By Gerry Anklewicz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: October 2005
Summary: While Lois and Clark investigate a murder, they team up with a police officer who has an interesting history.
The usual disclaimer: This is a fanfic based on the television show, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm borrowing these characters for a little fun and not for any profit.
This fic takes place not long after Lois and Clark get married, but the New Krypton arc never happened in this universe.
I'd like to thank my beta-readers, ML Thompson for her keen eye for story-telling and pacing, Jude Williams and Carol Malo for their nitpicking of all the small details that help make me a better writer. My thanks also to a great GE, Sherry.
Algonquin Park, Ontario
Jeremy Hamilton paused for a moment. He wiped his brow and removed his jacket. Even though it was very cold out and he could see frost starting to settle on the ground, digging had made him hot. He took another moment to look over the lake at the moving patterns of light that curtained the black sky. He had heard of the aurora borealis, but he'd never seen it before this night. He promised himself to bring his sons to see nature's spectacular light show.
He listened carefully. All he heard were the peaceful night sounds of the country: a chirping cricket, a flutter of wings, a breath of wind whispering through the trees, the lapping of the lake water against the shore.
But he couldn't allow himself to dwell on the magnificence of nature. He had to keep digging a little deeper to bury his package before he and it were found. Jeremy knew he was being followed; he just didn't know who or where the hunter was. He kept digging until he heard the clang of metal against solid rock. He tried two more shovelfuls, but once again, he hit the ungiving Canadian Shield. He bent down, placed the package in the ground, shook his head in disgust, got up and began shovelling dirt over it. When the hole was filled, he patted down the mound of earth and brought the ubiquitous leaves and twigs to camouflage his work. He noted and memorized the formation of trees and rocks, but he hoped nobody would ever find the package again. It was more trouble than it was worth. Damn his brother. Why did he always manage to get himself in trouble?
He picked up the shovel, his jacket, his bottle of water and walked toward the lake, a hundred and fifty yards away. Once again, he looked around and listened. He sensed he was alone. He walked out to the end of the dock that no one had removed from the lake. They would have to do it soon, before the lake froze over, but he decided not to bemoan his good fortune. He stood on the end of the dock and with the shovel in his right hand, he began to swing it overhead—not quite a shotput, but the training was good enough for his purpose tonight. With one loud grunt, he heaved the shovel far into the lake. He watched as it sank leaving only large concentric circles moving away from the centre. When the ripples died down, Jeremy stood a little longer and watched the peaceful lake and the dancing lights to the north of him. He then picked up his jacket which he had left on the sand and jogged the two miles back to his car.
By the time he'd reached the rented vehicle, he was breathing hard and sweating more than he had earlier. He leaned against the driver's side and waited until his breath subsided to a normal rate. He was in good shape, but he had also exerted himself too much. It was all right now. He'd go back home and forget about…
The sounds had changed. Slowly, he turned around one hundred and eighty degrees until he saw a large shadow coming towards him. He stepped away from the car and began running in the opposite direction he had come from. He heard the footsteps of the shadow growing louder and speeding up. He ran. Not quite sure where he was going, Jeremy sensed rather than saw an opening in the brush that hugged the road. He turned sharply and ran down the dirt path, but the road was uneven and he stumbled several times. Even after the road ended he kept running, tripping over underbrush but getting up and continuing. He jogged left and then right, trying to get away from the shadow before it overtook him. He hoped that he would find somewhere to hide. In the morning, he would get his bearings, find the car and head home.
He heard the shadow before he felt the blow to his head.
Metropolis, New Troy
Clark Kent stood at the kitchen counter chopping carrots for the stew he was preparing.
"It's a good thing that you learned how to use one of those slow cooker things, Clark," Lois shouted from the living room where she was dusting the bookshelves. "It would be a shame if you didn't know how to use it considering we got two of them as wedding gifts."
"No problem, Lois. All I had to do was read the instruction booklet and follow the recipe. And you don't have to shout, I can hear you perfectly."
"I forgot," she said, her voice quieter. "When we're this domestic I don't think of you as being 'super,' and it's so natural to raise my voice when you're in another room. I'll learn eventually." Lois had moved from the living room into the doorway of the kitchen as she was speaking. She liked to watch her husband work in the kitchen of their new home. He seemed so much more at ease in that room than she ever would be.
She moved toward his back and put her arms around his waist. "You are so good at this cooking stuff. I think that's the real reason I married you."
"Oh, I thought it was my country boy charms." He turned around to kiss her, but in mid-motion, he stopped.
Clark was quiet for a few seconds. Lois recognized what she called his listening stance. He kissed her quickly and stepped away. "Neighbour's radio. Earthquake in a remote province in China. It sounds pretty bad."
"Then you better go." She motioned with her fingers for him to do his "spin thing". In less than a second, Superman stood in front of her.
"I'll be back as soon as I can. Just add the carrots and some soup stock and turn the knob on the cooker to low. Put the lid on and don't touch it until I come back."
Four hours later, Lois lifted the lid on the slow cooker and stirred the ingredients in the pot. The vegetables and the beef looked pretty much the same, and then she remembered that she was supposed to add some soup stock. She wasn't quite sure where to find that. She looked in the fridge, but she didn't see it there. On a whim, she looked in the freezer. Martha had filled the freezer as a going back to work present for the newlywed couple, but there was nothing labelled as stock. That left the pantry. Cans of soup? She checked the labels wondering if consomme was the same as soup stock. Deciding to be brave, she opened a can and filled a measuring cup with the clear liquid, but it looked like more than some. She dumped half the stock into the sink and the rest into the slow cooker. She mixed the ingredients thoroughly, surprised at how little liquid was absorbed into the food. She covered the pot, and because she was hungry, she made herself a cheese sandwich.
After another four hours, Lois turned off the TV. Superman was still busy in China. The earthquake had caused major destruction in a fairly large village leaving too many homes demolished with their owners buried deep underneath the rubble. LNN was reporting that Superman had been zeroing in on areas where he could hear survivors and either help dig them out or instruct rescue workers where to dig. Reports were coming back about the many lives Superman was saving.
Lois went into the kitchen and looked at the stew in the slow cooker. Where were the enticing aromas that Clark managed to elicit when he was cooking? There was no aroma; there was no colour. The stew was still raw. She couldn't understand it. She checked the knob which was set at low, exactly as Clark had told her. The lid was on. She had put some liquid in the pot and stirred. Then she saw her problem. The plug was not in the socket. Simple. She plugged the cooker in, poured herself a glass of wine and returned to the TV to see what LNN was reporting on the earthquake.
When Clark returned, ten hours later, he was tired, dirty and excited. Sniffing the air, he wandered into the kitchen. The slow cooker was on Low, but when he lifted the lid, the ingredients were dried out and burned around the edges. Not enough soup stock, he thought with a smile.
He approached Lois who had fallen asleep on the couch watching the news. He kissed her gently on the forehead. "Definitely didn't fall in love with you for your abilities in the kitchen," he whispered.
Dr. David Morrow sped down the isolated concession road heading back towards town and the calm of his apartment. It had been a long night sitting up with Alice Kelly until she finally gave birth to her fourth child, a strapping nine pound boy. He would have preferred taking her to the hospital in town, but she refused adamantly, saying that she had given birth to her first three boys at home and she would do the same for her fourth. It wasn't her fault that Shawna Steeles, the midwife, had decided to go to her son's wedding in Toronto.
On his drive home, when David had seen the calm lake and swirling lights of the aurora borealis beckoning to him, he decided not to drive on, but to pull over. It was three in the morning. He didn't have anything more important to do, and he knew he was too pumped up to sleep after such an exciting night. Delivering babies and drinking lots of coffee did that to him. He parked the car. On a whim, he took out a beach towel that he kept in the trunk and took it to the flat rock beside the lake. He sat down to watch the lights.
He wasn't sure what had originally brought him to this summer town in Central Ontario, what kept him here: the lakes, the tall pines and the dancing lights…and the beautiful police sergeant. He sat down on the rock and watched the water undulate against the pebbly shore, and saw the muted greens, reds and purple flicker across the night sky. In the distance, other rocks jutted over the lake, the background silhouetted by the tall pines whose spicy aroma filtered by his nose like freshly perked coffee. Except for the occasional bird, the only sounds were the gentle wind and the lapping of the water.
Deciding to ignore the brisk fall weather, he gave into the urge to strip off his clothes and, with a yelp, he ran into the cold lake. Swimming with strong, sure strokes to the buoy, he touched it, then turned around and headed back to shore. He waded back to the rock where he had left the large beach towel to wrap around himself.
"Cold…cold…cold," he muttered and allowed himself to shiver, but the towel was doing its job and he huddled inside just watching nature at its most quiet. He scanned the peaceful panorama. In the distance, on top of one of the outcrops, a very large bird was taking flight. But as he strained his eyes, he realized that it wasn't a bird, it was a person, a woman who stretched her arms out at her sides, leapt up and then began the most graceful dive he had ever seen. Mesmerized, he watched the swirling lights accentuate her exquisite form as she brought her arms over her head and she plunged into the water. He looked for her, but he couldn't see her; instead, he only heard a muffled sound as if someone was vigorously stroking the water. Within seconds, the sound disappeared only to return again. He looked into the lake, trying to find some movement so that he could ascertain that she was fine. And then he saw the splash of a swimmer moving quickly toward the shore, turn around and head back to the other side of the lake outside his view. Was that her? It couldn't be. Not even an Olympic swimmer could move that quickly. But the streaks in the water kept returning, and as if transfixed, David could not move his eyes. Finally, the figure floated out of the water until it reached the peak of the outcrop where she set herself down. Incongruously, David thought, she picked up something, floated in the air, shook out her long hair, and covered herself.
"Wow," he said out loud. And the figure disappeared.
David sat back and tried to figure out what he saw. Was she an apparition? He'd heard the story the children told of Farmer Meyerson coming back from the dead to make sure that his wife never used his old barn. Maybe she was the stork celebrating the safe delivery of Baby Boy Kelly. Or maybe she was an angel trying out a human pastime? An angel, that was a nice thought.
"That's right, Morrow, now they'll all know you've completely gone 'round the bend," he said.
The voice was a whisper, a feathery, silky, erotic whisper.
He turned to look at the owner of the angelic voice.
"Don't turn around," the voice ordered, never changing its pitch.
"I'd like to see you," David said.
"How did you know I was here?"
"I heard you."
"Oh!" That surprised David. He didn't think he had spoken that loudly. "Who are you?"
"Yours or mine?"
David sensed her move towards him, stand behind him. He stood up, keeping his back to her, afraid that if he turned around, she would disappear and leave him with so many questions. She took another step closer to him, putting her hands on his shoulders. He could feel her heat through the damp towel covering him.
"You're wet," she whispered. A shiver ran up David's spine.
Suddenly, he felt the towel dry and warm up. She had a magic touch; she really was an angel.
"I don't understand…" he mumbled.
"There's nothing to understand. When you wake, this will all have been a dream. You decide what kind of a dream you want."
"This isn't right," he protested as felt her hand glide over his shoulders and her lips place a feather- light kiss on the back of his neck.
"I can leave." She pulled back a step.
"No. Don't go." He paused a moment, reaching back to hold her hand. David knew he should tell her to leave, but what did he think was going to happen here? He wanted her to touch him, to continue pressing her lips on the back of his neck. He couldn't understand the frissons of heat running through his body. But he wanted to know her, understand her, even if she was dream.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Sometimes, it's better not to ask, better not to talk," she said. Her sultry voice made him shiver. "Look, the lights are fading. The show is over for tonight."
"Don't go." David heard the pleading in his voice. He couldn't let her go.
She placed her hand on his face and stepped around to look at him. He strained to see her, but her long, damp hair and the night's shadows created a veil that hid her from him. She placed her other hand on his cheek, gently pulling his face toward her. He allowed her to draw nearer, her lips coming closer to his. The kiss was tentative at first, two lips meeting for the first time, touching, withdrawing and touching again. He felt his heart beat faster as he, this time, kissed her demanding more than just a gentle encounter. He sought her hungrily, passionately and he breathed a sigh of relief when her tongue met his ready to explore new territory.
He didn't understand what was happening to them, but he felt a craving, a longing for this woman, whether real or not, that he had never experienced before. He knew in his heart that the love he wanted in a relationship wasn't there, he didn't expect it to be. And he, who had never condoned sex without love, felt a summons from this corporeal apparition that reached into the centre of his being drawing him to her. Even if he had wanted to move away from her, he couldn't have. While his mouth and hands touched her, his legs felt the same as the immovable Canadian Shield beneath him.
And so they stood there, beside the lapping lake under a moonless sky, the dancing lights having faded, sharing kisses and touches first slowly, then more frantically as they revealed new parts of their bodies to each other. He long ago had dropped the towel that had warmed him, for he no longer needed the outside warmth. She had undone the belt to her long robe which he then removed from her shoulders and let fall on the ground. They stood there facing each other. He couldn't believe that a woman could be so magnificent, that her satiny skin could give off a radiance that made him crave just for a touch of her.
She took his hand, leading him to a grassy patch not far from the rocky lakefront, and kneeling down on the grass, pulled him to her. He obeyed. In the darkness, they joined together, the only sounds their husky moans of satisfaction, their cries of pleasure, the laughter of delight.
When they were sated, she lay in his arms as he stroked her dry hair and planted random kisses on the top of her head. Heedless of the hard rock beneath him, he dozed off for a short while and when he awoke, she was beginning to rise.
"Where are you going?" he asked, not wanting to let her go.
"It's almost morning. I have to."
"No, please stay. Just a little longer."
"I can't. I'll turn into a pumpkin if I stay any longer." She bent over and placed a final kiss on his lips. "Good night, Prince Charming," she said and streaked into the sky.
"Who are you?" David whispered as he watched her silhouette disappear in the cold predawn air, and he shivered.
He reluctantly got up, dressed in the clothes he had so carelessly removed so long ago, picked up his towel and found the cloth belt of her robe lying on the ground. "Cinderella's glass slipper," he said to the air around him. He brought it to his nose; it smelled of her freshness.
He got into the car heading for town, wondering if he would ever find his Cinderella and return her belt.
Knowing he wouldn't be able to sleep, he drove into the local donut shop for a cup of coffee and a muffin. It wasn't worth going home to sleep at 5:30 in the morning.
"Mornin', Doc," said Sheila Johnson. "You're up early, this morning."
"No, Sheila, I haven't been to bed yet. Alice Kelly had her fourth son early this morning."
"Well then, Doc, the coffee's on me. What else will ya have?"
"A blueberry muffin looks good and filling."
"Sure thing. They're fresh outta the oven."
Sheila poured the coffee and placed a muffin in a bag.
David turned when he heard the door open. "Hey, Anna, how come you're in so early this morning?" he asked his part-time boss.
"Sheila, quick, a coffee for Anna before she bites all our heads off and gives us all parking tickets."
David was blessed with an infamous Anna scowl. He put his hands in front of him, palms outwards showing that he was backing off. The last thing he wanted this morning was to face Anna when she was in a nasty mood. He didn't want anything to ruin his afterglow. Picking up his coffee and muffin, he headed out the door toward his clinic.
"Son, tell us again how you found this spaceship," said Jonathan Kent as he stood with his wife, son and daughter-in-law in the barn staring at a spaceship that was similar in size and shape to the one he had found thirty years earlier.
"I was flying in concentric circles outward from the epicentre of the earthquake looking and listening for signs of life, for anyone who needed help. I often do that during a disaster. Sometimes, someone gets trapped further away from where most of the damage occurred. I hadn't seen or heard anything for a few minutes, so I was thinking about heading back to speak to the rescue workers.
"For some reason, probably like when you hear your own name spoken by people far away, something caught my attention. The greyish, metallic hues seemed incongruous in the brown earth, like high tech in the middle of a rocky wilderness. When I flew in closer, I recognized the shape and then the etchings which were the same as the glyphs I had seen on my own spaceship. At first, I tried to figure out what my spaceship was doing in central China, but as I got closer, I realized that it wasn't the same. It didn't have the S-shield on it. Otherwise, you can see for yourselves, it's exactly the same."
Lois brushed her hand over the writing on the ship. "Do you have any idea of what it says?"
"No." He put his hand on Lois's and squeezed gently. They turned simultaneously and looked each other in the eyes.
"What does it mean?"
Martha's question snapped him back to the object of their discussion. "That I wasn't the only one who came here. I might not be the only one."
"Maybe there's some clue inside like the globe Clark found on his own spaceship," Jonathan suggested.
Clark stood staring at the miniature-sized capsule a few seconds longer. Everyone else stood by silently, waiting patiently for Clark to unveil some clue that he wasn't alone in this world.
His hands lovingly examined the spaceships surface, searching every inch carefully for a latch or a handle that would open the hood. He remembered that his proximity to his own capsule had opened it. Nothing was budging.
"Mom. Dad. Do either of you remember how my capsule opened?"
"No dear," Martha said. "It was open when we first saw it and there you were, so beautiful, wrapped in your blue blanket…"
"Martha! Not now, dear."
Clark ignored his parents, once more running his hand over the hood of the capsule. He looked at Lois hopefully; she nodded to him. As his fingers felt the smooth surface, it went over a small, almost imperceptible gap. He pressed gently around the gap, and slowly, he heard a pop of air.
He stepped back and watched as the hood lifted.
"Oh my goodness," Martha gasped as she moved closer.
Lois, grasping Clark's hand, moved closer to her husband.
As Clark stood and stared at the opened space capsule, Martha broke the silence. "You'd think we would have known if there was someone else like you out there."
"Maybe not," said Clark as he stared inside the ship. "It looks like this person didn't make it." He touched the fragile blanket that covered the skeletal remains of what must have once been a baby.
"He wasn't as lucky as I was."
Martha and Jonathan stepped forward to put their arms around their son.
"Instead of becoming a life raft, the ship became a coffin," Martha said. "Poor child. Probably never knew what happened."
The family stood around the small ship, each mourning the child who never had a chance to live.
Lois was the first to move, searching the ship for some kind of a clue to what happened. "Is there something like the globe here?"
Clark used his x-ray vision to scan the inside of the cradle. "No. Nothing." His voice was barely a whisper.
Once again the Kent family stood staring at what could have been, looking for answers to questions that wouldn't be available to them, which had been buried and would have to remain buried.
"What are you going to do with this now?" asked Jonathan. "Do you want me to help you bury it?"
"No. Maybe there's still more to learn," Clark said looking at Lois.
"Dr. Klein?" asked Lois as if she was reading Clark's mind.
"He'd be able to give us more information about the remains. At least he'd be able to tell us if the baby had Kryptonian DNA, maybe how the baby died, and how long it's been on Earth."
"Clark, if you take this to Dr. Klein and he finds out that this baby arrived here thirty years ago, he may put two and two together and realize that you've been on Earth much longer than he's suspected," Martha said.
"That's right, Clark. Dr. Klein is a very bright man," his father added.
"I know. Dad, Mom. Lois and I have talked about letting Dr. Klein know who I am, and it may be something he'll need to know. I…" he took Lois's hand, "…we trust him."
"He's a scientist son…"
Clark heard the old fear in his father's voice. 'He'll dissect you like a frog.' "Dad, there's nothing to worry about. Dr. Klein knows a lot about Superman and only does what I ask him. He's never let me down before."
Jonathan nodded his head. "If you trust him, son, then I do, too."
Once Clark and Jonathan had put the coverings back on the tiny spaceship, Clark cradled it gently and took off into the sky. Within a half an hour, he returned.
"I've left it with Doc Klein. He says that it will take time to run tests on it. I'll get in touch with him to find the results."
Metropolis, New Troy A Week Later
Clark spun out of his Superman suit and entered the Daily Planet. Glancing around the bullpen, he spotted Lois in the conference room with a woman who was in tears. Lois caught his eye and motioned for him to come into the conference room.
"Clark, this is Shelley Hamilton. She's a college friend of mine," she explained as soon as Clark closed the door.
"Ms Hamilton." Clark held out his hand, but Shelley was too distraught to notice.
"Shelley came to see me because her husband's been missing for a week, and she doesn't know what to make of it."
"Did she go to the police?"
"She went to Missing Persons. They took the pertinent information, but they keep on hinting that maybe he took off with another woman and he doesn't want to be found."
"Why would they think that?"
"Because he packed to go away for the week-end, and he hasn't come back."
"Would you mind going over your story for me one more time?" Clark asked.
Shelley Hamilton glanced over at Lois and then at Clark. "If it will help finding Jeremy, I don't mind. It's just so frustrating."
Lois patted her friend's hand and nodded. "Go ahead. I'll take notes while you tell us."
"Jeremy packed up a bag with a few overnight items and said that he'd be back in a couple of days. He occasionally had to go out of town for a few nights on business, but he had more time to prepare than he did this time. The other major difference was that he only packed pyjamas, underwear and toothbrush, toothpaste, things like that. He wore jeans, a plaid flannel shirt and a lightweight ski jacket. Usually when he goes on business, even overnight, he wears a business suit and takes a couple of extra shirts."
"What does Jeremy do for a living?" Clark asked.
"He's an accountant." Shelley waited for a moment to see if Clark wanted any additional information related to Jeremy's work, but when she saw that he wasn't asking anything, she continued. "He told me that he'd be back in a few days, and that he'd call me if he could. He never called, and he never came back."
"When did you start to get worried?"
"He left on Thursday night. On Monday, our son, Matthew, had an important basketball game and Jeremy promised to be there at the game. Jeremy always made it to games and recitals and plays for the kids. If he couldn't make it, he usually phoned to let us know what was happening. He didn't this time."
"So what did you do?"
"I phoned Denise, his secretary, and asked if she knew how to contact him. She said that she didn't. He had let her know on Thursday that he wouldn't be at work on Friday and that he'd be back on Monday. She didn't have a clue where he went. She thought he was having a long week-end at home because he'd put in all those extra hours a few weeks back for an important client."
"Who was the client?"
"I don't know. Jeremy didn't talk about the specifics of his job with me. He wanted to forget about work when he came home."
"Was anything bothering him? Were you fighting or anything?"
"No. We get along really well." Shelley stilled. Then tears began flowing down her cheeks. It was the first time that she had broken down in front of the two reporters. "The police," Shelley hiccoughed, "also wanted to know if we were fighting or if we had a bad marriage." She dug in her purse and pulled out a tissue. "You have to believe me. We're happy. We love each other. There is nothing wrong with the marriage. Sometimes we disagree with the way one of us handles a situation with the children or about some financial issue, but we generally don't have major fights."
"Was anything upsetting Jeremy before he disappeared?" Lois asked.
"Nothing unusual. His brother was calling more often than he had in the past, but he tended to do that when he got one of his harebrained ideas into his head." Shelley fiddled with her purse. "Jeremy did seem to get annoyed…no, not annoyed…agitated after he spoke to Emil."
