Operation Save Clark Kent Superverses Superman Fans for Lois Lane

 

 



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Redlust

 

Story ParametersREDLUST
Author: RedKryptonClark aka RKC_EB Story Details

Characters: Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Chloe Sullivan
Story Type: Action, Angst, Drama, Tension
Timeframe: Season 6
Rating: PG-13
Length: Short Story/ Novella - Complete

Story Synopsis: The death of a former Smallville High School girl leads Clark back into the seedy underbelly of Metropolis's fast paced and glitzy nightclub nightlife. On RedK to help with Chloe's investigation, Clark slowly loses himself as Kal takes over enticing Clark to forget his worries and live without consequences or worries.

A guilty and desperate Chloe recruits Lois into the lion’s den to retrieve their wayward friend and bring him back to the purpose at hand – to solve their former schoolmate's mysterious death.

Things don't go as planned.

 


Redlust

Prologue


The pungent odor of traffic exhaust, grease, three day old garbage, greasy Chinese food, and soot carried on the cold Metropolis wind that rustled through the long sleeves of Claire’s sheer dress. The girl didn’t feel the briskness on the air but instead felt very warm as her body’s adrenalin fought off the evening chills. Euphoric, she purposely walked towards the roof’s ledge.

Her cheeks were flushed, eyes streaked with red, and in her mind, she held tight to one belief – that she was capable of anything. And that she could fly.

The girl stepped high onto the ledge and peered over the rooftop of the twentieth floor of RedLust the hottest, most hopping nightclub in Metropolis. The building had been converted from an old electronics warehouse and was near impossible to get into. She could hear the constant rapid banging of the base from the music inside the club and large strobe lights flickered dizzyingly over her body as they danced around in the clouds overhead, lighting the way for the lonely pretty people of the city to easily locate the club.

The wind picked up as she lifted her hands high over her head. Wanting nothing more than to be free and to prove that she was the best diver in the world, she jumped.


Chapter 1

The bottom floor crowded office of The Daily Planet was abuzz with shrilling phones, blaring fax machines, and chirping beepers. The smell of newly nuked Lean Cuisines and stale coffee mingled with the stench of hard work from the room’s reporters. Clark Kent wove his way through the myriad of Chloe’s coworkers and made his way towards her desk.

He found Chloe staring intensely at her computer screen. She wore a long plumb colored corduroy jacket over a soft white blouse, and a long patchwork print silk skirt.

“Hey Chloe, I got your message, what’s up?” Clark asked, parking himself into a vacated chair next to her desk.

Chloe lifted her eyes and drank in the sight of her best friend. He wore his favorite red jacket, new dark blue jeans, and royal blue t-shirt that made his slate blue eyes pop and appear bright aqua against his chiseled features and dark brown hair.

“And hello to you too, Clark,” she said.

Clark smirked at her. “Sorry. How are you doing, Chloe?”

“Fine, thanks for asking…Anyways, do you remember Claire Underwood?”

Clark frowned and furrowed his brows in concentration. “Claire Underwood? She was two years before us, right? Captain of the girl’s swim team? She got a full ride to Met U to be on their swim team as I recall. She’s a sure in for the Olympic team this year.”

“Good memory, Clark.”

“Why? What’s up with Claire?”

“What’s down is a more accurate question. Her body was found early this morning plastered over the pavement of fifty first and grand near the employee entrance to the new nightclub RedLust,” Chloe reported.

Concern filled Clark’s eyes as he asked, “What happened?”

“Apparently she thought she needed to try a more spectacular diving feat to make it to the Olympics,” Chloe said.

“She jumped off of the roof?” Clark asked, incredulously.

Chloe nodded. “Jumped or was pushed. Regardless, there wasn’t much left to her when the coroners scraped her off of the pavement early this morning.”

“That’s terrible,” Clark said, and started to wonder why the death of a single former student that neither he nor Chloe was very close to warranted a trip to Metropolis.

Anticipating her friend’s thoughts, Chloe pushed on. “I’ve been following the obituaries closely lately and have found that there’ve been a large string of sudden tragic deaths of young women here in Metropolis. They all seem to have sprouted up around when RedLust opened three weeks ago. So far I’ve tracked down over a dozen girls who’re all dead.”

“What are the police doing about it?” Clark asked his interest piqued.

“Apparently nothing, they don’t see these deaths as being connected,” Chloe stated.

Clark looked at her dubiously. “And how do you know that they’re related?”

Chloe flashed a bright grin in Clark’s direction. “I didn’t know, actually. But after some needling I got my source in the city’s coroner’s office to email me the autopsy photos of all of the different girls.” She opened a saved file and started opening up various autopsy pictures. Clark felt a wave of nausea wash over him as he glanced over the gruesome images of the bruised and bloated corpses.

“The girls all died differently, some drowned, a couple got hit by cars, three went out in a blaze of glory by speeding into solid objects with their cars, and the rest died in other ways that would certainly qualify as being death wishes,” Chloe reported. “All of them died differently and in different parts of the city. There is no obvious connection to the girls either, they’re all different races, ages, social standing, careers, you name it.”

Clark pointed to the victim’s hand on three of the pictures. “What’s that?”

The budding young reporter beamed. “Good to see those baby blues are still sharp for detecting clues.” She clicked on the image to blow up the image of one of the hands. “All victims had a stamp on them from…”

RedLust,” Clark said, finishing her sentence. “Did the autopsy reports show anything unusual in the cases, any foreign toxins or drugs that might explain their erratic behavior?” A memory surfaced in Clark’s mind. “Or any puncture wounds near the base of their necks?”

“No Clark, they weren’t infected with that bug that got me and Pete our sophomore year in high school. In fact, they couldn’t find anything other than elevated levels of adrenalin in their systems,” Chloe said. “They weren’t drugged which is why all of these deaths are being deemed accidents or suicides.”

Clark leaned his elbows forward on his knees and steepled his long fingers together. Absently he tapped his indexed fingers rapidly together as his brain processed the data that Chloe had just presented to him. “There was nothing on them other than that stamp to connect them together?”

“Right,” Chloe said.

“I don’t know Chloe, it seems like a pretty weak connection,” Clark replied, arching a brow her way.

“Call it my reporter’s instinct then,” Chloe said, her eyes imploring for him to believe her.

Clark sighed. “Looks like a trip to RedLust is in order to get the inside scoop on what’s going on then,” Clark answered.

Her face lit up brightly and she coughed out a laugh. “How are you planning that exactly? It’s the hottest nightclub with lines ten miles long full of pretty people trying to get in there.”

He shrugged his broad shoulders and said confidently, “Getting in won’t be a problem for me.” Clark bore his eyes into his friends and stated, “I can get in…but I’ll need something in order to do it.”

Suddenly, Chloe’s hands clammed up as understanding of what he was asking dawned on her. “That’s a very bad idea, Clark.”

He leaned back in his chair and tilted his head in her direction. “Do we have a choice?”

She stared at him, eyes full of concern. “I’m going with you then.”

“Absolutely not, there’s no way I’ll put you into that kind of danger,” he firmly stated.

“I can take care of myself…”

“I said no, Chloe,” Clark firmly replied.

“Who’s going to have your back?”

“Look I need to get in there first and get my bearings. I suspect this will take more than one night to get this investigation going anyways. I just can’t take you Chloe, he would never arrive more than one night with the same honey on his arm,” Clark said, apologetically.

A chill went through Chloe’s body as she registered Clark’s detachment to a part of himself that he daily fought against. Her shoulders deflated as she cracked out her desk key and opened the bottom drawer. She reached inside and extracted a small box. Before handing it over she stared at Clark and demanded, “You’ll take this thing off the second you leave that place, right? And you won’t put it on until you’re within a few feet of it?”

“I know what it does to me, Chloe. I don’t need it right now other than to help me solve this case. I’ll be fine,” Clark promised.

“You’d better be, or I’ll sic Lois on you,” Chloe threatened.

Clark grimaced. “Well then I will definitely be sure to keep up my end of the deal.”

Reluctantly, Chloe dropped the box into Clark’s hand. He opened it to make sure that the item was inside. Then without a word, he snapped the box shut, smiled at Chloe and said, “I’ll call you later tonight with my findings.”

“Good luck, Clark,” Chloe said as she watched him pocket the box and make his way out of the office. Dread filled her heart. This certainly wasn’t the way she’d planned for this conversation to go down. She shook her head and choked down a lump in her throat. She wrestled with the large knot of guilt that twisted in her stomach knowing that Clark would intentionally be doping himself up with Red Kryptonite to help her make her story.

A little voice in her head further shoved the knife deeper into her growing mass of guilt. “The deed is done. Just remember if he does anything stupid this was all your fault.”


 

Chapter 2

Clark arrived at 50th Avenue, a block away from RedLust and prepared himself for the investigation. Even now he could hear the base thumping from the music in the club. He glanced in the window of the pawn shop that he’d stopped in front of and looked over his reflection. All traces of Clark the farmboy had been erased. He wore a tight fitting button up black shirt, snug black jeans, and black cowboy boots. His normally calm hair was teased out to the max and gelled into a style that Clark mirrored after those of young alternative band members.

He looked over his reflection and squinted his eyes shut as memories of his months spent self inflicted exile in Metropolis three years ago resurfaced. Clark hated being dependent on Red K, yet worse he hated how great and free he felt when he was on it. Clark Kent was the most dependable, reliable, honest person in the universe. Kal-El was another story entirely. Clark dug into his pocket and extracted the small steel box that held the high school ring that Chloe had given him earlier in the day. Gingerly he held the ring and aggressively massaged his chin. He knew that he’d promised Chloe that he’d take it off right after leaving the club, but he also knew how difficult it would be to remove it after he’d put it on.

A raging pang of grief stabbed his heart as he reminded himself that if he got himself into trouble, his Dad wouldn’t be there to help get through to him. That thought stilled his hands from opening the box. He knew that there was no way that Clark Kent would be able to sweet talk his way into the club though, he needed to lose all of his inhibitions for that to happen.

With heavy effort, he opened the small box and pulled out the ring. Before he could stop himself he slammed it onto his right hand index finger and watched as the Red Kryptonite coursed up his arms and entered his bloodstream. A feeling of pulsing euphoria and extreme confidence banished the doubtful Clark Kent from his consciousness. Kal-El shoved the box into his pocket and glanced over his appearance in the windows. If folks had thought that Kal was huge three years ago, wait until they got a load of him now. His size 46 inch chest filled every inch of fabric in his shirt and his 6”4” frame would be considered imposing enough to include him in a lineup with NFL players. Kal flicked up his collar and unbuttoned the third button his shirt and scanned the streets. He located an ATM at the corner of 49th. He confidently strode across the street and when he was just outside of the camera range fried the ATM’s camera with his heatvision. Then with a single punch he reached inside and pulled out a huge wad of twenties.

Pockets now full of spending cash, he headed back down the street, the blood in his veins began pumping along in time to the frantic throbbing of the club’s music.

A large seductively sexy smile spread across his face as his eyes lingered over the back of the line of folks waiting to gain entrance to RedLust. Kal felt a swelling of female pheromones as the women in the line all locked eyes upon the gorgeous newcomer. He swaggered his hips slightly and started walking down the lines.

“Ladies, I need a date for this evening. Is anyone interested?” he asked. His question was immediately assaulted by affirmative cries from a desperate mass of scantily dressed babes. He clucked his tongue a few times and scanned the crowd. “I’m sorry ladies, but I think I’ll have to look elsewhere.” They collectively growled in pissed off frustration as he made his way further down the line. His eyes then fell upon a young woman wearing a halter top red dress. Her hair was light brown and wavy.

He flashed a smile ten stories wide and wiggled his eyesbrows seductively. “Care to join me at the ball, Cinderella?”

The girl arched a brow in his direction, dropped her cigarette, and ducked under the red rope that kept her place in line.

“What’s your name, handsome?” she huskily asked.

“Kal,” he answered and strode her up along the line.

“Don’t you want to know my name?” she asked.

“Not really,” Kal responded. The girl shrugged and clung onto his arm tighter. Kal noticed that she seemed a little timid. He might need to get a drink in her fast to liven her up, otherwise he’d have to dump her once they got inside. They made their way up to the squirming mass at the front door and Kal body blocked his way through the giant crowd. At the door, Kal spied a familiar face and beamed. “Durge! How’re you doing?”

The massive African American bouncer’s face registered shock upon recognition of giant man. “Kal! Where the hell have you been man?” The bouncer and Kal exchanged a long complicated handshake.

“Oh you know, around. I’m back now,” Kal replied, grabbing his newfound date’s hand. Kal dug into his pocket and pulled out a three twenties and handed them over to Durge. The large man slipped the money into his pocket and parted the way letting Kal and his date inside. Just inside the door they both were stamped.

Clark and his date wove through the hoards of folks crammed together bumping and grinding their problems away to the eardrum damaging loud music that rang throughout the club.

Kal found a place in the center of the dancefloor, grabbed his date by her waist and pulled her close to his body and the two began to sway to the music. The once shy girl slowly began to lose all inhibitions and gyrated seductively against his hips, her hands moving up and down his body. Grinning from ear to ear, Kal swooped down and caught her lower lip between his and slowly bit down on it. The girl gasped, opening her lips wider. Kal took the opening and descended upon her inviting mouth tasting her lips. The leftover cigarette taste quickly caused him to back off.

“You need a breath mint, hon,” he said, took her hands off of his backside and spun her into the crowd. When she stopped spinning she looked around and Kal had vanished.

**************************

Kal wove his way through the crowd towards the bar, fighting off grabby women along the way. When he reached his destination, he grinned broadly. “Kenneth!”

“Holy Craperola! KAL! Where’ve you been, man?” the bartender asked, grabbing Kal’s hand.

“Does it really matter? I’m back that’s all that counts,” Kal replied. He pulled out a twenty and said, “Give me the usual.”

Kenneth poured him a huge beer. “Where’s your date, man?”

Grinning, Kal said, “I’m still looking for her.”

Out of the crowd, the woman he plucked out of the line appeared. “Where’d you run away to, Kal?” she asked.

“Here, just waiting for you, baby,” he answered. He handed over another bill to Kenneth. “Get her whatever she wants…and a breathmint.”

She gave him an offended glare. “Sorry sweetheart, smoking tends to kill the mood with me.”

“Go to hell,” she growled, turned on heel and was devoured by the crowd.

Kal burst out laughing, turned around, and grinned at the barkeep. Kenneth howled. “I see you still haven’t lost your touch for losing the ladies.”

He tipped back the beer and gulped it down. Slamming the mug onto the bar and feeling zero effect from the alcohol he scanned the room and asked, “Is it just me or are the women in this club even more wild then they were three years ago?” His eyes widened in happy surprise as he watched a woman on the dance floor rip her shirt right off of her own back and start prancing around in only her bra and mini-skirt.

“Well this place isn’t called RedLust for nothing, Kal,” Kenneth answered.

A memory of Chloe burst into his mind and he was suddenly reminded of why he was there in the first place. Squinting his eyes he activated his x-ray vision and visually scanned the bodies of the dancers, seeking any foreign objects that might be lodged in their bodies or traces of any drugs that might be affecting their personalities. His x-ray vision produced nothing except for the lingering brightness of hundreds of red dots moving rapidly around the room. Kal glanced at his hand and stared at the stamp, it glowed bright red.

“Huh,” he said. As quickly as he registered that finding, he grinned, stashed it away in his memory and headed out to the dance floor seeking the shirtless girl for some company.

******************************

Chloe tapped away at her keyboard late into the night. After proofing her copy for the tenth time she again stared at the time on her computer – 2AM. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and stared at her phone to confirm that yet again, it was on and she had not missed any calls.

“Where are you Clark?” she asked into the empty room. Every moment he stayed in the club she worried that the effects of Red Kryptonite would get a stronger hold on him. She started contemplating heading over to the club to find him when the glass doors to her office space flew wide open and Clark sauntered into the room. She immediately noted his confident swagger and wide sexy smile and knew that he was still on Red Kryptonite.

“Clark?” she said.

He walked over to her desk and parked himself on the edge of her desk. Raising an eyebrow seductively, he asked, “Yes?”

Chloe’s eyes moved to his ring. “You said you’d take that off.”

Clark’s sexy smile evaporated. “It’s always about this ring, isn’t it? Why is everyone so concerned about me when I wear it? I love how I feel when I’ve got it on.”

“It’s not you, Clark,” Chloe argued.

“No Chloe, it’s the real me,” Kal responded, icily.

She let out a long breath. “I admit it brings out the Kryptonian side of you. But Clark, you’re human when you have that thing on your humanity vanishes.”

A broad grin came over Clark’s face and he leaned in close to her. Chloe could smell his expensive aftershave mingled with his own masculine scent and she momentarily she felt like swooning. She fully understood why Kal was a chick magnet at nightclubs, the man dripped with masculinity.

Kal replied to her, “Ahh but don’t you see Chloe? With this ring on I’m fulfilling my father’s vision of me – I am a god amongst men.” He placed a finger under her chin and forced her to look deeply into his intoxicating bedroom eyes. “Don’t tell me that you wouldn’t want to find out what it’s like being with a God, I know you think about it every day of your life.”

