By Emerald Shine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: A story, written in first person from Lois' point of view, that picks up after the episode "Big Girls Don't Fly." Part 1 of a two-part fanfic series called "Un Ete de Souffrance," or "A Summer of Pain." (The sequel is "Don't Dream It's Over.")
This starts the first of a two story fanfic, the "Un Ete de Souffrance" series. For those who don't understand the French language (or at least, not the Quebec French that we learn here in Ontario <g>) it translates to "A Summer of Pain." Thank you kindly to Nancy Lemieux for helping/confirming the phrase. :) This is written in first-person — Lois' P.O.V. If this story doesn't seem like an 'in-character' Lois, just leave it at what the finale gave me to work with. I'd like to note that while this and the fanfic following with it "Don't Dream It's Over" are two separate stories, they should be read together. I suppose they all could have been one story, but with this first one, I was trying to set a mood, first and foremost. Don't be discouraged with "Dust In The Wind" — read on to "Don't Dream It's Over." Then, send feedback! <g> Even flames, cos I've got my trusty All-Purpose Fire Extinguisher 7000 handy… ;) DEDICATION: To Kelly Feenstra, my best friend, and "twin" (clone <g>)… a late birthday present, since "Big Girls Don't Fly" missed your birthday…
I thought my world was ending. The sensible part of my mind would have told me that was what a fool believes — a self-pitying one at that — but my sensible half had left me hours before, along with all of my heart and the man I loved. The latter two were pretty much the same thing, which might explain why I was hurting so badly. I was sitting alone in a love seat made for two, lost in a world I could not face. I'd been sitting there for hours; so many, I'd lost count. My mind was cloudy, yet I knew I'd been brought there by Martha and Jonathan Kent. I had been too despondent to say anything to them, but it only added to my grief to know that they, the parents of my fiance and soulmate who was now light years away, were able to take care of me, while I was having problems grasping the basic concept of breathing. In all truth, I'd started hyperventilating in the Daily Planet newsroom, of all places. But then, I wasn't in control.
I should have been prepared for something like this to happen. Things had been going too well. I should never have assumed Fate was done with me, Lois Lane, and my partner, best friend, and soon-to-be husband, Clark Kent. I should have known Destiny didn't want me to become Lois Lane Kent. I should have guessed that members of the Kryptonian race — which at one time, it was thought Clark was the only survivor — would come for him. Should have realized that Clark was so wonderful, he must be Lord Kal-El of the House of El, and was married to Zara, meaning he must go rule over a forsaken chunk of rock in the sky. Right? God, it all sounded like a fairy tale gone horribly wrong. If only that's all it was.
I clutched my pillow tighter, willing it to transform into my flesh-and-blood fiance. I willed the softly playing radio to become his voice. I willed myself to be in his tender embrace, never to be let go…
The tears streamed down my face. I'd been doing this all night. God only knew what time it was now. My head was ready to burst, from all the emotional confusion it held. As I'd done countless times already that night, I tried to clear out my mind. I listened to the radio, attempting to make sense of the song and match it with a title. Dust in the Wind. *That's right, Lois. Mind on the song. Mind over matter…* It was then that I heard it.
"Lois…" Not a spoken word. I heard it, felt it, in my heart. Clark's voice and love. Could it be? Gasping, I stood up and slowly approached the window. I hoped he'd be waiting outside for me, but I knew he was far up in the sky, galaxies away. I gazed into the mass of tiny lights filling the dark expanse beyond, each one seeming as fragile as my shattered heart.
I heard his voice again. "I love you." Trying to be brave, I smiled. It was a smile of pain, of longing. It was a grimace of loss. Distancing. Words from a year ago echoed through my mind, and wrenched my heart:
*"My therapist — I know, I have a therapist, can you believe it? — she says that I say things like that to distance myself so I don't actually have to deal with anything…"*
New Krypton, so far off in the sky, had become blurry. A lone teardrop rolled down my cheek, falling unnoticed to its splattering death. A teardrop of absolute aching and emptiness. It was a lonely teardrop, for there was no one there to see. The man I'd trusted with my heart and soul had been ripped away, leaving me torn and bleeding. I felt physical agony, as if I could die at any moment. And, if truth be told, I thought I might be better off if I did.
I was going numb again. Staring at the accusing light of New Krypton, the very universe seemed to glare back. On auto-pilot, I forced the feelings back. I couldn't handle my emotions, yet I wanted to feel the pain. I loved Clark too much to deny the feelings that raged within me, yet it hurt too much. Too goddamn much.
