Continuing Tales

And Then There Was Light

A Lois & Clark Story
by Anti-Kryptonite

Part 7 of 23

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

I tried. I really did. I cleaned up all my research and made sure it was ready to be looked through in the morning. I rearranged a couple items of furniture to make it easier for Clark to move around and situated a chair close to one of the windows in case—or rather, when—he wanted to soak in some more sunlight. I even washed the coffee mugs used by all our visitors. But in the end, I just couldn't stay inside. Lois Lane had been resurrected such a short time ago, and she was much too alive now for me to hold still.

Slinging on a jacket, I made certain to lock the door carefully behind me. With any luck, Clark would sleep deeply and never know I had briefly left. With even better luck, I'd be able to find Superman. I didn't allow myself to consider just how much astronomical luck I'd need to get more than just a moment with the superhero.

The bodyguards Henderson had assigned me were probably around somewhere, but I didn't waste my time looking for them. If I ended up just taking a walk around the block, they could follow me; if Superman actually made an appearance, they could take a break.

"Superman?" I called quietly, little louder than a whisper. He had promised he would be around, and Clark had seemed to think he could hear a fire in a Metropolis warehouse even while answering emergencies out of the country, so…okay, maybe it was a stupid idea, but it was the only one I had. He had, after all, told me himself that he had good hearing. "Superman?"

"Good evening, Lois."

I whirled and found myself looking up at Superman, hovering a foot in the air, his cape swirling about his shoulders. Awe choked me for a moment, and all I could do was smile mutely up at him. When I finally got my voice back, I managed an intelligent, "Superman!"

"You called?" The nearby streetlights illuminated the flash of humor in his dark eyes.

"I…yes, I did." I straightened, furiously trying to get a hold of my dignity. "I wasn't sure it would work, but I…I needed to talk to you. Wanted to talk to you," I amended a bit breathily. Every time he left, I swore I'd be more calm and collected the next time I spoke with him, and every time I saw him again, I broke that promise. It was even worse now, when I had, for so long, thought him dead.

"Well, this is a bit conspicuous." Superman glanced over his shoulder—probably straight at the bodyguards I hadn't yet caught a glimpse of. "Why don't I give you a lift?"

My breath caught in my throat. He couldn't possibly mean…could he? "A lift?" I repeated. "You mean…"

His amused smile was rare and even more amazing than his usual stern expression. "I mean…a lift." And his arms lifted me from the ground and collected me close to his chest.

And I was flying.

Delighted by his gesture—and an excuse to loop my arms around his neck—I ignored the sight of Metropolis falling away beneath my feet and stared up at Superman. I wanted to memorize every one of his features—I had memorized them all, poring over every newsclip and photograph available—but he was different in the flesh. More real, more stunning, more…just more.

"Wow," I said aloud, inwardly doing my best not to appear too awed. The flight was amazing, no question; he, however, was enough to amaze even the most jaded individual. "This beats taking a cab."

Superman's chuckle rumbled through his chest, making his amusement a sensation I felt as well as heard. "I'm rather fond of it myself."

"You are?" I winced, but it was too late. The words had already winged their way out into the skies cradling our bodies. "I mean, it's…well, natural for you, kind of like walking is for us, you know? So, well, I just wasn't sure you thought of it as—"

I could have kissed him when he interrupted my nervous rambling. Actually, I could have kissed him, period. "I enjoy the small pleasures as well the large, Lois." His voice caressed me; his eyes enflamed me.

My stomach dropped out from under me, lost to the night's mist behind us. Even an explosion going off right next to us couldn't have gotten me to look away from him at that moment. It would be so easy to believe that we were the only two people in the world, that the moon and stars were shining just for us, and that he was telling me so much more than he was saying. But I had just barely gotten him back after thinking him gone forever. That was enough of a miracle for me to try to comprehend…at least for now.

So I found breath enough to form a small laugh, and I tore my eyes from his piercingly intent gaze. "I should have known. Clark said you were probably just like us, that without the flying you could be an ordinary person."

"No." Superman drew me a little closer to himself, his skin radiating a warmth almost enough to counteract the January chill around us. "I am different. But there are some things that are the same."

