AN: Well here it is. This is probably the most requested scene I get for my AU. It's the big reveal. I very nearly called it "Just Another Clark Tells Lois He is Superman Fic" or even "When the $#! Hit the Fan" or even "The End of the World as We Know It" but I settled on "Going Under" while listening to my New Moon playlist the other day. There were certain phrases in the song that just spoke to how Lois feels when she's standing on that rooftop.
Lots of thanks to everyone who has ever requested or badgered me about writing this story. It's the one thing I've avoided writing since so many people have written reveal scenes before me. I hope you can find some difference in this one given that there is over twenty years history here. If not – oh well. I tried. And many thanks to the beta readers. To htbthomas for the ending and to Hellish for all the side comments that always make my day!
For those of you keeping track, this fic starts about a week after Jason's wedding. It will fall in between Age 22 part one and Age 22 part two of Being Jason White. If you haven't read that fic, all you need to know is that Jason is 22, he's just gotten married, and for all these years Lois has never been told the truth about Clark Kent.
Don't want your hand this time - I'll save myself.
Maybe I'll wake up for once
Not tormented daily defeated by you
Just when I thought I'd reached the bottom
Blurring and stirring - the truth and the lies.
So I don't know what's real and what's not
Always confusing the thoughts in my head
So I can't trust myself anymore
I won't be broken again
I've got to breathe I can't keep going under
I was typing away at my computer when he came up behind me, clumsy and awkward as always. I felt him standing there long before I heard him say my name in that squeaky voice of his. I held up a finger briefly to silence him and stop him from distracting me from the current train of thought speeding from my brain and out my fingertips to my keyboard. He, of all people, should know better than to interrupt a writer when the getting is good.
After a moment he repeated my name.
"Not now, Clark," I said, still focused on my work.
"I know you're busy, I just need to talk to you for a minute."
"Can't. I have to get this out before the evening edition goes to print."
"Well, how about later?"
Later? Did he mean… after work? "Later I'm going home," I said pointedly.
I heard his audible sigh, but still didn't look at him.
"Okay," he said. "It can wait until tomorrow, I suppose."
He walked away and only once I was sure that he had returned to his desk and was back to his own work did I risk looking over at him. His shoulders were slumped and the expression on his face was a sad one. Something was wrong with my friend and I had a terrible suspicion that I knew what it was.
He'd been acting strange ever since we'd danced together at Jason's wedding. It wasn't the first time I'd ever caught Clark looking at me that way, but it was the first time that he looked at me that way while I looked back at him. It was a look that I had hoped I had imagined in the past, but that I knew now was very real. It was a look that told me Clark Kent had feelings for me – deeper than friendship feelings – romantic feelings. I'd seen that look a few times over the years, but I'd always brushed it off and ignored it as only I could. I couldn't ignore it anymore though, not after that dance. Not after the way his breath hitched and his voice dropped when he said my name. And especially not after he specifically said that he had something he wanted to talk to me about.
I would avoid this for as long as I could. He was my friend, plain and simple. I'd never felt that way about him. Well, perhaps once upon a time. We had gone out on a date once a long time ago. And he had always been so sweet to me. Yet I'd never felt that deep stirring in my heart over Clark. I'd never felt like a giddy schoolgirl around him, like I did around…anyways, Clark was just a friend – a very good friend, but a friend nonetheless. And as a friend, I wasn't about to let him make a fool of himself and tell me something that I didn't want to hear.
Besides, I was married. Why would he want to tell me he had feelings for me when he knew I was married and completely off the market? It wasn't as if I was going to up and leave Richard for Clark Kent.
I would just have to avoid him and save him from himself.
I spent the morning doing phone interviews about the upcoming election. When my stomach growled at me and demanded food, I decided I should give into my craving and go grab a bite to eat. I checked my messages to find I'd missed a call from Jason.
"Hi, Mom. It's me. I just wanted to let you know that we're back in town and that we had a great time. Kate says to thank you again for the place settings, frivolous as you may think they are. She wants to have you and dad over soon so she can use the china."
I rolled my eyes and chuckled.
"Anyway," he continued, "I was really calling to see… how you were doing. I wondered if you had… you know… talked with… Clark lately." He paused awkwardly. "If you haven't, no biggie. Just call me when you do."
