By David <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted August 2005
Summary: What if? What if Lois had said no in the episode "The House of Luthor" and the cavalry never arrived to save her? What if they'd never tried to arrest Lex? What if he'd never taken a dive off the balcony of the tallest building in Metropolis? What if Lois said no and had to deal with it? What then?
By The Artist Formerly Known as IAmNotAWriter aka David
Ok, and here it is… The thank you list. The one that's most definitely too long for a twenty-five page story.
You'd think I was writing an epic with the amount of people I consulted! ;)
Firstly, my most favourite BR, Madam Kraft. Sara, sweet, sweet Sara. Always there to ask me to torture Clark more. To show you some pain. Always there with a comment on the comma. Always there, sleepily reading my scribble and helping me make sense of it. You know I can't write a word without you, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Sas, my amazingly amazing Artistic Advisor. My great un-sticker. My great… well, you get it. ;) Thanks for letting me run ideas by you, for gluing my fingers to the keyboard and for smacking me repeatedly. :)
Sarah, my impromptu BR. For BRing on the fly whenever I was stuck. :) And thanks, heaps, for rubbing in how many pages you'd written. :P (BTW, when do I get to see that story, huh?)
Rachie! Baby! Thanks for being there when this story was a wee lass, telling me that no, it doesn't suck and yes, I should keep writing. :)
Jackie! For being my sounding board and guinea pig late at night, and most of all thanks for making me feel like I could actually do it, and letting me know that no matter how much I thought it was horrible you loved it. :)
Avia, the official guinea pig! For volunteering to be my crash dummy. :)
The IRCsters. For telling me everything I always knew I never wanted to know about make-up… ;)
And finally Sorcha. Sorcha, Sara, etc, etc, Darlin' without whom this story would never have come to pass.
Here it is, good or bad, it's yours.
Your story. Your chance to gloat. Your moment of glory. I just hope it's up to par. :)
And for the record — I still think I got the better end of the deal. ;)
Last one — Thanks Janet, for being a fabulous GE and tackling this monster. :)
So without further ado…
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God and the presence of these witnesses to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony."
Lois looked around slowly. All those people, the hundreds of faces she didn't know. Here to watch her marry Lex. To watch them be joined.
The Archbishop continued to speak as she looked at him, smiled nervously and looked away.
'Speak now,' he'd said.
The little voice at the back of her head was telling her to. To speak, to walk, to run, to flee… while she could.
But she didn't.
Her decision had been made. Her mind was made up. She had promised to marry this man. All these people were here to watch her marry this man.
The voice was relentless.
'Run,' it said, heedless of her decision. Of her made mind. 'Run, while you still can.'
"Do you, Lex, take this woman to be your wedded bride from this day forward…" The Archbishop continued, unaware of her internal struggle.
'It's too late,' she reminded herself. 'Too late.' Her decision had been made.
Lex looked at her, his gaze steady.
He didn't hold her eyes long. His mouth slid into an almost smile.
Shouldn't she be smiling?
Shouldn't she be happy?
His answer was directed at the Archbishop.
Simple, strong, confident.
She'd known what his answer would be.
Her mind was made up.
She was here to marry this man.
She would learn to smile.
She didn't need to be happy.
All these people were here to witness.
She would marry this man.
Her mind was made up.
"…for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…" The Archbishop was talking again, at her this time. Looking at her. Watching her. They all were. All these witnesses. "…to love and to cherish until death do you part?"
All these people, here to witness her promise to love Lex. To honour Lex. To cherish Lex. All these strangers, to witness a lie.
"I…" Her mind was made up. All these people. Her mother. "I…"
"Lois?" Lex whispered, concerned. His earlier confidence vanished.
She stood in front of the hundreds of strangers. She stood in the sight of God.
Ready to lie.
Her mind was made up.
He lay slumped, curled in on himself and struggling against the pain.
The air was thick with the unearthly green glow.
It was suffocating. He was suffocating.
He groaned weakly.
