A Matter of the Heart

By Evelyn Catano (evelyn4lc@aol.com)

Summary: Clark's cooking for Lois, and it's more than food he plans to dish up. How will she digest his secret, he wonders? Lois' response gets put on hold when Clark's life is endangered by kryptonite.


Clark and Lois had been doing some serious dating for several months, becoming very close, and, as Clark was finally able to know that Lois did indeed love him, so also did he see that, more than ever, he wanted to spend his life with her. But there was something that still hung between them, something that was unfair to keep from her, but a fact of his life that could also cost him her love and trust. He had to tell her.


Lois had come over to Clark's apartment. She always enjoyed having him cook for her. On this Saturday morning, it was not quite 10:00 a.m., and she was anxiously awaiting a special breakfast he was preparing for the two of them.

He had made a big to-do about her not helping, so she had resigned herself to sitting at the table, just watching him—something she really did not mind doing at all. Although, she embarrassed herself when she realized how much she was staring. He was simply dressed in a shirt and jeans, and was busy at the kitchen counter with his back to her. He never ceased to amaze her with this understated strength he seemed to have.

As he finished setting the glasses of orange juice and mugs of coffee on the table and had turned back to the sink, Lois came up behind him. She put her hands on his shoulders, running them down his back and bringing them down around his waist in a hug. He turned slowly around, cupped her face with both of his hands, and bent forward to kiss her, and then said, "I love you. Want a grape?" And he plopped one into her mouth.

She replied, as soon as she could, "Where ever did you get the fresh fruit this time of year? Must have cost a fortune!?" her arms still around him.

"Oh, I'm just very resourceful," he raised his eyebrows over his glasses and grinned broadly. Then he kissed her on the temple, and pulled out a chair for her to sit while he served a fabulous Spanish omelet for two with muffins and slices of fruit on the side including: mango, kiwi, papaya, peaches, strawberries, and more grapes.

After breakfast had been cleared, she and Clark both sat down on the couch.

"Clark, breakfast was just great. Thank you for having me over."

"I really like having you here, Lois." He leaned toward her, took her hand, pulling her closer, and kissed her gently. "I love you more than anything in this world." His thoughts were of how he loved her even more than his own life.

"And I love you."

He suddenly stood up with such a start that she became alarmed.

"Clark! What is it?"

"Lois, do you remember that day in the park when I first told you that I had been in love with you for a long time?"

"Yes, of course," she replied, almost in a whisper.

"Well, it was true. I have been in love with you for such a long time."

"I know. I really kind of always knew, even though you tried to take it back. There was still always something in your eyes, trying to tell me, even when I didn't want to see it. I am glad that we are past that now in our relationship. No more wasting time avoiding the truth about our feelings for each other. But Clark, what's wrong?" she spoke quickly, fighting her confusion.

She looked up at him. Here was this man, this wonderful man—so kind and giving, and he loved her this much. There was a time not so long ago when she thought she would never trust another man in her life. But Clark Kent had been thrust into her professional life against her wishes, and, though she had fought it, he had worked his way into her heart.

He stood in front of her, trying to decide what to say next, struggling to replace his fear with resolution. He finally spoke, "Do you remember a long time ago when you asked me if I had any big secret— something I would never tell anyone?"

She responded, "Yes, but that was just because I was hiding that man in my apartment, and thought I needed some leverage with you before I could confide it."

"I know, Lois. But there was something, and now I need to tell you. I have a secret that I want you to know and that I hope you will help me keep— This is hard, really hard, and the news may hurt you, too," he stated, knowing that he could lose her over this. This was one of the few times he ever remembered really sweating.

"Clark, whatever it is, I love you. I will understand. It can't be that bad, and, whatever it is from your past, don't worry. I promise that I will help you get through this. I don't think I have ever seen you this upset. Please, just tell me!" Her words flew out at a mile a minute.

