By Glenda M. Hernandez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: An old acquaintance of Clark's has transformed herself into a woman of extravagant wealth and hypnotic power. She comes to Metropolis with revenge on her mind.
[Author's note: This story was started a long time ago, specifically after "Ultrawoman." The reasons I decided to write it were that I wanted a story where Clark Kent was the "damsel in distress," a story where a part of Clark's past (pre-Lois) surfaced, and I wanted someone to give Lois a run for her money. So I came up with Ms. Cassandra Hathaway. She's a new character, one that you will not find within the L&C universe, but you may find out that she can be as dangerous as many of the villains in the L&C roster. It was a lot of fun writing this story back in 1995, and I hope you have as good a time reading it. On a personal note, I would like to thank my colleague, Ketsia Lerebours (JLerebours), for her valuable input, The Metropolis Club, especially Evelyn Catano for her hard work and for sticking with me through the ages ;-), and I dedicate this to Vanessa Costello, the bravest, strongest "sister" I've ever known.
(Usual disclaimers on DC's ownership and Warner's license) But I claim ownership over the character of Cassandra Hathaway and any other character created for the purpose of the story and story idea.
By Glenda M. Hernandez with contributions by Ketsia Lerebours & Vanessa Costello
She rested upon the table, purring like a kitten as the expert hands of her masseuse traced her naked body. Her Saturday morning massages were like religion to her, a time when every pleasure came together, transmitted through the hands of her loyal servant. Her name is Cassandra Hathaway, a name known world-wide, a name respected, almost feared. She is the indisputable queen of her castle. A woman of means, a woman who can get anything her heart desires; nothing is denied to her; nobody dared reject her.
It wasn't always that way. There was a time eight years ago, when she desired with all her might, and it was denied. Since then, her life has been ruled by that one rejection. Every accomplishment, every conquest or shrewd conduct had at its heart the object of that demonic, obsessive desire. She had followed him around the world from Paris to Hong Kong, satisfied with a mere look, the shine of his hair, the movement of his manly body, yet all the while awaiting the right time to claim her reward, more specifically, to claim her revenge.
That was almost three years ago. Since then, Cassandra has been thirsting for his image, and this thirst has grown continuously and dangerously. She has vented her hidden desires and fury on strangers, doing to them what she wished to do to him. Cassandra has kept herself busy, traveling the world, building her empire, developing her business, surrounding herself with loyal followers, and destroying all obstacles on the road to her final goal. Enslaving is her pastime, her exercise, her life. She has destroyed many men, "practice," she called them, mere preparation for her final reward. But today marked the beginning of the end of her quest. After three years of preparation, patience and anger, she knew that the time had come.
"It's fate," she whispered as her servant massaged her body. "It's fate, right, Pathos?" she asked, knowing what his answer would be. Pathos had been her loyal servant for seven years now, her second victim and only true ally.
"Yes, Madame," he answered, his voice devoid of any feeling, of any human tone, but merely that of a man to whom feelings and thoughts had become ancient history, a dream dreamed too long ago from which no traces remained.
"You are right. The Fates are on my side. They know I've been a very good girl and now it is time for my reward. Don't you think so?" She revealed a mischievous look on her face.
"Yes, Madame." His hands continued to trace her soft, tanned skin.
"Of course. All the pieces are in place. We did it in record time; imagine it only took three years." She slowly sat up, wrapping a soft yellow towel around her body, and fixed her feline gaze upon Pathos. "Three years of waiting for the right time, the right place and the right circumstances." She smiled secretively. "Should I venture to guess what his reaction will be?"
Cassandra slipped off the masseuse table and walked gently to her body length mirror. She examined every feature reflected and smiled approvingly.
"I will venture. First, he will be surprised, happy, intrigued and eager to recapture the past. Then he will trust. Trust is such a bad thing." She slowly turned around and walked toward Pathos.
He stood by the masseuse table like a statue. Cassandra smiled at him tenderly as she traced his hard face with her soft hand. His eyes dilated and all of the muscles in his oversized body tensed.
"Can any man reject me?" Cassandra asked quietly but purposefully.
There was no movement on his face except for his lips as he uttered softly, "No, Madame."
She suddenly whirled around, her face changed from a tender creature to one full of pure ire; she picked up a nearby vase and smashed it against the mirror. Cassandra stood looking at the pieces of glass as they fell upon her Persian rug, and just as suddenly, she turned to Pathos, hate imprinted in her eyes.
"Then why, tell me why, did he dare refuse me?! What god in Olympus made him turn against me?! Why did he play with me?! Made me fall in love to later reject me?! Tell me then why?!"
Pathos remained still, as though the answer was not part of his vocabulary, as if his mistress spoke a foreign language, one that he did not have permission to learn.
"It doesn't matter now," she continued, instantly returning to her tender self. "No, my dear Pathos, do not worry about it. Everything has come together. It was perfect timing. I think Paris has become a real drag. We've done all we could here. We have cornered all the politicians and millionaires we wanted. Our empire is even bigger now and our future looks bright indeed. Yet, we must not tempt the Fates. Yes. It's time to depart." She stated this as she picked up a copy of a newspaper from her night table. Imprinted on the cover was the name, The Daily Planet, Metropolis' leading newspaper. She was not looking at the paper itself, but her eyes were driven to the corner of the first article; there she saw a picture of The Daily Planet's top reporters—Lois Lane & Clark Kent. As she eyed this picture, she couldn't help but smile that cat-like smile. She traced her fingers over it, later bringing them to her lips.
"It's fate," she announced louder with a hint of whimsy and glorious expectation. "Tell everyone to get ready," she suddenly ordered. "Also set up the plane, pack everything and call the hotel."
Cassandra slowly turned from him, lost in thought. She walked toward her bed and threw the copy of The Daily Planet upon it. "But now leave me be. I have a very important phone call to make," she told him softly. Without hesitation, Pathos exited the room. Making sure he was out of sight, Cassandra laid upon her bed, clutching to her chest the copy of The Daily Planet. She was surrounded by silence, but then she quietly began to laugh until that laugh inundated her room and her whole being.
At the same time, thousands of miles away in the city of Metropolis, Clark Kent, the other half of the most popular team of reporters in Metropolis, sat at his kitchen table entranced by the sight of Lois Lane, his partner, his friend and, to his utter joy, his fiancee. He could have never imagined when he decided to start a new life in Metropolis that he would encounter the source of life itself—Lois Lane. He had been too many places, met many people; yet in all his travels and adventures, he had never met anyone who made him feel as complete and alive as he felt in the presence of this glorious woman. Their romance had taken many turns, some wrong and some very right, turns that led them straight to the present, the happiest time of their lives. He stared at Lois, remembering their first meeting and how he had fallen in love with her instantaneously. As he sat at his kitchen table, he could not help but smile at the memory of that first meeting. He smiled, unaware that while his mind traveled to the past, Lois Lane had been staring at him in total wonder.
"Clark, what are you smiling about?" she asked, genuinely curious.
Clark snapped out of his self-induced trance, realizing that all the while he had been smiling like a kid in a candy store. Embarrassed by this realization, he answered, "Oh, nothing."
"Don't tell me nothing, Clark. You look like the cat who ate the canary. Spill it."
"I told you, nothing." His eyes twinkled with laughter.
"You know, people who plan to get married don't keep secrets from each other," Lois told him as a matter of fact. "So come on, tell me," she insisted playfully.
Clark realized that this was a battle he was definitely going to lose so he decided to yield to Lois' curiosity. "Okay. I was just thinking about our first meeting. How beautiful you were… I mean are, how dynamic you were…" Before finishing his thought, he took the opportunity to poke some fun at his fiancee. "And most of all how snobbish you were."
"Snobbish!" Lois announced in mock anger. "I was never snobbish. Just because I didn't immediately fall at your feet, does not make me snobbish."
"Lois, you called me a farm boy."
"Still. That doesn't make me a snob."
"Fine. What does it make you then?"
"Stupid," she remarked with all the sincerity in the world.
That one word communicated more than a whole monologue could, and in her eyes, Clark could see all the love she held for him. He could not contain himself. He immediately stood from his chair and kneeled at Lois' feet as though she were a queen. The queen of his heart. He tenderly took hold of her hand and brought it to his soft lips. There was no need for words. All that needed to be expressed was communicated by that simple touch, by the most powerful connection. A connection that could never be broken. She lifted her free hand and ran it through his dark lustrous hair. He slowly leaned forward, his lips seeking hers as though they were the richest of treasures. As their lips touched gently, Clark's phone rang, slightly interrupting the magic. Reluctantly, he stood up. Still holding her hand, he took hesitant steps toward the phone on the wall until her hand slowly slid from his. Still staring into her lovely eyes, he fumbled for the phone.
"Hello." As he answered, Lois blew a kiss in his direction, and he smiled like a kid. "Chief!" At the mention of this name, Lois quickly stood and walked toward Clark. "How are you? We're fine. Yes. Lois came over for breakfast. It's Saturday after all… Mmm… What's going on?" Lois could not contain her curiosity and she began to signal Clark, hoping he would give her some information. Clark only nodded and shrugged his shoulders.
"Arriving today? Okay. Why us? I see… fine. I'll tell Lois… no problem…"Unable to get any response from Clark, Lois walked to the other side of the receiver and placed her ear against it. Clark rolled his eyes in disbelief. "…fine. We're on it. Eight o'clock tonight. Got it. Okay, talk to you later, Perry. We'll do. Goodbye."
