To See the Future

By Wendy Richards, Kaethel and YC

Rated: PG13

Submitted: December 2002

Summary: As the Nightfall Asteroid falls to Earth, Lois needs to make a decision on an offer from Lex Luthor.

By Wendy Richards <>, Kaethel <> and YC

Authors' Notes:

This story was written for our friend Elena on her birthday. Now, Elena has a reputation for being fond of, shall we say, evil premises — and a strongly-expressed yearning for evil endings, too! So, for her birthday, we felt that we had to come up with something appropriate. And this is the result. Wendy started it off, Kaethel made it more evil still, and then once it fell into YC's hands all hope was lost. <g> Seriously, while we did our best to take Elena's preferences into account, we also kept in mind the rest of FoLCdom (ie, we wanted to survive <g>) and so we can assure you that this story *does* have a happy ending. However, for anyone who might share Elena's enthusiasm for things evil, we've added the Special Elena- Ending at the end of the file. <g> We would like to thank our Archive GE, Kath Roden, very much for her quick and helpful editing of the story.

All rights to the characters belong to DC Comics and Warner Bros; no infringement of copyright is intended by their use in this work of (very strange) fiction.

~ Wendy, Helene and YC


Lois followed Lex along the sterile-looking underground passages, wincing at the over-bright fluorescent lighting and trying to work out what on earth he'd brought her here for. When he'd called her asking her to meet him, she'd hoped that perhaps he'd have some news about Superman, that his extensive network of contacts might have turned up something. He was a very wealthy man, and with the survival of the world at stake, a philanthropist such as him would be bound to put his resources at the disposal of the planet.

But instead, he'd brought her to the bowels of the LexCorp building, revealing to her an incredible network of passageways, containing offices and, it seemed, even dormitories. A genuine bunker. Far below ground level and, she guessed, guaranteed to survive a nuclear holocaust… and even the Nightfall asteroid.

So, what was this all about?

Lex paused and smiled at her, his expression telling her that he expected her to be full of rapt admiration. "You are standing precisely five hundred metres below Metropolis' street level. Surrounded by sixteen inch reinforced concrete walls, originally designed to survive a nuclear attack." He paused expectantly.

Because she really didn't know what to say, Lois confined herself to one question. "A bunker?"

He gave her a faint, superior smile in response. "I prefer to think of it as an…Ark. We have room for two 'hundred people. Supplies to last three years. Tools and implements for farming and manufacture when we re-emerge."

Definitely a bunker, despite Lex's pretensions, Lois thought. But this sounded like an incredible survival plan. Was he planning to invite the city's leaders here? Essential tradespeople? Opinion-formers?

"So, even if the world dies, you live?" she said, a rhetorical question.

Lex again smiled, once more clearly expecting an admiring response. "The survival of a species does not depend on the survival of all its members," he pointed out. "Indeed, were the dinosaurs possessed of a somewhat larger brain, they, too, might have escaped their fate. Fortunately for us, they did not, and now, the next chance is ours."

This was advance planning on a major scale, though Lois was very sure that Lex hadn't achieved it in the day or so since Nightfall had been spotted. She was still wondering why he was showing it to her, though. Unless it was the obvious…

"Do you want me to… write about this?" she hazarded. It would be a great story. Hope rising from the ashes of desperation… a guarantee that life would continue after Nightfall. The city would rise again, and become great once more.

But he shook his head. "No, no. I seek no publicity," he said, frowning. "In fact, " he added, "considering the circumstances, advertising the existence of this would seem to be rather cruel."

Well, he probably had a point there, Lois agreed. But at the same time… Puzzled, she asked, "Then why am I here?"

Lex led the way a little further down the corridor, pausing outside yet another anonymous white door, which he unlocked and opened. He went in, then stepped aside so that she could follow him. She moved forward… and then stopped dead, unable to believe what she was seeing.

The interior looked familiar… very familiar. Right down to the pale carpet, the twin love-seats, the goldfish in the tank, the large dresser in which, she could almost let herself believe, three Kerth awards were stored.

It was her apartment.

Exactly the same. Identical in every respect.

It was *her* apartment.

But what…?

Lois turned to Lex, still trying to process what she was seeing. "This is… my apartment," she said slowly, flatly.

"Well, at least a reasonable facsimile thereof," Lex said with a self-satisfied smile. "I hope you like it."

Like it?

"What's not to like?" she replied, still completely mystified. "I decorated it! But…" She swallowed, looking around the room again, noting that even the windows looked remarkably real given that they were dozens of feet below ground level. "I am a little confused."

Lex came closer to her. "I'm offering you a chance, Lois," he said warmly. "To be a passenger on this Ark. To be my special guest on Mankind's next great adventure."

He was offering her… a chance to live. A chance to cheat death courtesy of the Nightfall asteroid. A chance to report on life post-Nightfall. To be there in a time which, she thought, could almost be like the dawn of time. Wouldn't that be an amazing thing to write about?

As she was taking in his offer, Lex moved to the window, throwing it open. To Lois's amazement, the exterior looked as real as it had through the glass. The sun — or whatever it was — shone gloriously. Well, no-one would die from sunlight deprivation, she thought semi-hysterically.

"It's an illusion, of course," Lex explained. "But, nonetheless, better than a wall. To help you remember the way things were, how they might be again."

It was incredible… really unbelievable.

"But… why me, Lex?" she asked, uncomprehending.

He gave her a long, lingering look. "Because I care," he told her softly, meaningfully. "And, I must admit," he continued, "because three years will be a long time without… companionship."

Ah. Now she understood. Lex wanted a mistress… a lover. A woman to be his partner and, if she knew him as well as she thought, perhaps his friend. And, for some bizarre reason, he'd chosen her.

He was offering her life. Admittedly, with strings attached… but were the strings really that distasteful?

If she accepted, she would be agreeing to be Lex's bed partner. Committing herself to having sex with him. Sex, admittedly, wasn't really one of her favourite activities, but on the other hand she couldn't imagine Lex being a poor lover.

He'd probably be… exciting. Dashing. Maybe even romantic, if you didn't mind a touch of superiority with it. He'd expect her to be admiring of his technique, in the same way as he expected her to admire a fine wine or one of the Old Masters he had hanging in his private apartments.

Could she cope with these strings? Was the price of staying alive worth paying?

But she was being defeatist, she told herself. Superman would turn up. And then he'd go and smash the asteroid and save the world. All would be well. There'd be no need for this… half-life in a bunker.

"Lex, I don't know," she said, frowning.

He smiled and indicated the room with his hand. "Think about it. I'll await your decision."

Lois sank into one of the love-seats as he exited, closing the door behind him. A chance to live. To escape a horrible death in the equivalent of a nuclear holocaust in a couple of days. To be there when the world was safe for human habitation once more. To be there right at the new dawn, and to report on it.

To be the partner — maybe, in time, the wife — of Lex Luthor, who would almost certainly be one of the most powerful and influential people in the new dawn.

To leave all her friends behind… Perry, Clark, Jimmy… her family, everyone she knew. Abandoning them to certain death, while she survived in a place she could tell none of them about.

To be *alive*.

And, really, she liked Lex. He was handsome, and entertaining and intelligent. He was excellent company. And when he'd kissed her, it had been pleasant.

But could she really abandon everything — everyone — she knew? Could she walk away from it all to hide, like a coward, down here?

Could she reject his offer, and resign herself to dying, probably painfully, within a matter of days?

Suddenly she got to her feet and made for the door. Lex, she saw once she opened it, was a few feet away, gazing at one of the paintings which dotted the walls, breaking up the sterile whiteness of the decor.

"Lex," she called, attracting his attention.

He turned and gave her another half-smile, his hands behind his back. "May I send someone to pack your personal belongings?"

It was decision-time. And, strangely, it wasn't even difficult. Sure, there were things she'd regret, some very deeply indeed, but overall she knew that she was doing the right thing.

She smiled at him. "Yes, Lex. I'll come and live with you in your Ark."


Without thinking about it, Clark Kent — since he'd been told this was his name — found himself in an area of Metropolis that looked vaguely familiar, even though it was a couple of miles to the north of Clinton Street. He'd been here before, and on a number of times. He refused to dwell too much on the thought and let his steps carry him along the quiet length of Carter Avenue. Something made him pause at the bottom of a flight of stairs, and he looked up at the darkened archway of the front door, frowning.

He was grasping at fleeting memories, he knew. And he was equally aware that it was pointless to try and remember when the world was coming to an end. In fact, he should probably consider himself lucky not to know what he would be losing in a few hours' time.

Today at the Planet, he'd taken a moment to observe the people around him. They were his colleagues; some of them might even be close friends of his, and… and Cat claimed to be more than that. Despair had seemed to taint all their actions and words. Even Lois, who appeared to him as one of the strongest characters in the newsroom, had displayed weariness and a certain acceptance of the current events without the fire and energy that he was sure was part of her. Who could blame her, though? She wasn't immune to the fear that had taken hold of the whole city at the prospect of a certain death.

And she was holding on far better than he would expect under such circumstances. She'd only seemed to weaken once, a few hours earlier, when she'd accompanied him back to his apartment. She'd been almost boisterous at first, giving him a tour of his own place in hopes it might sparkle a memory. But when she'd shown him a picture of his parents, something in her eyes had faltered, and the urge to take her in his arms had grown stronger.

He was attracted to her. In fact, he'd even wondered for a moment if she wasn't concealing the truth of their relationship from him. What could it achieve, though? If they were a couple, why would she want to spend their last night apart and turn away from the comfort they could give each other?

He shook his head and shoved his hands into his pockets, throwing another glance at the darkened door at the top of the stairs. Whatever that place was to him, his thoughts were too disjointed to find a meaning for it now.

