Carol M <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: August 2001
Summary: In this sequel to the author's "First Night," Lois and Clark deal with the issues that arise from being newlyweds and pregnant all at the same time, especially after discovering Clark really is an alien. Little do they know, how much things are about to change.
This is the sequel to "First Night" which is on the archive.
The title comes from Psalm 23, "Yea thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me." (Paraphrased) Anyway, the point being that no matter how bad things are there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Special thanks go out to Missy for her wonderful Beta- reading help and to Nan for her invaluable medical suggestions, advice, and lengthy responses to the "this will only take a second" emails that turned into epics with lots of follow-up questions. Also to all of the gentle readers on the list and boards with their insistent screaming and begging for certain people to get what is coming to them.
They also said that this should have a WHAM warning and kleenex advisory, so there it is!
The characters aren't mine. They belong to people with lots more money and influence than little ole me. I just wanted to have some fun — and I am one who believe in — well, if not putting the toys back where I found them, then at least straightening up the play room.
Lois sat back and sighed. She loved it up here on the roof. She came here often, to sit and think. It was her place to go when she needed to get away and think. Tonight she was thinking about the last few months.
It all seemed like a dream—nightmare at times, but mainly a good dream.
It all started three months earlier. A newbie had shown up at the Daily Planet. She had been prepared to give him the brush-off, but that was not to be. Clark Kent, her new partner, was CJ, the guy she had fallen in love with in Washington, D. C. when she was only sixteen.
Somehow — and she had spent a good portion of the last three months trying to find out how — they had gotten married. She hadn't been able to find any of the people involved or figure out how it happened, but it was legal and she was married to the man of her dreams — and the man that many women fantasized about.
It turned out that Clark was, well, exceptional. He had powers that no one had ever seen. He'd become the world's first superhero and saved countless people in the last couple of months, including herself several times. She was trying to be more careful. Really. Perry and Clark didn't believe her, but she had been trying to take fewer risks.
She'd never risk the life of the child she carried for a stupid story — even the one that would win her the Pulitzer. She wasn't sure she'd be the world's best mom, in fact she knew she wouldn't be, but she would sure try her best. Somehow, she knew this child already. She hadn't felt movement yet — her doctor said it wouldn't be for another few weeks or more — but there was an undeniable connection. She had another appointment this week and her doctor said that they should be able to hear the heartbeat of the baby. She had made Clark promise not to try to listen until she could too. His super-hearing made things just a bit unfair.
She sighed as she thought about everything that had happened since they had gotten married and found out they were having a baby.
"Dollar for your thoughts?"
The soft voice of her husband interrupted her reverie.
She turned to him and smiled. No matter what else was happening in her world, just seeing Clark made her stomach do flip flops and put a smile on her face. "Dollar?"
He sat next to her on the roof of their building, looking to see what she saw. "Inflation," he said simply as he wrapped his arms around her and helped her snuggle into him. "So?"
"I was just thinking about the last couple of months."
"It's been pretty incredible, hasn't it?"
"For the most part. And to think, I didn't want anything to do with you."
Clark chuckled lightly and kissed the back of her head. "No one said it was easy to get to you, but I'm glad you let me."
Lois smiled, knowing that he would know she was, even though he couldn't see her face. "Well, you're different. You're special. I don't think that anyone less 'super' would have been able to keep up."
Clark laughed again. "I know that no one less 'super' could keep up. I have a hard enough time as it is."
"It hasn't been easy, has it?"
"Keeping up with you?"
"No, it hasn't been easy. Being married is a big adjustment, especially when we didn't even really know each other to start with."
"I'm glad we decided to stick it out."
"I love sitting up here. I just wish that the lights from the city weren't quite so bright. I'd love to be able to see the stars all the time the way we do when we're in the clouds."
"I know." Clark sat for a moment, wondering if he dared bring up a subject that had become taboo and then decided to risk it. "The lights aren't as bright in the suburbs."
An exasperated Lois sighed. "Don't start, Clark."
"I wish this was just one of those times when we could agree to disagree, but we have to make some decisions soon."
"I know, Clark, but I don't want to live in the suburbs. And I don't want to hear your arguments again. I've heard them over and over." She shifted, holding herself a little more stiffly and away from the warmth of her husband's body.
Clark sighed. They'd never reach an agreement. "How was the car accident, Superman?"
So she was still bitter about that, too.
"There's a couple of people in the hospital, but they're going to be fine." He traced a line up her arm with his finger. "I had to go, Lois."
"Please don't be mad."
"I'm not mad." Her body language suggested anything but.
"Yes, you are."
"No, I'm not. I'm getting used to sharing my husband with the world. It's no big deal," she shrugged, knowing it was a lie.
"I hate spending so much time away from you."
Clark sighed. They'd never agree on this either. He *had* to help. He thought that she understood that, but maybe she didn't. Maybe she never would. This was going to be difficult. He just hoped that they'd find a way to work it out.
"Things are not progressing as I would wish."
"I know, sir."
"We still haven't been able to get either one of those interfering reporters in our hands so that we can take out Superman. Assuming of course that green rock is what they say it is."
"I'm sure it is, sir."
"Do you have proof?"
"Then make sure that one of the minions does this. I don't want to be connected to it, especially if it doesn't work."
"So why haven't we been able to grab Lane or Kent?"
"They have been sticking very close together the last three months. Her pregnancy probably has something to do with it."
An eyebrow shot up at that information. "She's pregnant?"
"According to sources at Metropolis Obstetrics, she is. Thirteen weeks."
"He *is* her husband, sir."
"Don't remind me… When can we expect to get one of them in our power?"
"Soon, sir. Whenever they are together, Superman shows up. It happens less often when they are not together, unless Ms. Lane is in some sort of predicament. The Boy Scout doesn't appear to have the same affinity for Mr. Kent. He hasn't rescued Kent once in the several times he's been in jeopardy."
"I wonder why. From all reports, he's close to both reporters."
"Well, next time they are separated, get Kent."
"Yes. That way we shouldn't have to worry about Superman showing up right away and spoiling the long-term effects."
"And if he doesn't show at all, for some reason?"
"Well, then, we can use that as a public relations tool against him. He failed to save his best friend whose wife is pregnant. What kind of person would he be if he let that happen?"
"And Kent is out of the way in the process?" A smile was the only answer.
"Soon. I cannot be patient much longer."
"Clark," Lois whined. "Please. Just a little investigating?"
Clark shook his head. "You know what the doctor said. After the scare we had at Antonio's, and all the tights spots you've put yourself in since, no stress, including 'little investigations'. They always turn into something more."
Lois slumped her shoulders in defeat. "Fine. No investigations. Can I at least cover something a little more exciting than a dog show? Writing obits is getting old."
Clark rubbed her shoulders gently and chuckled. "You haven't written an obit in your life. Assistant Editor isn't all that bad and you know it. I know you'd rather hit the streets, sweetheart, but you just have to take it easy. I'm sorry. I wish things were easier, but they're not."
Lois sighed deeply. "I know, Clark. I just don't want to sit around and do nothing. I hate this."
Clark cocked his head to one side. "I'm sorry, honey. I gotta go. Burning building."
Clark placed a quick kiss on the top of her head. "I love you. Both of you."
"We know. And we love you too. Go to your fire and on your way back, pick up some Italian for me; we'll be hungry and I know what pasta does to you," she said, lightly tickling the hard abs that were eye level as she sat at her desk and then grabbed his tie. She tugged until the handsome face of her husband appeared. "Besides, it's Saturday and I want some quality time with my husband." She kissed him soundly. No matter what problems they had, she loved his kisses and the way that he…
"I love you, but I have to go." Clark kissed her again, quickly this time and then turned to go. "I'm going to stop and check out some things on the way back, okay?"
Lois stared at her desk and nodded as her husband rushed out of the room. Several minutes later, she did look up a to see the latest Superman rescue on the television monitors. Lois sighed, knowing that she was the one the superhero turned to. It was a special place to be. And a very difficult one. One she didn't really know how to deal with.
Several hours later, Clark still hadn't returned. Lois hadn't heard from him. Usually he tried to call on the cell phone he kept in the pockets his mom had sewn into his suit if he was going to be longer than was reasonably expected.
Finally, she stood and walked to Perry's office. She closed the door behind her and sat on the couch. Perry finally looked up to see a mildly distraught Lois sitting there.
"What is it, darlin'?"
"Clark. There's something wrong."
"What are you talking about?"
"I can't explain it. He had to run an errand and check out some stuff, but that's been over three hours ago. Something just tells me that something's wrong."
"Woman's intuition?" Perry's raised eyebrow indicated his disbelief.
"No, nothing like that. Clark and I have this… connection." Lois stood and started pacing around the office. "I can't explain it. Neither can Clark, but how do you think Superman always knows when to come if I'm in trouble? Clark can sense it and gets hold of Superman to come rescue me. By the time Superman gets me out of danger, Clark gets there and everything's okay again. Don't you and Alice have that kind of connection? Or are we just weird?"
"Well, Alice and I don't have a connection quite like that, but I know what you mean. And, no, honey, you're not weird. Just in love."
"I know that. I love Clark, and I know him. Perry, something's wrong. He's not answering his cell phone. I want to go look for him."
"No, Lois. I'll send Jimmy, but you are staying here."
"No." Perry shook his head. "The doctor said no stress and no investigating. Clark would kill me if I let anything happen to you. Now, you get back to work and I'll send Jimmy out to find Clark, okay?"
"Fine." Lois left the office and went to her desk, appearing to settle in to work.
Perry eyed her suspiciously. Something wasn't right. Lois Lane would never give in without a fight. She was up to something. He gave a mental shrug. He didn't have time to deal with it right now. He had to get Jimmy out looking for Clark and then get upstairs to a meeting with the suits.
Lois knew Perry had a meeting to go to. She waited until Jimmy had gone to start looking for Clark and Perry had taken the elevator upstairs before making her move.
She quickly went to Clark's desk, searching through the file folders he had left lying haphazardly on top. California Breezes Imports Limited. It was apparently the shadow company that owned one of the smaller ones they had been investigating. Well, Clark had been investigating. All she'd been allowed to do was sit at the computer and search the Internet.
Finally, she came up with an address. Clark had circled it and put an exclamation mark next to it. It had to have been where he was going after he put out the fire.
Telling anyone who would listen that she was going on a donut run, she grabbed her purse and left.
Lois carefully tiptoed into the seemingly abandoned warehouse and looked cautiously around. The last thing she wanted to do was give away her presence.
The voice caused her to jump. "Jimmy," she hissed. "What are you doing here?"
"The same thing you are, looking for Clark. Only you shouldn't be here," Jimmy replied in a whisper.
"I couldn't just sit around and do nothing, Jimmy. You have to know that."
"Well, he's not here."
"How do you know?"
"I just looked everywhere. No hidden doors or anything with a room they could be hiding him in. I did find some stuff in one of the offices, but let's get out of here before someone finds us."
Lois nodded and led the way out of the dilapidated building. Soon the two friends were sitting in a sidewalk caf‚ looking over the information Jimmy had pilfered from the office.
It was hours later when Perry and Jimmy finally were able to take her home and post Lucy as sentry. There was still no sign of Clark and the leads were become more and more slim by the moment. The only reason Lois allowed herself to go home to sleep was because of her baby. If there was one thing she couldn't do, it was jeopardize the health of their child. She didn't understand why Clark didn't just get himself out of whatever situation he was in. He was Superman, for crying out loud. The only thing she could come up with was that there was someone watching him at all times and he couldn't use his powers without giving away who he was. Surely, he would get out of whatever dire situation he was in as soon as he could.
Lois opened the closet and took out her favorite shirt of Clark's — a large plaid button-up that absolutely engulfed her. She pulled it on and laid down on the bed she was now used to sharing with someone else. She curled up into a little ball — well, not quite as little as it used to be. She was already starting to show for anyone who looked closely enough. She thought she looked fat, but Clark thought she looked cute. She pushed the irrelevant thoughts out of her mind and pulled the little teddy bear he had won for her at the Smallville Corn Festival close. She let the tears begin to fall as she drifted off to sleep.
Lois wasn't able to sleep for long. The sun was just starting to creep over the horizon as she pulled on her favorite pair of jeans, thankful that they fit. It seemed that some days they did and some days they didn't. She'd have to remember to eat several small meals while she was out and about or she'd pop the button. She left Clark's shirt hanging out — there was no way it would fit inside — and snuck quietly into the living room. Lucy's even breathing told her that she could get by, if she was quiet.
Long minutes later, Lois climbed into her jeep and headed for the Planet. She didn't think Perry and Jimmy would be there yet, but she would be able to snoop around their desks and see what she could find.
It wasn't difficult to figure out where Perry and Jimmy were headed next. Apparently, they had both gone back to the office after they dropped Lois off and continued to search for leads. Just as Lois drove down the block toward the Daily Planet, she saw them just climbing into a cab, wearing the same clothes they had the day. She quickly changed direction and followed from a safe distance.
She wasn't surprised when the trip took them to the seedier part of town. The cab let them out at a warehouse that looked like it could fall over at anytime. She parked the jeep and followed them. It was obvious they were tired, because they never once "checked six" to see if anyone was following them. They also weren't doing a very good job of covering their tracks. Lois made sure the gate they had entered through looked like it was still locked.
She was as surprised as they were when she turned the corner of the building and almost ran right into Jimmy.
"Lois," Perry whispered in his best editor whisper. "What in tarnation are you doing here?"
Jimmy looked mildly concerned. "You didn't beat up Lucy did you?"
Lois rolled her eyes. "No, your girlfriend's safe. I snuck out while she was sleeping. And I'm not leaving, so what's the plan?"
Perry and Jimmy exchanged a look. There was no messing with her when she had that look on her face. They had both learned that the hard way.
Finally, Perry gave in. "There's no door around here. We can't get in."
"Nonsense." The indomitable Lois Lane took charge. "There's a window right there." She pointed to an impossibly small opening covered by glass that had been spray painted black.
Perry raised one eyebrow. "I don't think any of us are fitting through there."
"Lois, honey, you know I love you and I don't want to hurt your feelings, but we've all noticed that your clothes don't fit quite the same these days. That's understandable, with the baby coming and all, but I don't think you could have fit through there before you got pregnant."
Lois rolled her eyes at Perry again. "Well, I'm going to try anyway. Clark's nearby. I can feel it."
Perry and Jimmy exchanged another look.
"And stop doing that! Now, here's what we're going to do. We're going to look around and see if we can find another way in — a fire escape or something and if not then I'm going through the window. With your help or without it."
They searched around the entire building and finally decided that the only door was the one being guarded by a large man who was probably carrying a projectile weapon of some sort. There was a fire escape and it was decided that Jimmy and Lois would climb it while Perry stood look out behind some trash cans.
Before they started up, Jimmy handed Lois a small, hearing aid type device.
"Somehow, I knew you were going to be here, so I brought you one too. They're transmitters. Kind of like the Secret Service use only you don't have a separate microphone. If you even whisper, we'll hear you. And we can talk to you as well." He showed Lois the inside of his own ear. Sure enough, there was a similar piece of plastic. "I almost only got two, but I knew you'd show up sooner or later."
She fitted the piece in her ear and emptied her pockets to Perry. She didn't want her car keys jangling and giving her away. Besides, they were starting to dig into her leg. She almost wished she'd worn a pair of sweats instead. "Okay, let's go."
Jimmy and Lois slowly and carefully worked their way towards the top of the warehouse. When they reached the top landing, they realized that the only way in was through an opening in the boards that covered the doorway and the only one who would fit was Lois. They informed Perry and Lois snaked her way inside.
It took several minutes for her eyes to adjust to the darkness, but once they did, the ambient light was just enough to help her as she moved cautiously forward, keeping Perry and Jimmy apprised of everything she saw. She was on some kind of loft above the main floor of the warehouse itself. The boards were old and she had to watch where she put her feet or she might have fallen through old holes or created new ones. She stopped when she reached a hole that had considerable light showing through it. She found a safe place to kneel down and peered into the room below. There, on the floor, bound and gagged, was her husband.
Lois sat stunned. What could have happened to him to put him in this kind of situation? This was the Man of Steel after all.
His eyes opened and he looked at the ceiling, almost as though he knew she was there. Through his cracked glasses Lois could see him begging her for help. She could see pain, something she didn't know Clark could feel.
She whispered as loudly as she dared. "I found him, but I can't get to him. I don't think any of us can just yet. There's a hole in the floor and he's in the room below me. He's tied up and gagged. He looks beat up, but he's breathing and his eyes are open."
She heard Perry whisper back. "Did you see the news this morning, Lois?"
"No, I didn't want to wake Lucy up. Why?" She failed to see the importance of LNN reporting on another tabloid scandal.
"We probably should have told you this sooner, but after we dropped you off, they were on television. Someone's holding Clark ransom and they'll hold you too, if they find you."
"Ransom? Why didn't they contact me then? Not that I have any money or anything."
"They want Superman."
"WHAT?!" The half hiss, half whisper was louder than she expected.
Jimmy joined in. "He's right. If Superman doesn't turn himself over by noon tomorrow, something bad is going to happen to Clark. They're playing up their demands real big and since he hasn't shown up yet, they're saying he really doesn't care about his best friend with the pregnant wife."
"Oh, God." Tears started to form in Lois' eyes. There was no way Superman could just show up. He was already there. The only good thing was, his kidnappers didn't know it.
"Well, we'll figure something out." Lois was determined that this was going to end well for all of them. "Someone's coming."
She turned her attention to the unfolding drama below her.
"So, Mr. Kent. Still playing hard ball?" A burly man with long red hair yanked the duct tape off Clark's mouth. "All you have to do is call for Superman and we'll let you go."
Clark worked his jaw furiously, trying to get some emotion back into it. "Never." He couldn't begin to be grateful enough that he had changed into dark clothing before exploring the other warehouse. He couldn't wear the suit under his jeans, so it was tucked safely away in the inside pockets his mother had sown in many of his clothes. His shirt had been torn in several places. He dreaded hearing the explanation that was about to come, just as it had every time. An explanation right before this man kicked him or hurt him in some way and he blessedly blacked out.
The man opened a box sitting on a shelf near Clark. The green glow that emanated from the rock inside had a sinister look to it.
"See, this is Kryptonite. It was part of the planet Krypton and when Mr. Goody-two shoes shows up, it will incapacitate him. Just wait and see. Now, CALL HIM!"
Tears welled up in Lois' eyes as she watched her husband wince in pain. Whatever that rock really was, something was happening to Clark. Something bad.
The man shut the case. Lois couldn't watch as he kicked Clark a few times and placed another piece of tape over his mouth.
"We wouldn't want you calling him when we're not ready now would we?" And with that the man left. Tears welled up in Lois' eyes. It was almost too much seeing Clark like this. She didn't need this kind of stress and the baby certainly didn't either. At least that green stuff didn't seem to affect humans. Now if she could just find a way to get Clark out of there…
Suddenly, Lois felt a cramp in her lower abdomen. It was the same kind of cramp she'd been having off and on ever since the night at Antonio's. She had averaged about one a day, more when she was under stress. Her doctor always gave her the same advice. Go lie down, put her feet up and get rid of whatever was causing her stress at the time. So far it had worked but right now it wasn't an option. She shut her eyes, as the cramp grew worse. It had to be the worst one she had had to this point, but after a moment it passed.
The next twelve hours were monotonous. Perry checked the building several times to see if there was another way in, but there was none to be found. The three of them discussed in whispered tones the option of calling the police, but ruled it out. There were now two men standing guard, both of whom were circling the building at all times. There was no way for Perry to get away from the building without getting caught. Besides, these guys had promised if there was any sign of Metropolis' finest, Clark was a goner. Lois checked out the rest of the loft, hoping for a way down into the warehouse itself, but the only way down was a ladder that looked like it had been built shortly after the Pilgrims landed.
The man came back every two hours to recite the same little speech with the same results. Each time, as soon as he left, Lois felt a cramp in her abdomen. The stress of watching Clark go though such a horrid ordeal was really starting to tell on her. Normally, she would talk to the baby, but she didn't want Jimmy and Perry to know anything was wrong, so she sent strong thoughts. *Hang in there, little one. It's going to be okay. Daddy's going to be fine and so is Mommy. Just hang on and we'll get you out of here and some place more comfortable just as soon as we can. But we have to rescue Daddy first. Her hand often came to rest on the pooch that was their child's home. She was incredibly hungry, but didn't have any way of getting any food. There was no way she was leaving her vantage point until there was a way to rescue Clark.
She wasn't happy with Perry and Jimmy as they tried to convince her she needed to find a way to get down and get out of there so she could get something to eat and take care of herself and the baby. Jimmy couldn't get in through the boards without making a lot of noise, so she stayed put, unswayed by their arguments. Sure going for hours without food wasn't good for her or the baby, but she couldn't just leave Clark. She felt she was dealing okay with the cramps and that as soon as Clark was safely home, everything would be fine again. Besides, she asked Perry when he tried to convince her to come down again, weren't the other two guys still circling the building. He grudgingly admitted he hadn't been able to find a pattern to their pacing. Lois just said that it was out of the question until they could find a sure-fire way to know that they wouldn't get caught. No reason to give these guys more to blackmail Superman with.
After dark, the man came back and repeated his mantra. This time there was a slight change. As he put the tape over Clark's mouth, he commented to the unconscious man. "By the time you wake up, we'll have moved you somewhere else. It's too dangerous to stay here much longer." He called to an unseen third party. "Get in here. Ten minutes and we move."
Lois was frantically whispering to her two comrades as she made her way carefully towards the fire escape. "They're taking him somewhere else in ten minutes. He just called the other two guys inside. Chief, go get the Jeep, but don't let them see you. We'll get to you as soon as we can. We'll follow them wherever they're going and do something about it there." She could see Jimmy nod as she worked her way towards him.
"Sure thing, Lois," came the other voice that had helped keep her strong through the whole ordeal.
Jimmy helped her back through the small opening and they quickly went down the rickety old fire escape.
"I want to actually see them take Clark out and then we'll get in the Jeep. That door isn't visible from the main road, so there isn't much chance of them being seen dragging Clark out and there isn't anywhere we could park and still see it without getting spotted. Chief," she whispered into her ear piece.
"Where are you?"
"I'm at the Jeep."
"Take it to the alley, coming in from the next street over." She peered around the corner and saw a car facing the street she'd parked on. "Don't pull in until I tell you to. They're heading out the way we came in. As soon as they load up Clark and drive off, you pull into the alley and pick us up at the other end. We'll try to see which way they're going."
"Gotcha. I'll be there in just a minute."
Lois and Jimmy watched as three big men dragged the almost lifeless Clark into the alley.
"Man, this guy's heavy," one of them groaned.
"Deal with it. The boss ain't gonna be happy if he dies before the Boy Scout shows up."
Clark's eyes opened and he looked straight at Lois.
She was only able to mouth the words "I love you" before he disappeared into the van.
As soon as it pulled out and turned the corner, she and Jimmy ran to the other end of the alley to check which way it went, calling to Perry at the same time. They saw it heading straight as the silver Jeep pulled up next to them. They hopped in and began to follow the dark prison of Clark Kent.
"Where are they headed?" Lois wasn't completely comfortable letting Perry drive, but there hadn't been enough time to switch before following Clark and his captors.
"I don't know, darlin'. I sure wasn't expecting this part of town, that's for sure." They had followed the van towards an older, but very nice area of town.
The van stopped in front of a nice looking brownstone. Lois, Perry and Jimmy watched as the men looked around surreptitiously and then unloaded Clark into the house.
"How on earth are we going to get in there?" Perry was starting to look skeptical about being able to rescue Clark.
