The Strongest Magic

By ML Thompson <>

Rated PG-13

Submitted October 2007

Summary: It's Halloween and someone is killing the people who have tried to kill Lois. But who is it? Does the time of year have any relevance? And can Lois and Clark figure it out in time to prevent Lois from suffering a fate worse than death?

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 complete disclaimer, go to: .

My thanks to Carol Malo and Gerry Anklewicz for all their help Beta reading another story for me. They caught a lot of the mistakes that I missed and let me know when I'd gone over the deep end. And thank you to Sue S. for giving me the Irish perspective on the story. Thanks, guys. Also, my thanks to DocJill for providing me with such a detailed list of people who have tried to kill Lois. Also, my thanks go out to Erin for editing this story for the archives.

Oh, and my thanks to Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain and all the writers of Lois and Clark for giving me so much great material to work with for so many years.

For additional information and credits, see the notes following this story.


A green mist slowly slid under the closed door of the darkened room, whirling together as if controlled by some mystical winds until the form of a man could be seen in the midst of the color. The man almost solidified as he stood, eyes on the woman asleep in the bed. Her dark hair spread out like a fan against the white of her pillow. The light from an almost full moon beamed gently across her features, giving her face an almost translucent quality.

The ghostly apparition smiled slightly, his gaze resting hungrily on the woman, before it was distracted by a sonic boom somewhere nearby. Quickly, the image of the man vanished into the green mist just as a red and blue superhero landed in the room.

As the superhero spun into his sleep shorts and slipped in next to the sleeping woman, the green mist slid, once again, along the floor and out through the crack beneath the door. The mist was completely gone by the time the woman rolled over, entwining herself contentedly in the curve of the superhero's body.

Downstairs the soft chime of a clock sounded three times before leaving the house in silence once again.


Lois stifled a yawn as she and Clark boarded the elevator to the newsroom the next morning.

"Tired?" Clark asked.

"Mmmm," Lois responded through a second yawn. "For some reason, I didn't sleep very well last night. Weird dreams."

"Weird dreams? Not…" He slipped an arm around her waist. "…sexy dreams? Erotic dreams?" He pulled her tight against his side. "Dreams, say, about me?" He wiggled his eyebrows at her causing her to laugh.

"No, weird dreams. Has anyone ever told you you have a one track mind, farmboy?" she asked, giving his chest a swat.

"So tell me about these dreams of yours," he said, automatically rubbing the offended spot on his chest.

"I don't really remember them. But… Well, you know how dreams are."

The elevator doors opened onto the newsroom floor and Lois and Clark fell silent when confronted by a disturbing, almost blinding mixture of black and orange. They both stepped out of the elevator and stopped, trying to absorb the multitude of pumpkins, tombstones and black cats of every shape and size that greeted them. There were ghosts and goblins, cardboard cutouts, stickers and a large, very realistic witch with her pointy nose and the requisite mole. Black and orange streamers accompanied the large cardboard cutouts which were in turn accompanied by small cutouts adorning every available surface of the newsroom.

"That dream of yours?" Clark asked as he looked around in disbelief. "It didn't happen to look anything like this, did it?"

"I said 'weird' not positively blinding," Lois responded. "Has anyone ever heard of the word 'overkill'?"

"Hey, guys," Jimmy said, rushing up to them. "Perry put me in charge of the decorations for Halloween. So… What do you think?"

"It's very…" Clark paused.

"Superman doesn't lie," Lois muttered under her breath.

"…creative," Clark finished, looking proud of himself over his choice of word. "It certainly looks as if you put a lot of time into it."

"Thanks, C.K. I knew you guys would like it. By the way, I hope you haven't forgotten about the masquerade ball tomorrow night."

"No, Jimmy, we haven't forgotten," Lois responded. Franklin Stern had insisted that a masquerade ball was just the thing to help boost employee morale. Please! There was nothing wrong with Lois' morale — except for the fact that she had to get a costume and attend this stupid party. But Perry had made it clear that nothing, short of hospital admission, would excuse any of his reporters from attending. Lois was still wondering how hurt she would have to be to be admitted to the hospital.

"Yeah, well, did you know that tomorrow, not only is there a full moon, but there is also a lunar eclipse?" Jimmy continued enthusiastically. "Of course, there has to be a full moon to have a lunar eclipse. Still… it should make the whole evening really spooky."

"And that's a good thing because…?" Lois asked.

"Because it's Halloween! Halloween is supposed to be spooky, Lois. All those ghosts and goblins doing…"

"Jimmy!" Eduardo called from the other side of the newsroom, interrupting Jimmy. "I need those photos."

"Sorry, guys. Got to bolt," Jimmy said, hurrying on past.

Lois and Clark watched him go before heading down the ramp towards their desks.

"Creative?" Lois asked as she removed her leather jacket, glancing again at the decorations.

Clark shrugged, taking their jackets over to the coat rack. While he was gone, Lois quickly gathered up all the decorations that had somehow found their way onto her desk and dropped them in the trash can before stopping and staring at what was quite obviously a small flower box sitting in the middle of her desk. The writing on the top of the box informed her that it had come from 'Say It With Flowers' florist.

She glanced up again as Clark joined her.

"From you?" she asked hopefully. "I mean, I know that Halloween is not the traditional time to give one's wife flowers. But, hey, I could get use to a tradition like that."

He shook his head. "Sorry."

She took a deep breath. Okay, well, it wasn't from Clark. But that didn't necessarily make this a bad thing, did it? Not every unexpected package she received had to be from some bad guy or be a threat of some kind. It could be from her sister or an old friend or someone just wanting to brighten her day or to say thank you for…

"Aren't you going to open it?" Clark asked, bursting into her thoughts.

"Oh… right." Her hand hovered over the box before pulling back. "Do you think you could just… give it a quick 'zit zit'?" she asked, making a gesture as if pulling down a pair of glasses.

Clark laughed, but immediately proceeded to do as she asked, x-raying the box. His eyebrows instantly rose.

"What?" Lois demanded.

"I think you should open it and see for yourself."

Taking a deep breath, she quickly removed the top of the flower box as if she were ripping off a bandage before staring in disbelief at what she found inside.

"Hey, cool," Jimmy said, coming back over to join them. "I don't think I've ever actually seen a black rose before."

"Well, actually," Clark said, "there's really no such thing as a black rose. It's just such a deep red that it looks black."

Lois looked up at him, eyebrows raised.

"Still," Jimmy continued, "I think it's great. Hey, maybe I should get a bunch to put up around the newsroom. It would really make the place look spooky." With those words, he headed off again to take the now-retrieved photos to Eduardo.

"Again with the spooky? What's so good about spooky?" Lois asked absently while fumbling around to see if she could find a card buried in the tissue paper. "No card," she said after a moment, looking up at Clark for reassurance.

"Maybe someone just forgot to stick the card in the box," Clark said right on cue. "And, look, it really is beautiful. It almost looks like crushed velvet. I'm sure it wasn't meant to spook you."

She stared at the rose in silence for a long moment. "So…" she finally said, trying to sound positive. "…what does a black rose mean, oh king of useless trivia?" She looked up at him. "Clark?" she asked when he seemed to shift slightly. "Oh, god, this isn't good, is it?" Lois said, her voice taking on a slightly hysterical edge.

"No, no, Lois," Clark said immediately. "It's just… the meaning behind a black rose is a little… ambiguous."

"What do you mean by 'ambiguous?'" Lois asked cautiously.

"Well, they are often used to celebrate milestones. Sort of like a light-hearted way of telling someone that they're getting older. And, you know, you did turn thirty this year."

"That was over a month ago, Clark."

"Still, it might just be someone who forgot your birthday and then sent you this to say 'Happy Birthday.'"

Lois looked skeptically back at the rose. "Black," she said thoughtfully. "Black is the color of death, isn't it? So what else can a black rose mean? You said its meaning was ambiguous."

She looked up at Clark again when she heard him sigh.

"Clark?" she asked, her voice containing an obvious warning to tell her the truth.

"Okay, so a black rose can also mean 'death.'"

"I knew it!" Lois exclaimed.

"But that can be a good thing," Clark rushed to add. "Often it symbolizes the death of the old and a sort of… rebirth. A laying aside of bad habits or old grudges. Or…"


"Okay, so maybe it can also be used to symbolize getting vengeance against an old foe. But we don't know that is what it means here," he added immediately. "Come on, Lois. We're probably over-analyzing this. It's probably just a joke from your sister or something. Hey, come to think of it, didn't she forget your birthday?"

"Yeah, I guess," Lois said hesitantly.

"So… mystery solved."

Lois, looking skeptical, sat down at her desk and immediately picked up the phone. She heard his sigh when she punched in her sister's number.

"Hi, Luce," Lois said when her sister answered the phone. "Did you send me a flower? No? No, no reason. I just got a flower this morning and it didn't have a card and… I guess I thought of you. No, don't worry about it. It's no big deal. Well, look, I'm at work so I don't have time to talk, but I'll call you soon, okay? Right. Talk to you later." With that, she hung up the phone, looking back at Clark as if somehow, she didn't know quite how, this was all his fault.

"Okay, so it wasn't your sister," Clark said. "But that doesn't mean it's worth freaking-out… uhh… worrying about. It might…" His voice trailed off when Lois rose from her desk, gathered the flower and box together and dumped the entire thing into the trash can.

"Problem solved," she said resolutely.

"Lois! Clark!" Perry yelled across the newsroom, effectively ending their discussion. "Get over to the police station. They've got another one."


"But you have to do something! She scared my wife and kid half to death!"

Lois and Clark heard the man's shout the instant they stepped through the doors to the police station.

"Listen, sir," responded the somewhat exasperated police officer behind the counter. "I already told you that this is not our jurisdiction. If you're being haunted by the spirit of your dead wife, I suggest calling an exorcist rather than a cop."

Lois' eyebrows rose as she watched the angry man storm out of the police station. Turning back towards the officer, her eyes met his, eyebrows raised in question.

"Halloween," the officer said in irritation as if that explained it all. "So, Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent, what can I do for you?"

"We're here to see Henderson about the murder last night," Lois informed him.

"Is he expecting you?" the officer asked.

"Of course he's expecting us," Lois responded indigently, ignoring the elbow Clark gave her.

"Right," the officer drawled before picking up his phone.

When Clark looked over at her, eyebrows raised, Lois dragged him aside and muttered, "There was a murder yesterday and we showed up. Henderson's a smart cop, so since there was a murder last night, obviously he's got to be expecting us."

Clark placed a finger over his lips.

"What?" Lois asked.

"I didn't know Bill knew such colorful language," Clark responded quietly.

Lois let out a breath, immediately stepping up to the counter and taking the phone out of the duty officer's hand before he could stop her.

"Come on, Henderson," she said into the expropriated phone. "You must have five minutes you can give us."

"No can do, Lois," Henderson responded. "I've got a murder to solve. A number of murders actually."

"Maybe we can help?"

At Henderson's snort, she continued. "Look, Henderson, you know we aren't going away until we find out what's going on, so either you can talk to us now or we can pester…" She glanced at the officer behind the desk, looking for a name tag. "…Jerry for the next half hour."

Constable Jerry Simpson suddenly looked horrified.

"Great!" Lois responded to Henderson's rather colorful reply. Handing the phone back to Jerry, she headed for the door. "We know the way, officer," she said as they reached the large locked door leading to the back of the station. "All we need is for you to buzz us in."

Jerry listened into the phone for a moment before pressing the buzzer to allow them into the back.


"Hello, Kent. Nice to see you again," Inspector Bill Henderson said rising from behind his desk and offering Clark his hand in a deliberate act of ignoring Lois. "So, Kent," Henderson continued, gesturing Clark to a chair, "what can I do for you?"

Henderson was a tall, trim man in his mid-forties. Sedate would probably make his description seem much more lively than he was in person. He had a very dry sense of humor, and Clark often found himself unsure whether the man was serious or joking. For example, today… If Clark hadn't been looking for it, he might have missed the subtle crinkle around Henderson's eyes showing that the other man was almost amused.

Then there was the relationship between Henderson and Lois. Even after all these years, Clark wasn't exactly sure how Henderson felt about Lois or she him. Although he suspected that each respected the other a great deal, both enjoyed their game of barely contained hostility too much to ever admit it.

"Ha, ha," Lois said. "Very funny, Henderson. So what do you have on this newest murder victim?"

Instead of answering her, Henderson continued to look at Clark.

"Inspector," Clark said after a moment, "we'd really appreciate anything you can tell us."


"The murder victim!" Lois said in exasperation.

When Henderson just continued to look at Clark expectantly, Clark continued. "About the murder victim."

"Oh, the one from last night," Henderson said. "Here's our press statement about the matter. Not a lot I can add. Much like the others. Knifed in his jail cell."

"Did he have a cell mate?" Lois asked. When Henderson didn't answer, she threw up her hands in exasperation.

"Okay, fine," Henderson said, almost cracking a smile — an unexpected show of emotion from the normally staid officer. "No, he didn't have a cell mate."

Lois growled again when he said nothing more.

"Okay, what's the matter now, Lane?" Henderson asked.

"You've got to have more than that for us. Come on, Bill. This makes the fifth person who has been killed inside the criminal justice system in less than a week. Why won't you at least give us the names?"

"Actually, Lane, you're in luck. Seems my superiors think that it's time to start releasing names. So…" He flipped open a file on his desk as Lois pulled out her notepad, preparing to take notes. "His name is — or I guess was — Golden Boy Barnes. He…"

"Tried to rob the Metropolis Gold Repository — twice. The second time was just after he broke out of prison. He was wearing an invisible suit invented by Alan Morris. But Superman caught him," Lois concluded, subconsciously reaching over to give Clark's hand a squeeze.

"I take it you have some knowledge of Mr. Barnes?"

"You could say that," Lois said.

"He tried to kill Lois by locking her in a bank vault with no air," Clark added.

"And I rarely forget people who try to kill me," Lois said dryly.

Henderson crinkled his forehead for a moment in thought. "That happens to you a lot, doesn't it? People trying to kill you."

"You could say that," Clark said, giving his wife a look.

"So then…" Henderson continued, obviously onto an idea. "…what do you know about the other victims?" He glanced down at his notes. "Miranda Johnson?"

"Is she the second victim?"

"What do you know about her?"

"She invented the pheromone stuff that, for two days, made the whole newsroom loonie-tunes in love."

"Did she try to kill you, too?" Henderson asked.

Lois and Clark shared a look, obviously wondering where Henderson was going with this line of questions. "Yes. She tried to kill me by dropping me in a vat of some sort of chemical."

"What about Henry Harrison? Did he try to kill you, too?"

"He tried to kill me and Detective Reid by crushing us in a trash compactor."

"Jace Mazik?"

"He tried to get Superman to kill me after kidnapping Clark's parents," Lois said.

Clark immediately reached over and gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze.

"Larry Smiley?"

"He tried to kill Jimmy and me by tying us to a lightning pole during a thunderstorm."

"Larry Goode?"

"He tied me to a bed with explosives to make people think that Superman was having an affair with me when he should have been off saving the world."

"That's it!" Clark finally said. "That's what all the victims have in common. They all tried to kill Lois."

"So what are you saying?" Lois asked. "That someone is going around killing all the people who tried to kill me? That's ridiculous! After all, there are a lot of people who have tried to kill me who are still very much alive."

"For now," Clark added.

"Well, there is another, simpler, explanation," Henderson said.

"What's that, Inspector?" Clark asked.

"Lois, where were you last night at say… two o'clock in the morning?"

Lois immediately sprang to her feet. "That's crazy, Bill! I did not kill any of these people. Besides, they're all in jail. How would I even get in? You're just having a rash of murders in prison these days. The fact that they all tried to kill me is just… a coincidence!"

"Not all of them were in prison," Henderson corrected. "Five of them have died in custody. But I gave you six names." He picked up one of the files. "Jace Mazik was out on bail pending his appeal."

"He was out pending appeal?" Lois gasped. "But he's a murderer! How could they have released him pending appeal?"

"He was never convicted of murdering St. John. His lawyer raised the possibility of suicide and given some unusual… problems with the autopsy, and the lack of an actual witness, apparently the jury wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Mazik killed him."

"He still robbed his own brother's store."

"Those charges were dropped. Apparently, his brother didn't want them pursued. Bad for the family business or something. So the only charge they had him on was kidnapping. Still a serious charge, but given some problems with the form of the charge, his chances on appeal looked good — before his murder. Of course, now you're telling me that he tried to kill you, too. Mind telling me why you left that tidbit out at the time?"

Lois studied her hands in great detail. They'd left that out because of how it might look for Superman to admit that he'd frozen her. Besides, they had Mazik on enough charges — kidnapping, theft and murder — or so they thought at the time. They hadn't felt it necessary to reveal the rest.

"Still," Clark said, shifting the conversation back on track. "Lois couldn't have done it. She was at home in bed with me last night at two — not to mention all the previous nights this week."

"And you know this because you were there the whole time?"

"Where else would he be?" Lois asked when Clark hesitated.

"And she couldn't have gone out when… say… you were sleeping?"

"Bill, you don't really think that Lois is a suspect?" Clark asked instead of answering the question.

"Well…" Henderson's gaze shifted between Lois and Clark as if considering.

Lois narrowed her eyes and glared at the Inspector in return.

"No, I don't. But these victims were in different prisons, in different places, and yet all killed in the same way."

"Just because they were all stabbed doesn't mean that they were killed by the same person," Lois said. "Lots of people seem to get stabbed in this city — particularly in the prison system."

"That wasn't the only thing that connects them," Henderson said.

Lois settled back into her chair. "What else connects them?" she asked. This was the first they were hearing about another connection. Up until now it had appeared as if it was just a rash of murders in the prison system.

Henderson's eyes sized up both of the people in his office before responding. "Sorry, Lane. I can't give you that information. I might not think you're the killer. Not that you aren't capable of it," he added just in case she relaxed too much. "Still, I can't give you that information in this situation. You are still, at least on paper, a suspect. And even if you weren't, you are the press."


"'You're still a suspect,'" Lois fumed in the most unflattering impersonation she could produce of Inspector Henderson as she and Clark made their way out of the police station. "'And even if you weren't, you're still the press.' Hasn't he ever heard of the public's right to know? Of all the nerve…"

"Still, you can understand where he's coming from," Clark said, eliciting a glare from his wife. Unperturbed, he continued. "How would it look if he gave you information and it turned out that you were the killer?"

"I'm not the killer!"

Clark reached out taking her hand and pulling her to a stop. "I know that," Clark said.

Lois' expression instantly softened.

"Still," he continued gently, "there does seem to be a connection to you."

"There's a connection to you, too," Lois informed him indignantly. "In each and every one of those cases, I was rescued by Superman."

"Superman rescues a lot of people."

"And a lot more people than the ones who were killed have tried to kill me."

Knowing this was one argument he was not going to win at the moment, Clark didn't respond.

"Come on," Lois said, keeping hold of his hand as she led him towards the Jeep.

"Where are we going?"

"We're going to find out where Jace Mazik was killed."

"Why him?"

"Because he's the only victim not killed in the prison system so…"

"He's the only one who has a crime scene we might be able to see," Clark responded, instantly picking up on Lois' line of thought.



"I don't understand why you buy that garbage," Lois said as she and Clark rode the elevator to the newsroom.

Clark looked up from the paper he was reading. "Huh?"

Lois glanced around at the front cover of the Dirt Digger in Clark's hands, reading the headline out loud. "'Murder Suspect Accuses Ghost.' 'I'm Innocent.' 'The Ghost Shot Her.' Please!"

