My Own Worst Enemy
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
The distinct ticking could be heard as the judge made his way into the courtroom.
Clark looked around, trying to zero in on the sound. He looked to the defense table and noticed Martin Snell sitting with Baby Rage. There were two bailiffs behind him.<<“Alien. Destroy. Alien.”>>
He tensed when he heard the voice echo in his mind. Where had it come from? <<“Alien.”>>
There it was again. He tensed, recalling the last time he’d heard that voice in his head. ‘Mind over matter.’ He reminded himself.
He looked to Lois, her uncle, and Mayson, trying to find where the ticking was coming from. Then it hit him. It wasn’t inside the courtroom. He lowered his glasses and began examining the hallways around the courtroom. A small briefcase sat below one of the benches in the main waiting area he and Lois had just been in.
“Are the people ready to call their first witness?” was all he heard as he disappeared from the courtroom and barely had a chance to change into his Superman suit before grabbing the briefcase sitting outside the courtroom. All he had time to do was throw himself over the bomb as it exploded to protect the everyone around him.<<“Alien. Destroy. Alien.”>>
There was a rumble below him. He felt the pressure from the explosion and the sound of plaster crackling. Debris began to fall around him. He looked down at the burnt tile then up at the white column that was cracking at the base.
The door to the courtroom opened, and he saw the bailiff, Mayson, and Lois with a crowd of people behind them.
“Superman!” the bailiff stammered, surprised to see him outside the courtroom.<<“Alien.”>>
“Look out!” He shouted, flying up toward the column, grabbing it as it began to fall. <<“Alien.”>>
Alarms began blaring around him as the intercom instructed everyone to evacuate the courtroom. He looked to Lois, meeting her gaze as he flew the column back into place. ‘Go.’
“Hundreds of lives saved thanks to Superman’s impeccable timing. Just seconds before the bomb went off Superman arrived at the scene and was able to prevent—”
“Billy!” Bill Church stormed into his son’s office. Someone dared make a move without his say-so. Someone dared to try and cross Intergang. Someone…
He stopped when he saw the man sitting behind his son’s desk.
“Billy’s a bit preoccupied at the moment.” He held up a portable screen that showed his son blindfolded and tied to a chair.
“Luthor.” Church let out a low chuckle, “I was wondering when you’d get the guts to show your face.”
“I’ve been watching you—studying you, Mr. Church.” Lex shook his head in disapproval, “Tsk tsk tsk. What is your top lieutenant going to think when he’s made to believe you tried to have him killed today?”
“This was you.” Church breathed, narrowing his eyes as Luthor stood and walked toward him.
“Intergang. It’s got a nice ring to it. I never would have connected the two organizations. You with your small-time crime ring in Metropolis.”
“We’re anything but small, Mr. Luthor.” Church scoffed, giving Luthor a menacing look.
“No doubt. You’ve been a busy little bee while I’ve been away. Paying off the police, the mayor, and even some of our favorite judges.” Luthor began to give a slow clap. “Superb.”
“Why do I get a feeling you didn’t drop by for just a pat on the back?” Church asked, noting the dark stare coming from Luthor.
“Ah, and right you are again,” Lex snapped his fingers. “I’ve come to make you a deal. A bargain if you will.”
“Bargain?” Church scoffed, “I don’t make deals.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll want to hear this one.” He said in a sinister hiss. “As I’ve said I’ve been doing my research on you. Very thorough and in-depth research. I know all about Bureau 39 and Project K, and I know you’ve got a mole.”
“No one would dare cross me!” Church snarled angrily.
“Wouldn’t they?” Luthor chuckled to himself. “It can be hard being number one. Number two, three and four are always trying to claw their way up …”
“What do you want?” Church asked, cutting to the chase.
“Metropolis.” Lex snarled.
“Excuse me?” Church scoffed.
“I want you and your organization out of Metropolis.” Luthor took a step toward him. “There’s only room for one criminal mastermind in this city…and you’re looking at him.”
“You think I’m just going to walk away because you have supposed information on a mole in my organization?” Church chuckled. “You’re out of your mind.”
“I take that as a ‘no’?” Luthor took another step toward him so that he was only a few inches from his face.