How odd. Jason wanted me to talk to Clark. Why? I wondered if Jason saw us at the wedding and if it had made him as uncomfortable as it had made me. Maybe Jason had spoken to Clark about it. I wasn't sure, nor was I in any rush to find out.
To my unfortunate luck, Clark caught me standing at the elevator as I was heading out the door for lunch… alone.
"Are you doing anything for lunch, Lois?"
Thank the Lord above that Richard chose that moment to call.
"Yes, Richard and I have a date," I lied, but Clark didn't need to know that. I flipped open my phone and stepped to the side to talk to Richard in a quiet voice. "Play along with me, okay?" Richard sounded confused, but he agreed. "Where did you want to meet? But that's all the way across town. Okay, it will take me a while to get there. See you soon. I love you."
I smiled at Clark as I closed my phone. He didn't smile back, which was unlike him.
As the elevator door closed I saw Clark slump against the wall. I felt badly for him, but I wasn't about to let him hurt our friendship by trying to act on something that just would cause him pain. I'd have to ask Jason about it sometime – see what he knew. But for the time being, I had too many other things to worry about.
I flipped open my phone and called Richard back.
"What was that all about?" he asked, confused.
"Don't worry about it. So, what did you need?"
He came over to my desk about a dozen times throughout the day. Every time his face looked hopeful and every time I brushed him off with any lame excuse I could think of. I was in the middle of a story – I had to go talk to Perry – I had to use the restroom. I was running out of excuses fast and was about to just take the day off and go home when I heard someone say that Clark had gone home ill. A quick glance over at his desk confirmed that he wasn't there.
A voice from the other room alerted everyone in the bullpen to look at the TV. There had been an earthquake in California and Superman was busy making the necessary rescues. It had only happened a moment ago, and yet he had managed to get there right away.
You'd think after all these years that I wouldn't be so impressed, and yet there I was, smiling with pride and feeling again like a giddy schoolgirl at the very sight of him.
I hadn't seen him in a while – not face-to-face. We hadn't talked in a few weeks. Jason told me he'd been at the wedding and that they had talked for a moment, but I hadn't seen him. Jason said that he would probably talk to me in a few days, and yet he had never shown up. It upset me because I felt we should have at least seen each other the day our son got married. I wondered why he was avoiding me. It was just my luck that the man I wanted to talk to was keeping his distance while the man I didn't want to talk to wouldn't leave me alone.
"Lois!" Perry called from his office, signaling to the TV and reminding me of the real news of the day.
"I'm on it, Chief." If I was lucky, I might be able to get Superman to talk about the events of the day.
Clark was waiting for me at my desk when I arrived that morning. Before I could stop myself, I groaned in agony. It was obvious that Clark heard me.
"Lois, I know you've been busy, but we have to talk."
"Clark," I started in, dropping my bag onto my desk and rummaging around in it right away as a distraction. "I have so much stuff to do, I really don't have any time."
"I'm sure it is, but I just can't. Perry's got me working the earthquake and I have a few interviews lined up with some of the main players."
"Like Superman?" he said.
I froze at the way he said the name. I didn't like it. "Yes. Why?"
He wet his lips and shook his head. "Never mind, just… if you get a minute… please, will you remember that I need to talk to you?"
Though I kept busy so that I didn't get a minute , I felt his eyes on me all day long. He watched me right up until I left that night.
"Lois?" he asked when I started for the elevator.
"Sorry, Clark. Richard is going out of town tomorrow and we're having a special night tonight."
He pursed his lips. "Okay. But we have to talk tomorrow."
"Sure, Clark." It was getting too frustrating to keep lying to him, but he wasn't giving me much of a choice.
Meet me on the roof at 8:00 tonight.
I found the note on my desk after I'd spent the morning literally hiding from Clark. I'd made sure I'd kept busy talking with other reporters, staying on the phone, or doing the most cowardly thing of all – using the computer in Richard's office with the door locked. So when I saw the note, I was startled. How had he managed to get the note to my desk without being seen? Had someone delivered it?
"Jimmy, did you see anyone drop something off at my desk?"
