By StopQuitDont <email@example.com>
Summary: Lois has made her choice. She has a new life, with a new husband. What happens when she wakes up and finds out she's been sleeping with the enemy?
Warning: This story is rated PG-13 for content. This is a little on the dark side. (It seems that's all I know how to write these days.) Lex Luthor is portrayed as a more evil monster than he ever was on the show. This is just the way I saw him (or what he could have been) and I wanted to write it.
It took me the better part of this year to finally get this one to resemble something worth reading. I've started and stopped this one so many times I'm not sure how I managed to finish it. I also erased it completely a few times (irritated Muse). I have to say I'm glad to have it done.
I have to say thank you to my faithful beta-reader, Jenni. Who am I kidding? She's the reason I finish WIPs to begin with. Not to mention she helps make them readable. I'd be lost without her.
Usual disclaimers apply. No infringements intended.
The slow, steady rhythm of the falling rain served to increase the overwhelming depression that encompassed his aching heart. Never did he think he could hurt as much as he was hurting now. He was forced to struggle for every breath just to go on.
How did he do that? How did he go on from here?
"That concludes the service," the stout minister said in a soft voice.
The throng of people that had gathered to say their last good-byes to the woman in the cold, impersonal box began to walk away.
With only a passing glance, he noticed some of the faces. A mother who was crying for the daughter she never really knew. A father's face, rigid and firm, as he stood next to the grave of the child he had wanted so desperately to be a boy. A sister, hysterical over the loss of her childhood protector, was led away by a young man.
The man chuckled humorously. It was funny how the people who should have known her the best didn't know her at all. Her friends, her co-workers, they were devastated. The older man that had once been her boss stopped at a nearby headstone, breaking down from his emotions. The young man that had been her researcher and good friend hurried to support the weight of the man he viewed as a surrogate father as he helped him to his car. And there was the older couple to his side. The woman was crying softly as the man kept his arm around her for comfort. They were only the parents of her friend, but here they stood, grieving for her passing.
His eyes fell on another man. This one was, to all watching, completely distraught. The tall, African American woman that served as his assistant, came to his side. He allowed her to guide him toward the waiting car, stopping to receive condolences from concerned people. Though the man appeared to be suffering from the loss of his wife, his eyes held something that could only be described as pure evil.
"Clark," his mother said as she put her hand on his shoulder. "We should go."
Clark lifted his gaze to Martha. "In a minute. I'd just like to say good-bye one last time."
"Oh honey, you'll never say good-bye. She'll always be with us… with you."
Clark's eyes filled with tears as he turned back to the menacing capsule. He watched in horror as the dark wood was lowered into the ground. He stepped forward and placed a single red rose on top of the shiny surface.
"I'll always love you, Lois," he whispered. He almost screamed in pain when the workers moved to layer the dirt on the casket that would be the final resting place of Lois Lane.
Lois Lane Luthor, he had to remind himself. With that final thought, his head snapped up to the man he'd come to realize he actually hated. Luthor was talking to some men beside his waiting limo and he was laughing. Clark considered that the ultimate slap in the face.
His expression became a mask of determination, the spark in his eyes flaring with emotion. Overcome with anger, he strode toward the object of his raging emotions.
Lex looked up an instant before Clark grabbed him around his neck and slammed him against the side of his car.
"I don't know yet exactly what you did to her, but I will find out. And I will find out all your dirty little secrets and expose you for the monster you are." Clark squeezed a bit tighter just to send home his point before releasing him. Lex fell limply to the ground, struggling for air.
Clark turned and hurried away.
"Clark," his mother called as he passed her in a rush. He said nothing, his face a picture of resigned calm. She turned concerned eyes up to Jonathan.
"He's hurting, Martha."
"I hope he'll be all right."
Jonathan sighed and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm afraid he'll never be all right again," he commented absently. He pulled Martha into his chest and led the way to their waiting car.
When Lex had regained his composure and shrugged off the hands trying to help him, his face transformed into the mask of deception it usually was. His modest show of affection was a necessity. After all, his wife had died.
"Get your hands off me," Lex snapped.
"Should we have him watched?" Mrs. Cox asked.
"Don't be ridiculous. He's not that good." Lex lowered himself into the car and shut the door.
Clark walked aimlessly for hours, his mind trying desperately to process the events of the last few months. He'd thought nothing could compare with the pain he'd felt when he watched from the doorway as Lois married Lex Luthor. His pain had grown harder to bear as he'd watched Lois realise that her marriage effectively meant the end of her friendship with her partner, something Clark had known from the beginning. Yet, the pain he felt now was far, far worse. His heart ached uncontrollably, his mind throbbed, and his very soul screamed in agony. Never again would he see her or hear her voice. Never again would he get another chance to apologize for not being there for her. Never again would he be able to one day show her how much he loved her. Seeing her with Luthor and not being friends was one thing. At least she was alive. But now, her death was worse than being in that Kryptonite cage Luthor had tried to kill him in. Her death meant he'd hurt this way for the rest of his life.
It wasn't long before Clark found himself back at her grave. He stared at the mound of dirt that covered the woman he loved more than his own life.
"God, Lois, how do I live without you?" He slumped to his knees. "There's so many things I never said, so many things I never did. I'll never get the chance again. I'll never see you smile or hear you babble." He let his head fall back, the cool rain falling on his face. He was crying when he looked down at the ground. "It wasn't supposed to be like this. For all I can do, for all that I am… I've allowed the one thing that's most precious to me to slip away." His head dropped and his powerful body was wracked with sobs as he grieved for his lost love.
How had things gotten to this point?
+Six Weeks Earlier+
Clark could barely stand any longer. He'd used his every last ounce of strength and will power to escape the death trap Lex had trapped him in. He wanted to kick himself for being so gullible, allowing Luthor to imprison him in the Kryptonite cage. The pain had been unbearable until he'd heard the first few spoken words from the wedding ceremony taking place on one of the floors above him. That's when sheer will power had taken over.
He'd run, with all the energy he had left, into the bars until the cage was close enough for him to reach the keys Lex had inadvertently left nearby. Though Clark figured Lex thought the Man of Steel wouldn't last long enough or have enough desire left to fight for his life. And his was a life that would soon be over if he didn't get upstairs to stop Lois from making the biggest mistake of her life.
Somehow he'd managed to change back into Clark and make it to the room where the most maniacal villain alive was marrying his best friend. He grasped at the open door to catch his breath and was in time to hear the woman of his dreams utter 'I do' to another man. Not just any man, but the enemy.
Clark was in shock. He really hadn't thought she'd accept let alone marry a man like Luthor. She'd all but admitted she didn't love him. So why did she do it? His heart broke even more when Lex's dirty lips touched hers in the first marital kiss.
"Ladies and gentleman, I present Mr. and Mrs. Lex Luthor," the Bishop announced with a tasteless smile.
Clark was in absolute agony now. Lois was smiling, holding Luthor's arm. Her eyes were scanning the crowd, eventually falling on his. All expression left her face as Lex continued to lead her toward the back of the room. Clark could only watch as she and her new husband approached.
As if displaying his prize, Lex stopped in front of Clark.
"Kent," he said with no emotion.
The man's words were lost to the reporter as he stood and gazed at the woman he thought he knew. Not being able to stop it, a rush of pain flowed through him. Tears filled his eyes. His heart throbbed as he turned and walked away.
Lois couldn't breathe. She didn't think he cared. He hadn't responded to her request to come to the wedding. He'd told her he couldn't come. Yet, he was here. And he was crying. He was hurting and all she wanted to do was go to him, comfort him.
Her gaze followed him down the hall. Clark had looked so lost, so hurt, so… He'd looked pale and in real physical pain. Had she done that to him? Was he literally sick because she'd married Lex? Did he hate Lex that much?
She turned to look at her husband. He was… grinning? Did he think Clark's pain was funny? Had he no compassion?
Suddenly she was short of breath. She didn't know the answers to those questions. In fact, she didn't know the answers to a lot of questions involving Lex.
"Come, my dear. Our car is waiting."
His voice broke through her thoughts. "The car?"
"Yes. We're going straight to our honeymoon." He leaned over and nuzzled her ear. "You've kept me waiting long enough."
Lois found herself at a loss for words. His implication was perfectly clear. She swallowed the bile that was rising in her throat and followed this strange man to the elevator.
