By Barb Pillsbury <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: October, 2002
Summary: When Lois refuses to take Clark back after events in the episode "When Irish Eyes Are Killing," Clark finds help from an unexpected source.
As usual there are a lot of people to thank — those that inspire you and those that support you. Thank you Bethy, Rat, Erin, Tricia, Laswa, Laura, and especially Tia who read my Tarot cards and predicted great things for me.
Lois looked down, and then slowly, her heart in her throat, she raised her face to look directly into Clark's eyes. She held her breath. There they were—those eyes, the color of chocolate—the eyes she had come to trust, to find solace in and to love.
They had been through so much together, the two of them. When they first met—she the overly tenacious investigative reporter who would push any personal life away. And he, the shy novice who wanted nothing more than to be by her side, learning from her and being allowed to secretly love her. They had both grown during their relationship. He had found his destiny and she had found love. They had been scared to reveal themselves, but they had and were rewarded at first with a love built on friendship and trust. But it was over now.
She exhaled. "So you're not in love with me anymore?" she asked with a sense of dread.
Clark gazed at the incredible woman standing in front of him. What had he done to her to make her doubt him? How had he stupidly allowed this extraordinary relationship to become extinct? His whole life he had been looking for someone exactly like Lois and he had almost given up on the idea of her when the unimaginable had happened. He had found her, the one woman who he could share his life with— a strange life that required complete commitment, trust and understanding from his partner. And it was his partner who had given it to him. He couldn't lose her now. The pain would be unbearable.
With a shakiness in his voice, he implored, "Lois, I'm *completely* in love with you."
Lois returned his gaze, the tears welling up in her eyes. That was what she wanted to hear, yearned to hear, but he had broken her heart. She had opened up to him like to no other man and he had given her pain in return. She had experienced pain before from other men, but this, this was different. Clark was different, and she knew it. She knew it deep inside her where the emptiness was growing and gnawing bit by bit at the love that had been there. It was because Lois finally understood what love was all about and loved a man as she had never loved before that the pain was so excruciating.
Clark looked in Lois' eyes. The sparkle that he loved was gone. He knew that sparkle well—the one when she got an idea—the one when she sensed intuitively where to take a story—the one when she knew danger was a part of the plan but realizing she could face it to gain the truth. And now all he saw in her eyes was a flat, painful, emptiness. Seeing the heartache he had caused, Clark realized that he simply had to convince her, had to explain why he had chosen so stupidly to walk away from that love.
"And I realize," Clark went on desperately, hoping and praying she would understand, "that turning my back on that love is way more dangerous than any hypothetical criminal could ever be. Oh, Lois," he said very softly, putting his hand up to cup her face. "I miss you," he told her sliding his thumb along her cheekbone.
Lois' breath caught as a tear ran down her face. "Me too," she choked.
"I've been wrong about some things," Clark explained looking deep into her eyes, "but not about this." He moved his face down toward her and gently kissed her lips. As Lois responded and he heard her sounds matching his desire, he quickly deepened the kiss.
Lois wanted his kiss, wanted this and wanted him. But she just couldn't. It was going to hurt too much. She was beginning to live with the pain and it would diminish, but not if she let him back into her life. "No," she said softly and put her hands up on his chest to push him away.
"No?" Clark asked, staring at her, not letting her push him away and not wanting to believe what he was hearing. He closed his eyes and pleaded silently that the last few days hadn't happened. He would give anything if he hadn't pushed her away just to protect her. His over-protectiveness and righteousness had finally gotten in the way. Why couldn't he have trusted that Lois and he could conquer anything? He opened his eyes as Lois moved out of his embrace.
"Clark," she said, walking away and then turning back, "you saved my life today for the millionth time." Lois paused, knowing that this was going to be hard for her to do but she had to. She just had to. "You were there for me," she said, her voice quavering and her body trembling as she continued to walk around the couch.
"I will always be there for you," Clark interjected quickly, fearful yet knowing where this conversation was leading. He began to cross toward her.
"Until the next time you decide to break my heart for my own good," Lois responded as he once more stood in front of her, his dark eyes searching hers. She closed her eyes and then, mustering up all of her courage, looked up at him, the tears no longer there. Instead, there was a sense of resolve, a sense of purpose. She had to get out of this 'push me, pull me' relationship.
She breathed a deep sigh. "I survived it this time," she said emphatically. "I don't think I would again."
Clark looked away and quickly back. He was obviously devastated by the revelation of how much he had hurt her and how she was going to defend herself. <Not this,> he thought.
"You know," Lois continued, as the tears were slowly coming back, "you saving my life doesn't give you the right to live my life," she said, gaining momentum as she put her hand up to touch his chest but quickly moved it back to point to herself. "Nobody has that right but me," she added slowly, with determination. "Not you and not Superman," she declared, turning her eyes toward the door.
Clark glanced at the door. "Lois," he said dejectedly as he saw her wipe a tear from her eye, "if you want me to leave, I will. But please," Clark begged, "don't shut me out of your life."
