By Moonshadow <email@example.com>
Submitted: August 2004
Summary: What if Lois *had* seen the note on the front of the card at the end of Tempus Fugitive? And what if her message wasn't quite as clear as she had thought it was?
In the middle of the time-traveling vortex, while Wells was busy piloting the machine, Lois surreptitiously eased a pen and something to write on out of her purse. Clark caught her movement, but noticing her attempt to be subtle, didn't question her. Instead, he leaned forward to ask Wells a question, doing his partnerly duty of distracting the witness while Lois snuck a bit of evidence into her purse…though, in this case, he wasn't sure exactly what she was planning.
When he leaned back into his seat, Lois showed him what she'd written, out of Well's possible eyeline, should the tiny little writer happen to glance away from the controls. "CK=S" was what she'd scrawled, drawing an inverted triangle around the "S" part of her little equation. She met Clark's eyes, silently asking his permission.
He held out his hand, and watched her face fall. She reluctantly handed him the envelope (Perry's birthday card, Clark realized) and the pen. Realizing their time was almost up, he quickly made one small addition, and watched Lois' face light up when he handed it back to her. He smiled back, knowing that she caught his meaning. The heart encircling her message would be a reminder to her that as angry as she might be with him, they loved each other. He'd even added a cute little curly-cue to the indent at the top of the heart, and another at the bottom. She raised an eyebrow, and he blushed. His mother not only made his suits, she'd taught him how to draw hearts back in second grade when he'd wanted to give a Valentine to his teacher, Ms. Henderson.
The exchange took no more than a few seconds, and Wells never noticed.
"Didn't you get Perry a card?" Clark asked, shrugging off the weird sense of deja vu they both seemed to be feeling.
"Oh, yeah. Hang on." Lois set her bag on her desk chair, turning her back to Clark as she removed the envelope and slipped the card out of it, laying the envelope face down on her desk, next to her coffee, while she quickly signed the card. "Here," she said, moving aside to give Clark space to do the same.
She flipped over the envelope to write Perry's name on the front, and froze for half a heartbeat. Then she quickly and purposefully proceeded to drench the envelope in coffee. "Oh, damn!" she exclaimed, and began to mop up the mess. "We'll just have to give it to him sans envelope."
She waited until Clark wasn't looking before she slipped the envelope, wrapped in tissues, into a drawer in her desk for safekeeping.
Clark frowned at Lois. "Where are you today?"
"Huh?" Lois asked absently, playing idly with her coleslaw.
"You haven't heard a word I've said," he accused. When she didn't answer, Clark reached over to take the coleslaw away from her. "Hello, Earth to Lois!"
She blinked dazedly at him. "Oh, I'm sorry, Clark," she sighed.
"Tell me what's on your mind," he said gently, giving her side dish back to her, and munching on one of his steak fries.
Lois shrugged, avoiding his eyes. "Nothing."
He rolled his eyes. "Don't give me that."
"Have you ever written yourself a note, forgotten about it completely, found the note, and still don't recall writing it?" she blurted suddenly.
Clark raised an eyebrow. If she wanted to change the subject, he'd let her. For now. "No, can't say as I have. Are you sure you actually wrote it?"
She sighed. "My handwriting, in my purse…I'm pretty sure."
"Maybe you're getting old," he teased, taking the last bite of his sandwich.
"Mmm," she replied absently, staring off into space.
"Can I ask what the note was in reference to?"
She blushed. "Nothing."
Clark's amusement faded. Maybe it hadn't been a subject change after all. "Lois, you know you can tell me anything."
She met his eyes. "The same thing goes for me, Clark. You know that, right? I mean, you can tell me *anything*. I would never judge, or …"
"Nah, of course not. You're not judgmental at all," he teased, lightening the mood, which had turned very intense all of a sudden.
"Not when it comes to my best friend," she said softly, still holding his gaze.
He wanted to reassure her that he would always tell her everything, but he couldn't. It wasn't true. Not yet, anyway. "That's good to know, Lois." He reached across the table to squeeze her hand.
