Private Grief

By Pam Jernigan <>

Rated G

Submitted February 2000

Summary: A fresh look at Clark's "death" in the episode "That Old Gang of Mine," from a different perspective, and with a twist.

Dialog and actions in the second scene are taken directly from the episode (written by Gene Miller & Karen Kavner); I added my interpretation of some motives. Many thanks to my beta-readers on the message boards, especially Sheila Harper & Hazel.


"Lois, are you sure you're okay?" Clark asked anxiously, one more time, as they arrived at her apartment building.

She considered the question. "Well," she allowed, "It has been a rough day, what with nearly being blown to pieces by that satellite and all."

"Lo-is. That's not what I'm talking about."

"I know, Clark, I know…" she looked around, recognizing this as the very spot Superman had set her down yesterday, after she'd been pushed out her window. She seemed to be suffering from an odd sort of doubled-vision, distorting everything she'd thought she knew. "I'm tired," she observed, in vague surprise.

He was instantly contrite, which really hadn't been her motive, but she welcomed the respite regardless. "We can talk more tomorrow, Clark, okay? Maybe over lunch?"

Clark chewed his lip uncertainly. "How about dinner, instead. At my place?"

A slow smile crossed her face. "Clark Kent, are you asking me out?" The day's stresses might have been worth it, after all, came the stray thought, if it could inspire him so.

He hesitated, then grinned. "Yeah, I guess I am."

She boldly looped her arms around his neck, moving that fraction of an inch closer to bring their bodies into full contact. "Good. It's a date."

Thus encouraged, he dipped his head, and they indulged in a kiss … their first real kiss, Lois decided. All the others dimmed in comparison, anyway. She was smiling dreamily when he finally pulled back.

When she opened her eyes, she found he was watching her, his earlier anxiety at least somewhat allayed. She wanted to clear up his remaining doubts … but they were, after all, well-founded. In some ways, she wasn't all that sure of this, herself. They'd just have to deal with it.

"So, I guess this is goodnight…"

"Yeah, I guess it is." Reluctantly, Lois stepped back. "Goodnight, Clark. I'll see you tomorrow."


A few very busy days later…

"Bonnie and Clyde are both here," Clark reported in an urgent undertone, diverting Lois' attention from the late Georgie Hairdo. "We gotta call the police, c'mon."

He tried to pull her towards the door, but she resisted, knowing he could handle it just fine alone. "You go — I've gotta find a gray-haired lady with a bucket of my nickels."

Clark rolled his eyes, but before he could reply, a burst of gunfire roared through the room, and Lois turned to see that she was facing several armed gangsters — she caught a glimpse of John Dillinger putting down a tommy gun before Bonnie and Clyde rushed over to join their reconstituted friends. The muzzle of Clyde's pistol, a mere few feet away and pointed in her direction, riveted Lois' attention. She'd had guns pointed at her before, but they never ceased to send her adrenaline rushing. Especially when Superman was, as yet, nowhere in evidence.

Al Capone stepped forward, smiling toothily at the crowd. "My apologies, ladies and gentlemen, for this interruption. I just dropped by to inform you that Georgie Hairdo," he smiled a bit wider, "has wisely decided to retire from the hospitality business. So from this day forward, this joint is owned by Al Capone."

Dillinger moved forward again, and looked right at her. "Hey Al, maybe we could make this cutie our head hostess." His eyes raked over her outfit. "I was always partial to a lady in red." Lois bit her lip to restrain a cutting reply, trying not to provoke anything. When Dillinger reached out to touch her face, however, she instinctively flinched away from his hand.

Immediately, Clark was there, batting away the intruder. "Leave her alone," he stated firmly, and she looked at him gratefully.

Dillinger sneered. "Who are you, her big brother?" He gave Clark a push on the chest, and Clark fell back a few paces, but then started forward once more. Lois watched him, concerned at this hint of violence, but was shocked when three shots rang out, the bullets hitting Clark in the chest.

Clark stumbled a half-step backwards, looking down at where the bullets had hit, a surprised look on his face. Lois gasped, and tried to grab him by the shoulders, but his eyes closed, and he fell backwards, dragging her along so that she was on her knees by his side. "Clark," she half whispered, her hands flying to his face. Her fingers brushed his cheek, and paused for a moment on his lips … so warm, but so still. "No…" His glasses had been knocked askew by the fall. She had the absurd urge to straighten them for him, but he hardly needed them anymore. She patted his chest, instead, frantically wondering if there were anything useful she could do.

Behind her, she heard Capone call someone a moron — he continued speaking but her brain seemed unable to process it, her attention focused on her fallen partner. Until her agonized watch was rudely interrupted by strange arms reaching down to grab Clark. "No, no…" They half-carried and half-dragged him towards the door. "No!" She rose to her knees, but knew she was helpless to keep him here. "No…" Her last view of him was of him being dragged away, his body limp, but his face peaceful. "Clark…?" The cry escaped her, but there was no answer, and she sank down to sit on the floor, sobbing quietly.


