Paradise Lost… Almost

By Tank Wilson <>

Rated: PG

Submitted: November 2, 2006

Summary: Lois and Clark go to Hawaii to cover a World Peace conference, but Lois's dream vacation takes a life-altering turn during a sightseeing tour.

Disclaimer: All characters or copyrighted and trademarked to their respective owners. Any and all feedback welcome at


Lois stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror as she put the finishing touches on her make up. She couldn't believe that she was actually getting to go to Hawaii, all expenses paid by the Daily Planet. She'd always wanted to vacation there but hadn't been able to save up enough time and money to make the trip. Now she was going to get to go courtesy of Perry White.

Truth be known, it wasn't exactly a vacation in the strictest sense. She was expected to cover the World Peace conference that was taking place, and she wasn't going alone. Clark was coming with her. But that didn't dampen her enthusiasm. Even though the conference was, most likely, going to be an incredible bore, Perry had consented to let her and Clark fly in early and enjoy themselves for a day before they had to cover the conference. He told them to consider it a reward for the excellent job they'd done on the Shockwave story.

Not too long ago, she would have resented the fact that Clark would be tagging along on her 'almost' vacation. But not anymore. In the few months she'd been partnered with Clark Kent, small town Kansas boy, she'd come to enjoy his company. He was a surprisingly good reporter, and good partner, and a good friend. She had to admit that she was actually looking forward to being in Hawaii with Clark.

She took her small suitcase and set it near the front door as she, out of habit, flipped on LNN. She smiled as her mind slipped back to their time together in the Honeymoon Suite at the Lexor Hotel. They'd been on a stakeout, but it had been fun too. She found herself involuntarily blushing as she remembered the kiss Clark had decided to give her to maintain their cover story as newlyweds when the maid came in unannounced.

There was a time when such an action by a junior partner would have brought the wrath of Mad Dog Lane down upon him. Instead, she had found it quite pleasant, and she was sure that Clark had also.

Suddenly, her musings were interrupted by a knock on her window. Startled, she turned and saw Superman hovering outside her living room window. She hurried over, unlatched the catch, and raised the sash so he could float into her apartment.

"Superman, what are you doing here?" She stepped back as he came into the room. "Not that I'm not happy to see you," she amended hastily.

He smiled. It was a nice smile. It reminded her a little of Clark's smile, only Clark's seemed more personal. Like his smile was for you only. Superman had an image to maintain, even when you were alone with him. Lois knew that, but it still didn't stop her from getting a slight tingle when it was aimed at her.

"Clark told me about your trip to Hawaii. I offered to fly you both there. That way you can get started on the vacation part of your trip a few hours earlier."

Lois' mouth dropped open. "Wow, that's wonderful." The thought of flying in Superman's arms all the way to Hawaii sent chills through her. "But, really, we can take the plane. I'm sure you have better things to do than fly a couple of friends to the other side of the world."

He placed his hand on her shoulder. "Really, Lois, it's no trouble. I've already taken Clark over. Is that your suitcase?" He strode over and picked it up.

"Well, if it's really no trouble."

She had to bite her lip to keep the grin off her face as he picked her up. Within a few moments they were airborne.


Lois looked up at the entrance to the Kauai Waiki Hotel. Superman had just flown off and she was standing outside the front door. She glanced at her reflection in the plate glass as she approached the large double doors. Her hair was a mess. If one thought that convertibles were hard on a hairdo, they should fly with the Man of Steel sometime. She tried, unsuccessfully, to straighten it with her fingers. If flying with Superman ever became more than a rare event, which she hoped it would, she'd have to give serious thought to a haircut. Something shorter… much shorter.

She pushed through the doors and was greeted by a spacious lobby decked out in a typically tropical motif. Potted palms occupied every corner of the room, and the large admissions desk was veneered in native Hawaiian Koa.

Clark appeared through the doorway leading to the hotel restaurant bar. He smiled and gave her a little wave. She moved toward him.

"So, how long have you been here? Did you get us checked in yet?"