An annoyed and angry frown came over Chloe’s face as she kicked her chair away from Clark and away from his smoldering stare. Finding her voice, she shakily asked, “Clark, please take that thing off, you’re not yourself.”

Kal’s expression got momentarily hard and then a flicker of regret shot through his eyes. With great effort he tugged the ring off and threw it on the far side of Chloe’s desk. He dug into his pocket and extracted the steel box and handed it to Chloe. Quickly she put it away and waited for her friend to re-appear.

“Clark?” she asked.

Her friend looked as his hands and confirmed that the ring was gone. He felt exactly the same. He beamed. “Well now, this is an interesting development, isn’t it?”

“Why isn’t it fading?”

“I don’t know. Maybe as I get closer to fulfilling my destiny this is what will happen to me,” Kal responded, grinning.

“No, this is bad Clark. This isn’t you!” Quickly she snatched up the ring and began looking around for something that she could use to smash it.

With lightning speed, Kal shot his hand out and forcefully clamped down on her forearm. Involuntarily she released the box and it fell into his open, giant palm. He sneered, “Don’t even think about it, Princess.”

“Clark,” Chloe whimpered. “Come back to me.”

Kal’s blue eyes turned to ice and he said, “Clark Kent is dead.” He forcefully let go of her arm, got up and retreated towards the doors to leave.

Through rising tears, Chloe asked, “Did you find out anything about Claire’s death?”

He turned towards her, flashed an evil grin, and teased, “Wouldn’t you love to know?”

In a flash, he was gone.

Feeling as though she’d just been sucker punched in the gut, Chloe started to cry. If she could turn back time she would’ve never started this investigation in the first place. No story was worth losing her friend like this.


Chapter 3

Clark opened his eye and groaned at the massive pressure that immediately announced itself behind his front left temporal lobe. He sat up in bed and pressed his palm tightly against his forehead in an attempt to stop the throbbing pain. Groaning, he threw the covers off of him and felt his feet hit plushy, expensive carpet. Through blurred vision he looked around and didn't recognize his surroundings. He gingerly stood up and groped his way through the room towards a dark room that he assumed was the bathroom. Once inside he flicked on the light that immediately caused explosions across his already blurred vision.

Clark screamed.

His chest pumped rapidly as he fought to regain his breath. He leaned against the modern sink and looked at his reflection in the mirror – his eyes were all bloodshot and his skin looked grey. “What's the matter with me?” he asked. His vision cleared enough that he was able to focus on the towels in the room they were marked Metropolis Regency. He turned on the water full blast and with soap started scrubbing away at his face and hands to wake himself up. Slowly bits and pieces of memory returned to him. After leaving Chloe he had checked into the 5 star hotel using the money that he'd stolen from the ATM. Clark groaned and grimaced as the effort again caused pain to shoot through his skull.

A dull thudding started beating a tribal thumping in his head. It took him a few moments to realize that it was coming from the door. Clark slowly made his way through the suite and peered through the peephole. Guilt suddenly twisted his gut into knots.

He cracked the door. “Chloe.”

His friend stood at the door with a worried expression on her face. Clark unhooked the chain lock and swung the door wide open. She forced her eyes off of his chisled muscled chest to look at his face when she realized that he was only wearing his blue boxer shorts.

“How'd you find me?” Clark asked, closing the door behind her.

“I checked all of the local hotels after I called your Mom and found out you didn't return home last night. As suspected, I found you registered under Kal El. Really subtle, Clark,” she sneered, disappointedly.

“Hold on a second,” Clark asked and stumbled towards his room to put on his clothes.

Chloe's face turned from anger to alarm. “What's the matter, Clark?”

“I don't know,” he responded, tugging on his tight black jeans. “My head's throbbing at every loud sound and my eyes are sensitive to light.”

“Sounds like you have a hangover,” Chloe said, with a hint of amusement in her voice.

“Hangover? Chloe, I don't get drunk. That's not possible,” Clark said, putting on his shirt and buttoning it up all the way up his chest.

Noting his modesty being fully in place, Chloe smiled with relief, Clark was back. She gingerly sat down on the bed's edge next to him and said, “You really had me worried last night, Clark. Any idea why you were still showing Red Krytonite after you removed the ring?”

He rubbed his hand across the nape of his neck and shrugged his shoulders. When he pulled his hand away he glanced at the back of his hand, the ink mark from RedLust still showed through. Clark carefully got to his feet and returned to the bathroom where he scrubbed his hand until it would've gone raw and broke through the skin of a normal person. Finally as the last traces of the mark were washed off, he felt his head clear.

Chloe arched her brow at him. “What is it?”

“The hand stamp...it's made with Red Kryptonite,” he stated, fully awake and back to his senses.

“Whoa! Why would anyone think to do that?” Chloe said.

“I don't know,” Clark answered. “More importantly, why are some people acting invincible when they're stamped? I scanned the crowds at the club last night and thousands of people were stamped with this ink. Why don't we have a whole city full of folks jumping off of rooftops?”

“Do you think they were all exposed to the meteor rocks at some point?” Chloe asked.

Clark shrugged. “I don't know, you said these people had no connections to each other, maybe they all have visited Smallville at some point. We certainly know that Claire was from there.”

A smile spread over Chloe's face. “Great! I think that's all I need for finishing my article.” She put her hand out. “I'll take that ring back now.”

Clark furrowed his brows together. “I can't do that Chloe.”

“Why not?”

“We don't know who made this ink or why. I've got to find out who's behind this and stop them before more people die,” he pointedly said.

“Clark, I'm not letting you go back there on Red K,” Chloe said. “I worry about you.”

A large warm grin spread across Clark's face and he replied, “I know you do. I'll be all right, Chloe. And you have my permission to slap me hard when I get back tonight if I'm still acting like Atilla the Hun. Just prepare to meet me w/ heavy duty cleaning agent to get that ink off of me.”

Grabbing his few possessions including the high school ring, Clark moved Chloe out the hotel room door happy to be feeling like himself again.

**********************

After coming home and finishing his chores, Clark dressed himself again to return to the city and before his mother could spy him wearing the embarrassingly sexy outfit that he'd assembled, he sped towards Metropolis.

As he neared RedLust he slammed the ring back on and again embraced Kal. This evening, Kal wore a sheer poly shirt over black leather pants. Like the previous evening Kal walked over the line and located another honey to bring into the club with him. Her long light brown hair and hazel eyes reminded him of someone...but he pushed that nagging familiarity from his Clark Kent human side.

Kal again bribbed the bouncer and he and his date entered the club. With the red ink slammed onto the back of their hands, Kal immediately felt a heightened rush of adrenelain enter his system as he savored the extra Red Kryptonite that directly entered his bloodstream.

His new girl was much freer than the stick in the mud that he'd chosen the night before and claimed Kal as her own the moment that they stepped into the club. She grabbed the base of his neck and threw her arms behind his head and stuck her probbing tongue into his mouth. Kal grinned wider to allow her more access as his hands brought her hips closer towards his pelvis. Together they moved seductively in time to the pulsing and pounding techno music and became oblivious to the world around them. Any memories of why Clark was here in the first place vanished as the girl's hands moved down his backside and then towards his pant's zipper.

**************************

Outside the club, Chloe readjusted her halter top and shook her hair back one more time to make herself appear as grown up as possible. She marched towards the throngs of clubgoers towards the front of the line and fought her way towards the bouncer.

She smiled and said, “Hey there, can I come in?”

“Back of the line, little girl,” Durge gruffly said. “No cuts.”

Chloe pulled out a twenty and flashed it at him. “Please? My friend is already in there, I know he's waiting for me.”

He looked at the twenty like it was a quarter and asked, “Who's your friend?”

“Kal,” Chloe said, batting her eyes.

The bouncer laughed. “Sorry honey, but you're too late. He's already in there with a babe who's ten THOUSAND times hotter than you. Get lost.”

Thoroughly offended, Chloe got shoved out of the way from the throng of wannabe clubgoers and found herself stranded in the middle of the street. She growled. Anger throbbed through her body as she snatched the cell phone out of her purse and pulled a number up on speed-dial.

“I hate to do this to you Clark, but I have no choice,” she muttered. “Come on, come on, come on...Hey! You doing anything this evening? No? Great! I need your help!”

*************************

Kal lounged against the bar with his date, both chugging down drinks to cool off after a long hot and heavy session of foreplay out on the dancefloor.

He gave the girl a large sedcuctive smile and asked, “What do you do for a living?”

“I'm an executive assistant for Luthorcorp,” the girl proudly responded.

Kal's smile vanished. “Why would you work for them? They're criminals.”

“They're the most prestigious company in all of Kansas,” she countered. “I'm next in line to be under Lionel Luthor.”

“Yeah, I'm sure he'd love for you to be in that position,” Kal sneered.

“Ew! He's an old man, you pervert! I would never do anything...”

Kal glared icily at her and stared straight into her soul. “Sweetheart after seeing how you go after complete strangers, I have no doubt that age wouldn't matter to you if it meant gaining you more power.”

The girl's face snarled into an angry glare and she threw her drink in Kal's face. Using his superspeed the drink flew past him and showered the back of the bar. Kal howled with laughter as the girl stormed away.

Kenneth appeared shaking his head and carrying a towel to clean up the mess that she'd made of his bar. “Seriously man, you've got issues with women.”

Kal turned around and faced the bartender and handed him another twenty. “For the mess, sorry man. What do you mean issues with women?” Kal then reached over, picked up the rag that Kenneth had used for cleaning glasses, dipped it into the spilled alcohol, and scrubbed off the club's stamp from his hand.

“Man you're always losing the hottest babes in this place. It's like you don't want to ever get some or something,” Kenneth responded. “Or maybe you're stuck on someone and somehow you think if you go out with any of these hotties you'll be unfaithful to her. What about that girl from a few years ago...you know the cute brunette?”

“Ancient history, man.”

“Are you sure?”

Kal's blue eyes clouded over with anger and he icily replied, “I think the fact that she's now sleeping with my former best friend pretty much kills any lingering affectionate feelings that I might've had for her.”

“Ouch! Man, who in the world would be able to steal a woman from you? He must be something,” Kenneth replied, whistling.

“Yeah he's something alright,” Kal replied and chugged down the last of his beer.

“You know, I don't think it's that girl though who's getting to you,” Kenneth said, refilling up Kal's mug.

“What do you mean?” Kal asked, inhaling more of the frothy liquid.

“Well just look at the two girls you brought in here, light brown hair, greenish eyes, smoking bodies, and red dresses...you're stuck on someone else,” Kenneth observed.

Kal slammed down his empty mug and said, “There is no one else. Now on that note, I'm going to find myself another dance partner.”

Kenneth watched as the towering giant of a man melted back into the writhing mass of clubgoers. Not five minutes later a woman materialized out of thin air by his bar. The bartender's eyes nearly popped out of his head as he looked the girl up and down. She wore a 70's disco inspired red halter dress that covered a smoking hot body, and had light brown hair, and hazel eyes.

He whistled. “What star did you fall from, miss?”

She gave him a grin that was a perfect blend of amusement and disgust.

Kenneth narrowed his eyes and gave her a closer lookover. “Man, you must be the one.”

“The one what?” she asked, pounding her small purse onto the counter.

“Who're you here looking for, sweetheart?” Kenneth asked.

“Apparently, he goes by the name Cal,” Lois said, with a hint of annoyed amusement in her voice.

The bartender laughed. "That's his name, hon. What you think he should be called?”

“Bumble-britches? Stumbling Stanly maybe?” she offered.

Kenneth looked at her with a puzzled expression. “Maybe we're not talking about the same person.”

“6'4” dark hair, blue eyes, dopey smile?”

“Girl, I think he's got you snowed. Kal is NOTHING like what you seem to think he is. He's somewhere over there,” Kenneth said, pointing in the direction that Kal had disappeared earlier.

“Thanks,” Lois responded, twirled on her heel and started to head into the crowd.

“Hey!”

She turned around and the bartender grabbed her hand. “You didn't get stamped at the door.” Quickly he pounded the ink on her hand. She rolled her eyes and walked into the crowd looking for Smallville.

Lois's conversation with Chloe was still fresh in her mind. Somehow Clark had managed to get himself hooked on drugs in order to help her cousin to track down the lead on a case. She shook her head not quite believing it, Lois always assumed that of all people the world honorable Clark Kent would be smart enough not to fall for that crap.

She scanned the room of dancers, and under her breath she muttered, “Can you think of anything lamer? Only Clark would take the first three characters of his own name and scramble them up for making a psuedonym.”

As that thought crossed her mind she suddenly started to feel very hot and immediately her body began to respond to the throbbing of the music. It pulsed and she felt it clear to her toes. Through the mist created by fog machines she spied a pair of broad shoulders that caused her body to ache like they never had ached for Oliver. She exhaled deeply and wet her lips. The man had just spun away a partner and turned in her direction. At that moment the lights went out and the place became illuminated only with black lights.

She eyeballed his sexy sheer top and could see the Adonis of a man's glistening powerful chest under his shirt. A set of flashing pearly white teeth ignited his dark facial features and the man wrapped his arms around Lois's body. She threw her arms around his neck and began to match his pulsing pelvic thrusting dance moves as the music's rhythem heightened into an escalating frenzy. Lois threw her head back and emitted a loud pleasurable moan as her dance partner nuzzled the base of her neck. He then swung her upwards and cradled her body against his chest, inhaling the fruity, clean scent of her shampoo.

Lois wrapped her arms around him tightly and beamed happily. She then felt him do something behind her back, heard a small clang as the man threw something away, and within moments his posture changed from that of seductor to protector.

“Lois?” a small voice asked over her head.

She leaned her head back and foggily beamed at him. “Take me now, Smallville. I'm yours.”

Clark's eyes filled with deep concern, as he cradled her into his large arms and carried her out of the club and into the fresh air. It had started to rain. Lois began to shiver. Rain plastering both of their bodies, Clark took her into his arms and sped her back to Smallville to her apartment over the Talon.

*************************

Clark burst through the door of Lois's apartment, his eyes full of worry as her body was violently shivering from extreme cold. Carrying her as gently as a mother would with her newborn babe he laid her down on her bed and rushed over to her dresser. He rapidly opened and closed all of her drawers until he found one filled with nightclothes. As he sifted past her thin summer nightgowns he discovered a pile of red and blue flannel shirts. Crinkling his brows in confusion he extracted one and recognized it as one that he had owned two years ago that had gone missing. A small grin came over his face as he selected it for her to wear.

Awkwardly he put the shirt on over her head and untied her soaking wet dress from underneath it. He averted his eyes as he removed the drenched dress and tossed it aside along with her shoes. He then tucked her in under her blankets. Lois continued to quake and she moaned. Furrowing his brows with concern, Clark placed a large warm palm on her forehead and yanked it away from its intense heat. He rushed over into the bathroom and doused a washcloth with water and soap and returned to her side. Quickly he scrubbed off all traces of the stamp on her hand. When he saw that she wasn't improving but was still shi vering he made a decision that he knew he might end up seriously paying for in the morning if he got caught.

Gulping he tossed his shirt aside, pulled off his boots, and squeezed out of his wet leather pants. Clark then turned off the lights in the apartment and climbed into bed with his feverish friend. The rain water had upped the fresh scent of her intoxicating fruity shampoo. Clark closed his eyes, spooned up behind her and wrapped his large body over her frozen form and waited. He lay awake absorbing her quakes and after about ten minutes of transferring his body heat to Lois she finally ceased convulsing.

Clark exhaled deeply and considered crawling out of bed and returning to check on her in the morning, when she rolled over and her eyes slit open. She muttered, “Don't leave me, Clark.”

Shock pulsed through Clark's body at her words. He brushed a clump of damp hair out of her eyes and realized she had fallen into a deep sleep. Clark was acutely aware of how her right thigh had hooked itself between his legs and her right arm was clamped under his arm and hung down his back. She moved her head into the nook of Clark's right arm and neck and began to loudly snore. Clark grinned.

Tenderly he kissed the top of her head and whispered, “I know you don't mean it, Lois. I'll be gone before you get up in the morning.” With that promise being his last conscious thought, he fell asleep comfortably snuggled with Lois.


Chapter 4

Warm golden sun rays bathed Lois’s apartment over the Talon with shimmering radiance. A small sleepy smile crept over Lois’s lips as consciousness slowly tugged her out of sleep. She became aware of the warmth of the sunbeams and something else warm…Oliver? Mind still foggy from sleep, she reached over and wrapped her arm around her sleeping partner and nuzzled his nose with hers. Grinning, she then lightly tapped his lips with hers and was delighted to feel them kiss her back. Lois felt her body immediately warm with delicious heat as it responded to her lovers teasing and luscious lips. Her hands moved up and down the rock hard chest, but stilled when her fingers failed to feel a small scar indentation that Oliver had located on his right front torso. She pressed her hands across his chest and realized that the body felt different than Oliver’s; it was much broader in the waist and chest.

Lois’s eyes flew open and gasped in horror upon recognition of her bed partner.

