Spoilers: Minor Crisis spoilers and huge ones for the Death of Superman arc.
Rating: PG Fandom: Smallville and Superman Note: Written as a total sequel for my first two stories which can be found at You do need to read them first to get this. Love to both betas, you rock my world and made this not suck.
Summary: At Superman's funeral, Lois meets someone completely unexpected.
Things Past by A.j.
It hurt to stand.
From three stories up, Lois Lane stared out over the funeral crowd, hundreds of thousands in the rubble of their city mourning their hero. She could taste the grief of the crowd, bitter and dry like the air in a barn after a long draught. They'd lost family. Friends. Other fragile lives to this disaster, but they're here for this. Because it's Important.
She's here because she couldn't be somewhere else.
Lois could barely see the mausoleum from the parking garage. All white and perfect in the middle of a battlefield, it stood out. Here and there cranes and school bus yellow earthmovers rested. They lined the broken street like silent sentinels.
She found it amusing that even in her own head, even now, she could think in prose. Too much training and too many deadlines stand between her and stilted sentences. Clark would always laugh when he had to correct something she'd done.
"Who knew you could be this lyrical?"
Then he'd mock her for her romance novel that she never really would finish, or even let anyone read. And stand to get her coffee.
He wouldn't be doing that anymore. Fact was, he wouldn't be doing much of anything at all.
God, she hated crying in public. Well, as public as standing by herself in an empty parking garage was.
By all rights, she should be up in the front with all the superheroes and politicians. She'd been one of his closest friends. The one who was always there. She should be one of those speaking, bearing her memory for all to see. They'd even asked her. Well, the mayor had. His voice official and stilted because he knew about the other thing.
The other thing that only about fifteen people on the planet knew wasn't 'other'. It had everything to do with this.
"I understand if you don't want to do this, Lois. I know Clark is still missing..."
So she'd said no. Taken the way out that was offered. Voice breaking, but not enough to give it all away.
She'd had no intention of coming.
Sitting there, staring at the phone in her hand long after the dial-tone had started its monotone buzz, she'd intended to bury herself so deeply in her apartment that nothing and no one could touch her. She'd thought she couldn't do it. Stand and watch as everyone grieved for this thing that was so much bigger than life. She'd been certain that she'd lose whatever control she had and run screaming through the crowd because none of them deserved to mourn this person. None of them had known him like she had. That the body up there covered by that shroud shouldn't be laid to rest here, it should be back in Kansas in his family's plot. No. He shouldn't still have to be this thing, especially in death. Because this had only been a part of him.
A part he hadn't always wanted.
But just like everything else in their lives, this wasn't just about Lois and Clark. Even in death, it was about something bigger. All about a world that needed saving, and now... Now, it needed to grieve.
So, she'd hung up the phone and waited.
For what, exactly, she hadn't known until this morning, when she'd found herself pulling on her best black suit. She'd been buttoning up the jacket before she'd even realized what she was doing. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror - don'trememberhisglassescase - one hand tangled in raw silk, she'd stared forward, blinking.
Oh, she'd thought. And gone to find her purse.
Apparently, despite everything, she'd needed to grieve too.
But not down there. Not in front of the world. She'd had a hard time letting herself cry in front of Clark. The world hadn't earned that right.
So here she was, up three stories in a nearly packed car park. Large orange cones and barriers blocked the entrances on the street, but mostly because the surrounding roads were completely destroyed. Across the city, large chunks of debris and deep holes pocked the landscape, bearing witness to a fight no one had ever thought to see. Still, no one was taking these cars anywhere; at least until the city road crew completed some serious construction.
They'd already hauled away the Planet's globe though. That had gone first. Symbolism, it seemed, was alive and well in Metropolis. People weren't eager to see that particular reminder. At least, not in person.
The garage was relatively quiet, especially considering its position. It was only two blocks away from the grand memorial set up by the mayor in Metropolis's center-most park. Admittedly, she'd had to jump four parking barriers and edge around a rather impressive crater to gain access - a feat in a silk suit and Gucci pumps - but the building was empty and she could see the stage easily.
