By Christine Carr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted August 1999
Summary: Some missing scenes from the episode "Big Girls Do Fly."
FEEDBACK: Comments welcome privately or via the fanfic mailing list
This story was inspired by a post to the fanfic list - some time ago now - in which someone (sorry, I can't remember who) wrote of her surprise when she discovered, early in the fourth season, that Lois and Clark had not slept together in BGDF. That got me thinking, why not? After all, they had more or less exchanged wedding vows as they stood together in Lois's living room. This fanfic gives the explanation that I eventually came up with. I hope it makes sense.
Big thanks to Irene who did yet another sterling job of editing for me. We may not agree on commas, but I took her advice on (nearly) every other count. If you enjoy the story, then part of the credit goes to her. Thanks also to Samantha for her efforts to get this ready for the archive.
You all know that I don't own these characters… I've borrowed a couple of (short) lines of dialogue and a lot of plot from BGDF. My apologies and appreciation to the original writers, Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner.
Words inside ** are thoughts. Words inside * are in italics.
Lois watched as Clark hovered in front of the Daily Planet's window. He stared at her for a few moments, naked longing in his eyes, then he turned and flew away. Until that moment, despite all the words of support and encouragement she had given him, she had clung to a tiny hope that he would not leave her. The shock, now that he had gone, was almost more than she could bear. She gave voice to her anguish as she said, "It's over," and then, "I shouldn't have let him go!"
Jonathan Kent was suddenly beside her, trying to console her with words about how their love was worth nothing unless they were prepared to take a chance with it. His words sounded hollow to Lois, and trite, but she said nothing, instead wondering if Clark had heard her outburst. It was wrong of her to hope he had and that, any moment now, he would come back, saying, "I'm sorry, Lois. So sorry I even thought about going." But she hoped for it, nonetheless.
The almost reverent silence that followed Superman's departure slowly gave way to a hushed whispering. In turn, the whispers of the assembled crowd rose in a crescendo to a riotous hubbub as the visiting journalists and dignitaries began to drift towards the elevators and the stair wells. Lois and the Kents remained detached from it all, standing as immobile and silent as rocks, forcing the sea of people to flow around them.
A minute passed, then another, and another. Finally Lois tore her gaze away from the window as reality sank in. Even if he had heard her, he was not coming back.
Lois knew that this was neither the time nor the place to fall apart. She almost did not care what the newsroom had made of her earlier outburst, and she cried inwardly, **Let them figure out Clark's secret, if they can! What does it matter any more?** However, she realised giving in to her emotions would only add to the distress of Clark's parents, and knowing that enabled her to find the strength to keep the worst of her emotions locked tightly inside, hidden from view.
"Lois! What're you standing around for? You've got a story to write!"
Perry's gruff voice intruded on her thoughts. With an effort, Lois straightened her shoulders, blanked her face, and turned towards her editor.
"You okay?" he asked more softly. "I know he was a good friend of yours."
Perry's use of the past tense stabbed at her, but she forced herself to stay calm and say, "Yeah, Perry. I'm fine."
He nodded thoughtfully, and she could tell that he knew she wasn't as sanguine about the situation as she would have had him believe. "Well, that's good, Lois," he said after a pause, apparently electing to accept her words at face value. "When you've got that story of yours to me, you can head home."
Lois bent her lips into a close approximation of a smile. "Thanks, Perry," she said.
He had only gone a few steps when he turned back to face her. "Oh," he said, as an afterthought, "when Clark comes in, tell him I'll need his piece for the morning edition."
He turned away again, before he could see her face crumple. **Clark…** she thought. How easily Perry used his name! It was as though he expected Clark to come jogging down the ramp any second now, smiling that easy smile of his, and saying, "Hi, Lois! Miss me?"
Lois was suddenly aware of Martha's hand resting on her upper back, silently imparting to her some of her strength.
Jonathan cleared his throat and said, apologetically, "Lois, we really have to go now, if we're to catch our flight." Lois looked at him, aware that, if the three of them were to pretend that life was going on as normal, as they had promised Clark they would, his parents needed to head back to the farm. Yet, suddenly, she did not want them to go. They were the only link she had with him, now. They were also the only people who had any idea as to what she had just lost.
