Written by Bryce Zabel
INTERPRETED BY SARAH WOOD, submitted to the L&C board by carolm.
My thanks to the FOLCs who helped with this transcript: Donna Brown, Georgia Walden, Pam Jernigan, John Dobson, and Kathy Brown.
A note about this transcript: While the episode Strange Visitor was aired second, it chronologically belongs after Neverending Battle.
Lois entered the newsroom and looked around. She spotted Clark working at his computer, so she headed casually towards his desk. She paused behind him, peering over his shoulder to see what it was he was writing.
"Adopted kids looking for their birth parents, if you must know," Clark said, sensing her presence behind him.
She used her fingers to tick off a series of points. "Search for roots, emotional roller-coaster, unrealistic expectations, tear-jerker reconciliations," she rattled off with a superior smirk.
"Quick study," he acknowledged.
"Not really, I did it three years ago."
"There are no old stories, Lois, just --"
"-- new angles," she finished reciting with him, grinning.
"It seems to me if your real parents don't care enough to raise you, why give it a second thought," Lois said in the offhand manner of one who didn't understand.
"Because if they gave you away they must have had a reason, and it's that not knowing that kills you," Clark explained seriously, from the position of one who knew only too well what that felt like.
"Good! You stick to the touchy-feely stuff, I'll take Superman." She patted him with a smile and went to sit down at her desk. Jimmy was hovering there, waiting for her.
"Smooth outfit, Lois! New?"
Lois looked down at the nondescript beige suit she was wearing. "What do you want, Olsen?"
"Well, I was just thinking, you know, since your kid sister's new in town, maybe she'd like someone to, uh, you know, show her around."
"You want to ask Lucy out?"
With a sigh, Jimmy picked up the framed picture of the two Lane sisters on Lois's desk and looked at the younger girl's soft smile, long curling hair, and merry eyes. "Do I have a shot?"
"I'll need a complete financial statement and the results of a recent physical," Lois informed him in a businesslike tone.
He took a deep breath and wiped one sweaty palm on the front of his shirt. "Okay."
She looked up at him. "Jimmy, I'm kidding!"
"Come on, you don't think she'll laugh in my face?"
Lois took the picture from him and studied her sister's image judiciously, then put it back in its spot. "Use the telephone," she suggested.
Just then the elevator doors opened into the newsroom, and a veritable army of men in business suits swarmed out of it, immediately spreading out to canvas the room at the gestures of a heavy-set man in charge. "I have a warrant issued by Federal Court," he announced loudly to the Daily Planet staff, holding up a piece of paper. "Everyone step back from your desks!"
"Nobody comes busting into my newsroom like this!" Perry White growled, confronting him.
"Take it up with Washington," the man sneered, thrusting the warrant into the editor's face.
"'Order to produce evidence... compel testimony... Lois Lane, Clark Kent!'" Perry read, outraged.
"Wait a minute! Get your hands off me!" Lois protested angrily as one of the men practically hauled her away from her desk.
"Hey!" Clark intervened furiously.
One of the men drew a gun on him.
"Put it away!" the leader ordered immediately. "He's just a reporter."
"Reporter," Lois repeated indignantly. "As in protected by the Constitution!"
"Impressive document, the Constitution," the leader mocked. "It enables the courts to issue warrants, like this one, which says that I get what I want."
"What exactly is that?" Clark demanded.
"Mr. ... Kent, I presume," the man said with a grim smile.
"That's right," Clark acknowledged, wondering what the hell this was all about.
"I want Superman, and I'm not leaving here until you tell me where I can find him."
* * *
Clark tossed tightly scrunched balls of paper into the garbage can to amuse himself while they waited in the conference room.
"Do they honestly think if we knew where Superman was we'd be hanging around this place?" Lois asked wearily from the door. She was peering through the slats of the blinds that covered the glass pane, watching Perry argue vehemently with the invaders of his domain.
Clark used his super breath to make a ball of paper hover above the can, and let it drop just as Lois turned around. She stared for a moment. Had that ball taken a moment too long to fall in?
Clark whistled innocently. She dismissed the errant thought as preposterous.
"Okay, kids, here's the deal," Perry said, coming in. He looked tired and unhappy. "They want the two of you to take a polygraph test."
"What?" Lois asked in outrage.
Clark froze in sudden panic.
"Limited to national security concerns about Superman," Perry qualified.
"A lie detector?" Clark asked, his fear rising.
"I told them to stuff it!" Perry declared. "Not my two reporters!"
"That's right!" Clark murmured, relieved.
"Good for you!" Lois said, pleased.
"I told them if they were so bound and determined to take your computers and your notes, to just get on with it and get the hell out of my office so I can start suing their butts off into the next century."
"Wait, take my computer?" Lois asked uneasily.
"Well, you talk, they walk," Perry explained. "You don't, well, they're going to confiscate the whole shebang."
"Perry, everything I've ever done, or thought about doing, is on that computer! All my notes, my contacts... my novel!" she ended plaintively.
"Novel?" Clark asked.
Lois glared at him.
"Well, don't you back up onto floppy disks?" he asked incredulously.
"Clark, this is no time to discuss your compulsive behavior!"
He took that as a "no".
"All right, now look," Perry intervened, "what's it going to be, folks? I'm with you either way."
Lois stared expectantly at Clark, who was shaking his head. How could he take -- and pass -- a lie detector test about Superman? But what could he say to get out of it? What a predicament! "What about the first amendment, Lois?" he asked, hoping to appeal to her sense of indignation about this whole affair.
"To them the first amendment is a pesky little detail!"
"I can't do this -- we can't do this!"
"If we knew anything I'd agree, but this is like taking a polygraph about the ring-tailed lemur," she argued sensibly.
"See, she's right," Perry said, enjoying the fact that the invaders would gain nothing. "We don't know enough about Superman to lie!"
Clark looked at the floor, at the door; anywhere but at the two of them.
"Kent?" Perry asked gently. "Do you know something that you haven't told us?"
He was trapped.
* * *
Lois sat in a chair, attached to the various monitoring devices of the polygraph machine. Although she appeared calm and composed, inside she was torn between the desire to be obstructive and show this militaristic tyrant that she marched to her own drummer, and the desire to cooperate so that he would leave her computer alone.
"You will answer yes to these first two questions, we use this to calibrate the machine. Is your name Lois Lane?"
"That is what my byline says," she said sarcastically. The burly man in charge just stared at her, waiting, until she made a face and said, "Yes." The machine emitted a gentle beep.
"Are you also President of the United States?"
"Yes," she said, reluctantly cooperating.
The machine made a frantic high-pitched beeping as the needle jerked, creating harsh black lines across the paper.
The stocky man got right down to business. "Do you have any reason to believe that Superman is an agent of a foreign power?"
"Yeah, and leprechauns are agents of the IRA," she drawled, unable to resist.
"Is Superman from another planet?"
"If something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, chances are pretty good it is a duck." The man stared stonily at her until, with an exasperated sound, she said, "He looks like a man to me!"
"During the time the two of you were alone, did Superman discuss his mission here on Earth?"
"Mission?" she repeated, deciding that this guy was definitely out there. "We flew, we didn't talk. We didn't have to," she added airily, remembering the magical connection between them when they had gazed into each others' eyes.