"It's really interesting, Lois. According to the article, this guy wakes up in the middle of the night to discover a woman he doesn't know in his bedroom holding a gun. He shouted and jumped up, tackling the woman — or trying to. He claims that he went right through her."

Lois rolled her eyes as they stepped out of the elevator.

"Anyway, that was when the woman shot his wife. Apparently, just before she died, his wife whispered a name. When the police checked, they discovered that the name was of a woman who had known his wife years before — but that she was dead. He even identified her picture from a photo line-up."

"Let me guess," Lois said. "There were no signs of forced entry."


"Clark!" Lois said in exasperation. "He's obviously bucking for an insanity defense."

"I don't know," Clark said thoughtfully.

"Look…" she said, pointing at the article next to the one he had been reading. "'Woman's Life Saved By Fairy.' Case closed."

"Well, you know, Lois. There are stories of fairies saving people. I remember one where a fairy queen saves a woman from a witch's spell when…" He suddenly burst into laughter when Lois glared at him.

Lois rolled her eyes, finally clueing into the fact that Clark was teasing her. When she swatted at him, he quickly ducked out of her way.

"Jimmy!" she yelled across the newsroom, purposely ignoring her mischievous husband.

"You bellowed, my queen?" Jimmy asked when he arrived at her desk.

"Don't you start, too," Lois responded. "Putting up with this one…" She jerked her thumb in Clark's direction. "…is bad enough."

Jimmy and Clark exchanged amused glances.

"So what do you need?" Jimmy asked.

Suddenly, Lois seemed distracted.

"What?" Clark asked.

She gestured to the black rose, now sitting in a vase on her desk. "Who did that?"

"Isn't that the rose you got this morning?" Jimmy asked.

Lois glanced over in her now empty trash can before looking back at the rose on her desk. "Jimmy, did you do this?" she demanded.

"Do what?"

Her gaze shifted to Clark.

"I take it there isn't a rose in your trash can."

She picked it up so that he could see the empty can for himself.

"So… maybe the rose is from someone in the office and they saw it there and thought…" Clark's voice trailed off when Lois folded her arms across her chest, waiting for him to continue.

He shrugged. "I don't get it either, Lois," he finally admitted.

Lois turned towards the other people in the newsroom. "Anyone want to explain about the rose?" she asked, demanding everyone's attention.

Most people glanced over, but no one answered.

Letting out a frustrated breath, she turned, dumping the flower and the vase in the garbage, topping it off with a stale cup of coffee for good measure.

"Uhh… Is there a problem here, folks?" a quiet, but very much in control, baritone voice asked behind them.

Lois looked up to see her boss standing next to her desk.

"Lois got a black rose from someone this morning and she's sort of freaking out… Uhh…" Clark hesitated when he saw the look Lois was giving him. "…bothered?" When she nodded, he continued. "She's bothered about the fact that there wasn't a card."

"Maybe you've got a secret admirer," Perry said.

"Perry, I'm married." She held up her left hand to show proof of that statement. "I don't want a secret admirer," she proceeded to announce to the rest of the newsroom.

"So what happened at the police station?"

"Oh, right," Clark said, getting his mind back on their current story. "They've finally released the names of the victims. Oh, and Henderson said that there's something else connecting the murders — something besides the fact that they were all stabbed, something that the police aren't telling us. But whatever it is makes them think they were all killed by the same person.

"What?" Perry asked.

"We don't know yet" Lois said, shooting Clark a look to be sure he knew that she didn't want him telling Perry what else connected them. After all, that was just one of those irrelevant details that would just make Perry worry.

"Anyway, Jimmy," Clark said, picking up on Lois warning, "that's why we need you to find out where Jace Mazik was killed."

"Since the police are being a little tight-lipped with this information, you might need to get creative," Lois added.

"No sweat," Jimmy said, already moving away. "I'll have it for you right away."

"Do we want to know how he's going to get that information?" Perry asked, watching Jimmy head towards his desk.

"I doubt it, Chief," Clark said.

"I thought not," Perry said, heading back towards his office.

Clark turned towards Lois. "I know you don't want Perry or Jimmy knowing about this guy's fixation with you, but…"

"He's not fixated on me!" Lois immediately objected. "How many times do I have to…" Her voice trailed off when her eyes landed on the garbage can.

"Just promise me you'll be careful, anyway," Clark said. "What?" he added when he realized that he'd lost her attention.

Lois suddenly rose to her feet, grabbed Clark's arm and began dragging him towards the conference room. When she closed the door and began drawing the blinds on the conference room windows, he joined her, without questioning her motivation, in ensuring they had some privacy.

"So what is it?" he asked once they were done.

"Clark, I've got a theory."


"But I've got to warn you, it's a little out there."

"When has that ever stopped you before? No, seriously, what is it?"

She let out a breath. "Well, it was just… When you made that comment about the killer being fixated on me…"


"Well, what if my 'secret admirer' — the one who sent me the rose — is the same guy as our killer. Black is the color of death, right? And today is the first time this so-called secret admirer has given me any reason to think he exists. Why today? Doesn't that seem like quite a coincidence to you?"

Clark thought about her comment in silence for a long moment. She was right. It was 'out there.' But then, if he'd learned anything over the years, it was to trust Lois' instincts. She didn't always think in a straight line. She made these amazing leaps of logic that turned out to be right more often than not. "Okay, let's run with that for a moment. If it is the same guy, and assuming that he is the one who dug the rose out of the garbage…"

"…then he had to have been in the Daily Planet at some point while we were out this morning. So what we need to do is check the security tapes from the lobby to find out who came in and out of the building today…"

"…and compare them with a list of people who might have access to the prisons the victims were serving time in."

"But, Clark," Lois continued, "if we're right… The killer could be almost anyone who works at the Daily Planet."

Clark glanced towards the closed blinds, suddenly understanding why she'd dragged them in there before discussing this with him. "Or it might be someone simply associated with the Daily Planet. After all, security isn't exactly tight here."

"True. But I still think we should be careful about who we give information to and where we discuss this — at least until we learn who we can trust and who we can't."

A sudden knock at the door disturbed their brainstorming session. A moment later, the doorknob turned and Jimmy stuck his head inside. "I've got that information you guys wanted."

"Thanks, Jimmy," Clark said, getting up and taking the piece of paper Jimmy was holding out to him. "Could we get you to do something else?" He turned to Lois. "Unless you think…" He gestured to Jimmy.

Lois gave him a swat. "No, of course not. But… Well, Jimmy, we need you to do something for us. But it's important that you not tell anyone what you're working on."

"No problem. What do you need?" Jimmy answered.

"The security tapes from the Daily Planet lobby from…" Clark looked at Lois.

"Two o'clock this morning on," Lois said.

"Sure," Jimmy said before turning and scurrying from the room.

"Why two o'clock?" Clark asked once the door was again closed.

"Henderson asked me what I was doing at two o'clock this morning," Lois said. "I assume that's because that's the time of death for our latest victim. That means…"

"…if the killer and your secret admirer are one in the same, he had to have come into the Daily Planet sometime after two a.m. this morning, when the last murder was committed, in order to be in the building so that he could dig the rose out of your trash can when we were out talking to Henderson."


"Another thing we should probably do is drop by 'Say It With Flowers' to see if they have records for either the purchase of a black rose or the delivery of a black rose to the Daily Planet."


By lunch time, Lois felt as if her eyes were going buggy. Sitting, staring at the grainy security tapes was taxing her ability to concentrate.

Activity on the early tapes was, predictably, slow. At about four, the crew responsible for getting the paper printed began to leave. At six, Perry entered. Between seven-thirty and eight-thirty, the majority of the reporters found their way into the Planet as the night crew began leaving. They were followed, shortly before nine, by the secretaries, executives and other administrative staff.

Lois and Clark made a list of all the names of people they knew and Clark used his special abilities to sketch pictures of the people they didn't. All in all, it was an excruciatingly long list. And no one jumped out of them as being a particularly likely suspect, although Lois kept humorously insisting that it must be Ralph simply as a way to relieve the boredom.

"This is insane!" Lois finally exclaimed to no one in particular.

"Do you want to take a break? Maybe get some lunch or go down to 'Say It With Flowers'?"

"Yeah, why don't we…" Her voice trailed off when the already fuzzy tape seemed to cloud over slightly, as if a mist had drifted into the room, before clearing again. "What was that?"

Clark looked at the screen. "What was what?"

Lois grabbed the remote, backing up the tape to watch again.

"Oh… probably just an imperfection in the… Wait! Pause it."

Lois immediately did. "What?"

"Just…" Clark took the remote and backed up the tape before running it forward again, this time slowly, frame by frame until he suddenly paused it.

Lois leaned towards the screen, seeing what Clark's enhanced visual abilities had failed to show her originally. Out of the mist, the figure of a man could be clearly seen. Clark forwarded it slowly once again and almost immediately, the apparition vanished.

"What was that?" Lois asked.

"Or who?"

They backed up the tape one more time, pausing once again on the strange figure that appeared in only a couple of frames. Clark picked up a paper and quickly sketched what little they could see, but without a full facial shot by the camera, all they could make out was a very poor side view. All they knew for sure he was a man with broad shoulders, a full head of short, dark hair and what could possibly be a neatly trimmed beard — or just a bad case of five o'clock shadow.

"Look familiar?" Clark asked.

"I don't know. Maybe. But… I'm sorry, I just don't know. I mean, from that angle, it could be anyone — even a trick of the light. I mean, after all, this can't be real, can it?"

"I don't know. Do you remember the shadow killer? What was his name again?"

"Something Hanson. Edward Hanson. That's it! Except, he couldn't be in the light. And yet…" She gestured at the television screen. "Whoever this is obviously doesn't have that problem. There is more than enough light in the Daily Planet lobby. But Edward Hanson is dead. Gone."


"Besides, Hanson was one of the people trying to kill me. Why would he then turn around and start killing people who tried to kill me?"

"Again, true. Still, if this 'secret admirer' of yours was less than… substantial, it would certainly explain how he could get into a locked prison to kill all those men and women. On the other hand, I suspect the explanation's a little more…"


Clark smiled. "I was going to say 'earth-bound.' After all, I can't see us going to Henderson and telling him 'the Shadow knows.'"

A grin crept onto Lois' face. "We could suggest he speak to Kent Allard to get more information. Hey, is that wHere you got the idea of a secret identity?"

Clark rolled his eyes. "So… we keep going," Clark said, getting them back on track.

"After lunch," Lois said resolutely. "And while we're out, let's check out 'Say It With Flowers' and Jace Mazik's murder scene."

Clark smiled. "How can a guy resist an invitation like that?" he asked, offering Lois his arm. "Flowers, food and forensics. Talk about your dream date. Maybe I'll even get lucky."

She took his arm. "That's what I like about you. You're such a romantic."


Clark smiled as he watched his wife finish off the last of her Chinese chicken salad with gusto. How she managed to keep her trim figure when clearly enjoying food as much as she did was a mystery to Clark. Undoubtedly, all of her self defense training helped in that regard. And since she seldom seemed content to sit still and relax, he suspected that contributed to her slim waistline, too.

"You know, Clark, I've been thinking," she said when she finally came up for air. "The apparition, or whatever it was we saw on that tape, sort of reminded me of Katie Banks."

"Lois, what we saw on that tape was definitely a man."

"I don't mean that it 'was' Katie Banks. Only that it reminded me of her. Sometimes she could seem… well, ghostlike. Other times she was quite substantial."

"Lois, I suspect what we thought we saw on that tape… well, we didn't really see. It was probably just a trick of the light or something."

"Maybe. But, Clark, what if that's it? What if someone dead, someone from my past, has come back to… I don't know, get revenge for me?"

"Revenge for you?"

"He's killing the people who tried to kill me." She shrugged. "It almost seems as if he's become some sort of… avenger. Try to kill Lois Lane; face my wrath."

"But who would do something like that?"

They both looked at each other for a long moment before speaking simultaneously.



"Clark, I don't like this," Lois said, shivering slightly.

"Lois, I'm sure we're overreacting here. Luthor isn't coming back from the dead like Katie Banks did. There's no mystery about his death. So he's not going to come back to seek closure. He was killed when a weapon he obtained caused the building he was in to collapse." He slid his chair over so that he could wrap his arm around her shoulders. He could tell she was really upset when she leaned into him, accepting without comment both his comfort and his protection. "Besides," he continued after a moment, trying to lighten the mood, "can you honestly see Luthor having a beard?"

She gave a small, amused snort. "He's more likely to be the guy in that song from the seventies. You know the one posting the sign saying, 'Long haired, freaky people need not apply.'"

"Exactly! So, see, it couldn't have been him. He wouldn't be caught 'dead' with a beard."

Her snort this time held even more amusement and when she pulled back to look at him, he could see the twinkle in her eyes.

"I'm sure we'll figure this out, honey," he continued. "And I'm sure it will all turn out to have some sort of rational explanation."

"You're right. So…"

"Say It With Flowers?"

"Let's hit it." She rose to her feet. "Besides, maybe a trip to a flower store will give you an idea about starting a new Halloween tradition."

He smiled as he dumped some money for both the meal and tip onto the table and followed the once again formidable woman he had married out of the cafe.


All the way to the florist, Clark could hear his wife singing softly.

{*"And the sign said, 'Long-haired freaky people need not apply.'

So I tucked my hair up under my hat, and I went in to ask him why.

He said, 'You look like a fine, upstanding young man, I think you'll do.'

So I took off my hat and said, "Imagine that! Huh, me workin' for you!*}

{*"Oh, sign, sign. Everywhere a sign.

Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.

Do this. Don't do that.

Can't you read the sign."*}

Still, he said nothing, simply enjoying the sound of his wife's voice, even when she, not knowing the words to any of the other verses, continued to sing the first one again and again. He suspected she wasn't even fully aware she was doing it. But he knew how that was — getting a song stuck in his mind. Unfortunately, unlike Lois, he couldn't sing to save his soul.

Her singing finally ended when she pulled into a space in front of the store, causing another driver to honk furiously at the theft of his spot.

Unperturbed, Lois got out of the Jeep and headed towards the flower shop. Stopping for a moment, she looked in the window. The store was larger than she had expected and had an incredible assortment of flowers — although, come to think of it, that shouldn't have surprised her. After all, how many stores carried the illusive 'black' rose?

A number of arrangements in the window made use of the Halloween theme. She nudged Clark who rolled his eyes in return.

"I bet some men give their wives flowers on Halloween," Lois pouted as they made their way the door. Clark's soft laughter followed her comment.

Clark pushed open the door and held it for her to walk through. Above them, a small chime sounded, announcing the arrival of customers. The girl behind the counter looked somewhat out of place, slouching against the counter with her multiple piercings and her almost exclusively black clothing and makeup.

"Can I help you?" the young woman asked, hardly stopping her gum chewing long enough to get the question out.

"Your name. Start by telling them your name. And take that gum out of your mouth."

Lois glanced towards the sound of the new voice entering the conversation as the young woman behind the counter quickly reached into her mouth and removed her gum before saying, "Oh right. I'm Sandy. Can I help you?"

But Lois' focus had changed to the matronly looking woman, probably in her early to mid-seventies, who was walking into the room from a cold room filled with flowers. The differences between the two women were startlingly obvious. Lois felt as if she had suddenly been thrust into the middle of a bizarre movie: 'Mrs. Cleaver's mother meets Bride of Frankenstein.'

"You'll have to forgive my granddaughter," the older woman said. "She just started working here. Sandy, why don't you go into the back and get Mr. Bodes' order ready?"

"Yes, Grandma," Sandy responded, standing up a little straighter as she rushed to do as instructed.

Lois smiled. Whoever this girl was, it seemed obvious that she respected her grandmother. Ever the curious reporter, Lois found herself wondering about the story there. Unfortunately, there were other matters more pressing at the moment.

"I'm Evelyn," the older woman informed them. "So how can I help you today?"

"We're wondering if you carry black roses."

"As a matter of fact, yes. We're one of the few stores in Metropolis that do. We just got a nice selection of them in." She began to move, anticipating that they would want to see the roses to make their selection.

"Actually," Clark interrupted, "we were more interested in a delivery you might have made to the Daily Planet of a single black rose."

Evelyn moved back towards the counter. "Any particular reason you want to know this?" she asked, much more suspicious now.

"I got a delivery of one this morning," Lois said. "But the card seems to be missing. It was stunning."

Evelyn's expression cleared. "Oh, well…" She began sorting through the morning's delivery inventory. "Sorry. No deliveries at all to the Daily Planet this morning."

"Would someone have come in and purchased one either yesterday or today and taken it with them?" Clark asked.

"I don't recall anyone purchasing a black rose since we got two dozen in the other day. Are you sure it came from here?"

"That's what the box said."

"Well, I don't know what to say."

"Could someone else have sold it to him? Your granddaughter, maybe?"

"It's possible. Sandy?" she called into the back.

"Yes, Grandma?" Sandy asked, appearing in the doorway a moment later.

"Did you sell a black rose last night after I left?"

"No. Except…"

"Except?" Clark prompted.

"Well, something sort of funny did happen last night." She paused, as if not entirely sure how to say what she was thinking.

"What happened?" asked Evelyn.

"Well, this guy came in asking about black roses. Like, did we have any." She shifted uncomfortably. "He sort of startled me because he seemed to appear out of nowhere. I mean, I never even heard the bell over the door ring when he came in. Anyway, I told him that we had black roses and started to lead him towards the case where they are and… Well, when I got there and turned around, he was gone."

"Gone?" Lois asked.

Sandy shrugged. "Funny thing is, I didn't like hear him leave either."

Evelyn made her way over to the display case containing the roses, looking at them for a long moment. Lois and Clark followed her.

"Did you say you got two dozen in?" Clark asked.


"And you haven't sold any yet?"

"No, we haven't. They might be beautiful, but they are never a really hot item."

"There are only twenty-three in the case."


"So what do you make of that?" Lois asked as she and Clark made their way to their next stop — Jace Mazik's murder scene.

"I'm not sure what to make of it. At least she gave a pretty detailed description. White man. Dark complexion. Short dark hair. Neatly trimmed beard. Tall. Broad shoulders. Decent build."

"That could describe a lot of people. Take away the beard, and that could be you." She glanced at him from the driver's seat, running her eyes down his body. "Except in your case that would have to be excellent build." She drew in a breath through her teeth.

"I'll let you explore it later if you want," Clark responded, causing Lois to laugh. "But the other stuff was interesting. 'Old guy.'"

"Clark, she's sixteen. 'Old guy' could mean just about anything."

"Yeah, but the accent. She said he had an accent — she thought it was English, or something."

"It's the 'or something' that worries me. Probably she'd know if it was an Indian accent or something like that, but English accent could mean just about anything. Australian. New Yorker."

"She'd probably recognize that as not being an 'English' accent."

"True. But almost every English speaking country uses a different, but similar accent."

"Even within England, there are a lot of different accents. Heck, there are some English accents that are so heavy I can barely understand them."

Lois looked over at him suddenly. "Clark, do you think it could be Nigel St. John? I mean, it fits, sort of. English accent. Old guy. Beard."

"True. But I doubt St. John is going to send you flowers. Besides, he's dead. Mazik killed him."

"Unless he came back as a ghost."

"Okay, if we are going to follow this through to its logical conclusion, laying aside the fact that St. John is dead, she said he had dark hair. That doesn't describe Nigel."

She let out a breath. "True enough. And would a ghost get a dye job?"

"What if we try faxing her a picture of St. John when we get back to the office — see if she recognizes it?"

"Good idea." Lois hesitated for a moment before saying, "Let's fax her a picture of Lex, too. Clark, something about this whole situation seems more… Lex than Nigel to me."

