A Smallville/Superman Returns crossover
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, and I have no rights whatsoever. This is just for fun.
"Superman, help!" Lois called, for the very last time. Her voice gave way to coughing. She blamed the smoke for her tears, too.
He wasn't coming. He was really gone. It had been eight months, and she finally had to believe it.
This time, she was going to die.
Checking out an arson ring in Suicide Slum couldn't have been considered safe, even if she'd brought along her new partner, Cletus, like Perry had told her to. If she got out of this, she was going to have to completely change her investigative reporting style. Of course, since she wasn't going to get out of this, it didn't really matter.
The smoke was too thick for her to see the outer wall give way, and the roar of the flames was too loud for her to hear it. She felt the thundering crash, though. The flames grew brighter still with the increased oxygen, and much of the smoke eddied away.
An inhumanly tall, broad-shouldered figure loomed up out of the hellish gloom, and Lois passed out in its arms.
Lois knew an underground lair when she regained consciousness in one. It was uncommonly damp and abandoned-looking to belong to Lex Luthor, but the green-and-purple LuthorCorp battle suit standing in the corner left no room for doubt. She supposed he must have just escaped from prison too recently for her to have heard about it before the firebugs caught her, and had to make do with whatever he could get.
It was weird that she wasn't at least tied up.
Lois got up and hefted a handy hunk of broken concrete. She cautiously crept closer to the flickering light that was the lair's only illumination. She stayed right up against the sewer-smelling concrete wall and tried to move silently.
Lois recognized the spitting, popping sound of an ordinarycampinglanternbefore she peered around the corner that finally let her see it on an upturned packing crate. Luthor sat nearby on the filthy floor, leaning against the wall. He had a bundle in his lap -- it looked like a bloodstained white suit-jacket, wrapped around something. His head was bowed, and his eyes were closed. The dim and flaring light made him look strange and unfamiliar, but it was Luthor all right. He was blocking her way out, but maybe if she was lucky….
Lois raised the concrete chunk and rushed at Luthor.
The baby in his lap started crying. Luthor jerked awake and looked at her. Lois froze.
What the hell?
"So," Lois said dubiously. "The reason you look different is because you're a different Lex Luthor?"
Luthor silently nodded. Haunted, that would be the word for him -- she wasn't sure if there was a U in it or not, but she knew that was the word.
"Why are you so young?" she blurted.
"I'm three years older than you," he said, sounding a little confused.
"Should be more like twenty-three," she scoffed. "Who's your friend?" she asked, gesturing at the baby.
"That's a long story. It's the reason I'm here."
Luthor laid the baby against his shoulder and rubbed its back. It wasn't crying anymore, but it wasn't exactly quiet either. "This is--" He stopped talking and swallowed nervously, then started again. "His name doesn't matter. It's… If… In my world, Superman is dead. Almost everyone is dead. There was an alien invasion. They were like big bugs. Very tough. Very numerous. Superman fought them, of course. By the time he died, there were a lot fewer than there had been, and I was geared up to fight." He stopped talking again and cuddled the baby, even though it seemed to have stopped fussing as far as Lois could tell. "By the time the fighting stopped, there wasn't much of an Earth left. I doubt that we really have a viable breeding population of humans anymore, but I'm… I'm going back. I need to see if there's anything I can do." His voice, his eyes -- bleak was the word. Was there an A in that, or two E's?
"Very sad, if true, Luthor. You still haven't explained the baby."
Lois fought hard to keep her jaw from dropping.
"Do you… You don't know anything about cross-dimensional travel, do you?"
"As far as I know, nobody does. Not even our Lex Luthor."
He sighed. "Yeah. Well. All over the multi-verse right now, Superman is gone from the Earth. In a lot of worlds, like mine, he's dead. A lot of the other worlds -- I look at them as best I can, running the numbers -- they're doomed. Well, probably. I don't see them lasting until this little guy grows up, even." He rubbed his cheek against the baby's head. Lois noticed how tired he looked. "You do, though. This world does. I don't know if Superman comes back and saves you, or if the bug invasion just never shows up, of if somebody or something else here stops them. This is his best chance, though. And I want him to have it."
