By Helen Gray <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: June 2002
Summary: Set right after Lois accepted Luthor's proposal. What if Clark didn't fly off to the Arctic and Lois came after him to save their "friendship"? Lois and Clark delve into their deeper selves to discover what they have been feeling all along.
Authors note: Well to start with, it does feel strange to write 'Author's note' when referring to me :) Anyway, this story starts after Lois has accepted Lex's proposal, however, I've fiddled with the time frame a bit, Lois accepted Lex's proposal in the afternoon and this story is set assuming that Clark came home after seeing her accept rather than flying to the arctic circle. I'm assuming also, that there was some sort of public announcement on T.V. because otherwise I'd have to deal with Lois wanting to know *how* Clark knew, I guess I'm just lazy <g>
I'd just like to take this oppurtunity to thank my fantastic BR, Laura Davies, the lovely people on Zoom's MBs for commenting, and, of course, my wonderful GE, Mela. Thank you!
Clark couldn't believe it, Lois had not only rejected him, she had rejected him in favor of first Superman, then *Luthor*. Not quite sure if this was the right direction and not able to fly straight even if it was; Clark flew unsteadily home. Once there, he blindly spun into his civvies then stumbled into his bedroom. He collapsed on the bed, crying his heart out. The sound was dreadful to hear, it was the sound of his heart breaking. There had been other times over the past year and a half when he'd despaired of ever getting Lois to notice him as more than a friend, but there had always been *some* hope. Now he knew that he'd lost her forever, there was no hope left. He cried for all the times they'd had together. He cried for all the times that could have been. He cried for losing her friendship. He cried for the simple things he was going to miss like laughing with her and all those silly things they'd talk about. He cried for pushing her away when she became interested in Luthor. He cried for not being there as a friend. Most of all, he cried because he loved her and she'd rejected him for Luthor, the most cold-hearted, evil man he knew. He cried until there were no tears left. As his sobs subsided, he still felt he like was crying on the inside, the grief was more painful than kryptonite could ever be.
"God, Lois, how could you do this to me?" he cried out in pain, "Can't you see? He's *using* you, he doesn't love you!" At this he started crying again, even though he'd been convinced earlier that he had no more tears left. "He wants to change you, then he wants to lock you up as some sort of *trophy* wife, can't you see that?!? I *love* you Lois, just as you are," he cried, "I would do *anything* for you. I'd even *die* for you, why can't you love me back? Why?!?" he called out in despair, collapsing into racking sobs, "God, I love you soo much, there is not *one* tiny little thing I don't love about you! I love your intelligence, your beauty. I love the way you babble when you're excited or nervous. I love the way you always persevere even when it seems everyone's against you. Most of all, I love the way you confide in me; the way you've let me into your life; the way you come to me for comfort and let me hold you when you're scared. But now I don't have that anymore and I don't know what to do!" bursting into fresh tears again, he sobbed, "What happened Lois, why did you accept, why can't you love me, how could you do this to me?!?"
Unbeknownst to him, soon after he'd stumbled into his bedroom, Lois had arrived outside his apartment, as soon as she'd heard him crying she'd fumbled for the spare key and let herself in. Shocked by what she heard, she'd stayed rooted to the floor. Now she slid down the wall and lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. <What have I done? I've rejected the only man who has ever loved me completely for who I am. I already knew that Lex didn't love me, so why am I marrying him? Was he worth this hurt it was obviously causing Clark?> She laughed bitterly, <of course he wasn't, how could I even contemplate that? Nothing was worth this hurt, *nothing.*> Then something Clark had cried out floated back to her,
"I would do *anything* for you, I'd even *die* for you." that's when she realised, *she'd* do anything for *him*. He was more important to her than anyone or anything else had ever been in her life. She cared for him deeply.
< For God's sake!> she thought <Why can't I even admit it to myself? It's not as if he'd ever hurt me, I know that, I've just heard him confess how much I mean to him and he doesn't even know I'm here. He obviously *does* love me that much, there's no other reason he'd say that. I don't just care for him, I *love* him. > After admitting it to herself she felt a wave of warmth overcome her, as though a burden had just been lifted off her shoulders. Then she realised she had to go comfort Clark, here he was completely crying his heart out and she was arguing with herself. Standing up she ran into Clark's bedroom. She was astonished to see him lying on his bed, sobbing as though the world was going to end. <His world probably had> she acknowledged. Hesitantly she stepped towards him. When he made no effort to acknowledge her presence, she knelt beside the bed and carefully tapped him on the shoulder, trying not to startle him. His head jerked up and, upon seeing it was Lois, his face lit up for all of one second, then he remembered. Mumbling
"Go away", he lowered his head again. Still kneeling, Lois reached out and put her arm around his shoulders. Angrily, he shrugged her arm off and sat up,
"Why won't you just leave me alone?" he asked, looking pointedly at her engagement ring, his voice harsh. This didn't daunt Lois though, she yanked the offending ring off her finger and threw it across the room,
"I can't leave you alone" she said softly, "Not when you're hurting like this, not when I love you."
