By Richard Frantz Jr. <72570.2264@Compuserve.com>
Submitted: February 2003
Summary: Why does Lois Lane, a sensible adult woman, continually dangle over the jaws of death? Here's one elseworld explanation.
Previously posted on Zoomway's BBS under screen name Rogue Chip.
[Disclaimer: Clark Kent, Lois Lane, etc, are not my property and are used solely for noncommercial purposes.]
Wham warning: This story seems to have a rather severe WHAM quite early. If you like whams then stop reading after the wham. If, however, you don't like whams then just keep reading and it will disappear, it only seems to be a wham.
This is an Elseworlds story, it begins where "We Have a Lot to Talk About" would occur in primary continuity. Some events in primary continuity have not occurred, including Lex Luthor's death.
(Comments appreciated at 72570.2264@Compuserve.com)
Clark got down on one knee. He took Lois's left hand in his right hand and had the box with the ring in his left. "Lois, will you marry me?"
Lois looked at him for a few seconds and finally answered with a question of her own, "Who's asking? Clark or Superman?"
Clark sadly asked, "You figured that out, didn't you? I'm sorry, Lois! I wanted to tell you but-" He didn't get any further because Lois gently put her finger over his lips to stop him.
"I've touched both Clark and Superman before. And I've been touched by them before. And I've kissed them before. And I don't know why I never noticed before: They feel exactly the same. And that isn't something you can hide behind a pair of glasses." And then she added, very softly, "and I know they both love me and I love both of them."
Clark started to breath again, maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
"But," continued Lois. Clark's heart fell. "I can't answer yet."
Clark started to protest, almost to beg. But Lois's soft finger was still gently on his lips, stopping him, demanding that he hear her out. "Clark, there's something I have to tell you first. If, after I've told you, you still want to ask me, then I will answer yes."
Clark nodded vigorously, almost knocking Lois's finger from his lips, confident that no matter what Lois said he'd still want to propose. Lois helped him to his feet. Before she could begin to speak they turned to look at several men, dressed in black, running into the alley. Normally this wouldn't have fazed the intrepid couple, but what happened next did. One of the men carried a long, fat cylinder with a pistol grip that he pointed at Clark and pulled the trigger. A bolt of green shot out of the device, hitting Clark in the chest. He gasped and collapsed to his knees as the kryptonite beam erased his superpowers and subjected him to pain reminiscent of being hit by a Mack truck.
Lois, not liking any of this one bit turned on the man with the device and delivered a vicious high kick to his jaw followed by a low kick that dislocated his knee cap. Then she spun and punched the next man who was running up to assist the first. Several more men, also dressed in black, moved in, giving Lois choice of target. The fight continued as Lois expertly attacked the men.
Finally one of the men, who was already sporting a nasty bruise on his temple from one of Lois's energetic kicks, pulled out a snub nosed gun and pointed it in her direction. Lois immediately moved so several of the other men were between them but it wasn't necessary since one of his own men grabbed his hand yelling, "Don't kill her! You know what the Boss said. You know what he'll do to us if we hurt her."
"No, I don't!" snapped the man with the gun.
"And I don't want to!" screamed the man grabbing at the gun.
"If I can't shoot her, can I at least shoot that guy so we don't have to worry about both of them?"
"OK. That you can do," answered the other man, letting go of the gun.
Lois glanced at Clark, who was gamely trying to get to his feet to help. If that green thing could do this to her boyfriend then it was presumably Kryptonite, which meant he wouldn't have his powers to protect him. As the man pointed the gun at Clark, Lois finally stood still. She raised her hands. "Don't hurt him, we surrender."
The men seemed positively relieved at this, quickly handcuffed both Lois and Clark and forced them into a limo with tinted glass. One man kept a TASER pointed at Lois. Another kept the strange cylinder pointed at Clark. The rest of the men helped Lois's victims into a separate car.
The man with the cylinder patted it appreciatively, "nice little stun gun. Too bad the boss wouldn't let us use it on the broad too." Apparently whoever had sent these goons hadn't briefed them very well.
