A/N: Mostly I want to thank Dee over at Divine Intervention. Who really inspired me to work hard at this chapter and gave me new perspective on the Eradicator when she set me a script for Kevin Smith's Superman Lives. It was a giggle and a laugh but it really helped me find a depth to our villain. Maybe he really wasn't all bad. Also when I asked her she made me a beautiful piece of art.
Here I stand, helpless and left for dead I believe in you
I can show you that I can see right through
All your empty lies, I won't stay long
In this world so wrong
I believe in you
'In death we find life, in life we find love.'
Clark wasn't sure how much time had passed when Jor-El had finally let him leave the restorative matrix. Nothing but a sheet around his waist, Clark stumbled like a child taking their first steps.
"I have something for you Kal-El."
A long crystal within the Fortress previously opaque became completely transparent to reveal a black and silver suit much like his own primary coloured version.
"It is a battle suit, it will aid your recovery my son."
Taking down the suit from it's confines, it felt silky under Clark's fingers as if it would ripple on it's own. It didn't have a cape, Clark noted with an element of disappointment.
"Thank you." Clark turned the suit over and began to dress. The night was only just beginning.
Lois practically hurtled into the Daily Planet bullpen after her rush flight back to Metropolis. Lois knew she could always go back for her car. Her eyes scanning the room for her blonde cousin, spying Jimmy coming towards her, Lois grabbed him and pulled him aside.
"Where's Chloe?" Lois demanded.
"Lois?! What are you doing back?" Jimmy made way to hug Lois but she gave him a death stare.
"You. Information. Now Olsen."
"Well with you out of commission this week, Chloe's covering the return of Superman." Jimmy stuttered as Lois held tightly to the collar of his shirt.
"Superman." Lois commented like it was something in passing.
Jimmy nodded, "Yeah. It's like he never died!"
"He did die Jimmy. That's not Superman." Lois reached into her purse to pull out her cell, dialling Chloe.
Jimmy looked at Lois like she'd grown two heads, "Lois what are you talking about? Of course it's Superman."
"Jimmy, when have I ever been wrong? About Superman?" Lois' career had been prolific even before the Man of Steel's 'appearance' in Metropolis 5 years ago. But since then her credibility and workload had only gotten higher.
Because of Clark, Lois sighed, he was her partner since he started 5 years ago too. The 'two' men had helped to shape and further Lois' career more than she would ever like to admit, for no other reason than to help her. Oh Clark…
The Daily Planet building began to shake, Lois pulled Jimmy into the open door way behind them, pieces of rubble flying all over the place.
"What the hell was that?!" Lois cried as Jimmy pulled her down to the ground. Lois felt the air rush out of her body, turning to Jimmy, Lois gasped. A large chunk of the ceiling had fallen on top of Jimmy as he pulled Lois out of the way.
Inspecting Jimmy's head wound, Lois called out to him, "Jimmy? JIMMY?!"
Within moments the Eradicator found the source of the screaming. A young woman was being beaten in an alley. Her assailants only laughed at her pain. It angered him, such disrespect of something so pure.
"Dude it's Superman!" One thug called out to the rest. Dropping the weeping woman, they all turned to him.
"Aren't you supposed to be dead?" Another called, he looked like he could be the pack leader.
Leader of this disgrace, the Eradicator murmured to himself. The men began to advance on him. He tilted his head curiously, did they not know of his power? Of his ability to end their destruction?
The pack leader spoke again, "You're looking pretty spry for a dead man…"
One tried to grab at him. Disgusted to be touched by something so unclean , the Eradicator threw his arm out, sending the man sprawling on the other side of the alley. He smiled as the others each changed glances, fear spreading across their features.
But the leader would not be discouraged, standing before the Eradicator, he placed his hand on the false Superman's shoulder as he prepared to hit him.
The Eradicator looked at the hand on his body with revulsion. Grabbing it, the Eradicator twisted it until he heard bones popping and crushing beneath his iron grip. The man before him, howled and whimpered in pain. But it wasn't enough.
"Justice has not been served." The Eradicator told him. The fear was now in the man's eyes. For this was a lie. This was not Superman.
A hand closed around the human's throat, the Eradicator squeezed, ignoring the choking sounds. The final shudder of death clutched at the man beneath his grip. When it stopped, the Eradicator dropped the body with a resounding thud.
"You - you just - killed him!" One of the previously silent gang members said with an evident shakiness.
"He was corrupt. He would not change. He would not feel remorse." The Eradicator noted that the woman looked up at him petrified, "You're safe now. These men will not harm you."
