48 Hours Without a Superman

By Kathryn Ann Kent <kathken@mailcity.com>

Rated PG

Submitted March 2000

Summary: Clark Kent is without his powers for just 48 hours; what could go wrong? Plenty, as we find in this hilarious accounting of the weekend, as described by his young daughter.

This takes place about a year after the story, "My Adventures with Superman," but it's not necessary to read MAWS first.

Disclaimer: Characters in this story, except those of my own creation, are the property of DC Comics, Warner Bros, and December 3rd Productions Ltd; no infringement of any property rights are intended by their use. I've read so many wonderful fanfics that I may have unwittingly duplicated events, scenes, or dialogue that have appeared in other FOLC's stories; if that's the case, I apologize—it was done without conscious intent to plagiarize.

Note: After "My Adventures with Superman" was published on the archives, a kind FOLC (thank you, Margaret <g>) told me that FOLCs on the fanfic email list were asking questions about Katy's age because sometimes she seemed like a young child and sometimes she seemed a lot older. Margaret, your guess that she was a precocious eight-year old was right on target. ;) Katy's personality was based partly on a real eight- year old child who often seems much older than her years.

Comments welcome at kathken@mailcity.com


It's funny that things turned out the way they did, considering how the weekend started. Usually it's Mom and me who get into trouble ("my Earth women," Daddy calls us, "my two enterprising Earth women"), and usually Dad who rescues us, and this weekend *did* begin that way. Well, sort of. Dad didn't actually *rescue* us from that thing that happened at the courthouse; he just teased us about it. And he didn't rescue us from the Nycon building, either, which Mom was quick to point out … but he teased us about that, too.

That's how Daddy is; he likes to tease … especially Mom. He likes it when she gets all excited and runs around the room yelling at him and waving her hands every which way. She doesn't do that as much as she used to, though; she'll start to get mad and then she'll look at Daddy, standing there with his hands in his pockets looking very innocent but watching her like he thinks something is funny, and then her eyes narrow and she goes over and smacks him in the chest, and says, "Don't get me started, Clark!" in that tone of voice. And then he laughs and catches her around the waist and kisses her and keeps kissing her until she kisses him back. And she always does.

So anyway, that's how the weekend started this time, with Mom and me getting into trouble, but it ended up getting really, really weird, and that's funny, too, me using the word "weird", because of Weird Chemist, that being his name, but the weirdest part was that thing with the blondes. When Mom teases Daddy about it, he puts his hands in his pockets and says "Lo-is!" in a pained voice and then Mom says she can't help herself, it's so much fun making *him* squirm for a change.

That Friday evening, Mom, my brother David, and I were in the kitchen preparing dinner when we heard the whoosh sound that meant Dad had come home from a week investigating something in New York. I knew something funny was going to happen the minute he walked into the room with that big grin on his face and a copy of today's Daily Planet tucked under his arm.

"Hi," he said, bending to kiss Mom and give David and me a hug. "What's for dinner?" He looked at the chicken lying on the counter. "Chicken in a Pot?" He straightened. "Well, I guess you have a Constitutional right to bring a chicken in here," he intoned, looking like he was trying not to laugh.

Without looking up from the chicken, Mom said, "Clark …!"

"And a pig, too," continued Daddy solemnly. "And … what else? Oh, yes; a horse. Did I get that right, honey?" he quizzed Mom. When she didn't answer he looked at me. "Did you bring a horse home, Katy?" he asked.

"No …" I said.

"… 'cause 'you can bring a horse into any building in town if there's no ordinance prohibiting it!'"

Mom's arms were folded across her chest now. "Keep this up and you won't have a partner for the BioSys story," she said sweetly.

Daddy looked at her over his glasses, then put his arms around her waist from behind, pulling her close and giving her a noisy kiss on the cheek. Mom ducked her head, laughing, and pushed herself away. "Don't count on it," she warned.

Daddy's grin widened, and he unfolded the newspaper and spread it out on the cooking island. "This is a good picture of you, honey," he said, studying the front page intently. "But I think you should have angled your left elbow just a little more toward the-"

He was interrupted by the telephone. Giving Daddy one of her looks, Mom snatched up the receiver. "Lois!" Uncle Perry's booming voice carried clearly across the room.

"Perry, I can't believe you did this to me!" Mom exclaimed. "The front page!"

"Slow news day," said Uncle Perry without apology. "The Metropolis Star is carrying the story on their front page, too, and LNN has been running it all evening. I just had a talk with the Suits and they're happier than pigs in mud. Usually they don't like it when our reporters *make* the news, but newsstand sales are up 20% already!" Somehow this information didn't seem to cheer up Mom. "There's just one thing, Lois …" Uncle Perry paused, "… did you have to give a Supreme Court nominee a lecture on the Constitution?"

"Perry …" began Mom.

"Hahahaha!" Uncle Perry guffawed.

"What's a Supreme Court nominee?" whispered David.

"Supreme Court Justices are a bunch of judges who decide if our laws are legal," I explained. "They tell us if the laws are in the Constitution or not."

"Why can't we just read the Constitution and see for ourselves?" David asked. I didn't answer; to tell the truth, I had been wondering that myself.

"Perry, you can't do that!" Mom was protesting, responding to something Uncle Perry had said. "The Bulwerg kidnaping is *my* story!"

"Sorry, Lois, but I need you to work on the jewel theft case. Well, you take care, honey. Say 'hi' to the kids and tell Clark to get his butt back in here tomorrow; we've missed him. The story he sent in from New York is great, by the way. And, oh … uh … all things considered, I think it's best if *he* handles the interview with Judge Farragutt." He was still chuckling when Mom hung up the telephone.

Mom looked at Daddy, who was lounging against the counter, looking like he was enjoying himself hugely. She tossed her head. "You're to interview Supreme Court nominee Farragutt," she told him, as if normal hearing couldn't have picked up Uncle Perry's voice, let alone Daddy's super hearing.

