Lois (kalalanekent) wrote,
Lois
kalalanekent

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Love and Other Headaches: It's A Hard-Knock Life [Chapter Thirteen]



“I can do better than that,” Kala promised with a wicked grin.  Jason must’ve really hated the ride, if he was willing to jump off to Bizarro.  But then, he’d never been able to handle her mad flying skills. 

Kala slowed just a fraction, pulling up into a series of loops.  At first Bizarro followed her, bellowing angrily.  She kept a close watch, letting her circles become regular, waiting for the moment when he would try to intercept.

And then he did.  Now!” she snapped to Jason, and cut across her expected path, bringing them right above Bizarro.  Without hesitation, Jason dove at the much bigger creature, latching on around his neck.  Surprised, Bizarro tried to shake him off, but Jason was pummeling him mercilessly with his free arm.  Kala had seen her brother punch through solid steel, and knew the blows had to hurt.

Without the full measure of super-strength, a punch from her wouldn’t have anywhere near the same impact.  That didn’t mean she was just going to hover around and watch, though.  Kala swung away to build momentum, then zoomed back in, sweeping out one leg in a modified version of a kick she’d learned way back in karate class.

It worked—sort of.  Kala’s boot heel met Bizarro’s jaw with a satisfying thunk!  But the shock of the impact snapped the heel right off her boot, tumbling into the bay below.  Kala had time to think, Shit, that’s my favorite pair!  Then she was too busy trying to work her way back into the fight.

It quickly became clear that Bizarro was a match for both of them—only just.  The twins couldn’t take him down, and he couldn’t get free of them while they worked together.  Jason got dunked into the water a few times, and Kala managed to catch a stray punch that sent her spinning for a couple minutes, but they were holding their own.  Not to mention, keeping him away from civilians where he couldn’t do any damage.  Maybe, just maybe, they could keep him occupied until the sun rose….

Kala sneaked a glance at her watch and was shocked to realize it had been less than half an hour since she went up for an evening flight.  She already felt exhausted, like they’d been fighting for hours.  “What are we gonna do?” she called to Jason.

Before he could answer, a familiar voice called, “Need a hand?”

Yes!” Jason yelled, as Bizarro spun around like a deranged rodeo bull.

 

 

Kal-El had been in the middle of an important rescue when he registered Lois’ rapid pulse—and furious swearing.  As long as she was cursing, she was basically okay.  He finished up with the cruise ship passengers as quickly as he could, forgoing his usual public-relations moment afterwards.  It was important to acknowledge the arriving Coast Guard’s courage and to share the credit with them, and he did so, but he couldn’t stay to shake hands.

He crossed the continent in a blur, realizing that both of his children had taken up the fight in his absence.  For a moment, Kal-El paused, just watching them.  Jason and Kala were bold, decisive, as fearless as their mother.  Kala dove on Bizarro and Jason leaped away to wrestle the super-villain, both of them acting without a shred of hesitation.  Their teamwork was spectacular, too.  The twins needed almost no communication in the field, instinctively knowing when to time their joint attacks.

Paternal instinct demanded that he rush down and save them.  Bizarro was, after all, extremely dangerous and not to be treated lightly.  His appearance and speech pattern might seem laughable, but Kal-El took him seriously after their last encounter, when Bizarro had thrown an entire building at him.  No, this member of his growing rogues’ gallery was no joke, and fighting him was by no means child’s play.

However, his son and daughter were no longer precisely children.  Kal-El made himself wait and watch a few moments longer.  Kala and Jason had the situation in hand, though they were in something of a stalemate.  And this was exactly the kind of practical experience that Jor-El had encouraged him to allow the twins to get.  You cannot always protect them, my son.  You must allow them to develop their strength at their own pace.  Let them seek, and try, and fail, and try again, even as you did. 

Only when Kala called out with a note of worry in her voice did he make himself known.  Both twins looked thoroughly relieved, and if he were honest, Kal-El was too.  He had only held back for a few minutes, but it seemed like days as Bizarro tried to hammer at his kids.  Luckily Kala was too fast to take more than a glancing hit, and Jason had chosen his hold well, shielded from Bizarro’s blows by the creature’s own broad back.