"But we don't want to leave until we know that you'll be all right, dear," said Martha, concernedly looking into Lois's face.
Lois shifted her gaze to Martha, realising that she was as reluctant to leave as Lois was to see her go. Still, for all their sakes, they had to do this. Besides, Clark had asked her to look after them for him, yet, here they were, worrying about her. **They shouldn't need to do that,** she thought. She nodded. "I'll be all right. Honestly."
They looked as though they did not quite believe her. But then, why should they, when she did not believe it, herself? At least, with her show of false bravado, she managed to fool them into thinking that she would find a way to get through this somehow, and that assurance gave Martha the impetus she needed to make her good-byes. "Call us," Martha said. "Promise us that, if you want anything… To talk… anything… you'll call us."
Lois's lips compressed into a tight line as she fought back more tears, touched again by their concern. She could not bring herself to say anything, but she nodded jerkily, once up and down, and they understood her silence just as clearly as if she had spoken.
Martha patted her back one last time, then they were gone, leaving Lois standing in the newsroom, alone with her thoughts, and with a job to do.
She moved across to her desk, allowing herself only a brief glance across at Clark's. It looked much as it always did. No-one looking at it would have guessed that its usual occupant was heading to a new world, perhaps never to return.
What was going to happen when Clark failed to show up for work? Lois did not see how she could stall Perry for more than a few days, a week or so at the outside. How long would he wait before advertising for a replacement?
She pushed the dismal questions from her mind, forcing herself to focus on the story. Her hands danced across the keyboard as she wrote her take on Superman's farewell speech, painfully aware of how much she was leaving out. The story was a pale reflection of the truth. She was not happy with it, but she knew it would satisfy Perry who knew too little about his star reporters to want more. More importantly, it would satisfy the world. Done, finally, she sent the text to Perry, and then she prepared to leave for the day.
After an eternity, Perry signalled his approval, giving her permission to head home. Relieved to be able to make her escape, she walked up the ramp and summoned the elevator, wondering all the while how she could have so quickly abandoned hope in Clark ever returning to her, especially after the words they had exchanged the night before. They both had so much to live for: he had to come back to her. He had to!
She wished she could believe that he would. While he had been with her, it had been easier to believe in him, but now he was gone, and she found her faith slipping away, too. If only she could receive some sign to show her that he would survive this, and that they would be together again, someday!
So wrapped up in her own thoughts was she that Lois was not even aware of Jimmy sharing the elevator car with her as she made her way down to the lobby. It was only when he spoke that she was forced to acknowledge his presence.
"I can't believe he's gone," Jimmy said.
"What?" asked Lois, dragging her scattering wits together only through a huge effort of will. "What did you say?"
"Superman," he said. "I can't believe he's gone. I thought he'd always be around, you know what I mean?"
"I know…" she said, softly.
"Hey," he said, "I wonder how Clark's getting on with his piece. You heard from him? It'd be kind of interesting to know what's going on in the street." He chatted on, but Lois could no longer make sense of what he was saying.
**Clark…** she thought.
It was a relief to reach the foyer, and to be able to leave Jimmy and his conversation behind. She headed out onto the street and decided to walk home. The thought of talking to anyone else was unbearable, even to the limited extent of telling a cabby where to go. Knowing her luck, she would get a garrulous driver, and she did not want to listen to one more person talking about Superman's departure.
After three blocks, though, she decided that walking had been a bad idea. She caught glimpses of Superman silently mouthing the words he had spoken earlier as televisions in shop windows mutely displayed recordings of his speech. Street vendors listened to discussions about his leaving on their radios, and snatches of the conversations of passersby also reached her. The only thing the people of Metropolis seemed able to talk about was the alien who had won a place in their hearts, and how he had touched their lives.