Lois looked over at Clark who was leaning back heavily in the padded seat. "You OK?" she asked.
He nodded. "Still breathing."
"Don't get any ideas," warned the man with the cylinder.
The drive was short. Soon they were driving into the underground parking lot of Lex Towers. Even if they hadn't had suspicions this would have made it obvious who had sent the men. The men carefully covered them as they got out of the limo. They were ushered to an elevator and forced inside at gun (and cylinder) point. Inside there was no control panel but as soon as they were in the door closed and the elevator started to move. Oddly enough, even though they were in the basement, the elevator went down.
After over a minute of steady descent, which would put them hundreds of feet below the streets of Metropolis, the elevator slowed to a stop and the door opened. "Bottom floor. Cells, dungeons and torture chambers. Everybody out!" announced Lex's voice. The room they entered was plain, unpainted, concrete. "Hello Lois!" called Lex in a faux friendly voice. "Hello, Mr. Kent, or should I say Superman. Oops, I guess you didn't want Ms. Lane to know that, did you?" called Lex.
"I already know," corrected Lois.
"Come on in, hurry now, we have Soooo much to do," called Lex. Lois and Clark walked towards the middle of the room where Lex waited.
"That's far enough!" yelled Lex. He fired a cylinder at Clark.
Clark groaned and grabbed his abdomen, sinking to his knees. Lois stepped over to him and crouched to try to help him. Lex grinned. And a cage fell from the ceiling, covering both Lois and Clark. A cage whose bars seemed to glow faintly green. Lois felt Clark shudder.
Lex put down the cylinder and walked over so he was only a few feet from the cage. "How the mighty have fallen," he sneered. Lois gave him a look that would have blistered paint and killed small animals but Lex actually seemed amused by it. "The beautiful Lois Lane, tough, independent…lovely. I will give you a chance to earn your freedom and your friend's life. Marry me and I'll let your friend live out the remainder of his pathetic, defeated, life in this cage. So he can know that not only did I, Lex Luthor, beat him, but I married his woman." Lex's gaze darted wildly about the cage.
Lois stood up and came to the bars, facing Lex. Clark, still weak and in pain but unwilling to surrender to either the pain or to Lex Luthor, also managed to stand, though he was still hunched in agony. Lois looked at Luthor, and a look of absolute disgust crossed her face before vanishing behind her poker face.
"Never, Lex, never."
Lex barely hesitated before pulling a gun from under his jacket, pointing it at the left side of Lois's chest and pulling the trigger. The 45-caliber bullet ripped through Lois's chest and out the back. Blood flew from the wound and Lois was actually picked up off the floor and pushed backward before collapsing to the ground on her back.
Lex Luthor looked at Clark and said, "unfortunately I won't get to sample the pleasures of her flesh in my bed, but on the other hand, her death will hurt you. On the whole, I count that as a very big win." He smirked for just a second then turned, "Come, Nigel" and walked out of the basement.
Clark didn't even wait for Lex to finish but threw himself down next to the body of the woman he loved. He knelt by her, touched her hair, and began to cry. For a minute all he could do was cry. His crying was only interrupted by a voice saying "Clark? Is he gone?"
"Oh God," he wondered silently, "am I going insane? That sounded like Lois's voice!"
"Clark, is he gone?" repeated the voice.
He paused his weeping but couldn't see anything through the tears.
"Clark, please stop crying. You're getting tears in my wound and the salt water stings."
He rubbed his eyes and peered down. Lois lay with her eyes open, looking at him. And her chest rose and fell as though…as though she were breathing. "Lois?" he asked tentatively.
"Yeah. You were expecting?" she asked, trying to force a joke.
He reached for her but she said "Don't-move-me. Don't-move- me. Please-don't-move- me." Seeing the confusion in his eyes she explained, "the tissue in my chest is still tender and if you move me it will hurt, more than being shot in the chest does. I should know, I know what it feels like to be shot in the chest."
"Lois," he said, confused beyond words, "you've been shot through the heart. How can you still be talking?"
