Okay, I'm going to forgo the intro to bring this belated chappie as soon as possible. As always, we love you, dearest beta team! htbthomas and sean_montgomery, we owe you SO much!
Ladies and Brian, Kal-El vs. Lex. Also known as:
The open door beckoned, and Riley was watching her carefully. Lois knew if she screamed now, Kal-El would hear her … but if he saw the helicopter, maybe he’d go there first. She’d left her phone at the car, he would find it soon enough and come after them. Rescuing the twins was more important than saving her from this jerk, so she kept quiet for the moment.
“Weren’t you the one videotaping the fires?” Lois said, trying to needle him again. “You know what they say about kids who start fires, right?”
“I’m not the guy who started them,” Riley replied. “I just film them. I’m like the other guys Lex hired – I’m being paid to do a job. Although I don’t object to the perks, either.” Again he smiled at her, that asinine little we-have-a-secret smile.
“The perks? You mean like annoying me with your half-assed little threaten-and-flirt routine? If you’re gonna do something besides stand there and stare at me, come on and do it already. I’m getting bored.” If that didn’t goad him into action, nothing would.
Lois’ effort was rewarded. Riley snapped the collapsible baton to its full length – flicking it in her direction, too. “Fine, Miss Lane. Let’s go start your cinematic career, shall we? Come here.”
“You think I’m gonna make it that easy for you? Come and get me,” Lois challenged.
Grinning, Riley feinted toward her, then moved to cut off her escape. Lois had been expecting something like that, and dodged him. But she had spent half an hour hammering at the stupid Plexiglas porthole, and she wasn’t as fast as she needed to be. Riley grabbed her upper arm from behind, squeezing it painfully and jerking her backwards, almost off her feet. Shit. Why the hell do prisons let guys like this lift weights? Even as tall as he is, my life would be a lot easier if the sonofabitch wasn’t strong, too!
Even while she thought that, Lois kicked backwards, hard. He pushed her off balance, and her boot only struck his shin a glancing blow. In the next instant, Riley yanked her back against him, too close for a kick to have any real force, and brought the baton down sharply on her leg.
Lois clenched her teeth and didn’t cry out – that would only excite him. “Bastard,” she hissed softly.
Riley chuckled richly and hit her again, right atop the bruise forming from the last blow. This time she yelped, and he said in a low, persuasive voice, “C’mon, Miss Lane. I’m bigger than you. I’m stronger than you. Your hands are tied, and I’m armed. Plus, I’ve done this before – more times than the district attorney had any idea about. Did you really think that was going to work?”
She kept silent, waiting. Riley was still holding her arm, and he began to push her ahead of him, out of the pantry and down the stairwell. Lois held her tongue; he kept her moving, but not so fast that she was in danger of stumbling. At last they arrived at their destination.
“The specs of this yacht call this the Aquatic Gallery,” Riley said as Lois surveyed the huge room. Her swift glance took in all of its particulars while Riley kept talking. “Most of us just call it the ballroom. It’s big enough to waltz in, don’t you think? Do you dance, Miss Lane?”
“Not with you,” she shot back, and he only laughed.
“You will by the time we’re through,” Riley promised, and gave her a hard shove. Lois stumbled away, made a few steps toward recovering her balance, and then fell to the floor. She smothered a cry of pain as her arm scraped against one of the broken bolts that had secured the piano.
Riley closed and locked the door behind him, using the same high-set bolt that had foiled Kala and Jason. “I happen to think this is one of most lavish rooms on board,” Riley continued, as Lois lay where she fell. “And it’s got more space, though I had to set up four cameras to cover it all. A nice change from my other films. The lighting’s good enough to show detail, too.”
Lois rolled onto her side, watching him warily, but she didn’t try to get up yet. Riley was moving around the large ballroom, adjusting a detail here or there – moving one of the couches, taking a duffel bag from near the door and opening it atop the table. Inside Lois saw coils of rope and, disturbingly, the gleam of steel.
Riley’s back was to her as he laid out the tools of his trade; apparently he had no fear that she would creep up behind him. It was probably justified, given that she was wearing boots and the floor was hardwood and glass. He would hear her if she moved from this spot, so Lois forced herself to watch and wait.
Lex sauntered out of the dark Fortress, hands in his pockets and beaming with self-satisfaction. “Hmm, I think I’ll turn a couple of those caves over there into apartments. One for the boys, one for Kitty – but I’m living here. I happen to be partial to this place – memories, you know.” His insolent smile reminded his opponent of all the memories connected to the Fortress, the bitter and the sweet.
