Poisons That Open Your Eyes

by bananacosmicgirl

His hand, already slack in hers, becomes even heavier.

His eyelids drop, and they don’t open again.

It doesn’t matter how much she protests or how the tears pour down her cheeks. He can no longer hear her.

She reaches over, panic flaring white through her mind, and pushes the alarm button again and again, until the room floods with people. She backs away from Clark, hating it when she has to let go of his hand.

Amid all the chaos, the door opens and a half-bald man in a lab coat enters. He doesn’t look like he belongs with the rest of the frantically working personnel, and Lois is immediately suspicious. He’s not wearing a name tag.

“Who are you?”

“Uh, oh, sorry.” He looks at Superman, or what little of the hero is visible beyond the staff. He walks to her and takes her hand. “Doctor Bernard Klein. Lois Lane, right? I’ve seen your pictures.”

She regards him in silence, waiting for an explanation. Doctor is a good start, but if he’s as worthless as the last one, she’s not above yelling again.

“How’s he doing?”

“He lost consciousness.” Lois forces herself to keep her voice unwavering. “He—there was a lot of blood coming from the tube in his nose and he…”

“Radiation poisoning. He’s reacting remarkably like a human would.”

“I’m sorry.” She’s not the least bit sorry. “But who are you?”

“Right, yes, I’m Doctor Klein of StarLabs.” He lowers his voice. “I’m the one who’s been working on the Kryptonite problem together with Superman here.”

“You’ve been working on Kryptonite? With Superman?” Why would Clark allow such a thing? He should want to stay as far away from it as possible.

“Yes.” He makes it sound though it’s natural. “He wanted to see if we could do anything to lessen its effects.”

“And can you?” She looks at him expectantly. “You realize we don’t have much time, right? He was walking and talking a few hours ago and now—now…”

“Let’s go outside for a moment.”

Lois glances at Clark, but there isn’t anything she can do for him right now. It’s unlikely he knows whether she’s even there.

She follows the doctor outside and they go into a nearby storage room, filled to the brim with supplies but empty of people.

“We’ve been working on something to help in this kind of situation,” Dr. Klein says once the door closes. “Ever since he was shot, because he worried that it might happen again, and what if a piece of it broke off and was left inside—not good—well, you’ve seen the effects…”

“Doctor Klein.”

He starts, as though he’s forgotten she’s there. “Yes, sorry. Well, we can’t make him immune to the radiation, but I started thinking, what if we can create an antibody that will stick to Kryptonite particles, and another antibody to connect with the first one, not unlike what they do for the PET scans—”

“Doctor Klein,” she says again, warningly, because he seems to have a penchant for going off on a tangent.

“Right, yes, in short: a second antibody with a lead particle on it.” Dr. Klein looks hopefully at her, as though she’s the judge of whether it’s a good idea.

She tries to understand what he’s saying, but she fails.

“Enough of them, and the lead will shield his body from Kryptonite!” His excitement is obvious.

“And you have the whatchamacallits?”

He pats his bag. “I have the antibodies here.”

“Then go! What are you waiting for?”

His excitement dims. “Well, you realize that for obvious reasons, we haven’t tested it. He doesn’t even know I got this far. We don’t know if it’ll work, especially when we’re this late, and even if it works, it might have side effects—or the lead-covered Kryptonite particles might merge and create an embolus, and if that gets to his heart or his brain—”

Lois listens, tries to take it all in. She thinks he’s saying that Clark might have a heart attack or a stroke, or some other side effect that they know nothing about. But the other option is watching him slip away, doing nothing. There is only one outcome if they do nothing. With Dr. Klein’s thing, he has some kind of chance. They’ll have to handle whatever else happens, when it happens.

She hopes she doesn’t cause Clark even more suffering.

“Do it.”

Dr. Klein looks at her, searching her face. She’s not Superman’s proxy, not really, and she’s not Clark’s either, but someone has to decide and she’s a well-known close friend of Superman’s.

He nods and leaves the storage room. She takes a deep breath before she follows.


The steady beep registering Clark’s heartbeat has gone from annoying to reassuring. With every sound, Lois can be sure he’s still there. Still with her.