Clark grinned. "Hello to you to, Lois. I haven't been here long. I imagine Superman went and got you right after he dropped me off. And, yes, I got us checked in. We have two adjoining rooms facing the ocean, though the ocean is several blocks away."

Lois patted Clark on the cheek. "I'm sure it will be just fine. You did good, Clark. Maybe I'll let you book all my rooms in the future."

His grin got wider. "I'll look forward to it." Her answering smile turned wary as she followed Clark to the elevators.

Without her even realizing it, Clark had picked up her suitcase and had punched the call button. When the car arrived, the partners stepped inside. "So, Clark, anything in particular you want to see? The conference's first meetings aren't until late tomorrow. We have some time to go exploring."

Clark pressed the button for their floor as the doors closed. "No, I'm pretty much open to anything."

Lois smiled. "Good, because I want to see a volcano up close and personal."

Clark chuckled. "Of course you do."

The ride up to their floor was quick, and within minutes Lois was letting herself into her room, Clark coming in behind her. He set her suitcase on the bed. She walked over and threw open the curtains in order to see 'the ocean view' they were supposed to have. She had to smile. It was a nice view. Even though the ocean was blocks away, their rooms were high enough up so none of the nearby buildings obstructed the sight line. She couldn't see much of the beach, but the deep blue of the rolling water was beautiful, and Lois could just imagine what the sunsets would look like.

"Beautiful," she breathed out with a sigh.


She turned at his comment and noticed that he wasn't looking out the window. "I meant the view."

"So did I."

Lois rolled her eyes at the coy smile her partner was giving her. She came back and swatted him on the arm. "Were you always such a tease?"

He didn't answer her question. "I'm right on the other side of these doors." He pointed to the doors in the wall which made the two rooms adjoining. "If you need anything, just knock. I'll go to my room and call Perry to let him know that we're here and settled in. You can check out the brochures." He pointed to the stand of pamphlets on the desk. "Or call the concierge to see about any volcano tours." He gave her a wink. "Let me know when you're ready." Suddenly, there was a mischievous glint in his eyes. "But please knock first. I think I'll lie down and I might fall asleep. I wouldn't want you sneaking in and taking advantage of me."

"In your dreams, Kent."

He just grinned and moved toward the doors.

"Clark." He stopped. "Thanks."

"For what?"

"For being here… with me. For being my friend."

Clark chuckled. "It's my pleasure, Lois."

She shook her head. "No, I mean it. I know I haven't always been the best of partners, that I've been mean to you in the past. But I want you to know that I do think you're a terrific reporter, and a great partner. I've never had a partner that I could stand to work with before, but with you, once I gave it a chance, it's been easy." She bowed her head so a curtain of dark hair partially obscured her face. "I've never really had a close friend before."

Clark stepped close and tilted her chin up with his finger. "I find that hard to believe. What about high school, and college?"

"Oh, I had a few girl friends that I used to hang with, but we were never really close. It was just the usual—clothes and boys." She rolled her eyes at the memory. "And the boys, not much there. Sure, I dated, but it was mostly hormonal urges being satisfied. I mean, it was high school and dating a cute boy was expected, though beyond some physical gratification from making out, there was never any real depth or meaning to the relationships."

"You were young; it was a time to have some fun. No need to be looking for anything meaningful to come from it."

"Still, even in the short time we've known each other, no one has made me feel more appreciated, and more… special, than you have. And even though I don't say it enough, I think of you as my best friend and I'm glad we're partners."

He smiled. The one that, when it was aimed at you, couldn't help but make you feel like everything was going to be all right.

"Lois, coming from you, that means a lot to me. I'm glad we're partners too, and I'll always consider you my best friend."

Lois returned his smile with the best one she had to offer. "Good. Now you'd better go call Perry so I can figure out how we are going to spend the rest of this beautiful day."

"Okay. Just let me know when you've gotten it all figured out."

She just nodded as he opened the adjoining door on her side and pushed open the one that opened into his room. The fact that his door hadn't been locked wasn't lost on Lois. She reached over and pushed her side door closed, but didn't latch it. She could show that she trusted him too.