"Emil? Emil Hamilton?" Lois and Clark both asked at the same time.
"Do you know Emil?"
"We came into contact with Emil years ago when he was cloning gangsters."
"Not one of his finest hours," said Shelley.
"Not one of mine, either," replied Clark, looking regretfully at Lois.
"We dealt with that a long time ago, honey," she said as she squeezed his hand. "Who knows what Emil is up to these days? Where can we get in touch with him?"
"It won't help. He's in Met General. He had a stroke and right now he can't speak or move his left side. The doctors say there's a good chance that he'll recover his speech, but it may take several months."
"Why do I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that this involves Emil?" asked Clark.
"We'll do what we can, Shelley, but we can't promise anything," offered Lois.
"Meanwhile keep reminding the police and keep in touch with us. If we find anything out, we'll let you know."
Algonquin Park, Ontario One Month Later
Loon's Road, a paved two lane road ended and forked in three different directions, each dirt road, whose tracks had been carved by years of summer vacationers heading toward cabins and cottages, led to Loon Lake. In the summer months, the lake, surrounded by tall pine trees, was a busy place with children splashing and screaming in the water, motor-boats dragging athletic water-skiers, wind-surfers skimming the lake and the occasional fisherman hoping for a bite in the early morning hours. Once the summer season ended, the boats were pulled in and the docks were taken apart until the following spring. The lake froze over and the paths leading from Loon's Road were abandoned to the falling leaves and then the accumulating snow.
Sergeant Anna McLaren of the Ontario Provincial Police drove up to the fork in Loon's Road and found the rusty Honda Civic sitting exactly where Shawna Steeles had told her it would be. Shawna had reported that she had seen the car when she drove out to the Bryson place over the course of the month. Nancy Bryson was pregnant and due to give birth. When she mentioned the Honda to Luke Bryson, he agreed that the car hadn't moved in a month, but he didn't think too much of it. Neither Shawna nor Luke had any idea who the car belonged to or how long the car had been sitting there.
When Anna reached the car, it was covered in browned maple leaves that had fallen and then been plastered down by the first snowfall. She took out the Polaroid camera from her car and began to snap pictures. She then put on a pair of surgical gloves, methodically cleared away the debris and opened the driver's side. The car wasn't locked. Surprisingly, the key was still in the ignition. The gas tank was three-quarters full and there was no indication that there was anything wrong with the oil. She started up the engine. No problem. The car ran smoothly.
Anna took Polaroids of the interior of the car which had personal items— a toothbrush, toothpaste, a pair of men's pyjamas size large, a razor— scattered on the front seat, but no suitcase, backpack or even a plastic grocery bag. As she continued to search, she found a few gas receipts and a mixture of Canadian and American coins that had fallen between the cushions of the seat .
According to Shawna, the car hadn't moved in at least four weeks. Anna called Hank Jenkins to tow the car to the OPP's back lot for the time being. While she waited for Hank to appear, she bagged the contents of the car, then walked around the car to write down the license plate number.
However, there were no plates on the car, either on the front or the back. She peered closely at the front. No discoloration or evidence that a license plate was ever on the front. That meant that the car was out of province since Ontario cars carried plates on both the front and the back of the car.
The back area of the car had evidence of wear and rust where there had once been a license plate. Anna brushed away the snow from the bumper and found a bolt. She held the lone bolt in her hand, tossing it lightly in the air. If there was one, there must be more. She looked around the snow covered ground, then bent down sweeping away the accumulated layers of snow. More nuts and bolts. She figured the plate had been taken after the car had been abandonned.
Well, even if there were no plates, there should be a registration number. The glove compartment was empty. Not even the ubiquitous owner's manual was there. To her frustration, the registration number etched in the car had been filed away. Nothing.
Back in her office, Anna decided that, for once, doing the paper work might help her figure out what the story behind the abandonned Civic was. But first, she told her assistant, Pete Byford, to check with the auto theft database if any cars were reported missing in the area.
Organizing the facts and evidence as she knew it, along with the Polaroids she had taken, was like shovelling snow in a blizzard, as soon as one patch was cleared up it was covered in snow again. Anna was sure that whoever abandonned the car didn't want its owner to be found. No plates, no registration number, no ownership papers.
She stared at the bags on her desk. Crest toothpaste, Gillette shaving cream, a Bic razor, Head and Shoulders shampoo. The guy she was looking for had dandruff…or according to the commercials, no longer had dandruff. She smirked at the ridiculousness of her observation.
But something drew her to the items…something not right. She flattened the bag of coins on her desk and, keeping the money in the bag, began to separate the American from the Canadian coins. "Damn those pennies," she said aloud.
Anna leaned back, replaiting her single, dark brown braid and letting it fall down to the middle of her back. She kept staring at the toothpaste. "That's it! There's no French." She stood up and went to the door of her office.
"Pete," she called.
"Expand your search for missing vehicles into the States."
"The driver was American," she said lifting the bag of toothpaste in front of his eyes.
"No French on the packaging…on anything."
Pete smiled at his superior. "I'll expand that search immediately."
Anna returned to her desk, picking up the coins and shaking them up. She wondered how much it mattered that the driver may have been American. Probably complicated everything more.
"Boss," the familiar voice of David Morrow interrupted her thoughts which, she thought weren't going anywhere in particular.
"Dr. Morrow, I'm not your boss. How many times do I have to tell you? You're an independent contractor hired by the police department."
"And you hired me, Boss."
"No. I didn't. The province of Ontario did."
"Represented by you" Ignoring her sneer, he sat down on the chair facing her desk. "And in this envelope I have…" He drummed his fingers on the desk, a poor imitation of a drum roll. "…Jesse Sherman's death certificate." He placed the envelope on her desk.
"Heart attack, right?"
"I'm wounded. You didn't have to slave over the medical books, hours of interning, residency…"
"The whole town knew that Jesse was a walking time-bomb, a heart attack waiting to happen."
"And your point is?"
Tired of the silly bantering, Anna waved the envelope at David. "You didn't have to bring this over personally. You could have sent it over with your receptionist."
"I needed a break, and I was hoping that you'd come out for dinner with me. Swiss Chalet is offering a Toblerone chocolate bar with a quarter chicken dinner for only $6.95."
Just as Anna was going to remind him that she had told him at least a dozen times that she wouldn't go out on a date with him, David said, "It's not a date. It's business."
"What kind of business?"
"Maybe I can help you figure out who the Honda Civic belongs to."
As they sat in a quiet corner of the busy Swiss Chalet restaurant, Anna couldn't figure out how David always managed to insinuate himself into her life rather than take the hint that she didn't want to date him. Hint! There was no hint. She had told him directly, more than once, that she wasn't interested in dating, so he came up with all different kinds of lame plans, ones she couldn't resist, to spend time with her. Talking about the Honda Civic was one of them. She'd reminded him of his purpose a few times already, but he had been avoiding the issue, using the time instead to talk about everything and nothing. Now they were ordering coffee, and he still hadn't mentioned the car.
"Morrow, do you know anything about the Civic or is this your slimy way of using this meal as a tax write-off?"
"Anna, I'm wounded that you'd even think that way. If I wanted to write off this meal, I would've talked to you about all the plaque I found in Jesse Sherman's arteries."
"Do you know anything about the Civic? Have you seen it before?"
"Then what kind of games are you playing?"
"I'm not playing games. I have some ideas that I thought I'd share with you."
"Such as have you thought of checking through Wrecks For Lease."
"No one reported that car missing, right?"
"Well, then maybe an individual didn't lose his car, but then maybe because the body was in such lousy condition, maybe he got it from a Wreck For Lease…"
"So that he could dump it?"
"That's where I'm having problems. I can't figure out why he dumped it here, in the middle of nowhere…"
"And took off with the plates? So all I need to do is check out the Wrecks For Lease places…"
"You know, we do work well together."
Anna rolled her eyes. "You haven't helped me out that much. I've got Pete looking into car rental agencies."
"Well then, maybe you should stop using these stupid work excuses as a reason to spend time with me. After all, Anna, I wouldn't be completely adverse to taking you out on a proper date. You know. We dress up, go somewhere nice. I tell you you're handsome, and you say I'm beautiful. Things like that."
"What's your point?"
"Go out with me."
"I told you, I don't date."
"That makes no sense at all. You're single, you're beautiful…now don't make that face…and you're smart. I'm single, a professional and my mother says that I'm good-looking."
"David, I'm not interested." She took out her wallet and threw some money on the table. "That should cover my half."
"You know there's something between us," he said to her back. Anna stopped for a nanosecond, then stood taller and headed out the door.
He leaned back in his seat. There was something between them, he knew it and he knew that she knew it. He'd never met such a desirable woman before, and it wasn't just because she didn't want to have anything to do with him. He'd wear away at her slowly and hope that no competition would show up.
As he waited for the credit card receipt, his mind drifted, as it often had over the past month, to his Cinderella he'd met so many nights ago. It was interesting how time put things in perspective and, at the same time thwarted reality. Time had told him what he'd only suspected then: he'd been dreaming, well, except for the belt that he kept in his night table. The moment he had had with Cinderella was just that—a moment, an early morning fantasy surrounding him in a heavenly aura. He didn't want her back. He wanted Anna. If only…Sighing, he signed the receipt and followed her out of the restaurant.
Metropolis, New Troy
When Clark returned to their Hyperion Avenue home, Lois was at her desk talking on the phone. He was surprised to hear her speaking soothingly. She waved him over, and as he perched himself at the edge of her desk, he listened as she placated the caller. How unlike his Lois, who had no patience for most people and who had one of the most abrupt telephone personas he'd ever encountered.
It didn't take him long to figure out why her tone was so understated. She was talking to Shelley Hamilton, who was doing everything to maintain her own calm and keep her family going. He glanced at the calendar on his wife's desk. Three months had passed since Jeremy Hamilton had gone missing. Lois and Clark had turned over every possible stone without finding anything that would help. Clark still believed that the answer lay locked inside Emil Hamilton who had been moved to a nursing home. The doctors said that his speech would probably never return. At this point, he was disoriented and only made sounds that didn't seem to have any logical meaning.
Lois clasped Clark's hand as she promised for the hundredth time that she would let Shelley know if she heard any news. As she hung up the phone, Clark signalled her to follow him to the couch in the living room. He wrapped his arms around her allowing her to snuggle into him as he soothed her.
"It's awful, Clark. How can she carry on?"
"She's got two young children. She has no choice."
"If you disappeared like that I'd shut down completely."
"So would I." He brought her closer to him, placing light kisses in her hair. He wasn't so sure that Lois would shut down. Knowing his wife, she'd probably move heaven and earth to find out what had happened to him. But he knew that this wasn't about Lois and him, it was about Lois empathizing with Shelley.
They sat in silence for a short time just feeling better that they could be in each other's arms.
"Bernie's finished all the tests," Clark finally said.
"He did? Why didn't you say something sooner?" Lois sat up straight, looking her husband in the eye.
"I thought you needed me to hold you for a while…and I think that I needed it, too."
"I did. We did. But now I want to hear what he had to say."
"Well, first of all, the remains belonged to an infant girl. Kryptonian."
"You weren't the only one who landed on earth!"
"So it seems. He also said that the baby wasn't related to me. DNA didn't match."
"What else did he say?"
"The space ship has been on earth for approximately thirty years…"
"The same length of time that you've been here…"
"And it's made out of the same material as my space ship." Clark got up and began to pace.
"Clark? Maybe you weren't supposed to be alone all those years. Maybe she was supposed to be with you?"
Clark stared at Lois. "It would've been nice to have someone like me while I was growing up, but I believe that you are my soul mate. No one else could take your place."
"But you've lost someone here."
"Maybe a sister. Maybe a friend. I did lose someone I never knew I had to lose." He sat beside Lois again, and this time she held him in her arms, trying to make up for this impalpable loss. "For a moment, I wasn't the only one here, and now, once again, I'm the only Kryptonian on earth."
Lois pulled him closer to her, settling light kisses on his head. "Which makes you even more special since you've traveled" a long way to be with me." She turned his face towards her. Looking intently into his eyes, she moved her lips toward his.
Their lips touched tenderly. She brushed her tongue over his lips until he opened his mouth. Surrounded by his scent and taste, she became enveloped in his kiss, letting him linger for a while.
As they kissed, Lois tried to show her love that she would never let him be alone again. And she thought about the baby whose parents tried to save her.
"Did you ever think of doing a search for someone who would be like you?" Lois asked.
"I tried, but the kind of information that I had wasn't helpful. Would he have been adopted or are there other ways a child could be hidden in a family? Would he even be the same age as me? I was around three months old when my parents found me. What if the child was older? I found the space ship in China. It could have landed anywhere in the world. A ship could've landed in the ocean and sunk. I even looked in newspapers to see if there was a light phenomena such as the one in Smallville when my space ship crashed to the ground. Nothing."
Lois shrugged her shoulders. "Let's keep looking. Maybe there's some chance."
Anna McLaren stood over the remains, scanning the area around her. This looked like the big case she'd always hoped for, but the decomposed body in front of her reminded her of the old saying: be careful what you wish for.
"Call Doc Morrow," she said to Pete Byford. "Tell him we've got a body that needs a post mortem."
She then turned to Luke Bryson. "Tell me again how you found the body."
"Like I said, I was comin' over to the summer camp. I do this every May. I clean up the outside, rake the leaves, pull weeds, you know, and when the weather gets warm enough, I put in the docks. I was comin' over behind their dining hall to pick up some tools I left in the shed when I tripped over this bump on the path. It was all covered in leaves and twigs. I looked down at it, and I saw that hand. Then I took this here shovel and scraped some of the coverin' off and I saw the head. That's when I called your office."
"Do you usually clean up after the camp is shut down?"
"When did you do that?"
"Do you remember the date?"
"Nope. Just that it was right after Thanksgivin' cuz the counsellors come up for the week-end and after that I shut down. I don' like waitin' long after that cuz the frost can warp the dock."
"Anybody been up here between shut down and today?"
"Not that I know of. Maybe a hunter or somethin'. I could see if anyone was in any of the buildin's."
"Go ahead and do that, but if you see something different, don't touch anything. Call one of us."
Anna watched Luke stride off toward the camp buildings. This was a summer camp for kids. Why would there be a body buried under a pile of leaves and twigs? Someone didn't have time to dig a grave or didn't care to.
"Damn," she said to no one in particular.
Within a half an hour, David Morrow had driven up in the town hearse. Working in tandem with the police, he prepared to move the body to the morgue. As he worked, he made off-handed observations to Anna.
"There's been decay here which means that he was here before the cold weather really set in."
"Can you give me a date?"
He smiled impishly at her. "Are you asking me for a change?"
"Come on, Morrow. You know what I mean."
"If you want an approximate date, I'd say before the middle of November, but you'd have to check a calendar for the first frost and the last warm day. I can't tell from looking how many days he was decomposing."
David scraped away the covering of leaves and twigs from the body, trying to loosen ones that had stuck to the decomposing flesh. "Come here. Look at this," he said to Anna. As she crouched down beside him, her foot slipped on a wet leaf, and she teetered to the side. He reached out, placing his hand on her elbow to brake her fall. As he held onto her, ensuring that she was maintaining her balance, he noticed her eyes avoiding his.
"I'm all right," she said shrugging his hand off her elbow.
He stared at her a moment longer and then turned his attention back to the body in front of them. "Look," he said. "There's an indentation at the back of his skull. He may have been hit with something. I'll need to get the body back to the morgue before I can let you know more."
Metropolis, New Troy
Clark shut down the computer and joined Lois in the living room.
"Anything?" she asked.
He shrugged his shoulders. "There really isn't too much information. Basically, I've been looking for someone in the US who was adopted around May 1966." He shrugged again. "And then that really isn't enough because the baby, if it even existed, could have been older or younger, or not even adopted. Look how obscure my papers are."
"So look for unaccounted super saves."
"I'm not sure that will help. My early saves went unreported."
"Thanks, honey." Clark moved closer to Lois, enfolding her in his arms. "I have to admit that I believe that the only other spaceship that landed was the one I found in China. I can't understand why someone who also has the same, or even some of the same powers, wouldn't have contacted Superman once he appeared. It's been four years now."
"If it were me, I'd be curious to meet the person who was related to me. You're probably right, but I think that you have to turn over every stone before you give up."
"You actually want me to obsess about something?"
"Sometimes, my love, obsession pays off."
"Like my obsession for you?"
"Exactly." She reached up and brought his face toward hers, luxuriating in the softness of his kiss.
The ringing of the phone separated them. Lois reluctantly got up from the couch, heading toward the phone. "It must be Jimmy."
Laughing, Clark reached for his wife's hand as she picked up the receiver.
Lois's end of the conversation was a series of single word replies and a final, "I'll go with you."
"That was Shelley Hamilton," she explained to Clark. "Missing Persons called her, saying that a body of a man who fits Jeremy's description was found in Canada. They're not sure if it's him, but she wants to go up and see what they have. I told Shelley I'd go with her."
"Do you want me to come along? I mean, if it's Jeremy, then Shelley might need more help…"
Lois thought for a minute. "No. Don't come up with us. I'll call if I need you and you can…" She made a wave motion with her hand indicating their signal for flying.
"Are you sure?"
"I think that Shelley needs a friend and not a reporter right now. The trip will give us a chance to talk."
"All right. When do you plan to leave?'
'As soon as possible. Shelley's making arrangements for her kids."
"I'll let Perry know. You go pack."
Early the next morning, Lois and Shelley, each carrying an overnight bag, walked into the local provincial police station. The officer at the front desk escorted them to a small office and offered them coffee after telling them that Sergeant McLaren was expected back soon.
Lois sat beside Shelley, holding her hand. It had been a while since they had spoken. Lois let Shelley sit with her grief, not sure if she wanted Jeremy's body to be the one that they found or not. She wondered which she would choose: to know definitely that her husband was dead, or to live for months with hope that he could still be alive somewhere. It wasn't an easy choice.
Lois looked around the room. It resembled many other police offices that she had seen. In the center of the small room, there was a desk with a computer. One comfortable chair rested behind the desk while two other chairs flanked the other side. Along one wall was a credenza piled with an assortment of papers and folders. Two filing cabinets were on the opposite wall. A Canadian flag hung limply in one corner. Several pictures were hanging on the wall: a group picture of officers in uniform, some newspaper stories framed with pictures of an attractive woman, about her age, wearing a police uniform. Lois assumed that was McLaren. Another wall held three citations for acts of bravery and two university degrees.
Lois leaned over and picked up a photograph from the desk. Unlike the ones on the wall, this one was a group shot of a family, the middle-aged parents flanked by their adult children. One female in the group stood out. Unlike the other members of the group who either had light brown or blonde hair, the woman had dark brown, almost black, hair that cascaded past her shoulders. Her olive complexion contrasted with the fair-skinned family.
Lois looked up and saw the same woman, this time wearing the uniform of the Ontario Provincial Police, her hair neatly controlled in a single French braid, walk forward, extending her hand to Lois.
"Anna McLaren," she said.
"Lois Lane, Daily Planet," Lois said, returning McLaren's no nonsense handshake. "This is Shelley Hamilton."
Shelley looked up and reached for McLaren's hand.
"I guess you want to know what we found, Mrs. Hamilton," McLaren said, not wasting any time.
McLaren sat down next to Shelley. She ignored Lois, focussing completely on the woman beside her. "The body of a man, Caucasian, six feet tall, approximately 200 pounds was found near the Loon Lake Road last week," she said, in a hushed voice. "The man, according to the coroner, has been dead since the middle of October of last year. He was hit on the back of the head by what appears to be a shovel. This blow to the head killed him. The coroner believes that the impact was so hard that death was instantaneous. There is no evidence that the body was moved so we're assuming that he was killed there."
While McLaren was speaking, Shelley sat rigidly, a few tears flowing from her eyes. The police officer handed her a tissue and then got up to pour her a glass of water. She waited a few seconds as Shelley sipped the drink.
"We're not sure that this is your husband, Mrs. Hamilton. Identification of the body isn't going to be easy." McLaren paused looking at Shelley and Lois. "It's been out in the open for seven months so it doesn't look like…" McLaren paused when Shelley inhaled. "Look, Mrs. Hamilton, I'm sorry but there's no easy way to say this." She looked over at Shelley who nodded understanding. "It's next to impossible to recognize the body as anyone. We're going to have to look at the clothes that he was wearing or DNA…"
"Do I have to look at the b…at it?" Shelley asked in a tiny voice.
"Not yet. Maybe not at all."
"Can we get to the point here, Sergeant?" Lois interrupted. "Is there something that you have to go on or are you just…"
"No, Ms Lane. First of all, even though generally the body fits the description sent out by the Metropolis Police, it may not be him. So there are also some questions that I have to ask." She turned away from Lois. "Why would Mr. Hamilton be up here?"
Shelley looked at McLaren incredulously and shrugged her shoulders. "I…I…have no idea."
"Has he ever been in this area before?"
"Yes, a few times. The last time was a few years ago. We came up to Loon Lake Lodge for a week. We were talking about sending the boys up here to summer camp."
"Did your husband talk to you about visiting this area?"
"We talked about taking another holiday here."
"Because we liked the countryside, the peacefulness. It was so unlike the rush in Metropolis. Jeremy felt like he could slow down. He even wanted to buy a cottage on a lake here, but I didn't want to. It was too far from home, too isolated."
"Did he have a specific cottage in mind?"
"No. He just wanted to be on one of the lakes."
McLaren paused as Shelley Hamilton wiped her tears, then she reached into her desk drawer and brought out an evidence bag. She placed it in front of Shelley.
"Do you recognize these?" she asked, her voice softer, more sympathetic than before.
Shelley gasped. Then the tears flowed unchecked. She attempted to get words out, but she only choked out incomprehensible sounds.
Lois, who had been standing at the side, approached Shelley and put her arms around her friend. The reality of Jeremy Hamilton's murder and Shelley's loss were visible in front of her, in the form of the evidence bag containing a man's watch and a wedding band.
Lois heard McLaren quietly leave the office. In a way, she wished that the police officer hadn't because she wasn't sure how she could help her friend. So she just sat there and held her hand as Shelley's tears rolled down her cheeks.
Later, when the first onrush of tears had slowed down, Shelley whispered hoarsely, "What am I supposed to do now?"
"I'm not sure. Let me go check." She left Shelley's side, heading toward the door. "Or do you want me to stay?"
"No. Go find out. Please."
"You'll be all right alone?"
Lois left the office and found Sergeant McLaren talking to another officer. When she saw Lois, she came toward her.
"Shelley wants to know what she's supposed to do now."
"We're not going to ask her to identify the body, but we'd like to do some DNA tests just to be sure it's him. Either some hair follicles from a hair brush or a blood sample from one of the children…"
"She brought his hair brush just in case you needed it." Lois handed McLaren a baggie with the brush in it.
