By C_A (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Submitted January 2007
Summary: "Some things just don't happen the way you expect them to, and some things you don't expect to happen at all." A "Lois & Clark" vignette inspired by "Superman Returns."
Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me and I'm not making any money from this. I beg you not to sue.
Growing up, Lois Lane always wanted one thing: to be a reporter. She remembers one day — she must have been about six at the time — when her mother took her downtown for Christmas shopping. This was before her parents' marriage began to fall apart, or at least before they began to acknowledge that it had. Ellen — because that was just the way she was — was in a hurry, dragging young Lois from one store to the next, and Lois felt bored, felt tired, felt close to tears at one point, because her mother just wouldn't *listen* when Lois said she needed to use the bathroom.
But then, suddenly, Lois saw the tower, rising up in front of her like a giant wall. She just stopped dead in her tracks, in the middle of the sidewalk (there were angry grunts and comments from other passers-by who, in the same kind of hurry as her mother, were frustrated by the antics of the child), and let her gaze travel upwards, all the way to the top of the building. And in front of her, just above the entrance, hung the gray metal globe with neon- blue lettering emblazoned across it: The Daily Planet.
The doors turned and people poured out, eager, in a hurry — but a different kind. Not in a hurry to get Christmas shopping done, but in a hurry to go and see, to experience, to note, to report.
In awe, Lois stood and stared. It was the first time she saw the tower, saw the people who inhabited it, really saw it, and felt it call to her. *This* was where she wanted to be: among them, with them, in a hurry. Ready to see and to tell. A reporter. *This* and nothing else.
As her mother impatiently dragged her away, Lois' eyes remained fixed on the globe, and thus it began.
Forty-five years later, Lois Lane stands in the middle of the Daily Planet newsroom and lets her gaze travel across the faces of the people who work there. The faces have changed, but the purpose has remained the same. They are here to tell the world of the things they have seen. Sometimes they do so in an especially noteworthy fashion, garnering awards, and those are the times that they are celebrated by their colleagues. That is why they are here today, drinking champagne, celebrating Bernice Wilder, who just won the Pulitzer for a series of articles on political corruption.
Lois smiles — a sad, wistful smile — and fades into the background, slinking back into her office. It says "Lois Lane, Editor-in-Chief" on the glass door. She closes it softly and puts down the champagne glass on her desk, where it stands, forgotten.
She remembers: since she became a reporter, the Pulitzer was her goal. Kerths were great, but the Pulitzer — the Pulitzer was her Holy Grail. It should have been an event worth celebrating, but some things just don't happen the way you expect them to, and some things you don't expect to happen at all.
She won the award for an editorial entitled "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman."
She was thirty-four at the time.
The by-line read "Lois Lane Kent."
It is six-thirty p.m. Lois Lane looks up when there is a knock at her office door. A young woman sticks her head in. Lois has asked not to be interrupted — no phone calls — and Jessie is taking them for her. 'Emergencies only,' Lois instructed her.
"Tom just called." Tom is the security guard on duty tonight. He started at the Planet the summer of 1995 and has been with them for a quarter of a century, now. "He says there's someone here to see you. Doesn't have an appointment."
Lois sighs, rolls her eyes. "Which line?"
Jessie holds up her index finger. "Line one."
Lois picks up the receiver and mouths, "Thank you."
Jessie nods, smiles, exits. Lois leans back in her chair and says, "Tom? It's Lois Lane."
"Ms. Lane, sorry to bother you. There's a fellow down here, says he needs to see you. I told your assistant that he doesn't have an appointment, and you know that we can't let anyone enter the building without an appointment."
"Then send him away."
There is a pause at the other end of the line. Finally, Tom speaks. "He says his name's Clark Kent, ma'am."
She didn't think it would be like this. In fact, she didn't expect to see him again, truth be told. She gave up: not voluntarily, but because time does not just heal, it destroys hope. Slowly gnaws away at it until you wake up one day and realize it's gone.
As she stands with him on the roof of the Daily Planet building, Lois feels regret and shame for having given up on him. Obviously, he never gave up on her.
