By Judith Tylke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted March 1999
Summary: What if Lois had seen her note to herself after the episode "Tempus Fugitive"? This WAFFy story considers what might have happened.
I found the fanfic site by accident and spent a weekend downloading and reading in breathless relief of a severe case of LCWS. I had been writing for myself but had no idea that there was a forum for it. After over a year of reading fanfic, and some of it is truly awesome stuff - which it makes it even harder to work up the courage, I thought I'd submit one of mine. I have always tended toward what if or else world stories, this is one of the shorter ones I've done (that way if it's truly terrible you won't have to suffer as long) and apologies for any grievous errors.
I always wondered what would have happened if Clark had not seen the writing on the envelope of Perry's birthday card. What if Lois had found the card instead and found in her own hand writing Clark is Superman? There's no A plot here, just relationship sorting out, I guess I always felt cheated that we didn't see more of that, although I was profoundly thankful that they did not rehash the ARGHHH story!
Please let me know what you think, any and all comments are appreciated, e- mail me at JTYLKE@FLSOUTHERN.EDU
Lois Lane was drunk, not just mildly buzzed or happily lit but profoundly, deeply, seeing double drunk. The kind of drunk that only the better part of two bottles of champagne can induce. And it was all Clark Kent's fault.
Lois arrived back at her apartment building and tried to climb carefully out of the cab managing to stumble over her feet in spite of the fact that she had thoughtfully taken off her shoes in when she first got in the cab.
Holding tightly to the railing, she oh so carefully climbed the stairs one at a time, moving with the exaggerated lack of grace characteristic of one whose liver has proven unequal to the amount of alcohol imbibed.
As she swayed in front of the door, fumbling in her purse for her keys, she heard footsteps pounding up the stairs behind her. Grasping the doorknob firmly - to prevent overbalancing - she turned and glared at the figure who had stopped behind her.
Clark Kent winced at the glare he received. Even plastered, Lois could make sparks fly from her eyes, "Lois, I just wanted to make sure that you got home OK. Can I help you get upstairs?" The voice was soft and pleading but it failed to soften the woman before him.
"Since you saw fit to leave me at the banquet by myself, without I might add even one of your usual bad excuses, I fail to see what business how I get home is of yours." The haughty tone, and the attempt at regal dignity would have been more effective had Lois not swayed on her feet and slurred her words. Clark's heart sank further when he realized she would blame him for her hangover in the morning.
He said nothing as she fumbled the key into the lock and managed to get the door open, but as she turned to close the door behind her he stepped forward and tried once again to speak to her, "Lois, please I'm really sor.." The door closed in his face cutting him off in mid sentence. Shaking his head and running lightly down the steps he turned the corner of the building. No one noticed a the light wind which blew down the alley a few seconds later.
Lois carefully negotiated the elevator and the hallway to her apartment. She was well aware of how drunk she was, she was also well aware of how miserable she would feel in the morning, but all she was interested in at this moment was getting into her apartment and giving vent to the anger which no amount of champagne had been able to eradicate.
Closing the door behind her and carefully locking the five locks which marched up her door, she turned and surveyed her apartment. Dropping her shoes, purse and coat in a line to the couch she made her way to collapse onto the cushions.
Tears began to course down her cheeks, and she let herself give vent to the emotions she had been forced by the company she had been in to keep hidden.
Punching the cushion she held in her hands she muttered, "Damn him, damn him, damn him!" Glancing up she caught sight of Superman hovering outside of her window. Meeting her eyes he floated gently to stand on her windowsill, "Do you mind if I come in?" he asked in his deep gentle voice.
"Why not?" she responded making no attempt to wipe the tears from her face. "There's a question I'd like to ask you. I might as well ask it now."
"Um sure, I was just flying by and I saw your light, I wanted to make sure you were OK … you seem upset, can I help?" Clark knew she was angry at him, he wouldn't enjoy it but if venting to Superman made Lois feel better he was willing to endure it.
She smiled at him and he found himself feeling vaguely uncomfortable. "Tell me Superman, what would you think of someone who constantly lies to you about what he is doing, who disappears at the drop of a hat and who never tells you the real reason why he's been gone?"
She looked at him owlishly, and he was at a loss to know what to respond. "I'm not sure what you mean Lois," he began, "if you're talking about Clark.."
"Ah yes, let's talk about Clark," she interrupted him, as she staggered to her feet and lurched into the kitchen. He tried to steer her gently toward the kitchen table, and was startled when she brushed his hands away angrily.
'Lois, please sit down. I'll make you some coffee." He tried once again to get her to sit down.
"Yeah well, you can make the coffee," she conceded grudgingly more or less falling into the chair he'd pulled away from the table for her, "but only because the world won't stay still."
Hiding a smile, he turned to the cabinets where Lois kept her coffee and mugs. As he pulled the items he needed from the shelves she began to speak again.
"Tell me," she spoke conversationally, "what made you think I'd talk to Superman when I just threw your alter ego off my porch?"
