By Sarah Luddy <meerkat_comments AT aslandia DOT net>
Submitted: February, 2002
Summary: Lois is about to marry Lex Luthor, and nothing Clark seems to say will stop her. Is there any way he can convince her of his love in time? And will she change her mind?
Clark shoved aside his laptop with a grimace. His characters were dull stereotypes, his theme almost a living creature that threatened to devour any signs of plot or inspiration, and even the plot itself was a tangled mass of deception no reasonable writer could hope to sort out in a mere 120,000 words. In other words, he had writer's block.
How could he be expected to write anyway? When his heart was being torn apart and his mind stirred in endless turmoil?
An idea came to him and he reached again for the laptop. But the idea of the cold technology having free rein with his innermost thoughts repulsed him, and he reached for a sheet of paper and a pen.
He wrote furiously, rage flowing from the pen and staining the paper, pain lining the margins and seeping through the thin sheet. When his angry energy finally ran dry he skimmed over what he'd written. Widening his eyes he crumpled the sheet and tossed it into the trash can. A new sheet was whipped from the stack and waited patiently before him.
Clark began to write slowly, but before long the frustration began to escape and dance with the words on the page, barely concealing the disappointment and hurt of rejection. Jealousy liberally tainted his words, obscuring his true purpose. When he realized what was happening, a second crumpled paper joined the first.
Unable to control the emotions that overtook his mind, Clark paced back and forth, allowing them momentary escape. He replayed the last few days over and over in his mind, allowing the fury to build up until he couldn't stand it anymore. He grabbed another sheet of paper and wrote as quickly as the pen would allow him ink, scrawling in large, bold letters instead of his usual neat script.
The rage finally crested and broke, leaving Clark sobbing and holding a broken pen. The discarded evidence of his previous outpourings was the only witness to his deepest moments of pain.
But the tears, the soft glow of a comfortable home, and the knowledge that there was still something he had to accomplish, brought him safely to the calm shore in the end. This time, when he took up pen and paper and began to write, the right words flowed smoothly and easily onto the page.
Still, when he finished he wasn't satisfied. The letter was the truest expression of his feelings and he couldn't bear to destroy it. Yet how could he pour out his heart in such a manner knowing that he was simply handing it over to be broken? He gripped the letter, about to tear it in half, but hesitated.
A knock on the door startled him.
"Just a minute!" he called. Grabbing an envelope, he quickly jotted down the name of the intended recipient. He sealed the envelope and slid it into a thin green book on his bookshelf. Finally, he went to the door.
"Chief!" he said. "It's so good to see you."
As the two men spoke, soon to be joined by Jimmy and Jack, the letter sat quietly in the book, waiting its chance to be completed. Or possibly to join its woebegone brothers in the trash can.
Suddenly, Clark's super-sharp hearing caught the sound of sirens.
"Uh, I have to go-"
"Go where? We're in the middle of this," Jimmy said.
Clark looked around frantically. "To return a library book!" he said, thankful that he'd caught a glimpse of the thin green book with the library symbol on the spine. He grabbed the book and waved it slightly.
"Now?" Perry asked incredulously.
"Yes. It's very overdue and the library closes soon," he said. He ran for the door without further explanations, leaving Perry, Jimmy, and Jack to stare at each other with astonishment.
"Man, what I wouldn't give to know where he goes when he does that," Jack said.
Jimmy shook his head.
As a puzzled Superman was on his way back from the false bank alarm, an envelope huddled securely between pages 234 and 237 (the page containing 235 and 236 having been unfortunately ripped out by a previous borrower), relying on the pages on either side to hold it in place.
Superman took a slight detour by the public library, leaving the metal door of the bookdrop swinging merrily and a slightly bewildered book lying with feathered pages in the bookdrop room. Fortunately, a certain intrepid envelope was still clinging securely to the book.
