By bakasi < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: September 2006
Summary: At the end of Season 1 Clark confesses his love to Lois and gets rejected. But now things are happening a little differently. When Lois asks him to call Superman for her, he gets furious and runs away. He vanishes for a couple of days and Lois starts to worry that he might have done something really, really stupid. Note: Despite the title, this story is not deathfic.
I need to thank my best friend, because she helped me a lot with this story.
Disclaimer 1: Despite the suggestive title, my story is very far away from deathfic. It's not even WHAMmy.
Disclaimer 2: English is not my first language, so please forgive me for possible grammar disasters.
The characters in this story don't belong to me; I only borrow them and have no intention to earn anything but comments and hopefully encouragement.
Clark stood there, frozen in front of the park bench, not able to say anything.
*This wasn't true!* He hoped that his ears had betrayed him for the first time in his life. But they never had and certainly didn't start right now.
Lois watched him expectantly, obviously waiting for the nod that would tell her that Superman was almost on his way to her apartment. But she wasn't going to get it.
"Oh, I understand," Clark said with a joyless laughter that sounded unusually rough for him. "How can Mr. Hack-from-Nowheresville even consider having a chance compared with Superman or the wealthy Mr. Luthor? What could *I* actually offer?"
He glanced at her with disappointment and wished that he'd never become the Man of Steel. Why had he encouraged her so much while wearing the suit?
"You've got that wrong, I'm not attracted by his powers. It's the *man* inside the suit I've fallen in love with: his bravery, his honesty and his moral standards. If he didn't have powers I would love him just the same," Lois replied softly. "It has nothing to do with him being human."
All of the sudden, Clark went pale, fighting back tears. "Oh, Clark, I'm so sorry," she tried to soothe him.
"Do you really believe what you just said? You would barely notice him if it wasn't for the spandex and his ability to lift rockets into the orbit," he blurted out.
A hot rage of despair was burning inside him. Why didn't she see that Superman wasn't for real and that her future fiance was evil? He wanted her to notice him, he wanted it so badly that he feared to hurt her by accident. This was getting dangerous. But his rage hadn't yet subsided.
"Clark, that's jealousy speaking," Lois remarked matter-of-factly.
"I'm not jealous!" he growled with anger.
"You're irrational at the moment. I love Superman, I really do," Lois interjected, but Clark wasn't finished yet.
"How dare you ask me to contact Superman, when you know quite well that I love you? I have feelings, did you ever think of that?" he continued with a hoarse whisper.
Tears glistened in his eyes. Suddenly all he wanted was to leave the park.
"Just go to your beloved, rich devil and see where it leads you! Even Superman won't be able to save you from his hell! I can't bear this anymore…" He turned around and ran away.
"Clark…" Lois screamed behind him, but he ignored her.
Had he ever felt such burning pain in his heart? The whole day was a catastrophe. The Planet had been destroyed and his last hope of winning Lois over had died just minutes ago. She was going to marry Luther, because Superman would never throw himself into a relationship with her. His broken heart couldn't bear it.
He felt nothing but pain burning inside him. Of course he knew that only Superman was able to save Lois. It was important to spare her from being Luthor's wife. But the burning pain disabled him, made him weaker than the chunk of kryptonite had, months ago.
He didn't really know where to go now. He felt like flying, in order to forget about everything that mattered beneath the clouds. But seeing the suit right at this moment was hard enough. It didn't matter; he would close his eyes until he was alone.
Clark searched for a hiding place. As soon as he reached a group of trees that would cover him, he changed into Superman and then took off into the skies. He flew as fast as he could and headed for the Arctic. He needed its solitude.
Lois still sat on the bench, shocked by the unexpected outburst from her mild-mannered partner. She had never seen him this furious and bit her lip. She hadn't thought for one moment about the effect her question might have on Clark. Asking him to get Superman was usually the easy way of contacting the hero without being in danger. Now, she realized how rude it had been to him. She was sorry about that, but she couldn't change it any more.
She needed to talk to him, because he was her best friend, and she didn't want to lose him. But he needed some time on his own, she was sure about that. Talking to him right now wouldn't help, because he wouldn't listen. She decided to walk over to his apartment in the evening. She would apologize and ask him for forgiveness.