"But wouldn't it be better if you handled it yourself?" Daddy objected. "You could discuss the Constitution—"

"Another word and you won't be getting any dinner," declared Mom. " … is that phone ever going to stop ringing?"

Daddy answered it this time, staying in the kitchen to talk while the rest of us trooped into the living room. He was grinning again when he stuck his head around the door from the kitchen. "That was your Tae Kwon Do instructor," he said.

"Don't say it!" said Mom.

"He says I was right," continued Daddy. "Your elbow should have been angled just a little more to-" He ducked as Mom hurled a pillow at him. "By the way, did you get arrested for assaulting a police officer?"

"No," said Mom shortly. "He didn't identify himself before he grabbed me from behind."

Daddy looked at her.

"… and I told them that if they didn't press charges I'd go easy on them in the next installment of my series about the Metropolis police force," she added grudgingly. Daddy grinned and had just opened his mouth to say something else when the phone rang again.

The phone didn't stop ringing all through dinner and Mom kept getting madder and madder until finally she said not to answer it any more, but Daddy did anyway. The last time it was Dr. Klein, telling Daddy it was time for another vaccination.

"Oh, is it that time again?" said Mom in disgust. "It seems like you just had one! This means that …"

"There will be no Superman for forty-eight hours," Daddy finished.

"Can the world do without Superman for that long?" Mom wondered.

"It's not the world I'm worried about," said Daddy, looking at Mom pointedly.

"Can't Dr. Klein get that vaccine right?" said Mom, ignoring Daddy's look.

"They're working on it," said Dad. "Forty-eight hours is the shortest time yet. And at least I don't get sick any more, like I used to. Losing my super powers for two days is a small price to pay for protection from kryptonite." He turned to David and me. "Do you guys understand?" he said seriously. "There will be no Superman for two days. Do you think you can stay out of trouble for that long?" We nodded. Daddy looked at Mom. "Lois?"

Mom was standing with her arms folded over her chest. "Clark??" she mimicked.

Dad sighed and shook his head. "So don't climb a tall building and yell for help, or try to stop a robbery single-handed, or stow away in the cargo hold of a jet, trying to pass yourself off as one of Sam Lane's robots—" he grinned at Mom and she glared at him, "—or ride a pony into the courthouse … why did you do that anyway, Katy?"

"I didn't ride *into* the courthouse," I explained, "I just rode up the steps."

"Oh. Rode up the steps," said Daddy, satisfied.

"It was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, Clark!" flared Mom. "She was trying something new. Just hear her story. Go ahead, Katy," she nodded at me.

"Well," I said, "we thought it would be cool to ride up some steps—"

"Whose idea was it?" Dad interrupted.

"Mine," I said. Daddy said something that sounded like "… enterprising …" and looked like he was going to laugh and I hurried on, "… so Lisa and Jane and I sneaked away from the stables and rode to the courthouse because it has all those steps only there were a whole lot of people there waving signs that said things like 'Free Squeaky Pete' and 'Fry Squeaky Pete' and 'Stop State-Sponsored Murder,' and the horses got nervous and started prancing around and I dropped the riding crop Mom gave me for Christmas so I got off my pony and then the crowd started pushing me around and then Mom came out and stopped people from pushing me and … and …"

"… and Officer Frasier grabbed me and I responded by … well, you saw the picture in the paper … and Judge Farragutt began lecturing me on allowing my daughter to ride a horse up the courthouse steps and I lost my temper …" Mom said.

"… and gave him a lecture on our Constitutional rights," finished Dad, putting the newspaper onto the coffee table. "I see." He was smiling. "Well, I hope you can avoid situations that require Superman's intervention for the next two days. This will be a challenge for you, okay?"

"And you!" retorted Mom.

"Me?" said Dad in surprise. "What do you mean?"

"You get in trouble just as often as we do."

"That's ridiculous," said Dad positively.

"No? What about the time you tried to stop a mugging and got kidnaped by the Newtridge sisters? Or the time that gunman in the Plaza opened fire and-"

"Okay, okay," interrupted Daddy. "You're right. You're always right, aren't you?" He grabbed Mom around the waist and pulled her close, touching her forehead with his.

She giggled. "Yes," she said.

But it was Mom and me who got into trouble next.


Dad said later that he should have *begged* us to get into trouble … that he should have known that if he told Mom and me *not* to do something, we'd just turn around and do it, but I thought that was really unfair of him; it's not like we did it *on purpose*! And Mom says it was perfectly reasonable for her to want to look at the files of the assistant district attorney who just died. It was so late at night that Mom felt safe doing it … she didn't know that two attorneys would decide to come back to the office … so it wasn't her fault at all!


That evening, after Daddy came back from getting vaccinated, Mom decided she needed something from her desk at work, so she went back to the newsroom and I went with her. She ended up spending a long time there and I fell asleep on the sofa in the conference room.

It was when we were driving past the Nycon building on the way back that she got the idea to check out the lawyer's office, and she left me in the car while she went inside. She didn't take her press pass, though, and thinking she might need it, I took it into the building. The guard told me to go to Tony Benton's office on the ninth floor and that's where I found her, sitting on the floor using a flashlight to read through files.

I hadn't been there very long when I told Mom that I heard people coming in the elevator and they were talking about "Tony Benton."

"In the elevator? How do you know?" She looked up at me. "You have super hearing, Katy?" She began jamming files back into the cabinets. "Do we have time to get out of here without them seeing us?" The elevator bell dinged loudly enough for even Mom to hear it. "No," she groaned. "We'll have to hide."

And that's how we ended up sitting on a balcony outside a window nine stories above the ground in the middle of the night. After Dad told us *not* to climb a tall building and yell for help.

We waited forever while the lawyers found the file they had come to get. "Do you feel a draft?" said one of the men. I heard him come over to the window. "The window isn't quite shut."

"Here, let me get it for you," said the other man. He shut it with a bang, while Mom and I squeezed ourselves against the wall, so he wouldn't see us if he looked out. "Are you ready to go, sir?" The footsteps retreated and I heard the click of the light switch.