“Get out.” Church snapped.
Lois took a deep breath as she watched Clark in his Superman persona come out of the courthouse, talking to the Fire Chief. A bomb. There had been a bomb right outside the courtroom. She placed a protective hand over her growing abdomen.
Thankfully she hadn’t had to answer that question because of the commotion they’d heard outside the courtroom. When they’d opened the door and seen Superman, she knew something was wrong.
“Are you listening to me? Hello, Earth to Lois?” Mayson waved her hand in front of her face.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Lois said, forcing herself to focus on the present.
“I said where did your husband disappear to?” Mayson said in an irritated tone.
“Lois?” Lois sighed in relief when she saw Clark making his way through the crowd toward her.
“Speak of the devil.” Mayson sighed.
“Are you all right?” He asked, wrapping his arms protectively around her before pulling back to look at her expanding midsection. “Is the baby—?”
“We’re fine.” She reassured him, placing a hand on his chest. “Everything’s fine.” Before she could finish saying ‘fine’, he leaned in to capture her lips with his, running his hands through her hair.
“Your honor, this is a gross miscarriage of justice!” Martin Snell’s voice carried over to where she and Clark were standing as the weasel of a defense attorney argued with the judge.
She and Clark reluctantly pulled apart and turned toward Martin Snell who was up in arms as the bailiff slapped handcuffs on Baby Rage. “He tried to run Counselor.”
“He was in fear for his life!” Snell shot back. “If I had a building almost cave in on me I’d try to run too!”
“Excuse me,” Mayson excused herself to intervene between Snell and the judge.
“What happened?” Lois whispered in a low whisper, making sure Mayson was out of earshot.
“I heard a ticking sound and finally found the source in a briefcase right outside the courtroom.” He whispered. “All I could do was contain the blast. It went off right when I got to it.” He whispered in her ear, holding her close. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine.” She reassured him, leaning in to kiss him.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your patience.” A voice from the front of the courthouse steps spoke. “As you all know we’ve had a bit of a situation. All probation hearings will be moved to the detention center. All court appearances and preliminary hearings will be postponed until tomorrow. The Fire Marshall has assured us the building is safe, but we need time to repair the damage done to the Left Wing of the courthouse. We’ll have more information for everyone on courtroom assignments this afternoon. That is all.”
There was a murmur of disapproval from the crowd, but for the most part, everyone remained quiet as they began moving away from the courthouse steps.
“Your honor! This is outrageous! My client shouldn’t be made to sit in jail another minute longer due to this court’s inability to protect—”
“Martin, shut up!” Mayson yelled.
“Counselor, unless you want to share a jail cell with your client I suggest you stop talking.” The judge urged angrily.
Two bailiffs escorted Baby Rage toward the awaiting prison van. Lois felt her skin crawl as she watched him give a cocky laugh to Clark, “Tick tock tick tock.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Clark whispered.
“Satellite images show a flash of light coming from the sky over a group of small islands in the Gulf of Mexico then just as quickly everything from the island has vanished. No trees. No wildlife. Almost as if someone or something has snuffed them out. President Garner remains silent on the matter as—”
Bill Church Jr. turned to face Lex Luthor with a pleased expression. “So our first test run was a success.”
“Yes, but the prototype was much smaller than the original plans. We won’t be able to hide the real thing on the back of your private helicopter.” Lex took a long puff from his cigar.
“How do you plan to get the Annihilator on its platform?” Bill Jr. asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I’m going to make Superman do it for me,” Lex said with a smile.
“Mr. Church, he’s not ready. I still have to perform tests to stabilize him.” Rollie Vale urged as Bill Church reached for the remote.
“I’m through waiting, Vale. You promised me a fighting machine I could use to enforce the organization’s power. Metallo will destroy Superman and snuff out that little bug, Luthor before he can do any more damage!” Church growled angrily.
“If we lose control of him he could turn on you and—” Vale stopped when he saw Church pick up the remote.
Church pressed a small green button the remote and smiled to himself, “Time to wake up, John. It’s time to play.”
***Seven Months Ago…
Lois fingered her husband’s hand as she leaned back against the thin sheet covering the exam table. Clark had insisted on her getting checked out by the doctor before he’d consider looking into the arson at the courthouse.