Their conversation ended when they arrived in front of the office building where Jace Mazik's body had been found — the executive offices of Mazik Jewelry. Why Mazik had an office there was something of a mystery since the business itself had been left to his brother. Still, it was where Jace's body had been found, so it was where they needed to be.

Exiting the Jeep, they made their way up in the building's elevator until they reached the forty-seventh floor. As they stepped out of the elevator, they were greeted by yellow police tape blocking off the door to one of the offices.

"Can I help you?" asked the young woman behind the reception desk.

With one last look at the door with the yellow tape, Lois made her way over to the receptionist. "What happened there?" she asked casually, gesturing to the yellow tape. She figured that the question itself was innocent enough in the circumstances, the type of thing anyone would ask if they saw police tape blocking off an area.

"Jace was killed the other day," the woman responded casually. "Jace Mazik," she went on to clarify.

Lois regarded the woman before her, noting the complete lack of emotion the woman showed over the death of a man she seemed to know well enough to call by his first name.

The woman seemed to notice Lois' surprise. "He was a jerk," the woman said, blushing faintly. "Sorry. I probably shouldn't speak ill of the dead." Then, as if in an effort to change the subject from how much she had disliked Mazik, she continued, "We're closing early today for his funeral."

"So what happened?" Clark asked.

The receptionist shook her head. "It was really weird. He was here late that night. Not sure why. He didn't really do any work. When I came in the next morning, there were police crawling all over this place." The receptionist looked around before leaning closer to them. Lois and Clark matched her movements. When she continued this time, her voice was much lower. "I don't know what was going on in there the night he died, but I got a look in his office when the police were working there."

"And?" Lois asked curiously.

The receptionist looked around again before continuing. "There were candles everywhere. I think Jace must have been involved with some weird cult or something. Not that I knew anything about it. The police asked me about that, too. But it was just like Jace. Do you know that he used to go on for hours about how he'd had some diary about the future?"

Clark glanced towards the room again, lowering his glasses to look over the top. His eyebrows rose in disbelief when he saw what was inside.


"So what exactly are we waiting for?" Clark asked as Lois continued to sit behind the wheel of the Jeep, not turning it on.

"She said they were closing early for the funeral," Lois responded as if that explained everything.

"You're going to break into a dead man's office while everyone is at his funeral?"

"It's not as if he's going to mind. Besides, we're not casing the joint to rip him off. We're just trying to figure out who killed him."

"I already told you what was in the office," Clark said patiently, even though he knew it would do no good. Still, he felt compelled to make the effort — for tradition's sake, if nothing else.

"I want to see for myself," Lois responded, continuing to watch the front door of the building. "Besides, we might find something the police overlooked."

"Lois, has it ever occurred to you that we might end up messing up a police crime scene?"

Lois rolled her eyes. "I know how to conduct myself at a crime scene, Clark."

The slight exasperation in Lois' voice on the last statement told Clark he'd lost the argument.

"There she is!" Lois exclaimed when the receptionist emerged from the building with a group of people fifteen minutes later. "Let's go."


Getting into the office had been ridiculously easy. An elevator ride to the forty-sixth floor. Taking the stairs one more flight. Lois had made short work of the locks on the door, allowing them entrance. Lois hoped they didn't keep any of their jewelry there, because this would be a thief's paradise if they did.

Still, without a moment's pause, she made her way to the police tape, turning to remove the handkerchief from Clark's pocket to open the, surprisingly, unlocked door.

She pushed it open and then simply stood in silence for a moment as she took in the sight before her. "You weren't joking," she finally said before ducking under the police tape to enter the room.

Slowly making her way around the room, she gave herself time to take it all in. The blinds on the large windows looking out over the city were drawn, leaving the room in a kind of half light, which magnified the effect of the rest. The desk itself, a large and obviously quite expensive wooden desk was the focal point of the room. It had been cleared off completely and, judging by the chalk marks on top, not to mention the blood that had stained the carpet around it, was the place where Jace's body had been found. In fact, were one to believe the chalk marks, Jace had been stretched out on top of the flat surface when he had been killed.

Around the desk in what appeared to be a circle, were dozens of candles in ancient looking candle holders. Judging by the length of the candles, they had been extinguished following… whatever had happened there. 'Weird cult' was right, because whatever other motives might have been involved in Mazik's death, this had all the markings of a ritual killing. Unless, of course, that was just to throw the police off base.


"Tired?" Clark asked, coming up behind where his wife was seated on the couch. When he saw her rubbing her shoulder, he instantly stepped forward to take over the task.

Following the trip over to Mazik's office, they had returned to the Planet to write up their account of the mystery man's latest prison murder for the morning edition and faxed pictures of both Nigel St. John and Lex Luthor to 'Say It With Flowers' before leaving for the night. Given that Lois had seemed unusually reflective when they'd faxed Luthor's picture, Clark had decided to get Chinese food from her favorite little Chinese restaurant in Shanghai.

The food hadn't helped. Lois had eaten mostly in silence, in spite of repeated attempts by Clark to draw her out and his constant reassurances that the mystery man was not Lex Luthor risen from the dead for a second time.

"Mmm," she moaned, closing her eyes and relaxing back into his massage. "Do you have any idea how good that feels?"

She tilted her head to the side, giving him better access to the spot troubling her the most. Seeing that long, lovely column of ivory skin, he was unable to resist leaning over and gently kissing her neck.

"Mmmmm," she moaned even longer this time. "That feels even better."

"Really?" he asked, stopping the massage so that he could hop over the back of the couch to land lightly beside her.

"Hands! Hands!" she objected, turning her back to him so that he could continue his ministrations.

"Sorry," he said, quickly resuming the massage as he moved onto his knees behind her.

He waited a few moments, watching her melt into the soothing feel of his fingers kneading the knotted muscles in her neck, before speaking again.

"You know," he whispered into her ear, nipping lightly at the lobe while doing so, "it would certainly be more effective if there wasn't so much material in the way."

He could sense her smile before she suddenly leaned forward, quickly pulling her sweater over her head, allowing it to land in a puddle on the floor.

"Oh, much better," Clark said, running the tips of his fingers down over her shoulders with a feather-like touch. "Yes, much better." He leaned over, kissing her shoulder.

"Just keep your mind on your task, flyboy," Lois said, trying to sound cross. Unfortunately, the words came out just a bit too breathless to leave the appropriate impression.

"Yes, ma'am," Clark responded, returning to the massage.

"Mmm," Lois moaned before saying, "Clark?"


"Don't ever call me ma'am again."

Behind her, Clark chuckled as his hands left her shoulders to begin working on the muscles of her back. Suddenly, his hands seemed to become distracted by the thin, white strap cutting across the otherwise bare surface.

"You know," he said softly, kissing her just under her right ear. "This would be a lot easier to do if this wasn't in the way."

There was a moment's pause before Lois responded. "You wouldn't be trying to take advantage of me, now would you, flyboy?" she asked.

"Moi?" Clark asked, employing his most innocent sounding voice. "Now, whatever would make you think that?"

"Well, then, okay," Lois said, reaching around to undo the strap. "Just… no funny stuff."

"Of course not. I'm offended that you could even think otherwise." Clark instantly reached under the shoulder straps, assisting her in removing the light cotton, lightly brushing against some very sensitive regions of her body, almost as if by accident.

"Oh, pardonnez-moi, mademoiselle," Clark exclaimed immediately, provoking a belly laugh from Lois as her bra joined her shirt on the floor.


Lois ran her hands lovingly through her husband's hair. How exactly she had gone from that erotic massage on their couch to the upstairs bedroom being thoroughly kissed, Lois was entirely uncertain. It was as if she'd been so lost in the pleasure he was giving her that one move led to another with fluidity. Why was it that after over a year of marriage, he could still make her feel this way?

Maybe it was because he was just so darn good at it, she thought irrelevantly. And he just seemed to get better and better, she silently added as his hands found hers, shifting them so that he had her trapped against the bed as his lips moved to her throat. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to get lost in the sensations he was so expertly creating in her as liquid heat began to pool in her belly.

But then, he'd always been good. On their honeymoon, he had surprised her. Oh sure, there had been some fumbling, some awkward moments, but overall, he seemed capable of reading her reactions to his various moves, realizing almost instantly what pleased her best.

She'd wondered several times whether he was making use of his extraordinary senses when he made love to her. But still, in spite of the fact that they had been married for over a year, she'd not worked up the nerve to ask.

She pushed the thought from her mind as irrelevant. Who cared how he was doing it? All that mattered was… "Oh, god," she moaned when his lips moved even lower and thought was blocked out as feelings so rich and real surrounded her, engulfing her in an erotic haze.

She pulled against his hands, wanting to touch him, but he held firm, leaving her in frustrated bliss.

She opened her eyes, looking down at his dark head as he bent over her, basking in the sight when something suddenly…

"Oh, god!" she said, echoing her previous words, but this time they were said with a note of almost terror in them. She began squirming and fighting to get out from under him.

He released her instantly, his head coming up in confusion.

"What?" he asked.

"There!" she exclaimed, grabbing one of the pillows off the bed to cover herself.

He spun around but by the time he did, it was gone.


"There was someone in here. I saw him. He was watching us."


Clark found himself keeping an eye on Lois as they made their way to the Daily Planet the next morning. He knew she'd received very little sleep the night before. After her… whatever she had seen, he'd searched every inch of their brownstone. When he'd turned up nothing with his superpowers, and that had still failed to reassure her, he'd actually gotten out of bed, checking doors and windows, closets and under furniture.

When he'd finally returned to the room, she was wearing more clothing than an Inuit in the dead of winter. Pajama's — the kind with little feet in them — covered her body from her neck to the tips of her toes. Since he'd never seen those particular pajamas, he had momentarily wondered where she'd found them. In addition to the very modest pajamas, she'd also been wearing a robe. Not the light, sexy variety that he'd become use to seeing her in most of the time since their marriage. No, this was the heaviest, fluffiest, longest robe she owned. And on top of all that, she'd been wrapped in at least two blankets and was holding the baseball bat he'd insisted on keeping next to the bed in case someone broke in while he was out being Superman — a gesture she had rolled her eyes at until last night.

When he'd finally gotten her to calm down enough to tell him if she recognized the man she'd seen, he'd discovered that she'd only seen him for a second. In fact, she couldn't be entirely certain that it was a 'him.'

After that had come long hours of removing the bat from her hands and talking her out of the blankets and robe long enough to crawl into bed. Still, getting her out of the footed pajamas had simply not been possible. Then when he'd tried to turn out the lights, she'd insisted that she wanted them left on.

She'd curled up in his arms and then, for the next several hours, he'd listened to her breathing and known that she was still wide awake.

He still wasn't sure what she'd seen — provided that she'd actually seen anything. Oh, not that he doubted that she believed she'd seen something. But… well, none of his superpowers were able to find any trace of what she'd claimed had been in their room only an instant before he'd turned around.

"What?" Lois finally demanded as they rode up the elevator to the newsroom.

"Nothing," he protested weakly, realizing at once that she was genuinely pissed at him.

"Then why do you keep looking at me as if you think I've lost my mind? Do you think my eyes are suddenly going to roll back in my head and I'm going to start chanting?" she asked, arms folded defensively across her chest.

"Lois, I don't think that you've lost your mind."

"But you don't believe me about someone being in our room last night," she stated.

"It's not that I don't believe you." He halted when he saw the look of disbelief she gave him in return. "I believe you think you saw something," he continued hastily. "I'm just wondering…"


"Well… With all this talk about ghosts and ritual sacrifices and…" The elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. "…all these witches and goblins everywhere…" He gestured to the Halloween decorations as they stepped off the elevator. "…I just sort of wonder if maybe your… imagination got away from you last night."

"Clark, there was someone in our room," she said with conviction, heading briskly towards her desk. "I don't know why you couldn't see him or why you couldn't find any evidence of him, but he was there." She stopped at her desk, staring for a moment at the black rose that was again sitting in a vase on her desk. Without comment this time, she simply picked up the vase, dropping it into her garbage can, before turning back to look at him. "There was someone in our house last night, and I think it's the same someone who has been killing people in some pathetic attempt to avenge me. I have no idea who he is, or what he is, or why he's doing this, but I intend to find out. Now… Are you going to help me or not?"

He sighed. "So where do you suggest we start?" he asked.

Her face relaxed and she gave him that look — the one that said she absolutely adored him — and suddenly, his determination was restored to do everything he could to help her get to the bottom of this mystery. After all, maybe it would make these nightmares — or was that daymares since she hadn't actually been asleep at the time? — go away.

"Jimmy!" she yelled, sending their young friend scampering in their direction.

"Happy Halloween," Jimmy said, screeching to a halt beside her desk. "Or not," he continued when Lois glared at him.

"Get us everything you can find about ritual sacrifices… oh, and black roses," she said, forgoing any sort of greeting.

Jimmy glanced over at Clark who immediately nodded.

"No problem," Jimmy said, heading quickly away to get the information.

"Also," she continued when Jimmy was gone, "we need to find out if the prison murders were committed using… some sort of ritual. Henderson said that the stabbing wasn't the only thing that connected these murders. So maybe it was the ritualistic nature of the murders."

"I have a friend who works at Stryker's Island Penitentiary. Three of the murders occurred there. He might have heard something," Clark said.

"Good. Give him a call."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to call our flower girl and see if she identified either of those pictures we sent her."

As Clark made his way to his desk, Lois sorted around on the top of hers until she located the number for 'Say It With Flowers.' As she began punching in the number, she watched Clark flip through his rolodex.

"Kent, line two!" came a voice from across the newsroom.

She was still waiting for her call to be answered when Clark gave up searching his rolodex to pick up his phone.

"Clark Kent," she heard him say into it. And then she almost missed the voice on the other end of her line when she heard Clark say, "Hi, Inspector. What can I do for you?"

"Say it with flowers. Evelyn speaking. Can I help you?"

The voice repeating the same message brought her back to her own phone call with a vengeance. "Hi, Evelyn. It's Lois Lane calling. Did your granddaughter recognize either of those pictures?"

"No, Ms. Lane. I'm afraid she's quite certain that it's neither of those men that she saw."

Lois couldn't believe how relieved she was. It wasn't Lex. "Thank you, Evelyn."

"But if you have any more pictures for her to look at, she'd be happy to do so," Evelyn continued. "We're quite interested in solving this mystery, too."

Lois smiled, suddenly struck with the image of an old lady and her granddaughter bonding over figuring out this mystery. "Thank you. If I have any other pictures for her to look at, I'll be sure to let you know."

By the time she hung up the phone, Clark had finished his call with Inspector Henderson and was standing next to her desk.

"What did Henderson want?" Lois asked.

"He wants us down at the station as soon as possible."

"Did he say why?"


"Then what are we waiting for?" Lois asked, quickly rising to her feet. The sooner they got to the bottom of this, the happier she'd be. And there was only one thing in Lois' mind that Henderson could be contacting them about, he had more information about the murders.


"Looking a little green around the collar today, Lane," Henderson said the moment Lois and Clark stepped into his office. "Couldn't be that you were out late on a killing spree or something, could it?"

Lois simply glared at him as she sank into a chair. "What did you want to see us about, Henderson?" she asked, ignoring the question.

"Right," Henderson said, backing off as soon as he realized that today was not a good day to pull her chain. He couldn't say exactly why it mattered to him, but it felt a little like kicking a puppy when it was already injured — not an image he'd normally associate with the young woman in his office. "What do you know about a Myrtle Beech and a Dr. Jefferson Cole?"

"Did both try to kill me? Is that what you're asking?"

"Yes, now I know that Jefferson Cole did. But what about Myrtle Beech? I thought she just tried to bust up your wedding."

"She tried to kill Lois by switching her wedding ring for one that would send enough electricity into her to kill her," Clark said. "We managed to talk her down."

"Were both of them killed last night?" Lois asked, her face pale, her voice little more than a whisper.

"Yes. Cole at Stryker's Island and Myrtle at the Metropolis Criminal Psychiatric Hospital. Fifteen minutes apart."

"No one could get from Stryker's to the MCPH in fifteen minutes," Clark said.

"Except Superman," Henderson said.

"Superman would never…" Lois began, jumping to her feet, showing more life than she had since Henderson had begun talking about the latest victims.

"Relax, Lane. I know that."

"So what are you saying, Inspector?" Clark asked as Lois settled back into her chair.

"That we must have at least two people involved in this."

"Two people?" Clark asked, glancing over at Lois. "Were the latest victims murdered in some sort of ritualistic killing too?"

"How did you know about that?" Henderson demanded. "We aren't letting that information out."

"Come on, Henderson," Lois said when Clark seemed to hesitate. "You must have known you couldn't keep it a secret forever."


"Well, at least he confirmed that the murders were all some sort of ritualistic killings," Clark said as he deftly drove the Jeep through the streets of Metropolis, hoping to provoke some sort of response from his too-quiet wife. "Even if he didn't quite know that's what he was doing. I guess it makes sense that there would be more than one person involved if it's some sort of cult."

"There's only one person committing these murders," Lois said softly, speaking for the first time since they had left the police station.

"Lois, you heard Henderson. Only Superman could get from Stryker's to the hospital in fifteen minutes — even if a person hit every green light."

"I don't know how he's doing it, Clark," Lois snapped. "But I know it's only one person."

Clark silently switched lanes, preparing for a left turn.

"I'm sorry," Lois said softly. "I guess this whole thing just has me a little… spooked."

"Well, considering that today is Halloween…" he said.

She gave him a weak smile, recognizing his effort to lighten the mood with a little humor.

He reached across, giving her hand a squeeze. "We'll get to the bottom of this, Lois. I promise," he said softly.


Lois and Clark were going through the rest of the security video tapes from the previous day when Jimmy entered the conference room, his arms piled high with papers and books.

"Everything you never wanted to know about ritual sacrifices and black roses." He set his burden on a spot on the table Clark had cleared for him.

"Were there any points at which your research intersected?" Lois asked.

"Yeah. Just once."

"When was that?"

Jimmy quickly searched through the material he had brought them. "Uhh… here it is." He handed Clark the document. "Apparently, the black rose was a symbol used by the…"

"Council of Roisin Dubh," Clark finished as he read the paper. "Roisin Dubh means black rose in Irish."

"Really?" Jimmy said. "Cool. I didn't know that. Anyway, legend has it that this council was made up of a bunch of Druid priests."

Lois and Clark shared a look but didn't interrupt.

"From the sounds of it, these were really bad guys. I mean, like really bad. The black rose was their symbol. They wore these black robes and lived together in this huge mansion. They used to terrorize the local population. For example, at night they are said to have feasted on dead bodies. Anyway, apparently they had all these creepy powers like being able to use a scent of some kind to paralyze a person's body and infect his mind with images that were so horrible that they could literally drive a person nuts. They were finally killed by the locals from the surrounding villages — at least that's what the villagers claim. But the Druids' bodies were never found, so who knows. The villagers might have just been trying to make themselves look good.

"Anyway, the reason it showed up in both searches is that they apparently conducted some really creepy ritualistic sacrifices — human, of course. And, get this, when they did the sacrifices, they did them in the nude wearing nothing more than a fox skin tied around their left arms. Spooky, huh?"

"You could say that," Lois responded softly.

"I found out something else, too," Jimmy continued. "Not really on topic, but did you know that Halloween is actually based on the Celtic festival of Samhain — the day of the dead. Lots of things are said to happen. For example, if a person walks backwards while looking in a mirror on Samhain, the face they will see is that of their next lover."

"Jimmy, the face they will see is their own," Lois said.

"Of course, that might make the prediction more accurate than it would otherwise be," Clark said with a laugh.

