touching it gently.
"Ahem," said a familiar voice from behind them. Clark brought his hand off of his wife's belly, as both he and Lois turned to see who was speaking to them. Lois blushed as she saw Dr. Klein standing there, a bit nervous to have caught the two of them in a romantic situation. "If I'm interrupting you, then I can always come back later…"
"No, no," Lois said hurriedly. "It's fine, Dr. Klein."
"Is there something we can do for you?" Clark asked. Most of the people attending the conference dinner had already arrived.
"I just wanted to tell you that Dr. McGee and Mr. Allen just called and said they'd be a bit late," Dr. Klein said. "They should be here before dinner though; I know how eager the two of you are to interview them, so I told them you'd wait; I hope you don't mind."
"We don't mind at all," Clark said, as Lois opened her mouth to say something quite different. Lois and Clark were attending the annual S.T.A.R. Labs conference with the specific job of interviewing Dr. Tina McGee and Barry Allen, two scientists from Central City. It wasn't Lois's first choice as an assignment, but Perry had pushed it on the couple.
As Dr. Klein walked away, Lois changed the subject away from her growing stomach. "You know why Perry gave us this story, don't you?" she asked, picking up a roll from a saucer, which had been left as an appetizer.
"Because these scientists have a revolutionary method to keep crooks from escaping prison?" Clark offered.
Lois shook her head vigorously. "Because I'm five months pregnant," she said. "I was worried he'd start doing things like this — and now look at us! We're attending some dull science convention!" All the while she had been speaking, Lois had been chewing on her roll, and as she finished talking now, she picked up another small roll and shoved it inside her mouth.
"Uh, honey?" Clark whispered. "Don't you think you're eating a little fast?"
Lois sniffed. "I'm hungry; what can I say?" Clark just smiled; the hormonal changes of his pregnant wife never ceased to amaze him.
James Jesse whistled softly as he read his newspaper. He smiled to himself, the reason for his smile a mystery to the man sitting next to him.
"What's the grin on your face for?" his cellmate asked. "Don't you realize where you are?"
James Jesse tossed his newspaper aside and looked his cellmate Arthur Simonson directly in the face. "So we're in prison — big deal! I've been here for several years already…do you REALLY expect me to stay in the doldrums for the rest of my sentence?"
"You've been sentenced to life in prison…" Arthur began.
"*Exactly!*" Jesse broke in. "Life in prison…and I refuse to stay depressed about it!" Rising up from his bed, Jesse crossed the cell quickly, waving his arms around. "Maybe I have been taken away from the outside world…maybe my plans for revenge against the good people of Central City have been put on hold…but I'm not about to just sit on my rear end for the rest of my life!"
Simonson rolled his eyes, turning over in bed. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were getting out of here," he muttered under his breath.
James Jesse turned to give a snappy comeback, but was interrupted as a prison guard made his way toward their cell, a large bouquet of balloon animals in his hand. He silently unlocked the door to the small room Jesse and Simonson were held in.
"For me?" Jesse said in mock sarcasm, extending his hands to the guard.
"Yes, they're for you," the guard snapped, pulling the balloons away as he spoke. Arthur remained curled up on his small cot, trying to ignore them. The guard handed the balloons to Jesse, who sat on the edge of his bed.
"Why, there's a card!" Jesse said maniacally, pulling the small card away from the side of one of the balloons. "Could you hold these for me?" he asked, pushing the balloons back toward the guard. He did as he was asked, standing there looking bored as James Jesse read the card.
"To my lovie-dovie James…yadda yadda…may you get everything you deserve…"
"You got a woman?" Arthur asked from his bed, sitting up at the sound of this new development.
"Not just any woman," James said emphatically. He slowly slipped out a small pin that had been taped inside the card. "She's my ticket out of here."
And as the guard wondered what he meant by that, James jumped into action. Rising off of his bed, he sprang toward the guard, the pin in one hand. As the guard brought his hand to the gun attached to his side, James punched the pin through the balloon animals in the guard's hand — and hot burning acid flowed out, splashing into the guard's face.
"What the — ?" Arthur said, turning over in his bed to see what was going on. He watched the guard drop to his feet in pain, the acid burning his skin. James Jesse just laughed wickedly as he took the gun from the guard's side, preparing to leave the cell.
"It's been nice knowing you," James said with a smirk. He cocked the gun. "But now my time here has come to an end…" Arthur gulped as his cellmate pointed the revolver at him. "So, sayonara, adios…and good night!"
Arthur didn't have a chance to scream as James pulled the trigger. The bullet penetrated his heart instantly. James never had a chance to check up on this, though, because he was already out the door of the cell.
Lois tapped her fingers impatiently on the side of the table, looking to her husband for some support. "Dinner's over," she said. "Don't you think we should be going?"
Clark looked around the room, seeing the guests at the conference dinner beginning to leave. More than half of the scientists had left, and still Dr. McGee and Mr. Allen had not shown up. "Perry really wanted us to get the interview," Clark reminded her.
"And I really want to go home," Lois said. "So who's going to get what they want: me or Perry?" She looked at her husband with a smile on her face.
As Clark thought this over, a waiter with a cart full of desserts passed by, and Clark reached for a saucer with a slice of cake on it. He slid the saucer in front of his wife. "German chocolate cake!" Lois exclaimed. "My favorite!" Clark sat in shock as his wife reached out and picked up the gooey piece of cake.
"Don't you want to use a fork?" Clark asked, as Lois shoved a large piece of cake inside her mouth.
"Dntph bpe sphilpee," was all Lois was able to say, her mouth stuffed full with cake. Clark tried to contain his laughter, happy that his wife's sudden food cravings, a common thing for a pregnant woman, were being used to his advantage for once.
As Lois tried to swallow the large piece of cake, a couple walked toward their table. The couple glanced at each other, and with a look Clark knew they were in love; it reminded him of a similar look he often gave Lois.
"We are *so* sorry we're late," the woman said. She was a beautiful woman, her dark hair falling to her shoulders. The man at her side had a classically handsome face. "My name is Dr. Tina McGee, and this is my partner and fiancee Barry Allen." She gestured toward the man at her side.
"It's good to finally meet you," Clark said, shaking Barry's hand as he took a seat next to him. "I'm Clark Kent, and this is my wife and partner Lois Lane."
Still trying to swallow the cake, Lois extended her hand to Tina, shaking the scientist's hand vigorously. Then, realizing her hand had been covered with cake, she pulled her hand back, but it was too late. Tina looked down at her hand, covered with brown frosting, as she took the seat next to Barry.
"Oops, sorry" Lois said, before she finally managed to swallow her cake, and reached for a napkin. As she rubbed the mess off of her hand, she said, "We're glad you both agreed to do this interview." She brought her napkin to her mouth, feeling the crumbs covering her lips too.
Noticing his wife's discomfort, Clark tried to change the subject. Looking at Barry, he asked, "Tell us about this project."
