******

"Here, Clark. Can you take him for a minute?" Lois asked, handing Jake to Clark as she rummaged in her purse for her keys. "This shouldn't take too long. I just want to grab the mail and check the answering machine."

"Take your time, sweetheart. We've got all day."

As they walked the short corridor to her apartment, Lois couldn't help but wonder at how weird it felt to be back after such a short time. She'd lived in this apartment for nearly three years, and it seemed like she should miss it. It surprised her just how little she did; how quickly she had come to consider Clark's apartment "home."

As they reached the door, Lois was still fumbling for her keys.

"Honey?"

Clark's wary tone caught her attention immediately. "What?" she asked, lifting her head and following his gaze to the door.

"Oh, no," she moaned, her hand stretching to touch the crack that splintered down the doorjamb, leaving the door just slightly ajar.

He captured her hand gently, returning it to her side.

He x-rayed the apartment quickly. "There's no one here, but the place is a disaster," he said, nudging the door open with his foot.

"Oh, God," Lois gasped. The room was in shambles. Furniture was overturned, drawers dumped, papers and disks from her desk strewn around the room.

"Don't touch anything. I'm calling the police," Clark said, pulling out his cell phone.

Fifteen minutes later Detective Henderson and a small entourage of MPD officers entered Lois' apartment.

"So, who'd you tick off this time, Lane?" Henderson asked as he gave the room a once over.

"This isn't a joke, Henderson!"

"Honey," Clark said softly, placing a hand on her arm.

"All right, Lois. I'm sorry. Let's get to the bottom of this. Can you tell me approximately when this happened?"

"I don't know," she said softly. At Henderson's raised eyebrow, she continued. "I haven't been here in about a week. I stopped by last Thursday to check the mail. This morning is the first time I've been back since."

"Lois has been staying with me for the past couple of weeks," Clark added.

"Congratulations," Henderson said dryly. "You can send my wedding invitation to the precinct."

Lois glared at him.

"All right, Lois. Calm down. I'll have my men search the place for evidence, and then you can put it all back together again. There's no need to panic. I've seen your place look worse than this."

"It's different now," Lois said shakily.

Henderson's head snapped up. In all the times her life and property had been threatened, he had heard Lois react with anger, annoyance, frustration, and determination. Never had she reacted with fear, at least not in his presence.

"Excuse us for a minute," Clark said, guiding Lois into the deserted hallway.

As soon as they were alone, he pulled her into a one-armed hug and stroked her hair. "It's ok, sweetheart. You know I won't let anything happen to you."

"It's not me I'm worried about," she said softly, pulling out of his embrace.

"I know," he said, relinquishing Jake to her outstretched arms.

Lois slid down the wall, sitting cross-legged on the floor. Clark sat next to her quietly.

"It's not just me that's in danger anymore, Clark. What if Jake had been in there?" Lois asked, a hint of desperation edging into her voice. "It's just like you said the other day. We can't just pretend that we have only ourselves to think about anymore. If this had happened before Jake, I would have just blown it off. But now we have him, and…"

Clark tugged her into his arms, sighing as he felt her head rest against his chest. "I'll never let anyone hurt him, Lois. You know that. I'll do everything, *everything* in my power to protect you two."

"I know," she whispered. "I'm just so scared. If something happens to him…"

"Nothing is going to happen to him. I promise," he said fervently.

For a few moments they sat silently.

"Is this what it's like to be a parent?" she asked quietly. "To love someone so much that the thought of them being hurt is more terrifying than any possible threat to your own life?"

Clark couldn't answer through the lump in his throat, so he merely pulled her tighter. Finally, Jake began to stir and whimper.

"He's probably hungry," Lois said.

"The diaper bag is still in the apartment. Stay here. I'll go get his bottle."

Clark slipped out from behind her and entered the apartment. He quickly located the bottle, and nearly ran over Henderson on his way back out.

"Hey, is she all right? I've never seen her like that." The concern in the detective's eyes bellied his gruff voice.

"She'll be fine. She's just a little nervous."

"It's the baby, isn't it?"

Clark looked at Henderson in surprise.

