By Sara Kraft <email@example.com>
Submitted: August 2005
Summary: A rewrite of the last five minutes of the episode "Contact." Will Lois be able to talk some sense into Clark when he tries to break up with her for her own good?
This story was written for my very *special* friend, Rachel, in honor of her birthday. She's pestered me almost relentlessly for a different ending for the episode "Contact." Well, Rachie, I hope this meets your expectations. ;) Happy birthday!!!!
Before we begin, I'd like to thank my beta readers Julie Stars and Sorcha. Thank you comma and "New para" Nazis!! I'll learn one of these days. :D Julie, thanks for the title!! And I can't forget to thank Wendy Richards for the bit of inspiration she gave me to finish. (I'm blaming my lack of ability to finish a *vignette* on the fact that my muse is in the alt world at the moment. So thanks for getting me unstuck, Wendy. :))
Oh… and of course, most of the first half is dialogue lifted straight from the episode. I only claim right to the introspective interpretation of it. ;)
And thanks to Larissa for a quick GEing job! :)
Perry, Jimmy, and Star had all left moments ago. Now it was just her and Clark. She in bed, still a bit weak after the explosion earlier, and he standing awkwardly in his Suit.
Maybe it was the heightened emotions after the whole ordeal with Bob Fences, but she'd finally come to a decision. Well, a decision she'd made earlier, before the story had broken. She felt light-hearted and happy — she finally knew in her heart that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Clark. She wanted to answer his proposal.
Lois eyed Clark carefully. He seemed upset — most likely blaming himself for her being injured. Like he usually did.
"Lois… I feel horrible about this."
Yep. But that was part of who Clark was, and it was her job to let him know whatever he *could* do would always be enough. That he wasn't to blame for everything. "Clark, it wasn't your fault. You saved my life."
She watched him take a deep breath in frustration, knowing he was torturing himself with guilt.
"I got… careless. Maybe overconfident. No matter how bad the situation is, I always think I'm strong enough, or fast enough to fix it."
Lois brushed her hair behind her ear and smiled at him, trying to instill confidence in him. "And you *are*." She pushed herself up a little straighter in bed. "You saved a whole city full of people from being microwaved like popcorn!"
"But *you* still got hurt. I'm used to saving people, not getting them injured."
It hurt her to see him so tortured, and she hated that he blamed himself.
"You can't protect everybody all the time. That's impossible."
He smiled ruefully. "I know. That's what my dad said."
She reached out her hand and he moved towards her, taking her hands in his as he sat down on the bed next to her. Maybe he just needed a little extra reassurance that he wasn't alone in all this, that she believed what he'd told her last week. Together, they were stronger than alone. Just one more reason she was sure she wanted to marry him.
Lois stroked his hand with her thumb and looked into his eyes, willing him to hear her. "And we can handle this. I realize now that you and I together can handle this."
He still didn't look too convinced, so she rushed on before she lost her nerve. "I want to tell you something-"
A pained look came over his face again. He wasn't listening. "Lois… I need to tell you something, too."
She was going first this time. No interruptions. This was important.
She brushed the hair out of her eyes, a bit giddy to finally be saying what she was about to say. "I know this isn't the best time, or the most romantic, but -"
"Lois…" He ducked his head. "I love you." His voice was thick with emotion.
She smiled at him, her heart warming at his declaration.
"I love you way too much to ever let something like this happen to you again…"
What? He… no.
She searched his eyes frantically, praying she was reading them wrong. Hearing him wrong.
"I know I can't control everything, but I can control people not using you to get to me."
She couldn't breathe so well. He couldn't be… He wasn't.
He released her hands and stood. "And so that's why I came…"
The pain in his voice was so thick. She couldn't speak.
"To tell you…"
Finding her voice, she asked warily, "To tell me what?"
"To tell you… t-to say…" He sighed and started shaking his head. "We-we just can't be together anymore, Lois."
He was. He was breaking up with her. Her breath hitched in her throat, and hot tears stung at her eyes.
She steeled her jaw and tried to calm herself. It didn't work. "You're sorry?" she asked indignantly. "You break my heart and you're sorry?"
He stood there looking at her helplessly, no doubt praying he'd hear a cry for help so he could escape. He fidgeted awkwardly and looked away.
"Why, Clark?" She sniffled, letting the tears run unbidden down her face. Let him see how much he was hurting her. "It doesn't make any sense. I'm not with Superman, I'm with *you*."
Clark glanced feebly down at the red and blue he was wearing, and opened his mouth to speak.
"You know damn well what I mean. The public believes I'm nothing more than friends with Superman."
"But Lois, don't you see? That's the problem. They know they can get to me just because we're friends." He gestured weakly somewhere to his left. "I can't let you be the victim of any more evil plots to control me."