"Actually," she responded, "he didn't know where the heart is, probably because he doesn't have one of his own," she smiled, but then winced. "Humans know the heart is to the left of the center of their chest so they assume it's halfway between their sternum and their left side. Actually it's more like just under the left edge of the sternum. On top of which I have what is a rare, but not unknown, medical condition among humans: I'm dextrocardial. My heart is on the right hand side of my chest."
"So that's why you're still alive?" he asked. "Because he missed your heart?"
"Hardly. He did a job on my pulmonary artery. It should have been lethal. But that brings up what I had to tell you before. It seems that I found out your secret before you were ready to tell me and now you are learning mine before I get to tell you." She looked up at him sadly, "I wish there were a better way to tell you this but the best I can do is tell you a story. OK?"
He nodded numbly.
"This story starts about six months before we met. Lois Lane, daring investigative reporter, had a tip about a story of gunrunning in the Congo. She got Perry White to let her investigate. In the city of Kinshasa she met a young woman with some striking coincidences. Their names were similar. They had similar interests and temperament. They even resembled each other. They became friends. The two young women joined forces to investigate the gunrunning, one for journalistic reasons the other just out of a love of adventure. But they weren't to be successful. There was a traitor in the Daily Planet. A traitor who leaked Lois's itinerary to…a certain nefarious villain…who headed the gunrunning. An ambush was set and both women were injured."
"Lois's injuries were quite severe. Her friend tried to get her to medical technology, but there were doubts it would be in time. Lois's made a request of her friend: not for revenge, which would have been understandable, but rather a request that the story be told, that the gunrunners be stopped, the villain be revealed and justice be done. It was an honorable request."
"It was also Lois's last request. I'm not Lois Lane. I'm her friend from the Congo. By the time I got Lois to medical technology it was too late to stem the damage. So I used advanced technology to change my appearance to match Lois's. And I came back to finish Lois's story, as Lois. It wasn't as hard as you'd expect, she had few friends to notice the substitution. Her parents, who are absolute idiots, I agree with Lois about that, were estranged from her. The only one who might have known was Perry White. I read Lois's diary. I studied her past stories until I could fake her style. After that, as long as I brought in great stories, Perry was willing to believe I was Lois."
"I spent six months chasing that story. But the villain was a slippery fish. I was about to make one more try and then call in my family and do it the easy way when I stormed into Perry's office to get approval for the story and got chewed out for interrupting an interview. The chewing barely registered, " she smiled, "because I took one look at the interviewee and my higher consciousness shut down. All that was working were emotions…romantic ones."
Clark looked at her, confused, "That sounds familiar, somehow."
She smiled up at him, "you were the interviewee. It was love at first sight." His heart soared. "But there was a problem," she continued. "I was afraid."
"Afraid?" he asked.
"Yes. I thought you were human. Humans are…a fragile and short-lived species. A single bullet to the chest and they just fall apart and DIE. I, on the other hand, wince and then get up and walk away. Here, help me up."
Clark, bemused, helped Lois sit up. Or a Lois who claimed not to be Lois.
"Clark, I'm an alien. More alien to humans than you are. An alien who thinks a bullet to the chest isn't much worse than a paper cut. Though it stings a bit more. What is the life expectancy of a human male? 70? 80 years? Clark, my people wait longer than that to get a drivers license!"
"Are you saying you're too old for me?" he asked.
"I'm saying I've been using Lois Lane's driver's license for over two years rather than wait for my own," she quickly backpedaled.
"So why were you interested in Superman if you were in love with Clark?"
"I was afraid of getting close to Clark and then having him suddenly leave me, permanently, a risk which Superman didn't share. So I was attracted to Superman, who after all had many of the positive attributes of Clark. Also, I hoped that if I showed Clark that I was interested in Superman that he'd- that you'd…lose interest in me and I wouldn't have to choose between taking a chance on a man who could be dead tomorrow and giving up on love."
"So why did you date Lex Luthor? He's just as vulnerable as Clark."