I had to turn away. I wanted to turn my back on reality. How would I go on? Pacing my apartment, not even realizing I was on my feet, I knew I had to sort through everything which had happened. But where would it all end? Most of all, where could I begin? I stopped in front of a cardboard box. Inside, the contents showed most of my life from the past three years. Our life. This box had been for Clark, yet I hadn't been able to bear giving it to him, nor had he been able to take it away. I reached inside. There, on top, lay his sweater. Slowly, I pulled it out. It was soft and warm, almost comforting. Like him. I put it on, and it smelled like him. Oh God, it was almost as if he was there with me. If only that could be.
I laid myself down on my bed, curling into a tense, emotional ball, with the blankets pulled up high. At first, the tears just trickled. I thought of how we could be planning our wedding right now, had this not happened. If he hadn't gone, maybe we could have eloped. Maybe this would have been our wedding night, and instead of lying here alone, I'd been in his arms. The uncontrollable sobs racked my body. They almost turned into dry heaves. Damn him! *Why did you have to leave me here, Clark Kent? To suffer in silence, and to put on a mask. I can't do it… God, I can't do it…* I trembled violently. *But how is it, no matter how hard I'm trying, I can't blame you?*
I close my eyes Only for a moment, then the moment's gone All these dreams Flash before my eyes with curiosity…
Tomorrow was going to bring more cruel reality and deadly pain, I knew. I could only hope that tomorrow would never come.
Tomorrow came, all too soon. It was probably already there when I'd finally gone into fitful unconsciousness, not that the thought was any more comforting. I didn't want to get up. I had no desire to get out of bed, no desire to live. Yet, I had to. I had to go to work, had to report on the reactions of Metropolis the day after Superman's exit. I had to put on a facade of life being wonderful, keeping up the story that Clark was just away on assignment, and pretend I was as happy as could be, not suicidal. Whoever could have thought three years ago that at this moment, I'd be this emotionally and spiritually attached to a man, that I thought I'd be better off dead than living without him? A supposedly independent woman, needing someone to survive? Three years ago, if anyone had told me that I would have had them in a straight- jacket, locked away in a padded cell. Now, facing the first day without Clark there, made me want to shrivel up and die.
I did get up that day. I put on Clark's favourite outfit of mine — the blue suit I had worn after our "almost first date," and his favourite perfume, "Vanilla Musk." I wore the necklace he had given me for my birthday — a gold chain with a gold heart, which contained a tiny diamond on the inside of the heart.
*"This is my heart,"* he had told me, *"and you are the diamond I hold within."* I almost started to cry again. My eyes, however, were far too sore. I walked over to my night stand drawer, opened it, and pulled out a pair of eyeglasses. I hadn't worn them in a long time, but I knew I'd need them for reading today. That is, if I could concentrate.
I arrived at the Daily Planet at my usual time, and as was routine, poured a cup of coffee with trembling hands. By some luck, I managed not to spill the scalding liquid all over the place. I went to my desk, greeting co-workers along the way. I did nothing with any amount of energy or enthusiasm, that was asking too much. I had just sat down to face the day's work when my boss, Perry White, stepped out of his office.
"Good morning, Lois. Guess it will be a little strange without Clark around for a month, won't it? Well, I have heard that time makes the heart grow fonder, not that you two need it…"
Yes, maybe time did make the heart grow fonder. But the possibility of him being gone forever, only caused mine to break.
It had been a month since Clark left. I woke up alone, depressed, and aching, per usual. No matter what Jonathan and Martha said, no matter what I told myself, time was not doing anything to ease the pain.
I'd prayed he'd be back by now. A month was a long time when spent not knowing if the only man I'd ever truly loved was dead or alive. How much longer could I take it?
Same old song Just a drop of water in an endless sea All we do Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see…
I wept quietly. Suddenly, my stomach lurched. Bolting out of bed, I raced to the bathroom, bee-lined for the toilet, and threw up. My stomach was empty, however, yet I continued to heave. Ten minutes later, physically, mentally, not to mention emotionally drained, I collapsed into a heap against the cool wall, not having the strength to stand up. It was that position in which Martha found me, three hours later.
"Lois!" The older woman was at my side in a flash. "Oh God, honey, you can't stay like this." As she helped me to my feet, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. What I saw was grim. My face was pasty white, and eyes puffy, with the darkest circles I'd ever seen. I had lost weight, probably much to the dismay of Martha, who always insisted I was too thin to begin with. I looked like a skeleton, not that I really cared much. I didn't feel too positive, so why take care of myself?
"Oh, Lois… c'mon sweetie, we've got to get you back in bed." Wearily, I managed to stumble there. Martha covered me with a blanket, then went into the kitchen to prepare some food. At the smells of the food cooking, I groaned. My stomach churned.
