Summary: What does one do when the woman you love cares only for your alter-ego? What can be done to make her see you when you're not wearing a cape? How can there be a happy family when she doesn't see you unless you wear a costume? Dichotomy is confusing enough without adding romance to the mixture.
To Love a Dichotomous Man
"Will we see you...around?" She smiled slightly, the memory of tears sparkling in her eyes. The cigarettes in her hand long forgotten, she looked up at him. Minutes ago she had thought him gone forever and now he hovered before her, as healthy as he had ever looked. The moonlight shone blue on his dark hair, but he was too far away for her to see his eyes.
There was sadness there and he did not try to hide it. "Good night, Lois."
She stared after him a moment, willing him to come back. He would if she called to him; there was no doubt in her mind that he would return to her. Still, his coming back would mean explanations. Those were explanations she was not ready to give. Lois had been through a lot in the past few days and she wanted nothing more than to get back to her routine.
"Go back to bed, Jason," she said as her eyes fell on her son. He stood in the window, looking after his savior: his father. He stood a moment more before turning away silently.
Richard above the couch, arms folded, looking on the woman he had lived with for over four years. "Lois," he said quietly, shaking her arm gently. She started to consciousness, inhaling sharply, and her eyes darted about before settling on his. "Lois, come to bed."
"Richard..." Her eyes were apologetic. He could sense her hesitation, her reluctance, the distance she put between them. She hadn't been sleeping much in the past two weeks, and when she did, it certainly was not with him. There was even less affection between them now than there had been before. Richard knew she was a private woman, but he still felt her slipping away.
"Superman," he stated in a matter-of-fact manner. She averted her gaze and gritted her teeth, a habit he had long since categorized as disinclined confession. "He left you Lois. He left when you were three months pregnant with Jason."
"He didn't know I was pregnant," Lois growled, sitting up and meeting his gaze with her angry eyes.
"He didn't even say good bye," Richard said, stabbing her where it hurt most. He regretted it almost immediately. "Lois..."
"I know, all right, Richard?" She stood and wrapped her robe more tightly around her, tying the belt with jerky, frustrated movements. "I know he left. I know he is not dependable. I even know he would not be able to be there for Jason and myself nearly as much as you have been." She chuckled dishearteningly. "How could he be? There are so many people to save. Why should he have time for me?" She slumped in an armchair across the room.
He was quiet a moment before deciding to say what was on his mind. "I love you, Lois. I've loved you since I first met you. Let me be your husband. Let me be Jason's father."
"You're not his father, Richard. Not really. And you're not my husband."
"Clark," Martha Kent exclaimed as her adopted son stepped through the front door. She wiped her hands on her apron and removed it as she walked to him, draping it over the couch and pulling him into her arms. She was astonished, as ever, about how tall he had gotten. It seemed only days ago she had held him in her arms wondering if she was capable of raising a child at her age. "What brings you here?"
"Hi, Mom," he softly greeted her; his words were barely above a whisper. He held on to her tightly.
"Clark, dear, what's wrong?" she asked as she rubbed her hand down his back. Granted, he usually returned to the old farm when he was having a hard time of things. The last time he had been unable to save a young girl from drowning. It tore him up inside.
"It's Lois," he answered and his mother's heart missed a beat. If something had happened to that young reporter Clark would never forgive himself.
"What happened?" she asked, straightening her back and stepping away slightly. She guided him to the couch and sat him down as she went to make some tea. The golden retriever Jonathon had brought home one day shortly before his death walked over to Clark with a tattered tennis ball in his mouth. Clark reached out subconsciously to take the ball and tossed it lightly into the dining room. The dog left as Martha walked in with a tea tray.
"Here you are," she said as she placed a cup in front of him. "Now, what happened? Is she all right?"
"She's fine. It's just..." he sighed and spooned some sugar into his tea. "Lois is a mother."
"A mother. Oh, my," Martha replied, stunned. "Well, you were gone quite a while, dear. You couldn't expect her not to meet someone."
"Yes, I know," he answered, thinking of Richard. The man's friendly smile was made all the worse by the fact that he was a decent man. "Her son... I'm the father." Martha's son couldn't look at her then. He did not want to see the shock, the disappointment that filled her eyes all the times he had gone over this moment in his mind.
"You... are you sure?"
Clark looked at her then with dry amusement. He nodded and said quietly, "Of course I'm sure. He threw a piano."
The older woman chuckled in response, remembering her son lifting their old truck. She took a sip and set down the cup as the sun started to rise. "Fatherhood is scary, I'm sure. Especially when you've missed so much of it already."
