Superman and all the stuff that go with him do not belong to me. I had no hope of profiting by this story. um . . . yeah, I think that's it.
"You," Lois said accusingly, "Mr. Do-gooder, are not going to give blood."
"That's right Lois," Clark Kent said suavely, "I'm not."
"You arranged this Blood Drive. You gave everyone a huge guilt trip if they didn't sign up, and you, yourself, are not donating." Lois had him pined against a wall. Clark had no hope of walking away form this conversation, and as usual the truth was not an option.
"Lois, please don't tell anyone else about this," he asked her, trying to sound pathetic.
"I think I'll write an editorial about what a phoney you are," she said defiantly, but she didn't go over to the desk. She knew that eventually he would tell her what she wanted to know, or sign up for the blood drive.
"Lois, if you promise not to tell anyone else, I'll tell you why I'm not giving blood."
She noticed how nervous he was acting, "What's the big secret?"
"They won't except my blood," he said in a hushed voice.
She looked at him skeptically. "Why not, you're in perfect shape."
"I know, but my blood isn't quite normal."
"What do you mean?"
"I have a disease called," he tried to think of some techno-babble medical sounding disease that would make sense when translated from the Latin or Greek. But his mind didn't work that fast and he was stuck with "Hemophilia."
Lois' eyes doubled in size, "Clark," she gasped. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Her response was more than he had expected. "I didn't think it was important."
"And to think off all the dangerous situations you've been in. Clark . . ."
"Lois, really it's not that big of a deal, I didn't tell you because I didn't want to worry you."
"This just doesn't seem right." Lois mumbled, "I feel like I've seen you bleed before." Clark certainly hoped she hadn't. "I remember!" She exclaimed.
"Where?" he asked warily.
"Smallville," she said assertively, "You got a paper cut." As she remembered the event she also remembered why she had remembered the event in the first place. "You were really worried about it."
Unbeknownst to Clark relief washed over his face. "Now you know why."
"But you've gotten into so many fights, and so many dangerous situations . . ."
"Lois, I'm fine. I always have been, and I don't see that trend changing. Let me worry about myself, Ok?"
"Yea," She said uncertainly, one thing still puzzled her. "Why did you organize a blood drive then?"
Clark shrugged and slowly walked away to get a cup of coffee. Lois followed, hanging on his every word. "I always wanted to give blood. So I thought this would be the next best thing."
"Huh," Lois sounded annoyed. "You know what, you're to good to be true."
Clark flashed her his self satisfied smile, "Why thank you dear."
She walked away curtly, not caring to acknowledged his acceptance of her compliment. Clark turned around and tried to weave his way back to his desk. The office was cluttered with people giving blood and nurses running around frantically. Clark still had about two inches to wright on a story about the fires that had broken out on the south side docks last night, and another story about how the School board had chosen it's new curriculum before the next morning's addition. But before he got to his desk, a woman whom Clark had never seen before stopped him. "Hello, Clark Kent?" She asked mysteriously, For some reason he had a bad feeling about her.
"Yes, And you are?"
"Janis Cylipso, Founder of the Cylipso Behavioral Research Center." She extended her had, Clark shook it cautiously. She seamed to notice his reservation. "You don't like me much, do you."
"I don't know you."
"First impressions are powerful things, what are your first impressions of me?"
Clark wanted to say something to the effect of 'you scare me and I want you to leave right now' but he was nothing if not tactful "To be honest you make me a little nervous."
She laughed at him as if he were a foolish child. "You met me in a crowded room, you're probably a hint claustrophobic. There are blood and needles everywhere, both of which are associated with pain. That is why I make you uncomfortable." She said in a grandiose way.
What she said did make sense for a normal person, but Clark didn't think his psyche had those particular faults, maybe if he was in a room full of glowing green rocks . . . He decided not to argue her on small points though. "How can I help you Ms. Cylipso?"
"I want you."
Odd, maybe a little cryptic, response. "Could you clarify that?"
"I want you to help me with an experiment."
Now Clark knew why he didn't like her. "What kind of experiment?"
"It's on the effect of the environment on how we relate to and see the world."
That still was cryptic. "How do you plan to judge such an abstract and controversial concept?"
"I think that you would be more open minded if we discussed it over lunch, the blood and needles will affect the way you conceive the idea if we stay hear. Let's go to a nice restaurant, my treat."
"Won't the fact that you're giving me a free meal affect my the way I conceive your ideas too."
Again she laughed at him as she would laugh to a child, he hated that. "But it will influence you in my favor."
"I see," he could tell that this girl was trying to manipulate him, but she wasn't being sneaky about it. Did she want him to trust her? Or was she playing some deeper game that reached into the way his brain worked that he didn't know about. "How about this, we go to the park and you tell me everything."
"It's lunch time." Cylipso reminded him in a sing-songy voice.
"I happen to know an excellent hot dog vendor. We can each buy our own."
"I see you won't give me any ground," She sounded disappointed but looked pleased.
"I just want to give your proposal and unbiased review."
"The park it is then. Tell your editor you're leaving."
Clark couldn't help but wonder why this woman thought she could push people around like that. Probably because it worked. Clark was going to follow her. Nervously he walked up to Perry Wight who happened to be giving blood at the time. "Hi, Chief."
"Clark! Let me just tell you that this blood drive was a great idea. "In fact I think I'll make it an annual event."
"That's great Chief, but . . ."
"Look at all the reporters in here. Most of them don't work for the planet. This is great publicity. It portrays us as kinder and gentler than the average news paper."
"I'm going out to lunch, Chief."
"Sure, have you given blood yet, Kent?"
"Why don't you talk to Lois about that." Clark said enigmatically. Then he walked away, If Perry wanted to say anything more about the subject he would have to follow, and considering that he was hooked up and giving blood, Clark didn't see that happening.
He tried to make it to the elevator quickly, so Lois wouldn't notice or ask any questions. He didn't make it.
"Clark were are you going?" Lois demanded from behind him. She had been across the room at her desk a second ago, how on earth had she waded through all those people and found him was mind boggling.
"Out to Lunch." Clark tried to walk away but Lois had grabbed his sleeve and was pulling him toward her desk.
"I'll get my purse," Clark tried to interrupt, but Lois just kept talking. "I really feel like Italian today so I thought we could go to Avanti's instead of that hot-dog place in the park. I know you like the guy, so we can walk by on the way there and you could say hi, and buy a soda or something But. . ."
"Ah, Lois," Clark was finally able to interject.
"I'm not going to lunch with you."
She looked at him as if he were joking, "Who else would you go to lunch with?"
Clark pointed to Cylipso standing impatiently by the elevator. "Her,"
Lois opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again, and after several failed attempts was able to spit out the word. "Her?"
"Yep, so if you don't mind I don't want to keep her waiting."
Lois quickly took in a deep breath and regained her composer. "Of course I don't mind, why would I?" She was lying through her teeth.
"Great, I'll be back in about a half an hour." He started to walk away slowly, as if he expected her to stop him, she didn't though.
"Have a good time," she called to him as he boarded the elevator with that woman; he waved back to her. As soon as the elevator doors closed her painted smile disappeared and a nasty scowl enveloped Lois' face. "Hay Jimmy,"
Luckily for her Jimmy happened to be walking behind her at the time. "Yeah, Lois?"