Exploding pain launched Clark out of his drowsy slumber. His hand flew to his throbbing nose and opened his eyes to see a very angry Lois sitting over him with her fist balled and arm cocked back readying for another punch.

With quick reflexes in place, Clark propped himself to a sitting position and caught her fist millimeters before it would’ve connected again with his face.

“Lois, it’s not what you think!” he said, eyes filled with indignation.

“Really?” Lois growled, her eyes burning with fury. She snatched up a fist full of Clark’s shirt and demanded, “Explain why I’m wearing YOUR shirt and you’re in MY BED naked?”

Clark raised his eyebrows and shot back, “First off Miss Klepto USA, I found MY shirt in your dresser and second, I’m not naked.”

A look of uncertainty flickered over Lois’s face as she examined the pattern on the shirt and recognized it as one that she had pilfered from Clark’s closet one of the times when she had moved out of his parent's house. Unable to control herself she threw back the covers to reveal Clark wearing blue boxer shorts. Damn he was right.

He put up his hands defensively and said, “Trust me, all we did was sleep together. How are you feeling, by the way?”

Lois crinkled her brows together in confusion over Clark’s question. She felt a low throbbing of pain in her head. “I have a headache. What’s going on, Clark? Why are we…?”

“Do you remember anything from last night?” Clark's worried bright blue eyes uncomfortably stared straight into Lois's soul.

“The club right? I remember talking to the bartender to look for you and then everything went fuzzy,” she replied.

Clark grabbed her hand and pressed his thumb onto the back of her hand where there were very faint traces of the stamp on it. He explained, “You were drugged once you were stamped with the ink from that club. I don’t know what’s in it but when people get stamped they tend to loose all inhibitions.”

Shock and terror filled Lois’s hazel eyes. “I didn’t…do anything…stupid, did I?”

A lopsided grin formed on Clark’s face and he said, “Well, no more than usual.”

Her face screwed up into an annoyed expression and she punched him in the arm. Clark bellowed out a laugh as she attacked him again. He caught her as she fell off balance and fell into his lap. Both laughing loudly, they failed to hear Lois’s door open.

“Well isn’t this cozy?”

Both Clark and Lois turned as one towards the voice and immediately sizzled with shame that shot all of the way from their ears to toes.

“Oliver,” Clark meekly said, gulping.

Quick as a barefoot hot footing it off of a hot coal, Lois flew out of Clark’s lap. “Oliver, it’s not what you think,” she said, parroting Clark's response to her from a few minutes ago.

Oliver Queen arched a brow in their direction, his face icily still and expressionless. “I’m waiting.”

Lois reached down and grabbed what she could only assume to be Clark’s pants. “Are these yours?”

Clark flashed a look of intense exasperation in her direction as he grabbed his leather pants. “Not exactly the moment to criticize my fashion choices, don’t you think?” With a quick snap, he jumped into the pants and walked over to Oliver. Lois sat on her bed with her arms crossed awkwardly in front of herself looking at Clark with controlled fury.

Running a hand through his hair nervously, Clark ran through his head things to say. “Where to begin?”

“I’d assume the beginning would be a good place,” Oliver calmly growled.

“Chloe asked me to help her with a story that she was working on and I got in over my head. She asked Lois to help me out. Both of us got drugged at this club RedLust. Last night I broke free of the hold that the drugs had on me, saw that Lois wasn’t…acting like herself and brought her back here. As you know it was raining last night. She was soaking wet and shivering. She wouldn’t stop, so I did the only thing that I could think of to warm her up,” Clark explained, intentionally keeping a firm lock on Oliver’s eyes. He feared any stray glances might cause Oliver to doubt his retelling of events. “You know I wouldn’t do anything with Lois, Oliver. She’s your girl.”

Oliver wrapped his arms tightly around his chest and repeated, “You climbed into bed to warm her body up?”

“Smallville? Why didn’t you just take me to Oliver’s apartment instead of here? Shouldn’t I have been warm by the time you drove all of the way back from Metropolis?” Lois demanded.

Clark’s eyes grew large. Oliver slightly shook his head and his eyes widened. Clark relaxed ever so slightly realizing that Oliver seemed to be ready to back him up with covering up his abilities. However, years spent spinning tales to Lana allowed a convenient lie to pop immediately in his head. “The heater was broken in the taxi,” Clark quickly said, covering his tracks. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I didn’t think to bring you over to Olivers. That was stupid of me. I guess I’m just so used to you being here that I forgot.”

“No problem, man,” Oliver said, grabbing Clark on the shoulder. For Lois’s sake, he said, “It’s nice to know that Lois has a friend as honorable as you watching over her.”

Lois let out a long breath and stared at her boyfriend like he had six heads. “Well if you're alright with his explanation of things, then I guess we're good here. If you two will excuse me, I'm going to the bathroom – I need to wash Smallville's stench off of me,” Lois said, quickly retreating out of the room.

Clark glared at the closed door, picked up his shirt,and then sat down on the edge of Lois's bed to tug on his boots. “You sure we're alright?” He asked his friend.

Oliver ran a hand through his spiked blond hair, grinned broadly, and slapped Clark hard on the shoulder. “Clark the day you actually make a move on Lois, I expect will be the day that I'm old and gray.”

“Right, it's ridiculous. I have zero interest in Lois,” Clark said, buttoning his shirt.

“Right...zero interest,” Oliver muttered, rubbing his chin. He stared towards the bathroom where he heard the shower turn off. “Anything I can do to help with this case of yours that you're investigating?”

“No, thanks man. Tonight I'm going solo and am getting to the bottom of things on my own. I just want this nightmare to be over,” Clark said, standing up.

“Like hell you're going by yourself,” Lois said from the bathroom door. Wearing a tightly wrapped bathrobe she glared at Clark. “I'm going with you.”

An incredulous laugh burst out of Clark's mouth. “Oh I don't think so.”

“Listen here, Smallville, you're not going alone. Nobody gets away with drugging me and putting me into a compromising position that could've cost me my boyfriend and gets away with it! Besides, I don't remember much about last night but I remember enough to know that you need someone to watch your back,” Lois responded forcefully.

Clark scowled at Lois. He then looked at Oliver for help. Oliver threw up his hands in defeat. “I know better than to get in her way when she's like this. She's all yours tonight. Just do a better job of keeping her away from harm, got it?”

Growling, Clark headed to the door and opened it to leave. “Be ready at 6.”

“No problem. And Smallville?”

He turned and glanced back at Lois. “What?”

“Please leave those greasy slime-ball pants home tonight. I wouldn't be caught dead in public with a Fabio wanna-be as my date,” Lois jeered, grinning sarcastically at him.

Annoyed, Clark saw Oliver cover his mouth to smother a laugh. The corner of Clark's mouth rose up sharply, he put two fingers to his brow and said, “Aye Aye, Sailor.”

Lois's triumphant grin plummeted into an icy glare. Clark exploded with laughter as he slammed the door behind him and made a superspeed charged exit out of the Talon before anyone could see him in his clubbing outfit.

*****************************

Back on the farm Clark came out of the shower and had changed into a pair of faded blue jeans and a white t-shirt when he heard a knock on his bedroom door. He opened it to see a frantic looking Chloe standing there.

“Hey Chloe,” he said, walking over to his bed where he put on his tan work boots.

“Are you alright? You didn't check in last night and neither did Lois. I didn't sleep a wink I was so worried for you both,” Chloe rapidly said.

Guilt tugged at Clark's gut at completely forgetting about Chloe. “I'm so sorry, Chloe. We're both fine.” Chloe sat down on his desk's chair and listened as Clark relived the evening's events. He couldn't meet her eyes when he recounted the highlights of the awkward morning in Lois's apartment.

Chloe gave him a sympathetic smile. “Well at least Oliver seemed ok with things, right?”

“Yeah. I have to say Chloe, he's seriously become a great friend, you know. It takes a great deal of trust to be able to believe a story like what I told him this morning. If I was in his place, I don't know that I would've believed it,” Clark said, baffled.

“I don't know about that. You always look for the good in people – even those who don't deserve it,” Chloe gushed. Catching herself in Clark worship mode, she averted her eyes and then asked, “I'm a little confused over something, you said at the club that Lois came to you and started dancing with you and then you threw the ring off and took her out of there.”

“That's not a question, Chloe,” Clark said, smirking.

“Right, but what snapped you of out it? It usually takes something major to get you to get off of Red Kryptonite,” Chloe explained.

Clark stood up and shoved his hands in his back pockets. He began pacing his room. He walked over to his window and stared out of it towards the north pasture. “When I said we were dancing, we weren't just dancing Chloe. In that place and on that drug, people lose all of their inhibitions. We were...”

Chloe raised her brow and grinned. “Dirty dancing?”

Clark's cheeks grew very hot. “I guess you could say that. Anyway she was really close to me and I inhaled the scent of her shampoo – it was Lois's shampoo. Lois, Chloe. Not just some tramp that I pulled off of the street, this was a friend of mine...a good friend. It was like a lightning rod went through me and I rediscovered my moral center. So I threw the ring away and took Lois home.”

Suddenly, Chloe found her shoes to be very fascinating.

“What's the matter?” Clark asked, realizing that Chloe was sniffling.

“Nothing...well not nothing. It's just that I could never get you to go off of Red Kryptonite. I guess I'm not special enough to you,” Chloe muttered. Suddenly hating herself, she threw up her hands. “Oh god, I'm sorry. I'll put a lid on that pity party, I don't know where it came from. Please forget I said that?”

“Sure,” Clark said, his brows furrowed in confusion.

“What is it?”

He looked at Chloe, searchingly. “Why would I break free of my Red Kryptonite addiction for Lois and not for you?”

She shrugged her shoulders. Averting the topic, she said, “I did some further research on our victims and it looks like at least five of them had been in Smallville around the time of one of the two meteor showers, so it looks like our theory might have some weight to it. Those who've been affected by Kryptonite somehow experience the same, full blown Red K tendencies that you do when you're on it.”

“They feel invincible,” Clark said. “I don't have the ring anymore Chloe. Tonight I'm going as myself and I'm going to get to the bottom of this once and for all and find out who's behind it.”

“Good to hear,” Chloe replied. “Will Clark Kent be able to get into that club?”

“After this morning's events, I won't need Red Kryptonite to bring the Kal out in me...I'll have Lois on my arm. Nothing can bring Kal to the surface like Lois can,” Clark snarled, grabbed a jacket and headed out the door and down the hall.

Chloe slowly stood up turning Clark's words over in her head. She began free-form association thinking. Kal-El was his alien side, the side he chose to ignore...for the most part, Clark loathed his Kal-El side, preferring to embrace his humanity and humility...Kal-El is fiercely blunt and determined...emotionless...Kal-El was the man who his natural father Jor-El knew would end up filling his destiny...Lois could bring Kal-El to the surface the same way that Red Kryptonite could...she was able to get him to pull the ring off and return to being Clark Kent...or was he Kal-El? Kal-El is supposed to be a god amongst men...heroic, brave, and a beacon for humanity. Clark Kent is honorable. A blinding and startling realization came to Chloe – if Lois could bring that side of Clark's nature out and ONLY she could and somehow she managed to actually fuse Clark's personalities into one, then it must mean...she's....

“Are you coming? My Mom made her delicious banana pancakes. If you don't come down here, I'll eat the entire platter by myself,” Clark said, poking his head back into his room. A loopy grin spread over his face.

A large happy smile returned to Chloe's lips and she said, “Yes, Clark I'm coming.”


Chapter 5

Chloe wondered if a bomb had gone off in Lois's apartment when she entered it at 5:30PM. There appeared to be not a single inch of the place that wasn't covered with clothes, shoes, or handbags.

“Lois? What's going on?” she asked, calling out into the place wondering where her cousin was hiding.

“Over here, Chlo,” Lois's voice called out to her from her closet.

Chloe threw out her arm to prevent herself from falling as she stumbled over a red satin pump. “How did you ever fit all of these clothes into one tiny closet at Met U?” Chloe asked.

“You'd be amazed at how much stuff I can smash into tiny places,” Lois replied, grinning proudly at herself. She held out a slinky black dress and gave it a look over once or twice, decided it wasn't right and flung it out towards her bed.

“You know you could've just hung it back up again,” Chloe pointed out to her.

“Where's the fun in that? Besides, then I'd just come across it again in two minutes and waste more time realizing that I don't want to wear it,” she answered with a smirk.

Chloe shook her head and navigated herself to a chair, removed all of the clothes that were draped on it and threw them onto Lois's bed and took a seat. “You're devoting a lot of energy into deciding what to wear for tonight,” Chloe mentioned, tugging innocently on her ear.

“Yes, well if you saw that ridiculous outfit that Smallville wore last night you'd know why I have to make sure that I find something appropriate and perfect to wear. Black leather pants and a see through shirt – god he looked like he was heading to an audition for a lead in a porno film instead of just going to a nightclub.”

Brows perked up high with interest, Chloe chortled. “Clark owns a pair of leather pants? CLARK?”

“I know, frightening, isn't it? And Chloe, they left NOTHING to the imagination if you know what I mean,” Lois said, poking her head out of the closet holding a sequined red halter top. “I think he must've lost about ½ of his overall sperm count last night in those things.”

Struck speechless, Chloe deeply blushed at the thought and rapidly changed the subject and pointed at the top Lois was holding. “That looks nice.”

“Yeah, I'm thinking it might work. Now I just need pants to go with it,” she muttered and climbed back into her close and returned with a pair of low rise black leather pants.

“So you can wear leather but not Clark?” Chloe asked.

“Yes, well you see Chloe, on me, it's sexy, on Smallville, it's disgusting,” Lois explained with an arched brow and a small shake of her head. She ducked behind a privacy screen and changed into her outfit.

When she emerged Chloe wolf whistled to her and grinned. “That should turn some heads.”

Lois shrugged and grabbed a pair of trendy yet practical thick soled black boots and stuffed them on. She noticed Chloe's confused expression. “Hey, I have to dress not only to be a knockout but be ready to kick a little ass if necessary.”

Chloe laughed as Lois dug into her jewelry box and came up with a pair of sparkling rhinestone earrings and a matching necklace. Chloe jumped to her aid and clasped the necklace for her. “You look great. You always do.”

“Yeah, well..I think Clark likes me in red too,” Lois replied with a wide smile. She turned around and immediately burned a glare into Chloe's confused stare. “Not that I'm dressing for HIM by the way.”

“Oh no, of course not,” Chloe replied and watched Lois scoop up piles of clothes and unceremoniously dump them onto the floor inside of her closet. She then switched out the contents of her purse and pulled on a black leather jacket over her halter top.

Chloe looked over her cousin and remembered the outfit that she'd seen Clark wearing when she spied him in Metropolis for the first time the summer he had run away from home. He'd worn tight black jeans, a red t-shirt, and black motorcycle jacket. They could be twins, she thought as a chill went down her back. Chloe suddenly itched the back of her neck and she smiled at Lois and asked, “So you're going to make sure you don't get stamped tonight, right?”

“You got it. No way I'm letting my freak out with Clark, again,” Lois said, blotting her lips and checking her makeup.

“Just make sure he doesn't get stamped either, ok?” Chloe asked.

“Trust me, as much as I don't want to turn into an idiot all over him, I don't want him slobbering on me either,” Lois answered, shuddering at the thought.

Thinking about her morning revelation, Chloe boldly asked, “Lois, why does Clark get under your skin so much?”

“He rubs me the wrong way I guess. I know that you adore him, but I get rather tired of the superhero act that he always puts on. Why does he feel like he needs to take care of everyone and put the weight of all of the world's problems onto his shoulders? He acts as though it's his job to single-handedly stomp all of the bad things that go on in this world,” she explained.

Chloe barked out a laugh. “And what's wrong with someone wanting to do that?”

Lois sighed. “Nothing, if it's actually in your ability to do it. Chloe I can't tell you how many times that he's stupidly run in to try to help me and I've ended up having to rescue his butt instead.”

“And how many times HAS he saved you?”

Lois planted her fists on her hips and arched a brow at her cousin. “I don't know, but I'm sure the scales are not balanced. He'd get nowhere without me there to protect his tight tushy.”

A sliver of a knowing smile crossed over Chloe's lips, knowing darn well that Lopis had no idea how many times Clark had been there for her over the years.

“Can we talk about something other than Clark Kent? It's bad enough that I'm giving my entire evening to him. How's Jimmy?”

Chloe smiled. “He's at home for the week helping his Mom paint her house. He's great.”

“You guys are cute together, you know that? He adores you Chloe. It's nice seeing you with someone who really cares for you,” Lois said.

Not missing the inference, Chloe defended herself, “Clark cares for me, Lois.”

“Yes, I know Chloe. And he'd probably die for you, but he only sees you as a friend,” Lois stated sitting across from Chloe on the bed. She took her cousin's hands into hers and said, “I'm sorry, I know you don't want to hear it but it's the truth. I can tell what a guy is feeling from a mile away. Clark's one of the easiest people out there to read. He adores you and admires you, but he sees you like a friend. You have a chance here for something wonderful – real love, Chloe. Don't fight it just because of something that you blindly hope might happen, because I'm sorry to tell you this but it probably won't ever materialize.”