A teenage girl, trying to conceal the fact that she was chewing gum, stepped into the room. She attempted to stack all the books into her arms. The precarious pile shifted and tumbled from her arms and onto the floor. The little green book landed facedown on pages 322 and 323, but the envelope remained safe.
Sighing, the girl scooped up half the books to carry to the check-in desk, then returned for a second load. The little green book rode on top of the pile.
She dumped the books onto the counter and picked up the top book to scan. When she flipped to the back of the book to pull its card, she noticed an envelope poking out of the book.
She grabbed the envelope and was about to toss it when she noticed that it was sealed and labeled with the name of the recipient.
"Lois Lane," she read aloud with wonder. Lois Lane, top investigative reporter for the Daily Planet and her idol. She dreamed of the exciting life that Lois Lane led, investigating drug smugglers and gun-runners and conspiracies and embezzlements. Maybe this was a secret missive from somebody who desperately needed the reporter's help.
"Judie?" she called to her supervisor. Judie looked up from the magazines she was stacking.
"I found a letter in a book," Tina said.
"If it's stamped, send it. If not, you can either be industrious and call the return addressee, or check it."
Tina glanced at the pile of books waiting to be checked in, then at the envelope in her hands. No stamp, no return address. But what if it *was* important?
Making her decision, Tina grabbed the phone book and looked up Lois Lane's address. She neatly printed it below her name, then added a stamp from the drawer. She put it in the pile of mail to be sent out.
The envelope waited on top of a mail pile that night, alone with its fellow letters in the dark library. But just as the library began to bustle the next morning, the mailman came to collect the letters. The envelope joined a pile of letters in the mail truck, smothered between a slightly fishy-smelling letter headed for Secaucus, New Jersey, and a letter that smelled of crayon and was headed to a grandmother in Scottsdale.
The mail truck developed a flat tire just a few roads past the library, and the letters waited in anxious suspense until the truck was fixed and began to roll again. A collective sigh of relief sent letters fluttering in their bags.
The bags of mail were finally collected and brought into the post office. All but one little envelope that had fluttered to the ground just in front of the rear tire of the mail truck.
A little boy tossed a ball into the air while he waited for his mother to come out of the post office. Not being quite as good a catcher as a thrower, he dropped the ball. It rolled under a mail truck.
He sighed and bent down to collect the ball. A letter peeked out from underneath the truck. He decided to do his good deed for the day, grabbed the letter, and ran to the post office. The envelope said Metropolis, so he dropped it into the local box.
The envelope slid neatly through the drop and into a cart of letters headed for various places in Metropolis. The lucky letter made it in just in time, and it was rewarded with a short wait.
A woman took the cart to the sorting room, where the mail was organized according to route. It finally found itself neatly rubber-banded with countless advertisements, bills, and a few letters, all headed for Carter Avenue.
Another night was spent among fellow letters in the dark, this time in the post office. But the next morning did come at last, bringing the mail truck that collected the letters for Carter Avenue. And so the letter found itself waiting in a downstairs mailbox, waiting for the woman in apartment #501 (or was that #105?) to come pick it up.
As darkness settled over the city, Lois Lane entered the apartment door and headed for the elevator. Just as she hit the button, she remembered that she'd been waiting for a catalogue and headed back for the mailboxes. She unlocked her box and collected her mail, sorting through it as she headed upstairs.
One letter was puzzling. It only had her address, no return address, and the handwriting looked unfamiliar. All except the 'Lois Lane,' which looked heartbreakingly familiar.
She absentmindedly unlocked her door and flipped on the light. Grabbing a letter opener, she tore open the letter.
"Dear Lois," it began.
"Ever since that day in the park, things have been awkward between us."
And just whose fault was that?
"But we were once best friends, Lois, and I can't bear to lose that. I know you think that my anger and my reactions were out of jealousy for Luthor, or petulance because I told you my feelings and you rejected me."
And they weren't? Lois kicked off her shoes and dropped down onto the couch.