Idiot! I raged inwardly at myself. He's staring right at you, taking you out for a flight, and you can't even get yourself to form a single coherent sentence! Wake up! Show him—and yourself—that you can be a competent reporter again!

"Uh…" I had to swallow to give myself time to come up with a few more intelligible words. "Clark also said that you…he was…have you spoken to Henderson?"

"I did. Why?"

"Did he mention that the warehouse where you found us was burnt to the ground last night?"

"Yes." Superman met my questioning eyes, his expression grave. "Trust me, Lois: had I known there was a fire there, I would certainly have protected those men."

"I know." Daringly, I reached up and ran my hand down his neck and along his shoulder. "You were saving innocent people—and, well, I know you don't presume to esteem one life above another, but…you were doing what you always do—saving the world."


Oddly, his downcast expression reminded me of Clark. "You were doing what you thought best," I told him, feeling a bit more confident. It was strange how emboldening it was to realize that Superman could use encouragement just as Clark or Jimmy or myself could.

He arched a brow in an almost sardonic expression. "Henderson said Clark sounded like he thought I left them there on purpose."

"He's not well yet," I said quickly in Clark's defense. No matter how confused his attitude made me, I didn't want Superman to lose Clark as a friend, not when it seemed he was his only friend. "He just needs a few more days to get acclimated to freedom."

"Clark's been through a lot," Superman remarked in a somber tone. Beneath us, the clouds parted to reveal a glittering reflection of the skies, marred by the slithering movement of waves. "I don't know if you realize just how much he endured. It would be hard for anyone to recover from the things done to him, let alone for someone as innocent as Clark."

"He's strong," I assured us both. "He'll get through this—I know he will."

"I hope you're right, Lois." There was something incredibly deep and profoundly sad in Superman's expression, and he turned his face away from me as if realizing I wasn't ready to see the truths written there.

"He will be okay," I insisted stubbornly. "He and I are already working on proving that Lex is behind all this."

"Luthor?" Superman shifted me in his arms so he could peer into my face.

"Didn't you see him at the warehouse?"

"No. Is he the one responsible for hurting you?"

I let out a scoffing breath. "He's responsible for most of the crimes in the city. Clark and I are investigating him so we can expose him to the world. We're going to see to it that he pays for his crimes. You could help," I added, visions of working side by side with Superman flashing before my eyes like an irresistible temptation.

"If I can," he replied succinctly, the tiniest hint of a smile lifting the right corner of his mouth. "I am kept somewhat busy with emergencies."

"I know." I smiled warmly. The feel of his arms holding me free of gravity, the warmth of his body so close to mine, the sensation of his breath skimming past my cheek, it was all making me forget my decision to accept his miraculous return without wanting more. "I've been watching you on the news all day."

"Have you?"

"Yes. Clark will hardly let us turn it off. He likes to be able to see you. I don't think he quite believes any of this is real yet."

"And you?" Superman asked, his voice gone soft and low. "Do you believe this is real?"

"I…" I swallowed, then gave a tiny laugh. "Some moments are easier than others."

"How about now?" Superman looked upward, and I followed the direction of his gaze as we flew straight up though a bank of clouds. And there, unrolled before us was the moon, huge and shimmering and whiter than I had ever before seen it. The clouds lapped at Superman's waist, unable to pull him back to the Earth, unable to claim him fully as their own.

"It's beautiful!" I gasped. "And," I added softly, my hand tightening on his neck, "this moment seems more like a dream than real life."

"I am real, Lois." Superman wasn't looking at the awe-inspiring scenery around us; he was gazing intently at me. "I'm not just a figment of imagination or a disguise that fades away when you look at it too closely. I'm here to stay."

Furiously, I blinked tears back. Language escaped me, as did the skill of moving my mouth to shape words. I could no more have spoken in that moment than I could have flown without Superman's capable help. It was my fault Superman had been run out of the city thinking he was responsible for the heat-wave—though I had later cleared his name, the vindication had come too late. But now Superman was back…and joy suffused me with a glowing thrill that rivaled the moon behind us.

"Are you cold?" he asked gently.