Tears threatened to rise over Chloe's lids and she forced a smile. Meekly she said, “I know, Lois. And trust me, for the most part I've given up any hope of Clark and I becoming anything beyond friends. In fact in some ways I think it might just be too weird if we got together now. I wouldn't want to lose our friendship. He's just too special and I wouldn't ever want to lose that.”

Lois flashed her a look of deep concern, but was startled out of saying anything else by the sound of an obnoxiously loud engine being gunned right outside her window. “What jackass is out gunning his engine in the alley?” Quickly Lois and Chloe dashed to the balcony and flung open the doors to look outside. When they looked down they were met with the strangest, most unbelievable sight.

Legs crossed and lazing over the seat of his bike, Clark revved the gear on his Dad's motorcycle. A sly, sexy grin spread over his face as he saw Lois and Chloe peering down at him with disbelief and awe.

He stopped gunning the engine long enough to shout out, “Want to take a ride, gorgeous?”

Clark refrained himself from bursting out laughing as Lois's jaw dropped to the ground in shock. Chloe shoved Lois inside and flashed Clark a thumbs up before retreating inside the apartment.

Chloe and Lois poured out of the back door at the Talon to see Clark comfortably resting, hooking his thumbs through the belt loops on a pair of black jeans that covered a pair of motorcycle boots. Lois's eyes drank in the sight of his tight fitting black t-shirt that he normally wore slovenly untucked. Tonight it was tucked into his jeans showcasing his amazing physique instead of obscuring his tight abs. Like Lois, he wore a black leather motorcycle jacket. Not quite knowing why, Lois briefly lost her footing and was glad that Chloe was there to help steady her onto her feet. When she approached Clark she tried to figure out what was different about him besides the all black ensemble. Whatever it was, she couldn't deny that she found herself drawn to him, like a bee to heated, sweet pollen.

“Clark, you definitely should wear your hair like that more often,” Chloe piped in, grinning.

Clark flashed her a lopsided smile. “Thanks, Chloe,” he said, running a hand over his bare forehead. His own eyes devoured the sight of Lois in her tight black leather pants and low cut flashy red top. His breath caught in his throat and his heart skipped a beat. God she looked amazing in red.

“That's it, you shoved your shaggy bangs out of your face. I couldn't figure out what was different about you,” Lois stated, realizing with startling clarity how big, bright, and blue Clarks eyes now popped out against his face.

Clark strode towards Lois and did something that she usually reserved for bugging the crap out of him, he invaded her personal space and forced her to peer upwards into his gleaming eyes. Lois's head began to swim as she was overpowered by the scent of his spicy, musky aftershave. She felt all liquid in her mouth vanish and her palms began to sweat.

In a deep, husky voice Clark asked, “So are you ready Lois? Ready to experience 600 CC's of raw power between your legs?” Both Lois and Chloe collectively took a step back and stared at Clark with eyes the size of saucers. Thoroughly enjoying himself, he offered a helmet to her and then straddled the bike. “Hop on Lois, we have some creeps to catch.”

“Be careful you two,” Chloe called out as Lois jumped onto the bike behind. Chloe rushed to Clark's side as Lois plopped the helmet on her head. She stared at his hands which were free of any rings.

“It's me, Chloe,” he whispered. “Don't worry.” Sensing Lois was finished putting on the helmet, he added more loudly, “I'll bring her back safely to you.”

“Let's get going, Elvis,” Lois demanded.

Chloe took a step back and saw a twinkling spark in Clark's eye as Lois wrapped her arms tightly around his waist. Revving the engine, he turned the cycle around on a dime and blasted down the alley and rode them out and onto the street heading towards Metropolis.

Still inhaling a mixture of remnants of Clark's aftershave and engine fumes, Chloe's heart sped wildly in her chest. Clark's words from this morning echoed in her min, After this morning's events, I won't need Red Kryptonite to bring the Kal out in me...I'll have Lois on my arm. Nothing can bring Kal to the surface like Lois can.

“A god amongst men,” she whispered, as tingling sensations ran up and down her entire body. She knew that she'd just witnessed something amazing and cursed herself that she couldn't be a part of the action tonight to see Clark in his full glory. She had the strongest feeling that tonight, Clark and Lois would deliver to her the story of a century, a story to create a legend.



Chapter 6

Lois held tightly onto Clark's waist and allowed her mind to wander as they sped towards Metropolis. Through her helmet, she inhaled the crisp clean countryside that she had grown to associate with the man of whom she shared the bike with. The cool evening air caressed them both, which was a good thing, because overall Lois was feeling uncomfortably hot. Maybe it was the leather pants that she rarely wore or more likely the constant throbbing of the bike's engines between her legs was causing her hormones to go crazy. As much as she loathed to admit it being in such close proximity to Clark's tight and firm body was causing her own to go into overdrive.

Remember, this is CLARK here, not Oliver, cool your jets girl. He might have turned his sex-o-meter onto overload, but he's still that ridiculously immature brat who drives you nuts, she thought.

She opened her fingers and expanded them across Clark's chest and rested her head against his shoulder. Clark felt his companion shift her position and gulped. Even with her helmet on he could feel that she was nuzzling against his shoulder. Clark smiled broadly as he passed into the outer city limits of Metropolis. Allowing his bike to go on auto pilot he directed it down the streets towards the old manufacturing district.

Clark slowed his bike down and then stopped around forty sixth street. The area was deserted and smelled of engine oil and laundry detergent. A large blinking blue neon light for “Chan's Drycleaning” strobed nearby, bathing them in it's neon glow.

“Are we there? This doesn't look like a nightclub,” Lois said, quickly removing her hands and taking off her helmet.

“Not yet, we need to get a few things straight before we get there,” Clark said, offering her a hand to help her get off of the bike. He then got off and towered over her.

“What's up, Smallville?” Lois asked, confused.

Flashing her a lopsided, exasperated grin, Clark began, “First off, no calling me Smallville..or Clark...or any of your other charming pet names that you like to call me. In that club, I'm Kal, there's no negotiating on that point.”

Lois wrapped her arms around herself and furrowed her brows. “Why do you call yourself Kal?”

Clark nervously inhaled a large breath of air and said, “Look I don't know if you know this about me, but a few years back I sorta had a bit of an identity crisis and ran away to Metropolis for the summer. I didn't want to remind myself of my home or my family or Smallville. So I created this secret identity if you will. Everyone in this soulless world knows me as that person.” Lois looked at him wrinkling her forehead that causing her nose to crinkle up in concern. Clark cleared his throat and continued, “I ran away because I blamed myself for my Mom losing her baby.”

“Your mother had been pregnant?” Lois asked, incredulously.

“Yeah, it was a shocker for all of us...a real miracle,” Clark said, his eyes turned far away and suddenly were clouded with lingering deep regret and guilt.

“Why would you think that you caused her to lose her baby?” Lois asked.

Clark speedily thought up an excuse. He certainly wasn't going to tell her that when he blew up his spaceship their truck was overturned from the blast created by its destruction. “They had a problem with the brake line on the truck that I overlooked and they got into an accident.”

Tenderly, Lois stroked his arm. “Clark, that sounds like an accident. You're not perfect, something like that is easy to overlook.”

“I know that...now,” he replied, meekly smiling. “Just try telling that to a sixteen year old boy who desperately wanted to see his mother happy.” Clark then shook away the pain and cleared his throat again. “Anyways, Kal was a real piece of work – arrogant and obnoxious...”

“And how is that different from the Clark that I know?” Lois piped in, grinning.

Clark scowled at her.

She rolled her eyes. “Alright, so I'll expect you to act like Conan the Barbarian in that club and won't allow it to phase me.”

“Right. And I think there's something else that you should know about Kal,” Clark said, staring deeply into her green eyes.

“What's that?”

Clark flashed her a sexy smile. “He's rather a ladies man. And he's never appeared at a club twice in a row with the same babe on his arms – so everyone is going to look at you and wonder what your story is. They're all going to wonder what kind of a babe could possibly cause Kal to not go looking for love elsewhere.”

“So I should feel honored by this?” Lois asked, arching her brows and smiling incredulously.

Clark shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe. Mostly though, you're going to need to fulfill a role Lois.” His face suddenly lit up with devilish delight. “You're going to have to worship the ground that I walk on.”

“Pu-lease....” Lois groaned rolling her eyes.

“What's more, if we manage to not get stamped, we're going to have to convince everyone in there that we're a couple and only have eyes for each other,” Clark said, and suddenly felt his palms sweat. He added, “We're going to probably need to kiss quite a lot.”

“And how is that going to help us to get my story?”

“Your story? You mean Chloe's story,” Clark countered.

“Like hell, Chloe's story. I'm here doing all of the dirty work, it's my story. It's about time I got a legitimate story for The Inquisitor. I might even get promoted with a covering a case like this,” Lois countered, arching a brow.

“Lois,” Clark scolded.

“Hey, don't use that disapproving Kent tone with me, Smallville I'm just as ambitious as the next person,” Lois answered. He flashed her an annoyed look. “Sorry, I meant, Kal.

Clark looked away and felt heat rise in his face. “So ah, I think we should practice before going in there.”

“Practice what?”

His slightly embarrassed expression turned one of great annoyance. “You really haven't listened to a word I said, have you?”

“Maybe it's the gallon of aftershave that you doused yourself in tonight – it's clouding my ability to retain anything beyond the previous second,” she quipped back and grinned as his annoyed expression turned into a snarl. She cocked her head to the side and shook it slightly. “So little Clarkie wants to practice playing kissy face, huh? What's the matter, didn't get enough practice with Lana? Or is that why you two broke up? Do you have intimacy issues Clark?”

Clark's annoyed expression turned to one of intense pain and regret. He felt like Lois just pounded him in the stomach, with her usual teasing she'd hit things right on the mark without realizing it. “That was harsh, Lois. Even for you.”

Not really understanding why she'd just hurt Clark so badly, Lois reached out and grabbed his hand. “Hey, I'm sorry, Clark. It's none of my business why you and Lana broke up. I'm really sorry.”

“I don't want to talk about Lana,” Clark flatly stated.

“Got it, won't speak of her again,” Lois promised. Clark stared vacantly out at the street, refusing to look at her. Knowing that she needed to fix things quickly between them if they were going to make this evening work. She grinned at him and gently took her hand and stroked the side of face from his side burn down to his smooth and silky newly shaved chin. She stroked the valley of his chin's cleft and then directed her finger upwards. She stroked his soft full lips.

That pulsing sensation that Lois had experienced in her body the entire bike ride over began again as Clark turned his face back towards her. His large blue eyes drank in the sight of his friend. Any and all traces of teasing were gone from Lois's face and her eyes were filled with concern and some other emotion that he couldn't quite place. As naturally as if they'd been together forever, Clark wrapped his his left arm around her waist and put his right arm behind her head and pulled her in close to him. Lois took her arm that had been examining his face and hooked it around his neck and tilted her head slightly. Her conscious mind swam dizzily as Clark gently tapped her lower lip with his own. He then reached out and took her lower lip between both of his large, soft, moist lips and gently began to massage it. An uncontrollable groan escaped Lois's lips causing her mouth to widen and allowed Clark more access. He took advantage of the opening and gave her a full, passionate kiss, his large lips explored every trace of her own lips. Lois felt her entire body go limp and turn to a quivering mess of nerves as her mind clouded over.

Clark pulled Lois closer to him, his fingers spread out across her back and began to massage the back of Lois's neck and then through her hair. His massaging released the fruity scent of her shampoo. Clark could taste traces of her minty toothpaste on her breath. He became acutely aware of her fingernails digging tightly into his own hair and into the small of his back. For the briefest of moments the world around them ceased to exist and for some inexplicable reason, Clark felt nothing but pure joy.

The moment he realized that, a sound broke through their bliss. A car passed by and the driver wolf whistled at them before speeding off around the corner. Clark and Lois pulled apart and grinned sheepishly at each other. Lois licked her lips and tried to locate her voice. Thick with emotion she said, “Well done, Kal.”

Clark beamed at her use of his alter-ego's name.

She looked up at him and suddenly the Lois he knew returned as she regained control of her senses. “I suppose we should be able to convince people in there if we repeat that performance. But I have to warn you, Kal or no Kal, we have two ground rules here – no tongue and no coping any feels. You break either of those two rules and I'll clobber you clear into tomorrow. Do you understand?”

A sly grin formed over Clark's face and he leaned over putting his face inches away from hers. He rubbed his nose against hers, setting her immediately on edge. “Just remember, sweetheart, those rules go both ways.” He exploded with laughter at the offended expression that crossed over Lois's face. “Come on, let's go make our grand entrance and get this investigation going and over with.”

The two climbed onto the motorcycle again. Clark gunned the engine and pointed his bike towards RedLust.

 


Chapter 7



The sight of the club reminded Clark and Lois of their mission for the evening and both put on their game faces. Clark crept his motorcycle along the line of watchers. From behind him, Lois watched the faces of the women in line fill with jealousy at the sight of her hugging Clark. She could feel their malevolent and icy stares clear through her faceplate. Clark was clearly enjoying his performance as he gunned his engine to be certain that every person in line couldn't fail to gaze upon him on his ride.

He then stopped the bike towards the front of the line and again helped Lois off of the bike. Taking her role to heart, while Clark was watching, she pulled off the helmet and seductively shook her hair out so that it cascaded down her back. Clark beamed at her, put two fingers under her chin and lightly tapped her lips with his. Then he grabbed her hand and walked towards a valet and handed him a fifty before moving them towards he entrance. Lois tried to hide her amazement as the crowd literally parted for Kal. He approached the giant bouncer, pounded out a handshake and then slid some money into the guys hand. This cleared the way for them to access the inside of the club. When they got to the stamper, Clark leaned over, keeping their hands out of reach and whispered something into the silicone filled bimbo's ear. He then flicked a bill her way and she let them through without being stamped.

Confused, Lois asked, “What on earth did you say to her?”

A sly, sexy grin spread over Clark's face. “I told her we were getting couple photos taken tomorrow and I didn't want the ink to be seen on our hands.” He noticed the slightly confused and impressed look on Lois's face and laughed. Clark and Lois removed their jackets and checked them at the coat room and then walked hand in hand into the club. Clark immediately scanned the room trying to decide the best vantage point for them to find out anything. He pointed towards the far back wall and said, “I think that there's an employee restricted entrance back there, let's head in that direction.”

Lois nodded and wrapped her arm around his waist as they wove their way through the crowd to find a place to dance. Waitresses flashed Clark sexy smiles and Lois noticed more icy glares that were shot in her direction from the women in the club. The music turned from heart throbbing techno-pop to a slow dance. Clark immediately spun Lois around and into his arms and began to move in time to the music. He leaned his head against hers, closed his eyes, and inhaled the scent of her shampoo. Lois got into character and wove her hands up his shoulders and began running her fingers through his hair. Clark opened his eyes and stared at the back door. He then activated his x-ray vision and saw a main office and a long corridor that ran through the back of the building.

His vision snapped off as Lois twisted his head so that he was looking into her eyes. She then directed his vision towards the dance floor. Clark and Lois watched as a bouncer approached a girl who had obviously recently removed her dress and gently guided her towards the back door.

“Where do you think they're taking her?” Lois whispered into Clark's ear as she nibbled on it.

Momentarily distracted by Lois's hot breath blowing into his ears, he groaned as ripples of tingling pleasure coursed through his body. “I don't know.” He then jerked his head from Lois's face and activated his super hearing.

The bouncer was met at the door by a man inside. “Darla here is ready for her closeup.”

Taking advantage of the door being open, Clark x-ray visioned further into the hallway and saw a door open at the far end. It contained a lot of photographic equipment.

“Oh god,” he whispered. Then looked at Lois when the door closed. “We have to get in there. I think they're taking girls who're highly under the influence and photographing them. The other night I was here I saw a girl remove her top, then when I went out looking for her I couldn't locate her. I think she must've gotten snatched up also.”

“So they're seeing which girls inhibitions get the most lowered by the drug and are then whisked away to become poster porno girls?” Lois asked, faking a wide grin as she kissed his chin.

“Looks like it, we won't know for sure until we get in there,” Clark replied. He then looked around and realized that some folks were glancing in their direction. He smiled slyly at Lois and captured her lips in his own. Clark opened his eyes mid kiss and examined his partner. Her eyes were tightly shut closed and he could see the edges of her lips were relaxed into a small smile. Her arms were casually draped over his shoulders. Again that strange euphoric feeling from earlier in the evening when they kissed overcame him and he deepened their kiss, closing his eyes.

What the hell is going on? he wondered.

“Kal?” Lois asked, dreamily as she broke apart their kiss before her pulsing hormones got too out of control.

“Yeah?” Clark asked, breathing heavily.

“How're we going to get in there?”

“We need to wait until they turn out all of the lights. We're both wearing dark enough clothes that we should be invisible when they activate the black lights. Then we'll sneak up there. I don't know why the door's not guarded but that's a good thing for us,” Clark offered as they changed from slow dance to fast dance mode when a new song came on.

