By Cybercerpent <email@example.com>
Submitted July 1999
Summary: A dark "what if" story that sees Superman and Clark become two separate people. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and the world is a very different place.
ARCHIVE WARNING: This story has been rated PG-13 for its violent content.
Hello again. Welcome to my third fanfic. Be warned this is a lot heavier than my previous work, but please read it, I'd especially like to hear what you think of this one. As usual, thanks go to my off line editors, James, Andy, Amy and Belinda and Kyra.
He looked down at the city, spread out below them in enthralling miniature. Toy cars trundled down petite streets; tiny people carried out their tiny lives; none of them aware that the population of the city was about to be reduced by one person. He turned to Jimmy, who was trembling with fear. "Do you know what would happen if I was to let go of you?" He inquired innocently. "You would fall and hit the ground at a speed of almost three hundred kilometres per hour. What's more, you would have ten seconds to think about how you are going to hit that concrete very hard. So hard, in fact, that all your internal organs would be forced out of your body. I would hate to do it, it would make a terrible mess in my city, but I will unless you tell me where Lois has gone."
"No," Jimmy murmured. "You can't make me talk."
"Au contraire, I can do anything I want. I'm Superman," he replied and let go.
The distant street began to rush upwards, a cold embrace of concrete. This is it, Jimmy thought with a dispassionate certainty that was almost as frightening as falling. I'm really going to die. He had been in this situation once before, when a terrorist had pushed him from the top of a skyscraper.
Superman had rescued him then, but that was not going to happen this time, because Superman was the one doing the pushing. The road drew closer, and he could hear the shouts of alarm from the people below him. He closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable impact, when suddenly he felt a grip on his ankle, and the ground stopped coming up. Superman flew them back to their original position.
"Now, where is Lois Lane?" He demanded.
"I don't know. Please don't kill me," Jimmy begged, crying openly now. "I don't know where she is."
"Not good enough," Superman replied and Jimmy felt the grip on his ankle loosen.
"No! Please!" He screamed. "I can still help you!"
"I know the phone number for the place where she is hiding. It's 555493. That's all I know, I swear."
"Thank you," Superman smiled. "You've been most helpful." And he let go completely.
Twenty-four hours earlier.
"Hi Clark," Lois said cheerfully as she sat down next to him.
"Oh, hi," he replied with little enthusiasm.
"Must have been a big disaster," she commented. "You didn't get in until three."
"There was an earthquake in Japan," he agreed. "You waited for me?"
"I find it hard to sleep when you're not by my side."
"I'm so sorry something always has to come between us," he sighed. "I've let you down so much, let down all my friends. Speaking of which, do you know if Jimmy's in yet?"
"I shouldn't think so. I doubt we'll see him at all today, he'll be sleeping off his hangover."
"He noticed you weren't there," Lois told him gently.
"Well, he did seem a little put out, but he'll get over it. Come on Clark; stop beating yourself up over this. You can't help who you are, what you have to do. You're not letting anyone down."
"No, I guess not, but," he paused, listening.
"What do you hear?"
"There's a bomb alert down at the docks. See? We can't even have a conversation without him coming between us."
"You make it sound like you're two different people," Lois commented, sounding slightly alarmed.
"Sorry. Come on, let's go and defuse that bomb."
Superman approached the warehouse, having dropped Lois off some distance away, and headed towards the police officer standing nearby.
"What's going on?"
"Hi Superman. We've cleared the area, and the bomb squad is on its way. It's just sitting in there." He pointed at the building.
"Is it armed?"
"I can't tell. It doesn't appear to be ticking, but I guess that doesn't mean much."
"I'll take a look." He headed inside the building. It was just one large, empty room, with a concrete floor and a high ceiling. There was a small device sitting in its centre. He took a step towards it cautiously, but nothing happened so he took another step, and another. The bomb remained motionless, as if watching him. There was something not right about the situation, he decided. He knew there was no kryptonite; he would have been aware of that the moment he walked into the warehouse, but still, he could not shake the feeling of unease.
He reached out to touch it, and the bomb went off.
Lois made her way along to road towards the warehouse district. She could see Clark from here, just entering the building. She understood best at times like this why he was so protective of her. Knowing your husband was next to indestructible was a great comfort to the mind, but he did not have that luxury. Suddenly a huge blast cut through the still warm air. On instinct, Lois threw herself to the ground, her hands curled protectively around her head. When her ears stopped ringing enough to hear herself think she got to her feet and hurried to the police officer.
"Was anyone in there?"
"Only Superman," he replied.
"Only Superman?" she repeated in disgust, before pushing past him.
"Hey! Come away from there!" The officer called, but she ignored him. Thick smoke was pouring out of the mouth of the warehouse, obscuring her vision. For a moment there was no movement, then a figure emerged from the gloom. "Superman!" She called, aware of the police officer behind them. He turned and seemed to look through her for a moment, before flying off.
"Looks like you offended him," the officer commented helpfully.
Lois glared at him, then started to walk away. It was a long way back to the Planet, and there were few taxis until you hit the main streets.