Lois's thoughts focused inwards. **They think they're feeling bad! What about me? I loved him more than any of them. I knew him better than them, too. How could Clark do this to me? How could he leave me to deal with the aftermath of his departure? How could he have left with no sense of closure, just as though everything was normal? Just as though he was coming back?**
Her pace quickened as she felt tears pricking at her eyes again. It would not do to break down in a public street. She grew angry, and she fuelled her anger, knowing that it would give her the strength to make it home. Only when she reached the sanctuary of her apartment would she allow herself to deal with other, more uncomfortable, emotions.
The smooth wood of the front door felt cool as Lois leaned her forehead against it, finally letting her body slump under the weight of her distress. Her long repressed tears began to flow at last. They felt hot against her skin, fiery like her anger. She raged against Clark for leaving her, against the New Kryptonian's for coming between them, and against the unfairness of a world which could bestow and rescind the gift of love so cavalierly. She could feel a knot in the centre of her chest, and she knew that her heart was breaking.
Lois wiped her eyes roughly with the palms of her hands, clearing her vision enough to enable her to reach her bedroom without bumping into the furniture. Once there, her eyes lit upon a photograph of Clark and herself hugging one another, looking radiantly happy. She looked away, unable to stand the pain of coming upon his beloved face so suddenly. But then her eyes lit instead upon the stuffed toy Clark had won for her all that time ago, at the Smallville Corn Festival, and her brain summoned up his image of its own volition.
There were reminders of him everywhere, both at work and at home; she could not escape them. Superman was in the minds of the colleagues she worked with, and in their conversations. And, if that were not enough, she was going to have to deal with the inevitable questions when they realised that Clark Kent was missing, too. The thought was terrifying. She did not know how she was going to find the strength to cope with his absence.
She kicked off her shoes and sank down onto the bed. Then, grasping hold of the toy, and hugging it tightly to her chest, she curled up into a fetal position on top of the bedclothes. She allowed her tears to flow in earnest. Unchecked, they filled her eyes and ran down the side of her face.
Disjointed memories filled her mind. Clark laughing with her. Clark arguing with her. Clark holding her close when she was frightened, or protecting her when she was in danger. His body, solid against hers, his hand caressing her cheek, the touch of his lips… Even the bad times they had gone through now seemed good compared to the void that was going to be her life without him, because, even through all the worst times, they had been together.
**Why,** she wondered, for the hundredth time, **did Zara and Ching had to come to Earth?**
Thanks to them, Clark was lost to her. They had taken him beyond her reach, leaving her with no way to contact him. A child of the stars, he had returned to the stars. Moreover, she had no frame of reference to allow her to even imagine the life ahead of him.
The little she knew about New Krypton, she had learned second- or third-hand, either from Zara and Ching, or from Clark, himself. The mental image she had constructed of their world was undoubtedly flawed. She hoped it was, anyway, because the picture she had of New Krypton was hardly comforting. She imagined it to be a barren place, more akin to the pictures she had seen of the moon than of anywhere on Earth.
The thought of Clark on such a world was almost beyond bearing because the impression she had was that the bleakness of the terrain was reflected in the Kryptonians' souls. Clark had so much love to give, and he gave it unstintingly. She did not want to think of him living in a place where those gifts would not be valued to their fullest extent.
Lois wondered, **Why did I agree that he should go with them? If I had asked, he would have stayed. I know he would.**
She remembered their visit to the New Kryptonians' space craft. Clark had let her do the talking, needing to know that she agreed with his decision to go with them. She had had to fight to keep her voice steady as she said, "He and I have decided that he should help you in your struggle." In so doing, she had not only reassured him that the choice to leave Earth was one that had been reached mutually, but she had also demonstrated to Zara and Ching just how much of a partnership she and Clark shared. At the time, she had been meanly satisfied about that. It was more of a partnership than he could ever share with Zara, his so-called wife.
Now, though, she regretted her actions, wishing that she had withheld her approval of his plans. She wished, instead of being selfless in her love for Clark, that, just for once, she had been completely selfish, and had made him stay.
But she had not. Not then, and not later.
Now, she realised, more than with anyone else, she was angry with herself, for letting him go.