"We'll also need to keep the body here until we're sure, but Mrs. Hamilton can start making arrangements for the remains with our local undertaker." She handed Lois a business card. "There is also some paperwork that needs to be done."
She called a civilian worker over and quietly instructed the woman to make Mrs. Hamilton another cup of coffee and to help her fill in the forms.
"Sylvie, put a temporary flag on the file with Jeremy Hamilton's name, and take this hair brush to the lab."
Lois turned back towards McLaren's office.
"Ms. Lane," McLaren said, placing her hand on Lois's shoulder, "before you go I'd like to talk to you."
"Are you here with Mrs. Hamilton as a friend or a reporter?"
Lois searched McLaren's face to find the right answer to the question, but all she met was the police officer's neutral gaze.
"I'm Shelley's friend, but I'm also a reporter. I don't see that one excludes the other."
"I'd like to ask you not to report on what has gone here, at least not right now."
"There're too many unanswered questions. If information becomes public, it may hamper the investigation."
"But Jeremy Hamilton was murdered…"
"Ms. Lane, we're not even sure it is Jeremy Hamilton…not until we've done some more testing."
Lois heard the polite veneer in McLaren's voice leave as the woman slowed her speech and emphasized her words.
"But there's a story here."
"Probably. But there are too many unanswered questions. If your suspicions become public, it may hamper my investigation."
"What I do in Metropolis, where this story probably originates, has nothing to do with you here."
"It has everything to do with what we're doing here. I assume that you'd like to find out what happened to Hamilton and if there has been any wrong doing, the perpetrator found and convicted."
Even though McLaren was only a few inches taller than Lois, her solid frame made Lois feel as if the police officer loomed over her.
"Then once again, Ms. Lane, I'm asking you not to print anything."
"Are you going to be releasing the victim's name?"
"The official statement will be that a body was found on Loon Lake. There will be an investigation into the death. At this point, the story shouldn't be newsworthy in Metropolis."
"And if I write what we know at this time?"
"Then I'll make sure that you aren't privy to any more information."
"Shelley could fill me in on the details."
"She could if she knew any, but at this point she knows all that she has to. Anything else is a courtesy."
"Sergeant, I have a job to do and that's to report the truth, not to cover it up."
"Do you always print everything, or do you keep some of the so- called truth covered up?"
"My editor and I decide what's newsworthy and what isn't."
"And I'm sure you know things that you don't even tell your editor." McLaren's eyes seared through Lois in a way that made her heart skip a beat. "This isn't a cover up," McLaren said quietly. "This is a police investigation. Don't get in the way, or I'll arrest you for obstruction of justice."
"Haven't you heard of the First Amendment? Of freedom of the press? You can't shut me out of this story."
"This is Canada. We don't have a First Amendment." McLaren turned abruptly and walked toward one of the other officers, dismissing Lois as she did.
"You're bristling, Lois," Clark said as he shifted the receiver to his other ear.
"Bristling? What does that mean? You're in Metropolis. I'm 500 miles away in Nowheresville. How do you know I'm bristling?"
"Because I know you."
"Do you have a new power like supertelescopic vision?"
"No, honey." He chuckled amazed that her sense of the ridiculous was heightened when she came across a situation that set the hairs on her beautiful, long neck off in some direction. "I can hear it in your voice, the pauses, the way you described your talk with the police officer."
"She made me so angry," Lois said, a bit petulantly.
"What she said made sense…well, for a cop it did. Henderson would have said the same thing."
"I know that. It's just…" She paused. "It's just that she was so condescending. No. that's not right. I just got the feeling that she knows something I don't, and she's not going to tell me. I don't think I like her."
"About Jeremy's murder? Do you think she knows why he was up there?"
"I don't know. There's this air about her that she's laughing at me, and that I'll never be let in on the joke. Like when she said there's no First Amendment. There has to be. Canada is a democracy."
"Technically, Lois, freedom of the press is ensconced in their Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is no First Amendment."
"Why that…She knew exactly what I meant." She lowered her voice. "Clark, I miss you."
"I miss you too, honey. The bed's so empty without you."
"I can be there in two minutes if you want."
"I want, but don't come. I'm sharing the room with Shelley…and as much as I need you, I think she needs me more."
"How's she doing?"
"As well as can be expected. Dealing with the details has given her something to focus on rather than her grief. She hasn't told the kids yet."
"How long can she keep quiet?"
"We're flying back to Metropolis in the morning. She'll tell them when they confirm it's Jeremy's body." She sniffled.
"Lois, honey, are you all right?"
"Yeah. It's just that sometimes I can't stop imagining how I'd feel if it were me, and you were missing, or even worse…Clark, I couldn't survive without you."
"It's not me. That can't happen. Don't worry about the impossible."
"In my head I know you're right. It's my heart." She sniffled again and took a deep breath. "I'm fine. I'll see you tomorrow around noon. I'll come directly to the Planet."
"I love you, Lois."
"I love you, too, Clark."
Each held onto the phone for a moment longer, listening to the other breathe. Then, they each hung up.
"I miss you," she said. She traced the outline of his face with her finger, lingering over his neatly trimmed beard.
"I hear you finishing my sentences. Our plans. Your laughter." She touched his lips. "We laughed so well together. Especially when our plans fell into place." Her fingers caressed his cheek and outlined his brown eyes.
"Soon we'll laugh together. This plan will work. We've had a little set back. Soon we'll be back together again."
She raised the picture frame and placed her lips on the cold glass.
"The trail leads to Metropolis," Anna explained to her superior, Inspector Joe DeSantos, who was absently flipping through the file she had placed on his desk. "DNA evidence confirms that the victim was Jeremy Hamilton, a resident of Metropolis, New Troy."
"So we'll turn the investigation over to the Metropolis police and you can get back to your normal duties."
"No sir, I was hoping I could follow up in Metropolis. I have a few leads. His brother…"
"Sorry Sergeant, it doesn't work that way." DeSantos stood up and handed the file over to Anna.
"But sir, this is a murder investigation, a murder that took place in our jurisdiction."
"I know, but it's no longer in our jurisdiction."
"Then let me connect with the MPD, go down there and…"
"Make the connection by phoning down…"
"Inspector, I really want to follow this through. It's important to my career that I have a challenging homicide investigation under my belt."
"Is that why you want to go?"
"Yes. No. I want to follow through with this. It's personal."
"You're not listening, Sergeant. You can't go to Metropolis." De Santos walked around his desk. "If you think that we need someone down there, I'll tell Dr. Morrow to contact the MPD."
"Morrow? Why him?"
"He's in Metropolis anyway —for that forensic seminar. He can be the liaison."
"But sir, he's a doctor, not a police officer. I don't think he'll know what to do."
"According to this file," he said pointing to the file in Anna's hands, "he has had input in this case."
"Yes, but that was medical input."
"Look Anna," he said, his voice softening, "We simply can't afford to send you. I realize it's an important case for you, and I want it solved just as much as you do…"
"But there's no money for this."
"The cutbacks have made it impossible for me to subsidize this kind of expenditure."
"You sound like a bureaucrat now."
"Whether I like it or not, I am a bureaucrat…and you're whining."
Anna hung her head like a child being scolded. She was quiet for few seconds, then raised her head defiantly. "I think I'll take some of my vacation time and fly down to Metropolis."
"Nice place to visit. And while you're there, you can drop in on an old buddy of mine, Bill Henderson."
Metropolis, New Troy
Anna heard the sonic boom as she entered the cab at Metropolis airport. She shielded her eyes from the sun and watched the caped hero fly across the sky.
"Pretty amazing, isn't he?" the cab driver said.
"Yes," she answered following the superhero as he wended his way over the city.
"You must be new in town."
Anna grumbled in response.
"I can tell. I get a kick out of newcomers watching Superman. They're the ones staring up at the sky open-mouthed." Not hearing any response from his passenger, he continued. "We're immune to it. We know he's here."
"I don't think that I could ever become immune to that," she said as she turned her attention to the cab driver. He was in his mid- fifties, speaking with what sounded like an eastern European accent.
"He saved me once back when he first came to Metropolis," the man continued. "I was making a run to Suicide Slum, not a very good area, but the fare gave me a big tip, up front, so I took it…and him. After I let him out, I drove a few blocks and all of a sudden there was these punks in front of me…I had no choice. Slammed on my brakes. I rolled up the windows quick, but not before one grabbed the door handle…I couldn't drive…Then a gun appeared. I thought it was the end of my life. In my mind, I started saying good-bye to my wife and my kids…and just then, he was there, in front of me…and the punks, they just ran off. They knew what he could do to them."
"So, he's a deterrent…"
"No, it's more than that. When I was saying good-bye to my family, I swore I would do more for the community, to make Metropolis a better place. Sounds corny, no?"
"Not really," Anna said politely.
"Well, I did do something. Now, I volunteer at an inner city school. I coach soccer. I give back."
"So, Superman rescuing you made you into a soccer coach?"
"Think about it. He doesn't get paid for what he does. He just does it. Whenever someone needs help, he's there."
"Probably not always…but he gives us hope. He shows what can be done if you care. He shows one person can make a difference." The cabby looked in the mirror. "Look, with all the powers that Superman has, he could probably take over the world, get really rich, and turn us into his slaves." He turned his attention back to the road. "But he doesn't. He doesn't ask for anything."
"But he gets money from endorsements and royalties from action figures and t-shirts."
"Sure, the money goes to the Superman Foundation. That money goes straight to charity. I don't think he gets any of it." The driver pulled the cab over to the curb. "You see, miss, Superman gives us much more than we give him. Metropolis and the world are better places to live because of him. That's the bottom line." He lifted the meter's handle. "This is it, miss. We're here."
"Thank you," Anna said, handing him payment for the ride. "You've given me much more than a ride."
Anna pulled her duffel bag out of the cab and headed toward the reception desk.
David Morrow nursed his scotch on the rocks in the hotel bar while watching the comings and goings in the front lobby. The forensics course was interesting, but what really peaked his interest was his talks with Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
They were beginning to make inroads on the Jeremy Hamilton murder. He had spent the previous evening sharing information with the reporting team.
Lois Lane had told him about Emil Hamilton and his cloning experiments. The scientist was hoping to see if there was a way he could genetically change criminal behaviour, to make it more socially aware. In order to do this, he used technology to clone gangsters and bring them back. But before he was able to start his experiments, the clones returned to their natural criminal behaviour: robbing banks, stealing cars, attempting to bribe officials, and killing people who got in their way.
"In the end," Lois had said, "Superman stopped them."
"With Lois's help," Clark added.
"What happened to Hamilton's experiment?" David had asked.
"Nothing. He destroyed it and that was that," Lois added, taking Clark's hand and squeezing it.
David noted that something private passed between the husband and wife team, but he didn't feel comfortable pursuing it. Instead, he had asked what the connection between Jeremy's murder and Emil was.
"That's harder to explain because here we're going on instinct."
"You have to realize, though," Clark had added, "that Lois's instincts are 99% right on."
Lois smiled at Clark's comment. "According to Shelley Hamilton, Emil had been phoning his brother almost daily a few weeks before his stroke. Jeremy was agitated after he spoke to his brother, mumbling about his harebrained schemes getting him in more trouble than any scientific discovery was worth. Although Emil was older, Jeremy seemed to be the pragmatic one, the one who kept his older brother grounded, so to speak. After Emil's stroke, Jeremy had visited his brother's office. When he got there, it had been ransacked."
"It made sense to us," Clark had continued, "that Emil was the link. So we followed up on his clones. When we last saw them, they were in prison again for the crimes they committed their second time around. They're still there now."
"We checked Hamilton's visitors and phone calls. The lab he works for now keeps a record of visitors. The name that kept coming up was a Vic Newbury."
David stared at his empty glass. Tomorrow he was meeting with Bill Henderson of the MPD who was going to apprise him of what he had found out about Vic Newbury. Would they find a connection with Emil Hamilton and then with Jeremy? It could be a long shot.
He debated ordering another scotch when he looked out into the lobby. Now he knew that his mind was playing tricks on him. If he didn't know any better, he'd think that Anna McLaren was standing at the reception desk in the lobby.
The woman drove him crazy. He had moved to Huntsville to get away from a relationship he felt was getting out of hand. The last thing he had wanted was another relationship, especially with a strong-willed, opinionated, stubborn woman, but somehow just being around her, watching her graceful movements, her compassionate handling of people in trouble, her problem solving, he felt himself falling uncontrollably under her spell.
To no avail, he thought. She wasn't interested in him, and yet he couldn't explain the palpable attraction that suffused his body. He knew that she felt it too. As much as she tried to hide her interest, he knew that the sarcastic gruffness he heard in her voice and the controlled body language were forced, an act she put on just for him, to scare him away. Or so he told himself.
He stared at the woman's back. So like her, he thought. The same height, the same strong shoulders, the same dark brown braid. And then she turned around…
David took a final sip of the melted ice cubes, placed the glass on the table and headed into the lobby.
Surprised to hear her name called, she spun around. David. She knew he was registered in the Metropolis Grand, but hearing his voice calling her name startled her. She straightened her shoulders, and cleared the surprise from her face.
"What are you doing here?"
"You? On vacation?" He stared in disbelief. "What are you really doing here?"
"Following up on the Hamilton murder."
"I'm doing that."
"Is that why you're in Metropolis?"
"No. I'm here for the forensic conference, but the Inspector suggested I check in with MPD."
"Well, you can go back to your conference, now. I'm here and can take over."
"Sorry, I'm not giving this up. You wanna work with me, you're welcome. If not, go vacation somewhere else."
David glared at Anna daring her to gainsay him. One part of her wanted to. Working with David was dangerous, affecting her core, an area that she wanted left in peace. The other part of her enjoyed the sparring, the interplay, the physical desire she worked so hard to keep hidden.
And yet, he might know something that would help her investigation. And she had to admit he had been more than helpful leading up to his trip to Metropolis. He'd spent more time than necessary on the autopsy. He'd helped her focus on the abandonned car. She raised her eyes from the room card in her hand. He was standing still, his eyes boring adamantly into her.
"I'll meet you in the restaurant for breakfast at 7:30," she said. She turned towards the elevator. "And don't smirk, Morrow."
Anna lay on the bed, her novel spread open across her chest. She had read the same sentence over and over without grasping its meaning, but after the second or third word her mind returned to David standing in the lobby.
She hadn't expected to see him…Who was she kidding? When she had asked Pete Byford to book her in a hotel, he had mentioned that he'd booked her in the same hotel as David, muttering something about it being nice that at least she'd know someone in the big city. She hadn't objected. Let's face it. It made sense…didn't it?
He looked good standing there with that look of utter surprise…a pleased surprise, she noted…on his face. Her first impulse was to rush up and kiss him the way she would an old friend or her brother, or her lover. But before she could move or say anything, common sense prevailed, thank goodness, and shook her back to reality. She'd meet him for breakfast. She'd be professional about the whole thing.
Luckily, her brains were working harder than her hormones. She couldn't understand why seeing him always set her heart beating loudly in her ears. No other man had ever been able to distract her from her goals, from the reality she lived with. Somehow, David Morrow had crept right in and insinuated himself in her mind whether she wanted him to or not.
Not in her mind, she reminded herself, in her hormones. Her brains turned to mush whenever he was around. The only part of her body that worked was her heart, and maybe, she admitted to herself, another part she wasn't willing to name. She also conceded that her defence against him was a veil of anger she put on whenever he was near. Easier to deal with him that way.
He turned her on. No man had ever done that. She'd been mildly attracted to some men in the past, but it was more intellectual. He'd be a nice guy or a good-looking one, and she'd go out on a date or two with him, but there was no magic, no chemistry. That was good. She didn't want either the magic or the chemistry, both of which would get her in deeper than she wanted.
But she had gotten in deeper than she had ever expected. And for the millionth time, she chastised herself for her stupidity that night at Loon Lake. She should just have taken off and ignored his voice and his shivering, naked body wrapped in that old towel. He would have decided that what he had seen was simply a mirage; instead, she had approached him, unashamedly seduced him, and made love…no, had sex…with him.
And that had made her angry because if he was so interested in her the way he said he was, how could he make l…have sex with a woman whom he didn't even think was real. Moreover, if he found out who that woman was, he'd be angrier than a grizzly bear.
But now, whenever she saw him, all she could think about was how he felt, his lips on hers, his hands touching her body. If she closed her eyes, she could feel him thrusting inside her until he peaked, and then she shuddered with her desire for him. She had hoped that if she had sex once with him, it would be enough to quench her curiosity; instead like taking a small sip of water on a hot day, she wanted more.
She tried to clear her mind. He had no right invading her thoughts this way. She knew she had to stop before she did something stupid.
She lifted the book from her chest, snapping it shut, then turned off the light. She wasn't going to allow Morrow to turn her to mush.
Lois saw Anna McLaren when she entered the lobby restaurant. Henderson had called the night before and had invited her and Clark to join Morrow and him the next morning to share information. She hadn't expected to see McLaren as well.
She looked different than she had in Huntsville, softer, more relaxed. Instead of the blue police uniform weighted down with a utility belt, she wore a light blue silk blouse with a pair of black cotton slacks and black sandals. She carried a black blazer on her arm. As she walked toward the table her facial expression kept changing: first she frowned, then nodded her head with a slight smile and finally startled, she stared. Lois followed the gaze and realized that she was looking straight at Clark. Lois slid her right hand under Clark's left one. In her mind she sent the signal to McLaren: Wedding band. He's taken and he's mine.
When McLaren reached the table, the men stood up. Morrow introduced her first to Henderson, who shook her hand and muttered something like, "Nice to meet you." Then Morrow introduced her to Clark. He also shook her hand, but they held on just a fraction of a second too long. Clark looked surprised by McLaren's intense scrutiny.
Morrow must have seen the connection that passed between Clark and McLaren because he abruptly sat down, gulped some coffee and started talking. "Yeah. Right. We're here to…uh…put together our information about Hamilton."
"Exactly," said Henderson. "Lane, you may be on the right track looking at Vic Newbury."
"I've been racking my brains trying to remember why I know that name. Give me a minute," Lois said.
"Wasn't he involved with the Churches?" Clark asked.
"Are you thinking of the guy who ran the Church vigilante group?" Lois asked.
"That's the one. He turned to petty crime and Superman discouraged him."
"Sounds like the right guy," said Henderson. "He spent a short time in jail and now he's on parole."
"Have you ever seen me kid, Lois?"
"It seems to me," McLaren said, "we need to connect Newbury to Jeremy Hamilton, or at least to place him in Huntsville at the time of the murder. Inspector?"
"I wonder if Newbury visited Hamilton when Jeremy was there?" Lois asked.
"Newbury visited Emil Hamilton several times in the hospital. We looked at his phone records as well. He had called Hamilton…" Henderson flipped open his notebook. "…frequently both at his home and in his office.'
"Do you have a picture of him, Inspector? Lois and I could visit the nursing home and his former office," Clark said. "Meanwhile, Inspector, you could check Newbury's phone records."
Lois didn't know exactly how it happened, but she and Anna McLaren were walking up the steps to the Renaissance Nursing Home. As they sat around the breakfast table earlier in the day, they had decided a visit to Emil would be the next move on their list. But Henderson had received a message calling him away to a more urgent case. Once they had decided to go to the nursing home in the morning, Morrow had to beg off, saying the day's seminars at the Forensic Conference were too important for him to miss. Lois had hoped that McLaren would have some excuse not to join her, and when she turned to look at her, she noticed McLaren staring off into space. Great, Lois thought, she had to deal with an air head.
But Lois's thoughts had been interrupted by Clark, who rose from the table saying he just remembered he had an appointment with a source, and if he didn't get there soon…And in very typical Clark style, he didn't end the sentence but rose from the table and headed for the door. Although his back was to her, in her mind's eye she could see him tugging at his tie. She smiled, not understanding how she hadn't seen through Clark's excuses in the past.
Unfortunately, she had realized she was left with McLaren. She glanced over at the woman whose eyes were following Clark out the door of the restaurant. She had better find some time when the two were together to let her know how unavailable Clark was.
Now, standing in front of the information desk at the Renaissance Nursing Home, an old Victorian mansion turned into a nursing home, Lois asked the receptionist about Emil Hamilton.
"He's on the second floor, east wing," she said. "I'm sure he'll be glad to see you since he hasn't had a lot of visitors lately. His sister-in-law and nephews haven't been here since his brother went missing. I read in the paper that he's dead. It's been hard for them."
"Has Professor Hamilton had any other visitors?" Anna asked taking advantage of the woman's willingness to prattle.
"He did for a while. There was this woman a few months ago. She never said her name or anything, just that she was a friend of the professor's.
"What did woman look like?" Lois asked.
The receptionist shrugged her shoulders. "Like a regular woman except her hair was awful. It was dyed. I can't understand why women want to dye their hair an unnatural colour. It looked bright orange to me. I suppose it was supposed to be auburn, but it was awful."
"Was it long or short?" Lois asked.
"Do you remember her height, weight, age? Anything like that," Anna added.
"Nothing out of the ordinary. She was about my height, five-four, heavier than me, looked around thirty or forty, but I'm not good with age."
"Did she wear a lot of make-up?"
"Yeah, it was plastered on like she was a clown. She had pale skin, but the make-up didn't cover the wrinkles or lines. I remember thinking that I'd like to take a cloth and wipe off all the blush. It was too much."
"You've got a good memory."
"I remember her because she looked so odd to me."
"Do you remember seeing this man?" Lois pulled out a picture of Newbury.
"Sure. He came with her a few times. You could tell she was boss. Kept giving him orders. He'd follow her up to Emil's room, and she'd be talking at him the whole time."
"Thank you for your help. Come, Lois. Let's visit Emil," Anna said, leading Lois down the hall.
Emil Hamilton sat in a high-backed chair staring at the wall in front of him. Lois tried getting his attention, touching his arm, waving her hands in front of his face. She even yelled at him, but Emil didn't move or blink. He kept staring at the wall.
Lois grumbled in frustration. "I don't know if I should hate this man for what he did or be thankful to him for the rest of my life."
"I don't understand," said Anna, looking at the small, grey man in front of her.
"It's a long story," Lois paused. She didn't like the way McLaren looked at Clark. Maybe using her story with Hamilton could let McLaren know, without any doubt, how taken Clark was.
Hamilton was still staring straight ahead, oblivious to the two women, mumbling incomprehensibly.
Lois, seeing that they weren't going to make sense of what Hamilton was saying, began her story. "Two years ago, old gangsters began appearing on the streets of Metropolis."
"Had they been released from prison?"
"No. Old, dead, gangsters. Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Dillinger…those kinds of gangsters."
"Really!" said Anna, her eyes wide open.
"They began to terrorize the city. Clark and I learned that Professor Hamilton here had been experimenting with cloning. He wanted to learn if resocializing criminals would change their behaviour. Before he could begin his experiments, the clones had run amok.
