Clark chuckled, shaking his head. “Where do you get these, Richard? They’re so bad they’re funny.”
“Dumb jokes dot com,” he replied. “No, seriously. They have stuff I haven’t heard since grade school. Like the one that goes, ‘Two guys walk into a bar…’”
“And the third one ducks,” Clark said, grinning, and then felt as sudden pang as he remembered just who had sprung that one on him. Lois and her warped sense of humor.
“Yeah,” Richard said. “You all right, Kent? You look a little melancholy there. Homesickness is supposed to happen when you’re away, not when you get back.”
Clark forced a laugh. “Well, I guess it never really hit me how much I missed home until I got here,” he replied, feeling that casual remark echo through the past two months, back to the first moment he’d stepped from the spacecraft and seen green corn again, felt the breeze on his face. “I mean, we were a little too busy to be nostalgic down in Mexico.”
“True,” Richard replied with a sigh. “It’s a good thing those guys in Tijuana can’t aim worth a damn.”
They can aim just fine, Richard, they just weren’t counting on me catching the bullets, Clark thought. He’d had to be very quick, faster than Richard could even see, and thankfully the smugglers were far enough away that they thought they’d simply missed. “Being a reporter’s more dangerous now than it used to be,” he said quietly. “People target us specifically.”
“A free press is a dangerous thing,” Richard countered, “to people involved in illegal activities and to oppressive governments. They fear us, rightly, and they’re willing to go to any lengths to maintain their secrecy. But if we didn’t do our jobs, we’d be letting those people win. And I for one am not inclined to let them win.”
Clark just nodded thoughtfully. Any possibility of making an intelligent and insightful reply shattered at the sound of a woman’s voice. A familiar woman’s voice, raised cheerfully. “Clark! Hey, Clark, fancy meeting you here!”
Richard saw Clark turn to look, and suddenly break into a wide, boyish grin as the voice’s owner made her way through the crowd.
Lois was not having a good morning. She hadn’t slept well, but then, she never did these days. Her hair was trying to frizz, and her favorite eyeliner had gone missing. When she took her cell phone off the charger, she realized that it was still flashing LOW BATTERY, and took a closer look at the charger itself. None of its lights were on, meaning the damn thing was broken. And the spare charger was at work.
The iguana had gotten out while she neatened up the living room, and it whipped her with its tail when she tried to push it away with the vacuum’s hose attachment. Jason had to rescue them from each other, cooing sleepy blandishments to the lizard while Lois put iodine on the fresh welts on her ankles.
It was nearly time to leave, but the twins were dawdling, still logy from last night’s dose of Triaminic. And to make matters worse, Lois could feel her sinuses drying out, a sure sign that she was coming down with their cold. Richard hadn’t called from the airport like he said he would, and she began to worry that his flight was delayed.
I have to call Mom and tell her I’m bringing the kids over, Lois thought, adjusting her favorite pinstriped suit jacket. And I have to leave in five minutes if I don’t want to be late.
“Mommy?” Kala said, walking slowly up to her.
“Oh, baby, what’s wrong?” Lois asked, almost kneeling to brush the hair off her daughter’s forehead.
Kala looked very unhappy, and her skin was warm under Lois’ hand. “I don’t feel so guh…”
Then, in mid-sentence, her breakfast of oatmeal returned.
Lois froze in horror, oatmeal dripping off her suit, her hair… Oh my God. Don’t throw up, don’t throw up…
Kala, seeing what she had just done and already feeling awful, began to cry. “Mommeeeee, I’m sorry,” she wailed, shivering as her stomach roiled. Her loud, harsh sobs brought Jason running, but when he saw their mother slowly standing up and looking like she’d been showering in slightly-used oatmeal, he started crying, too.
Lois felt like bawling herself. I give up! I just plain give up this morning! How could this possibly get any worse?
An hour later, after calming the twins down, cleaning up the kitchen, having another shower, and getting dressed again, she had her answer. Traffic was fairly light getting out to her mother’s house, but heading back into the city it was a nightmare. Lois gripped her steering wheel hard enough to make her knuckles turn white, and glared angrily at her cell phone. If she’d had some charge left in it, she could’ve called Perry and let him know what was going on, maybe ask if he knew anything about Richard’s plane. As it was, though, she found herself completely cut off from communication.
This is it. This is the absolutely worst morning of my life.
