By Tank Wilson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: June, 2003
Summary: If you took soulmates and destiny out of the romance, what might the future have been for our heroes? This vignette explores the possibilities.
I have to admit that this wasn't one of the more popular shorts I've ever written when I first posted this on the boards way back when. The gentle readers are generally of a mind that Lois and Clark's love would and should be able to conquer all. But take the mystical, soul-mates aspect out of the equation, make their love parallel the more common and garden variety love that we are all familiar with in the real world; what then? This vignette explores one possibility, but definitely not the only one.
As always, all characters are trademarked and copyrighted to their respective owners. Any and all feedback is welcome at TankW1@aol.com
"Auntie Lois!" The little bundle of energy that Lois called a nephew came rushing into her office.
"Hey, Sammy, what's up?"
Lois smiled at the grinning little boy as he hugged her leg. Lois glanced up to see her sister, Lucy, step through the door. Lucy leaned against the door jamb. She seemed worn out, but then it was quite a chore trying to keep up with her exuberant five-year old.
The little boy looked up at his favorite aunt. "We went to see Grampa Sam today. Did you know that he saved Sooperman's life once?"
Lois grinned and tousled her nephew's hair. "Yes I did. I was there. Some bad people made Superman real sick, but your Grandpa was able to make him well again." Lois disentangled herself from the little boy. "Did he tell you that story?"
Sammy nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah."
Lucy came over and took her son's hand. "Sammy, why don't you go and watch the men film that commercial with all those cats and dogs." Lucy nodded in the direction of the sound stage visible through the window in Lois' office.
"Okay." Sammy ran off.
"Remember, don't say anything. Just watch from a distance." Lucy called out to the retreating form.
Lois sat back down at her desk as Lucy took the chair opposite. "So, how's Dad doing?"
Lucy shrugged. "Pretty good. He still misses Mom a lot. I'm not sure he'll ever get used to out-living her."
"Yeah, I guess that can be tough." Lois sighed. "Especially since it took them so long to get back together."
Lucy cocked her head and fixed Lois with a thoughtful stare. "So, how's my big sister, the television news producer, doing?"
"Can't complain." Lois shrugged in return. "It's not the newspaper business, but since no one reads newspapers anymore, it really was the only way left to inform the public."
"So, nobody reads newspapers anymore?" Lucy laughed as she pointed to the copy of the Daily Planet lying on Lois' large mahogany desk.
Lois grinned in return. "Well, almost nobody."
Suddenly a flash of color, on the TV monitors which adorned the walls of Lois' office, captured the attention of the Lane sisters. It was coverage of another Superman rescue. This time the Man of Steel was pushing a crippled ocean liner into a dry dock in Metropolis Harbor to the cheers of the grateful passengers and the crew. Lucy noticed the wistful smile on Lois' face.
"He's still pretty amazing, isn't he?" Lucy said, as she continued to watch her sister.
Lois nodded. "Oh yeah." She blushed when she noticed Lucy watching her reaction to the screen. "But then, what do you expect? He's Superman."
Lucy glanced again at the screen then turned back to Lois. "You know, there was a time, years ago, shortly after he arrived on the scene, that I actually thought that you might wind up as Superman's girlfriend."
Lois gave Lucy a look of bemusement. "Really?"
"Yeah, but I soon realized how ridiculous that would be."
Lois' new expression was not quite as amused. "Really."
Lucy blushed in embarrassment. "No, I don't mean that. I just mean that I came to understand that Superman could never have a relationship with anyone. Not a real one anyway." Lucy quickly checked to see if Lois had forgiven her little slip. "Imagine what it would be like to date the idol of millions. You could never depend on him being able to be there for things. Even if you were out somewhere together, he'd probably have to leave you at a moment's notice to go off and rescue someone. Superman belongs to the world. I don't know many women who would enjoy sharing her 'man' with the rest of the world."
Lois was biting her lower lip. "I agree with you completely, Luce."
Lucy, nodding, continued, not picking up on Lois' sudden melancholy. "That's why I was so thrilled when you and Clark finally hooked up." Lucy shook her head sadly. "I still, to this day, can't understand what happened. I was sure that you really loved him."
Lois' smile was more weary than sad. "I did, and I still do, very much."
Lucy frowned. "And Clark?"
Lois shrugged. "I'm pretty sure he still loves me. We still see each other on occasion and are still good friends."
Lucy threw up her hands. "Then I don't get it. I know that we've gone over this before, and I know it's none of my business, but if you two still love each other why couldn't you have worked out whatever it was that split you apart?"
Knowing Lucy would never understand because she could never tell her sister the truth, Lois took several moments before answering. Fixing Lucy with a look of compassion, her voice filled with a sad yearning, she spoke quietly. "Sometimes love isn't enough."
(Three years ago)
"Lois don't do this!" Clark's agonized words were torn from his throat. "I love you, and I know you love me!"
