Clark snapped himself awake, breathing heavily. He could hear his heart hammering within his chest and could feel the blood pumping heatedly through his veins. He was sure that if he could sweat, he would be. And badly.
He suddenly remembered his dream, or rather nightmare, and frantically looked around for Jason. Clark felt something next to him shift and his eyes flew to his side. He breathed a long sigh of relief. Jason was right beside him, sleeping soundly. He had a fistful of Clark's shirt in his hand, but other than that, he looked perfectly content.
Clark softly eased Jason's hand open and released himself from his son's vice like grip. He leaned over his legs, his elbows resting on his knees, and buried his face in his hands, his dream…no, his nightmare, replaying over in his mind. It had been so vivid. It had seemed so real.
He had been with Lois and Jason in the park, although he wasn't dressed as himself, rather Superman. Lois had been watching him pushing Jason on the metal merry-go-round thing with a content smile on her face, looking like she was on top of the world and nothing could knock her off of it because she was so happy. She had smiled fondly, lovingly, at him and he recalled the shivers it sent up his spine.
When she had been distracted, he changed into Clark, as though trying to reveal his true identity to her. Of course, Lois didn't think much of it, just kept on smiling that knowing and affectionate smile, taking a few sips of her coffee. Seeing that his plan wasn't working, he had changed back into Superman as Jason ran over to his mother, embracing her tightly.
He had been feeling queasy the whole morning, but didn't say anything, as neither Lois nor Jason seemed to notice. It was the same feeling that he got whenever kryptonite was around. A cold sweat formed around his brow, followed by the excruciating pain racking through his abdomen.
He had cast his eyes downward and his eyes widened at what he saw. Over half a piece of kryptonite was sticking out of his stomach. As Superman moved to pull it out, his hands began to shake. His fingers became covered in a warm, thick liquid crimson. He heard something snap, followed by a very familiar laugh.
"Even Gods have weaknesses, Superman…or should I say, Clark."
Clark shuddered as he remembered the rest of the nightmare. He had changed back into himself after Lois confessed her love for him and told him that he couldn't die, that he couldn't leave her again. The adoring hurt and hidden anger in her eyes said it all when she had seen who he really was. She had been shocked, as anyone in her place would've been, though not pleasantly shocked.
"Why?" Lois screamed, tears of hurt and fury streaming from her eyes. "Why did you keep this from me? Huh! Why didn't you say goodbye when you left!" She hit him repeatedly on the chest with her balled fists and it hurt.
He could feel his lungs collapsing as he wheezed, "I did it to protect you."
"Protect me? From what?" Lois asked.
"You're not Supe---," Lois trailed off and glared at Clark. He could see the hurt in her eyes. He could hear the hate, the anger, and the pain in her voice. And it killed him. "Why?" She pressed. "Why did you keep something this huge away from me?"
"I did it to protect you, because I-I loved you, Lois." Clark answered before he started coughing up blood. "I still love you."
"Well, I hate you." Lois replied through gritted teeth, though her shoulders shook with sobs as tears fell from her cheeks.
"You hate me?" Clark repeated slowly, a bit taken back by her bluntness. But, that was Lois Lane for you.
"Yes, I hate you," sobbed Lois. "I hate you because I just realized that after all this time, I love you, and now you're leaving me…you're leaving us again."
"I'm sorry," Clark croaked as his eyelids became heavier and the world around him started to go hazy.
"Liar." Lois snapped. "You're not sorry, because if you were, you'd fight. You wouldn't succumb to death."
Clark gently touched Lois's cheek, some of his crimson blood staining her already red cheek. "Even heroes fall, Lois. I guess I'm falling sooner rather than later."
"Don't say that." Lois ordered, kissing the palm of his hand and wrapping her other hand around his. "We need you."
Clark turned his eyes to Jason and tried to smile, but failed miserably. "I love you."
Jason scooted closer to Clark and gave the reporter the tightest hug he could despite the situation. "I love you too, Daddy."
And that was the last thing Clark Kent ever heard as his eyes eased shut and his last breath escaped his cold, blue lips.
Clark subconsciously rubbed his stomach and sighed. "It was a dream, Kent," He whispered to himself, leaning back on the couch. "Just a stupid dream." He shifted into a comfortable position and his eyes eased closed, where he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Lois tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for the elevator. Her arms were folded against her chest and she kept flipping her hair over her shoulder restlessly. Why did it seem to take this elevator so damn long to get to her? She should've just taken the stairs, but she wasn't about to climb seventeen flights of stairs while she was tipsy.
She let out an annoyed huff and shifted her weight on her feet. If she waited too much longer, she would probably let out a frustrated grunt and end up kicking something. Really, it was getting extremely aggravating waiting for the damn elevator. What if it was broken?