"Okay, fine." She swiped angrily at her tears. "Then I won't be friends with Superman anymore, but don't shut me out of your life! I love you. We can handle this. *Together*."
"That won't work, Lois. I…"
"You what, Clark?" she snapped.
"I can't pretend that I don't care for you, and it'll only get worse if we continue to stay together. Maybe… maybe if we're not… a c-couple anymore, I can learn to hide it better. I wouldn't be able to bear it if anything happened to you, knowing it was my fault."
"So were you going to leave the Planet? Leave Metropolis altogether?"
"What?" He looked taken aback. "No, of course not. I wouldn't want to be too far away from you in case…"
"Just how were you going to manage that? Did you even think this through, Clark?"
"Yes, I did."
By the look on his face, he clearly hadn't. At least not all the angles. She was reeling with anger born of hurt. How could he do this to her? She had to make him see reason. There was no way she was letting him walk out on her for such a lunkheaded reason.
"So you think that if I'm not dating Clark, people won't associate me with Superman?" She challenged him with a cock of her eyebrow.
"Uh…" He stammered a bit before he said indignantly, "That's not what I meant."
"Oh? Then you'd agree that me dating someone else would be sure to squash any doubt in people's minds that I'm with Superman?"
He was starting to fidget now and pace in short strides in her bedroom. "Well… yeah, I guess so…"
She just smiled at him.
"But, Lois, don't you see? I have to distance myself from you as *both* Clark and Superman. It's just… safer that way."
"Then maybe I should give Dan a call?"
He stopped short. "W… what?!"
"Clark, you just agreed that it would be safer if I was dating someone, someone who you obviously don't want to be you."
"Lois." Her name was more of a mix between a whine and an exasperated sigh. "You're twisting my words!"
"No, Clark, I'm not," she stated calmly. "C'mere." Lois held her arm out once more, hoping he'd at least sit down and listen to reason now that she had his attention.
He came reluctantly and sat down on the side of her bed again, much more stiffly than he had last time. She could tell he was trying to keep his guard up.
"Clark, listen to me. I've been getting into trouble since the day I started at the Planet, long before Superman showed up. And I'm-"
"But, Loi -"
"Shh. You're listening right now. I'm still alive. Yes, there have been times when I might not have made it unless you'd been there to save me, but that's just how my life is."
He looked ready to interrupt again, but had apparently thought better of it.
"Have you ever stopped to think that maybe I feel *safer* dating you? It's comforting to know that you're right there by my side even though I can take care of myself."
"But that just means you take more ris -"
"Clark," she said, cutting him off. "Can you honestly say you'll care about what happens to me any less if we break up?"
"No," he said quietly.
"And are you going to love me any less?"
He shook his head.
"Then why torture yourself and leave me vulnerable?"
She cupped his cheek and made him look at her. "Don't you remember what you said to me just last week? That being together was stronger than being alone?"
He lowered his eyelids slowly, and then looked back up at her. "Yeah."
"Why would you put that strength at risk by keeping us apart?"
Clark sat silent for a moment, and Lois watched his eyes and the internal battle going on inside.
"I'm in love with you, Clark. Don't break my heart."
"Oh, Lois. I'm so sorry. I… I don't know what I was thinking." He raised his hand to cover her own and brought it to his lips.
"Yeah, just don't let it happen again."
He grinned and leaned towards her, the intent to kiss her written clearly on his face. But she couldn't. She couldn't give in.
She backed away, just enough to show him she wasn't entirely ready to forgive him, and brought their joined hands to her lap. "I mean it, Clark. I love you, you can't do that. You can't give me you heart only to take it back when it gets too dangerous."
"I know." He ducked his head. "I'm sorry. I won't…"
"But you just did." She paused a moment to let her words sink in. "I know you had good intentions, but it might take a little while for my heart to trust you again."
She watched him bite at his lower lip, and he only nodded in response.
Lois gave his hand a gentle squeeze. "Goodnight, Clark. I'll see you tomorrow?"
She resented the uncertainty in her voice, but considering…
The look he gave her melted her heart all over again. "Always, Lois. Always."
She heard the promise, the strong determination in his voice, and she knew everything would be okay soon enough.
He rose from the bed and turned towards the window to leave, his cape still flowing behind him.
He turned around to face her once again, a look of curiosity on his face.
On impulse, she scrambled out of bed and went to him. She cupped his cheek in her hand and rose up to meet his lips. Just a short, soft kiss on the lips. As she drew her mouth away from his, she let her hand fall along his skin to his collarbone and then his "S".
He smiled broadly at her and touched her cheek with a feather- light caress. "Goodnight, Lois."
And a moment later he was gone, the curtains fluttering in his wake.