"Did you see that girl Clark was with?"
"Yep, she was pretty fine." Lois glared at him, but his mind was else were.
"Do you know who she is?"
"Well then, why don't you find out?"
"You could just ask C.K. when he gets back."
"I don't need to, because you're going to do it for me now." Lois said curtly. Jimmy sighed and went off to do what Lois had asked.
"So," Clark said as soon as they were seated on a bench overlooking the baseball diamond were a bunch of kids, probably playing hookie, had a good game going. "What is the nature of you're experiment?"
" First I need to make sure that my information about you is correct." She said, and she pulled out a little spiral notebook from her breast pocket. "You grew up the only child of two loving parents, who supported you in everything you did. You lived in a small town where you were generally well liked. In fact, your senior year of high school you were both Homecoming and Prom King. You were the star athlete on both your high school and college football teams. You went to college at Metropolis University, where you majored in journalism. You graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA. After that you decided to go around the world, and you traveled extensively for a year, where you experienced all different types of culture. After that you started working for the Daily Planet, and you have been with this job for approximately four years. You're an incredibly successful and well respected professional and in short everybody likes you." She put down her little notebook. "Does that cover it?"
"Well ... I guess," Clark's life had just been summarize in less than 30 seconds. He wasn't sure how he felt about that.
"One way to say it, Mr. Kent, is that you are perfect."
"I wouldn't say that..." Clark started but he was interrupted.
"I would." Cylipso stated firmly. " You don't have any brothers and sisters, I guess I'd like that to be different, but otherwise you are the ideal person."
"Thank you for the complements, but I thought we were going to talk about your experiment not how great I am."
Cylipso leaned in closer, "there's a very delicate balance between genetics and rearing when it comes to a person's personality. I want to see just how delicate."
Clark leaned back on the bench, away from her. "You can stop being so mystical."
"The nature of the experiment is complicated, and to be honest if I told you about it the experiment would loss it's potency. I do think that you should know that by participation in this will isolate you for about a month."
"Isolate?" Clark didn't like the sound of that.
"You will see people, but not you're friends or family. No contact with the outside will be allowed."
"So I won't know any current events?"
"Yes, and also you will be under constant supervision."
"I don't think I want to do this."
"Are you sure?"
"No!" Perry was screaming at the top of his lungs, "You told her no!"
"That's right. I didn't want to be some little lab rat."
"Well you call her right back up and tell her yes." Perry handed Clark the phone, and Clark set it down on the desk.
"Chief, I don't want to."
"It is a great opportunity, Clark. Cylipso is one of the greatest behavioral psychologist in the world today. Her books sell better than Elvis' first record, not that I think that's right you understand, but that's how it is. Now Clark, who do you think buys those books?"
"The naive populace,"
"No, the same people who buy the Daily Planet, and they would be tickled pink to read you're articles, about what it is like to be inside one of her studies."
"But I couldn't write any articles, I'd be in solitary confinement for a month."
"So when you come back we could have a big exclusive, maybe a centerfold or something," Perry suddenly turned dead serious. "I want you to do this."
"Clark," he was like a father, stern and unmovable, "Call her and tell her you changed your mind."
Clark bowed his head, he was beaten. "Yes, sir."
"Now," Perry said his tone was much, much lighter. "That's a good boy."
"No mom, I don't want to." Clark said into his phone as he packed his suitcase. Actually, he was told he only needed his over night bag. When he called Cylipso back he was told to be ready to go tomorrow at noon, and that all his need's would be meet. He could pack a small bag of personal items if it made him feel better, and it did.
"Then why are you going?"
"Because, Perry wants me to."
"You don't have to do everything the man says, Clark." His father reminded him gruffly.
"I know. But he said it would be a great story, the kind that wins a Pulitzer." Clark remembered the conversation very clearly. As soon as Perry had said Pulitzer, Lois had walked in, as if on cue. "Oh, you should have seen the look on Lois' face when she found out about the story."
"Lois is upset about it?"
"No, just jealous. She'll get over it." He paused and added, "I hope she gets over it."
"I wouldn't worry, son," his father assured him, "she'll have a long time to simmer down."
"Or to build up steam." His mother added.
"I just don't know if I'll be able to live like that, without Lois, without the two of you. I fell like my legs are being knocked out from under me." His frustration, and fear, were evident in his voice. His parents couldn't see him, but he was pacing around his apartment, trying to work out all the nervousness in his body.
"Clark," His mother said firmly, "You'll do fine. If you think that this is something you should do, then you'll put all you're heart into it and it will come out golden, just like everything else you do."
Clark's mothers words where touching, and Clark knew she meant them with all her heart, but his analytical mind was just a little too nit picky. "Mom, how can I put all my heart into a scientific study if I'm the specimen?"
Lois picked up a big cleaver knife and chopped a green pepper in half. Then she chopped it again. She diced and sliced until it was in little chunks, much smaller than the ones she needed. And all her frustration still wasn't worked out.
Why was she so mad? It's not like Clark took a story that was her's. Lois had had a normal, miserable life, she wasn't in the running. And she certainly didn't want to begrudge Clark his big break, he deserved it. He was a good writer and a nice guy. Clark deserved that kind of story. But, why couldn't that kind of story happen in Metropolis were Lois could be there to help, or at least to talk to. She was going to miss him coming to ask her about his story. Who was she kidding, she was going to miss him helping her with her story, she was going to miss having him always there for moral and emotional support. She was going to miss the way he always edited her copy, and told her he liked it. She was going to miss the way he always told her to be more social, the way he told her to be kinder, and reminded her to be safe. She was going to have to do without for a month, a relatively short period of time. She could do it. "Who need's Clark?" She mumbled to herself. Then she came to the horrid realization that she did.
Suddenly a blast of frigid air assaulted her. She turned around to close the window but she quickly discovered there was someone in her way. "Superman," she said breathlessly. Clark might be abandoning her, but at least Superman never would. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to tell you I'm leaving."
Lois could feel her heart sink, "Leaving?"
"Not permanently, but for a month or so."
"No," She said quietly, tears where forming at the corners of her eyes. Why would he leave her, how could he? "We need you."
"I know, I'll be back as soon as I possibly can."
"But were are you going?"
"I can't tell you." He said nervously.
"Why not?" Lois demanded, if all the men in her life were going to abandon her she felt like she had a right to know why.
"Lois, you trust me, don't you?" The deep sad look in the back of his eyes reviled to her that he was as sad about losing her as she was about losing him.
"Yes," she said reluctantly. "I just don't want you to go."
"And I'd rather not. But this is something, I have to do."
Lois took a deep breath and looked up at him trying to be a good sport. "It must be pretty important."
"Some people think so."
"But you don't?"
"As I said, I'd rather not go."
Lois took a step closer to him. He did the same, the were very close now. Close enough to kiss. "I'll miss you."
Superman blushed, "I'll miss you to." Lois leaned forward, as did Superman. There lips meet.
"So, this is it." Lois tried to sound chipper, but it didn't work.
"I'll only be gone for a few weeks. It's not like I'm moving away." Clark reminded her.
"Oh, I know." She looked at him as he nervously tried to get everything in order before he left. There was no need, Perry wouldn't rent out the desk. And Clark was disgustingly neat, Lois figured that he was just trying to keep busy. "Did you see superman yesterday?" She asked casually.
