Note: This is a year or so old, and has been seen (by an audience of several) elsewhere on the interwebs... but I never got around to posting it here. Enjoy. :)
Having a child means that the son has, in a real sense, become his father.
Sons are for fathers the twice-told tale.
- Victoria Secunda
"We had a little p-problem downstairs," Grant said, out of breath.
The stammered words snapped Lex Luthor's attention from the glorious near future to the present. Lane, he thought. Consistently annoying in so many different ways. Perhaps he'd throw her off a brand-new cliff when this business was concluded, or just leave her to drown; either worked fine for him.
"Brutus is dead."
Now, that was impressive, but sounded a little out-of-character for Lois Lane, ace reporter. Lex waited for Grant to get on with it.
"He got - hit with the piano."
His earlier suspicions swiftly crystalized - no pun intended - into hard certainty. Lex recalled, very clearly, asking Who is this boy's father? and receiving a firm Richard in answer. So much for an honest media. "Where's the boy?"
"With the mother, locked up in the pantry," Grant said, sounding overwhelmed.
Certainty became alarm. Lex ran the calculations in his head - flight speed and distance and the probability of a very, very pissed-off alien in his immediate vicinity.
The plan was fully in motion; no one, human or Kryptonian, could stop it now. But all the same...
"Oh, it's time for us to go," Lex said.
He left the bridge, directing two of his remaining associates to get Kitty and the helicopter. He took Stanford with him, however, to retrieve the important accessories, starting with the crystals in the library. Those crystals were an investment, after all. Well worth the delayed departure.
"Holy shit," Stanford said, seeing the smashed piano and Brutus's feet sticking out - rather like the Wicked Witch in combat boots. Stanford looked shocked and slightly queasy.
Lex agreed with Stanford's assessment, but said nothing. Instead he stepped around the debris and rolled up the black velvet, crystals chiming musically. He stuck the bundle into a sufficiently deep pocket, collected his still-stunned henchman, and went to get the next item on his packing list.
You could never have enough insurance.
Lane and the boy shied away from the door as Stanford opened it, gun drawn. Lex nodded at Stanford, who strode forward and grabbed Lane, pulling the boy away from her and shoving him towards Lex. Apparently unintimidated by the gun, Lane put up a fight even after Stanford caught her across the head with his fist.
The kid struggled too, but Lex put a stop to that simply by laying his shard of kryptonite at the boy's throat. He gasped and started wheezing. Lane froze.
"I think we all know, Ms. Lane," Lex said calmly, "that this -" he pressed a little harder with the green crystal - "will hurt him much, much more than it hurts me."
The boy's wheezing intensified. Lex briefly glanced down; where the rock touched skin, an angry red rash was appearing.
Lois Lane gave him a look of absolute murderous fury, but said with credible equanimity, "It'll be okay, Jason, sweetheart. Superman is coming right now."
"Be sure to tell him hello," Lex said, smiling at her.
On that excellent parting shot, he ushered Jason out of the pantry. Stanford secured the hatch again, and they were off.
Lane left behind to slow down Big Blue, the boy to hold in reserve, an unstoppable scheme - oh yes, this was very nice. Revenge and victory all at once. Trillion-dollar lemonade out of alien lemons.
Damned if he wasn't enjoying himself.
Superman carefully set the Daily Planet globe down. That was it; that was the last thing, by his judgment, that the Metropolis authorities couldn't handle on their own. He flew upwards and turned his focus, once again, out to the sea, out the far horizon, out to the source of all the trouble and danger.
He thought he knew, now, what had happened to the missing crystals. And Lois.
"Anger" did not even begin to describe it.
Lois had run out of kitchen utensils.
Broken handles littered the floor of the pantry where they'd fallen, snapped off trying to get the goddamned door open. She had nothing left to work with, and the door was barely scratched.
This is not happening, she thought, sinking to the floor, out of breath and swiping at tears. But of course it was.
Jason was gone. Lex Luthor had her baby, and who could say what he'd do, knowing... what he knew.
There was a thunk and then the door opened, and she scrambled up, throwing her arms around Richard and holding on hard. He returned the embrace, then stepped back.
Lois was relieved and - paradoxically - twice as terrified as before. "How did you get here?"
"I flew," he said, as thought that should've been obvious. "Where's Jason?"
"They took him," she said. Her voice wobbled and she felt a little dizzy; somehow discussing it made it worse. Suck it up, Lois. "Lex - it's Lex Luthor - he took Jason with him - are they still on the boat?"
Richard looked just as horrified as she felt. "Jesus. No - Look, it's okay. We'll take the plane - they were in a helicopter? We'll find them, we'll get Jason."
"Okay," she said. "Okay."
It was exactly what she needed to hear, and it became impossible a heartbeat later when the Gertrude shuddered, splintered, and began to rise to its doom.
"Lex, why do I have to hold him?" Kitty Kowalski asked, putting just a touch of whine into it. Lex usually gave into her when she whined.
But this time, he just gave her a cold look, then returned his attention to the helicopter's window. Kitty didn't know what was so fascinating out there; it was the same damn view that'd been available for the last several minutes. Just rain and ocean and rocks.