“You’re about seventeen and a half weeks now?” the technician asked as she squeezed the warm gel on her small bump and rolled the ultrasound wand over her bump.
“Yes,” Lois said nervously, gripping Clark’s hand as she waited for the familiar thumping of their unborn child’s heartbeat to fill the room.
“Having a little trouble—” the technician frowned, moving the wand to the side.
Lois felt dread run down her spine. What if something was wrong? So many things could still go wrong this early in the pregnancy. What if the stress from the bombing had—
“There we go.” The loud thumping filled the room, and Lois let out a sigh of relief, brushing away the tears that had begun to form in the corner of her eyes. “Someone’s a little stubborn today.”
“Probably hereditary,” Clark remarked with a teasing smile. He leaned in to kiss her cheek, offering a reassuring smile. “It’s okay. The baby’s fine.” He whispered to her.
“Heartbeat and placenta all look normal.” The technician smiled as she continued rolling the wand over Lois’ belly. “Oh! It looks like we can even see what the baby is –unless you want to wait?”
Clark looked at Lois, “It’s up to you.”
“We want to know,” Lois said letting out a long breath as Clark wrapped an arm around her.
The technician smiled warmly, “Looks like we have a healthy baby boy. Congratulations.”
“A boy?” Lois’ voice cracked when she heard the gender. She could see the technician saying something to her, but she couldn’t quite make it out. Her mind began to race. A boy. She was having a boy.
Could she do this? Could she really do this? It was hard enough to bring a child into the world after a loss, but it was harder to picture going through everything she went through with Jamie and hold onto the hope that she wouldn’t’ end up with the same result.
She looked to Clark who was looking at her in concern. “What?”
“Are you okay?” he asked, taking her hand in his.
She noticed the technician had already left the room and sat up, trying to clean the gel off. “Fine.” She forced a smile, suppressing the tears she knew were threatening to overtake her. She wasn’t going to cry. Everything was going to be okay. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because you’re terrified out of your mind right now. I can see it on your face.” He ran a hand across her cheek. “He’s going to be okay.”
“What if he isn’t?” she asked tearfully.
“Everything we can prevent we’ll prevent.” He reminded her, wrapping a protective arm around her. “Isn’t that what you keep saying?”
“A boy.” She whispered in a half-laugh and half-cry as he held her close.
“A healthy boy.” He reminded her of what the technician had said.
“I love you.” She whispered, leaning back against him.
“I love you too, sweetheart.” He kissed her one more time before whispering, “Come on, you need to get dressed before they send a search party in here.”
“It was a pipe bomb,” Lucy said, shaking her head as she carried her briefcase with her and walked with Bill Henderson and Mark Richter, the Metropolis Fire Chief and explosives expert to the other side of the courthouse.
Richter nodded, “Superman caught most of the blast, but you can tell from the burning residue here this was the target.” He pointed to the closed-off courtroom that was now in shambles from where the marble column had crumbled around the Man of Steel. “Superman was able to hold it up long enough for everyone to get out and then it just started to crumble around him.”
“What about the security cameras?” Henderson asked, looking toward the ceiling where the dark bulbs of the camera lenses were cracked.
“Nah,” Richter shook his head. “Whoever he or she was. They knew what they were doing. All the cameras went out at the same time around the courthouse.”
“Someone had to see something,” Henderson argued.
“See?” Clark pressed his lips against Lois’ cheek, wrapping his arms around her from behind as they stepped onto the elevator. “Aren’t you glad I made you go to the doctor now?”
“Yes,” she grinned back at him, enjoying the warmth that enveloped her as Clark held her in his arms. Despite her annoyance with him acting like a mother hen, she was glad she’d been given the reassurance that the baby was okay.
“A little boy,” Clark whispered in her ear. His voice was filled with wonder as he rested his hands on her expanding midsection. “I love you.”
The soft ping of the elevator announced their arrival on the newsroom floor. Grudgingly, Clark released her from his embrace and took her hand in his, stepping out of the elevator.