"Hey, good one, C.K. I never thought of that. Anyway, the Celts apparently believed that during Samhain, the ghosts of the dead would come back and mingle with the living. In fact, virtually all present Halloween customs can be traced back to Samhain. For example, the giving out of candy… Well, the Celts would place food outside their doors to keep the evil spirits from invading their houses — or, well, something like that. Anyway, I thought it was sort of cool how you two are investigating the Celts today of all…"

"Thank you, Jimmy," Clark said, noticing that Lois was too lost in thought to stop him.

"Oh, sure. No problem, C.K.," Jimmy said, heading for the door.

"Druids," Lois said thoughtfully as the door closed. "Clark, you don't suppose…"

"No! We saw him lose control of his powers and melt or something."

"Did we? All I really remember is that… his eyes were glowing behind that mask and he was claiming that 'Superman's powers didn't compare to his.' And then he disappeared into that green mist." Something seemed to click suddenly in Lois mind. "And that mist we saw on the security tapes…" She began frantically searching among the papers on the desk. Finding the one she wanted, the picture Clark had drawn of the ghostly apparition they had seen in the mist. "That could very well be Patrick Sullivan," she said, snapping the paper down on the table.


"You want a picture of Patrick Sullivan?" Jimmy asked, instantly typing their request into his computer. "Isn't he that old boyfriend of Lois'? The guy who thought he was a Druid priest? Oh, I get it. You were investigating Druids and…" He paused when he found a picture. He quickly pressed the appropriate keys to send it to the printer. "Whatever happened to him, anyway?"

"We're not exactly sure," Clark said, glancing over at Lois. "This maybe a wild goose chase, but… well, we need to follow all the leads."

"But it makes sense, Clark," Lois objected.

"Are you forgetting that he's one of the people who tried to kill you?" Clark asked.

"True. But… Well, I've got the feeling he wouldn't be very happy if anyone else tried."

Strange as it sounded, Clark had to agree. "According to his old nurse, he thought you were the one he loved the most. And that's why he had to sacrifice you to the ancient gods — so that ultimate power would be his. But from what we saw… Well, the way he fought Superman, I'd say he had already gotten at least some of those powers."

"Exactly, so when he seemed to lose control of his powers and suddenly vanished… Aren't we just guessing when we say that he's dead? Maybe he never lost control at all. Maybe he just turned into that green mist so that he could escape when he realized he wasn't going to defeat Superman."

"I suppose so. But still…"

"It's him, Clark. I know it's him. Think about what Sally saw. Brown hair. Beard. Accent — but it wasn't English, it was Irish. It's got to be him. All we have to do is send her that picture and…"

"Hey, are you guys ready for the masquerade ball tonight?" Perry said, sneaking up on them unexpectedly.

"Not tonight, Perry," Lois instantly responded. "We're onto something here and really have to follow up on it."

Perry stepped up, placing a hand on her forehead. "No fever." He moved around her, inspecting her from all sides. "I don't see any gaping wounds or broken bones. Doesn't look to me as if you're about to be admitted to the hospital."

"Chief…" Lois began.

"Do you have your costume yet, Lois?" Perry asked, interrupting her with his 'I will not brook any nonsense from the peanut gallery' voice.

"Costume?" Lois said in horror, having forgotten all about the need to get a costume. "Perry, I can't go. Where am I going to find a costume at this late hour on Halloween?"

"Go get a costume," he said, pointing towards the elevators. "And I don't consider 'recently unemployed star reporter' to be a costume. I assume you need one too, Clark?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then get out of here. And I will see you tonight!" With that, Perry turned and walked away.

"Jimmy," Lois said, spinning back towards the young man at the computer, "could you fax that picture of Patrick Sullivan over to 'Say It With Flowers?' Beep us if anyone calls back."

"Sure thing," Jimmy said, rising to his feet. "And, hey, don't worry about tonight, Lois. It'll be fun."

Lois simply glared at him until he suddenly decided that Sullivan's picture must be finished printing by now and headed in haste towards the printer.


Jimmy quickly shut down his computer and cleared his desk. Lois and Clark might not be looking forward to this party — or at least, Lois might not — but Jimmy was. He had a date with Jennifer, the new girl in Accounting, and he had a really cool Zorro costume to wear.

He grabbed his coat, heading for the elevator. Just as the doors slid closed, the phone started to ring.

Jimmy never heard it.


Clark opened the Jeep door and disembarked. As he and Lois headed into the building that Stern had rented for this shindig, Clark glanced at his wife, watching as she pulled her coat tighter around her body, doing it up to the highest button before checking to be sure the lowest button was also fastened.

"It doesn't look that bad, Lois," he said, knowing if he told her exactly how good she looked in that particular costume, she'd completely panic.

"No one is ever going to take me seriously in the newsroom again," Lois responded. "I'm not taking this coat off all night. I don't care if Perry fires me. It stays on. I'm wearing my costume under it. That will have to do. I don't see how they can even call this decent."

"If you hate it so much, why didn't you rent something else?"

"The only other costumes they had left were harem girl costumes. Believe it or not, this one is more decent."

He slipped an arm around her. "I'm not too happy with my costume either," he said comfortingly.

"You're Zorro!" she exclaimed. "There's nothing wrong with being Zorro!"

"So what? You're Princess Leia. And didn't Princess Leia kill Jabba the Hutt?"

"I'm in a golden bikini costume, Clark! I even have a collar — with a leash!" She held up the particularly offensive item for a moment so that he could clearly see it.

He took it in his hands and, after a brief look around, simply snapped the leash off before putting it in his pocket. He was relieved to see that she looked somewhat mollified. "Lois, think of it this way. You wear less than that at the beach."

"We're not at the beach, Clark. And it's the end of October."

"I know, but… after this is over, I promise I'll fly you to one. So just think of this party as… making your way to the beach."

"Hmph," was her response to that suggestion. "Besides, we can't go to the beach." She pulled him to a stop, turning him to face her. "We stay for an hour. Deal?"


"Patrick is killing people as some sort of… I don't know… attempt to avenge me?"

"We don't know that it's Sullivan."

Ignoring his comment, Lois continued. "There have been murders every night this week — two last night. We've got to stop him as soon as possible — preferably before he kills again. So we come… We make sure we're seen by Perry and Mr. Stern and then we go. Deal?"

He sighed. "Deal."

"Okay, and during the time we're here, I keep my coat on."



"Well… you will take the coat off when we get home, won't you?" he asked hopefully.

She gave him a playful swat before they both stepped through the doors of the building.

The doorman handed Clark a mask. "I've already got one," Clark said, passing it on to Lois.

"This is probably the only good thing about tonight," Lois said, affixing the mask to her face.

"What is?"

"At least I don't have to show my face in public while wearing this outfit."

Clark chuckled, placing a hand on the small of her back as he led her through the doors into the ballroom.


Even in her current mood, Lois had to admit that Franklin Stern had gone all out with this party. Walking though the doors into the ballroom was like walking into a haunted house. And not a cheap haunted house, either. This place looked like one of those old mansions on one of a hundred standard, garden-variety horror flicks. In fact, she suspected that Stern's decorating crew must have raided an old movie set of all its props for the decorations. Although, due to fire regulations, real candles couldn't be used, electric candles that actually flickered were the only source of light. A live band was playing appropriately creepy music.

"There's Perry," Clark said, pointing to their left.

Lois looked and immediately smiled. With his swashbuckler boots, his large phony sword, the patch over his right eye, the hook that protruded from his left sleeve and the stuffed parrot sitting on his shoulder, Perry was, quite obviously, a pirate. By his side, Alice looked like the damsel-in-distress who had been kidnapped by the wicked pirate.

"It's good to see them together," Lois said.

"He mentioned that he was going to ask her to be his date tonight," Clark said, directing the two of them over to join their boss.

"Well, shiver me timbers. It's Zorro and… So who are you supposed to be, lassy? Anyone not in a costume tonight is going to be forced to walk the plank," Perry said. In spite of his rather comical tone of voice, she could tell that his question was deadly serious.

"I'm Princess Leia."

Perry's eyebrows rose.

She flipped open the bottom part of her coat briefly so that he could see the skirt on her costume.

"Then what's with the coat?" he asked.

"I'm Princess Leia after she killed Jaba the Hutt. What most people don't know is that when they got back to the mother ship, Luke and the other guy got her a coat because she was chilly. That's who I am. Princess Leia after Luke and the other guy got her a coat."

"Is that really the golden bikini under there?" Jimmy asked, looking as if he currently wished he had x-ray vision.

"Yeah! What of it?" Lois demanded. "Besides, you're Zorro. What's so great about that?"

Clark fiddled with his glasses. "I don't know about Jimmy, but I'm really not liking this mask."

"That's because it's hard to keep your glasses on over the mask," Lois said.


"That's why you wouldn't make a good superhero, C.K.," Jimmy added. "The glasses would be a dead give away."

"At least I'm the only Princess Leia here tonight," Lois said, quickly changing the subject before she burst out laughing at Jimmy's last comment.

"Well… not exactly, Lois," Clark said, pointing to two of the girls from copy, both of whom were wearing the same costume — except that neither of them felt compelled to wear a coat.

"Oh, well, they are obviously Princess Leia before the rescue. I'm Princess Leia after someone got her a coat. By the way, Chief, we can only stay for an hour."


"We've got a lead on who might be killing those people in jail," Clark said before Perry could finish. "And we want to follow up on it."

"Look, you know I don't usually get in the way of an investigation, but Franklin Stern…"

"Perry," Lois interrupted, keeping her voice low, "every one of the people who have been killed is connected to me."

"They all, at one time or another, tried to kill her," Clark added. "We think it might be someone with a really sick romantic streak trying to avenge her or something."

"Great shades of Elvis."

"We really want to try to find him before he kills anyone else," Lois added. "So we'll stay here for an hour, make nicey-nice with everyone. Chat with Franklin Stern. And then we're going, Perry."

Perry nodded slowly. "Be sure to make sure that Stern knows you're here. If he notices that you've slipped out early, I'll take the heat."

Lois relaxed. "Thank you, Perry. By the way, Jimmy, did you get a call back from 'Say It With Flowers?'"

"No. They never called."

"So we still don't know for sure that it's Sullivan," Clark said.

"I know," Lois corrected. "Sending Sandy the picture was just getting confirmation. The question is," Lois continued, "how do we find him?"


Finding him would not be nearly as difficult as Lois had expected. Still, she didn't know that at the moment. If she had, she wouldn't have been enjoying herself nearly as much as she was.

In fact, at this moment, Lois was surprised by how much she was enjoying talking with her colleagues — learning about children and families. With Clark by her side to direct the conversation, she was finding the evening almost relaxing.

After leaving Perry, they had immediately found Franklin Stern. They had wanted to get that out of the way early to be sure that they wouldn't forget later on. Then they made the rounds, never staying too long in one place so that they could be seen by as many people as possible — who could then all vouch for the fact that they had been there.

It was coming up on forty-five minutes when Clark suddenly got the look on his face that Lois had come to know so well ever since she had known his secret. Before then, even. Only then she hadn't understood what it meant.

"What is it?" she asked quietly.

"Fire in Suicide Slum. Sounds like it's getting out of control."


Clark glanced around at the party, obviously torn.

"Go. What's going to happen to me here? This place is crawling with Daily Planet employees. Even if Patrick tries something, there are plenty of people around to stop him."



"You promise you won't leave?"

"I promise."

"And you'll call if someone as much as looks at you funny?"

"I promise. If anyone as much as looks at me funny, I'll yell 'Help, Superman' at the top of my lungs."

Clark turned to leave and then kept turning until he'd gone three hundred and sixty degrees. "I don't know…"

"Clark, Patrick is killing people who tried to kill me. He's not going to go to all that trouble and then kill me. I'm safe. So… go."

"And you promise you'll call."

"I'll call. I'll call," Lois said in exasperation. "Now, just go. The longer you wait, the more out of control the fire will be and the longer it will take you to put it out and get back here. In the meantime, I'll be fine."

Clark finally seemed satisfied. After leaning in to brush his lips across hers, he rushed towards the exit. His hand automatically went for his tie, seeming surprised when it landed on the strings from his hat. Lois chucked when he instantly adjusted, whipping his hat off as he headed out the door.

Lois shook her head, turning back to the party. She just hoped Clark wouldn't be long. After all, they still had a story to follow up on tonight.


The fire was worse than Clark first suspected. Three over-crowded, rundown tenements were on fire. Given the area, Clark suspected that none of them likely had either smoke detectors or fire sprinklers. And the condition of the materials used in construction made this a fire trap waiting to happen. Complicating these problems, the fire hall in Suicide Slum had been shut down this past year due to city budget cuts and time had no doubt been needed to get firefighters in from surrounding neighborhoods. When the whole serial killer thing was over, Clark was going to insist on digging into this further. And God help City Council when he did.

He caught sight of some people trapped in one of the buildings. A woman and four children were hiding in a closet, towels shoved under the door.

He was about to dive in when he realized that the smoke in the surrounding rooms was at toxic levels. And since with five people, he would need to take two trips… He looked around, quickly spotting some gas masks and oxygen tanks beside one of the fire trucks. They might not be meant for children, but he figured if he took three of the children first, the oldest child and the woman could probably make use of the gas masks in the short amount of time it would take him to get the others to safety. And if they did inhale some smoke as a result, the eldest child's body was probably more equipped to handle it than the younger children. God, he hated this type of decision. Risk one child in an effort to save them all.

Oh, yes, when he got through with them, the city council was going to wish they had Mad Dog Lane on their backs!

Quickly, he expropriated the masks and oxygen before zipping into the building. He pulled open the closet door and before any of the occupants had time to as much as realize what was happening, had the gas masks on the people he had designated to give them to and was flying the three youngest children out of the building.

He quickly set the children down near the paramedics and zipped back in for his remaining passengers, depositing them with the first three children before heading over to talk to the Fire Chief about out how best to tackle this particular fire.


Lois checked her watch again. It was already well past the hour they had given themselves for this party and still no sign of Clark. She had promised to wait for him here. Not that she always kept that type of promise. But this was different. Seeing Patrick in their bedroom last night, watching them. She shivered.

She would wait for Clark. Not that she was scared, of course. No. She was just being… sensible.

She shifted uncomfortably. Drat this blasted costume. The shoulder strap had been cutting into her skin for the past half hour and there was nothing she could do about it without removing her coat — and that was something she had no intention of doing in public. Jimmy would be bad enough. Oh, he'd try not to look, but the kid just wouldn't be able to help himself. But she could just imagine Ralph. Drool would collect around the corners of his mouth every time he saw her for the next month. And then there was Perry. Dressing like this in front of her boss and mentor was definitely not an option.

She was grateful that Perry had accepted her explanation for the coat without comment. Maybe realizing what she'd been wearing underneath had made him as uncomfortable as it made her. She suspected that was the reason he'd let the entire thing slide.

She checked her watch again. Still no sign of Clark.

Rising to her feet, she headed towards the ladies room. Well, if she was going to have to remove her coat to adjust the strap — which she simply could not stand for one more minute — it was better to do it in there than out here.

Once she realized the room was empty, she removed her mask, stuffing it in her pocket, before taking off her coat and hanging it up on the coat rack provided. Then she moved in front of the mirror, spotting the problem quickly. The strap had somehow become twisted, digging the gold-colored chain into her shoulder. Already the soft skin was taking on a reddish hue. After straightening the chain, she moved it over slightly. Taking a paper towel from the holder in the bathroom, she wet it and gently applied it to her shoulder.

She stared at her reflection in the mirror as she did so. Really, if it were not for the fact that she wouldn't be caught dead in something like this, she had to admit she didn't look too bad. She giggled as she thought about how distracted she could make Clark if she simply removed her coat when they got home and began to work in this.

Suddenly, Jimmy's comment about seeing your next lover in the mirror on Halloween popped into her mind. Now, how had he said that went? Walk backwards while looking into a mirror and the first face you see will be your next lover.

Not that she had any doubt who her next lover would be. After all, how could she be with anyone else after Clark? She flushed slightly as she thought of the night before last when they'd ended up making love on the ceiling. How could a girl have that and then settle for less? Not that floating while making love was everything. After all, as Clark had told her when they had found out that they couldn't have children, every time they made love, they made love. Even if his comment hadn't lessened the pain she'd felt as a result of not being able to have children with Clark, she felt the same way. It was odd, really. She hadn't even been sure she wanted children until being told that she couldn't have them. But she wouldn't trade what she had with Clark for anything.

Not that she would ever have to settle. Clark was hers. And she'd love him to death if he was the worst lover in the world. Not that she could quite imagine that. After all, Clark cared about her pleasure probably at least as much as he did his own — and that carried over into the bedroom. "Damn, girl, you lucked out," she said to herself in the mirror.

But, hey, since she knew Clark would be her next lover and her next lover and her next lover, maybe she should walk backwards while looking in the mirror. Maybe it would make him magically appear. And then they could go home and concentrate on finding Patrick so that they could get back to making love on the ceiling.

Smiling, she began to back up, keeping her eyes firmly on the mirror.

"Hello, my sweet," said a voice from the past. She looked in horror at the man whose reflection she could clearly see in the mirror.

She spun around to face him, almost surprised to find him standing before her, substantial rather than the ghostly apparition she'd seen the previous night.

"Help! Superman!" she yelled immediately, remembering her promise.

She was surprised when Patrick looked almost amused. "No point calling your super-powered husband, Lois," he chided softly in that Irish accent she had once thought was so sexy. God, what was it with her and accents anyway?

"I don't know what you're talking about," she responded, pushing away her previous thought as irrelevant. "I'm married to Clark. Superman is just a friend."

Patrick laughed. "Lois, do you really think that last night was the first time I've been in your bedroom?"

The color instantly drained from Lois' face. "How dare you," she whispered, a note of absolute wrath in her voice. "Superman will be here any minute and then…"

"Relax, my sweet. I didn't see anything that I'm not already familiar with. Only now you're so much more beautiful than that girl who came to my bed so many years ago in Ireland."

Lois' eyes narrowed in fury. "Well, I was young and foolish. And you…"

"I was your first. And you know what they say. You never forget your first lover. But then I let you come back to America. I won't make the mistake of letting you go again. As for your husband… Well, you called for him. Where is he? Surely there's been enough time for him to arrive."

Patrick was right, she suddenly realized. After all his warnings about calling for him if someone as much as looked at her funny, he hadn't come when she'd called. And Patrick had known that he wouldn't. "What did you do to him?" she hissed. If he'd hurt Clark, he was a dead man. And to be honest, that was the only thing Lois could think of that would possibly delay Clark tonight.


"Is there anything else I can do?" Superman asked. The fire had been a devil to put out, insidiously sneaking into walls and ceilings only to spring to life after Clark had thought it was extinguished. But with the help of the firemen, they'd finally managed it and he had to admit, he was anxious to get back to Lois. Far too much time had passed since he'd left her as it was.

Still, since she had more than promised to yell for him if she needed help, he'd have to trust her to keep that promise.

"Yes, Superman. There are a couple more things if you don't mind. First, there are a number of ambulances trying to take people to the hospital that can't get through because of all the sight-seers. Would you mind giving them a lift?"

"Sure. What's the other thing?"

"I was just wondering if you'd mind taking one last look for hot spots? Given the problems we had with getting this fire out, I'd hate you to leave and then have the fire flare up again."

"No problem, Chief," Superman said, taking to the sky to attend to the traffic problem first.


"Lois. Lois. Lois. You underestimate me. I didn't do anything to your husband. I've done something to you."

Lois' breath caught in her throat when the worst possible explanation for that statement occurred to her. But… why hadn't she felt something? If she was really dead, then it would explain why Patrick would seem so substantial to her now — whereas he'd seemed more like an apparition on the video from Daily Planet security.

