Submitted: February 2007
Summary: An ill FoLC fanfic writer receives an unexpected visit from a bewildered Clark — will his presence help her recuperate or make matters worse?
I have no excuse for this except that I was feeling sorry for Sue S. She was so sick and no Clark handy to bring her his pillow. Sue, forgive me, but this came to me in a fit of insanity and I just had to write it. Please don't call the nurses on me. I'll be good. I promise to behave…
In absence of a beta reader on this fic, I would like to thank my GE, Erin, for her hard work in making sure all my t's were crossed, i's were dotted, and commas were in the correct places. <g>
Disclaimer — this is a work of fiction — do not hold Sue to any of the characterizations I made or actions I wrote her doing in this fic. <wink>
Sue pulled another Kleenex out of the box beside her bed. She lifted it to her nose and made a face. It really didn't matter how soft they claimed these tissues to be, or whether or not they had aloe, lotion, or some other moisturizer in them, by the time you blew your nose for the fiftieth time, it still hurt. It might as well have been sandpaper.
She bit down on her lip and blew a short, hard blow.
What was even worse was the fact that as stuffy as her nose was, the blowing didn't do much good. She tossed the used sandpaper at the trashcan she had next to her bed. It hit the rim and threatened to lean the wrong way.
"Don't you do it," she threatened. The Kleenex apparently decided it didn't want to mess with her, not with the mood she was in today, and it obediently fell into the can.
Sue looked down at the laptop on her lap. She had work she was supposed to be doing. After all, she had told her boss that she was going to work from home today. But she just couldn't seem to get motivated to do it. Who wants to work when they're sick? Who wants to do *anything* when they're sick? She couldn't even come up with the energy to work on her latest work of fanfic — even with all the good feedback she had read on the boards earlier that morning.
Personally, she'd just as soon stick in a good B-movie with Dean Cain in it, curl up with a bottle of Nyquil, and call it a day.
But only one of his steamier movies. What movie was it she had watched the other evening? It had been very forgettable, plot-wise — but, oh, that love scene. That five minutes had totally made up for the rest of the otherwise pathetic waste of the man's talents.
In fact, the more she thought about it, the better her idea sounded. Work was overrated. It would still be there for her to do later… Where had she put that bottle of Nyquil anyway?
After scanning the room and feeling around the bed for the fugitive bottle, she saw the plastic cap peeking out from underneath the covers.
Ah, yes, she had gotten up in the middle of the night last night to take a dose and had brought it to bed with her. She reached over and fished the bottle out. Now to find that movie.
After a few minutes of sitting on the edge of the bed, trying to get the room to quit spinning and her head to quit throbbing, she managed to stand up and walk a few feet towards her bedroom door.
Where had she left that movie? She started to go downstairs. No, no she wouldn't have left it down there. Not where her son could find it. How embarrassing would that be? No. It had to be in her bedroom. That would have been the only TV she would have watched it on.
She walked back into her room and began to hunt for it. But to her disappointment, she couldn't find it. She instead found her season four DVD's for 'Lois and Clark.'
Sue made a face.
She wasn't in the mood for season four. Sure, there was a lot of kissing and touching — oooh, and there was that 'thigh' scene from 'Sex, Lies, and Video' — but there just wasn't enough conflict in season four for her taste. It just wasn't believable.
And it was probably better if she didn't watch season four while she was working on her latest fic. She needed inspiration not frustration — and season four only made her frustrated.
A glint caught her attention and she looked over at her TV to see a DVD sitting next to it, upside down. She picked it up and turned it over, hoping it was that *other* movie she had been looking for. It wasn't. It was a season one DVD of 'Lois and Clark'. Hmmm. Season one. Well, it wasn't what she was hoping for, but it would do. That other movie probably wouldn't have helped her get to sleep anyway…
She looked at the label on the disc again. Disc Four. Had this disc really been sitting here that long? The last time she remembered watching this disc was to do research on 'All Shook Up' for that last epic monstrosity she had written.
She shrugged and the movement made her feel a little dizzy. Time to get back in bed. She inserted the disc into her DVD player and crawled back in bed. As the 'Federal Warning' flashed across the screen, Sue took a big gulp of the cherry Nyquil she was still holding and wriggled down under her covers.
She chose the 'play' option, which would begin with the first episode on the disc and play through all the episodes in order. Sue had barely made it through the credits on 'Honeymoon in Metropolis' when she fell asleep.
The sound of a doorbell awoke Sue with a start. She glanced over at her alarm clock — 10:50 a.m. She wasn't expecting anyone. Who could possibly be here at this time of day, on a workday no less?
She frowned. A salesman. Probably wanted to show her the latest vacuum cleaner he had. Or girl scouts — wait, no, it wasn't the right time of year for that.
Sue slowly climbed out of bed as she heard the doorbell for the second time. "I'm coming," she yelled in disgust, continuing to mutter something about never getting any peace and quiet. If her luck held true, it was probably her boss coming by to bring her more work to catch up on.
When she got to her door, she peered out through the peephole. Funny. There was no one there. Had they already left? She was about to turn around and go back to her room when she heard the sound of a large truck driving off down her street. It sounded very much like the rumble of a UPS truck.
She opened her door and stuck her head out. Sure enough, there on her porch was a UPS package. Not a large box, just one of those little plastic sack thingys.
She wasn't expecting any packages. Late holiday gift, perhaps? She picked it up and checked the name on the address label. It was addressed to her.
Realizing that it probably wasn't good for her health to be standing with the door wide open on this cold morning — with nothing but her thin pajamas as a wind breaker — she shut the door and made her way to the kitchen to get a pair of scissors.
The exertion of moving around like this was about to get the better of her, but the need to satisfy her curiosity was even greater. There was no return address on the package. Who could it be from?
She grabbed a large pair of scissors out of her kitchen drawer, and when she swayed unsteadily on her feet, she decided maybe she should open the package in bed.
After climbing back into bed, she held the package out in front of her and shook it a little. It made a muted clunking noise. She felt of the contents through the package. It felt like a small box. Well there was no reason to sit here and try to guess what was inside. She slit the plastic with the scissors and reached in to pull the box out. A card was taped to it.
Never being one to read the card first, Sue opened the box on one end and turned it upside down in her hand. After a few shakes, a metal box slid out. There were no marks or insignias on it, no identification of any kind. She pulled the metal lid off and the item that greeted her inside surprised her.
It was a pen. One of those fancy, shiny, gold-accented, black ballpoint pens — the twist kind. She hefted it in her hand. It felt pretty heavy, which probably meant it was a good one.
Definitely a belated holiday gift. But from whom?
She slid a finger under the envelope flap of the card that had been attached. She pulled out the card and read it.
"To a good friend: May your writing never cease — may your joy always increase. If your heart is wanting and it lacks desire, if you find your circumstances are quite dire — you're but a pen-stroke from igniting a fire."
That was it. No name. Nothing else.
How bizarre! Sue glanced over at her Nyquil bottle. Maybe it would make more sense to her if she read it while she wasn't 'under the influence.'
She wondered if the pen was any good. Her last favorite pen had found its way into a new owner's grasp. She still wondered whatever could have happened to it. Maybe this pen would become her new favorite.
If it was any good, that is.
She grabbed her notepad from where it lay beside her laptop on her bed. She put the pen to the page and drew a few doodles. It wrote like liquid silk. This was definitely going to be her new fic-writing pen.