She blushed. "Two reasons: I was trying to see if Clark would be repulsed, freeing me from having to make a painful decision. And I was investigating. Lex Luthor was that slippery villain I was trying to get the goods on for the last two and a half years! I figured that he might let something slip if I was watching closely."
"I tried to tell you Lex was a villain!"
"I already knew. I just couldn't prove it any more than you could. And I had a strong moral imperative to get that story for Lois. There's an ancient tradition among my people: When Lois was wounded in that ambush in the Congo some of her blood splashed on me. That made us more than just friends or allies, it made us like sisters and I had a responsibility to avenge her. Avenge her by revealing Lex's treachery and seeing justice done."
"So that's why you were taking chances? Dangling over the jaws of death because you needed the story that badly."
"Rather toothless jaws of death, my people don't get killed like that."
"Looked like you were in danger-"
"Remember when Trask was threatening to throw us out of the plane without parachutes and we were arguing over who got to go first?" He nodded in response. "You wanted to go first because you're Superman and can fly." He nodded again. "I wanted to go first because I'd bounce while Clark would splat." She nodded for emphasis. "It would have hurt, a lot, but I would have survived, I didn't realize you would too."
"So if you aren't Lois Lane, and I admit your proof is pretty convincing-"
"But I don't recommend it as a method of identification, it hurts."
"Yes. If you aren't Lois, then what is your name?"
"Remember I said my name was similar to Lois's? My given name is Lo'iz."
"So, is your family name Lane, too?"
She shook her head, "No, actually my family name is Kr'ch'eroo."
"So much for the unfathomable coincidences."
She gave him a speculative look out of the corner of her eye, "but my people call themselves the La'n. Close enough for you?"
"Close enough for government work," he agreed. He managed to shift to one knee, unsteadily. Lois grabbed at him to steady him; the kryptonite on the bars was taking a toll on him. "Lo'iz Kr'ch'eroy, will you marry me?"
She just stared at him for several seconds. Then, not even bothering to correct his pronunciation, she got up on both knees, took his face in her hands, kissed him and said, very softly, "yes."
Clark just looked at her for several seconds, a warm feeling filling him. But then, long before he would willing have stopped looking at her face, the world, or at least the kryptonite, intruded. He wobbled on his knee and his face went pale. Lo'iz, alarmed, grabbed his arm and helped him lie down.
"Oh, Clark, are you going to be all right?" she pleaded.
"You've just been shot in the heart-"
"In the lung," she corrected.
"Lung, and you're worried about me…"
"Yes! I got shot and it's over. But you are getting chronic radiation poisoning. I've got to get you out of here before-" she stopped in mid-sentence and listened. "Someone's coming," she hissed. She threw herself down on the bloodstain from before. "I'll play dead, you play bereaved, maybe we can get the drop on them."
She closed her eyes and went limp, hoping her fiance (her fiance!) could pull off looking bereaved. He wasn't the most accomplished dissimulator under the best of circumstances and his current joy would make acting sad difficult.
She need not have worried about his acting ability, Lex Luthor unwittingly made acting skill unnecessary by blasting Clark with the cylinder again as soon as he entered the room. "Nigel, get rid of Lane's body." Lex stood there, covering Clark with the cylinder, until Nigel had dragged Lois from the cell and relocked the door.
Lois, terrified that Lex would keep zapping Clark until he died from the blasts, just played dead.
Once the cell was relocked Lex lost interest in the proceedings and left via a private elevator. Nigel picked up Lois, got in the other elevator and went up to the parking garage.
They arrived in a dead section of the parking garage, where Nigel had parked the large black car he used for covert work. Nigel put Lois's body down while he bent to gather the items used to make a body disappear.
There was a 'ping' sound. Nigel stood up from where he was stooped over getting canvas and ropes and looked around for the source of the sound. He didn't see anything so he bent over again and managed to extract the length of rope he wanted.
As he turned back towards the body something shoved his shoulder while tripping his feet. He lost his balance and started to fall. Someone pulled his gun from his belt and then proceeded to grab him by the throat and lift his feet out of contact with the ground except for his toes.