"You don't sound very certain."
"Yes, he visited me to say he was going to be gone for a while."
"Did he tell you why."
"No, I didn't ask."
Lois looked at him as if he was crazy. "Why not?"
"If it was important he would have told me."
Lois looked away annoyed so she didn't see that Clark was smiling. "It makes it a lot harder to write a story about Superman being gone if I don't know where he went."
Clark drew himself away from his pencil organizing. "You're not going to write a story about it are you?"
"Well, it's news . . ." Lois said casually.
"Lois, if people know that Superman won't be around to uphold justice, what will keep them from committing crimes?"
"Clark, not every person out there is a criminal."
"Lois, that's not what I mean. I'm sure that the knowledge that superman could catch them stops a lot of 'would be' criminals."
"You have no evidence of that."
"No, but it makes sense, doesn't it?"
Lois didn't answer. Clark looked at her, trying to prompt a response, finally she threw her hands up. "Fine Clark, it makes sense."
"Then you won't write the story?"
"No," she moped, "I won't write the story."
"Good, now, do you want to go out to lunch?"
Lois glanced at the clock. "It's not even noon yet, you can't be hungry."
"They're coming to pick me up at noon. I want to eat before then."
"Right," she sounded disappointed, "Let me get my purse, you go tell Perry."
At noon Clark stood outside of the Planet waiting nervously. His hands were sweating and his throat was dry. Lois stood outside and waited with him. "Are you nervous?" she asked absent mindedly.
"Yes, I really don't want to do this."
That answer surprised Lois, "Why not?"
"I don't want to be a specimen, and quite honestly I think I'll skew the findings."
Lois laughed in his face, "Clark, you are nuts! You happen to be Mr. Joe Regular, you were made to take surveys and . . ."
"Participate in social experiments?" Clark prompted, and she wacked him with her purse. "Whad'ja you do that for?!"
"You were making fun of me,"
"You were making fun of me!"
"Clark I called you average, that's not exactly an insult."
"Lois, you of all people should know that no one is average."
They stood in silence for a second. Then a black BMW pulled up, with Cylipso in the front seat. "Are you ready, Mr. Kent?" she said, almost seductively.
Clark glanced at Lois. Last night as Superman he had kissed her goodbye; he wanted to kiss her again. "You, don't want to keep her waiting," Lois said nervously.
"Right . . . um, ah, goodbye Lois."
"Bye, Clark." The two of them stood there for a second not quite sure what to do. In their minds they knew it was only a month, then they would be back together. But neither of them felt comfortable with the situation. Finally Lois stepped forward. "Can I have a hug goodbye?" She asked sweetly.
Clark opened his arms and embraced her warmly. For some reason it felt even better than the kiss last night. He smelled her hair and felt the slow rising and falling of her chest and the thump of her heart beat; he committed them to memory. After a second they pulled away from each other. But before the embrace was truly broken, Lois snuck a sweet kiss on to Clark's check.
"Mr. Kent?" Cylipso said with annoyance in her voice.
"I gotta go."
"Right." Lois pulled away completely controlled but noticeably more sober. "See ya around, Kent."
Clark got into the car. "See you around, Lois," Clark called as the car speed away.
27 Days Later
Metropolis was doing fine without Superman, the Daily Planet was doing fine without Clark Kent, and Lois Lane kept telling herself she was doing fine without either of them. Lois was strong, a woman of the nineties whos identity was not based on male counterparts. She didn't need Superman or Clark. She had been a successful reporter before they had come, and now that they were gone she was still a successful reporter. Except she was a very vary lonely one.
Superman's absence was not that bad. She only really saw him if there was a disaster, and there hadn't been any. It was just the knowledge that if there was a disaster, he might not be around to save her and everybody else, that bothered her.
Clark's absence was like torture. For the first week she had kept expecting him to walk up behind her and tell her that one of her words was spelled wrong, or she had a misplaced preposition, or a comma error, or something; as long as he was reading over her shoulder. But of course that never happened. At lunch time she found herself alone, at first she went to the park and got a hot-dog from Clark's favorite vendor, but after a while she realized that that only made her miss him more. So she decided to work over her lunch break and send Jimmy out for food. Soon it occurred to her that she could send out for dinner too. After about two weeks of living at the Planet, Perry decided that Lois's new lifestyle couldn't be healthy. He ordered her to take a weekend off and relax, spend times with her friends, and not think about work. So on Friday afternoon Lois was desperately trying to think of something she could do that would be non-work related.
"Go see a movie or a play," Jimmy suggested.
"Who would I go with?"
"I've got a whole list of guys." Cat offered.
"No thank you." Lois grumbled. "If I'm being forced to spend a weekend relaxing, I'd rather not spend it with some wired guy off the street."
"Suite you're self," Cat said smugly.
"You could go up to the mountains and ski." Jimmy offered.
"Again, weird guys of the street."
"I just think you're determined to make your self miserable." Cat observed.
"I am not!"
"You're certainly not trying to make the best out of the situation."
"What are you all arguing about?" Perry asked, cutting of the feud before it escalated into more heated discussion. "Lois, what time is it?"
Lois glanced at her watch, "About quarter after five."
"When does a normal work day end?"
"Five o'clock." Lois could see where this was going, and she didn't like it.
"So, the normal work day would have ended 15 minuets ago."
"I guess." Lois said with great intrepidation.
"Which would imply that the weekend has been going on for fifteen muinets."
"I thought I told you to take the weekend off."
"You did, Chief."
"Then why are you still hear?"
"We were helping her figure out what to do on her weekend off." Jimmy said, but Perry just glared at him. Jimmy shrunk under the gaze and scampered off like a puppy who had been hit by a rolled up news paper. Cat just smiled at Lois and slinked away.
"I'll go now," Lois said timidly.
"Why don't you do that?"
Lois didn't want to go home, but she didn't want to be in public alone. She decided to walk in the general direction of her apartment and then maybe by divine inspiration she would find something to do.
As she walked down the street she passed a news stand, she was going to pass right by it but as she walked by something caught her eye. It was a woman's magazine about child care and how to make good brownies, but on the cover was a picture of Janis Cylipso. Lois picked it up and started flipping through the pages until she found the article about Cylipso, it was titled "How do You get Perfect Kids?: a parent's guide"
"Hay Lady!" The stand owner called if you wanna buy it, you have to pay for it."
Lois had been engrossed in the article, she looked up with a start. "How much?"
Lois opened up her purse and dug around for some cash, after much scrounging she was able to produce two dollars, 75 cents in quarters, 60 cents in dimes, and 15 cents in nickels. "Hear you are," she started to walk away but the stand owner yelled after her. "You got eighteen cents in tax!"
"Oh," Lois moaned, she really needed the magazine, but she hated to carry cash. "I might have that many pennies."
Lois had read the article eight times, and every time she read it she got sicker and sicker. "This woman is an animal." She muttered to herself. The entire article was sugar coated, which Lois had expected, and because of that she had tried to read for euphemisms, and she found them. When Cylipso discussed he method chills ran down her spine. 'My experiments are more affective because I have specimens who I can observe, I don't just make guesses about people in uncontrolled environments.' She was keeping Clark in a cage, controlling his environment. Clark loved spontaneity, how could he live for so long in a controlled environment, thought of as a specimen.
