By Emerald Shine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: A "therapy" fanfic that picks up at the end of the episode "Contact."
This is my "therapy" fanfic. As I read through the reviews for 'Contact' on the listserv, I realized that I felt worse about the episode than most of the FoLCs. I wrote this as an attempt to "work through my negative feelings for it". (Where's Dr. Friskin when you need her? <g>) This starts from the last scene of 'Contact', and continues as if it had never faded out.
Clark walked to her bedside, looking almost apprehensive. Lois sensed a fear about him, and noticed that he stood, looking at her, yet not. "Lois, I feel horrible about what's happened."
She was confused. _Why_ would he be feeling horrible? It wasn't that 'jinx' thing again, was it? She needed to reassure him. "It's not your fault... you saved my life."
"No. I got careless, maybe over-confident. No matter how bad a situation is, I always think I'm strong enough or fast enough to fix it."
Lois looked at her super-guy tenderly. He seemed so sad about something... she wanted just to comfort him. She knew what was wrong. "And you are. You saved a city-full of people from being microwaved like popcorn."
"But you still got hurt... I'm used to saving people, Lois, not getting them injured." So it _was_ the 'jinx' thing.
"You can't protect everybody all the time. That's impossible!"
"I know... that's what my dad said."
*And he's right,* Lois thought to herself. *You should listen to him.* She reached out her arm to him, a gesture to come closer, to _be_ closer. To let him understand. As he took her hand, she told him, "And we can handle this. You and I together can handle this. And I want to tell you something--"
Clark interrupted her. "Lois, I *need* to tell you something--"
Oh no. She wasn't going to let this end up like the disaster from a year ago, when she'd wanted to tell him she loved him. Lois was determined to make him hear her. "I know this isn't the best time or the most romantic, but--"
Clark wasn't listening, or maybe he was. He seemed to be in a rush to speak before she could. "Lois, I love you. I love you way too much to ever let something like this happen to you again. I know I can't control everything, but I can control people not using you to get to me. And so that's why I came. To tell you..."
"To tell me what?" She could feel the panic rising in her throat. She hoped she was imagining his tortured expression, hoped the concussion she had was doing strange thing.
"To tell you... to say... we--we just can't be together anymore, Lois. I'm sorry."
A million emotions flashed through Lois' expression, and ripped through her body. He couldn't have said that. _How_ could he have said that? They'd been through so much together, and now for this to happen. She felt her eyes begin to water, looked at Clark in despair. She could only hope that her eyes spoke more than words had.
Clark had to look away. He didn't think he could take seeing the tears fall, knowing that he was causing all this as well. He almost sighed with relief when he heard a cry for help. "I have to go," he simply said.
"Clark!" He continued to walk away. He didn't turn around, and for all his superpowers, the one sound he could not hear was that of her heart breaking, as he flew into the contradictingly bright and cheerful sky.
"Clark..." This time she whispered, as the tears rolled silently down her face.
For hours after half-heartedly rescuing an old man being harassed by a teenage gang on the south side of the city, Clark flew aimlessly around, searching for nothing, yet seeking something. He'd had a lot of time to think - just when he'd needed the distraction, Metropolis decided to become a peaceful city. Clark laughed bitterly at the irony of it all. Nothing seemed to be working for him, these days.
Without realizing it, Clark found himself above Centennial Park, where he'd proposed to Lois. He'd wanted so much for them, but how was he to know their future would be their end? Clark landed in the park, and perched on the edge of the fountain, arranging himself in the position of 'The Thinker'. If it was for their own good, he thought, why was he so miserable? Why couldn't things be simple for him? Would everything always be this difficult? Questions loomed upon him as he thought of his parents' happy marriage, and his conversation with them flashed back:
"Communication is key."
They'd talked. No, _he'd_ talked. And it was now Clark could vaguely recall Lois trying to say something - twice. What was it? It had sounded almost like she'd had... an answer? No... dear God, no. All he'd wanted was for her safety - for her never to be hurt by any of those bastards again. What he realized now was he'd hurt her far worse than any of one of those madmen ever could have. Tears welled up in his eyes as he thought of her confused and deeply hurt expression when he'd left. She'd called out his name, but he'd been too much of a coward to turn back. He didn't think he'd be able to take seeing the pain in her eyes, and he didn't want her seeing the regret in his. One look at her would have changed his mind, forever. She was so beautiful - inside and out. He didn't deserve her. Not when he didn't listen to her, or caused her to be physically harmed.
