By Perri Smith
Summary: A story that takes place within the episode "And the Answer Is…" After Superman has frozen Lois to take her to the meeting with Jason Mazik, Lois awakens in limbo and has a conversation with H.G. Wells.
Author's note: this was written in the hour and fifteen minutes right after "And the Answer Is." Therefore, if you have problems with it, blame Bob Singer, who brought me to this point, and Teri, who became Lois and let me inside her head.
This contains MONDO spoilers for "And the Answer Is." Don't read this until after you've seen it. Comments/compliments/flames welcomed/enjoyed/ignored at firstname.lastname@example.org, at least for a few more days.
it's a wasteland, foggy and cold; so cold i can feel it through to my bones. i'm freezing cold.
no. i'm warm. or the cold has stopped mattering. i'm not sure. i've been cold for so long, i might not even notice anymore. it doesn't matter, the cold's gone now.
where do i go from here? everything looks the same. but one edge of the fog looks…lighter — it's as good a place to go as any.
"I don't think that's the way you want to go, Miss Lane."
i know that voice. "Who's there?"
he's a small man, with a cheesy black mustache and a gentle smile. i've never seen him before…have i?
"I know you." it's not a question.
"Yes. We're old friends, you and I."
it comes back so slowly. odd, remembering things i didn't know i'd forgotten. "Mr. Wells?"
"Of course." that gentle smile again. "Who else would it be?"
"But you can't be here. You're in the future. And I'm…" where am i? what am i?
"Time likes to play tricks, Miss Lane. You should know that. I am here. so are you."
i start to reach out, to touch him, but i stop, suddenly afraid. "Am I dreaming?"
"Not precisely." he takes off his glasses, polishes them. "I'm afraid it's a bit difficult to explain."
he smiles again, with mischief. "Ah, that's better. That's the Lois Lane I was expecting." he replaces the glasses carefully. he reminds me of a teacher in..college? high school? the thought slips away. i guess they didn't matter much.
"You see, you are in what is known as Limbo. It's where people go when the universe hasn't quite decided what to do with them. Your friend, Clark, was blinking in and out of here when we last met."
i don't understand. "What do you mean, hasn't decided what to do with me?"
"How much do you remember?"
i try to think. it's so hard. "Clark. I remember him. His face … so worried. His hand on my cheek, right before he … no, wait, that was Superman. But it felt like … " i give up. nothing makes any sense.
"It does make sense, if only you remember."
"Are you reading my mind?"
"Not precisely. But I know what you're thinking. You're not that hard to read, you know, despite the trouble Clark has. Neither of you are very good at hiding your emotions. It's a wonder Clark's succeeded in this charade as long as he has."
charade? clark? "What charade?"
the smile is gone now; he's suddenly serious. "You know what I'm talking about, Lois. You've known for a long time. Now you have to face that knowledge. If you can, it will show you the way out of this place, if you choose. If not… well, I can be of little help to you."
he starts to fade away. i reach out for him, fear forgotten in panic. "Don't leave me!"
he smiles. like the cheshire cat, the smile stays with me after he is gone.
i try to think. it's so hard. too hard. the light is so beautiful. maybe if i were there it would be easier to think maybe i could go there just rest for a minute …
mr. wells said i had to think. it's so hard. but clark wouldn't give up.
clark? charade? something is nagging at me, at the back of my mind. voices, from before. my voice. clark's.
"He wants you dead. In thirty minutes. Or he's going to kill my parents."
"It's Nigel, we got too close."
"I want you to get out of town, get on a plane, get as far away from…"
"Everything's going be all right."
no, that's not it. not quite. something else.
damn! it's so frustrating. think, lane, think.
voices again. mine and clark's…no, superman's. isn't it?
yes. superman. i remember.
"Lois, you could die."
"Yes, I could die. But Clark's parents *will* die unless we help them."
still my voice. i hardly recognize it.
"Please, Superman you haven't seen him, You don't know what he's going through. He needs me. And I have never needed you more than I do right now. You just can't turn me down. You can't."
"If anything happens, tell Clark that I love him."
"He knows. But I'll tell him. Close your eyes."
he reached up. touched my cheek. just like clark.
"The way you just touched me…"
"Close your eyes."
he touched my cheek. just like clark.
and one more voice. i'm sure who it is this time.
"Lois, I'm super…"
no. that's not what he said. i can hear it now; i couldn't before. or wouldn't.
"Lois, I'm Super…"
not super-late. super … man?
of course. mr. wells was right, i knew it all along. two loves … only one man.
"You see. I knew you could figure it out."
somehow, i'm not surprised he's back. "Why didn't you just tell me?"
he looks serious, even when he's smiling, i wonder how he does that. "You could only hear it if you were ready to. You could only hear it if *you* said it."
the hurt is starting to break through the shock. "Why didn't he tell me?" i didn't know my stomach could hurt like this. i didn't know my heart could hurt like this. hurts so much. "How could he not tell me. I thought he loved me. He said he loved me." even i can hear that i sound like a child.
"That's a question you'd better ask him. If you want to."
"Want to? Of course I want… " the light is getting brighter. i hadn't noticed until now, now that it is shining through mr. wells. it's so beautiful. i hurt so much, everyone hurts me. always. i don't want to hurt anymore. "What's happening?"
"It's time for a choice."
"What choice?" but i know.
"You can't stay here." he's explaining it to me. i try to listen. but it hurts so much. "You can go forward, into the light. Or you can go back."
the light — i could go into that beautiful light. no more pain no more dark no more alone no more wondering.
it's getting warmer. i can hear another voice now. i know it. as well as i know my own. it could be my own. Come on lois come back to me fight lois come on fight.
no more clark.
there isn't really a choice. i look at mr. wells — he's still smiling. i smile back, then he raises a hand to me and goes into the light. i don't watch. i have somewhere else to be right now.
Warmth, covering my body.
warm lips touching mine. breathing life in. i've felt them before, so many times. not often enough. his voice, calling me back. showing me the way.
Don't you die on me lois now come on, don't give up! Come on, breathe, Lois breathe!"
Then, I can. It hurts, at first; I choke. His arms are there, holding me against his chest, against the shining emblem of who he is. Who he will always be. I rest against him. Already, the visions are starting to fade, along with the face. Who was it?
But one thing remains, because I knew it before I went in. And I know whose arms I'm in. Who loved me enough to bring me back to him.
"Heard you calling. Heard you calling."