She barely heard the voice as it drifted across with the smoke. At first she thought it was only her imagination, until it called again. This time she turned around and headed back to the warehouse. Through the clearing smoke she could see there was another person inside. As she drew closer, she could see it was Clark, and that he was naked.
"Clark! What happened? Why did you come back?"
"Come back?" He asked, looking confused. "Lois I haven't left here since the explosion."
"Yes you did. I just saw you fly off."
"You're mistaken. I can't fly, my powers are gone."
"No, it was you, or rather, it was Superman. Do you think it's another clone?"
"I don't think so. There was no one else in here, and nowhere for them to hide."
"So what happened?"
"I don't know. I remember going in, touching the bomb, then an explosion and this strange tearing sensation across my body. Then you came in."
"So where did the other person come from? One person walked into this building and two came out. That's not good math."
He looked at her. "I think you've got it."
"Yes. There was no other person. Remember when we were talking at the Planet? You said I was speaking as if I was two different people. That's what I felt when the bomb went off. It felt like I had been ripped in two."
"But Clark, that's ridiculous. You're not two people, you just have two identities."
He noticed something on the concrete floor and picked it up. "Is that what I think it is?"
She studied it. "It looks like red kryptonite," she agreed.
"That would explain it then. What if someone had tried to kill me with a bomb with kryptonite embedded in it. Only, instead of killing me, it split me into two parts: Clark Kent and Superman. We don't know the full effects of this stuff, so we never know quite what it's going to do."
"Well I suppose it's possible, but I'm having a hard time believing it."
"You'll see," Clark promised her. "Come on, I've got to find some clothes."
She handed him her jacket. "There's a police officer outside. We'll get a lift back with him." She looked at him. "Unless he arrests you for indecent exposure!"
Superman flew across the city, thinking hard. Everything felt different suddenly, and he was not sure why. He still had all his powers, and his memories, but it almost felt as if part of him was missing. It was a similar feeling to the one caused by the effects of red kryptonite: suddenly all his priorities had changed. Things that were once important suddenly faded into the background. To make matters worse, there was an itch growing in the small of his back, making it hard to concentrate.
He looked down at the streets below, at the small, scurrying people. From here, the whole city looked like a concrete anthill. How insignificant they seemed, how weak and feeble. Why had he spent his whole life serving them, when it would be so easy to control them? And fun too, he decided. Yes, he would declare himself their leader, and make them kneel before him. But at first it would not be easy. He would need some help.
"Are you sure you won't see a doctor?" Lois asked as they returned to the Planet.
"What would I say? Hi, I've been caught in an explosion and it split me in two. They'd have me in a padded cell before you could say psychiatrist!"
Lois grinned. "Point taken."
"Besides, I feel fine." He noticed Jimmy walking past. "Hey, Jimmy. Listen, I'm really sorry I missed your birthday last night."
"That's okay," he replied half-heartedly. "You had something more important to do."
"I know, but it still wasn't fair. I promise it won't happen again," he said enthusiastically.
"Okay," Jimmy responded, looking at him suspiciously. "You been taking the happy pills again, CK?"
He laughed. "No, I just got some good news, that's all."
Lois turned to Clark as Jimmy walked away. "You seem to be dealing with this very well."
"What's there to deal with? This could be the best thing that's happened to since, well since I met you. Now I can get on with my life, do all the things I want to do, without feeling guilty for turning my back on the world."
"And you think Superman's just going to carry on like before?"
"I know he will. You're forgetting: he's part of me. I know exactly how he thinks and feels, how he'll react. He has a responsibility to this city, and he'll carry it out. That's who he is."
Lois nodded, wishing she could share his enthusiasm about this, but she had learned long ago that if something looked too good to be true, there was always a catch. How could being split in two like that leave them both with no adverse effects? Besides, she knew she would miss having a husband who could fly around the world in seconds. Still she could not ignore how happy he seemed. She had not realised until fairly recently what a burden he carried, and he did so without ever complaining. He deserved a break, maybe he was right and everything would be perfect now. Yet, in the back of her mind, she was still worried.
Mindy Church took a long drag on the cigar and exhaled a puff of blue smoke. Through it, she could see the man standing before her, fidgeting. He was a tall pale man, with watery eyes magnified behind huge glasses.
"You failed," she told him.
"But I don't see how!" The man protested. "The bomb went off, almost underneath him. That, combined with the kryptonite, should have blown him to a thousand pieces!"
Mindy stood up and walked towards him, one long manicured fingernail gently touching his face.
"Tell me, Mr. Wallis, what did this kryptonite look like?"
"Well, it was a big glowing rock, about the size of a tennis ball, sort of red coloured."
"You fool!" She screamed, and the fingernail cut a jagged line down his face. "You got the wrong kind! You were supposed to make sure it was green!"
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Church, it won't happen again."
"Too right," she replied and shot him. As he crumpled to the ground with a startled moan, a guard walked in. "See that mess is cleared away," she told him dispassionately.
"Certainly. And there is someone here to see you."
"Tell them to go away, I'm not in the mood for socialising."
