By Anne Spear <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted August 1999
Summary: Clark gets a surprise visitor from out of town — way, way out of town — who helps Lois, Clark and Jimmy crack a case involving a dangerous new drug.
This story takes place somewhere between "Battleground: Earth" and "Swear to God, This Time We're Not Kidding".
I'd like to thank my editors, Emily at the archive and Rachel from the onelist.
Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet, took a partial step out of his office and glanced around the newsroom. His gaze stopped as he saw his two star reporters, Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Lois was sitting at her desk and Clark was leaning on the edge of it, sipping from his coffee cup and listening to Lois.
"Lois, Clark," White bellowed. "I need your follow up on Superman's return from New Krypton if we're going to make the evening edition!"
They answered with a chorus of "Right away, Chief," and "We're on it, Chief," as Clark went to stand behind Lois in order to get a better view of her computer screen.
After Perry had gone back to work, Lois noticed Clark looking away. "What is it?" she asked him.
"A small meteor. It's headed for the city. I'd better …" and he used the hand signal which had come to mean fly, to them.
"Go," she answered, "I'll cover for you."
Minutes later, Superman was seen soaring over the city. He approached the meteor, determined to smash it into smaller pieces. As it got closer, he realized that it wasn't a rock at all, but a small space craft. It was difficult to see details due to the heat and friction caused by the Earth's atmosphere. He angled himself under the ship's path and deflected it away from downtown. With the craft above him, he held the bottom of it and flew to an empty lot on the outskirts of the city. A fence had just been added to this lot, so Superman knew he'd have some privacy to find out what was in this thing.
Once he'd landed, he took a step back and blew on it with his "superbreath" to cool it down. Now that he could see it clearly, he realized that the shape was exactly like the one which originally brought him to Earth when he was a baby. The only difference was the size. This one was large enough for a full grown man to stretch out. Before he had a chance to x-ray the ship, he heard a click, and the top started to rise. Just like his ship, it was hinged in the rear and opened like the hood of a car.
As the door lifted, he saw a girl asleep inside. She was around twenty years old and had long blonde hair which fell about her shoulders in waves. She was dressed in a black jumpsuit and long open vest, very similar to the clothes that Zara usually wore, but instead of a red collar and front stripes, this vest had an "S-shield" on the front and off to the left side. It was exactly like Superman's shield, red with a gold background, but a smaller version. As the girl opened her eyes and looked around, Superman stepped forward to help her out. As soon as she saw him, she broke out in a huge grin.
"Kal-El? I was hoping I would find you right away!"
"Who are you?" Superman asked her. "Are you from New Krypton?"
"Yes," she answered, still smiling. "I'm Kara. Didn't Lady Zara tell you about me?"
"No, she didn't mention anyone to me. Why? Do you know me?"
"No, not personally, but Lady Zara has told me a lot about you. I'm your … oh, what is that word? Our fathers were brothers …"
"Cousin?" Superman supplied.
"Yes! That's it! I'm your cousin!"
Superman was confused. "But I thought my entire family died on Krypton."
"No. My father, Nim-El, had not told his family that he decided to go with the New Krypton expedition. He didn't think they would approve. So when Jor-El sent you to Earth, he didn't know."
"But why are you here?"
"When we found out that you were alive, I wanted to meet you. But I was not allowed to travel with the council."
"I'm not old enough. According to Kryptonian tradition, a child comes of age at 27."
"Then why did you come alone?"
"After Lady Zara and Lt. Ching left to find you, Lord Nor sent men to kill my family. I was forced to watch from a hiding place. If they had found me, I'd be dead, too. Nor and his troops departed for Earth shortly after. I survived on my own, waiting for Lady Zara to return with you. I just knew that you would take care of me."
"Wait a minute," Superman interrupted her story. "I hear people coming to see what landed. We'd better get out of here before they arrive. And I'll hide this ship, for now." With that, he walked over to the back of the lot, near the fence and began to spin at super speed, like a drill, until he was about eight feet down. He flew out of the hole and back to the ship, lifted it and dropped it into the hole, then buried it just as quickly. He came back to stand next to Kara.
"Ready?" he asked. She nodded, so he scooped her up and flew toward the city. Once they were above the alley behind Clark's apartment, he flew through the window at super speed so that no one would see. Inside, he put Kara back on her feet in the living room.
"Amazing. Will I be able to fly like that, too?" Kara asked.
"By tomorrow, you'll have absorbed enough of Earth's yellow sun to have the same abilities that I have," Superman answered. "Stay here; I'll be right back." With a gust of speed, Superman was gone and Clark was back with a box which he put on the couch. "There are clothes in here that should fit you. You shouldn't let anyone see you in Kryptonian clothes. Since Nor tried to take over, New Kryptonians are not the most well-liked people around."
"I understand," she answered. "As I said, Lady Zara told me all about the trip."
"I really want to hear the rest of your story," Clark told her, "but I need to get back to work."
Kara looked disappointed. "Can't I come, too? I want to know all about your life!"
"Not today," Clark answered. "I have to let Lois know about you before she sees you."
"She doesn't like New Kryptonians, either?"
"From her point of view, I can't blame her. One day, we're planning our wedding, and, the next, Zara and Ching arrive and convince me to go back with them. Then, Nor nearly has me executed because of my feelings for Lois. The whole fiasco was very difficult for her," Clark explained.
"I understand," Kara agreed. "I'll stay here until you come back."
