By Fin Li <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: April 2006
Summary: Life in Metropolis is often dangerous, and for Lois and Clark especially so. Will the new villain in town succeed in his diabolical plan to rid the world of Superman and Lois Lane?
"Come on, Clark, where are you," Lois muttered under her breath, tapping her foot impatiently as she listened to the phone ring repeatedly on the other end of the line. With every ring she became more and more irritated.
Being around Clark gave her a wonderful feeling, but the relationship was more complicated than she'd ever thought it would be. He had become increasingly distracted lately, not to mention scarce. He was always running off when she needed his help or, she rolled her eyes, when she had something important to say.
"Well," she thought determinedly to herself as she straightened the jacket of her navy blue suit. "When this assignment is over, I'm going to have a little chat with Mr. Kent."
Meanwhile, at the Daily Planet, the phone on Clark Kent's desk rang for the seventh time before he finally reached it. Looking around the newsroom he was surprised and grateful to see that it was so empty. Even Perry was nowhere to be seen. Pushing the thought out of his mind, he buttoned the last two buttons on his shirt, and picked up the phone.
"Clark Kent," he answered, adjusting his necktie and shrugging into his dark charcoal jacket.
"Clark," an urgent voice answered. "Where have you been; I've been calling you for the past five minutes."
He winced; it was Lois and she sounded really mad. He frantically searched for a good excuse. "Uh, sorry Lois, I must have dozed off." He winced again, pulling the phone away from his ear slightly as her exasperated voice blasted through the phone.
"What! You dozed off!!! We are supposed to be investigating a story and you DOZED OFF!"
He pushed his hand through his thick, black hair, frustrated that once again he had to lie about what he had been doing. He loved Lois more than anything else in the world and it killed him to have to be dishonest with her in any way. He wanted to tell her the truth, the truth that he had just saved a busload of children from sliding off the road across town and then had diverted a toxic chemical spill. But because he hadn't had the guts to tell her the one very important detail about himself…that he was Superman, he would just have to endure her bad mood.
"Look, I'm in Mr. Lock's office at the Lex tower and I've been doing some snooping around." Her hushed voice snapped him back to the present. "And" she continued, "I think he has been lying about not having any involvement with Intergang. I found some files that seem to link him to the organization, but I can't be sure. He's been a lot more careful in concealing his involvement than most crime bosses we've investigated. We need to do some more digging, so get over here right away."
"Lois", he interrupted her. "You need someone to watch your back." You should have waited for me."
"Yes, I do need someone to watch my back, Clark," she hissed. "My part-ner" she emphasized the word. "You do remember what a partner is don't you?" she asked sarcastically. "You know the person who is there for you, and is in the relationship 50-50. Like in a marriage."
"Ok, ok." He tried to calm her down. Guilt needled at him, she wasn't just talking about being reporters, but also about their struggling relationship. He silently vowed to himself that he would make it right, somehow, but right now he had other considerations. "I'll be there as soon as I can, just be careful," he cautioned her.
He'd started to hang up when his super hearing picked up voices coming from outside the room she was in. "Lois — " He tried to sound calm. " — I would feel better if you got out of there. Go wait for me in the lobby, I'll only be a few minutes," he pleaded with her.
"Relax, Clark," she replied casually, flipping through some more papers. "He won't be back for hours, there is some big business convention going on downstairs." She glanced at her watch. "And I know for a fact that he is giving a speech at this very moment." She sounded brazenly confident. "Besides, I've only been in his office for a few minutes. I still have some…" Her sentence was cut short and she went quiet as she heard the doorknob turn.
"Lois, get out of there!!" Clark pleaded with her, but it was too late.
The door burst open behind her and Lois spun around, feeling like a kid who had been caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar. Mr. Trent Lock, Metropolis's newest billionaire strolled towards her. He was a thin, gangly man with straight black hair, who reminded her of Ichabod Crane, nothing at all like the suave Lex Luthor she had almost… She forced her thoughts back to the man in front of her.
"Hello, Miss Lane, " he said casually in a hoarse raspy voice.
His close-set, beady black eyes, gazed coldly at her over a long, narrow nose. A nose that, when he turned his head to the side, looked large enough to be a sail. "I hope you have a good explanation for being in my private office." His voice sounded strangled.
Lois laughed nervously, dropping the phone onto the desk, missing putting it back on the cradle.
"Mr. Lock, I'm so glad we could finally meet," she gushed, trying to sound as professional as possible. "I was just using your phone to call my partner and, uh, remind him of our, uh, meeting. Yeah, that's what I was doing. I hope you don't mind." She smiled her most charming smile.
Mr. Lock, obviously unconvinced by her story, circled around his desk, picking up the phone, slowly wiping it off with his handkerchief. Lois backed away toward the door, ready to run, but let out a startled yelp when she bumped into a huge man who had quietly stalked up behind her. He grabbed her wrist. She used one of her martial arts moves to free herself, but found herself imprisoned in two powerful arms instead.