"I really think you want to see this person. It's Superman."
She looked up. "Really? Why didn't you say so? Send him in."
The guard nodded and returned a few minutes later with Superman. Mindy smiled graciously.
"Well hello there, big boy. What can I do for you?"
"Many things," Superman commented, his eyes wandering appreciatively down her body. "But business first. I have a proposition for you Mrs. Church."
"What sort of proposition?"
"I have had a change of heart, a revelation of sorts. I have decided that I will no longer serve the city of Metropolis, but I will rule it instead. This I can do easily, but I would like to know there are people behind me that I can trust, in case anyone objects to a change of authority."
"I'm interested, but what can I do? I'm just a business woman."
"Drop the pretense, Mrs. Church, everyone knows you run Intergang. I also know you don't trust me, which is fair enough. Turn on the television and I'll prove how serious I am."
She obliged. An LNN reporter was standing outside the Bank of Metropolis. "The robbery took place barely half an hour ago. Millions of dollars worth of gold bullion was taken in a matter of seconds. There were several witnesses who have identified the robber, and from the devastation behind be it is clear they were not mistaken. The Bank of Metropolis was robbed by none other than Superman himself."
Mindy turned off the television and turned back to Superman. "That was impressive, you could go far in Intergang. Just what do you plan to do and where do I fit in?"
"I intend to take over the city and run it my way. All businesses will be turned over to me and all citizens will pay a substantial tax. Anyone who fails to comply will be destroyed. I will give you ten per cent of the cities profits and a position of power in return for your support."
"A couple of points need adjusting. Firstly, I will not work for less than forty percent. And secondly, I prefer to work in the shadows."
"Twenty five, with an increase as my empire grows. And no one need know you're in league with me."
"That will do well. I was wrong about you Superman. I thought you were some intergalactic boy scout, but it turns out you are a man after my own heart."
"Not just your heart," he replied softly, resting his hand on her waist.
"One last thing. I will pay you twenty per cent of the loot from the Metropolis Bank if you will get the kryptonite from the safe at STAR labs.
I don't want anyone getting any bright ideas."
"Very well." She placed her head against his chest. "I can see this is going to be the beginning of perfect partnership: You and me, Intergang and Superman. The city of Metropolis will be ours by sunset."
Susie Marlow felt her eyes wandering to the clock again. How long was this meeting going to go on for, she wandered. If it took much longer, she would be late picking up her son Kieran for kindergarten. She remembered how he had cried the last time she was late, how it had broken her heart to see him so unhappy. *I've got to get a better job,* she thought, though in truth she did not mind her work at the city hall. It was just taking the minutes at meetings that she detested. She looked up at the sound of a commotion outside the doors. As she looked up the doors were flung open, literally off their hinges, and Superman strode in.
The mayor stood up. "What is the meaning of this?" He demanded angrily. "It's time for you to step down," Superman informed him. "This city has a new leader."
"What? Says who?"
Superman grabbed Susie by a handful of mouse-brown hair and snapped her neck easily. The dry crack echoed sickeningly around the room. He let the woman's body slide to the floor, nothing more than a sack of blood and bones, then turned to the mayor. "Says me. How about it, Mayor? How many more to I have to kill to persuade you?"
"How many more have to die before you see this is madness?" The mayor replied. At that moment there was a clamour of voices and foot falls coming up the passage towards the meeting room and the police burst in.
"Come with us, Superman, or we'll have to open fire," Maggie Henderson, the chief of police ordered.
"Be my guest."
The sound of twenty weapons being fired simultaneously was deafening. In the centre of the room, Superman stood laughing, the bullets bouncing off him like rain drops off concrete. The mayor watched as one of these ricochets flew off and struck a young police officer in the eye. The man screamed and covered his face with his hands, blood oozing between his fingers.
"Stop this!" The mayor yelled. "Please, stop shooting!"
The silence was more overwhelming than the noise. Around Mayor Cranley , he could see seven people had been shot, and of these, only three showed any signs of still being alive. His eyes fell on the body of Susie Marlow. There was not a mark on her, and he found himself wondering if she had merely fainted. Then the sound of her neck being snapped like a bit of dry twig flooded through his brain, and he knew she could never be revived.
"Are you ready to submit?" Superman asked, almost innocently, as if he was unaware that he had been responsible of the deaths of at least five people.
"Okay," he sighed. "I'll do it. But I hope you understand what you've done. Susie Marlow had two young kids, now they'll grow up without a mother.
No one will let you get away with this, Superman. They'll hunt you down and kill you."
"We'll see about that," he replied cheerfully, and clapped his hands. A team of men came running in. "Have these people locked up," he ordered. "Metropolis is mine."
Oblivious to the carnage that had just taken place, Jimmy Olsen was watching baseball. The Metropolis Monarchs had been climbing ever higher up the league this year, and he did not want to miss a single game.
"Olsen! Don't you have any work to do?"
Jimmy spun round guiltily. "Er, sure Chief."
"Well, what are you doing standing around then?" Perry demanded.
"Come on. How often do the Monarchs get this far? This could be a historic game."