"I was jealous, Lois. There, I'll admit it. But nonetheless, if you were in love with another man, a good man who loved you back, I'd step back and let you make your own choices. Part of the reason I couldn't let this go is that I know what sort of man Luthor is."
In frustration, Lois threw the paper onto the coffee table and headed for the kitchen. Banging the cupboards as she searched for something decent to eat, she muttered to herself. "You were doing pretty well there for a while, Clark. But the second I relax my guard, you're right back to accusing Lex again." She found a box of granola bars and tore one open.
Almost unconsciously, her eyes focused on the living room where she'd left the letter. A small voice in her mind was curious if Clark would actually go into detail about why he thought Luthor was the devil incarnate, instead of just expecting her to trust his instincts.
"Fine," she said suddenly. "I'll just see what he says."
She marched back into the living room and took up the letter again, skimming for where she'd left off.
"Lois, I know you don't trust my instincts, but do you trust Superman? Superman was the one who warned me about Luthor. He told me that Luthor was behind many of the crimes we solved in Metropolis, and that he has faced Lex Luthor many times. Luthor hasn't been able to hide his true self from Metropolis's superhero."
Lois frowned. "If that's true, then why didn't Superman just tell me himself? I might have looked for evidence, but if I'd heard it from Superman I might have believed it."
"You're probably wondering why Superman didn't tell you himself. The truth is, Lois, Superman had no proof. The only reason he confided in me is that he knew I already suspected Luthor. And once you became involved with Luthor, you didn't want to hear what either of us had to say about the man. And perhaps Superman was just a bit angry, as I was, that you would allow yourself to be blinded by Luthor's power and money."
"I am not blinded by his power and money!" Lois exclaimed.
"I know you'd probably disagree with that last statement, Lois, but you have to think how it appears to the outside world. I told you that I loved you. You don't love either of us, yet you're willing to marry the man with the money and power, the man you hardly know. What do you expect people to think?"
"Jerk!" she exclaimed, stalking into the kitchen. She angrily grabbed a recipe book from the cabinet. Maybe now was a time to try that Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe she'd been puzzling over before. She did have the ingredients, after all.
She gathered the ingredients on the counter without a mishap, but the letter kept staring up at her balefully, taunting her to read it. "Fine," she said suddenly, grabbing it.
"I'm sorry, Lois. I never meant to hurt you, but I wanted the chance to tell you how I feel, too. Perry, Jimmy, Jack, and I are investigating Luthor. If you'd only give us the chance to show you what we've found so far, I think even you might have some doubts as to the legality of some of his business ventures."
She frowned. Lex had said that sometimes he had done things he wasn't proud of. Could she really live with that? But having done some things he wasn't proud of was a far step from having done things that were illegal.
"Lois, I know you think the way I've lashed out lately has been out of jealousy because you rejected me and chose Luthor. And yes, I'll admit it, I am jealous. But my warnings about Luthor were not motivated by jealousy."
"Yeah, right." Why didn't the recipe seem to make any sense? The letters were all blurry. She figured it probably called for a bunch of eggs and she cracked six into a bowl.
"I care about you, Lois. You're my best friend, and I don't want to see you hurt. I'd hate to see you marry Luthor and then discover his criminal side a year down the road."
She hated to admit it, but his calm words were beginning to get to her. Surely he was just jealous? He was probably lying about Superman. Wasn't he? She poured in oatmeal and stirred angrily. But…what if he was telling the truth? An image suddenly flashed into her head, of Clark watching her when he thought she wasn't looking. Clark wouldn't lie, not about this.
"I know that my revelation in the park didn't go as well as I planned. And maybe I shouldn't have expected more. I knew you didn't love me. I just thought that being straightforward might be the only way to get you to reconsider marrying Luthor. But every word I said was the truth."
The recipe was a mass of glued together oatmeal and eggshells. Had the recipe called for eggs? She wasn't sure anymore. She tossed the bowl in the sink and sat down on the kitchen floor with the letter.