“Superboy, be ready to let go!  Blur, catch your—catch SB!”  Good grief, he’d almost said your brother.  Might as well call them both by name, and ask if they’d done their homework.  It was a silly mistake, but Kal-El had never worked with both twins at once.  In fact, he’d never actually worked with Kala. 

No time to berate himself now.  He took a deep breath and dove at the enemy, grabbing Bizarro by the shoulders, and Jason obediently let go.  Kal-El increased his speed and dragged Bizarro underwater. 

Neither of them would drown, of course.  The sudden dive would hopefully keep Bizarro off balance just long enough for what Kal-El was planning.  He skimmed the bottom of the bay, heading out to see.  In mere seconds he was at the edge of the continental shelf, and dropped them both even further.  Bizarro struggled, but Kal-El had a secure hold.

The pressure and the intense cold of the depths combined to render Bizarro quiescent, almost as if lulling him into deep sleep.  By the time Kal-El reached the midpoint of the Atlantic, the creature was just floating, no longer flailing to escape.

Now, what to do with him?  Letting go and leaving him here wasn’t an option.  Eventually he’d run out of oxygen and seek the surface, once again becoming a threat.  If by then he lacked the will or strength to swim, he could actually drown.  Dragging him back up to the sunlight was just as dangerous.  While the yellow sun was the source of his strange appearance, causing his tissues to calcify and possibly immobilizing him at high enough doses, exposure to it would certainly rouse him again.  Kal-El didn’t want to enrage the beast if he could help it.

He hit on a solution, and grinned.  Kal-El turned north, moving swiftly through the deep waters.  Passing ancient shipwrecks and strange marine life, he made his way to the Arctic.  The temperatures at these depths were cold enough that even he could feel it.  Soon he was near the Fortress, having used up less than half his lung capacity in the trip.  Carefully, Kal-El swam upwards, towing Bizarro along with him.

A flash of his heat vision opened the thick ice above, and a few more careful cuts with it created a chamber above the water level.  Kal-El rose into that space and carved out another beside it, this one with a floor of untouched ice.  There he gently placed the slumbering Bizarro, and pierced the surrounding ice in a few places for air holes.

It wasn’t a perfect answer, but the cold would keep Bizarro in a hibernating state.  Maybe a more permanent solution could be found eventually.  For the time being, this would keep Bizarro alive, unharmed, and most of all, far away from people.

Now all he had to do was check on his children … who were getting both barrels from their mother.  Wincing in sympathy, Kal-El headed back to Metropolis.

 

 

“Did you seriously go after Bizarro?  Ever think of calling Superman maybe?” Lois snapped, her hands propped on her hips.  Both of her kids looked properly abashed, Jason more so for being dripping wet.  His hair was plastered down over his forehead, water droplets running down his temples.  Kala, meanwhile, was trying to balance while missing the heel of one boot.

“It’s okay, he got there to help us,” Jason said, giving her the woebegone puppy eyes.  Lois directed a narrow glare at him.  When she got hold of her husband, he was going to get a stern talking-to as well.  Leaving her to solve her own problems was one thing, but letting the kids take on a super-villain with his powers?  No way.

Just then, Kal-El made one of his well-timed entrances.  “Ms. Lane, I hear you had a trying evening.”  That voice never failed to reach right down into her soul and make her sigh, but right now she masked it to wheel on her favorite hero.

“Yeah, you could say that,” she snapped. 

“Then let me fly you home.”  Oh, that smile; he knew too well how it affected her, especially when he was in uniform.

Lois narrowed her eyes and let her chin jut out stubbornly.  “Excuse me, but I am a reporter, and I’m not leaving until I get the story from the heroes of the hour.”

“Aw, c’mon.  I have homework,” Jason complained.

Kala chimed in, “And that’s my cue to exit stage left.  The Blur doesn’t do interviews—except with Rolling Stone.”  She darted over and kissed her mother’s cheek briefly, whispering, “Love you, Mom” before disappearing.

“That’s totally unfair,” Jason said morosely.

