Title: What Worries Me
Genre: Future-vignette, Clois angst/drama
Disclaimer: If you think I'm making a claim of ownership by writing this, you are the one with the problem.
Summary: "…I will not cower now that the first step has been made."
A/N: This is the sequel to My Jonathan. It is essential to this vignette that you read that one first, as this one takes place immediately following. I hope you enjoy.
What Worries Me
See, what worries me is when
My Jonathan finally does come around,
I'll be looking the other way and
I'll miss him completely.
\ S /
"I object!" I shout, "He's my Jonathan, not hers!"
The words ring clearly throughout the church, fading to an eerie silence. A silence so absolute that I can only hear my own heart beating against my ribs. I stand there and close my eyes in humiliation as a hundred gazes became tangible.
But I am Lois Lane, and I will not cower now that the first step has been made. Fortunately, only one of those pairs makes any difference and it is to his I look when I lift my chin with dignity.
Our gazes immediately lock on one another's. Through my peripheral vision I can see the motionless congregation staring at me. Only the bride-to-be is moving, slowly looking between me and Clark with an inscrutable expression. However, Clark is the one I am focused on and his shock and confusion are written on his face like the Daily Planet's front-page headline.
I concentrate all my thoughts and feelings on him, pleading with him in silence for a chance. He could crush me in this moment, utterly and completely if he so chose. Nearly every person groom's side, and some even on the bride's side, are family and friends we both share. And if he turned to the priest, told him to continue the ceremony, it would destroy me in a way I can barely fathom. I would never be able to look any of these people in the eye again. Worse, I would never be able to look him in the eye again.
Finally, the shock seems to wear off and his face becomes slack and his eyes oddly blank. I continue to remain unmoving as he turns to Jimmy Olsen, his best man. A few whispered words later, and Clark is leading his fiancé to a door on one side of the altar. Jimmy in turn starts down the steps, obviously headed for me. The expression he wears on his face is one of dazed confusion, like he cannot decide what to think or feel.
I step out into the aisle to meet him, careful to avoid treading on the satiny cloth intended to guide the bride to her groom. It is odd, I think to myself, that I am so concerned about such a thing after interrupting the ceremony itself.
Jimmy and I finally reach each other. He gently takes my elbow and guides me towards the door Clark has disappeared through.
"He said to join him in five minutes," he whispers in my ear. He then leaves me near the door and returns to the altar and the guests.
It only occurs to me now, that when Clark left the altar the silence was dissipated by a veritable explosion of frenzied whispers and quiet conversations. It is not hard for me to guess the contents of the conversations as they are punctuated with furtive glances in my direction. The looks on peoples' faces seem to consist entirely of either pity or anger. Not that I can blame them. I feel pitiful and desperate, and I know I would be more than a bit angry if I were in their places.
One face in particular stands out. I try to avoid looking at her; deathly afraid of seeing reproach and disappointment I know I would be unable to handle. However, I can't help myself. I do not see either of those things. Nor do I see those emotions that others are displaying. Instead I see a knowing smile ghosting her lips, and nothing but warmth, compassion, and affection in her eyes. In that moment I know that whatever may come, Martha Kent does, and always will, love me.
Somehow that simple knowledge infuses my heart with renewed strength. I glance briefly at my watch, see that the five minutes has passed, turn toward the door, and stride through it without hesitation.
He is standing with his back to me, staring out the room's only window. His arms are crossed across his chest and the air fairly vibrates with his tension. Or is that me trembling? I can't tell.
I softly close the door behind me, walking toward him unsure of how to proceed. Should I speak first? Should I wait for him? What the hell do I say now? I have finally gotten myself into a mess where I do not even know which direction to bull my way towards.
"What's going on, Lois," he asks with deceptive calm, finally facing me. "I understood the 'I object' part, but what was the meaning of the rest?"
"I…it…means, meant! Um…that I…" I stare into his eyes, desperate to communicate but unable to find the words.
"It better mean something, Lois," he says, anger beginning to creep onto his face. "Sarah left here in tears because she thinks the fact that I'm willing to hear you out means I've already made my decision. So this better be damned important!"
"It means I'm in love with you!" I blurt out, then promptly slap both hands over my mouth in embarrassment. Which is kind of funny considering I already embarrassed myself in a spectacular public fashion not ten minutes ago.
He stares at me for a long moment with his mouth hanging open. All of a sudden, he lets loose a bitter-sounding burst of laughter. I can only gape at him in disbelief at his unexpected reaction.
Finally, he speaks while still shaking his head. "I don't believe you."
"What? What do you mean?" I respond indignantly.
"I mean it both ways!" he nearly shouts before he starts to pace angrily. "I can't believe your timing. Why now, at the last possible second? Why not last night? Why not after I announced my engagement? Why not when I started seeing Sarah?"
I start to answer, to explain how blind, and foolish, and silly, and stupid, and oblivious I have been. But as I open my mouth, he cuts me off with a wave of his hand.
"Ah, ah! I also literally do…not…believe…you, when you say you're in love with me. How could you be? You've made it plenty clear you're in love with Superman over the past couple of years, you've been out on dates with other men, then compared them to Superman, and finally, never even gave me a chance. Then WHAM! You wait to the last possible second of my wedding to change your mind?! That makes no sense!"
I know all of this, I know how unfair I've been to him. But he knows me, can't he see past all of that? Can't he look into my eyes and see how much I love him, despite my foolish actions?