"I do love you, Lois. I've loved you since the beginning, from the moment you swarmed into Perry's office, a miniature whirlwind who took no notice of 'the hack from Smallville' who was interviewing for a job. I love the way we work together, both filling in the gaps in each other."
"Gaps?" she exclaimed.
"And yes, I said gaps. One person can't do everything by herself. I love spending time with you, joking with you, laughing with you, protecting you when you get yourself in over your head on a story. I love the way we lounge on my couch eating pizza and watching action movies together. I love the way you fall asleep on my shoulder. I love your spirit and drive and, yes, your independence. You're the strongest person I know, and nothing stands in your way. Lois, Luthor doesn't know you the way I do. I don't think he really appreciates you or understands you either. He's been pretty casual about giving you a job at LNN, his news network, and distancing you from all your old friends. How often have you seen Perry or Jimmy since the Planet's demise? Yet the Planet was an important part of your life."
A shock of guilt hit Lois when she realized that Clark was right. She really had let herself lose touch with all her old friends. Why had she let Lex sweep her away on his plans and not even attempted to keep a part of her old life alive?
"I think I've come to know you better in the last year than just about anyone else in your life, and I still love you. I won't stop loving you if you marry Luthor, even if that means I had better leave. Know that no matter what choices you make, you have one person who will always love you. Unconditionally."
By the time she finished reading the letter, the tears were coming so hard that it was all she could do to make out the "Love, Clark" at the bottom.
How dare he! How dare he send this letter to her the night before her wedding and throw her entire life upside down?
Come to think of it, why had the letter confused her so much? He'd explained that he didn't trust Lex and it wasn't out of jealousy…but he'd insisted as much before.
She had to admit it, it was really the presentation that affected her. Without having him before her, watching the emotions play across his face as he angrily accused her of "getting in bed with the Devil," it was a lot easier to give his words merit. But she was marrying Lex tomorrow! She couldn't back out now.
And besides, the truth still remained. Clark might love her, but she didn't love him. Of course, he was a sweet guy and a great friend. And incredibly sexy. She flushed at the memory of seeing him shirtless.
And she could tell him anything. Well, pretty much anything. Actually, friends like Clark had been pretty rare in her life. They were usually quick to point out the flaws in Lois's character. But Clark recognized the flaws and still loved her, and even took delight in her idiosyncrasies. And he was the only partner she'd ever been able to work with, the only man who was a match for her mentally.
But that wasn't love, of course. No, she couldn't possibly love Clark. After all, she was going to marry Luthor.
Lois walked into her bedroom and stared down at her bed. Her wedding dress was lying across it, waiting to be worn the next day.
She burst into tears.
Lois stared into the mirror. White seemed to fill the reflection. White, white, and more white. The only break in the white was her face and hair, almost obscured amidst the lacey white affair.
She sniffled slightly and took a deep breath to regain control.
"Mrs. Lex Luthor," she tried out, watching her face in the reflection. "Lois Lane Luthor. Lois Luthor Lane." Her voice broke.
An image of the letter, hidden in her purse, came to her suddenly. Clark. The man who swore he loved her unconditionally.
She had no business thinking about Clark on her wedding day. She was not going to let jealousy eat into her relationship with Lex.
But she couldn't stop the words from coming out of her mouth. "Lois Lane…Kent." The name had a rightness to it, a ring that none of the others had.
She couldn't afford to be thinking about that. It was her wedding day.
The strains of Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" filled the room, and the crowd turned expectantly as Lois entered the doorway. Lois met Lex's eyes and began to walk down the aisle.
As much as she tried to blank her mind, images of Clark kept popping into it. She remembered eating Chinese food with him the day she told him not to fall for her. And that humiliating escapade where she'd fallen in lust with him on Melinda's pheromone perfume. He'd been quite the gentleman, resisting her attempts to make love with him. He'd teased her a bit after the fact, but he'd never rubbed it in her face, for which she was grateful.
