5 – What’s in the Box?
Clark had barely reached the newsroom when his line began to ring.
“Clark you know it’s me. I’m on my way up. I’m waiting for the elevator.”
“Okay Lois. How’d you get here so fast?”
“I flew Clark! How do you think? You didn’t do too bad yourself, considering. I had Richard drop me off and I told him I’d catch a cab. I’m surprised you made it here at all. The elevator’s here.” With that, Lois ended the call and dashed into the elevator.
Clark walked to the utility closet, pulled the key from his pocket and unlocked it. He took the package out and carried it over to his desk, just as Lois was coming out of the elevator.
“Clark?” Lois whispered. “Let’s take it into Richard’s office and open it there. So, lucky you, hunh?” Lois said as she tossed her head and folded her arms as she stood in front of Richard’s desk.
“What do you mean Lois?” Clark asked, focused on carefully taking the package out of its wrapping. “There’s no return address. I hope they scanned this thing for explosives and chemicals in the mail room,” Clark muttered, knowing full well he’d done it himself.
“Jillian—she certainly doesn’t waste any time, does she?”
“Well, not really…what?” he answered in distraction. “Lois, if you don’t mind my asking, does Jillian bother you?”
“Me? Why should she bother me? Just because she walks in here out of nowhere and you’re making out in a public restaurant the very same night?”
“Lois, were you spying on me?” Clark asked, turning his head to look up at her.
“Of course not. I just wonder about a woman like that—like she’s desperate or something,” Lois said, flipping through Richard’s appointment book.
“Jillian is hardly desperate. Lois, the truth, is it that you think a smart, beautiful woman like Jillian wouldn’t find me appealing.” Clark stood and folded his arms at his chest and looked down at her with a frown.
“The truth you say? Okay Clark, the truth. To be honest, I’ve always found you very sweet and unassuming. A chick magnet, no.” Lois looked up at him and smirked.
“I appreciate your honesty Lois.” Clark turned back to the task at hand but kept his eyes low and fought back a pout.
“Clark, I didn’t mean it like…”
Clark swallowed hard and raised an eyebrow at her as he opened the box. He wanted to end the conversation and get this done.
“A letter?” asked Lois.
“And a cell phone.”
Lois picked up the cell phone and looked at it. “Nothing special about this,” she said setting it back down on the desk.
“Turn it on,” Clark said, as he opened the envelope.
“Because there’s a note in here that says, ‘Turn on cell phone now.’”
“Oh, okay then.” Lois obliged.
Clark slowly slid a folded letter out of the envelope and opened it. Lois could see Clark’s face in the soft light reflected from the desk lamp and noticed a look of worry growing in his eyes behind his glasses.
“What is it Clark?” she asked as she walked around the desk and stood at his side as he read.
“Hello Mr. Kent and Miss Lane. Who do YOU trust?”
They read together with their eyes wide and were both very confused.
“Hopefully, each other. Today was just a little test you see. Now I’m 100% certain Mr. Kent. I’m sure you understand but is Miss Lane aware? Is anyone?”
Lois snatched the note from Clark’s hand and walked with it as she read.
She began to read it aloud.
“Trust is a very important thing. We all wonder who we can trust. We wonder what to believe. We think we know but then, we realize we don’t. Therein lays the human weakness. Therein lays my destiny and my opportunity.
Keep the cell phone close. I suggest Mr. Kent keep it closest. After all, he’s the one who’ll know exactly what to do. Do you trust him Miss Lane? Don’t let him out of your sight for long.
People do change you know.
Technology is a wonderful thing, wouldn’t you say Mr. Kent? I’m sure you’ll be a formidable challenger.”
“What is he talking about?” Lois shrieked. “What’s happening, Clark?”
Clark sat frighteningly still and then turned suddenly to Lois.
“I, I don’t know Lois. I, I…”
“Exactly how much do you know about computers and why do you know this?”
“Lois, stop. Calm down,” Clark said getting up from the chair and gently sitting Lois down.