"I don't want to—what? What did you just say?" at first his voice was hopeful then the harsh tone took over, "What are you playing at Lois?"
"I'm not playing Clark, I love you, I mean it. I came over here to apologize if I hurt you earlier and to try and regain your friendship. When I heard you crying it cut through my heart and soul like nothing else ever has or ever could. I realized that I'd do anything for you too Clark, because I love you. I *don't* love Lex, I never have. I was flattered by his interest and I thought, well, if I didn't love him then he couldn't ever hurt me. What I'm really confused about is Superman, I still have feelings for him too. Not because of his powers as he seems to think, but because he is a good, decent, caring man. I've never thought of myself as fickle before but now I don't know, I can't see how it is possible to love two men at once, maybe that's part of the reason I started dating Lex. Seeing how much pain I've caused you today broke my heart. I don't know if you can ever forgive me, I don't know if *I* can ever forgive me."
Clark just stared at her, thoughts rushing through his mind, <What's going on? Is this really happening, or is it just a dream?> he thought bitterly, then realized, <there's no way a dream could be this real, hurt so much.> Dazed, Clark looked across the room to where Lois had thrown her engagement ring, <yes it's real,> he breathed a sigh of relief. <But why had she said that she loved me? Why hadn't she said that before when I poured out my heart to her? Why had she said it now, was it just a way of regaining my friendship?> After all, he knew Lois, she wasn't the sort of person that would come out and openly admit her feelings to anyone without a reason. She was too afraid of being hurt. Recently he'd begun to suspect that the reason Lois fawned over Superman was because he was unattainable, he couldn't have a relationship with her so he couldn't hurt her. He also suspected that that was the reason she'd started dating Luthor, he was pretty sure she didn't love him. <Maybe that was why she'd accepted his proposal, *because* she didn't love him, that way he couldn't hurt her> he reasoned. <It's probably the same now with me, by saying that she loves me, she'll keep me as a friend. I can never hurt her because she didn't care enough. Why else would she say that?>
<Maybe because she *does* love you> a little voice intruded
<Yeah right> he scorned <that's not true and you know it. If she loved me then she would have told me how she felt after I'd bared my heart to her. Furthermore, she wouldn't have accepted Luthor's proposal if she loved me instead would she?> he tried to squash the stirrings of hope inside him, <she *doesn't* love me and she never will.>
<You answered those questions yourself, Lois is scared of being hurt. She wouldn't admit to her feelings because if she did she'd be vulnerable. She came here hoping you'd be friends again, she admitted to you that she didn't love Lex. Why would she say that? Because, duh, she *loves* you. I'd bet she heard every single thing you said just now. She admitted that she loved you to stop you hurting this badly and what are you doing? You're doubting her, she bared her heart to you just like you did to her earlier and now you're rejecting her. C'mon, you *know* how that feels. Give her a chance, that's all you wanted, a chance. You should at least give her that.>
Waves of guilt washed over Clark and doubled as he looked at Lois, what he saw shook him and her last words came floating back to him,
"I don't know if you can ever forgive me, I don't know if *I* can ever forgive me." While he'd been debating Lois' true intentions, she'd taken his silence as agreement with what she'd said. <All I'd had to do> he realised, <was look at her, it was obvious that my apparently unforgiving attitude has hurt her badly.> Fresh tears ran down his face as he saw her curled in an almost fetal position at the end of his bed, shaking silently. Realizing fully that she *did* love him, he also realised that she must be going through a pain similar to his earlier. She must have heard everything he'd said, she must think that she'd hurt him so deeply that he'd never forgive her. She *had* hurt him by accepting Luthor's proposal, it was as if she'd plunged burning hot shards of kryptonite through his heart. Looking at her though, he knew that the guilt she was clearly feeling was just as bad as his earlier heart- wrenching pain. Knowing only too well what that felt like, he realized that he had to stop her feeling like this, regardless of how he had felt earlier.
