By Chris Carr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: April 2005
Summary: Lois answers Clark's letter with one of her own. (Sequel to "Life's Lessons I.")
INTRODUCTION: Never, never post a vignette to the lcficmbs. The readers there are voracious and will demand a sequel, which is how this one came into being. ;) The feedback for "Life's Lessons I" was delightful… except for the baying demands to find out how Lois might reply to Clark's letter. I was going to be strong and resist, but then I got thinking. And then I got writing. And… Well, you can see the fruits of my labours below.
Many thanks to Jenni for beta-reading, and to Erin Klingler for Geing.
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.
Yes, you are a lunkhead.
I said it, and that should make you happy because it means that we're talking again.
Sorry. I shouldn't be making jokes about this, should I? I mean, you bared your heart and soul to me. The least I can do in return is to treat your explanation with all the seriousness and grace it deserves.
The thing is, though, you may be the lunkhead in this partnership but, in my own way, I'm just as much of an idiot as you.
You tried to apologise for your behaviour before, and I was too… skittish isn't quite the word I'm after — it makes me sound like a temperamental horse!
Oops. That's exactly the sort of thing I was talking about just now. I don't take serious things seriously enough. I distance myself. I make jokes -*inappropriate* jokes. And they're not even funny. (See. There I go again. I'm distancing. I'm going off at tangents. I'm trying to make light of something that *should* be taken seriously.)
Let me try again.
I distance. I make jokes, or else I get angry. Really, really angry. And you've been on the receiving end of all three. Is it really any wonder you're petulant? I've driven you to it.
You say that you learned about relationships one step removed.
Is that really true? You always seemed to be so confident, so sure about what it was you wanted, and about us, that I find it hard to believe.
Even if it *is* true, you still seem to know a heck of a lot more about relationships than I do — about the good ones, at any rate.
You say you've always aspired to love.
Me? My instinct has always been to run away from it. For me, love was something to dream about, to watch in romantic dramas and read about in novels. It was an escapist fiction, not something that happened to real people. It didn't happen to my parents. Their marriage certainly wasn't a happy-ever-after; it was more like a war zone. It didn't happen to them, and, to be honest, I never expected it to happen to me.
I don't think I *wanted* it to happen to me, either. Oh, sure, I experimented with a few relationships, but look how they all turned out! A college guy who slept with my best friend, a colleague who stole my story, and a sociopathic megalomaniac who… Where to even begin with Lex!
And the more relationships I had, the more they reinforced my view that love and I just weren't made for each other.
Maybe that's why it took me so long to fall in love with you. At first I didn't even realise that was what I was doing. Heck, I had no frame of reference for the feelings I had for you! All I knew was that I liked you and I trusted you, almost instinctively.
I still do, oddly enough. Even after finding out you had been lying to me for all that time about the Superman thing, I still trust you — which, now I think about it, seems pretty stupid.
Do you remember, right back just after we first met, I told you about Claude? I still don't understand why I told you about him. Okay, so I thought we were about to die, but that still doesn't really explain it. I mean, you were practically a stranger, and there I was, pouring out my deepest, darkest, most humiliating secret to you! I'd never done that with anyone else, either in or out of life-threatening situations, so it had to be something about you that made me tell you. Something subconscious. Something subliminal.
Something I didn't understand and, in a way, still don't.
I guess it doesn't matter. What *does* matter is that you've never used that knowledge against me and, so far as I can tell, you've never breathed a word of it to anybody else, either. I was frightened that you would, you see. For the first few days after the EPRAD thing, I would wake up in a cold sweat, waiting for the hammer to fall. But it never did. And that's how you proved that I could trust you.
Maybe that's the key. You kept your secret, which should have undermined my trust in you, but at the same time, you've always kept mine. You've protected them just as much as you've always tried to protect me.
So, maybe the fact that I still trust you isn't so stupid after all.
Then, after trust, came respect. (That you stood up for yourself helped, too. That stunt with the Godzilla doll, for instance… It wasn't very nice of you, but at least it made me realise that you weren't some weak-willed guy I could push around. It made for an *interesting* change to have someone in the newsroom who wasn't frightened of me. And, okay, I admit it. I liked the challenge you presented. Plus, it forced me to take a real hard look at you, not just dismiss you out of hand as some no account hack from Nowheresville.)
I'm rambling, aren't I?
Respect was followed by friendship. I can't remember when I'd had such a close friend before, and I certainly hadn't ever been close friends with a man.
I guess that should have told me something, too.
But it didn't.
I always thought that a man was meant to woo a woman — you know, win her with romantic gestures, tokens of affection… that kind of thing. And maybe that's how I ended up engaged to Lex.
I know you probably don't want to hear this, and I certainly don't want to write about it, but since you bared your heart to me, I guess I ought to try to do the same.
