By Carla Humbert (Beverly9.aol.com)
Summary: To save their relationship, Lois and Clark do what they do best — write. Each writes a letter to the other.
When Clark Kent got home from his job as a reporter for the world famous newspaper "The Daily Planet" that night, he wanted nothing more than to put on some sweats, make a sandwich and lose himself in tonight's basketball game. He needed to tune himself out for a while and let his mind quit spinning in that all too familiar circle Lois-Superman-Clark-Dan-Lois-Superman-Clark-Dan-Lois.
Lois had left work before he had. In fact, she left without him noticing. Lois just got up and left without ever saying goodnight or even making sure Clark knew that she was still mad at him. Clark didn't blame her. She had every reason to be upset. Twice that day at work she had tried to tell him something, and right at the exact moment his super- hearing kicked in and he had to run off leaving her looking confused, hurt and furious. Once he left to save an elderly woman who had fallen down her stairs, and to fly her to the hospital. Then he had to go rescue a group of teenagers who were trying to race a train to a railroad crossing. He wanted to give each of those kids a good old-fashioned-Jonathan Kent- out-back-to-the-woodshed-hurt-for-an hour-(and he was Superman) spanking. Being Superman, of course, he couldn't do that. He gave them a good impromptu speech about responsibility involved with driving a car. He was a little heavy on it because he was not only mad at the reckless behavior but with the fact that this lost him another chance with Lois. He knew he only had so many of those chances before she quit listening to him at all.
His excuses for leaving were as usual, hurried and weak. The first time he insisted he forgot he promised to call his mother and answer a question she had asked earlier. The next time he ran out he said something about having to get to the bank before it closed. The reasons sounded bad to him as well as to Lois. Clark kept meaning to think up very good reasons for bailing on a possibly intimate conversation and keeping a list of them. He always hoped that it would quit happening with such frequency, and he wouldn't have to make excuses. No such luck so far.
He quit his daydreaming on his steps and opened his door. He went inside and before he could make it to the light switch he felt himself step on paper on his floor. Clark leaned down and picked up a white envelope. One word was scribbled across the surface. "Clark" He knew it was from Lois, immediately. She must have left the Planet so quickly so she could beat him here, and slip this under his door. Suddenly his basketball game and his dinner were forgotten, breathing was almost forgotten as he closed his door, clutching the envelope. He was holding it so hard he felt it start to turn to dust. Quickly he released a few degrees of pressure on it. It would not go over well, if he had to tell Lois that he meant to read the note, but destroyed it before he could! Still wearing his slacks and jacket, not even loosening his tie, he sat down on his sofa. Without wasting time turning on his lights, he opened the envelope. His heart beat harder, what would he find inside? Taking a deep breath he began to read. Curbing his habit, when alone, to super-speed-read, Clark read the letter slowly as if he owed her the time.
"Am I dear to you, Lois?", Clark asked to himself
Suddenly I realize that if I want you to hear what I have to say, I will have to write it to you. I am a writer, it's what I do and how I earn my living. Now I can't ever remember feeling so unsure about how to form sentences and be heard from a page. I need you to hear me, Clark, and I am getting tired of needing it.
Clark looked up for a second. I hear you. I hear that pain in your voice and I hear the fear in opening yourself up to me like this.
If you put this paper down a hundred times during reading it, and find other things that need to be done at this moment, I won't know. The paper will be waiting right where you left it. I can't say how much longer I can just "hold that thought" as you keep telling me to as I see your back rushing away from me through a door. Mostly what I want to talk about is my lunch date with Daniel.
Clark looked up again and focused on the window. He wanted to fly to her. He didn't want to hear about her date with Scardino. If he hadn't run out on her, she never would have gone out with him. When he had gotten back from the idiotic teenagers and asked where Lois was, Jimmy seemed to take no joy in telling that she had taken Agent Scardino out for lunch. When she had gotten back from lunch she seemed happy, even relaxed. They didn't speak to each other for the rest of the day. No more jobs for Superman came up during that time, either and Clark wondered if it was some cosmic force to drive them apart. He wanted to go and talk to her, but knew if he did, Superman would be needed elsewhere and he would have to run. He lowered his eyes again to the page.
I went out with him partially to show you that I could. That if you could rush off, so could I. During our lunch I realized that he wasn't leaving while I was talking. So I started to put down my defense of knowing my date was going to jump up at anytime and say, "I'll be right back, I forgot to floss!"