"We'll figure something out. We have to. I can't let those guys hurt Clark anymore." Tears welled up in Lois' eyes.
"I know darlin'. Here's what we're gonna do. Jimmy, you're going to wait here. Stay out of sight, but look around. I'm gonna take Lois and the littlest Kent and get us all something to eat." He gave Lois a no nonsense look and she shut her mouth quickly. "Make sure your ear thing is turned on and keep us up to date. We won't go far so we'll be able to hear you."
Jimmy nodded and climbed quietly out of the car.
"Why didn't you let me stay, Perry?" Lois exploded after their young friend left.
"I know how long it's been since you ate and you need something *now*. Clark will make it out of this alive, but I won't if I let anything happen to either one of you."
Lois rolled her eyes. "Nothing's going to happen, Perry. I promise."
"I'm taking no chances, Lois, so don't argue."
"Fine." Lois settled back into the passenger seat. "But I'm driving after we pick up the food."
Perry just concentrated on the road and said nothing.
Ten minutes later, they returned. Perry and Lois quickly finished their meals and Perry went to relieve Jimmy while he took his turn. He gave Lois strict instructions not to leave the Jeep until they had a better idea of what they were dealing with.
Lois listened and nodded at Perry's instructions. She even stayed in the Jeep until Perry was out of sight. As soon as he was, she opened the door and crept quietly towards the brownstone. She heard Jimmy's exclamation when he reached the vehicle.
"Sorry, guys. I couldn't wait any longer. I have to look for Clark."
She heard the sighs coming over her earpiece.
"Fine, Lois. I'm around the back trying to see in from here. So far, no luck."
Lois moved as close as she dared and looked through the window curtains. There was a sharp intake of breath as she saw the wall moving. "There's a secret room in there, you guys," she whispered. "I bet that's where Clark is."
"Okay, but we aren't doing anything about it until we know how it opens, if Clark's in there, if there's anybody in there with him and so on. Kapeesh?"
"Got it, Perry."
"I'm done eating, I'll be right there." Jimmy swallowed his last bite and headed for the house.
It was two hours later before there was even a semblance of a plan forming in the minds of the three partners. As best they could tell, there were three men in the building. The red head who had just finished threatening Clark again — Lois was glad she only felt a twinge this time, it must have been the food that helped her feel better — and the other two men who had helped drag Clark to the van.
It was almost midnight before they were ready to execute their plan. Whoever had planned this kidnapping had an intellect rivaled only by garden tools. There were no replacements and no rotation in guarding Clark. The redhead was upstairs somewhere. As far as the three reporters could tell there was only one real weapon in the house and that was with one of the men who was currently sound asleep on the couch.
Twenty minutes after the red head visited Clark in the secret room, they put their plan in motion.
All three of them moved silently up the front stairs. Lois promptly picked the lock and they entered the foyer. Fortunately, the inner door was unlocked. They went quietly inside.
It had been decided that Jimmy and Perry would try to disarm the man with the weapon first. They were able to do so successfully. There was only one tense moment as he stirred while they grabbed the 9-mm pistol. Lois was given the weapon and told to stand guard — Perry wasn't about to risk her if one of the men woke up unexpectedly. They quickly used the rope that Lois kept in the back of the Jeep — just in case — to tie the two men up. They used the duct tape lying on the table to cover their mouths. They then took the two men and dragged them into the kitchen, grateful that they were very heavy sleepers or, if the trash in the room was any indication, half inebriated.
Once that had been accomplished, they set the second half of their plan in motion. They turned the lights off and Jimmy knocked over a lamp, making enough noise to startle the man upstairs. As the red head called down to see what was happening. When there was no reply, he came downstairs to find out for himself.
As he reached the bottom, Jimmy hit him over the head with a crow bar, successfully incapacitating him. He was also tied up quickly. Perry and Jimmy took the crowbar and hastily checked upstairs to make sure there was no one else lurking in the house.
As soon as they were certain they were safe, Lois ran to the secret room and opened it the way she had seen the other men do. There, on the floor, lay her husband.
"Clark!" She ran to his side and pulled the duct tape off of his face. "Clark! Talk to me!" She pulled frantically at the ropes holding his arms behind his back unable to hold back the tears she had been fighting all day.
"The police and the paramedics are on their way, darlin'." Perry knelt at Clark's feet and began to undo the restraints there.
"Clark! Please, honey. Wake up." She patted his cheeks gently. "JIMMY! Get some water!" Lois' emotional state was rapidly deteriorating into hysterical. "Clark! Come on. Wake up." This time she was rewarded by a groan.
"Lois." The word was barely audible.
"I'm right here, Clark. Wake up. Come on. Please. Wake up."
Clark began to move, struggling to sit up.
"No, honey. Lay down. Don't move. The paramedics are on their way."
Clark lay back down with a groan. "Is that really you, Lois?"
"I'm right here, sweetie. You're going to be fine."
"I know, honey. Don't worry, we'll take care of it. It'll never hurt Superman. Now you just rest, okay." Lois took the glass of water from Jimmy and rearranged herself and Clark so his head was resting on her lap. "Drink some. Just a little." She helped Clark swallow a few sips.
"Better." He looked at Jimmy and Perry. "Please." He motioned with his eyes towards the living room.
Perry was the first to respond. "Uh, why don't we get Clark to the couch and then leave these two alone for a few minutes?"
Jimmy and Perry moved Clark to the couch. Lois grabbed the case that held the Kryptonite. She closed the wall and handed the case to Jimmy as soon as Clark was on the couch.
"Jimmy, go put this in the Jeep. NOW!"
"Lois, its evidence."
She gave Jimmy her best evil look. "Just do it. I'll explain later."
Jimmy nodded and left the room.
"Perry, could you give us a minute?" Perry nodded and went out front to wait for emergency services. She knelt at Clark's side. "Clark, are you okay?"
"I think so. I'm sore and bruised and I really don't like it."
"I guess that stuff really can hurt you?"
"I don't know what it was. There were men in the warehouse and they opened the case. I had this headache and things got all fuzzy. The next thing I knew, I was tied up and they were telling me to call for Superman." He managed a rueful grin. "Little do they know."
"Are you sure you're okay?"
Clark nodded carefully. "I think I will be. A couple of bruised ribs and some cuts and scrapes but other than that, I think I'm okay." He took a deep breath. "Except for one thing."
"I don't have any of my powers."
"They're gone. I thought I saw you from the warehouse they were holding me in, looking through a hole in the ceiling, but when I tried to use my vision to see you or my hearing to pick up your heartbeat, I couldn't. And it's obvious I'm not invulnerable right now."
"I know." He smiled again. "I'll be home a lot more."
"Oh, Clark. As much as I don't like you leaving all the time, I know how much you need to."
"But if I don't have any powers…"
"Clark, you've never been exposed to this stuff before. Maybe they'll come back."
Clark didn't look too hopeful. "Maybe. I did feel a little better by the time he'd come back, but then he'd open the dang case again. I think it was made of lead. I can't see through lead, so maybe if that stuff is in lead, it doesn't affect me."
"As long as the case was closed it didn't bother you?"
"Good. Then as soon as you're better, we'll throw the case into the sun."
"*If* I get better."
"*When* you get better." Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of emergency services.
It was almost eight o'clock by the time they got back to their apartment. The bad guys had been taken away and Clark had been told to take it easy for a few days, but that he'd be fine. They managed to keep him out of the hospital, which they felt was a very good thing. They didn't know if or when his powers would come back and if they did, if it was like someone who had been crippled temporarily — if he'd have to learn to use them all over again, just like someone with a spinal injury had to learn to walk again.
Lois managed to catch a couple hours of sleep on one of the couches in the brownstone while the police were talking to Clark, Perry and Jimmy. She never left her husband's side, stretching out so that he cradled her head while he answered the questions.
By the time they made it home, Clark was past exhaustion and he collapsed onto the bed he shared with Lois. Lois struggled to take his shoes off and help him get comfortable. They had both been through so much in the last few days, but Clark even more than she had. It was amazing that they had gotten out at all.
And they had gotten the Kryptonite from whoever it was that kidnapped them. Lois was sure that California Breezes Imports Limited was the actual power behind the kidnapping and the attempt on Superman's life. Good thing they didn't know how close they had gotten to the superhero.
Clark moaned as he rolled over.
"It's okay, Clark. It's all over. We're home." Lois covered him with the sheet. "I'm going to turn the ringer off so that you can get some sleep." Lois smiled as she realized that her husband was already asleep. As she trudged back through the apartment, that was rapidly becoming littered with the things their growing household needed, reminding her of one of the fights they were having. It had started two weeks earlier when they had gone house hunting. Or apartment hunting. Or anything bigger than this apartment that they could actually afford hunting. Or whatever.
Lois knew that she and Clark had been raised in very different homes with very different parents. She wanted to live in Metropolis, close to the action. Clark wanted to live in the suburbs, arguing that if he really needed to, he could have them in town in matter of seconds. Besides, he had pointed out, it would be better for the baby to grow up with the green space and room to play without his or her parents worrying about the cars in the street.
Clark did have a small point, Lois would admit. The homes they could afford in the suburbs were much larger and nicer than the townhouses they could afford in Metropolis itself. That would be nice, the more room that is, but Lois couldn't imagine living outside of the fast-paced city. And the commute would take forever without using the S- express on a regular basis and that was dangerous. She sighed as she touched a cape in the secret hiding spot in the front closet. She was almost beginning to hate the idea of Superman. It was Superman who took Clark away from her and her baby so often. She could never hate Clark, but she could hate that he was gone so much.
Lois sighed once again as she picked up her keys. Her doctor's appointment was in two and a half hours and she had errands to run. She was exhausted, though the nap had done her some good. Taking care of the beat-up Clark hadn't been an easy task. He tried to be a good patient, but since he wasn't used to being sick, it didn't work very well. Lois was grateful that he had fallen asleep so quickly.
She waited impatiently until well after the time of her scheduled appointment. She used the extra wait time to brood, turning over in her mind any and all arguments she could use to convince Clark that the city really was the best place for them.
She also worried about what had happened right after she left home that morning. Fortunately, she hadn't cleaned her purse out in forever and had what she needed to take care of the problem — for now. She didn't even want to think about it. She'd tell the doctor, but until then she pushed it out of her mind.
To tell or not to tell. That was the question. She and Clark had argued endlessly over whether or not to tell the doctor that Clark was from Krypton. Clark himself hadn't even known until about a month ago when they were investigating a rogue government agency and he had found this globe thing. It had told him about his past, some of it anyway, and how he came to live on Earth. It was one of the investigations that had led to her sitting behind a desk most of the time. She wanted to tell the doctor in case there was something different about the baby, but Jonathan had pounded into Clark's head over and over since he was a child that if anyone found out that he was different, they would take him away and dissect him like a frog. He didn't want that to happen to him or to their baby.
It seemed they just couldn't agree on anything these days. Well, at least about the important things. Lois understood why she needed to take it easy — her current predicament was an indication that Clark and Perry were right — but the house and the baby were something else. They couldn't agree to disagree, like they did with simple issues — which ice cream was their favorite, or whether Mel Gibson was a better action hero than Bruce Willis — because these were things that they had to deal with soon.
And Superman wasn't going anywhere.
Finally, her name was called.
Lois followed the nurse to the exam room. She grimaced when her favorite nurse, Amber, told her that she had gained four more pounds. Amber laughed and said that was about right for this far in her pregnancy.
"I still don't have to like it."
"I know. Dr. Moore will be in to see you in just a minute."
"Thanks, Amber. You're the best."
Amber smiled as she shut the door behind her.
Four and half minutes later, according to Lois' watch, there was a knock at the door.
"Good morning, Lois."
"Hi, Dr. Moore."
"How are you doing? Are you taking it easy?"
"I'm trying to, but…" Lois was hesitant to mention what she had noticed. The implications scared her, but she knew she had to tell her doctor. "That's not good enough, young lady. Now what aren't you telling me?" Dr. Moore's face looked stern.
"I'm spotting. Heavy. Really heavy."
Dr. Moore's face immediately became concerned. "When did this start?"
"A couple of hours ago. It started kinda light and has gotten heavier since." Lois took a deep breath. "And I've been having some cramps."
Dr. Moore looked grim.
"Please tell me."
"Lois, I don't know that anything is wrong. Not really. We need to do some tests to see for sure. Can you call your husband? I'd rather you weren't alone."
"Dr. Moore, did you hear about the attempt to blackmail Superman?"
"Of course. It was all over the news yesterday. What about it?"
"It was Clark. After we got home this morning, I turned the ringer off, so I couldn't call him if I wanted to."
"Is there anyone else you can call?"
"I can try."
"Okay. I'm going to leave you alone for a minute. You'll need to get ready for the exam." He handed Lois a sheet and she grimaced. "I know it's uncomfortable, but we have to make sure the baby is okay."
Lois slammed her cell phone shut in frustration. Of course Clark couldn't hear the phone, but she had to try anyway, hoping that he had woken up and turned it on. She had tried her neighbors and her super to see if they would go wake him, but no one was home. Finally, she called her sister. If Clark couldn't be here with her, maybe Lucy could.
"Hi. You've reached Jimmy and Lucy. We're not…"
Lois stifled a scream as she punched the "end" button. Who else could she call? She didn't want to go through this alone, but Perry or Jimmy just didn't fit the bill.
There was a knock and then the door opened. Dr. Moore and Amber came in.
"Lois, I know this is going to be uncomfortable, but we have to do this." Lois nodded understanding at Dr. Moore's words.
Amber stood by Lois and held her hand.
A few minutes later it was over.
"Why don't you get dressed and we'll talk about it, okay?"
Lois nodded again.
As the door shut behind them, Lois struggled against the tears that threatened to overflow her eyes. Why wasn't Clark here when she really needed him? Once again, the fact that he was Superman and from another planet was keeping him from being there for her. If he wasn't, the Kryptonite wouldn't have had an effect on him at all, just like it hadn't affected her. In fact, if he wasn't from Krypton, he wouldn't be Superman in the first place and they wouldn't have tried to blackmail him. Surely, Dr. Moore would have told her if it was good news. Only bad news would have to wait.
Amber came in with Dr. Moore this time as well. Lois thought that couldn't be a good sign.
Dr. Moore pulled the stool up to sit by Lois. Amber stood behind her.
"Lois, I have some bad news."
That was all Lois could take. Until he had uttered those words, she could convince herself that maybe everything was really all right, but now… Now… her world was shattering. Silent tears began to stream down her face.
"Lois, this isn't easy to tell you, but you are miscarrying your baby."
Amber stepped a little closer and put her arms around Lois' shoulder.
"Because of how far along you are in the miscarrying process, we need to do a dilitation and cutterage, or D and C, to empty your uterus before other problems occur. Amber is going to take you to another part of the hospital where the procedure can be done." Dr. Moore hesitated. "Lois, this isn't easy. I know that. I wish Clark could be here with you. He wants this baby as badly as you do; I could see that when you came for your last appointment. Take some time off work, spend it together and grieve over the child you've lost. There doesn't seem to be any damage, so you should be able to conceive again whenever you are ready to try. But don't push yourself until *you and Clark* are ready. I have a break from appointments, so I'll be down to do the procedure myself." Dr. Moore stood to leave. "I'm sorry, Lois. I really am."
Lois turned to Amber and let herself weep.
Amber pushed the wheelchair with Lois in it down the hall towards another part of the hospital.
"Lois?" A worried voice shook Lois out of her deep thoughts.
"Mom." Lois reached up for the hug that was coming. "What are you doing here?"
"I was visiting a friend of mine who had surgery. What's wrong, Lois? What is it?"
The tears had begun streaming down Lois' face again.
"I lost the baby, Mom." It was all Lois could do to get the words out — almost as if she felt it wasn't real until she said the words aloud.
"What? Where's Clark?"
"He doesn't know. He spent the weekend kidnapped and I turned the ringer off so he could sleep. I couldn't find anyone to wake him up."
"That bastard! Letting you come here by yourself." Ellen had never been fond of her son-in-law and never missed a chance to let Lois know how she felt.
"Mom, there was no way he could have known."
"Well, I'm staying with you."
"It's okay. You don't have to."
"I'm staying." Ellen was adamant.
"Fine." Lois didn't have the energy to fight anymore and anyone was better than doing this by herself.
Five hours later, Ellen helped Lois out of the car.
"I want to go home, Mom."
"Honey, they said that you need to have someone with you at all times for the next few hours. Clark is obviously in no condition to take care of you right now." A few choice words were mumbled under her breath.
"Mom. Please. I've been through enough today without dealing with your hatred for Clark."
"Fine. Now let's get into my apartment and let you lay down." Ellen helped Lois into the apartment and into the spare bedroom. Lois lay down on the bed and curled up into a little ball.
A minute later, Ellen came back into the room with a glass of water and some medicine. "Here. The doctor said for you to take this to help you sleep." Lois obediently swallowed the pill and laid her head back down.
"Please get hold of Clark for me. Try anywhere. Get Jimmy to go to the apartment and get him or something, but I need Clark. Please, Mom. I know you don't like him, but I need him right now."
Ellen put a reassuring hand on her daughter's back. "I'll do my best," she said, glad Lois wasn't looking at her. If she had been, her intuitive offspring would have known that Ellen had no such intention.
"Can I help you?" Ellen answered the door.
"I am looking for Ms. Lane."
"And you are?"
"Lex Luthor, ma'am. A friend of Ms. Lane's."
Ellen almost tripped over herself trying to let the man in. "I… I know who you are, Mr. Luthor. Please come in."
Luthor entered the tastefully decorated apartment. "Is Ms. Lane in?"
"She's sleeping right now. She's had a difficult day."
"So I heard. That's why I'm here. A, ah, friend of mine from the hospital knew that Ms. Lane and I are close and informed me of the tragic news. Is her husband around?"
"No, the S. O. B. didn't even have the decency to go with her to the doctor's office when she was having problems." Ellen's eyes flashed fire.
Luthor smiled to himself as he sat on the couch. "I'm sure he would have been there, had he known."
"Oh, probably not. He was too busy sleeping." Ellen sighed. "Lois wants me to call him, but I don't want him anywhere near my daughter."
"Perhaps you have another plan?"
"I don't know. As soon as she wakes up, she'll call him herself."
"Well, I'm not usually the devious type, but it seems that if Lois thinks that Clark knows…" Luthor trailed off.
Ellen's eyes lit up. She stood and started pacing. "If she thinks that Clark knows and doesn't want to be here for her, she'll kick him to the curb."
"Perhaps. But how to make sure that Clark doesn't come looking?"
"Well, I could leave him a message that she has decided to stay with me and that she doesn't want him to call. She'll call him sometime soon, after she sorts some things out."
"It could work." Luthor smiled. He held the bag in his hand out. "This is for Lois, as soon as she's up to it. Antonio's. I know that she loves their fettuccini alfredo and chocolate cake."
"I'll put it in the fridge for whenever she wants it." Ellen took the bag and walked into the kitchen. When she returned, her guest was standing.
"I must go, Mrs. Lane." Luthor held out his hand. When she took it, he held it to his lips. "Until next time…"
Ellen was speechless as he walked out the door. Why couldn't her daughter have picked a man like him?
Clark listened to the message for the fifth time, the look of disbelief still evident on his face.
"… and Lois doesn't want you to call or come by. She needs some time to sort some things out. She'll call you in a couple of days. Please, respect her wishes."
Clark pushed the stop button. He couldn't believe what his ears had heard over and over. Ellen's voice telling him his wife didn't want anything to do with him. He swallowed hard, wishing he could call his own mother and get some advice, but he couldn't. His parents were on safari in Africa and he was still suffering the effects of the Kryptonite he had been exposed to over the weekend, so he couldn't fly to them. He didn't even know if his powers would come back.
He sighed. He wondered what could have happened to make Lois want nothing to do with him. He reached over and turned the computer on. Maybe he could get some work done.
Maybe he should go over there anyway. Why should he trust Ellen? She had never made a secret of her feelings for him. He clicked on the email icon. Maybe there was a lead on who was really behind the kidnapping and attempted extortion of Superman.
He was shocked when he saw an email from his wife. He didn't understand why she would email him instead of just calling him or coming home. He looked more closely at the address. It wasn't her work email, but one of those free ones on the Internet. He clicked on the open icon and read the words that appeared on the screen.
This is difficult for me to say. We've been having some problems lately — you know what they are — and I need some time to sort things out. I am staying with my mom for right now. I can't get to my Planet email from her computer so I had to set up another account. Please don't try to come by or contact me. I'll get in touch with you again soon. I won't be at work for a while, so don't look for me there either.
Clark sat stunned. It was true. Lois didn't want anything to with him.
Lois woke crying to find her mother rushing into the room.
"Lois? Are you okay? You were screaming?"
Lois couldn't speak through the sobs.
Ellen sat down and gathered her daughter in her arms.
A few minutes later, Lois was able to talk. "Mom, where's Clark?"
"He never came, honey."
"I left him a message, tried everything, but he never came."
Lois sniffed back some more tears. "It's all true, isn't it? The baby's gone?"
"Yes, Lois." Ellen had never been the world's best mother, but she did love her daughters in her own way. "Here." She held out another pill and a glass of water.
"Not yet, Mom. I'm hungry."
"Well, that nice Mr. Luthor came by and dropped off some Antonio's for you."
"Lex?" She hadn't seen him much since he had shown up at her apartment and been thrown out by Superman. "What was he doing here?"
"He has a friend who works in the hospital who heard about what happened and contacted him. He came by while you were sleeping."
"Oh." Lois sat down at the kitchen table as her mother reheated the pasta.
Oh, if only Clark was here. He loved pasta and she loved what pasta did to him. That wasn't really an option now, but she still needed her husband. They didn't see eye to eye on everything but she loved her husband and knew that he loved her. There was no way that she would ever doubt that. She really needed to be held in his arms right now, to cry and to know that he was crying with her. He would be just as devastated as she was when he found out. He had wanted the baby even worse than she did. It was something he had wanted his whole life. A family of his own. And now it wouldn't happen anytime soon. It would be a long time before Lois was ready to try this again. She knew that this wasn't something she'd just "get over". She would need the love and support of Clark and he would need hers. If only he was here now…
He would have heated the pasta up a lot faster, too.
Lois sighed. She missed him desperately and she wasn't even sure why.
Clark spent an uneasy night tossing and turning in the bed he normally shared with Lois. Man, he missed her. Whatever was wrong they could work it out together. They were stronger together than either one of them were alone, even him. He had spend most of his life alone and, until he met Lois in Washington D. C. the summer after his senior year in high school, he hadn't been sure that he would ever find the *one*. The first time he saw her in that hotel he knew that he would find her again and someday they would be together. And it had been even more wonderful than anything he had ever dreamed of. Being with Lois was magical, it was… *right*. Something had clicked between them. He would always love her, no matter what they went through, nothing would ever change that. There was nothing she could do, nothing anyone could do, to make him stop loving her — and he knew she felt the same way. He wondered if she was missing him like he was missing her. He wished he could spin into the Superman suit and fly away for awhile — maybe go down to the Caribbean and sit on the sand and think, but that was not to be. He couldn't even float at the moment, much less fly off.
He rolled over again, punching the pillow with his fist. The tears finally started to flow as the feathers flew around the room.
"What in the name of Elvis are you doing here?"
"I thought I'd get some work done, Chief." Clark sat at his desk, trying desperately not to look towards Lois' desk.
"We just finished unkidnapping you 24 hours ago and…"
"It's been a little longer than that, Chief."
"But you still look exhausted. Besides, shouldn't you be with Lois?"
"Isn't she here?" Clark didn't really expect her to be, but tried to look incredulous anyway.
"No, of course not."
"She, uh, wasn't at home when I woke up this morning. I figured she'd be here getting some work done, trying to find out who kidnapped me."