"Good. Feel free to watch TV or something. There's plenty of snacks in the kitchen and sodas in the fridge. I shouldn't be too late."
Back at the Daily Planet, Lois was still at her desk, typing at her computer. The phone rang and she answered it on the first ring.
"Yeah, Mike. How's it going?
"OK, where and when can I meet you?
"OK, OK. Yeah, I know where that is. Right, see you then."
As she grabbed her purse and quickly saved the story she was working on, she heard the elevator open. She started heading up the ramp to the elevators and saw Clark coming out of one, carrying two coffee cups.
"Hi. I brought you a latte," Clark said, smiling when he saw Lois approach.
"Great," she said, reaching for the cup. "I'll drink it on the way. C'mon." And she got into the open elevator.
Clark followed just as the doors were closing. "On the way?" he asked.
"I just got a call from 'Big Mike.' He says he has a hot tip for us. We're meeting him in twenty minutes on Essex Street in Hobbs Bay. Oh, how did it go with the meteor? You were gone longer than I expected. Anything interesting to 'report?'"
"Well," Clark started, "yes and no. It turns out, it wasn't even a meteor …"
As the elevator doors opened and they headed through the lobby and out onto the street to get a cab, Clark proceeded to fill Lois in on the entire story, or as much of it as he knew, about Kara.
"What is it with women's names on Krypton?" Lois asked when Clark was finished. "Why do they all rhyme?"
"I don't know, but you do have a point," Clark agreed.
The cab stopped near Essex Street and Clark paid the driver while Lois stepped out. Clark got out and they started down Essex. At the corner of Dover Drive, they could see "Big Mike," already waiting for them. Contrary to his nickname, Mike was only 5'7". Lois and Mike went to college together, so she knew that he was in his late twenties, but he still looked like he was eighteen years old.
"Mike," Lois greeted him with a smile, "it's been a while. What have you been up to?"
"Oh, you know," he answered, "this and that. Mostly working. But as soon as I read the article you wrote about the new designer drug, I knew you'd want to know what I overheard."
"You mean 'Rapture?'" Clark asked. Mike nodded. "That stuff is suddenly all over the city and the police have no clue how it's being distributed."
"That's the stuff," Mike agreed. "I was having lunch in the Student Center at Met U when I heard two guys discussing earning some extra money. One of them was trying to get his buddy to join him in finding out more about selling this stuff. Apparently, it's made by a chemistry major, right there in the lab after hours, and then he recruits other students to sell it."
Lois refused to believe this. "That can't be. Why haven't the police figured this out yet?"
"Rumor has it that the sellers only work for him for one week, that's why the cops don't get to know any one person."
"One week?" Lois questioned. "Besides the chemist, how can anyone make money THAT way?"
"According to this guy I heard, the stuff is so much in demand that a dealer can make anywhere up to two thou' in a week," Mike explained.
"Two thousand dollars?" Lois exclaimed. "That's not spending money, that's tuition!"
"I know," Mike agreed. "I was almost tempted myself, but after what happened to my sister when she was hooked …"
"I remember," Lois sympathized.
"Did you get the name of the chemist or either of the guys discussing him?" Clark asked.
"No," Mike admitted. "All I heard was that they would be meeting tomorrow night in front of the Science Building at 9:00."
"That's great," Lois said. "Thanks for the tip, Mike."
"I just hope it helps to put this guy away. Anyone that is willing to mess up others like that should get everything he deserves," Mike answered as he turned and started down Dover Drive. Lois and Clark turned in the other direction and headed back down Essex Street.
Once they were inside another cab and on their way back to the Planet, Lois announced that she and Clark would have to stake out the Science Building to find these guys.
"No," Clark said, "I think you'd better let 'Superman' handle this."
"That's ridiculous," Lois exclaimed. "I was doing stakeouts and undercover work long before 'Superman' ever showed up!"
"Exactly my point," Clark explained. "You wouldn't really blend in at college."
"Now you're saying I'm old?!"
"No," Clark defended himself, "not OLD. Just not a college kid."
"And you think 'Superman' would fit in any better?"
"I think he wouldn't even need to be seen. He could stay in the air until he saw or heard where the lab is located, then take care of everything."
"I hate it when you make sense," Lois pouted.
"Well, whatever we do, we don't have to worry about it until tomorrow," Clark pointed out. "Why don't you come home with me tonight, and I'll make dinner."
"And I get to meet your new family," Lois added with sarcasm.
"Oh, come on, Lois, give her a chance. She's just a kid and she had nothing to do with that whole fiasco. If anything, she must hate Nor as much as we do because he had her parents killed."
"I know," Lois gave in. "I'm sure she's very sweet. I just can't help wondering what she's after from you."
"Why must everyone be out to get something?" Clark asked. "She's an orphan and she wanted to meet the only family that she has left!"
"I'm sorry," Lois apologized. "I guess I'm just too cynical for my own good."
"It's okay," he answered, "It's one of the things that makes you a good investigative reporter."
"And it's your trust in humanity that makes you a good hero."
By now, they were just getting out of the elevator in the newsroom. Lois went straight to her desk, remembering the article she'd saved earlier. As she entered her password and brought up the story, Clark wandered over toward her desk, while watching one of the televisions that are always on in the newsroom. This one was showing a forest fire in Texas. Before he could say anything, Lois answered his look.
"Go on. It's almost 5:00 anyway. I'll finish this story and meet you at your apartment."