Lois made it through the next few hours on sheer stubbornness, pulling herself together and describing the evening's events to any number of policemen and to one of her fellow Planet reporters — this was one story that Lois was not even remotely capable of writing.

While she functioned on a surface level, her inner thoughts were whirling. What was she going to do without Clark? How could she bear to go to work if he wouldn't be there to get her coffee, and tease her, and encourage her, and inspire her? She couldn't possibly take on another partner, but working alone no longer held any appeal. She wanted *Clark*, her heart stubbornly insisted, and she cursed all the time she'd waited — wasted — thinking they'd have all the time in the world.

At least they'd made some sort of progress, earlier in the week. They hadn't found time for that dinner, but Clark had been more affectionate, more open … that was a very real source of comfort to her.

She loved Superman, too, of course, and she was grateful that she still had him … but she had to face the fact that he wasn't real. She wanted a normal life, with a regular boyfriend and a partner at work — someone to go to dinner with, and chase stories with … she wanted *Clark*, and much as she loved Superman, he simply couldn't fill that void.

Another wave of desolation washed over her. She needed to see Superman. She wanted to call the Kents, too, but she couldn't talk to any of them until she got home. She gathered her remaining strength, praying she could hold herself together long enough to get there.


In the darkness of Lois' apartment, Clark sat quietly, his chin resting on his folded hands. As soon as the gangsters had dumped him out of the car, he'd flown to Kansas, to let his parents know he was fine, despite what they might hear later. Then he'd returned to Metropolis — he'd spent some time searching for Capone and the others, but to no avail. So now he sat, waiting for Lois.

He was still wearing the Superman suit. He would rather have changed out of it, but that hardly seemed worthwhile — he no longer had another identity. All the things he'd wanted, the normal life he'd worked so hard for … all ripped away in a moment. He hoped to salvage some of it, with Lois, but even so … if he could no longer be Clark, he had no idea what to do. Lois couldn't want a real life with Superman — Superman didn't *have* a real life to offer, no matter how she felt about him.

His head hurt from thinking about it, until only one thing was clear. He needed Lois.

He looked up as he heard the locks on her door start to rattle, and a quick check revealed that it was her. She looked tired, her shoulders drooping, and she'd been crying. He cursed the circumstances which had caused that.

The door opened, and Lois walked in, dropping her coat and bag near the door. She made no move toward the light switch, which suited him.

"You look like you just lost your best friend," he said quietly.

Lois turned to him, showing no surprise at finding him there. She replied equally quietly, "I think I have." She paused, then added, "This is a nightmare."

"I know." He stood, and held his arms open. "C'mere."

He waited, afraid that she wouldn't come, but then she moved, and he enfolded her in a warm embrace. At her touch he felt the weariness and despair begin to ease. They remained locked together for a long moment, his hand stroking her hair, before Lois turned her head to the side just far enough to speak.

"Clark … what are we going to do?"

He sighed. "I don't know, baby … I just don't know." He hesitated briefly, then continued. "We never had that talk. I — I wasn't sure you'd even want to see me…"

She looked up, alarmed. "Clark, of course I wanted to see you — I love you!"

Clark just looked at her for a moment, studying her beautiful face. He raised a shaky hand to trace her jawline and cup her cheek. "God, Lois … you don't know how long I've waited to hear you say that…"

She smiled tenderly, "As awful as today has been … it did teach me how much I love you. And I'm so glad you're not really dead … but I'm still going to miss you terribly, at work."

Clark sighed again. "Yeah, I really hate to lose that — I mean, I want to be with you all the time, not just stolen moments here and there."

"Yeah, I know…" There was a moment of melancholy silence, then Lois stirred, standing a little straighter in his embrace. "Well, we just have to figure out how to get it all back."

"What?" He looked down at her in surprise, and found a thoroughly determined expression on her face. She'd had her fill of self-pity, apparently, and was moving on to action.

"We have to find a way to bring you back from the dead, Clark, that's just all there is to it. I was too upset earlier to think about it, but now that you're here I'm feeling better, and there's just *got* to be a way. We can talk to my dad, maybe, he's a doctor, and we could tell people he fixed you up with cyborg parts — it wouldn't pass a medical exam but I guess you try to avoid those anyway, and—"

Clark stemmed the rising tide of words with the best weapon at his disposal … a long, soul-stirring kiss. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and he was becoming hopeful that they could, indeed, salvage his life, but at the moment the details seemed unimportant. When he finally released her, she was smiling and breathing heavily.

"Wow … what was that for?"

He grinned. "I'm in love with the most brilliant woman on the planet."

She smiled slowly. "Thank you. So you think my idea will work?"

"I think … I think we'll find something. Between the two of us, we can do anything."


(y'all know how they fixed it, so I don't need to go into that, do I? :)