Lois stared at the park around her, but wasn't aware of it. She noticed neither the crowds of people wandering around, nor those playing with their children or throwing balls for their dogs. None of this was important to her. The only thing she cared about right then was the very hurt expression she had seen on Clark's face.
She knew that Lex waited for her answer to his proposal, but she couldn't think about that right now. Clark had called him a devil. She had never understood why he hated Lex so much. But she felt that there was more to it than jealousy. It frightened her. She didn't even worry about how to contact Superman now that Clark had refused to do it. He was her partner, her friend, how was she ever going to fix this?
Sitting on the bench wasn't going to help in any way, so Lois decided to leave the park.
She headed for nowhere specifically. But soon she noticed that her steps took her to the Planet.
The windows were all damaged and the building — once so strong — now bore little resemblance to its former appearance. The globe was gone and now the debris of her dreams looked so naked. Tears filled her eyes, as she remembered the day that she'd first entered the building. She had been full of fear and expectations. Then she saw Clark and herself coming out of the doors, arguing about stories.
She remembered him teasing her, always patiently listening to her babbling. He was so kind and caring. He understood almost everything, and in return she had been so mean. Of course she hadn't meant to be cruel to him, but that knowledge wasn't enough to ease the thought of what she'd done to him.
No, she didn't love him, she told herself. But his friendship was something she would miss badly.
Why did he have to mess this up by telling her that he loved her? Was it true, anyway? He hadn't been affected by the pheromones months ago. Had he said it because the mere thought of her possible marriage with Lex Luther scared him? The man he hated more than anyone in the world?
But Lois knew better. Clark was in love with her, he had told her the truth. Even the best actor would never be able to express all those feelings in one single glance. She had seen it in Clark's eyes for a short moment; caring, dark, brown eyes she could never forget.
He loved her, deeply and honestly, and certainly more than Lex did. How could she even dare to think that he had been lying. And how could she accuse him of messing things up, when she had done that herself.
"Oh, Clark," she whispered. "I am so terribly sorry." She felt an unfamiliar pain in her heart.
She looked one last time at the building that once had been the Planet. Then she decided to leave and go to her apartment. She would wait there for a little while and then visit Clark's apartment. They needed to talk.
Clark found his relief in flying. He flew fast, really fast. He tried to reach his limit in order to break it. He had never sped up like this. The air nearly hurt him. Its pressure lay heavy on his body, but he was stronger than that.
Concentrating on the flight spared him thinking about Lois. Almost. He didn't want to think about her any more. She had torn his heart to pieces. His body might be invulnerable, but his heart surely wasn't.
It didn't work; Lois was still in his mind. He needed to fly faster, tiring himself out, so that he might get his two hours of sleep.
No way. Speeding up even more didn't help. It hadn't helped for hours now. He had seen night and day, all around the world, several times now. Hundreds of times, he assumed. A human being would have never survived this. But he did.
*I'm not attracted by his powers. It's the man wearing the suit that I've fallen in love with: his bravery, his honesty and his moral standards. If he didn't have powers, I would love him just the same.* He heard her voice inside his head.
He would laugh, if it wasn't so painful. His conscious mind repeated her words like a mantra. They weren't going to leave. He had pleaded, even begged for it. He had screamed as well, but her voice was louder than his own.
Flying so fast had made it a little calmer, but its disappearance was something he wished for in vain.
*What do you want? You're not human, and she wants an alien. This is just what she is going to get. There is no difference if it's Clark Kent, the alien, or Superman, the alien. You were the one encouraging her infatuation with Superman. You have no right to blame her for this.*
Superman had not stayed indifferent to Lois, as he had planned to. No wonder she paid more attention to the guy in red and blue. He was far more exciting than Clark Kent from Smallville.
But didn't he have the right to be happy while not wearing the cape? All he wanted was to be loved for who he was and not for what he could do. Lois loved him, but not in the way he wanted. He wished it was real love. The kind of love he felt for her and hoped to receive from her in return.
*Tell her*, a soft voice in the back of his mind begged. *When she knows, she will belong to you and not to Luther. That's all that counts.*
"No, it isn't, Kent. Her well-being is important, nothing else," he replied to himself.
Hours had passed, that passed, seeming like an eternity. It was late afternoon and Lois decided that she had given him enough time to calm down. She wanted him to listen, not to be furious.