"Believe me, I know, mom. I'm just... how can we live normally? I can't expose them. Lois has been targeted so many times already. How can I put my son through that?"
"You can't forsake those you love just because you are scared. If they don't want to take the risk, they will let you know. As for living normally, I'm sure you would be fine. At least, you could live as close to normally as you do now."
"But she doesn't even see me when I'm Clark. How can I expect her to love me?"
"Dear, she fell in love with you. Just because she loves part of you doesn't mean she won't love the rest. I understand that you are worried and it is unfair. Even so, she'd be getting her best friend and the man she loves rolled into one. Just pluck up and everything will be fine."
Clark Kent stepped out of the elevator with at least ten other people and was jostled about as he made his way to his already cluttered desk. Being Superman meant he often did not get as much work done as his fellow reporters and the piles of papers and folders strewn about were proof of that. Stress aside, spending the weekend with his mother was uplifting, but he didn't feel quite so at ease now that he was back at work. Clark had been able to help her with several chores around the house. He set his briefcase down with a sigh and sat, putting his head in his hands for a moment. He simply was not prepared to face this day.
"Clark?" Her hand reached out and touched his shoulder. He would have jumped, pretended to be surprised, but he did not have the motivation. "Are you all right?"
He lifted his head and turned to the woman, her head blurred by the fingerprints on his glasses. He removed them and began to wipe them, not hiding his face as usual. He found the he did not have the motivation lately to keep his identity a secret from her, either. He wanted so badly to tell her, but the words stuck in his throat every time he tried.
She looked at him quizzically, tilting her head to one side. Her eyes squinted slightly as she looked at him like he was someone she ran into at the grocery store and recognized though she was not sure why. "You look different with your glasses," she told him as he placed them one once more. "You should consider wearing contacts. Have you ever tried pushing back your..." She reached for the hair he kept draped over her face, but he grabbed her wrist firmly.
"Lois," he said, losing the lighthearted tone he often used in the office. His voice was deep and burdened; it sent shivers down her spine.
"Clark..." she whispered, surprised at the reaction she was having and pushing it away. She cleared her throat and pulled her hand back, becoming the more professional version of herself. "Are you all right, Clark?"
"I'll be fine, Lois."
"I'll say," he replied with a smirk that did not resemble his normal playfulness. "Look, I've got a lot of work..."
"Go to lunch with me?" she interrupted him, looking slightly ashamed of her forwardness. He looked at her questioningly.
"Can't I go to lunch with a friend?"
"You don't go to lunch. Not with me. Why not go with Richard?"
She recoiled from his words, upset by them. Her brow furrowed. "What's gotten into you, Clark? I've had a busy few days. I'm sorry I didn't talk to you sooner. But I haven't seen you in five years. Let me buy you lunch to catch up."
He had half expected her not to show up. He had rationalized that she was obsessed with her work; that she would go off chasing some story and promise to make it up to him later. He had anticipated a quiet lunch by himself, full of brooding and pitying stares from nearby patrons. Therefore, he was quite surprised to see her walk through the doors and toward him, her hair blowing softly about her face.
She sat beside him and ordered a glass of red wine while looking at the menu before her. "What are you having?" she asked as she gave him a smile.
"I was thinking about just a club sandwich," he replied, taking in the soft curls that draped over her like a parted curtain. She raised her eyes without moving her head and looked at him with a sigh of frustration.
"Clark, I'm taking you out to lunch. Heck, it's so late for lunch I'm having wine. Order something substantial, something expensive."
"I can pay for myself."
"I know," she replied, softening her tone at the note of irritation in his. "I just want to do something nice for you."
"So, tell me about your vacation." Lois twirled pasta around her fork, keeping it steady with a large spoon, and took a bite. Clark chanced a glance at her lips before turning to his own plate.
"Not much to say, really. I did a lot of thinking. I looked at the stars and the planets an awful lot. I visited the place where I was born. It wasn't really eventful. Really, I spent most of my time traveling."
"Five years is a lot of traveling to do. You must have done something exciting. Where is the reporter in you? You're supposed to be good at telling stories."
"I'm supposed to be good at reporting news that has nothing to do with myself," he corrected. Though lately, Perry White was obsessed with Superman's return and it was rare that the news didn't have something to do with the man who lived a double life. "Speaking of the news, did Perry give you a new partner after I left?"
"No," she replied, and finished chewing before she continued. "I guess he figured I could do it on my own. I'd had enough experience by then. That, and I guess he hoped that if I was on my own Superman would come to me; as if I could lure him out of hiding."
