If the Earth Opened Up…

By Margaret Brignell (brignell@sympatico.ca)

May 1996

Summary: A few missing scenes from the episode "And the Answer Is" in which Lois speculates that Clark and Superman are one and the same but tries to prove herself wrong.

It feels kind of weird to be writing fanfic that relates to the cliffhanger from *last* summer at this late date. However, it's bothered me for a long time that Lois seemed triumphant, almost gloating, when she answered Clark's question. I wrote this to explain (to myself if to no one else;) what could possibly have created that reaction in Lois.

I'd like to thank Debby Stark for encouraging me to finish this, even though it's almost a year late:)

Disclaimer: All DC characters are the property of … etc., etc. This story is based on the end of the episode _And the Answer Is_ and the beginning of the episode _We Have a Lot to Talk About_. However, the rest of the story is mine, all mine<g> Words with * are emphasized.


Superman looked like he was about to cry!

Lois was stunned. She had just finished explaining how they could help Clark's parents, that freezing her would solve Clark's problem. Superman had expressed his reluctance to do what she asked and put some devastating facts before her about the danger of what she proposed to do. But then, when she'd explained that they *had* to help Clark and that Superman didn't *know* what Clark was going through, tears had appeared in his eyes. Superman didn't cry! He was the strongest man on earth.

Lois was scared now. Her determination to help Clark had pushed her to this point, but the tears in Superman's eyes had completely shaken her confidence. Superman was afraid! Maybe what she'd asked was *really* as life-threatening as he'd said.

But they had no choice. If they didn't do this her way, Clark's parents would die. At least doing *this* there was a chance. She said as much to Superman and when he asked her to close her eyes she followed his directive.

With her eyes closed, her other senses seemed to become more acute. She could hear both of their breathing and could smell the subtle scent of Superman's skin. For some reason this reminded her of someone else. She didn't know quite who. She heard Superman move slightly and felt his hand caress her cheek. Her eyes shot open and she exhaled sharply. His touch! It felt like Clark was actually here! Superman was standing right in front of her looking exactly the way he had just a few seconds ago. She must be out of her mind! Clark was still back at the Planet, probably going crazy with worry. Lois took a deep breath.

Superman repeated the instruction to close her eyes. This time after her eyes were closed, she felt a gentle breeze of freezing cold air. It was as if everything was going very far away and the internal Lois, the *real* Lois was finding a hiding place deep inside of her body. Hiding away from everything that could harm her … and Clark's parents.

Clark! Where was Clark? She was walking down the aisle of a church, walking towards Lex Luthor and thinking of Clark. She saw Clark's face floating in front of her. Only he looked different. Lois was scared. Superman! She tried to call out but she couldn't make any sound. She couldn't move. She couldn't breathe. When was she going to wake up from this nightmare? It had to be a nightmare. This was just like all the nightmares she'd ever had where she couldn't talk, or see, or get anyone's attention. Superman was trying to help Clark. *She* was trying to help Clark. This would be over soon. It *had* to be. Superman was catching her in midair. She'd fallen out of a plane but she couldn't remember why. Superman was right there, holding her, but he was wearing glasses. How odd!

She could hear Clark calling for her to come back. Back from where? Now he was demanding that she come back. Well, she would if she only knew how! She tried to answer him but she still couldn't talk, couldn't breathe, couldn't see. Although, now that she thought about it, the dark wasn't quite as dark as it had been a little while ago. Every time Clark called her the light got brighter. She made a big effort to call to him, and choked. The voice was getting closer and louder. The dark was almost gone. She felt Clark's arms tighten around her and she let him know that she'd heard him calling. When she opened her eyes, she saw … Superman!

Superman? Where was Clark? She wanted Clark! Clark must be here, she'd heard him calling her. Clark's mother wrapped her in a blanket but Clark wasn't anywhere to be seen. Lois closed her eyes. She was exhausted and could feel tears running down her cheeks. She wanted Clark and when she closed her eyes she could feel him holding her, comforting her just like the time the fake Mr. Trazuski had strangled her. But it wasn't Clark holding her, it was Superman. She *must* be going crazy.