He began pacing up and down in front of the coffee table. "This is even more difficult than I thought it would be. I guess when a person has had to keep a secret for so long—I just don't know how you are going to take this. But I can't ask you to marry me until we have cleared this hurdle!"

"Oh, Clark, darling, what is it?" she asked as she rose from the couch and went over to him, offering him an embrace he could not refuse.

Thoughts continued to race through his mind. He could never have guessed that he would ever love any one person this much. How could he stand it if she took his news badly? He knew the possibilities well. Lois was not one to forgive easily when she felt betrayed. How would she respond to this—a secret involving his whole being! With this knowledge was a revealing of his whole self, a scary thing even if he were not different. Oh, how he wished he were just an average human being.

After several moments of such a sweet embrace, in an effort to help him, Lois started, "Clark, please— It's okay. You can tell me. You know I have things from my past that I am not so proud of. Of course, you already know about Claude. That creep—he almost ruined my life—made me totally suspicious of all men. If you hadn't come into my life, and never gave up on me— I love you, Clark."

Knowing that he had dragged this on too long already, Clark took a deep breath, wondering when he would be able to breathe easily again. He would be holding it over the next few minutes. He gently grabbed Lois by the shoulders and led her back to the couch to sit.

Well, he thought, here goes. "Lois, I AM Superman."

"Clark, now I know you have been jealous of him before, but you don't have to worry about that anymore. I want YOU. I—"

Clark interrupted her with, "No, Lois, wait. I really AM Superman." And with that he removed his glasses, setting them on the coffee table, and unbuttoned his shirt, slowly revealing a familiar red "S."

Lois sat so still, just staring at his chest, then his face, as his words and actions finally hit home. He was Superman! A million thoughts started going through her mind, and, stunned, she remained motionless on his couch.

He had somehow expected outrage, yelling, but this really scared him. Clark walked over to her and knelt down, trying to take her hands in his, but she grabbed them back away from him.

"Lois, please say something. Tell me what you're thinking."

"No, Clark or Superman or whatever. I have to think. I never expected—I don't know—I'm so confused. I guess that this would explain your sudden disappearances."

"I am Clark. I've always been Clark Kent. Please, you must have a lot of questions, and I want you to know everything—everything I know," his voice betraying his concern.

Lois stammered, "I—I—I can't believe you never told me—," and off she went on one of her tangents, even yelling at times. "I trusted you. How could you have kept this from me? You really had me fooled. It must have given you plenty of laughs behind my back." She couldn't believe the man she had trusted had kept something so big from her.

Yet all through this, even with her stomping back and forth, he felt that she at least was venting her feelings. He felt that he could get through this as long as she was talking to him.

"Clark, I thought you loved me."

"I do, Lois, and that's why I'm telling you now."

Suddenly it hit her—all she had put him through, how she must have hurt him. She stopped dead in her tracks. She felt so much all at once— too much to deal with.

"Clark, I have to go—"

"But, Lois—," his heart really sank now.

"I can't talk about this right now. I have to have time to sort this out. Please, I just have to go home where I can think."

"Okay," he spoke it, sounding almost lost. His sad eyes lingered on her face.

"Just stay right there," she ordered as she grabbed her purse and jacket and walked slowly to his front door, feeling his eyes on her all the way. She turned and said only, "I will call you," and left, closing the door behind her.

With that, it seemed to Clark, was an air of cold finality, of all the light going from his life. He didn't move for several minutes. He wanted to go after her, but he knew she deserved time to sort this out for herself. It was no small thing he had revealed to her. But oh, how much torture this was. Would she ever understand, ever trust him again? How could he stand it? His heart felt such turmoil and pain that he thought kryptonite might have been easier to take than this. He dropped on to the couch, feeling such a wave of despair come over him. Home beckoned to him, and he could have flown there in a minute, but didn't want to miss Lois if she came back or called. Finally, he gave in and dialed the phone. He had to talk to someone.

"Hello," Martha Kent answered on her cordless phone.