Until he voiced the question, I had been unaware of the temperature, conscious only of the fact that I was being held in the arms of a living, breathing miracle, but now that he had broken the spell, chills began to shiver along my skin. My coat did little to counter the frigidity stirred by the shifting clouds through which we were wading.

"A little," I admitted, afraid that if I said more, he'd take me away from this small, infinite pocket of air that seemed to be his world.

"Here." Holding me securely with one arm, he reached back and gathered his cape, then wrapped me in its warm, red folds.

If I hadn't already been madly in love with him before, I would have fallen for him again right then. He might claim he was real, but there was so much about him that could only be described as "too good to be true." I couldn't begin to understand why he had singled me out among all the reporters swarming around the Messenger launch, or why he held me so much more tenderly during a rescue than he did anyone else, but I was extremely grateful for it. The awed crush birthed the moment he had smiled at me after swallowing a bomb had grown into so much more when he had cupped my cheek in his long fingers and promised me I would always be special to him. And now…now I wouldn't hesitate to call it true love.

"I come here a lot," Superman explained quietly, finally looking away from me to survey the magnified stars around us. "Between the stars and the Earth, not part of either one—this is where I belong. It's quiet up here, serene, and yet, looking down at the cities below, I can see how much I am needed. I have the might, which means I have the right to do what I can to help people."

"It's an enormous responsibility," I remarked, filled with a boundless admiration for this so-powerful man who used his abilities only for good. He was like all the stories of knights in shining armor and prince charming and angels put together…and yet he was real. I could feel his heart thumping steadily beneath my hand, could feel his chest rising and falling with his breaths, and was warmed by my proximity to his skin.

Superman half-shrugged. "It's my place."

"But…" I glanced around me to take in the emptiness of the sky, the sight of the earth below impeded by the engulfing clouds. "Don't you ever get lonely?" I inwardly winced even before the question had been fully asked, my thoughts tainted with panic-tinged horror. Out loud, it sounded even more like a come-on than it had in the instant before I spoke it.

The night air caressed us with silken fingers as cold as Luthor's eyes had been when he threatened to slowly kill Clark. Silence—as heavy as the gravity that couldn't conquer Superman—covered us, cloaking the air in a pall of emptiness. Superman stared at me silently, as if he weren't quite sure what to make of my thoughtless question.

"I mean," I added hastily, my mind racing in an effort to make the question seem innocent. "Well, don't you have anyone that helps you? Or that you can talk to? I mean, I know you and Clark are friends, but you haven't been able to talk to him for a month."

Tact, I thought mournfully. Tact and patience—harder to acquire than a Pulitzer, but, boy, did I need them, and fast!

"Friends?" Superman repeated. He spoke the word slowly, as if he were mulling it over, considering it from every angle.

"Well, yeah." A tiny pang of disappointment pierced the haze of awe surrounding me, mixed in amongst the cloud's vapor. Why did Clark and Superman cling so tightly to the ridiculous façade that they hardly knew each other when they had to know I had figured out just how much of a lie that was? "I know you used to talk to him—you treated his apartment like it was your home too. And when he called you at his place while Alan Morris and I were there, you acted like you spoke to him all the time. But…who do you talk to now?"

Superman's eyes darkened, and his fingers spread over my back as if to encompass the whole of me. "I'm talking to you."

"Yes." A giggle escaped me—well, not a giggle! I did not giggle. It was more of a…a strained chuckle. Yes, that was it. We were very high up, after all, and the air was thinner than I was used to. "You are." When he said nothing, his eyes devouring me, swallowing me whole in their fathomless depths, I finally managed to regain enough coherence to add, "I want to help you, Superman. You can talk to me whenever you want."

"Thank you, Lois. That means a lot to me." He ducked his head, and for a searing instant, I thought he was going to kiss me. My stomach dropped out of my feet and fell toward the ground; my thoughts scattered in a dizzying whirl and left me with only the sudden realization that I was thousands of feet above the earth, held aloft only by a pair of arms; my entire body went completely motionless, unable to move an iota.