"While uncovering what happened, Clark and I followed them to a gambling den. There, Dillinger raised a gun at me, and Clark stepped in front of the bullet…which hit him in the chest." Lois hiccoughed. "He was dead, and at that moment, I realized that my best friend, the man I loved, was gone."
"But he didn't die."
"No. Not exactly." Lois realized that even though she knew the truth about what happened to Clark, she was telling the public story. "He was dead, but Superman got hold of Hamilton's notes and used them to resurrect Clark."
"Convenient," Anna muttered.
"What did you say?" asked Lois.
"Lucky that Superman was able to save him."
"More than lucky. In some ways, he saved my life as well. During those long hours when I thought Clark was dead, I thought I had nothing to live for. I had made the biggest mistake of my life not acknowledging to myself and to him that I loved him. I didn't realize the feelings I had for Clark, for my partner and best friend, were so strong because I loved him." Lois paused for a moment remembering those moments.
"So after he was resurrected you told him you loved him and you became a couple."
"Not exactly. Several months before, Clark had told me he loved me, but I was blinded by a lot of things, and didn't think I reciprocated his feelings."
"He told you first?"
"Yes, of course. Why?"
"Well…I…uh…I got the feeling he was… a… reticent guy, shy maybe."
"He's quiet, but he's not afraid of showing his feelings." This was Lois's opportunity to let Anna know exactly what the score was. "Once we were completely truthful with each other, Clark told me he had loved me from the moment we met, that his dream was to make a future with me." Lois glared directly at Anna. "We are very much in love, and nothing will change that."
"Clark was the one who wanted to get married?"
"Yes." Lois glared at McLaren. "Why would you ask that?"
McLaren paused. Lois thought she was at a loss for words. Did McLaren think Lois was unlovable, unmarriageable?
"It was a question coming from…uh…personal experience. I…uh…I thought men…uh…didn't want commitment."
"Not all men. I used to think the same until I met Clark. He made me believe that there are some men out there who want commitment, who want to attach their lives to another person. I'm lucky enough to have found one."
Once again, McLaren didn't say anything, as if she was mulling over all that Lois had told her.
"And so now it's happily ever after, living the perfect life…"
"It hasn't been smooth sailing if that's what you mean. We have our problems, our ups and downs, our disagreements. But we work at our relationship and it's good, very good." Lois turned on her heels. "There's nothing we can do here. Let's check out Hamilton's papers."
If there had been any clues in Hamilton's papers, they had vanished long ago, Lois and Anna had decided after having visited Hamilton's office and apartment. At least, with the receptionist's observations, they had more than a tentative connection between Newbury and Hamilton.
Anna had called her office and requested customs and immigration to find if Newbury had crossed the border around the same time as Jeremy Hamilton. If that connection could be made, then obtaining a search warrant became a likely possibility. The problem was that if the two men had crossed by automobile then only the license plates would have been registered, unless the customs officials found something suspicious with either of the men or cars. One problem was that they didn't have a license plate for what they believed was Jeremy's car.
Meanwhile, Anna had time to kill. She and Lois had parted company a half hour earlier. Lois had returned to the Daily Planet while Anna decided to spend some time exploring one of Metropolis's shopping districts. She was standing in front of a hair salon looking at a picture of a woman, her hair falling softly on her shoulders. What she wouldn't give for a professional hair-cut, for layers of hair instead of the monthly blunt zapping the ends her hair got. She shrugged her shoulders, feeling the weight of her braid running down her back.
On the other hand, she knew she shouldn't complain about her hair. In the end, it had given her a cloak to hide behind, a veil that David couldn't see through. At least she had had that one night with him.
At the time, she had believed it was only one night, that there was no future for them, but maybe she was wrong. If Clark could find a woman who could accept him, then perhaps David would consider her…until he found out.
The conversation with Lois had been strange; they'd spoken at cross purposes. Lois had interpreted Anna's interest in Clark as a romantic one rather than the more clinical interest in learning what made him tick, how he functioned as two different people. Instead of her words becoming a warning against moving in on Clark, her words gave Anna a glimmer of a hope that a semblance of normalcy was a possibility.
Anna was fascinated by Clark Kent because he didn't keep his skills and talents hidden, as she had for so many years. She remembered clearly the day she learned about Superman. It had been four years earlier. She'd been on a training exercise for a number of days, having no communication with the rest of the world. When she got home, her mother's voice on the answering machine told her to get a newspaper, check the news and call her back…immediately.
She had done as she was told, and when she opened the newspaper, she saw the picture of the good-looking man wearing the red, blue and yellow costume. She quickly scanned the Lois Lane article that had been picked up by most English language newspapers. What struck Anna was that this Superman had all the same talents as she had. He called them powers. He had enhanced hearing and vision, extraordinary strength, invulnerability and he could fly…just like her.
Following her mother's orders, she had called home. Her mother was excited. Anna wasn't alone in the world. There was someone just like her. She had to contact him. He could answer her questions, explain what she didn't know. Anna had promised her mother she would find him, but in the end she'd procrastinated.
At first, she had decided to find out more about him, so she kept reading the newspapers to get as much information as she could. Within a few weeks, she learned that he was from a planet called Krypton. She had looked at herself in the mirror. Could an alien look and feel as human as she did?
She had always believed that she was human, some kind of human experiment gone awry. How or why she wasn't sure. She, along with her parents, worried that if someone found out about her, they would take her away from the only family she knew. So, together, they had decided to keep her developing talents a secret. They had decided if she needed to tell someone, one of her brothers was always available, but, in the end, she didn't want to burden any of them. Being a sister to four brothers was difference enough.
As far as Superman was concerned, she had to learn more about him before she admitted they were the same. Most first-hand reporting about the new superhero, as he was called, came from Metropolis. She began reading the Daily Planet on a regular basis and became familiar with the names Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Those two seemed to get most of the more substantial interviews with Superman.
Anna also wondered if this Superman was really like her. She didn't walk around in a flashy costume saving people. She always used her talents in a natural and unobtrusive way. She was satisfied being a tad faster or stronger.
Four years had passed since she'd learned about the existence of Superman, and in that time, she'd never tried to contact him. She'd figured out, by trial and error, that Superman was a disguise for Clark Kent, the reporter at the Daily Planet. On reading the Lois Lane and Clark Kent exclusives in the paper, she decided to do a background check on the reporting team. The broad strokes of Clark Kent's life paralleled her own. Age, adopted, athletic, bright. Too coincidental. Then she looked for pictures of Clark Kent. There weren't too many available until the Planet started advertising the Hottest Team in Town with a large, one- page spread of Lois Lane and Clark Kent. At the time she thought that it was a stupid move on the paper's part, giving faces to its top investigating team, but it became possible for her to place a picture of Superman beside Clark Kent's. There was no doubt in her mind afterwards.
Once she knew who he was, she thought about meeting him, but what would she say? Hey! I'm Kryptonian, too. No. She wasn't even sure she was Kryptonian. All she knew was she could do what he could, and they shared the same talents. And anyway, she was too busy. Up until now. She had actually met Clark Kent and they were in the same city. Now she had no excuse. Yes, she would tell him who she was…as soon as she found the right time.
Meanwhile, she had a case to solve, Jeremy Hamilton's murderer to find. The clues, at the moment were circumstantial, but she could use the time to follow up on one of the leads. Vic Newbury.
After leaving Anna, Lois returned to the Daily Planet where she found Clark sitting at his desk typing up his notes. She quickly filled him in on her morning with Anna McLaren.
"Is Anna McLaren still getting on your nerves?"
"Sort of?" Clark asked, raising his eyebrow.
"I think I let her know that you're off limits, but sometimes, there're things she says or looks she gives me that send shivers up my spine."
"Shivers? Like she scares you?"
"More like Twilight Zone shivers where she knows something I should, but I don't."
"I could talk to her. Maybe I can get a handle on what bugs you."
"Just remember to let her know that you're mine."
Clark put his arm around his wife and planted a soft kiss on her lips. "Absolutely and forever yours," he said. "By the way, Henderson called. The other phone number calling Emil belongs to a Marcy Turcovic. He says she's a personal assistant at TAL Inc."
"Never heard of it."
"Neither have I. Henderson is looking into it and so is Jimmy. But we do have an address for TAL Inc."
"I think I'll find this Marcy Turcovic," she said to her husband. "I'll follow her, see where she goes, get a sense of who she is."
"Good plan. Do you need any help?"
"I know how to get hold of you if I do," she said taking her cell phone out of her purse.
With time on her hands and little patience for shopping, Anna found Newbury's address in the phone book and, with a map of the city in her hand, headed in his direction. Within a short time, she stood across the street from a small brick house in an older working class neighbourhood. Her eyes swept the house. No one was home. She wasn't sure what she was looking for, but she felt confident that when she found it, she'd know.
The interior of the house was sparsely decorated, if decorated was the right word. A sofa with a mismatched easy chair, a TV set and a boom box, a small kitchen table with three chairs, a bed, a dresser and a night table. Not much furniture but every piece covered in clothes, papers or half- empty take-out containers. She zoomed into each room. The stove was greasy, the fridge empty except for some basic condiments, a few bottles of beer and soda. Dirty dishes, a frying pan and several pots lay piled on the counters. Obviously, the man didn't bother cleaning up. The cupboards under the sink were cluttered with bags, garbage and cleaners…never used she noticed.
Anna refocussed on the outside. No one seemed to be around, but just in case she looked suspicious, she bent down and massaged her ankle. If someone came by, they'd assume she was exercising and had strained something. In the crouching position, she examined the other rooms. Newbury's home was a mess, but unless she wanted to sift through the pile of clothes and other of his belongings which were strewn all over the bedroom floor, she wasn't going to find anything. Anna was disappointed that her search, so far, had come up with nothing.
As she got up and stretched her arms and legs, a Jeep drove into Newbury's driveway. A good- looking man, about thirty, sandy- haired, six feet tall, got out of the vehicle. He picked up the mail, unlocked the door and went in the house, locking the door behind him. After he checked the mail, he aimed it at a table, but only a few envelopes made it to their destination. The rest fluttered to the floor. He went into the kitchen, took a bottle of beer, and headed for the bedroom. Chugging some beer, he slipped off his shoes and then placed the bottle on the night table. Use a coaster, Anna thought. Then she laughed at herself. Too little, too late.
Newbury took off his trousers and began unbuttoning his shirt. Standing in his briefs, he walked to the shower, turned it on and began to lower his briefs.
"That's more than I want to see," Anna whispered, shaking her head. It was time to leave. As she headed away from the house, she decided to take one quick look at the Jeep. It was an older model, red, rusty in spots, a few dents on the sides. She peered into the back where there were two grungy gym bags. Clearly sticking out of one bag was a license plate: New Troy 324 AXY. She memorized the number. In the same bag as the license plate, she saw a shovel. Zooming in on the shovel, she saw traces of mud, leaves and grass.
Anna had to find a way to legally get hold of the license plate and shovel without tainting the evidence. Not wanting to stand out in full view, Anna walked down to the donut shop on the corner. After ordering a coffee, she sat beside the window keeping an eye on Newbury's house. She might be wrong in her assumptions, but if she wasn't then the evidence which could further their case was sitting in the back of the vehicle and she had to get it.
The sun had set by the time Newbury walked out of his front door. He jumped into his Jeep and headed past the donut shop where Anna had already consumed several cups of coffee.
She left her seat and walked out the door as soon as she saw Newbury leave his house. Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she started walking in the same direction as the car was headed. She picked up her pace.
She wasn't quite sure what she hoped to achieve, but she knew that following Newbury on foot was not a good idea, even though she could travel as fast if not faster than he could. There were no cabs around to hail, but she had an idea how to get hold of the license plate and shovel legally, and that meant that she had to know where Newbury and his vehicle ended up. If only…
What the heck! she thought. This is Metropolis and no one even notices. Searching the area, Anna found a mini-park bordered by a cluster of trees. She walked to the trees, tucked her hair into the collar of the blazer then pulled it tightly around her neck so her light-coloured blouse wouldn't show. Then looking around making sure no one could see her, she leapt into the air.
Flying above the cloud line, she found the vehicle and followed it from above.
She just hoped that no one noticed her, or if they did, they'd think Superman was dressed in black rather than in his suit. The words of the Metropolis cabby when he had dropped her off at her hotel rang in her ears. The people of Metropolis were used to Superman in the skies so they wouldn't think to look up. That gave her the confidence to take off in the middle of the city.
And she had to admit, as she followed Newbury along the road, she liked the freedom to just take off anywhere, using her talents more freely.
The Jeep pulled into a parking lot. Newbury left the car and went into the building. Anna scanned the area. No one was around. She landed quietly, a short distance from the vehicle. Walking cautiously among the cars, she approached the Jeep and using her laser vision, quickly zapped the back tire enough to create a pinhole. She then leaned on the tire, letting enough air out to partially deflate it. Her next step was to make the spare unusable. She located it on the hatch at the back, zapped a larger hole in it and let it deflate completely. She walked away from the car and sat, inconspicuously, on a curb in the shadows waiting for Newbury to leave.
The seats in Sykes Bar and Grill were beginning to fill more quickly now, Lois observed, sitting in a booth just behind Marcy Turcovic who had consumed two martinis in the last hour. Lois had followed the woman earlier to the bar and was waiting to see who she was going to meet. She'd left a message with Clark telling him to meet her there. Now she also sat nursing a drink, keeping her wits about her, as she watched the orange-haired woman nervously checking the door and glancing at her watch.
Her hunch paid off when a man she recognized as Vic Newbury sat down beside Turcovic who was angrily pointing at her watch.
"You're late," Turcovic said. Lois had no trouble hearing her, but then Turcovic leaned toward Newbury and the two began to whisper. Even though the two were very animated, and no matter how much she strained, she couldn't overhear their conversation which lasted fifteen minutes. Where was Clark when she needed him?
When Newbury finally got up, he looked down at Turcovic and sarcastically said, "You're not asking a lot, are you?"
"Just do it," Turcovic said.
Lois debated whether to stay with Marcy Turcovic or follow Newbury out the door. She had given him orders to do something, so Lois decided following him was her best bet. She put money on the table and followed Newbury into the parking lot. As she unlocked her car door, watching Newbury approach a red Jeep, she was startled by a voice behind her.
"Do you have a cell phone on you?" Anna McLaren asked.
"What are you doing here?" Lois asked.
"Followed Newbury. I was waiting for him to come out." Anna hopped into the passenger side of Lois's silver Cherokee.
"Why the cell phone?"
"He's going to have a problem soon. Thought we'd let Bill Henderson know."
"You look like the cat who swallowed the canary."
"I checked out where Newbury lives and while I was there, he arrived home. I decided to follow him. That's how I got here. I looked over his car and he seems to have some tire problems."
Lois opened her eyes. "You know, McLaren, I might get to like you." "What were you doing here? Not following Newbury."
"Definitely. They had a meeting. Unfortunately, I wasn't in a good position to hear what they said."
"Clark's working on another story." Lois turned her head to see her passenger. That McLaren was definitely a strange one. Why would she bring up Clark just when Lois mentioned that she couldn't hear what Newbury and Turcovic were saying? Didn't she think Lois could do the work herself? Giving her the benefit of the doubt, Lois decided she had probably meant to change the subject…or she wanted to talk about Clark. Hadn't she gotten the hint yet?
"Slow down. He's pulling over to the side," Anna said. "Pull over and turn off your engine."
The two women watched as Newbury got out of his car and kicked the flat tire in frustration. Lois reached for her binoculars to get a closer look at Newbury while he opened up the hatch and threw out a few bags.
"He's looking for something," Lois said.
"Call Henderson," McLaren said.
"McLaren, you are really bad," Lois said spying the very flat spare. "How did you manage to do that?"
"Trade secret. Call Henderson and tell him to drive over here. There're some very interesting items on the side of the road." Anna pointed to the license plate sticking out of the gym bag.
The next day, David Morrow accompanied Inspector Henderson on a search of the TAL offices and warehouse, where Newbury and Turcovic were employed.
"Now remember," Bill Henderson instructed "you're here to observe. That means you, Lois. Don't touch anything. Kent, keep an eye on her. And McLaren, you don't have jurisdiction here. You're a visitor. You, too, Morrow."
David noticed that Lois was about to protest, probably something in the order that it was she who had found and reported the disabled vehicle on the road to Henderson. He and his men had arrived on the scene a few minutes after Lois placed the call. Anna had explained to David that, while a couple of uniform officers were helping Newbury get towing assistance, one of Henderson's men had spotted a New Troy license plate sitting in an open gym bag that Newbury had earlier taken out of the vehicle while looking for the jack. Henderson had casually asked Newbury if the bag belonged to him. When Newbury answered in the affirmative, Henderson went to check the license plate as well as the plate on Newbury's jeep. As per procedure, the officer called in the loose license plate which they learned belonged to a Paul Simmons .
Interestingly, Newbury's New Troy plate was owned by TAL Inc. Because they were trying to link Turcovic and Newbury to Jeremy Hamilton's murder, Anna had suggested she run the two plate numbers by Canada Immigration and Customs. She had found that the plates had passed the US- Canada border on October 6. Two days later, the New Troy license plate on the red Jeep had crossed the border back into the US. It was enough information for the police to obtain a search warrant for TAL Inc's warehouse and offices where Marcy Turcovic worked.
That was where they were standing now, Bill Henderson holding a search warrant in his hand for the office and warehouse. David, knowing that reporters and out of town guests didn't often join a police team searching the premises in a murder investigation, grinned when Henderson reminded Lois she was there to observe. He knew he would stay out of trouble, and he knew that Anna was professional enough not to contaminate evidence. The four observers followed Bill Henderson and some of his officers into the front section of the warehouse which housed several offices.
David leaned against the door jamb, leaving the search to the police. Henderson and two officers led the inspection team through the office, collecting papers and turning artifacts upside down. But in the end, all they were looking at was an expensively furnished office of a successful import/export business with little of any value for the police. David followed the officers deeper into the warehouse behind the office and once again, the police looked through boxes of expensive pottery, household furnishings, and paintings. Nothing that would explain a connection to the murder.
Lois and Clark followed the officers. Clark glanced around the room, often tipping his glasses. David thought about suggesting that Clark go to a competent optometrist to get a new pair of glasses.
Anna walked around the warehouse with her hands behind her back. She seemed to try to sweep over the room with her eyes, but, like the rest of them, didn't find anything helpful.
Lois Lane walked over to a far corner of the warehouse toward an elegant bookcase filled with books and more decorative artifacts. She asked, "Henderson, what's behind door number three?"
"Door number three? Where?"
"Here," Lois said, as she pulled at a hook on one side of the shelf.
To David's surprise, he saw the book shelves begin to move and revolve around. "Wow!" he said. "A real secret compartment."
"How did you know?" Henderson asked Lois who was nodding her head at Clark.
"A hunch that paid off. My father had the same set-up in his office when he worked for Max Mencken a number of years back."
When the book shelves had finally slid open, David followed the team into a cavernous room looking like a museum with large paintings hanging on the walls and objects d'art placed on pedestals around the room. The centre of the room was filled with crates and cardboard boxes, many with the word FRAGILE written across them. David wondered if the more expensive goods, or the illegal goods, were kept here.
While Henderson and his officers began to sift through some of the artifacts, Anna put on surgical gloves and headed to a corner where David could see leather-bound books. At the same time, Clark , walking toward one of the crates in the same area, placed his hand in front of Lois, stopping her. She was about to protest this restriction of her movements, but then she seemed to see his expression and raised an eyebrow questioningly. Almost immediately her expression changed to alarm as she stared at her husband. Without leaving his side, she began looking frantically around the room.
David was entranced by their ability to communicate by touch and facial expression.
Suddenly, Clark bent over, seizing his mid-section. He grimaced in pain. Lois nodded, put her arm around her husband and helped him out of the room. The whole charade took less than thirty seconds.
David was about to follow the couple, to see if he could help, when he heard a thud. He turned toward the noise: Anna lay on the ground, a vase overturned beside her. She clutched her stomach and groaned. David rushed over to her. He laid her flat on the floor.
"She all right?" Henderson asked, leaning over David who was taking Anna's pulse.
"Pulse is racing. She has a fever. Pain, but not localized."
"I'll call an ambulance."
"No," Anna whispered. "No…ambulance."
"I'll take you to emergency, to a hospital. They'll take care of you," David said. He used his training to keep his personal anxiety out of his voice.
"No," Anna growled. "No hospital." She winced.
"Anna, don't be stupid. You're sick and you've got a fever. You're shivering."
She grasped David's hand, leaned closer to him and whispered, "Please, David…no hospital." She closed her eyes and took a shallow breath, once again wincing at the pain. "No hospital. Aspirin. Fluids."
"Has this happened before?"
"No. I'll be fine. Just get me outta here. Please?" she pleaded.
Clark accepted Lois' help as she led him out of the hidden compartment toward the front of the building.
"Kryptonite?" she whispered in his ear.
He nodded his head. As they walked toward the front door, he stood up straighter. "I'm all right now."
He levitated off the ground a few inches, felt dizzy and stepped back onto the firm floor. He then pushed his glasses down to the tip of his nose, glaring over top. "They're just a bit woozy. Out of focus a bit, but I'm sure I'll be fine in a few minutes."
"Come outside. We'll walk around the front of the building and then go to the Jeep."
"Why do you think Kryptonite was there?"
"I don't know, but we'll have to get rid of it…"
"And find out what it was doing there."
Anna lay on the bed in her hotel room. She was thankful that David hadn't coerced her into going to a hospital. Instead, she lay on the bed in her bathrobe, a wet cloth on her forehead, a couple of extra-strength aspirin travelling uselessly through her system. She had no strength to argue when David made her swallow the two pills or when he undressed her…he was a doctor after all.
Her eyes were closed, but she could sense him sitting across from her in the arm chair. She had no idea how she was going to explain this to him, or to anyone else. She hoped that the excuse of some random bug that caught her off guard would be a sufficient answer.
She'd never been sick before, never felt pain or nausea before. It was all new to her. She wondered if it was that Kryptonite she'd read about in the newspaper. From what she had seen, she had never been sure whether Kryptonite really existed or if criminals wanted to believe that if they had it they could stop Superman. There was never any evidence he'd been affected by it. She tried to remember, but thinking was too hard. She just wanted to doze.
She shivered. Cold! It was a new sensation. She felt someone pull a blanket up around her chin.
"I'm here. How're you feeling?"
He sat on the edge of the bed. "Here. Take a drink of tea." She lifted herself up while he placed the cup along her lips. "Sip slowly. It's hot." She did as she was told. The sweet, hot tea felt good as she drank it.
"How're you feeling?"
"Better. Just tired. A bit achy."
"That's okay. Go back to sleep." David stood up, tucked the blankets around her shoulders, and placed a kiss on her forehead. "I'm going out for a while. I'll be back soon."
