By Pam Jernigan (ChiefPam@nc.rr.com)
Summary: Clark wants to tell Lois the whole truth, but she wants to tell him why she's no longer interested in Superman. A romantic revelation story, and a continuation of the episode "And the Answer Is…"
(Thanks to Steve for help with the title, and to Wally and Dave for inspiration they didn't know they were giving me.)
"Will you marry me?" Clark waited nervously for Lois's response. He couldn't remember ever feeling as vulnerable. She slowly lifted her eyes from the ring he was holding to his face. Her expression was hard to read, but he thought he could see confusion, surprise, and.. disappointment? His normally unperturbable stomach clenched a little tighter.
"Clark… this isn't what I expected. I don't know what to say."
"Say yes, Lois. You know I love you, and," he dared to add, "I know you love me." He refused to add the customary lie 'Superman told me'; Clark was sick of lying to her.
She searched his face for an endless moment, then seemed to come to a decision. She half-smiled. "Yes, Clark, I'll marry you." She laughed a little. "Actually, I've been meaning to marry you for a while now."
Clark froze for a moment, almost unable to believe his good fortune. Then he felt a smile spread across his face. As she smiled in return, he reverently slipped the ring onto her finger. Then he got up and sat next to her on the edge of the fountain. She turned to face him, and they erased the distance between them in a gentle, soul-healing kiss.
He wished they could stay there forever, but he felt her shiver. He reluctantly ended the kiss, and started to come to his senses. He hadn't told her yet that he was Superman, and he really had to. She'd probably be angry at him, and he hated to ruin their present rapport… but it wouldn't be fair to put it off any longer, and it probably hadn't been fair to propose before he revealed himself. He sighed. With two hard conversations ahead of him, he'd been selfish, and chosen the easier one first. "Lois, there's something else I have to tell you…"
She looked at him through narrowed eyelids, and then smiled. "Nope, sorry, you've had your turn. It's my turn now." She stood up, and extended a hand to him. "Come on, I'll drive you to my place, and we can get dry."
Clark consented to be lead out of the park. He didn't really want to reveal himself in public anyway, you never knew who might be watching or listening. He promised himself he wouldn't put it off any longer than that, but the guilty knot in his stomach wasn't appeased. "So, what were you thinking about?"
"I was thinking about Superman, Clark." She saw him wince, and she chuckled. "It won't be as bad as you think, I promise. Come on, get in the car."
He climbed in, and turned as far as he could to face her. She slid behind the wheel and set them in motion, watching the road.
"So. You know I was pretty infatuated with Superman. I mean, it would have been hard to avoid, right? But somewhere in the last two years it dawned on me that he's not real. Well, I mean, he's a real person, but not a real prospect. No one could build a future with him, not in any normal sense."
Clark wished he could take that positively, but it only worried him. Lois continued, apparently not needing any input from him.
"Superman just… flies in, does something heroic, then flies off again. You just can't build a real relationship on that — or even on those few dinners I pretended to cook for him."
Clark's worry edged into anger. "Does that mean that since you couldn't have your first choice, you're settling for me?"
She did look at him then, concerned. "No, not at all! I finally realized that you are the first choice! You're real. We're partners, we're friends, and once I started looking at you, I liked what I saw, OK?" She watched him closely until he relaxed, and tried to apologize.
She waved it off. "I should have known you'd worry about that, and been more careful. Anyway, what I was saying is that even if I could have married him, what would I have gotten? He's got lousy hours and a dangerous job. I mean, he's hard to hurt, but it has been done. He's every crook's favorite target, and they've targeted me, too, just for being his friend. That could only get worse if I were married to him."
Clark closed his eyes in despair. He'd been afraid she'd only love him as Superman; would she now refuse to love him because of Superman? "Lois, you're a strong person. I'm sure you could deal with all that…" Oh great, thought Clark, now she's hearing me plead Superman's case; she'll really think I'm nuts.
As they pulled into her parking garage, he forced himself to look at her again. She was smiling a serene smile. "Well, I suppose. But for what? I need a real person. I need you."
She pulled the car into her space, turned off the engine, and turned to face him. Her smile had vanished, leaving behind a serious face. "Clark, I love you. I think you're wonderful. You're patient, kind, generous, decent, sincere, and a long list of other good things. Plus you put up with me," she let some humor creep into her voice, "and I know that's not always easy. Because of all that, I want to marry you." She paused, as Clark reached out to caress her face. She reached up to hold his hand to her cheek, and smiled a mischievous smile. "Because of all that, I can put up with Superman."
She laughed gently at his dumbstruck expression. "Don't even try to deny it, Kent. You've been caught. Now, come on upstairs with me — I've got lots of questions still." She slipped out of the car, and was halfway to the elevator before he could recover his wits and catch up with her.
Clark laughed for sheer joy as he caught her up in an exuberant hug. In his wildest dreams he hadn't thought she'd react this well. He twirled her around, and didn't even realize that they were hovering a few inches off the floor until she laughed and told him to cut that out.
Much later, they were lying cuddled on the sofa. Lois sighed, and said "I know you'd been working up to telling me for a while… that's what I was expecting at the park. And it's what you should have done, too, _before_ you proposed." She slapped him lightly on the arm, and he grinned, too confident now to feel chastened.
"Lucky for me you'd already figured it out, then."
She returned the grin. "Well, after all, Clark, what do you think I am, galactically stupid?"