"Well, there's tomorrow…" She paused, trying to get through this. "…the Planet," she said matter-of-factly.
"Lane and Kent," Clark confirmed without much feeling. "The hottest team in Metropolis," he added, sensing the emotion continuing to drain from him.
Lois bit her lip to keep from crying. "News team," she emphasized quietly.
Clark stood there, not knowing what to do. Was it over? He thought back to the moment he first saw her and to the first year of their partnership. He reflected back on their growing friendship, his admiration for Lois and what he finally understood as his love for her. The second year brought the fantasy, the hope and the silent prayers that maybe eventually she would love him, too. And then came that wonderful day when Lois had admitted her love for him. Everything he had hoped for, he had dreamed of, had become a reality. And what had he done? He had thrown it all away. His fear for her safety had caused him to destroy it all. Although he now saw the fallacy in his thinking and had tried to gain it all back, it appeared that he had pushed her away once too often. Now it seemed as if there was nothing, just hollowness. All that meant anything to him was being snatched away. It had been replaced with hurt and pain.
Lois opened the door. "Good night," she said simply.
Clark couldn't move. He looked at Lois longingly. But he had to face the truth. This was what Lois wanted. "Good night," Clark repeated and walked out the door.
Lois closed the door and, slowly turning, leaned against it, a sick feeling coursing through her entire body.
Clark moved into the hallway, but he couldn't leave. <Lois, no! This can't be the way it ends,> he thought and he, too, leaned against the wall of the hallway looking up, praying for some miracle. And for the first time, thinking selfishly of his own needs, he closed his eyes and whispered the words "Help me."
"Clark," he heard a voice softly say. "I knew you were in trouble, so I came to help."
Clark refocused to look toward where the voice was emanating from. Walking toward him carefully out of the darkness was Star, Lois' supposed psychic neighbor.
"I came to help," she repeated gently. "Trust me, Clark, I really can help you."
Clark looked at the uniquely dressed woman. "I'm not sure anyone can help. I just need to get away," he said remorsefully and walked down the hallway past Star and on toward the stairs.
"Please, Clark," Star whispered, reaching out to touch his arm as he walked by, "let me try. Give me a chance."
Clark paused and turned to face her. "What's the use," he said despondently. "I brought this on myself." He shook his head slowly. "I can't believe how much I hurt her," he explained on the verge of tears. "The last thing I ever wanted to do was bring her pain." He looked back over his shoulder toward her apartment door. "My god, Star, I love her so much."
"I know," Star said warmly. "I know a lot of things." She took his arm and led him toward the stairs. "You may think I'm flaky and a kook, but I really want to be there for the two of you."
Star opened the door of her apartment and Clark entered behind her, hesitating a bit. She encouraged Clark to follow her and led him to a table, which sported a linen cloth bordered with Chinese characters, a crystal ball, candles, decks of cards, runes, scattered papers and several stacks of books.
Up in her apartment, Lois pushed herself away from the door and blindly ran to her bedroom where she threw herself on the bed. She buried her head in a pillow as the tears began to flow unabashedly. "Help me," she cried.
As if hearing something from a distant location, Star cocked her head. She smiled and nodded assent. "I can help you both," she said as she turned off the lights in her apartment and lit two of the candles on the table. "Please sit down, Clark," Star said as she motioned him to a chair at the table.
Clark stood there. unsure of what to do. "Star, I know you're a good person, but I really think I should just leave. I've got some thinking to do," he said, turning to go.
"You're Gemini, right?" she questioned sitting down at the table in the chair opposite the one she had indicated to Clark.
"No, Pisces," Clark responded absently, continuing to walk toward the door.
"That's really odd," Star began. "I thought Lois was a Gemini, too, when I first met her. I usually don't get these simple things wrong. I really can't understand this constant vision of a Gemini. But I *know* that I'm getting a schizophrenic feeling of two identities."
Just as he reached the door, what Star had said sunk in. Clark stopped abruptly and turned quickly on his heels, staring at her.
In her darkened bedroom, Lois turned quickly over on her back. She covered her eyes with her arm and took several deep breaths, attempting to quell the sobs that she couldn't seem to control. Thoughts of the two of them came to her mind—Clark and Superman. She knew they were one and the same, but the two sides of him were pushing and pulling at her.
Clark had said he had loved her that day in Centennial Park, when she was considering marrying Lex Luthor. Then, when she asked Superman about *their* future together, Superman pushed her away. Clark had proposed but Superman had come to her after she had been hurt by that blast and had pushed her away again. Now Clark had come to her that evening wanting her back. But would they…er *he* push her away again? They were *one* person but she wasn't sure she could handle his two identities' schizophrenic view of her.
Clark slowly walked back to the table as Star continued to speak.
"Your sun is in Pisces, which means you are imaginative, sensitive, compassionate, kind and selfless, but you possess a deep secret," she explained, motioning once more for him to sit.