Superman flew her to the hospital. There the doctors told her she'd be fine but she had to *rest*. Phooey on that! She wanted to figure out why she was confusing Clark with Superman. Clark was her best friend, the man she wanted to have a deep, loving relationship with. Clark was real! Superman was a god, above the petty mundane things of life, an unrelenting saviour of mankind. They had *nothing* in common. Lois quelled a sob. This almost dying thing must have affected her brain.

It was only a short while before Clark came to the hospital to take her home. The whole time he was driving the car back to her place Lois stared at his profile trying to see if there was *any* resemblance to Superman. She couldn't see any. He just looked like Clark. Nice, safe, worried Clark.

Clark's Mom was at her apartment and helped her to get ready for bed. She asked Lois to take the sedative the doctor had prescribed, but Lois refused. Martha brought her a cup of herbal tea instead. Lois drank it gratefully. She craved the soothing warmth of the tea.

As she sat sipping her tea, Clark came into the bedroom hesitantly. He seemed so scared, as if he were afraid she'd break apart. Lois tried to reassure him that she was fine, but she was so sleepy she was having difficulty getting the words out. In a few moments she was fast asleep.

Next morning, she woke as the birds began singing outside of her window. Lois suspected that the sedative she'd refused had been put in the tea, but decided not to make an issue of it. She did feel so much better after a good night's sleep.

Martha came in to check to see if she was okay, almost immediately followed by Clark. He said a quiet hello and asked if she needed anything before he went into the office. Lois sneezed and said no she'd be fine. She'd try to rest as the doctors had ordered and she'd see him after work.

Clark looked relieved, as if he'd been expecting her to insist on going into the office. Well maybe she would have on another occasion, but today she wanted to figure out exactly what had happened yesterday, just before Superman had frozen her. She looked Clark in the eyes. She must be crazy thinking he might be Superman, he looked like … Clark!

After Clark had left, Martha fussed around Lois for a few minutes and then at Lois' insistence went back to Clark's apartment. Lois wanted to be alone.

Alone, she'd always been alone. Even with other people around. She'd always felt alone … until Clark. She could hear the traffic sounds outside her window, muted but they were still there. Maybe she should turn on the radio, give the place some pleasant background noise. But she didn't feel up to it. She'd told Martha she was fine, and *really* she was, but she felt way too tired to get up and turn on the radio. Grabbing another Kleenex to stop a sudden sneeze she snuggled down under the comforter and tried to think through the problem.

Why was she confusing Clark with Superman? Was it like she'd said after that pheromone incident, that every girl in love thinks her man looks like Superman? Was it because they were both always there for her? Was she in love with both of them, and as a result kept getting them mixed up in her mind? Lois wiped her nose again. Think Lane, think! There has to be a reason for this. You are *not* going crazy.

Lois fell asleep on this thought. The experience of almost dying had drained her reserves and the subsequent cold had taken its toll on her exhausted body.

When she woke up several hours later, she was looking straight at the bear Clark had won for her at the Smallville Corn Fest. She smiled at the memory. If she had any doubts that *proved* Clark was just a regular guy. He'd barely been able to get the bell to ring. Now she remembered that Clark had a paper cut just prior to winning her the prize. Not to mention that he'd almost died in that fight with Trask. Superman would have had no trouble hitting the bell, couldn't get a paper cut and would have had no trouble beating up on Trask. Lois sighed with relief. Confusing Clark and Superman must have been a mental aberration caused by a fear of dying.

Lois got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. After showering, she dressed in a comfortable pair of slacks and a sleeveless top. She made herself coffee and heated up a frozen croissant to cut back on the hunger pangs. She was sitting on the sofa reading the latest issue of Journalist Weekly, when the phone rang. It was Clark.

A rush of warmth flooded Lois at the sound of his voice. She'd know his voice anywhere. How could she have confused his with Superman's? How silly!

Clark had phoned to say he'd bring in Chinese food for dinner. He tried to persuade her to go back to bed, but when that didn't work asked her to do her best not to lift a finger and to just rest. He sounded so worried that Lois decided not to argue with him and agreed to rest, but *not* to go back to bed. She was fine, really!

After hanging up the phone, she rinsed out the dishes she'd used and straightened up the small mess she'd made. After just this brief activity, she thought that maybe Clark was right, resting was a *really* good idea. She was so weak, it must be how Superman felt after being in contact with Kryptonite.