It only increased his determination. Kal-El glared and stalked toward him, his voice almost a growl as he said, “You have something that belongs to me.” The hero had never been this furious, never known he could feel such wrath. Anger was making him light-headed.
That only made Lex grin more broadly. “Really? I thought I had everything that belonged to you.” He stood at the top of the steps and looked around coolly, ignoring the deliberate way Superman approached him.
Kal-El’s eyes narrowed. How dare he… “Luthor, you’ve gone too far this time.”
“What are you going to do, Superman?” Lex mocked. “Kill me? You should’ve done that last time. Would’ve saved you a lot of trouble, and the lives of a lot of people only you care about.”
“I don’t have to kill you, Luthor,” he said. “You won’t get out of prison on a technicality this time.”
“Yes, well, I don’t intend to go into prison this time,” Lex said casually. “I’m far too busy. For instance, I’ve been keeping better track of Lois Lane than you have. Such a pity she wasn’t faithful to you … but what can you expect from a woman like that?”
That stopped him in his tracks, a wave of almost feverish heat sweeping through Kal-El. His pulse was beating in his temples now, his vision hazy as the combination of anxiety and outrage threatened to overwhelm him. Deliberately he advanced toward Lex.
Seeing dark rage burning in those sapphire blue eyes, Lex took one step back. Insulting Lois had been perhaps a mistake … but he couldn’t resist taunting his enemy further. “Careful there, Superman. You don’t want to hurt me – I know where Lois is, and you don’t. I can call her the Whore of Babylon if I want; you still need me to find her.”
It was true, Lex held all the cards in this situation. Too true, and both men knew it. Gritting his teeth with frustrated wrath, Kal-El ground out, “Where is she, Luthor?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Lex chuckled. “But I know something you don’t, hero. I know who the father of her children is.”
Kal-El felt his knees go weak. All of a sudden he felt sick. If Luthor knew that … he barely suppressed a shiver, forcing himself to continue up the steps as if he wasn’t affected. “Luthor, you know nothing about Lois’ children,” he said, trying to sound disdainful.
Luthor gave him a catlike smile full of cruelty. “My, my, my. How disappointed your father would be in you. Jor-El sent you here to guide us weak mortals, to be the light to show us the way. Superman, savior of the earth, fighter for truth, justice … all that stuff. Rescuer of kittens.” Lex couldn’t help snickering as he remembered that early article. “Oh yes. All that, and a deadbeat father. Really, Superman, how could you? Honestly, not even I pictured you as the love-them-and-leave-them-pregnant type. No wonder Lois wrote that article about you – hell hath no fury like a woman who gave birth to aliens.”
The revelations came too fast. Luthor knew about the twins. He’d managed to listen to the recorded crystals. He knew everything, and he even had … kryptonite…
Some part of Kal-El’s mind had wondered why Luthor didn’t simply spring the meteorite on him as soon as he landed. Now he realized that what he’d thought were manifestations of his emotional upheaval – the fever, the sweat beginning to dot his skin, the weakness – were actually responses to kryptonite nearby. How could I be so stupid? he scolded himself. He’s keeping me talking just to weaken me with it! But where the heck is it? Feels close … too close.
“Sorry, Luthor,” Kal-El said abruptly. “I’m not playing your game.”
Lex’s eyes brightened. “Oh, you’re not? Then I suppose you’ll forfeit the stake.” With that he stepped aside, and Kal-El saw into the false Fortress behind him. A man and a woman stood there – Katherine, the woman he’d saved! Even her runaway car was part of this!
But there was no time to be outraged. Behind them, sitting on the floor with their hands bound in front of them, were Jason and Kala. “I told you I had everything of yours, Kal-El,” Lex purred. “Even your bastard children.”
Riley hummed to himself as he arranged his tools. Of course, he’d found it rather difficult to replace his entire collection, most of which was still in police evidence lockers. But he was reasonably satisfied with what he’d managed to come up with on short notice. I love the internet. You can order practically anything. Thankfully Luthor let us receive packages in Nevada.
He glanced over his shoulder at Lois and gave her his most charming grin. She met it with a look of flat disgust, which was new to him. Usually by now they were starting to get a little scared. He’d set the tools of his trade neatly on the table before him. Some women got nervous just seeing rope and handcuffs. Others kept a brave face until he laid out the frayed electrical cord or the pruning shears, and then they abruptly broke down and begged for their lives. But Lois was something else.
