By Poison Ivy
Summary: Things go tragically wrong at the Daily Planet when Lois and Clark's daughter visits.
(Prefanfic note: Sorry, I didn't write a beginning to this, just cut to the chase. So I'll give you some background: Lois and Clark are married and have a seven-year-old named Molly. The whole thing takes place in the Daily Planet. If you see a word or phrase in *'s, then it means that word or phrase is being thought. The "I" in the story is Lois. And this is a pretty sad one. Be kind, I'm young. <G>)
Molly and Clark were still in Perry's office when screams echoed from the hallway. Clark ran out of the office onto the ramp, leading Molly by the hand. Into the room from the front door came a shabbily dressed man. My reporters' detail-searching eye swept over him. The kid looked no older than 20, like he could have gone to school with Jimmy. His hair was straggly, hadn't been washed in days. His leather jacket, grungy-grey tee shirt and jeans hadn't seen a laundromat in even longer. I looked into his eyes, and what I saw frightened me. They were dark, bloodshot hollows of madness. *He must be high on something,* I thought. When he called out, his voice was gravely. He might have been smoking packs upon packs of cigarettes (or joints upon joints) daily for a very long time. But what he was actually saying was what sent fear through the hearts and minds of all in the Daily Planet that fated April day.
"Get back!" he yelled. "Everybody get away from the phones! Stand in the middle here, where I can see you! MOVE! Or I'll shoot!" Only then did I realise that in his black-gloved hands he held a gun.
People were moving fast. I looked for Clark and Molly, and a wave of nausea washed over me when I realized they were on the rap within an arms' reach of the gunman.
Clark practically dragged his seven-year-old back. In a very frightened little voice, Molly asked "Dad? What's going on?" Clark didn't answer her for what could you say when a little girl asks a question like that? He just shushed her, in the worry that she might draw the attention of the gunman.
Clark debated running out and coming back in as Superman, but canceled the idea. The gunman was just a teenager; a kid! What kid would open fire in a newsroom? (Clark deliberately refused to think about the piece he'd done a few years back on big city gangs.) Besides, there was no way he could slip out unnoticed. And he certainly couldn't leave Molly alone. All this kid needed was for someone to talk to him, calm him down.
A voice rang out over the crowd. Clark's brown eyes flashed to its origin. He breath a sigh of relief when he found it. *Just the man for the job*.
From behind me, a deep Southern voice called out "Now, just calm down, son. Tell us what you want." *Perry*, I thought in slight relief. Perry had dealt with madmen like this greasy fellow before. I was sure that if anyone could calm the kid down, Perry could.
"Who the hell are you?" the gunman demanded in a voice very used to questioning authority. *He's done this before too,* I thought with foreboding. Perry pushed past me, stood behind the copy machine and called up to the boy.
"Perry White, editor and chief of the Daily Planet." His voice was incredibly calm, direct contrast to whom he was speaking. "Now," Perry continued diplomatically (though with respectable fear), "just tell us what you want and nobody will get hurt."
"I WANT TO BE HEARD!!" The madman screamed suddenly. I felt destiny close in on me like an iron door. A single numb thought played across my brain: *Someone's going to die today.*
Jack Miles was at the back of the crowd watching the conversation between his boss and the gunman, and Jack knew the kid wasn't going to listen to Perry. After nearly fifty years working in a newsroom, Jack had gotten inside the minds of the most demented madmen most people alive today can remember. This kid was a relic from the 60's; a hippie. He was sick of being told what to do, and he didn't want to take any BS from someone three times his age. Our little greasy fear-inflictor was going to panic and open fire any minute now. *Unless I do something*.
Jack crouched down, praying the popping of his arthritic knees wasn't audible across the room. He sat Indian- style beneath a desk. The woman in front of him twisted around and looked him square in the eye. As Jack pulled out his cellular phone, he gave to woman a red-hot look that read *turn around, you idiot, and look scared!* She seemed to get the point and about-faced.
Jack held the phone in front of him, pressing the most glorious, safe numbers in the phone book: 9-1-1. Unfortunately, Jack's stubby index finger chose the wrong time to stab purchase. When he hit the buttons, they made a faint booping sound, inaudible most of the time in a crowded room. But by some twist of nature, the numbers chose to to boop just as a momentary silence fell across the room.
A freak accident, couldn't happen again if Jack tried. But it didn't matter, for that was the one mistake which shattered the lives of two people waiting at the front of the crowd.
When the madman yelled "What is that?" I didn't understand what he was talking about. Nevertheless, I felt fate rearing its ugly head.
Perry, who was in mid-sentence, stopped in his tracks. He felt it too. "WHAT IS THAT?!" The madman's crazed eyes swept over the crowd. "Someone ANSWER me!" No one did. He hopped over the railing, stepping hard on the copy machine. I saw Perry wince as the glass shattered. (I couldn't help but think that, in another time and place, it could be almost humorous.) I heard Molly scream, Clark hushing her. The crowd parted down the middle like the Red Sea as the armed kid sharked through it.
