By Jana Lippe (SuzyZoo@aol.com) or (Jana.Lippe@huntcol.edu)
Summary: A story that begins in the middle of the second-season episode "That Old Gang of Mine," just after Clark is shot by a gangster and "dies." Perry gives Lois a shoulder to cry on, and she confesses a secret.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story is begins with a novelization of one of my favorite scenes from "That Old Gang Of Mine", and continues from there. It is my opinion that Lois has been in love with Clark for a long time, but didn't realize it herself until The House of Luthor. Her love for him has grown since that discovery, though she kept it to herself. I wanted Lois to finally voice her true feelings to someone. **denotes thoughts***denotes emphasis*
Lois Lane wandered into the Daily Planet newsroom, a thick veil of sorrow surrounding her. Instead of her usual professional attire, she was dressed notably casual, donning a dark blue sweater and sweatpants. Her usually bouncy hair lay limply about her shoulders, attempting to hide her tearstained face. She sighed heavily and widened her eyes, trying to look calm as she bypassed her own desk and headed towards Clark's which now stood unoccupied, his belongings still gracing the desktop in light of his recent death. Lois slowly eased herself into Clark's chair as Perry approached.
"Lois?" He said questioningly, his voice resonating with concern. "You didn't have to come in today."
Lois exhaled noisily, and rested her chin on her folded hands. "I couldn't stay home," she told him helplessly. "I just kept thinking about Clark.lying there." Lois shook her head slightly. She had spent the hours since Clark's death attempting to wipe from her mind the agonizing image of her best friend falling backwards to the ground, followed by the agony of seeing Capone and his gang drag his lifeless body away. A soft sob of heartache washed over her. "I just feel like it was all my fault he was killed," she said quietly through her unshed tears.
Perry's heart plummeted. The old news hound had such a soft spot in his heart for his top reporter, who over the years had become like a daughter to him. He'd had no idea that she was taking her partner's death so hard, let alone that she'd been blaming herself for it. He vowed to put a stop to her self-incrimination. "Oh, honey, you can't blame yourself. You had no way of knowing what was going to happen." He assured her in his fatherly tone, desperate to support her in her time of grief, regardless of his own feelings of bereavement.
Lois shook her head slightly but surely, unwilling to let herself off the hook so easily. "No.he died trying to protect me," she told Perry. Lois felt so terribly guilty about that fact. If only Clark hadn't tried to stop Clyde from harassing her. If only she hadn't dragged Clark down to the club in the first place. She *knew* that the legendary, ruthless, dangerous criminals were on the loose, likely to show up at the club, yet she persuaded Clark to take her down there anyway. It was all her fault.
Paralleling the guilt of Clark's death was the guilt of never having voiced her true feelings to Clark. Her emotions surged as she thought of all the things that had been left unsaid between her and Clark, of all the things that they had yet to experience together. She thought that she had no tears left to shed, yet she began to weep once again. "In one.lousy second," she began as she looked Perry full in the face, "I lost my partner. And my best friend" she breathed helplessly, her heart spilling over with tears.
Perry could hardly stand to see the heart wrenching pain that was so evident on Lois' face. She looked so completely devastated, so lost and lonely. Perry lowered his eyes as suddenly the realization of the importance of one of her lost conversations with Clark hit Lois with a vengeance.
"He died without ever knowing," she mused, lowering her head. Raw emotions swelled within her as she chided herself for never speaking out, never making him listen. "I never told him." She said with a strained calmness.
Her words piqued Perry's curiosity, and it was all he could do to keep from probing her further about her musings. Instead, he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, rubbing her back consolingly. "Honey, you want to go grab some coffee or something and talk about this?" He asked gently, careful not to pry, but to give her the opportunity to open up and express any thoughts and feelings that she wished.
Lois was all prepared to wave him away and drown in her anguish when she suddenly realized that talking to Perry was exactly what she needed at that moment. If she couldn't be with Clark, she needed to at least talk about him with someone, and Perry had always been a good confidante. She blinked back the tears and looked back up at Perry with the vulnerability of a child. "Thank you, Perry. I.oh.." she breathed. "That would be really good." She managed to say, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand.
"All right then. Let's go." Perry kept one hand on her shoulder as she rose to her feet and together they walked over to the elevator.
Lois inhaled the calming scent of her coffee as she took a sip. The hot liquid warmed her insides, though it had little effect on repairing her damaged heart. She looked up at Perry, who sat across the booth from her, and tried to block out the familiar sounds of the diner where she and Clark had spent many hours, grabbing breakfast or lunch as they pored over research for a story.
