Not every stroll was a clandestine meeting of the Resistance, not every day part of an over-all plot. Lois and the rest of the humans also went walking for exercise, and just for a change of scenery. Sometimes she even went out of habit, because she’d grown accustomed to taking long walks several times a day.
This was one of those out-of-habit walks. Lois expected nothing out of the ordinary, just a simple stroll through the gardens. But she felt a tension in the air that was unusual for New Krypton. Considering how much as these people despised emotional extremes, any public gathering of Kryptonians tended to be highly civil and formal. To Lois even casual meetings often felt like state functions, there was so much decorum floating around. But not today.
Today everyone she saw seemed preoccupied and anxious—and she didn’t see many, even taking into account the fact that Kryptonian weren’t an outdoorsy people by nature. A little shiver ran down her spine. Something wasn’t right here. It unsettled her enough that she cut her walk short with an anxious little frown, heading homeward with a feeling like a storm was about to break.
Almost back to Kal-El’s house, and Henri caught up to her. The first words out of his mouth confirmed what she already felt in her gut. “Lois, you have to get home immediately,” he whispered urgently.
“Already going,” she replied, searching his face for clues. The shiver grew worse. This couldn’t be good. “What’s going down?”
Henri glanced both ways, but no one saw them. He pulled her close in what surely looked like a worried hug, Lois’ fear growing, and murmured, “The operation was supposed to be tomorrow night. But when our people got there to check it over, the salinity was already skewed. Someone else sabotaged the construction before we could.” With that, he stepped back and took hold of her shoulders. “Take care, Lois.”
There wasn’t time to be visibly stunned. Oh God, no wonder everyone’s freaking out. Oh God. Making herself form some semblance of a smile, determined to not give them away any further, she braced herself . “Take care, Henri,” she replied as they parted. Her mind running a million miles a second, Lois made herself lock down feelings before she made herself continue on her path. No one could suspect. She didn’t—couldn’t—break into a run, but Lois hurried, trying to keep the guilty knowledge off her face. If the military construction was compromised, the humans would be the first suspects, and none of them were prepared. Rarely had she given herself the luxury of being scared on this planet. At this moment, she was terrified.
She had made it to Kal-El’s house, her entire being focused solely on getting there without giving her emotional state away, and was actually on the doorstep when she heard the low hum of a vehicle overhead. Dreading what she might see, Lois looked up, and saw that the hovercraft was painted flat black—and only the military police, the damn Consulars, used that color scheme. She felt herself start to shake then. This is it. Busted. It’s over. We’re screwed.
But even as the craft banked to hover above her, the door opened and Kal-El stepped out, looking up curiously. “Remain indoors,” a gruff voice announced.
“We were just going for a walk,” Kal-El started to say, his public word choice formal as always.
Whoever was on the craft interrupted him. “Remain indoors. Supervise the human closely. The Supreme Chancellor will make an announcement within the hour.” On that note, they left.
Lois breathed a sigh of relief as she and Kal-El went indoors. They must’ve thought she was just stepping out, not just walking in, or they would’ve questioned her for sure. And she had no idea what she would’ve said to them.
Kal-El had lied for her. She wasn’t sure what to make of that. Lois knew there was something between them—well, all the kissing and snuggling was a hint there, especially with his background—but she hadn’t thought he would lie to cops for her so readily. He seemed like one of those innately law-abiding individuals. It didn’t seem to make him very comfortable to do it, either.
She didn’t get time to process anything that had just happened, though, because Kal-El took hold of her elbow gently, catching her attention. “Lois? Do you have any idea what’s going on?” he asked, falling back into their usual pattern of speech.
The answer was immediate and a part of her hated herself for it. “Not a clue. I was just out for a walk and that happened,” she told him. It was the truth, really, in a way.
“There was a broadcast announcement a few minutes ago, telling everyone to go home and wait for further news.” Kal-El was fretting, clearly worried. He stroked her shoulder as if trying to comfort both of them.
