Guilty Until Proven Innocent

By ML Thompson <>

Rated: PG-13

Submitted: January 2006

Summary: Lois is found guilty by a jury of her peers. Superman is found guilty in the court of public opinion. Will either be vindicated? Or is the world destined to be without both Lois Lane and Superman?

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. For a complete disclaimer, go to: .

IMPORTANT (MUST READ TO UNDERSTAND THIS STORY): Before you read this story, it is important to understand one thing. In The People v. Lois Lane, Elroy Sykes was killed, and during the same episode, Lois Lane stood trial for his murder. In real life, much more time would have passed. So in my story, it is assumed that Elroy Sykes was shot and killed sometime during season three. Lois was arrested and released. She continued to work at the Daily Planet until she stood trial during The People v. Lois Lane in season four. This must be clearly understood or this story will get confusing. One more thing, I change the season for this story to early fall.

A GAME ('NAME THAT EPISODE'): When I was writing this story, it suddenly occurred to me that I might very well end up referring to something from every episode of Lois and Clark from the Pilot to Dead Lois Walking. Did I do it? I think I did. So… while you're reading, see if you can find something — a quote, a reference, a minor character, a plot, etc. — in this story for each episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman from the Pilot to Dead Lois Walking. I've listed the episodes at the end of this story to assist you if you want to play this game. If you can't find something from a particular episode, email me at

My thanks to Gerry and Carol for their Beta reading work. Not only did they help me with writing, grammar and plot holes, but on this story in particular, they both gave me some good ideas to help with my A-Plot when I got bogged down. Thanks so much, guys. Also, I'd like to thank everyone on the fanfic message boards for answering my many questions. Finally, thank you, Rachel, for editing this story for the archives.


"Will the defendant please rise?"

Lois trembled as she forced herself to her feet.

"Lois Lane, the people of Metropolis have found you… guilty of murder in the first degree."

The entire room became a whirl of colors as she fought to remain standing. Through the fog in which she was engulfed, Lois could hear startled gasps of disbelief. Then the noise of the courtroom was lost in the pounding behind her own eyes.

"Bailiff, take the defendant into custody. This court is adjourned."

She was barely aware of hands grasping her from behind, placing handcuffs on and forcing her from the room. It couldn't be. This was a dream — a nightmare. Any moment she was going to wake up. The judge hadn't really pronounced her guilty. And yet everyone… even Perry… even Perry had turned on her in the end.

She glanced over her shoulder as she was escorted none-too-gently through the doors at the side of the room, looking back into the courtroom for a friendly face but found none. No one was there for her. When it really mattered… Not even her mother and father had bothered to come.

Doors slammed closed behind her as the light began to fade. It was over. Everything was over before it really had a chance to begin.


Perry stared absently at the television screen, lost in thought as he watched District Attorney Clemmons give a press conference on the screen in front of him.

"…the tragic fact that Ms. Lane was one of our leading citizens is only further proof that in Metropolis, no one is above the law. I believe the sentence of death is wholly fitting. The crime itself, caught on video tape, the motive, established by the shocking testimony of Perry White, Editor of the…"

"Turn that noise off!" Perry shot back, sending one staffer scrambling to turn the television off while the rest headed back to their assigned desks.

Still, Perry stood, staring blankly at the dark television screen. He hadn't testified. He really hadn't. And he'd called in every favor he could, trying to persuade someone, anyone to get involved. He'd gone all the way up to the governor of New Troy. But no one was willing to help. No one. 'It would be political suicide' Perry had been informed more than once.

Making his way back into his office, he sank into the chair behind his desk, lost in a feeling of hopelessness. Lois Lane… his Lois Lane… the woman who was like a daughter to him, whom he had known since she was a journalism student hustling her first summer job to the remarkable reporter he knew today, had been sentenced to death. And he, it seemed, was powerless to stop it.

No. He was not going to think like that. He would find someone who would listen. He would make someone understand and intervene.


A shiver of fear rippled through Lois' body as a loud clang echoed through the enclosed place announcing the closing of the doors. Trapped. The short amount of time she'd spent in the jail before her trial felt like a picnic compared to this place — The Metropolis Women's Prison. Only the hardest criminals were trapped inside these walls. And the clanging of the doors told her in a way that even her conviction had not, that life as she knew it had effectively come to an end. Inside these walls was where she would spend whatever remained of her life.

No hero would come riding in on his white horse to sweep her into his arms and ride her off into the sunset. No such creature even existed — except, perhaps, in the twisted musings of fairytale authors.

No. She was trapped in a nightmare from which there was no hope of waking. The walls seemed to close around her. She'd never believed herself claustrophobic until this moment. Now the shrill noise in her head, the lack of oxygen in the room, the press of human flesh around her as she was crowded together with a dozen other women was overwhelming. She closed her eyes momentarily, trying to gain some semblance of control. She accidentally brushed against another woman and was shoved away as a spat curse was hurled in her direction. She quickly opened her eyes, glancing over at the woman she had touched, swallowing hard when she spotted a woman who was a good four inches taller and significantly more muscled glaring at her.

Fear. Fear of the unknown, certainly. Fear that every woman around her was a potential threat. If they all turned on her at once, what hope would she have? She wasn't supposed to be here. People like her did not end up in places like this. It was unimaginable. It was unthinkable. It was happening.

The stench of all the unwashed bodies which had passed through this place seemed to rise up around her, permeating every pore of her body, leaving her feeling as if she'd never be clean again.

"Okay! Strip!"

Lois looked in shock at the matron who had just entered the room. She thought she'd already experienced every humiliating procedure of being checked into jail. First, they locked you behind bars, effectively limiting your life to four square walls. Then they took away your humanity, treating you as little better than a piece of meat. But stripping in a crowd of women… This was new. Surely she couldn't mean it!


Lois was limping slightly as she entered her cell with four other women. She kept her eyes directed towards the floor, not wanting to meet anyone's eyes while still trying to recover from the check-in procedure. Cavity search. She'd heard the words before. She'd even thought she understood what they meant. But nothing could have prepared her from having cold hands on her, searching out the most private places of her body for contraband. She had simply had no idea how much the procedure would hurt — both physically and mentally. It was the final step in dehumanizing her, and she felt completely broken.

For years, criminals had tried to break her, without success. But in one day, the state had done what no criminal had ever been able to do. She had heard stories about prison changing a person, but until now hadn't really understood what that meant. This place was already changing her, making her feel less human and certainly less in control.

Another door clanged shut behind her and the guard walked away, leaving Lois standing where she was, working up the nerve to look at her new home.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't Lois Lane."

Lois' head shot up in shock. Not only had she been recognized, but the voice was familiar. Still, it took her a moment to put a name to the face. Or… Well, not exactly a name. She'd never heard the woman's name. But she did know where she knew her from. Lenny Stokes. She was one of the women Lois had dubbed the Amazon women. Officially, bouncers from Lenny Stoke's club. Unofficially… Lenny's Stoke's hit-men — or women.

"Okay, look," said Lois, desperately searching for a way to calm down the approaching woman. "We all have to live here. So what do you say we let bygones be bygones?"

"You're the reason I'm here. When the police took down Lenny Stokes, they arrested me, too."

"Well, now, you must admit that helping Lenny blackmail the city of Metropolis by destroying buildings using sound might have had something to do with why you were arrested." Lois began backing up until she was against the bars of the cell. "Not that I have anything against it, mind you. I've made some pretty stupid choices when it comes to men, too," Lois said, trying to back out of her previous statement when she saw the look in the eyes of the woman before her. "You know, it occurs to me that we've never been properly introduced. I'm Lois Lane and you are…"

"The last thing you're ever going to see."

"Sort of long. Could I just call you 'last thing?'"

The other woman struck out at Lois who ducked at the last moment, skirting under the woman's arm to put her behind her attacker. The woman's hand slammed into the bars with a force that made Lois cringe.

"What do you say we make a fresh start here?" Lois asked in desperation as the woman turned towards her, the look of fury on her face even more intense now. In the corner of her eye, Lois was aware of the other two women passively watching them as if enjoying a mildly entertaining sporting event. But she didn't have time to worry about them at the moment. "I really don't want to hurt you."

"Hurt me?"

"Well…" Lois gestured to the woman's bloody hand.

Three quick steps was all that was required for Lois' attacker to cross the room. She swung, once again. Lois ducked and struck out at the same time, using her best karate chop to hit the woman in the stomach. Lois flinched from the pain in her hand, losing her balance slightly from surprise at the woman's lack of reaction. That one second's hesitation allowed the woman's hand to plow into the side of Lois' head. A piercing pain shot through Lois.

She raised her hand, just in time to prevent a second blow from landing. Still, the force of the deflected punch was enough to knock Lois off her feet. She scrambled backwards, away from her attacker, hands and feet on the floor beneath her. Her hands being occupied was her fatal error as the woman's foot came up, plowing into her nose. And suddenly, almost mercifully, everything went black.


"Who did this to you?"

Lois regained consciousness slowly. Opening her mostly good eye, she tried to focus on the people standing beside her bed. Her bed and yet… she was not in her cell. Unlike the dull gray of the room she'd been in, the walls of this room were white.

"Where…" Her voice cracked, and she smacked her lips together in an attempt to create moisture. "Water?" she asked.

"Tell us who did this to you."

The voice of the woman in a guard's uniform was unsympathetic. Lois looked away, focusing on the far wall. Surely while she was lying there, every muscle in her body screaming out in pain, they could show a little compassion — recognize that she was, at the very least, human. Why should she answer their questions if they were determined to treat her as if she didn't matter anyway? Besides, she'd heard that fingering another inmate was the surest way to the grave. If she at least believed she could trust these people… But they saw her as no better than the other 'animals' inhabiting this place.

"No one," she finally said, looking back at the woman questioning her, defiance in her expression. "No one did this to me."

"Really." The resulting word showed a complete lack of belief. "Then how did this happen?"

Lois kept her eyes on the woman. "I fell off my cot," she said, daring the woman to challenge her.

"Hmph." The woman almost sounded as if she had expected the response.

Lois closed her eyes, taking a breath of relief when the woman and the two others with her turned and left. Lois just wanted to sleep, to stay in this bed. But… what were the chances that she wouldn't be returned to her cell? She felt a stab of fear. Even if that Amazon woman didn't attack her immediately, what happened when Lois had to sleep? No. No, she wouldn't think about that. She'd find a way. She just… She groaned. She just needed a little sleep. When she got a little stronger, she was certain she'd be able to think of something.

"How you feeling?"

Lois opened her eyes again, surprised by the gentle voice and hands as they helped her into a sitting position and put a glass of water into her trembling hands. Lois took a sip, flinching slightly as she swallowed.

"In addition to a broken nose, you've got a couple of cracked ribs," said the new woman.

"What's… What's your name?" Lois asked. It was the first time she'd asked for a person's name since she'd been brought to this place. It was also the first time she'd wanted to know a person's name. But then, this was the first person who had treated her like a human. She gave the young woman a wobbly smile.

"Sandy Steward."

Lois gasped slightly when she pulled in a breath.

"It will hurt for a while. But there's no permanent damage."

She released Lois, allowing her to lie down again.

"Great," muttered Lois. "But for now it hurts to breathe."

"It will take some time," Sandy responded, moving away from the bed to check on another patient.

Lois watched her go, but her mind was elsewhere. Time. It would take time. And then what? Going back to a cell with a woman who quite clearly wanted her dead. Lois closed her eyes. Later. She'd worry about that later.


Lois forced one foot in front of the other, ignoring everything around her except for the place where her next step was about to land. She was dreading going back to her cell. But after a short time in the infirmary, she'd been informed that the bed was needed. And since she was… How did they put it? Ambulatory? Why did that word make it sound as if she should be carried instead of walking? Anyway, since she was considered ambulatory, she was being moved back to her cell.

She wished she could have had a little bit more time. Time to heal. Time to figure out how she was going to deal with Ms. Amazon. It crossed her mind to wonder if she'd done the right thing — not telling the authorities that she'd been beaten up. She glanced briefly at her escort. Maybe she should tell her.

No. No. That was probably not a good idea. Did she really want the reputation of being a snitch in this place? Or what about solitary confinement? She wasn't entirely sure what that entailed — and wasn't entirely sure she wanted to know. It sounded safe enough. But the idea of spending the next few years without any human contact except for her guards… No. She'd rather avoid that — except, perhaps, as a last resort.

She came to a stop when her escort did, still not looking up.

"Well? Are you expecting an engraved invitation, princess?"

Lois looked around before glancing back at the guard in confusion. "But… I thought I was being taken to my cell?"

"This is your cell."

Lois' eyebrows rose.

"Someone must have decided that the princess needed her own cell."

Lois let out a breath of absolute relief. She didn't give a damn what her escort thought or what she was called… not as long as she could sleep at night without the fear of being stabbed in the back.

"Well, do I have to stand here all day, holding the door open?"

Lois quickly stepped into the cell, flinching slightly, but almost in relief, when the door clanged closed behind her. Standing in the entranceway, she checked out her new surroundings. The concrete room was no more than five feet by nine feet. It contained a single cot, a toilet — her very own toilet — and a small alcove which might service as a desk.

"Hey, you."

Lois spun around to see a small mirror being held just outside the cell and in it was reflected an African American woman who appeared, at least from the small reflection, to be quite a bit older than Lois.

"What's your name, child?"


"Well, Lois, it seems you and I are neighbors. I'm Wilma."


Lois curled up on her cot as tears began to form in the corners of her eyes. Never had she been as terrified. Maybe her immediate concern of being killed in her sleep had dissipated. But that didn't take away the overwhelming terror of what awaited her in the future. The state wanted to kill her. How had she got into this situation?

No. No. She was not going to think about that. She wasn't. After all, what good would it do to go through all of it again? It had been almost a year now since the death of Elroy Sykes. She'd gone to work and continued to write stories from the time she was originally released to the day of her trial. But whenever she wasn't working, the questions were always the same. They said time healed all wounds. But this one seemed to get deeper every time she went through the events of that horrible day. So why couldn't she stop dwelling on it? Sleep, when it finally came some time later, was a welcome escape.


Lois stepped into the park and looked around.

"Glad you made it."

Lois turned to find Sykes standing behind her holding a pistol.

"Hey, wait a minute, Sykes…" Lois began backing away.

"Relax, Lois," Sykes said, popping the clip out of the gun. "Not loaded. See? It's for demonstration purposes only. Here. You take it." He held the gun out to her.

"No thanks," Lois said, refusing to take the gun. "I don't do guns."

"What? Afraid you'll break a nail? You wanna know how Big Mo got offed, or don't you?" He tossed her the gun.

Catching the gun was nothing more than a reflex action.

"Okay, okay, now imagine I'm Big Mo," Sykes continued. "Six feet, five inches of repressed anger and body odor, right? And you're the guy whose facial features I'm gonna rearrange for rattin' on me — or so I think."

Lois' hands had dropped so that she was no longer pointing the gun at Sykes. He reached out, lifting the barrel so that the gun was once again pointing in his direction.

"You wanna hold that up a little higher? Thanks. You're a sport."

Lois held the gun as directed, just wishing he'd get on with his stupid story — and seriously starting to wonder if this was a waste of her time.

"Surprise, surprise, all of a sudden Zabrinski ain't so brave anymore. He starts pleading with the guy. 'No, don't shoot. I got a wife and kids at home. And then — bam! — that's it. Hasta la vista, baby!"

Lois jumped when the gun in her hands jerked back and a loud sound echoed in her ears. It took her a moment to realize what had happened. She took a stunned step forward, looking down in a daze to see…

…her lifeless eyes staring back at her.

Lois jerked awake, covered in sweat and breathing heavy. Every night. Every single night. And she still didn't know whether… No. No. She was not going to do this. She'd asked herself these same questions a hundred times before her trial. And there were no answers to be found. She knew that. And she was not going to drive herself crazy for whatever time she had remaining to her with questions that could never be answered.


Three Weeks Later

Clark stood, looking in awe at the globe in front of the Daily Planet. He could hardly believe the emotions running through him. The energy of the place seemed to draw him in, giving him the feeling that finally, after all this time, he was where he belonged.

He'd originally planned to come to Metropolis three years ago. He'd even managed to set up an interview with Perry White. But when his father had suffered a heart attack and undergone a triple bypass, his presence had been needed on the farm. He didn't regret his decision. Not one bit. Not if the alternative was that his parents would lose the farm. Still, he'd put his own life, his own dreams on hold to help out.

In fact, until about a week ago, he'd practically given up hope of ever working for the Daily Planet — until a notice that the Daily Planet was looking to fill a spot on the city beat had been posted in several major papers. When he'd first seen it, his heart had jumped. Finally, a chance to fulfill his dream. He'd cut the article out and stuck it in the pocket of his shirt. But by the time he'd reached home, he'd all but dismissed the idea. His folks still needed him in Smallville.

Of course, by dismissing the opportunity from his mind, he'd managed to seriously underestimate his parents. His mother found the article while going through his pockets before doing a wash, and she and his father sat him down and, after a long talk, convinced him that by hiring a boy to help part-time, they could manage without him.

His spirits had soared. He'd called his old college prof, once again asking for him to put in a good word with Perry White and once again had a chance to be interviewed by the legend himself. Of course, being granted an interview and actually being hired were two entirely different things. His experience in journalism was limited mostly to foreign countries and small papers. And, other than his part-time work as editor of the Smallville Post, there had been a three year gap since his last job. All of that combined to make this a long shot at best. Still, he couldn't shake the feeling that he was finally home.

"Hey, you comin' in or not?"

Clark's eyes snapped back to the front of the Daily Planet to see someone holding the door open for him.

"Sorry," Clark said sheepishly, making his way inside.


"Where are those pictures? Jimmy?" Perry bellowed across the newsroom. "Damn. Where the Sam Hill is that boy?"

Turning around, he stormed into his office and slammed the door. He knew Jimmy… well, and everyone else at the Daily Planet were avoiding him today. And he knew he was being too hard on everyone.

The mood in the newsroom had been somber since Lois' conviction. And he knew most of that was due to him. But try as he might, he couldn't seem to snap out of it.

There didn't seem to be anything he could do for Lois. He'd gone to see her, of course. And she claimed to have forgiven him for 'his' testimony. She even claimed to believe that he had no memory of it and was, in fact, certain that he had not been the one giving testimony. But since he was unable to prove it, no one who could help Lois wanted to listen. Even her lawyer had told him that witness remorse — which is what she had called it — was not grounds to set aside a conviction.

Of course, he had no intention of giving up. He would continue to cooperate with her lawyers on her appeals and even, if he could think of a way to use them, call in every favor he was owed. He was not going to give up without a fight — he just had no idea of where to direct that fight. And Lois' current attitude — almost one of resigned acceptance — wasn't helping. She should be throwing all of her energy into appealing this decision. Instead, she seemed almost… relieved. He couldn't understand it at all. Lois was the most determined fighter he had ever known. Why was she now so… passive? He had to admit that he had the distinct feeling that there was something she wasn't telling him. But every time he raised the issue, she simply changed the subject.

But today he felt almost as bad as he had when he realized that his supposed testimony had helped convict Lois. He was betraying Lois once more, this time of his own free will. But the suits upstairs had insisted that it was time to find her replacement. And until he could find a way to right this wrong, this miscarriage of justice, he had no choice but to obey. But that didn't mean he had to like it. And he didn't. Not one little bit.

He sank down into his chair, picking up the resume for the next candidate and looking at it in disgust. Lois had been, by far, the greatest journalist he'd ever had working for him. Hell, she was probably the greatest journalist he'd ever had the privilege of knowing. How was he expected to replace her? Especially by someone who's last job, nearly three years ago, had been working for the Borneo Gazette — well, unless one considered 'Part-time editor of the Smallville Post' a job?

There was a tentative knock on his door.


The door opened a crack. "There's a Clark Kent here to see you, chief."

Perry grunted, not bothering to rise from behind his desk, but still gesturing with his hand for Jimmy to let in the latest in a string of interviewees. This one seemed the least promising one to date. The only reason Perry had agreed to give him an interview was at the request of Professor Carlton. He seemed to think the young man was exceptional. But now, having looked through Kent's resume, Perry knew this was a waste of time.

"Mr. White?"

Perry finally looked up to see the good-looking, dark-haired man standing in his doorway. Reluctantly, he pulled himself together, rising to his feet and making his way around the desk. It wasn't this man's fault that Perry's favorite reporter was facing a death sentence. And it wasn't his fault that Perry was being forced to find her replacement.

"Mr. Kent, I believe," he said, offering the young man his hand.

Kent took the offered hand and considering how tightly he squeezed, Perry was left with no doubt that the man in his office was nervous. His grip was just short of being painful.

"It's a real honor to meet you, sir," Kent said. "I did a paper on you in college. Your hard hitting coverage of the war in Vietnam was exceptional."

Perry actually smiled, probably for the first time since Lois' conviction. Whether Kent's comments were true or not, he certainly had 'sucking up' down to an art form. He gestured the young man to a seat and began asking him all the appropriate interview questions. Kent had brought some of his work, which Perry looked at with interest. However, it was quickly obvious that his initial observations had been correct. Kent was simply not qualified for the job.

"I'm sorry, son," Perry said after informing Kent of his decision.

Kent gave him a sad smile. "I understand, sir. Well, thanks for your time. I suppose I knew it was a long shot."

Perry watched, kind of sad to see him go, as Kent walked to the door to his office.

"Oh, right," Kent said, turning back towards the older man. "I just wanted to tell you how sorry I was to hear about Lois Lane's conviction. I've read her stories for years. Her reputation for getting to the bottom of a story is almost legend. I figured I could learn a lot by working with her. Her conviction was a great loss to all of us." He waited for a couple of seconds before giving a small nod. "Nice to meet you, sir." Turning, he headed towards the elevators.

Perry knew he was expected to respond. But the lump in his throat at the young man's thoughtful, and obviously heart-felt words made that impossible. He moved over to the door as he watched Kent press the button for the elevator and wait for it to arrive.


Clark Kent turned back around.

"When can you start?" Perry asked.

Kent's facial expression was comical, as if he could hardly believe what he'd just heard. Perry almost burst out laughing. He wasn't entirely sure what had just possessed him to do that. But for some reason, he couldn't bring himself to regret it either.


Clark ran a hand through his hair as he leaned back in his chair and looked around the nearly deserted newsroom. He had known if he got the job at the paper that he would have to pay his dues. He simply hadn't realized how frustrating it would be.

His first assignment had been a dog show. Now that might have been interesting except for one devil-dog who had managed to destroy Clark's best pair of dress pants. Clark's only consolation was that he wasn't vulnerable or the dog would have left teeth marks on his lower calf as well.

Then he'd gone on to cover a press conference where the mayor droned on about how the new study into crime statistics which showed violent crime up from last year didn't really indicate that the city was becoming more violent. Clark still wasn't entirely sure how that worked. But like a good soldier, he'd written the story.

But by far the worst part of all of it was that on both stories, he'd been partnered with Ralph… Could the guy be any more crude? Every woman was ogled — if she were lucky. The unlucky ones were subjected to what the man considered 'wit'. And working with him had been… almost humiliating. The man treated Clark like his 'protege.' But if there was one thing of which Clark was absolutely certain it was that whatever Ralph might have to teach him, Clark didn't want to learn.

No. It was time Clark took matters into his own hands. And that meant that he had to find a lead of his own and turn it into a story which would convince Perry that he had the ability to do more than grunt work. That was why he was there after hours, slaving over AP stories coming over the teletype machine, reviewing every announcement being sent into the Planet. He was determined to find something, anything to investigate — even if he had to use his own time to do it.

But as the newsroom grew increasingly deserted, Clark found himself still without a solid lead.


Clark looked up at the sound of his boss yelling from the doorway to his office. "Yes, sir?" he asked, immediately rising to his feet.

"What are you still doing here? You handed your story in hours ago."

Clark smiled. "Guess I'm still having problems believing I'm working here — can't quite bring myself to leave. It's as if I'm afraid of waking up from a really good dream."

Perry studied him for a moment before a smile quirked one corner of his mouth. He walked towards Clark. He didn't speak again until he was standing next to Clark's desk. "Tell me something, son. Have you been kissing the blarney stone?"

Chuckling, Perry made his way back to his office. Clark had just turned his attention back to his work when he overheard a woman speaking to Jimmy.

"Who's the new tight end?" the woman drawled.

He kept his eyes cast downward. The last thing he needed was the distraction of a workplace romance. He just didn't have time for it.

"His name's Clark Kent. He's…" Jimmy's voice trailed off.

Clark knew why a moment later when a shadow loomed over his desk. She had obviously walked away from Jimmy without waiting for him to finish his comment. Realizing he had no choice, he looked up.

"Hello," the woman said, her tone of voice itself being enough to convey her interest even if her eyes hadn't been running over his body. "Catherine Grant — 'Cat's Corner.'"

"Yes, I've read your column."

"Then my reputation precedes me," Cat purred.

Clark gave her a polite nod and looked back at the papers in front of him.

"I know what it's like to be new in town. I'd be happy to show you around."

Clark looked back up, wondering how he was going to get out of this. After all, the invitation itself sounded innocent enough. But the woman sitting on the corner of his desk was quite obviously a predator — sizing up her prey. There was nothing innocent about her proposal.

"That's very nice of you, Ms. Grant."


"Cat," he corrected, pretending not to notice the way she could interject so much sex into the single word. "Maybe when I get settled." Hopefully she'd understand that brush off.

"It's a date," Cat said loudly, getting off the corner of his desk and, without giving him a chance to respond, heading away.

Sighing, he watched her go before looking back at the work in front of him. Why was there always a woman like her in every newsroom? Well, he'd just have to do what he could to avoid her for a while. Maybe then she'd get the message.


Lois' pulse raced as she sat down on her cot, tucked her legs up under her and picked up the precious object. Getting one of these fully intact was a small miracle in the world in which she now existed. Lots of papers were delivered to the prison. But unless one was there early, it was almost impossible to get one that wasn't already torn apart. And if there was one thing Lois hated, it was getting part of a paper.

But today, she'd been lucky. One of the guards had given it to her. He was a man somewhere in his mid-thirties by the looks of him. His name was Michael… Oh, what was his last name? He had the beginnings of a receding hairline and wasn't exactly what she would call handsome. On the other hand, he was built like a brick wall. Obviously he worked out regularly. He had given her this precious object saying that he was aware of what she had done for a living and thought she might like it. She had been touched. She wasn't sure she'd ever received a more thoughtful gift. She'd hid it under the mattress on her cot. Only now had she dared to remove it.

The morning edition of the Daily Planet.

Her fingers trembled slightly as she opened it, her eyes focusing on the Daily Planet symbol at the top. Tears came unbidden to her eyes, but she fought them back. In the short time she'd been behind bars, if there was one thing she'd learned it was that crying was something she could not afford to do. It was regarded as a sign of weakness. And weakness was a sure way to the infirmary — especially for her. She'd put a number of these women behind bars in the first place. So far, her only serious encounter had taken place on her first night. As a result, there had been no need to put her in solitary. But there had been a few close calls.

Pulling herself together, she took her time reading the front page. It was international news. But then, since her imprisonment, there hadn't been any really juicy local stories. Not that that necessarily meant anything. She was well aware that at times news in the city could be slow. And now might just be one of those times. Still, part of her liked to think that the reason there wasn't more city news was because she wasn't out there, pounding the pavement and breaking the stories.

Once she'd read everything on the front page, she carefully flipped the paper open as if handling the most delicate of manuscripts, expecting it to fall apart at any moment. On page three, she found the city section. She read slowly, taking the time to picture her colleagues as they dug up information and interviewed sources. A story by Myerson about a fire in Suicide Slum. She closed her eyes for a moment, picturing the scene he was creating with his words, imagining herself there, fighting with other reporters to dig for the story behind the story. But this time, there appeared to be no story behind the story. A normal household cooking accident in an apartment building. No one injured. Emergency response time was good. Everyone safely evacuated. The only real damage was to the apartment building itself.

Moving down the page, she spotted a second article. A story about the increase of violent crime in Metropolis. She snorted. She was one of those statistics. After all, she had been convicted of first degree murder. She almost skipped reading the article when she saw Ralph McDonald's name on the byline. But… Ralph's name wasn't the only one on the byline. Clark Kent.

She realized immediately who he must be and had to fight against a sudden stab of pain that shot through her heart. Her replacement. She searched her mind for a minute, trying to think if the name seemed familiar. It didn't.

She'd known Perry would have to replace her, of course. Or would have if she'd thought about it. But this… Her mind flashed to the newsroom, seeing a slightly overweight man with a bad toupee and ill-fitting suit setting a cup of coffee down on her desk. In her mind's eye, the coffee sloshed slightly over the edges of the cup. But did the man notice? No! Of course not. Instead, he pushed her notes off to the side and right into the puddle of liquid without as much as a passing thought.

She jerked back to her current surroundings, finding it almost more painful to realize that the cold, impersonal jail cell in which she found herself now was more comforting than her image of the newsroom.

She returned her gaze to the paper, staring at the unfamiliar name for so long that the letters began to bleed together. Clark Kent. Who was he? She knew most of the journalists in the city. She also knew, at least by reputation, most of the top journalists at other papers in the country. And Clark Kent was not one of them. She felt a moment of anger. How could Perry replace her with some hack from nowheresville? At the very least, he should have raided another paper, cajoling one of their top people into changing alliances.

She briefly skimmed the article, knowing what she would find. Suddenly she stopped, going back to the beginning and this time reading more thoroughly. It was not what she expected. She had expected Ralph and what she had… Well, it wasn't Kerth material by any stretch of the imagination. It was shallow and did nothing more than give the details of the report and the Mayor's reaction to it. It contained no examination of the underlying causes of the rise of violent crime in Metropolis and nothing, beyond the Mayor's promise that this was being taken seriously, to explain what steps were being taken to curb the disturbing trend. But what caught her attention was the writing. Ralph had not been the one putting pen to paper — so to speak — on this story. Her eyes flicked back to the byline. Clark Kent, it seemed, if nothing else, was an elegant writer.

Of course, she still hated him. She had to. On principle. Well that and for not even bothering to clean up his spilled coffee so that her notes didn't get ruined.

"Enjoying the paper?"

Lois looked up to see the guard, Michael… whoever… standing, watching her through the bars. "Very much. Thank you. I can't tell you how much this…" She gestured at the paper. "…means to me."

Her words were completely sincere. But the slight smile he gave her in return… No. She was reading too much into it. He'd been considerate — nothing more. And if she kept reading things into it every time someone was nice to her… No.

He gave her a small nod and moved on down the line. See? Nothing more than a friendly act of human compassion. She turned her attention back to the paper.

As she continued to read the remainder of the article, she felt her pain and anger turn to something else. Depression. Her life really was over. Even her desk at the Daily Planet was now occupied by someone else. She had really and truly ceased to have a life outside these four walls.

It would be years, she knew, until the sentence of death would be carried out. Appeals to be prepared and argued. The state had to be sure that every 't' had been crossed and every 'i' had been dotted before sticking a needle into her arm to end her life. But… At this point, it hardly mattered. Her life was already over. It had ended the moment that man, Clark Kent, first sat down behind her desk.


"Damn!" Perry exclaimed, slamming down the phone in disgust.

"Is everything all right, sir?"

Perry looked up to see Kent standing in the doorway. It was the next evening and Kent was once again in the newsroom well after most of the staff had emptied out. If nothing else, Kent was obviously a hard worker. Either that or he simply didn't have a life beyond the walls of the Daily Planet. Either way though, Perry couldn't say he minded the boy's intrusion tonight. "Ahh… It's nothing. I've just been summoned to another one of those dang-fooled budget meeting with the boys upstairs tonight. Wanting to challenge our expense accounts again, no doubt. Or something equally as infuriating. At least you'd think they'd provide advance notice of evening meetings instead of springing them on us at the last minute. It's almost as if they expect me not to have a life outside this place."

"You had some big plans for the evening I take it."

"Sort of. And…" Perry waved his hand at the phone. "I can't even get word through that I can't make it tonight. You'd think…" His voice trailed off as he looked contemplatively at Clark. "Son, would you consider doing me a huge favor?"


Lois had found herself glancing at the clock almost every five minutes today. Even though she knew he would not be there until the evening, she couldn't stop from looking. As she folded laundry, she watched the clock. As she ate her meals, she watched the clock. Perry had taken to visiting her every Tuesday and Thursday evening. And it was Thursday.

Perry was the only link she had to the outside world these days. He was, after all, the only one who visited her any more. Before the trial, others had come, colleagues mostly. But her mother had come once, with her sister, before declaring that she couldn't stand to see Lois like this and wouldn't be back. But… well, that was her mother. And she supposed that at least she'd tried. Her father hadn't come at all.

So when Lucy had returned to California, Lois had been left alone. Lucy had wanted to stay longer, but Lois couldn't bear the idea that her sister was putting her life on hold for her. So she'd sent her away.

But still, Lois couldn't quite help but resent her mother. If the visits were hard on Ellen Lane, it was nowhere near as hard as it was on Lois to be abandoned to this hell hole by her entire family. After all, Lois was well aware that these visits were equally hard on Perry. She knew she should tell him that he didn't need to come. But… she hadn't been able, so far, to force herself to do it. His visits were the only thing she had to look forward to — even if it hurt to see the pain in his eyes at every visit.

Besides, today she had a bone to pick with him — a bone named Clark Kent. She intended to give him a piece of her mind about hiring that hack. At the very least, it would lead to a spirited discussion. And if there was one thing Lois missed, it was spirited discussions — at least ones where she knew she was still going to be alive at the end.

She spotted one of the matrons coming towards her and smiled. It was time. Perry must be in the visitors' room, waiting for her.

"Lane, you've got a visitor," the woman said, confirming her hypothesis.


Lois walked slowly towards the man on the other side of the glass barrier separating the prisoners from the general public. When she'd entered the room, she immediately scanned it for Perry — confused when she didn't spot him. She'd turned towards the guard who gestured her towards the good-looking, dark-haired man currently standing, his mouth hanging slightly open, on the other side of the glass.

Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she made her way towards him. She was certain she didn't know him. So what would he want to see her about? Of course, her curiosity at finding a strange man there to see her couldn't quite quell her disappointment at not seeing Perry. In many ways, it was like expecting an important phone call only to discover that the person on the other end is calling to offer a long distance deal. On the other hand, she couldn't say that the piece of eye candy in front of her was a completely unwelcome sight. It was odd the things one noticed when locked away from the world in a woman's prison, she reflected as she took a seat on her side of the glass.

When he didn't sit immediately, she cocked an eyebrow in amusement. She was the one in prison, yet he was the one currently looking as if he'd not seen a woman in years.

He seemed to notice her expression and quickly shook his head, as if trying to get his mind back on whatever track had brought him there. He sat, picking up the phone beside him. She did the same.

"Yes?" she asked in amusement when he didn't say anything.

"Perry asked me to tell you he couldn't make it tonight," he blurted out.

She felt her heart sink. Perry's visits were one of the few things she had to look forward to these days. And besides, she had to bawl him out for replacing her with…

"What's your name?" she suddenly asked, causing the man on the other side of the glass to look directly into her eyes for the first time. She felt confused at the unexpected jolt to her heart. She really had to have been in this hell-hole too long if she was able to be swept away by a pretty face. In a way, her immediate physical reaction to him made her dislike this messenger boy even more. He reminded her, only too clearly, of what she would never have again.

"Clark Kent," he answered.

"I knew it!"

"Knew what?"

"You're the hack Perry hired to replace me!" She knew she was being unfair, but she didn't particularly care. How dare this man come here — expecting to take Perry's place? How dare he take her place at the Daily Planet? And how dare he rub her nose in the knowledge of what she could never have again?

Kent seemed to recoil slightly from the verbal assault. "I'm sorry… I didn't…"

"Didn't what? Didn't expect me to know who you are? Figures. Perry should have been out raiding the competition to find someone to replace me. And instead, he hires…" She gestured towards him, letting her eyes wander slowly over his body. "If I didn't know Perry, I'd think he hired you for window dressing."

"Now hold on a minute," Kent responded, showing some spirit for the first time. "Maybe I'm not the reporter you are, Ms. Lane. But I'm not some hack either. I've worked at papers all over the world. The Borneo Gazette. The Kazekstan Times. And how dare you…"

"Where are you from?" she interrupted.

"Smallville, Kansas."


"And what is that supposed to mean?"

"Perry could have got someone from the Washington Post or the New York Times. But who does he get? Some leftover of the Smallville Gazette!"

"The Smallville Post."

"I knew it!"

"And I'll have you know that I wasn't some leftover. I was the editor."

"Oh, sorry. That makes all the difference," Lois responded sarcastically.

"You sure have a lot of opinions for someone on death row!"

She felt as if she'd been slapped and saw a moment of confused regret pass through his eyes. He suddenly stood, still holding the phone.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have said that. I'll just… Anyway, Perry asked me to tell you that he's sorry. He'll be here next Tuesday. But there was a meeting he couldn't get out of tonight. I'm obviously making you miserable. That wasn't… I'm sorry. I'll just…" He gestured behind him.

"Oh, right. I'm sure you have other places to be. Don't want to spend too much time with the convicted murderer — can't be good for your wholesome country boy reputation."

"Goodbye, Ms. Lane," he completed quickly before hanging up the phone and making a quick dash for the door.

Lois sat there for a long moment, trying to figure out exactly what she was feeling. He was gone. As she'd suspected, he was a hack from nowheresville. He'd deserved everything she'd dished out. So why was it when he'd reminded her of her current position, that she had felt as if he'd reached in and torn out her heart? She'd almost managed to forget her current situation while tearing a strip off of him. So what was it about Mr. Kent that left her feeling as if…

She groaned. She wasn't that shallow — was she? She hadn't seriously been swept away by a pretty face — okay, well, a pretty face and an obviously impressive body even if he did try to hide it under the sloppy suit. She was Lois Lane for crying out loud! So why had it hurt so much when he'd made it very clear that he saw her as nothing more than a convicted murderer? Had she really, seriously wanted him to see her as a wom… as one of the best journalist in the world? She glanced down at the dull gray prison uniform and gently touched the remnants of her black eye — not that there was much chance of him seeing more than a murder convict when he'd looked at her in this outfit.

She also couldn't quite understand why she'd been so… condescending towards him. It wasn't his fault that she was in prison facing a death sentence. But something about him… something she couldn't quite name just seemed to bring it out in her.

"Lane, let's get a move on. Other people are waiting."

Lois rose to her feet and with one final glance at the door through which Clark Kent had disappeared from her life, headed back to her lonely jail cell.


She was the most infuriating woman Clark had ever known! He'd been doing Perry a favor. And yet, almost from the moment he sat down, she'd been on the attack. A hack! How dare she? She knew nothing about him. And okay, so maybe he was from Smallville, Kansas. But that was no reason to treat him the way she had. In fact, he was proud to be from Smallville.

So what right did she have to talk to him that way? Okay, so maybe he'd been a big fan of hers since she'd brought Lex Luthor down — choosing truth over a man she was supposed to love. He'd imagined her to be a woman of strength who had sacrificed her own heart for the safety of strangers.

How could he have been so wrong? Not that he knew why he should be so surprised. After all, she'd been convicted of murder. Maybe Luthor had simply done something to infuriate her. Maybe he'd cheated on her. That was probably the only reason she'd brought him down. The disappointment he felt when that thought sunk in was palpable. So what had he expected? An angel?

On the other hand, she certainly looked like an angel. When she'd first walked into the room, his heart had flipped over and come to a complete stop before it started jack-hammering, pounding against the side of his chest. But that was before she'd opened her mouth.

What was he thinking? Even after she'd started talking he'd been unable to help but notice how incredibly beautiful she was. She could even look good with the remnants of a black eye and in prison gray.

He groaned. He wasn't that shallow — was he? He hadn't seriously been swept away by a pretty face — well, okay a pretty face and a great figure. She was a convicted murderer — someone who didn't value human life. So what was he thinking? How could he possibly be attracted to someone like that?

No. He wasn't shallow. He'd been reading her work for years — and had half fallen for her just through her words. She'd been responsible for the downfall of Lex Luthor — the third richest man in the world. The imprisonment of The Prankster had been her doing. Both Bill Church Sr. and Bill Church Jr. — the heads of Intergang — were serving long prison sentences because of her. The capture of one of Intergang's most dangerous assassins, Diana Stride, had been because of her hard work. Exposing Daniel Hansen — a state senator who was running for Governor of New Troy — was entirely her doing. And then, of course, his favorite — she had been responsible for the capture of Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde and Al Capone. So was it any wonder that he'd been knocked off his feet when he'd discovered that the woman who had broken such incredible stories was also the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen?

What was he thinking? She was a murderer! He'd always respected human life. She was a woman who had deliberately taken a life — with no regard for his family and friends, with no regard for the sanctity of human life. Even if she weren't in prison, facing a death sentence, they'd never have a future together. So how was it he could still find himself drawn to her?

Growling, he picked up his pace, jogging through the darkened streets until he spotted a park with a secluded patch of trees. Darting into the trees, he took to the sky, determined to out-fly the completely inappropriate feelings he was having for this woman.


Lois sank down onto her cot, contemplating the odd thoughts that seemed to run through a person's mind when her life was effectively over. That was one of the ironies of being on death row — she was alive and yet she wasn't. And so, although her heart continued to beat, she suddenly found herself looking at life through the eyes of the dead — contemplating things from a completely different perspective.

And the things one missed… A hot bath, taken in the privacy of her own apartment was probably first on the list. But a close second was embodied in the man who had come to see her tonight. More than anything else, that was what she resented most about Mr. Kent. For reasons she refused to analyze too deeply, he represented strong hands running over her body, a body which became harder as hers melted, the feel of whiskers brushing against her face as they kissed. She swallowed hard, suddenly fighting back tears. Never again would she know what it was to get lost in a man's arms for a moment of blind passion.

Not that she'd been with a man for quite a while. Nor had it been much of a priority in recent years. Nor even that her previous experiences in that department had been completely satisfying. But looking at it through the eyes of one who was already dead… She pulled in an involuntary ragged breath.

She had felt an odd sense of abandonment when Kent had walked out on her. And she didn't even know him. But there had been something about having him there. Something she couldn't quite put her finger on. Suddenly, she snorted. Unlike when Perry would come to visit her, there had been no pain in Kent's eyes when he'd been talking to her. It had been a welcome change. Maybe if he came back… What was she thinking? He wouldn't be back. Not after the way she'd treated him.

But that was a good thing, wasn't it? After all, she certainly didn't need the constant reminder of what she could never have.

But then, wasn't that only fitting? After what she had… No! No. She wasn't going to continue torturing herself with this. There were no answers — no quick fix that would solve everything. So why was it she kept trying to rewrite the past? It was over. She was convicted. And that was the end of it. She had to let it go and accept her fate.

"Hey, sweetheart."

Lois looked up at the guard, Michael… Oh why couldn't she ever remember his last name?

"Did you enjoy the paper?"

"Yes. And thanks, by the way," said Lois, getting up from the cot to join him at the bars.

"You know I could arrange for you to get a fresh copy every day."

Lois' heart skipped a beat before caution suddenly kicked in. A one time act of charity was one thing. But a regular act of kindness… "In exchange for…?"

The smile that curved at his lips left a queasy feeling in Lois' stomach.

"I'm sure we can work something out." His hand came up to her face.

Without thinking about the consequences, Lois instantly stepped back. The look that replaced his smile caused Lois' spider-sense to kick in. She was in danger and she'd tipped her hand. Without further response, he turned and walked away. Lois let out a breath of relief, walking back to the cot to sink down onto the side.


The woman in the cell next to her, using a stage whisper to say her name caused Lois to scoot down to the end of her bed. She couldn't see the woman, but if they were both sitting near the bars, they could hear each other well enough. Wilma. Lois had come to know the woman a little bit over the past few weeks. In fact, she was the only other prisoner Lois really did know. She was older than Lois and her life had been very different.

Wilma had spent most of her life behind bars. Growing up in a poor home in Suicide Slum, she'd taken to the streets in her early teens after her step-father had decided to pay her a little midnight visit. She'd quickly fallen in with the wrong type of people and had picked up quite a crack habit — back when it was actually called 'free-basing'. She hardly remembered the robbery that had resulted in two deaths which was the event that had brought Wilma to this prison as Lois' neighbor. Wilma, it had been proven, was not the shooter. But with her attendance at the robbery, she'd been found as guilty as if she were the one firing the gun — and sentenced to share the same fate.

And in spite of all that, Lois actually liked the older woman. In prison, Wilma had managed to kick her drug habit and was currently working on getting her high school diploma — although, since she was also on death row, Lois wasn't entirely sure of the reasons behind such a goal. But Wilma knew the workings of the prison — and she shared them with Lois. So when Wilma whispered her name, Lois was quick to respond.

"What is it, Wilma?"

"Who was that guy I saw you's talking to in the visitor's room earlier?"

Lois hadn't noticed Wilma there. "No one. An errand boy my boss sent to tell me he couldn't make it tonight."

"Mmm… mmm… mmm… I can think of some 'errands' I'd like him to take care of for me. Yep. I'd give him a workout he wouldn't soon forget."


"Oh come on. You can't tell me he didn't get you's blood pumping just a little hotter than normal."

"It's not like that," Lois said defensively. "He's… nobody."

"Yeah, and you's just a convict."

Lois' breath caught in her throat.

"Besides, what's the harm in a little fantasizing? I say if your boss does come by again, you tell him to send the errand boy back to take care of a little business."

"I'll tell you what. How about I send him your way?"

"Oh, girl! You do that, and I'll love you forever. Wilma knows what to do with a fine specimen like that even if you's don't."

Lois chuckled as she moved away from the bars. Still, she couldn't quite shake the unexpected feeling that she didn't want Wilma anywhere near Clark Kent. As she puzzled over that, she quickly changed and crawled beneath the covers on her cot, turned on her side and pulled the pillow up so that she could wrap her arms around it, her thoughts suddenly consumed with Clark Kent. 'What's the harm in a little fantasizing?'

She closed her eyes, allowing the image of Clark Kent's hands on her body and his lips plundering hers to fill her thoughts. Her breathing deepened as her hands drifted down her body. Nothing would ever come of this, after all. In all likelihood, she'd never even see Kent again. Tears came unexpectedly to her closed eyes as she quietly sought a brief escape from the walls of the prison in the illusion of Mr. Kent.


"Yes!" Perry looked down at the paper clutched in his hand. It was the first real lead for a story he'd seen in almost a month. It screamed 'weird' and weird sold papers. Now he just needed… His thought instantly trailed off. The person he needed was no longer working for the paper.

He walked over to the door and looked out into the newsroom, some of the previous excitement having died with this unexpected dilemma. For just a moment, in the flush of what his gut was telling him was a big story, he'd forgotten. But now… To whom did he assign this story?

Myerson! No. He was off to that conference tomorrow. Eduardo Friaz? No. He was tied up at the moment. He caught sight of Ralph. No. Absolutely not. If anyone could make a mess of this story, it was Ralph. He crinkled his eyebrows in thought when his eyes caught sight of…

"Kent!" Perry yelled across the newsroom sending his newest reporter scrambling to his office.

Once the story was assigned, Perry sank back behind his desk. Lois. He'd been pounding the pavement, burning up the phone lines, putting in time, trying to find someone who would listen. And so far, he'd found no one. He was entirely unsure where to go from here.


Clark looked at the rundown apartment building in one of the not so good neighborhoods in Metropolis and, once more, checked the address Perry had given him. This was the place. Not that he really needed to double check. After all, the two police cars and the coroner van sitting out front were a pretty big hint.

He made his way to apartment 101 and stood outside the open door, watching and listening as the coroner did his work on the man lying dead on the floor. A plain clothes officer was standing with his back to Clark.

"Excuse me," Clark said. "I'm from the Daily Planet and I was wondering…" His voice trailed off when the officer turned around. "Inspector Henderson?" asked Clark.

Henderson's face broke into a smile. "Sean's friend. Clark Kent? Right?"

"Yes, sir. I didn't realize you worked for the MPD."

"Transferred in about four years ago now. Boy, time passes fast. So you're with the Daily Planet now?"

Clark nodded.

"I heard they hired someone to replace Lane. Never guessed it would be a kid from Smallville. So what can I do for you?"

"Well…" Clark gestured to the room.

"Name's Theodore Cooke," Henderson said, checking his book while walking further into the room with Clark beside him. "Early this morning one of his neighbors heard him scream bloody murder — and so he called us. The guy was dead when we got here."

"Anyone seen entering or leaving the room?"

Henderson shook his head. "According to the coroner, Cooke was electrocuted."

"So what are you saying? This was a normal household accident?"

"Not exactly…" He pointed towards the man's body. "Notice anything unusual?"

Clark examined the man. He was dressed casually, nothing unusual there. But… "The phone."

"Very good. Yes. It seems he received a powerful jolt of electricity over the phone line."

"Does this sort of thing happen often?"

"I've never heard of such a thing before. We don't know is if someone purposely sent a jolt of electricity over the line — if such a thing is even possible. Or if this was some sort of freak accident."

"What's your guess?"

Henderson shrugged.

"Any ideas who or what might be behind it?"

"Your guess is as good as mine at this point."

Clark glanced around the room in frustration. There had to be something… some hint that would tell them more about what had happened. His eyes focused on the phone, still grasped in the dead man's hand.

"Do we know who he was talking to?" asked Clark.

"We're working on that at the moment."

"Could you let me know what you find out?"

"Sure." Henderson turned and looked at him quizzically for a moment. "So you're Lane's replacement, huh?"

Clark felt his heart take an unexpected jump at the mention of her name. "I guess so."


"What do you mean?" Clark asked, not sure if he should be offended or not.

"Well, you and Lane are just so different. What? Is the Planet trying to take the 'soft and gentle' approach now?" Without waiting for an answer, Henderson headed outside.

Clark hesitated for a moment, lost in thought, before impulsively running after Henderson. "Inspector?" Clark said, grabbing Henderson's arm. "What can you tell me about Lois Lane?" He wasn't entirely sure what had possessed him to ask Henderson that. He'd decided only last night to put all thoughts of that irritating woman out of his mind.

Henderson's expression got unexpectedly soft. "She was the most uncompromising person I've ever known. Always where she shouldn't be. Always out there — over the edge."

"So what are you saying? That she'd skirt the edges of the law to get the story?"

"Hell no. She'd go all the way over the edge."

"Then why do you sound… I don't know. …almost impressed?"

"Three reasons. First, she never got caught. That takes brains. Second, her heart was always in the right place. She cared about the people of this city more than she cared about the awards they kept handing out to her. Oh, she'd never admit it, of course. She'd maintain that she was just in it for the story. But…" Henderson shook his head.

"That's two reasons."


"Well, you said there were three reasons you were impressed."

"Oh right. Well, let's see now. Brains, heart and… Well, in case you didn't know, she's a knock out. Brains, heart and beauty. If I were a few years younger, and a few vows freer, I'd have done everything possible to get that woman to notice me. Never had any doubt what Lex Luthor saw in her."

"Well, if she's the paragon of virtue you seem to think she was…"

"I don't think I called her a paragon of virtue."

"…how did she end up convicted of first degree murder?"

Henderson paused. "Honestly… I don't know."


"Hey, Lane."

Lois looked around at the sound of a none-too-friendly voice calling her name and rolled her eyes when she spotted the owner.

"What do you want, Carlin?" she asked. Arianna Carlin was Lex Luthor's first wife. Although long divorced before Lois had ever become involved with Lex, Arianna Carlin seemed to regard Lois as some sort of home wrecker. Lois, of course, had managed to complicate things further by being the one responsible for Carlin's arrest when she tried to wreak revenge against the people she deemed responsible for Lex's demise — Lois, Inspector Henderson and Perry White.

However, out of all the women she'd put in prison over the years, Lois feared Carlin less than most. She could talk a good game. But when it came right down to it, she was all… okay, well, mostly talk.

"I'm going to make you pay for what you did."

"Take a number," Lois muttered before taking a step when the guard with her gave a tug on her arm, forcing her to continue on her way to the laundry to put in her shift of folding sheets.

She had just folded her first sheet when she caught an image moving in the corner of her eye. Carlin's warning still echoing in her head, she quickly glanced in the appropriate direction. She almost dropped the sheet when she recognized the man standing in the doorway.

"Max?" she asked in confusion.

"Hi, Lois," the man responded, making his way into the room.

Even though Lois knew she was alone, she still glanced around — in part to see if anyone else was there and in part because she wanted to be sure she wasn't dreaming.

It had been almost a year now since she'd last seen the doctor. And although for a time they had been… involved, the memory wasn't altogether pleasant.

Dr. Maxwell Deter was a psychiatrist. Lois had lost her memory when kidnapped by Lex Luthor in some twisted attempt to get her to love him again. After she'd been rescued, Deter had become her doctor. As she'd begun to recover, she'd grasped onto Deter, falling hard for him the way she had since learned many patients did for their doctors. But unlike what was expected, Lois' therapy sessions with Max had quickly turned sexual. It wasn't until she'd begun to get her memory back and realized that he was manipulating her into giving up her job at the Daily Planet to follow him to France — something she'd never have even considered if she'd had her memory — that she'd ended the relationship — with a right hook to the chin.

She had briefly considered having him brought up on professional misconduct charges. But then she'd decided against it. He'd come to her, telling her how sorry he was for everything and persuading her that nothing like that had ever happened before. He'd seemed truly heartbroken. She'd felt bad for him — and not all together convinced that she was completely guilt free in their affair. So although she hadn't been willing to see him again, she hadn't had the heart to report him either.

And now here he was, bigger than life, standing in the prison laundry room. "What are you doing here, Max?"

"I work here."


"Yeah. I've been doing more and more work in both the men and women's prison since… well, since we broke up. I guess I felt bad enough about my conduct with… you, that I felt a need to give something back."

"Don't they pay you?"

"Of course. But not nearly as much as I was getting in private practice. I'm sorry I haven't come by to see you sooner. But… well, I guess I was just a little concerned that you'd be embarrassed to see me under these circumstances."

"Hmm," Lois said, returning to folding her sheets.

He came over, placing a hand on her arm to stop her. "I know how hard this has to be for you," he said softly. "I know how much you've always valued human life. If someone provoked you so badly that you killed them, it has to be eating you up inside."

She crinkled her eyebrows, feeling that same piercing pain in her chest she always got when she thought about Sykes.

"I just wanted you to know that I'm here. And if you ever need to talk…"

"I don't," she quickly interrupted.

"That's fine." Deter removed his hand from her arm. "But some day you might and I just wanted to let you know that when that day comes, all you have to do is contact me. I still care for you, Lois." He turned, walking towards the door.

Lois watched him go, confused by the encounter. Part of her really wanted to take him up on his offer. After all, he was right about one thing. The death of Sykes was eating her alive. The problem was that in spite of his soothing words, she didn't trust him. And so it was with the feeling that she was very much alone that she watched him go.


Clark glanced up at the clock. It was almost midnight. His story about Theodore Cooke had been finished hours ago. He still didn't know what had happened. But he'd managed to write up his preliminary story about the man's unusual death. He had insisted, however, that they avoid using the word 'accident' or 'murder' when referring to Cooke's death. Until they knew more, there was simply no way to know which it was. And Clark had every intention of getting to the bottom of that particular mystery. He just wished he had a better idea of where to start.

Henderson had managed to trace the call to a public phone booth near the ferry landing. But since no prints were found, and no body was located near the phone booth, it didn't appear that anyone else had been killed by the electrical charge that had gone through the phone line. So at the moment, Clark was at a dead end.

"You here again?" Perry made his way over to Clark's desk.

"Umm… Yes, sir," Clark responded, quickly closing the manuscript he was reading.

He wasn't quick enough for Perry, who flipped open the manuscript and came around to Clark's side of the desk to see what he was reading. His eyebrows rose as he looked back at Clark.

"I ran into an uncle of an old college friend of mine today. Inspector Henderson."

"You know Henderson?"

Clark nodded. "Anyway, he said some things that got me wondering…" He gestured to the manuscript.

Perry nodded solemnly. "Find anything interesting?" he asked, pointing to Lois Lane's trial transcripts.

"Lois Lane claimed that she didn't fire the gun. But the tape showed that she did."

Perry nodded.

"Well, I don't quite understand. Her testimony was given 'after' the tape was shown. If she was lying, shouldn't she have tried to come up with something more believable? She could have claimed… I don't know. Self-defense or something."

"So what are you saying?"

"I don't know," Clark responded, closing the manuscript once again. "Mr. White, I just… Well, you testified against her. So I take it you think she's guilty. I'm just wondering…" His voice trailed off, unsure of what to ask.

"Kent, there is one thing you have to understand. In no way and at no time did I ever testify against Lois Lane!" Perry stormed back into his office.

Clark sat in stunned silence for a long moment before turning off his computer and rising from his desk. He'd made a mistake. A big one. But… what had his mistake been? He'd simply said what seemed obvious from the transcripts. So why had Perry become so angry?

So many things didn't make sense to him. The contradiction between what the conviction said about her and what Henderson had said. Perry White had testified at her trial — telling the jury about her explosive temper. And yet he denied giving such testimony. Did that mean the transcripts were wrong? But if Perry had testified against Lois, why was it that Perry still visited her? And why would she still see him? None of this made any sense to Clark.

He growled in frustration as the elevator doors closed. He knew what he was doing, of course. He didn't want her to be guilty and so was finding holes in the case where there were none. Lois had probably simply told that story to the police upon her initial arrest — before she knew about the existence of the tape — and thereafter had been unable to change her story.

Besides, why should he care? That woman was completely infuriating. Giving his head a brief nod, he determined to leave all things Lois Lane behind him. What did she matter to him anyway?


Lois looked outside her cell. No one was there. Sitting down on her cot, she withdrew the crumbled pieces of paper from under her shirt. The Daily Planet. She'd managed to pilfer it from the very limited supply of papers provided to the jail. But she'd brought it back here with her because she wanted time to devour it in peace.

It was crumpled, and she had to take a moment to straighten it out. Still, it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen. The irony of that thought was not lost on Lois. When she'd been working at the Daily Planet, there had been copies of the paper everywhere. She had even, on occasion, pilfered a few extra copies at the end of the day to pack up items or for other purposes that had nothing to do with reading. What she wouldn't give to have those copies now.

Focusing on the front page, below the fold, she looked at the article that had caught her eye when she'd first seen the paper. 'Local Man Killed In Freak Electrical Incident. By: Clark Kent.' She'd been thinking about the headline for the past hour.

Normally, she wouldn't have even caught the careful wording of the headline — she'd have already been engrossed in reading the story. But since she hadn't had a chance to read the story until now, she'd done nothing but think about the headline — in particular, the use of the word 'incident.' A more natural way of writing the headline would be 'Local Man Killed In Freak Electrical Accident.' So why had Kent chosen the word 'incident' — assuming he had, of course, any say in the wording of the headline? Was there a hidden implication there that the 'incident' was not an 'accident'?

She turned her attention to the article. Theodore Cooke, 49, was an engineer who had worked for the past twenty-seven years for the Metropolis Transportation Department. He'd been married for twenty-three years and had two teenage children. Shortly before his death, he'd separated from his wife and moved from the suburbs to a rundown bachelor apartment in downtown Metropolis.

Apparently he'd been killed by some sort of electrical charge that had come through the phone line. Kent had interviewed a representative from the phone company who had sought to assure the public that a protective device inside all phones prevents an electrical charge from being transmitted through the phone line. They also sought to assure the public that they were in no danger. How they could make such assurances in the light of Cooke's death, Lois wasn't sure. However, she could understand the reason they might attempt to reassure the public. After all, in this day and age, the entire city could be brought to a halt if people were afraid to use their phones.

However, like the title, nowhere in the story was the word 'accident' used. Lois wondered if that meant Kent had a hunch foul play was involved. Still, there was no indication in the article itself that this was anything but a horrible accident.