**Maybe coming to such a familiar place was a bad idea,** Lois thought to herself. **There are so many memories of Clark here.** She drew a breath but found it accompanied by unknown tears. She put her cup of coffee down on the tabletop and massaged her temples with her fingertips.
Perry took one of her hands in his and squeezed it.
She closed her eyes and sighed. It was time to tell him. Lois opened her eyes and stared at the rich brown liquid in front of her as she spoke. "Perry.I have to tell you something. Something I should have told Clark before he died. Something I should have told him a long time ago. Something I *tried* to tell him months ago. Something."she trailed off, realizing that she was babbling, a habit she had tried countless times to break herself of, but never quite succeeded because she suspected that Clark found it endearing. She drew another breath and began again.
"Perry, I never told Clark this, but I think that.I was in love with him." She said quietly as a single tear slipped down her cheek. "I know I was in love with him," she whispered with a slight catch in her voice. She winced at using a past tense. Her heart was having a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that Clark's life was over.
Perry managed to keep his smile under control as his suspicions were confirmed. He had often wondered if there wasn't something more than friendship between his two star reporters. The chemistry between the pair was phenomenal. He had known from the start that Clark was enamoured by Lois. There was a look of pure enchantment that had frequently crossed Clark's face when he was conversing with Lois, even at the beginning when she was a spitfire know-it- all, unwilling to share the spotlight with a "hack from Nowheresville".
Eventually, however, Lois had come around to confide in Clark and consider him her best friend. Perry had repeatedly wondered if Lois wasn't denying her true feelings when he saw her grow close to Clark, only to keep him at a "friends-only" distance.
Lois lifted her eyes to meet Perry's, wondering why he was so silent. She noticed the funny half-smile on his face and smiled through her own tears. He had known.
"Guess it's kind of stupid, huh?" she laughed halfheartedly. "Here I am, finally admitting what everyone else knew all along, and now it's." Lois' face crumpled as her shoulders began to shake and the tears began to fall again. "He's gone," she cried out softly as her own words pierced her already shattered heart.
Perry reached out and put a supportive hand on her shoulder. He moved to Lois' side of the booth and invited her into his secure embrace in an attempt to console her. She cried on his shoulder, thankful that she had a father figure in Perry, when her own father was so absent.
Lois cried for all the times she had pushed Clark away when he attempted to get closer, for all the smart comments she had made in reference to his small town upbringing, for all the heart-to-heart talks they had shared, for all the conversations they would never have, for the one great revelation that she had never shared with him. But mostly, she cried for the great void his absence would leave in her life and her heart. She hadn't truly realized how deep her feelings for him had become in the months they worked together.
At long last, she sat up and Perry handed her a napkin which she promptly used to wipe away her tears. "Ohh." she exhaled, as waves of heartache flowed through her body. "I still can't believe that this is happening."
"Lois.honey, I hope you don't mind my asking this, I know it's a hard thing to talk about, but.how long have you known?" Perry asked timidly, afraid that he was stepping on treacherous ground. Lois shrugged her shoulders.
"Who knows?" she said simply. "I mean, I think on some level my heart knew that I loved Clark from the very beginning.well, at least that I was attracted to him.but my head was too stubborn to figure it out." A trace of laughter emerged through her tears, causing Perry to smile. Her expression suddenly grew serious again. "But then when I was.engaged to-to *Lex*," she began, nearly choking on the memory of her ex-fianc‚. "Clark told me that.he was in love with me." Perry's eyebrows raised as Lois went on. "At first my defenses went up and I told Clark that I absolutely did not feel the same way, that I only loved him as a friend. But then at my wedding.I don't know, something came over me. While I was getting dressed, I was bawling my head off and trying out my married name. You know, `Lois Lane Luthor', that kind of thing. I was trying all these different combinations, and then for some reason I just tried out my name as..as Lois Lane.Kent," she confessed with a secretive smile. Lois laughed lightly at Perry's surprised expression as she brushed the hair back from her face. "I know, it's weird. I don't know why I did it. But somehow, it seemed.right. Still I brushed it off, and went on with the wedding." Lois rolled her eyes and sighed in frustration. "I knew that I could never be as happy with Lex as I could be with Cla—someone else, but I figured it was too late by then."
Perry bit back a smile at the Freudian slip, but continued to listen.