I waited until I heard them go down the elevator, then turned to Mom. "They're gone," I said.

"I know," she said. She didn't sound too happy. She edged over to the window and pushed. Nothing happened.

"What's the matter?" I said. "Mom?"

"Nothing," she said quickly. "It's just a little stuck, that's all. I'll get it … in … a … minute!" She strained and pushed, but the window wouldn't budge.

The wind gusted suddenly, tearing at our clothes, and I wished we could call Superman. We could open our mouths and scream for him and he would be here within minutes … only … there was no Superman … my dad was sitting at home, super-powerless, maybe even sick, and there was no help for Mom and me, or at least, not for forty-eight hours …

"Mom, can people live for two days without eating?" I said.

"We are not going to stay here for two days, Kathryn Ann!" snapped Mom. "I'm going to open this window!" She pushed and pushed, but it wouldn't open. By this time the wind was blowing so hard that I was afraid it would push us off the balcony.

"I guess we're going to have to call for help," said Mom at last, pulling her cell phone from her purse. My jaw dropped. She'd had that phone the whole time!

"Are you going to call Dad?" I asked.

Mom muttered something under her breath that sounded like, "I'd rather die." Out loud she said, "No-o, I don't think I'm going to bother your father. I'm going to call the guard downstairs. I know him, and I think I can persuade him not to report us." She said the last almost to herself.

I was silent. She knew the guard! That must have been why he'd let her—and me—into the building.

The minutes passed slowly and I was glad finally to be able to tell my mother that someone was coming to our floor in the elevator. The guard appeared in the office shortly after that and opened the window with the help of a big stick.

"Thank you, Charlie," Mom said. When we got down to the lobby, she pulled something from her purse and handed it to him.

My mother and I returned to the car in silence. "Katy …" said Mom as she put the car in gear and started for home, "I don't think we need to mention any of this to your father …"

I nodded understandingly. Mom often says that Daddy's too stuffy about some things. "Okay."

"So if anyone asks where we were all this time, just say we were at the Daily Planet, okay?"

"Okay," I said again.

But when we got home, no one questioned us. Daddy was sleeping on the sofa and David had already retreated to his lair, and we managed to creep into the house without anyone seeing us.

So we got out of that situation without asking for Superman's help, as Mom pointed out when we found out that our adventure had not, as we'd thought, escaped Dad's notice.


When I got home from school the next day, Mom was already there, working on her laptop. "Are you okay, Katy?" she asked with a searching look. "You didn't catch cold or anything, did you?"

"Why would she catch cold?" asked David curiously.

"Um … I … hey, Dad's home!" I said. He was coming up the steps into the house.

Mom stared at him as he sauntered into the living room, whistling. "You're home early!" she said.

"I finished the interviews with the dockworkers," Dad explained, "so I thought we could watch a video." He took a disk out of a plain black box and inserted it into our old videotape player.

"Great!" exclaimed David, jumping to his feet. "I'll make some popcorn!" He sprinted for the kitchen, putting a bag of popcorn into the Super Microwave.

"Clark!" said Mom, staring at Dad as if he'd lost his mind. "A video. Not a DVD movie?"

Dad sat down on the sofa and leaned back with his hands clasped behind his neck. "Nope," he said, grinning at her.

"How did your interview with Judge Farragutt go?" asked Mom, a little nervously, I thought.

"Okay," said Dad.

"Well … good. So what is this video about?"

"Oh, I think you'll like it," Dad grinned at Mom. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, but she didn't say anything more.

David returned from the kitchen, having poured the popcorn into a bowl, and settled himself next to Mom.

"Sit down, Katy," said Daddy, reaching into the bowl for some popcorn, "I think you're going to like this video, too." I looked at him quickly, warned by something in his tone, but he was staring innocently at the ceiling.

I sat on the floor and watched while the video player whirred and the picture on the screen sprang into view. The scene was of a woman walking down a dimly lit hallway and as she drew nearer, I could see that it was Mom. She opened her purse and picked the lock on the door. Glancing down the hall in both directions, she opened the door and slipped inside, closing it behind her. For several seconds the video displayed nothing more exciting than a view of the empty hall, and then blacked out.

The picture flickered on again almost immediately, to show me coming down the hall and going into the office, too.

Daddy stopped the video and took some more popcorn, popping it into his mouth and crunching gustily. "What d'ya think?" he said with his mouth full.

David looked disappointed. "Is that all?" he asked.

Daddy didn't answer; he was looking at Mom like he was trying not to smile. "It took you a little longer than usual to pick that lock, honey," he said. "Are you losing your touch?"

Mom bounced to her feet. "Clark!" her voice squeaked. "Where did you get that-*how* did you get that video?"

"I'll answer your second question," said Daddy, smiling at her. "I think you know the answer to your first; Charlie gave it to me." He threw another handful of popcorn into his mouth. "I saw him today and he told me what happened. He realized that the security cameras would have recorded any motion in the hallway after midnight, so he retrieved the tape and replaced it with a blank one after copying the portion of the attorneys' entry onto it. You can thank him later."

Mom ignored the hint. "I wasn't able to find anything," she said regretfully. "I didn't have enough time. Maybe when you get your powers back we can both go and—"

"No," said Daddy.

Mom didn't seem too disappointed. She got a "we'll see" look on her face and smiled at Daddy.

He looked at her suspiciously. "And don't think you can talk me into it," he said.

Mom smiled harder and put her hand on top of his head, running her fingers through his hair.

"I'm serious. Lois—!" He grabbed her hand. "Besides, what were you doing getting into that situation anyway? I thought we agreed that you wouldn't get into any trouble until Superman's back."

"Did I ask for Superman's help?" asked Mom sweetly, trying to reach his hair with her other hand, but Daddy kept blocking her with his arm.

"No, but—"

"Then you don't have any reason to complain."

"I wouldn't say that …"

"Let's discuss this in the kitchen," said Mom, looking over at David and me.

