By David Schock <email@example.com>
Submitted April 2001
Summary: Clark and a friend find out the hard way that a dark alley is not the only place you don't want to meet some people! Especially when Clark learns about the premature death of Lois Lane.
Any feedback, good or bad, email <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This night and this night alone, the place to see and be seen for the five hundred wealthiest men and women in America was in the audience of the Radio Center Music Hall. They were not here to see the Easter show or the Christmas show or even the Rockettes. They in fact had each paid one hundred thousand dollars just for the privilege of sitting in the audience, and thus earning the right to bid on the objects displayed up on the main stage. The guest auctioneer for the evening's charity even was none other then the legendary Man of Steel himself, Superman. Seated to his left were various representatives from the United Nations and, more specifically, the secretary in charge of UNICEF. Seated to his right was the almost equally famous icon, Princess Diana, better known to the world as Wonder Woman.
The auction so far was a great success. One of Superman's capes went for three million dollars from a Texas oil man. Over five million dollars was spent by a one time body builder and now famous Hollywood actor for an actual rock that had been sitting alone on the surface of Mars less then twelve hours earlier. This hunk of another world had been delivered to the charity event by the newest and perhaps last of the Green Lantern Corps. The high point of the evening thus far was the ten million-dollar bid made by Bill Gates for a genuine cape and cowl from the infamous Batman.
Superman was handed a note from a young page, and after he read it, he banged the gavel for silence. When he got everyone's attention, he said, "I am very happy to announce that so far this evening we have raised almost thirty six million dollars for UNICEF!" After the applause died down, Superman continued, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the high point of the evening. I want you all to take out your check books and give a warm welcome to my good friend, Princess Diana, daughter of Queen Hippolyta of the Amazon nation of Themyscira, and better known to all around the world as Wonder Woman."
Everyone in the audience stood up and clapped as Diana moved to the podium carrying a long wooden box. As she passed Superman she gave him an angry glare for talking her into this, but one little boy grin from her huge friend completely disarmed her. She never could stay mad at him for any length of time. Besides she thought, 'It is all for a good cause, and the money raised here tonight will help feed and educate the poorest of the world's children.'
As she stood at the podium she slowly opened the box she had been carrying and told the gathered guests, "Ladies and gentleman in this box is the object you will be bidding on." She lifted the object almost tenderly and continued speaking. "Here in my hands is the one true sword of none other that Alexander the Great. It has lain in the archives on Paradise Island for almost three thousand years. If you wish to own a piece of history, the opening bid for this piece of history is five million dollars."
The bidding soon became both heated and emotional, as it quickly rose past the ten million dollar mark. When it passed fifteen, a replanted oil sheik from the state of Florida dropped out. At twenty-five million dollars the owner of Caesar's Palace, who had dreams of displaying the artifact in his lobby, folded. And at thirty-five million, the dreams of a Greek shipping tycoon returning home to Greece in triumph with the sword of his nation's national hero sank. They all tried, and they all failed until there were but two left. Lex Luthor of Metropolis and Gotham's own playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne.
Higher and higher went the bidding, thirty-five million, forty million, finally the last bid was forty-two million dollars from Lex Luthor. Luthor was confident; he expected the spoiled pretty boy playboy's next bid would be right around the forty- five million dollar mark. Luthor then planned to jump the bid to an even fifty million dollars, and drive the young punk out. But all his careful plans crashed and burned when Bruce Wayne did the unexpected and jumped the bid to an even seventy-five million dollars!
Clark thought Luthor was going to have a stroke right there and then. His face turned red, spit dripped put of the corner of his mouth, and Clark could hear his heart rate jump to over a hundred and twenty-five beats per minute. He turned around and walked out the auditorium mumbling curses as he stormed up the aisle and out of the famous theater. Bruce Wayne looked up at both Superman and Diana, smiled slyly, and winked at them both. Wonder Woman leaned over and whispered in her friend's ear, "Was I seeing right, did he really actually smile at us?"
"Has been known to happen."
"Why do you think Luthor wanted the sword so badly?"
"More likely than not he hoped it had some sort of magical curse on it; that way he hoped he could use it as a weapon to shove it in my back!"
"And Bruce?" she asked.
The Man of Steel smiled and answered, "He just wanted to make sure Luthor never got his filthy hands on it."