"Well, she's not. And if you know what's good for you, you'll get out of here and get some rest."
"Sure, Chief." Clark sat there for a few more minutes and finally walked slowly to Lois' desk. He sat there and then opened the top drawer, just wanting to see some of her things.
He was surprised at what he found there. He pulled out the pamphlet about Metropolis Reproductive Services and Clinic. He opened it, idly wondering what story Lois was on with this particular group. Maybe there was some illegal stem cell research or selling of fetal material that she was set to expose. The pamphlet boasted about all of the services that were provided at Metropolis General Hospital, including information about contraception, annual exams, and family planning, but Clark knew it was a thin cover for what was essentially only an abortion clinic. He didn't agree with the philosophy of or theory behind abortion on a personal level, but he guessed he understood a woman's right to choose, especially if the father didn't want the child either.
In reality, of course, it wasn't that simple. The theory of choice was fine, but his mother couldn't have children and if it hadn't been for the destruction of Krypton, they would probably have never had any. There weren't enough children up for adoption in the public system and there was no way his parents could have afforded a private adoption. He knew there were many sets of potential parents out there who were in similar situations and he just figured that maybe adoption would be a viable option instead of abortion for those women. It was one of the biggest gripes against the Reproductive Clinic — they counseled for abortions, not options.
He shrugged. Whatever Lois was looking into could wait. He was glad that he wasn't faced with the reality of the mother of his child struggling with that decision. Lois wanted their baby as badly as he did. For that he was truly grateful.
Clark took the pamphlet and walked towards the office of his editor. "Hey, Perry, do you know what Lois was investigating at the Reproductive Clinic?"
Perry looked puzzled. "I have no idea, son. She hasn't mentioned anything to me about it if she is investigating them. There's all kinds of seedy things they *could* be involved in, but I don't remember them ever doing, or even being seriously looked at, for any kind of illegal activity. Why?"
"Oh, I just found a pamphlet in her desk and figured it was the beginning of some research she was doing."
"Sorry, son. Nothing that I know of. Now get out of here and get some rest."
"Yes, sir." Clark stuck the pamphlet in his pocket and headed out of the newsroom. For some reason, he couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. He wished he could go check out Ellen's place as Superman and check on Lois, but his powers weren't back yet. His hearing seemed to be improving and that was a definite plus, but there was no sign of x-ray vision, floating or flight, and he couldn't believe how long it took to make coffee without heat vision. He sighed. There really wasn't much he could do except wait for Lois to respond to the email he had sent her.
"Hi, Mom!" Lucy breezed into the living room the next morning.
Ellen tied her robe around her. "What are you doing here, Lucy?"
"Just wanted to see my mom. What's so wrong about that?"
"Nothing." Ellen cursed mentally. Lucy wasn't supposed to be here. What was she going to tell her younger daughter?
"Isn't that Lois' purse?"
Ellen sighed. So much for hoping Lucy wouldn't notice. "Yes, it is."
"Where is she?" Lucy looked around the room. "I haven't seen her in ages."
Lucy became concerned. "What? Is everything okay?"
"Then why is she here and not at home?"
"She and Clark have been having some problems." Ellen knew this from Lex, who she had been in contact with several times in the last couple of days. The man had friends everywhere.
"Oh?" Lucy had heard something from Jimmy, who was in on the office gossip, but neither one had paid much attention to the rumors.
Ellen took a deep breath. She had to phrase this carefully. "When she went to the doctor the other day, she had a D and C. Clark didn't want anything to do with it so she went by herself. I ran into her and I couldn't let my baby be alone."
Lucy was confused. She thought she knew what a D and C was but she wasn't sure. She'd have Jimmy research it for her. If it was what she thought it was, it wasn't good. For Clark, Lois or the baby.
"Lucy, I hate to be abrupt, but I have some things that I need to do and Lois really doesn't want to be disturbed."
"Oh, okay. I'll, uh, see you later." Lucy walked out the door and went straight to the Planet.
"Jimmy, I need to talk to you now." Lucy wasted no time finding her boyfriend.
Jimmy looked up. "Hey, sweetheart." He put one arm around her waist. "What a great surprise. I love seeing you."
"Now, Jimmy. Is there somewhere we can go to talk in private?"
Jimmy was stunned by the intensity in Lucy's voice. "Sure. The conference room." He took her hand and led her across the room.
Lucy quickly told him what she had learned that morning. Jimmy sat at the rarely used computer in the conference room and quickly tried to find the information on a medical web site.
"A D and C is a dilitation and cutterage, most commonly used to empty the contents of the uterus after an abortion. Also used after an incomplete miscarriage and in certain other cases." Jimmy read the description off the screen. "Do you think that Lois lost the baby?"
Lucy's head fell back over the top of the chair and she let out the deep breath she had been holding. "That's not what it sounded like. It sounded like the procedure was optional. Mom said that Clark didn't want anything to do with it so Lois was by herself."
"But that doesn't make any sense. Lois wanted the baby as badly as Clark did."
"I know. Maybe it has something to do with the rumors you said had been flying around here. You said at least one of the fights they've been having had something to do with the baby."
Jimmy sighed. He looked out the window of the conference room and saw the dejected Clark Kent sitting at his desk. It was his first day back after being kidnapped in an effort to get to Superman. Clark was reading what appeared to be an email. He abruptly stood and walked aimlessly toward the conference room.
Lucy and Jimmy shared a look. Whatever he had just read, it didn't look good.
It had been all Clark could do to come to work that day. He missed Lois desperately. To sit at his desk and see hers so close and so empty was almost more than he could handle, but it was something he had to do. The pictures that sat on both desks were almost too much. Lois had one of the two of them that they had taken on the beach on their island in the Caribbean — a close-up of their laughing faces — and his was a professional one they had done about a month earlier. They looked so happy. But even so, he couldn't afford to lose his job on top of everything else. Besides just missing Lois, something else was bothering him, something he could quite put his finger on, but he couldn't help but think that it had something to do with the baby.
His powers had been slowly returning. He was grateful that he was almost back to normal, but he was going to have to come up with an explanation about where Superman had been for the last few days. It would be so much easier if Lois was here to help him.
After he left the Planet the day before, he had run down some leads in regards to his disappearance, but so far, nothing was materializing.
After he booted up his computer, he noticed a new email from his wife. There hadn't been another one since that first night and the couple of times he tried to call Ellen's he'd gotten an error message from the phone company. He clicked eagerly on the email, hoping that this one would explain everything.
This is another email that is not easy for me to write. I have been doing a lot of thinking the last couple of days. I have to tell you something and I really don't want to see you while I do it. Things have been difficult between us for a long time now, you know that as well as I do. The baby is part of the reason why. I hope you are sitting down as you read this next part, because I know it will be hard for you, but I know that in the long run, you'll agree with me that it is for the best.
The baby is gone, Clark. There is no baby anymore. I'm sorry to tell you this in an email, but you need to know. Things just aren't working out for us and the baby was another complication. It's better this way. You and I both know it. I won't be back at work for another two weeks. By then, maybe you'll understand.
Clark stood up and started walking, unsure of his direction. He opened the door that seemed to appear out of nowhere in front of him and entered the conference room. He didn't even notice Jimmy and Lucy sitting there. He placed his hands on the table and lowered himself slowly to a chair.
Jimmy and Lucy shared another look. Something was wrong, that much was obvious. But did he know? By unspoken agreement, Lucy hung back as Jimmy approached his friend.
He placed a hand on Clark's shoulder. "CK, what's wrong?"
Clark stared at the table and answered in a voice that left doubt that he was aware his surroundings. "The baby. The baby's gone."
Tears spilled over onto Lucy's cheeks.
Jimmy gulped hard. He didn't know how to deal with something like this.
Clark continued to speak, unaware of what he was doing. "I haven't seen her in almost three days. I knew something was wrong. I think I even knew that something was wrong with the baby, but I never dreamed the baby could be gone. What happened?" He looked pleadingly at Jimmy. "Please, someone tell me what happened."
Jimmy took a deep breath. "We're not sure, Clark. Ellen told Lucy that Lois had a D and C, a procedure that empties the contents of the uterus as part of an abortion or a miscarriage."
A tiny glimmer of hope came into Clark's eyes. "A miscarriage? You mean Lois lost the baby?" As horrid as that would be, he couldn't believe that Lois would consider the alternative — she had told him she wouldn't.
Jimmy took another deep breath. "That's not what it sounded like, CK. I'm sorry."
It was frightening to see a grown man cry, something else that Jimmy had never had to deal with, but now he had no choice. Clark lowered his head to the table and sobs wracked his body. It explained so much to know that the baby was gone, but to think that Lois would actually take the life of her baby, of their baby, was just too much. It overwhelmed him and he did the only thing he knew how.
Several minutes later the door to the conference room opened and the gruff editor walked in, his intended reprimand cut short by the sight before him. Clark's head was on the table and his shoulders were shaking with now- silent sobs. Lucy sat in the chair across from him, tears running down her cheeks. Jimmy stood behind Lucy, hands on her shoulders, swallowing hard and looking generally helpless.
As soon as Jimmy saw Perry, he squeezed Lucy's shoulders and walked to Perry's side. In quiet tones, he told the editor what had happened. Perry's face turned grim as he tried to comprehend what he was told. Finally, he went and stood next to Clark as Jimmy returned to Lucy's side.
"Son, why don't you go on home?"
Clark raised his head and took a swipe at his face with the backs of his hands. "Thanks, Chief." He had no idea what he would do when he got there, or if he would even make it all the way home, but he couldn't stay here. As much as he hated them, he almost wished for a large natural disaster or two that required Superman's assistance. At least then he would be too busy for his tortured mind to dwell on the events of the day.
After Clark left, the other three sat to discuss what had happened. Perry was adamant that the news not get out. Lois and Clark would tell whomever they wanted, whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Until then, the rumor mill was to be silent. Lucy and Jimmy nodded. Perry took a brief call and then informed Jimmy that he was to deliver Lois' laptop to Ellen's. The three shared an anguished look as they left the room to attend to their respective duties.
Lois had spent most of the first two days after her miscarriage sleeping and crying. She had eaten a couple of times; Lex had brought by some incredible food, but she hadn't actually seen him. And she hadn't seen or heard from Clark, no matter how many times her mom had called him. She had seen him on television earlier that day, as Superman at the scene of a mudslide in Asia and later at a large earthquake in California, and heard his lame excuse for being gone for a few days. At least his powers were back. She knew how happy he'd be about that. He didn't apologize for not giving into the demands of kidnappers or anything else, saying he knew the situation was under control and that he didn't want to give the kidnappers any excuse for hurting his good friend, Clark Kent. She had been worried about him, hoping that he felt better, but now that she knew that he was back in commission as Superman she knew he was more than well enough to come be with her — if he wanted to.
Lois had talked to Perry for a minute earlier in the day. He had seemed cold and distant and something that she couldn't place. He had agreed to send Jimmy by with her laptop for her. She needed to get back to work, but she couldn't face going in to the Planet yet. She informed Perry that she had been through a traumatic emotional experience and that she was taking two weeks of her vacation time. She was going to try to get some work done, but she wasn't coming in for another week and half. Something still didn't feel right. It was more than just losing the baby, more than just losing Clark.
She didn't know what made her think she was losing Clark. Probably that she hadn't seen him in about three days. But there was still something bigger, something deeper, that was wrong in her life — she just didn't know what it was.
There had been periods of dreamless drug-induced sleep followed by horrible nightmares that included her baby mocking her and Clark lashing out, telling her what a horrible person she was to kill her own baby.
She tried to convince herself that she hadn't killed her baby — intellectually she knew that — it was just one of those things — but convincing her heart was another matter.
She sighed. Jimmy would be here in a few minutes.
"Hi, Jimmy." Lois opened the door to see her young friend standing there.
"Lois." He pushed passed her and set the bag on the table. "Here's your laptop. Perry says not to bother coming in for two weeks, if that's what you really want." He looked around in irritation. "Anything else?"
Lois sat on the couch. "Please. Sit. Talk to me."
Jimmy sat on the edge of the chair. "Sure. What?"
"Um, well," Lois was starting to feel uncomfortable, picking up some vibe she didn't understand. She looked at her hands. "Have you seen, Clark?" She was hoping that he hadn't. That maybe Clark was still sick and really hadn't gotten any messages. Even though she knew there was no way that could be true, not with the man in blue around.
"Yeah. He was in today. For the first time since the kidnapping."
"Really? Did he say anything?" Lois wasn't sure what to hope for.
Jimmy took a deep breath. She sure was being vague. He decided to just take the bull by the horns. "He knows, Lois. And so do we. Your mom told Lucy and Lucy told me. Clark found out, too, but I'm not sure how."
"And he doesn't want to see me?"
Jimmy stood and walked to the door. As he started to walk out, he turned. "Lois, I don't think he wants anything to do with you." He paused. "And I don't blame him."
Lois watched him leave and then gave in to her tears.
An hour later, Lois finally pulled herself together, wiped her tears and decided it was time to get to work. Even if Clark didn't want anything to do with her, she still wanted to know who was really behind his kidnapping. While she waited for her computer to boot up, she went to the kitchen to get the last piece of the chocolate cake Lex had left for her and a glass of milk. She was glad her mom didn't like chocolate all that much — it was that much more cake for her and she needed all the chocolate she could get these days.
She opened her email program and was surprised to see an email from Clark. After what Jimmy had said it was the last thing she expected. She opened the file eagerly, noting it was sent the same day she miscarried, and she hoped to find an explanation for his absence.
This isn't easy for me to say. I talked to your mom earlier and she told me what was going on. I know we've had problems lately, so maybe we should just take some time apart to sort through everything. I won't be at work for a few days, in fact I'm thinking about taking some time off, so don't try to contact me there. I'll be in touch in a few days. I don't want to use my work email for this, just in case, so I got another account to use. I just wish you had another one so that this could stay our business and no one else's. No one needs to know what is going on but us.
As she read the email, it was obvious that he knew about the baby and just wasn't going to do anything about it. She even noticed his new email address. He really didn't want anyone to know.
The tears started to flow again as she put down the empty cake plate. She walked into the spare bedroom and curled up in a ball, crying herself to sleep again.
Clark hovered just outside his apartment. He didn't know what fates had decided to produce a mudslide and earthquake, but he was grateful. For several mind-numbing hours, he hadn't thought about Lois or the baby. He x- rayed the apartment to see if Lois had been there, but there was no sign that she had.
He flew inside fast enough that any nosy neighbor wouldn't notice and sat wearily on the couch. A complication. That was what Lois had called the baby. He didn't understand what she meant. Of all the things the baby had been, a complication had never been one of them. There had been some problems, sure, but one of the first things Lois had said to him when she found out that she was pregnant, was that she would never consider an abortion.
The pamphlet he had picked up from her desk was sitting on the coffee table. He picked it up and stared at it. Could it be? Could she have really been planning this for a while? Without even talking to him about it? She had told him so many times that she truly believed a big part of marriage was complete and total honesty and they had vowed to always talk to each other, no matter what. Apparently, she had gone back on that. Ellen had told Lucy that Lois had an abortion. He got an email from Lois telling him the baby was a "complication" that she'd taken care of. There was the pamphlet he had found. It all added up. Lois had an abortion. Deep inside, he desperately wanted to believe that it wasn't true. That even if the baby was gone, it had been some kind of accident or something, not an abortion, but even as he wished it were true, something told him the evidence pointed towards an intentional ending of the pregnancy.
It was hard for him to think in clinical terms. This wasn't some abstraction — this was his child. His child and Lois' child. He hadn't told her because he knew she'd be mad, but he really couldn't help hearing the baby's heartbeat almost a week earlier. He had even snuck a peek with his x-ray vision. There, inside of Lois, was this tiny little person that even looked like a person, just really small. He knew that Lois hadn't heard the heartbeat yet, and that she wouldn't have an ultrasound for over a month, so maybe it was easier for her to regard this child as something of an abstraction.
He stood and went into the kitchen, hoping that a cup of tea would help soothe his frazzled nerves. He searched for the bag of tea and was completely shocked by what he found.
There, in the kitchen drawer, was another pamphlet from the Reproductive Clinic, this one strictly about the performance of abortions. And stapled to it was an appointment card.
The date the appointment was made was one day the week before and the date of the appointment was the previous Monday. So while he had been sleeping, trying to recover from the kidnapping and the Kryptonite, Lois had been at the Reproductive Clinic, taking care of a "complication" in her life.
Thinking he had been cried out before couldn't stop the tears that came from knowing what had happened to his child.
"He hasn't called, Mom."
"I know, sweetie."
"You're sure he knows?"
"You actually talked to him and told him that I miscarried the baby?"
Ellen rolled her eyes. "I told you, Lois. He knows."
Lois sighed. It was now Friday and she hadn't talked to Clark all week. She had read his email and really didn't expect anything different. But all the same, all she wanted was for Clark to show up and fly away with her into the clouds, but it wasn't going to happen any time soon.
There was a knock on the door. Ellen opened it to reveal a dashing Lex Luthor. "Hello, Lex." She extended one hand.
He bent over to kiss it, never taking his eyes off of Lois. "Good evening, Mrs. Lane. Are the two of you ready?"
Lois sighed as she stood. She really didn't want to go out with her mother and Luthor. She felt like a third wheel, though she would be happy if her mom had finally found someone again. "I'm ready."
"Lois, these are for you. Only the best. Straight from Belgium."
Lois looked inside the package. "Thank you, Lex. These look wonderful." She put the truffles in the refrigerator and the three of them left the apartment.
Lois sat on the edge of the bed in the spare room at her mother's apartment. A silent tear ran down her cheek. The evening had been nice, with Luthor paying as much attention to her as he did to her mother. It had only been slightly uncomfortable when he held the chair for her and called her "mon petit chou" — a French term of endearment. He seemed more attentive than he had the previous evening when her mother had made dinner for the three of them. The worst part was that she found herself rather enjoying it. She missed Clark something awful, but something about Lex was drawing her in.
She picked up the phone for the umpteenth time and started to dial her apartment. She desperately wanted to talk to her husband, to hear his voice. She had even called the answering machine and his voice mail when she knew he wouldn't answer, just to hear him. She tried to imagine him doing the same, but somehow the image just didn't come.
She finally stood and went into the kitchen to indulge in a chocolate truffle or two. She looked at it a little oddly after the first bite, but soon reveled in the delectable chocolate decadence. They reminded her of the ones that Clark brought her a couple of times. They had come from Belgium as well. She took another large bite, determined to put Clark out of her head for the rest of the night.
Clark did the same thing he had done every night since his powers had returned. His last stop for the evening, before returning to the lonely apartment, was to check in on Lois. Tonight, he wished he hadn't. Friday had been difficult enough as it was. One more day at work without Lois, without any new leads on his kidnapping. Fortunately, he had "followed" enough Superman rescues that Perry was happy with him. And Perry had been more than understanding with his emotional state.
He had gotten to Ellen Lane's building just as Lex Luthor was leaving the apartment. He had kissed Lois on the cheek and told her to have a good evening and enjoy the truffles. Lois hadn't pulled away or given any other indication that she didn't welcome the attention. In fact, she had been smiling just a little.
Clark turned, a deep sadness settling over his face and in his heart. He flew aimlessly over the city and was somewhat shocked when he found himself just outside Luthor's penthouse. He didn't know quite what drove him to do it, but he felt compelled to confront the man.
He stood on the rail of the balcony as he watched Luthor pour himself a drink. Finally, he spoke. "I would have thought you'd have someone to do the little stuff for you."
Lex looked in his direction, one eyebrow raised. "I would call the police to arrest you for trespassing, but you'd probably fly off before they arrived."
Clark stepped onto the balcony itself. "Probably."
"So, to what do I owe this honor?"
"I came to tell you that I know who you are and to warn you." The light sound of his voice and slight shrug of his shoulders was contradicted by the seriousness on his face.
The carefully calculating smile on Lex's face vanished and his expression became studiously blank.
"Who you *really* are," Clark stated, assuming what had become the classic Superman pose. "I know that you were behind Clark Kent's abduction and the attempt to blackmail me." He really had no proof, or even any idea why he felt that Luthor was behind the kidnapping, except that he made no secret of his hatred for the superhero.
"Well, it's an interesting theory, Superman, but I'm afraid that's all it is." Lex refused to be intimidated. He looked Superman straight in the eye. "What exactly are you threatening me with, again? Because if I were the one behind the unfortunate incident with Kent, then I would have access to Kryptonite and you would be a fool to mess with me. Besides, I believe I could make a case for harassment if you don't leave and harassment is illegal. It wouldn't do for you to get some dirt on your cape, now would it?"
"Like any other citizen of the planet, I must obey the law, I am not above it and I *will* leave momentarily. You, it seems, believe you are."
"I hold a certain position in this city," Lex said, pulling a cigar out of a small box.
"Yes. And there is nothing that would please me more than to see you dethroned and behind bars like any common criminal. And that day will come," Superman promised.
"Well, I trust not." Lex had supreme confidence in his ability to keep his hands clean. "But, as they say, let the games begin!"
Clark turned to leave, but came back to look Luthor directly in the eye. "Oh, and one more thing, stay away from Lois Lane-Kent."
"I don't believe I know a Lois Lane-Kent. Now Lois Lane, I know. She seems to need someone since her husband abandoned her after she spent so much time and energy trying to rescue him from the fiends who held him captive. If she needs me, I will be there for her." Lex knew the cutting words would find their way back to Clark.
Superman gave Luthor his best menacing look and rose a few feet above the balcony railing. "Stay away from her, Luthor." He turned to fly off, but remembering his first conversation with Luthor on this very balcony, he turned back and called, "if you ever need to find me, …all you have to do is look up." With that he soared off to find a place to be alone with his thoughts.
Two days later, Lois struggled against the chains that held her in place. It had been a week and she still hadn't seen her husband. Regardless, she was determined to find out who was behind his kidnapping. She had returned to the warehouse only to be instantly captured by another thug. This particular thug wasn't one of the ones who had participated in Clark's kidnapping. They were all still in jail and would be for a long time to come. She probably should have stayed home, but even though she didn't want to work, she couldn't just sit around and do nothing either. So she had started snooping.
Lois reflected on what she would have done if this had happened even a week or so earlier. She grudgingly admitted that she wouldn't have been there. Clark and Perry wouldn't have let her out of their sight and Jimmy helped them keep tabs on her so she wouldn't get herself into this kind of situation. But so much had changed.
The baby, the reason for her to be so careful, was gone and was never coming back. She was filled with an intense emptiness and longing that didn't seem to be going away anytime soon. She had cried herself to sleep each night and was finally to the point where she didn't think there were any tears left, but they always came. Always. She missed Clark something awful as well. She couldn't begin to comprehend what made him decide to ignore her — to want nothing to do with her. He had promised her on so many occasions that their marriage would be nothing like her parents. He swore he would be there for her, no matter what happened. They would always be together. It didn't mean things would be easy — they both knew that — but they would always have each other. Always.
Until now. When she needed him most.
Two weeks ago, she just would have called out 'Help! Superman!' and he would have been there in a flash — faster than a speeding bullet. He would have swept her up in his arms and they would have flown away together. He would have set her down gently, rounded up the offending humans and then come back to her as Clark. Later, he would have admonished her as Clark, telling her to be more careful and she would have promised to listen to his advice and to be more careful after all. And then they would have kissed. Those amazing kisses.
But now she really didn't want to call him at all. She was the only one, besides his parents, of course, who knew that Superman was really Clark and if she called for Superman, she'd have to deal with her husband and that was something she really didn't want to do. If she did, she would have a hard time stopping herself from throwing her arms around his spandex clad body and holding him as though she'd never let go. And then the tears would come and then, more than likely, he'd push her away and fly off like there had never been anything between them.