Clark scowled. "I never said I had to go floss! I at least tried to come up with good excuses." A little voice in Clark's head echoed back with, "That's not the point, now, is it?"
So I started to talk to him, and I kept talking to him and it was great. I told him so much about me he must have wondered if he had opened the gate to my soul by giving me rocky road ice- cream. I talked about my job, school, family, dreams and I talked about you Clark. I didn't plan to, but he asked if I was still planning to see you and I had no answer. I said you and I just had bad timing and every time I needed to talk, you needed to be doing something else. I said that I am no longer surprised when you pick a particularly sensitive moment to run out. Dan said he thinks you can't handle commitment and that's why you are always running away.
"Oh, is that what DAN said?" Clark spat.
Finally I realized I had spent the entire meal talking about me! I am in the business of grilling people for details about their life and here I completely monopolized the conversation with details about my own! Finally I was the one who jumped up and said I had to leave. He promised next time he would tell me anything I wanted to know about him.
I'm not trying to hurt you, Clark. I just needed to tell you that when you go, you hurt me. I thought we might have a future, but I'm starting to wonder if I can keep "picking up where we left off". It felt good to have someone sit and listen to me talk without seeing the need to bolt. It was a feeling I could get very used to. Clark, when I am with you, everything is put ahead of me. Lois Lane is the least important thing on your mind.
Just the opposite Lois, you couldn't be more wrong. Clark didn't want to read anymore, but he kept on.
I want to feel important to the man whom I decide to love. With you I feel in second place right behind a first-place tie for EVERYTHING ELSE IN METROPOLIS. I'm not deciding anything right now. I just had to finally tell you all of this, finally is the keyword. Do with this information what you will. If you never want to mention it, I understand. If you want to talk about it, you will not leave in the middle of our conversation. If you do, I am not going to try anymore. Clark, you are the nicest person I know. You are the greatest partner I ever had. You are my best friend. I feel something with you that no one else does to me, even Dan. I think about our first kiss every night. You scare me, Clark Kent. I feel so strongly about you, and about us, that I don't know what to do anymore. I do care for you, very much, and I need you. Thank you for getting to the end of my letter
Clark felt he was going to cry. It sounded so different from Lois. She sounded so formal in this medium. Without her usual flip attitude such pain poured forth from that letter. She bared her soul to him and she might be waiting at home to hear from him. Possibly, she might be out to dinner with Dan. He had no idea where she was. He sighed deeply, a few times, instead of crying. He read the letter again, this time with speed. He did notice that Lois didn't use 2 certain words in her letter. One was "love" the other was "Superman". Now, how to respond?
Lois had the right idea; maybe a letter was the best way to respond to a letter. That way he could say everything he wanted to her, and not have to know her reaction at the moment. The way she did for him. Clark got up and turned on his lights. He felt weak. He felt tired and not in control. Lois was thinking of turning to someone else, someone who wouldn't run out on her every day for reasons she didn't know. He roamed around his apartment as if looking for a place to start. He was no longer hungry and he didn't want to turn on the TV. Clark wanted to write back, but was scared to start, not knowing what to say. Maybe if I just get out the paper and a pen, I will be that much closer.
Clark looked at Lois' letter in his hand. Plain white computer paper. Quick, scribbled, but it still was legible. Legible, possibly, only to him. Clark rifled through his desk and found some ivory stationery his mother had sent him, encouraging him to write letters. He never saw the point, he could fly home quicker that he could write to his parents! The paper helped, taking out a rich, heavy sheet of paper helped him think, helped bring him one step closer. Next he found a good fountain pen. Suddenly this pen was the most important thing to him. This pen would relay his feelings to Lois. He clutched it too tightly and it exploded. Ink splattered all over his shirt. Great, his good blazer. He didn't care about it for more than a second.
Finding a new pen took an almost urgent frenzy in him. He tore the desk apart looking for one. It was either dull pencils or cheap pens that had no desire to write for him. He was a reporter, and he had no pen. This took on the aspect of a nightmare. X-ray vision took him around his kitchen looking in drawers and cupboards but no pen. In frustration, Clark slammed his hand down on the counter. A depression in the counter top was formed by his fist. The tremor along his counter caused a pen to roll loose from under his toaster. He grabbed it and scribbled on the pad by the phone. It wrote! Yes! Clark looked at the pen casing. "Start your day with the Daily Planet!" An advertisement. Strangely fitting, he thought. In one mighty shove, Clark pushed everything off his desk and sat down to begin, ink stained jacket still on.
