Title: Come Home to Me
Summary: Superman returns . . . a little earlier.
Warning: Adult situations, mild in my opinion, but didn't want to shock anyone. Reference to a scene in Superman II.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately none of these characters belong to me. They belong to DC Comics and others. However, I take complete responsibility for what I'm about to do to them :)
Note: This is part I of II parts and will stand alone. As much as I'm tempted this will not be a multi-chapter fic. Hopefully it wont be too long of a wait for the next part.
'Where Has He Gone?'
Clark stood gazing at the framed, gilded headline in the lobby of the Daily Planet, an echo of the guilt and uncertainty that had been his inner conflict at the time of his departure suddenly resurfacing. Around him patrons and employees ebbed and flowed in fluid streams of foot traffic, swirling around him as if he were a rock within the babbling brook of morning commuters.
Regret momentarily marred Clark's handsome features as he stood staring at the article and the black and white picture of Superman. Had anyone been so inclined to take notice of him in that moment, they may have been struck by the uncanny resemblance he shared with the man in the photo. The likeness, however, was fleeting as Clark Kent easily slipped back into the role of clumsy reporter - ready to start his first day back to work.
Seemingly heedless of the hustle and bustle around him, Clark retrieved the oversized luggage at his feet and pressed into the crowd toward the elevator. Oblivious to the battered and bruised knees and hindquarters in his wake he lumbered awkwardly towards the sliding doors, shifting one large suitcase under his arm as he called out.
"Hold please!" Trying in vain to reach the obviously full elevator, Clark was surprised when someone actually held the door for him.
"Thank you." Stumbling in with his cargo, he reached to shake the man's hand – the young gentleman who was by now showing serious doubts as to the wisdom of that decision – and instead managed to drop his rather heavy suitcase directly on the man's foot.
"Oh. Ummm." Clark grasped the handle and lifted its weight as he continued. "I'm terribly sorry." He apologized sincerely, noting that the man was obviously pained yet still managed to offer a small good-natured smile.
A collective sigh of impatience filled the confined space as the door attempted to close again but caught on Clark's other suitcase. Appearing horrified at causing this unintentional delay, he grabbed the offending parcel and slid it quickly out of the way and into the huddled crowd.
A hiss of pain caused him to turn wide eyed to a young lady who held her stubbed foot protectively in the air. Flustered, he pushed his glasses further up on to the bridge of his nose and opened his mouth to apologize yet again.
She silenced him quickly with a raised hand, the look on her face indicating that whatever it was he was about to say – she wanted to part of it.
Looking as apologetic as possible, Clark cleared his throat and turned to face the now closed doors as the elevator began its ascent. After a moment of strained silence - when fourteen people all crammed into the same tiny space did their best to ignore each other – Clark suddenly remembered the kind gentleman who'd held the door for him.
When he offered a big grin and a pleasant wave, it appeared at first that the man would ignore him. Common courtesy won out however, and the young man met his gaze steadily with a genuine smile. He had a pleasant and open face and it was obvious that he found Clark's animated antics more a source of amusement than an annoyance.
"Richard." The man introduced himself, extending a hand. "Richard White."
Clark's brows arched in surprise. He'd heard that name before. "Not Perry's Richard?" He inquired as he firmly shook the proffered hand. Perry rarely spoke of his family, or anything personal for that matter, yet he'd often mentioned his young protégé nephew.
It was Richard's turn to look surprised. "One in the same." He regarded Clark a little curiously, not entirely comfortable with the familiarity. "And you would be..?"
"Oh," Clark looked abashed at forgetting to introduce himself. "Kent. Clark Kent. Nice to meet you."
Richard looked at him closely, brow furrowed, but there was a definite twinkle in his eye as he responded. "Not Jimmy's Mr.Kent?"
Richard's smile broadened at Clark's startled and confused look. "Not the Clark Kent that has been on extended hiatus in a soul searching expedition to the far corners of the earth?"
Ah. Richard saw understanding dawn in his eyes. "Jimmy hasn't shut up about you since he heard you'd be returning to the Planet."
Clark managed to look both embarrassed and pleased at this news and let his gaze slide away. At least someone other than his mother was excited about his return. He couldn't stop the small flutter of butterflies in his stomach as he thought about Lois' reaction.
"So..?" Richard asked. "How long have you been gone?"
He snapped himself back to the conversation. "Uh…Just a little over a year."