“Lois, listen, yes. I, I…”
“The truth, Clark,” Lois said glaring at him.
“I studied technology and I guess it’s more than a hobby. I guess it’s a knack.”
“A knack? Then who is this person and what;s going on?” she insisted.
“I don’t know why I didn’t see it. I should have.”
“The computer in your apartment, does it have internet access?”
“Yes but I had it disconnected when I moved out but we don’t even know if this is for real. This could all be some sick joke.”
“But what if it’s not? In other words, this could be bad. This could be very bad, Lois.” Clark sighed as he leaned back against Richard’s desk, trying to figure out what to do next. “We’ll take this to police headquarters in the morning and have it checked for finger prints.”
“So if this is for real, what do you think he’ll do next?”
“If this is some super hi-tech hacker Lois, he or she could unleash some virus or worm that could potentially infect every major corporation in the world, causing all kinds of problems. Not that that isn’t bad enough.”
“But if it’s more than that?”
“I don’t know, Lois. I think we should just wait and see what happens. I mean, there’s no sense in jumping to conclusions.” Clark turned away from her for a moment and closed his eyes.
“Clark?” Lois’ voice softened as she touched his arm and he turned back to her, and looked down into her eyes. They were filled with fear and confusion. “Can Superman help you?”
“If we need him, I’m counting on it Lois.” Clark said as he took her hand.
“I’ll probably see him. I’ll explain it as best I can,” Lois said as she turned to look out Richard’s window into the night sky.
“We have some let’s just say, unfinished business.”
Clark slouched and felt his heart sink. “Thank you Lois. I’ll need all the help I can get,” he managed to put into words.
“No, thank you,” Lois said rising to her feet and up onto her toes and placed a gentle kiss on Clark’s cheek. She turned and headed for the door and then stopped. “Clark? Does anyone else know? I mean, about what you know?”
“The computer stuff? No, well except what Haver knows.”
“I’ll call first thing in the morning and have the Internet access reconnected at my apartment,” Lois said as she slipped into her coat and Clark fumbled to help her.
“Lois?” Clark smirked.
“Yes?” She said through a yawn.
“You have spaghetti on your blouse.”
“I know Clark. I know,” she said looking down at the stain.
“You go home and get some sleep. I’ll take care of the report for Perry.”
“So, we’re just going to ride this out?”
“It’s our only option for now.”
“This has been a very strange and extraordinary day, Clark. I’ve had my eyes opened for me, that’s for sure.” Lois said, looking at him as he put the letter back in the box and picked up the cell phone and placed it in his pocket.
“In reference to what?”
“You’re smart, you’re a great listener and best of all you’re even brave,” she said, patting him on the chest.
“Well, thank you Lois. That means a lot to me.” Clark slid into his overcoat and smiled, as his heart slid back into place.
“Maybe this Jillian saw it right off. How could I have known you all this time and not seen you?”
“Maybe you weren’t looking.” Clark stepped closer to where she stood in the doorway and stopped, pausing to look down at her for a second and then pushed the door open the rest of the way and walked out. “C’mon. I’ll go down with you and wait until you’re safely in the taxi.”
As the cab pulled up to the curb, Lois gave Clark one last look and said, “I’m glad you’re my friend, Clark Kent.”
Clark smiled as he closed the taxi door, leaned in the window and said, “me too.”
6 – Who’s Your Daddy?
“Hello Mr. Kent. Is Miss Lane with you? No, of course she isn’t. The good Miss Lane has a home and family to go to now. Why would she be with you at this hour?”
“Who is this?”
“Oh, in due time Mr. Kent, in due time.”
“Whatever or whoever you are, why are you dragging Lois into this? She doesn’t know anything about me.”
“Oh contare, Mr. Kent. I think she’s aware of much more than you give her credit for and if she isn’t, well, she will be soon.”
“No,” Clark snapped. “Look, I’m just a reporter and I don’t know what you’re…”
“Oh you most certainly do Mr. Kent. You most certainly do.”
“Since you have all of the answers, why don’t you tell me then?”