Relieved that she could finally go to him and solve their problems, she hurried to his apartment.
She got a cab nearly at once, which seemed quite a miracle for Metropolis. The driver was silent and kept his attention on the streets. The traffic was just like every other afternoon. The streets were jammed and Lois fought with her temper.
Usually she would cope with this easily. But she had never wanted to be somewhere so badly as now, right in front of Clark. And, at the same time, she had never feared so much to actually reach her destination. This was awkward.
But the inevitable always seemed to approach more quickly than anything. Soon the streets were empty enough to drive fast, and of course the driver did so. She also could have taken her own car, but she knew that she was too nervous.
So, when the cab stopped in front of Clark's building, Lois paid the driver and got out of the car.
She went to his front door and knocked. There was neither light, nor a single sound from the inside. Lois knocked once more, this time a bit harder.
"Come on, Clark, I need to talk to you. Please open the door," she said. Nothing was to be heard. Obviously Clark wasn't at home.
She didn't want to leave the place. She didn't want him to escape her. Closed doors had never been a real barrier for Lois Lane. It took her only minutes to break in.
The apartment was silent and dark. She knew that turning on the lights might arouse suspicion. She wanted to talk to Clark, not the police. So she closed the door firmly and then descended the stairs.
She walked over to his sofa, which was so much more comfortable than her own, and sat down. Since it was dark outside, she couldn't see much around her.
Clark's place was as tidy as ever. Lois assumed that Clark hadn't returned home since the morning. She was quite sure that he had been in the mood for smashing things, as he'd left the park so quickly. Oh, if she only could turn back time…
Clark hadn't returned yet. Lois had fallen asleep while waiting. When she woke up, she wondered what time it was. She heard someone speaking, but it wasn't Clark's voice.
Someone was leaving a message on his answering machine. That had woken her up.
"C.K.? I've been calling you for hours. You don't answer your beeper! Where are you? Call me back, okay?" Jimmy said and hung up.
Lois sat up straight. Clark was avoiding Jimmy as well? She looked at her watch. It was two o' clock in the morning. Where was Clark? Lois began to worry that something had happened to him. He hadn't actually been in a good shape when she had last seen him.
Lois stood up and wandered through Clark's apartment, looking in his bedroom, with little of finding him there. Of course it was empty.
Lois returned to the sofa. There was nothing she could do right then. She needed to wait until dawn.
She wanted to fall asleep again, but this time, it wouldn't happen.
In the very moment Clark had decided to return to Metropolis, he heard emergency calls. A bad earthquake in India needed his attention.
It didn't take him much time to get there, but even with super-speed and super-strength there was a lot of work to be done.
He searched for injured people and flew them out of the dangerous area. Clark x-rayed the destroyed buildings to find the survivors. He was able to save most of them, but some died despite all his efforts.
It was one of those disasters that demanded almost more from him than he was able to give. He feared to hurt the seriously injured people by accident, but he couldn't help without touching them.
There were others on a very small line between life and death, but certainly closer to the latter. He had learnt that he couldn't help most of them. If he did, more people died as a result. But that didn't make it any easier for him to abandon small children dying painfully. He winced for every death he couldn't prevent.
Every time he laid a living child in the arms of desperate parents, ending their grief, he got the strength to continue. But the glances of distressed parents, who hoped in vain for him to return with their daughter or son, sent thousands of needles through his body.
It had been noon when Clark had started his work and now he could have watched the sunset, if he'd only had the time. He hoped that there were no major problems back home. But he couldn't be everywhere at the same time. And it was unlikely that Metropolis had to face something worse than this.
Clark helped out the whole night and the following day. He was darn tired, but he didn't rest for a second.
The red and blue colour of his cape had disappeared in the mug and dust of the streets and destroyed houses. The number of injured people didn't seem to get any smaller. Each time he flew through the area he found more victims. But with the passing hours less of them were alive.
After the second sunset, he carried more dead bodies than living. But it was also important to find them. It helped the dependants to mourn their relatives, when they saw them one last time. In addition to that, less epidemic plaques would decrease the number of victims.
When he finally returned home, he saw the dawning of the fourth day. He needed a shower and his bed.