"Well, it shouldn't be too hard to get back into the swing of things." Richard replied optimistically. "It's not like you've been gone for five years?"
Clark barely restrained himself from blanching at the thought. A year had been long enough. Nodding in agreement the two shared an agreeable conversation for the remainder of the brief ride – bar the numerous stops and shifting of luggage along the way.
Together he and Richard stepped of the elevator and into the familiar noise and organized calamity of the newsroom. Clark took a deep breath and savored the chaos. For the first time since his return, other than waking in his bed at the farm, Clark felt a sense of home. Like he truly belonged. Here, he was just Clark, the mild mannered reporter that was easily lost or missed in the shuffle of people and paper.
"Nice to meet you, Kent." Richard was already edging away, presumably towards his office. "If you need anything, anything at all, my office is right over here."
Clark nodded in thanks but was already scanning the room for Lois' petite figure and the beautiful chocolate waves that framed her face. He was disappointed when she was nowhere to be found. The smile returned to his face however, as he spotted Jimmy.
"Ooops. Sorry. Excuse me." Clark bumped and banged his way towards the young photographer, baggage still in hand.
"Kent!" Richard called out just as he was about to surprise Jimmy.
Jimmy leaped from his seat with such alacrity that he knocked his camera from its perch on the corner of the desk. Clark caught it easily before it hit the floor.
"Whoa…good reflexes." Richard noted his comment drowned out by an enthusiastic Jimmy.
"Mr. Clark! Mr. Kent!" Jimmy corrected himself, his face alight with genuine pleasure in Clark's presence. "You're back!"
"It's good to see you, Jimmy." Clark responded with an answering grin.
"Olsen!" Editor-in-Chief Perry White called impatiently from his office.
Looking immediately apologetic, Jimmy responded to the command. "Right…" He looked torn and Clark gave him an understanding look. He knew as well as anyone that it was never a good idea to keep Perry waiting. "I'll be right back and we'll get you settled." Jimmy promised as he took off.
"Do you need a place to store those?" Richard asked in reference to Clark's luggage once Jimmy had disappeared.
"Oh? Ummm," Clark was legitimately surprised at the offer. "Sure."
"I thought you might. Here," Richard grabbed them both and started back to his office, tossing a look at him over his shoulder as if to ask what-the-hell-do-you-have-in-here-anyways? "I'll keep 'em safe and out of the way for you. They'll be in the corner by the window when you need them."
"Gee, thanks." He said, but Richard was already gone.
Jimmy returned moments later bearing a rather humble and partially eaten cake.
"Welcome back, Mr. Kent" He presented the cake to Clark with obvious pride, despite the missing piece. "I made it myself."
"Jimmy, you really shouldn't have," Clark responded. "It looks . . ." Jimmy suddenly looked the part of an uncertain little boy as he awaited the verdict. "Delicious." He finished, much to Jimmy's delight.
Jimmy set the cake on his desk and reached for the proofs he'd forgotten to take with him on the first trip to Perry's office.
"I've got to…" Again looking sorry for having to abandon Clark so quickly on his first day back Jimmy started back to Perry's office.
"Wait!" Clark called, unable to stand not knowing any longer. "Jimmy, do you know where I can find Lois?"
"Oh," Jimmy stopped fully, looking a tad uncomfortable, which caused Clark a sudden unease. "She's, ah, not here." This stating of the obvious caused Clark's midnight brows to rise in askance. Where is she?
Jimmy looked undecided for a moment; uncertain as to how much information he should give. Clark's concern must have been written all over his face as Jimmy continued in a rush. "She's okay." He assured him quickly, and then added, "Ms. Lane's just taken a . . . leave of absence."
Whatever Clark had been expecting, that wasn't it. Leave of absence? Lois? He could tell by the tone of Jimmy's voice that there was more to it than that, but the young man had already fled to Perry's office with his photos.
Disturbed by this news, Clark did his best to not let it show. Lois was safe. He was sure of that much. He would simply have to wait for the details. He looked around the newsroom for an empty desk to claim. It took a few minutes to find, as the space was obviously being used for storage and was loaded with various files and research. Were it not for the little name plaque half buried under a toppled stack of manila folders, he would never have known it was meant for him. The corner of his mouth lifted in a fond smile, unexpectedly touched by Jimmy's thoughtfulness.