So here she was. Leaned up against a concrete half-wall, her bag shoved full of plastic tissue packages, watching a city mourn. Her reporter's instincts were screaming all over the place, noticing the different clusters of people and their reactions. Here and there, women clutched stunned children. To the left of the stage, shrouded women edged a tight circle, their chanting a soft counterpoint to the dry, if heartfelt speeches being read over the loudspeaker system set up around the cleared area.
Lois was sure that Clark would appreciate the singing more than recitation of his deeds and positive features. He was a shy monkey like that.
Was a shy monkey.
Apparently the tears weren't done with her yet. Lois pulled her purse off her shoulder and dug around for a tissue.
"I'm surprised you're here."
Lois jerked around, dropping her purse. It slipped and tilted over as it hit the ground, spilling a few Kleenex packets and her concealer compact onto the rough pavement. For a moment adrenaline raced through the reporter's brain. Wouldn't it just be total poetic justice for her to get mugged and beaten to death within shouting distance of Superman's funeral? Then her eyes adjusted to the shadows of the garage.
Less than twenty feet away, leaned on one of the support pillars was a petite, blonde woman in medical scrubs. Her hair was tucked back in a universal medical-profession bob, and she had one hand cupped around the end of the cigarette between her lips, the other working a lighter. Lois couldn't have made out her eye color even if she'd wanted to, as the woman was wearing reflector sunglasses that were opaque in the dim natural lighting of the parking structure.
"Excuse me?" Keeping both eyes firmly on the woman, Lois bent to scoop everything back into her bag, discreetly wiping her eyes and nose. She tightened her hand around the pepper spray that had tumbled out along with everything else.
"I'm surprised you're here," the woman repeated, shoving her lighter into the pocket of her long, white lab coat while taking a long drag on the now-lit cigarette. "If it were me, I'd be curled up at home crying my eyes out."
"Well, why aren't you then?" She didn't need this. She didn't want to have to deal with this right now. Truth be told, she did want to be at home crying her eyes out. Or, at least, be standing here alone crying her eyes out.
The woman wandered closer, seeming to not have heard the question. She stopped a bit away from where Lois was crouched. Up close, the woman was small, and well proportioned. She faced out towards the gathered masses, her profile drawn and unhappy. "It didn't feel right. Not coming to pay my respects. And if there was one thing I could say about the man, it was that I respected him."
Lois straightened slowly, swaying a bit when she reached her full height. "Then why are you surprised I'm here?"
The other woman turned and gave Lois a half-smirk. "Well, Ms. Lane, I figured you really wouldn't want to face the public right now."
"You know who I am?" Lois started at this. Yes, she and Clark were fairly famous in their own right, but one nice thing about being a newspaper reporter was that people generally didn't recognize you on the street.
The blonde woman smirked again and nodded. "I've known who you are for years, Ms. Lane. And I know what you are. Very, very well."
"You're someone I once wanted to be."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"All this," the woman waved her lit cigarette around. "Amazing career as the top journalist for the Daily Planet. Award-winner. Clark Kent's fiancée."
"Wait, what the hell? Who are you?"
"No one important. Not anymore, anyway. Just Dr. Chloe Sullivan." Smoke curled around the blonde. It, and the reflective sunglasses, created an almost flawless aura of cold. The whole thing would have worked too, if the woman's hands hadn't been shaking.
In the background, the president of Uganda credited Superman with the resurrection of their infrastructure. It was probably one of the more surreal moments of Lois' life. And boy, was that saying something.
"You are a doctor, then?"
The woman flicked off some ash and looked out across the crowd. Here and there banners dotted the swelling mass, all bearing either short messages of grief, or peace signs. As if the person they needed to see them was actually able. But then, who really knew? "I'm an ER triage specialist in Chicago. They flew me in earlier this week to help out."
"Why aren't you at one of the med stations?"
"Same reason those people," she waved her cigarette toward the nearly silent mass of humanity below, "are all standing there like fraternity pledges who've gotten whacked in the nuts by the communal board. Same reason I'm betting you're here."
Lois looked back at President Urandu, looking so somber and not drunk. Probably the first time in five years that had happened. He was a nice man, which generally stunk for him since being a leader in that part of the world ate nice men up. He'd managed though. His liver however... Lois sighed and tried not to choke on smoke. "Somehow doubting that."
"Oh, I don't know." Dr. Sullivan took another long drag and blew out off the balcony. "Grief is pretty unifying."
"Yeah, I guess. Look, why am I even talking to you?"
