Just a brief introduction to this story. I see this as a spin-off to my story A
Triangle with Three Sides. That said, there are a lot of differences. The main similarity is that they are both alt-world stories. Aside from that, almost anything they share in common is also something they share with the television show. (For example, in both stories, Lois and Clark work for the Daily Planet.)
Unlike, Triangle, though, this story will not feature any characters from the universe of the show (or from any other universe). Also unlike Triangle, while this story will start with Clark's arrival in Metropolis, this will not be a re-write of the show. I don't expect there will be much A-plot here at all and this universe is so different than the one we are used to that the same things won't be happening anyway. For example, if Lex Luthor plays any role in this story, it will be minor and even Superman's role will be limited (in that we'll see little of him. Clark will still moonlight in tights).
So, here's how it is a spin-off. For Triangle, I created a history for Lois that involved a high school romance with a boy named Chad (I also wrote Chad into the original universe, although obviously he's not canon, but he doesn't contradict canon either). The Lois from our universe and the Lois from Triangle's universe had very different relationships with Chad. This story explores another universe where Lois also has a high school boyfriend named Chad. Chad is very similar to the Chad in the Triangle universe, but Lois' relationship with him is different than what's been seen in either the other universes.
That said, the history is pretty similar (to a certain part) with Triangle Lois. So, the first two chapters of this story are background information on Lois and Chad's relationship and are taken from the Lois flashbacks from that story. The only change is that this story is first person (from Lois' POV), so the flashbacks are updated to reflect that.
One other change in case you've read the flashbacks in Triangle and have decided to skip the first two chapters here – this Chad does not mention going on a rock climbing trip. It's not that he never went, it's that the trip is unimportant. He didn't die during it (as with original Lois' Chad) nor was he saved by Clark (as in Triangle Lois' Chad). As such, the trip is not a particularly important part of Lois' memories of Chad.
One more thing – even if you skip the first two chapters, you may want to skip to the end of the second chapter to see where the background leaves off. It is not at the last Lois memory from Triangle.
I have a lot of buffer written for this already, so for now, am going to aim for posting a part every two days, but if I start losing my buffer, I may slow that down.
And of course, a big thank you to my betas, Carol and Beth!
Chapter 1: Prologue
I felt a little guilty. I knew I would be leaving Lucy home alone for the night, but… Chad was awfully cute. I was sixteen years old, I should be able to date, right? Even if it meant my thirteen year old sister had to stay home alone with our alcoholic mother?
With a sigh, I knocked on the door to Lucy's room. "Hi," I said softly as I opened the door.
Lucy looked up from the textbook she was studying. "Hi, Lo. What's up?" I had to smile. Lucy was such an optimist, she was always smiling, as if she was unaware of what our family life was like.
I sighed again, sitting on the edge of Lucy's bed. "Luce, I wanted to talk to you. I'm going out tonight."
"On a date?" Lucy asked, her eyes lighting up. "With who? Is it with Peter? He's so cute, the way he follows you home and stuff."
My smile widened - trust Lucy to get focused on the date and not on being home alone. "No, not Peter. I don't really like him. I think the way he follows me home is a bit creepy…"
"No, it's not," Lucy cut in. "It's romantic."
I fought a grimace. "Well, anyway, it's not with Peter, but it is a date. I'm going out with Chad. You know him, right? His little brother, Ben, was in your class last year."
Lucy nodded, trying to remember. "Yeah, I remember Ben. He was cute, I guess. If you like the nerdy type. Is Chad nerdy, too?"
"Nerdy?" I asked, thinking I was a bit nerdy.
"Does he wear glasses?"
"Yes. Does that mean he's nerdy?"
Lucy nodded vehemently in response. "So, where are you going?" she asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. "I'm not sure. He said something about a two-step lesson."
"A two-step? Isn't that some kind of dance?" Lucy asked.
"Beats me," I answered.
"I hope you don't think this is too dorky," Chad said as he held open the door for me. "My cousin lives in Tennessee and I went line dancing with him once. It was fun, so when I heard they were offering lessons here, I thought it would be fun, and more interesting than going to the movies."
"It sounds fun," I said, lying, but unable to concentrate on anything he said when he smiled as I followed the movement of his dimple up and down. He was so cute!
An hour later, I was breathing hard and grinning from ear to ear. "Are you having a good time?" Chad asked me as we took a break.
"Yes," I said, enthusiastically. "It really is fun."
"Wait until you try the Tush Push," Chad said.
"The what?" I asked, laughing.
"The Tush Push," Chad replied, grinning. "I know. Funny name, isn't it? But it is really fun. Do you want anything to drink?"