"What did he say?" Lois asked as soon as Clark hung up.
"We are covering an arrival tonight."
"Tonight? Who? A president, some famous ambassador?" Lois asked, her eyes gleaming with anticipation.
"Who then? Because if it is a famous actor or someone like that, Lerebours in entertainment should be able to cover it. That is unless it's Antonio Banderas…" she added with a lustful smile.
Clark shook his head and rolled his eyes. "The person asked specifically for us."
"Specifically? Who is he?"
"It's a she. Cassandra Hathaway?"
"Cassandra Hathaway? Of Hathaway Cosmetics?"
"This is great! Wow, Cassandra Hathaway." Lois started pacing around the kitchen excited by this opportunity. "She's only the premier cosmetics tycoon in the world! Everybody from Princess Diana to Brooke Shields uses her products. Clark, we should be flattered. Everybody would like to interview her. I even heard that Barbara Walters was seeking her like a maniac, but she's always been so elusive. This is tops! A major scoop! And her cosmetics are excellent!" Clark looked on in amusement as Lois gushed.
"Do you use her cosmetics?" Clark asked cautiously.
"It's a secret," she answered in a girlish tone.
Clark was taken aback by this declaration. Ever since Lois discovered his most intimate and guarded secret, there had been an unspoken agreement between them that the era of secrets was over. Especially now that they were about to make the biggest commitment of their lives, the unspoken covenant had been strictly followed.
"Correct me if I'm wrong…" Clark started saying, only to be interrupted by Lois.
"I know, I know. No more secrets. But you cannot expect me to tell you EVERYTHING. A girl has to keep some mystery."
"All right, but let me go on record and tell you that you do not need any of that." Clark embraced her. "I think you're just perfect." He gave her a quick forceful kiss on the lips and retired to his bedroom to change from his black T-shirt and jeans to his suit.
As he slipped out of sight, Lois grabbed her purse and pulled out a small yellow compact case with the letters CH inscribed in gold and muttered to herself, "That's what you think."
"What was that, Lois?" Clark called out from his bedroom.
Lois realized that she should have known better, and meekly yelled out, "Oh, nothing!"
At 7:50 P.M., Lois and Clark arrived at Metropolis International Airport. Prior to embarking toward the airport, the two had stopped at Lois' apartment, where they did some computer research on the elusive Cassandra Hathaway. To their surprise, there was not much information about their subject except all that related to her cosmetics industry. In their minds, Cassandra Hathaway was an enigma—no information was found about her beginnings, her education or even her marital status. It was as though she surfaced from thin air. This made Lois feel ill at ease; she never liked going into an interview unprepared, and this was as unprepared as anyone could ever be. Clark, on the other hand, took the rational road and tried to convince Lois that this was a perfect opportunity to use her outstanding investigatory skills. This did not ease Lois' worries.
They arrived at gate eight, just in time to see a mob of male reporters waiting for Cassandra's arrival. Every reporter from the region was amassed there—reporters from "Top Copy" to "Extra." Countless video cameras were set at close proximity to the gate in an attempt to capture Cassandra's first steps into Metropolis. There was no room to move. Lois shot a quick questioning look at Clark who could only shrug his powerful shoulders.
"I guess her cosmetics are pretty good," Clark joked, trying to ease the situation.
"I can't believe it…" Lois said obviously annoyed. "Perry didn't say anything about this?"
"No, he didn't. I'm as surprised as you are."
"Well, there isn't a single Fedora-wearing reporter that's going to keep me from interviewing her. Come on, help me push forward."
"Lois, I don't think…" Before he could finish, Lois was already easing her way through the crowd. Clark had no room to reach her. Just as suddenly, one of the reporters who had climbed on top of a chair spotted Cassandra as she made her way down the runway.
"There she is!" he yelled.
As the mob heard this, they started to push forward like mad bulls. Lois was caught in the middle of this riot as they dragged her forward, pushing, hitting and yelling. Clark immediately assessed the danger and quickly slipped away to change into his alter ego—SUPERMAN. He flew above the crowd searching for Lois, becoming desperate. Suddenly he saw her about to be trampled by the mad reporters. He quickly swooped down, too quick for anyone to notice, and reached for her. His unique presence caught the eyes of the mob and served as a pause in an otherwise riot-like situation.
One of the reporters asked him, "Hey, Superman, are you here to see Cassandra?" Superman only smiled at the man, who continued, "I told you this was a big deal, even Superman is here."
At the same time, the crowd parted where Lois was standing. Superman asked about her well-being. "Lois, are you Okay?" he asked in an authoritative tone.
"I'm… I'm… fine Superman," Lois managed to say unconvincingly.
"I think you'd better sit."
"No, I'm fine. I was just a little dizzy for a moment, but I'm better. Don't worry, Superman." Yet in a tone that only he could hear, Lois told him, "Thank you, Clark. These guys are nuts."
"Fine. I think I'll stay here to make sure everything runs smoothly." Superman turned toward the crowd, seeking to calm the excitement. "Okay, guys, this could really turn into a dangerous situation, so please remain calm."
The crowd was momentarily stunned by the presence of Superman at this event, and nobody noticed the presence of a statuesque figure standing at the entrance of the gate. Cassandra Hathaway had arrived. She was a beautiful woman, the type of woman who could bewitch any man by one look of her emerald eyes. Her long, ebony hair was worn loose, falling down her back. She was wearing a full-length Chinchilla fur coat. Her hands were perfectly manicured, and they looked as soft as satin. In her right hand, she wore the most stunning Canary diamond, the biggest and brightest anyone had ever seen. She stood surveying the scene; something about a mob always made her smile. She was happy and she let it pour out with every step she took.
"My boys!" she yelled in a tone bathed in pure joy. The crowd suddenly turned from Superman, threatening to resume the chaos. Cassandra noticed the change, and, although she would've loved a good riot, she chose to soothe the situation. She extended her arms in triumph and bravely walked toward the mob.
"Boys, calm down. There is enough Cassandra to go around. Remember, bad little boys get no candy."
At once, all the reporters began shouting questions at her. Though no longer pushing and shoving, their voices sounded insistent, as though they were pleading for their lives. Cassandra took all of this in and basked in it, but she was suddenly distracted by the sight of a solitary woman and the famous Superman standing in the middle of the crowd.
"Hush, boys!" She started to wave in Lois' direction trying to get her attention. "Ms. Lane!"
Lois realized that Cassandra had spotted her and shyly waved to her from where she was standing. Lois directed her gaze toward Superman and noticed that he had a peculiar look on his face.
"Superman, are you okay?" she asked, genuinely concerned.
Superman took a moment too long to answer while gazing at Lois as though seeing her for the first time. "What?"
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine." He noticed that Cassandra kept waving in their direction. "Ms Hathaway is calling you over. Go."
"What about you?" Lois asked, truly concerned.
"Don't worry, I'll stand aside to make sure nobody gets out of line. Go. She's calling you."
Lois took another look at Superman before walking over to Cassandra Hathaway. Miraculously, the crowd had made a passage so that she could reach her. As she walked over, Cassandra stretched her jeweled hand toward her. As soon as Lois was at close range, Cassandra grabbed her by the arms in a protective manner, almost motherly.
"Ms. Lane, why would you choose to be among these beasts?!"
"You requested our presence, Ms. Hathaway."
"Please call me Cassandra." She smiled brightly. "I did request your presence?"
"You are right! But where is the adorable Mr. Kent?" Cassandra looked over the crowd, searching for Clark, while Lois tried to come up with a reasonable excuse for Clark's apparent absence.
"Clark Kent had to go. We're working on simultaneous stories, and there was a break in the other story so we decided that I should cover your arrival and Clark should cover the other."
"I see. Well. I guess that's teamwork." Cassandra tried to hide her disappointment.
"Yes, it is," Lois said proudly.
"At least Superman made it." Cassandra immediately stared at Superman, who all the while had been standing on the sidelines looking at the two women.
Ever since Cassandra appeared and Superman took a look at her, he had felt confused. That face, that voice, seem all too familiar to him and yet he had been unable to place her. Had he seen her on TV? Impossible, she would never be interviewed on television. Had he saved her from something? No. He would remember, even though he had saved thousands during the last three years, he would remember her. Then where? he asked himself. He noticed that the women were staring at him, so he waved at them and nodded.
"Look! He is waving at me," Cassandra announced, obviously excited. Lois just smiled at her. "He came for me! This is the best welcome. Imagine having such a gorgeous specimen of male virility right in front of me. Somebody up there loves me. What I would not do to be alone with him one night to…" Before Cassandra finished her thought, Lois interrupted her.
"Actually, he came by to make sure that nobody got hurt, you know the crowd and all." Just as she uttered the words, Lois immediately felt bad. It was not her intention to burst Cassandra's bubble, but she could not help herself.
Cassandra appeared slightly disappointed, but quickly resumed her lively disposition. "It doesn't matter. Just one look is enough. Oh my, he is so gorgeous!" Lois rolled her eyes. "In the meantime, what are you doing tonight, Lois? I hope you don't mind if I call you Lois? Would you like to have dinner with me at my hotel?"
"That would be great. And no, I don't mind, Cassandra. Just let me page Clark. Maybe he could join us later."
"Perfect!" Cassandra announced, smiling her cat-like smile.
