By Allison Forbes <email@example.com>
Submitted July 2000
Summary: Lois doesn't believe someone is out to get her, so how can Clark protect her? This alternate take on the episode "Witness" pursues one of Clark's worst fears, but are things really what they seem?
I posted this on the message boards a few months ago and received such wonderful feedback on it I decided to publish it. Thanks to Wendy, Tank, yconnell, merrytruitt, and a host of others who told me how much they liked it. Special thanks to ChrisH who wouldn't leave me alone till I'd finished it! I've taken everyone's adamant advice; I've made a few changes, and made it longer! As for the song, well, I couldn't take it out completely. I hope you all like the new version!
Feedback more than welcome! firstname.lastname@example.org
He hadn't eaten. He'd barely slept. It had been less than a month since her death, and the pain was still unbearable. He had met Lois Lane in September when he moved to Metropolis, and had fallen in love with her immediately. He had never been in love before, since he had always had to keep his distance from people lest they discover his secret. But when she stormed into his interview, and his life, he felt as if he had finally found his true home.
She put up a front so no one could see her as she really was, but he had seen through it right away. He saw beyond the wall and found a brilliant, passionate, driven woman who wanted to be loved, but who had been hurt so many times she was afraid to trust anyone.
Eventually, though, by caring about her as a friend, being her partner and respecting her as a journalist, he had broken through the hard exterior of her pain and finally earned something most people would never have…her trust.
Clark Kent was her best friend. He celebrated her achievements and helped her though the disappointments that life handed her. As Superman, he rescued her from perils in which her life as a reporter sometimes found her.
She was enamored of the super-hero from the beginning but realized they could never be anything more than friends. And he loved her. So when she became the only witness to a gruesome murder, he became even more protective of her. Little did he know, it still wouldn't be enough.
He escorted her up the steps, much to her annoyance, all the way to her door. She began fumbling with the keys, trying to find the right one. "In the first place, what you heard was a motorcycle backfiring. And second, why would anyone want to kill me?"
"Well, obviously the killer thinks you can identify him," Clark replied.
"I barely got a glimpse of him, and the man that I thought did it, didn't," she argued.
"Yeah, but the killer doesn't know that!"
"And third, the only danger to my life out there was caused by guess who?" She fixed him with a knowing glare.
"Someone who just saved your life today?" Clark retorted. He couldn't believe she was taking this so lightly. He had seen the gunman, even if she hadn't, and he knew that whoever killed Dr. Winninger was going after her. The very thought chilled his blood.
"That was earlier," she said simply.
"Yes, but you did say that you admitted that."
"Yes, but you were wrong about somebody trying to kill me, you admit that," she smugly reminded him.
"Yes, but this time somebody was trying to kill you!" he insisted.
"Clark, if you were wrong about this afternoon, why should I believe you were right now?"
"Because," he stammered, "I just am."
"So what you're saying is you saved my life twice today?"
She looked at him like he had just fallen off the turnip truck. "Clark, do you know the odds against that?"
"Who cares about the odds, Lois? I…" he protested. He was quickly losing this round.
"Goodnight," she said with finality. She smiled sweetly, then closed the door in his face, leaving a beleaguered Clark Kent standing in the empty hallway. Sighing in defeat, he left the building and went to the corner newspaper stand to grab a magazine. Then finding a nearby park bench across the street that directly faced her window, he made himself comfortable. She may not have allowed him to stay with her tonight, but nothing was going to keep him from at least keeping an eye on her.
Metropolis was a city that never slept. No matter the hour, something was always going on. All-night businesses were just now picking up, bars were just beginning to come to life, and some of Metropolis's finest were out patrolling the dark streets, except one. Tonight the one who usually flew over the city making sure all was well was sitting on a park bench across from an apartment building. He was capable of going longer without rest than other people, and tonight Clark had good reason to stay awake. He kept an attentive eye on her window, relieved to see the light remain out. He wanted her to sleep. She needed her rest. He didn't want to think she was so frightened about Sebastian Finn that she'd be up at all hours. Of course, she had told him she was fine. But that's what she always said. She still didn't tell him when she was worried or afraid. 'She's just too stubborn,' he chuckled to himself.
In the wee hours of the morning, he fell into a fitful sleep.