Just then, a ding sounded from her laptop. That would be her e-mail notifier. Someone was online. She lifted the lid and glanced at the screen. It was DJ. DJ was checking on her to see if she was feeling any better.
'Not much,' she typed. 'Wish I wasn't sick. Ugh! This blows — in more ways than one.' Sue inserted a frowny face after the sentence.
'Poor Sue. <hugs> You know what I wish? I wish I hadn't had to go back to work,' DJ typed back. 'No. You know what I really wish? I wish I could write fanfic for a living.'
'Heh — me too.'
'Now, come on, Sue. Be honest. What do you really wish?'
Sue had picked up her pen again and was looking at it while she had been waiting for DJ's response. Sue put her pen to her notebook and wrote a quick sentence. Then she typed the sentence into the chat window.
'I wish I really did have Clark Kent in my closet — snort.'
'ROTFL. Me too — but then hubby might get jealous <wink> Okay, Sue, well I'll leave you alone so you can get some rest. Feel better, okay?'
'Thanks. I'll get your beta back to you soon. Promise. Just as soon as I feel up to working on it. Bye.'
Sue looked back down at the sentence she had written with her pen. Clark Kent in her closet — now there was a happy thought.
With that pleasant daydream in her mind, she drifted back to sleep.
Bam! Bam, bam, BAM!!!
Sue turned over in bed, putting a pillow over her head. "Go away and come back tomorrow," she muttered.
"HELP!" a voice shouted. A male voice.
BAM! BAM, BAM, BAM!!!
"Please! Anybody out there?"
Sue sat up in bed. 'Out there'? Out where? Where was that voice/sound coming from?
She drug herself out of bed once again and listened for the pounding.
It sounded like it was coming from the hallway. There was someone in her hallway, hollering for help? How absurd! How much of that Nyquil had she drunk anyway?
She was about to turn around when she heard the voice again. "Help!" Bam, bam! The voice sounded vaguely familiar.
Now she was a little alarmed. She might be drugged up on Nyquil but she was awake enough to know the difference between a dream and reality.
"Who's there?" she yelled, stepping out into the hallway but staying close enough to her bedroom door that she could beat a hasty retreat. "Where are you?"
"Clark. My name's Clark and I'm not sure where I am. I seem to be locked inside a small compartment — maybe a closet? Can you get me out?"
<I wish I had Clark Kent in my closet…>
Sue began to laugh. A laugh that all too quickly turned into a rasping cough. Dang that cold. "Oh, oh that's good. That's funny. Okay, joke's over, come out."
"Miss, this is no joke. Please, can you get me out of here?"
Sue turned around and ran back into her bedroom. Oh god. There was a strange man in her closet! What if he was a burglar or a rapist… a serial killer?
One thing was for sure — he certainly wasn't Clark Kent.
She looked around her bedroom. Weapon… weapon… she needed something she could use as a weapon. After all, she couldn't leave whoever it was in her hall closet.
Her eyes fell on the pair of scissors she had used to open her package. Weapon located. As she started to head back towards the hallway, the phone in her bedroom caught her attention. The police. She should definitely call the police.
She picked up the receiver and started to dial 911, but she hesitated. What was she going to tell them? That somehow someone had broken into her house and had somehow gotten locked up inside her hallway closet? How absurd did that sound? Wait a minute — was she really concerned about that when she could potentially have a criminal inside her house?
Yes. Yes, she was.
She put the receiver back down and walked cautiously back into the hallway. "Are you still there?" She almost smacked herself in the forehead. What a dumb question.
"Yeah, still here. Can you help me?"
"Listen, I have no idea who you are, or how you got into my hall closet, but I'm going to call the police if you try anything funny…"
"No, please don't. Here, hang on."
Sue could here a few muffled sounds and some banging around. It sounded like he was moving around inside the closet. She raised the pair of scissors up over her head in an attack position, just in case.
When the sounds stopped, she saw something being slid underneath the door of the closet. It looked like some sort of plastic card.
"My driver's license. Please, just look at it. I'm not armed and I'm not dangerous. I swear. I just seem to be trapped in here and can't get out. If you'll let me out, I can try to explain."
Sue walked a little closer to the closet. "It's not locked. Why can't you get out yourself?"
"My hands are tied."
"Then how did you get your driver's license out?"
"They're tied behind my back. I was able to reach into my pocket and get my billfold, then I dropped the license to the floor and kicked it under the door…" Sue wasn't sure but she thought she heard a frustrated sigh. "Look, are you going to help me or not?"
She finished her careful approach to the closet door and bent down to pick up the driver's license — except it wasn't a driver's license, it was a credit card.
"You dropped the wrong thing."
"You dropped a credit card." She examined the card more closely and felt her jaw drop when she read the name on it — 'Clark Kent.' No, no that wasn't possible. Someone was playing a joke on her.
But who? None of her family or her friends — at least the ones living close by — knew that she teased about having Clark locked up in her closet.
She had a feeling she was going to regret this but, raising her scissors once more, she put a firm hand on the doorknob. On the count of three, she told herself.
She turned the handle and jerked the door open.
When her captive turned his face to look at her, blinking at the sudden onslaught of light, Sue passed out.
Sue felt a slightly damp cloth being applied to her face. She opened her eyes and then proceeded to immediately shut them. Oh god. It wasn't a dream. Clark Kent was sitting next to her — on her bed no less — blotting a damp cloth against her forehead.
"Are you okay?" the voice that was distinctly 'Clark' asked her. "I tried to catch you when you passed out, but with my hands tied, I'm afraid I didn't make it. You sort of slid down, though, so I don't think you hit your head. I checked you over and you didn't seem to be hurt."
Oh god, he had checked her over? All blood, and cognitive thinking ability with it, left her brain.
She took a deep breath, trying to clear her mind so that when she opened her mouth something semi-coherent would come out. Unfortunately, what came out was a cough instead. After the fit passed, she noticed Clark watching her. He looked a little concerned.
"Are you okay? You sound awful."
She *sounded* awful? What about how she looked?
She didn't want to know. "I'm just sick. I'll be fine." She had finally managed to find her voice, even if it did come out sounding like she had been a lifetime chain smoker. She could think of better days to receive an unexpected visit from Clark Kent.
She watched as he folded the washcloth he had been blotting her with and handed it to her. Oh, those hands. Up close and personal, she realized everything she had ever written about them paled in comparison with the real thing.
Wait a minute… "You told me your hands were tied?" She looked into his gorgeous brown eyes just long enough to meet his gaze and then she found herself right back looking at his hands again. Those hands had touched her, had picked her up — had laid her down gently in her bed…
Her mind swam with the thought of Clark Kent carrying her and putting her in bed.
She felt a kind of light-headed, floaty feeling and realized she was breathing a little faster and harder than she should be. Slow down, don't hyperventilate, she told herself.
The extra boost of oxygen to her brain seemed to clear her thoughts a little bit, though. This couldn't be Clark Kent. That was impossible. Wasn't it? Yes, yes it was. He was a fictional character. This had to be some kind of Dean Cain imitator or look-alike that one of her friends had hired to play a prank on her.
But the resemblance was remarkable, downright unbelievable.
"The scissors," he answered. "You dropped the scissors when you fell. I got down on the floor and managed to get my hands on them and cut the ropes."
Hah. If he really was Clark Kent, then he could have broke through a few silly ropes without batting an eyelash.
