Author's Note: I made all this up. hahaha. Yep, made it all up, except for DC's characters. While not a continuation for my other story The Wait, this does fit within that story. It expands on why Superman had to leave earth for awhile. This story will stand on it's own, however.
He wanted to sort through her things at super speed, since it would have ended the ordeal quicker. But, for some reason he couldn't bring himself to do it. He felt that maybe it would have been less...personal.
After five years, he should be able to deal with his loss. He should be able to move on. But he found that he couldn't. In a way, she was still there with him. To move on would make him feel as if he was cheating on her. And that was something he promised himself long ago that he would never do.
It was early afternoon and he was almost done. Her clothes were boxed to send to the Salvation Army. If she knew what he was doing with her clothes, she would surely throw a fit. At first, anyway. "Salvation Army? Clark, you've got to be kidding. I spent weeks looking for that green outfit and it was the last one on the rack. How can you just-" And then she would stop as if to listen to her own words, grinning sheepishly as she realized how she sounded. Then she would help him pack the boxes.
Seeing that scene in his mind, he sighed as he continued to pack the final box.
Looking around the room, their room, he corrected himself, he could see that he was almost done. Her toiletries from the bathroom were in a box in the corner. They would be thrown away. The clothes sat in seven boxes piled neatly along the far wall. He would take them out tomorrow.
All that was left was her desk. He purposely left that for last. Too many memories. After she stopped working, she just left the desk as it was. At odd times, Clark would catch her sitting there looking at some old picture of theirs, or sometimes a letter she was writing. She had been trying her hand at poetry just before she passed away.
Noticing him in the room, she would calmly put the item back in a drawer. She would smile as she turned back to him, often brushing back a tear as she did so. He would ask what was wrong, but she would never tell. She would ask him to merely hold her for awhile. And so he did.
The desk was always cluttered. Her computer sat in the center, surrounded by framed snapshots (mostly of the two of them in different places around the world), papers, pens and pencils, among other odd things. He had straightened it out for her once, thinking she might want to actually be able to find something for a change. Was she grateful for the help? No. Quite the opposite, in fact. "How am I supposed to find anything now? You've gone and messed up my whole system." He'd tried to explain, but all he got was rolled eyes and attitude. She forgave him, eventually. It was a mistake he never made again.
He sat down at the edge of the bed and stared at the desk. He couldn't quite get the nerve up to start on it. After all the things he'd faced; super-powered enemies, world-wide catastrophes, demons and gods, it was almost funny that he was afraid of a desk. A large desk, to be sure, but still a desk. It was almost funny. He almost smiled.
For the tenth time he wondered why he was doing this. Lord knew he didn't want to. It was Diana who'd suggested it weeks ago. Therapy, as she had called it. He had told her that he would do it, but something else always happened to come up. Every week, Diana would ask if he had done it knowing full well that he hadn't. Each excuse he gave was worse than the previous one. It got to the point where it was an embarrassing to even talk to her about it. Yesterday, she pulled him into one of the JLA's unused conference rooms to discuss it.
"Kal, have you taken care of Lois' personal things?"
"No, Diana, I haven't. I had some laundry to do and..." He stared down at his hands as he trailed off.
Diana almost laughed. The most powerful man on the planet, sitting here looking like a little boy caught in an untruth.
"You need to stop putting this off. I mean it." She leaned over, taking his strong chin in her hands and lifted his head to look him in the eyes. Her eyes were compassionate, yet unwavering. "Listen to me, Kal-El. Everyone here is worrying about you. Your moods swing from maudlin to angry without warning. Your own teammates are afraid to speak to you most of the time. It's gotten to the point where it's starting to affect morale in the League."
At his horrified look, she took his hand in both of hers. "I know this is hard, Kal, but you have to do it. You haven't allowed yourself to have closure and it's tearing you apart." She paused, then continued in a more gentle tone. "I know you miss her-" She held up her hand as he tried to make an angry objection. "You know you aren't the only person to lose a loved one, but there comes a time to make peace with yourself over it. Putting her belongings away will help you to do that." She hesitated for just a moment before adding, "Please, Kal. I'm pleading with you to do this. For yourself, for your teammates", and softly "for me?".