"Nonverbal communication," the leader said to the man monitoring the polygraph machine. He turned back to Lois and asked, "Does Superman have any telepathic powers?"
She snickered, remembering some of her thoughts during that flight. "I hope not!"
"Do you have a romantic attachment to Superman?" he pressed, his voice getting harder and louder. Lois laughed slightly. "Yes or no?" he demanded.
The polygraph began squealing. Lois stared at it, and then gave the man a disarming shrug.
* * *
"You will answer yes to these first two questions, we use this to calibrate the machine. Is your name Clark Kent?"
"Yes," Clark said clearly, looking at the machine a bit anxiously.
"Are you also... Superman?" the man asked, looking pleased with himself for having thought of the joke.
Clark felt fear. "Yes," he said again. The machine again emitted a lazy little beep.
The man stared at it and turned to speak to the technicianin a low voice. "Why isn't this reading as a lie?"
"Either the machine is broken again, or this reporter is so mild-mannered he hasn't got a pulse," the operator replied quietly. "Ask him again."
"Remember to answer yes now... Are you Superman?"
"Yes," Clark said, and all eyes turned to the machine. He blew at the needle and it jerked back and forth.
"Working," the operator said with a nod.
"Well, Mr. Kent, we'll proceed. Have you ever met Superman?"
"Met him? Uh, I've seen him in action, if that's what you mean," Clark said, sounding as though he was trying to be helpful. He adjusted his glasses nervously. "I've never actually sat down and had a conversation with him. I guess you could say that I've met him." He was relieved when that was accepted by the machine as the truth.
While the two men watched the machine, Clark and his chair began to levitate. When he realized that he was a foot off the ground, he quickly brought the chair back to the floor. It landed with a thump. The two men turned to look at him sharply, and he gave a quick cough and a weak smile, relieved that they hadn't seen him. He had a tendency, under stress, to levitate.
"Is he from this Earth?"
"I don't know," Clark replied honestly.
"Can you take us to Superman? Right now?"
"Can you contact Superman?" the man clarified irritably.
"You mean by telephone, or --"
The man leaned over the desk, his eyes penetrating. "By any means possible. Telepathy, for example. Can you contact Superman?" he repeated impatiently, sounding out each word clearly.
"No," Clark finally answered, and the machine protested vehemently.
Just then one of the men entered the room and tersely reported, "Perimeter's been penetrated."
The leader gave one last hard stare at Clark, then began to organize the dismantling of the polygraph and a hasty retreat. He stopped, though, long enough to give Clark a penetrating stare. "You know, Mr. Kent, I really don't need a polygraph to tell me I'm being lied to, I can see it, in the eyes. We're not finished," he promised darkly.
Clark watched them go, relieved that it was over but worried about the next encounter he would have with that man. He had no doubt that there would be another. He had listened in to the questions they asked Lois, about Superman's mission on Earth and whether he had connections to a foreign power, and knew that whoever this man was, he was very suspicious of Superman's motives.
"Let's go!" the man shouted.
"What's going on with you people? I want an explanation for this!" Perry demanded futilely.
Cat Grant came up to him. "Chief, it is horrible the way they're treating us! See that agent over there? He frisked me, twice!" She pulled at her halter-top floral print jumpsuit indignantly.
"Weiderman? Let's get legal on this right away," Perry ordered.
"Lane, you and Kent type up your notes, give them to Valdez. She's going to be writing this."
"What do you mean our notes? This is my story!" Lois argued.
"Our story," Clark argued.
"Seniority!" she shot back.
"Right now you two are the story! And in case those goons come back here with a subpoena, I want you out of here ASAP. Whoa, hey, hey, hey, hey!" he hollered to the staff, still mingling around looking confused and gossiping. "Let's get back to it!"
"I guess I can work at home, then," Clark ventured.
"Home?" Perry repeated. "Anywhere but home! Don't go anywhere they can serve you! Wear your beepers, we'll be in touch!" He strode off, a busy and angry man who was going to get some answers.
Clark headed for his desk, but Cat Grant blocked his way. "Since you're now a man in hiding, I think this would be the perrrr-fect night to have dinner at my place," she suggested.
"You and me?"
"Unless you think we need a... chaperone," she teased.
He didn't really have anywhere else to go.
As soon as they arrived at Cat's apartment, she told him, "I'm going to change into something more... comfortable." She draped her ridiculous feather jacket on him and slunk off to her room.
Clark stood by the doorway, wondering if he should make a break for it. He decided he was being ridiculous, and tried to look comfortable and relaxed. He was about to lean against a small statue when he realized that it was of a naked man, and he grew even more uncomfortable with this situation. He quickly hung the feather jacket over the statue.
Cat flung open her closet doors. "Farm boy moves to the big city," she murmured to herself, taking out a slinky red dress and holding it to her body. "He's looking for a little piece o' home." She put it back and held up another item, a leopard print, but decided it was too risque and would scare him off. Just then she thought of the perfect outfit in which to seduce him! "That's just what he's going to get!"
Clark was looking over some of the titles on the bookshelf near the door and had selected one to peruse when Cat emerged from her bedroom. "I think a Pinot Noir would be nice," she suggested, making Clark jump a little. "I have one chilling."
She went to the refrigerator, and Clark slowly turned his head to take a look at her, worried that she would be clad in scanty lingerie. He was relieved to see her wearing faded jeans and a Metropolis University track team sweatshirt, her make-up removed and her hair brushed and held back by a head band. He breathed a sigh of relief. She wasn't going to try to paw him! "You've got quite a library," he said conversationally, putting away the book he'd chosen.
She made a face at the surprise in his voice. "I do read!"
"I know you do," he said apologetically. "Maybe your place is just different than I expected," he tried to explain as she poured them each a drink of wine.
"Well, you haven't seen the bedroom," she told him meaningfully as she handed him his glass. He pulled a face, looking almost pained, as he opened his mouth to object, and she grinned at him. "Oh Clark, relax! I may never even show it to ya!"
He felt relieved again, and realized that he had come to expect everything Cat said to be sexual. It wasn't really fair to her. He clinked his glass against hers. "You're full of surprises."
"You have no idea," she assured him, knowing that her words had disarmed him, amused that he hadn't realized she was only ruling out one possible location, not the activity.
* * *
Lois entered her apartment. "I'm not here, I'm not staying," she announced to her sister Lucy without preamble as she rushed across the living room and began frantically grabbing items she might need and dropping them into her bag. "If anybody calls, tell them I was never here. Don't even admit that I live here!" She darted to the other side of the room, keeping up a steady stream of instructions. "If someone knocks at the door, don't open it unless you're sure you know who it is. Don't sign anything, don't accept any deliveries. I don't know where I'm going. Don't call me, I'll call you. You got all this?"
Lucy hopped up on the kitchen counter. "It's a man thing, right?" she teased, as Lois grabbed a carton of ice-cream for a much-needed taste of chocolate, scooped out on her finger. Just then the phone rang, and Lois jumped. "Lois, chill, you're not here, you don't exist, I don't know you, we never met." She picked up the phone. "Hello?" She listened while Lois quickly looked through the stack of mail for anything important, putting envelopes in her mouth as she flipped through the pile. "It's some southern guy with a real attitude," Lucy said, holding out the receiver towards her sister. "He says turn on your beeper or you're fired."