She began to look through the brochures.


Clark was aroused by a firm knocking on the small door between his room and Lois'. He looked around, getting his bearings. He'd actually fallen asleep. He remembered lying down and staring at the ceiling… then, now.

"Clark? Are you awake?"

He quickly got up and let Lois into his room. The corner of her mouth turned up in a smirk. "I don't believe it. You really did take a nap," she said. "What? Were you up partying all last night?"

"You know how it is. I was too excited about this trip to get any decent sleep."


Actually, Superman had been needed many times the previous evening, and since he knew he was going out of town he'd decided to do a couple of extra patrols.

"Well, now that you're rested, come on." She grabbed his arm and began dragging him toward the door to the hallway. "I've done some checking and they have regular tours of Kilauea all throughout the day. There's a bus leaving the hotel in ten minutes."

Clark could only shake his head in wonder as the amazing bundle of energy that was his partner hustled him out the door, into the elevator, and to the lobby where several other hotel guests were waiting to take the same bus.

"What's with all this fascination with volcanoes, Lois? I never knew you were interested in them."

Lois shrugged and grinned at him. "I dunno, ever since we studied them in junior high I've been fascinated by them. There's just something about a mountain that sits there so staid and majestic for so long, then suddenly, it explodes with such power and fury."

"Kind of a kindred spirit sort of thing, eh?"

She swatted him on the arm. "Funny, Kent. Obviously, growing up in Metropolis and being a working girl, I've never had a chance to actually see one up close and personal and I'm not going to miss this opportunity."

"Well let's just hope that this one stays quiet during our visit. I, for one, am not anxious to see a volcanic eruption… up close and personal."

The trip to the center that ran the tours of Kilauea was pleasant. Lois was really taking advantage of their time here and played the tourist to the hilt. Her nose was practically pressed against the bus's window as she tried to take in every possible sight of interest along the way. In less than an hour, they were in a group of similarly interested tourists following a young woman, dressed in a crisp white blouse and khaki shorts, as she led them up the gravel path toward the top of the mountain.

It wasn't that Clark wasn't interested in the tour and the information the guide was disseminating. He was, and he listened to every word said. But, for him, the real enjoyment was watching Lois acting like a little kid on her first day of school. She asked dozens of questions and was everywhere, looking at this and that. A couple of times, Clark had to restrain her from leaning too far over the protective railings trying to see the craters and vents better. He hadn't remembered the last time Lois had been so relaxed and carefree. Not since the Corn Festival they'd attended when she had visited Smallville for the first time.

Clark moved closer and, in a bold move, put his arm around her shoulders. "So, Lois, having a good time?"

She looked up at him and smiled. "Yeah, I am. This is really great. I just wish there was a little more activity. Not a full-fledged eruption or anything, but maybe a creeping lava flow, or a pool of bubbling magma or something." Suddenly, Lois noticed a path that led off in the opposite direction the guide was leading them. A couple of orange cones were placed on the path and a sign that merely read "closed." "What's this?"

Clark caught a glimpse of the look in Lois' eye and suddenly he had a bad feeling. Lois ran over to the young woman who'd been their tour guide.

"Excuse me, miss?" The woman turned toward Lois. The look on her face told Clark that she was getting just a bit tired of the constant questions. "What's up that way?" Lois pointed to the abandoned pathway.

"Oh, that." The young woman saw where Lois was pointing. "That used to lead to a small secondary caldera farther up the mountain."

"Used to?"

"Well, it still does, but it's been taken off the tour. It's considered a bit too dangerous."


The woman began to look irritated. "A new vent opened up a while back and formed a small pool of liquid magma. We don't want the tourists anywhere near it. Only accredited academics are allowed anywhere near there."

"Oh, oh." Clark softly groaned. He knew what was coming.

Lois sidled up close to Clark as the tour began to move on. "Clark," she whispered. "We've got to check that out."

"Lois, you heard the guide. It's off limits to the tour. It's too dangerous."