Clark hadn't returned the whole night and was still missing. It was late in the morning, but of the following day, and Lois was really worried. Being off for two days was very unlikely for Clark. He ran off from time to time, but never exceeding more than a few hours.
She had decided to call the hospitals, the police and Perry earlier. None of them knew where he was or might be. She had rejected Lex twice, giving him some lame excuses, which he had accepted so far.
Now a new thought came into her mind. Maybe Clark used his parents for refuge. She had met them once and wondered why she hadn't thought about them earlier.
It wasn't easy to get their phone number, because Clark, of course, knew it by heart. But she finally managed to get it and dialled it. She didn't have to wait long.
"Hi, this is Lois. I'm a friend of Clark's."
"Oh, hi, Lois, how are you? You and Clark haven't been here together for quite a while now. What's the matter?" Martha asked, as kind as ever.
"Lack of time, I guess," Lois replied, not completely honest.
"You don't have to explain, Lois. So how can I help you?"
"Well, I wonder if Clark is in Smallville?"
"No, honey, he hasn't been home for a while," Martha answered.
"Are you sure, Martha? Or does he just refuse to talk to me? I would understand it. But I'm really worried. I've been searching for him for two days. I can't find him anywhere," Lois demanded insistently.
"Clark is not here. But I'm sure he is all right. He can take care of himself. The two of you had a fight, didn't you?"
"Well, yeah, kind of. I'm sorry about it; I was mean to him and a want to apologize," Lois told her.
"I'm sure Clark will return to his apartment sooner or later. Something must be keeping him busy at the moment. He wouldn't leave without telling someone. Be sure about that," Martha tried to soothe her.
"Thanks, Martha. Remember me to Jonathan. Bye."
"Goodbye, Lois," Martha said.
Lois didn't understand how Martha could be so calm. Her son was missing and she wasn't a bit worried. Lois on the other hand was frightened, no matter what Martha had told her. She couldn't stand the thought of not seeing Clark again. It was more painful than she had ever imagined.
She couldn't help but think that Clark had done something really stupid. Martha hadn't seen him in his distressed state after Lois had rejected him. What had she done to him?
Another two days passed and neither the police nor the hospitals had any news. Lois had wanted to contact Superman, but he was helping out on a major disaster in South Asia.
Now he was on his way home, Lois had seen that on television. She was still at Clark's place and had left it only for short times in the last four days.
She had packed a few things and practically moved into his apartment. Missing the returning Clark was the worst thing she could imagine right now.
She had told Lex that her sister Lucy was ill and needed her. But she doubted that he fully bought it. He had said some harsh words in his growing impatience and Lois wasn't eager to meet him at the moment.
His behaviour made it easier to belief that Clark's accusations weren't totally unfounded. But she could deal with Lex later. Clark was more important and she hoped that Superman would be the solution.
Lois glanced at her watch for the thousandth time, at least. Superman had left India with the dawn. How long did it take him to fly to Metropolis? How much time difference was there between Metropolis and India? She could only guess and therefore had no idea when he might return.
Lois paced through Clark's apartment and couldn't rest for a moment. Maybe watching the sky would help her. It didn't exactly make sense, but at least she had something to do.
The second she stepped onto Clark's balcony, she heard the familiar swoosh and a pair of feet touching the ground. She glanced at Superman with a surprised smile, but her smile soon withered.
He was barely recognizable, more brown and grey than red and blue. His face didn't show the almost soft expression he used to wear with her. It was hard, with not even the hint of a smile. She felt unwelcome.
Clark sighed inwardly. Why was Lois here? He didn't want to see her before he got some sleep. He wasn't prepared for this. His soul was still hurting from the misery he had seen in India. Lois was too much for him.
"What are you doing here, Lois?" he said, disquieted.
Lois seemed caught off guard and didn't respond at once.
"Superman," she managed to say, finally. "Clark has disappeared. I beg you to find him."
Seeing her concern, he couldn't help but soften.
"I'm sorry, but I can't, Lois." He couldn't help but sound unfriendly.
"Why?" she asked, appalled. "If you can't do it, who else could?"
"He wouldn't let me. If Clark chooses to disappear, he does," Superman replied firmly.
"I have called the police, his parents, everyone. Something must have happened to him. He wouldn't leave without telling anyone. Please, please, find him," Lois begged and gave him her irresistible glance.