Lois took the phone and, her mail still clenched between her teeth, said, "Hi Perry."
* * *
Clark and Cat were sitting on the loveseat having grapes with their wine. Clark edged a little further away, just to be safe, and tried to keep the conversation on neutral topics. "So, what made you get into the gossip business?"
"Oh Clark, we're all in the gossip business." She turned to sit cross-legged, facing him, getting a little closer.
"Yeah," he began, and was interrupted when she popped a grape into his mouth. "But you get paid for it."
"I get the best stuff. You wouldn't believe some of the secrets people carry around with them." She edged even closer and ran her fingertips over his knee. He stared at her hand in alarm. "You have any secrets, Clark?"
He was saved from answering when his beeper went off. He jumped up so quickly that he startled her. "Must be the office, may I?" he asked, his relief evident. Disappointed, she pointed to the phone. "Thanks." As he dialed the office Cat mischievously took the remote control for her stereo, which had been playing quiet music in the background. Just as Clark was connected it changed to dramatic, wild bongo drums. "This is Kent."
"Kent, there's been a new development," Perry said. "I'm sending Jimmy with the van to pick you up."
"I'll grab a taxi," Clark said quickly.
"Where are you anyway? My God, it sounds like jungle drums!"
"Just a sec," Clark requested, turning to Cat to ask her to turn it off.
On the other end of the line, Lois took the phone from Perry to hear for herself. Cat, meanwhile, grabbed the phone from Clark.
"Clark, quit playing games! Where are you?" Lois demanded furiously.
"Lois, Clark is busy right now. Um, why don't you give him a few minutes to freshen up first?"
Clark sighed as Cat gave him a wicked grin. She just loved shocking Lois Lane!
* * *
Lois was sitting alone in one of the conference rooms when Clark got to the Daily Planet. He saw her through the glass panes on the door. She looked up and gave him a cool stare, and he sighed, wondering how to undo the damage Cat had done with her little joke.
"Well, look what the Cat dragged in," was her humorless greeting when he entered.
"You've got the wrong idea, Lois," he tried.
"Cat Grant's bedroom has more comings and goings than Metro Station. You're just another commuter," she told him, trying to act disinterested.
He gave up. "Just tell me what's going on."
"What's going on is, the warrant's phony."
"Phony as a lock of Elvis's hair from a Memphis souvenir shop," Perry elucidated as he entered. "Look at this, our lawyers contacted the Justice Department, FBI, State, CIA... heck, they even called the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms people. Nada."
"Nobody in Washington wants to claim those boys."
"So who are they?" Clark asked.
"All we know is, they think their job is to hunt down Superman," Lois said.
"Which makes it your job, boys and girls, to hunt them down first," Perry told them.
Lois nodded, her mind already working on the problem of sources to contact, but Clark wasn't thinking about his job at that moment. Why were these people after him? What did they know? What did they want? And what lengths would they go to in their search?
* * *
The next day, Clark read the printout of the story Lois was writing about their experience. "See, that should read 'a spokesperson for the FBI'," he corrected.
"Your second paragraph, you have it saying that 'The FBI says it has no existing operations concerning Superman.' The FBI isn't a person, it can't speak."
"Clark, that's why we have editors," she said icily.
"Morning Lois," Cat greeted cheerfully as she sashayed into the newsroom wearing a leopard print jacket. Her voice then dropped to a sensuous purr. "Clarrrrrk!" She kissed his cheek with an intimate caress before going to her desk. "Sleep tight? I did." With a wicked smile she blew him a kiss, eased the jacket off her shoulders, and then sank down out of sight behind the partition. Lois stared at Clark.
"Nothing happened," he told her, frustrated by the impression Cat was deliberately giving.
"Clark, you can do the horizontal rhumba with the entire Met Net cheerleading squad for all I care, just keep your hands off my copy." She snatched the pages out of his hands.
"Hey, CK!" Jimmy greeted. "It is all over the newsroom, you and the Catwoman." He held up one hand for each of them, and then brought his two palms together with a grin. Lois rolled her eyes and left her desk to find a file, so Jimmy sat down in her vacated chair. "I didn't think anybody could come up with anything as juicy as yesterday's raid, but you've done it."
"I haven't 'done' anything!" Clark repeated irritably.
"Hey, this is me you're talking to! I'm gonna need details! Specificity. The who, what, when, where, how, and why -- actually, I've got the who and why already figured out, but... I am really curious about the how!"
"To be honest," Jimmy continued, "I never thought about asking you for advice about women until now, but... I've been thinking about Lois's sister, and, uh... shhh, here she comes," he whispered as Lois returned to her desk. He got up. "Great piece of journalism there, CK," he said loudly, shaking Clark's hand ostentatiously. Clark squirmed uncomfortably as Lois glowered at what she thought she saw.
"Sorry to interrupt your male-bonding, but we have a break in the story," she said coolly.
* * *
Mr. Thompson slammed his briefcase shut angrily as he spoke into the phone. "I'll tell you why I'm in Metropolis. The director himself sent me here. To clean up the mess you started with that raid on the Daily Planet. No, I call the shots on Bureau 39, not you! Stand by," he barked when the intercom beeped. "Yes?" he asked his secretary. "Send them in." Into the phone he ordered, "No, you stay right where you are! I'm coming over there as soon as I bury this story with these reporters. You hear me Trask? Trask?!" But Trask had already hung up.
Lois and Clark came into his office. "Mr. Thompson? Lois Lane." She took note of his nice suit, his distinguished silver hair, and the air of sharp intelligence about his angular face.
"Clark Kent," Clark introduced. The reporters sat down facing the desk. "So you just flew in from Washington?"
"Bullet train. I'm not much for flying. You?"
Clark decided to shake his head negatively.
Lois took out her tape recorder, started it, and set it firmly down on the desk. "Who exactly do you work for?" she asked, diving right in.
"I'm a kind of government ombudsman, I go where the problems are. Right now my job is to get to the bottom of this incident at the Planet."
"Well, that's our job too," Lois said, taken a bit off balance by that. "What can you tell us?"
"Not much. The first step in our investigation process is to gather all eyewitness accounts."
"Your investigation? What about our investigation?" she asked.
"That's the other reason I'm here. Understand, we do not take it lightly when someone tries to pass himself off as an agent of the U.S. government. Can you give us a physical description of any of the people involved?"
While Lois conducted the interview, Clark glanced at the briefcase on the desk before them, wondering if he might get a chance to peek inside it.
"Let me get something straight," Lois said incredulously. "You're here to interview us?"
"Yes, and to advise you to stay out of harm's way. The person who did this is very danger-"
"Mr. Thompson, let me explain something to you, we do not need your protection. We came here because we thought you could help us find the man responsible for the raid."
Clark could tell that this interview wasn't going to help them learn anything, so he discreetly used his X-ray vision to peek inside Thompson's briefcase while the other two were busy talking. To his astonishment, the second folder was labeled "Smallville, Kansas, 1966." That was the year he had been born -- well, the year he had landed in Smallville. Why did Thompson have this folder, and what was in it?
"Do you have any clues? Any ideas at all?" Lois was asking.
"Let me ask you a question, Miss Lane. To the best of your knowledge, does Superman have any enemies?"
Lois snapped off her tape recorder and shoved it into her satchel. "Come on, Clark," she said, rising. "Let's go."