Barry smiled as he opened his mouth to elaborate on the reason for the interview. "All of this began about six months ago when Tina and I were working together on…"
Barry stopped suddenly as he was interrupted by Dr. Klein, who was speaking to the entire room via a microphone in the front of the convention hall. "Umm, attention everyone," Dr. Klein said nervously. "I don't want to panic any of you, but I've been told that the First Bank of Metropolis is being held up next door." In the audience, several began to gasp. "This isn't a reason for anyone to panic — all we ask is that you stay inside until this situation next door is under control."
Lois looked to Clark, and he nodded, both of them knowing he needed an excuse to get out of there. With their attention on each other, they didn't realize that Barry was giving Tina a similar look.
"Clark, I think I want another piece of cake," Lois asked, pointing towards the dessert tray on the other side of the room. "Would you be a dear and go get one for me?"
Clark nodded, and said, I'll be right back."
As he left, Tina looked to her fiancee. She slapped the side of her head. "Silly me!" she exclaimed. "I left those papers in our car. Barry, could you get them for me?"
"It'll just take a moment," Barry said, walking toward the exit door on the opposite side of the room from Clark.
Lois and Tina looked at each other nervously, at a loss for words.
Inside the First Bank of Metropolis, an angry bank robber held a gun to an elderly teller's head. "Give me all the money you've got or I blow her brains out!" he screamed. "And if anyone else moves, she gets the bullet through her head — and then I'll put it through theirs too." The people in the bank cowered in the corner, unable to do or say anything.
The wall of the bank suddenly burst open, as Superman made his way into the hostage situation. "Put down your guns," he commanded. The robber just laughed at him, pointing the gun at Superman's chest.
Clark made no move, as he tried to think of how to handle this situation. Blow the gun out of the robber's hand? Use his heat vision to make him drop the gun? Let him try shooting at his chest? Foiling a bank robber was child's play for him, and the only real dilemma was deciding which course of action to use this time.
Suddenly, the robber put the gun to the elderly teller's temple. "I warned you!" he snapped.
As Superman made a move to save the woman, the front door of the bank suddenly opened, a cold breeze coming in. No one noticed the red blur moving quickly through the bank, so fast that it could barely be seen. The elderly teller screamed out as the gun went off, the bullet coming towards her head.
Clark moved quickly to catch the bullet in his hand. Before he could, though, he blinked — and as his eyes opened again, he looked out in amazement. The robber had been flung to the floor, a rope tied around his hands and waist. The elderly woman gasped as the gun flew across the room, crashing into the wall. The bullet that had nearly ended her life dropped to the floor, clinking against the ground as it fell.
"Oh, thank you, Superman!" the woman exclaimed, reaching out and kissing him on the cheek. "You saved my life!"
"But…I didn't," Clark whispered. Not wanting to discuss the issue any further, he took to the air, flying out of the room — and wondering what had just happened. He hadn't been the one to stop the robber. But if he hadn't done it — then who had?
Kyle Griffin walked slowly through the halls of the Metropolis Penitentiary, a prison guard keeping a close walk on him as he walked down the dark hall. After all, Kyle Griffin was the man who had terrorized Metropolis as the Prankster twice — he was not someone to be ignored.
The guard, however, was not too concerned about any move Kyle would make. In the past few years Kyle had become a model prisoner, and now he had gone so far as to even tutor other prisoners in his spare time. His efforts wouldn't reduce his sentence — which by now equaled several lifetimes in prison — but it did make Kyle feel a whole lot better.
"What is this about?" Kyle asked, as the guard led him into a padded room.
"You have a visitor," the guard said laconically. "Your sister."
"But I don't have a — -" Kyle began. The guard left the room, slamming the door behind him. " — -sister," Kyle finished, turning towards the other side of the room.
The room was split in half, a glass wall separating Kyle from the other side of the room. He crossed to the glass, sitting down in a chair and picking up the headphones in front of him. As he did so, the door on the other side of the glass opened, and a beautiful woman walked through, a purse slung over her shoulders. She had dark red hair that fell halfway down her back, and a curvaceous body rivaling that of a supermodel.
"She's no relation of mine," Kyle whispered under his breath. "No one in my family looks like that!" Trying to slobber all over himself as he looked at her, he watched as the woman sat in the chair on her side of the glass and put her headphones on.
"Hello?" she said frantically. "Can you hear me?"
"I can hear you," Kyle piped up. "But lady, you've made a big mistake. I'm not your brother."
The woman squinted at him, leaning her head close to the glass to take a better look. "Are you sure?" she said quietly. "I saw your picture in the paper, and you look so much like him."
"Sorry," Kyle said. "You've got the wrong guy." He removed his headphones, crossing back to the door of the visiting room, and knocking on the metal door to be let out.
The woman sitting on the other side of the glass smiled as she removed her own headphones. Opening her purse quickly, she removed a small rubber duck and placed it close to the glass. Leaving the room quietly, she pressed a small remote control button in her purse as she left.
While Kyle hollered to be let out, the rubber duck near the glass began to quack. Kyle stopped yelling and turned around, puzzled to see the yellow duck sitting there and making so much noise. "Hey!" Kyle yelled, going towards the glass and yelling, as if the woman could hear through the glass. "You left your duck!"
The duck just continued to quack, and Kyle got an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Backing away from the glass, he moved back to the door, still trying to have a guard let him out. As he reached the door, the duck stopped quacking for just a moment, and the room was filled with an eerie silence.
And then all hell broke loose.
A bomb that had been carefully placed within the duck suddenly exploded, and the glass window in the middle of the room suddenly shattered, shards of glass shooting at Kyle's face. He screamed in terror, as a guard finally opened the door to see what was going on, the door slamming Kyle upside his head. Kyle fell to the ground unconscious. "What the — ?" the guard said to himself, looking out at the confusion.
Clark and Barry both walked back into the conference hall, coming in from opposite sides. Tina and Lois had been sitting in silence, waiting for their men to return. Both Clark and Barry reached the table at the same time.
"Uh — I couldn't find those papers," Barry said. He was holding a bag, and Lois watched as he brought a hamburger out of the bag. "I did find some food, though." As Clark took a seat next to his wife, he watched in fascination as Barry practically shoved the entire burger into his mouth. He was as voracious an eater as Lois was — only he couldn't blame it on a pregnancy.
"Here's your cake," Clark said, offering a piece to Lois. She accepted the plate gratefully, and even though she had only asked for it as an excuse to get out of the room, she picked up her fork and dug into the slice.
Clark and Tina just looked at each other as Barry and Lois both ate. Barry let out an "Mmm," while Lois rubbed her stomach in satisfaction. Finally, Clark looked at Tina and said, "So, tell us more about this program of yours in Central City."
Tina smiled as she began to speak about her development. "Well, as I'm sure you're aware of, Central City has one of the worst crime rates in the nation."