Clark hurt so badly he almost didn't make it home. How could Lois have married that monster? Was she that attracted to his power? His money?
None of that mattered now. She'd said yes and that's all Clark needed to know. For him the world had come to an end. Everything he'd ever lived for was gone. He collapsed to the bed, balled himself into a fetal position, and cried helplessly.
"Lex, please. Not in the car," Lois protested as he kissed her neck. His hands were also busy trying to grasp every amount of spare flesh he could.
"The privacy shield is up," he told her, continuing with his exploration of her upper body with lips and hands.
"Still…" Lois squirmed away from him.
Lex pulled back to look at her. He'd waited so long for her. He could wait just a little longer. "Okay." He pushed her hair back off her face and kissed her forehead. "I can wait… for now."
"Thank you." Her voice was sweet and apologetic. She reached for his hand, pulling it to her lips to kiss his knuckles.
He simply groaned before he pulled her to his body. He needed to take some deep breaths to get hold of himself.
Lois was so relieved for the momentary reprieve. She knew she couldn't deny Lex indefinitely, but even for a bit longer was all right by her. She let him hold her as her thoughts drifted back to Clark.
Never had she had a friend like her partner had proven himself to be. He was warm, kind, compassionate, smart, funny… He was everything she could have wanted in a friend. And he'd been so hurt after the ceremony. Their relationship had been strained lately. Now it looked like it was over with. Had her marriage really ended all the things they'd had and all they'd been to each other?
The silent car ride came to a halt and she exited behind Lex to board the waiting plane. He still hadn't told her where they were going on their honeymoon. At the moment she really didn't care.
It wasn't long before they were air born and Lex was once again trying his best to get lucky. She pushed him away with the excuse that she wanted their first time to be special. She didn't want it wasted on an aircraft. He reluctantly gave up after a few moments but remained quiet throughout their flight.
Lois couldn't believe what she'd witnessed. Lex Luthor had pouted because he didn't get his way. He wouldn't even look at her until he snapped a command when the plane landed.
Lois soon learned they were in Paris. A car was waiting to take them to their hotel. She'd been totally unprepared for the shock she was about to receive.
They had entered their hotel room. Lois was taking in her surroundings when Lex stepped up behind her.
"No more waiting," he told her as he took her roughly by the arms.
"You're hurting me, Lex."
"You'll forget the pain in a moment." He guided her into the bedroom and in less time than it takes to get dressed, Lex was bedding his bride.
"Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful," Lex breathed and fell over onto his side next to a stunned Lois.
She lay there staring up at the ceiling. He hadn't bothered to ask if she was even all right, if she'd enjoyed it. He just did as any other man she'd ever known.
She pushed herself up when the breathing next to her signaled its owner was fast asleep. Lex hadn't even bothered to undress her fully, so she had to fight with the wedding dress. Tears were already starting to fall down her cheeks as she closed herself off behind the bathroom doors. She peeled the white satin and lace from her body, then entered the shower. Under the hot spray, Lois Lane collapsed to the tile as she realized she'd made a huge mistake.
The following morning started in much the same way the night before had ended. Lois was forced through another horrible coupling with her new husband. She was so thankful he was wrapped up in his own pleasure and didn't expect her to react in a positive way to his actions. This time he closed himself off in the shower.
Lois forced herself not to cry. Lex wasn't worth it. She'd just act the adoring wife, shower her groom with compliments, and pretend to be blissfully happy until he took her home. It was just unbelievable that she'd been so stupid. She couldn't have misjudged this man so horribly.
Two hours and one incredibly heartfelt apology later, Lois thought maybe she'd been wrong to think the worst of Lex. He'd been so sincere when he'd spoken to her. He appeared genuinely sorry for how he'd acted. And when he'd kissed her, she'd responded slightly. The tension returned immediately when he started to take things further, but it wasn't as unbearable as it had been the first two times. It hadn't been the best love making Lois had ever experienced, but not the worst either. So, maybe she'd keep an open mind. After all, this was her life now. Right?
Clark Kent had never been one to wallow in self-pity, but that's exactly what he'd been doing a lot the past few days. He sulked around his apartment, certain the agony he felt would never let his heart go. After a few calls from his mother, he realized he had to go on. He couldn't lie here forever. That wasn't who he was, that wasn't what he wanted to be. He had his parents to think of and he couldn't let his Superman duties go completely. Maybe the superhero could be his salvation now.
With the Planet being out of business, Clark had to find employment. He felt another job as a reporter would be too painful at the moment, so he opted to write a column for a magazine instead. He pitched an idea for a series to evolve around Superman. The publication was thrilled to have such a section and with the writing being done by one of the best reporters in the business, they immediately agreed to all his demands. The work he could do in his sleep and the flexibility was what he needed to try his hand at writing a novel.
When he wasn't writing, Clark would spend as much time as possible being Superman. He'd work himself to the point of exhaustion in hopes that when he fell into bed the nightmares that had plagued him wouldn't come. It never worked. He always woke up, sweating and crying out Lois' name. There was a part of him that wanted to prove Luthor to be the monster he was to the world. He selfishly wanted Lois to know how wrong she'd been about the man. Yet, another part just wanted to run and hide. That part was the one that reminded him Lois had made her decision. Luthor was her life; he was what she wanted. In the end, his wounded pride wouldn't even let him consider the possibility of getting involved in anything that had to do with Lex Luthor or his new bride. The part that loved Lois, that would always love her, said good-bye and wished her well. That part also cried over the loss of a very dear friend.
Three days into her honeymoon Lois believed she'd been wrong about Lex. He'd proven himself to be the kind, considerate man he'd been while they were dating. He was as sweet and charming as he'd always been, trying his level best to please her. They'd been all over Paris, enjoying the city of love.
He'd also become a better lover. He was no longer possessive and hasty. Though not completely in tune with her needs or wants, he was learning. At least she felt he was trying. After all, how much could a man really give to a woman in the bedroom?
He'd left the decisions about their activities to her. So it was no surprise when they rose on the fourth day he'd asked her what she wanted to do. She was about to respond when the phone rang.
"Excuse me, dear." Lex wiped his mouth with his napkin and rose from the breakfast table. "Yes? This better be important." He listened for a few moments. Slowly his expression went from one of pleasure to one of anger. "What?! How the hell did that happen?" Another pause while his anger brewed. "Damn!… No, no. I'm on the next flight." He slammed the phone down and turned to face Lois. He was much too consumed in his situation to be concerned with her at the moment. "Pack our things. We're going home."
It wasn't a request. He didn't stop to ask her opinion. He gave the order, then left the suite. Lois was left with her mouth hanging open. What had just happened here? She hadn't missed the transformation before her. Lex had gone from the gentle man he'd been the last few days to something she had yet to put a name to. For a moment, cold fear clenched her. She pushed that aside. Lex was just upset over a business deal, she told herself. You don't get as rich and powerful as he is without standing to lose some money along the way. But this had to be huge. She'd just get their things together. There was no need to add to his distress.
For some reason Lois couldn't help but think this might not be so much a case of losing money than of Lex being on the losing end of a battle. She wasn't so naive to think he'd risen to the station he had without making a few people mad along the way. Maybe they were returning the favor.
Distress didn't begin to describe Lex. He was livid. He'd been occupied with one phone call or another most of the flight back to Metropolis. He talked in hushed tones and spoke of things Lois knew nothing about. That was when she realized she knew very little about what he actually did. Did he personally oversee all of LexCorp? What function did he serve? She wanted to question him, but thought better of it.
Once home he closed himself off in his office, leaving Mrs. Cox to help Lois settle in. Lois didn't like the woman. She was too clingy and much too mysterious for her tastes, but Lex thought her invaluable. Nigel was also another sore spot. And the distaste seemed to go both ways. He often looked at her like she had some kind of disease. She was certain Nigel saw her as a thorn in Lex's side. How was she supposed to get used to all this?
Her predicament might have been more bearable if she had something to consume her time. Remembering her new job at LNN, she forgot her unpacking and hurried from the room. Behind her, a very bewildered assistant was left.
Lex paced across the concrete floor of the basement. The Kryptonite cage, in which he'd left Superman to die, stared back at him. It was empty. The man he'd sought to destroy was not lying there, lifeless. He wasn't there at all. He'd gotten out. Worse yet, he was very much alive and healthy. He'd been all over the city saving the day as he usually did.