Wait! What was she saying? She was actually speaking in terms as if there was a possibility that this 'person' could be Clark Kent — Superman? How ridiculous. She was obviously still high on Nyquil.
She let an irritated smirk crawl across her face. "Okay. Mr. Whoever-you-are, a joke's a joke, but I'm sick, and tired, and I'm in no mood to deal with this. So, I tell you what. I'll get my purse and pay you whatever money you're owed for this little stunt and then you can be on your way. Okay?"
The Clark look-alike furrowed his brow, frowning. "Kent. Mr. Kent. But you can call me Clark. And I really don't know what 'stunt' you're referring to. Can you tell me where I am?"
Sue reached up and rubbed her forehead. Her head hurt and not just from being sick. This guy wasn't going to make things easy on her, was he? "What do you mean 'where are you'? You're in my house, for one thing. You know, I ought to call the police right now and have you arrested for breaking and entering."
She wouldn't really do that, though. For one thing, Dean or Clark or whoever he was… he was cute. But for another, he hadn't caused her any trouble, and he seemed genuinely confused about what was going on.
She bet this whole little mix-up — whatever it was — hadn't been in the job description.
"No, please. I'll leave," he said in a voice that reminded her of that 'soothing' voice Clark used on Lois sometimes. Heh, this guy was good. "I didn't mean to cause you any trouble. But if you could please tell me where I am, I would really appreciate it. Are we still in Metropolis? When I looked out your window I didn't recognize the area."
Sue almost snorted. "Metropolis? You're kidding, right? Look, you can drop this whole 'Superman' act, okay?" The guy caught Sue off guard when he jumped up off the bed at the mention of Superman.
"What do you mean 'Superman act'? I didn't say anything about Superman. I just asked how far Metropolis is from here." His nervous demeanor was unsettling. Who knew if this guy was even emotionally stable or not? Putting his good looks aside — what if he was some kind of nut job?
"Listen, buddy, this is getting old, real fast. But if answering your question means I'll get you out of my house that much sooner, then…" Sue shook her head slightly, amazed that she was actually going to say this. "Okay, Metropolis isn't a real city. Depending on which Superman myth you prefer, it either takes the place of New York City or else it's located in New Troy, which isn't a real state, either. Either way, assuming Metropolis was actually real, it would be located on the east coast. You, my friend, are in Wisconsin."
"How much of that stuff did you drink?" the man asked her, pointing at her bottle of Nyquil. "Metropolis isn't a real city…? Wow! I've heard some whoppers, but that one takes the cake. If you didn't want to answer my question, all you had to do was say so." He was frowning at her and, for the life of her, Sue couldn't figure out why that made her want to smile. Probably because she'd seen that frown before — but it was usually directed at Lois. "Wisconsin, huh? Are you sure that's where you live? Maybe you really did hit your head when you passed out."
She actually wasn't sure of anything at the moment. She pushed herself up into a sitting position and took a better look at him. He was dressed just like Clark — down to that crazy tie he was wearing. In fact, she recognized the tie. The top half of it had a white background with colored diamond shapes on it. It was separated by a diagonal line and below that the tie was solid black. One of his more bizarre ties. The only reason she recognized it was because she had watched 'Just Say Noah' the other night while doing some research for her latest fic and that was the tie Clark had been wearing for that episode.
She continued her examination up, to take a closer look at his face. A small freckle just above his upper lip caught her attention. Oh god — the freckle. She had spent more time than she would admit to, looking at that freckle.
Okay. There was no faking *that*. So much for a look-alike. "Um, could you excuse me? I need to use the restroom."
Sue looked at herself in the bathroom mirror, frowning at her reflection. Okay, get a grip. That man out there can't possibly be Clark Kent. Clark is a fictional character for heaven's sake!
Maybe she was dreaming.
Grabbing hold of some skin on the back of her arm with her thumb and forefinger, she pinched it — hard. "Ouch!" she hollered, following up with a curse.
"Are you okay?" *Clark's* voice asked from the other side of the door.
"Yeah. Fine." Except she wasn't fine. She was losing her mind.
She knew she really ought to just order the man out of her house… and she was more than certain that if she did, life would simply return to normal. But some perverse part of her wanted to beat this. It was some kind of sick game and she didn't want to give whoever was responsible the satisfaction of getting to her.
She thought for a moment. Fine, if he wanted to pretend he was Clark Kent, she could play along. In fact, she would let him prove himself to be a fraud. No one knew Clark Kent better than she did, except maybe a few of her FoLCdom friends.
Sue splashed a little cold water on her face and grimaced at the face looking back at her from the mirror. She looked like hell. She really needed to be in bed, sleeping, instead of playing games. But the sooner she exposed him for who or what he really was, the sooner she could get back to resting.
She walked out of her bedroom to find 'Clark' leafing through the notebook on her bed — her writing notebook.
"Hey! Put that down. That's personal!"
'Clark' jumped and dropped the book back on the bed, backing away from her. "Who… who are you?" he asked her, holding a hand out in front of him, as if to protect himself.
"I don't think I want to tell you that… Clark. For now, you can call me Sue. Now, who are you?"
"I told you who I am." He pointed towards her notebook. "You've written things in there about me. How do you know me?" His face blanched. "How do you know I'm Superman? How do you know so much about Lois and me? Who do you work for?"
His questions were making her increasingly less and less comfortable. He really was off his rocker. Part of her wanted to check recent news stories to see if perhaps Dean Cain had been diagnosed with amnesia or something bizarre like that. Not that those kinds of things ever happened in real life — they only happened to Lois and Clark.
"Slow down," she ordered him, sitting down on her bed. "You're making my head hurt worse. Before I answer any more of your questions, I want you to answer a couple of mine. Then I'll answer a couple of yours, okay?"
He nodded at her, keeping his distance.
"If you are Clark Kent, as you say you are, then you'll know yourself way better than I do."
"How do you know me?"
"No. Wait for your turn." Sue tried to concentrate — hard to do with a cold and 'under the influence' — what was she going to ask him? Oh, yes. "Clark Kent had to go undercover on assignment with Lois Lane once at the Lexor Hotel. While working undercover they played some games. In one of the games Lois tried to make up a fake word. What was the word?" Only hardcore fans of the show would know the answer to that question — or Clark Kent himself.
She smirked at him, realizing that she had him. "That's what I thought. Okay, 'Mr. Kent,' I'll show you to the door," she said, getting up from where she was sitting on the bed.
He frowned for a second and then a small smile tugged at his mouth. "Chumpy."
Sue stopped dead in her tracks. She felt like ice water was running through her veins. "Okay." She took a deep breath. A harder question. She needed a harder one. "What restaurant did Lois eat at when the two of you were on your almost-date at the marina and she got…"
"Ralph's Pagoda. I did finally manage to get her to try that restaurant again but it took some doing. It's okay if you're in the mood for fast food, but House of Hunan is much better if you have the time — although my mom complains about the heavy garlic."
Sue grabbed hold of the bed frame to steady herself. She was feeling a little woozy again. How could this be possible? "What was the name of Lois and Superman's therapist?"
"Dr. Friskin, and that's more than a couple of questions. It's my turn."
Sue nodded mutely at him, feeling like she had followed the white rabbit down the rabbit hole.
"How do you know all these intimate details about me? About Lois?"
How did she explain? What did she say? She glanced down at her TV remote — maybe she didn't have to *say* anything. "Um, maybe you should sit down."
Clark eyed her warily and sat on the corner of her bed.
