Life's Lessons I: Clark

By Chris Carr <>

Rated: PG

Submitted: April 2005

Summary: Estranged from Lois, Clark writes a letter to explain his actions. (Set sometime around the episode "Just Say Noah.")

INTRODUCTION: This vignette was originally posted as a birthday fic for Wendy.

Many thanks to Erin Klingler for GEing. Thanks also to the generous givers of feedback over on the lcficmbs. []

DISCLAIMER: This story has been written for fun, not for profit. No attempt is being made to infringe any existing copyrights held by December 3rd Productions, Warner Bros, D C Comics, or any other copyright holders.


Dear Lois:

It's amazing. For someone who is supposed to have a way with words, I'm having a terrible time finding a way to start this letter. I've been staring at this screen for what seems like hours, and the best I can come up with is, "I'm sorry." After everything I've put you through, "sorry" doesn't seem to cut it, although I truly am. More than I can say.

I've messed up and I've messed you around. I know it. I regret it. And I'm so afraid you'll think that any explanations I give you are excuses and nothing more. With hindsight, I can barely make any sense out of my behaviour, so why should you?

Still, you deserve to know what I was thinking. Where I was coming from. Why I did the things I did. If, in the end, all you can find to say is that I'm the world's greatest lunkhead… Well, even that would be an improvement over where we are now. I mean, at least we'd be talking again, right?

I guess the first thing to say is that I've always dreamed of having the kinds of things most people take for granted, things that, for the longest time, I thought might not be possible for me: a regular job, falling in love, a wife, a family… maybe even two point four kids. Who knows?

Parts of my dream have even come true. I mean, the job with The Daily Planet is everything I ever hoped for.

And then there's you…

I've never felt about anyone the way I feel about you. Before we met… Before I set eyes on you, love was an abstract idea. Something nebulous. I saw other couples, my parents included, and I could see that they were in love. Love was something I aspired to, but I never really understood.

But, from the first moment you burst into my job interview, I knew what love was all about. You filled the room. My senses exploded at the sight, sound and smell of you: the way your hair flicked around your face as you moved, the way you scrunched your mouth when Perry insisted on introducing you to me… Your heartbeat racing strong and fast, beating a staccato rhythm in your excitement… The soft, clean scent of shampoo and soap… the faint whiff of newsroom coffee.

You filled my mind and robbed me of coherent thought. You took my breath away and I knew with a certainty that defied reason that you were the only woman I would ever want to be with. More than that: you were the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, wanted to grow old with.

You know, part of the reason I went off and wrote the theatre story was because of you. If I hadn't met you, maybe I'd have given up on the job after Perry's initial rejection and skulked away, tail between my legs. But I wanted to see you again. I wanted to talk to you, to get to know you. I wanted to find out if your mind was as beautiful as every other part of you (which it is, by the way). I wanted to become your colleague at the very least, if not your friend and, maybe, something more.

I wonder whether I should delete that last paragraph because I'm sure you're now adding "stalker" to your ever-growing list of my personality failings. However, I'm trying to be honest with you, here, so I guess that section stays in.

Lois, you gave my dreams focus. Meeting you felt like a homecoming, like completion. Just being near you, talking to you, working with you… The world made sense when I was with you — even when we were arguing!

I wish we were arguing now.

The world isn't making any sense any more. The distance between us is tearing me apart.

I bet you're wondering, if I loved you that much, how could I have ended up treating you so badly.

I'll try to explain, even though I don't think I really understand it all myself.

When I was a kid, I was pretty normal. I climbed trees. I played Little League. I went to birthday parties, collected baseball cards, believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny… In fact, I did pretty much everything that any other little kid did.

Oh, I realised pretty early on that there was something different about me, that there was a secret that couldn't be spoken, at least not in polite company.

I guess I was about five or six when I first noticed the sniggers, the fingers being pointed at me in the school-yard, and the words being whispered behind raised hands, words like "illegitimate" and "white trash".

You should have seen my parents' faces when, one day at the dinner table, I asked them what a bastard was! They were mad enough with me for using the word. They were even madder when I told them why I wanted to know.

Mom said I should ignore everything the kids (and some of the other moms) at school were saying. As far as my folks were concerned, I was theirs, and that was all that mattered. In fact, Mom told me that I was better than any other child. Other children were acts of biology. I was an act of love. Mom and Dad had *chosen* me; it didn't matter where I'd come from.

Anything else I wanted to know, they said, could wait until I was old enough to understand. They'd explain everything to be me then. Meanwhile, it didn't matter what anyone else thought they knew about me or about where I'd come from because they didn't know anything.

So, yes, I was adopted, but apart from that, I was a normal little kid. And when everything about me began to change, that was what I wanted back. The feeling of being normal, I mean. Of fitting in. Of blending. Of being just like everybody else.

But no matter how much I wanted to be "normal", I just kept on changing.

I guess I was about eleven when I began to notice that I was different. Not finger-pointingly, socially unacceptably different — because by then the other kids had got over all that — but really, *really* different.

I began to realise that I'd never missed a day of school. Everyone else missed a day or two here and there. Lana missed two weeks with chicken-pox. Most everybody in my class had a cold at least once a year. Pete had his appendix out. And me?