He hurriedly pushed his glasses back into place, upset that he hadn't had time to find out what was in the folder. "Go?"
"Well, it's obvious that Mr. Thompson doesn't know anything," she said witheringly. Clark had no choice but to follow her out.
"Ugh, nothing!" Lois said in disgust as they left the building.
Clark had been thinking about that folder, and knew he needed to get some answers. He just had to lose Lois first. "You know, Lois, I'm not feeling that great. Maybe I should just go home and take a nap or something."
"Oh, well, yeah. Sometimes you just have to put yourself above the story," Lois said, patting his back and sounding concerned for him.
"Well, I don't want to leave you out in the cold," he hesitated.
"Oh you're not!" she assured him quickly. "It's not like we're a team, anyway! Do you need a ride?"
"I'll walk, maybe the fresh air'll do me some good."
"Oh, well I'm just going to make a few phone calls," she said very casually.
"Well I'll meet you back at the paper," Clark suggested.
"Sure. Feel better."
It didn't occur to either of them that the other seemed only too happy to go off alone. They went their separate ways, Lois heading quickly for a phone booth and dialing the office. "Jimmy? Lois. I want you to pull everything on a George Thompson." Just then she saw Thompson getting into a blue sedan. She quickly hung up and hailed a taxi with a sharp whistle. As she was about to get in she heard a whoosh overhead as Superman flew by.
"Be careful up there," she said softly.
* * *
Thompson pulled up in front of a warehouse, slid a card through a slot, and went inside to confront Jason Trask, the leader of the illegal raid on the Daily Planet.
"My mission is to identify alien threats to the security of this country," Trask reminded him.
"Superman?" Thompson asked in disbelief. Trask's intensity worried him; the man was a fanatic, and fanatics were always dangerous.
"The advance guard. We don't resist him, they send in others. After all these years of waiting, now they're here."
"So what's your plan, you're going to capture Superman and then dissect him?"
"I don't want to study him, I want to kill him! Before he kills us."
"Trask, your reckless freelancing is jeopardizing the integrity of the entire Bureau 39 operation."
Trask's eyes narrowed. "You don't know anything about Bureau 39," he spat. "You sit there with the gutless paper-pushers in Washington. They're too stupid to know they're even in a war, let alone how to fight it!"
"That is just more of your insane paranoia!"
"Open your eyes. They're coming after us! Now a few people are going to die in the struggle, yes, but we either draw the line here or we capitulate, and I will never submit!"
Thompson recognized the uselessness of continuing the discussion; Trask was too convinced of his righteousness. He sighed, and brought out a piece of paper. "This orders you to turn over all command and control of your military assets to civilian authority... me!"
"You can't shut me down!"
"I can and I will. I have the authority," Thompson said smugly.
Trask accepted the orders and turned away, then spun around and backhanded Thompson violently across the face. "You have no authority," he said sharply, ripping the paper into tiny pieces.
"You're crazy!" Thompson whispered.
* * *
Martha Kent watched her son picking at the food on his plate, pushing it around with his fork. "You don't like vegetarian, do you," she said softly, hoping to draw him out.
"He's confused," her husband joked, trying to lighten the mood. "He probably doesn't know whether to plant it... or eat it."
Clark looked up, saw his parents gazing at him with concern, and finished his food super quick, cleaning his plate within seconds.
"Sure looks like he missed your cooking, though," Jonathan said to his wife with a smile.
Martha didn't smile back; she was too worried about her son's most unusual silence. "Clark, honey, you just inhaled that! Something's on your mind, isn't it."
Clark looked at them both, and sighed. He didn't want to alarm them, but perhaps they could help. "I want to hear everything you know about how you found me," Clark said. "Everything."
"It was May 17th, 1966," his father obliged. "We were driving past Simpson's Quarry just due west of the Elbow River."
"And we saw this thing in the sky. At first we thought it was one of those ICBM's," Martha told him.
"That ship came streaking across the sky in front of us. Ha! It was hard to ignore."
"And we found you and took you home. Your eyes were so big, and so wide," his mom recalled with a loving smile. "And that little diaper thing that they had you in made you look so cute!"
"Martha, Martha!" Jonathan protested, knowing that Clark wasn't asking for that kind of detail. "A few days later some men showed up around town asking questions."
"What kind of men?" Clark asked quickly.
"They said they were from the space program, and that they thought that some debris had come down from some kind of Russian satellite, and they wanted to know if we'd seen anything," his mother said.
"So what'd you tell them?" Clark asked.
"Not a thing," Jonathan said quietly.
"There was something about them, they were scary," Martha added.
"So, is that what you guys think I am? A Russian experiment?" Clark asked, his eyes wide.
His mom cried out, "Oh honey! We don't care if you're a Russian or a Martian! You were ours, that's all we knew! We weren't giving you away to anybody! And that's why your father went back there, to where we found you."
"We figured we'd better destroy that spaceship so nobody would ever have any evidence of how you got here. I planned to burn it good," he said, thinking back to that night, more than twenty five years ago. "Haul it to the dump and get rid of it."
"Dad, it's okay," Clark reassured him, seeing an uneasiness in his father's eyes. "Destroying it was probably the right thing to do."
"Yeah, it probably was. But I didn't."
"Jonathan!" his wife exclaimed, hearing this for the first time. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I couldn't, Martha. It was a part of you, son, and I just couldn't do it."
They stared at each other, the question unspoken. They had to go and find out if it was still there.
Once they arrived at the field, Jonathan quickly oriented himself. "Eight paces due south," he recalled as he counted them off. "Through the two trees... twenty eight paces due east."
"Are you sure this is the right place?" Martha asked.
"That wagon wheel is still there, isn't it? Hasn't moved in twenty five years." He continued pacing off the distance.
Martha went over to where Clark stood leaning against a tree and slipped her arms around him reassuringly. He had been very quiet on the drive out here. "Son, are you all right? I know this must be hard for you!"
"What's hard, Mom, is not knowing." He looked down at her. "Mom, you and Dad, you're my parents, you know that. No one will ever replace you."
She gave him a squeeze. "We know that, Clark. But you wouldn't be human if you didn't have some questions!"
"Mom, what if I'm not human?"
She looked troubled. "Maybe we shouldn't have told you you were adopted."
"That would've been tough after I started bench-pressing cars, though," he said, making her smile and hug him again.
"Six feet down," Jonathan ended, pointing to the ground at his feet. Martha and Clark came over to stand with him.
"Right here?" Clark asked.
"Right there," Jonathan confirmed.
"You guys should stand back," Clark advised, and when his parents were a few feet away he took a deep breath and began to spin very fast, tunneling down into the ground. "You sure about this, Dad?" his voice came up to them.
"A hundred percent. Right there," his father said positively.
Clark floated up out of the hole he'd made and shook clumps of dirt out of his hair and from his clothes.
"You don't forget something like this," his father said with certainty. "It was here."
"Not anymore," Clark said heavily.
* * *
The next morning at work, Clark sat hunched over a screen, checking through the microfilm of newspapers from 1966 to see if he could learn something about the government men who had been in Smallville after his ship landed. He closely examined a photo of a group of men under a headline about UFO sightings, looking around surreptitiously before lowering his glasses and using his special vision to zoom in on the one in the middle. He was identified as Jason Trask, and Clark was sure it was the leader of the raid on the Daily Planet; years younger, but with the same cold, steely eyes.