"I'll see what I can do, but I seriously doubt that I will be successful," Superman stated.
He wanted to add that Clark might return, when his apartment wasn't occupied by Lois any more. But how could he actually tell her that, without giving away his secret?
He was too tired to argue with her. He wanted a shower and his bed, but tonight that seemed too much to ask for. He said goodbye to Lois and flew away again.
For a moment, Clark considered heading for Smallville, but somehow his parents didn't seem to be the right solution to his problems this time.
He didn't need to worry about it. There was more than Lois occupying his place that promised to keep him from sleeping. He had no chance to even think about a place to stay, before he heard another call for help. Someone needed him.
The city seemed to drown in a flood of crimes. The first rescue Superman had flown to in Metropolis had only been the beginning of a whole series. Bank robberies, attempted murder, hostage-taking…it didn't seem to end.
Luther felt a kind of release. He had started the flood, which had been down to a loss of temper at first. To his own surprise, it had become sheer amusement.
Who could have guessed that the guy in spandex would be back at that very moment? For once it didn't matter that Superman prevented most of the crimes. No, it was an amazing event. Superman flew as fast as he could and every time he thought he was done with it, another crime occurred.
Luther had always liked the punishment Sisyphus had received. Now he felt like those Greek gods, because he was the one who had punished Superman.
Luther wasn't going to win this game, but he loved to watch Superman play it. It was not really what he had intended for Superman. He wanted him to die with the knowledge that he, Lex Luther, had Lois.
Superman had to suffer and although it was not the step he had had in mind, this made him suffer.
Lex Luther was not completely happy, though. That would have to wait until the death of the so-called hero. But he was as content as the situation allowed him to be.
He knew that the guy in spandex would be crushed about everyone he couldn't save. And there were too many to save, Luther had taken care of that. All he needed to complete his plans was a "yes" from Lois Lane. And he would get it, as sure as he was Lex Luther.
Maybe Superman would like another day of rescues, or even two? Luther was generous, he would get them.
Clark had never been so tired in his whole life. He hadn't slept for seven days and knew that he would fall from the skies sooner or later, if he didn't rest.
But the city wouldn't let him. He couldn't trust his powers any more. His heat vision needed eyes that were able to focus, but his weren't. Each time he flew, he had to be really careful that he didn't fall asleep. He lost altitude from time to time, because he couldn't concentrate.
A bank robbery was his next destination. It was evening and already getting dark. He landed in front of the bank and a single officer stood there.
"Superman," he said. "I'm sorry, nothing has happened here. We are searching for the mistake."
"No robbery?" Superman asked, almost surprised.
"Nope. But thank you so much for caring. We really need to check this alarm!" the officer replied. "Are you okay, Superman?" he asked, as he saw Superman's pale face.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Clark mumbled and flew up and away.
He didn't make it very far. His powers were seriously diminished and he decided to land on the top of a skyscraper.
He couldn't fly home, he knew it. The last eight days had taken their toll. The sun wouldn't help him for at least ten hours. He was grounded.
So Superman watched his surroundings and, as he saw that no one could take a look at him, he changed into Clark. It was the first time after nearly eight days.
With a sigh he stepped to the edge of the building and looked down. He heard no sirens, no screams, nothing. It wasn't his lack of powers, the city was indeed silent.
What a week! It was also the first time he really could mourn the hundreds of people who had died in India and in Metropolis. He hadn't been able to save everyone and that was always hard for him.
Clark turned around to find a stairway down from the roof. All he wanted was sleep, but not here. He deserved a bed, his bed to be precise.
Clark stumbled tiredly across the roof and found the door that led to the staircase. He entered the building and descended the stairs. As soon as he reached the floor, he searched for an elevator. About ten minutes later he was on street level. He called a cab and told the driver the direction.
Lois was desperate. Another four days had passed and Clark hadn't returned. She feared the worst and hoped for the best at the same time.
She had begged Jimmy and Perry for help, but both of them had their own problems to deal with and neither of them had an idea where to find Clark. She must have phoned the hospitals and the police stations hundreds of times. At least it felt like it.
Where was her best friend? Martha and Jonathan wouldn't or couldn't tell her. She believed it was the latter, because both were honest, she knew that.
