“The Man I Could Have Been” Rated PG-13
In another place, a cold-hearted man called his top expeditor into his office. He pulled off his ring with the glowing green stone and put it on the desk in front of him. He told his man, “I can not tolerate HIS interference for another day. He has cost me far too much already. I should have dealt with him years ago. But today is the day of reckoning. I didn’t want to have to do this, but she is his greatest weakness. Bring her to me now. Otis, take my ring and wear it in case he tries to stop you.”
Otis asked, “What will you do if he comes here in the meantime?”
Lex Luthor answered, “I am prepared for that.” Lex flipped open a lead box on his desk. A bar of kryptonite was inside.
Otis said, “You can count on me, Mr. Luthor.”
Lex said, “I still have feelings for the woman, so be gentle with her. Tell her that her son needs her. She should come willingly.”
Otis said, “Understood Sir!” He quickly turned and left.
Lex said, “Clark … Clark … Clark, there were so many others to keep you busy. Why did you always have to concern yourself with MY business? You should have left it ALONE … for the sake of the friendship we once had. But that friendship is long over … and now … so is our little dance.”
Three floors up and a universe away, a mother and daughter shared a late lunch on a balcony overlooking Metropolis. Their conversation was interrupted by a ringing phone. Clara picked up the phone and listened for a while. She said, “Professor, why can’t Lex …? I KNOW he’s not a scientist, but he IS the one funding your research. … Okay … OKAY. Wait a minute.” Clara turned to Martha Kent and said, “Mom, one of Lex’s employees says he has a major break though and wants me to see what he’s come up with. Will you be okay for a while?”
Martha said, “Go ahead. Take your time. I’ll be fine. If the kids wake up, I’ll make sure they are taken care of.”
Clara smiled and said, “Thanks Mom.” She picked up the phone again and said, “Professor Teschmacher? Eve, are you in lab ten on the fiftieth floor? Okay. I’ll be there in five minutes.”
Five minutes later, Clara entered Lab Ten. She noticed that Eve Teschmacher was dressed in loose-fitting, unflattering clothing much like Clara herself wore. She was also wearing thick rimmed glasses and no make-up. Her hair was a mess. For a moment she mused at how employees sometimes dress to mimic or get the attention of the people they want to impress. Professor Teschmacher obviously wanted her approval … which was also evident by the phone call that ignored all the proper channels to get Clara directly involved. Clara’s thoughts jumped track as she approached the professor and she felt a sharp pain. Clara put her hand on her stomach and hoped that the Danish she had just eaten would stay down. She asked, “What are you doing -- using meteor rocks as a power source? That is strictly forbidden in all research conducted by LexCare!”
Professor Teschmacher said, “I don’t know how you would know that I am using meteor rocks … but yes … yes, I am. It was the only way to get the necessary power to accomplish my goals. Once you’ve seen what I’m about to achieve, I’m sure that you will agree that it was worth making an exception to the rule.”
Clara said, “There are NO exceptions! The risk is too great. Furthermore, meteor rock use is controlled. It is illegal to experiment with them in a densely populated area.”
Eve said, “Once you have seen what I can do ….”
Clara said, “NO!”
Eve said, “Even if it makes it possible for me to open a doorway to another world? I am about to open a wormhole to another dimension.”
Clara shouted, “SHUT IT DOWN!”
Eve said, “NO!” She hit a button and the machine began siphoning more energy from its kryptonite battery. The drain of kryptonite radiation from the room made Clara feel slightly more steady on her feet. She quickly examined the machine with her X-ray vision to determine how it functioned.
Clara said, “The only way this will transport anyone is by blowing them to kingdom come! The power source will go critical and explode before it has sufficient energy to open a doorway. I repeat, SHUT IT DOWN!”
Eve said, “You can’t possibly know that! Just a moment more and you’ll see.”
Clara said, “If you won’t put a stop to this then I will.” Clara brushed past Eve Teschmacher and pushed the emergency stop button, but the machine didn’t shut down. She said, “It’s out of control. Get out of here now. If it doesn’t open a doorway before the battery reaches critical, the explosion will take out the LexCare facility and the area immediately surrounding it!”
