By Pam Jernigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted November 2007
Summary: Remember how Clark talked to a picture to practice telling Lois about Superman at the beginning of the episode And the Answer Is? In the episode, she's too far away to overhear him. What if she wasn't? A DVD Fundraiser story.
Author's note: The dialog and staging in the first half of this is not mine; it's taken straight from the episode "And the Answer Is," which was written by Tony Blake and Paul Jackson. I just put my own spin on it :) Thanks much to Erin Klingler for beta-reading, and Yvonne Connell for editing.
Lois carefully secured the fourth big roller in her hair. The rollers took a little longer, but today, she definitely wanted to look her best. She hummed along with the radio, feeling happy. Clark would be there soon to take her out to breakfast.
It had been a week since their last crisis. She shivered slightly at the reminder of how close she'd come to losing him. He'd been convinced she'd wanted Dan, when she'd been realizing she wanted Clark. Despite his occasional odd behavior. She would have to get him to explain that when she felt a little more secure in this relationship.
She should probably also tell him — before their next crisis — that she loved him. The thought of making herself that vulnerable did weird things to her stomach.
As she was stepping into her dress, there was a knock at the door, followed closely by Clark's voice calling her name. She tugged at the zipper and caught sight of her hair up in rollers. She did not want him to see her like this. He'd seen her in worse, of course, but that was before. Well, if she couldn't trust Clark, she couldn't trust anyone.
"Hang on, Clark!" Moving quickly and silently, she snuck to her door, and after a cautionary peek out the spyhole, undid her locks. Scurrying back around the fish tank towards her bedroom, she called out, "It's open!"
She caught a glimpse of the door opening as she retreated. Okay, so the dress was zipped. Now she just had to put the finishing touches on her hair.
"I'll be out in a minute. You're a little bit early."
As she pulled out the first roller, she heard Clark's voice from the other room, but the words were muffled. "I can't hear you! Hang on just a minute, I'll be right out." She considered dashing across the room to turn off the radio, but decided it would be more trouble than it was worth. "Where are we going for breakfast?"
She heard his voice, but again, the radio muffled the words. She glared at the offending appliance, but it failed to die in a shower of sparks. "What? I didn't hear you."
The last roller came out, and she went for her brush. There was silence from the front room and she grinned; it seemed that Clark knew when to quit. After a few last brush strokes, she moved on to a light application of hair spray. Okay, that would have to do. She headed for the living room, then had to turn around to get her suit jacket. Finally, she thought caustically, she was ready.
As she entered the kitchen again, she heard Clark's voice, softer than before. She could barely hear it over the muted gurgle of her fish tank. He sounded serious, though, and she instinctively slowed down. A careful peek around the corner showed that he was standing near her front window, and it looked like he was talking to a picture — a picture of both of them, together. The mere fact that she'd had that framed should have told her something about her feelings, she thought wryly.
Straining her ears and trying to block out the fish tank noise, she caught part of what he was saying. "..want to tell you. I'm…" His voice dropped, and all she could hear of the end of the sentence sounded like "super." What was he doing?
She really ought to walk out there. Instead, she held her breath and crouched behind her fish tank, moving closer to the corner.
On a note of nervous cheer, Clark began again. "Hey, did you ever notice that Superman and I look kind of alike?"
No, they didn't. Well, maybe. Actually, now that she thought about it…
"Well, it's funny that you should say that," he continued with a nervous laugh. "Because…"
She frowned. That wasn't just his voice dropping; that was a dramatic pause if ever she'd heard one. She snuck another peek.
He was still facing partly away from her — and he was putting his glasses on. Why had he taken them off? She tried to picture his face without them — had she ever seen him without glasses?
"Hey, guess what?" he began again, sounding almost goofy. "I'm… Superman."
With great difficulty, Lois restrained a gasp. He simply could not have said what she'd just heard. It was preposterous. He must be joking, she decided firmly. That was the only explanation.
And yet, in a strange way, it made sense. All his weird looks, his running off… his behavior last week when she'd said goodbye to Superman. No wonder he'd looked so serious and had even started to plead his case before cutting himself off.
Across the room, Clark sighed. "Lois, there's something I've wanted to tell you for a long time," he told the picture. His voice was quiet, sincere and very serious.
He wasn't joking. Okay, enough practicing, Clark. You need to say it to my face. She stood and took a step out into the open.
"And before our relationship goes any further, I think it's important that you know—"
"What are you doing?"
He spun around, looking vaguely guilty. "Oh, uh, I was…" He put the picture back onto the table, then moved towards her.
She shrugged into her jacket, freeing her hands for… whatever.
"Lois, I've got something I wanna tell you."
He looked scared. Scared of her? Buying time, she asked, "It's not good news, is it?"
He shrugged and squinted. "Well, I dunno. Maybe."
Oh, yeah, that was positive. *Should* he be scared of her? He had been lying to her for the entire time she'd known him, after all.