“Well, look who finally decided to make an appearance.” Ralph teased as they made their way toward their desks. Ralph sauntered toward them, taking a bite of his apple as he spoke, “You know, Perry’s looking for you.”
Lois rolled her eyes, ignoring Ralph as he continued to grate on her nerves, “You heard there was a big explosion down at the courthouse, right?”
“Yes, we heard.” Clark gave him an irritated expression while she finished unpacking her laptop and dug her notes from the people she and Clark had spoken with outside the courthouse.
“Must be nice being able to come and go as you please,” Ralph commented with a disapproving look.
“Good Lord! Can’t you two go anywhere without something trying to blow up?” Perry hollered as he came out into the newsroom.
“I take it you got the rough copy we sent you?” Lois asked, noticing the surprised expression on Ralph’s face.
“Rough copy?” Ralph interjected, trying to follow where the conversation had steered off.
“Please, please tell me you’ve got enough for a few follow-ups.” Perry held his hands up, looking to her and Clark.
Lois held up her notebook. “Please, remember who you’re talking to, Chief.”
“The police aren’t saying much right now, but I’m sure we’ll get more information as the investigation into the bombing unfolds,” Clark added with a weary expression.
“Unbelievable,” Perry frowned, turning to Clark. “You two will take point on this. I want everything you’ve got ready for the evening edition.” He turned to Ralph, “Ralph, I still want you working the streets on this. How did a bomb make it past security? Who was the target?”
Ralph gave her and Clark a begrudging look but nodded, “On it, Chief.”
Bill Church Jr. heard a door creak as he was escorted down a long hallway still blindfolded. He was being moved. After being kidnapped and tied up with no idea who had taken him or what they wanted he was finally being moved. This was usually the part where he’d either be set free or meet his demise. He braced himself, preparing for the worst. He wouldn’t go down without a fight.
A door opened, and he found himself pushed to the ground. He listened to the soft tapping around him. He moved his hands to his blindfold and jerked it off his head. “You’ve made your last mistake!” He stopped when he saw who was standing in front of him. “Luthor?”
“I prefer Lex when dealing with potential business partners.” Lex corrected, handing him a drink. “Bourbon?”
“Thanks.” Bill Jr. looked down at the drink suspiciously. “Quite a way to arrange a meeting, don’t you think?”
“I always prefer a certain pizzazz.” Lex smiled back at him, taking a sip from his drink. “Shall we get down to business?”
“Business?” Bill Jr. scoffed. “You kidnapped me.”
“Kidnapping is such a strong word. Can’t we call it a negotiation? I negotiated for you to come here so we could discuss your future with Intergang.”
“You want to discuss my future with Intergang?” Bill Jr. chuckled. “Boy, that must have been some blow to the head you took there.”
“Ah, the disbelief.” Lex sighed, “I’d expect nothing less from the man that’s secured control over seventy-five percent of the world’s major cities throughout the world since joining the organization.”
“How did you know that?” Bill Jr. asked in surprise.
“Oh, I know a lot of things.” Lex continued. “I know you’ve been itching to takeover Intergang but haven’t found a way to get rid of your competition in dear old dad that just can’t let go of the reigns. I know you hunger for power and have organized the takeover of cities across the globe without even a ‘thank you.’”
“I see you’ve done your homework.” Bill Jr. commented uncertainly.
“I like to be thorough.” Lex smiled. “So, knowing all of this I’ve decided to make you a deal.”
“I’m listening.” Bill Jr. said, taking a sniff of his drink to make sure it was indeed only Bourbon before risking it and taking a drink.
“I know your organization’s weaknesses. I know how to bring it crumbling down around you. You have a mole inside your organization. You help me rebuild my empire and move Intergang out of Metropolis. I’ll help you takeover.”
“Even if I was tempted to entertain a deal with you what makes you think I’d agree. Metropolis has a special place in my father’s heart. He’s not just going to pick up and leave.”
“Oh, I don’t expect him to.” Lex chuckled. “Such a sad state we live in isn’t it? You can’t even grow old with dignity. Imagine what would happen if he weren’t able to run Intergang anymore. Imagine what would happen if his son had to step up and takeover?”
“Keep talking.” Bill Jr. grinned.