"I heard a rumor you two were playing house, but I couldn't believe it. I mean, I just never pictured Lois as the June Cleaver type. But, I have two kids of my own, and I recognize that look in her eyes. That's pure maternal instinct."

Clark nodded slowly.

"Go ahead," Henderson said, looking at the bottle at jerking his head toward the door. "I'll let you know if we need anything."

Clark thanked him and hurried back to Lois. He handed her the bottle and slipped back behind her, guiding her to lean back against his chest. Lois bent her head to kiss Jake softly of the forehead. She straightened, and Clark wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling her neck.

They were still in that position when Henderson appeared before them, clearing his throat to announce his presence.

"We're all finished in there. I just need you to come down to the station and give me your statements. The door is broken. I don't suggest you stay here until you can get that fixed… I assume that's not a problem."

******

"We've got to figure out who did this. It's got to be Myerson, or someone who works for him, right? We're too close; they're getting scared," Lois said, pacing back and forth across Clark's living room.

After a superspeed cleanup job, and a frustrating hour at the police station, Lois and Clark had finished the rest of their errands, and returned home for a quiet dinner. Their intention had been to curl up on the couch and watch a video, but as the night progressed Lois became more and more antsy.

"I think that's definitely the most likely option, and the way your files and computer disks were ransacked, I'd guess they were trying to find out just how much information you have on them."

Clark's eyes followed her as she paced in front of him. Suddenly, the shrill ring of the telephone startled them both.

Lois pounced on it. "Hello?!" She paused for a second. "Just a second. Clark, it's for you."

Clark took the phone. "Hello?"

The man on the other end of the line paused nervously. When he spoke again, he kept his voice low, as if he was purposely keeping it unrecognizable.

"Are you the Clark Kent that works for the Daily Planet?"

"Yes. Who is this?" Clark tilted the phone and motioned for Lois to keep listening.

"I… I can't give you my name. Look, I hear you and your partner have been looking into CSH labs and Dr. Myerson. I think I have some information you could use.

Lois' eyes lit up.

"Ok, I'm listening," Clark said. "Go on."

"Myerson never gave up on his dream of finding a vaccine for HIV. When he was denied the chance to experiment on children legally, he went underground. Charles Huntington, the owner of CSH Labs, has been funding Myerson's study for the last five years."

Lois and Clark's eyes locked. This was it. This was the break they had been looking for.

"What else can you tell us?"

"Plenty, but I'm not going to do it over the phone. Look, I just wanted to warn you that they're on to you, and tell you to watch your backs. I'm really busy this week, but if you can meet me on Friday night, I'll tell you everything I know."

"Just tell me when and where," Clark said.

"Meet me in Centennial Park, by the fountain," he said. "Nine o'clock. I know who you are, so I'll approach you. Oh, and come alone. Don't tell anyone else about this. I'm risking a lot by offering you this information. I'm not going to stick my neck out any further than I have to."

Clark quickly agreed and hung up the phone.

"This is it!" Lois exclaimed.

Clark grinned. "I hope so. In the meantime, I want you to be extremely careful. You heard what he said about them suspecting us, and you saw what they did to your apartment. Just promise me you won't take any extra risks."

Lois held back for a second, then caved at Clark's exasperated look. "Ok, ok. I promise. But, you know, it's not like I go looking for trouble. Somehow it just seems to find me."

Clark snorted skeptically. "Sure, Lois. You just keep telling yourself that."

******

Lois and Clark sat on the edge of the fountain talking idly while they waited for their unnamed source to show up. Jimmy had agreed to babysit, and while Lois was still a little nervous about leaving him in charge, she had to admit it was nice to spend a little one-on-one time with Clark. They had taken advantage of the late meeting by going out to dinner first, and making a pact not to discuss either the story or the baby for the entire duration. She smiled as she thought about how pleasant the conversation had been; how much she loved him. Of course, dinner was over now, and neither the case, nor the baby, was taboo subject matter anymore…

Clark lowered his glasses slightly, and was so busy scanning the area that he totally missed the beginning of what Lois was telling him."

"So, I think that when we go to the grocery store tomorrow we should get some babyfood."

"What? Babyfood?! Is he really ready for that?"

"Clark, haven't you been listening to a word I've said?"

"Sorry," he said sheepishly, pushing his glasses back in place. "What were you saying?"

