By Melinda Rich
Summary: A story written to justify Clark's reasons for taking back his vow of love for Lois at the end of the episode "The House of Luthor."
We got to see "Barbarians at the Planet" and "House of Luthor" about 6 weeks ago down here in Australia. Needless to say, Suen and I were extremely annoyed about Clark's recant. We discussed the issue at length and were both disappointed that the writers had chosen a "quick-fix" to get the Lois and Clark relationship back to the status quo.
Anyway, after feeling annoyed about it for a while we started discussing possible reasons for Clark's recanting his feelings for Lois. The result is that I have written this story in an attempt to justify Clark's behaviour. I hope it does the trick.
I have to give full credit to Suen. Even though I wrote this it is based on our discussions … so thanks Suen! Suen also played editor and made sure that this made sense before I posted it. Great shades of Elvis!
Anyway, this is my first attempt at fanfic and I hope you all like it. Comments and *constructive* criticisms are welcome <g>. Feel free to distribute this to people not on the fanfic mailing list, so long as you *ask me first*.
Explaining the Recant
(or "Letting the Writers Off the Hook After They Did Something Really Stupid")
Clark trudged up the stairs to his apartment, fumbling his keys out of his pocket as he went. Once inside, he slipped off his jacket and tossed it absently onto the table. Usually he was quite a tidy person (surely his mother's influence), but today it just didn't seem worth taking the trouble. With a similar lack of precision, he kicked off his shoes and flung himself onto the couch, not bothering to fight gravity by floating.
He wasn't tired in the usual sense of the word, but he closed his eyes anyway. It was pleasant just to lie there and let the feeling of relaxation overtake him. Unfortunately, this calm was broken when he started to think. He had a big decision to make, and it would not be made any easier by putting it off.
The fiasco that was meant to be a wedding had happened only two short days ago, and the dust was still settling.
Clark was eternally grateful that Luthor had been brought down, and a wry smile flickered across his face as he recalled a recent Metropolis Star headline : "Fall of the House of Luthor". The smile disappeared when he thought of Lois.
Clark was starting to think that telling Lois how he felt about her had hindered his cause more than helped. His admission had opened a rift between them that seemed irreparable. At the time, he couldn't understand her behaviour. It hurt so much to have Lois reject him, and the idea that he would still be her best friend was absolutely no consolation. Then she had added insult to injury by asking him to contact Superman. Clark had done as she asked and turned up at her apartment later that night. He had the cape on, but there was no way he could be Superman; he was too angry and hurt as Clark. These feelings got the better of him and he had made several inappropriate remarks.
He winced as he recalled his comment about a "lead-lined robe". It had felt good to say it at the time, and it had felt even better to see Lois become visibly uncomfortable after he had said it. She tried to brush it aside, but he knew it had hit the mark. He had flown away in disgust after Lois' assertion that she would love him even if Superman was "an ordinary man living an ordinary life". Didn't she realise how hypocritical that sounded, considering what she had said that very morning?
Clark realised now how unfair he had been. The fact remained : Lois thinks Clark and Superman are two separate, unrelated people so from her point of view everything she had said and done was perfectly reasonable. Clark understood this on paper, but when it came to putting it into practice he had trouble. He always had difficulty maintaining the Superman persona around Lois, and he realised that she had every right to ask Superman how he felt - afterall, he had done nothing to discourage her in all their previous meetings.
Clark stood up and began to pace, hoping the rhythm would order his thoughts. He had to figure out a way of repairing his relationship with Lois, as Clark and as Superman.
He let his thoughts drift back to the brief moment after the break-up of the wedding, when he had held Lois in his arms in a powerful embrace. She had looked so lost and alone, and the minute he wrapped his arms around her, any hurt and anger that remained had been washed away and replaced with love and concern. He had wanted that moment to last forever; it was so rare that he got the opportunity to be close to Lois without the Superman disguise.
Sometimes, Clark wanted so much to come right out and tell Lois that he was Superman. However, he knew that things just weren't that simple.
