Submitted: December, 2007
Summary: Set sometime late in season 1 -- Lois gets a memento from a harrowing experience, but it might not be what she expects.
All characters and settings are the property of someone else, definitely not me, and whoever else can legally lay claim to them. No copyright infringement is intended. This story was written purely for fun, not for profit. A thank you to the writers of Lois & Clark, without them we wouldn't have this wonderful world to play in.
Lois shuddered. The water was cold. Freezing. Worse than freezing. Was there anything worse than freezing? Dying. Dying would be worse than freezing.
"Help!" she screamed again, knowing it was a futile effort. If water was pouring inside the delivery truck this rapidly, it could only mean one thing -- the truck was now under water.
Lois wasn't sure how or why it was under water. She certainly hadn't felt any jarring impact, as if the vehicle had been driven off of a bridge or something and had impacted with a watery abyss below. But water was pouring in from all sides. Lois shined her flashlight around the confines of the cargo area. Every joint, every seam, was giving way to the icy, liquid blackness that was exploring new areas to overtake.
"Help me! Please! Someone help!" she screamed again as she climbed on top of boxes in an effort to keep from standing in the frigid water. She had already tried tugging and pulling on the cargo door, hoping to find some way to open it. But there wasn't any way -- it only opened from the outside. If she was going to get out of here, someone was going to have to let her out. "Help!"
Could Superman hear her? She was inside a delivery truck... who knew where? They had been driving for what seemed like hours... maybe it was only minutes...
And now she was under... how many feet of water? How good was his hearing?
"Superman, help!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. She banged as hard as she could on the side of the truck with her fists, until her hands stung from the effort, but then stopped when she realized it only seemed to make the water come in faster.
No. No, it wasn't supposed to end like this... She wasn't supposed to drown in the back of some dirty delivery truck, where no one would ever find her.
Not her. Not Lois Lane, the woman who'd almost been blown up, pushed out of an airplane, boiled alive and swallowed by a tidal wave -- not to mention shot at.
She laughed wryly and swiped at the tears that had dared to seep into her eyes. Who was she kidding? Of course it could end like this. It ended for people every day, in ways much less interesting than this.
Would anyone ever find out what had happened to her? Why hadn't she waited for Clark to go with her? He had disappeared, off on one of the mysterious errands that he was always making... And she had been irritated at him. So when the tip had come in that 'Big Buddy Bledsoe' was delivering the goods, Lois had seen 'Pulitzer' written all over it. And she had run off and left Clark to fend for himself.
But now she was the one doing the fending. And she wasn't doing a very good job of it, either.
"Superman!" she yelled again, at the top of her lungs. She remembered the way she had hoped he could read her mind when she had been pushed from Trask's plane. 'Superman if you can hear me, drop everything and get over here...' But then she had resorted to screaming for him... like she was now.
He had told her when he rescued her that day that he couldn't read minds, but that he had really good hearing.
That was a shame... that he couldn't read minds. She really wished he could read hers right now, because she really doubted he was going to hear her.
"Superman! Help!" she tried again, anyway.
The water was practically gushing in now, much harder and faster than before. The black void had climbed the sides of the boxes she was standing on and was now creeping over the top of them. She had nowhere left to go. She didn't have any room left to climb any higher and even if she could have, everything to climb on was now under water.
Hot pain seared through her feet and legs as the water hit them and began to climb up her body. She hadn't expected the icy water to feel hot, but it did. It burned. She pulled one leg up out of the water and balanced on the other, then put it back down and brought the other leg up.
How long did it take for hypothermia to set in, or frostbite for that matter? She could just imagine Superman saving her, only to lose all her toes to frostbite. Wouldn't that be a lovely sight?
Well, maybe if she lost both her feet, Superman could just fly her where she wanted to go.
Lois snorted at the absurdity of it all and then gave way to a few more tears. She could imagine the confusion and hurt that her parents would feel when she never reappeared -- never knowing what had happened to her. It was strange, but not unexpected, that it pained her worse to think how badly it would hurt Perry and Jimmy.
What would Clark think? He would miss her. How badly would he miss her? How much would he grieve over the loss of his partner?
She wrinkled her nose and snuffled a little with the effort. They were more than partners. They were friends. If she was honest, she wondered sometimes if Clark didn't wish they were more than friends. She noticed the way he looked at her when he didn't think she was watching... the way he touched her when he didn't think she was paying attention.
Like when he laid his hand ever so gently against the small of her back as he ushered her through a door he was holding open for her.
That same spot on her back where the water had now risen, causing stabbing pains to shoot through her abdomen. Lois began to cry harder. She'd never see those looks again, never feel those touches. No. It wasn't fair.
"Superman!" she screamed desperately again.
She wasn't sure when those looks and touches had become so important to her, but of all the things she could possibly think of to miss, right that second, those moments with Clark were the ones that chose to enter her mind.
"Clark," she whispered quietly. "I'm sorry. I never told you how much you mean to me. I never let you in... never gave you a chance."
Her tears came faster now, rolling down her cheeks to join with the water that was rushing up her chest, to meet them at the base of her throat.