So why was the thought of her attempts to seduce him suddenly making her flush?
She quickly forced the thought from her mind, only to have the memory of their stay at the Lexor's honeymoon suite creep in. Sharing things. Compromising. And how wonderful he'd looked in the morning! And that kiss! Unbidden, Lois's hand crept to her lips at the memory. His long, hard body had pressed her into the bed. But at the same time, he'd treated her with a gentleness that no man ever had. He'd treated her as if he loved her. It would be wonderful to be kissed that way for real, hands exploring each other, both delighting in their senses.
And then there was that kiss the day Clark had left the Planet. It had only been a good-bye kiss, but Lois couldn't help thinking that he'd put every bit of his regret and love into a momentary connection of their lips.
Tears came to her eyes, and Lois hurriedly blinked them away. What was she doing? She'd been fighting it for so long, she didn't know how to stop. But what she did know was…she loved Clark Kent.
The realization made her eyes sparkle as she raised them to meet Lex Luthor's. She knew what she was going to do.
It was all she could do to resist wriggling impatiently as the ceremony progressed. Finally, the archbishop neared the end of the ceremony.
"Do you, Lex, take this woman…"
Lois tuned him out. Did she hear something? She craned her neck, and almost missed her own line.
"I-I can't," she said, turning to Lex with a plea in her eyes. "Lex, I'm so sorry, but I can't."
Just then, the door flew open and Perry, flanked by Henderson and the rest of the police, burst in. Their accusations took the sparkle out of Lois's newfound revelation as they accused Lex of multiple crimes.
Lois stared in shock as her almost-husband raced out of the room insanely, followed by the police. Perry, Jimmy, and Jack escorted her from the building. As they walked out, Jimmy and Jack were babbling about their discoveries of Luthor's evildoings, but Lois couldn't keep track of what they were saying. "Where's Clark?" she asked.
"Right here," Clark said from behind them.
Lois spun around and raced towards him, throwing herself into his arms. Soon, soon she had to tell him that she loved him. But for now, she was just grateful to feel his arms around her.
Clark seemed shaky, somehow. "Are you okay?" she asked.
He nodded, and she almost thought he looked surprised.
"Look!" Jimmy yelled.
Lois and Clark shielded their eyes to see Lex balance on his balcony railing and wobble.
"Oh, no, Lex!" Lois moaned. No matter what Lex had done…she didn't want him to die.
The tiny figure of Lex tumbled and fell.
Clark struggled in her arms, mumbling, "I-I can't." As Lex neared the ground, he wrapped his arms around Lois and protectively held her head against his chest. But he couldn't protect her from hearing the thud when Lex's body hit the ground.
Lois, Clark, Jimmy, and Perry stood outside the Daily Planet building.
"I wish they'd get it over with and tear this place down," Jimmy said.
"Yep, too many memories," Perry agreed.
Lois couldn't agree. Even if it was painful to pass by and see the Planet here, a shell of its formal self, it would be ten times worse to know it was gone. To know that the place where she'd spent the best moments of her life was just a memory. To know that she and Clark would never be partners again.
She felt compelled to point out, "Most of them good."
"There's a lesson to be learned here," Perry said.
Jack grinned. "Why am I not surprised?"
"We ought to appreciate what we've got when we've got it."
Lois glanced at Clark. He was looking at the ruins of the building with an indescribable look on his face. Was her chance with Clark gone forever? The letter suddenly seemed to be burning a hole in her purse.
"You know, I've said this before," Perry said, motioning to the ruined building, "but I had the idea that Luthor got his way, even in this one thing."
"He didn't," a voice called. They all turned, to where Franklin Stern was gesturing at a truck. "Look!"
A tarp was removed from the top of the flatbed, revealing the Daily Planet globe.
Lois listened in shock as Stern explained that he'd bought the Planet and was already planning to make modernizations. Perry went off with Stern, protesting said modernizations.