Clark looked at her intently and then sank into the chair across from her.
"I bet your *moon* must be in Gemini," she said consulting a small book. "This astrological combination," she read, "indicates a personality that is in motion, never fixed or immobile. You are constantly tugging in opposite directions. Of course, you know what the sign of Gemini symbolizes," Star continued. "Gemini—the twins? When I look at you or Lois I see a third person or identity in this relationship somewhere," she said, looking expectantly at Clark.
"A third person?" he repeated.
"But, I don't, uhh, I don't seem to feel jealousy here," Star went on. "I feel something else. I'm not sure what." Star picked up an astrological chart that she had been working on. "Weird," she went on, "very weird. But I'll get it."
Clark looked down at the array of things on the table, wondering how he had gotten himself into this. Maybe it would keep his mind off what had just occurred upstairs. At the same time, Star seemed to gather some truths every now and then. She had been hinting at another identity. Maybe she had stumbled on to his truth somehow. <Had she discovered his secret?> he wondered.
Star began moving things around on the strewn table. "Most people ridicule the truths the cards and stars foretell. But you, above all, should have faith."
Clark looked up above her head on the wall. He noticed a framed quotation by Schopenhauer. It read 'All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self- evident.' Perhaps there was some truth to be learned here; and, being a strange visitor from another planet, who was he to question what the stars held in store for him.
Star began burning some incense and moved the two candles closer to her. "Let's see," she continued and looked at the papers spread out in front of her. Star indicated a large colorful document she had been working on. At the top of the sheet in a calligraphic style was written 'Lois Lane— Libra'.
"You're Pisces, she's Libra." Star smiled. "That's a match made in heaven. Libra and Pisces are good friends as well as good lovers." She perused the work in front of her. "There will be some conflict. But you are meant for each other and will make it," she explained and smiled at him once more. "*Believe* me, Clark, you and Lois will make it."
Clark smiled back at her. <She's grasping at straws,> he thought, pushing the idea that Star might know who he was out of his mind. <She's just saying what I want to hear, that's all. All fortune tellers use that gambit,> he thought.
Lois couldn't sleep. She sat up and clasped her arms around her knees rocking back and forth. In the distance she could hear a siren blaring. She looked over at the phone. <Clark would be home by now. She could call him,> she thought. Now *she* was indulging in push me, pull me behavior. Whenever she felt torn by what to do, Clark was always there to temper her emotion with reason. But now he was the cause of her emotional tug of war. Yet she needed to hear his voice. She needed him to say the things she wanted to hear.
Downstairs in the room filled with New Age paraphernalia, Star looked confidently at Clark. "You may think I'm just saying all of this to make you feel better," she said. "But, putting all of this together, I know what I see."
"Star," Clark tried to interrupt.
"Shh!" she quieted him as she picked up a thin piece of parchment that Clark could guess was rice paper. Across the top of the parchment were depicted twelve animals and four elements with their corresponding Chinese characters. These were the same characters that were silk screened on the tablecloth in front of them.
"You were born in 1966, right?" Star said, not waiting for an answer. "That is the year of the horse; which makes you a mover, a leader and a humanitarian," she read, stopping to look at him and then continuing. "During 1966, the element—fire, was influential. I see a…a fiery object from the sky," Star said looking at Clark, and realizing that she had struck some kind of nerve, decided to try a different approach.
"Now let's see your hand, Clark," she demanded, taking his hand in hers before Clark could stop her. She stroked his palm several times and then closed her eyes. "You're from a long way away."
"Kansas," Clark quickly added.
"No, um, much further," she explained and opened her eyes. "Maybe it's in a former life, but I sense…I sense another planet. I've been an astral traveler myself, so I understand these things," she said hurriedly and looked directly at him.
Clark started to protest but Star put her palm up in front of his face to prevent him from speaking.
She turned his hand over and then looked at his palm again. "Clark, from everything we have been looking at and now here in your palm, I know that you are a kind, strong, generous soul. You have a caring heart and you possess many *unique* powers that you use to help people." She stopped as she felt him pull away his hand.
Meanwhile upstairs, Lois felt a knot grow in her stomach. Clark needed her. He was worried about something. She wasn't sure how she sensed it, but she did. She reached over to pick up the phone. Then, immediately steeling herself, pulled her hand away from the receiver.
Clark looked at his hand, closing both of them into fists. He scrutinized Star, a worried look on his face.
Seeing Clark's concerned face staring at her from across the table and knowing that she had to allay his fears, at least temporarily, Star added quickly, "that power you have, it's…it's your work on the newspaper, I'm sure…uh…you, know…the power of the press to fight for people in trouble and against injustices, right?" She grinned as if she knew a secret and picked up a deck of exotically decorated Tarot cards. <She *knows*,> thought Clark.
"I know a great many things, Clark," she replied, as if to answer his thoughts. "Sometimes I get them a little wrong, but believe me, I *know*. Please, just trust me." She handed Clark the deck. "We have one more journey to take. Shuffle and cut the cards, Clark."