Clark froze unsure that he had heard her correctly. She laughed ironically at him, interpreting his stillness as guilt. "Oh come on Clark, we are supposed to be best friends aren't we? Don't you think disappearing on me for what? Five hours? Not that you bothered to even try to give me one of your really bad excuses before you went, is enough reason to finally come clean?"
Clark turned slowly to face her, "Lois," he began uncertainly, "I'm not sure I…" The look on her face stopped him and he felt his insides twist, "I'm not sure I know what to say."
"Why don't you start with were you were tonight? But do you think you could change back into Clark first, somehow it's easier to be mad at you when you're not wearing the suit." Lois laid her head down on her arms and contemplated him with one eye closed. "Course it would probably help if there was only one of you. Hey, do you think there are two of you because you lead two lives?" she asked with interest.
"I think there are two of me because you've had too much to drink." He crossed to the table and set a cup of coffee in front of her. "I'll go get you some aspirin, you're going to have a hell of a hangover." He wasn't ready to address the rest of what she'd said yet, especially in her current state.
He returned to find her sleeping on her crossed arms, the coffee forgotten before her. Sighing, he picked her up and carried her to her bed. As he laid her down and drew the covers over her he saw that she had opened her eyes and was regarding him sadly. "What's wrong?" he asked softly, brushing the hair off her face.
"You'll be going now and we'll never finish talking, just like always. Every time we start to talk about us you take off, by the time I see you again it's too late and we never finish, but then I guess it doesn't matter - you don't tell me the truth anyway." Tears filled her eyes and ran down her cheeks and Clark murmured in protest, wiping the tears away, "I'll be here when you wake up, I promise, and I'll tell you everything. I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt you."
"Promise? You won't go away and pretend this was all some champagne induced dream?" She wasn't quite ready to believe him yet, even though she was having trouble staying awake.
"I promise, I'll sleep on that thing you call a couch and be right here when you wake up. Do you want some help getting into your nightshirt?"
"'Salright, I'll change in the morning," she said with a prodigious yawn as she closed her eyes and gave in to sleep.
Clark stood for a moment and watched her sleep. She looked so peaceful, so angelic in sleep. Not at all like the spitfire he knew her to be. She's going to give me hell in the morning, he thought ruefully, and the hangover she'll have will only make it worse. For a moment he seriously contemplated not being there when she woke but then he chided himself for his cowardice. You're supposed to be the man of steel. Yeah but, the other part of himself responded, that won't protect you from Lois, and you know it! Especially a hung over and angry Lois!
Sighing he went back to the living room and flew out of the window. He only knew one sure fire cure for a hangover and he'd have to go to China to get it, but given what she'd said to him, which he was definitely not going to think about just yet - the possible ramifications scared him silly, what would he do if she didn't forgive his deception? - he thought it was best to have it on hand.
Lois woke slowly. The pain in her head was only matched by the desert that her mouth had become, and it was only the need to pee that had woken her in the first place. Cautiously she opened one eye and winced at the stab of pain even the low light filtering through the curtains gave her. God, why did I drink so much, she thought. I promise if you just let me live through this morning I'll never get drunk on champagne again.
Sitting up gingerly because the world had a disturbing tendency to shift around her as she moved, she managed to get both eyes open and her feet on the floor. She saw a glass of greenish liquid sitting on the bedside table with a note that read, "Lois, this is the best thing for a hangover I've ever found. Drink it and after you've showered you'll feel better." It was signed simply CK.
Grimacing at the taste she downed the drink and wobbled into the bathroom.
Emerging twenty minutes later, wrapped in her favorite fluffy robe she felt surprisingly better. The green stuff must really work, she thought, as she padded through to the kitchen.
Coffee was already perking and Clark was standing in the kitchen dressed in a pair of sweat pants and a tee shirt, a look of cautious hopefulness on his face. "Are you feeling better?" he asked her as she stared at him from a safe distance.
"Yes, thank you for that stuff, whatever it was," she responded grudgingly. She had remembered everything from the night before, and although she was glad, and somewhat surprised, to find him still there, she wasn't about to let him off the hook easily. She was also a little angry at herself. She had planned to wait until Clark told her himself, but she had let her anger and hurt get the better of her. Not to mention the champagne, she admitted to herself ruefully, still not feeling herself but not as bad as she should have been - thanks to Clark.
"Sure, I'm glad it helped. Why don't you sit down and I'll bring you some coffee, he suggested, trying to gauge her mood.
All he got in response was a grunt, but she went into the living room and sat on the couch, curling herself into the blanket she found there and laying her head on the pillow Clark had used. It smells like him, she thought to herself, inhaling deeply, and for some reason that made her feel like crying.
Clark found her there a few minutes later, "Lois?" he asked softly, unsure whether she had fallen asleep again.
He was rewarded by her opening her eyes and sitting up. Although she wouldn't look him in the eyes she reached for the coffee mug and sipped at the hot liquid. Sighing, she leaned her head against the back of the couch and closed her eyes once again.
Sitting on the couch, he said softly, "I think we need to talk, Lois."
"OK, go ahead, talk" she responded, not opening her eyes.