Clark sighed. It was a good start. He was following her lead, but not pushing. He wanted to put, To the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, the focus of my dreams. That however, might be a bit pushy.
Your letter made me really think about what I put you through. I feel so bad about leaving you abruptly for reasons that, seem to you, to be, meaningless and annoying. You have to believe that I never mean to hurt you, and if there was a way around what I need to do, I would use it. I do feel bad that you went out to lunch with Agent Scardino. That is my own problem and has nothing to do with you needing to be with someone who makes you feel good.
Clark didn't like where this was going. It sounded like a damn Hallmark card. He was not going to start over, however. Keep writing. Just keep writing.
Lois, you are the most important person in my life. From the first moment I saw you, I knew I had to be a part of your life. It is a need as much as my needing to breathe. You are what makes it possible for me work and think about tomorrow. You are not in second place with anything. I can see how you think you are. I'm going to risk telling you something that I maybe should have told you a long time ago. Be that as it may, it's the past and can't be changed. Now I will give you some information that will change your future.
Clark took another deep breath. Here goes… But as much as he wanted to tell her, he couldn't just hand her the answer, she needed to find out on her own.
Lois, I need you to use every bit of your famous intuition. I need you to be a reporter and tell yourself what I haven't been able to. Sit down and think about when I leave and why I leave. Not the excuses I give you, but the circumstances going on around me at the time, some you've noticed, some you haven't. You know the answer. You just need to piece it together. Really think about me and let your mind find a path that strings all of my hasty departures together. I care about you and I want you in my life. My life is very complicated and you may not want to be in it. This is the longest conversation we have ever had. I'm sorry you aren't here. Write back, call me, come over but please don't drop this. I need to know how you are taking this. I want to ask you not to see Scardino right now, but I can see you would find that none of my business. Waiting for your response
Now, how to get this to her. Clark Kent showing up on her doorstep wouldn't be good. He probably could sneak up to slip it under her door, but what if she saw him there? It would be awkward. He needed a messenger. With another sigh, he reached for the cape. This was a job for Superman.
Lois sat at her window staring up into the night sky. She figured Clark had to have read her letter by now. Now she was just trying to decide what to do next. Dan had offered to take her out for dinner, but she knew that she was too distracted to be good company and had begged off the date. If Clark called, what would he say? If he didn't call, what would she do? "Come on, farmboy, make a decision," she muttered aloud.
Suddenly in front of her was a flash of red and blue, right before her face. She jumped back from the window seat falling to the floor.
Superman was instantly in picking her up. "Lois, I am so sorry! You are never sitting right in the window like that."
"I'm fine, you just startled me."
Superman just looked at her for a moment and the said, "I can't stay, I'm just here to give you this. A friend of mine asked me to deliver it."
Lois took the folded sheet of stationery and looked at it silently.
"It's from Clark Kent."
"I figured that out. I just wondered why he didn't want to bring it himself."
"Had something more important to do." Lois interrupted him.
"No, not at all, I can tell you for a fact there is nothing more important in the world to him than having you read that."
Lois looked up at Superman. "Do you know what is going on, with us?"
"What do you think I should do?"
"I can't answer that Lois. You need to find out for yourself."
"Oh, Superman! Could you love someone who ran out of the room every time you wanted to talk to them?"
"That would be very hard." Superman said quietly. "I would hope that the times they didn't run away made up for the ones where they did."
"Thanks. If you don't mind, I want to read this now. Usually I'd ask you to stay, but, tonight I can't."
"I understand. Good night, Lois."
As he started his ascent, Lois yelled after him. "Superman!"
He stopped and hovered looking down to her. "Yes?"
"If you see Clark, tell him…"
"Tell him what?"
"Tell him, hi." Lois couldn't think of anything else.
Superman just smiled at her and flew off into the night.
Lois sat down on her couch and opened the folded sheet. She began to read.
After finishing that letter she felt tired, as if she had been running all the way home from work. She didn't want to think anymore, much less use every bit of her intuitive abilities as Clark was asking her to do. Maybe an ice-cream break? She went to her freezer and opened the door to reach inside and grabbed a pint of ice-cream she had picked up on the way home from Clark's. Chocolate. Just chocolate. While spooning it into her mouth, she leaned against her counter and thought about Clark. Why did he leave? He didn't want to seriously talk about their relationship, was her first guess. She let her mind expand, why would someone often have to leave the room, suddenly and without obvious reason? Poor bladder control leapt to her mind and made her giggle. No. Clark has to have some hell of a reason if he thinks the excuses he comes up with are making sense! She took the ice cream back to the living room and sat down. Reaching for her trusty notebook and a pen she began to make a list.