It’s difficult to take in that yesterday morning, they were discussing whether they should go out on a date. Well, she was talking about it. He was running out on her. Again.

She understands now, all too well, why he ran out. Why he’s run out on her again and again. It’s not that she’s not important to him; it’s that he has others to take care of. He takes care of the world.

Still, shouldn’t she be more important to him than the world?

Then again, soon it might not matter.

They’re talking about intubation, to help him breathe. He struggles to draw breath, and she knows that’s where they’re headed. The doctors have said little to her since she bit off the first one’s head, but she’s heard their whispers.

Fluid and blood in his lungs.

Blood in his stomach.

Probably bleeding continuously internally.

Electrolytes nowhere near what StarLabs has in their files.

Fever so high, she can barely hold his hand anymore.

There are two bags of fluid dripping into him continuously, in part to keep his water balance, and in part to try to keep his temperature down. There are cold packs pressed to his sides, but they melt so quickly they have to exchange them every fifteen minutes. They’ve changed the nasal cannula Clark had running beneath his nose before to a full on mask, but even with that, his saturation is still dropping from what Lois can tell.

She really isn’t well-versed in this whole medicine thing. Really, considering how it took her father away from her, she’s always stayed away from it.

Dr. Klein injected him with the anti-thingamabobs he talked about. She wishes he could have looked more certain when he did it, but he was sweating and his hands were shaking, and it wasn’t comforting at all.

And now they wait.

She’s alone with Clark. Dr. Klein had to go somewhere, and she didn’t care enough to listen where. The nurses come in to check on Clark every five minutes, but they seem to trust her to sound the alarm if anything happens.

She runs her thumb across the back of his hand. “I thought you were insane, you know. That I only attract insane guys. Because why else would you always be running off in the middle of me pouring my heart out?” She pauses. “This makes a lot more sense. Though, I might still be angry later. If—”

She stops, can’t say the rest of that sentence.

Grabbing a wet towel from the table next to the bed, she dabs his sweaty forehead. He doesn’t react. She lets the towel run down the side of his face, down his throat and to his chest. His unmarred, perfect chest, heaving with every uneven breath.

“That’s how you survived being shot three times in the chest. No doctor Hamilton. You were… you were never dead.” And there is the flare of anger that will turn into a full-blown tornado when this is all over. “How could you leave me to believe you were dead?”

She hates the hoarseness of her own voice. For a second she hates him, but then she wants to take the thought back, as though her thoughts will be what tips him over the edge.

“That was the worst day of my life.” She reconsiders, “This one might beat it, though.” She swallows hard. “But you’re Superman. You’re not supposed to be like this. You’re not supposed to…”


She can’t make herself say the word.

He starts shaking. He throws his head back, all the muscles in his body tensing up, and she’s glad she’s not holding his hand, because he would have ground it to a pulp.

The machines around him blare and people rush in.

She shrinks back into the corner and watches as they give him medicine, first one shot, two, three, and she sees the desperation growing in the doctors’ eyes.

“Get me whatever Propofol and Diazepam this place has,” one doctor says, voice full of frustration.

It doesn’t sound good to Lois’ ears.

They finally make him stop shaking, and they immediately shove a tube down his throat. Lois turns away, can’t make herself watch it. She can still hear them working, though, and when the sounds become too much, she has to leave.

She walks aimlessly until she finds her way to the reception, where she asks to use the phone.

“Hello?” Perry’s gruff voice is reassuring.

“It’s Lois.” She knows he’ll know something’s wrong before she gets to the second syllable.

“What’s wrong? Where are you? Where’s Clark?”

She takes a breath. “We’re at the hospital.”

“What happened?”

“Superman…” She looks around the crowded reception area. “Superman’s sick. Diana Stride poisoned him with Kryptonite.”

“Diana Stride? Are you sure, honey? It isn’t you—projecting?”

“He told me himself,” Lois snaps. “Or do you think Superman is lying?”

“No, no, of course not. But she’s so…”

“Attractive?” She doesn’t even try to keep the anger out of her voice. “I was right. She’s a professional assassin. And Superman says Disanto is in danger, so Stride is probably going to kill him.”

“Did you tell the police?”