Kryptonite! In Smallville, there'd been Kryptonite! And, Clark had been sick, *really* sick. He and his parents had claimed it was allergies, but what if it was more than that? What if it'd been Kryptonite? If Superman had been in contact with Kryptonite, he wouldn't be able to hit the bell, he could have gotten a paper cut (and Clark *had* seemed to be at a loss as to what to do with a paper cut!), and Trask could have beaten him up easily.

Lois sat down suddenly on the nearest chair. What was she thinking? She was imagining that Clark and Superman were the same person. It was impossible! There were hundreds of times when both she and Clark had been there when Superman had saved someone, or stopped the criminals, or Superman had caught her in midair.

When Superman had caught her in midair the first time, Clark had been up in the plane with Trask. Or had he? When the red Kryptonite had made Superman apathetic, Clark had been affected too! Clark hadn't been in the courtroom to help his friend Superman when he'd been sued. Why? The only logical explanation was that Clark and Superman were the *same* person.

Lois got up unsteadily and retrieved her laptop from her briefcase. She had to check. This was insane. There was no possible way that she could be right. Verify, Lane, verify! Lois drew up all her files on Superman.

The first time she'd seen Superman was in the space shuttle when he'd swallowed the bomb. The little girl had commented on Superman's costume and he'd said his mother had made it for him. Martha? If she thought Clark and Superman were the same person, then what about Martha and Jon? They were just ordinary people from Kansas. If Superman was talking about Martha, did that mean that she and Jon were from Krypton too? Lois shook her head and put the totally normal Martha and Jon in the "can't be the same" column she'd mentally created.

The second time she'd seen Superman was when she'd stolen Clark's story. Lois blushed. She still felt bad about that, but he'd gotten back at her later. Superman wouldn't have done a thing like that! Then again, it was after she'd told Clark why Superman was really needed that Superman had returned to Metropolis to stay. Clark had gotten the exclusive on that. Or had he? If she was right, he'd interviewed himself! The fink! Lois shook herself, Superman wouldn't have cheated like that. Nor would he have thrown her in the dumpster at the Metro Club. She put the tricks that Clark had pulled over the years as more evidence for the "can't be the same" column.

On the other hand, the time Trask barged into the newsroom demanding information from the two of them about Superman, Clark had seemed really nervous about being interviewed. As if he knew something about Superman and might give it away. Could it be that he himself was Superman? Lois put this in the "maybe" column in her head.

She tried to find some time, *any* time that Superman and Clark had been in the same location at the same time, where she could see them together. Strangely enough she couldn't, except for the Diana Stride incident when Clark had given his press conference, to refute Diana's assertion that he was Superman, and Superman had appeared overhead. She couldn't decide if this was evidence for the "can't be the same" column or the "maybe" column. She finally put it, tentatively, in the "can't be the same" column and kept looking.

It seemed so strange that except for that one incident she couldn't remember one single time when both Clark and Superman had been in the same place at exactly the same time. Within seconds, yes, but *not* at the same time. Why had she never noticed that before? Because Clark didn't want her to? She put this in the "strong maybe" column.

Then there'd been the time Clark had amnesia. They *couldn't* be the same person, after all Superman wouldn't get amnesia from being knocked down by a car and hitting his head. The whole time Clark had amnesia Superman had been out in space, dealing with the Nightfall Asteroid, intent on preventing it from colliding with the Earth. Superman had put it all on the line, twice, to save the planet. Clark had fallen into a bunch of garbage cans in the dark!

On the other hand, Superman had been incommunicado between those two tries at preventing the collision. Jimmy had found a piece of Superman's costume in a crater in Suicide Slum. Clark had been found with no memory in the Fifth Street Mission, in the same part of town. Was it possible that the force of the first hit with the asteroid had wiped out Superman's memory? Now she thought about it, Dr. Terri McCorkle, the police psychologist, had described Clark as having a "Superman Complex," of being a chronic do-gooder who thinks he can handle anything. Lois put this incident in the "strong maybe" column.

Then a little voice in her head asked "What about the time Clark was killed by the gangsters?" Clark *had* been dead. She'd been right there when he died. Superman couldn't be killed by bullets. Clark was killed by a bullet. The only reason he was alive now was because of the cloning techniques of Professor Hamilton. Or was it? If he really was Superman, he'd never been dead! The dirty, rotten … it was *just* like Clark to trick her like that! But if she was right that meant that it was just like Superman too… Lois shook her head. This was getting *way* too complicated.