"Feeling better?" Lois asked, surprising him as she sat down on the chair next to him.
He pushed his glasses back in place hurriedly. "Better? Oh! Sure. How'd it go yesterday?"
"Well, I tailed our man Thompson to a furniture warehouse on Bessolo Boulevard. Definitely weird... but he works for the government," she finished with a shrug. "What'd you dig up?" She looked at the screen.
"Nothing." Clark said quickly.
Lois looked at the screen with a frown. "Project Bluebook?" she read. "Clark, the Air Force got out of the UFO business in 1969. This is old news. Way old."
"Yeah, you're right," he agreed quickly, for his search had nothing to do with the raid on the Daily Planet. "It was just a hunch, it didn't pan out." He moved to turn it off, afraid that she would ask questions.
Lois halted him. "Just a hunch?" she asked, taking a good look at the man who had interested Clark a few moments earlier. "That airman in the middle, he's the piece of work that raided the Planet, isn't he?"
Clark looked sideways at her. Lois Lane didn't miss a trick, did she! "Uh, maybe," he offered, pretending to take another look. "I don't know, my eyes aren't so good." Inwardly he was groaning. He didn't want Lois to wonder why he was checking out UFO sightings from 1966.
"Well I have perfect vision. Superman does not see like I do," she boasted. "Jason Trask, that's our man. Almost missed that one, rookie!" She patted his chest condescendingly before going off to find Perry.
Clark held a smile plastered on his face until she'd gone, then sighed. Jason Trask, once a part of a UFO hunt for the government, was now after Superman. He followed Lois, hoping that he would soon learn why.
"We know Trask was in the Air Force, right?" Perry asked when they briefed him.
"No military service record, he disappeared in thin air in 1969," Clark told him.
"All right, keep looking."
"I've got just the place," Lois announced. "The other guy in the photo, General Burton Newcombe? He's retired. Lives in Metropolis."
"Well what are you waiting for? Get going!"
Clark went to get some things from his desk, and found Cat Grant in his seat, clad in a skin-tight, shockingly bright neon dress. "You wanted to talk?" she asked him in her customary low voice.
"I can't now, but... Look, somehow everybody thinks that we were hanging from the chandeliers wearing black leather the other night."
"Hmm, well, we were interrupted," she said mischievously.
"I have to go, but I would appreciate it if you'd put a stop to this."
"And ruin my reputation?" she purred, caressing his face and blowing him a kiss.
Perry saw the two talking in low voices and felt he just had to intervene. He had seen Cat sink her claws into other unsuspecting employees, and it seemed to him that Kent just didn't know how to protect himself. "Uh, Kent," he called. "Could I see you in my office please?"
Clark excused himself, relieved, and went into the editor's office, closing the door behind him.
Perry wasted no time. "Kent, did you ever hear of Anita Wood?"
"I guess I haven't," Clark finally confessed, wondering what Anita Wood had to do with the raid on the Daily Planet.
"Memphis deejay," Perry explained. "Beautiful girl, won a beauty contest. Did you know she and Elvis almost got married?"
Another Elvis story. "I missed that."
"Oh yeah! Right after he was drafted, 1958. He and Anita were talking marriage. But Colonel Parker knew it would hurt Elvis's career, so he put a stop to it. Now if the colonel hadn't gotten wind of it, Elvis might not be the King!" Perry looked at him meaningfully. "Do you understand what I'm saying here?"
"She was the wrong girl for him," Clark offered.
"Fools rush in, son," Perry corrected. "Fools rush in."
"Chief, I think people have the wrong idea," Clark said.
"Really?" His tone clearly expressed his disbelief.
"Well it's definitely not what you're thinking."
"What I'm thinking is that when it comes to women, if you want to be the King, you'd better listen to the colonel."
"Thank you," Clark said at length, recognizing that Perry was only trying to help. "I'll remember that... Colonel." Perry grinned at him, pleased that he'd made his point.
Just then Lois burst in without knocking, as she was wont to do. "It's Thompson."
"The guy you lost on the tail?" the Chief asked.
"They found him," she said curtly. "Metropolis Harbor. Coroner's got him."
* * *
Retired General Burton Newcombe cracked walnuts and munched on them as Lois and Clark sat down on the other side of his desk. Taking out her miniature tape recorder and setting it on the desk, Lois began the interview. "Yesterday a man named George Thompson came to Metropolis. Today he's dead."
Clark looked closely at old man, hoping he would find some answers here.
"That's regrettable," Newcombe said gruffly, his sharp eyes showing no reaction. "But what does that have to do with me?"
Lois pulled out the picture from the 1966 newspaper article. "Well he was investigating your old friend, Jason Trask."
The retired general looked at the photo, his face carefully blank. "Have either of you ever had to keep a secret?" he asked suddenly. "A huge secret?"
"Sure," Clark responded, nodding.
"Like what?" Lois asked her co-worker in surprise.
"Well, I'm a reporter, you know, protecting sources and stuff," he explained lamely. She rolled her eyes.
"Keeping a secret eats away at you, just a nibble at a time, but it adds up." Newcombe picked up Lois's small tape recorder, turning it over in his hands. Lois opened her mouth to intervene, but Clark cautioned her with a hand to keep quiet and hear the man out. "And one day you wake up and you realize that it has consumed everything inside you." He slowly removed the tiny cassette. "See, we were just a small group when we started, but we all took a very special oath, the same day, August the second, 1947." With a quick movement, he used the nutcracker on the cassette, destroying it. Lois looked pained. "I was just about your age," he added, as though marveling at the thought.
"You didn't take an oath to protect people like Trask, did you?" Lois challenged.
"You don't need me to find Trask. He's probably hiding in plain sight."
"Like a furniture warehouse on Bessolo Boulevard?" she prodded.
There was a long silence while the man regarded her, sizing her up and making a decision. "Getting to him, though, that's another matter," he suddenly continued, as though she hadn't spoken at all. He took out a set of keys and unlocked a desk drawer, searching inside. "A man like Trask would no doubt be protected by some impenetrable security system." He took out a gold and black key card with "3-9" on it.
"Every system has a flaw," Lois said confidently. She had gotten very good at breaking and entering.
"No, not this one. I designed it myself." He turned the card over in his hands, still debating his course of action, torn between upholding an oath and doing what he knew in his heart was right. "You'd need someone on the inside, or someone who'd been on the inside, to help you out. Now assuming you found such a person, you could only hope that that person found a man like Trask to be so repugnant, his methods so un-American, that he would in fact choose to help you." He set the card on the edge of the desk before them. "That's a tall order." He turned away, opened a cabinet, and took out a handgun. "I'm going to count to three, and when I turn around I expect you to be gone. One..."
Lois and Clark wasted precious time staring at each other in disbelief.
Lois hurriedly snatched up the key card and her tape recorder.
They fled the office.
* * *
Lois ran the key card through the slot of the alarm system outside the furniture warehouse she had followed George Thompson to, and it obligingly disengaged. "Well that was hard," she said with a triumphant grin as she entered. The heavy door clanged shut behind them. Lois tried to open it, but it had locked. On the opposite side of the room a combination-style alarm system began to beep, with a timer counting down from thirty-nine seconds.