“No one on this poor pitiful planet could have repaired the damage I did at the courthouse.”
“Yes, I must confess, it was me. Although, I do feel badly for those poor gentlemen that you brought to justice, it’s amazing the stupid things that humans will do for money isn’t it…Mr. Kent?”
Humans? “That was Superman whoever you are, not me.”
“Oh come now Mr. Kent, I went to all of this trouble to find you, the least you can do is not insult my intelligence. After all…I knew you when.”
With a sudden click, the phone was dead. Clark felt a knot in his throat as if he had just swallowed a Kryptonite aspirin. “This is one of Luthor’s sick tricks,” he thought to himself.
“After all…I knew you when,” he said to himself. “When what?” He’d been there and seen for himself there was no one left—nothing but a graveyard.
This wouldn’t be the first time that some criminal element had managed to find their way to Earth but he was sure they were somewhere at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, encased in ice forever. Luthor had the crystals, so the Fortress was rendered useless. There was no way they could have escaped and regained their powers.
This was someone else and he knew in time, he’d find out exactly who it was. Clark gathered up his things and headed to the apartment. He’d make a quick fly by Lois’ house first, just to make sure that this psycho hadn’t gotten to them…yet.
Lois arrived back at the home she shared with Richard and Jason around eleven o’clock. She paid the taxi driver and slowly began to walk up to the door. She paused for just a moment, looked at the sky and then put her key in the lock.
“Lois, you’re home,” Richard said as he helped her out of her coat and hung it on the rack by the door.
“Hey, is little man asleep?”
“Yeah, he passed out right after we came home. You know how tired he gets, especially after a big meal like that and a bath.”
Lois kicked off her shoes and flopped down on the sofa and Richard joined her. “Thank you.”
“For what?” Richard asked as he rubbed her shoulders.
“For taking such good care of Jason,” Lois said through a wide yawn.
“Lois, you’re really tense.”
“I’ll be alright Richard. I just need some sleep.” Lois got up from the sofa and headed toward Jason’s room.
“Okay honey, I’ll see you when you come to bed.” Richard looked back over his shoulder at her and swallowed hard. His eyes were glassy and just rising from the sofa appeared to take extreme effort.
He only nodded and followed her down the hall.
She quietly opened the door and stepped into Jason’s room, being very careful not to wake him. Lois stood gazing at her son lovingly and then leaned in and kissed his forehead as he slept. Jason’s eyes fluttered open and he looked up at her.
“Oh hi mommy,” he whispered as he rubbed his sleepy eyes.
“Shhh…I’m sorry sweetheart. Mommy didn’t mean to wake you.”
“It’s okay mommy. I love you.” Jason turned on his side and fell back into a deep little boy sleep.
Lois slowly crept back out of Jason’s room and closed the door without a sound. She tip toed down the hall and turned into the bedroom and found Richard sitting on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands.
“Richard, are you alright?” she asked as she closed the door behind her.
“I know how tired you are. I’m a little tired myself but I have to talk to you about all of this or I’m going to go insane.”
“All of what?” Lois asked as she sat down on the chair across from the bed facing him. She knew exactly what he was asking, without him even asking it.
“I’m about to say these words and they sound totally normal in my head but I’m afraid once they come out, they’ll sound completely crazy. I just need to know.”
“Yes Richard, Kal, is Jason’s father. Is that what you want to ask? It certainly took you long enough.” Lois breathed a heavy sigh and slumped forward in her seat and lowered her head. When she raised it again, her eyes filled with tears. She couldn’t bear to hurt Richard but she had gone on long enough with this facade and now that Superman was back and knew Jason was his son, Richard needed that truth as well. Superman was entitled to his child, Jason was entitled to his birth right and Richard was entitled to have a choice in what was going to happen in his life.
“Lois, you said you never loved him.” Richard raised his voice.
“Richard please…Jason will hear you,” Lois pleaded through a whisper. “Please Richard, if not for me, for Jason?”
