By Adam Labotka <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted July 2001
Summary: What was Clark thinking when Lois was "killed" in the episode "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape"? Find out in this vignette.
This is an in-between scene dealing with Clark's reaction to Lois' supposed death in Don't Tug On Superman's Cape. This came about when Wendy commented on IRC about Tank's comment about being unsatisfied with the way Lois got so little grief in the episode where as Clark's "death" in That Old Gang of Mine got a lot more treatment and wanting someone to write it from Clark's POV to show his grief. Hopefully this will satisfy at least in part her desire to see more for Lois in the episode. Thank you to Labrat for the title. Thank you as well to Cindy and Missy for their wonderful beta reading.
Feedback welcome at email@example.com
Clark raced through the air towards the Daily Planet newsroom, barely conscious of the landscape beneath him. When he had seen that note from Lois, an icy cold panic had gripped his heart. Who knew what danger she could be in with Bad Brain on the loose and out to get revenge? Why couldn't she have stayed in Kansas, out of harm's way? If anything happened to her, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself.
Moments after leaving his parents' house, he arrived back in Metropolis. He sped into the Daily Planet building as quickly as he could without causing damage in his wake. He was so wrapped up in his own concern that he was barely aware of the dour atmosphere in the newsroom. "Where's Lois?" he demanded as he entered.
He began to make his way through the crowd in the center of the newsroom. Perry, upon noticing him, called, "Superman."
Clark finally noticed the sorrow prevalent in the crowd. Something was obviously wrong. Concerned, he asked quietly, "What's happened?"
Clark watched the television in disbelief as Jimmy replayed the tape of Lois' demise. When he first saw Lois on the tape, an icy fear gripped his heart. Then she called out Bad Brain, and Clark's knees went weak. His world crumbled around him when Lois was killed by the electro-whammy. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. Some part of him refused to accept what he was watching. It had to be some sort of trick; Lois couldn't be dead. This was not happening, it couldn't be happening. Unable to take it anymore, he screamed, "NO!" in defiance of what he saw.
Unable to control himself, he punched the television, right where Bad Brain's nose would have been if it weren't just an image. The television shattered beneath the powerful blow sending sparks everywhere. He had to get out of there. He needed to get away.
He ran out of the newsroom, heedless of everything around him. Once outside, he shot up into the air and just kept flying as fast as he could as if he could out-race the knowledge of what he had seen and deny its existence. Around the world he flew, countless times, unable to stop, unable to bring himself to face the truth, Lois was dead.
He should have been there to protect her, but no, he had to be on the other side of the world helping out. The earthquake had completely distracted him, forgetting about the dangers near home as he tried to limit the destruction and help with the rescue efforts. How could he have forgotten? What good were all his powers if he couldn't use them to save the woman he loved, the only woman for him, his soulmate? There would never be another woman like Lois Lane and he had let her die by leaving her alone when he knew someone was out to get her.
He could never forgive himself for not being there. For a moment, he wished he were dead as well. Unconsciously, he began gaining altitude, leaving the Earth's atmosphere. He kept flying away from the planet until his lungs began to burn, bringing him back to reality. No, this wasn't the way to do this; Lois wouldn't want him to die. He raced back towards the Earth and the air he so desperately needed.
Once he was safely back in the confines of Earth's atmosphere and the burning in his lungs began to subside, he realized he was very tired. The frantic flying had taken its toll on him and he needed to rest. By no means done wallowing in misery, Clark found himself setting down in the alley where Lois had been killed.
Sitting next to the two columns of the electro-whammy that killed Lois, Clark put his head in his hands and began to sob. The full realization of what had happened was beginning to settle on him. He would have to spend the rest of his life without her, however long that might be. Could he even die, he wondered? Sure he'd been close sometimes, at least so he thought, but what if these powers made him immortal, or at least kept him alive much longer then a normal human? A normal lifetime without Lois would be an eternity, but what about several? How could he stand so much time without Lois?
Lois was everything to him. It felt as if his whole world was crumbling without her — she was his whole world. He felt dead inside. The same depression that sent him hurtling out into space regained control over him. Again he wanted to die, the sweet release of death taking the pain away forever. Maybe he could be with Lois in some sort of afterlife, maybe he would cease to exist, but whatever the case, it was better then the pain he felt now.
Sobs wracked his body as he continued to grieve over Lois' death. He was empty on the inside, a hollow shell of the man he was before Lois' death. As the initial reactions began to subside, Clark thought about the future.
He wasn't sure he wanted to be Clark Kent anymore without Lois. Maybe it was time to give up his life and become Superman full time, immersing himself in his Superman duties in an attempt to forget, however temporarily, about the pain of losing Lois. He didn't think he could stand the sympathies everyone, especially women, would give Clark at her death. It would just remind him of all that he had lost. As Superman, he wouldn't have to be close to people, he could avoid close relationships; he could avoid further pain.
Still, some part of him refused to accept Lois' death. That connected feeling, the sense of her he had had ever since they met, was still there. He dismissed it as wishful thinking or denial, but still it remained prodding at him and his sanity.
