By Emerald Shine (email@example.com)
Summary: A magical figure helps Clark decide what to do about Lois, while an escaped Jason Mazik plots revenge.
I would like to thank Zoomway and Dick Sudbury for their help with some name spelling. Also, thank you to Diane Elliot, for always being there!:)
This story is a crossover with a character from a story I wrote last summer, called "The Curse". It was not an L&C story, but I thought the main character, Ayvoriah, could be used in a fanfic. This story takes place after ATAI, supposing Jason Mazick had managed to escape from prison. This time, he's out for revenge...
Jason T. Mazick was pacing restlessly. Yet another sleepless night - plans for all things great had crumbled. Damn Clark Kent - Superman - or whatever he was calling himself these days! It was his fault that Jace was lacking sleep. Too many nights had been spent in hiding, wondering, worrying if Clark was going to find him. Jace laughed bitterly. His very own fate controlled by a man who wore his underwear on the outside of his tights!
If only his original plan hadn't failed. Jace hated failure, and was not one to admit when things had gone wrong. But there was no denying it this time - he had blown it. And the fact that Lois Lane and Clark Kent were still alive very much confirmed it.
How had they gotten away with it? He had been certain Lois was dead. He had seen her looking undeniably ready for burial into a shallow grave. He had felt her ice cold skin, and reveled in the moment. He thought he'd killed Superman as well - left him for dead with his parents in the chamber of kryptonite hell. He remembered what a powerful rush it had been for him, causing the Man of Steel to writhe in pain. Success had been his - and his alone. Nigel was dead - got too much into the drink. Jace had been amused. Television commercials always warned you of the dangers of drinking. One capful was all it took if you were drinking with him.
Now, the only one who really *was* dead was Nigel. Clark, Lois, and those annoyingly perfect farm-dwellers, Martha and Jonathan, were once again traipsing around, believing all was just hunky-dory. Well, wouldn't they be in for a surprise? *Nobody* crossed Jason T. Mazick, especially not a self- righteous superhero with bad fashion sense! They would pay. Pay dearly.
"Clark," Lois Lane was saying, "I want to say yes. I really do! And I don't want to hurt you, but somehow..."
Clark Kent felt as if someone had punched him in the stomach. Hurt? Yeah, inside he knew that if Lois turned down his proposal, he might never heal. He *needed* her, and surely she must know that! They had been through so much together these past few days, that Clark knew things may never be the same. That was what prodded him to take the next step. He was tired of being a zombie - he wanted to live for the moment. So what made him suddenly want to turn back the clock to a safer, more secure time?
Lois took a deep breath. With all her heart, she simply wanted to throw herself into his arms and scream yes so loudly, they'd both be deaf! Yet, she had this nagging feeling that Clark was keeping something from her. Lois knew that if she concentrated hard enough, she could figure out just what that something was. For now though, she needed time. "...Somehow, I just can't. Not yet, anyway. I keep feeling like... like... like maybe you're not telling me everything. Like maybe there's some truth untold. I love you, Clark, and I *do* want to marry you! Until I shake this feeling though, I can't give you an answer. I need to think about a few things." Yawning wildly, she leaned against Clark, who was now sitting beside her on the fountain. She couldn't believe how tired she felt. Being frozen took a lot out of you!
Clark's heart constricted. He knew he was long overdue to tell her everything. And he had tried, but then things fell apart. First came that fateful phone call, then poured the rain... Clark wished he had a hammer to whack himself in the head with. Not that he'd have felt it - that was the thing about being immortal. You couldn't feel the pain. Or could you? Besides kryptonite, his emotions caused him more pain... Two identities had become too much. It was time to tell her. She *had* to know.
"Lois," he started softly, "you're right. There's something you need to know." He ran his hand through her dark auburn hair, marveling at its softness. He heard her breathing, and noticed something was out of place. Her breath was deep and even, as if she were sleeping. He peered down at her face. She *was* sleeping! She looked so peaceful and content, angelic even. Clark did not want to wake her, he just wanted to watch her forever. She shivered in his arms, and he remembered the rain. Forever had only lasted a moment... He gently took her in his arms and carried her home.