*It's better this way,* he thought, as he flew home. *For both of us.* But somehow, even as he landed, he couldn't quite make himself believe.
Lois had told Star to go on home, saying she was tired and wanted to get some sleep. If Star had used any of her mind magic, she wouldn't have found that information untrue. Lois was drained, physically and emotionally. She wanted to fall into the safe haven of slumber, where everything would be alright again, where happiness remained untouched. The state of unconsciousness was really the only constant Lois had to depend on.
*It's me. It's got to be me.* Lois wiped her eyes again. No matter how hard she tried, the tears wouldn't stop flowing. *Damn him!* she thought. *You walk into my life one day, and I tell you not to fall for me. Then the tables turn, and you tell me we can't be together anymore.* She watched as a tear dripped onto her blanket. The single splotch of liquid was the loneliest thing she had ever seen. *Two years ago, this would not have ever happened. And now I'm a mess. How did you do it?* she wondered. *How did you find your way into my heart, and how did you remain there? Why can't I let you go?*
Lois ached all over. She felt worse now than she had when waking up after the explosion. Her mind was fuzzy and her vision was blurry, though that could have been from the tears. With each passing moment, she found herself becoming increasingly more exhausted. Slowly, she lay down, resting her head on her pillow and pulling the blankets tightly around herself. Though to the touch, her skin was alarmingly warm, she shivered. As her eyes closed and she sank into dreamworld, she could only think, *So this is what a broken heart feels like...*
Clark dragged himself to work the next day. He needed something to concentrate on, other than being the guy in the cape. And he knew Lois wouldn't be there. If he had to look in her eyes, to see either deep pain, extreme hatred, or unsettling calmness, he'd lose it again. *Superheroes aren't supposed to cry,* he thought, reminding himself of children's illusions. But right now, he wasn't feeling so super.
He sat down at his desk, lost in thought. Try as he might, he could not get scenes from the last twenty-four hours to stop playing through his mind. The explosion, caused by his carelessness. Lois lying limply on the office floor. Her face, when he broke up with her. He exhaled defeatedly as he leaned back in his chair, typing aimlessly on his keyboard, without realizing it. He could tell he wouldn't be getting much work done today.
Perry approached without Clark being aware of his presence. He nearly jumped out of his skin when the managing editor of the Daily Planet spoke. "Uh, Clark? This is probably none of my business, but why does your screen say, 'paranoid idiot' all over it?"
Clark just looked at him sadly.
"No!" Lois was screaming. "Don't! You can't turn away! You can't leave me! Clark! Clark... Clark..."
Star walked into Lois' apartment. The girl may have sent her home last night, but this morning, for some reason, she had her 'feeling' that something may be wrong. Lois' mind was reaching out and sending her a message. "Lois?" she called out. There was no answer.
Star looked at the sleeping form in the bed. This was not a peaceful rest. Lois was weakly thrashing about, shivering, yet looking quite flushed. Star went over to feel her forehead. She was boiling! Lois halted for a moment in her movement, then trembled. Star tried to wake her.
"Lois, c'mon, wake up. You have a fever, and you should probably take something for that. You're having a bad dream, too. I can sense it. You want a nice dream, don't you? Just wake up..."
But she could not rouse her. Star tried shaking and calling and even setting off the alarm clock. In a last-ditch effort, she took some chocolate ice cream out of Lois' freezer, and waved it under her nose. Still, Lois would not, or could not, wake. She was caught somewhere before consciousness, and didn't appear as though she'd be conscious anytime soon. The only thing Star knew to do was call for an ambulance. As she picked up the phone and dialed, and as Lois was being placed on a stretcher, Lois kept mumbling, repeatedly,
"Clark... Clark... Clark..."
RIIIING! "Clark Kent," he said, as he picked up the phone.
"I know. It's Star," the normally cheerful voice said on the other end. At the moment, however, she sounded worried and frantic.
Clark's stomach flip-flopped. "Star, is something wrong with Lois?"
"Clark! You didn't tell me you were psychic too!"
"Oh, well, yes. Oh God, Clark! Lois... had to be taken to the hospital. That's where I am now. The doctors told me that she's having a bad reaction to something in her bloodstream. They say it was caused by an injection she had a couple days ago? That needle? They say it takes awhile for this stuff to take effect, and... she's really sick. She kept asking for you, even though she's not conscious. We're in room 3611."