No! No, she wasn't going to do this to Clark. She just wasn't. She wasn't going to let Patrick make Clark's biggest nightmare come true.

Without another thought, she lunged at Patrick, taking him completely by surprise. A well placed kick, a jab to his solar plexus and he was down.

"Help! Superman!" she yelled as she headed for the bathroom door, pulling it open, heedless of the Princess Leia outfit she was wearing. She yelled for help once again as she entered… the bathroom?

She stopped, turning around, trying to get her bearings. There, picking himself off the floor, was Patrick. She turned, figuring she must have gotten turned around somehow. Without giving him time to come after her, she rushed out the door only to find herself in the bathroom once again.

Without pausing, she rushed for the window, pushing it open and crawling out only to find she was still in the bathroom. Still she continued, trying everything she could think of to escape, not even stopping for air until she could go no longer.

"Bravo, love," Patrick said, leaning against the counter watching her, hands on her legs as she bent over, struggling to catch her breath.

She knew that he was undoubtedly getting a prime view of her cleavage, chest heaving as she struggled to suck in air. In her current attire, she wasn't leaving much to the imagination. But what infuriated her the most was that he was also quietly clapping. Unable to take it anymore, she found her second wind, rushing the man in question.

"What have you done?" she demanded, grabbing his shirt and attempting to shake him only to have him disappear into a mist, reappearing a moment later on the far side of the room. "What have you done?" she repeated, rushing him again. Once again he disappeared as tears of frustration, anger and terror came to her eyes.

"Superman, help!" she yelled again before collapsing onto the floor in exhaustion, legs aching, panting, desperately trying not to cry. She wouldn't give Patrick the satisfaction.


Superman flew slowly over the burned out building, looking for hot spots. As he was examining the basement of the building where the fire started, he noticed something… unusual. Landing, he stared in disbelief at the sight before him. A moment later and he was in the air, heading at full speed towards the hall where he had left Lois, the Fire Chief completely forgotten.

The circle of candles in a room full of the remains of what smelled like paper and gasoline was eerily familiar. It bore a striking resemblance to Jace Mazik's murder scene. And there was only one reason he could see for using the same or a similar ceremony to start a fire as had been used in the murders — to distract him so that whoever was behind this could make his move on Lois.

A quick look at the parking lot as he approached the building told him the Jeep was still there. She hadn't left the building — he hoped. Angling his body down, he smashed through a window, speeding through the building, listening for Lois' heartbeat. What met his ears was an almost deafening silence.

Not seeing or hearing Lois anywhere, he came to a screeching halt on the floor, a fiery trail in his wake, next to the table where Jimmy and Perry were seated.

"Have you seen Lois?" he demanded without even bothering with pleasantries.

"She and Clark have probably left by now," Perry said.

"Actually," Jimmy interrupted, "I think I saw Lois heading to the bathroom a few minutes ago."

"Thanks," Superman said, heading off again.

He ignored the incredulous looks and outraged comments from the women in the room when he entered, making his way through, searching everywhere in a desperate attempt to locate his wife — even though every sense and superpower he had told him she was not there. He picked up her coat from where it hung on the coat rack, the sickening feeling in his stomach growing with each passing second. She had been there. And never, not in a million years, would she have voluntarily set foot outside this room without her coat.

Closing his eyes, he raised the coat to his nose, inhaling the smell of his wife, heedless of the whispers around him. He concentrated, trying calm his own heart which continued to beat painfully against his chest. He had to think. What could have happened to Lois? And how did he find her?


"Are you finished behaving like a child now?" Patrick Sullivan asked.

Lois glared at him from her position on her hands and knees on the floor.

"I mean," Patrick continued casually, "you made a valiant effort, love. But you must realize by now that it is pointless to try to escape. Besides, where is that fiery, inquisitive woman I knew all those years ago? The one who had to know everything? Aren't you a wee bit curious as to how this was accomplished or where you really are? Or has marriage tamed you at last?"

Yes. Yes, she did want to know where she was and how this was accomplished. She wanted to know desperately. Maybe it would give her some clue that would help her escape. Maybe it would give her a fighting chance.

Still, she didn't want Patrick to know how badly she wanted the information so she just continued to glare at him — hoping that his need to gloat would win out regardless of her failure to respond.

"Uhh… Now there's the Lane stubbornness I love so much," he said, almost sounding pleased. "Very well. I won't make you ask.

"It seems it wasn't necessary for me to sacrifice you to the ancient gods for the power of the ancient ones to be restored into my hands. All that was necessary was that I do everything in my power to sacrifice you. I owe your muscle-bound husband a debt of gratitude for interrupting the party when he did. So now my power grows stronger with each passing day, with each new life I take. And there is a multitude, even now, waiting for the next phase to begin."

"Why don't you just tell me what kind of voodoo you used to create this crazy world instead of giving me a bunch of gibberish?" Lois said, unable to control her tongue for a moment longer.

"Not voodoo, love. No, years ago I came across an ancient text called the Book of Pheryllt. It outlined hundreds of spells and rituals used by the ancient Druids. Of course, until the power of my ancestors was restored to me, I couldn't make any of them work. Now, on the other hand…" He smiled sending a chill down her spine. "This spell is a relatively simple one. It only requires a few ingredients. I won't tell you all of them, but I will tell you that it includes mistletoe cut with a golden sickle, untouched by human hands.

"As to where you are… You are still in the bathroom at the ballroom. I merely… shifted the reality that we are in a quarter turn to the east."

"An alternate reality?" Lois asked, her mind rushing through what she knew about alternate realities.

"Not exactly. It's as if we are… slightly out of sync with the rest of our universe. Would you like to see?"

He reached into his pocket and tossed some sort of dust into the air and suddenly, Lois found herself in the woman's bathroom, a room now filled with women busily tending their… Actually, they were all talking and whispering, staring at something behind her. She quickly rose to her feet and turned around.

"Superman," she breathed, seeing her husband in the Superman suit standing frozen in the middle of the room, eyes closed. "Oh, thank god, Superman," she said, rushing over to him. "Patrick's here. You've got to…" Her voice trailed off when Superman didn't move a muscle. "What have you done to him?" she demanded.

"Nothing. He simply can't see or hear you. None of them can," Patrick said. "Yell for your hero as loud as you like. He can't respond. He doesn't know you're here."

Lois felt her legs go weak beneath her. She turned slowly, walking around her motionless husband. No one seemed to have any idea she was there — not even Clark.

She finally arrived in front of Clark, stopping to stare into his beloved face, wondering if this was the last time she would ever see it. He was deep in concentration, as if lost not only to her world but the one around him. "I love you," she said softly, keeping her voice low enough that she was certain Patrick would not overhear her even as she placed a hand gently on his folded arms.

Her hand slipped through, confirming the truth of Patrick's words.

"Lois?" Clark's voice was so soft that Lois barely heard it.

"Clark?" she whispered. "Can you hear me?"

When he didn't respond again, she used another approach. "I love you," she said again, putting all the emotion she felt for him at that moment into the words. She reached up to stroke his cheek — even though it was less than substantial under her hand.

"Oh, god, Lois," Superman responded, tremendous relief in his voice. For some reason, though, as if he was afraid of breaking the connection between them, he didn't open his eyes, somehow recognizing that his eyes wouldn't tell him what he needed to know. "I thought I'd lost you."

"You shouldn't be able to do that!" Patrick said and Lois immediately felt the world beginning to fade around her.

"I'll find you! I swear I'll find you!" Clark said just as the world she'd known faded completely, leaving her back in her own private hell with Patrick.

"He will, you know," Lois said, spinning towards Patrick, her spirit renewed by that short connection with her soulmate. "He will find me."

"Then we'll have to do everything in our power to make sure that doesn't happen," Patrick said, obviously shaken by the slight tear in the spell he had created.

Patrick threw some more dust in the air and she gasped when she found herself standing in the countryside with Patrick, the light from the full moon shining down around her.


She'd been there. He knew she'd been there — trying to reach him. How it was possible, he didn't know. But he knew that she had been there.

Opening his eyes, he looked around him. Realizing that he wasn't going to find her in the bathroom, he quickly exited in a gust of wind, ignoring the dirty looks he was getting.

Zipping into an empty room, he spun into Clark, exiting a moment later, Lois' coat draped over his arm. His superpowers wouldn't help him find her. He knew that on an instinctive level. What was required here was legwork. And fast.

So where did he start?

Patrick Sullivan!

Lois had believed that Patrick Sullivan was behind this. He'd been skeptical before, but if that was what Lois believed, then that was definitely the place to start.

Rushing into the ballroom, he headed directly towards Jimmy and Perry.

"Jimmy," he said without introduction, "I need your help. Lois has disappeared."

"What?" everyone around the table said in almost perfect unison.

"Are you sure you didn't just… misplace her, son?" Perry asked.

"She left this in the ladies' bathroom," he responded, holding up her coat. By the expression on everyone's faces, it was obvious he'd made his point.

"Will do, C.K.," Jimmy said, instantly rising to his feet. "What do you need?"

"I'm going to have Superman fly us over to the Daily Planet. We need to find out everything we can about Patrick Sullivan — and we need to find out fast. I'll tell Superman to come get you. I'll join you there in a couple of minutes. I need to make a phone call first."

"Need any extra help?" Perry asked. "I wasn't a bad news hound in my day."

Clark stopped, caught slightly off guard by Perry's offer — although not entirely sure why he should be.

"And at the very least, I can get coffee and sandwiches," Alice said.

"I'm not sure my accounting skills will be of much good," Jennifer said. "But I'd like to help, too. I really like Lois."

Clark nodded. "I'm sure I'll be able to use all the help I can get. Thank you." Tears came to his eyes as, for the first time, he realized that he was not alone. Together, they would find Lois and get her back where she belonged. He had to believe that. The alternative was too horrible to even contemplate.


"So how did Franklin Stern react when you told him we'd be leaving the party early?" Alice asked the man who was still her husband — at least on paper — as they headed down the ramp into the bullpen.

"Well, I just got through telling him that something had come up when Superman suddenly swept in and snatched me out of there. Somehow, though, I suspect even Franklin Stern is not going to have the nerve to challenge the Man of Steel."

"So where do we start?" Alice asked as the two of them, followed by Jennifer, approached Jimmy's desk.

"Lois said something about getting a call from 'Say It With Flowers,'" Perry said. "What was that about?"

"I faxed a copy of Patrick Sullivan's picture to 'Say It With Flowers' for them earlier. We haven't heard back from them yet."

"Patrick Sullivan?" Alice asked. "Oh, I remember him now. Wasn't he the guy who tried to sacrifice Lois because he thought he was a Druid priest?"

"A Druid priest?" Jennifer asked. "Really?"

"The guy was a couple tacos short of a combo platter," Perry said. "Something about having to sacrifice Lois so that the power of his Druid ancestors would be given to him. But wasn't he killed?"

"Actually," Clark said, jogging down the ramp to join the crew, "we told the police that he was… missing."

"Why don't I think that's the whole story," Perry said.

"We weren't sure that anyone would believe either Lois or Superman if they told what they had seen," Clark said. "Okay, let's start at the beginning. When Superman arrived, Sullivan put on a mask. It was some sort of ancient Druid artifact."

"The 'Mask of the Ancient Ones,'" Jimmy supplied. "I did the research on it," Jimmy went on to explain when everyone looked at him.

"Yeah. But he'd put two gems — two large green emeralds that he'd removed from some ancient Roman artifacts into it first. Anyway, some sort of weird green beam shot out of his eyes, knocking Superman back. Superman quickly countered it with his heat vision, causing the two beams to deflect each other. Anyway, Superman was losing, might well have lost, if Lois hadn't managed to distract Sullivan. Then… while Lois and Superman watched… Sullivan just sort of… vanished."

"That's what you said at the time," Perry responded, not understanding what Clark was trying to tell him. "He took off."

"No," Clark said. "It was more like he became… a green mist and, 'poof' — he vanished. That's why we told the police he was missing. There was no body."

Everyone looked at him in disbelief for a long moment.

"Uhh… son… Now I know you're good friends with Superman and Lois is your wife, but you don't really believe this cock and bull story, do you?"

"I believe them, Chief," Clark responded.

"I do, too," Jennifer said.

Everyone turned and looked at her.

"I wondered what I could possibly do to help, but when Alice mentioned Druids… Well, I'm Irish. Jennifer O'Conner. And when I was younger, I was fascinated with Druids and leprechauns and all sort of magical beings."

"And you think the Druids could… do magic?" Alice asked skeptically.

"The Druids had extensive knowledge of nature and herbs and how the universe worked," Jennifer said. "No, I don't believe they had magical abilities, per say, and often legends are just that, legends. But… don't think of it as magic. Think of it as… science that we just haven't found an explanation for yet. After all, if you showed an ancient man a television, he would think that was magic. And who believed that a man could fly under his own power until we first met Superman?

"So do I think the Druids could perform magic? No. On the other hand, I think that some of them had enough knowledge of the world around them to be able to… manipulate nature enough to make us think they could perform magic. After all, Druids spent somewhere around twenty years learning their craft. What were they learning in all that time? Problem is that the old spells have been lost. On the other hand, if someone found them…" She shrugged. "I suppose it's not likely since the Druids were known for passing on their traditions by word of mouth rather than using the written word. Still, there is talk of a book called The Book of Pheryllt. Probably not real but… who knows?"

"Actually, that makes sense," Perry said. "I mean, when you think about it, in the past few years we've seen a lot of things that seemed like magic that turned out to be scientifically based. Take the invisible Robin Hood from a few years ago. We all believed that an invisible man was stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Turned out, he had just managed to invent a suit that used ultraviolet light to make it appear invisible."

"Okay, but this still doesn't help us find Lois," Clark said, getting them back on track. "Whether he is performing magic or has simply found a way to manipulate nature, Patrick has Lois."

"Okay," Perry said, taking the lead. "Alice, why don't you give 'Say It With Flowers' a call? Jennifer, get together everything you can find on Druids."

"There are a number of files still in the conference room," Clark said. "We didn't have time to go through them."

"Jimmy, you see what you can dig up on Patrick Sullivan," Perry continued. "I still have a few contacts in Ireland. It will be really early there, but I'll give them a call."

"I called the police — spoke to Henderson," Clark said. "Officially, he can't put out a missing person's report on Lois for seventy-two hours. But he's going to see what he can do — considering her connection to the prison murders.

"Also I want to go down and check out an Irish bar called Casey's on Main Street. When we ran into Sullivan last time, he was well known there. And yet, I doubt he'd been to Metropolis much in the past. Otherwise, I'm sure he would have looked Lois up before he did — given his feelings for her."

"Okay, then. We meet back here to compare notes later. But, Clark, be careful. If someone down there knows something, they might resent you digging around."


Clark entered the traditional Irish pub and looked around, taking note of the atmosphere as well as the people. On one side of the room, he spotted the dartboard and sighed. He could still clearly remember that dart game with Sullivan. What exactly had he been trying to prove anyway? But that night, all of his competitive instincts had come to the surface. Winning that dart game, and winning it in a way that would show Lois that he was the better man, had been the most important thing in the world.

That was why he'd thrown the first dart with his left hand, and why he'd made that macho 'Robin Hood' move when Sullivan had asked if he was conceding the game.

That night had shown him, if he'd ever had any doubt, that there was more 'typical man' in him than he wanted to recognize.

The irony was that all it would have taken to get Lois away from Sullivan was a heartfelt admission that he had been wrong in giving her up. Lois had loved him. He was the one who had walked away. He still considered it one of the dumbest decisions he'd ever made.

Shaking off the thought, he made his way over to the bar.

"What can I get you, lad?" the bartender asked.

"Some information," Clark responded. "I was here a couple of years ago with a… friend. And it seemed most people were acquainted with him."

"Oh? And who's your man?"

"His name is Patrick Sullivan."

"And he was your man?"

Bingo. The change in the bartender's attitude from friendly to suspicious was a dead giveaway that he knew something. "Actually, he was a friend of my wife's… back when she was an exchange student in Ireland."

"And who might you be?"

"Clark Kent. Anyway, we've lost touch and I'm trying to track him down. Would you have any idea where I could find him?"

The bartender began cleaning the bar. "Never heard of him."

Clark heard the bartender's heart rate speed up and knew he was lying. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he removed his wallet. "It's very important that I find him," he said, taking forty dollars out of his wallet.

"I told you I've never heard of a Patrick Sullivan." The bartender nodded his head towards two men seated at the end of the bar.

"I have a photo. Maybe that would help jog your memory."

"I don't think so. If you're not here for a pint, maybe you should be on your way."

Clark glanced over his shoulders realizing that the two men who had been seated at the end of the bar were now flanking him. "Maybe you gentlemen can help me," Clark said, turning around to face the newcomers.


Lois kept her eyes open, taking in every detail around her, as Patrick pulled her into a clearing in the forest. So far, she hadn't tried to escape. After all, given her current attire and the fact that she had no idea where she was or how she'd come to be here — for all she knew Patrick had drugged her somehow so that she wouldn't remember the trip — she didn't figure now was the right time to make her move. For all she knew, she could be anywhere in the world. And it was the end of October. In this stupid Princess Leia costume, she was freezing.

The clearing was filled with people all going about their business, but by the way they looked at her and Patrick, not to mention that all of them were wearing black robes, she knew immediately that they would be of no help. Her attention was distracted by one woman who was going between the various boulders situated in the center of the clearing surrounded by oak trees. She was pouring some sort of liquid over the boulders while chanting in a language Lois didn't recognize. In the center of the stones, was a large, cauldron, bubbling away over an open fire. The entire place was lit only by large torches placed strategically around the stone circle. Two more rows of torches seemed to form a path near the cauldron.

Her heart began to pound, almost painful as it thumped against the inside of her chest. They were obviously preparing for some sort of ceremony. And given that Patrick had tried to sacrifice her in some sort of ritual the last time she had seen him…

"You know I'm not a virgin, right?" she said, even though, since he had been her first lover, he could hardly not realize that. Besides, it hadn't stopped him last time.

He looked at her funny.

"So I'd make a terrible virgin sacrifice. Virgins work much better for these things — or so I'm told. Sacrificing me would be a huge mistake."

"No worries, love," Patrick said, now smiling. "I have something quite different in mind for you. And I promise, it won't be a sacrifice."

Lois bristled at the cocky arrogance she could hear in his voice even as the words sent a chill down her spine. Just what did he have in mind for her?

Before she could think too deeply about it, they arrived in front of a large tent which appeared to be made entirely out of animal hides. He pulled aside the tent flap, gesturing for her to enter.

When she stepped inside, she took in her surroundings. The tent was huge. The furniture, most of which appeared to be antique, made it feel more like a dwelling than a tent. One large table over to the side was covered with a wide variety of foods, as if someone was expecting a lot of visitors. The 'room' was lit with lanterns and for a moment the issue of fire regulations flitted though Lois' mind. Looking down, she saw that animal furs covered the floor. "Exactly how many animals had to die to make this tent?" she asked. "And haven't you ever heard of Cost Mart? Big canvas tents for sale for a hundred and forty-nine dollars."

His resulting laugh made her skin crawl.

"So I see you've brought her."

Lois turned to see an older man making his way towards her. "Collin?" she asked.

"Good to see you again, macushla."

"But…" Her eyes flicked to Patrick and back to his father. "…I thought you were in a hospital for the criminally insane."

"A bit of misdiagnosis," Collin said. "Strange, that. They thought I was insane just because I said I was a Druid priest."

"And killed Patrick's mother in some Druid ceremony," Lois added.