“You’re an odd one,” Riley said, turning back to his work. “How come you’re not afraid?”
She actually laughed, and that was a very difficult reaction to fake. Riley was impressed; she was either a superb actress, or brimming with bravado. “Why on earth would I be scared of you?”
“Oh, maybe because you’re my first celebrity,” Riley replied jauntily, placing the lighter and pack of cigarettes just so. He didn’t often smoke, but the fear of fire tended to produce extreme reactions. “You do realize I’m going to have to take my time to be sure everything is just right, don’t you? This is a historic event.”
“Please,” Lois snorted derisively. “I just can’t get scared by someone who’s essentially just a little boy who never grew out of the pulling-wings-off-butterflies stage.”
That made Riley whirl around, and Lois flinched slightly. He smiled, relaxing; so she wasn’t made of stone after all. She just hid her fear very well – that would make this much more interesting. With a low chuckle, he turned back to his tools. What to start with? The baton hadn’t impressed her…
Ah yes. Riley turned to Lois with a slender filet knife in his right hand. “You know, they had a big chef’s knife in the galley that I was hoping to use, but someone took it. That’s all right – this little knife is sharper and easier to control. I wouldn’t want to slip and hit a major vein, you know.”
He prowled toward her, eyes avidly searching her face for the first glimmer of terror. Of course he wouldn’t use the knife so soon; one cut made just a little too deep would ruin all his careful preparations. But Riley hoped that the gleam of light on the blade would capture his victim’s attention, keeping Lois compliant for the moment. A knife was so much more fear-inspiring than the roll of quarters in his pocket, which he would use to subdue her if necessary.
And Lois seemed to be going along with his plans, her gaze fixed on the blade. “So tell me, Miss Lane, what are you most afraid of losing, hmm? Your looks? Plastic surgery’s good, but it’ll never give back what I can take. Or maybe it’s your career? If I sever the nerves in your hands you’ll never type another story.”
Her eyes went from the knife to his face, and to Riley’s surprise their hazel depths still held more scorn than fear. “Did you miss the part where Lex said he’d liked the way I look? Assuming you succeed – which I doubt, you’re more talk than action – Lex is going to feed you to the sharks one small piece at a time for touching me.”
Riley laughed, but now he was the one whose voice sounded forced as he bent over her, knife poised. “Luthor is going to get himself killed. He’s out there ‘tugging on Superman’s cape’, just like that Jim Croce song. Once ol’ Supes figures out those kids are his, he’s gonna cream Luthor, island-made-of-kryptonite or not.”
Lois’ eyes suddenly blazed with terror, but not fear of Riley. Only then did he realize just what kind of woman she was; Lois’ booted heel lashed out and caught him in the wrist, the knife flying. Then she was up, her hands free somehow, and darted across the room too quick for him to capture.
How had things gone so wrong so quickly? Riley chased her, jumping the short set of steps up to the area where Steven Vanderworth had had his office. He was already reaching into his pocket for the roll of quarters he carried, a sure pacifier if ever one existed, but first he had to get hold of this troublesome reporter.
Lois yanked savagely on the desk drawers as she raced past, but they were securely locked. She managed to kick the chair into Riley’s path, and he cursed her as he stumbled. “Don’t you run from me,” he snarled, eyes wild now, but she didn’t listen. They never listened, really…
She dodged around the table, grabbing the large brass trophy there for support as she made the corner. It bent on its bolts, and Lois nearly stumbled, giving Riley time to catch up. He grabbed the back of her blouse, his other hand pistoning forward with the quarters tucked into his fist.
Lois yelped in pained surprise when his fist connected, and Riley grinned savagely as he spun her to face him and cocked his fist for another blow. But he still didn’t see the rampant fear in her eyes that he expected, still had no sense of Lois’ capitulation. Confusion made him pause for one second too long, searching her face for some acknowledgment of her defeat and his superiority. It had to be there…
He was concentrating so closely on her expression that he never saw her hand grip the heavy geode on the table behind her. Stunning pain lashed through him, and Riley’s bewilderment deepened as he sank into unconsciousness.
Kal-El felt his heart stutter, locking eyes with the twins. It was too late now … even though he knew the kryptonite was weakening him, he didn’t dare leave Jason and Kala. Please let me be strong enough, he thought as he mounted the final step and came face to face with Luthor.