"Okay," said Daddy, "… unless you'd prefer that we step outside?" His face was all innocence again. "There's a window you can crawl out of …" Mom smacked his arm. Laughing, Daddy stood up. Mom had finally managed to get her fingers into his hair and muss it up so it was sticking out in all directions.

"Your hair, Clark," said Mom triumphantly.

"That's okay," Dad assured her. "My hair doesn't have to be perfect; it's not like I have a reputation to uphold … like you Senior Journalists—" He ducked, laughing.

Mom turned to us. "You kids need to change and get ready for your father's speech to the Metropolis Work Aid Society tonight," she said.

"Aw, no," I said.

"It'll be boring," David chimed in. "Not Dad's speech," he added hastily. "But everything else. Just grownups and stuff."

"Adam Klein will be there," said Mom.

"Great!" said David.

"Oh, *no*!" I said. "Not Weird Chemist."

"Don't call him that," said Mom automatically.


Mom teases Dad all the time about what happened at the party that night; she always says that since *she* rescued him, he can't tease her any more about all the times he's rescued *her*. And then Daddy says that rescuing someone from social embarrassment isn't exactly the same thing as pulling someone out of a vat of wet cement, and that she was a little late rescuing him anyway and she really *must* polish up her breaking and entering skills. And then Mom starts batting her eyes at him and says in a baby voice, "Cla-rk, do you really think I'm pretty?" and "Clar-rk, I didn't know you felt that way," and Daddy says "Cut it out, Lois," but he's laughing, and then she's laughing, and then he picks her up and hugs her and then they start kissing. They kiss a lot.


The party was all grownups except for Weird Chemist Klein, the son of my dad's doctor, and David and me. They were going to have a party first, with everyone drinking and eating things that Mom and Dad are always saying are bad for you, and then they were going to have Daddy's speech at nine o' clock. Mom was really busy because she had promised to help set everything up since a caterer was too expensive for the Work Aid Society that was having the party.

"This is going to be so boring," I sighed to David.

"I wouldn't be too sure about that," said Weird Chemist, smirking at me. "I'm confident that you're going to observe an interesting turn of events shortly."

I looked at him suspiciously, but he didn't say anything else, just smirked. He and David disappeared soon after that and I just kind of wandered around, watching everybody drinking and laughing and talking.

I went over to Mom, standing alone next to one of the tables, busy writing in a notebook she had pulled out of her purse. She's always doing stuff like that. People talk to her and then she starts writing. "Katy, go rescue your father," she said to me without looking up.

I looked over at Daddy, standing next to a group of blonde women. He had his hands in his pockets and was smiling. "He doesn't look scared …" I said doubtfully.

Mom glanced at him, then muttered an exclamation, "What is that woman *doing*?" She hastily stuffed her notebook back in her handbag and rushed over. The woman Mom was talking about had put her hands on Daddy's chest and was looking up into his face. Daddy saw Mom coming and he got an expectant grin on his face. The other women surrounding Dad scattered like bowling pins when they saw Mom charging at them and by the time she reached his side, they were all gone.

"Defending my honor, Lois?" asked Daddy with a lazy grin.

"*Someone* has to," said Mom crossly.

"I don't think it's in any danger," said Daddy, threading his fingers through Mom's hair, "… from her."

"Really, Clark!" sputtered Mom. "Clarinda was standing so close she could have been measuring you for a tuxedo. And someone should tell her it's time to dye her hair again; her roots are showing."


"I never did like her, anyway," Mom grumbled. Dad pulled her closer, lifting her hair and bending his head to kiss the side of her neck. "Don't do that here, Clark," said Mom a little breathlessly. She kind of fell against his chest, and put her arms around him like *she* was going to measure him for a tuxedo.

Sighing, I wandered away in search of entertainment.

I found Weird Chemist in the kitchen. "Where's David?" I asked. "And what are you doing?"

"I'm stirring the punch," said Weird Chemist. "David's reading my book 'All the Things Yuk.'"

That sounded interesting, so I left Weird to his stirring and went to read the book with David. It had all sorts of gross stuff in it, like why people barf and things like that, so David and I had fun reading it for awhile. The party kept getting louder and louder, though, until finally it bothered me too much to read any more and I went back downstairs to the main room. People were standing around in little clusters; some of them laughing, some arguing, and one man was even singing.

I didn't see Mom, but I found Dad talking to a blonde woman next to the punch bowl. The woman was talking about something boring: "I thought Governor Reynolds had positioned himself strategically when he commented publicly on the Federal highway tax increase, but-"

"You have great-looking skin, Doreen," Dad interrupted.

Doreen's mouth fell open. "I … thank you, Clark," she said.

Daddy took a sip of punch from the cup he was holding. "It's so luminous," he said. "Alabaster white, with a touch of pink in your cheeks."

Doreen's cheeks weren't pink now; they were red, and she stammered something that didn't make any sense.

"Your hair looks nice, too," said Dad. "Like you. The guys always call you the 'Snow Queen,' but I think it should be 'Snow *Goddess*.'"

"Clark …" Doreen sounded surprised, but she didn't look mad or anything. "I had no idea you felt that way." She moved a step closer.

"You're *very* attractive," Daddy continued. "Isn't she, honey?" He switched his gaze to Mom, who had walked up behind Doreen. Dad took another sip of punch while Doreen almost fell over herself backing away from him.

"Lois!" she said with a guilty look on her face. She looked like she was afraid Mom was going to hit her.

Mom didn't answer her, didn't even look at her. I thought that Mom would be mad because of how she always gets mad when women bat their surgically sculpted eyelids at Daddy, but this time she didn't look mad at all. She was staring at him with a puzzled expression on her face. Then she looked down at the drink he was holding and her brow cleared. "Yes," she said calmly, taking the cup out of his hands and setting it on the table. "Very." Daddy smiled, looking pleased that she agreed with him. He shoved his hands into his pockets. "Clark, could I talk to you for a minute?" said Mom.

"Always," he said, smiling at her. He looked back at Doreen. "I like your dress, too, Doreen," he told her. "… especially the way it's cut low across your—" Mom grabbed his arm and towed him away.