When his eyes finally refocused he found himself being held by the throat by Lois Lane, a Lois Lane with a large bloodstain covering her blouse. The broken chain of the handcuffs dangled from her wrists. "Hello, Nigel," she said. "I've never liked you, Nigel. But maybe that's just because I've never gotten to know you. I bet if I got to know you you'd prove to be a really good friend; prove it by telling me all sorts of things. Friends tell each other things, after all. A really good friend would even tell me things about Lex Luthor." She stared at him, a mixture of irritation and anger showing in her eyes.
Nigel stared back. He didn't like the look in her eyes. He didn't like the red of the bloodstain on her blouse. He really didn't like the hand about his throat. "What do you want to know?" he asked, softly.
"Everything," she hissed back. "But we'll have time for details later. For now let's just hit the high points, like what was Lex's reason to kill me?"
"He doesn't need a reason. He's insane." This didn't seem to satisfy her, and since she was still holding him by the throat with his toes barely touching the ground he amplified, "Lex Luthor always believed he lived in a world that existed just to provide things for Lex Luthor. That isn't the sanest worldview, but now he's really lost it. Learning that Superman was Clark Kent drove him over the edge. I think he could have handled it if Superman were the President. Or if Superman were some famous actor. Or a famous playboy. Or even if Superman were Lex Luthor. But there is no way he can accept Superman being Kent. It just goads him too far."
This stopped Lois. Insanity did explain Lex's behavior. And if he was insane, then there was no telling what he'd do next… She let go of Nigel's throat and stepped back, still covering him with the gun she'd taken from him. She stopped when she was several feet back and gestured to the back of the long black car. "Get in the trunk," she ordered.
"You can't put me in the trunk," he protested.
"You were going to put me in it, weren't you?"
"But I thought you were dead!"
Lois expertly cocked the gun without looking, her aim never wavering. "And this is different how?"
He took one step towards the trunk. "There's not going to be any air in there!"
Lois sighed and stepped next to the trunk. She raised her left hand and then brought it smashing down on the trunk with a bang, leaving it there so he could see her fingers embedded in the metal of the trunk lid. Then she pulled out her fingers and hit it again, her fingers held claw like punching holes in the metal. "There! Ten air holes. Now get in before I put the next holes in you instead."
Nigel looked at the fresh holes. It wasn't a trick trunk lid or anything; it was his car. That meant Lois was capable of ramming her fingers through metal without apparent discomfort. Coupled with the fact that he'd seen her shot, point blank, in the chest, blood and all, it was extremely alarming. He unlocked the trunk and opened it. Then he lifted his leg and entered the trunk, making himself as comfortable as the cramped and lumpy space permitted, which wasn't very comfortable at all.
"Close it," Lois ordered, standing back with the gun still covering Nigel.
Nigel managed to grab the trunk, swing it towards himself and let go before it hit his hand.
Once he was locked in Lois stepped up and pocketed the key. Then she had to think. What was the best way to rescue Clark? There were two possibilities open to her. One was to return to her apartment and retrieve the advanced weaponry she had stored there. The problem with this was that it meant leaving Clark in that Kryptonite lined cage for more time. The other was to try to rescue Clark now, relying on her virtual unkillability to get him out. The problem with that was that while she couldn't be killed it didn't mean she couldn't be stopped, and Clark didn't currently have her defense against death. She finally decided that the best approach was to collect her weapons and return in force to free Clark. It was based on the assumption that Clark would survive a while in that cage. If she were wrong she'd never forgive herself…so she'd better drive really fast!
She unlocked the driver's door and got behind the wheel. Then she tried both the keys on the ring she'd taken from the trunk's lock. Neither of them fit the ignition. "Nigel," she yelled, "where is the Dang key to the ignition?"
There was a pause. Then from the trunk came the muffled reply, "in my pocket. You'll need to let me out for me to give them to you."
"No thank you," she yelled back. Then she grasped the ignition lock and yanked, pulling it out of the steering column as neatly as a car thief's tool kit could. She reached in, grabbed wires, sorted them and hot-wired the car. The engine roared to life. She pumped the gas revving the engine. Then she put it in gear and burned rubber all the way out of the parking garage.