Lois was watching the group as it continued on its way up the gravel path and around a bend in the rocks. "It can't be that dangerous if they let college kids up there."

Clark rolled his eyes. "I think the people they let up are geologists and volcanologists, not college students." He could see she wasn't listening to him.

He watched her watch the group as it disappeared from sight. Once they were all finally beyond the bend she slapped him on the arm. "Come on, let's go." She stepped around the orange cones and started up the path. He stood there. After a couple of steps she stopped and looked back at him. "Are you coming, or not?"

"Would you stay if I told you no?"

"What do you think?" She turned and started back up the forbidden path. He sighed, then followed after her.

The graveled way was narrower and much of the foliage had overgrown the path so it was tougher going than they'd experienced so far. The trail was steeper, and no longer manicured like the ones they'd walked on to this point. Obviously it hadn't been used in quite some time.

Their progress was slowed by the more difficult path, but after nearly a half an hour of pushing branches out of one's face and trying not to trip over the larger stones, they finally broke through out onto a rocky ledge. There was an old railing running along the edge, but it, like the path, hadn't seen any attention in a long while. Lois rushed up to it and leaned over to get a better look.

"Lois," he called out to her. "Don't you think you should be careful? That railing doesn't look too solid any more."

"Oh pooh, you worry too much." She moved a little farther down the rail. "Hey, look at this! I can actually see movement in the pool."

Clark moved up next to his impulsive partner and looked where she pointed. He could indeed see movement in the pool of glowing molten rock. The pool wasn't very large, no more than the size of a large swimming pool, but he could feel the heat all the way up to the ledge they stood on. He guessed that the pool was really a section of a river of the molten magma that had broken through to the surface at this spot.

"Isn't it fascinating?" Lois leaned farther over the edge of the railing. Clark placed his hand on her shoulder, ready to pull her back if she should lose her balance.

"Hey, you two! You aren't supposed to be up there!"

Lois and Clark, almost as one, turned toward the voice. A young woman, dressed as a park attendant, was coming up the path.

"Oh, oh." Lois gave Clark a guilty look. "Looks like we're busted."

Clark gave her a sidelong glance. "What do you mean we? I distinctly remember telling you this was a bad idea."

"Thanks for your support, partner." Lois swung her arm around and smacked Clark in the chest.

Clark saw the blow coming and prepared to step back to cushion the blow so Lois wouldn't hurt her arm. Unfortunately, when the blow landed, Clark stepped back and caught his heel on a large stone. It caused him to momentarily lose his balance and he stumbled backward and came up hard against the railing.

A loud crack echoed through the humid air. Clark cursed silently as his greater than normal weight caused the aged railing to give way. Before he knew what was about to happen, it was happening. He found himself falling through empty space toward the molten pool a hundred feet below.

He knew he could fly away, but he could see Lois' shocked face staring down at him. He didn't know what to do. He was paralyzed. Before any rational course of action came to mind he felt his body strike the magma. The molten rock had a consistency much greater than water, but it was still fluid enough to allow him to sink beneath its surface. The look of shock and anguish on Lois' face was the last thing he saw before the magma engulfed him.


"Clark!" Lois watched as the slow-motion horror played out below her. Her breath seemed to catch in her throat as she saw him hit the surface of the molten pool, and then slowly sink beneath the hellish magma. He never cried out. "Clark?" Her voice was a strangled whisper of shock and devastation.

Clark was dead. Her partner, and… and her best friend, was dead. Incinerated by the molten rock. There was no surviving that. Clark was dead and she had killed him. Lois fell to her knees, still staring at the fiery pool, as tears burst forth.

"Omigod! What happened?" The young park attendant had finally reached Lois' side.

Lois reluctantly turned her eyes to the gasping young woman. "Clark fell into the magma pool." She waved her arm in the general direction of the cliff's edge. "My partner's gone."

Lois didn't hear the panicked calls the young woman screamed into her walkie-talkie. She slumped down, leaning against the broken railing, as huge sobs wracked her slender body. All that her traumatized mind could focus on was that Clark was dead, and it was her fault. She'd knocked him over the edge and now he was dead. She'd killed her best friend.