Just as he was about to turn away and go home, his caught sight of a fluttering movement a few feet ahead, and he froze, mesmerised, as Lois Lane stepped out of the shadows. She was fishing for something in her purse and hadn't seen him, and the part of him that wanted to retreat to a darkened corner battled with his need to talk to her again.

Before he could reach a decision, she raised her head, and a startled gasp escaped her mouth. "Clark!" Then she frowned, her air turning disapproving and wary. "What are you doing here?"

"Sorry," he apologised meekly. "I didn't mean to startle you. I needed the fresh air so I decided a walk might be in order. What are *you* doing here?"

Her eyes narrowed then shifted to the door that had held his attention earlier. "I live here."

Ah. So that explained it. No wonder he'd felt a strange sense of familiarity in these surroundings; Lois had said they were close friends, so they probably spent quite some time together outside work, at each other's apartment.

She brushed past him and climbed up the stairs and into the hall. He followed her, intent on seeing her home safely… and maybe, just maybe, wishing she'd let him spend a few hours in her company. What had seemed like a boyish whim earlier was becoming irrepressible, and he clung to the hope that she would understand. Alone at his apartment, bits and pieces of his life before his amnesia taunted him but still stayed out of his reach, much to his frustration. Being with her always seemed to soothe him, though. Maybe they could have coffee together and talk for a little while; maybe it would help him forget the helplessness he felt at not knowing what he was going to lose.

But she turned towards him as he stepped into the elevator with him, and her expression wasn't the friendly smile he'd hoped for. "What do you think you're doing?"

For a moment, he was at a loss for words. But the doors of the lift slid closed, and he was trapped in here with her. Or maybe it was she who was trapped with him, if her annoyed tone of voice was anything to go by. He couldn't exactly blame her, though. Whatever had pushed him to muscle in on her like this, without so much as asking her if she would welcome his company?

He sighed audibly and turned a contrite face towards her. "I just want to see you safely home," he lied, shutting down the part of his mind that called him a coward.

She scrutinised him for a few seconds, as if searching for the truth on his face, and he was afraid that his lack of composure might betray him. But something suddenly changed in her eyes; the annoyance disappeared in favour of contrition, though he couldn't think why. He should be the one embarrassed, yet she was looking down and he could see the faint trace of a blush on her face. "Thank you," she said simply, and her remote attitude informed him that it was best not to add anything on the matter.

She let him in wordlessly and gestured for him to sit as she busied herself around the kitchen. Something was very wrong, and he could see her struggling for composure as she busied herself with coffee mugs. Probably anxiety at the upcoming disaster, he assumed. She kept a brave face most of the time but even a strong woman like Lois Lane couldn't constantly ignore her impending fate.

A few minutes later, as she sat on the couch next to him and thrust a hot mug of coffee into his hands, he finally asked the question that had burnt his lips since he'd seen her step out of the shadows. "I know this is probably not any of my business," he started carefully, "but did you just get back from the Planet?"

"No… yes. Yes, I did."

"Everything wrapped up for tomorrow's edition then?"

She sighed wearily. "Guess so. When I left, Perry was finishing his editorial."

"With Alice still in Des Moines, I can understand."

She smiled a little, in that fashion that told him he'd just said something that should be pretty obvious, did he remember his life. "I think that even if Alice had been able to catch a flight back to Metropolis, Perry would still have spent the night at the Planet. The paper is his life."

Clark fought the urge to comment. "What about you?"

She looked startled again. "What about me?"

"The Planet seems to mean a great deal to you as well."

Some of the tension eased off her face. "Oh, it does. In fact I should probably have stayed with Perry tonight."

"Would I have wanted to stay in the newsroom, too?"

She pondered his question for a moment before she replied, and there was an earnestness in her voice that drew his full attention to her. "I'm not sure. One of the differences between us is that you seem quite happy to go home at night."

Surprising, when he'd been running away from that very same 'home' this evening. But then there were so many things he didn't know about himself, and she was his only link back to his life as it was before. When he'd spoken to other people at the Planet, he'd felt as if he were talking to strangers. But not with Lois. Lois had always been a friend. Lois was someone he could trust, and this knowledge warmed his heart.

There was a knock on the door, and Lois jumped to her feet. She darted a worried glance at him, as if embarrassed to have him around… It suddenly dawned on him that he had never thought to ask if she was living alone. In his determination to figure out the state of their relationship to each other, he'd forgotten that there might be a significant someone in Lois's life. Even her comment about not being eager to go home at night didn't mean she wasn't seeing someone.

And that someone might well be the person who'd just knocked on her door…

In the middle of the night.

To find her with him.

He grimaced. Yes, he could see how that would embarrass her.

He got to his feet and watched her unbolt the door with nervous fingers. The man on the other side wasn't what Clark had expected to see. He seemed twice as old as Lois was, and a white beard framed his face.

"Good evening, Nigel." She seemed hesitant to let the man in, and Clark saw her sneak a careful glance back towards him.

"Mr Luthor sent me to collect your belongings," the man said in an accent that Clark had only ever heard in London.

Her belongings? Whatever did he want to do with her belongings?

Luthor? Now what about him? He'd heard the name from Lois this afternoon and she'd hinted at his lack of appreciation of the man. Somehow, this hadn't surprised him. The name alone sent chills down his spine for some reason.

"I didn't expect you to be here so soon," Lois protested, but still opened the door for her… boyfriend?… to come in. No, that man couldn't be her boyfriend. Even without focusing on the age difference, Lois had never seriously considered him as more than an occasional date.

"We don't have a lot of time," Nigel explained in a bored tone. "We might as well take you to the Ar -" He trailed off and Clark felt the heavy weight of an inquisitive gaze inspect him from head to toe. Then the man nodded a cold greeting. "Mr Kent." He then turned back to Lois, and for the first time he seemed to display an emotion: annoyance. "You do know that Mr Luthor expects you and you only, don't you?"

"Yes. Of course. Mr Kent just… happened to drop by. He was about to leave."

Was he really? Anger briefly flashed through him, then he forced himself to calm down and analyse the situation in a rational manner. It was obvious that Nigel, whoever he was, wasn't her boyfriend. But it was equally obvious that she was getting ready to spend her last night with a man that, even through his amnesia, Clark despised.

A man he'd only ever heard referred to with way too much deference for him to deserve it.

A man who seemed to mean a lot to Lois, but whom he thoroughly hated at the moment.

Lex Luthor.


At Ms Lane's promise of a quick departure by her work colleague, Nigel flicked another glance over at Kent. He'd heard, through his sources, that the man had recently been involved in a minor accident which had left him without any memories of his past life. Interesting; the package on the outside looked the same, but everything had changed within, a curious and intriguing situation.

Nigel had disregarded Kent up until this point. His observations during the brief encounters he'd had with the man, and the information he'd gleaned elsewhere, had led him to the conclusion that Kent was besotted with his partner, Ms Lane. Such a pity. Kent wasn't Nigel's type, but he was certainly very attractive and one could easily tell that Kent's somewhat ill-fitting clothes hid a rather splendid body beneath.

And now that body was controlled by a mind with very little sense of self. A blank canvas, in fact.

He nodded at Kent. "Goodbye," he said, reflecting that the single word held a double meaning on this strange day. A goodbye today was a final farewell, the last word ever spoken to this particular individual. Was there a tinge of regret in his voice?

Yes, he decided. Luthor had guaranteed Nigel a place in the bunker, but there was little chance that Nigel would be granted any kind of companion. Moreover, the other inhabitants of the bunker were unlikely to fit the profile of Nigel's usual nocturnal assignations. Yet standing before him was an attractive man who could be readily moulded, if Nigel handled things with a little subtlety and more than a little subversion. More than that, Kent might be relatively easy to persuade into the bunker, considering he was Ms Lane's work colleague. Whilst Kent might not recall his previous romantic attachment to her — and that was to Nigel's advantage, of course — Kent might want to remain with his professional partner; might even consider it unfair that she be the only one to be offered the chance for life.

What if Kent couldn't be turned? Well, if necessary, it would be a reasonably simple matter to kill him within the confines of the bunker, and there were plenty of plausible reasons why a person might not survive the harsh and demanding environment of a survival situation. Ms Lane might present a problem in the event of Kent's unexpected death, but Luthor would take care of that.

The question, therefore, was how to include Kent in the arrangements for the bunker. He would have to give that some thought. If only he didn't have to trouble himself with the tiresome task of transferring the Lane woman's belongings from her apartment to the Ark. Really, that was a job for a menial, Nigel considered. Not for Lex Luthor's right-hand man.

"Are you ready to go, Miss Lane?" he asked coolly. The sooner she was delivered to the Ark, the sooner he could set out to track down — and entice — the delicious Mr Kent.


Lois inhaled deeply before giving Nigel permission to begin placing her belongings into boxes and bags for her removal to Lex's Ark. This was a huge step. She was committing herself to at least three years in Lex Luthor's company… as his 'companion'. The lover, perhaps more, of a man she barely knew.

She didn't know Lex very well at all. Oh, she knew the public figure of Lex Luthor: the successful billionaire philanthropist, captain of industry and Citizen of the Year three years running. She admired him for his achievements; he had obviously been ambitious from a very young age and had let nothing stand in his way — yet she was sure he hadn't compromised his principles. If he had, she'd have heard about it. She'd looked up every single piece of information available about the guy when she'd been researching him a few months earlier — even through non- orthodox channels — and he'd come through squeaky clean.

That was admirable. Very admirable. And added to that, he was definitely attractive. And an interesting conversationalist. And, if a new world was going to rise from the ashes of this one, it could do worse than have Lex Luthor at its head.

Even still, he was more or less a stranger to her, a stranger to whom she'd committed herself for the foreseeable future. And that was scary. Even with the prospect of certain death as the only alternative.