The two women walked off to Cassandra's yellow limousine, leaving behind a crowd of baffled and disappointed reporters. Just before leaving the scene, Lois glanced at Superman and smiled. He nodded as if aware of her every thought and flew off.
Later, at the Metropolis Palace Hotel, where Cassandra had taken over the whole penthouse, Lois Lane waited for her hostess in the living room. As soon as they walked through the doors, Cassandra indicated that she needed to freshen up before dinner—that was 30 minutes ago. So for thirty minutes, Lois had been waiting around, feeling uncomfortable due to the sight of a muscle bound giant standing like a statue by Cassandra's bedroom door. He was at least seven feet tall, covered from head to toe in muscles, and it was hard to distinguish his head from his torso. He had long black hair, a golden earring dangling from one ear, and wore ancient Greek-like clothes. Lois figured that his look was part of the Hathaway cosmetics uniform. But beyond that, there was something about this man that was unnatural and that made her feel apprehensive. She shivered slightly as she watched him through her eyelashes, then glanced at her wrist watch, hoping that Cassandra or better yet Clark would make an appearance. Just as the thought crossed her mind, she heard a knock at the door. Pathos, the muscled giant, took forceful steps toward the door, and with every step he took, Lois felt the floor shake. He answered the door, and in walked Clark Kent, wearing a new suit and looking very handsome. As soon as Clark noticed Lois, he smiled and gingerly walked toward her. Lois' face betrayed a slight annoyance. Clark took a seat next to her on the sofa while Lois watched Pathos return to his post.
"What took you so long?" Lois whispered with a mixture of worry and annoyance.
"I figured your excuse had to be credible so I went back to my apartment, changed, called my parents and so on. I wanted to buy time. I hope I didn't worry you."
"No, you didn't. I was just feeling kind of—" Lois took another look at the human statue by Cassandra's bedroom door. "Oh, never mind."
"Tell me, what's wrong?"
"I'll tell you later," she said as she took another quick look at Pathos, "in private, okay?"
"What sounds good?" Cassandra asked as she entered the living room, looking like the total opposite of the woman they first encountered at the airport. She was wearing faded jeans and an old college sweatshirt. Her hair was set in a ponytail, and she wore no make up. She was a picture of coed simplicity except for the enormous ring she wore in her right hand. Though her style at first glance clashed with her surroundings, somehow it all fit, and Cassandra appeared even more glamorous.
Lois and Clark were surprised by this transformation. Lois was amazed that even wearing casual clothes, Cassandra Hathaway was still a very beautiful woman. Clark was surprised because finally he knew who Cassandra Hathaway really was.
"Cassie, Cassie Jones? Is that you?" he asked in a tone full of joy and amazement.
"Yes, Clarkie. The one and only."
"I just can't believe it. You here. My God, how long has it been?"
Lois was shocked that Clark and Cassandra actually knew each other, but that shock turned into curiosity as she witnessed the joyous scene. "You guys obviously know each other, but from where?" Lois asked, joining in on the excitement.
"Oh, yes, sorry, Lois. Cassie and I went to college together. We were good friends, but somehow we lost track of one another. We haven't seen each other in I don't know how many years. Last time I saw you, you were going on some kind of trip…"
"Eight years, Clarkie. And yes, you are right," Cassandra answered, smiling brightly. "I was going on an archeological dig as part of my senior assignment."
"As I remember, your major was journalism."
"Oh, Clark, I always knew journalism was not my thing. I like a different type of investigation. You know, like ancient civilizations and stuff like that. You were the journalism maniac."
"Now look at you, a cosmetic tycoon. How? When? And why did you change your name?"
"Are you interviewing me, Clark? Can WE eat dinner first?" Cassandra teased.
"Of course," Clark conceded, slightly embarrassed.
"Oh, okay, I'll answer one. Hathaway was Mother's maiden name and anyway, it sounded more carefree than Jones. And in my business, I want my clients to feel carefree. Now, can WE eat?"
"Lead the way…"
Lois saw this pause as her opportunity to ask the question that had been burning in her mind ever since Clark and Cassandra found each other again. "I assume you guys were pretty close, right?"
Cassandra and Clark stared at Lois as though she had just ask the million-dollar question. Cassandra smiled.
"I don't know. You see, Clarkie here was a pretty popular guy on campus. All the girls were mad about him. All wanted to date him." At this, Clark smiled shyly. "But he never gave any of them the time of day. I, on the other hand, I was the buddy and may I say the envy of every girl. We did have a lot of fun, but we were just good buddies."
"That's true," Clark added. "I mean about Cassie being my buddy. We had almost every class together, we studied together, it almost seems like we were always together. We were very good friends," Clark concluded as he took Cassandra's hand.
"Good friends indeed," Cassandra agreed, smiling from Lois to Clark.
At this point, Lois was dying for more information, but decided to wait till after dinner. The dinner was delicious and the conversation very animated. Lois learned a lot about the man she was going to marry, but nothing that took her by surprise. It seemed like Clark had always been a very honorable man, willing to help friends in need, and to boot a very intelligent and talented man. At times during dinner however, Lois felt like an outsider. She was almost jealous that she did not share all these experiences with Clark, but told herself that the present [[was]] better than any college anecdote. Clark appeared very happy, as one who had not seen a very good friend in ages would be. Cassandra was very engaging and sweet, but it was obvious to Lois that all the attention was directed at Clark. She told herself that she could handle it, at least for one evening. After dinner, they moved back to the living room, where Pathos was serving the coffee. Lois saw this as her opportunity to inquire about this quiet giant.
"Cassandra, I'm curious, what's his name?"
"Oh him, that's Pathos."
"He doesn't say much, does he?"
"He doesn't need to say much."
"I see." Lois glanced at Clark with a confused look on her face.
"I almost forgot," Cassandra said, very animated. "When are we going to do this interview?"
Clark and Lois looked at each other briefly, amazed that they would get the privilege of interviewing the famous Cassandra Hathaway. At this, Lois answered.
"We could do it any time, whenever…"
"I'm sorry, Lois. I didn't mean we, but I—" Cassandra stared straight at Clark. "I want Clark to do it. You understand, we've known each other and I feel quite comfortable with him. Do you agree, Clark?"
Clark paused a moment before answering. He was aware that Lois could be very disappointed. Before he had a chance to answer though, Lois interrupted him.
"You're right, Cassandra. Clark should do it. He knows you and he'll be able to ask the relevant questions. I agree. It's a great idea."
"Marvelous," Cassandra answered, obviously happy.
At this, Clark decided to ascertain that everything was indeed fine with Lois. "Lois, are you sure?"
"Yes, Clark, it's a good idea," Lois told him quickly in a tone that let him know there was nothing else to talk about.
"In that case," Clark started looking directly at Cassandra, "tell me when, Cassie?"
"Oh, I'm so happy. How about Wednesday morning, right here? I know it's a few days away, but I have some previous engagements. You understand."
"That's fine," Clark said, smiling at Lois.
Lois smiled from Cassandra to Clark. In her face, a tinge of determination was visible. Though she was not going to interview Cassandra personally, she felt that there were a couple of questions that she could ask right there.
"I know the article is going to be great. Clark is the best. One thing though, if you don't mind me asking?" Lois threaded carefully.
"No, of course not. Go ahead, Lois, ask away."
"Thank you. I was wondering, how does a person transform from being an archaeologist to a cosmetics queen?"
"Good question. It's a bit of a long story, but let me see if I can abbreviate it for you. You see, in my last year of college, I went on an archeological dig with a group of students under the tutelage of a Dr. Robertson. We went to Greece, and there," Cassandra sighed, "I was involved in the most fantastic discovery."
"What was it?" Lois asked, getting involved in the story.
"We found traces of a lost civilization. Their artifacts were to die for; it was ancient and very unique—nobody had ever encountered anything like it. In general, from that discovery, the idea to create a cosmetics company surfaced."
"I still don't see the connection."
"I shouldn't say much, you know, trade secret, but I found something that became the cornerstone of my company."
"It wasn't sent to a museum?" Lois pressed on.
"Dear Lois, it had no real value at the time so I begged to keep it and I got my wish. You see, in life, you may encounter things with no immediate value, but if you work on them, they become truly valuable to the person who puts the effort into them. Many people do not know this and they lose great opportunities. I knew better and here I am," Cassandra concluded as she stared at Clark in a very seductive manner.
"That's very interesting. Don't you think so, Clark?" Lois stared at him with a questioning look.
"Yes, very. My, look at the time. It flies. Lois, shall we go? We don't want to wear out our welcome," Clark quickly said, sensing a sudden change in the atmosphere.
"Yes, of course. Thank you for everything, Cassandra. It was a real pleasure meeting you," Lois concluded.
Cassandra put her arm around Lois' waist and took Clark's hand in hers as they walked to her door. "Don't mention it, Lois. The pleasure was all mine. Believe me when I tell you, it was all mine. Clarkie," she directed her words at Clark as she stared deeply into his eyes, "I guess I'll be seeing you on Wednesday."
"Yes, Wednesday it is."
"I can't wait."
Just before exiting, Lois quickly glanced at her, noticing a strange look in her eyes. For an instant, Lois felt fear, but just as instantly the fear dissolved, making it but a mere illusion.
