By Laura Schulak (Mskrypton@aol.com)
Summary: Clark has just spilled his big secret to Lois, and she is not amused. Their irritation with each other notwithstanding, she could sure use some help when faced with a ticking bomb.
Note — please excuse any lapse in action, as the focus of this story is romance. It takes place right after Clark tells Lois he's Superman.
"What?" She asked, not completely sure she had heard right. "What did you say?"
"What I said," Clark said gently, "is true."
"I said —"
"Yes, I know what you said," Lois retorted, the realization finally hitting her. "I can't believe you lied to me like this."
"Lois I didn't lie to you … not exactly," Clark said, trying to ease the surprise of what he had just told her.
"Well what would you call it? Let me guess: selective sharing."
"No, don't say it. Just don't say it. I've heard just about enough excuses from you, Clark. Superman. Whoever the hell you are. How many other secret lives do you have? Clark Kent by morning, Superman by afternoon, and Zorro by night?"
"Lois, please try to understand. Superman is not a person. He's a disguise I use so I can help people without endangering …"
"Without endangering people like me?" Lois interrupted. "Well, forget it. You're a little too late to protect me from getting hurt."
"I'm sorry I hurt you."
"How stupid did you think I am? God, I can just see it now. All the times I swooned over you when you were Superman and then told you off as Clark. You must have been laughing the entire time at how stupid I was. It takes a lot to pull one over on Lois Lane, and I have to hand it to you, you did. Congratulations. You won."
"Listen, Lois this isn't a game. It never was. This wasn't some scheme I devised to see if I could trick you. It was a way of protecting myself and those that I love."
"You know what you are? You're a two faced, backstabbing, pathetic attempt at a super hero. I don't want to hear any more lies from your spiteful mouth. Please leave."
"That was a low blow, and you know it," Clark said, stung by her words.
"I said get out."
With that, Clark stormed out of the room and slammed the door so hard it shook.
Fifteen hours later, Lois was trapped. Tied to a chair, she sat staring miserably at a red clock that was counting down the minutes left until her death.
How do I always manage to get myself in these predicaments? She wondered to herself. Just routine crime investigations always land me in hot water. Lois had been working on a murder investigation, and she was getting close to solving it when the murderer had struck first and kidnapped her. It wasn't the first time something like this had happened, but it was the first time she felt completely alone and scared. Whenever she had been in this predicament before, Clark had been with her or near her or knew where she was. She hadn't spoken to him since she threw him out last night. Where is Clark when I need him? She thought without realizing it. Please come, she thought. Please, please come she prayed silently in her head as she watched with detachment the red numerals decrease. How could I have been so stupid? To let him go, after all he meant to me. And how could I have been so blind? Well, not that that matters now …Two thirty left on the clock. Oh, if he didn't come soon, I can never tell him… and he deserves to know …I shouldn't die without telling him once, completely and honestly, how much I love him …how much I've always loved him … how much I still love him.
She stared at the clock. A minute left. She watched it count down. Fifty-nine, fifty-eight, fifty-seven…
Suddenly in a whirl of blue, she was untied and sprung from the room. In one super quick motion, Superman had dismantled the bomb and saved her.
"Cutting it a little close?" Lois asked acidly, all her courage of a moment ago lost.
Superman — Clark — stared at her. Then he flew away without a word.
There was a tentative knock on Clark's door. Soft, weak, and unsure. He walked towards the door slowly, and opened it to find Lois standing timidly on his front doorstep.
"Can I come in?" He nodded.
"I'm sorry about today," she said softly.
He said nothing. She continued, "It's just that — that you make me so angry sometimes. You can drive me crazy! And I was sitting there today, waiting to die, and I realized how much I value you."
"Value you to save your life, you mean," Clark retorted sarcastically.
"Look, I didn't come here to argue. I came here to talk."
Lois drew in a deep breath. "Sitting there, I realized how much I love you. I wanted nothing else than to tell you that. But when you actually came, I got scared, and panicked, and pushed you away. It's another way of hiding from you, and I don't want to do that anymore.
"Clark, I love you." There was a pause. "I've always loved you. But I've had such a bad past and never really could trust people. Getting close to people has never been my strong suit. I couldn't let myself get hurt by falling for you. When you first moved here, I saw you as an easy target. 'Hacks from Nowheresville' always are, you know.
"Then Superman came along. He was so easy to fall for. A perfect man can never hurt you. But it was you all along. I was in love with you, but was too afraid to acknowledge it. Loving you as Superman was another way of protecting myself."
"What about Lex?" Clark asked. His faced still looked stern, but his voice was gentle and there were tears in the corners of his eyes.
"I was going to ask you the same thing, but since you asked first, I'll tell you. I never loved Lex. I hope you know that. When you told me you loved me, I got scared, and didn't know how to respond so I distanced myself again. And I turned to Superman, who was you, and he rejected me, for reasons I now understand. So I just said yes to Lex. Since I didn't love him, he couldn't betray me, so I felt safe. I'm sorry; I know how much it hurt you. When I was walking down the aisle, all I could think of was you, and how much I wished it was you waiting for me."
Clark nodded. "Your turn. What do you want to know?"
"With Lex, why didn't you just tell me? If you told me as Superman, I would have believed you."
"Lois, I couldn't. You wouldn't have believed me, not after I turned you down. I wanted to tell you everything, but I didn't see how without telling you who I was. And I didn't want to do that, because I wanted to know if you really loved me. I didn't want you to start dating me just because I'm Superman. I wanted you to love me as much as I love you."
"So that's why you didn't save Lex?" she asked. "To save face with me?"
Clark shook his head. "Do you really think I'd let someone die to save myself? I don't know if you know this, but Lex and I were in an ongoing battle. The day of your almost wedding to him, Lex had caught me in a cage with kryptonite bars. I managed to just barely escape. When Lex dove to his death, I was too weak to save him."
"Oh, god I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I ever talked to that man. I can't believe he hurt you like that." A pained expression crossed Lois's face.
Clark smiled. "This isn't about Lex. That's in the past. We have to worry about the present."
Lois looked at him. "Why didn't you tell me you were Superman as soon as we started dating? Why wait until now?"
"I was so scared of losing you. I knew you would be hurt by it, and I didn't want to do that to you. But I knew I was hurting you even more by running out on you and coming up with cheesy excuses. I couldn't keep lying to you, because that hurt much more than telling you. Whatever happens, I'm not sorry I told you."
"I'm not sorry, either, Clark." She smiled at him, and grabbed his hand.
"You know what we are?" she asked.
"A bunch of scaredy-cats. We're both too afraid for our own good." She looked at him. "I once told you that I like to dive in without checking the water level first. Well, I'm sick of standing on the banks watching. It's time to take the plunge."
"Only if I get dive in right next you."
And with that, they kissed. A simple yet complex, innocent yet guilty, passionate yet stabilizing, all encompassing kiss that said everything that needed to be said.