Continuing Tales

And Then There Was Light

A Lois & Clark Story
by Anti-Kryptonite

Part 12 of 23

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Talking to Superman had allayed the vague fear I hadn't even admitted to myself—the fear that Clark was right about the superhero. After seeing the sincerity in Superman's eyes, and hearing his answers—even if they were a bit evasive—to my questions, I was reassured that paranoia was the only explanation for Clark's unthinkable assertions. I had to admit that the kiss hadn't exactly hurt matters for Superman either, but that was really beside the point.

Anyway, I felt badly enough about sending Clark alone into the bedroom in the grip of a man he feared that I was ready to give him a bit of a peace offering. I ignored the tiny whisper in my mind that said I was trying to make up for the fact that I was pretty certain he had seen me kiss Superman—or Superman kiss me, rather. Whichever, it hadn't helped Clark's mood any.

Though he hadn't shown any signs of anger, his mute withdrawal had lasted all day, and even my teasing during dinner couldn't do more than draw a handful of responses from him and the slightest shadow of a smile he clearly forced for my sake. So, when he settled into bed for the night, I waited until he had pulled the blankets up around himself, then moved to sit at his side as I had the night before.

He didn't seem surprised, merely looked up at me and scooted over a bit to give me more room. The clouds had cleared up during the evening, so the moon shone clearly through the window and cast a spotlight across Clark's face. "I'm sorry I wasn't better company today, Lois," he offered before I could say anything.

I shrugged, not exactly eager to follow that topic. "We all have our off-days."

"Still friends?"

I froze, unable to decipher the emotions straining his voice. "Of course, Clark. You can't get rid of me that easily."

A flicker of something passed across his features, illuminated by the glow of the moon. Belatedly, I realized that my 'rejection' this morning had made it seem to him that he could get rid of me fairly easily. But I couldn't go there, not right now. Not ever. I was in love with Superman, after all.

I hated that I had to remind myself.

"Okay," I said, making it clear through my tone that I wasn't moving until he obliged me. "Time to exchange our secrets."

He looked away, gazing out the window, probably not incidentally hiding his expression. The shadow of the stubble he had never shaved seemed out of place on his jaw. "I…don't really have anymore, Lois."

"Well, I have one," I said, refusing to be deterred.

"Lois." Clark shifted uncomfortably, the blanket sliding off his shoulders and revealing that, beneath the t-shirt he wore, he had regained a bit of his muscle tone. He must have done a couple more push-ups than I had realized, I thought numbly. "You don't have to do this."

"I want to," I assured him, shaking off that weird feeling and meeting his eyes. Something in them—something deep and beautiful and extremely compelling—drew my hand toward him. It settled on his shoulder; I wasn't quite brave enough to bury my fingers in his hair as he had done to me while confiding a secret. Then, as if this were the reason I was touching him, I leaned close to whisper in his ear, now purposely mimicking his position when he had told me of Kryptonite.

"Here's my secret. When you kissed Toni Taylor…I was jealous." I pulled back to study his reaction.

On the one hand, I knew this could seem cruel, as if I were taunting him or leading him on. And yet…I couldn't forget the way he had flinched away from my physical withdrawal that morning. I couldn't forget the way he had turned his back on me. I couldn't forget the defeated tone in his voice. Maybe I was wrong, maybe I was being selfish or foolish, maybe I just wanted to do anything to keep him fixated on something besides Superman…whatever the reason, this was the secret I knew I had to tell him.

I just wasn't sure he would appreciate it. So I held my breath as I studied him.

Almost unconsciously, his hand rose to cover mine, still lying on his chest. Almost invisibly, the same gleam as from this morning shone through his glasses. Almost unbelievably, the hint of a smile was hiding in the corners of his mouth. "Well," he said slowly. "To be perfectly honest, I was pretty jealous of all the time you were spending with her brother."

I grinned, immeasurably relieved. "Well," I copied him again, still repeating his words back to him, just as I had ever since hearing his voice slice through the darkness of a cell. "To be perfectly honest, I served drinks once—once —to him, seven or eight of his lieutenants, and Toni. Not very intimate."