Lois looked at her hands and clenched them both. <I can't call him,> she thought and sat up on the edge of her bed. This was going to be an incredibly long night. Sleep was becoming the farthest thing from her mind. She kept replaying the evening's events. How was she going to sleep? Clark's face constantly invaded her thoughts. She still felt his kiss on her lips. She brought her hand up to her lips. That wonderful kiss, the gentleness of his touch, the passion just beneath the surface waiting for her to say 'yes'.
'I'm completely in love with you' he had said. He loved her. She knew that. She had really known that for such a long time. But her loving him, that was a newer feeling for her. But pain and hurt, that was *not* a new experience. But just as her love for him was deeper than any love she had ever known, her pain was more acute as well. She needed to redirect her feelings, to move, to do something to keep from seeing his face, from hearing those words, from feeling his kiss. She began pacing around and around the apartment, attempting to sort things out.
Star took the deck that Clark returned to her and dealt out the cards in the form of a cross. She turned over a card and there was an audible intake of her breath.
Clark looked at Star carefully. He could tell from her face that the card in front of her was scaring her.
Star turned over another card and smiled with a sense of relief. "Okay," she said. "Here we go. There's going to be a lot to talk about."
Clark looked at the strange woman in front of him and thought about getting up and running for the exit, but he seemed to be riveted to the chair. "I guess I'm ready," Clark responded, torn between believing that he should get away from the woman who was getting too close to the truth, or staying to hear those truths.
"Clark," she said, pointing to the first card. "This is the Lovers card but it is in reverse position. This means a lot of trouble for the two of you." She passed her hand over the card. "I get a feeling that you and Lois will have to face many crises during your relationship. Both of you are going to be tested again and again and again. Much will come between you as you travel toward the end of your journey."
Exhausted, Lois sank down on her couch. She opened the drawer in the coffee table and pulled out a scrapbook she had been keeping. The title on the front read 'Lane and Kent'. She began leafing through the pages.
The candles in Star's apartment were beginning to burn low. In the remaining light, Clark looked at Star, unsure of what to think or say next. Hadn't he and Lois already faced more than most couples? Their years as Lane and Kent and his as Superman had brought them into contact with murderers, terrorists, and depraved scientists. They had done their best to fight against this evil and bring it to light. And, although his relationship with Lois had grown out of their need to cling to each other, it had taken second place to this battle and bore the brunt of its impact.
Star pointed to the second card displayed in front of them. "This next card is the Strength card and it tells me that your love will eventually be strong enough to overcome all the monumental trials and tribulations set before you," she said as she leaned over to touch Clark's hand.
Clark looked once again at the quotation by Schopenhauer. He could barely read it now that the candlelight had faded, but he knew what it said. Truth had been a guidepost for him. Could he face that truth?
Star lit three additional candles and turned over the next two cards. "These are the Ace of Cups and the Three of Cups. The Ace tells me that you and Lois will be married." She touched the card and closed her eyes. "October 6, 1996 is the date of your marriage."
Star, deep in thought, ignored Clark's sharp intake of breath and continued. "However…" She put her two index fingers to the temples on the sides of her head and, closing her eyes, said "I sense conflicting dates earlier than that, but it's the October date that seems to be ringing true." She looked quizzically at Clark as she reached out, taking both his hands in hers.
Clark wasn't sure how to respond. He and Lois would be married! Did he dare to think this was true? He wanted it so desperately. Could his desire cloud his judgement, his rationality so that he believed this peculiar woman who was weaving such an incredible tale—who was reaching…reaching for…
"I'm seeing something else, Clark," she whispered. "The stars, your palm, these cards —it all makes sense, now." She stared at him in amazement. "You're Superman, aren't you?"
"What?" Clark exclaimed, pulling back his hands again. "You *can't* be seeing that!"
"It's okay, Clark." She tilted her head. "I can keep your secret. But the cards and the stars don't lie. I knew I sensed two identities when I saw Gemini influencing your stars. And now here is the Three of Cups." She again pointed to the cards on the table.
Clark's eyes followed to look at the card she was indicating.
"This card tells me that there is a triangle in your relationship. But I see it's not another man, exactly. Lois' stars tell me that. I know," she said and looked at Clark understandingly. "We both know that Lois only loves and will only ever love you."
Clark looked away from the cards and back to the kind face that was trying to help him. He realized that there was no use arguing with the woman who sat across from him determinedly turning over the cards. He exhaled, not aware that he had been holding his breath. "You do see all of that, don't you?" he said quietly.
Lois put away the scrapbook and took out another one that was hidden below several National Organization of Women Newsletters, Time Magazines and assorted catalogs. This scrapbook had no label on it. She opened it to see the exploits of Superman chronicled in front of her.