Clark had gotten to his feet, and barely said, "I'll be right there!" before racing out of the Planet. He changed into the Suit, and changed back when he reached the hospital. Without stopping to think about it, he went into the hospital flower shop to get a bouquet of roses. After paying for them, he made his way to the stairs. Thankful that no one was using them at that time, he dashed up to the third floor, walked through a door, and headed straight for room 3611.
When he saw Lois, he wanted to cry. She lay in the centre of the hard bed, almost as white as the sheets. Her soft, dark hair was spread out on the pillow, and her facial expression remained unchanged as an I.V. dripped a fluid slowly into her body. He stared at her, not wanting to believe that the woman he loved was lying here unconscious, helpless.
Star walked over to him and touched his shoulder. "She's been completely unconscious since she arrived at the hospital," she told him. "The last thing she said was your name."
Clark walked to her bedside. He sat on the uncomfortable chair positioned there, not knowing quite what to do. What _could_ he do? Star seemed to read his mind as she said, "Just be there for her. She loves you, and you love her. She's confused by you, and entranced at the same time - we had a discussion about you over ice cream, you know. More than anything else, she needs you. She needs to hear your voice, and feel that you're here. The mind can sense much more than you'd imagine. She needs to feel that love is surrounding her. And she _did_ ask for you..."
Clark looked at Star gratefully. Right now, there was nowhere he wanted to be but here. Star left the room, saying that she had an appointment back at her apartment. Alone with Lois, Clark took her hand. What could he say? Would she even hear him?
"Hi Lois. It's Clark. I'm here, honey. I'm not going anywhere - I'm never leaving you again." Lois remained motionless, and Clark settled back into his chair. He was going to stay here until she woke up. The world could take care of itself.
As she awoke for the first time in twenty hours, Lois' eyes took in a nervous Clark, clutching a wilted bouquet. Tears filled her eyes as she tried to speak. "You... came." It was barely audible, but to Clark, the wonder and surprise in that statement rang louder than a sonic boom picked up with superhearing.
He didn't know what to do. He was so relieved that she'd woken up. He'd been so afraid that he'd... that he would lose her. But the last time they had talked - the last time he'd seen her while conscious - Clark had made a horrible mistake. He knew now, as he should have learned many times before, life was a precious thing. He recalled his words to her not-so- long ago. *Sometimes you think you're immortal. You start to think the people around you are too. It just takes a second to realize how wrong you are... about everything...* He could never live without her.
She mis-read his dazed expression, and inability to reply. She'd thought at first glance that he'd changed his mind over what he'd said. Judging from his unresponsiveness, she'd been wrong. Embarrassed, she looked away from him, and whispered softly. "Hi."
Clark found his voice. "Hi," he said. In that one simple syllable, Lois found herself questioning her conclusions yet again. There'd been so much nervousness, hesitance, fear... love. She felt him take her hand and lower his face to it. She felt the tears moisten her skin, and heard the sobs escape his lips. *He's crying,* she thought in amazement. The invulnerable man is crying.*
She gently touched his hair with her other hand, and he lifted his head. Carefully, he edged himself onto the bed, and lifted her a little until he could hold her against himself. Together, that night, they cried. They cried for all they would ever have, and all they may miss. They cried for each other... they cried for who they used to be. The tears were for joy... the tears were for their pain. As their tears mixed, they cried from love.
Some time later, Clark spoke quietly. "I'm scared," he admitted. "I'm damn scared of everything... the past, present, and our future. I'm scared that something will happen to you... I'm scared at what I feel for you. These feelings... they're stronger than me. I'm so afraid..." he trailed off.
"Me too." Lois snuggled closer to him. He stroked her hair, and she closed her eyes. "What are we going to do?"
The world did not stand still as she waited for him to speak. The cars kept passing and the machines kept humming, the stars kept twinkling, and that was fine with them. Everybody dreams of the perfect life, and of that one true love. Everyone wants it to be magical... Children dream it as a wonderful fantasy. Maybe that was alright for them, but the presence of everyday life surrounding them assured Lois that this was all real. What good were any of the impossible daydreams of what love should be, if they weren't real?
It was later, much later, when Clark finally spoke. "We can get through this, Lois. I know we can. I love you... we love each other. You made me think about so much... I... I... I don't know where to begin. So maybe I won't," he paused. "We can make it. And we'll do it... together."
"I alone love you, I alone tempt you, I alone love you, fear is not the end of this..." -- Live