An impressed look again came over Lois's face. “You really thought things through didn't you?”

“Surprise you much?” Clark asked, flashing her a sexy grin as he gyrated his hips into hers.

“Watch where you're pointing that weapon of yours Kal,” Lois said, moving her own hips away from being too close to Clark's pants.

He grinned. “Why Miss Lane, this is a startling new development, you aren't a prude are you?”

Lois balked at him. “Don't even go there, Kal.”

“And why not?” he teased, as blazing white and lavender lights flooded the dance floor.

“Because you wouldn't be able to control yourself if I really let go on the dance floor. And frankly I'm just not interested in seeing how you would react to that,” Lois explained.

Knowing that they were treading on very, very thin ice, Clark leaned next to her, gently outlined the straps on her halter top with his long fingers and whispered into her ear, “Why not, afraid you might like it?”

As Clark expected, Lois pounded him in the shoulder. He laughed out loud.

Acutely aware that she broke their cover, Lois said, “Sorry.”

“Don't be, I get that reaction a lot from women. Why else do you think Kal doesn't return to clubs with the same girl more than once?” Clark answered, grinning broadly.

“So you're telling me that usually you get women to fall all over you at these clubs by winning them over with your charming personality?” Lois asked.

“I know, shocker, huh?” Clark replied and laughed as she pounded him again. “Come on, let's go get a drink. They won't turn on the black lights until another couple of songs.”

“How on earth do you know that?”

“I know a lot of stuff about these places,” Clark answered, taking Lois's hand he lead her back to the bar.

Kenneth, as expected, recognized his date and grinned broadly. “Man this has GOT to be a first, no no put that away, first rounds on me man.” He handed Clark a large beer and was going to whip up a mixed drink for Lois when she gave him a puzzled scowl.

“Well don't skimp on the good stuff, give me one of those too,” Lois demanded.

Kenneth howled. “Oh yeah, she's a keeper!”

Clark grinned and pounded down the beer. Then he leaned over the bar and cocked a finger at Kenneth. “Hey man, I saw a bouncer take a girl off of the floor and into the back room, what was that all about?” Kenneth looked nervously at him and shrugged. A hundred dollar bill magically appeared between Clark's fingers and he arched a brow in Kenneth's direction. Lois stared at the bill and then stared at Clark. She wondered where in the hell farmboy had managed to get his hands on that kind of cash.

The bartender swiped the bill and whispered, “I could lose my job, man.”

“Oh come on, man, I'm curious.”

“Why the hell do you care man?” Kenneth asked.

Clark coughed and flicked his eyes towards Lois. “Oh, gotcha man,” Kenneth said.

“What?” Lois asked.

“Nothing, babe,” Clark said, dismissively.

“All I know is that if they see people get a bit too crazy they take them in the back to chill out,” Kenneth answered. Clark noticed that he was nervously cleaning the same glass over and over again.

Smirking, Clark flashed another bill in the bartender's direction but flicked it out of reach just before Kenneth grabbed it. “Come on man, what's really going on?”

Suddenly, Kenneth's eyes narrowed and filled with anger. “Damn, you've gone cop haven't you? No way man, here take this back. Get away from my bar!”

“Hey, I'm no cop!” Clark growled, slamming the money back down on the bar. “I was curious is all...I was just wondering if there's a private party back there that we could go to, that's all.”

Kenneth shook his head. “Sorry man, no party. The only party around here is on the dance floor.” Then he flickered his eyes to both of his customer's hands and under his towel he pulled out a stamp and quickly pounded it onto both Lois and Clark's hands. “Enjoy the night guys.”

Clark groaned and stared apologetically at Lois before the Red Kryptonite began to seep into his skin and veins. He put down his mug and steered Lois away from the bar, as he left he failed to see Kenneth pick up a walkie talkie and contact security.

Clark grabbed Lois's arm and said, “This is bad.”

Lois was rapidly wiping at her hand trying unsuccessfully to get the ink off. “So what do we do now?” she asked.

“We stick to the plan. Look goto the bathroom and wash that off – I need you level headed, alright?” Clark begged her.

“What about you?”

“I can already feel that it's too late,” Clark answered. Then as the words came out he felt the Red Kryptonite infiltrate his system. He watched Lois's eyes grow wide and she made to move towards the restroom. “Where are you going, babe?”

Lois paused a moment and stared at Clark, she couldn't quite place it but he was different. “To the bathroom, I'll be right back.” She pecked a kiss on his lips and raced away. Kal scanned the dance floor and his eyes again gravitated towards the back door. He knew that something kinky and wild was going on back there, he wanted a piece of the action.

Suddenly there was a commotion behind him, he turned around and saw two large security guards holding tight to Lois's arms. She was limp and unmoving.

“Lois!” Kal shouted and was suddenly filled with intense fury. He charged the men and shouted, “Get your damned hands off of my girl!”

From behind him three more security guards grabbed him, one held him around the neck, the other around the waist and the other pinned his two arms behind his back. Kal dug deep inwards to release his inner strength and managed to pull his arms free only to have the recaptured by two more guards. Collectively the group wrestled the writhing, screaming man towards the front door of the club. Kal watched helplessly as the other guards inside dragged Lois off towards the bowels of the club and towards the private entrance.

Suddenly the crowds at the door parted and Kal was thrown out into the street. The guards blocked the door and were suddenly armed to the hilt. The drawn weapons caused an immediate stampede from the screaming and shrieking crowd around them. Kal, fell to the ground and was trampled and kicked repeatedly by the terrified club goers. Anger pulsing in his veins, Kal rose to his feet and screamed at the top of his lungs, “LOIS!”

He looked around and was suddenly completely surrounded by armed guards. “Dude, just chill or we'll call the cops.”

Kal raised his hands in defeat and looked at the position of the guards around him and he knew that if they all started firing, they'd be stupidly caught in their own crossfire, especially if the bullets bounced off of his chest.

“Fine, I'll leave,” he sneered. And with a large shrug of his shoulders he stalked through the guards towards the street. As he turned his back to them a grin the size of Kansas plastered across his face as he gleefully envisioned his next move.


Chapter 8

A constant, high pitched buzzing noise echoed in Lois’s head as she forced an eye open. She felt a large painful lump developing where one of the giant security guards had clobbered her on the back of her head. The room she was in was vast, covered in red satin and was filled with groaning young women wearing black leather. Spotlights and camera equipment were scattered all over the room. She was momentarily impressed that Clark had managed to spy all of this stuff from all of the way down the hall. All of the women she noticed appeared to be chained to various manacles that were bolted on the floor and walls. She lifted her head and found her own arms were lifted over her head and chained far above her body. Her toes barely touched the floor.

She growled and thought, “Stupid, stupid Lois, why in the HELL did you believe that Smallville could handle this sort of thing? Show him one person who might be in trouble and he immediately goes into over protection mode.” She thought about how his concern for the missing woman immediately tipped off the bartender. “He should’ve said he wanted to deal the drug or something equally sleazy, but no, he had to blow our cover and make everyone think he was a cop.”

The only good news was that she had managed to wash the ink off of her hand before she was cornered coming out of the bathroom. She did manage to give one of the lugs a swift kick in the shin, but was overtaken from behind. Her headache was beginning to fade and she was able to concentrate on her predicament. Lois began moving her fingers around to see if there might be anything within reaching distance that she could use as a pick to unlock the handcuffs that were chaffing her wrists. She glanced down at her boots and spied one of the long silvery metal spikes was sticking out from the side heel. Noting that there was no one around, she jumped and swung her legs upwards. After three attempts she had managed to lock her legs over her head and desperately tried to wiggle her foot close enough to her hand so that she could try to pick the lock.

In the middle of her struggling the door to the left unlocked and a smarmy, greasy haired man holding a camera came into the room. He looked around and failed to see Lois dangling from her post. When he walked within reach she unclamped her legs, swung down and kicked him in the back of his head, knocking him to the ground.

A satisfied grin plastered over her face as she again swung her legs up and got back to work. Groaning as she kept rubbing her smarting head against the post, she managed heard the beautiful sound of one of the locks clicking. She felt her left hand free up. However, before she could do anything about it several voices sounded at the door. With her one more mobile hand, she tugged and yanked the spike out off her boot and then flung her legs back down, keeping her left hand in its lock, and the pick tightly hidden in her right fist. She then let her body go limp.

Five security guards entered the room. They immediately spied the downed photographer and looked around for what could’ve caused him to go down. Lois attempted to stare at the tip of her nose to try to make her eyes appear as unfocused and drugged out as possible. Two of the guards looked at her but dismissed her as the culprit. They picked up the man and attempted to revive him. As the large men crowded around the victim, Lois straightened up and desperately went to work picking her lock. She grimaced as it clicked open. Luckily the men were loudly talking and didn’t hear anything unusual. She dropped her hands and shook some circulation back into them and made her way to the door. With a big sigh of relief she got out before any of the thugs noticed her escape. She found the hallway to be surprisingly empty. Instinct told her to retreat back out into the club, the reporter in her, however, told her to hook a right and explore the further bowels of the club. Taking a cue from her inner investigator she slipped amongst the dark hallway’s corners and raced out of sight looking for more juicy information for her story.

*************************

Outside the club the security guard level had returned to normal. Many of those club goers who’d been in the front of the line had left, giving way for those at the back of the line room to crowd towards the front of the line to get into the club. Across the street on the tenth floor of a multi-leveled parking structure, Kal-El activated his x-ray vision and stared throughout all of the floors of the building looking for the best place to enter. Although he knew he could make it back in through the front door, he wasn’t in the mood to create another stampede. He then spied an empty, abandoned section of the warehouse on the ninth floor and smirked.

Having spent the last five minutes scouring the parking lot he found what he was looking for and ran back to his target. He had spied a large BMW motorcycle made with tough reinforced steel casings, he knew his own bike wouldn’t survive such a stunt and certainly didn’t want to ruin it. This bike was perfect, Germans made vehicles to survive anything. He punched open the lock and hotwired the bike. Revving the engine loudly he sped it to the farthest back of the parking structure and then floored the gas. Tires squealing ricocheted echoes off of the walls and the parking lot filled with the smell of burnt rubber as he sailed towards the barrier wall. Outside he could hear people screaming at the loud sound coming from the parking structure. Slamming the bike into a higher gear he jumped the barrier and sailed through the air and over the street. Using his huge upper body strength to assist him, he directed the bike towards the glass windows of the vacant room on the ninth floor. Gravity pulled the bike towards the window. Kal let go of the handlebars and pushed it straight into the window. Glass exploded and showered down on pavement below. Holding his hands straight out in front of him he dove into the window, tucked, and rolled onto his feet as the bike screeched to a stop. Kal dashed over to the window and looked outside. Since the club’s line had shifted upwards there was no one underneath the window, so no one had got hurt.

Going into Superspeed mode, Kal took off to find Lois.

**********************

Lois opened a stairwell door and peered up the silent stairs. She rapidly ascended to the second story and put her ear to the door. Not hearing any footsteps or voices, she risked opening the door to peer around. The hallway smelled strongly of formaldehyde and rubbing alcohol. She grimaced wondering what in the hell that was about. Why did it smell like a morgue up here?

Heart hammering in her chest, Lois crept down the hall towards a door with a lit up window pane that read, “Laboratory 6.”

She snuck a glance inside and from where she stood she couldn’t see anyone moving in the lab. She tried the lock but it was bolted. Deciding that revealing her location by smashing the window wasn’t such a great idea so she moved down the hall. Suddenly the floor shook slightly under her feet. Eyes wide, Lois gazed nervously around; it had felt like something had battle rammed into the building. Voices suddenly pierced the silent hallways. Their arrival motivated her to keep on the move. She charged down the hall and tried the next door and was surprised to feel it give way and open. She snuck into the room without bothering to see what it was supposed to be. Heavy, hurrying footsteps filled the hallway. Lois quickly turned around and saw that she was standing in the preparation portal before entering into a clean room. Having been in her share of labs during her years with the military she knew what to do. She rapidly stepped into a white jumpsuit and threw a helmet over her head and hooked herself up to the air filtration unit and entered the pressure room. Blasting air pummeled any impurities off of her suit before allowing her to enter the inner laboratory.

Quickly picking up a clipboard to give an official appearance, Lois made her way through the empty lab examining two large manufacturing vats that were filled with glowing red and green compounds. She picked up a chart and studied the list of compounds – XD945 and TS320…they meant nothing to her. The only thing she could determine was that those were the names of the liquids in the large vats. She moved further down the assembly line and became highly interested in looking at the information next to the cages of rats. Notes and comments mentioned losing inhibitions and apparently a complete lack of appetite or interest in doing anything. It was noted that the drug was highly addictive. She skimmed through multiple pages until she located the side effects, when the mice were injected with TS320 they were not only active but hyperactive. Four lab animals committed suicide. She furrowed her brows, not liking those results.

She flipped the chart back open to the front cover and groaned when she spied the company logo for Luthorcorp. “Of course Lex would be behind this hellish experiment,” she thought. Lois saw a few scientists sprinkled throughout the lab working diligently at their microscopes and projects. She spied a door at the far end of the room and confidently approached it. The handle opened and was followed by a blast of cold air. She shivered inside her bunny suit and found herself inside a large meat locker. The door behind her clicked shut and she counted out the large forms that lined the room. There must’ve been close to twenty bags piled in the room. She nervously gulped and unzipped the closest bag next to her. Revulsion caused her gag reflexes into overdrive as the bag contained a bloated mutilated corpse of a young woman.

Unable to stop her morbid curiosity she further unzipped the bag and saw that the body was covered in deep jagged scars and sores. She zipped it up, trying desperately to burn those disturbing images out of her head. She huddled towards the foot of the bag and read the autopsy findings, “Subject A341: Massive external injuries and abrasions received from being impaled on barbed wire spikes.” One after another of the tags provided details of victims who suffered massive injuries from the most horrific ways. None of the corpses were named.

A small monitor in the freezer showed the outer laboratory and she detected movement from it out of the corner of white suits pointed rapidly towards the freezer.

“Oh no,” Lois whispered as she spied three huge men in ill fitting suits rushing around the room. One of them stuck his ugly face in the monitor that peered into the locker. Lois tried to make herself look like she was doing something official.

A gruff voice came in over the speaker, “I don’t know who you are, but I hope you enjoy it in there, it’s going to be the last place you’ll ever see.”

Lois gasped as she heard a large electrical lock on the door of the meat locker buzz shut. She threw herself up against the door and was met with complete resistance. Panic filled her senses as she saw the security guards wave guns at the scientists and then at the door, obviously warning them not to release her from the room.

All of a sudden Lois realized that she only wore a skimpy halter top under the thin clean suit. At least she had on warm leather pants, but she knew that even they wouldn’t keep her warm for very long. She watched the scientists scuttle out of the way and avoid the locker like the plague. Trying to stay positive, Lois felt the slightest sliver of fear pierce through her usually stoic confident facade. As much as she loathed thinking it, she did know that Smallville was out there…somewhere. He’d find her…he always does.

*****************************

Kal appeared in front of the door at the end of the hallway behind the employee entrance that he’d spied when he’d been out on the dance floor with Lois. He threw the door open and stormed into the room. Two of the large security guards remained in the room, the other three had left in pursuit of discovering the source of the disturbance from earlier.

“Where is she?” Kal demanded. The veins on his neck throbbed with anger under his tight clenching of his jaw. The security guards rounded him with fists up and guns out. Kal laughed and instantly activated his heat vision on the first guard and superheated his gun. The guard screamed and dropped the weapoin leaving himself vulnerable to attack. Kal snatched the man by the jacket and tossed him like a leaf into the other guard sending them both sprawling into the room’s door.

Looking around the room Kal glanced at the faces of the women tied up in the room and couldn’t find Lois anywhere. Rapidly he went up to each victim and ripped their restraints straight out of the ground and crushed their manacles off of their wrists. The drugged women stared at him adoringly. Not having any time for their affection, he asked, “Did you see a woman come in here with light brown hair?”

“Mister, she escaped earlier. She knocked out Jerry, the photographer,” one of the girls said.

“Where’s he?”

“I don’t know, the guards took him into the backroom,”

Determination filled Kal’s pale blue eyes. He asked, “Where’d Lois go?”

“Out the main door,” the woman said.

“Get out of here, all of you. I’ll cover you so that you can get out, now MOVE,” Kal ordered, and opened the door for them. The women hurried after their savior. Three guards appeared in the hallway outside. Kal shouted at the woman to run and deflecting their attention walked straight towards the guards. One guard began letting off rounds at the charging man. In superspeed mode, Kal spun and twisted side to side as each bullet sailed right past his black shirt covered chest. The dark grey hallway filled with thick smoke and the acrid stench of spent bullets. Kal dashed behind the guards leaving whirls of smoke in his wake. He picked up the outside pair of thugs and smashed them into the guard in the center. Instantly the three huge men crumbled unconscious onto the floor.