He looked at her profile and took a deep breath. He had been awake most of the night practising what he would say to her when she awoke, but at this moment he couldn't remember any of the clever, witty things he had come up with. So much depended on the next few minutes and the words that he choose.
"I never meant to hurt you, Lois. I'm sorry. When I came up with Superman it was so I could live a normal life and still be able to help people. At first I was just trying to protect you and then when you fawned over Superman and ignored me, I didn't know how to tell you and still be sure that you wanted me and not the guy in the suit. Later when we became closer it all got so confused and the longer I waited the harder it became." His voice was low, with an unspoken plea in his tone. Please understand, he prayed.
He looked at her, trying to tell how she was taking this, but she remained in the same position with her eyes closed.
"I'm so afraid that you'll be in danger, so many people have tried to get to Superman, to hurt him or destroy him - I've lived in fear that they would hurt you or my parents if anyone found out who I really am."
"So you lied to me, and deceived me for my own protection?" she asked with her eyes still closed. Her voice was even, not giving any indication of her feelings.
"Lois, I have never lied to you, except for this one thing and believe me it's hurt me as much as it's hurting you now." He ran his hands through his hair in frustration. "I've tried so many times to tell you and the time never seemed to be right, and even when it was there was always some emergency or investigation that got in the way…" His voice trailed off. This was going worse than he had thought it would, a Lois who was screaming and venting at him he could handle, but this eerie calmness on her part scared him. He had no way of gauging how she was feeling or what she was thinking. He had a sinking feeling that she was going to order him out of her life altogether, that she would never forgive him, and the knot in the pit of his stomach grew larger.
"All I can say is I'm sorry, and for what it's worth I love you Lois, I always have." He waited tensely for her to respond, to say something - anything. She was silent for a few moments and he thought he would go mad before she finally spoke.
"So." She stood up, placed the coffee cup on the end table, and walked a few steps away before she turned and looked directly at him, crossing her arms in front of her. "Let me get this straight, you let me think I was in love with two different men. Never mind that it was driving me crazy, or that it hurt more and more every time you took off just as I was beginning to open up to you about my feelings - we won't even go into your letting me think you were dead and that it was my fault - because you wanted to be sure that I loved Clark and not Superman? Is that what you're telling me?" Her voice was still fairly even, but he could see the sheen of unshed tears in her eyes.
"Lois, please, it wasn't like that." He rose and crossed to her, trying to take her hands in his, but she backed away from him and put the love seat between them.
"Clark, you are Superman! Do you really expect me to love only part of you? How am I supposed to love the real you when you never even let me see the real you? The real Clark isn't just the face you show to the world as either Superman or Clark but something in between, and you never let me see that. How am I supposed to know who you really are? And how can you expect me to sit around and wait for you when you don't even tell me the truth about where you are or what you're doing?" Her voice had broken on the last words and she turned away from him so he wouldn't see the tears which made their way down her cheeks. Damn it I promised myself that I wouldn't cry! she thought.
"Lois, please, I'm still Clark, you know me better than anyone, there's no one I trust more, and no one that means more to me than you do. Please don't shut me out." Clark felt near to tears himself He'd known she would be upset, even angry, but he hadn't expected this degree of hurt, and with every word she uttered he felt as if shards of glass were cutting his heart.
Lois turned and looked at him, wiping away the tears which overspilled on her cheeks. "I love you, Clark, I don't want to shut you out of my life, I got a taste of what life without you would be like when you… when you 'died'." The hurt in her eyes was worse than any kryptonite that Clark had ever experienced. "I have no desire to endure that again. I never thought that I could love someone the way I do you, and I had no idea that I could hurt so badly, it's going to take me a while to get over that."
Clark was crying now too, silent tears which he was unaware of, the pain in his eyes equaling her own. He had waited so long to hear the words 'I love you' from Lois, yet now his joy was tainted with the knowledge that he had caused her tears. He couldn't deny the truth of her words, she had to be able to love and accept both parts of him; Mason had taught him that lesson. Even had Lois not been a part of his life no real relationship with Mason would have been possible - her antipathy for Superman had ensured it.
Lois looked into his eyes and part of her wanted to hold him, to erase the pain from him and let him erase hers, but she wasn't sure that she knew how to cross the gulf between them. There were times lately when she felt as if she didn't know him at all.
Clark saw something flash through her eyes that gave him hope, but then she shook her head, turned away and started to walk toward the bedroom. He was desperate to stop her, he had the unshakeable feeling that if she left now they would never heal the breach between them. Saying the first thing that came to him, he asked, "How did you find out, Lois?"
"It's a long story, Clark," she said tiredly, feeling the effects of last night's binge in spite of Clark's cure. Maybe it's just emotional overload, she reflected. "I'm really tired, Clark. I think maybe I'll go lie down." A thought struck her and she turned back to him, "Where were you last night?"
"There was an avalanche in Switzerland, an entire town was buried, I saved a lot of people, but … a lot of people died - some before I got there, some that I couldn't get to fast enough."
