By Pam Jernigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted April, 2006
Summary: "Being 'Superman's girlfriend' is a lot more difficult than I'd expected. The whole world is fascinated by our relationship, and the lack of privacy is driving us both nuts. There's really only one way to fix this…" Part four of a series.
This is the fourth story in an alt-world series, and really they need to be read in order — My Interview with Superman, My Date with Lyn, and My Television Debut. Otherwise this one won't make much sense.
It's not easy to say goodbye. I have to; I know that. It's only been a few months since I reclaimed my name and my life here in Metropolis, but this just isn't working.
So here I am, sitting backstage at Morningside Metropolis again, waiting for Molly to finish interviewing some actor who's taking a bold, courageous stance on some social issue. Of course, that's a stance agreed on by a third of the country and two thirds of Hollywood, so I don't know that "courageous" is the word I'd use, but… whatever.
I'm careful not to touch my face, or even move much. My hair's been styled meticulously, and I've got a microphone attached to my collar with a wire running down to the concealed power pack at my waist. I can't help but remember the last time I was here, waiting for a cue to go onstage. I'd had such high hopes.
I glance sideways at Clark, who's sitting nearby, looking at his hands. He's wearing his Superman suit and his Superman face; no wayward emotions will be breaking through. He's not really happy with this decision — I'm not really that happy with it myself — but he'll back me up.
Molly doesn't know why we're here; I think she suspects that we're planning to announce our engagement. After all, our relationship began — officially — on her program. She'd love to move it to the next level. I hope she won't be too upset at me for springing this on her.
My mind drifts back to the day I first met Clark in person. He hadn't a clue I was anything other than who I'd said I was — an obscure reporter from an obscure country. Not so obscure anymore, not since that interview was published. After that, 'Lyn Drozny' had gotten a few job offers. None of which really appealed, but it was nice to be wanted.
Before that interview, Superman had been smeared as something of an obsessed lunatic, searching the world for someone he barely knew. I hope I've helped him dispel that perception. Meanwhile, it hadn't taken long for my nascent crush on Superman to develop into head-over-heels love for Clark.
Another picture pops into my head — our first date. The real one, not the public one. Clark hadn't thought we could go out without being recognized, until I'd suggested a new disguise for him. He'd looked so appalled at the idea of wearing tie-dye, but the "ordinary Joe" clothes had worked like a charm.
If only everything had been that easy.
I look up to see Clark standing, and I realize the actor's time is up. I stand, too, and move closer to him, ready to walk through the curtain out on stage. As I get near, he reaches out toward me, but I cross my arms over my chest and he drops his hand. If I touch him, I might not be able to do this — and I have to do this.
*Welcome back to Morningside Metropolis.* Molly's voice echoes a bit on the back stage speakers. She sounds even more cheerful than usual. *For our next segment, we're going to check in on some local celebrities — Clark 'Superman' Kent, and Lois 'Superman's girlfriend' Lane!*
I grit my teeth as the audience applauds. I am so sick of that. Pasting a smile on my face, I follow Clark on the stage. As arranged, he takes the chair away from Molly, letting me sit in between them. Molly's smiling brightly; she shakes Clark's hand and gives me a hug.
"Thanks for being here, Lois, Superman. Now, you didn't tell me why you wanted to come out here, but I know the last time you two were here, you'd just met. So, after dating for a few months, how are things going?"
"It's been interesting getting my legal affairs back together," I say. I've got my things in storage, waiting for their permanent home, a brand new checking account, and two working credit cards. Even with all the hassle, in some ways the last few months might have been the happiest of my life. "But I think finally I've got everything settled. Clark's been a big help."
"I'm sure he has. Clark, are you enjoying having Lois work with you at the Planet?"
He smiles slightly. "It's certainly not been dull."
He's got that right. Trouble is, it hasn't really been any fun, either. "It's been difficult, Molly. Not working with each other — that's been fine — but… well, you said it. Like it or not, we're local celebrities, which makes it really hard to do any sort of honest reporting."
"Yes, I can see that. You created quite a stir when you re-appeared from thin air, Lois. But surely some of the media attention will die down in time."
"Some of it," Clark says, no doubt speaking from his own experience. "But I don't imagine we'll ever be able to escape it completely."
I nod. "We're too high profile." We had hoped that, if we were very boring, people would lose interest, but no such luck. "We need to face that reality."
"Oh, really?" Molly leans forward. "Do you have any plans that you can share with us?"
"Well," I start, glancing at Clark then turning back at Molly, "I've resigned from my job at the Daily Planet." Clark's probably going to resign his, too, sooner or later. "I told my editor this morning, right before coming over here."
"That must have been hard," she says warmly.
"You know that working at the Daily Planet was a dream of mine, when I was younger, but… things change."
Molly tilts her head. "So then, what will you be doing?"
I take a deep breath. "Actually… I'm leaving."
"Leaving?" she echoes. "Leaving what, exactly?"
"Metropolis." It's easier to say than I thought it would be.
There's an audible gasp from the audience, mixed with a few laughs that trail off uncertainly. Molly looks stunned.
"But… how? Why?"