“The hospital is full of them.” She can see a few of them from where she’s standing.

“Don’t do anything stupid, Lois.”

“I told Superman the police will handle it.” She hasn’t been thinking much about Disanto or Diana Stride at all. Other things are much more important.

Perry is silent for a few seconds. “How’s Superman doing?”

Lois swallows. “It’s bad. He… they… it’s bad.”

“Go be with him, Lois.” Perry pauses. “Let Clark know that I understand that both of you need to stay at the hospital right now.”

He hangs up.

She’s left staring at the phone, wondering what the last comment was about. Something about it doesn’t sit right.

She shakes it off.

On the way back to Clark’s room, she’s passed by running police officers—in gas masks. Why would they need gas masks in the hospital? Her heart skips a beat again—did Diana Stride come back to finish the job on Clark? But no, it’s much more likely that Diana is back to kill her former partner, who’s also in the ICU. Lois hurries after the officers, trying not to look too interested. They take the stairs up to the ICU, but turn away from Clark’s room. She breathes a sigh of relief.

The door closes behind them and Lois can peek through the glass. The white smoke fills the corridor, police officers and medical personnel littering the floor, all out cold. She sees Mayson Drake. The gas masked men she followed upstairs disappear into the fog. Lois hangs back—if she goes into the corridor, she’s going to end up like the people on the floor, of no use to anyone.

If she holds her breath, she can get to Clark’s room. The urge to see him is intense, to make sure that nothing’s happened to him. What if he seizes again, while the medical staff is snoozing on the floor? She doesn’t need to think twice—she takes a deep breath, opens the door, and hurries down to Clark’s room. She lets herself in and makes sure the door is securely closed before she takes another breath. Some fog has leaked into the room, and after a couple of breaths, she starts getting woozy.

“I hope you don’t mind if I borrow some of your oxygen,” she says and grabs a mask from the wall, turning the oxygen on.

She stops and looks at Clark.

She doesn’t want to see him like this.

He is as pale as the sheets he’s resting upon, dark shadows beneath his eyes. Even with his broad shoulders and large muscles, he looks smaller in the hospital bed. They’ve connected the tube in his mouth to a machine that helps him breathe, because his chest rises and falls with every whoosh and silence of the machine. There are needles in both his arms, attached to bags of fluid, and they’ve even attached a needle to the side of his throat.

Her eyes burn with unshed tears.

She sits down, the mask still in place.

There is a great commotion outside, but she can’t bring herself to care. The reporter inside of her doesn’t have the energy.

“She probably killed Disanto.” Should she feel guilty? Did she lead Diana to Disanto to begin with when they found the safe house? But no, if Diana has access to Kryptonite, she likely also has access to little things like safe house locations.

The door opens and two police officers come inside. They don’t even react to the patient on the bed, and they impress Lois with their focus for a second, until she realizes that they don’t recognize Superman. He looks nothing like his usual self.

“Clear,” one officer says. He looks at Lois. “Has anyone come into this room?”

“Just me.”

“And you are?”

“Lois Lane.” She gets out her driver’s license and shows him. He searches her quickly and Lois wants to protest, but she bites her tongue and the whole thing is over within seconds. He seems satisfied, because he turns to the other guy.

“Stay here until further notice,” the other says. “No one leaves.”

Lois has no intention of going anywhere, so she’s fine with those instructions.

And she doesn’t even ask what’s going on outside, because she doesn’t care. It’s as though she’s lost the investigative journalist at the moment. She’s hollow inside, as though a part of her is missing. And it is, because Clark is lying still and can’t even breathe on his own, and she hates it, hates that she can’t talk to him, and that he can’t smile at her. Those smiles… it’s like he made them from pure sunshine.

Yesterday morning they talked about dating, and now they’re here. Now Kryptonite might tear the chance from them, and Lois might never know what it’s like to go on a proper date with Clark Kent. What it’s like to have him cup her cheek before he kisses her gently, for real, not as part of some ruse or because some lunatic sprayed them with love potion. What it’s like to wake up next to him, in his embrace.

She’s never even allowed herself to think about those things, too busy trying to protect her heart from any pain.

She’s in pain now.