"What happened?" Lex roared. "How did he get out?" The silence answered him.
He'd seen the stuff work. He knew it had affected that impenetrable armor. He'd watched the man writhe in pain. Lex had underestimated the boy in blue. There must be a will of iron behind that skin of steel.
Lex lifted a glass of wine to his lips with a smile. "I've beaten you though, Super… man. I have the woman. Lois is mine. Mine to have… to possess… to break. I told you she was much too independent for my tastes, but I intend to handle that. And you're alive. You'll be forced to watch the transformation." Lex chuckled. "Maybe this is better than death." He lifted the glass and swallowed what was left of the wine, a smile of absolute triumph on his lips.
Lois entered the penthouse in silence. It was nearly midnight. She'd stayed late again to get the late news rolling. She dropped her briefcase and headed to the bedroom, saying a silent thank you that Lex had been so consumed in his business for the past week to barely notice she was alive.
When she entered the room, the lamp by the bed was snapped on. Her eyes fell on Lex. He was sitting in the chair, an unreadable expression on his face.
"Where have you been?" he asked.
"Work. I helped get the late news on."
"That's not your job."
Lois stopped at that. How did he know what her job was? "Lex, I told you before I had to work."
"That was before you became my wife," he stated plainly. "Your only job now is to do what you're told."
Lois smirked at him. "You're not my father."
Lex shot out the chair and slapped her to the floor. "No! I am your husband and you will do what I say!"
Lois lifted her hand to her mouth to wipe the blood there. She had not seen that one coming at all.
"I've let you get away with too much this past week while I tended to my business. That won't happen any more." He reached down and pulled her up by her arm, uncaring of how rough he was.
"Lex… you're hurting me," she protested.
"And you're hurting me by staying out all hours. My wife will not subject herself to rumor. People will talk, Lois. They'll say we're not happy, that you were controlling me. I can't have that. It's time you learned a very valuable lesson." With that he proceeded to throw her to the bed and take selfish pleasure in her body, unconcerned with her protests to stop. When he was done, he stood up beside the bed and glared down at her. "You're mine now. Do you understand that?"
Lois was so stunned she could only nod.
"Go get cleaned up. I have something I have to do." He turned and strode out the door, still naked.
Lois scrambled to the bathroom. Her hands shook uncontrollably. Lex had just raped her. She couldn't believe it. He was her husband. He wasn't supposed to do something so horrible. Hot tears coursed down her cheeks as she quickly dressed. She had to get out of here. She wasn't some puppet and Lex Luthor wasn't about to pull her chains.
She cracked the door open and listened for sounds coming from the rest of the penthouse. When she was sure there wasn't any, she tiptoed out into the hall. As silently as possible, she made her getaway. Deciding to take the road less traveled, Lois went in the direction of the staff quarters. Surely she wouldn't run into Lex here. He'd left in the nude. How far could he possibly go?
Undoubtedly as far as Mrs. Cox's room. He'd left the door open so Lois got the full effect of what was going on. Lex was… was…
Lois listened to the sounds of approval coming from the man as the woman he was with worked to please him. She felt her stomach lurch. Without a sound, she hurried to the back elevator. Ten minutes later she stepped onto the sidewalk.
Her mind whirled, she tried desperately to catch her breath. This was all too much. She mentally kicked herself for being so stupid. Clark had been right all along.
Clark… She gasped as she thought about him. Instantly the pained look she'd seen on his face and the tears in his eyes invaded her soul. She'd done that to him for this. What did she do now? She'd been so gullible. The humiliation was overwhelming her. She wanted to run, to hide. Her eyes fell on a passing cab. She threw her hand up and yelled. She had to get away from here to think.
"Have you found her yet?" Lex thundered. He hadn't bothered to return to his room the night before, so he'd just learned of Lois' disappearance. He'd been too exhausted after going to see Mrs. Cox. The woman was good at her job. She hadn't been lying when she said she did whatever needed to be done.
"Not yet, sir," Nigel told him. "But it won't be long now."
"Let me know as soon as she's located. I guess she failed to comprehend my instructions last night." He lit a cigar, blowing smoke into the air. "She won't make that mistake next time," he said to no one in particular.
Nigel smiled to himself as he left the room. He'd known Lois Lane would not come willingly. Lex had his hands full, but it would be fun watching him break her.
Lois had lain awake most the night in her rented hotel room. The realization of the situation had hit her like a ton of bricks. She had been sleeping with the enemy. How had she been so blind? She'd truly believed Lex was a decent man. He'd always been so kind and patient with her. Now she saw that was just an act. He was exactly like every man she'd ever known. He was charming and sweet until he got what he wanted. Only with him, it seemed like he was more evil than she could have imagined.
Her lip was swollen where he'd hit her. Her body ached where he'd groped at her. He'd raped her. Lex had actually raped her. She'd told him to stop over and over. He hadn't. He held her down, her hands in a death grip. Then he'd just gotten up and went to another woman's bed. To him it was natural. Once again her body rejected the bile that rose from her stomach.
When Lois had cleaned her face, she straightened her clothes. Lex may have attacked her, but he had in no way broken her. She had more spirit than he gave her credit for. She wasn't about to sit around and let some egotistical male tell her what she could do. And she wasn't about to let one get away with the horrible act of violence she'd been subject to last night.
With more confidence than she felt, Lois collected herself and headed for the door. She'd file charges against the indomitable philanthropist and see how he liked that.
Lois was about to reach for the handle of the door to the police precinct when her eyes met his. He was staring at her.
Clark found his voice after a long silence. "H… hi."
"Hey," she said, dropping her gaze.
"How are you?" He knew she'd lie about that. There was something in her eyes that told him she wasn't at all well. And the mark on her lip angered him beyond belief. If all were well in the house of Luthor, he would have expected her to claim she was happy. Instead she answered…
"I've been better." She was still refusing to look at him.
Clark was torn. This woman had effectively killed his spirit, yet she was in pain. His heart was still hers no matter what his mind told him. Making an instant decision, he reached out and took her by the elbow. To his surprise she shrank away from him. Was she scared he'd hurt her?
"I just want you to step to the side of the building so we can talk in private." She seemed to relax… a little and let him pull her down the sidewalk. Clark regarded her for a moment, unable to determine what he saw in her expression. "Lois, what's wrong?"
She turned her head from him in silence.
"Did he hurt you?" Clark's anger rose when he saw the start of tears in her eyes. "Lois, please." When she failed to respond, he reached out to squeeze her upper arm. "I'm here," he said softly. He would always be there for her. No matter how much she'd hurt him, she was still the woman he loved.
Lois couldn't tell him what Lex had done. Clark would be furious. He'd told her all along that Lex was evil. She should have listened. But as always, she just had to be right. She had to do things her way. And she'd hurt her best friend. How could he want to even talk to her now?
She swiped at her eyes. "I… I…" She was about to tell him she was fine and leave, but she made the mistake of looking at him. He was in so much pain, but this time it was shared pain. He was hurting for her. "I can't talk here."
"Come to my apartment."
"I can't now." His disappointment was written clearly over his face. "Tonight?"
Clark wanted to find out now why she was troubled. It was apparent whatever it was it was bad. But he needed Lois to tell him willingly. "Okay," he told her.
She nodded. "I, ah, I have to go."
"Okay." He watched as she turned. He wanted to wait until she was out of sight, but his hearing kicked in. He groaned and ran down the street to the nearest alley.
From his position across the street, Lex had seen the encounter between his wife and the hick. He waited as the Nigel intercepted Lois at the door of the precinct and guided her toward the car.
"I've beaten you as well," Lex said to Clark's figure running down the street.
The door opened and Lois was shoved into the back.
"Lois," Lex purred with a smile. "What shall I do with you?"
Lois sat on the seat opposite the menacing figure. She had to come to the car. Nigel squeezed her arm until it was painful. The fear from the night before rushed around her, leaving her at his mercy.
Lex said nothing during the drive home. He didn't touch her as they went to the penthouse. He directed her with a wave of his hand into his office. He closed the door and walked around in front of her.
Lois stood perfectly still like a child waiting for punishment for some act of rebellion.
"Maybe I didn't make myself clear last night." Lex raised his hand and hit Lois hard. Before she had time to land on the floor good, he wrapped his hand around her neck and lifted her to her feet. "Let me make myself clearer. You are to do as I say. Period!"
