By Laura Davies AKA BrightFeather <email@example.com>
Submitted: July 2002
Summary: Someone is burning down art galleries and stealing the artworks. But when Lois and an old friend investigate, they find he has nefarious plans for them, too.
WARNING: This fic has been rated PG13 for violence.
Author's Note: All the usual disclaimers apply. <g> Thanks to my BRs, Helen, Fortran, and Tricia. And to the gentle readers on Zoom's message boards and to the gang on IRC… without y'all, this might have never gotten finished.
Lois woke with a start. She glanced over at the clock and shivered: 2 AM. It was far too cold to be sleeping without blankets, but Clark could be a restless sleeper, and it looked as if he had kicked them off somewhere… again. She shivered, unwilling to get up and search for the blankets; they could be anywhere.
Lois rolled over and smiled tenderly at her sleeping husband. Glad that there had been no late night calls, she gently brushed a lock of hair away from his temple. <Well,> Lois thought, <there are other ways to get warm.> Lois cuddled next to her sleeping husband. She twined her legs in his, threw an arm around his waist, and laid her head on his chest.
Clark shifted a bit in his sleep and put an arm around her. Lois smiled sleepily. She loved how he responded to her needs… even in his sleep. Her last conscious thought before she drifted off to sleep was that this was exactly where she belonged; exactly where she wanted to be.
Clark struggled out of sleep to the annoying buzz of the alarm clock. "Lois, honey," he said, kissing her softly, "time to get up."
Lois yawned and said sleepily, "I wish you would wake me like that every morning."
Clark said laughingly, "As you wish, milady!"
Perry sat in his office and stared off into space, thinking. <How am I ever going to get Lois and Clark to go on this interview?> he wondered. <Clark will do it, but Lois? She hates *fluff* pieces!> Perry sighed; he had the feeling that there was something more to this than a simple artist's interview. After all, he'd changed this particular artist's diapers; he could always tell when she was hiding something from him… something that was probably dangerous. She didn't want to be protected, but he couldn't help himself; he was a Southerner, and by Elvis's favorite cape it just went against the grain to let any of *his* women-folk put themselves in danger! Elvis hadn't let Priscilla stick out her neck, so why should he let his niece do the same? <Lois does it all the time,> the traitorous voice in the back of his head informed him. He knew that, but *Lois* had Clark looking out for her, and she could take care of herself! Perry thought. Lois and her partner were going to do this job—he would just have to wait a bit to break the news. By Elvis, he *would* have his way… or else!
Clark glanced over at his wife. She was sitting on the passenger side of the Jeep, staring at him. She had that mischievous smile on her face that said they had better get to work soon or they would be seriously delayed.
Clark pulled the car into the Planet's garage. "Honey, we're here," he said.
"Hmmm? Oh, sorry," she said, "I was just thinking."
Lois smiled at Clark and his heart turned over. It still amazed him; Lois, his wonderful, smart, beautiful wife. All she had to do was smile… and he was a goner.
Lois reached for Clark's hand as they walked towards the elevator. As the doors closed, she linked her arms around his neck. "I love you, Clark," she whispered.
"I love you too," he said as he brought his lips down on hers. Suddenly, they were conscious of applause and wolf- whistles as the doors of the elevator opened up into the newsroom.
Perry sat in his quiet, brightly-lit office and smiled as he heard the applause coming from the newsroom. "Lois, Clark—in my office now!" he shouted. Lois and Clark exchanged a worried glance. What had they done now? Feeling like cookie thieves with hands caught in the cookie jar, they frantically dumped their belongings at their desks and went inside Perry's lair.
"Lois and Clark, I have an assignment for you," Perry said gruffly. "I've got an up-and-coming young artist that I want you to interview."
"Chief, you know I don't do *fluff* pieces!" Lois exclaimed, as she paced back and forth across the room. "Isn't that more within Ralph's purview? Besides, interviewing artists is the art critic's job! Since when did I become an art critic? I have some major stories to work on! I'm an investigative reporter, for heaven's sake! A *fluff* piece? You have *got* to be kidding!!!"
A look of patience crossed Clark's face. From Perry's expression, there was no doubt who would eventually win.
"Great shades of Elvis!" Perry thundered, throwing his hands upward in a plea for patience. "Lois, I am *not* going to send Ralph to do this interview! You already know the artist… her name is Rebekah Petersen; she's my niece, my sister's daughter."
"Perry," Lois growled, "I don't care if she's Andy Warhol! I'm not doing it!"
"Yes, you *are*," Perry stated with quiet certainty. "There's more to this interview than meets the eye; Rebekah's hiding something from me… I smell news, and you're going to find out what it is. It's more likely she'd tell you anyway; y'all *were* friends after all!"
Lois thought for a minute and finally gave in… the name did sound familiar. "Rebekah?" Lois looked puzzled for a moment, but comprehension suddenly dawned on her face. "Chief, you don't mean Beky, do you?" Lois asked. She turned to Clark. "Rebekah and I did our internships here at the Planet. If I remember correctly, she was only fourteen at the time… a really old fourteen. She was really more like a kid sister than anything else… I was closer to her than I was to Lucy."
Perry smiled. "Yep, that's the one."
"But, Chief, I thought that Beky was a writer…" Lois trailed off.
"Among *other* things," Perry smirked. "She's not your run- of-the-mill artist. Bekah is represented by every major gallery from here to New York City and from New York to Atlanta. Stick around… she'll be here around lunch."
Lois and Clark exchanged a look. "Okay, Chief," they said simultaneously.
As Clark and Lois walked out of Perry's office, Clark let out a yell. "Jimmy!"
Jimmy ran up to the pair and said, "Yes, CK, Lois?"
"Jimmy," Clark said quietly, "I want you to dig up everything you can on a Rebekah Petersen."
"I'm on it, CK," Jimmy said as he headed to his computer terminal.
Jimmy looked up from his research as the elevator door opened and a girl walked out. The way she was dressed, she sure didn't look like she belonged in a newsroom. Jimmy stared at her for a moment, uncertain what to do. Tall and stocky, the girl was dressed in carpenter-style overalls, a brightly tie-dyed T-shirt, and open-toed sandals. Her long, sun-streaked light brown hair was gathered into two thick braids that fell past her waist. Jimmy walked up to her and cleared his throat. "Excuse me, miss, but can I help you?" he asked.
"I'm here to see the Editor," the girl said with a slow smile. Jimmy met her eyes just in time to see laughter lurking in the gray-green depths.
"I'll s-s-show y-you to h-his office," Jimmy stammered. He felt his neck begin to turn red at her level regard. He'd never heard an accent like hers before… a soft Southern drawl that sent tingles up and down his spine. <It's so smooth,> he thought, as he led her toward Perry's office.
"H-h-h-here's h-h-his office," said Jimmy, stammering slightly.
"Thank you." The girl smiled at him. Jimmy started to feel the beginnings of a crush… and he didn't even know her name! He *had* to find out more about her.
The girl stuck her head into Perry's office. "Uncle Perry," she exclaimed laughingly and ran over to give him a hug.
<*Uncle* Perry?> Jimmy thought. <Wow! I'll have to be careful how I go about this!> thought Jimmy as he walked away, shaking his head, lost in thought.
"Great shades of Elvis, Rebekah, you're *early*!" Perry exclaimed as he returned the embrace. "C'mon, there are some people I want you to meet." Perry took Rebekah's hand and led her over to Lois and Clark's desks.
Clark looked up as he heard Perry approaching. "Hi, Chief," he said, causing Lois to divert her attention from the computer screen. Clark stood up and walked over.
"Clark, I want you to meet m'niece, Rebekah. Lois, I'm sure you remember her. Rebekah, this is Lois Lane and Clark Kent."
"*Rebekah*?" Lois questioned incredulously.
"Yep, it's me." Rebekah smiled mischievously. "I remember you as being taller!"
Lois laughed. "Well, as I remember it, you were considerably shorter, so we're even! Clark, come and stand next to Beky for a minute." Lois looked at both of them and then nodded in satisfaction. "I thought so," she said. "Beky, you're only about half an inch shorter than my husband and partner here."
"He's your husband?" Rebekah said, looking Clark up and down. "Darlin', you sure got lucky! What happened to the Lois I'm-never-getting-married-until-I-get-a-Pulitzer Lane that I know and love?" Mischief and laughter danced in Rebekah's eyes as she walked over to Lois, grabbed her the lapels of her coat and exclaimed, "Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?"
Lois laughed and hugged Rebekah. "I'm still the same Lois… only I met him," Lois said, her eyes softening as she looked at her handsome husband.
Rebekah grinned. "Okay, you're gonna have to tell me everything! Now, Lois, don't get that look on your face… y'know, the one that says that you're gonna leave stuff out! After all, it's your own fault for not staying in touch!"
Lois laughed suddenly. "All right, already!" she said. "I admit, I could have answered your letters."
"Yes, you could have," Rebekah said laughingly. Rebekah's face started to look more serious. "I could have kept writing you too…"
Clark's face suddenly took on that familiar, abstracted look. "Lois," he began.
Lois interrupted, "Clark, could you please go check on that source for me so that Beky and I can talk?"
Clark smiled. "Sure, sweetheart," he said.
As Clark ran toward the door, loosening his tie, Rebekah turned toward Lois, took a deep breath, and said, "Lois, there's more to this interview than Uncle Perry let you know about."
Lois stared at her friend in disbelief. "What do you mean, Rebekah?" she asked quietly.
Rebekah took a deep breath, closed her eyes and began to explain. "Lois, Uncle Perry knows nothing about this. See, I came to Metropolis because I have three gallery openings in the next three months… and I was following a story. I have details, but I think that Clark should be in on this too… he is your partner, after all, and this may be the biggest story to hit the art world in twenty years." Rebekah looked at her closest friend uncertainly. Lois was as close to her as she'd ever let anyone get… arm's length was close enough. "Lois, will you and Clark please help? I haven't really done much investigative reporting since our internship 11 years ago; when I've written for papers it's been as a feature writer."
Lois knew that her friend was serious. After all, it had been Rebekah who taught her how to "dangle above the jaws of death like an hors d'oeuvre." Strangely enough, Rebekah, at all of 14, had taught her how to be totally fearless in the face of danger. <It's strange how one person can make a difference,> Lois thought soberly. It was Bekah who had been there for her after Claude… who, even after they had pretty much lost touch, continued to send notes and cards that showed up during the darkest times of her life. Lois felt as if she owed her… it was why her first Kerth had been dedicated to Bekah… and Rebekah's friendship had made it a bit easier for her to open up to her best friend, soul mate, and husband, Clark. "Rebekah, how can we not help? Even after we lost touch, you've always been my friend. Besides…" Mischief lit Lois's eyes. "Clark thinks I get into trouble now; wait until he sees what kind of trouble the *two* of us manage to stir up!"
Rebekah looked at Lois, trying to suppress the explosion of laughter that threatened to well up. Lois's evil smile matched her own at they both remembered their internship days as the "Troublesome Two". Together, they had gotten into more trouble than the twenty or thirty years of past interns put together! The laughter was all Rebekah's fault; she lost it. Apparently it was infectious because the next thing she knew, Lois was laughing so hard that tears were rolling down her face.
Clark flew back to the Planet. He had been lucky; in a twelve-car pile up, no one had been seriously hurt. He thought about Rebekah, and wondered why Lois had never mentioned her. Clark saw the Planet and speeded up so that no one would see him approach. He landed on the roof, spun into normal clothes, and walked down into the newsroom. Riotous laughter greeted him. He grinned to himself as he walked over to his wife and her old friend.
"What's so funny?" he asked, still smiling.
"Nothing much, Clark," Lois gasped. "Just an old joke… resurfacing." At Lois's comment, Rebekah began to giggle harder. After all, neither she nor Lois were going to let Clark know what kind of trouble they were going to get him into… yet.
After a few minutes, the girls settled down. "Lois and Clark," Rebekah began, "I have something I need to tell y'all. Is there someplace we can go to talk? There are just too many listening ears here…"
Lois and Clark exchanged a glance. "How about the Conference Room?" they said in unison.
Rebekah nodded wearily. "That'll do."
Once in the Conference Room, Rebekah began to pace back and forth nervously. "You may not believe this. The police didn't. They said that the pressure that I've been under since forever was finally getting to me. I guess they just don't like to hear about crimes that have been going on under their noses in cities worldwide for practically years. I'm not exactly sure where to start telling you this… very strange story." Rebekah paused for breath as Clark started to laugh.
"Let me guess," he said with a chuckle. "Lois's babbling rubbed off on you!" The three of them laughed a little, dispelling the tension in the room.
"Let me start again," Rebekah said finally. "For the past few years, there has been a rash of Art Gallery fires. These fires always take place the night after a show opens featuring a major artist. I started looking into them after four of my shows got burned out. There are a few really strange facts about these fires; there are never signs of arson, and there are never any traces of the artwork found in the ruins. To make matters worse, I've seen some of it show up in museums and private collections."
Clark let out a slow whistle. "Are you sure?" he asked.
"Positive. Three years ago, one of my first pieces was accepted into a major show. The night after the opening, the gallery burned to the ground, and all of the pieces in it disappeared." Rebekah paused and continued softly, "That missing piece of mine is now in the Metropolis Museum of Art, valued at 2.4 million dollars."
Lois stared at her friend in shock. <How could something little Beky made be worth that kind of money?> she thought. Finally, after taking a deep breath, Lois said, "I think you're right… this is big!" Lois smiled; this was *huge*.
"Y'all are gonna need my contacts so that people'll talk to you," Rebekah continued, "therefore, we're gonna have to figure out some way to con Uncle Perry into assigning me to the art beat. Any ideas?"
"Well," Clark began, "we do already have an art critic… " It was then that the screaming started. Clark listened intently for a moment and then smiled crookedly. He looked over at Lois and gave a tiny, almost imperceptible shake of his head. This time, no one required a rescue. By unspoken accord, the three of them walked out into the newsroom to find the source of the screams. A glance toward Perry's office revealed all. A strangely dressed little man paced back and forth, waving a pink slip and gesticulating wildly as he heaped abuse upon the editor. "At least, we *had* an art critic," Clark amended as Planet Security came in to drag the little man away.
"Excuse me for a moment," Rebekah murmured, "but I think I had better go apply for a job…" Rebekah walked toward Perry's office, wishing she had a resume with her. "Uncle Perry," she said softly.
Perry looked up from his desk. "What can I do for you, darlin'?" he asked.
"Uncle Perry, it's come to my attention that you need a new art critic… I'd like to stay in Metropolis for a while, so I'd like to offer my services."
Perry smiled to himself. He would *love* to have his beloved niece working with him, but there *were* formalities to be considered. "Honey, that's nice, but what kind of experience do you have?"
Rebekah sighed and wished, just this once, he'd go easy on her. "Uncle Perry, I'm afraid I don't have my resume on me today, but I was the critic for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution last year and the Chicago Sun-Times the year before that."
Perry started in surprise. How could he have missed this? His favorite niece, writing for major papers? He suddenly realized how little he really knew her. "You're hired," he said curtly. "Jimmy!" Perry yelled. Jimmy rushed into his office. "Jimmy, show Miss Petersen around; she's going to be working here. And Rebekah, take Lane and Kent with you the first few times. I'm temporarily assigning you to them until you learn the ropes around here. There's a gallery opening at the Rome Gallery for George Boges tonight at 8. I want you to go… take Lane and Kent with you."
"Yessir," Rebekah said. "Want me to tell Lois and Clark?"
Perry nodded and shooed her out the door.
As Jimmy began to give Rebekah the grand tour, Clark ambled over to Lois's desk and sat down on it. He smiled as his wife put her hand on his. He looked down at her smiling face and said, "So why didn't you ever say anything about Rebekah before?"
Lois pondered his question for a moment before replying, "I guess it just never came up. I mean, we had been good friends, but she's been away for a long time. Despite evidence to the contrary, it was easy to believe that she didn't care. For a long time, I thought that she was just another person who was passing through my life… another person leaving me."
Clark laid his hand on her cheek in a familiar caress. "But didn't she say that she wrote you?"