Clark paced nervously as he waited for his turn. He still wasn't entirely certain why he was there. No. That wasn't true. He was there to apologize. He had tried to put Lois Lane behind him. But until he made things right with her by apologizing for implying that she was nothing more than a convicted murderer, he wouldn't be able to do that.

"Clark Kent!"

Clark turned towards the man speaking his name.

"You're next."


Lois' eyebrows crinkled in confusion when she saw who was waiting for her in the visitor's room. She'd thought never to see him again. Of course, when she'd been told she had a visitor, she'd been apprehensive. Although it was exciting to have a visitor, since it was a Saturday evening, she'd known it wouldn't be Perry. But never in her wildest dreams had she imagined it would be him!

She sat down cautiously, picking up the phone as she watched him closely through the glass. "So… Mr. Kent. Back for more abuse?" She wasn't entirely sure why she'd felt the need to say that. What was it about Kent that seemed to bring out these comments?

"I just came to apologize."

"Apologize?" She was confused.

"I said some things… Well, one thing really… that I feel I need to apologize for. I said something about you having a lot of opinions for someone on death row. I shouldn't have said that. And I'm sorry. It's been bothering me and I just wanted to get that off my chest."

She shook her head in disbelief. "I knew it. Kent, if you plan on being a reporter at any time in the near future, you're going to have to grow a thicker skin." God, what was wrong with her? Why was she treating him like this? And why couldn't she seem to stop herself from being a bitch whenever she talked to him?

"What's that supposed to mean?" he demanded.

"If you let something like that bother you, go back to Smallville. You weren't cut out for city life — let alone being a reporter for a big city paper."

"I don't think a person has to be rude to get the story."

"And that's why you'll never get the story. Take, for example, that piece of fluff that appeared in today's paper. I mean, where's the story? Some guy dies in a freak electrical incident. I know you don't think it was an accident. And yet all you tell us is that the telephone company doesn't want us to worry and a whole bunch of sappy stuff about the guy's family." Why couldn't she just shut up about this? He hadn't done that bad a job.

"Oh, and I suppose you could have done a better job."

"Damn straight. Who were the guy's enemies? Was there anything unusual about his finances? Why didn't you ask Jimmy to get those for you? Why were he and his wife separated? Could she have murdered him? Or maybe she hired someone? If so, who would have the technical knowledge to kill someone in such a unique way? Maybe he had enemies at work. Maybe he stepped on someone's toes. Do some digging!"

"You're one to talk. When was your last story?"

Lois felt unexpectedly abandoned when he left. She wasn't entirely sure why she'd been so condescending to him. He was obviously a decent reporter. He just needed a little experience and guidance and he might even become a great reporter. But there was something about him — something that just brought out the worst in her. Well, next time he came… What was she thinking? There was no way he'd be back again. She'd definitely seen the last of Clark Kent. She wasn't entirely sure why that thought was so disappointing.


He couldn't believe it. He'd done it again. He'd gone there to apologize and instead, he'd insinuated, once again, that her opinion didn't matter — given her conviction. What was wrong with him?

She just made him so damn angry.

That was no excuse, of course. He should have held his tongue, even thanked her for her ideas. After all, she had given him a number of angles to pursue in the investigation. And since for the past day he hadn't managed to get anywhere, he couldn't say that he didn't appreciate her input.

It was just that superior tone — starting with her comments about him growing a thicker skin. Instead, she could have apologized for some of her comments. But apparently, she didn't think her comments needed an apology. In fact, in her opinion, the fact that he'd come to offer her one proved her comments on Thursday — that he was a hack who was in way over his head working as a reporter in the big city.

Well, that was it. He was done with Lois Lane. Besides, in spite of his unexpected pull to this woman, she wasn't his type. A person who didn't respect human life was not someone he wanted as a partner. He snorted at the unamusing thought that she would laugh in his face were she to ever know that he was having these feelings for her. No. Someone that cold, that callous was not someone he would even want a relationship with — if such a thing were even possible.

On the other hand, what must it be like for her — in prison, seeing life pass her by, knowing that it was just a matter of time before the state would stick a needle in her arm? Maybe he should try to keep that in mind when he spoke to her in the fut… What was he thinking? She'd made it abundantly clear that she had no interest in seeing him ever again. And if that was the case, then he was only too happy to oblige her.

His jogging came to a halt when his ears picked up the sound of tires squealing on concrete, metal crunching metal and screaming children. Looking through the building beside him to the street on the other side, he instantly saw the source of the noise. Three cars, going on four, were involved in a traffic accident. And from where Clark stood, it looked bad. Without thinking through the possible consequences, he took off towards the accident sight.


Lois was making her way through the common area when something on the television caught her attention. How long had it been since she'd seen the news? She made her way over to the only chair in the area that she felt safe sitting in — mainly because it was against the wall. She had just taken a seat when a story came on about a terrible traffic accident. Five people had died.

But that didn't seem to be the focus of the story. The network helicopter had caught a single man who was pulling people from burning cars without, it appeared, any concern for his own safety.

Lois gasped, involuntarily rising to her feet and making her way closer to the television when the camera focused in on the man's soot covered face as he leaned over a young woman, performing CPR until rescue workers could arrive.

"Hey, ain't that your man?"

Lois turned to see Wilma standing beside her.

"Umm…" Lois turned back to look at the man on the screen once again. If that wasn't Clark Kent, then he had a double. "I think so."

"Hey, Lane!"

Lois turned towards the sound of a woman's voice. Completely distracted by what she'd been watching on television, she hadn't seen the woman approach. Suddenly, she seemed surrounded. She looked for Wilma but couldn't see her anywhere. Women were suddenly pushing against her from every side. As she was turning, trying to figure out the source of the greatest threat, she moved back, trying to get a solid wall behind her. Faces blended together, not allowing her to recognize any of them. She never even saw the homemade prison knife, known as a shiv, before it was buried in her side.

Pain. Confusion. Hands pushing at her. Bodies crowding in around her. She grasped at her side. She wasn't even sure of what had happened until she looked down and saw blood on her hand.

Suddenly, whistles sounded, screaming in Lois' ears. And then… she was alone, standing in the middle of the room.

She tottered on her feet for a moment before collapsing to her knees, holding her side. Death was upon her. And… it was almost a relief. She would, finally, be free from the terror that surrounded her every waking minute, the nightmares and the guilt. It was finally over.


"I got out of there before anyone found out who I was."

"But we saw you on television, honey," Martha responded over the phone. "Other people might have recognized you, too."

"But the cameras didn't catch me doing anything super. I was just one of a number of people trying to help out at a bad accident. And those people who might have noticed something… unusual… well, they were kinda out of it. I doubt anyone would believe them."

"Metropolis isn't the country, son," Jonathan added. "You can't just do things and expect no one to notice. Maybe moving to the big city wasn't such a good idea."

"No, Dad. I need to stay here."


Clark wasn't sure what to say. He supposed he could say that he had always wanted to work at the Daily Planet. And that would be true enough. But… he couldn't quite bring himself to lie to his parents. Work was not the draw of this place. The reason he wanted to stay in Metropolis was… No. It was crazy. She was the most infuriating woman he'd ever met. She was a murderer. And yet when asked why he couldn't leave Metropolis, her face was the immediate thing to spring to mind.

"I just feel… as if this is where I'm supposed to be."

"Okay, well, just be careful. If some nut with a camera catches you pulling one of your stunts…"

His father didn't complete his statement. It wasn't necessary. Clark knew exactly what his father was afraid would happen.

"Don't worry, Dad. I'll be careful."


He knelt in front of her on the bed, his hand coming up to tuck her hair behind her ear. She smiled at the tender look in his eyes before allowing her eyes and hands to drift over his pectoral muscles. The thin material of his crisp, white, dress shirt did nothing to keep her from feeling the strong muscles underneath.

Her hands left his chest to push the edges of his suit jacket off his shoulders. He allowed it to fall unheeded to the bed. Moving slightly closer, she ran her hands down his colorful tie before coming up to work on the knot.


She closed her eyes briefly, her hands stilling on his tie, allowing the sexy, husky tone in his voice to penetrate, sending a shiver involuntarily through her body. Never before would she have believed that she could feel so aroused just by the sound of a man's voice.

Sliding the tie from around his neck, she dropped it on the bed before turning her attention to the buttons on his shirt — only to find herself prevented from completing her task when his hands came up to cup her cheeks.

She looked into his eyes and found herself unable to move as he swayed slowly closer. His eyes drifted to her mouth and she found herself sucking in her bottom lip. She couldn't seem to stop from shaking. Her eyes drifted closed as she waited for his lips to find hers.

"I suppose you fell off your cot again."


"Did you fall off your cot again? Or are you going to tell us what really happened this time?"

Lois forced open her eyes to see the same guard who had questioned her after her last beating standing over her cot in the infirmary. She took a breath and felt tears spring to her eyes when pain shot through her side.

"You're becoming a real problem, Lane."

Lois closed her eyes and attempted to go back to the unidentified man of her dream. It had been so warm and pleasant in her dream. It was the first pleasant dream she'd had since that fateful day when Sykes had died. This dream-man had been… Her eyes suddenly snapped open. Oh god. No. Kent. It couldn't be. She wasn't dreaming about him. She wasn't! He was just some amalgamation of all the good-looking men she'd known. Not that Kent was good- looking. She didn't even notice things like that. It must be this place — well, that and Wilma's comments after she'd first met Kent. She was just lonely and more than a little scared.

"Fine!" the woman said. "If you want to let them kill you, who am I to care."

Lois cringed when the woman walked away. Was she doing the right thing in not telling the authorities what had happened? Not that she really knew what had happened. Maybe she'd talk to Wilma about it when she got out of the infirmary.


"Jimmy, is there some way I can get a look at Theodore Cooke's finances?"

Jimmy smiled. "Leave it to me," he said, turning away from Clark.


Jimmy turned back towards Clark.

"Just tell me if it's legal."

Jimmy's smile widened. "You don't want to know."

Clark nodded and let out a breath. He couldn't say he was completely comfortable with the idea of Jimmy getting those records illegally. But Lois must have known how Jimmy would get the file when she told him to ask Jimmy. He groaned, dropping his head into his hands. Now he was taking advice on legal propriety from a woman who had been convicted of murder. Still, he didn't call Jimmy back.

Instead, he pushed the thought to the back of his mind and picked up the phone.


Clark looked around the slightly run down offices. The city of Metropolis couldn't go wrong by giving this place a fresh coat of paint.

"Mr. Kent?" a man asked, approaching Clark.

"Yes, sir. I take it you're the man I spoke to on the phone. Richard McMillan. I'm glad you could meet with me."

"No problem. Cooke was one of our most reliable employees. It was a terrible shock to all of us. So what can I do for you?"

"Well, I'd like to talk to you and to the other men he worked with — see if I can make sense of all this."

"I got the impression it was some sort of freak accident."

"Oh, I'm sure it was. But since he was an engineer… Well, with the telephone company saying that there is no need to worry…"

"You're wondering if someone here can give you more information about how something like this could happen. Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't know how it could have happened. But then I don't know much about phones. I'm sorry. But I'm at a loss. Maybe someone else here could help you — but I really can't."

"Well, I also want to find out a bit more about the man himself."

"Uh… Well…" McMillan directed Clark further into the building and then didn't speak again until they were walking together down a long, bleak hall. "I didn't know him well on a personal level. You know how it is. As his boss, I didn't want to let the relationship become too personal. But…" He stopped by a door. "Toby Heisler and he were friends. Went out for beer after work… that sort of thing." He knocked on the door before opening it.

"The reporter I told you about is here," McMillan said to the man seated behind a desk.

"Oh yes," Heisler said, rising from behind his desk and coming over to offer Clark his hand. "Toby Heisler."

"Clark Kent."

"Well, then. I'll just leave you in Toby's very capable hands," McMillan said before, without waiting for a response, turning to leave the room.

"So, Mr. Kent, how can I help you?"


"So what did you do to upset Remi?" asked Wilma through the walls between their cells after Lois was escorted back to her cell.


"It's all over the prison. Didn't you see her?"

Remi? Who was Remi? Did she even know a Remi? She could think of a lot of people in this place who wanted to see her dead, but what had she ever done to make someone named Remi feel that way?

"I don't know what I could have done," Lois responded honestly. "I don't remember any Remi. Given the number of people here who already want me dead, I've been trying not to offend anyone else."

"Oh, child. Remi is the one person you's don't want to piss off. She used to work for some military type group."

"She was a terrorist?" Lois asked as pieces began to fall into place. The Daily Planet. Two years ago. The terrorists who dug up a safe in Perry's office that had Dragonetti's money in it. Pino 'Pretty Face' Dragonetti. One of Metropolis' most dangerous gangsters during prohibition. The terrorists who were trying to rob his safe had been caught when Lois had managed to break away from the woman who was about to kill them and call the police. Remi. She remembered now.

It had been that night — and in particular the comments Remi's partner had made about it being better to have the police on his tail than Lex — that had first made her suspicious of Lex Luthor.

And Remi was inside this very prison. Oh god. "Wilma, should I be telling the authorities about Remi's threat?"

"Oh, don't do that, child. That's a sure way to the grave."

Lois closed her eyes and leaned her head against the wall of her cell. If she reported the threat, she was dead. And if she didn't report it… well, it was entirely possible the result would be the same. But then, did it really matter? After what she had done… She gave her head a sharp shake. The issue was how to deal with Remi — nothing else.


"Thanks, Jimmy," Clark said as he took the sheaf of paper from the younger man.

"Hey, that's what I'm here for, C.K."

Clark smiled at Jimmy while rolling the nickname around in his mind.

"If you need anything else, just yell." Jimmy turned to walk away.

"Jimmy." He waited until Jimmy was looking at him before continuing. "There is something else." He hesitated, not entirely sure he should ask.

"What is it?"

"Well… What did you think of Lois Lane's conviction?"

Jimmy's eyebrows went up. "That it stank. Lois couldn't have killed that guy the way the prosecution claimed."

"But even Perry White said she had a hair-trigger temper."

"She did. Don't get me wrong. I remember once when someone left the cream out on the counter instead of putting it back in the fridge, and she went ballistic. But Lois would never kill someone in cold blood. If she did kill him, and I'm not saying she did, it was in self defense or something. Why do you want to know?"

"Just curious," said Clark. When Jimmy continued to stare at him, he spoke again. "Thanks, Jimmy."

"Sure thing," Jimmy said before turning and heading away.


Lois was more than a little surprised when she looked around the room. It was obvious that she was in a visitor's room, but this one was much less formal than the one she had used previously. Tables of various sizes were scattered everywhere and people were talking around them in a much more casual manner.

But why was she there? It was Monday night. Perry didn't usually visit until Tuesday. She flinched slightly at the pain in her side as the matron took her arm and directed her towards one of the smaller tables.

"Sit here," the woman said without ceremony.

Lois took a seat, lost in thought. There was only one possibility. Kent. But… no. That wasn't possible either. Kent wouldn't be back. Maybe her sister. But her sister was living in California. Not that Lucy couldn't have flown in. And, of course, she would never know if she had. Maybe that was why she was being brought to this casual setting. Maybe it was reserved for family members. That must be it.

So she was shocked when Clark Kent entered the room and was directed to her table, carrying a sheaf of documents and a small paper bag.


Clark couldn't help but feel some small sense of satisfaction when he saw the shocked expression on Lois' face. Apparently, she didn't know everything.

Of course, that brought up the question of why he was here — again. It had nothing to do with any unrealistic attraction he might have for the woman. After all, he wasn't attracted to her — except perhaps on some very superficial level. But he'd never been one to allow his hormones to control his actions. No, he was here because he needed her help. Nothing more. And if, as she seemed to think, she was a great reporter, surely she wouldn't say no. She was just another source.

"Well, Mr. Kent. You really are a sadist, aren't you? Back for more abuse?" The words seemed to roll off her tongue easily.

His hackles immediately rose — until he saw an almost smile cross her lips and a slight twinkle light up her eyes. She was happy to see him. He felt his heart soar. He wasn't entirely sure why she felt this overwhelming need to insult him, but her eyes didn't match the continuing disdain of her words. He was certain now that he'd been right. Her attitude, although he didn't understand it fully, was some sort of defense mechanism — and suddenly he didn't find it the least bit insulting.

"I just want to find out if you're as good as you seem to think you are," he said, keeping his tone as dry as hers. Sitting down, he handed her the papers.

She glanced at the papers before glancing back at him in confusion. "What are these?"

"The information I collected on Theodore Cooke."

A look of hopeful disbelief flashed in her eyes as she looked back at the papers and he could almost swear she was drooling. Her hand touched the top of the pile with what was almost a reverence before she seemed to realize what she was doing.

"So why would I help you?" She drew her hand back.

Clark shrugged. "Got something better to do?"

"And how did you…" She gestured around her. "…arrange this anyway? I wouldn't have thought they'd let you bring me these." She pointed to the papers.

"Well, it was a pretty thorough search."

By the way she flinched, he was fairly certain she knew what he was talking about. No doubt she'd been through worse.

"But as for why you should help me…" He put his hand on the paper bag he'd set on the table and pushed it across to her.


Lois studied the bag warily. It was a plain brown paper bag with a suspicious grease spot on the bottom. And the smells that were emanating from it… She quickly grabbed the bag and opened it up, withdrawing a large chocolate chip cookie.

"Homemade," said Clark as if tempting her with the cookie would make her agree to help him.

Not that there was any doubt that she would — even without the bribe. Just the thought of digging her teeth into a story, any story, was enough to make her feel more alive at this moment than she had since coming to this place. Still, she wasn't about to refuse the cookie if he was foolish enough to give it to her. She raised her hand to take a bite of the cookie.

"Hey, wait!" said Clark, reaching out to prevent her hand from reaching her mouth.

"No touching!" the guard at the side of the room said.

Clark quickly let his hand drop back to the table. Still, she didn't move her hand closer to her mouth.

"What?" she asked.

"So… do we have a deal or not?"

Lois narrowed her eyes and studied him. "Do you really think I can be bribed with some…" She looked at the cookie and felt moisture gather in her mouth. It looked incredible. It smelled incredible. And it was soft, she could tell that much by the way her fingers were leaving indentations. The chocolate pieces were large, taunting her as chocolate always did. She licked her lips.

"You were saying?" asked Clark, obviously amused.

She looked back at him. "I have one condition."


"Next time you come, you bring me a copy of the Daily Planet."

"Don't you get it in here?"

Lois shrugged. "It's just hard to get a copy that hasn't been completely torn apart. Often you read one part of a story only to realize that when it instructs you to turn to page C-24 to read the rest, that the page you need is missing."

Clark's eyes seemed to soften into something that was almost like…

"Don't give me that look!"

"What look?"

"Like you're pitying me." She shoved the cookie back in the bag and rose suddenly to her feet, gasping when the pain from her side hit her.

"Are you okay?" asked Clark, rising to his feet as well and reaching out as if he would steady her.

"No touching."

He snapped his hand back. "Look," he said slowly, as if he had suddenly realized how close she was to simply walking out on him — story or not, "I'm not pitying you. I just…"

"You just…?" She eyed him warily.

"I just… wish things weren't so difficult for you."

She sank slowly back into her seat as did he. "Well, I guess I can't have my replacement being an embarrassment. After all, what would it say about me if Perry hired some hack…"

"…from nowheresville…" Clark added seriously.

"…from nowheresville," Lois continued, "to replace me?" She couldn't quite prevent the slight smile that quirked at the corners of her mouth as she finished. When he looked as amused by their banter as she felt, she quickly cleared her expression. "Of course, I'll take the cookies too." She reached into the bag with a vengeance and withdrew a cookie. "And the Daily Planet," she added as an afterthought. Then her mouth was too full to continue talking.

"Mmm…" she moaned, closing her eyes and allowing the freshly baked cookie to be experienced by every taste bud in her mouth.


Clark had to force himself to close his mouth as he watched her savor the cookie. He wasn't entirely sure he had ever seen anything as erotic in his entire life. He forced his mind onto other topics.

"Well, are you going to look at those papers or not?" he demanded.

She opened her eyes, her expression telling him that she thought he was a spoil-sport.

She chewed the piece of cookie and swallowed. Clark found his eyes drawn, as if by a magnet, to her throat and had to force his gaze back to her eyes. By the amusement he could see in her eyes, he suspected she was well aware of the effect she seemed to be having on him.

"You in a rush?" she asked, her gaze drifting to his left hand.

He looked down at his hand when it suddenly occurred to him what she was asking. His heart did a small flip. "I'm not married, if that's what you're asking?"

"I'm not. Why would I care if you're married? It's not as if I'm exactly dating these days." Her tone of voice was so casual that he found himself wondering if he had misunderstood. "So…" She set down the cookie, abruptly changing the subject. "…what do you have for me to look at?" She began flipping through the papers.

"These are Theodore Cooke's financial documents," Clark said, glancing at the guard. "Jimmy got them for me."

Lois followed his look and then returned her gaze to him. A small smile quirked at one corner of her mouth. "I knew you were too soft for this job. It bothers you that… Jimmy got them." She didn't dare say more than that knowing where they were.

"Are we back to that?" asked Clark tiredly.

"Are you saying it doesn't matter to you where Jimmy got this information?" she challenged.

He shifted uncomfortably.

"A boy scout. That's what you are. I knew it as soon as I saw you on television performing CPR on that woman." She saw Clark flinch from her words. "You're going to have to lose that soft streak to make it in this business."

"I don't think one has to lose compassion to 'make it,' as you say."

"Maybe not. But it doesn't hurt."

Clark shook his head. "You're not as tough as you pretend to be, Ms. Lane. You think I can't see right through you. But I can."

"Then you need to get a new prescription. Your glasses are faulty."

"Can we get back to the papers?" Clark asked in exasperation.

Still, Lois couldn't quite keep the grin off her face as she turned her attention back to the papers in front of her. She had to admit, she was enjoying this. "Sure thing, boy-scout."

In her peripheral vision, she could tell he was rolling his eyes.

"Have you gone through them?"

Clark nodded. "Until about a year ago, the only deposits were from his pay. Then two thousand dollars extra was deposited every month."

"From whom?"

Clark shook his head. "I had Jimmy check it out. The deposits were made in cash. When I talked to his wife, she told me that their eldest son has some sort of life threatening liver ailment. He's apparently on a transplant list. But the medication he needs hasn't been approved for payment by Cooke's insurance through the city. It costs…"

"…two thousand dollars a month?"

"Two thousand dollars a month," Clark confirmed.

"So he found a way to raise the extra money. Did she have any idea how?"

"I didn't tell her about the deposits. But when I mentioned that that must have been expensive, she told me that her husband handled all the finances."

"So he never told her where the money was coming from — either that, or she's not going to tell you."

"Anyway, she said that one night he came home and, out of the blue, announced that he was moving out."

"Were they having problems in their marriage?"

"She told me that the illness of a child takes its toll on a marriage. But that, no, she hadn't realized how unhappy he was until he moved out. But I've got to tell you, she seemed devastated by her husband's death. I don't think she was involved. Oh, and I talked to Henderson. The phone company told me that it isn't possible for someone to send an electrical charge over the phone lines because of a protective device inside the phone. So I passed the information on to Henderson. He had it checked out and got back to me. Apparently, the device was removed in Cooke's phone. So we know for certain now that it wasn't just an accident."

"Did they do DNA tests, look for hairs, that type of thing?"

Clark nodded.


"Nothing. Whoever did this must have had some knowledge of forensic science."

"Try every criminal in the city," muttered Lois. "What about his co-workers? Did you talk to any of them?"

Clark nodded. "I spoke to a…" Clark removed his notebook to look up the name. "Toby Heisler. He and Cooke seemed to be good friends as well as coworkers. He said that Cooke was understandably upset by his child's medical problems. But that he thought he was coping with it. He was surprised, though, when Cooke left his wife. Heisler had thought Cooke's marriage was solid."

"Maybe he moved out when he realized that… whatever he was involved in was getting too dangerous and didn't want his family caught in the crossfire. That would mean the key is figuring out where the money came from."

"In other words, 'follow the money'," Clark replied sarcastically.

"I heard that Deep Throat never actually said that. It was just added to the book for dramatic purposes. So what are the possibilities? Some sort of illegal business."

"Or maybe just working under the table — to avoid paying taxes on what was obviously some desperately needed money."

"Or maybe he was threatening someone or blackmailing someone."

"Or maybe he found a rich benefactor who just wanted to help out."

"Do you have to find the most respectable explanation every time?"

"Do you always have to think the worst?"

"The number of times I'm right is probably greater than yours."

"You have got to be the most cynical person I have ever known."

"Yeah. But at least I don't go through life being constantly disappointed." Smiling, Lois picked up her cookie and took another bite.

Clark shook his head in disbelief as he watched her. "Of course, the money might have nothing to do with his death."

"True. But I think it's our best lead at the moment."


"Of course. You'll mess it up if I let you do it on your own, boy-scout." She licked the lingering chocolate off her fingers.

He watched her for a moment in utter fascination. "So how do we go about tracking the money?"

Lois narrowed her eyes as she thought about that. "Find out who his friends are, what clubs or bars he frequents, what sports events or activities he takes part in. Track down every job he's worked on in the past year — focus particularly on the time when the money started pouring in. Someone, somewhere knows where that money was coming from. All we have to do is find him or her."


Clark stepped out of the cab and looked around the docks where the ferry to St. Martin's Island left the mainland. It had come as a bit of a surprise to learn that Cooke had been in charge of some major work for the city at the ferry landing about a year before — about the same time the first two thousand dollar payment had been deposited into Cooke's bank account. After all, the phone call to Theodore Cooke just before he died had come from a phone on this dock.

He spotted a phone booth and made his way there. Henderson had told him that the phone had been searched for prints, but none had been found. Tilting his head to the side, Clark considered this information. Then he lowered his glasses and, using his enhanced visual abilities, looked closely at the phone. It was covered with prints which meant… either Henderson had lied to him, which Clark found hard to believe, or whoever had placed the phone call to Theodore Cooke had deliberately removed his or her prints after making the call.

After examining the phone, Clark nosed around, just taking in the feeling of the place, trying to figure out what had happened to Theodore Cooke about a year ago. Suddenly, he was struck by the realization that walking out there, something he took for granted, was something completely out of Lois' reach. If the death sentence she'd been given were carried out, it was something she'd never do again. He pulled in a jagged breath as that thought sunk in. Never would he have the chance to be by her side, doing something as simple as walking on a beach or watching the seagulls chasing each other through the air.

He quickly rebuked himself. Elroy Sykes probably had family. And Lois had taken his life. Just because he was having very inappropriate feelings for a woman who had no respect for human life didn't mean that she should be forgiven for taking the life of another human being.

He walked between the cars waiting for the ferry to arrive, going over to the railing so that he could watch as the ferry approached the dock. There was something so peaceful, so tranquil about the entire scene. One's troubles seemed to fade away under the bright blue skies, the smell of water in the air, the cool breeze teasing his hair. Clark closed his eyes, forcing his feelings of self-pity to the back of his mind. He took a deep breath and let it out again.


And in an instant, the tranquility was gone. Clark's eyes snapped open. People were shouting, pointing. He looked in the same direction as everyone else and saw the ferry, dark black smoke rising out a gaping hole in her side. Water rushed in through the open hole, bringing the boat to a halt. So close to the shore and yet so far. All those people.

Clark looked around in desperation. He had to help them. But everywhere he looked, people were staring, watching the boat. He spotted a black wool cap lying on a bench nearby. The owner seemed to have abandoned it to get a better look at the disaster.

Clark hesitated for only a moment before snatching up the cap and rushing for the privacy between two buildings. Tearing off his jacket and tie, he tossed them to the side and pulled the cap over his hair. Pulling the cap down as far as possible, he discovered that it covered his face to his nose. He quickly burned two eye holes into the material and then, realizing he didn't have time to worry about the consequences, took to the air, diving into the water. Swimming under water, he came up inside the damaged vessel.

Unless one counted the occasional shower of sparks, the only light was coming through the hole in the side of the boat. Yet in the darkness the sounds of the terrified people could not be missed.

The mass of people trying to get topside was out of control, jamming together into the small stairways. Clark glanced around before an idea came to him. Quickly dispensing with his wool cap and placing it in a safe place so that, if necessary, he could retrieve it later, he moved quickly.

"This way!" Clark yelled as if he were just one of the passengers — albeit, a passenger with an idea.

People, desperate for any means of escape, didn't even question where Clark was taking them. Heading for the hole in the ship, Clark began discretely tearing planks from the ship and giving to them to people as they entered the water. Once they were safely on their boards, he gave them a cautious shove towards the hole. As he stood waist deep in the water, he used his feet to create a current that would take the people, with very little effort, safely through the hole in the side of the boat.

Once all the people who were on that level were safely through the hole, Clark dove beneath the surface. Swimming through the hole, he breathed out, giving the survivors that final current to get them safely to shore before he himself returned to the ship.

Once back inside, he grabbed his wool cap and put it on for a final search of the ship, both above and below the water level.

Clark felt his stomach lurch when he saw the number of people already dead below the water level. He tried bringing a few to the surface to revive them, but the task soon proved to be a fool's errand. He was just about to give up, to check on the people on the top deck, when the sound of quiet, labored breathing caught his attention. Focusing in on the sound, he spotted an older man, unconscious, trapped in the exploded fragments of twisted wood and metal. The water was rising quickly now. In no more than a minute, he'd be completely submerged below the water line.

Clark didn't wait. He slipped the wool cap back on over his face and flew to him.

When he got to the man, he paused. The man was bleeding badly. Not only that, a metal pole from a former shelf on the side of the ship was spearing his leg, pinning him to the side of the ship. Clark could get him out, using a little welding and tearing some of the planks off from around the hole. But to do so would widen the hole and cause the ship to sink faster.

Glancing up, he x-rayed through the decks to see the people on the top level. They were managing to get off quickly. And once he was done rescuing this man, he was sure he could give them a hand as well. Besides, this was the only chance he had to save every person still alive on the ferry.

He quickly went to work, using his laser vision to do some welding and soon the man was free from his trap. But Clark didn't dare remove the pole from the man's leg — for fear that it would make the bleeding worse. Clark used his heat vision to cut the ends off the pole, quickly bandaged the wound as best he could and then turned his attention to getting the man out of the ship. Tearing away some boards and metal from the side of the ship, he enlarged the hole which was now mostly under water. Then, cradling the man in his arms, he flew out the hole, carrying his precious cargo.

Finally landing again between the buildings where he had created the masked man, he tore off the wool cap and stuck it in his pocket before carrying the man as fast as would normally be possible to the emergency workers who were already beginning to arrive at the docks.

When he had delivered his patient, he made his way back to the edge of the dock and watched, realizing quickly that he couldn't very well help the others. Emergency crews were providing assistance. And even though Clark had to admit they seemed to have things under control, he stood, his fingers creating indentations in the metal railing on the dock as he waited impatiently, concerned that the larger hole was causing the ferry to sink even faster. It was tilting dangerously to the side. If even one extra person was lost because of his actions, he'd never forgive himself. So he stood, frozen to the spot, ready to spring into action if necessary. One human life was simply too high a price to pay for protecting his secret.

He finally resumed breathing when the final passenger was safely on shore without any assistance from him. He just wished there was a way for him to help openly. Maybe he'd discuss the problem with his parents tonight. In the meantime, he had a job to do. He removed his notepad from his pocket and was about to take his first notes when he realized the paper was soaking wet. Okay, well, he'd need another notebook, but there was still a story to get here.


Clark felt quite proud of himself when he stepped into the newsroom. He'd called Perry to let him know that he happened to be at the ferry disaster so that Perry wouldn't send another reporter. But then he went to work and he had the beginnings of what he believed would be a good story.

Apparently, there had been some sort of explosion below deck. Although Clark couldn't be certain, from what he'd seen, he was fairly confident that one of the engines had exploded. By using his x-ray vision, he took a look at the remnants of the burned out engine. Although he wasn't entirely sure, he suspected the explosion had started there given the greater damage in the area. Of course, most of these observations would require confirmation after the disaster was analyzed by experts.

Still, Clark found himself wondering if Cooke's death was somehow connected to the ferry explosion. The two thousand dollar a month payments had started while Cooke was working on these docks about a year before. The phone call which had led to Cooke's death had been made from these docks. And then, shortly after Cooke's death, there was a terrible accident involving the ferry. It seemed like a lot of coincidences unless there was a connection between the events. He would get input on that angle when he visited Lois after work this evening.

But in the meantime, Clark had managed to get a couple dozen interviews — including an interview with the ferry captain and the dock-master. It was a good preliminary story.

He saw a crowd gathered around a television. It was quickly obvious that they were watching scenes from the ferry disaster. Spotting Perry in the crowd, he made his way over.

"I got the ferry story, sir," Clark informed Perry.

"Come," Perry instructed before leading Clark towards his office. Once they were safely inside and the door was closed, Perry spoke again. "Whatcha get?"

Clark quickly outlined the story as he saw it. When Perry didn't react, he mentally reviewed the story in his mind, wondering what he had missed.

"Come here, son," Perry said mysteriously before leading him back out into the newsroom and over to the television.

Clark felt the blood begin to pound in his ears when the unfolding story began to penetrate his brain.

"So as you can see, this 'demon,' as he's been nicknamed by the press, was actually captured on amateur video tape tearing planks off the side of the ship to make it sink faster," the anchorman was saying while the video played in the background. "And then… and this is the part that would be impossible to believe if not for the confirmation of a dozen different witnesses… as you can see, the man-shaped creature flew out of the ship. He seems to be carrying something — although no one knows what — from the boat.

"Experts are unanimous in their opinion that the 'man,' if you will, is a terrorist. But no one seems to know where he came from, who he works for, where he got his extraordinary powers or what exactly he is. Is he human? Is he some sort of genetic freak, an alien, a human experiment or some demon who has appeared in human form? And how many more like him are out there?

"The military, so far, has refused to comment officially, but unnamed high-level sources inside the Pentagon inform us that the military is on full alert — although others are officially questioning what the military can be expected to do against a flying demon who has the strength to pull the side off a ship."

No! The anchorman continued on, but Clark was no longer listening. It was a mistake. He had been trying to help. How had things been so horribly misinterpreted?


Watching the news was not a big pastime in prison — normally. So Lois was more than a little surprised when she entered the common room to see everyone gathered around the single television in the corner. Mindful of what had happened the last time she'd been in this room, she was cautious as she made her way closer. But no one took any notice of her, being completely engrossed in what was playing on the screen.

At first, she thought the flying man she could see on the screen was a joke. She could hardly believe that the newscaster was treating it seriously. She wasn't sure how it had been accomplished, but there was one thing of which she was absolutely certain — men couldn't fly. Neither did she believe in demons. As for genetic manipulation or other such options… She couldn't buy those explanations either. No. There was only one possibility. This was a hoax.

"What are you doing to protect us?" one of Lois' fellow inmates demanded of a nearby guard.

"Yeah. What if he comes here?" another added.

"We've got no way to protect ourselves," a third put in.

After that, Lois was unable to hear the individual comments as everyone began talking at once, turning quickly on the guards. Lois instantly backed away. Whistles began to sound. The prison alarm went off. One of the guards was attacked.

The following minutes were like a nightmare as guards attacked inmates, inmates attacked guards and inmates attacked inmates — all with the deafening scream of sirens in the background.


"Jonathan! Get in here right now!"

Jonathan dropped the bucket of milk and ran at full steam towards the house. There was fear in his wife's voice and, as a result, there was fear in his heart. He was both relieved and surprised when he saw Martha standing watching the television.

"What was so urgent you made me drop the milk?" he asked, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her small form. "A television show?" However, he was too relieved that she was okay to be truly annoyed.


Surprised, he turned his attention towards the television.

"The biggest concern at the moment," the general on the screen was saying, "is whether or not there are more of them out there. We can only assume that these flying men were after something on that boat." He pointed to the image of the man flying with his back to them, obviously holding something in his arms. "If we knew what that was, we might have some idea as to the object of this particular attack. Right now military intelligence is trying to determine what that might be."

Jonathan gasped, pulling away from his wife as a sharp pain suddenly pierced his chest. Grasping at his shirt, he stumbled back onto the couch.

"Jonathan!" Martha gasped. "Are you…"

"It's okay, Martha," Jonathan was quick to reassure her. "I'm fine. It's just…" He pointed at the television screen. Martha's gaze followed his to the television. She sank next to him on the couch and they stared in stunned silence as their boy was crucified by the press.

"There is hope, though. For years now, the government has been funding an agency known as Bureau 39…"


Clark was trembling as he stepped into his apartment. By the time Clark had left the Daily Planet, people had begun to gather on city streets, many bearing placards that said everything from 'Alien Go Home' to 'The End of the World is Here.' There were signs, as well, calling on the government to take action against this new threat.

He almost dreaded what he would see when he walked over to the television and flicked it on.

"…so that's when I first saw The Demon, or whatever he was…" The caption under the picture of the man talking identified him as Dr. Bernard Klein, Director At Star Labs, passenger on the ill-fated ferry. "At first, of course, I thought it was just my old eyes playing tricks on me. After all, a man flying under his own power contradicts everything we know about principles of gravity and flight. But so many other people around me saw it too that I finally realized it must be true. Either that or someone must have found a way to create mass hallucinations. But even if that were true, it wouldn't explain how a hallucination could have been caught on videotape.

"The entire episode was terrifying and I wasn't thinking very straight. I was trapped in my car in the belly of the ferry, where I usually stay during the trip across. I spend the time doing paperwork. Anyway, as a result, I nearly didn't get out. By the time I did get out of my car, all the life jackets had been taken. So it was pretty scary there for a while. Some guy was helping us get out through the hole in the side of the ship. I still don't really remember the trip to shore.

"So when I saw The Demon, my mind was still a little cloudy. But when I did get a chance to think about it, I began to wonder if someone invented some sort of android that could fly. Now I know that sounds a little far-fetched. But science is advancing at an extraordinary pace. I'd personally love to examine such an android. You see, in my work…"

"Yes, well, thank you Dr. Klein. We're so glad that you got out safely."

"Oh, yes. Well, thanks."

Dr. Klein sounded slightly embarrassed as if being cut off made him suddenly realize that he was rambling.

Clark let out a breath. A noted scientist had been on that ferry — a scientist who, unless Clark had mistaken the excitement in the man's voice, would be more than thrilled to study him in a lab and dissect him like a frog — his father's old warning echoed through his head. His casual dismissal of his parents' concerns seemed so hollow to him now. Maybe his father had been right. Maybe he'd been reckless in coming to the big city. And at the moment… he couldn't say that he wanted to do anything more than curl up in his bed at the farm and sleep until this nightmare was over.

Why did people do that? Why did they create catchwords and phrases that were meant to produce certain feelings in the person hearing them? Ground Zero. Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Evil Empire. The Demon.

How could one hear that name and not believe he was evil? It assumed facts not in evidence — or well, he guessed from the public's point of view, it was based on facts. After all, the video had caught him 'tearing the side off the ship to make it sink faster.'

So now what did he do? Did he stand up and say, 'Hey, it's okay. It was only me — Clark Kent?' Would that do any good? And what would happen to his parents? They might not be able to hurt him, but his parents? Would they be lynched for harboring The Demon? How could he have put them in this position?

He had just sat down on the couch, burying his head in his hands, when the phone rang. He knew who it was even before he answered.

"Hi, Mom and Dad," he said the instant he picked it up.


Perry paced in the waiting room at Metropolis Women's Prison. What was taking so long? No one had come to get visitors since he had first arrived. And the room was starting to fill up fast. In the distance, he could hear the sound of sirens. Unable to stand not knowing for a minute more, he walked over to the counter.

"Can I help you, sir?" asked the guard behind the counter.

"Yes. I'm wondering if you can tell me what's going on?"

"Sorry, sir. You're just going to have to take a seat with everyone else. I'll let you know when you can see…" He looked down at the list. "…Lois Lane."

"I'm the editor of the Daily Planet. And unless I get some answers right now, this place will be crawling with reporters before you can sing the first verse of Jailhouse Rock."

The young man looked panicked for a moment, as if trying to figure out how to cause the least amount of damage. He'd been told to keep things under control in the visitor's area. And if this place were crawling with reporters, his superiors would not be happy. On the other hand, this man was the editor of the Daily Planet… "Just a moment, sir," the guard responded before rising from behind the counter and heading towards a door.

He was just about to step through, probably in an effort to find someone else to make the decision for him, when Perry started singing.

"The warden threw a party in the county jail. The prison band was there and they began to wail."

The guard stopped and looked back in disbelief.

"The joint was jumpin' and the band began to sing. You should've heard those knocked out jailbirds sing. Let's rock. Everybody, let's rock. Everybody in the whole cell block was dancin' to the Jailhouse…"

"Okay, okay," the guard said, rushing back over to where Perry was standing. "I was told to keep things calm out here. Just don't call your reporters. I'm sure the prison will make a statement once this is over."

"What's over?"

"There's been an… incident. I don't know the details. But the guards are trying to get things calmed down. Until that happens, no visitors are allowed inside."


"But that's just it. People are panicking. How can I sit by and just let that happen?" Clark ran his free hand through his hair in frustration.

"Telling people who you are won't stop it."

"How do you know that, Mom? Maybe if I tell them…"

"Tell them what?" asked Jonathan. "Clark, your mother's right. Even if you stand up and say that you are the masked man, it's not going to calm the panic. In fact, I suspect it will make it worse. After all, when your full history comes out, people will begin to suspect their neighbors of being 'another demon.' You can't even tell them how you came to have these powers."

"So what do I do?"

"I think you just lie low — give things some time to calm down. Without any new 'sightings,' people are likely to relegate this incident to the back of their minds," Martha said. "They might even decide it was some sort of elaborate hoax. I think that's about the only thing you can do."

Clark let out a slow breath. His folks were right. He couldn't answer people's questions. He knew he wasn't some sort of demonic presence made manifest. But other than that… What did he really know about himself? Was he an alien? Was he some sort of genetic freak or experiment? He simply didn't know anything about who he was or why he was there. These questions had haunted him most of his life. And he was no closer to finding the answers now than he had been when he'd first asked them. How could he tell people what he didn't know himself?


Clark made his way through the security doors and into the Metropolis Women's Prison with a copy of the Daily Planet tucked under his arm. He wasn't entirely sure why, but he needed to see Lois tonight. He knew, of course, that she was likely to ask all about today's ferry disaster. And that thought had kept him from coming immediately after work. But he just felt… for some reason, with his world falling apart, he wanted to see her. He was so lost in thought that it took him a moment to realize that there were wall-to-wall people — far more than he had encountered on previous visits.


Clark turned towards the sound of his name, stunned when he saw Perry. For a moment, he had the intense desire to turn around and run. Not only had he 'missed the day's story' as far as Perry was concerned, but he wasn't entirely sure how to explain his presence at the prison.

"Perry?" he said awkwardly.

"What are you doing here?"

"I… uhh… I just wanted…" He looked around uncomfortably, hoping for some inspiration. He really didn't want to tell Perry that he was there to see Lois. It wasn't that he minded Perry knowing that he was working with Lois on the Cooke story. In fact, he intended, should they get the story, to talk to Perry about including Lois' name on the byline. No. It was that… For reasons Clark couldn't quite name, he liked the idea that no one knew about his little visits to Lois. These visits belonged to him. And he didn't want to share them with anyone else — at least not yet. But…

"Are you here to see Lois?"

"Umm… Well, sort of, I guess."


Clark squirmed uncomfortably at the knowing tone in his boss' voice. "No. It's nothing like that."

"Like what?" Perry asked innocently.

"I just…" Clark suddenly noticed the copy of the Daily Planet he was squeezing to death. "I just came to give her this." He held up the paper. "Since you're here, I guess I could just leave it with you." He handed Perry the paper and was about to leave when it hit him that he still didn't know why there were so many people there. "What's going on?" he asked, gesturing around them.

"There was some sort of… incident. That's all I've been able to get out of them so far. But the sirens stopped some time ago and they haven't sent us all home yet so… Clark? Clark?"

But Clark had stopped listening and was currently looking through the walls, stretching out with his x-ray vision as he let wall after wall drop from view in his desperation to know one thing and one thing only. He let out a breath of relief when he saw Lois safely in her cell.

"Clark? Are you all right, son?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah. Fine. Well, I guess I should…" He gestured at the door behind him. He didn't wait for Perry's response before making his escape.


It was close to ten o'clock before Perry was told that he had five minutes visiting time. He gave the paper to the guard and made his way into the visiting room. Lois was already seated, waiting for him. His face lit up in a smile when he saw her. He had to admit, when he'd been told about the incident, he'd been concerned.

Taking a seat, he picked up the phone. "How ya doing, honey?"

"Fine. For a little while there, I wasn't sure. But I'm fine."

"What happened?"

"Things got a little… intense after the news report about The Demon. So what's the word on him?"

"Not much more than what you probably already know. Kent was apparently at the docks when the ferry disaster took place."

"Really? What did he have to say?"

Perry studied her for a moment before voicing his thoughts, curious to see how she would react. "He was right there, and he completely missed the story. He came back with a number of good interviews about escapes from the ferry. But nothing about this… terrorist, or whatever he is."

"Kent's new, Perry. You've got to cut him some slack."

Perry smirked. He didn't know what had happened during previous visits been Lois and Clark, but something had if Lois was defending him for missing the story.

"What?" Lois demanded.

"Nothing, I just…" He looked at the guard standing near the door. "Could you give her that item I gave you?"

"Perry, what's…" Her voice trailed off when a guard came over and handed her a copy of the Daily Planet. She looked up at Perry in confusion.

"Ran into Kent in the waiting area. He took off pretty quickly when he saw me, but he asked that I give you that. He had much the same look on his face when I caught him here as is on your face right now."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Lois responded, breaking eye contact.

Perry threw his head back and roared with laughter.

"Okay, cut it out, Perry. It's not funny."

Perry finally got his laughter under control, especially when the implications of what he now suspected began to set in. "I just hope you know what you're doing, honey. You could seriously break that boy's heart."

Even though she was refusing to look at him, he could see a pained expression crinkle her forehead. Then she let out a breath. "It's not like that, Perry." She finally met his eyes. "Really, it's not. I like his company. And we've been talking stories. I've been giving him a few tips. Nothing more."

"Lois, honey, I didn't get to be editor and chief because I can yodel — which, by the way, I can. Yodel-a-eh-hoo."

The smile that Lois gave him in response cut through the tension he'd felt in the air after his expression of concern for Clark Kent. He'd said what he needed to say. The rest was up to her.

"So, Perry, tell me everything you know about this demon," Lois said, getting them off the Kent issue and obviously desperate to get every last detail of this new story.

He immediately began filling her in on everything he knew.


Lois was lost in thought as she lay on her cot, staring at the drab gray ceiling. Perry was wrong. Lois had no doubt about that. She'd been nothing but insulting to Clark Kent since the moment she had first laid eyes on him. There was no way he was developing feelings for her, beyond, perhaps, the feelings of respect for a fellow reporter. He wouldn't be seeking her help with his story if he didn't respect her abilities. But beyond that… No. Clark's heart was in no danger of being broken when the state finally got around to sticking that needle in her arm.

As for her… Well, it didn't really matter what she thought. After all, it wasn't as if anything could come of it anyway. But it was nice to have something to think about in this place other than… well, this place. And if there was anything she could say about Clark Kent it was that he gave her things to think about. The story, of course. But beyond that, he was… "cute."

Okay, so she'd said it. He was cute. Everything from those bedroom eyes… Oh yeah. She'd noticed those eyes, even if he did hide them behind glasses. …to that muscular body, even if he did disguise it with ill-fitting suits. But was he her type?

Hell no. He was too laid back, not nearly ambitious enough for her. In the real world, she'd scare him off before they even made it past first base. He was the home in the suburbs. She was a condo downtown. He was supper on the table every night at six. She was take out food at midnight. No. They had nothing in common. But as far as his looks were concerned… She wasn't entirely sure she'd ever found a man as attractive as Clark Kent. Of course, she was trapped in a women's prison so it wasn't as if she was making regular comparisons. Not that in the current situation there was any harm in a little fantasizing.

She closed her eyes and allowed herself to be swept away by those fantasies.


If the day could get any worse, Clark wasn't entirely sure how. He hoped his mother was right and things would calm down. But so far, there was no sign of it. Everyone was obsessed with The Demon. In fact, Perry had suspended research on all other stories to put all his reporters on 'getting the story' about The Demon.

But Clark had the story. So although he'd gone through the motions, he felt like a complete fraud when he returned to the newsroom with nothing new.

But that wasn't the worst part. He'd only put in a brief appearance at the docks. He was afraid that if he stayed long, someone might recognize him from the ferry the day before — especially given all the television cameras at the docks. The docks had become a center for every nutcase seeking camera time. The Neo-Nazis were claiming it was a Zionist plot. Groups obsessed with Aliens were divided into two groups. One telling the 'alien' to go home. The other welcoming him — and usually inviting him to a party. Religious groups grasped onto the demon concept. Government conspiracy groups were convinced the entire thing was a hoax to create fear in the population which would, in turn, allow the government to curtail civil liberties thereby making the government even more powerful.

There was one thing, however, that he'd learned from his trip to the docks. He'd managed to get a closer look at the ferry's engine. And he'd seen the remnants of what appeared to be some sort of remote control device. That meant, if he were right, that the bomb might have been set off by remote.

The problem was that everyone, even the experts analyzing the disaster, was so focused on The Demon that Clark wasn't entirely sure they would follow up on it. That left the task up to him. He'd called Henderson and without telling him he had spotted a remote since he couldn't explain it without admitting that he could see through walls, told Henderson that he'd picked up a tip that there might have been some tampering to the engine. Henderson had promised to follow up on it.

During that phone call, Henderson also told him something that Clark found surprisingly coincidental. In addition to the removal of the safety device that prevented someone from getting an electrical shock through the phone line, they had also found a very small remote device inside the phone. Henderson had speculated that someone had called Cooke to make sure he was holding the phone before using the remote to send the shock.

After hanging up the phone, Clark leaned back in his chair, lost in thought. There was something… something nagging at the back of his mind. Remote control. What was it about that concept that was troubling him?

"Jimmy!" he exclaimed when he spotted the young man heading across the bullpen.

"What's up?" asked Jimmy, making his way over to Clark's desk.

"Could you get me a list of…" He hesitated. What exactly was he looking for? "Scientists, engineers, weapons experts that type of people."

"That could be a huge list, C.K."

Clark clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "Well, I think you can limit it to people in New Troy. But I can't think of a way to narrow it down more than that."

"You thinking that this demon was created by some scientist?"

"Something like that," Clark replied in resignation.

"I'll get right on it."


Lois stared at Clark in disbelief.

"Come on, Lois. I need your help here. Jimmy gave me this list of scientists. But to me it's just a list of names. You must recognize some of them — tell me who among them might be able to send that electrical charge over the phone to kill Theodore Cooke."

"Clark, what are you doing?"

"Investigating Theodore Cooke's death. What did you think…"

"Are you seriously telling me that Perry doesn't have everyone investigating The Demon?"

Clark shifted uncomfortably. "I just figured… They've got enough people investigating that guy. What do they need me for?"

"The 'guy', as you call him, not only killed almost a hundred people, he also… if I recall correctly… flew! This isn't just another story. This is THE story. No one is going to care who killed Theodore Cooke."

"Maybe that's all the more reason I should," Clark said stubbornly. "Besides, I'm thinking that there might be a connection between the ferry disaster and Cooke's death."

Lois sat up straighter. "How do you figure?"

"Well, first, Cooke's extra two thousand dollar a month payments started when he was doing some work for the city at the ferry docks."

"Okay," said Lois slowly, obviously still not convinced.

"The phone call when Cooke was killed came from the docks."


"When I was snooping around there today, I noticed what looked to me like some remote transmitter attached to the engine that exploded. Then I talked to Henderson, he said that a remote device was also found in the phone that was used to kill Cooke."

"If a remote control on the ship was used to cause the explosion, I would have thought it would be destroyed. Besides, I thought The Demon was responsible."

"The fact that the transmitter wasn't destroyed makes me think that it was connected to the explosion."

"How do you figure?"

"Sometimes, items at the very center of an explosion won't be destroyed. I don't exactly understand why, but…" He shrugged.

"Still, that doesn't mean…"

"Cooke was killed by someone who had some knowledge of science. The explosion on the ferry was caused by someone with a knowledge of science. A remote seems to have been used in both cases. And with the connection to the docks…"

"I don't…" Lois' voice suddenly trailed off. Suddenly, her eyes lit up. "Maybe this 'demon' is actually some sort of science experiment! A remote controlled android or something!" she exclaimed. "Clark, you just might be a genius — even if you did miss that final connection."

"That's not…"

"Come on. Do you have a better explanation? Or are you one of those who actually think The Demon is some sort of physical manifestation of a spiritual force?"

"Of course not. But… please don't call him a demon. We don't know he's evil."

"Other than sinking the boat, killing dozens of people?"

"How do we know that he wasn't trying to save the people on the ferry?"

"Heroes don't wear masks."

"Maybe some do."

Lois rolled her eyes. "Figures."


"Clark, you always have to find the most unbelievably optimistic explanation, don't you. But if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…" Lois kissed the tips of her fingers. "…tastes good with plum sauce…"

"It could still be a swan."

Lois rolled her eyes. Still, she looked down at the list of names he'd given her. "Joey Bermuda," she said slowly as she spotted the first name she recognized on the list. "He is also known as 'The Handyman'. Now, if there was a remote controlled bomb, Joey might be responsible. He used such a bomb to kill Mindy Church. I was interviewing her at the time. I barely escaped with my life. He seems to take a great deal of pleasure in finding unique ways to kill people. Always said it was important to take pride in one's work. Later on, he almost managed to kill me — I guess I was getting too close — by having my microwave transmit a… sound of some sort."

"How did you get away?"

"I managed to crawl out the door and call the police. We caught him because of an android my father… Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Joey Bermuda would have the ability to kill using both an electrical charge through the phone line and a remote control. There is one thing, however."

"What's that?"

"Joey never kills people for the fun of it. He is a contract killer — which means if he is involved, he's working for someone else."

"Any idea who?"

"Well, he was doing a lot of work for Intergang for a while. So… I don't know. With both Bill Churches in jail and Mindy Church dead, I don't know who the head of Intergang might be these days. After the microwave attack, the police raided his place. They discovered evidence implicating him, not only for his attack on me, but also for the death of Mindy Church."

"But if they found this evidence, isn't Bermuda in prison?"

"He got off on a technicality. Apparently the search warrant wasn't in order."

"Okay, so check out Joey Bermuda," said Clark, making a note.

"Alfred Carlton committed suicide after it was discovered that he was experimenting with making children smarter," Lois said, coming to the next name on the list. "Jefferson Cole was a scientist for Star Labs. He was in weapons research."


"Well, he was working illegally on some unusual weapon that would, at least in theory, kill all living things and still leave infrastructure in tact. There was talk that he had plans to sell the completed product to a terrorist group."


"Oh yeah. That was our Professor Cole all right. Charming. Dr. Klein leaked the story to me, and I brought in Inspector Henderson. When they hauled Cole away, he was spouting curses, promising that he would get his revenge on all three of us. But, unlike Joey, the last I heard, Cole was in prison. But he would certainly have the ability to kill Cooke and to cause an explosion on the ferry. I suspect he was even brilliant enough to create that 'demon.' At least, he was always telling everyone how brilliant he was. I suppose he could be helping someone on the outside."

Clark added Jefferson Cole to his list.

"Marcus Daitch. He became the director of EPRAD after Toni Baines was killed in a freak helicopter explosion. I guess if anyone could create some sort of flying demon, it would be EPRAD. But as far as I know, he's never been involved in any illegal dealings. I also know Veda Doodsen."

"Who is she?"

And so began a long recitation of the scientists Lois had had dealings with over the years. Veda Doodsen, Charles Fain and Stanley Gables. Then Lois came upon a name that made her pause.

"Kyle Griffin," she said slowly.

"Who is he?"

"Kyle Griffin — also known as The Prankster."

"Right. I've heard of him."

"He had a big oaf working for him named Victor. Griffin was the brilliance behind the schemes, but he wasn't the genius who created the devices. That was Victor. I doubt one could have survived without the other. At one point, they both worked for Griffin's father, Edwin Griffin. He had a toy company."

"As in remote control toys?"

"That was their specialty, if I recall correctly." Suddenly, Lois sat forward in her chair. "And on one occasion, they actually killed someone by sending an electrical charge through the phone line."

"What? Why haven't I heard of this?"

"We were never able to prove definitively that Griffin was behind it."

"So how well did you know this Griffin character? Or, well, let me guess. You're the one responsible for sending him and his cohort, Victor, to jail."

"Sort of. And, boy, do they hate me. Well, that's not exactly true. Griffin hates me with a vengeance. Victor… Well, Victor seems to have a bit of a crush on me. Don't look at me like that, Clark! Some men actually do seem to find me attractive!"

"No, I didn't mean…" Clark began, flustered.

"Anyway," Lois continued, dismissing Clark's discomfort, "Victor would certainly have the ability to create a remote control that would cause an explosion on the ferry. And we already know that they were likely the ones who killed before using an electrical charge through the phone line. I tell you, for a while there, I was terrified every time I picked up a phone."

"So where are Griffin and Victor now? Oh, wait. Let me guess, in prison."

"No actually. They broke out of prison by creating a type of freeze machine. It gave off a blast of light that would, for a period of time, freeze everyone they used it on. They even tried to kidnap the President of the United States. Anyway, Professor Hamilton created contact lenses that would keep a person from being frozen. I managed to get to the President in time to stop the kidnapping, but Griffin and Victor escaped before the secret service men were able to arrest them. I lived in fear for quite a while after that. But they simply… vanished. I have no idea where they might be at the moment."

Clark added Kyle Griffin and his partner, Victor, to the list of people to check out.

Lois continued running through the list of names. Emil Hamilton, who she dismissed immediately. He might be a little eccentric but he wasn't a murderer. Henry Harrison, a computer genius. Stuart Hofferman who had been her source on a story. These she also dismissed out of hand.

"Bad Brain Johnson," she said slowly. "He's dead. But his brother, Herkimer Johnson, is still alive. Herkimer claimed that he was the one who actually invented all of Bad Brain's toys. Herkimer would certainly be capable of creating the devices necessary for both tasks. I think he might even be capable of creating The Demon"

"Where is he now?"

"In prison. But he wasn't overly concerned about human life. I can see him killing all those people on the ferry — just to try out some new invention. And given that he let Bad Brain use his inventions before, I don't think it's off the wall to think that someone might be acting for him again. Did you know that as a boy, he actually built a real, working electric chair? When his mother found out that he was a real criminal now, she was so proud. It was… sick."

"So I see what I can find out about Herkimer Johnson."

Gretchen Kelly was crossed off the list since she was dead. Lex Luthor had killed her following his rise from the dead. Clark had sensed some… sadness in Lois at her mention of Luthor's name. But he didn't feel at liberty following up on it. Dr. Bernard Klein was also crossed off the list. Lois was simply unable to believe he could be involved. Eugene Ladderman, a computer expert was dismissed as a suspect. His science experience was not in the appropriate fields. Then Lois hesitated, her finger running cautiously over the next name.

Clark looked over. "A relative of yours?"

"My father." Lois gave Clark a sad smile and a small shrug. "If anyone would be able to create a flying cyborg, it's him."

"Lois, I'm sure your father isn't involved."

She looked up at him, not nearly as confident and for just a moment, he was tempted to tell her that no one had created a flying cyborg. Still, reason kicked in at the last moment, and he held his tongue.

"My father started out doing research to create working body parts for people who had been in catastrophic accidents. But a few years ago, I discovered that he was behind a plot to create… superhuman body parts for prize fighters."

"What did you do?"

"I wrote the story. Anyway, he disappeared for quite a while after that. I've actually only seen him once since. Last Christmas. He and my mother, not knowing that the other was going to show up, ended up at my place on Christmas eve uninvited." She gave a humorless laugh. "My father showed up with a… date."

