By Betsy R.
Submitted: April 2003
Summary: An angry Clark reveals more than he planned, and his actions force Lois to face a few facts she'd rather avoid in this season one vignette.
Author's Note: Everybody has a favorite scene/ep to re- write. Mine seems to be Barbarians at the Planet. What if Clark had reacted just a little differently when Lois said she would love him even if he were an ordinary man? I've tried to keep to the characterizations of Lois and Clark that we were given at the end of Season 1… Thanks to those who sent me the transcripts to Barbarians at the Planet. Thanks also to Carol who is a great proofreader!! Any left-over mistakes are mine, I promise!
Disclaimer: Not mine. I only wish they were.
Continuity: First season through BaTP
*"If you want it come and get it, for crying out loud the love that I was giving you was never in doubt let go of your heart, let go of your head and feel it now…"*
—David Gray, Babylon
He'd put it off for hours now, but he knew he had to get it over with — the confrontation.
After dumping all over him — Clark — this afternoon, Lois was now going to throw herself at Superman. Her continual blindness to reality not only hurt, it made him mad. Really, really mad. He knew he shouldn't go to her in this mood, but it had been her request.
Whatever Milady desired.
Flying quietly through the invitingly open window, Clark took a look around and saw Lois. Stunning Lois, in a beautiful nightgown. Lois as he had only ever dreamed Lois could be: open, inviting. Just like her window.
He sneered inside as he thought about what her expression would be if Clark had come in through the door instead of Superman through the window: embarrassment, dismissal. Only the best for a supposed best friend.
Grinding his teeth in frustration, Clark tried to clear the red haze from his gaze. Her fawning address didn't help.
"Superman!" Lois blushed, a mixture of friendship and hero-adulation shining from her eyes.
He tried to be polite. "I heard you wanted to see me."
"Yes. Please, come in. I'll just put on a robe."
"Unless it's lead-lined, Lois, it's a waste of time." Politeness be damned. He couldn't hold all the hurt in, and a little barb might dissuade her from what he knew was coming.
Blushing, Lois stammered. "I guess so. Anyway, I'm just trying to figure out…" He tried to make himself more distant and impersonal than normal — and it seemed to be working. Lois — who was never at a loss for words — was having a hard time telling him what she wanted. He only hoped that she would continue to do so and that he could leave before the conversation got too awkward. "Well, there've been a lot of changes going on in my life and I'm trying to make the right decisions, but I can't until I know… how you feel."
Walking closer to Superman, Lois gently placed her hand on his warm, strong chest. He forced himself not to react.
"Superman, is there any hope for us? You and me? I'm so completely in love with you that I can't do anything else without knowing."
Her heartfelt plea melted some of Clark's frozen demeanor, and he tried very hard to answer firmly but politely.
"Lois, I do care for you. But… there are things about me you don't know, that you may never know."
"It doesn't matter. I know *you*. And I don't mean you the celebrity or you the superhero. If you had *no* powers, if you were just an ordinary man leading an ordinary life, I'd love you just the same. Can't you believe that?"
Clark pulled away, meaning to end the discussion there. But the way she said it — if he were ordinary… Something in him just wanted to lash out and prove her wrong. He wanted to force the scales from her eyes and make her see him, *truly* see him.
Eyes blazing, he looked down at her. "Even if I were, say, ordinary like this?"
In a spinning flurry of blue and red, Superman changed before her. He changed into an ordinary man: the most ordinary man Lois knew.
Clark stood, immobile, letting the truth sink in. He didn't trust himself to say any more; he had already revealed more than he intended in his anger and hurt. He couldn't take it back, though the look in her eyes almost made him wish he could.
Clark stood before her. And Lois didn't know what to do. Shaking her head, she stared, her mouth agape.
"It can't be. I would have known." She stopped then, staring. Wanting to pinch herself, she let the truth sink in. Both truths: that Superman and Clark Kent were one and the same person, and that Lois Lane was an idiot.
"I should have known. How could I not have known?" Stumbling to the couch, Lois sat down but didn't break eye contact with the living proof of her own inability to see what was right in front of her.
"I can't believe I'm such an idiot! How you must have laughed at me — stupid, gullible Lois. How many video tapes you've returned. Dentist appointments, haircuts, cheeses of the month. And I couldn't see it. Wouldn't see it. All those flimsy excuses, and I never once questioned you. Some investigative journalist I am."