It only took her ten minutes of reckless driving, which she hoped and trusted was unpleasant for Nigel, to reach her apartment. Either fate protected her from speeding and reckless driving tickets, or Lex's license plate on this car was known as untouchable, because no one stopped her. She ran into the apartment building, leaving the engine running and Nigel locked in the trunk. She was back out in five minutes, a small black box resembling a remote control in her left hand. She unlocked the trunk with the keys that were still in her pocket. "You can come out now, Nigel," she said.
Nigel shoved up the lid and came out swinging the tire iron. He was moving so fast the tire iron was just a blur. But it didn't connect with anyone. Confused he looked around, finally spotting Lois standing back a good fifteen feet. He looked sheepish, not expecting an amateur like Lois to behave so professionally.
"Put the tire iron in the trunk and close it," she told him, "or I'll have to shoot you rather than being nice to you. Now go into the building, and don't make a scene."
Nigel stared for a second. This was not quite the Lois he knew. And he was quite convinced she'd do it, even though he didn't see a gun at the moment. "How had she," he wondered, "put those air holes in the trunk?" Nigel walked as directed, not making a scene to attract attention, into the building and into Lois's apartment, the door to which was open.
"Into the closet," ordered Lois, gesturing to the open door of the broom closet.
"You want me in the closet?" asked Nigel.
"Alive in the closet or dead in the foyer, your choice," said Lois.
Nigel, sensibly, chose to enter the closet and then turned to look at Lois.
"Just stay there," she ordered. Then she raised the small black box in her left hand and pointed it at him. The only thing that seemed to happen was that Nigel became still. Not just the still of standing in place. Absolutely still, like a statue. Lois walked over and closed the door on Nigel with a little slam. This was taking too long. Every minute she spent dealing with Nigel was a minute Clark had to spend in that Kryptonite cage, a minute he had to spend dependant on Lex Luthor's non-existent mercy. She ran from the apartment, slamming the apartment door and leaving it unlocked, down the stairs and into the waiting car.
She burned rubber again. And again some kind fate protected her from speeding tickets; and protected anyone who might have considered stopping her. She had to slow down when she got to Lex Towers. A security guard at the gate recognized Nigel's car (as the car you don't mess with) but not Lois and waved her over to stop. The security guard was expecting to see some ID so he wasn't alarmed when Lois rolled down the window and stuck out her left hand. He was shocked by what resembled a small lightning bolt that shot from her fingers striking him in the torso. The stun bolt caused him to lose consciousness and slump to the floor. Lois put her left hand back on the wheel and put her right foot down on the gas, driving deeper into the parking garage.
She parked Nigel's car in his spot, shut off the engine and got out. She went to the elevator and discovered it needed a keycard, which was probably in Nigel's pocket, to operator it. She nearly sneered as she bypassed the primitive technology. She then waited through the minute long ride back to the basement.
There was Clark, still in the cage and (thank God!) still breathing. "Clark? Are you OK?" she asked.
He was sagging to the ground but his head popped up at the sound of her voice. "Lois?" he asked.
"I'll have you out in a second," she told him.
"Lois, the lock is-" he began but was cutoff by Lois's action.
She pulled a small device from her pocket and held it in her right hand. She pressed a button and it projected a 3- foot beam of light, like a light saber, but narrower, a light rapier as it were. She drew the beam across the front bars of the cage near the top. As the beam intersected each bar there was a flash of light. Then with the back swing she drew it across the bars near the floor. Again the flashes of light and after each flash the bar fell to the ground, severed.
Lois turned off the rapier and put it in her pocket simultaneously stepping into the cage. She grabbed Clark, threw his arm over her shoulder and helped him out of the cage and towards the elevator. She didn't seem to have as much trouble with his weight as he would have expected.
They were a few feet from the elevator door when an alarm started to sound. "They must have found the security guard," Lois said. The lights on the elevator's control panel went out. "And they've turned off the power to the elevator."