"Let's get back to the office, okay? Oh, and lunch is my treat," she added, squeezing back.
Later that night, Lois sat alone in her apartment, looking at the stained envelope, now stiff and warped.
There were two separate issues to deal with. The first was, where had the note come from? She had purchased the card on the way in that morning… How could she have forgotten writing on it? Especially considering it's content… And why would she have chosen to write on that particular piece of paper?
To be sure she saw it. And quickly. But there was no denying that the handwriting was hers, and it was even written in the ink from her favorite pen…although the heart wasn't quite her style.
Pushing that aside for the moment, Lois moved on to the second issue: what did the cryptic message mean? No matter which way she looked at it, however many scenarios she ran through in her mind, she could only think of one possible meaning.
Clark and Superman were in love.
She was left completely flummoxed by the information. But the more she thought about it, the more it made sense. Clark was on ridiculously good terms with his mother. He was a great cook and, aside from the ties he wore, an amazing dresser. He obviously cared about his appearance a great deal to maintain the body he had. And he was extremely respectful of women, almost abnormally so by the standards of the day.
All of these points were stereotypical, and when she'd first considered the possibility that he led an alternative lifestyle, long ago when they'd first met, Lois had brushed off the idea pretty quickly. But now she had other things to add to her growing suspicions.
The first was the note.
The second was that Superman could be gay, himself. The outfit he wore was, by far, the most flamboyant thing she had ever seen *anyone* wear. Sure, he could claim it cut down on wind resistance, and she had certainly never complained about seeing him in it, but now that she thought about it, it was rather suspicious. And he, too, like Clark, was extremely courteous of women. A very superhero-ish stance to take, to be sure, but there were other possibilities, as well.
The third was that darned love triangle the three of them seemed to be embroiled in. If two of the members were secretly in love, but trying to hide it, it certainly explained the hot and cold way they each treated their separate relationships with herself. Did they each possibly *want* something to happen with her, but every time they got close, couldn't go through with it because of their true feelings for each other?
Damn, now she was confusing herself inside her own mind.
Lois sighed, getting to her feet. Determined, she grabbed her coat, slipped on a pair of running shoes, and made her way to her car.
"I'm not sure, Mom. It was just kind of weird."
"Do you think she could have figured out your secret, and was giving you the opportunity to fess up on your own?"
Clark sighed, tucking the phone between his shoulder and ear as he dried the dishes. "I highly doubt it. If she knew that, she wouldn't have been subtle about it. She'd have torn me to pieces—without needing to resort to Kryptonite, by the way— but she definitely wouldn't have acted like she did today. No, something else is bothering her."
"Well, maybe you should wait for her to tell you, son," Jonathan spoke up.
"That can be a dangerous proposition when you're talking about Lois Lane, Dad. If she's up to something, she can get into trouble faster than I can get her out of it sometimes."
"Then just ask her, honey. You're becoming closer, romantically speaking, but she's still your best friend. You said she reminded you of that just today. Take her at her word."
Clark heard a knock at the door. "I just might, Mom. She's here."
"Good luck, and give her a hug for us."
"Will do. Love you, Mom, Dad." He hung up and went to answer the door.
"Come on in. I'm just finishing up the dishes."
Lois chewed on her lip. "Did you cook something?"
"Yeah, I was trying out a new recipe. An Italian dish. Did you eat dinner?"
"Uhm, no. But I'm not really hungry."
"Well, why don't you take the leftovers with you? You can heat them up if you get hungry later." The pained look she gave him made him pause. "What's wrong, Lois?"
She didn't answer him, eyeing the phone in his hand. "Who were you talking to? Did I interrupt?"
"Nah, just my parents," Clark said, putting the handset back in its charger. "They send their love, by the way."
"How did they know it was me?" Lois asked, bemused.
Clark blinked. "Uh, they didn't. I didn't. Just, you know, next time I saw you…"
"Oh." She looked a little lost.