Clark leaned in to give her a quick kiss. "Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?" he asked her.
"Yes," she answered, "but I love hearing it over and over and over again." She gave him a kiss in between each "over".
It took Lois longer to finish the story than she originally thought it would, mostly because she kept eyeing the television sets, looking for any word that Superman had finished putting out those fires. Finally, during the local six o'clock news, there was a two minute piece about the fires being all out, thanks to Superman. She had just e-mailed the story to Perry, so she thought the timing had worked out perfectly. <By the time he flies back from Texas, I should be just getting out of the cab.>
Outside of Clark's apartment, Lois paid the driver and got out of the cab. As she was searching her purse for her copy of his key, she heard a *whoosh* and was pleased to see Clark saunter out of the alley.
"Hi," she called and waved to him.
As he got closer to her, he explained, "I saw you from the air and decided to meet you out here."
"I'm glad you did," she answered. "I'm not sure if I have my key to your apartment with me. I really have to remember to put that on my key ring …"
Clark just grinned and shook his head as he got his keys out of his pocket. He opened the front door and stepped aside to let Lois enter first. What she saw nearly sent her into a faint.
Sitting on the couch was a pretty young woman with straight, shoulder-length brown hair. She was watching television and eating red licorice. As soon as she heard the door open, she stood up and turned to face them. What really shocked Lois were the clothes she was wearing. She wore a powder blue satin mini skirt with matching jacket and pastel striped shirt with white stockings and shoes.
"Where did THAT come from?" Lois burst out.
"What?" Clark asked.
"That outfit?" she answered. "Where did she get it?"
"I gave it to her. Why? What's wrong with it?"
"That's the same thing the clone was wearing when she tried to kill me!" Lois was close to tears. "I can't believe you've kept HER stuff!!"
"Lois, I'm so sorry," Clark apologized quickly. "I meant to get rid of them. I packed everything up and the box has been in a corner until I could get it over to Goodwill. I couldn't see just throwing them out and I've just been so busy lately."
Kara walked over to where the couple was still standing at the front door. "Lois," she started, "please accept my apology. Had I known that any of this clothing," she gestured toward the box which was still on the couch, "held painful memories for you, I would never even consider using them. If you like, I will change back to my own clothes immediately."
Lois couldn't help but like her right away. "No," she answered, "that's not necessary. We'll just have to go shopping later, then 'Superman' can burn these."
Kara looked confused. "I thought Kal-El is Superman."
"I am," Clark answered.
"Then why speak of him in the third person?" Kara asked.
"Because only Lois and the Kents know the truth. Whenever I'm not wearing the costume, we act as if Superman is a different person, especially in public. And when I'm wearing glasses, I'm 'Clark.' You can only call me 'Kal-El' if I'm dressed as Superman."
"I will remember," Kara agreed.
"Let's move inside and get comfortable, okay?" Clark suggested.
Just as Lois and Kara were sitting down on the couch, there was a knock at the door. As Clark was going back to open it, he used his x-ray vision and announced, "It's Jimmy."
"Who's Jimmy?" Kara asked Lois.
"He works with us at the newspaper and he doesn't know about …" But Clark had already opened the door so Jimmy heard what Lois's answer was.
"Doesn't know about what?" he asked.
Clark jumped in. "Ah, doesn't know about my cousin coming to visit. Jimmy Olsen, I'd like you to meet …"
"Linda Lee," Kara supplied as she came to the front door to meet Jimmy.
"Pleased to meet you," Jimmy said, shaking Linda's hand. "How long are you staying?"
"I'm not sure yet," Kara answered, glancing toward Clark.
"Ah, probably just a few days. Uncle Frank and Aunt Pat thought she should spend some time away from home while she considers her future. You know, what college to attend, that sort of thing," Clark added.
"Well, Metropolis University is a great school, if you can get in. Admission is a little tough," Jimmy commented.
"I'll remember that," Kara said, smiling.
"Jimmy, was there some reason for this visit?" Lois asked, coming toward the group.
"Yeah," Jimmy answered, "CK asked me to get a list of chemistry majors at Met U. He said it was urgent, so I figured I'd bring it by on my way home." He had the file out toward Clark, but his eyes kept going to Linda, who had wandered back to the couch. She turned back to look at the group and Jimmy looked at Clark quickly, before she could see that he'd been staring at her. Lois and Clark noticed this and smiled at each other.
"Thanks, Jimmy," Clark said, taking the folder. "This should help a lot."
"Great … okay … well I'd better get going," he said while backing away from the door. "See you guys tomorrow." Just as he got to the first step, he turned around so he wouldn't go tumbling and make a complete fool of himself, and he started down the stairs. Clark closed the door and went to the kitchen. Lois came back into the living room.
As Lois sat on the couch with Linda, her curiosity got the better of her. "Why did you tell him your name was 'Linda Lee?'" she asked.
"If Kal-El, I mean Clark, can have an Earth name, then I decided to have one, too," Linda explained. "I heard a lot of names today on television and I liked these best."
"Dinner's ready," Clark called from the kitchen. "I hope you like stir-fry."
"I don't know," Linda answered, "but I'm ready to try."
After dinner, they were all relaxing in the living room again. Clark had removed the box of clothes from the couch and he was sitting at an angle at one end with Lois next to him leaning back against him. Linda had removed the jacket and shoes and was sitting cross-legged at the other end of the couch. Lois and Clark were answering all of Linda's questions about Earth.