"Mom," Clark could barely get the one word out—he was so upset.

"Oh, honey, you told her, didn't you?"

"Yes, and I thought things were going to be okay. I mean I knew she would be angry and upset, but I hoped we would be able to talk it out. She did vent a few things on me, but then just left before we could really talk it through. She said she would call, but I'm afraid—afraid she will never speak to me again."

Martha answered, "Now, Clark, you told me yourself that you figured she would need some time to get used to the idea, to come to terms with it. You just have to give her all the time she needs, and be there when she is ready. I'm sorry your father isn't here right now." She wished they were both there to give him the hug he needed, but hoped her words would get him through. They talked for over an hour, Martha trying to give him all the reassurance and support she could. By the end of their conversation, he felt a little better.

She concluded, "Now just remember that she does love you. I know she'll come around."

"Thanks, Mom, I'll call you tomorrow," he said as he hung up the phone. ***

Lois sat in her jeep for what seemed like an eternity, just leaning her head on the steering wheel, trying to clear her thoughts. She finally started it up and drove home, feeling so glad when she was finally able to slam the door of her apartment behind her, locking out the world. Home, sweet, home, she thought. Ironic, though, how it had never seemed so empty before. Without Clark, her life would be empty. Clark—Clark or Superman.

Wow! Was this big or what? She laughed unconvincingly to herself. How could she even begin to sort out her feelings here? She felt so stupid—how could she have not seen it? But all the pieces fit together. It made perfect sense. They did always look alike, but she had never allowed herself to admit it. She had been so attracted to both men—one man. It was overwhelming. She was loved by Superman after all, her own Clark!

She started to pace again—thinking back to the time when Lex had proposed—when Clark had first told her he loved her, and how she had told Superman that she would love him even if he were an "ordinary man leading an ordinary life." She had hurt him so terribly as Clark and as Superman. How could he still love her? She proceeded to torture herself with memories of things she had done, things she had said. She finally could hold in the emotions no longer. She started sobbing uncontrollably and ended up crying herself to sleep, though it was only early afternoon.

She couldn't believe it when she awoke over 2 hours later. She immediately thought of Clark, and how she had left him. Oh, no, what would he be thinking of her continued silence? She turned on the radio to seek out some soothing music while she tried to decide what to do, but, instead, got a news bulletin about a hostage situation at a store just a few blocks away.

Suddenly, she knew that she had to see Superman, and she just knew he would be there. She ran a comb through her hair and grabbed her car keys.

She was able to park close enough to see several patrol cars gathered up ahead. The crisis apparently over, officers were handcuffing a suspect, while others seemed to be taking statements from witnesses and from Superman.

YES, there he was! It really struck home how different he was in the suit. She could easily have believed that the morning's events had all been just a dream. But the reality was too strong—too important to try to ignore. She couldn't bury her head in the sand. It was her turn to take a deep breath as she walked slowly up to him, seeing him start as he saw her approaching. He stepped toward her, away from the officers.

She spoke first, "Superman, I would like to speak with you." And she whispered, "Will you please come to my place later? At about 6:00?" With that she left him, and proceeded to take her own statements from the police and witnesses about what had happened. She knew Clark would add to her notes later. Funny, she really did have her own "inside track" with Clark being Superman.

His mind had raced when she had neared, wondering if she would betray him, even unintentionally, to those around. But he didn't have to worry about that. Oh, but he was miserable to see her like this. He could tell she had been crying. And he was responsible. The one thing he never wanted to do was hurt Lois. But she was speaking to him—that had to be a plus. This day had already seemed an eternity.

He arrived back at his apartment, showered and changed, looked at the clock, and sighed. It was only 5. He had to wait a whole hour before he was due at Lois'. And since she had asked him to come over when he was Superman, was she expecting him in "the suit?" Well, no matter, he would go as himself, as Clark. He had been hoping that sharing his secret with her would simplify his life. That certainly had not happened yet—perhaps the opposite for now.

