By Tank Wilson <TankW1@aol.com> and Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: November 2003
Summary: A really evil Tank and Wendy Halloween story in which Lex wins, or so it seems…at least until Wendy makes a few fixes.
Authors' notes: This is a story of two halves. Tank decided that, in honour of Halloween, he had to write a really evil story in which… Lex wins. <g> And so Lex did win, spectacularly. But then along came Wendy, in response to reader pleas, and a sequel was born in which… well, Lex loses. <g> Both parts are combined in this story file here; how about telling us whether you preferred Tank's half alone, or the story in its 'fixed' version? <g>
WARNING: some violence in the first half.
All rights to recognisable characters belong to DC Comics and Warner Bros, and no infringement of copyright is intended by their use in this work of insanity. <g>
Lex Wins! A Really Evil Vignette in honor of Halloween. by Tank
WARNING — WARNING — WARNING — LEX WINS! — LEX WINS! — LEX WINS!
Lois Lane sat at her desk at the Daily Planet busily working on her latest page one story, and wondering where her partner had gotten off to this time. She wanted his input on the final touches she was putting on their story. It was ironic that, not too many months ago, she had been appalled at being teamed up with a 'hack from Nowheresville', and now she not only expected, but welcomed, his contributions. She gave a mental shrug. Lois was no fool. They made a good reporting team.
The ding of the elevator bell drew her attention to the spot where the doors disgorged their passengers. Could this be Clark, finally? Lois' eyes opened wider, in surprise, as she saw who stepped out into the bullpen.
It wasn't Clark, but it was someone she recognized. The gentleman made his way toward Lois like a man who knew his goal. Looking neither right nor left, he moved directly to her desk and stood waiting for her to acknowledge him.
Lois turned her chair so that she was facing him. "Nigel, what can I — er, what are you doing here?"
The elder Englishman inclined his head ever so slightly. "Ms. Lane, I've been sent by Mr. Luthor to escort you to his penthouse."
Lois looked shocked. "What? I can't leave now. I'm in the middle of something here." She shook her head. "Tell Lex I'll be over as soon as I can. I have a story to finish here."
Nigel allowed himself a slight sigh. "I'm afraid Mr. Luthor was quite insistent. He instructed me to tell you that it is very important that you come. He has something he wishes to show you." Nigel paused, like an actor doing it for dramatic effect. "I believe it has something to do with… Superman."
Lois quickly shut down her computer and was out of her chair in moments. "Just let me grab my coat out of the cloakroom. I'll meet you at the elevator."
"Lois, my love, do come in."
Lois entered the sumptuous penthouse of Lex Luthor and took his extended hand. She glanced around, as if expecting to see something. "Lex? What is this all about? Nigel said something about — Superman?"
Lex gave her a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Yes, well, we'll get to that shortly, but there is something that I want to show you."
Lois pulled back from his grasp and eyed the billionaire. "Lex, this doesn't have anything to do with my answer to your proposal, does it?"
A look of annoyance flashed on Lex's features, but was gone as quickly as it came. He pasted his insincere smile back firmly on his face. "I admit that I was — disappointed with your answer, but this isn't about that."
Lois nodded warily. "Well, good. I just want to reinforce that my refusal had nothing to do with you. It was all me. I just am not ready for marriage yet. My job is just too important to me right now. I don't feel I could give anyone the attention they would deserve in a marriage." Lois blushed. "Besides, you know about my parents. I'm still not that sure about marriage in general."
Lex patted Lois' hand. "Let's not discuss that now. As I said, I've something to show you." His grin was almost frightening. "I think you'll find it interesting."
Soon Lois found herself riding an elevator that she hadn't known existed, down toward some unknown destination. He couldn't be taking her back to his underground fortress again, could he? No; she shook off that thought. She'd already seen Lex's 'Ark', and she was certain that this was going to be something different. But what, she couldn't begin to guess.
The trip took longer than she expected, but finally the small, elegantly paneled car came to a stop. The doors parted silently, opening to a plushly carpeted hall. Lex extended his hand, indicating that Lois should disembark. Shrugging, Lois stepped out into the hall and waited for Lex to do likewise.
Lex led the way down the hall a short distance then stopped in front of a simple, unadorned door. "Lois, welcome to my trophy room." With a dramatic flourish, he swung the door open and allowed her to enter.