His body was dying, slowly, painfully in the shadow of his dead world.
The wedding march sliced through his head, cutting through the heavy silence. It was impossible that he was hearing it.
Maybe he was imagining it. Maybe he was insane. Delirious from the kryptonite exposure.
Clark shifted, biting his lip against the pain. It was impossible. Wasn't it?
Though, if there was anything he should have learnt in the last year, it was that impossible was a relative term when it came to Lois Lane.
He ignored the pain soaking into his bones as every fibre of his being combined, screaming out to him as one voice. 'Stop it,' they cried.
If he was insane, he was desperately so.
'Save her,' they shouted.
His will to survive, to continue, to fight was long gone.
'Save her,' they screamed nonetheless. 'Stop the wedding.'
Clark moved without thinking, tearing the cummerbund into strips, expending precious energy.
He wasn't too late.
He could save her.
He had to save her.
His lungs burned, the green fire seeping through his skin.
The kryptonite bathed him in the deathly reminder of his home world.
His makeshift rope, supported by a column of air, crept towards the wine barrel. Its progress was agonisingly slow.
The kryptonite burned.
Slowly. Searing. Scarring. Killing him.
The end wrapped around the ring and he pulled desperately as he collapsed into a ball of bone-wracking coughs. The key, finally, thankfully, tumbled to the floor.
'Save her,' the voices echoed. 'Save her.'
The wedding march ended.
*"Yes, I'm sorry. The Pope had a prior engagement."*
Clark sucked in a shaky breath.
*"You look beautiful."*
'Hurry,' they screamed. 'Save her.'
He dragged himself towards the edge of the cage slowly, his fingers scraping on the concrete floor beneath him.
Every inch he earned intensified the pain.
He flinched, snapping his hand back as it brushed against one of the bars.
He reached again.
*"… If any man knows why this union should not take place…"*
The spandex offered no protection from the sickly radiation as the bars cut into his arm. Searing. Burning. Poisoning.
The pain was tangible, weighing down his limbs, slowing his movements.
He pushed on.
He couldn't stop. Couldn't think. Couldn't breathe.
Time was slipping away, and he was suffocating.
The key was just out of his reach. Too far away.
He grunted as he pulled back, not taking the time to cradle his arm. He stood. Staggered back. And ran into the bars. Everything he had left. One last stand.
'Save her,' they cried desperately.
No. No. No.
*"And do you, Lois, take this man…"*
The realisation was like a knife to his gut… He was too late.
He rolled over, curling into a foetal position.
Nothing had prepared him for this. This level of pain. This level of agony. Nothing could.
The last of his reserves bled out of him. Abandoning him to his fate.
Clark covered his ears. Desperate. He couldn't listen. He didn't want to listen.
But he couldn't stop.
He was Superman. Invulnerable. Invincible.
Waiting to die.
He'd failed her.
'NO!' the voice screamed. 'No!'
He had nothing.
He couldn't save her. The woman he'd die for.
He had no reason left.
And then she gave him one. She saved herself.
In the end she'd had nobody.
None of her friends had come. Not one.
She'd had nobody, barring a room full of strangers. A room full of shocked strangers.
And her horrified fiance. Ex-fiance.
"Lois, what do you want to do with the dress?"
And her mother.
She didn't answer. She didn't need to. Her mother could decide what to do with the dress. What to do with the gifts. What to do with the tabloids. She was staying in her apartment. Sitting in her bathroom. And locking the doors. She didn't need them anyway.
She stared at her reflection.
The little bride that wasn't.
The veil was gone, the dress… Her hair was a mess. Her make-up ruined.
This was the woman who'd said no.
No, she couldn't marry him.
The biggest philanthropist in the city.
The man who loved her.
She couldn't. Because of *him*.
The man she couldn't stop thinking about.
The man who hadn't cared enough to be there.
She picked up the wash cloth.
"Are you all right in there?"
"I'm fine," she called. She was. She would be.