"Where's Superman when you need him?" Lois murmured under her breath as she let out a shaky sigh and ran a hand through her hair. As though on cue, the light above the shaft doors switched on and that annoying, tinkering bell chimed. The old, faded gold doors slowly opened and Lois was wondering if she could really trust this rickety phone booth to take her up seventeen stories.
She stepped inside anyway, only to find that it was incredibly chilly. Apparently, there was no heat in here. Lois could only imagine what it got like in the summer. She didn't even want to think of that, considering all the things that were on her mind: Superman, her son, Richard, and the mystery of how Clark knew Bruce Wayne…amongst other things.
Lois decided earlier that evening, when she was sitting by herself and nursing her third flute of champagne, that she would confront Superman the next time she saw him, whenever that would be, and tell him all about Jason. Of course, she knew that he knew that Jason was his, but she wanted to let him know that they had to establish a few rules about his visits. Some of these 'rules' were good while others weren't. She had a sneaking suspicion that Superman could care less, as long as he got to see Jason, and Lois wasn't about to deny him that right, even if he had left her for all those long years. But Richard had been there to pick up the pieces.
Richard. That was another issue that had been plaguing Lois ever since Superman returned two weeks prior. Seeing the Man of Steel again up close, flying in his arms like they used to, had brought back so many memories and ignite dormant feelings that Lois wasn't sure what she felt anymore for either. Sure, she had loved Richard at one point in time and she still loved him, but there was one man who she loved even more than Richard, and that was the father of her son, the Savior of Metropolis -- of the world.
How was she going to let Richard go? Could she even let him go after all the love they shared, after all the times he had been there for her when Superman had not? Lois wasn't so sure she was ready to give up her life with Richard yet. She was comfortable with her current situation, although things were still awkward between she and Richard.
It didn't take much to see that Lois still loved Superman, and Richard had seen it first hand on the plane. He had watched her dive into the water after him. He had seen the pained look that spread across her face when she saw that Superman had been hurt via a stab wound. He sat through their goodbye on the craft…and didn't say a thing. He had proven his love and dedication to her that day and Lois wasn't sure she wanted to hurt him. The question was, was Lois really going to give up such a good relationship with a few kinks in it for the Man of Steel? The man who had left her when she was pregnant.
He didn't know that you were pregnant, Lois. Otherwise you know for a fact he would've stayed and been right by your side through the whole thing. Just like Clark.
Lois sucked in a deep breath at the thought of Clark. She closed her eyes and flashes of her odd dream came back to her. Clark being Superman, now that was just ridiculous. Her mind was just playing tricks on her, trying to send her subliminal messages about Clark. Maybe her brain was trying to tell her that Jason was in trouble and needed her help, but Lois knew that Clark would never let any harm come to Jason, as the mild mannered reporter treated the small boy exactly like he would his own son.
She didn't even WANT to begin thinking about how Clark knew Bruce Wayne and, thankfully, she didn't have to. The elevator stopped after what seemed like the longest ride in the history and the bell chimed annoyingly. Lois bit back a grunt of aggravation as the doors took their sweet time opening. Had they really taken this long to open before, when she and Richard dropped Jason off, or was she just anxious to see her son? Lois didn't know, but she was glad to get out of the godforsaken box.
She stepped out into the hallway and noticed that the lights were considerably dimmer than they had been before. Maybe it was to benefit the residents? Whatever it was, it didn't matter. She had to pick up her baby and get him home. They were nearly an hour and a half late, but she knew that Clark wouldn't mind. He never minded anything when it came to Lois. It was painfully obvious that Clark had feelings for Lois and she used it to her advantage. At times, she felt horrible, but for the most part -- at least, until recently -- she never felt bad about it.
Lois stole quick glances at the numbers on the doors, making sure that she didn't pass Clark's apartment up. Sure, she had been to his old apartment before he left -- which was a small, shabby place compared to his new one --, but tonight was the first time that she had been to his new place. She had a feeling that she would be seeing a lot more of his apartment since Clark enjoyed watching Jason so much and Jason always loved spending him with the farm boy from Smallville.
When she found his apartment, she stopped in front of the door and stared at the brassy number. Hesitantly, she raised her fist and rapped her knuckles against the thick wooden door. Lois placed her hands behind her back as she waited, her foot automatically tapping. It was something that she always did when she was impatient. And even though it usually took about a few seconds for someone to get to their front door in an apartment as small as Clark's, Lois wanted the damn door to open. She was just an impatient person in general.
After two minutes, Lois knocked again, only this time a bit more hurriedly. What if something happened to them? Suddenly, Lois found herself pounding her fists onto the door, calling out Clark's name. If he let anything happen to her baby boy, oh, she was going to slaughter him and send his ass all the way to the distant remains of Krypton!