Eve ran out the door. Clara knew that her Mother and children were only a few stories above her. Her children would survive but her Mother and the LexCare employees wouldn’t. She put one hand on the kryptonite battery and the other on the heavy cable leading to the machine. The kryptonite was making her weak, but she used the last of her strength to pull the cable loose. The kryptonite energy flowed through her and mixed with the vast energy stores contained inside of her. The surge of power flowed into the machine and the power demands on the kryptonite battery stopped. Clara screamed from the pain and fell to the floor as a brilliant light flooded the room.
Clara woke up. She was lying on her back and two men in security uniforms were looking down at her. One of them said, “This is a secured area. What are you doing here?”
Clara said, “You must be new here. I have clearance to go anywhere I chose.”
The guard said, “I have been here since this building became operational and I’ve never seen you. I certainly would have remembered you!”
Clara said, “Oh, I didn’t wear my glasses today. Maybe that’s why you don’t recognize me.”
The guard said, “Glasses don’t make that much of a difference. Even with all the beauty queens that Mr. Luthor hires, a hot looking woman like you would have caught my attention.”
Clara looked down and saw that her outer clothing had been burnt away. Now she understood why they didn’t recognize her. She said, “Take me to see Lex … Lex Luthor. He’ll tell you who I am.”
The guard said, “Normally, we wouldn’t bother him with something like this … but you look like the kind of woman he would like to take care of personally. He might even give us a finder’s fee for you. And he’ll probably offer to give you a stiff penalty rather than serve jail time.” The guard laughed.
Clara said, “What do you mean?”
The guard said, “Never you mind. You’ll know it all soon enough. Get on your feet now … you’ll probably be on your back again soon enough.” Both guards laughed.
Clara asked, “Is there something I could put on to cover up a bit? Could one of you gentlemen spare me your jacket?”
The guard said, “There’s no point in that either. Mr. Luthor will want to see you the way we found you.”
The men escorted Clara to Lex’s office. On the way, Clara noticed that the women in the hallways were dressed more like hookers than professional office workers. She caught a glimpse of Professor Teschmacher in an outfit that left nothing to the imagination. She decided that she must have been unconscious a while to give her a chance to change clothes. Lex wasn’t in his office so the guards hand cuffed her to a chair and left. Clara couldn’t believe that Lex had redecorated his office without consulting her and that he had gotten all the work done since the last time she had been there the day before. She didn’t like the look of it at all. She vibrated out of the handcuffs and went to the bathroom to find a robe. Once she was in there, she decided to take a shower.
Lex returned to his office with his security guards. He looked around and said, “Where is the woman that you told me about?”
The guard who had handcuffed her to the chair found that his handcuffs were still attached to the chair’s arms. He said, “I left her here not more than five minutes ago. She couldn’t have gone very far.”
Lex said, “Just take your handcuffs and get out. I am expecting someone soon. If you see the woman again, just throw her into a holding cell until I can attend to her.”
After the guards left, Lex heard some beautiful music coming from his bathroom and went to see what was going on. As he got closer he heard water running. He stopped at the door and listened to the angelic voice singing acappella. He couldn’t believe that someone had the audacity to use his shower AND mess with his sound system to play a song he had never heard before. The music was excellent but it wasn’t anything he had programmed. He went back to the fireplace in his office and grabbed a poker. On a normal day, he would have security deal with this but he was in the mood to hit someone. He went back to the bathroom and slowly opened the door and went inside.
The lyrics of the song blended into a chorus of “Le-ex ,close the do-or please … though I can sta-and the cold … doesn’t mean it’s pleasing to me.”
Lex slid the shower door open and held the fireplace poker ready to strike. He looked the woman over from head to foot to see if she was any kind of threat to him. This woman was straight out of his deepest, most private dreams. Physically, she was everything he wanted in a woman and now he knew that that voice he had heard had come out of her and not his state of the art sound system. He felt a flood of conflicting emotions. He felt lust beyond even his normal high capacity for that feeling. Then he felt a great sadness because he had had a lifetime of other women that didn’t compare to what he could have had. His eyes locked onto her face and he could sense something very special in her – something that he had sought in vain and finally given up on. He was enraged that she hadn’t found him sooner when it might have made some difference in the course of his life. For a moment he didn’t give a damn about all the people who had kept secrets from him and betrayed his trust. If he had had this women at his side, all the things that had upset him so would have seemed so petty. If he was still capable of loving someone other than himself, it would have happened at this moment. He spent a moment in conflict. He wanted to make passionate love to her … and he wanted to beat her for making him feel so totally empty inside. If this encounter turned out like most of his other recent affairs, he would do both.
