By CarolM <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: October 2008
Summary: Lois is mad after her partner runs off again, but when Superman shows up at her apartment, can she put her annoyance aside and see the truth? A 2007 Holiday Ficathon Story.
This was a 2007 Holiday Ficathon story for Jessi. Her requests are at the bottom.
Thanks to Tricia for GEing this!
Bit of a warning: it is a little dark at the beginning for a holiday fic but...
That no good, bottom dwelling, scum sucking, son of a b...
Lois couldn't let herself complete that thought. Martha wasn't... one of those and so that -- her mind formed symbols that looked a little like the curse words one would find in a comic strip, but she mentally edited herself -- whatever he was, it wasn't a son of one of those.
But that didn't change how she felt at the moment.
She jammed her key in the lock, muttering under her breath when it stuck and jabbing at it again. It finally slid in and she jiggled it until it gave way and the bolt slid out of the door jamb and back into the door.
The second she opened the door she knew that something was slightly off kilter. She stopped, her hand still holding the keys, ready to use them as a weapon if the need arose.
She quickly realized that there was no threat. In the darkness, light from the street cast shadows in her living room. The curtains fluttered in the window she'd left open more often than not over the last 18 months.
A solitary figure sat on her couch, his head in his hands, shrouded by shadows. Instantly, she knew Superman was paying her a visit. She'd never found him like this before, but she knew. It had flashed through her mind more than once after she'd seen him on what had to have been a difficult rescue... where did he go when there was something he just couldn't do, someone he just couldn't save? Once she'd discovered how close he was to Clark, she figured he went to go see her erstwhile partner when he needed somewhere to go.
She knew things were really bad when he didn't even move as she entered the room.
She left the lights off certain he wouldn't want to be blinded by the sudden brightness.
She set her purse and briefcase on the kitchen counter and put the tea kettle on before returning to the living room.
"I'm making some tea."
She'd never heard a voice quite like this one. It wasn't full of despair or depression, but heavy with sadness and tinged with guilt and remorse, as though he was Atlas with the weight of the world on his back.
She watched as he gestured towards the open window. "I'm sorry for just coming in like this, but I didn't know where else to go."
"It's no problem. Surely, you should know that by now."
"I know, but still, it's not every day you come home to find that someone has flown in your window."
Lois contemplated asking him what was wrong, but intuitively she knew it was probably better to wait until he was ready. She thought about going and sitting next to him, but decided instead to give him his space.
She puttered around a bit, picking up her breakfast dishes -- cereal bowl and a glass -- and put them in the sink, put her purse on the hook, and pulled a couple of files out of her briefcase. She picked one up as though to look at it, but set it back down. She turned and leaned up against the counter, looking contemplatively at the superhero in her living room.
She noted abstractly that the cape seemed to have disappeared. She'd seen it tattered before after days doing rescue work at earthquakes and so on. It must be bad if the cape was gone all together.
But wait. She'd seen him remove it once or twice to wrap a rescuee in. Maybe that's what he'd done.
Whatever it was, it hadn't taken long. Not comparatively anyway. She'd seen Superman on television doing a ribbon cutting at lunch time at a Children's Hospital in Mexico City that the Superman Foundation had helped raise money for. She'd also seen an article that Clark had written about a 12 car pile-up on the freeway, but there hadn't been anything but minor injuries -- a miracle in and of itself.
So whatever it was, it had happened in a relatively short period of time.
Nothing major had happened in the world -- not that she was aware of anyway. No earthquakes or massive mudslides or volcanoes threatening entire villages. No exploding warehouses or planes full of innocents about to crash or taken over by hijackers. No meteors the size of Texas heading straight towards earth and guaranteeing annihilation of all mankind.
She watched as he leaned back on the couch. She'd never seen his hair like that. Even in the darkness, she could see it wasn't his regular slicked back look. Come to think of it -- it wasn't just the cape that was missing, it was the suit. Whatever he was wearing, it wasn't the skin tight spandex of the superhero.
Could he have a secret identity? The idea had been proposed more than once by media -- if it could be called that, the bottom feeding... whatevers like the National Tattler. She'd rejected the idea out of hand, but maybe she shouldn't have. And he'd come here, not as a superhero, but as the ordinary man.
There was no real way to be sure at this point. She'd have to wait until he decided to tell her or the light came on. She guessed it was possible that the suit was just tattered and that's why it didn't have the sleek look it normally did.
"The accident wasn't even that bad."
She stilled her internal musings and just listened.