Over all the people, I couldn't see what was happening. But at last it seemed the kid found what he was looking for. Something plastic clattered to the floor and the kid yanked someone to their feet.
I stood on tiptoe, but the crowd was too dense, too many people were taller than me.
Jack, on the other hand, had a front row seat. Simply because he was the one being held up by his tie. The kid was yelling something in his face, but all Jack could think was *dammit, why did you have to get a phone that makes noise?* After what seemed to be an eternity, the kid finally held the gun to Jack's head. People all around were screaming but Jack barely heard them. All his senses were pointed at the cold, hard tip of the gun poking him in the temple. It really hurt.
There was an immense pressure on the left side of Jack's head and it was released on the opposite side. Suddenly it was 1963 again, President Kennedy was in a convertible with his wife. They were both waving to the cheering Americans around them. A shot rang out and screams filled the air. Bodyguards were moving fast. Jack Miles, novice reporter, pushed through the crowd in search of a scoop. But this time, when the blood splattered it was Jack's on John, not John's on Jack.
I couldn't see what was going on but I heard enough to get the gist. A gunshot, screams, and the dull thud of a heavy body. I screamed myself and whipped my dark-brown head around in search of my husband and daughter. And there they were, same place as before, at the front of the crowd on the ramp. I wished to God Clark would melt back into the crowd. Maybe God was busy that day.
Clark was getting very worried. Molly was crying. He looked out over the crowd and fear rose up in his chest. The gunman was coming towards them.
The gunman sliced through the frightened reporters and climbed back on the ramp. He seemed to like its podium- like feel. His eyes were panicky, though, his movements spastic. He'd gone over the edge. "Now," he shrieked in a frenzy, "that was a VERY bad mistake. I've … gotta get … " he ran his gun-free hand through his greasy, longish black hair. He seemed to get more panicky by the minute. " … outta here … before … " Jack had ruined his plans. Maybe the gunman hadn't even meant to shoot him. But now the kid was too distraught to think of what to do next.
Police sirens whined outside. The kid actually screamed in alarm. Desperately, his hand snatched out like lightening and grabbed a very small person as a hostage.
My world froze. Molly's high-pitched shriek would play through my nightmares for years after. *He's got Molly, he's got Molly, HESGOTMOLLY!!!!
Molly was in the gunman's grasp before Clark even realized what was happening. He'd been watching Lois instead of what was going on around him. Molly called out to him, her arms outstretched. "Daddy … "
"Get back, Pops," the gunman snarled. "Or Daddy's Little Girl will have a nasty hole in her side."
Clark looked from the gunman to Molly, desperately thinking what to do. It was all happening too fast. He could try to grab Molly away, but any movement he took could cause the gunman to pull the trigger. *I've gotta jump four feet,* he thought, his mind in high gear. *All this madman has to do is move one little muscle. Even with my Kryptonian powers … C'mon, Kal-El!* he admonished himself. *Make a decision!*
As it was, Clark ended up not having to take that gamble.
The thought chugged through my mind like a locomotive. The next thirty seconds seemed to move in a slow- mo dreams. The gunman's eyes took on a fear glint, as though he were caged.
His finger moved. No one would ever really know why. Maybe he was just so panicky and shaking so badly it just happened.
All my senses were heightened. I heard the clicking of the trigger, the snap of the cock, the sonic boom of the explosion sending a steel bullet shattering the barrel … and into Molly's heart.
I saw my daughter fall, but barely noticed or cared that the gunman ran out of The Daily Planet. Without even knowing how, I managed to clamor onto the ramp. Something fell and crashed behind me. (Later Perry would tell me it was the beaten copy machine, finally killed for good when I vaulted over the ramp railing, knocking the poor thing off its table.) I scooped Molly up in my arms, trying to cover the hole in the girl's side. Warm sticky fluid ran over my over my fingers, and it barely registered to me as blood. I felt a presence beside me, and I glanced up long enough to see it was Clark. He was kneeling on Molly's other side and whispering over and over "I should have done something. I could have saved her."
Molly's little brown eyes focused on me and she whispered something too soft to be heard. She hiccuped, and little red blood bubbles came to her lips. I cried and pleaded, asking whatever God was out there to spare my child's life.
But the cruel wheel of fate must keep on turning. It was that sunny afternoon when Lois Kent heard her daughter's last breath, and felt her last heartbeat.
(Post fanfic note: Comments? Questions? (Tissues?) Should I write a sequel? I've got a scene in my mind of the funeral, and the night after the funeral, but I don't know how it'll come out on paper. And beside, this story is sad enough already. Two more scenes could cross the lines from "really sad" to "just drowning in personal tragedy". What do you think?