By Paul-Gabriel Wiener <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: June 2002
Summary: Just before disappearing on her yet again, Clark has given Lois permission to open an envelope of "blackmail material" that he had entrusted to her. How will she react to reading Clark's deepest secrets?
This was written as a birthday fic for Sarah and Annie. Happy birthday, twins! :) I'd been hoping to come up with a couple of fun little vignettes or something, but this one story was the best I could do. Anyway, hope you enjoy.
Thanks to Laura (Brightfeather) and Tricia for beta reading, and for convincing me to keep writing past part 1. :)
"Clark, where do you think you're going?" Lois wasn't even sure why she'd bothered to ask. Her partner had made a habit of running out on her at the worst times, leaving her with nothing but a weak excuse. She braced herself, wondering what he'd come up with this time.
He turned to face her, looked her in the eye, took a deep breath, and said, "Open the envelope." Then, he dashed out the door.
"Open the envelope? What kind of excuse is that? What envelo-" Suddenly, Lois remembered. She dashed to the kitchen, grabbed the copy of "The Joy of Cooking" that some misguided friend had given her ages ago, and pulled the envelope out of the middle of the chapter on salad dressings (there was a whole chapter on salad dressing? No wonder the book was so big…). Then, overcome by the moment, she simply sat, stared at the envelope, and remembered the day that he'd given it to her…
"Quick," she'd said, "tell me the biggest secret you have. Something you've never revealed to another soul."
"Tell me your deepest, darkest secret. I'm about to tell you the biggest secret I have, and I need blackmail material."
"Well, that's a bit of a problem. I don't have any dark secrets. There are a couple of things that only my parents know, but I don't think now is the time to tell you about them."
"Why not?" she'd demanded.
"The timing is just not right… If I tell you now, it could affect our relationship."
"Relationship? What relationship?"
"Well, we work together, and I'd like to think we're good friends."
"So, you think if you tell me now, it could affect our friendship, but not if you tell me later?"
"Not exactly. Just trust me on this one, okay?"
"But Clark, that's the whole point of this. I'm trying to trust you with my biggest secret, and you're holding out on me."
"Okay, how about this? They say 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,' so I'll write both secrets down and seal them up in an envelope. If you need to, you can open the envelope, but otherwise, you'll keep it sealed until I tell you the timing is right."
"How do you know I won't just open it when you're not looking?"
"You're my friend. I trust you. In any case, if you read it, I'd know."
"How do I know that you'll actually write your secrets?"
"You'll have to trust me on that one."
"Hmm… all right. Do it, but be quick."
"No problem," he'd replied, smiling. He'd grabbed some supplies from the conference room shelves, and, less than a minute later, handed her the envelope.
Her curiosity had eaten at her, but, remembering the trust that her partner had put in her, she'd kept it hidden and sealed. She'd almost opened it when Clark had died, but couldn't bring herself to do it. When Superman had brought him back, she'd been glad that she'd held off. Now, over a year later, he'd finally told her that she could open it. The fact that he'd given permission in lieu of an excuse confirmed her suspicion that at least one of the two secrets in the envelope had something to do with his disappearing act.
Slowly, almost reverently, she opened the envelope. Inside were two scraps of paper. Each had three words on it. "I am Superman." "I love you."
Lois sat down heavily. Did he actually think…? Well, they did kind of look alike. They had similar values, similar ways of looking at the world… and Superman always kept his distance, while Clark was always running away… to save lives? But then, why distance himself as Superman?
Well, there were some obvious problems with Superman having a publicly acknowledged girlfriend, the danger to her being the least of them. After all, Superman belonged to the world. If Superman were to have a girlfriend, it would ruin his image as a sum of ideals.
Image… ideals… that's all Superman was, really, if you thought about it. The personification of a set of ideals- Clark's ideals. You couldn't have a relationship with a bunch of ideals. Which explained why Superman had stayed away… and why she'd felt safe chasing him.
Which meant that Clark really was Superman. Or, actually, that Superman was part of Clark.