The photographer shrugged. "Nope. Clark's been hanging around looking for you though. Maybe he saw someone."
Clark. He was the last person I was going to talk to. I looked around for him though and was pleased that I didn't find him anywhere. It was my hope that he had gone home for the weekend.
I fidgeted around with my computer and various other things in the office until eight o'clock rolled around. I even had to make up an excuse as to why I was staying so late. Since I hadn't seen Superman in so long, I was anxious to talk to him. Oh, let's just be honest, I was always anxious to talk to him. And if he wanted to meet up on the roof, then I supposed that it was something personal that he wanted to talk about. He wouldn't use the roof for anything else. Meeting on the roof was our kind of personal intimacy, what little of it we were able to share.
I acted as casual as I could as I strolled to the elevator and rode it up to our designated meeting place. He was already there, waiting for me. I could see his familiar silhouette even in the dark. No one stood like he did. No one on earth had his frame or his shape.
"Hi," I said in a small voice. "I didn't expect you to be up here already. I'm sorry if I kept you waiting."
He didn't answer or turn around. I took a few steps closer to him.
"I'm glad you wanted to talk. I've wanted to talk. I thought I'd see you at Jason's wedding, but I was happy to hear that you at least talked to Jason. He's back from his honeymoon, you know." I sighed. "It's hard to believe that our son is actually married now."
"Our son," he said in that oh-so-familiar voice. And then he turned around.
I gasped out loud and jumped back in total surprise. "Clark!" I began to panic. "Oh my gosh!" I covered my mouth in fear. What had I said? What had he heard? Did he understand what I was talking about? I hoped he didn't. "I'm sorry. I didn't know you were up here. I thought you were someone else."
It was so stupid of me to mistake Clark for Superman. But the way he looked in the dark… and that voice…
"Who?" Clark said in that same unnerving voice.
"What?" I asked.
"Who did you think I was?"
I licked my lips, suddenly feeling a bit uneasy at the tone of his voice, so different from what I was used to. "No one," I said. "It was silly."
"Superman?" he asked, taking a step closer to me.
I avoided his gaze. The knot in my stomach twisted. "Yes, actually. I got a note from him."
"The note was from me," Clark said.
I looked up at him then. "What?"
He frowned and when he spoke again the squeaky stutter that I'd always found so laughable was completely gone. All that I could hear was that deep, rich voice that didn't belong to Clark Kent.
"I've been trying to talk to you all week, Lois. Over and over again I've asked for a minute, but you've always brushed me away. I realized last night that you would never agree to talk to me – to Clark." He took a deep breath. "But you would talk to Superman."
Something didn't quite fit though, and I had to ask. "How did you even know? About the note, I mean."
"I told you. I wrote it."
"No, not that. This wasn't the first time I've gotten a note from 'a friend.' How did you know that Superman referred to himself as 'a friend' in the past?"
"Because I wrote the note," he repeated.
Was he stupid? "No, Clark, not this note. The note I got years ago. The first note he ever wrote to me."
Clark took another step and brought himself just a few feet from me. Close enough that I could reach out and touch him if I wanted to. "I told you, Lois. I wrote the note," he said slowly.
He was confusing me. "This note or the one back then?"
Now I was really lost. "I don't underst—"
But I didn't finish my sentence. I couldn't. I couldn't talk. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. I could only watch as Clark removed his glasses and slipped them into the pocket of his suit jacket.
The unnaturally blue eyes that met mine did not belong to Clark Kent. The majestic and handsome face that looked back at me was not Clark Kent's. And when he undid the top few buttons on his white shirt, the unmistakable blue suit that was visible underneath certainly didn't belong on Clark Kent's body.
"Is this a joke?"
His brow furrowed. "A joke? No."
"Because you can't be serious," I said with a laugh. "This is – this is completely outrageous."
"I assure you, Lois, I'm not joking."
I was still laughing. "You expect me to believe that you're Superman?"
When he didn't answer, I stopped laughing.
"Ask me something that only he would know," he said as a way of offering proof.
Unfortunately, I lost my voice about the same time I lost my sense of humor, so I couldn't ask him a personal question. I could only gape at him in confusion. He seemed to realize this and began offering up his own private information.