Not knowing what else to do, I tagged along. "Clark, I don't think you'd better drink any more punch," whispered Mom. "It seems to be having a strange effect on you."

"Alcohol doesn't affect me," said Daddy. "I'm from Krypton."

"Shhhh! That's what I mean! Clark, you don't usually say things like that! The punch *must* be affecting you; maybe because you're not 'super' right now."

Dad shook his head. "It never has before," he said.

"Maybe you've never had alcohol when your super powers were gone."

"Yes, I have," Dad disagreed. "Lots of times, Lois. And it doesn't affect me. Why should it? Even if I don't have super powers, I'm still Kryptonian."

"Have it your way," Mom sighed. "But … just … don't drink any more, okay? And stay away from blondes."

"Lois!" called a man from the kitchen. "Could you lend me a hand here?"

"I'll be right with you!" Mom turned around and looked at me. "Katy, could you look after your father for a few minutes?"

Me?? Look after Daddy??? This is what I meant when I said the weekend got weird! "What do you mean, Mom?" I asked, looking at the floor and poking it with my toe.

"Just … don't let him drink any more punch; we want him to sober up before he gives his speech. And don't let him talk about Krypton … or Superman."

"Should I keep him away from blondes, too?"

Mom drew in her breath sharply, then laughed. "Just don't let him tell them how beautiful they are."

I watched her walk away, her high heels clicking on the floor, then I looked at Dad. I wasn't too sure how to "look after" Dad … I'd never done it before. I'm so used to Daddy looking after *me*, sometimes as himself and sometimes as Superman! But he looked kind of funny right now, sort of lost—not like my dad at all—standing there with his hands in his pockets and staring at the floor, so I reached out and touched his arm. "Come on," I said, trying to sound bossy like Mom, "Let's go get something to eat."

He looked at me for a second, then suddenly he smiled. "Great idea, Katy," he said, and he looked like my normal dad again. He swooped down and lifted me up (even when he's not Superman he's strong enough to hold me like that), and carried me over to the food tables.

"Da-ad! I'm too big to be carried," I told him.

"No, you're not," he said, tickling me. I squealed, and a couple of people turned to look at us. "My daughter," Dad explained, setting me down. He picked up a French-fried mushroom cap and popped it into my mouth, then selected one for himself.

"Well, aren't you pretty?" smiled one of the women standing beside the table. "Where'd you get those big brown eyes? She looks like you, Clark. And Lois."

I looked up at her and almost cried out. A blonde! I glanced at Daddy in alarm, but he didn't look like he was going to tell her she was beautiful or anything, so I picked up a cracker with cheese topping and started munching on it.

"What do you think of Metropolis?" Dad asked her.

"I think it's just great, Clark," she said. "Have some punch," she added, pressing a cup into his hand. I almost choked on my cracker. I started chewing real fast so I wouldn't have to talk with my mouth full.

"Thanks," smiled Daddy. "You look very nice," he said as he took the cup from her. "That dress is fantastic."

"Dad, no!" I burst out. I had finally swallowed my cracker. "Mom said you're not to drink any more punch! And you're not supposed to tell blondes how beautiful they are!"

Someone started choking, and several people laughed out loud. "It's okay for your daddy to pay *me* a compliment, honey," said the blonde woman, smiling down at me. "Clark and I go 'way back … don't we Clark?" She put her arm around Daddy and squeezed him, then excused herself and walked toward a man who was beckoning her and calling for "mother."

"See you later, Maisie," called Dad. He looked at me, then down at the punch he was holding. Winking at me, he set his cup back on the table.

"Guess we know who wears the pants in your family, eh, Kent?" sneered a man standing next to Dad.

"Hello, Ralph," said Dad. He wasn't smiling.

"Lois got a collar and leash for you? … or does she just rely on her little snitch to keep you in line?"

Dad didn't say anything for a minute, then he smiled, but not like he usually smiles. I shivered. "Get any more hot tips about corruption in City Hall, Ralph?" he asked.

Ralph's face got real red and he started toward my father, his fists clenched. Dad stepped neatly to one side, a look of disgust on his face. "That was a low blow, Kent!" said Ralph.

Dad shrugged and his next words made my mouth drop open. "I don't like you, Ralph," he said. "I've never liked you. I don't like the way you do your job and I don't like the way you hit on Lois—"

"I don't—I haven't-th-that was a long time ago!" spluttered Ralph.

"Well, I don't like the way you *look* at her, then," said Dad. "Or you, either," he said, turning toward another man standing near them.

"I—uh—no offense, Kent," said the man, backing away. "I don't mean anything by it … it's just that your wife is such a … uh … such a distinguished journalist that I can't help staring …" He gave up then and walked away rapidly, muttering something about needing to wash his car.

I'd never seen my dad like this before and I was a little scared. For a second I just wanted to run away. But I knew Mom wouldn't like it if Dad started fighting, so I tugged at his sleeve and said, "Dad?" My voice came out real quiet, but he heard me anyway and he looked down at me for a long minute. Then he seemed to relax a little.

"Let's go talk to Uncle Pete," he said, his face softening as he took my hand. "We haven't seen him for awhile." He led me away from Ralph. I left him with "Uncle Pete," talking about some football game they had seen.

I had to dodge two men who looked like they were about to start punching each other. Pausing to look around the room, I suddenly noticed how strange everyone was acting: some people were arguing, some kissing, and two women had climbed up on top of a table and were dancing on it while a lot of men stood around watching them with goofy looks on their faces.

"Dr. Klein," I said, going over to where I had spotted him examining a piece of equipment that someone had left lying on one of the tables, "Dr. Klein, look how funny everyone's acting."

"Hmm?" Dr. Klein looked up briefly, then continued examining the equipment. "Oh, that's how adults always act when they've been drinking, Katy."

I shrugged and went into the kitchen to find Mom.


She wasn't there, but Weird Chemist was. "What are you doing?" I said. "What did you put in the punch?"