***COURTHOUSE EXPLOSION! ARSONIST AT LARGE!
By Lois Lane and Clark Kent
“Where is this at?” Clark asked, lowering his glasses to look at the photo Lois had handed him. She’d been waiting until they’d finally had a moment alone to show him the photo her father had given her earlier.
“I’m not sure. He said the organization gave him a new assignment.” She placed a hand protectively over her abdomen.
“It’s definitely my ship.” He said hoarsely, leaning back against the counter she had perched herself on. “It’s got the ‘S’ right there.” He handed the picture back to her. “How did they get this?”
“I don’t know,” Lois said, looking over at the stir-fry that was losing liquid quickly. “Is it supposed to smell like that?”
“Oh!” He jumped up and pulled the wok off the stove, adding some water to keep the vegetables from burning.
“Maybe we should just order a pizza?” she suggested with a soft giggle watching as he picked out the seared vegetables.
“I think I can save it.” He smiled back at her. “Just give me a sec.”
Lois shook her head, watching as Clark tried to finish saving their dinner. She picked up the copy of the Planet she’d been reading earlier, smiling when she saw her and Clark’s story on the arson on the front page.
“What are you smiling about?” He asked, pouring a bottle of soy sauce.
“No matter how many times I see it, it never gets old.” She grinned, showing him the front page.
“What?” He asked, looking over her shoulder.
“Your name next to mine on the front page of the Daily Planet.” She set the paper down. “You think they’ll find the guy that did it?”
Clark shrugged, reaching for the bottle of Soy Sauce on the counter. “I don’t know. Everything they’ve got for evidence is pretty much a charcoal briquette right now. They did pull in Mark Richter—the explosives expert—but from what I’ve heard there aren’t any solid leads.”
“I know, I’ve been going through the list of cases that were being heard that morning. Everything from petty crimes to probation violations. No real connection there.” She said, recalling what she and Clark had dug up that afternoon.
“Here, taste.” He handed her a fork of rice with stir-fried vegetables, and she took a bite. She nodded her approval, and he turned the stove off. “Well, that’s just the list of defendants.” He reasoned. “There was the judge, defense attorneys, prosecutors, witnesses, and even the bailiffs that could have been targeted.”
“You saved dinner. God, that’s good.” She said, savoring the taste of the homemade stir-fry. They’d been hitting the pavement pretty hard, leaving very little time for anything decent to put in her stomach.
“Better?” he asked, placing a hand on her abdomen.
“Much.” She agreed, pulling him to her by his collar. “My hero.” She whispered, running her hands through his hair on the back of his head.
He chuckled, leaning in to kiss her. “Come on, let’s get you and the boy fed.” He said, running a hand over her abdomen once more.
“There’s nowhere to sit.” She pointed at the dining table that was still covered in boxes.
“I’m illustrating a point.” He said, handing her the real estate brochure from the other day.
“If I promise to look at houses this weekend will you put the boxes back in storage?” she asked.
“I thought you wanted to go to Smallville this weekend?” he asked, handing her a bowl of rice and stir fry.
“I want to sit and eat without the company of moving boxes more.” She said, giving him an annoyed look.
“You just hate it when I’m right, don’t you?” he said with a teasing smile.
“I just don’t see what the rush is.” She argued taking a bite of her dinner. “We’ve already got so much going on. Why make it worse by adding house hunting to it?”
“I’m not renewing a lease on a place that’s not big enough for the three of us.” He pointed out.
“You’ve still got another month before you have to give Floyd notice.” She pointed out.
“True, but wouldn’t it be nice to go ahead and find a place so we can start getting everything ready for this one’s arrival?” He asked, placing a hand on her abdomen. “Someone made a very good argument about needing more room the other day…” he wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Something about needing clothes that fit, a plan for the nursery, and more room.”
“I didn’t mean right now.” Lois retorted. “We don’t have time to house hunt. We’re in the middle of a big investigation. This could be Pulitzer material.”
“Here we go with the Pulitzer again.” He sighed. “You know they haven’t even announced the Kerth nominees yet. I’m sure the series on Luthor’s downfall will be right at the top of the list along with your series on the Southside scandal.” He leaned in to kiss her. “You don’t need to worry about your Pulitzer right now.”