Anna closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift into sleep.
David sat in the cab, worried about Anna. First, the unexplained episode in the warehouse and then her uncompromising stance on going to the hospital scared him, partially because, even as a doctor, he didn't know what was wrong with her, and therefore didn't know how to help. And then, on top of everything else, when he had helped dress her for bed, he had fought to keep thinking of Anna as a patient and not as the beautiful woman he was in love with.
It rattled him more than he'd like to admit. Putting Anna's robe on her reminded him of that one night, it seemed so long ago now, where he had let passion override his reason. When he wrapped Anna into the robe, he felt guilty having made love to one woman while being in love with another. He knew it wasn't logical…but what about that night was rational? Even though his heart had made a commitment to Anna, he had never shared it with her, and she had made no promises to him. Far from it. She would have given him her cynical permission to have a meaningless fling with whoever flew into view. Nonetheless, he felt as if he had cheated on her.
"348 Hyperion Avenue, sir," the cab driver said.
David paid the driver and headed for the door. He was hoping that Clark Kent would be able to answer some of his questions.
It was Lois Lane who answered the door and ushered him into the living room.
"I know you said you wanted to see Clark when you phoned, but something came up and he had to step out for a few minutes. He should be back shortly. Did you get anything more at the warehouse after we left?"
"No. That's really why I wanted to talk to you…why you left."
Lois's eyes opened wide.
"We just wanted to check the perimeter."
"I don't think so. I saw…"
Just at that moment, Clark walked in carrying a grocery bag.
"Lois, I thought I'd pick up some cookies as well as the groceries so we could offer David something with his coffee," Clark said as he pulled out a bag of chocolate chip cookies.
"Coffee…right," Lois mumbled.
David watched her follow Clark into the kitchen. Her back was to him, but he could see that she was gesticulating, soundlessly, communicating with him much the same way as Clark had with her in the warehouse.
Clark rolled his eyes and made his way over to the couch. "How can I help you, David?" he asked.
"When we went into the secret compartment, just as you and Lois were crossing the threshold, you signaled her, grabbed onto your abdomen, and she escorted you out. What happened?"
As David was talking, he noticed Lois come up and sit beside Clark. Their eyes met for a moment, then turned back to David.
"I don't remember him grabbing his abdomen," Lois said. "We just left to check the outside."
"I watched you for a while," David said. "Clark was in pain, but it seemed to me that you were familiar with it." He stared at the couple intently, then added. "I'm a doctor and I've seen people in pain before."
"Whatever it was," Clark said, "I'm fine now. Thank you for your concern."
"That's not why I'm here." Once again, David noticed Lois looking wide eyed at Clark.
"Why are you here?"
"Yes, but I don't understand why?"
"I saw you almost double over in pain and Lois take you out of the room. I was going to see if I could help you when I heard someone fall. It was Anna."
"She tripped?" Lois asked.
"No. She was doubled over in pain. When I got to her, her breathing was erratic and she had a fever. I wanted to take her to the hospital, but she wouldn't let me. By the time, I got her back to the hotel, she said she was feeling better, the pain was gone, but she felt weak and tired. She wouldn't let me take her temperature, but I could tell she had a high fever."
Clark slipped his hand into Lois's. She squeezed it lightly, then her fingers intertwined with his.
"Do you think it's something catchy," Lois asked guilelessly.
"No. At first I thought it was a gallstone attack, but then I remembered Clark. All I could think of was some kind of allergic reaction, but the symptoms don't match. I thought that Clark might have the answer."
Clark, hearing his name, turned to David. "I don't think I can help you out here. You probably need to talk to Anna."
"She didn't know what happened to her, but she wasn't too interested in pursuing it either."
"I'm not surprised," Lois whispered.
Lois gasped. "Oh…um…well, she's a woman and you're a man and I don't think she sees you as a doctor so…um…she doesn't want you…you know…"
David sighed. "Unfortunately, Lois, Anna only sees me as a doctor."
"Look, David," Clark said, getting up from his seat. "I'm sorry that we can't help you out with this one, but I'm sure Anna will take care of herself and get any necessary help."
"Thanks for your time." David got up and followed Clark to the door. "I'll check in with Henderson and find out what he found after I left with Anna."
Clark walked David to the door and let him out.
"Clark, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Lois asked after Clark closed the door.
"Yeah," he said heading straight for the computer. "Let's see if our theory works."
They both stared at the computer screen watching Google open up. Clark quickly typed in Anna McLaren's name and waited.
"Do you think she was affected by the Kryptonite?"
"Symptoms sound similar to the ones I had the first time I was exposed."
"Maybe that's why she kept staring at you. She knows."
"How would she?"
"Same way we're going to find out now. Working backwards from the information we have on you. Well…" Lois tapped her foot.
"Patience, Lois. This modem doesn't work at superspeed."
Clark scrolled through the listings on Anna McLaren. "There's more than one Anna McLaren," he said before finally stopping on an article in the Huntsville Standard when she was transferred to the town. He quickly read through it.
"She was born in Huntsville, 1966. Parents are Pauline and Brad McLaren. He's a police officer with the Toronto force. She's got four older brothers. Two are police officers. One's an accountant. The other's an architect. She's got a university degree…Anthropology…and one in criminology. Spent her summers in Huntsville."
"Nothing there except she was born the same year as you, but then so were millions of other people. Anything else?"
"No. I'm going back to the search page."
"Open this up." Lois pointed to the computer screen.
Clark followed his wife's direction. "It's a letter to the editor she wrote to the Huntsville Standard." He skimmed through it. "She's responding to an article on adoption. She believes adopted children need to know as much as they can about their birth parents. She writes, 'Not knowing eats away at one's sense of self and worth.'"
"It's strongly implied."
"Okay. 1966. Adopted."
"We're still talking in the millions."
"Go to that page…'Matt's Wedding'."
Lois edged closer to the screen. "Nice family shot. She has a similar one on her desk."
"Definitely looks different than her brothers."
"Doesn't look like either of her parents." Lois took the mouse and scrolled down the page. "Or her Uncle Harry."
"I'd say so."
"I think it's time for a more in-depth search. We'll need the Planet's computer for that. Are you coming?"
Anna lay on the bed. She didn't feel as tired or drained as she had a few hours before, but she was reluctant to get out of bed, reluctant to try out her talents. She couldn't make up her mind if she hoped they would just go away, or if she would miss them.
Being like other women would allow her to have a relationship. She berated David for his stubborn wooing of her, calling it foolish and hopeless, but his persistence made her realize how honest his feelings were. And as much as she told him that she couldn't have a relationship with him or any man, she very much wanted to have one. Except that no man would want her the way she was.
Now, if she stayed normal, a relationship with David was a very real possibility. And she wouldn't have to tell him about herself…or that night…
There was a knock on the door. Pushing away the temptation to try and look through the door, Anna ran her fingers through her loosened hair, maybe, if she was normal, she could get a stylish cut. Wrapping her cozy robe around herself with the mismatched belt, she answered the door.
David stared at Anna. Standing in front of him, wearing the robe, her loose hair falling down her shoulders, she was so sexy. He remembered helping her undress and not finding her pyjamas. He wondered what she was wearing under the robe now. He found the image of her nude under the robe was exciting him more than he'd like to admit.
"Where did you go?" she asked.
"What?" he asked, taking a deep breath, hoping it would bring him back to reality. "To the Kents' place. Mind if I sit down?"
"No. Go ahead." She waited for him to sit down. "Did they find anything at the warehouse?"
"No. I don't know. I went for another reason."
Anna raised an eyebrow. David had seen her use the technique with others. She wasn't going to ask what the other reason was; she'd wait for him to tell her on his own. Which he would.
"Kent doubled over about the same time you did. I thought it might be a shared allergic reaction." He waited for some response. When none was forthcoming, he continued. "He said nothing was wrong with him, but, to tell you the truth, I don't believe him. He was in some pain, if only for a short time."
"You told him what happened to me?"
"Yes…Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Never mind. It doesn't matter."
"How are you feeling now?"
"Normal. I was going to shower and go out."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah! I'm fine."
Lois signalled Clark to follow her into the conference room.
"Did you get the kryptonite from the warehouse?" Clark asked.
"Yeah. I got rid of it the usual way."
"What did you find?" Lois asked her husband.
"Anna's parents filed adoption papers in Huntsville where they own a summer cottage."
"Huntsville, not Toronto?"
"Small town, less hassle, fewer questions, I guess, especially when they come back to the city for the winter."
"Any record of her birth parents?"
"No. Just legal mumbo-jumbo burying their identities. There's a statement of live birth, but I can't find a trace of the doctor who signed it."
"Hmm." Lois skimmed the pages Clark had printed up. "I looked at the weather and satellite conditions for May 1966. On May 19, 1966 there was unusual activity in the sky creating a seasonally early aurora borealis."
"Yeah. It was preceded by a flash of light streaking across the sky. Meteorologists determined that a meteor had passed over the area, but they searched the Algonquin Park area and couldn't find any evidence of it crashing to earth."
"How did they explain it?"
"It disintegrated before it hit land." Lois placed her hand on Clark's cheek. "You realize what this means, don't you?"
"You're not alone anymore," she whispered.
Clark took Lois's hand and moved it to his lips. "Lois, honey," he said, pausing to kiss her slender fingers, "I haven't been alone since I met you."
"Lois. Clark." It was Jimmy. Realizing that he was interrupting a private moment, he blushed. "Don't you guys get enough of that at home…and where do I get some for myself?"
"You gotta find the right person, Jimmy," Clark said with a smile on his face. "What's happening?"
"I got some more information on Anna McLaren for you. Her old high school went on line with a big who's who project and there's the write up on McLaren. She was a jock in her high school days playing mostly on boys' teams. She was a top athlete, having played house league as a little kid and then moving on in high school."
"She's built like an athlete," Lois said. "Doesn't look like there's any fat on her."
"Well, what's interesting is that she quit all sports in her senior year. She said she wanted to focus on her academics to get a university scholarship, which she ended up getting."
"Interesting, Jimmy," said Clark. "You can stop looking for now."
"Why do you want to investigate a cop? Do you think she's crooked?"
"No. Absolutely not," said Clark.
"We just want to know who we're dealing with," said Lois.
"I…uh…think we have enough information now. Thanks, Jimmy."
Once Jimmy had closed he door behind him and moved further into the newsroom, Lois turned to her husband. "Wouldn't an academic scholarship be harder to get than an athletic one. She's the youngest of five kids. I'm sure they could have used the money."
"If she was anything like me, she would have been nervous about giving herself away in a game. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and want to win for your team, especially when you know you could help them so easily."
"You got an athletic scholarship and played football."
"I did, but I had put a lot of thought…and I must admit…practice into it. I used it as a test of my control to play not quite as well as the better players but well enough to get the scholarship."
"Must've been frustrating at times."
"It was…and to be honest, I was glad when I could afford to stop playing football. I loved the game, but the stress wasn't worth it."
"You think that McLaren didn't want that stress?"
Lois took her husband's hand. "Clark, do you think she's Kryptonian like you?"
"I think so, honey."
"What are you going to do about it?"
"Go and talk to her."
Anna stepped out of the hairdresser's tossing her head. She felt like a TV commercial for shampoo, and she loved it. The stylist had cut her hair just above her shoulders and layered the sides so that her thick brown hair fell loosely around her face. She ran her fingers through her hair, no hair spray for her. She gave it one final toss. How long had it been since she was able to go with her mother to the hairdresser for a proper cut? She couldn't recall. The only memory she had was the frustration she felt before she figured out how to use her vision, like a knife, to cut her hair. And even then she had to leave it long so her eyes could see where she wanted to cut it. She would bring the braid over her head and zap the ends straight across.
As a teen, she so wanted to wear her hair in the latest styles, but she was always stuck with the same blunt cut she put into a braid and wore almost all the time. She looked at herself in the window of the store. There she was. Her hair flowing softly around her face. She giggled at her reflection. Then she looked beyond her reflection and saw a dress. Black. Spaghetti straps. A flowing knee length skirt. Not something a police sergeant would wear to a business dinner, but then she really didn't feel like a police sergeant today.
She wondered where she could find a piece of this Kryptonite for herself.
You've been awfully quiet since you've come home," Lois said to Clark as he looked absently at the plate of pasta salad Lois had prepared for dinner. "It is one of the few recipes I can make successfully…and there's very little cooking involved."
Oblivious to Lois's comments, Clark separated the pasta from the vegetables, making neat little piles of green and red on his plate.
"Clark?" Lois asked. She was ready to question whether the honeymoon was really over when Clark became aware of her presence.
"Sorry, honey. I guess I was preoccupied."
"Remember I said that I'd talk to Anna McLaren."
"So I keep mulling over how to approach her, and I'm not sure that I know what the right way would be."
Lois nodded her head.
"Like who do I go to her as…Superman or Clark?"
"Good question. What are your thoughts?"
"Superman could come swooping down at her and start talking to her. That's the identity that she seems to be denying. Maybe if they'd talk…And then if she hasn't figured out my identity, you'd be safe."
"I'm not worried about that, but I'd think Clark is more accessible since she doesn't have a super- persona."
"But are you sure she's made the connection with Clark. You say she stares at me, and she asked you if there were secrets that you never published, but what if she was just being difficult?"
"If you look at each thing she said separately, then I wouldn't think she knew, but when you put them together…well, I think she's on to you. When I told her about you being killed by Dillinger, she found it 'convenient', to use her word, that you were resurrected. Strange word in those circumstances."
"When you put it that way…"
"And she was surprised that you were the one who told me you loved me rather than the other way around."
"Why would that matter?"
"I didn't think too much of it then, but after David came to us it made sense. If she's Kryptonian like you, and she sees herself first as an alien, then having a relationship with a man may frighten her…"
"Or she may think it's impossible."
"Exactly. I don't know if you've noticed, but David is crazy about her and she keeps pushing him away…but, if you watch her carefully, she's not immune to his advances."
"Like someone else we might know?"
Lois rolled her eyes. "I don't know what you're talking about," she whispered innocently. "Anyway, she probably thinks that, as a Kryptonian, she can't have a relationship with an earth guy…"
"Until you started telling her about us."
"So, it makes perfect sense to me."
"You've started talking to her, why don't you make the first approach? Non-threatening. Woman to woman. Talk to her about David."
"I'm not good at playing best friend and confidante."
"Actually, my love, you're very good at," he said and kissed her.
David couldn't believe the telephone message. Anna's voice. "If you're interested in joining me for dinner, call."
Of course he had called. In fact, the speed with which he'd picked up the receiver could have rivalled Superman. Even if he had had another engagement, he would have broken it to be with Anna. And seeing her now, sitting beside him, her hair flowing softly around her face, the very sexy black dress and those strappy high-heeled sandals…Wow! There was nowhere else he would rather be.
When he had learned she hadn't made a reservation, he phoned Lois Lane at the Daily Planet. He had tried to sound casual, but he knew he hadn't been successful when, after asking for a nice restaurant for dinner, Lois had asked, with a light chuckle, whether he was looking for something 'romantic'. Lois's tone of voice definitely suggested she knew his mission that night was to woo Anna McLaren. She had steered him to Angelina's, where, she told him, she and Clark had had their first real date. She had promised him that the place was magical.
Several hours later, dressed as nicely as possible, considering he was not at home, he had waited for Anna in the lobby listening for the elevator's ding, hoping Anna would come out of the sliding doors. Surprisingly, as excited as he was to see her, he couldn't help staring at an extraordinarily beautiful woman who exited the elevator. She had checked the lobby over before walking over to him. It took him a few seconds to realize that the beautiful woman was Anna, and she was standing in front of him.
"Wow!" he had said.
To his amazement and delight, Anna had burst into giggles.
"What did you do to your hair?"
Anna fluffed her hair. "I went to a stylist. Do you like it?"
"Looks good." He had paused and slipped his fingers through a lock. "You look beautiful."
Anna had shifted shyly, unable to meet his eyes, but David was more than a little surprised when she hadn't pushed him away. Still, he would have to move very slowly . If what he thought was happening was actually happening, he certainly didn't want to spook her. "You ready to go?" he had asked, allowing his hand to fall back to his side. Then, he offered her his arm. He smiled when, after hesitating only slightly, she slipped her arm through his, and they headed out of the hotel.
It wasn't long before he was sliding in beside Anna who was already sitting on the semi-circular bench. They sat side-by-side in the dimly lit restaurant Lois had recommended. She had been right. The place was magical. The maitre d' had seated them at a quiet table away from most of the other dinners. They were able to speak quietly without having to hear other conversations. Around them, people were enjoying their dinners, but David could only see the woman beside him who, surprisingly, was more relaxed than he'd ever seen her before.
"So, you finally gave in."
"Gave in? What do you mean?" she asked.
"We're on a date, just you and me."
Anna looked at the other couples enjoying their meals. "Not really. This isn't a date. It's dinner."
"Right. Dinner," David said, keeping just a smidgen of doubt in his voice.
"Exactly. Two friends…"
He revelled in the playfulness in her voice.
"So we're friends now. That's up a notch…"
"Acquaintances. Two acquaintances."
"I like friends better." David decided to be brave. He placed his hand on top of Anna's. When she didn't pull back, he gently enfolded her fingers in his.
"You know, this wine tastes different than other wines. It has a tingle to it I've never felt before. Makes me feel a bit light- headed. I wonder if it's because we're in a different city…"
Anna's chatter didn't register on David who was only aware that Anna hadn't moved her hand. With his other hand, he ran his fingers through her hair, then rested his palm on her cheek.
"Thank you for inviting me to dinner," he said.
"Not a problem," Anna said, "I had this new hair-do and new dress and I didn't want to waste them sitting in my room or going out to dinner alone and you were the only one in town who I really know so it seemed like the obvious thing to do and I knew you could make yourself look decent…"
"Like a date."
Anna rolled her eyes.
"Anna, I want to date you. I like you. A lot. There's something that happens to me when I'm with you that's so special. Why have you been fighting me so much?"
Her excited smile turned down a bit as she gazed at the bread basket in front of her. She removed her hand from his and reached for a roll in the basket. "David, it's complicated."
"Life is complicated, but if we talk about it, unravel it, I'm sure it will make sense."
"Not now, David. Not here. Let's just enjoy dinner." She put a piece of bread in her mouth. "Mmm, it's warm."
As if the waiter had sensed the change in mood, he arrived at the table and placed their dinners in front of them and refilled their wine glasses before he left.
David wanted the easygoing Anna back. Once they tasted their entrees and commented on the luscious meal, Anna started chattering about her foray into Metropolis's shopping district. She giggled as she told him about her hair-cut and about her reaction every time she saw herself in a mirror.
Bill Henderson knocked on the door of the small bungalow on a modest street in eastern Metropolis. The address, as well as New Troy license plate number 324 AXY, belonged to Paul Simmons, a teacher at a local elementary school. Henderson was hoping that Simmons had some answers about the license plate that would link Jeremy Hamilton to the Honda Civic which had crossed the border just ahead of Vic Newbury's Jeep. Hamilton's wallet, which they found in the gym bag containing the license plate and the shovel in Newbury's car was a good piece of evidence, but he'd like more.
A man in his early thirties answered the door. When Henderson flashed his badge, the man walked onto porch.
"Inspector William Henderson, MPD, Homicide."
The man looked puzzled. "How can I help you, Inspector?"
Henderson opened his notebook. "Do you own a Honda Civic with license plate number 324 AXY?"
"I did. Sold it about eight months ago."
"Do remember the exact date?"
"Not exactly, but it was early October, last year. I'd been in a bad accident, still having trouble with my leg, and the car got wrecked. The motor was okay, but my wife felt the car was jinxed so I advertised to sell it. Someone came and bought it.
"Do you remember who?"
"I have his name written down. Come in and I'll look for it."
Simmons led Henderson into the kitchen, offering him a seat while he looked through papers in a drawer. While he looked, Simmons talked.
"I'd had a number of small accidents in the Honda and my wife kept saying it was jinxed. After the last accident, I couldn't argue with her. This guy called me up the day the ad came out. He asked to see the car. It didn't bother him that the body looked like the day after demolition derby. He didn't seem to know about cars much, but trusted that the engine was fine. No, not in this drawer. Hold on a sec."
Simmons went to the kitchen entrance and called, "Honey, do you know where I put the papers I had in the kitchen drawer are?"
"In the filing cabinet in your office," a voice called back.
Simmons excused himself and returned within a minute.
"Here it is. Jeremy Hamilton and his phone number." He handed the card to Henderson. Taking a step back, remembering, Simmons said, "Jeremy Hamilton. Isn't that the guy who was killed in Canada? I read about it in the paper, but I didn't make the connection…" Simmons stood opened mouthed looking at the card in Henderson's hand.
Henderson glanced at the paper. "Did you write this or did Hamilton?"
"Why was the license plate still in your name?"
"I don't know. He asked if I would mind letting him use the plates for the week-end and he would register the plates on Monday. I hadn't heard anything, but I assumed he would."
"He probably didn't get a chance."
"This is awful. Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Tell me about what happened when Hamilton came for the car."
In the end, Henderson hadn't learned anything new about Hamilton except for his state of mind, agitated and in a hurry to purchase the car. When Henderson left the Simmons' home, he had another connection to build a case on. He could go home for dinner now.
Anna couldn't believe she had been talking so much. The meal had been first class, the taste of the chicken piquante still lingered on her lips. David had moved away from the uncomfortable topic of dating and talked about the difference between living in a big city and that of a small resort town. Anna, who had also grown up in Toronto, shared her experiences with him. They found they had a lot in common, crossed paths at times without meeting. They even had some acquaintances in common.
David talked about growing up as an only child while Anna babbled about growing up in a home with four brothers. She had to hold her tongue more than once not to tell him what it was like growing up with the special talents she kept hidden from everyone except her parents. For the first time in her life, she wanted to share some of who she really was with another person, to tell him what it was like to soar into the air or dive off a steep cliff into a cold lake.
She almost asked David to dance with her. She had been watching some couples swaying closely to the soft piano music. She wanted to be in David's arms again, moving together with him, feeling his touch on her. When dinner was served, he had released her hand, and she missed his touch on her skin.
Finally, when the waiter had left with their dessert order, David stood up, took both her hands and gently tugged her to the dance floor.
"They say I'm good at this," he said as he pulled her into his arms.
"Who are they?"
Anna punched David's arm lightly, but she couldn't help smiling. "I think I have to meet this mother of yours and set her straight. She has too high an opinion of you."
David chuckled softly in her ear sending shivers up her back.
"I thought you were shorter," he said nuzzling her neck.
"I am, but tonight I'm wearing these heels."
When the music ended, Anna was disappointed.
"Our dessert's on the table," she murmured.
"I'm not ready to let go of you yet," he said as the pianist began the next melody. "Let's just dance."