She scrubbed at her face. The bride slowly disappeared.
The bathroom door opened a crack. "Lois?"
Lois turned and smiled weakly. Watery.
"I did the right thing."
Her mother stepped into the room.
There was no reason for her to start crying. None at all. She'd done the right thing.
She leant into her mother's open arms, accepting the comfort she didn't need.
There was no reason. None.
She'd followed her heart… And it'd led her nowhere.
She was hiding. In her bathroom. Sobbing into her mother's arms.
And horribly alone.
He didn't spot the bored tabloid reporters skulking around the shadows of her apartment building.
He didn't see the shocked stares as he stumbled across the street.
He didn't hear the whispers.
He didn't care.
All he saw was her door.
The knock startled her and she spilt her tea. She ignored the tepid liquid as it soaked into her couch, and looked over at her mother.
Her mother, her unexpectedly invaluable mother, who was already on her feet.
"I'll get rid of them," she announced, moving swiftly to the door.
The phone hadn't stopped ringing after they'd returned.
In search of the ultimate gossip. The dirtiest rumour.
Her mother had pulled the phone out of the socket after an hour.
Ready to rip her personal life to shreds. Because of what she'd done. To herself. To Lex.
The spotlight would fade and she'd be yesterday's news.
The woman who'd turned down a billionaire.
The fervour would die soon, she was sure.
She didn't want to know who was at the door. What his name was. What her face looked like. Whoever it was, she didn't want to know.
She shut her eyes. Walked away. Refused to look.
They'd just be a voice. She could ignore a voice.
The Voice knocked again.
"Lois?" it called weakly.
Lois spun around quickly. She knew that voice.
"Lois!" His voice, Clark's voice, called. Insistent. Desperate.
She held her breath.
Clark had come.
He collapsed, falling forward as her mother opened the door.
She opened her mouth but the words died in her throat.
Her heart skipped a beat when she saw him.
When she saw him, lying there, on her floor.
A tangled heap of broken man, blue spandex, and tattered red cape.
Clark didn't want to wake up. Didn't want to open his eyes. Didn't want to move.
His body ached.
His soul ached.
The muscles in his back started to cramp in protest against the hard floor. He flinched.
"What the hell is going on, Clark?" Her voice was calm. Controlled. Cold.
His heart contracted painfully.
Clark opened his eyes. Blinked. Closed them.
The image was burned onto his retina. The green. The bars. The cage.
He blinked again. Shook his head. Grimaced.
He was nauseous.
And still on her floor. A blanket was wrapped around him. Covering him.
He sat up gingerly, his muscles burning with the simple movement. He ignored them.
Lois was sitting on her love seat, her legs folded under herself, cradling a mug.
Staring at him.
At his chest.
The blanket had fallen away.
She was staring at his chest. At his suit. At the emblem.
At his family crest, laid bare before her in a way it never had been before.
He hadn't… he… he'd almost died. He hadn't considered his secret. He'd almost died without her knowing. All those things she may never know. And he loved her. And she'd never have known.
And he'd wanted her to. He *wanted* her to. Because he loved her.
"Lois?" he questioned.
"Clark?" she countered, her eyes still glued to his chest.
He nodded his head, clenched his jaw, swallowed.
He'd wanted her to know. He *wanted* her to know. She knew.
The blanket slipped to the floor as he stood slowly. The room swayed. He stumbled.
She didn't help. Didn't get up. Didn't move.
"We couldn't move you." Her voice was still cold, her eyes still glued to his chest. "You were too heavy."
His head shot up.
The room spun.
"What the hell happened to you?" Her eyes were worried despite her harsh tone.
Kryptonite. Luthor. Cage.
He closed his eyes as the room lurched.
"I was careless." He didn't want her to know. Didn't want to admit. He'd been foolish.
"Are you… ok?"
He noticed the hesitation in her voice. Noticed the emotional war behind her eyes.
Clark nodded his head stiffly, unable to speak. He'd be fine. In a few days. Probably.
