By Sarah Luddy <meerkat_comments AT aslandia DOT net>
Submitted: November 2001
Summary: What if, instead of that fateful car drive at the end of the episode "That Old Gang of Mine," Clark had decided to let Lois in on a bit of truth about himself?
Author's note: I wrote this story because I was daydreaming about a favorite place of mine, and the idea of setting Lois and Clark there suddenly came to mind. Rights to Lois and Clark do not belong to me, yadda yadda.
An agony of silence followed his revelation.
"Lois?" Clark ventured after a long moment. "Lois, you haven't said anything for the last ten minutes."
She still said nothing, and Clark sighed and tilted his head up to look at the stars. They were brighter here than in any other place in Metropolis, almost as bright as at home in Kansas. And yet tonight they seemed farther away than ever.
The silence was suddenly broken by the sound of an airplane's engines roaring to life, and Clark looked down the slope at the bright lights of the distant airport's northernmost runway. The plane taxied slowly into position. It paused for a long moment and then started down the runway, gaining speed as it went. It slowly lifted into the air and flew straight towards Lois and Clark. Despite his invulnerability, Clark had to resist the urge to duck as the plane soared over his head, invisible in the blackness of the night except for its lights. He turned to Lois, noticing her complete lack of reaction.
He sighed again. "Aren't you going to tell me what you're thinking?"
"What I'm thinking?" she asked, the calm in her voice frightening Clark. "What I'm thinking?" She practically bit off the last words. She spun around, her back to Clark, and stuffed her fists into her pockets.
"What am I thinking, Clark? I'm thinking…how could you? How could you let me think you were dead?"
"Lois, I had no choice. I was dead…Clark was dead. If I didn't have any way to come back to Metropolis as myself, you might as well have believed I was dead. The truth would be crueler."
"The truth would be the truth, Clark! I'd want to know! And don't you think I'd rather know that you were alive, even if you could never come back and be my partner again, than think that you were floating in Hobb's Bay with bullets in your chest because of me?"
"Because of you?" He stared at her in surprise. "How could you think it was your fault?"
She turned back around slowly, and Clark's chest constricted when he saw the tears in her eyes. "Of course it was my fault! I was the one who dragged you to that club. I got you killed…or would have, if you'd actually stayed dead."
Clark reached out a tentative hand to touch her arm. "Lois…"
"No, Clark, let me say this," she said, brushing his hand away.
"Okay," he said softly.
"Clark, when I thought you were dead, I thought about how much I missed you, how much I was going to miss you for the rest of my life…well, I started to think, maybe there's more to our relationship than just friendship."
Clark held his breath, his heart starting to beat louder with anticipation.
"But now, Clark, I find you've been holding back on me. All this time, and you were su-Sup-Super-"
"Superman," he said helpfully.
"Yes! All this time, you were Superman, and you didn't whisper anything to me while I was bending over you, didn't come to tell me the truth afterwards. Oh, no, your precious secret was much more important to you than I am. And that makes me feel like I don't know you."
"Please, Lois," he begged.
She held up one hand. "You said you'd let me finish."
He nodded, dropping his head.
"The Clark I know would never want to hurt me that way. How can I ever trust you again?"
She dropped to the ground, and sat with her arms wrapped around her knees. She looked blankly out over the lights of the airport.
Clark sat next to her and touched a strand of hair that was blowing loose against her face. She jerked away from him, and he sighed.
For a few tense minutes, they sat watching the lights of the airport, the sounds of planes taking off making up for the silence between them. Clark struggled to gather his thoughts together. Somehow he knew that whether he won or lost Lois forever would be decided tonight.
"Lois," he said. "I love you."
She harrumphed, and he sighed again. He realized that he'd spent a great deal of the past hour sighing.
"I love you," he said again, firmly. "And sometimes love makes us do crazy things. We think because we love someone that we have to protect them, that we know what's best for them."
"You thought the best thing for me was to let me suffer?" she said, turning to him with her eyes wide with incredulity.
"Well, not exactly. But I didn't think I'd ever be able to come back. I thought it was better for you to think that Clark was dead than to know that Clark was alive but could never come back to you. And, Lois, you have to understand that I didn't know you felt anything for me aside from maybe something of a friendship. I had no idea that it would hurt you so badly. And, maybe I was a little resentful."
"Resentful?" she asked, puzzled. She brushed the strand of hair behind her ear, and Clark felt his heart clench at the graceful motion.
"Yes, resentful. I loved you so much…had loved you for so long. Lois, if I hadn't been invulnerable in that club, I would still have stepped in front of you. My reactions might not have been as fast, but I'd still give my life to save yours. But I honestly didn't think that you cared about me, not like that. It hurt so much to love you and feel rejected in return."
She tried to follow his reasoning. "And so you didn't tell me the truth because you wanted me to suffer, you wanted me to discover that I did feel something for you?"
"No, that's not it at all!" he said. But he couldn't lie to her: not about this. "At least, that wasn't the main reason. But for the most part, I was thinking of myself. I couldn't have borne coming to see you, and finding you typing away on your laptop, trying to get the story in to Perry in time for the morning edition. If you hadn't cared, if you had just gone on with your life…it would have killed me."
She reached out and took his hand. "And did you think me that selfish?" she asked, bitterness in her voice. "Did you really think that the death of my best friend would mean nothing to me?"
"Am I your best friend, Lois?"