"Because you can't not talk to me." The blonde woman's lips twisted into something not quite resembling a smile. Lois resisted the urge to edge away. "You're too intrigued by what I'm not - which is a killer or a freak - to walk away. Even now."
Anyone who read an editorial on her could have known that. But that didn't explain the sinking feeling in Lois's stomach. The one that had won her those Pulitzers. The one that was telling her Clark wasn't coming back. "Then what are you?"
Dr. Sullivan sucked on her cigarette and watched as President Urandu stepped away from the podium, only to be replaced by Prime Minister Blake. "Would you hit me if I said the Ghost of Christmas Past?"
"Screw you." She didn't need this. Lois turned on her heel, determined to get as far away from this woman and this place as possible. Coming had been a mistake.
"Lois, stop." The hand on her arm was strong, bruises would probably rise on her forearm the next day. Caught off guard, the reporter swung around quickly, nearly losing her balance.
"Look, I'm sorry. This is just a hard..." Dr. Sullivan dropped her arm. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. This is your place, and your time. He was your fiancée, and this isn't any of my business."
Light exploded behind Lois's eyes and it was only a quick hand on Dr. Sullivan's shoulder that stopped her from hitting the concrete. "What did you say?"
Dr. Sullivan dropped her gaze and shook her head. "I'm sorry I came."
"NO!" Lois's voice surprised both of them. "What did you say?"
The blonde woman stared at her, face impassive, her eyes still hidden. For what felt like a solid minute they stayed frozen.
Slowly, Dr. Sullivan reached up and removed her sunglasses, tucking them into her breast pocket. Bloodshot green eyes stared out at Lois, but whether it was from lack of sleep, or tears, she wasn't sure. "I said, he was your fiancée and that this is none of my business."
"How do you know about my fiancée?" Lois paused, body still shaking. "He's missing. Buried somewhere."
Dr. Sullivan smiled again; it was a twisted little thing, her lips compressed into a white line, and then turned up at the very edges. Lois could tell it definitely didn't go to her eyes. "If that's how you want to play it. I'm not saying it out loud. I respected your fiancée too much to be careless, even after he's... gone missing."
Lois's brain seemed to have calcified. This was borne out by her jaw refusing to shut and her eyes refusing to blink. "You know. How do you know?"
"Because once upon a time, he tried to save my life. It didn't exactly work, but he tried." The blonde doctor looked away. "I think he cried for me."
"If it didn't work, how are you standing here?" The Prime Minister was crying now. Openly, and looking very dignified. Lois had always wondered how he'd managed that little dichotomy.
"It's a long story, and not very interesting."
"Tell me. Let me be the judge."
"C'mon." The blonde woman took another long drag on her cigarette, stubbing it out on the side of the building before throwing it into a pothole. "Let's get some coffee, Ms. Lane. Something tells me we've played our part in this drama."
Lois blinked and stopped. She didn't know this woman from Eve. She could be lying. She could be a psycho trying to confirm an insane theory that just happened to be true.
Chloe stared back at her, eyes unabashedly open, waiting.
The brunette nodded and shifted her bag higher on her shoulder before starting up the empty street. "Let's go."
The coffee is warm and sweet in a way she's never really enjoyed. There's something cloying about the sugar left coating her tongue and throat, and hours later she knows she'll be able to taste the milk. Even if she brushes her teeth.
Clark had always tasted like a bakery because of his coffee. Three sugars, more cream than coffee, and always, always, dusted in cinnamon. She'd asked him once about it, not long after she'd figured out The Truth. He'd smiled and said that he experienced everything just a little bit more than humans, and while he appreciated the caffeine buzz, he really couldn't stand the bitterness of plain black coffee.
She'd forgotten at the counter to order something other than her usual and had ended up with a triple mocha latte with three inches of foam and about twelve types of sprinkles. Johann was nothing if not good at remembering repeat orders.
Across the small shiny wooden table, Dr. Sullivan was slumped casually back in her chair, watching the empty street outside. The woman's white lab coat stuck out surrounded by the dark paneling and photographs that lined the café's walls.
The walk from the parking garage had been strained; neither woman had spoken outside of general grunts or pointing out upcoming potholes. They'd made it to Lois's normal coffee shop in decent time. Unsurprisingly, it had been nearly empty.
