By Laura Davies <email@example.com>
Submitted: July 2002
Summary: A challenge fic where the author gives us a different spin on the episode "That Old Gang of Mine."
All the usual disclaimers apply. This was in response to Pam's challenge to write a fic with the title "Change of Heart." Thanks to the gang on Zoom's boards, IRC, and my BRs, Helen and Fortran. :)
Superman flew over the fair city of Metropolis, contemplating the events of the last few hours. He was dead. As much as he wanted not to be, Clark Kent was dead. He had died that night in an illegal gambling establishment, shot in the chest at point-blank range. Lois, his partner, best friend, and love of his life had held him while he died. A small sob escaped from Clark's throat. Clark had died, leaving only Superman. All of the hiding, the lying, and the running out on those he most cared for had come to naught. <It's not fair! There are too many witnesses for me to just come back from the dead; I'll never have any semblance of a life now,> he thought. Clark wallowed in grief for his lost life for a moment before his thoughts turned inevitably to Lois.
She had screamed his name as the gangsters dragged him away. It occurred to him that she must be in immense pain right now; in a matter of moments, she had lost her best friend. He needed to go to her and explain, but there was very little chance that the police had let her go home right away. He reversed direction and flew to Smallville. His parents would need reassurance that he was okay.
A few hours later, Clark flew quickly back to Metropolis— and Lois. He was thankful that his parents agreed with his decision to finally tell her the truth. They, too, felt that she deserved to know. He flew up to the locked window and knocked, hoping that she would let him in.
Lois sat in the darkened apartment, sobbing. She wasn't exactly sure how she had gotten there, but it didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was that Clark was dead and Superman failed to save him. For a moment Lois felt a twinge of anger for Superman. Intellectually, she knew that he couldn't be everywhere, but Clark was supposedly his best friend…and Clark was dead. She turned around, tears streaming down her cheeks, as she heard a knock at the window. Lois got up and walked across the room to the window. She opened it to let the superhero in.
Superman flew in through the window, sorrowfully noting Lois' red eyes and the tearstains on her cheeks. Silently, he opened his arms and drew her, unresisting, close to him, rubbing her back and murmuring that everything would be okay. "Shh, Lois, it's okay," he said softly as she cried into his chest. Her tears wrung his heart, as he knew that the person she was crying for, in reality, was still alive. "Lois," he said quietly, "It's me, Clark; I'm still alive."
Lois jumped back from his chest, looking at him in shock. "C-clark?" she said hesitantly. "But you're SUPERMAN."
Clark spun quickly out of the suit and into his normal clothes. "Lois," he said softly. "It's me, Clark."
Confusion replaced the grief on her face and began to war with anger. "Clark Kent, no, let me use your whole name, CLARK JEROME SUPERMAN KENT! How DARE you lie to me and let me believe that you DIED!" Lois picked up the nearest heavy, hard, and sharp object and hurled it at Clark's head. "You've *lied* to me for a year and a half and then you let me think that you DIED. Clark Jerome Kent, I hate your guts! Get out. If I never see you again it will be far too soon!" Lois pointed toward the window, her stormy face resolute.
Clark looked at Lois sorrowfully. "For what it's worth," he said sincerely, "I'm sorry, Lois. I always hated lying to you. When you need to talk, I'll be at my place." Clark spun back into the Suit and flew slowly out the window.
Lois stormed around her apartment, leaving a path of destruction in her wake. She picked up a picture of herself and Clark and hurled it against the wall. Hate for her partner and best friend consumed her. Deep down inside she admitted that she really loved him, but now her hate matched her love. With every fiber of her passionate being, she hated the man known as Clark Kent. She ranted and raved of her hatred of him; he was just like every other man who had ever walked through her life. <Why, did I ever let him get close to me?> she wondered. <I told myself not to let him get too close, but oh no! I had to go and develop *feelings* for that louse!> After hours of voicing her hatred, Lois collapsed on her bed and sobbed.