"There was a little girl, about 3 years old, she'd managed to wiggle her way part way out of her car seat before the accident and so she wasn't properly restrained when it happened. There was something loose in the cabin of the minivan -- I'm not really sure what -- it could have been anything -- but it turned into a projectile when the accident happened. It hit her in the head causing a massive hemorrhage. She was dead before I got there. Intellectually, I know there was nothing I could have done. I can't be everywhere at once. And even when I'm *right there*, there's not always anything I can do, but this mom... Her husband died in a car accident last week. I wasn't fast enough then either. He was killed instantly when an 18 wheeler crossed the yellow line with a sleeping driver. I was able to save the driver, but her husband was crushed. She and the little girl had been following him home from somewhere and they saw the whole thing."
He hadn't moved while telling his story. He sat stone still on her couch. How was it, with mere words, she could make her feel his pain?
"Tonight, I wrapped her little girl in my cape, just like I had her husband last week and waited for the police and the coroner to come. The mom was fine -- or seemed to be. I don't normally stay after the police arrive, but I sort of hung around -- I'm still not really sure why. I think she continued to hope that her little girl was alive, regardless of what I'd told her, but once the paramedics arrived, she couldn't hold on to that hope any longer. She passed out."
He sighed. "The paramedics asked me to do a quick sweep of her to make sure she didn't have any other injuries, except for a few minor cuts and bruises. She didn't have any other injuries, but I did discover something else. She's pregnant. Probably no more than a month along. She didn't even know yet. I offered to take her to the hospital and the paramedics agreed that was probably the best plan, so I flew off with her. She came to right as we landed at the emergency room. She began flailing about, hitting me, blaming me for the deaths of her husband and daughter. As hard as I tried to make myself softer, she still hurt her hands trying to beat on me. I held her and let her blame me for a few minutes until a gurney arrived. The emergency room nurse asked me a few questions about her condition and I tried to be as quiet as I could when I told the nurse that this woman was pregnant but likely didn't know it yet, but she overheard me.
"She was hysterical. In all of the time I've been doing rescues and helping at disasters, I don't think I've ever heard anything like it. She was utterly... hopeless is so inadequate. It doesn't begin to describe it. She was anguished and full of despair and... Christmas is coming up and this year she has another little one on the way but the rest of her family has been snatched from her and there was nothing I could do about it, nothing I could have done to spare her pain. She blamed me for saving the truck driver last week -- if I hadn't flown him to the hospital, he probably wouldn't have made it. She blamed me for her daughter's death -- saying that normally her husband would have picked her daughter up from daycare later this evening so they wouldn't have been on the road at that point so by letting her husband die last week, I also killed her daughter.
"I know I didn't kill her husband or her daughter and I'm sure she'll realize that eventually but... for some reason it hit me hard tonight and I didn't know where else to go so I came here."
He moved his hands, finally, and clasped them in front of him, staring at them for long minutes. "The little girl reminded me of you. When I saw her last week she was full of spark, I could tell she was a handful -- probably stubborn and pig headed -- just like you and when I saw her tonight..."
The tea kettle whistled, interrupting his soliloquy.
Lois moved back towards the kitchen. "What kind of tea would you like?"
"Whatever you have is fine."
"I have some Oolong." Clark liked Oolong when he was upset; maybe Superman would, too.
"That would be nice."
Lois took two cups out of her cabinet put a tea bag in each of them. She poured the water in and headed back to the living room.
For the first time since she came home, she approached the despondent superhero. She held out the cup. He didn't even glance up as he took it from her.
He didn't hear her gasp.
She backed to the other couch and sat down as what she'd just seen began to sink in.
It wasn't Superman sitting on her couch.
It was Clark.
The thought that he did have a secret identity and that it was that of her best friend and partner hit her like a ton of bricks.
A million thoughts flitted through her mind in just a few nanoseconds, but as she watched him sip the tea, a million more pushed those thoughts aside.
She'd thought Superman could go to Clark when things got too bad, but he was Clark.
So who did he go to?
Martha and Jonathan were the obvious answers, but it was the middle of the night and she knew they went to bed early. Though she knew they'd be more than happy to disturb their sleep to help their son, he must not have wanted to bother them.
She realized that she'd known for a long time that Superman often blamed himself when he couldn't save someone, but had sort of written it off -- he was a superhero, surely his emotions were nearly as invulnerable as the rest of him, right? It must just be an intellectual exercise on his part -- how could he have been a little faster or a little smarter in how he approached a situation. She'd seen him happy and sad and even a little scared before he went off to destroy Nightfall, but for some reason, she'd thought his Kryptonian heritage would have made it more difficult for him to feel things like guilt -- that somehow the Kryptonians would have instilled in him that whatever he could do was enough and not to feel guilty over what he couldn't do.