For one, Clark was afraid of how Lois would react. He was sure that Lois would not respond well to being told that the best friend she knew as Clark Kent was Superman. He wasn't sure he wanted to risk their friendship by suddenly shifting the whole focus of their relationship. He'd done that only recently, and look where it had gotten him.
Assuming Lois took the news well, it might give him the chance to be as close to her as he wanted to be, but he would never know if it was Clark she wanted to be with, or Superman. He desperately wanted to avoid this situation, but Clark knew he had already made it difficult for himself. His attention to Lois as Superman had already cost Clark Kent …
"What am I saying! Clark and Superman are the same guy …me!", he said in exasperation.
Besides these worries, he had Lois' safety to think of. It just might be too dangerous to involve her in such a big secret. He couldn't live with himself if he caused Lois' life to be endangered.
He chuckled to himself as one other thought crossed his mind.
"She is also going to be extremely annoyed at not being able to write up the 'scoop of the century'."
He paced the length of the room once more and finally came to his conclusion. There was absolutely no way he could or would tell Lois that he was Superman.
"Okay, fine. I can't tell her. So what do I do?".
He returned to the couch and sat down dejectedly, letting his head fall into his hands. Things couldn't go on as they stood now. Lois only wanted Clark as a best friend, nothing more. It would hurt, but Clark knew that if that was all he could ever be to Lois, it would have to be enough. It would lack finesse, but he might somehow be able to get himself out of jail with regards to what he had revealed to Lois.
Clark's thoughts were interrupted by the insistent ringing of a phone.
"Not now!", he groaned, but eventually forced himself to answer it.
"Hello.", Clark said in his most composed tone.
"That you Clark?", answered the distinctive southern twang that was Perry White.
"Yes sir. Is there a problem?"
"Not really son. I just wanted to let you know that a few of the gang are going down to what's left of the Planet tomorrow morning. It's being demolished, so it will be our last opportunity to say goodbye."
Clark could sense the sorrow in Perry's voice, despite his attempts to hide it. Clark knew that however bad he felt about the loss of the Planet, Perry must feel many times worse. The Daily Planet had been a living, breathing part of Perry's life for thirty-five years, and it would be incredibly difficult for him to let go.
"I'll be there, sir."
Clark hesitated before adding, "Will Lois be there?"
"I think so Clark. I'm sure she wants to say goodbye with us. She has a lot of good memories wrapped up in that building. We all do."
"How is she?", Clark asked tentatively.
Clark caught Perry's brief chuckle as he said, "You know Lois. She's seems to be getting back to her old self pretty quickly."
"Seems" being the operative word, Clark thought to himself, but he let the comment pass.
"Well sir, I guess I'll see you tomorrow then."
They made hasty arrangements for the meeting tomorrow and Clark hung up. Stifling a yawn, Clark said out loud, "Looks like I get the opportunity to talk Lois sooner rather than later.".
With that not entirely pleasant thought in his mind, he headed off to bed.
The next morning was bright and sunny, and altogether inappropriate for saying their goodbyes. They all seemed uncomfortable, managing only to make small talk in the usual cliches.
Perry was lamenting the fact that Luthor had gotten his way, when he was interrupted by Franklin Stern. It appeared that Stern had bought the Daily Planet, and intended to return it to its former glory. As proof, he had the famous globe on the back of a truck. Clark could almost see Perry's chest swell with pride as the globe was ceremonially unveiled.
Perry began to discuss logistics with Stern, but Clark was no longer paying attention. Jimmy and Jack had wandered off, so he was left alone with Lois.
She stood alone at the front of the building, her beauty in sharp contrast to the desolation behind her. Clark's heart pounded when she turned to look shyly at him, but she seemed to lose her resolve and she quickly turned away. He could not let the moment pass.
"I've never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life." It was a bold statement, but he rationalised that it appeared ambiguous enough.