Why does Clark need to leave the room NOW?
1. Poor bladder control.
Lois couldn't help it. This little bit of meanness toward Clark helped her focus.
2. He has an awful disease from all that traveling he's done and has to take medication every time he feels it kick in.
3. He has one of those vibration beepers that buzz silently instead of beep.
a. why have a beeper at all?
a1. Clark traffics drugs.
a2. Clark has a hooker waiting for him.
4. Clark is under a subliminal suggestion to abandon the conversation at the word "relationship".
5. Clark wants to keep Lois so distracted, he can scoop all the stories.
6. Clark is schizophrenic.
Lois felt better putting things in lists. It was a reporter's trick to scientifically organize your ideas. Most of the suggestions were ridiculous.
Could he be sick? Maybe he did have an actual medical problem that demanded immediate attention. No, Clark never even has the sniffles, never has a cavity, never has a pimple. If it wasn't for his glasses, she would swear he was superhuman.
Clark also told her to think about "when" he ran out on her.
"Whenever I get ready to tell you something!" Lois said aloud. She tried to think beyond herself. When? Usually in the news room. Was it just from her, did he run out on conversations with others, too? She had, come to think of it, seen him jump up and run out of staff meetings, much to the annoyance of Perry. Also, he seemed to be missing from the most exciting moments. Gunman in the Planet, traffic accidents, robberies, in fact, Lois realized that Clark seemed to disappear from view every time things got hot. She was always the one to get all the info at the scene, while he came back later saying he had left to call the police, check a license number, tail a suspect or phone Perry.
Lois leapt to her feet. This was big! What did Clark want her to see? Why couldn't he just tell her? Lois knew why. It was something she should have figured out long ago. What wasn't she seeing? Why did Clark have to leave whenever things got rough? He was a coward? No! Not Clark, he had saved her life a number of times. She had seen him do things that should have killed him, but he seemed unafraid. Clark needed to disappear at the first sign of trouble so he could plan a sneak attack? Now she was getting silly.
"Okay, Lane" she said to herself in her reporter voice. "Turn the tables on this. You are this guy, Clark. You have to drop everything and leave, no matter what is going on, whether you like it or not. You have to leave when things get dangerous, even if you can come back later. You have to hurt people's feelings in the process because what you have to leave to do is so important. You have to make up stupid excuses because what you are doing is so secret that your closest friends can't even know. What is it!!??"
Lois spun around in circles in frustration. What happens when things get intense? Guns come out. Clark didn't seem to be afraid of weapons, even though Lois knew he didn't know how to use them. Police show up. Could Clark be a criminal? Could this life of his be a lie? No, he would have been carefully checked out by the Planet before he was hired. Something else tugged at her mind. At every crime scene, every accident, Superman showed up.
Lois stopped spinning and whispered. "Oh no, it's Superman. Isn't it?" Clark seemed to time his departures along with Superman? Why would he leave from seemingly normal conversations? To go where Superman was? Come to think of it, Clark always had the best Superman stories and interviews! Lois had always assumed Superman showed up on Clark's window at night the way he did hers. What if it was more than that? What if he chased Superman down? A Superman junkie? How would Clark know where Superman would strike next while he was on a stakeout with her or at a staff meeting? Maybe he really did have a beeper. Maybe he was working with Superman! Superman got the publicity and Clark got the fabulous stories. Could Clark have some type of psychic link to him? Could Clark KNOW where Superman was going to land next? Were they working together?
Clark wouldn't do that to her, would he? They were partners. No, if he had the inside scoop to Superman, he would tell her about it. The way she told Clark about her visits with Superman.
Finally she realized that ice-cream and frantic detective work was no longer effective. She needed to call Clark. They needed to talk. She reached for the phone.
Clark sat in his living room and stared at his phone. He knew she was home, or at least she was when he had left. Has she finished reading his letter yet? The phone rang.
"Hello?" please be Lois.
"Hi, Clark," her voice was quiet but very tense.
"How are you? I didn't see you leave today."
"I wanted to get that letter to your place before you."
"Did you read my reply?"
"Yes, it's been driving me crazy. I think I'm close to the answer."
Clark took a deep breath. She was close? She hadn't figured it out.
"Clark, can you come over?"
"Yes, I'd like that."