At first glance the room had the appearance of a well appointed den, or study. Highly polished walnut paneling graced the walls. Overstuffed fine leather furniture sat on a luxuriant carpet. A huge fireplace took up most of the far wall. It was an elegant marble edifice, but that wasn't what captured one's attention. It was what hung above the wall that drew Lois' shocked gaze. Hanging on the wall, mounted on carved wooden shields like some hunter's trophies, were what appeared to be the heads of three young women.
Lois gave Lex a troubled look. Whoever had done the work had done an amazing job. Lois recognized one of the women as Miranda, the woman behind the pheromone disaster of a few months ago, and the mounted head looked just like her.
Lois shuddered. "This is downright creepy, Lex. What is this?"
Lex sauntered over to the wall and pointed to the head of a pretty young girl with long blonde hair. "This is Melanie. She was my college sweetheart." He next indicated an attractive dark haired woman, who looked vaguely familiar to Lois. "This is my first wife, Ariana Carlin. And, of course, you recognize Miranda, who was one of my first business partners."
Ariana Carlin! Lois recognized the name now. She was a noted pop psychologist whose self-help column had been carried in papers around the country and had published several books until her sudden disappearance a year or so ago. She had been married to Lex?
"I don't understand, Lex," Lois said. "I appreciate that these three women were somehow special in your life, but to hang a representation of their heads on your wall like… like big game trophies seems sort of sick."
"Really?" Lex's voice held a note of disappointment. "I suppose it would be considered more conventional, and mundane, merely to have busts of these women, but there is something about having them mounted and hanging on the wall that seems to add a sporting nature to it." Lex shrugged. "I guess you might say that I consider them conquests, in a way."
Lois continued to shake her head in disbelief. "I have to say that the artist who fashioned these heads was, indeed, masterful. Still you have to admit that this is weird."
Lex fastened Lois with a steely gaze from his flint grey eyes. "Does that mean that you don't wish to join these lovely ladies?"
Lex grabbed Lois by the arm and literally dragged her from the room. "I think you need to see what I have in this next room."
Lois tried to pull herself away, but his grip was too tight. "Ow. Lex, you're hurting me."
The pair was soon back out in the hall and Lex opened a door a few feet away that Lois hadn't remembered seeing before. With a forceful shove, Lex propelled her into the room.
Tumbling to the floor, Lois didn't take in the spartan appointments of the room. Instead her attention was immediately drawn to the other occupant in there with her.
"Superman!" Lois rushed over to the superhero, who lay curled in a near-fetal position in the far corner. He didn't appear to hear her or see her. His breathing was ragged, and pain etched hard lines into his face as he moaned continually. He was nearly unconscious. Lois was frantic. She could see the reason for her hero's pain. Wrapped tightly around his waist was a chain which glowed in a cruel, yet familiar green. Kryptonite!
Suddenly she noticed Lex standing over her. She twisted her head around and looked up at him from her position crouching next to the Man of Steel. "Lex, what is the meaning of this?" she asked, tears streaming down her face. "You're killing him!"
Lex's smile was feral. "I imagine that could happen, but I'm not killing Superman, you are."
Lois swiped haphazardly at her tears with the back of one hand, her puzzlement clearly evident. "What?"
Lex gestured toward the other side of the sterile looking room. Lois gasped as she saw what could only be a guillotine ominously sitting there.
"You see, Lois, I do intend to have you join my little collection of 'special' women. But you were incorrect when you assumed that those heads were merely an artist's recreation."
Lois' eyes grew wide as she realized the import of what Luthor was saying. Her gaze was riveted on the sinister contraption as she spoke in a near whisper. "You're insane."
Lex chuckled. "Maybe so, but then I prefer to think of it as being eccentric. That is the providence of the rich." St. John entered the room. "Ah, Nigel, if you would be so good as to escort Ms. Lane to our little trophy maker."
Lois struggled but Nigel's grip was quite strong, even if he looked like an elderly butler. She soon found herself bent over the stock, and her head locked down.
Lois pushed down her fear and let her anger over Superman's treatment come to the fore. It steadied her voice. "So, what now? You just kill me? Chop off my head and mount it on the wall in the next room? Are you that sick and depraved?"