"That must have made things uncomfortable."

"My parents divorced when I was twelve. But, yeah. And that is putting it mildly. But that wasn't the worst part. Turns out his 'date,' Baby, was actually a cyborg. It was probably my worst Christmas yet."

"I'm so sorry, Lois."

She shrugged, feigning indifference. "I haven't seen my dad since then. I'm not even sure where he is these days. But if the past is anything to go by… Let's just say that my dad might not be involved in the ferry disaster. But it wouldn't surprise me to find out that he invented the cyborg. He'd consider creating a flying cyborg a great achievement — without thinking through the consequences. And he could be working for anyone — provided they had enough money to fund his experiments. I really think you have to add him to your list."

Clark's pen hovered over the paper for a long moment. Finding someone who could create flying cyborgs was not even a question. Still, he couldn't tell Lois that. So, after a moment of indecision, he added the name 'Dr. Sam Lane' to his list.

Fabian Leek who was working on cloning was dismissed as a suspect. As was Harold Light who had been killed a couple of years previously. Dr. Isaac Mamba, Lois announced, was exactly the type to be involved in something like this, but since cloning wouldn't explain how the man flew, he was crossed off the list. Dr. Elias Mendenthall had been involved in the creation of assassins through mind control. But other than that, he hadn't seemed to be much of an inventor. Allan Morris had invented a suit that made the wearer invisible. But invisible wasn't a quality present here. Nell Newtrich's inventions seemed to run exclusively in the field of lasers. So far, Lois hadn't run into the Newtrich sisters in prison, but it was a big place — although the mere thought of running into Lucille Newtrich left Lois feeling anxious. Lucille wouldn't even have to try to kill her. After an hour alone in the same room with that woman, Lois would want to kill herself.

"Thadeous Roarke."

"Who's he?"

"He's a weapons expert. If we hadn't stopped him in time, he would have set off a signal that would have caused a weapon that Lex made for the military to overreact during a test and destroy all of Metropolis with a giant tidal wave."

"Sounds like a suspect."

"I agree. And he managed to escape from prison a couple years ago."

"Sounds like a lot of people escape from prison around here."

Lois laughed. "Yeah. But only the guilty ones."

Clark filed that little comment away in his mind as Lois looked back at the list.

"Oh, here's a candidate," she said. "Vasili Sawchenko." To Clark's lost look, Lois continued. "He went by the name of Lucky Leon. But when we dug into his background, we found out that he was the former Chief of the Technical Department, Executive Action Section, First Chief Directorate, KGB. Sort of a 'Q' from the James Bond movies — but for the other side, of course. He actually used a remote control to try to crash Jimmy's car."


"Yeah. Fortunately, at the last moment, Jimmy just turned off his car and it came to stop. But Sawchenko used a lot of unusual weapons. I wouldn't put it past him to blow up the ferry just to demonstrate some new weapon. If The Demon is some sort of remote control device, I'd say Lucky Leon is one of our top candidates"

"Isn't he in prison?"

Lois shook her head. "He only served about a year. I think he made some deal with the government. He had a lot of Russian intelligence to trade, after all."

"But the Russians are our friends."

Lois didn't respond. She simply rolled her eyes.

She ran through the next few names quite quickly. Winslow Schott, Larry Smiley, Martin Solsvig, Spencer Spencer and Lenny Stokes. She hesitated once again on the next names.

"Emmett and Rollie Vale. Yeah. I'd say they are possibly involved."

"What did they do?"

"The Vale brothers created a robot using a plutonium power source. But they were still having problems, so they added a human brain. Actually, they used Johnny Corbin's brain. He was my sister's boyfriend. Although why they chose his brain is still a mystery to me. The robot was undoubtedly smarter and definitely less insane."

"What happened to them?"

"They got away. But not before they removed the plutonium power source from Johnny Corbin — killing him."

"So they're still out there somewhere?"

"Yeah. But they had the potential to create this flying demon."

Clark's pen hovered over the list for a moment. But then he wrote down the names. Still, he was lost in thought as Lois ran through the rest of the list. Annette Westerman, Ryan Wiley, Claudette Wilder, Katherine Wilder and Jason Xavier. All of them had used science for evil purposes. But none of the last few seemed to use the same type of science that would have been needed in this case.

Finally, Lois leaned back in her chair. "The rest of the names are unfamiliar to me."

Clark nodded slowly. Even if he removed those that seemed to specialize in robots or cyborgs, he was left with six good suspects. A couple of them seemed to be in prison. But even from prison, it was possible that they were somehow involved.

"So… what's your next step?" asked Lois.

"I'm going to try to track these people down. Maybe look to see if there is any connection between them and Theodore Cooke."

"Good. So you'll let me know what you find?"

"Of course."

"'Cause the creature who killed all those people… If he is some sort of creation, then the bastard who created him has to be caught. If not, then The Demon has to be caught, made to pay for his crimes. Just give me five minutes in the same room with him. He'll be walking funny for a year."

Clark cleared his throat, shifting uncomfortably.


"Nothing. Well, okay, I've been thinking about the Cooke connection. Cooke had been receiving payments and he worked for the city in Transport. And then with the ferry disaster… Maybe someone wanted a favor from that department."

"Possibly. Of course, the ferry connection would suggest that they were transporting something illegal."

"Or wanting special treatment for their goods."

"But then why would someone plant a bomb in the ferry to blow it up? They'd be blowing up their own property. But if it is some sort of smuggling operation, my money would be on Vasili Savchenko, Lucky Leon. I got the distinct impression that he had connections to the Russian Mafia."

"Still, that doesn't answer why he'd want the ferry blown up."

"True. Unless they were trying to sink something that they didn't want discovered. Sink the ferry, lose the stuff. But what stuff?"


Clark sank down on a bench outside the prison completely depressed. Their brainstorming session had gone well. On the other hand, from their discussion it was painfully obvious that if Lois knew he was The Demon, as she still insisted on calling him, she'd hate him. She'd never believe he'd been trying to help out at the disaster. Not that anyone else would either. But for a reason he wasn't quite ready to name, what Lois thought mattered more than anyone else.

As he sat in the dark, he allowed the walls of the prison to fade from view until he could see Lois. She sat on her cot, reading the copy of the Daily Planet he had brought her. He leaned back, just enjoying how engrossed she was in the paper. And for the first time since he'd seen the news report about The Demon, he felt at peace. Time passed. Clark had no idea how much. People walked by. Clark ignored them. Instead, he drew strength from her simple activity.

Focusing his hearing, he could pick up her quiet breathing, even the slow beat of her heart. Suddenly, he was lost in the image of her, curled up on his sofa, reading the paper after a hard day's work. He allowed the image to move forward until he was part of the picture. She looked up at him, his heart melting as he got lost in her doe-like eyes.


He was jolted out of his daydream by the harsh sound of a man's voice. For a moment, Clark thought the man must be addressing him until… He saw Lois' head shoot up and drew back slightly to realize that a man, standing in the doorway to her cell, was addressing her.

"You're going to ruin your eyes, reading by that pitiful lamp," the man said.

Only then did Clark realize that sometime since he'd started watching, the prison had gone dark. There were a couple of cells where people still had lamps on. Otherwise, the place was locked down for the night. Except for Lois' cell.

"Max… Hi." She rose to her feet. "I guess I didn't realize how late it had gotten." Her voice was measured, cautious. "Anyway, thanks for pointing that out. I guess I should be going to bed."

"Are you sure you don't want to talk? I made sure no one will be down here for at least half an hour. We're all alone. When you didn't take me up on my offer the other day, I realized that you need my help more than I thought."

Lois let out a breath. "Look, Max, I know you are just trying to help, but I really don't want to talk about this."

"Then what do you want to talk about? I noticed from your visitor's list that the Daily Planet's newest reporter has been hanging around a lot lately."

Clark's eyes shot back to Lois. There was a noticeable increase in her heart rate.

"Lois, Lois, Lois." Max shook his head slowly. "You're transferring again — allowing yourself to be swept away by a man who you seem to regard as your means of escape. Not literally, of course. But by involving you in his investigation, he's keeping you from properly dealing with the reality of your situation. He's keeping you connected to the outside world — making you think there's life beyond these walls. It's not healthy. You are on death row. There's no means of escape. Accept that."

Clark's eyes flicked back to Lois. She had narrowed her eyes and her arms were folded defensively across her chest.

"I don't see how it's any of your business."

"Everything about you is my business. I'm the only one who can help you — the only one who really cares about you." The man was moving closer. "The sooner you realize that I'm your only real friend here, the better off you'll be."

Lois cocked her head to the side. "I'd be careful if I were you. If I ever report your conduct during my amnesia, you're going to be…"

"And who is going to believe a convicted murderer?"

"Excuse me?"

Lois was trying to sound annoyed, but underneath, Clark could sense her fear. Her eyes darted to the sides of the man as if looking for a means of escape.

Max smirked. "Come on, Lois. It's not as if we haven't done this before. And who knows, you might actually enjoy yourself. I don't recall you complaining too much before." As he spoke, he moved slowly closer.

Lois' careful retreat matched his movements until her withdrawal was blocked by the back wall of the small cell. "Look, Max. We're over. Whether I'm in prison or not isn't going to make a difference."

"And you've got better prospects?" He placed his hand on the wall next to her head. "Or do you think Clark Kent, all American boy, is going to be interested in you after what you did? Come on, Lois. Even you can't be that delusional."

"I'll scream," she warned.

Max chuckled. "And when they come… if they come, I'll just tell them I was trying to prevent you from escaping." His final steps to close the distance between them were fast.

Lois struck out, her fist connecting with his nose.

"Bitch," he growled. "That's the last time you're ever going to hit me." Grabbing her arms, he pinned her against the wall as his lips landed hard on hers.

Clark didn't remember the trip into the prison. All he knew was that a moment later, he was standing in Lois' cell with Max lying unconscious on the floor.

"What… Where…?" Lois stuttered as if trying to figure out what was happening.

"Are you all right?"

"But how did you…" She made her way past him, looking out into the darkened hallway as if hoping that it would give her some insight into what had just transpired.

"Come on," Clark said, stepping out into the hall.

"What? And go where?" Lois asked, looking at Clark in disbelief.

"We've got to go now! He could wake up any minute. And if he does, it's over."

Lois looked back at Max.

"If you're here when he comes to, he's going to claim you attacked him. We have to get you out of here now!" Clark whispered harshly.


"Come on!" Clark stretched out his hand towards Lois.

Lois hesitated for only a moment more before taking the offered hand and nodding.


"Wait!" whispered Lois. They were safely out of the prison and heading as quickly as possible away from the compound when she spotted something she needed.

"What?" asked Clark.

Without answering his question, Lois headed through the dark towards the prison warden's house. Some clothes were hanging out on a clothesline.

"Lois, what…?"

"His wife is about the same size as I am," she said, quickly removing a pair of slacks and a hooded sweatshirt.

"You're… stealing them?"

She turned towards him, only able to see his face partially through the darkness. "I'm borrowing them," she said firmly. "I just broke out of prison. It's not as if I want to walk out on the streets in clothes that announce to the entire world that I just escaped from prison. Do you have a better idea?" She began stripping off her prison clothes.

Clark quickly turned away.

"Well… Are we going to stand around here all day?" asked Lois as she was pulling on the sweatshirt.


He had just helped a convicted murderer escape from prison. That thought didn't fully sink in until he was seated, with Lois, in the back of a darkened cab headed in the general direction of his apartment. 'Not the best mode of transport for a prison break.' That had been Lois' only comment when, after they had escaped, he began looking for a cab. As a result, when they climbed inside, Clark directed the cabby to an address that was only in the general vicinity of his apartment.

He glanced over at Lois. She was staring straight ahead, obviously lost in thought. What was she thinking? Was she thinking about that Max guy? There was obviously some sort of history between the two of them. Was she thinking about what had almost happened in that cell? Or perhaps she was wondering, as was he, about what was supposed to happen now. Clark hoped she had some idea. Because his mind was drawing a complete blank.

The idea of breaking Lois out of prison had never even crossed his mind until he'd found himself, her hand lost in his, leading her away from what he saw as a very real threat. Getting her away from that man had been his only thought. But now what?

He let out a slow breath. In his peripheral vision, he realized that his breathing had caused Lois to look in his direction, but he didn't return her look. Still, he couldn't help wonder what was going through her mind.


Clark opened the door of his apartment and flicked on the light before stepping to the side to allow Lois to enter. She hadn't said a word — not during the ride in the cab, not during the walk afterwards to his apartment. But then, he hadn't said a word either — mostly because he had no idea what to say. What did one say to a convicted murderer after busting her out of jail — especially when he didn't know exactly why he had done it?

"So…" she said slowly, "…this is your place."


Clark stood just inside the closed door as Lois made her way down the stairs, taking everything in. She turned around and looked at him and he could see the wheels turning behind her eyes.

"So… the boy-scout's having second thoughts about breaking a murderer out of jail."

"Are you?"

"Am I… what?"

"A murderer."

Without answering the question, she turned away from him, wandering slowly through the living room until she stopped to pick up a picture of Clark with his parents.

"Well," he finally said, "it's late. Why don't you just…"

"Why did you do it?" Lois interrupted, turning suddenly towards him.

He didn't ask what she was referring to. It wasn't necessary. "I don't know," he answered honestly. "I didn't really think it through. But when I saw that guy manhandling you…" He shrugged. When he saw her eyebrows rise, he quickly changed the subject. "To tell the truth, I don't even know what happens now."

"Well, if you're expecting… something… in exchange for your assistance, you can forget it."


"Oh, come on," Lois responded. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. Don't try to hide behind that…" She gestured, sweeping her hand in an up and down motion towards him. "…all-American boy-scout image. I was handling Max. And I can handle you, too."

"You think…"

"I don't think. I know that even if you put on that boy-scout image, you don't do something this drastic without expecting something…"

"Ms. Lane," he interrupted, his temper rising, "I assure you, sleeping with you is the last thing on my mind."

"Yeah, right." She turned away from him.

He covered the distance between them, taking her by the shoulders and turning her towards him. His lips landed on hers, pulling away again before she could react and releasing her. He smacked his lips together. "Nah. Not my type." He couldn't help but feel a small sense of satisfaction at the stunned look on her face.

He walked away, going into his room. She was still standing, looking at him in confusion when he returned carrying some sheets, a blanket and pillow. He handed them to her. "The couch makes up into a bed. Goodnight, Ms. Lane. It's past my bedtime. Feel free to raid my kitchen if you're hungry."

Without waiting for her response, he turned, walking back into his bedroom, only starting to breath again when he was finally alone. The kiss… That first kiss… The temptation to continue when he felt her lips pressed lightly against his had been overwhelming. He'd never known he could feel such desire. He'd been hard pressed to follow through on his initial plan… In fact, he'd been having problems remembering there even was a plan. It was just that that woman… Never had he met someone who could make him so completely furious and still bring every molecule in his body to life at the same exact time.


Lois stood for a long moment, just staring at the doorway to what was obviously Clark's room. What had just happened? She wasn't entirely certain. Her fingers came up and lightly touched her still-tingling lips. When he'd stormed across the room and kissed her, she'd been too stunned to react. And given what she'd just accused him of and her earlier encounter with Max, his aggressive behavior should have scared her. But she couldn't say she'd been scared. Aroused, yes. Scared, no. In fact, after he had kissed her and walked away, she'd been tempted to go after him — insist that he finished what he'd started. How pathetic was she? Even his comments about her not being his type had barely registered.

She made her way absently into the kitchen, opening a cupboard. Ho-Hos. Ding-Dongs. Twinkees. Snickers. She glanced at the bedroom in confusion. How was that possible? Putting the small mystery aside of how someone could eat like an eight year old and still look like Mr. Hard-body, she turned her attention back to the issue at hand — her attraction to Clark Kent.

It had to be prison life that made her react to him the way she was. Men weren't exactly in supply — well, except for Max. She shivered slightly. If it hadn't been for Clark's interference… In the real world, she'd have been completely confident in her ability to deal with Maxwell Deter. But in prison… She'd feared that even if she fought him off that time, she wouldn't be able to the next. And given the fact that her every movement was monitored while he had the free run of the place, she would never know where the next attack might come from. So when Clark had shown up…

Her thought trailed off. How had Clark even known she was in danger? And how had he gotten into the prison? When she thought about it, she wasn't even entirely sure how they had got out. She'd simply followed as he'd led her, almost as if he had a sixth sense about how to avoid people, through the prison. In fact, thinking back now, she had to admit it was odd that so many of the prison doors had been left unlocked.

Of course, she should never have left. On the other hand, what were they going to do to her? They could only kill her once, after all. Still, they could do something to the boy-scout. She pulled in a breath. She was safe enough. They had no leverage on her. But Clark… She never should have allowed him to put himself in this position. She ran a hand through her hair.

Hopefully, they would think that he was too much of a boy-scout to break someone out of prison. After all, he was the only one, other than Perry, that ever came to visit her anymore.

But it wasn't as if she could do anything about it tonight. And in the meantime, there was something she wanted, desperately wanted to experience again before she died. Her heart rate rose at the mere thought of knowing such ecstasy once again. She walked to the door of Clark's room and looked inside. He was in bed. She waited until he looked up before speaking.

"I was wondering…" She hesitated momentarily, unsure how he would react. Would he think she was being too forward? "…do you have a bath tub?"


Clark sat up on his bed and put on his glasses. For the past ten minutes, he'd been trying to sleep. But the sounds coming from his bathroom were making that impossible. The silky sound of her clothes sliding off her body and falling to the floor. The delicate sound of her foot slipping into the hot water. The soft moans she'd made while relaxing into the water. Since then, her gentle murmurs of enjoyment had been completely distracting. How was he supposed to sleep with all that ruckus going on?

Getting up, he slipped on a pair of jeans and pulled a t-shirt over his head. Maybe a glass of milk would help. He had just filled his glass and was turning around when he spotted her, standing in the doorway to his room, her body lost in his bathrobe.

"I found this on the back of the door. I hope you don't mind." She pushed a strand of wet hair behind her ear.

"No. No. That's…" His voice trailed off. God was she sexy. "Umm… Look… would you like…" He gestured to the milk he was holding.

She nodded, making her way to the table and taking a seat as he turned to busy himself with getting her a glass of milk, glad for the chance to compose himself before having to talk to her again.

"I've got a few questions," she said. "I mean, I don't want you to think I'm ungrateful for your help tonight, but… Well, how exactly did you know I needed your help? And how did you get into the prison? And for that matter, how did you get me out? I mean, that seemed a little… easy to me."

"Did you want it to be difficult?"

"No," Lois said, taking the milk. "That's not what I meant. I just…"

"'Cause I would have thought you would appreciate me getting you away from that thug."

"I didn't say that… No, Clark, I just wanted to know…"

"I could have just let him attack you — if that is what you really wanted. You should have just told me you wanted to be attacked. I would have understood."

"I didn't mean…"

"I should have known. Given the way you've treated me since we first met, why did I bother? You're too tough to need my help. Is that it? Would you rather I'd have left you there?"

"Would you just answer my questions?" asked Lois, her temper obviously rising.

"Why should I? It's not as if you appreciate what I did for you. I saved you from that creep and all you can do is demand more."

"It's not… Well, now that you mention it, I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I didn't need you to come riding in on your white horse to save the day. I've been taking care of myself all my life. And I can do it now." She slammed the glass down on the table, causing a small amount of milk to slosh over the edge. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to sleep!"

"Fine!" Clark rose to his feet, pleased with himself for managing to distract her from her questions. Breaking her out of prison had all happened so quickly that he hadn't managed to come up with a believable story — if such a thing existed — for being her rescuer. Better to have her mad at him than have her pursuing these unanswerable questions.

"Fine!" Lois responded, turning on her heal and storming towards her unmade bed.

He watched as she slapped the sheets on the bed with a vengeance. If he were vulnerable, he'd be glad he wasn't that bed. When she was finished, she turned towards him. "Would you mind getting out of my bedroom?" she asked. "I'm not wearing a whole lot under this."

His gaze drifted to her hands which were on the knot holding the robe together. Although his mind was telling him he had to leave, he seemed unable to obey. He stood there in stunned silence, his eyes riveted to that knot.

"Fine!" she said, beginning to pull at the knot, as if she no longer cared if he were there or not — that she'd decided to go to bed, regardless of what he did.

Even the sudden knocking on the door didn't immediately cut through the fog he was in. It was not until Lois' hands stopped and her eyes met his in desperation that the possible meaning of the knocking penetrated his brain.

"Mr. Kent! Open the door. It's the police."


Her voice, a whispered plea, finally snapped him into action.

"Come on," he said, rushing past her to his closet.

"They're going to look in the closet."

He smiled, pulling on the tie rack to reveal a hidden closet inside. She stared at him for a moment before dashing into the enclosed space.


Lois leaned her forehead against the inside of the closet. How had she allowed this to happen? Her clothes were in the washroom. The couch in the living room was made up into the bed. There were even traces of some perfumed bubble-bath she'd found in Clark's washroom — probably something either his mother, a sister or girlfriend had left in his apartment — in the tub. They would rip this place apart looking for her. And although she was concerned about going back to prison, she was terrified about what they would do to Clark for helping her.

Hearing voices in the next room, she placed her ear against the door.

"Why would you think I'm involved?" she heard Clark ask.

"Other than Perry White, you're the only one visiting her these days."

She recognized Inspector Henderson's voice.

"We've been working together on the Theodore Cooke story," Clark responded. "Why would I bust her out of prison? I've only known her for about a week."

A week. Had it really only been a week? Part of her felt as if she'd known him a lot longer.

"And so you're saying that you have no idea where she is?" Henderson asked.

"You mean right now?" asked Clark.

Lois closed her eyes. The boy-scout was obviously a bad liar. The long pause told Lois that Henderson recognized that Clark was avoiding the question, too.

"As you can see, no one is here," Clark continued, sounding nervous.

Lois gave her head a slight shake. The couch made into a bed. Her clothes in the washroom. How could he even pretend she wasn't there? She could hear men searching the apartment. They would undoubtedly find the evidence of her any second. There was no more speaking, leaving Lois to imagine the moment when the door would undoubtedly be thrown open and she would be found — sending her back to prison and leaving Clark under arrest.

Why had she let him break her out in the first place? He was such a sweetheart. He'd never survive going to prison. Being in a woman's prison was certainly no picnic. But a men's prison… No. Clark couldn't go there. She couldn't stand to think about what they would do to someone like him — how they would change him. That wide-eyed innocence would be gone within a week. And, like everything else, it would be her fault!

She closed her eyes. Maybe if she just gave herself up… But, no, she couldn't do that. Not until she made some sort of deal that would protect Clark.

"So… how did she break out of prison?" she heard Clark ask.

She pressed her ear closer to the door, anxious to hear the answer to that herself.

"She assaulted the prison psychiatrist and then got through an unusual number of broken locks unseen to simply walk out of the prison. Security at the prison is baffled."

"Didn't they have security cameras?"

"The cameras happened to go down just before the whole incident."

"Well, the prison does seem to be a bit run down. Maybe they just don't check the locks or security regularly."

"They check both every night."

Lois crinkled her eyebrows. Clark was hiding something. Had he been trying to break her out of prison even before she'd been attacked by Max? The actions he'd taken to get her out were far too complex to be a spur-of-the-moment decision. It would take time and planning to disable the security system. Henderson's next words brought her back to the subject at hand.

"If you hear from her, I trust you'll let us know."

Lois wasn't entirely sure she heard right. How could they not know that she had at least been there?

"Of course, Inspector."

She heard what sounded like a door closing and then… silence. She stood, frozen to the spot when… She lurched forward when the door opened and almost fell into Clark's arms. He reached out, steadying her.

Looking around, she couldn't believe what she saw. The couch was back to being a couch. She pushed past Clark, making her way to the washroom. Her clothes were nowhere to be seen. Spinning around, she looked at Clark for an explanation.

He didn't provide one. Instead, he walked over to a window, opened it and pulled her neatly-folded clothes and shoes in from the ledge outside, handing them to her.

"I think we should get you out of here," Clark said.

Lois nodded. She couldn't agree more.



Lois was about to open the door when Clark's urgent word stopped her.

"They're out there."

"How do you know?"

"I… Well, I just think they probably are. I don't think they believed me when I told them I didn't know where you were."

Now that Lois could believe. If there was one thing the boy-scout couldn't do, it was lie. That was what made this whole thing so confusing. He'd been in that prison when she'd been attacked. Only one explanation made sense — he'd been planning to break her out of prison even before he'd seen her with Max. It was the one oddity in the small town boy's character.

"So what do we do?"

Clark led her through his apartment to a window that led onto a small balcony out back. He stopped her, lowering his glasses slightly on his nose as he gazed out into the darkness.

"It's clear," he said.

She wasn't sure how he could possibly be sure, but for some reason, she believed him. He opened the window and she skirted through. He followed.

She wasn't entirely sure about this as an escape route when she noticed the rackety old fire escape ladder. Still, there wasn't much choice. She pulled at the ladder, adjusting her position to get a better grip on it when it didn't budge.

"Here," Clark said, reaching around her and easily pulling it down.

She climbed out and began scurrying down the ladder. Clark followed. She reached the bottom and looked down. There was still a good ten feet to the ground. If she got out of this, she was going to insist that Clark write a story on fire escapes that didn't really let people escape. She hesitated, not entirely sure what to do now. She could jump, of course. But… the ground looked unforgiving. Not that there was much choice.

"Here, let me…"

Lois gasped when Clark began climbing past her. "Clark, there's not enough room for…" Her voice trailed off when she realized he was doing it.

Then she heard a loud creak and looked up just as the bolts holding the ladder in place snapped. She felt Clark's arms around her. Time seemed to slow down and, as was often the case during an accident, she felt as if she were falling in slow motion. She struggled in his arms, realizing they both stood a better chance of avoiding injury if they hit the ground and rolled, free of each other. She was still grasping at the ladder. But it was torn from her grip and suddenly… she felt Clark hit the ground beneath her.

"Clark!" she exclaimed, rolling off him. He had broken her fall, but what of him?

"I'm fine," said Clark, scrambling to his feet and holding his hand out to her.

She stared at him in disbelief. How was it that he wasn't hurt? She spotted the ladder lying close by. It was a small miracle they hadn't come down under that heavy piece of metal. If it hadn't somehow been torn from her grasp, they would have.


"Come on!" Clark interrupted with an insistent whisper. "If they heard our commotion, they might come to check it out. We don't have much time."

Grabbing his hand, she allowed him to help her to her feet and then joined him as he dashed further into the alley towards the street behind his.


Lois took the key Clark gave her and made her way towards the room. Cautiously, not entirely sure what type of room she'd find on the other side, she inserted the key in the lock and opened the door. She let out a breath of relief when she saw what appeared to be a decent room. She was even more relieved to discover that it smelled clean.

"I've got the room right next door," said Clark.

She turned back towards him, slightly confused. He could just go back to his apartment. She could fend for herself from here — especially if he wasn't planning to stay with her. Still, she nodded, almost disappointed when he headed towards his room.

Stepping further into the room, she pulled the door closed and looked around. It was a modest room. She spotted an open door and made her way to the washroom. Turning on the light, she looked at herself in the mirror, reaching up automatically to fix her ruffled hair. Leaning closer, she studied her face. Her black eye had almost faded now. In fact, she looked quite… decent.

Satisfied, she turned back into her room. Now what did she do? She spotted another door. Curiously, she made her way towards it. Opening it, she saw a door on the other side. She smiled. Without thinking it though, she knocked.

A moment later, the door opened.

"Hi," said Lois somewhat sheepishly.

"I didn't know these were adjoining rooms."

"So… Are you planning to go to sleep? I wouldn't mind some company for a while. I'm not sure I could sleep after… well, everything. I've got some…" She glanced back into her room, suddenly realizing that she really didn't have anything to offer him. "…water."

"Oh, really," Clark replied in amusement. "Well, how can I turn down an offer like that? I'm fairly certain I didn't get any of that in my room."

Lois chuckled. "Well then, come on in."

Clark settled into the only chair in the room, a wooden, straight-back chair that had been pushed up against an undersized table. He grinned when she emerged from the washroom carrying a glass of water.

"It's a full-bodied, tap-fresh 1996 water," Lois said handing him the glass.

He sniffed the liquid before taking a small sip and swilling it in his mouth before swallowing. "Very refreshing. Just a trace of iron. Aged just right."

Lois chuckled as she settled back on the bed, propping herself up against the headboard.

"So are you ever going to answer my question?" asked Clark, regarding her seriously.

"What question?"

"Are you a murderer?"

She shifted uncomfortably. "No."

"No — you're not a murderer. Or no — you're not going to answer my question."

"I'm not going to answer your question."

"I think, maybe, you just did."

She narrowed her eyes, studying him seriously for a long moment. Then she looked away.

He let out a breath. "Come on, Lois. I think you owe me something here."

She looked back at him, one eyebrow raised in challenge.

"Okay, so maybe I didn't put that right," Clark conceded. "It's just… Whatever the answer is, can't you tell me?"

Her expression softened. "No, Clark. I can't. You're going to have to work out the answer for yourself — if you really want to know."

"I don't understand. Is it because you don't want to lie to me — and don't think I'll like the truth?"

She chewed on her lower lip for a long moment, lost in thought. When she spoke, her voice was slow, each word considered. "If I say, no I'm not a murderer, you won't believe me. On the other hand, if I say yes, you'll regret your decision to break me out of prison tonight. So what do you want me to say? You're going to have to decide for yourself whether you think I'm a murderer."

Clark rose from his chair, coming over to take a seat, facing her, on the side of the bed. "Just tell me the truth — whatever it is."

Lois hand, almost of its own accord, came up to his face, almost touching his cheek before she realized what she was doing. She'd acted instinctively, responding on some primal level to the sincerity in his voice and eyes. She let her hand, unfulfilled, fall back to her lap.

"The truth," she said softly, breaking eye contact. Giving a small shake of her head, she continued. "Honestly… I don't know anymore." There was a long moment of silence until she finally looked up. He was waiting patiently for her to continue. "I remember holding the gun. I remember pointing it at Elroy Sykes. And then… I remember it going off. I swear… I don't remember pulling the trigger. But…"


She let out a slow breath. "Perry doesn't remember testifying against me."

"I don't understand."

She shrugged. "Perry swears he didn't testify against me. But I saw him, Clark. It was one of the most painful moments of my life. He's been more of a father to me than my own ever was. He's my mentor, for crying out loud. I would never tell him this… for fear of hurting him. But I really think he just blocked it out because it was too painful for him to remember. At least, that's the only explanation I can think of for him not remembering. And it's not as if he said anything that was patently untrue. He just sort of crumbled under cross-examination — admitting that I have a temper — which I do. What if I'm just blocking out pulling the trigger?" She met his eyes then, desperate for a reaction — and yet at the same time, terrified of what she might find. She was surprised when he smiled. "What?"

"When I asked for the truth, I didn't know what I'd get. But in all my musings… it wasn't that."

"You're making fun of me."

"No. God, no. Lois, given what you've told me, I seriously doubt that you pulled the trigger. But even if you did, what you just told me is that you're no murderer."

"I don't understand."

"Lois, did you set out to kill Sykes?"


"Do you remember feeling… at any point, angry enough to want to kill him."

"Well, he was making me a little crazy… going on and on about some stupid story that…" When she saw his eyebrows go up, she skipped the story. "No. I guess not."

"There are two elements to a charge of murder. One is the actual pulling of the trigger. Even if you did that, it sounds to me like an accident. You didn't have the mental element necessary for murder."

"So you don't think…"

"…that you're a murderer? No. No, I don't."

She wasn't entirely sure where the tears came from. And other than a couple that escaped, she managed to fight them back. In fact, she could hardly believe the freedom she suddenly felt, as if her fear that she might have actually murdered Sykes had been like a weight around her neck and that Clark's words had finally cut that rope, allowing her for the first time since Sykes' death to be truly free.

"I'm just not sure it's going to help you now," Clark said. "After all, once you've been found guilty, the issue is no longer whether or not you did it — just whether procedure was properly followed in obtaining your conviction. Well, unless new evidence appears that was not available at the time of trial. Of course that…" His words were cut off when Lois' fingers came up to his lips, lightly touching them. He crinkled his eyebrows in confusion.

"It doesn't matter."

"How can you say it…"

"It doesn't matter, Clark. What you just did for me…" She gave her head a brief shake. "Thank you."

He suddenly seemed to understand. "You're welcome, Lois," he said softly.

They stared at each other for a long moment and the sizzle in the air which seemed to be present whenever they were together turned to something more akin to simmering. Lois was suddenly overcome with a desperate desire to feel her lips, once again, pressed against his. She was almost certain he felt it, too. And then, when neither moved to fulfill the fantasy, the moment passed.

"Well…" said Clark, shifting uncomfortably. "…I guess I should…" He gestured towards the door to his room.

Lois nodded and then, when he rose, moved to her feet herself. She paused, pulling in a sharp breath when a pain pierced her side.

"What?" Clark asked, turning towards her in concern.

Her hand had automatically gone to her side and when she withdrew it, it bore fresh blood.

"Lois, you're bleeding." Clark was back in less than a heartbeat, moving her back to sit on the bed.

When she was again seated, he began pulling up the edge of her sweatshirt.

"Hey!" Lois exclaimed, getting the material out of his grasp to pull the sweatshirt back down.

"I'm sor…"

Lois was left with the distinct impression that he was about to apologize when he suddenly stopped. Still, the increased color in his cheeks told her that he was embarrassed by his impulsive action. Then he seemed to regain his composure and his embarrassment was replaced by a look of determination.

"Let me look at it," he said softly, but with a distinct air of authority she'd not seen in him until now. "I have some first aid experience," he continued. "Unless, of course, you want me to take you to a hospital. But someone is going to look at it."

He gave her a moment to let that digest.

"Come on." He gestured for her to remove her sweatshirt. "Let me take a look."

She looked at him for a long moment, assessing his motives. But then, she grabbed onto the bottom edge of the sweatshirt and pulled it over her head. She saw him swallow hard. She was still completely decent. In fact, her prison bra covered her more completely than the skimpy bikini she had kept buried in the bottom drawer of the dresser in her bedroom. Still, there was something about sitting in front of him in her bra that caused her cheeks to burn with color — even if she was suddenly wishing, or perhaps because she was suddenly wishing that her current underwear was a little more… sexy.

His initial reaction to the removal of her shirt was masked so quickly that she couldn't be sure she hadn't imagined it. He immediately turned his attention to the bloody bandage on her side, just below her rib cage. It was obvious by the placement of the wound that Remi had been aiming for her heart. He looked up, meeting her eyes, silently asking for an explanation.

"I got stabbed with a shiv earlier this week," Lois explained.


"It was no big deal. Someone with a personal grudge. Anyway, I must have pulled a couple of stitches when we fell off the ladder."

He seemed to ponder that information for a moment before turning his attention back to her wound. She kept her eyes on his face while he gently removed one corner of the bandage before, with a swiftness that caused her heart to leap into her throat, tore off the remainder of the bandage.

She glanced down, realizing that her assessment had been correct. She had pulled at least two stitches from the wound. Feeling a little lightheaded when she saw the blood, she was forced to look away. How was Clark going to fix this?

He got up and made his way to the washroom, returning a moment later with a washcloth. "Hold this over the cut," he said before walking to the door. "I'll be back in a few minutes."


Lois was surprised by how quickly Clark returned carrying a brown paper bag. Given that she'd not seen a drug store near the motel, he must have found a cab almost upon stepping out the door. After removing a number of items from the bag, he silently went about making up some concoction using the room's kettle.

"What are you making?" she asked curiously.

"Just a homemade remedy. It will stop bleeding and even help the wound heal faster."

"That sounds… good," she replied hesitantly.

"So tell me about this Max guy," Clark said.

Lois got that funny feeling again that Clark was purposely changing the subject. Was there something about this witches-brew that he didn't want her to know? Still…

"There's not much to tell."

"That's not the impression I got." He glanced at her over his shoulder.

She shrugged slightly. Well, it wasn't as if her relationship with Max was some great secret. And after what she'd already confessed to him earlier, it wasn't as if he didn't already know what woke her up in a cold sweat almost every night. What was Max compared to that?

"I got involved with Max about a year ago," she said. "Shortly before the whole… Sykes thing. Anyway, I'd lost my memory and he was my doctor — psychiatrist."

"That man was your psychiatrist? And you got… involved? That's sick."

"Yeah, well, ethics was not one of Max's strong suits. Besides, sick would have been sleeping with me — which he did under the guise of 'therapy.' But what he did next has to qualify as… obsession."

"What did he do?"

"While I was still… foggy about the details of my life, he convinced me to quit my job at the Daily Planet — something I would never have done if I'd been in my right mind — and agree to go to some hideaway he had in France."

"So he wanted to… take you away from all this?"

"Make me his prisoner, more likely." When his eyebrows rose, she shrugged. "Men seem to have a bit of a problem with my dedication to my job — as if it's their great competition for my affection. A couple of them have tried to get me to give it up for them." She got a slightly sheepish grin when she continued. "Although, to tell the truth, my job has been always been more… satisfying than most of the men in my life." She was surprised when Clark colored and turned back to his task. "Anyway, I got my memory back just before I ran away with him — of course, not before we became…" She didn't complete her sentence other than to make an erratic gesture with her hands.

"Lovers?" Clark asked, reminding her that he'd not seen her gesture given that his back was turned.

"Anyway," Lois continued, "when I realized what he was trying to do, I knocked him out."

Clark turned to look at her, eyebrows raised.

"A right hook to the chin," Lois clarified with more than a little pride.

Clark smiled before turning back to his task.

"When I ran into him in prison a week or so ago, I was… stunned. He was a big name psychiatrist — Perry made sure I had the very best. He was even recommended by Dr. Klein who had known Max since he was in medical school. I hadn't realized that he was working at the prisons. I guess he heard I was there and decided he stood a chance now — given the obvious lack of… choice in my life now."

"If he thought that was enough to win you over, something tells me he never did know the real Lois Lane," Clark said, bringing a cup bearing his warm brown paste over and taking a seat next to her on the side the bed.

She smiled, even as she allowed him to remove the washcloth she was still holding over her wound. She was skeptical about his proposed treatment. However, it smelled awful enough to have some medicinal value. So she did nothing to stop him as he began gently probing her wound. In spite of the gentleness of his hands, she flinched as he touched her. Turning her attention to a print hanging on the far side the room, she forced her mind away from the pain.

She pulled in a sharp breath when she felt the burning that resulted when he applied the mixture. Still, when she looked back down a moment later, she was amazed. The wound was as closed as it had been before she'd pulled out the stitches — maybe even more so.

"That's amazing," she said, her hand coming down to touch the wound. "Almost better than getting stitches. Have you ever considered patenting your witches' brew?"

He swatted her hand away. "You'll get germs in it," he said, taking some of the bandages he'd purchased at the drug store and dressing the wound.

"Is there anything you can't do?" she asked curiously.

"I'm not much good with laundry," he replied. "Whites with whites." He shook his head. "Always confuses me."

She giggled.

"Anyway," he said, rising from the side of the bed, "we probably should get some sleep. I'm tired and I've got a feeling tomorrow is going to be a long day."

She nodded, wordlessly watching as he made his way to the door separating their rooms. When he glanced back at her before going through, she spoke. "Clark… thanks." She wasn't entirely sure what she was thanking him for — breaking her out of prison, giving her troubled mind peace or treating her wound. What did it matter? For all of them, she was extremely grateful.

He smiled. "You're welcome, Lois," he replied softly before stepping through the door and closing it gently behind him.


Lois lay in bed, staring at the ceiling — just like she'd been doing for the past hour. Clark had given her the greatest of gifts tonight — peace of mind. Oh sure, she still felt bad if she did pull the trigger by accident. But an accident was a far cry from murder. And even if Elroy Sykes was one of the lowest forms of life imaginable, he was still a human being. The mere possibility that she had murdered a fellow traveler of the planet had been eating at her, slowly sucking the life out of her. Now that she'd finally confessed her fears and heard his assurances, she felt… alive for the first time in months.

She glanced at the bedroom door as a very different memory crossed through her mind — hiding in the closet at Clark's apartment during a police search. Her fear for Clark. He'd taken the ultimate risk for her tonight. But…

She couldn't let him do that. Agreeing to escape from prison had been an impulse decision. But she had to go back. Oh sure, there was some small part of her that wished they could just get lost somewhere together, ride off into the sunset or something similar. But if there was anything that Lois Lane was, it was a realist. The airports, rental agencies and bus stations would all be under surveillance. By now road blocks would be erected on every road leading out of the city. Even now the police were likely searching motels. Eventually, she would be caught. And if Clark was with her when she was… No. She couldn't let that happen.

Her mind drifted to the flying demon. Now if only she had some way of contacting him, maybe… She dismissed the thought immediately. Out of the frying pan, into the fire was the thought that instantly sprang to mind. No. She would return to prison. That was a given. The only thing she could control was whether Clark would be made to pay for helping her.

She got out of bed, wrapping the sheet around her and made her way to the door separating her room from Clark's. As she placed her hand against the hard surface, her thoughts were consumed with the man on the other side of that door. He'd given her so much. In return, she had to find a way to turn herself in that would ensure his protection. She thought she had an idea about where to start.

She began turning away when she hesitated, turning back around as if drawn by some unseen force. Her hand landed on the doorknob. Slowly, she turned, opening the door separating their rooms. She half expected to see his door closed on the other side. On the other hand, she wasn't exactly surprised when she didn't. She stepped into the doorway.

The light from the neon sign of the motel was coming through the window, flicking on and off in a red glow. She watched the light repeatedly hit his face in a hypnotizing fashion.

Crossing the floor to his bedside happened before she could even think through the ramifications. And so she found herself standing beside him, running her eyes down his face, the small stubble covering his cheeks and chin, his bare chest to where it was covered by the blanket. Every inch of him was a marvel to her. Even asleep he was easily the most gorgeous man she'd ever seen. And that was why she would have to tell him, once she was back in prison, that she didn't want him coming to see her anymore.

She was under no illusions. As he had said, now that she'd been found guilty, her innocence, as far as the courts would be concerned, was no longer in doubt. That meant finding a ground for an appeal would be difficult. But now, with her burden lifted, she felt ready to take on that challenge. Still, she couldn't take the risk of breaking this man's heart. If she were not cleared, the state would still eventually stick that needle in her arm. She would not let him hang around to watch that happen. Besides, the court process could take years. She wouldn't let him give up his life waiting for something that might never happen.

And even if she were cleared, what chance did a cynical city-girl and a gentle country-boy have at making a relationship work? None. They, quite simply, would quickly discover they had nothing in common. Of that, she was certain.

She sat down next to him on the bed. Unable to resist, her hand came up and she began lightly tracing the hard muscles of his chest. A low growl rose deep in the back of his throat and for a moment her hand stilled. When he didn't wake up, she continued her exploration, refusing to think through the implications of what she was doing.

"Lois, what…?"

"Shhh." Her hand came up so that she could place her finger over his lips.

He acceded to her request and after a moment, she almost forgot that he was awake as her finger began to trace the muscles of his neck down to where it fastened head to shoulders. She could feel his blood pounding beneath her fingertips. Each touch was a mystery, something to be savored and burned eternally into her memory. She was acutely aware that she might never again feel a man's skin beneath her hand.

Flattening her hand, she ran it slowly down his chest. She could hear him suck a gasp of air into his lungs and hold it as she dragged the palm of her hand across his nipple. She allowed her hand to conform to the shape of his body as she continued her exploration, feeling every muscle shift and respond in accordance with her touch. Her hand slipped lower, beneath the edge of the blanket to run over the muscles of his stomach, feeling them tighten and roll as she moved her hand slowly across it, soaking in every nuance of his body's responses to her actions.

His hand came up to cover hers, stopping her increasingly dangerous exploration. She met his eyes in the half darkness of the room.

"I'm not sure this is a good…"

His words trailed off when she leaned in, touching her lips gently to his. Savoring the texture of his lips under hers and the taste of his mouth. She pulled back, her gaze lost in his for a long moment before her eyes drifted closed and she moved back in, deepening the kiss, exulting in his participation. His free hand ran through her hair as he returned her kiss, sending heat tingling through her body down to the very ends of her toes. Never had she known anything like it.

Without breaking the kiss, she turned her hand, the one he was holding against his stomach, over beneath his so that their hands were grasped. Sitting up, she raised their joined hands so that they were resting on the place where the sheet wrapped around her was held together. Her eyes didn't leave his as she slipped her hand out from under his, leaving his there to make the ultimate determination. She felt a marked increase in her own heart rate as she waited. The choice was his. She wanted this — this one moment in time. She wanted, even if it were only once more, to feel the strength of a man's body pressed tightly against hers, a man's hands touching her, a man moving inside her. She had nothing to offer him but tonight. But if he wanted it, it was his.

His eyes rested on his hand for a long moment and she held her breath as she waited for him to work through the ramifications. An involuntary whimper escaped from the back of her throat when he pulled, causing the sheet to fall silently to the bed.


Lois lay, half dozing and completely content, her head resting against Clark's chest, listening to his breathing settle into the regular pattern of sleep. The images of the past couple hours ran through her mind and she burned them into her memory, determined never to forget one second, one sensation. Tears fought for escape — although not entirely sad tears. Tears of release perhaps. Regret, too, that she might never again experience such ecstasy. But mostly relief that she could still feel things other than terror and guilt. She wondered if Clark would ever understand exactly how much he had given her tonight.

She raised her head, allowing herself the luxury of looking at him, watching as he contentedly drifted off to sleep. Suddenly, as if realizing he was being watched, he opened his sleepy eyes halfway, a smile settling on his lips when his eyes met hers. She smiled, too. She couldn't help it.

"I love you, Lois," he said softly before his eyes closed one final time and drifted into peaceful sleep.

But unlike him, she was suddenly very much awake. Not for one second did she believe that he was really in love with her. It was… stress. It was… the situation. At the same time, he believed he was in love with her — and in this situation that was all that really mattered. In all of her actions, she'd never once expected this. She'd not for one moment thought… or maybe allowed herself to think that he saw this as anything more than a moment… albeit an incredible moment in time. Oh god. What had she done? 'I just hope you know what you're doing, honey. You could seriously break that boy's heart.' Perry's warning rang hollow now.

Moving as carefully as possible, she slipped out of Clark's bed, picked up the sheet from the floor and made her way as silently as possible to her own room. Once she was dressed, she went to her bathroom to wash away the tears now flowing freely down her face. It was a few minutes later before she was again in control. After taking a moment to write a note, she headed back to his room. She stood for a long moment watching him sleep before placing the note on the night table beside him and, with one final look back into the room, slipping out the door just as the first evidence of morning began lighting up the eastern sky.


Lois made use of the shadows in the alley as she carefully checked out the area. She suspected that men might well be staking out Perry's home. And she had no doubt that they would have someone at the Daily Planet. But what she hoped they didn't know, at least yet, was that Perry stopped every morning to pick up a donut at the Crispy Cream on the corner of fourth and Memorial. Still, she wasn't about to take any chances. So she searched the area carefully, standing in the shadows, making certain no one was watching the place. Then, once she was satisfied from one angle, she backed off, only to come at the donut shop from another angle.

Having checked out the shop from four different angles and still not having seen anything out of place, she pulled up the hood on her sweatshirt and made her way quickly across the street. Once inside, she made her way to the back corner where she could see everything taking place in the restaurant and have access to the backdoor.

She had been sitting there for a good fifteen minutes when Perry walked in the door. She stood, the movement catching Perry's attention. When she was sure he had seen her, she turned, heading out the back door.

She had just stepped outside when Perry caught up to her.

"Lois, what…"

She shook her head, looked around and led him through an alley to a restaurant on the next street over. She waited until they were both seated at a booth before speaking.

"I'm hoping you're treating," she said. "I don't exactly have any money."

Perry instantly pulled his money clip from his pocket. Keeping only twenty dollars to pay for breakfast, he handed the rest to her.

"Does that help?"

"You don't have to…"

"Of course, I do, honey. When the police visited me last night, I figured there must be some mistake. I didn't figure you for the fugitive type — especially given your attitude the past few weeks."

"I didn't figure me for that type either. It just sort of… happened."

Their conversation ended when a young woman came over to take their orders. They told her what they wanted and waited until she was gone before resuming their discussion.

"You just happened to escape from prison?" asked Perry.

She ran a hand through her hair. "I know how that sounds, Perry. But… well, I guess you had to be there."

"So… what's the plan?"

"I need your help. I want to turn myself in."

"You don't need my help for that. Just walk up to the first cop you see and tell them who you are. There's a state wide search being conducted for you."

"Well… I've got a condition."

"A condition."

"I will turn myself in, but only if they agree that they won't ask any questions about how I escaped or prosecute anyone who might have helped me."

Perry narrowed his eyes and she could tell he was trying to figure out who her conspirator might have been. "Was Maxwell Deter involved?" he asked.

"What makes you ask that?"

"When I heard the name of the prison psychiatrist who you allegedly assaulted during your escape, I figured there was something fishy going on."

"Did you share that with the police?"

"I can't believe you even have to ask. I might not quite understand why you'd break out of prison when you haven't even been actively working on your own case since your conviction, but I would never betray you like that. You should know better!"

"I do, Perry. It's just…" A mischievous look appeared on her face. "Maybe if you are talking to the cops again, you could mention my past relationship with Max."

Their conversation ended again when the waitress returned with their orders. Perry watched her leave before turning back to Lois.

"So I take it Deter's not the one who helped you?"

"Perry, don't do this."

"What?" Perry asked innocently.

"Try to figure out who might have helped me. I'm not telling even you."

He let out a breath. "Okay, if you're serious about this, I'll contact your lawyer. She should be able to make the arrangements. In the meantime…" He pulled his key ring out of his pocket, removing two keys. He handed her the first key. "Ralph got drunk on assignment again yesterday. He claimed, of course, that he was following a lead on The Demon and had to blend in. Anyway, one of the Planet's cars is parked down in front of Lenny Stoke's old club. And this…" He gave her the second key. "…is the key to my cabin. You should be safe enough out there. It's in the boys' names — so I doubt the mod squad will find it."

"Won't there be road blocks heading out there?"

"I doubt it. They aren't likely to waste their precious resources watching a road that leads up into the hills — but nowhere else. They'll be watching roads leading out of the city."

"Are you sure you want to get this involved, Perry?" She held up the keys to demonstrate her meaning. "I could just contact you again when you've had time to contact my lawyer. I really didn't expect you to…"

"Would you stop? Of course I want to help."

Lois let out a breath of relief. "Thanks, Perry."

She rose.

"Sit down and eat your breakfast," Perry said, spearing a piece of sausage with his fork. "I don't like eating alone."

Lois hesitated before sinking back into the booth. She really should just go. But after leaving Clark the way she had this morning, she felt so depressed. And being with Perry… being with someone who honestly cared about her… she couldn't quite bring herself to leave.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Huh?" asked Lois, looking up from her food.

"Well, you've been pushing that food around your plate since they first brought it. Have you even had a single bite?"

"Oh." She instantly took a bite of eggs.

"Honey, what is it? I mean, I've seen you depressed before, but today… You look like someone stole your teddy bear."

She gave him a sad smile. She figured he was right. That was exactly what she'd lost. Even if at some point she was able to prove her innocence, and even if at that time, Clark was by some miracle still available, he'd never forgive her for what she'd done to him. She wasn't entirely sure why that thought was so depressing.

Actually, she knew why that thought was depressing. It wasn't that she was falling for the boy-scout. It wasn't! It was just that she hated that she'd hurt him. She'd never meant to, but that hardly mattered now.

"I'm fine, Perry," she said, pushing some more food from one side of her plate to the other.


Clark woke feeling utterly content as the warm rays of sunlight fell across his bed. Moaning happily, he reached out to find Lois, his eyes coming open when her spot next to him on the bed was empty. It wasn't even warm.

"Lois?" he asked sitting up.

When there was no response, he pulled the sheet from the bed, wrapped it around himself and made his way to her room. Maybe she hadn't been able to sleep and had gone back to her own bed.

It only took him a moment to realize she wasn't there. Panic set in almost immediately. Had she been captured during the night? What if she had been and he'd slept through it? No. No, that didn't make any sense. If the police had shown up, they'd have arrested him, too.

So where was she? He knew of course, what had happened. Sometime during the night, she'd crawled out of his bed and left. His heart sank. He'd really believed that they'd shared something incredible. Obviously, she didn't feel the same.

Making his way back to his bed, he sat down, only then noticing the piece of paper lying on the night stand. His heart pounded as he reached for it, hoping against hope that she'd just gone out to get them some breakfast or something equally as harmless — well, not harmless exactly since it could result in her capture. But something that didn't indicate that, to her, their night together meant nothing.

His breath coming quickly, he gathered his courage before opening the single sheet of paper. Her note consisted of four sentences, each set out in a separate paragraph.

'Thank you.' 'I'm sorry.' 'I'm turning myself in.' 'Please don't visit me in prison anymore.'

His heart sank. The only part that gave him any sort of hope was the way she signed it. 'Yours…' followed simply by the letter 'L'.


Perry was puzzling over one of Ralph's sentences when he realized someone was standing in the doorway to his office. He looked up, surprised to see Kent standing there.

"Where've you been?" asked Perry. "The job starts at eight — not…" He glanced at the clock. "…ten to eleven."

"I'm sorry, sir. I slept in."

Perry nodded. "Don't worry about it, son. It happens. Just make sure it doesn't happen too often."

"Thanks, sir. It won't."

Perry looked back at the document in front of him. What the hell was Ralph trying to say? Or did he even have a point? He looked up again when he realized that Kent was still standing in his doorway.

"Was there something you wanted?" Perry asked.

"Yes, sir," Kent said, stepping into the office and closing the door behind him.

Curious now, Perry gestured the younger man to a seat and studied him carefully. Kent was… well, rumpled was the only way Perry could think of to describe it. Not only was he wearing an old pair of jeans and a t-shirt, but he didn't even look as if he'd combed his hair. And his eyes… Perry's own eyes narrowed. He'd seen those same haunted eyes once already today.

He leaned back in his chair, linking his hands behind his head. "So are you going to sit there all day studying your hands or are you going to tell me what brought you into my office today?"

"Sorry, sir. I just…" His voice trailed off.

"Don't be sorry. Just tell me what you want."

"I… Sir, you have to tell me where Lois Lane is."

"How would I know?" Perry asked in response, tilting his head to the side. This was getting curiouser and curiouser.

"I was at the police station this morning. So I know that she hasn't turned herself in yet. I waited outside, but she didn't show up. I even went by her apartment. She hasn't been there."

It crossed through Perry's mind to remember that he still hadn't put Lois' things into storage. He'd been meaning to. She had asked him to, after all. He'd just… been putting it off. It seemed so permanent. He turned his mind back to Kent's comments. "Were you expecting her to turn herself in?"

"Please, Mr. White, I know you don't have any reason to trust me. But I don't have time to play games. I need to find her before she turns herself in. You have to tell me where she is."

"And what makes you think I would know?"

"You're my last hope. I know she thinks of you as a father. If anyone knows where she is, it's you. Please, Mr. White."

Perry let out a long slow breath. "Well, if you're going to accuse me of harboring a fugitive, you might as well call me Perry."

"I'm sorry, sir… Perry," Clark corrected. "I'm not trying to accuse you of anything. I've just run out of options here."

"And if you were to find her, what would you tell her?"

"That she can't do it."

"Excuse me?" Perry asked.

"She's not safe in prison. We'll find a way to prove she's innocent. But until then, she can't go back."

Perry clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth as he considered this information. "Are you sure she's innocent?" he finally asked.

"Yes. Aren't you?"

"Yes. But you've only known her for a week. I've known her for years. So how did you reach this conclusion?"

"Something she told me before bed last night. Please, Mr… Perry. I need your help. Do you know where she is or not?"

Perry's eyebrows had shot into his hairline at Kent's first statement. Clark seemed slightly confused by Perry's reaction and Perry could almost see him reviewing his comments. He knew the moment his slip sunk in when Kent's face suddenly went white.

"I mean… when I went to see her yesterday evening. That's when she told me… well, what she told me that convinced me that she's innocent."

He didn't sound very convincing. And suddenly, everything fell into place in Perry's mind. Lois' haunted expression earlier. Kent's haunted expression now. And particularly… Lois' determination to make a deal that would prevent the prosecution from laying charges against anyone involved in her escape.

"Please, Perry. Can you help me? She's been attacked in prison on at least two occasions that I know of — and who knows how many times that I don't. I don't think she'll survive if she goes back.

"Come on, Perry," Clark continued when he still didn't respond. "You know that Lois is responsible for a lot of the people being behind those walls. It's too dangerous for her to go back. I promise, we'll find a way to clear her name. But that's not going to do any good if she's already dead. Please. Help me help her."

The young man was practically begging now. Perry eyed him carefully, trying to decide what to do. Lois was quite obviously hiding from Kent as surely as she was hiding from the police. She wouldn't appreciate it if he told Kent where she was. On the other hand, the man currently sitting in his office made some good points. Not to mention that Kent was obviously in love with his surrogate daughter. And maybe this was one relationship from which Lois shouldn't be allowed to run.


Lois picked up the copy of the Daily Planet she'd purchased when she'd stopped for gas and walked out the door to the cabin. Stopping just outside, she took a deep breath. She'd be back behind bars soon enough. In spite of what had happened last night — or was that this morning — she intended to enjoy every second of freedom for as long as she had it. And given how beautiful the early fall day was, it was a perfect day for 'being on the lam.'

Once she arrived at the dock, she took off her shoes and sat down, dangling her feet in the slightly nippy water. Perfect. It was absolutely perfect. She couldn't think of a single way to make it any better… unless, perhaps, Clark… She instantly pushed that thought away. Last night had been… nothing more than a lapse in judgment. She couldn't allow herself to think about him.

Directing her mind back to the paper in her hands, she opened it up and looked at the picture on the front page. The Demon — or at least the best picture it seemed anyone had of him. He was partially in profile — the top part of his face obstructed by a black wool cap. She squinted, as she was sure hundreds had done before, trying to make out what he was carrying. But he was turned away from the cameras.

Realizing it was a fool's errand, she quickly gave up — seeing what else she might be able to learn from the photo. There was no reason for her to do this, of course. After all, all of her energy should be going into finding a way to prove her own innocence. But the reporter inside her couldn't quite let it go. She wondered if Clark was following up on all the scientists they'd discussed the previous day. Had it really only been yesterday that they'd been sitting, throwing insults at each other, in the prison visiting room?

Suddenly, and much to her surprise, she was struck with a thought that caused her to giggle. 'Ahh. The good ol' days.'

Clearing her mind, she looked at the articles that accompanied the picture. There was nothing new, really. Just a few more interviews with passengers who had escaped the ferry. Except for one thing… an interview with a Colonel Jason Trask of Bureau 39, promising that they would catch The Demon. Trask didn't seem to care exactly what he was. He promised the public that they had been preparing for this eventuality for years. Lois rolled her eyes. As if the army could think creatively enough to find someone who didn't want to be found. And even if they did… What would they do? The man… or whatever… would simply fly away before action could be taken.

Now if she were looking, where would she start? She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth before smiling. Other than Clark's idea, she'd start by finding out exactly what this Trask character might know. And she wouldn't do that by asking questions. She looked at the byline of the article. Myerson. Yep, that was his style all right. Direct. And at times, it worked. But this was definitely a story that required a little… sneakiness. When she saw Clark again, she'd tell him…

She growled in frustration. She wouldn't be seeing Clark again. So why did she insist on continuing to think about him?

Still, her mind drifted to his comments about The Demon. He seemed convinced that this demon was one of the good guys. The position was completely untenable. Everything they knew contradicted that idea. Yet Clark wasn't an idiot. So what was he seeing that everyone else was missing?