"As I was walking down the aisle, I wasn't thinking of the glorious, prosperous future that was ahead of me with Lex; all I could think about was all the good times I'd had with *Clark*." Lois smiled a bit as she thought of all the little flashes of their conversations and moments together that had raced through her head that day. "I finally I realized that.I loved him." Lois stared at Perry with a look of stunned discovery as she continued. "I loved Clark Kent, not Lex Luthor. I was attracted to Lex's power and wealth and prominence, not the man. I *never* loved Lex. But I think that I always have.and always will.love Clark." Lois attempted to force back the tears that were apparent in her voice as she spoke. "But it doesn't matter anyway, because he's gone. He's gone forever. And he'll never know how I really felt." Lois inhaled deeply and went on. "After Lex's death, it was on the tip of my tongue to tell Clark the truth, that I returned his feelings, but before I had a chance, he said that he'd lied to me before, that he had just said he'd loved me to keep me from marrying Lex. I let that stop me from telling him how I really felt, but even then I knew that *that* was a lie. That man *did* love me. Oh god, that sounds so self- centered, doesn't it?" Lois managed a half-smile.
Perry grinned. "No, I'm sure you were right. That boy would walk on water for you. Or he'd drown trying." He said.
Fresh tears appeared in Lois eyes. "He did, Perry. He was trying to protect me when he was shot." She said quietly, her face glistening with tears.
"Oh, honey, he's loved you since the moment you walked into my office during his first interview. I saw that look in his eyes." He told her.
A faint smile of torn amusement appeared on her lips before a desperate sigh escaped her and she buried her face in her hands. She felt so emotionally drained. She was tired of crying, tired of missing Clark. It was all so pointless, anyway. Clark was gone, and there was nothing she could do to change that.
After a few more moments of self-pity, Lois lifted her head and forced a smile for Perry's benefit. "Thanks for the talk, Perry," she said, trying her best to put on a brave front. "I really needed to talk to someone about Clark. I just wish I could have talked to *Clark* about my feelings." She said regretfully. "I'm just going to go home and try to relax a bit. It's been such an exhausting day already."
She got to her feet and turned to say good-bye to Perry, who quickly stood and gave her his best supportive hug. He stood there by the table and watched as his ace reporter, one half of his top reporting team, walked out of the diner with a broken heart.
Lois found herself walking up and down the streets of Metropolis, wanting to be anywhere but alone in her apartment, grieving for Clark. Her heart felt so heavy. It seemed as if the weight of the world was on her shoulders and there was no way for her to dispose of the burden. **It's like a bad dream.a nightmare that I can't awake from ** she thought sadly. She just didn't have the physical or emotional energy to do anything. She just couldn't escape from the veil of anguish that penetrated every muscle in her body.
Lois wound up in Centennial Park; the place she went to when she needed to sort through things. She didn't want to deal with the pain anymore, but hoped that she could find comfort in the solace of the park.
Clark was gone forever; she needed to face that fact, and figure out how she was going to get through the rest of her life without him. **I need him. I need him. I need him … ** she thought mournfully as she sat on the edge of the beautiful fountain in the park. She bent forward, propping her head up with her elbows and hands, and stared straight down at the cobblestones of the area that surrounded the fountain.
Lois did not notice the musical trickle of the water or of its beauty gleaming in the evening light. She could only see the sadness surrounding her, as her thoughts were centered around only Clark. She had never realized how much she truly loved Clark Kent. She hadn't realized how much he meant to her until he was suddenly ripped away from her. She had never thought anyone could make such an impact in her life. It was amazing, the power of that wondrous emotion of love.
Lois released a soul-weary sigh. There just was no easy way. The sudden sound of approaching footsteps caused Lois to lift her gaze straight ahead to find the source of the sound. They sounded so confident and familiar. "Clark?" her voice was barely a whisper. **Quit it, Lois. Any man with the same type of shoes would sound that way.** she told herself.
Gradually, through the darkness, she could make out the figure of a man coming down the walkway that led to the fountain. He seemed to be dressed in a suit, but it was entirely too dark to see anything more than his hazy outline. A passing car briefly highlighted the man's face. "Clark?" she breathed, frozen to the spot. It had only been a glimpse, but Lois knew what she had seen.
She sat up and wrinkled her brow, telling herself that it was someone else. Clark's face was nothing but a figment of her overactive imagination. She leaned forward, trying to get a better look at him. "Clark?" she said a little more firmly. **Was it really him? Could it be?**
As he came closer, the lamps surrounding the fountain area revealed more and more of his features, yet still they were hazy.