He was also a stranger who, it appeared, was very familiar with intimate details of her life. After all, he'd created a perfect facsimile of her apartment. Wasn't that just slightly creepy? He had to have been spying on her, to some degree. But on the other hand, wouldn't living in the Ark in what was to all intents and purposes her own apartment be far more comfortable than being in some strange place, somewhere provided for her by some anonymous designer? Wasn't it actually kind of thoughtful of Lex to ensure that she'd feel at home?

It still felt a bit creepy, she had to admit.

For an instant, as Clark's footsteps echoed down the hall, Lois found herself wondering whether it might not have been better, after all, to turn Lex down. To stay, even though it did mean death. To be with her friends, to carry on working at the Planet and report the very last days of life on this planet. To die together with her friends.

To die?

But she didn't want to die!

But she didn't want to turn her back on her friends either. Especially Clark. He was so lost right now. He didn't remember anything about his life, so he had no idea of what he was missing. *He'd* die alone, even if he was among friends; even if his parents managed to make it to Metropolis. Because he didn't remember anyone.

Except her.

It was clear that he was remembering some sort of connection to her. Just what that was she had no idea… but she could tell that he regarded her as important to him right now. If she left, who would he turn to? Who would give him any thought in the midst of all this chaos? Who would even bother to try to help him regain his memory?

But she'd made her decision, and she wouldn't allow herself to regret it. She was going to live with Lex. She was going to stay alive.


Unable to leave, Clark had waited just across the road from Lois's apartment. He knew he was torturing himself, that all he would see was Lois leaving with that man who was now in her apartment — the one she'd called Nigel. Leaving to go and spend the night with Lex Luthor.

How he hated that name. Hated that *man* — he was sure of it, despite having no real reason to understand it. It was something instinctive, he thought. Perhaps jealousy over Lois? Or maybe it was a tendril of lost self-knowledge filtering through the thick mist which was all that remained of his memory at the moment.

He didn't like Lex Luthor. And he hated the thought of Lois spending so much as a second of her time with him.

His attention was caught by movement from Lois's building. The man called Nigel was emerging… and he was carrying something. A large box. And Lois was following him, carrying a suitcase. They put their loads into the limousine which stood outside the building, then turned to go back inside. Words trickled across the street to Clark…

"Another three trips should do it. I know it's a lot, but all this stuff is important to me. I don't want to lose it."

"Mr Luthor's instructions were that you were to bring whatever you wish, Miss Lane. After all, you will be there for quite a long time." The older man's voice was bored, Clark thought. That was someone who thought his current task was beneath him.

But… what was going on? They were taking Lois's belongings? She was going somewhere to stay? Not just overnight? And what did this Nigel mean about her being there for a very long time? How was that possible? Once the Nightfall asteroid hit — which would be within a couple of days — everyone was going to die. Something about this didn't make sense.

He waited in the shadows until Lois climbed into the passenger seat of Nigel's car. Her companion started the engine immediately and began to drive off. Understanding only that he had to know where Lois was going, Clark started to follow, breaking into a run as the car speeded up.

Somehow — he had no idea how — he seemed able to increase his pace. Landmarks shot past at dizzying speed as he maintained a consistent distance between himself and the limousine. Had he been an athlete in his past? But, he remembered then, hadn't Lois shown him his college football, which he would have been given for excellent performance in the field. So he must just be very fit. Which was a darned good thing…

The limo finally came to a halt in front of the LexCorp building, which Clark realised he should have expected. LexCorp — Lex Luthor. Luthor himself came out to meet the car, holding his hands out towards Lois as she emerged.

"Lois! My dear. I'm so glad that you're here. You won't regret this," he said, his voice sounding smarmy and untrustworthy to Clark's ears.

"I hope not, Lex," Lois replied; Clark thought that her smile was somewhat shaky.

"Nigel will take your things down to the Ark," Luthor added, slipping his arm around Lois's shoulders and drawing her away from the car. It seemed to Clark as if the man might have lowered his voice, and yet he could still hear the conversation clearly. "By the time we go down, everything will be arranged just as you like it. For now, come and have a drink; dinner will be served shortly in the penthouse."

As Clark continued watching, Luthor leaned towards Lois and kissed her. He actually put his mouth over hers, holding her close to him at the same time. Clark felt jealous fury bubble up inside him at the man's audacity…

… although, since Lois made no effort to pull away, maybe this was normal? Maybe Lois had been concealing the true nature of her relationship with Luthor. Maybe she hadn't wanted anyone at the Planet to know that he was her boyfriend.

Pain stabbed at Clark's heart as he counted more than twenty seconds before Luthor finally pulled back. Then the two of them disappeared into the building.

Clark retreated back around the corner, trying to assimilate all he'd just seen and heard. Lois was moving in with Luthor; that much was clear. From the way she and Nigel had been talking, it sounded as if they expected to survive Nightfall. And Luthor had said 'down'; that seemed to make sense. Luthor had obviously built some sort of underground survival shelter. Well, he was wealthy enough to do it, but — surprise, surprise — his apparent philanthropy didn't extend to offering a chance at life to the general public. Just to selected friends, it seemed.

And Lois was leaving the Planet, abandoning all her friends, to save her own life.

That hurt, he realised — more than he might have expected. In the brief time he'd known her, she'd made a strong impression on him as the type of person who would stand by her friends through thick and thin. You'd have a difficult time winning her trust, he thought, but once you'd gained it, she wouldn't let you down. Yet here she was, turning her back on her friends without so much as a brief farewell.

But could he blame her? The prospect of dying wasn't something he looked forward to with any equanimity either. But she was leaving her friends; she was disappearing secretly without telling anyone where she was going. If he hadn't followed her, he'd never have known where she was.

She was the only person who made any sense to him right now… and she was with another man. She was walking out on him to hide away even before Nightfall struck. He could have at least had two more days with her… but she was leaving. Correction: she'd left.

He'd lost her. And, while all the signs were telling him that he'd never had her in the first place, something deep inside him was telling him that wasn't true — that there had been something special between them. He longed to know what that was, and whether there was any chance of finding it again. But if she was going off with this Lex Luthor guy, there'd be no opportunity to do that. Ever.

He wasn't going to admit defeat. Not when so much was at stake.

He knew that Luthor had an underground lair. So he was going to sneak in and wait until it was late, and try to talk to Lois, to plead his case with her. And, at the same time, find out exactly what was going on here. All he had to do was find a way in.


Find her way back out. Return to the familiar noises and smells of the city. That was what Lois needed most. Dinner with Lex would have charmed her under any other circumstances, but tonight the atmosphere felt heavier between them, charged with the unspoken promise she'd made to him by allowing herself to be lured into his underground shelter. She'd made a hasty decision there and had avoided dwelling too much on his implication that he required her presence as a female companion. But now that he'd left her alone in this replica of her apartment, common sense was dictating that she run outside and stay with the people of Metropolis instead of selfishly hiding from a fate that should have been hers.

What right did she have to be here, safe from the Nightfall Asteroid, when millions of people would die? And yet how could she stay idle and wait for death when Lex Luthor was offering her a way out?

A way to live.

But at what price? Suddenly she felt as if she'd sold her soul. Lex might be no Lucifer, but there was no denying that he didn't plan to save as many people as he could with his Ark. Only a few carefully selected invitations had been issued, and for some reason, she was among them.

What did Lex see in her? Or more importantly, what did she see in Lex? Were his charming good looks and his cultured background enough to keep her warm at night? Keeping her warm was certainly within Lex's range of skills, she mused, and he'd certainly given her the distinct impression that he wouldn't need much encouragement to display his talents for her. She should probably feel grateful that he hadn't pushed her for more than she was ready to give tonight. Then she recalled the two kisses from which she'd found no escape. She couldn't say he'd forced her, but he as sure as heck hadn't asked for her consent either.

The first one had left her feeling dizzy and embarrassed. Out there on the street, she'd felt as if a dozen prying eyes were fixed on her, observing her from the shadows and frowning in disapproval as she returned Lex's embrace. The second kiss had been scarcely better, for she'd feared for a moment that he would demand permission to stay the night. There would have been little she could say to deny him a right he would certainly claim for three years to come.

Thankfully he'd let her go, with a brief touch of his hand on her cheek and a playful smile about his lips. There had been something predatory about that expression that had made her most uncomfortable as she retreated to the relative safety of her apartment.

She'd only felt restlessness since. It was well after midnight, but sleep eluded her. What use was it to go to her bedroom and undress when she would toss and turn all night? No, she was much more comfortable on her sofa, where she could watch the door and…

She sighed, facing the fear that had haunted her since Lex's had left her alone. He probably had a spare key to her apartment. Just like her landlord, she rationalised.

<But your landlord doesn't want to get you into bed.>

She chuckled at the thought of Mrs Trezuski's outraged frown at her husband if he were to even try to hint at that, and some of the tension eased off her muscles.


Well, that had been easier than he'd expected. He'd walked around the building, searching for hidden entrances, and had come across a blank door which looked interestingly anonymous. A tentative shove hadn't made it yield, but when he'd exerted just a little more force, the door had fallen open. An examination of the locks revealed faulty manufacture; the shaft had sheared clean away. Weird — there must have been some kind of weakness in the metal.

Straight in front of him was a staircase leading underground. He jogged downwards into the darkness, hoping to find a light when he reached the bottom. Still, at least it wasn't so dark that he couldn't see the steps before him. Perhaps there was some low-level illumination escaping from whatever lay below.

Another door at the bottom gave way as easily as the one at the top, and he reflected that Luthor's bunker didn't hold much promise as a stronghold if this was a typical sample of the workmanship which had gone into its construction.