"It's the second worst, isn't it?" Clark asked. "Gotham City is first, Central City next, and Metropolis is third."
Tina nodded. "In recent years we've had several cases where inmates in our prisons have been breaking out and wreaking havoc on our city again. Barry here is a police scientist, so he's been directly involved in several of these cases — and I've worked with the police department on more then one occasion myself."
As Barry finished the third hamburger in his bag, he swallowed and added to the conversation. "We realized that something had to be done to stop this chaos — but there just wasn't enough money to make a large prison. And so, we developed this."
Lois wiped her mouth off as Barry brought a small metal device out of his pocket. She had to squint to be able to see it, it was so small. Barry handed it to Lois, who looked at it closely.
"We place this device inside all of the inmates in Central City's maximum security prison," Tina said. "It goes inside their left ear."
"What does it do?" Clark asked, as the small device, smaller than even a hearing aid, was passed on to him.
"It keeps track of all the prisoners," Barry said. "If any criminal makes a break for it, this device will allow us to track them down."
Lois was not impressed. Still a bit miffed about being assigned to a case that was less then front page news, she said, "That sounds great for you, but I don't really think we'll need it here in Metropolis. We have Superman watching over us."
"And we have the Flash watching us," Tina commented. "But that doesn't mean he can take care of all the criminals twenty-four hours a day. Tell me, Ms. Lane, have any criminals ever managed to escape from the prison here?" She was now a bit annoyed, because Lois had basically just pooh-poohed the program she and Barry had developed together.
Lois had clear memories of several prisoners escaping from prison in the past few years; Myrtle Beech sprang immediately to mind. Rather then answering the question directly, she said, "The Flash? Oh yes, Central City's speedy super hero."
"That's right," Tina said coldly, sensing some tension between her and Lois.
The tension between the two women was suddenly broken as a phone in Barry's pocket began to ring. "Excuse me," he said softly, reaching for the compact cellular phone. "Hello?" he said.
With Tina and Barry's attention on his phone call, Clark leaned over to his wife. "Don't be so hard on them," he whispered. "I know you don't like this story but that doesn't mean you have to take it out on Dr. McGee."
"I see the way she's looking at you!" Lois hissed back. Clark said nothing, because he had noticed it himself. All the while Tina had been sitting across from Clark, her eyes had moved up and down his body, as though she was taking him in slowly. "She has the hots for you!" She continued to whisper, as near her Barry was still involved with a phone call.
"So she's looking at me.." Clark said. "She's engaged to Barry, and obviously very happy with him. What's the big deal?"
The big deal, as Lois knew very well, was that Lois was bulging from a pregnancy and Tina was not. Her eyes moved from her own stomach to Tina's, and she grimaced at the thought that Clark probably found Tina attractive. "Hold on to yourself, Lois," she thought to herself. She was smart enough to know that even a happily married man such as Clark probably found many women he saw attractive — but with the way she had been feeling about herself lately, this didn't make her feel very good at all.
Before Lois could say anything, Barry finished his phone call, putting his phone away. Tina sensed her fiancee's nervousness, noting his face had turned pale. "Is something wrong?" she asked Barry.
He nodded. "That was my father." Turning to Lois and Clark, he explained, "My father is a retired cop." Lois and Clark nodded as he turned back to Tina. "James Jesse broke out of prison a few hours ago." Tina gasped, putting her hand to her mouth in shock.
"James Jesse?" Lois said. "The name sounds familiar — but who is he?"
Tina looked to Lois and Clark. "A few years ago he terrorized Central City using the alias of 'the Trickster.'" she said. "He used pranks and tricks as his motif; for instance, he once dropped a bunch of marbles in the road to keep the Flash from following after him."
Clark shook his head, understanding. "We had someone like that in Metropolis — he called himself the Prankster."
Barry brightened as Clark mentioned the Prankster. "It's funny you should bring him up," he said seriously. "My father mentioned the Prankster — apparently James Jesse had some sort of obsession with him."
"Obsession?" Lois asked. "What kind?"
Tina, Clark, and Lois listened to the explanation. "When James Jesse escaped, they found an old newspaper inside his cell — and there was a story about him on the front page. He'd scribbled some notes about the Prankster on the back of the paper, and it had something to do with him believing the Prankster had stolen his M.O."
Tina shook her head in amazement. "James Jesse is a madman," she said. "If he does have some obsession against this Prankster fellow, I wouldn't be surprised if he came to Metropolis to find him."
"It looks like this will be our first chance to test out our tracking system on a real criminal," Barry said grimly, looking to Clark and Lois.
Jimmy Olsen sighed as the pencil he was using snapped. He was the only reporter left in the Daily Planet's office, everyone else having gone home hours ago. "This isn't fair," he thought to himself. "Why did I have to get stuck with this lousy story?" Reaching for another pencil, he continued to write his story on a dog show that he'd covered that afternoon.
As Jimmy wondered how to spell "schnauzer," being too lazy to look the word up in a dictionary, he looked up to see Perry walking out of his office. "Hiya, Chief," Jimmy said happily. "Heading home?"
"Yep," Perry said. "I can't stay here all night." He looked over at his staff writer, wondering what he was doing there so late. "Shouldn't you be about done with that story by now?"
Jimmy glanced down at his story. "I'm almost finished — I just hope I never have to go to another dog show again. Do you know I watched over two hundred dogs parade around this afternoon?"
Perry chuckled. "Well then, count your blessings — you don't have to cover any dogs tomorrow." Jimmy brightened. "Son, I think it's time you moved on to better and brighter things."
"An exclusive interview with the mayor?" Jimmy said. "An expose on City Hall?"
Perry shook his head. "The S.T.A.R. Labs annual conference," Perry said. "I expect you to be at the conference hall all day for the next four days, until it's finished."
Jimmy's smile fell as this news hit him. "Aw, man!" he said. "A science conference? Isn't there anything else I can do?"
Perry stared his friend and employee straight in the eye as he said, "Son, you've only been a staff writer here for a few weeks. You have to prove yourself before we give you the big stories." As Jimmy continued to frown at him, he added, "A good reporter can make the best out of these smaller stories." With Jimmy still not saying anything, he said, "Well, I'm out of here. See you tomorrow, Jimmy." Jimmy waved good-bye as Perry left.
Jimmy scowled, ripping up the story that lay in front of him. "A conference filled with a bunch of stuffy scientists," Jimmy said, a little angry. Frowning, he pulled out another sheet of paper and began to write again.
Barry held the door open as Tina, Lois, and Clark walked out. Before they'd left their conference table they had agreed to work together to figure things out about the Trickster and the Prankster. Now, as they stood in the parking lot, they realized they needed to split up.
"How about if I go with Tina and you go with Barry?" Clark suggested.
"You want to leave me?" Lois said.