'Our psyche is not stable in the least,' she said, 'changes can affect us drastically, Just consider the changes seen in war veterans. I've seen those types of changes in my specimens.' To prove her point, she was putting Clark through something as traumatic as war. How could any human deliberately do that to another, and after that brag about it. The woman was inhuman, that was all Lois could think about. Her course of action was clear, she had to find Clark and save him. But she didn't have any idea where he was.
Her first impulse was to call Perry and start a huge investigation. But she knew Perry, he would only yell at her for not relaxing, and say something like, 'Clark will be home in six days, how big of a problem can it be?'
Her next thought was to call Jimmy, but he wouldn't be home for another hour or so, and she didn't dare call him at the office. She tried to think of all the people who cared about Clark and who could help her out. The list was long, it would have been easier to write down all the people who didn't care about Clark. But when she critically reviewed the list she discovered that no-one would be of any particular help. She was frustrated to the point of tears. Out of vain hope she walked over to her window and opened it. A cold breeze assaulted her, and she felt as if her tears were going to freeze to her checks.
"Superman," she called out. "Where are you?!" She waited, no answer. Superman was no were to be found when Clark needed him most. Lois closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. Maybe she was doing this all wrong, maybe help as she usually thought about it would be fruitless. What she needed was Clark to bounce her ideas off of; he always seemed to have the best ideas. Well, talking to Clark was not an option, she needed to find someone who thought like Clark, someone who would know just what to do, and someone who would be supportive. She couldn't think of anyone like that, until she looked down at the title of the article, "A parent's Guide." She mumbled to herself. "Clark's parents, John and Martha."
She frantically started looking for her address book. Clark had given her their number in case she ever needed him and couldn't find him. He spent a lot of time in Smallville, he always talked about his parents. "They'll know what to do," muttered with some assurance. "If only I can find them." Her address book was eventually found on her night-stand next to her bed.
"Oh, be home." She begged the ringing phone.
Finally after what seamed like an eternity someone answered. "Hello, Kent residence."
"Martha?" Lois gasped.
"Yes, who is this?"
"It's Lois Lane, and I really need to talk to you."
"Why of course dear, what's on you're mind?"
"Clark is in real danger."
"What . . . what kind of danger?" Martha's voice was filled with concern. Lois all of a sudden she wished had been more tactful.
"I have reason to believe that the woman who he is helping with the experiment has done some terrible things to him."
"Like, what?" Lois could tell that it was hard for Clark's mother to ask that question.
"I don't know exactly, but I think that she's trying to bring out his bad side. Listen to this, 'after only a few week's of experimentation I have been able to change the behavior and expectations of my specimen, with more time it is quite possible I will be able to change his personality permanently.' That specimen is Clark."
"Oh, Clark." Lois wasn't sure but she thought she could hear Martha crying.
For a moment there was confusion in the background. At last a new voice, that of Jonathan Kent, came through. "You say Clark's in trouble?"
"Yes, It's only speculation, but . . . yes."
"What can we do to help?"
"I . . . I don't know."
"There must be something we can do. Maybe we can come up there and . . ."
"No, Clark is still with that psycho, Cylipso. We need to get him out right now. Before anything else happens."
"Do you know were he is?"
"I hoped you would."
"He didn't even know where he was going to go." Martha sobbed, she must have gotten on another extension.
"There must be some way . . ." Lois began, but her thought was interrupted when she glanced down at the magazine, their was a picture of Cylipso with a cat on this beautiful sun porch. The picture's cation read, 'Janis Cylipso in her office in Little Rock, AK. Where she does all her research.' "Clark's in Little Rock."
"How do you know?" Jonathan asked.
Lois didn't think she had time to answer nit-picky questions. "I'm going to fly into little Rock and somehow get Clark out. As soon as he's free we'll head over to you're house, so Clark can . . . become himself again."
"Lois, you won't do anything to dangerous will you?" Martha asked, the same way Clark would have. Lois felt more reassured already.
"Don't worry. I'll call you as soon as I know more, Ok."
"Ok," Jonathan said at length.
"Great, Goodbye." She hung up the phone without even waiting to here the distraught parents say farewell. Immediately she dialed Jimmy's home number. The kid should be home by now.
Lois waited for the phone to ring for about ten minutes. As she waited Lois frantically packed an overnight bag. Finally Jimmy answered the phone.
"Hi," he said breathlessly, he had hurried the phone ring and run to it, bumping into a chair and a table on the way.
"Jimmy, We're going to Little Rock."
"Lois, is that you?"
"Start packing. I need to call the airline and get tickets. We need to take the first flight we can get."
"Lois, is this you?" Jimmy asked again.
"Yes, who else would it be? We don't have time to waste, start packing."
"Why do we have to go to Little Rock?"
"To save Clark."
"You lost me,"
"Jimmy, trust me." Lois said seriously, "Now I want you to be standing outside you're apartment, packed and ready to go in Fifteen minutes."
Jimmy didn't know what to make of the situation. Lois was extremely worked up and it took a lot to get such a seasoned reporter so excited. She also had mentioned something about saving C.K. Jimmy had no idea what that was supposed to mean. But Lois was dedicated and had the most amazing intuition. Jimmy started to dig through his Closet and pack a small bag. Then he had to ask his neighbor to feed his fish while he was gone.
They arrived in Little Rock at twelve midnight. "The first thing we have to do is find out were this Cylipso person is. As soon as we find her, we'll be able to find Clark."
"Shouldn't we check in a hotel first or something?"
"No time." Lois walked over to a wall of lockers and shoved her bag in one, Jimmy promptly followed suite. He was about to throw his camera bag in to but Lois stopped him. "Keep it, you might need it around."
"Evidence, for the police." She slammed the locker and struggled, trying to get the key out. "If Clark is injured you'll need to take pictures," It finally popped out. She tossed it to Jimmy who put it in his camera bag. When he looked up Lois was already on her way out the door. He had to jog across the room to catch up with her.
"Lois, I don't think I'd like that,"
"Takin' pictures of C.K. like . . . like that."
Lois stopped for a second and looked at the young photographer. "You're right," she said quietly. "I'm sorry."
Jimmy had no idea how to respond to that. Lois had let down her iron demeanor and it spooked him.
She didn't lose in for long. "Come on, we have to find Cylipo's."
The Cylipso Behavioral Research Center was three miles outside the Little Rock city boundaries, nestled in the middle of a cornfield. As they approached it Lois was filled with dread; it had the feel of a mediaeval castle. Dark, dreary, and impenetrable. "Oh, Clark." Lois moaned. Somewhere in that castle he was being healed prisoner, tortured for the satisfaction of some twisted witch. Lois's determination was strengthened.
"Did you bring your press card, Jimmy?" She whispered. They were still quite a distance from the actual complex but Lois didn't dare speak any louder.
"It's in here." he patted his camera bag.
"Alright, we're in."
"Lois Lane, Daily Planet." Lois told the guard who was obviously not used to dealing with people.
"Our paper is going to do an extra on Janis Cylipso and her operation."
He certainly wasn't on top of anything. "We need to get in and conduct interviews, take pictures, generally get a feel of the place." Lois gave him her best, sweetest smile. He seemed unimpressed, but he did turn around to look at the list of acceptable people to let in, and that's when she saw them.