"I'm sorry, Clark, I'm sorry for all of that, but why the hell would I lie about this?"
"I don't know, Lois!" he cries, "I don't know what goes on in your head. Sometimes I think I know you better than I know myself, but then I realize I still don't understand you. Unless…" he trails off as he begins to look at me with a growing expression of understanding and anger.
"You figured out I'm Superman and decided no one else is good enough for him except the great Lois Lane."
His expression is turning thunderous, and so it takes me a long moment to realize what he's just revealed. Shock, disbelief, anger, self-loathing, excitement, understanding, and more race through me faster than I can possibly process. I can't even think, much less form a coherent reply as he looks at me expectantly and with more than a touch of resentment.
He's Superman? How is that possible? How did I not see it? It's all right in front of me. Their physical resemblance, Clark only wears glasses! They have the same values, the same manners. Clark's seeming flakiness is a cover for his 'other' job. Oh god. Take away their suits, their overt mannerisms, look beyond the surface and they're the same man. How could I be so blind?
I always told myself that it was the kind of man that Superman was, not his powers, that attracted me to him. If that were true, though, I should have been attracted to Clark too. But I was! I fell in love with Clark, the normal man, and I didn't know he was Superman. Now I've got to convince Clark of that.
What the hell do I say to him? If I deny his accusation, he'll probably think I'm lying. But admitting to it is unthinkable. I collapse into a nearby chair, and in the end all I can manage is a dumbfounded stutter.
It takes him a moment, before he stands up straight, and tries to arrange his face into a neutral expression. However, his skin has gone white and I think I see a tinge of fear in his eyes.
Suddenly, I explode out of my seat and get in his face as my anger and hurt boil to the surface overwhelming all the other emotions raging through me.
"Why didn't you trust me with this? I would never have told anyone, how could you think that of me? Damnit, I thought we were partners and friends and here I find out you've been lying to me since the day we met!"
Anger again overtook his features and he grabs me by arms, giving me a hard enough shake to make my teeth click. "No, Lois! You don't get to be all high and mighty about this. You who trusts no one, lets no one in her shell; you who routinely deceives me in order to pursue dangerous stories on your own."
I sag in his arms, lowering my head in shame. He's right and I can't deny it without lying to myself and him even more.
"I'm sorry, Clark," I whisper wretchedly. "I didn't know you were Superman, I fell in love with Clark Kent, ex-plaid-wearing farm boy and reporter for the Daily Planet. Please believe me."
He pulls me into a hug, tucking my head under his chin. "I don't know how Lois. I tried so hard for so long to get you to notice me. But all you saw was Superman. Deep down we're the same, no matter how much I try to hide it with spandex and glasses. I hate to think of you as shallow, Lois, but you were only attracted to the fakest part of me for so long."
"I know, you're right. I was a silly, blind, foolish little girl. Please forgive me."
His gentle chuckle rumbles under my cheek. "Of course, Lois, I forgive you. But I've never seen you as a little girl."
I pull back a little to grin sheepishly up into his eyes. It doesn't take long for me to realize there are tear tracks down my face, and I can taste their saltiness on my lips. Another step back removes me from the warmth of his arms as I try to wipe my tears away with the sleeves of my dress.
A moment later I feel his finger under my chin raising my face towards his. He gently wipes my face clean with his handkerchief.
"I'm sorry for not telling you. It was never about whether I trust you; it's because it's a dangerous and burdensome secret."
"I still wish you had told me," I answer softly.
"I've never told anyone by choice except Sarah."
Nodding jerkily in response, I take another step back. I understand what he doesn't say. If I had given him a chance, he would have confided in me instead.
"Where do we go from here, Clark?" I ask tentatively. I know it's up to him now. Whatever choice he makes I'll have to live with. No matter how much it may break my heart.
He turns then, and heads back towards the window. "I don't really know. I love Sarah, I was ready to commit the rest of my life to her. My feelings for you were in a nice little box, which wasn't hard since they were actively discouraged." He turns to look at me over his shoulder with sad eyes. "But now…I don't know. I have a lot to think about I suppose."
He's turned back to look out the window again. As the silence stretches, I can do little more than marvel at the strength and beauty of his profile. In so many ways, it shows the kind of man he is inside, as well as out.
Finally, he speaks again. "I'll have to postpone the wedding at the least. And Lois…" he once again turns towards me. From the serious expression on his face, I suspect I won't like the next part. "We need to not see each other for a while for Sarah's sake. I need the space to settle or work things out with her if necessary."
"Ok," I nod, "that's fair. I'll ask Perry for an out-of-town assignment or something." I'm willing to make an effort here and give him what he wants. I owe it to him, and there's hope for us.
There's hope because in order to postpone the wedding, he must believe there's at least a chance he might love me enough. I'm willing to wait and see, pray, and hope.
\ S /
The first time he asked me out on a date I'm now ashamed to admit I pretty much laughed in his face. The hot fudge and halibut analogy that I had first made so many years ago had immediately sprung to mind. He simply was not my type. I've always been attracted to the strong, confident sort. The ones that know where they've been, know where they're going, and how they're going to get there. But he was still the same naïve, hero complex, brooding, plaid-loving farm boy I recalled so well from my memorable days in Smallville. Of course, now you could add tweed-wearing, mild-mannered reporter to the mix.
But now…now as I watch him pledge his life to me, do I begin to understand. He's all of that, and more. I love those things about him. I love him.
\ S /