"Nothing," he said, grinning wickedly.

"Yes, you did; I saw you! Where are you going?" He darted out of the room, almost running into my mom.

"Adam, what are you—?" said Mom. "Katy, what's going on here? Did Adam put something into the punch?" When I didn't answer, she went over to the punch bowl and ladled some into a cup. "It tastes okay," she said, taking a sip. "It probably won't hurt anyone; his concoctions never do. Usually they just taste bad; remember when he tried to develop a formula that would make people open to suggestion …?" Her voice faltered, and she said in a different tone entirely, "What's your father doing?"

"Talking." I pointed out the door.

"Hmmm." Mom thought for a minute, then stepped out of the kitchen and looked around the room. "Bernie," she called to Dr. Klein, who was still examining the equipment.

"What—? Oh, hi, Lois. Have you seen this new cordless mood sensor? It's quite ingenious … it can pick up the electromagnetic—"

"Bernie, your son has put one of his concoctions in the punch," Mom interrupted. "It's making everyone behave very strangely."

"I don't see anything wrong," Dr. Klein said, peering around the room.

"Look at Clark," said Mom. Dr. Klein looked at where Daddy was standing. He wasn't with Uncle Pete anymore; he was talking to a *very* happy-looking blonde lady who kept patting her hair with her hand.

"Lois, you're not worried about Clark, are you? He'd never—"

"I know that!" snapped Mom. "But he's not acting like himself … and I want him back to normal before he gives his speech in …" she looked at her watch and gave a little shriek, "… ten minutes! So are you going to find your son and find out what's going on …??"

"Okay," said Dr. Klein, putting down the device reluctantly. "Where's Adam?"


We found him upstairs in one of the private meeting rooms. I should explain something about the building we were in. Downstairs you have the kitchen and bathrooms and the main room, which is two stories high. The party was in that room. At one end of the main room was the podium where Dad was going to give his speech, with a lot of chairs arranged around it. The upstairs is just a kind of balcony with a lot of separate meeting rooms made out of glass so you can look out and see downstairs and watch the speech.

We found Weird Chemist and David in one of the rooms. David was still reading the book, "All Things Yuk." Weird looked up and grinned when we came into the room. "Adam, what did you put in the—" Mom's voice broke off as Dr. Klein stumbled over a box that was propping the door open.

"Dad! Don't let the door close!" yelled Adam. "The lock's broken and we'll be—" The door swung shut with a clang. "—locked in," he finished.


"Spill it," said Mom to Weird Chemist. Her hands were on her hips and she looked *mad*.

Weird Chemist looked past her to Dr. Klein, who nodded encouragingly and said, "Tell us what you put in the punch, Adam."

"It's an electrolytic solution containing ionized—"

"English!" snapped Mom.

"It's a solution containing ABCX, BBCX, and JTNT, substances much like the neurotransmitters GABA, serotonin, and MAO that occur naturally in humanoid species. When orally ingested, they bind to receptive cells in the brain, producing similar results."

"What are you talking about?" said Mom impatiently. "Bernie, what's he saying?" She looked disgusted and I didn't blame her … Weird Chemist talks like that all the time—really he does!

"Adam's invention works much like alcohol, producing the same lack of inhibition, the same rosy glow of well-being—"

"As if Clark doesn't *already* see the world through rose-colored glasses," groaned Mom. "So what you're telling me is that Clark's drunk."

Dr. Klein nodded, but Weird Chemist shook his head. "Not quite," said Weird. "There's one more thing: it invests the imbiber with an urgent need to express his thoughts, even to the point of unburdening himself of his most closely-held secrets—"


"He means that Clark is going to feel driven to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—"

"So help us, God," groaned Mom. I wondered why she and Dr. Klein were saying the speech that people always say when they testify in court … and why Mom looked so worried.

She plunked down into a chair and buried her face in her hands. "Clark's been given a truth serum just when he's about to give a speech to over a hundred—" She jumped to her feet again and began hammering on the glass door with her fists. "Clark!!!" she yelled. "Clark!! Somebody get us out of here!!" Giving her a strange look, Adam retreated to the back of the room and sat down with David.

"What are you going to do?" I said.

"We have to stop your father from making that speech," said Mom. "We'll tell everybody he's sick."

"He doesn't look sick," I said, watching my dad. He was still talking to the blonde.

"What's he talking about now, Katy?" said Mom in a low voice. "Can you hear him? Is he telling her how pretty she is?"

Dr. Klein said with interest, "I didn't know Clark was such a connoisseur of female beauty."

"Go ahead, Katy," Mom whispered, "tell me what he's saying."

"… it wasn't her big, expressive eyes or that silky dark hair," I recited obediently, "it was her passion, her energy. She throws herself into life without holding anything back. That's what got my attention the first time I met her. I jumped out of my chair when she walked into the room and—"

"That's enough," said Mom, blushing. She sighed something that sounded like, "Oh, Clark." I don't know what it was he'd said that made her face turn so soft and pretty; I thought it sounded dumb, and the blonde woman must have thought so, too, because she looked bored. She wasn't playing with her hair any more.

"I'm going to have to pick the lock," said Mom, kneeling in front of the doorknob. "Unless you have a better idea, Bernie. Bernie!" She turned around and looked at Dr. Klein, who was gazing at his son proudly.

"A truth serum," the doctor was saying. "My son invented a *truth serum*. Decades of research by some of the best minds in the scientific community, and it took a nine-year old boy—*my son*—to do it."

Loud cheering brought my attention back to what was happening below and I saw that a woman was standing on the podium and motioning to my father to come to the stage. He sauntered towards her with his hands in his pockets, smiling and nodding at all the clapping people. "That's it; take your time, Clark," muttered Mom between her teeth. "No hurry to start that speech at all." She was still fiddling with the lock. "Flip that switch over there, Katy, so the sound will be broadcast into this room."

Dad was up on the stage now, talking into the emcee's microphone while the crowd seated themselves in the chairs. "I want to thank you, Marge," he said. "And might I say that you're looking well this evening, quite elegant."