Several T.V. monitors viewing the outside of the building and different hallways, but one was different. It was a viewing room with a cot in it. Clark was sleeping on that cot. Lois suddenly became very excited. "Jimmy," she whispered, take a picture."
The guard turned to look at them, "You're not on the list but . . ."
"Sir!" Lois said excitedly, we would like to take a picture of you, for are article."
She leaned over the desk and pulled him to the right, so that the T.V. with Clark on it would be clearly visible. "There sir, now Jimmy, take a picture."
"Ah, Lois I'm not quite sure . . ." He started, but Lois pulled him aside before he could finish.
"Clark is on the far right monitor on the second to the last row. He's here. I need you to distract the guard so I can get him out." She hissed.
Jimmy smiled broadly at her. "Anything you say."
Lois turned around, even perkier than before. "All right sir, my assistant, Mr. Olsen, is going to take a few pictures and ask you a few questions. You said we're not on the list?"
"No, I, uh . . ." Not the brightest guy in the world, things were going to be easy. As long as Lois talked fast she had a feeling that he wouldn't be able to keep up.
"That's fine, I'll just have to call Miss Cylipso. Jimmy why don't you . . ."
"Interview the night-watchmen?" Jimmy prompted.
"Right," Jimmy was a god send, she'd have to see that he got a raise soon. "I'll be off, but before I go, where's the bathroom?"
Clark was having that dream again: all the colors and the shapes seemed to melt, mix and dissolve around him. The walls would morph into the faces and forms of people he knew. On one wall Perry would suddenly appear, but would vanish before Clark could reach out and touch him or get a word out. His mother would appear on another wall, and Lex Luther on a third. And all the faces of people he knew, or had meet, or had just seen on the street, would form from the ebbing colors only to dissolve in a second. Some would laugh at him, struggling to comprehend the chaos around him, some would cry to see him so lost and forlorn, but most just looked on with academic interest. The worst part of the dream was that Superman would hover above him and laugh. Clark would try to jump up and pull the Man of Steel down, or perhaps just touch the end of his cape, but he could never jump high enough.
Lois crawled through the center's air ducts aimlessly. Clark was there somewhere; Lois would find him even if that meant looking in every room in the entire complex, but she hoped it wouldn't have to come to that. She glanced in to several offices and larger rooms that had no designated purpose which she could discern. The search was beginning to seem hopeless. She stopped for a break after crawling for over an hour. She was hot and sweaty. She had assumed that the air ducts would have nice cool conditioned air running through them but she was mistaken on that point. There seemed to be almost no air flow and a lot of dust. "You'd better be thankful, Clark." She mumbled.
She had stopped in front of an air vent that lead into a very nice office. Out of pure curiosity Lois shone the little flashlight that she took with her everywhere through the grate to see just how nice it was. To her surprise she recognized the place. It was the same office that Cylipso had been in for her picture in the magazine. Lois couldn't believe her luck. "Bingo," she said silently. If there were any answers they would be here. She opened the air vent and slid into the office.
She didn't dare turn the lights or the computer on so she just had to hope that all the information she needed would be on paper somewhere easy to find. Again she was amazingly lucky. On the desk there was a file named simply KENT. Lois opened it and found everything she wanted to know, and several things she didn't.
* * *
He was still trapped in his surreal world. Voices were making noise, but no one was saying anything. Then cutting through the banter he heard "Clark." It was his name, crisp and clear, he didn't know when the last time he had heard it was. Better yet was the fact that it was Lois's voice that said it. In front of him, Lois' form appeared, he walked toward her, expecting her to vanish as soon as he got near, but she didn't even falter. "Lois?" He asked the spectical. He hadn't heard his own voice for so long it sounded alien, as if some other person was talking.
"Clark," she said again, and then reached out to him, "We have to get out of here." She took a step closer, Clark took a step back. He wanted to go with her, but he couldn't shake the fear that she was gong to hurt him in some way. She continued to advance and he continued to retreat until he found himself up against a wall. "No," he begged her. But she didn't listen she walked up to him and grabbed his shoulders.
Clark opened his eyes with a start. Hovering over him was Lois's face, and her hands were prying into him like a hawks talons pry into it's prey. He was disoriented, confused, and terrified. He quickly grabbed her hands and pulled them off of him. "What's going on?" He demanded.
Lois hadn't expected such a violent response from Clark. He was always kind and levelheaded. But she hadn't taken into account the fact that he had been changed by Cylipso's experiments. She should have been ready for anything. "Clark, let go" she begged. He was squeezing her hands and she couldn't pull them away.
"Why are you here?" He showed no singe of registering her plea. His breathing was harsh and there was a wild look in his eye.
"You're hurting me, Clark." Tears of pain and fear started to form in the corners of her eyes. She had never, in her entire life, thought that she would have to be afraid of Clark.
"What's happening?" If Lois could have looked into Clark's eyes she would have seen that he was as frightened as she.
"Clark, please." A tear rolled down her cheek and fell off her face. It tumbled through the air for a second before it splashed on Clark's cheek. That tear seamed to break the spell, the same way Rapunzel's tear opened the eyes of the Prince. Clark relaxed his hands and Lois pulled hers away as fast as she could. Her survival instincts told her to run away. Clark was erratic, unpredictable, and definitely unsafe. But her motherly instincts, which were so often suppressed, won out. "Clark, what did they do to you?" She asked.
Clark didn't answer, he just lay in his bed trying to calm down and center his thoughts. Lois walked over to him again, this time much slower. "Are you all right?" she asked nervously. He opened his eyes and looked at her skeptically. She reached out her hands to show that she had no weapons. That probably wasn't the most clever thing to do, but Clark showed no signs of attacking. "You know me, don't you, Clark?"
"Of course I do, Lois." he said quietly, still examining her. He expected her to disappear at any time.
Lois wasn't quite sure what to make of how he was acting. "I'm going to get you out of here."
Clark didn't answer her. He seamed to be lost in thought. She took a step closer, and reached out a hand to her to touch his shoulder and pull him out of his contemplations. But before her skin could touch his, he pulled away form her violently. "Please, don't."
Lois didn't know what he meant, but she pulled her hand away regardless. "Come with me, I'll take you away from here and all the nightmares you're been through."
Clark looked at her critically for a second, she stood still, letting him sum her up. Finally he pushed himself out of bed. "We need to leave now, they come every morning." He walked quickly to the door. It was locked, "Do you know the code?"
"Yes," She was startled by his sudden determination.
"Open it, please hurry, we have to get out fast."
Clark seemed to be more and more himself. Maybe Cylipso hadn't really changed him. Maybe he had just figured out how to respond the way she wanted. "Don't you need to get anything," she glanced at his feet and face, "Like shoes or glasses, before we go?"
"I don't need any," Clark said without hesitation. "Open the door."
Lois complied and soon found herself trying to keep up with Clark who was running down the halls. Clark was very aware of Lois, he didn't want to lose her, so he tried to run slow, but the amount of adrenalin in him was making it very hard not to smash in a few walls and get away from the place as fast as a speeding bullet. But for three weeks he had not used any of his powers, he was used to it. Finally they reached a door that said EMERGENCY EXIT, without hesitation Clark tore through it. He was outside, he was free. Lois was ten yards behind him and saw him bolt out the door. "No," she tried to tell him, but it was to late. As soon as the door was open sirens bleated, and everyone in the complex knew that something wasn't right.