She looked back at the picture, for the first time noticing that The Demon seemed to have a great build. Broad shoulders. A white, what appeared to be dress shirt that, wet, did nothing to hide the impressive definition of his back muscles. Her mind instantly took her back to running her fingernails over equally impressive muscles the night before. There hadn't been an ounce of fat anywhere on Clark's body. Just touching him had been erotic.

She shook her head. What was she doing? She would think about every little detail of their night together in the coming months — even years. Of that she was sure. But she'd wait until she could do so without the fear that her attraction for him would affect her determination to end their relationship. Still…

Her eyes drifted back to the skin tight shirt on The Demon. If he was an android, whoever had built him had definitely done their job — just as long as it wasn't her father. The idea that she could be drooling over something her father had made left her feeling sick to her stomach.

Still, that didn't explain why Clark was so determined to defend him. But then there were a lot of things about Clark that made absolutely no sense. When she'd first met him, she had categorized him as a farmboy. No secrets there. Since then… so many things had occurred that were so strange that she could almost believe the past twelve hours were nothing more than a bizarre dream.

Somehow Clark had known she was in danger — although, how that was possible, she had no idea. Then there was the escape from prison. Not to mention the cops search of Clark's apartment. How had he managed to get the apartment cleaned up so fast? And then there was their exit from his apartment. She stretched her legs. She didn't have a single sore muscle from their fall. Of course, maybe Clark… Her thought trailed off. No. She'd explored every inch of Clark's body last night — quite thoroughly, as she recalled. And he hadn't had a mark on him.

But shouldn't one of them at the very least have had some bruises? She thought again about the fall. It had seemed to take forever. Almost as if they had been floating… or perhaps… Her eyes shot back to the picture on the front page of the paper and her heart leapt into her throat. No. That was crazy. Absolutely, positively crazy.

On the other hand, it would explain how he got into the prison. And given the strength The Demon had shown by tearing the side of the ferry, he'd certainly have had no problem forcibly opening a few prison doors. She flashed again to their escape from Clark's apartment. She'd tried to pull that ladder down on her own. And yet, when he'd reached past her, it had only taken him one hand to do it. She hadn't thought much about it at the time, but now…

No. No. No. This was crazy. Clark was a boy-scout. There was no way he could be responsible for almost a hundred deaths. On the other hand, it would explain why he had broken a convicted murderer out of prison. He wouldn't care whether or not she'd murdered one person if he had murdered a hundred. She still didn't know how he'd disabled the security cameras or known she was in trouble, but…

She shook her head. Great. Now he was The Demon simply because he had helped her. Still, something about Clark was… off. And as much as she hated to admit it, what did she really know about him? Other than the fact that he was easily the gentlest lover she'd ever had. How could a man with such a tender touch be… Her thought was cut off by the sound of a car heading up the gravel road.

She moved quickly. Grabbing her shoes, she pulled them on and tore, as fast as humanly possible, into the woods. Ducking behind a fallen tree, she looked cautiously above it as a car drove up to the cabin. Jimmy's car.

She was about to get up when something made her hesitate. Just because it was Jimmy's car didn't mean Jimmy was inside.

A small gasp escaped her lips when Clark stepped out of the car. He seemed to look right at her and her heart began pounding painfully as she ducked down behind the log. When, a moment later, she heard him knocking at the cabin door, she peeked over the log again, giving her head a slight shake. She could almost believe she was losing her mind — thinking he'd heard her startled gasp from that distance.

She didn't emerge from her hiding place as she watched him. Having decided she wasn't going to answer, he wandered down to the dock, leaning over to pick up the paper she had been reading earlier. He looked around again, briefly looking in her direction causing her to duck down once again. Then he took off his shoes, sitting down as she had been only moments before and opening up the paper.

As he sat there reading the paper, she studied him. He looked as if he was settling in for a long wait.

"If you're out there, I hope you can hear me."

His words cut through her musings. He wasn't shouting. But in the quiet, they were certainly loud enough for her to hear him without effort.

"I found out where you were from Perry," he began slowly. "And I promise, if you just want to go back to prison, I won't stop you. I just want you to hear me out."

He paused as if hoping she would abandon her hiding place. But given her questions about whether he was The Demon, she didn't budge.

After a moment, he sort of nodded before continuing. "Okay, well then let me just say a few things. And then, if you still don't want to talk to me, I'll go."

She gave a small snort. Yeah, sure he would. He was The Demon and apparently he'd chosen her as his mate. What were the chances he would let her go? He was a cold-blooded killer. Still, she watched as he ran his hand through his hair. Hair that was so soft that… No! What was she doing? Had she completely lost her mind?

"This isn't about us, Lois. You don't want to be involved with me. Maybe you even regret last night. Okay, I can understand that, but…"

She watched him look down at where he was dragging his foot through the water.

"…you should know that it was the most incredible night of my life."

Her eyes moistened. Could The Demon really have loved her so unselfishly?

"But I promise…" He seemed to have problems working up the courage to say his next words. "…if you don't want to be involved with me, I'll never bring the subject up again."

Would a mass murderer say something like that? Okay, well, maybe a mass murderer would. But Lois couldn't believe that someone with no conscience, which must be the case with The Demon, would struggle telling her what must be a lie. He would just say whatever he thought she wanted to hear with no worry about it — since he would have no intention of keeping his promise.

"But you've got to at least hear me out. You can't go back to prison. You must know that. I know of at least two times when you've been attacked. How many times have there been that I don't know about? Where did you get the black eye you still had when we first met? How many threats have there been? How many of those women would like nothing more than to be left alone in the same room with you? And what chance do you have to avoid it if someone like Maxwell Deter is determined to make you pay for not giving him what he wants? Do you really think he'd hesitate to give one of those women her fondest dream?"

He gave her a moment to let that sink in. He was right. Being in prison had, until now, been dangerous. But returning now, with Maxwell Deter out to get her, could be downright fatal. He could make arrangements that would 'accidentally' leave her alone with someone like Remi. Or one of other women who wanted her dead. And then he could sit back while she died a horrible and painful death.

"If you want to prove your innocence, I can help you with that," he continued. "I promise, Lois, I'll help in any way I can. But until we find the proof we need, you have to stay in hiding."

"Why do you care?" she yelled towards him, not coming out of her hiding place.

He looked in her direction before looking back at the water. "I think you know the answer to that."

She studied him carefully. The hang-dog look on his face told her that her exit had hurt him. Yet, he was still offering to help her. And suddenly, she realized the entire idea of Clark being The Demon was insane. There was no way this man was The Demon. He didn't have a cruel bone in his body.

Standing up, she slowly made her way towards him. She had to admit, he looked good — even if he was wearing the same clothes as the previous night. But then, he'd looked good then too. That black t-shirt was to die for. Suddenly, she had images of getting her hands under that t-shirt and… She shook her head. She couldn't think like that. For both their sakes, what had happened last night couldn't happen again.

He watched as she closed the distance between them. He didn't move. When she was standing next to him, she again removed her shoes and sank down onto the dock beside him. They sat in silence for a long moment.

"This doesn't change anything between us, Clark," she said softly. "I'm not interested in starting a relationship with you." She cringed even as the words left her lips. But it was the only thing to do. The only thing that was fair to either of them.

"I know," he said softly.

"What happened last night was a…" She hesitated.

"…mistake?" he completed.

She chewed on her lower lip. She could think of a lot of ways to describe last night. And she couldn't quite consider it a mistake. Still, for his sake, she had to make a clean break. Even if they were able to come up with a way to clear her, there were just too many reasons that a relationship between them wouldn't work. "Yes," she said softly not able to look at him.

There was another long moment of silence.

"Just so you know," he began, pulling his feet out of the water and standing. He waited until she looked up at him before continuing. "It wasn't a mistake to me." Without waiting for her response, he pulled on his shoes and headed for the car.

She watched him go, lost in thought. "No, it wasn't," she whispered softly. In spite of everything, she couldn't quite bring herself to regret what had happened between them. She knew she should, but she just couldn't. She saw his footsteps hesitate slightly and wondered if she'd spoken louder than intended. But then, without looking back, he continued on his way.

For a moment, she was tempted to reconsider her position. But then common sense kicked-in. There was no way they would ever be able to make a relationship between them work. And if in the future, they were both employed for the Daily Planet… She had already seen what could happen by getting involved with a colleague. No. It was best if she kept Clark Kent at a distance — no matter how much it hurt to watch him walk away.


In spite of their talk on the docks, Clark couldn't help but be amused by the curious look on Lois' face as he began bringing box after box into the cabin from the car.

"What's all this?" Lois asked.

"Well…" Clark opened the first box. It was filled with papers.

"What's…" Her question trailed off as she seemed to recognize the transcripts, documents and tape from her trial. "Guess we sort of need these if we're going to find a way to clear my name — assuming there is a way."

"What do you mean 'assuming there is a way?'"

Lois let out a breath. "I just mean, I was holding the gun. Assuming I did pull the trigger, how do we prove that I didn't mean to kill him? And then, even if we do come up with something, how do we make it new evidence that wasn't available at the time of trial?"

Clark stopped piling boxes and rested his hand on top. He let out a slow breath. "I think we take this one step at a time. We start out by assuming that you didn't fire the gun. And only when we've exhausted that possibility do we look for things that show you didn't mean to kill Sykes."

"Such as…"

"Well… Did you bring the gun with you?"

"No. Sykes brought it. Said it was for demonstration purposes only."

"Demonstration purposes?" Clark raised his eyebrows. "He brought a loaded gun for demonstration purposes?"

"You think… there was more happening here than we discovered before the trial?"

"I'd bet on it." He opened up another box.

"Where…?" She began searching excitedly through the box, finally holding up her favorite pair of old blue jeans, holding them to her chest and looking at him with a look of absolute gratitude.

Clark shrugged. "After I convinced Perry to tell me where to find you, he got Jimmy to loan me his car and then told me that I should stop by your place to pick up some clothes for you." Clark made his way to the door. He had two more things to bring in.

When he returned, he was holding a brown paper bag, teaming with groceries and a black laptop. He set the groceries on the table and then presented her with the laptop. "Perry also suggested you might want your laptop."

She put down the jeans and picked up the laptop lovingly. "But…" She glanced around.

"The cabin has a telephone, so you can hook up to the internet. Jimmy installed a program that will prevent any email you send or receive from being traced. And there's a generator. I've got gas for it in the car. Along with…" He glanced around until he spotted a small television on the floor. "He said there's both a television and a VCR. The television only has rabbit ears — and lousy reception. But it will allow us to watch the tape presented at your trial. Perry told me to put myself at your disposal."

"But… what about the Cooke story?"

"All my stories are on hold until we find a way to prove your innocence."

"You guys thought of everything, didn't you?" Lois said softly.


Clark leaned back in his chair as he and Lois finished watching the tape of her shooting Sykes for the sixth time.

"I told you there wasn't anything there," Lois said in frustration.

"I'm not so sure," said Clark, moving his glasses down his nose. "I think… Let's see that again."

"What? You near sighted or something?"

"Oh… Uhh… Sometimes just looking at something without my glasses can give me a different perspective." Ignoring Lois' puzzled look, he hit the playback button one more time.

"What are we looking for?"

"I just thought I caught… There!" Clark quickly pushed the pause button.

"What?" Lois moved closer, squinting at the small image on the screen.

"Did you ever try enlarging the image of your hand when the gun went off?"

She squinted at the screen again, obviously trying to see what he was seeing.

"Lois, I can't be sure until we have it enlarged — maybe even computer enhanced. But at the moment the gun went off, I don't think your finger is even on the trigger."

"And you can see that?"

He shrugged.

She raised her eyebrows. "Well, I'm not sure what you think you're seeing, but I guess it couldn't hurt to try."

Clark's eyebrows crinkled. "But if no one pulled the trigger…"

"…how did the gun go off?" Lois asked, completing his thought. "Clark, I don't…"

"What?" he asked when her voice unexpectedly trailed off.

"This might be a crazy idea, but…"


"Well… Cooke was killed by a remote controlled device that was put in his phone."

"Right, but…"

"And you say the ferry had some sort of remote to trigger the explosion. And we've speculated that The Demon might be a remote device."

"I don't…"

"So what if the gun was being controlled by some sort of remote controlled device?"

"But… that would have to be some pretty specialized work — to have a remote controlled… what? Bullet?"

"But so is putting a remote control in a phone that could electrocute a man. And a remote controlled cyborg that can fly… Now that's some specialized work. What's a remote controlled bullet next to that? And you know, they never did find the bullet."

Clark cringed slightly. 'A remote controlled cyborg that can fly.' Was that a step up or a step down from being considered a demon?

"What? You don't agree?"

"No. It's not that. I just…" His voice trailed off. After all, what could he say?

Lois got up and walked over to the counter to pour herself another cup of coffee. "Clark, you're new to this. You've got to go with your hunches." She turned back towards him. "So… we get Jimmy to dissect that video. And in the meantime, we follow up on your story. After all, even if it's not the same scientist behind all of this, in every case, we're investigating scientists. And every one of those scientists we discussed yesterday has a personal grudge against me."

"So… where do we start?"

Lois thought about that as she took a sip of her coffee. "We talk to Dr. Klein."

"Why him?"

"He knows most of the scientists in the city. He'll know if there are any other scientists we should be looking into."

Clark squirmed. He knew that name. Klein was the scientist Clark had seen on television who wanted to dissect him like a frog.


"Nothing," Clark responded. "Dr. Klein it is then. Just… well, do you think it's a good idea for you to see him? After all, you are a fugitive. I could always talk to him, find out if he knows anything."

"Relax, Clark. He's a friend. He won't turn me in. We just have to meet him somewhere other than in the lab. After all, with all the security there, someone is bound to recognize me or at least recognize my name. So…" She set her cup of coffee on the counter. "What are we waiting for?"


Clark spotted the nervous scientist the moment he entered Ralph's Pagoda. He was sweating, obviously uncomfortable about something. Clark's senses went on high alert as he looked around, inside and outside the restaurant as Lois waved to Klein. When he didn't see the police waiting to storm the building, he relaxed slightly.

"Over here," she said at something just sort of a yell.

Clark cringed. Did she really have to announce that they were there to everyone in the universe? Her hair might be pulled up under a cap and she might be wearing a pair of sunglasses, but to Clark, she still looked like Lois Lane. Did she really think that a pair of glasses and a different hair style served as an effective disguise?

"Relax, Clark," she said, as if reading his mind. "People see what they expect to see."

Clark let out a slow breath, but didn't respond.

Dr. Klein spotted them and headed in their direction. He glanced around nervously before taking a seat at their table. "Should I have worn a disguise?" he asked. "I mean, it never occurred to me that…"

"Dr. Klein, it's fine," Lois said, cutting him off. "This is my…" She stumbled slightly, as if not exactly certain how to refer to him.

"…partner," Clark said.

"Partner," Lois agreed. "Clark Kent, this is Dr. Klein. Clark is helping me prove my innocence."

"Don't you think breaking out of prison makes it seem like… Have we met before?" Klein asked Clark, cutting off his own thought.

"No," said Clark.

"I'm sure we have," Klein continued, staring at Clark until he started squirming uncomfortably. "I know!" Klein suddenly exclaimed. "You're the guy on the ferry who was helping everyone escape."

"No," said Clark, panic rising in his chest. "You must be thinking of someone else." He glanced over at Lois, hoping she wasn't buying the scientist's comments. She was listening intently, and obviously thinking, but beyond that, he could get nothing. Besides, the man thought he recognized him as someone helping to save lives. So there was no way Lois would make the connection between Klein's comments and The Demon. "I was on the docks," he said, suddenly struck by an inspiration. "That must be where you saw me."

Klein studied him for a moment before nodding. "I guess that must be it. Anyway, what exactly did you call me here for?" he asked, turning his attention to Lois.

"Uhh…" She removed some papers from her briefcase and handed them to Dr. Klein. "…we think the guy we're looking for knows how to make… incredibly complicated remote control devices."

"Most toy makers could do that," said Klein.

"But this guy had to make a bullet fire by remote control — without leaving any evidence of it on the gun itself."

"So the remote control would have to be small enough to fit inside the bullet itself." Klein's eyebrows rose. "Now that would take some ingenuity."

"We've highlighted a number of names already. Do you see anyone else on that list who might be capable of creating that type of remote?"

Klein's eyes ran down the list. "What about Winslow Schott? He was a toy maker?"

"Yeah, but he preferred making teddy bears," said Lois. "Besides, last I heard, when he got out of prison, he married Margaret Duffy."

"His assistant?" asked Dr. Klein in disbelief.

Lois nodded. "They worked next to each other for twenty years before she finally worked up the nerve to tell him how she felt about him."

"I don't think I've heard about this guy," said Clark, looking at Lois who did not return his gaze.

"You must have heard about Schott," said Klein. "He was the toy maker who got fired when children didn't like his toys. Deciding that children were cruel and had to be taught a lesson, he created the Space Rat. It was an instant success — until it was discovered that it shot a chemical out of its gun that made both children and adults act like greedy children. The entire city went crazy. I was working on an experiment into the mating rituals of primates — chimpanzees in particular. And when I recovered from the chemical, I discovered that I…" He suddenly cleared his throat. "Well, that's really beside the point. Lois was the one who stopped him before he could infect the city's water supply."

"So he could have a grudge against you?" Clark said, looking at Lois again.

"I guess."

Clark crinkled his eyebrows. She seemed to have become deliberately vague when addressing him. When she again addressed Dr. Klein, Clark knew something was wrong. He just wasn't entirely sure what that was.

"I'll check it out. But… Well, I really don't think it's him, Dr. Klein. They claim I was the one who finally got them to admit their feelings for each other. I even got an invitation to their wedding. Anyone else on the list that stands out?"

Klein checked the list again before shaking his head. "Except for the ones you've already highlighted, I don't see anyone with the type of expertise you're looking for." He glanced at the names one more time. "I see Jefferson Cole is on your list."

"Yes. Why?"

Klein shrugged. "Nothing really. He was a brilliant man — too bad he turned out to be an insane criminal bent on world destruction. Sorry I couldn't be of more help."

"What about you, Dr. Klein?" Clark asked. "You must know a thing or two about remote controls." Clark ignored the steely look Lois was suddenly giving him. He didn't trust Klein. He'd given them nothing of any use. Not to mention how nervous Klein was when he first arrived. Someone had to ask the question. And if, for whatever reason, Lois wasn't prepared to do it, then he would.

"Well, yes. I've used remote controls in several of my projects over the years but…" He looked between Lois and Clark. "You can't really think I'm a suspect. Lois, you can't actually believe I'd hurt anyone. Especially not you."

"Of course not, Dr. Klein," Lois jumped in giving Clark a look of warning.

Clark didn't even bother to acknowledge the look. His gut was telling him that, at the very least, Dr. Klein knew more than he was saying. And he was not about to be intimidated by anyone — not even the great Lois Lane.


Lois hadn't said a word to him since they had left the restaurant, except for the odd grunt of acknowledgment or a terse 'yes' or 'no.' He wasn't entirely sure what was bothering her. After all, she'd been… distant even before he'd challenged her good friend, Dr. Klein.

"So what makes you think you can trust Klein?" he finally asked, steering Jimmy's car through traffic.

She shrugged.

He let out a breath. "Are you going to at least tell me what I did to make you so mad?"

"Okay, fine! You want to know. You were just… rude, Clark."

"Aren't you the one that told me you have to be rude to get the story. Besides, you were mad at me before that."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Lois said even as she folded her arms across her chest and turned slightly away from him in her seat.

He let out a breath. "Fine, Lois. Whatever."

They drove along for a moment in silence. "So this… Bobby Bigmouth. What do you think we can get out of him?"

She shrugged again. "If I knew that, I wouldn't need to talk to him. I hope you at least remembered to tell him that you had two large pizzas for him. After all, without my name, he's not likely to show up unless he seriously thinks it's worth his while."

"You were listening to the call. Why don't you tell me what I said?" Clark responded petulantly.

She didn't answer him.

Clark shook his head. What had he done? It was obviously something awful. Or, perhaps, she just got this way sometimes. He couldn't say he particularly liked this side of Lois Lane.

Glancing in the rearview mirror, it suddenly registered that they were being followed by a black SUV. He silently kicked himself. He'd been so caught up in his little squabble with Lois that he hadn't been paying attention. For all he knew, they might have been following ever since he and Lois had left the restaurant.

He took a closer look. Two heavy set men were sitting in the front seat. To Clark's mind, they didn't seem like police. Besides, if they were the police, why wouldn't they just stop them?

"Look…" Lois finally said. "I'm just not sure this partner thing is going to work out between us. Maybe it would be better if we told Perry…"

"Lois, I think we're being followed," he said quietly, interrupting her.

"What!" Lois exclaimed, immediately turning in her seat in an attempt to see for herself. "Turn here," she instructed.

Clark did as he was told, making a quick left turn onto a side street. The SUV followed.

"We're definitely being followed. Although… I wonder why they don't even seem to be making an effort to keep us from realizing it."

"So… what do you suggest? Do we try to lose them or…"

"We try to lose them," Lois responded, scribbling something on her notepad.

Giving a small shrug, Clark pushed the gas peddle down as he began weaving his way through the streets. They were in the warehouse district. Surely they'd be able to lose these thugs in some back alley.

"There!" Lois exclaimed.

Seeing what she was referring to, he took a quick look in the rearview mirror to be sure the SUV hadn't turned the last corner and, without slowing down, drove into an open garage, slammed on the breaks and turned off the engine. They both waited, watching silently until the SUV drove past the open doors of the building, still looking for their target.

They both let out identical sighs of relief.

"That was close," said Clark.

"Any idea how long they were following us?"

Clark shook his head. "I'm just annoyed with myself for not picking up on it sooner."

"Well, it's not as if I spotted them either."

Clark glanced over at her. She was still refusing to look at him, but that was the most civil thing she'd said to him since their meeting with Dr. Klein.

"I figure we wait a few more minutes," began Clark, "and then we can…"

"Damn!" Lois exclaimed, interrupting Clark when the black SUV pulled in behind them, leaving them trapped.

"Come on!" Clark exclaimed, pushing open the door and holding out his hand to Lois. When she grabbed onto it, he half pulled her over the single front seat and out the door with him. Keeping her hand grasped in his, he heard the first of several gunshots.

"The boss wants her alive," he heard a man hiss. "So aim for the legs."

Clark didn't stop to ponder this information. Instead, he pulled Lois in front of him and let her take the lead, making sure his body was, at all times, placed between her and the men with the guns. He didn't care if they were aiming for her legs or not. He wasn't about to let her be hit by a bullet. He wouldn't be hurt by a bullet. Or at least he didn't think he would. He'd never actually put that theory to the test. But at least he stood a better chance than she did.

She led him on a complicated route through the warehouse, between boxes and down alleys. Twice, she attempted to head back to the door, but the thugs following them continued to block their exit until… "This way," she said, heading towards a set of stairs. Clark hesitated slightly. Where exactly were stairs going to take them — except to trap them in the building? But a commotion behind him and a couple of additional shots firing persuaded him that she was right. They didn't have much choice.

She ran past the door to the second floor, throwing it open before disappearing out the door up one final flight of stairs to emerge on the roof of the warehouse.

The door closing behind them was all the time it took for Lois to move again, heading towards a large brick chimney. She had just ducked behind it, Clark close on her tail when Clark heard the men exit the building. The sound of a gun firing and something hitting his shoulder was almost instantaneous. Not stopping to worry about it, he dove with Lois behind the chimney.

"We know you're hit," said a man from the other side of the roof.

Lois' eyes shot to Clark. He could see fear in her expression. He quickly shook his head. She seemed to relax slightly.

"This is just stupid," the man continued. "There's no way out. Why don't you just give yourselves up? Save us all a lot of trouble. We really don't want to kill you, but if you keep this up, someone is likely to get hurt."

"Okay, so now what's the plan?" Clark whispered

"Well… you could always just fly us out of here," Lois whispered back.

Clark's eyes shot to Lois. He couldn't have heard her right. She couldn't have possibly suggested…

"What are you talking about?" Clark hissed back.

"If we don't go now, we're as good as caught," Lois continued.

Clark cautiously peeked around the edge of the chimney — only to snap his head back just as another bullet whizzed past his head. The men might not want to kill her, but the same obviously did not apply to him. Not that they could necessarily kill him. But if they kept trying, it was only a matter of time before he revealed his secret anyway — and not just to Lois.

He glanced around in desperation. There had to be another way out of this. He looked back at Lois and saw that she was watching his every expression intently. And suddenly he found himself wondering if she had planned this. Not the men with guns, of course. But this idiotic hiding place. Had she deliberately put him in this position so that he would have to reveal himself to her or let them be caught by the bad guys?

Taking one final glance around the side the chimney, he suddenly realized that it didn't matter. He couldn't risk letting them be caught.


Even though she was half expecting it, Lois gasped when Clark swept her up in his arms and hurled them over the side of the roof. And then they were falling. She closed her eyes tightly and clung to his neck, praying that she wasn't wrong. But when she had realized there was no way out, she'd figured their only chance of escape was to take them to the roof and hope that her hunch about Clark was right.

Although she wasn't entirely sure hope was the right word. After all, if she was right, then Clark and The Demon were undoubtedly one and the same.

Their fall ended suddenly and… She peeked open her eyes, not entirely sure what she would see. She was surprised that instead of the buildings of the warehouse district, what she saw was… trees flying below them at an incredible rate of speed. It took her a moment to realize she had that backwards.

Her arms automatically tightened around Clark's neck. They were flying! They were actually flying! How was that possible? Men couldn't fly — not without some sort of mechanical device, anyway. But… Clark Kent was actually flying?

She spotted Perry's cabin up ahead as their flight slowed and Clark floated towards the ground. As soon as Clark's feet touched down, she moved quickly to get out of his arms. She wasn't sure whether to be relieved or terrified. Once she had put some distance between them, she stopped and turned back towards him.

He was The Demon — the one who had torn the side off the ferry, killing almost a hundred people. And the man who had just saved her life. Her heart and mind felt as if they were being torn in two. She would have to move carefully — not do anything that would upset him. Otherwise, he could easily snap her in two with his bare hands.

"How did you know?" Clark asked.

She wasn't quite able to look at him. "I've had suspicions for a while…" She stopped to get the slight tremor out of her voice. "Well, I did once I thought about all the strange things that have happened since I met you. But I didn't know until I saw how uncomfortable you got when Dr. Klein recognized you. I kept telling myself I was wrong. That you couldn't be The Demon. But…" She finally looked up, gesturing to him, for the first time in her life at a complete loss for words.


"How could you do it, Clark? All those people!" She suddenly found her voice and as she spoke, even she could hear the anguish in her words. She'd allowed herself to fall… to care about him. And now to find out that, unlike her, he placed no value in truth, justice or human life was heartbreaking. Wisdom deserted her. The determination to watch her comments deserted her. She was well aware of the risk she was taking in confronting him so directly, but she couldn't seem to stop herself. She had to know. "And if all of this is connected… Theodore Cooke. The ferry. My conviction. Clark, were you responsible for my conviction, too?"

"No! Lois, I swear to you I wasn't responsible for any of it. I didn't kill those people. I was trying to help. Come on, Lois. Think about this. You know me."

"Do I? Do I really? Clark, after…" She made a wavy motion with her hands as her mind flashed back to flying in his arms only moments before. "How can you say I know you? I don't even know what you are. What exactly are you?"

He ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "A man, Lois. I'm a man."

"Are you?"

"If anyone should know that, it's you."

She flinched slightly at the reminder of the previous night. Of touching him. Of being touched. He had all the parts of a man. She could certainly attest to that, but… Had she slept with an android or a demon or… Her mind went blank with other possibilities. She suddenly felt dirty. She rubbed at her arms in a subconscious effort to cleanse his touch from her body. Suddenly, her eyes caught his — and she froze. She could see there an expression of despair, as if reading her mind and realizing how dirty she felt. Her hands immediately ceased their movements.

"Lois…" he began, reaching towards her.

Without conscious thought, she took a step back. His hand dropped and he turned away.

"Maybe it would be best if I just left," he said.

She could hear the hopelessness in his voice. She was surprised by the way it pulled at her heart strings. "No! Wait!" She reached out automatically to touch him. Her hand stopped when she realized what she was doing. Still, taking a deep breath, she allowed her hand to touch his arm. He felt human enough. At least she hadn't been a complete fool in believing he was.

He turned back then, his hand looking down at where she was still deliberately touching his arm. "What do you want from me?" he asked as he looked up to meet her eyes.

"I want…" Her voice trailed off. She wanted so many things. She wanted this to all be some horrible nightmare. She wanted to believe that he was a good man. She wanted to wake up, still in his bed with him sleeping peacefully beside her. She felt tears congregate in the corners of her eyes. "Just tell me… what you are? Are you an android? Did my father create you? Was this some sick attempt by my father to find me a…" She gestured towards him, not entirely sure how to complete her question.

Her father had never approved of her boyfriends — always thought she could do better. Had he made Clark as some sort of perfect mate for her? It would certainly explain Clark's attraction to her. Maybe he had been programmed to love her. And maybe he had been stolen to do his new master's bidding — sinking the ferry. It was… preposterous. But then, so was flying above the trees in this man's arms. She felt a tear escape her eye to slip unheeded down her face.

Clark ran his hand through his hair. "Why don't we sit down? I promise. I'll tell you everything I know."

Lois' eyes narrowed. What exactly did he mean by that? Why not just tell her now? Why did they need to sit down to do it? "I don't want to sit down. Just tell me what you are."

"Honestly… I don't exactly know," Clark said, looking very close to tears himself.


'Honestly… I don't exactly know.' The words echoed through Lois' mind as she poured herself a cup of coffee and took a seat at the table in the cabin. How was that possible? Unless, of course, he was an android and couldn't remember anything back before he was made. Or maybe he had his mind wiped periodically by…

"Lois, are you okay?"

She looked at Clark. Was she okay? She wasn't exactly sure. Maybe she was having some sort of nervous breakdown. Maybe she was still in her cell at the Metropolis Women's Prison and she was imagining all this to keep herself from focusing on what Max was doing to her. Maybe she was…


"What?" she snapped, annoyed at being forced out of her internal babble.

"She speaks," said Clark.

She couldn't quite tell if he was being facetious or if he was just trying to get some sort of response from her. If it was the latter, how should she respond? Come to think of it, if it was the former, how should she respond?

"Lois, would you just relax? You're making me nervous. Maybe just have a sip of your coffee or something."

Her nervous? Hah. That was a laugh. In fact, hah, hah, hah. That was hilarious. So why wasn't she laughing on the outside? Well, maybe she just didn't feel like laughing on the outside. But she was certainly laughing on the inside. In fact, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah. Hah. She added the last one for good measure. Quickly, she lifted her cup and took a sip of coffee.

"Okay, what if I just start talking?" asked Clark. "Tell you what I know."

She nodded. Talking was good. So why wasn't she doing any of it? Normally she talked. She knew how to talk. She really did. In fact, she was a brook. So why couldn't she talk right now? "I can talk." There. She'd said something.


Of course, it might not have made a lot of sense. But, hey, at least she'd made the effort, right?

"Lois, please. You have to get a grip."

A grip. Oh yeah. Her eyes drifted down that tight fitting black t-shirt. There was nothing she'd like better. God. What was she doing? For all she knew, he'd killed almost a hundred people on the ferry! He'd said he didn't. And she believed him… or did she? Until she knew for sure, how could she be thinking about how sexy he was?

She quickly closed her eyes, raising her coffee cup to her lips once again. A grip. Yes. She had to get a grip. She forced herself to concentrate on the slightly bitter taste of the coffee. Swallowing, she took a deep breath. Calm. Collected. There was no reason to panic — well, other than the fact that a few minutes ago she'd been flying in… She felt her heart rate began to pick up again and pushed away that line of thought.

"Would this be easier if I just came back later? Gave you some time to…"

"No!" Lois opened her eyes, forcing herself to focus. "No, I'm ready to do this now. I thought I knew you. I thought you were decent and straight up guy. I thought you were the last honest man. I thought you were… you were… I thought you were Clark Kent. Who are you?"


Clark felt a small pain in his chest. She was doubting everything — even his name. Maybe that was his way out of this. Maybe he could convince her that he wasn't the real Clark Kent — that he was an android made to… No. Not only was he certain she'd see through his lies, but he didn't even have enough time to make such a complicated lie sound believable.

Still, did he dare tell her the truth? After all, if he told her everything, she could ruin his life. On the other hand, she could ruin his life right now.

He sighed. Only one choice existed — to tell her everything and hope that she would understand why no one could know.

"Are you going to answer my question?" she asked. When he looked confused, she continued. "Is your name really Clark Kent?"

"Yes. Or at least, it's the name my adoptive parents gave me. I don't remember my real parents. I don't even know exactly where I'm from."

He got up from his chair and began to pace, knowing that every word he said could find themselves into an award winning article for the Daily Planet. Still, there was no choice. She was too smart to be fooled by half the story. He'd have to trust that her sense of justice and fair-play would win out in the end. "All I do know is that for as long as I can remember, my parents were Martha and Jonathan Kent from Smallville, Kansas. I don't exactly remember when they told me I was adopted. When I was younger, they told me what they told the community — that I was my mother's sister's illegitimate child. I didn't know the truth until years later — when I was in my early teens.

"The truth is…" He hesitated, still struggling with what he was about to reveal.


Why she did it, she wasn't entirely sure. But when he couldn't seem to continue, she suddenly found herself rising to her feet and making her way over to where he was standing, looking completely forlorn. She placed her hand on his arm and, when he met her eyes, spoke. "It's okay, Clark. Just tell me."

His expression softened as he obviously reached a decision. "I'm sorry. My father just drilled it into my head over and over ever since I was a child. 'Don't tell anyone. They'll take you away to a lab and dissect you like a frog.'"

She felt a sharp pain in her heart and an unexpected need to reassure him. "Well, look at it this way. If I call them to come and get you, you're not the only one who's going to find himself locked up."

He actually smiled at that, reaching out to gently cup her cheek. When she shrank from his touch, he lowered his hand. She forced herself not to notice the expression of resigned disappointment that crossed his face.

"So…" she finally said. "Tell me."

"Mom and Dad don't know much. But apparently, one night they were driving into town when they saw what they thought was a meteor land in Schuster's Field. Well, you've got to know my mom. She made my dad pull off the road so that they could take a look."

Lois couldn't help but smile at the fondness with which he spoke of his adopted parents.

"What they discovered was… a small space ship."


Clark shrugged. "Dad had an old crowbar in the back of their pickup so he went and got it. They pried it open and found a single passenger — a baby. Me."

"Are you sure your folks aren't just pulling your leg? I mean, it seems a little…" Her voice trailed off when he was suddenly floating about six inches off the floor. "Oh, right," she said, stumbling back until she was able to sink into her chair once again. "There is that."

"There is that," Clark agreed. "When I was a baby, there was nothing too… odd. But as I grew up, I discovered I could do a lot of things that other children couldn't."

"Like fly."

"Not at first. In fact, flying was the last thing to develop."

Lois felt as if she'd just stepped into the twilight zone. "Okay," she said slowly, hoping her brain was not about to overwhelm her once again. "I know about the strength thing, but… is there more?"

Clark nodded.

She swallowed hard. "How much more?"


Lois' hands shook as she poured herself another cup of coffee. X- ray vision. Lasers that shot out of his eyes. Freezing breath. Superstrength. Superspeed. Flight. Invulnerability. Enhanced senses — including hearing, eyesight and smell. Each revelation had been backed up with a demonstration. She felt as if her mind was on overload.

"If you're invulnerable…" She kept her back turned to him, supposedly to stir some milk into her second cup of coffee. "…can you feel… I mean last night…" Her voice trailed off.

Clark didn't need her to complete her thought. "I felt every touch," he said softly.

She didn't respond except for a small nod of the head. She refused to think why that was so important to her. But it had been preying at the back of her mind since he'd mentioned that, at least in his experience to date, he was invulnerable.

"So then… you were found in a space ship…" Lois said quickly changing the subject.


"What exactly are you saying? That you're some sort of…" She gestured towards him, struggling to find the politically correct word. "…alien?"

"I don't know. I guess that's a possibility. But… well, remember that I was found at the height of the cold war. My folks figured I might be some sort of Russian experiment. A few days later, some… men showed up, asking all sorts of questions about a 'meteor' that had come down in the area."


"My folks didn't know. Some sort of government men. Mom and Dad didn't tell them anything. Mom told me they were scary."

"Your parents… your adoptive parents, I mean, just… what? Kept you?"

Clark nodded. "They couldn't have children of their own. And they figured if I was put into some space capsule as a human experiment, then whoever would do that didn't deserve to raise a child. So…" Clark shrugged. "That's really all I know."

"Couldn't you find out more by… I don't know. Maybe examining the space ship. Surely it would give some clue to your origins. Russian words on the side. American markings. Something."

"It probably would tell me something. My father, afraid that someone might find it, buried it. But a few years ago when we went to dig it up — for that very reason — we discovered it was gone."

"Gone — as in… gone?"

"Yep. So…" Clark finally said after a moment of silence, his voice conveying tension. "…are you going to tell anyone?"

She crinkled her eyebrows. "Tell anyone… what?"

"You know. About me."

"Oh." She took a sip on her coffee, watching him intently over the rim of her coffee cup. "Tell me what happened at the ferry."

"Aren't you going to answer my question?"

"Tell me what happened at the ferry," she said again.

Clark let out a slow breath. Still, after a moment, he acceded to her request. "I was down at the docks, following up on the Cooke story, when there was an explosion on the ferry. I spotted a wool cap someone had left sitting on a bench and I dashed between two of the buildings and put it on, using my laser vision to create eye holes. I immediately jumped into the water and swam through the hole in the boat to see what I could do to help. That's about it."

Lois shook her head. She had so hoped he would just tell her the truth. "That's not everything, Clark. There's more to the story. Why won't you just tell me what happened? Maybe some mad scientist did something to you, made you unable to resist his orders. If that's the case, maybe we can find a way to…"

"What are you talking about?" he interrupted.

"The video tape caught you tearing boards off the side of the ship. Experts said that it caused the ship to sink faster. Clark, you weren't helping people. You were killing them."

"No! Okay, yeah. I did tear some planks off the ship. But that's because it was the only way I could save someone's life."

"What are you talking about?"

"After I got everyone out of the lower levels, I did a final search. I found a guy — unconscious and bleeding badly. There was a pole spearing him to the ship — through his leg. The water was coming up quickly. I didn't have much time. I cut him free using my laser vision. But by the time I had him free, the hole was already under water. Considering how badly he was bleeding, the only way I was able to get him out was through the side of the ship. So I took a calculated risk. I realized everyone on the top deck was well on their way to getting off the ferry. So I enlarged the hole and flew my passenger out through it." He picked up the paper and tossed it in front of her on the table. "The 'cargo' everyone is talking about… It was a man. When I got him back to the dock, emergency workers were already arriving. So I took off the wool cap and delivered the man to them."

"Why should I believe you?"

"Call the hospital," Clark said in frustration. "Ask them if they have a man there that was speared through the leg with a steel pole. Or… believe Dr. Klein. He recognized me. He saw me helping people get out through the hole in the ship."

She was silent as she digested this information. "There's one thing I still don't understand."

"What's that?" asked Clark, his frustration level rising. She was still not promising to keep this information to herself. And given her reputation, he could almost see visions of a Pulitzer dancing behind her eyes. Still, there was no going back now.

"Well, if you're so scared of people finding out about you — you know, putting you in a lab and dissecting you like a frog — why take such a risk?"

"What was the option — letting all those people die?"

She studied him for a long moment. "The car accident."


"The car accident a couple days before the ferry incident. You were… helping out there, too."


"So… why not just come out to the world? Why not stand up and say, 'Hey, here I am. I can help.' After all, if you're really invulnerable, they can't really dissect you. And if you're as strong as you seem to be, and can fly, they're not going to be able to lock you up either. If you really want to help, the way you claim, why all the… deception?"

Clark thought carefully before responding. "What type of life would I have if I did that? I'd be the 'freak' or the 'alien.' No one would ever look at me the same again. People would want to use me. Others would recoil from me in fear. I'd never have any privacy. People would pick through my garbage — wanting to know what the alien ate. Paparazzi would follow my every move. And then there's my parents… What would some lunatic do to them? You know how people are. They'd never have a moment's peace — never be safe.

"I've been trying to help when I can," Clark continued. "But I just can't risk going public. Besides, to go public right now would be a disaster. People think I'm some sort of demon who blew up a ferry and killed almost a hundred people. And even if I tell them the truth, what are the chances that they'll believe me?"

"I believe you," she said, suddenly realizing that she did. He was such a bad liar. She'd figured that out early on. She knew when he was lying. And she knew when he wasn't. And right now, he wasn't.

Clark's expression softened. "Yeah, well you're exceptionally smart. But the rest of them… It's not as if I can even tell them where I came from or what I am. How can I go public?"

Lois nodded slowly as she let that digest. "I won't tell anyone."


"I think you heard me. You're right. You certainly can't come forward right now. The press would crucify you before even hearing your side of the story. Don't look at me as if I've just grown another head. I'm perfectly capable of keeping a secret!"

"But you said it yourself. This is THE story."

She shrugged. She wasn't quite sure why she was willing to keep his secret. And she wasn't about to analyze it. But… she couldn't do it. She couldn't do it to him. She couldn't do it to the parents he so obviously adored.

"Thank you," Clark concluded softly.

"But if you ever do decide to go public…"

"You'll get the story. I promise."

She nodded. She couldn't have him thinking she'd completely lost her edge, after all. And… "I still have a couple questions," she informed him.


"Well… how did you know I was in danger — when you broke me out of prison, I mean."

Clark shifted uncomfortably.


"Well, it's sort of…" He let out a breath. "Okay, well, after I visited you at prison, I was sort of depressed."

"I thought it was a good conversation. We covered a lot of ground."

"It was — except that you were absolutely convinced that The Demon was enemy number one."


"Anyway, I sat down on a bench in the park across from the prison — to think. And… Well, I sort of ended up watching you read the paper. Using my x-ray vision."

"But it was hours after you left before Max stopped by."

Clark shrugged.


"Anyway, that's how I knew… I really didn't think through what I was doing — or how I would explain it. All I knew was that you were in danger and that I had to get you out."

"But you were still thinking clearly enough to disable the security cameras. How did you do that?"

"I've gotten pretty good over the years at avoiding security cameras. I just shot them a blast of laser vision as I went past. I didn't even think about it. Getting you out was more difficult. After all, I couldn't do anything that was too… obvious."

"Yeah, well, it did take me a while to put things together."

"Not so long," said Clark. "In fact, less than a day."

"Still… I could have been quicker. I just kept telling myself that there was no way someone who could touch me like…" Lois cleared her throat. "…who was as gentle as you could be The Demon."


"Come take a look at this, Clark."

Clark turned off the heat on the stove, set down the spatula he was using to cook the stir-fry and licked his fingers as he walked over to where Lois was staring at her laptop. After they had finished their talk, Clark had gone back to the city to pick up Jimmy's car from where it was still sitting in the warehouse. Clark had immediately become suspicious when it was simply sitting as it had been, untouched. A quick check of the car had turned up the reason. A small tracking device had been installed next to the left rear tire. Someone had obviously been hoping they would return for the car so that they could be tracked back to their hiding place. Crushing the small instrument in his hand, he quickly reduced it to dust before climbing into the car and driving off.

Once he was certain he was not being followed, Clark's next task was to go to the place where they had been scheduled to meet with Bobby Bigmouth. Since he was almost two hours late, he was not surprised that the man was not there.

His final task was to return Jimmy's car. He'd quietly parked it back where he'd found it and stuck the keys under the front mat. Then, without taking time to go into the Daily Planet, he had returned to the cabin. He would send Jimmy an email later to tell him the car was returned. He didn't really need it, after all. Lois had one of the Daily Planet staff cars. And he didn't need his own car to keep Lois from knowing his secret anymore.

When he'd arrived back at the cabin, it was getting late. Lois had been swamped in research on the web and so he'd taken it upon himself to make supper. She'd given him a funny look, but had not said anything as he began whirling the knife, chopping and dicing with ease.

He had to admit, now that he'd told Lois everything, he was having mixed feelings. In some ways, it felt as if an incredible weight had been lifted from his mind. She knew who he was and seemed to believe he hadn't killed all those people. She didn't even seem to hate him. But in the back of his mind, he couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking every time she shrank from his touch. She'd been doing that since before he'd told her everything. On the other hand, she'd told him she'd been suspicious for some time before that. Did he now repel her? He'd seen how pale she'd gone when he'd referred to their night together — as if the mere thought of intimacy with him left her almost sick to her stomach.

He tried to push the thought to the back of his mind. He was determined to keep things in perspective — even if every time she recoiled from his touch, it left him feeling… betrayed. She might just be trying to come to terms with some… unusual facts. But in some ways, her reaction to him had confirmed his worst fears about how people would treat him if they knew the truth.

"Look," said Lois, pointing to the computer screen.

"What is it?"

"You were right, Clark," she said, looking at him over her shoulder.

"What else is new?" he asked, fighting off the way his heart started pounding in response to the twinkle in her eyes.

She jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow. "Anyway, look," she continued, rubbing her sore elbow.

"I told you," he said when he looked at the picture on the screen.

"Yes, you did. But, Clark…" She turned towards him a big smile on her face. "I didn't believe it. My finger…"

"…was nowhere near that trigger when the gun went off."

Whether she threw herself into his arms or he pulled her into his arms, Clark wasn't entirely sure. But a moment later, he was holding her, swinging her off her feet as they laughed together.

"I didn't kill him, Clark," she said burying her face in his shoulder. "I really didn't."

He slowed, allowing her feet to return to the ground. She pulled back far enough to look at him but not far enough to get out of his grasp and their laughter suddenly died as a familiar tension encompassed them.

"Lois," Clark whispered.

And suddenly, she was no longer there.

Clark knew instantly why she'd disappeared. She knew what he was — and was repulsed by him.

"Anyway," she said, stumbling to find words, "I didn't kill him — not even accidentally. You have no idea what a relief that is."

"I think I have some idea," Clark responded, quelling his disappointment. "I'm so happy for you, Lois."

"Well, if it hadn't been for you seeing…" Her voice trailed off. "Did you use your… vision gizmo to see it?"

Clark's eyebrows shot up. "Vision gizmo?"

She shrugged.

"Vision gizmo works. Yeah. I enlarged the image. So I knew that when Jimmy did the same, he'd see what I saw."

"I can't believe I never thought to do that." She gave a self- depreciating chuckle. "I guess I've missed a lot of things in this investigation. I've been a little… off my game, I guess."

"Well, given that you thought you might have really killed him, I guess you weren't looking for another possibility."

"True. Still… Anyway… thank you."

"Hey, no problem, Lois. We're a team right? We help each other out."

"Just like we're going to find a way to clear you from responsibility for the ferry disaster when we discover the real culprit," she said.

He smiled. "Well, thanks. But something tells me that it might take a lot more than finding the real culprit to get people to trust someone already nicknamed 'The Demon'."


"So, anyway, what else have you found?"

"Oh, right. Well, I did a preliminary search on each of our six suspects."


Lois nodded. "I crossed the Vail brothers and my father off the list. After all, we're no longer looking for someone who can create an android. I have to tell you, crossing my father off the list felt pretty good."

"I bet. But that still leaves eight."

"How do you figure?"

"Joey Bermuda," he began, running his eyes over the list, "also known as the Handyman, Jefferson Cole, Kyle Griffin, Herkimer Johnson, Thadeous Roark, Vasili Sawchenko, also known as Lucky Leon, Winslow Schott and Dr. Klein."

"Clark, Dr. Klein isn't…"

"He was nervous about something when we met up with him this morning."

"Bernard gets nervous if he thinks he misplaced a paperclip. Meeting with a fugitive… I'm surprised he didn't have a heart attack."

"Still… those two thugs found us somehow."

Lois had no good answer for that. Hesitantly, she added the two additional names to the list.

"So what did you find?" asked Clark

"Well, I think we can safely cross Thadeous Roark off our list."

"Why's that?"

"After his escape from prison a couple of years ago, he went down to South America and got involved with a guerilla group there. He was killed when government troops raided their hideout."

"You're right. He doesn't sound like our bad guy." Clark picked up a nearby pen and crossed off Thadeous Roark.

"Kyle Griffin, together with Victor and his father have completely disappeared. What I did discover is that Griffin's father sold his toy company. The profits from the sale were deposited in a Swiss Bank account."

"So it could be them — but right now we have no way to find them."

Lois nodded. "In fact, Griffin would be my number one suspect — which is why he was among one of the first I researched. But… well, without any idea where he might be, I can't even say if he's still in Metropolis. Besides, there is one thing that doesn't seem… in character."

"What's that?"

"Griffin always wanted to rub my nose in my… humiliation. It's been a month since my conviction — and almost a year since Elroy Sykes died. I can't quite believe that he'd wait this long without at the very least giving me… a hint of some sort. Maybe just a postcard saying… 'Couldn't have happened to a nicer person' or something."

"Well, think about it. Maybe there's something you've overlooked. After all, from what you've told me, I suspect you haven't really been thinking in terms of being framed."

"That's true. Okay, I'll keep on it."

"So who else?"

"I didn't get a chance to check on Jefferson Cole and Herkimer Johnson. I assume they're both still in prison."

"Okay, so I pay each of them a little visit."

"What do you mean 'you'?"

"Lois, what are you going to do? Walk into the men's prison visiting room?"

"I could get some phoney ID and wear a disguise."

"And… are you telling me neither Cole nor Johnson are going to scream out your name to everyone the moment they see you?"

"I suppose there is that," Lois said, a definite pout in her voice.

"So who does that leave?"

"Umm… Joey Bermuda. He got off on a technicality. Apparently, there were problems with the search warrant. I tracked down a current address for him.

"Then there's Vasili Sawchenko, or I guess it's still Lucky Leon. He made a deal with the government. I'm not sure of the exact details. They seem to be pretty hush, hush. I sent Jimmy an email asking him to dig into it. But it seems Lucky Leon is back in business — selling his desk friends and golf friends. I got both his business and his home addresses."

"So that only leaves Winslow Schott."

"I'll get an address for him, too. But I really doubt it's him. Of course, it could be some brilliant mad-man that I haven't encountered before."

"True. But it seems a little odd that someone would frame you if they didn't know you."

Lois' eyebrows shot up.

"That's not exactly what I meant. I just meant…"

"I know what you meant, Clark."

"Oh, there is one other thing. I don't know if you heard. But when we were running away from the men with guns this afternoon, I heard one of them say something about 'the boss' wanting you alive."

Lois shivered.


"Well, when he was alive, Lex was called 'the boss.'"

"So what are you saying? You think Lex Luthor is still alive?"

"I don't… No! No, I saw a building collapse on him. He's dead. It's just… Well, I saw him jump off the top of Lex Towers, too, and he came back after that. I guess… I just can't be sure. Besides… well, having me framed for murder and sent to prison because I rejected him would be just his style. Did you know that he kidnapped me on the most important day of my life?"

"What day was that?"

"It had been announced that I had won the Pulitzer Prize for my story about Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde and Al Capone. The Daily Planet paid the expenses for my trip to Columbia University and even provided me with a limo. I got in, on my way to the luncheon where the award was being presented, and the entire thing filled with some sort of sleeping gas. When I came to, I found out I had been replaced with a clone. A clone was the one who received my Pulitzer!"

"Lois…" He couldn't help but respond to the pain in her voice.

"Then I lost my memory while trying to escape and Lex managed to convince me that we had been wrongfully convicted of… I'm not sure. Some crime. …and were on the run from the police. I almost shot Perry when he came to rescue me. So is Lex capable of sending me to prison… yes. And he knew enough scientists — had most of the city's scientists on the payroll in fact. The only question is… is he alive? I don't think so. But I didn't think so once before."

"So we keep our eyes open for anything Luthorish as well."

"I guess so," Lois responded, none-to-happy with the prospect.

"But you know, 'the boss' is pretty generic. They could be referring to anyone."

Lois didn't respond verbally — just a simple nod of the head.

"What about the license number I saw you writing down when we were trying to lose those men this afternoon?" Clark asked in an obvious attempt to get her mind off Luthor.

"Oh, right. Well, I traced it to a rental agency. But… I'm not sure there's much there. The name on the rental agreement was Michael Corleone."

"That's the name of one of the characters in 'The Godfather.'"

"Well, that confirms my theory that they used a phony name. But then all they would need is some phony ID. And I didn't recognize them so I don't know where that gets us."

"With a lot of work still to do." He turned his attention back to the stir fry. "Just give me a few more minutes and I'll have supper ready. Why don't we eat while we try to decide on our next move?"


Dinner dishes were put away and night had fallen before Lois raised a subject that had been on her mind for quite some time. They had laid out their plan for tomorrow and there really wasn't anything more they could do tonight.

"So…" she asked nervously "…are you staying here for the night?"

"Is that an invitation?"

Lois glanced nervously at the only bed in the cabin.

"I'm sorry," Clark said immediately. "I told you, I'd let… that go. I shouldn't have brought it up. No. I'll just fly back to my apartment. Probably better anyway. The police might find it somewhat odd if I don't put in an appearance tonight."

Lois nodded, still not entirely relaxed.



There was a long moment of awkward silence.

"Tomorrow, I'll go directly to the prison — talk to Herkimer Johnson and Jefferson Cole."

"Good plan," said Lois, glad for the transfer to talk about work. "And I'll see what else I can dig up on our suspects. We'll meet back here later."

Clark nodded and walked to the door. Opening the door, he turned back towards her. "Goodnight, Lois."

"Goodnight, Clark."

He hesitated for a moment and she watched his eyes, almost involuntarily, flick down to her lips before he turned and walked out the door.

As soon as he was gone, she closed the door behind him, leaning against it. She wasn't entirely sure anything had ever been more difficult than sending him home tonight. If this was an example of what not sleeping with Clark was like, she was in serious trouble.


Clark went about his normal nighttime routine in something of a fog. Returning to his apartment had been the right thing to do. When he'd arrived, he'd noticed that his apartment was under surveillance. Still, he couldn't quite shake the memory of his last minutes with Lois.

She was still repulsed by him. For a moment, he'd been tempted to kiss her goodnight. But then he'd heard her heartbeat increase in fear of his touch. He had to be more careful. No more half- serious jokes about spending the night. No more reaching out to touch her. Such things made her seriously uncomfortable.

He supposed he should just be grateful that she didn't plan to tell his secret to the world. Unless, of course, she was just telling him what he wanted to hear. Maybe she was still struggling with what she was going to do. Maybe her discomfort around him was because of her indecision.

After turning out the lights, he climbed into bed. What he wouldn't give to know what she was thinking. But he hadn't dared ask her. What if she confirmed his fears? What if she was repulsed by him?


Lois' first task was to put away the clothing Clark had brought her. She hesitated when she came to the underwear he had included as her thoughts drifted to the image of him going through her underwear drawer. A smile pulled at the corner of her lips when she realized that he'd included some of her… sexier, less comfortable items. Then she came across something that sent her blood pressure souring. A couple of years ago… on impulse… she'd purchased a black teddy from Victoria's Secrets. She'd never actually worn it. But… Clark had included it in the items he'd brought. She couldn't help but be amused, her thoughts still on that teddy as she climbed into bed, wearing an over-sized t- shirt.

Lois' hand drifted down her body, following her memories of his touch with her own. His eyes, dark, filled with passion, looking down at her in a kind of awe. His hands, gentle but strong, constantly searching and responding to the small changes in her expression or breathing when he found a spot that was particularly sensitive. His lips. His taste. His feel. His smell. All of it was still fresh in her mind — bringing her body quickly to the point of release.

She shouldn't be giving into her memories. She knew that. The sexual tension between her and Clark was almost overwhelming as it was. She was certain he must feel it, too. Every time they touched, she felt sparks throughout her body, sending unwanted signals to her brain — signals that could very well send her back into his arms. But nothing had changed since the previous morning when she'd left his bed. With her future so uncertain, she had nothing to offer him. It was best, under the circumstances, that she not let him get his hopes up.

Besides, even if she were cleared, a relationship between them didn't stand a chance. Clark didn't understand this. But she did. And given that they could end up as colleagues at the Planet, it was best that they keep things… strictly professional.

She knew all this. But it still didn't make sending him home tonight any easier. As the hour had grown later and thoughts had turned to sleeping arrangements, she'd become more and more distracted. She quietly rebuked herself. There was little chance that he didn't know how easily he could affect her. And as long as she allowed her feelings, her desires to be so transparent, she was going to keep him bound to her, keep him hoping.

Still, that didn't stop her from closing her eyes and allowing her hands to provide her with the relief she craved.


Clark wondered which of his two suspects to talk to first as he made his way to the men's prison first thing the next morning. He finally decided on Herkimer Johnson. Herkimer was the weaker of the two. Clark had an idea about how to blind side them with the real reason he was there. He'd try it out on Herkimer and then perfect it on Cole.

"Can I help you?"

"Yes. I'm Clark Kent of the Daily Planet. And I'm wanting to meet with Herkimer Johnson."

The man checked his list. "Are you sure he's in prison here?"

"I thought so."

"Well, I don't seem to have him. But the name seems familiar." He rose from behind the desk. "Just let me check on something."

Clark waited patiently for the man to return. If Johnson wasn't there, they would have to figure out where he had been imprisoned. That could take additional time. Still… it wasn't as if there would be much choice. Unless, of course, Johnson had escaped or been released. Lois might not have heard.

"I'm sorry that took so long," said the guard, returning to the desk.

"Were you able to find out where Herkimer Johnson is?"

"Yes, sir."


"I'm sorry to tell you this. But… He's dead."


Lois was almost overwhelmed at the amount of information Jimmy had sent her. First thing in the morning, she sent him an email asking for the financial records of Joey Bermuda, Jefferson Cole, Kyle Griffin, Herkimer Johnson, Vasili Sawchenko and Winslow Schott. She'd almost asked for Dr. Klein's records, too. But then, as she'd been typing up the email, she'd realized just how ridiculous it was to even think of Bernard Klein as a suspect.

And right now she was just as glad that she hadn't asked for the additional information. Because the email was taking forever to download. Still, once it had, she found herself looking through thousands of eye-twisting numbers. This was her least favorite part of any investigation — the paperwork.

At first, she focused on one issue — two thousand dollar monthly withdrawals starting about a year before to match the payments made to Theodore Cooke during the same time period. When she couldn't find any corresponding withdrawals, she turned her attention to the rest of their suspects' financial records — looking for anything that raised a red flag.

In doing so, she found a number of things that seemed slightly suspicious. A fifty-thousand dollar payment had been made to Joey Bermuda about a week after the death of Elroy Sykes. Winslow Schott had pulled a large amount of money — almost seventy- thousand dollars — out of his account around the same time. But Lois couldn't quite see Schott working with Bermuda.

Lucky Leon had the most complicated financial records — mainly because of his business interests. As a result, even though she was unable to find two thousand dollar a month payments in there, it would be easy enough for Lucky Leon to hide those payments amongst his expenses.

Another odd thing was that Herkimer Johnson's bank account had been closed about six months before. And, according to Jimmy, there were no new accounts. She knew the account had not been closed just because of Johnson's incarceration because she did have a current account for Jefferson Cole. On the other hand, Cole's account activity had been pretty minimal since he'd gone to prison.

Jimmy had been unable to find any financial information on Kyle Griffin since the sale of Griffin's father's toy company and the deposit of the funds into a Swiss Bank account. Jimmy had apologized, saying that he had been able to break the code on the Swiss account but that he would keep trying. Lois let out a breath. Her most likely suspect. And there was no indication that he was even alive. Yet she was convinced he was out there somewhere. If it hadn't been for the oddity of Griffin not taunting her with her conviction, she'd be absolutely convinced that he was the one behind all this. It was just so… his style.

She'd also managed to get one more piece of information from Jimmy. And she'd done a little bit of digging. But she would wait to talk to Clark before following up on it.