Panic flooded Kal’s senses. Where was Lois? He closed his eyes and thought about his girl and knew that given the opportunity she would go off snooping for more info for her story instead of trying to protect her own skin.

Body pulsing with purpose, Kal was determined to tear the building apart stone by stone if he had to in order to find Lois. After glancing down the hall and seeing that the girls had indeed managed to escape unhurt, he began his quest.


Chapter 9

Lois was beyond freezing. Her body had quaked so hard that she feared if she didn't stop shaking soon she'd shatter every bone in her body. She'd contemplated taking all of the corpses out of their bags and wrapping herself in their shrouding materials but realized that for one that would be nasty and two all they would do is suffocate her to death instead. Not only that, she'd probably need years of therapy after seeing that much carnage in one place...if she got out of here alive.

She cursed her idiocy one more time. Why in the world didn't she bring her cellphone with her? “Because you were with Clark, that's why, he won't lose you, no of course not,” she muttered to herself through chattering teeth. Angrily she pounded her fists against the door again. Lois knew she was in trouble when she beat hard on it and couldn't feel anything in her hands. She held up her hands and cried out, her fingernails were dark blue.

“Clark!” she shouted out in frustration. Then suddenly the freezer went silent and roared with life as huge blasts of cold air filled the chamber. Lois screamed and immediately dropped down into a crouch and huddled herself together in a tight ball to try to protect and preserve any body heat that she might still be producing.

Overcome by the sheer blast of frigid air, Lois closed her eyes and began to daydream of warmer, happier places. Her mind drifted immediately to the Kent farm. Visions of warm sunlight bathing the farms green fields with radiating sun warmed her thoughts. She then thought of Clark wearing his ridiculously dorky red jacket and blue plaid shirts...she loved those shirts...she wished she had about ten of them right now.

“Where are you, Clark?” Whispering his name on her crusted lips, Lois slipped out of consciousness.

*****************************

Kal raced to each room on the first floor and scanned them all with his x-ray vision but failed to locate Lois. When he reached the end he darted up a staircase to the second floor. The hall was empty of guards.

“LOIS???” he shouted, his thunderous voice echoed down the hall. Again he activated his x-ray vision into each room but failed to find his friend. Panic now gripped his heart as it pounded erratically in his chest cavity. All my fault, if she's dead it'll be all my fault, he kept thinking to himself. Something grabbed his heart and squeezed it tight as he contemplated those words. A pain unlike anything that he'd ever experienced before nearly paralyzed him as he tried to push aside those ugly thoughts.

Suddenly he came across a room that looked like a giant laboratory. He walked inside the room and walked straight through the clean room vents. He didn't get two steps outside of the clean room before his entire body filled with icy-hot prickles of pain. Every nerve in his body felt as though it was on fire. As if some invisible person had knocked the wind out of him, Clark fell to the floor.

Not understanding what was going on he looked up and groaned. Before him stood a giant vat filled with green Kryptonite. Kal's teeth clenched against the writhing pain that electrocuted his body. Through his writhing he glanced down the room and spied three scientists huddled together by a large steel door, their postures were those of extreme anxiety. He closed his eyes and activated his super hearing. Barely working because of the Kryptonite, he overheard snippets of conversation, “She won't make it...too cold...I'm not willing to die for my job...”

“Lois,” he gasped. Kal gritted his teeth together and said, “I'm NOT losing you like I lost my Dad.” Using every ounce of strength he could muster, he shoved himself back towards the clean room. Upon reaching the doors and getting sprayed with warm air, he felt the effects of the green Kryptonite leave his system. He was strong, recharged, and ready to go.

Kal fled the room and ran down the hall, watching w/ Xray vision the entire way until he passed the area where the scientists were chatting. He stopped and spied into wall and saw piles of corpses and one huddled body. “Lois,” he said in a strangled voice. “I'm coming, baby.”

Before he could crash down the wall, two men rounded the corner and had guns pointed at Kal's chest. Activating his super hearing again, Kal couldn't detect much of a heartbeat from Lois. He knew he had no time. Quickly he turned on his heat vision and superheated both of the men's guns. The smell of burning flesh mingled with smoke filled the hallway. As they screamed in agony after dropping their guns, Kal inhaled deeply and blew both men into the wall, knocking them unconscious.

Free of any further distractions, Kal again breathed deeply into his superbreath powers and blew a hole into the wall. Corpses flew all over the inside of the freezer. Kal leaped over them and wrapped his arms tightly around his near frozen friend. He could tell already that Lois was far more gone than Chloe had been when she followed him to the Fortress of Solitude last year. Snatching her up in his arms, Kal raced a frozen and rigid Lois out into the warmer hallway, broke open the door to an office down the hall, closed it, sealed it shut w/ his heat vision, and then lay Lois on the floor. She had ice crystals clinging to her eyelashes and lips. Her lips, face, and fingers were blue. He removed her jumpsuit so that he could see more of her skin, which he was terrified to see, was also blue.

There was only one way that he could think to warm her up quickly enough. Carefully he activated his heat vision to it's lowest setting and began moving it slowly back and forth across her body, starting first with her torso. Kal knew that maintaining heat at the body's core was the only way to avoid hypothermia. He turned off his vision long enough to feel her upper body, it was warmer. When he placed a hand over her heart he could feel it beating inside. Water puddled on the floor and Kal began to rub it over his hand. Taking a deep breath, he then activated his heating again and scanned her head and lower extremities. Gently moving her over he heated her back until he saw her arm flop gracefully down and hit the floor.

Lois groaned.

“Lois?” Kal asked, voice full of concern. He gently turned her over and cradled her in his arms.

Slowly Lois's eyes fluttered open. Kal watched as her hazel-green eyes snapped into focus and began to study his face.

“Clark?” she asked, a bit mystified.

“I'm here, Lois. Thank god I got to you in time,” he replied, grinning from ear to ear.

A look of complete gratitude came over Lois's face as she beamed up at her friend. “I knew you'd come for me. I hate relying on others, but I knew if one person would be there for me, it would be you.”

Clark smiled broadly as his own vision cleared. His rubbing at his hand had erased the Red Kryptonite out of his system and he was back to his old self again. “Are you ready to go home?”

Lois suddenly realized that Clark was snuggling her in his arms. She blushed and extracted herself from his safe and strong embrace. “I still need that clincher detail for my story, Clark.”

“What?” Clark exclaimed. “They just about killed you and you're still worried about your story?”

Lois stood up and walked towards the closest file cabinet and rattled it open.

Clark bounded to his feet shushing her. “Lois, they'll hear you.”

“Got a pick on you. Smallville?”

“Lois,” Clark said, deepening his tone disapprovingly.

“Oh don't start up with me, Clark. The faster you help me, the sooner we can get out of here,” she offered and arched her brows in his direction.

Defeated, yet again by Lois logic, Clark approached the cabinet. He pointed to the desk and said, “Why don't you look in there for a key?”

While Lois had her back turned to him, he pushed in the oval file cabinet lock and broke it. He slid open the top drawer and started sifting through the files. Lois came over to his side and asked, “How'd you do that?”

“You must've rattled it open,” he said, handing her some files.

Lois sifted through them and suddenly looked at her fingers – they were pink. “Clark?”

“Yeah?” he asked, as he began looking through the next drawer.

“How'd you get me warm so fast?”

“Can't you tell it's hot in here?” he asked.

She scowled at him. “Smallville, you're not even hot when it's 100 degrees out.”

He could feel her eyes digging into him like a gopher into it's hole. “Fine,” he said. “I'm sorry, Lois, but I again had to wrap my arms around you and use my body heat to get you warm again.”

Lois didn't look entirely convinced. She stared at Clark and saw his expression did not falter. She shrugged and demanded, “Let's not make a habit out of this, alright?”

“Only if you promise not to keep getting into these sorts of situations,” he countered.

Looking down at her files, Lois said, “Look at this, seems that this place is being used by Luthercorp to create a special mood enhancing drug that's supposed to be designed to lower people's inhibitions.”

“We figured that much out already, Lois. That's not exactly new news to us,” Clark pointed out.

“Yeah, but look WHY they're doing it. Looks like Lex has a patent on the drug and wants to know when it'll be ready so that he can take it to the military. Why would he want to do that?” Lois asked.

“Well, if the people around you are more worried about partying than doing anything else, I guess that would be an easy way to stage a military coupe, don't you think?” Clark offered.

Lois arched a brow at him. “That's a scary thought.”

“Yeah but think of the corpses in there, looks like the drug didn't work on everyone,” Clark said.

“Right and even worse, it seems to make some people feel invincible or something. I read the toe tags on all of those people, they all jumped in front of buses or threw themselves off of buildings – they either had death wishes or they felt like they were on the ultimate high,” Lois said, filling in the blanks.

“And the girls downstairs?”

“Did you free them?”

“Of course,” Clark answered.

“Good. Humm...I'm assuming that the club owners here decided they wanted more of the pie and just plucked out the prettiest girls who seemed the most susceptible to the drug and turned them into pornography stars,” Lois said. “Wow, this is one juicy story that you found for me, Smallville, thanks!”

“Don't you mean Chloe? Don't you feel any shame for stealing her story?”

She shrugged. “It's not like we'll post the same stories, there's plenty of dirt in this baby to spread around.”

Slamming shut the file cabinet, Clark asked, “Do you have enough info? Can we go now?”

Lois shoved some files into her pants and nodded. Clark made it to the door first and cracked open the lock that he'd melted shut. Carefully he peered out into the hallway, not seeing anyone he reached back, grabbed Lois's hand and dragged her down the hall away from the blown out freezer wall. Always curious, Lois struggled to understand the carnage left behind in the hallway.

“What did you do? Blast your way into the room?”

“Something like that. Now be quiet, do you want to alert everyone to our presence?” Clark asked and threw her into the stairwell. They started towards the steps leading down when they heard the bottom floor door open. Lois pointed upwards and they fled. As soon as the guards below heard their footsteps they began to race after the retreating couple.

“Keep going!” Clark shouted. Knowing that Lois was fit as a racehorse, Clark had no doubts that she could make the twenty flights of stairs to the roof.

Clark shoved his way in front of Lois as they reached the top and snapped open the locked door for her. “Ladies first,” he said. She glared at him and ran out to the top.

“Now what? We're totally trapped,” she exclaimed. “There's no cover up here! We're sitting ducks.”

As if to further prove her point the door burst open and suddenly they found themselves surrounded by ten security guards.

“Put your hands up,” one of the guards demanded, leveling a large gun at them.

“I don't think so,” Lois replied.

Clark opened his mouth to advise not to do anything foolish, when Lois took three steps back and threw her elbow straight back and into the chest of the thug directly behind her. The man doubled over in pain. She dropped to one knee, grabbed his arm and flung him over her back.

Impressed with his feisty friends prowess and spurned into action, Clark super-sped behind the two guards who were behind him, lifted them up, and threw them into two other guards.

Lois meanwhile had a huge guard charging her way, she spun and roundhouse kicked him in the face sending him sprawling to the roof floor. Clark grabbed another guard and threw him into another armed guard.

A loud noise caused Clark to jerk his head around in a hurry. Quickly he gathered his bearings. Lois stood close to the edge duking it out her guard and a man directly across from her had just fired his gun point blank towards Lois's face.

Throwing his shoulders forward, Clark inhaled a vast amount of air into his lungs and then rapidly exhaled. The bullet flew off course and pinged against the roof floor, hurting no one. The shooter and the guard next to him flew in the air and crashed to the ground unconscious. The man next to Lois reached out and grabbed her leg as he flew over the building's edge.

“LOIS!!!!” Clark shrieked and watched Lois's head crack against the rooftop edge and she went sailing off of the building along with the guard. Clark moved faster than light towards the buildings edge.

The guard had managed to hang onto the edge, Clark took a half of a second to bash him in the face and fling him up and onto the roof before diving headfirst off of the edge. Below him, Lois rapidly flew towards the pavement below. He found himself dodging fluttering papers as the folders that Lois had stuffed into her pants had come free and were escaping all over the place. Clark willed himself to be faster than her body by tightening his arms to his side and turning himself into a human bullet. Wind flapped through his black shirt and hair and suddenly he was able to reach Lois. He grabbed her out of the sky and hugged her close to his body,cradling her wounded head. He then saw that he was getting close to the ground, twisted and turned around feet first towards the ground. Not understanding how or why it happened, Clark's feet never touched the pavement, but instead mid fall they began to rapidly ascend skyward.

Clark landed on the roof with Lois cradled in his arms. He gently laid her down and gasped in horror as his hand that had been behind her head came back covered in blood.

“Lois? Lois, baby, wake up! Lois? LOIS?” Clark frantically pleaded. His voice bubbled over with fear as he fixated on the blood that covered his hand. “Oh god,” he whispered. He activated his x-ray vision and looked at her scalp, he couldn't see any cracks, nor did there appear to be any swelling inside her head but that didn't mean she wouldn't still have a concussion. He cradled her closer to him and felt hot tears streak down his face. “Lois, don't leave me, Lois. I need you. Come back to me, honey.”

Clark held her tight next to him and suddenly felt a hand grab at his own and clamp onto it tightly. He looked down and saw Lois looking up at him with a confused expression. In a thick voice she said, “Don't worry Smallville, you're not getting rid of me that easily.”

Relief flooded Clark's senses and he kissed her on her forehead. “I have to get you to a hospital, OK?” Clark asked.

She smiled a little and then closed her eyes as he picked her up and wrapped her arms around his neck. Clark glanced around the roof, seeing no obvious witnesses, Clark jumped off of the roof, landed below, and super sped his charge towards Metropolis Emergency Hospital.

A lone leather clad figure emerged out of the darkness with a crossbow dangling uselessly at his side. Clark Kent's pleading, love filled words rang in the man's mind, “Lois, don't leave me, Lois. I need you. Come back to me, honey.”

The figure raised his crossbow, shot an arrow across the street and flung himself towards an adjoining building. He was needed at home and would be expecting a phone call. If the call did not come Oliver Queen thought, his good friend Clark Kent was going to have a lot of explaining to do.


Chapter 10

Metropolis Emergency Hospital's halls bustled with the furious frenzy of doctors and nurses racing down the halls off on important errands. The heavy stench of sterilizing alcohol, cleaning solution, and body odors hovered in the air as Oliver Queen made his way towards the intensive care unit. Jaw set in a determined snarl he spied his target hovering over Chloe Sullivan in front of a door to an exam room.

“Clark,” he said with forced civility. He glanced at Clark who was still wearing his clubbing black t-shirt and jeans. Clark looked absolutely nothing like the geek that Lois always described him as, in fact with his heavy motorcycle boots on and his hair all teased out, Oliver thought Clark looked like he could easily be mistaken for a rock star. His jaw clenched tighter at the thought.

Chloe glanced up from her notebook and she examined the cold look on Oliver's face with confused surprise.

Clark moved towards his friend with his hand outstretched. “Oliver, I'm glad you made it here so fast. The doctors are in there working on her right now.”

“How's she doing?”

Arching his brows, Clark dropped his shoulders slightly, his posture slightly helpless. “The cat scans are promising, they didn't see any permanent damage to her brain, no lacerations, or swelling, but she's got a nasty lump on her head. They said that where it happened she might have some memory loss...” Clark stopped talking and froze the partial smile that was forming on his face when he saw the icy expression on Oliver's face. “What's wrong?” Then he remembered his promise to Oliver and Clark's face burned with shame. “I'm sorry, Oliver. I should have protected her more. It's all my fault that she's here.”

“Protected her more, that's funny Clark.” Folding his arms across his chest, Oliver examined Clark like a bug in a glass jar.

A small cough reminded them of Chloe's presence. She didn't know what was going on between them but suddenly felt that she was about to become the witness to a major pissing contest. Not wanting to get caught in the crossfire, she made up an excuse to leave. “Well I'm going to call my contacts over at the precinct to get the final details for my story. Oliver, please let Lois know I'll be back later this evening to check in on her.”

Oliver absently nodded his head in acknowledgment but his eyes were still burning a hole into Clark's face.

“What?” Clark demanded.

Gruffly, Oliver took a hold of Clark's arm and dragged him down the hall, glancing into rooms, passing any that were occupied. After finding an empty one he threw it open and flung his friend inside. Clark looked at Oliver with alarm as the billionaire locked the door behind them.

“Oliver, what's going on?” Clark asked, suddenly on the defensive.

With a clenched jaw, Oliver asked, “How'd Lois hit her head, Clark?”

“She fell...hard,” Clark offered.

Oliver stuck out his lower lip and nodded in agreement. “I suppose that's a way you can put it...but isn't that a little mild of a description of being blown off of a rooftop by your best friend playing Puff the Magic Dragon, hitting your head and tumbling off of the roof and nearly plummeting towards a certain death?”

Frozen with terror, Clark heard a strange, squeaky voice ask, “You saw that?”

“Yes, Clark. You see, I got to thinking this evening that maybe you two were in over your heads and I came to help out. When I got there you two were up on the roof in action hero mode and I saw everything.”

Clark gulped. “Everything?”