Clark stopped running once they were about a half a mile away from the complex. "What were you thinking?!" Lois screamed. Clark looked at her, perplexed. "Now they know you're gone!"
"You're worried about that?"
Lois stared at him. Something somewhere in that brain of his was not connecting. "We have to get out of here." She went over to him he backed away. "Come on." She finally said. After a second of hesitation Clark decided that it would be best to follow her.
Lois had decided it would be better to rent a car opposed to public transportation. Clark was not himself; actually it would be a stretch to say he was anyone normal. He was acting schizophrenic, paranoid. He would stare at people as if he expected them to disappear, he would shy away whenever anyone got close to him, he would speak cryptically and avoid any conversation concerning where he had been and what had happened to him. He was unusually introspective and reserved. Every time she looked at him Lois felt like crying. When they finally got to Smallville Clark's attitude seemed to take a turn for the better. As Lois had suspected, being home had awakened in him all the good feelings of child hood and growing up.
As they pulled on tho the dirt rode that lead to the Kent's farm house, Clark was smiling for the first time seance he had been liberated. "Look familiar, Clark?" Lois asked tentatively.
"Of course it does, I don't have amnesia." As he said that his smile dissolved. "Lois, they won't come here, will they?"
"Who?" She asked but her attention was immediately pulled away from the conversation. "Jimmy, Look out for the bunny!"
The car swerved suddenly. "Where did that come from?" Jimmy said excitedly.
"The farm house is just over there, you don't have to drive so fast." Lois said critically.
Clark's question was never answered.
Eventually Jimmy pulled the little rental car up next to Jonathan's old pickup. Clark saw his mother and father running of the front porch to great them. Clark suddenly felt his palms begin to sweat. His Mother was going to want to hug him, he knew it. She was going to want to touch his face and push his hair out of his eye's. Clark hadn't been touched in a positive way since that last hug with Lois. He was nervous, he couldn't curb the urge to flinch. But surely he could let his Mother touch him. His parents had never done anything that was not in his best interest, of all the people in the world he could trust them. But as his mother came towards him, with her arms extended, Lois pulled her aside before she reached Clark.
"Don't try to touch him," Lois said in a hushed voice, most people wouldn't be able to here. "He's not ready for that yet." Martha looked at Lois, she didn't know what 'not being ready' meant, but she trusted the reporter. Clark wasn't sure what it meant either, but he did know that his mother stopped trying to get close to him, and satisfied herself with just waving.
"Hello Clark," She said sweetly
"Welcome home son." His father said warmly, but he didn't take one step forward to embrace his son.
Lois had somehow gotten his parents not to touch him as well, why? What was her game? Clark decided that until he could figure out what exactly was happening, he would have to be extra alert and extra observant.
Lois and Martha stood looking over Clark's shoulder, and he couldn't shake the feeling that they were judging him, and everything he did.
"I'm done." He finally said when he had come to terms with the fact that he was never going to be able to live up to what his partner and his mother were expecting of him. That morning at breakfast Martha had suggested that Clark try some art therapy to "work out the demons in a different way." Clark didn't like the idea one bit, but he had a very hard time saying no to his mother, not to mention Lois.
"I don't like to paint," he had insisted. "I'm not any good at it. Let me go out with dad and Jimmy to split wood. I can do that."
But splitting wood was not deemed therapeutic by Miss Lois Lane who apparently had a minor in psychology. Neither Clark's father nor Jimmy felt that they were in any position to dispute the women's claims, so Clark was quite literally left to their mercies.
Lois reached over Clark's shoulder and picked up the painting. She went out of her way to be sure that her body never touched Clark. "I like it." She said at length. "What is this big brown mass supposed to signify?"
"A rabbit? I don't see," she held the picture close to her, and then slowly drew it back, "Well, yha, if that's the tail."
"I thought those were the ears." His mother said, pointing to the section Lois had just dubbed the tail. Clark put his head in his hands and started rubbing his temples. What where they doing, and why did they find it necessary to inflict ego destruction. Was that what Lois meant by "therapeutic"? Cylipso had had some interesting takes on that word as well.
"Really, it's a nice painting, dear." His mother was trying so hard to sound supportive, but she didn't reach out and squeeze his shoulder or pat his arm. She stood cold and aloof.
"Are you going to put it on the refrigerator?" He asked sarcastically.
"If you want me to."
He just groaned and continued to massage his temples.
"Clark, what were you trying to express with this rabbit? Do you feel hunted?"
Yes, "I was expressing a rabbit."
"Or maybe you are nervous," his mother offered.
Yes, "It's not even a good rabbit."
"Jimmy almost hit one of these things driving here. Do you fell like it, helpless?"
Yes, "Stop it! Sometimes a rabbit is just a rabbit!" Clark exploded. Neither Lois nor his mother has ever seen him so angry before. "I didn't want to do this in the first place! I'm not going to bare my inner soul with the help of water colors!" He left the room in a huff, and he wasn't quite sure what had made him so angry. Maybe it was the fact that they seamed to be able to figure out exactly how he was feeling from a misshaped rabbit.
Clark walked into his old room and slammed the door behind him. It shuttered with the force of his blow, but a long time ago his father had reinforced the door. It didn't fly off it's hinges like most doors would. He paced around the room wishing he could punch something or someone. He had so much negative energy in him, and fear and helplessness, and there was no outlet. He wished he could fly out to Antarctica and unleash it on a big block of ice. But he would have to make sure that no one saw him; obviously Lois and Jimmy couldn't know about it, and his parents would have objections to him leaving like that. So his only option was to pace around his room and wish he could go do something more constructive.
As he was pacing his super-hearing picked up Lois saying, "Did you finish reading the material I gave you?" He glanced in the direction of the voice and looked through the wall. Lois was sitting in an easy chair and his parents were sitting across from her on the couch. On the coffee table in front of them was a manilla folder that had all sorts of papers in it. Clark didn't know what was going on so he sat down on his bed and decided to watch.
"Actually" his father said, "We only were able to read the accounts of the first week. I'm afraid that after that we were just to disturbed to go on." His mother nodded.
"I know its hard, but this sheds so much light on what Clark is going through. If we understand him, we'll know better how to react to him."
Clark's mother sighed. "I can't help but think we're trying a little to hard, maybe we should ease up. Clark was always very sensitive; in our 'treatment' we don't seem to be taking that into account."
"If you have any suggestions as to how we should treat him, I'm all ears. Your son has got me stumped."
Both Jonathan and Martha were silent. They were far to worried about their son to think clearly on the issue, they knew that.
The three sat in silence for a moment, finally Lois spoke up. "Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see how things go." She was obviously annoyed. She hated waiting for anything, and she hated not being able to help. "Were have you been hiding this?"
Jonathan glanced at his wife. "We haven't been. It was in Martha's studio."
Lois was shocked. "You mean it's been out in the open were Clark could find it!"
"He usually doesn't go into my studio." Martha said, she was a little surprised by how emotional Lois was being about where the folder was put.
"Clark can't see this, he's not ready yet." There was that phrase again, when would he be ready? "You have to put it some place he won't be able to find it."