Lex was everything you weren't. He was smooth, cultured, sophisticated…
No. I'm doing this all wrong. That makes you sound uneducated. Actually, it makes you sound like a hick. And you're not. You're educated, intelligent… You've seen the world, and you're interesting. Oh, and your manners are every bit as polished as Lex's, too.
The difference between you, though, is that you don't make a performance out of any of it. Your intelligence, your manners… They're a part of you. With you, it all comes naturally.
With Lex, though, they were a veneer. I see that now, though I didn't at the time. He was suave. He wooed me with those great romantic gestures that I told you about: box seats at the opera; jetting across to Italy for dinner… He made me feel so *special*. Cherished, even.
It makes me sick to think about it now.
I don't know what he wanted from me; it certainly wasn't love. I seriously doubt that Lex had any more idea about what love was than I did. In that way, at least, we made a perfect couple.
I guess… I was looking for all the trappings of romance without any of the emotional responsibility that goes with it. Lex offered security, both emotional and financial. If I didn't love him, he couldn't hurt me… could he? And… Oh, but this is going to make me sound so shallow! I was flattered! What woman wouldn't be? The most eligible bachelor in Metropolis was interested in *me*?
So, there you have it. I was going to marry the biggest crook in Metropolis's history because I felt overwhelmed by his attentions and because I was flattered by them.
But then I realised something.
You and I weren't speaking then, either, if you recall. And I missed you. I missed talking to you, joking with you, watching movies with you. I even missed arguing with you. And I didn't — couldn't — do any of the things I used to do with you with Lex. Lex talked at me, not with me. Lex didn't joke; I'm not even sure that he had a sense of humour. And he certainly thought a trip to the cinema was beneath him. I mean, can you imagine him snuggling in the back row of the cinema, his arm resting on my shoulders, sharing a jumbo bucket of popcorn?
No? Well, neither could I.
With Lex, going out was all about being seen in the right places, by the right people. It was about appearances, about demonstrating influence and power. It was never about entertainment; I don't think Lex even liked the opera. But that's why he took me to see "La Boheme" and not to see the latest Mel Gibson movie — because it's what some rich people do when they're cultural snobs.
Like I said, with Lex it was all about veneer, about being seen to spend money in the most sophisticated manner. About showing the elite of Metropolis that he was the most suave, cultured, and powerful one of them all.
You know I turned Lex down at the altar, right? What I've never told you before is the reason I did it.
I was waiting in a side room, staring at myself in a mirror they had in there, and I couldn't stop crying. I tried out my new name — Lois Luthor — and it didn't fit. Of course it didn't fit! It wasn't mine! More than that, it wasn't yours either.
Then I walked down the aisle, and all I could think of was you, of all the things we used to do together, and how we'd never be able to do any of them again.
And that's when I realised that the route to love, at least for me, might be through friendship. I wasn't friends with Luthor, and I certainly didn't love him. So, what on earth were we going to find to do together for the next thirty, forty or even fifty years?
But with you…
It would be different with you.
You sneaked under my defences and made me love you. I think I loved you for a long time before I began to realise it.
You say you don't understand relationships. Well, clearly neither do I. Obviously I don't, if I can get things so hopelessly wrong and if real love can take me so completely unawares.
Even then, I fought it. It took me a long time to recognise love, but having recognised it, I wasn't going to give in to it. My mother and father had done that, and look how that turned out! Or, rather, don't. It's too depressing to think about.
But somehow I ended up in love with you, anyway.
That's why, I guess, your decision to end our relationship hurt so much.
I remember reading once that people who fall in love easily find it easier to fall out of love afterwards. It was so hard for me to give in to my love for you, and you hurt me so much, that I am terrified of risking my heart a second time.
You know what they say: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. That's how this feels. You made me love you once and then you dumped me, saying you loved me too much for us to be together. Shame on you!
Dare I risk it happening again? How can I?
How can I not, when I still love you? It took me so long to fall in love with you. There's no way I can switch that love off. There is no way I'm going to fall out of love with you any time soon. Not in this lifetime.
I don't want to be hurt again. I don't want to be shamed, either. But what option do I have when I'm hurting so much anyway? Hurting *with* you must surely be better than hurting *without* you… and maybe, just maybe, if we get things right this time, there won't be any reason for either of us to hurt at all.
You say you miss me. Well, I miss you, too. More than I can say and more than you will ever know.
You say you don't understand relationships. *I* say it doesn't matter, because you understand *me*, better than anyone else has ever done.
You say you never learned. I say that's better that having learned all the *wrong* lessons, which is what I've done.
We both have a lot of learning (and in my case, unlearning) to do, so what I suggest we do is make a pact. We talk things over. We work at our relationship. We learn how to get things right. But most of all, we make sure that whatever we do, we do it together. Always together.
And if you ever have such a darn stupid idea again, you talk it over with me, and you pay attention to what I have to say about it, you darling, darling, stupid, lunkheaded man!
What do you say… partner?
All my love