Clark hesitated. "I guess I do have a secret, Lois."

"What is it?" I was suddenly hyper-conscious of the warmth and weight of his hand atop mine—warming rather than stifling, comforting rather than suffocating. It was hard to focus past that and on his words. What was wrong with me? Superman had kissed me just hours earlier—why did that now seem so…unimportant?

"When I threw you in that dumpster…I kind of enjoyed it."

Unexpectedly, I started to laugh, but he wasn't done, his voice dropping a little lower and unfurling a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach.

"But when I sent you to the Sewage Reclamation Facility…I didn't enjoy that."

"Neither did I," I told him with a chuckle to disguise how off-balance I felt. "But I'm glad you did it, Clark. Both times."

"You are?" His brow furrowed. "Why?"

I moved my hand to stroke the hair from his forehead, more to dampen the feelings evoked by his touch than because I had miraculously become any braver. Unfortunately, touching his hair seemed addictive, and I found that I couldn't pull away. Clark's eyes, wide and filled with—awe?—never left me.

"Well," I said softly as I was enveloped by the same feelings of trust that I had felt in the cell. "Because the first time, it made me respect you as a journalist. It made me stop and see you. And the second time, because…well…" I laughed self-consciously. "You had been so perfect up till then. Always saying the right thing, doing the right thing, always knowing what to do and handling everything—me—so well. It was kind of nice to see you be a little…vindictive. It made you seem more human."

He stiffened. This time, I recognized the signs—the change in demeanor, the flash of nightmares in his eyes, the way he looked away—and I brought up my other hand to hold onto his shoulder and force him to look at me. "And you are human, Clark, no matter what Luthor may have told you," I said firmly. "In fact, I think you're the most human person I've ever met."

"And you're the bravest," he whispered, his finger stroking my cheek so lightly that I almost wondered if I imagined it. "You amaze me with all that you're willing to do."

"I don't always feel brave," I told him carefully. At that moment, in fact, I felt like a coward because what I really wanted to tell him was that I was sorry for hurting him that morning, even if only inadvertently.

"And I don't always feel human." His voice was so soft I was surprised that I caught the words, so sincere that I blinked.

"That's why they're secrets," I said quietly. "Only we can know. You and me against the world."

"Us against the world," he agreed, and this time I knew I didn't imagine the touch of his hand on my face. Hearing my words spoken back to me, I suddenly wondered if I wasn't feeding his paranoia, but…he seemed so much happier. So much more confident. And he was smiling again. Surely that was not a bad thing. It couldn't be. I wouldn't allow it to be.

"Good night, Clark," I told him, cheered for some reason I didn't choose to examine too closely. When I stood, his hands fell back to the blankets. My own, hanging at my sides, felt strangely empty and cold.

"Good night, Lois."

The short conversation didn't make the letter go away, but it did make it easier to sleep that night. It made me feel a bit better about the Superman exclusive we had sent to Perry. It made me a little more hopeful about Clark's chances of recovering from Luthor's brainwashing. It made the world seem like a better place.

It was a good thing I wasn't troubled by nightmares that night because Perry woke me with a phone call far too early the next morning. I was still half-asleep when I answered the phone, already hushing it even before I picked it up and put it to my ear.

"Shh!" I hissed. "Hello?"

"Lois, darlin', is that you?"

"Shh," I commanded again, blearily looking in the direction of Clark's cot. Sunrise had painted the window pink and orange and cast golden shadows across Clark's still form. "Clark's still asleep!"

"Oh?" A touch of surprised disbelief tinged Perry's voice, and he hesitated a moment before continuing. "Well, I'm sorry then. I didn't realize a bit of beauty sleep was more important than this little tip I just got from some dame callin' herself Long Legs Lulu. Should I call back at a more convenient time?"

"Long Legs Lulu?" I repeated in a hushed tone. "She called you with information? On Luthor?"

"Well, she says she has the word on the streets about who they think the Boss might be."