Despite her anger, deep down she knew that, in reality, she loved him. He was as essential as air to her. Lois rubbed a tired hand across her tearstained face and began to examine the reasons why he had let her think that he died. The answer was obvious. <There were too many people in the casino,> she realized. <Too many witnesses to testify that Clyde shot him. He had to pretend to die…and he did come to tell me that he was still alive. And, well…> She thought back to the beginning of their partnership and winced as she thought of some of the horrible things she had said to him, the detrimental way she had compared him to…himself. <He couldn't tell me in the beginning either,> she thought slowly. <Back then, I probably would have smelled a Pulitzer and went after it.> She still didn't know why he hadn't told her; after all, they were best friends! <Maybe more,> a traitorous voice whispered in the back of her head. <You love him…you know he was lying that day in front of the Planet; he loves you, too.>
Lois threw on some jeans, sneakers, and one of Clark's flannel shirts that had somehow ended up in her closet. She grabbed her keys and hurried over to Clark's apartment. It was the only way to find out why the rat hadn't told her the truth. She used the key he had given her some months previously and let herself in. "Clark?" she called softly as she turned on the light.
Clark stepped out of the bedroom, his hair tousled. He was dressed only in a pair of sleep shorts. "Lois?" he said softly, searching her face for signs of anger. "Are you okay?"
Lois flung herself at him and his arms automatically came up to hold her close. He dropped a kiss on the top of her head as he tucked her underneath his chin.
They stayed like that for a moment before she pulled away slightly so that she could look up into his face. "Clark Jerome Kent, don't you *ever* scare me like that again!" she said with an edge to her voice. "Why didn't you tell me before this?"
Clark kissed her softly on the cheek before replying. "I wanted to," he began hesitantly. "I was just waiting for the right time," he finished quietly.
Lois gave him a considering look before pulling his head down and kissing him soundly on the lips. "Don't ever lie to me again, either!" she said before kissing him passionately. She swept her tongue across his lips, requesting entrance, and began to explore his mouth. Hesitantly, he began to do the same. "I love you, Clark," she said in between kisses. "Don't ever die on me again."
As they kissed, they moved backwards and collapsed backwards on the couch. "I love you, too, Lois," Clark said while trailing kisses down her jaw. "I won't, I promise."
After a few minutes of reassuring each other of their continued existence, they pulled apart slightly, gasping for air. "Clark, we've got to figure out a way to bring you back. I categorically *refuse* to only see you as Superman!"
Clark thought for a few minutes, his mind racing through possibilities. He had actually been thinking how he could return to his former life for hours. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. He grinned at Lois before saying, "What about Professor Hamilton? He's responsible for bringing the gangsters back. We could say that Superman used his equipment and notes to bring me back."
Lois nodded slowly. "That could work," she said simply. "Clark, is it okay if I stay here tonight?"
"Okay, Lois," Clark said, "I'll sleep out here on the couch."
"Clark, no. Please, stay with me. Hold me tonight?" Lois looked up at Clark imploringly. "I don't want to let you out of my sight."
Clark closed his eyes. He had dreamed of being able to hold her as she slept, but after their mutual declarations of love, he wasn't so sure he could trust himself. He nodded softly; he could deny her nothing. He knew that the timing wasn't the best, but he had wanted to ask this question since he had first seen her. He laid a hand along the side of her jaw caressingly. "Lois," he began quietly, "I have loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you. I know the timing isn't the best, but will you marry me?"
Lois searched the earnest face of the man she loved more than life. Over the past few hours she had faced the fact that her life just wasn't really a life without him. "Yes," she said, leaning in for a sweet kiss.
That night, Lois slept contentedly in Clark's arms. She had finally found the place where she belonged.
Three months later, Lois Lane sat at her desk in the Daily Planet newsroom, contemplating her engagement ring. Everyone had believed Clark's story of how he had come back from the dead. Capone and his gang had been captured and Dr. Hamilton had destroyed his research and lab. The wedding was next month. <Someday,> Lois thought with a happy smile, <I'm going to have to go down to the prison and thank Clyde. If he hadn't shot Clark, I'd still be telling myself that he was only my best friend.>