"She *did* write," Lois confirmed, "but I was just too busy to write back. After a few years, she mostly stopped writing, but I always seemed to get notes and cards from her when I most needed a friend." A faraway look appeared in Lois's eyes. "The day after you left for New Krypton, I got a long letter… and a card after that. She always managed to let me know that she was there if I needed a friend during the painful times… I think that Perry must have had a hand in some of it…"
Clark smiled his beautiful smile and leaned down to kiss her. "I'm glad that you had someone to lean on when I couldn't be there for you," he said softly. "I'm glad that I'll probably get to know her now. It's almost a sure thing that Perry will assign her to work with us on this story… and that we'll still have to interview her and write it up. I guess we get to teach her a few things."
Lois suppressed a smile and a laugh as she looked at her husband. She didn't want to miss the look on his face when he realized that the opposite was true… Rebekah would probably teach *them* a few things. She wondered if she could get Bekah to teach her how to bypass electronic locks.
Jimmy, for once totally overjoyed to follow his boss's orders, smiled happily as he began to show Rebekah around, pointing out all of the relevant areas of the Planet. <She's so beautiful,> he thought to himself, <and her *voice*!> Jimmy hoped that if he ever got up the guts to ask her out, she would actually say yes.
Rebekah followed Jimmy around, absently noting the locations of everything that he showed her. She hoped that Clark and Lois were free to go to the opening tonight… the arsonists probably wouldn't put in an appearance… George Boges just wasn't a big enough name for the thieves to notice. But she knew the artist, and this was one opening that she definitely didn't want to attend alone.
Jimmy led Rebekah over to her new desk, close to Lois and Clark. He said goodbye quietly and left. After all, he got the feeling that she didn't yet know that he was alive… a situation that he would have to rectify rather quickly.
Rebekah walked over to Lois and Clark. "Hey y'all," she began, "There's a gallery opening tonight at 8 and Uncle Perry wants y'all to come with me." She paused for a moment before continuing, "I'd rather not go alone to this one, anyway; the artist is a slimeball." She smiled mischievously. "Clark can play over-protective big brother and keep 'im away from me!"
"Of course we'll come," Lois said with an internal sigh. She *had* been hoping for some time alone with her husband… "But why do you need Clark to *protect* you? As I remember it, you're pretty good at taking care of yourself!"
Rebekah grimaced. "Yeah, but I'd damage him. All Clark has to do is loom a little bit. The last time this guy came after me I had him singin' soprano for a month! We'll have to raid closets for appropriate wardrobe. You can always tell the artists from everyone else… and they talk more freely if they think that you're an artist too. We've got to promote the myth of the artist!"
Clark made a face. He could see the kinds of stuff that Rebekah would come up with to dress him in—and he knew that Lois would insist that they follow her advice! It might be necessary, but that didn't mean that he had to like it.
"Well, that was a waste," Lois said with a grimace as she flopped down on the couch in the living room of their brownstone.
Rebekah, who had come back with them, opened her laptop and began typing. "Not necessarily," Rebekah answered. "Because of Clark's, uh… performance, I doubt that George will come after me when he sees this review. I mean, the man has no right to call himself a professional artist!"
Clark cleared his throat, "Well, um, it wasn't *too* bad…"
"You're right, Clark," Rebekah said laughingly. "It wasn't too bad, but it wasn't any good either! There! All finished." She ran the spell checker and turned to her friends. "Look it over for me?" she asked half pleadingly.
Lois came over and started reading. She smiled first, began to chuckle, and then started laughing harder. "Clark," she gasped in between spasms, "you *have* to read this!"
Clark walked over and began to read through the article. He grinned suddenly. "Right on the money. Perry will love this. It's a good thing that my… 'performance' impressed this guy, or you just might be in trouble!"
Rebekah suppressed a yawn as she connected to the Daily Planet network and LANed the article to Perry. "I think," she said with a sleepy smile, "that it's time I went back to my apartment. My show opens tomorrow night, so if what I suspect is true, and the thieves follow true to form, they should show up at the gallery the day after; I should be at the opening, and then the three of us should try to get definite evidence. Oh! I almost forgot… here's everything I've been able to find." Rebekah pulled a disk out of her backpack and handed it to Clark.
"I'll go through this and get Jimmy looking for more information," Clark said. "We need to find out not just who's stealing the art and setting the fires, but who's behind it too."
"It could be lots of people… Intergang, some other relative of Luthor's, or even a crazy art collector!" Lois said seriously. "We can try to figure it out tomorrow…"
Rebekah yawned again. "True, but I really think that it's time I went home… I can't fall asleep riding my Harley, now can I? G'night you two!" Rebekah slung her backpack on her back and headed out the door. It wasn't really that late, but she had seen the look on Lois's face earlier that day and knew that her friend wanted some time alone with Clark. Since Perry's dictum had prevented it, Rebekah thought that it was only fair that she help the two out. Rebekah climbed on the back of her beautiful blue Harley and headed for her new apartment; she could always do some more research there…
Lois leaned back against Clark as they sat on the couch. It had definitely been a very long day! First, an old friend appeared out of nowhere, and the same friend had the story of the decade with her. It was a *huge* coincidence… if it was one. "Clark, honey… this may seem strange, but how can we be sure that Rebekah is *really* Rebekah? I mean, her appearing and just *happening* to have the biggest story that I've seen in a long time is simply too weird! I mean, I haven't seen her in eleven years, how can we be sure that it's the same person? The Rebekah I remember was a gangly, accident-prone fourteen-year-old with a penchant for getting into trouble, a talent for hacking people off, and a tendency to swear at people in foreign languages! How can we know that she's who she says she is? The Rebekah I knew was a writer; she wanted to be an investigative reporter… and she was good at it. I admit that the article she wrote just now seems an awful lot like her style but…"
Clark, deciding that she had babbled enough, stopped her babble the only way he knew how; he kissed her. Her arms found their way around his neck. The kiss deepened and they finally broke contact, coming up for air. Clark was still feeling a bit dizzy when he took a deep breath and began to try to answer his wife's question. "Sweetheart, we can't know… at least not yet, but I asked Jimmy to get whatever information he could dig up on her… just in case. We should have it in the morning. We can talk to Perry, I mean, he *has* to have seen her at family gatherings. We'll find proof either way eventually. In the meantime…" His voice grew husky as he lowered his mouth closer to hers. "I can think of other things we can do to… pass the time." Clark picked Lois up and whisked her up to the bedroom.
The newsroom was quiet… too quiet for this time of day. It was eleven AM and the Planet was dead. It was an extremely slow day for news. Perry sat in his office chuckling over the story that *his* niece had turned in. He had remembered that she could write, but this! "Petersen!" he bellowed. "In my office now!!"
Rebekah ran into Perry's lair, hoping that she wasn't in trouble. She didn't think that her article was *that* bad… after all, Kent and Lane had liked it! "Yes, Chief?" she said with a question in her voice as she watched Perry close the door behind her and put the blinds down. Her breath caught in her throat; she remembered those signs from her intern days… the door closed and the blinds went down just before her uncle reamed someone out. <I'm in trouble now!> Rebekah thought.
Perry caught the look of trepidation on his niece's face and chuckled to himself. He might just let her stew… a little. "Rebekah," he began, "I've just finished going over your article and I have to say… by Elvis, this is the finest piece of feature writing that I've seen in years! Kerth material for sure." A crafty look came over his face… just maybe… "So, Petersen, when would you like to give up the art business and come to work for me here at the Daily Planet forever? With your style, and special 'skills'…" Perry looked at her with a twinkle in his eye and winked. "You could be on par with Lane and Kent in no time! I smell Pulitzers!" Perry smiled broadly as he thought of Rebekah's gifts. After all, her artistic ability and journalistic talents were only the tip of the iceberg.
Rebekah looked at her uncle in shock before she started laughing. "Uncle Perry," she said, "I'm flattered, but well… I want to do what I'm doing for a while. You know that I can always switch careers at the drop of a hat, anyway… As for my writing…" Rebekah smiled mischievously. "How could I help but write well? I mean, you were a great journalist, and, well, Dad *is* a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist… Writing runs in the family!"
Perry shook his head; he couldn't argue with her there. "Go find Lane and Kent and get me a story! We have a newspaper to put out!"
Rebekah walked out of his office and over to Lois's desk, where she had seen her friend before being shut in her uncle's office. "Find anything?" she asked as she looked at her friend's computer screen.
Lois grimaced. "Unfortunately, no." Lois tucked a recalcitrant strand of hair behind her ear and wished for one of Clark's neck rubs. "Clark's over with Jimmy checking up on some leads. I've run a search and come up with nothing. The problem is, we need more links between the fires. What we have so far is just a lot of coincidence."
Rebekah took a closer look at Lois's computer and began muttering softly under her breath. Lois tried to understand what she was saying, but, as what she was saying was all in a foreign language, she couldn't understand. "What's the matter?" Lois asked.
Rebekah ran a hand through her hair in frustration. "I don't know why I didn't see this before, but all of these galleries were, at least to some extent, showing my work! That's why these fires only go back for four years… I didn't start showing until four years ago!"
Lois looked stunned and began, "So it's either someone who hates you or…"
"A stalker with resources," Rebekah finished grimly.
Clark looked over Jimmy's shoulder and wondered exactly what he was looking for… a connection between art theft rings and arson? Hadn't Rebekah said that the police had always ruled out arson as a cause for the fires? And that reminded him of a certain conversation he'd had with Lois last night… "Jimmy, did you get the background information on Rebekah Petersen that I asked for?"
Jimmy started guiltily. He had been too busy mooning over her to dig up much; he felt a bit embarrassed giving Clark so little to go on.
*She* was fascinating. She was pretty, smart, talented… amazing. Now if he could only get her to notice him!
Clark noticed his young friend's lovesick glances toward Rebekah and sighed in exasperation. "*Jimmy*," Clark said breaking into Jimmy's besotted thoughts. "The information?"
"Uh, yeah, CK," Jimmy mumbled confusedly. "Here's what I have so far; I should have a complete workup by tomorrow." Jimmy handed a packet to Clark. "Hope it helps."
Clark chuckled softly to himself as he headed over to his desk to study the papers. He sat down and began leafing through the contents of the packet. "Lois," he called softly. "I need you!"
Lois looked up at the sound of his voice. Murmuring apologies to Rebekah, she quickly joined him and sat in his lap. "I'm assuming that this is about Rebekah?" she questioned him softly as she planted a kiss on his forehead and smoothed his hair back.
"Jimmy just gave me some information about her," Clark said softly, "it only goes back to her graduation from the Atlanta Institute of Art and Design a few years ago; there isn't much, but Jimmy said that he will have complete information by tomorrow."
"That's all well and good," Lois replied, "But we still have to find out if this is the real Rebekah, and I think I've figured out how. When we were doing our internships, she broke some bones; back then she often couldn't walk across a room without falling down. Clark, if you x-ray her left arm, you should see that it was broken in three places, and her left leg was broken in two. How she managed to break limbs in so many places falling down the stairs still amazes me."
"That's a good idea," Clark acknowledged. "Rebekah!" he called.
"Yeah, Clark?" Rebekah answered, walking over to his desk. She looked at Lois and an impish smile stole over her face. "Not enough chairs, Lane?" she asked, suppressed laughter evident in her voice as she saw where her friend was sitting.
"Oh, there are enough chairs," Lois said mischievously. "But if I sit in a chair, I can't do *this*" Lois kissed Clark thoroughly, passionately, surprising him. Clark was startled for a moment, but he tightened his grasp around his wife's waist and began giving as good as he got. A few minutes later, they broke apart slightly, gasping for breath.
Lois glanced over at her friend and smiled widely. Rebekah was turning purple from suppressed laughter and lack of air. "Breathe, Rebekah!" Lois commanded. "Actually, we needed you to look at something for us to confirm some facts." Lois nodded to Clark, who passed Jimmy's research over to Beky. While Rebekah was occupied perusing the research, Clark surreptitiously lowered his glasses and x- rayed Rebekah. He caught Lois's eye and gave her a tiny, almost imperceptible nod indicating that this really was Rebekah.
"Rebekah, we need to interview you for Perry…" Clark began, but he was interrupted by a distant scream for Superman.
Lois recognized the look on his face and said, "Clark, honey, aren't you suppose to meet Bobby about the fires?"
"Thanks, sweetheart, I almost forgot!" he said, relief evident on his face. He helped his wife off his lap, kissed her goodbye, and said, "I'll catch up to you two later." He hurried out of the newsroom, loosening his tie as he went.
"Rebekah," Lois said quietly, "Clark is right… we do need to talk; but it can wait. I don't know about you, but I'm hungry; let's go down to the deli. Clark will catch up."
Rebekah nodded hesitantly and replied, "It's a nice day outside, I guess a walk would be a good idea."
Lois grabbed her stuff and motioned for Bekah to follow her as she headed out the door. They walked down to Lois's favorite deli, making sure to pick up a steak sandwich for Clark. Lois led the way to the park and went to her favorite bench next to the fountain where Clark had proposed to her. They sat in silence for a few minutes, eating their sandwiches and enjoying the warm sunshine. After a few minutes, they started talking… catching up on old times.
Soon, Lois began to question Rebekah concerning her art and why she had suddenly changed careers.
"Lois," Rebekah said quietly, "There are things about me you don't know; hopefully you never will. Uncle Perry knows my little secret, but I'm not ready for you to find out just yet."
Lois nodded slowly before asking one question, "So, is this secret good or bad?"
Rebekah regarded her friend seriously for a minute before replying, "It depends on your point of view. It's not illegal or anything. I promise to explain later, just not now."
Lois was intensely curious about this secret of Rebekah's, but she knew that she had to respect her friend's privacy. When Bekah was ready to tell her, she would… or Jimmy would find out about it. They sat in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the scenery and the warm weather.
The park was a little crowded that early spring day… mothers taking young children for walks were abundant. Every time a mother with a little one walked past, the conversation would lag as Lois looked at the children with an expression of wistful longing in her eyes. After a few such lags, Rebekah gathered up some courage and asked, "Lois, darlin', I know that it's none of my business, but are you and Clark planning on having kids?"
Pain was written all over Lois's face as she turned to her friend and said quietly, "Bekah, we want kids, but the doctors have told us that we can't have children." Lois's face crumpled as she struggled to hold back tears. "I want a baby," she said, desperation evident in her voice, "I want *Clark's* baby!"
Rebekah put her arm around her closest friend, and gave her a small hug before handing her a tissue. "Maybe I can help with that problem," she said quietly. "I know quite a bit about infertility."
Hope dawned in Lois's eyes. She hadn't quite given up yet, but so far, Dr. Klein's predictions had proved to be correct. Suddenly, a sobering thought came upon her; as much as she wanted to, she couldn't let Bekah help. To do so, their secret would have to be exposed, and they just couldn't risk it. <Besides, > she thought, <What can little Beky do? It isn't like she is an expert in Kryptonian physiology…> "Bekah," Lois said softly, "Thank you, but there are some complications I can't really go into… so no; at least for now." Rebekah nodded, reluctantly accepting her friend's decision. She knew that she could help her friends if they would just let her.
A man stood in the shadows of the trees, gloating to himself. This was going so well! Rebekah Petersen was the key to the Kents' undoing. All he had to do was to ruin her career… she would be so busy with the fires that she would never manage to help the Kents… and eventually, without her help, the Kents would drift apart and their marriage would end in divorce! The man grinned evilly. He would outwit the famous reporting team, *destroy* Lois Lane, Clark Kent/Superman, and Rebekah Petersen! His smile turned lecherous as he gazed upon the two women. Perhaps just ruining the marriage would not be enough. Evil evident in every inch of his body, he chuckled. It would be far better to kidnap Lois Lane and Rebekah Petersen. To abuse them, destroy them. They would be far more useful to him as his prisoners than they would be dead. He smiled suddenly; it was a leer of pure evil. This would be sheer pleasure. He would soon prove who was really the smartest person in the universe; Clark Kent alias Superman would not find out that he was responsible for the destruction of everything he held dear!