Okay, this is the second – the third worst morning in my life. The first was the morning after I broke up with him, the second was when my memories finally came back and I realized just how screwed over I was. At least this miserable start to my day has nothing to do with a certain man in a cape.
I’m going to be almost two hours late. At least it can’t get any worse than this.
The employees at the Daily Planet had learned to get out of Lois’ way when she stalked into work with that expression on her face. It meant that her own personal little doom cloud was following her, and it had a tendency to rain on whoever got in her way. They didn’t openly avoid her, they just sort of drifted somewhere she wasn’t.
All except the breakroom crowd, that is. Lois’ usual Starbucks had a line all the way outside of the store, but caffeine was utterly necessary, so she steeled herself for the awful newsroom brew. Unfortunately, Polly Matheson was holding forth in wistful tones as Lois entered, surrounded by the usual crowd of slackers and Babette from Accounting, the one honest employee just there for the coffee.
“He is so utterly dreamy – I know, I sound like a high school girl, but oh, that man! Lois was crazy to let him get away…” Her voice trailed off as she saw Lois heading for the coffee pot, the black-haired reporter’s jaw firmly clenched.
The loiterers who had egged Polly on, a mixed crowd who preferred gossip to work, all fell quiet at the sight of their boss, though they secretly hoped for a confrontation. Lois had been closemouthed about Superman for the last few years, and perhaps if she unloaded on Polly they’d get a few juicy tidbits…
Polly herself had the decency to blush. In the face of Lois’ stony silence, she could only say, “Lois, I didn’t mean that to sound… I mean, if it was me…”
“It wasn’t you,” Lois said brusquely. “It was me. And it wasn’t what you think it was, either. I had a bit of a flirtation with him, hardly anything to get worked up over. When he left, I moved on with my life. Case closed.” Ignoring the murmurs of Oh, really? from the back of her mind, Lois added creamer and sugar to the oily black liquid in her coffee mug.
The crowd radiated curiosity, but Lois had no intention of saying anything else on the topic if she could avoid it. Finally Polly burst out, “It sounded like a whole lot more than that. From your articles and stuff. I mean, I Spent the Night with Superman?”
Hazel eyes narrowed as Lois tried to keep her tone civil. “Polly, I didn’t pick that headline. Perry did. Same way he picks all of the front-page headlines. And he does it for the shock value; all of you know that. Furthermore, I had just met him and I was interviewing him. I don’t mix business with pleasure, and I don’t sleep with anyone on the first date. Not even aliens.” It was unlike her to be so blunt about that little fact, but some traitorous part of her wanted to remind Polly that the man she was rhapsodizing over wasn’t even human.
The younger reporter frowned disapprovingly. The comment didn’t appear to be discouraging to her; like most women, she assumed that if he looked human, he might as well be human. “Well, all I can say is, if you were in love with him, you should’ve waited for him to come back.”
“Really? In that case, you’re welcome to him. I’m not going to waste my life waiting around on a momentary attraction. If you want to sit around twiddling your thumbs and pining over a man who disappears without a word for six years, feel free to do so.” Lois had sounded almost cheerful while she spoke, and then her voice dropped to an angry hiss. “But not on my time. All of you have jobs, right? If you want to still have them ten minutes from now, get to work!”
The group scattered, all except Babette, who grinned and gave her a thumbs up. “Get ‘em, Lane,” she whispered. “I hate it when the gossipy crowd gets between me and my morning dose of motor oil. Nosy buggers.”
For the first time that morning, Lois smiled. “Thanks.” As she headed over to the bullpen, she almost thought the morning wasn’t a complete waste of makeup after all.
Lois cruised past the cluster of reporters in animated conversation just inside the door, then halted. Ron was just coming out of International and saw her weary but basically okay expression vanish, replaced by blank disbelief. Lois took several steps backward and slowly turned to look at the group by the door.
At its center was a stunning redhead whose appearance immediately reminded Lois that she herself had slept three hours last night and been puked on this morning. Surrounding the woman were several male Daily Planet employees, including Jimmy Olsen, Jerry Ellison from the Nightlife section, and Brian Beateau from the Arts department. But standing closest to her, and smiling as if bewitched, were Clark and Richard.