She stood up. "You know you are, you lunkhead!" she said, almost shouting. "Did you think me that cold, that self- centered, that I wouldn't care? Didn't you know that I'd be devastated when my best friend appeared to die in front of me, especially when he died to protect me?"
Clark stood up as well, looking at her with a bewildered expression on his face. "Lunkhead?" he repeated.
"Ohhhh, you…" She looked around frantically for something to throw. Finding nothing, she bent down and balanced awkwardly on one high-heeled shoe as she pulled the other one off.
"Lois, what—oof!" he exclaimed, as the pointy heel of the shoe connected with his chest. "Lois, what are you doing?"
"Showing you how much I care, isn't that obvious?" she said, now standing on her bare foot to pull off the other shoe.
"Lois, honey, can't we talk about this rationally?" he begged, eyeing the remaining shoe nervously.
"Rationality flew out the window right about when you said you'd find me typing away on my laptop," she said. Finally managing to free the last shoe, she held it menacingly at him.
Clark backed away nervously.
Lois held the shoe high as she advanced upon a bewildered Clark. Halfway there, she stopped in mid-stride and began to laugh.
After a few moments, Clark began to laugh too. They laughed together until laughter merged with hysteria.
Lois's laughter suddenly morphed into tears, and she began to sob. She dropped back to the ground, huddling in on herself.
"Oh, Lois," Clark said, dropping next to her and wrapping his arms around her. "Lois, please don't cry."
"Am I really that horrible a friend?" she asked him through her tears.
"No!" he said, stroking her back reassuringly. She only cried louder, and he tightened his arms around her. "No," he said, more gently but insistently. "I don't know why I thought that, Lois. I mean, I guess I didn't expect it, it just…it kills me to love you so much when you don't feel the same in return."
She tried to pull herself free, but he held her tightly. She stiffened for a moment and then relaxed in his arms. "How do you know I don't feel the same way?" she asked softly.
For the second time in the night, Clark hardly dared to believe his ears. "What?" he asked.
"Maybe I do feel the same way," she whispered. "Maybe it just took me a lot longer to realize it."
"Lois," Clark said, "please don't joke about this. I couldn't take it if you-"
She covered his mouth with her hand.
"Clark, I've never been more serious," she said, looking deeply into his eyes. "I was serious from the moment I was standing in a wedding dress, about to marry a man I didn't love, and I realized that I couldn't-because there was a man I did love waiting in the wings."
"Or in a kryptonite cage," he muttered under his breath.
"Nothing, go on," he said.
"It was probably best that you took back your declaration of love then," she said. "I guess I knew all along, somewhere in me, that you were just taking it back so that we could go back to being best friends. And it worked. But all the same, that experience got me thinking. And when I thought you were dead, it just all came together. But that doesn't mean I'm not scared."
"I'm a little scared too," he said. "I think love has to be scary. Strange, scary-wonderful. And all of that together is what makes it what it is."
"I don't know, Clark. All of my past relationships have been, well, federal disasters. What if ours ends up the same?"
"It won't," he said. "I promise you."
"Why? How do you know?"
He grinned. "Because I can order dinner in 347 languages?"
She looked around for something to throw at him, but both her shoes had been safely stowed behind him. She had to content herself with a growl.
He stroked her cheek gently. "There are no guarantees, Lois. That's not what love's about. If it was perfectly safe to fall in love, no risks, plenty of returns, then everyone would do it and there would be no broken hearts."
"The entire genre of country music would die out," Lois murmured.
"Exactly. But sometimes you just have to trust in your heart…and someone else."
She fiddled with a lock of hair, too shy to meet his eyes. "I'm not sure if I'm able to do that yet, Clark."
"Then we'll take it slow," he said. "One date. That's all I ask."
"Just one date?" She looked up at him, her eyes wide and innocent. "When?"
"How about now?" he said. "I know somewhere special."
Lois thought for a moment and then nodded. "Okay," she said. She quickly pulled her shoes back on.
He stood up, and held out his hand. She took it, and he gently pulled her up. Then he wrapped his arms around her and lifted them both into the sky.
Lois squealed with surprise as the ground dropped away beneath them. "Clark!" she cried breathlessly, clutching at him.
"Easy, Lois, I won't let you fall. I promise you can trust me."
They rose slowly into the sky, the lights below them eventually fading and disappearing as they passed through the cloud cover.
When they finally soared through the clouds and into the space between earth and sky, Clark stopped and let them float.
"Clark," she breathed, "it's perfect."
"I've wanted to take you here since we first met," he said. "It's been my secret retreat since I first learned to fly, and I always wanted to meet the right person to share it with."
"Clark," Lois said. "Please don't pin all your hopes on me. What if it doesn't work out? I've told you my bad record with relationships. You'll get sick of me sooner or later, like every other guy has."
"Lois," he said, holding her tighter, "I could never get sick of you. I love you, and I know, somehow, that it's the kind of love that's meant to last forever. And it will."
She smiled tentatively at him, and they found their faces inches apart. They stared into each other's eyes, uncertainty mixed with hope and love shining through.
Clark slowly lowered his lips to hers, and she didn't protest.
At first he just brushed his lips against hers in the gentlest of kisses.
Lois sighed with pleasure, and when he pulled away, she rocked forwards towards him, her lips meeting his again. He groaned at her response, and pulled her closer to him. As they both poured out their hearts in a single kiss, they drifted in space, neither knowing nor caring where the kiss, and the floating, took them.