"I was saying that all of the books say you should start your baby on babyfoods at about four months, and Jake is going to be four months old tomorrow. I have noticed that he seems to be eating more and more lately, I really think he's ready to start."

"Wow. Yeah, I guess you're right, I just can't believe he's already old enough for baby food. You know what else we need? A highchair."

"Ooh, yeah. You're right."

"I bet my parents still have mine up in the attic. We can give them a call tomorrow and see."

"Great. I think we should start Jake on vegetables, because I was reading this book that said-"

"Lane and Kent?"

"Yeah, that's us," Lois said as she sprang to her feet.

Clark stood and offered his hand to the man. He looked at Clark warily from under his hat, then extended his arm.

"Thanks for meeting with us," Clark said. "We really appreciate it."

"Look. This is all off the record. I mean, you can print whatever you want, but I don't want my name associated with it. What I'm telling you could get me in a whole lot of trouble."

"No problem. We'll do everything we can to protect your anonymity," Clark assured him. "Now, what can you tell us about Myerson?"

"Originally, Myerson's plan was to take administer the vaccine at the same time they were given their other childhood inoculations. He soon realized, though, that for the vaccine to be truly effective, it would have to be administered with as many as three booster shots spread through the first five years of the child's life. Additionally, the first vaccination would have to take place in utero."

Lois and Clark both gasped.

"Myerson employs a small group of men at each lab whose sole job is to screen donor women. They get a stipend every month to scout for them. These 'volunteers,' as the women are called, are all screened to make sure they are young, healthy, and likely to be able to have children. They are all first-time mothers who are very poor, and have a weak support system. Women who are likely to let their boyfriend make decisions for them. The men then approach these women, and woo them. The goal is to get them pregnant as fast as possible."

"And once they are pregnant?" Clark asked.

"The 'boyfriends' convince the girls to give the baby up for adoption. 'The Agency' then takes over all prenatal care, telling the girl it is standard procedure. They are given excellent prenatal care, as the health of the baby is imperative. But along with the standard prenatal care, they are also given a dose of the vaccine. It's injected during the second trimester, and the mother's are simply told it's a concentrated dose of vitamins. The vaccine doesn't affect the mothers, but it does seep into the bloodstream, giving the baby it's first dose of the drug."

"After the children are born, what happens to them?" Clark asked tersely.

"They are placed in group homes. Because the adoptions are private there is no government regulation. The mothers never have any idea where their baby goes, and the fathers don't know the specifics, and don't care. They get a bonus for each child successfully delivered to the agency. The homes are run by efficient and competent staff, and the children's health is constantly monitored. They receive vaccinations at six months, two years, three and half years, and finally, they will receive one on their fifth birthday. None of the children in the program have reached their fifth birthday yet, of course."

"And once they are given the final vaccination?"

"They will be infected with the virus."

Lois and Clark blanched. They had expected as much, but to hear it laid out in such straightforward terms was horrifying.

"You've been involved with this project for a long time. Why have you decided to come forward now?" Clark asked shakily.

"Mr. Kent, this vaccine is not going to work. I've been working in the Metropolis lab from the beginning of this project. In the beginning, I honestly believed that this was going to work. I was willing to break the law because I thought the ends justified the means. But, I've run the numbers over and over. This is *not* going to work. And in less than a year, Myerson is going to infect the first of the children with HIV, and the vaccine is not going to protect them."

"Oh my God," Lois whispered. This was the worst-case scenario. Innocent children being purposely infected with HIV in order to test a vaccine that would surely be unable to protect them.

"Do you have any evidence?" she asked suddenly.

"Once I realized that the vaccine was not going to work, I confronted Myerson. He refused to acknowledge my findings, so I started making copies of incriminating documents. I have copies of some of the women's files, plus copies of all of the Myerson's research, and my research that refutes his claims."

Lois and Clark exchanged excited looks.

"The papers are in a safe deposit box. I'll meet back here next Saturday. Noon," He said, then spun on his heel and disappeared into the shadows before they could even thank him.
_________________________
Journalism is the first rough draft of history -- Philip Graham

To love what you do and feel that it matters -- how could anything be more fun? -- Katharine Graham