"I want you to watch my TV for a moment." She grabbed her DVD remote and pressed play. She held her breath as the images in the menu portion of the DVD played across the screen.
Clark visibly paled. "How is this possible?" he asked, reaching out as if to touch the screen.
"I'm not sure," she admitted.
"So who do you work for?"
She gave him a small grin. "That's more than 'a couple,' but I'll allow it. I'm not sure I understand the question though. You want to know where I work?"
"No. I want to know *who* you're working for — if you're working for Luthor, or Tempus, or maybe just for the National Whisper. *Who* put you up to this?"
"No one. Believe me. I sit at a desk and troubleshoot computers." She actually did a lot more than that, but didn't need to get into the details. She forced a smile at him. "Nothing evil about that — unless you're one of those people who believe that Microsoft is the root of all evil."
He gave her a blank look.
He obviously wasn't in the mood for humor. Okay…
She watched him get up from her bed and run a hand through his thick, dark hair — the same way Clark would when something was troubling him. This really was Clark Kent!
She couldn't believe it. Clark had been tied up in her hall closet.
Sue smiled, remembering all the times she had joked about that online. No one would ever believe this. Not really sure what else to say — it wasn't often that she found herself speechless but this was one of those times — she sat back down and indulged her darker fantasies by watching him pace back and forth a few times. Every movement that he made accentuated his well-defined physique. He had a dark blue dress shirt and that wild tie on, but no coat — and his shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows.
Sue licked her lips, realizing that they felt a little dry. "Do you roll the *suit* sleeves up too?"
Clark stopped pacing and turned to look at her with an incredulous look on his face. "What?"
"You know." She pointed at his sleeves. "Whenever you wear a short-sleeved shirt or roll the sleeves of your shirt up, I always wondered if you rolled the sleeves up on your suit also, or if you just weren't wearing it when you were dressed like that." She had the decency to blush a little at her brazenness.
"Uh. Yeah. I usually roll the suit sleeves up if I'm going to wear my shirt sleeves rolled up." He glanced away from her, looking uncomfortable, and he picked up the season four 'Lois and Clark' DVD box from where she had left it laying beside her TV.
"Do you have the suit on now?" she asked hesitantly. Oh, if her mother were here right now. She'd be appalled at Sue's audacity.
Clark looked back at her, the rosy color in his cheeks clearly visible. "Uh, yeah," he stammered.
"Can I see it? I know that's a pretty bold request, but you have no idea how long I've wanted to see Superman — you know, up close. I mean, I personally always liked you better as Clark and thought Lois was completely blind to ignore you like that…"
Clark cleared his throat. Sue couldn't believe it — she had actually babbled. Like Lois! How embarrassing.
"I can't really show it to you at the moment."
"Why not? Just a peek? You could just do a real quick spin…"
"I can't 'spin.'" He sighed and sat down on her bed again. "My powers don't seem to be working properly right now."
"What do you mean not 'working properly'?"
He winced. "Not at all."
"Really? I guess that would explain why you couldn't get out of that closet by yourself then."
"Yeah." His wince turned into a grimace. "I don't understand any of this." He spread his hands in front of him, gesturing at the DVD box. "But putting that aside, what happened to my powers? How did I get here? And how do I get back?"
Sue's head was beginning to hurt again. This situation was a little more difficult to solve than just your everyday, run of the mill, plot hole. She could write herself out of a corner any day of the week, but take her pen away from her and where did that leave her? She was used to writing *about* Clark, not conversing with him. And he had caught her off her game.
She needed a shower to clear her head — in more ways than one. When she was sick, she always felt a little more human after she had a shower.
"Clark, stay put, I'm gonna take a quick shower and then we can try to figure this out."
Sue stepped out of her shower, wrapping one towel around her body and another around her head. She had never really bought into the premise that you could get sick from a wet head — but she was pretty sure a wet head didn't help someone who was already sick.
She had opted not to take a cold shower for that same reason, even though she probably could have used one.
As she moved to her mirror she noted with satisfaction that she looked much better than before, her cheeks even had a little color in them. She wasn't sure if that was because Clark was sitting just outside the door — on her bed — waiting for her to come out, or if it was simply due to the effects of the hot water.
She wiped under her eyes, making sure that the darkness she saw there was from being sick and not from any traces of old mascara — no such luck. She should have known — she hadn't even worn any mascara since she'd been sick. Oh well, the damage had been done anyway. Clark had already seen her at her worst — sick, frumpy, and wallowing in a bottle of Nyquil.
Sue gave herself one last glance and then stepped away from the mirror. She'd look even better once she dried her hair, applied a little make-up, and put on her "good jeans" — the ones that hadn't shrunk because of repeated trips through the dryer and so still fit nicely…
Jeans? Crap! She hadn't brought any clothes into the bathroom with her. She had been in such a fog that she had completely forgotten that she'd need clean clothes to put on after her shower. Ugh!
She looked down at her pajamas lying rumpled on the floor in one corner and curled her nose in disgust. She didn't want to put those back on, not after she was nice and clean.
But she couldn't go out there in nothing but a towel, could she?
Well, Clark had answered his door for Lois in nothing but a towel, after all. And it wasn't like she had planned this. She didn't do it on purpose.
Would he buy that? Did she?
Sue sighed softly to herself. She was now relating her life to a television show.
She walked to the door and put her hand on the doorknob. Should she make an announcement? Give him fair warning? 'Clark, I'm coming out in nothing but a towel.'
No. No that just seemed silly. They were both adults. She would just go out there like it was nothing out of the ordinary and grab her clothes… and then scurry back in here as fast as she could.
Sue turned the knob and lightly threw the door open. "Hi, Clark, just gotta get some…" She broke off when she saw him toss her writing notebook a couple of feet away from him on the bed. His face had guilt — the color of crimson — stained on it.
She looked away before he could meet her gaze. Oh god. What had he been reading in there? Which story? Which part of which story?
She knew just which snippets that notebook contained. It was obvious from the look on his face and the shade of his skin what he had been reading. How long had he been reading it? The whole time she had been in the shower? She had taken a long shower; he could have read a lot in that time span.
Sue wanted to crawl into the deepest, darkest hole she could find. How embarrassing! It was one thing to share the stories she wrote online — it was a completely different thing to have someone happen upon them like this… Especially when that someone was Clark.
It had been bad enough when she had misplaced her notebook a few weeks ago and had been afraid she had left it at work. She hadn't even wanted to *imagine* that someone might have found it.
Luckily it had turned up — no harm done. Until now…
Well, what was done was done, and saying something about it was only going to draw further attention to it. "Just let me throw on some clothes and dry my hair and I'll be right back," she told him, noting with pleasure that he had averted his eyes and his blush had deepened.
Sue definitely felt more human now. She was clean, she felt fresh — she could even breathe better. Now she could handle things. Now she could get down to brass tacks and figure out what had happened and how it had happened.
This time when she came back into her bedroom, Clark was sitting innocently on the end of her bed, staring thoughtfully down at something in his hands.
As she came closer, she saw him quickly pocket a small black box. She knew what it was. So, was this incarnation of Clark from season three? After the first proposal to Lois?
"It's a very pretty ring," she said softly. "Have you asked her yet?"
Clark looked up at her, his eyes wide and soulful. "How did you…?" He shook his head. "Yes. Yes, I asked her."
"And she turned you down."