"The Boss?" I sat up excitedly, almost knocking the covers off completely in my haste. Worried and thinking I had seen him stir out of the corner of my eye, I glanced toward Clark; the light reflecting off his glasses made it impossible to tell whether he was awake or not. "She knows who the Boss is? Does she have proof?"

"She said it was worth your while."

My heart, already beating at a reasonable pace, sped up even more. "Really? She doesn't say things like that lightly. I've got to see her. Did she say where to meet?"

"An alley down in the Red Light district. Lantern and Days Blvd. But, Lois, you're not thinkin' of goin' down there, are you?"

"Of course I am," I whispered incredulously, already hunting for the sneakers I knew I had kicked under my bed a while ago. "This is why I had you ask them to be hunting up clues for me."

"It could be dangerous," Perry worried. "The Red Light district isn't the nicest place. What if—"

"I've got bodyguards following me around, and Superman's promised to keep an eye on me from the sky," I interrupted. "The only way I could possibly be safer is if the National Guard came along."

"I'd feel better if they did," Perry said, but I could tell I had won him over.

"Oh, Chief?" Once more, I looked toward Clark. He might have shifted positions slightly, but it was hard to tell with the blankets all bunched up around him. "Do…do you think you could come over for a while? I just…I don't know that Clark should be alone."

I bit my lip as I waited for his reply. It wasn't like we were anywhere near the lunch hour, and Perry hated leaving his newsroom for even that inconvenience.

"Uh…sure." Perry's acquiescence was a bit delayed but no less sincere for all that. "I can be over in about forty minutes, is that all right?"

"Perfect. I'll be gone before then, but…I'd just feel better if you checked in on him. I'll leave him a note explaining things."

"Okay. Well, then…you be careful, darlin', all right?"

I rolled my eyes, my tone fond. "I promise. Thanks, Chief."

The minute I hung up the phone, I had rolled to my feet and was tiptoeing to the closet to grab some jeans, a t-shirt, and a lightweight coat. Ten minutes after that, I was slipping out the door and locking it quietly behind me with a silent prayer that Clark remain asleep until Perry arrived.

I didn't see my bodyguards, though I assumed they were following me closely, probably calling Henderson to see if he could explain why I was out for an early morning drive to the bad side of town. The inspector would doubtless have another condemning speech ready for me when I got back home, I knew, but that didn't change the fact that I had to see this source. I was more than ready to put Luthor behind bars for what he had done to Clark and Superman.

As a precaution, I parked the Jeep a couple blocks down from Long Legs Lulu's office, then slowly jogged forward. The fairy-like snow from the day before had turned into a thin layer of mush, mud-colored and soggy, and the neighborhood wasn't exactly the kind in which one took an early morning run, but I tried to pretend that was precisely the reason for my presence.

There was no sign of the long-legged prostitute in the alley, so I slowed my pace, hoping she would show up before anyone else did. I wasn't exactly comfortable in the Red Light district, being in a profession very different from Lulu's, and I didn't want to attract any attention. The last thing I needed was a proposition before breakfast.

Though I had been doing this on my own for the past two months, I found myself wishing Clark were there beside me. It had always been…comforting…to have him along.

The sound of a low voice touched by a familiar accent caught my attention. Glancing around once, I flattened myself against the edge of the alley and crept forward in the direction of a garage that gaped open into the dark interior of a warehouse attached to one of the buildings. My eyes, adjusted to the sunlight, peered ineffectually through the darkness as I peeked around the corner of the opening.

"That's right, Mr. Bender. Mr. Luthor doesn't like complications, which is why he has need of your immediate services."

My insides twisted with excitement and the beginnings of fear when I recognized Nigel's smooth voice. Through the shadows, I could just make out that he was speaking into a cell phone, his back to the open door.

"Of course, Mr. Bender. I look forward to our meeting with pleasure." The click of the cell phone closing corresponded exactly to the prickling at the back of my neck that let me know I was not alone.