"Clark." Star took his hand again. "You are two men inside one body. But there is only one soul, only one destiny," she explained. "Your other identity, Superman is constantly being challenged. But so are you right now. Clark Kent is the dominant entity. Superman gives you the power to do good. But it is Clark who defines you and knows what the good is. Clark is really the strong one, and it is that goodness and that strength that will eventually overcome any problem."
Clark looked at the cards again and then regarded Star. He wasn't sure how he should respond to all of this. He was exhausted. He didn't want to fight or tweak the truth or protest any more. And there was something in Star's eyes that gave him the courage to utter the next words.
"Yes, Star," he said, his resignation evident. "I am Superman." He took his hand away from hers and ran it through his dark hair. "Lois knows and has just begun dealing with it." He put his elbow down on the table and covered his eyes with his hand. "You're right. Our relationship has been complicated," he said, lifting his head up. "I find myself ecstatic to know that she loves me, but incredibly scared that she can be attacked or killed because of my love for her." He looked at Star pleadingly. "Tell me what should I do?"
Star put both of her hands up. "Just hold it, Clark. Give me a chance here," she said, and slowly she opened all but the last card on the table.
"Here are the Page of Wands, the Two of Swords, the Four of Wands reversed, the Tower and the Queen of Swords." Star took a deep breath. "Clark, you and Lois will be facing much together. There will be obstacles of biblical proportions."
Clark watched Star as she gathered up the nerve to tell him all that she saw in front of them.
Lois turned the pages of the scrapbook. She saw bombings, shootings, and abductions in the headlines of the Daily Planet. <Was there a jinx?> she thought. Perhaps Clark had been right to break off their relationship, and she, no matter how painful it turned out to be, was right to make sure it stayed that way.
"Clark, you and Lois will be near death several times during the next year," Star prophesied. "I see a flood and an ark. I see you imprisoned. I see snakes, I see frogs, I see an evil man rising from the grave to destroy you." She paused, looked at him and took both his hands in hers once again.
"I see Lois lost somehow and I see you changed into something less than you are," Star predicted and then stopped as tears came to her eyes. "And lastly," she continued as she gripped his hands tighter. "I see a journey that will separate you and Lois. I see her standing at a window alone with an agony in her eyes that ultimately will be the final test of your devotion to each other."
Clark shook his head slowly. There was a growing feeling in the pit of his stomach. He looked at Star and, with an anger and bitterness in his voice, he finally responded. "Why?" he asked, rising quickly. "Why do we have to be tortured like this? What have Lois and I done to deserve it?" he demanded and turned to leave.
Star leapt to her feet and reaching him turned him to face her. "You are special, Clark. Your love is special. You and Lois together can win out over all of this."
Clark looked at the hopeful woman. "A few days ago I told her that we couldn't be together anymore," Clark explained to Star, "It seems I was right." He again started toward the door.
"No!" Star exclaimed and barred his way. "That was wrong," she said defiantly. "You can't let her go."
"No!" Lois exclaimed and put the scrapbook down. "This is wrong," she said and stood up. "I can't let him go." She ran to the door and threw it open.
"I don't know anymore," Clark informed Star and turned. "Just now upstairs I told Lois what an idiot I had been and that I loved her and had made a mistake."
"And she didn't take you back," Star confirmed.
"How did you know?" he asked.
"You don't have to be psychic to figure that one out." Star chuckled slightly.
"What shall I do?" Clark looked at her for help.
Star turned and began walking toward her door. "It won't last long. She loves you too much," Star said over her shoulder, hoping Clark would believe her. "Lois will forgive you and the two of you together…"
Star put her hand on the doorknob without finishing her statement just as a banging began on the door.
Star opened it. "Hi Lois," she said even before seeing the shaken Lois standing in front of her.
Clark turned quickly and moved behind a Chinese screen that Star had separating the kitchen and living room just as Lois entered the apartment.
"Star." Lois was weeping. "I need to talk to someone. I need to talk to someone now."
"I know, Lois," Star said as she put her arm around Lois' shoulder and escorted her to the couch. "Sit here. I'll get some tea," she said and went into the kitchen.
"I pushed him away," Lois sobbed. "I…I rejected the only man that I could ever love. I love Clark so much, I want him back."
"I'm here, Lois," Clark whispered not able to conceal his presence.
"Clark!" Lois cried. "Oh, Clark," she said jumping up and throwing herself into his arms. "I didn't mean what I said. I was hurt. But, it doesn't matter because I know I have hurt you in the past, too. We seem to keep doing this," she said and reached up and touched his face. "But I can't live without you."
"I'll never let you go. No matter what we have to go through," Clark promised and, forgetting that Star was there, he leaned down and kissed Lois ardently.
Star cleared her throat and the two lovers separated and turned to look at her as she brought a tray of tea things to the table. "You may not want to stay and have tea, but we have things to talk about," she said as she sat down. "You have a great many choices to make."
Clark and Lois moved toward the table and eyeing Star, sat down. "What choices?" Lois asked.
"Clark will explain," Star told her picking up a cookie.