After Lois and Clark had exited her apartment, Cassandra retired to her bedroom. At her door, Pathos stood still, faithful and vigilant. Inside her chambers, six women stood around her bed, all dressed as Pathos, in ancient Greek gowns. Everything was dark except for the dim light of candles at the four corners of her room. Her bed was veiled, and upon it a gown made of pure gold lay stretched. As Cassandra walked in, the women helped her out of her outfit and into her gold gown. They held onto her as they walked to the bed and helped her get in. Cassandra lay sleeping just as soon as her head hit her pillow. The women arranged themselves around her bed and began humming a lovely, intoxicating lullaby while Pathos extinguished the candles. When all was dark, the only light visible came from Cassandra's right hand as her Canary diamond ring shone bright.
After leaving Cassandra's, Lois and Clark decided to walk to Lois' apartment. They walked in comfortable silence, each thinking about the evening past. They walked slowly as though they had all the time in the world. Occasionally, they caught each other staring at the other, and both smiled.
There was no need for words. As they walked through the dark, quiet, Metropolis street, they felt like they were alone in the world, and it felt just fine. It felt like home. The silence was broken by Clark.
"What did you think?" he asked quietly.
"She was nice," Lois answered without looking up at him.
"Yes. She's always been nice."
Out of the blue, Lois' thoughts came forward, spilling all that she had been reserving all evening. "I think she had a thing for you."
"For me?! Naw!" Clark was genuinely surprised by her conclusion.
"Yes, she did. You… wouldn't have known it anyway."
"Yes, I would have."
"Two words—Mayson Drake."
"I'm glad you didn't notice."
"Just look at her. She's so beautiful and charming. And so sure of herself. I mean, any man would just…"
"Yes, she's all that."
Lois was not expecting Clark to agree with her. Deep inside, she wanted him to lie and say that he never noticed her, but she knew better. Clark was not a liar. She was about to change the subject when he interrupted her.
"She's very beautiful, but there is a reason why I never noticed if she had any feelings for me."
"What is that reason?" Lois wondered.
"She wasn't the one." Clark spoke simply and seriously.
The two stopped walking and faced each other. Clark put his hands on Lois' arms and brought her gently to him. He stared deeply into her eyes and softly caressed the right side of her face with his hand.
"Lois, I've always known that for me, there was only going to be one true love. I—I never wanted to give anybody hope if I didn't feel—God, I can't even describe it." He took a deep breath. "I knew that the one was waiting for me somewhere. It's as if all my life, I had been searching for my heart or it's been searching for me, I don't know. But that's what true love is for me—like finding your heart. That part of you that you can't live without. I know that many people give up and settle, but if you keep the faith, sooner or later it comes to you. You never know where, but for me it happened the first time I walked into The Daily Planet." Clark held her tight as if he never wanted to let her go, while she looked up at him, tears glimmering in her eyes. "I only have room for one heart, Lois, and that is… you."
As he finished, he could see the tears shining in her eyes. He was momentarily confused, thinking he had upset her, but her sudden passionate kiss told him otherwise. For Lois, his words were like a sweet elixir, the most glorious of perfumes. She understood his every word because she felt the same way, yet had been unable to find the right words. Clark was the one and perhaps had always been the one, but unlike him, she had lost faith and it had cost her.
Prior to falling in love with Clark, Lois had known heartache and disappointment, but all that changed the moment she knew she loved him and that he loved her, too. So she cried tears of joy because for the first time in her life someone had been able to look into her soul, someone had spoken the words she had wanted to hear for too long now. There was no doubt in her mind, Clark was her heart, that which she couldn't live without, and for the first time, she felt truly alive. As they kissed passionately on the dark, quiet street of Metropolis, they knew that happiness could only be found in each other's arms.
Monday morning at the offices of The Daily Planet, Lois sat alone at her desk. She had arrived extra early today because ever since meeting the famous Cassandra Hathaway, Lois had been unable to get her out of her mind. More so since Clark and she had been unable to find any information on Ms. Hathaway. So this morning as she awoke, she couldn't wait to get to the office to engage in in-depth research. She had been sitting there for an hour when she noticed the sluggish bodies of her co-workers beginning to enter the office. She exchanged a few good mornings and a few smiles, but her mind was focused on one person only—Cassandra Hathaway. Lois could not give up; her reporter instincts told her that there was more to Cassandra than was apparent, and she was ready to trade her soul to find out what.
She stood up from her desk and began pacing around it, trying to figure out what route to take in her research. She was coming up empty again, and she didn't like it. She sat at her desk once more, and just as she was about to use another route, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the man she loved walking down the Planet's ramp with one cup of coffee in each hand. She had to pause. The sight of Clark walking down toward her, smiling and bringing her coffee always warmed her heart. That simple gesture was a pure demonstration of his feelings for her, a constant reminder that he loved her. She could not help thinking that ever since they met, he had always brought her coffee. As he approached, she had to smile.
"Coffee, Madame," Clark joked as he placed her cup upon her desk.
"Thank you. For the coffee and for last Saturday." She took his hand in hers.
"My pleasure." He stared adoringly into her eyes. "What are you doing?"
Lois had forgotten about her research. Realizing that the subject was a good friend of her fiance, she tried to decide whether to tell him that she was doing additional research. She was not sure as to how he was going to react; after all, she was intruding on his own work for reasons that had nothing to do with Clark's upcoming article. She did not want to take a chance and end up upsetting him.
"I'm—I'm just checking out some caterers for the wedding."
"Good idea. You want me to help?"
"No. No. I've got it covered. I just narrowed it down to a couple. I'll let you know what comes up."
"Are you sure?" Clark asked.
"Yeah, sure. No problem," Lois insisted.
"Okay. But if you need anything let me know."
Clark smiled at her and walked toward his desk. Lois' face reflected all the guilt in the world. She couldn't believe that she had lied to him. She shook her head and tried to convince herself that it was for the best.
So far, the name Cassandra Hathaway had not led to anything except cosmetics ads and a business prospectus. Lois was becoming quite frustrated. She decided to research any archeological digs that occurred within the last ten years, yet none of them mentioned a Cassandra Hathaway. Lois decided to take a break. She searched her purse for loose change and walked up the ramp toward the vending machines. Though it was ten in the morning, Lois saw this as the perfect time for a chocolate break. She slipped the coins into the machine, all the while thinking about Cassandra; she took a long look at the options in the machine and punched in the numbers belonging to a double chocolate, caramel, nuts encrusted candy bar. Lois reached into the machine, pulled the candy bar, greedily tore at its wrapper, and brought the sinful sweet to her lips. As the chocolate touched her lips, she suddenly remembered something. She put the candy bar away and hurried to her desk, all the time muttering to herself. She sat at her computer resuming her research on archeological digs and began typing C-A-S-S-I-E J-O-N-E-S. Suddenly, a whole scroll of information began to appear. Lois was beside herself, but decided to exercise restraint lest Clark would figure out her scheme. Lois began reading the information, but she had no chance to get into it as her phone began to ring.
"Lois Lane speaking," she answered quickly.
"Lois?" the voice on the other side of the line inquired.
"Yes, this is Lois Lane."
"It's Cassandra, darling."
"Cassandra?! How are you?" Lois glanced at Clark, who looked up with a questioning glance. Lois signaled that she would tell him later.
"I'm just fine. Couldn't be better. The reason I'm calling… is to apologize."
"Apologize for what?"
"You are so nice. I realized that the other night I totally ignored you. With all the excitement of seeing Clarkie again," Lois cringed at the sound of that nickname, "I was so very rude."
"No, you weren't. It was a lovely…"
"Don't try to make me feel better, Lois. I know I was and I want to make it up to you. So. How about tea this afternoon?"
"Cassandra, there's no need to…"
"Nonsense! We will have tea and we will engage in girl talk… I'll tell you anything you want to know about Clark the 'coed.' "
Lois wanted to refuse again, but just before uttering the words, she reconsidered. She took a look at her computer full of information and in her mind compared the benefits of staying in the office in front of her computer all day versus engaging in "girl talk" with the person she was investigating. She decided tea sounded scrumptious and agreed to meet Cassandra at three o'clock at the Metropolis Winford Tea House.
The Metropolis Winford Tea House was an old establishment in the most sophisticated part of town. It was an old English tea house, and only the most famous and powerful people of Metropolis gathered there to enjoy a taste of old England. Lois had visited the Winford House once with the infamous Lex Luthor. She never thought she would find herself back there again, and in all truth, she had been looking forward to never stepping into it again. But life and motives change, and this meeting at the Winford House was one she would not have minded going to the ends of hell for, not to mention the Winford House. As Lois entered through the garden toward the patio, she was assaulted by images of Lex Luthor, but thankfully such disappeared as Lois spotted Cassandra sitting behind the Gardenias. She walked purposely toward Cassandra, head high and sure-footed, determined to get all the information she wanted. As Lois approached, Cassandra turned to her.
"I'm so glad you made it, Lois."
"I'm glad, also." Lois smiled.
"Don't just stand there, please sit?"
Lois looked around before sitting, and for the first time noticed that they were completely alone in the garden. "I hope we aren't too early for tea," Lois said almost jokingly.
"Why? Oh, you mean because we are alone?"
"Don't worry, I rented out the entire place for the afternoon. It's just us girls. You know?"
"Wow, how extravagant."
"Only the best, Lois. Only the best."
"It must be an advantage to be…"
"I won't lie. It is absolutely divine."
"And you became rich… How?"
"You know the answer. Cosmetics are my business and my life."
"You mentioned the other night that your business began as a result of your archeological discovery. What was it?"