That left her feeling a cramp of guilt in her belly, her emotions getting jumbled up again now that she was here with him. There were times, and this was one of them, when Lois wanted to just tell him. About the Resistance, about her involvement in it, about the ultimate plan to get back home. Maybe she could get him to understand and maybe she could stop feeling like the worst kind of liar. But she found herself biting her tongue, as always, and telling him only what was safe to share. “No one was really outside anyway, and they all looked nervous.”
“Were you seen before you got home?”
The anxiety she heard in his voice didn’t nothing to help assuage any of her shame. Trying not to bite her lip, Lois shook her head. “The Consulars didn’t turn up until I was at the door. Thank you for that, by the way. Quick thinking.”
“Something’s got them upset. I didn’t want them taking you off for questioning. It’s not as if you could’ve had anything to do with whatever happened, anyway.”
Oh, that was a knife to the heart. Lois couldn’t help feeling like she was betraying him. Actually I kind of have a lot to do with something that would really piss them all off. But I promise I wasn’t in on the sabotage. First off, some of your people did that before we could. Second, the Resistance doesn’t want to jeopardize my relationship with you. Yeah, that would make him flip his lid for sure.
Before she could even begin to think of something to say, Kal-El swept her into his arms and kissed her hair. Lois responded automatically, wrapping her arms around her neck and leaning into him. Giving and taking comfort, even if she had secrets from him, she still trusted him and hoped against hope that he could trust her even now.
Fear did strange things to people; Lois had learned that long ago. That was why it didn’t really surprise her that Kal-El nuzzled down to her cheek, nudged her lightly, and then kissed her mouth. A long, sweet, searching kiss, the kind that tended to make the world disappear. The kind of kiss they’d been having more and more often of late. Her response was swift and hot, to no surprise considering the danger she found herself in of late.
But it wasn’t going to be more than a few kisses. The holographic panel lit up, and Kal-El and Lois pulled away from each other as fast as if they’d been walked in on. Lois gasped, her stomach dropping to what felt like her knees; the Supreme Chancellor’s face was on the panel, and he looked downright furious. Of course he does. Someone fucked with his precious ships. The sixty-four million dollar question is, who’s he going to blame? And what will be the fall-out from it?
Dru-Zod’s voice was clipped and formal, but the anger still came through. As he spoke of sabotage, of traitors and separatists in their midst, Kal-El’s arm crept back around her shoulders protectively. “We shall not rest until these saboteurs are brought to light, and exposed as the criminals they are,” Supreme Chancellor Zod proclaimed. “Those who have committed this act of perfidy will be punished to the full extent the law allows. All who have sheltered them from the eyes of the law, will pay the same price as if they aided in the treachery itself.”
There was more, but neither of them even noticed. Kal-El was shaking like a leaf. And that was not what she had been expecting. Lois put her hand to his cheek and made him look at her. God, please don’t let him have known I was involved somehow. “Kal-El. What is it? What are you thinking?”
His voice was distant, stunned, his answer not what she was expecting. “Zor-El. My uncle. It must have been him, or his followers. Dru-Zod will know, he must already know where to look. My uncle will be banished into the Phantom Zone….”
A chill ran up Lois’ spine at that. She’d heard of the Phantom Zone, and to her way of thinking it was worse than the death penalty for which it was supposedly a more humane replacement. Eternal imprisonment—no hunger, no thirst, no aging, no death … and no respite. Trapped forever as a ghost in a hell that needed no devils.
“It might not have been him,” Lois said, catching his chin now, trying to keep Kal-El’s attention on her. This was just going from bad to worse. How had she not known about what his uncle was up to? God, how had he gotten caught twice-over in the middle of this? “I mean, he’s an El. He wouldn’t do anything that crazy, would he?”