Her compassion was struck by the haunted look which came into his eyes as he said this and she whispered his name brokenly. As badly as she hurt, that look was worse.
In the blink of an eye, he was by her side and gathering her close in his arms, whispering her name over and over, burying his face in her hair. Her arms went around him and she held on like a drowning man. No matter how angry she was with him or how hurt by his actions, he was her port in the storm - the only place in the world where she felt truly whole and utterly safe.
"Lois, I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt you, you're a part of me, without you there is no Superman - no Clark because I'm not whole. I'll give you all the time you need I swear, I love you , I love you.." His voice trailed off as he raised his head and stared into her face, chocolate eyes searching sable - for the first time with no barriers or walls for either of them to hide behind.
Time stopped, and neither could have said how much had passed until Clark moved his head down to hers as she raised hers up to him, their lips meeting in a kiss that was soft and gentle at first then quickly became passionate and almost fierce as each released the fear and hurt and anger they had both felt into the kiss and each other. When they finally came up for air they were both gasping, Clark pulled away from Lois just far enough to look into her eyes, eyes that were dark with a desire reflected in his own.
"Clark." She whispered his name in a husky voice thick with passion, as she pulled his head back down to hers. This kiss was equal parts healing and passion as they lost themselves in each other.
Hours later Clark woke and lay without moving, enjoying the feel of the body entangled with his and the sound of her heartbeat. It was slow and steady now, but his thoughts drifted to the way it had raced during their lovemaking. He had never dreamed anything could make him feel the way Lois did, that he, whose skin was invulnerable to nearly everything, could rise in goose bumps at the slightest touch of her breath against him. He had lost control with her in ways that he had never allowed, or even wanted, himself to do before. They had made love repeatedly, talking in husky whispers, exchanging caresses and secrets, until one or the other would ignite that explosive passion again. Finally sated and exhausted, bound to each other in heart and soul, they rested.
He drifted content and more complete than ever in his life. Suddenly his superhearing cut in and a report from a neighbor's TV of an earthquake in China cut through his peace. Reluctantly disentangling himself from Lois he got out of the bed. Lois mumbled in protest at his rising, her eyes coming open to peruse him sleepily.
"I've got to go love, there's been an earthquake in China. I don't know how long I'll be," he told her, bending to brush his lips across hers.
She caught the back of his head and looked deeply into his eyes, "Come back." she commanded softly.
"Always" he promised, and the look in his eyes made the breath catch in her throat. Kissing her again, he stepped away and in a blur was gone.
Softly she whispered "I love you Clark, be careful," not knowing if he heard her, before hugging the pillow he had used to her and drifting back to sleep.
Clark flew through the ocean to clean himself of the mud and grit which permeated the suit and covered every inch of him. He was exhausted, he had been in China for over two days. He had helped in recovering people from the rubble that had once been their homes and villages, flown rescue and medical personnel and their supplies to the area which was deep in the countryside. With the damage from the earthquake some parts were inaccessible except from the air. Providing shelter and potable water had been almost as great a challenge - the villages had wandered with the path of a local river which usually served as the source of drinking water, but the collapse of the structures which had lined both banks had cast debris into the water and stirred up the silt rich bottom. It would be weeks before the water would be safe for drinking.
Once the living had been provided for, he had assisted with locating the dead, a task he dreaded but would not shirk. After all, the others couldn't just fly away, and he wouldn't leave them to their grisly but necessary task unless he had to.
He rose through the water, swimming for a few minutes with a pod of dolphin which danced and coursed around him. No matter which ocean he was in the dolphins always greeted him with joy and seemed to recognize him. There were times when he swore they must have been looking for him as they would swarm around him, coming out of nowhere to swim with this strange man who was so at home in their environment.
Rising from the water he flew up to the higher altitude that only he and a few government jets used, to chase the sun back to Metropolis. Letting the sun and his speed dry him he rocketed toward home. The thought of Lois waiting for him, not having to hide what he was feeling or where he had been was what he had longed for for years. The reality hadn't really sunk in yet and he couldn't wait to get back to her, in part to reassure himself that it wasn't just a dream, but mostly just to take comfort from being with her.
It was nearly mid-morning Tuesday Metropolis time and he flew first to his apartment to change at superspeed into a working suit. He found a note from Lois taped to the closet door, "You've been down with the flu since Saturday night - it's why you left the banquet - I told Perry I checked on you last night and wasn't sure you'd be in this morning. See you soon, Love you, Lois."
He was absurdly touched by the note and took a moment to tuck it into the same book in which he had pressed the flower she had once given him. His exhaustion was leavened by the warm glow which those few words had given him, and he flew to the rooftop of the Planet in record time.
Arriving in the newsroom he was disappointed to find Lois gone. He listened but could not hear her heartbeat anywhere in the building. She must be out on a story, he thought, crossing to his desk and looking through the messages on his desk. He spent the next hour returning calls and sketching out the story of his 'interview' with Superman about his exploits in China.