"I think they've added this since the general's day, hmm?" Clark said as he crossed over to it. He put his ear against it and began turning the dial. His enhanced hearing could easily detect the clicking of the tumblers.
"This is no time to get smug," she responded grumpily. "Don't tell me, safe cracker?" she asked sarcastically.
He ignored that, listening carefully as he turned the dial, and Lois was astonished when the beeping stopped with seven seconds remaining. "The general said August second, 1947. Eight right, two left, forty-seven right," he explained quickly, hoping she would buy that explanation.
"You are so weird!" she marveled, and she patted his arm as she walked past him. "Works for you, though." She led the way into the interior of the warehouse, which was crowded with filing cabinets, high shelves filled with assorted items, and a variety of large tarps covering who knew what.
"I don't know about this, Lois, where is everybody?" Clark wondered quietly as they looked around.
"The thing about luck is you don't question it," she told him. Opening a filing cabinet drawer, she picked out something at random. It was apparently a picture of a UFO, and she laughed derisively. "Give me a break, I've seen this movie!" She put it away.
Clark was looking at some more pictures of spacecraft. Could he have come to earth in one of these? "I don't know, Lois, these look real."
"Oh they're too good, it's gotta be a set-up," she said cynically.
"Well, what if it's not? What if people really traveled in these things? People from far away."
"Well, there might be a story here, Clark, but I don't think it's UFO's."
"I thought you were the one who said, 'If it looks like a duck...'" His voice trailed off as he found a cabinet of folders, one of them labeled "Smallville, Kansas, 1966." It was the folder he had seen in George Thompson's briefcase!
"Do not quote me to myself, Clark," Lois said irritably. "How did you know that I said that, anyway?"
He quickly put the folder back and slammed the cabinet drawer shut as she came over to join him, and rather abruptly escorted her away from the drawer, not wanting her to see the folder.
"What're you doing?"
"Well, you don't like their pictures. Let's see what else they have."
"I suppose you think I'm going to lift up one of these tarps and find a UFO," she mocked.
"I don't know what we're going to find," he answered seriously.
Lois sighed and selected a tarp by a tried-and-true method. "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe." She took a peek underneath a bit hesitantly, and then rolled her eyes. "This is just an unidentified salvage yard."
"This doesn't look like any scrap metal I've ever seen before."
"Clark, do you really think this could..." She gave up with a sigh. Let him think what he wanted to! She wandered off, poking around.
Clark wasn't paying attention to Lois, he was drawn to one of the tarps. He had the strangest feeling inside, compelling him to go over to it. He lifted the heavy cover off and with one hand brushed away the thick coat of dust on the metal shape underneath. Cryptic markings, perhaps an alien race's writing, led towards the front of the small ship, where he discovered a symbol as familiar to him now as his own reflection. The same insignia that his mother had sewn onto his Superman costumes, the one that she had found with him when he was a baby. It was engraved into the nose of the tiny spaceship, large enough to carry one small infant.
He had found his ship.
There was a bag with it, from which he slowly withdrew a small orb. It looked like a globe of the Earth, small enough to fit almost covered in his two hands. When he touched it, it began to pulse and thrum, coming to life with the contact. It glowed softly, and the features of its surface began to change. The muted greens and blues of Earth were replaced with a fiery red.
"Krypton," Clark said reverently, as the name of his birthplace suddenly entered his mind as though it had been spoken.
"Clark!" Lois hissed urgently, coming towards him. "Somebody's coming!"
He quickly slipped the globe into his pocket.
"Now how did you two manage to get in here?" Jason Trask asked coolly as he and his men, machine guns held ready, approached the two.
"That's your problem," Lois told him, undaunted.
"That's correct. Getting out, however, is yours." Trask was obviously enjoying his position.
"Hey, people know we're here," Clark warned, hoping to keep things from getting out of hand. He moved protectively to stand in front of Lois.
"Like, Superman!" Lois suggested, feeling smug. She moved confidently in front of Clark. "He's going to come looking for us."
"Oh I do hope so," Trask said pleasantly, but the look in his eyes was dark and menacing. "In fact, I'm counting on it."
Lois and Clark exchanged worried looks. They were afraid to ask what he meant by that.
* * *
Lucy Lane was halfway through her strenuous aerobics workout, copying the moves of the instructor on the videotape with the music at full blast, when she heard a knock on the door. Jogging in place so as not to lose her momentum, she opened the door to an unassuming young man.
"Hi, I'm Jimmy," he shouted over the din.
"I'm Jimmy... Jimmy Olsen from the Planet?" He took out his Press ID and showed it to her.
Still jogging, she waved him in, and he closed the door behind him. "I don't think you can get the full effect unless you hear the music at a cellular level," she explained as she lowered the volume. "Now, who are you again?" she asked, still jogging in place.
"Jimmy Olsen.... I thought Lois might have mentioned me," he added a bit dejectedly.
"Jimmy," she repeated. "I don't think so. I'd remember a guy named Jimmy."
"Well, you know, I was thinking about going with James."
"Did you come here to ask my opinion about your name?" she asked.
"No. No, it's your sister. She hasn't checked in and she doesn't answer her pager. Do you know where she is?"
"Nope," Lucy replied, unconcerned. "She made a big deal the other day about making herself scarce."
"Well, she can usually take care of herself."
"Yeah, I'm sure she's okay."
He paused, on the verge of leaving, and gathered his courage together. "You wanna maybe go out sometime, catch a movie or something?" he asked in a rush, his voice cracking slightly at first from nervousness.
"Wait a minute. You come over here with this big story about how maybe my sister's in trouble, and then you ask me out, is that right?" Lucy stopped jogging to get a better look at him.
"Yeah, that's pretty much it," he replied sheepishly.
"Okay," she accepted with a grin.
* * *
"Climbing to ten thousand, leveling off at zero, seven, zero, mark three," the pilot said into his headphones.
Lois and Clark were seated near the rear of the small plane, which was devoid of the standard passenger accommodations. Trask and his men were for the most part busy with their plans, leaving the two alone. Lois had spent some time wondering just why Trask hoped Superman would come to save the two reporters, and didn't like any of the possibilities she had come up with. At length her mind had drifted in other directions, and the grimness of their situation had begun to weigh rather heavily on her.
"It's a romance novel," she suddenly told Clark morosely, staring off into nothingness.
"My novel. It's about a woman that dies without ever finding her true love." There was a mournful note to her voice.
"That's not going to happen to you, Lois," Clark assured her, instinctively knowing that the story she was writing was based on her own feelings.
"Oh yeah? Check it out, Clark, those guys look serious." He recognized the truth in that. The men were wearing fatigues and carrying guns. "Okay, I told you, now you tell me," she demanded.
"Tell you what?" he asked, marveling at her out-of-the-blue questions and comments.
"What really happened between you and Cat the other night. Not that I care," she added quickly. "It's just probably the best secret you've got going. If we get out of this, you have got to raise your standards," she told him.
Clark opened his mouth to object, to set the record straight, but Trask interrupted the moment. "I assume the two of you are familiar with the scientific method?"
"Advance a theory, submit it to a test," Clark obliged warily.
"My theory is that at least one of you knows how to contact this alien creature Superman. Probably by some form of telepathic communication."