Collin waved his hand as if it was of no consequence. "Let's not spend our time worrying about the past. What matters is the future." He reached out and laid a hand on Lois' stomach.

"Hey!" she said, jumping back.

"You were right, lad," he said, ignoring Lois to address Patrick. "She will give you a fine son to continue the legacy."

"What!" Lois exclaimed.

Ignoring her, Collin Sullivan made his way to the exit to the tent and disappeared outside.

"Don't worry, love," Patrick said when he was gone. "The fertility ceremony doesn't begin until the lunar eclipse starts, so you have some time left to get used to the idea."

"What!" Lois exclaimed again.


Clark floated silently, ten thousand feet in the night sky, and stared down at Casey's, watching, listening into their every move.

"We have a bit of a problem," the bartender had said into the phone almost the instant Clark had left the establishment.

A few minutes later, a man arrived. A man, about his own age, who looked very familiar. It took Clark a moment to place the face. He'd only seen him once — as Superman — when he'd prevented Lois from becoming a sacrifice. Shamus… Shamus… Clark wasn't entirely sure that he'd ever heard Shamus' last name. He had thought the man was still in prison for his part in the previous attack on Lois.

Still, this was the break he needed. If anyone knew Lois' whereabouts, it would be this man. Not that Clark was under any illusion about Shamus simply telling him what he wanted to know. But from ten thousand feet up, there was nothing to prevent him from following the man. He was bound eventually to lead to Sullivan.

"What seems to be the matter, Liam?" Shamus asked.

"That Clark Kent you told me about was here a few minutes ago. Some of the lads showed him to the door, but I just thought you should know about it."

Shamus smiled. "Don't you worry about it. Everything's under control."

"So is everything set for the fertility ceremony?"

Clark swallowed hard at the implications of that before quickly pushing it to the back of his mind. If he thought about it too hard, he'd completely panic. And that wouldn't help him find Lois.

"Everything," Shamus was saying. "We even have the guest of honor."

"Brilliant," Liam replied. "When does it start?"

"As soon as the first sign appears of the Earth passing between the moon and the sun."

The lunar eclipse? Suddenly, Clark remembered Jimmy mentioning a lunar eclipse. That was tonight, wasn't it? And if the ceremony was to begin at the first signs of the eclipse… He quickly glanced at the stars. It seemed there was still time. But that time was obviously limited.

Impatiently, he continued to watch as Shamus said his good-byes and left the pub. Then, drifting in the cloudless sky, Clark followed until… He gasped when Shamus suddenly vanished.

Quickly he surveyed the surrounding buildings and then sped down to street level, zipping into the sewer system to see if that was where he had gone. But there was no sign of him.


"Patrick, this is insane," Lois said, grabbing Patrick's arm. "Let's say you go ahead with this… ritual." She almost choked on the word, realizing at least one thing that any fertility ceremony must entail. "And let's say I get pregnant. You can't really believe I'd ever let you see the baby. I'll get away eventually. And then it won't matter to you if you've gotten me pregnant or not."

"Lois, my Lois," Patrick said, the condescension in his voice making Lois bristle. "Do you really believe that I'd let you leave me? I did that once. I will not do it again."

"Clark will find me. Whether it's tonight or tomorrow — he'll never stop looking until he does."

"After tonight, it will not matter."

Lois narrowed her eyes. Maybe she had misunderstood. Maybe he was intending to kill her. But surely he couldn't think she could get pregnant and have the child all in the same night. Could he? Was he really that far gone? "What do you mean it won't matter?" she asked hesitantly.

"Do you think I'm not capable of producing a spell that will bind you to me for life?"

"But…" Her mind raced. After tonight, she wasn't sure what to believe. On the other hand, she suddenly remembered the wizard she and Clark had encountered when they had gone into the past to break the curse. "I didn't think there was a spell that could make a person fall in love?"

"That's my Lois. What does love have to do with anything? After tonight, you will be mine. The spell will ensure that the very idea of leaving me will be repugnant to you. Even if you continue to love another, you will remain faithful to me."

"But, Patrick, this is crazy. Why would you want a woman who loves another man?"

"You forget, my sweet, I saw you and Clark together when I came to Metropolis before. You don't really love him. And in time you will forget him."

"No! No, I won't. Don't you understand? You're wrong. I love Clark. I think I've always loved Clark. And I always will. Just… let me go. Disappear again and they'll never be able to find you."

Patrick turned away, heading unperturbed towards the door of the tent, not even bothering to answer what he thought was a ridiculous argument.

"It won't matter anyway," Lois said, in one last desperate attempt to reach him. "He'll find me tonight."

Patrick turned around. "I doubt that."

"Why? Because you've shifted us out of our proper reality?"

"No. We're back in our dimension. There are too many guests coming tonight for that to be an effective means of keeping us hidden. But, trust me, love, I have plans in place to deal with your super husband. He'll not take you from me again."

Lois swallowed as the word 'kryptonite' echoed through her mind. She had to get out of there. She had to get out now.

"Anyway," Patrick continued, "as much as I might enjoy your current attire, I think it might be best if I sent you something more appropriate to begin the ceremony."

Lois stood in stunned silence as she watched him exit the tent, leaving her alone at last. She stood still for only a moment before rushing to the exit. Throwing back the panel, she stopped when she saw the two men who had taken up position outside the tent — obviously to keep her from leaving.

Spinning back around, she examined her situation anew. After all, she was Lois Lane — and this was a tent. Surely there must be another way out. But before she could put that plan into action, Shamus stepped into the room.

"I thought you were in prison," Lois said.

"I was," Shamus replied, grabbing her and forcing her quickly into a chair before she could react. "I got out."

She struggled, but was unable to get away as he tied her hands and feet to the chair. Great. Now what did she do? She supposed there was only one thing — to find a way out of the ropes binding her. "I wish I could borrow a little bit of your super-strength right now, Clark," she muttered under her breath as she began working her hands in the ropes, trying to get free.


"So what do we have?" Perry asked as the entire crew gathered in the conference room.

"I spoke with someone at 'Say It With Flowers,'" Alice began. "She said her granddaughter identified the photo Lois and Clark sent over."

"I sort of figured that," Clark said. "It tracks with what I discovered at Casey's." When they all looked at him, he filled them in. Of course, instead of Superman staking out the place after he left, it was Clark who had overheard the conversation between the bartender and Shamus.

When he finally finished, Perry spoke. "So he just disappeared?"

Clark shrugged.

"That's interesting," Perry continued. "I made a few calls, inquiring about Collin Sullivan — Patrick Sullivan's father."

"The one who is in a hospital for the criminally insane?" Jimmy asked.

Perry nodded. "Was. He escaped. And they used the exact same word for him. Disappeared. They say that one day he was in his cell under suicide watch and the next… he'd simply disappeared. There has been an extensive manhunt going on in Ireland to try to find him, but so far they haven't found a single trace of the man."

"What about this Shamus character?" Alice asked. "After the whole incident with Lois, wouldn't he have been in prison?"

"I'll check that out," Jimmy said.

"It doesn't matter how he got out, he obviously did," Clark said, realizing that finding out how Shamus had gotten out of prison wasn't their most important task at the moment. "So, Jimmy, what did you find?"

"I dug up everything I could about Patrick Sullivan. First of all, you were right. Patrick Sullivan had never been to Metropolis before he showed up here a couple of years ago. I checked airlines and visas…"

"I really don't want to know how you got that information," Perry mumbled.

"Anyway, there is no sign of him ever coming to the States before."

"And since?"

"Uhh… yeah. No sign of him returning to Ireland. Although in that case, I suspect he would have traveled under another name. Since he's never been declared dead, a trustee handles his estate. Man, I tell you. Sullivan is loaded. He has three separate houses. But from what I could tell, his main home was near Balbriggan. Anyway, the kicker is that his trustee has been spending money hand over fist."

"Hardly appropriate for a trustee," Perry said.

"So either he's robbing Sullivan's heirs blind, or he's making purchases on behalf of Patrick Sullivan because he's getting his instructions directly from him," Clark said. "Maybe I'll ask Superman to fly me over to Ireland to have a little talk with the man."

"Well, that's not all, C.K.," Jimmy continued, forestalling Clark's departure. "It appears that one of the things he's been buying is land."


Jimmy nodded. "Empty land."

"What land?"

Everyone turned towards Jennifer. It was the first thing that she'd said since the meeting had started — obviously slightly intimidated by the crowd she found herself in.

"Actually," Jimmy said, digging around in his papers, "there are three parcels." He pulled out what he was looking for. "Two in Ireland and one right here in New Troy." When Jennifer reached for the paper, he handed it to her.

"Well, now this is interesting," she said, setting down the paper to sort through her own research.

"What?" Clark asked.

"One of the places believed to have been sacred for the Druids are called stone circles. They typically consist of six stones, all about seven meters tall, set up in a circle. Probably the most famous is Stonehenge. But there are a number of these circles in Ireland — not to mention Scotland, England and France. Now history indicates that the circles themselves might have predated the Druids, but that didn't stop them from building a number of their rituals and ceremonies around them."

"So how is that relevant?" Perry asked.

"The two locations purchased in Ireland both have stone circles on them," Jennifer said, showing them a few documents.

"That still doesn't explain the purchase in New Troy."

"Actually," Jennifer continued, "it might. Now, I didn't think that there were any of these stone circles outside of Europe — at least of the same type. But then when I was doing research this evening, I found this." She passed Clark a small newspaper article, obviously something buried well inside the paper as of minimal importance.

'Stone Circle Found In New Troy.'

Clark read it before passing it to the rest.

"I guess the name of the article speaks for itself," Jennifer said. "But when I took a deeper look, wondering why it hadn't become a famous tourist attraction, I found out that the Governor…"

"Governor Hugh O'Neill," Perry said.

Everyone stared at him for a moment, noting to him or herself the Governor's Irish name.

"Right," Jennifer said finally. "Apparently, soon after the article came out last year, he closed down the excavation. But… look." She pointed at two documents. One showing the location of the stone circle found in New Tory and the other the property purchased by the trustee of the Sullivan estate. "So if someone believed he was a Druid priest and wanted to conduct some kind of ritual — which, according to the conversation you overheard at Casey's, he does…"

"…and if he owned three stone circles…" Perry continued.

"…he'd probably conduct it at one of the stone circles in his possession," Clark concluded. "I've got to go," he said, getting up and heading for the door, ignoring the protesting voices behind him.

"Jimmy, get Henderson on the line for me," Clark heard Perry demand as he disappeared into the stairwell.


Lois' wrists were raw, and still she wasn't making the least bit of progress. Whatever else Shamus was, he certainly knew how to tie a knot. Probably from tying all those people down to be human sacrifices, she thought with a slight shiver.

She instantly quit struggling and looked up quickly when someone moved the flaps of the tent and entered.

"Colleen?" Lois asked in disbelief. "We thought you were dead."

"I am," Colleen responded.

"Then how…?"

"One must have a little Irish blood in them, but then they can return for the three days of Samhain. Or well, they can if there's also a lunar eclipse. That's one thing I didn't know until I reached the other side. Anyway, I'll be gone again after tonight."

"So you've… come back from the dead?" Lois said, hardly able to believe she was asking the question.

"Me and Erin," she said, gesturing to her shoulder.

Lois shook her head. The woman was obviously still a wee bit out of her mind. Still talking to leprechauns even on the other side of the grave. Not that Lois exactly believed that Colleen was dead. Someone else must have been mistaken for her when they thought they had fished her out of the river. Even so… "Colleen, you've got to help me escape."

"Oh… no… I can't do that," Colleen objected, making her way past Lois. "Patrick would be angry with me." She lay some clothes on a nearby table. "I was just supposed to bring you your clothes," she said. "You'll need them for the ceremony."

Lois couldn't tell exactly what the clothing was but one item did appear to be some sort of white robe. The other, a small piece of animal fur, lay on top.

"What's that?" Lois asked, gesturing her head towards the fur.

"It's your fox skin armband," Colleen responded as if people wore fox skin armbands all the time.

"Why would I need… oh," she said, cutting herself off when Jimmy's comment about Druid ceremonies being conducted while people wore nothing more than fox skin armbands came to mind. "Uhh… no. Colleen, I think there's been some sort of mistake. I don't need a fox skin armband. I swear."

But Colleen wasn't listening to her. She was sticking her head out of the tent, calling for Shamus.

"How am I to get her dressed when she's bound to the chair?" Colleen asked.

"I can release her, but then I'll have to stay in here with you," Shamus responded.

"Fine. But you're not to look while she's changing."

Lois shook her head. Unless she missed her guess, she was expected to be naked except for the armband at some point during the ceremony. And yet Colleen didn't want him to look while she changed. Exactly what kind of madness was this?

Shamus glanced over at Lois. "I'll not look," he said. "But if she tries anything, I'll not turn away again." With that, he made his way over, releasing Lois from her bonds.

Colleen gestured to the clothes. "After you're dressed, you should have a wee bit of food." She gestured to the large table covered with fruits and breads and wines. "It's not good to go into this evening's activities on an empty stomach."

Lois looked at Shamus' back and then made her way over to the pile of clothes. If she was to have any chance of escape, she was going to need something warm to wear. And the robe looked like just the thing. She went to pull the robe on when Colleen stopped her.

"You'll need to put that on first," Colleen said, gesturing to the armband.

"Oh," Lois said, putting on the animal fur before moving on to the robe.

"And you'll need to take that off," Colleen continued, pointing to the Princess Leia costume.

Lois glanced down at herself, images of dancing naked wearing nothing but an armband coming unbidden to mind. She glanced again at Shamus before looking at Colleen. There was no way she intended to be naked under the robe. On the other hand, to do so, she would have to convince Colleen to say nothing.

Lois slowly raised a finger to her lips, silently asking for Colleen's silence, before slipping the robe over her head.

Colleen looked nervous, glancing at Shamus' turned back, but said nothing.

Lois let out a breath of relief.

"Is she decent yet?" Shamus asked.


"Then…" He turned around, making his way over to Lois.

"No, Shamus," Colleen said. "The poor creature needs a wee bit of food."

Shamus rolled his eyes but didn't object when Lois made her way over to the table.

Lois couldn't say she was particularly hungry, but she was certainly in no hurry to return to her chair. Her mind raced as she picked up a piece of fruit and began to nibble on it. "So what is this ceremony all about?" she asked, attempting to get Colleen talking while she came up with a plan.

She was only paying scant attention as Colleen launched into an explanation about the mating of the sun and the moon and how, when the sun's rays are blocked off, it increased feminine power — hence increasing fertility. "Then, as the moon is revealed again," Colleen continued, "the binding ceremony will begin."

"That's the ceremony that will keep me with Patrick forever?" Lois asked as she made her way slowly down the table until she spotted what she needed.

"Yes," Colleen answered.

"So you must need a cloudless night for the fertility ceremony to work," Lois said, trying to keep Colleen talking.

"No. The sun's rays will be blocked off even if we can't see them."

"Patrick can't really believe any of this will work."

"I'm afraid he does. My poor Patrick believes…"

Lois tuned Colleen out completely. It was time to make her move. She glanced nervously over her shoulder to see where Shamus was situated. He was watching her. She moved further down the table, looking at various items, trying to appear casual. This time she didn't look back. She was moving slowly towards her goal — a knife meant for cutting up the breads and cheeses — sampling bits of food along the way to keep Shamus from realizing where she was heading. Her heart began to pound as she reached out and… Shamus suddenly grabbed her from behind.

"Okay, that'll be enough," Shamus said, forcing her back into the chair.

Lois' struggle left him with sore shins, but otherwise was of no effect as he bound her hands even tighter than before.


Clark flew over the Irish countryside in ever increasing distances from the stone circle. He'd already checked the other Irish site and found no signs of either Lois or Patrick. He was not overly surprised. He suspected Sullivan would use the one in New Troy. However, since he'd heard Perry calling Henderson before he'd flown off, he figured he should check out the ones in Ireland first. After all, the Metropolis police should already be headed for the one in New Troy.

Normally, there wouldn't even be a question. Sullivan had only kidnapped Lois this evening; so how could he be in Ireland tonight? But something very strange was going on here. Lois had been in that bathroom at the same time he had. He was certain of that. And then there were the two murders that had only happened fifteen minutes apart. So what did that mean? Maybe Patrick did have some sort of mystical powers. And for all he knew, one of those powers was to teleport from one place to another in an instant.

If that were the case, the stone circle in Metropolis might be a diversion.

Still, it was looking less and less as if that were the case. Turning quickly, he headed back across the ocean. He glanced at the moon, realizing that the shadow of the Earth would soon begin blocking out its light. At this moment, he wished more than anything that he had the power to stop an eclipse — or at least could do so without risking the Earth's ecosystems.


"Chief," Jimmy said, sticking his head in Perry's office. As they waited to hear back from either Clark or the Metropolis P.D., Alice and Perry had retreated into Perry's office while Jimmy and Jennifer had elected to remain in the conference room.

"Yes, Jimmy," Perry answered.

"Something weird is going on here."

Perry just raised his eyebrows to that comment.

"I just checked on Stryker's records and Shamus died in prison last month. Apparently, he took his own life. His suicide note said that this was his only way out."

"And yet Clark says he saw him today? How in the Sam Hill is that possible? Is everyone losing their minds?"

Jimmy shrugged before leaving the room.

"How long do you think before we hear something?" Alice asked, glancing at the clock for what felt like the millionth time.

"It's hard to say. If Superman finds her, it could be right away. If we have to wait for the Metropolis P.D., it might be a little longer."

"What about Clark? Do you think he's driving out there by himself?"

"I suspect he went to try to find Superman," Perry said before a silence fell on the room.

A few minutes passed before Alice spoke again. "It's hard. This waiting."

Perry nodded.

"Do you do this type of thing often?"

"Hm? Oh, waiting? No, not a lot. But with Lois and Clark there does seem to be a fair amount of that. Waiting to find out if things went all right. Still, I usually have other stuff to keep me busy in the meantime…"

"Oh, if you want to work, I could just wait with Jimmy and Jennifer." Alice rose to her feet.

"No, no. That's not what I meant at all. Please…" He gestured his wife back into her chair. "It's nice having you here."

Alice smiled. "I think that's the nicest thing you've said to me in years."

Perry grimaced. "I guess I need to work on that, huh?"

"No, that's not what I meant at all. I meant…" She stumbled slightly as she tried to figure out how to say what she was thinking. "I just meant, it's nice to be here with you, too."

Another moment of silence passed before Alice spoke again. "It's always life and death with those two, isn't it?"

Perry nodded. "Usually."

She cocked her head to the side, studying him before saying, "I used to be so jealous of all the time you spent in this place."

"Used to be?"

She nodded. "But if other evenings are anything like this one, I don't envy you your job one bit."

He let out a slow breath as that comment digested.

"Maybe that was the problem," Alice continued after a moment. "Maybe I just didn't understand what kept you here at all hours of the day and night."

"What are you saying, Alice?"

She hesitated, weighing her words. "That maybe it's time for me to learn a little more about the man I married."

Perry smiled. "I'd like that."


Lois was cursing softly under her breath as she continued to struggle with her bonds. She stopped when she heard a slight rustling of the tent flaps.

They didn't exactly open. It was more as if something slid between the flaps. It wasn't until she saw what had stepped into the room that she understood why.

It was a man by all accounts. Shocking red hair and wearing a green frock coat, vest and hat, but what made Lois question his humanity was that he was no more than two feet in height.

"What are you?" she asked.

"Have ye ne'er seen a leprechaun before?" the man responded in a thick Irish brogue.

"Uhh… I don't believe in leprechauns."

"Uhh… well, maybe I should just be on my way then."