"I like your perseverance, Lois. You don't waste any time, I like that," Cassandra stated with a big grin on her face. "Let me be honest. I don't mind sharing my secrets with you, but the other night, there were men present. Call me superstitious, but I—I don't like to discuss my business in front of them, but since it is just the two of us…"
"Why don't you like to discuss your business in front of men?" Lois continued.
"Because many men have tried to take it away from me. They have failed of course and paid dearly for it, but you don't have to hit Cassandra over the head twice, if you know what I mean."
"I understand, but Clark would never…"
"I know, but like I told you, it is a superstition deal now, sort of like my rabbit's foot. Enough about that. Now, before I tell you my secret, you must swear to keep it forever and never ever divulge it. Lois, I trust you. I see you like a—" Cassandra reached for Lois' hand with her jeweled one, "a sister. Can I count on you?"
"Yes, of course."
"Brava!" With this, Cassandra retrieved a document out of her briefcase. It was enclosed air tight in plastic, obviously to protect it. The paper looked quite old and torn in a few places. Cassandra handled it as one would a newborn baby, and as such, she laid it upon the table facing Lois. "This is my treasure, my secret, the secret of my success, if you would."
"What is it?" Lois asked.
"Ancient recipes of what?"
"Ancient recipes of beauty. You see, the creators of these recipes were a very ancient civilization, and like I told you, very unique. They worshipped beauty, nature, birth and death, power, strength, independence, perseverance and courage. They were incredible."
"That's what made them unique?"
"No, darling, it was so much more."
"Not yet. Let me instead tell you about my deepest secret. See this ring?"
"How could I not?"
"It's gorgeous, isn't it? This too was part of my find."
"And you kept it?!" Lois asked, surprised and alarmed.
"It was given to me by Dr. Jonas Robertson. I asked and he gave. That's all. Since then, it has not left my finger. It is a lucky charm. A combination of my beauty secrets and this ring helped me become what I am."
"The Doctor just gave it to you just like that?"
"It was an engagement present."
"You were engaged?!" Lois could not believe that she was getting so much information so easily. At this rate, she would be able to coauthor the article with Clark. Of course, she would have to bury all that related to Cassandra's trade secrets.
"Yes. Love. Isn't it just great? When a man loves you, he would do anything for you. He would give you a queen's treasure if he could, and he did. Do you know what I mean about love, Lois?"
"Now we are getting to the good stuff. This is what I call girl talk. Who was he or who is he?"
"You know him."
"I do. Don't tell me. You and Pathos. I knew he was sweet on you."
Lois started laughing. She was sure Cassandra was kidding, and yet she noticed that Cassandra was not laughing. "You are kidding? Right, Cassandra?"
"Of course I am. You and that big loaf, please! So who is he?"
At the mention of this name, all blood drained from Cassandra's face. Her left eye started to twitch slightly and small sweat beads began to appear on her forehead. Cassandra instinctively reached for her diamond ring as if for comfort and played with it nervously.
Lois was oblivious to this reaction as she continued to detail her love story. "…and now we're engaged to be married."
"Engaged?" Cassandra managed to say softly.
"Yes. We couldn't be happier…"
Cassandra just nodded and smiled faintly. She began rubbing her hands together as Lois spoke. Her eyes focused on Lois' face as though looking through her.
"…and I never thought I would find somebody like him. I thank God every day."
"Cannot believe it," Cassandra whispered without emotion, "somebody finally got him."
"We kind of got each other."
"Yes, I see." Suddenly Cassandra reached for her briefcase and glanced at her watch. "My God, Lois, look at the time. We've been talking forever, but I have to go. Late for a meeting with my distributors, you understand. Let's do this again. OK?"
"Fine. I would love…"
"Great. Yes, mmm, chao!"
Cassandra hurried off leaving Lois to muse among the Gardenias. Lois had gotten plenty of information, but most importantly a name that could lead to more—Dr. Jonas Robertson. Lois smiled as she realized that Clark was right after all, this was a great opportunity to use all her investigatory skills!
Later that afternoon at The Daily Planet, Clark Kent received a phone call. He had been in the office most of the day, only leaving to run some "life saving errands," and now he sat at his desk waiting for Lois to return from her meeting with Cassandra. He had been glad when Lois told him that Cassandra invited her for tea. He couldn't think of a better scenario, his fiancee and his good friend getting to know each other. Sometimes he wondered though, if he were truly a good friend to Cassie. Until Lois, he had not been able to get really close to anybody for fear that they would discover his secret, for fear that they would treat him differently, like an anomaly or, worse yet, like the alien he was. So for the longest time, he had lived a solitary life; nobody ever got close enough to see him for what he really was, and perhaps Cassie, though memory betrayed, was not an exception. He picked up the phone. He recognized the voice immediately, because he had promised himself that he would never forget it again.
"Yes, hi, Cass. I thought you were with Lois?"
"I was, but I had something to do. That's why I'm calling you. I need to reshuffle our interview."
"No problem. Tell me when."
"I—okay. Tonight it is. What time is most convenient?"
"Fine. By the way, where's Lois?"
"Still having tea. Before I forget, let me congratulate you on your engagement. She's a beautiful girl, Clarkie. You are so lucky."
"Thanks, yes, I know. She's the best thing that ever happened to me."
"Lucky, lucky Clark. In that case, we must do something very special tonight."
"Cass, you don't have…"
"I want to. Enough said. See you tonight."
"See you…" Before Clark had a chance to say his goodbye, Cassandra abruptly ended the communication. He looked at his watch, five o'clock and Lois was not back yet. He was tempted to fly around and search for her, but reconsidered, feeling that she needed her space and anyway, he sensed that she was not in danger. He decided to go home and prepare for the interview tonight. There he would try calling Lois again. In the meantime, he wrote her a note, letting her know that the interview had been moved up and attached it to her desk lamp. Afterwards, he left.
Twenty-five minutes away from The Daily Planet at The National Archeological Society, Lois sought all information available on Dr. Jonas Robertson. Apparently, he had been a very talented archaeologist, a man responsible for very important finds in Egypt, Africa and Greece. He was a man of dignity and ethics—all artifacts from his digs had been preserved for museums. He was a great believer in the preservation of history for the masses. This fact in particular struck Lois as very odd in light of Cassandra's ring. The more Lois uncovered, the more excited she became. She lost all track of time as her only focus was the life of Jonas Robertson, and more importantly, where to find him. Her answer surfaced on the face of a newspaper column, more specifically, the obituaries. It seemed that seven years ago, Dr. Robertson had taken his life by jumping off a building. Those who knew him had no explanation except to say that since returning from his last dig in Greece, Dr. Robertson appeared different, distant and less animated.
Lois searched for all the articles referring to Dr. Robertson's death, and all told the same story—he was different, probably depressed, which would explain the suicide. However, Lois did not focus much on what was reported, but on what was not reported. None of the articles mentioned Dr. Robertson's next of kin, but more importantly, none of them mentioned his supposed fiancee. This was truly interesting. She had to share it with Clark. If he got angry for her going behind his back, she would handle it, but in her mind, this was quite a discovery. She looked at her wrist watch. It was half past six o'clock, and she prayed that Clark would still be at the office. She gathered her belongings and hurried out, all the while wishing to share this news with Clark. Although, she would have to figure out a way to tell him that there was something truly strange about his friend.
Lois arrived at The Planet at five minutes to seven. She immediately ran to Perry White's office, her editor-in-chief, to inform him of her discovery and to inquire as to Clark's whereabouts. She found Perry at his desk reading the completed articles that would make the morning edition of The Daily Planet. He hardly noticed Lois as she walked in and sat on the couch by his desk.
"Lois! You're back. Where have you been all day?" he asked, suddenly aware of her presence.
"I've been doing some research on Cassandra Hathaway."
"I thought that was Clark's assignment…"
"It is. But I thought I would lend him a hand. Perry, there's something strange about that woman."
"Is this your reporter's mind talking or your girlfriend's heart?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"I'm just making sure you keep your objectivity…"
"Perry, I'm a professional. I would never let my personal life interfere. And anyway, I have nothing against her. Just because she was Clark's friend in college, because she's charming and beautiful, because I know she had a thing for Clark and perhaps still does based on the fact that she only wanted HIM for the interview… does not mean I'm not going to be objective!"
"Of course it doesn't," Perry agreed as a smile began to appear on his face.
"Anyway," Lois continued, obviously exasperated, "it seems that seven years ago…" Lois began to report all her findings on Cassandra and Dr. Jonas Robertson. She felt compelled to report about the archeological dig, but yet was unable to tell Perry about the artifacts found, specifically the ring. It was as if her mouth was unable to say the words, though her mind wanted to. She told Perry everything she had on Cassandra, and he listened attentively, his eyes gleaming with every word.
At the same time at the Metropolis Palace Hotel, Clark arrived at Cassandra's door. Just as he began to knock, the door suddenly opened to reveal Cassandra. She was smiling her biggest smile and wearing her most seductive golden outfit. Clark smiled at her as one would do a best buddy. He was oblivious to her looks as he entered and found a seat on her sofa. Cassandra followed him, walking slowly behind him as a hunter tracking her prey.
"I'm glad you're here, Clarkie."
"Me, too. So tell me…"
"No. I'm not ready for business yet," Cassandra told him in her most seductive tone as she took a seat next to Clark.
