By Sue S. <email@example.com>
Rated: PG13 for adult themes and some mild cursing
Submitted: June, 2007
Summary: An encounter with the clone Superman allow both Lois and Clark the chance to see beyond the exterior.
The first little bit of this is lifted directly from the episode, 'Vatman'. After that, though, it becomes a completely different story. None of these characters are even remotely mine (which I find to be one of life's great inequities). I'm doing this out of love for the series and not to make a profit.
This one is for DJ. She never fails to encourage me in all things, not just fic. So here you are, DJ, Angry!Clark — just because you asked. <vbg>
Thanks be to my betas — DJ, alcyone and Julia — for all the time they volunteer on my behalf. An honorable mention goes out to Lara who answered my question about my rusty French without making me feel like an idiot for asking. Furieux!Clark pour toi aussi. Je t'aime!
Lois had just lit the candles when one of them blew out. She smiled to herself and whirled around to see Superman standing there. "Oh, hello" she said, feeling giddy at the sight of him. "You're early."
"Is that, uh, is that okay?" Superman asked.
"Sure. Everything's ready." Lois set the box of matches down and reached for the bottle of champagne she had on ice. "Would you like a drink?"
"Drink? Uh, well, uh, I don't, I don't really need to but I guess so. Sure."
Lois worked on opening the champagne, glad to have something else to concentrate on besides him. "Well, nobody needs champagne, but that's what makes life interesting, n'est-ce pas?"
"Life is interesting." Superman moved closer behind her, increasing the flutter in her stomach as she worked at the bottle.
The cork popped and the champagne spilled over. She took a step back and almost bumped into him. Lois shook her head to banish the fantasies that brought to mind and poured the champagne as Superman softly observed, "You spilled."
Suddenly unsure of herself when he was this close, she handed him the champagne flute. He took it from her, clinking his glass against hers as he gave her a slow once-over that made her want to blush. She took a sip of champagne instead.
"You look really, really hot," he said.
Lois choked on her champagne. "Oh, well, thanks, um…," she murmured. This was every bit as bizarre as having him smirk at her earlier in the day. What was with him lately?
"Can we sit on the sofa?" he asked and gestured at her love seat.
"Okay." She wished she could think of a good reason not to sit close to him. She couldn't shake the memory of the way he had tossed the bank robber into the police van that morning. What had happened to change him so radically?
No sooner had they sat down then he pulled the old stretch-and-yawn routine, his hand coming to rest possessively on her bare shoulder. Lois gave him a nervous smile.
"Do you like me?" he asked earnestly.
"Of course," she said reassuringly. "You know I do. Although, I have been a little concerned about your behavior lately."
He looked a little concerned himself. "I haven't done anything wrong."
"No," she said, trying to backtrack. "No, no. It's just that, well, I saw you throw that man, uh, into the police van and…"
"Might is right," he told her as if that explained everything. She was still trying to think how to reply to that when he said, "How about a kiss?"
"Huh?" Lois was still trying to process the change in topic when he moved in on her, grabbing her shoulders and pushing her back as his lips came down hard on hers. She tried to push him away but found she couldn't move him at all.
"Wait." Lois turned her head away from him, trying to catch her breath and process what was happening. What had happened to Superman? Suddenly he was like a hormone-ridden teenager on a date. She pushed against his shoulders again but he still didn't budge. "Superman," she said breathlessly, "this isn't why I invited you here tonight."
"Really? You didn't wear this dress for me?" His fingers traced over the bare skin of her upper arm and she was suddenly very grateful that the gown had a high neck. If only she hadn't left the top two buttons unfastened. Suddenly that little omission felt less like flirting and more like a screaming invitation for trouble. His hand dropped to caress her knee and she left out a soft gasp.
"I, uh…" His fingers had slipped beneath the hem of her skirt and she grabbed his wrist to stop him. There were too many damn buttons left unfastened everywhere. She cursed herself anew for wearing this dress and tried again to squirm away from him. His hand left her thigh and caught her shoulder, pressing her backwards until the arm of the sofa met up uncomfortably with her back.
"I saw you come home tonight," he whispered in her ear. "You weren't wearing this dress then."
"Our dinner is getting cold." She tried another tack, hoping to distract him but he had shifted his hand to her neck and was stroking his thumb along the collar of her dress. The gesture seemed almost menacing to her as she thought about how easily he could snap her neck. Her mind was reeling from his confession. He'd been watching her like some common voyeur. It was wrong. It was absolutely wrong and she couldn't make any sense of it.
"I would have watched you longer," he continued, giving her a feral grin, "but my father was calling me."