"Just some water," I said, thanking him a minute later when he handed me a bottle.
"So, I thought we could go for dinner or something after this," Chad said, looking nervous. "Unless you just want to go home or something."
"I'd love to go to dinner!" I exclaimed, and then felt myself blush as I realized how eager I sounded. I restated my words to sound less excited. "I mean… I'd like that."
Chad's smile could have lit up the room and I was once again distracted by his dimple.
"I really like you, Lois," Chad said, staring at his shoes.
"I… I like you, too," I replied, feeling myself blush even though Chad was still not looking at me. This was the end of our third date, and Chad had not looked this nervous ever before.
"Lois," he said softly, taking my hand even as he stared resolutely at the ground. He took a breath so deep it was audible before he blurted out, "Can I kiss you?"
I didn't answer at first. I had not expected that question. Chad was so different than I had expected and this was just another way that was the case. Truthfully, I had expected him to kiss me at the end of our first date, even though I wasn't really ready for it. I didn't think I had a choice, though. Wasn't it my responsibility or something?
When he hadn't kissed me, I wondered if he didn't like me as much as I was beginning to like him, but then he had asked me out again. After he asked for the third date, I was pretty sure he liked me, but I had just forgotten all about the kiss thing. Did boys normally ask?
Chad dropped my hands. "Forget I asked," he mumbled and I realized I had taken too long to answer.
"No," I said, my voice quiet. "I mean… I didn't expect you to ask," I finally blurted out.
Chad blushed even further. "I know. It's not very romantic, is it?" he asked.
I frowned. "That's not what I meant. I meant… shouldn't we just kiss if you want? Isn't that how it works?"
Chad looked at me, confused. "What do you mean 'if I want'? We need to both want to."
I could feel my eyes widen in surprise. "I need to want to, too?"
Chad shook his head, feeling very confused. "Of course. That's why I asked. I mean, I know, it isn't romantic, but I'm no good at these things. I didn't want to kiss you if you didn't want to."
"Really?" I asked.
"Wow. That's neat," I said, breaking into a smile.
"Well, good night," Chad said, turning around.
"Good night?" I asked, disappointed. "Aren't we going to kiss?"
Chad looked at me like I had two heads. "I told you, I don't wanna if you don't wanna and since you don't…"
"I never said I didn't," I interrupted him, blushing furiously.
"You mean… Do you want to?" Chad asked.
"Yes," I said softly.
Chad's lips were only on mine for a few seconds, but I thought it just might be the best few seconds of my life.
Chad held my hand tightly as we walked up the stairs to my apartment. "What's with you today?" he asked me.
I said nothing for a moment, afraid to tell him the truth. I had been by his house several times now after school. Only for an hour or so each time to study before the middle school got out and I would go to pick up Lucy. Still, while it was only a short while each time and his parents had not been home from work yet, he had had no problem inviting me over.
I knew he expected me to do the same, but it was hard. How was I to know what day would be good for my mother? How could I know what day my mother would actually go to work and not be home when we got there rather than spending the day at home drinking?
Still, I felt like I needed to invite him over. We had been on several dates now and while he had not yet asked me, I knew everyone at school considered me Chad's girlfriend. I liked being his almost-girlfriend (although not as much as I would have liked to be his girlfriend), so I needed to do this. He had no idea why this would be hard for me and I had no intention of telling him. Instead, I had decided to invite him over and hope for the best.
I held my breath as I opened the door. I breathed a tiny sigh of relief when I walked inside. It was quiet in the house. Usually, if my mother had spent the day drinking, she would be shouting at the television by now. Unless, of course, it was the type of day where she kept herself in her bedroom crying. Maybe I should check the bedroom. If Mom was in there, I could keep her from coming out by making sure she still had lots to drink.
What was I thinking? The goal was to keep alcohol away from my mother, not give it to her! I bit my lip. 'Let this be a good day,' I prayed.
"So, this is it," I told Chad nervously as I glanced around. The bedroom door was open. Mom was not home. I could feel my shoulders fall as the stress left my body.
"Is he still here?" Lucy called out a half hour later as she entered the apartment.
Chad smiled. "Lucy?" he asked.
Chad had yet to meet Lucy. I had always gone alone to pick her up from Chad's house, even though he had always offered to walk me there. I was nervous about what Lucy may let slip. Unlike me, Lucy did not seem to think it was any big deal for her friends, at least her close friends, to know about Mom. She didn't understand why I wanted to keep it a secret.
"Yes," I said, hoping that this went well. I really wanted Lucy and Chad to get along, while hoping that Lucy would not say anything about mom.
"He is here!" Lucy said, smiling as she walked in.
