He hurt, in a way he'd never hurt before. The pain was bone deep and aching when he held his breath; when he inhaled, liquid agony seared through his chest. His muscles kept cramping in his back, and when that happened it hurt so bad his vision would dim.
He hadn't meant to admit to Lois how much pain he was in, but after a few miles he'd had to land and they'd caught a taxi. He just couldn't carry her any farther -- he had to stop for fear he'd drop her, it was that painful and he was that weak.
He could feel her eyes now, staring at him from behind, silently. She scared him, or more precisely, he was scared for her. She was a mess -- hair a tangled snarl, unwashed, makeup running and unrepaired, and wearing clothes three days old that were still stained by seawater and his blood. Her eyes were wild, when he happened to meet her gaze. She had come home to find her life utterly gone.
Clark knew the feeling; there was near panic gnawing at his heart, though he reckoned he was better at handling terror than she was -- he'd been in far too many life or death situations before, and he knew the value of keeping a cool head and thinking.
But ... Jason was his child too. And he'd liked Richard; there was a pang of loss there, and a sense of failure for both Richard and towards the little boy he'd not really gotten a chance to know.
Well, even if he couldn't do a think for them now, at least he could do something for Lois -- he could, at least, take care of her. He said, "Lois, I've got some sweats in the dresser there. Why don't you take a shower while I work on this?"
"Don't leave without me if you find something," she said, sounding terrified that he would abandon her. Given his proclivity for leaving her behind, that was a reasonable fear, and he knew it. He winced.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said, softly, reassuringly.
She bit her lip for a second and then rummaged through his dresser drawer, found the promised sweats, and disappeared into the bathroom of his rather small apartment. He stood up, collected her clothes, and super-sped out the door and down to stairs the laundry room in the basement, where he threw everything into a washing machine. He was painfully out of breath when he returned, and glad that no one had seen him.
Back to searching ... he'd already found a good deal of dirt on Lex in old newspaper articles. The inheritance wasn't a surprise; the man was a charming snake. Lois Lane's name on a crisply outraged article about the incident wasn't a shock either.
He didn't expect that Lex Luthor had bought property in his own name, but he had an idea of what he was looking for. It would be large, it would have a deep basement, and it would be in an area where he could expect privacy. Given his plans for world domination via world annihilation, Clark expected that the property would be at an altitude significantly above sea level.
"Any luck?" Lois asked, padding back into the room five minutes later.
He glanced back at her, then winced. It hurt to turn his head; his back cramped painfully. Lois was wearing one of his athletic shirts -- it hung down past her thighs-- and nothing underneath, presumably. His x-ray vision wasn't working very well at the moment but his imagination was, despite the circumstances. She'd gone for the shirt over the sweats, perhaps sensibly, given their difference in size.
"Some," he said, telling his testosterone to take a vacation already -- this wasn't the time or the place. "I've been doing tax searches on county web sites for property purchased by any of Lex Luthor's known associates in places that are remote and above a few thousand feet of altitude. I've found a town home in Kitty's name in Gotham, but I think we can discount that because it would have been under water if Lex' plan had succeeded. Lex' lawyer is a known socialite, however ..."
"Amanda Ashington. Yes, I know."
"Any reason you can think of for Amanda Ashington to purchase a silver mine in the Rockies?" Clark asked, scooting his chair sideways so she could see the screens he'd pulled up. The motion made pain lance through his shoulder and he gritted his teeth until it faded; apparently oblivious to his agony, she simply studied the information he'd pulled up. One page was a tax record of a purchase in Amanda's name, and the second screen -- he toggled to it after she'd read the first -- was an article on the web site of a small-town paper in Colorado.
"Amanda's a city girl. It would be very out of character." Lois said, after a minute. "This says the silver mine's not worth all that much, but it made the news in the Hayseed, Colorado ..."
The town wasn't called Hayseed, but he was glad to hear some of Lois' snark back in her voice. She had hope again.
"... because the millionaire who bought it is being reclusive and mysterious and isn't hiring local labor to work on the home he's building there. The home is said to be large, with a heliport." Lois finished. "Superman, let's go. We've got to check it out."
"Lois, I can't fly there. Even by myself." It hurt him to admit that, but it was true. He was badly hurt; he'd never been hurt like this before in his life. There was still kryptonite shrapnel in him. But he wasn't about to give up and not even try to save his son.
"We have to check it out!" She said, voice strident and eyes gone huge and panicky again.
Clark didn't want to get the local cops involved; that might be suicide for the cops. Heavens only knew what weapons Lex was harboring. "We'll have to fly. By airplane."
Half an hour later they'd established that they couldn't get tickets for any flight closer than Phoenix that day; the closest flight they could get was two days away. Lois observed in annoyance, "By the time we deal with flying and driving from Phoenix, we could have drove straight through."
"So we drive," he said, with determination. He tried to ignore the fact that this might not even be Luther's hideout. It was the best clue they had. "We'll get there."