“This isn’t a game, Luthor,” he said warningly. The sound of the twins sobbing quietly tore at him.
Lex grinned up at him, tense and bright-eyed. “Oh, but it is. A wonderful little game I like to call, Winner Takes All.” The two men stood very close, and Kal-El was trying to watch Lex’s eyes as well as keep track of Stanford and Katherine.
Glancing away from Luthor was a mistake. Moving like a striking snake, Lex brought his hand out of his pocket and darted it forward. Kal-El gasped as burning agony stabbed into his ribs, flinching back automatically. He heard something snap and clasped his hand to his side, feeling wet warmth.
Another couple of steps back away from Luthor, seeing him run his thumb over a green shard in his hand. “Or perhaps we’ll call it Pin the Kryptonite on the Alien,” Lex chuckled, pocketing the shiv.
Kal-El took his hand away, dumbfounded to see it sheathed in red. “Blood?” he whispered. Fiery pain still gnawed at him, and he realized with dull horror that part of the kryptonite shard was still embedded in his flesh.
“Seems even a hero can bleed,” Lex hissed, far too close. Kal-El looked up just in time to catch Luthor’s fist on his chin, the force of the blow knocking him off balance. Shocked by it – he hadn’t felt pain like this since he’d given up his powers – he couldn’t recover in time, and fell down the steps, snapping off protruding spikes of crystal as he tumbled. The surface sloped toward the water, and he rolled across the rough surface.
His mind seemed to be in vapor-lock. The weakness – the pain – those unfamiliar sensations ruled him, bringing back memories of that humiliating beating in the diner. Kal-El felt frozen, unable to do more than try to breathe and deal with the blazing pain.
Luthor laughed, and the sound had a chilly edge. Stanford, sickened, kept his gaze glued to the ground at his feet. Kitty turned away from the scene unfolding outside, petting Tala’s fur nervously. She looked at the twins, bit her lip, and whispered, “Don’t look, okay? Just … don’t look.” Kitty knelt beside them both.
Lex bounded down the steps, unable to stop chuckling gleefully. “Crystals! They’re amazing, aren’t they? They inherit the traits of the minerals around them. Sort of like a son…” His gaze darted to Jason, still watching in helpless horror in spite of Kitty’s attempt to shield them. “…inheriting the traits of his father,” Lex snarled, kicking Superman in the side as he tried to stand up. Both twins screamed, and Kala turned her face against Kitty’s shoulder, crying.
Kal-El’s breath blew out, and he coughed, tasting something metallic. If only he could get a handle on the whirl of sensation and emotion – it was too much. Pain, fear, anger, malaise, weakness, outrage, shock, burning … all of it tore through him relentlessly.
Lex hadn’t quit, giving him another savage kick in the ribs. “You know, with a pound of kryptonite and one of those wonderful crystals from your Arctic hideaway, I’ve created an entire island that happens to be lethal to you.” Kal-El coughed blood, trying to get his hands under him, dizzy with recognition. No wonder he couldn’t tell where the kryptonite was … it was everywhere. Tons of it…
“The brats seem to be holding up a little better,” Lex said nastily. He stepped back and snapped his Italian loafer into Kal-El’s face for emphasis as he continued, “Thank their mother, I guess. The same human frailty that kept them out of Little League is keeping them alive now. Although they did inherit something of yours as well.”
Blue eyes, hazy with shock and pain, looked up as Lex bent over him. No question now of what Luthor was – madness danced in his eyes. “Your son there – d’ya think old Jor-El would be proud of him? The little murderer. He killed one of my men. Threw a piano at him.”
The haze cleared slightly, anger burning it away. Kal-El glanced at the children, seeing the way that they held onto each other, and knew that if it was true, it was in defense of himself. Or his sister. He’s my son, he thought. Lois’ son. He’d protect Kala with his last breath or the last ounce of his strength…
No time to think further on that. Lex saw the return of awareness, and aimed another kick to coincide with end of his next vicious line. “What a perfect legacy,” Lex spat, and his foot lashed out.
But this time it didn’t land. Kal-El caught his ankle and held it. Still disoriented, he was surprised to find that he had the strength to hold Luthor off balance. For a moment they struggled awkwardly, Lex hopping on one foot, Kal-El trying to knock him to the ground.