Even from several yards away, Ron could see Lois take a deep breath as her eyes narrowed slightly. Her expression looked calm and even friendly as she walked up to the group – unless you knew Lane women, knew that the exquisitely slow inhale through the nose was their equivalent of a boiler’s high-pressure valve whistling. Ron headed their way, trying to get Jimmy’s attention and get him out of the line of fire.
Richard and Clark were both listening to the redhead, utterly absorbed, until a wonderfully cordial voice said, “Richard, darling. I’m so glad you got in on time; I was worried about you when you didn’t call.”
The International editor winced. “Lois, honey, I’m sorry. Clark and I ran into Ms. Lang at the airport and…”
“Lang? As in Lana Lang?” Lois said, and suddenly her voice had an edge.
“Yes, and you must be Lois Lane,” the redhead said with a dazzling smile. “I’ve heard so much about you – these two can hardly stop singing your praises long enough to tell me where the Style department is.”
The cheerleader. Clark’s first love. And I know she’s my age or older, but she looks five years younger. Lois managed to smile politely and shake her hand, but Clark knew the look on her face and started edging away. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Lang,” Lois said sweetly, and Richard finally saw the tension in her jaw. “You’re here for an interview, right? Putting on a fashion show next week, silent auction afterwards, proceeds go to charity?”
“Exactly right,” Lana said. “Are you going to be there?”
“Oh, no, I’m so sorry,” Lois replied, still with the saccharine overtone and the steel underneath. “I’m so busy lately, it’s just unreal. Wish I could, really.”
For a minute, green eyes looked into hazel, a question unspoken between them. “That’s too bad,” Lana said eventually. “I would’ve enjoyed seeing you.”
Lois just nodded, then asked courteously, “Wasn’t that interview scheduled at nine? Because it’s a quarter to ten now.”
“Oh! I’m going to be late! What a first impression to make on Ms. Vega. I hate to run like this, everyone, but…”
“It’s okay,” Richard told her. “Clark, would you walk Lana over to Style?” He cast a pleading glance after Lois as she stalked away.
Clark looked at him dubiously. “Sure,” he said, and added softly, “If I were you, I’d let Lois drink that coffee before you try talking to her. You know how she is without caffeine.”
Richard just nodded as he and the others went their separate ways, and Clark showed Lana the way to the resident fashion maven’s office. Once alone with his old flame, though, he found himself without much to say. The feelings he’d once had for her had unexpectedly mellowed into warm regard, and he didn’t want Lana to think he was still the puppy-eyed follower he had been back then.
“Life in the big city suits you, Clark,” Lana said with a wistful smile. “You’re looking fabulous.”
“Thanks,” he replied. “You, too.” Most of the how-have-you-been small talk had been exhausted on the trip from the airport to the office, and Clark had sort of known what was going on in Lana’s life courtesy of his mother. She’d broken up with the jock, Brad, shortly after graduating, then quit college and married a banker who turned out to prefer golf and young tellers to spending time with his wife.
“What got you into fashion?” Clark asked, searching for something to say.
Lana smiled. “I have a nice little PR blurb for the article, but I’ll tell you the truth. When I was in college, my roommate was a girl named Elena, an exchange student from Italy. She was studying medieval history, and one of her projects was to make a set of clothing using only the materials and technology available back then. Everyone else was going to do a simple tunic and leggings, or a peasant’s kind of dress, but Elena wanted something nicer than that, and I helped her make the kind of dress a noblewoman would wear. I’d always known how to make clothes from patterns, every girl back home does, but actually designing this entire outfit from first sketch to last stitch was so much more fun.
“It was a real challenge, too, but it looked fabulous when it was done. While I was married to Don, I kept my hand in, making clothes for myself and a few friends. Nothing big or fancy, but I developed my style while I was a bored housewife. Since I never finished my degree, it was the only real skill I had when I got divorced. As to becoming famous for it, well, I just got lucky.”
“I imagine it had more to do with determination and hard work than luck,” Clark chided her gently. “Good deal, though. What are you going to tell Agi when she interviews you?”
Lana grinned, a mischievous look Clark remembered well from the old days. “That I learned dressmaking from my mom. It’s technically true, but it leaves me more space to talk about my winter collection coming out.”
He chuckled with her as they reached the office marked Agnes Vega, Style Editor. Unfortunately, Clark’s mirth was cut short. Several floors below, his exquisite hearing picked up Lois’ voice rising. I’d better get down there, he thought with a quick wave to Agi.