Tina and Barry just stood back as Clark and Lois began to talk between them. "If we're going to cover this story, we need to cover all the angles." Lois's lips pursed at the thought that her husband would go off with the beautiful Dr. McGee. "You can go to the prison with Barry and talk to Kyle while I go with Tina and check out her tracking system."
Lois considered this for just a moment. Tina had told them the tracking system was locked up back at her hotel room, and the thought of Clark accompanying her back to her room made her ill to her stomach. "Hold on to yourself, Lois," she told herself. "Don't let your hormones get the better of you." She knew perfectly well that her raging hormones and insecurities as a pregnant woman were getting to her, and that things would be perfectly fine. "I'll meet back up with you later," Lois said.
Tina and Barry stood there as Clark leaned over to his wife and put his lips to hers, astonishing Lois as he took her into his arms. Finally pulling his mouth away from her, his mouth went to her ear, and he whispered, "I love you."
Lois smiled as she whispered back, "I love you, too." Now, as she watched Clark go off toward Tina's car, she felt much better about the situation.
Inside an abandoned warehouse in the middle of Hobbs Bay, James Jesse cackled with glee as he listened to his henchwoman tell him all the details about what she had done at the prison. "And then? And then?" James was acting like a schoolboy, his hands wrapped tightly in anticipation.
"And then the bomb went 'BOOM'!" she said excitedly, her hands moving wildly through the air.
"Is he dead?" James said, a smile crossing his face.
"Uh…" His henchwoman, Sydney Powers, shook her head slowly. "No, apparently he survived it just fine — except for a few cuts." She drew away from him, thinking he would explode at her.
Instead, James began to laugh again. "Wonderful!" he said happily.
"Wonderful?" Sydney said, perplexed.
"Wonderful!" James repeated. "Now, we get to torture the creep some more."
Sydney smiled, happy that her boss hadn't reprimanded her. "Didn't I do a good job breaking you out of prison?" she said, sliding onto his lap.
"Yes, yes," James said, distracted. "You did a fine job. Those acid- filled balloons were genius." He reached for a newspaper Sydney had brought for him, and started to flip through it, looking for something interesting.
"And didn't I do my job well with Kyle Griffin?" Sydney whispered, her mouth heading for James' lips.
"You did wonderfully," James said, not noticing as her hands reached inside his shirt, sliding up his chest. He continued to skim through the paper as though he was looking for something.
"I think it's time we took our relationship to a whole new level," breathed Sydney, as her mouth crept closer to James's.
Before she could kiss him, James leapt up, pushing his henchwoman off of his lap. "Look at this!" he screeched.
Picking herself up off of the floor, Sydney read the story slowly, not a very fast reader. "Dist — ing — uished — "
"This is what I get for hiring a henchwoman without a high school diploma," snapped James, ripping the paper away from her. "Barry Allen and Tina McGee are in town!"
"So?" Sydney asked, a dumb look on her face.
"They're the people who put me in prison in the first place!" James exploded, rising and bringing his hand up to strike Sydney's face. She jumped back, and James took control of himself again. "At least the Flash isn't here," he whispered under his breath. "Now THAT would screw up my plans."
Lois looked at the receptionist at the front desk of the prison, a look of disgust in her eyes. "I need to see Kyle Griffin," she repeated for the third time.
The secretary blew a bubble of bubble gum out of her mouth, then taking the pink gum back into her mouth. "Sorry," she said. "Visiting hours are over."
Lois sighed, ready to jump over the counter and tackle the lady, who looked young enough to be in high school. She looked at Barry, as if to say, "Take care of this."
Barry stepped forward, displaying his police badge. "This is official police business," he said, a semi-lie.
The receptionist perked up as she saw the badge, not looking close enough to see that it was a badge from Central City and not Metropolis. "Oh," she said. She picked up the phone next to her and began dialing. "Hi, Marge? Great. We have a police officer here…"
As she continued to talk, Lois turned to Barry. "Thanks for the assist," she said gratefully.
"No problem," Barry said.
They both looked back to the receptionist, who smiled back at them. "You can go in now," she said, blowing another bubble.
As Lois thanked her, the door to the main area of the prison opened, and a guard gestured for them to come in. Lois and Barry followed the guard down a long hallway.
As they walked along, Lois's heart began to pump loudly as she thought about the last time she'd seen Kyle Griffin. Twice he had terrorized her with his pranks, and both times she'd come very close to death. She didn't like the idea of facing him again — but she knew she had to do it.
"Knock on the door when you're ready to come out," the guard said, allowing Lois and Barry to enter a small room. As the two walked in, the guard closed the door, and Lois realized she was locked in with someone she despised.
"Lois!" Kyle said. Lois's mouth opened as she looked at him, as he sat in a chair waiting for her. She was shocked because he was weeping. As he saw Barry, though, he stopped crying long enough to ask, "Who's this? I thought you married Clark Kent. What happened?"
"This is Barry Allen," Lois explained. "He's a police officer."
"A police officer?" Kyle said. "Perfect! Then maybe you can protect me from this Trickster person." Barry opened his mouth to speak, but Kyle continued to blabber on, telling them about his near-death experience.
"How do you know it was the Trickster?" Barry asked, as Kyle finished his story.
"Because of a note I found," Kyle explained. "It next to the broken glass. It read, 'With all my love, the Trickster.'" He paused just long enough to take a breath, and then said, "So is there anything you can do to help me?"
Lois was quick to get to the point. "Why would we want to help you?" she asked. "You've done nothing for me in the past but make my life miserable!" She shuddered, remembering her past with him. Realizing she was being a bit harsh, she added, "I'm sure the prison here is doing everything they can to keep you safe."
Barry thought she was being too severe, but since he'd just met her a few hours ago, he didn't feel like he was in a position to complain. Lois walked back to the door of the room, knocking to be let out.
Clark sat on the edge of Tina and Barry's bed in the hotel room as Tina rummaged through her things in her luggage. "Here it is," she said at last, taking a small device that resembled a remote control out of her bag.
"This tracks down criminals?" Clark said. It wasn't much bigger than the bug that was placed inside the criminals' ears.
"This is it," Tina said, smiling as she handed it to him for inspection. He looked at it and then handed it back.
"What if this James Jesse took the bug out of his ear?" Clark asked.
Tina shook her head. "That's very unlikely," she said. "We used a special glue developed by S.T.A.R. Labs that's more powerful then any glue ever made before. Unless he has the solvent from S.T.A.R. Labs to take the glue off, it's stuck inside his ear for life."
Clark was impressed by this. He stood by as Tina began to fiddle with the device, preparing to start it up. Suddenly, his super hearing tuned in to something going on several miles away. Metropolis needed Superman now — which meant he had to get out of there as soon as possible.
"That should do it," Tina finished, pressing a button on the device. "And now that means…" She stopped speaking as she looked up and saw that Clark was gone. "Where could he have gone off to?" she wondered.