Clark spun back into his street clothes and ran a tired hand through his hair. It had been a long few hours; the roof of a daycare center had collapsed and he had had to do the part of Superman's job that he hated the most: carrying the broken, lifeless bodies of children out of the wreckage to their grieving families. Finding the reason why the roof had collapsed was now the job of the city's structural engineers, but he desperately wished that he could have prevented it! Carrying children, babies, out of the wreckage of buildings always wrung his heart, but it was especially bad now that he knew that children were denied to him. Clark loved his wife; he desperately wanted to have children with her. He wanted to hold his own precious babies, created from the love that he and Lois shared. Clark sighed as he began to head back to the Planet. He stopped along the way to pick up a few copies of the paper… he knew that Lois and Rebekah would like to see that lovely poison pen critique of last night's show that Rebekah had written. He chuckled to himself as he found it to reread it once again. It was clever, well written, and the show as well as the artist deserved every word.
He thought about the artist… what had Rebekah called him? "Georgie-Porgy", that was it… and was glad that he had been with to play "big brother". Clark didn't much care for the way little Georgie had ogled Lois and Rebekah. He always wanted to protect Lois, and, well, Rebekah looked so much younger than her chronological age, and she gave you the feeling that she was more fragile than her sturdy build suggested… she made him feel protective of her too… in a big brother kind of way. He had always wanted a sister… and since Lois and Rebekah had seemingly adopted each other, maybe, as she'd put up with his big brother routine, he could convince her to let Lois and him come to the opening of her show later that night. He had a feeling that they would be needed…
Back in the newsroom, Rebekah had pulled up a chair so that she and Lois could search for more connections between the fires/thefts. "Hmmm… maybe we should run a cross-check of other artists showing in the same galleries… or in the same city, at the time of the fires?" Lois commented, thinking out loud.
Rebekah typed the necessary parameters in the computer and hit "search". "That's entirely possible," she said thoughtfully. "I suppose it could be somebody collecting art, too… the next search should be for art collectors who were in town at the same time."
The computer finished its search and a list popped up on the screen… and on the top of the list was… Georgie- Porgy! "It couldn't be," Rebekah said slowly. "Boges doesn't have the brains to be running a scam on this scale… nor the necessary creativity or imagination to dream it up. That explains how he makes his living, anyway… His 'art' is just too badly done and most of it is ripped off of other artists' work. He got his first show by stealing my slides and submitting them as his own."
Lois grimaced; now *that* situation certainly sounded familiar!
Clark walked into the newsroom and walked over to his wife's desk to see what had gotten dug up in his absence. "Hey, Clark," Rebekah said absently; all of her attention was taken up in this new idea.
Lois flashed a smile at Clark and explained their findings.
Clark let out a low whistle. "So you think that Boges is the man on the street?"
"We're pretty sure," Rebekah replied. "I mean, he has been in the same city as each gallery fire at the same time, and he doesn't have an alibi. I also think there's someone else involved; they need brains in the operation and Boges is so stupid that if you put his brain in a bumblebee, it would fly backwards!"
"He's that stupid?" Clark asked, his eyes dancing with suppressed laughter.
"Damn straight! When ignorance gets to a nickel a barrel, I want drillin' rights on his head!" Rebekah retorted.
The three reporters laughed and got back to business. "Do you think that Boges will be at your opening tonight, Rebekah?" Lois asked quietly.
"Probably," Rebekah said tiredly. "He'll probably case the joint tonight so that he and his buddies know exactly where the good stuff is. Dang it! It would have to be this particular jerk!"
"What do you mean?" asked Clark.
"Remember when I told y'all about damaging him the first time he messed with me?" inquired Rebekah. At her friends' nods she continued quietly, "I was eighteen then… and he tried to rape me." Rebekah's smile turned feral. "I made sure that he wouldn't try *that* again anytime soon!"
Clark's expression turned dark. He'd *known* that there was something about that guy! "That settles it," he said quietly. "We're coming with you. I'm *not* going to let that slime mess with…" Clark grinned suddenly. "… my new friend."
Rebekah turned to Lois in exasperation. "Is he *always* like that?" She threw her hands up in the air. "Why is it that men always feel like we women need protected? Like we need the *big, strong man* to come and rescue us! I mean, when I started dating, my dad always made a point of cleaning his shotgun in front of my date! And if he didn't do that, he made a point to show off his shotgun collection. Uncle Perry is just as bad. I swear," she growled, "the next guy after this that does something 'for my own good' to 'protect' me is going to get *something* thrown at his head."
Lois just laughed and pointed out that they needed to go and change for the gallery opening.
"We'll pick you up at 6:30," Clark said seriously. "If this guy is after you, it'd be better if you didn't ride your Harley for a few days." Rebekah nodded, giving her consent. She hated being wrapped in cotton wool, but it was obvious that Clark was just trying to protect his new friend.
Eric Green sat in his apartment, glowering and clutching a glass of brandy. <It's not fair!> he thought to himself. <Perry shouldn't have fired me. Yesterday I was the art critic at the Daily Planet, today I'm unemployed without references. And who did Perry hire in my place? His niece.> Eric sneered at his glass before continuing his train of thought, <There is a plot here, I know it! He just wanted me out of the way so that his niece could write for the paper. I bet Lane and Kent are in on it, too. After all, I did hear that Lane used to be this Petersen's best friend.> Eric thought for a few minutes more and then smiled. He had known for quite some time of the gallery fires… and been well paid to ignore them. Perhaps the man known to him as "the Destroyer" could use some help in getting Petersen. She would pay for taking his job from him minutes after he was fired. He would have his revenge.
Clark and Lois walked into their brownstone and began looking for appropriate clothing to wear to the opening. Lois pulled out the embroidered tunic that Rebekah had given her as a "belated wedding present". Lois pulled the tunic on with a pair of jeans and turned around to face her husband. "What do you think?", she asked.
"Wow," Clark said, "you look beautiful!" Rebekah had apparently told him what he should wear also because he was dressed a bit more informally than last night…
"You look… great, too," was Lois's reply. Clark smiled and leaned down to kiss his wife. Her arms went automatically around his neck. He deepened the kiss. Some minutes later they came up for air.
Clark gently touched her kiss-reddened lips before bringing up something that had been bothering him ever since they had talked about Georgie-Porgy. "Lois," he began hesitantly, "do you think we should invite Rebekah to stay with us—at least until we publish this story?"
Lois considered his question for a moment. "Yeah, I think we should. I mean, she hasn't gotten any death threats yet, but it's only a matter of time… and speaking of time, *we've* got to leave." The reporters grabbed their leather jackets and rushed out the door.
Rebekah rubbed a tired hand across her eyes as she searched the closet of her new apartment for an appropriate outfit to wear to the opening of her latest show. She had already removed three "sneak suits" in the right sizes from the secret drawer in her dresser and made sure that they had lockpicks and other relevant articles in the hidden pockets. She had a feeling that something would go down at the gallery tonight and breaking in after the opening would be a very good idea. She wasn't sure if Lois and Clark had the right kind of clothing for breaking and entering, so she had decided to provide it herself. Her sneak suits were suits of dark charcoal-gray clothing—long-sleeved and tight-fitting. They had a multiplicity of pockets and matching soft boots to go with them.
She finally pulled out a long, full skirt and a tunic top similar to the one she had given Lois. She checked to make sure that lockpicks and one of her multi-tools were still hidden in the hems of her clothes before changing. <It never hurts to be prepared,> she thought as she brushed out her hair and carefully clipped it back, using hair ornaments that also doubled as tools. She slipped her feet into sandals, grabbed her leather jacket, and hoped her friends would show up soon.
The Destroyer looked around his secret room and smiled. It was perfect; lead-lined and soundproofed. He should be able to keep Lane and Petersen there for quite some time. He leaned over the monstrosity of a bed and pondered it. He checked the restraints in the room, making sure of their fastness. <Soon,> he thought, <very soon, I will have them here and I will bend them to my will.> He contemplated this thought for a moment before turning his attention to the table where a few knives lay, glittering in the half-light of the chamber. He had someone to do his dirty work now— Rolf, his own personal human dog; his own personal psychopath. He turned and contemplated the montage of photos pasted to the opposite wall. Rebekah and Lois, Lois and Rebekah—beautiful, desirable, and they belonged to him. Forever.
Rebekah was waiting for them when they pulled up. She climbed into the Jeep and handed each of them a bag. "What's this?" Lois asked curiously.
"It's a sneak suit," Rebekah stated quietly. "I have a feeling that we're going to need them. There are lockpicks and other tools in the pockets."
Clark looked at the suit dubiously. "Isn't black a better color for lurking around in?" he asked.
"Most people think that," Rebekah said cautiously, "but charcoal gray blends in better with the shadows."
Lois glanced back at her old friend and shook her head. "I don't even *want* to know where you learned *that*," she remarked.
Rebekah giggled. "We can leave them in the Jeep while we're in the gallery… I have a feeling that we might need them."
They arrived at the gallery and went inside where they found Georgie-Porgy oozing around the exhibits in such a manner that you could almost see a trail of slime coming off his feet. The man was a slug that should have crawled back under the rock from whence he came long ago. Lois noticed his fascination with one sculpture in particular. Watching him slink around it, she realized that, because of his interest, it was more than likely that a fire would be set the next day; they had to find a way to catch Georgie- Porgy *and* the brains of the operation. After all, it wasn't every day that you had art arsonists/thieves/stalkers all rolled into one!
The three reporters meandered their way around the gallery, nibbling on snacks and exchanging pleasantries with patrons as they kept a look out for other suspicious characters. The evening was mostly uneventful—near the end, Clark pulled Lois aside and whispered, "Lois, honey, there's a bridge collapsing on the other side of town. Cover for me?"
"Always," Lois answered with conviction. She smiled fondly at her husband as he hurried off. Lois looked around for Rebekah; a buyer had led her off quite some time ago. Lois spotted her heart-sister and went over to talk to her. "Rebekah," she said, "the crowd is thinning out… are you ready to go?"
Rebekah rubbed a tired hand across her eyes before replying. "Sure. But where's Clark?"
"He had to go meet a source," Lois lied glibly. "He'll catch up to us."
"Okay," Rebekah said quietly. "The galley will be closing in five minutes anyway; just let me grab my stuff." Rebekah disappeared into the office and returned moments later, backpack in hand. "Let's go," she said quietly, swinging her backpack on her back as she headed out the door, towing Lois in her wake.
Eric smiled to himself as he made his way across town. He had contacted The Destroyer earlier and arranged to meet in an abandoned warehouse in Hobbs Bay. Helping destroy a certain three reporters would lighten his mood considerably. He'd do anything this man asked because it was the sure path to revenge. Amorality sometimes held certain advantages.
They had been on the road for a few minutes before Lois spoke up. "So, did you overhear anything of interest?" she asked. Even with Clark's super hearing, the two of them hadn't heard anything suspicious.
"Yeeeesss," Rebekah said hesitantly. "I heard Georgie talking with one of those men… I think something is going down there tonight." She glanced over at Lois. "I guess you'll get to try out your sneak suit tonight; we're breaking into the gallery."
<Clark is going to kill me for doing this without him,> Lois thought. <I don't think that we'll get into too much trouble; anyway, Clark *is* just a "Help, Superman" away…> "We'll have to go back to the house to get my lockpicks," Lois stated quietly.
"No, we don't," Rebekah said. "Remember, that's what the sneak suits are for. We'll go to my place to change and I'll show you where the picks and stuff are in the suit. I made sure to check out the locking systems, so we should be able to get in without difficulty."
Lois grimaced as she turned on to Highwater Avenue, where Rebekah's apartment was located. "It looks like you've thought of everything," she said quietly. "Everything that is, except for Clark. I'll call home and leave a message for him to let him know where we are."
Rebekah nodded. "I'm sorry that I didn't think of that," she said simply. "This is just so much like old times that I forgot about him." Rebekah grinned suddenly. "Remember the first story we dug out as interns?" she asked.
"How could I forget?" Lois said laughingly. "I mean, Perry sent me with you to keep you out of trouble. It was only a dog show after all. The next thing I knew, you were giving me a how-to course on breaking and entering and we had a front-page story. I swear, you got me into more trouble!"
"That's sure the pot calling the kettle black," Rebekah retorted. "After all, you got *me* in trouble just as much; and I was usually the one who had to get us out of whatever mess we landed in. You didn't know how to pick locks yet, and I never found the time to teach you to do it properly."
Lois looked around Rebekah's place with interest; everywhere she looked there was… art. Prints hung on the walls, and stacks of charcoal drawings were heaped in piles on the floor while every available flat surface served as a resting place for sculpture and pots. Every single piece was unique, different. Lois found Rebekah's prints to be fascinating; upon closer inspection, what she had taken for texture proved to be words. Rebekah had written stories as backdrops for her figurative images—melding them into one seamless whole. Looking at the finished product, it was impossible to imagine one without the other; they were a perfect symbiosis of storytelling.
The sculptures were by far the most numerous. They were, in one word, beautiful. Some told stories in series of images while others had raw emotion depicted in every line. Lois stood in front of one of the more emotional pieces. The expression on the face of the statue wrung your heart— judging from the pain and loss on the figure's face, whoever this was, they had lost someone or something very important to them. Lois shook her head in awe; she was beginning to understand why Beky had decided to be an artist.
While Lois poked around her living room, Rebekah opened her secret closet and pulled out some street clothes in the correct sizes to wear over the sneak suits. These clothes were old, worn, and much patched… they also had concealed tools in them… just in case. She quickly changed into her suit and put the ratty clothes over it. Rebekah didn't remember a time when she hadn't been kidnapped at least once a month; someone always wanted to take advantage of her special abilities… that's why she learned how to pick locks and the advisability of having multiple sets of tools and picks concealed about her person. Unless someone did a full strip search, which rarely happened, she was never without the tools to escape… or break in.
She walked out of the bedroom and handed Lois the sneak suit and ratty street clothes to wear over it. "The bathroom's over there," she said quietly, pointing it out. "The old clothes are just in case the police pull us over before we get there; I *don't* want to explain to the cops why we're dressed like cat burglars!"
Lois simply laughed at her friend and went to change clothes. She came out a moment later, frowning. ""Why are there so many hard places in these clothes?" she inquired.
"It's simple," Rebekah answered absently. "For every hard place, there's a set of lockpicks or a similarly useful item." She looked up suddenly and grinned broadly. "If we're caught and they find all of those, I've concealed more picks in the hems of the clothes… they *never* check the hems!"
Some time later, Lois and Rebekah snuck around to back of the gallery. Rebekah contemplated the lock; it was simple. "Do you want to do the honors or shall I?" she whispered, turning to Lois.
Lois smiled. "I'll do it," she said simply as she pulled a lockpick out. With a few turns and twists of the wrist, the door was open and they were inside. The two women crept quietly into the gallery, heading for the hiding places that Rebekah had picked out earlier. They had barely gotten there when three men walked into the room and began crating up the artwork. Lois reached inside an inner pocket and pressed the record button on her tape recorder. If they talked, she would have evidence on tape.
Rebekah's leg jerked suddenly and hit one of the podiums with a resounding thump. Mentally, she cursed herself. <Why do my muscles decide to go into spasms *now*?> she wondered.
"What was that?" one of the men said as he heard the noise. "You two, look around, there's somebody in here." The man walked toward Rebekah's hiding place, training his flashlight around the room. Rebekah cowered back in the shadows, praying she wouldn't be discovered. Unfortunately, this was not to be. As the light came closer, she saw the man's face—George Boges. His light came to rest on her.
"Ah," he said, "a nosy reporter." George grabbed Rebekah's wrist and hauled her to her feet. Before she could put up a struggle, he hit her over the head with his flashlight. Rebekah soundlessly crumpled to the floor. George stood over the unconscious form and smiled. Soon, the boss would let him finish what he had started seven years ago. He had wanted the bitch then, this time she would not deny him. He called the other two men over to him and instructed them to search the gallery. When one noisy reporter was hiding, in all probability, so was another. A few minutes later, he heard another thump. He went over to investigate; Lois Lane. He made the others pick them up and take them to the pole in the center of the gallery where he chained their hands and feet together and then linked them to the pole. They had to hurry; this little interlude had cost precious time and they needed to get the work out of the gallery quickly. As the others crated up the remainder of the artwork, he got a ladder and unscrewed one of the spotlights, replacing it with a special one of his own. In a few hours a fire would start and the fire department would rule the cause as electrical. If Lane and Petersen were lucky, they would die in the fire. If not, he shrugged mentally, he would get what he wanted; Rebekah…
It was still dark in the gallery when Rebekah woke up an hour and a half later. Lois lay beside her, still unconscious and chained to the same pole. Rebekah looked around dizzily, trying to figure out where they were. She groaned as she realized that they were chained to a pole in the storage room. The storage room door was self-locking and they would have to wait to be let out because picking the locks just wasn't possible. <I need to get out of these chains,> Rebekah thought, looking ruefully at her hands and feet. They had been chained in front of her, and she still had plenty of slack. "Amateurs," she said with scorn. "Can't even chain a person right; getting out of these should be child's play." Rebekah reached into one of the hidden pockets in her sneak suit. Luckily, they hadn't bothered to search her, and her hands had been chained within reach of a concealed set of lockpicks. She pulled out the picks and set to work. Within minutes, she was free. She set to work on Lois's chains next, picking the locks quickly. She got her friend unchained and contemplated her next move as Lois began to stir.