She couldn't take that kind of rejection. She was resourceful — she could get out of this herself. She knew she could. She had gotten out of bigger jams than this before she ever met Clark and she could continue to do so now that he was… Now that he was…
Lois sighed and deliberately pushed Clark out of her mind as she continued to struggle against the chains. Finally, she did the only thing she could do.
Clark's head popped up. He couldn't believe what he had just heard.
Within seconds, he was launching himself off of the roof in the direction of Lois' cry. He couldn't imagine what she could have been doing to need his help. He was sure from her emails that she was staying home to "recuperate", and that she wouldn't have anything to do with him, superhero or otherwise.
He swept through the building, tying up the perpetrators as he went and landed next to Lois. He quickly broke the chains and removed them from around her.
He felt awkward, something new in front of his wife, but he couldn't just take off. Finally he said, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Lois stood and moved in assorted ways to make sure all of her limbs were working up to snuff.
"Are you sure?"
They stood there in an awkward silence for a few minutes. Finally, Clark broke it. "Can I take you somewhere?"
"No. My jeep is right outside."
Clark turned to exit the building, knowing he wouldn't actually leave the area without knowing Lois was safe.
He turned back, a hopeful look on his face. "Yes, Lois?" He started to reach towards her, but stopped as he realized she wouldn't even look at him.
She stared at the ground, knowing that if she looked him in the eye, it was all over. She'd break down completely and she couldn't let herself do that. "Thanks."
"But, please, be careful."
"Right, Clark." She turned and walked out of the warehouse.
Clark followed slowly, his eyes downcast, his cape drooping and his heart breaking.
"LOIS! Lex is here."
"Thanks, Mom. I'll be right there."
Lois looked nervously in the mirror. The black dress was new, as were the shoes. The whole ensemble was a gift from Lex. She wasn't sure what had possessed her to accept his gifts and agree to dinner with him after she found out that her mother couldn't join them, but she had and she wouldn't go back on her word.
Clark wouldn't be pleased if he knew that she was having dinner alone with Lex. She knew that Lex hated Superman and really wasn't very fond of Clark, either. Clark had good reason to think that Luthor was up to no good, but Lois didn't care. Clark hadn't been there for her for over a week and she didn't really care what he thought anymore anyway. Especially after he had rescued her a couple of days earlier. He didn't even mention the baby or anything. He had to be the coldest, most callous man alive to not notice this was eating her up.
She felt like this was a date, even though it clearly was not. He had asked Ellen and Lois out to dinner and Ellen had agreed for them. At the last minute, she remembered a previous engagement and would not be joining them. So it really wasn't a date, just two people going out for dinner after the third party cancelled. She wasn't pleased with her mother for canceling so late. Late enough that she couldn't call Lex and cancel herself. And yet, a tiny part of her, somewhere inside was really looking forward to an evening alone with Metropolis' most powerful man. Well, human man, anyway.
She took one last long look in the mirror and a deep breath before heading out to meet Lex.
Lex walked toward her with open arms. "Lois. You look lovely."
Lois accepted the slight embrace and the kiss on the cheek. "Thank you for the wonderful gifts, Lex."
"It was nothing. Nothing but the best for you, my dear. The dress and such was flown in from Paris this morning."
"You really didn't need to do that, Lex."
"I wanted to. Nothing is too good for my Lois."
Something way deep down inside of Lois rebelled at the possessive reference, but something stronger squashed it down even farther.
"There's some more of that chocolate cake you love in the kitchen, Lois." Her mother had watched the exchange with interest, noticing with an internal smile that Lois was started to accept Lex's advances.
"Thank you, Lex."
"Shall we, my dear?" He offered her his arm and they made their way out of the apartment.
"Hey, CK. How ya doin'?" Jimmy sat down in the guest chair next to Clark's desk.
"I'm fine, Jimmy." Clark didn't look up from the story he was writing.
Jimmy rolled his eyes. "Don't lie to me, Clark. Everyone knows you're not okay." He looked around the virtually deserted newsroom. "You can talk to me. You know that, right?"
Clark sighed and nodded. "I know and I appreciate everything you've done for me this past week and a half, Jimmy. You and Lucy both. It's been hard enough, but without you two and Perry I don't know what I would have done." Perry, Jimmy and Lucy had done their best to keep his mind off of Lois and the baby. They hadn't succeeded very well, but they had tried valiantly and he appreciated it.
"No problem, CK. It's the least we can do." Jimmy sat there in silence for a moment. "Look, I've got tickets for the Comets game tonight. They're playing the Cubs. You want to come?"
Clark stared at the pencil he was twirling in his hands. "No thanks, Jimmy. I'm not up for a baseball game tonight."
"Come on, Clark. You need to get out of here and at least try to have some fun."
Clark sighed. "Okay. Let's go. I could use a Big Kahuna anyway."
"Chocolate chip cookies with ice cream in the middle?" Jimmy grinned. "Sounds good to me!"
Clark and Jimmy settled into their seats four rows from field, right behind home plate. "These are great seats, Jimmy."
"I wish I could take credit, but John got them for me. When I told him I wanted to take you to a game, he pulled out all the stops."
"I'll have to remember to thank him then."
Jimmy looked around and then whispered as he pointed at a dark haired man with a baseball cap on. "CK, check it out. That's the guy from that 'Believe It or Not' show. You know — the one who used to play in that superhero television show."
"It is, isn't it? I heard he was supposed to throw out the first pitch tonight or something. I think he's in town promoting his new movie."
"Wow. We're hobnobbing, Clark."
Clark just smiled and couldn't shake the feeling that his wife was around.
He looked around the ballpark and couldn't believe it when he saw Lois sitting with Lex Luthor in the ritzy Stadium Club out in left field. He looked away quickly and tried to cover up by pointing out another celebrity to his young companion.
"Isn't that the woman from that same show?"
"Yeah, it is. She's hot! I wonder why she's not sitting next to her former co-star?"
They watched as another man sat down next to her and wrapped his arm around her.
"Ah, I get it, CK. The jealous husband. Didn't like all the time the two of them spent together when they were working on the show and now he doesn't want them to have anything to do with each other?"
"Jimmy, don't let Perry find out how much you read the National Tattler. He'd have a fit. Let's just watch the game, huh?"
"Sure. GO COMETS! WOOO!"
Clark sighed as he glanced back up to see Lois laughing at something Lex said and then he turned back to the first pitch of the game.
"Lex, I don't understand why we're at the baseball stadium."
"You said you wanted to do something a little more normal. What's more normal than a baseball game? Besides, my dear, I own a part of the stadium. In a sense. I helped build this place and as part of my repayment, I get to eat here whenever I want. I thought it would be something a little different, just like you wanted."
Lois smiled. Lex's idea of normal for a baseball game was a little different than most people's idea. Clark would buy seats way up in the upper deck and they would eat hot dogs and nachos and Big Kahunas until they both — well, Lois anyway — felt sick. He had convinced her to try it a couple of months earlier and sure enough, even though she was sick the next morning from a bad hot dog, she had had the time of her life. Well, unless she counted that first weekend at their island in the Caribbean. She couldn't help but wonder if Clark would ever take another woman there, since things between them seemed to be over. It had only been a little over week, but she couldn't shake the feeling that she had lost her husband.
This was going to be a bit different from her ballgame with Clark. The Stadium Club was the fancy restaurant situated in left field even with the second tier of seats. There was a special entrance with an elevator so the valued guests didn't have to walk the ramps and stairs that led to the upper levels of the park. Even Clark had seemed a bit winded when accompanying Lois to the nosebleed section. Lois had whined just a bit, but Clark had insisted it was the best way to see a baseball game — from the cheap seats. Lois wondered what Lex would do if she suggested they change into shorts and a Comets T-shirt and view the game from the unairconditioned seats with the 'common folk'. Lois pushed her experience with Clark out of her mind and focused on what was sure to be a delicious dinner with Lex.
It was the top of the third inning and Lois sipped on her white wine. The crowd "Oh"ed as a foul ball was hit straight back to the net behind home plate. She giggled a little bit knowing that no one could really be hurt with the net there. She did a double check as she saw a familiar face appear on the large screen in the outfield. There, larger than life, was Clark, who was righting himself after flinching from the foul ball. He and Jimmy were laughing, as though they had no cares in the world.
She stared into her wine, wondering if she could really do this. If she could be here if Clark was as well, even though she couldn't actually pick him out in the crowd from this distance. Fortunately, though, Lex hadn't been paying attention to the screen and wasn't aware of the presence of her husband in the ballpark.
"Would you like to use some binoculars, my dear? Get a little better look?"
Lois nodded and took the offered glasses, glad that if Clark had to be here, he was behind home plate. Lex would never know that she wasn't looking at the batter. She peered through them and looked directly at her husband who was now sitting quietly.
Suddenly, he turned and looked over the top of his glasses, directly at her. Even through the binoculars, their eyes met. Time seemed to stand still as she noticed a lack of something in his eyes. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but he seemed resigned somehow, to something she couldn't understand. Contact was broken as Jimmy turned his attention elsewhere.
Clark agreed with whatever it was Jimmy had just said, not really sure what it was his young friend had pointed out. Probably another pretty girl. He'd already pointed out several.
"Uh, Jimmy. What would Lucy say if she knew you were looking at so many other girls?"
"Oh, right. Well, as long as I don't touch?" Jimmy raised a hopeful eyebrow.
Clark rolled his eyes. "If you think she's okay with it… Lois would skin me alive." Clark didn't realize what he had said until it was out. He looked at his hands, fighting the depressing sadness that had come over him so often recently.
"Hey, CK. It's okay. You're bound to think about her sometimes."
Jimmy tried to change the subject. "I think I really am in love with Lucy. I've never felt like this about anyone before. I've never lived with a girl before, so that whole thing is new. I love waking up in the middle of the night and watching her sleep. The moon shines in that window sometimes and she just takes my breath away."
Clark shifted uncomfortably. Some of what Jimmy was talking about hit a little too close to home. "Sounds like love to me, Jimmy." He couldn't help but look at the Stadium Club again, his eyes meeting Lois' before the waiter showed up with their meals. He sighed and thought seriously about leaving, but determined that he was going to put it out of his mind and enjoy the baseball game. After all, the Comets were winning.
Lex was pleased when Lois announced she needed to use the ladies room. He signaled to the doorman and picked up the binoculars. He watched as the usher spoke briefly into his walkie-talkie and then walked down the steps to where Clark Kent was sitting with that young man from the Planet. He observed with great interest as the two argued forcefully and then were led up the steps and out of the stands.
At least *he* wouldn't be distracting Lois anymore.
Lois checked for Clark again as soon as she felt she could ask for the binoculars again without being obvious or ignoring her dinner. When she focused her attention on the area behind home plate, he was gone. She panned the area and noticed the two stars her husband and his companion had noticed earlier. She made a mental note to try to find reruns of the series they had been in. She remembered the superhero had married his lady-love and maybe they could give her some insight into being married to someone who was slightly more than normal. She also wondered why they weren't enjoying the game together. She caught them sharing a glance and noticed how quickly they both looked away.
So much like her and Clark.
She sighed and turned her attention to her meal, the field holding no more interest for her now.
Clark sat down at his desk, trying desperately not to look at the desk of his wife. *Wife,* he thought bitterly. Only two weeks earlier it had been the most wonderful word he knew and now all it brought was bitterness.
Lois was gone. The baby was gone. What did he have left to live for? He loved Lois with all his heart. He loved the baby. He knew the child would never be born, would never grow up, never really exist, but he still loved the child as much as he would have if he or she had been born and then something happened. There was a big ache in his heart, a hole that had appeared when he received the first email from Lois telling him that there wasn't going to be a baby. A hole that increased in size with each passing day. A hole that told him there wasn't going to be a little piece of them to love and cherish.
Today was the day. He was going to talk to Perry. He needed a change. He couldn't deal with the apartment anymore. Lois' things were still there as were the little items that they had bought together for the life that Lois had been carrying. He took a deep breath and stood up. Lois was coming back to work tomorrow and he didn't want to be here. It had been hard enough the time he'd seen her as Superman. Rescuing her was easy. Dealing with her was not. He had finally come up with an idea.
He knocked on Perry's door. "Perry? Can I talk to you?"
Perry looked up from the article he was editing. "Sure, son. You know you can always talk to me. What is it?"
Clark sat on the couch. "I want to be reassigned."
Perry raised an eyebrow. "What?" He should have known this was coming.
"John's going on vacation and Bill was supposed to replace him. But Bill had a heart attack and can't go on the road with the Metropolitans. I'd like to take his place."
"Baseball? You want the baseball beat?"
Clark nodded. "I grew up listening to the Cardinals and Royals on the radio and watching them whenever we could get a game on TV I played some in high school and I've gone to games a couple of times a year my whole life. I can give you the stats of any player in the league — from the hot new rookie in St. Louis to Barry Bonds — who might break the home run record this year. I can do the job." It didn't hurt that he'd speed-read the sports sections from the whole season the night before.
"It's not that, Kent. I know you can do it, but you're an investigative reporter, not a sports guy."
Clark looked pleadingly at his editor. "Please, Perry. I need to get out of town for a few days, weeks, years. I can't deal with things here anymore."
"So that's what it is. Lois is coming back tomorrow and you don't want to be here."
"Not just here. I can't deal with being at home either. Lois' things are there and the things that we bought before she…" Clark's voice trailed off, unable to continue.
Perry sighed. As much as they tried to keep things quiet, rumors were spreading like wildfire about Lois, Clark and the baby. He hated to waste one of his best reporters on a baseball team, but Clark wasn't going to be much use here. And Lane and Kent, the hottest reporting team the Planet had ever known, was definitely on the fritz. He'd lose both of them if he tried to make them work together.
Perry couldn't take the look of anguish and the tears that threatened to spill behind the wire rimmed glasses. "Okay. Go."
"Thanks. I'll leave this afternoon. The team's plane takes off at three for Cincinatti. They play the Reds tomorrow. Good thing that the Planet has a permanent seat on their plane. The road trip lasts two weeks. I'll be back then."
Perry nodded, having difficulty holding his own tears back, as the young man left the office.
Clark picked up the bag he had stashed under his desk in the hopes that Perry would agree to the plan. As he stood, his heart stopped. Without even looking up, he knew. She was here.
He turned and went up the stairs, knowing his wife would take the ramp.
He was wrong.
Lois had made the same assumption about Clark. They almost collided, but managed to avoid each other. As hard as she tried, she couldn't avoid looking at him. He was still incredibly handsome, but he also looked as haggard as she felt. Good. He deserved it. He deserted her after she had miscarried their baby — the one he had claimed to want so badly. Maybe he regretted it, just a little bit. She hoped he had the same tortured dreams at night as she did.
His voice hadn't changed. "Hi. I'd ask how you are, but… I think I already know."
Clark sighed. She was as beautiful as ever, in a sad sort of way. But she had been getting his emails. She had to know how much this was tearing him apart.
"Are you going somewhere?"
Clark looked at the bag he held. "I'm going to travel with the Metropolitans for a couple of weeks."
Lois could feel the tears start to come as he spoke her name, but she wouldn't give him the satisfaction. "Right, baseball. Well, don't get hit in the face by one of those pucks."
"Right, Lois." Clark smiled a sad smile, reminded of the grin and the teasing that would have accompanied the conversation a few weeks earlier, to be followed by a kiss, or two, and then… Clark shook his head. He didn't want to go there. "Um, I've got to go. The plane leaves in less than an hour."
"You hate flying commercial."
"I know, but I have to."
"Right. Well, good luck."
"You, too." Clark looked in her eyes for just a moment. Something was missing that had been there before. They had a glassy look to them. It broke Clark's heart to see the heartache there and he wondered about it. Maybe she was covering up in her emails.
But in that instant, whatever he had seen — or not seen — disappeared and she was even colder than she had seemed when they first met. "Bye, Lois."
Clark turned and walked to the elevator, his head hung so that his chin was almost touching his chest. He didn't look up until after the elevator doors had closed in front of him.
Clark gratefully settled into his window seat on the plane. He hated flying commercial, Lois had been right about that, but he really didn't have a choice. He didn't know what he was going to do about Superman. It would be difficult to take off in the top of the ninth with the game tied or something, but he'd just have to deal with it. Once Superman had reappeared — with a rather lame excuse — crime had actually slowed down. As long as Superman kept showing up, things would stay that way. He hoped. As long as he was sitting by the window he might be able to keep nosy reporters out of his business.
Seeing Lois had been almost more than he could deal with. He hadn't known just how deep the hurt had gone. It tore him to his very core. He loved his wife very much, even though he had only spoken with her twice in the last two weeks. No matter what she had done to their child, he loved her. He just wished that she would talk to him and try to help him understand. Maybe if she did, he'd know where she was coming from and they could work through things together.
"Clark!" The voice interrupted Clark's internal meanderings.
He looked up. "Hi, Bruce."
Bruce Jones sat down in the aisle seat. "Since when does the great investigative reporter join the lowly sports guys? Uncovering a conspiracy trying to help the Cubs win the World Series?"
Clark had to chuckle a bit at that. "No. I don't think that'll ever happen. John's on vacation and Bill had a heart attack. He's going to be fine, but no travelling for a while."
"You're right. Not even Superman could help the Cubs win a Series. So why you? Perry not happy with your last story and sending you out to pay your dues?"
"No, I volunteered."
Bruce looked slightly shocked. "And left that lovely wife of yours behind?"
Clark turned to stare out the window. "She doesn't mind."
"Ah. Touchy subject. Say no more. Need some time away and what better way than baseball. You been following this Pujols kid? Not looking forward to seeing him in St. Louis next week."
Clark turned back to the LNN-Metropolis reporter. At least baseball was a safe topic. "He's been pretty amazing. They were right to name him NL Rookie of the Month in April, May and June. The way he's going, he'd have to really blow it to not be named Rookie of the Year. And, hey, he made the All-Star Team."
"Ah, so he's not just a pretty face; he does know his baseball."
"I grew up listening to the Royals and Cardinals, so I have to keep up. Dad would kill me if I didn't."
Bruce clasped Clark's shoulder with one hand. "Well, hey, Rodriguez is giving me an interview on this flight, so I gotta get. But, we're glad to have you." He stood and started to walk off, but turned back. "Clark, I don't know what's going on with you and Lois — I'm sure the rumors will be flying before long, but I don't put much stock in them — but talk to her. Whatever you do, don't let the lines of communication close. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. That's why I'm out here, on the road for LNN-Metropolis, eleven months out of the year."
Clark nodded and turned back to his window. He hoped no one else would bother him.
Lois had planned on sitting at her desk and trying to get reacquainted with her place of employment, but seeing the picture sitting there made it too much. The sight of her and Clark laughing and so obviously in love was more than she could bear. She did pick it up and look at it sadly for a moment, but she didn't return it to the regular spot. Instead she put it upside down in her top drawer where she wouldn't have to look at it every day. She walked into Perry's office and sat dejectedly on the couch, waiting for the editor to return from a staff meeting.
Seeing Clark had taken more out of her than she thought it would. He had made it plain in his emails that he didn't want anything to do with her, just reinforcing what Jimmy had told her almost two weeks earlier. It had been all she could do to keep from losing herself in his once warm chocolate eyes. His eyes had looked different somehow — something was missing from them that had been there before. She wanted to believe that it was his love for her that was missing — it would make accepting things easier if he didn't love her anymore — but that wasn't it. It had still been there — he still loved her. That was something, but his last email had said something else. She closed her eyes and tried to block out the site of the computer screen that appeared unbidden.
I know you are going through a tough time — I am too — but I know that I am coping well. From what Lucy has told me and from your emails, I see that you are doing well, too. I think that we need to acknowledge that our problems are not going away and that we both need to get on with our lives, even if we do so separately. I know that I am ready to get on with things. I hope you are too and that you aren't living in the past. What happened, happened, but let's not let one bad event ruin the rest of our lives.
He had seemed so callous and cold. She didn't know how he thought she had it all together from her emails. Some of them had been rather frantic. But, he wanted to get on with life, without her, according to his email, but he still loved her. His eyes had told her. He had never been able to hide anything when she looked in his eyes.
Lois sighed. Maybe she should find a new job. Maybe she should move to Alaska or South Africa or somewhere and she'd never have to see him again. As long as she wasn't in an area that had earthquakes or tidal waves or hurricanes. She didn't want him rescuing her anymore either. The two times he had rescued her had been more than a bit awkward.
She sighed. Work wasn't going to be easy, but maybe it would be a bit easier without Clark around to deal with.
Perry started just a bit when he realized that Lois was sitting in his office, but retained his composure. He hadn't become the editor-in-chief of the world's greatest newspaper because he could yodel, but all of his years of experience hadn't prepared him to deal with two star reporters who were married and having problems of the magnitude of Lois and Clark's. He sat on the edge of his desk and looked at Lois. No matter what had happened, what she had done, this was obviously taking its toll on her. It must not have been as easy to deal with as she would have thought.
"I didn't think you were coming back until tomorrow, darlin'."
"I'm just here to look around and reconnect. I don't start working again until tomorrow."
"Didn't look like you ever stopped. Didn't Clark write up Superman's rescue of you the other day?"
"Yes, he did."
"Doesn't sound like you were taking it easy then."
"It was just that once. I couldn't sit around any longer and I wanted to find out who was behind Clark's kidnapping."
Perry couldn't help but noticed she hesitated just a bit before she said Clark's name. "You wanted to find out who was behind the kidnapping?" He raised an eyebrow. Clark had told him about the emails he'd been receiving from Lois. From the sound of them Lois wanted absolutely nothing to do with Clark or investigating his disappearance.
"Even though… even though," Lois took a deep breath, "things aren't going well with Clark and I, I still want to know what happened. You know me and a story. Like a pit bull, right?" Lois didn't have much conviction behind her words.
"Right." Perry took a deep breath. "Why don't you get out of here and relax this evening and come back ready to work tomorrow?"
"Sounds like a good idea." Lois stood and picked up her purse. She started to walk out of the editor's office. She paused by the door and then turned to talk to Perry. "And Perry?"
"Thank you for reassigning Clark."
Perry shook his head. "It wasn't my doing, Lois. He asked to be reassigned."
"Oh." Lois stared at him for a minute and then left. Clark had asked to be reassigned. He wanted to be gone before she ever showed up. Didn't sound like a guy pining away for his wife, now did it? Instead he was probably at 35,000 feet glad to be away from her.
There was another email waiting for Clark when he arrived at his hotel. He was getting sick of emailing back and forth, but his wife obviously didn't want to talk to him face-to-face.
It's probably good that you are going out of town. We really don't need to deal with each other right now. Things are too difficult. You don't seem to want to understand what happened and why and until you do, I don't know that there's a future for us. I'm ready to move on with my life and I hope you are too.
The emails seemed to be getting shorter and shorter. They also seemed to have taken on a tone of finality.
Not want to understand?
Move on with his life?
More than anything he wanted to understand what happened and why, but she wouldn't explain it to him, even if he asked her straight out. Maybe she hadn't gotten that email — she hadn't responded to it directly, after all. And as for getting on with his life, he wanted to do that with his wife, not without her. He longed to hold her in his arms, to wipe away the tears that she had to be crying no matter how strong she tried to act over cyberspace, to kiss her soft lips; to float with her in the clouds, to wrestle with her in the surf off their island laughing the whole time, to lay together under the stars at night in the bed in their little cottage, to float with her above their bed in their apartment, to lay on the couch and watch television with one hand on her belly where their baby was growing, to eat dinner together at their favorite Italian restaurant in Milan, to have a picnic in the middle of the field in Kansas, to give her a hickey behind the Tasty Freeze, to make-out in the hayloft, to just be together, to look into her eyes and know that she understood everything about him, and to have a chance to heal together.