"Because I'm tired of being known as Superman's girlfriend," I say, a little more bluntly than I'd intended. "Clark's a great guy, and I like him a lot, but the life he leads… it's just not for me."
"We've discussed it," Clark adds. "It's been difficult for her."
It's been difficult for both of us. Tabloid reporters have tried to follow us, bug us, trap us… and not just the trashy rags, either. We were on the cover of People Magazine. I think that's when we started to realize how unworkable this was.
"We tried, Molly. But living in the public eye… being with Superman distorts everything. These last few months might have given me my name back — but not my life."
Clark nods and glances at Molly before studying his fingernails again. "This life I lead — it's worth it to me, Molly, because this is how I can help, and use my abilities for the greater good. But it was unrealistic and unfair to expect anyone to share it with me."
Molly looks dismayed. "I know there hasn't been as much privacy as you'd like, but…"
"Actually," I interrupt, "the main problem isn't lack of privacy, it's lack of identity. It took me a while to realize it, but I'm no longer Lois Lane, ace reporter, independent career woman. When people look at me, all they see is — " I use air quotes for emphasis. " — Superman's girlfriend."
Molly winces, probably remembering how she'd introduced me today, and looks at Clark.
"Superman? How do you feel about this?"
He shrugs. "It's her decision to make, whether I like it or not. And I certainly can't blame her for wanting to escape this merry-go-round. As it happens, though… I agree with her. This isn't working, and it's time we accepted that. She's unhappy… I'm unhappy."
"At the risk of sounding trite," I conclude, "I need to find myself. And that means leaving my life here behind."
"Well… where will you go? What will you do?"
"I've made some plans." Working in a newsroom isn't an option, but I have thought about doing some online reporting. Maybe create my own news website. The nice thing about that is I can do it from anywhere. "But I'm sure you'll understand that I'm keeping them secret. I want to evade all reporters, not just exchange one set here for another set somewhere else."
"We've discussed it," Clark says again, choosing his words carefully. "Look, I'm sad to see it come to this — at one point, I had hoped I could have a future with Lois. But… that's not going to happen. I support her decision."
I nod at that last part. I know none of this will stop the tabloids from viciously mis-characterizing Clark — again — but I hope it will make the job harder.
"Well." Molly sits back. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a producer making big hand motions and pointing to his watch. Molly just flicks her fingers at him. "I'll admit I wasn't expecting this. I'll miss you, Lois."
I reach over to squeeze her hand. She's been a good friend to me, after all, and I hate to distress her. "I'll visit, after I get things settled somewhere. No more guest appearances, though."
"I guess not." Molly glances at the camera. "We're overdue for a commercial break — can I persuade you two to stay on for another segment?"
"I'm afraid not," Clark says. He stands and extends a hand to help me up, but I pretend not to notice and stand on my own. This has to be a clean break. Then his head tilts and his expression goes distant; it should be enough to convince most people. "Excuse me," he says quickly to Molly. "I have to go. Take care, Lois."
I add, "Thanks for having us, Molly."
There's a gust of wind, and I hear someone say, "We're out — back in three."
Show's over, folks. Move along.
It takes a while to extract myself from the studio. I promise to call Molly sometime soon — and apologize for getting on her show under false pretenses. Skipping the dressing room, I head for a bathroom, where I scrub off my make-up, change clothes, put my hair up in a ponytail and put on a baseball cap. Now that it's over, I feel fairly cheerful.
As unobtrusively as I can, I slip out to the back alley. Clark's there, leaning against the adjacent building, resplendent in tie-dye and sunglasses. "Did we do it?"
He squints at the wall behind me for a second and smiles. "I think so. You were great, Lois."
I walk into his arms. "That's Lyn to you, Joe."
He smiles, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes. "I just hate that you're losing your name and your life…"
"I hate that you lost yours, Clark."
He pulls me close and murmurs, "Going up." Before he's done saying it, we're at cloud height.
"Anyway," I continue the familiar argument, "both Clark Kent and Lois Lane effectively ceased to exist a long time ago. We can't let a little thing like that stop us."
He looks at me for a moment, then kisses me until I can't think straight. Finally he pulls back and says, "I love you. Whatever your name is."
"I love you, too. Whatever your name is. What is it, by the way?"
"I decided to go with Joe Spencer." He grins. "It seemed very… ordinary. I'll go get that fake ID later, after you sign the lease on your new place."
"Yeah, you'd better get legal," I tease. "When Lyn's green card expires, she might need to get married in order to stay in the country."
"You can marry anyone you like," he says, trying not to grin. "As long as it's me."
I laugh. "Fair enough." We haven't seriously talked about marriage, but it's looking like a foregone conclusion, and that's okay by me. "So where'd you put all that money I took out of my Lois Lane account?"
"In a suitcase in the Planet safe. I'll get it later today, so we can put it in your Lyn Drozny account. With any luck, everyone will assume I'm heartbroken and leave me alone."
"They won't," I inform him. "But that's okay — you can tell Eduardo that you're quitting because you just can't bear to stay without me. Then you can come work with me. What do you think of calling my site 'The Drozny Report'?"
He laughs. "Sounds good to me, boss. Rest in peace, Lois and Clark."
I kiss him again, just happy to finally be starting fresh. "Long live Joe and Lyn!"