"Well how do you plan to test it?" Lois spoke up.
"If you suddenly became airborne at, say, twenty thousand feet, without a parachute, I assume you will focus all your energies on contacting Superman."
"And what if this theory of yours is wrong?" Clark asked.
"Pushing back the frontiers of science is not without risk," Trask said lightly. At a gesture, one of his men yanked open the door on the side of the plane, letting in a blast of howling wind.
"And what happens if Superman does show up?" Lois asked desperately over the noise.
"Does the worm need to know whether the fish is going to be fried or char-broiled?" Trask asked with a laugh. He gestured, and two of his men grabbed Lois.
"Wait, wait!" Clark protested frantically. "Leave Lois! Take me!"
"No! It's okay, I'll go!" she shouted.
"Lois, you don't understand!" he argued.
She ignored him, turning to Trask. "I think I'm entitled to one last request."
"Within reason," he grudgingly allowed.
"I want to kiss Clark good-bye," she said, turning to her fellow reporter.
He looked at her in astonishment. Her eyes were wide with fear, but she was too brave to cower. For a moment the seriousness of the situation they were in was forgotten, as she moved closer to him and he gazed into her eyes. He had thought -- well, he had hoped -- that her brusque nature and caustic words had hidden a secret attraction to him, that she also felt the unnameable connection that drew him towards her. When she had told him about her experience with Claude, the reporter who had stolen her story and abused her trust in him -- perhaps her trust in all men -- he'd realized that she had built up barriers around her heart to protect herself, to prevent people from getting close to her. She was afraid of being vulnerable, but it looked as though now, facing possible death, she had the courage to open herself to him.
Her lips touched his, full and soft and sweeter than he had imagined, and her gentle hands cupped his face. It was like being lifted away from all earthly concerns into a world filled only with the smell of her perfume, the feel of her fingers sliding around his neck into his hair to pull him closer, the taste of her on his lips. He was no longer aware of the plane, of Trask, of danger. Lois Lane filled his senses and his being. He slipped a hand to the back of her head, in her silky, wind-blown hair, losing himself in the sensations flooding his body.
She ended the kiss and moved her lips over to his ear, whispering, "You take the one on the left."
The unexpected words didn't quite sink in until Lois launched herself at Jason Trask with a total disregard for the fact that he was well armed and trained in fighting. She sent him reeling with a vicious right cross. Quickly, Clark followed her plan, but the odds against them were too heavy. Lois was overpowered by other men.
One of the men was about to shoot at her, but Trask stopped him. "No, she's mine!" he shouted, not wanting to lose his bait.
The man instead turned his aim towards Clark and shot.
"No!" Lois cried out, horrified. Clark looked down at himself, astonished. Trask wasted no time, shoving Lois out of the plane. "Clark!" she shrieked as she fell.
"Lois!" He panicked, not knowing what to do, and the only thing he could think of was to jump out after her. "Lois!" he called as he fell, trying to spot her.
"Superman, if you can hear me, drop what you're doing and get over here now!" Lois was shouting at the top of her voice, feeling the whipping wind created by her descent. "Superman help!" she wailed.
* * *
"Tracking, we've got both of them," the radar operator reported.
"The guy's hurt," one of the men said. "I shot him."
Another man located the flattened bullet on the floor and showed it to him. "Guess again."
Trask took the flat piece of lead. "No trace of blood."
"I shot him," the first man insisted, not understanding. "I saw it."
"You missed." Trask tossed the bullet to him, and he stared at it uncomprehendingly. He knew it was impossible, but what else could explain it?
* * *
"Superman help!" Lois screamed, not willing to accept that it was highly unlikely that he would hear her.
Clark tore off his regular clothes in mid-air, glad he had the costume on underneath, and then started scanning the sky for Lois.
* * *
"Target acquisition," the man at the radar reported to his leader. "Zero, niner, five."
"Execute," Trask commanded shortly, a fanatical gleam in his eyes.
"Missile lock in three... two... one... executing." He pressed a button, and a missile shot away from the wing of the plane.
* * *
"Superman, Superman, Superman," Lois repeated urgently, fingers on her temples as she tried desperately to transmit her thoughts telepathically, although she had no idea how such a thing would be done. Deciding it was ridiculous, she resorted to screaming again.
Suddenly there was a jolt, and her descent changed into flight.
"You really do read minds!" was the first thing that came out of her mouth, as she put her arms around Superman's strong neck for reassurance.
"Not really," Clark said, with an amused smile that made her melt. "But I do have good hearing."
She breathed a sigh of relief, and then suddenly remembered the struggle that had occurred in the plane, the man who had aimed at Clark and fired. "Clark, they still have him, he may be hurt!" she cried out urgently.
"Don't worry, I'll go back for him." He made a gentle landing, setting Lois on her feet carefully. "You'll be all right?" She wasn't looking at him now, her gaze focused somewhere over his shoulder and her face a mask of fear. "Lois?" She mutely pointed.
He turned and saw a missile coming towards him. With a glance to make sure that Lois wasn't going to collapse, he quickly flew up and away from her to face the missile.
Jimmy, coming out of the Daily Planet, heard a whoosh. He looked up, shielding his eyes, and saw a red and blue figure above. "Superman!" he said in awe.
* * *
"Impact in three... two..."
* * *
The missile honed in on Clark. He told himself to think of it as a football. He caught it with a deft twist of his body, quickly turned it around, and gave it a hard throw. A millisecond later it exploded in a massive burst that knocked him backwards, tumbling head over heels through the sky.
Lois watched in horror, and tears filled her eyes.
On the plane's radar screen, both the missile and the target disappeared. "Let's get out of here," Trask said briskly.
* * *
Lois wandered into the newsroom in a daze, not really seeing her surroundings. One shoe was missing, her hair was windblown, and her jacket was hanging off her shoulder. She had seen Superman fly up, and then the explosion. What had happened? Surely even Superman couldn't have withstood that! Could her hero still be alive? She had no way of contacting him, no way of knowing.
"Lois!" Perry exclaimed. "Lois, what happened?"
Still in shock after the explosion that seemed to have injured -- or maybe even killed -- Superman, Lois answered in a detached manner, "Before or after we were thrown out of the plane?"
"Airplane?" Perry repeated, stunned.
Realizing that the Daily Planet might have heard some news about the midair explosion, she latched onto Perry in desperate hope. "Superman, is he all right?"
"Well, we don't know, we're trying to track down some witnesses. Now do you know what happened to --"
"Clark!" Lois cried out as she saw him get out of the elevator. She ran to him. "Oh you're alive!" She flung herself into his arms in relief, stroking his hair as if to reassure herself that he really and truly was standing there.
"Seems so," he said with a chuckle, thrilled by her display of affection and concern for him. Perhaps her trick in the plane hadn't been just a ruse! She certainly seemed overjoyed at his safety.
"Hey everybody, Clark's alive!" Lois called out, beaming and hanging on him. Her energy had returned, and her eyes positively danced with happiness. "And if Clark's alive, that means Superman's alive! Ooooh! This story's getting bigger every second! What're we waiting for?" She pranced over to her desk to start writing the amazing story.
Clark stood stock still, his joy evaporating. He had been mistaken. She was so dazzled by the heroic figure who had rescued her that it was no surprise she could hardly see the man standing before her. For one brief moment he regretted having created a costume, having flown Lois in his arms into the newsroom. Then he let out a sigh. He'd make her see him, if it took the rest of his life.
