There’s an earthquake in China. A terrorist bombing in Turkey. Banks are being robbed and elderly people are being mugged and there are children starving and kittens stuck in trees and –
And I’m racing to Smallville to save one man.
The only man that matters. To me, at least.
The rest of the world hates him. And a lot of that is my fault. They take the side of their savior.
But what kind of savior does this make me?
How can I save myself if I can’t save him?
It’s night, and the timing is perfect, because most of Smallville is asleep. I stop first at the transformer station and rip apart the circuits, sending the town into darkness. The mansion has a generator, but it only left minimal lighting, saving the main power for security purposes. And right now, I could give a damn about video tapes and surveillance. If they want to see me coming, they’re about to have quite the show.
Reaching the mansion, I waste no time in bursting through the main door, still in the air, flying through the hall. “Lex?!” I call out, my gaze scanning through the walls and floors around me.
I set to my feet on the ground as I glimpse skeletons moving toward me from each side. Joker’s henchmen burst out from the doors, littering the hall with bullets from automatic weapons. One is even carrying a flamer thrower. I glare at them as they continue their worthless attack.
Moving through the rain of fire to the right, I sweep my arm across the front man, knocking him back into the others, sending them sprawling back into the room. Behind me, I feel the others move up, flames from the thrower catching on to the frame of the door. Angrily I spin around and catch hold of the tip of the flame thrower, twisting it up and back. The clown holding it screeches as the flames start to hit him and instantly drops the weapon.
“You’re setting fire to a place I dearly love,” I tell him before tossing the weapon aside.
He throws himself to the ground in an attempt to put out the flames. I ignore him and move to the others.
One by one, I toss them to the side like rag dolls. I hear the snapping of bones and the cries of pain and I don’t really give a damn at the moment. They aren’t dead. And they were sent here to delay me and that angers me more than anything. This entire fight is pointless. They aren’t even trying.
Moving away from the mess in the hall, I continue through the mansion.
“Joker!” I call out. “I know you’re not working alone! I know who the man behind the curtain is. Leave now, and you might live long enough to see the inside of Arkham again!”
“Oh, but where would be the fun in that?” A voice chimes in from around me.
I stop and glance around at the ceiling, noting the speakers set throughout the house.
“Then I would miss the final act, the touching reconciliation, the lovers reunited… only to die tragically at the cruel hands of Fate!”
“If anyone is dying today, Joker, it’s going to be you – at my hands!”
He laughs. “How dramatic! How determined! How droll! Let’s get one thing straight, Superbitch – I’m not the one who’s afraid here. You are.”
I stop, nostrils flaring in my anger. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I am afraid. But it’s not because of him. I’m afraid for Lex. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid of not doing the right thing, of not loving a man half as much as he is deserving of. I’ve failed both Lex and myself so many times – I failed the relationship we shared long ago. If I have to sacrifice everything I am just to show him how sorry I am, then so be it.
In this, I cannot fail.
“Show yourself, dammit!” I demand.
The sound of a click causes me to look up, just in time for a hatch in the ceiling to open and a net falls out, trapping me beneath it. I struggle with the confining threads, cursing under my breath at the futility of this nonsense. Did Lionel plan all of this? Or the Joker? What is happening to Lex while I deal with these idiots?
Shrugging from beneath the netting, I hear music filtering through the hall. Old timey music – the kind of stuff they played in theater houses in the early 1900’s. Glancing up, I see images begin to appear on the wall in front of me.
It’s a montage of the past few days since his kidnapping. Unconscious in the limousine. The loss of his thumb. Waking up in one of the bathrooms of the mansion, obviously disoriented. I cry out as I watch him realize the truth, when I watch him curl in on himself in agony on the bathroom floor. And then there is scene after scene of Lex running through the mansion, searching for escape, being blocked at every possible exit by the Joker’s goons, until he is finally found by the Joker himself.
I turn away from the images, my anger growing. Quickly I scan the wall behind me, searching for the source of the video feed. Finding it, I begin following it along the wall, through the interior workings of the castle. There, in the basement. A layer I can’t see behind. Is Lex there with him?
I speed my way to the room, ripping the door off the hinges and barely throwing myself out of the way as a hail of bullets flies through the opening. I glance back as they hit the far wall and drop to the floor, glittering green. How much more Kryptonite is hidden throughout this place?
Jumping to my feet, I stalk into the room where Joker is standing, glaring at the weapon in his hands, mumbling about how it was supposed to have worked. Looking up, he watches me for a moment before declaring in a mocking, sing-song voice, “Here she comes to save the day!!”
Being compared to a mouse is really enough to piss a person off.
Without hesitation, I grab Joker by the throat and lift him up off the ground, holding him above me. All I can see are the images of Lex in pain, frightened, alone, struggling so hard to survive.
The man in my grasp cackles wildly.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t rip your throat out?” I growl.
He seems to ponder that question, not really struggling, just dangling there in my hand. “Ummm… Superwoman doesn’t kill any living creature?”
“Not good enough,” I respond, launching him across the room.
He hits the wall and slides to the floor, laughing still as he begins to climb to his feet. “Where’s the Bat? Shouldn’t he be joining our little party?”
“I took him out of the equation.”
The Joker suddenly appears a little fearful with my words. His laughter stops and he stares at me as I advance on him again. He actually sticks out his lower lip in a pout. “Well, now you really have ruined my fun.”
Reaching out, I snatch his right hand into mine, closing my grip around his thumb. With a quick flick of my wrist, I hear the bones snap. The Joker cries out.
“What’d you do that for?” He whimpers. “You’re such a good girl!”