The remainder of the day consisted of setting his work area to rights, lunch with Jimmy – who gave no further details on Lois' leave, even when gently prodded – and delving into his first assignment. The last of which had given him considerable pause and renewed appreciation for his timely return.
After less than a year in prison, Lex Luthor had somehow managed to finagle a cursory meeting with the Metropolis Parole Board for early release, based on good behavior, of course. Clark had spent the entire afternoon on the phone checking into Luthor's prison record, visitation logs, and with several members of the parole board.
Unfortunately, time spent in research did not always yield desired results – especially when the involved sources were reluctant to share information. How, after serving less than a quarter of his sentence, did Luthor manage to wrangle his way to a hearing? He would find out and put a stop to it one way or another – of that he was certain.
"Working overtime already, huh?" Jimmy had his coat over his arm and was obviously preparing to leave. Clark hadn't realized just how late it was until the photographer's hand fell on his shoulder.
"Oh, ah...?" Clark allowed himself to look a little frazzled, and pulled himself from the notes on his desk. "Yeah, something like that."
After politely refusing Jimmy's sincere invitation to dine with he and his mother, Clark shut down his computer and wrapped up the day's work. A few others lingered in the office tapping at their keyboards, and he noticed that Perry was still hard at work as well. He let himself into Richard's office, who it appeared had long since left, and retrieved his luggage. The first item on his evening agenda – find a hotel. The second and most important – find Lois.
An hour and a half later Clark found himself on the sidewalk outside Lois' building. He'd walked around the block twice already and knew perfectly well that he was stalling. It would be so much easier to just fly to her penthouse apartment, not to mention a grander entrance – but as far as the world was concerned, superman had not yet returned. And if he were honest with himself, he preferred to face her first as Clark, the friend who had regrettably left without word – rather than Superman, the lover who had betrayed and then abruptly abandoned her. The fact that she had no memory of the latter did little to ease his feelings of guilt.
It wasn't that simple, he knew. But Lois was a cut to the chase kind of woman, as anyone who knew Ms.Lane with more than a passing fancy could attest to. Lois tended to see things much like the photos that accompanied Perry's headlines – in black and white. That coupled with the fact that she was completely unpredictable, something that he'd always loved about her, was setting him on edge. He wasn't used to feeling legitimately anxious or unnerved. As Clark he feigned it any number of times – but to feel it truly, in the pit of his stomach or in the pounding of his heart – only Lois could undo him so.
Taking a deep breath, Clark entered the lobby and made for the stairs. Fifty-seven flights should give him more than enough time to calm and center himself. Yet with each level, the sweet fluttery feeling of anticipation continued to grow. The memory of her lips beneath his was startlingly vivid, and he could almost feel the heat of her body pressed close to his. So powerful was the recollection, that he paused in the stairwell, eyes closed.
For a brief moment in time, the rest of the world had simply ceased to exist. He'd taken her to his fortress and in a shimmering cloud of silver they had explored and mapped each other's bodies slowly - finding each and every hidden spot of desire. She had a spot on her shoulder, close to her collarbone, when nibbled gently that would cause her to gasp and arch her back beautifully. He had found himself in a haze of heightened arousal when she wrapped those wonderfully smooth legs around him from behind and lightly kissed the nape of his neck, stroking the sensitive skin with the tip of her tongue. He'd moaned, deep and low, the pressure around his waist tightening as he trembled in her arms.
Her skin was silky smooth and warm against his back, the firm fullness of her breasts pressed close as she clung to him. His head lolled back against her shoulder. Grasping his chin, Lois turned his face away and suckled the soft patch of skin beneath his ear. Unaware of the small noises of pleasure emanating from his throat, he'd surrendered to her completely.
Clark opened his eyes and swallowed, noticeably affected by the memory. It was obvious that he had been the more inexperienced of the two. Yet somehow Lois had managed to both guide him and submit to him at the same time. She gave of herself so completely, that he never questioned giving her the same in return. They'd fallen asleep exhausted and sated in each other's arms, waking to renew their passion every few hours. Almost as if each knew, then, that it would be the only night they would ever share.
Sobering, Clark continued upward. He still had doubts about erasing her memory and couldn't help but wonder if he'd done the right thing. Exiting the stairwell and strode purposefully to Lois' door. He could barely wait to see her. Suppressing the instinct to peer through the wall and invade her privacy he settled for knocking instead. Just as he was about to make contact, he heard muffled voices on the other side and the door suddenly opened.
