By Catherine Bruce <email@example.com>
Submitted October 2007
Summary: TOGOM Fun. In Which Lois is Mad At Superman, and Clark is Dead.
So, I had a crappy day today. Unfortunately for Lois and Clark, they were there, they were convenient, and they didn't complain (too much) when I kicked them like puppies. So, while there's no blood or guts or any other of the sort, this isn't exactly sunshine and daisies.
Also, [URL=http://www.lcficmbs.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=000674]this story challenge[/URL] gave me the idea, but of course my brain shot off course and totally ignored the entire challenge.
Set about six weeks after a TOGOM gone wrong.
And as always, a bajillion thanks to Laramoon! This time she somehow managed to hack out ugly boils and scars and make it a lot betterer than it was.
Tumblers turned as locks were manipulated before Lois entered the cold, sterile room. She looked around as though the small apartment were unfamiliar to her, as though she had not lived here for the past several years.
With a sigh, she deposited the mail and keys on the end table before going through the motions of feeding her fish and changing into more comfortable clothes, careful not to let her mind wander too far from its task. However, she soon found herself standing motionlessly before her nightstand for a long moment before reaching for the framed photograph with trembling fingers.
Lois had been so proud of him the night of the Kerth awards, after letting go of the jealousy she had been harboring. She had done her best to be the perfect date; grumbling good naturedly about being nothing more than an arm decoration. Even though afterwards, she had threatened him with bodily harm if he ever made her go through anything like that again, she had actually enjoyed the evening. They had danced together for several songs, each looking reluctant when someone tried to cut in. She had appropriately fawned over him, needlessly adjusting his impeccable bowtie countless times throughout the evening, or brushing away lint that may or may not have been there.
"And most importantly, I'd like to thank my partner, Lois Lane," he had said during his acceptance speech, a broad smile lighting on her as he spoke. "Whose tenacious spirit and single minded determination not only kept me on my toes, but taught me — albeit with a little reluctance in the beginning — more in the past year than I could ever have hoped to have learned in the span of two lifetimes on my own." His smile had softened then, and for a moment it felt as though as though there was no one else in the room except her. "Hopefully I've grown on you, partner."
He *had* grown on her, much sooner than anyone else ever had. Clark had somehow managed to worm his way into her life, into her *heart*, so deeply that she couldn't imagine a time when he wasn't there. Even after all these weeks, she still expected him to stroll out of the elevator, to stop by with one of his lame excuses. "Lois, I realize I was gone for awhile, but I remembered I had left my stove on back in Kansas, so I hitch-hiked my way back home."
Lois had to laugh at that, a choked, strangled sound that sounded suspiciously like a sob. She could practically hear his voice, see the faintly guilty expression on his face as he tried to explain away his absence. But she knew it would never come. She had seen the way his body had been hammered with bullets, recalled with horrifying clarity the slow, inevitable descent of his body to the gaudy carpet as she had vainly tried to keep him standing. And she would never forget the haunted apologetic shine in his eyes before they closed.
Her fingers suddenly went numb as her breath hitched tightly in her constricted throat. The frame slipped from her grasp and she could only watch as it fell to the ground, knowing that the glass would shatter.
The shatter never came, nor did the dull thud of the frame against the floor. Lois turned to her picture's savior. "I didn't hear you come in." Her tone was almost accusatory as she wondered what gave him the right to be there anymore.
Superman's long red cape was still billowing from the quick impromptu rescue. For a moment, he seemed to be as enthralled by the photograph as she had been, long after his cape stopped brushing against her calf and settled against his body.
Suddenly feeling as though he were invading a private moment that he had no right intruding upon, Lois grabbed the picture and made a show of repositioning it just right on the table. "Why are you here?" She felt uncomfortable in the Man of Steel's presence, as she remembered the last time he had been here, shortly after the Al Capone story, after the night Clark had been killed. Considering the discussion they had had then, she was surprised he had come to see her at all.
"I came to say," he drifted off for a moment as though he were unsure how to finish his thought. Lois eyed him expectantly. "I came to say I'm sorry."
Tears stung her eyes and she walked past him, not wanting him to see her cry. "What's the use?" She tried to sound nonchalant, but her voice was hoarse and scratchy to her own ear as she headed for the kitchen. She needed something to do, to keep her mind off the spandex-clad superhero.
"Lois, please. I'm so sorry. About everything. I'm sorry about Clark, you know I am. I'm sorry for causing you so much pain."
Lois cringed as she started the hot water for the dishes. "You've already said you were sorry," she said curtly. "It doesn't change anything."
"If I could bring him back, if I could find some way to just make things *right* again, I would."