"I'm shocked this place is even open." The older woman's voice - she looked older, although Lois couldn't really be sure - jolted Lois. A few drops of clotted cream dribbled onto their scarred wooden table. "What with everyone downtown."
Lois gave the other woman a tight smile. "Mr. Kern opened this place back when my father was in his residency. His parents came over from Germany when he was ten, and he has very strict ideas on work ethics and doing what one should and shouldn't do. He's only closed his doors twice. The day his wife died, and the day of her funeral."
"Human interest piece?"
Lois's hands tightened on her too-sweet drink. "Clark did it last year after Mr. Kern hadn't been in for a few days. He asked his son about it. Turned out Mr. Kern had broken his leg and had been in the hospital. The article's framed over there behind the counter. Look, Dr. Sullivan-"
"Chloe." The blonde turned and stared directly at her. Her were red and puffy. "Please, call me Chloe. It's strange to hear you call me anything else."
Chloe turned and looked back at the street. "You were my cousin once."
Lois blinked and began to reconsider her psycho theory.
"You want to know what I know, right? I know that you're mourning your fiancée today. That he did a lot of good for this city and this... world." The older woman paused. Lois caught the slight hesitation, but said nothing. Her quickly tilting around again. One day she was going to get used to that.
"What do you mean I was your cousin once? I don't have any cousins."
"Not in this world, no. But you know just as well as I do that there is more to this universe than this world. My mother's name was Gina." Lois blinked in recognition. Chloe just smiled and took a sip of coffee.
"You could know who my aunt is by looking me up in the public record."
"She hates strawberries and kittens, won't wear anything but Dolce and Gabbana, and has a secret passion for quilting."
"Wait, I thought the whole alternate universe thing got sorted out a few years ago. Clark told me it got sorted out." Lois rubbed her fingers against her temples, and tried counting to ten.
"I have no idea about that. All I do know is that he probably wouldn't even remember me if I walked up to him on the street and smacked him with a lead pipe. Not that it would do much damage."
That would have been funny on another day.
"You... you knew another him then, didn't you?"
Chloe shrugged and sipped her coffee. "Went to high school with him. Friends for five years. Strangely, I was the one who desperately wanted to be a journalist on the Planet. Clark just kinda got dragged along for the ride on all the weird shit."
Well, that sounded frighteningly familiar. "Lots of rescues?"
"Loads." Chloe chuckled. It was a sad sort of sound, but it was something. Although, when that had vaguely started to matter, Lois had no idea. "More than I probably want to admit to."
Lois sighed deeply and leaned back to stare at the ceiling. "Know what you mean."
"Yeah, you do." It wasn't a question. "This is a very strange day."
"You're not wrong there," Lois snorted. Then she paused. Quietly, not entirely sure how to broach the subject, she reached over and touched the other woman's hand. "You two were more than friends, weren't you?"
Chloe's features shut down, telling Lois everything she needed to know. The ensuing silence stretched out almost loudly before Chloe shrugged stiffly.
"No. We weren't. Not really." Her voice and manners were monotone, her fingers twisting the handle of her now-empty mug. Just as quickly as it had come, the blankness left. "It was complicated."
Chloe smiled a twisted little smile. Her eyes - that did look suspiciously like Lois's aunt Gina's - showing empathy. Maybe pity. "It doesn't really matter, does it? My relationship or non-relationship, as the case may be, doesn't matter at all. I came to say goodbye, again. I've done it."
"You said goodbye before?"
"Not exactly." The blonde woman reached down and picked up her bag before getting to her feet. "Goodbye, Lois. We won't meet again."
"Wait!" Lois reached out and grabbed Chloe's arm. "Where are you going? Why did you even start talking to me?"
"I'm going to the med station. There are lots of people who are hurting. And you know why I came up to you in that parking garage?" The older woman pulled her sunglasses out of her breast pocket and put them on, game face clearly back. "You're not the only person who ever loved Clark. You're just the first one he ever really loved back."
Chloe gently detached Lois's hand and walked across the empty coffee shop. She stopped at the door, turning so Lois could make out her profile. "Chloe isn't my name any more, Lois. You know that."
And then she was gone. Nothing left of her but the tinny chime of the little brass bell above the door.
Lois didn't move for a very long time.