But Clark... Clark was very human. Regardless of what she'd thought of Superman, she knew that Clark felt things very deeply.
A small smile pulled at the edges of her mouth.
No wonder he'd been able to keep up with her -- he was Superman. She knew no mere human would have been able to.
"Take me flying, Clark."
The words were out before she even realized.
He looked at her in horror, then back at himself then back at her. She could see it dawn in his eyes. He'd come to see her through the window, but he was wearing Clark's clothes and had Clark's hair -- the only thing missing was Clark's glasses.
He took another sip of the tea and then set it on the coffee table. He stood and she followed suit, moving parallel to him until they neared the window.
She turned to him and watched as he bent slightly and then she was in his arms, floating towards the window.
"Hold on tight. Since I'm not in the Suit, I'm going to have to go fast."
She nodded and tightened her grip around him, tucking her head against his neck.
She heard rather than felt a whoosh and then, somehow, knew they'd slowed down.
She relaxed her hold on him and pulled back slightly, watching him as he flew.
How could she have ever thought that his eyes looked like mud?
Somehow, part of her felt she should work herself into a frenzy. She'd been so mad, she'd almost called his mother names. But now that she knew why he'd deserted her, she couldn't bring herself to do it.
She was sure he'd been on more difficult rescues over the years, but for some reason this one had hit him particularly hard.
And he'd come to her. In his Clark clothes, with his Clark hair. Whether he'd done it consciously or not -- and she was betting on the not -- he'd come to her house knowing that it would reveal his secret to her.
She kept her arms wrapped around him, but she also turned slightly to enjoy the landscape slipping below her. She realized it was too dark to see much so she turned to the sky. The stars passed by in twinkling silence.
"Do you know which star is yours?"
The question surprised her and she could tell it surprised him as well.
He shook his head slowly. "No. I have no idea which one is the star of Krypton. For all I know, it exploded too. It was under a red sun. My father said the red sun had caused the core of Krypton to become unstable. It's possible that it was more than just the red sun -- that maybe the sun was dying as well as the planet."
"Your father." Lois said it slowly.
He nodded. "Jor-El. Jor of the house of El and Lara of the house of Ra were my Kryptonian parents. They put me in a spaceship when I was no more than a couple of months old and sent me to Earth, to Kansas in particular, where Jonathan and Martha Kent found me and adopted and raised me, loved me like I was their own flesh and blood even when the super weird stuff started happening."
"Super weird stuff?"
"Yeah, like starting fires with my eyes or falling off the ladder to the hay loft without breaking my back."
"Right. Weird stuff."
She noticed that they were descending. "Where are we?"
"Smallville. My parents will want to see you."
"In the middle of the night?"
Clark grinned for the first time that evening. "Mom told me that whenever I finally got around to telling you, I had to bring you here. No matter what time it was."
Martha knew that he was going to tell her at some point?
He lowered her to the ground and she wrapped her arms around his waist and felt him return her embrace, warming her against the cold Kansas night.
They stood there for what seemed like the longest time.
"Thank you, Lois," he said.
"For what?" she replied softly.
"For letting me talk, for letting me know without saying anything that you were there for me, for not yelling at me or hitting me or smacking me across the face when you realized it was me and not Superman. I didn't mean to come as Clark. I remember going home and taking a quick shower and I meant to put another suit on before I went to your house, but I must not have been paying enough attention. I've wanted to tell you for a long time and you have every right to be mad and ask lots of questions and even try to hurt me -- though without Kryptonite, it's really not that easy -- but tonight..." He sighed. "Tonight, I couldn't deal with all of that. This mother..." His voice broke. "She doesn't have any family left. Her parents died years ago and her in-laws aren't on speaking terms with her or with her husband before his death... she's literally all alone, except for the baby, and that's assuming that the accident doesn't cause a miscarriage."
She wondered what resources were out there for a mom like that. She resolved to look into it the next day -- to make sure she was taken care of, that she was plugged in somewhere -- with a grief counseling group, or a pregnancy center, or a church with a program for people like her who lost everything, especially around the holidays. Surely, she could take that small burden off Clark.
Not beating him up today was the least she could do.
"I know, Clark. I know that today's not the time for anger and recriminations." Her head continued to rest on his chest, his cheek on her head. "That's not to say that I won't have questions later and that I won't make you answer them and bring me all kinds of things from around the world, but tonight... tonight you needed me to listen, something I am capable of doing from time to time."
