By Mary Potts aka Queen of the Capes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: February 2005
Summary: When a man has truly lost everything, what's left for him to keep?
By now you've probably heard about what happened-maybe you've seen it on the news, or, given your position as Mayor of Metropolis, you might have found out about it more quickly. Even as I write this, I imagine Alice has already made you promise to check up on me later today to see if I'm all right. I appreciate your and her concern; I also appreciate all that the two of you have done for me since I was exposed as Superman. You are my dearest, if not my only, friends, and I regret the shock and pain that this will undoubtedly cause you.
I know that what I'm doing could be considered impulsive, and maybe it is, but right now I just don't have time for reason. Kryptonite exposure only robs me of my powers temporarily, and I believe that today's encounter would leave me powerless for two days, maybe less. That gives me a window of less than 48 hrs to do this.
You're probably wondering why. Why would a young, *super* able-bodied man with so much to live for do something like this? Your answer is at the end of that sentence, Perry. I have nothing.
You already know that I have no family; my parents died when I was ten, and my fiancee—well, let's not discuss Lana.
I also no longer have my job at the Planet. I told you the day you hired me that reporting for the Planet was my dream; what I didn't tell you was that it was often the one thing that kept me going as I grew up. The dream of being a reporter pushed me through school and distracted me those times when I couldn't stop thinking about my parents. It broke my heart when my new responsibilities as Superman forced me to give that dream up.
Another thing I lost since putting on the tights was my privacy. Also my identity. People no longer think of me as Clark anymore; they all think of me as Superman. Even the friends I had at the Planet started treating me different once they learned I could lift a bus over my head. Taking that into consideration, I guess you could say that Clark Kent died a long time ago.
To tell you the truth, Perry, I could probably live without all those things. I could live without a family, without a social life, without secrecy. The one thing I can't bear living without…is Lois. I know this probably confuses you, and if I tried to explain it, it would be even more confusing. Suffice to say, I have lived long enough to get a taste of something I can never have. I'm a puzzle that can never be completed, because one of the pieces was destroyed before I even realized it was missing.
Again, I apologize for the grief this will cause you and Alice, Perry. All I ask is that you tell no one of what I've done. Tell them the Kryptonite had a delayed effect; tell them it was a horrible accident; tell them it was a rare, Kryptonian illness. I don't care. But let the secret of my suicide be the one thing in my life that I have kept. Please, Perry. I have lost everything else.
Clark Joseph Kent
Clark folded the note and was in the process of scribbling Perry White's name on it when he heard a knock on the door. Tucking the paper into his shirt pocket, he went and answered it.
A familiar figure in vintage clothing and a bowler stood on his doorstep. "Good evening, Mr. Kent. Am I interrupting something? Are you quite well?"
"Hi, Mr. Wells. I'm fine, just—putting some things in order."
Wells gave a slight twitch at this response. "Ah. Then it seems I am just in the nick of time, so to speak."
Clark sighed. "Mr. Wells, if you're here to try to talk me out of—"
Wells put his hand up. "I'm not here to 'talk' you out of anything, my boy; but I do have someone here with me who would like to have a word with you." He gestured to someone around the corner of the building—
—And *she* walked up. "Clark?"
Why her? Why did Wells have to bring her? Here he was, at the brink of the abyss, because of the soulmate he was forced to live without, and now Wells dared to bring that woman back here? To rub in his face all the things he could never have? Well whatever help they wanted from him this time, they could just forget it!
"What do you want?" Even though his powers were gone, his words seemed to freeze the air around them.
Lois took a breath and straightened. "Clark—I mean, Mr. Kent—My name is Lois Lane. I used to live here in Metropolis, maybe you've heard of me? I wrote for the Daily Planet. Anyway, a few years ago I took a trip to the Congo and was kidnapped by some strange guy named Tempus. I realize this is going to sound crazy, and you'll probably think I'm nuts, but he stranded me in some kind of bizarre parallel universe! Mick Jagger was the president and Elvis was dead and…Well, anyway, I met this guy who looked a lot like you—actually, he *was* you, but not *really* you, he was sort of your double, if you can understand that. I'm still having a hard time following it myself. We started to date, but then just when it looked like things were going to get serious, he met me. Not me, but the other me. Look, it's a long story. Fortunately I bumped into H.G. Wells, and he brought me back here."
Clark's eyes had grown wide as she spoke, and now he simply stared at her.
Lois squirmed self-consciously. "I know I probably sound like a complete and total lunatic—"
"Is it really you?"
He reached a hand out to touch her, to make sure she was real and not just a dream or some sick hallucination. Her skin was soft and cool, her lips moist. She placed a hand over his.
He was aware of something sliding down his cheek, but he didn't care. "Lois." He repeated her name softly. "Lois, I have been waiting for you for so long…"
Her own eyes were flooding as well. "Clark…"
Mr. Wells cleared his throat, reminding them of his presence.
"Oh, Mr. Wells! We're sorry…"
Wells smiled. "Quite all right, quite all right. I must be off, now. Would you—er, like me to dispose of that letter for you?"
It took Clark a moment to realize what he was talking about, then he reached in his pocket, pulled out the note and handed it to Mr. Wells.
Wells smiled and tipped his hat. "Thank you. Farewell, and do take care."
"Goodbye, Mr. Wells."
Their eyes had turned back again to each other, so they didn't see him leave.
"What was the letter?" Lois asked.
"Nothing," Clark answered. "Nothing at all."
Almost of their own volition, their lips met, and somewhere, the Grim Reaper was heard to say: "Drat!"