“But Clark,” she began to argue uncertain of how to voice the insecurities she’d been feeling over the last week. It wasn’t just the Pulitzer. It was everything. Her reputation as a reporter. The respect she had among her colleagues in her profession. She felt like she was losing her edge and had to work five times as hard to keep ahead of everyone.
“We’re always in the middle of an investigation.” He pointed out. “The longer we wait, the harder it’s going to be on you when we move.”
“Isn’t that what I’ve got you for?” she teased.
“Yes,” He wrapped his arms around her as she took another bite. “But moving is stressful. I’d like to get us moved in and unpacked before the pregnancy starts taking too big of a toll on your body.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” she asked, unsure if she should be offended by his statement.
“The further along you get, the harder it’s going to be.” He pointed out gently. “Do you really want to be packing boxes while dealing with hot flashes from the pregnancy hormones?”
“No,” she sighed, “I just don’t know how we’re going to find the time for all of this. The investigation into the organization or Intergang or whatever the heck they want to call themselves. Then the stuff with my dad and all this corruption everywhere. There are bombs going off and criminals running the city. Not to mention the fact that Lex Luthor is still at large and no one has a clue where he is. All this on top of trying to keep up with these snarky twenty-somethings that are half my size and trying to —”
She found her ramblings cut off when Clark’s lips found hers. He pulled away, resting his head against hers, “You need to calm down.”
“It’s a lot.” She whispered.
“Come here,” He pulled her to her feet, holding her to him. She let out a long breath against his chest as he ran his hands up and down her sides. “We’ll get to the bottom of who’s behind Intergang, and we’ll keep bringing in the stories.” He leaned in to kiss her.
“I just don’t want to lose my edge. It took me forever to claw my way back after I had Jamie. It took me six months to get an assignment for the City section after I came back from leave.” She said softly. “It hasn’t exactly been my best year career-wise.”
“I don’t know.” He grinned leaning against her. “The series you did with Cat on the Southside corruption earlier this past year was pretty good stuff. Then the article you wrote on Nightfall. Pretty powerful stuff.” He brushed a stray lock out of her face. “That’s not even counting the recent series on Lex Luthor’s downfall and Superman’s arrival.”
“I love you, you know that?” she whispered, linking her arms around his neck.
“Yeah,” He leaned in to kiss her. “I’m quite fond of you myself.” He chuckled when she smacked him on the chest. “You’re not losing your edge, Lois. You’ve got five Kerths and a Pulitzer nomination to prove it. You’ll probably have at least one more Kerth to add to the list this year.”
“You’re really good for my ego you know that?” she grinned back at him.
“I guess that means you’ll keep me around then?” He murmured against her lips.
“For the rest of my life.” She pulled him to her by the collar of his shirt, closing the distance between them. He moaned against her lips as his hands moved through her hair and fingered her silky strands until they found themselves on each side of her face.
“It’s just for half the day,” Clark whispered in his wife’s ear as he wrapped her in his arms. She took a deep breath, resting her head against his chest and allowed him to guide her toward the elevator.
“I know.” She gave him a watery smile, “I just miss him already.”
The elevator pinged, announcing the car’s arrival. “He’s right downstairs, and you can log in and check on him anytime you want.” He reminded her. He wrapped a protective arm around her waist as they stepped on the elevator together.
“You think I’m being ridiculous?” she asked.
“No, I think you’re an incredible mother that wants the best for our son.” He leaned in to kiss her, ignoring the other two passengers in the elevator car with them. He smiled to himself when he felt her begin to respond, running her hands up the length of his tie and hooking her index finger into the perfectly tied silk knot.
The elevator doors opened, and he heard the other two passengers step off. The doors closed behind them, and he moved both hands to cup her face, burying themselves in her hair. “What floor was that?” she murmured breathlessly against him.
“Mailroom.” He whispered, moving his attention to her jawline as she let out a soft moan.
“Two more floors.” She breathed against him happily. “We’re going to be in so much trouble if we get caught.”
“It’ll be worth the lecture.” He murmured against her lips. “I haven’t been able to enjoy the ride up to the newsroom in four very long months. I’m going to savor every last second.”