"Lois? Did you come over for a reason? Not that you need one, because you're always welcome here."
She nodded. "Can we sit?"
"Sure, sure," Clark said. "Do you want some tea?"
She swallowed and shook her head, sitting stiffly on the couch.
Clark sat next to her.
"God, I have no idea how to start this," Lois muttered under her breath.
"Lois, just say it. Whatever it is. We are best friends, first and foremost. There isn't anything you can't tell me."
She sighed, shaking her head. "Right. Okay. Uhm, I know. About you and Superman."
Clark closed his eyes. "Mom was right," he muttered. "Okay, I know you've got to be angry, Lois—"
"Angry? Oh, God, Clark…well, a little bit, I mean I guess I feel a little used, but I don't exactly blame you. You've just been confused…"
She didn't hate him! "God, yes, Lois, I've been so confused," he said, beginning to babble. "First you're fawning all over Superman, and don't take a second look at me…then we started to become more than friends, but Superman's *still* there…"
"He'll always be there, Clark, and I think it's time that we both admit to that. You can't keep pretending to be someone you're not." Lois moved closer to him on the couch, touching his arm.
Clark laughed, he was so relieved. "Lois, I'm so glad that I don't have to pretend with you anymore! I've never liked lying to you. It's a necessity that I hide it from the world, but with you—" He broke off, shaking his head.
She was quiet for a moment, seeming to choose her next words carefully. "Why, Clark? Why is it a necessity? I mean, I guess I can understand that it might be a little uncomfortable to reveal Superman, but you can still be honest about who you are. Jimmy, Perry, your parents…the people who love you, and will continue to love you, just like I do."
Clark's heart nearly stopped when she said that. He floundered for a moment, then took refuge in talking about what he thought she was suggesting. "Well, my parents have known for…well, actually, they helped me with everything, Lois. I could never have been…I couldn't even have stayed in Metropolis very long if they hadn't thought of this. They've always known…what I am. Some of the things I did when I was little, even as young as ten, made it a little hard to deny."
Lois's eyes went wide, and she gulped. "Oh," she said softly.
Was it his imagination, or was she blushing a little? Oh, well. "And as far as Jimmy and Perry go, Lois, I care about them a lot, but this isn't something they need to know. It's a dangerous secret, and if I didn't want to be closer to you, I wouldn't want you to know, either. The people who know are targets, Lois. You must understand that."
She sighed. "Well, obviously you wouldn't tell anyone who you're dating…you wouldn't even have to mention that you're dating. Just…Clark, I care about you so much, and I would— and will—do anything to help you be happy, both of you, but … I don't want to be a front anymore. It was bad enough when I didn't realize the truth, but now…it will just hurt all the more. I was starting to have some really strong feelings for you, Clark…I think I was starting to fall in love with you, and this is going to be hard for me. Hard enough without pretending—"
Clark held up a hand, feeling as if his head was spinning. "Lois, slow down. I'm confused. What do you mean, a front? And what do you mean *was*?"
Lois blinked. "Clark, I realize now that you can't love me the way I thought you could—"
Something was wrong here. "Lois, I don't think we're on the same page." He thought back to her initial words. "You said you knew about me and Superman. What, exactly, do you know?"
She blushed. "Clark, it's okay. You don't have to backtrack now just because…I'm only trying to be honest. I'm not trying to guilt you, I promise. I just want to be clear. I think lack of honesty at this point isn't going to help the situation."
Clark closed his eyes in frustration. "Lois, humor me, okay? Just tell me, in plain English, what you think you know."
Lois frowned at him. She took a deep breath, considering his face. "Okay. I know that you and Superman are involved."
Whoa. "Involved?" Clark squeaked.
She rolled her eyes. "Fine. In love. Sleeping together, whatever you want to call it."
Clark put his head in his hands, groaning.
"Why? Why do you think this? I mean, you seem pretty sure…" His mom was going to absolutely love this story.