But Superman only adjusted the cape around me, drew me closer to his chest, and began to descend back toward the Earth. Broken from my breathless anticipation, I felt almost sick, knowing that I had only minutes left with him, that any moment now he would be setting me down and stepping back, taking with him the comfort of his embrace, the security of his hold, the warmth of his cape, the enthrallment of his presence.

Slowly, trying not to draw attention to the fact yet hardly caring if he noticed, I snuggled in closer to him, sliding my hand up his shoulder toward his neck, turning my face into his chest and closing my eyes. Every sensation, every breath, every instant—I burned it all into my memory. Even if this was the only time I ever flew with Superman and experienced such a personal moment with him, I would have this night to treasure and remember.

But I wanted so much more than one flight, one moment, one secret.

I wanted a lot more.

"I'll set you down on the street," Superman murmured in my ear, his voice pitched low enough to send a shiver down my spine. "It's better if Clark doesn't see us."

"I'm sorry," I whispered, reluctant to open my eyes or lift my head from its comfortable perch, knowing that his sensitive hearing would pick up the words. "I can't imagine how hard it is to get your friend back only to have him…"

"Dislike me?" Superman finished for me.

Jarred by a flash of how awful it would have been if Clark had treated me as he was Superman, I stirred myself to meet Superman's shadowed gaze. "I'm sorry," I said again, hating the uselessness of the words yet willing them to mean something. "I'll try to talk to him, Superman, get him to realize that you're still his friend."

Though he gave me a small smile, Superman said nothing, and I knew he didn't think talking to Clark would do any good. And really, I didn't either, but I refused to just give up.

He set me down on his feet, and I bit back my protest when his cape dropped away from my body and left me exposed to the elements. "Well, good night, Lois. Remember, I'm watching."

"My own guardian angel," I teased, rewarded with his quiet chuckle.

"I forgot my wings at home." He reached out his hand but curled it around my shoulder rather than my cheek.

"You don't need them," I told him. "The cape is more than enough."

An almost childlike grin changed the superhero's entire demeanor. "I like it, too." He sobered quickly, however. "I'd better be going. I'm required elsewhere."

"Good night." I wanted to add something personal, like the notes in Clark's postcards, but before I could think of anything, he was gone, a blur and a whoosh that faded away and left me standing alone.

I almost floated back into my apartment building and up to my floor. Fortunately, I came back to the earth in time to remember to be quiet as I unlocked the door and entered. I made certain to turn the locks again behind me and moved toward the bedroom, shedding my coat as I went.

Moving in the dark, I nonetheless looked over toward the cot, reassured of a fear I hadn't even known I possessed when I saw the silhouette of Clark lying beneath his blankets. Oddly, he was still wearing his glasses, the lenses marked by the lights reflecting off the glass. No doubt it was another aspect of his long imprisonment—perhaps having been without the glasses so long, he was afraid to set them aside—and I shrugged it aside as I tiptoed toward the bathroom.

"Are you all right?" Clark's voice—worried and helpless—startled me and I jumped a good foot into the air.

Trying to convince my heart that it wouldn't do any good to escape my chest, I stepped to Clark's side. "Yes, Clark, I'm fine." Surprise made me sound more irritated than I had intended—well, surprise and exasperation. I was an exceptional reporter and a very good snoop, if I did say so myself, yet I never seemed to be able to get one over on Clark.

"Lois." Clark's voice was incredibly hesitant. Usually, his natural politeness was tempered by the confidence that seemed so inherent to him; now, however, that confidence was hard to detect. "You should be careful with him."

"With who?" I asked innocently.

With a sigh, Clark obliged me. "With Superman."

"Why?" I demanded, belatedly realizing that the tone of my voice was probably not what Henderson had meant when he warned me to be patient and exactly what he had meant when he doubted I was capable of that patience. "Superman's saved both our lives—not to mention the entire world!"

"Lois, you don't know anything about him!" Finally my own irritation must have gotten through to Clark because, for the first time since he had told me to call Luthor the Boss, his voice rose with frustration. "You don't know his motives or his whereabouts or his…his…he could be married for all you know!"

