By Wendy Richards <email@example.com>
Submitted: June 2004
Summary: Clark has found Lois's letter to him. How will he respond? Story 2 in the Yesterday Series.
Author's note: Many thanks to Kaethel for beta-reading. All rights in the characters belong to DC Comics and Warner Bros; no infringement is intended by their use in this work of fiction.
I've just read your letter. The one you wrote when you thought I was dead. Yes, I know, you never intended me to see it. But it fell out of your purse tonight when you got into your car to drive me home. I was going to give it straight back to you, but then I saw the name on the front.
Just my name. Nothing else. I didn't know what it was, of course. So I put it in my pocket, meaning to ask you about it later, when you dropped me off. But I fell asleep in your car, remember? And when you woke me up to let me out I forgot all about it.
And then I found it when I was getting ready for bed. You hadn't sealed it. And… well, I couldn't resist.
Oh, god, Lois, what I put you through! How much I hurt you!
You cried over me. Even if the letter hadn't made that clear, the tearstains on the paper would have told me. It kills me to think of you crying, Lois — and it's even worse to know that I was the cause of it.
And I had no idea.
But that's no excuse, Lois, and I know it.
I'm your best friend. I didn't have to know that you're in love with me to know that you'd be devastated to think I was dead. I knew you love me. You told me so, remember? And I knew it anyway. You love me like a brother. Of course you were going to be distraught. Just as I would be if you died.
Your letter made me cry, Lois. It also made me feel very, very guilty — but more of that later.
I'm so glad I read it, all the same. First, because I needed to know what you went through. How much you were hurting. You'd never have told me yourself — I know that. I know you only too well, my best friend and my partner. And my love. You wouldn't have told me.
Perry told me, a little, before we left the Planet. And my parents told me how sad you'd sounded on the phone.
I'm sorry that I caused you so much pain. I wish I could have spared you that. If I could give you what you wanted, if I could have made it yesterday once more for you, I'd have spared you all that grief and torment. I know that my being alive has taken away the grief, but nothing erases the memory of the pain you went through.
I wish I could have been there to hold you when you cried. I know I'm almost the only person you trust enough to let see you cry. Perry and me, I think. Though I don't know… the thought of comforting you when it's all my fault you were so upset seems… wrong, somehow. Unfair. Getting to hold you under false pretences — very much false pretences, as you'll see when you read on.
Anyway. The other reason I'm glad I read your letter is because of what you told me in it. I don't know if you would ever have told me. Even now, now that I'm not dead, would you have, Lois? Or were you going to go back to freezing me out?
I don't think you are freezing me out, by the way. I think — no, I know — that you're scared. Scared of being hurt again. Scared that I'll turn out to be like all the other men who've hurt and abandoned you. Scared of laying your feelings on the line. Scared of trusting.
Lois, I love you too. I have always loved you, from the moment we met. I have waited for you for a year and a half, and I will wait for you for as long as you want. As long as you need. If you're not ready to love me back yet, I'll carry on waiting. But know that I love you with every breath in my body, with every single beat of my heart. With everything that I am and ever can be.
I never loved Mayson, Lois. She's a friend, that's all. I know that she wants more, but I can never give it to her. How can I? You're the one I love. The one I've always loved.
I could no more abandon you than I could stop breathing.
Yet, I know, you'll say that I did both, won't you? I died. I abandoned you.
I could add 'willingly' to my promise above. That would be true. But the real truth is… something else.
Lois, you're not the only one who had secrets. Yes, there are a lot of things we never talked about — you mentioned one in your letter. And I have one really big secret that I never told you. And right now, after reading your letter, I am feeling so guilty, so angry with myself for never having told you that I can barely breathe.
You were angry with yourself for never telling me that you love me. That pales into insignificance next to my omission. My lie. The lie that made you believe that I was dead.
Writing it like that, it seems so bald, so… cruel. And that's exactly what it was, Lois: cruel. I allowed you to believe that I was dead. I did it knowingly, consciously, in full knowledge of the consequences. And it's no excuse to say that I had no idea just how much it would hurt you; if I'd thought about it for just one second, I would have known how much it would hurt you. And I'm finding it very hard to forgive myself for that. I could understand it if you never wanted to forgive me.