"Idiot," she scolded herself for getting caught so easily. She craned her neck to look up at the mountain of a man that held her. "You really should skip a meal every once in a while. Somewhere there is a small county going hungry," she chided him as she continued to kick and struggle against his unbreakable grip.
"Enough, Miss Lane." Mr. Lock's loud but squeaky voice ceased her wriggling. Nodding to the human vice that held her, he dismissed them with a wave of his hand. "Show Miss Lane to our "guest" room where she can wait until her partner shows up."
Back at the Daily Planet, Clark had continued to listen, gripping the phone so hard he could feel it starting to crack. "Lois?" he called to her but realized he wasn't going to get an answer. He heard Mr. Lock pick up the phone and then the connection went dead. He shook his head to himself. The woman had a knack for getting into trouble. Slamming the phone down, shattering it into a thousand pieces, he raced for the ramp leading to the elevator, pulling at his tie and shirt. His only thought was that Lois needed him.
Lois paced the floor of the empty room, listening to her own footsteps. She tried to think of a way to warn Clark. "But how?"? He was walking into a trap. She had already investigated every nook and cranny of the room, but there were no furnishings, nothing she could use as a weapon or tool. She wrapped her arms around herself. "Come on, Lois, think."
Tiptoeing to the large wooden door that separated the room she was in from an adjoining one, she pressed her ear to it, straining to hear any sounds. She had heard muffled voices a few minutes ago, followed by maniacal laughter, then something falling to the floor with a heavy thud. Her mind raced. "What if it was Clark, what if they had already done something to him?" She reined in her runaway thoughts for the moment. She didn't have time for that right now. Wringing her hands, she stepped back. What was she going to do?
She didn't have long to wonder, as Mr. Lock and his lackey returned. Having had little time to think about her options, and they being few, she took the moment they entered the room to make a dash for the door, only to once again be caught and imprisoned by one of Laurence's meaty hands.
"What's going on here?" She managed to sound more in control than she felt.
Mr. Lock held up his hand to silence her. He leaned casually against the wall, glancing at his watch before he continued.
"Before I came to Metropolis, Miss Lane, I did some research, and I discovered that you, Mr. Kent, Superman and the Daily Planet have been at the center of bringing down every criminal organization that has sought to operate here."
He paused, seemingly intent on a speck of lint on his expensive suit, brushing at it as he continued. "I've also learned how all of these organizations tried to destroy Superman, using lights, robots, bombs, bullets — " He counted them off on his fingers. " — you name it."
Pushing himself away from the wall, he came to stand in front of her. "But you -" His bony finger pointed at her face. " — you and your meddlesome friends always managed to help him. And that — " He pointed towards the ceiling as if a light bulb had suddenly appeared over his head. " — has given me great insight into determining how I am going to deal with anyone who seeks to interfere with my inevitable rise to power."
Lois kept her voice calm as she struggled again against the crushing hold the muscle-bound moron had her in. "I hope this means you're packing your bags and slithering back under the rock you crawled out from under." She spat her words at him.
He didn't even acknowledge that she had spoken, but instead strolled to the door she had been pressed against only a moment ago.
"No, Miss Lane." He shook his head as if he were talking to some dim-witted person. "I'm not going to run, and I'm not going to play games. I'm going with what I know works. Starting with…" He swung the large door open and Lois gasped.
Lying on the floor, writhing in pain was Metropolis's very own super hero. She tried to go to him, but was stopped by the hand clamped around her arm. Their eyes met and Superman struggled to his feet. She could see in his anguished expression that his only thought was to protect her. He lunged in her direction but the shackles around his wrists snapped him back.
Momentarily confused as to why he hadn't easily broken free, Lois's eyes followed the chains to where they were connected to the biggest chunk of Kryptonite she had ever seen. She sucked in her breath in horrified surprise. Roughly the size of a large tree stump, and giving off its characteristic eerie green glow, it anchored the Man Of Steel to the other end of the room where he sank to his knees, his face contorted in pain.
Lois fought frantically to free herself, without success. She had to help him get free. She knew what the Kryptonite was doing to him. It was killing him and she couldn't let that happen. The world needed Superman… She needed him.
"You see, Miss Lane," Mr. Lock continued as if he where teaching a class, pacing slowly back and forth between his two captives, rubbing his hands together gleefully, "I know that Kryptonite will kill Superman. It's simple, direct and gets the job done. No fuss no muss. With him gone, I will destroy Clark Kent and the Daily Planet. Then my syndicate can move in, take over Metropolis and then…" He raised his arms high, fists clenched, laughing hysterically. "The world."
"You do know you're crazy don't you?" Lois informed him matter-of-factly.
"Now," he continued smugly, clapping his hands together. "I must go. I have guests to attend to."