"There really isn't anyplace in the house that Clark couldn't get into if he wanted."
"You don't have any secret hiding places?"
"Not from Clark."
Lois couldn't believe it, this family was to good to be true. "Well, I guess you'll just have to put it in the most out of the way place and hope that Clark doesn't just run into it."
"There's that nook in the barn." Martha offered.
"That'll be a good place. Clark won't have any reason to go back there." Jonathan agreed. The only problem was that now Clark had a reason.
That night Clark flew out of the house, he didn't want to risk anyone hearing his foot falls. He snuck to the barn and found the folder without any trouble. It was practically in plain sight, but Clark would never have found it if he wasn't looking.
The folder had the initials CBRC stamped on it, Cylipso Behavioral Research Center, and it was labeled KENT. Clark examined the outside of the folder carefully. Then he opened it up and looked at every page before he read them. He wanted to know everything about the folder and everything that was in it as well. It was his chance to understand what had happened to him and maybe it would help him make sense of the world around him. The only problem was that he was afraid to read it. He knew it was the only way back to a normal life, but he wasn't sure if he wanted to confront the realities it would unearth. Clark was nervous and confused. Nevertheless he took the folder and flew away with it, to a safe place were no one would find him, and he could read in peace.
Lois woke up to the smell of breakfast. The last time she had stayed with the Kents they had cooked the most amazing breakfasts, fresh eggs, home made waffles, cold orange juice and hot coffee. By the smell of things, Lois assumed that she was in for another breakfast full of fat, and taste. She showered and dressed quickly and rushed to the breakfast table. Jonathan had finished eating and was out doing chores, Martha was standing over the oven cooking something that smelled divine, and Jimmy was pouring syrup over a huge stack of hot cakes. "This is totally amazing." Lois said as she sat down at the table. "My mother never cooked like this."
"Well I don't usually, but I thought that our company might like it."
"We do." Jimmy said between mouth fulls.
Lois was on her second helping of scrambled eggs when Jonathan burst into the room. He had obviously run quite a ways. "It's gone." he panted.
"What's gone?" Lois had jumped up from the table, she knew trouble when it visited her.
"Clark's folder. When I was putting the tractor away I noticed that it wasn't where I had left it?"
"Were's Clark?" Lois asked, that was a useless question. Everybody had assumed he was in bed, but after a quick check it was pretty obvious what had happened.
"He must have heard us talking about it last night." Martha moned.
"He couldn't have. He was in his room, with the door closed."
"Our Clark has good hearing." Jonathan informed her.
Martha went over to the window. "He could be anywhere now."
These small town folks were really nice, but they didn't think much. "All the cars are still here, right?"
"So he couldn't have gone to far."
"What if he hitch-hiked?" Jimmy asked.
"Then he'll be easy to track."
"Shouldn't we check the farm first?" Jonathan asked. "It seems to me he probably wouldn't leave without saying goodbye."
"And there are so many places on it he could go to be alone." Martha pointed out.
Eventually it was decided that Jimmy would go to the smallville sheriff and see if he could find anything out. Lois had wanted to go, but she and the sheriff didn't get along that well. Jonathan was looking in the fields and in a small patch of woods. There was a lot of ground to cover. Martha started calling all the neighbors and asking them whether or not they had seen Clark. Lois was struck with the tedious job of searching the area around the house. She looked through the barn and several different sheds and was about to give up when she noticed a tree-house in a large oak tree not to far from the house. She was hoping that she would be able to just see into the place and not have to climb up the ladder. But she was not in luck. Unsurprisingly Clark had built his tree-house as an impenetrable fortress; the only way in was by climbing up the latter.
As she pulled herself up, rung by rung, she yelled "Clark?" so he would know she was coming. There was no answer, so Lois assumed that he wasn't there. Nevertheless she had pulled herself up to the top, so she might as well look. Besides, Lois couldn't help but wonder how Clark would decorate the inside of his tree house, maybe with pictures of jets, or pictures of old friends, or Playboy centerfolds. But once she was in the tree house she didn't even think to look at what was on the wall.
"Good morning Lois," Clark said icily.
"Clark what are you doing here, why didn't you answer me when I called?"
"I wanted to be alone."
"We were so worried about you, Jimmy's out talking to the sheriff, your dad's combing the farm and your mom is on the phone trying to see if anyone has seen you."
"We didn't know where you were."
"Lois back home you don't know and don't care where I am for at least two thirds of the day."
"Yes, but Clark, this is much different."
"Clark . . ." She didn't know what to say. She couldn't tell him the truth. It turned out she didn't have to.
"Because I'm crazy."
"I never said that."
"But you're not denying it."
"Stop it Clark." She was very upset. She was doing all she could to help him and all he could do is act cryptic.
"Lois, why did you tell my parents to hide this?" He asked as he held up the manilla folder. Lois all of a sudden became very frightened. She had suspected that he would have looked at it, but now that she knew he had he somehow seemed more dangerous, and a little more deranged.
"I didn't think you should see it."
"I'm not dumb. Please, Lois, I deserve the truth."
"I thought it would bother you."
"So you were entirely concerned with my feelings?" He sounded skeptical. Lois decided that she needed to be closer to him. She stepped up another wrung on the ladder.
"Don't move," Clark warned her.
"What?" She pulled herself up a little further.
"I don't think I can trust you, and after reading this I know I can't trust myself."
Lois didn't head Clark's warning she pulled herself fully into the tree house. To get her entire body in she had to do a little twisting and turning. Once she was all the way in she turned around to see Clark, she gasped.
"Lois, please, just leave." He had a riffle, cocked and aimed right at her. At such a close range she would be blown to bits.
"Clark, what do you think you're doing?"
"I'm trying to make seance out of everything, out of what happened . . ." he seemed to be having trouble even saying the place's name. "Back there, what's going on here and what's in this folder."
"Clark, just give me the gun," Lois said nervously. "I promise everything will be OK."
"You know what, right now my world is a little too fragile for promises, especially from you. Leave and let me work things out." Clark rose his voice, he was angry and Lois became even more scared.
"Why don't you trust me?"
"Are you part of it?" He asked accusingly.
"I left the institute with 4 day's left to go, according to this."
"Yes, we got you out as soon as we could."
"I've been in a controlled environment the whole time I was here, you've had me do experiments, you've tested me . . ."
"Clark what are you talking about?" Lois interrupted him, even though she knew that he wasn't thinking quite clearly and that upsetting him could be detrimental to her health. She couldn't curb her urge to argue with him.
"You won't let me go to town," Clark said expressively "You made me paint the picture, you sat me down for hours at a time asking me questions. It's just like it was at the institute. You're always demanding something and never . . ." His sentence was chocked off. Lois saw that he was crying.
"I'm so sorry, Clark." she said softly. "I didn't mean to hurt you like that. I was so worried about you. I didn't know what to do."Clark looked up at her with those large brown eyes. They were so sad and scared, they were the eyes of a child lost in a woods; why hadn't she noticed that before? "I would never hurt you Clark, never."
He shook his head uncertainly. "Iiiii . . ."
"Clark, look me in the eyes." He did so, reluctantly. "You know that I would never hurt you. You're the most important person in my life." She laughed dryly. "If I lost you I wouldn't be able to do anything. I promise you that things will change if you just tell me what you need. I'll do anything."