His arms tightened around just a little more. "You have no idea what it means to me, Lois. I can go to my parents if something is really bad, but I don't want to burden them with what life can be like in the big, bad world. I've never really had anyone I could turn to."
Lois opened her mouth, but was stopped as he continued to speak.
"You've helped more than you know without even trying. Defending Superman, telling me and everyone else that what I can do is enough. That I don't have to do everything, to save everyone, in order to be successful."
"It is enough."
They stood there for a few more minutes and suddenly were blinded by the porch light.
"Martha, it's the kids," they heard Jonathan call. "Why are you two still standing out there? Come on in."
Before long they were seated around the table, Clark filling glasses of buttermilk for each of them in seconds as Lois was greeted eagerly by Martha and Jonathan. She could tell they were anxiously waiting for the whole story.
Lois heard Martha gasp slightly as she finally got a good look at her son. "Clark, what is it?"
"A hard rescue, Mom." He took a sip and succinctly told his parents what had happened.
Lois noticed that he hadn't gone into nearly as much detail as he had in her living room. She reached out and covered one of his large hands with her own smaller one and squeezed gently. When he reached the end of the abbreviated version of events, she spoke.
"He showed up at my apartment in his Clark clothes, with his Clark hair but without Clark's glasses and the only way in was through the open window." A tear slipped down her cheek. "I'm so glad that he came. Not because I now know 'Superman's Supersecret' or that I would ever write it up or anything like that, but because even though he didn't mean to come as Clark, he wouldn't have let himself if he didn't trust me enough to know that this wasn't a time to be mad or anything like that. So that I could help him with this and truly understand what he's going through. I mean, I've talked to Superman before after difficult rescues and stuff, but he puts on such a brave front. Even though I knew it often affected him, I wondered if his Kryptonian heritage or upbringing made it easier to deal with the emotional side of things.
"Once I knew Superman was Clark -- or Clark was Superman..." She waved her free hand in the air to stop the comments about to come from the others sitting at the table with her. "Which one is right is irrelevant right now. What I mean is, once I knew Clark and Superman were the same person, I knew exactly how those rescues would affect him because I know Clark." She blinked rapidly to clear the tears from her eyes as the whole night began to catch up with her. "And I'm so glad I was able to be there for you."
She took a deep breath and smiled wryly. "Did any of that make sense?"
That broke the tension at the table and soft chuckles were heard all around. Clark wrapped an arm around her and kissed the side of her head. "Somehow, Lois, you've always made sense to me."
Martha smiled at her. "I'm so glad you know, Lois. For almost thirty years, I haven't had another woman I can really talk to about my son."
She could feel Clark groan. "Great. Are the baby pictures coming out now?"
Martha winked at her. "Only the one on the yellow towel."
Clark banged his head gently on the table. "Not that one."
"It's the least she can do after all the times you ran out on me with those stupid explanations. Remember the time you 'surprised' me by not getting me any frozen yogurt?" She gasped. "Oh, Martha! I am so sorry!"
"For what, dear?"
"For what I almost called you!"
"What in heaven's name are you talking about?"
"Clark left me in the middle of putting the final touches on our story -- I know why now, of course, but I didn't then -- and the whole way home I was coming up with these... creative names for him but as I was opening the door to my apartment, I ran out of creative and started to go with an old 'stand by'... 'Son of a...'" Her voice trailed off, but then she picked back up. "And I really don't think you are a... you know, but I was out of anything else and I stopped before I actually thought it."
She continued to stare at the table until she heard Martha laugh. "Oh, honey, it's no problem. Even if you had finished the thought, I know you wouldn't have actually meant it. My son can be a lunkhead sometimes and I've run out of pejorative terms for both him and Jonathan from time to time. We'll have to compare notes and see if we can come up with anything new."
"I could always call him a strange visitor from another planet," Lois muttered.
She could almost hear the grin in his voice. "And that strange visitor has superhearing, Lois."
She groaned. "Well... well..." It was late and her mind was starting to slow down. Instead of replying, she reached out, intending to take a sip of buttermilk but instead finishing off the glass.
She heard a chair scrape back from the table. She heard a whooshing sound and her glass disappeared. She looked up and saw Clark kiss his mom on the top of her head. "All cleaned up, Mom."
"Thanks, honey." She saw Martha reach up and pat Clark's cheek and then turn to look at her. "He's really nice to have around when it comes time to do chores."
"Except for milking cows. You can't rush that. "She saw Jonathan push back from the table. "Clark, I'm glad you finally told Lois whether you meant to or not. No matter what I've said in the past, it was time to bring someone else into this little circle of ours."