"There's something I've been wondering about all night," Clark finally said. "Why are you wearing that wig?"
"That's a wig?" Lois asked.
"This afternoon she was blonde," Clark answered.
Linda smiled. "I found it in the box of clothes and just wanted to see how I'd look with dark hair. To tell you the truth, I completely forgot that I had it on." She laughed and pulled the wig off to look at it. Her real hair fell down around her shoulders in golden waves.
"I think you look better with dark hair," Lois commented. "Besides, Jimmy already met you that way and it might look strange if you change so drastically overnight."
"Then I'll just have to keep wearing it for a while," Linda said.
"Well, it's getting late," Lois started, getting up from the couch. "I'd better get going."
"I'll walk you home," Clark offered, following her to the door. Outside, he took her hand and walked beside her. "Well?" he asked.
"Well, what?" Lois countered.
"What do you think of Kara?" Clark clarified.
"Don't you mean 'Linda'?" Lois asked as a stall tactic.
"Very funny," Clark answered.
"OK, you win," Lois finally gave in. "She's very nice and I already like her, a lot more than I liked Zara."
"Well, you were jealous of Zara. There's no need for that with Linda," Clark pointed out.
"Me, jealous? Whatever gave you that idea?" Lois asked innocently.
"Oh, come on. I nearly had to get you a saucer of milk."
By then, they had reached Lois's apartment. As she unlocked the front door, she invited Clark in for a minute.
"I'd better not," he answered. "I'd like to get in a quick patrol before going home to check on Linda, this being her first night and all."
"I understand," Lois answered. "I'll see you tomorrow at work." She kissed him in the hallway, then stepped backwards into her apartment and closed and locked the door.
Clark left the building and headed for the alley. With a whoosh, he was in the air.
The next day, Lois arrived at the Daily Planet to find Clark already at his desk. As if he could sense her arrival, Clark looked up and smiled at Lois. She went to her desk and put her things away. Once she'd started her computer, she walked over to Clark's desk. Jimmy was already there, leaning down in a conspiracy-like pose. When he saw Lois approach, he straightened and spoke louder. "Okay, great. I'll talk with you about that later, CK," and he left with a wave to Lois.
"What was that all about?" she asked, sitting in the chair next to Clark's desk.
"He was grilling me for information about my cousin," Clark answered.
Lois nodded. "I remember when he wanted inside info on Lucy. Ya' know, a date might be a good way for Linda to learn about life on Earth. She'd be interacting with others and there's no one I'd trust more than Jimmy."
"I don't know," Clark answered. "I think her first 'outing' should be with someone who knows our secret. Maybe that shopping trip you mentioned last night, hint, hint. Tonight would be perfect, since I'll be busy with 'you-know-who.'"
"I suspect you just want to keep me busy so I won't crash the stakeout," Lois surmised.
"Nonsense," Clark replied with a twinkle in his eye. "It's just that Linda is really looking forward to going shopping. I think she still feels bad about the outfit that upset you."
"Oh, please. I'm way past that," Lois shrugged. "Though I guess a shopping trip could be fun."
"Great. We can have dinner at my place again before you go," Clark offered.
After dinner, Lois and Linda drove in Lois's jeep to the mall. Clark changed into Superman and flew out through the alley. It was still too early to go to the campus, so he decided to patrol the city first. He was able to stop two muggings and a convenience store robbery before 8:40. <I suppose I should head on over,> he realized.
When he arrived at the Hamilton Science Building, everything appeared quiet. He scanned the building with his x-ray vision while floating above. There were four occupied labs and a few people outside. One student in particular kept pacing back and forth, glancing around the quad and eyeing his watch. After a few minutes, another student approached him. Superman stayed in the air but tuned into their conversation.
"Hey, Steve. I didn't think you'd make it."
"Why? I'm not that late."
"No, but you weren't sure yesterday."
"I'm still not, Rob. Do we really want to do this?"
"Why not? It's quick, easy money and we're not forcing anyone to take it. I told you, this stuff sells itself."
"It still feels wrong."
"Look. You do whatever you want, but I'm going in to meet him."
"Fine. Let's go before I change my mind again."
As the students entered the building, Superman watched their progress using x-ray vision again. They took the stairs to the second floor then headed north. Looking ahead, Superman saw only one occupied lab and an open window at the end of the hallway. He flew in through the open window and stopped in front of the students.
Rob and Steve were startled when a red and blue blur suddenly became Superman. He stood with feet apart and arms crossed, blocking their way.
"You two haven't done anything wrong … yet," he admonished. "Leave now, and it'll stay that way." The students took one look at each other and ran in the other direction. <Hopefully that scared them out of trouble for good,> Superman thought.
He walked with determination to the correct lab and tried turning the door knob, finding it locked. He gave a quick push and the door swung in easily as the bolt broke through the frame.
Once Superman got a good look at the chemist, he recognized him as Matthew Olney, from the files Jimmy dug up. Olney was a third year, straight A chemistry major.
"I'm here to shut down your operation NOW," Superman insisted, walking toward the chemist. He was a little unnerved by the fact that Olney just stood calmly in place, even after he had broken the door.