He nodded, sighing softly. "She said she needed some time. I gave her time but then…"
"You broke up with her for her own good." Sue was getting a serious case of deja vu.
"How do you know all that?"
Hadn't they already been through this? She pointed towards the DVD's.
"No," he told her, picking up her notebook from where it still sat on her bed. "How do you know this?" He held up her notebook.
"This is your notebook, isn't it? Did you write what's in it?"
Her face flushed furiously. "Yes. Look, I…"
"Are you psychic?"
"What? No! No, I'm not psychic," she assured him. "I just wrote stories based on what I knew about you and Lois." She gave him a small smile. "Glad to know they were so close to how you really felt, though."
"Close? No, they weren't close," he said with an odd expression on his face. Sue couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. She had been told that she wrote good characterizations. It was a little deflating to hear this coming directly from Clark.
"No," Clark continued. "They were exact. Every minute detail of what I read was exact — every reaction, every feeling."
Sue felt her eyebrows shoot up. "But that's not possible. *I* wrote these stories. That's all they are, just stories — from *my* mind."
Clark was shaking his head. "No, Sue. I lived these moments. I had these thoughts. I felt these feelings."
That was the first time Clark had said her name, "Sue," and it sent little tingles all through her. She had been trying her best not to act like a star struck fan and drool all over him, but that single utterance from his lips was almost enough to do her in. She had to fight for control of her mind. How was this possible? How could he have lived the things she had written?
She needed to test that theory a little further. Test his knowledge of what she had written. A few choice scenes popped into her mind and she dismissed them quickly before they were allowed to blossom onto her face in the form of a blush. After a few moments she had her question.
"What happened after you broke up with Lois?"
"Don't you already know?" he asked defensively.
"Just go with me on this, Clark. I'm trying to help you."
He sighed and let his gaze drop down to his lap. He wouldn't look at her as he said his next few words. "It broke her heart. She wouldn't talk to me. She stayed coldly aloof. It was awful." When he looked back up at her, his eyes were full of pain.
Sue felt sorry for him. She truly did. It was one thing to watch the episodes or read stories about what an idiot Clark had been, but to see him here, like this. To see the hurt in his face, the agony in his eyes — it was a little humbling. "I don't mean to sound insensitive, but that's not what I meant. What happened… later?" Sue asked, fishing a little further.
"Perry sent us out on assignment together. He was thinking of trying this couples' therapy thing with Alice. We camped and hiked." He grinned. "Lois complained that I wouldn't use my super powers to cheat so that she could beat the other couples."
A creepy feeling was crawling up the back of Sue's neck.
Clark rubbed his temples. "What was the name…? Elliot Outfitters. That was it."
No. No it couldn't be! "So you don't remember anything about a place called the Larry Smiley Institute?"
Clark frowned. "Well, actually, now that you mention it, yeah. It does sound familiar."
This was getting too weird. "What do you remember?"
Clark closed his eyes. "Larry Smiley ended up being crazy, right? He thought he could flood the Earth. Lois and I figured out what he was up to when we found that old book in his office." He smiled again, a little bigger this time. "Lois was upset because Larry didn't think we were compatible." His forehead wrinkled in concentration and then his eyes flew open. "We kissed! We made up! But — I don't understand. How…?"
Sue held up a hand to silence him while she thought. Her head hurt. How could he know what had happened at the Larry Smiley institute *and* what was happening in her story? They happened at roughly the same time. Her story was a 'rewrite.' This didn't make any sense.
"So where were you right before you ended up in my closet? What's the last thing you remember?"
"I had been at that retreat, camping with Lois. But then I was back at my apartment." His eyes glazed over for a moment. "I can't really remember any of the details. It's hazy."
"But that doesn't make any sense! You were camping. You had *camping* stuff on. Not a dress shirt, tie and slacks!" she exclaimed in frustration, pointing at his clothes. That couldn't possibly be the last thing that he remembered.
He looked down at his clothes and shrugged. "Don't ask me. All I know is that's the last thing I remember." Then he frowned and shook his head softly. "No. That's not true. I also remember packing."
"Packing?" she asked. Then she had a thought. "You weren't possibly packing a pillow for Lois and grabbing that ring box?"
"No. No, I was packing for our trip to the Larry Smiley Institute. I remember. We were going to leave the next day." He reached up and rubbed his temples. "That doesn't make any sense. Why would Perry have sent us to both places? How can I remember doing both? Am I going crazy?" He eyed her curiously. "What happened right before I showed up here?"
"What happened to me?"
"Not much. I was home sick from work. I had taken some Nyquil, popped in a DVD and fallen asleep," she paused as realization dawned on her. "Until the doorbell woke me up. I had gotten a delivery. A pen." She reached over and grabbed the pen from where she had left it lying. "This pen."
Clark took the pen and examined it. "Doesn't look like anything special."
"No, but I got the strangest card with it and I have no idea who sent it."
"What did the card say?"
Sue looked around until she spotted the card. She picked it up and read the card out loud.
"To a good friend: May your writing never cease — may your joy always increase. If your heart is wanting and it lacks desire, if you find your circumstances are quite dire — you're but a pen-stroke from igniting a fire."
"Weird, huh?" she asked him.
"Yeah. What were they trying to tell you?"
"I'm not sure."
"So that's it? That's all that happened?" he sounded disappointed.
"Well, a friend of mine sent me an instant message." Off of his confused look, she continued, "It's like e-mail but you don't have to wait for it. You can see it instantly and can converse." He nodded his understanding. "Anyway, she was just checking on me and I told her I wished I wasn't sick. But here's the weird thing — she asked me what I *really* wished."
"And what did you say?"
Sue blushed and hesitated for a moment before answering, "Um, that I had Clark Kent in my closet."
He looked at her in astonishment, and then a blush began to creep across his face as well.
"It's not what you think. I mean, well, maybe it is. It's just that there's been this long running joke that I had Clark Kent hidden away in my closet. And I was just teasing her… And, oh, I really wish I could hide somewhere right now."
He flashed her a smile, his blush deepening, and then he cleared his throat. "And that's the last thing that happened before you woke up to find me in your closet?"
"Yeah," she said, nodding. She looked down at the pen in her hand again. "Wait. I wrote that sentence down with this pen."
"Uh, you know — the, uh, closet sentence."
"I thought you said you typed it to your friend in that message?" he asked, looking confused.
"Yeah, I did. But I was playing with my new pen and I wrote that sentence down before I typed it out to her." She opened her notebook to the page she had written it on and showed it to him.
"Write something else with it."
"Huh?" Sue looked up from her notebook to see Clark staring at her intensely.
"Write something else with it. You know, 'wish' for something else."
"No. That's crazy. You don't think…" she broke off, realizing that he was serious. "This pen doesn't grant wishes. That's just…"
"Impossible?" he asked. "Just like it's impossible that you would wake up to find *me* in your closet?"
She nodded, speechless.
"Look, Sue…" There was her name again, making her feel all giddy. She tried to focus so she wouldn't miss what he had to say. "I can't stay here. I need to get back to my life — I need to get back to Lois. There's so much I need to tell her, apologize for. And if there's a chance that pen could do it, then I say we test it out."
Sue looked down at the pen she held in her hand. "All right," she said, not able to repress the disappointment she was feeling. Now that he was *really* here, there was so much she wanted to ask him. There were so many things she wanted to know. How he had really felt during certain periods of his relationship with Lois — like when Lois told him that she just wanted to be friends and then asked him to fetch Superman for her and finally ended up accepting Lex Luthor's proposal?
