By Tank Wilson <email@example.com>
Submitted: June, 2003
Summary: Honesty turns out to be the best of policies in this revelation vignette.
I came across this story while going through my hard drive the other day. It was one of several that I hadn't gotten around to sending into the archive yet. I can't even say which message board it first appeared on, not that it really matters. This is just a small piece of fluff, and though the title claims no angst, I guess you might be able to argue that there was a tiny bit, but only a few hours worth. Neither Lois, nor Clark suffered much in this vignette.
As always, all characters are trademarked and copyrighted to their respective owners. Any and all additional feedback is welcome at TankW1@aol.com.
Clark, as Superman, found himself flying slowly toward Lois Lane's apartment. He'd been doing a lot of thinking of late and had come to a decision. He was confident that it was the right one, though he suspected some might think he was being a bit hasty.
He'd only been Superman for a few months now, but already he was noticing a disturbing trend. He knew that Lois was infatuated with his Superman persona, but he hadn't realized how obvious to others it was becoming. As Clark, he and Lois had gotten closer. He would even say that they were a bit more than just partners. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that they were developing an actual friendship. But there was still no doubt to whom her heart belonged.
He'd been at a fire earlier that evening and when he had tried to leave a reporter for the Star had rushed up to him asking for an interview. Being somewhat tired he'd tried to beg off and made ready to depart. The reporter in a fit of pique had made a spurious comment about Superman only giving quotes to his 'girlfriend' Lois Lane.
Clark had created the identity of Superman for two main reasons. It gave him a way to use his special gifts to help people and still maintain something resembling a normal life. The other reason was to protect those he cared about. He knew that if it was known that Superman was Clark Kent, that his folks and his friends would be in constant danger. Criminals wouldn't think twice about using his loved ones to manipulate and try to control his actions. But he also knew that a secret identity wouldn't necessarily be enough. If Superman were thought to have 'friends', then those people would also become targets and would have their lives endangered.
He'd tried to affect a remote and professional attitude while in the suit, but presumably he hadn't been entirely successful. Lois' hero worship of him had brought attention to her. He knew that it was partially his fault. It was so hard to hide his real feelings for Lois whenever she was around, no matter what guise he was in. If he had just been more serious and remote when she first encountered him perhaps he could have cooled her ardor before it had become noticeable to others. Things had to change. That was why he had decided to visit Lois tonight. He would tell her, for her own good, that they needed to distance themselves from each other. If anything ever happened to her because of him, he'd never forgive himself.
Lois wandered around her apartment. She was restless. She knew that she was being foolish but she just couldn't get Superman out of her mind. She had spent the last few years wrapping herself in her career and a determination to never let a man make a fool of her ever again. Once again, thoughts of her betrayal by Claude and what a dupe she had been made her cringe. After that fiasco, she swore that would never happen to her again. Men just couldn't be trusted.
Of course, she never expected someone like Superman to come into her life. He was so far above a normal man as to make any comparison ridiculous. It wasn't just his powers, though those were pretty spectacular. Lois wanted to think that she was attracted to the incredible goodness and compassion she saw in the Metropolis Marvel. It didn't hurt that he was also one of the most gorgeous men she had ever known. If only…
Lois' musings were interrupted by a gentle tapping on her window. It startled her since her apartment wasn't on the ground floor. It took a few moments for her to calm her jitters and realize who must be outside her window. It wasn't the first time that he had come to see her, but having someone knock on your upper floor windows took some getting used to.
She rushed over to the window and quickly unlatched it. "Superman! Come in." Lois backed away enough to allow him to enter, a shy look on her face. "What brings you here?"
"Hello, Lois, I'm sorry to be bothering you so late, but I felt we should talk." Clark gazed around the apartment.
"Oh, you aren't bothering me at all, Superman." Lois caught his almost nervous-seeming glances, and figured out what he was looking for. "If you're wondering, Lucy isn't here. She's still visiting her friend in California. I think she may be considering moving out there."
Lois walked over to her couch and sat. She directed Superman to follow. He took a seat in a chair opposite the couch. He definitely seemed a little ill at ease.
"So, what did you want to talk to me about?" She could see that he didn't know how to go about this. She was suddenly getting a bad feeling about why he was here. His obvious nervousness was beginning to make her nervous. "Just say it."
Clark allowed himself a big sigh. "Lois, I'm afraid that we are going to have to distance ourselves from each other more."
"What?" Lois was confused.
Clark clenched and unclenched his fists. "I mean, I'm going to have to give other reporters equal time. I can't hang around the Planet so much. I just can't be seen with you so often."