"I don't think so, Superman," Olney started. "I've been expecting you. You see, I knew I had a way to keep the cops from finding me, but you were another story." The closer Superman got to the counter unit which separated them, the stranger he felt: not in pain, just out of sorts. "I knew you'd find me eventually," Olney continued, "especially with Lane and Kent on the story." By now, Superman was within a foot of the student. He was confused by a sudden ache in his right shoulder, then his lower back. He started getting fuzzy headed and shook his head to clear it. Olney smiled and continued his speech. "Then, while I was working part-time for Cost Mart, I found the perfect solution." He paused, reached under the counter and pulled out a chunk of red kryptonite. "Somehow, it was embedded deep in a wall. Actually, I was very anxiously waiting to meet you, just to find out which effect would take place."
Once Superman knew the cause of his discomfort, he raced back out the broken door and open window. He just wanted to put as much distance between himself and that rock.
Back at the mall, Lois and Linda were sitting in the Food Court enjoying some frozen yogurt. Linda decided after just one taste that she really liked it.
"Lois, can I ask your advice on something?" Linda asked, timidly.
"Sure," Lois answered. "You can ask me anything."
"Well," Linda started, "do you think that Clark would be angry if I wanted to 'help' him?"
"What do you mean by 'help'?" Lois asked.
"You know …" Linda clarified by making an "S" in the air with her finger.
Lois thought for a moment. "I think that what Clark doesn't know won't hurt us," she laughed.
"So I should just do it?" Linda asked, grinning.
"Ya' know, that flared red miniskirt we bought would be perfect for your 'outfit'," Lois answered.
"I saw a pair of red boots in that first shoe store we visited," Linda remembered.
"And we can probably find blue tights at the Dance Outlet," Lois added.
"What about the rest?" Linda asked.
"Martha made so many extra outfits, she won't mind if we alter one of Clark's," Lois answered.
"Cool," Linda started, excitedly gathering their bags. "Let's get going!"
When the shoppers finally made it back to Clark's apartment, they were still laughing and scheming over their plans. Lois, who had finally remembered to add Clark's key to hers, unlocked the door, then stood back to allow Linda, who was carrying all the shopping bags, to enter first. Linda saw Clark, still in his Superman outfit, lying on the couch. Realizing he was asleep, Linda turned to Lois, put her finger to her lips in a "shhh" position and pointed to the couch. Lois giggled and tiptoed to the couch, intent on tickling him until he woke up.
When she was close enough to see his face, she rushed over and knelt down next to the couch. Clark was definitely asleep but he'd been changed completely. His hair was fully gray and his suit seemed a full size too big. There were wrinkles across his forehead and at the corners of his eyes and mouth. He looked like he'd aged 50 years since dinner.
Lois tried to wake Clark softly, by calling to him. When that didn't work, she shook him and yelled his name repeatedly.
Clark woke with a start and turned his head toward Lois. He seemed to take a moment to focus on her then recognized who she was.
"Hi, sweetie," he said like nothing was wrong. "When did you get here?"
Linda stood behind Lois. "Clark, what happened?" she asked, stunned by his appearance.
Clark stared at Linda, thought for a while, then remembered what he'd set out to do earlier. "Oh, the chemist," he said. "Well, I found out who he is. His name is Matthew Olney, but I wasn't able to stop him."
"Why not?" Lois asked.
"He has red kryptonite. It was that first piece, when we stopped Bill Church, Jr., from killing Perry. I flew out of there as fast as I could and was going to go straight to the police, but I was so tired. I came back here just to lay down for a minute. For some reason, I'm still tired," he answered, closing his eyes again.
Lois got up off the floor and motioned Linda to follow her into the kitchen.
"Zara told me that kryptonite steals his powers," Linda stated.
"That's green kryptonite," Lois clarified. "RED kryptonite affects him differently each time he comes into contact with it. I don't think he even realizes what's happened this time."
"What can we do about it?" Linda asked.
"We'll have to get him to Star Labs. Dr. Klein may be able to counteract the effect somehow, but I think we should make sure he knows what happened first."
Lois went into the bathroom and found Clark's hand mirror. She remembered seeing him shave by using the mirror and his heat vision. She went back to the couch and sat on the edge, near Clark's hip. She shook him awake again and tried to smile when he looked up at her. "Can you sit up?" she asked him.
Clark nodded and propped up on his elbows first. He grimaced before pulling himself up the rest of the way. Once he was sitting upright, he rubbed his right shoulder with his left hand.
"The kryptonite had a different effect on you this time," Lois explained to Clark. "I just wanted to prepare you for the shock."
Clark seemed annoyed. "Whatever it is, I think I can take it."
Lois sighed and lifted the mirror from her lap so that Clark could see his reflection. Contrary to his comment, he was shocked by what he saw. He just stared at the mirror.
"Clark?" Lois tried to get his attention. He continued to stare at the reflection. Finally, she lowered the mirror. "Clark. We need to get you to Star Labs. Dr. Klein will find a way to reverse this."
"How?" Clark asked, dejected. "When red kryptonite caused apathy, I just had to ignore the feeling and do what was right. Then, when it transferred my powers to you, we just transferred them back. How can this possibly be reversed?"
"I don't know," Lois admitted, "but Bernard Klein is a good man, and a good friend. He will find a way to fix this. I just know he will."
"She's right, Clark," Linda jumped in. "From everything you've told me about him, I'm sure Dr. Klein will help. But the sooner we get you over there, the better."
"You're right, both of you," Clark admitted. "But I can make it on my own."
"Are you sure you don't want me to drive you?" Lois asked.
"I know you're concerned, but I'll be fine," Clark answered, placing his palm against Lois's cheek. "I promise to call as soon as Dr. Klein finds anything."