“Dammit!” Lex yelled, but neither Stanford nor Kitty was moving to help him. Muttering curses at them, he reached into his pocket for the shiv.
Kal-El couldn’t let him reach it. He couldn’t be stabbed again. He found an extra notch of strength, and tossed Lex over him, the megalomaniac yelling in surprise as he crashed to the ground. Luthor landed even closer to the edge, the crystal damp with salt water, but he didn’t fall off the island.
Superman began the laborious process of getting to his feet again, still coughing blood, green spots swimming before his eyes. He heard the faint chime of crystal on crystal as Lex struggled to get up, heard the man panting and cursing. He had to get up, had to defend himself against the next blow, had to…
He didn’t even see Luthor heft a chunk of kryptonite ore the size of a toaster, getting ready to throw it at his prone body. All he heard was Lex’s harsh voice hissing, “You stole six years of my life. I’m just returning the favor.”
“Luthor lied,” Lana said over the headset. “This is more than eighty miles.”
Richard looked at the island on the horizon, getting nearer now. He could make out just a few details – the dark surface seemed fractured and craggy, but no signs of life were visible at the moment.
A gravelly voice came over the radio then. “Flight November 7241 Hotel, this is General Maggin, do you copy?”
Startled Richard flicked a switch and responded, “I copy, sir, this is Richard White aboard November 7241 Hotel, go ahead.”
“Mr. White, the Coast Guard informs me they have a yacht offshore that might be the Gertrude. Radar contact only at this point, but it’s not in a registered lane of travel. Now, you have your cell phone on you, son? Over.”
Lana scrambled for it before Richard could even ask. “Yes, sir. Over.”
“Good. Coordinates are being sent to you via text message directly from the Coast Guard ship that’s on route. You’ll be updated continuously. Over.”
“Thank you, sir,” Richard said, then asked, slightly puzzled, “General Maggin, sir, how did you know to contact me?”
“Ella Lane called me,” he chuckled. “You just bring Little Laney home safe, you hear? Over and out.”
“Little Laney?” Richard said softly, his nose wrinkling.
Lana was staring at the phone. “Richard, you’ve got a message.”
“I know, give me the coordinates.”
“No, it’s from Clark,” she said, and he turned to look at her, seeing the concern in her face. “He must’ve sent it right after we left – Clark is trapped by the earthquake debris. He says he’s fine, Superman found him, but he’s safer where he is. And he gave his phone to Superman before he left. Superman’s on his way.”
For a moment they stared at each other. “You mean we have a way to contact Superman?” Richard said, hope rising.
Riley started to groan, and Lois cursed him under her breath as she tightened the cable ties around his ankles. His hands were already secured behind his back.
“Whuh… Wha’ happen’d?” he muttered thickly, trying to turn his head to look at her.
Lois slipped two of the cable ties through the loops around his wrists, fed them through the ties on his ankles, and cinched them tight, leaving Riley hog-tied with his own restraints. The reporter stood up and glared at him, a hard bright smile flickering across her face as she said, “What happened? You underestimated the power of an angry woman, just because I’m pretty. Don’t worry, I’m sure you won’t make that mistake again… It’s going to be a long time before you even see another woman.”
Resisting the temptation to kick him a few times – her leg still hurt from the damned baton – Lois walked away from him. Her subconscious was screaming at her to get moving, but at least one other man remained on board. There might have been more, but she doubted it. Either way, she’d need some kind of weapon, and here was Riley’s little bag of goodies…
Lois wrinkled her nose at the assortment of supplies. She didn’t even want to know why Riley needed a dozen clothespins and a can opener. Suppressing a shudder, Lois picked up the police baton, looked it over, and with a sharp flick of her wrist extended it to its full length. “Nice,” she said with a small smile.
Riley made a strangled groan when he saw her, trying to roll over and get to his feet. Bound as he was, all he managed to do was thrash around like a broken-backed snake. Lois walked over to him, tapping the baton against her palm thoughtfully.
He tried to laugh, but his voice was shaky. “Hey, c’mon now,” Riley said, and his voice was a pathetic attempt at jocularity. “Don’t … you don’t have to do that. I mean, I was just kidding with you… I wouldn’t have hurt you. You know that, right? Right?”
The smile on Lois’ face was not friendly. “Oh, so you weren’t going to torture and rape and kill me, after all? This was all just a joke?”