With exaggerated casualness, I turned around and found myself facing two men, both bulky though one was shorter than the other, both dressed in black, both looming over me. Both very familiar. They were the two thugs who had kidnapped me and thrown me into Clark's cell, I realized with widening eyes. The two men who had supposedly died in the ferocious fire that had turned that cell into crumbling brick and dark ashes.

"Good morning!" I chirped merrily as I edged sideways in an effort to sidle past them, my instincts coming to my rescue. I was feeling almost sick despite the fact that I knew Superman would come the instant I called for him. "Nice day for a run, huh?"

The two men closed in on me, any possibility of escape disappearing quickly. Suddenly, sticking around didn't seem like a very good idea.

Twisting my body to slide through the narrow opening between them, I darted forward, knocking one aside to make an avenue I could fit through. He stumbled slightly but used his momentum to lurch forward and wrap his arms around me from behind. I lashed out with a high kick that caught the thug in front of me in the chest, then planted my feet and rolled my body forward to throw my captor over my shoulder. Before either could recover, I started running toward the mouth of the alley.

Nigel stepped from the darkened garage just in front of me, that same pistol as before clenched in his hand and pointed straight toward my heart.

"That is getting really irritating," I told him with false bravado.

"I had a feeling you might decide to drop by," Nigel said with a smug smile twisting his lips. "How fortunate for us." Using his gun to gesture toward the garage's interior, he added, "We'd just like a word, Ms. Lane."

I had just opened my mouth to do what I should have done from the beginning and call for Superman when one of the thugs from behind hooked his arm around my neck and jerked backward. Black spots swam in front of my eyes as I futilely gasped for air, my hands scrabbling vainly at his arm.

"Bring her inside." Nigel glanced behind him and jerked his chin toward the taller man. "Make certain we're not disturbed."

Only when we had been enveloped by darkness did my captor allow tiny sips of air to be intermittently delivered to me. It wasn't nearly enough air to clear the spots from my vision, but I took what I could get and desperately tried to think of a way out this latest predicament.

"Now, Ms. Lane. You seem to have forgotten the agreement you made with Mr. Luthor."

I gaped at Nigel, muscles tense from holding myself as far away from my sweaty captor as possible. "What agreement?" I choked out through the stranglehold he had on me.

The Englishman's silvery eyebrows rose in assumed surprise. "Why, the agreement to write what he tells you to write. It's always such a disappointment to him when people back out of their agreements."

"I never made a deal with him," I said boldly. One more taste of air, I promised myself, and I would be able to shout for Superman. Even if he was busy on the other side of the world—which seemed likely since he hadn't yet stepped in—my more human bodyguards would be showing up any minute. I just had to hold on a moment or two longer.

Pain exploded with all the force of Independence Day firecrackers when Nigel unexpectedly rammed the butt of his gun into my stomach. I doubled over with harsh, racking coughs that made a thousand more fireworks dance through my nerves system. The thug let go of me, and another glancing blow, this time to the side of my head, wiped away any thought of calling for anyone as I fell to the concrete.

Nigel was saying something more, but I couldn't understand him, couldn't focus on the words to differentiate one word from another. Snatches of his voice wove through the haze of pain that enveloped me as surely as the garage's shadows did. Something about articles, and Luthor, and favorable appearances.

"Superman," I whispered, only aware that I was bleeding when the barely audible utterance of the superhero's name allowed salty liquid to dribble inside my mouth. The hot taste of it roused me from the agony encasing me in red-hot sparkles and black nausea.

"Please, Ms. Lane, don't embarrass yourself." Nigel leaned down over me, his face swimming before me even as his voice echoed strangely through the ringing in my ears. "You're a strong, intelligent woman—no need to cry for help. Just promise to write the articles Mr. Luthor wishes you to write."

"No." I clenched my hands into fists, bracing myself for the unfavorable response that reply was sure to elicit.

Instead of striking me again, Nigel merely shook his head. "Tsk, tsk. Mr. Luthor will be very disappointed. In fact, he might think it's time to visit a few of your friends. What did he offer you in exchange for your services?"