"You'd better," Lois whispered. She watched as Clark floated to the window overlooking the alley and flew upwards. As soon as he was gone, she turned to Linda. "We'd better get started on your outfit," she stated. "With Superman out of commission, we may need you."
Two hours later, Linda's costume was finished and there was still no word from Star Labs.
"Well, you're all set, except for a name," Lois declared. "Since your costume is similar to Superman's, how about Superwoman?"
"I don't think so," Linda decided. "Clark told me about Ultrawoman and I wouldn't want to be confused with her. Plus, where I'm from, I'm not an adult yet. I think I'd be more comfortable as Supergirl."
"That's fine," Lois agreed. She looked up at the clock and realized how long it had been since Clark left. "Maybe we should head over to Star Labs to see how things are going …"
"Sure, just let me change," Linda said, then spun back into her street clothes.
"Wow," Lois mumbled. "You learned THAT fast."
At Star Labs, Lois drove down a secluded alley and dropped Linda off before parking out front. Linda spun back into Supergirl and flew over the building, landing next to Lois at the front door. As Lois led the way to Dr. Klein's lab, Supergirl realized that the scientists and lab techs, especially the men, were stopping whatever they were doing and watching them pass. When Supergirl mentioned it, Lois just laughed, "They probably like your outfit."
In the lab, they found Superman huddled with Dr. Klein over a microscope. Superman still looked the same as when he'd left them earlier.
"Is there any news yet?" Lois was almost afraid to ask.
Both men turned when they heard Lois's voice. Both were equally surprised by her companion.
Dr. Klein turned to Superman. "It looks like you've been holding out on me," he joked.
"Bernard Klein, this is my cousin …" Superman started.
"Please call me 'Supergirl,'" she supplied. "I've heard a lot about you."
"I wish I could say the same," Dr. Klein answered, shaking her hand.
"It's a long story," Superman said. He turned back to the new arrivals. "Could I speak to both of you … privately?"
"I'll go check on those test results," Dr. Klein offered and left the room.
"This was YOUR idea, wasn't it?" Superman asked, looking directly at Lois.
"Not entirely," she answered.
"Do you realize how dangerous this is? She's not ready for this kind of job," Superman ranted.
"Neither was 'Ultrawoman,' but she managed," Lois countered.
"Ultrawoman was a little older and more used to responsibility. Kara's only 19, for Pete's sake!"
"Hey," Supergirl interrupted. "Quit talking about me like I'm NOT HERE! This was not Lois's idea, Kal-El. It was mine and I am able to handle it. If I didn't think I could do it, I wouldn't have suggested it in the first place."
Superman turned to Supergirl and held her shoulders. "I know you THINK you can handle this, but you just got here yesterday. It's a lot to absorb all at once."
"I know," she answered, "but I'm a fast learner. Plus, you can help me. We can stay in contact telepathically, and, if I really get stuck, you can talk me through it."
"That's a good idea," Lois interjected. "She's obviously thought this through."
"You're not off the hook yet," Superman said, looking at Lois.
"You wanted us to bond. She asked for help. I supplied it. What more do you want?" Lois answered.
"Well, as long as I'm in this condition, I really don't have much choice," Superman decided. "But not tonight. Tomorrow, I'll call in sick and we'll go out in the desert and train for a while first."
"Okay," Supergirl agreed.
Just then, Dr. Klein returned with a printout. "Unfortunately, the results are inconclusive," he stated. He stopped when he saw Superman yawn. "It's late. Why don't you go and get some rest and we'll run a new set of tests tomorrow."
"That's a good idea," Superman agreed. As he, Lois and Supergirl walked out together, they discussed Clark's excuse for being sick the next day. Once outside, the three walked to Lois's Jeep, then man and girl rose into the air and flew off together.
The next day, Lois was typing at her computer when Jimmy stopped at her desk. "Hey, what's wrong with CK?" he asked. "When he called in this morning, he sounded terrible."
"I don't know exactly," Lois answered, "but he looked awful this morning." It wasn't a complete lie. She had stopped by Clark's apartment to see if he and Linda needed anything and he still looked like he was 80 years old. "He told me he was going to call in sick."
"Well, if you see him later, tell him to feel better."
"I'll pass on the message," Lois answered.
Later that afternoon, Lois was still finishing up some earlier projects. She'd also started the article exposing Matthew Olney, but she decided to wait until the police arrested him and all the facts were in. She realized she didn't want to have to explain why Superman hadn't brought Olney to the police himself. She figured Clark would have a good excuse for that. After all, he'd had a lot of practice making up excuses.
Lois looked up when she saw Perry coming toward her desk.
"Lois, honey, have you had a chance to speak to Clark today?" Perry asked.
"Actually, Chief, I've been so busy, I never got the chance to call him," she answered. <Besides,> she thought, <he's probably been out all day solving Superman's problem.>
"Ah, well. I just wondered if he was feeling any better," Perry explained.
"Chief!" Jimmy rushed over to Lois's desk waving a handful of photos. Lois hadn't seen him this excited in a long time. "Chief, you gotta see these!" he exclaimed, handing the pictures to Perry.
"Great Shades of Elvis, what's got you so worked up?" Perry asked, flipping through the photographs.
"Only the first ever photos of Metropolis's newest superhero," Jimmy explained. "And I've got the exclusive on her."
"Her?" Lois asked.