If only that was what she wanted too.
Clark flopped down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. He struggled to keep the tears back, but it was the same losing battle he had been fighting for two weeks. At least his parents would be home soon. In fact, they'd be flying through St. Louis while he was there and they'd be able to sit and talk. He'd gotten hold of their travel agent and arranged for them to have an extended layover. He knew they'd be surprised, but they'd understand.
Superman landed in front of the stunned mugger. The teenager was stuck inside a trashcan, his arms and legs flailing.
"What was that for?!" He was also indignant.
"I believe you owe the lady an apology."
Superman just rolled his eyes. "The cops will be here soon. I suggest you change your attitude." He turned to the woman whose purse he held in her hand. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Lois almost glared at him.
"Are you sure?" Clark was concerned for his wife. Even though they were separated he still loved her and something wasn't right. He had been patrolling Metropolis before that evening's game in Chicago when he noticed Lois half- heartedly fighting for her purse. The Lois he knew would have had the man on his knees begging for mercy, but she hadn't really even fought back.
"I'll be fine." She turned to walk away only to find her way blocked by the electric blue outfit of her husband.
"I'm worried about you, Lois. Something doesn't seem right."
"There's nothing wrong with me, *Superman*. Now if you'll just get out of my way…"
"Listen to me. I want you to leave me alone. I am fine and I don't need your help." She crossed her arms and stared at the ground.
"If you're sure you're okay…"
"I told you I'm fine." They stood there in an awkward silence for a moment. "How's your trip?"
"It's fine. I better go."
"Right. Gotta save the world." Lois turned to walk away.
She didn't stop but just walked off to talk to the police who had finally arrived.
Superman stood there for a moment and watched her. Finally, he sighed and raised one arm above his head, heading for the solitude of the skies.
Clark had been gone for almost two weeks, returning to Metropolis only as Superman, and it seemed like he had been gone forever. First had been Cincinnati and the Reds, then Pittsburgh and the Pirates, followed by Chicago and the Cubs. Now they were finally in St. Louis. The Metropolitans were on a five-game winning streak, but they didn't match up well against the Cardinals. It was going to be hard for Clark not to let his bias show through in his reports, but he didn't want to be on Perry's bad side on top of everything else.
The emails were coming farther and farther apart and were getting shorter and shorter. He was losing Lois. It wouldn't have mattered if he was in Metropolis instead of on the road. This had started before he even left. At least his parents would be here soon. He was at the airport and was pretty sure their plane was on approach. He lowered his glasses and sure enough they were sitting on the plane, worried looks on their faces. He didn't really mean to listen in, but he couldn't help overhearing that they were concerned about him and the change in their agenda.
A few minutes later, they were walking down the jet way towards their son. Martha sent an almost scared look at Jonathan as she saw the haggard face that she barely recognized. She turned her full attention to her son.
"Clark, what is it?" She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him for long moments.
"Mom. Dad. I'm sorry to change your itinerary, but I didn't know if I'd get a chance to visit Kansas after you got back." Clark gave his father a hug as well. As they started towards the baggage claim, he continued, "I don't really want to talk about it here. I'd rather hear about your trip for now and then after we get you to the hotel, we'll have dinner."
They collected the bags and then boarded the MetroLink, a train that would take them towards downtown. They got off at Union Station and headed towards the hotel.
"Clark, this is too nice. We don't need a hotel this fancy," Martha protested as she looked around at the plush decorations.
"You deserve it, Mom. Especially after I changed your itinerary without talking to you about it."
"Sit. And tell us what's going on."
Clark sat on the couch, between his parents and told them the whole story. He told them about the problems they were having, about the baby and the emails and everything else.
By the time he was finished, there were tears running down his mother's face and his father was clearing his throat repeatedly.
"Clark, I wish there were something we could do." Martha was sympathetic, but the unspoken communication with her husband had confirmed that this was something that Clark had to handle himself. As hard as it was, they couldn't interfere.
"Would you call her, Mom?"
Martha took a deep breath. "Do you think it would do any good, Clark?"
Clark sighed. "Probably not." He stared at his hands for long moments. Finally, he stood. "I've got to get down to the ballpark. That's why I'm here. I'm travelling with the Metropolitans. I just had to get away." He handed them two tickets. "Here's some press passes. You can join me in the box if you want to. Fox Sports Northeast is interviewing me here in a little bit as a part of a series they're doing on the people who travel with the team. You're welcome to come with me now or hang out here for a while or not come at all. There's some great shopping in the Station and you can take the Metrolink down to Busch Stadium or all the way to the river if you want to see the Arch while you're here." Clark started to walk out the door. "And Mom, Dad. Thanks." He left as his parents looked at each other.
The last thing Lois expected to see as she flipped through the channels in her apartment was her husband's smiling face. She stopped to see what it was.
"Up next," came the announcer's voice, "more of our continuing series on those who travel with the Metropolitans. Tonight, Clark Kent of the Daily Planet. After these messages."
Lois made sure that there was a tape in the VCR and pushed the record button on the remote. Even though this wouldn't be an in depth interview and probably wouldn't last more than thirty seconds, she wanted to be able to play it over and over again.
Two minutes later, the Arch and the Mississippi River appeared on the screen.
"Tonight we are joined by Clark Kent of Metropolis' own Daily Planet. Clark is new to the sports beat, but not new to baseball. He followed the Royals and the Cardinals from his home in Kansas as a child. So, Clark, what's it like being on the road?"
Clark smiled. "It's different. I've traveled all over the world but this is the first time I'm actually following a baseball team. It's different, but I'm enjoying it."
Lois almost melted when Clark's pearly whites filled the screen and his voice was almost more than she could take. He looked good, she admitted. She thought he was more tan than he had been when he left, but he also had a few more wrinkles around his eyes. Or so she thought. He hadn't said anything about what it was like to leave his wife behind, but maybe the other guy had been told not to ask any personal questions or something.
"What's the hardest thing about being on the road for you, Clark?"
"Well, probably living in hotels out of a suitcase. It's not something I've ever enjoyed. And flying. I hate flying."
Lois couldn't help but smile. Clark loved flying, but felt there was something unnatural about flying in a metal tube instead of under his own power.
"Kinda odd for someone who's traveled the world, isn't it?"
Clark laughed and flashed that million-watt smile of his. "Probably."
"What about your family? Is it hard leaving your wife in Metropolis?"
Or maybe he hadn't been instructed to leave the family alone. Lois leaned in to catch every word, every nuance. She saw Clark take a deep breath before he started.
"Well, it's always hard being on the road without your family. I'm no different than anyone else there."
"Now, isn't your wife expecting your first child? It must be hard to miss that."
Lois sucked in her breath. She hadn't expected that question and she could tell Clark hadn't either. She leaned in even closer. For a moment, she thought she saw tears in Clark's eyes, but he recovered quickly.
"No, my wife isn't expecting a child right now."
The confusion was evident on the face of the interviewer. Everyone remembered the attempt to blackmail Superman. "Ah, well, maybe someday. There's nothing like having kids." The camera focused in on Clark's face. "What's the best thing about being on the road?"
Clark laughed. "The hot dogs, the nachos, the ice cream. There's nothing like the food in a Major League ballpark."
"Well, it was great talking with you, Clark. We're glad to have you on this trip with us." The camera focused solely on the other man. "Next, we have John Marcus, the Metropolitans sensational new shortstop just acquired from Montreal. Stay tuned."
Lois stared at the television. Clark *had* flinched when talking about his family, but few people would have noticed since he smiled broadly the rest of the time. Maybe he didn't miss his wife as much as he wanted the reporter and the rest of the world to believe.
She sighed, wiped the tears that were her constant companion and went back to her packing.
Clark trudged wearily up the stairs to the apartment he shared with his wife. Exhaustion was something new to him, something he didn't like. He hadn't slept more than about an hour or two a night since he found out about the baby and it was catching up with him. He didn't need as much sleep as most people, but this was getting ridiculous.
He slowly unlocked all of the locks that Lois insisted on and pushed the door open. As he walked in, he stopped in surprise. Lois' last email had said she would be stopping by the apartment to get her things, but this was more than that. The couch and entertainment center were gone and had been replaced with the things that had been in his apartment the first couple of weeks they were married. He set his bag down and looked around the rest of the room. The paintings were gone as were the rest of the decorations and homey touches that Lois had put on the place. He walked into the kitchen and wasn't surprised to see the few dishes his mom had given him when he decided to settle down in Metropolis, even before he married Lois. The bedroom was no surprise either. The double bed he had occupied alone was there as was the dilapidated dresser.
In one corner were some boxes. Taped to them was a piece of paper. Clark quickly strode over and read the delicate writing he had come to love.
I tried to make sure that you have at least what you need. I didn't want the baby things that we bought, so I left them. I know how badly you want children, so maybe you can use them someday. At least you know that you are able to. I know how much that possibility bothered you. Lex helped me find a new apartment. I'm still at the Planet, so if there is something that I forgot, you can bring it to me there.
I never wanted to hurt you, Clark, and I don't hate you, no matter what has happened between us. I'll always love you and the baby we never had. I just wish things had been different.
Clark sat slowly onto the old bed. The tone of the note was completely different from the emails he had been receiving, almost as though two completely different people wrote them. Too bad that wasn't possible.
She still loved him, but didn't think there was any hope for them together, or else why would *he* need the baby things without her.
He tried to keep from remembering the time they had bought things, but he couldn't help it.
"Clark, do we really need to look at baby stuff yet? I'm not even three months pregnant. And we already have a bunch of stuff from your mom."
Clark laughed and put his arm around her waist, pulling her close. "No, we don't have to, but it'll be fun." He turned his head and kissed her hair. "Come on, please?"
Lois smiled. "Oh, fine." They walked into the baby store, arm in arm.
They spent almost an hour in there, looking at all the different baby things. Neither one of them had any idea that there were so many kinds of things that people needed when having a baby. And how expensive some of them were. There were a couple of things they just couldn't resist, so they made their purchases and walked home together.
They stopped to pick up some take-out on their way home. Pasta. Clark smiled knowing what they were in for tonight.
They didn't even eat their dinner before their libidos got the better of them. Lois unloaded the baby things and held up her favorite.
It was a little blue sleeper with a big S shield on it.
"Ours will be the only baby who actually should be wearing this," Lois informed her husband.
Clark groaned as he started to set out the containers on the counter. She walked over and put her arms around him, resting her cheek against his back.
"And that's just fine with me! I'm glad Superman is the daddy of my baby."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Of course. I don't like that you're gone so much, but *you* are Superman and there is no one I would rather be the father of my children."
Clark turned around in her embrace until he was looking deep into her eyes.
Lois reached up and removed his glasses. "Those things tend to get in the way."
Clark just smiled, knowing what was coming next, running his hands gently up and down her sides.
Lois reached up with one hand and pulled his head a little closer until their lips were touching. The gentle contact lasted only seconds before the kiss became more intense and the passion began to mount. Soon the table was occupied and shortly after that, they were floating near the ceiling, clothes finding their way to the floor, chairs or counter below.
Later, Clark floated them into the bedroom and set them down gently on the bed.
Lois sighed as she cuddled in next to him. "And to think, we didn't even need the pasta."
Clark tried to push it out of his mind. It was the last time he had made love to his wife. Minutes later he had been called to a car accident and the next day he had been kidnapped.
He reread the note. This time something else jumped out at him.
Lex had helped her find a new apartment.
So even though she still loved him, she was willing to have some kind of relationship with the man she knew was his archenemy. Well, Superman's archenemy. She knew how much Lex hated him; they had just never been able to prove anything. And now they were apparently… something. He had seen them at the baseball game several weeks earlier and knew there was *something* going on between the two of them.
Clark sighed. Would the heaviness on his shoulders and in his heart ever go away?
Clark dreaded work the next day, but the Metropolitans were on a home stand, so he had to put in an appearance at least.
He tried not to look at Lois' desk, but couldn't help it.
The first thing he noticed was the huge bouquet of red roses sitting in the middle of it. The second was that the picture of them was gone.
He lowered his glasses and looked at the card still in the holder and the envelope.
Never forget that I am thinking of you.
Looking forward to tonight.
He should have known. Only Lex would send such an overwhelming display of flowers. At the same time, Clark mentally kicked himself. Why hadn't he thought of flowers a month earlier? It would have been something at least.
"Clark — my office now." He had missed the gruff voice of the editor-in-chief, but still wasn't looking forward to whatever Perry was about to say. His tone hadn't been one Clark liked.
Clark sat on the couch as Perry indicated and waited for the older man to begin.
"The roses aren't from you are they?"
Clark shook his head.
"Hells bells, I wish he would just vanish off the face of the earth." Perry couldn't conceal his disdain for the wealthy intruder in the lives of his two star reporters. "I need to tell you some of the things that have been going on while you were gone."
"First, great articles. Now, I follow sports, but I'm not really a baseball guy. What was the deal with the 'Could Superman save the Cubs?' story?"
"Well, they're off to a good start, but the question is, can they hold on? Supposedly, this guy and his goat had gone to all the games in the Cubs old stadium, but they wouldn't let the goat in the new one. Legend has it that he put a curse on the Cubs saying that as long as they played at Wrigley, they'd never win a World Series. And they haven't in living memory. Something like 93 years. On the plane someone mentioned that not even Superman could help. We talked about it some more on the plane and some people in Chicago picked it up. The Cubs management heard about it and wondered if they *could* sign Superman or if having an alien on the team was against the rules." Clark shrugged. "I went with it."
"Oh. Well, if you believe in all that hocus-pocus… Anyway, the article from St. Louis on how things have changed and stayed the same since you went there as a kid was great. I saw your interview while you were there."
Clark stared at his hands.
"I can't believe he asked a couple of those questions."
Clark didn't say anything.
Perry took a deep breath and continued the unpleasant assignment he had given himself. "While you were gone, Lois moved."
"And Lex has been around here. A lot."
Clark still stared.
"Great shades of Elvis, kid. You and Lois are made for each other. Anyone with half a brain knows that."
"It's not that easy, Perry."
"Do you love her?"
"Of course I do. I've loved her since I was eighteen and nothing will ever change that. She left me a note that says she still loves me, but that it won't work out. It contradicts everything she's said and done in the last month. Things just aren't going to work out for us. We won't have the fairy tale ending. She's moved on with her life and I'm trying to do the same thing."
"She's still your wife, Clark."
"I know, Perry. But she doesn't seem to want to be."
"I just want to warn you, son. It won't be easy for you around here right now. I've talked to John and he's willing to work on local sports for a while if you want to stay on the road with the Comets. "
"That would be great, Perry."
"Lex will probably be in at least once today. He usually is. And he and Lois have been having dinner together at least a couple of times a week." Perry struck his desk with one of his balled up fists. "That man…"
"It's okay, Perry. I'll deal with it." Clark stood. "Thanks for giving me the heads up. The Metropolitans have an afternoon game today anyway, so I'll be out early. I'll have the story to you as soon as possible."
Perry nodded as the younger man left and then rested his head in his hands. If only there was some way he could get Lois and Clark back together.
Lois refused to talk about what was going on, but Perry knew that she was hurting. Something else was wrong, too. She just wasn't her old self. She was mellower and less determined — more like a doormat than he ever thought he would see Lois Lane. He just wished he knew what it was.
Lois wasn't ready to deal with her husband. She still thought of him that way even though they hadn't spoken in two weeks and it had been another two weeks before that. Well, unless you counted the rescue, but they hadn't really said much. But she had to go to work. She wished more than anything she could shake off this lethargic feeling that hadn't left since she lost the baby and she didn't understand the undeniable attraction she was feeling towards Lex Luthor.
Her new apartment was much nicer than her old one. It was really more expensive than she could afford, but Lex owned the building so he had worked it out for her. She stood on the balcony, overlooking the incredible city bathed in the morning light. She hadn't wanted to move. She still held out hope that they would work things out, but Clark had mentioned an email that it would be better if she was gone when he got home, so she had left.
The phone call from Martha hadn't helped any either. She listened to the message several times and now had it memorized. *Lois, I told Clark I couldn't interfere, and we can't. This is something the two of you have to work out together, but I want you to know that if you ever want to talk we're here for you, too. You're our daughter and we love you no matter what's going on with you and Clark.* Then Martha had sighed, sounded like she was going to say something else, but hung up instead. Lois wondered what exactly Clark had told them. A part of her wanted to call Martha and sob her heart out, but something held her back. She had Lex and for now he was the friend she needed. He had been there for her when Clark wasn't
Lois sighed. She could put it off no longer. She had to go to work. At least Clark would still be covering the Metropolitans and they wouldn't be working together. She had put her foot down on that, though she didn't think Perry would have pushed it.
Once again, Clark knew before he even looked up that Lois entered the room. He tried desperately not to look in the direction of her heartbeat, but he couldn't help himself.
As he looked up, his eyes met those of his wife. She froze as she realized what was happening. He heard her heart rate increase. He still had some effect on her. For what that was worth.
Lois had also tried not to look, but the first thing she did every morning when she came in was look at Clark's desk. She couldn't help it. She wasn't surprised to see her husband sitting there. She knew that he was supposed to be in today. She was surprised by the look she saw in his eyes. Those deep, chocolate pools that were so easy to drown in. Even from across the room, she could see the anguished look, the desperation, the heartache and defeat. And the love. All in the split second before they both looked away.
She made her way to her desk and wasn't surprised to see the roses that had to be from Lex. He had taken to sending her things lately. She wasn't sure she liked it, but she always accepted them graciously. He had an effect on her that she couldn't explain. She inhaled deeply, enjoying the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers.
She turned in surprise at the sound of Clark's voice. He was holding out a cup of coffee to her, his eyes downcast.
"Thanks." She took the offered cup and tried a sip. "You remembered how I like it."
"Of course, I did. Why would I forget how my wife likes her coffee?" Clark still didn't look at her as he spoke, but rather focused on the rings that still graced her left hand. "Um, I couldn't help but look at the card. I hope you two are happy together." He turned and walked away.
Lois blinked in confusion. First he brought her coffee and called her his wife — which she was — and in the very next breath he wished that she would be happy with Lex. No matter what, she would never be unfaithful to her husband, and Clark was still her husband. Lex was just a friend. She wouldn't be the one to start divorce proceedings; Clark would have to do that.
Lois reached out and took the card. When she read it, she understood the comment that Clark had made. What he didn't understand was that Lex was taking her and her mother out to dinner. She thought Lex might be interested in Ellen at first, but more and more it was becoming obvious that Lex was interested in her instead. In the beginning, Lois had been ambivalent to the increasingly forward passes that Lex had been making, but lately, he had started to seem more and more attractive and her husband more and more distant. If Clark decided that he didn't want to be married any more, she'd have someone to lean on. That was something, at least.
Later that afternoon, Clark walked into the staff meeting a few minutes late.
"Clark, so nice of you to join us." Perry actually wasn't being sarcastic. He was really glad to have Clark back.
"Sorry, game went into extra innings." Clark looked around and noticed the only empty seat was right next to Lois. He decided to lean up against the wall instead of pushing his way through the crowded room to sit next to someone who wanted nothing to do with him.
Perry motioned to the empty chair. "Have a seat, son."
"I'm fine really."
Clark sighed as he heard the no nonsense tone in the boss's voice. He moved through the crowd, muttering apologies as he went. He finally sank into the seat indicated. He was glad that he was between Perry and Lois or else he would have had to look at her throughout the meeting. It was hard enough to hear her breathing so close to him.
The meeting lasted another twenty minutes. As everyone stood to leave, Perry spoke once more. "Lois, Clark, sit."
Both of them lowered themselves back into the chairs they had just vacated, trying not to look at each other.
After the room cleared, Perry began. "Look you two, I don't know everything that has gone on between you, and I don't want to, but here's the deal. This tension is killing my newsroom. Neither one of you are to leave this room until you work something out. Understood?" He gave them both a look and then left them alone in the room as Lois and Clark both nodded.
Perry turned and walked out of the room.
The couple didn't speak for a long time.
They spoke at the same time. They both stopped at the same time, too.
"Go ahead, Lois."
"No, you, Clark."
"Fine. I'm moving out of the apartment, too."
"Fine. Where are you going?"
"I don't know yet. I heard about a place over on Clinton that might work. I think I can afford it."
"I know what you can afford. I know how much you make, remember?"
"Yeah, well. If it's the place I think it is, it has a perfect balcony for me to get in and out."
"Right. The superhero thing." Lois stood and walked over to look out the window.
"You supported it, you know."
"I didn't expect it to take my husband away from me."
Clark turned to look at her. "It didn't take your husband away. You left."
Lois refused to turn around. If that was what he wanted to think… "No, Clark. You left. You always left."
"I always came back." Their voices were getting louder. He lowered his to hiss. "You didn't complain about the superpowers when we were flying to Paris or to the Caribbean."
Lois chose to ignore that last. "Yes, you always came back. Except the last time."
"It was Kryptonite, Lois. What choice did I have? I couldn't move."
"Until I saved you."
"Right. You saved me, Lois. I'll never be able to thank you enough for that."
"Well, you saved me often enough. But you never came, Clark. Not when I needed you most." Lois still didn't turn from the window.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I never knew that you needed me."
"Sure, Clark. Listen. We're both adults and we're both professionals. We can put aside our personal problems while we're at work. Besides, you'll be out of the office covering the Metropolitans, so we won't have to see each other much."
"Is that what you want? To pretend that we never happened?"
"What's happened, happened, Clark. We can't change it and we can't go back. So, can we agree to be professionals?"
"Sure, Lois. Whatever you want." With that, Clark stood and left the room.
Lois continued to stare out the window as the tears began to flow freely once again.
Lois set her purse down on the end table. "Thank you for dinner, Lex. It was delicious."
Lex shut the door behind him. "Anything for you my dear."
"Can I get you a cup of coffee?" She headed into the kitchen, feeling slightly uncomfortable. No matter how long it had been since she and Clark had lived together, he was still her husband, not Lex. It just didn't feel right being here with him.
"No, thank you. I must be going, but there is something I wanted to give you first." He reached into his jacket pocket and removed an envelope.
Lois returned with a cup of hot chocolate for herself. "What is that?"
"See for yourself." He handed it to her.
Lois looked puzzled, but opened the envelope. She pulled out the papers that were inside and looked at them. It took her a few seconds to realize just what she was reading.
She slowly read it out loud. "Petition for the dissolution of marriage." She looked up at him. "What is this? Did you get this from Clark?" She had a hard time believing that Clark would file for divorce and give the papers to Lex.
"No." He pointed to papers. "You are the petitioner."
"Oh." She sat down, not quite comprehending what Lex was saying.
"See this way, you can get on with your life."
"I'm not ready for this, Lex. I love Clark, you know that."
"I know, but, my darling, isn't it obvious he doesn't want anything to do with you?" He saw Lois' shoulders slump. "I'm not trying to be crass or reopen old wounds…"
"The wounds aren't old, Lex. They're still fresh."
"I know, Lois, but this way, you can take the next step and work on getting on with our lives."
Lex sat down next to her, brushing a strand of hair back from her face. "Well, yes, darling. You and me together."
"I'm not ready for that, Lex. You know that. I've told you that."
"Of course. Not right away. But isn't it time for you to move on?" Lex was smart enough to know when he had pushed far enough. "Don't worry about it for now. I'll leave them here and you can think about it, okay?"
Lois nodded as Lex kissed her forehead. She really didn't want to think about it, but she wanted to get Lex out of there so that she could go cry herself to sleep once more.