Lois hesitated. "Remember that note thing I mentioned at lunch?"
"You wrote yourself a note saying that Superman and I are…involved?"
She pulled the rumpled and stained envelope from her pocket. "See for yourself."
"Holy cow," Clark breathed, staring. It was her handwriting all right. And the heart… He lowered his glasses, staring intently at the paper. "I must have drawn this heart," he whispered to himself, seeing his own fingerprints, when he knew for a fact that he'd never touched this envelope—only the card that had been inside it.
"What?" Lois asked, leaning toward him, looking concerned.
"Clark, I want you to listen to me. I know this must be hard to admit—"
"Lois, I'm *not* gay—"
"Just listen! Then you can say whatever you want. I want you to think about what's been going on with us. How close we've been getting lately, how you run away every time we start to get serious, how you haven't had a real relationship in the entire time I've known you—"
"Lois, I haven't *wanted* any other relationship because you're the only one I ever think about in that way."
"Hush. Superman does the same thing. Hot and cold. Responding to me one minute, brushing me away the next…"
"You're both afraid of intimacy—at least with a woman."
"Are you done?"
She scowled at his tone. "Yes. For now."
"I am not gay. Superman is not gay."
"You said you were finished. My turn." He came to a decision. "That isn't what this note was trying to tell you."
"Then what? I'd really love to hear this, Clark."
"Clark Kent equals Superman? You wrote it, Lois. What do you think it means?"
"Well, the heart—"
"Forget the heart. You didn't write that part."
She scowled again. "Fine. *If* the heart wasn't there, I'd say that I was trying to say that you and Superman were…" she trailed off, staring at him.
Clark held his breath, watching the changes come across her face. Finally her eyes widened. "Oh, my God, that makes a lot more sense!"
He burst out laughing. "I'm so glad you think so, too."
The relief changed to fury in an instant. "You rat! I can't believe you've kept this from me all this time!"
Clark sighed, holding up a hand. "Lois, I know you have every right to be angry. But right now, we need to figure this out." He waved the envelope at her.
She took several deep breaths. "Alright. It goes on the back burner, for now. But I swear, Mr. Boy Scout Kent, you and I have some serious talking to do." Lois straightened her hair, calming herself down, and then turned to the business at hand. "Okay. So why do you think I didn't draw the heart?"
"Because I did."
She looked at him, at the heart, and back at him. "And you expect me to believe you're straight?" she deadpanned.
"My mom taught me how to draw hearts when I was kid, okay? I thought hers were pretty…and it's not like I've had a lot of practice to develop my own technique!"
Lois giggled a little, then sobered quickly. "Okay, so they look like your mother's hearts."
"And both our finger prints are on this envelope."
Clark pointed to his eyes. "A computer wouldn't be able to see them with the coffee stains, but I still can. And you bought this card on the way into the office this morning, right? I never touched this envelope before tonight."
"How can neither of us remember writing this note? And why the hell did you draw a heart?"
Clark had been thinking about it, mulling it over in the back of his mind as they had argued. "We both had deja vu this morning, Lois. What if…what if someone played with our memories?"
"Someone who knows that you're Superman and wanted me to write it down on Perry's birthday card? Do I look galactically stupid?"
"What if…what if we …oh, God, Lois, we went back in time!" He stared at her, as the memories came rushing back.
"What are you talking about?"
"H.G. Wells! Tempus! He called you galactically stupid! He went back in time to kill me as a baby…"
Lois gasped, her eyes widening. "Oh, God, Clark," she whispered, staring at him in shock.
"Lois," Clark breathed, and moved closer to her, kissing her tenderly.
She blissfully responded, wrapping her arms around his neck, stroking her fingers through his hair. They parted reluctantly, and Lois rested her forehead against his, panting slightly. Then she began to giggle.
"What's so funny?" Clark murmured, tilting his head to gently nibble at the column of her neck.
"I just can't wait to tell your parents this story. Your mom will get a real kick out of it."