"Married?" I repeated incredulously. "Superman? Clark, that's rid—" Abruptly, I paused. Clark knew so much more about the superhero than I did, but he would never betray confidences. So…what if Clark knew something I didn't and was trying to warn me? But if that were the case, why had he once told me Superman might just be afraid to reveal his true feelings? Maddeningly, Clark's expression was concealed in the darkness. "Did he tell you he was married?" I asked cautiously.

Again, my emotion was reflected in Clark's voice. "W-what do you mean?"

I shrugged, impatient with the deflection. "When we were flying, he mentioned that he talked to you."

"He took you flying?" There was a bleak, yet oddly wistful, note to Clark's voice that paused me and dampened my frustration. I hated this. Why couldn't Clark just be happy with friendship? Why did he always have to compare himself to the superhero? Why couldn't he understand that he was perfect just the way he was and that he didn't need to fly to be special in his own way? Why hadn't I understood that before now?

"Yes," I answered shortly. "Anyway, Clark, I know you guys are friends and—"

"What…what makes you think that?"

"Are you saying you're not?" I asked bluntly.

"Lois, the man you were flying with, he isn't—" Clark went silent as suddenly as if someone had clamped a hand over his mouth. By the dim light emanating in from the light in the bathroom, I saw his head tilt toward the window beside him. The shadowed lump that was Clark seemed to shrink and curl in on itself. His voice was shuttered when he spoke again. "I don't know him all that well. I just think you should be careful."

Incredibly, I softened. It wasn't my usual tactic, but Clark had been so lost recently that I couldn't help it. And as always, he was only looking out for me. "I'll be all right, Clark. I know he's a superhero, and I know he belongs to the whole world. In fact, that…was illustrated to me pretty clearly tonight. Don't worry. I won't let my expectations get too out of hand, all right?"

"Lois, that's n—" He cut off as suddenly as before, then sighed in dejection. "All right. Good night."

"Good night, Clark." I watched him a moment longer, but when he made no further move, I turned and went into the bathroom. I readied for bed as quickly and quietly as possible before slipping under the covers. The mere thought of sleeping seemed impossible, not when my mind was jumbled with images of Clark and flashes of being held aloft in Superman's arms and snippets of conversations with both men and the cold, harsh memory of Lex threatening all that I loved and held dear.

Yet as impossible as it seemed, I did sleep. And as could be expected with that shifting collage of thoughts and memories, I dreamed a nightmare.

I was standing on the ledge of a tall building and looking at Superman, who hovered in the air before me as if the ledge extended another two feet. He was gazing at me with the same expression he had worn when I woke in Clark's apartment to find Superman watching over me while we were investigating the Golden Boy Barnes story.

Later, after waking, I couldn't remember what was said between us in the dream, but I knew that Superman and I were talking, one trapped by gravity, the other unhindered by any constraint. And then, suddenly—as happens in dreams—we were embracing, and I was holding fistfuls of his cape clenched in my hands as I pulled him closer to me.

We were about to kiss, I was sure of it—only, in my dream, I was much more confident about it than I had been adrift in the clouds. As he bent his head and moved his mouth close to mine, I felt the cape in my hands being pulled and stretched. Superman was slipping away, I realized, falling toward the far-away ground, prisoner to all that had once been unable to claim him. I called his name and tried to hold onto his cape, tried to pull him onto the ledge with me, but he was too heavy, too ponderous. And all the while, as I screamed his name and pulled at his cape, he said nothing, only stared up at me with an awful, crushing, sorrowful disappointment.

For one, breathless moment, I held him suspended in the air…and then he dropped.

"No!" I screamed. "Clark! Clark!"

But Clark didn't come and Superman was gone, swallowed up by distance and mist. And when I fell to my knees at the edge of solidity, bowed beneath the weight of grief and regret, I blinked my tears away to see what I held clenched in my hands. It wasn't Superman's cape anymore.

It was Clark's glasses.

"Clark," I whispered, and abruptly realized that it wasn't Superman who had slipped away from me—it was Clark. And he hadn't been torn from me—he had left of his own free will.

And in the curious way of dreams, I knew that if I jumped off the ledge out into open air—jumped to certain death—I would find him. So I stood at the very edge of solid ground to look out at the perilous drop, Clark's glasses clasped tightly in my hand, and…I couldn't do it. I couldn't jump, not unless Superman would catch me.

