By Catherine Bruce <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted March 2006
Summary: This is an alternate (and WHAM worthy) ending to season four's "Dead Lois Walking." I was bad and didn't put my toys back where I found them when I finished.
Disclaimer: I own them not. However, I didn't put them back as I found them. Consider this your WHAM warning as well.
Timeline: This is an alternate ending to 'Dead Lois Walking.'
A/N: Thanks to Psychofurball and JenniJAC for their help on this! If not for them, this would still be floating listlessly around in my head.
*This is dying.*
Clark strained against the arms that held him back, his heart breaking as he watched his wife being strapped to a chair beyond the flimsy glass. He cursed the men that held him back, loudly and vehemently, only to stop when his eyes locked with his wife's pleading gaze.
Was she silently asking him to somehow save her, begging, as he was, that his powers return? Or was she simply pleading that he be there for *her*, to ignore the fact that she was strapped to a chair, a trained nurse next to her prepping a needle, and just lend her what strength he could?
He allowed the guards to guide him back to his chair, hardly paying attention as they strapped him in, a sick mimicry of what was before him. He tried to ignore the cold sterility of her prison, the bright fluorescent light that seemed to bring forth every sharp contrast in her face, making her jagged and harsh. Instead, he concentrated on her eyes. He might be powerless to stop them, but he could still give her what he had. His support.
They had been foolish to think that they had been safe. Foolish to believe the assuring words of a desperate man. They had become lax, naïve to believe the café owner when he had told them that he was on *their* side when he'd sent the sheriff away. Clark had actually thought that they were safe until the man had come back an hour later on his motorcycle, leading a small caravan of Metropolis police cars. Pain had seared through his body as they were all too quickly slammed against the wall, foriegn fingers searching and roughly groping and he had tried to wrench away when he'd heard her frightened voice call out his name. He'd wanted to reassure her, tell her he was alright and that everything was going to be okay, and he might have even gotten some of the words out before his hands were painfully wrenched behind his back and secured tightly in place.
As he and Lois were cuffed and roughly shoved into separate vehicles, the owner had actually seemed relieved, *pleased* even, that a man such as himself had been the one to turn in Mad Dog Killer Lane.
He *had* tried to escape. Thoughts of keeping his secret vanished as he realized that this was it. However, Metropolis' finest had obviously been expecting to find Superman as Mad Dog's accomplice, not her mild-mannered husband.
And as luck would have it, the car he had been shoved into housed the only substance known to man that could stop the hero in his tracks.
Clark screwed his eyes shut, trying to shove aside everything but the now. His wife needed him here in the present, not worrying over a past he could not change, no matter how much he wanted to. After a harsh, stabilizing breath he locked his gaze onto hers, determined to shove aside his own fears and take on hers. However, the look in her eyes broke his heart.
He saw no fear. There wasn't even any anger. Instead, her eyes were strong and steady on his, calm and reassuring. In a perverse reversal of roles, *she* was lending *him* the strength to get through this. Clark felt a tightness in his chest that had nothing to do with the suit beneath his clothing.
Determined, he returned her gaze with one of his own, trying to convey in one look all the love he felt for her. Lois relented to his silent request, allowing him to be the beacon of strength once more, allowing herself to show the uncertainty she felt. To others she undoubtedly looked composed and poised, but he noticed the faint quiver in her chin, the glistening in her eyes. *I love you*, he mouthed, wishing more than anything he could say it and she could hear him.
*"I love you, too."*
Clark was momentarily taken aback as the faint whisper reached his ears. Her own reaction of surprise assured him that he had not hallucinated hearing her voice through the glass, and he tried to concentrated, barely able to hold back the small blossom of hope.
Then he heard it. Perhaps a bit faster than he was used to, perhaps a bit harsher, but the sound of her heartbeat was unmistakable. His powers were returning.
Clark had to bite back a frustrated cry as the bonds that held him to the chair refused to budge, but this setback did little to diminish the growing hope he felt. Her pulse was getting stronger in his ears, and he grasped onto the erratic cadence, keeping it as a lifeline in his mind.
She was watching him, curious despite her situation, and he flashed a reassuring smile. Lois returned it with a watery one of her own, tilting her head slightly to one side. She opened her mouth — he could hear the breath she drew — and then the startled gasp as her eyes widened and her lungs emptied with one word.
Her heart hammered for a moment, and for one confusing second he wasn't sure what had happened. The he saw the needle pressing into her arm. He pulled against the chair as the needle pierced skin, strained as the nurse pressed onto the plunger.
Everything became disjointed, her slow slide into unconsciousness could have lasted two seconds or two years, but either way until she fully succumbed she'd only had eyes for him. Her breathing slowed as her chin eased into her chest. Her pulse became thready in his ears.
He doubled his efforts to get free, knowing that if he could just free himself now he could get to her; fly her away to someplace where he could get an antidote, a counter-agent, *anything.*
He only had moments left, but if he could just fly again then that wouldn't matter and he'd get her to safety with more than enough time to spare—
Time stopped, an eternity held in a second as he strained his superior hearing for signs of another beat in the slowing cadence of her heart. Another breath. Anything to indicate that she was still alive.
None came, and hope died.
*No…* His broken plea reverberated in the air around him, ricocheting against the walls and gaining in intensity until the walls began to shake. Then he realized that it wasn't an echo of an almost forgotten whimper, but was instead a cry that gained in intensity until finally he was screaming.