Part of Sue was sorry that Clark hadn't come from later in the series — maybe even from sometime in season four — then she could have asked him what he had been thinking during that whole "clone/amnesia arc." And there were other things too, things she wanted to know…
Her thoughts were interrupted when Clark took her hands in his. "Sue, please, you have to help me. Help me get back to Lois." She looked down at their joined hands and was amazed at the difference in size. His hands made hers look so small and delicate. His hands were so strong, and yet there was such gentleness in the way he held her hands in his.
She could only imagine how Lois felt when Clark held her with those hands, touched her with those hands. How it felt to have him cup her face before he kissed her.
Sue looked up into his dark eyes and smiled softly at him. "You want me to *test* the pen?" He nodded.
She knew she really shouldn't write what she was thinking about writing, but she just couldn't help herself. This would be her only chance, and it was the chance of a lifetime. She just had to know…
She had to know what it would feel like to be kissed by Clark.
She picked up her pen and put it to the paper, holding the notebook at such an angle that he couldn't see it. She wrote her sentence and then put the pen down, laying the notebook face down on her bed.
Clark reached out to pick up the notebook, but Sue reached out to stop him. "No."
"No?" he asked. His face was very close to hers and it caused her to swallow involuntarily.
"I mean, it might not come true if you see what I've written. You know how they always say that a wish won't come true if you tell someone what you wished for."
Clark's eyes seemed to darken a little, all of the sudden, and it made her stomach do a long, slow slide. "Is that what they say?"
She nodded at him.
"What else do they say?" he murmured softly, moving a little closer to her.
Her mind whirled. "They say that opportunity often knocks but if you're not listening then it's really just noise."
"Really," he said, his voice growing huskier. "I haven't heard that one before."
Sue's mouth felt suddenly dry. Clark's lips were just inches away from hers. Oh god. Maybe that pen really was magic. "That's because I just made it up," she said softly.
She watched his hand as it reached up to clutch her face tenderly. She felt the softness of his skin against hers, the warmth of his breath as he drew her in closer. She closed her eyes.
It seemed like an eternity passed in the span of time that it took his lips to find hers. When the warmth of his mouth encompassed her own, Sue felt a weakness slide through her. She swayed just slightly and his arm came around behind her to steady her while his other hand moved behind her head to deepen the kiss.
She had written about his lips, his tongue, the softness of his mouth, the gentleness of his exploration, and the pleasure of his passion. But every word she had ever written paled in comparison to what she was experiencing in this moment.
The rest of her life flashed in front of her eyes like a dream.
She could write him here. She could keep him here with her. All she had to do was put her pen to paper and she could make Clark Kent fall in love with her. It seemed that power had been gifted to her for some unfathomable reason. All she had to do was write it down and it would become reality.
But she couldn't… she wouldn't.
As much as part of her screamed that she was a fool to let this opportunity slip away, she couldn't live her life that way. She couldn't live her life as a lie. How would she explain things to her son? To the rest of her family? She couldn't just run away with Clark — live out the rest of her life in secret.
And she didn't want Clark if that was the only way she could have him. Oh, she wanted him. What woman wouldn't? Especially if they had him within their grasp like this. But Sue would always know the truth. Deep down, she would always know that his heart really belonged to another… to Lois. She would always know that she had forced him into this.
It reminded her in a creepy way of Lex Luthor. How Lex had always tried to force Lois to love him. Nuh-uh, not her, no way. This whole situation was beyond bizarre, and strange, and utterly impossible. But certain values remained the same, no matter what situation she found herself in.
She couldn't do this. And she had to stop it now, while she still could…
"Wait," the anguished whisper escaped from her lips.
She opened her eyes when Clark pulled away from her — his eyes were watching her anxiously. "What's wrong?"
"I can't let you do this."
"But I want this, Sue. Something deep inside me…"
"No you don't, Clark. I *made* you want this." She reached out and turned over her notebook, showing it to him.
He abruptly jerked away from her, his eyes flashing angrily.
"I'm sorry," she said before he could say anything. "I shouldn't have written that. I really didn't think the pen had that kind of power. Once I realized what was actually happening, I couldn't go through with it. I knew it wasn't fair… to anyone."
His eyes softened and he smiled gently at her, looking grateful. "Thank you, Sue. You seem like a very smart, very special woman who…"
"Smart… hmm, that's just what every woman wants to be told," Sue said, interrupting him.
"…looks great in a towel." His smile broadened. "You didn't let me finish."
Sue felt herself flush and then she tried to remember again exactly why she couldn't keep him… She looked away from him, back down at the pen. "Well, I guess we know now that the pen is what's responsible for your arrival here."
"The pen may have been the writing instrument, but I think the power came from you, Sue." He reached out and lifted her chin up so she was forced to look at him. "Will you help me? Help me find my way back?"
"Now? You want to go back right now?" Sue felt panicky. She knew he didn't belong here but she didn't want to let him go, not just yet. "Don't you want to find out who is behind this? Where this pen came from? Why this happened?"
Clark shook his head. "No. I just want to go back. I need to see Lois. I have so much that I need to tell her. Please?"
Oh… he was begging. That attorney, Constance Hunter, was right. He did look pathetic when he begged — pathetic and absolutely irresistible. Sue took a deep breath and then nodded at him. "Yeah. I think I can help you out." She got up from the bed and started to walk towards her bedroom door but then she turned back to look at him.
"Can I ask for one favor before I send you back?"
"What?" he asked, his voice a little wary.
"I never did get to see the suit. Which reminds me — are your powers still… gone?"
"Yeah. I don't really understand that, unless you've got some Kryptonite hidden in your house." He grinned.
"No," she held up her fingers in the Girl Scout sign. "No Kryptonite, I promise."
He chuckled. "Maybe it has something to do with this world not working the same way mine does or… maybe your world has its own special kind of magic." He gave her a knowing look. "But I think I can indulge your request anyway."
He reached up, moving his tie to the side, and gripped his shirt in his hands. He gave the shirt a sharp tug and the buttons popped, revealing a familiar blue suit adorned with a bright red and yellow S.
Sue approached him and tentatively reached out with one hand as if to touch him. "Can I…?
He nodded and she ran one hand along the slick fabric of the spandex. She used her index finger to trace the S crest.
"Wow," she said softly. She lowered her hand and reluctantly began to turn away.
Clark put a hand on her shoulder and turned her around to face him. Sue's breath caught in her chest as he drew her into a gentle embrace.
"Thank you," he whispered in her ear.
"For what?" she asked, surprised that her voice was still working.
"For reminding me how wonderful my life is, and how important Lois is to me. Thank you."
"Uh," she stammered. "You're welcome." He released her and she gave him a quick smile. "Okay, well… let's get you back to your world. Just let me go make a little more room in that closet for you and I'll be right back."
Sue woke up and looked around her bedroom. How long had she been asleep? She looked over at her alarm clock. Her son would be getting home from school in another hour or so.
What had happened? How could she have fallen asleep? Well, she was sick and the day's events had been pretty stressful.
But had she dreamed it all? Had any of it been real?
Sue got out of bed and walked down her hallway, stopping in front of the closet door. With a shaky hand, she reached out to open the door. She flung the door open, closing her eyes tightly.
When she didn't hear any response from the open closet in front of her, she cracked one eye open.
He was gone.