"No. No. I mean…"


"Well, on the off chance that you're really here and that I'm not just losing my mind, how about untying me?"

"Why didn't ye say so in the first place?"

"Wait! You wouldn't be… Erin, would you?"

"At yer service," Erin responded, removing his hat and giving a full bow.

"Great. Now I'm talking to Colleen's invisible leprechaun," Lois mumbled.

"So let's see what we can do about those bonds of yers," Erin said, ignoring her comment. He moved quickly, disappearing behind her and she felt the ropes slowly being loosened.

"I don't want you to think I don't appreciate this," Lois said when her first hand came free. "But why exactly are you helping me?"

"Don't ye know anything about leprechauns? I'm not helping ye. I'm makin' trouble for them."

"Oh," Lois said, using her freed hands to make work of the ropes binding her feet and in a moment she was free.

"Now I reckon ye should be heading off," Erin said. "The ceremony is due to begin soon."

"Thank you."

"Be off with ye!" Erin said again. "They'll not be long in discovering yer escape."

Lois nodded, rushing over to the table to grab the knife. Without bothering to look behind her to see where Erin was — or find out if she hadn't imagined his presence in the first place — she began working feverishly to make a hole in the back of the tent large enough for her to get out.

After squirming through the tight spot, she rose to her feet, making her way into the surrounding forest as quickly as she dared. It was vital no one hear her. They'd realize she was gone before long as it was. And she wanted to be long gone before that happened.

She would call for Superman — when she was far enough away that she could do so without anyone hearing. After all, the last time she'd called, he hadn't come. And if she called and he didn't come, the others at the camp would recapture her.

Besides, Patrick had hinted at the possibility of kryptonite. She wasn't about to risk Clark's life. It wouldn't help either of them if he showed up only to find out that they had the means to kill him. And knowing him… He thought she was the one who tended to jump in without checking the water level when he suffered from that particular affliction at least as much as she.


Superman spotted a number of police cars at the entrance to the road leading to the stone circle and, curious as to whether they had already found Lois, he dove down.

"Inspector Henderson," he said, quickly approaching the man in question, his cape swishing majestically behind him.

"Superman, we're glad you're here," Henderson said. "We've been having a hell of a time trying to get through that fog."

Clark's eyes followed Henderson's gesture, noticing for the first time the thick fog blanketing the forest before him.

"You can't see your hand in front of your face in there," Henderson went on to explain. "We had to stop the cars. We even tried walking. But as soon as you step into it, you're lost. But we have reason to believe that Patrick Sullivan has reemerged and is holding Lois Lane captive at the end of this road."

"Don't worry," Superman said. "I'll use my x-ray vision to find Lois. You just keep your men here in case anyone tries to escape. Are there any other roads leading into or out of this area?"

"This is the only one."

Superman nodded before taking to the sky. Activating his x-ray vision, he dove into the fog.


Lois was completely lost. The fog was so thick that she literally couldn't see her hand in front of her face. She turned around, trying to get her bearings, but it was pointless.

Putting her hands out in front of her, she took a cautious step forward. And then another. She cursed when on the third step she tripped, skinning both her hands and knees as she landed on the sharp stones.

Still, she was probably far enough away from the camp by now.

"Help! Superman!" she yelled at the top of her lungs before sinking down to sit on the ground. Without her eyes, she couldn't do much else. She waited a couple of minutes and yelled again. Surely he'd find her if she just kept yelling.

"He's not coming you know."

Lois stumbled to her feet when the fog suddenly lifted in a small circle around her and she saw Patrick standing there, watching her.

"He'll come," she responded defiantly.

He gestured to the fog. "He's not coming."

"You think a little fog will stop Superman."

"Uhh, yes. The x-ray vision."

Lois narrowed her eyes. What did Patrick mean by that? It was obviously not news to him. Nor did the thought that Superman had x-ray vision seem to trouble him.


Clark was completely lost. He'd realized there was a problem the moment he'd entered the fog and his x-ray vision hadn't been able to clear the way ahead. Still, he'd continued flying for a few more seconds at full speed before slowing down. And now he had to admit, he was completely disoriented.

He turned around, trying to get his bearings, but couldn't seem to tell up from down anymore. He stretched out with his hearing, but all he heard was absolute silence. No sounds from the city or the countryside around him. There was not even the sound of the wind rustling in the trees. Nothing with which he could orient himself. Never had he heard such complete and utter silence.

He stopped, letting himself float, trying to figure out which way was up. When he thought he had it figured out, he began moving slowly in that direction. He had to find his way above the clouds.

He growled in frustration when he hit the ground.

Okay, well at least he now knew the direction of down. Getting up, he raised his face to the heavens. Closing his eyes, he shot straight up into the air, only opening them again when he felt the atmosphere begin to thin.

He looked down, seeing the section of Earth below him that was completely covered in heavy fog. He focused, trying to use his x-ray vision to see through it, but to no avail. He was as helpless as the police.

A moment later, he was streaking across the sky in the direction of the Daily Planet. He needed help coming up with a new idea. Because there were two things of which he was absolutely certain. Lois was somewhere in that fog and the Earth's shadow would begin crossing the moon very soon.


Perry's heart dropped when Clark walked into the newsroom alone. Still, he and Alice quickly joined Jimmy and Jennifer as they made their way towards Clark, hoping for news.

"Did you find her?" Jimmy asked.

Clark shook his head, looking as if the world had collapsed around him.

"What happened, son?" Perry asked.

Clark took a deep breath. "We know where they are. Or at least, we think we do. But there is a heavy fog blanketing the place and no one can get in. The police are lined up on the road heading out of the property, but they can't get in."

"What about Superman?" Jimmy asked. "I mean, he has that x-ray vision thing happening. Surely…" His voice trailed off when Clark began shaking his head.

"Superman tried. But he couldn't seem to x-ray it. Still, he headed into it, hoping to hear and maybe follow her heartbeat, but he couldn't hear anything. No wind. No sounds at all. Nothing."

Everyone was silent for the space of about fifteen seconds.

"Have Superman take you with him," Jennifer finally said.

"What?" Clark asked. "If Superman can't find her, how am I supposed to?"

"Like me, my dad was sort of… intrigued by the Druids. And he told me once that when you're talking about magic, there is one magic that is stronger than all the rest. And this fog… It sounds like a case of magic to me."

"So…?" Perry asked.

"Get Superman to take you into the fog and then listen…"

"I told you, not even Superman can hear in that fog."

"Don't listen with your ears. Listen with your heart. Love is the strongest magic."


Clark slowly allowed the fog to engulf him once again. He still wasn't sure about Jennifer's plan, but in light of the fact that there was nothing else to try, he closed his eyes, simply drifting in the fog, and focused on Lois.

In his mind, he saw the twinkle in her eyes when she was hot on the trail of a story. He heard the way she babbled when she was nervous. He felt the touch of her fingers on his skin. Smelled the way her body changed when she became aroused. Basked in the sound of her voice singing 'Signs' the previous day.

He let his mind take him back to the way she looked at him when they had exchanged their wedding vows. The love and trust he had seen in her eyes as she'd given him her future. The breathless wonder in her voice. The feel of that first kiss when they had finally been pronounced husband and wife.

And then he felt it. Almost so soft that for a moment he wasn't entirely sure what it was. But he hung on to it, nursing it until it became stronger. Keeping his eyes closed and moving at a snail's pace, he began to follow it. After a few moments, he stopped, having lost the fragile thread. He concentrated. He had to pick it up again. He just had to.


Lois was back in the tent. Hands tied even more tightly this time. He'd heard Patrick accusing Colleen of releasing her and in order to save Colleen, Lois had told him that Shamus just hadn't tied the ropes tight enough. Besides, for all she knew, that was the truth. After all, how did one say that a leprechaun saved her and not end up in the loony-bin? She wasn't even certain she believed it so how was she supposed to convince anyone else?

Still, telling Patrick that Shamus hadn't tied her tight enough… Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

But she had been scared about what might happen to Colleen if Patrick thought she had helped Lois escape.

Escape. She snorted softly. That was a laugh. But what choice had she had but to return with Patrick? He'd been right. Superman hadn't come. And when Patrick had been followed into the small clearing by Shamus and a couple of others, there really had been no other choice but to come along — especially since the only path clear of fog had led back to the camp.

Not that she particularly believed that Patrick had used some sort of spell to create a fog that Superman could neither see nor hear through. But still… She sighed. She'd get another chance. She'd just have to make better use of that one. Because one thing was for sure. Lois Lane did not give up.

She heard a rustling outside the tent and quit struggling just as the flap was pushed aside and Shamus entered.

"You don't have to help him, you know," Lois said. "He doesn't own you. You could always just say no. I promise, I'll put in a good word for you with the police."

"It's time," Shamus said, withdrawing an ancient knife from his robe.

"Okay," Lois said, her heart pounding. "I'm not sure you're aware of the program. Patrick wants me to give him a son. And, hey, that's not going to happen if you kill me."

"Be quiet," Shamus demanded, using the knife to snap her bonds. Before she could move, he grabbed her arm and began pulling her towards the entrance to the tent. "Now," he said, "you will do exactly what I say or you will not live to see another day." With that, he moved behind her, placing the blade of the knife against her throat.

"You're the boss."

"Good. I suggest you remember that. We're ready." The final words were said loudly and in response, the flaps on the tent were pulled back and together they stepped out, the knife of Shamus' blade remaining against her throat.

In addition to the stones and torches, the area was now filled with people. Two circles of robed people, their hoods up so far as to keep Lois from seeing their faces, surrounded the stones. In the center, on the far side of the large cauldron, was Patrick. His father was standing slightly behind him. Lois couldn't see Colleen anywhere. Maybe she was one of the robed people. Maybe Lois' lie hadn't helped and she had still been blamed for Lois' escape and was tied up somewhere nearby. Or worse. Although, since she claimed she was already dead, Lois wasn't entirely sure what 'worse' could be. Maybe 'real dead?'

Music started, the sounds of primitive drums and mystical harps. Lois glanced around, noticing small groups of musicians set up at various locations, diligently tending to their instruments.

But what attracted Lois' attention the most was the dancing couples, weaving in and out of the circle, twirling, chasing each other, laughing and playing. And, except for the fox skin armbands, they were completely naked.

Lois quickly directed her attention elsewhere as Shamus marched her between the two circles of robed people and begin to move them clockwise around the circle. Once they had walked between the rows of people for one complete cycle, Shamus moved them further in, to complete another circle.

At that point, the dancers seemed to take greater interest in her, often dancing around her. Enacting, through dance, the mating rituals between men and women. One of the couples got particularly close and Lois got a strong whiff of wine reeking off their bodies. Well, that would explain how the fertility ceremony worked. Get people drunk enough, whip them into a kind of frenzy and then let nature take its course.

Well, if that was the plan, Patrick was in for a rude awakening. Because not only was she not turned on, she was very quickly getting turned off. The music continued to build, matching the increasingly frantic and intimate movements of the dancing couples.

'Clark, where are you?' she thought, directing her eyes towards the heavens, cut off from view as it still was by the heavy clouds.

Shamus continued to direct her footsteps until she arrived at the middle of the circle, being pulled to a stop when she was on the opposite side of the cauldron from Patrick.

"This isn't going to work, Patrick," she said in as calm a voice as she could manage. "I'm damn well never going to have sex with you." And she wouldn't. She'd die before she let that man touch her.

Not seeming perturbed at all, he simply smiled.

"Let the fertility ceremony begin," he announced before tossing something into the boiling cauldron.

The steam rose from the cauldron, engulfing Lois for a moment, before dissipating.

She coughed slightly and then felt Shamus release her and step back. This was it. This was her last chance to escape. She somehow knew that deep in the pit of her belly. She had to try. In spite of all the people around who could stop her. She'd be damned if… She blinked. She'd be damned if… Her eyebrows knotted together in confusion. If what? What was she thinking again?

She heard voices, but whether they were speaking English or something else, she couldn't tell. Everyone looked strange, every movement seemed to leave a streak of color in its wake. Fascinated by this new development, she turned her head quickly and then giggled when everything momentarily became a blur.

She felt her robe being slipped off her shoulders, but paid it no mind. The cool of the air felt good against the heat of her skin.

She heard what sounded like angry voices — almost as if someone was upset by the discovery of the Princess Leia outfit she'd worn beneath the robe — but she ignored them. It was irrelevant. Tilting her head back, she looked at the fog above her, allowing herself to fall into it. She put her hands out at her sides, level with her shoulders, and spun in a circle, closing her eyes as she began floating amongst the clouds.

The angry voices seemed to stop and soon the beautiful music started playing again. She let the music sweep over her body, moving in time with it, her movements becoming increasingly sensual to match the beat of the music. A wooden bowl was put to her lips and when she tasted the sweat nectar, she took the bowl, drinking while continuing to move to the music.

Hands took hers on both sides of her body. She allowed them to lead her, still moving in time with the music as she was taken between two rows of torches and back again. She watched in fascination as the torches danced before her. She tried to join them, but all too soon was being led back to the cauldron, the robe being slipped back over her shoulders.

She felt someone new take her hand and looked at the man standing next to her, grinning. She grinned back. It seemed like the thing to do. Besides, she felt good. She felt really good. Light and free. Like a bird, soaring through the air on a breeze. In her mind, she vaguely wondered who the good looking guy standing beside her was. She should know him; she knew she should. Pineapple! That was it. His name was Pineapple. She crinkled her eyebrows. No, it wasn't Pineapple. Who would name their kid Pineapple? She giggled.

She watched distractedly as he raised their hands, taking a knife and slicing through the skin on both of their palms. For a moment, the pain broke through her haze and she winced, but then he joined their hands together, letting their blood mingle and she forgot the pain, watching in fascination.

She saw another man take Pineapple's place on the other side of the cauldron. She knew he was speaking, but ignored him, shaking her head back and forth to watch his arms blur as he moved them. She was distracted from this pleasant activity by someone tying her wrist to Pineapple's. But she didn't stop them. Something about it felt… right.

The man on the other side of the cauldron had just finished speaking when a collective gasp seemed to emanate from the crowd around her. And then, she herself gasped at the bright primary colors that seemed to fill her vision as a man floated down from the sky.


People began to move frantically when Superman landed in their midst, scattering in every direction, practically tripping over each other in their effort to escape.

"It's over, Sullivan," Superman said, folding his arms across his chest.

"You're too late, lad," Patrick responded, pulling the hand that was still joined with Lois' closer to him. "She's mine now."

A quick shot of heat vision burned through the ropes, freeing Lois.

"Lois, come here," Superman said, keeping his eyes on Patrick. "Lois?" he asked when Lois didn't move, taking his eyes off Patrick to look at his wife.

Her eyes were dilated and her face was flushed. She seemed unable to focus. "Lois, come here," he said softly, holding out his hand for her.

He flinched as if struck when he heard the small note of protest coming from the back of her throat as she backed closer to Patrick.

"What did you do to her?" he demanded angrily of Patrick, focusing again on the other man.

"She's made her choice, Superman. Or should I call you Clark? You're not welcome here."


Lois cringed instinctively at the anger she heard in the brightly colored man's voice. She didn't know what was going on, but she did know that he was trying to take her away from Pineapple. Why would he want to do that? She belonged with Pineapple.

The brightly colored man moved forward, so fast that he was nothing but a blur, grabbing Pineapple and holding him so that his feet weren't quite touching the ground.

"No!" the word slipped unbidden from her mouth and instantly the brightly colored man set Pineapple down, turning towards her, speaking gently to her.

She couldn't make out the words, but suddenly she found herself falling into his eyes, unable to look away as something began to tug at the depths of her soul.

"Clark?" she whispered and as if that was the magic word, the fog lifted slightly from her mind and she saw the man she loved, looking as if his heart was breaking. "Clark," she said again, throwing himself into his arms. And then he was holding her. "You came. You came. You came," she repeated over and over as she covered his face with kisses.


So lost in the feel of having his wife back in his arms, Clark didn't notice Patrick moving away.

"Superman!" Patrick's shout finally got Clark's attention. He looked up, seeing the man, arm raised, something in his clenched fist. Instinctively, he moved, pulling Lois behind him.

"Anal nathrach, orth bhais's bethad, dochel denmha," Patrick chanted before throwing the contents of his hand into the cauldron. Steam rose from the bubbling surface.

Clark tried to move towards Patrick but found he was frozen to the spot. He cringed when he heard sounds coming from the forest around them and suddenly, hideous beasts began to emerge, snapping and growling, making their way closer and closer. He was Superman and he couldn't stop them. He was Superman and in moments they would be on his wife, tearing her limb from limb, and he was going to be unable to do anything but watch.


"What did you do to him?" Lois demanded.

Since she'd first recognized Clark, the haze in her mind had been steadily lifting. But when she saw him go completely still, not a muscle moving, the only sign of life the steady rise and fall of his chest, she suddenly found herself completely sober. The previous minutes… or hours for all she knew… were still a blur. But that was not where her concentration was focused.

Her eyes darted from glaring at Patrick back to the man she loved.

"Just a little spell to put him in his place," Patrick responded.

She slowly made her way around Clark. When she finally arrived in front of him, she gasped at the look of naked terror in his eyes — the only part of him that still seemed totally alive. She spun around, facing Patrick again. "What did you do to him?" she demanded a second time.

"The spell paralyzes the body and right now he's seeing things that are too horrible to even imagine."

Spinning back towards Clark, she spoke again, her voice soft. "Clark, can you hear me?"

But he ignored her, looking straight ahead, at something over her shoulder.

"Come on, Clark. Come back to me," she begged. Still, there was no reaction.

"Give it up, love," Patrick said. "Even if he were to come back to you, after what he's seen, he would never be the same. There would be nothing left for you to love."

Lois spun towards him. "That's where you're wrong. Even if he is never the same again…" Her voice cracked on the final word. Still, she pulled herself together and continued, her voice again in control. "Even if he's never the same again, I will always love him."

"Even if that's true, you belong to me now. The spell will make sure of that. You won't leave me."

"I choose him, Patrick. Don't you get it? Your little spell didn't work. I will get him back. And I will leave you," she said even as her heart began to race. There was something in her that did rebel against the thought of leaving Patrick. Still, she pushed on. She would break whatever voodoo he'd used to bind them together or die trying. "He's the other half of my soul. And nothing… nothing you can do, not to him, not to me, no spell you can conger or cast will ever change that." Her voice got stronger, more certain. The pounding in her heart lessened slightly. The fear at leaving Patrick became a little less pronounced. "I love him. I will always love him. And that will never change. I will spend the rest of my life with him." The last vestiges of whatever hold he'd had over her fled on the final words.

Spinning back around, she spoke to Clark. "Come on, Clark," she said softly. "You got through to me. You broke through whatever black magic Patrick infected me with. Please, let me get through to you."

A slight, brief crinkle on his forehead told her that he was not indifferent to her words. Still, he didn't look at her, his gaze still fixed over her shoulder at the forest beyond. Reaching up, she grabbed his face with her hands, pulling it around so that whether he wanted to or not, he was looking into her eyes. "I love you, Clark Jerome Kent. I love you more than anything else in this world."

"It's pointless," Patrick said. "Even if you are telling the truth. Even if you can leave me, which I doubt, you won't get him back."

"Don't listen to him, Clark. Fight this. Come back to me." Suddenly she saw the tiniest bit of recognition in his eyes — as if he was struggling to see her. "That's it, sweetie," she whispered. "I need you to come back. I can't go on without you." The tears that she'd refused to cry earlier came unbidden now. Her love for the man before her rolling freely down her cheeks as she struggled to reach him.


The monsters were still coming. But suddenly, there was something else too. At first he didn't recognize it, but as he watched the monsters in horror, seeing them descend from every direction, something began to tug at his soul. Some recognition. Something real beyond the terror surrounding him.