Which meant that Clark was invulnerable, that bullets couldn't hurt him… that he'd never really been dead. He'd let her think he was dead. Lois slammed her hand down on the table… right next to the little slip of paper that said "I love you," a message written over a year ago- before Clark had been shot. Before Lex Luthor had proposed.
It was all too much to absorb. Needing to give her mind a break, Lois sat back and turned on the television. An LNN reporter was shouting frantically into his microphone. It seemed that a freak storm had hit southern Georgia, causing large-scale flooding. Superman was on the scene, building walls, cutting drainage channels, rescuing people in danger of drowning, and Clark-only-knew what else. Lois was still watching the coverage when she fell asleep.
Lois was confused when she woke up the next morning in bed, though still fully clothed. She got up, showered, changed, and walked out into the living room. There, she found Clark, sound asleep on the couch. She tiptoed to the kitchen and quietly made herself breakfast- coffee and frozen waffles.
Unfortunately, the smell of burning waffles managed to awaken Clark, after all. He tossed out the waffles, glanced at the clock, muttered something about having slept late enough that in six hours it would be after lunchtime, then walked out the door, promising to get a real breakfast. A few minutes later, he was back with warm croissants and hot chocolate. Lois began to wonder where he'd gotten them, and then last night's revelations came flooding back to her. Flood- Clark had been up last night, helping out with the flood. No wonder he'd been so tired. Yet, despite that, he'd taken the time to get her breakfast. Six hour time difference… she glanced at the clock. These must have been purchased fresh from a patesserie… in France. Her mind whirled with the implications.
Clark seemed to sense that she needed more time to think things over, so he kept to small talk. After breakfast, he asked if she was still interested in going to the street fair, like they'd planned.
Lois thought about it. A street fair. It seemed so normal, so down-to-earth, so unassuming, so… Clark. "Yeah, Clark. That sounds perfect."
They strolled through the fair, Lois letting herself just enjoy the moment, leaving thoughts of Superman and love for her subconscious to work out. Things were going really well, until she left the tent of Madame Fortuna (A.K.A. Perry White), to find Dan waiting for her instead of Clark.
"Where's your partner?" Dan asked.
"Oh, I'm sure he's around somewhere," Lois replied vaguely, looking around. It didn't take long for her to spot the giant speaker about to fall and crush a guitarist. "Come on, Clark!" she whispered urgently. "Catch it!" A red-and- blue streak was headed for the musician, but, as if it had heard her, it suddenly altered course. Instead of pushing the guitarist out of the way, Superman caught the speaker and slowly eased it back into place. Lois stared at the hero, rapt. It was the first time she'd seen him in person since she'd opened the envelope.
"I guess now you know."
"What?" Lois whipped around, worried about just what Dan was implying.
"Just how much you mean to Clark Kent."
Lois watched Superman fly off, and thought about the envelope. He'd trusted her with the secret of his double life. More, he'd trusted her to keep the envelope sealed until he was ready to tell her. He'd also waited, quietly loving her, until she was ready to accept that love. "Yeah, Dan. I guess I do."
She walked off then, leaving Dan behind her, knowing that Clark would find her somewhere in the crowd ahead. Sure enough, a few minutes later she found him strolling along beside her. "Nice save," she said.
"Thanks, and thanks for the suggestion, too. Going for the speaker instead was a brilliant idea. It saved the equipment, but, more importantly, it meant less risk to the guitarist and everyone else near the stage."
"You heard me?"
"I always hear you, Lois."
Lois tilted her head up to look into Clark's eyes. "Well, then, what am I saying now?"
Clark, reading the message perfectly, bent down and slowly brought his lips to meet hers. They kissed, wordlessly telling each other of the depth of their love. The hustle and bustle of the fair, the confusion of Lois's questions, the entire universe… as if these things were somehow magically aware, they all tiptoed quietly away to give the lovers a moment of privacy. Lois and Clark, otherwise occupied, failed to notice the courtesy.