"That's what people have VCRs for, son," Perry replied firmly.
Jimmy sighed and was about to turn away when the screen went blank. "What happened?" he demanded, striking the television with the palm of his hand.
It came up with a picture of Rachel Ruth, the LNN news anchor.
"We interrupt this broadcast for an important news bulletin," she said. "We have just heard that Mayor Cranley has handed over control of the city to Superman. Armed men are sweeping through the streets. People are advised to stay in their homes and open the door to no one." Ruth paused, listening. The expression on her face sent a chill through Jimmy. "We have just received news that STAR labs has been broken into and the entire stash of kryptonite has been stolen, along with all our hopes," she finished, and broke down in tears.
"What's happened to Superman?" Jimmy demanded. "Why is he doing these things?"
Perry did not reply. He picked up the phone and dialled Lois' mobile number.
"Lois? It's me. You have to get out of the city. I have a little cottage on the edge of the forest, you can stay there. No, I don't care what you want to do. You're the woman closest to Superman's heart. What if he decides he wants to pick up that old relationship, or take revenge on Clark for stealing you away?
Who knows how he's thinking right now. Get to the cottage, you'll be safe there for a while. I'm the only one who knows where it is, and Jimmy is the only other person who knows the phone number. One of us will call you in about half an hour. Please Lois, you're probably the city's best hope right now, and if he gets you we'll have nothing." He put down the phone.
"What do we do now?" Jimmy asked softly.
"Now we start praying, son, and hope that someone is listening."
Lois pulled up outside the little bungalow. It was a quaint place, with cheery red tiles on the roof and the remains of a rose that had died of neglect clinging around the door. Clark found the spare key under the mat and opened the door. Once they were both inside he locked it securely.
"I can't take this anymore!" Lois cried. "Please, Clark, say something!"
"What am I supposed to say?" he asked despondently.
"I don't know, anything. But this silence is killing me."
"Well, now you know how I'm feeling. It's killing me knowing he's out there doing all these terrible things."
"I'd understand better if you would just talk to me Clark. I'm your wife, remember? Stop being a masochist, bottling your feelings up and start letting me help you." She hugged him. "You can't blame yourself, that's not you out there."
"That's part of me. We were one person this morning, and now he's killed five people, at least. Besides, you heard the LNN woman: he's stolen our hopes. Superman isn't just a person, he's a symbol of everything that's good in our society. His sole purpose is to fight against evil and injustice, to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Now everyone has seen his dark side, what makes you think things can ever go back to the way they were?"
Lois did not know how to respond to that, but fortunately at that moment the phone rang. "Hi Jimmy. It's good to hear you too. Yes, we're both fine," she lied comfortingly. "What's going on? Okay, well hang in there, we'll think of something." She put the phone down. "Jimmy says it's chaos out there. They've blocked off the roads so no one can get in and out of the city. They're systematically taking major businesses in the city and he thinks it's only a matter of time before they come for the Planet. Poor kid, he sounds terrified." She sighed. "I hate being stuck here. I should be out there, stopping this. I've never come across anything we couldn't deal with before."
Clark wrapped his arms around her, and for a moment Lois was taken back to an earlier time, when things were better. "I know honey, I want to stop him too, but until we have some idea of how to deal with him, we're safer here." Suddenly he broke off his embrace with a gasp and doubled over, trembling. "Clark? Clark, what's wrong?" Lois demanded, but he could not reply. As she watched, helplessly, she could see his body fading in and out of reality.
"I don't know," he replied, beginning to recover. "It felt kind of like the explosion, only not quite."
"Well, that's helpful," Lois said with a grin, relieved that he seemed to be better.
"I think that the split wasn't as permanent as I first thought. I think our bodies are trying to recombine."
"So we can get you back together again? How do we get close enough?"
"I'm not sure yet. If we try and get back into Metropolis, I think we'll be shot on sight. I guess the best thing to do now would be to go to bed."
"Oh, I don't think I can sleep right now, Clark."
"Who said anything about sleeping?"
Having been deprived of the baseball, Jimmy had now taken to watching the streets below. They were mainly empty, which seemed so wrong. He had spent his whole life in the city of Metropolis and knew there was always activity somewhere. But now it looked like some great urban Marie Celeste, he decided. Cars stood empty in the street, abandoned by their fleeing owners. He understood several people had taken refuge in the Daily Planet building, not knowing where else to go. The only people left outside were the teams of armed men who were patrolling the city, and the faint blur of a man who had once been christened Superman by the people of Metropolis. Jimmy did not know what they were going to call him now.
As he watched, a larger column of men came marching towards him, their shadows long and sharp in the glare of the street lights. The stars were coming out above them, the sun having long since vanished below the horizon in shame. The size of the group was what attracted his attention at first, but as he watched they stopped outside the Planet, and Superman landed before them. Although he could not hear what was being said, Jimmy knew exactly what was going to happen next.
"They're here" he yelled to the news room. "Superman's outside, they're going to take over the Planet!"