"No!" I said again, but this time, it was a terrified plea, not a mark of defiance. The man behind me hauled me abruptly to my feet, and if I hadn't recognized him before, the careless way he yanked me around would have reminded me of where I had last encountered him. My surroundings blurred around me and I felt so sick that I swallowed repeatedly to keep from vomiting right then and there. I couldn't give in to this—I had to be strong. I had to ignore the nausea roiling through me with all the force of a spring storm and keep myself focused on the immediate present.

With a dramatic gesture, Nigel threw a folder down on the ground at my feet. Photos slithered from between its pages and slowly coalesced within my consciousness to thrill me with anguished terror.

Perry and Jimmy walking down the street outside of the Daily Planet building. They were laughing, Perry's hand resting for a frozen instant on Jimmy's shoulder.

The Daily Planet building itself, its metal globe sparkling in winter sunlight.

My sister locking an apartment door behind her, her expression caught in an unguarded moment.

Clark. Walking beside me. His arm around my shoulders. His lips just beginning to curve upward in that wonderful smile. His eyes still sparkling with the light that Superman's appearance in the next moment had doused.

"Your partner enjoyed our hospitality once before," Nigel said conversationally. "I'm certain he could be persuaded to become our guest once more."

An inarticulate sound of distress tore itself free before I could catch it. I clenched my jaw tight, refusing to give into either my fear or the pain threatening to send my mind exploding in a hundred different directions. "Superman will stop you."

The corner of Nigel's mouth quirked upward. "Really? That's your defense—an alien will stop us?"

"Yes." I willed myself to believe that. Painted over the mental image of Clark writhing in agony as Luthor smiled gleefully with the image of Superman tearing the door from the wall and allowing splintered light to cut darkness into shreds. And I took a deep breath and shouted, "Superman, help! Superma—"

A hand clamped itself over my mouth from behind. Nigel stepped up close to me, the smile gone from his face, the gun hanging from one hand even as the other rose toward me. "Be quiet," he commanded, and his hand dug into the gunshot wound on my arm.

A half-scream was torn from my throat and dampened by the suffocating hand covering the bottom half of my face. For a moment, every thought I had scattered before the pain, whimpering mutely as each sought refuge from the overwhelming agony. Fiercely blinking away tears, I forced myself again to focus on the moment; I could give in to the pain later. Much later.

"Superman will not help you, you fool," Nigel told me in a cold voice, all hints of false congeniality wiped from his demeanor. "Your only hope—your partner's only hope—is to cooperate with Mr. Luthor."

Fear obliterated the awareness of pain as my eyes darted involuntarily toward the pictures of my life strewn at my feet like the flowers and gifts thrown before the feet of Superman's statue.

Clark was all alone at the apartment, I realized with growing, sickening dread. My bodyguards hadn't shown up—anything could have happened to them…and to his. He was defenseless, completely alone—and he would never call for Superman.

"Well?" Nigel demanded.

I couldn't let Clark be captured again. I couldn't bear it if I was once more responsible for him being caged in the darkness. Clark was meant for the light; he needed to see the sun, to bathe in it, to drink it in. He needed to be free. He needed to be able to smile. Luthor had already done so much damage to him—I couldn't allow him to hurt Clark any more.

I needed him in my life.

At an impatient nod from Nigel, the thug lifted his fingers from my mouth, allowing me a gasping breath of refreshing air. I took advantage of it while I had it, knowing that I had to do what Clark wouldn't. "Superman! Help!"

The thug let go of me when Nigel drew back and hit me in the stomach, and I crashed helplessly to the cold, hard ground. I wanted to call again for Superman—wanted to let him know by the urgent panic in my tone that Clark was in danger, that I was hurt, that we needed him—but the breath had been driven from my lungs, and for a long, panicked moment, I couldn't draw in air no matter how hard I fought.

Dimly, I was aware that the thug guarding the opening was calling something. Even more distant was the sound of the beeping warnings sounded by a delivery truck reversing. Nigel moved toward the guard, irritable words winging their way over my head.