Jace was no longer pacing. He was thinking. Not a bright thing to be doing at 3:30 a.m. when all thoughts started to jumble together incoherently, but time was precious. There was much to be done.
To anyone listening, Jace's plotting would've sounded like the ravings of a drunken madman. But Jace was very much sober, insane if nothing else. He wanted vengeance more than anything. His life had been confined to living in a dismal cellar in the middle of his dreary underground world. He'd have to do something about his living arrangement soon, maybe move to some tropical island. First though, he would have his sweet revenge.
Jace picked up the telephone and dialed. When connected, he spoke in a low voice. "The red dawn comes before you. Get me Kellar." The code was pitiful, Jace thought, but probably necessary. "Kellar. I need you to do something for me. And you *will* do it..."
Clark unlocked the door to apartment 501, using a spare key Lois had once left at his place. Still carrying Lois, he entered the apartment and carried her to her bedroom. Setting her down on her bed, he thought, "Sleeping Beauty," then smiled to himself. He loved her and wanted to watch her like this every night, hold her close.
He was about to cover her with a blanket when he realized she was soaked from the rain. She couldn't sleep in those clothes. "Oh, Lord," he whispered in a panic. He couldn't change her clothes *for her*! She'd scream bloody murder in the morning!
Lois must've heard him whisper because she stirred and glanced up at him. Realizing where she was, she became more alert and sat up. Clark sat beside her on the bed. Lois rested her head on Clark's shoulder, yawning. Clark put his arm around her and asked, "Cold?"
"Yeah, a little bit. I think I'm going to change out of these clothes now." She started to stand.
"Oh, okay. That's probably a good idea." Clark also rose to his feet, and not knowing what else to do, started to leave the room. Lois touched his arm.
"Clark," she said, "what I said before in the park... I meant it. I love you, and I want to accept your proposal, but I still feel like there's something important I have to know. Before I fell asleep, I remember you trying to tell me something. What was it?"
Clark knew that now was not the time. Lois was simply too tired - she probably just wanted to go to bed and not have to deal with the old "my- boyfriend-who-I-thought-was- human-is-actually-a-Kryptonian-superhero" routine. "I'll tell you another time, Lois. Tomorrow?"
This answer satisfied her for the time being. She just wanted to sleep. "Okay." She raised up on tiptoes to kiss him goodnight, and he held her. Reluctantly, she told him she wanted to get some rest, and he left.
As Clark walked home - deciding not to fly but instead suffer in the storm - he thought about the events of the night, and how he could've brought everything into the light, but once again, copped out. "Chicken," he muttered to himself. The rain matched his gloomy mood.
In another world there lived a creature of immeasurable beauty and knowledge. Her name was Ayvoriah. To any being on Earth, she would appear to be only sixteen, but appearances could be deceiving. She had roamed that planet for six- thousand years, before finally being allowed into another dimension - the dimension to which she belonged. At last she had been re-united with her husband, Kaushae, and daughter, Kaetia. She was home.
Ayvoriah possessed a special power. She could watch over Earth, but she wasn't a guardian angel. If she desired - and she hadn't, as of yet - she could contact anyone on Earth, but they had to be in an unconscious state. She could not alter events on the planet, but perhaps she could help some people along the way.
Kaetia wandered up to Ayvoriah. "Who are you watching, Mother?"
Ayvoriah turned to her daughter, a mirror image of herself. She was so lucky to finally be with her after thousands of years spent waiting. If only everyone knew how truly lucky they were and took advantage of that. "They're a young couple in Metropolis. Lois Lane and Clark Kent."
"What is their problem?" Kaetia asked softly. She was very sensitive toward the problems of those on Earth.
"It's kind of complicated, my Kaetia. You see, Clark is leading two lives. But it is for the good of mankind. He has superpowers, and often saves those in danger. He has a rather large problem though, and it's tearing him to pieces. Lois doesn't know about his other life, and he's always running out on her. They love each other and he's even asked her to marry him! She wants to accept the proposal, desperately, but senses he's keeping something from her and won't give him an answer until she feels that she knows."