“I saw the end of the fight,” Kal-El said, startling his son and his wife about equally.  Lois stared at him.  He’d stood around—well, hovered around—watching while that beast fought with the kids?  “Superboy and Blur conducted themselves admirably, and had the situation under control until I intervened to contain the creature.  Now, Ms. Lane, wouldn’t you rather have that interview someplace a little less public?”

“Oh yeah,” she growled, her gaze almost as dangerous as his heat vision. 

A few minutes and a much-appreciated slow flight later, the three of them were at the apartment, Jason picking up a textbook he’d apparently forgotten.  “Mom, are you okay?” he finally asked, once in the safety of their home.

“I’m great, except I want to know why the hell your dad decided that fighting super-villains was a damn spectator sport,” she said, and reined in her temper again.  It wasn’t his fault; her boy had seen a problem and leaped to fix it, as usual.  “You were brilliant, Jason.  I love you.”

He was still drenched, but Lois hugged him all the same, ignoring the cold brackish water on her clothes.  Jason grinned when she kissed his cheek.  “I love you, too, Mom,” he said, and was gone.

Now it was Kal-El’s turn, and Lois rounded on him, letting maternal wrath off its leash.  “You watched the fight?  What, like it was pay-per-view wrestling or something?  Are you freaking kidding me?!”

Kal-El stepped forward—still in the suit, the sneaky bastard—and caught her shoulders.  “Lois, they were fine.  They had him.  Working together, they got him out of the city, away from anything or anyone he could destroy, and he couldn’t get away from them.”

“It’s Bizarro!  He’s as strong as you are!  Not to mention he’s out of his frikkin’ mind!  And you just let them get smacked around?!”  Her voice was rising, the cold fear she hadn’t felt for herself raising goosebumps on her skin when she thought of her children.

“Lois, Bizarro was the one getting smacked around.  Kala’s faster than he is, and Jason’s pretty much his equal in strength.  Besides, I was right there.  I could’ve jumped in if I needed to, and I did, when they didn’t have a plan to contain him.  It was fine.  The two of them together are more than a match for the likes of him.”  Kal-El leaned closer to her, running his hands soothingly up and down her arms.

Lois bit her lip.  What she wanted was to rage at him, but he had a point.  “Somehow I’m not surprised they’ve got teamwork down pat,” she muttered, letting out a frustrated sigh.

He chuckled softly, resting his forehead against hers.  “I wish I had that kind of synchronized harmony with anyone.  There’s quite a few I work well with, and three or four I work really well with, but none like that.  They didn’t even need to speak to each other, Lois.  Perfect timing.  They were never in any real danger, not for a second.”

“Yeah, well,” Lois murmured.  Somehow she was in his arms, the warmth of his hands was seeping into her shoulders, and she couldn’t quite stay angry with him.

Except for one thing.  “I am getting an interview after this,” Lois said determinedly, and kissed him. 

Kal-El smiled against her lips.  “It’s a promise.  Doesn’t Lois Lane always get an interview with Superman when she wants one?”

“That’s not all she gets,” Lois teased, the last of her worry evaporating as she made her peace with tonight’s events. “I seem to remember getting two of the best souvenirs ever.”

 

 

Far to the north, Bizarro slumbered.  His recent memories were already fading.  Fighting the two strangers was just a blur of anger and traded blows; fighting the impostor Superman was clearer.  A good fight, one against three, the kind of odds he didn’t often get.  And he’d almost won, too.  Or so he thought.  It was hard to tell now as the cold crept in and lulled him.  Cold dulled the pain of the yellow sun on his stony skin, and it soothed the frustrated wrath that was so much a part of him.

On some level, he knew what he was: an imperfect copy.  A pitiable monster.  The knowledge was buried deep, deep in his psyche, words of failure spoken in Lex Luthor’s voice.  That drove his anger most of the time, even though he couldn’t bear to let the thought cross his forebrain.

As his body temperature, heart rate, and brain activity dropped closer to hibernation, Bizarro remembered saving Lois.  That was the important part.  He would always save her.  A smile softened his craggy features for an instant before his conscious mind finally blanked out.



Tags: love and other headaches
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