There was a spark still left in Lois. She struggled to get enough air to breathe. "And if I don't?"
"Your friend, Mr. Kent, will die!"
Lois' eyes widened in fear. Clark? He'd kill Clark? There was something in Lex's eyes that said he meant exactly what he said.
"I own you now. Never doubt that." He kept his face inches from hers. She felt his breath on her skin. After a moment, he thrust her to the floor. "Pick yourself up and go get ready for me. You will try to make this up to me."
Lois' mind had gone numb. She was too shocked to do anything but obey and too humiliated to care. She lifted herself off the floor and left the room.
Once behind the closed door of the bedroom, she sank to the floor in tears. What was she going to do? How could she get out of this?
Much later, in pain and tears, Lex left her again. He'd told her she was only mildly entertaining. He let her know that her every move from now on would be watched.
Lois sobbed in misery. She was such an idiot. She'd been taken in and was living in a hell unlike none she'd ever known before. Her body throbbed and her mind was numb. She couldn't think straight. No amount of washing could take away the filth she felt. No amount of reasoning could quell the agony she was in. She had to figure out what to do. There was no way she'd survive here as Lex's puppet. But how did she get away from him? How did she keep him from killing Clark if she did?
And thinking of Clark reminded her that she was supposed to go to his apartment that night. She couldn't very well do that without Lex finding out. She called the number she knew by heart and left a message on his machine. She'd hurt Clark enough. There was no way she'd let Lex kill him.
Clark had gotten the message from Lois. She told him she wasn't feeling well and would have to pass. She assured him she'd be okay and would call in a few days to reschedule.
Reschedule? That had been unnerving to Clark. Since when did best friends need to schedule anything? But he'd had no choice than to let it go. If she didn't want to come to see him, there was nothing he could do.
When Clark hadn't heard from Lois after a week, he started to worry. He told himself she was probably just busy getting settled in as a wife. That thought disgusted him. It was still so hard to believe she was married to Luthor. He was so sure he'd seen something in her eyes outside the police station. He would have bet money that she was in some kind of trouble.
Not wanting to totally dismiss that idea, Clark thought she might have just gotten busy with her new job at LNN and was unable to call him back. He couldn't let her go. He wanted to believe she needed him, still wanted them to be friends. With that thought, he decided to drop by the television station and check to see if she was feeling better.
"Excuse me," Clark said to a passing man. "Could you tell me where Lois La… Luthor's office is?"
"Sorry pal. Mrs. Luthor quit a week ago. Someone came to gather her things, but she hasn't been back."
"Thank you." The man hurried on to handle whatever tasks he was assigned to. Clark was left with more questions than he had before coming in. Lois wasn't working. That meant Lex was controlling what she did. The image that created almost made Clark fly straight to Lex Towers. Reigning in his emotions, he made his way out the building. He wanted answers and he wanted them now. To get them, he'd go straight to the source.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Kent," the doorman at Lex Towers told him. "Mrs. Luthor isn't taking visitors." He replaced the phone he'd used to ring the penthouse.
"Could you give her a message?"
"Sorry. Mr. Luthor frowns on that."
"I understand." He didn't, but what was he supposed to say? "Thank you." Clark turned and headed home in defeat.
Had he been wrong? Had he read more into her expression than was there?
No! He wasn't wrong. Lois was in trouble and needed him. He went to the nearest phone booth and called her only to be told that Lois was occupied. He replaced the receiver in frustration. How was he going to find out if she was okay if he couldn't even talk to her?
That would have to wait for the moment. Someone needed Superman.
Clark had to concede defeat. Lois had left another message that she was okay, for him not to worry. She said she was just busy with designing her new home Lex was building them. Clark grimaced. Her reminder of all the power and wealth she now had made him sick to his stomach.
Standing in the room watching the crowd before him, Clark wanted nothing more than to leave the last few months behind. He could be gone by morning, living somewhere far away from the pain he felt constantly. He had no idea why he stayed. And he had less of an idea why he was here tonight.
Charity functions served to let the world believe Lex Luthor was some great humanitarian. This one was no different. The man would flaunt in front of Metropolis' high society with practiced ease. He'd taken them all in.
Clark's eyes fell on the couple as they walked into the room. Lois was at Lex's side as he made his entrance. He strutted his arrogance with a satisfied smile, extremely pleased with the beautiful woman on his arm.
Beautiful didn't begin to describe her. Lois was stunning. She'd always be Clark's weakness. He may as well admit that and decide what to do about it.
He took in her expression. She was forcing a smile and her eyes were completely void of any life. There was definitely something wrong.
Clark waited until Luthor was occupied with a group of men before crossing the room to Lois.
"Lois?" It was as if she didn't know who he was. There was no recognition in her eyes at all. He'd done it. Lex had broken her spirit.
"Ah, Mr. Kent," Lex said as he walked up behind Lois to put a possessive hand on the small of her back. "Here to wish us a happy marriage?"
"Not a chance." Clark couldn't stop his words. He looked back down at Lois. "How are you?"
"I was asking her."
"No. When you speak to my wife, you speak to me." Lex turned Lois and pushed her toward the door of the room. "Wait on me upstairs."
She never said a word as she walked away from the two men. Clark was dumbfounded. He'd never seen Lois so docile.
Lex glared back at Clark. "Let me explain something to you. Lois is mine now. You are not to call, come by, or try to see her otherwise. Is that clear?"
Clark met his glare with one of his own. "The only thing clear is that you have done something to Lois. I don't know yet, but I will find out. And when I do, you will suffer as she has."
"Are you threatening me?"
"No. I'm making you a promise." Clark shot him a final glare and left Lex searing in anger.
"Should I have him taken care of, sir?" Nigel asked.
Lex heaved to catch his breath, his anger overwhelming him. "No. Unfortunately he's the glue that keeps my… wife together." Lex sighed and left through the door Lois had gone earlier.
Outside Clark found an alley and spun into his suit. He hovered over the building to see if he could find Lois. She was in her bedroom in the penthouse, undressing. He forced his eyes away from the unfolding scene. Her posture screamed of an underlying threat, but what was he supposed to do? Lex was entering the room and undressing as well.
Clark wasn't about to stay and witness Lex doing… that to Lois. He shot up into the air as fast as he could. He wanted so much to believe that Lois was in danger and needed to get away from the evil she was living in now. But the pain and distress he'd felt since she accepted Lex's proposal told him she was happy and right where she wanted to be. If she needed help, she'd get it. He was talking about Lois Lane. She wouldn't let any man control her.
A call for help interrupted his thoughts. He pushed Lois to the back of his mind so he could make it through another save and hopefully another night.
Lois was living in hell. She wasn't allowed to leave the penthouse without an escort. She was constantly aware of the cameras in most of the rooms. And she was constantly reminded that the people she loved would suffer for her indiscretions. Deciding this to be her fate, she allowed the flicker that remained in her spirit to die.
Four weeks of pure hell, she thought as she drifted through the corridors of her prison. There had been countless one- sided discussions about her usefulness. Lex told her she was a prize. Her spirit had attracted him. He had fallen for her because he viewed her as a prize to be won. He wanted to break her spirit. He wanted to bring her to her knees. The satisfaction of knowing she'd have to submit to him was too great to pass up, so he'd pursued her. He felt she would make a beautiful, adornment… the perfect wife.
He'd also told her of her many inadequacies in the bedroom. She'd made the mistake of letting him know that she'd seen him with another woman. He'd asserted his sexual dominance with a vengeance for that. He'd also told her that he'd take as many lovers as he wanted.
She turned a corner she'd never been around before. For some reason there were no cameras in this section of the penthouse, so this was where Lois wanted to be. There was a door that opened to a staircase. Her curious nature took over and she made her way down the steps. She was in the wine cellar, staring at a cage. Not just any cage, but a glowing, green cage. She knew this eerie glow. It was Kryptonite. What was Lex doing with Kryptonite? Her blood ran cold at the implication.
Her mind was reeling. Thoughts ran wild. Was Superman supposed to die in there? Was Lex planning to kill him? Suddenly the fire that had once burned so bright beneath the surface of the once brilliant reporter sparked to life. She turned and ran back up the stairs. She had to find out what Lex was up to and she knew how to do it.
"What?!" Lex yelled at the top of his lungs. "How did that happen? Why hasn't he been found?!"
"We're working on it, sir," Nigel told him.
"Work harder. I want him found. He can cause too much trouble."