Rebekah got up and began to examine the door. It was hopeless. She began verbally heaping vile maledictions upon the heads of George and his thugs in the most obscure languages she knew, at the top of her lungs. If Georgie had been anywhere within reach, he probably wouldn't have survived to tell the tale.
Lois awoke with a headache to the sound of Rebekah screaming *something* at the top of her voice. She didn't understand what Rebekah was screaming, and the thought occurred to her that someday she would have to get Clark to translate.
"What's the matter, Rebekah?" Lois asked fuzzily.
"We're trapped," Rebekah stated flatly. "This door locks from the outside, the hinges are also on the outside of the door, and I can't get it open, there aren't any loose panels in the ceiling, and the air vents are just too small to crawl through. Not only are we trapped, but you must realize that soon this building will probably catch on fire."
Lois looked at her friend and began to smile. "Oh, is that *all*?" she inquired. "Rebekah, this is *Metropolis*," Lois said. "When you are in this kind of trouble, there's only one sure-fire course of action."
"What is that?" Rebekah asked, looking mystified.
"This." Lois grinned. "Help, Superman!" she screamed.
Superman smiled as he flew his nightly patrol over the fair city of Metropolis. The bridge hadn't been a total disaster; only one car had been teetering over the edge when he arrived. It had been easy as pie to put the car on solid ground and save the people inside. Temporally shoring up the bridge had taken a bit longer, but now there would be no more accidents until it got fixed. Metropolis was quiet tonight; the criminal element seemed to be taking the night off. Superman was just about to head home for the night when he heard one specific voice screaming for help. It was a voice that he had been attuned to from the beginning; the voice of his dearest love. He turned toward the source of the shout and sped off into the night.
"Now what do we do?" Rebekah inquired, siding down the wall to sit on the floor.
"We wait," Lois said simply.
A few seconds later, the door to the storage room burst open as it was ripped off its hinges. "Lois, are you two okay?" the superhero said, looking concerned.
Rebekah looked at Superman's face with interest. <Wow,> she thought. <If the Greeks had gotten a look at him, they would have set a whole new standard for male beauty.> He had a classic face; a face that, combined with his body, would make an excellent subject for a sculpture. Not only that, but he was adorable. Rebekah wondered if there was some way that he'd agree to pose for her so that she could draw him, and later sculpt him. In fact, one of the projects she was working on could definitely use him in it; she'd have to ask—after they got out of this mess.
"We're okay, Superman, thank you," Lois said quietly. "But we've got to get out of here; this place could catch fire at any minute!"
Superman suddenly became aware of a slight ticking noise. There wasn't time to save the gallery, so he grabbed hold of Lois and Rebekah and flew them out of the gallery a few seconds before it exploded. "Let me take you home," he said insistently. "I'll send Clark for the Jeep later."
Lois agreed. After all, it *had* been a very long day.
Superman flew them over to the brownstone on Hyperion. During the flight, Rebekah had gotten the chance to ask her all-important question. "Superman," she began, "would you please allow me to draw you? I have a commission for a sculpture from the Superman Foundation; they wanted me to work from pictures, but the sculpture would be so much better if I could use you for a reference. Please say yes!"
Superman considered this proposition for a few minutes. As far as he could see, this could be a very good thing. After all, if he could convince Rebekah to make the sculpture a bit taller and bigger than he really was, the line would be further blurred between Superman and Clark Kent. He knew that he had to consult Lois before actually agreeing to do this; after all, it *would* cut into their private time. "I'll have to look at my schedule and think it over," he said finally. "But I'll get back to you, I promise. Can I reach you through the Kents?" he asked.
Rebekah nodded her assent as he landed, put Lois and Rebekah down on the front steps of Lois and Clark's house, and took off. Before Rebekah could offer a word of protest, Lois stopped her by saying, "Rebekah, Clark and I want you to stay with us for a few days; after the robbery tonight, I really think that you shouldn't stay alone. It's very possible that this guy could come after you."
Rebekah shook her head. "Normally, I'd argue with you," she said softly as they entered the house, "but the thought of going back to my apartment by myself with some sort of maniac on the loose just doesn't appeal to me tonight."
"We'll go back to your place after Clark gets back with the car to pick up some of your clothes," Lois said. "Frankly, you're too big for my clothes and too small for Clark's."
Rebekah nodded her assent before grimacing suddenly. "Don't we have that staff meeting tomorrow—you know, the 'meet the new hire' meeting?"
"Yes," Lois answered.
"I guess that means I'd better get some of my professional clothes," Rebekah sighed. "I'd much rather wear comfortable baggy jeans and t-shirts than dress up. I guess I'll have to get out the clothes that actually fit; Uncle Perry would have my hide if I showed up to a staff meeting dressed in overalls!"
Lois giggled a bit at her friend's obvious discomfort over wearing work clothes to the Planet. She knew that it would be good for Bekah to be dressed as the reporter that she actually was. It wasn't that Bekah was a bad artist—on the contrary—it was just that looking the part of a reporter could often get you into places that you otherwise couldn't visit. Lois walked into the kitchen, and asked, "Bekah, would you like anything to eat? I'm sure I can fix *something*."
Rebekah rushed to follow her. "Lois, if your cooking is like it used to be, you'd better let *me* make something non-chocolate to eat!"
"Hey, there's nothing *wrong* with *chocolate*," Lois retorted.
"No, there's nothing *wrong* with it, I just thought you'd like some *real* food," Rebekah said with a huge grin.
"Chocolate *is* real food," Lois exclaimed. "First Clark and now you! I swear, when will you people ever admit that chocolate is *good* for you?"
"Never," Rebekah said laughingly. "Too much of a good thing is bad for anybody!" The two friends started laughing as Rebekah ransacked the fridge and the cupboards looking for something edible.
Clark, still dressed as Superman, flew back to the gallery, spun into street clothes, climbed into the Jeep, and began to drive back to his house. He sincerely hoped that Lois would manage to convince Bekah to stay with them for her own safety. Lois had confided her stalker theories to him and with the night's robbery, it seemed as if she and Rebekah were right. Someone was after Rebekah. If it weren't for the fact that Luthor had died the previous year, he would suspect that this stalker was, in actuality, after more than just Rebekah. After all, Luthor had proved that he had no compunctions about using the innocent to get what he really wanted: possession of Lois, and Clark's own demise.
He arrived at the house, parked the Jeep and started up the steps. He smiled to himself as he heard laughter emanating from the kitchen. He used his super hearing to tune into Rebekah teasing Lois over Lois's inability to cook anything but chocolate desserts and pasta salad as he unlocked the door and entered the house. He sobered quickly as he thought of the rescue. It had been near enough; he'd have to talk Lois into being more careful. <I couldn't stand it if I lost her,> Clark thought seriously. Lois was his world; without her, life just wouldn't really be worth living.
He strode quickly into the kitchen, knowing that if Lois had convinced Rebekah to stay, it would necessitate a trip to Rebekah's apartment to pick up some clothes for the next few days. "Hey, you two," he said quietly, a soft smile playing around the corners of his mouth. "Beky, has Lois managed to convince you to stay with us until we catch this guy?"
Rebekah looked at Clark for a minute before replying, "Yeah, she conned me into it. I do have one condition though; y'all have to let me do a portrait bust of you two as a thank-you."
Lois and Clark exchanged a glance. If sitting for a portrait would enable them to keep their friend safe, then they would find the time to do it. "Sure," they said simultaneously.
"Clark," Lois said, "we need to run over to Beky's apartment to grab some of her clothes."
Clark nodded. After all, he had expected this. He pulled the keys from the Jeep out of his pocket and beckoned to Lois and Rebekah. "The Jeep is right outside," he said simply.
It didn't take long for the three of them to arrive at Rebekah's apartment. Rebekah unlocked the door and went inside with Lois and Clark at her heels. <I should probably get my largest sketchbook and my drawing supplies,> she reflected. All sculptures started with drawings, and if she were to sculpt Superman and her friends, she'd have to draw them first. She walked quickly into the second bedroom of her apartment. She had been using it as a studio until she could find a building that she could rent for the same purpose. She moved on to her bedroom, grabbing a suitcase out of the closet and quickly filling it with the necessities she'd need for the next few days.
Rebekah rummaged in the back of her closet and pulled out the seldom-worn business clothes that she knew would be necessary for tomorrow's meeting. She had never liked wearing this sort of constrictive clothing; not having to wear this kind of thing was one of the reasons why she had turned artist in the first place. She finished packing quickly. Soon, the trio was driving the Jeep back to Hyperion.
Lois climbed into bed and turned down the covers for Clark. In between being tied up again, getting some of Rebekah's stuff, and putting her up in the guest room, it had been a long day. She watched Clark come out of the bathroom. She wanted him to hold her all night without having to go anywhere. The brush with death in the gallery had scared her more than she would admit; she needed the security of his arms around her. "Clark," she began quietly, "hold me, please, just hold me."
Clark climbed into bed and gathered her into his arms, and dropped a soft kiss into her hair. "Honey," he whispered quietly, "it's okay, I promise."
Lois snuggled closer to him. "I know," she said. "I just feel safer here in your arms." She looked up at him suddenly and he could see the remnants of fear in her eyes. "Please, Clark, don't leave me tonight," she said with a slight tremble in her voice.
Clark looked at her quizzically as he pulled the covers over both of them. This was a pretty severe reaction for someone who faced death on a regular basis. "I won't," he promised before venturing to ask, "What's the matter, Lois?"
"I don't know, Clark," she said, drawing in a shuddering breath. "It's just that, ever since we got out of the gallery, I've been thinking that we could have still been chained to the pole when the gallery caught fire…" Lois trailed off.
"You weren't," he said quietly, pulling her a bit closer and brushing a wayward tendril of hair back from her face. "It won't happen," he stated quietly, "I won't let it." Comforted finally, she put her head on his chest and slept.
Jimmy looked at the computer screen in shock. <How can this be?> he wondered. <How can Rebekah be so much more than she seems?> She was so young and, at least to him, beautiful. He needed to know why she had hidden so much of her past. It had taken him hours to uncover it despite the fact that it was a matter of public record. <It would have taken a master hacker or a computer expert to hide records so thoroughly,> he thought. It wasn't that there was anything bad in her past. In fact, her past could enable her to do enormous good in the world. Jimmy wondered briefly why she would choose to ignore this part of herself that was so capable of helping humanity. He decided that, since this information really wouldn't have much impact on Lois and Clark, he ought to talk to Rebekah before handing it over to them.
Lois, Clark, and Rebekah walked quickly into the newsroom and strode into the Conference Room. They had no wish to be late to Perry's staff meeting; the fits he threw about the tardiness of his reporters were legendary. Other Planet employees began to trickle in as the trio settled themselves and took out their notes for the meeting.
Jimmy walked quietly up to Petersen and tapped her on the shoulder. "Rebekah," he said quietly, "I need to talk to you." Rebekah glanced up briefly at Jimmy and nodded her assent before turning to her friends. "Tell Uncle Perry that I'll be right back," she said. Lois nodded as Rebekah stood up and walked outside with Jimmy.
"Rebekah," Jimmy began, "Lois and Clark asked me to find out about your background. Somebody went to lots of trouble to conceal it. Why don't you want anyone to know about your past?" He looked at her quizzically. "I mean, you could do so much good if you just let everyone know about all of your talents." Jimmy paused for a moment, waiting for her to respond.
Rebekah looked at Jimmy, trying not to panic. It had taken weeks working on the computer to hide what he had apparently uncovered in days. She didn't want Lois and Clark to know about what she was, what she had been, just yet. Rebekah closed her eyes briefly and took a deep breath.
Rebekah knew what she had to do; she had noticed the looks that Jimmy had been favoring her with the past few days. She watched him through half-lidded eyes, changing her posture a bit so as to look more inviting, more seductive. "Jimmy," she said softly in a slightly husky voice designed to send shivers up his spine, "please, don't tell Lois and Clark." Rebekah leaned forward a bit and favored Jimmy with a sudden up-glance that made his heart flutter. She hated manipulating guys like this, but Lois and Clark just didn't need to know about her past; it was her business until *she* chose to share it.
Jimmy could feel his insides turn to mush in response to Rebekah's flirting. He knew that he should just decide whether to help her conceal her past or not, but the way she was looking at him through the silken fringe she called eyelashes made thought difficult. Before he could stop, his traitorous mouth blurted out, "Rebekah, will you go to the movies with me on Friday?"
Rebekah leaned toward him to give him a slightly better view of her… assets… before answering. "Maybe," she said saucily, "but I need to know if you're going to tell on me." She threw Jimmy another flirtatious glance that
made his knees turn to water.
Jimmy took in a deep breath to steady his nerve; Lois would most likely kill him for keeping this from her. "I-I-I-I won't tell them," he said finally, staring at her in amazement. The dress she was wearing clung to her in all the right places and being this near to her and her beautiful hair made his heart race. He'd had fantasies about Rebekah dressed in nothing but her hair. These fantasies had even displaced his old erotic dreams of Lois. Jimmy had fallen and fallen hard.
The look on Jimmy's face let Rebekah know that she had him where she wanted him. She looked at him through her long eyelashes and carefully made tears well up in her eyes. She widened her eyes and let the tears brim up. "Thank you Jimmy, I'd be happy to go to the movies with you," she said in a huskier voice designed to pluck his heartstrings like a harp. She let a single tear roll slowly down her cheek. "I don't want Lois and Clark to know about my past just yet; I'll tell them later."
She leaned toward Jimmy and brushed a soft kiss on his cheek before walking back toward the Conference Room. She made sure to put an extra sway in her hips to keep the seduction farce going. She really didn't care for Jimmy in that way; he reminded her too much of a kid brother. However, she wasn't above a little manipulation to protect herself and Jimmy was the perfect target. She knew that she had to be careful in the amount of encouragement she gave him; after all, it simply wouldn't do to have his infatuation develop into something more serious. She really didn't want to hurt him, but sometimes, a girl just had to use what she'd been given on the opposite sex to protect her secrets.
Jimmy put a hand up to the spot where Rebekah had kissed him… he would never wash that spot again! He watched her saunter toward the Conference Room in shock; she had *kissed* him. He grinned to himself before following her to the conference room for the staff meeting.
Rebekah walked into the staff room. She was a bit late because of having to manipulate Jimmy.
"Here she is," Rebekah heard Uncle Perry say, "the newest addition to the Daily Planet, Rebekah Petersen, the new art critic."
Rebekah nodded hello to the other reporters as she worked her way across the room to the seat that Lois and Clark had carefully saved for her. She was a few feet away from them when she heard a loud wolf whistle. She scanned the room until she found the cause of the disturbance. A pudgy, balding man leered at her from across the room. <I hate it when guys do that,> she thought to herself, beginning to get angry. Throwing stuff at his head wasn't an option; there wasn't anything heavy, hard, or sharp enough within reach. Heedless of disturbing the meeting, Rebekah strode quickly across the room. She glared at the little man and demanded, "What is your *name*?"
The man looked at her with something like fear in his eyes. "R-R-Ralph," he stammered.
"Ralph," she said smiling sweetly. She then began to recite to him a list of his parentage (which didn't include humans), his parent's sexual habits, and his own sexual habits in a variety of languages, none of which was English.
