When I Was Twelve…

By JoMarch <jo_march11@yahoo.com>

Rated G

Submitted April 2001

Summary: Immediately after Clark's departure for New Krypton, Lois, left alone with her memories and her fears, reflects upon the difficult times in her life and what Clark's love means to her.

This story is set in "Big Girls Don't Fly," at the end.

I'd like to thank LabRat for being a great editor. :)

Comments are very welcome! :)


Lois wandered into her apartment, feeling completely lost. Gone! Could he really be gone? How could he be gone?


She held his gaze for as long as he looked at her, ignoring everyone else as he floated above their heads. She felt her heart breaking, but she concentrated on him. Looking at his beloved face, memorizing every line of every feature, holding his gaze as they communicated endlessly through their eyes. It was a brief moment that lasted an eternity.

In a flash, he was gone.

It was too sudden, too real. She hadn't really realized he was going until he *had* gone. Her knees gave way, and she felt a pair of arms holding her up, keeping her from falling.

From far away, she heard a voice saying, "Dearest Lois, a love that risks nothing is worth nothing."


That was a century ago.

She sank into the sofa, enveloped within an eerie sense of unreality.

On an impulse, she took out a notebook and a pen from her bag and began writing.

"A long time ago, Daddy left. Years after, Claude left. And now…

But no, this is different, isn't it? Clark promised me he'd come back — he promised. And I believe him. I know he'll come back, because he promised. Because he has to.

When I was twelve, I watched Daddy walk out of the door for the last time. I didn't even know it was the last time. Didn't he always leave? And didn't he always come back?

He went to work all the time, leaving quietly and coming back in the evening. Sometimes he went away for days, attending medical conferences or getting caught up in some project he was working on on the side. He went out after a fight with mother became too loud, too — although what he considered *too* loud I never knew. They always sounded loud enough to me. Maybe he kept fighting — arguing, mother would call it — till he got tired of it. I don't know; how would I know? But he always came back.

I hated the strained, heavy atmosphere that hung over the house in those days. I could remember, vaguely, a time when mother and father didn't fight. I *know* things were different once. Even if father always wanted a boy."

Lois felt a faint stirring of anger, but it quickly died down. She was too tired and spent to feel mad. She was sad.

Her very heart ached, a nd she forced herself to pick up her pen again. Some kinds of pain were bearable, at least.

"I thought there was nothing worse than the constant fights. Nagging, whining, bickering, and even insulting each other. Never giving it a rest. Whenever there was a pause something started it again: a slight accident, a snide comment, a tone of voice.

School was refuge to me then. I put all my efforts into my studies and into making friends. I felt I had to make everyone like me. With so little love at home, I looked for it elsewhere. But I became over-sensitive. I wanted friends who would love me and pay me attention every minute of the day. I knew, even then, that it was impossible, crazy — an unhealthy craving for an even less healthy relationship.

It's no surprise this left us all bad-tempered and irritable. At school, pretending, trying to please. At home, a situation that had become so bad it made me dread coming back from school. Pressure everywhere. Lucy and I fought.

It's so quiet in here."

Acutely aware of her surroundings all at once, the silence seemed to press in on her. The lights were still off, and the apartment was lit dimly by the unfamiliar light coming through the window.

Lois shifted uncomfortably, and noticed that her leg was slightly 'asleep'. Her back ached, too. She leaned into the cushions and allowed herself a moment of luxury before bending forward again. It was growing darker; the waning daylight and the light from the street were no longer enough for her to see. She switched on the lamp.

"Lucy and I fought over my teddy bear once. It was a cute bear, a fluffy, light-brown thing that usually sat on my bed. Lucy had her own teddy bear, and every night she fell asleep tightly hugging Mr. Bear. I didn't. I used to put mine anywhere: at the foot of the bed, up beside the pillows, or anywhere it landed when I tossed it on the bed after throwing back the covers. Most mornings I would wake up and find it on the floor. Lucy used to think I was horrid to hurt its poor feelings. How long ago that was!

In my own way, though, I loved my bear. Most of the time it was just another toy, although it was treated with more gentleness, and stayed on the bed long after my other toys were permanently packed into a box in the closet. Some nights, lying in bed with the covers over my head and feeling really upset, I'd Clutch it closely, and I would feel strangely comforted.

I loved my bear then."

She lifted her head and looked longingly at the bedroom. On her bed lay an ordinary-looking teddy bear, black and white with a red ribbon around its neck. Even though she couldn't see it from where she was, she knew it was there. The most precious teddy bear in the world.

A strangled, choking sob escaped from her throat. For a moment, she had been there with Clark, laughing in the sunshine, feeling his arm across her shoulder and hearing his laugh among the sounds and smells of the fair. A dozen images flashed through her mind: Clark laughing, Clark bringing her coffee at the planet, Clark sitting on the edge of her desk and looking devastatingly handsome, Clark holding her in her arms in the sky, and sharing the wonder she felt as they flew up, free from earthly bounds, and embraced the winds. Clark smiling softly at her, that indescribable glow lighting his eyes.

It was cruel, cruel, *cruel*!