She doesn’t know how long she’s been sitting there when the door opens and Dr. Klein comes in. The police have been there again, telling her it’s safe to take off the mask, and nurses and doctors have come and gone, checking on Clark.

“Doctor Klein.” Lois stands up. Her back is killing her from sitting on the hard chair.

“What happened out there?” Dr. Klein asks. “I was just coming back, and they searched me like I was a wanted fugitive.”

“I don’t know,” Lois says, wanting him off this track and to tell her about Clark instead. “How’s he doing?”

“He’s stabilized. Not deteriorating anymore.”

“But not better either.”

“Not yet. We didn’t expect this to be quick, Miss Lane. There is still Kryptonite in his body, even though it might be at least partly shielded now. We don’t know if the antibodies have found all of the Kryptonite, and we don’t know if it’s enough.”

“What do you know?” It’s more of a rhetorical question than anything else.

Dr. Klein answers anyway. “His heart rate stabilized. His fever stopped rising. Those leukocytes of his are terribly low compared to when he left a sample for StarLabs a while ago, but we don’t know if he’s susceptible to Earth viruses and bacteria anyway, so we don’t know how dangerous that is. His platelets are low, which is why he’s bleeding internally, but we can’t give blood because we have no idea how his body would react to human blood.”

“Stop.” She can’t listen to any more.

Dr. Klein looks at her, embarrassment and shame across his face. “I’m sorry, Miss Lane. I’m not used to live patients, and I’m definitely not used to talking to next of kin.”

Next of kin. She’s Superman’s next of kin.

And then she realizes that she definitely isn’t.

Jonathan and Martha Kent are Clark’s parents. They’re his next of kin. Of course, they can’t be seen at Superman’s hospital bed, having never met him publically, but—they need to know. She needs to tell them that what’s happening.

Dr. Klein’s beeper goes off at that moment, and when he excuses himself, Lois takes the chance to grab the phone next to the bed. From her wallet, she fishes out the number to the Kent’s farm, and quickly dials the number.

There’s no answer.

She remembers the busy phone line when she called Clark earlier, before she knew—everything. Are they on their way already? She’ll try again later either way.

Dr. Klein returns. “There. The latest blood samples. His platelet count is slightly better this time. Leukocytes are the same. Low erythrocytes, because he’s been bleeding and we can only fill him up with fluids.”

“But something was better?” Lois asks, grabbing onto what sounded hopeful.

“His platelets. They’ll help him clot so he won’t bleed so much.”

Lois nods. “So he’s starting to improve?”

“Starting to. He has a long way to go. And we still don’t know if his body will manage rinsing out the lead-covered Kryptonite—we don’t know what his internal organs look like, or what regeneration capacity they have. We suspect he his anatomy is a lot like ours, but we don’t know. His molecular structure makes it impossible for us to use our regular equipment—”

She holds up her hand, stops him. There is no use in knowing about all the things they don’t know. She’ll hang onto that little thing, platelets—those are better. Slightly. But still. ‘Slightly better’ is still so, so much better than the alternative.

“You should go home and sleep, Miss Lane. It’s likely it will take a while before anything happens here.”

“I can’t leave him.”

“You won’t do anyone any good if you’re so tired you can’t see straight,” he says with surprising gentleness. “I will call you the moment something happens.”

She looks at Clark. She doesn’t want to leave. Even if Dr. Klein calls as soon as something happens, if that something is bad, she might not make it back to the hospital in time.

But she knows she needs rest.

Reluctantly, she stands up. Squeezes Clark’s hand again. “Don’t die. Stay with me.”

And she leaves the hospital room.


She is supposed to be going home, but when the cabbie asks her where she wants to go, she gives him Clark’s address. As they drive, she reasons with herself that someone has to go there, because she broke the window in his front door and anyone can get into the apartment.

Lois wonders if Clark is hiding anything to do with Superman in the apartment. It would be a big problem if anyone found a suit in there, or something.

The door is unlocked when she gets there, and she lets herself in.

She’s not alone.

“Martha?” she says to the resting form on the couch. “Jonathan?” Clark’s father is sitting in the armchair.

They both wake from their slumbers immediately.

“Lois!” Martha says. “Where is Clark?”