Lois and Clark were left alone.
"I've never seen anything so beautiful in all my life," Clark said softly.
Lois turned, expecting to find him watching the globe with fascination. But instead, his eyes were focused on her. She blushed.
"You never gave up," she said. "On the Planet, on your friends, on me."
Clark shook his head. "I couldn't. You've named almost everything in the world that's precious to me."
Maybe it was time. "I don't think I've ever — will ever — meet anyone quite like you."
"Lois…" Clark started.
"Clark…" Lois said at the same time.
They laughed slightly.
"Let me go first, please," Lois said urgently.
"No, not this time."
Lois's stomach suddenly tightened, and she had the sudden sensation that she *must* go first.
"Lois, I have to say this," he started.
Lois shrugged mentally. Only one way to shut a guy up. She leaned forward and raised herself on tiptoes, touching her lips to his.
She felt Clark's startled gasp beneath her mouth, but she only slid her arms around his neck and clung to him. After a moment, Clark wrapped his arms around her and held her closely.
He was kissing her back! Lois was momentarily triumphant until the waves of delight at his return kiss coursed through her, setting her body afire and weakening her limbs. Just before she lost control entirely, she gently broke the kiss and stepped away from him. He stared back at her, a slightly dazed look on his face.
"Now will you let me go first?" Lois asked.
He continued to stare dumbly.
"Thanks. Clark, I know this probably isn't the best time to say this, but it has to be said. I'm sorry for what I said to you in the park that day."
He hung his head. "Look, Lois, don't apologize, it's —"
"Let me finish," Lois insisted. "Or I'll kiss you again." She smiled. "Clark, I hurt you, and I'm sorry. Sorrier than you'll ever know. Because the thing is, I was wrong."
"Wrong?" he asked, jerking his head up.
"Wrong about what I felt for you," she said. "Clark, ever since I read your letter, I've been unable to get you out of my mind. I was actually walking down the aisle thinking about you, about my memories of you. And I realized that it was wrong to marry Lex because…I'm in love with you."
His eyes were glowing, but at the same time, a shadow of wariness marred his pleased look. She hurried to dispel it.
"I've been in love with you for a while, I think," she said. "It just took me a long time to believe it because I was scared. Loving someone gives them the power to hurt you. I've seen it happen over and over in my family. Lex couldn't ever have that power over me. No matter what he did, I'd never feel the same sense of betrayal I would if somebody who loved me turned against me."
She reached out to take his hand. "But reading your letter made me realize that you really do love unconditionally. I've seen the way you act with your family. I've seen the way you treat me. I know you'll never betray me. And the truth is that I love you."
"Am I allowed to speak now?" Clark asked impishly.
Lois nodded and smiled.
"Lois, I love you too. I've loved you since the beginning. But…I'm lost. What letter?"
Puzzled, Lois took the letter from her purse and held it up to him. He stared at it with a bemused look. "I did write this, but I never meant to send it."
Lois widened her eyes. "Then it isn't true?"
Clark shook his head vehemently. "No, every word of it is true, Lois. I don't care how it got to you. Lois, I thought my heart was going to break when you were marrying Luthor."
She touched his arm with her free hand. "But I didn't. I said I couldn't."
"And for that I'll always be thankful."
"Wanna walk me home?" she asked coyly.
"That depends. Are you going to stop me from interrupting a few times along the way?"
She laughed. "If you're good, Farmboy."
Author's notes: I was working at the public library one day when a book arrived with an envelope inside it. I grabbed the letter and asked my supervisor what we should do with it. She said we might as well just send it. However, it turned out not to have a stamp, so she looked up the return addressee in the phone book and called them. They said to throw the letter away. This got me to thinking, what if we had sent the letter, and what if the person who wrote it hadn't meant it to be sent? I just had to adapt the story to Lois and Clark. I hope you enjoy it.