Jimmy turned to Lois. "You should've seen it. I stopped at the bank during lunch to cash a check when this guy in a ski mask burst in waving a machine gun around." As he retold the story, Jimmy became very animated, acting out parts with his hands. "He made everyone get down on the ground, except for one teller who had to start filling his duffel bag. Then, we saw this red and blue blur and I thought, 'Great, Supes'll get this guy,' but there was this gorgeous blonde in Superman's outfit. She stood there with hands on hips and told the gunman to give up. He started laughing and said something like, 'Check out Superchick.' She said, 'That's Supergirl,' and started to stare at his gun. Before we knew it, the gun glowed red and the guy dropped it with a squeal. It was great! That's when I started snapping pictures and the cops showed up. I guess someone hit the silent alarm." Jimmy stopped just long enough to take a breath then continued. "Oo and the best part was when she was leaving. She turned back, looked right at me and smiled. I swear my heart stopped! I went after her, but by the time I got outside she was gone. So I came right back here to develop the photos."
"That's some story," Lois commented, smiling.
"Definitely a story that deserves to be printed," Perry decided. He handed the pictures to Lois and added, "Why don't you help him polish it up first."
Jimmy was ecstatic. "You mean it? I get to write the story?"
"Well, you were the only reporter on the scene. I'd say that qualifies you," Perry answered, heading for his office. "But try to get it done for the evening edition to get the scoop."
"Wow! Thanks, Chief!" Jimmy gushed, and turned back to Lois.
"I just want to call and check on Clark," Lois informed him. "How about you go to your desk and start writing? I'll join you when I'm done."
"Great." Jimmy barely managed to keep from skipping back to his desk.
Lois lifted the receiver and dialed Clark's home number. Linda answered on the third ring.
"Linda? It's Lois. How are things going?"
"Fine. Here's Clark."
"You sound much better."
"Lois? I feel better, but not 100%."
"What did the doctor say?"
"We just got back from patrol and haven't been to Star Labs yet. You just caught us going back out when you called."
"I heard about Supergirl's adventure from Jimmy. Perry's letting him write the story."
"Yeah, she told me he was there. She said she realized her mistake as soon as she smiled, that's why she bolted. Did he recognize her?"
"Of course not. He's as star-struck as I was when Superman flew me back to work from the Messenger."
"Good. I'll let her know."
"Well, I'd better let you go. Perry asked me to help Jimmy with his story. I'll meet you back at your place later?"
"Sounds good. I love you."
"Love you too."
Lois hung up the phone and looked over at Jimmy. He was typing furiously on the keyboard. She smiled as she remembered typing her first Superman exclusive. He had swallowed the bomb she'd found and saved the colonists. She'd had no clue who he was or where he came from, but she knew even then that he'd have a major effect on her life. She couldn't have known then that she'd be engaged to his alter ego now. Shaking off the memory, she went to stand behind Jimmy and asked, "So what have you got so far?"
At Star Labs, Dr. Klein was pouring a cup of coffee when Superman walked into the lab. His hair was a little darker, his suit fit a little better and his face was a little smoother than last night.
"You look better," Dr. Klein told Superman. "How do you feel?"
"Like I'm sixty years old instead of eighty," Superman answered, leaning back against a table.
"What did you do today?" Dr. Klein asked, trying to figure out a solution.
"Well, Kara and I were in the desert all morning and then we patrolled the city this afternoon. Why?"
"Since your energy comes from our yellow sun, it could be prolonged exposure of concentrated sunlight that's the key to changing you back," Dr. Klein explained. "I'd like to retake some of last night's tests and compare the results."
"That makes sense," Superman agreed. "Let's get started."
Lois arrived at Clark's apartment and let herself in. She was carrying a pizza and six-pack of soda. Realizing that no one was home, she placed the pizza on the kitchen counter, put the sodas, minus one, in the refrigerator and went back into the living room with the soda and a slice. She'd just sat down on the couch when Supergirl flew in from the alley and spun into jeans and a crop tee.
"Hi," Linda greeted Lois, then turned toward the kitchen. "Cool, pizza!"
"Help yourself," Lois offered then took a bite. "How's Clark?"
"He looked better this afternoon, but I haven't seen him since he saw Dr. Klein."
Lois finished her slice of pizza and stood up. "I'm going to call Star Labs to see how things are going," she announced as she walked toward the phone.
"There's no need to call. I'll tell you how it went."
Lois and Linda turned toward the front door when they heard Clark's voice. He was dressed in khaki pants and a tee shirt and looked completely normal. He spread his arms and asked, "How do I look?"
Lois rushed over and threw her arms around his neck. He wrapped his arms around her back to return the hug. Linda also rushed to his side. She looked at Clark, then at Lois, then hugged them both.
Finally, Lois broke free and asked Clark what happened.
"The entire morning spent in the desert had started to reverse the aging process. Dr. Klein figured that concentrated exposure to sunlight would be the cure. So, I just spent two hours out in space soaking up rays," he explained.
"Well, whatever the cause, you look great, even better than before, if that's possible," Lois commented.
"I'm just glad that's over," Clark said.
"But we still have to find a way to stop Matthew Olney," Linda reminded them as they moved into the living room.
"If either of you try to go get him, you'll be affected by the kryptonite. Maybe I could get in there and wrap it in lead first," Lois suggested.
"No," Clark disagreed. "Olney made a comment about our articles on the drug. He'd probably recognize you right away. What about Mike?"
"I can't ask him," Lois answered. "Mike's a great snitch, but he's no good undercover."