He ploughed onwards, making his way slowly down a white, sterile corridor. He was looking for an empty room somewhere in which he could hide until later. Lois would no doubt be occupied upstairs with Luthor for some time, so there was little point in trying to find her right now. No, he'd wait until he was sure everyone was retired for the night, then find her room and have a quiet chat with her. Well, maybe quiet wasn't the right term for the conversation he intended to have with her, but they would certainly have to keep their voices down lest Nigel or Luthor himself hear them.

After wandering down several similar corridors, he finally found a door with a metal handle and a blank room label. Perhaps the room had yet to be designated or assigned, in which case it was perfect for his purposes. He slipped quickly inside.

It was a large, rectangular room with a steel-grey carpet and white walls. Dotted around the floor were packing cases of various shapes and sizes. Fine — this was obviously a storage room which no-one was likely to visit while they were all wining and dining upstairs. He started pulling a few of the cases together to make a temporary chair, behind which he could hide if he heard anyone enter the room.

"Place your hands behind your head and turn around slowly."

He froze. That was Nigel's voice. Glancing around quickly, he failed to find anything with which to defend himself, so with a certain amount of dread, he straightened slowly and turned.

The dark-suited aide was standing a few feet away, pointing a small, compact-looking pistol at him. One eyebrow lifted. "Mr Kent. What a pleasant surprise."

Pleasant? Did the man enjoy shooting people that much? "I can explain," Clark began.

Well, no, he certainly couldn't explain, but he'd try anything to buy time.

"I imagine you probably can," remarked Nigel. "You're a very resourceful and inventive young man. Not one adept at following orders, alas. I believe I told you to place your hands behind your head."

Clark complied slowly. "Now what?" he said, his heart thumping in his chest. "If you shoot me here, you'll have to manhandle my body all the way up those steep stairs. I don't imagine that will be easy for a man of your age and build." He looked pointedly at Nigel.

"Oh, I don't intend to shoot you, Mr Kent," replied Nigel calmly. "Or may I call you Clark, since we'll be here for some time?"

Clark attempted a nonchalant shrug, but this was a difficult manoeuvre while his arms were raised. "Call me what you like," he said. "And if you don't intend to shoot me, why are you pointing that thing at me?"

"Old habits die hard," replied Nigel, and to Clark's surprise, slipped the pistol inside his jacket, presumably into a shoulder holster. "You can lower your hands — but I warn you, my reaction times are as good as a man of twenty. I will have shot you before you've had time to draw breath."

Clark shook his head in disgust. "You certainly know how to make friends, Nigel."

"Ah, yes," said Nigel. "Friends. Clark, I believe you and I share a mutual acquaintance."

"I doubt it — unless you mean Lois," retorted Clark.

"No, not Ms Lane." Nigel's face cracked into the shadow of a smile. "Not at all. No, I am referring to a certain Mr Walton — Frankie Walton is his full name."

Clark searched his largely blank memory banks for the name, but it didn't mean a thing to him. "Sorry, I'm not familiar with that name."

"Well, Mr Walton is most certainly familiar with you," replied Nigel. "Very familiar."

"I don't know what game you're playing, Nigel," said Clark with more than a little bafflement, "but I'm afraid you've lost me. If you've got nothing else to say to me, then I'll be on my way." He walked swiftly towards the door, hoping to brazen his way out of the situation.

"Frankie tells me you're quite a spectacular lover," said Nigel. "He makes me quite envious of your abilities."

Clark froze in his tracks. Lover? "What?!"

"He's a delightful boy, but his pillow-talk is somewhat indiscreet. Apparently I'm a mere hors d'oeuvre to your main course."

Clark did a swift internal inventory. No, he didn't feel gay. Mind you, what did being gay feel like, anyway? He looked at Nigel. Well, it definitely didn't include being attracted to that!

"I don't know what you're talking about, Nigel," he said. "You must have the wrong guy."

"Oh, I don't think so," continued Nigel. "Frankie is very proud of the fact that he's bedding a famous reporter."

"Well, he's lying," replied Clark. "Or living in a fantasy world. I'm not gay."

An eyebrow raised again. "Really? Well, I'm sure Ms Lane will be relieved to find out she wasn't just being used for cover. Or perhaps that's why she turned to Mr Luthor — when she discovered the truth about you."

Clark's head was reeling. Nigel was turning everything he'd been told so far about himself upside down, and the trouble was, he had no way of knowing which was the truth and which wasn't. Except that he knew he had feelings for Lois — there was definitely something special between them. He'd realised that when he'd seen her kiss Luthor.

"Why are you telling me all this?" he demanded.

Nigel closed the distance between them. "Three years is a long time, Clark. There won't be any more of us down here — I've seen the roster and they're all as straight as a die." He grasped Clark's bicep lightly, then stroked his hand up and down Clark's arm before he could stop him. "Perhaps you and I could come to some arrangement; an accommodation, if you will."

Clark pushed the older man away in disgust. "Get off me, Nigel!" he spat, and used his opponent's moment of confusion to reach the door and open it. "Hell will freeze over before I'd even consider anything as vile as that."

He shot into the corridor and ran down it as fast as he could. When he reached the end, he turned and ran down the next corridor, and the next. Soon, he was deep inside the maze of corridors, pretty sure no-one was following him. He slowed and started scanning the doors for another possible hiding place. His original plan to find Lois and talk to her was still intact; instinct told him that was more important than any threat posed to him by Nigel and his amorous intentions.

He searched diligently, gazing intently at the doors as if, by staring at them, he'd somehow figure out if it was safe to enter or not.

To his complete amazement, he suddenly found that he could see through one of the doors and into the room beyond. Even stranger, the room appeared to resemble Lois's apartment!


Leaning back against the cushions, Lois contemplated her situation and weighed her options one more time. There was no choice. Was there? Do as Lex asked… or die. Suddenly, the prospect of Lex Luthor didn't seem so dreadful. But then, what? In three years, when it was time to leave the underground shelter and return to the surface, what would they find? If Nightfall threw Earth off its orbit, her fate would be just the same as everyone else's. And if it only destroyed all life on the planet, what would there be to return to, assuming they survived long enough to find out?

And yet she hadn't taken the time to figure out the odds of staying alive even here before she accepted Lex's deal. If there was the tiniest chance that she might survive, she had to take it. And if that made her a coward, then so be it. She could fool everyone else, but how could she lie to herself? Of course she was afraid. Who wasn't?

Clark. Clark wasn't afraid. He hadn't seemed afraid anyway, but had she hung around long enough to find out? Or to even care? Here she was, self-pitying over a decision that might save her life, while her best friend was out there, with no memories and no relatives around to support him in the loss of a life he couldn't remember.

Suddenly, the need to be at his side was overwhelming, and she fought the urge to get to her feet and rush out the door. She could still return to her place on Carter Avenue… or even run to Clinton Street and see if Clark had gone home. Oh, what she wouldn't give right now to feel the comfort of his arms around her, to hear him reassure her that everything would be all right!

The notion surprised her. She'd never spared Clark Kent much thought before. He was her colleague at work, and true, she'd come to consider him a friend over the past few months. But it was only when he'd threatened to leave Metropolis and never come back a few weeks earlier that she'd realised that he meant more to her than a simple acquaintance. She liked him, and he was probably the only partner she would ever tolerate. But there was something else. She cared deeply for him; she enjoyed his company, and she even trusted him to some extent. He was the closest to a best friend she'd ever had.

A sharp knock on the door jolted her out of her musings, and she froze, her voice unsteady as she spoke out to the intruder. "Who's there?"

There was a short silence on the other side of the door, and she waited, holding her breath, wishing with all her heart that it wasn't Lex standing there to reclaim what he hadn't earlier.


She sighed in relief at the single word, then tensed again as she remembered how she'd behaved to him tonight. Well, just a few seconds earlier she'd been wishing for his presence, after all. She squared her shoulders and opened the door, bracing herself for her partner's angry lecture.

But his expression was a picture of sombre annoyance that didn't seem directed at her, she realised as she motioned for him to enter her apartment. He hesitated for a moment, looking about himself as if wondering if he'd been followed, and the frown didn't leave his face even after she closed the door behind him.

"How did you get in here?" she asked, suddenly wondering if she'd dreamed the whole thing and was still in fact in her own apartment. But no. She'd seen the cold, steel walls of the bunker of the corridor.

He was looking around her living room, mouth gaping, and she patiently waited for him to redirect his attention to her before she repeated her question.

"Oh. There was a door at the back of the building. I walked in," he stated matter-of-factly.

"You… walked in," she repeated with a doubtful frown. Surely Lex wouldn't leave back doors open for anyone to infiltrate that bunker of his.

Clark returned to his intense scrutiny of her place. "Is this…?" The question hung in the air, as if he couldn't bring himself to finish it without feeling foolish.

"My apartment, yes."

"But we're…"

"Fifteen hundred feet under Metropolis, yes."

"I see," he murmured, though his tone betrayed that he didn't.

"Look, you really shouldn't be here, Clark," Lois heard herself saying. She wanted him here — seeing him walk through her door had almost been like the answer to her wistful yearnings. But something was telling her that Lex wouldn't be at all pleased to see him there. This was, after all, a secret bunker — Lex's Ark, he'd told her. And it was clear that entrance was by invitation only.

Unless Clark had also been given an invitation…? But, no, that was unlikely. Impossible, in fact, she amended, remembering the way Lex had tended to refer to her partner on the few occasions Clark had ever been mentioned in conversation between them. Lex regarded Clark with something between patronising amusement and contempt.

"Maybe I shouldn't," Clark agreed, but added firmly, "I don't think you should be here either. Should you?"

"What… what do you mean?"