She brought the food to me, helping me sit up and forcing me to eat it. Within minutes, though, everything was coming back up. Finally, when I stopped getting sick, Martha laid me back down, placing a hand on my forehead.
"Feels normal," she murmured. "Lois, how long has this been going on? The nausea and vomiting, I mean."
I had to think for a moment, and the effort exhausted me. "A couple of days."
"Have you seen a doctor?" She asked the question, though the answer must have been obvious.
"I want you to see your doctor. I'm going to make you an appointment, all right?" Though it was not high on my list of a fun way to spend part of a day, I nodded.
My doctor was free for that afternoon, so Martha took me to Dr. Michelle Davis' office. Dr. Davis examined me, then sat down to talk about the results. She asked if I wanted Martha there to hear, and I simply nodded. She had become my strength. Dr. Davis called Martha into the room. We sat down across from the doctor.
Martha spoke first. "What's wrong with Lois?"
The doctor looked at me, then smiled. "Well, there's nothing wrong, unless you consider pregnancy a bad thing. Judging from the examination, I'd say you're about a month along…"
I nearly passed out. Pregnant? *But it was only once… oh lord, no…*
Dr. Davis broke into my frantic daze. "You should schedule a checkup for a few weeks from now. Pre-natal care is very important."
I barely heard her. Martha touched my arm, thanked the doctor, and proceeded to lead me out to the car. How could this have happened? It was only once, the night before he'd left. He'd come to my apartment, both of us trying to keep ourselves in control. There had been so much pent-up emotion. Clark had told me, that in his heart, he was my husband.
*"And I'm your wife…"* I had said, tearfully.
We'd walked over to the window and Clark had pointed out New Krypton. The light had shone bright in the sky. Almost as if it could see all that was happening on the third rock from the yellow sun, the planet called Earth. Like it was waiting for Clark; its saviour, Kal-El.
We'd kissed. It had grown deeper. It had gone far before, but we'd been waiting, then. We'd had all the time in the world, still having not learned the lesson that time waits for no one. Yet now, in our hearts, we had married, each beat exchanging a new vow. It was our "wedding" night, and the last night we'd have together — maybe forever. Forever was a long time. That night, all the love which was missing from New Krypton had flood into us, and we'd made love. Still, we wept, now knowing everything we had, and all we'd never have. We'd held each other close that night, and talked about the next day.
We'd both realized that Clark couldn't just leave without a reason — not after the hell we'd been through for the past few months. We needed to somehow get Perry to send Clark away on assignment, where it would be easy for him to "disappear" without a trace, and allow me to be publicly upset, eventually. The next morning, before he'd given his announcement as Superman, Clark had arranged to see Perry. He'd concocted a story about an undercover government operation in South America that a source had given him a tip on, and he'd wanted to check it out. Of course, Perry asked, "What about Lois?"
Clark had said that with all we'd been through over the past few months, that we needed some time apart to sort out our thoughts, then we'd begin to plan the wedding. Perry couldn't argue with that, as he wanted to see his two star reporters together and happy. He'd told Clark to be on assignment immediately after he covered the reaction of Superman's announcement, whatever it was going to be. He could phone in the public's reaction to me, then board his plane. He was to be gone for a month.
It had been easy to act lonely, like separation was hurting. Perry thought that everything was working out perfectly. We missed each other so much, that he wouldn't have been surprised if we eloped when he came back.
Of course, we'd both been hoping he'd be back within the month. Today was the day Perry had him due back for. I'd hoped I wouldn't have to put the second part of the charade into effect… the disappearance. Clark wasn't back by today… oh God, what if he never came back? What if the child now growing inside of me never knew its father?
It amazed me that I could cry during the ride home. I'd shed so many tears in the last month, I was surprised I didn't dehydrate into dust.
Dust in the wind All we are is dust in the wind…
We stopped at an intersection. For the first time since leaving the doctor's office, I spoke. "Martha, what am I going to do?" I didn't wait for an answer. "And what if Clark's child grows up never knowing him? What if…"
The light turned green. Martha spoke sternly, while driving. "Lois! What if your child doesn't live, because of all your worrying and self-neglect? You are not healthy right now! You've got to stop beating yourself up over every 'what if'!"
I looked at her. "You probably hate me now, don't you? Not married to your son, pregnant with his child. My God, it was only once…"
She pulled up in front of the apartment building. "Lois, don't even think that. In my heart, you are married to Clark. You are family, and I couldn't love you more if you were my own daughter." She hugged me, and we got out of the car. We entered my apartment, and I sat down on the couch.
"I still don't know how I'm going to do this, Martha. I mean, I know Clark wanted children, but I was always apprehensive. Right now I'm scared to death! I didn't have much of a family, growing up, but Clark insisted that together, our family would be wonderful. And now, he's not even here!" I started crying again, feeling the tears before I could stop them. Hell, I felt like a fountain.