"Your father?" Lois shifted uneasily as the heel of his hand came to rest against her breast. "You have a father?" Keep him talking, she told herself. Keep him talking and maybe he'll snap out of it. She didn't want to think about what was going to happen if he didn't.
"Don't you?" he asked in a mocking tone, tipping his head back to look at her with cold amusement. "Everyone has a father."
"It's just that I've never heard you mention him before."
A scowl passed over his features. "I don't want to talk about him. He told me to stay away from you."
"Why?" Lois felt absolutely lost now. Superman had a father somewhere nearby and his father didn't like her? There was something so volatile about him and it was deeply frightening. She tried again to shift away from him but he tightened the hand on her arm until she was certain he was leaving bruises. "You're hurting me," she whispered. "Please stop."
"I don't want to hurt you," he said earnestly. "I love you."
"Oh." Her entire body went cold at his words. Once upon a time she had dreamed of hearing him say them but there was nothing loving in his eyes or his touch as he said them. "Please let me go," she asked again and turned her shoulders to try and break free of him.
"But you said you liked me." He sounded petulant as he easily captured both of her wrists, pinning them together in one wide hand. "You said 'yes' you wanted me to come here tonight."
"I thought…" Her mind reeled as she realized how wrong she had been. This wasn't Superman. He couldn't be. She fought to keep her voice even as she frantically tried to free her hands. "You're not Superman, are you? What did you do to Superman?"
"Don't fight me," he warned, his eyes narrowing at her. "Don't make me have to hurt you."
A glance through the door and all he saw was a flutter of the cape as Lois let out a muffled plea of "No, stop." His entire body went rigid as he realized what was happening. He raised his hand to knock on the door but it splintered at his touch. Clark pushed past the remaining wood and rushed over to the struggling figures on the sofa. He lifted the faux Superman from Lois and tossed him against the other love seat hard enough that it broke.
Lois pulled the tattered material of her dress closed but not before he caught a glimpse of breast marred by an angry-looking scratch.
"Clark," she said in a flat tone and turned away from him, still trying to piece her dress back together. His jaw clenched and he pulled his jacket off and held it out to her. She took it with a mumbled "thanks". Then he turned to the man picking himself up off the floor. Something flared inside Clark, white-hot and eager to kill, at the thought that this man had hurt Lois. Had *forced* himself on her using Clark's own face and body to do it.
"What do you think you're doing?" the fake him asked. "Do you know who you're messing with?"
Clark pushed him backwards, watching him stumble over the remains of the couch. "Do you know who you're messing with?"
"Clark," Lois whispered from behind him. "Don't. He's not really Superman. He'll hurt you."
"He hurt you," Clark spit out and took another step closer to his double as he picked himself up from the floor again.
The punch took Clark by surprise and he staggered back a few steps before he launched himself at his double, catching him around his waist and using the momentum to knock them both over. They landed in a tangle of legs and cape and Clark was able to get a few good hits in before he was thrown backwards and landed against her kitchen table. It gave way, sending plates and food crashing to the ground along with him.
"Clark!" Lois shrieked as she scrambled off of her couch, still clutching his jacket to her chest.
He glanced over at her. "Maybe you should leave the room," he suggested.
"Are you crazy? You can't fight him!"
"Please, Lois, just stay out of this." Clark shifted his attention away from her as his double started to circle him appraisingly.
"I know who you are," the fake Superman said.
"Then you have the advantage. Tell me who you are."
The other Superman laughed and shook his head. "Knowledge is power. Why would I tell *you* anything? You're my enemy." He jerked his head in Lois' direction. "She's right. I'm going to hurt you. I'm going to kill you."
"Clark, just go," Lois whispered. "Please just go."
This time when his double went to strike him, Clark was ready. He caught his fist and the two of them strained to best the other. Clark thought of Lois, of how he had found them. Anger, so thick it was palable, coursed through him and he pushed back hard, sending the fake Superman across the room to land in the pile of plates and food.
His double rose slowly, his breathing as ragged as Clark's as they warily eyed each other. Clark risked a quick glance at Lois. She was standing near her shattered front door, still clutching his jacket against her body. Her eyes were wide and frightened. His double took advantage of the loss of Clark's full attention and closed the distance between them in heartbeat, driving both of them backwards towards the window. Clark strained and stopped them just short of the glass, letting out a grunt from the effort. His double threw another punch before Clark could recover and for a moment the world seemed to explode in front of his eyes. He shook his head to clear it and the other Superman laughed. The mocking sound sent another wave of rage through Clark and he grabbed hold of his twin, picking him up and tossing him through the window in frustration. There was a boom outside as his double disappeared in a red and blue streak before the glass had even finished falling to the ground below.
