By Andrea Dunham (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: After Clark gave a flimsy excuse to run off and save someone as Superman, Lois was involved in a serious car wreck. Clark doesn't know if she'll pull through, and he blames himself for not being there. A story that would have occurred instead of "Whine Whine Whine" in the Lois & Clark universe.
If following the show's continuity, this story would have occurred in place of Whine, whine, whine'. Not that I didn't love it, because I did, but I wrote this first, and the two really would not exist in the same timeline. No mention of Dan is made because in my little universe Lois has already dumped him. The main characters are the property of Warner Bros. and DC comics. No copyright infringement is meant through their use. All ideas, on the other hand, are mine, mine, alllll mine! Please send comments, etc. to me.
It had finally happened. Clark left Lois to change into Superman once too often. He'd known how angry she'd be, but he'd had no idea that while he was off stopping an armed robbery, Lois would be placed in a danger that even he couldn't return quickly enough to rescue her from. Now he stood as Clark, as helpless as those around him while an ambulance pulled away from the wreckage of Lois' jeep. The police officers attempting to clear the scene did not even notice that one of the on-lookers had appeared from a blur of blue only seconds earlier, and disappeared in the same way.
Clark beat the ambulance to the hospital and stood waiting in the lobby of the ER. A few short minutes later he saw her wheeled in and instantly surrounded by nurses and doctors shouting orders. Her face was covered in blood from a gash in her forehead. Her blouse, too, was spattered with blood from the cuts on her arms and chest which had been caused by the shattering windshield as her car collided with the guardrail.
Clark ran to her and grabbed hold of one of her hands.
"Lois! It's Clark. Can you hear me?"
"Sir, sir, you're going to have to back off and let us work," one of the doctors attempted to pull Clark away from Lois.
He found this to be an impossible task, but then Clark allowed himself to be led away from Lois' side. He stood aside as Lois was pushed into one of the examining rooms, and then stood outside the door. With his x-ray vision he could see as the doctors and nurses shoved needles and tubes into Lois' body. He could see her collapsed left lung being reinflated. He watched them cut into her abdomen and remove her damaged spleen. Then he watched them stitch up her forehead. The doctor took tiny, careful stitches; he knew who he was working on.
Clark couldn't bear to watch them work on her any longer, while he stood by so useless. He wandered into the waiting room and, after a harried call to Perry, sat down and attempted to watch the banal talk show that was playing on the television. His subconscious was drifting though, and he kept hearing what was going on in the room next to him. His hands gripped the arms of the chair, crushing them, and when he heard her flatline he bolted to the door in the blink of an eye. He watched helplessly as a nurse rolled out the crash cart. The horrible alarm of the machine seemed to fill Clark's brain and he found himself unable to stand it. He *couldn't* stand by and watch her die. He ran out of the hospital and burst into the sky, aiming for Smallville, Kansas.
When he landed on his parents' front porch in his everyday clothes Martha knew that something was wrong.
"Clark! What on Earth are you doing here? What made you come so suddenly?"
Just looking at Clark's face she knew that something awful involving Lois had happened. He never looked that worried about anyone else.
"Mom, Lois was in a car accident. She's, she's dying right now!" Clark's face crumpled as tears flowed out of his eyes.
"No, not Lois," Martha gasped. "Jonathan, come here," she called as she led Clark to the sofa. He seemed as weak and hurt as any human man would be in a similar situation.
Martha managed to get Clark to tell more about what exactly had happened, and she repeated it to Jonathan when he appeared. Clark looked up at his parents.
"It's all my fault. If I hadn't left her to go do my Superman act she never would have been driving herself home alone. She never would have had the accident."
"Clark, you can't blame yourself. You can't be everywhere at once. If it hadn't happened today it might have happened tomorrow or next week."
"No, Clark, your mother's right. As special as you are, you can't be everywhere for everyone."
Clark just looked at his father's face and then covered his own with his hands as he leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees.
"Clark, I don't know if I should ask this, but are you sure that Lois didn't pull through? You left before you saw them stop work on her."
He looked up, "No, no, I'm not sure."
"Son, you have to go back," Jonathan said, "You have to know for sure and you have to be there for her, no matter what has happened."
Clark nodded. His father was right. He gathered himself together and his parents stood back as he spun into his Superman suit. His mother went forward to give him a supportive hug and he kissed her on the cheek and flew off towards Metropolis.
When he arrived at the hospital he sprinted to the ER and saw that Lois' room was empty.
"Nurse," he said, almost afraid to ask, "what happened to Ms Lane?"
If she was surprised by the appearance of Superman in her ER she contained her emotions very well.
"Ms Lane was moved up to the fifth floor, room 501."
Clark could barely contain his emotions.
"How is she?"
"I'm not sure. I didn't see her chart, but I'm sure you can go up and see her and speak to her doctor."