Clark wanted to ask about the security guard but Lois was reacting too fast for him. She half helped half dragged him from the elevator for the parking garage over to Lex's private elevator. The lights on this control panel were still illuminated but it had a sophisticated security system requiring a PIN code and a card containing a microchip. Clark was about to tell Lois that accessing this elevator would be impossible but she never gave him the chance.
Lois put the palm of her hand over the elevators control. A little light leaked past her hand, and Clark thought he smelled ozone, then the elevator door opened. Lois helped him inside and examined the controls. "Hmmm, interesting. This is what you'd call an 'express' elevator. It only connects this sub-basement to Lex's penthouse." She put her palm on the control panel and after a few seconds the door closed and the elevator started up. "You know, I bet that it's against Metropolis building codes to have elevator cables this long."
Clark wasn't sure what to make of any of this. Away from the Kryptonite he no longer experienced the debilitating pain he had before, but he still felt extremely weak. He wasn't very happy to be confronting Lex Luthor in this condition, though Lois, or Lo'iz, seemed supremely confident. He remained silent during the minute long ride to the penthouse, and tried to use the time to stop leaning so heavily on Lois.
Lois noticed Clark's attempt to stop leaning on her. "So eager to get away from me?" she asked jokingly. She didn't wait for a reply, "I like having you close," she assured him. "We'll just hop out at the top, get in the general elevator, go back down to street level…and leave." She gave him a little squeeze with the arm she held around his waist, just to let him know she cared.
Just then the elevator reached the penthouse, chimed and the door opened. They looked out into Lex's darkened inner office. From previous interview opportunities they knew they would have to go through the outer office to get to the main elevators.
"Nigel?" asked Lex, apparently expecting his factotum, perhaps surprised he was back so soon.
Lois tensed, realizing Lex was between them and the exit. Then a grim smile appeared on her face. She whispered to Clark, "Wait here. I'm going to scare Lex and get him out of the way at the same time." Then she winked.
Lois stepped away from Clark and straightened her bloodstained blouse. Then she seemed to adjust something at her waist. It took Clark a moment to realize that Lois seemed taller and that was because her feet were no longer touching the floor. She was hovering a few inches above it.
"Lex?" called Lois, in a tremulous voice. "Lex? Why does my chest hurt?" She moved towards the outer office, not walking though her legs swayed back and forth, rather she was leaning forward and just gliding ahead.
There was a crash of breaking glass from the direction Lex's voice had come before. "What?" asked Lex.
"Lex?" asked Lois, "I'm cold." She moved into the outer office
"Lois?" asked Lex in a tone of obvious disbelief. There was the sound of heavy footsteps. Then Lex appeared from one of the doors. He saw Lois, floating there and stopped.
"Lex?" asked Lois, continuing the same tremulous voice, "Lex, I'm cold. And my chest hurts. And I tried to talk to Nigel, and that security guard, but they just ignored me… Lex? I'm confused."
Lex was confused too. This wasn't something he'd ever expected. His hand moved, perhaps he was looking for a gun. Lois didn't let him gain the initiative, she moved towards him, trying to crowd him without getting so close that he'd touch her and realize she was real.
Lex backed away from Lois's advance. "Lois? Honey? Are you all right?"
"I don't know, Lex. Why am I so cold? And why does my chest hurt?" She put her hand to the left side of he chest, and it came away bloody. She looked at the hand, all the while slowly drifting towards Lex. She held out the hand for Lex to see. "Lex! Why is there all this blood?" she asked, her hand nearly in his face, a panicked sound faked in her voice.
Lex's courage broke. The specter of a ghost's bloody hand must have figured in too many of the stories told to frighten a young Lex Luthor. He turned and fled. Knocking over furniture in his rush.
"Lex, where are you going?" asked Lois. But since he was running from her he couldn't see the grin on her face. She returned to Clark threw his arm over her shoulder, whether he wanted her to or not, and helped him towards the elevators in the outer office. Just as they got to the doors there was a scream from the direction Lex had fled. A scream that faded as though traveling away at a great speed, a speed faster than a human could run. Lois glanced at Clark, alarm visible on her face. Then she helped him lean against the wall and ran after Lex.