"I've taken the liberty of taking care of the Black fellow."
"Ah, John. What about his brother Pete?"
"Pete has been compensated. He will remain quiet. But John has blabbed to anyone that will listen. We believe that's the reason young Jack bolted."
"Nigel, from now on we have to be more careful about who we deal with on these matters."
"You have the girl. What does it matter?"
Lex glared at him incredulously. "What does it matter? It may well be true the reasoning behind getting rid of the Planet came about because I wanted to displace and disorient Lois, but with the amount of money involved I could be in serious trouble. Seventy five million is not something to sneeze at."
"Not to mention arson," Nigel commented off-handedly.
"Exactly." Lex lit a cigar and took a long drag. He blew the smoke into the air while he contemplated his next move. "We have to find Jack and get rid of him before he talks."
"Understood." The phone rang and Nigel moved to pick it up. "Luthor residence. Yes ma'am… Please hold." Nigel pushed the hold button on the phone and turned to Lex. "It's Mrs. Ellen Lane. She wants to know why she's been unable to speak with her daughter."
"Damn! We have to do something about that." Lex drummed his fingers on the desk a moment. "Tell her Lois will meet her for lunch tomorrow at Tony's."
"Yes sir." Nigel pushed the hold button again and spoke into the receiver. "Mrs. Lane, Mrs. Luthor is available for lunch tomorrow… Yes… Tony's, 12:30… Yes. Good day." Nigel hung up the phone.
"That's the hardest thing to keep balanced with that wife of mine. Her mother makes me sick."
"Find Lois. I want to speak to her."
Nigel nodded and left the room.
Inside the hidden corridor, which Lois had found a few days earlier that led straight to Lex's office from the cellar, she had been listening to their entire conversation. It was true. Lex had blown up the Planet and framed poor Jack. And it was all her fault. Lex had been planning this whole thing just to be able to say he'd broken her. She had represented a challenge he couldn't pass up.
Since finding the Kryptonite cage, Lois had rediscovered the fire that had once defined who she was. She'd started to rethink her situation and realized she wasn't some helpless creature who couldn't fend for herself. She'd started to do what she'd always done: she investigated. That had allowed her to hear some of the most horrible and damaging information about her husband. He was every bit the monster Clark had made him out to be. However, she couldn't find one shred of proof of anything. That wasn't because there was none there, but because she was constantly being watched. How she'd been able to escape detection to find Lex's hidden corridors was only made possible because there were no cameras in the office side of the penthouse. From the small area right outside Lex's private den, she'd listened to him and Mrs. Cox have sex. She'd heard Nigel ask if the plan to kill Superman was going to move along. She'd also heard Lex brag about the Man of Steel being locked in that horrible cage during their wedding.
That had disturbed Lois incredibly. She'd been marrying a killer and was totally blind to any of it. The man she'd professed to love could have been dying while she said 'I do'. She was just thankful he'd somehow managed to escape.
After hearing that particular revelation in the secret corridor just a few days ago, she'd been shocked even further to hear how Lex enjoyed rubbing his marriage in Clark Kent's face. That statement had enraged Lois. She'd listened further as Lex rattled on and on about Superman and Clark, how watching him be married to Lois was worse than any supposed death he could inflict on either of them. That day was the day she started to think about things with a more critical eye. What she discovered blew her away.
How she realized the truth was still a mystery. She'd thought about Superman and Clark over and over. She thought about how she'd disliked Clark when he first came to work at the Planet. She thought about how crazy she was over the superhero. The good times, the bad times… She went through it all. She remembered how she and Clark had become friends. She thought about her partner's warm, compassionate personality. She also thought about what she really knew about Superman. Remembering scene after scene with each man, Lois realized they were one in the same. Clark Kent was Superman. That's why he'd been so pale and looked sick at her wedding that day. He'd been poisoned in Lex's cage. She'd also hurt him so horribly with her declaration and denial. In realizing the truth she'd had to admit that she'd never been in love with Superman at all. And little by little she'd fallen completely for her partner. None of that mattered now though. All the horrible things she'd done to Clark would forever keep them apart. Anger over not seeing such a significant thing was replaced by pure loathing for herself.
Lois felt she'd been egotistical, arrogant, self absorbed, uncompromising, and just plain stupid where Clark and Superman were concerned. She was humiliated beyond belief. She was also terrified. Her best friend's fate lay in her hands. If she defied Lex, he'd kill Clark. Although Clark was Superman, he was still just as vulnerable as long as Lex had Kryptonite. So, she'd given in to the monster she was now married to. But not any longer…
On the upper west side of Metropolis, Lex Luthor gave his wife an order to go have lunch with her mother to allay the woman's worry about her daughter. Lois acquiesced, even forcing a smile. The last thing she'd wanted was to upset Lex. Her mother couldn't suspect there was anything wrong in the house of Luthor. Lex had made it perfectly clear that he wouldn't hesitate to kill those Lois loved the most.
Across town, in a small apartment in one of the less fortunate neighborhoods, Jack hid from the Boss. He'd learned in juvenile hall that the Boss was none other than Lex Luthor. John Black had told of how he'd been paid to set some dude up to take the fall for the destruction of the Daily Planet. Jack knew he'd have to get out. He also knew that once he did, the Boss would put a hit out on him. He'd just have to lay low for a few weeks, then he'd contact Clark. Clark would know how to help get him out this mess.
Clark had given in to the call to be Superman more than usual. He'd let it be therapy to keep Lois out of his thoughts. It didn't work very well, but it did keep him focused on something besides himself and his troubles.
He'd spent most of the day in California at the site of a mining accident. Metropolis welcomed him home with style. There had been an accident at Luthor Oil. A car had lost control and hit a holding tank. The subsequent explosion and fire had destroyed most of a city block. And that was after Clark had spent six hours working with various fire departments to put out the fire. Thankfully Clark had just returned to town shortly after the blaze started. He'd evacuated the buildings, saving hundreds. However, the driver of the vehicle had died instantly. The fire had been so hot and burned so long, the rescue workers were unable to distinguish between human remains and those of the inside of the vehicle. Everything was sent to the coroner for identification.
Just as he suffered with every human loss after being unable to save someone, Clark left the scene to go mourn this loss.
Lex stood, motionless, unable to speak. Word had gotten back to him only two hours after Lois was supposed to have been home from her lunch with her mother that one of Lex's stooges had grown tired of being a puppet. The delivered message stated that Luthor would suffer devastation and confusion beyond belief. Not three hours later, a call came from Metropolis Police Department saying that they believed Lois had been killed in an accident at his oil company.
"Sir?" Nigel asked. "Are you all right?"
"Yes," he said as he dropped into a chair. "It was Lois?"
"Apparently, sir. The charred frame was identified as the car Lois took to go to lunch this afternoon."
"Damn!" Lex ran a hand through his hair as his mind whirled with thoughts. "What was she doing at the plant?"
"I couldn't say for sure, but this might explain that warning you received this morning. It did imply you would suffer devastation and confusion beyond belief."
"You may be right, Nigel." Lex was silent as he thought about the implications of his current situation.
"They took the remains to identify what's human and what's just the interior of the car."
"What?!" Lex's terrified eyes met Nigel.
"They couldn't identify anything. The fire burned everything to ashes."
"Who do we have on payroll at the coroner's office?"
"Nigel, I can't have them identify Lois' remains. I've been feeding her a little… something to make me a widower after a while. This new, how shall I say? elixir…" He grinned evilly at his clever use of the deadly substance he'd been giving to Lois. "… Is still very much in the experimental phases at Lex Labs. If the authorities look too closely, it will be traced back to me."
"But… I thought you enjoyed having her here?"
"It was exciting having her here in the first few weeks, but recently she'd lost her appeal and I was growing a little bored. I had done what I wanted to do. I broke Lois. She no longer satisfied me." He smiled evilly. "But the challenge to see if I could kill her without suspicion was proving to be so much fun."
Lex stood to his feet. "Make a call and get her identification taken care of."
"Yes sir. Shall I set up the announcement about her death as soon as we get the okay?"
"Yes. Release a statement to the press." Lex waved the assistant out of the room. He should make some calls and see about this new threat to his empire. He needed to find out who'd been responsible for this and have them taken care of immediately.
Clark was paralysed with shock and disbelief. The person that had died in the accident the day before at the oil company was Lois.
