By Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: October 2004
Summary: Somewhere, in some far-away universe, there's a Lois and a Clark who feel that they've missed out on something.
Author's note: This story was written for Yvonne Connell's birthday. Yvonne is a very good friend of mine, as well as being the best beta-read I could ask for. So hope you had a great birthday, Y! Many thanks to Elena, Kaethel and LynnM for some very speedy, and really helpful, beta-reading. :)
A word of caution to intending readers: if you haven't read any of Yvonne Connell's stories, this won't make a whole lot of sense…
"You've been staring out that window for ten minutes now. I thought you were supposed to be painting the ceiling?"
"Oh. Yeah." He glanced at the paintbrush in his hand. "So I was."
"What's the problem? I mean, you could have this done in thirty seconds flat, couldn't you?"
"Yeah." He looked at the brush again, and then at the ceiling. And then he became a blur while, at the same time, the off- white ceiling rapidly became a soft magnolia.
"There. Done." And suddenly he was standing beside her again, but this time with a few splatters of cream-coloured paint on his T-shirt.
"So what was so hard about that?"
"Oh, nothing." But his expression went distant again; Lois had a feeling that he wasn't focused on painting the baby's room.
"Honey? What is it?"
"Sorry." He made an effort to smile. "I'm just being silly, I guess."
"Oh?" Lois raised her eyebrows. "And that's something new? About what this time?"
He sighed and put down the paintbrush. "Does it ever feel to you as if we've just had things too easy?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well…" He strolled to the window-seat and sat down, patting the space beside him. Lois crossed to join him.
"Too easy how?" she prompted.
"Oh, it's kind of stupid, I guess. But I just feel… well, as if I haven't really had any challenges in my life. In *our* lives. Not like our counterparts have. And… I wonder if it's a good thing."
Lois frowned. "I'm still not sure what you mean."
"Okay. Well, for example, you know my parents died when I was a kid?"
"It was tough, I can't deny that. But I was lucky — Lana's family took me in. They were really kind to me, and I had a pretty good upbringing in the circumstances. And, sure, Lana and I were idiotic enough to think that we could actually get married — pretty crazy, given that I've always thought of her as a sister — but once we both admitted that it was a mistake we've been great friends again. She doesn't hate me, and I don't spend my life worrying about how badly I've hurt her."
"Yeah, but that's a good thing, isn't it?"
"Oh, sure. I mean, Lana's a nice person. I'd hate to think of her as a vicious shrew out for revenge against me. But, you see, that's all part of it. I've never had any girlfriend trouble."
"And that's bad?"
Clark shrugged. "Oh, of course in some ways it isn't. I mean, I am glad I never had to go through my girlfriend getting blown up right outside my apartment, and then go through agonies of self-hatred because I didn't save her. I hardly even *had* any girlfriends, much less a revolving door on the bedroom. And as for dating a really nice woman like that Assistant DA Mayson Drake when I didn't love her… naah. Never did anything like that either."
"And you think I'm complaining about that? If you'd dated her, I'd have to scratch her eyes out."
Clark grinned. "Okay, so I suppose I'm glad that she gets to keep her eyes. But, you know, in different circumstances I could have been… well, pretty different. And I wasn't. I mean, I've lived a thoroughly boring existence! I never lived upstairs from a woman with bizarre Superman fantasies. And there was the other Lois, too. Remember I told you about the way I met her?"
"Yeah — she was thrown into our universe, wasn't she? And she helped you to become Superman."
"That's right. And I met her again about a year later, when her husband disappeared."
"I remember." Lois frowned slightly. "Didn't you almost kiss her?"
He nodded, looking faintly ashamed. "It was a moment of madness. I mean, I knew she was married. I knew it wasn't me she wanted. But there was just something… Anyway, the important thing is that we didn't."
"That's true. So… what about her?"
"Well, she told me that the feelings I had for her then weren't real. That they were just a shadow of what I'd feel for *my* Lois."
"Oh?" Alarm-bells were starting to ring now. "And… what? You'd better not be telling me that I'm not the love of your life, Flyboy. Not when I'm within six weeks of giving birth to your child!"
"No, Lois, that's not what I meant!" Clark grabbed her hand, then reached for her and kissed her deeply.
Thus reassured, once he drew back Lois tried again. "So what exactly did you mean?"
"Just that she was *right*, Lois. I realised as soon as I got back here to my own world that I didn't love her. I mean, I never lay awake at nights dreaming about her. I never felt that my whole world had come to an end because I couldn't have her. And I never tortured myself with thinking of her and him together. I just… wasn't in love with her."
"Well, you're not going to hear me say that that's a problem," Lois commented dryly.
"But, Lois, you don't understand. I never even had a minute's heartache over her. I certainly never felt the need to… oh, I don't know, look for something to help me cope with the pain and the loneliness. I mean, sure, I was lonely. I didn't have you. But I had friends. And I had faith that Mr Wells would find you. He'd promised me, after all."
"He certainly did find me," Lois observed with a grin. "That was kind of funny. I mean, there I was, in deep cover, pretending to be an aid worker… and this weird guy in a bowler hat and quaint clothing and an even quainter accent appeared out of nowhere and told me that it was time to come home! And then, when I insisted that I had to get the story, this… apparition in red and blue Spandex appeared and just got all the evidence I was missing. Just like that! And then you flew me home. All in the space of a couple of hours. And then we were able to put Lex Luthor away for twenty years."