"Clark!" She called, banging on the door. "Clark, it's me! Open the door!"
Still, she got nothing. With a roll of her eyes and a nervous flop of her stomach, Lois sighed in annoyance and leaned against the wall. She knew that Clark would never let any harm come to Jason, but she just needed to see his smiling face and bright blue eyes for reassurance.
"Think, Lane, think!" Lois told herself as she began pacing in front of the door. Maybe they went somewhere? Nah, it was nearly two in the morning. Clark wouldn't have taken Jason anywhere and, besides, what places were open at two in the morning aside from some sleazy strip joints? Lois laughed at the thought of Clark in a strip club. Oh, that would be the day.
Suddenly, an idea came into her mind and Lois smacked herself on the forehead. Why hadn't she thought of it earlier! She hoped that Clark was as big of a small town boy as she made him out to be because, if he wasn't, she was going to kick his ass. Lois bent down and lifted up the doormat. Her eyes lit up and she looked heavenward. "If there's a god in those high heavens, I'm thanking you right now."
Lois picked up the small golden key and stood up slowly, so she wouldn't get lightheaded. Hell, she was dizzy enough as it was. She pressed her forehead to the door for a few moments to stop her head from spinning before she inserted the key into the lock and turned it. She could hear the faint click on the lock freeing from the slot and she softly pushed the door open.
"Clark?" She said, looking around the dark apartment. There was a blue light coming from the living room and Lois furrowed her brow. They must've been in there. She closed the door behind her and slowly walked into the apartment. She could hear the faint sound of static and knew before she even stepped foot into the living room that they had fallen asleep in front of the television.
A small smile tugged at her lips as she walked into the living room. The sight before her was the type you only saw in the movies. Her little boy, her Jason, was curled up next to Clark, his arm was strewn across Clark's chest, and his head was resting there as well. Clark had a protective arm around Jason, his cheek pressed against Jason's messy head of hair and, for some odd reason, it pulled at her heart strings.
"Clark?" Lois whispered, hoping not to wake Jason up, as he was a light sleeper the majority of the time. Neither showed signs of moving and slept on. Lois rolled her eyes and walked over to the television set, turning it off. The apartment fell into a stiff silence, the only noise behind Jason's faint snores. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at them for a while. They were really a sight to see. They both looked so peaceful.
After a few moments of gazing at the snoozing pair, Lois noticed something odd, yet she couldn't place her finger on it. There was something that just wasn't right with this picture. But…what was it? Lois rolled her eyes at herself and walked over to the couch. She managed to get Jason out of Clark's oddly tight, yet relaxed, grip on the small boy and held her son in her arms. His head rested on her shoulder and she could feel his tiny heart beating against her chest. With a small smirk, she shook Clark's shoulder and said his name in a low voice.
Clark stirred and let out a grunt, shifting his position on the couch. He stiffened in his sleep suddenly and Lois furrowed her brow. She nearly jumped out of her skin when Clark snapped awake and sat up. "Jas-."
"Jesus Clark!" Lois squeaked, taking a breath of air. "You scared the living shit out of me."
"Oh, sorry Lois," Clark replied sheepishly. "I just thought that something happened to Jason." He pushed himself up off the couch and yawned. "What time is it, anyway? And why is it so dark in here?"
"It's a little before two and that's because I turned off the television before I woke you up. I didn't think it was necessary to have a light on, as that often hurts the eyes when one wakes up." She said with a smile. She wasn't sure if Clark smiled back or not, but she knew that he most likely did.
"A little before two, eh?" Clark must've yawned again, as it was hard to understand what he said. She could hear his footsteps against the hardwood floor and could faintly see his profile moving over to a light switch. "You said that you would be here by midnight."
Lois bit her lip shamefully and sighed. "I know we did, Clark, and I'm really sorry that we didn't keep our word. It's just that --."
"Lois," Clark interrupted with a chuckle. "I was joking. Even Smallville here can make a joke sometimes, contrary to popular belief."
It was needless to say that she was surprised by Clark's somewhat odd behavior. She had never seen him be this…well, relaxed, around her before. Usually, he was fidgety and nervous. Maybe spending time with Jason had helped him come out of his shell? Or perhaps this was just how he acted when he woke up.
Lois chuckled. "Ha ha, very funny. But seriously, Clark, I really am sorry."
"It's no big deal, Lois." Clark said before she heard what sounded like a painful thunk.
"Yeah," Clark said, "Just hit my knee on the coffee table. But, anyway, as I was saying, it's my pleasure spending time with Jason. We had a lot of fun. Watched a few episodes of Will and Grace. From what he tells me, it's your favorite show."