Clara said, “Why are you just standing there? Why don’t you close the bathroom door … and where is the shampoo?”
Lex said, “What the hell would I need shampoo for?”
Clara said, “Well, I do! I didn’t use up the supply I keep here and I know you didn’t.” Clara pushed past him. He stiffened as her chest made his silk shirt wet. He eyed her carefully as she went to the door and closed it. When she turned to face him and saw him staring, she said, “What’s with you today? It’s not like you don’t see this all the time. Admiring the Lex Luthor brand on my butt?” She watched him looking at her for a moment more then shook her upper torso. She laughed at Lex’s expression then said, “What’s the matter, Honey? You look really tired and on edge today. Maybe you should get take a shower too and get your juices flowing a little.”
Lex said, “Who ARE you?”
Clara smiled and said, “OOOOOOOH! In a playful mood today, huh?” She walked up swaying her hips in an exaggerated fashion, put her arms around him, looked into his eyes and said, “Why, Honey Child, don’t y’awl recognize little ol’ me. I know you’re a watchin’ me when I come home from a hard day work in the fields. I am none other than your upstairs neighbor, Clarabell. I just got so dirty all over today and I wanted a hot shower more than almost any thang I could imagine but whoa is me all the hot water was plumb used up my selfish room mate. I was in the shower and the water turned all cold and I got all goose bumpily all over. I had such a frightful chill. I just ran on down here as fast as my tiny feet would carry me. I just knew that you would be all neighborly with me and let me use some of your water and all until such time as I am as hot as I can be!” Clara slowly licked her lips then leaned forward into a long and thorough kiss. Lexs hands anxiously explored Clara’s body. Clara said, “Kind Sir, could you assist me by washing by back side and any other areas that are oh so hard for me to reach all by my lonesome?” Lex nodded ‘yes’ and Clara pushed past him again to get back into the shower. Lex quickly undressed and got into the shower with her. He grabbed her and held her close as he kissed her. She said, “Sir, you will have to stand back a tad or not even the water will be able to come between us.”
Lex said, “You are phenomenally beautiful. But you know that already, don’t you? I don’t know what you normally charge for doing this kind of thing but I will quadruple it … but I want an exclusive contract with you. I could set you up with a place to live. In fact, I’ll move the woman currently living in the penthouse of this building with me and set you up there. I’ll want you available to me 24/7.”
Clara said, “Wait a minute, we were playing “Upstairs Neighbor” not “Girl for Hire.” Make up your mind. We could do both, but I left Mom with the baby and he’ll want fed soon. I’ll want to feed him soon too. I’m over abundant at the moment.”
Lex said, “Got milk?”
Clara said, “Certainly.”
Lex said, “You are in remarkable shape for a Mother. Just one?”
Clara asked, “One what?”
Lex asked, “One child?”
Clara said, “I don’t know this game. One child a year for every year we’ve been ….” Lex ended her sentence with another kiss. He felt he couldn’t wait another moment. He grabbed at her roughly. Clara said, “You are acting like we’ve never done this before!”
Lex said, “Lady, … I’d … remember … you!” There was a knock at the door. Lex shouted, “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, NOT NOW! GO AWAY!!”
Otis said, “But Sir, Martha Kent is here. She wanted to know what was wrong with her son and when I wouldn’t tell her, I had to get more than a little rough with her.”
Clara shouted, “WHAT?!” She got out of the shower and grabbed a robe from the closet.
Lex grabbed for her and said, “She’ll wait. I WON’T!” Clara reached a hand back into the shower and turned the water to the extreme cold setting. Lex screamed.
Clara said, “Cool down, big boy. You WILL wait. We can do this anytime. Without my Mother around, we wouldn’t have nearly as many opportunities.”
Clara ran out into the office and found Martha sitting in a chair. An irritated Lex came up behind her. Clara kneeled next to Martha and said, “She is unconscious. She doesn’t look badly hurt but something’s wrong. Her skin is wrinkled and her hair is turning grey.”