Lois completely ignored everyone in the bullpen as she headed for her office, the set of her shoulders broadcasting Leave me alone as clearly as if she’d used a megaphone. Of course, the one person who should’ve recognized her state of mind immediately was also the one with the most cause to upset her.
“Dammit, Lane, where the hell have you been?” Perry barked, throwing his office door open.
All of the nastiness that Lois had held back when talking to Lana suddenly burst its bonds. She turned very slowly to look at Perry, her eyes blazing with frustration and anger. Biting her tongue, she stalked over to her boss, grabbed his tie, and dragged him into his own office before unleashing her temper in a torrent of obscenities.
The reporters in the bullpen looked at each other silently, their eyes widening. The door hadn’t shut completely, so they could hear Lois ranting.
“Your bloody nephew didn’t call this morning, here I am wondering if his plane crashed or something, and I get here to find him drooling over some Kansas cheerleader! Not to mention, my morning was lovely, thank you very much – both kids are sick, I’m getting their cold, my cell phone charger’s broken, and that goddamn dinosaur you bought my son attacked me! I have welts, Perry, freakin’ welts on my ankles from that vicious little beast!”
She went on in the same vein for several minutes, until she felt eyes in the back of her head. “And I just had to break up the subjective journalism coffee klatsch on the way in … one of you out there shut this goddamn door, it’s none of your business anyway! So I really don’t want to hear about being late when I don’t even want to be here!”
Cringing, Jimmy tiptoed to the door and shut it carefully. Vera from the secretarial pool stopped in her tracks, having heard the extremely unladylike language Lois was employing. The girl sniffed, still annoyed at having been chased out of the break room. “What’s her problem anyway? My God, Lois is such a bitch.”
“Shut up,” Jimmy snapped at her, surprising himself with his vehemence. “Ms. Lane is under a lot of pressure right now.”
“And she’s your boss, so she can fire you,” Rhea from Arts added as she breezed past with an armload of books.
Vera wisely said nothing more, hurrying back to her own department. Rhea’s column, The Eclectic Reader, was avidly followed by soccer moms and cognoscenti alike, her unbiased point of view valuable in a literary critic. Though she rarely got involved in office politics, her opinion carried a lot of weight with Perry.
Clark got to International just as Lois was winding down, and saw that Richard had wisely gone into his office to wait out Hurricane Lane. He headed to his own desk, listening to Lois rant and sympathizing with her.
“And in short, I’m sick, I’m worried about my sick kids, I’m pissed at you for giving them the messiest pets on earth and really pissed at you for that vicious lizard, I’m exhausted, my best suit is covered in partially digested oatmeal, and I’m about to hamstring your nephew for forgetting to call me! He’d rather spend time with some fashionista than let his fiancée know he’s finally back after being gone for two weeks – a dangerous trip you sent him on! So don’t screw around with me, Perry! I am not … in the mood … for this bullshit! Especially not from you!”
Pretending to type, Clark peered into Mr. White’s office, where the editor was looking at Lois very calmly. “Are you done?” he asked almost gently.
Lois paused for a minute, growling at him under her breath and running her hands through her hair. “Did I mention I hate that frikkin’ lizard?”
“Yes. Four times.”
“And your nephew’s a jerk?” She glared through the glass at Richard, who was typing up his last installment on the story and ignoring the yelling coming from Perry’s office.
“Hey, you’re the one who wants to marry him.”
Lois opened her mouth to say something, then stopped herself, glancing around the office. She didn’t catch Clark looking, but his presence was enough to silence her. “Richard still didn’t call me. How could he forget something that simple?”
“Lois, if you’re not finished kvetching, at least get me an umbrella,” Perry said. “And open a window or something – all that swearing has used up the oxygen in here.”
Lois took a deep breath and sighed heavily. “Dammit, Perry! I just didn’t need all this at once this morning, you know? First the kids, the lizard, the traffic, that twit Polly cooing over Superman and reading too much into your headline – and then when I get here, my … my fiancée is being mesmerized by some redhead! I have never felt so old and unattractive and domesticated in my life!”
Perry took hold of her shoulders and looked at her sternly. “Lois, you’re none of the above, and you ought to know it. Now listen, get yourself together and get to work. You’ll feel better once you do.”
