Mitchener stood in the doorway, his fair hair in a demented halo around his head, eyes red-rimmed and glazed. Whatever he had been up to in the hours he was gone had changed him from smooth politician to desperate man.
For an instant, the pistol drooped in his palm. “Superman…?” he rasped disbelievingly.
Lois gently extricated herself from beneath Clark and slowly rose to a standing position. “Mr. Mitchener, you don’t want to do this…” she began in a reassuring voice.
“How did…?” Mitchener shook his head as he glanced quickly at the crates full of kryptonite. A frightening glint came into his eyes, and he gripped the gun tighter, steadying his aim on Lois. His voice dropped to its smooth gentlemanly register. “It doesn’t matter. He may have gotten in, but he won’t get out again as easily.”
She put up a placating hand toward him. “Think about this for a minute. You could kill us, true.” Okay, maybe that’s not the right tactic, Lane, but too late now… “But then you’d have to find a way to dispose of both of us – and get rid of the evidence.” She took small steps toward him as she talked, keeping her voice as evenly modulated as possible. “And if Superman found me, even with all of these vaunted ‘precautions,’ don’t you think the authorities might be close behind?”
Anger blazed in his eyes then, and he jerked the weapon toward her. “Enough with the goddamned questions! I’m tempted to shoot you right now, if it would shut you up!” He fairly shook with rage. “They might be, they might not! And since when does Superman need backup?”
In the corner, Clark groaned softly. How far gone is he now? Can he hear us, even through the pain…? Or worse, can he hear everything, but is helpless in his ever-weakening body…?
“Do you want to take that chance?” Lois tried to keep the desperation she was feeling out of her voice, as she stepped ever closer. She had to keep Mitchener from shooting them, to hold him off until Richard could get here. And poor Clark, groaning there behind her, was no more bulletproof right now than she was.
“Now what—” he began in a shout before calming his voice deliberately, “What did I say about those questions?”
Lois took one more step toward the deputy mayor to be sure that her body was fully blocking Superman from the line of fire. Then she placed a hand over her mouth, eyebrows rising in what she hoped looked like surrender.
Mitchener smiled grimly. “That’s better. It will make this much easier…” His eyes drifted over to the prone form of Superman on the other side of the room, and his voice began to shake again. “I—I really should have known he’d show up…” He ran his left hand through his hair roughly, further disheveling the careful coif she had only seen him wear until today. “L—” He stopped the word, eyes darting toward her, and then he bared his teeth, finishing the word in a growl. “Lex… warned me that once you started sticking your nose into this, it was all over… but I didn’t believe him…”
Lois tried to remain impassive. So I was right… Lex Luthor was involved… She felt a tiny surge of pride. Luthor thinks that highly of my skills? Well, you’d better enjoy your freedom for now, you bastard. With Lane and Kent on the job, there’s no way you’ll hide for long.
Mitchener was turning angry again, feet frozen in the open doorway. “I believed all the wrong things! What a stupid, childish mistake…” His mood seemed dangerously volatile… one moment jittery, the next calm and collected, and then seething with rage. She fought to keep her head in the face of this whirlwind before her, heart pounding harder than ever. He continued, eyes focused on the Man of Steel, “…a mistake I intend to correct…”
Suddenly, her heart caught in her throat. Behind Mitchener, Lois caught sight of the face that she had been hoping to see. Carefully, Richard moved into view, treading on the floorboards nearly soundlessly. Their eyes met. His were bloodshot, but filled with determination. She could only imagine what hers were showing…
Richard brought a finger to his lips – but Lois didn’t need the warning. She couldn’t react at all to his presence without possibly giving him away. She cut her eyes back to Mitchener, and a second later, his attention was on her again. “Well, Ms. Lane. It seems my plans have become a little more… complicated…” He thumbed the safety off and quickly pulled the gun's slide back. The pistol made a small but very deliberate snick as he cocked it. Mitchener's index finger slipped inside the trigger guard.
Lois’ breath caught, her eyes went wide… and several things seemed to happen all at once.
In a rush of motion, Richard tackled Mitchener, trying to wrest the deputy mayor’s arms behind his back. Mitchener jerked his arm askew to fight off his attacker… and the gun fired with a deafening explosion of sound. Lois shook her head to try to clear her ears, and saw that chance she had been waiting for since the beginning of this nightmare.
With a swift kick of her ruined heels, she knocked Mitchener’s gun from his hand. The weapon cracked against the wall, bounced off and skittered to a stop a few feet away. Lois quickly snatched the gun from the floor, just as Richard was pinning Mitchener to the floor.
Lois pointed the gun directly at the deputy mayor’s head, somehow able to keep her arms steady, despite the adrenaline coursing through them. “Stay down!” she shouted fiercely. “I know how to use a gun. Don’t think I won’t shoot you if you so much as twitch!”
Lois risked a look back at Clark, slumped against the wall, and her stomach did another backflip. Blooming across the royal blue fabric, just above and to the left of the ‘S’ shield, was a dark crimson stain.
The chapter is now at 2300 words, about 1/2 finished, I think. I was feeling bad that I didn't have my usual update this weekend. So I hope you enjoyed this extended, director's cut teaser. :)