"Nope, it's not," she informed him. "I can tell by your face." She walked past him, still trying to decide how she felt. Angry? Hurt? Mortified? She'd done so many stupid things… but then, she assured herself, so had he. And it looked like he was about to confess; that would start to make up for some of his more boneheaded moments. She seated herself on the couch.
Clark pivoted to follow her. "Lois, maybe you'd better, ah… sit down."
"Oh, yeah," she commented sardonically. How cliche can you get, Clark? "This is good news."
He sat down next to her, and she watched his face. "You know how you're always complaining… that I seem to run off every time we start talking about something important?"
She lifted an eyebrow. "I recall mentioning it once or twice."
He smiled briefly. "Well, there is a reason for that. It has nothing to do with my having a fear of intimacy, or being afraid of falling in love, or anything like that."
Which meant… he didn't have those fears, or they just didn't relate to his disappearing act?
"I think I should just tell you this as simply and as honestly as I can."
She smiled encouragingly. Honesty would be a refreshing change.
"Lois, I'm Super—"
The shrill ring of the phone interrupted him.
Did that count as a confession, or not? No, not really. The phone rang again.
Clark looked resigned. "Maybe you should just… answer that."
"Well…" she looked at him, far more interested in him than in whoever was calling, silently inviting him to keep going. Another ring.
"Just…" He motioned her towards the phone.
With one last look, she picked up the receiver. "Hello?"
**Is Mr. Kent there, please?** asked a stranger's voice.
"Yeah," she replied, confused. She looked at Clark and held out the phone. "It's for you."
He got up from the sofa, frowning. "Who knows I'm here?"
Lois retreated to the sofa as Clark took the phone. He said "Hello," but nothing more after that. His body seemed to tense, and he turned further away from her as he listened to the caller. After a moment more, he was lowering the phone, staring at it as if it had suddenly turned into a snake.
"Who was it?"
He turned around with that distracted look she'd come to know and loathe. "Uh, that was my barber, Waldo."
She stared at him as he headed towards her door. Surely he could do better than that. "Your barber?"
"Yeah. I, I'm late for an appointment. I have to go, I'm sorry."
"Clark!" This was ridiculous. "You were in the middle of telling me something."
He faked a puzzled look. "Was I?"
"Yes!" One last chance, Clark. "You said, Lois, I'm Super…" She paused expectantly. Just finish the word, Clark. It was only one little word — three letters. It would take less than a second to say.
"Lois… I'm super late for my appointment. I'm sorry, and I can't have breakfast with you this morning, but I'll be in the office later," he spoke in a rush, opening her door and angling his body outside. "And maybe we can have lunch, okay?"
"Clark." He might know when to quit, but he sure didn't know when *not* to.
"I gotta go, Lois." He was mostly out the door now, with only his head sticking back in. "I'm sorry."
"I heard you talking to the picture."
That stopped him. His eyes, behind the glasses, went wide.
"Go deal with the emergency," she said, irritated but unwilling to be responsible for Superman missing a rescue. "Whatever it is. I just thought you should know."
He hesitated. "Actually… I guess I have a moment." He came back inside and closed the door behind him.
Sure, *now* he had time to talk. "Who was on the phone, Clark?"
"I don't know," he said. His previous false cheer had vanished, and he was slumping a little against the door. Looking defeated. "But I think he's blackmailing me. If I don't want the world to know that I'm…" he hesitated, then continued, looking straight into her eyes, "that I'm Superman, I need to go get an envelope. Right now."
Blackmail? She frowned.
"I'll talk to you as soon as I can, and I'll tell you everything, I promise, but right now I really have to go." He re-opened the door and was sliding back out, moving slower than before.
Lois nodded. "Okay. Keep an eye out for clues; we need to get this guy before he can do any damage."
He paused, looking a little puzzled, and she guessed at why.
Taking a step closer to him, she said, "I'm not mad at you, Clark. Or not much. But we have to deal with the crisis first. Then we'll talk." She went up on her toes to give him a soft kiss.
She pulled back almost immediately. His expression had gone from puzzled to astonished, then he straightened up and smiled. "I love you."
She smiled back, but before she could reply, he'd pulled the door shut. Seconds later, she heard a sonic boom.
Clark adjusted his tie and took a deep breath before knocking on Lois's apartment door. He'd thought she might have gone to work in the past half hour, but he could hear movement inside. He had no idea what mood she was in, but he couldn't avoid her, and besides, he needed to talk out his shock. That conversation had stirred hidden memories.
The door opened. Lois waved him inside, whispering, "I'm on the phone; be done in a second." Recrossing the room, she picked up the receiver and tucked it between her ear and shoulder. "Hey, I'm back. Can you do anything for me?"
He stepped into the apartment and closed the door, then set his white paper sack of pastries on the kitchen island and checked on the coffee machine. Lois must have started a pot after he'd left; it was almost ready.