Lois rolled her eyes. “Thanks for the fatherly advice, Chief.”
“Anytime, Lane. Oh, and could you grab me some more black pens while you’re up? Everybody steals them.”
“Sure, Perry. Just because you married your secretary doesn’t mean you should have to actually fetch your own pens out of the supply room.”
Perry grinned. “Now that’s the Lois I remember.”
Clark watched surreptitiously as Lois squared her shoulders and left Perry’s office. The City beat reporters all paid strict attention to their work as she cruised past, heading for the supply room.
If it had been a little smaller, it would be the supply closet. As it was, the space was so filled with folders, hanging files, copy paper, toner, ink, pens, pencils, notepads, and other journalistic necessities, it was quite claustrophobic. Being an interior room with no windows didn’t help that feeling at all.
Lois disappeared inside, and Clark quickly used his x-ray vision to make sure no one else was there. Perfect. She’s been dodging me for two months; maybe I can corner her long enough to explain. There’s so much to be said, and she may be angry enough about something else to listen to me … or give me a few answers. Besides, someone within ten years of her age ought to remind her that she isn’t old, or domesticated, or unattractive in the least. Lana’s pretty, but Lois is Lois.
No one else was watching. He darted across the room with super speed and eased the door open, then closed it behind him silently. Lois didn’t even turn around, hunting through the shelves for a box of pens that hadn’t been emptied. Only when he was standing right behind her did Clark realize she hadn’t heard him approach, and he tapped her shoulder to get her attention.
But she took half a step to the side, and his fingertips landed on the back of her neck instead. So absorbed in her task was she that Lois’ back jerked in reaction before it automatically stiffened and a shudder rose from her lips before she could trap it. She knew who it was almost instantaneously; blushing with shame at her reaction and angry at them both, Lois whirled around to face him. This wasn’t the time for it, not after all she’d been through so far that day. Not after the mix of feelings churning in her since his most recent absence. She had held so much back for so long, locked in every thought and feeling, every memory and nightmare. Keeping a handle on the raging emotions only tenuously, those stormy eyes locked with his. The demand in them was clear: What do you want?
When she turned so quickly, his hand had slipped down her spine to rest at the small of her back. They were standing closer than they had since his return, with the sole exception of that dance at the Pulitzer’s … the memory of her lips so near melded with another memory, far older; another kiss, sweeter than their last; a time that was long gone but suddenly so near…
Without thinking, Clark pulled her a little closer, as captured by his feelings as she had been while they danced. The attraction between them had always been magnetic, and it only intensified with time apart. Before either of them really knew what they were doing, their lips met, softly at first.
All the horrible moments of the morning, all the frustration, the upset was suddenly gone. Her lingering anger at this man, her recent almost adulterous thoughts of him and the guilt that came with it. Even the presence of Lana Lang and her damned beauty, Clark and Richard’s reactions to her. For Lois, just that brush of lips roared through her like being thrown down by the strength of a monsoon wave, electrocuted by the most searing of lightning. The sound of her gasp was lost, forgotten as quickly as the way she had instinctively and vainly attempted to push him away. Her body felt as if had been turned to glass and struck with a tuning fork, an impossibly sweet chime resonating through every cell. The weakness, the intensity that had drawn her on that crowded dance floor seized her, and she was returning the kiss fully. No past, no future. All of it forgotten for the sake of this. There was only now.
When they last kissed six years ago, Lois had temporarily forgotten three days. Now, both of them forgot the world around them, forgot everyone else in that world, even forgot themselves. Superman’s mission had no place here, nor did Clark’s disguise. Even the General’s Daughter was swept away by passion, the Romantic’s satisfied murmur fading. Only this moment existed, this man and this woman, Lois and Kal-El both stripped of anything but their eternal longing for each other. As if to confirm that fact, as her fingers curled into his hair, Lois’ other hand was grasping one side of the glasses frames and pushing them out of the way.
Even as she did so, his hand slid down to her hip, lifting her easily. The difference in their height vanished and he kissed her more deeply, not even realizing that he was holding her completely off the ground. His mouth silenced her soft moan as she wound one leg around his hip, fingers clenching almost desperately in his hair.
Years literally melted away around her as she held tight to him, reeling at the sensations tearing at her. The memories that had taunted her ever since his return were mere specters compared to the recollections that blazed through her now. She remembered wondering how it was possible to have felt so many things in so short a time.