Later that night, Superman hovered outside Lois' apartment. She didn't know that he checked on her every night. He made his rounds and this was always the last place he stopped. For the fifth night in a row, she was crying herself to sleep, only this night it seemed worse. He couldn't take it anymore.
He floated down to her window and hesitantly knocked. He saw Lois get up from her bed and walk towards the front door. He knocked again and she turned in surprise. He was grateful when she walked over and opened the window.
"What do you want?" She stepped back from the window and crossed her arms in front of her.
Clark stepped onto the windowsill and into the apartment. "I saw you crying and I wanted to make sure that you were okay."
"You were spying on me?" It was almost a statement. Lois didn't have the strength, or even the desire, to be indignant.
"No." Clark shook his head. "I just wanted to check on you, to make sure you were really doing okay."
"I don't need your help. I don't need you to look out for me. I am perfectly capable of doing that on my own."
Clark tried unsuccessfully not to roll his eyes. "If you say so."
"You're with Luthor, aren't you?"
That was the last straw. Lois felt she had put up with about all she could take from Clark, but still there wasn't the conviction behind it there would have been even a month earlier. "Just because you don't like him doesn't mean he's as evil as you think he is."
"No, Clark. Listen. Just because you think Luthor is evil personified doesn't mean that he is. You aren't always right, you know."
"I know that, Lois, but Luthor…"
"*Lex* has been nothing but kind to me and my mother since this whole thing started. He has been there for me when you have been off saving the world. So don't try to tell me that you have the right to decide who I see and who I don't."
"Please leave, Clark."
"I just want to talk to you."
"I don't want to talk to you. Not now. Not after everything that's happened."
"I just want to understand…"
"Understand what? Why I moved out? Why the world is more important than your wife? Can't help you there. That's all you."
"Lois, there is nothing in this world more important to me…"
"Than saving it on a regular basis. I remember."
"NO! Lois, you have to believe me…"
"It's too late for that, Clark."
"But, the baby…"
"What about the baby, Clark? The baby is gone and isn't ever coming back. There's nothing anyone, not even you, can do about that."
"I know that, Lois, but…"
"No buts, Clark. Now please, leave. And don't come back. Not until…"
"Not until what?"
"Never mind. Now go."
Clark turned, saddened, and stepped onto the windowsill. He glanced around the room and noticed some papers sitting on the coffee table. Divorce papers. He sighed as he turned his attention back to Lois. It really was over, but he couldn't help what he said next. "I'll still keep checking on you."
"I can't help it, Lois…"
Lois couldn't take it any more. She pushed him out the window and shut it behind him.
He was still watching as she went back into her bedroom and threw herself onto the bed, sobbing.
"…because I still love you." Knowing there was nothing else he could do, and knowing he couldn't bear to watch her any longer, he flew off.
Clark sat in his new apartment on Clinton, mulling over the conversation he had had with Lois earlier that night.
Her words had been angry, but her tone had been defeated. He didn't understand what was so different about her lately. Even though she'd been working and doing some of her normal investigative… stuff, there wasn't the same fire that had been there before. Maybe she was having second thoughts about the… He couldn't even bring himself to think the word. It felt like someone was stabbing him in the heart every time he thought about it. Whoever thought Superman couldn't be hurt was so very wrong.
He wished he knew what the deal with her was. At least one of the situations he had rescued her from recently, she normally would have gotten out of without his help.
And the divorce papers. He knew it had been over a month since they'd had a civil conversation, but divorce papers? Were things really that far gone? Things were so bad that divorce was the only answer without even trying to work things out? Lois must think so or she wouldn't have gone to the lengths to get them. That meant she had a lawyer — or that Lex was providing one for her. Clark could see that. He could even see Lex putting her up to it. But Lois still had to have been the one that actually told him it was okay to have the papers drawn up.
He sighed as he readied himself for bed, knowing even as he did that sleep would be hard to come by again this night.
It had been a difficult two months for everyone close to Lois and Clark. Lucy, Jimmy and Perry had run out of ideas to get the two of them talking. Even when they were forced to be together in a room, the tension and sadness was evident even to those who didn't know the couple. All three didn't want to choose sides, but they all found themselves alienated from Lois and being shoulders for Clark. A big part of the chasm that they all felt from Lois was on her part. Once she came back to work, she wasn't herself and didn't try to rebuild the relationships that were failing — not even with her sister or Perry, who had been like her father.
Lois saw Lex on a regular basis and most people thought they were a couple. Lex had been pushing her to file for divorce. She thought about it for a long time but even though a part of her wanted to, she just couldn't bring herself to sign and send the papers that Lex had brought her. He wasn't pleased with her actions.
She had felt out of sorts ever since she lost the baby. That was to be expected to a point, but Lois really believed that she had accepted it and was trying to move on with her life. It was more than just that. Her mood swings had become legendary around the newsroom. Most of the time she was the exact opposite of what she had been before Clark reappeared in her life. Before she had been a tenacious pit bull earning her nickname, "Mad Dog Lane". Now she was even willing to cover a dog show or write obituaries, if that's what Perry wanted. But every once in a while, there was a flash of the old Lois. When that happened, everyone got out of her way. She couldn't seem to shake herself out of the doldrums she found herself in. She even considered going to see a therapist, but Lex said if she ever wanted to talk, she could talk to him.
He had tried to kiss her a couple of times. A big part of her wanted him to and wanted to get on with her life, with Lex. But buried in the deep recesses of her mind and in the very pit of her soul, was the old Lois who was repulsed by the man who claimed to want to help her. Something just wasn't right. He wasn't Clark. That's all there was to it.
As for Clark, things hadn't been easy for him either. Every night, his last stop before home was Lois' apartment. Sometimes he had to wait for her to return from a date with Luthor. Those nights he had a hard time controlling his rage. Lex HAD to have something to do with the estrangement from his wife, but Clark was able to keep his emotions in check. That was harder to accomplish on the many nights he stopped by and found Lois crying or eating ice cream from the container with a look of total despondence on her face. It was all he could do not to fly in her apartment as fast he could and pull her into his arms, holding her like he'd never let go. He couldn't understand her desire to have nothing to do with him if it was upsetting her this much. Unless there was something else going on — something or someone who was influencing her behavior.
He tried not to let himself dwell on Lois. He spent his time on the road with the Metropolitans, immersing himself in baseball and his Superman duties. On the up side, if one could call it that, was the fact that a placid Lois didn't need rescuing. That was a relief for two reasons. The first was that she no longer "dangled above the jaws of death" on a regular basis and that was a good thing in Clark's mind. The second was that he didn't have to see her, to hold her so closely as he flew her out of danger. Staff meetings were bad enough, but flying would have been almost unbearable. So Clark had tried to take his mind off his wife and the child they would never have, but he found the task to be impossible. Baseball season was almost over and the only good news was that the Metropolitans were going to be in the playoffs, so he'd have that to do for a little while longer.
He had never received the divorce papers and for that he was grateful. Seeing Lois' signature on them would have been entirely too much, proof that it really was over, that there was no hope for them at all. As long as he didn't get them, then Lois may not have been totally convinced that she really wanted the divorce. It wasn't much, but it was all he had. Every time a messenger had showed up at his desk or a salesperson had knocked on his door he was afraid it was someone coming to serve him the divorce papers. Even though it had been over a month since he had seen them lying on her table, his breath caught just a bit until he was sure whatever he was being handed wasn't divorce papers.
Only three people were happy with the situation. Sam and Ellen Lane couldn't be more pleased that their oldest daughter was getting rid of the hack from Smallville and was now finding happiness with the third richest man in the world. They somehow managed to convince themselves that the dejected, depressed woman Lois had become was still the vibrant, alive daughter they had known and ignored the tear tracks that were often seen on Lois' face.
The other person, of course, was Lex. He just wished he could convince her to file for a divorce. He didn't understand why she took all of the rest of his suggestions to heart, but refused on that one. He figured it was just a matter of time.
Lucy raised her hand hesitantly to knock on the door in front of her. She had never been so anxious about talking to her sister in her life. She had been avoiding Lois as much as possible since she found out about the baby. She didn't understand her sister's thinking or logic in that matter and didn't know how to deal with the issues she knew she would face when she had it out with Lois.
But this was something she had to do. Jimmy had been assigned something extra important at the last minute and so Lucy had been drafted to deliver the information to Lois' new apartment.
She finally "screwed her courage to the sticking place" and knocked on the door.
She could hear Lois unlocking the various forms of security she insisted on no matter where she lived. The next thing she knew, Lois' arms were wrapped around her.
Lucy cringed and patted Lois on the back, stepping out of the hug as soon as she could.
"Lucy! What are you doing here?" Lois didn't even notice that her sister was holding something back.
Lucy walked into the living room and took in the plush surroundings. "Uh, well, Jimmy had to be somewhere else and he said you really needed this information." She held out a couple of file folders. As Lois took them, Lucy turned to head out the door.
Lois reached out and put a hand on her arm. "Lucy. Please. Stay. We haven't talked in a long time. I miss you."
The doubt was evident on Lucy's face. "Uh, sure." She walked over to the couch and sat down, keeping to the edge and looking very uncomfortable. "What do you want to talk about?"
Lois sat down in the chair across from her sister. "I don't know. Anything. How are you and Jimmy doing?"
"Good. Waiting tables isn't all that glamorous, but it's a living."
"How's Jimmy? I don't really see him as much I'd like to, especially since he's dating my little sister."
"Oh, well. He's good, we're good. It's all good."
"Oh." They sat in silence for several minutes. Finally, Lois took a deep breath and dove into the subject they were avoiding. She fingered her wedding rings as she started.
"How's Clark? Do you see him much?"
"He's fine, I guess. He's come over for dinner a couple of times. We've talked some. Jimmy thinks he's moving on and I agree."
"Oh. Good." Lois took another deep breath. "I hope he's happy."
"I don't think he's really all that happy, Lois, but he's strong. He'll recover and move on with his life."
"*He'll* recover? I'm so glad." Lois couldn't keep the sarcasm out of her voice.
"You should be. This hasn't been easy for him. Anyone can see that."
"And I'm supposed to feel sorry for him? I don't think so, Lucy. This *had* to be more difficult on me and he wasn't there when I needed him most. I refuse to feel sorry for someone so deep in self-pity that he can't be supportive of the woman he's supposed to love."
"Well, Lois, I personally don't blame him for not rushing to your side. Not after what happened."
Lois lept up and looked at her sister, unable to believe what she had just heard. "WHAT?"
Lucy was on her feet as well, not ready to back down from her sister just yet. "You heard me, Lois. No one thinks he should have rushed to your side. Not after what you did."
"What? After I did what?" Lois was genuinely confused. She didn't understand how miscarrying their baby would turn everyone against her. "I didn't *do* anything!" The old Lois was coming back.
"Don't play games with me, Lois. We all know what happened."
"You do? You know what I went through the last couple of months? You were there? And everyone knows just how hard this has been and they still think that Clark is right to ignore me?" The old spark was there and her anger came through clear as a bell.
"No, Lois. I don't know what you went through, and I hope I never find out. I don't understand what went through your head and I never will."
Lois spoke softly, tears in her eyes. "I hope you never do either, Lucy. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy."
Lucy looked at her, not sure what was going on in that head of her sister's. "Then why, Lois? Explain it to me. Make me understand."
"Why what, Lucy? There is nothing to explain!"
Lucy could take no more and exploded. "WHAT?! Nothing to explain? You killed your baby, Lois! And no one knows why!"
Lois stood there in shock and utter disbelief. As her knees failed her, she sank to the ottoman behind her. "What did you say?"
"You got rid of your baby, Lois, because he or she was a 'complication'. I don't understand. Clark doesn't understand. No one does and I don't think we ever will."
"You think I killed my baby? That I 'got rid of' my child — on purpose?" It was barely a whisper.
"You had an abortion, Lois. Mom told me all about it. You had a D and C, an abortion."
The tears were running down Lois' cheeks as it started to sink in. It would explain so much if Clark thought that she had killed their baby. The one that he lived for, the child he thought he could never have. If he thought that… She had to know.
Lucy barely recognized the hoarse voice that floated across the room to her. "Does Clark think that, too?"
"I had a D and C, but I did not have an abortion. I lost the baby, Lucy. I miscarried. I would never kill my own child."
"What?" It was Lucy's turn to stare in disbelief.
"It was right after Clark was kidnapped. I had cramps off and on throughout the pregnancy, but that weekend I had some really bad ones while I was trying to rescue Clark. After it was all over, I helped him into bed and turned the ringer off. I went to run some errands and started spotting while I was out. I went to my doctor's appointment later that morning and he did an exam. The baby was already dead by the time I got there. I tried to call Clark, the neighbors, the super, you, anyone I could think of, but no one was answering. When they took me to another part of the hospital to have the procedure, I ran into Mom. She was there with me while they did the procedure and then she took me to her apartment once they released me. I took the sleeping pills the doctor gave me and she tried to call Clark while I slept and he never came." The tears continued to flow as she recalled the heartache that she still felt. "He never came. A couple of days later, I got an email from him telling me that he knew and that we should just move on separately. I thought he blamed me for losing the baby. Our baby. The one we both wanted more than anything."
Lucy was stunned as she listened to her sister explain the events. Some things began to click in her head, but she wasn't ready to tell Lois just yet. She needed to do some checking first. Finally, she realized that she should be comforting her sister. She moved to sit next to Lois and put her arm around her.
Lois shrugged it off. "No, Lucy. If you could believe that I could do that, without even talking to me to verify it, you don't need to be here. Please. Leave."
Lucy heard the steel in Lois' voice and knew better than to argue. "Okay. For now." She walked to the door. "But you haven't heard the last of me, Lois. I wish that you would let me help. You may not want me to, but I am going to find a way." Lucy walked out and shut the door behind her.
Lois watched her leave and then curled up into a little ball and allowed the tears to flow freely once more.
"You're kidding?" Jimmy sat in stunned disbelief.
"No, I'm serious. Lois says that she miscarried. She didn't have an abortion."
"Are you sure? She isn't making this up?"
"Jimmy, you didn't see her. She was shocked when I told her that I didn't understand how she killed her baby. She crumbled. She was in total shock."
"Wow." Jimmy shook his head. "I can't believe this. All this time, we thought that Lois had an abortion and she really had a miscarriage. Something doesn't add up. Why wouldn't CK have set us straight in the conference room that day? If Ellen called him and told him about the miscarriage, why wouldn't he rush to her side? That's not like CK at all."
"I know. I've been thinking about it." Lucy stood and paced around the living room in their small apartment. "When I talked to my mom a couple of days after all this happened, I had the impression that Clark knew she was going to have an abortion beforehand."
"But she didn't *have* an abortion. And Clark had no idea until after he came back to work." Jimmy paced in the opposite direction. "We were there when he found out, just after you did, remember?"
Lucy stopped. "That's right. There's no way he knew before then. That means…"
"Your mom never called him." Jimmy stopped and looked at her, wondering how she would take the knowledge that her mother was trying to break Lois and Clark up.
Lucy looked back at him, tears in her eyes. "I can't believe she would do this. No, wait. I can. She hates Clark. She always has. Daddy too. But I don't think he had anything to do with this. If he knew everything he might, but he doesn't."
"What do you mean?"
"He doesn't know that Clark is the guy that Lois met in D. C. ten years ago. The one that he wouldn't let her go out with. He doesn't like Clark much as it is, but if he knew the truth…"
"Okay, so what are we going to do about it?"
"What *can* we do?"
"We can find out what really happened. CK got an email that told him about the baby, not a phone call. I never quite understood why Lois told him in an email. This is way too big and too personal for an email." Jimmy sat and turned the thought over in his mind.
"You're right. I don't know why I never thought about it." They sat there, pondering the strange turn of events. Finally, Lucy hit upon an idea. "Jimmy, do you think you could…"
"Hack into the Planet's email system? Of course I can." Jimmy put his feet up on the coffee table and laced his fingers behind his head. "Who exactly do you think you are talking to?"
Lucy moved next to him on the couch and placed a resounding kiss right on his lips. "The most amazing guy in the world." She kissed him again and snuggled at his side. "Next to Superman that is."
Jimmy put his arm around her. "Well, if I had superpowers…"
Lucy's hand rested lightly on his stomach. She used it to poke him, hard. "If you had superpowers, what, tough guy?"
"You'd still be the only one for me." He smiled into her brown eyes and kissed her gently.
"Good answer." They sat there for a few minutes, enjoying being close to each other. "Jimmy, you know I love being close to you, but…"
"I know. Let's go find out what happened to drive your sister and CK apart." He kissed her forehead and stood up. "Come on." He reached out and helped her to her feet. "Lane and Olsen, to save the day."
"I can only pray that we can."
"Let's see what we've got here." Jimmy's fingers flew over the keyboard in the conference room, hacking his way into the email system of the Daily Planet. "Okay, we're into CK's inbox." He scrolled back through the messages until he found one from Lois the day of the miscarriage. Lucy's hand rested on his shoulder as they read the message on the screen.
This is difficult for me to say. We've been having some problems lately — you know what they are — and I need some time to sort things out. I am staying with my mom for right now. I can't get to my Planet email from her computer so I had to set up another account. Please don't try to come by or contact me. I'll get in touch with you again soon. I won't be at work for a while, so don't look for me there either.
"I don't get it, Luce. She's been upset that he didn't go to her, but she told him not to. And why couldn't she get to her Planet email? She knows how to get to it from a remote computer. This doesn't make any sense."
"Look at the time it was sent, Jimmy." Lucy pointed to the screen. "She would have been sound asleep. She took sleeping pills as soon as she got to Mom's apartment. This was sent in the late evening. There's no way this is actually from her."
"That doesn't make any sense, though. Who would send a fake email from Lois to Clark?"
"My mom?" The doubt was evident in Lucy's voice. "I don't think that she could come up with this, much less carry it out."
"I agree, but who else?"
"I don't know. Can you trace where the email came from?"
"Maybe, but it'll take a while." He punched in some more instructions for the computer. "I could swear that Lois has been getting emails from Clark, too. I know she has, but if this isn't really her email, she couldn't be reading his responses from this account."
"I don't understand. What are you saying?"
"What I mean is this." Jimmy swiveled so he was looking at Lucy. "Clark has been getting emails from someone claiming to be Lois. We're sure of that, right?"
"Yes." Lucy sat down and tried to absorb what her boyfriend was telling her.
"Okay, so Clark has been replying to those emails thinking that he's talking to her, but he really isn't because it isn't Lois sending the emails. You still with me?"
"I think so."
"Lois has been getting emails from Clark. I know she has. She said something to that effect a couple of times."
"Okay. So she's been getting emails from Clark. Why can't they be the ones he's sending when he replies?"
"Because he isn't replying to Lois. He's replying to someone he *thinks* is Lois. Got that much?"
"I think so. This is confusing." Lucy rubbed her temples. It had been a rough day.
"I know. Someone set it up that way." He turned back to the keyboard and entered Lois' mailbox on the computer. "Here's the first email Lois got from Clark, on the day of the miscarriage."
This isn't easy for me to say. I talked to your mom earlier and she told me what was going on. I know we've had problems lately, so maybe we should just take some time apart to sort through everything. I won't be at work for a few days, in fact I'm thinking about taking some time off, so don't try to contact me there. I'll be in touch in a few days. I don't want to use my work email for this, just in case, so I got another account to use. I just wish you had another one so that this could stay our business and no one else's. No one needs to know what is going on but us.
"But Clark never talked to Mom, as far as we can tell. And he didn't know until two days later. Besides, Clark wasn't using another email address. He used his Planet mail. It doesn't make any sense. This one sounds like Clark is the one breaking things off, but the email from Lois was the other way around."
"Bingo. Except the other email wasn't really from Lois, remember?"
"Right. It was from someone pretending to be Lois."
Jimmy moved the mouse over the screen until another email showed up. "This is Clark's reply to Lois' first email from his Planet account." He and Lucy skimmed it quickly. "Does that sound like a guy who doesn't want anything to do with his wife?" In the email, Clark was begging Lois to call him because he wanted to fix whatever it was that was wrong.
"Those are two very different emails. Almost like they were written by two different people."
"Why not?" Jimmy turned to face her again. Neither heard the door open behind him. "Someone was pretending to be Lois and trying to convince Clark that she didn't want anything to do with him. Why couldn't that same person be pretending to be Clark trying to convince Lois that *he* doesn't want anything to do with her?"
"What in the name of Elvis are you talking about, Jimmy?" Perry White stood in the doorway trying to make sense of what he had overheard.
Jimmy stood excitedly. "Just that, Chief. If you talked to Lois and Clark separately you'd think that both of them wanted to work things out, but think it's hopeless, right?"
"Right. Where are you going with this? And why aren't you working anyway?
"This is more important, Chief. Besides, it's my day off." Jimmy ignored the look on his boss' face as he blew him off. "Listen. They both want to make up and they both have been emailing each other, but you never see them actually talk. If you do, it's an 'Excuse me' near the coffee pot or something."
Perry looked like his patience was wearing thin, and it was, but he would do just about anything to put his two friends back together.
"I hacked into their email accounts and they've been emailing each other all right, but not really. They just *think* they've been emailing each other."
"Oh, well. Now it all makes sense." Perry waved his hand in the air. "Spill it, kid. Or else."
"Clark has been emailing Lois from his Planet account, but he's been sending the emails to email@example.com."
"Luthnet is the search engine on Luthornet Explorer. You can also get a free email account. It's Internet based and can be accessed from any computer with Internet access."
Perry sat in one of the plush chairs and began tapping his pencil on the table. "So Lois has another email account. So what?"
"Lois doesn't *know* she has two email accounts. She's been using her Planet email to send Clark messages at firstname.lastname@example.org. They both think they've been emailing each other, but they really haven't. They've been emailing a third party who has been trying to drive them apart."
Perry stood and looked ready to leave. One eyebrow was raised as he repeated what he thought he heard. "So Mr. X is emailing Lois pretending to be Clark and that Mr. X is also emailing Clark pretending to be Lois?"
"Exactly." Jimmy leaned back in his chair and looked proud as a peacock.
"What in the name of blue suede shoes is going on? And why exactly have you hacked into the email system? And why aren't you working on those pictures I gave you earlier? What makes you so sure you're right?"
Jimmy ignored the pictures comment — it *was* his day off — and convinced him to look at the emails, the difference in styles and the very different tones by Clark and then by Lois. Perry grudgingly admitted that it certainly seemed like something funny was going on.
"You still haven't told me why you did all this."
"Lois didn't have an abortion."
"WHAT?" Jimmy irrelevantly thought about the difference inflection could make in a word.
"It's true, Mr. White." Lucy felt this was her area. Besides, she still didn't understand what was going on with the emails. "I saw Lois a little while ago. She didn't have an abortion."
"Well, I'm no expert, but shouldn't she be, ah, a little bit bigger than she is then? And why did I give her two weeks off?"
"She isn't pregnant anymore, but she had a miscarriage, not an abortion."
"A miscarriage? You two are too much, you know that? This noggin can't keep up with all of this. In plain English, no fancy computer talk or anything else, tell me what I need to know and why I should care."
Lucy sat across from the editor and looked intently into his eyes as she tried to explain. "It's like this, Mr. White. I don't understand all the computer stuff either, but Lois lost the baby and someone has been trying to come between Lois and Clark by making each of them think the other doesn't want a reconciliation, but if you talk to them, you know the opposite is true. Besides, Clark doesn't know about the miscarriage. He thinks Lois aborted the baby on purpose. I don't know who is behind all this, but I know my mother had something to do with the original miscommunication."
"So, those two really don't need to be apart at all? This whole shebang is some kind of big misunderstanding?"
"Exactly." The young couple spoke at the same time.
"Well, hell's bells. There's two more questions that I have."