For an instant, Lois thought that he had forgotten he was going to kill her. A flicker of hope flashed through her mind. She held her breath as he walked out the door. Laurence's hold on her loosened and she relaxed her body, waiting for the right moment to bolt.
"Laurence, let's not forget Miss Lane," called Mr. Lock from outside the room.
The hand on Lois's arm tightened and she felt a pinch on her arm. Laurence smirked at her, pocketing the syringe he had injected her with.
"Poison." He wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Quick and easy. Should be interesting to see who gets to watch who die." He nonchalantly stepped around her. "Sweet dreams," he whispered before following his boss through the door.
Lois grabbed her arm as an intense burning sensation crept from her wrist to her elbow, then to her shoulder. The door closed softly behind her and she looked back across the room to where Superman was still kneeling on the floor, watching her, his face full of pain and determination.
"Lois," was all he could grunt before he was visibly overcome by another wave of dizziness.
All the feeling had suddenly gone out of Lois's arms and legs. Her knees buckled beneath her and she sank to the floor. Fear momentarily gripped her, fear of dying without ever seeing Clark again. She gritted her teeth, she wasn't going to allow that to happen.
Through sheer determination she dragged herself a short distance towards Superman. She had to help him. "Come on, Lois, move," she silently yelled at herself. Somehow she would get to him, he would get free and she would be safe. She took comfort in that thought.
She had almost reached him when she collapsed, breathing heavily. The poison was coursing through her veins, making her insides feel as if they were on fire. Her body was betraying her; her limps didn't obey what her mind was screaming. But she wouldn't give up; she just needed to rest for a moment.
Superman pulled and thrashed trying to free himself from the irons that held him. Something he could have crushed like a tin can, had they not been attached to the deadly glowing rock that was rapidly sapping his life force. He glanced at Lois as she lay on the floor, now only mere feet away. Her breathing was labored, her face ashen. He had watched as she had doggedly pushed and pulled her way to him. The sheer terror in her dark brown eyes cut him deeper and more painfully than what any amount of Kryptonite could. But she counted on him to rescue her when she was in danger. Even now he knew she had hope.
So he flung himself in her direction again and again. Each time dragging the rock with him inch by excruciating inch. But being this close to such a huge piece of Kryptonite the pain was excruciating and his strength was draining faster than it ever had.
He concentrated, trying to combine his will and strength for another lunge. "Just a few more feet," he told himself. But he collapsed, exhausted, his heart beating loudly in his ears. Raising his head off the hardwood floor his eyes again searched Lois's. His heart lurched. Her eyes no longer met his, but were strangely fixed in a far away gaze.
"NOOOO! Lois!" he screamed.
He called out to her over and over, each time frantically clawing the remaining distance to her now still form, his fingers scratching gouges into the floor.
"Lois!" His anguished call went unanswered. With a frustrated growl he used his remaining strength to gather her limp body into his arms. He cradled her gently, his hand cupping her face, his thumb caressing her cheek. He listened; her heartbeat was very slow.
"Lois," he sobbed, burying his face in her neck, rocking her gently. His heart ached with the sorrow of knowing there was nothing he could do now. She was dying. Dying without ever knowing who he really was and how much he loved her. Pulling back again, he gently pushed some hair out of her face with his fingers. He closed his eyes, no longer fighting the toxic energy radiating from the Kryptonite as it seeped into his body, spreading like a cancer, taking his life. Just like the poison was taking hers.
He pressed his lips softly to hers, a tear slowly sliding down his strong face.
"I love you, Lois," he whispered into her ear.
Her eyes fluttered open. "C-Clark?" She took one last breath.
"NOOOOO!" Clark sat straight up in bed, a pillow clutched to his heaving, sweat-covered chest. It took him a few moments to realize that he was in his apartment. He pushed back the covers and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Resting his elbows on his shaking legs, he cradled his head in his hands as he fought to control his ragged breathing.
Never had he had a dream that was so vivid and real. His stomach felt tight and his heart was beating unusually fast.
"It was just a bad dream," he tried to reassure himself. Lois was at home right now, safe, asleep in her bed.
He stood up, arms dropping to his sides, hands clenched. He had to be sure.
In the next instant, he was dressed in his blue and red suit, a supersonic blur streaking through the warm night air until he was hovering outside her open window. The curtain billowed inward from the air he had disturbed. Fighting the urge to climb in, he scanned the apartment with his x-ray vision, until he found her sleeping form curled up in the covers. Taking a slow deep breath, he felt almost giddy with relief, and running his hands through his tousled hair, he bowed his head in thankful silence.
Convinced that she was indeed safe he turned to leave, but lingered for a moment longer, watching her stir, sighing softly as she shifted under the covers.
Then, slowly, raising one arm over his head, he rose up into the bright starlit sky.
"It was just a bad dream."