Superman flew through the air, heading for the parking lot of the Metropolis Penetentiary. Sydney was standing in the middle of the lot, with what appeared to be a toy gun in her hands. Clark had overheard the guards' shouting as they confronted the woman, who pointed the gun directly at Superman.
"Guns don't mean anything to me," Superman said with a sniff. "Especially not toy guns."
"I think this one will," Sydney said with a sneer. Pressing the trigger, Superman was stunned by the impact of a kryptonite ray, which came out at him. She had obviously come to Metropolis prepared, as this "toy gun" had enough kryptonite to put Clark six feet under.
A huge breeze whipped past the two of them, accompanied by a red blur — and Sydney screamed out as she was picked up, her gun being tossed aside. Clark looked up, seeing the woman tied up with rope and sitting on the ground.
But was most astonishing was seeing who was standing there. "So we meet at last," the man said, extending his hand as he greeted Superman. The man was dressed in red from head to toe, and Clark immediately recognized him as the Flash — the speediest superhero around, possibly even faster then himself.
"Thanks for the help," Clark said, shaking his hand. Looking at the Flash, he felt a strange sense, as though he knew him from somewhere.
"Any time," the Flash said. As the prison guards ran up to take care of a very shaken Sydney, he said, "Sorry to talk and run — but I need to get back to work. I'll be seeing you." Clark watched as the Flash began to run away, almost appearing to vanish as he ran at a speed rivaling Superman's.
Scratching his head, Clark flew back towards the hotel.
In the hallway of the prison, the warden confronted the head guard. "I know, I know," the guard said, a bit irritated. "Griffin is completely under control. There's no way he can get out of here."
"Do you know how bad we'll look if this Trickster fellow manages to get in here again?" the warden snapped. His job was on the line, and he knew it. If anything else went wrong with Kyle Griffin, he would be booted out of the prison, never working in any correctional facility again.
The guard just looked at the warden and walked off, shaking his head. The warden, a small man, just stood there as the tall guard walked off, his forehead red with anger. Then the warden turned and walked away, hoping that things would go all right from now on.
As he left the prison's main doors, he came upon Lois, who put her hand on his shoulder to stop him from going on. "Excuse me," she said quickly. "Have you seen a man named Barry Allen anywhere in there? He just seemed to vanish a few minutes ago…"
"No I haven't, ma'am," the warden said, walking on without stopping to look at Lois.
As he left the building, Lois's mouth curved into a frown. "'Ma'am'?" she said. "I'm not a ma'am!" But then her eyes dropped down to her protruding belly, and she sighed, realizing that now that she was a mother, she was "ma'am" to lots of people.
Before she could think of where else to look for Barry, the door opened again, and Barry walked through casually. He had a bag in hand, and as Lois watched he took out some red licorice and began chewing on a stick.
"Where have you been?" Lois said, her hands on her hips. "I've been looking all over for you!"
"Sorry," Barry said with a shrug. Needing an excuse to explain his sudden disappearance, he said, "I saw someone outside selling this and I just had to have some." He displayed several sticks of licorice towards her. "Want some?"
With licorice before her, Lois couldn't stay angry for long. "Thanks," she said, taking a stick and biting in. "This is delicious!" she said.
Before Barry could comment, both of them were stunned when they heard a loud BOOM! come from within the prison. The entire building shook as the sound of the explosion echoed through the penetentiary. "What was that?" Barry said. They both looked to the reception desk at the same time, but the receptionist had left.
"Let's go find out," Lois suggested, walking to the door to the back part of the prison. Before she could walk through the door, a guard flung the door open and stood in the doorway with a gun cocked at his side.
"All visitors need to leave the building," he said mechanically.
"Has there been a breakout?" Lois asked.
The guard struggled with what to say. "Uh…not exactly."
"Someone broke into the prison just now — and took *out* one of the inmates."
"Kyle Griffin," Lois and Barry said in unison, and the guard nodded.
"There's one strange thing, though," the guard added. "Kyle didn't look too happy to be leaving — in fact, from what I saw, he was pretty angry."
"Let go of me!" Kyle shouted, shoving James Jesse across the hot-air balloon they were riding in.
"I see you're not very touchy-feely," James said with a grin, as he reached out to stop himself from falling over the edge of the balloon.
"What do you think you're doing?" Kyle demanded to know. "You just broke me out of prison!"
"Don't you think I know that?" James snapped back. He had a huge grin on his face, looking like he'd just won the lottery. "Do you *really* think I would have just accidentally dropped a bomb above your cell and then taken you on a whim? I have one word for you: 'pre-med-i-ta-ted.' Now repeat that with me. Premed — "
"Are you mad?" exclaimed Kyle. "Now take me back to the prison right now!" It wasn't that he enjoyed being there, but he'd worked for so long to become a model prisoner, and leaving the prison like this wasn't going to help his image. He'd changed his wicked ways, and now James was screwing up his plans.
"Just sit back and enjoy the ride," James said, gesturing out into the open expanse. "I've taken care of this town's super-dud, Superman, so he won't be out looking for us for now."
Kyle said nothing, but instead took a step forward, coming closer to the edge of the basket he was in. He glanced over the side, seeing he was high above the ground. Everything below him seemed so tiny.
"I'm…afraid..of heights…" Kyle managed to say, before he put his head over the edge to throw up.
James waved one finger at Kyle. "What kind of criminal do you think you are, tossing your cookies like that? No wonder Superman managed to capture you twice."
Kyle hated being in the air like this, and right now he hated James almost as much. Tears came to his eyes as he said, "I'm not a criminal anymore! I've changed my ways! And what is this for? Are you mad?"
James's normally goofy grin suddenly changed as a look of pure evil crossed his face. He flung himself onto Kyle suddenly, his hands around the Prankster's throat. "No one *ever* calls me mad!" James bellowed. "Do you understand that?"
With Kyle unable to speak with James's hands around his throat, James pushed him over the edge of the hot-air balloon, and Kyle dangled out over the edge. Looking back he could see the ground below him, and he felt more of his body being pushed out.
Finally pulling Kyle back in, James tossed him aside, and the tired inmate fell to the floor of the basket, out of breath. "I understand," Kyle whispered.
"Now isn't that better?" the Trickster said. As Kyle blinked, the look of anger on James's face suddenly vanished, replaced by the goofy grin once again. It was amazing, how quickly the look could change.
"So why are you doing this?" Kyle asked at last, after a moment of silence between them.
James stared Kyle in the eyes, and at the same time he brought out an old newspaper from his pocket. Unfolding it, he showed it to Kyle, who read the headline to himself. "I don't understand," Kyle said. The article was about James being caught by the Central City police.
"Read it a bit more carefully, won't you?" burst out James. "They called me the Trickster… because of the tricks I used to play on the police."
"So?" Kyle asked, still not understanding.
James sighed. "I'm the *Trickster. You're the *Prankster*." He looked at Kyle again, but the Prankster still didn't understand. "You stole my modus operandi — *I'm* the one who thought up the idea of playing tricks and pranks on people, not you!"
