By Susan Stone (email@example.com)
Summary: While on a stakeout with Clark, Lois falls asleep and dreams she had married Lex Luthor. In the dream, things go from bad to worse to as horrible as could be imagined.
This is the first story of any sort that I've written and *completed* that wasn't a class assignment. I've *started* more than I could count. The inspiration came as I was watching Barbarians at the Planet and House of Luthor last weekend. I thought about writing an alternate reality story, but decided to make it a nightmare instead, since I know very little about the concept of alternate realities. As far as continuity goes, this story fits immediately after Whine, Whine, Whine, and it supersedes and contradicts And the Answer Is. In any case, I'd love any feedback, though I beg you to be gentle with an ambitious beginning author. :-)
Clark was glad to see that Lois had drifted off to sleep. He doubted anything would come of this particular stakeout, though there they were at Perry's insistence, and Lois had been exhausted all day. She'd stayed up pretty late, she'd told him, thinking about the things they'd said to each other the night before, and then she'd been woken up an hour and a half before normal by workers repaving the street outside her apartment. All in all, she'd been a bundle of coffee-induced crankiness all day, but now she was peacefully and beautifully asleep.
As he gazed at her, her expression shifted from a slight smile to a frown, and she moved restlessly. Probably having a nightmare, he thought, and considered waking her. He hated the thought of her being unhappy even in her sleep, but he decided that if he woke her now, she'd remember her dream, but if she slept through it, she'd probably forget. Besides, she needed her rest, and didn't research show that REM sleep was actually the most important phase? He stared out the window into the night, more or less in the direction of the building they were staking out, his mind working on the dilemma of how to tell her he was Superman.
Lois Lane Luthor, married exactly one month and just back from a honeymoon in the South Pacific, stared at the contents of her closet, feeling vague dissatisfaction. Not that the honeymoon had been bad—she'd had fun, mostly, though Lex was a little domineering for her taste. Oh, not cruel or anything like that, but more and more she was seeing that her new husband had a stubborn streak a mile wide, and was more interested in his pleasure and convenience than hers, whether in bed or in deciding where they would go for dinner. He made it *sound* so nice—it was always, "Lois, I've heard better things about *this* restaurant," or, "Wouldn't it be more fun like *this*?", but the bottom line was he always got his way. It was a little scary—she'd never before encountered anyone whose will was strong enough to override her own, and she'd certainly never planned on *marrying* that sort of person.
But what was really bothering her, as she stood in front of her huge closet debating what to wear on her first day back at her LNN job, was the luxury and isolation of her new surroundings. She actually missed her one-bedroom apartment, with the sound of her neighbor's stereo faintly echoing through the bathroom pipes, and she would've given up her new job, all her new trappings of wealth and luxury, and (she was shocked to realize) her marriage itself if she could only go back to the Daily Planet as it had been before Lex bought it, before the explosion, and work side by side with Clark again. She wondered how Clark was doing, and if he'd found another job yet. He shouldn't have any problems, with his skills and his Planet credentials. He'd be an asset to any paper in the country, but she just hoped he'd stayed in Metropolis. She walked back to the bed and picked up the phone—Lex had already left for the day, without telling her where he was going or what he was doing—and dialed Clark's number. To her surprise, the number had been disconnected, and the message didn't include a forwarding number. Puzzled, she called Kansas Information and asked for the number of Jonathan and Martha Kent in Smallville.
"Hello?" The voice sounded tired, and much older than Lois remembered Clark's mother.
"Martha? This is Lois Lane…I mean Luthor…calling from Metropolis."
"Um, I just got back into town yesterday evening—I've been gone for a month on my honeymoon—and I was wondering what was going on with Clark. I tried calling him, but it had been disconnected."
"Lois, Clark is missing." The voice almost broke.
"Missing? Oh my God! For how long?"
"We haven't heard from him since just before your wedding. No-one has. We tried Perry and Jimmy, and called the police. He's vanished without a trace."
Lois fought tears. "Maybe he had a relapse of amnesia."
"We've thought of that, of course, but we've just about given up hope now. It's been a month, surely someone would've found him…our only child…we loved him so much…the worst of it is not knowing, not being sure, not even having the comfort of finding his body."
"Martha, don't give up hope! People have turned up after being missing much longer than a month. I'm still an investigative reporter. I'll look into it myself, see if I can find out anything more."
"Thank you, Lois. I appreciate that."
The phone rang again within five minutes, as she was getting dressed.
"This is Jason at LNN." Jason was her administrative assistant.
"What is it, Jason?"
"There's no easy way to say this…A dock worker discovered Superman's body washed up at one of the piers this morning."
"*What*?! How is that possible?" Fresh tears poured down her cheeks. First her best friend was missing, now the man she loved but couldn't have was dead. What other horrors would this day bring for her?