"Well, you did, didn't you? He rescued you on that plane. That was the first thing he did in five years, wasn't it?"
"Yes," she said, irritated with the direction of the conversation. She heard enough about Superman from every aspect of her life. She didn't need Clark to talk about him as well. "I suppose it was the first major rescue in a while. But that's neither here nor there. I didn't ask you out to talk about Superman."
Clark stopped eating, folded his hands and looked at her, suddenly more serious than she had ever seen him.
"What's with you lately? You've changed since you came back."
"Why did you want to take me out to lunch?"
"I wanted to catch up. I explained that to you already."
"Is that all?" he insisted.
"Yes," she growled, angry at his tone and at the insinuation that she had lied to get him on his own under false pretenses. "What else do you expect?"
"What about Richard?"
"What about him? We're not together anymore, but even if we were I don't see why it would concern you! What's gotten into you?"
He sighed and cleared his head, trying to come up with an answer that would not start an argument or a scene. Finally, he shook his head and threw caution to the wind. "I've stood by and watched you date other men. I've been by your side as your partner and your friend for years. I've not said anything about your living with Richard, but I can't stand this."
"What are you talking about?" She was fuming, not entirely sure where this was going, but mad at the statements he made, mad at his tone of voice, mad because he was in front of her and it was easy to be angry with him instead of the one who had put her in this mood.
"I love you, Lois," he said, firmly, bluntly, as if he had been saying it every day since he learned to speak. "And it's killing me to watch you, always knowing that you don't even see me the way I see you. I died inside when I thought another man had fathered your son. I wanted to scream every time I saw you kiss Richard. I can't live like this anymore, Lois."
He stood suddenly and kissed her, tilting her head back as she sat in the dining chair. Her fork clattered to the plate as it left her hand. His palms cupped her face and radiated the warmth that was so familiar to her. She sighed and parted her lips instinctively. He left her just as suddenly as he had enveloped her, and she breathed in his scent, lamenting the loss of the body heat to which she had quickly grown accustomed. "Clark," she whispered. Her mind was in a haze. It was amazing how he did this to her. Only minutes ago her mind was everywhere but now he was the only thought in her mind.
"Have dinner with me, Lois.
"I… I can't leave Jason," she stuttered, still under his spell.
"Bring him with you. We can all have dinner."
"I don't know, Clark."
"You don't have a place to stay, Lois. You can't live out of a hotel. Stay with me, I've got a spare room. Just until you can get on your feet: until you can find an apartment."
"I don't know what to say."
"Say yes." He was confident. Sure of himself. Sexual and seducing while sweet and comforting. She wanted nothing more than to say yes, but her sense of morality told her it was a bad idea. The last time she had done anything so reckless she wound up pregnant and without the father about to help support and raise the child. In the end, she decided nothing bad could happen with her son unwittingly acting as a chaperone. She agreed. It wasn't until she was halfway to the pre-school to pick up Jason, though she couldn't remember his exact wording during their lunch that she realized she had never told Clark that her son was not fathered by Richard.
"Mommy, are you okay?"
Lois blinked her eyes and continued to stare straight forward at the road with her hands on the wheel. She smiled at her son via the rear view mirror. "I'm fine, honey, just thinking."
"What are you thinking about?"
"Just a friend." Her tone made it clear, even to the young boy, that particular conversation was finished. There was no way she was going to talk about her current train of thought. No way she was willing to admit her thoughts lingered on her former partner Clark Kent.
Why had she never seen him in such light before? Had he always been the person she had caught a glimpse of at lunch? If he had been, why had she not seen it before? Lois had always concentrated on her work to be sure and, as much as it hurt now to admit it, she had not paid much attention to Clark in their time together. The possibility of a romantic entanglement with the clumsy, shy, somewhat dorky man seemed ludicrous and had never occurred to her. Now the famous Ms. Lane found her mind nearly completely occupied with him. She hadn't felt this way since she had first spoken to Superman on the rooftop.
Superman was a sore topic to be sure. Lois had loved him completely and been devastated when he left. She had been unable to give her heart to Richard and here she was considering involvement with Clark. But she had made no promise to either man. It seemed that Superman had no desire to be with her anyway. He had dodged her question the other night and turned his back on her. No, Superman was not going to be in her life, at least not in the way she wished he would be. That was something she was just going to have to accept.
Author's Note: Thanks to Midnight Lady, who prompted a small revision. Your comments made a lot of sense and I believe the story is better for it!