Once she'd finished her research, she checked the clock. Clark wasn't back yet. She puttered around the cabin for a while, growing increasingly bored. She wasn't used to waiting around. She was a reporter. She should be out pounding the pavement, following leads, not trapped… Her thought suddenly trailed off. Opening the cabin door, she spotted the car parked outside. Clark would never approve, of course. He would say it was too dangerous. But she didn't exactly need his permission, did she.


Jefferson Cole looked almost exactly the way Clark expected. Older than Clark. Very distinguished — although how he managed to pull that off in his prison greys, Clark was entirely uncertain. Maybe it was in the way he carried himself. But he looked every part of the distinguished scientist — maybe even more so than Dr. Klein.

"My name's Clark Kent. I work for the Daily Planet," Clark explained when Cole picked up the phone.

"Uhh… yes. I've seen your byline. So what does the Daily Planet want with me?"

"I'm working on a story and I was told that you were a brilliant scientist and I thought…"


"Excuse me?"

"You said I was a brilliant scientist. I am a brilliant scientist."

Clark made a mental note. This man had quite an ego. "Sorry. Of course that's what I meant."

The scientist looked appeased.

"Anyway, I was wondering if you'd let me pick your brain for a moment." When Cole gestured for him to continue, Clark spoke again. "I'm wondering what you think about this new flying man. There's been some speculation that he might be an android — perhaps even a remote controlled android."

"I've not heard that."

"Well, that's what I heard. Anyway, the people I've spoken to said that you knew something about remote controls. And I was wondering…"

"Who did you hear this from?"

"Just around." Clark tried to look as innocent as possible. In point of fact, he'd never heard remote control devices mentioned in connection to Jefferson Cole. But if Cole knew anything, Clark didn't think the man's ego would let him play dumb.

"Well, remotes aren't really my specialty. But obviously I know more than most. So what were you wondering?"

"Have you ever created your own remote?"

"Can't say that I have. But it would be a simple enough procedure should I decide to do it. Basic electronics." He took a closer look at Clark. "Well, simple enough for someone like me. You might have some problems."

"I'm sure you're right," Clark responded, continuing to play up to the man's ego. "So… what about size? Would it be possible to create a remote small enough to fit in… I don't know…" Clark struggled, as if trying to think of an example. "A bullet?"

"I've never heard of one that small. But then if it was needed to control an android it wouldn't have to be particularly small, would it?"

"I suppose not," said Clark, trying to pretend that idea hadn't occurred to him.

"Well, is that all you wanted."

"Yes, sir. Thank you for your time," said Clark. At least he had his answer. Cole hadn't looked at all shocked at the reference to a bullet. Nor did he seem the least bit defensive about this line of questioning. Maybe he wasn't the one who had framed Lois.

Clark was just about to stand up when Cole's voice stopped him.

"You're new to the Daily Planet, aren't you?"

"Yes, sir. Just a couple of weeks now."

"Lane's replacement?"

"I suppose." At least, that was the way Lois saw him.

Cole smiled. "Well, Kent, it's too bad about your predecessor — although one could argue that cocky little reporter should rot in a hellhole prison for the rest of her miserable, worthless life. But that's just some peoples' opinion. Of course, Sykes was a buffoon. His death wasn't exactly a tragedy. Still…" He grinned.

"But I guess you benefited pretty well from Lois Lane's conviction for his murder," Cole continued. "Funny how those things work out. Hope you enjoy the new job. And you're welcome."

"I'm welcome?"

"For the information on remotes," Cole clarified.

"Of course." Clark was lost in thought as Cole stood up and regarded him with a look that Clark couldn't quite name before turning to leave the room.

"Memo to self…" Cole said under his breath, but loud enough for Clark to hear. "…Lane's replacement is an idiot."


Lois pulled the car off to the side of the road and looked around, checking to be sure the place wasn't being watched. On the other hand, she wasn't sure why it would be. This was probably not on the police's top ten list of places to look for Lois Lane. But she was determined to figure out for herself if Winslow Schott was really grateful for her interference in his plot against the children of Metropolis. She could only do that by talking to him personally. And by not informing him that she was coming first, it wasn't as if he would have time to call the cops.

She got out of the car, still not quite believing what she was seeing. She pushed open the door to the business, causing a small bell over the door to jingle.

"Can I help you?" asked an older, African-American woman.

"Miss Duffy?"

"It's Mrs. Schott now. Do I… Lois Lane?"

Lois nodded.

"Oh, it's so good to see you."

Before Lois could react she was lost in a huge bear hug.

"Winslow will be so pleased."

"So…" Lois said, escaping the woman's grasp. "…how did this all come about?"

"You mean the toy store? Well, when Winslow was in jail, he finally realized that the reason he was so devastated when the children didn't like his toys was because of how much he loves children. So when he got out of jail, we came up with enough money to put a down payment on this place."

Lois nodded. Well, that explained the large withdrawal from Schott's account about a year before.

"Of course, Winslow claims that he's just in it for the business, but… Well, come with me."

Lois followed as Margaret Schott led her through the store until Lois was standing in the entrance way to what could only be described as a rumpus-room. Mats covered the floor and toys were scattered everywhere. But most astonishing was that there were at least a dozen children playing in the room.

"Winslow says that it's important for the children to have a chance to play with the toys before purchasing them. But… well, parents often come by and drop their children off for the afternoon."

"And you don't stop them?"

"Well, I might be tempted but.." She pointed to a group of children who were piled on the floor. "…Winslow loves it."

Before Lois could ask what Margaret meant, there was a loud growl and suddenly, much like the phoenix rising out of the sea, Winslow Schott rose up from the pile of children, sending them flying to the mats, roaring with laughter.


Clark was diverted from his trip back to the cabin by a store on the side of the road. He opened the door and stepped inside, not entirely sure what he would find. Lucky Leon's.

"Are you looking for anything in particular?" asked a salesclerk.

"No," Clark replied.

"That's fine. Just let me know if I can be of assistance."

Clark nodded before directing his mind to the store itself, wandering through aisles, looking at various items. Desk friend. Shower friend. Kitchen friend. Garage friend. Living room friend. Clark wasn't sure he'd ever seen so many friends. But the oddest part was the number of bowls of fresh fruit sitting everywhere. Wandering into another part of the store, he spotted a golf set up. Along one wall was what appeared to be a golf green and at the end of the green was a net. Picking up a golf club, he examined it carefully. There were sensors in the club itself.

"Try it."

Clark looked around at the sound of the accented voice to see a bear-like man standing watching him. Without responding, Clark stepped up to the ball and after lining up, took a swing.

"Sliced to the right," said a prerecorded voice. "Next time don't swing your shoulders so much."

"Ya nenavizhu etu glueuyu igru," Lucky Leon murmured.

"If you hate this game, why do you make it?"

"You speak Russian?"


"Uhh… It is so good to hear the mother tongue. But you are an American, nyet?"

"I am."

"America is a great country." He walked over to a bowl of fruit sitting nearby. "Would you like a banana?" When Clark shook his head, Leon picked one up. "Would you believe that I was twenty five years old before I tasted my first banana. Now I'm an addict. I love the U.S. So… How many of my golf friends would you like?"

"I don't think golf is really my game."

"Well, I have soccer friend or baseball friend."

"Sorry. But… Well, my nephew is celebrating a birthday soon. And he has a thing about remote control devices. What's the smallest remote controlled receiver device you have?"

"Personally, I hate remote controls. If you're not there, why do you need a remote? But… I have something to make your nephew very happy. My phone friend."

When Clark looked skeptical, Lucky Leon led him across the store to where a hideous looking contraption sat. On it was a phone and what appeared to be some sort of computer pad. Clark looked up at Lucky Leon.

"Now let's say you get a call." Lucky Leon picked up the phone to demonstrate. "It's an important call. You're given a message and you look around, but you can't find a pen. Well…" He wrote with his finger on a pad and, on a table nearby a pen began to move from where it was sitting in a special holder on a pad of paper.

Clark made his way over. "Is the remote in the holder or the pen?" asked Clark.

"The transmitter is in the pad here. The receiver is in the pen. As I said, it's the smallest remote receiver we have."

Clark picked up the pen and quickly examined it over his glasses. There was a very small remote receiver device inside. And although he figured it made more sense just to keep a pen and pad of paper next to his phone… "How much?"

"Yours for only fifty-nine ninety-nine. And I'll throw in a bath friend absolutely free."


Lois sat in the car, doors unlocked, in downtown Metropolis. In spite of having her hair pulled up, wearing a baseball cap and a pair of sunglasses, she felt… exposed. She checked the mirrors one more time, relaxing slightly when she didn't see anything only to jump when Bobby suddenly sat up in the back seat.

"Are you trying to kill me?" Lois demanded.

"I thought the state was already planning to do that," said Bobby, reaching over the seat to pull a piece of pizza out of the box sitting next to Lois. "Hey, what happened to the cheese?"

"It didn't come with cheese," Lois said, knowing she sounded guilty.

"Well… I guess I can live without it this once. After all, you're on the lam. I doubt you've got a lot of money. So whatcha want?"

"I think there is a connection between my conviction, the murder of Theodore Cooke and the ferry incident. Can you tell me anything?"

"Well, I don't know about your conviction. But I do know that for the past year there has been a rather intent search taking place for someone who worked on the docks. After Cooke's death, the search stopped."

"Any idea who was doing the searching?"

Bobby shook his head.

"Well, any idea why they might have been searching for Cooke?"

"From what I heard, this person had… overheard a private conversation which had taken place on the docks. And they were paying blackmail money to keep him quiet. Talk was that the reason they were so anxious to find him was because they couldn't proceed with the next stage of the operation until he was neutralized."

"The ferry explosion," Lois murmured.

"Ya think?"

"Just an idea. Great, Bobby. Thanks. If you hear anything else, do you have access to an email account?"

"Of course. You can get great prices on buying food in mass quantities on the net. My favorite is Meats R Us dot com. So what's your email address?" Once she'd given it to him, he reached over the seat to grab the pizza box before stopping. "Actually… why don't you keep that? Who knows when you'll have enough money to eat again."

"It's not…" But before she could finish, Bobby had disappeared.

Shaking her head, she started the car and pulled onto the street. She'd obtained what she needed. Now… she wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.

She was half way back to the cabin, in a rather deserted area of the city, when she glanced in her rearview mirror and spotted her worst nightmare. A black SUV.


"Lois?" Clark pushed open the door to the cabin and dropped his purchase from Lucky Leon on the floor inside before making his way quickly through the small space. "Lois?" he asked again, turning around, even though he knew she wasn't there. All her stuff was there. The transcripts from her trial were there. Her laptop was still sitting on the kitchen table. But… no Lois.

What had happened?

Why wasn't she there?

Had the police found her?

Had the men in the black SUV found her?

Each question left him feeling increasingly anxious. He rushed outside. "Lois!" he yelled, spinning around in the open space in front of the cabin. He floated off the ground to get a better view and tried spinning again, looking for her.

The car wasn't there. Did that mean she'd gone somewhere? Or did that mean that after they'd captured Lois, they had towed the car?

"Lois!" he yelled again.

Still, there was no answer. He forced himself to calm down, closing his eyes and, while still floating about ten feet above the ground, concentrated on what he could hear. A squirrel was chattering away in the trees. The wind was whipping at the leaves. There was the gentle swoosh of the water as it hit the dock. But no Lois. No soft human breathing. No tell-tale 'thump thump' of her heart.

Suddenly, he was struck by a thought. He turned towards the docks. A rowboat was pulled up on the shore. Otherwise, no boat. But… had there been any other boats when he'd been there the previous day? He wasn't entirely sure. What if she'd taken a boat out and had an accident? She could be somewhere in the lake, fighting for her life.

Taking off, he headed over the water, skimming just above the waves as he examined every inch. With all the small coves, it took him some time before he was satisfied that whatever had happened didn't involve Lois being in the water.

Suddenly, he heard something. Zipping back to the cabin, he landed just in time to see a Daily Planet car coming down the gravel road and behind the wheel of that car…

Clark let out a breath of relief.



"Do you mind telling me where you've been?"

Lois looked at him as she got out of the car and closed the door. "And good morning to you, too," she said sarcastically, carrying the pizza box toward the cabin.

"I've been going out of my mind. How can I protect you if you go wandering off every five minutes?"

"I don't recall asking for your protection!"

Clark ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "I just meant…"

"Clark, the last I checked, you weren't my father or my husband or even my boyfriend." As she spoke, she stormed towards the cabin. "So I don't see what business it is of yours if I…"

"I thought I was your partner."

"That doesn't give you the right to lecture me."

"But we had decided that you were going to stay here, see what you could dig up, while I stopped by the prison."

"I finished early. And… are you telling me that you wouldn't take the time to do something else if you thought…" She caught something on his face. "You did, didn't you? You did something else before coming here that you didn't discuss with me first."

"Well, yes, but…"

"And do you hear me lecturing you about it? No! Of course not! We're partners. And I trust you. So why can't you trust me?"

"This isn't about trust."

"Then what's it about, Clark?" she asked, slamming the pizza on the table and spinning towards him.


His unexpected response brought her thoughts to an abrupt halt.

"When I came back and you weren't here…"

Her anger melted at the look on his face. He'd been scared for her. This wasn't about controlling her movements. This was really about fear. "I'm fine, Clark. I did a little leg work on the story. It was no big deal." She didn't bother to mention her moment of fear when she'd seen a black SUV following her. It had turned off after a couple blocks. But, still, there had been that moment… But Clark didn't need to know about that. "Look, I've only got a limited amount of time before the police find me. I need to do everything I can to find out who set me up before that happens. And if that means taking some risks, I've got to do that. Besides, Clark, I've been a reporter for a long time. I'm not too bad at taking care of myself."

"I didn't mean to imply…"

"So what did you find out?" Lois said, changing the subject. "Do you think that either Cole or Johnson are behind all this?"

"Well, it's not Johnson."

"How do you know?"

"Apparently prison life didn't agree with him. He was killed about six months ago."

"Oh god," breathed Lois. "I mean, he was a bit of a wimp — probably became everyone's favorite whipping boy." She shook her head slowly. "He really never had a chance, Clark. Not from the second he was born. His mother wanted her sons to grow up and become criminals. And now she's lost both — Bad Brain and Herkimer."

"Well, Cole doesn't seem to be having any problem adjusting to prison life."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know what he was like before going to prison, but…"

"Arrogant, cocky, haughty, superior, overbearing, insolent…"

"Okay, okay. I get the picture. Well then, he hasn't changed a bit."

"So… what did you think?"

"At first, I was ready to write him off. I asked him about small remote controls — the size that could fit in… say a bullet…"


"He didn't even blink funny. But then, just as I was about to leave, he said a few things that got me wondering."

"Such as."

"Well, first, when he realized I was your… replacement, he started talking about your conviction. He didn't seem too unhappy about it."

"A lot of people aren't unhappy about it, Clark."

"No. But then he said something that makes me think he knew Elroy Sykes."


"He commented that Sykes was a buffoon and that his death was no big loss."

"And how would he know that if he didn't know Sykes?" she asked, completing his thought. "Still…" she continued thoughtfully. "…I guess he just could have heard gossip around the prison. Anything else."

"Yes. He made a comment about me benefitting from your conviction — because I'm the one who got your job."


"Then he said, 'You're welcome.'"

"'You're welcome?'"

Clark nodded. "When I asked what he was talking about, he said for taking the time to answer my questions about remote controls."

"But you didn't believe him?"

"It was in the timing. One minute, he was telling me how I had lucked-out because of your conviction. The next he's saying 'you're welcome.' So, no, I didn't believe him."

Lois nodded slowly. "Okay, so he's still on the list. Now you indicated earlier that you'd done something else this morning."

"Oh, right. Lucky Leon. On my way back, I walked past Lucky Leon's retail store. So… I went inside. Met the man himself." As he spoke, Clark walked over to where his purchases were on the floor next to the door and picked them up. Coming over to the table, he placed them on it.

"What's this?"

"I made a purchase." Clark moved the box containing the phone friend to the side. "He threw in the bath friend for free. Would you like it?"

"Not on your life," said Lois. "In fact…" She walked over, holding open the door.


"Get it out of here, Clark."


"When I was investigating Lucky Leon the last time, he gave me one of those. Turns out it had a remote controlled camera in it. If I had actually put it up in my shower…" She didn't complete her thought. "Get it out of here."

Clark's eyebrows shot into his hairline. "Oh," he said, understanding sinking in. Without going to the door, he tossed the bath friend through it, bouncing it off a rock to land in the lake.

Lois watched in awe through the door as the box slowly became waterlogged and sank below the surface. "Nice toss."

"Thanks. Anyway, the reason I bought this is because…" He opened the package, removed a pen and handed it to Lois.

"If you wanted a pen, I have a number of them here."

"No." Taking the pen back, he dismantled it until he was holding a small device in his hand.

"What's that?"

"The smallest remote receiver Lucky Leon makes." He placed the remote in Lois' hand.

"Is it small enough to be placed in a bullet?"

"Uhh…" Clark pulled one final item from his jacket. A small box of bullets. "The gun that killed Sykes was a 9mm semiautomatic. So I picked up a box of bullets."

Lois moved closer, holding the remote against the bullet to see if she thought it would fit.

"Here," said Clark, taking the bullet.

Lois' eyebrows rose when he easily removed the lead from the bullet, emptied the powder and handed her the empty shell casing. She took the casing and was able, maneuvering it carefully, to fit the remote into the casing. "It's tight. But… I suppose it could work. So then, Lucky Leon is definitely still on the list. Did you do any snooping when you were at the store?"

"I told you…"

"No. I mean, did you sneak into his office and go through his files — anything like that."

"Of course not. That would be a breach of his privacy."

"Pfff. Okay, well we need to make a trip back there, look around a little more."

"Lois, I don't think…"

"Do you want to know what I found out?"

"I…" He let out a breath at her obvious intention to change the subject. "Okay, what did you find out?"

"Well, first, I went to see Winslow Schott."


"Don't look at me like that! I haven't lost my mind."

"But what if he had turned you in?"

"I figured even if he wanted to turn me in, I could be out of there before he had a chance. Do you want to hear my story or not?"

Clark gestured for her to continue.

"Okay, well I think we can safely cross Winslow Schott off our list."

"What makes you so sure?"

"He really wasn't in revenge mode. In fact, I think he's found his niche in life." Lois proceeded to fill Clark in on what she'd seen at the Schott Toy Store. Afterwards, Clark was forced to concede that Schott was not likely involved. "And then I met with Bobby Bigmouth. Don't say it, Clark. It's getting redundant."

"I didn't say a thing."


"So what did you learn from… Is his name really Bigmouth?"

Lois shrugged. "I've never heard him called anything else. Anyway, he told me that word on the street is that for the past year someone has been looking for a person who overheard a conversation on the docks."

Clark was nodding thoughtfully when Lois finished filling him in. "So then we have to find out who was making two thousand dollar a month payments."

"I already looked into that. I couldn't find any such payments in the financial records of any of our suspects. Well, except for Kyle Griffin… Jimmy couldn't find his financial records."

"Then chances are that our list of suspects is incomplete. Did you look at everyone's accounts?"

"I didn't look at Dr. Klein's."


"Forget it, Clark. Dr. Klein didn't do this. He was on the ferry, after all. Why would he blow up the boat when he was on it?"

"Maybe the explosion got away from him. Maybe he set it off too early. Maybe he wasn't even on the ferry. I don't know. But, Lois, I think you're letting your personal feelings get in the way here."

"There's more chance that Lex rose from the dead again than that Bernard did this. After all, Lex rose from the dead once before. And you said it yourself, the men chasing us talked about 'the boss'."

Clark let out a breath, running his hand through his hair in frustration. "Lois…"

"Look, Clark, you aren't going to convince me that Dr. Klein is involved."

"So… where do we go from here?"

"We get creative."


"I don't know about this, Lois," Clark said, looking around the dark alley.

"Would you just be quiet?" Lois responded as she proceeded to work the locks on the back door to Lucky Leon's warehouse. "This is supposed to be a stealth mission. Are you trying to get us caught? By the way, you did take out the security cameras using your vision gizmo, didn't you?"

"Yes. I told you I would and I did. I just think that maybe we shouldn't be…"

"Relax, Clark. What are they going to do to me if they do catch me? Send me to jail? And if… There." A satisfying click echoed in the abandoned alley as the lock gave way to her efforts. Turning the knob, she started to open the door.

Suddenly, Clark pulled her back just as a small dart whirled past her head.

"What was that?" Lois exclaimed.

"Some sort of dart." Clark carefully stuck his hand through the doorway, waving it, and… caught a second dart.

"Some sort of security system," Lois decided. "It's a lot like the way he killed people back when I was investigating his story. What are you doing?" she asked, watching Clark smell the dart.

"It's got something on it. Poison, maybe?"

"I'll lay two to one odds on it being synthetic curare."

"How do you know?"

"Call it a hunch. So… can you disable that thing?"

"Uhh… yeah. Sure." He looked around the door, catching a third dart just before he zapped the security device inside. "All clear."

"You're sure?"

Clark nodded.

"So… Are you coming?" Lois asked, stepping into the warehouse. "You don't have to, you know. If you're afraid of getting caught, feel free to wait in the car. I can do this alone?" Without waiting for his response, she snuck through the door.

The large storage room was lit only in the most minimal of ways, leaving the entire space not much more than a collection of shadows. As Lois entered, each step sounded loud in the quiet room. Once inside, she turned to see that Clark was following, closing the door carefully behind him.

"What now?"

"Now… We look for an office. Offices have files. Files contain records. Get the picture?"

Clark let out a breath, but otherwise didn't respond as Lois led him between the piles of boxes towards a door on the far side of the room. Opening the door, she quietly swore.

"A closet," she informed him, turning in an effort to determine where to go next.

"Just a second," said Clark, lowering his glasses down his nose. "This way."

"What did you do?" Lois asked as she followed while Clark led them in a new direction.

"Just used a bit of x-ray vision to figure out where the office is. Figured it could save us some time."

"You could come in handy," Lois confessed. "I'll take two."

Clark glanced over his shoulder at her, but she wasn't looking at him. She was looking past him at the door they were heading towards. When they reached it, she stepped by him to enter. Inside was an office. Large file cabinets were pushed up against every wall.

"This is going to take some time," Lois said, doing a slow circle, trying to figure out where to start.

"Maybe I can help with that, too."

"What…" Lois began when he took her by the shoulders and pushed her back out of the way before becoming a blur.

"Well, financial records are over there. This section is devoted to his inventions. And… I found… what might be something."

Lois stood looking at him in complete disbelief.

"Do you want to look at it or not?" he asked, holding the file out to her.

"Are you telling me that you read all these files?"

"Well, no."

"Oh, good. You had me…"

"I just skimmed them — trying to figure out where we should look."


"Do you want to take a look at this or don't you?"

Lois moved, somewhat cautiously, closer. "What's this?" she asked, taking the folder.

"It seems to be Lucky Leon's file on remote controlled devices."

Lois moved over to a desk, laying the file out as she began flipping through it. "Did you find anything to indicate that he made a remote device to fire a bullet without pulling the trigger?"

Clark shook his head, even as he looked at the file over Lois' shoulder.

"But I wouldn't have really expected it," he continued. "I mean, he's not likely to keep evidence that he was involved in Syke's death — or in framing you."

"You'd be surprised by the incriminating information people keep." She finished looking through the file before turning to look around the room. "There."


Without explaining herself, she moved to the far side of the room, feeling around a bookcase covering one of the walls. Suddenly, the bookcase gave way, swinging open to reveal a secret room.

"How did you know…?"

"I've been doing this a long time, Clark. I might not have x-ray vision, but I'm not easily fooled either."

"I noticed," said Clark, following her into the room. "Still…"

"Okay, if you must know… Shortly before my trial, I was investigating a story about a woman named Myrtle Beach. She was known as 'The Wedding Destroyer.' Her psychiatrist, Dr. Voyle Grumman, had a set up just like this one. Turned out he'd been manipulating her, using her grief over being jilted to see how far he could push her into ruining other people's weddings."

"Boy, what is it about Metropolis and psychiatrists? First, Maxwell Deter seduces you when you're his patient and now this. Are there any trustworthy psychiatrists in this city?"

"My sister used a Dr. Friskin, and she was okay — not that I would trust a psychiatrist again, of course. But…" Her voice trailed off as she became engrossed in her search of the secret room.

An hour of searching turned up quite a bit. Details of Vasili Sawchenko's deal with the government. Names of contacts in the Russian Mafia. Details of weapon programs he'd initiated while he'd still been working for the KGB. If Lois hadn't been distracted by the need to find out if he was responsible for her conviction, she'd have found a thousand other stories there. But as it was, there was no evidence that directly linked Lucky Leon to any of the incidents that they were investigating — Cooke's death, the ferry disaster or her conviction.

"So…" asked Clark, "…what do you think? Are there any more felonies we can commit tonight?"


"Okay, when I asked if there were any more felonies we could commit tonight, I wasn't exactly serious."

"Would you relax?" Lois said in exasperation as she continued to work on the lock to Joey Bermuda's place. "You said no one was home."

"Just because no one is home doesn't mean we should be breaking in. Breaking into someone's workplace is one thing. But this is someone's home."

"There!" She rose, pushing open the door.

Shaking his head, Clark followed her into the house. A quick search turned up a work space in the basement. Tables covered with various pieces of metal and plastic. Plans and paper all over the place.

Lois made her way over to what appeared to be a large, albeit unusual, gun set up on a stand. Beside it, on a work bench was a remote control. Picking it up, she pressed a button on the remote and then jumped when the gun fired at a target on the other side of the room, sending a laser out to burn a hole in the large piece of plywood.

"Whoa!" said Clark.

"Well, that proves the 'using a remote to fire a dangerous weapon' theory."

"Yeah, it does," said Clark, moving his glasses down his nose to examine the weapon. "Although this is a laser gun. No bullets. So…" He took a look around the room again, glancing through the various file cabinets until… "Lois, come take a look at this." He headed towards a particular cabinet, opened it and withdrew a red file folder.

Lois joined him. The folder was marked with two initials. M.D. Underneath the initials was a postal box. And inside, the thing that had obviously caught Clark's attention. A photograph of her. And… She quickly flipped through the other photos inside. Theodore Cooke. Dr. Bernard Klein. And Inspector Bill Henderson. All the photos appeared to have been taken without the subject's knowledge — as if they were surveillance photos.

"Clark, what…" Lois' question trailed off when there was a sound on the floor above them. Someone was home.

Clark looked around quickly. Lois followed his gaze. There were no windows. No back exits. Without busting them through the walls, there was only one exit — the stairs and the door, on the other side of which was Joey Bermuda.


"Come on," Lois whispered, grabbing his arm and pulling him with her behind the wooden target used for the laser gun. The only problems were the number of small holes burned into the wood and the fact that if Joey should decide to fire the gun again, one of them might be hit.

They had just vanished behind it when the door at the top of the stairs opened and Joey Bermuda, the Handyman, began to descend. Clark used his x-ray vision to watch through the board as Joey made his way to the desk and took a seat before picking up the phone. As he dialed the number, Clark looked back at Lois who was again looking through the red file. He shook his head. They were trapped, waiting to be discovered and she was taking time to look through the file. He was even more stunned when she removed a small camera from her pocket and took a picture of one page in the file.

The camera clicked and flashed, causing Clark to flinch.

"Lois," he hissed, quickly glancing through the board to see if Joey had noticed. He hadn't.

"Look," she responded, handing him the page she'd photographed.

And suddenly, Clark understood. It was a schematic for producing a remote controlled bullet. He turned his attention back to Joey when the man began speaking into the phone.

"It's me. I want to know where my money is."

Clark cranked up his hearing to listen to the reply.

"You didn't do the job. Why should I pay you?"

"Who's he talking to?" whispered Lois, causing Clark to jump.


Lois fell silent.

"I did the job you wanted. It's not my fault if it didn't work. I told you there was a risk in doing it that way. And, of course, you still owe me for taking care of that other problem for you," Joey responded.

"That other problem wouldn't have existed if you hadn't insisted on meeting on the docks in the first place."

"Either way, you owe me. I'm a family man. I have a family to take care of. And I'm not about to do any more work for you until you pay me for the jobs I've already done."

"Well, you can't move until Lois Lane is back in custody anyway."

Without responding, Joey slammed down the phone in frustration.

Clark continued to watch while Joey sat there for a long, breathless moment before storming up the stairs, slamming the door behind him.

Lois and Clark both let out identical breaths of relief.

"So… could you tell who was on the other end of that phone call?"

Clark looked over at Lois. "You're assuming I could hear both sides."

"Hey, you're the one who told me that you have extraordinary hearing. On the other hand, if you couldn't…"

"I heard."

"So… who was he talking to?"

"I don't know. The man never identified himself."

"Well, did he have a Russian accent?"


"I guess that rules out Lucky Leon. Anything else, his voice patterns, anything. Did the voice seem familiar?"

"It might have been. But… I don't know. But he did sound like he was educated."

"Okay. So what did he say? I could only hear one side of that conversation."

"Basically, Bermuda was demanding payment for a job. The man on the other end didn't think he'd done the job."

"I assume that means whoever Bermuda was supposed to kill isn't dead."

"I agree. But then Bermuda said he had already told him that there was a risk that the job wouldn't… go off as planned. And he reminded the man on the other end of the line that he had taken care of the Cooke problem and wanted his payment for that. So that's when the person he was talking to made a comment that if Bermuda hadn't insisted on meeting with him at the docks in the first place, there wouldn't have been a Cooke problem."

"In other words, if they hadn't been on the docks, Cooke wouldn't have heard the conversation between Bermuda and our mystery man and wouldn't have been able to blackmail them."

"That was my thought. Oh, and one more thing, obviously the job isn't finished. But the man on the other end of the line said they couldn't do more until you were back in custody."

"Okay, so we know Bermuda is involved. But…"

"Who is he working for?"

"And why?"


"Mayson Drake," Lois said slowly.

"Excuse me," Clark asked when Lois broke the silence between them as they drove back to the cabin.

"The initials on the file. M.D. I'm just trying to think of people with those initials."

"So who is Mayson Drake?"

"She's… No. It couldn't be her. I saw her die." When she realized Clark was looking confused, she continued. "Mayson Drake worked for the D.A.'s office. She was killed when she got too close to a plot by Stanley Gable. She died in my arms."

"So there's no chance it could be her? That she could have survived somehow?"

Lois shook her head. "No. Besides, she was my best friend. She'd have no reason to frame me. But… the initials." She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she tried to think of someone else with those initials. "I know! Marcus Daitch. He's the director of EPRAD."

"Didn't we already decide he wasn't involved?"

"Yes. But that was before we found a file with his initials on it."

"But… well, what motivation could he have for any of it? For example, can you think of any reason he'd want you to go to prison?"

"No," said Lois frustrated. "Still, just because I can't think of a reason doesn't mean he doesn't have one. Maybe…" She hesitated as a new idea sank in. "Maybe they wanted me in prison to keep me from investigating when they did… whatever it is they're doing."

"Maybe. But… Lois, as good as you are, there are lots of people investigating the ferry disaster. I can't believe they would feel the need to send you to prison just because they were afraid you might find something. Why not just wait and see who gets too close and then kill them? But the guys at the warehouse earlier made it clear that whoever is behind this doesn't want you dead. But don't we have enough now to… say, go to Henderson?"

"No. Clark, all we have is a phone conversation — only one side of which we could report without telling Henderson about… your unique abilities. And the schematics for a bullet that can fire on its own. There's nothing to connect it to the shooting of Sykes. And as much as I trust Henderson, he's still a cop. He'd have to turn me in."

"We've at least got to let him know that we found his picture in that file."

"You're assuming that the people whose pictures are all targets. And with myself and Cooke, I think that's a logical assumption. But… See!" she suddenly exclaimed, cutting herself off. "I told you that Dr. Klein wasn't involved. His picture was one of the pictures…" Her voice trailed off again as another idea struck her. "The ferry disaster. He was on that ferry. What if the whole thing was orchestrated to kill him."

"Are you saying that someone would kill a hundred people in an attempt to kill just one man?"

"You're the one who said that, according to our mysterious caller, he wasn't paying because Joey Bermuda hadn't done the job. And if the target was Bernard Klein, then when he lived, Joey failed."

Clark let out a slow breath. "Okay, well, maybe that's true. But right now, we have a lot more questions than answers."

"Except, I think we can safely say that Joey Bermuda is involved."


The next morning Lois and Clark dedicated themselves to learning all they could about Marcus Daitch. Clark interviewed the man while Lois dug up everything she could find about his finances and his family. By noon, when they got together, they were both frustrated. After finding the initials M.D. on the file, Daitch had become their primary suspect. But so far, nothing other than his initials connected Marcus Daitch to the ferry disaster, Cooke or Lois.

On the other hand, they still had a postal box to check out.

After pulling up in front of the appropriate postal outlet, they got out of the vehicle and went inside. When Clark walked up to the counter, he noticed that Lois hung back, pretending to check her box. It only took Clark a moment to realize why. Her picture was prominently displayed. He moved as inconspicuously as possible to block the picture. He had heard that fugitives pictures were posted at post offices, but until now, he hadn't realized it was true — except in old westerns.

"I was hoping you could help me out," Clark said to the pretty young woman behind the counter. "I need to find out who owns a postal box."

"I'm sorry, sir," the woman responded. "We can't give out that information."

In the back of his mind, Clark realized that Lois had walked outside. He assumed it was to ensure she wasn't seen.

"Surely there are exceptions," said Clark, giving the young woman his most disarming smile.

She seemed to melt a bit. "I'm sorry," she said again. "It could get me fired."

Clark nodded slowly. "Please."

"I can't."

Something subtle in her tone of voice this time told Clark that there was no point in pushing anymore. Giving a brief nod, he turned to leave, stopping only for a brief moment to x-ray Box 336. There was something inside — a box addressed to M.D. Letting out a breath of frustration, he walked out the door to where Lois was leaning against the outside wall waiting for him.

"Get anything?" she asked.

He shook his head. "For a moment I thought she was going to help me out. But no. I did find something, though."


"There is something in that postal box."

Lois' eyebrows rose. "Did you… buzz buzz… the box?"

"Buzz buzz?"

She smiled.

"Yeah. And I noticed a couple of things. First, the box itself. There was no return address. But it was obviously mailed somewhere in Metropolis from the postal mark. And the condition of the box and the stickers on it tell me that it went through the mail as opposed to simply being placed inside the box by someone with a key. Inside the box is some sort of… contraption. I haven't seen anything like it before. I have no idea what it's for." He took the notebook and pen out of Lois' hands. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching before, at superspeed, sketching the object he had seen.

"Okay, now that's just showing off," said Lois, bumping his shoulder as she took the notebook from him.

"Does it look like anything you recognize?"

Lois shook her head.

"So… how do we go about finding out?"

"I suggest we take it to Dr. Klein."

"But, Lois, if he's…"

"He's not involved. If he was, his picture would never have been in that file. He's a target, too."

"Maybe but…"

"Let's discuss it later. Right now, we need to figure out who owns that box."

"And how do you suggest we do that?"

Lois grinned. Grabbing his arm, she led him around to the back of the building. "No one will notice if you take a little hop up onto the roof from here."

"What are you…?"

"Trust me. I need to go back inside. Just keep an eye on me," said Lois, turning and heading back to the front entrance of the post office.

"But, Lois, your picture. It's up in the post office. What if someone recognizes you?"

"Don't be a worry-wart. No one ever looks at those things. Just be ready when your chance comes to see who is renting the box."

Without explaining further, she disappeared around the corner. He stared after her for a moment. He'd thought she'd left the post office to avoid being seen because of the poster. But… maybe she'd just doubted that the direct approach was going to work. So what did she have in mind? Taking a quick look around, he hopped up on the roof and took up position where he could watch easily as she walked into the post office and up to the same young woman he'd been talking to earlier.

"I'd like to pay my account for my post office box," she said.

"What's the number?"

"Box 336."

The woman pulled a book from behind the counter, opening it up to the appropriate box number. Clark suddenly realized why he was on the roof. His eyebrows went up when he saw the name on the account.

"It's already paid for the next year."

"Oh really," said Lois, sounding surprised.

"Yeah. You originally paid for a year. Then, about a month ago, you paid for another year."

"My associate must have paid it. I just wish he had told me. But… you know men."

Lois and the woman shared a knowing look before Lois turned and walked out of the post office. Clark watched in awe, almost unable to believe how easily she had adapted to using his powers. Looking around again, he hopped off the roof, heading over to where she was waiting for him by the front door, looking smug. She was smart — and fearless. And he wasn't sure he'd ever admired her more.

"So what did you…?"

He held up his hand, cutting her off when he heard someone inside.

"She was just in here!" said the woman to a colleague excitedly.

"We've got to get out of here." Clark took Lois' arm, hustling her to the car.

"What is it?"

"They recognized you."

"Then let's get out of here." Even as she spoke, she started the car, screeching the tires as she swerved into the traffic. "So… what did you find out? Who rented that box?"

"You're not going to believe this… The name of the person renting the box is… Dr. Klein."

"But the initials on the file were… M.D.!" she exclaimed. "Medical Doctor."


Lois carefully picked the skin off the fried chicken they had picked up in town. She glanced around, wondering where to put it, before deciding on Clark's plate. The act had been… a bit of a prank. But the way he simply ate it without comment left Lois with a strange — and yet familiar — feeling in her gut. There was something… almost intimate about him eating her food. She wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not.

"I can't believe Dr. Klein is involved," said Lois. "What reason would he have for framing me? Are you certain his name was on the postal box?"

Clark nodded. "I'm sorry, Lois."

She gave her head a shake, trying to put the sadness behind her but was unable to do so. She considered Bernard Klein a friend — a position she gave to very few people. And now, the sense of betrayal was staggering. If he could turn on her, why not Perry or Jimmy or even Henderson? And what about Clark? Could he be trusted?

"Are you going to be okay?" Clark asked.

"Yeah, fine," she lied. "I guess our next step is to get hold of Dr. Klein's financial records."

"I can take care of that if…"

"No, Clark. I'll do it. Besides, you need to find out anything you can about that contraption in Dr. Klein's postal box."

Clark seemed to regard her carefully before nodding.

"Well…" She rose to her feet. "…we should get these dishes cleaned up and get to work." She was carrying her dishes to the sink when she stopped and turned back towards him. "Oh, that reminds me. Well, not reminds me exactly since this has nothing to do with our investigation, per se. Actually, that's not exactly true since the ferry incident and your activities are connected, but…"


"Oh, right. Well, when I emailed Jimmy this morning, I asked him to give me the business address of Jason Trask."

"Who is he?"

Lois' eyebrows shot up as she looked over at him.


"Clark, he's the guy Myerson interviewed. The one who runs this Bureau 39 that is promising to bring The Demon to justice."

"Why did you get his address?"

"Your parents told you that after your 'spacecraft' — or whatever it was — landed, government people came around asking questions."


"After that, the spacecraft disappeared."

"What are you getting at, Lois?"

"When Myerson interviewed Trask, he made a comment that for years the government had been preparing for this."

"Are you suggesting Trask is one of those government people?"

"I'm suggesting he might be with the same organization. I say we at least check it out. Besides, I did a little digging. And I found something." She walked over to the documents covering her bed. It only took her a moment to return with a newspaper clipping.

"What's this?" Clark asked, taking the clipping and reading the headline. 'UFO Sighting Really Swamp Gas.' It was from the 1960s.

Lois came around beside him. "Take a look at the picture."

The picture accompanying the article was of several Air Force officers. Clark studied it closely.

"That's Jason Trask," Lois said, pointing to the much younger Trask in the picture.

"The Blue Book Project," Clark said reflectively. "I've heard of that. But the Air Force got out of the UFO business in the late sixties."

"So they say. But, Clark, Trask is involved in the government's investigation of the ferry incident. The fact that he was involved in The Blue Book Project… Well, I don't know about you, but Trask's involvement in both seems a little… coincidental. I don't believe in coincidences."

"What's the address?"

"Oh, no. That's not going to happen. If you're going to check it out, I'm going with you."

"But, Lois…" His voice trailed off at the look on her face.

"Oh, and I found out that this guy…" She pointed to another man in the picture. "…is General Berton Newcombe. I've also got his address."


"So you're Clark Kent and Lola Dane of the Daily Planet?"

"Yes," said Lois, stepping forward to shake Jason Trask's hand. He wasn't showing it, but she could feel Clark's nervousness. She supposed that was understandable since he was the man Trask was looking for. "We were wanting to ask you some questions for our story."

"I already gave the Planet an interview," Trask said.

Given that Trask didn't seem to be inviting them in, Lois pushed past him, taking a seat at his desk. Clark hesitated for a second before following her. As she sat down, Lois noticed that pictures from the ferry disaster were littering the desk — most of them were stills of Clark flying out of the ship. A quick glance assured Lois that they had been taken from the now familiar video — nothing that provided a clear look at the flying man.

"Yes. That would have been Myerson," said Lois when Clark, distracted by the photos, hesitated.

"Do I know you?" asked Trask, focusing his attention on Clark.

"No," Clark said a little bit too quickly.

"We came across some information in our investigation," Lois said immediately, hoping to distract Trask's attention from Clark. "And we thought… Well, maybe it's best if I just show you." She withdrew a copy of the newspaper article from the 1960s and handed it to him.

"Yes. I was part of Project Blue Book," Trask confirmed, diverting his attention from Clark. "But I'm sure you know that the Air Force got out of the UFO business in 1969."

"So we were told," Lois continued. "But given the… unusual events at the ferry, we just thought… Does the government suspect that the flying man is an alien? After all, they appointed you to head up the investigation. And given your history…" She shrugged.

"Ms. Dane, I am not in a position to comment on the work I've done for the military. I'm afraid that information is classified. Let me just assure you that every angle is being covered."

Lois noticed that Clark had now recovered and was casually looking around the office over his glasses.

"Are you the only one investigating this?" Lois continued. "Or can we assume you are just the front man for a larger force?"

"You can assume whatever you like," said Trask, rising to his feet. "But rest assured of this, the government is taking this matter very seriously. We will get to the bottom of it — and do whatever is necessary to insure the safety of the public."

"And how are you going to do that?" asked Lois, also rising from her chair.

"By whatever means are necessary. Now if you'll forgive me, I have other matters to attend to." He moved to the door, opening it for them.

Lois hesitated for a moment, looking over at Clark. He seemed to have finished his covert search of Trask's office. Giving a brief nod, she headed for the door, Clark following. She said goodbye, thanking Trask for his time, before heading out of the government building. She waited until she got outside before turning to Clark.

"What did you see?" she whispered excitedly.

"Roswell, New Mexico, 1947; White Mountain, Arizona, 1975; Gulf Breeze, Florida, 1986; Voronezh, USSR 1989 and Smallville, Kansas, 1966."

"Well, I recognize Roswell, New Mexico… But the rest…"

"They were dates and places of UFO sightings. In one of his file cabinets are files marked with each of those names and dates. And then, there is Smallville…"

"So we go back after dark and…"

"Lois, I don't want you involved in this. I'll go back tonight and do some snooping. I'll tell you what…"

"Clark, why do you do this? We both know I'm going to come. So why do you even bother trying to tell me to butt-out?"

Clark let out a frustrated breath.


After interviewing Trask, Lois and Clark went to talk to General Burton Newcombe. Retired. They were hoping, given that he was retired, he'd be more forthcoming than Trask had been.

"So what does the Daily Planet want with me?" asked Newcombe, leading Lois and Clark into a small office full of military memorabilia.

"We've been working on a story. And in the process, Project Blue Book came up. You were involved in that operation, weren't you?"

"Yes. Yes, I was," Newcombe answered cautiously.

"I understand it was cancelled in 1969."

"Officially, yes."

"What does that mean?" asked Clark.

Newcombe just looked at him, not responding. "So what exactly was it you wanted?"

"Jason Trask." Lois noted that Newcombe actually flinched. "Do I take it that you're not exactly a Trask fan? Word is that he's the one investigating the flying man from the ferry incident. We interviewed him this morning. He wants us to believe that we have nothing to worry about, that the government has things under control."

"He said that, huh."

"Why? Are you saying it doesn't?"

Newcombe hesitated. "If you are worried he won't find the flying man… don't be. I'm sure he will. But…"


Newcombe got up and went to look out the window.

"Have either of you ever had to keep a secret? A huge secret?" he asked without turning to look at him.

"Sure," Clark replied.

Lois glanced at Clark, realizing immediately that if anyone could answer that question in the affirmative, it was Clark.

"Keeping a secret eats away at you. It's just a nibble at a time, but it adds up. And one day, you wake up and realize it's consumed everything inside you." He turned back towards them. "We were just a small group when we started, but we all took special oaths on the same day. August the second, nineteen forty-seven. I was about your age." He hesitated. "But Trask… He was a fanatic. When the government tried to dismantle Project Blue Book, he went crazy. They finally gave him his own group, just to get him to shut up. For years he's been investigating every reported UFO sighting. And his methods… He follows no law but his own, no rules but his. And he has some powerful allies. He'd never have got Bureau 39 if he hadn't. I've never really known who his allies were. So if you ask whether or not I think he will find the flying man, the answer is yes."

"But…" prompted Clark.

"He won't be looking for this man to stand trial."

"Are you saying he'll kill him?"

"And anyone who stands in his way."

"So how do we stop him?" asked Lois.

"From what I hear he has offices set up in the FBI building. But that won't be his main base of operations. He'll have… somewhere else. And getting to him there… A man like Trask would no doubt be protected by an impenetrable security system."

"Every system has a flaw."

Newcombe removed a small card, about the size of a credit card, from his desk drawer. "Not this one," he responded. "I designed it myself. You'd need someone on the inside, or someone who'd been on the inside, to help you out. Now, assuming you could find such a person, you'd have to hope that person found a man like Trask so repugnant and his methods so un-American that he would choose to help you." He deliberately placed the credit-type card on the corner of his desk. "That's a tall order." He turned towards the collection of rifles in a cabinet on the wall.

"I'm going to count to three," Newcombe said. "When I turn around, I expect you to be gone. One…"

Lois and Clark got to their feet.


Lois reached out and grabbed the card off the corner of the desk.


They heard his final word just as they disappeared out of the office.


Clark looked around nervously, using every one of his enhanced senses to search for danger as Lois worked on the lock on Jason Trask's office. It was one thing breaking into a warehouse or a home owned by a civilian, but they were busting into an office in an FBI building. Were they completely insane? Already once, they'd almost been caught — trying to get past building security. Only some serious flirting by Lois had saved their butts. Clark had to admit that while he'd been impressed, he'd also found himself vaguely jealous. It was an unsettling feeling. But it was not nearly as unsettling as the fear that she would get caught.

Still, he had not been able to persuade her not to come. He'd never known anyone as stubborn as Lois Lane. It was infuriating. It was… fascinating.

"I got it," Lois whispered, pushing open the office door.

He quickly followed her inside, pulling the door closed behind them. It took less than a minute for them to find the files. Ignoring the rest, he opened the one pertaining to Smallville. The file confirmed what Lois had suspected. Not only had this government agency been snooping around Smallville shortly after Clark's arrival, looking for a ship that had crashed in the area, but they had actually…

"Lois, look at this."

She turned from where she was going through Trask's rolodex. "Whatcha find?" she asked, coming over to join him.

"They took my ship," he said, pointing to the file. He glanced around the office. "Somewhere, they have my ship. But… it's obviously not here."

"Well, I might have an idea about where it is," Lois responded, guiding him to the desk where she pulled a card out of the rolodex. "A furniture warehouse on Bessolo Boulevard."

"What makes you think that's the place?"

"A furniture warehouse? Clark, it's the only address in his rolodex that doesn't fit with what we know of Trask. Why else would he keep the address of a furniture warehouse?"

"Okay, then…"

"Don't even say it, Clark. If you're going, I'm going."

"I know," Clark conceded. "I was just going to say that it's getting awfully late. And we've had a lot of late nights recently. Personally, I'm exhausted. Why don't we do it tomorrow night?"

Lois glanced at the clock before nodding.

"Good," he said. "Now, let's get out of here without getting caught. Then you can take the car back to the cabin. I'll head to my apartment. I'll meet up with you again in the morning."


As Clark snuck through the darkened alley next to the warehouse on Bessolo Boulevard, his mind drifted. Clark was glad he hadn't told Lois that one of his powers was that he needed very little sleep. He appreciated her support and her help, but this was one job he had to do himself. If they had been caught breaking into the office at the FBI building, they'd go to jail. If they were caught at the warehouse… given what General Newcombe had told them about Trask, Clark suspected they'd be killed. Clark was not about to let Lois risk her life for him.

There was one disadvantage in not bringing Lois — or even telling her he was going. She was the one in possession of the card from General Newcombe. But he'd not dared ask her for it. She would have put two and two together fast enough to make his head spin. And she would never have accepted being relegated to the sidelines. But he simply couldn't put her in danger.

He walked around the building, casing the place. The lock on the front of the warehouse had card access. He assumed the card Lois had would open that door. But… A quick peek through the wall showed that additional security had been added since Newcombe's time. A combination lock on a second door inside. So in all likelihood, the card would have done no good. In fact, it may have simply trapped them inside.

A quick look through the walls indicated this was no normal warehouse. In addition to reinforced steel walls, there was an inner wall made of solid concrete. But none of that kept Clark from seeing what was inside. There were a variety of what could only be described as… spacecrafts. At least, that was the only conclusion Clark could reach when he looked through the tarps draped over some very unusual devices.

His heart rate increased. Maybe one of those was his. He looked around again, making sure he was alone, before leaping onto the roof of the warehouse.

There was a doorway on the roof. The door was locked. He considered his actions for a moment before deciding simply to force his way in. He gave the door a push, breaking the lock. It might not be the most subtle entrance, but chances were they didn't check this particular door on a regular basis.

Making his way down the stairs, he quickly conducted a search, coming to a complete halt when he found himself staring at a familiar symbol. On one small spacecraft, he found an S-symbol — the same one he'd seen on a blanket his mother had shown him when he'd asked for details about his origins. His ship. It had to be.

How he knew the other item was there, he wasn't entirely certain. But sitting next to the ship was a small ball that almost seemed to call to him. He was almost in awe as he picked up the small item.

"Krypton," he whispered, suddenly knowing, although he didn't know how, where he was from. He watched in fascination as the images on the ball shifted, from images of Earth's land masses to land masses unfamiliar to him.

Knowing he couldn't stand around all day, waiting for someone to find him there, he gathered up the globe and the ship and, taking a slightly different route to see if there was anything he had missed in his search, began making his way back to the stairs.

Suddenly, the room began to spin. He stumbled slightly as unbelievable pain pierced his entire body. He collapsed to his knees, the ship and the globe tumbling out of his grasp. He attempted to reach for them, but the pain was too pronounced. His head pounded. His heart felt as if it were being torn in two. Bile rose in his throat as his stomach rebelled. And then… the blackness overtook him.



Lois. He loved her voice. Even when she was mad at him, he loved listening to the sound of her voice.

"Damn it, Clark Kent! Can you hear me?"

Yep. Even when she was mad, she had a beautiful voice. But… why was she mad? Oh, right. He remembered. He'd… lied to her about something. He couldn't quite remember what. But he was certain he'd lied about something.

"Come on, Clark. Look at me. Make a noise. Something. Anything."

Okay, now she sounded scared. He wasn't sure he'd ever heard fear in her voice before. But… what was she scared of?

"Don't do this to me."

Suddenly, something penetrated the fog clouding his mind — pain coursing through every sinew of his body. He groaned.

He heard her gasp for breath, as if she hadn't been breathing previously.

"Okay, you're going to have to help me. I can't do this alone."

He forced open his eye, regretting his decision almost immediately when the bright lights of the room blinded him. Still, he attempted to bring into focus the face hovering above his. Lois. What was she doing there?

"Come on, Clark. That's it. I need you to help me get you out of here. Can you tell me what happened?"

"Pain." It was all he seemed able to get out.

"Do you know where it's from? Did someone find you here?"


She let out a breath. "Okay, we'll worry about that later." She began struggling to get him up. "Come on, Clark. That's it. You have to walk. I can't carry you."

He forced himself to his feet, relying heavily on Lois' support. She fought not to buckle under his weight. He took a couple of steps forward before he caught sight of the small ship he'd been carrying earlier. He stopped.

"The ship," he gasped out.

"I can't carry both you and the ship," said Lois in frustration. "If I get you out of here, I might be able to come back for it. But right now we need to get you out."

"The globe."

She paused. "Okay…" She moved him over to where he could lean against a wall before going back to pick up the small globe. "Okay, let's…" Her voice was cut off by the sound of someone entering the main doors.

"The roof," Clark gasped.

"Clark," she whispered, "you can barely walk. How are you going to fly?"

"No choice. The roof. Fall slowly."

In less than a moment, he was being pulled towards the stairs.


Lois panted as she half dragged his heavy form up the stairs. She only hoped he was right. After all, from the sound of the voices coming from below, they realized someone had broken in. Maybe, though, when they didn't find anyone in the main part of the warehouse, they wouldn't think to look on the roof. Because if Clark couldn't fly — which she very much doubted at the moment — and couldn't… what was it he had said? …fall slowly, they were in serious trouble. Still, with the doors on the main floor inaccessible, there hadn't been much choice. The warehouse resembled a fortress. One exit. No windows. The roof really was the only option.

When they were finally on the roof, Lois allowed Clark to rest while she propped a piece of piping against the door, placing one end against the door and the other into a crack in the roof, hoping it would make the men below hesitate should they decide to search the roof.

Having finished her task, she ran over to a wall, hoping to see a fire escape or… something… anything they could use to get down. Nothing. Turning, she hurried to the second side. Vehicles that hadn't been there earlier were parked outside. Five… No, six. She headed for a third wall, looking over just as the sound of men pounding against the stairway door reached her ears. She looked over the edge, evaluating and nearly dismissing what she was seeing. But then she heard gunshots. The pole she'd used to prevent the door from being opened wasn't going to hold much longer. 'Fall slowly.' Well, they really didn't have much other choice.

Rushing to Clark, she grabbed him, helping him struggle towards the edge. Just as she heard the door crashing open, she jumped, pulling him with her only then realizing he had no powers whatsoever. They were in a free fall. Cringing, she held her breath as she waited for impact.

"Umph." The garbage bin, full of rotting food, was not the most appealing landing place, but at least… "Clark?"

He groaned.

…they were alive.

Not pausing to savor their good fortune, she began struggling, pushing Clark over the side of the garbage bin and onto the street before jumping over herself.

"They're down there!"

Grabbing Clark, she began half running, half pulling him, towards the place where she'd parked the car.


"Lois?" Clark looked around. It took him a moment to realize where he was — tucked into bed in the cabin.

"I'm right here," Lois said, hobbling over to sit on the side of the bed.

He looked down at her foot. It was wrapped with a pressure bandage. "Are you okay?"

"You're asking me that?" she asked in disbelief.

"Well…" He pointed to her foot.

"A sprained ankle. Don't look so worried, Clark. I've had my share of sprained ankles over the years. I'll be fine. How are you?"

"I'm…" He shifted positions, attempting to sit up. Giving up, he collapsed back onto the bed. "I don't understand."


"Well… I thought you were going to go back to the cabin. What made you come to the warehouse?"

"Oh, I was on my way back to the cabin," Lois said. Clark missed the warning tone in her voice.

"So… what brought you back?"

"You couldn't look at me."

"Excuse me?"

"You're not that good a liar, Clark. When you were telling me that we'd leave the warehouse until tomorrow, you couldn't look at me. It didn't hit me until I was half way back to the cabin, but when it did hit me, I realized you were planning to search the warehouse by yourself. Dumb move, by the way. And if you ever do that to me again…" She left the threat unfinished.

"I just thought it would be better…"

"And it almost cost you your life." She was obviously mad at him.

"So how did you get in?" he asked, hoping to change the subject. "I know the card probably got you through the first door to the warehouse. But I noticed there was a combination lock inside that door. How did you…"

"August second, nineteen forty-seven. Eight right, two left, forty-seven right."


"The date all of them had taken the oath — at least according to what Newcombe told us."

"How did you know that would be the combination?"

"I didn't. But it made sense — given how much of a fanatic Newcombe seemed to think Trask was. You gave me quite a scare, you know?" She reached up, gently stroking his cheek. "When I first saw you lying on that floor…" Her voice cracked. She cleared her throat, not quite able to meet his eyes. "When I first tried to wake you up…" She paused. "I would try dragging you to the door, have to take a break, try to wake you and then pull you a little further. I was at the end of my rope when I finally woke you up." She shook her head. "Then when we got into the car, you passed out. I couldn't even wake you up enough when we got back here to help me get you inside."

"So then how…" He gestured around him.

"It took me almost an hour. And that was with more breaks than you could imagine. Clark, has anyone ever told you that you're… heavy?"

"I think I have a dense molecular structure," Clark explained. "At least I've always been a lot heavier than… I look." He gestured to himself.

"Well, anyway, it's good to see you… awake." She gently brushed the hair out of his eyes. "Do you want to tell me what happened?"

"I don't exactly know. One minute, I was carrying the ship and globe out of the warehouse. The next, I was crumpling on the floor in pain."

"So no one did that to you?"

Clark shook his head.

"Has anything like that happened before?"

Again, Clark shook his head.

"How do you feel now?"

"Sort of weak. But otherwise… the pain has stopped."

She looked worried.

"I'm sure I'll be fine, Lois," he said trying to reassure her. "So… if I recall correctly, you managed to get the globe."

"Is that what it is? I looked at it several times trying to figure out why it was so important to you." She got up and hopped over to the kitchen table, picked up the globe and hopped back.

"It told me where I'm from," he said when she handed it to him.


Clark shrugged. "I don't exactly know how it did it, but… The moment I picked it up, I just knew where I was from."

"So… Don't keep me in suspense. Where are you from?"



"I'm an alien, Lois."

She got off the bed, moving back over to the table keeping her back to him.

He sighed. She was obviously not happy with this information. He supposed he could understand that. After all, until this moment, she had been able to tell herself that she had slept with a human — even if it was one who… had some unusual abilities. Now that she knew the truth… He couldn't say he blamed her. He, too, was feeling… odd about the information. Still, it was hard watching her and realizing exactly how uncomfortable Lois felt with the thought of sleeping with an alien.

He turned his attention to the globe that was now sitting on the bed beside him. Picking it up, he turned it over in his hands. It was warm. He was just about to comment when the globe floated out of his hand and a bright light lit up the room, causing Lois to spin around just as a hologram of a man appeared in the middle of the room. On the man's chest was a symbol Clark recognized. The S-symbol.

"My name is Jor-El," the man began. "And you are Kal-El, my son. The object you hold has been attuned to you. That you now hear these words is proof that you survived the journey in space and have reached your full maturity. Now it is time for you to learn your heritage."

Jor-El's image faded to be replaced by what appeared to be more of a television screen, where Clark could watch the action. Two people worked on a small ship. One was Jor-El. The other was a woman. Although neither image spoke, Jor-El's voice could be heard.

"Time grows short and we continue to work. Hope and desperation drive us in equal measure. Lara works by my side. She is tireless and endlessly patient. Considering what is soon to come, this is my greatest consolation: that we are together."

Both the people in the lab looked around in fear, finding solace in each other's arms as a tremor shook the ground.

"The pattern of core disintegration continues to accelerate. The chain reaction has begun. As panic spreads, the population awakens, too late, to its fate. Our future is inevitable."

There was another tremor.

"At last the computers have located a suitable destination: a planet physically and biologically compatible with Krypton whose inhabitants resemble ours, and whose society is based on ethical standards which we, too, embrace in concept if not always in deed."

The image of Jor-El and his wife in the lab suddenly faded to be replaced by an image of Earth.

"The inhabitants call it simply, Earth."

The image returned to Jor-El and Lara. Clark watched as the top of the ship was raised and an infant boy wrapped in a bright blue blanket was placed inside.

"Kal-El, our child, you will be the last son of Krypton."

Jor-El sealed the spaceship door. Lara lightly touched the capsule as the infant reached for her and another tremor began.