* * *
"All right, move in!"
The SWAT team swept into the warehouse on Bessolo Boulevard with precision, weapons ready for whatever might await them, spreading out. "All clear!" one reported.
Lois and Clark were allowed in, with Jimmy to take pictures of all the spaceships they had found, and Perry to witness the amazing contents of the building. They stopped abruptly.
Everything had gone.
"It was all here, Perry," Lois said desperately as they looked around the huge, empty warehouse. "Tell him!" she urged Clark.
"UFOs, unidentified flying objects, only they were all identified. Bagged, tagged, processed, right here!" she insisted.
"UFOs?" Perry asked gently.
"Yes! Don't you see? It's a cover-up, big time, that's what's going on!"
"Okay," Perry agreed, trying to calm her.
"This story could be bigger than Superman," Clark added.
"What we have got here is Cosmic Watergate, Perry," Lois announced determinedly. "I'm going to get back and start writing this right now."
"Oh, now just hold on," Perry stopped her. "Now look, this is where I've gotta get off this bus you're driving."
"We know what we saw," Lois said hotly.
"Now you two are the best. You tell me something, I believe you. I can't let you write it, though."
"Well sure you can! Clark and I can corroborate each other!"
"Not when you're talking UFOs! Lois, your physical evidence is gone, Trask is missing, Thompson's dead, General Newcombe says he never even heard of you. We print this, we're going to look like the National Whisper. You two could kiss your careers good-bye, and take the paper along with you. I just can't let that happen." He said it with compassion, for he believed in Lois, but he knew his job. "Sorry."
"I believe you," Jimmy assured them before following his boss back outside, but it didn't cheer either of them up.
"Lois..." Clark stopped. He didn't know what he could say to lift the gloomy expression from her face.
"Do you realize what we have lost here, Clark?" she asked him, feeling frustrated and angry and terribly disappointed. It had been a story of a lifetime, the kind of story that led to world acclaim, Pulitzers, contracts for novels... her ticket to wherever she wanted to go in life.
Clark looked around the empty warehouse, remembering the feel of the special emblem under his fingers, the hope of answers to some questions that had plagued him all his life. He still had the globe, but the ship itself, and anything inside of it, was gone. What good was a map of his home planet without any other information about it, about his people... about him! The spaceship that had brought him to Earth was one of the only ties that bound him to a planet and a people he couldn't remember, and that he now had so many questions about. It had been within his grasp, and now it was gone.
Would he ever find it again? Did it hold any answers for him? Or only clues to a mystery? Would he ever know why he had been sent into space when only a helpless baby? Would he ever know what the planet Krypton was like? Were there others like him somewhere on Earth, or was he truly alone?
Would he ever know?
Did he realize what they had lost here? His voice was forlorn as he answered Lois's rhetorical question. "Yeah, I do."
* * *
Lois had her feet up on her desk. It was so late that she was alone in the newsroom, for she had been working tirelessly on her story. Sources had been avoiding her questions, no one had any official statement for her, and her contacts had thus far been unhelpful. Her thoughts had wandered to Superman. How had he heard her cries for help? Where had he been? Where was he now? The bomb on board the Messenger, the explosion in the Carlin Building, and the missile had all been unable to hurt him... Was he invulnerable to everything?
How did he get here? Where was he from? When would she see him again? Would he come to her rescue whenever she needed him? There were so many questions, and yet it didn't seem that she was going to get any answers from him. He appeared from nowhere, saved her life, and then flew off again.
She tossed chocolate malt balls into the air, trying to catch them in her mouth, as she pondered these mysteries. Just as she finally caught one, a bright figure appeared by her desk.
"I hear you've been looking for me."
That deep, assured voice startled her. "All my life," she murmured in response to his statement, and abruptly hoped he hadn't heard that. She lowered her feet from her desk, a bit embarrassed that he had caught her tossing candies into her mouth. "Everybody's looking for you," she said with a smile.
"I know, and I know that you almost died because of that," Clark said seriously, the concern he felt evident in his voice.
"Well it did make that bungee jump I did last year seem pretty tame," she said, trying to make light of the situation, hoping to reassure him that he wasn't to blame.
"I'm going to find that man and stop him. That's a promise, Lois."
A thrilled smile slowly crept over her face, lighting her eyes. "You know my name." She looked him straight in the eyes. "But I don't know yours."
"Superman seems to have caught on," was his evasive answer to her unspoken question. He was disconcerted by the softness of her features, the engaging smiles she was giving him, and the sight of her leaning back in her chair to catch malt chocolate balls in her mouth. This was such a different side to Lois, a side she had never shown him when he was working with her.
She grinned, a little self-consciously, for it had been her moniker and he was adopting it. "Where are you from?" she asked, taking advantage of his seeming willingness to talk. "I mean, you're not from Kansas, that's for sure," she joked.
Clark smiled. Little did she know! "I'm from another planet. A place called Krypton." He said it proudly, letting the name of his home world roll of his tongue. For the first time in his life he knew the answer to that question, and it gave him a sense of inner peace, of having roots. He had asked himself that very question since his powers first began to manifest themselves; it felt reassuring to know the answer to that, at least.
"Do you mind if I write some of this down?" she suddenly asked.
She quickly got out a notebook. "Um... You seem, uh, to have all the... parts of a man," she said awkwardly, giggling in embarrassment as she glanced at his strong physique.
Clark was delighted that she was flirting with him, and he responded instinctively to her. "Oh I am a man, Lois. Just like you're a woman."
She flushed, thrilled that Superman was actually flirting with her! "I'm really glad you're here," she said, trying to remain a journalist, "but, um, why are you here?"
"To help," Clark pronounced, having created the Superman costume and persona for that exact purpose. He was glad that Lois was turning this into an interview. He realized that Trask was probably not the only person to harbor fears and suspicions about Superman's intentions, and he wanted to reassure the general populace that he had only good motives.
"To help?" Lois repeated uncertainly. She could just imagine Perry's southern accent deepening, laden with sarcasm, as he gave her his opinion of such an inadequate statement in no uncertain terms -- replete, no doubt, with a long speech about one of Elvis's famous quotes. "I need a little bit more of a quote than that," she explained to the superhero standing patiently before her. "Something like, 'I have not yet begun to fight!' or 'Damn the torpedoes!', something like that. I mean, if you said 'I am here to fight for truth!' or 'justice'..."
"Well truth, and justice, that sounds good," he agreed after a moment's thought. "You can use that."
She flashed him a brilliant smile and scribbled it down.
In the distance Clark heard a woman's voice crying, "Help!"
Lois saw him tilt his head to one side, listening to something although there was nothing she could hear. "What is it?" she asked him.
"Someone's in trouble."
"This is a job for Superman, right?" she suggested with a smile.
Clark knew it was foolish to treat her in a special way, that if she harbored romantic fantasies about the superhero she wouldn't spare a glance for the regular guy she worked with... but he was powerless to stop himself. "I'll be seeing you," he promised, looking intensely into her eyes before floating up and out the window.
"Hmm, I hope so," Lois murmured fervently, feeling the heat of his gaze still burning into her as he disappeared with a whoosh.
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