She shot him a dark look. The anger won, the ice settling in her eyes its silent victory cry.
"Who was here?" He needed to draw her focus away, needed to find a safer topic.
"I've been sitting here, thinking about all the times you've lied." She ignored his question. "All your lies."
He approached her slowly. Upright because of sheer will alone.
He wouldn't fall again.
Not in front of her.
He couldn't let her see him fall, not after he'd failed her in so many ways already.
"There are so many questions running through my head." A splinter of emotion seeped through the ice in her voice. "But I keep coming back to one."
"Lois?" His voice was a whisper as he sank down next to her.
He reached for her, needed to touch her, to prove she was there.
"Why?" She jerked away from him, avoided his touch. "Why, Clark?"
He recoiled, bitten by her rejection.
He understood it.
Her anger, her hurt.
He understood it on intellectual level. But he needed her.
He was raw. Elemental. Broken.
And he needed her.
Needed to reassure himself. He wasn't dreaming. She was safe. She'd saved herself. She'd saved him.
"Why did you come here, Clark?" Her voice quivered.
"Lois…" He reached for her again, placed his hand over hers. He needed her. Needed to be with her. To be near her. Didn't she know?
She didn't flinch, didn't pull away, didn't relax her white knuckled grip on the coffee mug.
"Why did you come here dressed like that?"
"What do you mean?" he asked, looking down at himself. At his torn suit. His tarnished crest.
He'd fallen. Stumbled. Torn his suit. He'd stopped only when he had to, when he could barely breathe.
He'd needed to see her. To tell her. She'd saved him.
He was hardly the image of a Superman.
But she knew.
She had to know.
He let go of her hand as she pulled away. Stood up. Paced.
"Why stop lying?" she asked, gesturing with the mug she was still holding. "Why today?"
The coffee sloshed dangerously.
"Why on my would-be wedding day?"
He didn't know how to respond.
He'd almost died.
Almost died without her knowing. Without her knowing him. Almost died a liar. Almost died a lie.
"It didn't seem important anymore." His voice was a whisper.
"Didn't seem important?" She exploded as she swung around to face him. "How is this not important?"
He flinched, expecting to be burnt by the coffee that'd escaped the mug, but it was cold. Ice cold.
He took the mug from her and placed it on the coffee table as he stood and gently pulled her towards him.
He didn't know how to explain. She'd saved him. And he loved her. That was all that seemed important.
But he didn't know how to tell her, and so he just held her as she stood stiffly in his arms.
His ears strained to pick up her mumbled words.
She twisted away from him suddenly, easily.
"You're not real." Her voice was sharp.
It cut through him. "Lois…" His voice was raw. Cracked. He reached for her again. He was real.
"No, Clark." She stepped out of his reach.
"Don't." Her eyes flashed ice. "You're not real."
The knife in his gut twisted.
"I gave it all up for you, because of you," her voice wavered, "and you're not even real."
He wanted to reach for her. Wanted to touch her. Wanted to tell her. But he couldn't.
He was suffocating. Again.
She saw his eyes flicker towards the door.
The door her mother had abandoned her through not even an hour earlier.
It had been too much for her. The wedding. The… this. The man crumpled on her polished floors.
She hadn't noticed what her mother said while dashing out the door.
She was just… gone.
Lois had expected it to happen sooner rather than later anyway. Ellen had to return to being *her* mother instead of *a* mother sometime. And so she'd left. Fled. Leaving her alone with Clark. Or Superman.
She probably thought her daughter was delusional.
She probably was.
Lois hadn't known what to do with the man lying on her floor. The man that should have been Clark but… couldn't be.
The man that couldn't be Superman, but was.
The man who'd turned out to be both.
She couldn't take him to a hospital. She couldn't call for help.
His pulse had been strong. His breathing was clear. She'd covered him with a blanket not knowing what else to do.
She'd waited for him to wake up.
An eternity of minutes.
And it'd fallen into place… Her should-be-Clark who was Superman. And his lies.