"Where's his mom?" Lois wanted to ask Who rather than Where, but she was somehow a little afraid of what the answer would be.
Luthor looked up at the grimy concrete vaulting above them. "I can't really say. Dead, or… There was no one else alive when I found him, no living person anywhere nearby. I called out, and waited, -- almost too long." He met her eyes at last. "I want you to take him. Bring him up as your own. Take care of him. Please."
"You must be nuts!"
"The Lois Lane I knew would never back down from a challenge."
"I don't know anything about--"
"Ignorance never stopped her. Lack of experience never even slowed her down. She'd charge in half-cocked and pull it off every time." His eyes glittered in the lamplight. Were those tears?
"It's not exactly a ringing endorsement."
"It's meant to be. If anyone can do it, it's you. You're the only person anywhere who can take him, can take care of him."
Lois looked at the baby. He was so grubby, and so little. He certainly needed somebody.
"How do I know you're telling the truth?"
"I don't have any way to prove any of this. I wish I'd been able to prepare something, but I couldn't. I can't. You just have to believe me, or not."
Lois narrowed her eyes at him. He definitely wasn't telling the whole truth, but he was being a lot more honest than she was accustomed to from her world's Lex Luthor.
"How am I supposed to explain having a baby, all of a sudden?"
She didn't miss the immediate look of extreme relief on his face. "I have a device you can use, to make the people around you think that it's perfectly reasonable. Do you have a boyfriend, someone serious? Or I could tell you how to convincingly fake an adoption."
"Yeah. I do, actually, have a boyfriend. Someone serious." Perry's nephew, Richard, had wanted to marry her for a while. Superman, she'd finally realized in the fire, was really gone. To be honest, this world's Superman at least, was not somebody she'd ever had a real chance with. She should move on. It would be perfect. Really.
Luthor looked like he understood how she felt, and that was stranger than his whole strange story. "Okay, good. Here."
He handed her the baby, and she took him. He was warm and soft and needed a bath. His head fit perfectly against her shoulder.
Luthor dug around in his pocket and took out a small electrical device. "People so seldom really know what they think they know." He pointed out a black toggle switch on the device, which looked like a lot of duct tape and hot glue had gone into its manufacture. "Get your boyfriend to stay the night. Set this switch as soon as he arrives -- just before you let him into the apartment and introduce him to the baby would be best. Tomorrow, bring this apparatus and the baby to work; take him around and show him to everybody you know. Carry the device with you wherever you go for at least a week; sleep with it next to your bed. Visit your family if you can, or at least call them a few times, with the box next to the mouthpiece. His presence will become natural to people, and they will make up the most plausible explanation."
Lois took the box. "That's amazing."
"Thanks." He touched the baby's hair. "And thanks for taking him. I should go."
"Are you sure?"
He stood up and smiled at her sadly. "Yeah. Good luck, Lois. Good-bye, Kon." He turned his back on the light and walked resolutely back to the battle suit. Lois followed a few steps behind, and caught up to him as he was climbing into the armor.
"Good luck to you, too!" she called.
He didn't answer, just nodded. Those were definitely tears in his eyes. The battle suit, with Luthor in it, shimmered strangely in the air and disappeared.
Lois made the baby wave, as she'd seen women do at the playground. "Bye bye."
A/N: When the kids and I went to see Superman Returns, we all noticed how much Jason seemed like Kid!Lex from the Smallville pilot and flashbacks. They didn't actually show him throw the piano, so it could have been telekinesis like Kon-El used to have in the comics, and actually killing tattoo-head guy to save his Mommy is a very Kid!Lex thing to do. So I wrote this. :-)