Her alarm awoke her at 6:00am, and she stumbled out of bed into the bathroom. She began to brush her teeth but the water cut out. Finally, after trying the kitchen sink and finding the same problem, she rinsed out her mouth the best she could and called Mrs. Tresousky, the landlady. Apparently, she was told, it was all over the building and would take a couple of hours to repair. Before she had even hung up, however, there was a knock at her door, and to her surprise the landlord was there, tools in hand. She let him in, and the next thing she knew, his hands were at her throat, choking the life out of her. She instinctively fought back, kicking and biting at him with all her strength. She ran for the door, but he was too quick, grabbing her from behind and wrapping his arm tightly around her throat in a vice like grip. She tried to pry his arm off of her, but he was too strong. Her vision began to blur, and she tried to take in a breath, but she only managed a small squeak before the world turned gray, then finally black.
Her assailant watched with satisfaction as she went limp, and when he was sure, he let go of her body and watched her slump to the floor. Her face was blue and her mouth was still slightly open, a sign of her last futile attempt to draw breath.
He grunted with satisfaction, pulled out a small cell phone, and dialed a number. The other line picked up, and he simply said, "It's done." He hung up, picked up his tools, opened the door, and glanced once more at the prone figure lying on the kitchen floor, then closed the door behind him.
A month later Clark, as well as everyone else, was still in shock. Her parents had felt terrible that they hadn't spent enough time with her. And Perry was, in a word, heartbroken. He felt as if he'd just lost his own daughter. He was also furious. At whom, he didn't know. He just knew that the Winninger story had been too dangerous for one person to work on. He had hoped that Lois would take his advice and reword her story, and he'd also wished that she'd allowed Clark to watch over her. But as usual, she refused. And now…it was too late.
Clark was sick with grief and guilt. He went over and over it in his mind, torturing himself. While the woman he loved was being strangled to death not three hundred feet away, he had supposedly been keeping watch. Some bodyguard he was! He didn't think he could ever show his face as Superman again, not after this.
At the funeral, Clark was not surprised to see how many people were there to pay their respects. Despite all the people who had grudges against her for her stories, there were still so many others who loved and respected her: the mayor, three Senators, a judge, the guy who sold her her beloved Double Fudge Crunch Bars, her parents, her sister, and her colleagues. Jimmy was there, sitting by himself, staring at nothing. His hands lay limp in his lap, and his shoulders were slumped. Clark knew that Jimmy felt like he had just lost his big sister. Clark saw Perry standing over her casket, looking down at her. He could see the lines where old tears had fallen, and still tears streamed down the older man's face. His eyes were red and bloodshot, and his head hung low, as if he no longer had the strength to hold it up.
It was all Clark could do to contain his emotions. Seeing all her friends and family gathered there to say goodbye, it was almost more than the Man-of-Steel could bear. He slowly made his way to her coffin and gazed down at her. She had been dressed in a burgundy suit, her hair washed and set, and her face was made up in light makeup. She looked so beautiful, like she was sleeping, and at any moment her eyes would blink open and she would smile up at him. But he knew that wouldn't happen. She was gone. His Lois was gone. And it was his fault. He had thought of her as 'his Lois' for a long time now, and seeing her in this coffin, dressed in his favorite color on her, looking so peaceful, he felt his heart breaking into a million pieces. Finally his emotions got the better of him, and he leaned over and gently pressed his lips to hers. Knowing it would be the last time he would ever kiss her, he wanted to sweep her into his arms and fly her out of the church and away from everyone and everything. Instead, he placed his lips to her forehead and kissed her hair. A sob escaped his throat, and a single tear slid down his cheek and was lost in her hair. "I'm so sorry, Lois," he whispered. "Please forgive me."
He then lifted his head to look at her. He couldn't believe she was gone. She didn't look dead; she looked perfect. Her long black lashes rested on her pale cheeks, and her full rosy lips seemed to be smiling. He lightly traced her cheek with his fingers as more tears fell from his eyes and dotted her hair and face.
He felt a pair of hands on his arms and Perry's voice quietly say, "C'mon, son, let's go sit down." Clark was then led to a pew and sat down next to a despondent Jimmy.
"This can't be real, CK. She can't be…I mean, how can she…"
Clark sighed for his young friend. "I don't know, Jimmy. I don't know."
"Just a few days ago, we were laughing and talking, and now…Why did she have to die, CK? Why couldn't she just…be more careful, " Jimmy trailed off, his voice a mere rasp.