He still looked pale. Weakened. He'd said he was fine.
She bit her bottom lip.
He'd said so. Another in a long line of lies.
"Maybe I should go." His voice was soft.
His eyes flickered towards the door again but he made no move to leave.
She wanted him to. She wanted to throw him out herself. She wanted to tell him to leave and never come back.
And she wanted to grab onto him and never let go.
She'd given so much up for him. Given up a life with a man who loved her. For him. For Clark. Because she loved him. And he wasn't real.
She couldn't love him.
She didn't know him.
Ice. She needed to be ice. Needed to protect herself from him, from his lies.
From his touch.
He didn't love her.
He'd never loved her.
And she couldn't love him.
She should hate him.
But he looked lost. Standing there. Waiting for absolution she couldn't give.
Lois stared at the floor.
She wanted to hate him.
He'd done nothing but lie to her.
But she loved him.
He collapsed back onto the couch, leaned forward, drew a deep breath. He looked defeated, his shoulders sagging, his head cradled in his hands.
"Why today, Clark?" Her voice was controlled.
She was in control.
"You saved me today."
He looked up and caught her eyes. She could see the tears in his.
He was a fake.
Lois sucked in a deep breath. All those lies. All that time.
She wouldn't melt at his crocodile tears. Lois closed her eyes. Her stomach twisted with uncertainty.
He was a liar.
She wanted to hate him. But she didn't.
"You saved me." He repeated. "I would have died. I… I was ready to, but I heard you."
She didn't know how to respond.
"I almost died without you knowing. All the reasons I had for not telling you didn't seem important anymore."
She shook her head, confused.
"You can't die. You're… you're you." Clark couldn't die.
His eyes narrowed.
"I'm real, Lois. I can die." His voice was laced with bitterness. "Superman isn't a god. He's a costume."
And pain. Even through the anger she could hear the pain in his voice.
She ignored it. Ice. She had to be like ice.
Lois turned away from him. Liar. He was a liar.
He wasn't real.
When he'd sat opposite from her in the newsroom. When they'd laughed.
When she'd cried.
When he'd held her. Cradled her. Comforted her.
Nothing had been real.
Not when he'd told her she was special. When he told her he loved her.
Not… when he'd collapsed on her floor. Broken. Beaten.
She could see him out of the corner of her eye. She turned towards him slightly and her breath caught despite herself.
He looked sad. Devastated.
"It's too late, isn't it?" His voice was a cracked whisper. "I know it's too late."
He moved towards the door slowly.
She died a little with every step he took.
She wanted him to leave, but she desperately wanted him to stay.
She closed her eyes, couldn't watch him walk out. She knew, if he left, he may never come back.
She heard the knob turn. Heard the door open.
She hated him, but she loved him.
She opened her eyes and froze.
In the doorway, blocking Clark's exit was her very stunned ex- fiance.
Clark could see it, the slowly dawning realisation on Luthor's face.
Clark could see the wheels turning in the man's devious mind. Could see the confusion in his eyes harden into cold fury. Could pinpoint the moment when it clicked into place.
Clark could feel the panic rising.
No. No. No.
"Brilliant, really." His tone was scathing. "I never would have considered you'd stoop to living such a deplorable existence. The great Superman." Luthor advanced, pushing into the room. "A pathetic mortal."
His movements were rough. Ungraceful. His hard eyes glassy. Red.
The smell of alcohol burned Clark's nostrils.
Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead.
Wine. Luthor. Green. Cage. Pain.
He could see the mad glint in the older man's eyes. The tension in his muscles. Like a snake ready to strike.
A wave of nausea rolled over Clark, and he stumbled backwards. Away from him. From his snake eyes. His superior sneer.
His skin itched. His eyes burned with memory. Green.
He couldn't breathe. He was back in the cage again. Only… it was worse.
He knew, and Clark's parents, his friends, Lois… they were all in there with him. Waiting to die.