"We give you to Earth, to a realm called America, and a place called Kansas. Remember us, but do not regret our passing. All is fate."

And suddenly, the picture changed. Instead of his parents, Clark was looking at a small ship flying through space just as a planet behind it flashed with the light of a blinding explosion. And then the light faded as the globe floated back to the bed and silence filled the small cabin.

It took Clark a moment to remember that Lois was even in the room. He glanced over at her. She had sunk into a chair at the table, looking as stunned as he felt. There were even traces of tears on her cheeks.

"Wow," she finally said softly.


Silence fell for another long moment.

"Well, I guess that answers your questions about where you came from."

"Yeah. But…"


"Well, to find out that you're from a planet called Krypton and then to realize that… what did he call me? The last son of Krypton."

Her expression softened. "It's got to be tough."

He shrugged. "Better to know… than not to know."

"Is it?"

Clark struggled with that question for a moment. "It will be," he finally responded. "But…"


"It's just… Krypton. I've heard that name somewhere before. I just can't quite place it."

"Maybe it's just familiar to you because you heard it as a baby and somewhere in the back of your mind, it stuck."

"I guess, but… I know!"


"Well, a few months ago…" His voice trailed off as he thought back.


He brought his mind back to Lois. "Sorry. I was just remembering. A few months ago, a couple came to Smallville for a few weeks. We met… even had dinner together one night. They claimed they were thinking of moving to Smallville — looking for a quieter life. Anyway, one day, just before they simply disappeared, I overheard a part of a conversation between them."

"What did you hear?"

"It went something like… 'He may be the first Lord of New Krypton, but he's not prepared. We're going to have to take care of Lord Nor on our own.'"

"You're sure you're remembering right?"

"Yeah. Their names were Sara and Ching. I remember thinking Ching was an odd name — given that he didn't look oriental. But if what I heard was true…"

"Then somewhere out there, some of your people have set up a new colony."

"I suppose, but… Why wouldn't they have introduced themselves? And what did they think I… assuming I was the one they were talking about… was not prepared for?"

"I guess that's just one of the great mysteries of the universe that will likely never be answered."

"But it's too bad. I mean, if they were Kryptonians like I am… I guess it would have been nice to know more about my history, my family."

She nodded slowly. "Well, now that the light show is over, you better get some sleep."

"What about you?" he asked. "I suppose we could always share. I promise not to try anything. Not sure if I could, anyway."

"That's okay, Clark." She picked up a blanket that he hadn't, until now, noticed on the table. Getting up, she hopped over to the only comfortable chair in the room and sat down. A single candle sat on the table beside her.

"You know, I could always take the chair," he said, struggling to rise to a seated position.

She watched, a look of amusement on her face until he finally gave up. He was just too weak to move.

"Or not," he said.

"Goodnight, Clark," she said a touch of humor in her voice even as she leaned over to blow out the candle, snuggling further into the chair and pulling the blanket over her.

"Goodnight, Lois," he responded, blowing out a similar candle sitting on the night stand beside him. And the room was suddenly left in darkness.

Clark lay in the dark, thinking about everything he had learned while at the same time listening to Lois' breathing settle into the regular pattern of sleep. Yet, try as he might, he couldn't sleep. Everything just kept going round and round in his mind. Lois' aversion to him — the fact that she didn't even want to sleep next to him attested to that. Finding out he was Kryptonian — the last son of Krypton. Questions about why his parents were unable to save themselves. The questions about Ching and Sara. Even questions about what he was going to do about Trask.

It was, in fact, a long time before he was finally able to drift off into a troubled sleep.


Birds singing.

Clark woke, unsure of where he was. And then, slowly, the events of the previous night flooded back. Cautiously, he tried moving. He groaned, feeling every one of his muscles, but with some effort was finally able to sit up on the edge of the bed.

Glancing around the cabin, he realized Lois wasn't there. He stretched out with his hearing, searching for her only to realize that things seemed quieter than normal. Something was wrong. He tried looking through the walls of the cabin, but was unable to do so. What was wrong with him?

Placing a hand on the bed, he used it to assist himself in rising to his feet. He was heading for the door when he hesitated, looking down at himself. He was in his underwear. Lois must have removed his clothes when she got him into the cabin the previous night. But where… He spotted his jeans sitting hanging across the back of one of the kitchen chairs. Once he'd pulled on his jeans, and without worrying about his shirt and socks, he made his way to the door.

Every step took effort. Muscles that he'd never really had to work rebelled against the exertion. When he got to the door, he had to steady himself before opening it and stepping into the blinding sunshine.

It took his eyes a moment to adjust. Finally, he looked around. Hearing the soft splash of water coming from down by the lake, he turned his attention there. Lois. He spotted her immediately, coming up from below the surface of the water.

He headed towards the shore, about to call to her, when she stood up, shaking the water out of her hair. His feet instantly came to a halt and the greeting died on his lips. She was bathing and, he didn't exactly need superpowers to see that she was naked. He stood, frozen to his spot. Not able to move closer and not able to look away.

She was almost at the shore when she spotted him. Their eyes met and locked and he saw her hesitate for a moment. Then a small smile quirked at one corner of her mouth and she resumed her journey towards him. When she got to shore, she picked up her towel, wrapping it around herself before walking up to where he was still standing.

"If you'll put your tongue back in your mouth, Mr. Kent, I believe we have work to do," she said, heading past him towards the cabin.


She shouldn't tease him. She knew that. But when she'd looked up to see him standing only a matter of yards in front of her, there had really only been two options: embarrassment or humor. Okay, well maybe there had been one other option. And even if she was only prepared to acknowledge it silently to herself, it was the first thing that had gone through her mind — lying down on the beach and begging him to take her.

She simply hadn't expected him to be up so soon. When she'd gone to the lake to bathe, he'd been sound asleep. To discover Clark standing there when she'd emerged from the water, looking at her much the same way he had when he'd come to the prison that first day, she'd found that embarrassment had been the furthest thing from her mind. No. Making light of the moment had been the only option.

Still… the thought of lying on the beach, the warm sun beating down on their sweat-soaked bodies as they… No! No, she was definitely not doing this. Not here. Not now. Not with him within calling distance. She'd been so good the previous night — sleeping in that uncomfortable chair even after being offered another, incredibly tempting, option. She was not about to ruin it now by letting her thoughts take her in a direction her body was only too eager to go.

As she finished dressing, she heard a tentative knock at the door.

"Come in, Clark," she responded.

He opened the door, looking inside cautiously, much like a mouse about to enter a room filled with cats. She rolled her eyes. It wasn't as if he hadn't seen it before, after all.

"I said, 'come in,'" she repeated.

He stepped inside, but seemed unable to look in her direction.

"Well, look, if it's going to make you so uncomfortable, we could even the score. You could strip for me."

His eyes darted to hers in disbelief.

"Relax, Clark. I'm kidding." Walking past him, she lightly tapped his bare chest. He almost seemed to jump out of his skin. "It's going to be a long day," she mumbled to herself, only realizing afterwards that, given his abilities, he'd probably heard her.

"What?" he asked.

She turned to look at him. "Didn't you hear what I… Clark, how are you feeling?"

"A little stiff and sore. But other than that…" He shrugged.

She narrowed her eyes. "Stiff and sore? But if you're invulnerable… Clark, after that incident in the warehouse last night… Do you still have your… powers?"

He shifted his weight, standing on one foot and then the other, confirming her suspicions.

"None of them?" she asked.

He seemed to concentrate for a long moment before shaking his head.

"So… no x-ray vision? No flying? No enhanced hearing? Nothing?"

To each new inquiry, he shook his head.

She sank down into a kitchen chair. "Has this ever happened to you before?"


"Wow," she said softly before looking back at him. He was still standing just inside the door. "Clark, would you just sit down?" she asked annoyed now. His lack of comfort had been… almost charming at first. Now it was getting downright irksome. Unless of course, while he'd been waiting outside, he'd been somewhat less successful in fighting off the images of an interlude on a deserted beach. She almost smiled. "Come on, Clark. Sit down," she repeated, much more softly this time. After all, she knew what he was fighting.

This time, he took a seat at the table, scooting the chair up a little closer to the table edge than normal. And this time, she did smile. Putting the thought out of her mind, she concentrated on the question at hand. "So I take it you still don't know what happened last night — when I found you passed out on the floor of the warehouse."

"No idea whatsoever. All I know is, for the first time since I was a child, I experienced pain. And I haven't had my powers since. Although… now, I feel… almost human, I guess." He gave her a self-depreciating smile.

"So what do you want to do? See a doctor? I could give you a ride into…"

"And what's a doctor going to do for me?" asked Clark.

"I don't know. Maybe he could…" Her voice trailed off when no ideas came.

"Exactly. No, I guess for now we just keep going on our investigation and…" He shrugged. "Besides, I've always wanted to be normal. Maybe now, maybe as a result of exposure to something in that warehouse, I am. How is that a bad thing?"

Lois forced her smile to match his. But inside… something tore at her. Normal was… normal. But Clark wasn't… normal. And it worried her.

"So… what's on for today?" Clark asked in a blatant attempt to change the subject.


Clark returned to the cabin somewhat frustrated. He'd shown the sketch of the contraption in Dr. Klein's postal box to the science editor at the Planet. He'd even followed up with a couple of scientists that the editor had recommended and had turned up nothing. He only hoped Lois was having more luck.

"Hi, Clark," Lois said without looking up from where she was engrossed in the computer screen.

"Whatcha got?"

She waved him over.

Leaning over her shoulder, he was suddenly lost in the flowery smell of her freshly washed hair. And, almost immediately, his mind slipped back to seeing her bathing this morning.

"So… what do you think?" she asked, looking up at him.


"Well, I never realized how much a director of Star Labs makes. I knew Bernard had all that family money, but… Clark, would you pay attention?"

"Sorry," Clark muttered, forcing his attention to the screen. "That would easily give him a seven figure income."

"Yeah. That's what I was saying."

"I think I went into the wrong business."

"You and me both."

"Did you find those two thousand dollar a month payments to Cooke?"

"No. But I did find this." She scrolled down the screen to see a seventy thousand dollar cash withdrawal a couple of days before the payment had been made to Joey Bermuda shortly after Elroy Syke's death.

Clark let out a breath. "Anything else?"

"Well, yeah. This can't be about money, Clark. After all, Bernard has no costly habits. No mortgage payments. No expensive trips. Basically, he just goes to work and home. He doesn't even take vacations. He has his motorcycle and a nice car — or had a nice car before the ferry disaster. But otherwise… He brings in far more money than he spends every year."

"So then, what's this all about?"

Lois shrugged her shoulders.


"Explain to me again why we're doing this in broad daylight," said Clark, glancing around nervously. They'd left the cabin and, after taking the ferry over to St. Martin's Island where Dr. Klein lived, were breaking into his house in broad daylight. The only concession Lois had made to Clark's objections was to agree to pick the back door so that not everyone passing by on the street would see them.

Still, breaking into a house in this quiet neighborhood, Clark felt so exposed. His eyes automatically sought out Lois. Speaking of 'exposed'… No! No, he was definitely not going there.

"We are doing this during the daytime because Bernard is at Star Labs during the daytime — he comes home at nights. At least most of the time. And since he lives alone… Would you quit looking at me like that?"

He jumped slightly. She wasn't even looking at him. So how did she know that he was thinking about seeing her emerge from the lake this morning?

"I haven't lost my mind," she continued. "This is the best time for us to break in."

"I don't even have my powers so I can't even know if someone has spotted us."

"Relax, Clark. I've done this lots of times. People don't get involved. There." The word was accompanied by the sound of a lock clicking open.

"Boy, that was loud — even without the benefit of superhearing," Clark said, sneaking into the house after Lois. They had done this so many times in the past few days. He was beginning to understand what Henderson meant when he said that Lois was known for going way over the line. If he was vulnerable now, in addition to having lost his powers, he was certain she was going to be the death of him.


"Okay, so where do you suggest we start this time? I really hate doing this the same way every time. Surely by now you've found different ways to make breaking and entering interesting."

"Would you quit it, Clark? We start…" Her voice trailed off as she looked around. "Did you know that I've been here before? Christmas last year. He had some people over. I was one of them."

He placed a hand on her shoulder. She allowed it for a minute but then stepped away.

"Well, let's get to it."


Lois stared in disbelief at the document in her hands. So far they had not found anything pertinent to the investigation. But she couldn't help but be slightly astounded by the only thing she'd found of any interest.

"What do you have there?" Clark asked, coming over to where she was standing.

"Nothing of any importance."

"Then why do you look so fascinated?" He looked over her shoulder. "Dr. Klein's will?"

She nodded.

"Lois, I think that's a little personal. I mean, it's not as if it's relevant to our investigation. We really have no right to be looking at it."

"Yeah, I know," she said. "I knew Bernard didn't have any children. I just… I hadn't realized how close they were. I knew Bernard had taken him under his wing while he was still in medical school and had recommended him to Perry when I had amnesia. But…" She shook her head.

"So who's the big winner?"

Lois smiled. "Just can't resist knowing, can you? I thought Bernard was entitled to his privacy."

"I guess you're a bad influence on me. So who's going to inherit Dr. Klein's estate?"

"Max Deter."

Clark cocked his head to the side. "The guy who attacked you in prison?"

Lois nodded. "He's Dr. Klein's sole heir."

"Hmm. Do you think that's important?"

Lois shook her head. "It just surprised me. So…" She froze when she heard a car door slam.

"Any suggestions?" Clark asked.

"Out the back," she responded before both of them began dashing for the back door.

"Eek!" Lois exclaimed, flinching slightly when her already sore ankle twisted.

"Are you okay?" Clark asked, reaching out to steady her.

"Yeah. Let's just…" As she spoke, she reached for the door handle, only to stop completely when the back door swung open and Dr. Klein was suddenly standing in the doorway.

"Hi," said Lois, feeling both sheepish and even a little scared. If Dr. Klein was the one responsible for the ferry accident then he had no respect for human life. And if he had framed her, he really didn't care what happened to her either.

"Hi," responded Dr. Klein.

"So… what are you doing here?" Lois asked.

Both Dr. Klein and Clark had the same reaction. Their eyebrows rose and they stared at Lois in disbelief.

On the other hand, Lois thought, there were two of them and only one of him. And even without his powers, Clark seemed like a pretty strong guy. Besides, Lois had never believed in playing it safe.

"Bernard, did you frame me for the murder of Elroy Sykes?" she asked.

Both Dr. Klein and Clark again looked at her in disbelief.

"No!" exclaimed Klein. "What would even make you think I'd do something like that?"

"Then why does Joey Bermuda know your postal box number?"

"What are you talking about?"

"We found your postal box. We know he calls you M.D. Does he even know your real name?"

"I don't have a postal box. Why would I? And I still don't understand why you think I have any contact with Joey Bermuda."

"Then you do know him," Clark said.

"Of course. He worked for Lex Labs — weapons technology — before Lex Luthor's death. After that, I heard he got involved with the wrong people and got into some… not so nice stuff. But I haven't had contact with him for… I don't know. Seven, eight years."

"Then you'd give the police permission to trace your phone records from last night?" Lois asked.


"Both here and at Star Labs?"

"I don't see why not. But I don't know what you think…"

"We think you received a call from Joey Bermuda last night," said Lois.

"I didn't. And if checking my phone records is going to convince you that I had nothing to do with…"

"You could have used a pay phone."

"But I thought you said he called me?"

"You could have had a prearranged time for the call."

Klein ran his hand through what remained of his hair. "I was at the lab all night. That's actually why I came home early today."

"How do we know that you didn't leave at some point to receive the call?"

"Security keeps records of everyone going in and out. In point of fact, they also keep records of all phone calls."

"Records can be altered. Besides, you could use someone else's I.D."

"Visitors are allowed in and out with visitor cards. But employees… well, we use retinal scans. No one but me can use my eyes. And I can't use anyone else's eyes."

Clark picked up the phone. "Call security. Have them send over the records from last night — everyone who went in and out of Star Labs last night — and every phone call made and received."

Klein let out a breath. "Fine," he finally said, taking the phone from Clark and placing a call.


"So do you believe me now?" asked Bernard Klein as Lois and Clark looked through printed copies of the security records.

"Would you excuse us a second?" asked Lois before, without waiting for an answer, pulling Clark over to a secluded corner of the room, where, if they whispered, Klein would not overhear them. "What do you think?"

"Well, since he wouldn't have known that we'd be at Joey Bermuda's last night, why would he tamper with Star Labs' records before coming home?"

"Besides," added Lois, "Joey Bermuda was the one placing the call. So that would mean if he called Star Labs he would have to go through the front desk. Bermuda didn't ask for anyone."

"Otherwise we would have heard a name."


"And I guess anyone could have rented a box in Dr. Klein's name."

"But why would they rent it in his name? Was it just… a cover of some sort? Or were they trying to frame him for framing me? It doesn't make any sense, Clark."

"So what's the verdict?" asked Klein from the other side of the room.

"We don't think you're involved," Lois said. Then she walked closer to the scientist. "But… you might be able to help us with something."

"Are you sure, Lois?" Clark whispered.

She turned back towards him. "I'm positive, Clark. I know you haven't known me long, but you've got to trust my instincts here. Bernard isn't involved."


"I'm not so sure about this," said Klein as the car pulled to a stop. "Shouldn't I, at the very least, be wearing different clothes? I mean, this leather jacket… Shouldn't I put on a suit or something? Maybe they'll think I'm just some punk trying to steal things from the post office. And how should I act? Shouldn't we rehearse this first? See how it goes in a controlled environment? Run some tests or something? Maybe I should pretend to have an accent or something?"

"Dr. Klein, your name is on the account," Clark said. "All you need to do is…"

"…go into the post office and say that you lost your key," Lois completed. "They'll ask for I.D. Show it to them and they should be able to give you access to the box."

"But shouldn't I be wearing gloves to keep my fingerprints off the box?"

"That box went through the mail. That means it's going to be covered with any number of prints. We'll never find out who sent it by looking at the prints on the box. Maybe the… whatever is in the box might have prints, but the box itself isn't going to do us any good."

Klein nodded and put his hand on the door handle. Suddenly, he pulled his hand off the handle as if it has burnt him. "I don't know about this."

"It will be okay, Bernard. We really need your help here," Lois said.

Klein took a deep breath and nodded again, gathering his courage before opening the door.

"Do you think he's going to be alright?" asked Clark as they watched the nervous man make his way across the street to the post office.

"As long as he doesn't have a heart attack or something… he'll be fine."


All three conspirators bent over the box as Clark, being very careful not to disturb any fingerprints or DNA, slit open the box and removed a funny looking contraption from inside. Somehow it looked even more odd now than when he'd looked through the box before.

"What is it?" asked Lois as Clark placed it on the table in Dr. Klein's kitchen.

"I have no…"

"It's a hologram generator," Dr. Klein said.

"What?" asked both Lois and Clark in chorus.

"A hologram generator," Klein repeated, as if he honestly thought that Lois and Clark really hadn't heard him. But he missed their ingenuous expressions, so intent was he on his study of the device. "But I didn't think he had finished it. I wonder if it really works. I mean, I must admit, the idea looked good on paper, but even I didn't think it could actually be done."

"What are you taking about, Bernard?" asked Lois.

He looked up at them, then. Blinking, as if he had almost forgotten they were there. "Oh, sorry. Well, this…" He pointed at the device. "…is a hologram generator."

"We heard what you said," Lois interrupted. "But… what is a hologram… whatever?"

"Generator," Klein finished. "Before he went to prison, Dr. Cole was working on a number of projects. This is one of them. I just didn't think he'd finished. Do you think it would be okay if I…" Before completing his thought, Dr. Klein reached over and pressed the power button.

"I don't think that's…" Lois' voice trailed off when an image sprang to life in front of their eyes. "Perry?" she asked, looking at the life-size image of her former boss.

"Are you seeing it, too?" Klein asked excitedly. And then, before they could even answer, he pressed another button. "I wonder if the voice activation works, too?"

"Sykes almost ruined her career…" The hologram in front of them was suddenly speaking some prerecorded message — in Perry White's voice. "…and she told me in no uncertain terms that one day she'd get even with him. And that's the cold, hard facts, Ma'am."

"That was the testimony Perry gave at my trial — word for word."

"Are you sure?" asked Clark.

Lois nodded. "I'll remember those words as long as I live. But… How?"

"The hologram generator has a memory device. It saves its last few images."

"Saved? By whom?"

"By whoever is operating the device. The machine, in theory…" Klein chuckled. "…well I guess in fact now, takes a prerecorded sample of a person's voice and his image so that they can recreate them to say or do whatever the person operating the device wants them to do."

"But why would anyone even make a device like that?" asked Clark.

"To see if it can be done," Klein said in confusion, the idea of needing to have a reason for an invention never having crossed his mind. To invent was simply… enough. "And…" He looked back at the device. "He obviously did it."

"He was telling the truth," said Lois, suddenly lost in thought.

"What?" asked Clark as he and Dr. Klein turned her attention back to Lois who was currently sinking blindly into a chair.

She looked up, searching both their eyes for a moment before responding. "Perry didn't testify against me."



Clark ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "Lois, I know it's a risk. But I really think it's time to bring Henderson in on this. He can…"

"Can what, Clark?"

"Use this information to help get your conviction overturned."

"And what about Cooke's death? And what about the ferry disaster? If we bring Henderson in now… I'll go back to jail — at least until my lawyer can arrange bail. And we will have tipped our hand. It will become even more difficult to get information. Even if we convince Henderson that I was framed, we still don't know what is going on here."

"How can you say that? Cole is responsible for…"

"What about Joey Bermuda?"

"Well, he was obviously helping Cole."

"If Bermuda was working for Cole, then why are there no payments from Cole to Bermuda? And what about the two thousand dollar a month payments? Besides, Clark, Bermuda couldn't have been talking to Cole last night. Cole's in prison. Bermuda couldn't just call him up and start talking to him — not without going through the jailer or something."

Clark let out a breath of frustration. "I just think…"

"Okay, let's go through what we know and see if that leads us anywhere."

They had left Dr. Klein's some time ago and were now back at the cabin. Dr. Klein had taken the hologram generator, promising that he would have it checked for prints and DNA, and that he would ensure that it was kept in security. Even Clark had to admit, Dr. Klein didn't appear to be involved — if for no other reason than that if he had been guilty, the man would have been sweating bullets when they had confronted him. Watching Klein walk into the post office had convinced Clark that Klein was as much a victim in this as Lois was.

Clark sat down at the table. Going through what they knew couldn't hurt. Then, afterwards, he would try again to convince Lois to bring Henderson in on this.

"Okay, what do we know?"

"We know that Cooke was receiving two thousand dollar a month payments. And we know that word on the street is that Cooke was receiving those payments because he had overheard a conversation that took place on the docks."

"But we can't prove that last part."

"Bobby Bigmouth's information has always been accurate in the past. But you're right. We don't know that. We also don't know what he overheard. But the ferry incident took place immediately after Cooke's death."


"And we know that… whatever the purpose was for the explosion on the ferry, the result was not… successful."

"Okay, so if we go by the pictures in Joey Bermuda's file, I think we can assume… at least until something better comes along, that Dr. Klein was the target of that attack."


"Well, if Dr. Klein isn't involved, then he's as much as a target as you. His picture in that file. His name on the post office box. I don't know how it all fits together, but you and Klein are both targets."

"And Henderson. Don't forget about Henderson's picture. It was also in that file. So… Cole!"


"Cole vowed revenge on myself, Bernard and Bill Henderson. It fits, Clark. Cole invented the hologram thingy. Cole… said 'you're welcome' to you for your job at the Planet. And he possibly even knew Sykes. Cooke was just a loose end they needed to tie up."

"But Bermuda wasn't talking to Cole last night."

The breath went out of Lois. "Okay, so we're back to square one."

Clark rose to his feet. "It's getting late. Why don't we take time to regroup? Maybe have some supper. It might allow us to look at this thing in a fresh light."


Supper was finished and Lois and Clark's conversation had drifted. Clark still didn't have his powers. So how the conversation had drifted onto its current topic, Clark wasn't entirely sure. After all, for all he knew, his powers would never return. Still, Lois wouldn't let it go.

"Okay, I understand why you don't want to tell the world about Clark Kent. But you know as well as I do that something like that ferry incident is going to happen in the future. And you know as well as I do that you won't be able to stop yourself from helping then, any more than you could stop yourself from helping out at the car accident or the ferry incident. So…"

"What are you suggesting? You know I can't go public. So just drop it."

"No — you can't go public. Not now. Not until we reveal what really happened at the ferry. But then…"

"Not even then. I couldn't live like that. People thinking I'm some… aberration."

"You could use a disguise. No one would need to know it was you beneath the disguise. It could be…" She gestured vaguely, as if silently trying different looks out on him. "…flashy."

"Flashy? Lois, by now you must know me well enough to know that I would never…"

"Exactly!" she exclaimed in triumph. "No one would ever think of Clark Kent if they were looking at some flashy, over-the-top costume. That's why it would be perfect."

Clark got up from the table, making his way to the window to look out at the perfectly still lake outside. She didn't understand. She just didn't.

"It's the perfect solution, Clark. I don't know why you can't see that," said Lois, rising from the table and coming to stand behind him. "You could change into the disguise and… Presto! Instant superhero. And then, after you're done, return to Clark Kent. People could call for you when they were in trouble… Which reminds me, how good is your hearing? Could you hear a call of help?"

"Yes. But…"

"But nothing, Clark. It's the only realistic option — well, other than hiding your head in the sand and hoping that no one will ever catch you pulling some super stunt ever again. And this way, you could avoid misinterpretations. You could tell people yourself what you've done."

"You just want the story," said Clark, turning towards her. He knew that wasn't fair. He could see by the look in her eyes that she felt as if he had just slapped her across the face.

But the hurt didn't remain long. Almost immediately, her eyes flashed with anger. "Fine then! Just keep running away from who you are. What do I care anyway?"

"But it won't work, Lois. Don't you see that? If this… superhero as you call him were to suddenly appear on the scene, people wouldn't call for him, wouldn't want his help. They would be terrified by what he can do. They would be…" He turned back towards the window. "…repulsed by him. They wouldn't want him touching them, administering C.P.R. on them or flying them off to a hospital."

"What are you talking about, Clark? No one is going to be repulsed."

"No?" He turned towards her again. "You are."


Before she could get her question out, he'd stormed the few short feet between them, pulled her into his arms and lowered his lips to hers, waiting for the moment it would sink in what he was doing and she would, as always, pull away — repulsed at being touched, at being kissed, by the alien.


Whatever point Clark had been trying to make was completely lost on Lois the instant his lips were on hers. For a moment, she didn't respond — having been taken completely by surprised. And then, her mind went blank as she felt the soft pressure of his lips. Her heart skittered and heat filled her belly.

When Clark broke the kiss, as if suddenly realizing that he was trying to make a point, she flashed back to their first kiss, where he'd pulled away, claiming she wasn't his type. Determined not to repeat that moment, she grabbed onto the front of his shirt, keeping him where he was even as she brought his mouth back to hers. She heard a low growl escape from the back of his throat as he pulled her closer.

For a few minutes, Lois was content with simply exploring his mouth and lips, feeling his strong arms holding her body close. One leisurely kiss was followed by another. His taste. His feel. His increasingly heavy breathing.

What happened next, Lois wasn't entirely certain. But it was as if, without warning, something snapped in both of them. Suddenly, hands were searching blindly, snaking under clothing, seeking out skin. Garments became a hindrance, an unacceptable barrier between them. And almost before she realized what was happening, they were tumbling together onto the bed.

It flashed through her mind that she shouldn't be letting this happen, that she should stop this now, because… His mouth found a particularly sensitive spot on her neck. She moaned, a deep, guttural sound that she barely recognized as coming from her. …because… His hand slid down her body, causing her skin to feel as if it were on fire. …because… She tangled her hands in his hair, pulling his mouth back to hers, rolling them over on the bed as all reasons for stopping fled her mind. And she assailed him with a need, a desire she would never have believed herself capable.


Clark couldn't quite believe what was happening. He'd thought he repulsed her and yet, her hands were currently sliding over his body as if she were trying to touch everywhere at once. He groaned when her lips found his once again. Her fingernails digging into his vulnerable shoulders didn't hurt. It felt… incredible.

Suddenly, she pulled back, panting hard. "No, no, no, no," she gasped out, sitting back, running her hands through disheveled hair.

"Lois, what…"

"I can't. I'm sorry, Clark. I just can't."

And suddenly she was gone, throwing on his shirt as she practically ran out the door.

Clark lay in stunned silence on the bed, still trying to come to terms with what had just happened. He'd thought she was right there with him — wanting him as desperately as he wanted her. And then, without warning, she was gone.

He closed his eyes, trying to get his heavy breathing under control as he struggled with the sudden drop of temperature in the room. Skin which had been burning previously, now was possessed of an unexpected chill. He shivered.

Where had she gone? Was he supposed to follow or did she want to be left alone? He might be able to order dinner in three hundred and forty-seven languages, but he had to admit, sometimes he had serious problems understanding Lois Lane. Maybe he should just wait — give her time — before going after her. Maybe she'd come back in on her own and tell him what had made her run.


God, she'd almost done it again. How could she possibly have been so stupid?

Making her way over to the dock, she sank down onto it, dragging her feet through the water.

What was it about Clark Kent that made him so incredibly irresistible to her? She'd always prided herself on her control. And yet this was the second time she'd jumped into bed with him to satisfy her own needs. Okay, maybe she'd gotten control just in time. But still… How could she have led him on like that?

She felt the full weight of her own guilt settle upon her. Hadn't she just decided a couple of days ago that this couldn't happen again? The first time… maybe that had been understandable. She'd been lost, scared and more than a little relieved that she'd been able to come to terms with what had happened with Sykes. But this time… she knew how Clark felt about her. He believed he was in love with her. And yes, things were starting to look pretty good in terms of getting her conviction overturned. The diagram for a bullet that fired by itself. The hologram generator, still bearing the image of Perry testifying against her. Yes. She was really beginning to believe that this all might be over soon.

But then what? She and Clark had been thrown together — by her need to overturn her conviction and by his need to clear his name. She had no doubt that he believed himself in love with her. But Lois knew only too well that high stress situations like this produced some pretty intense feelings. And that was what was happening here. When this was all over, she had no doubt that she and Clark would realize that in reality, they had nothing in common. Oh, sure, they were both journalists. But other than that… How could a sweet, mild country boy — albeit, a country boy with a slightly unusual heritage — and a tough, cynical city girl have anything in common?

His feelings for her would die within a matter of weeks. And if she let herself develop feelings for him… No. No she couldn't risk her heart that way again. Besides, what did Clark need with someone with as much baggage as she? Just because she seemed to have no will power at all when Clark was in close proximity was no basis for a relationship. No. When this was all over, Clark would undoubtedly come to realize that she was a mistake.

This was lust — combined, perhaps, with a little desperation — not love. Not for either of them. The emotions he was able to invoke in her by kissing her, holding her, hell… just saying her name were nothing more than… pheromones released in high stress situations. Animal magnetism. No more than that.

Come to think of it, though, she wasn't entirely sure how they had ended up kissing. They'd been in the middle of an argument or something. But… why had he suddenly kissed her? She shook her head. It didn't particularly matter why he'd kissed her. What mattered was that it couldn't happen again.

Besides, there was a further complication. If everything worked out, she would undoubtedly go back to work at the Daily Planet — assuming Perry wanted her back, of course — where she and Clark would be colleagues. She'd done 'sexual relations with a colleague' before — Claude. And that hadn't exactly ended in the best way possible. Rumors. Humiliation. Heartbreak. No. Not exactly the ideal ending.

Claude had been her first. And a great beginning that had been. A star struck twenty year-old, swooning over a much more experienced reporter in his early thirties. She'd thought it was true love. Visions of riding into the sunset to live happily ever after had swum happily through her mind. She'd doodled hearts on her notepads and practiced writing her new name — Lois Benoit. Stupid, childish dreams.

Oh, she'd had boyfriends before. High school. College. As an exchange student in Ireland. But she'd never let things get too carried away with them. They were nice — and she liked them. But they'd never… really done it for her. They were boys. Claude had been a man. Oh, well, there was Paul, of course. Her great unrequited love. But Linda King had slipped in before anything had really had a chance to develop.

After Claude, she'd become hardened, cynical even. In part, that was why, although she'd been engaged to Lex Luthor, she'd said she wanted to wait until they got married. Although, if she were really honest with herself, Lex had never really been… irresistible to her. Even when she'd been under the influence of a pheromone compound that a perfumer named Miranda had invented, Lois had barely even acknowledged Lex when he'd come to see her. In fact, she'd not been particularly attracted to anyone during that time. Actually, that wasn't exactly true. She had hit on a plumber her landlord had hired to do some work. Fortunately, due to the fact that he wasn't under the pheromone's influence and was still pining over a recently deceased girlfriend, nothing had come of it.

She wondered why her lack of interest in sleeping with Lex, even then, hadn't raised a red flag with her at the time. In many ways, she still wondered if she'd even loved Lex. Had she just been swept away in the illusion romance? The most eligible bachelor in the world wanted her. It had been a whirlwind courtship — ending with a romantic proposal, high in the air in his private jet while on their way to Italy for supper. She hadn't even thought about her response.

Of course, the end of that relationship had, in some ways, been even more humiliating than her ending with Claude. She might have been the one who finally exposed Lex. Still, she could still hardly believe how close she'd come to marrying the biggest mobster on the eastern seaboard — and having the rest of the world privy to her stupidity. She'd been hounded by reporters from other papers for weeks. At times, she'd wondered if she would ever get her privacy back.

After that, she'd pretty much quit dating. Not that she hadn't had men wanting to take her out. The most persistent of these had been Dan Scardino. She wasn't sure she'd known there were quite so many creative ways for a man to ask a woman out — or exactly how many times she could say no. Dan had been cute and charming and she'd definitely been intrigued. But Lois simply hadn't been interested in dating anyone. Until… They had been working together to uncover a plot by Bill Church Jr. to use a drug called 'Nirvana.' It was designed to make the people taking it susceptible to suggestion. The investigation had become… a little intense. In the adrenaline rush that followed, they'd ended up in bed together.

Afterwards, they'd tried dating. It was one of the worst experiences of Lois' life. She'd discovered quickly enough that she and Dan had nothing in common — other than that they both seemed to be adrenaline junkies. Still, unwilling to admit that she'd made another mistake, she'd forged ahead — in the end, making both of them completely miserable.

She could still remember the day, after they had broken up, when their paths had crossed once again. Lois had been investigating a story into a couple of very strange deaths. First, a bus driver had suddenly had a flash back to his days during the Vietnam war and had crashed the bus before dying of a heart attack. Then a C.I.A. operative had discharged his weapon on a public street before dying of a heart attack. Witnesses claimed that he seemed half crazed, railing about things only he could see. The D.E.A. had sent Scardino to investigate — fearing there was some new drug on the street. It had ended up that a man named Baron Sunday was using voodoo.

After they'd broken the case open, she and Scardino had ended up back at Lois' apartment, tumbling through the door as they struggled to remove clothing. All the old feelings had flooded through Lois. Suddenly, it had occurred to Lois what was happening. Adrenaline. Hormones. The excitement.

"God… Is the adrenaline what makes our relationship work?"

Only when the words had left her mouth did Lois realize the truth contained in them. By the look on Dan's face, it was obvious he realized it, too. Only when they were caught up in the excitement of the chase did they have anything in common. Dan had left soon afterwards and Lois had never seen him again.

Her final foray into relationships had been Max. Although that one wasn't entirely her fault. She'd been lost and scared, with no idea who she was. And he had been there. So understanding. So caring. Only afterwards did she realize that, slowly but surely, he had been chipping away at her support system, alienating her from her friends and family so that he could have her all to himself. If it hadn't been for Herkemer Johnson's Vibro Whammy she might have actually quit her job at the Daily Planet and run away to France with him like he wanted. She still wasn't entirely certain why he'd done it. He claimed he'd done it out of love. But what type of love was that?

And now… there was Clark. The physical draw to him might be unparalleled in her experience, but that was all there was to it. Pheromones. Animal magnetism. Lust. It was nothing more than that. The problem was that he didn't know that. He truly believed he was in love with her. But that was why it was so important that she not allow things to play through to their logical ending. She had to break this off now — before she got in too deep. She pulled in a jagged breath concentrating on the small waves her toe was making as she dragged it through the still lake water.

Lois knew he had come outside without even looking up. She nibbled on her lower lip. Every second he took to approach seemed to take a lifetime. What should she say to him? He obviously knew something was wrong. That meant she couldn't put this off any longer. He would be tempted not to believe her. He believed his emotions were real. The only option was to keep this light.

"I'm sorry, Lois," he said softly, his voice trembling slightly.

"Sorry?" she asked, looking up at him in confusion. Why was he apologizing to her?

"I thought… I thought you wanted… I guess I got carried away. I swear, I never would have kissed you if I had realized…" His voice trailed off. He was staring at his shoes. "I should probably just leave. But I wanted you to know how sorry…"

"Clark, what are you talking about?"

"The way I pressured you into…" He made a gesture with his hands.

Her eyebrows shot up. He thought he had pressured her? Was he insane? "Clark, sit down." She patted the spot next to her.

He looked slightly disconcerted. Still, after a moment, he sat next to her — being excessively careful to keep a respectful distance.

"You didn't pressure me into anything," she said.


"If anything, I pressured you."

"But… I don't understand."

She looked back at the small waves in the otherwise still water, gathering her strength before looking back at him, determined to keep her tone light. "In case you haven't noticed, I don't seem to have a lot of willpower when it comes to you." She hesitated, nibbling again on her lower lip as she considered her next words.

"Then what…?" He gestured to her sitting outside in the dark.

She forced herself to look at him, keeping any indication of distress off her face. "Look, farmboy, situations like these produce some pretty intense feelings. But… they're not real. All this 'jaws of death' stuff has cranked up our adrenaline levels. These emotions you're feeling are nothing more than… stress-induced lust." She patted him affectionately on the chest. "Believe me I ought to know — I've been here before." She broke eye contact, looking back at the water — although in the corner of her eye, she could tell that her words had hit him hard. "Clark, I'm sorry. I mean, obviously you're…" She gestured towards him. "What woman could resist you? And what happened in there…" She shrugged, trying to give the impression that it had meant nothing to her.

"But if you don't even like me…"

"I like you. I just… I just don't see this leading anywhere. Obviously, I'm in lust with you. But more than that… It's just not going to happen. And… I'm sorry. I never should have led you on like that. It's just one of those things that happens sometimes."

After a long moment of silence, she chanced a quick glance at the man seated next to her.

"I'm sorry, Clark." She looked back at the water. "You have no idea how sorry." In spite of her best efforts, she felt tears well up in her eyes. She refused to look at him again, even when he got up and slowly headed away — not wanting him to know how much this was hurting her. She didn't know why this was so difficult. These emotions weren't real. So why did she feel as if she was ripping out her own heart?


Clark steered the Daily Planet car through the darkened streets, lost in thought. He wasn't entirely sure what had transpired at the cabin. He'd kissed her to prove that she was repulsed by him — the alien. And then… at first she'd been all over him, leaving him with the distinct impression that she wasn't sickened by his touch. But then she'd pulled back saying no repeatedly.

Naturally, his first thought had been that it had finally sunk in what she was about to do with the alien and her feelings of disgust had registered. Then he'd kicked himself for pressuring her into something that made her so obviously uncomfortable. Yet when he'd apologized… she'd seemed truly confused.

She'd gone on to make it clear that she didn't want anything more to happen between them. A fling — that was the way she had described their night together. 'I've been here before.' 'It's just one of those things that happens sometimes.' And the tone of her voice when she'd said them… Lightly, as if their night together had done nothing more than… put another notch on Lois Lane's invisible garter belt.

He put his foot on the gas, dashing around a slower car in a show of temper unusual for Clark. 'I've been here before.' 'It's just one of those things that happens sometimes.' Their night together had meant nothing to her. One of those things that happens sometimes. Been here before. A one night stand. And, by the sounds of it, nothing new to her. Probably a regular occurrence. The most important and special night of his life to date and to her… a one night stand. A roll in the hay. A quick, meaningless coupling with no lasting consequences.

He quickly loosened his grip on the steering wheel when it began to groan under his ever-tightening grip. The Daily Planet wouldn't be exactly pleased, and he wasn't sure how he would explain it, if he returned the car at the end of all this with finger-shaped indentations in the steering wheel.

Maybe she was repulsed by him. Maybe not. But did it really matter? Her decision to leave him during the night in the motel room hadn't been a mistake, hadn't been the result of panic or a need to protect him, it had been because the encounter meant nothing to her.

He pulled onto the street his apartment was located on and slowed immediately when he realized the place was still under surveillance. Being careful not to attract attention, he drove past, parking where they wouldn't notice the car so that he could take it without being followed in the morning and walked back to his apartment, determined that this time he would put this obviously unrealistic attraction for Lois Lane behind him. She had used him. It was as simple as that. And any fantasy he'd held of them riding off together into the sunset was just that — a fantasy. 'I've been here before.' 'Just one of those things that happens sometimes.'


Lois leaned back in her chair and rubbed tired eyes. After Clark had left to go back to his apartment, she hadn't been able to sleep. She'd made a decent try of it, of course. But after lying in the dark, the events of the past few hours running round and round in her mind, she'd finally conceded defeat, got up and begun working again.

She'd started by opening a word processing program and typing in everything they knew or suspected. Cooke had been killed because he overheard a conversation on the docks and was blackmailing… someone — suspected. What they did know for sure was that Cooke was receiving two thousand dollar a month payments in cash. They also knew that none of their suspects so far had corresponding withdrawals from their bank accounts.

They also knew that two thugs, working for someone else, had found them when they'd been meeting with Dr. Klein. According to Clark, the person who had hired them wanted her alive. But they had been shooting at Clark. Did that mean they wanted her alive and Clark dead? What exactly had their intentions been if Clark hadn't flown them out of there? That, of course, raised other questions. Who had hired them? They had called him 'the boss'. Was that important? And how had they found her and Clark?

Joey Bermuda. He was obviously involved. The file they had found, marked M.D., seemed pretty clear evidence of his involvement. But in that file, in addition to the plans for a bullet that fired by remote, there had been four photos. Cooke — who was dead already. She — who was supposed to be in prison. Klein — who had almost been killed in the ferry disaster. Henderson — who had not had any attempt on his life, at least to Lois' knowledge.

Should they notify Klein and Henderson that they might be in danger? No. From Joey's phone call with… whomever, it seemed clear that everything was on hold until she was back in prison. That gave them some time.

Jefferson Cole also appeared to be involved. That made sense. After all, he had grudges against her, Klein and Henderson — the people he blamed for his incarceration. According to Dr. Klein, Cole had created the hologram generator that had an image of Perry testifying against her. And he knew Elroy Sykes — or did he?

She sent an email to Jimmy — asking him to look for any possible connection between Sykes and Cole.

But Jefferson Cole wasn't the man behind this operation. He wasn't the person Joey Bermuda had been speaking to on the phone a couple of nights ago. And there was no evidence of the two thousand dollar a month payments in his accounts.

She leaned back in her chair. So who was behind it? Someone who wanted her in prison. Someone who wanted Dr. Klein dead. And someone who had plans for Henderson… plans they had no idea about. She sat up. That was it. Who would want her in prison and want Dr. Klein dead? Why not just kill them both? Who would benefit… Her mind came to an abrupt halt. No. That was crazy. But… then again, it made sense in a sick sort of way.

Quickly, she shot off a second email to Jimmy and then looked up when she heard a car approaching. She checked her watch. It was almost eight a.m. Clark. Getting up and stretching her cramped muscles, she headed towards the door. She was just about to open it when…


She jumped back when police officers wearing flack jackets suddenly swarmed the cabin. Before she could react, she found herself being thrown on the bed on her stomach. Pain shot through her shoulders when they slapped handcuffs on and began roughly pulling her to her feet.

She was still in a fog when she first spotted Clark running towards the cabin. By the look on his face, she knew he was about to do something stupid.

"No!" she yelled, directing the comment at Clark.

"Just get in the car," said one of the officers, pushing her down and putting a hand out to make sure she didn't hit her head on the car.

Still, she knew Clark understood what she was telling him when he stopped, watching silently, ignoring the officers who were suddenly questioning him so that he could maintain eye contact with her. She had no idea if he could hear her or not when she quietly said, "I'll be fine, Clark. Just follow up on my emails to Jimmy this morning."

Clark nodded. She wasn't entirely sure if that meant… "Are your… you know.. back?"

"Are my what back?" asked the officer in the front seat.

Damn. Too loud. Still, she kept her eyes on Clark. He looked slightly confused. She wasn't entirely sure if that meant he hadn't heard her or if it meant… something else — especially when she noticed the Daily Planet car. Clark had obviously driven back to the cabin instead of electing to fly. Maybe his powers weren't back yet — assuming, of course, they ever did come back. She found herself hoping that they did. They just seemed… so Clark. She suspected he'd be lost without them.

As the car pulled away from the cabin, she directed her mind to what she needed to do. Perry had no idea she was using his cabin. She had no idea why Clark had turned up there. Maybe he'd been trying to track her down, too. As for how she broke out of prison… well, as far as she knew the fifth amendment was still good law.


Clark leaned back in his chair, feeling frustrated, as the officer continued asking questions. Clark might not be a lawyer, but fortunately, he'd remembered just in time that he had the right to remain silent. And so that was just what he had done. Still, that hadn't stopped them from bringing him to the station and continuing to question him.

"You know, Kent. You seem like a decent guy. You just got suckered by a pretty face. And, hey, we all know what Lane's like. She could get any guy to do just about anything." The older man leaned on the desk, towering over Clark. "You'd be better off fessing up now. Lane will give you up in a heartbeat. And if we learn about your involvement in her escape from her, you won't have any bargaining power. No woman's worth that. Especially not Lois Lane."

Clark fought back his desire to argue. That was what the officer wanted.

"Come on, Kent. She used you. Don't go to jail because of her."

Clark sighed. His only call had not been to a lawyer. He'd only had two concerns at the time — whether Lois was safe and whether Henderson and Klein were safe. But as a result, he'd called Henderson. Now he was beginning to wish he'd called a lawyer. Maybe they would be able to get him out of there so that he could find out for himself that Lois was safe.

The officer sat down on the far side of the table. "Look maybe you aren't aware of Lois Lane's history. She got engaged to Lex Luthor because she wanted to get the inside scoop on him. She uses men, Kent. You're no one special to her. If they offer her a deal, she'll sell you out in a heartbeat."

Clark could hardly believe he was in this position. He was keeping his mouth shut because he knew he was guilty. Never before in his life had he done anything like this. Helping a convicted murderer escape from prison. Helping her hide from the law. He believed in the law. So how had he managed to get himself in this situation? The officer was right about one thing — he'd done it for Lois. He'd also done it because, as much as this might go against his upbringing, it had been the right thing to do. What Lois chose to do now was up to her. For his part, he wasn't about to say anything that might contradict her.

Besides, if she planned to betray him, there was nothing he could do to stop her. After all, he was certain she could make quite a deal if she wanted to. She could give them The Demon, after all. He didn't think she'd do that. But if she decided to… she might even be able to walk out of the prison free and clear with information like that.

"Talk!" The officer slammed his hand on the table causing Clark to jump in surprise.

Suddenly, the door to the interrogation room opened and a woman Clark didn't know walked in.

"Don't say another word, Mr. Kent," she said to Clark before turning her attention to the officer. "I'm Angela Winters — Mr. Kent's lawyer. Are you charging Mr. Kent with something?"

"Not yet, but…"

"Then, Mr. Kent…" She gestured for Clark to join her. "…and I will be going now."

Clark was stunned when the officer simply let the two of them exit the room. It suddenly occurred to him that maybe he could have done that himself at any time. But…

"I didn't call a lawyer," said Clark, keeping his voice low enough that only the woman walking beside him could hear.

"Inspector Henderson called Perry White who called me," said Angela.

"Ms. Winters… Are you the lawyer who represented Lois?"

"I am. I'm on my way over to see her next. And on that note, I will say this…" She stopped, turning to look at him before continuing. "If they do lay charges against you for assisting in a prison break or with harboring a fugitive, you will have to get other counsel. I would recommend a woman named Constance Hunter. But I have a potential conflict of interest."

"That's fine. But… you're on your way to see her?"

Angela nodded. "But first…"

She led him towards an office in another part of the station. When Clark walked in, he spotted Bill Henderson. He glanced back at Angela.

"He said when you called him that you wanted to talk to him about something. I trust it's not about these charges."

"It isn't, Ms. Winters," Clark responded. "Thank you."

He waited until Angela Winters walked away before turning back towards Henderson's office.


Henderson leaned back in his chair and observed Clark for a long moment. "So you think that now that Lois Lane is back in custody, Dr. Klein and I are in danger." His tone conveyed his scepticism.

Clark let out a breath. "Yes."

"I'm going to need something more than just…" Henderson paused. "Okay, can you at least tell me why you think there's a danger to Dr. Klein and me?"

"We… I have reason to believe…" Clark let out a breath of frustration, wondering how Lois did it. Did he confess to breaking into Joey Bermuda's place? But how could he convince Henderson that there was a very real threat to both him and Dr. Klein if he couldn't tell him about the file and the phone call? Taking a deep breath, he decided that Henderson and Klein's lives were more important than worrying about whether or not he was arrested for breaking and entering. He just had to remember to leave Lois' name out of it — at least for now. "I happened to see a file at Joey Bermuda's place," he began.

"The Handyman? How did you happen to be at his place?"

"It's not important. Anyway, it was a file with a heading consisting of two initials — M.D. Under the initials was a post office box. Inside the file were four photos and a schematic of a remote control device that would cause a bullet to fire without the assistance of a gun. The photos were of… Lois, Theodore Cooke, Dr. Klein and you. Now, we know that Theodore Cooke was killed and that Lois was convicted of murder…"

Henderson was now leaning forward in his chair.

"As for Dr. Klein… we think he might have been the target for the attack on the ferry. So that would leave you. Now, when we… I was there, I also overheard a phone call. The indication was that the rest of the… plan, whatever that was, was on hold until Lois was back in custody."

"And… Did anyone else see this file — hear this phone call?"

Clark gave Henderson a look of warning.

"Okay, dumb question. But… I don't get the connection. Or are you saying that Lois Lane is in danger, too?"

"I think she is — but not from this guy. This guy just wants her in prison. In fact, given that there was a schematic for a bullet to fire by itself, I think this guy framed her for Syke's murder."

"You're talking about The Handyman."

"No. We… I think the Handyman was just the front man. I think someone else is pulling the strings."

"Okay, then I'll have Dr. Klein taken into protective custody immediately — while we sort this out. And then I want to follow up on this postal box."

"Oh, right," said Clark, shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

"What?" asked Henderson.

"There is more I need to tell you."

And with that, Clark brought Henderson up to speed on what he and Lois had found so far. The hologram generator. The rumors on the street about Cooke blackmailing someone. The extra deposits in Cooke's account for about a year before his death.

By the time he finished, Henderson looked slightly stunned.

"Lois Lane's been having a bad influence on you," Henderson finally said.

"Excuse me?"

"Well, tell me, how exactly did you manage to find all this evidence?" He waited until Clark shifted under his gaze before continuing. "Exactly!"

"Bill, I don't know what you're…"

Clark's voice trailed off when Henderson held up his hand.

"Don't lie to the police. You have the right to remain silent, but lying to the police… That's a different matter entirely. So… don't say anything." He rose from behind his desk. "Okay, so I'll get Dr. Klein into protective custody. And I'll get this… hologram generator?"

Clark nodded.

"And then we'll take it from there. Do you have any idea who is behind all of this or what their motive is?"

Clark shook his head. "Dr. Klein says that Jefferson Cole was working on a hologram generator before he went to prison. But I'm fairly confident that the phone conversation Joey Bermuda was having the other day was not with Cole. And since Cole is in prison… I don't know how it all connects — except that it seems to be by someone who has a grudge against you and Dr. Klein and Lois."

"Well, Cole certainly fits that description, but… you're sure the conversation wasn't with Cole?"

Clark nodded.

"Okay, well I'll let you know what I dig up. And in the meantime, I expect you to do the same."


Clark had to admit, he felt much better as he headed back to the Daily Planet. Henderson knew, he was certain, that the investigation was being done with Lois. But he had deliberately chosen… not to dig too deeply. Clark had to admit, it was a relief to have the police in on this.

He wondered briefly if Lois would approve. Still, there hadn't been much choice. With Lois back in custody, both Dr. Klein and Inspector Henderson were in danger. No. There had been no choice but to bring Henderson in on things.

His mind drifted back to Lois' comments in the car as the police had been taking her away. 'Follow up on my emails to Jimmy this morning.' He'd heard her well enough. Still, when he'd been running towards the police, he hadn't had any extra speed or strength. If he had, he'd have been hard pressed not to just grab her and fly her out of there. As it was, only her command to stop had kept him from getting into a fight with the police.

Lois. She was back in custody. He had to admit, he was worried about that — especially since he didn't seem to have all his powers. What would he do if she got in trouble? How would he be able to help her?

He was just about to step through the doors to the Daily Planet when he was distracted by the squeal of tires on pavement. He turned, looking back at the street to see a black SUV speeding past when… Two loud sounds were accompanied by two sharp pains to his chest.

"They're shooting!"

He heard someone yell as the world began to swirl around him and then everything went black.


Lois was back at Metropolis Women's Prison after a grueling interrogation. Not that she'd said anything. In fact, she'd distracted herself by watching various police officers' diverse styles. In the back of her mind, she even made notes on different techniques she might be able to employ in the future when interrogating… interviewing a suspect. It had been quite an educational experience.

On the other hand, she was relieved when Angela had arrived — informing the police that they could charge her with the escape if they wanted to but that Lois wouldn't be answering any more questions at this time. Not that she'd answered any in the first place.

Their questions made it obvious that they suspected Clark had been helping her. But it was equally obvious that they didn't have sufficient information to charge him. She was grateful for that.

After her interrogation, she'd been brought back to the prison. But she didn't seem to be heading in the direction of her own cell. She'd tried asking where she was being taken, but to no avail. That was one of the most frustrating parts of being in prison — guards didn't feel the need to explain themselves.

Her forehead crinkled as she was led past the infirmary. She wasn't sick or injured so what… Her thought trailed off when the guard accompanying her stopped and knocked on a door.

"Come in."

Her entire body tensed when she recognized the voice. Her suspicions were confirmed when the door swung open.

"Maxwell," she said, stepping cautiously into the office. She felt a small sense of satisfaction when she realized his left eye was black and blue.

When he gestured her to a chair, she went hesitantly — not that she had much choice. Still, she stood behind the chair instead of taking a seat in it.

"Are you sure you want to be left alone with her — given what she did to you last time?"

"I'll be fine. Thank you."

Lois opened her mouth, about to ask that the woman stay. But then she closed her mouth again. The guard wouldn't stay because Lois wanted her to.

"Why don't you sit down, Lois?" asked Deter, leaning back in his own chair.

"I'll stand if you don't mind."

Deter shrugged. "Suit yourself."

They seemed to regard each other for a moment, as if they were two wild animals, circling each other, looking for the other's weakness so that they could pounce.

"You shouldn't have done it, Lois," said Max finally. "Breaking out of prison… tsk, tsk, tsk. Not your best idea."

Lois shrugged. "Caution has never been my best quality. Why change now?"

Deter's eyebrows rose. "Well, this time it got Clark Kent killed."

For a moment, Lois just stood there, staring blankly at Maxwell and then, as what he said began to sink in, she grasped onto the chair to keep herself standing as the room began to spin around her. How she made her way around the chair to sink down into it, she wasn't entirely certain.

He was wrong, of course. He had to be wrong. Clark wasn't dead. There had to be some mistake. He was invulnerable — or was he?


"I've never seen anything like it. The bullet wounds almost seem to have closed up on their own."

"A new type of bullet, perhaps?"

"Maybe. Something very hot that cauterizes the wound as it goes through."

"Does he need surgery?"

"The bullets seem to have gone all the way through him. But we're sending him for tests now in order to determine what type of damage the bullets might have done on the way through."

Clark slowly regained consciousness to see two doctors leaning over him, although they were not looking at his face — they were looking at his chest. "What…?"

"Hey, welcome back to the land of the living," said one of the doctors, his face breaking out in a smile as his eyes met Clark's. "We didn't know if you'd make it. You were shot in the chest. We don't know the extent of the damage yet, but don't worry, we're going to take good care of you."

"Where am I?" asked Clark, struggling to raise himself to a seated position.

"Metropolis General Hospital. Hey, don't try to move. You've lost a lot of blood and we don't know yet what damage the bullets may have caused."

"I feel fine," said Clark, swinging his feet over the side of the bed.

"Hey, what are you doing? You're not strong enough to… stand." The last word was said as Clark rose to his feet, proving the doctor wrong.

"Who do I see about getting out of here?" Clark asked, gingerly touching the wounds on his chest.

"I don't…" The doctor's voice trailed off as Clark started to pull on his trousers. "At least give us a chance to put a dressing on that."

Clark looked down at his chest. It probably wasn't necessary. And given that his powers seemed to be returning, he figured he needed to get out of there as quickly as possible — before the doctors were even more baffled. Still, a bandage would give him something to show people at the Daily Planet who knew he'd been shot. The only thing he didn't want was… he didn't want them cleaning up all the dried blood. Because if they did that, they might realize exactly how quickly the wounds were healing. Right now, the blood hid the extent of the healing.

"I'm fine," said Clark, grabbing his blood soaked shirt and putting it on.


"Clark… son, what are you doing here?" asked Perry when Clark walked into the newsroom of the Daily Planet. "I was just about to leave for the hospital — see if you were all right."

"I'm fine, Perry," Clark said, continuing towards his desk.

"Now hold on a minute, son," Perry said, turning and following Clark to his desk. "You don't look all right." He gestured to Clark's shirt.

Clark looked down. Damn. He'd forgotten that he was covered with his own blood. "Looks worse than it is. The bullets just skimmed me," Clark said. "Bled a lot. But otherwise… I'm fine."

Perry rocked back on his heals, regarding Clark carefully as Clark picked up the phone and punched in a series of numbers. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Lois was caught. I have reason to believe that the person who shot at me might be out to get her, too. I just want to make sure… Inspector Henderson, please," he said into the phone.

Perry moved closer, suddenly understanding Clark's urgency — why he hadn't even bothered stopping to reassure his boss. He listened in on Clark's side of the conversation when Inspector Henderson obviously came on the line.

"Inspector, it's Clark Kent. Listen, someone just tried to kill me. I'm fairly certain… No. Bill, please. I'm fine. But I have reason to believe it may be the same people who… well, I think they might be after Lois, too. I'm concerned that she might be in danger." There was a moment of silence. "You can do that? Okay, that would be great." Clark hung up the phone.

"What did Henderson say?" asked Perry.

"He has something in mind that might give Lois some protection."

"Did he tell you what his plan is?"

"He said it was best if only he knew the details. The phones could be bugged. After all, given the scientific knowledge this creep seems to have access to, bugging the phones at the police station would be child's play."

"Okay, so…" Perry glanced around as if wondering if there might be bugs there, too.

Clark's gaze followed his, wondering the same thing. It only took a moment for Clark to be satisfied that there were none, but he couldn't exactly tell Perry that. So what… "Let's talk in your office," Clark suggested.

"What makes you think my office will be any safer?"

"Because when we spoke in there the other day… well, I don't think that conversation had anything to do with Lois' capture. After all, they would have found her a lot sooner if they had your office bugged."

Perry nodded and together, Perry and Clark made their way to his office. Clark closed the door before Perry spoke.

"So what's the plan now?"

"Before Lois was caught, she told me to follow up on a couple of emails she sent to Jimmy this morning."

Nodding, Perry made his way back to the door. "Jimmy," he called into the bullpen when he spotted the young man he was looking for. "Bring any research you did for Lois this morning to the office immediately."