Clark's back is turned to her, his hands gripping the railing as he looks out across the city of Metropolis. His hair is short and streaked with gray. He's still as handsome as he's ever been.
Lois doesn't know what to say, what to tell him. She is a reporter, a writer, and she is lost for words. What can she say? Is there anything, anything at all, that would do justice to this moment? To the twenty-five years that lie between now and the last time she saw him? Lois doubts it.
"I lost it," he says finally, breaking the silence. He doesn't turn to look at her as he speaks.
"Your ring." His voice breaks on the last word, goes soft.
Lois shuts her eyes. *This* is what he's worried about? A *ring*? "It's just a piece of metal, Clark," she tells him. "It's—"
"I told you I'd keep it safe, and I didn't."
Lois takes a step toward him, reaches out. His back, still strong, his shoulders, still broad — she wants to touch him, but doesn't. She pulls back, wondering if there is any way back to him. To them. After twenty-five years. My God.
"Forget it, Clark," she tells him insistently. "*You're* back. Do you honestly think I care about the ring?"
Finally, he turns. He looks at her and offers a soft smile. Thank goodness. Has he really been beating himself up over this?
"I—" he begins, stops. Tries again: "It's changed," he says. "The tower. The globe."
He's talking about the Planet building, she realizes. Yes, she thinks. Of course he would notice. And she might tell him, will *have* to tell him lest he find out on his own, why that is. She will tell him about that long-ago day in October, that clear, blue autumn morning without end, when the tower, *her* tower, crumbled to its death, hit by a deadly explosion. Will tell him that Perry died that day, that Jimmy survived because he couldn't get a cab that morning, that she was buried underneath the rubble for seven hours before they pulled her out and that she spent eight weeks in the hospital, and many months in rehab afterwards to relearn how to walk.
She will tell him all that, but not now.
"Yes," she says instead.
"I like the new globe," he tells her, referring to the giant golden sphere behind them. "You can see it from across the city."
Lois smiles softly. They wanted it to be a beacon, a symbol, a silent statement, saying: "You have not broken us." They wanted the globe to be visible from across the city. From across the world.
She remembers those long days of the aftermath and how she wished he was there. How everyone wished he was there. And knowing that he wasn't, couldn't be, wouldn't be — perhaps never again. She remembers the newspaper headlines crying out in despair for the hero, asking how he could leave them when it was clear how much he was needed.
And Lois remembers how she sat in her hospital bed, looking out the window, and reached for her laptop.
She wrote about grief and forgiveness — grief over losing him, losing the Planet and their innocence. Wrote about forgiving him for leaving. About forgiving those that had attacked them, because that was what he would have done. She wrote about strength and trust — their own, in themselves. She wrote that what he stood for was more than what they'd seen in him.
Her editorial culminated in the words:
"The world, and Metropolis, does not need Superman, because we have each other. We turn to each other for comfort and hope. We hold open doors, we smile at strangers in passing, we carry shopping bags, we donate money, we donate blood, and we will rebuild what we have lost.
"We must not lament Superman's absence; we must see it as an opportunity. His leaving has not left us broken. It has made us stronger. In the end, we must realize that his ideals, his hope, and his strength live inside of us. It is our duty to hold onto his legacy, embrace it, and move on.
"We will rebuild. We will recover.
"Without him, but never alone."
Lois remembers those words as clearly as if she wrote them yesterday. At the time, she knew it was what Clark would have said. On the day he left he urged them to be heroes and they have been.
She will tell him all that, but not now.
Instead, she moves to his side, grips the railing, and looks out across the city. *Their* city. The one he left so long ago and has returned to now. He has come home.
And while the world, and Metropolis, may not need him, she does.
He looks into her eyes, his own shining brightly, and asks, "Do you still love me?"
Lois looks down at the railing, at their fingers wrapped around the bar, not quite touching, and reaches out to cover his hand with her own. She grips it tightly, and raises her eyes to his once more.
As the sun sets on the horizon, and its rays bounce of the Daily Planet globe, flooding the rooftop with golden light, she tells him, as she did then,
"Till the end."