Clark clenched his jaw. Against the pain. Against his fear. His lingering terror.
It was over. The costume. The character. The facade.
And he was dead. They all were.
"You're pathetic," Luthor spat out.
He moved closer. Arrogant. Confident. Furious.
Clark lurched forward, his stomach twisting painfully.
Pain. Green. Luthor.
Remembered. Real. New.
There. Suddenly. Dangling in front of him on a gold chain.
He collapsed, falling onto his hands and knees.
Leaning in. His breath staining Clark's face. Choking him.
"Lex?" Lois's horrified voice sliced through the moment.
Who was still standing somewhere behind him. Who was witness to the moment. The snake and the mouse.
Who wouldn't understand.
Because he hadn't told her. She wouldn't believe him. She'd never believe him.
Whom he had to protect. From Luthor. From herself.
Clark saw Luthor flinch at the sound of her voice. Saw the flicker in the man's eyes. As if he'd forgotten.
Forgotten she was there. Forgotten he was in her home.
Clark saw the change. The last fibres of his barely tethered control snapping. As if he'd just remembered.
Remembered how she'd turned him down. Remembered how she'd demeaned him.
He stood up. Stepped towards her. His muscles coiled.
Ready to snap.
As if he'd just remembered he'd sought her out. Come to her home.
Armed with kryptonite.
"How did you know I was here?" Clark's voice was raw. Desperate. He turned painfully, hoping he was right.
Hoping that Luthor was here for him and not Lois.
That Luthor would focus on him and not Lois.
That he'd focus on him, and she'd escape.
That she'd survive.
Luthor was looking at him, his fists clenched.
The tightness in Clark's chest loosened. He was looking at him, and not Lois.
"Did you think I wouldn't find you?" Luthor hissed.
He moved closer.
"I own the news." He circled around. "The reporters. The underground. Nothing happens without my knowledge."
Pain exploded in Clark's side as Luthor's shoe connected. Sharp. Crushing.
"Did you think I wouldn't find you? Here, of all places?"
Cracking. Ribs. Fire.
Spots swam before his eyes as he landed heavily on the floor.
"Did you think I wouldn't come for what was mine?"
Luthor. Close. Looming.
"Nobody steals from me and gets away with it."
His face was hidden by shadow as the darkness clouded Clark's vision.
"First my kill, then my victory, and now I find that you've stolen her, my prize."
"What the hell is going on?" Lois asked.
Clark clenched his jaw. Closed his eyes. Forced himself to breathe.
He couldn't give up. Couldn't let Luthor win.
Couldn't let Lois down. Again.
Her hands were on his shoulders.
He struggled to sit up, but the light touch of her hands held him still.
"Have you lost your mind, Lex?" She sounded confused. Crushed. As if she'd realised everything she'd known to be true wasn't.
As if she'd realised he wasn't the only liar in her life.
As if she'd realised…
And her hands were on his shoulders.
"No." Luthor hissed. "For the first time since I've met you, my dear, I'm thinking clearly."
He felt her gasp.
He needed to concentrate. Needed to get up. Needed to be strong. To protect her. To protect himself. His family. His life.
But he couldn't.
The darkness was weighing him down.
The green. The deadly glow searing his skin. The fire in his side. Every breath, fire.
He wasn't ready. Not yet. Not anymore. But her hands were weighing him down.
"What are you talking about?" Her voice was quiet. Distant. Fading.
Clark's eyelids were heavy. He shook his head. He had to be strong. He had to get up.
The flash of steel caught his eye. The glint of metal fangs.
"You must think I'm a fool!" Luthor's laugh was derisive. Hollow.
The gun was aimed above Clark. Over his shoulder.
He sucked in a breath. Determined. Painful. White fire spread up his side and he struggled to sit up. To draw attention to himself.
She squeezed his shoulder.
The gun lowered.
He breathed out.
"Know thy enemy. Knowledge is power, and my power is limitless." Luthor's glassy eyes narrowed. "It was only a matter of time before I found out… you've been laughing at me all along. You and your pathetic Superman."