“Well? Were you ever going to tell me that Jason’s father was not only alive but Superman or Kal for God’s sakes?”
“You have to believe me when I tell you, I was in love with Kal and I don’t understand it at all anymore. It seems like a hundred years ago now. So much has happened.”
“Well, obviously something happened because the proof is right down the hall.”
“Kal and I had spent a lot of time together and it may sound crazy but even though we were from completely different worlds, it was as if this was all supposed to happen.”
“So, why couldn’t you just tell me the truth, the first time you let me into Jason’s life? Before you let me fall in love with the both of you?”
“Oh yeah, think about it—Richard, this is my son Jason, his father is gone and from what I have managed to find out, he’s on his way through space as we speak to look for his planet and by the way, Jason is Superman’s son,” she said with a thick injection of sarcasm.
“I feel like a fool. That’s what I feel like. You told me Jason’s father was dead,” Richard said running his hands back and forth over his head as if he were trying to wake from a bad dream. “Well, he’s back now Lois. I suppose you can just pick up where you left off.”
“Don’t say that. How dare you?”
“Well what do you want me to say? Let’s invite him for dinner? He can have every other weekend and two weeks every summer?”
“Richard, please. This is hard for me too. I thought I’d never see him again, why else would I have written that article?”
“So what now? What do we do because I don’t have any answers, that’s for sure?” Richard asked, falling back onto the bed.
“He wants to be in Jason’s life. He wants Jason to know who he is and his history.”
“Is Jason…like him Lois?” Richard asked, staring up at the ceiling.
“He’s done a few things, yes but he’s mostly human so far.”
“I love you Lois but I don’t know if I can do this. I mean, before he left you, carrying his son in your womb, you loved him. You loved him enough to have his child.”
“He…he didn’t know.”
“He didn’t know what?”
“He didn’t know I was pregnant when he left. I didn’t even know until a few weeks later but by then…”
“And along come’s me right?”
“Well, after Jason was born of course and Richard, I told you Jason’s father was dead because to me, in my heart, he was.”
“Do you still love him Lois?” Richard dried his eyes and sat up on the bed. He needed to see Lois face when she answered the question.
“Richard, I love him for giving me Jason but I know in my heart, we could never be together.”
“Do you love me Lois?”
“Of course I do.”
“Are you in love with me?” Richard leaned forward off the bed. So close, he could feel her breath on his face.
“What do you mean? I love you.”
“No. Are you in love with me? Or did you just pick the best possible substitute for a father?”
“I need to know!” Richard stood up and walked to the door of the bedroom.
“I don’t know Richard…I don’t know…” Lois’ tears began to roll down her face in streams and she swiped them away with her bare hands.
“I’m sorry Lois. I love you both but…I can’t compete with him. At least now I know why you wouldn’t marry me.” Richard grabbed his coat and car keys and was out of the driveway before Lois reached the porch. She ran down the steps and watched the taillights of the car as they faded out of sight.
Lois sat down on the front porch and wept. The truth was liberating but it had possibly liberated her from Richard completely.
“Lois?” A familiar voice said as she raised her head from beneath her folded arms.
“Are you here to take what’s left?”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t catch all that because I wouldn’t believe you.”
“I caught it Lois. I think you were very brave and I’m very sorry.”
“Brave? I just inflicted the worst possible kind of pain on the least responsible person. I can assure you, that was not brave.”
“You have to believe. Wouldn’t it be worse to not tell him and have him go on believing a lie?”
“Kal, my life is in the toilet right now. The last thing I need is a sermon on truth.”
“If Richard decides he wants to move on without you, I still love you very much and I’ll always be here for you and Jason.”
“Well Superman, we don’t know the answer to that yet, now do we? If you hadn’t left, you realize none of this would have happened?” Lois leaned forward and covered her face with her hands.
“Yes and I’ll support you in whatever you choose to do, every step of the way. I told you, I’ll never leave you again.”
Suddenly Clark popped into Lois head and the bigger picture came into focus.
“Oh my God, I have something to tell you.”