That last part woke him out of his shock. Diana took pride in asking nothing from anyone. If she was willing to put away that pride for him... Now he was really embarrassed. He knew then that he could not delay any longer.
He lifted the strong hands that had been holding his and lightly kissed the back of each one. "I'm sorry, Diana. I've been wallowing in self-pity and not thinking about anyone else. Thank you for telling me. I will take care of her things tomorrow. I promise." He kissed one hand again. "Thank you for being my friend." A look crossed her face that Superman couldn't quite identify. He shook off the thought and stood up with a resolve that had been missing for a long time.
"I need to call a League meeting."
Looking at the clock above his head, Wonder Woman informed him, "Well, that shouldn't be a problem. The weekly meeting has just started down the hall. We're already late."
He smiled. It wasn't the old smile, but it was close. Diana didn't realize until recently how much she'd missed it. "Let's go then."
Superman strode into the conference room with Diana right behind him. As he stopped to survey the room, she slipped around him and took her chair. There were a lot of empty seats. The League wasn't at full staff lately. He wondered briefly why he hadn't noticed before.
The only attendees beside Diana and himself were Batman, Flash, J'onn and Hawkman. Looking at them watch him, he could see a very real wariness in each of them. He could see what Diana meant.
"I'll keep this brief. First off, I'd like to apologize for my attitude lately. As it has been pointed out to me very recently," he glanced at Diana, "I've been difficult to deal with." For that, again, I am truly sorry." He walked behind his own chair and faced them again. "For this reason, I have decided to take a little vacation after disposing of some pressing matters at home. I don't know how long I'll be gone, but I won't return until I have resolved these personal issues. I'll make arrangements for Metropolis to be patrolled before I go. Thank you for your patience, and I hope to see you again soon."
With that, he left the room. Diana surveyed the room quickly. As she suspected, they were all a bit relieved. Whether that was because Superman had recognized his problem and was going to deal with it, or just that he was leaving, Diana wasn't sure. She hurried into the hall after him.
"Kal, wait." He stopped at the end of the corridor and waited for her to catch up. "What did you mean you're taking a vacation? Where are you going? How long will you be gone? I'll need to know because...because we want to know when we can expect you back."
He was taken aback for a moment when he realized she was biting her lip. She seemed...anxious. He had seen Diana display a wide range of emotions from anger in battle to a witty sense of humor, but he had never seen her anxious before. He looked into her eyes and tried to explain, but he couldn't speak just then. Without thinking about it, he took up her hand and began walking down the corridor. Surprisingly, she didn't argue about having her hand held nor about him taking her down the hall for a walk.
"Like I said, I need time to think things out. About Lois, about me, about...well, about other things too. The best way to do that would to go off-planet for a while. I don't know where just yet, but somewhere I can think without distractions." He glanced at her sideways for a moment. "Think you can handle things without me for awhile? I don't want to, she thought suddenly. I don't want you to go.
She forced a smile. "We'll manage, I think. When will you be leaving?"
They both stopped as they entered the main exit/entry port of the station. "In a couple days. I have a chore that I promised a friend I would take care of", he winked. "Then I'll need to talk to Kara about seeing to Metropolis in my absence."
Facing each other and somehow holding both of each other's hands, Diana reached up and kissed him on the cheek and whispered into his ear "And don't forget to come back, Kal.". He backed up and reluctantly let go of her hands.
"I won't, Diana."
Diana smiled as she watched him leave the port and fly out into space. Superman always kept his promises.
The empty boxes in front of the desk taunted him until he finally got up. The desk would stay, he decided, along with the pictures and the more personal items. He would just box it all up and keep the box in the closet. He'd already gone through the computer and it's files. There wasn't much in there. All old documents. Nothing personal. He had erased the files yesterday. The computer and printer would be donated to the elementary school downtown. The only thing left were the three drawers.
He was surprised to find that they were empty, except for a letter in the center one. The envelope merely said "To Clark".
Sitting back on the bed again, he opened the envelope.
To Be Continued...