The Travel columnist looked at her with awe and respect because of the invective coming out of her mouth. Ralph cowered in his chair, vowing *never* to rouse her ire again. Clark glanced over at Lois; he felt he should be taking notes. It was rare that he came across such… colorful language. Lois looked at her friend in shock; she knew that Rebekah had a tendency to tell people off in foreign languages when angry, but she had never seen her do anything like this! After a few minutes of dishing out abuse, Rebekah seemed to run out of steam. She flashed him a killing look and went over to her chair and sat down.
Clark leaned over and whispered, "Rebekah, I didn't know you could get into *that* position." Rebekah looked at him in shock before giggling quietly. Lois looked at the pair with a puzzled expression on her face. Clark noticed her expression and murmured, "I'll tell you later."
Perry looked at his niece with a hint of disapproval in his eyes. "Rebekah," he said quietly, "after the meeting I want to see you in my office." Rebekah nodded in trepidation. After that display of temper, she knew that trouble was forthcoming.
The story meeting went forward without another hitch. Luckily, Lois's tape recorder had recorded George's conversation with his thugs, so they had solid evidence to present to both Perry and the police. Lois had presented the cops with a copy of a tape that morning. The police were holding George on suspicion of arson and had managed to round up the thugs as well. Lois, Clark, and Rebekah had been promised the exclusive for the Planet. As far as Perry was concerned, all was right with the world.
It was lucky for Perry's peace of mind that he was ignorant of the fact that Lois had suppressed some of the tape. Clark had listened to the tape in its entirety, transcribing it at super speed after the girls had fallen asleep. On the end of the tape, Georgie had spoken of the Boss and of his plans for Rebekah. That morning, Lois and Clark decided that, to better protect Becky, the police need not know. After all, Clark was the best bodyguard of all. Neither he nor the police yet knew of the Boss, the man responsible for the fires; the man who wanted Rebekah. That much was evident from the tape. It was what they didn't know that might prove to be their undoing.
Eric Green glanced across the room and looked at his new boss, the man known as The Destroyer. He had been on his payroll for quite some time suppressing news of the fires, but this was the first time he had ever been in his presence for more than a few minutes. Eric had yet to see his employer's face, but there was one thing he knew for a fact: the Destroyer possessed the means to revenge himself upon Rebekah Petersen, Lois Lane, and Clark Kent. Rebekah was foremost in his mind. After all, by hurting her, he would indirectly be hurting Perry White, the man who had fired him…
Rebekah walked out of Perry's office with slightly slumped shoulders. <That was the worst tongue-lashing I've ever gotten,> she thought soberly. The worst thing was, she wasn't exactly sure if he was really mad at her or not. She had detected a small twinkle in his eyes that told her that he wasn't really all that mad at her after all. Perry had extracted a promise from her that she would endeavor to keep a tighter reign on her temper after the little display in the staff meeting. She supposed that she should go over and reinforce her manipulation of Jimmy, but after the staff meeting fiasco, she just wasn't in the necessary mood for seduction-manipulation. Rebekah walked over to her desk and sat down; she needed a few minutes to collect herself. She saw her backpack and smiled; her sketchbook was inside and she knew that drawing would calm her. She needed some sketches of Lois and Clark anyway if she was to sculpt them.
Clark watched Rebekah walk over to her desk and pull out drawing supplies and a sketchbook before turning to Lois. Now that Rebekah was safely occupied, he could discuss what had been on his mind since Rebekah had asked if she could sculpt Superman. "Lois," he began softly so as not to be overheard, "what do you think about letting Rebekah sculpt Superman? As far as I can see, we could only benefit; especially if Superman could convince her to make him a bit taller and bigger than he really is."
Lois considered this for a moment before replying, "I think that it's a really good idea; we should encourage her to go forward with this project."
Clark smiled at Lois. "That reminds me," he said quietly, "I need to check with Jimmy and see what he's found out about Rebekah; I'll be right back." Clark strode quickly across the room to where Jimmy was standing. "Jimmy," Clark said, "did you get the information that I asked for?"
Jimmy turned to face Clark. He knew that he had to lie to his friend, but at the same time, the thought of doing it made him feel horribly guilty. <I'll do it for Rebekah's sake,> he thought with a deep sigh. "Sorry, CK," he said, "but I haven't found much of anything yet… the information is hidden very well." He was telling the truth… sort of. He had gotten the information, but it *had* been very well hidden.
Clark sighed in disappointment. He really wanted that information; Rebekah was hiding something. If it was a matter of public record, he wanted to know what it was. He knew it was a bit oxymoronish—after all, he was probably the most secretive man on the planet—but he wanted to *know*; sometimes just *knowing* was enough. "Thanks anyway, Jimmy. As soon as you find anything, let me know, okay?" Jimmy, with a purely internal wince, nodded. Clark smiled his goodbye and walked back over to Lois's desk.
Somewhere across town in a subterranean hideaway, the Destroyer planned his assault on the three reporters. <Soon, very soon,> the Destroyer thought as he lazily picked up a recent photograph of Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and Rebekah Petersen. He smiled as he picked up a black magic marker with the other hand and began to mark out the face of Clark Kent and draw hearts around the women's faces. The women would grow to love him, he was absolutely sure of it. They were his; all part of his bargain. He would own them, mind, body, and soul… his to play with; however he wished. He pressed play on the VCR and began to watch the surveillance tape of the two women yet again. The man known as the Destroyer leaned back into the soft embrace of his chair and contemplated his plans, smiling. The smile on his face wasn't nice; it was as cold and empty as his heart and soul.
Rebekah grabbed her drawing box and her sketchbook. <It's now or never,> she thought as she walked over to Lois and Clark's desks. She cleared her throat slightly to get her friends' attention. "Um, y'all, I need to do some preliminary drawings for the sculpture I'm doing of y'all. Do you think we could start now? I mean, I could draw you two while we work on digging up more information on our mystery man. I mean, it's not like there are any major gallery openings this week, anyway."
Lois and Clark exchanged a glance before nodding their mutual assent. "Won't Perry be upset if he catches you?" Lois asked.
"Nah," Rebekah replied, "I told him I was going to do this." She shrugged. "I'm an artist, I have to create; I can't help it at times. Sometimes I feel like if I don't create something I'll either explode or go quietly mad. Uncle Perry said I could; he doesn't quite understand, but at least he's letting me do what I do best."
"Bekah, are you sure you want to do this?" Clark inquired. "After all, you *are* a famous artist…"
"Clark, I'm not famous," Rebekah corrected gently as she began drawing the couple. "In order to be a famous artist, you have to satisfy two conditions. First, you have to be very prolific, which I am. Second, you have to be very dead. And since I'm not planning on dying anytime soon, I won't be famous for a long time." Rebekah quickly finished drawing her friends' faces. "I need to draw y'all individually first and then together," she said as she directed Clark to stand up. She walked around him, carefully drawing him from all sides. "You're up next, Lois," she said cheerfully as she began to draw her friend. It didn't take long for her to have completed drawings of the two reporters.
"Lois, Clark, would you mind modeling together?" she asked. "Lois, I'd like you to stand in front of Clark and kind of lean against him… Yeah, like that. Now, Clark, put your arms around her waist and y'all need to link hands." Lois and Clark stood together in a pose that was very natural for them; Rebekah had put them in a position where they were leaning on each other and taking strength from each other's presence. "Perfect," Rebekah said, studying the pose for a few more seconds before taking out a fresh stick of vine charcoal and beginning to draw. She walked around them, carefully drawing them from all angles. Occasionally, she pulled out a stick of white comte to add pure white highlights to the drawing. She finished quickly, then began gesture drawings to insure that she could get the body positioning exactly right in her sculpture. After a few more moments of drawing, she was finished. "Now, y'all, that wasn't *too* painful, now was it?" Rebekah said with a grin. "I may have to borrow you for reference after I start on the sculpture, but I should be okay with the drawings… Now, if I can just get Superman to pose for me…"
"Thank you, Rebekah," Lois said as she and Clark exchanged a slightly guilty glance. Clark knew that he would have to contact her as Superman soon to get the modeling over with; today would probably be the best day to just get it done. After all, they'd just spent time talking over the story as Rebekah drew them and between the three of them had come up with some ideas for possible leads. Clark thought for a second; he could talk to her as Superman during lunch and get this over with.
George Boges cowered in the corner of the Destroyer's subterranean hideaway. He had failed; thanks to Lois Lane and Rebekah Petersen, he had almost been caught. Now more than ever, he wanted Rebekah; he would show her who was the boss! How dare she turn him in? It was bad enough that she had once rejected him, but this smacked of betrayal. He could not allow her to get away with behavior like this. She was far too independent, anyway; he was lucky enough to work for the Destroyer, his Master. George looked up slowly to eye the Master standing in the center of the room. <The Master will allow me to play with her,> he thought, a growl emanating from the back of his throat. <She will not deny me, *ever* again.>
Rebekah and Lois sat in the outdoor cafe close to the Planet, awaiting their lunch order. Clark had come with them, but had had to leave suddenly due to forgetting a doctor's appointment. Rebekah didn't think he looked all that sick, but she figured it was just a routine checkup. They had been sitting in companionable silence for some minutes when Rebekah heard a loud whoosh and a thump behind her. She turned around; it was Superman.
"Ms. Petersen," Superman said, "I'd like to take you up on your offer to sculpt me."
Rebekah looked up at the superhero and smiled. "Thank you, Superman! Here's my address; I work out of my apartment right now. How does 6 PM tonight sound? This shouldn't take long."
Superman nodded. "I'll do my best to be there," he said quietly before taking off again. A few minutes later, Clark walked up to the table and sat down. He was glad that they could get the portraits out of the way; he had never really felt comfortable with stuff like this. At least he knew that the sculpture of his alter ego would be for a good cause.
He had called the Superman Foundation earlier that day to get more information about this project, and had discovered that the statue was to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the proceeds were to be given to the orphanage. The highest bidder would then supposedly donate the sculpture back to the Foundation to be displayed in the outer courtyard of the offices. Rebekah had called it a "commission" but that wasn't entirely accurate; she wasn't getting paid for creating the statue, the Foundation had only granted her enough of a stipend to cover the materials. Clark smiled. The sculpture was bound to fetch a tidy sum; it wasn't every day that a well-known artist created an artwork for charity.
Rebekah said goodbye to her friends and headed to her apartment to begin work on the sculpture of Lois and Clark. She had been extremely surprised yesterday when Perry had given her the afternoon off for today; he must have been pleased with the reviews she had turned in the past few days. She let herself in and walked into her studio. She had decided to do both sculptures in bronze, which meant one thing: the original had to be sculpted in plasticene. She'd always hated using it; the texture was horrible and the residue tended to stay on her hands for hours after she'd finished working.
Since she didn't yet have the sketches of Superman, starting on Lois and Clark's sculpture would be the agenda for the afternoon. Rebekah pulled out her tools, armatures, modeling stand, and clay and started working. Hopefully, she could finish this tonight and get the mold set around it so that she could take it to the Metropolis Foundry. Almost all of her casting equipment was in storage until she could find suitable studio space; in any case, the Superman sculpture would have had to be taken there anyway. The Foundation wanted it to be slightly larger than life-sized, and she simply couldn't cast anything that big by herself.
Superman flew swiftly toward Rebekah's apartment. The sooner they could get this over with, the better. Rebekah was already making one sculpture of him as Clark Kent; he wasn't so sure anymore if it was wise to let her create another sculpture of himself as Superman. Mentally he shrugged. After all, he'd already promised to let her sculpt Superman, and she already had the drawings to create the portrait of Lois and Clark. He flew to the window and knocked. A few minutes later, he was standing on a platform in the center of a well-lit room with a fan steadily blowing the bottom of his cape to one side.
Rebekah looked at him critically, trying to decide exactly how he should position his arms. "Superman," she began, "how do you usually position your arms? I need to see how you usually hold them so that you're properly represented in the sculpture."
Superman considered this for a moment before saying hesitantly, "Well, I either put my hands on my hips or cross my arms over my chest…"
"Let me see, please," Rebekah requested. Superman complied and she walked around him, studying the two positions from every angle. "Arms crossed, definitely," she said with quiet certainty. "If you'll hold still for a few minutes, I'll be done." Rebekah walked around the superhero again, this time sketching quickly. "Thank you for modeling for me, Superman," Rebekah said with a smile.
"Glad I could help with this project," Superman said, glancing around her studio. Many projects littered the room in various stages of completion. A few feet away from him a half-finished sculpture stood on a small rolling platform. The details had yet to be added, but the forms and positioning were that of Lois and Clark.
The Destroyer sat at a table in his secret hideaway, caressing an R. Petersen original sculpture. It was a self-portrait, with joy written in every line of the piece. He pulled out the artist's statement that George had taken off the wall of the gallery and examined it. <Beautiful,> he thought. <Her writing talent shows in the statement.> He looked around at his collected pieces and smiled. Soon he could add the artist and her best friend to his collection as well. He looked at the joyful piece in front of him… soon he would convince her to create such pieces especially for him. Her gift would be his to order as he wished as well as the gifts of her best friend, Lois Lane. He would own them…
Rebekah sat on a tall stool in her studio, putting the finishing touches on her sculpture of Lois and Clark. Their faces were finished; she only had small details left to add. It was early yet, and since tomorrow was her day off, she had plenty of time to work on her Superman sculpture. She carefully constructed glasses for the Clark sculpture out of fine wire as she considered the possibilities for Superman's statue. It would be better, she decided, to make it relatively small and then have the foundry enlarge it. She simply didn't have the large quantities of plasticene needed to construct the sculpture to the desired size.
Rebekah pulled out another armature and started building Superman's form. She knew the cape would probably be the hardest. Flowing cloth was always hard to create in any kind of clay, and plasticene was considerably stiffer than natural clay.
She carefully began to build muscles on the wire skeleton that was the armature. Rebekah looked at the headless, capeless sculpture critically and compared it to her drawings. It still needed clothing details, but it was accurate at least. She stuck a lump of the artificial clay on top and began to construct Superman's face, starting from the skull and building outwards. Rebekah smoothed on the muscles and began building the rest of the tissue and outer layers of skin. She carefully built up appropriate areas and added in Superman's features, being careful to add expression to his handsome face. The mass for his hair came next. She carefully finished the details on his face and went on to the cape, pounding out thin strips of clay and attaching them to the figure.
Within an hour, she had finished Superman's statue. Rebekah stood up to stretch before walking into the kitchen in search of something to eat. She'd been working on the sculptures since one, and it was almost midnight. She was glad that she'd remembered to call Lois and Clark to tell them not to wait up; she knew where they kept the spare key anyway, so if she went back, it wouldn't be a problem to get in. Sandwich in hand, Rebekah padded back into her studio and turned on a few lamps to highlight her work.
She looked at the sculpture and compared it to her drawings… it was a good match and the expressive quality was excellent. She rolled the Superman statue out of the way and put the sculpture of Lois and Clark in its place. She looked at it critically before deciding that it needed more work; Clark's face wasn't quite right. She pulled out the drawings and carefully began to add details to make it realistic and to add expression, stopping every few minutes to check her sketches. At last she had finished. She put the two sculptures side-by-side so as to get both of them into the light. She examined her work minutely.
<That's weird,> she thought suddenly, looking closer at the sculptures of Clark and Superman. Her brow furrowed as she pulled out drawing supplies. She carefully penciled a portrait of Clark and a portrait of Superman. Rebekah got out an eraser and began to make changes to her Clark drawing. She erased the glasses and changed the hairstyle before comparing it to Superman. <The bone structure is exactly the same,> she thought quietly. If she didn't know better, she would think that Clark Kent and Superman were identical twins or…
Lois and Clark walked into the lobby of the Daily Planet hand in hand after leaving Rebekah in the cafe. Rebekah might have had the afternoon off, but they still had work left to do. Lois glanced over at her husband and smiled. He had the look on his face that meant that he was obsessing about something. Since Superman hadn't had to make any major rescues that day, there was little chance of it being about a life or death situation. She playfully butted him with her hip. "What's on your mind, flyboy?" she asked with a playful smile hovering around the edges of her mouth.
Clark sighed a bit as he thought of the events of that morning. Jimmy had been lying to him; he was as certain of it as he was of his own name. "Lois," he began, "I asked Jimmy about the background information on Rebekah this morning and, well… he didn't exactly tell me the truth. I think she convinced him to help her hide something that she doesn't want us to know… I can't help but wonder if she's up to something."