He decided to try to relax. He lay down on his bed and shut his eyes. He didn't actually want to sleep, but this day had taken its toll on him, too. He was exhausted from the emotional drain, but time to rest was not to be his for now. He had only had his eyes closed for a couple of minutes when he heard sirens.

"Just great," he thought. "Hope this won't take long." An instant change later and he was out the back door to seek out the problem.

As he flew, his thoughts kept returning to Lois. She gave his life real meaning, and he was so tired of being alone. Of course, at least he had always been able to turn to his parents, but they could not fill the void Lois would leave if he couldn't work things out with her. He tried to shake off the feelings of loneliness and to focus on the source of the sirens.

Well, there they were—fire engines, ambulance, police—at the pier. A car had driven over the side and into the black water. The driver had escaped and had been rescued from the bay, taken into custody, and was being checked out by the ambulance staff and firemen. The suspect was a thief, and had given the police quite a chase until the pier. His assignment had been to raid a vault at LexLabs. The police knew he had taken radioactive materials which had to be retrieved and secured. And the concern was that the container seal may have been breached with the impact. It was still in the vehicle under water.

Several divers were standing by when Superman arrived, but since it would be easier for him to search for the canister, it was agreed that he would go. They filled him in on all of the details. He would check out the canister and bring the car up for them.

What none of them knew was that the thief had also found a small last remnant of a certain planet. He had grabbed it out of the vault, fascinated with its green glow. With the crash, it had settled on the floor of the vehicle.

Lois had heard the sirens, too, and listened to the radio to hear of the rescue in progress. There was nothing that could keep her away. She raced to the site, and arrived as Superman disappeared in the dark water. She bit her lip, wishing she could have wished him luck or— something.

The car had settled on the bottom with the driver door hanging open. Superman scanned the vehicle for the missing receptacle and spotted it on the back seat. It looked totally intact with the seal as they had described, but he began getting a bad feeling about something. He shrugged it off and began lifting the car. It tilted downward slightly, the open door towards him, when something dropped out and fell at his feet. Superman looked down. Oh, my God, it's kryptonite, he thought. He started feeling dizzy and weak, still struggling to hold the vehicle up. But the pain and weakness increased and he felt his knees buckling. He could not hold it any longer, and, as he collapsed, the full weight of the car settled on top of him, pinning him to the ocean floor. His thoughts went to Lois. Would he ever see her again?

He garnered all of his remaining strength to push it off of himself, raising it up several feet, only to have it fall right back down on top of him. He felt himself drifting close to unconsciousness.

"Lois—" His mind called out to her one last time, as he blacked out. ***

Up above, everyone wondered when he hadn't come up. Lois was especially getting worried. She knew he had said before that he could hold his breath for 20 minutes, but it had been at least 15 minutes already and still no sign of Superman. All present were quickly coming to the conclusion that he must be in trouble.

Lois could hardly breathe. She had managed to inch her way through the crowd that had converged on the scene, finally using her press pass to get close enough to question some of the officers. The divers were getting their gear and lights to go down in a search for the Man of Steel and the car. The bit of daylight left would also help a little.

In they dove, at the spot where the car had gone down. It only took a minute for them to spot it about 15 feet down, but it took a closer look to show them that he was trapped under it. The three divers were able to pry up the vehicle just enough to pull him out. He floated there limply, surrounded by his cape. Two of the divers grabbed his arms, pulling him up to the top. As soon as they broke surface, one of them held his head, while the other tried to check his vitals. He was not breathing. As a boat neared to retrieve them, they attempted mouth-to- mouth on him—on Superman!

Everyone was stunned into silence at the pier, watching Superman being pulled onto the deck of the boat, his body limp and lifeless. Lois' heart sank. Nooooooooo! I can't lose him now, her thoughts screamed.