Perry emerged from his office and stepped forward to address the gathered staff. "Okay, listen up people. I don't know exactly what is going to happen now, what he wants with us, but I think the best policy is to just do as they want." He held up his hand to stop the murmur of disapproval. "I know what you're thinking, but remember that he has killed several people in cold blood and without remorse. It would be foolish to mount a resistance against Superman just as we are, but I promise you we are not finished yet." He cleared his throat nervously. "However, should anything, er, go wrong, I just want to say that you are a fine bunch of people and it's been a pleasure working with you."
At that point the elevators opened and the Intergang members flooded into the news room. They took up positions around the frightened reporters, forming a tight circle from which there was no escape. Perry put his arm protectively around Jimmy, feeling the young man's shoulders trembling. Perry also felt afraid, but stronger than the fear was a growing anger and disgust for a man who had saved the city several times, who had stood up against alien invaders, and who had still found time to visit sick children and orphans. Until now, he had not thought there was a more evil person than Lex Luthor, but now he knew he had been mistaken.
Superman was the last person to enter the room. He looked around, surveying the area like a proud owner. He walked with a bold, determined stride, and Perry knew he had probably always walked that way, only now that pride and resolution seemed perverse.
"Yes, this will make a good base for my operation," he commented appreciatively. "Your attention please!" He commanded, addressing the crowd, much as Perry had done only moments before. "You will now be working for me. The Planet will become my voice to the people of Metropolis."
"And what if we refuse?" One of the reporters demanded. Perry shot him a look, but he carried on. "Sorry Chief, but I refuse to work for this monster."
"I had anticipated this," Superman commented calmly. "Sarah Cooke, could you come here please?" There was a momentary pause, and some hurried whispering, then a young woman stepped forward. It was clear that she was about six months pregnant. Superman turned to the man nearest to him.
"Take her, and these two," he pointed to Perry and Jimmy, "and lock them in the conference room. If anyone tries anything, shoot one of them."
"You're sick," the reported who had spoken out spat, but he backed down.
Another of the armed men came from the elevator, leading news anchor Rachel Ruth. She had a small television camera in one hand and tears still visible in her eyes.
"Is everything prepared my dear?" Superman asked her.
She swallowed and nodded, pointing the camera at him. "Speak when you're ready: this is going out live."
"People of Metropolis: do not panic. Go about your daily business and do not worry.
As long as everyone cooperates, no one will get hurt."
He turned to the Intergang man. "Put her with the others."
She was flung into the room with a force that brought her to her knees.
Jimmy helped her back to her feet.
"Are you okay?"
"Getting there, kid," she replied, but a tremor in her voice belied the fear she was feeling. "I just wish I could do something. I've been a hostage before, but this is the only time I've felt completely helpless."
"They'll send in the army soon," Sarah assured them. "It's only a matter of time before they get an attack organised."
"I wish my father was here," Jimmy admitted. "He'd show them."
Perry did not want to point out that the only thing that would happen if the army showed up would be a massacre.
"They'll have to come soon," Sarah continued. "They can't just abandon the city. I mean, this is America. People can't get away with things like this here."
"But this isn't just anyone!" Jimmy protested. "This is Superman. You can't kill him, you can't even hurt him at all!"
Perry put his arm round his friend. "Easy son. Panicking won't help."
"Well, what else is there left to do?"
Mindy Church stood on the balcony of the penthouse suite of the Alexandria hotel and looked out over the city.
Already her men had taken over most of the major businesses in Metropolis. It had not been hard. The people here had grown spineless with Superman, once they learned he was no longer on their side they seemed to crumble. She needed him now, but soon, the city would be hers and hers alone. 'Sharing' was not a word in her vocabulary.
She looked up as Superman alighted beside her.
"I was admiring our city," she commented. "It's so pretty with all the moonlight sparkling down."
He smiled. "Not nearly as beautiful as you," he murmured.
Mindy pretended to be taken aback and looked bashful. "Well, thank you. You look pretty good yourself," she continued, running her finger across his chest.
"I mean it. You're the most beautiful woman in the city, no, the world." He ran his hand through her soft blonde hair and down over the smooth skin of her shoulder. She was wearing a tight white dress with no sleeves and a split up one side that ran almost up to her hip. "You're," he stopped with a startled gasp.
"Carry on," Mindy urged. "I'm what?"
Superman dropped to one knee, clutching his chest in pain. Behind him, Mindy asked in a small, frightened-child voice: "What's wrong, Superman?" But unseen she was smiling. Maybe the city would come faster than she expected.
The attack passed after a few moments and he stood up, only shaking slightly.
"What happened?" she asked again.
"I don't know. That's the second time it's happened today."
"I know how to make you feel better," she murmured seductively. She reached up and pulled his face close to hers, then kissed him passionately.
"You're right," Superman said as she broke off. "I do feel better." He swept her up in his arms and flew her into the hotel room then closed the blinds.
Mindy woke the next morning with sunlight in her face. She rolled over in the huge double bed, but the space next to her was empty. Confused, she sat up, the silk night dress whispering against her skin. She looked around the room and finally caught sight of Superman. He was standing on the balcony, looking out across the city.