Lois bit her lip. "Why? I thought we were…friends?"
Clark frowned as he leaned his head back and closed his eyes momentarily. He'd known this was going to be hard, and it was. It was clear that he'd hurt Lois by his statement. He took another deep breath. He had to make her understand that this was not something that he necessarily wanted, but something that was necessary for her safety.
"Lois, Superman can't have friends. Not close ones, anyway." He stood and paced. "I've thought about this, and I can't let others come to harm just because they know me."
Lois stared at her idol, bewildered. "I don't understand."
"If anyone is perceived to be close to me, they will become targets. As you know, I'm pretty difficult to harm, but that won't stop the criminal element from trying." He stopped pacing and faced her. "The only way they can get back at me is by striking at those I care about. I can't let that happen, but I can't guard my friends twenty-four hours a day. I can't be everywhere. So the only option is to give the impression that I have no friends or loved ones." Clark gave her a pleading look. "Surely you can see that?"
Lois sucked in a gasp. Her heart twisted in her chest. Superman had as much as admitted that he cared for her and it gave her a warm feeling to know that her feelings weren't completely unrequited. But then, she was just as quickly chilled by the message he was trying to convey to her. Superman couldn't have acknowledged friends…or loved ones. She saw the logic to his argument, but she wasn't about to give in that easily.
"But no one would have to know," she tried to answer.
Clark shook his head as he sat back down in the chair. "Lois, half of Metropolis is already calling you 'Superman's girlfriend'. You have to admit that you haven't exactly been subtle when it comes to your feelings." Clark ignored her blush as he continued. "Already, you and Clark were thrown out of a plane just because some nut thought that you might know how to contact me. Not to mention all that trouble you had out in Smallville."
Lois bent her head forward, allowing her to hide behind a curtain of hair as his words washed over her. It was all true. It was all so horribly true. But how could she just give him up? She had never known anyone like him before, and she doubted that she ever would again. It would be different if he didn't like her at all, or was indifferent to women in general. Though Lois wasn't sure if even that would dampen her feelings for this selfless man.
"It's not fair. I can't just turn off the way I feel about you." Lois' voice held a plaintive note to it.
"Lois, you don't even know me."
Lois narrowed her eyes and stared right into his face. "Yes, I think I do. You are a person who cares more about others than you do yourself. You are generous and caring. For all that your wonderful powers let you do miraculous things, it's those aspects about you that aren't part of your special abilities that actually make you so special." Lois had tears running down her cheeks. "How can I not lo…er, be attracted to you?"
Clark had been expecting this. It wasn't that different from the way he felt about Lois. But the fact remained that as Superman he couldn't show her that emotion, nor could he allow her to show hers. He was silent for several moments as he stared at the hopeful look on Lois' face. It hadn't been his plan when he first arrived, but now he decided that Lois deserved to know more. Not that many weeks ago he would have been reluctant to share this with her, but not now. He knew he could trust Lois.
"Lois, what do you think I do when I'm not helping out in emergencies?"
Superman's question took Lois by surprise. "I'm not sure. I guess I never thought about it." Lois' brow furrowed as she finally gave it some thought. "I guess you go somewhere and…have a life?"
Clark smiled at Lois' confusion. "That's close." Clark stood again and wandered over to the window and looked out into the night. "Lois, I love being able to help people, but it's not something I can do twenty-four/seven. That's just not possible. It would be too much. I would lose my sanity."
Lois nodded. "Of course not. You'd need to get away, to relax and recharge yourself, so to speak. Even doctors, policemen, and emergency services people aren't on duty all the time. They have to have their downtime too. Time to be with friends and family…" Lois' hands flew to her mouth. "Omigod, do you have a family? Do you have someone — special?"
Clark came over, sat next to Lois, and took her hand in his. "No, nothing like that, but I do have wonderful parents who raised me, and a life I try to keep separate so I can have that slice of normalcy." Clark smiled as he saw how confused Lois was again. "Lois, I've only been Superman for a short while. He is a disguise I came up with in order to use these incredible powers I've been gifted with. But, even if I'm not sure of where I came from, I do know who I am. I am the son of two wonderful people who raised me in a loving home as if I were their very own. Those non-super qualities you named that you claim make me attractive to you? My parents are responsible for those."
Lois stared at the hand that held hers before she met his eyes again. "So, you're saying that you really are just some ordinary guy like — Clark, or Jimmy, and Superman is just an act?"
Clark shook his head. "Not an act as much as camouflage. These incredible powers are a part of me. The flashy suit and the formal manner allow me to use those powers to help others without anyone making the connection to who I really am."