"Lois, I don't remember much about anything," he said, his voice harsh. "So you can tell me I'm crazy if you want. But the Lois Lane I think I remember doesn't hide. She doesn't run away from danger. She's out there in the middle of it. And… I'm pretty sure that she's loyal to her friends. At least, I don't think that people like Mr White or Jimmy would treat you like they do if you weren't. So what are you doing in this place?"

His words stung her, even more than they'd been intended to, Lois thought. After all, Clark was only guessing. He couldn't possibly know that he'd been completely accurate with everything he'd said. Or that the things he'd said had only echoed what she'd been telling herself over and over since she'd told Lex that she'd join him in his bunker.

He was right. She was running away, and that wasn't in character for her. She was being a coward. And for what? The chance to live for three years — maybe more — as Lex's concubine? She shouldn't fool herself that she would be anything more to him. He was already a very powerful man, but in this Ark he would be king. He would have absolute authority, and he'd be in a commanding position, probably unassailable, once they were able to emerge once more. He wouldn't need to keep her sweet. She'd be his for the taking, and it would be in her interest not to reject him.

And for that… she was abandoning her friends? Turning her back on the Planet? Giving up her last chance to make her peace with her parents? To tell Lucy that she loved her? To be there at the end, to report that one last big story, even if no-one was left alive to read it?

What had she done?

Maybe it wasn't too late, she thought suddenly. After all, Clark had managed to sneak in. He'd mentioned a back door. Well, if he could get in, then she could get out. Couldn't she? It was night — Lex would be in bed, and no-one would know she'd gone until morning.

But what was she thinking? That Lex was some sort of monster? That he wouldn't let her go if she simply went to him and told him that she'd changed her mind? Of course he would! That was what she should do. In the morning. She'd talk to him and explain.

Then she realised that Clark was still staring at her, his expression stormy. She hadn't answered him, had she?

"What am I doing here?" she echoed. "I don't really think that's any of your business, Clark." The defensive words emerged before she could stop them, but she justified it by reminding herself that it really *wasn't* his business. He was her partner, that was all. Her currently amnesiac partner.

He was also her best friend. And the way he was looking away from her now showed that she'd hurt him.

"I'm sorry," she said quickly, coming to his side and sliding her hand through his arm. "But, Clark, you're the last person I expected to see here…"

"And *this*," he said, indicating around, "is the last thing I expected to see here. What's going on, Lois? Your apartment? Or a perfect copy of it? I've figured out why you're here — you're escaping from Nightfall. With Lex Luthor. But who did this? And don't you find it just a bit creepy that someone would want to do it?"

It was very creepy. Hadn't she come to that conclusion herself earlier? For someone to have done this, they'd have had to have virtually unlimited access to her apartment. Had she been spied on? Stalked?

And anyway, why? Wouldn't she have been just as happy with a newly-designed apartment which she could have filled with her own things? As it was, the place now looked very odd; two lamps now stood on the small table by one of the sofas, she had two fish-tanks, and she was even tempted to look inside the dresser to see whether there were three Kerth awards in there to match her own, which stood on a table waiting to be positioned.

Maybe if she explained it to Clark, she'd convince herself again why this was a good idea, Lois decided. She waved him to a seat.

"This is a bunker. It's been built to withstand the force of a nuclear explosion," she explained. "It will withstand Nightfall. Lex is gathering people here who will all be a part of rebuilding the Earth once it's safe again up above. Craftsmen, engineers, farmers, scientists, lawyers, accountants… We'll be part of the new dawn, with the task of re-establishing society, building homes, setting up a functioning and sustainable economy and educating future generations. It's a tremendous honour and responsibility," she added, emphasising what Lex had told her over dinner.

"And lawyers and accountants are essential to establishing a new world?" Clark asked sceptically. "You'd think that with a chance to start again, we might want to avoid some of the mistakes of the past."

"Scoff all you want, Clark, but this is real. This is important! In less than a couple of days, everyone up there will be dead. There's a chance to save a few people, people who will be able to perform a useful function in the hard job of starting again. That's what Lex is doing here. It's an amazing achievement!"

"And Lex Luthor's role in all this is… what?"

"Oh, don't be pathetic, Clark!" Lois objected. "He's paid for it all. He organised it. And someone has to be in charge. Even you have to admit that he has natural authority."

"Yes, and he'll have his own little fiefdom, won't he?" Clark pointed out. "A dictator. Or an absolute monarch, if he prefers. He can finally be the unchallenged master of all he surveys. That's what he's always wanted, isn't it?"

Was it? There was something about the way Lex had spoken about life in the Ark which made Lois feel distinctly uncomfortable. But still… "How would you know, Clark? Your memory isn't exactly reliable at the moment, is it?"

He flinched and looked away. "You know it isn't. But I know it's what he wants. What he's always wanted. I have these fleeting visions, Lois… I don't know where they come from, but I see him challenging, taunting, threatening… There's something about a sword, Lois, but I don't know what. And people jumping… I don't understand it," he said, shaking his head and looking confused. "I just *know* that it has something to do with Luthor."

Lois frowned. "Well, when you first met him we'd sneaked into his study and he held that big sword of his — the one he says belonged to Alexander the Great — to your throat. But he had no intention of hurting you. He was just making the point that we were trespassing. Which we were!"

Clark shook his head. "I don't remember. But I can't shake this feeling off, Lois. It's very strong…"

"Just like the feeling you said you had that you and I were more than friends?" she said sceptically. "Clark, that one wasn't right either. Look, I can see that you don't approve of my decision to be here, and you have a right to your opinion, but I have a right to my choices, and I've chosen this."

He sighed. "You're right. If you want to save yourself, what right do I have to stop you? None at all. I know it. But, Lois, I wish you'd reconsider. We could get out of here right now. I know the way. You could be home in your own apartment in half an hour. And tomorrow you can be with everyone in the Planet, or spending time with your family, or… Well, anyway, you can be somewhere other than skulking away down here waiting for Lex Luthor to claim whatever his price is for bringing you here."

The accuracy of Clark's guess this time made Lois pale.

"That's it, isn't it?" Her partner had lost none of his reporter's eye for reactions, she noted with bleak humour as he picked up on her mood. "Luthor's price. You're his… his mistress!"

"I'm not!" she objected instantly. "I haven't… we haven't…"

"But it's only a matter of time, isn't it?" he persisted. "Lois, I saw you kiss him… If that's what you want, then just be honest about it. If you're here because you want to be with Lex Luthor, then that's your choice. But don't insult me by giving me all that stuff about your responsibility towards the future of the planet, please!"

"But I don't — " Lois began, then stopped herself. She'd been just about to say that she didn't want to be with Lex. But that wasn't true.

Was it?

"I think you'd better go, Clark," she said quietly, gesturing towards the door. The door that suddenly swung open without warning.

"No-one's going anywhere," a smooth and very familiar voice said. There was a threatening note in it which was *not* familiar.

Lex smiled at Lois, but it wasn't a friendly smile. "My dear, would you care to tell me what Mr Kent is doing here?"


Lex Luthor's frown deepened at Kent's obvious lack of deference towards him. Even amnesia hadn't cured his arrogance. For a few seconds, he returned Kent's stare in a silent battle of wills, then slowly shifted his attention back to Lois. She was taking his time answering his question, and he could see that she was literally squirming at being caught in whatever little scheme had broiled behind his back.

"I seem to recall a warning I issued regarding my little hideout," he continued when her silence lengthened into a stubborn pause. "Wasn't it something about the existence of this very place being kept a secret from the outside world? And for obvious reasons, I will add."

Kent shook his head, and the gesture fuelled Lex's anger. "It would hurt you to share your ticket to survival, wouldn't it?"

"If you had any sense of economic reality, Mr Kent, even your generous soul would see that it's impossible to welcome the entire world in no more than a subterranean vault that isn't even certain to resist the impact of the meteorite."

"And so you prefer to choose a few specimens of the human species? Preferably the ones who might be of some use to you?"

"Obviously, Mr Kent, your current condition is affecting your perceptions. After all, you don't remember a thing. Not even the good I've accomplished in the great city of Metropolis."

Kent took a step forward, but Lex didn't budge. He wasn't about to be impressed by a nobody like this rookie reporter, as arrogant and disrespectful as he was.

"I wouldn't play this card if I were you, Luthor," the man dared to say. "I might not remember much, but the important facts are still there."

"My, my… But it could almost sound like a threat!" Even as he kept his tone jovial, the seed of doubt planted itself in Lex's mind. He'd never managed to find out what Kent knew about him, or what he suspected. Maybe that red- caped do-gooder had confided in him and told him of his suspicions; would Kent have been credulous enough to believe the alien over the word of millions of people who adulated him? Besides, Lois Lane trusted him; even her ridiculous crush on Superman hadn't altered her judgement. No, Kent was only trying to look superior to win the heart of his beautiful partner.

Lois was oblivious to her colleague's feelings anyway. She had more taste than to hook up with a man who could only offer her the prospect of a peasant's life in the backend of beyond. No. Lois liked the fast and furious, the wilderness of adventure, the possibilities opened by wealth and power.

She liked him.

He stifled an urge to gloat, and he turned a bright smile towards Lois instead. Reaching for her hand, he brought it up to his lips and let the chaste kiss linger. "If you would excuse us, my dear? I'd better show Mr Kent his way out."

Right on cue, two of the security guards in charge of this section's surveillance hovered by the door, hand poised at the guns hooked to their belts.

"Out?" Lois sounded panicked as she spoke.

"Where he belongs," Lex explained smoothly. "Then we'll have all the time in the world to talk about his little… intrusion on the life of happiness I've planned for you."

Kent was reasonable enough to follow the guards without a fuss, and Lex joined them in the narrow corridor after bowing in front of Lois. Out? Out of the way, certainly. Out of any place where he could reveal the existence of the bunker and what it would be used for.