"The first time you interviewed me, we were at your apartment. I arrived late. You offered me champagne, but I turned you down."
"Anyone could know that," I said skeptically, finding my voice briefly.
"I sat in the chair closest to your apartment while you sat with your back to the city. You wore a flimsy, pale blue dress with your hair styled up off your neck. The first time you spelled Krypton you spelled it with a C-R-I. And when we flew together, your fingers slipped away from mine at one point and you fell. I had to catch you." He looked away for a moment. "I always wondered why you left that moment out of your article."
My throat had gone very dry. No one knew that I had fallen during that first flight. No one but Superman.
His face was very serious now. "When you came to the hospital to see me after I launched New Krypton into space and fell to earth, you whispered in my ear that Jason was my son. I came to the house that night to see him… and you. You were out on the lawn, attempting to light a cigarette, and we couldn't talk because Jason was awake."
"Stop," I whispered.
"When we did get a chance to talk, I tried to explain as much as I could to you. I held you and I kissed your hair."
"Just stop," I said a little more forcefully.
"We agreed not to tell Jason right away because you needed to talk to Richard first and explain that we—"
"STOP IT!" I shouted. "Just stop it!" I looked at him, my heart racing and my mind all a blur. He had a worried and concerned expression on his face.
His face. I stared at him, trying to see what he wanted me to believe – that the man who I trusted without reserve--the man who I had fallen in love with and had a child with was the same man I went to work with. I saw Clark in that worried expression and in the dropped shoulders, but those blue eyes and that tall frame could only belong to Superman. Two men… who were really one and the same.
One man, not two.
Whatever control I felt began to crumble.
"What kind of a sick and twisted game are you playing here?" I lashed out at him.
"It's not a game, Lois."
"Oh, it's not? Because from where I'm standing it sure seems like you have been playing me for the last twenty years!" I roared at him as the anger inside me boiled to the surface like hot water. "This is – this is—" I searched my brain and came up short for any sort of description for what this meant. "I have no words to describe what you have done to me!"
He took a step forward, "If you'll let me explain—"
"Explain what?" I snapped, stepping backwards. "Why you've been lying to me in the most calculating and deceptive way imaginable for more than twenty years?"
"You knew once," he blurted out quickly. "You knew everything and it was all too much for you at the time."
My eyes went wide. "I knew? I knew that you were…" I couldn't say it out loud yet because a part of me was still having difficultly believing it.
"You knew everything," he said, his voice shaking in a way I wasn't familiar with. "There were no secrets, Lois. I didn't keep anything from you."
I suddenly realized what he meant. "The missing days…" Slowly the pieces began to fall into place in my mind. "This is why I don't remember those days. I knew everything and you didn't want me to know anything!"
"No. No, I did want you to know. I told you all those years ago, Lois, that I was ready to share my life with you. I gave up my powers so that I could be with you as just Clark. But Clark couldn't stop Zod from taking over. I had to go back. I didn't have any other choice. I couldn't be just Clark, and that meant that I couldn't be with you."
I scowled at him. "That doesn't explain why you took away my memory of it! Did you think I was going to splash it across some headline?"
"No, Lois, I trusted you implicitly."
"Then why lie to me?" I demanded.
"Because it was too much for you!" he nearly shouted back at me. "You were a wreck when we came back. You were a complete mess – crying and looking… so… hurt. I couldn't leave you like that. It was unfair to you."
"And you think taking my memory away was fair?"
The sadness on his face deepened. "As soon as it was done, you went right back to being the way you always were before you knew the truth. You were Lois Lane again, strong-willed and fearless as ever. And I went back to being Clark, that small town guy that you worked with and barely noticed."
I popped a hip and sneered. "Except that we'd slept together… and you knew it." I shook my head. "I bet you were laughing behind my back the whole time."
"I never laughed at you. I never laughed about this!" His voice had hardened. "Making you forget our time together was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do—"
I threw up my arms and turned around, not wanting to look at him anymore. But it was no use, In two steps he was in front of me again.
"I put my feelings aside to focus on yours. I wanted to do what was right for you."
"Well, don't do me any more favors," I bit out scathingly, "because your judgment calls are in serious need of reevaluation."