"What's that, Chief?"
"Who's behind it? And how are we going to fix this?"
"Finding out who's behind it could be difficult, but I'm working on it."
Lucy smiled at the older man. "Now, Mr. White, I don't know you very well, but I know you didn't become editor of a major metropolitan newspaper because you could yodel. If the three of us put our heads together, I bet we could come up with a way to at least make them talk. And we all have seen the sparks that fly when those two are in a room together. If we could just get them alone, in a place where they wouldn't be interrupted and they couldn't leave…"
A sudden smile lit up Perry's face. "I think I've got just the thing. It'll take some work by all of us, but I think we can pull it off." He lowered his voice as he outlined his plan.
"But, Chief…" Clark used his best whine, knowing it would get him nowhere, but knowing he had to try.
"No buts, Kent. This afternoon's game should be over by 4 or so and you don't have another one for 48 hours. I want my investigative reporter back in the meantime."
"This isn't a democracy, Clark. Immediately following the game, you check into the honeymoon suite at the Hilton. Everything you need for surveillance will be there, so there will be no excuse when you don't get the story."
Clark hung his head just a little. He was Superman, for crying out loud, and he couldn't find the nerve to say 'no' to the man sitting in front of him. He tried one more time. "But, Chief, you don't understand. The Hilton is where Lois and I…"
Perry looked up from the papers on his desk, one eyebrow raised. "Oh, I'm sorry." Clark looked momentarily relieved. "I was under the impression you were a professional. If I was wrong, I'll be happy to find someone else to do your job."
"No, Chief, it's not that. I *am* a professional, but…"
"Well, I've put up with you working the baseball beat and helped you find a new apartment. Now, it's been over two months since you and Lois became estranged. You both are getting on with your lives. Get over it." Perry went back to the work on his desk. "Be there. Or else."
Clark sighed. "Yes, sir." How was he ever going to make it through this?
Perry smiled to himself as Clark left. He knew exactly — well, not exactly, but close enough — what happened in the Hilton honeymoon suite the night of Luthor's White Orchid Ball.
Clark opened the door to the honeymoon suite, trying desperately not to remember his wedding night. It seemed that night was the last time everything was perfect for him and Lois, but even that wasn't true. They hadn't even known each other when they had gotten married. It was a set-up of some kind, by a guy named Wells. He was sure the preacher, someone named Mike, was in on it, too. They had come here and that night their child had been conceived — the child they would never know.
He wearily set his bag down and looked around. He hadn't taken in the surroundings so well the first time he was here. He had been too busy looking at his beautiful bride and looking forward to what was about to happen. The room was nice, but there was no evidence of the surveillance equipment Perry had promised. He finally x-rayed the bedroom, hoping to find it in there. Still nothing.
He started to pick up the phone next to the sofa to call Perry and ask what the deal was. He stopped and turned as a key scraped in the lock.
Lois couldn't believe that Perry was making her do this. A stakeout in the honeymoon suite she had shared with Clark. It was inhumane. It was crazy. It was preposterous. But, it was her job. Perry had made that perfectly clear. She turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open with her toe. She shut her eyes and tried to shut out the memories that wouldn't go away.
"Lois, I told you I can't afford somewhere like this."
"I know, but I can. Call it your wedding present."
"I don't have anything for you."
"Sure you do and the sooner you take me upstairs, the sooner I can, uh, well, unwrap it?" She said that last with a question in her voice and in her eyes.
"If you're sure that's what you want." He searched her eyes trying to see what was written there.
She took his face in her hands. "I have never been more sure of anything in my life."
Clark picked her up in his strong arms and carried her toward the elevator. "Lois, are you absolutely sure?"
"Yes." After they entered the elevator, Lois reached over and pulled the stop button.
"Just what do you think you are doing?" he asked, a smile on his face.
"This," she replied and kissed him softly. After a moment, he used his elbow to push the button back in.
"Well, if you are planning on doing that, we better go find that room you were talking about." The soft pling! of the elevator told them that they had reached their floor. They didn't take their eyes off of each other as he carried her down the hall to their room. As she reached over and unlocked the door, Clark sighed. "Lois, there is something that we need to talk about."
She pushed open the door and whispered. "Talk can wait. Let's see if you can still kiss like you did in that lobby in Washington." She pulled his head towards hers as he kicked the door shut and carried her to the king-size bed.
"Lois," he groaned pulling away from her momentarily, "there is really something that I need to tell you."
"Later," was all she said as her lips captured his and he forgot all about what he was going to tell her.
She forced the memory to stop there. The rest of the night was too painful. The night they had made a child. Together. Like they thought they would always be. She didn't know if she could forgive him for believing the worst about her. He should have known her better than that and the fact that he never even tried to find out the truth was definitely not a point in his favor. She sighed as she walked into the room. She looked up and for a moment thought she had finally snapped.
There, in the middle of the room, stood Clark. Her husband. The man who would hold her heart forever. The only one she wanted to be the father of her… No, she forced the thoughts out of her mind. She wasn't going to go there.
"Lois." His soft voice broke her out of her reverie.
"Clark." She stalked past him and set her bag in the bedroom. She returned. "You can have the couch. You can always float if it's not comfortable enough for you. Where's the equipment?"
"It's not here. Perry didn't say anything about us working together."
"He told me I'd have a partner and if I wanted to keep my job, I'd shut up and do as I was told."
"Since when do you shut up and do as you're told?"
"Since I wanted to keep my job." She reached into the mini-refrigerator and pulled out a soda. "So call him already and find out the details."
Clark sighed. This wasn't going to be easy and he didn't know what Perry was up to, throwing them together like this. He reached for the phone, ready to give the editor a piece of his mind. He was stopped by a knock at the door.
"So, who is it?" Lois sat in the chair and looked at him expectantly.
"I don't know."
"Well, then answer it."
Clark sighed and walked to the door. A bellboy stood there with an envelope addressed to the both of them. Clark took it and tipped the bellboy.
Clark sighed again. Lois wasn't going to be easy to deal with in this kind of mood. "It's an envelope for us."
"Is it explosives?"
"I don't know!" Clark's exasperation came through loud and clear.
"Well, x-ray it then."
Clark obliged. "It's a note from Perry."
"Is this how this is going to be? Or can we at least be civil to each other?"
"Fine." Lois' voice changed drastically. It dripped sweetness as she said, "Clark, would you mind reading that and telling me what Perry had to say?"
Clark rolled his eyes. "Whatever." He opened the envelope and read from the sheet:
Listen, kids. Here's the deal. You two are not leaving this room until you have resolved your differences. Don't even think about trying to cut out before then. This tension is killing my newsroom, so if you two value your jobs, you'll work it out.
Clark let the letter flutter to the end table as he sank onto the couch. "I guess there's no stakeout then."
"I guess not. But I'm not going to sit here and rehash everything with you *again*. If you ever decide that you are going to apologize, let me know." With that she stood and walked towards the bedroom.
Another knock at the door stopped her. "Who is it?"
Clark lowered his glasses. "Another message. It's for you."
Lois rolled her eyes and opened the door. "Thanks." She didn't tip and she took the envelope towards the bedroom as she opened it. She stopped dead in her tracks. She read it aloud to Clark.
*Lois — Don't even think about hiding in the bedroom.
"How does he know me so well?" she whined.
"It's not that hard. I would've known."
"It's been months since we lived together, but I still think I know almost everything about you."
"Clark, you don't know half of it." Lois could almost hear his heart break again as she said it, but she didn't care. He had broken her heart over and over, whether he knew it or not.
"So explain it to me, Lois. Help me understand." She could tell that he meant every word he said.
"Maybe in some other lifetime." Lois knew her mother had told Clark about the miscarriage and he still chose to believe that she'd had an abortion. She didn't think she could forgive that. She stalked off into the bedroom. "Perry does *not* run my life!" And she slammed the door.
Clark stood to go after her, but seemed to realize that his efforts would be in vain. He sat slowly on the couch, unsure of how to resolve the situation.
The last couple of months hadn't been easy on either one of them. He knew that. Just because he didn't agree with what she had done and didn't understand her reasoning, didn't mean that he couldn't see that it was hard on her. He still stopped by her apartment every night and had seen her crying herself to sleep, often with the little teddy bear he had won for her, more times than he cared to admit. If he had any hope that she would let him in, he would have been there in a second. As it was, the one time he had knocked on her window, the reception had been rather frosty.
He loved Lois. He would do anything for her. The last couple of months had been hard on him as well. Seeing her with Luthor had almost been more than he could take. Luthor stopped by the newsroom almost every day and Clark was grateful he'd been on the road with the Metropolitans for at least part of the last two months so he didn't have to deal with it every day. They went out for dinner and Lois had been to Luthor's penthouse suite more than once. The rumor mills always hushed when Clark walked by, but his super-hearing had picked up enough of the gossip to know that everyone felt sorry for him. There had been one rumor at one point that Lois had actually miscarried — no one knew how that one started — but it was quickly squashed by the truth. It was obvious to everyone that Clark was still pining away over Lois and the general consensus was that he was too good for her and that he was better off without her.
Clark didn't believe that. Lois was the other half of himself. Without her, he couldn't live. He could go through the motions, do the things he needed to do, but it really wasn't living. Living was flying through the clouds with his wife in his arms. Living was coming home after a difficult rescue, knowing that no matter how much Lois resented his time away, she would be there for him when he needed her. Living was holding her as they slept, feeling her skin against his. Living was making love to his wife. Living was feeling her soft lips, seeing the sparkle in her eye, sharing a look of understanding.
This wasn't living. This was barely existing.
Living was something he didn't think he'd ever do again.
He heard her start to sob in the other room and reached a decision. She was his wife. For better or worse. And there was something he had to do.
Lois couldn't bring herself to lie on the bed so she chose the big chair instead. She pushed it into the recline position and settled in for a good cry. Perry didn't know what he was doing this time. Usually he was right on with his hunches, but this time, things were too far gone. Even knowing that Clark believed the abortion story didn't help any. She didn't know why he did, but Lucy said so, and it explained his attitude over the last couple months. But it still didn't explain how he could believe those things without even attempting to talk to her about it.
Lois' hand rested on her lower abdomen of it's own volition. She still felt like she could feel the child growing there. She would have been almost six months pregnant by now. Her little pooch that she'd been getting would have been a full-fledged belly by now. She started to cry, silent tears running down her cheeks. She would be able to feel the baby move by now and Clark might have been able to as well.
Clark. Her one true love. She knew she'd never be able to love another man as long as she lived. She'd never want to feel another man's arms around her, to have another man hold her when she cried. She never wanted to float in the clouds with anyone else, not that that was even remotely possible, she thought with a sad little grin. She had someone no one else did. The world's first and only superhero and the only man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. The only one she wanted to grow old with. The only one she wanted to be the father of her children. The only one. That's what it all boiled down to. Clark was the only one for her. Period. End of discussion.
So why was it so hard to go talk to him?
Things hadn't been all that wonderful between them, she recalled. They'd been fighting over what seemed like silly, inconsequential things in retrospect. Where to live, whether to tell her doctor about the Kryptonian genetics and the time that Superman took her husband away from her. They were issues that they'd needed to deal with, but the bitterness that had seeped into their conversations was certainly way out of proportion in the great scheme of life. She thought the Kryptonian genetics might have been somewhat evident when the doctor asked her if she wanted to know if the baby was a boy or girl. She had said no at the time because she had wanted Clark to be there so they could find out together. To find out if they had the son he'd always longed for or the girl that he dreamed of. The doctor had said that the baby had seemed slightly more developed than they had expected. Lois figured it was the Kryptonian part of his or her heritage that maybe made the development speed up some.
If only they had been able to grieve the loss of their child together, like her doctor had recommended.
She finally gave herself over to the sobs that she knew were inevitable.
A soft knock sounded at the door. She made no reply. She knew Clark would hear her, but she told herself that she wanted him to go away.
"Lois? Please. Can I come in?" Clark called gently.
"Go away," came the muffled reply.
"Please, Lois. Let me in."
"Go away, Clark."
"I'm not leaving until you let me in."
Lois knew, somehow, that this was one of life's defining moments. What she decided here would affect the rest of her life. If she told Clark to go away, there was a good chance he would never come back. As much as she didn't want to see him right now, could she live with herself later if he did go away? Finally, she made up her mind. Lois sat up a little straighter and swiped at her eyes. "Fine."
The door opened slowly. She could tell that Clark was avoiding looking at the bed, just like she had. There were too many memories there. He walked over and knelt by her side.
"Please, Lois. Talk to me. Tell me what it is. Let me help."
"You can't help, Clark."
Clark reached out and wiped the tears with the fingers of one hand.
Lois reached up to push it away, but her hand was captured in the large hand of her husband.
Clark looked at their hands that still looked so right together. With his other hand, he reached for her chin and tipped her head so she had to look him in the eyes.
He took a deep breath. "Lois, I made a promise to you. I promised to love you and honor you and to cherish you for as long as we both live. I promised to be there for you, in sickness and in health, for better or worse. I know I haven't done very well keeping those promises the last few months, but I want to. Please let me. Please tell me what happened. I want to understand. I love you, Lois. That's never changed and it never will, no matter what happens."
Lois looked into his deep, chocolate eyes, so filled with love and pain. She somehow knew he really didn't understand what had happened. Finally, she took deep breath and spoke. "I want to believe you, Clark. Really, I do. But I can't."
"Why not? I love you, Lois and I would never, *never* hurt you intentionally. Please?"
"You never came, Clark. Not when I needed you most. You never came."
"I never knew you needed me. I still don't know what really happened, remember? One minute, you helped me get home after being kidnapped and hurt by the Kryptonite and the next I was listening to a message from your mom telling me that you were staying with her and that you didn't want anything to do with me. I don't understand, Lois. I didn't then, and I don't now." He could tell Lois was having difficulty comprehending what he was saying, but he didn't understand why.
"What did my mother tell you?"
"She said that you were staying with her and to please not call, you'd get back to me in a couple of days."
"And you believed her?"
"No, of course not. I didn't want to anyway. I was just about ready to go over there when I checked my email. That's when I got the first email from you."
"An email from me? I didn't email you."
"It was from your Luthnet account and said basically the same thing the message from your mom said."
"I never emailed you, Clark. I don't even have a Luthnet account." Lois refused to get sidetracked. "My mom never told you what really happened?"
"No, I swear. I have no idea what happened that day."
Lois removed her hand from Clark's and began to pace around the room. "It all started while you were kidnapped. Remember, I'd been having some cramps off and on?" At Clark's nod, she continued. "Well, while I was trying to rescue you, I had some really bad ones. I pushed through them because all I could think about was getting to you. After I got you home, I left to run some errands."
"Weren't you supposed to have your doctor's appointment that day? The one where we'd get to hear the heartbeat?"
Lois nodded, the tears starting to run down her cheeks again. Just the mention of the baby they would never have was enough. "I went to that appointment, but not long after I left the apartment, I started spotting. I was bleeding pretty heavily by the time I got to the doctor's office." She played with her rings as she continued to pace. "He did an exam. The baby was gone, Clark."
"What?" Clark sank the rest of the way to the floor, his shoulders slumped, trying to comprehend what Lois was telling him. It was several minutes before he was able to speak and then his voice was a hoarse rasp. "The baby was… gone? Dead?"
Lois nodded again through her tears.
"Why didn't you call me?"
"I tried. I had turned the ringer off before I left so you could sleep. I called everyone to get them to wake you up, but no one was home. I tried Lucy and Jimmy's, everyone I could think of. They took me to another part of the hospital to do a dilitation and cutterage, a D and C…"
"A procedure commonly used for abortions, but also to empty the contents of the uterus after a miscarriage." It took only seconds for him to see what Lois saw as the ultimate betrayal — refusal to come to her side when she needed him most and then somehow, believe that it was all her fault in the first place. "Oh, God. What have I done?" Clark was at her side in a second, and took her hands in his. He looked earnestly into her eyes. "I swear, Lois. I had no idea. No clue at all. I didn't even know the baby was gone for a couple of days."
Lois tried to finish her story. She pulled her hands away from Clark's and turned. She couldn't deal with those big, brown eyes. "My mom saw me as they were moving me to the other part of the hospital. She stayed with me while they did the procedure and then took me home with her. You were still sleeping and I needed constant watching for about eight hours. I figured you'd be there by the time I woke up. She said she called several times and…" Lois thought for a moment. "I guess she never actually said that she talked to you, but she insinuated that you knew."
Clark moved to stand behind her. His hands rested on her shoulders as he said, "I didn't know, Lois, I swear. I didn't know for days. I mean, I think I felt something was wrong, but I didn't really know."
"How did you find out?"
"I got an email from you telling me. Lucy and Jimmy confirmed it. Lucy had gone to your mom's place and she told her. I guess your mom told her that you'd… you'd…" Clark ran his hands lightly down her arms. He couldn't keep his voice from cracking as he continued. "Your mom told Lucy that you'd had an abortion, not a miscarriage."
Lois' chin rested on her chest. "How could she? How could she do that?" The tears started again.
Clark turned her around and she didn't protest.
It felt so good to be in his arms again.
Clark held her as she cried once more. One hand gently stroked her hair while the other held her close. It was amazing to hold her again, but he couldn't let himself get carried away. She was emotional. They'd made progress.
Tears started to flow down his own cheeks. Tears he didn't know he had. He thought he'd been all cried out a month ago. But this was different. Lois had needed him and he hadn't been there for her. No matter that he hadn't known. Their baby had died, not by her hand, but through some other cause, and he hadn't been the one to comfort her. The one to hold her so that they could go through this together.
Lois felt the wetness from Clark's face fall onto her own and knew that he wept with her. She finally wrapped her arms around him and clung tightly to his waist. They were finally together. For now it was enough.
Long minutes later, something finally made it through her consciousness. "Clark?" Her voice was muffled in his chest.
"I never sent you an email about the baby, not until much later. After you told me you already knew."
A knock at the outer door kept Clark from responding. He looked over his glasses. "It's another message from Perry." He sat her down on the bed. "I'll be right back, okay?" Lois nodded.
He returned a moment later, page in hand. "I don't know how he does it."
Lois wiped her tears. "How he does what?
*Lois and Clark —
You've probably just started talking about the emails. Don't ask how or why just yet, but know this and we'll explain later. Clark, you received emails from someone you thought was Lois and Lois you received emails you thought were from Clark, but you never actually exchanged emails with each other. It was with some third party. We're working on finding out who. You two just concentrate on working things out together.
Perry, Jimmy and Lucy*
"What?" Lois was having a hard time realizing what Clark meant.
Clark sat on the bed next to her. "I don't know. I must have sent you, well, I don't know how many emails, but these guys say that I wasn't really sending them to you, but someone pretending to be you."
"And I sent you dozens of emails."
"But I must not have ever gotten them. All of the emails I got came from a Luthnet account."
"Same here. Ckent@luthnet.com."
"I don't have a luthnet address."
"Neither do I."
"So someone else was working to keep us apart."
"Who would do such a thing?"
Clark sighed, remembering the day he and Jimmy had gotten thrown out of the baseball game. "I have a couple of ideas. But we're not supposed to worry about it. Perry, Jimmy and Lucy are working on it."
Lois smiled. "So they're all in this together?"
"Sounds like it. But my money is on Jimmy finding out who set all this up."
"No bet. I know my sister and she has a hard time setting a VCR and we both know Perry hates technology. He'd still do everything by hand if he could."
"That's Perry for you." They sat in silence for some moments. It couldn't be described as a companionable silence, but the tension was much less than would have been the case only a few hours before.
Lois finally spoke. "Clark, there's something I have to know."
"Did you really believe that I could abort our child?"
Clark sighed. "I never wanted to, but all the evidence I had pointed that way. Your mom's message, the emails, what your mom told Lucy, the pamphlets and appointment card from the Reproductive Clinic. I didn't know how I could think otherwise."
"Pamphlets from the Clinic?"
"Yeah. There was one in your drawer at work. I couldn't stay home the next day so I went in to work and sat at your desk for a few minutes. I kinda poked around and found this brochure for the Metropolis Reproductive Services and Clinic. I just thought maybe you had heard something about them doing something illegal or something and were going to investigate. Perry didn't know anything about it so I just blew it off. It wasn't until I got the email from you and talked to Jimmy and Lucy that it meant anything." Clark stood and started pacing the room. "That was the first day that Superman was back. I had never been so grateful for a couple of natural disaster in my life. I didn't want to have to think about you or the baby or what I thought had happened. When I got home, I was going to make myself a cup of tea and found another pamphlet. This one was just about abortions. There was a card stapled to it that said you had made an appointment for that Monday and that you had actually made the appointment the week before. What was I supposed to think? It looked like you had called and decided to have an abortion without even talking to me. I didn't understand how you could do that."
"That's because I didn't. Clark, I have never looked into the Clinic for any reason."
"There was no reason for me to believe otherwise, though."
"I guess I can see that. But Clark, why wouldn't you just come to me? To talk to me?"
"Your emails made it pretty clear you wanted nothing to do me."
"Ah, back to the emails."
"Which we're supposed to leave to the partners in crime."
Clark stared at the floor for several minutes, unable to bring himself to look at his wife. "Did they say what happened? Why the baby…"
Lois shook her head. "The doctor said he thought it was the stress and everything I went through finding you, but he really didn't know for sure."
Clark turned the events of that fateful weekend over in his mind. Something occurred to him, something horrid. "Lois, were you ever exposed to the Kryptonite?"
"Sure." Lois shrugged. "I was in that loft for 12 hours or so. That guy came every two hours or so, so I must have been there when he opened the case 6 or 7 times. But Kryptonite doesn't affect humans, Clark."
"The baby was only half human, Lois. The baby was also half Kryptonian. How long do you think you were exposed?"
"Not all that long. A few minutes here and there." Lois' hand covered her mouth. "Oh, God. The cramps. They all happened within a few minutes of being exposed. I never made the connection. I thought it was just from being upset about seeing you getting beat up. It really is my fault. I killed our baby." Fresh tears started to flow down her cheeks.
Clark quickly reached out and drew her close. "No, Lois. There was no way you could have known how the Kryptonite would affect the baby. If it's anyone's fault it's mine. It's only because I'm different that it affected the baby at all."
Lois offered no argument, not because she believed what he said but because she couldn't hear him over her sobs.
It was some time before they both were able to compose themselves.
Lois pulled away from her husband. "What have we done, Clark?"
"What do you mean?"
"What have we done? We've let so many weeks slip by without even trying to really reach out to each other. We've let *someone* destroy our marriage and our lives without ever asking why."
"I don't know. Something went wrong, that's for sure." They sat there for a few more minutes. "Can we fix it?"
"I don't know if we can."
Clark took a deep breath before he asked his other question. "Do you want to?"
Lois looked at him and he saw the love that shone from her eyes. She reached up and put one hand on his cheek. "Clark, I love you. I have always loved you. Since the beginning of time, there has never been anyone but you for me. I think I knew that the moment I saw you standing by that elevator in Washington."
"Are you sure, Lois? I've made some pretty big mistakes in the last couple of months."
"You aren't the only one. I never should have let my mom take me to her apartment. I should have made her take me home and watch over me there. And then of course, there was Lex. Nothing ever happened with us, Clark. He hit on me all the time, took me and my mom out to dinner, then mom started making excuses. He was called out of the country about a week ago and since then, everything has been different."
Clark had a hard time listening to her talk about Lex. "What do you mean?"
Lois stood and started walking around the room. "I mean, he came by my mom's the first night I was there. Mom said he had a friend who worked at the hospital and that's how he knew. It was really weird. He brought me food all the time and other presents, but even though it never felt right, I couldn't turn him down. I wanted to, but I just couldn't. I had this weird attraction to him that I couldn't explain. I still can't. But ever since he left… I didn't hear from him for a couple of days and then a box showed up at my apartment. I was tempted to open it, but I didn't. I threw it away. I've talked to him a couple of times since and noticed things I never have before."
