Superman Returns doesn't belong to me. No profit is being made. Don't sue, etc.
A/N: This scene has been playing on a loop in my head for about three days now. I figure now that's I've written it down, I might be able to start studying for my exams. Anyhow, if anyone thinks it should be continued, let me know. Warning: character death.
Also, in response to an anonymous comment left for me... this is rated "T". That means that its suitable for those over 13. There is swearing, as mentioned in the summary. So pleeease don't get yourself in over your head! Sometimes... language hurts. So if the F-word makes you cry, go somewhere else!
For everyone else, I'm sorry. I would have replied to the individual, but like I said, there was no one to respond to. Happy reading!
He was there, suddenly, standing on the balcony of her apartment. She was struck again, by how absolutely gorgeous he was. She had never encountered a human who even came close to his ethereal beauty.
But his blue eyes were clouded with tears; his jaw was set as though he were holding back a storm. For the first time in his life, his hands trembled.
"Superman," she said, moving toward him. Their son slept in the bed of the small apartment; Lois had been camping on the sofa. And, though Superman had visited them nearly every night for the past year, she had never seen him like this; never seen him betray a hint of emotion. Since Richard had left her, she had cried in his arms and he had remained stoic and comforting.
"No," he said, taking a step back, to the edge of the balcony, his back against the rail. He looked as though he were about to fly away. He looked terrified.
"Superman," she said again, the name too formal in her mouth. She had never asked for a true name; she had never even come close. "What happened?"
"Please," he said, his voice quiet, with none of the deep confidence he usually resonated, "don't call me that."
She knew, suddenly, that she had waited too long. She should have asked sooner, should have seen through his complacent mask; should have demanded for the name of her son's father. He was offended; now, he was angry.
"Why?" she asked softly. She was scared for an answer.
"Because I can't be him right now," he said, slightly louder. "I need to think things that he can't think. I have to say things that Superman can't say."
She could ask him now, she realized, and suddenly she forgot his tear rimmed eyes and the trembling. This was a doorway, she told herself.
"What—" she began, but he held up a shaking hand, stopping her.
"Are—" she began again, meaning, this time to ask if he was hurt, but he interrupted her.
"I need you to listen, Lois," he said. "I've never asked something like that of you before. Can you listen?"
Without speaking, Lois nodded. She was scared now, but a small well of hope bubbled up in her. He was frustrated, as well, she told herself, with the purgatory of their relationship. He wanted to move forward, to move into their tiny apartment with them; to admit that he loved her.
He would, she was sure, tell her what she wanted to hear; that he'd wanted to take his place as Jason's father during daylight hours too; to take him to school in a car instead of taking him covertly flying at nighttime. He wanted to make them breakfast; to save Jason from a lifetime of his mom's bad cooking.
"My mother died," he said, as quietly and unexpectedly as his departure six years ago had been. His lips were tensed in a way she'd never seen before, his upper lip drawing away from the lower, curling in restraint.
"She had a heart attack," he continued. His voice rose slightly, as though hysteria were only a breath away, and he said, "She was alone, Lois. I couldn't get there in time to even say goodbye, let alone try to save her." He gripped the balcony railing and it buckled faintly under the strain.
He drew a breath that might have been a sob and turned away, looking at the skyline of the city against the rising sun. His profile against the red light was perfect.
"I thought," Lois said softly, "that it was before, on Krypton—"
"No," he said, as though determined not to let her finish a thought. "Did you think I just showed up one day, and decided to save the world?" She didn't answer, but let her eyes flutter shut as she imagined a ship, landing far north of here, opening slowly and revealing a tights-clad superhero, his primary coloured suit reflecting copiously in the glazed snow.
He let out a choked, bitter laugh. "I've been here nearly three decades, Lois. Nearly as long as you; certainly as long as I can remember."
Her breath caught halfway through a gasp. He'd never revealed this much to her before, even during their countless interviews, he'd always been evasive on the specifics. She had always assumed that he'd arrived on earth the same day that he'd saved her from the helicopter, just in time to give her a second shot at life and a glimpse of true love.