Clark opened his mouth to give Jimmy an answer, but none came. He couldn't bring himself to tell Jimmy the truth; that he'd allowed her to die. He began to remember every day he had shared with Lois, every moment. He remembered the day they met, when she told him in no uncertain terms that he was 'low man' and she was 'top banana'. He knew at that moment that she was the only woman he would ever love. And he did love her, more than anyone or anything. The first time she looked at him when he was Superman, right after he flew her back to the Planet, he thought his heart would burst. There was such adoration and wonder and…could it have been love he saw shining in her eyes?
She never looked at him as Clark the way she looked at Superman, but he learned to cherish her friendship, and they did share a passionate moment or two.
Like the time they were on a stakeout at the Lexor Hotel. He had heard the maid coming down the hall, and in a panic, threw her onto the bed and kissed her just as the maid walked in. It only lasted a few seconds, and the maid quickly left, but it took every ounce of super-will power he had to break off the kiss and release Lois. He could still feel the warmth of her body and the softness of her lips against his. It was fleeting, but it was one of his most precious memories.
And the time she had been under the influence of Miranda's pheromone! She had tried to seduce him at the office, yanking his tie and growling, "Come to mama!" Then she tried again at his apartment. She showed up wearing a sequined skirt and top and blue gauze veils, which she started tossing at him while dancing seductively and smiling. If she hadn't been under the influence of a mind-altering chemical at the time…
Clark smiled at the memory. He could not have taken advantage of her that night, and didn't, but the next morning he almost gave in. He stormed into his bedroom, pulled her into his arms and told her, "If you really want me, I'm yours!" But by that time she had recovered and quickly pushed him away.
He got his chance, though, later at the airport. When the police carried Miranda away after Superman stopped her plane, Lois asked him if the drug had any effect on him. He couldn't resist. He considered it for half a second, then turned to her and said, "Lois Lane, I love you!" She had been so elated, but her face fell when she realized he'd been exposed. She had obviously decided to throw caution to the wind and had thrown herself at him, pressing her mouth to his with a half sigh, half moan. He wrapped his arms around her and returned her kiss with equal fervor.
His smile faded as his mind snapped back to the present. He felt the tears stinging his eyes as he realized, for the first time, sitting there watching a stream of mourners file past Lois's coffin, that there would be no more moments like that. No more jokes shared over coffee, no more arguments about a story, no more of her tangents. He would never hear her babbling again. The thought of never hearing Lois's sweet voice again was more than he could bear; he closed his eyes and just let the tears fall. He didn't care who saw him. He just let his mind go blank and the grief overtake him.
He didn't hear any of the minister's words of comfort, or the rest of the service.
A while later he felt Perry's arm go around his shoulder. "C'mon, Clark. I'll drive you home, son."
He let himself be led out of the church. As he passed Lois's coffin, he gazed down at her one last time, and leaned over to place one final kiss on her lips. Straightening, he lovingly placed a rose under the hands folded over her breast, and whispered, "Goodbye, Lois." Then quietly, so no one could hear, he murmured, "I love you."
Clark returned to his apartment feeling drained. He'd performed feats as Superman that took less energy; the time he lifted the space shuttle into space to take to Station Prometheus hadn't left him feeling this empty, this hollow. He didn't feel numb; he wished he did. Then he wouldn't have to feel the pain.
Lois was dead. The only woman he would ever love, who had ever made him feel like he belonged, was gone. And there was nothing he could do about it. Even Superman couldn't reverse death. He had saved people from plane crashes, bridges collapsing and natural disasters…but the one time she needed him most, he'd let her down. Damn it! How could he have been so careless? He should never have let her talk him into leaving her alone that night. His gaze settled on a picture of himself and Lois at the last Kerth awards. She looked so happy and full of life. He traced her face with his fingers, memorizing it.
He went to bed that night with her name on his lips. His dreams were filled with images of Lois; disjointed, fragmented images too fleeting to see. He tossed and turned all night, seeing her, but not.
He went to work the next day, moving through his routine like an automaton.
Perry told him he didn't have to come in, but Clark didn't see the point in staying home.
"Lois would have wanted me to come in, Chief," he said.
"You need some time off, you just say the word, you hear?" The Chief said.