This was it, I realized. The thug over me was distracted, Nigel was pointing his gun elsewhere—I wouldn't get another chance like this. I had to get to Clark, had to warn him, had to save him.

I shifted on the ground, resettling my weight, knowing it would attract the attention of my captor. When he turned toward me, I pulled my legs back and rammed them into his chest. Then, scrambling to my feet, cradling my left arm close to myself, I took off running. The front of the garage was guarded by Nigel and his remaining henchman, and even should I get past them, the alley was blocked off by a large white delivery truck backing down the alley, so I ran deeper into the shadows of the garage, frantically searching for a door into the connected building.

Shouts from behind motivated me to run faster; the pain in my arm, the agony thrumming through my head, and the burning ache in my stomach slowed me down. A loose board under my feet sent me tumbling headfirst to the ground. I tried to roll with the impact, but the move jostled my gunshot wound and I screamed.

A foot on my back stopped me from rising, and I froze when Nigel leaned closer to point the gun at my head. "Don't move, Ms. Lane."

Defeat filled my limbs with lead and my mind with fog.

The two thugs—my captor having risen to his feet—were near the opening of the garage, watching the truck make its slow way past. Nigel loomed over me, making escape impossible. "Most unfortunate—" he began.

Whatever else he might have had to say was cut off by the crash of the delivery truck veering against the side of the garage and bringing dust and rubble down on the two thugs. Nigel's foot pressed painfully down on me as a man, dressed in white coveralls, climbed from the passenger side of the truck.

My bodyguards, I thought abstractedly. It had to be them. Why else would a truck come out of nowhere to effect a rescue?

But where was Superman?

"Superman!" I called out, wincing as I broke into a fit of painful coughing.


Elation threatened to rob me of what little coherence I had retained. I focused past the pain to look all around me for the caped superhero I was sure had arrived…but there was only the deliveryman hurrying toward me, white cap pulled low and shading the glasses that could not conceal the panic written across his face.


"Clark!" I cried out. Instinctively, without thought, as if I had forgotten where I was, I tried to rise and flee to the safety of his embrace. Nigel's foot and the feel of the gun pressed against the back of my head pulled me up short.

"Ah. Mr. Luthor thought you might make an appearance." I couldn't see the Englishman's expression, but from the corner of my eye, I could see him reaching into his pocket with his free hand, pulling out a small box, and flipping its cover open. There was something about the box that seemed familiar, something that tugged at the edges of my fraying consciousness, but when I reached for the memory, it slipped away.

An appallingly loud noise echoed through the garage…and with a strained cry, Clark crumpled to the ground.

"Clark!" His name passed my lips with no conscious forethought. I was wholly unable to move, unable to think, unable—unwilling—to make the connection between the gun in Nigel's hand and the abrupt, terrifying way my partner had dropped as if his strings had been cut.

For a timeless moment, I was transported back to that moment in Smallville when Trask had pointed his weapon at Clark, when I had frozen in horror, when a gunshot had sounded like thunder.

My stillness must have convinced Nigel I was helpless, for he removed his foot from my back and took a step toward Clark.

Clark stirred.

The world crystallized around me, every detail painfully sharp, each instant crisply realized, my pain submerged beneath the awareness of everything around me.

Clark was alive.

Nigel was moving toward him, that box—the one with which Luthor had menaced Clark in the cell, I realized with my newfound clarity—opened and held ready in his hand.

One of the thugs was rising from the debris at the opening of the garage.

"No," I whispered, then yelled, "Stop! Leave him alone!"

I reached out with groping hands in an attempt to stop Nigel from moving nearer Clark, but the Englishman shook me off impatiently, a sneer on his face as he turned and kicked back at me. Fire erupted in my left arm when his foot knocked against the gunshot wound. A whimper slipped from my throat.


Ripped from the overwhelming pain by the sound of Clark crying my name, I looked up, that crystalline clarity still bringing the world around me into sharp focus.