"Thinking of someone else?" she asked.
He spun round, almost guiltily. "I didn't realise you were awake. Yes, I was thinking of Lois."
Mindy was shocked and furious. Once she chose a man, they did not even look at another woman, let alone stand lusting for them. But Superman had never been a permanent part of her plans, she was losing nothing important. All this would mean was that she would enjoy watching him die even more. "She is special to you, isn't she?" she inquired innocently.
"Yes. I did not realise until now, but she is. I thought money and power would be enough, but I want Lois Lane as well."
"Well, I reckon you ought to bring her here. You can keep her locked up in the bridal suite."
Superman grinned, a dirty, unpleasant leer. "Yes, I like that idea very much."
Jimmy woke from a fitful sleep around the same time as Mindy. The last dream had been about food, reminding him he had not eaten in about eighteen hours. Rachel and Sarah were dozing by the wall, while Perry was standing by the glass window, looking into the news room. Jimmy doubted he had slept all night. He stood up and stretched, his body aching from sleeping on the hard floor, then wandered over to the window.
"I guess the cavalry hasn't arrived yet."
"Not yet, son. But they are coming," Perry assured him.
"Yeah, they're just waiting for the British navy to take position across the bay," he replied sarcastically. "They're not coming, Chief."
Perry pointed to the women, who were beginning to stir. "I know, but they don't need to hear that."
"Oh, I was hoping it was all a dream," Rachel moaned as she stood up.
"I wish my husband was here," Sarah sniffed. "I wish I could see him, just once more."
Rachel hugged her. "Hush, don't let them see you're upset. It's okay."
"I'm sure he's fine," Jimmy agreed. "He's probably at home waiting for you."
Sarah sniffed and smiled bravely. "Thanks. I'm sure you're right." She looked up and the smile faded from her lips as Superman entered.
"What do you want from us now?" Perry demanded.
"Where is Lois Lane?"
"We don't know," he assured him. "Lois has obviously found her own hiding place, and I hope you never find it."
"I think you're lying. She can't have gone far out of the city, and I've tried all the places I can think of that she knows. So one of you must have told her where to go. Which one? Was it you?" He asked Perry. "Did you give her the keys to some holiday house? Or maybe it was you?" He turned to Sarah. "You've known her for a while. Did she confide in you?"
Sarah just stood trembling, tears flowing down her face.
"Well? Answer me!" Superman yelled and slapped her. Sarah cried out in fear and pain.
"Leave her alone!" Jimmy cried, launching a karate kick at Superman, which caught him in the small of the back. He gave a yelp of genuine pain and advanced on Jimmy, who backed into a corner.
"You always were incredibly dense Olsen," he commented dryly, before picking him up and flying out of the room.
"I think he's coming round."
"Jimmy? Can you hear me?"
Jimmy opened his eyes and looked up at the people staring down at him.
"Where am I?" He murmured.
"You're back at the Planet," Perry replied, helping him to sit up.
"Superman brought you back about five minutes ago. Do you remember what happened?"
"He was going to kill me!" he responded as the memories of hovering above the city came flooding back.
"He dropped me from above the city and I guess I must have passed out. What made him change his mind?"
"I'm not sure, but maybe it's a sign that he's changing," Perry suggested hopefully.
"Well, you were a friend of his. The fact that he was going to kill you, but changed his mind shows that he still remembers that fact. Maybe whatever changed him isn't a permanent effect."
"I think the fact that he was going to kill me says more," Jimmy retorted.
Another memory came back. "I've got to call Lois!" He gasped, standing up.
The room faded out of view for a moment and he swayed on his feet. Rachel caught him before he could fall.
"You shouldn't do anything until your feeling stronger, kid," she said gently.
"But I told him how to contact her," he moaned. "He'll go after her. We've got to warn her."
"Go ahead," Superman said handing him a phone. "Call Lois and tell her I'm coming after her."
Jimmy grabbed the phone and hastily dialled Lois' number. "Lois, you've got to get out of there! He's coming after you Lois, you've got to get out of there!"
Superman snatched the phone away. From it, Lois' voice could be heard faintly.
"Jimmy? What's happened? Jimmy, answer me!"
"Hello, Lois," Superman said smoothly.
"You," she gasped.
"That's right. You've been hiding from me Lois, and that's not fair. I want to see you again."
"No. Leave me alone. Leave them all alone."
"Sorry, but I can't do that. I love you Lois."
"Don't say that!" she cried in disgust. "Don't say that!"
"But I do, and you're going to love me too. I want you to come to the Alexandria Hotel and meet me in the bridal suite."
"Lois, why must you be so uncooperative? Very well, I can see I shall have to persuade you." He grabbed Sarah and pulled her close to him. "I have my hand around your friend's neck, Lois. Tell her, Sarah."
His handed tightened around Sarah's neck. "Yes," she sobbed. "He's got me. Please, Lois, I have a baby," she broke off, crying.
"Okay. I'll come," Lois said with a sigh. "Only don't hurt anyone."