Lois swallows. “He’s in the hospital. I tried to call you, to tell you.”

Jonathan and Martha exchange looks.

“Clark is in the hospital?” Martha asks, hesitantly.

Lois looks at her. She doesn’t understand Martha’s tone; there is something off with it. As though Martha knows Clark is in the hospital, yet isn’t sure at the same time.

And then it clicks: they don’t know that she knows.

“Superman is in the hospital,” Lois corrects herself.

“They’re… both sick?”

Lois looks at her. Surely they know? Clark couldn’t possibly have grown up with them and not have told them about his powers? Suddenly, she’s not certain. But a more close-knit family is hard to imagine, so she risks it.

“I saw him change. I saw him go from Clark to Superman.”

Martha looks at Jonathan, both chocked by her admission.

“I made sure Superman was the one who went to the hospital,” Lois continues. “It wouldn’t do for Clark to show up with Kryptonite poisoning.”

“You know.” There are sudden tears in Martha’s eyes. “Oh, Lois…”

She walks to Lois, and envelopes her in a hug. Her own mother has never hugged her the way Martha does now, warm and complete and so full of love.

“I’m so glad you know. I’m so glad you’ve been able to stay with him.”

Lois swallows hard. The images of Clark in the hospital bed flashes before her eyes. She wishes all of it had happened under better circumstances.

They pull apart, and Lois misses the comfort.

“How is he?” Jonathan’s voice sounds rough.

“There’s a doctor—Doctor Klein—he says Clark’s stabilized. They’ve tried some experimental treatment. Well, everything is experimental with him, isn’t it? It’s not like there’s anyone else like him…” She trails off, realizing she’s babbling. “Doctor Klein said he’ll call if anything changes.”

“Oh, Jonathan.” Martha takes two steps over to her husband. She looks small next to him, even though Lois knows she’s one of the strongest women she’s ever met.

She raised Superman.

“He’ll make it through,” Jonathan says. “Our boy is strong.”

“I wish you could be there with him.”

“We do, too, honey,” Martha says and squeezes her husband’s hand. “How are you handling things?”

Lois frowns. How is she handling everything? Has she been handling anything at all? It’s been about getting from one minute to the next. Surviving.

“It’s been… a long day.” She’s not sure she’s ever uttered such an understatement.

“You look exhausted,” Martha says. “You should go to bed.”

“Yeah. I was heading home, but… I went here instead.”

“I’m sure he won’t mind.”

Martha leaves Jonathan’s side to return to Lois once more, and with a hand at the small of Lois’ back, she steers Lois towards Clark’s bedroom. Lois has half a mind to protest—she can’t possibly sleep in his bed, can she?—but she’s so tired that the words never make it to her lips.

Martha locates one of Clark’s shirts and hands it to her. “I’m sure that’s more comfortable to sleep in than your suit.”

Lois looks down at the worn t-shirt. Clark’s shirt.

Sleeping in Clark’s bed, in Clark’s clothes.

The tears come without her permission. They run down her cheeks and one of them trails into her mouth, tasting salty. She grips Clark’s shirt tighter.

Then Martha is there. Lois wants to apologize, because Clark is her son and he’s sick, and if anyone should cry, it’s Martha. But she can’t get the words out, and the tears keep coming. Martha’s warm hand is on her back, rubbing circles.

“He just…” She has no idea what she wants to say. “I couldn’t do anything.”

“You were there with him.” Martha’s voice is thick, laced with pain. “You did what you could.”

Lois nods and wipes at her eyes with her fingers. She’s so tired.

“Go change,” Martha says gently.

Lois gets up mechanically and does as instructed. Clark’s shirt is soft and large, and it’s comforting to have something of his against her skin. It smells of him, and Lois closes her eyes and imagines him there with her.

Martha pulls back the covers of the bed. “Time to sleep.”

“Where are you going to sleep?”

“I slept on the plane.”

Lois wonders for a second if she should insist on Martha and Jonathan taking the bed. But there is a glint of steel in Martha’s eyes, and Lois knows that Martha won’t sleep now, anyway.

Lois lies down and pulls the covers up.

She thinks it’s going to take a while to fall asleep, but it doesn’t.


Chapter 3

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