She sat very close to him, forcing him to move farther toward the end of the sofa, and yet she kept moving until he didn't have anywhere else to go but the floor. Clark was pinned in between Cassandra and the end of the sofa. Yet he refused to believe that his college buddy, his platonic friend, had any designs on him, so he continued the conversation in a friendly tone, oblivious to the tense air around him.
"Okay. What do you want to do?" he asked.
"Have dinner," Cassandra smiled. "I assumed you have not eaten yet."
"No. I was supposed to meet Lois, but no, I haven't as a matter of fact."
"Great. Let's eat. Pathos!" With this, Pathos the giant walked away from his post at her bedroom door toward the kitchen where tonight's dinner was being prepared. Cassandra and Clark walked to the dining room together. As they walked, she slipped her arm into Clark's, who smiled nervously.
"Just like old times, right, Clark?"
"Remember when we used to walk through campus, just like this. Looking at the stars and the moon. You telling me how beautiful I—the night was."
Clark looked at her with a puzzled look in his eyes for he had no recollection of what she was describing. He was about to tell her he did not remember, but the sound of Pathos' voice made him stop.
"Madame, dinner is served."
He speaks! Clark thought as he and Cassandra took their seats at the table. As before, dinner was delicious, however the conversation was less animated. As they ate, Cassandra hardly spoke. This confused Clark. He was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. The realization that his friend was not the same person he knew and cared about in college began to slip through his mind, yet he resisted the thought that there may be something wrong with her. His memory was filled with images of a sweet, happy-go-lucky kid who followed him around and who became a good friend. Back then, he would have done anything for her, and he was sure she would have done the same. As they ate dinner, he found comfort in those memories, memories that blinded him to the reality of his present.
As they finished dinner, Cassandra directed Clark toward the living room for coffee. The two sat once again on the sofa as Pathos served the beverages. No words were exchanged. They drank their coffee in uncomfortable silence. Clark was eager to start the interview.
"Dinner was great, Cass."
She smiled softly. "That's the benefit of having a full- time chef. Just ask Oprah, not to mention the weight loss."
Clark smiled a relieved smile because this was the Cassie he remembered—funny and happy. "Are you ready to start the interview?" Clark asked, still smiling.
"Now is as good a time as any. Pathos!"
Pathos retired from the living room into Cassandra's room. He was not gone for five seconds when he appeared again. Behind him, six women dressed in ancient gowns followed. No emotions were detectable on their faces. They marched in silence behind Pathos purposely, like soldiers ready for battle.
Clark was astonished by this display. "Who are they, Cass?"
"They are my followers, I mean my employees. I figured that if I'm about to give my first real in-depth interview, that you as the interviewer should be privy to my world." Cassandra stood and walked around Clark toward the last woman on the row.
"This one is Thera. She just gave birth, the most natural occurrence on earth. She is a mother to us all." She slowly moved to the woman next to Thera. "This one is Eleni, beautiful and courageous. Quite a combination, don't you think?" She continued as she walked to the next two women. "These two are Diana and Athena, my twins, queens of battle from Rome to Greece, specimens of pure power." She moved to the last two women; all the while, Clark's eyes had been following her like slaves. "Finally, this one is Penelope, the only survivor of a family torn apart by disease. And this tall beauty beside her is Circe; though you cannot tell, she is the strongest of us all."
She smiled and nodded at the women who subsequently stood in a semicircle around Clark. He looked upon each of them curiously before turning toward Cassandra who was standing by Pathos smiling at him.
"And you know Pathos, my most loyal friend…"With this, she regained her seat next to Clark who turned to her. She stared deep into his eyes as she spoke, her voice soft like a whisper. "These are my maidens, the backbone of my life. I'm their queen, their beloved, their source of life. They are my muse, my fates and most loyal subjects…"
As she spoke, Clark started to hear music around them, and it sounded like a million voices humming the loveliest tune. He wondered where it was coming from and wanted to find its source, but he found it hard to move. His body felt like cement. Though he was the most powerful man on earth, he felt unable to move, he felt unable to take his eyes off Cassandra. The music continued as Cassandra spoke. All he heard was the music. Though her lips were moving, Clark could not distinguish the words anymore. All he heard was the music. He watched as Cassandra traced his face with her hand, all the while staring deep into his eyes and speaking words he couldn't hear. She traced his face slowly and softly. It felt like a mother's touch to him, and he reveled in it, falling deeper and deeper into her spell. He stared into her eyes until all he could see was the most beautiful yellow light emanating from her hand. It engulfed him as the music engulfed him, and he was lost. The last thing he heard was Cassandra's voice.
"Welcome home, Clark. Now you are a part of me. I own you. You can only listen to my voice. Your past is gone. I'm your present and your future and your forever. There is no one in the world who matters more to you than me. You agree?"
The only movement in his face came from his lips as he uttered the words, "Yes, Madame."
Back at The Planet, Lois finished her report to Perry, who was pacing anxiously around his office.
"Great Elvis Impersonators! Lois, I think you've got something here. Do you think you could go deeper into it? I'm telling you the angle about the artifacts themselves and how they weren't turned into a museum is curious enough. Wait a minute! You didn't tell me what the artifacts were."
"Perry, I can't. Believe me I want to. I really want to, but I can't."
"You told me everything else…"
"I know, but just trust me, Perry, okay?"
"Fine. You better get hold of Clark now. I want the two of you on this."
"Great. I hope he won't be mad that I went behind his back…"
"Don't worry, I'll tell him it was all my idea."
"No, Perry, I'll handle it. I'll take whatever comes. After all, I broke a promise. By the way, have you seen him?"
"Heck no. You know that boy is always disappearing on me. I can't keep track."
Lois smiled knowingly. "Yes. Let me check my machine. Maybe he left a message." Lois walked toward her desk to make her call. As she picked up the phone, she noticed a note attached to her desk lamp.
"Lois— Went to see Cassie, interview rescheduled for tonight, 7 PM. Remember, dinner at my apt. later. PS. No take out. See you later. Love, Clark."
Lois held the note in her hand for a while. Something about the rescheduling of the interview did not sit well with her. Her instincts told her that something was not right about this sudden change, especially in light of her afternoon meeting with Cassandra. When Cassandra left her at the tea house so abruptly, she felt that something was wrong, but she was so excited about the information gathered that she did not think about it twice. But now, the feeling had come again. Something was definitely wrong.
She grabbed her briefcase quickly, and just as she was about to leave en route toward the Metropolis Palace Hotel, Perry ran from his office yelling.
"Lois, quick, run to the Metropolis Palace Hotel. There's a jumper on the roof!"
"I'm on it, Chief!"
"Hurry! I'll call Jimmy!"
She ran to the elevator that would lead her to the street. As she rode the elevator, she couldn't help thinking that this jumper had something to do with Cassandra—that perhaps there was something truly wrong with her, something that would lead her to take her own life. One thought suddenly flashed through her mind—why Superman was not at the scene to save the jumper, whoever she is; after all, he was at the hotel. She felt her stomach knotting. She couldn't wait to get there, couldn't wait to make sure that Clark was okay.
Meanwhile, at Cassandra's suite, everything was calm and quiet. Cassandra rested as she stretched on Clark's lap while her servants stood in a semicircle around them. She was smiling and purring like a kitten upon Clark's lap. It was as though the biggest, most precious gift had been bestowed upon her on Christmas day. She felt she couldn't ask for anything more—the love of her life in her presence, doing everything she wanted him to or would want him to. It was truly a reward, one she deserved.
Clark felt nothing. He was merely a frozen image of his former self.
Obviously absent from the scene was Pathos, who abandoned his post by her bedroom. Nobody seemed to care about his absence, nobody seemed to notice. Right after Cassandra achieved her goal of enslaving Clark Kent, she knew she had everything her heart desired, the only thing her heart had truly desired. As Clark drifted into his comatose world, Cassandra directed her gaze at Pathos, who continued to stand loyally by his mistress. She walked toward him and rubbed her jeweled hand against his hard face. She knew he couldn't resist her, that he would do anything she wanted even if it cost him his life. As she stood in front him, she knew that this was a goodbye. She glanced behind her at Clark and smiled. Returning her gaze toward Pathos, she spoke.
"Pathos, dear Pathos. My loyal friend. I shall miss your massages and your vigilance, but it is time to depart, my love." She removed her hands from his face and walked behind him toward her balcony. As she walked, she gave her final command. "Go to the top of this castle, and fly for me, Pathos. Fly for me as I will be standing at this balcony knowing that by your actions you'll be declaring your undying love. Go now, Pathos. Make me happy, tell me you love me."
"Yes, Madame." He exited the suite, making his way toward the roof.
Now, Cassandra lay upon Clark's lap waiting for the unavoidable, the policemen who would surely come to her door inquiring about the man who had fallen to his death. "An employee…"she would say as they probed. "He appeared depressed… I never knew… I'm distressed… I cared so much for him…"She knew the responses by heart. She had spoken them before, and she was certain they would work again, especially if the investigators turned out to be male. So she waited for the expected as she enjoyed her new reward.
She looked at Clark, who appeared to wait for her next command. His will was gone, his inner strength was gone, and all that he had belonged to her now. His body, his present, his mind, his future, his heart, and his forever belonged to her now. She softly raised her hand to touch his face as if trying to be certain that he was truly there. Her hand traveled down his soft face to his strong neck, stopping at his shirt collar. Cassandra smiled a mischievous smile. With one hand, she started to undo his tie. Her eyes were focused and determined, but suddenly they widened, and the smile that appeared on her face was one to rival any other.