He stared back at me in silence for a moment.
I huffed and crossed my arms over my chest, allowing the anger to mask the hurt that was slowly blossoming in my chest. "You know, I don't understand something. If knowing the truth about you left me in such a mess, why bother to tell me now? Why tell me at all? Weren't you worried I'd react the same way?"
He swallowed. "I have been worried about your reaction, yes, but I promised Jason I would tell you after the wedding."
"You promised Jason?" My heart skipped a beat. Very slowly I asked, "Jason…knows?"
"Since I first came back."
I gaped at him. "What?"
"He saw a picture of Superman and I was standing next to it in the newsroom. He connected the dots."
I blinked. "He never said anything to me!"
"I asked him not to."
"What?" Now my anger was really fuming. "Was this before or after you knew he was your son?"
"After," he said softly. "I told him it would be our secret."
I held my rage in check as I very slowly articulated, "You looked your son in the eyes and told him to lie to me for you?"
He didn't have a response for that but to shift his eyes to the ground guiltily.
The knowledge of all this information came slamming into my brain full force. Jason knew Clark was Superman from the start, but he couldn't tell me the truth. Clark saw Jason all the time at work. Jason used to play at Clark's desk happily, usually drawing pictures of Superman. But that had all changed when Jason found out Superman was his father. Correction – Clark was his father.
The phone call earlier in the week came back to my mind. Jason wanted to know if I had spoken to Clark… because he wanted me to know the truth at long last.
"No wonder Jason hated you," I vocalized as I thought over the whole history, filling in the missing pieces to the puzzle of why Jason was always so angry at his real father.
"He knew you were his father… and you weren't telling me the truth about it." My voice shook as I spoke. "You were right in front of us the whole time, and yet you let this lie keep us apart."
"I tried to see Jason every chance I could."
"Bullshit!" I spat at him, making him jump. "You did NOT do everything you could. How many times did we talk about how difficult it was for you to see Jason – how you couldn't be with him without drawing attention and suspicion? How many times did we have to make up reasons for Superman to be there, or sneak around so that no one would see you and make a connection? Only now I realize that you had the PERFECT disguise! You could have been with him as Clark! You could have spent every moment you wanted to with your son, if only you had told the truth!"
"And how would we have explained that?" he fought back. "How would you have explained having Clark Kent over at your house every evening? Having Clark pick Jason up from school? Having me over for birthdays and holidays?"
"A friend! You could have been a friend, Clark! But no, instead you opted to stay hidden and you missed everything!"
"I missed nothing!" We were both shouting now. "I saw everything – every recital, every birthday, every holiday."
"But you weren't a part of it! Watching isn't participating! You weren't a real part of his life, and that's why he hated you!"
"I know that, Lois. I know! I made a mistake!"
"Damn right you did!" I took a step away from him. "Oh, I am so angry at you right now I could just spit venom! Lying to me is one thing, but what you did to Jason just breaks my heart. How you could stand to keep away like that – to keep up with a lie that was hurting him so much - I will never understand. I can't even believe that you did this." I felt hot tears forming behind my eyes, threatening to spill over at any moment. "After everything we've been though, everything we've said and done…I feel like you've ripped my heart out and torn it to shreds."
His eyes shone with unshed tears of his own as he said, "I'm so sorry, Lois. I thought I was doing the right thing. I never meant to hurt you or Jason."
"Well, you did," I stated matter-of-factly, pushing back the tears. "I know that you hurt Jason because I watched him suffer year after year, only I didn't fully understand how deep that pain went. I understand it now. And I know that somehow he has managed to work things through with you – that you two have come to some kind of understanding. That's just fine with me and it speaks volumes of Jason's character that he's found a way to try to forgive you for this. But I don't know if I will ever be able to forgive you."
He shook his head. "No, Lois. Please."
"You have hurt me more deeply and more painfully than anyone has ever hurt me in my entire life. I have a thick skin, and I'm pretty tolerant of most things, but this is inexcusable. I can't talk to you anymore." With a resolute shake of my head, I turned my back on him and headed for the door.
"Please, don't leave like this. Please," he begged from behind me. I had just reached the door when he cried out, "Lois, I love you!"