Kyle was at a loss for words. "That's why you kidnapped me? Because you thought I was some sort of copy cat? I had no id — "
Kyle was interrupted as James began to talk to himself, as he looked out of the basket. "Isn't it a beautiful evening?" He stuck his hand out of the basket and felt the wind on his shirt sleeve. "You know what we should be doing? Flying a kite. Doesn't that sound like a great idea?" And before Kyle could say anything, James began to sing at the top of his lungs. "Let's go fly a kite! Up where the air is light! Let's go fly a kite and we'll send..it..soaring…"
Kyle shook his head. He had no doubts that he was being held captive by a mad man; who else would start singing songs from "Mary Poppins" in this situation but someone who belonged in an institution? He looked from James to the edge of the basket, and then back to James. "Maybe I should just end my misery and jump over," Kyle thought to himself.
Tina pressed another button on the tracking device, trying to get it to work. "Come on," she said, cursing quietly under her breath. No matter what she did, though, all the device did was let out a small whirring noise. Clark walked in to the room quietly, closing the door behind him. Tina looked up at him. "Sorry about that," Clark said. "I had to — run an errand."
"No bother," Tina said with a frown. "I can't get this thing to work anyway."
Clark looked at the device and quickly X-rayed the machine, seeing what the problem was. "Let me take a look at it," he said. "I'm pretty good with these kinds of things."
Tina shrugged and handed it to Clark. "If you break it, I'm going to…" Clark pressed a small button on the side, then pressed another button on the bottom. Finally, he slammed the device against his right leg. Tina winced. "Hey!" she exclaimed.
"There you go," Clark said, handing it back. "I think it should work now."
Tina looked at the device suspiciously, but pressed the power button. It came to life, a green light turning on. "How did you know how to do that?" Before Clark could think of an excuse, she pressed several buttons on the side. "I think something's coming in," she said. "We should know where James is any minute now…"
Still high above Metropolis, Kyle shivered in the cold of the early evening as the hot air balloon floated along. James was humming a tune, and Kyle had managed to block the noise out.
However, he wasn't able to block out the small beeping noise that was coming from behind him. Turning around to see what was going on, he heard the "Beep, beep," coming from James. "What is that?" Kyle asked, pointing to James's ear.
"It's the blasted tracker," James snapped, remembering having it attached to his ear months before. He reached into the pocket of his purple and green suit, looking for something particular. "Hold this," James said, handing Kyle a Rubik's cube. James kept pulling more and more stuff out of his pockets, handing all of it to Kyle, until soon Kyle's hands were overflowing.
"Ah!" James said, smiling as he pulled out a small knife. "I *knew* I had this somewhere." Winking, he said, "I never throw anything away." He lifted up the knife to his ear.
"What do you think you're doing?" Kyle cried in alarm as James brought the knife to his flesh.
James shrugged. "Cutting this off. It's the only way."
"But that's cra — " Kyle started to say. He stopped, remembering James didn't like being called crazy. Then, he gasped as James slashed the knife at his ear. Kyle felt sick again, and he threw up again, this time just barely making it over the side of the balloon.
"All done!" James said cheerfully. "Hand me that napkin, will you?" Kyle did as he was told.
Still humming to himself, James wrapped the napkin around where his ear had just been. Then he turned to the side of the basket, and threw his ear out, watching as it and the tracker attached to it fell to the ground far below them.
Lois settled into Clark's arms, hoping that sleep would come to her soon. They were back at home, and Barry and Tina had gone off to their hotel room. Wrapped in Clark's arms, Lois whispered the obvious: "The Trickster is out there somewhere with Kyle."
Clark nodded. "I know." After learning about the prison escape, he had searched everywhere for the two, but to no avail. They had also been discouraged when the tracking device had brought them to downtown Metropolis — and they'd found James's ear in an alley.
With all the problems they'd had, Lois needed to change the subject, and she said the first thing that came to her mind. Looking at her husband, she asked him, "Are you attracted to Tina?"
Clark was taken aback at the question. "I — I — " he started to say.
Lois pulled away from him. "I know that guys look at other women — and that it's a normal guy thing — and I know that I'm probably not that attractive, seeing as how much I've ballooned these past few weeks, and how by next month I'll probably look like a beached whale, but it's just that I — "
"Whoa!" Clark said with a smile. He kissed Lois's cheek tenderly. "Slow down." He closed his eyes for a brief moment, thinking about how he could best explain this. Finally, he looked at Lois straight in the eyes, and whispered, "Tina is an attractive woman," he said. "But you are — "
"A fat, pregnant woman," Lois said quietly, finishing his sentence.
Clark shook his head. "You are the mother of my child," he said sweetly. "And most importantly, the woman I love and want to spend the rest of my life with." He sighed. "Lois, you're everything I could ever want in a woman, and that doesn't change because you're pregnant; if anything, it's made me feel closer to you. Lois… you are beautiful to me. Pregnant, or not pregnant. I love you."
Lois put one hand to her eye, trying to control herself and keep from crying. "Oh Clark," she said. "I've — I've been pretty stupid lately, haven't I?" she asked.
"Not stupid," Clark said with a smile. "Just pregnant." Lois smiled too. "I know how hard that must be — well, I don't mean I know from experience, but I think I can guess."
Lois fell back into Clark's arms, and he pulled the bedcovers over both of them. As she just relaxed in his presence he said, "You know, it's funny," he said. "This afternoon when I saw you and Barry together, I thought you two would make a good couple."
"What?" Lois exclaimed.
Clark quickly explained himself. "Well, both of you were shoveling that food in your mouths," Clark said with a grin. "The two of you both seem to like food a lot."
Lois giggled, rising off of Clark's chest. She took a pillow and gently smacked it on Clark's stomach.
"Gonna play rough, huh?" Clark said.
Lois shook her head. "I don't think my pillow is going to do any damage against the Man of Steel."
As Clark opened his mouth to say something, Lois dropped her hand on his leg, and he stopped what he was doing, enjoying it as her hand moved further down his body. "Let's forget about everything else for tonight," Lois whispered. "And concentrate on us."
Clark had no objections to this. As Lois's lips touched his, both of them settled back on their bed, enjoying each other's company.
Barry and Tina were also both together in bed, just as discouraged as Lois and Clark that they hadn't caught James. "Who would have thought that he would have the guts to cut his own ear off?" Tina said as she put on her robe.
Barry knew better than to respond. He just sat down on the hotel room bed, taking off his shoes and socks as he got ready to go to sleep.
"All those months we worked on the tracking device were for nothing," Tina said with a sigh, as both of them got into bed together.
Barry disagreed. "That's not true, hon. I mean, come on — how many criminals are going to go so far as to cut off their own ears to escape imprisonment? You know the Trickster is a nut."