“Maybe he wouldn’t, but those who listen to him would. Everyone knows he speaks openly of defiance against the state. Some of his followers are young and foolish, they might have taken his words to action. And for that Dru-Zod will have him arrested as a conspirator. He might search the entire House of El for evidence of treason.” The dawning horror in Kal-El’s eyes was too much for Lois to bear.
She pulled him close in a tight hug, pressing her cheek against his shoulder. A few moments ago she’d been most worried for herself and her people. Now she was more scared for him. “They’ll never drag you into this. There’s nothing you’ve done that could bring suspicion….”
Kal-El laughed softly without humor, lapsing back into formal speech. “No, only my aunt and my cousin. And I have more than ten black market items in my living room, Lois, were they to search. That is enough to suspect. And I keep company with known subversive elements. If this happens as I fear, I could end up jeopardizing the work of the Benevolent Society. All of us could be implicated in this, as sympathizers to the human cause.” He shuddered again, squeezing her almost painfully tight.
In another time, Lois would have wondered what he meant by the work of the Benevolent Society. So far they had improved conditions for the humans, but he sounded like he meant something much more important than that. At the moment, however, she was just scared out of her mind.
Afraid for her fellow conspirators in the Resistance. Afraid for Kal-El and his family. Afraid for the Kryptonians who seemed to genuinely like humans and want the best for them. Most of all, afraid for her family back home. Any punitive action would strike them hardest, if the humans were at all implicated. Lois burrowed in against Kal-El, seeking safety in his arms just as he was seeking it in hers.
Because she was trying to suppress her own apprehensive shivers, Lois at first didn’t realize that Kal-El’s hands were shaking. She squeezed him tighter, and then pulled back, tilting her face up. If there was only way to take some of the panic away for both of them, she’d do anything for it. He kissed her then, relief and reassurance in it.
They were both young, they both cared deeply about one another, and they both had adrenaline coursing through their veins from the shock of the announcement and the fears they harbored. So it was little surprise that comfort turned into something else. We could all get arrested tomorrow or worse. It could all be over in a day, Lois thought, and then drowned that fear in the rush that swept over her whenever she kissed Kal-El.
He had never been like the boys back home, never hasty and hurried. Whenever he’d kissed her, it had been slow and intense, like waves swelling out to sea compared to shallow breakers onshore. The breakers might have been flashier and noisier, but the true power was in the oceanic waves that rolled gracefully and inexorably.
For the first time, there was an element of urgency between them. Kal-El held her tighter, kissed her harder. He must’ve been thinking the same things she was, about how unstable their lives had just become. In truth, what she’d thought was unshakably solid turned out to be less substantial than gossamer. There was no safety here, no security, and the illusion of a halfway normal life she’d found in these moments with him was only an image projected on smoke.
Still, Kal-El was the one thing Lois couldn’t let go of. True, she had a mission here, more important than anything else, but if Kal-El wound up accused of treason then her part in the Resistance was over. She’d surely be implicated, and the only way the rest of the humans would be able to save themselves would be to cut her out of their plans entirely. Assuming she survived being accused, that was.
Right now, right here, he was what she cared most about. All of the stupid taboos in the world meant exactly nothing to her right now. Not the fact that they were little more than kids trying to be adults, that touch alone amongst his people was the worst kind of perversity, not that they were completely different species. She didn’t give a damn about any of it in this moment. Lois didn’t know when exactly she’d started to fall for him—maybe from minute one, with those adorable blue eyes and his open delight at seeing her—but awareness of danger sharpened her perceptions enough that she realized exactly how she felt about it. “God, Kal-El,” she gasped, pulling back for air, feeling utterly thunderstruck by what was going through her mind. Who the hell knew what would come in the next few hours, but she knew what she wanted now. God help her.
He looked at her, his eyes wild. Kryptonians weren’t supposed to feel anything this intensely, but right now Kal-El didn’t seem to give a damn. “Lois, I love you,” he told her, his voice rough with emotion.