"Why doesn't he just tell her, then?"
Ayvoriah shook her head. "I don't know dear. I just don't know."
Maxwell Kellar had been told to act like a rambling nervous idiot. That certainly wouldn't be difficult, considering the circumstances. Here he was, about to request something of Lex Luthor - at one time the most powerful man in Metropolis - and he had no idea *why*. Why had Jace asked *him* to do his dirty little deed? Couldn't he do it himself?
Jace had said that because he was a fugitive, he couldn't risk being seen in public, let alone in a prison. But Kellar suspected this wasn't the situation at all. Jace had warned him repeatedly *not* to mention his name, and left specific instructions as to the story he was to create. That man became stranger with each passing day.
Kellar heard the door creak open and watched as Lex Luthor was lead by a prison guard to his seat. The guard left to stand just outside the door. They were alone. Luthor glanced at Kellar expectantly. "Well, Mr. Kellar. Don't sit there like a mute all day! What is it you want?"
Kellar swallowed hard, and started into his act. "Y-y-yes, Mr. Luthor, sir. Umm,...I've come to see you about an important plan."
"About what? Hurry up! Lex Luthor doesn't tolerate wasting time!"
"Sorry, Mr. Luthor, sir. It's a plan, to...to kill Superman!" Luthor looked skeptical, so Kellar continued. "Really sir! He shall die! It *will* work!"
"I see. And supposing it *does* work, where is it I come in?"
This was the moment. This is what Kellar had come for. "I need kryptonite," he blurted out.
Luthor's face broke into a slow, evil grin. "Ah yes, kryptonite! God, how I love that gaudy green rock!"
"So you'll get some? Kryptonite, I mean."
"Yes, I suppose I shall. I think I can trust you." Luthor looked at Kellar.
"Thank you, Mr. Luthor, sir! You won't regret this!" Kellar started to rise.
Luthor cut him off. "I'm not finished yet. Sit down!" he commanded. Kellar sat. "You will, of course, have to prove your trustworthiness."
"Yes sir! I'll do anything!"
Luthor gazed off into space. "There is this man... blasted fool! He crossed me!" he turned to Kellar. "I want you to kill him."
"Kill him?!" Kellar squeaked.
"Yes, kill him! Do you think you can do that?" Luthor stood up and began walking to the door.
"Anything, Mr. Luthor, sir! Anything! What is his name?"
"Mazick, Mr. Kellar. Jason T. Mazick."
Lois Lane entered the Daily Planet newsroom the next morning, somewhat uncomfortably. The events of the previous night had finally hit her, and the evening's spell was broken. Reality had come crashing, and it landed hard. She had no clue as to what to say to Clark today. It was almost humorous. "Good morning Clark! You look good for a man whose marriage proposal won't be answered until your girlfriend can get you to spill every single secret you've ever had..." Lois shook her head. What an idiot she'd been!
Looking at it now, she realized how stupid and misguided her doubts really were. So he ran off a few times. Big deal. That could be worked on. She loved Clark more than anything, and she knew now she wanted to be with him for the rest of her life. Lois walked in the direction of Clark's desk. She had an answer for him.
When she arrived at her destination, however, Clark wasn't there. Lois felt a sinking feeling. All she wanted to do was see him, tell him yes, she'd marry him! Hold him, kiss him... Oh well, it would have to wait. Clark would probably be there soon. Usually he was up with the birds! Sighing with a combination of frustration and anticipation, she went to her desk and turned on the computer. Maybe she could get some work done.
Half an hour later, Clark still hadn't arrived. Lois frowned. This wasn't like him. He was *never* ill, except maybe from embarrassment. She *had* to see him. Her mind made up, she quickly stepped into the elevator.
Jace was a man on a mission. A death mission. Victory was so close, he could almost taste it. Good-bye Man of Steel, hello corrupt society!
He approached the front door of Clark's apartment. Now to pick the lock... Jace absent-mindedly turned the doorknob, and amazingly, the door opened! Jace was momentarily surprised, then he smirked. Good ol' trusting Kansas farmboy, leaving the door unlocked like that! Why, *anybody* could walk right in! Anybody indeed.