For half a second Clark thought about following him but then he realized that he was long gone. He turned to face Lois and the only sound in the apartment was their harsh breathing as they both tried to recover. She stared at him for a long few seconds as her face turned pale.
"It's you. You're Superman."
Clark went to adjust his glasses and then realized that they weren't there. He dropped his hand and thought about denying it but suddenly he just couldn't anymore. "Yes," he whispered.
Lois didn't move. Her eyes jumped back and forth between his face and the broken window behind him.
"Are you okay?" he asked. He wanted to step closer to her but he was afraid of her reaction. Afraid that she hated him now for lying to her. Afraid that she might be frightened of him after what his double had done to her.
Lois tightened her grip on his jacket as her cheeks flushed with embarrassment for how he had found her. "I'm fine." She looked around her apartment and felt a pang of loss at the destruction. "I guess I'll go, uh, you know…" She gestured at her bedroom as she edged in that direction.
Clark looked away, feeling ashamed. "I'll, uh, clean up a little while you're gone."
She went in her bedroom, feeling removed from herself as she picked out some casual clothes to change into. She couldn't bear the thought of putting those clothes on while the touch of that man was still on her skin. She went into her bathroom and locked the door. For nearly a minute she stood there, trembling, while her ears strained to hear if Clark was still there. He wouldn't leave, would he? Not when there was a possibility that that other Superman might come back?
Finally her revulsion won out over caution and she stripped off what was left of her dress. She turned the water on, making it as hot as she could bear before she climbed in. She scrubbed herself repeatedly but it did nothing to take away the bile at the back of her throat. Lois wanted to cry but her eyes were dry. She couldn't cry, not with Clark in the next room. Not when she now knew that he'd be able to hear her.
Her hair was still wet when she came back into her kitchen. Her apartment had been tidied up but her door and window were still shattered and her love seat was a loss.
"I guess I'll go stay at a hotel," she said softly.
"That's a good idea," he replied. Neither of them spoke it, but they were both thinking that there was less of a chance of the other Superman finding her if she left. "I'm going to go look for him," he added after a small silence.
Lois nodded and looked down. When she heard the familiar whoosh she looked up but he was gone.
She had walked for over an hour, wandering aimlessly as her mind tried to make sense of the most frightening and bizarre night of her life. Suddenly her feet stopped and she looked up at the building beside her. Of course she had come here.
She could see that a light was on inside as she knocked on his door but he didn't answer. For a few seconds she wavered and then she decided that it was worth the risk. She picked his lock easily — too easily. He really needed to get a better lock than the one he had. You would think that having your home broken into would make you invest in a better lock but apparently Jack's ransacking of his apartment had not been a wake up call.
Once inside, she stood on his landing and looked around. His apartment was so familiar to her and yet now it looked completely foreign. That wasn't Clark's couch — it was Superman's couch. She had slept on Superman's couch last month. She permitted herself a grim smile at the memory. All this time and Superman had been right under her nose.
Lois shut the door behind her and went down his stairs. She touched the arm of his couch, his phone, his bookshelves. Her fingers brushed against all those ordinary objects now made fascinating by the fact that they were *his*. She came around the wall and stared at his bed. For a moment the memory of the false Superman rippled through her and she took an involuntary step back.
No. It wasn't him. Superman — no, *Clark* — would never have done those things to her. Her gaze lifted and caught on the small framed picture of Clark as a boy on the headboard of his bed. He was grinning at the camera and she realized that, while Clark was older now, he was, in so many ways, just as open and approachable as he had been at ten.
She sat down on his bed and picked up another picture. This one showed Clark standing between his parents in a black cap and gown. He had one arm around each of them and they were all beaming at the camera. How had he ended up here? How had Superman become Clark Kent?
She glanced again at the picture of the young Clark. He hadn't become Clark Kent. He had always been Clark Kent. The real question was how did Clark Kent become Superman?
How had somebody else become Superman? How had a stranger managed to look just like him, have all of his strength, and yet none of his compassion? How could she have been so stupid? It wasn't the Suit that made Clark Superman — it was his desire to help others by any means possible. She should have recognized him long before now. She should have known when it was — and wasn't — him in that Suit.
She put the picture back and let out a sigh. There were so many questions and so few answers and her head was beginning to hurt. Lois picked up his pillow and hugged it to her chest. Her chin dropped and she buried her nose in the pillow, inhaling the clean masculine scent of Clark that lingered there. His was the same smell as Superman — how had she missed that? Whoever it was that attacked her tonight hadn't got that part right either. He hadn't smelled like Clark. She hugged the pillow tighter and fought the lump in her throat. She wouldn't cry. It wasn't worth crying over. Besides, it was over now. It didn't matter anymore.