He had to be careful when he wrote Superman stories. Once after a particularly long week he had spent an hour writing up a story only to find on rereading it that he had written entirely in the first tense and far too personally. While undoubtedly therapeutic and cathartic it wasn't what he wanted published or read by anyone. Since then he had taken greater care. He had also given stories to other reporters when the opportunity presented so that the name Clark Kent would not be associated to often with Superman, a fact that would give Perry a heart attack if he knew.
Jimmy came up behind him and greeted him exuberantly, "Hey CK! How ya' doing, feeling better?"
Clark looked up and smiled at the younger man. Jimmy had been in a very good mood lately due in large part to a new girlfriend and his bohemia was infectious. "Hi Jimmy, yeah I am feeling better thanks. How are you?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
"Clark I have never felt so good, wait till you meet Susan, she's…"
Jimmy was cut short by Perry's bellow of "Olsen!!" from behind him. Jumping guiltily he turned and spoke quickly, "Chief! I was just coming to find you. Here are the pictures of that pile-up on the freeway this morning and the stats from the sports desk that you wanted checked."
Clark hid a smile as he watched Perry glower at Jimmy for a moment before saying gruffly, "Well then you better get over to that ceremony for the new hospital wing and get me some pictures for the evening edition."
Jimmy's face lit up and he all but saluted in his eagerness, "You got it Chief, see ya' CK!" and he ran off.
Perry laughed as he watched Jimmy fly up the stairs, and turned to Clark, "That boy's flying higher than Elvis when Priscilla said yes, ain't love grand." He paused and looked at Clark searchingly for a moment. The boy looked tired, exhausted in fact - that flu must have really taken it out of him Perry thought.
"Clark, you feeling OK? Lois said that you got hit real hard by that flu bug. I really wasn't expecting you in today, son."
"I'm feeling better, really, besides Superman gave me an exclusive on the earthquake in China and I wanted to get it in before the evening edition," Clark protested, knowing that the lure of an exclusive would draw Perry away from the subject of his 'flu'. "I'm almost ready to send it to you, Chief."
Perry's eyes had gotten that glow which only came from an exclusive, and he congratulated himself once more for having hired this young man. "Good job, Kent, get that to me as soon as you're done, I'll set aside some space for it."
"Where did Lois go, Chief?" Clark asked quickly, before Perry had a chance to hurry away, trying to keep his voice nonchalant.
Perry wasn't fooled. He had watched the relationship between the two of them grow and change since the beginning and he had not failed to notice the very good mood of Lois Lane the past two days, she had even been cheerful - or at least a reasonable facsimile - in the morning!
She had been very protective of Clark as well, giving Perry one of her tongue lashings when he had suggested calling Clark and having him work on a story from home. "Honestly you ought to be ashamed of yourself, let the poor man alone, as hard as he works he should be allowed to be sick and rest in peace. And don't let me find that you went behind my back and called him either!" she had warned as she flew out the door on her way to an interview.
"She went to interview Councillor Harriman on that new zoning law he's trying to get passed, she found out his brother-in-law owns a lot of property in the area and stands to make quite a bundle if that zoning change goes through. She should be back anytime now. You know" he eyed Clark speculatively, "Lois has been in a very good mood lately," he baited the hook, "you wouldn't happen to know what's given her this suddenly sunny disposition would you?" and watched in satisfaction as one half of his best reporting team blushed and smiled, embarrassed and happy, "That's what I thought." He nodded, "get back to work on that story, Kent, that partner of yours will be back soon enough and I've got a feeling it'll be a while before I get any decent work out of the two of you." He turned away to hide the grin which split his face. He'd been waiting for those two to admit their feelings for each other for a long time now, and he couldn't resist a little teasing. He was going to enjoy watching these two say hello, he reflected, reminding himself to open all the blinds on his office windows.
It was nearly an hour later when Lois came sailing into the newsroom. She had had a disappointing interview and as a result of claims made by the Councillor would have to do some deeper checking before she could put anything in print. The slight frown on her face disappeared when she caught sight of Clark leaning against his desk and talking to Steve from the sports desk. Walking toward him she passed her desk and dropped her satchel on it without looking to see where it landed.
Clark had sensed her the moment she had stepped out of the elevator, and his stillness as he watched her approach alerted Steve that he had lost Clark's attention, turning to see Lane walking down the ramp he had turned back to tease Clark and found himself embarrassed by the look he saw in the other man's eyes. He felt as if he had inadvertently intruded on a moment of great intimacy, peeked in to something private. Murmuring his excuses, he walked away doubting that Clark had even heard him, wondering not without envy if he would ever love that deeply, and wishing profoundly that he would.
Lois stopped in front of Clark and smiled up at him, her eyes glowing. "Hello," she said softly. Raising a hand she brushed her fingers across his cheek. "I'm glad you're back."
Capturing her hand, he kissed her palm and held her hand to his chest. "Me too, I've missed you." His voice was husky and sent a shiver down her spine.
"I missed you too," she admitted. The look in her eyes made him ache and wish devoutly that they were alone instead of in a crowded newsroom.
She blushed but grinned at him wickedly, "Quit it Kent - or the newsroom's going to get an eyeful."