"No-one knows, though he hadn't been sighted in over a month, and people were starting to wonder what had happened. We have a camera crew on the scene, and we're about to break into regular programming with the exclusive. But I'm calling because Ms. Allen suggested that you postpone returning to work until tomorrow. She knows you were Superman's friend, and she says she can handle things fine for one more day."
"Jason, tell her thanks very much. I'll be in tomorrow."
Lois fell back on the bed and sobbed. Superman dead. Clark missing. With them gone, what was left of her happy former life?
The phone rang again. "Lois, this is Martha Kent." It was hard to understand her, because she was crying too. "We just saw on LNN that Superman's body was found, and there's something I think you should know."
"Clark was Superman."
It didn't occur to Lois to doubt her. It made too much sense, explained too many things. "Oh my God."
"Could you try to find out who did this to him, how it happened? It must've been kryptonite, but…"
"Of course. Whoever did this to him has to pay." Her voice was fierce.
"Oh, Lois, revenge isn't the point. It's not what Clark would've wanted. But we want to know what happened to him, and whoever did this is probably dangerous to everyone."
"Yes. Martha, I'll research this to the best of my abilities, and I'll keep in contact with you. Let me know if you need anything."
"We will. Good-bye, Lois."
"Good-bye." She hung up the phone and tried to collect her thoughts. Someone had murdered Superman… Clark. Who would want to? Who would have the power to? But it was hard to think at all. Partner, best friend, beloved. All the same person, but she'd found out too late. Why hadn't she *seen*? And more importantly, why hadn't she seen that Clark, even if he hadn't been Superman, was ten times the man Lex was in every way that mattered? Why hadn't she let herself love him? And then she remembered, with utter horror, telling him as Superman that she would've still loved him if he'd been an ordinary man. How she must've hurt him, and what a fool she'd been.
She wanted someplace to be alone with her misery, someplace where no prying maid or personal assistant would discover her. Then she remembered the basement. Rummaging through Lex's night stand, she found a basement key, which she knew to be the only one. That was where Lex kept his most confidential documents and information, and she'd given him her word to stay out of it. She no longer cared about that, since she now openly admitted to herself that she no longer cared for her husband. In any case, she wasn't going there to discover his secrets, but to be sure she'd be alone.
Somehow she slipped down the elevator and into the basement without anyone noticing her. The first thing that met her eyes was a large cage standing empty, lit up with a green glow and buzzing with a familiar, ominous hum. "Kryptonite," she whispered, horrified. Clark had been right all along about Lex. A fresh wave of misery swept over her—she was married to a man who'd killed Superman, killed her best friend and the man she really loved. And she almost simultaneously realized that if she hadn't been such a blind fool, if she'd said no to Lex, if she'd accepted Clark's love that day in the park, things might well have been very different. This was her fault, too. Now there was only one thing left for her to do.
With a new calm, she got herself back up the elevator and to Lex's office, where he kept his weapon collection. She checked the guns until she found a loaded one, put its end in her mouth, and squeezed the trigger.
Lois jerked awake and screamed a piercing wail of abject misery. Clark pulled her into his arms. "Lois, it's okay, it was only a dream." She kept screaming and didn't seem fully aware of him or her surroundings. "Lois!" He shook her gently.
She started, and her eyes focused on his face. "Clark! Oh, Clark, you're *alive*!" She flung her arms around his waist, buried her head against his shoulder, and sobbed convulsively.
He chuckled tenderly. "I'm alive. I'm here. Shh. Everything's okay. I love you." The declaration slipped out as naturally and inevitably as water running downhill. He tightened his embrace, stroking her back and shoulders and pressing his lips to her hair.
"I've never had a worse nightmare. I was married to Lex, and you were missing. And then they found your body, and I found out that *he* killed you."
That almost happened, Clark thought.
"Wait a minute." She abruptly pushed herself upright, staring intently into his eyes. "There was one other thing." Before she realized what she planned to do, she removed his glasses. "Superman."
"That was in your dream?" His mind reeled. He wished he'd told her, but above all he was glad she finally knew.
"Yes, your mother told me, and it was Superman's body they found anyway. There was this kryptonite cage in Lex's basement."
"That really happened, Lois, though I don't know how it got into your dream."
"But you got out." She slid back into his arms. "Clark, I'm sure tomorrow I'm going to be furious with you for deceiving me for so long—"
"I don't blame you. I meant to tell you before now, but—"
"But tonight I'm just glad you're here. Alive. With me. Because I love you very much." She reached up and kissed him softly.
His eyes shone with tears. "I've loved you from the day I saw you." He kissed her, a slow intense kiss of smoldering passion. With a sigh of joy and relief, she pressed closer, reveling in the sweet, strong embrace of her partner, her best friend, and the man she loved.