"But, why don't you want people to know who you really are?"
"Lois, think about it. It's one of the reasons why I'm here, tonight. As an ordinary guy, I can go to a ballgame, or play cards on a Saturday night without any fear of being mobbed. I can have friends and loved ones, and not have to worry if someone will try to harm them or use them against me."
Lois wiped at the dried tears with the back of her hand. "The truly sad thing is — I understand, and I guess I even have to agree with you. You have to isolate yourself from everyone, show the bad guys no weakness. But what about *you*? Don't you want to have love and companionship? Don't you want to have what everyone else says they want?"
Clark smiled a sad smile at her. "Of course I do. And who knows, maybe someday I will have those things as myself. Perhaps someday, I will find the woman who can like me for who I am, but who can also accept my need to help others with what I can do."
Lois stared down at her feet. "Lucky woman," Lois mumbled to herself.
Clark reached over and tilted her head up so he could meet her eyes. "What about you, Lois? Don't you want those things also?"
Lois pulled away and stared at her feet again. "I don't know. I thought I did…once. But I found that men weren't to be trusted, so I decided that I didn't need them to be successful…or happy." She sighed. "I think that's why I'm so attracted to you. I know that you are the only man who isn't like that. You wouldn't just use me. You are — are the perfect man."
Clark laughed softly. "Oh, I'm anything but perfect, Lois. I make mistakes, but I like to think that I can learn from them. I may not always do the right thing, but I try." Clark smiled. "But I know you have friends, Lois. What about the people at the Daily Planet?"
Lois shrugged. "I have colleagues at the Planet. Oh, Perry and I are pretty close, and Jimmy is kind of like a little brother to me, but really the closest thing I have to a friend is Clark."
Clark had to force his face not to smile. "Clark?"
"Yeah, Clark." Lois shot Superman a sharp look of warning. "But don't you tell him that. I'm still in the process of training him in as my partner, and I can't have him thinking I'm going soft on him. He's still pretty naive when it comes to the ways of the city, but he's got good instincts, he writes well…and he's a pretty decent guy." Lois shrugged. "People just seem to like him. I know he kind of likes me, though I'm not sure why, considering the way I treat him sometimes." Lois was almost surprised by her own confession. "I guess I like him."
"So not all men are vile creatures?" He smiled at her shrug.
It was Lois' turn to be silent for several moments while she thought about all that Superman had told her tonight. Finally, she turned her head so she could see his eyes. "I guess that means that this is a goodbye of sorts?"
It was Superman who shrugged now. "Not really a goodbye. Let's just say that our relationship needs to be kept on a more professional basis."
Lois sighed. "I'm not sure I can." She waved off his attempt to add something. She didn't need to hear it. "Oh, I understand what you've been saying, and I'll try to do as you ask." She turned away again for a moment before she turned to face him again. "I don't suppose you want to tell me who you really are?" She noted the suddenly wary look in his eyes. "I mean, then we could be free to be friends and you wouldn't have to worry about me being in any danger."
Clark stood. "Just the knowledge could be dangerous." He saw her face fall and his heart went out to her. He knew that he had just taken back some of the trust that he'd given her earlier. "But I will think about it." He made his way over to her window. "I'd best be going." He stepped on the sill. "I'm sorry if I've hurt you in any way, but I'm glad you understand."
"Sure." It was all Lois could bring herself to say. She reached out and touched his chest, then turned away from him. "Goodbye." She felt a slight breeze and she knew he was gone.
She wiped away a stray tear as she turned back to close the window. She stared out into the star-filled sky for several minutes before she finally headed for her bedroom to turn in for the night.
Lois was in early and sat at her desk at the Daily Planet staring at her computer screen. The words on the screen were all about the latest projected budget shortfalls that the city council was going to have to deal with this fiscal year. It was the story that she and Clark were supposed to be working on, but her mind was elsewhere.
She had been devastated when Superman had come over last night to make his pronouncement. She had spent some time after he'd gone crying into her pillow, but the morning had brought her a different perspective. Her heart didn't ache as much as she thought it would. She had begun to realize that she really didn't know much about Metropolis' resident hero. She wondered if she really had been attracted to the fantasy that Superman represented. In a sense, he wasn't real, he was this ideal, this perfect man. And perfect men couldn't hurt you.