Lex strolled over and patted Lois on the cheek. "Oh no, my dear. I'm not going to 'chop off your head' as you so colorfully put it. Where is the fun in that?" Lex strolled back over to hover over the Man of Steel. "I'm going to offer you a choice."
"Yes." A big, toothy smile spread across Luthor's face. "I know you have feelings for this… alien. You can save his life."
Lois knew that Lex was up to something cruel, but she had to ask anyway. "How?"
Lex pointed to the side of the apparatus of doom which held her in check. "The blade release lever is right there. Within easy reach of your left hand. Here's the deal. You pull that lever and provide me with the prize I desire and Superman goes free. If you don't, we wait here until the vaunted Hero of Metropolis expires, then you will be released from the guillotine."
Lois' eyes blazed with anger and fear. "I don't believe you. If I kill myself, you won't let Superman go. He'll come back and hunt you down for what you did."
Lex shook his head. "No, he was surprised and never saw who it was who threw the kryptonite chain around him." Luthor gave the prone body a kick. "And, as you can see, he's been pretty much out of it this whole time. You do what I ask and I'll have Nigel dump Superman in some alley where he will eventually wake up without any real knowledge of who or what happened to him." Lex spread his hands in supplication. "I give you my word."
Lois frowned. "And if I choose to not pull the lever? Somehow I don't think you are going to let me go. I will go directly to the police and bring them back here."
Lex's smile returned. "True, so I'm afraid I would have to keep you around as an honored guest. You would be wanting for nothing, except your freedom, but you would be alive." Lex's grin widened. "You'd be alive to plot your vengeance and concoct endless escape attempts. It could be fun."
Lois couldn't believe the situation she was trapped in. She didn't really believe Lex, but what choice did she have? If she didn't pull the lever, she'd be his prisoner, but she'd be alive, and like he said, she could possibly find a way to eventually bring Lex down. But Superman would be dead. On the other hand, if she did pull the lever and allowed the heavy blade to chop her head off, she'd be dead, and Lex could just let Superman die anyway.
Lex made a show of checking his watch and placing his fingers against Superman's neck as if taking his pulse. "I'm afraid you'll have to make your decision soon, Lois. I don't think the Man of Steel has too much time left." He saw her biting her lip. "I know you don't trust me, and frankly, I don't blame you under the circumstances. But all I can give you is my word that I'll let Superman go. At least you can go to your eternal reward believing that you saved his life. The other choice is a guaranteed death for your hero." Lex sighed. "What'll be, Lois?"
Lois' thoughts were in a turmoil. She didn't know what to believe. She didn't know what to do. Her left hand crept slowly toward the lever.
Lex Luthor leaned back in the leather covered chair, puffing on an expensive Havana cigar. He was in his special private study. A blaze crackled in the large marble fireplace. His gaze drifted to the wall above the mantel. A smile found its way onto his face as he stared at the beautiful addition to his trophies. Two blondes, and now two brunettes, all very attractive women; it provided a nice balance.
Suddenly the door opened and St. John stepped into the room. Lex looked up expectantly. "Is it ready?" Nigel nodded. "Excellent, bring him in."
Nigel disappeared for a few moments, then returned pushing a large figure, dressed in blue and red spandex, which was fastened to a wide wooden base.
"Any problems?" Lex asked.
"No sir. The taxidermist who performed the service has been dealt with."
Lex nodded as he moved toward his other new prize. He thumped the brilliant red S with his forefinger. "I always said that I'd end up the winner in our little contest, Mister Super Hero." Lex glanced back at the head of Lois Lane adorning his wall. "I am a little disappointed in you, my dear. Your feelings for this alien creature must have scrambled your intelligence more than I thought. Imagine, thinking that I would actually pass up an opportunity to have my very own Man of Steel, stuffed and standing guard over my personal study." Lex took another puff of his cigar.
Lex dismissed Nigel with a jerk of his head. After his aide de camp left, he moved back to the big leather chair which faced the fire. Leaning back, he blew several smoke rings. "It's good to be the King."
(BOO! Happy Halloween)
~ And now… The Sequel! ~
Lex Loses! Or… On Second Thoughts, I Can Fix This After All!