Anna's head rested at his lip level, and she could sense David placing kisses in her hair. At the same time, she felt his left hand move higher on her back, just above where the dress plunged. His fingers traced a pattern on her bare skin. Anna never wanted to move from that position again. She couldn't quite believe she was letting him hold her so intimately. Who knew how long her new reality would last? She was playing with fire, but then, she remembered her appeal to the powers above when she'd left the message for him to have dinner. Surely they wouldn't punish her for forgetting who she was for one night. She pushed away her memory of the one other time she'd allowed herself to do that.
"I never want to move from here, ever," she said almost to herself. Anna looked up at David who was grinning broadly.
She saw the grin disappear slowly as his lips pursed. He slowly leaned forward.
Ohmygod, Anna thought, he's going to kiss me. "Dessert," she said. "It's on the table. Let's eat." She stepped out of his arms and headed for the table.
Lois snuggled up to Clark, running her hand lightly over his bare chest.
"Mmmm," she murmured. "This married life is really, really nice." She placed a big kiss on his chest.
"I'm not complainin'," he said and pulled her closer to him.
"And the reason we waited so long for this is…?" she asked playfully.
"So our love making would be even more special?"
Lois smiled. It was more than special, and she was glad they had waited. She lay wordlessly beside him, knowing that they were in the right place for them. It had taken a long time to get to this point, to be married and living in their own home, but they had arrived. What was most important to her, she realized, was that no matter what lay ahead of them, what they had to endure, they would do it together. And that made everything possible.
She ran her hand over his muscular abdomen, running her finger lightly in a circle over his navel. He sighed, the one that told her that he was happy and content. And she knew that she was happy and content as well. Even working out the day-to-day living with a superhero wasn't as onerous as she had feared it might be. This was their life together.
And it was a better life, she had learned over the last year, than life alone. She remembered how she had hesitated going out on their first date. The evening had been spectacular. Dinner at Angelina's, the soft music, easy-flowing conversation, dancing in Clark's arms. She reached over and placed a kiss on Clark's lips. She could tell he had been dozing off, but once she kissed him, he rolled over onto his side and began returning the kisses.
"I sent David and Anna to Angelina's for dinner tonight."
No answer. Clark was now nibbling at her ear.
"I hope they find the magic we did. You should have heard him when he called me earlier today. He was so excited, like a little kid who'd learned he was going to Disneyland. Mmmmm….He said Anna had asked him to dinner and he wanted to take her somewhere special, really special. I thought of Angelina's and how romantic it was…Clark, are you listening?"
Clark, whose nibbling had brought him close to Lois's mouth, stopped. "And why am I supposed to be interested in David and Anna's dinner date?"
"Because they're in love," Lois said, swatting him playfully. "And tonight will be very important to them. She's been fighting him all along because she's scared of what a commitment might mean to her life. Maybe she's scared about what he'd think when he found out she's Kryptonian…"
"I can understand that."
"Of course you can, and so can I. That's why I'm cheering for them."
"Well, I hope he has an easier time than I did saying good-night at the door."
"You'll never let me forget that, will you?"
"Never. Now let me show you what really should've happened." He looked at her lips and very slowly moved in for a kiss…
He had been so close, and she backed away. David could kick himself. Everything was going so well. She was so content in his arms, at least that's the way it seemed. So, why did she get so skittish?
David pressed the button for the ninth floor. After they had sat down at the table, Anna ate her dessert in silence, and when they had finished, she said she was ready to go back to the hotel. Walking back, she hadn't pulled away when he'd put his arm around her waist, but she hadn't moved closer either.
He knew Anna would be very happy if he said nothing and let the whole incident drop, but he needed to understand why she was being hot and cold with him. The evening had been perfect, almost perfect, and he needed to know why. They were standing in front of Anna's hotel room door. If he didn't ask now, he might not get another chance.
"Anna, I don't understand what happened while we were dancing. I thought you liked where we were going."
"David, it's complicated."
"You've said that before."
"And I'll say it again."
He put his hand on her arm, stroking it gently. "Explain it to me, please. I need to understand," he said softly.
"How can I explain something I don't totally understand?" She paused, staring at her free hand playing with his lapel. "I like you, David… A lot. I'd like to be with you…the way you want." Her hand stopped moving. It lay flat on his chest. "But I know, for so many reasons that it won't happen…can't happen."
What Anna was saying to him didn't make sense, but it didn't matter. He could hear the tension in her voice, the tears she was choking back as she talked. All he wanted to do was take her in his arms and let her know that there was a safe place in the world where all those 'many reasons' didn't really make a difference. And all he could think about was how to show her that, no matter what, he would accept her and protect her.
Anna stepped away from David, who hadn't stopped stroking her arm, and turned to open her room door. David didn't want to see them separated by a door, not without letting her feel what he felt, so he decided to take a chance.
"Before you go in, I just want to kiss you good-night. No. Don't shake your head. Just listen." He looked into her eyes. "This was a perfect date…Don't interrupt… For me, it was as perfect a date as I'd ever had. You are beautiful, intelligent, charming…now you can object…" He chuckled when Anna smiled. "And I'd like to end this perfect night, close to perfect night, with a kiss." He leaned in closer as he spoke. As long as Anna didn't put up a stop sign, he would continue.
He focussed on her mouth. Her tongue flickered over her full, red lips and then she bit her lower lip. Not a stop sign.
He touched her soft curls around her face and leaned in closer. Anna hadn't moved. He gently brushed his lips against hers and pulled back. She still didn't move. This time he let his mouth linger longer on hers, and without drawing back, deepened the kiss.
And then he felt her reach behind his neck and pull him in closer to her while her lips pressed harder against his, slowly opening allowing his tongue to enter. The moan that escaped her throat sent a shot of heat through his body.
"Anna," he whispered and returned to kiss her. Too soon, he took a step away from her. "I better leave before I…we…get carried away."
"Yes. Good idea. It wouldn't be good to get carried away." She leaned forward and kissed him gently.
Reluctantly, David turned around and headed for the elevator.
Anna smiled. She couldn't get rid of the silly grin plastered on her face. She didn't recognize the woman she was becoming. First, she giggled all afternoon and evening whenever she thought of her new hair-do, and now she was wearing this imbecilic grin on her face.
Next she'd float in the air and do somersaults…and as she visualized the actions, she realized that she was floating. She grimaced. She was back. Just to make sure, she x-rayed the bureau in her room and clearly saw her clothes neatly folded.
And she didn't care. She wanted to take off into the sky, do loop-de-loops and yell at the top of her lungs, I love David Morrow. All right. She wouldn't do that, but felt she wanted to.
She wasn't sure what had happened to her that evening, but being with David was magic, and for the life of her she couldn't figure out why she had been trying to push him away. All the reasons she had given herself for not having a relationship just didn't make sense. So what if she was from another planet. So what if she wasn't human. And considering that Lois and Clark got married, she couldn't think of what kind of complications there were. She was a fairy princess and he was her Prince Charming.
She did a long twirl in the air before heading to the washroom where she quickly showered and put on her robe. She doubted she could sleep tonight, but that didn't matter because she could stay awake and think about the kiss.
She was in the middle of brushing her wet hair when there was a knock on her door.
"Who is it?"
Anna checked herself in the mirror one more time before opening the door and letting David in.
"We forgot to make…" David stopped in mid-sentence staring at Anna. She quickly reviewed her status. She was dressed, her robe done up, her hair combed…why was he staring?
"Is everything okay?"
David shook his head as if to throw off something bothering him. "We forgot to make plans for tomorrow. Breakfast. My plane's leaving at 10:30."
"You could have phoned me."
"I thought of that, but then I couldn't kiss you good night again."
"Good thought. Breakfast. What time?"
"I'll meet you downstairs."
David reached for Anna and held her in his arms. "Good night," he said, kissing her.
They held each other a little longer, exchanging short, sweet kisses. Once again Anna felt like a fairy princess who had finally met her Prince Charming. He didn't have a white horse, but maybe, maybe they might try the living happily ever after stuff.
As good as Anna felt, she knew that the evening had to end. "I think it's time for you to go," she said.
"Good night, my beautiful Anna." He kissed her one more time.
"Good night, Prince Charming," she said, and as the words echoed in her head, she slapped her hand over her mouth. "Ohmygod."
David stood on the spot for a moment, her sultry voice and the words echoing in his head, knowing he'd heard that sound and those words before. And he had met that woman standing in front of him before, wearing that same robe with her wet hair hanging down—and she wasn't Anna McLaren.
When he had first entered Anna's room, he had thought he was experiencing one of those elusive deja vu moments, but it was Anna who was standing in front of him, not the woman he had dubbed Cinderella who was as ephemeral as a memory, something that slipped through his fingers like gossamer and was lost. She wasn't real. Anna was.
But that slip of the tongue and her reaction afterwards… His head began to pound as he felt the blood coursing to his temples. She had been playing games with him all along. Using him. How could she?
"I can't believe you did that to me?" Words that had been stuck in his throat began to tumble out.
"David, I'm sorry…"
"What kind of games have you been playing with me? You tell me you don't date, but you seduce me?"
"David, I'm so sorry…" Anna stepped forward reaching for him, but the last thing David wanted was to be touched by her. He waved her hands away and stepped back.
"I know there's no excuse…but let me explain."
"Explain? There's no explanation."
"Please!" Anna sank down on the bed, her face in her hands. David could see her shoulders shaking. He heard her sobbing, but he refused to let her tears move him. She was the one who snuck around, took advantage of him, lied to him.
"What am I? An easy lay?"
Anna gasped. "David, please. It's not that. It's anything but that."
"How many other guys have you done this to?"
"You're the only one," she whispered.
"You expect me to believe that when you've lied to me from the beginning. Who are you, anyway? What kind of a person does this?" He strode around the room, flailing his arms in the air. "You're a witch casting spells on unsuspecting dupes. And I'm the biggest one of all because I let you lead me on…and turn me on."
Her sobs grew louder, but he wouldn't let them influence him. He refused to look at her in fear that she had some magic formula to sway him from his anger. She used her powers to influence him, to manipulate him to be attracted to her—twice. And she was probably using the tears to make him pity her when really she was laughing inside.
"I didn't mean to hurt you," she murmured into her hands.
"You expect me to believe that after you seduced me and then told me over and over again that you don't date. What are you, anyway?"
David ran his hands through his hair, trying to control the angry tears forming in his eyes.
Once again he was at a loss for words. All he wanted to do was curse and scream at her. He noticed the tray of drinking glasses on the table and, unable to stop himself, swiped the glasses off the table and watched as they shattered onto the floor. Surprised by the vehemence he felt, he took one last look at Anna who was staring at the shattered glass, and walked out of the room. Just before he slammed the door behind him, he heard Anna sob and whisper, "I knew you wouldn't understand."
Lois, curious to know what happened after Henderson searched the TAL warehouse and offices, walked straight towards Henderson's desk in the MPD precinct office. Instead of the laconic Henderson, she found Anna McLaren sitting at his desk. Anna looked pale, staring off into the distance, not seeming to focus on anything, Lois thought.
"How did your date go last night?" Lois asked.
Anna didn't say anything for a moment. Then, as if she finally processed what Lois had said, she answered in a monotone, "It wasn't a date, just dinner."
Something went bad, Lois thought and then remembered her first date with Clark. She had slammed the door on him when he'd said good-night, but neither she nor Clark had been as destitute as Anna looked. In fact, looking back now, Clark probably saw her rejection of him as another hurdle he had to jump. Thank goodness for Clark's tenacity. If not for him and his belief in her, in them as a couple, they wouldn't be married today.
"McLaren, line 1," someone called.
Anna picked up the phone in front of her, identified herself, and nodding her head, scribbled notes on a pad of paper and interjected an occasional "Uh-huh" into the conversation. When she hung up the phone, she looked at Lois.
"It's in the hands of the provincial crown attorney," she said. When Lois raised her eyebrow in question, Anna added, "Prosecution. District attorney in this neck of the woods. She's starting the extradition work so we can bring Newbury to Canada for trial."
"How did you get to this point overnight?" Lois asked.
"Henderson did the work. He brought Newbury in for questioning about the license plate, wallet and shovel."
"What did he find out?"
"I can't tell you. You're a reporter, Lois."
"I've been working on this with you from the beginning, even before Henderson got on board."
Anna stared at Lois.
Lois shrugged her shoulders. "You know you can trust me."
Anna stared for another second. "Remember, all of this is off the record."
Lois nodded in agreement.
"Henderson interrogated Newbury last night." Anna seemed to come back to life as she spoke. "He had the license plate which he traced to Hamilton and, of course, Hamilton's wallet. I called Canada Immigration and Customs and found that the Honda Civic and Newbury's Jeep had crossed the border within ten minutes of each other."
"That's still circumstantial, isn't it?"
"Yes, but that's for a court to decide. It was enough to bring Newbury in. Furthermore, Newbury was quite nervous while he crossed the border, so the customs official recorded his name and driver's license number. That means there's a record at the border of Newbury in his vehicle."
"No record of Hamilton?"
"No. He mustn't have aroused the guard's suspicions." Anna paused when Henderson arrived at his desk.
"The crown attorney has begun the necessary paperwork."
"When are you going back to Canada?" Henderson asked.
"I just have to make the arrangements."
"Wait a minute," Lois interrupted. "Can you two fill me in here? McLaren was at the part where Newbury crossed the border."
"Once Henderson spoke to the registered owner of the plates, he learned that Hamilton had bought the car from him. Then Henderson arrested Newbury. And here we are."
"Bill, did you interrogate the man? Learn anything from him?"
"Yes, I did Lois. I know my job." Henderson began riffling through some papers on his desk, as if his conversation with Lois was at an end.
"Well?" Lois dramatically crossed her arms and tapped her toe.
"Newbury, without a great deal of persuasion, admitted that he followed Hamilton into Canada. He was supposed to knock him around a bit and get a notebook that he had."
"What kind of notebook?" Lois asked.
"He didn't know. He was just told that he needed to bring back this notebook to Metropolis. He had lost Hamilton in the woods for about a half hour, but picked up his trail when Hamilton was tossing something that looked like a shovel, into the lake. He started chasing Hamilton. When he finally caught up to him, he wanted to slow him down, so he whacked him on the head with his shovel. He says he didn't mean to kill him."
"And you believe him?" "Surprisingly, I do."
Lois eyed Henderson suspiciously.
"Newbury's not too smart," Henderson said.
"Anyone who leaves the victim's wallet and license plate lying in his car after he murders him, isn't working with a full deck," Anna said.
"I remember," Lois said, "after the Church vigilante group was disbanded, Newbury held me up in an elevator in the Daily Planet. Like he could get away with it."
"What happened?" Anna asked.
"Superman rounded up a couple of MPD's finest and was there when the elevator doors opened.
"Like I said, not too smart."
"Meanwhile the crown attorney," Anna added, "is deciding whether to lay charges for murder or manslaughter. Perhaps she could lay a second charge for stupidity."
"So who told him to go after Hamilton in the first place?" Lois asked.
"Newbury admitted that it was his boss, Marcy Turcovic, but she never told him why she wanted the notebook."
"Do you have evidence, other than Newbury's word, to link the two?"
"Some," said Anna. "Henderson's people found payroll statements in the TAL office for both Newbury and Turcovic, and Newbury's vehicle was registered to TAL."
"Has Turcovic talked?"
"Lawyered up," Henderson said.
"The problem is that there's no motive. Why were they after Hamilton? What was in the notebook?"
"I still think Emil knows what this is all about," Lois said.
"Very possibly," Henderson concurred. "But he isn't talking."
"Can I tell this to Shelley Hamilton?" Lois asked.
"I'll let her know we have Newbury and Turcovic in custody. And Lois, don't print any of this until you get the go ahead from me," Henderson warned.
Lois leaned against her Cherokee, waiting outside the police station for Anna and Henderson to finish the paper work that would expedite Newbury and Trucovic's extradition. She saw the two police officers shake hands at the front door before Anna left the building and headed out. Lois took two steps toward Anna.
"I was hoping we could talk," Lois said.
Anna didn't seem surprised. She probably knew that David had told Clark and her about Anna's episode in the TAL warehouse, and that Clark and she must have figured out who Anna was.
"I guess it's time that we spoke," Anna said.
"I spoke to David yesterday," Lois began as the two women got into the Cherokee. "He was really excited about taking you to dinner, asked me to suggest a romantic restaurant…"
"Is this about David?"
"In part. There're other things I want to talk to you about, but I thought we'd go back to my place. Clark is waiting there."
"I don't think my relationship with David is any of your business."
"Probably not, but I think I have some experience here that may change your perspective on David."
"Lois, our perspectives aren't the same and neither are our experiences." Anna refused to look at Lois. Instead, she stared out the window.
"My first date with Clark was…well, it was incredible. Easily the best date I'd ever been on. At least until he walked me back to the door of my apartment."
Anna turned to look at Lois, who could tell that something in what she'd said had caught Anna's attention, so she pushed on. "He went to kiss me good night and I actually slammed the door in his face."
Anna looked back at the window. Okay, so maybe that wasn't what had happened. But whatever had, it had happened when David had taken her back to the hotel.
"Of course, our whole relationship was complicated by the fact that…" Lois hesitated. She'd not yet confirmed that Anna knew about the connection between Clark and Superman. After a moment, she realized that she had absolutely no doubt that Anna knew. "…that he lied to me for so long about Superman."
Anna snorted. "Well, at least that's not going to be a problem for us," Anna muttered.
'Right on!" Lois thought. Either she had told David that she was Kryptonian or somehow he had figured it out. Lois instantly changed tracks. "When I first learned the truth about Clark, I was really angry at him because he'd kept the fact he was Superman from me. That was an important issue we had to deal with."
"It bothered you that he was Kryptonian?"
"No, not at all. That was amazing. No. What angered me was that he had lied to me for close to two years."
"So you got over it and everything was fine…"
"You're not listening," Lois said. "Because he's Superman, we had a lot of relationship and role issues to deal with. We always talked…well, not immediately, but we talked and we worked things out. You and David need to talk. Tell him, if you haven't already…"
"I don't think it matters anymore. He's figured out who I am, and he doesn't like it."
"He loves you."
"Loved me. I know he did, but not anymore. Even if I could offer him a normal life…" Anna sighed, "he…wouldn't want it…anymore."
"You don't know that, not until you've talked," Lois said, patting Anna on the shoulder.
"He left this morning. No word. No message. Just checked out and left on the first plane out. Earlier than he was scheduled to."
"You had a fight?"
"You could call it that."
Lois stopped the car. "We're here," Lois said.
Clark placed the cookies on a platter and headed for the living room. To be honest, he was a bit nervous not knowing how to begin the conversation with Anna. For the first time in his life he was going to meet someone who was like him, who had experienced many of the same highs and lows of having superpowers. But up until now, this woman hadn't wanted to meet him, and that worried him.
Lois and Anna were sitting together on the sofa drinking their coffee when he entered the living room carrying a plate of cookies.
"Anna, talk to David," Lois was saying. "I'm sure that whatever happened between you can be overcome."
"I'd rather not talk about David. You said you had something else to talk to me about. I assume, from the way you mentioned Superman earlier, that you've figured out who… or what I am." She nodded to Clark as he entered the room. "I'm probably Kryptonian the way you are."
"Probably?" Clark asked.
"The only reason I think that I'm Kryptonian is that I have the same talents as you do, but I have no proof that I'm from anywhere but earth."
"But Kryptonite affected you."
"Yes, it did."
"I wasn't my normal self. I was vulnerable."
"Yes, I noticed. Nice hair cut," said Lois.
"Thanks. I didn't think I'd ever be able to have my hair cut and styled professionally."
"Why not?" Lois asked.
"Can't see what I'm doing at the back."
"You can't? That shouldn't be a problem. I use a mirror to reflect my x-ray vision and use it to cut my hair, and to shave," Clark said.
"A mirror? Never thought of that."
"See, that's why you two need to talk. It would be like having a brother you could bounce ideas off. You wouldn't feel so alone," Lois said.
Anna laughed in response. "What I don't need, Lois, is another brother. I have four of them already. And alone is something you don't feel in my family."
Lois looked puzzled. Clark knew that the idea of not being alone in a family setting was something Lois was just learning. Clark always had his parents, but he missed having anyone his age to share the changes he was undergoing as a teenager.
"We're like threads in a sewing kit," Anna continued. "We start off separate, but as you reach deeper, we're tangled and knotted, and it's next to impossible to separate us."
"Not much privacy."
"No. But it's also soft and cozy." Anna took a sip of her coffee. "Now that we've found each other, Clark, what are you looking for?"
"I thought my parents and Lois were enough, but then, around eight months ago, when I was helping out at a disaster in China, I found a small space ship similar to the one I was found in. We took the remains to Star Labs where Dr. Klein, a friend of ours, found it was a Kryptonian baby girl."
Anna gasped. "Another one?"
"Yes. Before that I had accepted I was the only one; afterwards, I hoped there were more of us. I liked the idea of having a sister. Lois and I tried finding if anyone else was like me, but I had no luck. Not enough information. And then David came to us and said that you were ill, and…"
"We put two and two together," Lois said. "You had to be Kryptonian so we did a search, and we found out you had a similar background to Clark's."
"When did you figure out I was Superman?" Clark asked.
"A few months after Superman appeared. His talents were too similar to mine for us not to be the same. So I did some detective work, and it made sense that you were Superman."
"Why didn't you contact me?"
David breathed slowly, trying to let the hum of the airplane's engines lull him to sleep. His body and mind were tired, but he felt his muscles tense up in spite of the fact that he wanted to relax. He hadn't slept the night before; instead, he'd paced the small hotel room until the room was a nauseating blur. He played the scene over and over in his mind. He was right to be angry with her. She had made an idiot out of him. Using him like a piece of meat when she needed to be serviced, then playing hard to get. She had said he was the only one, but how could he believe her when she had lied right from the start? The smartest thing he could do was get back to Huntsville and send out resumes. There was nothing keeping him there now.
When the clock had struck five, he decided to shower, dress and check out. With nothing else to do, he took a cab to the airport and wandered the empty corridors until it was time to board his flight. And his mind had continued to thrash over the events of the last night. She really played him for a fool telling him she didn't date, she didn't have relationships with men.
She was a slut. That's what she was. She didn't need long term relationships when she could have little anonymous intrigues on the side.
She was a sorceress, making him think she could do those high dives. The cliff probably wasn't as high as he had thought it was, and it was closer to where he sat on the rock than he had originally thought. She just walked over and tapped him on the shoulder. It had taken longer than he'd thought. How could she do this to him? How could he have been so stupid to think he was in love with her?
That was his problem. He thought he was in love with a woman who couldn't love back. She was probably having a good laugh right now while he hadn't slept a wink. He felt like there was a void in his gut.