She was back after a minute, her face white. To Clark she looked paler than she had after being shot in the chest. "He jumped," she said in amazement. She shook her head. "I never expected him to do that. I just wanted to scare him and make him move away."
Clark forced himself upright, walked over and put his arms around Lois, trying to comfort her.
"I looked straight down from the balcony he jumped from. He was just…spread out here, crumpled. I could actually see blood oozing across the sidewalk! I never meant to kill him!" she wailed.
Clark continued to hold her "Shhh, shhh, it's OK. You didn't kill him."
Lois had started crying but at least she was still holding on to him.
"He killed himself, by choice. He wasn't sane, he was drunk and he couldn't live with himself."
Lois held onto him, not looking him in the eye.
Clark left one arm around her, and used the other hand to lift her chin, then he kissed her. After all, it always made him feel better.
She certainly seemed to appreciate the kiss, and she stopped crying, but then she remembered another concern. "Clark, we've got to get you home so you can rest. You still need to recover from that radiation poisoning." She put an arm around his waist, either to help him or so she could feel his reassurance, and moved towards the elevator.
While they were on the way down in the elevator Clark removed his jacket and put it on Lois to hide her blood stained blouse.
By the time they got to the bottom police had arrived and were cordoning off the body and trying to keep people away so the scene could be investigated. Normally they would have detained anyone who might have been a witness, but right now they were trying to keep away the people who were attracted to all the activity. One of the police officers recognized them and groaned, expecting Mad-Dog Lane to pepper them with all sorts of questions that could only be answered with "no comment" at this point in the investigation. He was so relieved when she only shot two questions at him, one of which was for the name of the detective in charge, and then left (apparently intending to bother the detective, which was fine with the patrolman) that he promptly forgot ever seeing them.
Lois and Clark walked a block and then managed to hail a cab and head to Lois's apartment where her car was parked. Clark could go home later if he wanted but for now Lois invited him in to spend some quality time together now that they were engaged.
"I can make coffee…and I may have some junk food you'll like. Then I can take a shower to wash this blood off and get rid of these bloody clothes-" she giggled, realizing she'd both cursed and described at the same time, as she walked towards the bedroom to look for replacement clothes.
"I'll get the coffee, you take a shower. But hurry," he warned her, "or I'll have finished the ice cream before you get back."
"You'd better not!" she yelled back from her bedroom as she searched her closet.
"I'll be fair about it and give you a head start: I won't start eating ice cream until the coffee is ready."
"Do you know where the filters for my coffee machine are?"
He tried to remember and finally admitted, "no."
"Good," she laughed and disappeared into the bathroom.
Clark looked in all the logical places in the kitchen for the coffee filters and then began looking in illogical places where only Lois Lane would store filters. Finally he looked in the closet, finding both the filters and the petrified Nigel. He stared at Nigel for several seconds and then went to make coffee with the filters he'd found (politely leaving the closet door open for Nigel).
The coffee was ready, one mug made to Lois's preferences and his own half drunk, when Lois emerged from the bathroom freshly scrubbed. She accepted the mug of coffee, and Clark began dishing ice cream while Lois finished toweling her hair dry.
"Lois?" he asked.
"Why is Nigel in your closet?"
She looked at him and began to smile. "Clark," she chided, "you know how small my apartment is. Nigel is in my closet because there's no space for him under the sink," she told him, keeping a straight face.
Clark considered and had to admit, to himself, that it was a reasonable answer. "So how come he isn't moving? He looks frozen."
"Oh, that. I put him in temporal suspension. So we could ask him questions later about Lex. It may not be necessary now, but we can still ask him so we can break up Lex's empire."
"I don't know if he'll answer."
"He'll answer me, especially if I'm holding him by the throat. It seems to make him positively talkative." Then she gave him a look. "Are you sure you want to talk about Nigel and Lex. Or would you rather talk about us?"
"I'm glad there's an us. Should we talk about wedding plans?"
"That gives me a warm feeling."
"Me too, but so does this," he said, and he kissed her.