Paramedics were able to find a faint pulse, as they continued him on oxygen, however, his breathing remained so shallow, barely registering. And, even in this state, they had been unable to start any IV's. His skin continued to be impenetrable, but also, with what little they knew of Kryptonians, they realized that medication used for humans might not have worked for him, anyway, or even had adverse effects. They had no way of knowing. All they could do was continue to monitor his vital signs and ready him for transport to the hospital.

As the paramedics secured him on a stretcher, Lois managed to get to Inspector Henderson, who was there, standing grave-faced, next to the ambulance. She saw Clark, "her" Clark, lying there, so pale and still, with an oxygen mask over his face.

"Inspector, please, can I go in the ambulance with him to the hospital?" she pleaded.

"Well, since he has no known next of kin, and I know he considers you a good friend—okay," Henderson replied. But, though she yearned to be close to him, to hold his hand, to try to talk to him, she had to settle for riding up in front with the driver and trying to peer through a small window to the back. As they sped with siren and lights going, she realized that there may be little they could do for him, but he had come out of close calls before.

"Oh, he just has to be all right," she thought aloud. The driver looked over at her with a hesitant smile, trying to be reassuring, but just nodded. The ride seemed interminable.

When they arrived, Henderson's car pulled in right behind, and a medical team was waiting to meet them. While the stretcher was rushed into the ER, they had to wait in the hall. During their wait, the inspector received a call from officers still at the pier. He pulled Lois aside to fill her in. The car had been retrieved from the water by a crane. When it was raised, a substance had been found by the divers— a rock which Henderson felt had to be kryptonite. This would explain what had happened to Superman.

Lois tried to maintain her composure, not wanting to give away too much. She had been seriously dating Clark Kent for several months now, and that was common knowledge. Too much emotion here might evoke suspicions. She tried to think about their future together, holding on to the thought that they would have a chance at one. Waiting was the worst. But during the wait, she remembered that it was her job to report the story, so she called it in.

Finally, a doctor came out and spoke to Inspector Henderson, and the inspector introduced Lois. The report held a little hope for them. Superman was still unconscious. His heartbeat was steady, but respiration remained very slow and shallow. And they knew of nothing more they could do, but wait. Apparently, he had swallowed a lot of water after the exposure to kryptonite must have rendered him unconscious, and no one knew how long a superman could handle a lack of oxygen. He was now considered to be in a coma with the doctors afraid to give a prognosis. In a human, they would have been certain of extensive brain damage.

"Can I see him?" Lois asked, pleading with her eyes, trying to sound calm.

"Well," the doctor hesitated, "I guess your presence couldn't do any harm. We know so little about his physiology anyway. As a friend, your presence could help. Maybe you could try talking to him. We aren't even sure how to interpret his brain waves."

The doctor led them to his room. There he lay in white sheets, upper chest exposed with hook ups to monitors on his chest and head. The inspector pulled up a chair for her, but the doctor and he remained only briefly. They would return later as they both had to prepare a public statement and report on the status of the Man of Steel.

The second she was alone with him, she immediately took his hand in hers, lifting it to her cheek, saying softly, "Oh, Clark, please don't leave me," while fighting back the tears. Then Lois kissed his cheek, lingering there, realizing how Clark had always been there for her, as Clark or as Superman. She remembered her confusion and anger after he had told her, and she knew she had a right to her reaction, but now she would have traded anything for more time with him.

Nurses came and went at intervals, but they let her stay. She had been there with him for about an hour, when she heard a light tap at the door. It was Perry.

"Lois, I heard about it and came to the press conference they held, and Henderson told me you were still here. They let me come in for a minute. Are you okay?" he asked as he looked at the figure in the bed, then back at her.

She nodded, but looked totally drained.

"Why don't you let me buy you a cup of coffee?" he asked sympathetically.

"Oh, Perry, thanks. Do you think you could bring me a cup? I don't want to leave him."

Perry put his hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, kid."

"He just has to be okay. He's done so much for this city—for the world!"