Right now, I am so furious with myself that I can barely find the words to tell you.
You see, Lois… I was never dead.
Yes, you saw me shot. You saw me fall to the ground right in front of you. You saw me not moving, not breathing. You saw the gangsters dragging my body away.
But you didn't see me murdered — because I was never dead.
The truth is, Lois, that I can't be killed. Well, not with an ordinary bullet, anyway. There's only one way to kill me — you know what it is, but you don't associate it with me because I never allowed you to. Self-preservation, in so many ways, where you're concerned.
I should have trusted you with this long before now, though. And I keep thinking that, if only I had trusted you, you would have been spared the pain you went through. You wouldn't have suffered.
I should have told you. Lois, I am so sorry that I didn't tell you.
I am Superman.
There. I've said it. At last.
Yes: the hero in the blue and red Spandex is me. Only me, after all. Just a farmboy from Kansas, dressed up in a home-made Superhero costume and flying around saving people. It's a secret identity. Without it, I wouldn't be able to have a normal life. I could never have stayed in Metropolis more than a couple of months or so — just like everywhere else I've lived since leaving college, sooner or later I'd be careless, or someone would notice something they shouldn't, and I'd have to move on.
You were the one who invented Superman, you know. It was all your idea. Remember the first week we met? There was a man trapped down a manhole — there'd been an explosion. He was babbling something about a man who'd rescued him. And he was pointing at me. I… I managed to say that he had to be delirious, imagining things. And you noticed how dirty my suit was, and you told me that I should do as you did and bring a change of clothes to work.
That's how Superman was born, Lois. He's really just a change of clothes I bring to work.
So, I'm not actually human. I'm really from a planet called Krypton. I was sent here by my Kryptonian parents as a baby, because Krypton was about to explode and they wanted to save me. Jonathan and Martha Kent found me and brought me up as their own son. They had no idea who or what I was, or how I'd got into the spaceship they found me in, or who had put me there. And I seemed perfectly normal. It wasn't until I got older that we started to notice stuff about me that was different. I could run faster. See further. Hear things from longer distances. Jump higher. And then, when I became a teenager, things got more scary: I started seeing through things, and I discovered that I could set things on fire just by looking at them. That's why I wear glasses, Lois — I'm not short-sighted. It's so that I can't accidentally use my vision powers. And then, when I was eighteen, the scariest of all: I found that I could fly.
Almost all my life I've been different. And you've seen how some people can react to those differences — remember Jason Trask? So I wanted a normal life. That's why Clark Kent is such a determinedly normal guy. And so different from Superman, who is anything but normal.
Why didn't I tell you? There've been so many reasons. And even when there were no more reasons there were excuses.
The first reason… I was afraid that you'd expose me. That you would use the Superman story to get yourself another award to add to your collection. Superman is Clark Kent… yeah, that'd be a pretty impressive headline, wouldn't it? And I think you would've done that if you'd found out the truth in the first week or so of Superman's existence. In the first few weeks we knew each other.
Don't get me wrong, Lois — I understand completely. If our positions had been reversed, I guess I would've done it too. We're both reporters. We've both been there — chasing the scoop, trying to get the exclusive ahead of everyone else. If Superman were someone else, not me, sure: I would have wanted to get the story. So don't think I'm blaming you for that, because I'm not.
I stopped believing that you'd expose me over a year ago. You came to see Superman as more than just a story. You saw that what he — I — could do to help people was more important than anything else, and I think that you'd have protected the secret for that reason alone. After all, you've guarded the truth about Kryptonite for a long time. But also, you came to see Superman as a friend, and no-one knows better than I do how loyal you are to your friends.
So I knew you wouldn't expose me. But I still used it as an excuse. I'm sorry for that, Lois.
The next reason was… well, it was sheer jealousy. Would you believe that I went through months of being jealous of myself? You see, you were always so nice to Superman. You admired him. You smiled at him the way I wished you would smile at me. You hung on his every word. You made it clear that he was important to you.