Lois sighed as she tried to refocus on the information on her screen. She wasn't successful. What it came down to was, did Lois actually want a man in her life? Did her lusting after Superman indicate that she really did long for what a loving, committed relationship supposedly could give her? She knew she wasn't sure that she even believed in love. Her parents claimed to love each other but that turned out to be a disaster. Perry and Alice loved each other, but there were going through rocky times.
Suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by the chime of the elevator opening onto the newsroom floor. She glanced up and saw Clark step out. They exchanged smiles as Clark made his way over to the break area for some coffee. Seeing Clark brought his parents to mind. She didn't know much about them. She had only met them that one time and she sensed that they were very much in love. They apparently had a Norman Rockwell type of marriage according to what Clark had told her. Also, she had to acknowledge that her Aunt Ruth and Uncle Tom seemed to have a good thing going for the last twenty some years.
Lois had to admit to herself that for some it must work, and for some it didn't. What she had to figure out was, did she think it could work for her. Did she even want it to? Was there some guy out there she could trust not to just use her for his own pleasure, someone she could respect yet would treat her as an equal? Relationships, even ones that worked, took effort. They took a level of commitment to the other person that Lois wasn't sure she was able, or willing to give.
She watched Clark quite closely as he came back down to the bullpen floor, two cups of coffee in his hand. She knew that one of them was for her, and that he knew just how she liked it. He set the cup on her desk and glanced at her screen.
"What are we working on so early this morning, Lois?"
If there was any man, outside of Superman, that Lois had ever met that just might be someone she could trust with her feelings, it was probably Clark. Over the last couple of months, she'd found herself opening up to him more than she had to anyone ever before. There was something about him that just invited trust. Lois had to admit that during the heat wave crisis, she'd been stunned by Clark's decision to leave. The thought of losing him as her partner and friend had really upset her. She remembered commenting that she wasn't sure who'd she miss the most, Clark or Superman. That had to say something, but she wasn't sure just what. Lois frowned as she struggled with a decision she felt she needed to make.
Her attention was drawn to her partner as she realized that he'd been talking to her. "Clark?" she asked a bit hesitantly. "Are you doing anything tonight?"
She noticed a wary look come over Clark's face. She almost smiled as she imagined what he was thinking. He probably thought that she wanted him to paint her kitchen or something. The amazing thing was, if she asked him to, he probably would.
"No — nothing special." His voice betrayed his suspicion.
Lois paused for a beat before she spoke. "Well, there's a new play that recently opened downtown that I'd like to see. If I can get the tickets would you like to go with me?"
A sly smile creased Clark's face. "Why, Lois, are you asking me out on a date?"
Lois rolled her eyes. "No…yes — I don't know." Lois sighed, a little irritation creeping into her voice. "I guess you could say that it would be sort of like a date."
Clark grinned. "I would love to…but I think there is something you should know about me first."
Lois groaned. "Oh, what now!"
All sorts of dire thoughts vied for dominance in Lois' mind. 'Great!' she thought, now Clark was going to tell her something that would just prove that he was just like all other men. She just couldn't believe her luck.
Clark glanced around and noticed that several of the staff were starting to come in and the desks near theirs were starting to fill up. Clark reached down and grabbed Lois' hand. He pulled her to her feet and led her into the conference room. It was a spur of the moment decision, but it felt right.
Lois frowned at her partner's actions. "Clark, what is going on here?"
Clark shushed her and, still holding her hand, he stuck it up against his chest.
"Clark, what are you doing?"
He just smiled at her and forced her hand past the buttons on his shirt.
Lois was bewildered by Clark's actions. At first, she tried to pull her hand away, but couldn't break his grip. Then, when she expected to come into contact with his bare chest, or at least a T-shirt, as he forced her hand past his dress shirt, she was surprised. It didn't feel like any undershirt she'd ever handled. Also, she ran up against some sort of embroidery. Her curiosity getting the better of her, she used her other hand to pull the white shirt apart. Her eyes grew wide as she saw a blue tunic, and a familiar red and yellow emblem where an undershirt should have been.
She tore her eyes away from the shirt and fastened them onto Clark's. She could see the mischievous glint in them. "Clark?" Her heart began to beat faster.
"Yes, Lois?" he answered with a grin.
"Were you at my place last night?"
"Why, yes, Lois, I was." Clark couldn't stop the grin from forming.
Lois took in a long, shaky breath. She stared into Clark's eyes for several moments, then she reached around the back of his neck and pulled his head down to hers. She gave him a quick, gentle kiss. "Thank you."
Clark's grin turned into a full-blown toothy smile. "You're welcome, Lois. Does this mean that you still want to go out with me?"
Lois returned his smile, tooth for tooth. "I suppose."