Lex said, “Things like that happen when you get older.”
Clara said, “Not to MY Mother. I don’t let that happen to her. Who is watching Jon and Larry and the other ….”
Lex interrupted, “Jon Kent can take carte of himse….”
Clara said, I didn’t know Dad was here. Good, now I can concentrate on Mom. She needs some water. I’ll get her some then I’ll take her downstairs to the LexCare Free Clinic.”
Lex asked, “The WHAT?!”
Clara ignored her and went to the bathroom. She took a moment to put on her underwear before pulling the robe tightly around herself. She got a glass of water and returned to the office just in time to see a man in a skin tight red and blue uniform shouting at Lex, “WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER?” The man threw a punch at Lex. Clara dropped the water and was instantaneously standing between them. She was staring at her family crest on the chest of the man throwing the punch while holding his fist away from his intended target. The force behind the fist steadily increased but Clara still held it at bay. She felt the man sniffing at her hair and she looked up. Her jaw dropped in shock. Her lower lip trembled.
In Kryptonese, Clara shouted, “FATHER! You’re alive! How can this be? Daddy, PLEASE! This is my husband and I can’t let you hurt him. Don’t make me chose between you. I love you both!”
Superman was disoriented because he hadn’t smelled the scent of a Kryptonian woman since he was a baby. He unexpectedly found himself aroused and having a hard time controlling his heat vision. He was further confused by both her strength and fluent use of the Kryptonese language and dialect. He said, “I don’t know who you are, but I can’t allow Lex Luthor to hurt Martha Kent.”
Superman pushed harder but Clara held him back. Her eyes glowed red. She continued speaking in Kryptonese saying, “Father Jor-El, do you not recognize your daughter Kayla fully grown? Is my Mother Alura alive and well too? …. PLEASE FATHER! STOP! I must obey you in all things but my duty lies with my chosen mate. Believe me! He would NEVER hurt my adopted Mother. He loves her as if she was his own Mother!”
A pained expression came over Clara and Superman’s face as a lead box was opened. They fell to the floor. Lex Luthor stood over them with a gun. He said, “I don’t know how much kryptonite exposure it will take before a bullet will be able to pierce your think hide and kill you Superman. But I have plenty of bullets and time is on my side.”
Clara said, “Lex, what are you doing? He isn’t Super Man, you are. This is my Father, Jor-El.”
Lex said, “I don’t know who you are, but we’ll get to know each other much better later. This person, on the other hand is Kal-El of Krypton who is know by the masses as their hero Superman … but to the friends who know him from our times in Smallville together, this is Clark Joseph Kent … adopted son of Jonathan and Martha Kent. He was the best friend of my youth but is now my greatest adversary … at least he was until now. I think he is too young to be your Father, but, seeing your reaction to kryptonite, I have no doubt that you are related somehow. I wonder how you would respond to some of the red stuff. It might be fun to find out.”
Clara said, “Lex, I don’t know how someone did this to you, but you HAVE to remember. I am your wife. Martha and Jonathan are MY parents, not his. I am the Mother of your children and they need me! I gave you powers like mine on my wedding day so that we could protect this world and its people together … as a family!”
Lex said, “If you can give me the powers of Superman, I will not squander them like this fool has. Willingly give me the powers and we can rule this world together. Refuse and I will make you beg for me to kill you. Ultimately, you WILL give me super powers … but we can discuss this in bed later … after I have finished with my dear friend Clark.”
Lex fired one bullet into each of Clark’s arms and legs. The bullets penetrated his skin. Clark winced in pain but didn’t cry out. Lex casually refilled the gun as he said, “I want you to suffer like I have suffered.”
Clara looked at Lex with her X-ray vision. His right arm was filled with cancerous cells. Cancer didn’t even exist in Clara’s world anymore. She shouted, “WHO ARE YOU?! YOU’RE SOME KIND OF MONSTER! My Lex is sweet and kind. He was the son of Lionel Luthor and taught to be a greedy, scheming, heartless businessman but he got beyond it all and learned the true meaning of power. There isn’t ANY reason why you couldn’t have been every bit the man my husband is!”