Tina nodded. "I know — which means I'm even more worried about what else he might have up his sleeve. There's nothing he wouldn't do to get what he wants."
"The question is," Barry said, "now that he has Kyle Griffin in his clutches — what does he go after next?"
The next morning, Jimmy was up and out of his bed at the crack of dawn but not very happy about it. As he bought coffee from a vendor on Tamara Jacobs Street, he yawned as he walked to his desk.
But he had a responsibility to cover the S.T.A.R. Labs conference, even though the thought of sitting through several boring scientific seminars about things he couldn't care less about made him want to go back to bed. "Why can't I cover something big and scandalous?" he moaned to himself, as he walked towards the conference center. "Man, this is going to be the dullest ever!"
Jimmy, however, was very wrong about that — because this science conference was going to be like none other.
As the sun came up over Metropolis, Barry and Tina prepared for a brand new day. Getting on their clothes, Tina asked, "What happened last night. I woke up and you were gone. Where were you?"
Barry smiled. "I woke up and decided to take a jog." Tina also smiled, the two of them sharing a smile as both of them thought about Barry's alter ego, the Flash. It had been nearly four years since the accident, which gave Barry the powers to run at super speed. His life had changed so much since then — his growing relationship with Tina being the biggest change. Their relationship had begun with her helping him investigate his powers — and over the years they had gradually become closer until finally she had asked him to marry her.
"I feel like taking a little run now, actually," Barry said. "Do you mind?" Tina shook her head. Barry kissed his fiancee on the cheek. "I promise I'll make it to the seminar you're hosting; I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"You'd better…" Tina began. Before she could finish her sentence, Barry had changed into the red costume and was out the door, no more then a red blur to Tina. "I HATE when he does that!" Tina said to herself, chuckling.
Lois and Clark hurried up the street. They had arranged to meet Barry and Tina a few minutes before the seminar, and they weren't about to be late. "I met the Flash yesterday," Clark said, walking along.
"Oh yeah?" Lois said. She smiled. "So much for my theory that he was an urban legend. But Batman — I know he doesn't exist."
"Is that right?" Clark said, grinning. Before Lois could respond, they both saw Tina walking toward them without Barry.
"Barry decided to take a jog this morning before the seminar," Tina explained as she caught up with them.
"Will he be to the conference hall in time?" Lois asked.
"Oh, yes," Tina said. "Barry — can be quite quick when he wants to." Her eyes sparkled as though she'd just said something funny.
As Clark and Lois looked at her curiously, she quickly made a change in subject. "So have you heard anything on the Trickster?" she asked.
Clark shook his head. "He and the Prankster are still nowhere to be found; even Superman has been unable to find them."
They had been walking along the street, and now they came to the entrance of the conference hall. As Clark opened the door for the two ladies, they all heard someone huffing and puffing from behind them. Turning, they saw Barry running their way, as though he was out of breath.
"There you are!" Tina said, kissing her fiancee. "Did you have a nice run?"
"Oh, yes," Barry said.
Lois, always observant, casually mentioned, "Taking it easy today, huh? You didn't even break a sweat."
Tina and Barry's eyes met, both of them worried that his secret identity was in danger of being exposed. "He has faulty sweat glands," Tina blurted out at last.
Clark and Lois accepted this explanation as they all walked into the conference room where Tina would be giving her talk. It was still early, but Clark saw a familiar face towards the front. "Jimmy!" he called out.
"CK!" Jimmy said, brightening as he saw Clark and Lois walking his way.
Clark and Lois introduced him to Barry and Tina and then Lois asked, "So what are you doing here?"
Jimmy sighed. "Perry assigned me to cover the seminars," he said, obviously bored. "Just what I need, to have to listen to some dull geeky scientist all day."
"Tina here is the first presenter," Barry interrupted, grinning at Jimmy.
Jimmy's face turned red. "I didn't mean — that is, I never meant — "
"Apology accepted," Tina said, smiling. As more people made their way into the auditorium, she said, "If you'll excuse me, I really need to make sure things are ready for this presentation." She walked toward the front stage, and Jimmy left as well, going back to his seat. Barry, Lois, and Clark took seats near the back of the room.
"So what is this talk on?" Lois asked Barry, trying to make conversation.
"The usage of negative ionic particles in thermo-nuclear inversion theory," Barry said, the scientific words rolling off his tongue easily.
"Ah," Clark said, not sure what to say. He had no idea what that was. Lois and Clark looked at each other, both realizing they were bound to be bored for the next hour or so.
But they were wrong; the Trickster was going to make this conference something neither of them would ever forget.
Outside the conference hall, James stood next to Kyle, a gun in his pocket as he looked at his captive. "Don't make any funny moves or it's bye-bye for you," James promised him. "Capeesh?"
Kyle just nodded. "What are we going to do anyway?"
Kyle shivered as James's face lit up with a huge grin. "It's not what *we* are going to do," he said. "It's what you're going to do." James pulled a small device from one of his pockets. Kyle was constantly amazed by how much James managed to keep in his pockets, but now was not the time for him to say something about that.
James fastened the black device onto Kyle's shirt. "Here's a gun," he said, handing Kyle a gun. "It's unloaded, of course — like I'd give you a loaded weapon! But I want you to go inside and brandish it around, wave it back and forth like you're going to shoot somebody."
"And then?" Kyle asked, gulping.
"That's for me to know and for you to find out," James said. He pressed a red button on the device placed on Kyle, and then pushed his captive toward the door. "Try anything funny and I'll — well, just don't try anything funny."
With his knees knocking, Kyle walked to the door of the auditorium, wondering what was in store for him.
"So as I hope I've shown, negative ionic particles may one day prove to be of great use in…" Tina droned on. In the audience, Clark yawned, trying not to let Barry see him. Lois was practically drifting off to sleep as she tried to stay awake.
Jimmy wasn't having any more luck then Clark and Lois were. "I should get overtime for this," he grumbled to himself. His pencil broke suddenly, and without anything to write with, he would never be able to write the story Perry wanted from him. Jimmy was still new to reporting and he didn't remember the proven instinct to always have extra writing utencils. Looking around nervously, Jimmy stood up from his chair, making his way down the aisle to the back of the room.
As he tried to leave the room, he was pushed aside by someone coming into the hall. "Hey!" Jimmy said. "Watch where you're going!"
The man entering swirled around, sticking the gun into Jimmy's face. "You want to repeat that?" he asked.
"N..no," Jimmy stammered. He tried backing into the door, but Kyle put his hand on the door, stopping him from leaving.
Everyone's attention had been on Tina, but then Kyle shouted, "Attention everyone! Stay where you are — I have a gun!"
Clark and Lois recognized the voice immediately. "It's Kyle," Clark whispered, and as they turned to look, they saw he was alone.