So the nagging thought that something terrible had happened to Clark refused to leave her mind. Especially since Jimmy had told her that Clark didn't care about Jack any more. He had promised to help him.
Clark didn't trust Luther and his lawyer. He believed in Jack's innocence. But Clark hadn't returned Jimmy's calls. He hadn't visited Jack either, who was definitely in big trouble.
The mere thought that Clark might be lying somewhere in pain, that she might never see him again, left her unable to breath.
He was so kind, generous, funny and patient. His smile was so warm, his voice so comforting. She missed him more than she had ever imagined she could.
When her father had left, it had been easier to bear. She couldn't even think of a life without Clark anymore. Every time she woke up in the morning she ran into his bedroom, to see if he had come back. Every time she found it empty she started to cry.
What had she done to him? He had been there for her, whenever she needed him. He hadn't taken advantage of her, when she had been affected by the pheromones. It must have been tempting.
"Oh, Clark, please, come back!" she whispered and felt tears running down her cheeks again.
*Admit it, Lois, you love him. You told him you didn't, but that's just not true. But now it's too late,* a small voice in her head whispered.
She had turned on the TV in Clark's apartment hours ago, but had been neither watching nor listening. She had hoped that they'd have news about Superman or Clark.
At the same time, there was nothing she feared more. No news about Clark suggested that he hadn't been found dead or seriously injured. It was irrational, and somewhere in her mind Lois knew that. But she didn't care any more.
"This is LNN news and my name is Sharon Lee," the television news anchor interrupted her thoughts. "The series of crimes in Metropolis seems to have died down. Superman has been busy for days to prevent robberies, murder and all other kinds of crime. His last rescue for today was to save a young man, who intended to commit suicide, earlier this evening."
The cameras showed Superman landing on a skyscraper. The screen went black for less than a second and then a man stood on the edge of the building, looking down.
The scenery was filmed from the ground. At first the person was very small, but than the camera zoomed in. The expression on the man's face was so defeated, desperate and lonely!
Lois gasped as she recognized Clark. She could have sworn that there were tears in his eyes, though the camera was not close enough to tell.
"The young man disappeared, apparently after Superman had convinced him to go back downstairs."
Lois didn't hear the rest of the news.
It was the first time in eight days that she had news of Clark. But what kind of news was it?
He had been willing to commit suicide, and all because of her! How could she find him in this big city? Had Superman taken Clark with him? He knew now that his friend was in danger! What if he had left Clark alone? What if Clark tried again? And what if he succeeded?
Lois felt that she was panicking. She needed to find Superman, to be sure that Clark was all right. But maybe Superman would bring him back anyway.
Lois found it unbelievable that Clark was someone who would throw his life away so easily. He always seemed to look on the bright side of things. He must have been really desperate. And it was all her fault.
It was just at this moment, that Clark grabbed his key and opened the door to his apartment. Whether Lois was there or not, he would go to his bed. And take a shower first, of course.
He could barely keep his eyes open. Semi-conscious, he stumbled into his apartment, nearly falling down the stairs.
Lois turned around as she heard the noise.
"Clark!" she cried.
He stopped and looked at her, but didn't say anything, only slightly aware of her presence.
"Oh, Clark, you're back," Lois whispered. "I'm so sorry, so terribly sorry, Clark!"
"Need a shower," he mumbled and brushed Lois forehead with his lips.
Then he continued his path into the bathroom. He could hardly think. His hands were unbuttoning his shirt practically on their own. He removed his tie and threw it onto the floor. Then he was in the bathroom and took the rest of his clothes off. He spun out of the suit and put it in the laundry basket.
The water was a release to his sore body. He had never imagined that he could tire himself out like this. But till then, he had never been awake for eight days and working so hard.
His body was stuck with sweat and mud. But the water removed it all. It felt so good! All he needed any more was to get hours of sleep.
He stepped out of the shower, finally clean after eight days. Then he habitually took his deodorant out of the little cupboard behind his bathroom mirror.
A small bottle of sleeping pills fell out by accident. His mother had forgotten them the last time she had been here. She had promised to buy them for an old lady, back in Smallville.
Clark muttered a curse when the lid opened and pills rolled onto the floor. He grabbed as much of them as he could and flushed them down the toilet.