"Lois." Clark took her hand. "Star knows about my being Superman. She saw it in the cards," he explained. "We have had many unusual things happen to us so Tarot Cards cannot be easily dismissed as superstitious nonsense. We have to believe that there are some truths being told here."
"*Believe*, Lois," Star pushed.
"All right," Lois agreed looking from Star to Clark as the three of them sat down at the table. "I guess I can't just reject it if you tell me so, Clark. But what are the cards saying that makes both of you look so worried?" she asked looking back at Star. "They say that your love will continue to face obstacles." Star indicated the cards. "They tell a story of great suffering and turmoil that will take the strength of Job to overcome. But you and Clark have that strength."
"No! No!" pleaded Lois, putting her hands over her eyes. "I can't, he can't, we can't anymore," she cried, putting her hands out to grab Clark's arm. "It isn't fair," she spat out. "If this is true, isn't there any way we can cheat the cards?"
"There must be a way," Clark responded, knowing the look on Lois' face meant that she would not stop until an answer was found.
"What were you planning to do, If I hadn't intervened tonight?" Star asked Clark.
"I was going to go home and not sleep, fly around Metropolis, drift through space, just keep busy until tomorrow at the Planet when I would have to pretend to accept Lois' decision and just be her friend," Clark responded while putting his hand over Lois'.
"And you, Lois?" Star asked.
"Think about Clark, cry myself to sleep, arrive at the Planet and pretend that I had made a wise decision and buckle down to work," she responded and smiled up at Clark.
"Well, now, of course," Star said, "you won't do those things. So all of this could be different." She turned over the last card that was still face down on the table. Star smiled at both of them. "The Chariot," she said.
Clark and Lois looked at each other and then back at Star.
"This means a journey," she explained, "a journey that will change everything. It will be the start of an adventure of growth, excitement and ultimate happiness and joy. It says you should do something out of the ordinary, something spontaneous that will affect your relationship and create a new future." She looked from one to the other.
"Let's go," Clark said as he stood up spun around into Superman and picked Lois up in his arms.
"Yes." Star stood up. "Go, quickly. Do something about this. It may sound like a cliche but together you can do anything."
"Where to?" Lois asked as she was being flown through Star's living room window.
Superman flew Lois up high above the clouds. "I'm not sure what we should do, but this is a much better place to talk about it," he responded and enclosed her tenderly in his cape.
"Something spontaneous, Star said," Lois offered. "What's the most spontaneous thing you can think of?" she asked and put her head on his chest.
Superman looked around at the cloud vapors circling below them and the stars shining above. He had done a lot of thinking up here and he remembered fondly the first time he had brought Lois to this spot to experience the wonderment and comfort being high above the troubles below brought him. He stroked her hair and then, putting his hand beneath her chin, tilted her face upward. "Lois," he said lovingly and kissed her gently on the lips. "I once asked you if you believed in magic."
"I remember," Lois said and smiled at him. "You asked that of a different Lois—a Lois who had not had Clark Kent as a best friend, a Lois who had not learned of the existence of a man so rare, so loving, or so kind. I believe in magic, Clark, and it's right here in front of me."
Clark cupped Lois' face. "Let's get married tonight, right now," he said.
"Yes, oh yes," Lois accepted. "I've never wanted anything more in my life. It's exactly the right thing to do. But where, Clark? How?" she asked, her reporter instinct kicking in.
"We'll figure it out as we go," Clark replied.
Stopping at Lois' apartment, Lois quickly changed from her slacks and top to a white suit and, looking up at her husband to be, kissed him as he gathered her up in his arms.
Superman, carrying Lois tenderly, flew west until they saw the bright, garish lights of Las Vegas blinking below them. Seeking out an isolated spot behind a chapel, the newlyweds to be landed and quickly Superman became Clark Kent.
Clark and Lois walked into the 'Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel'. "This is certainly not us," Lois giggled.
"Yes," Clark grinned. "But it is definitely spontaneous."
"Oooh," Lois said, looking around. "Perry would absolutely love it here," she remarked and jerked her head toward all the Elvis decorations.
"Welcome, welcome lovebirds," said a jovial little man striding quickly toward the two. "Come on in. How can we help you?"
"We want to get married," Clark and Lois said at the same time smiling at each other.
"Well, of course you do," the man said as he looked at both of them. "You're the perfect team. Come into the office."
"My name is Ray Adams. What kind of a wedding do you want?" he asked, opening up a photo album to display his wares. "We have Elvis weddings, of course. But we also have Egyptian weddings, Gothic weddings and Hawaiian weddings. I sometimes dress up as Merlin and marry my couples dressed as Arthur and Guinevere. But looking at the two of you may I recommend…"
"Wait, wait," Clark stopped him and looked at Lois, then back at the man waiting patiently. "Can we just have a simple wedding with no costumes or special effects?"
"We're here to please," Mr. Adams answered. "But can't I convince you to try…"
"No, thank you," Lois smiled. "We don't need all those trimmings."