"I'm so frightened."
"You don't have to be. We love you Clark; your parents, Jimmy, me. Please don't shut us out," He looked at her again, his eyes seemed a little less frightened and he was almost smiling. "Do you mind if I get closer?"
"Yes," he said edgily, "But do it anyway."
Lois didn't know what to make of that somewhat conflicting answer. She decided to follow the later instruction. She crawled across the floor and came and sat next to him. She had been much closer to him in the past. They weren't even touching, but still she could feel him tense up beside her. "I don't think you need the gun any more." Slowly she pulled it out of his hands. He didn't resist. Once she was holding it she noticed something odd. "It's not loaded."
"I know." For the first time seance that blood drive he seemed almost light hearted. "Even if it was loaded it probably wouldn't work. I used to use it to hunt rabbits. It's sat up here neglected for twenty years or so."
"Well then why point it at me?" As usual, Lois didn't understand how Clark thought.
"I was really frightened, I'm still a little nervous. But Lois, I really thought that you were with them. I didn't want to think that but I couldn't get it out of my mind."
"Oh, Clark," Mindlessly she put her hand on top of his, he was surprised but he didn't pull away.
They sat in the small treehouse for about an hour, talking. Clark told her everything that had happened. She couldn't believe it. She had thought that the scientific reports had been bad, now it seemed like Cylipso had left out the gruesome stuff. Clark still seamed edgy, but he was a thousand times better than he had been. Lois figured that once he got back to work it would be like the entire thing never happened, or almost like that.
"Are you going to write about this?"
"No, of course not." Lois protested. "I would never exploit you like that."
"What?" Lois hadn't expected that answer.
"Janis Cylipso needs to be exposed. I don't want to do it."
"A little too close to home?"
"Yha, but Lois, I think it needs to be done." Lois looked at him, he was in earnest. "Would you do that for me?"
"Sure Clark, I'll do that."
There was a rumbling sound outside of the tree house, Lois leaned over to glance out the windows and see what it was. The sheriffs car rolled in front of the Kent house. "Jimmy must have brought the Sheriff, what's her name?"
"Sara," Clark prompted.
"Whatever," Clark smiled, Lois was so cute when she was jealous. "We should go down and . . ." her voice trailed off.
"What," Clark's voice was trembling, he knew that something must be wrong.
"It's Sara alright, but they brought HER." Lois didn't need to clarify any more than that.
Clark took a deep breath. "I'm not going to go back." He said with characteristic resolution.
"No, of course not. Look, I'll go down and see what's up, you stay up here and hide, Ok?"
Clark nodded. "Ok," But he had no intention of following her orders.
"Lois Lane!" Cylipso said accusingly as Lois descended from the tree house. "I thought that it was you who stole my subject. Now I know. You're in big trouble Missy. You have no idea what I can do to you."
Lois was now facing the Behavioral Psychologist. "It can't be any worse than what you did to Clark. You're twisted and evil and heartless and . . ."
"Now hold it just one cotton-picking minute." The sherif said loudly as she stepped in between Lois and Janis. "Now, Lois, Dr. Cylipso told me that Clark was kidnaped from some sort of social experiment and dragged here buy you."
"He was rescued!" Lois yelled.
"It doesn't matter," the sheriff insisted, even if she was a yokel, she was very authoritative. "I have here a warrant for Clark's arrest for breach of contract, and one for you too. I don't want to do this but I have to follow orders."
Lois was speechless, she moved her mouth several times before finally she was able to say. "This can't be happening. She's the one who's acting criminal, she's the one you should arrest."
"Like I said," the sheriff got out her handcuffs. Lois could feel her heart sink, "I don't want to, but the law is the law."
"And justice is justice," A voice from above said. All three women was shocked into silence, but Lois was able to pull out of it first.
"I would never try to step in the way of the law." Superman asserted. "But you can't arrest her, and Clark will not be going back with you Ms. Cylipso.
After a moment the sheriff found her voice. "Now, you may be Superman, but you're not bigger than the law. I can't just throw the warrant away because you want me to. Clark is under contract with this woman, he had to go back with her."
"He's not under contract." Superman said.
"I have the contract right here!" Cylipso had not lost any of her pomp. She took out a piece of paper and waved it around. Superman was sourly tempted to burn it with his heat vision, but he kept that urge at bay.
"I've seen the contract," Superman pulled the Manilla folder out from behind his cape. Lois wondered where he had gotten it, but she didn't really care. According to this Clark signed at 12:27 a.m. on the 16th of March.
"That's right." Cylipso said warily, she wasn't sure where Superman was going but she didn't like it.
Superman opened the file and pulled out a piece of paper. "This is an account written by one of the doctors about what happened to Clark the day of March 15th and the early morning of March 16th. He handed her a paper with typed script on in. The sheriff looked it over. "He hadn't slept or ate all day!" Shock filled her voice "And what was this Drug that he was injected with?" The Sheriff turned her attention to Cylipso, and Lois knew she was off the hook.
"I . . . am unaware of that particular Drug," Cylipso said uncertainly.
Lois walked up and looked at the paper. "It's a heavy sedative, and the dosage is large enough to kill most people."
"Mr. Kent wasn't reacting to the treatment. There were several doctors there that believed the dosage was not only safe but necessary."
"Yha, to get Clark to sing a contract he didn't want to."
"I agree with Lois," the sheriff said assertively. "By the look of things, Clark's signature would not be binding, so he was under no obligation to you. Therefore Miss Lane could not have kidnaped him."
"What are you saying?" Cylipso was enraged.
"Lois, you're free to go, and you can tell Clark that he hasn't got a thing to worry about. Ms. Cylipso here isn't going to bother him ever again."
Lois smiled, "He'll be so glad to hear that." She turned to Superman, who was also looking very relived as they watched the sheriff stuff Cylipso into her car, handcuffed and all. "Thank you Superman, I never even noticed the date on Clark's contract. You came just in time." Then something occurred to her. "How did you show up, just now?"
"I returned to Metropolis a few days ago and found out that both you and Jimmy had disappeared. Naturally, I thought the worse."
Lois laughed, "I don't blame you."
"I started looking for you, and I was just lucky to have seen Jimmy being put in jail at downtown Smallville."
"Jimmy's in Jail!" Lois had entirely forgotten about him.
"Don't worry the sheriff will let him out as soon as she returns. After seeing Jimmy it wasn't to hard to figure out where you were. I eavesdropped on your conversation with Clark for a few minutes and once you left the tree house I flew in, read the reports and took Clark someplace a little safer for him to hide. Then I flew back and ..."
"Saved the day." Lois interrupted.
Martha had watched the whole drama from the living room window. There were no words to describe how relived she was, or to say how happy she was when she saw the romance that followed.
Clark sat at the desk chewing on the end of a pencil. He, Lois, and Jimmy had returned from Smallville two days ago, and Lois was already writing a follow-up story on "Janis Cylipso, Skinner or Stalin?" As it turned out the police searched the Cylipso Behavioral Research Center and found evidence that Cylipso had done all her research that way. She was going to go to jail for a long time, and because of the overwhelming amount of physical evidence Clark wouldn't even have to attended the trial. Life was good, most of the time.