David closed his eyes as he felt the plane build up speed on the tarmac and then lift into the air. He pictured the nose cutting through the air, lifting the plane higher and higher. And in its place he saw the magnificent figure of a woman cut into the sky, jack-knife and dive, her strong muscles controlling the speed of her downward descent…and that perfect dive. She arose from the water soaring straight in the air, and he heard her sultry voice, felt her soft touch on his naked shoulder.
"No!" he said, and shook his head.
"Pardon me?" the man beside him asked.
"Sorry." He leaned his head against the window and once again closed his eyes, discouraging the man beside him from talking.
Why couldn't he get her out of his mind? He needed to remember how perfidious she was. Yes, good word. That described her to a tee. She knew exactly what she was doing and she used him, tricked him into making love to her. What did she want to prove? That all men were ruled by their hormones rather than their brains…or their hearts? Well, he sure fell into that one. His hormones were raging that night, and he didn't even try to find out who that woman was. A night of pleasure, a one night stand and he didn't even try to find out who she was.
He wondered if she had left the belt as a clue. Go around all the houses of young women in Huntsville and find out whose robe matched the belt. He hadn't. The fairy tale had ended when the sun came up that morning. And the fairy tale with Anna, he thought, ironically ended when that same sun came up this morning.
She wasn't a sorceress as he had thought. She was just a woman who, wrapped in the glowing aurora borealis, created an unbelievable dream that he had read too much into.
Time to go home. Back to reality.
Why hadn't she contacted Clark? The question wasn't a new one for Anna. She had thought about contacting Superman, Clark, from the first time she read about him, but something had stopped her. Over time, she began to identify the reasons she avoided meeting Superman. Now she debated which reasons to tell him. She didn't want to be an alien from outer space. No, she'd save that one. Clark was too comfortable with the Kryptonian part of himself, and he probably wouldn't understand. But then since he was comfortable as Superman, he probably wouldn't understand any of her reasons.
"Can I ask a question first?"
"Why did you become Superman?"
"That's easy. I wanted to help."
"Can't you help without adopting a secondary persona?"
"Before I became Superman, I did little rescues, but there were times when I couldn't help out because it would give away my secret. I knew that I had these powers for a reason, and I felt that I could do more if I used them openly. I was stuck with how to do it…how to help and still keep my secret hidden. Then one day, when I first met Lois…" He reached over and held onto his wife's hand. "…she mentioned bringing a change of clothing to work. And the idea of an outfit to hide who I was just formed. My mother made the suit. Her rationale was that the bright colours and unconventional style would detract from my face."
"And she was right…that and a pair of glasses," Lois said. "I can't believe I let a pair of glasses fool me for so long. Duh!"
"There you go. I don't wear glasses," Anna said.
"No one asked you to take on a secret identity," Clark said.
"Nonetheless, that was one of the reasons I didn't contact you. I didn't want to become the centre of attention. I use my talents whenever I can, in the best way possible for me."
"Interesting that you call them talents while Clark calls them powers."
"My mother started that. As a teenager, as I gained these skills, I was devastated after each one developed. I wanted to go somewhere to hide just in case my friends found out I was so different. It took me a while before I even spoke to my parents. My mother, once she understood how unhappy I was, started calling them talents. 'You see,' she had said, 'everyone has a special skill they can do. And these talents are very different. Nancy is an accomplished dancer. Joe plays the drums. Annabelle has a beautiful singing voice. Bonnie is brilliant at mathematics. Each one is special. If they squander their talents, then they don't benefit from the richness and the world around them doesn't benefit from what they can give the world. You have that kind of talent.'
"Because of my parents, I accepted who I thought I was, but I decided that, unlike my friends, I had to keep these talents a secret, use them in secret. Let's face it, these so-called talents were really weird." Anna opened her eyes wide and grimaced. "I helped out, but in the background. It was a challenge to see how much I could do without being exposed.
"So, I didn't contact you because I didn't want to be discovered as another superhero. I didn't want to wear a brightly coloured uniform and be on the front pages of international newspapers and television. I'm far from being a superhero or any kind of hero. I'm a cop who does her job as best she can…well, maybe a little better than others."
"You could've contacted me and not go public."
"Maybe. Maybe not. The other reason was public reaction. One superhero is great. But two? That can be an alien invasion. Then all the good Superman has done is nullified because people begin to see him, and another Kryptonian, as threats. I didn't want to ruin what you had going for you. You've done a lot of good for the world."
"I'm not sure you're right."
"I'm not sure I'm wrong. Think about it. You're a man, I'm a woman. Next someone gets the idea that we'll procreate and with our children we'll take over the world. That can be pretty scary."
"Actually, that's pretty scary for me," Lois said. "Any procreating he does will be with me only, thank you very much."
Anna nodded her head and chuckled. "However, they don't know that Superman is Clark Kent and married to Lois Lane. What they would see are two aliens. You two are in the newspaper business. Think about what fun the tabloids would have."
Lois patted Clark on the arm and stood up. "Since Anna isn't a danger, then I'm going to leave the two of you. I'm sure you have a lot to talk about." She kissed her husband on the cheek and went upstairs.
"Yes, I believe I am," Clark said, his eyes following Lois up the stairs. "A few years ago, I wasn't sure that I could live a normal life, have a permanent job, a home, a wife. But Lois made it all possible…well, Lois and Superman."
"I'm afraid I won't have a normal life. I'll never have a husband and a family. there'll just be me and when I die,—oh, god please let me be able to die— there will be nothing left, no one to mourn."
"But you have parents and all those brothers…"
"Blood links. No children." Anna closed her eyes and shook herself. "I've never said that to anyone. Maybe I didn't want to meet you because I'd start saying things to you that I don't want to say to myself. Being normal was so important that I shut myself off from a lot of experiences."
"Especially David. He used to think I had no patience for him. Now he just thinks I'm a hormone- driven freak. Oh, I really hate that word."
"Does he know you're Kryptonian?"
"He saw me do some …"She indicated quotation marks. "…super things, and we had a fight and I don't know what kind of connections he's made…and if he makes connections about me, he'll make connections about you."
"If he knows the truth and you talk about it, it'll work out. I'm sure you can trust him."
"He might figure out that you're Superman."
"I think we can rely on him to keep it a secret. If it becomes a problem, I'll have to deal with it. More importantly, you have to deal with David knowing that you're Kryptonian."
"Doesn't it bother Lois that you're Kryptonian?"
"No. Not at all. In fact, she had a crush on Superman long before she fell in love with me."
"It bothers me. Maybe that's another reason why I never contacted you. I was mad at you when I figured we were the same."
"Mad at me?"
"My parents and I had believed I was some kind of medical experiment. They figured the capsule they found me in was something a government was trying to launch into space, but failed. They adopted me because they were afraid I would be abused or sent into space alone. They kept me hidden inside a very warm family.
"When you appeared and I realized we had the same powers, I lost my mythology. I wasn't a human experiment, a human being. Instead, I was an alien from outer space. I was a little green man…okay, woman. There was nothing my parents could say or do to make me see that I was the same person after that revelation. How could I be? I wasn't me anymore."
Anna stood up and began to walk around the sofa, her hand brushing its back. "Eventually I was going to contact you. I was waiting for the right time." She stared at the family pictures on the wall. Lois and Clark's wedding picture, his parents, her parents. "How do you know you're Kryptonian?"
"Not long after Superman appeared, I was tracking down a story about a rogue government agency, Bureau 39. Lois found their warehouse filled with so-called UFOs. I found my space ship there with the S-shield on it. Inside the capsule there was a globe. We believe it was the guidance system, and somehow, it told me, Krypton. I was from Krypton. I took the globe home.
"A number of months later, the globe lit up and projected a series of holographic images of my birth parents explaining who I was and where I came from."
"Wow! I've seen the capsule that my parents found me in, but there was nothing there to indicate where I came from. Not even any writing."
"The space ship I found in China didn't have a globe or anything else that might indicate where it came from. It didn't have the S-shield."
"Neither did mine." Anna returned to the couch. "Where are the remains of the baby you found?"
"After Dr. Klein finished his tests, I flew the capsule and the remains to my parents' farm where I buried it deep in the ground."
"I'd like to visit it. Pay my respects."
"I'll take you, anytime you want."
Anna paused and thought about it. She did want to pay her respects to someone who was connected to her.
David didn't remember what led up to the waters parting, but he did know the exact moment. The car clock had read 3:03 p.m. He had been driving home from the airport, and when two and two suddenly made four, he felt as if he had been sucker punched. His breathing became so irregular, he had to pull over to the side of the road to catch his breath. When his mind was on his breathing, he was fine, but when he began to rethink his conclusions, he began gasping.
His mind clung to the moment when Anna's hand had covered her mouth, and he had realized that she was his Cinderella floating up in the air, away from him, then quickly darting away. He looked at the clock. 3:03 p.m. He knew that Anna was like Superman. She had the same powers as the superhero did. He'd seen her use them at the lake. She had swum faster than any human being could. She had floated up into the air. Wasn't that like flying? She was fast, and she had used her eyes to warm and dry him. Anna wasn't a witch; she was a superwoman.
David leaned his head against the steering wheel and just absorbed that information.
No wonder she always wore her hair the same way. She was invulnerable…except she had gotten a hair cut in Metropolis…after she had been sick.
"Okay. Good. That means she's not Kryptonite. She just got sick." he said out loud.
No. Not Kryptonite. Kryptonian. Kryptonite was that rock he'd read about. The rock that could hurt Superman. Too much of it could kill him. A little made him vulnerable…vulnerable enough for a hair cut?
David felt his chest tighten and his heart beat faster. Rubbing his temples where he was beginning to feel a headache coming on, he pictured the afternoon at the TAL warehouse where first Clark Kent wasn't feeling well, and then Anna…
"Oh…my…god." David's heart jumped into his throat. "Breathe. Slow down. Count to ten…" David listened to his heart slowly return to its normal rhythm. "Clark Kent is Superman," he whispered. "I don't think I'm supposed to know that." He shook his head.
David waited for his hands to stop trembling, then very methodically, pulled his car onto the highway and carefully drove to the first coffee shop on the road. There was no way he could drive home now.
Lois sat at the kitchen table with her laptop typing a follow-up on the Hamilton murder. Clark and Anna had said they were flying to Smallville to see the grave where the baby remains and space ship were buried. Lois, lost in her work, had no idea of how long they were gone when she heard Clark's characteristic whoosh. She sat back from her computer, waiting for her husband to join her. It didn't take more than a few seconds.
"How did it go?" she asked.
"Hard to describe," he said hesitatingly. "We'd spent a lot of time talking about our childhood, especially what it was like getting our powers, but when we visited the grave, neither of us had anything to say."
"Then I showed her the globe. I felt bad for her. She'd never had any sign from her birth parents. She had no idea about the world she came from."
"It's the not knowing…" Lois said remembering the time when Clark was writing a series about adoption.
"And she really didn't know. It came as a shock to her to realize that the mythology she and her parents had created was the wrong one."
"How did her parents feel about her coming from another planet?"
"She said they were fine with it. She was their daughter, and all that mattered was that she had come into their lives."
"Sounds like they're nice people."
"I think they are. What I don't understand is why Anna's so hard on herself."
Lois didn't answer immediately. Instead, she saved what she was working on and led Clark into the living room where she sat on sofa, patting the seat indicating that Clark should sit beside her.
"I've thought about this. I think that Anna's problem is that she's female."
"Female? How does that make a difference?"
"I may be projecting my life on her, but I can see connections. When I was a teenager, I was pretty smart…"
"One of the many qualities I love about you."
"Thank you, dear," she said placing a small peck on his cheek, "but I'm not sure I would have believed you when I was fifteen or sixteen. I wanted to be the same as all the other girls around me, and I didn't want the boys to be intimidated by me."
"So what did you do?"
"I got 90 on the math test instead of 100, or I let Tommy Winters beat me at chess when I knew I could beat him."
"That's not the Lois Lane I know."
"You're right. At some point I understood that I wasn't pleasing anyone, especially not myself. If I wanted to get ahead in the world, I had to be myself and not hide my abilities."
"Which I personally find very attractive."
"But for Anna, I think as a teen-aged girl, she had more to hide than I did. Those superpowers developing made her faster, stronger, tougher than all the other kids around her. Boys would find her pretty intimidating."
"She hid it, though."
"How did you feel when you couldn't get a touchdown each and every time you were out on the field?"
"I'd think so. Then, why did you play football, or any other sport, as a teenager?"
Clark thought a moment before he spoke. "I enjoyed being part of a team. It didn't make me feel so different, so nerdy, and I liked the challenge of trying to control my abilities on the playing field." He paused. "And, to be honest, I had to be better than a decent player in order to get an athletic scholarship. We needed the money."
"Anna gave up sports before she went to college."
"Actually, we talked about that. Canadian universities don't have athletic scholarships. She needed to work on her academics."
"But did she say why else she gave up sports."
"She mentioned that as she got older and stronger, the level of competition in girls' leagues wasn't as high as in boys', and she didn't want to stand out playing better than boys."
"She didn't want to be different than her friends…her girlfriends. Clark, what was the first thing Anna did when she felt better after the Kryptonite exposure."
Clark glared at Lois, not following where she was going.
"She got a haircut," Lois said. "Now, when I had my hair cut short, it wasn't a big deal. I made a decision that I would look more stylish with shorter hair, and then I followed through."
"I don't understand."
"I can get my hair cut whenever I want. Anna could never have what other women think nothing of like the latest hair style or a simple manicure or pedicure…"
"She couldn't be the same as her friends…"
"Exactly. And what is important to teen-age girls is that they fit in with their friends."
"But she's not a teenager anymore."
"Who knows how seemingly unimportant ideas influence us as we grow older?"
"They'll dissect me like a frog," Clark muttered.
"My dad used to warn me not to say anything about myself or bad men would come and take me away and dissect me like a frog. That image has always stuck with me, made me afraid to tell anyone the truth about myself. That's why it was so hard for me to tell you, who deserved to know more than anyone else, the truth about myself."
"You had problems being truthful with me, but unlike Anna, you decided that you wanted to have a family life. Anna, I believe, has decided that a family life isn't in the cards for her. So, rather than having a relationship with David, it's easier to push him away. That way she doesn't have to tell him and possibly be rejected."
"You are a brilliant woman, Lois Lane," Clark said, placing his wife on his lap and kissing her warmly on the lips. They sat together, Lois nibbling gently on Clark's neck, wordlessly, enjoying their time together. But Lois's mind returned to the article she had been finishing when Clark came home.
"Honey, would you mind looking at the article I was writing. Something seems to be missing."
"Do I have to move?" Clark asked.
"Yes. The laptop won't come to you unless telekinesis is one of your powers."
Clark wrapped his arms around Lois. "Just a couple of more minutes," he drawled as he returned to kiss her.
The couple of minutes turned into a few more. As Clark's hands began to creep under her shirt and begin to stroke her back, she knew that if she didn't stop him immediately, she wouldn't want to stop him at all.
"Clark," she whispered in his ear, "Please. I promise we'll finish what we've started here later."
"Something like that," she said, reluctantly sliding off his lap.
Clark followed her to the desk, sat down in front of the screen and began to read.
"Good. Good," he mumbled as he scrolled down the page, occasionally typing in a change. When he finished reading, he leaned back in the chair. "It's good, but something's missing."
"I know. That's what's bothering me, but I think we have everything. The 'who', 'what', 'where', when'…"
"Why Jeremy Hamilton was murdered."
"Exactly," Clark said.
"Newbury admitted that he worked for Marcy Turcovic, but Turcovic hasn't told the police who gave her orders to hire Newbury. Why is she willing to take the fall for someone else?"
"I don't think there's enough money to compensate for living fifteen or twenty years in prison."
"We need to look closer at Marcy, who she works for, where she gets her money?"
"We should look around Huntsville where Jeremy was killed. Maybe Anna missed something."
Clark saved the story, and shut down the computer. "We can't do anything tonight. Let's talk to Perry about going up to Huntsville for a few days and look around. Meanwhile, I think this foreplay has been going on long enough." He effortlessly swept his wife in his arms and carried her upstairs.
A week had passed since his discovery, and there were times when David stopped dead in his tracks. Thoughts of Clark Kent or sightings of Superman on the news reminded him of his discovery. He thought about the modest man who let his dynamic wife appear to overshadow him in their daily life. And in that modesty, there was a strength that David tried to comprehend. What difficulties did that man have? He'd always assumed that Superman arrived on earth four years earlier when he made his first appearance saving the Messenger, but now he thought Superman, or rather Clark Kent, must have grown up on earth, had a family history, parents, siblings, much like Anna. What was it like for him to grow up knowing he was so different? How did he manage to be so normal, for if there was any word to describe the Clark Kent whom he'd met in Metropolis, it was normal. He liked the man. What had made Clark choose to become Superman? To expose himself to the world that way?
And there were times when he stopped as he thought about Anna, who had the same abilities as Superman, as Clark Kent, but had chosen another road to travel. Or had she? Who was she really? How much did he know about her, and how much did she keep hidden?
The woman he had fallen in love with was beautiful, headstrong, compassionate, determined, and intelligent. Did knowing that she was from Krypton, a different planet, a different species change her? He thought about that for a while, but it didn't. She was the same person she had been last week. But, perhaps, her being Kryptonian explained why she kept telling him that it was impossible for them to date…the complications she referred to.
He knew a little about her family background, but it must have been difficult for her to grow up knowing she was so different from her parents and her brothers. He thought about his cousin, Simone, a very bright, talented girl, who struggled through adolescence, becoming anorexic, shutting off her parents and friends who tried to help her. Simone had only seen how overweight she was, how unacceptable her body was, and she believed that others saw the same image.
Did Anna worry about her image as well? David wondered how similar Anna's physiology was to human women. Outwardly, she looked the same. He definitely had had no suspicious that she was different when they had made love.
He had so many questions.
The cold lake water washed over Anna's skin as she plunged deeper into the lake, the early morning sun's rays illuminating the murky bottom. For the past several mornings, she had awakened early, leaving her home for Loon Lake where she had carefully explored the lake bottom looking for answers. Newbury had said that he had seen Hamilton throwing something into the lake. She thought an archaeologist would have an interesting time interpreting what she had already found: a punctured water-wing, a pair of sunglasses, a wallet and more than a few condoms. On her last dive, she had pulled up a camping shovel, the kind that folded over at the blade. But the shovel didn't hold the answer of what Hamilton was doing at the lake.
And that was what was bothering her. Even though Newbury and Turcovic were in the process of being extradited to Canada, Anna still wanted to know why they had killed Hamilton. Where was the notebook he was after, and what was in it?
Anna got out of the water and wrapped herself in a large towel. She wasn't sure if she was so keen on finding some evidence in the lake or she was hiding from her own thoughts about David.
She couldn't blame David for what had happened; she could only blame herself. After all, she was the one who had tricked him that night last fall. She had always known that when he found out about who that 'woman' had been, he would be mad at her. She wanted to be able to regret that night, but she couldn't. She had made love with David, something she had only dreamed of doing, something she believed would never be repeated.
Now, he avoided her…and she was always conscious of where he was so she could get out of his way.
At least when she was searching for clues under the cool water, she concentrated on something other than David Morrow. And she did want to solve the mystery. The one thread hanging loose bothered her.
After a quick shower at home, Anna decided to get a coffee and muffin at Timmy's. The swim and fresh air had made her hungry. She was surprised to see Lois and Clark at a table having a cup of coffee. They waved her over.
"You were the last people I expected to see here," Anna said as she approached their table.
"We were just waiting for a decent hour to visit your office," Clark said. "Join us and we'll tell you why we're here."
Anna sat down with them.
"Good coffee," Lois said.
"The best," Anna said lifting her large cup to show them how much she liked Timmy's coffee. "I come here at least once a day."
"I can see why," Lois said, taking a sip of her coffee.
"So why are you two here? Summer cottage season doesn't start for another month or so. Now all we're famous for is our black flies."
"Not pleasure, Anna, business," Clark said.
"We're not satisfied that we've told the whole story of Jeremy's murder," Lois said. "It's a senseless killing without a motive…"
"Why was Jeremy up here?" Clark asked.
"And why did Newbury follow him?"
"I've been thinking of the same thing," Anna said. "I've spent a few mornings sifting through the rocks, sand and pop-culture debris at the bottom of Loon Lake looking for some indication of why Hamilton was up here. I haven't found anything."
"Maybe we can work on this together," Clark said. Then he lowered his voice. "We can double our special efforts."
"Why don't we go back to my office where we can come up with a strategy," Anna said.
Anna's office hadn't changed since she was last there, Lois thought, except that in the middle of it lay a nondescript camping shovel in a large plastic bag.
The three stood around Anna's computer where she had called up a topographic map of the area. Lois had moved away from the screen knowing that staring at a map wasn't going to help her think. She, personally, would prefer to see the actual area, the twigs and leaves covering the earth, the naturally worn pathways, the lake where Anna had found the shovel. Then she would scour every inch…
"Let's assume that these are areas that Hamilton visited." Anna used her finger to point on her screen. "His car was found here, this is the end of the dock, and this is where his body was found. I'd recommend that we use those three areas as the perimeter of a triangle and search for the notebook."
"If there even was a notebook," Lois said a bit cynically.
"We have to assume there was; otherwise, we'd have nothing to go on," Anna said.
"I assume the two of you are going to use your vision gizmos to find it."
"Gizmos?" Anna asked.
"Lois sometimes has a funny way of describing some of my powers."
"Then gizmos it is."
Once Anna had made arrangements for her absence in the office, she drove Lois and Clark in her patrol car to Loon Lake.
"Do you use your powers a lot in your job?" Lois asked.
"Whenever I need. I don't not use them. In fact, other than flying, I use my talents, my powers, whenever I need to. I'm not going to waste them; that's for sure. I just use them as surreptitiously as possible. Using my x-ray vision here will be easy."
"How will you explain it if we find something?"
"Simple. Either excellent police work or dumb luck. We started digging in the right place."
Lois nudged Clark. "At least she thinks about her excuses ahead of time."
Anna parked the patrol car in almost the same spot where Hamilton's Honda was found. She flattened the topographical map on the hood of the car as she and Clark decided on where to begin. Lois, not having x-ray vision, chose to wander down to the lake and enjoy the scenery, and see if she could see anything in the brush that might be a clue.
Several hours had passed before Lois heard Superman's whoosh. Clark was in front of her.
"Anna found something. You wanna come and watch?"
Clark picked her up and floated her about a mile from where she had been enjoying the serenity of the lake waters lapping up against the narrow sandy shore.
"It's about three feet down," Anna said staring at some twigs and leaves. "Shall I do the honours?"
"Go ahead," Clark said.
Anna took the shovel she kept in her trunk and quickly dug a small hole in the ground. She bent down and retrieved a plastic bag containing a package. Wearing gloves, she carefully undid the brown wrapping paper.
