By Eppie <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: June 2002
Summary: In response to a 30-minute Episode Extension challenge, we see Lois's introspectives to cope with Clark's "death" in the episode "That Old Gane of Mine" in this heartwarming vignette with a surprising ending.
A 30-Minute Episode Extension Challenge Story: That Old Gang of Mine
Author's Introduction: This vignette was inspired by Wendy's 30-Minute Episode Extension Challenge; however, it obviously does not begin at the end of TOGOM, but rather several hours after Clark's "death." I first intended it to simply be a small interlude in TOGOM and to flow into continuity with the episode; however, due to the encouragement of some wonderful FoLCs, I decided to follow it up with a sequel, "Superman's Alibi." This is the first LnC fanfic I've written in years, and I hope you all enjoy it. Comments and criticism are welcomed and appreciated.
Of course, all characters are the property of DC Comics and Warner Brothers.
Lois woke, still trembling from the dream. For a moment, she relaxed, relieved that it had only been a nightmare. But her relief was short-lived, as she remembered. Yes, that time it had been a dream…but before, it had been all too real.
She had been standing right next to him earlier that day, had seen the shock on his face as Dilinger fired the three shots, had watched him fall…and had knelt beside his body afterwards, praying that by some miracle, he was still alive. But she had been praying for the impossible; she had lost Clark, her partner, her best friend, the man she…Lois shook her head, refusing to continue that train of thought. After all, it was pointless, now—Clark was dead.
Lois pushed back the covers and climbed out of bed, giving up hope of escaping the images that haunted her even during sleep. She went to the bathroom sink and splashed her face with cold water, then looked at herself in the mirror. That simple act brought about another image, though less recent — that of her and Clark sharing the bathroom mirror in the honeymoon suite at the Lexor about a year ago. She'd still given him quite a hard time about things back then, but, though she would never have admitted it, she'd really enjoyed those few days in the suite. Before that point she hadn't realized how fun Clark could be, how nice it was to spend time with him…and when he'd kissed her, even though it had only been a cover, it had felt..so gentle. So…right.
Lois sighed, frustrated with herself as the tears started up again. Why did everything have to remind her of him? She walked into the dark living room and sat on the couch, not bothering with a light and deciding against reading or watching television—if she just sat there doing nothing, she reasoned, nothing could remind her of Clark. But it was hopeless. The more she tried to focus on something else, the more she thought of him. Lois let out a sob…a deep, mournful sob that was the beginning of the end of any control she had over her emotions at that moment. She began sobbing uncontrollably then, finally allowing herself to truly grieve.
Suddenly, she heard a familiar sound and felt the gentle breeze that always accompanied it. She wiped her face with the back of her hand, once again fighting for control, and looked up. Though the apartment was bathed in darkness, she could see him by the light of the moon.
"S-Superman?" she managed, her voice strained. She realized with some surprise that she'd rather he not be here. He couldn't make this go away. No one could.
He was silent for a moment, then finally spoke. "I know it's late. I just…I heard about Clark, and…" He sighed. "I wanted to see how you were. To see if..there is anything I can do." <He sounds so pained and helpless> Lois thought. <More so than I've ever heard him before. Of course…that would make sense. Clark was a friend of his, too.>
She shook her head. "Thanks, Superman," she responded softly, "but…well, I guess there's not really anything that anyone can do. It just…" She swallowed, feeling the tears coming on again. "It happened, and it can't be undone. It shouldn't have happened, though…especially to Clark." She gave up the struggle, and once again gave way to the tears. "He was a good man, and…the best friend I ever had—I never thought I'd have someone like him in my life, ever, someone who'd put up with all my little 'quirks,' as he called them, someone who would still be there for me after I'd given him every right to hate me…someone who…" She bit her lip hard, reliving everything yet again. "Someone who would risk his life for me," she finished with a sob.
Superman sighed. "Lois…you shouldn't blame yourself for any of this." She looked up with some surprise, wondering how he'd known that that's exactly what she'd been doing. "You couldn't have prevented Clark from defending you." He paused. "He told me how much you meant to him."
"He did?" Lois thought about this tearfully for a moment, then closed her eyes and buried her face in her hands. She spoke again after a brief silence, her voice muffled. "That brings up another thing…the worst thing." She sighed shakily. "I—I never told him! I was so proud and hurt and confused and stupid"—she knew she was babbling, but didn't care—"that I didn't tell him. He died…without ever knowing."
There was silence. Then, hesitantly, Superman spoke. "Without knowing what?"
Lois shrugged and shook her head, angered at the irony of how easy this was to admit, now that admitting it didn't matter in the least. "That I loved him."
All was silent. Lois pulled her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, closing her eyes, still willing everything to have been a dream. Suddenly, she felt Superman's hand on her shoulder. "Lois…"
"Look, I really do appreciate your being here and trying to help, but I just don't think—" She turned to face him, and stopped in mid-sentence. "Oh, my—Clark???"
Lois woke with a start, disoriented. She bit her lip at the realization that she had been, once again, dreaming. Her subconscious was certainly making creative attempts to deny what had happened…but she was eventually going to have to come to terms with the painful truth, or actually, truths. First of all, Clark and Superman couldn't possibly be one and the same…the very idea was ridiculous; it was only her subconscious's desperate clinging to one last, impossible hope that somehow, Clark had survived. Then there was the painful fact that the man she loved was dead, and she hadn't realized that she loved him until his death. <Clark is gone> Lois told herself for the millionth time.
She had no idea what she was going to do without him.