I had failed him. I was too afraid, too wounded, too human to rescue him, and so he was gone, left abandoned and desolate and haunted by shadows.

"Lois? Lois, please wake up. Shh, it's all right. It's okay. It's okay."

"Clark!" I wasn't sure whether I said the name in my dream or because I became aware that I was awake and that he was perched on the edge of the bed, holding me in his arms. I didn't care which it was. All that mattered was that he was still there, that he was holding me together, and that his whisper stirring my hair reassured me that it had all just been a dream.

"Clark," I said again and, ignoring the twinge of my sore shoulder, threw my arms around his neck. I didn't care what he thought of me or that Lois Lane wasn't supposed to fall apart; I just wanted him to hold me. I just wanted to hide the tears trickling inexplicably down my cheeks. I just wanted to erase the pain of seeing Clark and Superman both slip away from me.

"Shh, it's okay. It's okay." Clark continued to repeat his soothing whispers, holding me tighter as I desperately clung to him. He was warm, single-handedly combating the chill that sought to pervade my body. He was solid, driving away the phantoms of my dream. He was alive, calming newly-awoken fears.

My breaths were more like shuddering gasps. I couldn't even bring myself to imagine pulling away from Clark, not yet, not for a hundred more years. It was as if all the trauma and fear and horror and stress and relief—all the reaction I hadn't allowed myself to feel earlier—were crashing down on me. I had been strong for Clark; I had been calm for Superman; I had been determined for Perry and Henderson; I had been confident for Jimmy. Now, however, in the middle of the night with only Clark as witness—surrounded by a darkness made softer than the cell's pitch blackness by the dim light glowing around us—I could drop all my masks and just be myself.

"Were you dreaming about Luthor?" Clark asked, worry and fear turning his voice to sandpaper.

All I could manage was a short shake of my head.

"Your kidnapping?"

"No," I whispered, burying my face even deeper into the cleft between his shoulder and his neck. I didn't want to try to put my dream into words, didn't want to try to explain it, didn't want to do anything but forget it. Seeming to read my mind, Clark stopped talking and simply held me, rocking me slightly back and forth until the shudders drained from my body and the tears evaporated and sleep once more began to tap on my shoulder.

"Here." Clark moved to lower me gently back to the pillows. Instantly, my entire body tensed and I held onto him with a death-grip, selfishly forgetting the bruises covering his flesh.

"Don't leave me." I pulled back just enough to look into his eyes, his expression finally revealed by the bathroom light, concern and tenderness limned in gold. "Please, don't leave me."

"Okay, I won't," he promised me, and I relaxed. Because Clark didn't lie, and if he promised me he'd stay, he would. Till the end of time.

Forcibly, I banished the memory of him walking away from me, disappearing behind the Planet's elevator doors.

"I'm right here," he murmured soothingly. "I'm right here."

Daring to loosen a hand from around his neck, I pushed the blankets aside so he could slide in beside me, then rearranged them over him when he settled himself next to me.

I had already curled up next to him, my eyes squeezed tightly shut, when I realized that I wasn't really being fair to him. It had been a well-known fact among the Planet's grapevine that Clark had a crush on me; I myself had recognized that since at least the second or third day I had known him. I should pull away, chuckle and say I was fine, let him go back to his own cot and save us both from future embarrassment.

But he had promised he wouldn't leave me.

And I didn't want him to go.

I needed him, and right now, he needed me. We had slept together in the cell without a second thought, and in a way, we were both still prisoners, both still locked away from the rest of the world and the future—he imprisoned by fear and I consumed with guilt. Both of us still trapped in that pocket of black void, frozen in time.

Besides, he felt so good and so safe, as if nothing could hurt me while he was protecting me. So I muted my inner argument, and I pressed closer to Clark, and I relaxed when he tightened his own arms around me, and I slept.

If I dreamed again, they vanished into obscurity.

And Then There Was Light

A Lois & Clark Story
by Anti-Kryptonite

Part 7 of 23

<< Previous     Home     Next >>