"And why can't you?" She demanded suddenly as she spun on him, soap suds flying from the bristles of her scrub brush. "With all your *strength*, all your *powers*, why can't you find some way to bring him back?" Lois was being unfair, she knew it, but she couldn't stop. "And why did he have to provoke Dillinger? Why did he have to be so stupid and—and—" she was crying now, in that annoying way that turned her face blotchy and stuffed up her nose to the point where she wouldn't be able to breathe properly for the next several hours. "Why did he have to die?"
And then Superman was hugging her, trying to comfort her in the only way he could. Lois tried to push him away, but then his hand cradled the back of her head and it was just too damn familiar. She clung to him tightly, wondering if she would ever stop seeing her partner where he was not. Even in the comforting arms of a man she desperately wanted to hate.
"I hate you," she mumbled against his shoulder, voice muffled by the slick spandex.
She was sure he didn't hear her until he sighed and held her even more firmly against him. "I know. I hate me, too."
Sometime later, he pulled gently away from her. At first she was sure he was going to leave, arms wrapping protectively around her midsection as she watched him head for the living room. He didn't leave, though. Instead, he looked around her living room as though he had never seen it before.
"I tried, Lois, I really tried." He sounded so lost as he kept his eyes trained on her lamp. He seemed to transform before her eyes then. Gone was the sure squaring of his shoulders, the definitive surety of his posture. Even his profile morphed into something entirely different, features melting to become heartbreakingly familiar. "I would have given anything to bring him back."
He suddenly spun to face her, desperation marring his features. "I would give anything to have Clark go to work again, to chase down stories with you, or give advice to Jimmy. I would love to have him pay his rent, or hail a taxi, and I would give anything to have you get angry at him again."
Lois found that her mouth couldn't move as his hand raked subconsciously through his slicked back hair, causing it to loosen from its style. Slowly, the Man of Steel seemed morph before her very eyes.
"But you have to know something. If I had to do it all over again, if it meant saving your life, I would do it again in a heartbeat." His last words echoed through her mind as the final shift landed in place.
"*Stop it!*" She was as surprised as he was at the shrill tone in her voice. "How am I supposed to let you go — let *him* go — when you keep doing that?" She found herself drifting closer to him, stopping with less than a foot of space between them. Her fingers lifted of their own accord to sift through his hair, breaking apart the thick gel that usually held it in place until bit by bit her partner was revealed to her. "I've been trying, so hard, to let you go. I've been trying to let go of Clark, when you're still alive, but it's just so *hard*." Her palm settled against the side of his face. When he pressed his cheek against her hand her breath hitched in her throat. "You *said* you would give me time. When you told me, you promised me space."
"I know, I'm sorry." He leaned his forehead against hers, his thumbs coming up to frame her face as he bushed away the moistness on her cheeks. "I'm just… so *tired*. I just want to come *home*."
She wasn't sure who started it, but soon Lois found herself tangling her hands in his hair as she pulled him closer, each one trying almost desperately to devour the other with kisses. He felt so real, so there, that it was easy for a moment to imagine that her partner hadn't been dead for the past several weeks, that she hadn't been trying to separate the man that she loved with the god in the cape. It would have been far too easy to surrender to the feel of his hands running strongly up her spine, or to the way he gently nibbled her lower lip between his teeth. She could all too easily lose herself in the taste of him, his scent, or the feel of his body beneath her hands, alive and whole and utterly with her. But she couldn't, because no matter how much she wished that it was real, it would still be a fantasy. She had to let him go, for her sanity, for her heart.
Determined, she placed both hands on his shoulders before pushing him away, taking a step back to regain what little self restraint she had.
She held up a hand to stop him. "I can't do this, I'm sorry." She took another step back, gathering her composure as she stiffened her spine. "I don't want you to come back."
His eyes, which had been lingering some distance off to the left, snapped back to hers with heartbreaking desperation. "Lois, please—"
"No, I can't keep doing this. Every time I see you, my heart *breaks*. I *loved* you, Clark!" She had to look away at his stricken expression as she used the past tense. After a long, heavy moment, she carefully eased over to where he had slid to the floor on his knees. Bending carefully so that she was level with his eyes, she swallowed thickly. "If you really want to come home, find some way to bring *him* back to me."
The hopelessness in his eyes threatened to overwhelm her, to make her resolve crumble, but she couldn't allow that to happen. Finally, he stood and turned from her, this time making it all the way to the window before he poised, ready to take off. He turned and looked back at her, giving her a small smile that didn't even come close to reaching his eyes. "I loved you too, you know. I still do." Then he was gone, a sonic cracking of sound and air, and Lois closed her eyes in the breeze he left in his wake.
Slowly drifting towards the window, she gazed out towards the night sky with a heavy heart. "I know," she whispered softly as she firmly slid the window shut, latching the lock before allowing the drapes to drift close.