"Chad, this is my sister, Lucy," I made introductions, my heart pounding. 'Don't say anything about Mom, Lucy,' I tried to tell my sister telepathically.
Lucy was ignoring me, though. Chad stood to shake Lucy's hand, but she moved to give him a hug instead.
"Hi, Chad," she said.
Chad laughed as he hugged her back. "Hi, Lucy."
Lucy smiled as she swung her backpack to the floor, taking her jacket off and laying it on top of her bag before she sat down.
"So…" Lucy said, looking at Chad carefully. "You're Lois' boyfriend."
"Lucy!" I said, feeling my cheeks flame up. What if Chad thought I was telling people I was his girlfriend when he hadn't even asked me?
"Sorry, sorry," Lucy said, not looking the least bit apologetic. "You're Lois' friend. Who happens to be a boy."
"And you're her sister. Who happens to be a girl," he
"She speaks about you all the time."
"Oh, I bet not half as much as she speaks about you," Lucy smiled.
"Lucy!" I said again, feeling my cheeks flush even more.
"So, Lois said you like to play soccer?" Chad asked Lucy, reaching over to take my hand in his.
Before Lucy could answer though, the door to the apartment opened again. "Mom?" I asked, glancing worriedly at the clock. It was too early for my mother to be home from work.
"Yeah," Mom answered as she came in. "I just went out… Lucy, pick your jacket up! This place is a sty. My hard earned money doesn't pay for this house so you can trash it!"
I winced. Mom was drunk. I could see it in her eyes and the way she was standing, even if I ignored the vodka bottle in her hand. Plus, the things she was saying – I was the only one who ever cleaned around here, although sometimes Lucy helped. My mother barely did anything except for going to work often enough that I could find enough money to buy a few groceries each week.
Before I could say something, anything, to get my mother to go to her room and leave us alone, though, my mother's eyes traveled to where I sat next to Chad on the couch, my hand still in his.
"What's this?" she asked, and I almost inwardly groaned. In case her little outburst at Lucy had not made it clear, I knew what came next would do it. Mom was in one of her angry drunk moods. "Is this your little boyfriend, Lois?" Before I could respond, she continued. "When did I say you could have boys over? He needs to leave now! What did you think you were doing, you little slut?" I could feel my cheeks flame as my eyes filled with tears. Angry Drunk Mom had nothing on this woman.
"Don't think you're anything special," she said to Chad. "I find her in here with boys all the time."
"That's not true!" Lucy shouted, but then backed away when Mom glared at her.
"Don't defend her just 'cause you're hoping she'll send her rejects to you. It's not going to happen. We all know how selfish Lois can be."
"I should go," Chad said quietly.
I nodded, trying to hold in my tears. I got up and walked him to the door. "Good night, Chad," I said softly, staring at the tile in the entranceway, willing myself not to cry.
"Good night, Lois," he said just as softly.
As I closed the door after him, I knew that what we had really just said was goodbye.
"Hi," Chad said softly in my ear the next day. I stared resolutely ahead. If I turned toward him, I would start to cry, I knew I would. Was he going to break up with me here? Right here in the hallway? Right now, just before the bell for last period rang? I would have to switch lockers. Would they let me do that? I could not come back here day after day to the place where Chad had broken up with me. Of course, since he had never asked to be my boyfriend, it wasn't like he could actually break up with me, right?
"Lois," Chad said, just as softly as before, placing a hand on my shoulder. He was being so insistent. I didn't feel like I had a choice. I turned towards him, my eyes swimming with tears. "Can you come over after school?" he asked me.
I nodded. So, he was going to wait. At least I wouldn't have to change lockers.
Chad reached up to brush a tear from my cheek. I wished he wouldn't touch me. Then leaning close to me, he whispered, "Please don't cry. It makes me sad. I just want to talk. I swear."
I nodded again, afraid to talk.
"Forget it," Chad said softly, "Let's just go now."
"Now?" I finally managed to get a word past the lump in my throat.
"Yeah, I'm not going to be able to concentrate on physics anyway knowing you're upset. And I doubt you'll get much out of your English class either. So, let's go now."
"You want to cut school?" I asked, not sure why I was stuck on this.
Chad nodded, "Just for today. This is more important."
I nodded again, feeling a few more tears leak out. I supposed making sure he was no longer associated with the girl with the alcoholic mother, the girl who was Metropolis' own Lolita, would be more important than physics. I should be happy he was telling me he wanted nothing more to do with me rather than just ignoring me for the rest of the year.
I packed the books I needed into my book bag and closed my locker. Chad grabbed the bag before I could, swinging it over his left shoulder. "Come on," he said, taking my hand. I blindly followed him, staring at his hand in mine the whole way. This was likely the last time he would ever hold it.