Lois? As in Lois Lane? As in Lois Lane Luthor? How was that possible? How had he not known?
"Once again," the commentator continued on the television, "Mrs. Lex Luthor has succumbed at the age of twenty eight years old, dying in an a fiery accident yesterday at Luthor Oil."
Clark dropped to the sofa, his mind going numb. Lois was… dead. She was gone, just like that. In the span of an instant, all that had ever been precious to Clark was gone forever.
+Back to Present+
Clark didn't know how long he'd been beside Lois' grave. He'd cried until there were no tears left. Numb and unsure of where to go from here, he forced himself to stand. He should go home so his parents wouldn't worry about him. They'd been through enough without him adding to it.
Twenty minutes later he walked through the door of his apartment to find his parents looking up at him anxiously from the kitchen.
"I'm sorry if I made you worry. I was…" Clark looked down at his hands, unable to continue.
"It's okay. We're just glad you're home safe and sound." Martha went to help him take off his wet jacket. "You need to get out of these wet clothes, but before you do, I need to tell you that someone's here to see you."
Clark turned to the voice. Jack was standing in the doorway of Clark's bedroom. Jack! What was he doing here? Last time Clark had seen the boy had been in Juvenile Hall, while he'd been awaiting his trial for the destruction on the Daily Planet. He looked in as much pain as Clark himself.
"Where have you been?" Clark asked.
"Hiding," Jack told him. "When I heard about Lois, I had to come."
Clark's eyes filled with tears again. "Yeah." His voice drifted off as his mind went back over the last few weeks. He looked up again when Jack placed a hand on his arm.
"It's going to be okay."
Clark stared at Jack. "How? How will it ever be okay again?" He pushed past the young man and hurried to close himself off in the bathroom.
Clark slumped against the wooden door. The pain he'd finally managed to get a grip on came rushing back in around him. Intense burning around his heart was proving to be unbearable. This was worse than finding out he was an alien freak. This was worse than the Kryptonite cage Lex had him in that day.
With more effort than he'd ever had to use to do anything, he forced himself to get up and change his wet clothes. He washed his face and went back into the other room. Jack was sitting with his parents at the table. His mother had prepared him a plate of food.
"Come eat, Clark," Martha told him.
"I'm not very hungry, Mom."
"You need to keep up your strength."
He wanted to protest, but couldn't bring himself to argue. He sat down heavily in a chair and began to pick at his food.
"Clark," his father started. "You should hear what Jack has to say." Clark looked up at his father. "He says someone framed him for the explosion at the Planet."
As much pain as he was in, this piqued his reporter's instincts. Clark turned to face Jack while he recanted the story of John Black and his brother Pete. He told about the things he'd heard about the Boss.
"I hear the Boss is Lex Luthor."
That wiped every ounce of pain from Clark's eyes and was replaced with fire. "If that's true, he ordered the explosion."
"Then it's possible there was also more insurance than he'd said," Martha added.
"And a connection could put Luthor away for a long time," Clark said, more to himself than anyone else.
"Then you'll help me?"
Clark looked back up at Jack. "Of course I'll help. If the rumors are true, he won't stop until you're out the way." Jack had heard the Boss wanted him dead.
"I knew I could count on you."
"Yeah, well, don't thank me yet." Clark pushed up from his chair and went to the phone. He dialed the number of a person he knew could help with this. "Perry! It's great to hear your voice," he said after a moment.
"Clark! How are ya', son? How ya' holding up?"
"As well as can be expected I guess."
"Yeah… That girl's left a hole in me the size of Memphis."
Clark swallowed the lump in his throat. "I can't argue with you there. I miss Lois so bad I ache all the time."
There was a long silence before Perry spoke again. "I'm sorry I didn't talk to you after the service today. I had to… you know…?"
"I understand. Listen, I need to see you before you go home. Can you come to my apartment tonight?"
"What's this all about?"
"I'd rather explain when I see you."
"Okay son, I'll see you tonight."
"Okay. See you then Perry." Clark cut the connection a little happier than he'd been earlier. With his former editor helping him, they'd nail Luthor in a matter of days. Nothing would make him happier than to put the man believed to be Metropolis' perfect son behind bars. It may not bring Lois back, but it would help Clark deal with the enormous grief he was sure would be a constant companion for the rest of his life.
Perry sat in the corner of the sofa at Clark's place, contemplating the story he'd just been told.
"We're going to need to dig into everything we can think of to nail Luthor. He didn't get where he's at by not covering his tracks well. I think we should call Jimmy. We'll need his help to dig into some pretty confidential computer records."
Clark nodded his head at Perry's words. "I'll do that tonight. Jack, you can stay here until this is over."
"So," Perry said rising to his feet. "I'll start with the insurance on the Planet first thing in the morning."
Clark followed him to the door. "Thanks, Perry."
"Clark, I want to see Lex pay for all the things he's done as well." He clapped the younger man's shoulder. "We'll get him."
"Yeah." Clark shut the door behind his ex-boss and went to call Jimmy. The quicker they started their investigation, the sooner Luthor would be exposed as a criminal.
Perry immediately went to work on finding out what company held the insurance on the Planet. It took him over a week, but the trail led to Lexel Investments. There had been nearly three times as much protection on the paper as it would have taken to rebuild. So why had Lex wanted it closed if he owned it?
Jimmy and Jack concentrated on learning what they could about the board members of the Planet. The evidence they gathered was extremely damning. It seemed Luthor had bribed the board into selling the Planet to him only to turn around and blow it up. They finally traced some of the bribe money back to an account owed by Lexel Investments.
Clark worked on finding the evidence to clear Jack. The young man was grateful beyond belief. Clark got him a job at the magazine he worked at, along side Jimmy. The team was almost back together again… almost.
But for all their efforts, the piece of evidence they needed to tie everything to Luthor still eluded them. However, they were not about to give up. Clark decided to take a more personal approach. He began to look into Luthor's life. That's when he started to hear rumors that Lois' death had been ordered by one of Luthor's enemies. Sources said someone who had worked for Lex was tired of being controlled and wanted to cause the man enough trouble to feel what it was like to be on the receiving end of another's wrath.
This new information thrilled Clark. If it could all be proven, Lex may even have to pay for Lois' death. She may not rest easier for it, but Clark sure would.
Lex was seething in anger. Someone had been checking up on him. His personal life was being questioned. He'd also been receiving threats. The notes informed him that his world was going to crumble around him. He'd laughed off the first couple, but when various incidents began taking place, he was rattled for the first time in a long time.
"Sir," Nigel said as he entered the room, "another account has disappeared."
Lex hung his head in anger. That was the last straw. He'd had five petty accounts disappear, two businesses had reported major financial inconsistencies, and he received constant calls from all over town from owners refusing to pay protection any longer because they'd been harassed. His world was in chaos and he didn't have any idea who was causing it. He'd thought at first it was that nosy reporter Kent, but a check told him the only thing the man was doing was checking into the destruction of that paper. The only thing he'd find there was a lot more questions than answers.
Lex looked up when Asabi came into the room. "What is it?"
"Sir, I am getting… how shall I say… vibes."
"What are you talking about, Asabi?"
"Part of your spirit, your essence… is in trouble. I have tried to tap into this current. I keep getting the same thing. Part of you is essentially dying."
Lex wanted to say something about the man's ramblings. He knew better. Asabi had proven to him time and again that the spirit was a powerful thing. He'd shown Lex how to tap into a part of himself that he never knew existed. If his spiritual advisor told him he was in trouble, he needed to find out what was causing it and why.
"Keep at it, Asabi. Let me know what I need to do."
"Yes." He bowed and left the room. He was worried about this development. Lex could be in danger of dying if this was too serious.
"About the account, sir," Nigel continued.
"Check into it. See if it can be traced."
"Yes sir." He turned and left his boss to his thoughts. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to start looking for alternative employment.
Martha and Jonathan had been unable to stay with Clark for more than a couple of days. He'd been grateful for their support. It had been a late night conversation with his mother that helped him realize that as much as he loved Lois, and always would, he had to go on. He knew a piece of him had died with her and he'd never be the same again, but so many people counted on him. So many relied on the things he could do. And his parents needed him just as much as he would always need Lois. Though he may not have her with him any more, no one could ever take her memory from him. As long as he lived, he'd have a little of Lois inside him.