The next few hours were a blur to Lois. She didn't know how long she'd leaned against the railing crying, but at some point she was vaguely aware of someone lifting her up and guiding her down the trail to a waiting jeep. Then there were the innumerable questions by the local authorities. She was forced to relive the horrible scenario over and over again for each button-down suit that came through. She wasn't sure how she'd survived it.

Now, finally, she was standing in front of her hotel room door. Tears still rolled down her cheeks as she rummaged through her pockets looking for the key. Her hands shook as she tried to insert the magnetic card. She dropped it. Reaching down for it, she went to one knee and let her shoulders shake as more sobbing overtook her.

"Oh no!" Her voice was a raw whisper. "What am I going to tell Perry?" Her hand flew to her mouth. "The Kents! Omigod, what can I tell them?" She turned and slumped back against the door. "I'm sorry, Jonathan and Martha, but I killed your son."

Suddenly, the door opened behind her and she found herself falling backward into a pair of strong hands. She was lifted to her feet and whisked into the room. The door was quickly closed and before she could gather her wits she was sitting on the edge of the bed. The room was dark. A large shadow stepped out from behind her and moved toward the lamp on the desk. The light wasn't much, but it was enough.

"Clark?" A flare of irrational hope flashed through Lois' brain, quickly replaced by fear. Was she going insane? Seeing things? Clark was dead. She had seen him disappear beneath the molten pool. She shook her head in denial, then her whole body began to shake. "No, it can't be." She looked up. "You can't be… alive. I … I killed you."

The shadow that looked like Clark rushed over and placed his hand on her cheek. He wiped at her tears with his thumb. "No, Lois, it wasn't your fault. It was an accident. I stumbled when I stepped on a stone. I lost my balance and fell. You had nothing to do with it."

"But I hit you. You fell back, and went over the edge. You, you're not dead?" Her brain felt like it was going to explode. She was sure her heart had stopped beating minutes ago. She reached out with a shaking hand and touched his face. It was solid. It wasn't a dream. She wasn't seeing things. "Clark?"

"Yes, Lois, it's me."

"Oh, Clark!" She threw her hands around his neck and held on as if *her* life depended on it. He held her tightly. There were no words, just his wonderful arms around her as more tears fell. This time her tears were of joy and relief. She hadn't lost her partner and best friend. She hadn't killed him. Clark wasn't dead. Clark wasn't dead… Why wasn't Clark dead?

She pulled back and looked up into his dark eyes. Eyes that showed a deep concern for her. "How come you're not dead?"

She allowed her arms to fall to her sides as he pulled away and began to pace. He ran his hand through his hair. She recognized it as one of his classic stalling techniques. He wasn't sure what to say to her, and he needed time to figure it out. What could he say? How could he have survived? She had seen him land in the magma. No one but Superman could have survived. Her eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped open. No… one … but … Superman.

"You, you're him. All this time, and, and, you were him all along."

His sigh was audible. "Yes, Lois, I'm Superman."


He moved over and guided her back to the bed. He sat opposite her on the other one. "Lois, you're an intelligent woman. You can understand why I've had to keep this a secret from the world. It's a dangerous secret, and without it I couldn't have really had a life."

Lois took a breath. "I understand that your enemies would use the knowledge against you. They would strike at your friends and loved ones." Lois clenched her fists and released them. "I also can see how if it were known that Clark Kent was actually Superman that you wouldn't have a moment's peace. The media and the paparazzi would hound you day and night." Lois absently reached up and swiped at the tears still on her cheeks. "But, why…"

He placed his finger on her lips. He gave her a sad smile. "Why didn't I tell you?"

She nodded.

"Lois, I've had to keep this secret most of my life. Once my powers started to develop I knew I had to tell no one or I would never be able to fit in. Only my parents have ever known, and it was kind of hard to keep it a secret from them when, early on, I kept setting fire to the kitchen curtains."

She gave him the return smile he needed.