Suddenly an alarm penetrated his thoughts, which he recognized as the vault alarm at Star Labs. Collecting himself, wondering what could be wrong now, he wiped his tears, not willing to let anyone see Superman cry. Reluctantly, Clark launched in to the air, not really wanting to go, not wanting to do anything. He wanted to just curl up and never move again. In a way though, he was glad for the distraction; it might, temporarily, allow him to forget the agonizing hollowness inside him.
As he approached Star Labs, he saw Dr. Klein pacing in front of the building. Drawing on as much inner reserve as he could, Clark put a tight control on his emotions, trying to conceal the extent of his sorrow. When he felt he had enough control, he landed and asked, concern slipping through his Superman mask, "What's happened?"
He watched, confused, as Dr. Klein rushed to shut off the alarm, wondering what was going on. After shutting off the alarm, Dr. Klein said, "I didn't know how else to reach you."
He paused, panting slightly before continuing, "I know she was your friend. I'm so desperately sorry." His voice was quiet, apologetic and concerned.
Clark's mask crumbled a bit at Dr. Klein's apology, the agony threatening to make him break down completely. Finding more willpower than he thought possible, he managed to regain control and quietly say, "Thank you." He really wanted to shake Dr. Klein and tell him to get on with it, in no mood for sympathy.
"Did Miss Lane tell you about the Lakes?" Dr. Klein asked.
"No," Clark replied, confused. He remembered their earlier suspicions and wondered if Lois had discovered something and somehow Dr. Klein knew. Clark again had to resist an urge to reach out and grab Dr. Klein, demanding he tell all that he knew.
"It was right after they asked about the Kryptonite the robbery happened. Isn't the robber the one who… killed Miss Lane?" Dr. Klein said, choking on his words as he tried to get them out.
Clark reacted as if struck. It suddenly hit him that while he had been wallowing in misery, he had been letting Lois' murderer get away. Now he had a chance to bring her murderer to justice. He had a mental image of himself squeezing off Bad Brain's head and some part of him felt a twisted pleasure in it. The Lakes had obviously helped Bad Brain; they would know where to find him. He would deal with them after Bad Brain.
Clark barely nodded in acknowledgement before taking off and heading towards the Lakes' home. Anger flooded through him, making him forget the pain. His thoughts now focused on revenge. The thoughts were cathartic, a rage unlike any he had known before burned in him, not even his hate for Luthor came close to the all-encompassing hate he now felt towards Bad Brain Johnson.
The part of him that still retained some sanity knew that he couldn't act on these feelings and kill him, but imagining himself killing Bad Brain felt so good that he couldn't resist. Letting his anger run free was like a powerful drug. Never had he felt like this before; Lois' death seemed to have snapped something inside him. He had heard about seeing red before but until this moment he had never understood what that meant. Now it was all too clear. Clark was momentarily shocked to feel a slight pain in his hands before realizing his nails were beginning to dig into his skin. As he sped through the air though, he knew he had to reign his anger in before he did something he'd regret.
Clark swooped into the Lakes' living room where they were lounging on the couch. Struggling to control his anger, he stopped. The Lakes began to rise off the couch and Clark heard something familiar. It poked at his memory but he ignored it, intent on his goal, and too busy trying to remain calm to analyze it.
As they were starting to stand up, Amber Lake said, "Apparently not long."
Clark glared at the two as they stood up, his rage barely in check. He felt an urge to do something violent, but he repressed it as best he was able, waiting to see what the Lakes did.
"Superman, delightful to see you," Tim said cheerfully.
Unable to control his anger fully anymore and wanting to scare the Lakes so that they would tell him what he wanted to know, Clark hoisted Tim Lake into the air by the collar of his jacket. He was barely able to hold back the urge to squeeze his neck, but he managed to resist the temptation.
Hardly missing a beat, Tim continued, "Cafe Latte?" he asked, his tone only slightly changed now that he was being held in the air by Superman.
His lack of reaction only infuriated Clark as he continued to glare at him. Clark turned to Amber, startled, when she calmly said, "Maybe he prefers decaf."
The nonchalance they showed him only served to increase his anger. Clark was astounded by the gall they showed. Didn't they realize he could snap them in two without any effort on his part? Controlling his fury slightly, he said warningly, "Where's Bad Brain?"
"I'm afraid I can't help you with Bad Brain," Tim said. "But I think you'll agree, though, we have something much more interesting." As he finished, he gestured towards a bookshelf that Amber was standing next to. Amber pressed something and the shelf began to rise, revealing an opening beyond it.
They were actually smiling, Clark couldn't believe it. What was wrong with these people? And what did he mean by they couldn't help him with Bad Brain? They had to know where he was, they were helping him. It took all his control not to force them into telling him what they knew. Everything they did just fed his anger. Confused and angry, Clark put Tim down, shoving him childishly. "What's going on, Lake? I'm in no mood for guessing games," he said threateningly, tired of the games they seemed to be playing with him.
"But are you in the mood for this?" Amber asked, pointing into the room behind the bookcase.