"Lois, it will be all right."
"How can it, Martha? How can you really believe that? Clark may never know his child — that is, if I can carry a child who has some Kryptonian genetics to term — and I'm all alone. I have been for a month, and every day I have to wonder if he'll ever be here again."
"Lois," she said forcefully, "you are NOT alone. I'm always here for you, and so is Jonathan. What I think would be best for you is to take a leave of absence from work, and just come out to Smallville for awhile. You need to get away from here, Lois. You need time out, where you can express your true feelings with nothing to hide. You need to let go, for your sake and the baby's."
She was right, I knew. The next morning I went to see Perry.
"Lois, sweetie!" he greeted me, concerned. Did he notice that Clark wasn't there? "How are you feeling? I've been worried, it's not like you to call in sick."
"Well, I needed the sick days," I said weakly.
"And Clark was scheduled to come back last night, wasn't he? I'm surprised to see you here, unless you came to tell me that you're taking off for two weeks to go and get eloped…"
"Perry, we really need to talk."
He saw how serious I was. We went into his office. He shut the door, and gestured for me to sit down.
"Uh no, thanks, I think I'll stand for this." I was pacing the room, wringing my hands. Finally, I stopped, and looked at him. First would have to come the lie.
"Clark has disappeared." Perry looked so stunned that I decided to immediately launch into the rest of the story, hoping he wouldn't question it. "Apparently, he never made it on the plane that was to bring him home. I was up all night, making phone calls only to find out that he's vanished without a trace."
I was crying now. In an unusual show of affection, Perry hugged me. "It's all right, darlin'," he said gruffly, in the southern accent that could sometimes be so soothing, "we'll find him."
I knew that Clark could never be "found", but show up if he could, but of course, I couldn't say that. Instead, I burst into hysterics. "Perry, I'm pregnant!"
He didn't know what to say to that. Suddenly, he seemed to feel the need to sit down. It was a long while before he spoke again.
"Well, normally I'd say 'congratulations,' but that's not exactly what you want to hear, now is it?" He attempted a smile, one that died quickly. "Lois, I know this has got to be rough. If there's anything I can do…?"
I let the moment hold for a bit, before answering. "I've been thinking about this, and I think I need to take a leave of absence. I want to go out to Smallville, and spend some time with Clark's parents. I think for about… six weeks?" I looked at him again.
Perry nodded. "I think that sounds reasonable." I knew this wasn't easy for him, running the newspaper without his two star reporters. He stood up. "Go home and pack your bags, Lois. I'll pray for you and Clark every night. You take care of yourself, okay?"
"Okay," I whispered. I left his office, and went to my desk. I turned off the computer and gathered my things, then headed for the elevators. I was on the first flight out to Kansas along with Martha and Jonathan, that evening.
There was a lot of time to simply wander about and think, out there. There were, of course, curious neighbors, but the story to them was Clark was away on assignment and I just wanted to spend some time with my future in-laws. They all knew me, anyway, and accepted me quickly. I didn't go into town much, though, because I knew my voice and expression would reveal my sadness and pain. The last thing Martha and Jonathan needed was gossip about trouble between their son and me.
It was difficult at first, being in the house where Clark grew up, sleeping in his room and seeing his belongings, and watching the empty space at the dinner table where he should have sat. There were times when the tiniest things, like the sight of a wildflower and remembering a happier time where Clark would have picked it for me, set me off. Still, somehow being with Martha and Jonathan relieved some of my depression, and made day-to-day living a little easier.
The time which I spent alone was the hardest. Walking through the fields knowing Clark should be with me, holding my hand, teasing and tickling me, and grinning that special grin he reserved just for me. I walked through that field, yearning for his touch, needing to see the sparkle in his eyes. I ended up walking directly to his old tree house, "The Fortress of Solitude." It sounded like a place I needed to be.
As I sat by myself, away from the rest of the world, I became afraid. Afraid I would start to forget all the little things I loved most about him, frightened that the memories of our happy times together would fade into oblivion, just months after they came flooding back to me. Amnesia of a different kind.
So don't hang on Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and sky It slips away And all your money won't another minute buy…
I put my hand on my abdomen, over the life growing inside of me. Our child — my one link to Clark, the one being that I hoped could keep my memories of Clark alive.
*Oh God, Clark. Come home soon… please…* Dust in the wind Everything is dust in the wind…
THE END of "Dust in the Wind"
"Don't Dream It's Over" to follow…
BTW, all these characters (except for Lois & Clark's unborn child) belong to DC Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions, yada yada yada. The song "Dust In The Wind" belongs to Kansas. (the group, not the state :)