"Promises, promises," he shook his head in mock dismay, but grinned back at her and released her hand. "How did the interview go?" he asked.
"Terrible, that guy is as dirty as they come but boy is he slick. It was almost like he knew what I was going to ask and had answers for everything, but I know he was lying, for a politician he sure didn't do it very well. I have to go break the bad news to Perry that I can't go to print without more, and it's going to take some time to disprove the claims he made this morning." Clark recognized the light of battle in her eyes and almost felt sorry for the councillor. He didn't know who he was tangling with.
"I've finished writing up my piece on the earthquake, and Perry's OK'd it so I'm free to help." he offered.
They fell back into the rhythm that was their working relationship, the sexual tension between them moving into the background as they spent the next few minutes debating which direction their investigation should take first.
"OK, "Lois agreed, grimacing as Perry shouted for her from his office, "we'll have Jimmy check the paper trail first. I better go see what Perry wants but afterward I think we should track down Mr. Sanford and ask him a few pointed questions."
Perry watched Lois walk into his office. He had had a front row seat to the greeting the partners had exchanged and had been reminded, not for the first time, of the way he and Alice had been when they first fell in love. He had feared those two would not work out their relationship, and since he had no intention of losing the best reporting team he had ever known, he had been racking his brain to find ways to throw them together, to get them to admit how much they meant to each other. It was apparent to a blind man that Clark had been in love with Lois since the beginning, and yet even once she had admitted her feelings for him it seemed that they were unable to agree on what exactly their relationship was.
Perry had insisted that they attend the banquet Saturday night and had been very disappointed when Clark had pulled one of his disappearing acts half an hour into the festivities. Watching Lois drown her anger while presenting a calm front to those who didn't know her well enough to see that the glitter in her eyes was anger had threatened to start his ulcer churning. Damn that boy and his disappearances! He had not expected the happy, even relaxed Lois who had walked into the office bright and early Monday morning - given that he had mentally girded himself for a week of pitched battle between the two of them - he was downright shocked.
He had gotten nothing out of Lois when he had asked about Saturday night. She had waved a hand airily when he commented on her change of mood and remarked that she had caught up on her sleep on Sunday and was looking forward to her investigation of Harriman going into high gear. She had mentioned equally casually but revealingly to Perry - who had noted the look in her eyes when Clark's name was mentioned - that Clark had come down with a bad case of the flu on Saturday night, had been sick all weekend and that Perry shouldn't look for him at work that day, but that she had checked on him and he would be fine once he had had some rest.
Perry had said nothing on Monday morning and had professed ignorance of the cause of Lois's good mood when questioned by Jimmy, asking with feigned irritation if Jimmy didn't have better things to do than speculate on Lois's personal life. But he had been unable to resist the urge to tease her in the afternoon by suggesting that he call Clark and have him work from home, and had difficulty in hiding his grin at her vehement rejection of his idea.
Looking at her now as she dropped into the chair in front of his desk, he smiled and commented, "Looks like you and Clark have sorted out your differences, finally decided you loved each other did you?"
Lois opened her mouth to protest but laughed sheepishly instead when she noted the twinkle in Perry's eyes. Blushing she said, "It's amazing what champagne can do for you, Chief, you never know what's going to fall out of your mouth."
"Well it sure looks like the right things fell out. As tired as he looks I haven't seen Clark look this happy in a long time, or you either for that matter. I better get an invite to the wedding darlin'."
"Perry," she protested, "We're already partners, remember? Give us a chance to get used to being more than partners before you have us married with children, OK?"
"OK, OK, whatever you say." They'll be married before Christmas, Perry thought with glee. "Now what do you have for me on Harriman?"
By four o'clock they had built a solid case against Councillor Harriman, but crucial land leases had mysteriously disappeared from the hall of records and without them their case was unprovable, and the story unwritable. Lois sighed in frustration as she hung up the phone and turned to her partner, perched on the end of her desk, "Jimmy says that there may be some backup copies in the computer which may have been missed but he won't be able to check on it until tomorrow." He looks so tired she thought, wondering how long it had been since he had slept.
"Once we get the records that show that Sanford is the owner of those properties I think we should go directly to Harriman and ask him if he has any comments for the story …" Clark began, only to be interrupted by Perry, who had come up behind them unnoticed.
"Lois, Clark, did Jimmy get back to you on those records?" Perry was in full deadline mode, flying through the newsroom alternately chiding, cajoling, and demanding the best out of his people. He knew Lois and Clark did fine without the micro management that others on the staff required, but it wouldn't do to have them think they rated higher - even if they did.
"Yeah, Chief," Lois answered for both of them, "but it will be tomorrow before we have anything concrete. I think we're going to knock off for the day, there's not much more we can accomplish today."
"OK, Clark, get some rest, you look like you need it. I'll expect the two of you bright and early in the morning though." He hurried off to catch the society editor, intent on filling a few more column inches.