Lois stared at Clark for a moment. It was a strange sight; her eternal optimist, expressing doubts about her best girl friend. "Clark," she said softly, "Rebekah probably just wanted to tell us herself. She promised me that she would—and that her secret isn't a bad one. I trust her enough to give her the benefit of the doubt." Clark nodded slowly. If Lois thought Rebekah was on the level, experience had taught him that she was usually right.
The duo walked out of the elevator and over to Lois's desk. There was still research to finish; if they could find this "Boss" mentioned on the tape, then the fires would definitely stop. The tape had also mentioned someone by the name of "The Destroyer". They had wondered if the Boss and the Destroyer were one and the same, but not only did they not have proof, but the real identity of this person was still a mystery. With a name like "The Destroyer", Clark had some suspicion that it could be Tempus, but Tempus was still currently locked up in the Asylum. There weren't really any art lovers among the known criminals of Metropolis. Intergang had even been mysteriously quiet lately. While it was true that they had the know-how and resources to run a scam this big, in Lois's mind all of the information pointed towards a single person, not an organization, behind this ring of arson and thievery.
Lois sat down at her desk and placed a call to Bobby Bigmouth. They had been visiting their other snitches, but so far the snitches weren't talking. She made an appointment to meet with Bobby in an hour… with the bribe of Thai food and chocolate eclairs, he'd definitely be able to tell them something.
Bobby Bigmouth grinned as he made his way towards the silver Jeep. He had information; Lane and Kent would owe him big for this. <Peking Duck, here I come!> he thought gleefully. He opened the door of the Jeep and slid inside. "What do you have for me?" he questioned eagerly.
"That depends on what information you've got for us," Lois said crustily. Clark pulled out a bag marked with the name of a Thai restaurant and handed it to Bobby. With his other hand, he grabbed a coke that was sitting in the drink holder and passed it over.
Bobby dug around inside the bag and pulled out a container. "Yum, Thai," he said as he opened the container and dug in.
"Now, what's the word on this Destroyer guy?" Lois demanded.
"He's a shady character. Word is that his tastes run toward expensive objects d'art, a certain artist turned reporter, and her best friend. Anything more will cost you dessert," Bobby said.
Lois grimaced as she produced a white bakery bag and passed it over. "Okay, spill it, Bobby."
Bobby glanced inside the bag and grinned; it contained five fat chocolate eclairs. "Hardly anyone has ever seen his face and survived to tell the tale, but they say that he bears a remarkable resemblance to John Doe. That's all I've got." Bobby gathered up his loot and slid out of the Jeep. "Pleasure doing business with you," he said as he sauntered away.
Lois looked at Clark in shock. "John Doe?? Tempus??? Isn't he still in the Metropolis Home for the Criminally Insane?"
Clark grimaced. "I think so, but I think we'd better go check." Lois started the Jeep and they sped toward the Metropolis Home for the Criminally Insane.
They arrived at the asylum to find that Tempus was still locked inside. Unlike their previous encounter with him in the mental ward, he acted normally—for him. "If Tempus is still here," Lois began, "then Bobby must be wrong. There's no way he can be the Destroyer and still be locked up."
"Lois, we don't know that. The Tempus in our past lives hated us. Isn't it possible that another Tempus, say from the past or the future, is after you now?" Clark questioned.
"I suppose it's possible, if highly unlikely," Lois acquiesced, "but Tempus has been locked up for a long time. I simply don't think that he would try to go after Rebekah. I know why he would want to get me, but why her? It just doesn't make much sense."
Clark nodded in agreement. <Lois is right,> he thought. <After all, Tempus wants to make sure Utopia never exists; Wells would have said something if Rebekah fitted into how Utopia came into existence. I will, however have to talk to Lois and Rebekah. If this madman is really after the both of them, I'll just have to convince them not to go anywhere without me; for their own safety.>
The Destroyer sat in a large armchair in his lair, listening to a tape of Bobby Bigmouth's conversation with the Kents that Eric had obtained for him. They were starting to get too close for his own comfort. He picked up the silver-framed picture of Lois and Rebekah that sat next to him on the end table. He ran caressing fingers over the two images. By tomorrow at the latest, he would make his move; it was time to collect his possessions. <After I break Rebekah,> he thought, <she will create her objects d'art exclusively for me. I must find a way to control Lois.> It would only be a matter of time before the both of them would learn to love him… or at least to obey his every whim. <Obedience is better than love anyway,> he thought with an evil smile. <Love is an illusion propagated by sissy poets and musicians. When I succeed in kidnapping them and gaining their obedience, I will succeed in making life more interesting.> The Destroyer smirked; he would never be caught or even suspected—his counterpart was unavailable to wreak havoc in this world. <I love destroying lives; it's just so fulfilling!> The Destroyer laughed evilly before beginning to finalize his nefarious plans, preparing to set them in motion.
Lois slowly climbed out of the Jeep. Clark had been called away on the way back from the asylum for a bank robbery, so she was temporarily alone. It was late enough that they had just phoned the Planet to let Perry know what they were up to before heading home for the day. Lois smiled to herself. Rebekah had mentioned that she might be staying over at her place working on the sculptures, so soon she and Clark would be able to be alone. Clark had promised that he would pick up some takeout after allowing Rebekah to draw him for the Superman Foundation sculpture.
Clark flew through the window, takeout containers in hand. The modeling session with Rebekah had gone quickly. He was still unsure about the wisdom in allowing Rebekah to sculpt him as both of his identities. However, his mother dabbled in sculpting and if Rebekah worked as Martha did, he surely had nothing to fear. Art was an area that he knew little about, especially representational art. Clark dismissed his worries. <After all,> he reasoned, <she's only an artist… and she's Lois's friend. If Lois trusts her, then I do too.> Clark smiled at the mere thought of his wife. "Lois?" he called softly.
Lois's head popped up from behind the couch. "What did you pick up for dinner tonight, honey?" Lois asked as she got up, walked to the kitchen, and began to pull plates out of the cupboard.
Clark walked over to the table and set down his burden. "I swung by Italy on the way home and picked up some of that pasta you like so much," he said, smiling softly.
Lois finished setting the table, walked over to the fridge, and pulled out a gallon of milk. They usually would have had wine with dinner, but since she had been trying to get pregnant, they had switched over to milk. "Yum," she said, smiling up at her handsome husband as he opened the takeout containers and began placing the food on the plates. Lois toyed with the food on her plate. "I'm not really hungry… for pasta," she said, smiling seductively at her Clark.
Clark smiled at his wife innocently. "And what would you be hungry for?" he inquired, standing up and closing the small distance between them. He leaned over and began planting butterfly kisses on her neck. Lois sighed as she stood up and wrapped her arms around his neck, delicately playing with the fine hairs she found there. Clark's hands tangled in her hair as she bent her head to give him better access and began to plant soft, feathery kisses along his jaw in return. Clark pulled back slightly but only in order to capture her lips with his, intensifying the moment. The kisses became more and more passionate and urgent as they stumbled into the living room. Locked in each other's heated embrace, they fell on to the couch. Clark trailed a hand down her spine as Lois tugged his shirt free and began exploring his chest. Clark caught her hands and motioned to the stairs. He smiled at her, passion darkening his eyes. "Maybe we should continue this… upstairs, he said huskily as he carefully scooped her up and headed for the bedroom.
Hours later, as Clark was kissing Lois, the phone rang. Clark half-heartedly began to reach for the phone, but was stopped by Lois's moan of protest as she buried her hands in his hair, tugged his head closer to her and captured his mouth with hers. "The machine will get it," she said breathlessly between heated kisses. Clark couldn't help but hear from the message that Rebekah wanted them to meet her at her apartment for lunch the next afternoon. He began to trail more butterfly kisses over Lois's exposed skin; thinking about tomorrow just wasn't in the present agenda.
Lois woke slowly, encircled in the comfort of Clark's arms. She yawned sleepily as she shut off the alarm and prodded her still sleeping husband. He groaned and slowly began to rub his eyes. "Morning already?" he asked, his eyes still full of sleep. At Lois's nod, he climbed out of bed and stole a kiss. "I'll go fix breakfast," he said with a yawn as he headed toward the door.
Hours later, Lois and Clark sat in the conference room with their research spread out in front of them. They finished filling Rebekah in on what they had discovered the previous afternoon while she had been working on her sculptures and looked at her expectantly. She had told them that she would put out some feelers in the art world… more information would be useful in pursuing their story.
Rebekah sighed as she regarded her friends. She had done some snooping, but so far had yet to learn much about the "Destroyer". She shook back her long braids, dreading having so little to tell. "I did a little digging," she began, "but all I managed to discover is that he's fencing most of the stolen objects d'art over the internet. It seems that he keeps some of them—mostly my more expressive pieces. It looks as if the more emotional the subject matter is, the more he wants the piece—especially if the subject matter is on the darker side."
Lois looked at her friend in disbelief. "But aren't most of your pieces on the light side? I mean, all of the ones I've seen express more joy than anything else…"
Rebekah looked at her friend ironically. "Lois, I guess we really need to find time for that interview of Perry's after all. A substantial part of my work deals with dark subject matter—overcoming pain and suffering is one of my main themes…" Rebekah trailed off. "Speaking of work, I finished the sculpture of y'all yesterday," Rebekah said with a big grin. "Since it's past lunchtime, and I did invite y'all to my place for lunch, would you two like to see your portraits?"
Clark glanced at his watch and exchanged a glance with Lois before replying for both of them. "Sure," he answered. "Of course we'd like to see how it turned out."
"I guess we'd better get going then," Lois said as she began to gather up their belongings.
Rebekah ushered Lois and Clark into her studio. She had used her cell phone to order pizza for them on the way to her apartment, so there was no reason why she shouldn't show them the fruits of yesterday's labors while they waited. She reached over and pulled the cover off their sculpture. She turned around and smiled at her friends. "What do y'all think?" she asked with an engaging grin.
Clark took a step back and began to examine the sculpture. The portraiture was perfect and she had somehow managed to work emotions into the piece. He glanced over at Lois, wordlessly asking if she saw what he did in Rebekah's work—she had somehow managed to convey the deep love and commitment they had for each other. He wasn't sure how she could do it, but somehow it seemed as if she had seen into their hearts and souls and proceeded to incorporate it into their portrait. Lois was the first one to speak. "It's beautiful, Rebekah," Lois said quietly. Clark nodded his agreement; Lois was right.
A slow smile stole over Rebekah's face—she knew how to go about telling her friends the truth. She gently pushed the modeling stand away from her, using the action to disguise the fact that she had palmed the glasses off the Clark figure. She turned to her friends, carefully blocking the sculpture from view with her body. "I finished the Superman sculpture last night also," she said quietly. "I'd really appreciate an opinion." With that simple declaration, she pulled the cover off the sculpture she had created for the Superman Foundation, making sure that the two modeling stands stood side by side. Rebekah stood back and motioned her friends to come and look.
Clark's eyes widened as he stared at the sculpture. The likeness was absolutely amazing. The statue of Superman was heroic, but Rebekah had managed to capture an element of sadness—sadness and regret for the people he could not save. Clark glanced over to the first sculpture and then at Rebekah. Her expression was one of acceptance; it was acceptance of knowledge she had no right to know. Comprehension dawned on his face. She knew. She knew the secret that he had spent his life protecting; that Lois had spent the past three years protecting. Lois had been a bit faster on the uptake—Rebekah's knowledge of the Kent family secret was a bit disturbing, but if they could swear her to secrecy, no harm would be done.
It was Rebekah that spoke first. "Lois, Clark," she began seriously, "first of all, I promise I won't tell." She scuffed one foot against the floor before continuing. "Second, Clark, if you *really* want to keep your secret, don't make friends with figurative sculptors… especially if they're trained in forensic work like I am."
Lois took a deep breath before answering for both of them. "We know that you wouldn't betray us," she said quietly. "But there's something else, isn't there? I know you promised to tell us sooner or later, but I think that if we're going to trust you with our biggest secret, we need yours for blackmail material."
Rebekah gave a short nod. "I was planning on telling you today, anyway." She motioned for them to follow her as she led the way to the living room. "Make yourself at home, I'll be right back," she said before disappearing into the bedroom. She re-emerged a few minutes later carrying a notebook. "I thought it might be a good idea if I showed you some proof." Rebekah looked serious as she handed over the notebook. Lois began to look through it, making sure that Clark could see the documents and pictures also. "As a young child, I was considered to be exceptionally bright," Rebekah began. "My parents took me and had IQ tests run. The tests all labeled me as a child genius, so my parents took me out of preschool and put me in college." Rebekah took a deep breath before continuing, "By my seventh birthday, I had a degree in Biochemical Engineering from Georgia Tech and went on to become a doctor. I know that it's a bit hard to believe, but I had a degree in medicine from Emory by the time I was eleven. Lois, I met you the summer before my last year working on a degree in Journalism at Met U. After I finished that, I moved to the Atlanta College of Art and Design to get a BFA in art."
"Why is this such a big secret?" Clark asked. "I mean, your past is a good thing."
Rebekah rubbed a hand across her face and pushed her braided hair back. "I didn't want anyone to know because it's something I'd like to forget. There are lots of people out there that tend to take advantage of a child genius. There are also things I know that the criminal elements would love to have access to. It was easier to be R. Petersen the artist and leave the rest behind." Rebekah took a deep breath before continuing. "One of my medical school buddies did the autopsies on the dead New Kryptonians. I was curious, so against government regulations, he slipped me a copy of the autopsy reports. They were hoping that by learning everything they could about Kryptonian physiology, if Superman ever had a problem, they could use what they learned to help you." Rebekah looked over at her friends and took another deep breath. "I have some friends in Washington that gave me the medical data that was included in the peace treaty. Basically, I'm one of a handful of people that can be considered experts on Kryptonian physiology."
"Dr. Klein has been treating Clark for years. Doesn't he have this information?" Lois asked quickly.
"He has some, but one of my special studies is infertility. The government asked me to look into whether or not there could be Kryptonian/human babies after the invasion. They said that if such a conception was possible, they needed to identify the children so that Superman might be able to help them. At the time, I ruled that it simply wasn't possible, but I think I was wrong. I think I overlooked something basic. With a decent lab and a few days to work on it, I'm pretty sure that I can find a way for the two of you to have kids if you want them." Rebekah looked at her friends as hope blossomed on their faces. She had been reexamining all of her information since she had discovered that Clark was Superman. It was obvious to her that Lois wanted Clark's child. Rebekah had hoped that she'd never have to actively practice medicine again, but to help her friends, she would attempt to fix the problem. "I have next Wednesday and Thursday off. If I can get acceptance into a lab, I might have an answer for you next week."
"If we talk to Dr. Klein and offer your information, it's entirely possible that he might let you work in Star Labs," Clark said. "We'll make an appointment with Dr. Klein for Superman this afternoon. That way, we'll have a better chance of convincing him to let you access the labs."
<Whew! It's been a long day!> Rebekah reflected as she strode through the Planet's parking garage on her way to her Harley. Clark had managed to finagle an afternoon appointment to see Dr. Klein, so she had gotten introduced that day. Dr. Klein had been extremely skeptical, not to mention suspicious that she was who she claimed to be. <It's just about what you expected,> she told herself wryly. He had recognized her name in conjunction with art and had proceeded to treat her like a small child. Being treated like an idiot by people who were her intellectual equals was something that happened whenever she spoke to supposed colleagues. Rebekah hated it, but had grown accustomed to the condescending remarks that flew her way whenever she claimed her full identity. She and Superman had managed to convince Dr. Klein by not only the volume of data that she possessed, but by her complete understanding of it. Rebekah smiled to herself as she remembered Klein's sudden recall of her papers and articles; it had taken him a while, but he had finally remembered reading more than a few groundbreaking papers by R.A. Petersen. Rebekah reached her bike and began to rebind her hair; combing the tangles out after riding the Harley was just too painful unless she bound it first. Just as she inserted the final bobby pin, a cloth-covered hand came over her mouth. Rebekah fought back with all the skill she had ever managed to acquire, but soon the darkness overcame her and she slumped to the ground.