"My parents made me who I am," he said quietly. "It's not my powers or my suit that made me want to help people."
He turned back to her, and she saw that a tear had escaped, probably only seconds ago, since the glistening line it left was already disappearing on his warm skin.
"My mother… she gave me my compassion, my humanity. I was only ever human until I met you, Lois."
She reached for him, and, for the first time wondered who he truly was. She'd assumed that he rarely rested, and spent all of his time saving people. What else could such a celestial creature possibly do with his time? It wasn't as though he could have a job, just blend in with normal people: his aura practically screamed that he was more than ordinary.
But surely, she thought, that meant that he'd gone to high school, graduated from college. She'd look, as soon as she was at the Planet, through records. If he existed in real life, she'd find him.
"Stay," she said. "Just for the night." She wanted to comfort him; to sleep curled against his chest.
He flinched as though she'd punched him with a Kryptonite fist.
"I can't do this," he said, angry suddenly.
"It's been a year since Richard left me," she said, her anger flaring up as well. He'd held her far away since he'd been back; hadn't blinked when she said she was alone again; he'd never asked to take Richard's place as Jason's father. She wanted him—she wanted all of him. Jason needed him. "I'm ready to move on."
"Lois," he said, his voice stern. "This time it's not about you."
"I forgave you," she said, as though the notion were shocking, "for leaving without saying goodbye."
His jaw clenched, and, for the first time since she'd known him, he yelled. "I said goodbye, Lois. You just looked right through me."
"What are you talking about?" she yelled back. As soon as the words had left her mouth, she regretted them. She didn't want to wake Jason; she didn't want to fight with Superman, not when he was so obviously hurting.
He looked away again, and the sight of the sun crawling over the high rise buildings seemed to calm him.
"You don't even know me," he said softly. "You say these things: that you love me, but you don't know anything about me past the suit. If I was a normal guy, and wore tweed instead of spandex, you wouldn't even notice me."
"That's not true," she said passionately. She'd loved him first for his eyes, not the fact that he could fly. She'd loved him for his jaw line and his morals and the way he said her name.
"It is true," he said, sounding sad again. Looking into his eyes, drowning in blue, she wished she had the anger back.
"Lois, I see you every day, and I feel like you never even look at me."
She shook her head. She rarely saw him in person during the day; he reserved his visits to just before Jason's bedtime on most nights. "I see you. I'm looking at you right now."
"You see Superman," he corrected, as though explaining addition to a child.
"You are Superman," she said desperately.
A sad, mysterious smile moved across his face briefly. "Not tonight, remember? We made that deal."
She watched him, and felt more lost and confused than she ever had standing this close to him. Usually he brought such stability into their home, brightening Jason's face, kissing her softly on the cheek, returning the hope to her bleak, small apartment.
"I can't do this anymore," he said.
Her head snapped up and she met his eyes, imploring him, as best she could, with her eyes not to continue.
"I'll be here for Jason," he said. "I'll stop by every night."
Confusion swept through her again. "What will change?" she asked, a note of bitterness sneaking into her voice.
He shrugged. It was such an uncharacteristic move that she took a step backward, bumping softly into the balcony door.
"If you ever need me," he said, but then stopped.
"I'll call," she supplemented.
"If you really need me," he amended, "I'll be there for you. But if you ever need me…" he reached out and touched her cheek, their first actual contact that evening. "You'll know where to find me."
A thousand questions danced through her, taunting her, because the finality in his voice, the sternness, prevented her from speaking. She couldn't even begin to imagine how she'd find him. Did he have a house? She'd thought that he'd sleep in the clouds.
"My feelings for you have changed," he said, and Lois's stomach dropped.
"I still love you," he said, "but I'm confused and hurting. I know it's hard for you to believe, Lois, but I can't be invulnerable all the time. And I can't keep being second to Superman."