Clark couldn't ignore the self-doubt — even anguish — in her eyes anymore. It broke through his own self-pity and anger. Slowly sitting next to her, he placed a strong, steady hand on one of her clenched fists.
"Lois Lane, you are the best reporter alive. You smell the air and find hints of scandal and corruption, and you don't stop until you find it and fix it. You're amazing. Don't you ever doubt that. I've been lying to you almost since I met you. For a good reason, mind you. But still…"
Rolling her eyes, Lois pulled her hand away and exhaled in a sharp, angry puff.
"Does it really matter, Super Clark? Or is it Clark Man? You've proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lois Lane is a fool. Congratulations."
Though her words were full of anger, Clark could hear how upset she was, and it tore at him.
"Lo-is. Lois. Look at me." When she finally turned her tear-filled eyes back to him, he cupped his hand on her jaw. "Everything I said this afternoon is still true. I love you. I know you're not a fool. But we all have our weaknesses. I have two big ones — Kryptonite and Lois Lane." That brought a small smile to her face. "Maybe for you, you're so intent on looking for stories that you don't see things clearly right next to you. It's all in the perception."
At first, all Lois could hear in this speech was that she was weak. Instantly, she wanted to argue. But then, her brain processed the only important phrase Clark had actually said. He loved her. Clark loved her. Knowing that she could be weak. Knowing that she wasn't perfect. Even after she had rejected him in the worst way, Clark loved her. It was something to store inside, something to think about, this revelation.
"But, Lois, please. Please listen to me."
Focusing her eyes back on him, she noted the distance in his eyes. He was becoming Superman again, not Clark. She could see now that there were pieces of both men in both guises. Another insight to think about later.
"I know that, after how I've lied to you, you'll probably never trust me again. I swear, I've never lied to you as Superman, so if it helps you to believe, pretend it's Superman who's telling you this. As badly as you misjudged me, you're misjudging Luthor. I *know* he's not what he seems."
Lois's eyes narrowed.
"Back to Lex is it? Is that the only reason you told me the truth tonight? Are you in some kind of competition with Lex?"
She realized her mistake almost instantly. The warmth was completely gone from him. Where he had been her concerned friend, Clark, he now was the Superman who had come to her window that night. Oh, he was still dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, but her best friend was closing himself off, quickly. She wanted to take it back, but Lois Lane didn't take things back. Ever. Instead, she chose to raise her chin and firm her jaw.
"Look, buster. You fly in here, expecting me to fall at your feet or something just because you *can* fly in here…"
"I think, Lois, you've gotten it a bit confused," Superman interrupted. And he was obviously Superman now. All pieces of Clark were hidden from view. "You invited me here. I think maybe a piece of you expected me to fall at your feet. But even if I were only a friend, not a potential lover, I would think you would at least *attempt* to listen to me. You claimed to love me. Obviously, that couldn't be further from the truth if you can accuse me of stooping to play on the same field as *Luthor*. Perhaps I shouldn't have warned you of him. Maybe I should let you be fooled by him as you were by me. But I don't deal like that. When I lied, it was to protect my family and myself and even, in some ways, you. When he lies, and he does, it's always to protect himself only."
His voice was icy accusation, the anger in him turning all thoughts of compassion aside. How could she not see the truth — even now?!
"As you haven't proven to be such a good judge of character lately," Clark continued with a nasty tone in his voice, "let me throw some things at you. Do you really think Dr. Antoinette Baines was working alone? Who would have had the funding to back her? Where did it come from? And the funding for the 'smart kids' experiments? Did you ever ask Superman who it was who was testing him — putting people at risk to see Superman's limits?
"Did you ever wonder about the fact that Luthor or his organization has had at least one financial tie with just about every investigative story you and I have covered this year? Have you even looked at how much insurance actually existed on the Planet? It doesn't strike you as odd that Jack — who had very little means of obtaining the ingredients for, let alone ability to make what must have been a very powerful bomb — is blamed for destroying the Planet — and that happened only *days* after a hostile take-over of the Planet?"
"Where's your evidence, Clark?" Lois demanded. "I see a lot of conjecture, but absolutely no proof."
"And when has that stopped you from actually thinking, questioning, wondering? You've gone after stories on less. I guess it's just too flattering to have the world's third- richest man paying you court, hmm?" Now, Clark realized he had gone too far.