Closing the door again, he turned back to Clark. "Any idea what this is about?"

"No, sir… I mean Perry. But Lois seemed to think it was important."

Before they could discuss the matter further, Jimmy entered the office, carrying a number of documents. "This is everything I could find for… What happened to you, C.K.?"

Clark looked down at his shirt again. Damn. He really was going to have to get changed. "I'm fine. But… what did you find?"

"Well, first off… Elroy Sykes shared a cell with Jefferson Cole while Sykes was in prison."

"So they did know each other," Clark said. "Was that all she asked for?"

"No. She wanted some financial records." He handed the documents he was holding to Clark.

Clark was confused when he noticed the name on the records. Still, a moment later he was flipping through the files… coming to an abrupt halt when he found a record of two thousand dollar a month cash withdrawals starting about a year before and ending with the death of Theodore Cooke. He looked at Perry and Jimmy in disbelief, as if searching their faces would explain exactly what was going on. It made no sense — none whatsoever. But… the evidence was there to suggest…

"What is it, son?"

"It's… But why? Why would he do…" Suddenly, his voice trailed off as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for him just as they undoubtedly had for Lois. "I've got to go," said Clark before, without further explanation, rushing out the door and towards the elevators.

"What did you give him?" asked Perry, coming over to take a look at the papers Jimmy had shown Clark. "Whose financial records are these?"

"Dr. Maxwell Deter's," Jimmy responded, his eyes still focused on the elevators as Clark stepped inside and the door slid shut.


Lois felt a glass of water being put in her hands and automatically raised it to her lips, not entirely sure what was going on. She felt like she was drowning, trying desperately to claw her way to the surface. Clark was dead. Surely Max wouldn't make something like that up. It would be too easy to check.

"Had a bit of a crush on the country boy, did you?" Max said, settling back in his chair. "Didn't think you'd go for the smell of cow manure and the 'straw in the hair' look. Not quite up to your image."

She focused on Max's face. He looked… smug. Suddenly, the fury hit her. Without thinking through the consequences, she launched herself at the man only to find herself blocked by his desk. Still, Max jumped out of his chair, backing up.

"I'd be careful of that kind of action, if I were you," Max said although it seemed as if he was slightly shaken by her reaction. "I might have to have you sedated — for your own safety."

Lois got control of herself, settling back into her chair. He didn't know that she'd worked out his involvement in… everything. And as long as he didn't, she had an advantage. She forced down her anger. Besides, there was so much she desperately needed to know. And at the moment, Max was her only source of information.

"I'm so sorry, Lois," Max said, his voice oozing sensitivity. "But you never should have brought him into this."

"How… how did he die?"

"A drive-by shooting — just outside the Daily Planet."

Lois swallowed hard, fighting the tears that were threatening. No. Surely it couldn't be true. He was invulnerable. He'd told her so. Or at least he had been before visiting that damn warehouse.

Deter got out of his chair coming around to her side of the desk. He picked up her hand. "Let me help you, Lois. You don't have to go through this alone. I can help. Let me take care of you."

"Uhh…" She carefully removed her hand from his grasp. Now was not the time to lose her temper. The information she'd just received about Clark had her completely off balance. No matter how strong her desire was to tear this man limb from limb, she had to keep her cool until such time as she had the evidence she needed to nail him to the wall. She carefully rose to her feet. "I just need some time to digest this," she forced herself to say.

"Of course. Of course. Well, just let me call…" He picked up the phone.

Lois waited, feeling more claustrophobic by the moment. She wanted to get out of this office, away from this monster. Oh god. What if Clark really was dead? How would she survive that? No. She shouldn't believe anything Max told her. Maybe she could make a phone call to Perry. Or maybe she could find a way to contact Henderson. Would there be something on the news?

"Yes," asked the guard, coming into the room.

"Ms. Lane would like to go back to her cell," Max said.


Lois placed one foot in front of the other as images of Clark flooded her mind. Clark sitting beside her, looking so dejected on the dock last night. Clark's expression when they had met for the first time — looking as if he hadn't seen a woman in years. His look of amusement as he'd watched her anticipate eating the chocolate chip cookie he'd brought her. His embarrassed confession how later that night he'd been watching her through the prison walls. The wet lock of hair on his forehead after they'd first made love. His anxiety as he'd waited for her to pick the lock at Lucky Leon's warehouse. The look of loss she'd seen on his face after they had watched the message in the globe.

"Through here, Lane," the guard directed.

Lois looked up. "Where…"

"Move, Lane."

She stepped through the door and out into the exercise yard. But she thought she was being taken back to her cell. Normally, she wouldn't have objected to such a development, but right now all she really wanted was to be alone — or to be allowed to place a call to Perry. Besides, this wasn't her normal time in the yard. That meant she didn't know who might even be there — what enemies she might have out here that she'd not yet run into. Maybe that was the point.

She spun around when she heard the door slam behind her. She took a deep breath, turning cautiously back around. A group of women had spotted her and were slowly approaching and in the middle of them… Diana Stride. She had been one of Intergang's most successful assassins — until Lois had found a way to expose her.

"If it isn't Lois Lane — nosy reporter," said Stride, slowly circling Lois.

Lois tried to back away, but somehow while she'd been watching Stride, she'd been surrounded, leaving her and Stride alone in the middle of a group of women. Lois raised her hands, tensing her muscles as she readied herself for the attack she knew was coming.

At first, a couple of jabs were exchanges as each woman sized up the other. Then Stride attacked. Her kick was blocked by Lois and the fight was on. Kicking. Blocking. Jabbing. Blocking. Neither making any significant progress. Both women were well trained in martial arts. Then Lois tried a different tactic. Faking a punch, she struck out with her foot. The punch was blocked. But Lois landed a good kick to Stride's solar plexus causing her to double over in pain.

"Look, why don't we just say were even and…" Lois' comment ended when Diana suddenly straightened holding a shiv. Lois' eyes focused on the dangerous object as Diana lunged towards her.

Lois managed to deflect Stride's hand, but the force of Stride's body hitting hers knocked her off balance, sending her sprawling to the ground. Clark's warning about Max making her dependent on him by ensuring that she was afraid of the women around her ran through her mind as Diana Stride attacked.

Lois struck out with her foot, sending Diana Stride tumbling to the ground as well. Lois leapt on her, trying to get the homemade prison knife out of Stride's hand. Stride raised a foot, catapulting Lois over top of her before rising to her feet. Before Lois had a chance to catch her breath, Stride was on her. Lois grasped Stride's hand just as the sharp blade descended towards her throat. Lying on her back on the ground, she concentrated all her energy on keeping Stride from pushing the blade further forward. Still, the blade continued to descend, slowly but surely. She felt the sharp edge begin to cut into her throat and images of Clark flashed through her mind. At least if he was dead, she'd be joining him soon. And if not… she just prayed he'd forgive her for the things she'd said to him the previous night. That he'd remember her fondly. If she'd known that this was how it would all end, she'd have never pulled away from him. She hoped he would come to realize that.

Suddenly, Lois' arms lurched forward as Diana Stride was suddenly pulled off her. Lois quickly scrambled to her feet to see another prisoner toss Stride away from her. Lois joined her, focusing on Stride as the two of them, side by side, took up a defensive stance.

Diana hesitated for a moment before backing slowly away as the women around them began to disburse. Lois didn't lower her hands until she was absolutely certain the danger was passed and then turned towards her unexpected savior. It wasn't until then that Lois realized who had come to her aid. But how…

"Detective Reed?" Lois asked, taking in the prison clothes the other woman was wearing. "How did you…"

Detective Betty Reed raised a finger to her lips causing Lois to fall silent. She gestured to Lois before leading the two of them over to a deserted section of the yard.

"What are you doing here?" asked Lois. "I didn't even know you'd been charged with a crime."

"I haven't been. Bill Henderson sent me. I'm doing some… undercover work."

"What type of undercover work?"

"Making sure you're safe," Reed said. "Looks like I got here just in time." She looked down at her hand. "Damn. I broke a nail."

Lois smiled. "Well, if I recall correctly, they're only a dollar ninety-eight at LexSave. And, hey, your next set is on me."


Lois and Reed carefully checked outside Lois' cell to make sure the two of them were alone. Lois' single cot had been replaced with a bunk-bed. Taking a seat on the bottom cot, they kept their voices low so as not to be overheard.

"Okay, so why exactly are you here, Reed?" Lois began.

Reed let out a breath. "Bill Henderson called me this afternoon. He asked me to go undercover here to keep you safe. Apparently, there was an attempt on the life of… Kent something."

"Clark Kent?"

"Yeah, that's it. And Henderson thinks…"

"Attempted? Does that mean Clark is still alive?"

"I think so. Hey, are you okay?"

"Never better," Lois responded not bothering to open her eyes as relief flooded through her.

"Anyway," continued Reed, "Henderson thinks the attempt on Clark might be connected to you — and a possible attempt on your life. Seems he was right. So do you want to tell me exactly what I interrupted out there?"

"Just a personal grudge — not directly connected to…" She let out a breath. "Nothing. I don't know why Henderson thought my life was in danger."

Reed eyed her suspiciously for a long moment before nodding, as if accepting that whatever was going on, Lois wasn't going to fill her in until she was ready.

"So… who exactly knows who you are and why you're here?" asked Lois.

"Henderson, of course. And the warden. Otherwise… everyone else just thinks I'm a transfer in from up north."

Lois nodded, not entirely sure she could trust Reed. She could be in cahoots with Max. Still, if she were, why would she have told Lois that Clark was still alive? Wouldn't she have backed up Max's story? And, to tell the truth, even though Detective Reed and Lois had butted heads a couple of years ago when Eugene Laderman had been framed for murder, in the end, Reed had done the right thing — allowing Laderman to stop the computer virus that was threatening to cripple the world and then helping to bring down Lena and Henry Harrison, thereby clearing Eugene of the charge of murder.

Still, could she trust Reed enough to bring her in on everything Lois and Clark had discovered during the past few days? She wasn't sure. And until she was, she had no intention of spilling her guts. On the other hand, Lois had to admit, she was glad Reed had shown up when she had. And she would certainly sleep better tonight knowing that she had backup in case Max showed up in her cell.

"I'm glad you're here, Reed," said Lois.

"Just so you know, Lane, I'm taking the bottom cot."


Lois was asleep almost the instant her head hit the pillow. She was exhausted. She hadn't slept at all the previous night. And then, with the stress of the day… every muscle in her body felt as if were about to rebel. So when Detective Reed had told her that Clark was still alive, the exhaustion hit her with a force that made it almost impossible to keep her eyes open. And with Detective Reed in the bottom cot, Lois found that sleep came easy.


Clark. She gave a contented moan when he invaded her dream.


Blindly she reached out, seeking him. She bolted upright in her bed when her hand touched… something. She gasped when she saw Clark floating beside her bed.

"Clark, what…"

His finger laid across his lips caused her to fall silent. She suddenly realized that her roommate was asleep on the bottom bunk. She leaned over the edge, trying to make sure they hadn't woken her up. But she wasn't there.

"She went to talk to the prison warden," Clark explained.

Lois moved on her cot, drawing her legs up under her allowing him to sit down as well. He had just made himself comfortable when… "Clark, what… Are you okay?" Spotting the blood soaking his shirt, she panicked. Hands began to pull at his buttons, desperate to know if he was hurt. His hands came up, taking hold of her wrists and pulling them away from his shirt. She looked up into his eyes, searching them for an explanation.

"Don't, Lois," he said softly.

It suddenly struck her what he thought was happening. Given the way she'd attacked him twice now, she had to admit she understood why he was stopping her. Obviously, he couldn't take the tease anymore. Not that she blamed him. She'd been running hot and cold since they'd first met. But this…

"Clark, your shirt."

He looked down at his shirt, cringing slightly, almost as if he'd forgotten that it was covered in blood.

"Are you… are you really okay?"

He nodded. "I just forgot to change my shirt. I was too worried about you when I saw those files on Maxwell Deter."

Lois narrowed her eyes. "Clark, have you been… watching me?"

He nodded. "I was just concerned that…"

"How long?"

"For a few hours now. I was half way into the prison when… your roommate showed up."

She ran a hand over his cheek. "So you're telling me that you haven't followed up on the investigation?"

"Lois, forget the investigation. I'm here to get you out again. You can't stay…"

"Clark, I'll be fine. I've got my bodyguard — thanks to you." She gestured to the cot below hers. "And I think I might be able to find out more in here than I can out there."

"It's too…"

Her fingers on his lips cut off his words.

"Your next word better not be 'dangerous,'" she warned.

He let out a breath.

"Look, we're close to busting this whole thing wide open. You do what needs to be done out there. I'll work from in here." She let that sink in for a moment before continuing. "So what happened after I was picked up? Did the police give you any hassle?"

"Some. But your lawyer got me out. I brought Henderson up to speed with the investigation. And I told him that he and Dr. Klein are in danger now that you're back in custody. He was going to take Dr. Klein into protective custody and pick up the Hologram Generator."

"Bernard will love that," Lois said sarcastically. "So… what happened with you?"

"Two guys… It may have been the same ones that tracked us to the warehouse the other day. …in a black SUV took a couple shots at me outside the Daily Planet."

"Were you able to follow them?"

"Lois…" He gestured to his shirt. "…I was a little… unconscious at the time."

"But… you're sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine," Clark said before filling Lois in on the whole story.

She listened intently, watching carefully to be sure that he wasn't leaving out any details he thought might upset her. When she was satisfied she'd heard the whole story, she began to relax.

"So I take it your powers are back," she said, gesturing around them. It was the only thing that made sense. After all, otherwise, he'd have never been able to break into the prison.

He nodded.

She cocked her head to the side and studied him. "How do you feel about that?"

He obviously hadn't considered the question. "Well, it lets me be here — talking to you," he finally said. "So I guess… it's kinda okay."

She smiled. "I'd say it's so much better than just okay." Her hand came up to stroke his cheek.

He cleared his throat and, without making it overly obvious, retreated from her touch.

She gave an almost imperceptible nod. "Okay, well, let's get down to business. I take it you saw Max's financial records."

"Yeah. There were a lot of interesting things in there. First, it seems Dr. Deter is mortgaged to the hilt. He has all the trappings of wealth — the condo in Miami, the retreat in France — but he's living way beyond his means."

"No liquid assets."

"None. In fact, his bank account is overdrawn. He's got loans to cover his loans."

"Well, then if he is our culprit, that would explain why he hasn't paid Joey Bermuda yet. He can't afford to. Do you think… I mean, if this isn't just some creepy trip into the twilight zone and Max really is the one behind all this. …that he was planning to pay Joey Bermuda off with his inheritance from Dr. Klein?"

"That's sick."

"Everything about Deter being behind this is sick. So… what else did you find?"

"In spite of his lack of finances, there are two thousand dollar a month withdrawals that correspond to the payments to Cooke. But… I'm not sure I understand. What made you suspect him?"

"It was… a hunch. I started thinking about who stood to benefit from Bernard's death and from my imprisonment. Who stood to benefit more from Bernard's death than Max? He's the sole beneficiary named in Bernard's will."

"Okay… and your imprisonment?"

"Max has been trying to make me… reliant on him. He's been pushing himself as my only salvation. I think that's why he sent those two thugs to kill you. He sees you as a hindrance to getting me to rely on him. If he can cut me off from the outside world, he thinks he can get me to love him — or at least need him."

"But what good does that do him if you're in prison?"

"I think that's why the postal box containing the Hologram Generator was in Bernard's name." She paused for a moment. "What if Max sent the Hologram Generator to a postal box registered to Dr. Klein? Then, once Bernard was dead, and I had fallen in love with Max, he would make sure he found a way to lead the police to the generator. Bernard would get blamed for framing me. I'd be released to live happily ever after with Max."

"Wow," said Clark softly. "That's… sick."

"You said that before. But can you think of a better explanation?"

"No, but… what about Henderson? How is he involved?"

"What if killing Henderson was the price Max had to pay to get Cole to let him use the Hologram Generator?"

"I don't understand."

"Cole wanted revenge on me, Bernard and Henderson. Max had plans for me and Bernard, so he made a deal with Cole. He would add Henderson to his list of… victims if Cole let him use the hologram generator. Knowing Cole's arrogance, he'd probably been bragging to everyone about his invention. Most people probably thought it was all talk. But Max would have known the position Cole held in the scientific community prior to his incarceration. And think about it, Clark. Max would be in a perfect position to make a deal with Cole. He's the psychiatrist for both the men and women's prison. He could meet with Cole without anyone monitoring their conversation."

"So Cole provides the generator and the victim — his cell mate, Elroy Sykes…"

"Sykes and Cole were cell mates?"

"Yeah. Jimmy also found that out this morning."



"Well, I was just thinking. The large withdrawal from Bernard's account about the same time as the payment to Joey Bermuda…"

"You think Dr. Klein is involved?"

"No. I think Bernard probably loaned the money to Max — maybe Max said he was short and asked Bernard for help. Max used Klein's loan to pay Bermuda for the hit on Sykes that sent me to prison. And then, Max planned to pay Bermuda for Bernard's death when he got his hands on Bernard's estate. Bernard isn't dead, so Max hasn't been able to pay."

"That might explain why Max hired a couple of thugs to kill me — instead of having Bermuda do it. It would also explain the remark I heard about them wanting you alive — while at the same time shooting at me."

"That's how I'd add it up, but…"

"…how do we prove it."

Lois let out a slow breath. "Well, we've got to assume that Bernard and Henderson are still targets so…"


"You need to tell Henderson our theory. Maybe we can set up a trap. Having Max after both Henderson and Bernard could be a problem — since we don't know where Max will strike first. What we do know is that the phone call we overheard indicated he would continue his mission once I was back behind bars."

Clark let out a breath. "There's a risk to using either Klein or Henderson, you know. After all, what if we can't control things and one or both are killed?"

"It's a risk. But something tells me with you around, we have a decided advantage. Beside, do we have another option? Do they? I doubt they want to spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders."

"I suppose not."

"But you've got to find a why to be sure you can control where Max will strike. That means making sure Max thinks he only has one target and giving him the perfect opportunity to make his move. Also… could you do me a favor?"

"What do you need?"

"Find out from Henderson if he's sure I can trust Detective Reed and find a way to let me know."


"So how did it go with Warden Bowers?" Lois asked when Reed arrived back at the cell.

"I thought you'd be asleep," Reed responded, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear and not meeting Lois' eyes.

Lois immediately suspected Reed was hiding something. Had her meeting not been with the Warden? No. It must have been with the Warden. Clark said that was where Reed had gone. "So what happened?"

"He gave me a passkey for the prison — just in case I needed it. But don't get any ideas."

"I'm not going to run again if that's what you're worried about."

"Well, considering what Henderson told me about your case, running now would be one of your dumber moves."

"So… that took quite a while if all you were doing was getting a passkey."

"He brought me up to date with Henderson's investigation."


"And… what?"

"What aren't you telling me?"

Reed finally looked at her. "One of the reasons Henderson chose me to come into the prison to protect you was that he knows I'm sort of… involved with Warden Randall Bowers."

Lois' eyebrows shot up. "But… I thought he was married."

"Maybe. Okay, so yes. He is. What do you want me to say?"

Lois held up her hands in a gesture of surrender. She supposed there was a good side to this. Henderson obviously knew what he was doing in assigning this task to Betty Reed. After all, no other cop was likely to get the same level of cooperation from the Warden as Reed. Still… Lois didn't exactly feel comfortable with the idea that her cell mate, her protector was having an affair with a married man. On the other hand, Reed was a grown woman. Her decisions were her own.

"Yeah, well," said Reed in a more conciliatory tone of voice. "I'm not exactly comfortable with the situation either."


Maxwell Deter opened the front door and grabbed the morning edition of the Daily Planet from his front step before making his way to the kitchen and pouring himself a glass of orange juice. Taking a seat at the table, he skimmed the front page until he spotted a small article below the fold. 'Reporter Victim of Drive-by Shooting.' Taking a sip of his orange juice, he began to read.

His thugs had called, to tell him they had shot and killed Clark Kent. But Deter wanted to confirm two things. First, was Kent really dead? Second, did the police have any leads?

'Clark Kent, the Daily Planet's newest reporter, was a victim of a drive-by shooting in front of the Daily Planet yesterday. Shot twice in the chest, witnesses said he didn't stand a chance. He was covered with blood and unconscious before emergency services arrived.'

Deter continued reading. Nowhere in the article was the term 'dead' used. On the other hand, that was the clear implication. 'Didn't stand a chance.' 'Shot twice in the chest.' 'Unconscious before emergency services arrived.' Still… Getting up, Maxwell made his way to the phone, taking a moment to place calls to every hospital in the city, asking to speak to Clark Kent.

Satisfied that Clark Kent wasn't checked into any hospital, he sat back down at the table. There was only one explanation. Clark Kent was indeed dead. After all, if he was shot twice in the chest and was unconscious, it wasn't as if he was about to get up and walk out of the hospital less than twenty four hours later. The omission of the word 'dead' must be because they had been unable to confirm Kent's death before the paper went to print.

Picking up the paper, he continued reading.

'So far police are unable to give any explanation for the shooting — treating it, at the moment, as completely random. A spokesman for the Metropolis Police Department suggested that Clark Kent might have simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.'

Deter smiled.

When Kent had shown up on the scene, he'd become concerned that his entire plan was going down the drain. Lois had latched onto Kent. But now… He couldn't have planned this better if he had tried. Lois had broken out of prison — he was suspicious that it was with the help of Clark Kent — which had allowed her feelings for Kent to deepen. And now, with Clark Kent dead, she was more vulnerable then ever.

He couldn't help but kick himself for his impatience before her escape. He'd moved before Lois was receptive. But he'd panicked, afraid that he was losing her to Kent. Still, he was certain he could get past that now. After all, with Kent dead, Lois Lane was going to be more dependent on him than ever.

Finishing up his orange juice, Maxwell rose from the table. Placing the empty glass in the sink, he moved over to the counter, picking a single red rose out of the glass of water in which he had placed it. Pulling a pair of scissors out of a drawer, he cut the end off the rose and placed it in his lapel. Today he would begin the seduction of Lois Lane. He had to look his best.

Lois Lane was back where he wanted her. Clark Kent was dead. All he needed to do now was to kill Bernard Klein and everything would fall into place. He'd have Lois and all the money he could ever want. Of course, there was one additional problem — Henderson. He needed to kill Henderson to fulfill his bargain with Cole. But he had no particular reason to kill Henderson. And… he had slightly different ideas about how to deal with that situation. Cole would be… surprised. Besides, it was the only realistic option if he wanted to eventually clear Lois. Cole wouldn't be exactly… happy with that development.


Lois and Reed collected their breakfasts and sat down in the dining hall, backs to the wall. Suddenly, Lois felt a rush of wind. She looked around and realized that others had also felt the strange phenomena. But when nothing seemed to come of it, everyone went back to eating breakfast.

Picking up her coffee, she noticed a piece of purple paper on her tray that hadn't been there previously. Taking a brief look at her companion to make sure she wasn't looking, she picked up the paper and turned it over.

'Trust Reed.'

She smiled before quickly stuffing the paper even further under the plate her toast was on. No need to have Detective Reed wondering about the mysterious note left on her tray by a gust of wind. Maybe Reed could be trusted… but Lois wasn't about to trust anyone with that little secret.


"What?" exclaimed Clark.

"Apparently, Jefferson Cole was killed in a scuffle with a fellow inmate today," Henderson said again. "Why? Is that important?"

Clark leaned back in the chair in Henderson's office and thought about that for a moment. "Can you think of any reason Dr. Maxwell Deter might have something against you?"

Henderson shook his head. "I'd never even heard of him before yesterday. Why?"

"Then I think you might be off the hook."

"Assuming that his reason for killing Cole was so that he wouldn't have to kill me."

"Well, that and to keep Cole from talking — or blackmailing him. After all, Cole is the one person who can identify Deter. Joey Bermuda might not even know Deter is the one who hired him. So if he figures he's got to kill someone anyway, why not kill the one who can identify him? Besides, Cole did what Deter needed him to do. He was no longer… necessary."

Henderson nodded thoughtfully. "That means we need to use Dr. Klein as the bait — assuming your theory is correct. But… I'm not really comfortable with this."

"Let's at least ask him. He'd probably like to have the choice. But it might be the only way he has for not spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder."

"Well, if his attitude when we put him in protective custody yesterday is any indication, I think he'd rather take a risk."

"Didn't take it well, huh?" Clark asked in amusement.

"Can you imagine what it might be like to wrestle a wild crocodile?"

"That bad?"

"That bad. By the way, I saw the carefully worded article in the Daily Planet this morning."

"No lies. But Perry White was really good about it. He agreed with me that it might be easier for us to follow this story if Deter thinks I'm dead. I'm not entirely sure if it will work. There are quite a few people out there who know I'm alive. I guess there's not much I can do about that now. That brings up another point. I know it seems as if you're no longer a target, but… Well, I have an idea. I think, if we are going to use Dr. Klein to spring the trap on Deter, it might be smart if we convince Deter that you are no longer a potential target — so that we can be sure that his only potential target is Klein."

"And how do you propose we do that?"

Clark smiled.


Maxwell Deter started his car and adjusted the radio station. Pulling away from his house, he gasped in amazement when he heard the item being broadcast on the news. It never rained but it poured.

'This just in. A tragic car accident earlier this morning has claimed the life of Inspector William Henderson of the Metropolis Police Department. According to the officer on the scene, the fire from the car burned so hot that so far, no one has been able to determine the condition of Inspector Henderson's body.'

The newscaster droned on, but Max was no longer listening. Just when there was no longer any need to kill Henderson, he'd gone and got himself killed anyway. The irony was not lost on Max. It was almost a shame that Cole was no longer around to enjoy the moment — almost, but not quite. Killing Cole had been the only realistic option. Especially now, when everything was falling into place more beautifully than he would have imagined. He was just pulling away from the curb when his cell phone rang. Stopping the car again, he reached into his pocket and withdrew the phone.



"I'm due at the prison," Max said impatiently. "What did you want to see me about?"

Dr. Klein looked up from where he was staring into a microscope. "Oh, good. You could make it. But you didn't need to rush right over. I sort of thought you'd stop by after work. Hey you look sharp. What's the occasion?" He gestured to the red rose in Deter's lapel.

"No occasion. Anyway, I'm here now. What do you want?"

"Want? Oh, right. I just thought you might want to come on an exciting adventure with me. I mean, I had to tear out of here so quickly the other day that we didn't get to finish catching up. We haven't seen each other nearly enough the past couple months."

"That brings up a question. Why did you run out of here like a bat out of hell" Deter asked.

"A friend needed my help," Klein explained, mixing up some concoction in a beaker. "Anyway, I've decided to learn how to skydive and thought you might like to come."

"Why would you think that?" asked Deter, shaking his head when Klein offered him the liquid.

"I just thought it would be a good way to relax."

Klein, trying to buy time to get himself under control, took a swig out of the beaker. " Why wouldn't you want to come? Falling through the clouds, not a care in the world. Well, except of course about whether or not your parachute is going to open," Klein said, adding a nervous sounding chuckle.

"Well, I'm not interested," Deter said in response to Dr. Klein's invitation. "It sounds dangerous to me."

"That's too bad. Be good for the old cardiovascular system. Anyway, if you change your mind, I'm taking off at seven p.m. tonight. We'll be leaving from the Metropolis Flying Club. I booked a private class — so if you want to come, there'll be lots of room."

"Are you the only one jumping?"

"Only if you don't come with me."

"Well, if that was all you wanted, I need to be getting to the prison." Deter turned and headed for the door.


"Okay," Henderson said from inside the security room where he and Clark had been watching and listening to Deter and Klein's conversation. "The bait is set. Now we just have to see if Deter decides to take a nibble."

"What makes you think this will work?"

"If your theory is correct, Deter is short on cash. He needs to move quick. And he needs something that will look like an accident. What better way to do that than to somehow sabotage Dr. Klein's parachute? Everyone knows that skydiving is inherently dangerous. No one would question an accident. Besides, Deter can't get Bermuda to pull the job — not until he pays Bermuda for his last jobs. Bermuda is known for insisting on payment. That means Deter has two choices. First, he could hire the thugs that tried to kill you. Or, he could do it himself."

"What if he hires the thugs?"

"We neutralize them — leave him with no option but to do it himself or risk losing this chance. One thing I am concerned about. Klein sounded nervous. I'm hoping that doesn't tip Deter off."

"Lois said that Klein gets nervous if he thinks he misplaced a paperclip. Let's just hope Deter thinks it's standard Klein behavior. By the way, weren't you concerned about letting Klein and Deter meet alone?"

Henderson shook his head. "There were a half dozen officers in the next room, ready to storm the lab if necessary. By the way, did you notice how sharp Deter looked? I wonder what's up with that."

"I thought he looked as if he was trying to hard."

Henderson fought back a smirk. "I thought the blue turtleneck with the black suit and especially the red rose in his lapel made him look good."

"I didn't think it was anything special," Clark replied.

Henderson chuckled.


"Nothing," Henderson said dismissively.

Clark was about to comment when he thought better of it. Henderson was hitting on a sensitive spot — and he seemed to know it. It was probably best just to let it go. "What about this… booking the whole class thing for Klein's parachute jump. Don't you think it sounds a bit suspicious?"

Henderson shook his head. "When I discussed it with Klein, he indicated that it sounded like something he would do. Besides, having only him jumping gives us more control over the situation."

Clark nodded slowly. "How did Dr. Klein take it when you told him our theory?"

"He maintains that Deter would never hurt him. I convinced him to go along by telling him that if he's right, this would prove it. After all, he's just inviting Deter to go skydiving. And… I have to tell you, Klein's eyes positively lit up at the prospect of going skydiving — especially at the city's expense."

Clark chuckled. Motorcycles. Leather jackets. Skydiving. Unusual experiments with the mating rituals of chimpanzees. One thing was for sure — Dr. Klein was definitely a character.

"So any idea what he meant when Klein spoke about leaving in a rush the other day?" Henderson asked. "You rolled your eyes when Deter asked about it."

"The thugs that shot me tracked Lois and me down the other day — just after a meeting with Dr. Klein. The only way any of this makes sense is if Deter knew about that meeting."

"I'm going to pretend you didn't say that," Henderson responded.


"Klein met with you and… a fugitive? I could have both of you arrested."

"Oh. Is that what you're going to do?"

"I'm sort of busy at the moment. But I'm not going to make you any promises about later."


"I got word just before Deter got here. Our request for a search warrant on Bermuda's residence came through — along with an arrest warrant."

"Do you think that's such a good idea?"

"What do you mean?"

"We don't want to risk Deter getting suspicious. If he finds out you have Joey Bermuda in custody, he might not take our bait."

"Good point," Henderson said. "Okay, well I suppose there's no damage if we take him down when we have Deter. But… hey, that's good news."


"Well, that means I have time to arrest you for assisting a fugitive."

When Clark's face froze, Henderson burst out laughing. "That was almost too easy."


"Have you lost your mind?"

Lois' eyebrows rose as she regarded her cell-mate. "Reed, you told me that Henderson and Clark are setting things up for Deter on the outside. We can increase the chances of success if we work on nailing him from the inside."

"Look, when Henderson told me to keep you safe, I don't think this is what he had in mind."

"Keep me safe? To spend the rest of my life in prison until they stick a needle in my arm? Reed, I'm doing this. My best bet for staying safe is if you help me."

Reed let out a breath. "After everything you told me, I'd say you already have enough evidence to get your conviction overturned. Why would you…"

"Because it's the right thing to do. We have enough to clear me. We don't have enough to blame Max. And I want that bastard — not only for what he did to me and Sykes, but for what he did to all the people on that ferry. And…" Lois hesitated. "…I need this story if I'm to have any hope of getting my job back when I get out of here. After my failure to figure this all out a year ago, Perry might need a little convincing that I haven't lost my edge."

Reed stared at her for a long minute before nodding. "Well, I guess we can't exactly let the boys have all the fun."

"Now you're talking."

"So what exactly did you have in mind?"

"Well…" Lois glanced around. "We need to come up with a plan to get into Max Deter's office — see if there is anything there that can be used to nail him to the wall. Deter was almost obsessive in his note taking. I was thinking about that passkey you got from the warden last night. If we could just get into Max's office…"

"I'm an officer of the law. I can't search his office without a search warrant. And I can't let you do that either so…"

"Damn! Well, what if we didn't break in? Isn't there a plain- sight doctrine that allows you, if you are in a room by consent, to keep your eyes open. We just have to get… an invitation."

"And how, pray tell, do you suggest we do that?"

"By convincing the guards that one of us needs to see the good doctor."

Reed stared at her for a moment before a slow smile crossed her face.


Reed glanced around to be sure there were guards nearby before stepping closer to Lois and speaking loudly. "Come to me, mon cheri," she said with a bad French accent, before taking a very startled Lois in her arms, dipping her deeply and kissing her on the lips.

Lois pushed Reed away, in the process, collapsing to the floor of the mess hall.

"I wanted you to fall for me — but not that far," Reed replied, using the same French accent.

"What are you doing?" Lois hissed.

"Everyone should have a hobby — mine is ze making of ze love."

Lois crinkled her eyebrows in confusion. Reed was up to something — but what? Assuming of course, that she hadn't simply lost… Lois fought back a smile as a sudden understanding began to sink in. …her mind. What better way to earn a trip to the prison shrink's office than by losing one's mind? But how was Lois to play this? "Who are you?" she whispered as people began paying attention to the little drama playing out in the corner of the room.

"Uhh… Permit me to introduce myself," Reed said giving a majestic bow while keeping her voice just as loud as before. "I am Pepe Le Pew, your lover."

Lois fought back the threatening laughter and forced her expression to remain astonished. Not Lois' first choice of identities to assume, but she supposed if people could think they were God or the Pope when they went crazy, one could just as easily think she was Pepe Le Pew. "Have you lost your mind?"

"Absolutement. My mind has been lost to your beauty, mon sweet peanut of brittle. I am insane with ze love for you. Crazy with ze very thought of you, my little gumbo of chicken."

Lois slowly rose to her feet, noticing that the guards were watching intently now.

"Come to me, mon little darling. It is love at first sight, is it not?" Reed grabbed Lois and dipped her once again before planting short kisses all over her face.

Lois struggled in her arms, finally escaping.

"Ooh la la. She likes to play hard to get, no?" Reed said to the guards.

"Keep her the hell away from me!" Lois exclaimed, wiping her face in disgust. "She's a wacko."

"You stop resisting me, bebe, and I shall stop resisting you." Reed took another step towards Lois, only to be stopped by the guards.

"You're going to have to come with us," one of the guards said.

"You must let me go," Reed responded. "I am ze lover not ze fighter. But I will fight for my love. I will be ze battleship of her ocean. She will be adrift at sea without me."

"You're insane," Lois said.

"Come on," said the guard.

"I shall never surrender except to the tender mercies of my love," Reed said as they dragged her away. "I am ze prisoner of love. I shall be back and you shall be my captive. You may call me Streetcar because of my desire for you. Pepe Le Pew shall never fail. No one can resist my charms. I am ze cabbage. You are ze corned beef. Ze corned beef is nothing without ze cabbage."

It was all Lois could do to keep from bursting out laughing as Reed finally disappeared out the doors. If that didn't earn her a trip to see Dr. Deter, Lois wasn't sure what would. On the other hand… she had to admit she was a little put out that Reed was the one being taken to Max's office. But there was not much she could do about it now.


Deter was completely engrossed in his thoughts as he made notes in his journal about his conversation that morning with Bernard Klein. He'd called his thugs — but apparently, like Joey Bermuda, they were refusing to do any more work for him until they were paid for killing Clark Kent. These thugs could be so difficult to work with. He'd tried to explain that killing Klein would ensure that he had all the money necessary to meet his financial obligations, but had been unable to move them from their position.

That meant either hiring new thugs or doing it himself. In that, there really was no choice. The more people he involved, the more chance there was that someone would talk. Too many people knew what was going on as it was. That left the task of killing Klein up to him. And, when he thought about it now, turning Klein down so hastily had been a mistake. It was the best chance he had of being able to kill Dr. Klein in such a way as to keep people from thinking it was anything more than a tragic accident.

A knock on his door startled him. "Come in," he said, closing up his journal as the door opened. He put the book inside his top desk door and locked it before getting up.

"She had some sort of breakdown in the mess-hall," explained a guard, pulling the woman with her into the room. "Seems to think she's Pepe Le Pew."

Deter sighed. This was just the type of distraction he didn't need right now. Still, he gestured the woman to a chair in his office. He waited until she was seated and the guard had left before speaking. "So… you're Pepe Le Pew?" he asked.

"Actually the name is Betty Reed."

"Really? Then why would the guard tell me that you thought you were Pepe Le Pew?"

"I was trying to get a rise out of my cell-mate."


Reed shrugged. "She bugs me." Reed leaned forward, playing with various things on the desk. When that no longer seemed to be enough, she got up and began wandering the office, fingering books and ornaments.

Deter picked up a pen and twirled it between his fingers as he watched. "How does she bug you?"

"I don't know. She's just… arrogant, I guess. Always acts like she's better than the rest of us. Guess she had some big important job at a newspaper before ending up here. She just… bugs me. So I decided to yank her chain a little bit. It was great watching her freak out."

"Are you talking about Lois Lane?"

"Yeah. That's her. Why? You know her or something?" Reed asked, turning towards Deter.

"I've seen her a couple of times. So what exactly did you do to her?"

A real smirk quirked at one corner of Reed's mouth. "I just pretended I thought I was Pepe Le Pew," Reed said. "And that she was the cat Pepe is always chasing."

"Why would you choose an aggressive, politically incorrect, male chauvinist who basically stalks women to be your alter-ego?"

Reed crinkled her eyebrows as she studied him. "I like skunks. What's it to you?"

Deter considered the situation for a moment. This woman didn't seem to be any real threat to Lois — Deter didn't want her dead, after all. On the other hand, Reed's behavior had obviously unnerved Lois. And Deter didn't consider that a bad thing. "Well, you're obviously not crazy. So I'm going to instruct the guard to return you to your cell." With that Deter picked up the phone.


After he'd managed to get rid of the pesky interruption, he returned to his thoughts. The seduction of Lois Lane would have to wait. Right now the perfect opportunity had presented itself for him to deal with Klein. But how?

If he couldn't hire thugs to do this… He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. All he really needed to do was to find a way to sabotage Klein's parachute — a way that the authorities would never suspect. Unfortunately, he didn't know anything about parachutes — except, of course, that some idiots strapped the darn things on their backs and jumped out of airplanes. So what…

He reached over and pulled the phone book out from under the phone, flipping it open to… Parachute Jumping and read 'see Skydiving.' There were a number of listings under 'Skydiving' — including the Metropolis Flying Club. Taking a pad of paper, he quickly wrote down the address even though that was not the place he wanted right now. He needed to learn about parachutes and he needed to learn it anywhere but the Metropolis Flying Club. Going to the Metropolis Flying Club would come later.

His finger traced its way over a number of ads before coming to stop on one for Adventure Skydiving. 'Don't let others decide your fate. Learn to pack your own parachute.'

A slow smile made his way across his face. Perfect.


Lois carefully checked to make sure no one was lurking outside their cell before turning to Reed. "Pepe Le Pew?" she asked, still fighting back laughter.

"We meet again, mon cheri," Reed responded, using her Pepe Le Pew imitation. "We need to continue meeting like this." She smiled and shrugged. "As a kid, he was my favorite Bugs Bunny character. My favorite thing has got to be the message he apparently has on his answering machine these days."

"And what's that?"

Reed smiled. "This is Pepe Le Pew speaking," she said. "If you are a beautiful woman calling, you may leave your name and number, and if you are a man, fair is fair, you too may leave ze beautiful woman's name and number."

Lois smiled. "So how did it go? Did you find anything?"

"Well, there was one thing of interest. When I first arrived, he was writing in a… book. It looked like a journal of some sort. As soon as I entered, he closed the book and locked it in the top drawer of his desk."

"Did you get a chance to take a look at it?"

"No. He was there the whole time."

"Why didn't you think of a way to get him to leave the room?"

"Even if he had… I think locked desk sort of thwarts the whole 'plain sight' rule."

Lois let out a breath. "Okay, so that didn't work. What's next?"


Deter parked his car some distance from the Metropolis Flying Club. It was bad enough that people would see him. He didn't want some nosy person able to identify his car, too.

The people at Parachute Adventures had been more than helpful. A few bucks and a little bit of time was all it had taken. He'd found out that parachute packing was actually quite difficult. If it was not done correctly, the parachute would open incorrectly which could result in it collapsing, twisting or only one side opening. As a result, great care was taken to be sure it was packed properly.

So he'd spent the past hour getting a basic grasp on the procedure — and in particular learning how to pack it so that it wouldn't open right. The instructor had been more helpful than he had realized when, after packing it wrong once, the man had exploded with horror, going into great detail of what would happen if he ever packed his parachute that way.

He hadn't used his real name, of course. And he sincerely doubted that anyone would go around to the many parachute places in Metropolis seeing if he had been there. Now, his trip to the Metropolis Flying Club would be a little more problematic. But he figured that if he did this right, they wouldn't even think to ask the questions that might lead to him.

Taking a deep breath, and adjusting his boutonniere, he headed into the building marked as the Metropolis Flying Club.

"Can I help you?" asked an attractive blonde at the counter inside. The woman was in her late twenties, maybe her early thirties.

"I hope so," he said, giving the woman his most charming smile. "My name is Elias Mendenhall. And you are…?"

"I'm Constance Lyons."

"So what's a beautiful woman like you doing in a place like this?"

She smiled. "Aren't you the flirt?"

"Well, you just don't seem like your traditional receptionist."

"I like planes. But you're right. I used to be a magician. But…" She shrugged. "But no one wanted to see a female illusionist. They didn't take me seriously."

"I can't believe you'd let that stop you."

She shrugged. "So what can I do for you Mr…?"

"Call me Elias."

"Okay, Elias. Other than flirting with me, what are you here for?"

Deter shrugged. "I've been thinking of taking up parachuting and was wondering…"

"If I could give you a tour?"

Deter smiled. "That would be great."

Constance rose to her feet. "So when did you become interested in skydiving?" she asked as she led him into the back.

"To tell you the truth, I'm terrified of heights."

She turned to look at him.

He shrugged. "My psychiatrist says you have to confront your fears."

"Well, jumping out of an airplane is quite a way to do that." She opened a door, gesturing him to step into a large room. "This is where the jumpers get ready," she said. "The parachutes are prepared here and the jumpers get changed here."

"Those outfits look heavy."

"Well, it gets cold up there."

"What's that parachute and suit doing sitting over there by themselves."

"We have a jumper going up tonight. His chute was prepared earlier."

Deter nodded.

"So what do you think? You ready to take the… leap — so to speak?"

Deter let out a slow breath, turning to look at the entire room. "Do you think it would be possible to just stay here for a while. Maybe if these things look a little more familiar, it will be easier to think about jumping."

Constance smiled. "I don't see a problem with that. I'll wait out front. If you need me, just call. And… don't worry, Elias, people jump every day. It's perfectly safe when it's done right."

"Tell that to my knocking knees."

Constance chuckled before turning to leave the room.

Deter waited until he was sure she was gone before pulling a pair of black leather gloves from his pocket, slipping them on his hands and heading for the parachute.


"So is everything ready?" asked Clark as he joined Henderson at the police station.

"Yeah. We're heading over to the Metropolis Flying Club now. Klein told Deter that the jump would be happening tonight at seven. We want to get things set up early."

"What's the plan?"

"We'll set up some cameras inside the flying club. Then we'll maintain a wide perimeter — to be sure we don't frighten him off."

"Are you sure Dr. Klein will be safe?"

"As I told you, we'll have a couple plainclothes officers in the club. And the pilots are officers. He'll be fine."

Clark turned as a third man entered Henderson's office. "So… Are we going to do this?" asked Klein, smacking his hands together in glee.

"This is an undercover mission."

"Psha," Klein said. "Max is my friend. I'll be thrilled if he decides to join me. But he's not likely to change his mind. I'm just looking forward to this skydiving thing. Flying through the air…" He looked at Clark. "You sure you don't want to join me? Could be fun."

"I don't like airplanes."

"Oh. Well, don't be ashamed of it. Flying isn't for everyone."


Deter relaxed on his sofa for a moment before he was up pacing the floor again. The waiting was the worst part. After a few more minutes, he made his way to the door. Maybe staying here wasn't such a good idea. After all, if everything went as planned, it was possible, even if highly unlikely, that he'd be required to account for his whereabouts. He should be somewhere that had a few more people.


"This is not going to happen," Henderson said. "I think it's time to pack things in."

"Let's just give it a few more minutes," Clark responded.

"We've been giving it a few more minutes for almost an hour. Klein told Deter that he was leaving at seven. It's almost eight. If he hasn't shown up by now, he isn't coming. Besides, we don't even know for sure that Deter's behind all this."


"Clark, we have the hologram generator. That, together with Perry White's claim that he didn't testify, will certainly get Lois a new trial. And if we execute both the search warrant and the arrest warrant on Joey Bermuda and find that diagram you claim he has about a bullet that fires by itself, I suspect you'll have enough to clear her."

"But the ferry… or Theodore Cooke's death…"

"We have no way to connect any of it to Deter. Maybe it was The Demon who brought down the ferry. After all, he was tearing boards off the side of the ship."

"It wasn't…"

"All we do know for sure at this point is that whether he was involved or not, Maxwell Deter is not going to show up here tonight." Henderson picked up his radio and placed a call to instruct the pilots to proceed with the jump. "At least Dr. Klein will get his thrill," Henderson said as he led a very dejected Clark Kent out of the surveillance van parked across the street from The Metropolis Flying Club.


Clark stopped beside the fence and watched as Dr. Klein's plane lifted up off the runway. When they had come up with this plan, he'd been so hopeful. And now… Henderson's comments about getting Lois cleared were great. But they still hadn't found a way to clear 'The Demon.' And now it was beginning to look as if they never would. But maybe his parents were right. Maybe if he just gave it enough time, people would forget about the flying man. For some reason, that thought suddenly didn't seem quite as appealing as it once had. He wasn't entirely sure why.

"You coming?"

Clark looked up to see Henderson holding the door to The Metropolis Flying Club open for him. Jogging to catch up he entered right behind Henderson and then watched as Henderson began to bark out orders for taking the operation apart. There really was no reason for Clark to stay there now. After all, there would be no story. And he was going to have to tell Lois tonight that they had failed.

Still, for reasons he couldn't explain, he followed Henderson into a large room where they prepared for the jumps. Suddenly, something caught his attention. A smell. Something about it seemed… out of place somehow. But what was… A rose. His mind flashed back to the red rose Deter had been wearing in his lapel that morning. He spun around, x-raying closets and walls. But Maxwell Deter wasn't there. He glanced through the roof, quickly spotting Klein's plane, but Maxwell Deter wasn't on there either.

He opened his mouth to call to Henderson, but then closed it again. How could he tell Henderson what he'd discovered? It wasn't as if he even knew for certain that Deter was the one who had brought that smell in there. So what did that leave?

He spotted an attractive blonde in her late twenties talking to one of the officers. Quickly, he made his way over.

"Excuse me. Do you work here?" he asked.


"Were you working here all day?"

"Since eight this morning. I was supposed to be relieved at four, but my replacement didn't come in. Why?"

"Before we showed up, did a man come by?"

"Lots of men came by. This is a flying club, after all."

"I'm looking for one in particular."

"What's going on, Kent?" asked Henderson as he approached.

"It just occurred to me… What if Deter came by earlier? What if he managed to tamper with Klein's parachute before we even showed up?" Clark turned back to the woman. "Did a man come by? Thirtyish. Dark hair, a little wild looking."

"Quite ruggedly handsome," Henderson corrected.

Clark glared at Henderson before continuing. "Beady eyes."

"Brown eyes," Henderson corrected again. "Tall, well built."

"Not quite as tall as me. A little overdressed," Clark said. "Wearing a red rose in his lapel."

"Yeah. There was a guy like him. Said his name was… Elisa or something like that. I don't remember the last name. He was a doll. Afraid of heights. But wanted to get over it."

"Was he at any point alone with the planes or any of the equipment?"

"Yeah, he was in here alone for a while. Why is there…" She finished her sentence to empty air as both of the men questioning her took off towards the door to the flying club. "…a problem?"

"Wait here," Henderson said when they got outside.

"Where are you going?" asked Clark.

"To the tower — try to get a message to the plane telling Klein not to jump."


Murray Mindlin was bored. The traffic was predictable for the early evening. The backlog from rush hour was beginning to clear. There had been an accident on the Westgate bridge that had relegated south traffic to one lane. Other than that, there wasn't much to report from his position in the LNN traffic helicopter. He really hoped to get out of this stupid job soon — dreams of being a correspondent once again played idly in his mind. Traffic reporters just did not get the respect they deserved. People watching from home would be suitably bored. People stuck in cars on the freeways would be rolling their eyes when told that the traffic was congested. No. He remembered with fondness the days when he'd been a correspondent. Respect. Women. Exotic travel. Free beer. Yep. That had been the life. And just because he'd made one or two little… gaffs along the way, he never should have been assigned this task. All he needed was a break. But what were the chances that that would happen as long as he was stuck with this stupid assignment?

"Let's take another sweep past Lex Towers and call it a…" Murray's thought was cut off by the sound of an urgent voice coming over the radio.

"Ground calling Foxtrot, Gulf, Alpha, Juliette, Juliette. Come in Gulf, Alpha, Juliette, Juliette." And then, again, after a brief pause. "Gulf, Alpha, Juliette, Juliette, please respond."

Murray looked around, trying to spot the plane being hailed.

"Gulf, Alpha, Juliette, Juliette," the man on the ground said again. "Can you hear me?" When there was still no response, the man continued. "If you can hear me, you need to know that one of the men you have with you… Dr. Klein… The police are here. They tell me that his parachute has been tampered with. Whatever you do, you can't let him jump. Repeat. You can't let Dr. Klein jump."

"Head towards the Metropolis Flying Club," Murray said, changing the angle of the camera in hopes of picking up the airplane.

"Over there," said his pilot, pointing out the window.

Murray focused the camera on the back door of the plane which was already open in preparation for a jump. Using the telephoto, he zoomed in just as an older man stepped up to the door and then… leapt out.


"Reed, the warden wants to see you."

Lois and Reed shared a look before Reed shrugged and turned to accompany the guard standing at the door to their cell. Lois walked to the door watching as she disappeared from sight. Maybe something had happened. According to Reed the plan had been to wait until quite late… later than it was at the moment… and then a guard the warden trusted would come down and get her while the rest of the prison slept. That way Reed could get updated on what was happening with the investigation without attracting unwanted attention. So why was the guard coming to collect her when it was shortly after eight o'clock?

Not having an answer to that question, Lois was suddenly struck with an inspiration. Reed might be bound by the rules of search and seizure, but Lois wasn't. And… She smiled, turning back to where she knew Reed had put the passkey that would get her through any door in the entire prison. Reaching under the mattress on the lower bunk, she pulled the key from its hiding place and headed out of her cell. It was time for Lois Lane to get back in the game.


Clark's heart leapt into his throat when he saw Dr. Klein jump from the plane. He'd been staring at the plane, listening to the frantic efforts by the tower to contact it. And although he had no way of telling them this, there seemed to be a problem with the radio because no sound was coming through.

His hands had tightened into fists as he'd hoped against hope that Dr. Klein would chicken out and decide not to jump. He quickly stuck his hands in the pockets of his jacket as he thought about what he'd stuck there earlier that day — just in case. The black wool cap he'd used to help out at the ferry incident.


The anchor at LNN's news desk put his hand up to his ear and fell silent for a moment.

"This just in," the anchor informed all of Metropolis. "Apparently, a man has just jumped out of an airplane over Metropolis' Flying Club and our information is that his parachute is not expected to open. We have Murray Mindlin on the line now and… live video coverage."

Behind the anchor appeared a rather shaky image of a man falling through the sky, arms outstretched as if he was embracing the entire world. The man falling from the plane was the only one who didn't know the trouble he was in.

"Murray Mindlin, what can you tell us about this man?"

"His name is Dr. Bernard Klein. The call that came over the radio less than a minute ago was the tower trying to get a message to the plane. The police believe that Dr. Klein's parachute has been tampered with. We don't know at this point why the police believe this. What we do know is that the plane did not answer. And the next thing we saw was this man jumping from the airplane."

"Has anyone else jumped?"

"Not since we've been watching the plane. And looking now… I can't see anyone else."

"So we aren't even certain at this point if the man we see is the one who might have had his parachute tampered with?"

"That's correct, Don. We don't."

"How long before we know?"

"My pilot apparently is a jumper. He tells me that Dr. Klein will have to pull the ripcord in the next minute or so."


Lois opened the door to Deter's office and snuck in, pulling the door until it was almost closed. The place gave her the creeps. She suspected that was because it reminded her, all too clearly, of Max. She wanted to be able to make a quick exit if necessary.

She headed directly for the desk. The passkey from Reed didn't work on the desk drawer. Swearing softly to herself, Lois looked around for something she could use to open the drawer. Paperclips.

Turning a couple of paperclips into some make-shift lock-picking tools only took a matter of seconds. Squatting down in front of the drawer, she quickly worked the lock until, as expected, it opened. Her heart was in her throat. This was it. She was sure of it. Max had always been almost obsessive in his note taking. It would be his downfall now.

Grabbing the expensive leather book, she removed it from the desk and opened it. It was indeed a diary. She began skimming through the pages, hoping to ensure it contained the information she needed before deciding whether or not to take it with her back to her cell.


Klein was loving every second. Falling through the air without a care in the world. It was heaven. A beep from his watch reached his ears. It was time to pull the cord. Sighing, he reached up and grabbed the handle and… pulled.

The chute came out above him, jerking him out of his free fall and then… he felt the wind whip him sideways as the parachute crinkled and folded. Suddenly, he was back to falling, being whipped from side to side. This wasn't the way this was supposed to go. Something was wrong.

He reached above him, trying desperately to straighten out the wires holding him to the parachute but to no avail.

"Help!" he yelled at the top of his lungs. He looked up, hoping against hope that there was some way the plane could pull him back in. But he could no longer even see the plane. "Help!" he yelled again as he continued to fall.

He looked down. The ground was approaching fast now. He tried to scramble up the cords of the parachute still attached to him. Soon he was entangled.

"Help!" he screamed as trees and houses grew bigger.

"Helllllll…" His voice was cut off when he suddenly jerked. Looking up he found himself staring into a pair of brown eyes, the only part of his rescuer's face which was not covered by a ski mask. The Demon.

Klein's natural fear at finding himself face to face with The Demon was overshadowed by the fact that this… creature, or whatever he was, was the only thing preventing him from falling to the ground. He flung his arms around the creature's neck, hanging on for dear life as they floated slowly to the ground.

Once they landed, The Demon set him down, making sure he was solidly on his feet.

"Are you okay?" The Demon asked.

"I'm… I'm…" Klein's voice trailed off.

The Demon gave a nod before taking back to the air, disappearing at a speed that was impossible for the good doctor to follow. So he stared in disbelief at the last place he'd seen The Demon until the sound of sirens reached his ears and people began to swirl around him.

"Dr. Klein?"

Henderson. Klein recognized the voice.

"Dr. Klein? Are you okay?"

"Uhh…yeah." He gestured to the sky. "The Demon."

"What about him?"

"He saved me."


Reed stared in disbelief at the television screen. When she'd first entered Randall's office, she'd been watching a man free fall through the air, the anchor predicting doom and gloom. Randall, immediately realizing that the report meant that something had gone terribly wrong with Henderson's operation, had summoned Reed.

But now… How did The Demon fit into all of this? And what was he doing saving Dr. Klein? None of this made any sense. She felt Randall come up behind her, wrapping his arms around her from behind.

"Not now," she said, wriggling out of his arms. She had to think, to figure out what was going on, before she'd be able to figure out how to handle the situation — assuming, of course, there was anything she needed to do.

The telephone on Randall's desk rang, causing them both to jump. "Yes," said Randall, answering the phone. He listened for a minute before saying, "Detective Reed is in my office right now. Would it be easier to talk directly to her?"

Reed knew who must be on the other end even before she heard his voice. "What is it, Henderson?"

"We've got a bit of a problem here."

"I saw on the news. Is Deter in custody?"

"That's what I was calling to tell you — Deter got away. I'm wondering if he went back to the prison."

"Can you find out if Dr. Maxwell Deter is in the prison?" Reed asked her lover.

"I'll get right on it," said Randall, turning to leave the room.

Reed waited until Randall made his way to the door to his office before addressing Henderson again. "He's going to find out. In the meantime, what's the deal with The Demon?"

"How did you know…"

"It's all over the news."

"Well, I'm not sure what to say about that. He just… sort of showed up. Apparently plucked Klein out of the sky, set him down and took off."

"I don't get it."

"Neither do I. But I can tell you this: if The Demon hadn't showed up when he did, Klein would be dead."

"So tell me exactly what happened?" Reed asked, listening intently as Henderson filled her in.

"What did you find out?" Reed asked when Randall re-entered the room.

"Dr. Deter is somewhere in the prison."


Sometime since she'd first entered the office, Lois had settled into the chair behind the desk, completely engrossed in her reading. It was all there. Every little detail. Motives. Setbacks. Deals. Payments. Plans. All of it. It was fascinating — in a grotesque sort of way. In fact, Lois was so lost in the content that…

"Well, well, well. What brings you to this neck of the prison?"

Lois jumped from the chair, dropping Deter's journal in the process. "I was wanting to talk to you."

"Really?" Deter said, making his way over to where the book was now lying on the floor. Bending down, he retrieved it. "And… did you find anything to keep you interested while you waited?"

"Oh that. I'd just opened it when you walked in." Lois knew she didn't sound terribly convincing. She slowly backed up. Until he made some sort of aggressive move, she was going to play this by ear. She could always react if…

'…minute I was falling and then, out of nowhere, he simply appeared…"

Lois spun around, realizing that the voice was coming from a radio she'd accidentally turned on when she'd backed into it.

'…catching me in his arms.'

'And you're sure it was The Demon?' another voice asked.

'I saw him at the ferry. Yes, it was The Demon.'

Deter walked over to the radio, about to turn it off when…

'Well, thank you, Dr. Klein. To update those of you just joining us, I'm speaking to Dr. Bernard Klein — the survivor of what could have been a terrible accident.'

Lois and Deter both stood mutely staring at the radio now.

'Oh, it was no accident,' Klein responded. 'Although I still can hardly believe he'd do that to me.'

'Are you saying that someone tampered with your parachute?'

'Yes. My protege. Dr. Maxwell…'

'Dr. Klein doesn't have time for any more questions,' a new voice interrupted. To Lois' ears it sounded like Inspector Bill Henderson.

Lois started to turn when…

"Freeze. Police."

A woman's voice came from the direction of the door. And contrary to the instructions, both Lois and Deter immediately spun towards the woman, only Deter moved too fast for Lois, grabbing her around the neck and pulling her in front of him.

"Put down the gun," Deter demanded.

Lois flinched when she felt a sharp metal edge against her throat.

"Put down the letter opener," Reed said keeping her gun trained on Deter.

"Oh no. That's not how this is going to work at all," said Deter, pushing the sharp edge harder against Lois' throat.

The point of the letter opener dug in, causing Lois to flinch. By the look on Reed's face, she suspected Deter had managed to draw blood.

"Okay, okay," Reed said, suddenly holding her gun so that it was pointing at the ceiling. "Just let her go."

"Put the gun down."

"I can't do that. Police protocol…"

"Put the gun down!"

"Listen, you're not thinking clearly. The guards have been summoned. The police are on their way. You're only making things worse for yourself. If you need a hostage, let her go and take me."