Jace was anxious, and with good reason. He had a pocket full of kryptonite. Luthor and Kellar had come through. Kellar was such an honest man! Too bad the good always die young... He reached into his pocket and pulled out the kryptonite, approaching Clark's bedroom. It was now or never.
Clark didn't look well, and it was not due to the kryptonite. "Looks like ol' Supes here had a miserable night!" He'd soon be out of his misery. Jace gleefully placed the kryptonite beside Clark's head. Poor Clark seemed to be having a nightmare. "Don't worry, Clarkie my boy! This nightmare will be over real fast!" Jace chuckled. Clark seemed to struggle against the forces of the kryptonite a few moments more, until his body grew limp. Had Jace done it? Had he killed the invulnerable man?
Jace didn't have long to wonder. He heard a car pull up outside the building, and decided it was time to end his visit. Didn't want to be overstaying his welcome. Grabbing the kryptonite, Jace slipped out the back way. He couldn't be caught in the act.
Lois took the unlocked door as a positive sign. "The door's always open." She couldn't see Clark anywhere. "Clark!" she called, "I need to talk to you. It's about last night. I think I have an answer..." When she heard no reply, she knew he must be sleeping. Sure enough, when she opened his bedroom door, there he was, looking dead to the world.
Or maybe truly *dead*. Lois did a double take. This was no slumber. He looked... Lois couldn't bring herself to admit it. No, he *had* to be alright! "Clark, I love you..." She picked up the telephone and dialed 911.
Clark groaned somewhat disoriented. He was in a hospital room, but who's? He looked at the body on the hospital bed, and lying there in an almost dead stillness... was him! Lois was at his side, holding his hand and appearing very drawn, pale, and tired. It looked as if she'd been fighting to keep some kind of control - emotional. She was saying to him, "Don't die on me, Clark! Don't even think about it!" At first she was determined, but then let her tough front down. "You can't! I need you! I love you..." Clark walked over to her, yearning to touch her, comfort her, tell her everything would be alright. Yet, he couldn't. It seemed that perhaps he was in another dimension, one he couldn't break the barrier to. Clark lifted his head Heavenward.
"Expecting, maybe, a white light?" a merry voice broke into his reverie. Startled, Clark turned in the direction the voice had come from. Standing before him was a beautiful young woman who couldn't possibly have been a day older than sixteen. The heart-shaped face surrounded by cascades of long, wavy, golden-blonde hair, contained a broad grin. Her aquamarine eyes twinkled. She was a mystery, yet there was this certain openness about her. "Who are you? An angel?"
"Well," she started, drawing out the word in a teasing manner, "as my story goes, 'I am the "living dead", but I wouldn't call myself an angel..."
"Then why are you here?" Clark was confused.
"Actually, the question is, why are *you* here?"
"I summoned you, Clark. Welcome to my world."
"How do you know my name? Why don't I know yours?"
"Well, Clark, I know your name because I know a lot of what goes on in your dimension--"
"Excuse me?! *Dimension*?"
"Yes - dimension," she repeated patiently, then continued. "I know that woman over there is Lois Lane, and I know you love her. I know that she loves you." Her tone was caring.
"How do you know this?" Clark wondered if this was a dream. All part of some horrible, seemingly real dream. He pinched himself, hard. This was no dream.
"You know, if you weren't Superman, I would've said that could hurt!"
Clark choked. This stranger knew everything about him!
"You alright Clark?"
"Yeah, I'm just...fine!" he croaked.
"Then I suppose we should get going! I have a lot to tell you!"
"Come again? Where are *we* going? I think I'll stay here! How can I trust you? I don't even know your name!"
"Oh! How rude of me! I'm sorry. My name is Ayvoriah. And don't worry, you can trust me! Actually, you *have* to trust me! There's not much of an option there!"
"I always have options." Clark was not impressed.
"That's what you think!" Ayvoriah laughed, and grabbed Clark's hand. Suddenly, they faded away.