Lois curled tightly by the edge of the bed and started to cry quietly, she couldn't believe it, Clark loved her so much and she'd hurt him more than she could ever imagine. <For what?> she asked herself, <why did I do this?> Bitterly, she replied, <I did it for my own sake, I didn't give a moment's thought to how Clark was feeling, I ignored my feelings for him because I'm afraid of getting hurt. Huh!> she thought, <as if the pain of rejection would have been worse for me than what Clark is feeling now. Not only did I reject him, I then accepted Lex's proposal without even asking Clark why he hated Lex so much. I haven't given him a chance. I heard him earlier, he hadn't simply been crying, he'd been sobbing his heart out as if he was never going to be happy again. He'd confessed that I am the only woman that he had ever, *could* ever love. He'd opened his heart to me and I'd rejected him. I tried to be kind but all I did was further bury spikes in his heart by repeatedly saying that I love him like a brother. Now, now I've come back here, wanting to be friends, because *I* want to salvage our friendship. I really haven't given a thought to how he's been feeling. Now I have the audacity to claim that I love him. It's true, I do love him, but why couldn't I have admitted it earlier. I let my pride get in the way. I know that he loves me so what did I have to fear? More than that, I know Clark, yet I couldn't trust him with my feelings? That's absurd, I trust him with everything else. He must really hate and despise me now, he'd probably rather I was married to Lex so he didn't have to ever see me again. Even I despise myself, how could I do that to the one man that I really love? The only man that has ever loved me back? I can never forgive myself, knowing that Clark, someone who rarely lets his emotions show, is in this much pain. It's unbearable. Knowing that I've caused it makes me wish it was me hurting this badly. In a way it is> she thought bitterly, <I'm part of him and wherever he goes he'll always take a part of me with him, my heart. In fact, the pain I'm feeling, seeing him like this is almost as bad.> It was the sort of pain that swept over her and blanked out any other thoughts or feelings, numbing her completely. <Staying here is probably the worst thing I can do now, he must be in even more pain with me here as a constant reminder.> Standing up shakily, she mumbled,
"I…I'm going now, I know you must hate me from the depths of your heart and to be honest, I hate myself that much too, I'll see myself out. Don't worry, I'll never contact you again." she said the last bit in a rush before she lost her nerve. <It's going to be so hard to force myself to keep out of his life, but I knew it's what he wants. I'll just have to abide by that. It'll be my punishment for all that I've done to him.> she thought masochistically. Clark had been watching her cry, aching to reach out and comfort her. However, he figured that it would probably be better for her to cry out the guilt and everything else that she was feeling. Startled by this declaration, he knew that if he didn't stop her now he'd never see her again. Immediately he started speaking, not knowing what he was going to say to convince her.
"No Lois, don't go, please don't leave me" There was a pleading tone in his voice that Lois hadn't heard before but it ripped through her heart just the same. Slowly she turned around to see him standing up to face her. "Lois, please don't blame yourself, this is *not* your fault—"
"Oh yeah?" she responded, "How is it not my fault Clark? Of course it's my fault. If I'd listened to you, if I'd paid attention to my feelings then none of this would have happened. I trust you Clark, of course I do, but still I ignored your suspicions about Lex. I don't know what to believe anymore, an hour ago I would have said that Lex is a good guy but I heard you earlier." She winced at the mention of the pain she had heard and knew was still inside him, "I thought you were just jealous Clark, but you obviously believe that Lex is evil. If I'd bothered to pay attention to how I feel about you then I wouldn't have even thought about seeing Lex, we'd probably be going out by now. Now that just isn't possible. No matter how you try and hide it Clark, you must really hate me. I've completely destroyed your happiness by saying 'Yes' to Lex and by rejecting you when I really love you." Tears pouring down her face, she turned to go once more, unwilling to say anything else. Suddenly she felt a hand on her arm, "Lois, look at me" Clark's gentle voice came from behind her. Once more she turned around to face him, stunned to see fresh tears on his cheeks too. "Lois" he said with an intensity she hadn't heard before, "I *love* you. Nothing will *ever* change that. There is no reason to hate yourself or blame yourself for all of this. Maybe if I'd let you know how I feel before now than things could have been different, maybe not. The thing is Lois, we will never know because that's past now, the future is what we have to worry about. Answer me this Lois, did you intentionally mean to hurt me?" Shocked that he could ask such a thing, Lois answered with a passionate,
"Exactly Lois, you didn't *mean* to hurt me, therefore it wasn't your fault. Answer me one other thing Lois, do you love me?"
"Of course, there is *nothing* that would make me stop loving you."
"Then we'll get through this Lois, as long as we love each other we can do anything. Being together is stronger than either one of us alone." Startled into fresh tears, Lois blinked,
"That's beautiful Clark." she sniffed, "How do you always know what to say to make me feel better? You even do it without me saying I'm upset." Pulled into Clark's warm, comforting embrace, Lois sighed happily. Yesterday she'd thought she was happy, she'd thought she was in love. After all, Lex had proposed to her and she'd accepted, that was supposed to be one of the happiest days of her life. She was supposed to love Lex. Now, she *knew* she was happy and she *knew* she was in love. She finally understood the meaning of love, it wasn't just an empty emotion anymore. There were no two ways about it, she loved Clark and he loved her. That made her happier than she'd ever thought was possible. Not caring what was going to happen tomorrow or the day after, Lois settled back and relaxed completely in Clark's arms. All that mattered to her was the here and now and now she was here with Clark, anything and everything else paled into insignificance.