By C_A (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Submitted January 2007
Summary: "He wished she had chosen him." A follow-up to the author's "Until the Wind Changes," set in the universe of "Tempus, Anyone?"
Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me, and I'm not making any money off of this. The title is a line from Damien Rice's song, The Blower's Daughter: "And so it is/Just like you said it would be/Life goes easy on me/Most of the time/And so it is/The shorter story/No love, no glory/No hero in her sky" Author's Notes: This story kind of goes along with Until the Wind Changes, but can easily be read as a stand-alone.
There were few perfect moments in life.
The one when he stepped out onto his balcony wearing the suit for the first time and saw Lois Lane turn and look at him in wonder had to be counted as one of them. It was the moment when he felt he could be what she claimed she saw in him: a guiding light, a hero, a savior to a world that needed one so desperately.
She spent almost the whole night making the suit for him as thunder cracked outside and rain pounded against the windows, and in the end the only reason he could bring himself to wear it was because she asked him to. For a man who could do virtually anything, being himself was the most difficult task he had ever faced. In the end, it was the look in her eyes that convinced him. Nothing compared to those eyes, to that smile, to that voice.
Lana asked him to pretend to be something he wasn't. And she asked him to pretend to love her like he had before, when really, he never had at all. In the end, both are things he could not pretend, not even for his own sake, because loving someone was one of the few things that couldn't be faked, not even by a Superman.
He'd waited a lifetime for someone like Lois. It was cruelly ironic that only a day upon stepping into his life, she had left it behind in shambles. Finding himself in a state of desperation, he had pleaded with her to love him and she had turned him down. She was the stronger one, and whatever attraction she felt toward him then, or now, did not translate into the kind of love she felt for her husband. He respected that love, as he respected their marriage, and yet he wished she had chosen him.
Now he stood atop the Planet building, a place closer to home than any other, listening to the people of Metropolis settle down for the night. Watching over them, like she had asked him to, as the stars sparkled silently in the sky above, watching over him in turn.
He was being selfish, loving her, when she could so clearly not respond in kind. For him, she was the beginning and the end and the reason he kept getting up in the morning, even if those mornings and the following afternoons and nights passed without her. She was the reason he went to help when H.G. Wells asked him to. She was the reason he vowed to do everything in his power to stop Tempus and to bring back her husband, to return him to her side, when the only thing he wanted was to take his place.
After an almost-kiss in her living room when, for a moment, she'd let herself forget and he'd let himself remember, he had tried to rationalize that the feelings he had for her were meant for someone else, for his own world's Lois, but he was just kidding himself: how could he love someone he'd never met? And he knew now that even if he found her, any feelings he might have for her would just be echoes of his feelings for the woman he could never have. Even if he found her, he would have to resign himself to the fact that he could not love her the way she deserved to be loved: for herself, not for her resemblance to a woman whose presence in his soul still lingered after all this time and would never quite die away.
Once, he'd believed that love changed everything, but it didn't. It just made the pain that much more intense. And now he realized he could never allow himself to see her again, because, for once, he wanted—*needed*—to be the stronger one. He needed to be the one to walk away.
And still, nothing compared to her eyes.
Strength, even the strength of a superhero, ran out. Someday he might find himself in her doorway again, because he might realize that he could not stay away when she called for him. That being with her, even if only for a little while, hurt less than being without her for the rest of his life.
He looked up, noticing sirens in the distance. He heard voices calling for him and knew they depended on him, if only to offer them the kind of comfort he could not find himself.
He launched himself into the air, up, up, ever higher, gathering in his heart the compassion and kindness and courage he needed to fulfill his promise to her, to be the man she'd asked him to be. To find in himself the strength to get through the night. Because that was something you couldn't pretend, either.
In the distance, thunder rumbled.
There was going to be rain tonight.