With the auction over Clark and Diana stayed around a few more minutes to be polite and sign autographs, but after an hour they both began to look for an excuse to leave. It was then that one of the theater's pages, a young girl of fifteen or sixteen, came up to them and said she was sent by the music hall's director to take them in his private elevator to the roof were they both could leave and avoid the crowd gathered outside. They both thanked her as they followed the young girl into the elevator.
As the doors closed behind them, Superman looked down at their young guide and asked her if he had met her before. She looked up at him and said, "That is truly remarkable. Never has one of my clients been able to know me at a second meeting. Even as rare as those second meetings are, it still is most impressive."
"What do you mean by second meetings?" asked Superman.
"To most people I meet, I remind them of that child actress who played Roseanne's youngest daughter on her TV show."
"You are the spitting image of her."
"Why thank you, Clark! I thought this image would look good on me."
"Yeah, you know, Clark Kent, son of Martha and Jonathan Kent of Smallville, Kansas."
She turned away from the shocked face of Superman and faced Wonder Woman and said, "I am really surprised at your mother, Diana. I know it was for a good cause and all, but I can't understand why your mother would let you sell your father's sword like that."
Diana stammered, "Fath-father? I never had a father."
"Are you trying to tell me you still believe that fairy tale your mother told you about the clay baby?" She began to laugh as she then added, "Who do you think you are, Gumby?"
"Listen, young lady, I don't know what's going on here."
"Yes you do, Superman!" she interrupted. "So why don't you use those famous peepers of yours on the outside of this car, and tell your lady friend here what you see so she can know what is going on also."
Superman looked outside as he was told to do. He was almost sure what he was going to see even before he looked. Diana asked him, "What do you see?"
"Everything is frozen," he said. "Everything and everybody, right down to their very molecules."
"Not really, Clark, or do you prefer Kal-el," the little girl asked.
When she didn't get an immediate answer she said, "What ever. What you are witnessing is but an illusion; time is moving as normal as ever. It is we in here who are existing between moments in time. How else do you think I can service all my clients if I wasn't able to perform this little trick," she quickly added.
"Trick?" asked Diana.
"For someone who is supposed to be blessed with the wisdom of Athena, you're a little slow on the uptake, Princess. Your big friend here knows who I am, Diana. But then, he does have the advantage over you of total recall."
"Leave her alone," said Clark. "If you're looking for a client, I'm your man. Leave Diana out of this."
Their strange host laughed and gleefully said, "Wonderful! Even now you're trying to steal someone away from me. Over the past ten years you must have stolen millions of people away from my tender embrace, and here you are trying to grab Wonder Woman away from me once again."
Turning to Diana she asked, "Need a hint, Princess? All right, the first time I met Superman here was on a dirty Metropolis street in the arms of Lois Lane after fighting the monster Doomsday! We had our first meeting, Wonder Woman, while you were lying in a nice clean hospital bed after that demon bastard Neron tore your soul almost in half."
"DEATH! You're trying to tell me you're Death?" whispered Diana.
"Give the lady a cigar!" Death said, smiling.
Superman moved between Diana and Death, and stood there blocking her path. "NO!!!" screamed the Amazon princess as she realized what her friend was attempting to do. She tried to stop him from sacrificing himself by pushing him away from her. But even her own incredible strength was not up to the task. So failing in that, she reached for her golden lasso that was always to be found at her side in an attempt to compel him to move.
"Relax, heroes. I haven't come for either of you today."
Diana asked her, "If you are truly the manifestation of Death what do you want from us?"
"I have discovered that even I have a need from time to time to meet and talk with someone in a non-professional level and who better to talk with than the two people who walked away from my cold embrace? If it seems confusing," the young girl said, "think of that old Fredric March movie, and call the time we are spending together Death takes a Holiday."
"Just what are we going to be doing while you take your so called holiday?" asked Superman.
"Talk of the past, present and future — especially the future. Do you know someday, Diana, you will come across the writings of a Roman historian by the name of Titus, who wrote long after the fact about your mother's little tryst with a certain Macedonian."
"That's a lie!" protested the Amazon princess as she defended her mother.
