Helen concentrated on the road ahead of her while she drove her car as fast as she felt comfortable out of Smallville. She didn't know why this was so hard. She had left men for much less that what Lex had done to her. He'd had her investigated, lied to her, stolen from her, and lied to her again when she'd called him on it. She forced herself to go down this mental checklist of wrongs he had done her every few minutes because her traitorous brain didn't seem to want to focus on them. All she could think of were the those little moments in their relationship that had made her love him more. Like the times he'd had dinner sent to her office when she worked double shifts. The way he would slide into bed next to her after coming home late from Metropolis and they would fall into amazing, dreamlike, sleepy sex. How he'd worked from home for weeks after her attack, taking the time to help her get around and clean and dress her wounds when he could have easily hired a nurse to do it.
"Damn!" She swore, shaking her head to clear the errant thoughts from it. She was doing it again. Why was it so hard to walk away from him after all he'd done wrong?
"Because you really love this one and you can't run away this time idiot."
Helen brought the car to a screeching halt. The voice couldn't have startled her any more if it actually had come from nowhere and not her own subconscious. She pulled her car to the side of the road and sat stunned as realization washed over her. She'd referred to her relationship with Paul as a "relationship of convenience," but really that's what all her boyfriends had been. On paper they seemed good enough. They were intelligent, successful and shared similar interests with her. But there had been nothing more than mutual attraction, nothing to keep her around after they screwed up, which was easy to do with her high standards. In the end she craved independence so badly that she wouldn't allow herself to need anyone.
But Lex had been anything but convenient. Aside from his obvious issues with trust, he had puked on her shoes the first time they'd met. He had a weird obsession with Clark Kent and the meteor shower. Dating him had made her a target not only for his father, but every cheap tabloid and rumormonger in the Kansas area. Any one of those things would have signaled the end of her past relationships. She'd stayed, because she loved him.
"Help me Helen." Now it was Lex's voice that spoke to her. "I don't want to become like my father."
Guilt replaced the anger that fueled her flight from Smallville. Did she really think things would be all better just because he had admitted there was a problem? A person couldn't change overnight. She had agreed to be with him, to help him and now here she was running away because he had screwed up and then owned up to it. Turning her car around, Helen steeled herself against the urge to run away yet again, knowing she'd regret it if did. She only hoped Lex hadn't cancelled the wedding plans yet.
As they boarded the plane Helen's stomach was in knots. During her residency she had gone on a paramedic ride along that came to the aid of a downed private plane. Until then she'd only been a nervous flier, now she was positively terrified at the idea of boarding a private jet that was very similar to the one she'd seen as a mass of rubble a few years back. She supposed she should have mentioned it to Lex but he had been so determined to give her the perfect honeymoon and she wasn't about to put a damper on his plans. Besides it was embarrassing to admit that a grown woman who could overcome a brutal attack couldn't stomach a simple plane ride. Helen spied the champagne chilling almost immediately and filled the two glasses while Lex went to talk to the pilot. A little alcohol would make it easier to relax and enjoy the start of her marriage.
"To our new life," he said lifting his glass.
She wanted to respond with something touching, witty even silly would do. But the sound of the engines powering up filled her with such of sense of dread all she could do was smile back at him mutely.
"What's the matter?" he asked immediately concerned. God she had to get herself together!
"Nothing," she smiled brightly. "Everything's perfect." She lifted her glass to his and took a sip. Realizing she would need to calm herself down a lot more if she were going to make it through the whole flight she took a deep breath and downed the rest of the glass in one gulp. She saw Lex looking at her with a mix of concern and amusement. Clearly her "everything's perfect" facade hadn't lasted two minutes.
"I get...nervous on planes." Helen's cheeks felt warm and knew she was blushing. "It's silly, I know." She set down her glass suddenly feeling incredibly stupid.
He responded by catching her hand in his and kissing her palm. "The only thing that's silly is you not telling me sooner. I could have made other arrangements." Letting go of her hand he picked up her abandoned champagne glass and refilled it. "Try and relax, we're perfectly safe. Besides, I don't know about you but this is the first chance I've had to unwind in weeks and I'm exhausted." He finished his own champagne, leaned back in his chair and loosened his tie.
She smiled at him and drank her second glass almost as quickly as she had her first. "I love you Lex."
"Love you too, Hel," he murmured, already half asleep. He hadn't been kidding about being exhausted.
Helen wished she could sleep but the alcohol seemed to be heightening her anxiety rather than relieving it. She stood up and paced back and forth in the cabin. Her heart and her head seemed to be pounding in unison and it seemed like there was suddenly not enough air in the room. Her body was drenched in a cold sweat. Helen realized she was having a textbook panic attack.
"Everything's fine," she told herself softly. "You're safer in here than you are in a car." She repeated this in an almost mantra-like fashion as she made her way to the bathroom knowing that a cool rag on her face and neck would do wonders to calm her frazzled nerves. It was tough going as she was now having dizzy spells to go with her other symptoms. Thank God Lex wasn't awake to see her in such a state. Helen gripped the edge of the sink to maintain her balance and as her stomach flip-flopped over and over again she realized she was going to vomit. Deciding that her need for open space wasn't as great as her need to puke without an audience she closed the door and locked it behind her. She tried hard to focus her mind and remind herself that everything was okay, but it seemed to be a losing battle and it wasn't long before unconsciousness washed over her. Her final thought was that that this was no panic attack and something was wrong with her.
Then she was floating in a gray fog. The hum of the engines was now soothing, like white noise. Every sound seemed to be coming from a hundred miles away. Someone was calling for "Mrs. Luthor" and it took her a moment to realize that they meant her. Somebody was pounding on a door.
"Mrs. Luthor!" More pounding.
"Relax, I saw her go staggering in there a few hours ago. She's completely out of it."
"She was walking?! He said they'd be so tired after the wedding that it would hit them before they knew anything was wrong."
"Well it's definitely hit her now and soon it won't matter what she knows. Let's go, there's not much time."
They were very rude to be talking about her that way. And if she could have she would have told them so. But her body seemed to be unable to do much of anything. Fortunately the gray fog was quite comfortable. After that there was the sound of rushing wind which reminded her of her father and his disgusting habit of smoking cigars in the car.
"Daddy, shut the window! It's freezing!"
Eventually he did and it was quiet for awhile. The steady drone of the engines eventually sputtered and cut out and some distant part of her brain knew that this was a problem, but she just couldn't worry about it while she was so comfortable.
"Helen?" Lex was calling her. She should answer. She should tell him it was okay; she was definitely relaxed now.
"Helen!?" He was worried. She tried to answer now but couldn't quite manage to make her mouth do what her brain told it to. Lex was smart. He would find her.
Consciousness came back to Helen with a sudden crash and pain shooting up her arm. She lay stunned for a few moments trying to take in her surroundings. She was on the plane, in the bathroom. She had fallen or something and her wrist felt like it was broken. But something was very wrong. Shaking her head to clear the cobwebs she realized what it was.
She was lying on the wall.
Horror washed over her as she realized water was rushing in under the door. They had crashed. The plane had crashed and Lex was out there!
"Lex!" She screamed his name trying hard not to become hysterical. She reached for the door with her good arm meaning to open it and get to her husband. Helen called for him repeatedly recalling with sudden horror the carnage from the last plane crash she had been at. The door unlocked but refused to open. It was jarred shut from the impact. As panic set in Helen screamed Lex's name over and over again throwing all her weight against the door despite the pain it caused her broken wrist. Water was filling the cabin and though she kept trying to push her way out, she became more and more certain with every passing second that she was going to die.
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