"No, of course it's not," Lois said impatiently. "But it would be a huge hassle, and the last time I looked, it was a crime, whether the facts were right or not."
He stood by the fish tank for a moment, not quite sure where to be. Well, it couldn't hurt to get the pastries out on a plate. He opened a cupboard door, searching for a serving platter, then shut it again. He didn't have to pretend anymore. Not with Lois. He lowered his glasses.
"Thank you! You'll need to check my phone records; you can do that while we're on our way over."
Clark pulled out the platter he'd located, and looked over at Lois, curious. She noticed his glance and shot him a quick smile. "Right. We'll bring everything we have. Thanks!"
She hung up the phone and walked towards him with a satisfied look. "That was Henderson. What's that I smell?"
He emptied the bag onto the platter. "Well, I did promise you breakfast, so I stopped by a bakery on my way back."
"Oh, yeah? In which country?" Her voice was wry, not furious.
In spite of everything, he grinned. "Ours — just down the street. I was in a hurry."
"Good. I'm starved." She selected two danishes, and he got her a cup of coffee. There was an awkward moment. "What did you find?"
He shrugged. "Not much." He told her about the mystery man and the diary.
"He got this from a time-traveler?" Lois looked deeply skeptical.
"So he said — the weirdest thing, though, is I think that part was true. I was getting these flashes of memories. You and I were both in the past, somewhere."
"Okay, Clark, I can believe the Superman thing, but time travel?"
He decided to leave that argument for later. "Well, that's what the guy said. Why were you talking to Henderson?"
She tossed her head. "Attempted blackmail is a crime. We've got your evidence. We can get the phone number he used to call here and probably trace a location. Then we'll bug your phone — mine too — and when he contacts you to find out what you're going to do, we'll get it on tape. We hand the recording over to Henderson, and with luck, the little weasel will be under arrest before lunch."
He squinted at her. "Um, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose? I don't *want* everyone to know."
"Neither do I," she assured him. "And they won't. You just did this a month or two ago with Diana Stride, remember? And you're going to have to tell me *how* you did that, by the way. Just treat this the same way. Unless he's got a lot better proof than the word of a time traveler, all we have to do is go to the videotape."
"Well… he didn't say anything about other proof."
"We can discredit anything he's got," she replied confidently. "Trust me, the idea that Superman is really a regular guy with a job is ridiculous. No one will believe it." Her voice turned heavily ironic. "Ask me how I know."
"I'm sorry, Lois."
"You should be," she replied without heat. "But first, we have to get rid of this guy. People should never give in to blackmailers. Especially not Superman."
He began to relax. "Well, that's kind of what I was thinking." They lapsed into a comfortable silence, leaning against the kitchen counters, finishing breakfast.
"So," he broke the silence. "We need to visit Henderson, and then go to work. And my parents are in town. But… would you like to have dinner? So we can really talk." He paused, trying to read her expression. "I guess what I'm asking is, will you forgive me for being an idiot?"
She sighed. "Will you forgive me? Clark… it's taken us a long time to get here, and we both did stupid things along the way." She reached out to capture his hand, staring into his eyes. "All I really want to do now is get to know you again."
"Lois, you know me better than *anyone*."
She shook her head. "No, I don't know you at all, Clark. I mean, I know you as Clark, and I know you as Superman, but I need some time to, well, mesh the two together in my mind. Sort out what lies you've told me, and find out things you've hidden."
He flushed. "Lois, that was only—"
"I know, Clark." She squeezed his hand. "I know it was necessary to keep your secret. I really do understand that. And in the end, you did tell me. Sort of. But my point is… I don't really know you as well as I thought I did, and that's what I want to do — spend time with the real you — an ordinary guy who just happens to have superpowers."
He opened his mouth to protest again, then shut it. If she wanted to spend time with him, why was he arguing? They had plenty of time to debate the finer points of his identity. "Okay. I'd really like that." He smiled. "We can do a lot more now that you know about me."
She grinned conspiratorially at him. "You know, that thought had occurred to me."
He laughed, and for the second time today said, "I love you."
"I know. And, well… I don't want to say yet that I love you. But…" Her smile turned more intimate. "I loved Superman, and I love Clark, so I'd say the odds are pretty good that I will love Clark-as-Superman."
His heart swelled, noting those verb tenses. "I'll have to do my best to convince you."
"Oh, please do!" she invited, her mouth twitching.
He leaned forward and kissed her — a kiss full of promises. She put her hands on his chest and kissed him back.
When he pulled away, she had a dreamy smile. After a moment, though, she glanced at her watch. "But before we can do more of that—"
"We've got work to do. Right."
"Don't worry, Clark. We'll get him." She buttoned up her jacket and headed for the door.
He held it open for her. "With you on the case, I haven't got the slightest doubt of that."
"And then…" she glanced up at him, "you can work on convincing me."
Convincing, dating, proposing… He smiled. "Believe me, I look forward to it."