"Thank you," said Marge, surprised.

"Clark, you don't need to tell *everyone* how wonderful they look," said Mom.

"And I have to say we're all glad you decided to hold tonight's meeting in the Winstone Building. Some members think the Glynnis Building is starting to look a little shabby and my wife says there aren't enough stalls in the women's restrooms." There was a surprised murmur from the crowd and some people started laughing. Mom muttered something under her breath that I didn't try to overhear. "And the punch is pretty good tonight, too. Last time, Lois said it tasted like swill."

"This is great!" said Weird Chemist, walking up and pressing his nose against the window.

"I'm going to strangle him," said Mom through her teeth. "I really am." I didn't know whether she meant Weird or Daddy.

"Um …" said Marge. She took a breath, continuing with a determined smile, "I'm so glad you and your wife could attend this evening, so you can share with us your views on 'Full Employment for Youth in the Urban Environment.' Ladies and gentlemen, let's give a big welcome to Mr. Clark Kent!" Handing the microphone to Dad, she started clapping her hands and walked off the stage, still clapping.

Daddy attached the microphone to the lectern. He didn't seem to know what to say at first, then he kinda latched onto something Marge had said. "My wife," he said into the expectant hush of the crowd. He rested his arms on the lectern and leaned forward. "I'm glad she could come, too." People in the crowd *really* looked surprised now. "Because she's the greatest." He looked up at the glass room we were trapped in and waved. "Hi, honey."

Laughter from the audience. Some people stared up at the ceiling, but they couldn't see us because they didn't look at the balcony *behind* them. Dumb.

Mom rattled the doorknob fiercely. "Look at them down there! None of them seem to have been affected as much as Clark. Bernie, why is Clark acting so much more … more … *more* than anyone else?"

Dr. Klein scratched his head. "We don't know much about the Kryptonian brain, Lois. Maybe his receptors are more … well, receptive … to ABCX, BBCX, or JTNT chemicals. Or perhaps, since his body is not used to dealing with the effects of alcohol-like substances, and he hasn't built up a tolerance, or learned how to control his impulses while under their influence—"

"Stop him!" interrupted Mom. "He has the world's biggest secret and we can't let him reveal it. You have to stop him, Bernie!"

Dr. Klein shook his head. "Well, Lois, I wish I could … but there's nothing I can do until you get us out of here."

Mom rattled the door handle fiercely, then started working on the lock again.

Meanwhile, Daddy was still talking about Mom, telling everyone how beautiful she is and a bunch of mushy stuff about how much he loves her. Some of the older women were smiling, but the younger women and most of the men looked bored. "Clark," called one of the women in the crowd, "What we really want to know is whether Lois is as close to Superman as gossip says."

Dr. Klein nodded his head and smiled. "The truth serum *is* working on others in the crowd, Lois; she'd never have asked a question like that under normal circumstances." He looked pleased, but for some reason Mom didn't.

"Is Lois close to Superman?" repeated Daddy. I couldn't be sure, but I thought Mom was holding her breath. "Yes." Mom let out her breath in a sigh.

"We really should stop him before he says any more," said Dr. Klein, beginning to look worried.

"No kidding," said Mom.

"Very close." Dad smiled happily while people in the crowd looked at each other.

"You don't have to say any more, Clark," said Mom.

Dad was laughing now, like he had just thought of a good joke. "But it's okay."

"No, Clark," said Mom.

"… it's okay that she's close to Superman …"

"Clar-rk …"

"… because, you see, I *am* Superman."

A ripple of laughter ran through the crowd. "Sure you are, Kent!" yelled one man.

Ralph called out, "Is that what Lois tells you when you're—" and he said something that I didn't understand *at all*, and when I asked Mom what he meant, she didn't answer; she just looked at me.

David dropped his book and came over to the door, looking out with a puzzled frown. "Why is Dad telling everyone?" he whispered.

Dr. Klein seemed pleased, but Weird Chemist was standing there with a disappointed look on his face. "It's not working," he said. "It's supposed to make people tell the *truth*."

I looked down at the audience again. "Clark, I'm glad you're Superman to your wife, but could you just get on with your speech?" yelled someone.

"But I *am* Superman," said Dad stubbornly. Everyone laughed, and he frowned. "Look, I'll prove it." Stepping to one side of the lectern, he loosened his tie, then grabbed his shirt in both hands and pulled. There was a ripping sound and buttons flew everywhere. Someone screamed and a lot of other people laughed.

"Nice, Kent, but where's Superman?" jeered Ralph.

Daddy looked down at his bare chest, then raised his head with a puzzled look. "I'm not wearing the suit," he said. "Why not?" He looked up at us. "Honey, do you know why I'm not wearing the suit?"

Mom just continued fussing with the lock. I hoped she'd hurry, because some of the women in the audience were starting to act *really* silly— screaming and laughing while they fanned themselves and hugged each other and did a bunch of dumb stuff like that.

"Hey, Kent, are you going to give your speech … or do a striptease?"

Daddy was still staring at his own chest, but he looked up at the man's words. "I'll show you," he said. "Watch." He turned sideways and stretched his right arm in the air.

"What's he *doing*?" said Weird Chemist.

"Trying to fly," sighed Mom.

"But he can't."

"No," said Mom, relief in her voice. "He can't."

A tall man in the crowd leaned over and said to the guy sitting next to him, "… Kent obviously harbors latent jealousy towards Superman; hence his deluded notion that he *is* Superman …"

"I concur," said his friend, "… he and Superman are never seen together … they say Kent even left the courtroom when Superman testified at Lois's murder trial all those years ago. And in spite of his purported friendship with the Man of Steel, you'll note that Kent's never present when Lois interviews Superman; it must be painful for him to see them together …"

By this time Dad had given up trying to fly. He retreated behind the lectern with a puzzled frown, closing his shirt back up again. There was a long sigh from, I think, some of the women, and Daddy just stood there for a minute, still with a puzzled look on his face. Finally he looked at the audience. But he didn't say anything, just stood there looking more and more confused.