Perry just replied, "Try to prepare yourself, Lois. Who knows—? And where's Clark? He should be here with you."

"Oh, Perry, I forgot that I promised I'd tell you for him. His parents had an emergency, so he flew home early today. He said that he hoped he'd just have to be gone a few days." Lois tried her best to cover, then thought, Oh, no, his parents!

After Perry left, Lois decided that she should call the Kents. They, of course, may not know that Clark had told her his secret, but she could at least tell them personally about his status. They would not be able to come to be with "Superman", but she could try to be there for them. Maybe, somehow, it might make them feel a little better.

She didn't want to leave him, but told the nurse that she would be back as soon as she got a snack. They had told her that she could use the phone in Clark's room, but she didn't want to take a chance with the link to his parents. She found a pay phone in the waiting room, and was relieved that the room was empty.

"Hello," said a familiar voice.

"Hello, Martha." She was barely able to get her words out.

"Oh, Lois! Let me get Jonathan!" As he went to the other phone, Martha continued, "I'm so glad you called. We heard about it on the news and couldn't even get through to the hospital. How is he?" her voice faltering slightly.

As Lois described his condition—the coma, how he looked, and what the doctors feared—she tried to sound as hopeful as she could for them. They wanted to come, but she talked them into waiting, promising to let them know if his status at all changed.

She heaved a huge sigh as she hung up the receiver. The reason why Clark was the person he was became more and more obvious the better she got to know his parents. They were upset, but actually ended up offering more support to her than she felt she did for them. Oh, how she would love to be part of that family someday.


She had slept for a few hours on a couch in the waiting room, until they let her come back to his bedside the next morning. It was about 9 a.m. and about fifteen hours since he had been pulled from the water, yet nothing seemed to have changed. She was at a loss what she could do, but then an idea popped into her head.

By noon, they noticed that his breathing seemed to be improving, getting stronger and steadier. The nurse left to report to the doctor.

Lois again took his hand and, suddenly, felt him move. She felt a slight squeeze on her hand. She looked up quickly to see his eyes fluttering open. "Lois?" it came out in an almost inaudible whisper.

"Clark, I'm here. Quiet now. Just rest. I won't leave you," she answered. Her heart grew wings as she summoned the nurse.

The doctor and nurse rushed in together. There were smiles all around as they were able to get appropriate responses from "Superman" for all of their questions. Lois only left for a moment to call his parents from the pay phone. He amazed the staff with his recovery so much that they had no good reason to refuse him when he requested to be discharged that evening.

Lois had left early, just after his full recovery was confirmed. She just couldn't stand being there any longer, worrying about what others would see, and not be able to kiss him, hug him, and tell him how much she cared. She also didn't mind the chance to stop by her place to shower and change. She had told him that she would be waiting at his apartment. He told her where he hid the extra key. *****

There she was when Superman flew onto his balcony and came in through the back door. There she was—his angel.

"Lois—" they rushed to each other for a long hug—the kind where he held one arm around her and caressed and held the back of her head with the other hand. He felt like he would never get too much of looking at her, of seeing the love shining in her eyes back at him. They kissed, long and deep.

He released her reluctantly, and only long enough for a split- second change into a shirt and jeans. Then, gathering her up in his arms, he kissed her again.

"When do you want to go to the moon?" Clark asked her, his eyes teasing.

"Clark, you remember?"

"Yes, yes, my love," he replied, his smile beaming down at her. "Your song pulled me back. I don't know how, but I could hear you—at first, as if from very far away, but then your voice kept sounding closer. Now I love that song more than ever. Please, sing it for me now."

He pulled her to the couch to sit. And she sang it for him—only him:

Fly me to the moon And let me play among the stars Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars In other words, hold my hand In other words, darling, kiss me.

Fill my heart with song And let me sing forevermore. You are all I long for, All I worship and adore. In other words, please be true. In other words, I love you.

They remained there on the couch, just holding each other, knowing how much they had, how much they had almost lost.