By Cape Fetish <email@example.com>
Submitted August 2008
Summary: Clark has a lot to reflect on after the events in the episode "That Old Gang of Mine."
He was tired. Possibly more so than he had ever been before.
Yet sleep eluded him, as real yet intangible as the lights and shadows that played across his bedroom ceiling whenever a car would pass on the streets below.
Even for someone with superpowers, the last few days had been exhausting. Now that he was settled back in his own apartment, his constant worry and severe lack of sleep from the last couple of days was starting to catch up with him.
Clark Kent had died, and yet he'd needed to find a way to keep on living. He thought he'd lost everything he had worked for his whole life -- his job, his friends, his entire identity. Worst of all, he had lost Lois. Yes, there was Superman, but Superman didn't spend stakeouts playing board games with Lois, he didn't bring her cups of coffee in the morning, or walk her home after a long day at work. It wasn't Superman that Lois bounced story ideas off, or ranted at when she was upset, and it wasn't Superman's apartment that she invited herself into at all hours of the night when she was scared, or lonely, or needed a friend.
It wasn't Superman who Lois had admitted her feelings for on the car ride home, and it wasn't Superman who had pretended to sleep through the confession. That was all Clark, and as much as it hurt him, he knew he had done the right thing.
When she had thrown herself into his arms, covered in cement from the latest attempt on her life, but crying for a completely different reason, the amount of pain his deception had caused became abundantly clear. He had spent the time after his supposed death worrying about himself, his secret, his loss, and he had spent far too little time worrying about the effect it would have on Lois.
He had let his best friend -- the woman that he loved -- think that he had died, and like the selfish jerk he was, had barely spared her well-being a thought.
Somewhere between saving her from the rapidly filling pit of cement and the ride back to his apartment, the gravity of what he had done finally hit him. His web of lies had caused her more pain than he could have imagined. What kind of friend would do that? How could he even claim to love her?
But he did love her -- with all his heart, he loved her -- and that was why he'd had to pretend to be sleeping. Though it killed him to remain silent while she lowered the barriers around herself -- the ones he had been fighting so hard to break down -- he understood that acting on it now would eventually destroy everything between them. If he allowed their romantic relationship to start under that pretext, she would never forgive him when he told her he was Superman. And he would never be able to forgive himself for letting that happen.
Finally abandoning his vain attempts at sleep, Clark paced to the window overlooking his balcony.
He had been waiting for this chance since the day they met, and nothing was going to ruin it. So, he would wait a little longer -- until the pain of losing him had faded, until they were both a little less vulnerable. Waiting, he could do.
Despite everything, below the guilt over his mistakes and the longing for what was just out of his reach, he also felt a spark of hope igniting in his heart. Maybe it wasn't quite the right time for them, but one day soon it would be, and he wouldn't be sleeping through it when it happened. One day, he wouldn't have to wait anymore.