"I knew it. You're jealous of him. I don't have time for that, Clark. When you have proof, come talk to me. Otherwise…"
"What? Otherwise what, Lois? I guess now that I've fallen off the pedestal you put me on as Superman, my opinion doesn't count? Even when I have more than a small amount of circumstantial evidence to back me up? But you're not willing to listen to an ordinary man. You only want the extraordinary. Sorry, Lois. I just can't be that for you. All my life, I've wanted to be ordinary. Not even my feelings for you are going to change that."
"Clark…" Lois started. She wasn't sure what to say. There was too much information, too many emotions laid bare. The hurt in Clark's eyes was tangible, and she didn't want to understand that she had hurt him this much not once but twice. She didn't even know she could have that power over someone.
Clark shook his head in bitter resignation. Before Lois could even form arguments in her head, he had spun back into his guise of Superman and had flown out the window.
Out of her life?
It struck her in that very moment that he could fly away. He could walk away. That loss would be more to Lois than if Lex drove away. She knew that in her head and her heart. But once again, her temper and her pride had gotten the better of her. *He didn't do much better!* her stubborn inner voice rallied.
Shaking her head, Lois walked back to the couch and tumbled into it. So many things made sense now, and she started putting the events of the past year into a different perspective.
The phone rang, interrupting her reverie. She let it ring, not willing to face anyone else tonight. The answering machine picked up, and Lex's voice came over the line.
"Lois, darling, I know I promised to give you time to think, but I want you to know how very much you mean to me, my dear. Please don't keep me waiting too long."
Lois looked at the phone. Lex wanted her. He listened to her when she spoke; he seemed to value her opinion. *So does Clark,* another inner voice said. *Maybe he wasn't so far off on that flattery thing.*
Was that all it was? Did she just feel flattered that such an important man had deigned to notice her? Or was it more? Lately, it seemed like Lex was the only port in the storm. Her parents weren't there for her, Lucy had moved out to California, the Planet was destroyed… Lex was all that was left.
Even if that was a big part of it — and it was a little more honorable than the ego boost dating such a famous man gave — it was still no reason to marry a man. It was using him. It wasn't being fair to him.
And it wasn't being fair to herself.
Clark *loved* her. She was sure of that. *And look where true love got your parents,* Practical Lois whispered in her mind.
*Look where it got Jonathan and Martha,* another voice, one she didn't often listen to, but seemed to be stronger this evening, countered.
Lois put her hands to her head, trying to stop the war inside.
*Stop moping. You're an investigative journalist, Lois, INVESTIGATE.* Which part of her conscience was it? Did it matter?
Wiping the tears haphazardly from her face, Lois got up and went to put on more comfortable clothes. A humorless chuckle escaped her lips at the irony of that thought. She had slipped into "something a little more comfortable" after she got home from the gym, hoping to lure Superman into confessing his undying adoration of her.
Now it seemed she knew the truth: Superman probably preferred her in sweats. Clark seemed to, anyway. After all, Clark seemed to like her as she liked herself. He didn't seem to want her to change — he loved her despite the fact that she had never tried at all to be her best for him.
Imagine if she actually invested in a relationship with him. They had more between them as friends than many married couples she knew. To know someone like that; to have no barriers… what would it be like? She had always thought it would smother her — an all-encompassing love. But, somehow, she didn't see Clark as the smothering type. If nothing else, she'd probably have to sign up for his free time as he had a heck of a hobby for her to compete with.
Of course, that was all based on the idea that Clark didn't think she was total pond scum at this point.
Pulling out a notebook, Lois mentally stepped back. Through his anger, Clark had let loose some pretty powerful speculation about Lex. Could he be right? Was there even more that he hadn't told her?
Her thoughts saddened suddenly as she realized she didn't have the Planet's resources to do some digging. And she didn't dare use LNN's archives.
That left the internet and her alma mater — Met U — and its vast, if disorganized, library. Maybe she could even get Manny to let her have one of his assistants help her do some computer queries. Meanwhile, she booted her laptop and started cross-referencing all of her information on Lex and his various companies, as well as creating files on all of the people she knew were connected with Lex. She still had her notes from when she was trying to get the definitive Lex Luthor interview, and Clark was right — notes from many of their investigations that year had links to Luthor Industries subsidiaries. Maybe it was a coincidence, but Clark was right about one other thing — Lois had investigated many things on less circumstantial evidence than this.