He paced in a small circle in front of her. "There have been times when I desperately wanted to share this secret. When I wanted to tell you the whole truth."

"Why didn't you?"

His eyes met hers and she could see the sincerity there. "A secret like this is a terrible burden, Lois. It eats away at you. You have to constantly be on your guard not to let the knowledge slip, even in the most innocent of conversations. I can't tell you how many times I've said or done things that could have jeopardized my secret if the other party had been listening more carefully. And I've had years of practice at hiding it. I couldn't ask that of another person. It wouldn't be fair."

Was he kidding? Lois bit on her lower lip as conflicting thoughts raged through her mind. She was prepared to be angry with Clark for keeping such a monumental secret from her. He'd been lying to her since the day they'd met and that felt like a betrayal. She had issues with trust, always had. Too many men in the past had taken her trust and trashed it. It was hard for her to give it, but give it she had to Clark. He had always seemed like the one truly honest man she'd ever dealt with. She had confided in him things that she'd never told anyone before.

She should be angry with him because she'd now found out that Clark had been lying to her. Had betrayed that trust. She worried her lower lip some more. But had he really? Clark hadn't just been keeping things from her; he'd been keeping them from everyone. She knew it was important that his dual identity remain a secret, but they were friends, close friends and he had to know that he could trust her. Yet, if she were to believe what Clark said, he kept his secret from her out of concern for her, for how knowing he was Superman might affect her life. The more cynical Lois might have scoffed at such a notion, but even in the face of his deception over the many months that they'd know each other, she believed him.

Lois tried to see her relationship with Clark through his eyes. They'd been close friends for a while now, but it hadn't always been that way. In the beginning she'd treated him with contempt, and had pretty much dismissed him as a reporter. Not exactly a good way to inspire trust. But, in fairness, that period hadn't lasted very long. Lois wasn't stupid. She was soon able to see that Clark was a good reporter and that they did work well together. His 'aw shucks' charm and naturally friendly manner had begun to win her over fairly quickly.

Of course, now came the memories that made her cringe just a bit. Her adoration of Superman, and the continual unflattering comparisons she'd made between them, him, them. No wonder she was confused. Still, that hadn't lasted that long either. Her infatuation with Superman had grown from a fantasy crush into a deep admiration for the man and his compassion and innate goodness. While her feelings for Superman had matured, during the same period her feelings for Clark had undergone a growth also. He had managed to get behind her defensive walls and had become the one thing she had never really had. Her friend, her best friend.

It was funny in an ironic sort of way. The only two men that she had ever really let into her heart turned out to be the same guy. In a way it was a relief. It meant that, now, she would never have to be confronted with a choice between the two. Not that the idea had ever really occurred to her till now, but the more her mind churned through this new data the more she began to see future possibilities open up.

Now she had to refocus on the situation of the moment. The revelation that Clark was also Superman and how it made her feel. She wanted to be angry for his deception, but she knew that he actually thought he was protecting her by keeping the secret. It was a notion that she was going to have to dissuade him of. Didn't he see the advantages of having her in the know? She could help cover for him when he had to suddenly fly off to handle an emergency. She could be there for him when he needed someone to talk to about a particularly tough rescue. She would show him that it would be a good thing to have her know both sides of who he was.

It might still hurt that he felt he shouldn't tell her, but under the circumstances, she would be able to get over it. She wasn't angry. This wasn't the time for anger. Instead, she had an opportunity to use this knowledge to forge a stronger and more meaningful relationship with a man she suddenly realized she couldn't bear to not have in her life.

It was an epiphany that both scared and excited her. She wasn't sure exactly when it had happened, but it had crystallized when she thought she had lost him forever. Her tears had been genuine, but they had been as much for her as they had been for him. The idea that Clark would no longer be a part of her life had devastated her in a way in which she'd never imagined. How could one man have become so important to her? But he had, and now it was up to her, and him, to find out exactly what that really meant. Was Clark just a great guy to have around, her partner and best friend? Or was he more?

