Summary: After killing Lex Luthor, Superman gains a new perspective on life. Set in the "A Better World" dimension. Superman/Lois Lane. Minor spoilers for "A Better World" and "World's Finest."
AN:Ahhh, I wrote some fluff. Please forgive me. But this story has been fighting to get out. Any errors in S:TAS related continuity I shall attribute to this being AU. I don't usually do Supes stories, but this one came to me between the hours of 4am and 10am. Who needs sleep right? You can thank Fiona Apple for writing "Love Ridden," the song that was playing on loop while I wrote this. And if you absolutely hate this fic, then you can kill her for providing me with inspiration.
Anyway, I'm looking for a Justice League and/or BTAS Beta reader. If you're interested I'll be forever grateful!
"…and they had no comment. Public support for the self-appointed guardians is high, and those numbers continue to grow as more corruption is rooted out of the late President Luthor's administration. Let's go live again to the White—"
He pressed the red power button on his remote control. The television blinked off on the face of the blonde reporter. It had been three days since the storming of the White House. Since he'd put an end to Luthor and his depravities, once and for all.
Since the first time he'd taken a life.
And his only regret was not having done it sooner.
He got up from his red couch and walked to the large French windows, his favorite part of the apartment. He'd often stood here, looking at Metropolis through his own reflection in the glass, trying to figure out who he was at that moment, Clark Kent, or Superman.
Now the reflection stared back at him, dotted with the lights from the buildings outside, and the answer seemed so abundantly clear. Clark Kent, Kal-El, Superman, they were irrelevant. Just names representing his greater purpose in the world. He was whoever Earth needed him to be.
His greatest adversary had been right about one thing: he had always been too soft, too forgiving, too interested in being the hero. He only acted defensively, allowing the criminals and lunatics to strike first. His methods had allowed a megalomaniac into the White House. Those days were done. From now on, he was going to put a stop to crime preemptively. He was going protect the Earth the way it needed to be protected.
And he was going to start by seizing control of his own life.
Lois Lane considered herself one of the best. It wasn't arrogance; it was the product of years of hard hitting and ambition. It was a reporter's job to inform the people, to educate them on the things they didn't have time to learn themselves. She never took no for answer, and she never backed down from a story. Well, almost never. She'd been sitting on the article of the year once, but had given it up for love.
And as she stared at her laptop computer, she realized she was about to do it again.
She dropped her forehead onto her palm, leaning against the blue arm of her couch. "Lois, you are such a shmuck." When the White House scandal broke, Perry had immediately put her on the case. She was the best after all, and more importantly, she had ties to both parties involved. With her journalist partner missing in action (some Kansas related emergency, she assumed. It always was when there was a big story breaking), she'd done all the digging herself. The first story had practically written itself ("Superman vs. President Luthor: the Final Showdown"). It was factual. It was the Daily Planet's front page the next day. It demanded a follow up.
So she'd gone into the trenches again, looking for more dirt on Luthor and his shady dealings. Unfortunately, what she found was a security tape from the oval office—the documentation of Lex's slow, brutal execution. It was probably the biggest stain on the Man of Steel's spotless image she'd ever seen.
So now she sat, staring at the last sentence she'd written, weighing journalistic integrity against the chance (the fact?) that she was in love with Superman. "When did I become this person?" She asked herself, pinching the bridge of her nose between her index finger and thumb.
Her light blue curtains flapped as a breeze entered her apartment. She shivered slightly (not entirely because she was cold), and put her computer down. She approached the doors to her balcony, whose curtains had suddenly stilled. There was still flapping, however, but this fabric was red, not blue. And it was gently perched on her railing.
He'd been on her balcony many times in the past, but they were usually rescue related. She quickly looked around, trying to locate any dangers that her title of "Superman's Girl" might have presented that night. She didn't see anything. "Is everything all right?"
"Yes." He remained on the railing, which forced her to look up at him. The moonlight hit him, coloring his red cape a stark white. It made his features sharper, more intimidating, and she couldn't help but hear the blood curdling screams of Lex Luthor as two heat rays melted his brain. She pushed those thoughts aside. The man before her was good, and kind. He was a hero. Her hero.