It was too late now. Too late to tell him. Too late to change anything in her life. It was over. It was all over.
And he would never know. A cold numbness engulfed her heart, like frostbite, but this feeling didn't come from the rising icy depths, it came from inside her.
As the water at last crept up her neck, she stood on tiptoe, trying to escape it. She let out one last wailing cry of "Superman!" before the water overtook her and she was submerged. She let go of the flashlight she had been holding tightly, so that she could use her arms to tread water. She swam up, searching for air, but there was none left to find.
Her flashlight quickly died from exposure to the water and Lois closed her eyes tightly, allowing visions of Clark's smile to sparkle in her mind.
When her lungs had held out as long as they could and she was about to gasp in a gulpful of water, it suddenly began receding. It was draining out of the truck at a startling rate.
Lois took several long, deep breaths of air and then coughed as her lungs painfully protested. The rush of oxygen left her feeling a little lightheaded, so that when the truck began to buck and jerk abruptly, jostling her, she fell off the boxes she was standing on and down into the remaining water below. Boxes tumbled and tossed around her, some of them landing on top of her. She winced when something managed to break through the numbness in her leg enough that she could feel pain. That couldn't be good.
The lurching motion stopped suddenly with a loud, jarring 'thud'. And then the back door was ripped from its hinges. Moonlight streamed in from the cold, clear night sky outside.
"Lois!" Superman called her name frantically. She looked up to see him snatching up boxes and throwing them out of the truck behind him, as he waded through the mess to reach her. "Lois!" he said her name again when he spotted her. Both his relief and concern were evident by the weakness betrayed in his voice.
"Superman!" she called back, finally finding her voice. "I can't move my left leg. It's pinned." Before she even finished her plea, the weight was gone and she was in his arms.
"Hold still for a moment," he instructed her softly, looking at her intently. He moved his gaze up and down her body slowly, methodically, and she blushed when she realized what he was doing.
He was x-raying her. Checking for broken bones or internal injuries.
"I think I'm okay," she reassured not only him but also herself.
She heard him let out a soft sigh. "I think you are too." He stood up with her in his arms and then gently lowered her to the ground until her feet were almost touching. "Tell me if you can put weight on your left leg."
He lowered her further and Lois put pressure on her leg. It was okay, there was no sharp pain... only a dull ache. "It's f...fine."
Superman pulled her against his body and hugged her gently, catching her by surprise. "It's not fine. You're going to have a massive bruise there tomorrow. The box that fell on your leg weighed a lot. I'm amazed that it didn't break your leg."
Lois didn't know what to say. After being so cold and so alone, she felt so warm and so alive. She began to shiver as the weight of what had almost happened descended on her.
Superman released her from his embrace and started to step away but Lois clung to him. "P...please don't le...let go," she begged.
"Lois, I need to get your clothes dry before hypothermia sets in," he said gently. "Give me just a moment." He stepped back and a warm red glow began to bathe Lois from head to foot. After a few seconds she felt warm and dry again. She patted her shirt and was surprised to find that it wasn't even damp.
"Wow," she breathed. But even though she was dry, she couldn't quite seem to get her shivering to stop. At Superman's concerned look, she smiled and mumbled a sheepish, "S...s...sorry. I think I m...might be in a li...little shock."
Her shock only deepened when she watched him tear his cape loose from his suit and then wrap it around her. "Here, this will keep you warm."
"Thanks," she said quietly, fighting the overwhelming urge to just faint from the whole experience and be done with it. He had ripped his cape away like he was tearing a piece of tissue paper. He had ruined it... for her.
Would he... would he let her keep it?
She shook her head at herself -- what a time to be thinking of a souvenir.
"You're welcome," he told her softly, his face dark and troubled. "Lois, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I didn't get here sooner. If I..." He broke off with a shuddery breath. "Do you want me to take you to a hospital and get you examined?"
"N...no, that won't be necessary... really. You looked m...me over -" She tried to hide a blush but didn't think she was very successful. "- I'm s...sure I'm okay. Just take me home, please."
Superman nodded. "I'll take you wherever you want, Lois," he assured her, lifting her easily into his arms as he glided up into the air in one smooth motion.
Lois snuggled against him, thankful to have his warmth and grateful to feel safe at last. She glanced down at the cape she was wrapped in. This was definitely one costume she wouldn't mind wearing again... under different circumstances. She smiled when she thought of the look on Jimmy's face if she wore it to the next office costume party. What would he say?
What would Clark say?
Lois frowned at where her mind was suddenly turning. She really didn't want to think about what had happened tonight. She wanted to daydream about the cape, about Superman... about anything else. But try as she might, her mind kept going back to her thoughts in what had almost been her watery grave...
...her thoughts about Clark.
"Superman?" she said his name softly, unsure of what she was about to ask him. Maybe Superman's cape wasn't really what she wanted to take with her from this night. She had gotten a rare glimpse of what really mattered to her -- that was an even better keepsake. And maybe, just maybe, she would get something worth even more.
"You said you would take me anywhere?" she asked hesitantly. Wasn't it worth the risk? Life was so uncertain. Didn't he deserve to know?
"Take me to Clark."