She laughed. "Yeah, well, everyone has their guilty pleasures and that show happens to one of them." Lois shifted the dead weight that was her son in her arms so they wouldn't go limp and sighed. "How much do I owe you?"
"Nonsense, Lois," Clark responded, finally reaching the lamp and switching it on. He turned his head to Lois and smiled. "You don't owe me an---what's wrong, Lois?"
Lois couldn't believe the sight before her. Could it really have been true? Had her dream been correct? Was Clark Kent really Superman? She could feel the blood draining from her face and her arms that held her son so tightly were shaking, as were her legs. "Y-y-your…"
"My what?" Clark asked, brow wrinkled in confusion. "Lois, what's wrong?" He pressed, his voice filled with concern.
So this was the missing piece of the puzzle. Without that simple disguise, he was no longer Clark Kent, nor was he Superman. He was Kal-El. Lois blinked a few times and dry swallowed, her throat suddenly starting to close up and her limbs trembled in both anger and hurt. He had lied to her for all those long years. He had deceived her. What an asshole.
"We've got to go," Lois said monotonously, her face impassive as her insides brewed with fury.
"Are you sure you're-."
"Clark!" Lois interrupted waspishly. "Just shut the hell up! Okay? We've leaving." She stalked over to the door a little more angrily then she planned on it, her footsteps so laden with anger, the thin heels of her shoes nearly snapped in two. She opened the door and slammed it as she exited, the door shaking in it's frame, leaving a dumbfounded Clark Kent standing in the center of his apartment, trying to figure out what just happened.
Her anger, her hurt, his deception. It was blinding her. She could barely see straight as she stormed down the hallway and to that god forsaken elevator. She could feel Jason stirring in her arms and knew she was probably squeezing the life at the poor boy. The elevator doors dinger and opened, allowing Lois to step inside.
She wouldn't think about this. Not now. She would push it the back of her mind. She had more important things to take care of. Such as her son and the whole issue with Richard. Those problems needed to be resolved before she tackled the whole issue of Clark being Superman. And she might not even be right. Maybe they just bore a striking resemblance to one another and she was freaking out for no reason.
Yes. That was what it was. They looked alike. A lot alike. That's all.
Lois took a deep breath as the doors closed and carried her down to the main floor.
She quickly left the building, walking at an extremely fast pace toward the car. She didn't listen to Richard's questions as she put Jason in the back seat and slid in next to her son, holding him in a protective embrace. She didn't noticed when they started driving away from the complex. Hell, she didn't even realize she was crying until Richard said something.
Damn Clark Kent.
Clark stood flabbergasted in the middle of his apartment, not sure what had just happened. He had thought that things were going great between him and Lois. From the way their conversation had been going, he could've sworn that she was flirting with him a bit. And then, she just flipped out. He hadn't done anything wrong. Or…at least, he didn't think he did anything wrong.
He sighed heavily as he flung himself down on the couch and rested his elbows on his knees. Sometimes, he just didn't get women. One minute, they were completely happy, flirting with you and smiling like maniacs, and then, they totally freak out. And they always blamed the male. Why did they always blame the male? Couldn't the woman ever be at fault?
And what did he do anyway? He had just been chatting with her and, maybe, flirting back with her, only because she started it. Clark realized how juvenile that sounded, but it was true.
He released another heavy breath and pushed his hands through his hair. Would she be angry at him tomorrow? Maybe she had just been drinking a bit too much. He had never been around her when she was drunk, but that could just be something she normally did. Maybe she was one of those drunks that had mood swings at the worst times. Yeah, that was it.
Clark rubbed his face tiredly and yawned.
His body stiffened.
He swore under his breath like a sailor.
He touched the bridge of his nose.
He felt around his eyes.
He checked his ears.
He could feel the world closing in around him.
A horrible feeling of dread knotted up his stomach.
He was nauseous; he felt the bile rise in his throat.
This couldn't be happening. Not now. Not when everything was going so well.
Like a stupid idiot, he had forgotten the most important thing to Clark Kent.
He had forgotten his glasses.
A/N: And that's all she wrote folks! Yes, as sad as I am to say, this fic is complete. The second one out of my 15 or so stories that has finally come to a close. But, never fear, there shall be a sequel. I promise and it'll be up by next Wednesday. I'm sorry this chapter SUCKED so badly, but it's the longest one and, quite frankly, the most important, or, at least, one of the more important ones. Please review like always and, maybe, if you haven't reviewed before but have been reading since the start, you could drop one? Well, I love you all and I shall see you VERY shortly!
P.S. Look out for the sequel entitled "Conquering Emotions". You won't want to miss it.