Outside the Metropolis Palace Hotel, a crowd had gathered, all looking up toward the man standing at the edge of the building spreading his arms. Some yelled for him to jump while others pleaded for him to reconsider.
Lois arrived at the scene. She had a desperate look in her eyes, and quickly looked up, trying to identify the jumper. She looked around her, all the while muttering, "Clark, where are you?"
As the last word left her lips, she heard a woman scream. It was too fast. Before she realized what was happening, the body of the jumper lay upon the pavement. All who were gathered dispersed. Some were crying and some were staring in disbelief. Lois walked toward the body cautiously. As she approached it, she noticed the incredible size of the man and the clothes he wore. She knew immediately who it was. She looked around her with a dazed look in her eyes. Then she heard the sirens approaching, saw the people staring, but none of it registered in her mind. She had to get upstairs to Cassandra's; she had to find Clark. As she retreated, she noticed the TV reporters beginning to arrive at the scene. Ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars arrived, but no Superman.
She slipped past the crowd gathered and entered the hotel. Lois rode the elevator straight to the penthouse. She didn't bother to knock at the door, but simply opened it and went in. She walked softly toward the living room, all the while looking around her for signs of activity. As she entered the living room, she saw him, sitting on the sofa staring in front of him with a blank look in his eyes. She quickly ran toward him.
"Clark? Clark, are you okay?" There was no response, no movement, not even the sound of his breath. "Clark, what's wrong with you?" she asked hysterically. "Can you hear me? Clark, it's me, Lois. Answer me!" It was too much for her.
She attempted to move him, but it proved futile. It was as though his body were made of steel, literally. Lois started to pace, oblivious to the possible presence of other people in the suite. She walked back to him.
"Come on, Clark, we have to get out of here. Clark! Please, let's go."
"He is not going anywhere, Lois," Cassandra announced as she entered the room, dressed in her gold gown, followed by her maidens. "Clarkie has decided to stay with me. Forever."
"What are you talking about?"
"He dumped you."
"No. He would never…" Lois stared at Cassandra in disbelief. "What have you done to him?"
"Me? Nothing. Here, let me ask him. Clarkie, do you want to stay with me forever? Oops, sorry, my mistake. I meant SUPERMAN."
Lois' eyes widened, and her lower lip began to tremble.
Clark looked up at Cassandra, and without hesitation, his lips began to utter the words, "Yes, Madame."
Cassandra smiled, obviously satisfied. She slowly turned toward Lois and noticed her reaction.
"Lois, why do you look so frightened or is it a surprised look I see? For sure you knew that Clarkie was the man of steel… After all, you were engaged."
"This can't be. No," Lois said, shaken by Cassandra's discovery.
Cassandra walked toward Lois and began to circle her, sizing up Lois' disposition. "At first I thought Clarkie had a problem… like a delusion. But then, it all came together. Look at him. He is the spitting image, sans the glasses, of course. Even that little mole on his upper lip is the same. Personally, I prefer the glasses—what do you think?"
"Cassandra, what have you done to him? What have you done to Superman?" Lois asked desperately as Cassandra suddenly stopped in front of her.
"Now we call him Superman? You guys must have led a very confusing life. I wonder—how did you know what to call him and when?"
"You can't do this, Cassandra!" Lois moved quickly toward Clark.
"Oh yes, I can! Ever since I can remember, I've wanted him. I know it's hard to believe, but I became conscious of life the moment I met him… and now I feel like a lotto millionaire. I have Clark, but I also have the most powerful man on earth. A man who could do anything I ask him to. I think that now, I will truly be the ruler of the world! But Lois, you were very selfish—imagine you were engaged to both Superman and Clark… greedy, greedy, greedy."
"This is insane," Lois cried. "Cassandra, you can't. We love each other." Clark did not respond, and Cassandra smiled a condescending smile.
"Lois, haven't you heard that 'love is fleeting'? He just realized that I was the queen of his heart, the one and only. I'm 'IT'! You can't compete with that, can you?" Cassandra leaned menacingly toward Lois.
Lois stood defiant. She was no longer afraid or bewildered, but stood tall, confronting the evil before her. "You are a liar… a monster."
"No insults. Lois, I like you. Your independence and perseverance are qualities that I admire and desire. I think you will be a great asset to my entourage. What do you think, would you like to join our little family? Clark will play daddy, of course. I'm sure he will provide."
"You're crazy!" Lois quickly turned to Clark again and tried to bring him to reality. "Come on, Clark, let's go!"
"Lois, I do love your perseverance. I don't want to kill you. I mean, I don't want Superman to ruin his hands with your blood. Instead, I want you to be part of my family. Don't make this difficult for us." Cassandra walked toward Clark. The two women stood to the left and right of him as they faced each other. Cassandra, smiling, turned her gaze to Clark.
"Clarkie, my love, I want you to do something for me—" Clark turned to Cassandra. He snapped out of his trance momentarily and immediately felt as though he had just awakened from a long dream. A dream where only one woman ruled and where all his defenses were torn apart by the sound of just one voice. A voice that controlled him and made him forget the world. "Yes, that's it, my love." Clark stared at her reverently as though she were a queen. "You are such a good boy. Honey, I want you to detain Lois now."
Before Lois could do anything, Clark grabbed her by the arms and brought her to him. Lois grimaced as his strong hands tightened around her arms, and for the first time, noticed that Clark Kent no longer existed. His touch was no longer gentle and loving, nor did she feel the tingle that resulted every time he touched her. A stranger stood before her now, a mere puppet, a man without a drop of emotion. Lois felt her heart break as she looked into his vacant eyes. She had seen that same look at the airport; it was a look reserved for strangers, for those who have no meaning in one's life.
"Clark, listen to me… Don't do this; she has no hold over you… please…" Her pleas fell on deaf ears as he lifted her up over his shoulders. "Don't do this, please!"
"Save your breath, Lois. He can't hear you. Don't worry, this won't take long. Take her to the bedroom, Clarkie."
Clark did as ordered. He took Lois to Cassandra's room, laid her on top of the bed and then stood frozen waiting for Cassandra's command. Everything was dark except for the light coming from the candles at the four corners of the room. Diana, Athena, Penelope and Eleni took hold of Lois. Two held her arms, while the other two held her legs down, as Circe and Thera stood by the door. Cassandra walked in slowly as Lois struggled to break free.
"Good, Clarkie. Now be a sweetheart… go back to the living room and sit. I'll call you if I need you." Clark started to walk out of the room without a single glance toward Lois.
"Clark! Don't do this!" Lois pleaded, hoping to reach the man she loved. "Clark, please. I love you!"
For an instant, those pleading words seemed to break through his clouded mind like a bit of light. He stopped at the bedroom door, unsure as to what to do next. He started to move back into the room as if a magnet were pulling him, but that reaction lasted only an instant.
"What are you waiting for, Clark?! Go to the living room." He didn't hesitate after hearing Cassandra's voice and walked out of the bedroom. "Lois, take it easy. You'll love this, I promise. You will become part of our sisterhood. Think of it as the first sorority. We have to hold you down because it does not work as fast with women as it does with men. I've always known that we have stronger minds."
Lois closed her eyes in defeat, but suddenly a burst of defiance and anger erupted. "You'll never get what you want!"
"Ha! Look around you, Lois. I've gotten everything I've ever wanted. I'm rich, famous, beautiful, powerful, so powerful that I've got people at my feet, ready to do whatever I want them to. You can't get more powerful than that. Most importantly, I have Clark Kent and Superman. Mmm, I can see how this could get confusing." Cassandra thought for a moment, but then shook her head and directed her gaze at Lois. "I'm sure you know by now that I loved him so. I still do, but back then he rejected me…" Cassandra's face displayed all the anger she had felt as a result of that one rejection. "…I was there for him, showing him my love, and all the while he played with me. He made me believe that he cared. He would smile at me, and I would just faint… He knew what he was doing to me. He knew he was making me fall for him…"
"Clark would never do that."
"Shut up! What do you know, Lois? He knows he has that power (among others) and he uses it to torture, but guess what? I got the power, too. I use it as he used it—I torture, I enslave, and when I get bored, I eliminate."
"Like you eliminated Dr. Robertson and Pathos?!"
"Oh, them. Mere practice, Lois. Casualties of war, nothing else. Jonas was my first. I found the ring, and he wanted to send it to a museum for god's sake. He didn't understand the power. He couldn't understand it. (Too much testosterone or something.) I couldn't let him do that. You don't know what I felt the first time I tried the ring on. It was like all the knowledge in the world was revealed to me. I felt powerful, beautiful… I stopped being that lanky geek that ran around campus after Clark Kent. I became Cassandra Hathaway! Imagine having that power, Lois? I couldn't give it up and I didn't. And Pathos—he was quite useful, in more ways than one. He helped me get here. Too bad he had to fly… Oh, but now… Clark Kent can't help loving me, and you, you are going to be our new sister. Everything fell into place, Lois. First, I get Clark, the only man I've truly desired, who turns out to be the man every woman desires, and as a bonus I also get you, the last piece of the puzzle."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about rebuilding a society based on beauty, power, nature, birth, courage, perseverance, strength and independence, for all the women in the world. I, I will be your queen and we will rule together… all of us!"
"Cassandra, you need help. Stop this madness before it's too late!"
"Lois, it is meant to be. I knew it the moment I slipped this ring on my finger. I knew that I was to rebuild our civilization. A civilization made up of powerful women. A civilization where men are but mere pawns, kept for our amusement. Imagine how much fun that's going to be—no need to fear for our safety or vow to 'the man.' I have butterflies in my stomach! We need you, Lois. Your perseverance and independence complete the recipe. Soon all the women in the world will follow us (thanks to a little something I put in their cosmetics). It's perfect, Lois! Everybody will love me just as Clark loves me now… because I will be their true queen!"
"Cassandra listen to me…" Lois started to plead, tempering her anger. "You can't force people to love you…"
"Really? I never knew that" Cassandra said sarcastically.
"…I'm, I'm sure Clark didn't mean to lead you on. I know he didn't even know that you loved him. He told me…"
"He is a liar. But guess what, I'll fix him. He is going to be a good boy from now on. Do you think he'll scoop me into his arms and take me flying? I always wanted to go to the Andes…"
"You won't succeed, Cassandra. He doesn't love you now, and no amount of magic will make him love you. You can't order love as if you could buy it from a Victoria's Secret catalogue! That's not what love is."
"And you know what it is?"
"Yes, I do!"
"This is amusing. Go on, tell me."
"It's like finding your heart, a heart you've been searching for all your life, and when you find each other, you know you only have room for it and nothing else can take its place. You can't take its place."
"Like finding my heart? And it can't be replaced?"
"That is so corny, Lois. Where did you read that, in a fortune cookie? Look around you. I've replaced it. Your lover doesn't even know you. He could kill you if I wanted him to. Your little theory is flawed, Lois. Enough of this ridiculous talk, it's time for you to come home."
Lois continued to struggle as Cassandra walked toward her, her ring shining brightly. Lois closed her eyes, refusing to look upon the light. She continued to fight, but in no time, Cassandra was standing at the foot of the bed. Lois struggled to break free when suddenly Penelope let go of her leg. Quickly with her free leg, she kicked Cassandra in the stomach. As Cassandra doubled over, her servants rushed toward her to ascertain her well-being. Lois jumped from the bed and tried to run away. Noticing that her path was blocked by Circe and Thera, she reached for one of the tall candle holders placed around the room. She began to whirl the candle holder around, seeking to make way for her escape.
"Grab her!" Cassandra yelled breathlessly as she tried to stand.
The six women charged toward Lois, who continued to whirl the candle holder around with all her might. She hit Penelope on the face who subsequently fell backwards into Circe; the two fell to the floor and hit their heads, falling unconscious. Next she hit Thera on the shin, and out of balance Thera bumped into Diana who fell on top of Athena. Lois noticed that Cassandra had been left unprotected and decided to rush to her as Eleni attempted to grab her. She reached for Cassandra who was still gasping for air. Cassandra grabbed her arms, and the two women began to struggle. Their struggle took them into the living room where Clark still sat with a vacant look in his eyes.
Lois reached for Cassandra's ring. Cassandra, realizing this, tried to bite Lois' hand. Lois managed to get hold of the enormous diamond and pulled, as Cassandra fought to free her hand. They fought all the way to the balcony. Lois held the ring, and Cassandra tried to break free. The two came dangerously close to the railing. Lois tried to pull Cassandra into the living room to no avail. Suddenly, Cassandra slipped and fell over the railing, almost pulling Lois with her. As Lois managed to regain her balance, she held on to Cassandra's ring. With her free hand, she reached for Cassandra, urging her to hold on. Cassandra reached for Lois' free hand. Just as she managed to grab hold of it, the ring on Cassandra's finger slipped off and fell into the abyss, leaving her to dangle by one hand.
"No! No! No!" Cassandra yelled as though someone had ripped her heart out.
As the ring fell to the street, Clark awoke from his magic-induced trance. He shook his head and tried to reassess his position, but he didn't have time for the screams of Cassandra alerted him to the danger. He quickly rushed to the balcony to find Lois holding on to Cassandra who had fallen over the rail. He helped Lois pull Cassandra in and carried her to the sofa. Cassandra was speechless. A frozen, battered image of her former self. Her eyes were vacant, and her limbs lacked any will.
"Lois, what happened?" Clark asked, unaware of the previous events.
"Oh, Clark…" She threw her arms around him and began to kiss him desperately.
"Lois, not here… not now…"
"Here is the best place and now is the best time." She continued to kiss him, and, realizing this was a battle he wanted to lose, he yielded to Lois' advances.
Upon the sofa, the shell of a once-powerful woman remained. No longer was life a pleasure, no longer would power run through her veins like blood, no longer would men and women fall at her feet like petals to worship her. There Cassandra lay, watching as her maidens, newly awakened and free from her spell, walked off with Metropolis detectives, watching as Lois Lane & Clark Kent walked out of her life with pity in their eyes, watching as men dressed in white covered her body with a peculiar jacket. For a second, she felt normal, but only for a second did she feel like the queen she sought to become, as the men in white slipped the straight jacket over her head. Her mind was gone, her memories and desires gone. All her knowledge was gone, as though the mere act of taking her ring off had resulted in the obliteration of her mind, her essence, her self. As they took her away, a catatonic mass, a solitary thought crossed her mind and that was—how fast one could go from riches to madness, as fast as a ring falling into the abyss.
Tuesday morning at The Daily Planet, Lois and Clark sat in Perry's office. He had loved the story of the queen of cosmetics who wanted to be an Amazon queen. He was frightened by her descent into madness and concerned about the women she had kidnapped and hypnotized. Perry was happy that The Daily Planet was the first to sound the alarm about the dangerous ingredients in Hathaway cosmetics. He was sad about Clark and what he went through, and he was happily ignorant of the Superman side of things. He was amazed that a ring could yield so much power and curious as to its whereabouts.
"Superman searched for it after the incident and luckily found it among some shrubbery. He sent it to STAR Labs for analysis," Lois answered his question.
"Great, we wouldn't want that out on the streets. As a matter of fact, Lois, let's not mention it in the article," Perry ordered.
"Good idea, Perry," Lois answered as she smiled at him. She glanced at Clark who was sitting quietly, obviously disturbed. Perry noticed the mood and ordered the couple to take the day off, and they agreed.
Later that night at Lois' apartment, Lois and Clark sat on her couch reflecting on the events. When Clark found out what happened to him and why, he was very distressed, but he put those feelings away, concerned primarily about Lois' well- being. He wondered how he could've hurt her, how he could've forgotten all the love he held for her. He could not believe that with all the power he possessed, he was unable to prevent the incident. His inability to do so added another limit to his powers, and as a result, he felt vulnerable. He felt fear for if Cassandra had achieved her evil goals, he would've become a weapon for destruction, but more so, he would've been capable of hurting the one person who meant the most to him. He felt anger, sadness and great disappointment, but now in the quiet of Lois' apartment, he felt guilty.
"Lois, if I would have known… that she felt like that, I would have spoken to her, I would have let her know that… I can't believe I was so blind. How did I not see the signs? I could've prevented it, I know I could have… And you… How can I live with the knowledge that I caused you pain? I can't…"
"You can't blame yourself. You were not you."
"I want you to know that I would never do anything to hurt you."
"Clark, I know it. I've always known it. You… you are the kindest man in the world. I feel safe with you, the kind of safety I've never known and what happened can't change that."
"What if it happens again? What if I use my powers against you? I… "
"It will never happen. That was not you…"
"Who was that then, Lois? Who am I?" his eyes pleaded as though seeking salvation.
"You know that better than anybody, Clark. But if you need a little help… you are a loving man. You love people or else you wouldn't be helping us every time we get into trouble. You like to help, you're honest not superficial, you give of yourself. But most importantly, you are the man I love."
"Call me a regular Boy Scout…" he joked, masquerading his distress with humor.
"You are that, too, though you can't start a fire without me. I mean an old-fashioned fire." The two smiled.
Lois moved closer to Clark and put her head on his shoulders. "What happened had nothing to do with who you are. You were a victim, we both were."
"We've been through a lot, Lois, but I… I've never felt this vulnerable. I can't help thinking that I may be responsible."
"It was all her. She was obsessed. Clark, she had lost hope. She couldn't love anymore and she couldn't believe that anyone would care for her, without her having to resort to spells. She never knew what true love was… she was just a very lonely woman… Sometimes I think had you not come into my life…" She looked straight at him with a look that told him how much he meant to her, a look that told him that he was truly her savior. "Trust me when I tell you, it was all her doing."
"You think so? But what do we do now?"
She put her hands on his and stared tenderly into his eyes. "We love each other. We plan a wedding, go on with our lives and try to learn from it."
"Have you learned anything?" he asked cautiously.
"Yes, I have. I learned that you are the love of my life and I will do anything to safeguard this. Anything." She kissed him gently on the cheek.
"Thank you for saving me, Lois. This whole thing made me realize how much I truly need you."
"I had to do it," she told him simply.
"Why is that?" he asked, already aware of her answer, but to hear it from her lips would mean peace of mind, the realization that no matter what had happened or would ever happen, her love would always be a constant in his life.
"I couldn't live without my heart."
Clark looked deep into her eyes, and all the love in the world emanated from them. With one look, they expressed everything that needed to be communicated. As one tear fell from her eye, Clark reached toward her, seeking the kiss that would seal their love forever. As their lips gently touched, they knew that home could only be found in each other's arms.
… FOR NOW