Pain twisted Clark's expression—pain…and grim determination. He forced himself up onto his hands and knees, moving slowly toward me, twisting so that he would be between me and Nigel. "Don't touch her," he ordered, an astonishing note of command infusing his voice with strength that overshadowed the pain giving it a ragged edge.

A chuckle, cold and mirthless, escaped Nigel. He slipped the gun into his pocket and raised that small box threateningly. "I believe you've forgotten something."

A flicker of fear washed across Clark's features yet quickly gave way to that stern resolve. He tried to stand, stumbled, fell to his knees, tried again. Agony played itself out on his face, but still he tried to force himself to his feet. I couldn't see the blood on him, couldn't tell where he had been shot, but the sound of the gunshot still echoed through the contours of my mind.

When Nigel took a step nearer Clark, my partner groaned and fell to the ground.

Terror and my own brand of determination eclipsed everything else.

Filled with a strength I had never realized I possessed, I crawled forward and grabbed Nigel's ankle, then yanked savagely backward while chopping at the back of his knee with a flattened hand. The Englishman toppled to the ground with a yell that cut off disturbingly fast when his head hit the concrete. The tiny box tumbled out of his hand and rolled nearer Clark.

With a small exclamation, Clark curled in on himself, his face so pale I immediately looked again for any sign of the blood I knew he had to be losing.

"Clark!" Ignoring Nigel, I scrambled forward to kneel at Clark's side. I almost broke down into tears when I touched him, the instant so reminiscent of that moment in the cell when I had first set hands to him and felt him flinch in pain.


The shout was totally unexpected and viciously loud within the vast closeness of the building. The rapid tempo of approaching footsteps was followed by the appearance of one of the thugs. I instinctively covered Clark's body with my own, flinching away from the thug, but he showed no interest in me. Instead, he knelt beside Nigel, scooped up and closed the small box, threw a frantic look over his shoulder at the sound of more footsteps and another shout, and took off running toward the back of the building. An instant later, the sound of a slammed door joined the rest of the fading echoes crowding around us.

I glanced toward the second set of footsteps and saw a man—dressed in white coveralls identical to Clark's—approaching with a worried expression. Dismissing him as a threat, I looked back down at Clark. He seemed to have relaxed a bit, but he was still curled in around himself. His cap had fallen to the ground and his glasses had been pushed askew, giving him a disheveled, abandoned look.

"Clark? Clark!" I gave him a tiny shake before realizing that might just be hurting him. I gentled my touch, running my fingers down along his cheek, his neck, his shoulder, his arm, knowing it wasn't helping, unable to stop. "How bad is it? Where were you hit?" I looked toward the stranger. "A doctor! Call 911!"

Straightening a bit, Clark finally met my gaze, his expression smoothing out, the pain fading, the fear disappearing, that strangely familiar sternness melting away to be replaced by soft tenderness and quiet hope. "No! I wasn't shot, Lois. I'm fine."

I gaped at him, my mind literally incapable of comprehending the words. "But…I—I heard the…the gunshot. You fell."

"There was no gunshot. It was just Harv" —he nodded toward the man standing over Nigel as if to guard him— "closing his door. The echoes…" He trailed off when I pushed on his shoulder, rolling him over so that I could see his chest. Unsatisfied, still feeling that at any moment blood would start seeping from a wound he didn't yet realize he had, I tore open his coveralls and stared disbelievingly at the t-shirt beneath.

There was no blood. No wound. No holes. Needing to convince myself, I ran my hands over his chest again and again before finally realizing that he had not been shot.

He was safe.

He was unharmed.

He was alive.

Letting out a tiny murmur—no words, just an unintelligible exclamation of vast relief—I bent over him, my forehead resting on his shoulder. His hand came up to stroke my hair, his other hand resting lightly on my shoulder.

"You're okay," I whispered—to him and to myself. "You're okay."

And only then, with his hand caressing my hair, did I finally believe. And only then did the world recede and the shadows disappear in a blaze of light.

And Then There Was Light

A Lois & Clark Story
by Anti-Kryptonite

Part 12 of 23

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