"No one's trying to bomb my apartment, are they?"
He smiled just a little. "Not that I'm aware of, no." He offered nothing else.
"Alright, don't take this the wrong way, Superman. I mean, I really enjoy your visits to my balcony, I wish there were more of them, in fact, preferably when my life's not in some kind of danger…not that I don't appreciate the numerous rescues…" she shut her mouth, and breathed out what sounded like an "oye" before continuing, "…but why are you here?"
He uncrossed his arms, and leaned down closer to her. She unconsciously moved closer to him, too. "I just wanted to see if you'd like to take a ride with me."
She blinked at him, not sure if she'd heard him correctly. "You mean you want me to fly with you? Around Metropolis"
"If you're interested, of course." He extended his hand to her, palm up.
"Are you kidding? I'd love to." She placed her hand on his, smiling when his large fingers closed around hers. "We've never really done this without me falling from a building, or gagged and bound, or something. How exactly do w—whoa!" Her question was answered when he scooped her up, one palm against her back, the other cupping the back of her knees, and launched them away from her apartment. "That'll work." She guided her arms around his neck, holding a little tighter than necessary.
He did the same with her.
He wove between the buildings, enjoying the sound of her thrilled laughter in his ear. It felt right.
"So, do you do this a lot? Fly girls around the city?"
"No, you're the first."
"Boldly going where no woman has gone before, huh?"
He smiled. "Something like that." He circled the dome of the Metropolis Symphony Hall before landing them on the top. "If you stand here when they're giving a concert, you can hear the music and feel the sound vibrations through the dome." He informed her, setting her down.
"Good to know. I've been trying to get tickets to the MSO for months. Now I'll just get you to fly me up here." She tested her footing on the rounded surface, not straying too far from him incase she should loose her balance. "Can I ask you something?"
"On or off the record?"
"Very funny. Off."
"What brought all this on? This little excursion? Don't get me wrong, I'm loving every second, but I know you well enough, I think, to know that you don't usually do things like this."
"I just felt it was time for a change."
"A change, huh? Are you sure…I mean, is that really all?"
He stared across the dome at the city skyline. "Lois, just ask what you want to ask me. Don't fish for it."
She paused, trying to find her words again, he supposed. "Does this have anything to do with Lex's death? I've been following the news."
"Just following? I'd have figured you'd be running your own investigation about the whole thing. You're not a follower, Lois, you're a finder."
"Okay, I'll admit, I'm covering this story for the Planet. I've seen a lot of what happened."
"Aren't you too close to this story? Considering who it involves?"
"That's the reason I'm on it, actually. Perry thinks I can get an exclusive from you. But don't worry, I'm not hassling you for—"
"Do you want it?"
"Do you want an exclusive? It's yours. You want a quote? Here it is. Lex Luthor was insane. We had a madman running our country for close to a year—"
"He's done some damage that I don't think we'll be able to fix easily. There was only one way to stop him. I did it. And I'd do it again."
She was quiet. He'd floored her, not for the first time. "I don't want an exclusive, Superman. I just want to make sure you're okay. You've taken care of all of us, but sometimes, I'm not sure who's taking care of you." She put her hand on his shoulder. "So if you need someone to talk to, ever, I'm here. Off the record, of course."
He smiled at her ability to lighten his mood. "Thanks." Now he needed to say his peace to her. But not here, with the unsoundly grunting of Metropolis traffic from the streets below. He looked above them, seeing various cumulus clouds that hovered above the city. It would be the perfect place to talk, to be alone with her. "Have you ever flown through a cloud?"
She shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. "Plenty of times. Granted, I've always been inside a plane when it's happened…"
He carried her again and lifted them upwards. "Just hold on." Shifting her body so that her torso was securely pressed against his, he dropped her knees. Their speed increased as he cleared the roof of the Daily Planet. "It can get a bit chilly inside," he told her as he pulled his cape around them with his free hand, "Just stay close, and you'll be warm."
Her head was ducked near his chin, and he felt her reply as warm puffs of breath on his neck. "You have no idea."