It called to him. It begged him to fight the monsters, to come back to it… to her. Her. And then he was looking in her eyes. The terrors around him continued, but there was also her. Her eyes. Her tears. "Lois?" he whispered so softly that he doubted she'd hear him.

But the look on her face, told him she did. "That's it. Just listen to my voice. Nothing else is real. Just me. Just concentrate on me — on how much I love you."

"Lois," he whispered again, no louder than the last time, as the horrors around him began to retreat.

He tried to move. Still, he was powerless to do anything but try to communicate through his eyes the love he felt for her.

"I need you to hold me," she whispered. "I know you can do it."

He tried but was unable to do so. He tried to convey his apology through his eyes.

"Come on, Clark. Fight. Fight for us."

He pushed against the limitations of his body, fighting with his mind to do as she asked. He could see her tears and he needed so desperately to stop them. His right hand twitched slightly.

"What?" Patrick gasped. "He shouldn't be able to do that." He lunged forward, reaching for Lois and suddenly something broke free inside of Clark.

He was between Patrick and Lois faster than the human eye could follow as the demons around him retreated for good. All he knew was that he couldn't allow Patrick to hurt Lois. He hadn't even thought — he'd just acted. Behind him, he heard Lois breathe a sigh of relief, wrapping her arms around him and laying her cheek against his shoulder.

"Give it up, Sullivan," Clark said, his voice slightly wobbly, but still clear. "Your spells didn't work."

Patrick's followers had fled the moment Superman had appeared on the scene. Except for one. Still weak from Patrick's spells and their backs turned the wrong way, neither Clark nor Los were aware the danger until Patrick's father leapt upon Lois from behind, the ceremonial knife in his hand.

"You'll not embarrass him! You'll not embarrass the family!" Collin Sullivan yelled as he buried the knife in Lois.

Standing facing Lois and Superman, Patrick had a much better view. "No!" he yelled, tackling his father before Superman was completely aware of what was happening.

Clark spun around in time to catch Lois as she collapsed to the ground. Still, unprepared for her weight, he unexpectedly crumpled to his knees, holding her limp body against him.


Collin Sullivan fell backwards, his son on top of him. The blood-covered knife flew from his hands, landing some ten feet away.

Scrambling to his hands and knees, Patrick began to crawl towards the knife only to have his forward motion halted when Collin grabbed his leg, rolling over to prevent his son from reaching the weapon. Patrick kicked back, hitting his father firmly in the jaw as his leg came free. A loud cracking sound split the night air and Collin cried out in pain. Patrick ignored the cry in his frenzy to reach the knife.

Grabbing it, he spun back in time to see Collin lying on the ground, holding his jaw in agony. He hesitated slightly, but then he caught sight of Lois' limp body, held protectively in Superman's arms and his fury rose. Giving a primitive scream, he lunged at his father.


The first thing Lois became aware of was overwhelming pain. For a moment, she wished again for the oblivion of being unconscious. Or at least she did until she saw Clark's terrified eyes.

She gave him a wobbly smile. "Hell of a day," she whispered.

The relief on his face was obvious and she knew what was going through his mind. If she was able to joke about it, she was probably going to live. "Hell of a day," he responded.

A bolt of pain shot through her again and she cried out, her hand going instinctively to her side where Clark was using his cape to staunch the bleeding. "Have you… You know?" Lois said, making a gesture of pulling a pair of glasses down her nose.

He nodded. "I don't think he hit any vital organs. But I'll feel better when we get you to a hospital to get you checked out," he said very quietly.

"You don't think he hit any vital organs? Don't you know?" she asked.

He glanced over at the struggle between Patrick and Collin. Realizing they were too caught up in the fight over the knife to pay any attention, he spoke again, keeping his voice low. "My powers are sort of… not all there yet. I can sort of see enough to think you're all right. And I moved fast enough when I thought Patrick was going to hurt you. But… I've been trying, since you collapsed, to fly you out of here and… I'm not able to. I'm not even entirely sure I could pick you up and carry you right now."

"Oh," Lois said, glancing over at the two men rolling around on the ground. Suddenly, everything was clear. The reason she'd regained consciousness lying in Clark's arms in the forest rather than half way to the hospital. The reason he wasn't trying to interfere in the fight between Patrick and Collin. He could move, but Patrick's spell had robbed him of most of his strength. And since she'd seen Patrick come close to defeating a full-strength Superman, this would have to be handled very, very carefully. His spells might not work as far as forcing her and Clark apart, but she had no doubt that their love wouldn't prevent Patrick from being able to kill Superman if he realized that Superman was powerless.

"So… we fake it for now," she told him. She glanced around her, hoping for some sort of inspiration. "Look," she whispered excitedly, gesturing her head towards the sky.

Clark looked up. "What?" he asked, sounding confused.

"I can see the moon."


"The fog is lifting."

She saw understanding suddenly enter Clark's eyes. Her mind began to race. Patrick's magic was beginning to fail. What they needed most now was time.


Clark's voice was hesitant, as was his expression when she looked back at him. She stayed silent waiting for him to continue.

"Did Patrick…"

She crinkled her eyebrows when he hesitated, almost as if he were afraid to ask the question that was obviously troubling him.

"…hurt you?" he finally completed, taking a quick look at Patrick and Collin, making sure they were both still occupied.

"Hurt…" Her voice trailed off. Of course, she was hurt. He could surely see that for himself. So what… Her eyes widened as the meaning of his question sank in. He was obviously worried, given the fact that he hadn't arrived before the fertility ceremony, that she had been raped. "No, Clark. I'm a little fuzzy on what did happen. But I know what didn't. I assume that would have come later. You got here in time."

The relief on Clark's face was instantaneous.


Patrick was slowly gaining the upper hand. The old man was still a pretty good fighter. But then, like Patrick, he was not entirely without special powers. After all, like Patrick, Collin Sullivan had sacrificed the one he loved — Patrick's mother — to the ancient gods.

Still, this was one fight Patrick had no intention of losing. No matter who this man was, no matter what powers he had, no one tried to kill Lois.

Patrick finally gained supremacy, getting hold of the knife. Straddling his father, he began pushing the knife progressively closer to the older man's throat while Collin tried to hold him off. The rage empowered Patrick. His lips quirked into a grimace as he forced the knife down. His father's eyes met his. Collin Sullivan's anger turned to fear with each inch the knife descended until finally the knife was brushing against the man's throat.

"Patrick, no!" Lois yelled, distracting him.

"He tried to kill you," Patrick snapped back, not taking his eyes off his father.

"Lots of people have tried to kill me. Trust me. I'm not that killable. I don't need you to avenge me. I don't want you to avenge me."

"Someone has to teach them not to mess with you. You're super husband is too much of a wimp to deal with it. I had to protect you."

"You didn't do this for me, Patrick!" Lois' temper finally snapped. "You did this for you. It all had to do with your stupid idea that killing them would give you power! This had nothing to do with me!"

"Yes, killing them empowered me," Patrick admitted, rising to his feet, his eyes flashing as he looked at Lois. Absently, he gave his father one final kick to ensure he'd stay put. "I needed that to get you back."

Lois closed her eyes momentarily. "Patrick, you never had me in the first place," she said softly. "I was young. I was away from Metropolis for the first time. I was enamored by a good-looking, attentive young man. But that is all it ever was. It doesn't matter how much power you get, I will never love you."

"You're drawn to power. Look at Luthor. Look at Superman."

"You think I married 'Superman?'" she asked, incredulous.

"Lois, don't play games with me," he said, his voice once again going hard. "I know who he is." He jerked his head towards Superman.

Lois let out a breath. "I gave up Superman," she said. "Long before I knew the truth, I gave up the superhero for this…" Her features softened as she looked into Clark's face. "…somewhat naive farmboy from Kansas who could make my heart do all sorts of crazy things just by saying my name. I gave up the most powerful being on the planet for the gentlest man I have ever known. I gave up Superman for Clark Kent."

Her gaze returned to Patrick. "To you, they might be the same man. But the man I fell in love with, the man I will spend my life with, is the kindest, gentlest, funniest man I know. And he loves me with a love so pure it takes my breath away."

Patrick hesitated, looking from Lois to Superman. The superhero's expression was soft as he looked at his wife and in that moment Patrick really saw what passed between them.

"That's why the spell didn't work," Patrick said softly. "The gods have already bound you to another." He gave her a half-smile. "Good-bye, Lois."

"Wait!" she said when he began to dematerialize.

He resumed substantial form.

"There's one thing I still don't understand," Lois said, unable to resist. "Jace Mazik… We didn't tell anyone that he tried to kill me so…"

"…how did I know?"

Lois nodded.

"Nigel St. John."

"But he's dead," Clark said, joining the conversation for the first time.

"He told Shamus and Shamus told me when he returned from the other side for Samhain." Patrick took one final look at the couple before him. "I hope you know what you have, Kent," he said.

Clark smiled, his gaze resting lovingly on his wife. "I do."

Patrick nodded slowly. "Yes, I believe you do." And with that he disappeared into a green mist just as police sirens began to sound in the distance.

"You were magnificent," Clark said in absolute awe.

"I'm glad you noticed," Lois said, flinching slightly as she attempted to sit up. He moved quickly, helping her lean against one of the large stones making up the circle. Then he removed his cape, folding it to place it again over her wound. "Where's Collin?" Lois said, when she was finally settled.

"He must have left, too," Clark responded. "Question is, did he run away or mist-ify?"

Lois gave his arm a playful slap, then seemed to realize the echo of police sirens was getting stronger. "Clark, since you don't have your powers, maybe…"

"I need to change."

She nodded.

He had just finished in time for Lois and Clark to be alone in the circle when the first police car rounded the corner into the clearing.


Lois laughed when a large bouquet of black and orange flowers appeared in the doorway to her hospital room, followed by the head of her husband.

"Mind if I come in?" Clark asked before entering the room, leaving the door open behind him.

"With an introduction like that, how can I say no?"

"They're from Evelyn and Sandy. They gave them to me when I took a copy of our story to 'Say It With Flowers," he said. "By the way, both Evelyn and Sandy send their best wishes for a speedy recovery."

He made his way over to the nearby table to place the bouquet down amidst the flowers that had already been delivered. "I see you've been collecting." He turned back towards her.

"Yeah. The red and yellow roses you brought earlier. A bouquet from Franklin Stern and his wife. Oh and the cactus is from the Metropolis P.D. — although, I suspect it's really from Henderson. He brought it when he questioned me." She shrugged. "And now… the ones from Evelyn and Sandy. Must be a new Halloween tradition."

Clark burst into laughter. A moment later, he joined her, taking a seat on the side of the bed. He picked up her hand and gently raised it to his mouth in order to kiss the rope burn on her wrist, his expression darkening.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

He instantly schooled his expression. "Nothing. So what did the doctor say?"

"That I'll be fine. Probably won't even have much of a scar," she said, quickly continuing before he could ask more questions. "But don't change the subject. Clark…" She paused, waiting until he met her eyes before continuing. "…what's wrong?"

He signed. "Just… Well, Sullivan managed to…"

"…open up some old wounds?" she asked, guessing what he was likely to say.

He nodded. "It's just… Well… if you had married him…"

"A psychotic, sociopathic, insane murderer?"

"Okay, so maybe not Sullivan exactly. But someone… human…" He paused, his forehead crinkling slightly in pain. "…he could have given you children."

She reached out a hand, raising his chin so that he was forced to meet his eyes. "Don't do this, Clark. I didn't give up anything to marry you — the most 'human' man I know. Weren't you even listening to what I said to Patrick? I didn't say stuff because I was trying to get him to give up his obsession with me, I said it because it is true. Every word."

"But I know you want children. I know it hurt you as much as it did me when Dr. Klein told us we couldn't have them."

"Yes, it hurt me. And do you want to know why?" She paused, making sure she had his full attention. "Because I want to have 'your' children. And if I can't have children with you, I don't want them at all. Okay?"

He let out a breath before nodding.

"Okay, then. Don't be such a lunkhead and get over here and give me a kiss," she demanded. "Otherwise, I might start to think you're afraid of getting cooties if you kiss a girl."

Clark smiled. "No chance of that. After all, I'm Superman. And Superman is definitely not afraid of cooties," he said, leaning in to do as commanded.

What began as a gentle reassurance between them, that they were alive and together, quickly became something much deeper. Time and space were lost to them as Clark's hand made its way into her hair and they began exploring each other's mouths with a new urgency.

"I knew we should have knocked." Perry's deep voice caused Lois and Clark to jump apart. "Can't leave these two alone for a minute."

"Busted," Lois murmured under her breath as Perry entered the room along with Alice, Jimmy and Jennifer.

"I think it's kind of cute," Alice said, coming over and placing a large bouquet of mixed flowers in with the others.

"That's because you don't have to watch it every day," Jimmy said. "Lip lock in the conference room. Lip lock when the elevator doors open. Lip lock when they realize there's no paper in the copy machine."

"Well, I work at the Daily Planet," Jennifer said, coming over to place a bunch of magazines on the table closest to Lois, "and I think it's cute, too."

"Provided they can actually get some work done around those kisses," Perry said.

"Would everyone mind not talking about my relationship with my husband as if we weren't here?" Lois asked in mock exasperation. "Besides, Perry, the story is already on the way to your computer. It's probably too late to make the morning edition, but it should make good copy for the afternoon edition."

"I read it," Perry said. "So why do I feel as if the story was seriously edited?"

Lois and Clark shared a look. "Because some of the things that happened were a little…" Clark began.

"…unbelievable," Lois finished before proceeding to tell the four people in the room the rest of the story.

"One thing I don't understand," Jennifer said after a moment. "Where did Superman go after he dropped Clark off?"

"Oh," Lois said, glancing over at Clark as her mind rushed to find an explanation.

"He was frozen by Sullivan's spell, too," Clark said. "But because he didn't have Lois helping him, he didn't come out of it until Sullivan vanished. Since he had other business to attend to, and the police were there to help us, he left."

"Well, anyway, kids, that's a hell of a story. But I think you're right. The copy you sent is probably the version to publish." He chuckled. "Although, you could probably send the real version to the Dirt Digger," he said, pointing to the top magazine Jennifer had brought.

Lois glanced over to see the headline. 'Murder Suspect Accuses Ghost.' The same magazine Clark had been reading earlier. Reaching across she picked it up. "You don't suppose…?" she asked, looking at Clark.

"Nah," both she and Clark said in unison after a moment's consideration.

"Anyway," Perry continued, "Henderson told me that they picked up a couple dozen men and women who tried to escape after Superman turned up, some of whom have already made deals to confirm at least part of your story. They even managed to nab Collin Sullivan so he's back in his nicely padded cell. Oh, and the governor was one of the 'attendees'. But he's claiming that he was kidnapped and forced there, too."

"Figures," Lois mumbled.

"But Patrick Sullivan, Shamus and Colleen Foley all seem to have vanished. Any idea where they might be?"

Lois shook her head. "But I doubt any of them will be back, Perry."

"At least not until next Halloween," Clark said.

"Just as long there is no full moon or lunar eclipse next Halloween," Lois said emphatically. "I don't think I could take another night like tonight. Anyway, I understand you four helped Clark find me. Thank you."

"That's what friends do for each other," Alice answered. "Besides, I think it may have helped me understand some things I didn't before," she continued, looking affectionately at Perry.

Perry suddenly cleared his throat. "Well, anyway, did the doctor say how long you'd be stuck here?"

"Just overnight. I lost a lot of blood and… Damn!"

Everyone looked inquisitively at Lois on the final expletive.

"No," Lois said. "It's just… if this had happened earlier today, I could have skipped that stupid masquerade ball."

Perry threw back his head and gave a full belly laugh. "Anyway, we should get going," he said. "Let you get your rest. And I don't want to see either of you tomorrow…" He glanced at his watch. "Or… I guess that's today."

They said their goodbyes and everyone had left when Jennifer suddenly stuck her head back in the open door. "Oh, by the way, there's something I think you should probably know. Legend has it that the Druid fertility ritual really was very potent. I'd suggest you… abstain for a few days — just in case. I can't tell you the number of women — even ones with problems getting pregnant — who, according to the legends, found themselves expecting after going through that ceremony."

Lois and Clark just stared at her.

"Yeah, you're probably right," Jennifer said when they didn't respond. "It's probably all just a legend. But I thought you should know."

As she began to leave, Lois said, "Wait!"

Jennifer looked back in the doorway.

"How do you know so much about Druids?"

Clark narrowed his eyes, suddenly realizing that, yes, she had known an awful lot more than he would expect from someone with a childhood hobby. "I recall reading somewhere that the Druids had priestesses as well as priests."

A slow smile made her way across Jennifer's face. "Yes, I've heard that, too," she said. "By the way, do you want me to leave the door open or closed?"

"Closed," both Lois and Clark said in unison.

Just before the door closed, they both caught a glimpse of a white mist coming from where Jennifer had been standing a moment before. And then, they were alone.



They continued to stare at each other for one long moment, both finally moving at the same instant. Lois pulled back the covers on her hospital bed. Clark locked the door before slipping off his shoes and climbing in next to her. Mouths met. Clothes were hastily removed, Clark only pulling back when his hand brushed against her wound and he heard her give a slight gasp.

"Maybe we should stop," he suggested.

"No way, farmboy. We've got some legends to create."



"I just don't see how it's possible," Dr. Klein said, staring in disbelief at the young couple sitting in his office.

"What? That Clark is Superman or…"

"No. No. No. I figured that out years ago," Dr. Klein said absently. "No, about you being pregnant."

Lois and Clark shared a look.

"Dr Klein, what do you know about Druid fertility ceremonies?" Lois asked.

"It may not have been the ceremony, Lois," Clark answered.

"Then how do you explain it?"

Clark smiled. "Maybe love really is the strongest magic of all."


Notes (In no particular order):

Disclaimer: Although I did a lot of research on Druids for this story and looked at a lot of websites to get ideas, it should be noted that I tended to avoid websites that claimed that Druids didn't participate in human sacrifices or cast magic spells (after all, that wouldn't have helped my story <g>). And then I threw everything I'd read together with a pinch of imagination into a large cauldron, stirred and came up with my own ceremonies and myths. So please don't take this as any sort of evidence of what Druids did or what the modern version do today.

The actual legend of the Council of Roisin Dubh can be found here:

"Anal nathrach, orth bhais's bethad, dochel denmha" means "Serpent's breath, charm of life and death, thy omen of making" in Old Irish (or so I read). It was apparently invented by an Irish professor of folklore, Pronsias Mac Cana, and used in the movie Excaliber to sound like a Druid curse

For information about Leprechauns, go to:

For your information, in our universe, there was neither a full moon nor a lunar eclipse on October 31, 1997.

Oh, and in case you're wondering why Lois didn't see Clark when she walked backwards while looking in the mirror, it's because Jimmy got the sequence wrong. On Halloween, you have to walk backwards down a flight of stairs into a basement while looking in a mirror — or something like that. If you try it, be sure to let me know if it works <g>.

The song is 'Signs' by Five Man Electric Band (c) 1970.

I got the idea for Lois' comment about not being a virgin from something I read in the script that didn't happen to make it into the show. It goes as follows:



I've loved you ever since we met, Lois, which makes this such a special gift for the Ancient Ones.


Wait, wait Don't you guys usually sacrifice virgins? I've got some really bad news for you

Patrick moves closer to Lois. He takes the tip of the knife and gently slips it under one of the buttons on her blouse.


The Ancient ones are flexible.

The Book of Pheryllt — see

Finally, if you'd like to see a poster for this story, go here: