The Best Present

By L and C 14 <>

Rated PG

Submitted July 1998

Summary: Lex Luthor has kidnapped Lois Lane again, this time determined to marry her once and for all. An episode intended to replace the fourth-season Christmas episode.

Author's note : I'm putting this in place of the fourth season Christmas episode of Lois & Clark (the title of that episode is eluding me at the moment). The end is a little sugary sweet, I guess, but that's the kind of thing that we like to end eps. of Lois & Clark, isn't it? :-)

All characters belong to Warner Bros… or TNT. Whoever it is now. I write this story for my own pleasure (and for the pleasure of others who read it), and make no money. I also have no money, so people had better not sue me. It would prove to cost more money for you then you'd be getting. Comments are always gladly taken.


It was roughly a week before Christmas, give or take a few days. Lights trimmed nearly every house on every street. You could almost see the magic in the air.

Clark walked toward his home, a smile on his face. He loved this season, with all of the lights. He still felt like a little kid, waiting for Santa Claus. He walked through a puddle of melted snow.

And Lois was coming home! She had been gone for a week, on assignment in New York. But now she was coming home!

Today was going great for Clark. He hoped it would last.


Clark walked back into his house, hours later, feeling horrible. His mind was still trying to comprehend the idea.

Lois was dead. The plane had crashed.

Tears glistened in his eyes as he walked towards his room. He just wanted to die.

How quickly a mood can change.


Lois woke up with a slight headache. She looked around and saw that she was lying on a queen-sized bed under a new white comforter.

"Clark?" she called, confused.

"Sorry, no. He's not here," came a voice from down a hall. Lois didn't know where she was, but she thought she knew who she was with.

"No," she whispered, as if this one word could take her back home — or at least get rid of the voice.

"Good morning," he said as he came in. Lois had been right. His light brown curls were combed, and his were cheeks in need of a tan. He wore a royal blue robe. He hadn't gotten dressed yet. His brown eyes were lit up, as they had been on their wedding day. It was Lex Luthor.

Lois stared at him, wanting to scream. But she couldn't. She was too shocked.

"No. Oh, God, please no," she managed to whisper.

"I take it you are surprised, Lois," said Lex, as he took a sip from his coffee mug.

"You're dead."

"Not so. I just decided to hide out for a while."

"You were crushed," she replied.

"You just think I was. I'm not that stupid, Lois."

"How did you get out?" she managed.

"My secret. Let's just say that appearances can be deceiving."

"Why are you doing this to me?"

Lex looked at Lois, surprise in his eyes. "You know it's because I want to be with you. I love you."

"Get a clue. I'm married. I don't love you," replied Lois, calming.

"Yes, but what can you do if I'm the only person left?"

"Huh?" Lois managed, going white from the look in Lex's eyes.

"Lois, you are now dead to everyone else. The plane crashed. Clark Kent is a widower."

Lois just gave him a stunned look.

"The world thinks that the plane crashed and that you are dead," he said, and paused.

"I am your only one, Lois. I am the cliche', the last man on earth. I am your only reality now."

"Everyone thinks I'm dead?" Lois whispered the question, in a small, scared voice.

"Everyone. Who can disagree with what they can see themselves? There are some clothes in that closet, if you would like to change. I suggest you do; that nightie is a bit breezy. And it is cold here."

Lois looked underneath the comforter and saw that she had on a virgin white nightie, trimmed with eyelet lace. She looked back up.

"You changed my clothes?"

"I had to, darling," he said, pronouncing it 'dahling'. "Your suit was torn and covered in mud."

"Did the plane really crash, Lex?"

He nodded, slowly. "Don't worry, Lois. The people aren't dead. They just don't remember the trip they took."

He looked at his watch. "I've got to call some people, love. I'll be back," he said, and disappeared. He locked the pure white door behind him.

Lois turned back to her pillow. Clark thought she was dead. How could he ever help her? She buried her face in the pillow and cried.


Clark roused himself long enough to use the bathroom. All he wanted to do was sleep — just spend the rest of his life in bed.

He walked out of the bathroom and looked at his watch. It was only a day later. This was hell.

He lay back down in the middle of the bed, ignoring everything around him. He wondered about Lois. He found himself vaguely recalling a situation in which Lois had thought he was dead, but the images would not come to mind.

He shook his head. This was too much work. He pulled the blanket over his body once more, and fell into a fast and dreamless sleep.


Lois stood by the locked door of her bedroom (though it felt more like a prison). The room was without flaw. There was no heater vent, absolutely nothing to let her out.

Well, there was one. A tall window sparkled with the morning sunlight of the beginning of her second day in Lex's home. The previous night, Lois had found a number of cloth belts and fashioned them into one long rope. She had lowered them out the window, only to find that it overlooked a cliff which dropped 700 feet.

Late the previous night, after Lois had fallen asleep, Lex had seen through her plan and had gotten rid of the belts. Lois now wore a loose pair of jeans, a white sweatshirt, and a gold ring that she could not get off her finger. Lois did not know where the ring had come from. Her own wedding band was gone.

She leaned against the far wall of the room and stared at the door. She hoped that she could open it, if she put her mind to it.

She thought, and thought, and suddenly something amazing happened. The doorknob turned, and the door creaked open. Lois stood up with a wave of hopefulness.

But her hope subsided abruptly when she saw that Lex had opened it. He carried a silver tray which held a mug of coffee and a waffle.

"Breakfast is served, mademoiselle," he said, setting the tray on her bed.

Lois looked at him. "I just want you to know, Lex, that I am never going to love you. You may be the last man on earth, but I will still not wed you."

Lex Luthor smiled mischievously.

"I thought you'd think up something like this. So, I'm going to up the stakes. You marry me, or I kill Superman."

"You can't kill Superman."

"I can," he said, and he smiled again. "I can, if I lure him here, letting him think he might be able to get you."


"Lois, you seem to be very naive about your ex-husband. He is desperate. He will do anything if he thinks he'll get you back to him, alive and well," he said, and his eyes caught hers.

"I would have," he finished, a little sadly.

Lois started to speak, but he interrupted her. "At any rate, I'm not going to get you if I play fairly. I tried that. It didn't work. So, either you marry me, and stay married to me, or Clark is no longer."

"Now," he said, looking at a gold pocket watch. "Now, mon amore, I have things to do. I will see you later. Au revoir."

He opened the door, and then he paused and looked at her. "I know you can't get out of my home, so I think I'll leave the door unlocked," he said. He left the room, closing the door gently behind him.

Lois wiped a tear away from her eye and slowly walked towards the door. Slowly, she turned the gold knob as if it were unreal. She opened the door and walked out into a white hallway.


Clark woke up again, feeling a little strange. For the first time in two days, he got up and dressed. He walked downstairs into the front room.

He sat on the couch. He had awakened feeling suddenly hopeful. It was odd. Lois was dead. Why would he feel hopeful?

He flipped on the TV. A news reporter sat behind his desk, mid-way into a report. "The scientists are baffled as to what was really stolen at Star Labs. The guards are not sure what happened, and the scientists say something is missing, but they won't say what."

Clark tuned out of the report for a second. Had they just said Star Labs? He listened back in.

"Police are confused as well. The security system seems to indicate that nothing happened. The videotape shows nothing of importance. Shown here is the only activity caught on videotape. The individual on this tape is Manuel Lambert, a well-known and trusted guard at Star Labs. Police searched his home but found nothing."

Clark clicked off the television set and stared at the blank screen. He felt clear-headed, though he hadn't the slightest idea why. Lois is dead. His mind kept repeating that. But now, for some strange reason, Clark wasn't positive about that anymore.

Maybe it was just a premonition, or maybe he had just been too grief-stricken to think about this yesterday. Today, however, Clark's mind seemed to be working hard. He thought about the crash.

It had been very abrupt. He didn't know what had caused it, and it had been too fast. Superman couldn't reach it in time. Maybe he could find out what had caused the crash. He stood up and changed into his regular work clothes. He started for the door, then moved back from it and sighed. He finally felt happier. Just then he heard a bank alarm going off. He spun into his suit and flew out the window.


Lois walked slowly through the long hall, touching everything as if in a dream. She was vaguely surprised when she saw a baby evergreen tree, decorated with lights, sitting on a polished wood desk. Then she reminded herself that it was almost Christmas.

She touched the polished cherry wood of the desk, sweeping her fingers over carvings in the wood. It was a gorgeous desk.

She continued to walk, and soon found the hallway leading into a room. She went in.

She was in a small, closet-like room. In it were stairs going down to the first floor and up to the third floor, and one other item of interest. There was a little safe with a keypad lock. Lois looked at it, curiously, then shrugged and went downstairs.

The next room she was in, after going down the stairs, was a spacious family room. A big screen TV sat in one corner, seemingly unused. Against one wall was a tan leather sofa. In front of the sofa was a coffee table of blond wood. The table, when felt underneath (which Lois did for no particular reason) had a secret compartment. Lois wondered why Lex had these secret things.

Going out of the family room, and into another white hall, Lois found a gorgeous living room. Against one wall was a beautiful antique piano. Lois sat at the bench and touched the ivory keys gently. She stared at it a moment, looking at its beauty. She jumped up when she heard a footstep.

"Good afternoon, Lois. I see you decided to go exploring," came a voice, and Lois turned. She saw Lex, and, though she felt scared, she answered calmly.

"This is a gorgeous piano, Lex," Lois said.

"I didn't know you noticed detail so well, love. Can you play?"

Lois giggled nervously. "Only 'Joy to the World.'"

"You'll have to teach me that sometime. In years to come, I suppose," replied Lex. He walked over to the piano and fingered the ivory keys as Lois had.

"It is almost as beautiful as you," he said.

Lois looked at him. "Will you ever let me go?"

Lex shrugged, calmly. "Hadn't planned on it."

Lois tried again. "Can't you see that I don't love you?"

Lex chuckled, softly. "Deja vu. Everything comes in due time. Even love. You will marry me, Lois. You could never let Clark die. And, once we are wed, it is only time until you fall for me once more."

Lois lost her calmness. She glared fully at Lex. "You are evil."

"Only to some," he answered. "Come on," he told her. Lois followed him out of the living room.


Clark walked away from the airport after thanking the detective that was working on the plane crash. He walked towards Lois's jeep, and he was almost smiling. He had information.

Clark entered the Jeep and started the long drive home, still puzzling over what he had learned. From what the officials could tell, the plane hadn't crashed due to loss of fuel or to anything else ordinary. The controls had gotten stuck, and the plane had gone down. It seemed as if it had been tampered with, but there were no fingerprints. Then again, why would somebody tamper with the controls? The detective thought it might have been to exact revenge on somebody that had been on board.

However, all of the passengers had been very ordinary. They wouldn't have been wanted so badly as to cause someone to go to this much trouble. The detective was stumped, but Clark had a clue. He guessed that somebody had really wanted Lois. And there was only one person Clark knew who had both the inclination and the means to abduct Lois in this way.

Clark had a bad feeling as he drove up to his home, his mind racing. He had the feeling that this was the work of Lex Luthor.


Lois had been lying again on the queen-sized bed, feeling utterly lazy, when she'd had a thought.

Lex was right, in the end. She could not let Clark die. She reached for the music box at the side of her bed. It was made of ivory and was about as beautiful as everything else in the house. Lex Luthor had a thing for beauty.

Beside the music box was a phone. Unfortunately, she had already learned that it provided no outside access. Lex had told her that if she dialed "1", it would send a signal to him. Any other number on the dial would not work. Lois bit her nail, and she pressed "1". Then she hung up and waited.

About five minutes later, Lex came in the door. He was dressed in a casual work suit, but he looked as though he had been pulled out of something important.

"Yes, Lois?"

"I really hate this, but … About your proposal, Lex. And my answer," she said.

He lost his slightly annoyed look, and he walked into the room. His eyes locked on to hers and held them. "Yes?"

Lois took a deep breath, willing herself not to cry. "My answer is yes."

Lex Luthor got this sort of amazed look in his eyes. "Yes?" he echoed, asking if that was what she truly meant to say.

"It really isn't as if I have a choice," she said, softly. Lois dropped her eyes to the carpet.

She looked back up. "So you can stop your huge plan, whatever it may be. I'll marry you, Lex. I'll stay married to you. I promise." Lois heard herself, and she was surprised by the sound of her voice. She sounded young and scared and hopeless. She wondered if he, too, heard the tone in her voice.

He didn't answer her, not directly. "Do you love me now, Lois? Have you found that spot in your heart? Or is this just to save your true love?"

Lois didn't answer him. She couldn't, and he understood.

"Your silence betrays you, but again I hope that I can find that piece of you that loves me. As for the plan, well, I won't lure him here. But if he comes on his own accord, then I will do everything in my power to stop him from breaking us apart."

He started to leave. "The dress is in the closet. The wedding will be tonight, at the very latest. I'll come back for you when it's time." He walked out of the door, closing it behind him.

Lois stared at the door a moment longer and then collapsed on the bed. She prayed that this would work out for her. That somehow she would not spend the rest of her life being Lex Luthor's wife. She knew that he loved her, but she didn't love him. She could not bear to be trapped like this forever.

Lois's head sank into the pillow, and she fell into a deep sleep.


Jimmy Olsen gave Clark a very odd and surprised look when Clark walked into The Daily Planet that same day. He had heard that something had happened to Lois, though he didn't know she was *dead*, and he hadn't thought that Clark would be in today.

"C.K.?" Jimmy asked as Clark walked towards his desk.

Clark turned. He was almost lost in thought. "Jimmy, could you do me a favor?"

"Sure. What?"

"See if there's been any recent activity with LexCorp. Specifically, new branches or any new management. And see if you can come up with anything on the death of Lex Luthor."

"Sure," said Jimmy, and he darted away. Clark sat at his desk, and flipped on his computer. He started to connect to the Internet, but just as he started he heard a faint cry for help. With a resigned and slightly annoyed sigh, he turned off the computer and left.

When he returned, ten or fifteen minutes later, Jimmy had something in his hands.


Jimmy handed him a piece of paper. "I don't know if this is important, but a small branch of LexCorp bought a piece of land in the Alps. They said that they were going to do something with it, but there's no record of any construction. Does that help?"

Clark's eyes lit up with an idea. Suddenly, he felt better. "Yeah. Thanks, Jimmy."

"Can I go now, then?"

"Sure," replied Clark, and he left The Daily Planet. Soon, a streak of blue and red could be seen across the sky.


Lois slipped herself into the wedding dress. It was summery, with white embroidery and spaghetti straps. It was delicate, beautiful, and probably worth a fortune. Inside the closet, Lois also found a garland veil, with gorgeous silk flowers on the brim. She brushed her dark hair and fitted the veil onto her head.

When she was done fussing with herself, she sat on the edge of the bed. She had barely had time to think when the door opened. Lex walked in wearing a hand-tailored suit. He took one look at her and smiled.

"You are a picture of radiance," he told her, the poet as always. "Are you ready?"

"Yes," she said as she stood up. Lex led her out the door.

"Do you have any world domination plans this time, Lex?" Lois asked him as they walked.

He looked at her for a second. "Yes, but everything in due time. First things first, and that means you and I getting married," he replied, leading her into a big white room. Inside was a player piano, a few empty chairs, hundreds of spring flowers, a bouquet of roses and a priest at a stand. In a few seats sat a few people that Lois didn't recognize. Probably new henchmen.

As Lex held her arm and led her up the aisle, Lois did a double take at the priest. "Is that the bishop?" she whispered.

"A bishop, yes," he replied.

"You really do things first-class" said Lois, recalling their first wedding and what had been there.

He didn't reply as they made their way to the end of the aisle. The assembly stood up, and the bishop began the speech that Lois was starting to know by heart.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the eyes of God to …" Lois noticed, out of the corner of her eye, one rather big man move away from the chairs and to a corner of the white room, near what seemed to be a crack in the wall. Lois felt a squeeze of her hand and looked to see Lex smiling at her. He knew that she was doing this just for Clark, but he loved being next to her like this.

Lois then heard something that caused her to jump involuntarily. She heard a loud crash, sort of like a large pane of glass shattering. Lex heard it too, and he seemed annoyed. He also seemed sort of expectant. Lois was confused, but she decided not to dwell on it.

She tried to listen to the ceremony, but she couldn't concentrate. She could hear footsteps in the room outside of this one. They paused at the door and then the door opened. Lois looked towards the door, and saw — Clark!

He was dressed in his Superman suit, and there was a set in his jaw and an odd look in his eyes. One of anger, annoyance, and fierce determination.

Lois wanted to yell out his name, but she suppressed herself. Instead, she looked at Lex and was surprised. He did not look angry or even surprised. Just annoyed.

Clark walked in. "Luthor! I should have …" he started, and then yelled out in pain. Lois wasn't sure why until she saw the man at the corner of the room. He had opened up a hidden door in the wall and had taken out a piece of glowing kryptonite. Clark continued to wince in pain. He fell over and down.

Lois tried to run to him before she realized that Lex was still holding her hand. He was watching Clark, carefully. Then he let go of Lois's hand and put it in the hand of one of his henchmen. The henchman held her hand tightly, and Lois watched as Lex walked over to Clark. Lex had a triumphant look in his brown eyes.

"You thought you had me, didn't you?" he taunted. Clark didn't look up as Lex continued. "You thought you could come over here, arrest me, and get Lois back all before dinner. Didn't you? I honestly thought you'd know me better than that."

Lex waited a moment for a response, but he didn't get one. He continued to speak, mercilessly.

"As you can see, my dear boy, you haven't won. You've lost. I have Lois — see the wedding dress? Sure, her reasons for saying yes weren't quite as beautiful as the reason she said yes to you, but it's yes just the same."

Clark looked up just then and caught Lois's eye. He held it for one moment, and then he dropped his head. The kryptonite was still there.

"And I have you," continued Lex. "And, soon, you will be gone," he finished. He made a wave with a hand. Two henchmen grabbed Clark's arms and dragged him away.

When they were gone and the other henchman had left with the kryptonite, Lex walked back to Lois. She had tears in her eyes, but she would not let them fall. She couldn't, for Clark's sake and her own.

"You said you wouldn't hurt him."

"I said I wouldn't hurt him if he didn't come here. He came," replied Lex. "Now, come on," he said, pulling her wrist.

"No. My reason for marrying you is gone, so I won't," she replied, defiantly.

"You are marrying me, Lois. I won't wait any longer for our marriage. But I will wait for you to love me. And that's final," he replied, and the ceremony continued. When it got to the "I do's", Lois thought about saying "I don't." But, at that moment, Lex squeezed her wrist tightly. She looked at him and knew that she had no choice.

"Lois, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? For richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?"

Lois couldn't look as the bishop as she answered resignedly.

"I do."


Lois was alone in the white room, again, an hour after the ceremony. She was taking off her wedding dress, but her movements were completely mechanical. Her head was buzzing with an overload.

'I am Mrs. Lois Lane Luthor. I am married to another man. Clark is gone.' This is what was going through Lois's head as she slipped off the white dress and changed into something more decently comfortable. A blue sweatshirt and a pair of matching sweatpants felt a lot better, and a lot more comfortable, than the dress. Not just physically comfortable, but also comfortable in the way of less foreign. Lois wasn't committed to somebody by wearing sweats the way she was for wearing a white dress.

Lex had left her alone in the house, saying he had work to attend to. Once he was done, though, he wanted to have his honeymoon with her. They couldn't leave the house, he had told her, but they could still consummate their marriage.

Lois remembered this as she lay down on the white bed. She knew she couldn't kiss Lex passionately, or even happily, let alone have sex with him. She knew that she couldn't do anything like that with a man that she didn't love, or even didn't love completely.

Lois exhaled, sighing. She felt so alone. She wanted her husband — er, she wanted Clark. Lois didn't even know if he was in Lex's house, alive. Or if his corpse (shudder) had already been disposed of.

Suddenly, she heard a very slight noise. It was so soft, Lois wasn't even sure that her mind wasn't playing a trick on her stability. But it was so sudden, too. It pierced the silence of the home, causing Lois to jump at it.

It stopped.

"What was that?" she asked nobody. Of course she didn't get a reply.

Suddenly, the sound played out again. Louder this time, so Lois was sure that she wasn't imagining anything. It was a sharp yelp of somebody in — pain? Lois immediately thought of her ex-husband.

"Clark?" she called softly, as she followed the sound towards where it had originated. She found herself in her huge walk-in closet.

The yelp came out one more time, as if someone were in excruciating pain. Lois followed it again and found herself at what seemed to be a dead end. She was touching the wooden right wall of the closet.

She pressed it, and a secret passage swung open. Lois did not hesitate, and she plunged into the darkness.


She had been walking for probably five minutes, or so, forging ahead in pitch darkness. She didn't hold herself steady with anything. When she had touched the wall to her right, earlier, her hand had come out covered in slime. So Lois figured that it would be better not to touch anything, and just walk straight ahead. She was happy that she had put on tennis shoes before hearing the sound.

Presently, she saw a faint light at the end of the tunnel. She could almost imagine she heard somebody saying 'Come towards the light, my child.' Lois giggled, despite her predicament.

The faint light got bigger, if not brighter. Moments later, Lois had reached the end of the tunnel.

She stood at the mouth for a second, looking to see where she had ended up. The wall farthest away from her was made of stone. It almost seemed as if she was in a basement.

She walked out into the room. It was a big room and it was very tall. There were no visible windows, but the room was lighted. Maybe the windows were too high up to see.

In the exact center of the room was a cage. Inside the cage was a small block of kryptonite. Lying on the floor, beside it, was Clark. His back was turned to Lois. He was silent.

Lois was suddenly terrified that he was dead.

She started to walk towards the cage, when she heard a noise. Unsure of what could happen to her, Lois stood stock still.

At the far end of the room, a mechanical noise sounded. Lois couldn't quite tell who was over there, but she saw the figure of a man.

The shadow walked towards her, past the cage. Finally, Lois saw who it was.


His dark eyes were bright with some emotion that Lois couldn't read, and his shirt collar was open. "I knew it. I knew you'd find this place sooner or later."

Lois took a deep breath. "Is he all right?"

He wasn't listening to her. "I really should be able to come up with better places to hide. But, really, I thought the secret passage and the slime would be enough."

Lois cleared her throat. "Lex?" she asked again, louder. This time he looked up.

"He's asleep. Do you see how small that piece of kryptonite is? He couldn't be dead quite yet," he said.

"I heard him yelling."

"Darling, you know how his body reacts to this. Now, I think we should go. My work is almost done, and I am eager for the first commitment of our vows." His eyes sparkled.

"How did you get the kryptonite?"


"How did you get it? There hasn't been any around to steal."

"It's left over. I had it buried in the sand. You know, just in case," he smiled.

Lois hated not being able to read his expression, but he was not really letting his emotions be obvious. Was that smile happiness or evil intent?

"Now, may we please get on with our marriage?"

"How do I say this? Lex, I don't think I physically can."

Lex looked at her. "Have you ever been in bed with me, Lois?"


He smiled again, another smile Lois couldn't quite read. "Never say can't until you've tried, my dear."

A beeper went off, and Lex looked down and pulled it out of his pocket. He studied it for a moment, trying to read the number by the dim light. "This thing always goes off at the most inopportune times," he said, and he kissed her.

"I have to go make a call. This is important. Especially if you ever want to see the outside world again. Please, go back to the bedroom," he said, guiding her towards the tunnel. Then he turned and walked the other way. Lois paused as soon as he had released her and turned away, and soon she heard the mechanical noise again, indicating he was gone.

When Lois was sure he was gone, she took a step back towards the center of the room instead of heading into the tunnel.

"Did he honestly expect me to follow him like a puppy?" she questioned the air around her. She approached the cage.

Clark was lying on the ground, his eyes closed. He was still in the Superman suit. He looked peaceful — a little bit too peaceful, almost as if he might let go at any minute.

Lois examined the kryptonite. It wasn't a huge brick; actually it was rather small compared to some Lois had seen. But it looked heavy, and Lois guessed its density, and not its size, was causing Clark this pain.

She tried to reach through the bars to grab the kryptonite. However, Lex had obviously foreseen Lois's attempts. The bars were too close together. Lois couldn't fit her arm far enough through them to even touch the kryptonite.

She'd have to wake him up. She didn't know what they could possibly do after that, but they might be able to figure out something. Lois put out a hand, tentatively …

… and drew it back. He looked so at peace. Lois couldn't think of another word for it. He just looked serene, and Lois didn't know what waking him up would do.

She had to, though. If Clark didn't wake up, there'd be no hope. Lois would be stuck with the poetic but devious Lex Luthor.

Lois thought a second longer, and then she found she was just able to tap Clark's shoulder from outside of his cage. She waited for him to wake up.

He barely stirred. Lois had forgotten that tapping steel didn't make much of a difference. So she opened her mouth.


There was that stirring again. Clark's back was to her, though, so she couldn't tell if his eyes were open or not.

Third time's always a charm. "Clark?"

He rolled over, brown eyes open. He smiled at her, a soft and sort of sad smile. But the smile disappeared before Lois could question it.

"Lois," he said, with some effort.

"Clark, can you get up?"

He attempted to. "I'm trying."

He stopped, Lois watching him closely. "I can't."

"You have to," Lois replied, desperately.

He tried once more, but then he collapsed again, defeated. "Lois, I can't."

"You can't give up."

Clark didn't say anything. He just watched her.

"I can't be Mrs. Lex Luthor." She was almost in tears.

Clark reached over and, with effort, put his hand over hers. "I don't want you married to Lex Luthor, either. But the only way I'm getting out of this is if somebody gets the keys."

"Why aren't you angry?"

Clark looked at her oddly. "What?"

"You usually get so incredibly angry at Lex."

"I am. I was yelling hours ago, but it just made me weaker."


"Honey, you're changing subjects. Do you think you could get the keys from Lex?"

"How would I be able to tell which one is for the cage and which one is for, let's say, his Beamer?" she asked, thinking of him having separate keys.

"Does he have a key ring?" tried Clark.

Lois thought. "He might," she said. "I'll try to get the keys from him, Clark. If he has a key ring."


"I don't know; I'll think of something."

She moved to stand up. "Just, please, don't give up."

He crossed his heart. "I promise."

"Don't go anywhere."

He laughed. "Where would I be going, Lois?"

"Good point."

"Honey, you're stalling."

"I know." Lois stood up and said goodbye.

She retraced her steps to the tunnel and headed back towards the room that she didn't like, the one with the white wedding dress.


When she got back to her room, Lois was happy to find that Lex wasn't there yet. This would give her some time to think.

Where would Lex keep his key ring? The obvious answer was his pants pocket. Lois knew how she could get to them. If she was all over him, he probably wouldn't notice if she slipped his keys out of his pocket.

But, honestly, could she be all over him like that?

After a few minutes of deep thinking, Lois realized she didn't really have a choice. If she didn't get the keys and let Clark out, she would be Mrs. Lex Luthor forever. And then she'd have to fulfill her wedding vows.

She lay on the middle of her bed, waiting for Lex to come through the door. She tried to look disheveled and sexy, like she wanted to be there. She smiled.

A moment later Lex came through the door. He smiled when he saw her like that.

"You look marvelous," he said, walking towards her. "I do wish you had changed your clothes, though."

"I'm sorry," she answered, her voice low and sexy. His eyes sparkled again.

"Don't be, darling. You'd look drop-dead gorgeous even in a paper bag."

He walked towards the bed and lay down beside her. Lois began to kiss him and move her hands around his back.

His lips were very dry, but his kiss was passionate. Lois tried not to think of it.

In between kisses, Lex managed a few words. "Why the sudden change of heart, my love?"

Lois reached lower, feeling the shape of a key ring in his back pocket. "I found that little corner of me," she answered, simply. She lowered her fingers into the pocket and succeeded in catching the key ring. She slowly drew it up, silently, as she kissed him.

His eyes were closed; he was totally into the unexpected warmth Lois was giving him, when his cell phone rang. He opened his eyes, looking more than a trifle annoyed.

"I have to take this call, mon amore. Please, wait here —" and he left the room without even checking to see who was on the phone. Maybe he had sensed something in the way she was acting?

Never mind if he did or not. Lois had the keys! She ran to the closet and went through the secret passage. She didn't even think to listen for Lex's resounding foot steps.


She ran through the muck in the secret passage to get to Clark. Well, she tried to. But it's very hard to run through slime. Her shoes kept sliding and making her slip. More than once she almost fell.

As it was, she still reached what she though was the end in record time. The tunnel had not lightened as she got closer to the opening, but she failed to realize this.

That was why she was so surprised when she hit a wall face on. She reeled back.

She reached to touch the wall in front of her. It was made of the same metal as the rest of the tunnel, but it wasn't in as much decay. As a matter of fact, it was completely clean to her touch.

Lois moved to one side of the tunnel, discouraged and depressed, but also confused. Lex couldn't have constructed the wall so quickly.

As she thought, she continued to move, unconsciously. Her shoulder hit the right wall of the tunnel, and Lois felt slime on her shoulder. She wiped it off, quickly, missing most of it, and looked around in the darkness. She knew she should turn back, but she couldn't. She couldn't leave Clark there.

As her eyes continued to adjust to the darkness, Lois noticed that there was a crack between the new wall and where the right wall stopped, shedding a very pale light into the room. Lois saw something glint in the light, and knelt down for a closer look.

She saw a spring system attached to the very bottom of the door. Lois, at once, understood how the wall in front of her had gotten there. It was a door! It was attached to the tunnel and always had been. Lois wondered why she hadn't noticed it in the first place.

She pushed the door, in the hope that it would open.

It didn't budge.

She turned to leave, feeling discouraged. But she turned on her heel, and faced the door again. She wouldn't give up! For Clark's sake, she couldn't. She had to help him before the kryptonite became too much for him to handle.

She pushed it again, but it didn't move. Finally, in incredible frustration, she karate-kicked it.

The hinges broke. The door lay open in front of her, bathing her in the faint light of the basement.

She blinked, her eyes surprised by the sudden light. She hadn't known she was that strong. She deserved a black belt.

She walked out into the basement and over towards to the cage. Lex's key ring made a slight jingle in her pocket. She advanced quickly.

But when she got there, she just stood there, completely stunned. Lex was thwarting all of her plans.

Clark and the kryptonite were gone. The cage was empty!


Clark woke up to new surroundings. He was momentarily surprised. Where was he? Had he somehow gotten out of the cage?

The answer to the latter question was yes, but that wasn't actually a good thing. He was in another room, a rather small one. A tiny window in the corner of the room sent a beam of light from the setting sun. It hit the kryptonite that sat on top of a table.

Clark surveyed the room and discovered that it was probably only as big as the cage had been, or even slightly smaller. The only difference was that there weren't metal bars. He saw immediately that he could not move the kryptonite away from himself far enough to make him not feel its effects completely. Of course, he couldn't touch it to throw it out the window. Touching it might kill him instantaneously.

Clark figured that, somehow, Lex Luthor had found out Lois's plans. Lois must have successfully gotten the keys, so Luthor had decided to move Clark.

Clark remained seated on the wood floor. He felt so hopeless. He had been amazed when Lois had found him the first time around, but he'd been able to mask his feelings. He knew, from experience, that once he was slowly dying from kryptonite exposure it was bad to do too much of anything. It only tired him out, causing him to be even weaker.

It was that way again. If Clark didn't know better, he would have been yelling and trying to get out. But he knew that if he let out his emotions, he might be dead in a matter of minutes.

He pulled himself towards where he saw the outline of a door and pushed it with all of his waning strength. But he was already too weak to make a difference on the locked door. He winced in incredible pain, and lay back down.

His last thought, before he fell asleep again, was that he hoped Lois would find him. Real soon.


Lois felt like kicking herself, or Lex, as she walked back up the passage and into her room. How could Lex have possibly figured out her plan? Had she really been too forward? Or was it that since he was aware that she knew where Clark was, he had guessed it was only a matter of time before she saved Clark, so he'd moved him? Lois didn't know.

But she did know that she was mad at herself for somehow slipping up — for letting Lex somehow know something was up.

She got to the bedroom and was pleasantly surprised to find it empty, as she had left it. Lex wasn't there yet.

She walked into the room and hesitated for a minute. Lex might be anticipating her next move. Then again, she had to find Clark. He could die without her help. He probably would die if she didn't help.

So, even though she had misgivings, she headed straight for the door leading out of the bedroom. She turned the knob, holding her breath. She was scared that Lex might have locked it. But it was unlocked, and Lois let out the breath. Then she headed into the hallway.

As she moved across the hallway, she noticed again that she was on the second floor. It occurred to her that the passageway she had been using to get to Clark must have slowly tunneled its way down to the underground without her ever noticing. It made her wonder if there could possibly be a secret passage going up.

She made her way back to the stairwell and to the little safe with the alpha-numeric keypad lock. After a moment of studying the lock, she decided to hazard a guess. Cautiously, she typed in her name. The safe door unlocked, and she opened it.

She was surprised by its contents. Nothing was in it, but on the wall were two buttons. Lois blinked as she looked at them. If she didn't know better, she would guess they were elevator buttons. She pressed the one with the up arrow, and it lit up.

Then she heard a noise, and she searched for where it had originated. It came from behind the blank wall in the closet-sized room, the one opposite the stairs. The wall was decorated with spirals and curves. Lois stared at it, completely in wonder.

The noise stopped, and the wall opened up. Lois found herself looking into an elevator. She stared at it a moment and then went inside. She closed the door in front of her.

Lois couldn't believe how much was hidden in this mansion. She was incredibly amazed by this contraption. Why would Lex even have a secret elevator? Was it to keep something from her? Lois, being an excellent investigative reporter, found that her curiosity was piqued. What could a husband possibly have to hide from his wife and true love (or so he said)? Lois didn't know, but she was about to find out.

She looked around the elevator, found the buttons that were supposed to take her from floor to floor, and pressed the one labeled "4S". She didn't know where it would take her, but she hoped it would be to Clark.


Clark was almost completely asleep when he thought he heard a noise. He didn't look up, however, betting it was Luthor. He kept his eyes closed as he heard light footsteps.

"Clark? Are you okay?" came a voice. Clark recognized Lois's voice and looked up to see his true love standing above him. He saw, out of the corner of his eye, a hidden elevator.

"Lois," he said, not breathing easily. "How did you find me?"

"I was looking for you, and I found the safe that covers up the buttons for the elevator. Where's the kryptonite?"

Clark made a vague motion towards the wall near the window. Lois saw the green, glowing rock, picked it up, and threw it out the window. Then she watched Clark in anticipation, waiting for him to regain his strength.


Roughly a half an hour later, Lex Luthor walked through the hallway to his bedroom, talking on his cell phone. "Make the trade with China. But make sure we get a good cut."

He walked into the room as he was closing the phone. When he looked at the bed, he was so surprised that he dropped the phone, which hit the carpet softly.

"No. You're supposed to be dead," he said, repeating Lois's earlier words, as he stared at Clark and Lois, who were lying on the bed.

Clark shrugged, standing up. "Let's just say that your wife decided not to obey all of her vows," he responded with a smile.

Lex Luthor knew he had no way of winning this, but he wasn't the type to give up so easily. "You can't put me in jail. I know who you are. I could ruin you."

Clark looked at Lois, who looked at Lex. "Fine, but you have no proof. And we'll deny it if you say it in public."

"But I'm still married to Lois," Lex tried desperately.

"That can easily be ended, just as my marriage to Lois was," Clark responded, and stood up. But just as he was about to grab Luthor, Lex moved to the huge window. He opened it and stood on the sill. He teetered on the edge.

"Remember when I said that Lex Luthor wouldn't live in a cage? Well, I still stand by that," and he jumped, only to be caught by Clark's grip.

Clark looked at his nemesis. "You see, Luthor, with you, dying seems to be the easy way out. I expect you'll tell the police how you lived through the last time," he said, and flew him to jail.


Three days later, Lois and Clark were enjoying a quiet Christmas morning in their bedroom. Lois cuddled up to him, and Clark felt joyously happy to have her again. He didn't want to let go.

All of a sudden, she looked up in surprise. "Clark, I don't have a present for you," she said, upset. "I was going to pick one up the day after I got home, but I couldn't because …" she trailed off.

Clark looked at his wife with more love then ever. "Lois, you're alive and you're home. That's the best present I could ever hope to get," he said, smiling. She smiled back at him, and they shared a long, romantic kiss.


I told you it was a very sweet ending.:-)