A few more stray tears snuck past the corners of her eyes as she recaptured his gaze. "I'm glad you're alive." She was surprised by his reaction. Rather than the affirmative smile and chuckle that she had expected, he answered her words with a frown. "What's wrong?"

He came and sat down across from her again. He reached out and held her hands. She was getting a bad feeling. "Lois," he began, then stopped, sighed once, and continued. "That's the problem. *I* may be alive, but Clark Kent isn't. By now, the police reports of my death will be circulating within their systems. This evening's newscasts will make mention of it, and by morning I'm sure my demise will be a featured story in the local papers."

Lois sucked in a shocked breath. He couldn't be serious. "But you're alive."

He squeezed her hand. "Lois, no one could survive a plunge into molten rock. Any normal person would be completely incinerated."

"But what will you do? What can we do?" Lois felt a chill course through her body. This couldn't be happening. She couldn't have gotten Clark back just to lose him again.

"I don't know." He pulled his hands back and formed them into fists. "I guess I'll just have to become Superman full time. We'll still be able to see each other on occasion. I'll make sure you get a lot of interviews."

Memories kicked into full gear for Lois. All the times she'd spent with Superman and then contrasted with all the times she and Clark had spent together. It was like being punched in the gut. "No." She shook her head as new tears began to fall. "No, I can't let that happen. I'm not going to let you lose your personal life. It's too important to you. And I'm not willing to lose Clark in my life, not now." She jumped up and started to pace. "There has to be another way."

Lois made frantic circles around the small room, muttering to herself, as her mind worked furiously on the problem at hand. There was no way she was going to lose Clark now. Not after what she'd come to realize when she'd thought she'd lost him forever. The depth of her devastation over that loss had surprised her. She wasn't about to let him go now that she knew he was alive. There had to be a way to get him his life back.

"Clark, what do you remember about the cliff face as you fell? Were there any overhanging branches, or protruding rocks you could have grabbed onto?"

Clark shook his head. "I don't remember anything but the look on your face as you watched me fall."

Lois felt a lump form in her throat, but forced it down. There wasn't time for that now. She needed to think.

She walked quickly to the window and looked out. It was late, and the sun had set long ago. The sky was clear, but there was no moon so it was pretty dark. She turned to Clark. "Take me back there."

Without an argument, or any comment, he stood, gathered her in his arms and did as she asked.

Within a few moments they were standing back where the whole debacle had started earlier that day. Lois had to clasp her hands together to keep them from shaking as she approached the broken railing.

"It's too dark for me to see anything, but can you float down over the side and see if there is anything you might have been able to catch onto on your way down? The way I figure it, no one else saw you hit the pool except me. So, if there was some way you could have not actually fallen into the magma, you could miraculously have survived the ordeal."

"But, Lois, you told everybody that you saw me fall directly into the pool."

She waved off his comment. "I was in shock. We'll say that it was probably just a dislodged boulder that I saw hit." He raised his brow. "Hey, I don't care if everybody thinks I'm some sort of hysterical flake. You'll be back and we'll get to go home… together."

He nodded, then stepped off the cliff. She gasped as he stood there in mid air. He grinned and slowly began to descend. She paced about, alternating between biting her lip and tugging at her hair. How long did it take to check out a simple cliff face?

"I think we're in luck, Lois." She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that his reappearance startled her. She rushed up and grabbed his arm. He had a smile on his face. "There's a small ledge about twenty to thirty feet down. The cliff face overhangs enough so you can't see it from up here. There's also a small, straggly bush growing out of the rock a short distance above. We could say that I grabbed for the branches of that bush and it swung me onto the ledge. What do you think?"

"I think that will work just fine." She felt a big smile split her face. "Tomorrow morning I'll make up some excuse to bring the police back up here. You can be hiding on that ledge. Once you hear us up here you can call out for help. You can give them your story after they rescue you and we can live happily ever after."

Clark gave Lois a quizzical look. "Happily ever after, Lois? Aren't you getting just a bit carried away?"

"Not yet I'm not."

With that she placed her hand behind his neck and pulled him down to her waiting lips. Everything was going to work out just fine. Everything.