A/N- Concrit is muchly appreciated, because this is my first foray into the Superman universe.
The stars were alight with their own glow, somehow shining brighter than they ever had before. Lois shivered a little at their beauty, her head tilted to gaze at the heavens.
She was clothed in a silk nightgown that rippled down her form, layers of fabric smooth against her skin. The night air caressed her arms quietly, serenely. She felt a budding exhilaration, simply looking at the night sky. Lois could feel layers of cynicism and frustration slowly falling away at the quiet serenity the depth promised.
The balcony outside of her bedroom was quiet, and still. A quirk of her lips betrayed amusement as she wondered what was happening inside her home. Richard was probably grappling with her son, attempting to get him to bed. If she tried, she could probably hear strains of laughter streaming from inside.
But now was not the time for contemplating the thousand little occurrences that composed domestic life. Lois had come out here to center herself, to steady the thousand thoughts that had begun to whirl through her mind.
Superman was back. A sharp pang shot abruptly through her, and she wasn't sure if it was passionate anger or excitement. She closed her eyes, the wind playing with her hair and the folds of her robe. A slow, decadent sigh fell from her lips.
There was certainly something that she still felt for him. Something warm, soft, tender, a sensation captured in moonlight and quiet reflection. A rueful, bitter smile on her face, she knew that Richard could sense the connection between her and the guardian of Metropolis. She recalled the quickly-masked look of hurt and confusion on her fiancé's face. He had seen the wonder in her eyes, the quickness of breath that only the Kryptonian hero could bring.
Richard was not inclined to feelings of jealousy easily. He trusted her, the kind of intimate faith that only lovers had. Lois bit her lip, wondering if his belief in her self-restraint was warranted.
She heard a yelp from inside the house, her son's shrieking laughter. Richard's warm voice echoed through, as he tickled and teased the child that was not his own.
Betrayal. A voice inside her mind insisted upon the word as the only way to describe the tangled relationship between her and the man she had pledged herself to. She fought against it, uneasily shifting, hands coming to rest on the wooden balcony.
How long? the inner-voice asked. How long before your son begins to look more and more like his father, before the features strengthen and harden? How long before he begins to fly? How long can you lie to Richard?
She hadn't given Richard any reason to doubt her. When the pregnancy test had come back positive, he had smiled widely, ecstatically. Once her stomach had started to swell, he had placed his hand on her belly and imagined the child inside of her. Heart sinking, she had known with a mother's secret, quiet knowledge.
Richard was a good father, a supportive partner. A wash of shame came over her as she bit her lip. Superman was her past, a flitting, silly dream that did not become the woman she was now. She attempted to convince herself of this one assurance. Richard was her strength, and he represented something more than daydreams and fancy. He was stable, secure.
He was Jason's father, in the only way that mattered. Lois was not as cruel to deny Superman his son, but to abandon the man who had stood by her? To give away a son Richard had come to thought of as his?
A quiet tremble belied her sharp internal monologue. Unbridled imagination had come to take place, here at the relaxing of her body and intellect. Her body was firmly grounded, with a large portion of her common sense, but her soul was soaring, far above anything resembling reality. Lois remembered all too well the giddy excitement and happiness that had uplifted her before, in his arms. Treacherous thoughts stole through her mind, and before she could repress it, a quiet smile crossed her face.
Despite the certain knowledge that she could very well hurt the only man she knew was reliable, fantasy stole over her. Incredibly warm, human arms crossed over her once more, shielding her, showing her wonders her mind only began to grasp. There was no pain in this dream-world, no inexplicable five-year absence.
A rich baritone quietly greeted her ears, transcending the gap from fantasy to reality.
She whirled around, a flash of silk, heart racing. Attempting to ignore the skip in her breathing, she crossed her arms across her chest, scowling. Superman was poised behind her, squatting calmly on the railing. Guilty desire stole through her at a glimpse of his strength, his warm blue eyes. His cloak was flapping around him, creating the illusion of impossible strength and invulnerability.
He smirked quietly, attempting to disguise his amusement at startling her. He failed.
She snapped, "What?" Annoyance and embarrassment overcame her at having been caught fantasizing.
He floating over, standing too close to her. Involuntarily, warmth spread through her at his proximity. A quiet smile masked his face, rendering it impossible to read.
"I would like to watch Jason this weekend."
Lois's jaw moved silently, discarding harsh, blunt sentences.
She ended up blurting out, "What will I tell Richard?"
Superman shifted, placing his face in the shadows.
"You could tell him the truth."