Clark looked down at Lois and grinned, the smile lighting his tired features. She smiled back as she turned off her computer and stood, stretching a little as she reached for her satchel, not noticing the way Clark's eyes followed her movement and lingered on her breasts. He lost himself in a pleasant day dream involving Lois, his couch and the rest of the afternoon and missed what she was saying. He blushed as she waved a hand in front of his face and asked, "Clark? Where were you?"
The look in his eyes told her exactly where he had been and a slow smile spread across her features as she shook her head, "We definitely need to get you out of here, Kent, you are not safe to have in public. Come on let's get you home." Grabbing his hand, she pulled him toward the elevators.
As they waited for the elevator he asked with a twinkle, "What are you going to do with me when you get me home?"
"I think you need to get to bed early, you haven't had much sleep in the last couple of days." she responded absently, missing the twinkle as the doors opened and she stepped inside.
Following her in and leaning back against the wall, he pulled her toward him. "That's exactly what I was thinking," he murmured against her neck as he strung kisses up toward her cheek.
Lois giggled and gasped as his lips found the tender area along her jaw. "I meant so you could get some rest," she only half protested as her arms moved up around his neck.
"Oh, well," he considered briefly, "we can do that too." He caught the laugh on her lips with his own. When the doors opened onto the lobby a few moments later, a slightly disheveled Lois and an equally mussed Clark exited hand in hand smiling at each other.
George at the magazine kiosk smiled knowingly as they passed, engrossed in each other. Murray owes me a ten spot, he thought with glee as he pictured the look on the security guard's face when he told him that Lane and Kent were definitely not just friends any more and that he had won their long - standing bet.
Later, seated at the kitchen table at Clark's apartment and watching as Clark picked through the remains of several cartons of Chinese food which littered the table top Lois shook her head in bemusement, saying wistfully "It's so unfair that you can eat like that and never get fat."
Clark laughed, "That's what my dad says every time Mom puts him on a diet."
Lois laughed, but something flashed across her eyes which reminded Clark that there were still questions which needed answering. Reaching out, he caught her hand where it toyed with her fortune cookie, and asked softly, "Lois, how did you figure it out?"
Lois looked at him uncomfortably for a moment. He's going to think I'm crazy, I KNOW it happened and I'm not sure I'd believe me… She thought back to the envelope that she had found with the words 'Clark is Superman' written in her handwriting on it. Words that she had had no memory of writing when she'd first seen them and even now she wasn't entirely sure that what she remembered had happened had really happened… Just get it over with Lane, she commanded herself as Clark looked at her expectantly, concern in his eyes as he watched the emotions flit across her face.
"Do you remember Perry's birthday?" At his nod she continued. "Jimmy had given me a card for Perry, and when I pulled it out of my bag I noticed that I had written something on the envelope, so I gave it to him without it, do you remember that?"
He nodded, wondering where she was going with this. He dutifully thought back to that morning. In his mind's eye he saw her pull the card from her bag, glance down at it and go slightly pale. She had covered with a laugh when he had asked what was wrong and said "Silly me, I wrote a note to myself on the envelope, I'll just have to give it to him without it," and she had folded the envelope into her pocket. He had wanted to ask about the note but the moment was lost as Perry's party had begun and he had forgotten it afterwards. It hadn't seemed important.
"On the envelope I had written the words 'Clark is Superman'. I didn't remember writing those words but there they were in my handwriting and I couldn't ignore them. Later that afternoon when you made one of your excuses and took off I followed you to the stairwell. I arrived just in time to see you disappear as you flew up the staircase." She was focused on a memory that only she could see and Clark squeezed her hand gently to bring her back to him.
"I'm sorry Lois. I didn't want you to find out by accident, I wanted to tell you myself. I guess I waited too long."
"It's all right now, Clark. I understand now - but then I was just angry, angry at you for lying to me, at me for not seeing the truth right in front of me." She shook her head ruefully. "It's just as well you were gone the rest of the day. A couple of gallons of chocolate ice cream later I'd calmed down enough to look at the whole thing rationally and I decided that I wouldn't say anything until you told me yourself. I wanted to know that you trusted me, and Mason had just died, I thought it would be best to wait until that was settled before we tried to put our lives together. But when you left the banquet the other night without even saying anything to me I blew my stack." She smiled sheepishly at him. "If I hadn't had so much champagne I wouldn't have said anything to you. I probably wouldn't be speaking to you at all."
"Thank God for champagne!" Clark said fervently and was rewarded by her soft laugh. A thought struck him and he asked, "You said you didn't remember writing that note to yourself?"
"That's where this gets kind of weird," Lois muttered uncomfortably, shifting in her seat. Finally she sighed and looked at him. "Promise that you won't think I'm crazy, I can't prove any of what I'm going to say and I have no proof whatsoever because as far as I'm aware I'm the only one who remembers any of this."
"Lois, you can tell me anything, you should know that. Nothing you tell me would change how I feel about you. I love you." He tried to reassure her, his eyes full of love and concern.
Taking a deep breath, she began haltingly to tell him everything she 'remembered' about a trip through time that they had both taken. "The first time we got to work that morning there was a little man dressed in antique clothing who approached you and asked for your help…" As she spoke, she watched his face for signs of incredulity or disbelief but found instead a confused recognition.