She giggled against him, “Is that your way of saying you’ve missed me?”
“Desperately.” He whispered. He let his lips linger on hers, hearing the elevator ping behind him, announcing their arrival to the newsroom floor.
The very distinct sound of whistling from their colleagues in the newsroom forced him to pull away. “I think that’s our cue to get to work.” She whispered, taking his hand as they stepped off the elevator.
“Geez! She just got back, Kent. What are you trying to do, go for a record?” Ralph joked, walking up to them.
“It must be so depressing in the Classifieds.” Lois shot back with a glare. “What do you put in your personal ad? Single female able to ignore insults in a single bound. Plastic ones need not apply.”
“For your information, blow-up dolls are not plastic. They’re…” Ralph stopped himself mid-sentence.
“Lois! Good to have you back!” Jimmy cheered, walking up to them.
Clark was mildly surprised Jimmy had approached them given his recent behavior over the past month. One minute he’d be his normal jovial self then the next he was giving Clark the cold shoulder acting like he’d kicked his puppy. He still wasn’t’ sure what Jimmy’s problem was with him, but he was growing more and more tired with the behavior.
“Thanks, Jimmy,” Lois smiled at him as she took her seat at her desk.
“Yeah well, not for long if you keep treating the elevator like your own personal kissing booth. You do remember how you got knocked up in the first place, don’t you?”
Clark threw him a dirty look, but kept his temper in check. Lois narrowed her eyes at Ralph and added very smugly, “What’s the matter, Ralph? Jealous?”
“Not in the slightest!” He scoffed with a fake chuckle.
“Shouldn’t you get back to digging up dirty on the celebrity of the week?” Clark asked, annoyed at Ralph’s continued presence. He really wanted to catch Lois up on his investigation into the terroristic attacks that had been going on over the last few months while she’d been out.
“Hey, what’s that?”
He looked toward the source of the voice and stopped cold when he saw the face on the television. “Luthor.”
***Seven Months Ago…
“Such a tragedy,” Lex commented, setting the evening edition of the Daily Planet on the desk in front of him. “Who would have thought the security within our courts was so poor.”
“I don’t see what this has to do with me.” Martin Snell said, eying Asabi with an uneasy gaze as he looked between the two men.
Lex followed Snell’s gaze to Asabi who was standing behind him. “He’s not much of a people person. Never has been.”
“I knew something wasn’t right with you,” Snell said to Asabi.
“Suspicious man. As you should be.” Lex complemented. “I mean, one can understand after narrowly escaping a life or death situation and knowing it was your own mentor that pulled the trigger. Tsk tsk tsk. Loyalty gets you nowhere these days.”
“What are you talking about?” Snell scoffed.
“It was, after all, Bill Church who ordered the hit on you,” Lex said, leaning back in his chair.
Lois felt a chill in the room and began to stir. She reached out for her husband’s arms and found his side of the bed empty. She frowned as her mind slowly began to focus on the sounds around her, and she heard his voice a few feet away. She looked down and found him cradled next to her stomach, whispering to their unborn child.
“Your mommy and I love you so much, little guy. There are so many things we want to teach you and show you and…”
She glanced at the clock and saw the red digits blinking back at her. “Clark, it’s three-thirty in the morning.”
“I know. I couldn’t sleep.” He said, placing a kiss on her abdomen.
“What are you doing?” she asked sleepily.
“Talking to my boy.” He said with a grin.
“You’re going to teach him bad habits of staying up late and then we’ll never get him to sleep.” She whispered sleepily.
“I think he’s still sleeping.” He said, crawling back up the bed and laying down next to her. “Hi.” He stroked her cheek with his palm.
“Hi.” She whispered, rolling on her side to face him. “Still thinking about it?”
“Yeah,” He frowned, pulling her into his arms.
“You want to talk about it?” she asked, running a hand over his chest.
“No, just want to keep doing this.” He sighed, holding her close.
“It’s going to be fine.” She soothed, tapping her hand on his chest. He smiled at her, tracing the frame of her face with his palm. “What?” she asked suddenly self-conscious under his gaze.