Lex said, “Well, you’ll have a better point of comparison in a few hours, believe me. I have no doubt I’ll measure up.” Lex’s head jerked when he heard the lead box close behind him. He turned to see Martha Kent propping herself up weakly against his desk. He shouted, “NO!” On impulse, he unloaded his gun into her.
Now it was Clara’s turn to shout, “NO!” She hopped up and with one swing of her arm sent Lex flying across the room. He smashed into the wall and fell on the floor unconscious. In the blink of an eye, Clara had caught Martha, laid her on the floor and was fashioning a letter opener into a tool for removing the bullets. The bullets were out of Martha’s body in less than a second. Clara never thought for a moment that this was not her Mother. She laid down on top of her and stroked her hair while kissing her face. She extended her aura over her Mother and poured energy into her. It was a losing battle so Clara willed her energy symbiote to inhabit her Martha instead of her. The symbiote moved partially into Martha but resisted. So much energy was leaving Clara that she was about to pass out. Her tears rained down on Martha’s face as she cried, “Mommy, don’t die. PLEASE don’t die. I still need you. I’ll always be your little girl. I love you MOM. Please don’t go away!”
Martha opened her eyes and looked at Clara. Clara face lit up with a smile. Martha said, “Who are you?”
A pair of hands pulled Clara off Martha and roughly threw her aside. She landed like a rag doll and stared blankly at the ceiling before passing out. Clark lifted his Mother into his arms and headed for the balcony. He said, “I’ll have you to the nearest hospital in a moment.”
Martha said, “Why? I feel fine … I feel GREAT! … Except my skin … my face feels so tight that it almost hurts. If you take anybody to a hospital, take that young woman. I never taught you to treat a woman like that!”
Clark put her down and said, “Mom, she was saying crazy things … she was hurting you.”
Martha said, “She didn’t hurt me. I think she just liked me a little TOO much if you know what I mean.”
Clark examined his Mother. She had bullet holes in her clothes and there was blood everywhere. He used his X-ray vision on her from head to toe. He said, “What happened? You don’t have cancer anymore. It’s gone. There are no wounds, no scar tissue, the damage to your reproductive system is gone, … MOM! You don’t even have a mole. Even my bullet wounds aren’t fully healed yet! If I didn’t know better, I would say that you were replaced.” Clark stood back and looked at his Mother like a normal human would look at someone. He said, “Mom, you look at least twenty years younger. How is any of this possible?”
Martha said, “Don’t ask me. Ask her.”
Clark turned to look for the woman who spoke Kryptonese. He saw a vague shape on the floor but it faded out of sight. He sniffed the air and noticed that the woman’s scent had dissipated and was almost entirely gone.
Clara felt really strange. She became aware of someone stroking her hair. She opened her eyes. Lex was sitting by her on the floor. She shouted, “GET YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF OF ME!!
Lex said, “Calm down!”
Clara tried to push him away but he resisted. She said, “You’re strong!”
Lex said, “And incredibly handsome and brilliant, but beyond all else – modest.”
Clara X-rayed his right arm and found no trace of cancer. She asked timidly, “Are you MY Lex?”
Lex said, “The one and only.”
Clara asked, “What happened?”
Lex said, “Apparently, you were in a lab accident in Lab Ten. It’s a mess down there. I found you up here a minute ago. I assume you took our private elevator and came up here to take a shower. You have a strange residual energy surrounding you but it has almost dissipated now. Maybe that energy caused you to pass out … unless of course you saw a spider.”
Clara said, “HEY! I am NOT scared of any spiders … at least not Earth ones. I think I had a bad dream. You were in it and you were pretty nasty … but at least you didn’t make fun of me for being afraid of spiders. AND you thought I was pretty hot stuff.”
Lex said, “Well, Angel, the nightmare is over … and I don’t think you’re hot stuff. I KNOW that you are.” Clara sat up and gave Lex a passionate kiss. Lex said, “By the way, where did you get a robe like that?”
Clara said, “Out of your bathroom.”
Lex said, “Well, it looks like one of mine … but why does it say ‘LexCorp’ on it instead of ‘LexCare’?”
Clara remembered getting the robe out of the bathroom closet … and being in the shower with … Lex. She suddenly felt even more queasy and her skin turned a bright shade of red.