Clark looked to where she pointed and was dumbfounded. There stood Lois. He couldn't believe his eyes. That nagging sound he had been ignoring had been her heartbeat. Too caught up in his own anger and grief he had ignored it. Suddenly the pain was gone and he felt a sense of elation and nearly floated off the ground. The hole that had opened in him was filled. He was whole again. Lois was alive!
He watched Lois turn and look at him and she exclaimed, "Superman!"
"Lois!" Clark called, racing into the room, heedless of everything except the need to be near Lois again. He didn't even notice the surroundings in his haste to reach her. He reached out to her and was suddenly startled as an electrical force surrounded his hand. Surprised, he jerked his hand back and backed away. 'What in the world?' he thought.
"So near and yet so far," Tim said, as he and Amber laughed smugly.
Clark dismissed the Lakes, caring only for Lois. All that mattered to him was that she was alive and well. He would do anything to make sure she stayed that way.
"It's a trap," Lois said, her voice full of concern.
"I know," Clark said, unconcerned for himself. He began to float up so he could gaze into Lois' face and her dark, mesmerizing eyes again, something he had never thought possible only a few moments ago. The only thing he cared about was Lois.
"They have Kryptonite," Lois warned, silently pleading with him to save himself, her eyes full of concern and tears.
"I don't care," Clark said. Whatever happened to him, he had to make sure Lois was okay. He stopped, just gazing at her face, unable to do anything else. He had lost her once and wasn't about to let that happen again. He didn't give any thought to his own safety.
Suddenly Tim Lake's voice cut into his reverie. "You've got thirty seconds," he said, drawing Clark's gaze to him. What is he up to now, Clark wondered. "You mess with the timer, she dies. You break the light field, she dies. You try to disarm the bomb and clean our clocks, she also dies. The only way for you to save her is to join our collection."
"Forever," Amber chimed in.
To Clark's mind there was no choice. The alternatives were too horrible to contemplate. He had just found Lois and he couldn't lose her again, especially so soon. He turned his gaze back to Lois and saw her eyes pleading with him not to accept.
"Don't do it," she said, her voice pleading and strained with emotion.
"It's the only way to keep you alive," Clark said, undeterred, unwilling to give up Lois.
"Would you stop? The world needs you," Lois said, still trying to convince him to leave.
"And I need you," was Clark's only response. The recent events had only conspired to convince him more then ever that he couldn't survive without Lois.
"Ten seconds and counting," Tim chimed in, annoyingly upbeat.
"You'll be trapped, caged," Lois said, concern written all over her.
"I'll be with you," Clark said, and that was all that really mattered. Life without Lois would be no life at all.
"Two seconds," Amber said. The Lakes were really getting on his nerves, but as long as they had Lois there was nothing he could do about it.
He gave Lois an almost apologetic look as he began to float gently toward the other cage.
"No," Lois said, protesting, pain in her voice.
As Clark flew into the cage, he knew he was doing the right thing. He only hoped Lois didn't feel guilty about being used to keep him here, but he had no choice. He had to keep Lois alive because he couldn't survive without her. As he entered the cage, the light field around it activated.
"Lift off," Tim said triumphantly.
"We did it," Amber exclaimed, happily.
As the Lakes kissed, the disgust rose in Clark. Now that the initial rush of finding Lois alive was wearing off, his anger towards the Lakes was returning. If he ever found a way out of this, they would pay for their crimes.
"You see, Superman, we wanted you alive. Lois is the lock on your cage. Either of you breaks the light field, she gets it," Tim said smugly, obviously confident he had thought of all contingencies. "No matter how fast you fly you still set it off. Now the floor is a minefield, anyone tries to rescue… Well you get the idea." The Lakes chuckled before he continued, "We'll talk about your feeding schedule later. I'm drinking."
"I'm buying," Amber responded, continuing to laugh.
"Oh, one last detail," Tim said, almost as if it was an afterthought, as he tore a cape from a copy of the Superman suit.
"With the two of you and Clark dead, no one will come looking for you," Amber explained, calmly.
"And since Bad Brain did it, no one will come looking for us," Tim concluded, chuckling at his own cleverness.
"Oh, isn't he fantastic," Amber said, clinging to Tim. "Welcome to forever."
Clark watched them as they left, the entrance closing behind them, anger simmering under the surface. Deciding to turn to a more pleasant subject, he turned his thoughts and gaze back to Lois. His heart fluttered again, realizing that she was indeed alive. The pain from earlier was completely gone, but Clark would never forget the devastation he felt when he thought she was dead.
"This isn't exactly how I pictured us getting old together," Lois said, breaking the silence left in the wake of the Lakes' departure.
Clark smiled slightly; a hint of amusement escaped him. He was just so happy that Lois was indeed alive, very little else mattered to him at the moment. Soon he knew he'd have to think about escape, if he could find a way that wouldn't harm Lois, but for now he'd just revel in the knowledge she wasn't dead.
"You gave up everything in your life," Lois said, some surprise in her voice. She paused a moment before concluding, "For me."
"Without you, it wouldn't have been a life," Clark explained, voicing his earlier thought. Lois was his whole world and he wasn't about to let her go so soon after regaining her. He took a moment to glance at his new surroundings before settling his gaze back on Lois. For now he was content just being near her.