"Fine, fine," he said, looking a little downcast but accepting. "You have to sign these papers."
Clark and Lois complied and then followed him to the sanctuary of the chapel.
"Agnes!" Ray called out. "We need a witness."
"Coming," a warm voice responded.
Agnes hurried toward the front of the sanctuary. She was a woman in her late fifties dressed all in violet. Although short and quite ample, she moved gracefully and rapidly toward the couple.
"Welcome," Agnes said, her bright blue eyes sizing them up. "You're quite special, aren't you?"
"This is Agnes, my wife of 37 years," Ray said with obvious pride. "Agnes, this is Lois and Clark."
"They remind me of…" Agnes said and smiled at her husband. She stepped forward and took the couple's hands. "After all of the years and all of the weddings, I know something that will last when I see it. I see *so* much love in your eyes," she said turning to look at Ray and then up at the couple. "You'll have nothing to fear. You're going to make it."
"Thank you," Clark said, instantly liking her.
"Do you have rings?" she asked of them, realizing that they had made this decision on the spur of the moment.
"No," Clark replied. "I didn't, we didn't…no."
"That's perfectly all right," Agnes responded. "Just wait a minute," she said as she scurried out of sight.
"Agnes will be right back," Ray explained, looking fondly after the departing figure. "I know where she is going. Now," he went on. "Let me ask you about the ceremony. I believe you would prefer me to make it short and sweet so you can get on with your lives. Do you want to recite your own vows?" he asked knowing the response before he heard it.
"Yes," they said together as Agnes returned.
"Here, please take these," the kind woman said as she presented them with a small blue velvet box. "They belonged to someone very special to Ray and me, our son, and I have waited a long time to find two people who…" She stopped as tears came to her eyes.
"We can't," Lois said as she touched the older woman's shoulder gently.
"Please," Agnes beseeched. She looked at Ray who nodded. "It would mean so much to us."
"Of course," Clark said and smiled down at her as he took the obviously precious box from her hands.
Clark and Lois joined their right hands and turned to face Ray.
"This is a special day," Ray said looking at both of them. "This is your wedding day —the beginning of a new and glorious life together. I can see how much the two of you love each other and although you have and will face adversities, your trust, your friendship, and your strength will see you through."
Ray opened the box and gave Clark a ring.
Clark looked at Lois. "I love you, Lois," he began. "I have loved you from the day I first saw you and you mean everything to me. You are such an incredible woman whose energy and dedication are inspiring to watch. Before I met you I felt that I didn't fit in anywhere. You made me feel like I belong." He slipped the ring on her finger.
Ray gave the matching ring to Lois.
Lois smiled at Clark. "I love you, Clark," she said now that it was her turn. "You helped me to see that trust, faith and justice actually exist. You are a true friend and partner whose goodness is so special. Being with you each and every day has brought light into a world that I had begun to believe had only darkness." She placed the ring on his finger.
"With the power given me by the state of Nevada," Ray intoned. "I now pronounce you husband and wife."
Clark and Lois moved toward each other, their eyes gazing intently at the person they just married. They put their arms around one another and, gently at first then passionately, kissed.
They separated and, turning to the other couple, said goodbye to Ray and Agnes. Once outside, Clark looked around carefully and spun into Superman and picked Lois up in his arms once again.
Returning to Metropolis as the dawn was breaking in the eastern sky, Superman set Lois down in front of his apartment. Checking first, he spun back into Clark and gently lifted Lois one more time to carry her across the threshold.
"Welcome, wife," Clark said putting her down and looking at her adoringly.
"I love you, husband," Lois responded and placed her arms around his neck.
"You must be exhausted," Clark eyed Lois.
"Not that exhausted." Lois smiled seductively at him as she moved closer to kiss him.
Just then, a knock came at the door.
"Who could that be, at 5:00 o'clock in the morning?" Clark said as he climbed the steps and answered the door.
"Mr. Kent," the diminutive prim-looking man said. "I'm H. G. Wells."
"The writer?" Clark looked incredulous. "This is ridiculous. H.G. Wells died in 1946 and…"
"Before we go through this again…" Mr. Wells informed him.
"Again?" Clark interjected.
"Just bear with me, Superman," Herbert offered quickly and he pushed passed him into the apartment. "Sit down, both of you."
"Who doesn't know?" Clark sighed. "It's beginning to feel like the most inept kept secret in the world."
H. G. Wells smiled as he waited for them to catch up to him and then followed Lois and Clark as they sat on the couch. He settled himself in a chair across from them.
"I met both of you just a while ago when we chased a villain named Tempus back to the past where he was trying to kill you, Superman, as a baby." He paused to let this sink in.
"You won't remember it because I brought you back to a time period before we began that trip. I have visited the future as well as the past and know what is to come. You and I fixed the past and prevented Tempus from destroying you. But now you two have changed the future and I simply cannot let that happen." He stopped for effect. "There is too much at stake."