"The bridal suite, Lois. I'll see you there."
Lois pulled up outside the Alexandria Hotel. The Intergang members had obviously been told to leave them alone as they were not bothered by anyone. Lois felt devastated to see the state of the city. Teams of men patrolled the streets, seeing that nobody got in the way of their plans. There were a few people around, probably out looking for lost relatives and missing friends. She remembered the terror in Jimmy's voice as he had screamed at her to get out of the city.
Clark got out of the car and stood next to her, looking up at the hotel. It was the grandest one in Metropolis, and usually it was the place where the rich and famous stayed. It was also owned by Mindy Church, and he suspected that she had a lot to do with recent events. He took his wife in his arms, knowing that this might be the last opportunity he had to do this.
"Lois, you have to do whatever you can to end this."
"I don't understand, Clark."
"You will. And I want to tell you that I love you Lois, I always will."
"Don't talk like that, please. We can get through this."
"I don't know. Of everything we've faced, nothing has been as hard as this. I don't know if we can ever recombine, not knowing what he's done. I don't want to be a part of that."
"You have to, Clark," she begged. Since the previous night he had had five more attacks, each longer and more painful than the last. "You'll die if you don't. Please, I couldn't live without you. Say you'll never leave me."
"I won't leave you Lois," he promised.
Lois walked towards the bridal suite and her destiny.
The hotel was empty, but she could not shake the feeling she was being watched. She pushed open the door and looked in. Superman was standing in the centre of the room. The sunlight pouring in from the open window gave him a godly corona. He looked at her for a moment the grabbed her and drew her into a passionate embrace. Lois struggled only momentarily, then she realised what Clark had meant about doing what she had to end the nightmare. She kissed him back, through the action seemed disgusting and perverse now.
"Why are you doing this?" she asked softly.
"It's all for you, Lois. I wanted to give you everything."
"I don't need everything. Just you." she lied.
"But you have abandoned me!" he retorted, sounding angry, but also confused. "Don't forget who you married."
"I know, and I'm sorry."
She hugged him, her hands running up his back.
Suddenly her fingers found a tear in the fabric of his suit, and something sharp and hard. She tugged at it and it came out in her hands: a shard of red kryptonite. Superman gave a howl of pain as she wrenched it from his body. Lois threw the crystal out of the window then turned back to Superman. He was lying on the floor, shaking and moaning.
"Clark! Clark, hurry!" She called into the corridor, but there was no reply.
Terrified, she hurried back out and found him lying on the carpet in the corridor, fading like Superman. She grabbed his hand and tried to pull him back into the room. His hand, faint and pale passed through hers for a moment, and she felt herself clutching at thin air.
Then it was strong and solid again and she clung to it, helping him up. He was too weak to stand and too heavy to carry, but together they made it into the room, where he collapsed next to Superman.
The two continued fading and coming back, but as Lois watched, they seemed to be doing it out of sync with each other. After a moment there was only one body there, Superman's, surrounded by Clark's clothes.
She knelt beside him. Thoughts flickered through her mind? What if it had not worked? What if Clark was lost and there was only Superman. What if it was not just the kryptonite, and some of that evil persona still remained?
"Superman?" She asked, and then more hopefully: "Clark?"
His eyes flickered open. "Lois," he breathed.
"Are you…? I mean, did it…?"
"It worked, we're back together and I'm okay."
"I know why Superman was acting the way he was. There was a piece of kryptonite embedded in his body. The effect of it that close to his body must have driven him mad."
"I know. It must have come loose when Jimmy kicked me, that's why I didn't kill him. I remember that. In fact I remember all he's done over the past day or so." He paused, and gave a gasp of horror. "Oh no, not that! I can't have done that!" he cried in anguish.
"What?" Lois demanded in alarm. "What?"
Clark refused to answer, but lay there, shaking his head in horror and dismay.
"Well, now isn't this touching?"
Lois and Clark looked up simultaneously to see Mindy Church standing in the doorway. Clark stood up and strode towards her. "It's time to end this, Mrs. Church. This over."
She smiled. "The only thing that is over is you," she replied sweetly, producing a lump of kryptonite, this time green and lethal. Clark collapsed and Lois hurried to his side. "Not so fast, you're coming with me," Mindy ordered, producing a gun. She led Lois out into the corridor where a man was waiting for them.
"Your plane is ready," he told Mindy.
"You're leaving so soon?" Lois asked sarcastically. "After all you've done for the city?"
"Oh, I'll be back, don't worry about that. Very soon this hotel is going to go kaboom, along with you, Superman and any evidence connecting him to me. Meanwhile, I'll be on my way to Rio to spend a few months coming to terms with the tragedy I've witnessed.
And when everything gets quiet, I'll come back." They had reached the end of the corridor and Mindy opened another door, pushing Lois inside. There was a large object in the centre of the room that could only be a bomb. Mindy handcuffed her to it, waved cheerfully and walked out of the room.
While Mindy Church was outlining her plan of escape, the hostages from the Planet were also looking to make an exit.