The woman stood, hugging the wall for some protection, "I - I…"
"You will leave now." The Eradicator told the remaining men. They didn't need to be told twice. The woman did not look upon him with gratitude as he remembered from Kal-El's own memories but with a kind of disgust he was not accustomed to.
"I did what was right." Was all he said before flying off.
When Lois finally got a hold of Chloe, she had been at the hospital with Jimmy for an hour, "Chloe!"
The two cousins hugged, Chloe looked up at Lois with wet eyes, "How's Jimmy?"
"He's going to be fine, saved my life though." Lois said with a proud smile on her face, "Guess I rubbed off on him."
"Yeah, that's it Lois," Chloe laughed, "So you just get back?"
"Right, yeah, I did. To the apparent mystery that is the 'resurrected' Superman." Lois said with a sadness. It's obvious that Chloe would know it wasn't Clark. Especially if she'd been tracking him.
"Superman he might look like but it's definitely not." Chloe said with a sigh, "Whatever or whoever this thing is, it's been a very bad alien."
"How so?" Lois frowned as Chloe handed her a manila coloured file.
"Plus it's just been reported that two gang members got whacked. One died from serious head injuries and the other was suffocated." Chloe explained as Lois flipped through the devastating pictures.
Lois raised her eyebrows, "Suffocated?"
"With a big Superman sized hand." Chloe rubbed the bridge of her nose to rid herself of some imaginary pain.
"Clark would never…" Lois said with every ounce of her being.
"I know," Chloe looked sharply around her to make sure no one heard Lois, "But there seems to be a method to his madness."
"The thugs were playing cat and mouse with the local reverend's daughter." Chloe made a look that told Lois exactly what that meant.
Lois nodded, "Only she didn't want to play."
"It's like he's dealing with the criminal element…" Chloe began.
While Lois finished, "…But with added force and death is definitely an option. So how do we stop him?"
"If he really is like Superman or a clone of Superman then we take him down the same way we would if it were Clark." Chloe opened her purse to show Lois a lead box.
"Kryptonite?" Lois felt a chill down her spine when Chloe opened the box to reveal the sickly green rock.
"Kryptonite." Chloe repeated.
Clark blinked as his eyes adjusted to the night sky. He felt a sonic boom impacting on his ears as soon as he left the Fortress. It was generated somewhere near Metropolis, he could tell.
Moving his arms, Clark tried to roll the cricks out before taking to the sky. His body protested under the strain as he flew towards Metropolis. The closer he got, the louder the cries became. The louder they became the more apparent what was happening became.
Superman just killed that guy!
Superman is a murderer!
Superman has turned!
It spurred Clark on, to come home, to reclaim what had been stolen from him. Superman was a symbol of good. He would not see it destroyed.
The Eradicator looked on, as military convoys began deploying in Metropolis. They were up in arms. Convinced he had turned away from them.
Only in death do we find life. Only in death can there be rebirth, a rebirth of what is good and right, the Eradicator thought as he dodged between helicopters that suddenly appeared.
So the first tank that came at him, he tossed but the second, he incinerated with heat vision. M
Mercy before conviction, otherwise he would be truly a monster.
Luckily, Lois had managed to sneak herself and Chloe in between the army boys now racking up the missiles to send at the false superhero. Standing at almost the front line, Lois could have sworn she saw a dark blur.
The Eradicator turned, Kal-El was hovering in front of him, "Kal-El."
"Eradicator." Clark said in a matter of fact tone.
"You are no longer needed here."
Clark raised his eyebrows, "Kind of looks like I am."
"You're killing people. Superman doesn't kill people." Clark felt a strange feeling in his gut when he saw his own face staring back at him. His own suit worn by someone other than him.
"He saves them. But you will not save them from themselves."
"I'm not their judge, jury and executioner. We're not the police. It isn't what I do." Clark told the Eradicator. Clark also noted how he separated Superman from both of them. Called him Kal-El instead. Like Superman's identity was up for grabs.
"Maybe you should."
Clark let out an angry sigh, "What part of 'it's wrong' don't you understand?"
"What part of 'the world needs a saviour' do you not understand?" The Eradicator looked exasperated by it all. Like he was shouting and no one could hear him.
"I won't let you do this." Clark folded his arms over his 'S'.
"I won't be a false god." The Eradicator zoomed at Clark's chest, his two fists knocking the other man back.
Clark grunted with the force of it. His body wasn't ready for this, he couldn't take it. He'd die again.
It was faint but Clark heard it. So did the Eradicator.
"Lois." Clark felt a rush of fear as the Eradicator made his way down to the ground where he had no doubt Lois was.