They hit the bottom of the cloud and a small hole was created at their point of entry. The white fluff surged around them as he continued his ascent. He felt her fingers dig themselves into his back as she tried not to close her eyes against the cold blast of air. "You okay?"
She nodded, and he pulled the cape tighter around them.
"Don't worry, we'll be through in a second." Sure enough, they bulleted through the top of the cloud moments later, small pieces of condensation trailing after them. He slowed them to a halt, but didn't release his cape from around them.
"Worried? Who says I was worried?" She asked, releasing her death grip on his back. "I don't have icicles in my hair, do I?"
"No, you look great," he told her sincerely. She could have been dressed in clown make up, and he would have still thought her beautiful.
She blushed, and looked away from his face. Her thoughts were easily distracted by their new view. Above them was the black star field, separated by only a few layers of atmosphere. Under the feet hovered clouds, much like the one they'd just passed through, with the distant lights of Metropolis peaking through gaps in the white. "This is amazing."
"I'm sure you've seen it plenty of times, out of a plane window."
"It…it's not the same," she whispered as she continued to look around them. "This is better." She looked at his face again. "Much better."
"I'm glad you like it. I've wanted to share this with you for a long time."
"Why didn't you?"
He touched her hair gently, running it through his fingers. "Things always seemed to come up. The timing was never right."
She leaned closer to his hand, letting her eyelashes droop lazily. "And what made the timing right now?"
"I did." He tucked the strands he held in his fingers behind her ear. His palm stopped against her face, which was as soft as he'd imagined it would be. He leaned his forehead against her own, allowing his nose to rub gently against hers. "For the first time in my life, I'm going to start living."
Putting his hand against her lower back, he pushed her up so that her mouth touched his. Her hands, which were lazily wrapped around his neck, became tighter. She pushed a palm into his hair and gently grasped, pushing his head closer to her own, deepening their kiss. Their first.
They stayed wrapped up in each other for a long time.
"Where are we going?" she whispered into his ear, as he navigated the buildings of Metropolis again.
"Really," she drawled, resting her head against his neck. She didn't know what Superman's living situation was, exactly, thought she had long been curious about it. Where did the world's greatest hero live? How did he pay for it? How was he able to keep it a secret? The reporter in her was easily overpowered by the woman in her, however. Her main concern right now was to pick up where they'd left off above the city.
"It's not what you're thinking."
She smiled against his skin and ran her palm down his chest. "And what exactly am I thinking, Superman?"
He looked down at her. "Sometimes, Lois, I couldn't even begin to guess. You're mind is something of a mystery to me."
"You're one to talk. I think it's safe to say that you're the biggest mystery of the century." She traced the insignia on his chest with her thin index finger.
He nodded. "I know. But that's about to change, for you, at least."
"What do you mean?"
"You'll see," he told her as they approached a tall, blue-tinted building. He knew she'd recognize it.
"Clark lives there."
"I know." He found the appropriate balcony and landed on it.
"Clark lives here," she said with and arched eyebrow.
He lowered her to the ground and released his hold on her. "I know." He went to the glass doors and pushed them open, walking inside. He turned to see if she'd followed him. She had, with her brow furrowed. She was a smart girl. She was obviously putting two and two together.
"Superman, what's going on?" Her hands were on her hips, and from his years of working with her, he knew she already knew the answer to that question. But if she wanted definition from him, he'd give it to her.
He walked to the end table next to his couch, facing away from her. On top of a stack of magazines was a pair of round-framed glasses. "I want you to know who I am." He placed them on his face and turned to Lois again.
Her eyes went wide, and her mouth hung open. "Clark?"
He nodded, but didn't move otherwise.
"Clark Kent. You're Clark Kent?"
"I know that this must be a shock to you."
"A shock? A shock doesn't even begin to describe what this is." She frowned. "Am I dreaming? It's a dream isn't it? I'm just going to pinch myself and wake up alone in my bed in a world that makes some amount of sense."
"This isn't a dream Lois. Clark and Superman…they're the same person. They're me." He kept his mouth drawn in a straight line.