Lois parked the Jeep in front of the Hyperion Avenue brownstone. It was still a bit hard to believe that little Rebekah was a doctor and thought that she could help them. However, not only had she seen the documentation, but she had made a few calls this afternoon that offered definitive proof that Rebekah was telling the truth. Lois sighed, remembering the look of fear in Clark's eyes when Rebekah had told them that she knew their secret. Even her assurances that she would never tell had not completely obliterated the fear in her beloved's eyes. Lois knew that Clark's alter ego was safe; after all, so many criminals had tried to unmask Clark as Superman that most of the media regarded it as a bad joke.
Lois pulled out her keys and unlocked the door before walking inside. She had sent Clark out for Chinese food; she was sure that after dinner, she could help alleviate his anxiety concerning this most recent addition to the inner circle. In a way, Rebekah's knowing could be a very good thing. With all of the break-ins at Star Labs, and the theft of Clark's medical records, she wasn't really sure if Dr. Klein should ever be told of Superman's real identity; it could be dangerous for all of them. She climbed the stairs to the bedroom that she and Clark shared and pulled some casual clothes out of the dresser. Lois changed quickly into blue jeans and a t-shirt, deciding just this once to leave her shoes off and go barefoot. She padded downstairs into the living room and into the kitchen, opened the fridge and reached inside for a cream soda. As she began to straighten up, hands grabbed her from behind and a cloth was forced over her nose and mouth. Before she had a chance to defend herself against her assailants, darkness took over as she lapsed into unconsciousness.
Two dark vans drove swiftly through the streets of Suicide Slum, their precious cargoes bound, gagged, and blindfolded as the Boss had ordered. They had come from different directions; each had taken a circuitous route to get to their final destination. The first of the dark vans contained a tall, somewhat stocky artist while the other held prisoner a petite dark-haired beauty of a reporter. Both captive women had major roles to play in the developing history of this world; both were headed toward doom and certain death. It was unclear what awaited them; the one known as the Destroyer had been known to change his mind on a whim. His men knew of his wanton cruelty and callous disregard for those he considered his playthings. They had all helped to dispose of the evidence that would connect him to his play.
The first van carefully pulled behind the hidden entrance to the Master's hideout and inched its way down into the small garage. Four heavyset men pulled the limp form of a young artist out of the back of the van. In her struggle to win free, the bobby pins that secured her braids to her head had loosened, causing her braids to thump down free on her back. The four men carefully carried the unconscious young woman into the special lead-lined room that the Destroyer was so fond of sitting in. He had ordered that she be undamaged, so they gently laid her down on the huge bed and, after taking her bindings off, chained her hands and feet to the frame. Her braids flipped over to one side, barely within reach of her chained left hand.
Clark flew swiftly over the ocean, carrying steaming bamboo containers filled with delicious Chinese takeout food. He soon neared the East Coast, flying as fast as he dared, eager to return to his loving wife. As he neared Metropolis, his thoughts turned more and more to a certain pair of liquid brown eyes; eyes that he could easily spend a lifetime drowning in and still beg for more. He flew through the window of the house he shared with Lois, spun out of his suit, and immediately began looking for her. "Lois?" he called softly. She was nowhere in sight, and for some reason, although the lights were on and the refrigerator door was open, he couldn't hear her heartbeat. Thinking that she might have had to leave suddenly to meet with a source for their current story, he set down the takeout and walked quickly over to the desk where they usually left messages to each other in situations where the other could not be reached. Nothing.
Clark lowered his glasses and looked out the front door; her Jeep was still parked out front. Clark began to smile; something like this had happened before. He bounded upstairs, hoping to find his beautiful wife lying on their bed waiting for him. "Lois?" he called again softly. There was no answer. He pushed open the door to their bedroom and walked inside. He was disappointed when he found it silent and empty. The only evidence of her presence resided in the laundry hamper; the work clothes she had been wearing were crumpled inside. Clark took a deep breath and momentarily closed his eyes. He then began using his special abilities by scanning the house inch by inch, hoping to find some sign of where she had gone. He finished the scan in a matter of minutes.
Lois had not called for him—either she was unable to scream, or unwilling to. Clark stashed the food in the fridge before spinning into the Suit to search for his other half. He knew, through the soulmate bond, that she still lived, but it was obvious to him that she was in some sort of trouble. He began to fly a search pattern over the city, hoping and praying that he would find her before it was too late. His mind refused to contemplate what he might be "too late" to prevent; losing her was unthinkable—she was his world.
A second dark, lead-lined van sped quickly and quietly through the streets of Metropolis. Six large men repeatedly sneaked nervous glances at the small woman lying in a boneless heap on an old mattress in the back of the vehicle. The Master had told them to be wary of this one— she might look harmless, but the truth often belied appearances. He wanted her undamaged; the men knew what that meant. Any damage this puppet incurred was to be at the hands of the Destroyer. Any one of them who disobeyed orders would most likely be part of the Master's game, as yet another plaything. The driver of the van glanced back at the unconscious figure in the back before turning to concentrate upon his destination.
The van silently slipped through the secret entranceway to the Destroyer's lair. Six men climbed out of the van and gently carried the limp form into the lead-lined room. Carefully, they untied their prize, untaped her mouth, took off the blindfold, laid her out on the bed, and chained her next to Rebekah. After they finished the task, the six men slipped out of the room and notified the Master of their successful foray into the Kents' home. A few minutes later, the Destroyer strode into the room and loomed over the bed, a chilling smile upon his wicked visage. His smile was one of pure, unadulterated evil that sent chills up the spines of viewers. <Mine,> he thought, <all mine.> The Destroyer mockingly caressed the faces of the two senseless women—now his possessions to do with what he would. He sighed regretfully. Playing with these two new toys would not be amusing until they recovered from the effects of the chloroform his men had used to subdue them. He would have to wait until they recovered. He grinned mockingly as he kissed each of the women. <Mine, all mine,> he thought again as he exited the room, locking it carefully behind him. He would come back after the drug wore off to begin his games.
Rebekah opened her eyes blearily and examined her surroundings. Her head felt as if it were stuffed with cotton-wool, she had been chained to the bed, but otherwise she was fine. <How are you going to get out of this one, Petersen?> she asked herself. Rebekah turned her head to the left and began to smile. Her braids were within reach of her left hand—and hairpins were sticking out of the braids. She carefully removed a bobby pin and painstakingly began to pick the lock, mentally blessing the drawing professor who had made her draw left-handed for eight weeks. She fiddled with the tumblers until she heard them click, freeing her left hand. She then began to carefully pick the other three locks that held her bound, freeing herself after much effort. Rebekah leaned over Lois, examining the triple-locking system that was an impediment to her friend's freedom. She picked the twelve locks that held Lois chained to the bed and slowly began to examine the room for escape routes. Upon examining the room, she discovered that other than the door, the only other way out was the rather large ventilation shaft high up on the wall. She examined the opening and shook her head; Lois, petite as she was, could fit inside, but the chances of following the same way were nil. Rebekah walked over to the bed and began shaking Lois gently. "Lois?" she called softly. "Wake up."
Lois stirred and opened her eyes. "Where are we?" she whispered.
"I don't know," Rebekah said almost inaudibly. "Whoever took us was pretty thorough. There is one way out for you to go get help… the air ventilation system." Rebekah fumbled with a seam in her worn carpenter jeans and pulled out an old, battered Swiss army knife. Without looking at her friend, she unscrewed the vent plate and carefully set it against the wall.
"Let me guess," Lois said, "you want me to leave you here, waiting for an unknown enemy to do who-knows-what to you while I stay safe? Forget it. This could be the biggest story of this century… I'm not leaving without you or it."
"Lois," Rebekah began, "you're not leaving me here… this is divide and conquer. I can't fit in that vent. As soon as you're inside, I'm putting the cover back on and I'll try to escape through the door. That way, one of us is guaranteed to make it out, find Superman, the cops, and rescue the other. Either way, the Planet gets the exclusive." Rebekah smiled crookedly. "Now will you get into the vent?"
Lois sighed and shook her head before answering her friend. "You have to promise to meet me in the Daily Planet in three hours—by then, one of us will have made it out. I need a boost to get into the vent," she said quietly, walking over to stand next to Rebekah. Rebekah cupped her hands together and with a grunt of effort, helped raise Lois to the hole near the ceiling. Lois grabbed the edges of the opening and pulled herself in. Rebekah handed Lois her Swiss army knife and pulled another out of another seam. Without another word, Rebekah waited until Lois was completely inside, fit the vent covering over the hole and replaced the screws. She hurried over to the door and picked the lock. As she reached for the doorknob, the door slowly began to open…
Lois crawled quickly through the vent, trying not to think of the filth underneath her. <Of all the times these idiots could have picked to kidnap me, why did they have to wait until I was *barefoot*,> she snarled inwardly. <It's a good thing I changed into blue jeans,> she thought with a grimace. <Otherwise, *another* set of work clothes would be ruined.> Lois felt her way carefully down the air shaft,
wishing for a flashlight. Soon, her questing right hand encountered empty space. She carefully inched her way around the corner, praying to find a way out of the filthy ventilation system soon.
After what seemed like hours of crawling through passages, she saw a ghost of light off in the distance. Lois crawled towards the faint signs of an exit carefully and quickly. As Lois reached the light source, she paused to pull out the Swiss army knife that Rebekah had slipped into her hand before she had crawled into the vent. She examined the opening carefully; it was another vent cover. Lois pressed an ear to the opening. After a few minutes of hearing absolute quiet, she slowly inserted the blade of the knife between the crumbling wall and the vent opening. After a few minutes of prodding and prying, she popped the screws free of the drywall and let the vent cover swing open.
Lois closed the knife and stuck it in her pocket before lowering herself from the vent, dropping the last few feet. She landed silently and began to look around; it looked as if she was at the end of an underground passageway. She padded quickly and silently down it, hoping to find a way out. After a half-hour of walking, the passageway began to turn. <Finally! Something different,> Lois thought. It had been getting monotonous walking down a seemingly never- ending hallway. As she followed the curving tunnel, the smell had been getting steadily worse. Soon it became apparent where she had ended up—the sewers.
Lois tried not to think of what unknown substances squished between her bare toes. Lois stumbled and fell headfirst into the sludge at the bottom of the tunnel. She picked herself up and looked down at her beslimed body. <I'm going to have to sterilize myself and burn my clothes when I get out of here,> Lois thought with a grimace of disgust. She began searching the wall for a way out. Soon she came across a ladder leading upwards. She grabbed a hold of the rungs and began to climb. A few minutes later, she hit the top of the tunnel and a manhole cover. She hooked a leg through the metal ladder and shoved at the cover as hard as she could, moving it inch by inch until there was enough space to squeeze through.
Lois clambered out of the manhole and began to look around. Her surroundings looked a bit familiar. Lois turned around at the sound of crowds coming out of a building. She stood shifting from foot to foot as she noticed where she was— the Metropolis Opera House. A fat, evening-gown-and-fur- clad figure stepped out of the doorway. She wrinkled her nose as if smelling some foul odor and held the skirts of her dress away from Lois. "Someone ought to make sure that trash like that," she began haughtily, looking pointedly at Lois, "shouldn't be allowed to loiter around places that their betters frequent." The woman flounced away.
Lois's face darkened and she began to follow the woman to give her a piece of her mind. Lois stopped when she remembered that if the Opera had gotten out, it must be late—extremely late. <Clark must be worried sick!> Lois thought. After making sure that no one was looking, she ducked into an alleyway and pulled money from the vault. Within a few minutes, she had located a payphone and called a cab…
Clark flew over the city, frantically using his x-ray vision to search the buildings. The most logical places to look were the Hobbs Bay area and Suicide Slum, so he paid careful attention to the buildings in those areas. After a few hours of searching, he reluctantly concluded that trying to find his beloved in this manner just wouldn't work; there were just too many blind spots in the old buildings due to lead paint. <Maybe I should head over to the Planet,> he thought slowly. <I guess it's possible that she could be there.> Clark flew over to the Planet and landed on the roof. He spun into his street clothes and ran down the stairs into the newsroom.
The Destroyer grasped the doorknob and opened the door that separated him from his new possessions. Entering the room, he wasn't too surprised to find that Rebekah had freed herself; it fit with what he knew about her. What did surprise him was the fact that Lois was missing. His expression darkened at this discovery. He motioned for his employees to chain Rebekah to the bed again. This time, he made sure to quadruple-lock the chains. He loomed over the hapless artist, enjoying the fear he saw in her eyes. "Rebekah," he said with an evil smile hovering about his lips.
Rebekah glared her defiance at her captor and made as if to spit on him. "That wouldn't be very lady-like," he growled as he put a restraining hand over her mouth. He grabbed her braids with one hand and jerked them out sharply. With one swift, smooth motion, he picked up a sharp knife and sawed through the thick strands. He held up the dangling braids. "I know how much you love your long hair," he sneered. He wrapped one of the shorn braids around her neck and began to use it to squeeze. Soon Rebekah began to fight for air as spots of darkness danced in front of her eyes. She had refused to speak from the beginning—the longer she stayed silent, the greater the chance Lois had of escaping.
The Destroyer loomed over her, his very prescence as her side threatening. Rebekah lay quietly, chained up. She was unable to move. She knew that one false move would probably be the last mistake she ever made.
He placed a sharp knife on her ribs and asked in an icy voice, "Where's Lane?"
Rebekah shivered. Until now, she had all but avoided looking him, but she could not any longer. She glanced up at his face and recoiled from what she saw in his eyes. There are some people that walk this earth who, somewhere along the way, have lost or given away their very souls. The Destroyer was one of those people… his eyes were dead, devoid of any feeling but the pleasure of others' pain. As Rebekah stared at his once-handsome visage, deep down inside she knew that evil now had a face—and she was staring right at it. "I don't know," Rebekah answered truthfully. <After all,> she thought, down in the back of her skull, <Lois could be anywhere by now.>
The Destroyer smiled before picking up the knife he had laid on her ribs…
The Destroyer put down the knife and poked his head out the door to speak to the guards. Soon afterwards, two men joined the Destroyer in the room. One of the men was familiar to her—Georgie-Porgy. She didn't recognize the other, but the total lack of expression on his face unnerved her.
The Destroyer gestured toward the two men, "George, Eric, …"
The cab pulled up to the curb and Lois stepped up to talk to the cabbie. He took one look at her filthy clothes, wet, stringy, dirty hair, and bare feet before leaving her standing on the sidewalk. Lois shook her head and sighed. The buses didn't run this late and as dirty as she was, cabs most likely wouldn't pick her up either. It would be a very long walk home, especially since she didn't have shoes. <I hope Clark will understand,> she thought as she took a deep breath. "Help, Superman!" she yelled.
Clark was sitting behind Lois's desk, going through the drawers, when he heard the cry for help. He raced out of the newsroom and up the stairs, spinning into his suit as he propelled himself forward. He'd recognize that scream anywhere—Lois was in trouble. Within seconds he was standing in front of a filthy, bedraggled, barefoot Lois. "You screamed, Ms. Lane?" he questioned. Before she could answer, he scooped her up and headed towards home. From the way she smelled, Clark knew that the first thing on her mind would probably be a shower… and burning her clothes. Lois pulled herself closer to Clark as they flew, wanting nothing more than a shower and a change of clothes. She didn't know how much time had elapsed since she and Rebekah had split up, but she knew that Rebekah would wait if she made it back to the Planet first. Clark flew through their bedroom window and straight into the master bathroom where he gently set her down.
Lois looked up at her husband, a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Trying to tell me something, Kent?" she asked playfully.
"Maybe I am," Clark said with mischief dancing in his eyes. He reached over and turned on the water before picking her up and playfully pretending to get ready to dump her into the shower.
"Okay, okay, I get the hint," Lois said laughingly. "Now put me down; we're to meet Rebekah at the Planet in three hours!"
Clark carefully put her down, smiling broadly.
Lois looked him over, noticing for the first time the mess that had rubbed off of her on to his Suit. "You've got smutz all over the Suit," she said softly, her hands reaching up unerringly to the fastenings that held the Suit closed. Lois began to unzip the Suit, preparing to peel it off him. "Care to join me?" she asked with a seductive smile. Clark grinned before he undressed both of them at superspeed and pulled her into the shower with him; even filthy, she was beautiful.