On the negative side was the normalcy of Clark's parents, the human things that Clark did and said, and just the … ordinariness of Clark.

On the positive side was the strange things that Clark did sometimes, like hesitate to be interviewed about Superman, disappearing for absolutely inane reasons, the dual effect of red Kryptonite on both Superman and Clark and … she had to admit it, her own instinct.

But, if she was right, why hadn't he *told* her?

Lois stood up and stretched. She'd been poring over the files for over an hour and she still wasn't any further ahead. The head draining part of her cold seemed to be going away, thank goodness. But she still felt weak and her head felt all clogged up making it difficult to think clearly.

She made herself some peppermint tea. As she sat sipping the hot tea, letting the steam help clear her head, she remembered all those times she'd seen Superman right here in this room. If Clark was Superman, why had he felt the need to visit her as Superman? Clark saw her every day at the office.

Now she thought about it, Superman had sometimes been here to romance her and at other times he'd tried to distance her. There'd been the time they'd danced, a few feet off the ground, right in this very room. Then again, there was that time Superman had pushed her away and told her that what she and Clark had was special. Why had he been so ambivalent towards her? Come to think of it that had been the last time Superman visited her here in that special way. She and Clark had started to develop their relationship after that.

With trembling fingers, Lois put the cup on the table. She'd called Clark a "Hack from Nowheresville" and "Mr. Greenjeans" all the while pursuing Superman. If she were right about them being the same person, he must have been devastated. Was that why he hadn't trusted her enough to confess his secret to her?

Lane, get a grip girl. You're manufacturing evidence to suit your theory. Lois got up and emptied the dregs from her cup into the sink. How could she find out for sure?

There was a knock on her door. It was Clark. She hadn't realized how much time had passed and here he was with dinner in hand. Smiling, but with a concerned look in his eyes, he kissed her gently on the cheek.

They ate the Chinese food and chatted about the Mazek story Clark had finished. When she asked Clark why Mazek had kidnapped his parents, Clark looked wary and said he thought Mazek had wanted someone to steal for him. To Lois' heightened senses, this didn't quite ring true.

Clark was fussing over her after they'd eaten. He told her she looked very pale and tired and she really should be getting some rest. Lois insisted she was fine, just feeling cooped up and could they go for a walk so she could get some fresh air.

With Clark's arm around her, they walked to the local park. Clark worried about her, and disputed her assurance that she wasn't cold. As they walked towards the fountain in the centre of the park, Clark said he'd been thinking. She wondered what about and insisted that he go first.

They were standing facing each other and she was trying to see Clark in the light of her new suspicions. He still looked like … well … Clark, but as she brushed back a lock of his hair with her hand she saw that with his hair flat and back off his face, there was *some* resemblance to Superman. If she could get him to take off his glasses, she'd know for sure.

Clark was apologizing for keeping her out of his anxiety over his parent's kidnapping. He said he was ashamed. When she pressed him about that he explained that he kept pushing her away, even when he'd promised he wouldn't. He was so obviously dejected by his behaviour, so *Clark* about it, that Lois wondered if her imagination had gotten the better of her.

Then Clark insisted that she sit at the edge of the fountain. He explained that he wanted to say something. Lois, once again, considered that maybe she was right. Maybe Clark was going to tell her his secret. Except Superman wouldn't be this nervous. When lightening cracked overhead, and Clark asked the powers that be to give him a break, she asked if he'd rather go back to her place. Maybe he'd feel more comfortable telling her in the privacy of her apartment. His response was to say that he wouldn't stop, he'd say what he had to say even if the earth opened up at his feet.

Then, to her amazement, Clark got down on his knees and *proposed*. There was a diamond ring in a box and a look of hope on Clark's face. She hadn't expected this at all! She'd expected a confession, *not* a proposal.

As the rain poured down, it obscured the lenses of Clark's glasses and soaked his hair flat. Now there was no doubt! The hair was the same, the rain made the glasses seem invisible. It wasn't just her own feelings, now he even *looked* like Superman!

In triumph, at being right, Lois plucked the glasses from Clark's face and asked "Who's asking? Clark? …or Superman?"