Clark left with a nod and a thank you. He waited impatiently for the elevator and took it to the fifth floor, and then walked nervously to Lois' room. He was unsure of what he'd find there. He opened the door slowly and stepped into the dimly lit room. Lois lay like a broken angel on the bed, pale face surrounded by the dark halo of her silken hair. Numerous tubes threaded their way into her arms, mouth and nose, and the steady beep of the heart monitor accompanied the whoosh of the ventilator.
He walked over to the bed and lightly took hold of her right hand, gently stroking it. The relief at seeing her still alive, even in such an injured state, was so incredible that he couldn't even open his mouth to whisper her name. Tears rolled down his cheeks and as he bent to kiss the top of her head they were lost in her hair. There was a chair next to the bed and he sat down, never taking his hand from hers or his eyes from her face.
When a nurse came in to check on Lois she was considerably more surprised than the ER nurse had been. It was only then that Clark realized that he had never changed out of the suit. He excused himself, telling the nurse to take good care of Lois, and went to change and call his parents.
Martha breathed an audible sigh of relief.
"Thank goodness!" she said. "I just knew that she had to pull through. You two were meant for each other."
"Mom—"Clark began in practiced protest of his mother's matchmaking, but then he stopped. "Yeah Mom, I think you might be right," he said softly.
Clark called Perry next. He had already heard that Lois was expected to make a full recovery, but he was glad to hear that Clark was all right and that he was with her.
Clark spent the night next to Lois' bed, even after Perry stopped by and nearly ordered him to get some rest. Perry ended up giving Clark the rest of the week off when he saw that nothing would move him from Lois' side.
Late the next afternoon Lois' eyes finally fluttered open and settled on Clark's face. They were questioning and confused, especially after she tried to speak and found herself unable to due to the ventilator.
"It's OK, Lois. You're going to be just fine."
Clark squeezed her hand and quickly called a nurse.
A few hours later, after several doctors and innumerable tests, Clark was again allowed into Lois' room. The tubes to her nose and mouth had been removed. She looked tired and bruised, but her dark eyes contained some of their old sparkle.
"How do you feel?" Clark asked timidly. He knew that it was a stupid question, but he suddenly felt nervous around her.
"Not great, but alive. The doctors said that you were with me the whole time, but somehow I already knew that," she said as she looked up at him.
Clark couldn't contain himself any longer.
"Thank God you're all right," he said, "I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to you."
Lois' eyes glowed as Clark spoke, and when he went to kiss her she responded in kind despite her exhaustion.
"Lois, I will never run out on you again," Clark said, and he meant it with all his heart. No matter what, he intended to put her first in his life.
Lois was nearly crying and Clark stroked her cheek.
"You should get some rest. I'll stay with you, don't worry."
Lois closed her eyes slowly and drifted off to sleep while Clark sat next to her and kept his word.
The next week passed with a sort of regularity despite the extenuating circumstances which enveloped it. Lois had insisted that Clark go home to sleep after that first night, and he had finally agreed, even if only to keep her from getting herself upset. When he had returned the next morning Lois had insisted that he get to work and finish their story. Clark's protestations that Perry had given him the week off did no good.
"That was before I started to recover. If I'm not going to die then I don't want my reputation going downhill. You go finish our story. You're muscles will atrophy sitting here all day, and I'll sleep the day away anyway with all the drugs they're giving me."
So Clark had again acquiesced to her wishes and after that all the days followed in a pattern. He stopped off at the hospital each morning, again at lunch, and again after work, when he read to Lois or they watched TV and talked until she fell asleep. He still found time to patrol at night, and he infrequently disappeared from work. However, when he was with Lois he used his powers to effectively block out everything but her.
When Saturday finally arrived Lois was anxious to leave the hospital. Her doctors had said that she would be released if she was still improving at that time. She harassed the doctor on call all morning until he finally signed her release papers, while Clark sat back and watched her in action.
Clark had brought her some clothes from her apartment, sweat pants and an oversized sweatshirt.
"I wanted you to be comfortable," he said as he lay them on her bed.
"Thank you, Clark. They're perfect," she said. "Could you ask the nurse to come in and help me change?"
"Help you? Are you sure you're ready to leave?"
"Oh, of course. I'm just a little sore. I'm afraid I'll have trouble with my broken rib and the shirt."
"Or you could help me, Clark," Lois continued, shyly.
Clark nearly blushed.
"I-I don't know. Maybe—" but Lois had already turned her back to him.
"Here, untie this thing," she said.
Clark gingerly untied the strings securing her hospital gown., and she let it slip to the floor.
"OK," she said without turning around, "now get my sweatshirt."
He got it from the bed and she lifted her arms. Very gently Clark eased her hands into the armholes and slid it over her head, constantly aware of the warmth of her bare skin so close to his touch. Even the line of her naked back sent a shiver up his spine.
"All right," Lois said as she turned around, "I think I can manage the pants."
Her face was flushed and she sat down on the bed.
"Are you OK, Lois?"
"I'm fine," she answered, her eyes glowing.
A few minutes later she had finished dressing and gathered up her few possessions. Clark helped her and arranged to have all of her flowers sent to her apartment. They took a taxi to her apartment and Clark ran around the car to open her door and help her out. He would have carried her all the way up to her door if he hadn't thought she would hit him. Instead he only offered her his arm which she willingly took.