Clark just smiled sadly, and went on with his work. He worked on a couple of corruption stories, a minor political scandal, but since it was just "Kent" now and not "Lane and Kent", his stories lost some of their flavor. He just wrote the stories and turned them in. He didn't care anymore. Perry could see this in Clark's work, but said nothing. He knew Clark's heart was broken, and there was nothing he could do to help him.
Three days later
Clark lay in bed, tossing and turning, memories of Lois flooding his mind. She plagued his dreams, tormenting him with the smile he knew he'd never see again. He woke up with a start, bathed in a cold sweat. He got up, grabbed his glasses out of habit, walked to the window and looked down at the empty street below.
He had been standing there for a couple of minutes when he detected something. It wasn't a cry for help. He smelled something. It was very faint, but he soon realized what it was. It was Lois's perfume. Thinking it was a grief-induced product of his imagination, he breathed it in, filling himself with her scent.
Then he felt a hand on his shoulder, and his apartment was filled with a soft white light. He turned, and standing there, bathed in a heavenly glow, was Lois, dressed in a burgundy suit, looking more beautiful than Clark could ever remember. She looked at him, her soft brown eyes shining brightly, and smiled.
He blinked and for a moment was terrified that his own guilt over not having saved her life had conjured her image. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes to see her still standing there, still smiling. He frowned in disbelief and reached out to touch her, then pulled his hand back. She quickly reached out, and took his hand in hers.
"Don't be afraid, Clark," she said.
"I don't understand," Clark whispered. "H-how is this possible? You're…" his voice trailed off. "How can you be here?"
"I came back for you," Lois answered gently. "Because you needed me."
"You're dead." His voice was barely a whisper.
"To everyone else, yes, but not to you. That's why I'm here, Clark. To help you release this guilt you feel and move on with your life."
He shook his head in disbelief. "How?"
She answered by taking his hand and placing it on her face, cupping her jaw in a familiar gesture. As his hand touched her, his look of confusion was replaced by a look of pure joy. She smiled radiantly as he pulled her slowly to him. As their lips met, Clark could feel the warmth of her mouth, the softness of her skin, and he knew he wasn't dreaming. She was real; she was here in his arms!
His utter joy at seeing the woman he loved and holding her enveloped him, and he pulled her into a tight embrace, holding her warm body against his. She lovingly held him in her arms, gently stroking his neck and shoulders, while his hands roamed her body and he kissed her passionately.
"Lois…" he murmured between kisses, "I love…you…so much… I'm so sorry…I should have…" His words were lost as the kiss grew more intense.
After what seemed like an eternity she gently pulled away to look at him. His face was flushed and he was breathing hard as he looked at her through glazed eyes. "Why are you here?"
She put her hand on the side of his face, her thumb rubbing his cheekbone. "I told you, I came here to help relieve you of this terrible guilt you're carrying." Her brown eyes were suddenly full of sorrow. "I know how much pain you've been in. But there's something I want to tell you, something you need to know."
"Lois, I…" he began.
"I wanted to tell you that, I know." Suddenly her eyes began to smile again. "I know that you were in love with me, that you were from the beginning, and…" she frowned slightly, "that you've been torturing yourself, believing you should have been there to help me. Not just because you were my best friend, but also…" she reached up and lifted the glasses from his face, "because you're Superman."
Seeing the look of astonishment on his face, she smiled knowingly. "When you die, things that confused you in life are explained. It's one of the benefits of eternity." She remarked wryly. "I understand how you have had to hide the real you all your life, so people would never guess the truth, and that you never felt you belonged, and then you met me…"
A sob caught in his throat, and he smiled. 'She does know!' he thought to himself.
"I understand how meeting me made you feel whole, complete, and how it hurt to not be able to tell me. And how saving me as Superman made you so protective of me and you felt responsible for me and…" He smiled, and she stopped. "Yes, even in death I babble!"
His smile was bittersweet. "I should have been there, Lois. You're right, I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. I fell so in love that I felt like I was in a way responsible for you. I know you're able to take care of yourself, Lois, and this might sound a little chauvinistic, but it was like you were given to me to love and protect, so when you…" his breath hitched in his throat, "I felt like I'd…I'd…"
"Failed me?" Lois finished.
"Exactly. I failed you, Lois. I wasn't there for you when you needed me most. I let you die," Clark choked out.