Whereas I… wasn't.
Okay, I wasn't exactly pond scum where you were concerned, but I wasn't much more than the partner you tolerated and occasionally gave some signs of liking. So, yes, I was jealous.
It took me a while to get over that and to realise that I could hardly expect you to treat Clark the way you treated Superman when you had no idea that we were the same man. And I was still angry over that when I rejected you as Superman — and that's another apology I owe you. Not for rejecting you — you know I was right to do that — but for the way I did it.
And that's why, when I told you — as Clark — that I loved you, last summer, and you made it clear that you wanted to speak to Superman, I didn't tell you the truth then. Yes, it was jealousy. It was also pretty stupid, really. I wanted you to love *Clark*, not Superman — and yet I am both Clark and Superman. I wanted you to reject Superman in favour of Clark, and then I would have told you that I am both. Stupid, huh?
Why didn't I tell you more recently? After we put all the stupid things we did then behind us and became better friends than we ever had been?
I could tell you that I still wanted you to love Clark first and Superman second, and that would be part of the truth. But that's an excuse, and has been for ages. I could tell you that I was protecting you, that this secret is dangerous and that by telling you I'd be putting your life at risk. But that's not true anyway: your life is already at risk because Superman has shown — too much — that he cares about you and will always save your life when it's threatened. If you were to know my identity, who would know that anything's changed?
No, the real reason I haven't told you more recently is because I'm scared too.
I'm terrified, Lois. Scared stiff that you'll be furious because I've kept this from you for so long. That you'll accuse me of lying to you, deceiving you. That you'll hate me for it. That you'll never want to speak to me again.
I've been scared for so long. And now… now it's even worse. Because now I've let you think that I was dead. Because you didn't know that I'm Superman, you thought I'd been murdered — that you'd lost me.
If you'd known the truth, you'd have known that I couldn't be dead.
I'm so sorry, Lois. I've caused you unnecessary pain, all because I was too scared to be honest with you.
That's why I'm telling you now.
You need to know. You deserve to know. And I want you to know.
I love you, Lois. And I'm Superman. And those are the two most important things that I never told you.
You're at home — I know, because I checked. And so I'm going to push this letter under your door. When you've finished reading it, look out through your window. You'll see me, waiting for you. If you're not too angry to talk, please open your window and let me in. If you don't want to talk to me, I'll understand. Just pull the curtains closed and I'll go away and leave you alone. But I won't give up hope that you'll forgive me.
You might ask why I'm telling you this in a letter, rather than face to face. Isn't writing to you a bit cowardly? Yeah, maybe it is. But then, like I said, I'm scared. This is the most terrifying thing I've ever done — even more terrifying than stopping Nightfall, if you believe that. I have no idea how you're going to react. Okay, sure, I know you'll be mad, and you have every right. After all, I've kept this from you for so long, and because of my deception I made you go through torment thinking I was dead. I have no idea whether you'll ever be able to forgive me — but that's your decision.
So, because I'm terrified, I'm not sure that I could tell you this face to face. The thing is, Lois, I've tried before. There were times when I thought that I should tell you, or when there just seemed to be a golden opportunity… and the words just wouldn't come. Or I'd start to tell you, but I'd end up saying something completely different. Usually something completely lame. Yeah, Superman's a coward and an idiot!
Writing you a letter seemed to be the easiest way out — for both of us, actually. For me, it's a way to make sure that I've said everything I want to say, without getting defensive or leaving stuff out because I'm nervous about your reaction. Even though this is about the twelfth draft, and I'm still not happy with it. And for you… well, it means that you don't have to face me now that you know. Unless you want to.
So… I'm waiting. And I'll wait as long as you want.
If I could do just one thing, Lois, I would make it yesterday once more. And I would tell you that I'm Superman before we ever went into that gambling den. And you would never have been hurt.
But I can't do that. All I can do is tell you that I'm sorry and that I love you. And that, if you give me a chance, I will never hurt you again. I will love and cherish you for the rest of our lives.
Be my love, Lois. Come fly with me.
Wendy Richards 2004 firstname.lastname@example.org