"You love me?" I said, slowly turning around to face him. "You love me?"
"With all my heart, I love you," he repeated earnestly, as if I hadn't heard him the first time.
"Don't you dare tell me that you love me. You obviously have no concept of what it means to truly love someone. When you love someone, you don't lie to them for twenty years, you don't maliciously hurt them, you don't lead them to believe that you can be trusted only to prove that you are the most untrustworthy person on the planet. Maybe that's how relationships are defined on Krypton, but here on Earth love means trust and honesty and openness – none of which you have ever shone me." I fought valiantly to hold back the tears, but it was a losing battle. "So, don't tell me that you love me. In fact, don't even talk to me. I don't want to talk to you. I don't even want to see you right now. Just do me a favor and keep your distance from now on."
I turned to go, but stopped to face him once more. He looked dejected and miserable, but I really didn't care. I wanted him to hurt as much as he had hurt me. "Don't ever again assume that you know what's best for me. You have done that far too many times and I'm sick of it. You have taken me down more times than I can count. You used me, you left me, you lied to me, you lied to Jason, you took my memory away, and now this. Well, it stops here. I will not let you do this to me again, do you understand? So when I say stay away, I mean it. Stay. Away. From. Me."
I slammed the door behind me, not stopping to even acknowledge the sob I heard from behind me. I don't know how my feet managed it, but somehow I made it downstairs and out curbside where I hailed a taxi.
I rode home with the undeniable realization that everything I'd ever known had been changed. The world no longer existed in the same way that it had that morning. Everything was different now. Everything. And as much as I knew I had done what I needed to do by telling him to stay away, a part of me worried that I'd just ruined everything. For no matter what I told myself, no matter how much I tried to deny it, I knew I still loved him. It wouldn't hurt like this if I didn't love him. I wouldn't be crying right now if my heart didn't feel anything for him. He wouldn't have any power to break my heart if he didn't have some kind of hold on it. That's probably what hurt more than anything else.
As I cried into my pillow that night, I thanked God that Richard was away, because I knew I wouldn't have been able to explain to him the agony I felt. How could I explain to my husband that I still harbored deep feelings for a man who had treated me so appallingly? Especially when Richard had never been anything but supportive and understanding. I accused Clark of not knowing what love was because he lied to me and deceived me, and yet I had done the exact same thing with Richard by not telling him Jason wasn't his son. More than that – I had never been fully honest with him about my feelings for Superman. There was a word for people like me – hypocrite.
Yet as the night wore on, I came to realize that I would never have been in this predicament had Clark been honest with me from the start. It wasn't my fault that he had decided to try to make me forget that we had once loved each other and known each other's secrets. It wasn't my fault that he'd left me. It wasn't my fault that I was alone and took comfort in the arms of another man – a good man – a kind and loving man. None of it was my fault when it came right down to it. I shouldn't have had to blame myself for the decisions that he made for me.
My mind was set and my determination focused – I would never let him do this to me again. From now on, my life would be mine. I was done letting him tell me what was best. And so help me, I would never let myself fall under the power of those blue eyes again. I would avoid them – avoid him. It was the only way I could stop myself from going under again.
As dawn broke across Metropolis, I reached for the phone and dialed the number I should have dialed days ago. Maybe if I had pressed hard enough, Jason would have caved in and told me the truth himself. As it was, the ball was now in my court to contact him and let him know what had happened last night.
Maybe he already knew. Maybe Clark had called him. After all, for some reason that at this point in time I couldn't fathom, Jason had forgiven his father and been able to find some kind of happy ground. So it was possible that he knew. However, I knew that had Jason been told that I knew the truth, he would have called me immediately. No, Jason was totally unaware of what had happened last night on the roof of the Daily Planet.
He needed to know, but what would I tell him? What could I tell him? How does one start a conversation like this? Should I say that there was something wrong? No, that wasn't it. Maybe for the first time everything was right and I just couldn't accept it.
His phone rang four times before he picked it up. "Hello?" he said sleepily.
I glanced at the time and saw how early it was and felt slightly guilty. I should have known better than to call newlyweds at this hour of the morning. But what I needed to say couldn't wait. It had waited long enough.
"Hi, Jason. It's Mom."