The cocking of the gun echoed through Clark's head.
"Nobody makes a fool out of me."
"You'll never get away with this!" Clark's voice was strained.
He needed Luthor to focus on him. *Him*.
The gun arm wavered, but didn't lower. Didn't falter from its target.
"Don't be foolish." Luthor hissed. "I *own* this town. There isn't an officer that will arrest me. A DA that will prosecute me. There isn't a judge that will imprison me."
"Not everybody can be bought." Clark sucked in another agonising breath. Breathe. Focus. Him. He needed Luthor to focus on him.
"Of course they can."
Luthor's face was turning red.
The gun dropped. An inch.
Clark clenched his jaw.
He struggled to sit up again. Blinding pain. Ribs. Her hands supported him.
"What are you doing to him?"
"I'm not doing anything, merely providing the comforts of home."
"Y-you're killing him!" He heard the catch in her breath. Wished he could take it away. Wished he could make it better. Wished it wasn't true.
He was going to die. And he wasn't ready.
He moaned as Luthor moved closer. The rock moved closer.
The last thing he'd see.
"You can't kill him…" Lois's voice was distant. "Please… I love him."
His heart clenched painfully.
She loved him.
And the world slowed down. Stopped. He was trapped in a heartbeat.
The silenced gunshot.
His breath caught. Lois.
The voice returned. No.
He could hear the sound of the bullet ripping through skin.
Could feel it tearing through muscle.
And then it was in him.
The echo of his scream ringing in her ears.
The cold hand squeezing her heart.
And his blood. Seeping out of the wound on his thigh. The bullet hole.
It was staining her hands.
The blood of the man she couldn't help but love. Spilt by the man she'd thought she could trust.
Because of her.
She knelt next to him. Pressed against his wound. His feverish skin slick beneath her hands.
He'd lied to her. And she loved him anyway.
Lying there. Bleeding.
He wasn't Clark. He wasn't Superman. He was both and yet… neither. And she loved him anyway.
She had to stop the bleeding.
He'd been right.
She could see his figure out of the corner of her eye.
She tried to blink away the tears. She had to stop the bleeding.
He looked stunned. As if he couldn't believe what he'd done.
And then she saw it. His lips sliding into that almost smile.
The same smile he would have married her with.
She felt her heart harden. They were all liars. The men in her life.
Clark moaned. Muttered something unintelligible.
She leant closer. Tried to make his words out. Strained to hear them. Hoped they weren't his last.
The pain in her chest was unmistakable.
"Save your strength Clark." Her voice was a whisper. "You can tell me later."
She couldn't let him finish. Couldn't let him say good bye.
Couldn't let him give up.
Because some lies were easier to forgive.
"Very touching." Lex interrupted.
She turned to look at him.
The man who'd turned her world upside down for the third time.
Lex… Who sounded like he'd killed before.
Sounded like he relished it.
Like a monster.
His eyes were red.
The gun rose. Steady.
Never drunk. Always in control. He'd told her that once.
"Take his clothes off."
"His suit," Lex hissed. "Take it off."
She looked down. At the suit. At her partner.
"Why?" She asked, not looking up.
"It'll make it easier to dispose of the body." His answer was clipped.
She sucked in a breath.
She shook her head.
Clark wasn't dead.
He shifted beneath her. Slightly.
The bleeding had slowed.
He wasn't dead.
Clark was alive.
She couldn't do it.
She loved him.
And she couldn't.
She glared at Lex and his almost smile.
No. She wouldn't strip him of his dignity.
She couldn't treat him like a piece of expired flesh.
She'd said it twice.
She watched Lex's eyes narrow.
Saw his jaw clench.
His finger twitch.
"That was not a request."
She could feel her anger welling up.
He wasn't dead. Clark wasn't dead and Lex was… thinking in terms of logistics.
"What are you going to do, Lex? Shoot me?"