"…When we got back to Smallville in the 1960's we found that Mr. Wells and Tempus had gone back to Schuster's Field and we followed them."
"You were really angry at me, and you would barely speak to me on the way there," he spoke musingly, chasing an elusive memory of his own.
"You remember?" she asked somewhat breathlessly. She had hoped that by telling him she would trigger his memories of the events as the envelope had triggered hers when she had sat had staring at it trying to figure out when she had written those words.
"It's weird, it's not like I remember exactly, it's more like I know what you're going to say and I can see us doing those things, but I'm not sure I could tell you what happened next."
"That's exactly the way it was for me at first, then, after I had put it all together… it's strange but I know this happened, I remember it as clearly as I do anything else we've done."
"Tell me the rest of it," he urged. "Did we go to see my parents? I seem to remember very young versions of my parents."
Encouraged, she finished the tale. Clark would throw in events as they came to him, but for the most part he listened quietly. When she reached them returning to the barn where they were to meet Mr. Wells he finished for her. "He returned us before we left, trying to wipe out our memories."
She nodded. "It would have worked too if I hadn't written that note to myself. I'm so glad that you remember too, I feel better knowing that I'm not the only one who knows what happened."
Clark stood and pulled her to her feet, wrapping his arms around her and hugging her tightly. "Have I told you lately just how clever I think you are, or how much I love you?"
Tucking her head under his chin and holding him just as tightly to her, marveling at how well they fit together, she responded with a husky laugh, "Not in the last couple of hours."
Cradling the back of her head tenderly in his palm, he pulled her head back so that he could look into her eyes as he told her, "I love you Lois Lane. Until I met you I wasn't even sure I could fall in love. As strong as I am alone, with you I'm stronger than I ever imagined I could be. All my life I felt like an outsider, I never really felt like I belonged no matter how hard my parents tried to make me feel like I did. Until I met you and I knew that I did belong here, on this world because this is where you are, and you're the other half of me, we belong together."
Lois smiled mistily up at him. How is it, she wondered, that this man can touch me more deeply with his words than others have managed to do with their bodies? Because he is a part of me. she acknowledged to herself as she raised a hand to touch his lips gently with her fingers. "I love you Clark, you're right, we are parts of each other. I didn't know how empty I was until you came into my life. I'm sorry it took me so long to admit how much I love you…"
He hushed her gently, "Sh, sweetheart, we both made mistakes. My Mom is still mad at me for telling you I didn't really love you that day outside the Planet." He was surprised when she began to laugh, and said somewhat stiffly, "What's so funny?"
"Oh, Clark, God, what a couple of fools we are." She shook her head and smiled shakily at him. "I was going to tell you that morning that I had been wrong that day in the park, that I did love you and I wanted us to be more than partners. Then you said you had made it all up and that you didn't really love me and I couldn't say anything. For a while I was afraid that you would figure out that I stopped the wedding because of you and it would be too uncomfortable for us to work together. We wasted so much time."
"You stopped the wedding? I didn't know that, I thought Perry and Inspector Henderson stopped the ceremony." She loved me even then, he thought with no little amazement.
"I had already stopped the ceremony when they came in. I'd been feeling like I was doing the wrong thing all morning. I tried to convince myself that it was just wedding jitters but when I started walking down the aisle I couldn't lie to myself - it was the wrong man waiting for me at the altar. When the priest asked me to say 'I do', all I could say was 'I can't'. I never had to explain why to Lex since Perry and the others came in then but it was because I loved you. I still do."
The look in Clark's eyes was making her ache deep inside, his voice deep velvet as he spoke. "We're together now, and nothing will keep us apart again," he promised, bending his head to kiss her gently, sweetly. Just as the kiss began to turn hungry, Clark heard a bank alarm and pulled his mouth away from her with a groan. "Lois, I've got to go…"
"Someone needs your help," she finished for him softly." It's OK, go."
"Are you sure?" he looked at her with concern.
"Clark, it hurt when I didn't know why you were leaving or if you were coming back. It hurt even worse to know why you were leaving and know that you were lying rather than tell me the truth. I know you wouldn't leave now if it weren't important, and I'll be here when you get back," she promised.
Kissing her once, passionately, he released her and stepped away. Spinning into the suit, he grinned at the look on her face. "I'll be back as soon as I can." With that he was gone.
Hugging herself, Lois thought, I could get used to that… eventually. With a dreamy smile she set about cleaning up the remains of their meal.
When Clark returned, one bank alarm, two burglaries, and a car accident later, he found Lois, dressed in one of his tee-shirts, sound asleep on his couch, a movie playing on the TV. Turning off the movie, he went through to the bedroom, changing into a pair of sleeping shorts and turning the bed down before returning to stand for a moment watching her sleep. Scooping her up tenderly, he carried her into the bedroom and deposited her gently on the bed before sliding in next to her and gathering her close. Smiling as she snuggled closer without waking, he drifted off to sleep.