Lois and Clark looked at each other and back at Mr. Wells. They both sensed with trepidation that they were going to hear something ominous.
"Star was right," H. G. Wells explained. "Much was going to happen to both of you while your love was tested to see if it can withstand the obstacles placed in front of you. The incredible story of how the two of you overcame crisis after crisis is the foundation of the world to come—our future."
Clark put his arm around Lois' shoulder and took her hand in his.
Tears began to come to Lois' eyes. Again happiness was being ripped away from her.
"A Utopian Society," Mr. Wells continued, "was created out of your fight against injustice, out of your love and out of your goodness. Without that struggle, without that pain, there will be no brave new world. You *must* experience it. The peaceful world that awaits us will not exist otherwise."
Lois looked up at her husband. "Clark, make him stop," she pleaded.
Clark looked at his wife. He knew what he had to say, but how could he? He glanced back at the little man sitting opposite them. Clark didn't understand why, but he believed him. Something told him that he and Lois' attempt to cheat the cards had failed.
"You know we have to listen to this, Lois," Clark told her. "So much depends…"
"I've had enough crises to last a lifetime," she exploded and leaped to her feet moving away. "We have had our share," she practically shouted, turning back toward them. "Make someone else go through it for a change. Not us!"
Clark went to her and took her in his arms. "You don't mean that, Lois. We can't wish this on others," he said, caressing her. They may not be strong enough to endure it. Remember when I told you that this thing between us was stronger than me alone. Well, it is. We can make it," Clark said, kissing the top of her head, which was buried in his chest.
"Clark, you are fond of Chinese philosophy," Herbert said as he regarded the couple holding fiercely on to each other and walked to them. "As a person born in the year of the horse, you are a humanitarian, you care for others. The events you have prevented by eloping not only changes the promise of a Utopian Society, it impacts on those along the way—those you helped during each of your adventures and those misanthropes you disabled as you met each crisis presented you."
Mr. Wells took both of their hands and escorted them back to the couch, encouraging them to sit. He sat on the coffee table in front of them and looked at Lois and Clark compassionately.
"The Chinese character for crisis is a combination of the symbols for challenge and opportunity. Meet each crisis as a challenge to overcome and as an opportunity for your love to grow. See it as a chance for those of us who watch and wait to learn how a love so strong makes each one of us who bask in its light a stronger person as well."
Lois and Clark looked at each other again. They both knew what they had to do. They removed their rings and gave them to Mr. Wells. Clark took each of Lois' hands and, turning them palm up, kissed each one. "Until October 6, 1996," he said.
Lois took her hand and fixed the lock of hair that had fallen onto his forehead and then kissed his lips. "Until then," she said.
"Your chariot awaits outside," Herbert informed them.
The three walked out of Clark's apartment. A whirring sound was heard and all of a sudden…
Lois and Clark were back in Lois' apartment. They were standing opposite each other, both obviously sharing emotional pain.
Clark glanced at the door. "Lois." he said dejectedly as she wiped a tear from her eye. "If you want me to leave, I will. But please," Clark begged, "don't shut me out of your life."
"Well there's tomorrow…" She paused, trying to get through this. "…the Planet."
"Lane and Kent," Clark confirmed without much emotion. "The hottest team in Metropolis," he added, feeling the emotion continuing to drain from him.
Lois bit her lip to keep from crying. "News team," she emphasized quietly.
Clark stood there, not knowing what to do. It was over. Or was it? Strange flashes of scenes were invading his mind. He felt like Alice down the rabbit hole as he saw cards chasing him. He shook his head and tried to make sense of what was going on.
Lois opened the door. "Good night," she said.
Clark couldn't move. He looked at Lois longingly. But he had to face reality. This was what Lois wanted. "Good night," Clark repeated and walked out the door.
Lois closed the door and, slowly turning, leaned against it, a sick feeling coursing through her. She looked down at the third finger of her left hand and, trying to remember something, touched the vacant spot.
Clark moved into the hallway, but he couldn't leave. <Lois, no. This can't be the way it ends,> he thought and he, too, leaned against the wall of the hallway looking up, praying for some miracle.
Clark looked down the hallway expectantly. Something told him the answer to his prayer would come out of the darkness. He waited. Nothing happened. He moved down the hallway slowly.
When he arrived back at his apartment, he walked toward the phone. He put his hand on the receiver. <No,> he thought. <We have to do it her way.> There just didn't seem like there would ever be an end to their torment.
Just then he noticed a package on the table. The package, wrapped with a simple blue ribbon, had a card precariously perched on top. Clark opened the card. Inside there was a picture of a Tarot Card—the Chariot. Below it read,
'You can only go halfway into the darkest forest; then you are coming out the other side — A Chinese proverb.'
It was signed, Star.
He opened the package and inside was a small blue velvet box with a handwritten note taped to its side.
'Don't open until October 6, 1996.' It read. This one was signed HGW.