She tipped over sideways, still clutching his pillow and closed her eyes. She just needed a few minutes to gather her thoughts.
Clark landed on his back porch and saw that every light in his apartment was on. He tensed, wondering if his double had come there. Then he caught sight of Lois asleep on his bed. The last few hours had been enough time that he could now see a dark bruise on her cheek and another on her wrist. A tic began to work in his jaw. How could anyone hurt her?
This thought was made was even worse by the fact that she had believed that it was him doing those things to her. Clark changed into his regular clothes before he came inside, not wanting to scare her if she woke up. The last person in the world she would want to see right now would be his alter ego. He covered her with a blanket, careful not to touch her, and then went to make himself some tea.
A few minutes later she padded into his kitchen, wrapped in the blanket he had laid over her. Layers, he realized. She was dressing in layers to hide herself from him. He felt a pang as he realized she would have a residual distrust of him for some time to come. He might not be the person who had attacked her, but he wore that man's face and he was guilty of lying to her since almost the day they met.
"Did you find him?" she asked quietly.
"No." He held out the cup of tea he had just made but she shook her head.
"I'm sorry I broke into your apartment." Her voice was still low and quiet and he wondered if she was afraid of upsetting him.
"It's not like I'm going to report you. You're welcome here anytime," he reassured her.
"I guess there are a lot of things that happened tonight that will never get reported."
He stared at the bottom of his mug, wishing he knew what to say.
"I'll never tell," she added softly. "I'll never tell anyone. Ever. You can trust me, Clark." When he looked up her eyes were wide and wary as she watched him. "You do believe me, don't you?" she whispered.
He nodded. "I believe you."
She swallowed and turned away. Don't cry, she scolded herself. Don't cry. She made a choked gasp as her eyes filled up anyway. It's not his fault, she railed at herself. Don't make him think that it is.
"Lois?" Clark felt frozen and wished he knew what to do for her. Every cell of his body longed to hold her, to rock her in his arms, and tell her that it wasn't her fault and that he would never let anyone hurt her again.
"I'm s-s-s-sorry." Her hand shook as she wiped frantically at her eyes, trying to stop the tears. "I'm s-s-so sorry, Clark. It's not you, it's…" Another choked sob escaped from her at the realization that she had no idea what was wrong, let alone how to tell him that.
Clark took a hesitant step towards her. She didn't turn and run from him — didn't even flinch — and he found himself heartened by that fact. He reached out, tentatively putting his hand on her shoulder. It was the first time he had touched her since before his double had attacked her and he was worried the gesture would spook her. "What can I do?" he asked softly.
She made another futile swipe at her eyes and shook her head. There was nothing he could do. Even Superman couldn't fix this, although she had to give him points for trying. She looked up at him through watery eyes as her teeth chattered. Lois fervently wished she could just fall apart for a little while. If there was anyone in the world she could fall apart in front of, it would have to be Clark. He had seen her like this before — when Deborah Winneger had tried to kill her — and he had kept her secret safe. She was suddenly glad that she could keep a secret for him now. He knew she wasn't strong all the time — and she knew that he was.
She opened her mouth to tell him that but all that came out was a broken sob that almost sounded like his name. She took an unsteady step towards him, wanting nothing more than the safety of his arms. She slid her arms around him and buried her face against the solidity of his chest. "Please," she whispered, hoping that he would understand.
His arms closed around her just as her knees seemed to give out and she sagged against him, taking hold of a fistful of his shirt to keep herself upright as the sobs shook her body.
"Shhh," he whispered to her. "It's going to be okay."
"I fought him," she told him, "but he wouldn't stop."
A shudder went through him. He had spent hours now picturing what had happened before he had shown up. He was quite certain it was going to haunt his nightmares for the rest of his life. "I know. You were very brave," he told her.
"I knew," she said, the words shaking as she cried. "I knew he wasn't you. I knew he wasn't you. You would never hurt me like that."
"No," he assured her. "I never would." I love you, he thought as his body and soul ached for her pain. He kissed the crown of her head. "You're safe now, I promise."
"S-so strong," she choked out.
"Lois, it's not your fault. No one could have fought him." His heart was tearing into little pieces. She was never going to be able to let him touch her. How could she? How could she even bear to be this close to him now?
"Not him." She shook her head against his chest. "I didn't mean him. You. You're so strong. And I'm not. I'm really not." She looked up at him and her teary eyes seemed to be pleading with him. "You're the only one who knows that."
Understanding dawned on him. From the first she had always been in such tight control of her emotions. He had seen rare glimpses of the softness underneath and he had loved her all the more for them. Only now did he realize that her tears were the one thing she had never shown Superman.
"I'll never tell," he promised.