Lois stared at the door long after it closed behind Lex. Had Clark really been here? Had he answered her silent prayers and come all the way down here to bring her back home? And if so, why had she practically thrown him out, when her prime wish had been to run away from the spooky replica of her apartment that Lex had created God knew how?

Out. Lex had said he was accompanying Clark out. And his annoyance at her had seemed to fade so very quickly, as if he'd decided that it wasn't very important whether she'd revealed the existence of the bunker to someone else or not. Oh, he'd said they would talk about it, but that time there had been no hostility in his voice. Just… amusement.

How could he be amused?

And if he was so intent on keeping the secret of his bunker's existence, how could he release Clark so easily? For he'd said he was sending him back to the world and…

No. He'd said he was taking Clark out.

For an instant, panic paralysed her chest as she contemplated the dreadful images that intruded her mind. Then she breathed deeply, chasing the nightmares away and forcing reason to pre-empt other irrational fears.

Lex was no murderer. He was a wealthy and respected man; maybe he used his money in a few hazardous businesses, but he wouldn't physically harm someone just because… just because he was compromising his plans to survive when Earth was promised to a lethal fate.

Lois faltered and groped for the back of the sofa, needing its support before her knees gave way.

She'd made the decision to abandon her friends and family just because of this very bunker. She'd seen the only means of survival in what Lex was offering her, and Clark was right: she would pay for what she was given. Becoming Lex's mistress was the condition; her host — captor? — had made this plain enough. And yet, despite the outrageousness of the suggestion, despite her lack of enthusiasm and her shame at what could only be called selling herself, she hadn't taken more than a few minutes to come to the conclusion that she wanted to live and would pay whatever price not to die.

Could Lex go further than that for the sake of his secret bunker? Could he…

Could he commit murder to ensure that no-one else discovered his hideout? He was right; telling the world about his plan would only make this very last solution fail. He was about to save a handful of people after all: a couple of hundred of citizens who had to ensure the perpetration of the human species after the apocalypse. It wasn't the perfect solution, but wasn't it still better than letting everyone die and know that a whole civilisation was about to disappear?

She sighed. As logical as it sounded, even her reasoning didn't manage to ease the guilt and remorse that she'd felt since she'd accepted the plan and what it implied. Lex didn't seem to have the same feelings, but he'd had a lot more time to get used to the idea, and as a restless businessman, Lois supposed that he was used to making sacrifices. If people got hurt by his actions, he considered it an inevitable consequence of business on a grand scale, and all that mattered was the achievement.

It wasn't fair.

It wasn't right.

Especially when Clark could be the next victim of Lex's pursuit of the greater good.


Clark walked edgily in front of the two security guards, stumbling every now and again when one of them gave him an aggressive shove against his shoulder. He was deliberately walking slower than they wanted him to, in order to buy himself thinking time.

None of this felt right. Lois hadn't been at all at ease back there, and it seemed to him that a woman who had committed herself to live underground as someone's mistress for three years ought to be more comfortable with her partner than she had been with Luthor. Clark was sure her unease had been due to more than simply his own unexpected presence; she had seemed almost afraid of Luthor.

Then there was Luthor himself. Clark couldn't understand why Lois didn't see what he saw — a manipulative, power- hungry man with an obvious lack of the basic morals. Why would a woman like Lois want to go with a man like Luthor?

"Hurry up!" barked one of his guards, giving him yet another shove.

"Yes, do please hurry along, Kent," drawled Luthor from behind the guards. "My men and I have more important things to attend to than interfering third-rate newspaper hacks."

"I can show myself out, if you'd prefer," suggested Clark. "Leave you and your hired thugs to do whatever you like in peace."

Luthor laughed. "That's very generous of you, Kent, but I like to treat my guests — even the uninvited ones — properly."

"Does 'properly' include killing them?" asked Clark. "That's generally not considered very hospitable."

"Oh, I'm not going to kill you, Kent," replied Luthor. "Nigel will do that. I understand you quite hurt his feelings."

"He made an offer I just couldn't accept," said Clark, shuddering at the thought of encountering the amorous Nigel again. He had no moral objections to homosexuality — or at least, he didn't think he did — but Nigel's brand of persuasion didn't appeal any more to him than Cat Grant's seduction tactics. Both had tried to take advantage of his situation with no consideration for him — not that he could expect Nigel to have consideration for anyone.

But no doubt the man was feeling spurned too, and so, as Luthor had implied, was very well motivated to make the kill. Clark didn't want to die. Not like this, anyway — Nightfall might take his life in a few short hours anyway, but he'd make sure he was among friends when that happened.

"Poor Nigel," said Luthor. "Perhaps I should find a companion for him after all. I'm sure there are plenty of young boys on the streets of Metropolis who would jump at the chance."

Clark shook his head, and once again wondered what Lois could possible see in such a depraved, evil man. Boys? Was she really so besotted with Luthor that she believed his philanthropy was genuine? And if she was in love with the man, how could she also be afraid of him?

Perhaps it was time to start considering some pretty outrageous actions. Clark didn't, at present, know himself very well, and that gave him a weird sense of freedom — he felt he could do almost anything, and yet his conscience wouldn't object. Oh, he wouldn't do anything illegal or immoral; that part of his conscience was very much intact, but the part of him that said 'Clark Kent wouldn't do that', or 'Clark Kent can't do that' just didn't exist.

The thugs had marched him back to a room he recognised. "Back so soon?" said Nigel, his compact pistol again pointed at Clark's chest.

"I hadn't finished telling you how much you disgust me," retorted Clark.

Nigel's lips pursed together in a taut, firm line. "You'll regret that," he replied shortly. "I don't have to kill you with the first bullet — or the second, or the third. In fact, it's been some time since I indulged in a little target practice."

"Just make sure you get rid of the body outside," instructed Luthor. "We don't want Mr Kent causing a nasty smell, now do we?"

"Indeed not, sir," replied Nigel. "Would you care to watch?"

Luthor sighed. "Alas, I have matters to attend to. Try not to enjoy yourself too much, Nigel."

"I'll bear that in mind, sir."

Clark barely had time to register Luthor's departure before the two thugs barrelled into him, twisted his arms up behind his back and forced him headlong into the nearest wall. He struck with an audible crash, and then felt a hard punch in the small of his back. To his surprise, his assailant let out a loud yelp followed by an extremely rude expletive. The hold on his right arm faltered, and he took advantage of that to twist away from the man completely. The guy on his left punched him in the kidneys but then let out a similar yelp of agony.

Confused but elated, Clark yanked himself free of both men and rushed blindly at Nigel, praying that he'd have the advantage of surprise over the older man. A shot rang out and he felt a thud in his chest. Dismayed, he clutched at himself, waiting for the pain to start and the blood to start flowing.

But other than mild dizziness, he felt nothing. Straightening up, he looked at a dumbfounded Nigel, then back at his hands. Still no blood. Throwing caution to the wind, he flung himself at Nigel, ignoring the second shot and the third. He felt hands tugging feebly at him from behind; presumably the two thugs, but he shook them off easily and grabbed Nigel, shoving one arm up his back while simultaneously finding the gun and twisting it out of the man's hand.

He shoved the barrel in Nigel's face. "I don't remember much, but I do remember that I despise these things," he growled, and quickly flung the gun as far away as possible. There was a loud ripping sound, which when he followed it briefly, turned out to be the gun disappearing through a hole in the fabric of the building.

Some fall-out shelter!

He flung the man around, and dragged him to the door as cover against the two thugs — not that they seemed to have much fight left in them. At the door, he threw Nigel back into the room and ran as fast as he could back towards Lois's room. It was time to do something completely outrageous and totally illogical.


Lois jogged down the corridor, mindful that time was not on her side and that Clark could already be dead. She'd no idea which way Lex had taken him, and she wished she'd paid more attention to this maze when he'd led her here in the first place.

Suddenly she froze. Something was coming towards her. It was a brownish, greyish blur, hovering just above the ground. She glanced around desperately, but there were no doors, just blank white walls on both sides. Gulping, she flattened herself against one wall, hoping that whatever it was would simply pass her by. Just what on earth had Lex created down here? As it grew closer, she screwed her eyes shut, reliving that crazy childhood logic which dictated that if she couldn't see the thing, it couldn't see her.

Two hands — its hands — grabbed her shoulders, and she twisted her face blindly away, terrified of whatever it had planned for her.

"Lois!" it said. "Thank God I found you!"

She opened her eyes and snapped her head around in shock. "Clark?"

"Come on, we're getting out of here," he urged.

"Clark?" she repeated, still trying to process what she'd seen. How could Clark possibly have moved so fast? And he'd hovered…

"Sup…erman…?" she demanded suddenly, in a low whisper. It was the only explanation which fitted the facts. Superman was *Clark*. And that was why Superman had been missing ever since his first flight to stop the meteorite. Because he'd lost his memory and had no idea who he was. He didn't remember that he was Clark Kent, so why should he remember that he was Superman too?

"Huh?" Clark stared at her, his eyes frowning in puzzlement. "Lois, please! We need to get out of here! I know you came here willingly, but surely you can't want to stay — not with a man like Luthor! Have you any idea what he's really like?"

"I'm just beginning to realise," she told him shakily. "He was going to have you killed, wasn't he?"

Clark nodded, his expression grim. And now Lois knew what had been naggingly familiar about Clark over the past couple of days. He hadn't been guarding his expressions and his responses, and she'd been noticing his remarkable resemblance to Superman.

If only she'd realised before she'd made such a terrible mistake… Taking Lex up on his offer had been one of the most stupid things she'd ever done. It was crazy, and she still couldn't logically explain why she'd done it. It wasn't as if she was afraid of dying. She'd been in life- threatening situations many times. And she'd never have imagined herself to be the kind capable of walking out on her colleagues.