Lois stepped underneath the warm water with a blissful sigh; she didn't much like being covered head to toe with gunk that came from the sewers! Clark picked up a washcloth and a bar of soap. "C'mere," he said, reaching around her to get the washcloth wet. Lois leaned back against him as he rubbed soap into the washcloth and began to gently scrub off the smelly mess that covered her. He started at the top, washing off her face, shoulders and arms, trailing kisses over her freshly washed skin. "I was worried about you," he murmured softly while kissing her face, forehead and lips. Clark continued to wash her, making sure that none of the filth that was the legacy of her most recent adventure remained.
Lois kissed him as he reached for the shampoo and gently began to massage it into her scalp. As soon as the soap had been rinsed out of her hair, Lois grabbed the washcloth, rubbed more soap in it, and turned to her husband. She began to carefully run the washcloth over his large frame, performing the same service for him that he had performed for her. She stood on tiptoes and brushed a soft kiss against his lips. How she loved this man! Lois finished washing his body and carefully soaped his hair. She helped him rinse out the soap before wrapping her arms around his waist and closing her eyes as the warm water cascaded around them.
She was thankful that she had managed to escape and was now standing with him, wrapped safely in his strong arms. Lois thought back to all the times that she could have lost him or he her. She pressed her body closer to his, knowing that if anything ever happened to him, it was unlikely she would survive. He was her life, her heart, her soul; she needed him for her continued existence. She tugged his head down to hers and kissed him hungrily. After a few moments, she broke the kiss and caressed his face lovingly. "As much as I'd like to continue this, Clark," she began, "we need to find out if Rebekah managed to escape, too." Clark nodded in agreement as she turned off the water.
A few minutes later, Lois and Clark sped back through the mostly deserted streets of Metropolis in their jeep on the way to the Planet. By Lois's calculations, it had been two and a half hours since she had Rebekah had split up; if Rebekah had managed to escape, she would soon be at the Planet.
Eric smiled widely. Revenge was sweet; he only wished that Lane had not escaped so that she could get a taste of it.
The Destroyer leaned up against the wall, watching the ongoing game. Rebekah would be his. So far she had only bent, but he would break her and make her his. He had all the time in the world to convince her to do his bidding. He laughed his pleasure at the tears running down her face; she would soon learn what real pain truly was. Eric and George had had their fun; it was now his turn. He motioned for them to leave before he turned to Rebekah. He smiled gleefully. "You will learn to obey me soon enough… for now, you are *mine*." As the Destroyer started to come towards her, Rebekah shut her eyes, gritted her teeth, and set to endure.
Lois and Clark leaned against Clark's desk, waiting for Rebekah to show up. It had been three and a half hours since Lois's escape and they were starting to worry. "Clark," Lois said, "something must have happened; Rebekah has never been this late for anything as long as I've known her. We were being held underground somewhere in Suicide Slum… they might have recaptured her."
"I x-rayed Suicide Slum and didn't find anything, so you two must have been in a lead-lined room. I guess we'll have to figure out another way to find her." Clark pondered this thought for a few minutes, trying to come up with a way to find their friend. Over the past few days, he had found himself growing fond of his wife's friend. <It wasn't all that hard to do,> he reflected. After all, she was a nice kid. He thought back to the time he had spent in her studio the past few days. Clark remembered the conversation he had had with her about art materials… plasticene in particular. She had admitted that she despised the stuff, but that it was a necessary evil. She had said that the residue clung to her body for a long period of time after she finished using it. He slowly remembered the scent of the artificial clay and an idea crept into his head. He smiled suddenly as he turned to Lois. "Honey," he began, "did Rebekah have any smears of that green clay on her hands still?"
Lois simply looked at him, wondering why he would ask such a weird question. "Um, yeah, she did. I remember seeing some when she gave me her knife. Why?"
Clark grinned before replying. "That clay has a distinctive odor. I very much doubt that the kidnappers made your prison smell-proof! I think I might be able to find her if I…" He grinned. "… sniff around." Lois groaned at his pun and smacked him lightly on the chest. "Baby," he began softly, "wait here for me? Your captors may try to get you back." Lois nodded slowly; she would wait… this time.
Rebekah choked back a sob as she felt a sudden jolt of pain as she tried to shift her broken right arm. In her mind, breaking her hands and arms was probably the worst thing anyone could do to her; they were her livelihood. She glared up at the Destroyer through her tears, wishing and hoping that her friends would soon rescue her and put her tormentor in prison where he belonged. She refused to allow herself to hate him; she felt that if she gave in to that potent emotion, he would somehow win. Rebekah closed her eyes and began to excersise the only option left to her—praying fervently that Clark and the police were somehow on their way.
Clark hovered above Suicide Slum, blocking almost everything out of his mind but the scent of plasticene. He smiled fiercely as he located it and began to fly swiftly toward the source of the odor.
The Destroyer looked at his handiwork and laughed at his new toy as pain-filled eyes looked up at him. He checked her chains one last time before gathering his possessions. He wasn't finished playing yet, but it could wait until he had a chance to change clothes and get something to eat. He picked up one of the shorn braids, laughed at his plaything again and walked out the door. The Destroyer chuckled to himself as he made his way down the corridor and behind a secret panel to his private quarters. He had made sure that Superman could not find him here by lining it with lead; here he was safe from the overgrown blue boy scout.
Clark arrowed toward the source of the plasticene smell. He had located the building and by his calculations, the room Rebekah was in was about six feet underground. He entered through an open window, made his way to the basement, and crashed through to the room where her unknown captors had hidden her. He closed his eyes briefly in sympathy as he saw her injuries. Working quickly, he leaned over and snapped the chains that held her. Rebekah's eyes opened, clouded with pain. "Superman," she said with a voice hoarse from screaming, "thank goodness you found me." Rebekah's eyes closed as she fell into the mercy of unconsciousness. Clark x-rayed her and discovered that she had some broken bones. He carefully detached his cape, picked her up and gently wrapped her in it. Clark picked her up and flew out of the prison as fast as he dared to the nearest hospital. Once there, he handed her over to the ER doctors and called the police. It was imperative that they meet him there to apprehend the perpetrators. Clark flew swiftly back to the crime scene and began gathering up the Destroyer's men. George and Eric were among the first to be apprehended. Within minutes, every member of the group and been caught and hog- tied—except the Destroyer. None of his men knew where the entrance to his chambers lay… and he wasn't coming out. Clark flew back to the Planet to fetch Lois. She needed to know that her friend had been found—and that she was in the hospital.
Rebekah came to in the Emergency Room of the Metropolis General Hospital with doctors and other members of the medical staff hovering around her. She sighed in relief, glad that the rescue hadn't been a dream. The cuts on her broken limbs had been attended to and temporary casts of wrap-around splints and ace bandages held the broken bones in place. She looked down at her body, noticing that a large portion of it was swathed in bandages… and more were being added by doctors as they finished taking care of her injuries.
A man leaning against the wall noticed her wakefulness and came forward, introducing himself as Inspector Henderson. He asked if there were any nearby relatives and seemed surprised when she told him to call Perry White. Rebekah closed her eyes briefly in pain; it wasn't really surprising that few knew of her relation to the Planet's editor in chief. His sister, her mother, had succumbed to leukemia when she was twelve, leaving her motherless and her father and uncle bereft. Henderson pulled out his cell phone and made a phone call before taking up the thread of questioning again. For a brief moment before answering, Rebekah considered feigning unconsciousness to avoid the questions. She then began to answer every question, telling him everything she knew. A few minutes after the questioning began, Lois and Clark walked in, silently pulling up chairs beside her bed.
"Do you think you could recognize the man if you saw him again?" Henderson asked.
"Inspector, if you get me paper, vine charcoal, white comte and a plastic eraser, I'll do better than that—I can draw him," Rebekah answered.
Inspector Henderson raised one eyebrow skeptically before going to speak to one of the guards they had placed by her door. He soon returned with the desired materials and handed them to her, making sure to pull up the table.
"Remind me to write a letter and thank my old drawing professor," she muttered grimly as she began to draw the face etched in her memory by her pain- and terror-filled experience. She drew the face of pure evil carefully, making sure not to leave out any of the details—including the scar that ran from his right eyebrow to his mouth. As Rebekah put the finishing touched on the portrait, Lois leaned over to take a look. She gasped. It was—
"It *can't* be," she said in a shocked voice, "he's still locked up."
Clark came up behind Lois and examined the finished portrait. "It's not, honey, at least not *our* universe's version of this madman." He pointed toward the scar on the man's chin. "Ours doesn't have that. And if other universes have versions of us, isn't it possible that they have other versions of him too?"
Inspector Henderson picked up the picture and grimaced. "This is John Doe, isn't it?"
"That's one of his aliases," Clark began quietly, "I know that this is hard to believe, but his real name is Tempus… and this man came from a parallel dimension. Our Tempus is currently locked up in the Metropolis Home for the Criminally Insane for the rest of his life. Our Tempus doesn't have that scar."
Henderson looked at Clark in disbelief. If he hadn't known what a straight arrow Kent was, he might not have believed him. Over the years, however, he had learned that Kent rarely, if ever, told lies. As a result of this, after a brief struggle with himself, he took Clark's word for it. "I'll get my men right on it," he said quietly on his way out of the room.
A nurse walked soundlessly into the room and glared at Lois and Clark. "You're not relatives," she said bitingly. "This young woman's uncle is here to see her and she needs her rest, so you'll have to leave."
Rebekah pushed herself up painfully. "They're staying, Nurse," she said with quiet authority. The nurse grabbed Lois and Clark and began to usher them out of the room while giving Rebekah a doctor-knows-best look. Rebekah began to murmur something under her breath, knowing that Clark would hear what she was saying and relay it to Lois. "Clark," she whispered, "Uncle Perry was planning on staying at Aunt Alice's place tonight—they couldn't have gotten in contact with him this fast. Sneak back in after the nurse lets you go!" Clark nodded slightly to show her that he understood and allowed the nurse to lead him out. A few minutes later, Lois and Clark snuck in and hid in the bathroom. Something was bound to happen—if Perry really wasn't here; there was no telling who this person was.
AltTempus (aka. The Destroyer) stood calmly before the admittance desk of Metropolis General Hospital. It hadn't taken much to find out where the big blue boy scout had stashed his plaything; after all, Metropolis General was the closest hospital to his lair. Soon the nurse came out to tell him which room Rebekah was in; the silly git thought that he was Perry White. He slunk down the hallway, stopping at Rebekah's room. Tempus walked quickly past the guards and into the hospital room, fingering the shorn braid that lay coiled in his pocket. He crept up to the hospital bed and looked at the sleeping woman before smiling coldly. If he could not have the wench, no one could. He whipped out the hair, wrapped it around her neck, and began to squeeze. Before he could get very far, Superman burst out of the bathroom and pulled him away from the injured young woman. Superman smiled at the criminal. "Tempus, I presume?" he said with a hint of irony in his voice. "You'll now be joining your counterpart where both of you belong—jail." Superman carried Tempus outside and handed him over to the waiting arms of the authorities.
Rebekah slumped down in the hospital bed, bored. Due to her numerous injuries, the doctors had insisted that she stay in the hospital for a few days under observation. <It's a good thing the staff are under orders to let my friends in,> she reflected soberly. <Otherwise, I might go mad!> She had spoken to Dr. Klein earlier that day and he had promised to bring by their combined research and some test results from a test that she had asked him to run. Rebekah leaned back in the bed, flipping channels and hoping that Dr. Klein would show up soon—his arrival would at least alleviate her boredom.
Dr. Bernard Klein whistled cheerfully as he finished recording the results from one of the tests that Dr. R. Petersen had requested. Since this test involved Superman, he would not trust anyone else to perform it. He examined the results and smiled happily. <I've never been more happy to be slightly wrong,> he thought. He had one final test to finish before delivering this information to Dr. Petersen. Soon the test was finished. Dr. Klein boxed up the notes and got his coat, heading for Metropolis General Hospital.
A few minutes later, he handed the information to Rebekah. She motioned for him to sit down and began to look over the latest results. A brilliant smile broke over her face. "Dr. Klein," she said, "I think I know what the problem is—and I have the solution. I promise to tell you, but I think our patient has the right to know first." Dr. Klein nodded reluctantly. He was intensely curious as to the precise reason she had ordered a few of the tests; there simply didn't seem to be much of a correlation between any of the data they had obtained. "Superman will be by later— thanks for your help, Dr. Klein," she said softly.
"You're welcome," he replied. "You will come by Star Labs and tell me what you've discovered later ,won't you?" Dr. Klein shot her a pleading glance.
Rebekah chuckled. "I promise," she said with a smile.
Dr. Klein walked out of the room, shooting wistful glances at the small box of data on her bed.
Rebekah leaned back against her pillows and chuckled. <It *would* be something that simple,> she thought, grinning at her own cleverness. She settled back to wait for her friends, as they had promised to be by at noon and it was nearing that time now.
Lois and Clark climbed out of the jeep and entered the hospital. Rebekah had hinted at having a solution to their problem very soon… and the famous Lane curiosity had taken over. Lois wanted to know—now. She strode into Rebekah's room, half pulling Clark behind her.
Rebekah looked up from the notes she was studying and broke into a sunny smile. "Hey, y'all," she said happily. "Clark, I need you to lock the door before I give you the news." Clark walked over to the door and locked it behind them and then came over to stand beside Lois next to the bed. Rebekah took a deep breath. "Lois, Clark, Dr. Klein was both right and wrong." Rebekah looked at the puzzled looks on her friends' faces before continuing, "Clark, genetically, there's no reason why you and Lois can't have kids. However, there is a slight problem."
Clark suddenly found the floor to be the most fascinating sight he'd ever seen. "I knew it," he said, "it's because I'm not human, isn't it?" He looked up at his wife and her friend, pain and sorrow written all over his face.
"Clark," Rebekah began, "from everything I've seen, Kryptonians are pretty much human. They're distant cousins, to say the least. Your problem is something that is easily fixed because I have the data to create the medication to rectify the situation." Hope began to dawn on the faces of Lois and Clark.
"You mean, we might be able to have kids after all?" Lois asked.
Rebekah smiled. "There's no reason why not! In earth humans, the egg is covered in a protein-like substance that protects it. Sperm cells have an enzyme that eats its way through the covering on the egg so it can be fertilized. Kryptonian reproductive systems work much the same way, only the covering on the egg is thinner. Clark, you don't have enough of that enzyme to fertilize Lois's egg, but we can fix that." Rebekah grinned widely. "All we have to do is to convince your body to produce more of the proteinase—and I know how to do it." Rebekah wrote a note on a piece of paper, stuck it in a box, and passed the box to Clark. "The instructions for manufacturing the drug to fool your system are in the box. Take it to Dr. Klein and he'll know what to do."
Lois looked at Clark and saw an expression of relief and joy that mirrored the one she wore. They took their leave of Rebekah and went to Star Labs and gave the box to Dr. Klein, explaining that Rebekah had asked them to drop it off for her. They had finished writing the story the previous day, so they had the weekend off. Jimmy had been disappointed that Rebekah had broken their date, but considering that she was in the hospital, he understood. Lois and Clark got into their jeep and headed toward home; the story series from this little adventure was in the bag for this year's Kerth awards… for once, a Lane and Kent story had different byline—Lane, Kent, and Petersen.
Rebekah lay in her bed and stared out the window. She was beginning to remember all the things she hated about cities; it was time to go home. Her mouth twisted in a wry smile; going back to her land in the mountains of North Georgia had never looked better. She would stay for the last two of her show openings before going back. Lois and Clark already knew of her visits to the hospital's counseling center; she just had not yet told them about her decision to leave Metropolis. She'd been on the road for quite some time—it was a big part of why her work sold so well. She would have to tell Lois and Clark of her decision—later. She was scattering their targets. Rebekah knew that because she knew the truth about Superman, it put her at risk… if she left, the risk would be less.
Lois sat curled up next to Clark on the sofa in their living room. "So," Clark said, pressing a soft kiss into her hair, "now that we know that children are possible, how many do we want?"
Lois looked up at her love and smiled. "Since the impossible has just become possible… well… that's something we need to discuss—later." Lois reached up and pulled his head down to hers, capturing his lips softly. Clark reached over and pulled her on to his lap. Lois settled in his embrace, laid her head against his chest, and wrapped her arms around him. They stayed like that for some time, content to simply be together.