"It's good to be home," Lois said as she stepped into her apartment.
"It's good to know you're home," Clark said with only the slightest regret at the corniness of the phrase.
He turned to Lois and kissed her gently on the cheek, "You should probably rest, so I won't stay."
"Oh," Lois said in a small voice.
"Unless you want me to," Clark said quickly.
Lois looked up at him.
"I know it's stupid, Clark, but for some reason I just don't want to be alone, and you always make me feel so safe. As safe as Superman."
Clark winced slightly at that name, and it did not go unnoticed.
"I'm sorry. I guess you don't like me talking about him, huh?"
"It's not that, Lois, it's just, it's just very complex."
"Well Clark, if you're worried about the competition or something, you shouldn't be. I've been thinking a lot this past week, and I've decided a few things," she said as she sat down on the couch.
Clark sat next to her.
"Like what, Lois?"
"Like about you and me. I mean we've obviously been getting closer. We've been dating and things have been going pretty well, haven't they?"
"Yes, I mean, of course they have."
"So, things have been good but I know that there are still things you're keeping from me. Things you don't want to talk about, like why you're always running off, for example. It's been really hard to deal with the fact that now that I'm finally trusting someone, he's not entirely trusting me."
"Hold on, I'm not done. I was going to say that it hasn't been easy, but I've accepted it. I've been the same way myself sometimes, and I love you enough to wait until you feel comfortable trusting me. Maybe that's all I really needed to say. I love you."
Clark was stunned.
"Lois, I—" he faltered and Lois suddenly became flustered.
"Oh, I, I'm sorry. Maybe you *don't* feel the same way. I just thought…"
"No Lois, I do love you, more than anything, and I feel badly about keeping things from you. You deserve better."
"Well I'm hoping that it will come with time, and in the meanwhile you do so much else for me. You sat and read with me. You watched me sleep for goodness' sake! Superman wasn't there suffering through Full House' when nothing else was on—you were. You're always there for me, not just when I need rescuing. You're my best friend," she finished, taking his hand in hers.
"Lois, you have to stop," Clark said as he stood up.
"Why? What is it?"
"Lois, I have to tell you—"
"Clark, you don't have to if you're not ready."
"No. I knew that I had to tell you someday soon. Especially after what happened. I might as well tell you now."
He took a deep breath.
"Lois, I want you to stay calm. You're still recuperating."
She was beginning to get nervous.
"Clark, just tell me. Are you sick? Are you—dying?" tears were beginning to form.
"No, Lois. In fact, I don't know when or if I'll ever die," he said as he unbuttoned his shirt.
Lois could see the "S' shield peeking through and covered her mouth, gasping, as he took off his glasses.
"You're him!" she whispered.
"This is what you've been keeping from me. This is what I've been too blind to see on my own."
"It's nothing against you, Lois. Only my parents know. I trust you more than anyone, but I wasn't sure how you'd take it. I didn't tell you in the beginning because, well, I'd just met you and I didn't know you very well and I'd just created my other persona and I didn't even know how *I* was going to deal with everything," Clark knew that he was babbling almost as badly as Lois, while she, on the other hand, was sitting, mute, on the sofa.
"Lois? What are you thinking? Are you OK? Maybe I should go," he said, putting his glasses back on.
"No Clark, stay." she said softly. "I'm not going to say I'm not mad, and a little sad that you didn't trust me earlier."
"You have no idea how much I've wanted to tell you."
"Shh," she held a finger up to his mouth. "Let me finish, farmboy. I'm mad, but what I said earlier is still true. I wanted you to be able to trust me and I'm glad you do now. I can forgive you and I can even understand how you must have felt. How you must still feel—constantly torn between your own life and saving other people. I still love you."
Her eyes were glowing and Clark leaned over to kiss her, his hand slipping around her shoulders to support her. She twined her fingers behind his neck and he gently stroked her back. They embraced that way for several long minutes before Lois needed to come up for air.
"Clark, you said in the hospital that you'd never run out on me again."
"And I meant it."
"No, I can't hold you to that. You're special, important. What you can do belongs to everyone, but you, Clark, you belong to me," she leaned in again and kissed him lightly.
"You're absolutely right, Lois. I am all yours, and I promise, no more lame excuses."
"No more cheese of the month club?"
"No more video returns?" she said smiling.
"No Lois, no nothing. I promise you that my heart and soul will always be with you, and if I ever have to leave I'll tell you why."
"Oooh, this sounds good, my own private pipeline to the breaking stories," Lois said as she kissed a trail up his neck.
"Mmmmmm," Clark murmured, "but I've gotta tell you, you never seemed to need any extra advantage before."
"You really know how to flatter me, don't you, farmboy?"
"I should. I've been in love with you for almost two years."
Lois looked up into his eyes and her heart melted.
"I know, and I promise to spend the rest of my life proving that I feel the same way."
They both leaned forward and let passion take over, and they knew that in a very imperfect world they had each finally found the perfect someone.