"Jimmy," Linda said. Clark and Lois both looked at Linda, then at each other.
"He could do it," Clark agreed.
"He'd love the adventure and the experience," Lois seconded.
Linda shook her head. "No, I mean Jimmy's on his way. I just heard him coming up the walk."
Clark laughed and said, "Well, he's still our best option."
When Jimmy knocked on the door, Linda opened it and smiled, "Hi. C'mon in."
"Hi," Jimmy answered her greeting. "I just stopped by to see how Clark's feeling."
"Much better," Clark answered from the kitchen. "Want some pizza?"
"No, thanks. I had a burger on the way."
"Jimmy," Lois started, "we have a huge favor to ask. Well, it's actually a favor for Superman. He was here earlier and asked us to come up with a solution and we think you could help a lot …"
"Sure, Lois," Jimmy answered. "Anything you need."
"Great. Lois, why don't you and Jimmy go to your apartment?" Clark suggested. "I'll find Superman and ask him to meet you there."
"Good idea," Lois agreed. "You still need to rest."
Lois had just shut the door after letting Jimmy in when there was a knock at the window. Lois opened it and Superman stepped in. "Jimmy, I really want to thank you for helping me out," he said.
"It's no problem," Jimmy answered. "Lois told me about the kryptonite. I guess I go in there, pretend I want to sign up to sell for him and get it away somehow."
"Right." Superman handed Jimmy a canvas bag. "I got this from Star Labs. It's lead lined," he explained.
After Superman had described the kryptonite and location of it to Jimmy, they flew out the window. They landed about 100 yards from the science building. Superman reminded Jimmy which lab it was then rose back into the air. As Jimmy entered the building, Superman watched him using x-ray vision.
Jimmy found the correct lab and tried the door knob. It was locked, so he tried knocking first. When there was no answer, he retrieved the lock pick tools Lois had given him earlier and went to work. In about thirty seconds the door popped open. Making sure the lab was empty, Jimmy entered and locked the door behind him. He went straight to the lab table which Superman had described and checked underneath. There was the red kryptonite, sitting on the shelf. He tossed the rock into the bag and wrapped it up tightly. As a precaution, he placed the bag inside his waistband behind his back and replaced his shirt over it.
Just as Jimmy was heading for the door to leave, it opened and Matthew Olney walked in. He saw Jimmy and demanded, "What are you doing here?"
"Looking for a job," Jimmy answered. "I hear you can make a bundle selling this 'Rapture' stuff."
"How did you get in? The door was locked," Olney asked.
"Really?" Jimmy feigned innocence. "It must have locked by itself when I closed it."
"No, I mean I locked it when I left," Olney stated.
"Well it was open when I got here."
"Whatever," Olney gave up and moved toward the lab table. "So, where did you hear about the job?"
Jimmy quickly searched his memory for the names of the two students Superman had mentioned. "Um, some guy named Steve," he answered. Jimmy saw Olney glance under the table and decided to make a hasty retreat. "Ya' know, now that I think about it, I don't think this job is for me."
Olney reached under the table and pulled out a revolver, which he pointed at Jimmy. "Where is it?" he demanded.
"Where's what?" Jimmy countered, raising him hands.
"Don't play games with me," Olney answered, losing his patience. "Where's the rock you took from under here?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Jimmy denied.
"Fine," Olney sighed, raising the gun. "I'll just kill you now and search your body later."
Jimmy squeezed his eyes shut. He heard the gunshot, then the window behind him crashed. When he didn't feel anything, he opened his eyes to see Superman holding Olney with one hand and crushing the revolver in the other. He looked over at Jimmy and asked, "Are you okay?" Jimmy just nodded.
Superman lowered the student and pushed him toward the door. He then turned back to Jimmy and said, "Clark called the police and they're waiting out front. I'm sure they'll want to get a statement from you."
"Um … uh … okay, sure," Jimmy stammered, still a little in shock.
The next morning, Clark entered the newsroom and saw Lois sitting at her desk. She was clipping the front page story out of the paper. With the headline: SUPERMAN NABS 'RAPTURE' CHEMIST, it was the one they'd written last night after Matthew Olney was arrested. Clark walked around behind Lois's chair to the far side of her desk and leaned back against it.
"Good morning," he greeted her.
Lois looked up from what she was doing. "Hi. Where've you been?" she asked.
"'Superman' had a meeting with the president of Metropolis University," Clark supplied.
"Oh, really?" Lois asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Yep. He was very pleased that Olney was caught with a minimum of damage to the campus. In fact, he offered to allow a certain reporter's young cousin to be admitted into next term, as a favor."
"I suppose that was 'Superman's' idea," Lois surmised.
"Well, he didn't see the harm in asking one small favor for a friend," Clark replied, grinning. "This way, she'll get a good education and still be close enough to keep an eye on."
"Did you tell Linda the good news yet?" Lois asked.
Clark nodded. "She was absolutely thrilled and is already studying the course options."
"I'm sure Jimmy will be pleased to hear that she's staying in town," Lois commented with a grin.
Just then, they heard the usual bellow from Perry's office. "Lois, Clark, I just got a tip that Olney's arraignment is being rushed through this morning. I need you both to get over there and get working on a follow up."
"On our way, Chief," Clark answered. To Lois, he commented, "Nothing ever really changes, does it?"
"You wouldn't want it any other way," Lois laughed. She grabbed her bag and followed Clark into the elevator.