Lois caught it's meaning and turned to walk towards him.
"You never gave up. On the Planet … on your friends
Clark decided to be honest for as long as possible. There was no point in compounding the lie he knew he must later give her.
"I couldn't. You've just named probably everything in this world that's precious to me.", he said, barely above a whisper.
Lois stepped towards him.
"I don't think I have ever, will ever meet anyone quite like you.", she said, a new and hopeful light shining in her eyes.
It was the clearest signal Lois had ever given him, and he looked at her longingly as a thousand different thoughts and feelings raced through his mind. It was clear that Lois felt the same way he did. For an instant, he contemplated sweeping her into his arms … but he knew that it was not the right time. Whether or not she felt the same way he did, he knew that the complicating factor, Superman, ruled out a deeper relationship for now. He finally admitted to himself that no matter how much he loved Lois, he wasn't ready to live with the responsibility that came with it. If they did get together, he wanted to share everything with her. He had already decided that at this stage he couldn't tell her what she was getting into …. He steeled himself, managing to push aside the feelings that her proximity stirred in him.
They both began to speak at once.
Lois managed to get the first words in, "No, let me go first-".
He stopped her before she had the chance to go any further. "No, not this time."
He mentally took a deep breath and continued, "Lois, I'm sorry, about a lot of things. I wanted to bring Luthor down but I never wanted to hurt you. I shouldn't have said anything about the way I felt towards you … it put you in an incredibly awkward position … "
"No, Clark, I am really-"
Here came the lie. It went against the grain and he hated himself for it but it had to be done. Clark crossed his fingers behind his back. It was childish he knew, but it made him feel better anyway. He plunged on.
"No, the truth of the matter is Lois, it wasn't true, I'm not in love with you, I-"
"You're not?" Lois tried to hide it, but the hurt and disappointment in her voice were obvious.
"I would have said anything to stop you from marrying Luthor." Clark was somewhat consoled by the fact that this was at least partly true. He kept his fingers crossed anyway.
Lois seemed to recover from her confusion and said, "Oh … well, if that's how you feel-"
Clark moved quickly to salvage what he could. "I want the same thing you want, for us to be friends, partners … forever."
Lois echoed his sentiment, "Forever.", and smiled a bittersweet smile.
The emotion hung in the air and Clark looked into her eyes, hoping like hell that Lois was believing what he said. He was sure it must be obvious that he was lying.
Clark finally broke the silence. "What did you want to say?"
Lois' voice wavered slightly as she said, "Oh nothing … yeah, what you said..I'm just that, sort of … ".
The moment was broken when Clark picked up a faint cry for help coming from several blocks away. For once, he was glad he had a reason to leave.
"Ah, could you excuse me for a second Lois, can we continue this later … I have to go …". It came out in a bit of jumble but it got the job done. She nodded as he raced off.
In barely a second, he was flying overhead, off to the rescue yet again.
The rescue had been somewhat routine. Superman had arrived in time to prevent a mugger from attacking a woman for her purse. The mugger had been safely delivered to Inspector Henderson, and now Clark was out flying over Metropolis.
Lois' behaviour had surprised him. The last thing he expected was to have her want to admit that she felt the same way about him as he felt about her. It had made recanting even more difficult than he thought it would be, but he was sure he had done the right thing.
Some part of him still wanted to fly to Lois right now and tell her the whole truth …. wait a second.
He pulled up suddenly as the inspiration struck. He couldn't tell her, but maybe he didn't have to. It might just work out if she figured things out for herself …
"Nahhh. She'll never figure it out.", he muttered under his breath as he floated high above the city. He was the first to admit that Lois was probably the best investigative reporter he had ever met, but she had a real blindspot when it came to Superman.
She might just need me to point her in the right direction, he thought to himself, barely containing a smile. It would require some subtlety, but if he didn't try so hard to maintain the Superman persona around her …
His smile broadened into a full blown grin, and he resumed his patrol over the city.
Things might just work out afterall.