Lois slowly rose to her feet as the man continued his hurried approach.
Suddenly his face, including that ever-familiar brilliant smile became illuminated fully by the park lamps.
"Clark!" Lois cried as she rushed forward, arms outstretched. She flew down the walk and flung herself into his arms.
Clark swept her up in a fierce embrace. He held her tightly as her tears fell, not knowing what to think or what to say. At last he relaxed his hold on her.
She moved back and looked over him quickly with disbelief, never letting go of his hands and slipping into babble-mode. "Clark, you're alive!" she exclaimed with incredulity. "I don't believe it! How is this possible?" she cried. Clark held Lois' gaze as she folded her hands over his and stared deep into his eyes.
"Superman found me after they dumped my body. He froze me with his super-breath to preserve my tissue, so that there would be no permanent damage, then took me to Professor Hamilton's lab and followed the procedures in his manuscript. So it's as if I never died." He explained quickly.
Lois' face burst into an elated grin through her tears as she threw her arms around Clark's neck once more. "I don't care if he used Crazy Glue, you're alive!" she cried happily.
Clark reveled in the comfort of their embrace, softly inhaling the scent of her hair as they both refused to let go of one another.
"Clark, I love you." Lois suddenly whispered lovingly through her tears. She blinked her eyes as she heard herself saying those words.
Clark pulled back from her and stared her deep into her eyes. "What?" he whispered, his eyes full of hope.
A timid smile crossed Lois' face as she gazed up at her best friend, her arms still wrapped around his neck. She pulled him down to sit by her side on the edge of the fountain. She took his hands in hers and looked into his eyes. She took a deep breath. "Clark, when you were gone, I did a lot of thinking about my life.mostly what it would be like without you in it." She laughed lightly, smoothing her hair back from her face. "I know what you're thinking, gee, Lois, how self- centered can you be, but please.just hear me out."
Clark smiled and continued to listen, intrigued by where she was going with her words.
"I was thinking about how much I missed you, and how much I was going to miss you for the rest of my life. And then I thought about the things I never got around to telling you. Things that you needed to know. I felt so guilty that you had died without ever knowing." Lois grasped Clark's left hand and placed a tender kiss in the center of his palm.
Clark shivered as the warmth of her touch rocked his soul.
"I knew this a long time ago, but never told you. I know that our relationship has always been.difficult to define.but last spring I finally realized that there might be more to our relationship than just.friendship." Lois quietly declared. She caressed Clark's hand and looked up at him, eager for his response.
He stared into her chocolate brown eyes, exploring her soul with such tenderness that she found herself drowning in his soft gaze. He leaned in and they shared a sweet, delicate kiss. Clark lovingly caressed her cheek with his palm as the kiss broke and softly connected his forehead with hers.
Lois allowed her hand to travel from the back of Clark's neck to rest lovingly on his firm chest.
"Lois.I can't tell you how long I've waited to hear those words," he said carefully. "Now.would you like to go out on a date?" He asked, lightly stroking her cheek with his fingertips as smiles erupted from their hearts. An amused laugh escaped from Lois' throat as a tear slipped down her cheek.
"Yes." She said simply. Lois sighed contentedly and moved into Clark's embrace, resting her cheek on his shoulder as she stared up at him. "Clark.I think this is the beginning of a very special time in our life. The beginning of a very special relationship." Lois said quietly. She lifted her head to look into Clark's eyes.
As their lips met, they discovered what their hearts had been looking for all of their lives. Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. The kiss shared at that moment by Lois Lane and Clark Kent left them all behind. It truly was the beginning of a love affair orchestrated by destiny.
I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm sure that you recognized dialogue and descriptions from various L&C episodes, as well as a wonderfully romantic movie, The Princess Bride. I had trouble finding an appropriate ending point for this story. My original intent was only to extend my two favorite, heartbreaking scenes from "That Old Gang of Mine" (Lois talking to Perry, and the car ride at the end of the episode). As I began writing, I decided to merge the scenes into one story. I wanted to also include the scene where Clark reappears (another totally heart wrenching scene), but I didn't want to turn this into a complete novelization, and I didn't have any desire to novelize the Daily Planet party scene. So instead I reworked the three scenes to fit together with my own scene rewrites and extensions. Please email me and let me know what you think, or even to just gush over the waffyness of TOGOM, one of my favorite episodes!