Jimmy yelped and dove for an empty seat, trying to get out of the gunman's way. Kyle's hand shook as he waved the gun in the air. "Umm…give me all your money!" he finally said. "That's right, give it all to me!" In truth, Kyle was uneasy with what he was doing. He'd tried so hard these past few years to become a better person, and acting like a criminal again didn't come easy to him.
"He seems nervous," Lois commented quietly, and her husband nodded. "Don't you think so, Bar — " As she turned to speak to Barry, she saw he was gone from the seat. "Barry?" she said a bit louder.
This caught Kyle's attention. He rushed toward Lois and Clark, the gun still pointed. "So we meet again," Kyle said, placing the gun on Lois's temple. "Did you miss me, Lois?"
Neither Lois or Clark said anything as Kyle cocked the gun. Lois closed her eyes, praying that Clark could get her out of this somehow.
"Why is he so nervous?" Clark thought to himself. His eyes focused in on the black device on the front of Kyle's shirt. Taking a closer look with his x- ray vision, Clark saw a very good reason for the criminal to be nervous.
Kyle was wearing a bomb, a bomb that was set to go off in just a few minutes. And in that instant, Clark saw what the Trickster's plan was. "He must have somehow found out that Barry and Tina were in town," he thought to himself. "He's going to kill them both — and Kyle too."
Clark's super hearing picked up the sound of the ticking bomb, and he knew there were only a few moments to spare. The problem was, how was he going to get them out of the jam? And where was Barry?
Kyle, too nervous to stand near Lois and Clark any longer, walked to the front of the room. As he walked toward Tina, she looked out into the audience, and saw that Barry was missing. "Okay," she whispered to herself. "Do your stuff, Barry."
As soon as she said those words, the back door of the auditorium came open, and a flash of red sped into the room. Notebooks were tossed aside by the sudden wind as the Flash made his way into the room. Kyle's hand shook as the Flash came toward him. Clark's whole body tensed. If the Flash touched Kyle, the bomb would go off — and everyone, except Superman, would die.
"Stop!" Clark shouted, standing up suddenly. "He has a bomb!"
Lois's eyebrows lifted as she looked at her husband. As Clark saw everyone else was looking his way, wondering how he knew that, he said, "Um, I have really good hearing."
The Flash had stopped in his tracks, inches from Kyle. Not knowing what to think now, and unsure if he could move fast enough to disarm Kyle without the bomb exploding right then and there, Barry just stood there, as Kyle dropped the gun to the floor. "A bomb?" Kyle whispered. "I have a BOMB on me?"
"That's right," came a voice from behind them. Everyone's eyes turned to see James walking inside, a grin on his face. "I didn't want to spoil the surprise," James said to Kyle, as he walked closer towards the front. Then, to the superhero dressed in red, he added, "The bomb is set to go off in three minutes. But I just HAD to say good-bye to you, old pal, before everything ended."
"Don't you think I'm a bit faster then your bomb is?" Barry asked.
James began to laugh hysterically. "Come *on*, Flashie-poo! I'm *much* smarter then I was before! This bomb is state-of-the-art, and one small touch will cause it to self destruct, sending everyone in here to their deaths."
"Shouldn't you be on your way then?" Barry asked, trying to think of something he could do.
"Not before I do this," James said, reaching in to his left pocket and pressing a small remote control button.
Kyle screamed out in terror as the black device on the front of his shirt beeped twice. He nearly fainted to the floor as a pink gas came out of the black device. "Laughing gas," James said with a giggle. "The least I can do is make sure you all die a happy death."
In the audience, the scientists began to respond as the gas reached them. At first people just giggled, the effects of the drug slowly working their way into their system. With Lois and Clark leaned down in their seats, hands over their mouths, they watched as everyone there began to laugh loudly. In the back, Jimmy laughed so hard he began rolling in the aisles, tears of laughter streaming down his cheeks.
The Flash managed to avoid the laughing gas by moving around the room at super speed, the gas not having a chance to reach him. Their heads close to the ground, Lois and Clark confided in one another.
"Isn't there something you can do?" Lois whispered to Clark.
He nodded. Holding his hands over his mouth, Clark sat back up, and aimed his heat vision at the device on the front of Kyle's shirt. Lois's hand went to her mouth as she saw what he was doing, but she trusted him enough to do what he thought was right.
Kyle's device began to beep and hiss. "What's happening?" James said, moving away from Kyle. He looked at his wristwatch. "The bomb's not set to go off for another minute." He started for the exit, and at that moment the Flash made his move.
It was all over in less then three seconds. The Flash moved at super- speed, first heading for the bomb strapped to Kyle's chest. As the device continued to beep, Barry reached for the device and moved as quickly as possible, taking the bomb off of Kyle and out the door. Moments later the room shook as the bomb exploded outside in an alley. The Flash was back in the room in moments, picked up James, his hand firmly knocking James upside the head.
Everyone clapped as the Flash had managed to save them all from death. "How did you know the Flash could move that fast?" Lois whispered to her husband.
Clark shrugged. "I didn't — but I knew that unless I made the Flash move, we were all done for."
Lois smiled as everyone in the room, the laughing gas beginning to wear off, began to applaud the Flash. And just as quickly as he had entered the room, the Flash left, nothing but a red blur as he exited the building, leaving a confused James on the floor, and Kyle cowering in one corner.
As Lois and Clark got up to go make a call to the police, Lois leaned over to her husband. "How do you feel about letting the Flash take the credit for something you did?" she whispered in his ear.
"I'm just glad we made it through," Clark whispered back. But looking around the room, he asked, "Where did Barry manage to get off to anyways?"
An hour later, as Barry, Tina, Lois, Clark, and Jimmy settled down for a S.T.A.R. Labs-sponsored lunch, Lois was quick to bring up Barry's mysterious disappearance. "Just where did you run off to before the trouble started?" she asked him suspiciously.
"The bathroom," Barry said. "Didn't you see me leave?"
Lois whispered into Clark's ear. "If I didn't know better I'd say he was the Flash," she said to him. "But no super hero could eat as much as him! Unless he's Kryptonian-born, of course."
After the waiter took their orders, Jimmy brought up some good news. "My story on the Trickster is going to be on the front page," he said, smiling.
"Congratulations, Jimmy," Lois said.
"So I guess the conference wasn't such a waste after all, hmm?" Clark added.
Jimmy nodded. "I guess you really can find a good story anywhere."
Tina excused herself from the table to go the restroom. On the way back, she passed by Dr. Klein, who stopped her. "That was a wonderful talk," Dr. Klein said. "I'm just sorry it had to be interrupted by — that disturbance."
"I'm glad you enjoyed it," Tina said. "Metropolis is definitely… interesting. Barry and I will have to come back someday." Then, a sudden thought coming over her, she leaned in and asked Dr. Klein, "You know, that makes me somewhat curious. I have a question about Superman — seeing as how I've heard how the two of you are so close. Does Superman have a secret identity?"
Dr. Klein just looked at her puzzled. Smiling, Tina said good-bye, walking back to the table.