They had been transferred to the hotel when Superman had gone to meet Lois. Jimmy looked over the lock then turned to the two women.
"Have either of you got a hairpin?"
"You don't seriously think you can pick the lock with a hairpin?" Rachel asked incredulously.
"Will this do?" Sarah asked, handing him a paper clip. Jimmy turned it in the lock, and after a moment there was a click. Sarah gave a cry of joy and hugged Jimmy, who blushed modestly. Rachel was more cautious.
"Do you think we should go out there?" She asked. "We'll be shot on sight."
"I don't think there is anyone out there," Perry replied. "I think the hotel is pretty deserted. Besides, taking a chance is better than staying here and doing nothing."
Jimmy pushed open the door and look cautiously into the corridor. It was empty, so they made their way slowly along it. They had been held in a small storage closet near the main lobby.
As they approached it, Jimmy could feel his heart beating faster and realised his hands were trembling slightly. Fortunately, the lobby was as empty as the corridor. He turned to the others.
"You've got to call someone and tell them we know where Superman is," he told them.
"What about you?" Sarah asked.
"I'm going to find Lois," he replied firmly, and dashed across the lobby.
Perry started after him, but Jimmy reached the elevator first and closed the doors. As the car started to rise, he leaned back heavily against the wall, wondering what exactly he was going to do next. He felt confused and afraid, not quite knowing how to react. Superman had been his greatest hero, the person he had admired most. Now, Superman was a monster, and all those feelings of respect and admiration had been shattered. Jimmy knew he had been betrayed, betrayed by someone he had trusted completely, and that knowledge awaken something inside him, a horrifying truth: he wanted to kill Superman, for everything he had done. But he had no weapon. At that moment, Jimmy Olsen would have sold his soul for some kryptonite.
The doors opened and he stepped out into another deserted corridor. There were doors on either side, and the third one on the right hand side was open a jar. He hurried and pushed it open, knowing all too well that it might be the last thing he did.
Inside, he could see Superman lying on the floor, a lump of kryptonite near by. He lifted his head as the door was open and looked at him, pleadingly.
"Help me," he gasped. "I'm dying."
Jimmy looked back in contempt. "Good," he said simply and closed the door. Down the corridor was another open door and in there he found Lois. She struggling to get out of the handcuffs unsuccessfully.
He knelt beside her and undid them using the paper clip. Lois hugged him.
"Jimmy! Am I glad to see you! Have you found Superman? There was kryptonite in his body, that was what was making him behave like that, but he's okay now."
"He's down the hall. But, I think he's dead."
"There was kryptonite, he asked me to help, but I couldn't, I couldn't go near him," Jimmy stammered.
"So you left him to die?" Lois pushed past him and fled down the corridor to Clark. She picked up the kryptonite and threw it out the window. She knelt beside her husband. He was still breathing, but his pulse was weak.
"Superman? You've got to wake up. Please, wake up."
He opened his eyes. "Lois."
"No time for that. Can you fly? There's a bomb and it's going to go off any second."
He struggled to his feet. She could see he was still in pain, but determined. She led him to the bomb, which he picked up and then he jumped out of the window. Lois felt her heart stop as he plummeted towards the ground, but then she saw him rise up and head off towards the upper atmosphere with the bomb. He had not gone far when it exploded.
Lois and Jimmy threw themselves to the ground as all the windows in the hotel and surrounding buildings shattered, sending showers of glass across the floor. The force knocked Superman out of the sky and back into the hotel room. His body his the soft carpet with a dull thud. Lois knelt beside him.
"He's not breathing," she murmured. "No, this can't be happening. I just got you back, don't leave me now."
There was a terrible silence that hung over the room like a funeral pall, the Superman began to breathe again.
"I would never leave you, Lois," he gasped.
She threw her arms around him.
"What about Mindy Church?"
"She'll be on the other side of the country now," she replied. "But there are sill Intergang men all over the city."
Superman stood up. "I'll go and round them up, then I'll turn myself in. It's the only way."
Lois and Jimmy made their way back down o the lobby. Jimmy seemed pale and withdrawn, and she noticed he refused to meet her eyes. Downstairs there was a brief reunion with Perry, but she was too tired and there were too many bad emotions in the air for her to feel truly happy.
A few minutes later Maggie Henderson and a team of police officers arrived.
"Where's Superman?" she demanded.
"Behind you," he replied, landing in the lobby. "I'm ready to go."
"You don't have to do this," Lois begged. "It wasn't your fault, it was the kryptonite. Please, there must another way."
"Sorry Lois," he replied, remembering the way Jimmy had looked at him with loathing; the sound of Susie Marlow's neck snapping; the feel of Mindy Church's naked body against his. "This is the only way."
Author's note. I know this probably isn't the satisfactory ending you were hoping for, but I genuinely don't know what happens next! So I'll throw it open to FOLCs everywhere to deal with that sticky problem. Will Jimmy be able to forgive Superman for what he's done? Will Superman be charged with crimes against humanity? Will Clark be able to tell her he slept with Mindy Church? How will Lois react if he does? Answers on a postcard to firstname.lastname@example.org