She shuddered as she cried, but gradually the tremors began to ease as she exhausted herself. The anger slowly began to leave her, too, leaving her feeling strangely light-headed.
She did not know how long she stayed that way, just allowing herself to be sucked into the vacuum left by his absence. It must have been quite a while though, because, when she next became aware of her surroundings, she discovered that the day had ended. The room was dark, the apartment quiet. She eased herself upright and sighed. Then she leaned across and switched on the bedside lamp.
In the sudden illumination, she looked down at herself. Her dress was creased, and she knew, without looking in the mirror, that her make-up was smudged with sleep and tears. "I'm a mess," she muttered, and, on auto-pilot, she stepped out of her clothes, and headed for the bathroom.
Standing under the shower, she could feel another wave of sorrow wash over her. It sapped her will, and it was a long time before she could summon up the strength to move out from under the hot water that pounded soothingly against her aching body.
Eventually, however, Lois stepped out of the shower, towelled herself dry, and then went in search of something to wear. Absentmindedly, she pulled a brush through her hair, then she moved into the living room. She picked up a cushion, clutching it to her body, as she seated herself on one of her sofas.
Again, she thought about the way Clark had left things at work. For all her angry questioning earlier, she knew very well why he had left things the way he had. He did not want closure. He wanted - needed - to believe that he was coming back, and that he would be able to pick up his life exactly where they had left off.
It was for that same reason that they had not made love the night before. The bittersweet memories of their last night together came upon her.
She remembered how Clark had come over. They had talked, finding some measure of comfort in each other's words of love. Lois gave her wedding ring to Clark for safe keeping, and Clark showed her his star.
Then they embraced one another, and kissed, wanting to lose themselves in each other.
"No… Lois…" said Clark sometime later, reluctantly releasing his mouth from hers. His voice was soft, husky, and full of anguish.
Lois withdrew slightly so that she could look into his eyes. "What's wrong, Clark?" she whispered. "What did I do?"
Clark gently eased them both up to a sitting position, settling Lois on his lap. He wrapped his arms around her waist as he said, "It's nothing that you did, Lois. It's more what you… we… were about to do."
She frowned. "What's so wrong about that?" she asked. "I want us to have this moment." Then, a slight note of hurt rejection creeping into her voice, she said, "I thought that you wanted it, too."
He rushed to reassure her. "I do, Lois. More than anything. You know that." He cast his eyes downward and muttered, "But it wouldn't be right."
"We're not… married."
Lois shook her head, puzzled by his reaction. "Not legally, no. But we just said…" Her voice drifted into silence.
"I know what we said," Clark whispered.
"Then what's the problem? I know there wasn't a priest present, but I meant every word."
"So did I."
"Then, I don't understand." Lois thought that she was about to cry. She seemed to want to do that a lot lately. "Why does the licence matter that much to you?"
Clark rested his chin on top of her head, holding her close while ensuring that she could not see his expression. He closed his eyes against his tears as he spoke. "It's not the licence, Lois."
"Then what is it, Clark? Tell me. I want to understand." She could feel the tension in his body, and she could hear the sorrow in his voice. Whatever was bothering him was tearing him apart. To reassure him, she said, "I love you. You love me. We're meant to be together."
"That's exactly it, Lois… We're meant to be together and… I don't know if I'm coming back." The terrible thought that had been in both their minds, but which neither of them had been able to voice, was suddenly out in the open. He was frightened of what the future held in store, and she was frightened for him, going to a war in a place where he would have no superpowers to protect him. Defeating Tez had been difficult enough, and both knew that was only a prelude to what lay ahead.
"And that's why we should do this," Lois said softly, reaching up to touch his cheek. "So that, whatever happens, we'll have this memory." Lois suddenly wanted that memory so much that it hurt.
"No," he said again. "I don't want memories. I want you. And I think about waiting for you… until I come back… until our wedding night… When I think of that, I know that I will come back, because we're destined to be together, you and I." There was suddenly a smile in his voice as he added wryly, "And, believe me, Lois, NOTHING is going to stop me fulfilling my destiny with you!"