While Lois was working through — or, rather, simply avoiding — her confusion over all that Clark had revealed to her, Clark was dealing with an accident in one of the train tunnels through the Alps. The absolute confusion and danger of the situation focused him and helped him forget what he had done.
Once the smoke had literally cleared and all who could be saved had been saved, Clark flew to the top of the barren, icy peak he had just spent hours under. Sitting down, Clark allowed himself to think on what had happened that night with Lois.
The accusations he had thrown at her and the nasty way in which he had delivered them all came back to him. Oh, yes, he had acted just like an ordinary man tonight. An ordinary, spiteful, stupid man who let his own feelings ride over those of his best friend. Lowering his head into his hands, he rubbed his tired eyes. No amount of hurt or anger excused his treatment of her. He saw that now. He had acted like a frustrated five-year-old. He saw that, too. She was his friend, and he was supposed to be hers.
What had he hoped to gain by confronting her like that? He knew that when he challenged Lois, she always went in the opposite direction. And the whole way he told her about his disguise. Or didn't tell her. All in anger. All because some stupid part of him expected her to have ESP or something…
Wasn't the whole idea of the costume and persona of Superman meant to distract people from the idea that he could possibly be ordinary? Didn't he go out of his way as Clark, often, to appear to her as less than ordinary? How could he have expected her to see the truth when he had done all he could to hide the truth from her?
And would she ever accept his apology for his behavior? That was the biggest and most important question.
The only thing Clark knew for sure was that tonight, with a few moves and harsh words, he might have ruined forever his friendship with Lois. With a great sigh, he launched himself into the atmosphere toward home. It would soon be morning there — time to face the actions of the night before. He only hoped Lois would listen.
The hours of mental activity had made Lois feel better. Of course, she wouldn't be able to really get digging until the next day. Or, she corrected herself upon looking at the clock, later the same day.
Standing, she stretched out the kinks in her neck and back. What she had found was engrossing and unsettling. She understood why Clark wanted to investigate Lex. There were way too many coincidences to ignore. She still didn't want to believe that Lex was quite the villain that Clark thought he was, but the possibility was there.
Before she could think enough to stop herself, she picked up the phone. There wasn't an answer — she hadn't expected one. When she had been searching the internet for information about Luthor Industries, she had seen the breaking headline about the tunnel fire Superman was helping with. When the answering machine prompted her to leave a message, she wasn't sure how to begin.
"Clark. It's me. I just wanted to say… to ask you… I need time. Things are so different for me right now. Please… don't write me off, okay? I need my best friend. You've put up with me this long. I'm relying on your Smallville heart to give me some time to sort my head out. Things went badly tonight, but, somehow, I feel a little clearer than I have in weeks. I don't know how to explain it — I guess maybe the whole Planet thing knocked me harder than I thought it had. But I'm feeling more Mad Doggy today… and I want to thank you for that." She chuckled, knowing that Clark would understand that Mad Dog Lane had somehow gone into hiding lately. She was giving him fair warning that she was back.
She sobered then. "The truth hurts, but it also sets you free. I've been forced to face a few truths in the last couple of hours, and I have a feeling there are a few more waiting to show themselves to me, now that I'm willing to look. So, please, just wait for me. Don't give up on me, ok?" Close to tears, Lois hung up.
She hadn't meant to get so emotional — hadn't realized just how easily thinking of Clark made her emotional. Yet another kernel of truth to store and study. It had been a night of rollercoaster emotions: yearning, anger, self- doubt, acceptance. Each of those emotions had brought a revelation. Where the new awareness would take her was a choice Lois knew she had to make. But there was a new calmness in her — a peace she had thought forever gone when the Planet was destroyed.
Yes, she had lost material things, she had lost some friends. But this fight with Clark had forced her to see that she hadn't lost — and wouldn't lose — herself. Whatever that would mean tomorrow, tonight it meant that she felt peace and resolve. She would find who had taken her home. She would find who had hurt her friends — who had hurt her.
She would find out just what Clark Kent meant to her, and she would find out if she had enough depth and strength to let him mean everything.
With a small smile on her face, she turned to her bedroom and to sleep — a more peaceful slumber than she'd had in weeks.
Begun April 2002 Finished April 2003 (yes, I'm slow)