She resumed her writing, an almost compulsive force driving her on, pushing her to write faster and faster.

"I don't remember what started the fight. Lucy grabbed my bear and ran, and I chased her. Then I caught the bear and we both tugged on it hard. For a long time nothing happened, then suddenly the bear burst and white stuffing flitted to the floor. Lucy felt scared and let go. I felt my bear had died. I remember sinking to the floor and picking up its poor, torn body, crying and feeling that I would never forgive Lucy, never.

I forgave her that very night. We both slept in my bed, comforting and being comforted. Things were very bad between my parents then. Divorce came soon after.

I thought there was nothing worse than the fights, but the divorce was worse. I don't think I felt anything when I heard the news, although I'd been expecting it. Lucy ran to her room and shut the door; I just felt numb.

Mother, Lucy, and I moved into a new apartment. Everything changed. I hardly ever saw my father anymore. Mother became gloomy and quiet, and at times, she would drink. I remember finding her collapsed in a nerveless heap, or, even worse, collapsed in a heap of nerves, alternately weeping and giggling hysterically.

Lucy was always in her room now. The apartment always made me feel like a stranger, an outsider. In time, it grew slightly more familiar, but it never became a home."

She knew she would never read what she had written; she knew she would probably tear the pages into a thousand pieces when she was done, but at the moment, there was a curious feeling of relief in indulging her feelings.

"Divorce gets worse with time, did you know that? I thought the pain and hurt would go away when I grew up; after all, divorce affects the children. And I wouldn't be a child then, I'd be an adult. My parents' divorce would be a long, long time ago.

It doesn't work that way. It gets worse. Every year, it hurt a little bit more. Gradually, the numb feeling was replaced by a tiny, dull, ache. Naively, I thought that was the worst of it. It was bad enough: a rankling pain that never let me enjoy anything properly. But it only grew with time."

Caught up in the feelings she'd recreated while writing about a time in her childhood, everything became as vivid as it had been then. Even more so: looking back with the experience of years and the viewpoint of an adult, she could see things that she hadn't fully understood. Words and circumstances that had had no impact back then were still capable of hurting her now, the new pain mixing with the old.

"The child lives in the woman still."

It wasn't that pain that was making her cry now; it wasn't her father she was thinking of as she desperately wiped away the tears that fell on her paper and blurred the words. She didn't glance in the direction of the window; she knew how far away the black sky would look, how big and wide and dark and cruel it could be, and how utterly beyond reach.

The relief was temporary, the pain was back, gnawing and clutching worse than before.

It seemed like she had been crying forever when she finally wiped the last of her tears.

She loved Clark more than she thought was possible. Why did she let him go? How could she have let him go?

"I thought I knew what it was to love. When I met Claude, I believed I was in love with the perfect man, and that he loved me. I let myself go, completely; I loved him and I wanted to share everything with him. I became his friend and his lover, and I never once realized that he was using me. I opened up my heart to him, talked to him about my dreams and hopes…

"Trust me, Lois."

"Trust me, darling."

Hah! What a fool I was!

He left me, and he took my story. He betrayed me in the worst possible way.

For a long time, I resented that. I hated Claude. Worst of all, I let him affect me. For a long time, he won. I was what he had made me: harsh and bitter, pushing people away and refusing to love anyone. I wouldn't let anyone close; I knew what I was doing and it hurt me to do it, but I wouldn't stop. Anything was better than letting anyone into my heart again.

Soon I couldn't stop. Repulsing people had become so much of a habit that it was no longer an effort, and then, I discovered I couldn't let people become close even if I wanted to.

I was pleased at first. I didn't *want* people to become close to me. I wanted everyone to stay away.

Then the loneliness came. Ghastly thing! I buried myself in my work; I love my work. I am doing something I like, and I am good at it — the best.

But I still felt lonely. That was when I realized that nobody loved me, and I began to wonder if I was unlovable. Unlovable, and incapable of love. And that hurt worst of all. I think I had a feeling that I was a monster of some sort, that there was something radically wrong with me.

When Clark came to the Daily Planet, he changed all that."

That was a dangerous line of thought, and Lois cut it off abruptly.

"I despise Claude, but I don't hate him. He's not worth it. I know now that I didn't love him. I didn't even know what love was. This, at least, is a memory that no longer hurts as it once did. Clark did that.

Clark isn't perfect, but he's the best man in the world. I —"

When she thought about Clark, she was beyond words; a medium so crude in no way served to convey what was she was going through.

She slowly shut the small notebook, and laid it beside her on the sofa. She stared at the cushion she had been leaning on while writing, her mind blank. She abruptly drew up her knees and laid her chin upon them, tightly hugging her cushion.

She felt incredibly lonely. She couldn't write it, she couldn't even say it, but it ran through her till every nerve thrilled with it, tightening every muscle to unbearable tenseness.

"He's never coming back."

Clark loved her, and she loved him. She held on to that, desperately, hopelessly. After a moment, the tenseness left, leaving her weary to the bone. She didn't know whether she was thinking or not as she stared into the space right in front of her.

Her heart was broken; her soul had been ripped from her and she didn't know when or if he was coming back.

And she was so lonely.