Stupid, she knew. To provoke him. But she didn't care.
She watched his face.
He didn't flinch.
"No." He lowered the gun slightly. "But I may shoot him again."
Her mouth opened.
"It might not finish the job." His voice was a sneer. "But I promise it will hurt."
He stepped towards them. Eyes ablaze.
She was disgusted. In him. In herself.
She angled herself in front of Clark.
She'd almost married him. Because she hadn't listened. Hadn't wanted to.
Slid into a crouch.
She'd almost slept with the devil because her eyes were closed.
Standing in the doorway Lex had left open.
Always in control.
He turned. Surprised. Shocked.
Her best chance.
She eyed the gun.
He stumbled backwards as she connected. Grabbed at his arm.
Her only chance…
The smell of alcohol assaulted her.
Not in control.
He stumbled backwards.
Unsure of his footing.
But didn't fall.
His grip on the gun didn't loosen.
He spun around. Tried to pull himself free. To push her away.
She stumbled backwards.
Staining her polished floors.
She slipped. Pulled Lex with her.
The gun went off.
The crack of glass echoed in her head around the sound of her heart beating.
Lex landed heavily on top of her.
The gun skittered across the floor.
His body pressed against her.
His breath caressed her lips.
Their legs intertwined.
Their wedding night.
His eyes locked with hers.
"You can't say 'no' to Lex Luthor," he hissed.
He pressed his lips against hers. Hard. Demanding.
It would have been their wedding night.
His body went limp. His head slumped sideways. Dead weight.
She struggled beneath him.
Desperate to push him off her. Away from her.
She wriggled free.
Her mother was standing over her. A stunned expression on her face. An old fashioned black medical bag hanging loosely from her hand.
"I… I didn't mean to…"
Her eyes were glued on Lex's prone figure.
Lois forced herself to look at him.
"No." Her voice was a whisper. "But I'm glad you did."
Clark moaned her name.
The tension bled out of her shoulders and she sagged with relief.
He was still alive.
She moved to his side. Gently brushed the hair off his forehead.
She was trembling.
She stood up, tucked her hands under her arms, and looked at the prone figure of her ex-fiance.
She sucked in a deep breath and looked away.
Steeled her resolve.
She needed to get rid of that rock… she needed to call an ambulance… she needed… Clark.
She bit her lip.
He loved her. And she loved him.
They'd figure out the rest.
Hands brushing through his hair. Lips against his forehead. Soft voices.
He braced himself.
But it didn't come.
His ribs were sore, his leg was on fire, but the deep searing pain was gone.
The kryptonite was gone.
He opened his eyes gingerly.
Her hand stroking his cheek.
He tried to sit up. To reach for her. To touch her.
She grabbed his hand and held it in her own.
"Don't try to move, Clark." He could hear the worry in her voice. "You'll start bleeding again."
"Is Luthor…" His voice trailed off. Unsure.
He saw her tense.
Clark sighed in relief.
"I'm sorry… that you found out this way. I should have told you." He paused and sucked in a painful breath. "About Lex… and about… me."
She relaxed and stroked the hair off his forehead.
"It's okay, Clark… I'll yell at you later."
He closed his eyes.
"Try and relax, the ambulance will be here soon."
A distant voice pricked the back of his mind. He knew he should be worried, but he couldn't remember why.
Lois had saved them.
His eyelids were heavy.
Her hand was stroking his forehead. Soothing.
She was safe.
And he was tired.
He let the tension flow out of his muscles.
"I love you, Lois."
The hand stroking his hair stilled, and he opened his eyes.
He squeezed the hand still holding his own.
She was safe.
And she loved him.
He closed his eyes.
They could deal with everything else tomorrow.
Tomorrow, they'd put everything back together.
Now, before anybody brings out those pitchforks… I'll explain why I decided to end this story here. I realise there are a lot of unresolved questions, but the answers to these questions are… long term. They can't be solved in the immediate future. And since the story is so immediate I decided to leave them… for the sequel.