"Exactly. So easy. I mean, I didn't have to search the world for years to find you. You weren't hurt. You weren't traumatised in any way. You knew exactly who you were — not even a hint of amnesia. You hadn't been captured by rebel soldiers. Lex Luthor barely knew who you were — he'd certainly never been able to catch sight of you, let alone make you his sex-slave. And as for putting him in jail… well, how straightforward was that? We took the evidence to Inspector Henderson, and within the hour Luthor was in custody. He barely had time to call his lawyer, let alone try to get his revenge against us or hurt me in any way."
"I see what you're saying, Clark," Lois agreed slowly. "I mean, it wasn't as if I'd been struck dumb by the trauma of everything that had happened to me, was it? And I didn't need counselling when I came home. Can you imagine?" she added, waving a hand as if in illustration. "Me being treated by someone like that guy on TV?"
"You know! The fat one with the great sense of humour. Who swears a lot."
"Oh! George! Oh yeah." Clark laughed. "Yeah, I can't imagine you dealing with him. Or his sidekick, Francine. I'm not sure which of you would survive the encounter. But could you imagine me seeing someone like him, either?"
Lois shook her head. "A shrink — even someone like George — taking you and Superman apart? I mean, even if you had any hang-ups, which you don't, you'd drive him crazy. You're just too… *normal*! You're not screwed up. You got over your guilt complex about not saving everyone long ago. You just don't have any fears at all — flying, the sun, the unknown… You're not even obsessed about being an alien!"
"No, I'm not, am I?" Clark frowned again. "Darn it. I don't even have that hang-up. That's all Trask's fault."
"Yeah, I remember you told me. Didn't he try to take you away from your parents when you were just a kid?"
"That's right. He told them that he could help me with the weird things that were happening to me. But they told him to get lost — and then as he was driving away, his car hit a cow and he was killed."
"What about Tempus?" Lois asked. "Didn't you have some problems with him?"
Clark shrugged. "Not really. Okay, sure, he was responsible for exposing me as Superman. He was the one who brought the other Lois here in the first place. But it was fine — I've never had any problems separating out my private life from Superman. And once Dr Klein found a way to block Tempus's dimension-hopper from this universe's frequency I didn't have to worry about getting any more misery from him."
"I'm really starting to see what you mean," Lois said ruefully. "It has been too easy, hasn't it? I mean, where's the excitement? Where's the challenge?"
"Where's the character-growth that comes from struggling through adversity?"
"Yeah! Isn't torture supposed to be good for the soul? And wasn't it all too easy for us, too? I mean, you didn't have to fight for me. You never had to convince me that I wasn't some sort of substitute for a woman you couldn't have. And I never wondered how someone as amazing as you could possibly fall in love with me, did I? We just fell in love."
"Yeah." Clark shook his head sadly. "Do you think that maybe our relationship isn't as strong as it could be as a result? I mean, if I'd had to win you over, or spend months convincing you that you weren't something horrible —"
"Like a prostitute?"
"Exactly! If I'd had to do all that, maybe our commitment to each other would be deeper as a result?"
"Maybe," Lois said sadly. "I wonder if things would've been different, too, if I'd had to help you overcome… oh, maybe some insecurity? Or lack of confidence in yourself? Worry that you weren't as good at being Superman as the other Clark?"
"Yeah. I was never even jealous of him, was I? He's like a brother to me. And his Lois is like a sister. I can't imagine ever fighting with him. Or getting sulky and needing him to come and sort me out."
Lois glanced down at herself. "And even this was so easy, wasn't it, Clark? I mean, we decided that we wanted to have kids, and bingo! A month later I was pregnant. No fertility tests. No embarrassing discussions with Dr Klein. No irritating, interfering morons from New Krypton coming to drag you away from me just as I got pregnant and letting you return home to find me dead and our baby stolen —"
Clark shuddered. "Maybe that's one bit of excitement I could do without. I mean, torture's all very well, but I'd prefer that the bad stuff wasn't irrevocable."
"True. But, hey, it might have been okay. I mean, I could've come back to haunt you afterwards. That might have been fun," Lois teased.
Clark rolled his eyes, shaking off his horrified expression, and resumed his theme. "And did you notice that no-one ever tried to stop me from procreating, either?"
"That's true." Lois rolled her eyes. "No-one raving about the purity of the human race or any of that bull. Not that I'd have liked that. I mean, I can cope with all sorts of crappy stuff, and even agree that it's character-building — but disrupting our sex life? No thank you!"
"Oh yeah, and that reminds me — it never once occurred to me that I could hurt you. You know — when we make love? Because of my powers?"
Lois giggled. "Hurt me? Never! And if you ever dared hold back in bed, honey, I'd go out looking for some Kryptonite!"
Clark grinned too. "Nah. Too much fun this way." But then he sobered. "Still. It really has been too easy. And… well, I kind of feel cheated."
"You're right!" Lois exclaimed. "Cheated. That's exactly it!"
They sat together in silence for several minutes, simply contemplating the easy, straightforward… boring life that Fate had handed them.
Then Lois jumped to her feet. "I know what we can do!"
"Oh yeah." She grinned. "I just need to dig out an email address…"
"And then what?"
"Then we find a way to make our lives thoroughly miserable. Full of problems and self-doubt and trauma and angst and seemingly-insuperable obstacles."
"Wow!" Clark exclaimed. "That sounds wonderful! But how?"
"Simple." Lois grinned again. "All I have to do is send an email to Yvonne Connell and ask her to write our story from now on."
In case anyone was trying to keep track of the Yvonne-stories referenced in this, they are as follows (in order of writing, not in order of their appearance in this story):
Fear of Flying
Fear of the Unknown
Fear of Discovery II: Nowhere to Hide
Fear of Discovery III: Coming Home
Fear of Discovery IV: Lois and Clark and Clark and Lois
The Ultimate Mary Sue
(c) Wendy Richards 2004