Lois blinked, feeling as if she was trying to see her way through a thick, impenetrable mist.
"Lois!" the voice called again.
Somehow, suddenly, she could open her eyes. The mist cleared, and she was looking at…
"Clark?" Puzzled, she peered at him. "Clark, why are you wearing that strange Spandex thing…?"
"Long story," he said quickly, dismissively. "Lois, I need your help."
"What's happening?" she asked. Images were starting to shape in her head — strange, disjoined pictures and snatches of conversation…
"Lex had Superman prisoner!" she exclaimed suddenly, remembering. "He had a guillotine — he promised to let Superman go if I…" She broke off then as the remaining events came back to her. "But I pulled the lever! Why aren't I dead?"
"I hate to break it to you, Lois, but you are dead," Clark said wryly. "And so am I. Whatever he promised you, he didn't keep his word."
Lois frowned again. This didn't make sense. "You're… dead?"
"Lois, I'm Superman," Clark told her. "Or, at least, I was… until Luthor killed me. He used Kryptonite, judging by that green stuff over there."
"You're Sup…" Lois trailed off, thoroughly baffled by all these revelations. Clark was Superman? Superman was Clark? The man who'd been immobilised, rendered unconscious, by Kryptonite had been Clark?
But… wait a minute…
"If I'm dead — if *we're* dead — how can we be having this conversation?"
Clark shrugged. "It's October 31. Hallowe'en. Seems we're ghosts, and this is the one day in the year when we're allowed to materialise."
Lois collapsed back onto a barrel which lay behind her — she'd just realised that they were back in Luthor's basement — only to find that she fell right through it.
Clark was right. They were ghosts.
She took a deep breath, or what felt like a breath, anyway. This was a lot to come to terms with — but right now she was filled with anger.
Lex Luthor had killed them both. He had taken away what was most precious to them — their lives. And the chance to discover what they could have had together. For she'd remembered one other thing: that one of the main reasons she'd rejected Luthor's proposal was that she'd finally realised that she had feelings — tender feelings, maybe even loving feelings — for her best friend. For Clark.
"Okay," she said grimly, furiously. "If we're ghosts, I want to go and haunt Luthor. Scare him to death!"
But Clark shook his head. "I have to admit, the thought appeals to me. But we might only have today — until midnight tonight. Remember, tomorrow's All Souls Day. And I think a far better use of our time would be to find the evidence we need to prove Luthor guilty once and for all — not just for our murders, but for everything else he did, including destroying the Daily Planet. We can leave whatever we find for Inspector Henderson if we can't find Perry."
Lois nodded. "Sounds like an excellent idea."
"Good," Clark said. "After I woke up earlier, I did a quick scout around before I came back to look for you. Luthor's office is on the top floor — and now we can move through solid objects I don't even need to fly you up there. Ready to go?"
"In just a minute," Lois said. She picked herself up and moved over to Clark. "If we only have today, I don't want to waste any more time…"
"I don't understand."
"This," she said, raising herself on tip-toes and suddenly discovered that she could float. Sliding her arms around Clark's neck, she kissed him soundly.
A few hours later, the two ghosts sat surrounded by piles of paper. They had evidence concerning Luthor's role in the sabotage of the Messenger and associated murders, the heat- wave which had affected Metropolis almost a year before, the funding of the pheromone compound, assorted other murders, frauds, multiple incidents of blackmail, letters persuading the Planet shareholders to sell to Luthor, the Planet bombing and also documents relating to the insurance payout.
Luthor had a series of highly incriminating files, locked in a secret safe which would have been invisible to mortal eyes but which the ghosts of Lois and Clark found it easy to discover. There was one file for every person whose murder he had ordered, or which he'd carried out himself. The most recent files were concerning Lois and Superman, and included newspaper coverage of their disappearance and their ultimate supposed death.
Their task had been difficult at first owing to their inability to grasp solid objects, but they'd discovered after a while that if they concentrated hard enough they were able to do it. And by now it had become easy. They were even able to sit on Luthor's study chairs to complete their task — the man himself, they'd discovered, was out at a business meeting, followed by dinner.
"We've got him," Lois said triumphantly, placing the last document in place. "He'll never get out of jail once Henderson's through with this lot.
"Definitely," Clark said, but he almost had to feign delight.