Clark put on the gloves Anna had handed him and removed a three- ring binder from the paper. He flipped through the pages. After a pause, he handed the notebook to Anna. "These are Emil Hamilton's notes for cloning," he said sadly.
"Are you sure?" Lois asked.
"I've read them before." "But he said he'd destroyed them," Lois said petulantly.
"I guess he didn't."
"Is this the cloning you told me about, Lois?" Anna asked.
"Yes. But Emil had told us that he'd destroyed his notes," Lois answered. "He lied."
"Someone must have known the notebook still existed and that the cloning worked, but who?" Clark said.
"We wrote a follow-up article about the destroyed notes," Lois said.
"Several possibilities," Anna said. "Hamilton might have told someone or someone never knew he had destroyed the notes."
"Who?" Lois and Clark asked in tandem.
"Whatever happened to the gangster clones?" Anna asked.
"They went to prison. As far as I know those who are alive are still there," Clark said.
Lois pulled out her cell phone. "No reception here," she said tapping at the device in her hand. "If they're smart enough to design cell phones, shouldn't they be able to work when you need them? It's no big deal when it works in the city where there are phones at every corner and in every store. You can borrow anyone's phone or drop a quarter in a pay phone, but out here, in the middle of nowhere, where you really need a phone? Nothing. Nada…"
"And the ability to babble without taking a breath, Anna McLaren, is one of Lois Lane's superpowers," Clark said giving his wife a playful hug.
"Clark, this isn't funny. I wanted to call Jimmy to research the clones, see who they've been in contact with."
"You can use my satellite phone in the car," Anna said, pointing Lois toward the car..
Lois asked Jimmy to search the clones while Anna and Clark did a final search of the area, just in case they had forgotten something. Finding nothing else, they then returned to town.
Anna had invited Lois and Clark back to her home nestled among white birch and tall evergreen trees, facing Loon Lake. The home, a summer cottage, had been enlarged and modernized over the years to accommodate the growing McLaren family. When Anna had decided to move to Huntsville, the house was winterized. Anna explained all of this to Lois and Clark, who were sitting in the large living room on the well-worn sofas. "My brothers come up over the summer months with their families. On busy week-ends the place is overflowing with their kids."
When Anna had suggested bringing in Chinese food from the local take-out, Clark volunteered to bring food from his favourite Chinese restaurant. When he left to pick up the order, Lois had told Anna that he flew to Shanghai regularly for the most delicious dumplings she'd ever had.
After dinner, Anna set up her laptop in the living room and let Lois navigate to her e-mail to download the information Jimmy had sent her.
"I'm rather impressed with the Daily Planet's databank," Anna said as she perused the files on the screen.
"That's not from the Daily Planet. It's from Jimmy Olsen who does a little bit of everything. He knows his way around cyberspace better than most professionals," Clark said.
"He's rarely disappointed us," Lois added.
Lois looked over the list of infamous gangster names who were imprisoned after their capture. In the last three years, they had spent most of their time in different prisons, separated from each other. Basically each had remained in the same cell with a little movement for hearings. Few of them had had visitors except for their lawyers and psychologists who were trying to rehabilitate them. Three had died of heart failure due to inadequate cloning procedures.
"There has to be a lot of money behind this," Clark ventured. "Otherwise, how would Turcovic and Newbury have gotten paid?"
"But the contacts these gangster clones had were very limited. The lawyers and psychologists were appointed by the courts, and even if they hadn't, the clones don't have contacts in the outside world anymore," Lois said.
"So we look for another angle…" Anna said.
"Wait a minute," Lois interrupted. "This might be something." Clark stood behind Lois and looked over her shoulder to where she was pointing on the screen.
"They let Bonnie Parker work in the prison infirmary?" Anna asked after she'd come closer to the screen.
"I guess…" Clark started scrolling down the page quickly and speed reading. "And look who was in the infirmary."
"Amber Lake? Who's that?" Anna asked.
"Tim and Amber Lake are a rich couple, now in prison for killing Bad Brain Johnson and kidnapping Lois and Superman…"
"Clark! Tim and Amber Lake. T…A…L. That must be them." Lois got up and went to the phone. After punching in the phone number, she stood, tapping her toes, waiting.
"Finally," she said into the mouthpiece. "Jimmy, I need you to look up and see if you can find a link to Tim and Amber Lake." She hung up the phone after telling Jimmy where he could contact her, then joined the others.
"The Lakes are a possibility. They had stolen Kryptonite from STAR Labs." Clark remembered the Kryptonite Tim and Amber had sent Perry along with Superman's cape to prove that the superhero was dead. "He must have kept some back and that's what affected us in the warehouse."
"But didn't Tim die a year ago or so?" Lois opened her eyes wide and stared at Clark. "That's it!"
"Lois, find the date when Amber was in the infirmary and check it against the date when Tim had died," Clark said.
The only sound in the room was the tapping on computer keys…and then silence.
"Yes! Yes! Yes!" Lois squealed.
"Way to go, Lois," Clark said patting her back then bending over to give her a kiss.
"I'm glad you two are having a good time. Would either of you care to let me join the party?"
"Sorry," said Clark. "We got carried away. Let me explain. Tim and Amber Lake were very wealthy. Tim had inherited a lot of money from his father, and then he and Amber had invested it wisely. The two were obnoxiously in love."
"Being in the same room with them could make you throw up," Lois added.
"The two were inseparable. I'm sure they were both devastated when they ended up in different prisons."
"… with no conjugal visits."
"This is what I think happened. When Tim died, Amber must have been heart-broken. My guess is that she ended up in the infirmary where she met Bonnie Parker. The two of them spoke, and Bonnie told Amber she was a clone, but she was still Bonnie Parker."
"So Amber decided she had to get Tim back…no matter what the cost?" Anna asked.
"Exactly," Lois and Clark said at the same time.
Their conversation was interrupted by the phone. When Anna answered, she immediately handed the phone over to Lois who nodded and smiled as she listened to Jimmy. "Yes!" she said as she hung up the phone. "That was Jimmy. He was able to find a connection between the Lakes and TAL. Once he knew what he was looking for, it was easy. He's sending us the information as we speak."
"And now we have a motive." Anna picked up the phone and called the prosecutor.
A few minutes later, she joined Lois and Clark on the sofa. "We can now leave the details in the hands of the lawyers, she said. "There's just one thing I'd like to know."
"Sure, anything," Lois said.
"Do you two always work like that? It was something else to watch."
"It took us a while, but we learned that together we're stronger than one of us alone," Clark said.
"Thanks for dinner," Lois said, getting up. "It's time for us to go home now. We have a story to write." She stepped over to Anna and hugged the woman. "Stay in touch, Anna. You're family to Clark and me now."
"I will. It's been a pleasure meeting both of you." She hugged Clark and kissed him on the cheek. "Before you go, there's a rock on the other side of the lake. Check out the Northern Lights from there. The show should begin shortly."
Anna stood at the door. Clark walked down the stairs and spun into his Superman suit. He then lifted Lois in his arms and the two took off, heading to the rock.
Lois and Clark sat on the rock overlooking the lake. In the distance, over the darkened trees, a green light rippled over the night sky like a flag waving in the wind. Awed by the green lights turning luminescent blue and then pink, Clark put his arm around Lois, drawing her closer.
"Nature always amazes me," Clark said.
They leaned into each other while watching the spectacle for a few minutes before Lois broke the comfortable silence.
"Feels good to tie up the ends of a story."
"Feels good just sitting here with you in my arms."
"Do you think we'll hear from Anna, again?" Lois asked.
"I don't know. She said she'd keep in touch." Clark pulled his wife closer and placed a kiss on her head. "She said she was thinking about the superhero business, but she wasn't sure she'd feel good in a pair of primary-coloured tights."
"I got the feeling she started liking the freedom of using her powers more openly."
"I did, too. Now all she needs is a reason to get her going."
"Did you have a reason for becoming Superman other than wanting to help without losing your life as Clark Kent?"
"Definitely. I wanted to stay in Metropolis, near a certain beautiful, pushy reporter."
Lois placed her hands on her husband's face and kissed him gently. He, in turn, held her closer and deepened the kiss.
"Let's go home, my beautiful, pushy reporter."
Clark, with Lois in his arms, rose into the shifting colours of the night and headed south for Metropolis.
Anna took her time dusting the books one at a time. Now that the Hamilton case was solved, keeping busy, filling her day with work and then inventing household chores kept her mind off David. When she had returned to Huntsville, two weeks earlier, she had a lot of paper work to catch up on. It was that and the small details of her job that kept her occupied. At home, when she decided to come home rather than go for a beer with her fellow cops or a movie with friends, she had managed to clean her house thoroughly. She had dug up new flower beds, even though she really didn't care for gardening, cut down some trees in the brush behind her home, put in the dock for the summer and repainted the outside of the house.
As she dusted the knickknacks on the shelf, she debated rewallpapering the kitchen. The door bell ringing came as a surprise in the quiet house, especially since her hearing hadn't registered anyone coming to the door. Wondering who was visiting her so late in the evening, she peered through the door.
He stood nervously hopping from one foot to the next, fiddling with a large… a very large bouquet of flowers. What was he doing at her door? And how could she open it wearing a pair of scruffy cut-off jeans and an old t-shirt?
"Just a minute," she yelled out and quickly flew up to her room, spun into a pair of slacks and a blouse, pulled her hair out of the knot she'd made with a scrunchie and let it flow onto her shoulders. Before going downstairs, she checked her face in the mirror. A little eyeliner and some blush. "Good enough," she said to her image.
Thirty seconds later she was downstairs, opening the door. "David," she whispered, "What are you doing here?"
"Do you mind if I come in?"
When Anna nodded her head and opened the door wider, David followed her into the house. He handed her the flowers.
"Are these for me?"
"I don't understand."
"Neither do I. That's why I'm here." He shrugged his shoulders as if he didn't quite understand what he was doing.
Anna, not clear what she was supposed to say or do, fidgeted for a second, and then took the flowers into the kitchen. David followed wordlessly watching while she found a vase, filled it with water and arranged the flowers inside it. Anna knew David was directly behind her. She wondered if he could hear her heart pounding or see her hands shaking. David's visit was a mystery to her, but she hoped that the flowers meant something positive.
"Coffee?" Anna asked.
"No. Not now. We need to talk."
Anna took the vase of flowers into the living room where she sat down on the sofa. To her disappointment, David sat on the chair facing her.
"David, I feel terrible about what happened. You've every right to be mad at me. I know I was wrong."
"Anna, I need to know why?"
Staring at the pattern on the pillow she had placed on her lap, she said, "Nothing noble about why I came to you at the lake."
She had a choice. Up until this point, by not telling David who she was, she had lied to him causing their fight in the hotel. She could continue to lie, which definitely wouldn't make matters better, or she could tell him the truth. Their relationship couldn't get any worse than it was now. They were avoiding each other, not speaking. But was she ready to tell someone about herself? David sat across from her, his eyes boring into her. It was obvious that he'd figured out, at least part of who she was already. She closed her eyes and for a brief second, Lois and Clark, sitting together on their sofa, flashed through her mind.
Anna sighed. "It wasn't anything I'd planned. I like to swim through the lakes at night when no one's around. It's quiet and peaceful…and I don't have to control myself, pretend I'm someone I'm not."
"That makes sense."
"That night, everything was fine until I realized that someone was watching me. It scared me at first…" Anna began pulling a thread in the pillow. "…until I realized it was you. I recognized your voice. And, for some reason, it didn't bother me." Anna bit her bottom lip in concentration. "When I saw you sitting on the rock in nothing but a towel, my imagination went a little…wild. I got this idea that I would come to you and we'd make love.
"Of course, my sensible voice started a major argument, but…have you ever looked at something you're not allowed to do or have, like a piece of rich, dark chocolate cake, and you know it's not good for you and you know it's wrong, but you eat it anyway? Well, you were that chocolate cake. I knew it was wrong, that I wasn't being fair to you, but I'd…never made love with anyone…I was curious…and I thought I could get away with it…"
"You could have gone with anyone? Why me?"
"I trusted you…"
"I wanted you. I wanted to make love to you. I've had other opportunities, but I wasn't…compelled in the same way I was that night. The chocolate cake wasn't from a mix and it was made of the freshest ingredients and the icing was awfully, awfully tempting."
"Nice metaphor, but in the end you deceived me."
"I know. And you have every right to be angry with me. There is no excuse for what I did, but you asked me why and I'm trying to explain."
"So, let me see if I get this right. You saw me at the lake and decided that you wanted to have sex with me because you'd never had sex before."
Anna could see David squeezing the arms of the chair he was sitting in. The colour on his face was deepening, and she could hear the tightening of his voice. How was she going to explain it all to him, and make him understand? She swallowed hard. Maybe it was too late to make him understand. Maybe all she could do was tell him the truth.
"It wasn't as simple as you make it sound. You were right in some ways back in Metropolis. I was playing games with you."
Anna hugged the pillow to her chest and buried her chin in it. "I love you," she murmured, "but I knew that because I was so different, I couldn't have a real relationship with a man. Who knew what was going to happen to me tomorrow… or what I had to offer? I didn't want to lead you on, to date you, to let you fall in love with me…to let me fall in love with you. I wasn't real, after all. But that one night, I thought I could be invisible. It wouldn't be me, but I could have, if only for a few minutes, what others had."
The room was silent.
"It was too late," David said softly. "I'd fallen in love with you already. That's what made that night so awful."
"Awful?" Anna sucked in her breath. "I thought it was good…" she whispered.
"Anna, the sex was good. But I felt like I was cheating on you. And as much as I rationalized it, that feeling never went away."
David looked so pale. Anna wanted to touch his arm, but was afraid he would back away. Not knowing what else to say but what she felt, she murmured her mantra, "I'm so sorry, David. You have every right to be mad at me."
"I have another question."
"Who are you?"
Anna moved the pillow to the sofa and sat up straighter. "I'm Pauline and Brad McLaren's adopted daughter. I'm a university graduate and an officer in the Ontario Provincial Police…"
"No. I mean who are you really?"
"That's who I am. I haven't lied to you about that. Who've you've seen is who I am."
"And you're not hiding anything about yourself?" David probed.
"Well, of course I am. Aren't we all? We hide our fears and our insecurities…"
"Anna, please." David raised his arms in frustration. "You're playing games, again. I know who you are."
"Do you? Do you really?" Anna felt her voice get louder. "Or have you made some generality about who you think I am and what that means?"
"I just want to understand…"
"What? That I'm not human. That I'm some extra-terrestrial? An alien? Well, that may answer your questions, but it has nothing to do with who I am." Anna threw the cushion on the floor and stood up. David had finally admitted the real reason for his visit. She wasn't surprised. "I guess you've heard what you want to. Now you can take your flowers and go." Anna's chest was heaving as she began to remove the flowers from the vase.
Anna felt his hand on her arm. She wanted to swat it away, but she held back. He turned her around until she was facing him.
"Don't put words in my mouth," he said.
"That's what you're thinking, isn't it?"
"Listen. You have to listen to what I'm saying." He stared at Anna waiting for an answer. She felt her breathing subside and she nodded at him. "Good. I came here tonight because I realized that I could be angry with you, very angry, but I couldn't live without you in my life. I love you…"
Anna gasped. "You still love me even after what I did?" she whispered.
"Yes." He took her hands in his. "Anna, these last few weeks have been very difficult knowing you were around the corner, but I wouldn't talk to you or even argue with you. Are you listening?" Anna again nodded her head. "I love you, and the idea of you not being a part of my life is scary."
Anna lowered her head, feeling the tears well in her eyes.
"But I need to know…to understand…who you are. We can't have a relationship if you keep part of yourself a secret…"
"Anna, who are you?" David whispered.
Anna clenched her fists. Her mouth felt dry. The whole truth, she thought.
"My parents found me in a capsule. We thought I was an experiment, but now I guess I'm Kryptonian. I have what the newspapers call superpowers, but I'm just Anna McLaren…Sergeant Anna McLaren who I've always been."
David turned away from her, holding onto the back of the armchair.
"If that disgusts you, then…too bad. That's who I am, and you wanted to know."
David turned around and looked at her. "Disgusts me? Whatever gave you that idea?"
"You turned away from me. You can't look at me."
"No. Don't read your agenda into what I'm doing. As a matter of fact, I was digesting what you'd just told me. I guessed, more or less at the hotel, but I didn't quite believe it. Now I do. Anna," he said, turning back to her and gently grasping her shoulders, "I was entranced by this fairy princess at the lake, but I fell in love with Sergeant McLaren. This just means that I can have my fairy princess, too."
Anna wasn't clear about what she was hearing from David. He had said he loved her. He had said he accepted the fairy princess as well, but she wasn't a fairy princess, she was a space alien.
"I'm not a fairy princess. I'm not a storybook character. I just want to be a normal person, but I'm not."
"You are very normal, Anna, very human."
"I don't know if I can have a normal life."
"Clark thinks he can. Why can't you? At least he's trying."
Anna gasped. He knew about Clark. "What do you mean, 'Clark thinks he can'?"
"I figured out that Clark is Superman. The kryptonite. It affected you, and it affected him. I saw it."
"It's not good for you to know that. It's dangerous."
"I'm not planning on telling anyone other than you, I promise. But the point is that he fell in love and got married. He's having a normal life. So can you."
David gently rubbed his hands on Anna's arms. She could feel her body relaxing. Maybe there was hope for her. She'd been trying to convince herself that she had the right to love and to have a lover. Knowing Clark had married a woman who accepted him as he was told her that there could be a man who could love her, and she did want that man to be David. He was intelligent, made her laugh, wasn't frightened off by her, and if anything, he was persistent. He knew exactly what he wanted and went after it…her.
His hands left her arms and caressed the back of her neck. He leaned in closer.
Anna felt her heart beat louder. He was going to kiss her. If she wanted him to be a part of her life, she couldn't stop him this time. She could feel his warm breath. Maybe this wasn't the time to think. Now was the time to feel. She closed her eyes and let David draw towards her. When his lips touched hers, warmth rippled through her. And she needed more. She wrapped her arms around him and let herself drown in his kisses.
They would work everything out. There was time to talk, to understand, to explore. As their kisses deepened, she knew instinctively that this would work.
Six Months Later
As soon as Superman heard about the mudslide in Peru, he soared into the air. It didn't take him long to reach the devastated area, but the sight in front of him stopped him dead in his aerial tracks. A flying person, covered from head to foot in black was plucking individuals from their mud and water drenched homes and flying them to safety. He flew to her and asked how he could help. The new superhero pointed to an area where Superman could see a number of people waving at him. He swooped down, lifted two up and flew them to safe ground.
Several hours later, all the inhabitants of the small village were safe in a make-shift hospital tent outside of their village. Superman and the other superhero had flown in enough water, food and medicine to keep the villagers for a day. Rescue workers had taken charge of the work that still had to be done.
The two superheroes accepted thanks from the villagers, and then Superman signalled his counterpart to follow him. The two took off into the sky and flew until they landed hundreds of miles away on an uninhabited island in the middle of Duck Lake. Superman sat down on a rock overlooking the lake and invited Anna to sit down beside him.
"What made you change your mind?" he asked skipping over any preliminaries.
"I always wanted to use my talents to help. This was the right time."
"How did it feel for you?"
Anna thought for a few moments before she answered Clark's question. "I'm having trouble sorting out the emotions. Exhilarating. Being able to fly there and help without keeping my talents hidden was freeing. I could do so much more than I'd ever done before."
Clark, understanding exactly how she felt, nodded his head. He remembered clearly the time he had saved the Messenger from exploding. Thinking back now, swallowing the bomb was a bit dramatic, but the freedom of showing Lois what he could do had been electric.
"But, on the other hand, the despair of the people…they'd lost everything. Some of them were so close to death, to being buried under the heavy mud… I felt heart broken."
"You saved them. That was the important part. Without you, many would have died."
"I have a lot to learn about this superhero work, don't I, Clark?"
"You have to learn it on the job…but it helps to have friends to talk to. I had my parents and Lois. You can always come to us."
"Thanks." Anna looked at her suit. "Look at this. It's so muddy. So's yours. Wanna take a quick swim around the lake?"
Clark got up. "Race 'ya."
Faster than lightning, the two rushed into the water and swam several laps around the lake. They then landed back at the rock and spun themselves dry.
"Nice suit you've got," Clark said.
"I made it myself," Anna said proudly, "Although David had some input on the design. Actually," Anna chuckled, "he wanted it tighter, but I said, 'absolutely not'."
"I knew you didn't like the primary colours on my suit, but why black?"
Anna blushed. "Black is always more slimming."
Clark laughed, until he realized that Anna was looking at him quizzically. "Don't let anyone tell you that you're not a human woman. You definitely think like one." Once Clark settled down, he asked, "Do you have a name?"
"That was a hard one for a while. I didn't want to be Superwoman. And then one night as I was looking into the sky, I decided on Aurora."
"Nice. That's the reason for the blue, green and pink stripe running across your chest and down the side of the pant leg?"
"Anna, can I use some of what you've told me for an article in the Planet to introduce you?"
"I really don't want media attention. I don't want to give interviews or appear at public functions…"
"You do as much as you want, but we can't keep you a secret now."
"I know, but I want you to understand that I'm not doing the crime fighting. That I leave to Sergeant Anna McLaren. Aurora will only help out at disasters."
Once again, Clark guffawed. "Welcome to my world."
Seeing Anna's bewilderment, he explained, "Referring to yourself in the third person. It's an occupational hazard."
Anna chuckled when she realized what she had done.
"As far as helping out only at disasters, that's your choice. As much as you do is enough. It's the idea of someone helping that gives people hope."
"I'll remember that." Anna stood up and faced Clark. "By the way, Clark, thank you for allowing me to tell David about the globe and your birth parents."
"No need to thank me, Anna. It's all you have for a Kryptonian history, and it isn't much."
"No it's not. For you either."
Clark nodded his head in agreement.
"David and I tried to come up with who my parents were, and who the baby's parents were."
"We figure that the technology had been developed and known on the planet. And more people than Jor-El must have been worried about the survival of the planet. Maybe there were some other scientists who were trying to save their children."
"Possibly. I don't think we'll ever know," Clark said.
"Neither do I, but it's nice to have a history."
They stood, looking over the lake for a few moments.
"I guess it's time to go home, now. David and I have plans for tonight." "Speaking of David, Lois and I are looking forward to your wedding."
"We're really happy that you can come. You're very special to us. Family."
The two superheroes hugged each other before taking off into the evening sky together and then separating, each heading home.
Thank you to Lynn M. While I was posting Northern Lights, I was rereading The Butterfly Legacy. In it she spoke of Clark's powers as talents. I hadn't realized that the concept had stuck in my head and wiggled out while I was writing.
Thank you to Chris Mulder for the name, Angelina's, for the romantic restaurant where Lois and Clark, and then Anna and David ate.