Lois chose that moment to act, slamming her elbow into Deter's gut and then, spinning out of his grasp and turning, kicked at the hand holding the letter opener. When he jumped back, her foot missed, throwing her off balance and into Reed. Both women fell backwards. The gun went off, firing harmlessly into the ceiling before flying from Reed's hand and skittering across the floor.

Before they could recover, Deter dove for the gun. Both Lois and Reed scrambled to beat him to it.

"Don't move!" Deter demanded, grabbing the gun and pointing it at them. Both women froze. "Okay, that's better," said Deter. "Now, you, what do you know?" he asked Reed.

"I don't understand."

"I think you do. What do the police think they know about me?"


"I'd rethink that," Deter said, cocking the gun.

"Okay, okay," conceded Reed. "The police know you stopped by the Metropolis Flying Club earlier today and tampered with Dr. Klein's parachute."

"How? How do they know?"

Lois held her breath, hoping Reed wouldn't tell the whole truth.

"A woman at the Flying Club remembered you."

Reed narrowed his eyes as he considered this information.

"They came up with this information awfully fast. And you… who exactly are you? And more importantly, what are you doing with a gun? I thought you were Lois' cell-mate."

"I'm Detective Betty Reed. I was put in here because the police were trying to figure out how Lois Lane escaped from prison."

The hint of a smile quirked at one corner of Lois' mouth. That almost sounded believable.

"So you didn't know she was a cop?" Deter asked Lois.


"Where did the gun come from?"

"When the warden heard from the police that they were looking for you, he called me into his office, gave me a gun and suggested I come by your office. The police know you're in this prison. They should be surrounding the place even as we speak. You need to put that gun down and give yourself up. This is only making you look guilty. Get a good lawyer. You could still get out of this. But holding us at gun point, or worse, killing us… You won't get out of that. You need to make a decision now."

"You're right," said Deter, glancing over at where his journal was again lying on the floor.

"Good. Then put the gun…" As she spoke, she stepped closer.

A gun sounded in the room and Reed cried out in pain before collapsing to the ground. Lois jumped forward to tend to her.

"Don't move!"

"Look, Max, what are you doing? Reed is right. You'll never get away with this."

"Well, then you're lucky, aren't you?" Without taking the gun off her, he made his way to the journal picking it up. "Okay, then, let's go."

"Max, what are you…"

"You're my ticket out of here. Now, turn."

Lois did as instructed and a moment later, Deter had his arm around her from behind and the gun was jammed into her ribs.

"You try anything… like that little stunt you pulled a moment ago… I will kill you," Deter hissed into Lois' ear. "Besides, think of this as yet another escape from prison."

"What makes you think they will let you out of here with me as a hostage? After all, I'm a convicted murderer. As far as they know, I might be your accomplice instead of your hostage."

"Well, you're just going to have to hope, aren't you?"


"What do we do?" the Warden demanded into the phone.

"Stall him… anything. Give us time to get there," Henderson responded on the other end of the line.

"And how exactly do you suggest we do that? He's demanding to be let out immediately, or he'll kill Lois Lane. He already shot Betty."

"Is she okay?"

"She was shot in the stomach. The doctors here have stabilized her. But we've got to get this situation with Deter straightened out before we can get her transported to Metropolis General."

"Stall him, Warden Bowers. We're only ten minutes away. But for god's sake, don't let him kill Lois Lane."

Warden Bower hung up the phone and returned his attention to the man standing at the gate, a gun in Lois Lane's side. Bower's girlfriend was in serious condition in the prison hospital — and the hospital staff had just reported to them that because of the set up of the prison, they were trapped and couldn't get her the medical attention she needed until this situation was over. Only ten minutes. Or was it? Wouldn't things even get longer if Henderson and his officers arrived?

"So… what's the verdict, Warden?" called Deter.

Bower hesitated for only a moment longer. "Let him go."

"But, Warden…" one of the guards objected.

"I said, let him go!"


"I don't know what you hope to accomplish," Lois said as she drove Deter's car through the now darkened streets of Metropolis.

"We're getting out of here. You didn't think I wouldn't have a back-up plan, did you? We'll be out of the country by midnight."

"Why not let me go?" asked Lois. "I could pull over here. By the time I'd be able to contact anyone, you'd be long gone."

"Don't be ridiculous. I wouldn't leave you behind to rot in that hell-hole of a prison."

Lois bit her tongue to keep from saying that she wanted to go back to that hell-hole. "I just don't think this is smart. Look, Max, I'd love to run away with you. But this is nuts. We could both end up getting killed."

"You've just made it all worth while."

"What do you mean?"

"That you want to run away with me. Everything I've done has been to make that possible."

Lois cringed — not exactly the result she was hoping for. But then, if she retracted it, if she told him that she really thought he was a scum-sucking parasite and that she'd rather have Pepe Le Pew touching her than him, would that make him more inclined to let her go — or less inclined? She decided that, no matter how tempting it was to tell him what she thought, it was probably best to keep her mouth shut. And people thought Lois Lane didn't know the meaning of subtle.

"Turn here."

Lois did as instructed, heading onto the Westgate bridge.

Sirens. Flashing lights. Suddenly the area in front of them was filled with police cars, screeching to a halt in a pattern intended to block off the bridge with frightening speed.

"Stop," Deter said.

Lois did.

"Go back."

Lois looked behind her and was about to back up when police cars began appearing there, too, blocking any chance of escape.

"It's over, Max," she said.

"It's not over!" Max pulled open the door. Grabbing the journal with one hand and Lois with the other, he pulled Lois with him out of the car. Sticking the journal in his coat, he grabbed his gun and shoved it against Lois as he began backing them towards the side of the bridge.

"There's no way out, Deter," came Henderson's voice over the loudspeaker.

His voice was almost overpowered by the sound of a helicopter. Looking up, Lois could see the LNN call sign just before a bright light from the helicopter illuminated their position.


Murray Mindlin was having the best day of his entire life: first, capturing the botched parachute jump on camera together with an exclusive Demon rescue; then, landing the helicopter to interview Dr. Klein himself. From what he'd heard, that interview had been picked up by every news organization in the country. And now…

When he'd overheard Inspector Henderson on the phone with the prison warden, he immediately began monitoring the police scanner so that he now found himself watching a man with a gun drag a woman out onto West Bridge. He swung the camera around to capture the police cars blocking off the entrance and exit to the bridge before focusing on the couple.

He wasn't entirely sure what was going on. But, as he told the television audience glued to their seats as they watched the drama unfold, he believed that this abduction was connected to the near fatal parachute jump earlier in the evening.

It didn't take long for one of his colleagues to recognize the woman as a fellow reporter. A woman named Lois Lane who had been convicted in the murder of Elroy Sykes. And soon that story was being inserted into the drama playing out on the screen.

"I think we can get audio, sir."

"Great!" Murray muttered something into his link with the station before indicating for his pilot to proceed with hooking up audio.

"Get over." A man's demanding voice came over the audio loud and clear. Murray immediately patched it through to the station.

"Over there?" Lois Lane responded.

"Get over!" This command was accompanied by the man pushing Lois Lane with the gun, obviously in an attempt to get her to go over the railing.

She climbed over cautiously, balancing precariously on the ledge of the bridge. Murray pulled back on the video in an effort to show the incredible drop to the rocky river below. The man pocketed his gun in order to crawl over the railing.

"So what are the chances that they would survive a fall from that spot?" asked the anchor.

'Well, as you well know, this spot is famous for its suicides. Only about a quarter of the people who go over have been known to survive,' Murray responded. "As you can see, the police have stopped closing in, scared of spooking the kidnapper."

"What do you hope to accomplish by this, Max?" Lois' voice came clearly over the radio to be broadcast instantaneously to every home in Metropolis. "You can't get away with this one. It's not like what you did in blowing up the ferry."

"Did we hear that right?" asked the anchor.

"I thought The Demon blew up the ferry," Murray responded.

"So you did read my journal," said the man on the bridge.

"Yes. You got lucky, didn't you? Everyone is blaming that flying man. But it was you."

"And you know why I did it? I did it for you."

"And what now? Is this some sort of obscene suicide pact? You're caught, so you're determined to make sure we die together?"

"No. We're going to live."

"Max, this is a suicide bridge! You can't be thinking that we'll jump and survive. And even if, by some miracle, we both do, what's the plan then? Don't you think the cops will be swarming the river?"

"We have to take that chance."

"I'm not taking that chance." However, almost the instant that the words left her mouth thousands of collective gasps could be heard all across Metropolis as a hand reached out and pushed her off the bridge.

Her scream could be felt in a thousand hearts until… Mouths fell open and cheers rang out when the man they had nicknamed 'The Demon' suddenly caught her inches from the rocks below.

The picture was fuzzy as Murray struggled to bring it into focus, but when he finally did, the woman had her face buried in the shoulder of her rescuer. The masked man suddenly spun back around when the man on the bridge started yelling.

"You'll never take me alive!" The man's dramatic pronouncement was followed by a near perfect swan dive off the bridge.

The masked man moved faster than the camera could follow, setting Lois Lane on the bridge and catching her abductor in mid-air.

"No!" Deter screamed, pulling out his gun and emptying his clip into the masked man.

People held their breaths as they waited for the masked man to fall. Then they watched in shocked silence when instead he held up the hand he wasn't using to hold his passenger, emptying something out of it.

"Lose some bullets?" the masked man asked.

"Let me die. Or better yet, kill me."

"That's not the way I work," the masked man said before flying him over to the police cars and delivering him to Inspector Henderson.

In homes throughout Metropolis, people cheered.


"Get her a blanket," Henderson demanded, sending one of the officers still on the bridge rushing to a nearby ambulance. "Are you okay?" he asked the chilled young woman standing before him.

"Fff…fine," she stammered. "I got splashed by the waves hitting the rocks. And… I'm just a little cold."

"That's not surprising. The temperature seems to be dropping tonight. And I suspect you're suffering from a little bit of shock."

"Where's Clark?" Lois looked around.

"I'm right here," Clark said, jogging up to join them. "Boy, you gave me quite a scare there."

"Yeah. Well, I scared myself a little bit too," she responded. "But I had a little help." She met Clark's eyes and smiled.

"Yeah, that was quite the thing," Henderson said. "Any idea who he is?"

"A great man," Lois responded as she took a blanket from a young officer and wrapped it around her shoulders.

"It is beginning to seem that we may have misjudged him," Henderson replied. "Anyway, I'm going to need to get a statement from you. And then… I'm sorry, but you're going to have to go back to the prison."

"Is that really necessary, Henderson?" Clark asked.

"I'm afraid so. But I'll see she's well taken care of."

"Speaking of which, how's Detective Reed? Is she… Did Deter kill her?"

"She suffered a gun shot to the stomach. But just before I came over here to talk to you, I found out that she's at Metropolis General. They've got her stabilized and she's conscious. Doctors say she'll need surgery. But they're very optimistic," Clark informed her.

"So, Lane, you feel up to giving me your statement?" Henderson asked.

"I think so. Did you get his journal? He stuffed it in his coat when we got out of the car."

"Yeah, we got it, but haven't had a chance to take a look at it. Is it worth reading?"

Lois nodded. "Everything's there — right from his plan to have me framed for Elroy Sykes' murder to the death of Theodore Cooke, the explosion on the ferry and the plan to sabotage Dr. Klein's parachute. Everything."

"Good. That should help expedite things," Henderson responded. "But for now… Officer?"

"Yes, sir?" asked a young man coming over.

"Put Ms. Lane in one of the cars."

The officer removed his handcuffs.

"Those won't be necessary, officer," Henderson informed him.

"But procedure dictates…"

"Officer, Ms. Lane is to be treated with the utmost respect. Is that understood?"

"I understand, sir," said a young man who clearly did not understand at all.


Lois was confused as she was escorted through the prison first thing the next morning. She'd never seen most of these halls before. So where was she being taken? And why? The guard opened a door and gestured her to step through before closing the door behind her. Lois stopped and looked around. The guard hadn't accompanied her. Was this some sort of set-up?

She took in where she was. It was in some sort of reception area. She stepped up to a counter. The young woman behind it looked up.

"Lois Lane?" she asked.

"Yes. Could you tell me…"

Before Lois could finish her question, the young woman rose from behind the counter and disappeared from sight. Lois waited not so patiently for the woman to return. When she did, she was carrying a box. Lois watched curiously as the woman opened the box, removing a brown paper envelope from the top and handing it to Lois.

"Is everything there?" the woman asked.

Lois opened the envelope. Her watch. Her keys. Her wallet. Even a pack of gum she'd had in the pocket of her coat on the day she'd been convicted. Glancing at the box, she even saw the clothes she'd been wearing on that fateful day. She looked up at the woman.

"If that's everything, you need to sign here."

"What's going on?" Lois asked.


The sunshine was almost blinding as Lois stepped through the gate to the Metropolis Women's Prison. But Lois didn't mind. She took a breath of free air, almost expecting that at any moment she'd be tackled by prison guards who had finally realized their mistake.


Lois blinked a couple times, willing her eyes to adjust. When they did, she found her lawyer waiting for her. "Angela? What's going on?"

Angela Winters gestured to her car. She waited until they were both inside and driving away before speaking again. "Inspector Henderson contacted the D.A.'s office who contacted me. There is still a lot of legal paperwork to sort out. But in the meantime, you're out on bail."

"But… where did the money come from?"

"The Daily Planet. Oh, and Perry told me to tell you to get your ass over there and begin writing up the story otherwise he's going to withdraw your bail and throw your ass back in prison — and I'm quoting directly here."

Lois smiled. "That's Perry."


Lois kicked off her shoes before plopping down onto Clark's sofa as she waited for Clark to return from the washroom where he was changing out of his work clothes. He'd promised her a home-cooked meal to celebrate her release from prison. At first, she'd been hesitant — worried that maybe he'd be expecting… something. But considering his excellent stir-fry at the cabin, she'd been unable to resist the invitation.

Working today had been great. She'd worked with Clark typing up the story about her release from prison and the real story behind the ferry disaster. It had been wonderful seeing words appear once again on the screen in front of her as she'd typed up the story. She'd been in such a good mood that she had barely minded Clark's obsession with making sure every 't' was crossed and every 'i' was dotted — figuratively speaking, of course. At least, she suspected that was the reason. After all, Lois didn't do partners, didn't like partners and would never willingly agree to work with a partner. Circumstances had thrown them together. She'd made the best of it. And… okay, so maybe it hadn't been such a bad experience — except for the amount of complaining he did every time they'd break into a suspect's home or work place.

Making it clear that The Demon… Lois couldn't express how much she hated that name. …the flying man had no part in the explosion on the ferry had been one of their primary objectives in the story. It hadn't been particularly difficult after Deter's confession on the bridge. Still, Lois didn't want any lingering doubt. After all, it would stand in the way of what she had in mind.

In truth, that was another reason Lois had decided to come to Clark's for supper tonight. Their discussion at the cabin had been… cut short. But after the flying man's second and third appearances, it was obvious, at least to Lois, that being in the big city where there were so many people getting into deadly trouble on a regular basis, Clark's heart would not allow him to sit idly by. That meant there was only one realistic possibility. And a black wool cap with two eye holes burned into it was not the solution. Now all she needed to do was to convince Clark of that fact. And a supper at his place had seemed the ideal place to accomplish that.

The phone on the coffee table next to her rang and without thinking, she reached over to pick it up.


"Umm… I think I might have the wrong number."

"Are you looking for Clark?" Lois asked, suddenly realizing that she'd picked up Clark's phone.


"Clark's in the washroom right now. Can I take a message?"

"This is his mom… Martha. And you are?"

"Lois Lane."

"The reporter?"


"I saw you on the news being rescued by Cl… that flying man."

A grin quirked at the corner of Lois' mouth. Had she not known that the flying man was Clark, she might well have missed the small slip. But as it was… "That's right, Mrs. Kent. I'm just glad Clark got there in time."

"Was Clark there, too? I didn't see him on the news."

Lois' grin widened. Good comeback. Okay, well she knew that Clark's parents knew who he was so, why not have some fun? "Yes. Although you might not have been able to recognize him in that stupid black mask."

She listened in amusement to the dead silence on the other end of the line.

"Uhh… would Clark happen to be available yet?"

The woman's voice now sounded nervous, immediately cutting through Lois' fun. "I'll see," Lois said before placing the phone on the table and making her way to the washroom. "You're mother's on the line," she called through the door.

"I'll be right there," Clark called back.

Deep in thought, Lois made her way back into the living room. Clark almost beat her to the couch, picking up the phone as she sat down.

"Hi, Mom." Clark's initial greeting was followed by a long period of silence. Finally… "I'm a reporter, too, Mom."

Suddenly, Lois understood. Put him in a lab and dissect him like a frog. Wasn't that the warning Clark's father had always given him? They were afraid that she was about to 'out' Clark. She understood that. After all, she was a reporter. And this was definitely a story. But… "Clark, can I talk to your mother?"

Clark crinkled his eyebrows before speaking into the phone. "Mom, Lois would like to talk to you." He listened to a response before handing Lois the phone.

"Listen, I know you don't know me," Lois began as soon as she took the phone. "And, yes, I am a reporter. But let me assure you that I would do nothing to hurt your son — or you. And I'm well aware that if I published a story about Clark, I'd do both. But… Well, that brings me to the reason I wanted to talk to you. I have an idea."

"What's this idea?" asked a man on the other end of the line, informing Lois that Clark's father was probably on the line now, too.

"Well…" She glanced over at Clark. "First, you should be aware that I brought this subject up with your son a few days ago and he brushed me off, but…"

"Lois, what are you doing?" asked Clark.

Lois rose from the couch, turning her back to Clark. "Mr. and Mrs. Kent, I might not be willing to write the story, but I know that other reporters won't be nearly as accommodating. After all, as I'm sure you recognize, this is a big story — huge. Whoever breaks this would be looking at a Kerth at the very least. Maybe even a Pulitzer."

"So what are you saying?" asked Martha.

"Your son has an inherent need to help. I'm sure you'd agree with me there. He can't seem to help himself. And I assume that's because of the values you've instilled in him. Anyway, I've got an idea of how he might be able to help without fear of getting caught."

"What are you suggesting?" asked Martha, sounding interested now.

"I think he needs some sort of… disguise — something a bit more convincing than pulling a black wool cap over his face — that he can put on when things like the ferry disaster happen. Something so bold that people will never think to look behind the disguise."

"Lois, I don't…" began Clark

She shut him up with a glare.

"I think we need to talk, Mrs. Kent," Lois said.

"Call me Martha," Martha said. "And… I think you're right."

"What are you doing, Martha?" asked her husband.

"Shhh," Martha responded. "Lois, would you put Clark on the line?"


It was incredible. The last two times Lois had flown in Clark's arms, she'd been unable to truly appreciate the experience. But now, on this impromptu trip to Kansas, she was able to take in everything. And it was awesome in the truest sense of the word.

She glanced at her traveling companion, but he was looking straight ahead. He was obviously still upset that she had gone over his head to his mother with her idea. But she was right. Lois Lane never backed down when she was right.

Slowly, her eyes traced the profile of the man carrying her. With the wind blowing his hair back and his glasses off, he was incredibly handsome. He'd taken off his glasses for the flight which Lois found somewhat odd — as if the glasses and flying somehow didn't go together in his mind. But why the glasses in the first place? He'd told her that he had incredible vision. So what was the deal? Was it some sort of disguise to make him appear more vulnerable? A slow smile made its way across her face as an idea began to develop.

She looked around as they slowed, flying over the fields of Kansas until a small farmhouse appeared on the horizon. As he landed, setting her down, she began to have a case of nerves. Meeting his parents was… scary somehow. She couldn't say exactly why. After all, he was nothing to her — except perhaps a friend although that was still somewhat in question. But for a reason she couldn't name, she wanted his parents to like her.

"Hey, relax," Clark said as he began leading her to the house. "They'll love you."

"I'm not very good with parents." It ran through her mind that his folks likely had someone very different than her in mind for their son. Someone meek and mellow, who would put her life on hold to support her husband. And that was not Lois. She gave her head a shake. She wasn't the little woman, coming home to meet the parents. She was the co-conspirator, trying to win over the mother in hopes of pressuring the son to go along with her scheme.

They had just arrived at the top of the back steps when the door was suddenly thrown open and she stepped back, loath to interrupt the heart-warming welcome between son and parents. A kiss on the cheek was the best she could hope for during a reunion with her parents. So she felt somewhat lost when she observed the bear- hugs taking place on the porch of the old farmhouse.

"So…" said Martha when she was done greeting her son. "…you must be Lois Lane."

"Yes, Mrs. Kent," Lois said, cursing the slight tremble in his voice.

"My, she sure is pretty."

Lois pushed a strand of hair behind her ear.

"It's okay if I say that, isn't it?" Martha turned to ask Clark.

"Ask Lois, Mom."

"It's fine, Mrs. Kent."

"I told you on the phone, my name's Martha. And this is Clark's father, Jonathan."

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Kent."

Jonathan chuckled. "It's Jonathan. Believe it or not, Mr. Kent is still my father."

"I read your story about Bonnie and Clyde," Martha said. "It was fascinating. One thing I never really understood though. Were they the real gangsters or were they just… copies?"

Lois glanced at Clark, somewhat surprised at the question. "Well, they were clones. But they seemed to retain all the memories and behaviors of the originals."

"Who would even think of bringing back someone like that?" said Clark's father. "I mean, if you could raise someone from the dead to talk to, why not Churchill or Gandhi? What could a person really learn by resurrecting someone like Bonnie and Clyde?"

"I read that Hamilton was planning on doing research into gene manipulation," Martha said. "Hoping to find a way to… manipulate the criminal gene. So he brought back the worst of the worst." She looked at Lois who nodded her confirmation. "Anyway, that's a story for another time. So… let's not stand out here in the cold. Come in. Come in." Martha took Lois' arm and led her into the house.

"Thanks for having me, Mrs. Kent," said Lois.

"I'm glad you came. And I'm very interested in what ideas you might have to keep my son out of trouble."


Lois sat in apprehensive silence when she'd finished explaining to the Kents what she had in mind. They were sitting around the kitchen table, pie and tea on the table in front of them. Lois' pie, to this point, had gone almost untouched. Not because the pie wasn't good. The small bite she'd had was excellent. But between the fact that she was nervous and that she'd been doing most of the talking, the pie had been left uneaten.

"So… what do you think?" she finally asked.

"I told you, Lois," Clark immediately began. "I don't want to become some hero. I just want to live my life in peace."

"And that would be great, Clark. But you seem to have a few more problems doing that than saying it. You've been caught on television four times since you came to Metropolis."

"But, Lois… All that flashy stuff… That's just not me."

"I think that's Lois' point, honey," Martha said.

"Don't tell me that you agree with Lois?" Clark asked.

"I think she's got a good idea. It just wouldn't be you to sit back if there was something you could do to help. Your father and I taught you better than that. But if you keep going the way you're going, it's only a matter of time before someone 'outs' you. What did you have in mind for his face?" Martha asked, obviously a long way ahead of her son in her thinking about this.


"Nothing as in you haven't thought about it?" asked Jonathan. "Or nothing as in… nothing."

"Nothing as in nothing." When everyone just stared at her in disbelief, Lois rose to her feet. "Clark, how long have you been wearing the glasses?" she asked, coming around to stand behind him.

"Ever since my early teens. I just felt… more comfortable, I guess. The lenses are made of crystal lead — to keep me from accidentally…"

"…x-raying the girls' locker room," Lois completed.

"Yeah. I guess. But I don't get…"

"So we…" She took Clark's glasses off and placed them on the table. "And we…" She pushed his hair back off his face. "Basically we just change his looks enough that people don't look at him and see Clark Kent."

"But why not a mask?"

"A mask tells reporters that he's hiding something," Lois said, getting into her argument now. "But without a mask… There's nothing to uncover. We just make Clark Kent the one wearing the mask." She picked up the glasses.

"I like it," said Martha. "So we distract people with the flashy costume. And then we make them think there is nothing more to learn about him by letting them see his face."


"So what are you thinking for costumes? For some reason, I see a cape."

"It would look great when he's flying."

"Exactly. And what about…"

"What do you think of all this, Dad?" Clark asked, interrupting the two women. "You've been pretty quiet sitting over there."

"I learned years ago not to interrupt when you're mother has an idea. And…" He gestured to the two women at the table. "…something tells me it just got worse. You might as well accept that you're not going to get a word in edgewise until they've talked themselves out."

Martha shot her husband a dirty look. "So, Lois, what do you say I pull out my old sewing machine, and we see what we can come up with?"


Lois and Martha lay sprawled out on the bed in the spare room, scraps of material littering every corner. They'd been at this for hours and still they hadn't come up with anything that was remotely satisfying to either of them. Although, where Martha had come up with so many unusual fabrics on such short notice was a mystery to Lois.

"I think he needs a name. Maybe that will help us find the right costume," Lois said.

"Well, after he saw the globe, he told us that his birth name was Kal-El. What about using that?"

Lois shook her head. "I think we need something more…"


Lois nodded.

"Well, what about… something…"

"…bigger than life. Like Splendid Man."

"Or Majestic Man."

"Or Brawny Man."

"Or Magnificent Man."

"Or Glorious Man."

"What about Vainglorious?" Clark called from the washroom.

"You just worry about the costume," Martha called, causing Lois to grin.

"I suppose we could always call him Resplendent Man," Lois suggested.

They looked at each other for a moment before simultaneously saying, "Nah."

"So… what about that one? How does it fit?" Martha called into the washroom.

"I don't know, Mom," Clark called back.

"Well, come out here so we can see it."

The door slowly opened and into the room, wearing a blue body suit with a red cape and yellow belt stepped Clark. Both women felt their breaths catch in their throats as they stared at him.

"I knew it," said Clark. "I look stupid." He turned to head back to the washroom.

Lois immediately jumped up, grabbing his arm to stop him and turn him back towards them. "No. No… You look…" She swept her eyes slowly down his body. "…great."

She met Clark's eyes and they stood there for a moment as if lost. Lois was relieved when Martha joined them, pulling on Clark's cape to straighten it.

"It's a little tight," Clark said.

"Cuts down on wind resistance," Martha said as the two women led him over to the mirror so that he could see it himself.

"Well… what do you think?" asked Clark.

"One thing's for sure," Martha said. "No one's going to be looking at your face."

"Mo…om," Clark groaned as the two women burst out laughing.

"Still… there's something… something missing," Martha continued before being struck with a thought. She rushed over to the bed, pulling a trunk out from beneath it and opening it.

Lois and Clark watched as she searched through the trunk, obviously on a mission. And then, a slow smile lit up her face.

"The baby blanket we found you in so many years ago and…" She pulled out the S-symbol, holding it up. "…this."

Lois recognized it immediately. The same symbol that had been on the ship and the outfits his parents had been wearing during the message in the globe. "That's perfect. It's… super. That's it!"

"What?" asked Martha and Clark.



"So what do you think, Clark?" Martha asked. Clark was still in the costume. On the other hand, the scenery had changed. They had once again retreated to the kitchen table to enjoy a cup of coffee. "After all, the decision is ultimately yours."

"I just… I don't exactly feel… like me," Clark said, looking down at himself.

"That's the point," Lois said. "When you're in the suit, you're not Clark. You're Superman."

"I don't…"

"Clark is who you are," Lois continued. "Superman is what you can do. Of course, that means you need to invent a personality for him. Maybe… try deepening your voice and… fold your arms across your chest."

Clark did as instructed.

"Put your feet a little further apart, honey," Martha added.

When Clark followed the instructions this time, Martha and Lois shared a look.


"It's just…"


Clark let out a breath, sinking into a chair. "What do you think, Dad?"

"I agree with your mother. The choice is ultimately yours, but… I think it could work."

All three sat there then, waiting silently for Clark's final pronouncement.

"Well… I guess if I have an effective disguise, it will allow me to help when things like the ferry explosion happen without worrying that someone will recognize me."


Lois pulled the Daily Planet car into a parking place at Metropolis General Hospital on her way into the Daily Planet first thing the next morning. Her first night in her own bed, in her own apartment had been wonderful. She'd almost been tempted to spend the day there — putting away the things Clark had brought back from the cabin and just… getting familiar with her own things again. But there was too much to do. She wanted to check on Detective Reed before heading into the Daily Planet. Although she no longer worked there, she, at the very least, needed to return the Daily Planet car.

She made her way to the room she'd been told Reed was in, stopping outside the door when she heard voices.

"It's over, Randall." Detective Reed's voice was unmistakable. "This whole experience has showed me that I deserve something better — not someone else's leftovers."

"But I love you," Warden Randall responded.

"You're not free to love me. And I can't live with the guilt anymore. I'm sorry."

Lois stepped back, staying out of view when Randall Bowers made his way out of Reed's room. Lois gave a ten count before planting a smile on her face and stepping into the doorway. Knocking on the doorframe brought Reed's head up to look in her direction. It was obvious to Lois that Reed was fighting back tears.

"So… how you feeling?" Lois asked, keeping her voice deceptively light.

"Not too bad," Reed said, gesturing Lois into the room. "They tell me I'll be up and around in no time."

"Well, that's great. After all, what would I do without my Pepe Le Pew?"

The reference brought a genuine smile to Reed's face. "Uhh… I knew you'd come round, mon little chunky of chocolate," Reed said, once again reverting to her bad French accent. "We will be ze lovers in no time."

Lois laughed, taking a seat on the side of Reed's bed. "So tell me… what were you doing storming into Max's office alone to arrest him?"

"Not you, too," Reed groaned. "Henderson and Randall have both bawled me out for that already."

"Oh, don't get me wrong. I'd probably have done the same thing. It just seems… not exactly police procedure. I'd have thought you had to wait for backup — or maybe bring some of the prison guards with you."

"Well, it wasn't exactly my intention to attempt to arrest Deter before backup arrived. But when I went back to the cell to tell you what was going on and discovered both you and my passkey gone, it wasn't as if I had much choice but to go to the only logical place for you to be."

"Oh. But… well, why not bring some guards?"

"There wasn't time. Besides, prison guards aren't trained as cops. They wouldn't be qualified to serve as backup in that sort of situation. That's what the boys in blue are for."

Lois smiled. "Well, I have to say, I'm glad you did come. Even if…" She gestured to the bandages on Reed's stomach.

"All part of the service," Reed said.

From there, their conversation proceeded quite naturally until something caught Reed's attention. Lois turned to see the small television playing softly in the corner of the room.

Reaching for the remote control, Reed turned it up.

"The plane has been flying circles in the sky over Metropolis for the past hour, trying to burn up its fuel before attempting a landing," the anchor said as the screen played pictures of a jumbo 747. "When they couldn't tell if the wheels had come down, they contacted the tower. Apparently a fly-by the tower revealed that the front wheel was only part way out. So now all we can do is wait to see if the airplane will survive the landing. Wait! What's that?" the anchor asked as a brightly colored object appeared next to the plane.

Both Lois and Reed automatically leaned closer to the screen to get a better look.

"Ten to one odds it's the flying man," said Reed.

Lois smiled. It was amazing how quickly people seemed to have quit calling him The Demon. Her mind flashed back to what it felt like flying in his arms on their trip to Kansas. She felt a sloppy grin settle on her face.

"So… what was it like flying with him?" asked Reed.

"What?" asked a startled Lois in return.

"When he caught you after Deter pushed you off that bridge."

"Oh, right. That."

"Of course that! Don't tell me you've forgotten already."

"No, it's just… well, it was so short, and I think I was in shock. I can't say I really remember it." Lois was grateful when Reed didn't follow-up on that line of questioning and instead, both women returned their attention to the television screen.


Clark took a deep breath, flying up next to the cockpit. When he saw the startled looks on the faces of the pilots, he almost lost his nerve. Then, planting a smile on his face, he gave them a small wave and pointed down. When they nodded, he realized he'd made his point.

Flying under the plane, he quickly pulled the front tire the rest of the way out, causing it to click into place. His ears told him, even before he saw their faces, that the pilots realized their landing gear was now down. Floating back up next to the window, he made a gesture towards the airport. They nodded and signaled to the tower what had happened and that they were coming in. Clark accompanied them through the landing, just to be certain there were no other problems. He waited until the airplane came to a complete stop and fire engines and people began running towards them before taking to the sky once again.

"Wait!" yelled a man holding a notepad.

Clark turned, instantly recognizing Myerson. For a moment, he was tempted to run, to hide. But drawing on every ounce of courage he possessed, he floated around, folding his arms across his chest and landing in front of them, taking up the stance Lois and his mother had suggested.

"Who are you?" asked Myerson.

"I'm…" Clark hesitated. He couldn't do it. He couldn't call himself Superman. It seemed… arrogant. "I'm a friend," he said, remembering to keep his voice deep.

"Do you have time for an interview?" asked Myerson.

"Or a press conference?" said Murray Mindlin.

"Not at the moment," Clark responded before pausing. "I promised Ms. Lane an exclusive last night when I rescued her off the bridge," Clark said, pleased with himself for finding a way to be sure the press would link him with the flying man in the mask. It was important there be no question that there were not two flying men.

"But surely…"

"I'll tell you what," said Clark. "I'll give a press conference tomorrow it you like, after I've fulfilled my obligation to Ms. Lane."

He took off then, disappearing into the sky as a growing number of reporters yelled questions after him.


After Lois returned the car keys to the motor pool, she headed into the newsroom, determined to find out what her colleagues were saying about the newly unveiled hero. When she saw the majority of them gathered around the televisions, she joined them there. After a few minutes, it became obvious that although some people were still skeptical, the majority seemed to think he was the best thing to happen to Metropolis since sliced bread.

Turning from where she was watching the television, Lois noticed that Cat was leaning over Stan's shoulder. Seeing Cat leaning over a man's shoulder wasn't exactly an unusual sight. Or wouldn't have been if that man hadn't been Stan, the paper's editorial cartoonist, an over-weight balding man in his mid- fifties. Not Cat's usual type.

Curious, Lois made her way closer.

"No! The color's wrong!" Cat said.

"You said 'brown,'" Stan responded.

Lois glanced around Cat to see that Stan was attempting to draw the new superhero who was looking decidedly like a comic book character.

"Not brown brown. Not dull, insipid mud brown… More vibrant, more radiant. Bedroom eyes!" Cat exclaimed when she finally figured out how to say it.

"But… well, if he's an alien, maybe he doesn't get the old… you know… itch," Jimmy said.

Jimmy's comment made Lois realize that she wasn't the only one who had joined the group. Jimmy was there. And so, ironically, was Clark. He must have just returned after his big debut as Superman. It was still amazing to her how fast he was able to move.

Lois had to fight back a giggle that rose involuntarily in her throat at the startled look on Clark's face in response to Jimmy's comment.

"One way to find out," Cat said suggestively.

This time, Lois couldn't keep quiet. "A possible visitor from another planet arrives on Earth and all you can think of is hauling him off to your lair and trying him out?"

"Test drive, Lois. A couple of hours behind the wheel, I'd know for sure if we're talking import or domestic." Then, before Lois could respond, Cat turned back to Stan. "No! The features are too coarse."

Lois glanced over at Clark who was making his way quietly back to his desk.

"Think noble," Cat continued. "Think…"

"Greek God," Lois murmured, her eyes firmly on Clark.

His head snapped up, reminding her only too late of his extraordinary hearing powers. She quickly looked back at Cat and Stan.

"So… what's this for?" Lois asked.

"So far no one has got a clear picture of this new hero. Perry's livid. We need to have something for the front page of the Daily Planet tomorrow morning," Cat explained. "No. The chin should be more… chiseled. It's a chin that stands for something."

Raising her eyebrows, Lois watched for a moment more before turning back towards Clark's desk. She was half way there when she hesitated. Clark looked… depressed. She glanced at Cat and then back at Clark as Clark's comments about becoming an aberration flitted through her mind. Jimmy's question about whether he was… a sexual creature was obviously playing on his mind. So how did she… A slow smile crossed her face as she covered the remaining distance to Clark's desk. When he didn't look up as she approached, she knew she was right. He was obsessing.

Leaning over his shoulder, she breathed into his ear. "Definitely an import. Far too good to be domestic." Before he could respond, she turned and walked away, knowing he was staring after her.


She glanced back at the sound of him calling her name to find that he was jogging over to her.

"I was just wondering…"

She braced herself, wondering if her off-the-cuff comment had made him think that she was now willing to pursue a relationship.

He glanced around nervously, making sure no one was close enough to overhear, before speaking. "I was just wondering if you wanted to do that interview I promised you."

Her eyebrows rose. He had remembered his promise. She glanced around. "Yeah, but… well, it might be more convincing if you…" She made a wavy motion with her hand. "That way no one will question that Superman gave me the interview."

Clark cringed. "I still don't understand why we can't just call me Kal-El."

"Image, Clark. People need a bigger-than-life superhero."

"But isn't that sort of… an arrogant name?"

"You won't be the one giving yourself that name. I will. Now quit belly-aching, go change into the suit and get back here. Jimmy will be thrilled to have a chance to use that camera he carries around all the time. Besides, it will save you from having to look at that hideous picture Stan is drawing." She gave him a small push towards the elevators. "Go."


Jason Trask moved closer, using the crowds of reporters as a cover as they began to gather in front of a platform outside the Daily Planet. He'd spent the morning pouring over the article Lois Lane had written for the paper on this so called… Superman. No other name had been given for him. Trask preferred his original name. The Demon. The article had claimed he was from a now defunct planet called Krypton and was here to fight for Truth, Justice and the American way. But Trask was no fool. This Superman was nothing more than the front runner for an alien invasion. And his attempt now to win the hearts and minds of the people of Earth made him even more dangerous than when he was blowing up ferries.

Ignoring the crowd, Trask made his way cautiously towards the front of the crowd as The Demon floated slowly to the platform to land in front of the microphones. The oos and aws that accompanied The Demon's arrival made Trask feel literally sick to his stomach.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," began The Demon, "let me just begin by saying that how pleased I am to be able to stand before you. I'm hoping in the coming weeks and months that we will get to know each other very well. But for now, I'm prepared to answer any questions you might have for me."

"What happened at the ferry?"

"I was nearby when I heard an explosion. So I donned the mask and went to see what I could do to help."

"Why the mask?" asked another reporter.

"I was new here — and wasn't sure how I'd be received. I guess…" He held up the mask. "…not one of my better ideas."

This comment was followed by laughter from the crowd.

Trask ignored the questions as he continued to inch closer to the platform. When he was finally there, he reached under his coat and removed a small box. The break in at his warehouse recently left him with the distinct impression that The Demon had been affected by something in or around that ship — otherwise it would never have been abandoned on the floor in the middle of the warehouse. An inventory of the warehouse that followed revealed that a small globe that had been found with the ship was missing. Between that and the symbol on both the ship and The Demon's chest told him there was a connection. And something in the warehouse had hurt The Demon. He had a theory about that.

Slowly, he opened the box. The Demon's voice faltered and the alien stumbled slightly. Trask quickly closed the box. Not here. Not now. Not while the entire world was singing The Demon's praises. But soon… very soon… Yes. Trask would save the world from this threat — especially now that he knew he had the means to do it.


It was mid-afternoon and Lois found that she was unexpectedly nervous as the doors to the elevator slid open, leaving her at the top of the stairs to the bullpen of the Daily Planet. She took a deep breath, relishing the smell of printer's ink. She no longer worked there — at least officially. Oh sure, she'd come in to work with Clark on the stories about the ferry and the overturn of her conviction. And then yesterday, she'd been there when Superman had 'dropped in' for his interview. But she wasn't exactly an employee.

And none of that meant Perry was going to be willing to take her back on a full time basis. After all, he had his quota of reporters — at least to the best of her knowledge. Besides, how was Perry supposed to trust her investigative skills after she'd simply accepted her conviction for Sykes' murder?

She made her way to Perry's office and knocked on the door.

"Come in," Perry growled.

She opened the door and made her way inside, closing the door softly behind her.

"What can I do for you, honey?"

"I… sort of need a job," she said.

Perry crinkled his eyebrows. "Well, it just so happens I have an opening."

"Really? Don't tell me it's in sports. 'Cause maybe my dad was…"

"Relax, Lois. It's on the city beat. Besides, did you really think I'd let the reporter who pulled in the first Superman exclusive get away?"

Lois let out a breath. "Thanks, Perry."

Perry gave her a wink. Then, when she continued standing there, he continued. "So… what are you doing standing around here? Get to work," he barked.

Lois quickly hustled out of the room, looking around the newsroom until her eyes found Clark's desk. Clark's desk. She found herself amazed at how easily that desk had become his — even in her mind. For a reason she couldn't explain, the idea of Clark using that desk didn't bother her at all.

He wasn't there so she headed over, wondering if she could find a free desk close to his. She stopped, confused, when she realized that all his stuff was gone. She gave her head a shake. Trust Clark to think that she'd want her own desk back and find another one for himself. But where was the man himself.

"Jimmy," she called when, although she couldn't see Clark, she spotted Jimmy.

"Hey, Lois. You back?"


"That's great."

"I think so, too. By the way, do you know where Clark is?"


"Gone as in…"

"I was told he handed in his resignation this morning. Hey, are you okay?"

"Uhhh… yeah," Lois responded in something of a daze.

"Because you look a little pale. Why don't you sit down and I'll…"

His voice trailed off when Lois turned and headed back to Perry's office without so much as another word.


Clark didn't bother looking up from his packing when he heard a knock on the door to his apartment. "Come in," he yelled from his bedroom. "It's open."

His hands hesitated slightly when the scent he'd come to associate with Lois Lane was picked up by his incredible olfactory sense. For a moment, he had to fight off the feeling of intoxication he always experienced when she was in close proximity. He'd made his decision. Her being here did not change anything.


"Hi," Clark responded, glancing at her before returning to his task, hoping the tedious activity would help him stay strong, stay focused. If she were here to assuage her own guilt, which she undoubtedly was, he had no intention of helping her do it. Not that he wanted her to feel guilty, of course. But he had no intention of staying in Metropolis just so she could tell herself that she had not driven him away.

She had made it more than clear where he stood in her life. He was a notch on her garter belt, a conquest, a one time roll in the hay — no more. And by her comments, he knew that he wasn't the first — and in all likelihood wouldn't be the last. 'I should know. I've been here before.' Those words had echoed in his mind on a regular basis since she'd uttered them.

She would be cleared of her charges. He had also been vindicated. And so, it was time to move on, to find a life for himself where he was not tormented daily by thoughts and images of Lois Lane.

"I talked to Perry," Lois said. "Clark, you don't have to leave. Perry made it clear that he wants both of us."

"Hmph." So he was right. That was the only reason she was there.

"What do you think you're doing, Clark? Quitting your job at the Daily Planet. Have you gone completely insane?"

"It was your job, Lois. Besides, I thought you'd be happy to see me go," Clark said, continuing to fold his clothes and put them in a box. "And I don't have to stay here to be Superman. He can work out of anywhere. Or are you afraid of losing your source to the latest Superman story?"

He felt bad when he saw her flinch and knew by the confusion on her face that she had no idea what had made her the brunt of his attack. He turned back to his packing, determined not to hurt her again.

"You know that's not it. I just…" She hesitated. "I don't want you to leave."

"Why would you care if I leave or not?" he asked, forcefully putting a shirt in the box and turning towards her, his promise not to hurt being wiped from his mind by her last statement. She didn't want him. Yet she didn't want him to go. How dare she? "You've made it abundantly clear how you feel about me. I was another notch on your garter belt — nothing more. So why should it matter to you if I stay or not?"

She looked down.

"Come on, Lois — why?" He walked over to her, backing her up against the door frame placing a hand on the wood beside her head as he leaned closer, demanding an answer. Let her deny it if she dared. Their eyes met and locked for a long moment. "Why?"

"I…" She broke eye contact, looking down.

"Why?" he asked again. "Why should I stay?"

"We're friends," she finally managed to get out.

"Friends." His voice was cold, causing her again to meet his eyes. "Lois, do you have any idea how hard it is to work next to you every day and not be allowed to touch you, to kiss you, to make love to you? How do I go back to 'friends' after…" He made an erratic gesture with his free hand. "…everything?"

She wanted to break eye contact but couldn't seem to bring herself to do it.

"How do I want less? How can you expect me to want less?" he asked, continuing to stand there, just staring into her eyes for a long moment. "Look, just forget it," he finally said when she still failed to respond. Turning, he headed back to his boxes.

"Clark, don't…"

"Why not? I love you. I want more than just to work next to you every day."

"Clark, you don't even know me! How can you claim you love me?"

Clark stopped his packing, turning towards her as a new idea suddenly struck him. Was it possible his assumptions had been wrong? Was it possible that Lois' continual withdrawal from him had more to do with her fears that he didn't really love her than indifference on her part?

"Clark, can we… talk?" she asked suddenly.

"Isn't that what we're doing?"

"No, I mean, cut past all…" She gestured with her hands. "Look, can we just sit down and really talk? No games. Just… talk."

Confused by this sudden development, he gestured her towards the living room and waited until she sat down in a chair before taking a seat on the couch.

She studied her hands for a long moment before looking up. "You're going to have to forgive me if I don't get this quite right. I'm not exactly… used to opening up. So I'm not exactly sure where to start."

"Just tell me what you feel."

She met his eyes for a moment before looking back down at her hands. "Feelings are transient," she said softly. "Look, maybe it's best if I just told you where I'm coming from here." She took a deep breath. "I've not been involved with a lot of men. Three actually — other than you." She looked up then. "I take it you know what I mean by 'involved.'"

Clark nodded, slightly surprised to discover that the number was a lot smaller than he'd come to believe — especially when he already knew two. "Luthor, Deter and…"

Lois looked back at her hands. "Luthor and I never… Okay, look, that's not important here. Claude was my… first. He was a colleague at the paper. Older than me. And I was in love… or thought I was. I was working on a big story and… the next morning when I woke up, he was gone. So was my story. He even won an award for that. Didn't even thank me for my… 'input.' Anyway, when the relationship ended, the rumors at the Planet were wild. It was a long time before I could walk into a room without it falling silent."

"Lois, I'm not…"

"Please, Clark. Just let me finish — before I lose my nerve."

He remained silent, allowing her to continue.

"My third… lover…" She stumbled slightly on the word. "…you know. Maxwell Deter."

Clark was impressed with how quickly she had regained her composure after using a word she was obviously not comfortable with. Everything about this conversation was hard for her. He could tell that by the way she kept hesitating. But for reasons he didn't yet understand, she was stepping out on a limb that she feared would be cut off behind her. And she was doing it for him. That had to mean something.

"It's my second… that I want to talk to you about." She took a breath. "His name was Dan. He worked for the D.E.A. He'd been asking me out for weeks. I kept saying no. Anyway, we ended up working on a big story together. It was intense and exciting and… we ended up… in bed." She paused. "I'm not sure why. I've thought about it a lot since. And the only thing I can think of is that the excitement of the story caught up with me and… I let things get carried away. I know. That's a lousy excuse. It never should have happened."

"Did you love him?"

Her eyebrows furrowed. "I told myself I did. I mean, why else would I have…" Her voice trailed off. "We tried to make it work, but… we had nothing in common. Nothing. He had this weird obsession with modern art that I couldn't… I guess that's neither here nor there. The point is that the feelings I had for him… Clark, they were nothing more than… adrenalin induced lust. But because I couldn't let myself believe I was capable of a one-night-stand, I pushed the relationship, insisting that we had to make a go of it."

Clark suddenly understood where she was going with this. Claude, a colleague, had made her doubt her ability to know someone else's heart. Dan had made her doubt her ability to know her own heart.

"Are you seeing a pattern here?" she asked.

Clark nodded.

"Obviously, I'm attracted to you. And you seem to be attracted to me. And maybe if we hadn't started things out so fast, or in such uncertain times, or if we didn't work together…"

"So let me quit — and date me."

"What?" asked Lois, obviously completely thrown by his suggestion. "Clark, you can't quit. You're too good. And someday you'll be great. You can't…"

"You mean more to me than a job — even a great job."

"But… You don't even know me. How can you give up a great job for someone you don't even know?"

"I know enough."

"Like what?"

"I know you fight for the little guy. I've read your stories for years."

"It's my job."

Clark shook his head. "You could have stopped investigating this story when we found the evidence we needed to prove that you weren't guilty. But you didn't. You wanted my name cleared. You wanted to be sure Deter couldn't do any further damage. No. Lois, you're never going to convince me that this was for a story. It was about truth. It was about justice. It was about everything that you created Superman to be."

"They're your values, too."

Clark cocked his head to the side. "See. So you know a thing or two about me, too."

"Clark, I just think…"

"So what else do I know about Lois Lane?" he continued, interrupting her response. "I know that you've got a stubborn streak a mile long — especially when you believe you're right — which is most of the time. And I know that you're brilliant — which is why you usually are right. You have a tendency to be impulsive — jumping into the pool without checking the water level. And you know no fear when it comes to investigating a story."

Lois looked down, chewing on her lower lip.

"I also know you're a hopeless romantic. I suspect you cry at old movies and have a secret stash of romance novels hidden somewhere."

Her head snapped up. "How could you possible know…"

"But you've quit believing that real romance exists," Clark continued. "You want to believe. But you don't." He paused, allowing that to sink in, before continuing. "I can see it when I look in your eyes. I can feel it whenever we kiss or touch. But real romance does exist, Lois — just as love exists.

"And I know you're passionate. You're passionate about your beliefs. You're passionate about your job. And god knows you were passionate when we made love. I know you put on a hard exterior. But behind it all, you've got one of the softest hearts I've ever known."

Sometime during his monologue, tears had begun to well up in her eyes. He moved off the couch to come over and crouch in front of her. Reaching out to cup her cheek with his hand, he forced her to meet his eyes.

"And you are, without question, the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Do you have any idea at all the feelings you can evoke in me just by looking in my direction? When you hurt, I hurt. Your victories are my victories. In my heart I believe that you and I… we're soul mates, Lois. So don't tell me I don't know you well enough to be in love with you."

Lois let out a soft breath. "For a spaceman, you're the most romantic person I've ever known. Earth guys don't stand a chance against you," she whispered.

A small smile quirked at one corner of Clark's mouth.

"But, Clark, I just don't think…" Her voice died when his thumb fell across her mouth.

He hesitated for a second, allowing his thumb to trail over her lips, gently tracing them. "Then don't think." Moving slowly, he leaned towards her until his lips were less than an inch away from hers. "Just feel."

Still, he didn't move closer — leaving the choice up to her. Her eyes drifted to his lips before, almost as if she had no will of her own, she reached up, running a hand gently down his cheek as she closed the remaining distance between them, touching her lips, ever so gently, to his before pulling back. A soft moan rose in her throat as she moved back in. Lips gently probing, questioning, as heat flooded through her body. Still… Although it took everything she had, she managed to break the kiss. "I…" Her voice trailed off when her eyes again met his.

"Do you love me?" Clark asked.

"I…" She searched his eyes. He was crouching before her, completely open, completely vulnerable. He'd laid it all on the line. Amazing, especially given the number of times she'd pushed him away since they'd first met. And the way he was looking at her… making her feel as if she was the only woman in the world. Her heart responded. Yes. She did love him — probably more deeply than she had ever loved anyone in her entire life. Was it real? At the moment, it sure felt real. She broke eye contact. "Oh, god, I do love you, but…"

His lips were again on hers, cutting her off.


"Be fearless."


"Lois, I know you know the meaning of being fearless. I saw it so many times over the last few days. Do you think this doesn't scare the hell out of me? I'm hopelessly in love with a woman who has done her best, over and over again, to push me away. I'm scared. But… I think that this… whatever it is between us is worth the risk. I guess… I guess what I'm asking is that you show some of that fearless spirit with us. Risk your heart. Take a chance on me… on us. I can't promise you it will work out. But I really believe it's worth the risk."

"You're worth the risk," she corrected with barely more than a whisper.

"Lois…" He pulled her into his arms, kissing her once again.

She let out one small breath, conceding defeat before responding to his actions. Her hands snaked up his chest and around his neck as he dropped to his knees between her legs, pulling her closer to make his body one with hers.

Finally, he broke the kiss, leaning his forehead against hers. "You're really high maintenance, you know that?"

She smiled. "But I'm worth it."

He moved away far enough to look into her sparkling eyes. "Yes, you are," he responded, kissing her once again. "So…" he began, moving down to nibble on her neck. "…does this mean we're going to try dating?" When she didn't respond, he looked up.

"On one condition."


"You can't quit your job. Perry will kill me if you quit. Seems to think you're a good reporter or some other such nonsense."

"Are you sure, Lois? Because I don't want you to…"

A slow smile lit up her face as he spoke. "Just kiss me, lunkhead," she finally cut in.


"In the best sense of the word."

"There's a best sense to that…"

Clark's question was never finished because Lois, having grown impatient with their banter, chose that moment to bury her hand in his hair, pulling his mouth to hers. One kiss quickly led to two and soon the heat, the passion that had existed between them since the moment of their first meeting could not be held back any longer. Hands began to wander. Clothes mysteriously began to come undone. His hands slid under her blouse and up the bare skin of her stomach. Suddenly, he stopped.

"Lois," Clark whispered, pulling back. "Maybe we should just take things…"

"Take me to bed, Clark," Lois said, cutting him off.

A rush of wind and they were in his bedroom. The boxes on his bed were quickly pushed aside as they became lost in each other to the exclusion of the rest of the world.


Lois woke to the sound of whooshing air. It took her a moment to realize where she was — tucked snugly in Clark's bed. A glance at the window told her it was the middle of the night. They'd spent hours 'getting to know' each other. She grinned. Of course, they'd reacquainted themselves with each other's bodies. But then… she could still believe their talk. She might not know how he squeezed his toothpaste or whether he remembered to put the seat down on the toilet, but what she did know was that he had one of the truest hearts of anyone she'd ever known. She only hoped Perry hadn't fired them both for disappearing all day. She stretched and sighed. Clark must have heard a call for help.

She still wasn't entirely sure all this was really happening. But Clark had been right about one thing. She was willing to risk her life for work, so why not risk it for love? And if what she was feeling now was any indication… she really could get used to this love stuff.

She couldn't believe how lucky she was. After everything she'd done to push him away, he'd come back swinging, laying his feelings on the line in an effort to get her to open her heart. A grin quirked at the corners of her mouth as something she'd seen years ago on The Bugs Bunny Show flashed through her mind. Pepe Le Pew. 'Most men would get discouraged by now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men.' Detective Reed would be proud.

In fact, at this moment, she wasn't entirely sure why she'd been fighting this so hard. She might still have a lot to learn about Clark Kent — and he about her. But what she did know was that she absolutely adored him. It was almost as if her body had understood that this was the real thing even before she'd allowed her mind to accept it.

If they had met at a different time in her life, maybe things would have happened slowly. Maybe she'd have taken the time to really get to know him before allowing things to develop beyond friendship. And maybe if they hadn't slept together, he'd have been slower in admitting his feelings for her as well. Still, none of that mattered now. They might have taken things further, faster than she was really comfortable with. And now they might be struggling to catch up. But she had no intention of walking away from what she suspected was the best thing to ever happen to her.

Growling slightly, she shifted positions as she allowed herself to think about his embarrassed confession after they'd made love. She'd been lying across his chest, completely overwhelmed. So overwhelmed, in fact, that she couldn't recall the exact wording of what she'd said. But she did remember the essence of it — some question about where he had learned to make love like that. The way he suddenly shifted beneath her had brought her head up so that she could look at him.

"Clark?" She hadn't been entirely sure what she'd said wrong.

"I know that after…" He made an erratic gesture to the two of them. "…you've got no reason to believe me. It's just… Well, before us I'd never actually…"

"Never actually… what?"

"You need to understand. I'd… dated. But… that thing? The intimacy threshold? The big threshold." He had emphasized the word 'big.' "Until our first night together, I'd never actually… crossed it. I'd stepped right up, gotten a good look, but…"

"Omigod." Lois could hardly believe what she was hearing.

"I'm not exactly normal. So I had always asked myself, do I really belong? Am I supposed to have a life with someone or…?"

"Omigod." Couldn't she find something else to say? But for some reason she couldn't quite wrap her mind around the concept. Although, thinking back now, he had let her take the lead that first time. At the time she'd just thought he was letting her do what she wanted… needed. But now… wow!

"Lois, are you listening? 'Cause I'm kind of pouring my heart out here."

"Huh? Oh right. It's just…" Words failed her. "But… oh, god. Did I… Were you waiting for marriage or something? Did I take that from you? 'Cause it just never crossed my mind that you… I mean, I didn't think that… Why didn't you tell me to stop? 'Cause I would have…"

Her comments where cut off when Clark suddenly rolled her over beneath him and took her breath away with a kiss. When the kiss finally broke, she could hardly remember her own name, much less what she'd been saying.

"I didn't stop you because I was already in love with you. Lois, you're the woman I've been waiting for. I have loved you from the beginning."

Her heart felt as if it had come to a complete stop. There had been no choice in how to respond. She'd pulled him back to her, kissing him with an abandon she hadn't allowed herself to give into before. And this time, when they'd made love… Lois hadn't realized how complete an experience it could be. It wasn't just physical. It was spiritual. Body, heart and mind all joined together in her love for this man.

She heard another rush of wind and smiled. He was back. She watched as he walked into the room in his red, yellow and blue suit. He stopped when he realized she was awake. She could tell, by the sheepish look on his face, he still felt a little embarrassed about the suit. She sat up slightly, allowing the sheet to slip further down her body, instantly wiping the look of embarrassment from his face.

"You coming back to bed?" she asked.

A rush of wind and a whirl later, he was in bed beside her. She burst out laughing, only to have that laugh turn to a moan when he began nibbling at her neck. Oh yeah. She really could get used to this love stuff.


EPISODES FOR THE 'NAME THAT EPISODE' GAME (Rules explained at beginning of story):

1-01 Pilot part one

1-02 Pilot part two

1-03 Strange Visitor

1-04 Neverending Battle

1-05 I'm Looking Through You

1-06 Requiem For A Superhero

1-07 I've Got A Crush On You

1-08 Smart Kids

1-09 The Green, Green Glow of Home

1-10 Man of Steel Bars

1-11 Pheromone, My Lovely

1-12 Honeymoon In Metropolis

1-13 All Shook Up

1-14 Witness

1-15 Illusions of Grandeur

1-16 The Ides of Metropolis

1-17 Foundling

1-18 The Rival

1-19 Vatman

1-20 Fly Hard

1-21 Barbarians At The Planet

1-22 The House of Luthor

2-01 Madame Ex

2-02 Wall of Sound

2-03 The Source

2-04 The Prankster

2-05 Church of Metropolis

2-06 Operation Blackout

2-07 That Old Gang of Mine

2-08 A Bolt From The Blue

2-09 Season's Greedings

2-10 Metallo

2-11 Chi of Steel

2-12 The Eyes Have It

2-13 The Phoenix

2-14 Top Copy

2-15 Return of the Prankster

2-16 Lucky Leon

2-17 Resurrection

2-19 Target Jimmy Olsen

2-20 Individual Responsibility

2-21 Whine, Whine, Whine

2-22 And The Answer Is…

3-01 We Have A Lot To Talk About

3-02 Ordinary People

3-03 Contact

3-04 When Irish Eyes Are Killing

3-05 Just Say Noah

3-06 Don't Tug On Superman's Cape

3-07 Ultra Woman

3-08 A Chip Off The Old Clark

3-09 Super Mann

3-10 Virtually Destroyed

3-11 Home Is Where The Hurt Is

3-12 Never On Sunday

3-13 The Dad Who Came In From The Cold

3-14 Tempus, Anyone

3-15 I Now Pronounce You…

3-16 Double Jeopardy

3-17 Seconds

3-18 Forget Me Not

3-19 Oedipus Wrecks

3-20 It's A Small World After All

3-21 Through A Glass, Darkly

3-22 Big Girls Don't Fly

4-01 Lord of The Flys

4-02 Battleground Earth

4-03 Swear to God, This Time We're Not Kidding

4-04 Soul Mates

4-05 Brutal Youth

4-06 The People v. Lois Lane

4-07 Dead Lois Walking