Suddenly serious again, he said intensely, "I don't want to take memories of the past with me, Lois. I want the promise of a future. Our future."
Lois wrapped her arms around him and nestled closer against his broad chest. She was not sure that she agreed with him, but, if withholding the one thing that she wanted above all others would ease Clark's fears, then it was a price that she was prepared to pay.
Why did she want to do this so much, she suddenly wondered. Why did holding back give her so much pain? She was shocked by the answer that suddenly came to her. She wanted the memory because she wanted something to remember him by. She was preparing to say good-bye, abandoning all hope of a future with Clark. She was preparing to grieve, and he wasn't even gone yet!
Yet Clark, faced with the same information that she had to work with, had looked at the situation from a different perspective. He had found a measure of hope in the midst of hopelessness.
How could she not have found it, too?
"You're right, Clark," she said. "We've waited this long. What could a little longer hurt?"
"Thank you, Lois." He stroked her cheek, then lifted her face to meet his.
It was some time before they spoke again.
"Lois. I'm scared," Clark said awkwardly, as though the words had forced their way out into the open against his will.
"I know," replied Lois.
"You know? I didn't mean for you to…"
"You didn't want me to worry, is that it?"
"Clark, I've told you before. You can't always protect me."
"I know that, Lois. But this is different."
"How is it different?"
"Usually, I'm scared for your safety. It's been years since I've really had to worry about my own. But now? This frightens me, more than I ever thought it would."
"Clark, you're one of the bravest people I know."
"No. Not really. Doing what I do, going out as Superman? That's not really brave, not when I know that, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, whatever I come up against won't hurt me."
Lois sighed softly. "Clark," she said, "I'll never believe that you aren't brave. And I know that you're scared right now: so am I. Who wouldn't be? But I also know that you will go out tomorrow, and you'll meet your fears head on, and you'll beat them."
"Will you hold me, tonight?"
"Yes, Clark. Just so long as you'll hold me, too."
Now, alone in her apartment, she wished that things had worked out differently. If they had made love, would he have been able to leave her? Would she have been able to let him go? Was it selfish of her to wish that they had made those most precious of memories together, after all? Last night, he had given her the strength to resist, and he had made her believe in their future. Now, though, she did not see how they could possibly have one, at least, not together.
She had finally ceased crying, not because her grief was gone, but rather because her body could no longer produce the tears.
Suddenly Clark's voice came out of nowhere, grabbing her attention. But then she rationalised bitterly that it must be her mind playing cruel games with her heart, because Clark was already far away. There was no way that he could be here, talking to her. Yet, almost against her will, she stood, instinctively drawn to the window.
"Lois…" the voice said again, and this time Lois knew she had not imagined it. The voice was in her mind, and she began to feel the dying embers of her hope rekindle.
When they had discovered recently that Clark had some telepathic powers, at least with his own people, Lois had not been altogether surprised. After all, she had felt his mind touch hers last Christmas, when he came out of his coma, and, more recently, after she had come back from the alternate universe, he had told her that he had felt her absence from their own world during the time she had been gone. It was not, then, completely beyond the realms of possibility that he could touch her with his thoughts. Improbable, yes. Impossible, no. Lois had long ago learned that their relationship showed nothing was impossible.
Lois lifted her eyes towards the night sky.
"Lois…" Clark said again. She spotted a streak of silver light. Was that, she wondered, the New Kryptonians' spaceship leaving orbit? Or was it a shooting star? In case it was the latter, she silently made a wish. **Please, let him come back to me. Let this be *au revoir*, and not good-bye.**
"I love you," he said, and the declaration warmed her. And, in that moment, she knew that, one day, her wish would be granted.
The sorrow in Lois's eyes and the downcast set of her mouth eased slightly as she realised two things. First, while she could not contact Clark, he had nonetheless managed to reach out to her across the distance of space and had contacted her. Second, Clark had restored her hope, just when she needed it most. He had sent her the sign that she had been seeking.
Lois knew then that she would find the strength to face up to the future. She would endure his absence, and when - when, not if - he finally returned to her, she would be waiting for him, just as she had promised.