Tears flowed freely down Lois' cheeks. "I'm sorry, Clark, I've tried, I really have… but sometimes love isn't enough."
Clark stared in horror at his distraught wife. Her face was red and blotchy from the tears that had been and still were steadily flowing from her eyes. She was sitting hunched over on the couch twisting a tissue into shreds between her hands. He was pacing back and forth in front of her. She stared at her hands, not looking at him.
"How can you just throw away three years of marriage?"
It took an incredible force of will for Lois to tilt her head up and look at her angry and hurt husband. "Has it really been a marriage… really?" Lois shrugged in a gesture of helpless surrender. "I don't know, maybe I'm just selfish. I thought I could deal with it. I told myself that I knew what I was getting myself into, but I can't do it anymore. I can't share my husband with the rest of the world any more."
Lois waved her hands in an aimless gesture of emphasis. "I can't keep going to bed snuggled in your arms, yet wake up nearly every morning with you gone, and your side of the bed cold. I'm sick of not being able to make any plans to do things as a couple with our friends and family because I know that you'll be called away in the middle of it, and I'll be left to face the awkward situation alone, with yet another lame excuse hanging in the air."
Lois stifled a sob as she rose from the couch and walked over to the window and played with the curtain sash cord. She sniffed back a couple of fresh tears. "You once told me that Superman was what you could do, but Clark Kent was who you are. That you created the persona of Superman so you could openly help people yet retain some privacy to be a normal guy. That's why I thought it could work between us."
Lois turned and sighed. "It took me a little while to realize that Superman was a fantasy, one that couldn't fit into a real world relationship. That's when I was able to see Clark Kent for the warm and caring person that he was, and Clark Kent was the man I thought I fell in love with."
Clark was about to interrupt but Lois held up her hand to stop him. "No, let me finish. I knew Superman couldn't give himself to just one person, he had a world to take care of. But I had come to realize that it didn't matter anymore because I loved Clark Kent, and he loved me."
A sad, mocking smile found its way onto Lois' face. "But then the old Lois luck came into play. I found out that you were Superman. At first I… well you know how I reacted. Then, after I got used to the idea, I was secretly thrilled to have my fantasy, and the man I had grown to love, all in one package." Lois shook her head and sighed. "Later, once I had more time to think about it, my fears came back. How could I have a relationship with Superman? I had already worked out that such a thing just couldn't be. But then I was able to convince myself that it would be all right because I was in love with Clark Kent, not Superman. I wasn't naive, I knew that Superman did present problems to our marriage, but Clark Kent was the man I planned to marry, not Superman. I thought that whatever complications Superman presented we could get through because I married Clark Kent, and Clark Kent was the real guy, and Superman was just what you could do."
Lois stepped away from the window and moved sluggishly back to the couch. She slowly lowered herself and stared at her hands for several moments. "The trouble was, we were wrong. You for saying what you did, and me for believing it. The truth is… Superman *is* who you are." Lois sniffed back the threat of another tear. "I'm not talking about the flashy suit, or the unbelievable powers. I'm talking about the fact that he's good, compassionate, and always willing to put the needs of others before his own. It's what makes him a hero, and it perfectly describes who Clark Kent is also."
Lois pulled another tissue from the box on the side table and resumed her torture of the inoffensive sheet. "It may be selfish of me, but I want to wake up in the morning in my husband's arms. I want us to be able to socialize with friends and family as a couple. I need to know that I'm the most important thing in your life."
Clark's love for Lois was readily seen in his eyes. "But you are the most important thing in my life, Lois. I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost you."
Lois shook her head sadly. "I know you think that's true, but it's not. It can't be. You - are - Superman. Unfortunately that means that the welfare of those in trouble is the single most important thing in your life. It defines who you are. And it means that everything, and everyone else in your life, has to come second." Lois took a deep breath. "I thought I could deal with that. I understood the situation and hoped that our love would be enough to comfort me during those times you'd have to leave and I'd be alone until you came back. I wanted this to work, I really did, Clark, but I just can't do this any more." Lois clenched her fists and twisted the tissue even more. "I just can't live like this. Our marriage is a sham, I swear I saw more of you before we were married than I do now."
Clark reached over and gently pried open her clenched fists and tossed away the poor abused tissue. His expression was grim but his voice was gentle. "So what do we do? If it's what you want, I'll cut back on my Superman activities. Hell, Lois, for you I'd quit being Superman."
Lois rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. "Yeah, like I'd need that kind of guilt trip hanging over me. To know I was responsible for the world losing its hero." Lois reached over and placed her hand alongside Clark's cheek. "No, you can't quit being Superman. You can't quit helping people. That *would* destroy you."
Clark turned his head and kissed her palm. "So… what *do* we do?"
Lois stood up, took a deep breath and wiped the tears off her face with another tissue. "I think if would be best if I moved out. Lucy has a guest room which I'm sure she'll let me stay in until I find a place of my own."