The departing visitor had a look of surprise that he was sure was mirrored on his own face. Lois stood frozen, still as a statue, pale with shock. Her guest was the first to recover.
"Clark?" Richard's voice was polite but curious.
"Oh. Um…Hello, Richard." Clark stammered unintentionally. "How's the foot?" It was really all he could think to say, peripherally aware of Lois' gaping expression but unable to focus on her just yet.
"Actually," Richard responded with a convincing air repressed pain, taking the weight of his foot. "I believe you may have fractured my big toe."
Clark's eyes went as big as saucers in mortification, but before he could verbalize an apology of any sort, Richard let him off the hook.
"Just kidding, big guy." Clark's relief was evident as Richard gave him a familiar cuff on the arm.
Lois's continued silence was hard to ignore and both men looked to her in concern. She stood staring unblinkingly at Clark, who finally met her gaze.
"Hello, Lois." If possible she paled further at the sound of his voice, looking faint.
"Lois?" Richard was immediately at her side, alarmed. "Are you all right?"
His touch seemed to break her trance and she blinked several times, allowing Richard to support her. Finally pulling her gaze from Clark she turned to him.
"Yes. Yes . . . I'm fine." Noticeably pulling herself together, Lois stood on her own and released Richard's arm. "Thank you." He noticed that she couldn't seem to tear her eyes away from Clark for more than a few seconds.
There was an awkward moment of silence and Richard found himself confused by the underlying tension between the two former partners. Jimmy had talked non-stop about what a great team Lois and Clark had made, but he never got the impression that there was anything more to their relationship.
"Can I get you anything? Some water?" He asked still worried, and obviously confused by her reaction to Clark.
"No." Lois forcibly pulled her gaze from Clark and turned to Richard. She smiled shakily, distracted. "I'm fine, really. Thank you . . . for stopping by."
It was an obvious if polite dismissal, and Lois turned to her newest visitor, acknowledging him stiffly.
"Come in, Clark."
As he exchanged places with Richard on the threshold, their eyes met momentarily. Each saw in the other a potential friend turned rival. Obviously uncomfortable about leaving, Richard cleared his throat. Their budding relationship was too new; he would not question her decision.
"Goodnight, Lois." He leaned forward and kissed her cheek lightly, heartened when she met his gaze and smiled. He left, with a final uncertain glance at Clark.
Lois closed the door and stood silently staring at it with her back to him.
"Gee, Lois." He started, sensing that something was off with her behavior. "You had me worried . . ."
He paused as she turned quickly away from him and walked to the far side of the room, still with her back to him.
"A leave of absence?" He continued hesitantly, his eyes following her. "Are you ill?"
She snorted as if amused and finally turned to look at him, eyes narrowed. He realized with a sudden start that she was angry with him. Lois opened her mouth to speak, but whatever it was she was about to say, she apparently decided better of it and remained silent. Instead, she began to pace back and forth, in quick, agitated steps, arms folded in front of her.
Dressed for bed, Lois wore a matching gown and robe of silky champagne that flowed to her ankles. The russet waves of her hair was pinned in the back, but a few loose tendrils had come loose and floated down to frame the delicate features of her face. She looked tired, but beautiful, he thought.
"Lois," He tried again, unsettled by her silence. "Are you alright?"
"Am I alright?" She asked in disbelief at the question and then again more sarcastically. "Am I alright?" She threw him a seething look and he visibly flinched. It was never a good sign when Lois repeated herself.
He cleared his throat, not sure how to proceed. His uncertainty only seemed to inflame her further and she abandoned her pacing to stalk across the room and stand directly in front of him. Again - it appeared she wanted to say something, but couldn't find the right words. She stood staring up at him defiantly, a storm of conflict raging in her eyes.
"Lois," He began, but got no further. With a surprisingly quick movement, she reached up and plucked the dark framed glasses from his face. He was still reeling from the shock of this action when she drew back her arm and slapped him, hard, across the face. Unconsciously, his hand went to the offended area and he looked at her, incredulous.
"How could you just leave us like that!"
To be concluded in part II.
A/N: I know. So I thought 'This Kiss' was going to be it for me and back I go to the realm of Star Wars. Well, it turns out that while 'Kiss' was the more realistic outcome for that piece based on the movie, it did nothing to satisfy my need for a happy ending. Perhaps this will suit me (and you) better ;)