Echo

By IAmNotAWriter (aka David) <ckdavid85@gmail.com>

Rated: PG

Submitted: June 2005

Summary: What does an unemployed, grounded superhero do to fill his time while the Planet is being rebuilt?

The title is entirely my fault this time, on the plus side it's got more Lois and Clark this time

I'm experimenting a little with writing styles, so feel free to let me know if anything doesn't work.

The story can also be found here http://www.lcficmbs.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=003 892 complete with italics for anybody interested in the original effect.

The story is set towards the end of HoL between the wedding and the announcement of The Planet re-opening, which I've decided had to last more than a few days.

It's just a glimpse of what I think an unemployed, grounded superhero might do to fill his time and why he might choose to say the things he might choose to say.

Thanks to everyone who read over this for me, Rach, Jenni, the Saras and to everyone who read and commented on the story (or just read) at the boards. :)

Disclaimer: I don't even own the shirt on my back.

***

The sound of her heels on the sidewalk startled me and I fumbled, dropping the ball.

<Damn.>

<Forty-two.>

She was early.

I sighed and focused on the once familiar rhythm.

~Clack. Clack. Clack.~

Quick, clipped steps.

She was pacing.

I'd bet she was wearing those black boots.

I shifted on the couch, rolling to my side and focused on the door. It shimmered for a second before remaining stubbornly solid. Mockingly solid.

Not yet.

They were coming back, they were getting stronger. Slowly.

I focused on the sounds outside my apartment. They were a little muffled, but they were there. All I needed was a little more patience. A little more time.

~Clack. Clack. Clack.~

She started muttering and the sound of her heels stopped. She was leaving then. Again.

I picked up the baseball and flopped onto my back, tossing it in the air.

<One.>

~thnk~

<Two.>

~thnk~

<Three.>

The knocking startled me and I dropped the ball again.

I stared at the door.

It was a trick.

She'd come over every other day in the weeks since *that day*, and she'd never knocked before.

Not once.

Paced? Yes.

Muttered? Yes.

Knocked? No.

The first time I'd caught a glimpse of her through the window. I'd waited, holding my breath, hoping she'd knock.

She hadn't.

Not the first. Or the second. Or the third. Or the god-only-knows how many times she'd come before I could hear her.

And not since then either.

After the first week I'd stopped waiting by the door.

After the second I'd stopped holding my breath.

It had to be a trick.

I was losing it.

I snatched the ball up off the floor.

<One.>

~thnk~

Another quick rap startled me, but I caught the ball.

I was going crazy.

But if I wasn'tů

If I wasn't and she was actually here. If she'd actually knockedů

I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the couch quickly.

~thwak~

Too quickly.

I rubbed my knee where it had contacted the coffee table. That hadn't hurt too badly. Surely that was a good sign.

~Clack. Clack. Clack.~

The sound of her heels snapped me out of my inaction and I hobbled towards the door. <She'd knocked!>

She was at the top of the stairs by the time I'd thrown the door open. Almost gone.

My heart was in my throat. God, she'd really knocked. She'd finally knocked.

"Lois, wait!"

She paused for the briefest of seconds.

"Clark! Hi!"

Her voice was a note too high, her smile too bright. <Too forced.>

She was nervous.

I tuned my hearing, hoping to catch the steady thrum of her heart beating, hoping I was wrong.

~thmp.thmp.thmpthmpthmp.~

Oh God.

She was nervous.

She shifted on her feet and slung her bag over her shoulder. The rasping of material echoed in my ears around the silence that suddenly surrounded us.

~thmpthmpthmpthmpthmp~

I was staring. I knew I was, but I couldn't stop.

She'd never been nervous around me. Not before.

She shifted again. I knew what was coming. I could hear the words before she said them.

Her face held an apology. 'Sorry' it said.

'Sorry. This isn't working.'

I wanted to say something, I really did. But I couldn't. I tried to smile instead.

'Please.' I smiled. 'Please don't leave.'

'Please talk to me.'

'Please trust me.'

~thmpthmpthmpth-thmp~

Her heart was racing.

'Please.'

She opened her mouth.

<No.>

"Would you like to come inside?" I cut in, gesturing lamely to the door behind me.

"I can't." I dropped my gaze. She wasn't wearing the black boots.

"I-I just remembered," she stammered. "I have to go," and then she was. Gone.

I watched her storm down the street until her figure blurred.

Until she wasn't there. Until she faded into nothing.

Nothing more than an echo in my life.

I was an idiot. She was here. She'd come, she'd offered the branch.

All I had to do was take it.

I'd practiced.

'Hi Lois, how have you been?'

I'd rehearsed.

'Have you seen Perry lately?'

I'd stood in front of the mirror.

'Nice weather, isn't it?'

I thought I knew exactly what I'd say to her the next time I saw her. I'd made a plan. I knew what I could say. I knew what I couldn't say. Safe topics. Safe. Not Lex. Not wedding. Not love. Not you. Not me.

Instead I'd stood there and stared.

I knew exactly what I could say, but I couldn't.

How could I?

To the woman who was my best friend.

To the woman who was everything.

To the woman who didn't love me.

I'd blown it. I'd really, truly blown it.

She was here, and I'd blown it.

I shook my head, my eyes stinging.

She'd never been nervous around me before.

I'd have given anything to take it back. To go back. To be comfortable.

I walked back inside slowly.

I'd give anything. To take it back.

-fin-