He'd expected to feel a sense of satisfaction once they'd got the evidence they needed. He'd expected to feel that his need for revenge was fulfilled. Luthor might have succeeded in killing him and Lois, but he wouldn't get away with it.
But the problem was that Luthor *had* still won. Even if he went to prison for the rest of his life, he'd still managed to end *their* lives. They might have managed to put a stop to the man's criminal acts, but Luthor had the last laugh.
Lois Lane and Clark Kent were dead. No matter what else they did on this day when they were free to move around as ghosts, they would never have a life together. They would never even have lives separately — not any more.
"Clark," Lois said softly. He could hear a catch in her voice.
She sighed. "It's just so unfair! I — you know I've been so stupid. Ignoring you. Falling head over heels for Superman. Flirting with Lex Luthor — even if I did turn down his proposal. And all the time… If I'd had any sense at all, we could have been together, Clark. And now it's too late."
He looked up to see her wipe away a tear.
"It's not too late," he said, but he knew that he lied. "Come here."
Pulling her into his arms, he hugged her tightly. "I love you, Lois. I've always loved you. And right now I don't care whether it was Clark or Superman you loved most — I'm both of them anyway. And I *know* you loved Superman. You killed yourself to save me, didn't you?"
Lois nodded against his chest.
He tipped up her chin and kissed her with all the passion he'd kept submerged for as long as he'd known her.
"Hey! What are you guys doing? Can we help?"
Lois had been kissing Clark, idly wondering whether it was possible for ghosts to make love, when their enjoyment was suddenly interrupted by female voices.
She looked up, dragging her attention away from Clark — and saw Miranda and two other women, whose faces she recognised as Ariana Carlin and Melanie, hovering in the doorway. Her jaw dropped. Then she realised that they had to be ghosts too.
She quickly introduced Clark to them — as Superman, she decided, since he was wearing the Spandex. He thought for a moment, then came up with an idea.
"Luthor should be due back any minute. How about you three go and see if you can haunt him? He deserves the fright of his life. And Lois and I need to get these papers to the police."
"Sure," Ariana agreed. "That rat deserves everything he's got coming to him!"
Lois and Clark gathered up the documents between them and, bidding farewell to the other three victims of Luthor, headed out of the building. She realised, as they left, that she had no idea if the living could see or hear them — but they were about to find out.
At the police precinct, no-one even glanced at them as they entered. That answered her question, Lois thought; they were invisible.
"Henderson's office is here," Clark said. And Lois noticed a couple of people turning their heads, looking puzzled, and then getting on with whatever they were doing. They could be heard.
"Henderson!" she called, entering the small office.
The detective looked up, puzzled. He frowned, then turned back to the papers on his desk.
He looked up again, then scratched his head. "I could've sworn… Sounded exactly like Lois Lane…"
"It *is* Lois, you dumb excuse for a cop!" she exclaimed.
"Now *that* sounds exactly like Lois!" he muttered.
"Well, maybe you're not so dumb after all," she retorted. She gestured to Clark, and he dropped the papers on Henderson's desk. "Here," she said. "Take a look at these. There should be more than enough here to put Lex Luthor away for at least a couple of millennia."
Henderson looked at the pile of papers in disbelief. "Now where in the heck…"
"Bill," Clark said firmly. "Believe it or not, but Lois and I are here. We're ghosts. Lex Luthor killed us both. And we've come to make sure that he pays for it."
Henderson inhaled sharply and sat back in his chair in a sudden movement. "Superman?"
"Yes," Clark said, deepening his voice, Lois noticed. "He killed us both back in May. It's all documented in those files — he kept records of everything."
"Give me an hour or so to look through this stuff, and I promise you I'll have a warrant out for his arrest. He'll be in custody before morning."
Clark nodded. "We don't have that long — my guess is we'll disappear again at midnight. But thanks."
"Thank you," Henderson said emphatically. "And… uh… you guys are missed, you know? I even miss you, Lane," he added dryly.
"Guess I definitely must be dead," Lois said to Clark. "I seem to remember Henderson telling me a couple of years ago that he'd admit to caring about me over my dead body…"
Henderson looked straight at her, and she wondered whether he could actually see her now. "Lois, there's not a reporter in the city who even comes close to you when it comes to reporting crime and policing critically and fairly — let alone getting to the bottom of cases which are defeating the cops. Yeah, I miss you. And that partner of yours — whatever happened to him?"