Rocks that would grow up to kill billions of people.
She was trying not to think about it.
Meanwhile, Riley and Grant were sitting there, smirking, and she had a little kid on her lap. The reporter's kid. He was a lot heavier than her dog - who was curled up at her feet, feeling rejected, poor thing.
And the kid was crying. Kitty really hated crying kids, but she didn't know how to make him stop short of hitting him, and she knew Lex didn't want that. He wanted a safely-kept hostage, God only knew why.
"Shhh," she said to the kid, and when that didn't work, she decided to ignore him.
Richard White swallowed salt water involuntarily and gagged on it, then tried to spit it back out, with mixed success.
"Give me your hand," Superman said.
Richard had to let go of the doorframe to do it, and for a second his head went under the water that was flooding the pantry, that was flooding the whole damn stern. He kicked and rose up just as Superman's hand gripped his and held him effortlessly in place.
"Have you got her?"
Richard shifted Lois's unconscious weight and clung to her more tightly. "Yeah."
He thanked God fervently that Jason wasn't here - that he hadn't been forced to face the prospect of almost drowning with the two people he loved most of all. He didn't think he was strong enough for that.
Instead of lifting them free of the wrecked ship, Superman simply let the vessel fall. It splashed down with a thump and a whoosh that sent spray up to their height.
Richard didn't start actively hoping until Superman set him down on the float of the seaplane and he could see move Lois and see properly for the first time; she was clearly alive and breathing steadily, and that was an unbelievable relief. He laid her down in the rear of the plane and looked over his shoulder to see Superman staring at her intently.
Richard felt an instant twist of bright hot jealousy. Then Superman blinked, looked at Richard and said reassuringly, "She'll be fine," and Richard realized he'd been using his x-ray vision.
Still felt jealous, though.
"They took Jason," Richard said, because that was lightyears more important than his jealousy. "Lois said it was Luthor - I don't know where they went."
Superman's face darkened. "I'll find Jason," he said. "You should get Lois back to Metropolis."
Richard nodded, mostly agreeing. He was frustrated as hell about that, even he knew there wasn't much he could do for his son - as bitter a realization as that was. But - "I can't take off in this this."
"I'll point you in the right direction," Superman said.
"Thank you," Richard said - for saving himself and Lois, for the promise of saving Jason - and he meant it.
Superman lifted the seaplane and gave it a little push as he let go, sending it off towards Metropolis and relative safety. That was Lois out of danger, at least. Now he just had to save her son and stop Luthor before the madman destroyed half the planet.
He would rescue Jason first, take him to his parents. Then he'd return and deal with Lex Luthor. If for some reason he couldn't retrieve the crystals, there was only one way to stop what Luthor had started, and it wasn't a chore he was looking forward to.
He turned and studied, for a moment, the horizon under the boiling sky and the dark landmass heaving out of the sea. It was growing. Filling the ocean with spires that looked only too familiar.
He flew straight towards the new island's center. In among the lifting plateaus of black basaltic rock he felt, even more keenly, the raw sense of violation that had clung to the ransacked Fortress.
Despite what his ma had told him days ago, he knew he was the last son of Krypton. If he had to be alone... The crystals were a legacy. They were his history. He had nothing left of his parents, his home, and his people aside from those gifts, and he wanted them back.
Superman landed hard enough to fracture the rock.
"He does know how to make an entrance," Lex said to no one in particular, watching Superman touch down with a resounding crack and boom. "Keep the boy close," he told Kitty, who nodded uncertainly. That damn dog was yipping around her feet; he was definitely going to toss it over a cliff before this was through.
Lex went to the entrance and called out, "See anything familiar?"
The words echoed, nicely punctuated by lightning and sharp bursts of thunder.
Superman looked furious. Lex wasn't concerned; they were playing on his turf now, and he had all the advantages.
"I see an old man's sick joke," Superman said.
Oh, he was angry. Lex's enjoyment went up another notch. "Really?" he asked lightly. "Because I see my new apartment... and a place for Kitty, one for my friends... and that place over there, I'll rent out."
Superman kept walking closer as he talked - circling in like a shark, Lex thought, although this particular shark had no idea that he was was slipping further down the food chain with every passing second.
"But you know, maybe you're right," Lex said as Superman climbed the steps. "You know, maybe it is a little cold. It's, ah - what's the word I'm searching for? It's a little... alien."
Superman closed the last few yards.
This was the moment. Five years waiting for this chance, to be face-to-face, to be in absolute control. Heady. A lesser man might have been intimidated by such a confluence of destiny - or, for that matter, by the steely blue gaze being turned on him.
Lex finished with cool, perfect precision: "It lacks that human touch."
"Let Jason go," Superman said, looking over Lex's shoulder, no doubt at Kitty and the boy. He sounded so gosh-darn heroic. So red, white, and blue. As if he would run off and leap a tall building at any moment.
But Lex could see him sweating.
"No..." Lex said thoughtfully, letting it trail off, giving Superman a last few moments to realize that something in this brave new world was decidedly wrong. Then he hauled back and punched him, and the alien went tumbling down the steps.