Well, Clark — Superman! — was offering her a way out. And she was going to take it.

"Let's go," she said abruptly, taking his arm. "I wish there was a way of getting my stuff back… but I suppose if Nightfall hits it won't really matter."

"It's this way, I think," he said, beginning to walk back along the darkened corridor.

"Clark?" Lois nudged him as he trudged.


"Um… wouldn't it be quicker if you carried me? And went at Super-speed or something? Or maybe even if you flew?"

"Lois? What on earth are you talking about?" He sounded as confused as he'd been just a couple of mornings ago when she'd come to pick him up at the precinct, and she found herself wanting to hug him. But now wasn't the time. Clark was *Superman*, and the world needed him!

And right now, she needed him to get them both out of Lex's Ark.

"Clark," she said quietly, but firmly. "I know this is going to sound crazy, but you're Superman. You have fantastic powers, and one of them is flight. And right now I'd kind of appreciate it if you could use it and get us out of here!"

"You're right. It is crazy," he said curtly. "Lois, I can't believe you'd do something like this! You know I don't remember anything about myself — how could you try to make me believe something that ludicrous?"

"It's not ludicrous, Clark," she told him. "Just now, when you found me, do you know what you were doing?"

He shrugged roughly. "Running as fast as I could through this place to find you so we could get out of here! Which is what we should be doing now, instead of standing around talking rubbish!"

"Yeah, you were. And do you know exactly how fast you were running? You were a blur, Clark! And you were hovering — your feet weren't even touching the ground!" she insisted, keeping her voice low in case Luthor or any of his minions were within hearing distance.

"That's not possible," he insisted.

"Clark, would I lie to you?"

"Probably not," he acknowledged. "I might not know much… but I think I know that about you."

"Then you have to believe me, Clark! Look, we can try to work all this out once we're out of this place. For now… can you please try to remember how you did that back there?"

"I have no idea…" He hesitated, then took a deep breath and seemed to come to a decision. "It can't hurt to try," he added then, and suddenly scooped her into his arms.

It felt so familiar to be held against his chest. Clark had never held her like that before — well, apart from when he'd carried her into the Lexor's honeymoon suite, but that was different. And anyway, he'd been pretending to find her too heavy to carry — she'd thought at the time that he was making too much fuss about her supposed weight. And now she knew the truth.

Lois looped her arms around his neck and gave a quick nod. "Let's go."


He was Superman? Was Lois insane?

Yet he'd come to understand enough about his partner in the last couple of days to realise that she was one very smart woman. Highly intuitive — which made her trust of Lex Luthor seem very strange — intelligent and a brilliant journalist. If she told him that he was Superman, shouldn't he at least give her the benefit of the doubt?

And then there'd been those very strange incidents with Luthor's thugs and Nigel's gun. He'd expected to be bleeding badly — and there'd been nothing. He should have been dead. Instead of which, he was very much alive and unhurt.

Hadn't he managed to keep up with Lois's car on the way here, too? No human could run at that sort of speed. And then there was his conviction, earlier, that the wall of Lois's 'apartment' had somehow melted away so that he could see inside.

Superman could move at Super-speed. He could see through things. He was invulnerable. All of those things, and more, were within the Man of Steel's repertoire.

So maybe he really was Superman?

Well, there was only one way to find out… Holding Lois even closer to himself, he broke into a run. Within a few seconds, the succession of doors past him became a blur and the far end of the corridor faded to reveal the quiet alley through which he'd accessed the shelter.

He didn't pause to wonder about it. Freedom was a few feet ahead, and a moment later, the fresh night air was brushing against his body as the ground got further and further away.

He was flying.

Lois had been right. And she was in his arms, her face lit by a bright smile as she spotted the recognition on his face. But the incredible sensations stirred from the very depths of his soul by the act of flying were nothing next to the bliss assailing him when Lois smiled at him in that way.

And he remembered.

He remembered the rescues he'd performed over the years, and, most of all, the latest and tragic one that had deprived him from his memory and kept Superman away from a world that needed him. He remembered the trust that had been placed in him when he'd left Earth with the mission to destroy Nightfall. He remembered his annoyance at being equipped with all kinds of scientific devices before he took off, and the arrogance that had pushed him to ignore Eprad's advice on how to deal with the asteroid.

He also remembered growing up in Kansas and moving to Metropolis a few short months before.

But most of all, he remembered the first time Lois Lane had barged into Perry's office and spun his world around. He remembered being her friend and loving her discreetly, from afar, while she fawned over his alter-ego and…

His mood darkened.

… and dated Lex Luthor.

They needed to talk. She had obviously started to get a grasp on the reality of Lex Luthor's philanthropy; she wouldn't keep seeing a man who could commit a cold-blooded murder.

"Can you drop me home?"

He flinched at her words but nodded. It looked like his wish for a serious conversation with Lois would have to wait. He could understand her need to be alone, though. She'd just figured out who he was, and she was probably feeling embarrassed by her attitude towards Superman now that she knew that the superhero she'd worshipped was also the partner she barely tolerated. Just because she wouldn't see Lex Luthor again didn't mean that she would consider a relationship with Clark Kent.

A few seconds later, he was landing inside Lois's apartment. She slid out of his arms, but her hands lingered on his chest. "Thank you."

He nodded, not trusting his voice to speak, and turned away to leave.

"Do you have to go now?"

He thought she sounded hopeful, and he hesitated. "I… I thought that maybe you'd want to be alone. To think. And maybe… yell at me. I'd rather not be here if you have to yell at me."

To his dismay, she laughed aloud. "Of all the things to remember, Clark! Why couldn't you forget that I'm the kind of woman who would yell at you?"

He grinned. "That is something that even amnesia couldn't wipe away. Exactly like me lo…" He trailed off and faltered, his enthusiasm gone. "Caring about you." He forced the smile back, determined to be cheerful. "Or us being friends."

"Close friends."

Was there something in her eyes that hadn't been there before? He could almost believe that she was looking at him the way he'd always prayed she would, but he knew that it was just his imagination playing tricks on him. Cruel tricks. He chuckled, but the sound was as much a means to hide his embarrassment as the expression of genuine happiness.

"Clark, can we talk?"

He held his breath, wondering if she'd detected the falsity of his cheerfulness, and nodded.

When he'd sat beside her on the sofa, she spoke again. "I know that you probably don't want… no, wait, I mean don't *need* to hear that now, when you're so confused about everything and nothing makes much sense, but I -"

Of course — she didn't know he'd regained his memory. He raised his hand to correct her. "Lois, about that, I need to tell you that —"

"No. Clark, if I don't say what I have to say right now, I'll find a way to avoid this conversation later on."

"But you need to know that —"


He sighed but didn't press any further.

"The past few days have taught me many things about the people around me," she started, and lowered her eyes almost immediately. "Lex… well, let's just say I never suspected that he was any more or less than the public image he projected. And… then there's you." She shook her head. "Talk about being blind!"

"Lois, Luthor is a professional! No-one ever saw what he really was, because he's so skilled at hiding it."

"Oh, but you saw through the mask."

He smiled. "X-ray vision helps."

"I'm not joking, Clark. You knew right away that Lex wasn't who he claimed to be." She eyed him furtively, and for the first time since they'd left the bunker, a gleam of anger was directed at him. "I guess you had the benefit of experience, though."

"I was just as blind, Lois. Luthor could have been every bit the philanthropist he claimed to be, but I still would have hated him and tried to find flaws in his cover." It was his turn to glance at her furtively. "I could never bear to see you with him, right from that moment I saw you dance with him at the White Orchid Ball."

She jolted upright and stared directly at him. "Wait a minute! You remember?!"

At last! He smiled broadly. "Yes!"

She threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around him and hugging him with a fierceness that knocked the breath out of him. Oh, he remembered this very well — the sudden, intense contact, the longing that it would develop into something more…

She briefly pulled away but kept her arms firmly around his neck. "Everything?"


"When did it all come back to you? And why didn't you tell me?"

"It became clear after you told me I was Superman."

"You didn't seem to believe me at first."

"Oh, I didn't! But then when we flew out of the shelter it was obvious that you hadn't lied. Then it all rushed back, as if remembering that I was Superman had broken some kind of dam."

"I see you definitely haven't forgotten your annoying habit of avoiding embarrassing questions," she commented dryly. "Why did you wait until I figured it out? Is that a constant thing with you?"

"I tried to tell you! But you wanted to go first… And I suppose you still haven't told me what you wanted to tell me."

She flinched, and he knew he'd touched a nerve. "Yeah. Look, can we talk about this later?"

But he would have none of it. Fishing for a courage he didn't know he possessed, he reached for her hand and held it firmly in his own. "No. You're not going to run away. Not again."

"That was before I knew you remembered everything."

"What's different now?"

"Everything is different! The way you see me is different!"

"It's not. Look, Lois, does my being Superman change everything for you?"

She took a moment to mull over his question before she replied. "I guess it does. I don't mean I think any less of you. In fact, I probably admire you even more now that I know you're a… well, normal guy." The pink shade colouring her cheeks made her awkwardness obvious. "But it doesn't change us being friends."

"And it's the same with me. I still see, and have always seen, Lois Lane, ace reporter at the Daily Planet. My best friend. My *close* friend. And… maybe even more than that."


Even more than close friends. He was offering her a way in — a way to admit to herself and him that there was more to their relationship than a couple of colleagues who seemed to hit it off pretty well.

Could she do this? Say the scary words? She'd insisted they have this conversation, and now here she was, right where she'd wanted to be. Funny how that seemed to make it harder, not easier.

And in a short space of time, both of them might be smashed to pulp by a huge lump of rock. Well, she would be — she wasn't so sure that he would. Come to think of it, shouldn't he be contacting EPRAD to say he was back and ready to take another shot at the asteroid?!