For over two weeks he, Perry, Jimmy, and Jack had worked to expose Luthor. They felt they were close. A few days more and maybe the most evil man Clark had ever had the displeasure to meet would pay for all his sins. And if he could prove Lex was in any responsible for Lois' death, he'd drive the final nail in the coffin to bury Luthor for good.
He'd had to dance around his friends the past couple of weeks to keep them from discovering his identity. With a small break in the investigation, he went home to check his mail and take care of a few bills.
Clark read through the usual junk mail before opening a couple of bills. There was a letter from one of his old friends and another from his parents, just wanting to cheer him up a little. He smiled and moved to a postcard. The picture was of a beautiful beach with pure white sand and crystal blue water. He couldn't imagine who could be sending him a postcard. He flipped to read the words written on the other side.
"wish you were here. I wish you could see this place. I wish you were near. I wish I could touch your face. The weather's nice… It's paradise. It's summertime all year.
From someone you know who wanted to say hello. Wish you were here."
That threw Clark for a loop. There was no name, nothing distinctive about the handwriting. He had no idea who would have sent him such a note. He turned the card back over. The postmark was from a town in Kansas. That made the whole thing stranger. Why would someone send such a beautiful postcard from Kansas? He didn't recognize the name of the town and didn't know who could have sent it. Maybe it was from his parents. They were really worried about him.
He stared down at the photo on the card. A small smile began to creep across his face as the image sent his mind once again down the path toward thoughts of Lois. She would have loved to go to a place like the one on the paper.
Suddenly his head popped up. The whole time he'd been trying to link Lex to her death, he'd never once looked into what really happened. Maybe it was time to do that. He pushed up from the table, spun into the suit, and headed out to have a talk with Detective Henderson.
"Clark," Henderson said as he rose to greet the other man. "How are you?"
"I'm… okay," Clark told him. Truth was he didn't know how he was or if he'd ever be any better the rest of his life. "Listen, what can you tell me about Lois' death?"
Henderson rose and went around to shut his office door. "Kent, what I'm about to tell you can't leave this room, not now."
"Come on, Bill. You know me."
"Yeah. Anyway, Lane's death, I refuse to call her Luthor, and subsequent investigation have been… questionable."
"What do you mean?"
"She was positively identified less than eight hours after the remains were brought in. Gary Foster, who has conveniently been on vacation ever since, signed off the coroner's report. As soon as he gets back I intend to question him. An ID like that should have taken twenty four hours or more."
"Do you suspect foul play?"
"Her death and identification. I've heard talk about some pay-offs."
"Have you heard the rumors about her death being a warning to a certain philanthropist?"
"Yeah. I've got a couple of my trusted snitches tracking that lead. There's nothing I'd love more than to trace something back to the former 'Man of the Year'."
"Tell me about it. Bill, I saw Lois a couple of times after the wedding. I think he was abusing her."
Bill paced across the room for a moment before he turned back to Clark. "You know, the damn man might have even had her killed himself. Now that would really make my day."
"I'm going to talk to Ellen Lane. I was told Lois went to lunch with her right before her death."
Clark opened the door before turning back to Henderson. "I've been looking into some other things. I hope I can give you enough evidence to get some warrants by the end of the week."
"You do that. I'll buy the first round of drinks."
"You got it."
Clark sat on the sand, staring out at the setting sun. He'd flown to a beach, like the one on the postcard, after he'd been to talk to Ellen Lane. He was in desperate need of the solace a place like this provided.
Ellen had been distraught, barely able to talk about her last day with her daughter. She'd known right away there was something wrong with Lois. She had been unusually quiet, withdrawn, and unable or unwilling to make eye contact with her mother. Lois told Ellen she was a little under the weather but that was all. Something about her daughter told the older woman that there was much more to it than that. The young woman's eyes had been devoid of life.
Ellen had kept on at Lois, finally getting it out of her that Lois had learned she was pregnant. When questioned if Lex hadn't wanted it, Lois sidestepped it. She told her mother she wasn't sure how she felt about it. She'd only found out the day before. In other words, Lois hadn't told Lex.
Seeing Ellen couldn't take much more, Clark gave her his condolences and left. With this new knowledge he'd had to fly somewhere to think.
Lois had been pregnant… pregnant with Luthor's baby. The very thought made him sick to his stomach. He knew that was wrong. Lex was Lois' husband. She had every right to have his child. Yet, the selfish part of himself had always thought she'd have his baby, not another man's. And if that were true, that also meant Lois had… slept with him.
Of course she had, Clark thought. They were married for goodness sakes. They'd been married for weeks. Clark couldn't help but wonder if Lois had enjoyed being intimate with Luthor. Did he treat her with respect? Did he please the same way… the same way Clark would have if he'd ever gotten the chance?
Clark had dreamed of Lois coming to love him the way he loved her. He'd dreamed of making love to Lois. And yes, he'd dreamed of her having their children some day. But that was all just a dream now. Lois was gone. She'd died alone with a new life growing inside her. And as much as he wanted to think badly of that, the fact remained that the baby Lois carried was part of the beautiful woman Clark loved. Once again Clark mourned for all that would never be again, all that was lost forever.
Clark was wrenched from his sleep before dawn the following morning. Jimmy and Jack had the last piece of evidence they needed to link Luthor to Lexel investments. They'd all met Perry at police headquarters, making Bill Henderson a happy man. There was a warrant signed for the arrest of Lex Luthor less than three hours later. A team was assembled and sent to Lex Towers.
In Luthor's office, Asabi entered with news of what he'd learned about Luthor's spirit dying. "Sir, I have grave news."
"What is it, Asabi?"
"You are not in immediate spiritual trouble. However, a part of your spirit has passed."
"You have lost a child."
"All signs points to a pregnancy. I would say your wife had been with child when she passed."
Lex stared at the man. Lois had been pregnant. His future died with her. "Why is it you're feeling this now? Why not when she died?"
"Sometimes the essence refuses to let go. A child of yours would be strong willed, unable to give up without a fight. I'd say the spirit has finally moved on."
Lex was silent as he thought about that. Lois may not have been good for much, but having his child would have redeemed her in his eyes. Further thought on the subject was interrupted as the doors flew open and several police officers entered the room.
Bill Henderson stepped forward with some papers held out. "Luthor, you're under arrest… for arson, forgery, embezzlement, and numerous other crimes related to the destruction of the Daily Planet."
Lex had been so shocked to hear of the death of his child that what was happening now was barely registering. He protested only mildly as he was handcuffed and taken into custody.
Clark was standing at the front entrance to Lex Towers when they brought Lex out. The man stopped in front of Clark.
"I suppose I underestimated you."
"You forget, I learned from the best," Clark told him. He almost smiled in triumph when that statement registered with Luthor.
"She was my weakness. From beyond the grave she wounds me deeply."
"No more so than you wounded her while she was alive."
Lex laughed humorlessly. "She took my very soul. Did you know that? She was going to give me an heir."
"No. She was going to prove to the world that given the right circumstances, even a monster could produce something brilliant."
"I'll bet it just rubs you raw that she was in my bed."
"No more so than it must rub you to know she was in love with Superman." Clark had never been one to be vengeful, but Luthor seemed to bring out the worst in him. He'd said the words before he could stop them. When they hit the intended target, Clark almost smiled.
The officer pulled Lex toward the waiting cruiser. Finally Metropolis was going to be rid of the evil that was Lex Luthor.
Clark had gone to the police station to get a statement from Henderson on the fall of the House of Luthor. Perry had suggested that the young man write up the story and sell it to the major newspapers in the country so that it would hit the stands the next morning. He refused to do it without everyone's name on it that had helped him to get to this point. It only took him a few minutes that night to write the Pulitzer caliber material and sell it to several major papers. Clark only wished his by-line was appearing on the front page of the Planet.
Perry had told him Franklin Stern had been very interested in taking over the Planet and having it rebuilt. Stern was not very fond of Luthor and saw the opportunity as a chance to get something away from the man. Preparations were being made to go ahead with the reconstruction. With any luck, the Daily Planet would be back in business in a month or two.
It would be so much different going back to work without Lois. The Planet was her life. Things wouldn't be the same without her there every day. How would Clark cope without his partner?
Before he could get too deep into his sulking, the phone rang.
"Clark, honey, you need to come home."
"Mom? What's wrong? Is it Dad?"
"No. Just come home, son."