Then he left the bathroom. A towel was wrapped more or less securely around his hips. Lois still waited for him.
"Clark, please talk to me!" she begged. "I need to apologize. I made a mistake. I shouldn't have asked you to call Superman. And I should have known then that I love you!"
"What?" he had heard only half of it. "Lois, I'm not in the mood for arguing with you," he said slowly, having problems pronouncing the words.
"Clark! Are you drunk?" Lois asked with astonishment.
"Drunk?" Clark mumbled. His mind didn't understand what she meant.
"Why am I asking? You're wasted. Clark, this is important! I've just confessed my love to you, and all you say is 'what?' and that you don't want to argue? Where have you been? You were gone for eight days."
Clark didn't reply and stumbled to his bed, falling onto it with a sigh.
Lois didn't dare ask him about the skyscraper. She didn't know how he would react to her question. What if he ran off again?
"Lois, I'm tired to death. I really can't do anything else but sleep!"
"Clark, what has happened in the last few days?" Lois insisted.
He said nothing in return because he had already drifted away. This was not what Lois had in mind. She wanted to fix things between them and she wanted to do it now. She grabbed his shoulder and shook him slightly. Clark groaned.
"Lemme sleep," Clark begged, his eyes still closed.
Lois nodded with disappointment and went away from him. She passed the bathroom as she turned to the kitchen. A brown box caught her eye.
*Pills?* She realized, confused, and approached the bathroom. She picked up the box and read the inscription — sleeping pills. Very strong ones and the bottle was nearly empty.
*Oh my god, he tried it again!*
Lois couldn't run fast enough into Clark's bedroom.
He was sound asleep, which worried her even more. He had drunk a lot and taken the pills. That wasn't a good combination. She shook him hard, but he didn't seem to react.
"Clark, wake up!" Lois screamed hysterically.
She grabbed his shoulder, slapped his cheeks and shook him again.
"Clark! Clark!" she repeated.
A soft murmur escaped his throat.
"Yeah, that's good," Lois said, pleased by the sight of a waking Clark.
She continued the rough treatment. Slowly Clark woke up, opened his eyes and became aware of his surrounding.
"Dammit, Lois," he yelled.
She froze. She had never heard him use those words.
"I wanna sleep!"
"You can't sleep now. I want you to stay awake. Come on, Clark, you don't wanna die."
"Die? Not goin' to die," he mumbled.
"How many of those pills did you take, Clark? Hey, stay with me!" she shouted, when he closed his eyes again. "How much did you drink?"
"Nothin'. Please, Lois." He winced.
"Clark, you don't wanna kill yourself. Please tell me the truth! I can help you," Lois insisted.
"Kill myself?" He sounded confused. "Why should I kill myself? I didn't take anything."
"I'm going to call an ambulance!" Lois stated and headed for the telephone.
The words sank slowly into Clarks mind until he realized what they meant. He turned around and grabbed Lois's hand as she lifted up the receiver.
"No ambulance, Lois. I didn't drink and those damned pills fell on the bathroom floor. I'm not going to die on you, at least not if you let me sleep now," he said almost harshly.
Then he sank back down on his pillows with a sigh.
"But Clark…" Lois said helplessly.
"We'll discuss this tomorrow, when I'm capable of it!" he said firmly and drifted away again. He could almost ignore what she said next.
"Clark, I don't want anything between us for another minute. I've waited eight days to speak with you. Your sleep can wait a minute. I know that you're mad at me. I need to apologize. I love you, Clark. I don't want to wait with this!"
"Love me?" he mumbled, having difficulty gaining a sense of her words.
Suddenly, she was kissing him with passion. He felt the warmth of her body against his own.
"Yes, Clark, I love you. I'm sorry I didn't realize it earlier. So, where have you been all this time?"
"India and Metro," he replied, not realizing what he was telling her.
"India? You mean Indiana?" Lois asked, sounding confused.
"No," he groaned again. "Oh, Lois, I haven't slept for days, even I need rest."
A moment later he was fast asleep.
He wasn't going to wake up. Lois glanced time and time again at her watch. Twelve hours had passed and Clark had barely moved. If he hadn't been breathing she would have feared that he was dead.