"He will write of the time your mother and three hundred of her best warriors, after a little trip through time, rode boldly into the camp of Alexander the Great just after he conquered the Persian Empire. She jumped off her horse, walked up to him and boldly said, 'Since you are the greatest man to walk the Earth, and I am the strongest woman, we would have a child the envy of Mt. Olympus itself!' Well after working on the problem for nine days and nine nights, your mother got her wish and you came along — the greatest specimen of human kind to walk the planet. Or you were, until your large friend here fell out of the sky."
"You expect me to believe this nonsense?"
"You will someday," answered Death. "And it will cause no end of trouble between you and your mother. But it is also equally true that it will also one day bring you even closer together as mother and daughter."
"What about you, big boy, interested in walking down the misty corridors of time to glimpse into your future?"
"NO!" answered Superman.
"Very well, then the past it is. After all the millions of lives you pulled out of my grasp, what did it feel like when you threw those three monsters into my waiting arms? How many people did they kill, Clark, on that other Earth, five billion, six?"
"I was forced to visit them long before their time. Even I was saddened at the work I did that day. But when I got hold of those three monsters — that was sweet, and for that I thank you. I owe you much, Clark. Perhaps there is a little something I can do for you. Maybe when it's time for me to visit your parents?"
Diana watched as her best friend's face turned white. The young girl saw his distress and said, "Don't worry. They have many good years left, but this I can promise you, when it does come time for me to call on them, it will be as an old and trusted friend. I will take each of them gently by the hand to end their suffering and guide them to the reward they both have already earned for themselves."
"I only wish I could say the same thing when it is time for me to visit Lois," said the girl who would be Death as she sadly shook her head. "It will be when her life is taken from her — no, more like stolen from her — that I will come to her not as a warm trusting friend to end pain, but as some horrible screaming maniac."
"No!" shouted Clark, as he seized her in his crushing embrace.
But he held nothing and the only thing he felt was the bone numbing cold of oblivion. He fell to his knees in defeat as Diana fell to her own knees and held her friend's weeping face to her bosom, stroking his hair, rocking him back and forth, trying to comfort her friend from the death of his beloved.
"You bitch!" spat Diana. "Is that why you're here? To torture us? To torment a brave and good man, the best hope for mankind. If you must have someone, take me. Let him keep his Lois, his one comfort in life."
"I am not Neron," she answered Diana as her voice seemed to thunder out of her small frame. "My name is not Satan, Amazon. You cannot make deals with Death." A strange tinge of sadness seemed to infect her voice as she added, "Even if I wished to, I would not know how."
For one of the few times in her life Diana began to weep. She felt Clark's pain and because she cared about him so much, she also knew his feelings of loss and grief and she wept accordingly.
The girl who would be Death spoke out, "There is compensation. There are the children. There will be three, two girls and a boy. All of them will become bright shining stars in the heavens. But Lois, your daughter, will be some one very special."
"By the way, Diana, mind telling me why you would name your first daughter after your husband's dead first wife?"
They both turned to face her with looks of shock and bewilderment etched on both of their faces. Seeing their confusion Death answered that confusing by saying, "Yes, you two will be the founders of a great family that finally begins the golden age by bringing peace, love and understanding to this sad world."
Diana was suddenly ashamed; for the first time in her life, all the things she had been searching for all the years of her life could come to her — but only at the expense of the wife of the man she was now holding in her arms. The same man she had always loved and had kept hidden, ever since they met for the first time all those years ago in Washington D.C!
"Our time together grows short," said Death. "You will remember nothing of this, of course, except perhaps in your dreams or as dark and faded memories as these events unfold in the future."
The doors opened and three people got out: two friends talking to each other and the third member of their group standing next to them unseen.
"Remember," Clark said, "seven p.m. Friday for dinner at my folks place and you will be staying the holiday weekend with the family."
"I promise," said Diana.
"Good!" said Clark. "Remember, either you come or Lois will have me sleeping in the guest room."
The Amazon princess laughed and said, "Lois has you well trained now doesn't she?"
He nodded his head sheepishly and grinned without saying a word.
She smiled sweetly at him and asked, "And you wouldn't have it any other way would you?"
"I suppose not," he answered her with a big grin.
With that the two friends laughed hugged once more and took to the sky, going their separate ways.
As they left, standing there all alone, a young girl trapped in her duty not allowed to change, not allowed to show mercy, in the end only allowed to cry. Standing there all alone as she always had been and always would be.