Lois stood. "We should let you two get back to sleep."
Martha hugged her close. "I'm so glad you came. Have Clark bring you for dinner this weekend."
"I will," she said as she hugged back.
Clark grasped her hand lightly as he gave his mom one more light kiss on the cheek and led her outside.
She stood in the snow waiting for him to scoop her up and fly off, but instead he tugged her in for another tight hug. Her arms wrapped themselves around his waist once more.
It was no wonder that she had always felt so safe in his embrace.
"Thank you again, Lois." His voice was husky -- unlike she'd ever heard it before.
She pulled back far enough to see his face. Unprepared for what she saw there, she gasped slightly.
Love. There was no other word for it. Without the glasses in the way, it was easy to see his feelings written in his eyes, to see the depth, the intensity of his feelings for her.
And in that moment, she wondered why she'd never realized it before.
Not just how much he loved her, but how much she loved him.
"I love you, Clark." The words surprised her as much as the request to go flying had earlier.
She could tell they surprised him too.
"I love you, Lois, I think I always have."
"I don't know why it's taken me this long to realize it, Clark, but I do. I love you. And this time... this time... I mean it when I say I'd love you if you had no powers at all. Clark, I know I hurt you when I said that to you as Superman, but if something happened and Superman disappeared tomorrow, if you had no powers at all for whatever reason, I would still love you. I would still want to spend my life with you." Her voice caught in her throat.
"Lois, you have no idea how much it means to me that you feel that way." He pulled her back in for a fierce hug. "All my life, all I've wanted is to be accepted for who I am, not for what I can do or worse, shunned or ridiculed because of what I am. For a year and a half, without knowing it, you helped me feel like I belonged."
She pulled back and grinned up at him. "I think I knew on some level because there's no way a mere human could have kept up with me."
He threw back his head and laughed -- a full, hearty laugh -- that stopped abruptly as he realized they were still in his parents' farmyard. "There was no way I could have kept up with you if I was a mere human." One hand reached up to cup her face and she knew it was coming.
Their first *real* kiss.
She closed her eyes and in the next few seconds she felt his lips on hers.
She thought nothing could be more perfect, more soul shattering, more... right than this.
It was even better than kissing Superman.
She had finally found her home. Wherever Clark was, that was where she wanted to be. This man that she loved -- the most powerful man on earth and the gentlest man she knew -- was absolutely essential to her well-being.
She pulled back breathlessly.
With the man she loved.
"We don't have to work tomorrow, Clark," she whispered.
"You're thinking about work?" A twinkle appeared in his eye. "I think you're going to have to give me some kissing tips then, because work was the absolute last thing on my mind."
She could feel her eyes twinkle back at him. "No, silly. Your kissing is just fine. But I realized we have all day tomorrow to practice. So..." She backed up and leapt lightly towards him, trusting him to catch her. "Take me home. I need a good night's sleep and I know you do, too. So, take me home and we'll get some rest and then spend all day tomorrow necking before you fly me back here for dinner."
She saw one eyebrow raise. "Necking?"
She purposefully put a puzzled look on her face. "Isn't that what you called it when you took Daisy Mae behind the Dairy Freeze?"
"Oh, Lois," he groaned. "You have no idea what a real date with me is like."
"You're right. So instead of coming here for dinner tomorrow night, we can spend the day necking and doing a couple of other things I have in mind." At his raised brow, she smacked his chest lightly. "None of that, Mr. Kent. There're a couple of things I want to research and you and your superspeed and other assorted gizmos can help me out and we can take necking breaks instead of coffee breaks. Then you'll leave mid-afternoon and come by in the evening and take me out on a proper date."
She felt them float off the ground. "Your wish is my command, milady."
"And don't you forget it, mister."
She heard his soft chuckle and realized they were nearing Metropolis. How had they arrived so quickly?
"Hold tight, Lois, I'm going to go in fast."
She tucked her head into his shoulder and the next thing she knew, she was in her own living room.
Clark set her down and cupped the side of her face and leaned down to brush her lips lightly. "Until tomorrow."
She nodded. "Until tomorrow."
He winked at her and then, in a gust of wind, disappeared.
"I love you, Clark Kent," she whispered as she stood at the window watching the stars.
She turned to head to her room and get ready for bed.
Tomorrow would be a good day.
Three things I want in my fic:
1. a kiss in the snow
2. a secret revealed
3. Smallville and/or Martha and Jonathan
Preferred season(s): S1, S2, S3
Three things I do not want in my fic:
1. an argument
3. Dan or Mayson