She could tell he meant what he said, and it made her soul hurt. She wrapped her arms around him and held him with all the strength she had. "No, Clark! Listen to me. You did not fail me. You did not let me down. Look at me, Clark," she took his face in her hands so he would have to. "What happened to me was terrible, yes, but it's the risk I took as a reporter. I knew what I was doing. You have to stop blaming yourself, Clark. You," she traced an S on his chest with her finger, "can't be everywhere at once. In a way, you saved me. You gave me something to live for besides my next story. I began to care for something other than just a headline. You made the last few months of my life some of the happiest."
Clark couldn't hold back the tears from falling.
"That's what you were thinking about at my funeral," she laughingly remarked.
"That, and a few other things," he replied.
She nodded her head and sighed. "I know, I was there."
"You were there?"
She nodded. "Mm-hm." She gestured towards the bed. "Sit down, Clark. There are some things I need to say."
He sat down, never taking his eyes off her. The intense bright light had faded and was now a soft halo around her. She sat down next to him, looking lovingly at him, and lifted a hand to the side of his face.
"My poor Clark. I know how much you've been suffering, how much you've been hurting. And it breaks my heart. I said I knew what you were thinking at my funeral; I know because I was there. I have been with you all this time, and I've seen what you've been going through. That's why I came." She leaned closer to him, her brown eyes glowing, and laid a hand on his face. "You must move on, Clark. You must move on with your life. I didn't come here to hurt you, only to help you."
He stared at her for a moment, not understanding. When he finally spoke, his voice was harsh with emotion. "How? How can I do that when you're not here?"
"You have to, Clark," she answered simply. "You led your life before I came into it, and you did just fine."
He shook his head. "No, I didn't. Lois, before I met you, I was lost, alone. I spent my life trying to find my way; only when I met you did my life have any real meaning." He choked back a sob. "I loved you, from the moment I saw you, till the moment you…" He stopped, unable to say the words. "I never stopped loving you."
"Oh, Clark." She wrapped her arms around his neck, smoothing down his hair. "I don't expect you to! I don't expect you to stop loving me, or thinking about me. You'd better not stop thinking about me, Kent!"
He laughed slightly through his tears.
"But I do expect you to stop mourning. You can't live your live mourning mine. You have to let go of the guilt, too." She pulled away to look him in the eyes. "You're alive, Clark, and you still have much work to do. You have such a future ahead of you. There are stories to be written, awards to be won." She paused to take a deep breath, "And there are children, Clark. Children to pass on your love, your kindness, and your spirit."
He was overwhelmed. He knew she was right. He knew he couldn't live in mourning for her, but he still had a hard time accepting it. He wasn't sure if the guilt would ever go away. "I will never stop loving you, Lois. I may have children with someone else, but you will always be my first and only true love."
She smiled. "I know." Suddenly her eyes became distant, her expression sad. "I have to go now." She stood up, holding his large hands in her small ones, pulling him with her. The halo of light became bright again as she looked into his eyes. She reached up to hold his face in her hands, and he closed his eyes as she pulled him gently down. It was the softest, sweetest, most tender kiss Clark had ever experienced. Her skin was warm, and he could feel her love for him. She pulled away, just enough to whisper against his lips, "I love you. When your time comes, I'll be there, waiting for you…" Her voice seemed to fade as she spoke, until it was nothing more than an echo.
When Clark finally opened his eyes, he was alone. Lois was gone, as was the brilliant light that had filled the room. He sat back down on the bed, and as he leaned back, his gaze fell on a framed photo of Lois taken at the Smallville Corn Festival. A bittersweet smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, and he sighed, wondering if what had just happened was real.
Clark lay in bed, only half asleep, listening to the rain patter against the window. The radio was on, but he wasn't really listening to it. All he could think about was her. How much he loved her, and how much he would miss her. Suddenly his ears pricked up as he heard the gentle strains of a song come over the radio. He breathed in deeply as the lyrics seemed, in their own way, to comfort him. The song spoke of a love too powerful to be severed by death, of being watched over by those who have died. "/Don't be afraid, of my love. I'll be watching you from above/ And I'd give all the world tonight, to be with you./ Cause I'm on your side, I still care. I may have died, but I've gone nowhere. Just think of me, and I'll be there/" She'd be watching over him, wishing she could be with him. And she'd be waiting for him.
A single tear rolled down Clark's cheek as the song finally ended. Somehow, by some miracle, she had found a way to reassure him, to let him know that even though she was gone from his life, she would always be with him. The terrible heaviness and guilt that had plagued him for so long finally lifted, and he knew he would be all right.