It had worked and he was gone. She wasn't sure why, but part of her wanted to just sit down and have a good cry.
But that wouldn't do any good. Maybe she should try to work out her frustration on a story. She hadn't had the energy or the motivation to work on anything earlier, but she couldn't use that as an excuse now.
Sue was headed back towards her bedroom when the doorbell rang.
She hesitated for just a moment, a little unnerved by the sound. The last time she'd heard that sound, she had received that *package*. Maybe she just wouldn't answer it this time. Maybe she'd just ignore it and go…
Ding Dong! DING DONG!
Or maybe not.
With a sigh and a grumble, she made her way to the front door and peeked out.
It was John, one of her co-workers.
What was he doing here? Sue smiled. Maybe he was here to check on her. At least she'd had a shower and had put on make-up and clean clothes — she felt presentable enough to receive a visitor.
She put on a pleasant smile and opened the door. "Hi, John. What brings you by?"
John smiled warmly at her. "Hi, Sue. Just came to check on you." He paused and gave her a sly grin. "You don't look that sick to me — you had everyone worried for nothing. I bet you're playing hooky."
"Who me? Never. If you could see all the Kleenex and the empty bottle of Nyquil in my bedroom, you'd change your tune." The mention of him seeing her bedroom seemed to bring a little color to his face. Sue hid a grin. "Thanks for checking on me, though. That was sweet."
He nodded. "Did you get a delivery today?"
The room seemed to spin just a little bit and Sue grabbed a hold of the doorframe to steady herself. Delivery? "Uh, yeah, one package came. Why?"
"What was it?" he asked hesitantly.
This wasn't like John. He wasn't usually nosy like this. What had gotten into him? "Just a pen."
His face fell a little bit. "So you did get it."
Sue was glad she was holding on to something, otherwise she might have lost her balance. *He* was the one who had sent the pen? "That was from you?" she asked incredulously.
"Yeah, who'd you think? You know how I love fountain pens and, well," he stammered, "I see you doodling in that notebook you carry around with you. I thought you might like to have a nice pen to write with. As sick as you'd been I thought it might make a good 'get well' gift."
Sue's mind reeled. The pen had been from John. It was just an ordinary ballpoint pen. It wasn't something magical at all. Her heart sank at the realization. She *had* dreamed it all.
Too much Nyquil.
Next time she was going to take some good old Robitussin and a couple of aspirin and call it a day.
Sue shook herself out of her thoughts when she realized that John had a somewhat disappointed look on his face.
'Get a grip,' she thought to herself. 'He probably thinks you don't like it.' Who wouldn't after the way she had acted and the scowl she could feel plastered on her face? She lifted the corners of her mouth into a genuine smile. "Thank you, John. It's a lovely pen, really. I told myself when I opened it that it just might become my new favorite. That was very thoughtful of you."
He smiled at her, the relief evident on his face. "I'm glad you like it. I'm sure you'll get some good use out of it."
He had no idea. The dream that pen had given her would be fodder enough for all her future stories.
But what about that card? She still thought that card had been strange. "I have to ask you, though, what did the card mean?"
"Yeah, the note-card you put in the box, with the pen."
John shook his head. "There wasn't a card in the box. In fact, that's the other reason I came over. I realized after I mailed the package that I had forgotten to put the card in with it." He handed her a small white envelope. "Weirdest thing. I swore I put the card in there, but I found it sitting on my kitchen counter."
Sue took it from him, trying to keep her fingers from shaking. She pulled out the card and read it to herself —
'To a great friend. Just wanted you to know you were missed. — John'
Had she dreamed up the other card, too? Wait a minute…
"John, I've only been gone from work for a few days." She gave him a lopsided smile. "You couldn't have missed me already."
"I always miss you when you're gone," he admittedly softly.
After a few seconds of awkward silence, John took a step back from her door. "I'd probably better be getting back. I told the boss I just had a quick errand to run and I'd be right back. Feel better, Sue. And call me if there's anything you need, okay?"
She nodded at him and then smiled. "Thanks, John."
He smiled back and then turned around and walked away.
Wow. She had no idea…
She looked back down at the card in her hand and smiled. What a day it had been. But what about that other card? Where had it come from?
She ran back upstairs to her bedroom and over to her bed. It was gone. The card wasn't anywhere to be seen. She threw the covers back, searched the floor, the bathroom, the closet, every last place she could think of, but it simply wasn't there.
It had just been another part of her dream.
Feeling confused and slightly melancholy, Sue sat down on her bed and picked up her notebook. She needed a little escape, an emotional release. She grabbed her new pen and shuffled through a few pages of her notebook to her current work in progress.
She had been having a little trouble with Clark's point of view in this story. It was, after all, a little difficult to follow his line of reasoning that he and Lois couldn't be together for her own good — to protect her. Sue wished she had thought to ask Clark about that in her dream. Maybe he could have helped her write a few lines of dialogue for him. They say that sometimes you can work out problems in your dreams…
Oh well, that dream was over and wasn't likely to come back — the good ones never did.
She turned a couple more pages to get to the brick wall she had stopped at — and then she froze, too shocked to move.
There was handwriting on the paper — handwriting that wasn't hers. She read the words out loud to herself to make sure they were real:
'I think it needs to go more like this, Sue. I made a few suggestions. I hope you don't mind. Please don't ever stop writing. I can't wait to see how this one, um, turns out. — Clark.'
All across the page there were small notes in the margins and above certain sentences — suggestions on his thoughts and feelings.
It was perfect! Exactly the parts she would have asked him about if he had been here…
…*If* he had been here?
He *had* been here! She hadn't dreamed it! But how? If the pen was from John, there was no way it was magical.
Something Clark had said was trying to come back to her…
<The pen may have been the writing instrument, but I think the power came from you, Sue.>
No. No way. But still, what could it have…
A sound from Sue's laptop interrupted her thoughts. It was her notification sound again — the one that told her someone was online. She turned the laptop to face her so she could see the screen.
It was DJ.
'Hi, Sue. Almost time for me to go home. Just wanted to check back on you. See if you were feeling any better.'
Sue sat back against her headboard and lifted the laptop into her lap. Part of her wanted to spill every little detail about what had happened, but DJ would never believe her — not in a million years. She'd think Sue really did belong in that 'institution' that they always teased each other about… not to mention the straightjacket.
'Hi, DJ. Yes, feeling a little better. It's amazing how good you feel after a hot shower.'
And a visit from Clark, she added mentally.
'Good. I was worried about you. And I've missed getting snippets from you, too. :-p Did you get any time to work on anything today?'
Sue looked over at her notebook, which was still open to the page with Clark's notes.
'Yeah, a little. How about you? Got any new stories up your sleeve?'
'As a matter of fact, I do. I've noticed there have been discussions on the boards about why there are so many Lois deathfics and not nearly as many Clark deathfics. It may get me killed, but I'm thinking I might try my hand at a Clark deathfic.'
An ache settled deep into the pit of Sue's stomach. No. She couldn't let DJ do that. Not now, not after everything she knew. Sue couldn't bear the thought of reading a story where DJ had killed Clark off. Besides, what if Sue wasn't the only one with the power to shape Clark's life? What if Clark lived the stories that other writers wrote, too?
'Nah. You don't want to write something like that. It's just not in you, DJ.' Sue watched her screen as she typed the silky smooth words on her keyboard. 'Write something waffy. You've written so much angst lately. I think you deserve to write a little waff.'