“Yeah, yeah, a joke,” Riley said desperately. “I mean, you said it yourself. Luthor’d never let me live if I did something like that. He … he kinda admires you, he wouldn’t want you hurt.”
“Where did he take my kids?” Lois asked sharply, and the man flinched. “Where are they, Riley? And keep in mind, if I don’t like the answer, it’s my turn to play.”
Nothing on earth was more pathetic than a grown man sniveling in terror of a woman almost a foot shorter and a hundred pounds lighter than himself. And still he tried to brazen his way out of it. “Nah, you’re not like that,” Riley said, grinning sickly. His shirt was damp with sweat. “I mean, you’re a nice lady – you’re a class act, investigative reporter. Hell, you’re famous. You … you wouldn’t do anything like that to me. You’re Superman’s girlfriend – you’re the mother to his kids. You’re a good person.”
Lois grinned, her eyes gleaming fierce and predatory. It was everything she had not to kick him in the teeth right now. “You forget, Riley. I’m not him. Superman wouldn’t hurt you – he can’t conscience hurting anyone. I can. If you don’t start talking…”
Looking at her face, he believed her. Before Lois could even finish the threat, Riley was babbling. “I don’t know exactly! Really, I don’t! Grant’s the one who steers this thing, he’s got the coordinates… Listen, you gotta believe me, I don’t know anything! Go get Grant, he’ll tell you. Hell, I think he’s got it written down in the bridge…”
“Shut up,” Lois snapped before he could drown her in words, and Riley did, his eyes unnaturally bright as he watched the baton in her hands. Her knuckles had gone absolutely white. “Now tell me what Luthor’s been up to with those crystals. And why did he take my kids with him?”
It quickly became clear to Lois that Riley was a pure coward under all of his swagger. She wouldn’t even need to hit him once – he started spilling everything he knew just seeing the weapon in her hands. Too bad, she thought coldly as she glared at him. I’m not gonna have an excuse to hit him again. Sometimes it really sucks to be one of the good guys.
“No!” Jason yelled, seeing Lex about to throw the heavy chunk of crystal at Superman. He tried to struggle to his feet, but he’d used much of his strength in throwing the piano, and the kryptonite was making every bone in his body ache. Jason just couldn’t get up; his coordination was gone, his body didn’t seem to be listening to the orders his brain gave.
Kala had looked up at her brother’s cry, her face tear-stained. What she saw horrified her. The bad bald man was about to hit Daddy with a rock! Unlike Jason, whose very strength made him more vulnerable to the green crystals, Kala had been held in place by despair, not weakness.
One glance at Stanford and Kitty told Kala that the grown-ups weren’t going to help. If only Mommy was here, Mommy would kick the bad man’s butt…
But Mommy’s not here, Kala thought, and it galvanized her to act. Bolting to her feet, she tore away from Kitty and ran down the steps, momentum helping her keep her balance in spite of the savage ringing in her ears. Her sneakers gave her a good grip on the crystalline surface, and she wasn’t even aware that she was running faster than any six-year-old should be able to.
Lex had paused to say something, the rock – which was heavier than it looked – held at the level of his shoulder. Kala hadn’t actually thought about what she would do, so she simply yelled, “Leave my Daddy alone!”
“Kala! No! Don’t!” Jason’s small voice reverberated throughout the structure, his blue eyes locked on her.
Luthor turned slightly, and that was the moment when Kala cannoned into him, knocking him off balance. He dropped the chunk of kryptonite – it narrowly missed both Kala’s head and Lex’s own foot – and grabbed for Kala’s shoulder, his eyes alight with fury. “You little bitch!” he snarled, ready to shake the child.
But Kala was Lois’ daughter. And she was both terrified and furious. She whipped her head around and bit Lex’s hand, sinking her teeth into his flesh and thinking, That’s for beatin’ up Daddy an’ making Jason sick an’ takin’ us away from Mommy!
Lex yelled, snatching his hand back, and saw the blood. He reacted without thinking, slapping Kala. Hard.
She’d been feeling like the island was spinning ever since she started running, and the blow destroyed what was left of her equilibrium. Kala staggered, seeing the edge of the dark crystal, hearing the water just below, trying to keep it together.
For one moment it seemed as though she’d make it, teetering on the very edge. Jason screamed for her, but it was Kal-El who met her gaze. Father and daughter shared one look full of desperation, and then the fragile edge crumbled under Kala’s feet, spilling her off out of their sight with a despairing cry.