Clark heard the desperation in his mother's voice. He replaced the receiver and left in a blur. A few minutes later he was walking in the back door of his childhood home.
She came down the stairs, a mix of emotions playing across her face. "Clark, change and follow me."
"Mom?" She didn't stop as she picked up a tray full of food from the table. He did as he was told and walked up the steps behind his mother.
Martha stopped outside his old bedroom door. "Clark, you're about to get quite a shock. Prepare yourself."
Clark was more confused than ever. His mother opened the door and stepped in slowly. Clark hesitantly followed. When his eyes fell on the figure lying in his bed, he almost passed out.
"Lois?" he breathed.
The dark head turned to look at him. Her brown eyes were filled with tears. "Clark," she whispered.
He was frozen in place. His legs refused to move at his command to go to her. "How?"
Lois wiped her eyes and straightened on the bed. "Let me eat and I'll explain."
He could only nod. His mother sat her tray down and left the couple alone. After several moments spent staring at her, Clark managed to make it to the side of the bed. Of its own violation, his hand reached out to touch her.
"Oh God! You're real," he said softly.
"I'm so sorry," she said looking up at him as her eyes filled with tears again.
Clark lifted the tray from the bed and sat down to face her, then pulled her to his chest. The only other thing he could do was cry with her. They clung together in mutual comfort.
Lois was alive! Clark could feel his spirit starting to recharge. It was true. She had been what kept him going day after day. He hadn't realized until this moment that he had been slowly dying without her.
He pushed her back to look at her. "I don't know how this possible, but…"
"I staged it."
"I staged my death."
"It was the only way I could think of to get away…" Her voice trailed off and she turned her head.
Clark grasped her hands in his. "From Lex?" When she didn't answer, he lifted her hands to his mouth and kissed them softly.
Lois looked back at him. "You were right. He's a monster."
Clark's eyes were filled with compassion as he continued to look at her, afraid that if he looked away, she'd disappear. "Tell me."
"You don't want to hear…"
"I do, and I think you need to tell me."
Lois looked down at the large hands holding his. These were the hands that she thought she'd never see again. She'd come to Smallville when she picked herself up off the road where she'd jumped from her car. She'd planned the escape route after she learned about her impending pregnancy only the day before. She'd cried for hours, unable at first to contemplate having Lex's baby. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning she'd realized the baby was part of her. The child was blameless. No matter how it had been created, Lois owed it to herself and her unborn child to give it a chance to live. So she'd hastily staged her death and set it up to look like someone was sending a message to Lex.
She was crying again when she met Clark's eyes. "Clark, I was… pregnant."
"I lost it." Lois pulled one of her hands from his and pushed her hair out of her face. "Dr. Kelly told me that what I thought was food poisoning was actually my body fighting off the effects of some poison."
"Poison?" Clark's eyes widened in horror. "He was trying to kill you?"
"He'd already done that," she told him quietly.
"Lois, we have to call the police. He can't get away with this."
"I know." Lois let her eyes drift back to her hand in his. She'd missed this man more than she thought it possible to miss any living soul. She hadn't realized until now that he was the rock she depended on to get through her days.
"The poison… will you be okay now?"
"Yeah. I was really sick and I lost the baby…"
Clark placed his palm on her cheek. "I'm sorry." His thumb wiped away a tear that was spilling from her eye.
"I wasn't sure how I felt at first."
"Lois, no matter who the father was the baby was part of you."
"I know. I can't lie to you though. My first reaction was to abort. I just… couldn't force myself to."
Clark ran his fingers back through her hair, cupping the side of her head tenderly. "It's okay." He continued to play in her hair. "Is everything all right? Will you be able to have more children?"
"Yeah." She turned away from Clark. "If I ever want to have sex again," she said so quietly he had to use his super hearing.
"Lois, did he… did he…" Clark saw the answer in her body language and the fresh tears in her eyes. "Oh God." His hand stroked the side of her head. "Lois," he breathed, unable to say more. When his emotions got the best of him, he leaned over and placed his forehead against the side of hers. He kissed her temple before he leaned back up. The elation he felt when he saw her here had paled a little now.
"He was immediately different once we got into the limo on the way to the airport. I put him off until we got to Paris…" She wiped her cheek again. Clark simply held her other hand for comfort. "Things got better… until we came home from our honeymoon. I avoided him by working a lot the first week…" Lois drew her hand from his as she pulled her knees up to her chest. With her arms hugging her legs, she let her chin drop. "The first time was the end of that week. I'd worked late and when I got home, he was angry… really angry."
Clark reached forward to rub her arm lightly. He wanted to say she didn't have to tell him these things, but he also knew she needed to talk about it.
"He left the room and so did I. I was going to file charges against him."
"Is that when I saw you?"
"Yeah, only so did he." Lois looked back up at Clark. "He threatened to kill you. I had to go back."
"Oh Lois, you didn't have to go back…"
"I did. Clark, I couldn't let him kill you. I'd already done that."
Clark gasped slightly. She knew how bad he'd been hurt by her marriage and the end of their friendship.
This time Lois reached out to touch his cheek. "He told me I was his prize, his challenge. He wanted to break me." She let her hand slide down and rest on his arm. "I let him… until I found the cage."
Clark wasn't about to ask what cage. He knew which one. Did she know what it was? Why it was there?
"I started to realize then that the real me was still inside somewhere. I was alive and I was going to keep him from killing you… in either guise."
He closed his eyes briefly. She did know. How had she figured it out?
"You know," she told him with a smile. "If I'd found this out when we first met, I'd have been so angry with you. But now… now all I want is to make it through another day."
"Lois, I'm sorry I didn't tell you."
"No, Clark. There's nothing for you to be sorry for. I hurt you."
Clark had to drop his gaze from hers. As much as he wanted to deny that to help spare her feelings, he couldn't. Lois marrying Lex had nearly killed him.
Lois wiped her face once more, deciding to tell Clark the absolute truth. "When I saw you after the ceremony… Clark, I've been in Smallville since my 'death'. I came here because it's the only place I've been in the last year where I truly felt at home… Well, other than… your place."
His eyes begged her to be telling him the truth.
"I wanted so badly to tell you that I was alive so you wouldn't grieve for me. I was so humiliated, so ashamed of myself, there was no way I could see you." Lois lowered her head to her knees in remorse. "I probably wouldn't be here now if I hadn't passed out in Maize's diner. She recognized me and called your mother."
"Lois, you have nothing to be sorry or ashamed about. He did this, not you."
"I said yes."
Clark sighed loudly. There was no way arguing any points about this with her now would do any good. He rubbed both her arms lightly. "I'm glad you're here… with me."
"I am, too," she admitted. "But Lex, he has Kryptonite. He'll kill you if he finds me."
"No. He won't be able to hurt you again. He's in jail."
"We got enough evidence on him to put him away for a long time."
Lois listened in wide-eyed wonder as Clark filled her in on the investigation he and the others had conducted against Lex.
"I can't believe how gullible I was," she told him when he finished his story.
"Don't… Just don't do this to yourself."
"Clark…" She stopped as her defenses broke down.
"Come here." Clark slid closer and pulled her into a warm, comforting embrace. Unable to hold her the way he wanted, he pulled her into his lap. His hand stroked her back while he rocked her back and forth. "Shhh…" His other hand stroked her hair as he allowed her to let her pain out.
Lois was so relieved to be in Clark's arms again. She hadn't known if she'd ever be here. She'd only seen what she had when it was gone. And what she'd had was the most wonderful, caring friend in the world. But he was so much more than that. He'd told her he loved her. Sitting here in his arms, she could feel that love.
"Clark, don't let me go."
"Never, Lois. Never again." Clark tightened his grip around the woman that he loved. There were so many questions, so much to talk about, but not now. Now she needed to be held, reassured he'd keep her safe. They'd face everything else later… together.
Credits: I'd like to thank the wonderful writer(s) of the movie "Sleeping With the Enemy" starring Julia Roberts. I don't know the exact name(s), but that's where I got the inspiration for this story.
I also want to thank Skip Ewing, Bill Anderson, and Debbie Moore who wrote the beautiful words to a very touching song: Wish You Were Here. I borrowed a few lines from this song for the 'postcard' Clark received in the mail.
The writers of the last few episodes of L&C should be mentioned. As should all the writers. They had no idea they would some day create monsters (fanfic monsters like us).
Any other resemblance to other writing or work is coincidental.