It was almost dawn, but the apartment was still dark. A restless figure slept on the couch in the living room, his body twitching slightly as if in the throes of some disturbing dream. His head moved from side to side, and he was moaning softly, calling out to someone. There were dry tear marks on his face and his brow was puckered as if he was trying to concentrate.
"Lois…" he softly called.
"Lois…" he moaned again, slightly louder.
"Clark?" He felt a hand on his shoulder, shaking him.
"Lois, I'm sorry…please…no…Lois!" he cried.
"Clark!" The hand shook him again, finally waking him. "Clark, wake up!"
His eyes blinked open, and he saw her again. Lois had returned, or rather, her ghost had. Only he wasn't in his bed in his apartment. He was on the couch in Lois' apartment. How did he get here?
"What's going on?" he whispered.
"You were having a dream, or judging from the way you were moaning, I'd say it was more like a nightmare. It must have been a real doozy too, the way you were crying and tossing and turning. I hope you're happy, you woke me up."
Clark simply stared at her. She wasn't glowing; there was no aura of light surrounding her. She was just as beautiful as ever, but she didn't radiate a heavenly presence. Instead, she stood in front of him, arms folded over her chest, looking indignantly at him.
"Lois?" he said, mostly to himself.
He stood up looked at her from top to toe. He reached out and placed his hands on her arms. She felt real. He still didn't say anything; he just stared at her.
"Clark? Are you OK?" she asked, lowering her arms to her sides.
"You're alive. You're really here, alive!" he murmured.
At first, his silence worried her, now she was alarmed. "Well," she laughed slightly, "of course I'm alive! Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well, I had this horrible dream that…" he broke off.
"What? You had a dream that what? Clark, are you all right?"
He blinked at the sheer absurdity of the question. Was he all right? Without thinking he pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her, crushing her against his chest.
"Oh, Lois! I was so afraid…I thought I was too late, that he'd…I was so afraid I'd lost you, and it was all my fault!"
Now Lois was very confused. She just woke him from a nightmare, and now he was hugging her as if his life depended on it and muttering something about being too late.
"Clark?" she tried. He was holding her so hard she could barely move. "Clark!?"
Finally he released her and held her at arms' length. She rested her arms on his and looked at him.
"Clark, I don't know what you're talking about, but you've been here all night. After that so-called attempt on my life you walked me to my door and suggested staying with me. I told you I didn't need a bodyguard, but," she rolled her eyes, "Boy Scout that you are, you insisted. You've been here, in my apartment, all night. No one has been here; no one has tried to kill me. I tried to tell you that but you wouldn't listen." She paused for a moment, hoping she was getting through to him. She glanced out the window and saw the first rays of dawn peeking in. "It's already morning. I'm going to go take a shower. Why don't you get breakfast started? We've got a long day ahead. We still have to talk to the police, and we have an appointment with Dr. Hubert, and we still don't even know where Sebastian Finn is." She turned around and disappeared into the bedroom, leaving a still dazed Clark Kent in the living room.
He had to blink a few times to bring himself back to reality. Lois was alive! He never went outside to watch her from across the street, he never dozed off, and Sebastian Finn never broke in and strangled her! He'd been here the whole time! Apparently they'd argued over him staying with her, and he'd obviously won. He'd stayed with her; he had protected her. A huge wave of relief washed over him when he realized, really realized, that he hadn't failed her! He had set out to protect her, and that's exactly what he'd done.
With a smile of satisfaction playing on his lips, he walked into the kitchen and began making coffee and bagels. A few minutes later Lois emerged from the bedroom, fully dressed, looking her usual professional, stunningly beautiful self. She began to talk about the agenda for the day, going on about Finn's past actions as a hit man, and how they were going to find Barbara Trevino. She was talking more to herself than to him, sipping her coffee as she looked over a file.
Clark wasn't paying any attention to her words. He was watching her. The way she sat, the tilt of her head, the way she held her coffee mug. The look of frustration on her face and the way her eyes lit up when she thought of something that might help them. She was so beautiful, so vibrant, and because he'd stayed with her, she would be around for a very long time, writing the stories that made her famous, and hopefully, someday, he would be able to completely share that life with her. But for now, he was just thankful that she was here: his partner, and someday, his love.