"Like the way he would word things. It was almost like they were orders posed as requests and he knew I would do what he wanted. The only thing I hadn't done was sign the… the divorce papers that his lawyer drew up. He wasn't very happy about that at all."
"*He* drew up the divorce papers?" Of all the gall… "When I saw them…"
"When did you see them?" A startled Lois looked at Clark. She hadn't wanted him to find out they even existed.
"That night I knocked on your window. They were on the coffee table."
"That was the night that he brought them by. That's why I was crying so hard."
"I still checked on you every night, you know."
Lois nodded. "I know. I could feel it."
"But you never signed them?"
Lois nodded again. "Something in me wanted to, to make Lex happy, but deep down, I knew I never could. If there was going to be a divorce, you would have to file the papers."
"I never wanted us to end, Lois."
"I know that now, but I didn't then. You hadn't been there for me when our baby… when our baby died. What was I supposed to think?" She looked at Clark and he shrugged. "I guess this has just been the most colossal misunderstanding in the history of the world. But, anyway, when I talked to Lex earlier this week, I didn't tell him I had thrown out all of the things that had arrived since he left. Something's changed. I can't describe it, but something has." Lois looked at her husband, sitting on that big, king-sized bed, and despite everything they had been through was almost overcome by the urge to push him over and kiss him like she used to. She noticed the frown on his face. "What is it, Clark?"
"Do you still have anything that he gave you?"
"I think so. I think there's some cake in the fridge from last month. You know how I am about cleaning out the fridge. Why?"
"I'm just wondering. Did anything you ate taste, well, off?"
Lois thought about it. "Now that you mention it, yes. You know that chocolate cake from Antonio's that I love?" Clark nodded. "I had some there yesterday and it was as wonderful as I remembered. But whenever Lex brought it, it tasted a little, well, off. I just thought it was because it was takeout. And he brought me some of those truffles, like the ones you flew to Belgium to get, and they tasted kinda funny, too." She shrugged. "What do you think?"
"I think, and I can't really say why or prove it, we'd have to look into it more, but I think that Lex may have been giving you some kind of psychotropic drug that made you susceptible to certain kinds of suggestions."
"Suggestions like finding him attractive and wanting nothing to do with you?"
"Right. I'd like to see that stuff. Maybe I can see or smell something to prove the theory. I love you, Lois, but you haven't been yourself lately. I mean, when was the last time Superman had to rescue you? Or the last time you actually did some investigating?"
"You're right. I've been wondering what's wrong with me. That could be it. Some kind of drug to alter my state of mind."
"I think he's the one who had us thrown out of the baseball game, too."
"What do you mean?"
"That game we were at about a week after this all started. Jimmy and I got thrown out of the game."
"Really? I thought you left because I was there and you didn't want to see me or something."
Clark sighed. "Actually, I had made up my mind to enjoy the game even with you there, but next thing we knew, we were being escorted out. We argued but they made us leave."
"What a slimeball." Lois had a hard time accepting he could have pulled the wool over her eyes for so long.
"I know and I promise we'll look into it soon."
He cocked his head to one side.
Lois had seen that look so many times before. She sighed. She should have known they'd never make it through the night without an interruption. "Go."
Clark looked puzzled. "Go where?"
"I've seen that look before. What is it? Bank robbery or natural disaster?"
Clark moved to her side. One hand cradled her face as he kissed her forehead lightly. "Nothing is taking me from here tonight. The world will just have to survive without Superman for a while. He has more important things to do. Like try to patch up his marriage."
"So what did you hear then?"
Clark smiled. "Lucy and Jimmy and Perry. They're trying to decide if now would be a good time to have dinner sent up."
Clark's smile turned into the thousand watt miracle that had the power to light up any room and make Lois' heart do flip flops. "I haven't heard you laugh in ages. That is a very nice sound."
Lois moved into his embrace. "I haven't laughed in forever." They stood there, relishing the feel of each other. "I've missed you, Clark."
"I've missed you, too, Lois. More than you'll ever know."
"Does this mean we've made up?"
"I think so."
"Should we tell them?"
It was Clark's turn to laugh. "No, I think we should let them sweat it out for a while longer. Besides, as long as Perry's picking up the tab, we should enjoy the dinner."
Lois laughed along with him. She rested her chin on his chest and looked up into his eyes. "Dinner sounds good."
Clark's voice was husky as he replied. "I'd really like to kiss you right now, Lois."
Her voice matched his. "I'd really like you to."
"Are you sure?"
Lois tried to nod against his chest.
Clark didn't have to move far as Lois' raised her lips to meet his. She tasted salty from the tears she had shed over the last few hours, but nothing could have been sweeter. He wrapped his arms around her back, one hand cradling her neck. He felt her melt against him, arms winding around his neck until they found their way into his hair. Nothing had ever felt so good.
Lois felt exactly the same way. To be held and kissed by her husband was something she never thought she'd experience again and she wanted to record every detail in her mind. She tried desperately to remain conscious of what was happening so she could remember later, but her mind went numb as she felt the hard muscles of Clark's well-defined chest underneath her hands as she reached up to pull him a little closer. As the kiss deepened, she groaned slightly, unable to maintain anything resembling cognition in her brain. There was no demand to his touch, no hint that he would push for more than she was ready for. Just like he always had. He kissed her for the sake of the kiss, like he always had, waiting for her to indicate that she was ready for something more intimate, and yet knowing that he wanted her as much as she wanted him.
Two parts of her battled against each other; one part wanted nothing more than to abandon all thought, all rationality, in Clark's arms, kissing Clark's lips, and losing herself in the all-consuming passion that they were so capable of. The other part of her tried to remind her that this was the same man who was able to believe the worst about her and that she should make him prove he was capable of her trust before allowing herself back into his bed. The first part of her mind was starting to win out and she could tell Clark was losing the same struggle, when there came a knock at the door.
Clark groaned as he pulled his lips from those of his wife. He wasn't sure when or how, but Lois held his glasses in one of the hands around his neck. He looked towards the front door. His voice was soft as he told her what he saw. "I guess they decided."
Lois was having a hard time concentrating on his words, as close as his lips still were. "Who decided what?" she asked in tones as soft as his.
"They decided it was time for dinner."
"What if I don't want any?"
Her stomach chose that moment to rumble.
Clark laughed as he took his glasses and started towards the door. He looked back at her as he went into the living room. "Don't want them to think things are going too well. I'd love to see what else they've cooked up to get us back together." He closed the door to the bedroom with a wink.
He quickly crossed to the front door of the suite. He thanked the man for dinner and tipped him well. He made sure that the man was still in earshot as he called, "Lois, dinner's here. If you're hungry."
Lois giggled as she walked out of the other room. "What'd they send?"
Clark looked under the silver top. He raised one eyebrow and smiled as he looked at her. "Pasta."
"What do you think, Chief?"
"I think it's dang hard to tell." Perry set down the binoculars he was using to scope out the honeymoon suite a few floors above him across the hotel. He was grateful that the suite was in the inside part of the "V" shape that made up the Hilton. It made the attempt at surveillance less impossible, but certainly not easy.
Lucy napped on one of the double beds in the room they were using as their headquarters.
"The busboy who took dinner up said the bedroom door was closed and that Lois was nowhere to be seen." Jimmy repeated the information that a good tip had wrangled from the young man. "He also said Clark looked rumpled."
Perry shrugged. "That doesn't mean anything. He may have been laying on the couch or something."
Jimmy sighed as he picked up the binoculars Perry was no longer using. "There are still lights on in both rooms."
"That doesn't mean anything either."
"How long are we going to stay here?"
"As long as it takes."
"When do you think we'll know?"
Perry couldn't suppress a grin. "Well, Clark hasn't hit the pavement yet, so that's a good sign."
Jimmy chuckled at the thought of CK being thrown over the balcony by Lois, plummeting down through the air, arms and legs flailing. "She may not be terribly fond of him right now, but I don't think even Lois would stoop that low."
"You never know, son. You never know."
"Clark, that was absolutely delicious."
They were sitting on the couch, wrapped in each other's arms, when there was another knock at the door. Clark looked through the door as he disentangled himself from his wife's arms.
"I think it's dessert."
"Yum! Is there any chocolate?"
Clark just wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Why don't you go hide out in there for a minute," he nodded towards the bedroom as he put his glasses on, "and I'll get the door."
Lois stood, but before she went into the other room, she pulled his head to hers and kissed him soundly. "How 'bout I start the hot tub?"
Clark smiled at her. "Sounds good to me." He kissed her again. "Now go."
She laughed softly and went into the other room.
Clark did his best to look dejected as he opened the door.
"Sir, this was sent up for you and the lady. Can I take your dinner dishes for you?"
"Uh, sure. Thanks." He helped the man wheel the dessert cart in and the dinner cart out and then tipped him. "I just hope it does some good," he muttered, just loud enough for the man to hear, knowing it would be reported to their three friends.
As soon as the door closed, one of the patented Kent grins spread across his face. He wheeled the cart into the bedroom just in time to see his wife disappear beneath the suds in the Jacuzzi.
"What'd they send?"
Clark smiled as he lifted the silver dome. "One of your favorites — chocolate and strawberries."
"I brought the rest of the champagne and thought that we could enjoy them in here. How's that sound?"
Clark grinned and, having noticed the straps of his wife's swimsuit, spun into a pair of shorts. He set the cart with the strawberries and the chocolate next to the Jacuzzi and handed Lois a glass of champagne. He flipped the light switch and used his vision to light the candles around the room. He joined her in the tub, sitting close to her, one arm lying along the tub behind her.
"Yep." He fiddled with the straps tied behind her neck. "Unless you have other ideas."
Lois rested her head in the crook of his shoulder. "No, I think we should leave things as they are for now."
He kissed the side of her head. "I think that sounds good, but if I'm going to feed you chocolate covered strawberries in a hot tub, things could get, ah," he scratched his head with his free hand, "a little tense for both of us."
"Well, then," Lois kissed his chin. "We'll just have to see what happens, because not only are you going to feed me some of those strawberries, but I'm going to feed you some back and I'm *not* getting cheated out of chocolate covered strawberries for anything."
Clark laughed. "Fine. Whatever happens…" He placed a soft kiss on her forehead, "Happens." He placed another soft kiss on her cheek and then another one on the side of her neck.
"Good. Now, if you don't give me some of those strawberries, you'll wish Kryptonite had gotten to you instead of me," she threatened, with a wicked little grin.
"As you wish, milady."
Clark was awakened by a shaft of light hitting his eyes. He blinked a few times and started to roll over, but was stopped by the unfamiliar weight on his chest. He looked down to find the beautiful brunette head of his wife resting in the crook of his shoulder and one arm flung across his body, doing what no one else could — keeping the man of steel down.
With one hand he brushed a long strand of brown hair away from her face and tucked it behind one ear. She looked as at home as ever in the silk top of his pajamas. He still wasn't sure what had possessed him to bring silk on a stakeout, but he was glad he did.
Lois moaned a little in her sleep as she rolled over.
Clark rearranged the covers to keep her warm and carefully left the bed. He had planned on just pulling the shades a little closer together, but couldn't resist the pull of the beautiful morning just outside. He opened the door to the balcony and stepped out, breathing deeply of the morning air.
"CHIEF!" Jimmy hit the older man on the arm.
"Wha? Huh? What is it?" Perry sat straight up in the chair.
"Look." Jimmy handed over the binoculars.
Perry peered through them and sure enough, there on the balcony — the bedroom balcony — of the honeymoon suite was Clark.
"I want to see." This came from Lucy who had finally woken from her slumber. She took the offered binoculars and stared up at her brother-in-law. "Hmmm. Bedroom balcony. Pajama bottoms, no shirt. Look at those muscles…"
"Sorry, sweetie, but you have to admit — Clark is well- built." She planted a quick kiss on his lips to let him know she only cared for him. "I would say something good happened last night."
Perry yawned. "So they made up?"
"If I had to guess… Hang on, the door's opening."
Lois awoke to find the bed next to her empty. That was nothing unusual, but the warmth still on the other side was. She smiled as she saw her husband leaning on the railing outside their room. There was nowhere else she'd rather be than out there beside him.
He didn't turn as she walked onto the balcony, so she stood behind him, arms around his waist, head resting on his strong, warm back. "Good morning, snuggle bunny." She hadn't said that phrase in months and it sounded good.
Clark chuckled as he turned in her embrace. He tucked that wayward strand back behind her ear as he looked into her beautiful eyes. "Good morning, my little tornado." He kissed her on her forehead. "I didn't think I could forget how good you look in the morning, but it appears my memory failed me."
Lois rested one hand on his chest. "You're not so bad yourself you know." She started to stand on her tiptoes so she could kiss him, but a gentle pressure on her waist stopped her. "What?"
"We have an audience."
"What are you talking about?"
"Perry, Jimmy and Lucy have a room a few floors down and binoculars."
"So they're spying on us, huh?"
"Well, then let's give them something to look at."
"Are you sure?"
"I think the secret's out already, Clark. We wouldn't be here like this — half-dressed, on the same balcony, looking like a couple in love — if we were still fighting."
"So," Lois shrugged. "Let's give them something to talk about."
Lucy watched through the binoculars and the other two squinted into the sun as Lois reached her arms around Clark's neck and pulled him down to her. All three turned away as the kiss deepened.
Perry cleared his throat. "Uh, well. I guess that answers that question."
Lucy turned back just in time to see her sister lead Clark back into the room and shut the door. "I guess it does."
The ringing phone startled all three.
Perry answered it and spoke briefly with whoever was on the other end. He laughed as he hung up the phone. "That was the front desk. The couple in the honeymoon suite said we can go home now."
"So you called them?" Lois yawned and stretched again as she left the bathroom.
Clark reclined on one elbow, appreciating as never before the sight of his wife's long legs. "I called the front desk and had them call. I also ordered breakfast."
"How did you know what I want?" Lois sat on the bed next to him, one long leg tucked underneath her.
Clark shrugged and smiled. "I guessed."
Lois reached out and brushed the hair off his forehead. "There's only one thing I really want this morning."
Clark grinned. "I thought we decided to wait a little bit on that."
Lois shrugged. "So I'm not all that patient. Deal with it."
Clark laughed and kissed her shoulder. "Well, I guess it's a good thing I told them to send breakfast up in an hour."
Clark nodded as he kissed the side of her neck. "Charged it to Perry's room, too."
Lois laughed and stretched out next to her husband. She reached up cradled the side of his face in her hand. "I have missed you so much, Clark. Not just your kisses, but all of you. I've missed my best friend."
Clark's eyes misted over as he stroked her cheek. "I've missed you, too, Lois. I've missed everything about you: Your smile, your eyes, your laugh, watching you try to make dinner, sitting on the roof of our building, flying with you, taking you to our little island, holding you in my arms, listening to you whine about not being able to go out on a story, the sound of you breathing in the middle of the night, talking to you about any and every thing, even fighting with you because then we could make up, making out behind the Tasty Freeze in Smallville." He kissed her softly. "Trips to the hayloft. Everything." He kissed her again.
Lois suddenly sat up. She started hesitantly, "Clark?"
"What is it, honey?"
"There's something we need to talk about before we… you know."
Clark sat up next to her. "What is it?"
"We have to talk about what happened."
"We have, Lois. It wasn't anybody's fault, except whoever kidnapped me. Not yours or mine and we have to move on with our lives. Together."
She turned and looked at him earnestly. "I know that, Clark. But last time we were here, we made a baby. Neither one of us had any kind of protection and after we found out we were pregnant, we never bought any. The timing's right, but I'm not ready to get pregnant again. Not when we just got back together and are still working things out."
"I should have thought of that earlier." Clark's eyes showed his pain and his worry. "I'm sorry, Lois. And I should have asked you something else a long time ago."
"What's that, Clark?"
"What did the doctor say about you? Are *you* okay?"
Lois nodded. "I can still have babies. I'll just have to be even more careful with my pregnancies from the beginning." She took a deep breath. "He can tell us if the baby was a boy or a girl. If we want to know."
"Do you want to?"
Lois nodded. "He offered to tell me right away, but I didn't want to find out without you. I think that if we found out, we could give this baby a name and maybe have a small memorial service and have some closure."
"I'd like that, Lois. Thank you for suggesting it. And thank you for waiting for me to find out. I'm just sorry it took us so long. We owe our baby better than that." He pulled her close and she snuggled her back into his chest.
"I can't go through that again, Clark."
"How can you be sure?"
Clark wrapped his arms a little tighter around her. "I can't promise that you… that *we* won't ever have problems with a pregnancy or lose another child — we can't control any of that. This baby could have been born and then been in a car accident or any number of things. I *can* promise you that if anything ever happened again, you wouldn't have to go through it alone. I won't ever let anyone or anything come between us ever again."
"I know, Clark, but still."
"I know." They sat there together for a long time, enjoying the company they had missed so much. "Why don't you go take a shower? I'll call Perry and leave him a message, telling him we're taking a few days off. Then, if you want to, I'll take our stuff down to the Caribbean and come back for you."
Lois nodded. "When do you want to find out about the baby? I mean, do you want me to try to get in to see the doctor before we go or wait 'til we get back or what?"
"It's up to you, sweetheart. Do you want to know before we go? Or do you think it would put a damper on things?"
"It's going to put a damper on whenever we find out."
"I know, but would you rather just spend the next few days together and work on us? Then we could deal with naming the baby and planning a service later."
Lois thought about it for a few minutes. "I think that I would like to spend the next few days grieving together over the child we lost *and* working on putting us back together. What do you think?"
Lois could hear the tears in his voice as he spoke. "I think that sounds perfect."
Two hours later, their bags were in the little hut and they were in the waiting room at Dr. Moore's office.
"I don't know if I can do this, Clark."
"We can go if you want to and do this another time."
Lois took a deep breath. "No, if we don't do this now, we never will."
Amber came to the door and called their names.
"It's now or never, Clark."
"Then let's go." Hands firmly intertwined they entered the doctor's office.
"I can't tell you how glad I am to see the two of you together." The smile on Dr. Moore's face was genuine.
"So are we, Dr. Moore." Lois smiled at Clark and squeezed his hand.
"What did you want to see me about?"
Lois took a deep breath before she started. "We've decided that we want to know if the baby was a boy or a girl, if there was anything wrong with the baby and what the cause of death was."
"That's a lot to want to know. Are you sure?"
Lois and Clark shared a look and Clark answered for both of them. "We've been through a lot the last few months and we think that knowing all of this will help us put everything behind us and give us some closure."
Dr. Moore nodded. He looked at Lois' chart before beginning. "As far as the baby is concerned, there was no obvious sign of the cause of death. Like I told Lois before, as best we could tell it was just the stress and everything that happened that weekend. Your body couldn't deal with it and the baby took the brunt of that. There wasn't anything obviously wrong with the baby, though there was more development than we had expected to see."
"What do you mean by that, Doctor?" Clark had to know if there was something dangerous about his Kryptonian heritage.
"I mean, Lois was about 14 weeks pregnant, but the baby appeared to be at 14 1/2 to 15 weeks along. It's not a very big deal as every baby develops somewhat differently."
"Does that mean I would have delivered early?" Lois wanted to know as much as possible as well. They had discussed it and hoped that some good could come out of this for their future children, so they would know what to expect.
"Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to tell. The development could have slowed down later and been more on par with what is normal. But normal, or average, is just that. Some develop faster, some slower. Within a certain range there is nothing to worry about and you were definitely within that safe range."
Lois and Clark exchanged a relieved look.
"As for the gender of the baby, you had a little boy."
The tears started to run down Lois' face and Clark had to swallow hard to keep his eyes from overflowing. "Thank you, Dr. Moore. Lois and I appreciate your honesty."
"I wish it didn't have to be this way, but please let me know if there's ever anything I can do for you."
The couple stood and Clark again answered for both of them. "We will." They shook hands and the couple started to leave.
Lois turned back. "Dr. Moore, we're not ready to try for a family just yet."
He nodded. "I understand." He scribbled on his prescription pad. "Here. This should do the trick until you're ready, but they won't help right away, so I would suggest another form of protection until then."
Lois took the offered sheet. "Thank you."
Another hour later, they touched down on the sandy beach. They had agreed to wait until they were alone to talk. The pharmacy had taken longer than they expected and the flight had been a quiet one.
Clark gently set Lois on her feet, but didn't release his hold on her. They stood there for what seemed like eons, tears silently flowing down their cheeks.
Finally, Lois spoke. "I didn't think I had any tears left."
"Me either. But if I had to share this with anyone, I'm glad it's with you."
"Do you want to talk about it now?"
Lois shook her head and stepped back. "I'd like to change clothes first and maybe get something to eat."
"Would you like me to go get something?"
"No. I don't want you to leave. Do we have anything here?"
Clark nodded. "I stopped by my apartment earlier and picked up some stuff."
"That's something else we need to talk about, Clark. Where are we going to live?"
"We'll figure something out." He took her hand and led her up the little path to their hut. "You change and I'll get us something to eat." He put a hand under her chin and turned her face so he was looking her in the eye. "Let me know when you're ready to talk. Until then, I won't say a word."
Lois nodded, unable to speak and amazed again at the compassion in the man she married.
Soon, they were sitting on the sand, eating sandwiches and making small talk. Clark was going to ask to stop following the baseball team and to be partnered with his wife once again. Neither thought Perry would mind.
That was how they spent the rest of the day — getting reacquainted with each other. All day, they stayed close together, touching often. Little touches, holding hands, hugging, anything to reaffirm the other's presence.
It was dusk before Lois brought up the baby. Clark was sitting behind Lois, rubbing her neck as they stared at the bright reds and oranges in the sky, reflected on the water.
"We had a boy, Clark."
He stopped his gentle ministrations and pulled her close to him. "I know."
"What would you like to name him?"
"I don't know. We never really talked about it before."
"Would you like for him to be a 'junior'?"
Clark thought about it for a minute. "I don't think so. I never really liked that idea. I mean, I understand why people do it, but I just never really wanted to. I always figured that my wife and I would pick a name that meant something to us."
"Okay. So what name do we want to use?"
"We could use names from our family or friends. Fathers, uncles, cousins."
"You mean something like Jonathan Samuel?"
"Or Samuel Jonathan. Either is a possibility."
Lois took a deep breath and wrapped her arms around Clark's, hugging them closer to her. "Would we rather save that name for one of our children who live?"
Clark thought about that. "I think we should pick a name that we like, and use it regardless. This child deserves that much."
"Do we want to name the baby for our dads?"
"I don't know. Your dad, sure, but you know how well my dad and I get along. I'm not sure if I even want to name a baby for my dad. If we named the baby 'Jonathan Samuel', Dad would want to know why his name didn't come first. If we named the baby after your dad and not him, he'd be really upset. If we named the baby after him and saved Jonathan for another baby, he'd be upset because we named a baby who was already," her voice cracked, "dead after him."
He held her a little tighter. "So, it's both or neither."
"Do you like either one?"
"I don't know. What other options are there?"
"There's your Uncle Mike. My Uncle Joe. There's names that we just like, that aren't related to us in any way."
"True. I think I like Joe. We could call him Joey."
"Joey. I like that."
"How about Joseph Michael, after our favorite uncles?"
"Joseph Michael. Joey. I like that, too."
"So it's settled?"
Lois nodded as they both stared at the waves and the setting sun. "Joey, we'll always miss you and we'll always love you."
Silent tears once again ran down their cheeks, but this time they were tears of healing and not of sorrow. They were recovering. Together.