A small look of disbelief came over Oliver's face as he stepped towards Clark. “I saw you. First you run over to the side of the building, pluck the punk-ass who tried to kill Lois off of the edge of the building and throw him back onto the roof and then you DOVE off of the building. Before I could even move, you shot back up the side of the building with Lois in your arms safe and sound. Not only did you miraculously save Lois but you even saved her scum bag would be killer!”

“Well he could've fallen and died. I couldn't allow that to happen,” Clark meekly said, not meeting Oliver's eyes. Lifting them, he exclaimed, “What?”

Oliver closed the distance between them and stared into Clark's eyes. “I heard you, Clark.”

Genuine confusion filled Clark's face. “Heard me say what?”

A small smirk jerked at Oliver's mouth. “You're something you know that. You play innocent really well.”

“Oliver, I have no idea what you're talking about!” Clark replied.

Oliver waited a couple of seconds. “You called Lois 'baby' and 'honey.' You said that you needed her to return to you.”

Clark's eyes became unfocused as he ran back over the events of the evening in his mind's eye. “I swear, I don't remember saying either of those things, Oliver. Are you sure you heard me correctly?”

“Trust me, Clark, your words are burned into my memory.” He studied Clark and saw that the farm boy appeared to be telling the truth. Clark was the most honest and honorable person that Oliver had ever met – he could tell Clark wasn't lying. Dammit, he never lied over things that mattered. Oliver felt small. “Well I guess grief can do that to a person, cloud his memory,” Oliver said.

Clark wanted nothing more than to turn around and think about things, but knew that backing down now would be a bad move. Instead he replied, “Look, Lois is your girl. I've never seen her happier than when she's with you.”

“I don't know Clark. You two are awefully chummy. She sometimes gets this strange smile on her face when she talks about you...it makes me feel...” Oliver let his sentence drop off and he lowered his eyes. He walked away from Clark.

“She likes you a lot, Oliver. You make her happy,” Clark repeated.

With his back turned to Clark he said, “Even with all of my billions there's something I can never give her though.”

“What's that?” Clark asked, fearing the answer.

“Protection from evil...not the way that you can,” Oliver replied. He turned around, his chocolate eyes were filled with envious longing. “How did you do it Clark? How is it that every time we meet up I learn that you've got another superhero skill hidden under those plaid shirts of yours? You're like a Swiss Army Knife is there nothing that you can't do?”

Clark shifted uncomfortably in his spot. “Well...”

“Super breath, Super speed, you can absorb electicity as if it's nothing, and what? You can fly?” A flicker of envy crossed over Oliver's face.

“I don't fly...much. I do it usually only in extreme situations when I'm not really thinking about it,” Clark answered, sheepishly. “I hate heights.”

“Why Clark? Why do you keep all of these amazing skills secret? Why do you waste them on farm chores? Think of all of the people out there who you could be helping! Or are those cows of yours really that big of a trouble that you need to spend your whole life herding them. You know, they have dogs who're trained who can do that!” Oliver spat out in exasperation.

Clark knew he was just let out of the doghouse and didn't want to reawaken Oliver's wrath. He answered, “Look, I know that there comes great responsibility with having my abilities. One day, I plan to use them but I'm not ready I have too many unresolved issues in my life right now.” Clark thought about the Phantom Zoners who were still out there and who needed to be vanquished.

“Well, I guess that's the difference between us, Clark. I know that life is precious and I don't have the luxury of time to decide what I want to do with my abilities,” Oliver replied. “I'm human, I can only stay this healthy for so long. I plan to make as much count with my life as I can while I can.”

A pang of jealousy surged through Clark. “But you'll get to do something that I won't.”

“What's that?”

“Grow old,” Clark said, lowering his eyes.

“What do you mean?” Oliver said. “What exactly ARE you Clark?”

Clark's slate eyes lifted and met Oliver's until they were even. He clenched his jaw and fought over deciding to tell him or not. He realized that the only way that he was going to be able to come completely clean this evening was if he did it. “I'm not from around here.”

Oliver's eyes narrowed and a look of awe spread over his face. “You're not human.” It wasn't a question.

“No. I'm from a planet called Krypton. My powers come from the sun in solar system,” Clark replied.

A look of excited fascination flashed over Oliver's face. “Where is this planet of yours? Are there more like you out there?”

“No. My birthplanet is gone. It was destroyed. I'm the last of my kind. I'm all alone here,” Clark answered with sadness in his voice.

Eyes full of understanding Oliver said, “I guess that's why you spend so much time being alone then, huh?”

“Yeah,” Clark said. “Can we not talk about this anymore? Not here anyways?”

“Sure, Clark,” Oliver answered and slapped his friend on the forearm.

“Are we good?” Clark asked.

Oliver smirked. “Man, all I can say is that if Lois and you actually did have something between you, there's just no way I'd be able to get in the way. I could never compete with you. I don't think any man could fill your shoes.”

Clark climbed aboard that guilt trip that Oliver just sent him on and felt nauseated. “Oliver...”

“Don't worry, Clark. We're fine,” Oliver answered. “Come on, let's go check on Lois.”

As Oliver made his way towards the door, Clark's voice stilled him. “I don't have to ask, do I?”

Oliver looked over his shoulder. In a low voice he said, “I'm assuming you've told this to very few people. I understand that and I respect it. I'm honored that you trust me, Clark. I'll never tell another soul.”

Clark smiled and took the hand that Oliver offered to seal his promise. Together they left the room then to check on Lois's condition.

***************************

After confirming that Lois was comfortably resting and no worse for the wear, Clark left her in Oliver's capable hands and returned to the club. Now well after hours, he found the place deserted and covered in yellow tape. The police had responded to the calls for the evening's disturbances and had obviously cleared out the place. A smile spread over Clark's face as he saw a large sign on the door that read “Closed until further notice.” He looked around and seeing the streets to be deserted he broke into the club, found his and Lois's jackets and the keys for his bike in the valet's box.

He then left the club and sped back to Smallville. With the bike engine roaring and providing him with white noise he was able to think over the evening's events. Although he thought about the unsavory illegal doings that he and Lois had uncovered and exposed one nagging thing kept returning to him...Lois.

Chloe's question of why Lois could get him off of Red Kryptonite when nothing else could kept haunting his thoughts. What was it about her that caused him to act in ways that were completely out of character? Or were they? Clark's head hurt as possibilities swam around in his mind. Every time he thought he'd come to a conclusion a very confusing memory would surface – like Lois's kiss out on the street before they reached the club.

Clark thought he'd experienced true passion before in his life, but until tonight he was wrong, he'd never felt anything like that before. But what did that mean?

The bike moved towards the familiar roads that led to his familiy farm. Clark cleared his mind, not ready to face what those burning questions might mean. Soon Clark was back in his barn, turned off the bike. He pulled Lois's jacket out from the storage bin on the bike and then covered the motorcycle.

He shook out the black leather jacket and a light, fruity fragrance filled the air along with the scent of leather. Involuntarily, Clark pulled Lois's jacket up towards his nose and inhaled the scent of her shampoo and spicy perfume. His heart reacted by racing in his chest. The memory of Lois's arms around him, massaging his hair and pressing her body against his suddenly felt real and he relived the enjoyable experience again in his mind.

“Oh no,” he whispered, and quickly snapped the jacket away from his face. “It can't be, you're just tired...that's all.”

Even as he said the words he knew them to be false. With that realization firmly in place he forced Oliver's face to come to the front of his memory top clear away all traces of Lois. Clark suddenly remembered something that Oliver had said to him when they first met several months ago, If I lived under the same roof with such a beautiful woman I'd mask my feeling in sarcasm too.

Clark found it difficult to breath. Holding Lois's jacket firmly behind his back and away from being able to inhale her scent again, he darted for the house. He had to get to bed. Maybe when he woke up this nightmare would be finally over.


Chapter 11

Even though he'd been up all night, Clark awoke with his alarm clock and began his chores around the farm. Desperately he tried not to dwell on the events of the past evening, but failed miserably. Oliver's taunts about the terms of endearments that he used when he thought for certain that Lois was near death troubled him greatly. More so than that, he kept dwelling on the fact that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get Lois Lane out of his head.

“So much for honor,” he growled to himself as he finished mucking out the horse stalls. Clark flung his shovel against the wall and barely heard his father's horse neigh back in confusion. Pushing the wheelbarrow of manure out towards the vegetable garden, Clark found his thoughts returning back to his rescue of Lois.

He flew.

The only other times he had done that were when he rescued Lana from the tornado and then when he was Kal-El and retrieved the first of the three stones from Lex's plane. He shuddered at that memory, how is it that side of him isn't terrified of heights? Somehow, saving an unconscious Lois from certain death felt more meaningful than either times though. “A near death that you nearly caused,” Clark mumbled as he hoed the manure into the ground under the two foot high stocks of corn.

“Clark! Breakfast is ready!”

The unexpected sound of his mother's voice interrupted him from his current prize fighting round of pummeling his guilty conscious senseless. Clark finished his chore, removed his gloves, and headed into the house. The kitchen heavily smelled of sizzling bacon, fresh brewed coffee, and pancakes. After washing his hands he gave his mom a kiss on the cheek.

“I didn't know you were going to be home today, I thought you were in Topeka until the weekend,” Clark said, smiling.

The sunlight shown through the window igniting Martha Kent's red hair like a flaming brush fire. Her blue eyes sparkled at seeing her son's delight of her surprise early return. “Well I thought for sure that the Senate would spend the entire week debating the Governor's tax reform bill, but amazingly after only two days both parties unanimously agreed on something for once.”

“Let me guess, they rejected it,” Clark responded, taking a long drink of orange juice.

Martha grinned. “How'd you guess that?”

“Politics, Mom.” Clark doused his pile of 6 pancakes with half a bottle of syrup and dug into his breakfast. He grinned like a madman and moaned with pleasure. “I miss these.”

A look of sadness flashed across Martha's face. “I'm sorry that I'm not here every day for you Clark.”

Guilt caused Clark to prematurely swallow his food. Coughing he chugged down more orange juice and replied, “That's not what I meant, Mom. You know I'm proud of you. And if that means I have to fend for myself in the kitchen a few days a week, believe me, I'll survive. You're doing a lot of good out there, I wouldn't want you here instead. Think of all of the people who would lose out on your wise leadership if you weren't in the Senate.”

Martha's cheeks flushed at Clark's compliments. A sly look came over her face. “So how's the nightlife in Metropolis?”

Clark nearly gagged on his pancakes again. “What do you mean?”

His mother tilted her head towards the laundry basket. Clark saw his sheer shirt neatly folded on the top pile. When he turned around to face his Mom, his face was flushed. He saw she was holding up a folded newspaper and part way into page twelve of the front section she showed him Chloe's article on RedLust.

“Looks like you've been helping people also,” Martha said.

Suddenly, Clark lost his appetite and leaned back in his chair. “I don't know, I didn't do much.”

“It says in the article that twenty missing young women's bodies were discovered in that club and they were illegally making drugs and trafficking pornography out of there! An anonymous good citizen uncovered the entire operation,” Martha stated with pride.

“Yeah, well, I almost got Lois killed in the process of uncovering all of that. Even worse, I got infected by Red Kryptonite so the methods on how I discovered that stuff was...well...less than legal,” Clark said, resting his elbows on the table, he plunked his chin into the palms of his hands.

Martha grinned. “I'm still proud of you. You said something about Lois, is she alright?”

“Yes. Well, at least she was last night. There weren't any messages this morning were there?” he asked, suddenly horrified that he didn't think to check the machine.

“No there were no messages. What happened to her Clark?” Martha adored Lois like a daughter and suddenly found herself feeding off of Clark's anxiety.

Clark took a deep breath and replayed for her the events from last evening...excluding a few minor details like he and Lois kissing undercover.

A look of amazement came over Martha's face when he told her how he rescued Lois from her fall. She then beamed with delight at him. “Now I'm even more proud of you, Clark.”

He leaned back, grimaced, and folded his muscled bare arms across his white t-shirt covered chest. “I could've killed her Mom.”

“But you didn't, Clark. You were right on top of things. You even saved the jerk who nearly killed Lois. You're a good and amazing young man, Clark. Don't you ever forget that,” Martha replied. “Lois is lucky to have such a wonderful friend like you who's always there looking out for her.”

Clark chewed the inside of his cheek nervously and arched a brow in disgust. “Yeah, good friend.”

Martha immediately sensed her son wanting to close off his emotions. “What's troubling you, son?”

His brows furrowed together as he collected his thoughts. “When you and Dad met, it was pretty much love at first sight, right?”

Having absolutely no idea where that out of the blue fly ball came from, Martha caught and ran with it. “I would say so. When I first laid eyes on Jonathan, I immediately knew that he was the man I was going to marry. Years later, he told me that he'd spied me in class and thought the same thing.” She smiled happily at the memory.

Clark smiled back seeing the hint of sadness in her eyes. “I've always thought that's how you fall in love. You know, when I first laid eyes on Lana, I just knew,” he said, slightly shaking his head. “I was absolutely certain that she was the woman of my dreams and that I was blessed.”

“Blessed?”

“Sure. I mean most people spend a large chunk of their lives looking for their soulmates and some never do. But me, I found mine when I was five years old. How much luckier could that be?” he asked. Martha didn't answer and waited for him to continue. “She's not my soulmate, Mom. I know that. How could she be, when in my heart I know that I can never fully trust her? My soul mate needs to be someone who I can rely on and trust completely.”

“Well your life certainly is more complicated than most people's Clark. I think it's pretty safe to say that the woman who you're destined to be with needs to be as extraordinary as you are,” Martha answered back, taking a deep drink of her coffee.

Clark absently nodded his head. “She needs to be a woman of impeccable honor and morals also. Of course, that should mean that I have them also.”

Shock flew over Martha's face. “Clark Kent you are the most honorable and highly moralistic man that I know. You truly are your father's son - don't you forget that and don't for one moment doubt that you lack either of those qualities.”

Clark ran his fingers through his hair and peered at his mother with hopelessly lost eyes. “Would a moral man find himself falling for his good friend's girl?”

That was the last thing Martha Kent expected to hear her son say. She gave him a sideways glance. “Who are we talking about here?”

Massaging his forehead, Clark stared at his mother. Suddenly a thousand little things fell into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that never seemed to fit together and had finally created a picture. “You knew, didn't you? All of this time, you knew.”

“Knew what, Clark?”

“Why else did you rent me a tux for Prom? Why were you always hammering into me that maybe Lana wasn't the right girl for me? And why, on any chance that you could get, did you invite her to stay at our house?” Clark found himself on his feet and had begun pacing around the kitchen.

Delight spread across Martha's face as she realized what her son had just said. “Lois?”

“Yes, Mom, Lois. Lois Lane who's been the biggest pain in my side for the past three years.” He raised his hands and ticked off his fingers. “The woman who never shuts up, who hogs up all of the hot water, who can't cook, who gets under my skin like no one else, who's always goddamned right about me, and who knows me better than I know myself - LOIS LANE,” Clark shouted with annoyance and threw his hand up in the air. He desperately wanted to punch something.

Martha quickly covered her smirk with her hands and threw her coffee cup in front of her face to hide her amusement.

Her son's eyes filled with this painful burning that showed the torment that was raging through his soul. He slumped his shoulders in defeat. “She's with billionaire Oliver Queen. They're really happy together Mom. And I really like Oliver. If there's a guy I'd be happy to see Lois with, it would be him. Why do I keep losing my women to billionaires?” he muttered absently.

Martha chuckled. “Clark, there's no saying that Lois and Oliver will last forever. Remember, she doesn't exactly have the greatest track record with boyfriends.”

“Right, which is why I should just want to jump right in and begin dating her, right? Wouldn't THAT be stellar? I'd go from being best friend to world's worst boyfriend because once again, I'd have to hide who I am from her,” Clark spat. He grabbed the back of his kitchen chair and continued, “She's not Lana, Mom. If she suspects something is wrong with me she won't stop looking until she uncovers the truth.”

“Have you thought that perhaps instead of lying to her, that maybe you can be completely honest with Lois?” Martha offered.

“Honest with Lois Lane?” Clark laughed. “She works at The Inquisitor Mom! I could just see the headlines now, INQUISITOR EXCLUSIVE –Absolute Proof that we are not alone - My Boyfriend IS an ALIEN.

Clark collapsed into his chair. Depressed, he picked up his fork again and shoved a large pile of soggy pancakes into his mouth and devoured them.

“Oh honey, I highly doubt that Lois would expose you like that. She cares for you too much. Besides, Chloe's a reporter and she found out your secret and hasn't revealed it to anyone. Why would Lois be any different?”

“I don't know,” he said, between chews. The worst part was though, he thought his mom might be right.

“What does your gut tell you about Lois?”

“I haven't exactly thought things through that far,” he truthfully answered.

“She grew up in the military, Clark. She understands the importance of keeping secrets, especially when it comes to protecting people that she cares for,” she said. “I know that I'd trust her with any secret that I had. In fact I did...when I took money from Lionel to help fund your father's campaign.”

“Yeah and she ended up caving and telling Dad anyways,” Clark pointed out, shoving the rest of his pancakes into his mouth.