'Huh? <DJ reaches through the screen and feels Sue's forehead.> Are you sure you aren't still feeling ill, Sue? LOL.'
'I'm feeling fine. Trust me, write something waffy.'
'Waffy? Really? But what about what you told me before…'
'Forget it. I was wrong. Waffy. That's what people want to read.'
"Well, okay, if you say so… I didn't really want to write a Clark deathfic anyway. Whew! Let's me off the hook.'
Sue let out a sigh of relief. Clark was safe… for today at least… from DJ at least.
'I look forward to reading it.' Sue typed back, meaning every word.
'Thanks. Well, it's time for me to go. Get some rest tonight. Oh, and Sue…?'
'Don't forget to give "Clark in your closet" a kiss from me, okay? <snicker>'
Sue felt herself blush. 'Will do — but I'm not sharing. So you can just forget about it. <g>'
'<snort> Jojo will be so disappointed. She was really hoping you'd share that freckle with her. <g> Okay, I really am leaving now. Bye, Sue!'
Sue set her laptop down and picked her notepad back up. It was time to do some serious writing. She let herself enjoy a smirky little grin as she set to the task.
The Internet Cafe owner frowned when he saw the older gentlemen coming through the front door. The man had visited 'Cafe Java' every night for the past couple of weeks.
It was the same every night. The gentleman would come in, order a cup of hot green tea, pick a secluded spot at a corner table, and then proceed to eat up a good portion of bandwidth all night on one of the many computers he provided for his customer's use.
It wasn't the fact that the gentleman used the computer all night long — until closing time — that upset him. It was the fact that the gentleman never purchased any more than one cup of tea and never left any 'tips' for his use of the free Internet service.
But the owner never said anything. After all, there were worse customers to have — like that noisy group of teenagers that was always coming in, disturbing his other clientele. At least the older gentleman was quiet and kept to himself.
He wondered just briefly, though, what it was that the gentleman came here to research or read every night.
Sometime he would have to ask him.
Herbert George Wells took a careful sip of his hot tea while he waited for the computer to log him in to the Internet. Fascinating thing, this 'Internet.' No one back home would ever believe him if he told them about it.
But then again, they wouldn't believe the other treasures he had concealed in his pockets right now, either. Herb reached down and patted each of his coat pockets. They were both still there — his 'window' to go back home and an amazing little machine that controlled the thoughts of other people. What was it John Doe, err, Tempus, had called it? The 'Subliminator'? Yes, that was it.
Herb hadn't needed to use it this last time. He didn't really like to use it unless no other option presented itself.
In Sue's case, another option had been available. Herb reached into his inside coat pocket and pulled out a small note-card. He read the words on it to himself —
'To a good friend: May your writing never cease — may your joy always increase. If your heart is wanting and it lacks desire, if you find your circumstances are quite dire — you're but a pen-stroke from igniting a fire.'
It irked him just a little bit that she hadn't understood the card. He supposed it was the poetic way he had written it. But since he was a writer and she was a writer, he thought she might have understood.
He probably should have just written the thing in plain English. But…
'Never stop writing and you will always have joy. If you find you need something but don't know how to proceed… if you find yourself in a dilemma… you are just a moment away from writing something to get yourself out of trouble.'
…just didn't have the poetic flare and 'ooomph' to it that the words he had written possessed. He frowned. Oh well, he thought, it worked out — alls wells that ends wells. He stifled a chuckle at his little joke.
Now to check on the stories that she had posted, just to make sure…
After transporting Clark back to where he had belonged, Herb had jumped ahead into the future a few months so he could check back on his progress.
When he had originally found this particularly strange universe almost a year ago — it didn't have a Superman in it, if one could believe that — he had been surprised to find this group of individuals who wrote about a 'super' man that they had never met, from a world they had never been to.
What had surprised him even more, though, was when he had discovered that the stories they were writing came true, in yet another universe. That universe was even stranger. The Clark Kent from there lived out everything that was 'officially' written, drawn, or filmed about him.
Every story that Herb had read on this 'message board' had happened to that poor Clark. The man's life changed on an almost daily basis. Sometimes for the good… sometimes not.
It had eaten up a fairly substantial chunk of Wells' time recently — going around trying to undo and fix some of the things that had happened to Clark. The worst ones were when he died — or even worse, when Lois died. That was always the most traumatic.
Herb was getting really tired of 'fixing things' and putting things back the way they were supposed to be. Or at least the way *he* knew them to be. It had been hard enough to stay on top of Tempus — staying on top of all of these authors was proving to be much more difficult.
It had been just a few weeks ago that Wells had finally determined that a pre-emptive strike was in order. He had decided to start taking matters into his own hands.
Sue had been his first successful attempt without using the Subliminator. He was pleased with the results. Not only had he managed to secure a pleasant future for Clark in the capable hands of Sue, but from what he had later learned, she had managed to talk that MetroRhodes author into playing nice, as well. Imagine the nerve of that woman — thinking about writing a deathfic for Clark.
It would have taken him days — weeks probably — to have fixed that one. And he simply didn't have the time.
So that had worked out quite nicely. How did that saying go? He'd been able to bathe two cats in one tub?
The others, the ones before Sue, he had convinced to just leave the 'fandom' that they wrote for and move on to other pursuits. That had worked well enough, but Herb liked this outcome better. After all, without new stories, Clark Kent and Lois Lane wouldn't have much of a life, would they?
Now his new protege… Who was it again? Herb scrolled down through some of the posts until he recognized the name. Ah, yes. There he was. This one was sneaky. He wrote those dreadful endings that hit you out of nowhere. He would suck his readers in with the hope of a nice, happy story and then — wham — out of nowhere he would yank the rug, as it were, out from underneath them. The ones he wrote where everyone died in the end — those were the worst.
Ah, but Herb was going to do his darnedest to fix all that.
Well, let's see, he thought. The closet thing worked pretty well for Ms. Sue. What about this gentleman? Herb could try it again with him — of course using Lois instead of Clark… make that, Lois after her hairstyle change. This writer seemed to have a thing for Lois with her short hair.
Yes. Yes that just might work. But not tonight. Tonight Herb wanted a little relaxation time to read.
He pulled his pocket watch out of his pocket and looked at it appraisingly. Yes, he still had a few hours to spare.
With a contented smile, he lifted his cup of tea to his lips again and clicked on the folder marked 'fanfic.'
*Now for some acknowledgements <g>*
I wrote this fic initially as a get well present for Sue S. She had pneumonia and I knew she felt awful. So, first and foremost, I hope she got a kick out of this. The story was intended to be a little 'tongue-in-cheek' and I wasn't sure if anyone would enjoy it even half as much as I enjoyed writing it. So imagine my surprise at all the wonderful feedback you all gave me. That was an added bonus! Thank you.
A thank you goes out to Sue for being Sue <g> and thereby giving me such a wonderful character to work with (no matter how badly I may have screwed it up). I also want to thank James (d8a) — the story I'm beta reading for him right now gave me a little inspiration for a piece of my ending. And, of course, Tank — I hope you didn't mind me picking at you just a little as well <g>. Oh, and Jojo, too.
There was no beta reader on this particular story (and I'm sure you all saw the reason I need one) so if there were any glaring errors or things that gave you the 'twitches,' I apologize.
You may have thought that the story was funny, but believe me, I laughed myself silly at some of the things you FoLCs wrote — thank you for the fdk and the laughs.