"You were going to tell us about Lois," prompted a woman.

"No, he wasn't," objected the man sitting next to her.

"He was going to wrap up his speech so we can all go home and catch the last of the game on television," hollered a big man in the back row.

"Lois," repeated the woman.

"Lois," said Dad. He looked up at us again.

"Got it!" hissed Mom. The door swung open and she skyrocketed out of the room, flying down the stairs and onto the podium while the rest of us followed more slowly. "Clark …" she said breathlessly when she was on stage with him.

Daddy's face lit up and he caught her and hugged her to his side. "Lois!" He turned back to the audience. "Ladies and gentlemen … my wife!" There was scattered applause, followed by general laughter when it became obvious that Mom was trying to lead him off the stage and he was resisting.

She grabbed his arm and tried to get him to follow her, but he's big and pretty solid even when he's not Superman and she couldn't get him to budge. "Why you choose this moment to get stubborn!" said Mom, frustration on her face.

"Honey, I have to finish my speech," he insisted. "Do you remember what it was about? Oh … you know what …? I'm not wearing the suit. See?" he opened his shirt again, to shrieks from the audience, "Do you know why I'm not wearing it?"

Mom grasped the edges of his shirt and tugged it firmly closed. Daddy turned back to the crowd. "Isn't she great?" he said. Laughter. "Best investigative journalist in Metropolis … and the prettiest. Really great body, too, huh?" *More* laughter … and whistles from the men. "… belongs in a cabaret."

"Clark!" hissed Mom. She looked like she was about to explode.

"She has quite a temper," he confided, as if everyone in the audience couldn't have guessed. "Bold … headstrong … full of spirit and passion," he added proudly. "She did the Dance of the Seven Veils for me once." Mom tried to wriggle out of his grasp, but he held her firmly and continued to address the crowd. "She came over to my apartment wearing that … blue and gold thing …" he waved his free hand, his face glowing at the memory, "… and then she danced for me." There was a brief tussle while Mom tried to stop Daddy from saying anything else by putting her hand over his mouth. Daddy won. Grabbing her hand and holding it away from his face, he said, "And that's not all she did."

Mom said later that Daddy must have had some instinct of self-preservation left, 'cause instead of telling everyone in the audience, he leaned over and whispered it in her ear. Mom's mouth flew open. "You never told me I did that!" Her voice sounded strangled.

"I thought you wouldn't like it," he said, satisfied with the effect he'd had on her. He looked back at the audience again. "Let me tell you what she did last night." He thought for a minute. "*Two* things. First, even though I told her *not* to climb a tall building—"

Mom swung around so she was between him and the crowd and took his face in both her hands. She whispered something to him that even I couldn't hear. His face lit up and he nodded. Mom grabbed the microphone and said hastily, "Ladies and gentlemen, I regret that this evening's speech has been canceled due to Mr. Kent's being indisposed. Thank you all for your time." There was half-hearted applause while Mom tugged at Daddy's arm, leading him off the stage.

"That was a very interesting speech, Mr. Kent," Marge said, giving him a strange look. "We'll have to ask you again some time." But she looked like she hoped he'd say no.

Mom was guiding Dad toward the door. He still looked happy, but he was starting to look a little sleepy, too.

While Marge sent someone to get our coats, we stood near the door, watching everybody leave. I was happy to hear Weird Chemist say, "My formula didn't work; it's supposed to make people tell the *truth*!"

But then Dr. Klein said, "I wouldn't be too discouraged, Adam; let's have a look at your formula and see what can be done to improve it."


Most of the crowd were gone by the time Marge's friend had found our coats. By then Daddy was looking *very* sleepy. Mom had pulled him around so he was facing her and put her arms around him. He rested his forehead on her shoulder and she put her hand on his head and started stroking his hair.

Dr. Klein came back and stuck his head in the door. "Clark's probably going to get very sleepy—oh, I see he already is. I looked at Adam's formula and I suspect Clark was affected by the solution because of the presence of XSKY, which, in conjunction with Clark's increased vulnerability resulting from his … sorry. The truth serum affected Clark because he's not "super" right now. The formula should wear off in the next eight hours or so, but even if it doesn't, Clark should return to normal as soon as he regains his powers. In the interests of his … er … secret … I think you should try and keep Clark home tomorrow."

"He's not going anywhere," Mom promised, kissing the top of Daddy's head.


When we went outside, Dr. Klein and his weird son drove by in their car. Weird was looking out the window, sticking his tongue out at me, and I made a face at him. "I hate boys," I said when we climbed into our car. Mom smiled at me, then looked over at Daddy, slumped in his seat and already fast asleep. She reached over and touched his face, brushing a stray lock of hair from his forehead. "You'll change your mind," she said.


Nothing else exciting happened that weekend; Dad slept most of the next day and then he got his super powers back and he was like nothing had ever happened.


So that's what it's like having forty-eight hours without a Superman and Mom says it's a good thing it doesn't happen very often because our phone would *never* stop ringing if Daddy pulled more stunts like that. Guys who work with Daddy keep calling and saying they want "Kent" to be the entertainment at their friends' Bachelorette parties or to deliver dance-grams to their girlfriends and then they start laughing so hard that I can hear them across the room even *without* my super hearing.

We get more calls about Dad's speech than we did about Mom being on the front page of the newspapers, and Mom says it's *not* true what Daddy says about everyone being too scared of *her* to dare say anything about her exploits.

Ralph calls Dad "Superman" now and Mom doesn't like it but Dad says that he'll get tired of it and stop doing it if she quits rising to the bait and throwing things at him.

Now whenever Daddy's writing a speech and can't think of anything to say, Mom will sit on the arm of his chair and tell him, "if things get dull, you can take off your shirt …" and he'll say, "Lo-is," and then she'll laugh and slide into his lap and put her arms around him and start kissing him and then he forgets about being mad at her and forgets about his speech. Every time.