Clark’s hand on her hip traced the curve of her thigh, making her shiver. The last time he’d had his hands on her there … oh, how sweet those few hours that belonged to them only, the memory of his sometimes hesitant but very thorough discovery of her body. The light and tentative kisses that deepened in surety until they were as full of passion as this one now, his free hand wound into her hair and his tongue darting into her mouth quick and hot.
This sudden needy cry was harder to conceal, Lois as deeply caught up in the spell as he, only moving closer now. There was no room for excuses or denials, no need except for theirs. All too well she could see the half-anxious look on his face that night when she had slipped onto his lap, not that she wasn’t also aware of the expression in his eyes he tried to hide. And then when she had begun to move, the intensity of his reaction. God, those eyes on hers… It all washed through her mind then as if it were no further away than an instant. His skin against her lips over and over as she had taken advantage of the lack of skin-tight uniform, the impish joy she had felt when she had glanced up to find him watching her raptly. The harshness in his voice, the overwhelmed surprise, as he tried to say her name. The mix of awe, adoration, and a bit of wickedness that she could affect him so greatly. Oh dear God, are his memories this clear? They have to be. How else can he remember how to do this so well?
A wordless husky murmur of need as Clark tightened his arms around her, lost in the memory of her legs wrapped around his back, the faint blush of desire across the tops of her breasts, their tips rising under his lips, and the secret heat of her like nothing he’d ever known or dreamed. His recall was perfect, achingly so, and he kissed her now almost hard enough to bruise as those feelings rose in his mind again, whispering, “My Lois,” against her lips.
Only moments from surrender, lost in the remembrance of the past and the sensation of the present, Lois heard a cool, amused voice say, That’s funny - for someone who claims not to like him, you do seem to have your leg wrapped around his ass. Care to explain that, Lois?
The comment came so quickly, it was more than several seconds before it registered. Then both voices, one external and one internal, were enough to slide white-hot through her conscience, freezing her in position. It announced without a doubt the reality of this, where they were, who they were. And what they weren’t. Oh God, what am I doing? Lois, what the hell is wrong with you! If you had been any later realizing, you’d have let him take you right here against the file cabinets, wouldn’t you? Instantly, she was berating herself, even as her body shook with the evidence that the General’s Daughter had a point. She was more than just a bit affected, something that seemed reciprocated.
All of a sudden, she was tense, though she didn’t try to pull away. That hesitation percolated through the haze in his mind, and Clark paused, suddenly nervous. What was wrong? “Lois?” he asked softly, voice still rough.
Even though you two managed to screw up everything else, the physical side of the relationship was never a problem, the General’s Daughter said, still amused.
This reminder stung her conscience deeply, making her flush all the more. She was over this, it was a naïve crush. Nothing more between them. What a lie, one in a long line of many where this man was concerned. How could she do this, after trying so hard lately to make Richard happy? Make him believe again that she was his? Yet here she was, breathing hard with every nerve in her body on high-alert, pressed tight enough between a filing cabinet and Clark that it made things all too clear that the past wasn’t dead? And if she had been given a moment longer?
Even the reminder caused Lois to stifle another moan. She wanted this; the voice in her mind now was right. Wanting him had never been a problem, she had never denied that to herself. It was just everything else that had been their problem. And the temptation to toss everything aside for just this moment was so strong…
Closing herself, she forced herself to gain strength. It just wasn’t right, especially done like this. Unfair and misleading. And wrong. Not now, not like this. Lois’ voice shook as she spoke, her entire body atremble, “Clark … please … put me down…”
He blinked at her, trying to reconcile her words with her expression. Even her tone was still breathy. But still, what kind of gentleman would he be if he didn’t do as she asked? Clark let her down gently, and for a moment Lois was still in the circle of his arms, still close enough that he felt her tiny gasp as well as heard it. “Lois, I’m sorry…” he began, and she drew back, putting two fingers over his lips to silence him.
“Don’t,” Lois whispered. Her eyes were so stormy, caught between desire and guilt, almost on the verge of tears.
So troubled, wanting to just kiss her again, Clark almost didn’t hear the faint squeak of the doorknob turning. He took a quick step backward, turning to glance at the door, and his spine turned to ice as he saw through the door just who was walking in on them. Super-speed gave him time to leap back even further as Richard swung the door open.