Time stopped. Her breath froze, and for a second Lois could only stare at him with wide hazel eyes. This hadn’t been what she’d been sent here for, but it had happened nonetheless. She knew the truth in herself now, mixed-up and complicated and more than once denied to herself, trying not to think about it too much for fear of being forced to recognize something so dangerous. So completely insane, even for her. Still, there was only one thing she could say in reply, and she braced herself for the words that would change everything between them. “I … I love you, too, Kal-El,” she whispered, and traced his cheek with her fingertips.
For a long moment he just looked at her, memorizing her face perhaps. Then Kal-El leaned in and kissed her again. Still slow and searching, but that note of sudden need was in it as well. Lois let her eyes slide closed and savored it. If there might not be a tomorrow for them, then she’d make damn sure there was a tonight worth remembering. Nothing else mattered.
Another kiss, and another, his hands tracing her shoulders, her arms, her sides. Lois had worn formal Kryptonian robes outside like she always did, with normal clothes underneath, and the extra layer of clothing insulated her from his touch. If they were going to do this, Lois wanted everything she could have of this moment, and yanked at the neck of the robe. It yielded beneath her frustration, and the silvery fabric slithered to the floor, pooling around her.
Now Kal-El’s hands were on her bare forearms, and he sucked in a breath at that. “So warm,” he murmured against her lips. Both nervous, more than a little frightened by the line they were crossing here, but neither wanting to stop. Lois felt feverish; she wanted his skin against hers, and his robes were in her way. Grumbling under her breath, she ran her hands up his sleeves from his wrists, tangled in the fabric but not caring.
He gasped, but didn’t pull away, and his hands at her waist slid up her sides, gathering her shirt as he went. That tickled, her skin suddenly hyper-sensitive, and Lois shivered, stepping back as reality swam to the surface for a moment.
The main room felt too exposed, as if Zod’s face could pop up on the holographic projector and catch them in the act. If they were going to do this, it wasn’t going to be here. Without a word, Lois tugged at Kal-El’s wrists and pulled him along with her, neither of them wanting to stop kissing and touching for more than an instant. That made their progress awkward and stumbling, but they made it to her room without tripping over each other’s feet.
He hadn’t been in the room since the bed was installed. At the moment he didn’t even seem to notice where they were, too intent on kissing Lois’ neck, exploring her long pale throat. She turned her head to give him access to the sensitive place at her nape, and shivered again when he kissed her there. God, we’re actually going to do this. The fact that it was Kal-El doing this, Kal-El who had been so startled the first time she hugged him, that night that she had kissed him in gratitude, was enough to drive her crazy. Everything else in the real world was shut out as she concentrated on the two of them.
Lois tugged at the neck of his robes, baring his throat, and writhed away from his kisses long enough to plant a few of her own. Her mouth on his neck, her hands inside the robes against his warm bare skin, and it was just too perfect. He was far too easy to get lost in, this man who had done everything he possibly could to protect her from the day he met her. And she was all too determined to do just that.
Not at all like her first time, back home, curiosity getting the better of her and the whole backseat debacle just too disappointing to bother repeating. This, this was the kind of thing people wrote romance novels about, this was passion and daring and emotions that would not be denied.
Somehow Lois wound up backed against the bed and swearing under her breath as she fought her way out of her shirt, the damn thing caught over her head, and Kal-El laughing soft and sweet as he helped her out of it.
Then, ice on her skin. That damn crystal against the hollow of her throat. Both of them stopped completely, Lois all too aware of it, Kal-El staring at it. Suddenly aware, too, of being half-dressed in the room with him, both of them disheveled and wild-eyed, and where exactly did she think she was going with this?
Kal-El stared at the crystal necklace for a long, long moment, his dazed expression hardening into anger, then fury. “You are not property,” he growled, and with one swift move snatched the necklace from her throat and flung it across the room.
Lois gasped at that, and then caught him by the back of the neck for a hard, greedy kiss. “Lois, my love,” he breathed against her mouth.