Seconds later, Clark found himself in a grassy field. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the flowers were in bloom. Heaven.
Ayvoriah seemed to read his mind. "It's not Heaven, Clark, but it *is* a Utopia, of sorts. Welcome to the next dimension. *My dimension.* We have a lot to do!"
"We have to talk." Seeing Clark's coming question, she hastened to add, "About your life. About you and Lois!"
Lois. Clark yearned to be with her, but he knew no way out. Sitting back, he glared at Ayvoriah. "So talk."
"Clark, don't be bitter! This is for your own good!" She paused before going on. "You and Lois have been getting closer, haven't you?"
"I think you know the answer to that."
"Yes, you're quite right. I do. So I also know that you've proposed!"
"Yeah. What do *you* have to do with any of this?"
"Just call me Cupid! Not that you need much help in that department, exactly! It's the truth part you need to work on. And you'd better start telling Lois about you soon because no one is immortal, Clark. Eventually, we all die. Sometimes death is a relief!"
Clark stared at her as if she had sprouted a second head. Where had *that* come from? Ayvoriah chose to ignore this and continued with her story.
"I was cursed into existing for a very long time. Even now, I still live, but it's the afterlife of a cursed one. We have our own dimension, as you see now. We call it 'Nirvana'. Peace after death."
"Why are you telling me this?" Clark interrupted.
"Be patient, Clark. I have a point coming up! Anyway, after finally being allowed to enter Nirvana, I could at last be reunited with my husband and child!"
"Husband and child? But you could only be--"
"Six-thousand years old! Six-thousand years of searching without answers, playing a miserable game! But at last, I am with my loved ones again!" Ayvoriah wore a reminiscent expression.
"So what does this have to do with me?" Clark was impatient. He wanted to see Lois.
Ayvoriah looked directly at him. "You, dear Clark, are also cursed. But your curse is of your own doing, and you are the one who has to break it. It took six-thousand years for me to find my husband and child. If you want to be with Lois, you have to tell her your secret. If you don't, everything will be a waste! Neither of you will ever, truly, be happy." Ayvoriah gave Clark a few minutes to think, then told him gently, "It's time to go back, Clark. Think about what I said."
Clark nodded. It was truth time.
Jace was once again in his cellar dwelling, playing the waiting game. He had told Kellar to come see him; told him that he would be rewarded for a job well done. Rewarded, all right. Jace patted the trigger of his shotgun.
Kellar felt like a mouse in a maze. Trying to find this place was more difficult than his next task. He had to carry out Luthor's orders, or *he'd* be the one to die! Rounding yet another corner, he fingered the trigger of his snub-nosed revolver. It was time.
"Hello, Maxwell my friend! Good to see you again! I assume you're expecting your reward?"
Kellar nodded. It couldn't hurt to get a little cash from the guy, before pumping him full of lead.
Jace aimed his gun at Kellar's chest. "Here it is!"
Kellar snapped up his own gun. "Really?"
"Put it down, Kellar. You've lost!"
Kellar stepped closer. "Have I?"
Two shots rang out. Two bodies fell. Jason T. Mazick and Maxwell Kellar were dead.
Clark opened his eyes and felt a dull ache at his temples. "Oooh," he moaned. He felt a hand touch his cheek. Lois.
"Clark! Oh, Clark!" she sobbed, hugging him tightly. "You listened! I kept telling you..."
"Shh, Lois." Clark enjoyed being in her arms. He hoped she'd never let go. "It's okay. I'm alright."
Lois didn't know what to say. She *couldn't* say anything. She just wanted to stay there, and never let go of Clark. She was a jumble of emotions, all at the same time.
Clark caught a glimmer coming from Lois' left hand. It was the ring. Had her feelings of doubt subsided? It didn't matter. He was going to come clean.
"Lois, I have something to tell you."
Lois looked deep into his warm chocolate brown eyes. At last, he was going to let her in. "Yeah?"
Clark decided there would be no beating around the bush. Ayvoriah's story had convinced him that the sooner he said it, the better. He was just going to tell her, straight out. "Lois, I'm Superman..."