Clark shook his head. "No, I'll be the one to leave." Clark looked around the Hyperion Avenue brownstone which had been their residence since shortly after the wedding. "I don't think I could stay here… without you. The memories would be too… painful."
Lois nodded in mute agreement. "Then we'll both leave." She moved toward the stairs which led to the upstairs bedroom.
Clark's voice held a plaintive note. "So that's it then? It's all over? *We're* all over?"
Lois turned back and gave her love a melancholy smile. "No, we're not over. We will never really be over. It's just that there are expectations in a marriage that we're not able to live up to, but I'm not going to disappear. I love you and I will always love you, and I'm still going to be your best friend. I will be there if you need me and I hope I'll still be able to call on you if I should ever need your help."
"You know I'll come whenever you need me, Lois."
The smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "I know." Lois started back up the stairs, stopped, then turned back and looked at Clark. "We always used to say that our relationship was hard to define. I guess this is just another example of that."
"Lois? Lois! Lois, are you listening to me?" Lucy's voice rose in volume with each Lois.
Lois shook her head to clear away the lingering memories that she had allowed herself to drift into. She blushed, a bit chagrined by her inattentiveness to her sister. Lois knew that Lucy had kept on talking while she had allowed that memory to respool in her mind, but had no idea what she had been talking about.
"I'm sorry, Luce. What were you saying?"
Lucy frowned, then shook her head at Lois. "I thought so. You haven't heard a word I've said for the last several minutes have you?" Lucy waved her hand in dismissal. "Don't bother to answer that. The upshot of what I said was… I apologized for bringing up Clark again, and I would really like it if you would come over for dinner tonight. After all, it is your birthday and you should be with your family on your birthday."
Lois favored Lucy with a warm, grateful smile. "Thanks, that sounds nice, but I think I'll have to take a rain check. I really do have a lot of work to do." Lois noticed the glare on her sister's face. "No, really, we'll do this another time, soon, I promise."
"Well, okay." Lucy didn't sound convinced. "I'm going to hold you… oh my gosh."
Lucy had glanced out the large window in Lois office and had spied her son beginning to tire of just watching the people working on the sound stage. He was slowly working his way closer and closer. The lure of the puppies and kittens was just too much for the youngster. Soon he would be in the camera shots if someone didn't stop him.
Lucy jumped up from her seat. "I've gotta go. Think it over. If you change your mind give me a call. Even at the last minute, we'd be happy to have you drop by."
"Thanks, I'll think about it," Lois said to the swiftly moving back of her sister.
Lois grinned as she watched her sister swoop down and snatch up her inquisitive offspring. Taking the little boy by the hand, she began to lead him out of the studio. They both waved at Lois, and she waved back as they reached the exit. Then they were gone.
Lois sat back and allowed her mind to do a fast revue of the past few years. It had been difficult right after she and Clark had split up. Their friends never understood since they couldn't tell them the real reasons. Only Martha understood. She was heartbroken by the break-up, but she did understand.
In a effort to alleviate the awkwardness at the Planet, Lois decided to leave. She had had a taste of television producing at LNN during the period of her engagement to Lex and found that it wasn't that bad a substitute for the newspaper game. And what she'd told Lucy was true. As much as she might love and respect a paper like the Daily Planet, people didn't read newspapers anymore. They watched television. At least this way she could make sure that the public was given more than just a few headlines and some sensationalized sound bites.
Clark had become the editor of the Planet when Perry retired last year. Lois wondered if it was harder or easier for Clark to sneak away when Superman was needed now. At least he wouldn't have to explain his absences to a skeptical partner with some flimsy excuse.
Gradually the discomfort they felt around each other eased and they were able to slip back into a genial friendship. They often spoke to one another on the phone, particularly after some spectacular or difficult rescue by Superman. Lois was still his anchor in that respect. They saw each other less often, but managed to have lunch or take in a movie together on occasion. They were friends again, but they also had separate lives.
It wasn't the fairy tale ending that Lois had hoped for when she and Clark had decided to marry. But this was the real world, and she felt certain that if they had stayed together she would have eventually started to resent the Superman side of Clark, and maybe even would have come to blame him for destroying her 'happy ever after'. At least this was better.
The ringing of her phone disturbed her musings. "Lois Lane… Hello Clark… thank you, I figured you'd remember. What? Dinner? Paris? It sounds wonderful, but do you think the world can spare you for one night?" She laughed. "I've heard that one before. Okay, if you think so then I'd love to go… eight would be fine. See you then… bye."
She set the receiver back on its cradle, a smile on her lips. Suddenly she smacked herself in the forehead. Eight o' clock! That was only three hours from now and she just knew she had nothing to wear!
Lois shut down her computer and switched her phone over to voice mail. She grabbed her purse and her briefcase. With a little luck she'd still be able to get to Everson's before they closed. Perhaps something in burgundy…