His tone was light, hesitant, almost joking. But she sensed the deeper meaning running through it, the shard of genuine emotion buried within.
Running a hand through her hair, she admitted, "I don't know how."
Silence. It betrayed more than she would have thought possible. Hurt welled up, need that she had thought quenched burning once more. The quiet that she had before luxuriated in now made her uncomfortable, and she decided to break it.
"If you hadn't left, then perhaps there would have been nothing to tell."
Even as the words escaped her lips, she knew the unfairness of her harsh statement.
He pleaded quietly, open anguish in his voice, "Lois. Please."
Closing her eyes, suddenly impossibly weary, naked longing overtaking everything else, she whispered, "Take me flying?"
Torn desire shone within her as she breathlessly awaited his response, not certain what she wanted. There was another second's hesitation, and then he acquiesced.
Her eyes still closed, she felt his strength envelop her. Arms enfolded her, and then she felt the rushing of air, the sudden closeness that she had craved.
Only then did she open her eyes. His expression was inscrutable, his face turned to the side, looking away from her. A sudden desire to explore that face, to caress it with her fingers until she knew it by touch and taste came over her. She looked away as well, down at the ground.
The quietly rippling lake, the distant warmth of house-lights, the hushing whisper of the wind all made Lois wonder at the magnificence of creation. It caused her to relax, her lips drifting dangerously close to his. She was inhaling his breath, feeling him incredibly, indescribably close to her.
Words slipped forth from her tongue before she could hold them back.
"Does anyone truly know you?"
He looked at her, and no calm smile could mask the fear and loneliness that shone through his face.
"A few people," he murmured. Lois felt almost as if the heavens were surrounding them, were shielding them, transporting them into her own private fantasy. They were ascending quietly, drifting through the twilight.
A gentle hand reached, and, of its own accord, began to smooth his cheek. Her eyes flickered up to his, and they captured hers, utterly and completely. Lois began to curse her sudden tenderness with this man, who had utterly deserted her. Still, thoughts overflowed lazily from her mind to her mouth.
"How can they, when I barely know you myself?"
It was an invitation, a request, a plea for him to share everything with her. Thoughts of her fiancé were left far behind, left floating back on the earth.
He sighed, stirring her hair. The moment between them was broken as he looked away and Lois took her hand from his face.
"This is not... easy for me, you understand."
A broken piece of defiance ripped through her.
"Like saying goodbye?"
She felt the sudden weakness in his demeanor. And then suddenly something broke over Lois, strong and pure, demanding and intense. It was a sensation that overcame everything else she was feeling, hesitation and doubt. It fluttered between them, taking gasps of air that had been denied to it for five years.
She kissed him, suddenly, without warning. His lips were pleasant against hers, and then he began to embrace her back, a moan escaping his throat. Desperate, aching need tore through Lois, and she began to eagerly arch against him. Panting for breath, they broke the kiss, his eyes glowing with a quiet question.
Hesitation crept upon her once more, for a moment winning over the magic and beauty of this one breath.
"I... don't want to hurt Richard."
He tensed slightly, Lois feeling the rippling of muscles across his arm.
"I need stability," she breathed. A portion of the longing she felt must have found its way to her face, because he flinched. "I don't... can't... know you, not completely."
"Lois," he said, quietly, voice filling the night, the silence, "I am... more than this. More than an icon, a symbol, a hero..."
Anticipation flared within her. Perhaps he would finally be able to give himself, utterly, finally, to her. She could feel something rising between them, tremulous and unsteady, the flicker of absolute truth...
A distant expression came across his face. He was not here, with her, not anymore. If Superman swore, he surely would have in the next second as he refocused on her. No words were needed. The flame that had consumed all her inhibitions was slowly beginning to die at the look in his eyes...
"I have to leave," he said urgently, regretfully. Cloak flapping through the night, he carried her quickly through the darkness, back to the balcony of her house. Her awe-struck wonder was quickly replaced by immense frustration and anger. They had been so close...
He set her back on the wooden planking, not making a sound. Lois looked bitterly up at the bright stars, cursing the dream that had carried her away. As he began to fly off, her mounting chagrin overcame her.
"Is this what you have to offer me?" she shouted at the retreating man. "A life full of running away? Of escaping commitment, of broken promises and unfulfilled hopes?"
He was almost gone now, lost to the night, to some distant emergency, to responsibility. He was lifted up, gazing down on her. Questions simmered in Lois, with no resolution, no answers.
His eyes brimming with aching repentance, he said calmly and quietly before his form was lost to her anxious eyes, "I am Clark Kent."