She still hadn't really talked to him. But now she understood that he must have been exhausted. She paced through his apartment and waited. Her patience was taxed.
Again she wondered, what might have happened to him. She'd believed him earlier, but now she began to fret again. Had he lied to her about the pills? But he was still breathing.
Half an hour later, she heard noise from his bedroom and walked in. Clark was lying on his back and was awake. He glanced at her and then at himself. The sight of himself, naked, only slightly covered by his blankets, caused him to blush.
"Lois!" he said and pulled the blankets a bit higher. "So you're still here."
"Of course I am, Clark. It's good that you're finally awake again."
"How long did I sleep?"
"Almost thirteen hours," she replied.
"Thirteen? So I *really* was tired."
"Tired?" Lois laughed. "You were wasted, if you ask me."
"Wasted?" Clark asked confused. "I didn't drink a single glass."
"So what was wrong with you instead? I confessed my love, but you didn't say anything. Oh, Clark, I'm so sorry."
"Confessed your love? To whom?"
"To you! Who else? You don't even remember? And you tell me that you weren't wasted?"
"Yes, Clark. You were missing for eight days. I was frightened to death. It wasn't until then that I realized my feelings for you. I'm still so sorry for what I did to you in that park. Will you forgive me?" Lois pleaded.
"Lois, I…" Clark began.
"Of course, I know it's hard for you. I was very mean. I promise, I won't hurt you anymore." She started sobbing.
"Shh, Lois, don't cry. Please don't cry. I was just so disappointed and angry at myself. I couldn't deal with it then, so I ran off into the park. I didn't intend to stay away for so long, but I couldn't help it."
"Oh, Clark, where have you been, all this time? Superman said that he wouldn't be able to find you. I was scared to death when you tried to commit suicide, and all that just because of me."
"Suicide? No, Lois. You hurt me and I was desperate, but I wouldn't commit suicide."
"But the skyscraper! Clark, I saw you there, on television," Lois replied.
"Television? Oh my god, I should be more careful. No, Lois, believe me, I didn't try to kill myself."
"So why was Superman there? Why else, if he didn't save you?"
Clark didn't answer her question.
"I didn't know what to do!" Tears were streaming down her face.
He held her tightly and tried to soothe her.
*Lois deserves to know,* Clark told himself.
He couldn't justify keeping certain facts to himself any more.
"Lois, I'm sorry for this. Superman was on that skyscraper because he was too tired to fly." He swallowed and then continued. "Lois, I was too tired to fly, yesterday."
"You?" she gasped. "So you didn't mean Indiana, it really was India?"
He nodded and bit his lip.
"Lois, that's the reason why I took your asking for Superman so badly. It wasn't jealousy. Well, some part of it was, I guess. Look at me," he whispered.
There weren't even the glasses to cover his face. He hadn't even thought about them earlier.
"Look at me, and don't make a second confession of love before you really mean it," he added with a sigh. So this was fear.
"You're really him…" Lois stammered.
"Well, yes. I couldn't return because of the earthquake and the series of crimes. I need to apologize for my behaviour, when I met you here. I was already tired, then. Tired and devastated. All those dying people! I was still so unhappy about the things you said to me. I'm sorry, Lois, I should have been more polite."
"I can't believe it, you're Superman!" Lois gasped.
"I am Clark, Lois. Superman is just a disguise," he said sharply.
"Clark! Why didn't you tell me earlier? This whole mess would never have happened if you'd only said a word." she shot back with a slight hint of anger in her voice.
"You're mad at me. I understand that. But, Lois, think about it. You were ignoring me. I wanted you to love me for who I am. I wanted you to love me as Clark. Remember, what you said in the park: that you would love Superman, the normal guy. That was just not true, then. I was there, right in front of you, and you rejected me. That hurt more than I can say. What would have happened if I told you the truth right there?" Clark replied softly.
"So that's why you ran away so quickly. It must have been so hard for you. I see that now."
She kissed him again, intense and breath-taking.
"It killed me, when I thought that you had tried to commit suicide. You were suffering because of me. I was so anxious that I would never ever see you again. I can't live without you. I learnt that lesson during those horrible eight days. I can't even bear the mere thought. I love you, Clark Kent."
"I love you too, Lois, so much. Since the first day I saw you," Clark replied and kissed her passionately.