“Nothing. Just thinking about how much I love you.” He whispered, leaning in to kiss her. She smiled against his lips, feeling his other hand move to her abdomen. “Both of you.”
“Yeah?” she whispered, moving her hand to cover his. “Maybe instead of obsessing about that picture we should find a way to relax you so you can get some sleep tonight.” She leaned in and recaptured his lips, smiling to herself when she felt both his arms encircle her waist.
“And just how did you plan on doing that?” he murmured as she leaned into him, smiling to herself when she felt his arms slip up her back. His hands roamed up and down her back, pushing the silk nightgown further and further up as he focused on recapturing her lips again and again.
“I have a few ideas.” She murmured in between heated kisses, moving to straddle him as her hands began an exploration up his bare chest.
“Me too.” He murmured as he nibbled on the sensitive skin of her throat, tugging the strap to her nightgown off her shoulder.
“Oh, Clark,” she sighed against him.
“We’ve got a snake in our midst, gentlemen,” Bill Church eyed his top lieutenants with a weary eye as he looked for any sign of uneasiness from them. Just because he didn’t take Lex Luthor up on his deal didn’t mean he wouldn’t benefit from his rival’s information. If he did have someone betraying the organization, he would find them and make them rue the day they ever crossed Bill Church.
Lois tapped her pen on her desk as she and Clark looked over the list of people that were in the courtroom the day before. “Probation. Arson. Assault. Trespassing.” Clark listed off the charges of the cases being heard that morning.
Lois looked at the copy of the docket she’d been able to finagle from one of the bailiffs in exchange for crappy seats at the Metros game. “Mayson was the prosecuting attorney for three of those. Nathan Taylor was the prosecutor on the assault case.”
“What about the defense?” Clark asked. “How many of those cases was Snell on?”
Lois scanned the list, “All of them.”
“Really?” Clark’s eyebrows shot up.
“Maybe Mr. Snell has some enemies he doesn’t know about?” Lois suggested.
“Think the bomb might have been targeted at Snell?” Clark asked, peering over her shoulder as she pulled up what they’d been given by her source with the Police Commissioner’s office.
“Right now, he’s looking like our target.” She pulled up the maps of all known Intergang activity.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Checking something.” She said, searching for ‘Cost Mart locations’ in the search bar.
“Cost Mart stores?” He asked, wrinkling his forehead.
“Snell worked for Church.” She reminded him.
“You think the Cost Mart stores are a front?” He asked, following her line of thinking.
“Yep,” she pulled up the map of the CostMart store locations and took a screen shot. On her other screen, she pulled up the map of Intergang activity and compared the two side by side. “Now, this is just a wild guess, but something tells me these two maps lining up like this is not a coincidence.”
“Jimmy!” they both called in unison.
“We need to get everything we can on Church,” Clark said as Jimmy walked up to them.
“And Snell.” Lois reminded him.
“Snell who?” Jimmy looked at them perplexed.
“Jimmy, we need you to dig up everything you can find on Cost Mart stores, Bill Church and anything related to an organization or Intergang…” Clark began reciting off as Jimmy frantically began jotting down notes.
“And see what you can find out about Martin Snell. Something tells me he’s not just a private counsel. Check bank records. Check employment records. Anything and everything you can find.” Lois added.
“You got it.” Jimmy nodded.
“Great, hopefully, we can nip this in the bud soon,” Lois said, glancing at Jimmy’s retreating figure. “As much as I do enjoy seeing you in that uniform I really miss the tights and the cape.” She whispered at a volume she knew only he could hear.
“Well, it would help if Dr. Klein was able to locate the homing devices that are being used.” He smiled looking down at her, “You know, it was a pretty good idea to go undercover. I never would have thought about—” A look crossed his face and he frowned.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Maybe we’re going about this the wrong way.” He whispered to her.
“Going about what?” she asked.
“We’re looking for something they could have affected everyone here with. We’re looking for technology that was developed at STAR Labs, right?” he stood up and reached for her phone to dial.
“Yes, but I’m still not following.” Lois sighed.
“How many scientists do you think worked on that team to develop that technology?” Clark asked.
“You think one of the scientists works for Intergang?” Lois guessed.
“Bingo.” He grinned at her.
TBC…Comments Go Here