Clark decided that he wouldn't go as Superman. This was a job for Clark Kent.
Clark knocked on Lois' door. He had taken awhile to get there. On the way he stopped two muggings and gotten a cat out of a tree. Each change into Superman and back into Clark he had wondered if he was ever going to make it to Lois'. Since he was late anyway, he took a brief detour to a greenhouse he knew of in India. Now, he stood before the door in full Clark wear, holding a rare orchid the exact color of a blue summer sky.
Clark pushed the door open. Lois was sitting on her couch, facing away from him.
"Hi Lois." Clark wondered if he should go sit next to her.
As an answer, Lois waved him forward not looking directly at him.
Clark sat down and looked at the notebook page opened in front of him. It started off as a neat and ordered list but deteriorated into scribbles and drawings of Superman. It took him a second to make heads or tails of it. "Poor bladder control? Schizophrenia?"
"I'm a reporter, Kent. I leave all possible paths open." Lois almost smiled.
Clark handed her the flower and reached out for the notebook. He turned it up and down looking at it each way. Some of what she had made sense. She had him in a partnership with Superman, but was so close to the answer.
Lois gasped at the flower. "Clark, this is so beautiful! I have never seen anything this color before. Is it dyed?"
"No, an old friend of mine grows them. He owed me a favor."
"Well, Partner, how close am I to the answer?"
Clark looked right at her and smiled. "Closer than you think."
"Then give me the final step! Are you working with Superman, behind my back?"
"In a way, Lois. First I want to say something. I love you, Lois. I need you to know that before I can give you anymore answers."
Lois focused on the flower. She was surprised at how easy that was to hear, as if he'd said it to her many times before. It sounded natural to respond, but she couldn't. She couldn't in the middle of all of this. "I just want to know why you have to run out to meet Superman every time he goes to help someone. Can he work without you once?"
"No. Lois, look at me."
Slowly, she lifted her eyes to his. Clark removed his glasses and set them on the table. Lois looked into his eyes for the first time without his glasses. She stared deeply into the eyes she knew so well, and she had her answer.
"Superman?" she hoarsely whispered.
It all made sense to her now! The running out, the vague excuses, the times he should have died, but didn't and many other circumstances she was never able to explain. All the time, Superman was Clark and Clark was Superman! Her mind reeled. "Why didn't I ever see it?"
"Lois, why would you possibly suspect that Superman was only me?"
"Does Perry know?"
Clark shook his head. "Only you and my parents."
"Your parents? How do they deal with all of this?" Lois's mind was still in shock.
"My mom and dad are wonderful. They are so supportive. Mom made the outfit, by the way. She is very proud of it."
At that, Lois laughed. "I can imagine she is. It's only the most famous costume in history! Too bad she can't file for a patent."
"Lois, are you okay?"
Lois looked into Clark's eyes, even without the glasses it was still Clark. "I should be furious, I should be terrified and I should be ecstatic."
"And you are…?"
"Lois Lane. A reporter. I want to know everything about you. I want to know all the things you go through during a day being Clark and then having to be Superman. How many times a day do you go back and forth?"
Clark thought about that. He was not expecting this line of questioning. "I'm not sure, I don't count, I just go."
"No kidding, Superman. You have the most abrupt exits!"
Clark grabbed both of Lois's hands in his own. "I am so glad you know! I have wanted to share this with you."
Suddenly Clark stopped talking and listened to something Lois could not hear. "I have to go."
"Now? What's wrong?"
"Gunfire, somewhere over on the east side."
"How do you know it's not someone target practicing?"
"I just know. It's trouble." Then suddenly in a blur of red and blue, Superman stood in front of Lois, poised to fly. "It's easier not having to make up an excuse!"
Lois stood in slight shock at the quick change. "Wow! Neat trick, how do you do that?"
"Hours of practice in the fields of Kansas." Superman leaned forward and kissed Lois quickly on the lips. "I do have to go, but I'll be back, Lois."
He was gone out of the window with that familiar snap of breeze, leaving Lois to ponder what she learned. There was no cheese of the month club, no videos to return, no change to put in a parking meter. There was someone in trouble and Superman was on his way to help. "I'll be waiting, Sup…Clark. I'll be waiting." Lois felt a part of greatness. She could write about it, but she didn't want to write about it to the world. She wanted to write to Clark. That's how this began and she wanted it to continue. Taking out a sheet from her notebook, she began.
Dear Clark, I love you too.
There was more to say, but that was the most important.