Unable to answer, Lois just shrugged.
"Yeah, well," Henderson continued. "The Planet's certainly not the same without you two."
"The Planet?" Clark asked incredulously. "That was destroyed -"
"Perry White persuaded Franklin Stern to put together a financial package and buy the premises and rights to the name from the paper's insurers. They reopened last August," Henderson explained.
"That's great," Lois said softly. "Metropolis just wasn't the same without the Planet. Look, Henderson," she added, "You make sure you give Perry the exclusive on Luthor's arrest, you hear?"
The inspector nodded. "I'll do that. I won't tell him about you being here, though — he'll never believe me."
"I guess not," she said quietly, regretfully, then allowed Clark to lead her out of the room.
They'd done what they had to do, and it was almost ten- thirty. If they only had an hour and a half left, Clark wanted to spend it with Lois. But he didn't know where they could go. Both of their apartments were, no doubt, occupied by new tenants.
He didn't particularly want to go back to Luthor's building. And then he had a thought: they could go to the Planet. So he wrapped his arm around Lois's shoulder and hurried her onwards.
They had to pass close by Luthor's headquarters. And as they did, a terrified voice became audible.
"No! Go away! Leave me alone!"
And women's voices shouted in response, "Murderer!"
"You deserve everything you get!"
"I'll haunt you for all eternity!"
Clark felt Lois stiffen. Then, suddenly, she broke from his grasp and shot upwards. He could only watch as she joined the other three women tormenting Luthor.
"You robbed me of the best years of my life!" Lois screamed. "You killed the man I love! Bastard!"
They had chased Luthor out onto the balcony of his penthouse. He was backing away, terrified, as his tormentors hovered around him, screaming and moaning.
"No!" he yelled. "Go away! Stop it! Nigel! Help!"
And then, suddenly, he backed away one step too far.
With a loud scream, he tumbled backwards off the balcony and tumbled, flailing, towards the ground.
Instinct compelled Clark to dart upwards, his arms reaching out to save his arch-enemy. But he could only stare in horror as Luthor fell straight through him, like a plane passing through a cloud.
In a matter of seconds, it was all over. Lex Luthor was dead.
"I can't be sorry that he's dead, you know?" Lois said to Clark as they carried on down the street, his arm about her shoulders again.
"I know," he said wryly. "If anyone deserved to die…"
"But that still doesn't help us," she said sadly. "We've got — what? About an hour together before we disappear again? And with no guarantee that we'll even see each other ever again."
"I know." His voice was heavy. "Lois, I want you to know that even if this is the last time we see each other, I will love you for all eternity."
"And I you," she promised, tears now threatening. "Clark, I'm so sorry that I was so stupid — that I never paid you any attention -"
"Wait!" he exclaimed, interrupting her. He'd stopped at a dispenser containing copies of that day's Daily Planet. "What the…?"
She looked at him questioningly. With a deft movement, he managed to open the box and remove a copy of the paper. The headline read Dead Gangsters Cloned By Scientist.
"What -?" she began, but Clark hushed her. He was feverishly scanning the front-page story, flicking through the paper to find the inside page where it continued. Then he dropped the paper back on top of the box and seized her hand, an excited look on his face.
"Lois! We've got a chance after all! This scientist — Hamilton — the article says that it's suspected that he managed to resurrect some gangsters from the 1920s. Bonnie and Clyde and Al Capone. And the police think he did it by using their DNA!"
"So?" Lois asked, frowning.
"Well, if he can use DNA that's eight decades old to bring Al Capone back to life, why can't he use *our* DNA to resurrect us?" Clark demanded, his face alight.
Hope filled Lois's heart. To be alive again. To be working at the Daily Planet once more, with Clark as her partner. To be with Clark — to be his friend, his girlfriend and even his lover.
To be able to grow old with the man she loved.
"What are we waiting for?" she exclaimed. "Let's get that DNA and find Hamilton!"
Clark hugged her fiercely. "I can't wait. This *has* to work!"
She nodded, then kissed Clark again. "Luthor is dead. Long live Lane and Kent!"