Still, that wasn't when it really registered how *not normal* I was. I guess that was when my Dad and I were changing the wheel on the tractor and the jack broke. I was crawling underneath at the time, which was pretty stupid of me when you think about it; my Dad had yelled at me enough times to get out from under there because it was dangerous and did I want to get myself killed? Anyway, the tractor fell on me… and I wasn't hurt. More than that, I pushed it off me and clambered out from underneath.

I didn't realise that I'd done anything odd until I saw my Dad's face. He looked relieved and shocked and amazed all at once.

At least he didn't look horrified.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened to me had he looked horrified.

That's when my folks decided it was time to tell me the little they knew about where I'd come from. Dad swore me to secrecy and told me that nobody else could *ever* find out.

I had nightmares about men in white coats for years after that conversation, and I never could do dissection in biology class without wanting to throw up. He and Mom were really frightened about what people might do to me if they ever found out the truth, and they made me frightened, too.

Without Mom and Dad's support, though, I don't know what I would have done. They were my strength when each new difference kicked in. They stayed up with me all night after I set fire to the barn. They must have been terrified by what I'd done — I was — but they never let me see it. They helped me learn to control my super-hearing when I started to hear way too much of what my classmates were up to under the bleachers. They shared my disbelief when I found out that I could fly.

Are you beginning to understand now?

As my differences became more pronounced, I set greater and greater store on being normal. I learned to hide who… what… I was. Not, of course, that I really understood myself. I didn't find out about Krypton or any of that until after I'd met you. But you know that part of the story already, so I won't repeat it here.

I wanted to be normal, but all I learned was how to pretend. And I got so good at pretending that sometimes I forgot that there was a difference between pretence and reality.

To cut a long story short, I ended up travelling the world, searching for… something. Other people like me… Somewhere to belong. In just a few years, I got to see more things than most people see in a lifetime, but I was always the outsider. I learned to mimic life, but I never learned to live it for real. And I never found what I was looking for.

Until I met you.

I know that I've made mistakes, Lois, most of them involving the way I've behaved towards you. And I know that you probably won't believe me, but I am learning from them. Really I am. Since I met you, for the first time since I was eleven years old, I've been daring to live my life. I haven't run away — although I admit I have been tempted once or twice. I guess, old habits really do die hard.

I've learned what love is because of you.

Yes, Lois, I love you. And I've learned that I'll *always* love you.

If I lied to you about Superman, I did it because what I knew best was how to hide. I'd been doing it for years, and I was frightened to do anything else.

If I kept on lying, it was because I was scared of how you would react, not just to the truth about me, but to the realisation that I had lied for you for so long.

One lie. Magnified by time. And as time passed, the lie grew bigger and bigger, and the chances of your reacting well to any revelation seemed to shrink. As time passed, and as we grew closer, the need to tell you the truth about myself grew more and more obvious, but, paradoxically, it became harder for me to do it.

At first, just after I'd created Superman, keeping the secret of my dual identity from you felt almost like a game. I'm not quite sure when it ceased being amusing and became a burden. In the end, it felt like a curse.

I did try to tell you about myself, more than once, but I never could find the words. Never could quite find the courage to creep out from behind that wall I'd built up between myself and the rest of the world.

Sometimes I lie in bed at night and wonder when would have been the best moment to tell you. I wonder how differently things might have turned out if I had managed to let you in on the secret before you figured things out for yourself. With hindsight, I can see so many missed opportunities. It's a pity I didn't recognise them at the time.

The fact remains, the best day of my life was when you figured out who — what — I was, and I knew I didn't have to pretend with you any more.

Oh, I know we argued about it. I know I behaved badly then, too, like a petulant adolescent, but… But deep down, I was so *happy* that you knew the truth! No more hiding! No more pretending! No more lying, at least not to you!

If, subsequently, I pushed you away and hurt you… told you that I loved you too much to be with you, it was only because I thought I was doing what was best for you. I know now just how wrong I was. I know that I hurt you.

If it's any consolation, I hurt myself, too.

Maybe you think that serves me right.

And maybe it does.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that most people make mistakes all through their lives and, for them, learning how to relate to others is a gradual process. Most people learn how to treat girlfriends (and boyfriends, for that matter) with respect when they are still teenagers, still in high school.

For me, though, that was never an option. I was too busy learning to cope with my differences to deal with the everyday angst and issues your average teenager has to face. I barely dated, let alone had a serious girlfriend. And, since I've only recently begun to learn to live my life for real, I guess I've ended up having to cram a decade's worth of idiocy into a matter of months.

Lois, you've taught me the meaning of friendship, of joy and companionship. You've given me confidence in myself and in my abilities. You accepted me as no one (besides my parents) has ever done before. You helped me find a place to belong and you gave me strength to become Superman. You've made me feel, yearn, hurt and cry. But most of all, you have made me love.

You've done more for me than you will probably ever realise. It is thanks to you, Lois, that I finally understand what it means to be alive! Do you have any idea how precious a gift that is?

And the best thing of all is, when I'm with you, I forget to care about being normal. When I'm with you, I feel special. When I'm with you, special is good enough for me.

There's a saying: we learn from our mistakes. Please give me a chance to learn from mine.

I love you Lois. I need your forgiveness. If I can't have "us", then, please, at least let me have your friendship once again.

I miss it.

I miss you.

Ever yours,