She opened and closed her mouth a few times, but couldn't seem to form any words. "If you'll excuse me," she said finally, grabbing the arm of his red chair, "I'm just going to sit down for a second." She seated herself in it, rubbing her temples. He kneeled before her, but remained silent, waiting for her to talk. "I guess this explains a lot. That disappearing act you had down to an art. All that…weird stuff that always happened to you. How you were always there, the minute I needed you." She sighed. "You must have really thought I was really stupid."
"That's not true. You know it isn't."
"Do I? So who's Clark then? Did you make him up? Did you assume someone else's identity?"
"No. It's a long story, but I grew up as Clark Kent in Smallville, Kansas. Everything you know about me in that respect is true. When I came to Metropolis, I took on the identity of Superman."
She looked at him, stilling her hands. "I guess Clark Kent, reporter slash superhero wasn't very feasible, huh?" She moved her right hand and touched the frames of his glasses. "Do you even need these?"
"No. The lenses are glass."
She dropped her hand, resting it on her knee. "Glasses." She shook her head laughing mirthlessly. "Your disguise was just glasses. I mean, at least with Bruce there was the whole cowl thing…that made it a little difficult to tell. But you…" She pulled the frames off his face and rotated them. "Lois Lane got duped by a pair of fake glasses."
"Lois," he said, removing the lenses from her hands before covering them with his own. "I wasn't trying to 'dupe' you. I had to protect myself, and the people I cared about."
"And secret identities are a necessity in your line of work, right?"
"I wanted to tell you. I've wanted to tell you for a long time."
"Let me guess. The timing was off?"
"You say it like I'm making an excuse."
"Well aren't you Clark?…Superman?…urgh!" She stood abruptly and moved away from the chair. "I don't even know what to call you anymore!"
"You can call me whatever you want, Lois. In the end, it doesn't really make a difference. If you want to be angry about a choice I made before I really knew you, then that's your right. But I think you know the reason I had to do what I did." He touched he chin, forcing her to look at him. "My life is going to be very different from now on. No more juggling jobs. No more disguises. And I needed to tell you all this because I don't want there to be secrets between us. Not anymore. I've cared about you for a long time. As a friend, and much more. I want you to be a part of my new life. I need you to be. But if you want to leave now, I'll understand. And I won't stop you."
He stood and walked to the balcony, his back to her. She had a decision to make, an important one, and he'd give her all the time she needed. After the information overdose she'd been given, he imagined it'd be a while.
"You took a huge risk by telling me who you were."
Or maybe not. "I did."
"Superman Unmasked, it would be front page news." She came up behind him and stood close to his back. Very close, but not touching.
"Perry would probably give you a raise."
"Hell, he'd probably give me his job. But you know, I think you knew you were safe."
He turned slightly to look at her. "Why would I know that?"
She tugged at his arm so that he was facing her completely. She leaned in close to his ear and whispered, "Because you knew how I felt about you. How I still feel about you." He put his hands on her waist, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. "Look, I can't begin to understand everything you must have gone through, or why you chose to do the things you did —as Clark or Superman. But I do know the things you've done for me as both. So if you're asking my to make a choice here, then there's no question. I believe in you. I always will."
"It means a lot to hear you say that." He brushed his hand through her hair again. He could get used to the feel of this. "Being with me, especially now, is going to make you're life very different. Are you sure you're prepared for this?"
"Well," she said, leaning back, "it'll be a while until I get used to the idea of Superman being a resident of Smallville…"
"Or Clark Kent being an alien from Krypton."
"Right," she smiled, cupping the side of his angular face. He leaned into her warm hand and closed his eyes. "But it's something I'm willing to work on. Something I'm glad you trusted me with."
This time she reached up pulled him down to her. She was a go-getter, and she wasn't afraid to take something she wanted. Now, more than ever.
And as he kissed her on the balcony of his apartment, Clark Kent, Kal-El, Superman…he promised he wouldn't rest until the world was completely safe for her, no matter how he had to do it.
AN2:There was going to be some more, but I think this works as a one-shot. Maybe if I feel ambitious later…
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