Lois called up to the sky when she saw that Superman was talking to someone. Someone dressed in a black and silver suit. Lois felt her heart leap as she touched her engagement ring. It was Clark. She knew it. So she called out to him, quite at first. Then practically shouting Superman! at him.
Making a gesture to hold fire to the military convoys, Lois watched as the two Supermen landed side by side. It was the same man. Looking at them, it was the same man. They were both Clark, his face especially. It was the Clark so long forgotten behind his bumbling glasses. The Clark she had first met in the field.
"Superman?" Lois asked. The red and blue suited one stepped forward but the other held him back with a hand on his shoulder.
Lois mouthed, "Clark?"
The black suited Superman walked forward and hugged Lois tight in his arms. Lois let a single tear fall from her cheek as Chloe stood behind the other Superman and opened the lead box she'd been carrying. He turned to her, clutching his chest, like his heart would burst from it in pain.
"No!" He cried, "I could…I could have save this world."
"No, you couldn't have." Clark told him.
The Eradicator turned to him, "I wanted to help Kal-El."
Lois turned to Clark, who was still intently looking at the Eradicator, "Your intentions were honourable but you confused who I am with who you were. "
The Eradicator's face contorted in pain as the Kryptonite took effect, Kal-El's cells were dying and he would be right back where he started. But as it happened, a fog seemed to lift from his mind, his actions becoming clearer.
"You think I confused myself? I took your life from you Kal-El. I took who you are. Who you really are. You're no different than any of your Kryptonian ancestors."
Clark looked startled for a moment, "What?"
"I know what's inside of you Kal-El, your fear of what you'll become. What I did…I showed you exactly that."
"No," Clark insisted.
"There will come a time when the ones you love are gone. When loneliness claims you…then you will see the world just as I have."
Clark rushed to the Eradicator's side, his own body rejecting the Kryptonite, "You're wrong!" For a moment Clark felt like he wanted to beat it into the Eradicator. But it was too late. The poisoning was too strong and his heartbeat stilled. Clark let him go, laid his body on the ground. Chloe quickly tabled the Kryptonite as Lois stood behind Clark, her hand on his shoulder.
The General in charge stepped forward, "Superman? Is that you?"
Clark ran his fingers over his familiar 'S', before standing tall, "Yes. It's me."
He nodded and seemed satisfied, "What was that?"
Lois slipped her hand into Clark's and spoke, "A misguided fool."
The General nodded again, "That thing destroyed half the city - what do we do?"
"We rebuild." Clark said as he looked up at the dawning sky.
Dressed in a terrycloth robe Clark sat on the balcony of his apartment, his eyes gazing vaguely out into the night.
"They destroyed the body of…what was his name?" Lois said quietly as she leaned against the open French door.
"The Eradicator." Clark turned around to see Lois in a robe herself but hers was showing the long expanse of her legs and thighs.
"Huh, fancy that." Lois smiled, "I would have taken Superman's name too."
"What Clark? Now is the time you want to tell me you're Superman? Now is the time that you want to tell me that you died and came back to life? NOW?!" Lois shouted. She took a deep breath and wrinkled her nose, "Okay, so issues not exactly resolved."
"I never meant for this to happen." Clark sighed and stood up, "I was going to tell you but I heard that cry for help…"
"Then you went and died." Lois half smiled but it was clearly pained, "But your mom explained a lot. About how lonely life was for you."
"I'm not lonely when I'm with you." Clark's own face held a goofy smile.
"Oh that so doesn't mean you're off the hook!" Lois cried, "You lied for 7 years!"
"I love you."
"That's cheating, Kent." Lois warned.
"I love you and you're going to marry me." Clark teased as he held Lois' hand, staring at the ring he had made. The well of emotion was running right again.
"I love you and you're going to marry me." Lois repeated as she wrapped her arms around Clark's neck, her lips pressed against his gently. Clark poured every bit of himself into that kiss. He knew now that even he wasn't invincible and that every kiss could be his last.
But throughout it all it had never been about his death. It had been about Lois' strength, about Lois' love for him. Her acceptance of him even if she could never tell him that.
In death, Clark had found life and in life he had found love, love with Lois.
Dancing through the fire yeah You do something to me - something deep inside
just to catch a flame
Just to get close to
just close enough
To tell you that...
You do something to me - something deep inside
A/N2: The songs used where Dance with the Devil - Breaking Benjamin and You do something to me - Paul Weller.
A/N3: Clearly could have a) split this into two chapters but I didn't and b) I could end here. But I won't. :D The next and final chapter is what all the pain is worth. The Clois wedding. Yup. Game, set and match.