One thought entered his mind and refused to leave. *She's gone.*
With a burst of returning strength he lunged forward, chair shattering and shackles snapping as the force of his movements rammed them against his back. He ignored the startled cries of the small group of people surrounding him. The hands that had effectively restrained him earlier tried to pull him back, but this time they were thrown to the side. The sound of tearing cloth could be heard, causing him to pause long enough to look down and see that his would be captors had unknowingly succeeded in one thing, ripping away half of his shirt to reveal the familiar blue suit and part of the yellow symbol beneath.
Movement beyond the glass caught his eye. Before he could stop it a surge of unrealistic hope filled him before he saw that it wasn't Lois returned from the dead, but the frantic movements of the nurse who had wielded the needle. He brought his fists up above his head, and one furious blow shattered the pane of Plexiglas.
The nurse crouched behind the chair where Lois was still strapped in. "Get away from her!" The feral growl almost startled him, and it definitely frightened the cowering woman. One moment he was on the wrong side of the wall, and the next he was shoving the nurse away. The chair tipped, and Lois slid almost gracefully to the floor.
He crouched beside the still figure, realizing that his wife wasn't just gone. She had been stolen from him, ripped away in a flurry of political campaign and revenge. The very system he had fought along side for so many years had not only failed him when he needed it the most, it had even played an unforgivable role. It had *allowed* this, allowed an innocent woman to die for a crime she could never have committed.
Every muscle in his body tightened with a feeling that, until recently, had been almost foriegn to him. His fists clenched at his sides, nails digging into flesh hard enough to draw even his own blood. It took everything he had not to scream again until he was hoarse, not to grab the closest breathing body and ignore everything humane his parents had instilled in him since childhood.
The white-hot anger left him as quickly as it came, leaving only despair. He brushed his fingers against her cool cheek, the lines of her face blurring as he choked out a whimpering sob. She looked almost peaceful lying there, reminding him of more than one night he had spent just watching her sleep. Only now she wouldn't sigh deeply and unconsciously burrow into his arms. Her brows wouldn't furrow in response to a dream, her fingers wouldn't twitch. Her heart wouldn't finally lull him into a peaceful sleep. He was alone.
Because of a system he had placed his faith so blindly in.
He blinked, clearing his vision, and eased his hands beneath her. Carefully, he pulled her up to him, cradling her body as he stood. It was different to hold her like this, and he had to take a second to readjust. And then he couldn't stand the sight of her neck arched back so unnaturally, weighed down, and he had to adjust again, resting her head in the crook of his shoulder.
He had spent so many years traveling, studying so many different cultures. Many believed that when a person died, all that was left behind was a shell, a husk, no longer connected to the person they had once been. Looking at her, he didn't know how they could have come to that conclusion. Lois was gone, he held no illusion otherwise. What he held now was still a part of what she had been, the cooling, seemingly waxen doll of a body which had once been host to the most vivacious spirit he had ever known. He pressed his lips softly to her forehead.
The man who turned his glare on the quiet crowd was neither of the men the world had known before. He would no longer be Clark Kent, and he could no longer be Superman.
He left the prison, people parting for him and his burden. People walking down the street, oblivious to what had happened, gasped at the sight of him carrying his wife.
For years afterwards, the people who were within sight would recall with a mixture of horror and sadness as Clark took off, no one knowing that it would be the last time anyone except an elderly Kansan couple would see the alien.
The darkroom glowed a soft eerie glow as chemicals were expertly mixed and distributed. Jimmy stared for a long moment at the blank sheet he held above the chemicals, last moments of doubt plaguing his mind before letting the sheet go, setting the timer.
For five years he had refused to develop this one photograph. He still felt he had no right to spy on one of the last moments before two of his best friends had disappeared, no right to share it with the rest of the world. In the end, it would wake him up in the middle of the night. It had become almost a game with himself, see how long he could go without giving in to the curiosity. Finally last week, as the anniversary of the event had drawn near, he had known that it was time.
The sister photograph to this one, the one that had run in the edition of the Daily Planet the day after The Event, had been so full of cold rage. Clark Kent stared out at the group of people, eyes cold and hard. Jimmy had been startled when CK had erupted from his chair and smashed the Plexiglas as though it were a flimsy sheet of glass. When the newly widowed reporter had turned to them all carrying his wife, Jimmy had seen something that had almost made his heart stop.
Clark Kent *was* Superman.
Almost unconsciously, he had taken the picture.
It was the picture before that that he hadn't been able to develop. And the sad thing was, he didn't even know what the picture was of, if it was even any good. All he knew was that his finger had slipped and the flash of his bulb had filled the room. When he had looked at the negatives, choosing a picture to run, he'd hidden that particular cell away. Until now.
Running a hand through his hair, Jimmy waited for the picture to develop. His eyes strayed toward the newspaper clipping he had brought with him. Absently, a finger strayed over the headline, the one he himself had written when the real truth had been revealed. Not just Clark's truth, but the final evidence that had proven beyond a doubt Lois' innocence.
'Betrayal of Justice.'
The timer went off and his attention was drawn to the tray, and as the last bit was developed, he stared mesmerized.
Clark Kent knelt beside his wife, fingers pressed against her cheek. His shirt was torn, the shreds of the one side hanging low on his arm, the symbol of the missing superhero peeking out.
However, it wasn't the rare photo of Clark Kent exposed that drew such an emotional response from the photographer. It was the look in his eyes, the open and raw look of a man who had just recently lost the most essential part of himself, that made it such a powerful piece.
A/N 2: Clark has told Lois on more than one occasion that he didn't know what he would do if he lost her. If she were to be killed during an investigation, in a car accident, by a disease, I personally believe that, while it would leave him emotionally eviscerated but he would eventually be able to go on again. However, what would happen if she were taken from him? If Justice, the thing he trusted implicitly to always do right, the thing he believed in with such conviction, took away the *only* thing that meant more to him?