He was looking at her expectantly, waiting for her to respond to his leading remark. Surely it was the right time to take a few risks.

"I'd…" She swallowed nervously; even if it was the end of the world, this was difficult! "I'd like it to be more," she replied, and felt his hand tighten on her own.

"Really?" he said huskily. "You really mean that?"

"I do," she said, and brought his hand slowly up to her lips to kiss his knuckles. She eyed him over his fingers and saw his expression intensify.

"Lois…" he murmured, leaning closer to her. She felt herself pulled towards him, as if a magnet were drawing her into his body. His face came closer — she felt his breath on her skin — and then their lips were touching at last.

He was so gentle; so tender. His arm slid around her back, she wrapped her arms around his large body, and they kissed softly and slowly. The world melted away and she forgot about everything else except Clark and the feeling that, finally, she'd found the man she truly loved.


After what seemed like an eternity, filled with long and blissful kisses, Clark pulled back to look at Lois. Her eyes shone in a way he'd never seen before, other than a rare, fleeting glimpse of something she tried unsuccessfully to hide when she looked at Superman.

She loved him. She might not have said it yet, but it was there in her eyes.

And all was right with the world.

… the world?

No, it wasn't!

His thoughts came to a screeching, shuddering halt as he remembered just *why* all wasn't right with the world.

"The asteroid!" he yelped, his voice coming out squeaky. "Lois, I have to stop it!"

"Oh, god!" she exclaimed. "Clark, of course you do!"

She pulled away from him and he could see that she was shaking.

"Lois? Honey?" he ventured.

"Oh, Clark… What if you're killed?" she asked, her voice quavering.

He stilled. She was right: it was a definite possibility. After all, now that he remembered everything about his previous mission, he was well aware of how close he'd come to dying then. And even then he hadn't succeeded in destroying Nightfall.

"It could happen," he told her heavily. "But, Lois, I have to go — you know that, don't you? If I don't…"

Her expression told him that she understood exactly what the consequence would be if he didn't. But, of course, she knew that; she'd been living with it for the past couple of days while he'd been struggling with his loss of memory. He took a deep breath. "Lois, I have to go. Now — this thing's getting closer all the time. There's only a couple of hours left!"

She ran to him again, throwing her arms around him and resting her head in the hollow of his shoulder. Tears echoed in her voice as she said, "Come back to me, Clark! Be careful… I need you…"

"And I need you," he said, moved almost beyond words. "Lois… if I stop this thing… if I don't make it back, tell my parents that I love them, will you?"

He felt her nod. "But you *will* come back!" she said savagely. "Clark, it's taken me so darned long to see that I love you — I *won't* lose you now!"

"I'll do everything in my power to come back to you," he vowed, then hugged her tightly before stepping away again.

Then he spun, smiling wryly at her gasp of amazement. Standing before her in his Spandex suit, he inhaled deeply again before bending to kiss her tenderly.

"I'll be back, Lois. Don't doubt it," he told her, with more confidence than he felt. Then he turned and jumped up onto her windowsill before swooping upwards and off to his appointment with destiny in the form of an asteroid called Nightfall.


Lois stirred, moving painfully as a crick in her neck made itself felt. Disorientated, she blinked and tried to work out where she was. And then she remembered. She was back in her apartment — her own apartment, not Lex's facsimile copy. And Nightfall was still approaching.

And Clark was out there somewhere, risking his life in a courageous attempt to save the world. If he was still alive, she thought suddenly, a lump swelling in her throat. He could already be dead…

"I wondered when you'd wake," an amused voice said from behind her.

She sat up suddenly, whirling around and groaning in pain as she did so. "C-Clark?"

He was standing just behind her sofa, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, and holding out a mug of coffee to her. "There's croissants keeping warm in the oven," he added casually.

"Clark! You… you're okay!" she stammered. "What happened? Nightfall…?"

"Is shattered into thousands of tiny pieces, and the larger pieces which were left were shoved off course. They might just manage to hit Mars, but they missed Earth by a few thousand miles in the end." He grinned at her, in just the way he might have if he'd just told her that he'd got a killer tip for a story instead of saved the entire world.

"Oh, thank god!" Lois muttered, then flung herself at Clark. Coffee spilt on the carpet as he wrapped his arms around her in turn, holding her close enough so that she could feel his heart beating against her own.

"Oops!" he exclaimed. "I'll clean that for you in a minute."

"Clark… I was afraid you were going to get killed…"

He smiled and shook his head. "It was easy this time. And anyway, I had more reasons to live. You were waiting for me, remember?"

She reached up and kissed him. His lips tasted just as good as she remembered, and her fingers crept into his hair, pressing his head down to hers as she devoured his mouth with her own.

A long time later, Clark drew away slightly. "I take it that means you're glad to have me back?"

"You could say that."

"I'm glad." He grinned again before touching his forehead to hers. Then he released her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders instead. "Notice anything?" he enquired semi- casually.

Puzzled, Lois followed his glance around the room. And then she saw it. All the belongings she'd carefully packed up for Nigel to take over to Luthor's Ark were back in their places.

"But… how…?" she questioned incoherently.

Clark laughed. "I flew straight back here once Nightfall was gone. And you were fast asleep. I didn't have the heart to wake you, and I wanted to make sure that Luthor wasn't coming over here to kidnap you or anything. So I went back to his Ark — he'd barricaded it with him inside, all ready for impact, I guess. Interestingly," Clark added, "it looked as if there'd been some sort of fighting among his 'guests' — I guess he didn't hand-pick them carefully enough. From what I overheard, someone wasn't happy about the quarters allotted to him, and he went on a rampage. Seems a few people got killed in crossfire."

Lois frowned. "I'm glad we were out of there by then!"

"Yeah, it was fortunate," Clark agreed. "Uh… I know I shouldn't say it, but it's pretty lucky for me — three of the people killed were Nigel and two of his goons, and since they have to have figured out about me when I got away from them… I mean, I crushed Nigel's gun, apart from anything else."

"Yeah, definitely lucky!" Lois exclaimed. "I hate to think how we'd have explained that!"

"Anyway," he continued, "I broke in, found all your stuff and flew it back here, and then informed Luthor that if he'd like to stay down there, the rest of the world would be happy to get along without him."

Lois giggled. "I'm beginning to think that wouldn't be such a bad thing."

Clark nodded, looking grim briefly. "Anyway, he worked out what I meant, and as I left he was issuing orders to dozens of minions. He'll probably be back in his penthouse by now."

"Sounds like you think he deserves investigating," Lois said, putting together Clark's tone now with the way he'd always looked when Lex Luthor was mentioned. Her partner had never liked the businessman, and now that she knew Clark was also Superman, that was another reason to take his views seriously.

"I've always thought so." Clark confirmed her guess.

"Looks like we have some work to do, partner," Lois said, hugging him.

"We do. But first…" Clark turned her towards him again, enfolding her in his arms. "We've got another chance, Lois, you and me," he murmured huskily. "The world isn't ending after all. And we've found one another. I think that's something to celebrate."

"Definitely." She reached up and caressed his face.

"I can see the future now," he murmured, his lips close to hers. "And it looks wonderful."

"Just perfect," she whispered, and then no more words were necessary.

Their future was just beginning.


(Sorry, Elena! <g>)

~ The Elena Ending ~

"Everything is different! The way you see me is different!"

"It's not. Look, Lois, does my being Superman change everything for you?"

She took a moment to mull over his question before she replied. "I guess it does. I don't mean I think any less of you. In fact, I probably admire you even more now that I know you're a… well, normal guy." The pink shade colouring her cheeks made her awkwardness obvious. "But it doesn't change us being friends."

"And it's the same with me. I still see, and have always seen, Lois Lane, ace reporter at the Daily Planet. My best friend. My *close* friend. And… maybe even more than that."


Even more than close friends. He was offering her a way in — a way to admit to herself and him that there was more to their relationship than a couple of colleagues who seemed to hit it off pretty well.

Could she do this? Say the scary words? She'd insisted they have this conversation, and now here she was, right where she'd wanted to be. Funny how that seemed to make it harder, not easier.

And in a short space of time, both of them might be smashed to pulp by a huge lump of rock. Well, she would be — she wasn't so sure that he would. Come to think of it, shouldn't he be contacting EPRAD to say he was back and ready to take another shot at the asteroid?!

He was looking at her expectantly, waiting for her to respond to his leading remark. Surely it was the right time to take a few risks.

"I'd…" She swallowed nervously; even if it was the end of the world, this was difficult! "I'd like it to be more," she replied, and felt his hand tighten on her own.

"Really?" he said huskily. "You really mean that?"

"I do," she said, and brought his hand slowly up to her lips to kiss his knuckles. She eyed him over his fingers and saw his expression intensify.

"Lois…" he murmured, leaning closer to her. She felt herself pulled towards him, as if a magnet were drawing her into his body. His face came closer — she felt his breath on her skin — and then their lips were touching at last.

He was so gentle; so tender. His arm slid around her back, she wrapped her arms around his large body, and they kissed softly and slowly. The world melted away and she forgot about everything else except Clark and the feeling that, finally, she'd found the man she truly loved.

Even the room seemed to grow darker as their kiss intensified. That corny phrase, 'the earth moved', appeared to hold some truth, because she could swear she felt the sofa tremble and shake beneath them. There were even flashing lights and angels singing…or was that people screaming?

"Clark…" she murmured, pulling away a little.

"Mmmm," he replied, drawing her back for another stunning kiss.

She glanced out of the window over his shoulder. It really was becoming dark out there! "Clark," she said again.

"I know, I love you too," he said.

"Maybe, but-"


Requiem Aeternum…

Really The End

(c) Wendy Richards, Kaethel and YC, 2002.