“Even good girls have their breaking points,” I respond, moving my grip to his index finger, squeezing. “Isn’t that what you like to teach people, Joker? That everyone has their breaking point? That anyone, at any time, can suddenly go insane?
“Well, I’ve reached my breaking point. Aren’t you pleased?”
I smash the finger I’m holding in my grip, watching blankly as he crumbles to the ground, arm still up in the air where I’m holding it. He cries like a child, but then laughs again, seeming to enjoy the pain he’s suffering. Letting go, I kick him away from me, hearing more bones snap in his rib cage.
More laughter bubbles up, he’s gasping and rolls over onto his stomach, holding me with his gaze. “You know the most amusing part of all of this? The lovers are still doomed. You can’t save him. He can’t save you. It’s written in the stars. True love doesn’t conquer all. And evil always wins.”
I’m moving toward him, ready to fry him into a speck of dust on the floor at my feet, when his words stop me.
Evil has always won. And that’s the most frightening lesson of my life.
As much as Lex and I have struggled through the years, there’s always been something to keep us apart. We’ve fought; and it’s fought back. Now, as if history is repeating itself, evil is triumphing once more. If I kill Joker, he wins. The Joker doesn’t want this life that’s been giving to him – Batman has taught me that. He wants to show others what it’s like to go mad, and then die knowing he’s won.
And the same goes for Lionel. If I kill him, Lex will never forgive me. No matter what the man has done to him, no matter how many people he has caused to suffer needlessly, he is still Lex’s father, and there are some lines you just can’t cross. Even in love.
I can rescue Lex. I can get him to safety. But the evil will return. With Lionel still alive, there is no stopping it.
There is only one option available. I have to prove to Lex how much I love him, make him understand, no matter what it takes or what sacrifice I have to make. It’s the only way that we can win. To let him know I’m not afraid anymore.
Crouching down beside Joker, who suddenly shrinks back from me in fear, I grab his chin and tell him quietly, “You haven’t won, Joker. You’ve merely showed your hand.”
Slamming his head into the wall, knocking him unconscious, I stand and hurry out of the room.
I speed through the rest of the mansion, scanning the walls around me, but finding nothing as I go. Growing frustrated, I begin calling out for Lex, hoping that he can hear me. Something is wrong. Have they hidden him from me behind lead?
It’s the only explanation I can think of. “Lex!” I yell out, spinning around frantically. I head back down the stairs, toward the second floor and the study. “Lex!”
And then I hear it. His voice!
The study. Lionel always was about the drama. I don’t understand why they would go through this kind of trouble. Certainly Lionel knew I would find him? Of course, he did. Lionel doesn’t want his son dead. He just wants to teach him a lesson. A lesson about my failure? That even I haven’t been here for him when he needed me most?
I speed into the room, splintering the doors as I move through them, and there is the box. Absurdly tiny. Made of lead. Slipping my fingers beneath the edge, I toss it into the air, ignoring it as it sails away, crashing into furniture on the other side of the room. It doesn’t matter. Lex is here and he’s alive! In pain, but alive. And that’s all that matters. Right?
“Oh, baby!” I wrap my arms around him and pull him close, burying my face against his neck. He’s sweating, or I’m crying, because I can feel the wetness on my cheeks, and I know I can’t be crying because heroes don’t cry. “I was so afraid that I’d lost you…”
“Dammit, Hudson,” Lex barks weakly. I can feel how tired he is, how beaten. “I told you not to come.”
“When have I ever listened to you?” I can’t help but smile. My first in days. “Did you really think I would leave you here?”
“If you had a lick of sense in you, you would have!”
God, I love him!
I pull back and touch his face. He’s so pale and so beautiful. Why didn’t I take care of him like I should have? Why did I hurt him? It seems as if I was put on this planet to cause him pain, and god, he deserves so much more.
“God, I love you,” I whisper, barely realizing I spoke the thought aloud.
The smell of infection draws my gaze to his hand. The bandages are horribly discolored. “I need to get you to the hospital.”
Words of regret, words of truth, can wait until he’s better.
And just as I gather him into my arms, I hear it. The sound of gears grinding, a mechanical whir, and the floor beneath us begins to move. I prepare to superspeed out of there but the green glow already begins to light up the room.
Like a rat to the cheese.
Glancing in panic to the wood flooring beneath me, I try to peer through but realize it is lead, too. Thin lead covered with wood paneling. I cry out as the pain tears through me and my strength fails me as Lex tumbles to the ground and I collapse to the moving floor. Ahead, the Kryptonite panels of flooring are glimmering as each piece is exposed. I try to crawl away, to stay on the floor that I is moving beneath me, to get to the hall, but it all happens too quickly. The lead floor carries me to the wall, which I slam into as it disappears beneath it, and I’m left laying on a flat sheet of pure Kryptonite.
Lex is in a daze. He looks around for a moment, as if confused, before finally making his way toward me. I can barely make him out. The pain is so bad I can’t think. It’s as if my body is shutting down. But I have to tell him. I have to warn him.
“Hudson – “
“Lex,” I gasp, cutting him off. “Your f-father – “
Laughter. Familiar laughter from the past.
“What an amazing discovery, don’t you think, Lex?” Lionel drawls as he enters the room.
He looks younger than I remember, younger than even the days I knew him in Smallville. But still Lionel. Every inch of him is Lionel Luthor.
“I swear we need to bottle this stuff and sell it in every store around the world!” He smiles down at me smugly. “Enjoying your reunion, my dear? You certainly made a mess of the Joker. I’m going to have to thank you for that. His…treatment of my son wasn’t in the plan.”
Either it’s the pain or a break in my subconscious, but I can clearly hear Batman telling me: I told you so.
I’ve failed again.
Feedback may save the lovers...