“Yes, well that's because it was near impossible to keep anything from your father. I should have told him and not ask Lois to protect that kind of a secret from him,” she replied.

“See and I'll be in the exact same position if I told her the truth,” Clark replied. “If she knew the truth, then she'd have to cover it up for me and one day someone will come along, find her when I'm otherwise occupied and get the truth out of her. Her life would constantly be in danger!”

“She's an adult, Clark. Don't you think that you should allow her to make that kind of a decision and not you?”

Clark chomped down two pieces of bacon and chased them with a large swig of coffee. “Well it doesn't matter now, anyways. She's with Oliver.”

Standing up, Clark began to clear the dishes off of the table. As he washed his plate he felt no better or closer to understanding his feelings than he did last night. If anything, he was even more confused.

He turned around and found Martha had snuck up behind him. He quickly wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug. “Clark, you're a wonderful young man, any woman would be blessed to have you in her life.” Martha stared into her son's handsome face and continued, “If and when that day comes, I know that you'll know what to do about Lois. I think that you've known from the first moment you laid eyes on that girl that she was the one for you.”

“But I was Kal-El when I first met her, Mom,” Clark said, furrowing his brows deeper.

“Exactly,” she said. Martha chuckled at the exasperated expression that crossed over Clark's face as she extracted herself from his strong arms and picked up the laundry.

“Mom, how did you know what my true feeling for Lois were?” he asked, a timid smile forced the side of his mouth to crawl upwards.

Martha smiled. “You don't openly flirt with someone if you don't like them, Clark. You flirted with Lois even when you were dating Lana.”

She burst out laughing as Clark's face froze into an expression of abject horror and then mellowed out into a strangely smug expression. Taking advantage of the moment, Martha shot out of the room and upstairs leaving her son to clean up after breakfast and puzzle over that alarming new revelation.


Chapter 12

Clark sat on the floor of his fortress absently throwing his ball against the opposite wall. Kabonk bonk...kabonk bonk...kabonk bonk. His mind was weary from lack of sleep and over thinking about Lois all day long. He found the ball bouncing to be a soothing diversion from the constant raging battle he fought trying to come to make sense of his current problem.

Suddenly a voice cracked through his mental fog. “Smallville, I see that you’ve finally done it.”

“What’s that?” Clark nervously asked, recognizing Lois’s voice.

“Perfectly mastered the art of imitation,” Lois responded.

Clark caught his ball and stared at the object of his all consuming thoughts. She wore her favorite tan leather jacket and a red t-shirt underneath and low rise jeans. Her hair was loose and spiraled around her face. She stood at the threshold of the upper floor of the barn with her hands dug deep into her pockets. Clark asked, “Huh?”

“You’re pretending to be Steve McQueen from The Great Escape, right?” When Lois saw Clark’s brows knit together in confusion she rolled her eyes. “The ball bouncing…the time out in the penalty box when he’s imprisoned? Never mind. I should’ve known that Steve McQueen would be too cool for you, Smallville. You’re more an afternoon special, sensitive kind of guy, right?”

All of his old feelings of annoyed frustration towards Lois bubbled to the surface, Clark growled back, “I happen to like action films just like any other guy out there. I just haven’t seen that one.”

Lois grinned. “It’s a classic, Steve McQueen escapes this German war camp and is totally hot riding around on his motorcycle.”

Clark arched a brow inquisitively, watched as she moved over to the couch, and sat down. Clark stood up absently turning the ball around in his hand. “You like guys on motorcycles, huh?”

“Some guys,” she responded grinning. “Others just look sad on bikes, you know, like they’re trying to be cool but it just doesn’t work.”

“What about me?” Clark asked, figuring he’d find out really fast if she remembered anything about the previous evening with that question.

A smile ten stories wide cracked over Lois’s face. “YOU? Clark, would you even know how to drive a motorcycle? Give me a break.”

Clark let out a long sigh, she didn’t remember anything. “So I take it you don’t remember anything from last night?”

Furrowing her brows together, Lois asked, “Actually no. Everything is really hazy from the last couple of days.”

Filled with concern Clark sat down on the couch on the opposite end of her and said, “I’m surprised they let you out of the hospital so quick. I was going to come visit you this evening, but it looks like you saved me a trip.”

“Yeah well, unless you’re bleeding out of every orifice these days HMO’s kick you out of hospitals faster than you can blink an eye,” Lois replied. “You know I should write an article about that.”

“You should. It would be a nice change from the usual crap that you write,” Clark replied and immediately regretted his words.

“Great Clark, it’s just like you, always when I think that you’re going to support me your response is always wrapped in sarcasm,” Lois spat back.

“Lois, I didn’t mean….”

She saw how Clark’s face was full of regret and sighed. “Alright, save your hang dog expression for a time when it really matters.”

Gently Clark reached across the couch and put a couple of fingers behind her head. “How’s the lump doing?”

She grimaced slightly as his fingers lightly explored the large goose-egg that protruded out of the base of her head. “Well it’s not like I've just sprouted a second head, but it’s definitely giving a good impression.”

A light breeze blew through the barn and caused Lois to shiver. Clark pulled the blanket off of the back of the couch and laid it over her. She glanced at him suspiciously. “Why are you being so nice to me? Did you do this to my head?”

Fighting back the strangest urge to reach over and kiss her to shut her up, Clark squeezed his baseball tighter and forced a large grin instead. “Lois you know that it takes an anvil to fall out of the sky to crack that thick skull of yours.”

She smirked at him and shrugged her shoulders. “I just wish I remembered what happened. I read Chloe’s article, it sounds like we had quite an adventure.”

“That we did,” Clark replied, his grin softened. He found his eyes fixating on he full pink lips as he recalled their kisses.

Oblivious to his penetrating stare, Lois yawned. “I should head back to my apartment and take a nap…but I’m so tired.” Clark noticed her eyes suddenly grew very heavy and were drooping with sleep.

Clark gently pulled her across the couch so that she was nestled into the crook of his arm. He took the blanket and wrapped it tightly around the both of them. Overcome with his own exhaustion he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and drifted off to sleep.

An hour later, Lois woke up to find her arms curled around Clark’s body. The sun had dropped low on the horizon and it was getting chilly in the barn. Flickers of a dream that she’d just had resurfaced and her heart pounded in excitement from the memory. She gazed up into Clark’s peacefully sleeping face and gently tickled his chin to wake him up.

“I just had the weirdest dream,” she said in a small happy voice.

Immediately awake from his snooze, Clark asked, “What was it about?”

“Remember I once told you about having a dream of a guy in a red cape?”

“Vaguely.”

“He was back. This time…this is so weird because it felt so real.

Clark gazed into her hazel eyes suspiciously. “What felt real?”

She beamed up at him and said in a giddy voice, “He took me flying, Clark.”

“Flying?” Clark tried to pass off a ‘you’re crazy’ expression, but deep down he was terrified that she somehow remembered him saving her life.

“I could feel the air on my face and my clothes fluttered in the wind. Clark, it was a amazing,” Lois answered and nestled her head against his chest.

“Do you remember anything else from this dream?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“What?”

“He had something on his chest, a symbol I think…either a number eight or maybe an S,” Lois replied, trying to recapture a further glimpse at her rapidly fading memory.

Clark’s eyes widened and his heart raced in his chest.

“Do you want to know what's even weirder?” Lois asked, still curled around his waist.

“What?” Clark tentatively asked, eyes full of worry.

Lois stared off into nothingness, still gripped by the majesty of her dream. “It was amazing, Clark. I've never felt so safe, free, sexy, and loved in all of my life.”

Shooting an eyebrow straight up in the air, Clark repeated, “Sexy?”

“Yeah, I could feel the wind blowing up my skirt,” Lois confessed. Her cheeks suddenly burned bright red.

Clark cleared his throat and laughed. “Well that was definitely a dream if you were wearing something other than pants.”

As he expected, Lois punched him in the arm and extracted herself from his embrace. She didn't move away from being under their blanket though. Clark absently flicked a loose hair out of Lois's right eye, his heart thundering nervously in his chest.

“What else do you remember about this guy? What did he look like?” Clark asked, feeling his mouth go dry.

“I don't know. I didn't see his face. All I saw was his red cape, blue suit with a symbol on it,” Lois said. “I mostly just remember his arms, they were so strong and secure.”

Clark felt his palms suddenly go slick with sweat, it didn't take Sigmund Freud to figure out that her subconscious registered his own arms being wrapped around her and manifested them into the dream. The rest of the visions puzzled him though. After seeing Oliver's Green Arrow costume, he'd entertained silly notions of what sort of costume he would wear if he ever felt the need to do so and the colors red, blue, and yellow always came to mind; the colors of the house of El, the same colors that matched the lights in the Caves. Blue for the beautiful sky, red for love, and yellow for the sun that gave him his powers.

“Maybe your dream is telling you something,” Clark offered, trying to get his mind back into the conversation.

“Look I know that people don't go around flying all over the place and wear red capes, I'm not a head case. But maybe that cape just means that there's someone out there, someone who'll love me deeply and fill my life with excitement,” Lois said, hopefully.

Clark stroked her bangs aside so that he could see her eyes better.

Lois suddenly realized what he was doing and brushed his hand away. His cheeks burned red and he looked quickly away. Clearing her throat, Lois said, “Do you believe in destiny Clark?”

Clark had a flashback to Lana asking him the same question three years ago in the cave before the year from hell with chasing down the elements that created his stone of power. His answer to Lois was different than what he said to Lana. “I believe most of life is decided by free will, however, there are times when I think a higher power of some sort comes in and helps to push things along. Why?”

Lois squirmed uncontrollably for a moment and barked a laugh. “You'll think I'm silly.”

Clark grinned at her. “No I won't.”

She tilted her head and smirked at him, eyebrow arched. He shrugged and said, “Ok, I might. But I promise I won't laugh.”

Narrowing her eyes, Lois asked, “You swear?”

“Yes, Lois.”

She shook her head slightly and admitted, “I think this guy in my dreams might be my soulmate, the man I'm destined to be with.”

Soulmate? Quickly, Clark picked up the ball that had fallen out of his hand when he fell asleep and gripped it tightly to control the shaking of his hands. His eyes opened wide with wonder as he stared intently at Lois.

A small smirk lifted the corner of her mouth. “Well thanks for not laughing at me at least.”

Sensing that she was about to leave, Clark reached out and grabbed her arm. “Lois, I know that there's someone amazing out there for you.” He squinted his eyes and asked, “What about Oliver?”

“I don't know Clark. I like him, a LOT, but I sometimes feel like we're just too different. He's classy and I'm an uncultured army brat. What kind of a future could we have together?” Lois asked.

“One that's filled with love?” Clark said, wanting to punch himself in the face as the words came out. You really are a glutton for punishment, aren't you? he chided himself.

“Maybe, I don't know,” Lois replied, shrugging her shoulders. “Clark, I can't explain it to you, but my dream, it felt more real than any time I've spent with Oliver.”

Clark felt like someone had yanked his heart out of his chest and gave it a tight squeeze. “Well,” he said, trying to find his voice. “Then I guess you need to start looking for that guy, but who knows, he might already be in your life.”

“Doubtful, Clark. The only males in my life that I'm not currently dating are my father...eww...and you,” Lois said matter of factly.

“Right,” Clark said. Seeing that she obviously thought the idea was ridiculous, he added, “Because it would be ludicrous to think that anything could ever happen between us.”

Lois's brows suddenly knitted together. “Are you ok, Clark?”

Deflect, deflect, deflect...

“It's just been really quiet around here lately. I miss having you around, Lois. It's too damned quite on this farm,” Clark said, leaning his elbows on his knees he looked deeply into her eyes.

Lois leaned forward and placed her chin on his shoulder. She took one of his hands in hers and wove their fingers together. “You miss your Dad, don't you?”

Tears swelled up in Clark's blue eyes. He choked out, “Every day.”

Feeling her own tears threatening to crash to the surface, Lois said, “Me too, Clark. Jonathan Kent was a great man. He was the father that I always wished that I had.”

Tightening his grip on her hand, Clark said, “But, if you had a father like mine, then you wouldn't be the Lois that I know and adore. Your strict father made you the woman who you are today. You're fearless, bold, strong, and ruthlessly loyal to everyone that you love. I couldn't ask for a better friend, nor would I want you to be any different than you are right now. I wouldn't change one hair on your head.”

Terror gripped his heart as he stared into her eyes, searching for what she might be thinking. Lois was at a complete loss for words which was something that rarely ever happened. She didn't know what the hell it was with Clark Kent, but that man always managed to surprise the hell out of her and knock her completely off balance. Why did he know her so well? Instead of saying anything, she let go of his hand and wrapped her arms around Clark's shoulders, she then moved away and gently kissed him on his forehead.

A long tear streaked down her face and as she brushed it aside she bolted off of the couch and was part way down the stairwell. “I gotta go,” she muttered. “I'll see you later, Clark.”

“Lois!”

Every muscle in her body tightened as she heard him cry out her name. Lois refused to turn around to face him, she just couldn't acknowledge what was raging inside of her right now...it wasn't the right time. “Don't go there, Smallville.”

She heard heavy footsteps behind her. “Why? Oh never mind, it's Oliver.”

Lois grabbed hold of that thin thread and nodded her head. “Right, I'm with Oliver. Besides wouldn't it just be weird? I mean we've already seen each other naked, what possible mystery could ever be left between us?” She forced a large smile towards Clark.

Digging his hands into his pockets, Clark responded acidly, “Yeah, I guess you're right. There's no possible mysteries left for us to explore.”

She tilted her head to the side and glanced up at him on his top step. “Clark, your friendship officially counts as the longest standing relationship that I've ever had with someone who's not related to me. It means everything to me. And I know myself, if anything ever did happen between us, I'd mess it up.” Clark tried to say something but she put up her hand to silence his words. “Clark I'm not the woman that you're looking for. Maybe you'll find her someday, a woman who's sure of herself and knows exactly what she wants in life...someone who isn't a mess. Any woman would have to be crazy not to want to be with honorable, perfect Clark Kent.” She smiled at him and turned around and quickly fled the barn.

“Honorable and perfect, Clark Kent?” he whispered, feeling flushed and floored by that unexpected declaration.

Clark ran towards his window and activated his super hearing and listened in on Lois muttering to herself, “Good going Lois, now you somehow managed to get farm boy interested in you...well that's what you wanted isn't it? No...not now...idiot Lois.”

Narrowing his eyes, Clark ceased listening to her private rambling. He suddenly recalled a chick flick that Lana forced him to sit through one night, in it the male lead had said that if a woman turns around and looks at you right before she leaves a room, she's interested. Lois walked up to her SUV and pulled open the door. She then pointedly turned her face towards the barn window and stared at Clark.

He flashed her a wide and full smile that reached his eyes. She smiled back and then climbed into her truck and sped out of the driveway like she was being chased by a hungry and fast moving fire. Clark couldn't stop grinning. Being friends with Lois Lane was rather like living life on a rollercoaster, sometimes you could see the turns ahead and sometimes you just had to be patient as the cart slowly chugged its way up a long, steep incline before you could finally reach that thrilling threshold, grip onto the cart's railing for dear life and enjoy the weightless euphoria that followed with the long drop.

Lois Lane dreamed of a man in a red cape – twice. She believes that he's her future. Clark picked up the journal that Lois had given him last year as a Birthday present and opened it up. On the inside cover his fingers traced a Kryptonian symbol that he had begun to associate with his own unique heritage, it was a variance of the symbol of the house of El. Inside the pentagon, instead of a figure eight, Clark had drawn an S. His mark...Kal-El's mark.

S for strength, for speed, for security, and for well apparently sexiness. The corner of his lip curled upwards.

Lois had seen this symbol in her dream. She wouldn't have seen it before, she'd never been down in the caves, nor did she care about Clark's extracurricular projects in the caves.

Something, somewhere was showing this to her.

Fate.

He shivered at the thought. Suddenly a murky cloudy fog that had been following Clark around ever since his father's death lifted. The future path before him no longer felt so cold, dark, and alone. At the end of the dark tunnel, Clark saw a shimmer of a white light, he knew that it was far outside of his grasp and probably would remain out of reach for a long time. But where there was a spot of light, there was hope...hope that one day he'd be able to see clearly into that speck and see what was waiting for him on the other side. His heart thundered in his chest...somehow, he just knew that when he reached that side, Lois Lane would be waiting for him and for him alone and ready to take his hand.

No, not now....Lois.

No Lois, he thought and smiling. Not now...but someday...maybe... maybe your prince charming will come to you and literally sweep you off of your feet and who knows maybe you'll discover that a man really CAN fly.

Clark knew that the only way that would happen would be for him to fully embrace his destiny. If she was worried that she wasn't the right girl for him now, he certainly knew he wasn't in the right place for her either. He knew that she was attracted to Oliver because he dripped with confidence. Until Clark mastered that inner strength that currently remained ellusive he knew that he could never fully win over Lois's heart.

No, not now....Lois.

He smiled brightly...no, not right now...but there was hope...maybe someday, Lois Lane...maybe someday we will fly.



The End


   

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