Lois gaped at him. For a moment, she wondered if he was having an identity crisis. Then, she wondered if maybe the grief of his mother's death had just driven him off the edge. Finally, she just said exactly what had popped into her mind first.
"You are Superman."
He grinned, and it was almost a real grin.
She went to work early the next day. She knew that Clark usually got into work an hour before she did, and she would breeze past his desk and he would hand her a large mug of coffee, always miraculously scalding hot and filled to the brim with concentrated caffeine.
Today she needed that normalcy. She needed to pull him aside and spend at least a half hour ranting at him. He'd always been a good listener, and she knew that she didn't treat him like the friend he was, but she'd always considered him her favourite person to abuse. She thought she'd tell him that today; he'd appreciate her bluntness and the rare compliment.
But Clark wasn't at his desk. It wasn't empty though; a very perplexed looking Perry was sitting in the seat, his elbows on the desk and his fingers buried in his thinning hair.
"What's up, Chief?" she asked, not bothering to cover her confusion. She'd been planning on a good day today: she was going to look through college and high school records online; she was going to scrutinize every person that was a regular in her life, and she would find Superman. If she saw him everyday, as he claimed, she wouldn't see through him today.
Somehow, though, she couldn't imagine ever looking at him and not seeing his magnificence. She couldn't imagine him walking into a room, shoulders broad and chin raised, and not creating a stir. He was beautiful, a truly striking man, and a change of clothes wouldn't make a difference in that.
"Clark handed in his resignation today," he said gruffly. "I should never have hired that boy back. He's a brilliant writer but the most unreliable person on the face of this planet."
"Why?" Lois asked. For the second time in the last twenty four hours her stomach churned and she wasn't sure if she was going to throw up this time. Superman had left her, last night; Richard had left last year. Clark, the only person left in her life that truly cared about her, was gone too.
"His mother died yesterday," Perry said. Lois's knees gave out suddenly, falling into the chair behind her. "He's gone to Smallville for the funeral. He said he needed to get the farm in order; that he's going to sell it."
"How did she die?" Lois asked, her voice cracking.
"Hell if I know," he replied. He met Lois's eyes, and she realized that there was something seriously complex going on in his mind.
"That goddamned boy," he said. "But then, you must have known, already."
"About his mom?" Lois asked.
"The poor kid was so broken up," Perry continued, as though Lois hadn't said anything. "Eyes bloodshot, as though he'd been crying, or rubbing them, and pulls his glasses off, just for a second, and goes to town on his left eye as though it's offended him and needs to be put out.
"Then," Perry said, "he straightened up, like he was trying to convince himself to be strong, and he looked me right in the eye." He pressed his hands to the side of his head and looked wide eyed at Lois, as though just really comprehending something.
"And fuck if I'd never noticed it before, but it hit me flat in the face the moment he'd closed the door."
"Chief," Lois said softly, the thought slowly aligning in her head. She saw him every day; he was the right height, the right width, and maybe, behind those glasses, the right eyes were hiding. And somehow, Clark Kent had always cared about her in almost the right way; he had always looked at her with almost the same reverence.
"Clark Kent," he said, sounding out each syllable carefully, "is Superman."
Lois stared at him.
They were silent for a long while.
"We can't tell anyone," Perry said, as though this notion had just now come to him, and he sounded as though someone had just snuffed the life out of his favourite puppy.
"This is too complicated, Perry," Lois said softly. "This is all too real."
She slumped into her chair, and they stared just past each other. Lois thought about yesterday, and how everything she'd ever wanted had been so close. Superman: her ideal untouchable one time lover, and Clark Kent, sitting next to her at work… Clark could have been her reality. He could have been a real father to her son; to their son.
She let out a desperate gasp and realized that she was crying.
"Fuck, Perry," she said through her sobs. "I've lost him."
Hesitantly, Perry took her hand. He patted it softly, but Lois felt as if someone were crushing her windpipe. Unable to draw breath, she continued her strangled sobbing.
"Fuck, Perry," she said again. "Fuck."