The walk to Chad's house was quick and very quiet. Chad must have been worried about my reaction or something, as he got oddly shy once they got there. "Do you want something to drink? I got some cream soda for you if you want," he said.
"Maybe just water," I said, quickly, not wanting to have any cream soda while we had this conversation. I would never be able to drink it again otherwise. Even now I may not be able to. How did Chad remember that cream soda was my favorite? I had only had it with him once – at dinner on our first date - since so few places had it.
Chad nodded, pouring us both glasses and bringing them out to the living room. He set the glasses on coasters on the coffee table and sat down. I stood awkwardly in the doorway. What was the proper protocol on how to act when your almost boyfriend was about to break up with you?
"Lois," Chad said softly. "Please come here."
I moved over to sit near him, but kept my arms crossed over my chest. I needed to keep my distance if I was going to manage to leave here with any dignity at all. If I had any left after last night.
"Why didn't you tell me about your mother?" he asked me, his voice gentle. "If I had known… I don't understand. Why did you invite me over?"
I couldn't seem to help the tears that started to fall down my cheeks. "I didn't want… I didn't want you to know. And sometimes… sometimes she goes to work and I just sort of hoped that yesterday… I just didn't want you to know."
Chad moved closer to put his arms around me, but I kept my arms resolutely around me and so he settled for placing a hand on my arm instead.
"It's not true," I said, hating that my voice sounded petulant. "I've never had a boy over before. Ever."
"I know," he said. "I didn't believe her for an instant. Look, Lois, if you or Lucy ever need to go somewhere, even just for a night or something, you can come here."
"Thanks," I said softly. That was unexpected. Did he really think I could come here to hang out after he broke up with me?
We sat in silence for another moment, before I blurted out, "Could you just do it already? I mean, it's nice of you to at least tell me, but could you just do it?"
"Do what?" Chad asked, looking at me in confusion.
"You're going to break up with me or whatever, aren't you?" I asked, tears still dripping down my cheeks, but I had stopped paying attention to them.
Chad looked at me in alarm. "Is that what you thought? No, Lois. I don't want to break up. You're my girl."
"I'm…What?" I asked, surprised. I was his girl? Really?
"You're my girl. You knew that right?" Chad asked. "I mean I didn't come right out and ask, but I told you how bad I am at these things. But… I thought you knew. Didn't you?"
I shook my head. I was his girl. I could feel my arms relax slightly as I thought of it and Chad smiled, moving forward to brush the tears off my cheeks, before pulling me towards him to wrap me in his arms.
"Well, you are my girl. I mean, unless you don't want to be," he whispered in my ear.
"Even with my mother…?"
"You're my girl. Not her. Lois," he said, moving away slightly. "You're amazing, you know that? You're so smart. And so pretty. And well, the fact that you have to deal with your mother on top of that, well, if anyone could do it, it would be you, I guess. But still. I've never met anyone like you before."
I smiled shyly. "I've never met anyone like you before, either."
"Well, good," Chad said, smiling at me. Then he leaned forward to kiss me softly on the lips.
He backed away a moment later, though. "What did you mean, that it was nice of me to tell you? Tell you what?"
I could feel myself blush. "I thought you were going to break up with me."
"And it was nice of me to tell you what? That I was breaking up with you?" Chad asked, incredulously. At my nod, his eyes got even wider. "Why would I not tell you? I mean, what did you think I was going to do? Just ignore you?" My cheeks, betrayers, flamed red, and Chad moved to hug me again. "Why… why would you think I would do that? I would never…"
I held onto him tightly, the tears falling again. I didn't understand Chad – how he didn't care about my mother, how he felt he would have to tell me if he was going to break up with me. This was not how boys were. It wasn't how my father was at all.
"Lois," he said, pulling away. "I mean it; I would never break up with you without letting you know. I promise. I mean, who would do that?" I stared at the couch cushions in silence, and Chad asked, "You didn't date someone else who did that to you, did you? I thought I was your first boyfriend."
"You are," I said softly, afraid to tell him the truth - that it was my father who had taught me this. I knew, though, that like my mother's drinking, I'd have to tell him.
"No one, really," I admitted with a sigh, still staring at the couch. "It's just…when my dad left he didn't say goodbye to us. He just left. And he told my mom that he could leave whenever he wanted, he didn't need to give her any warning. That she needed him, but he didn't need her. I heard him."
"Well," Chad said softly, "I don't know what your dad was like, but I promise I won't do that."
"You've never broken up with a girl without telling her?" I asked, just to be sure.
Chad blushed. "Well, no, but… I mean… you're my first girlfriend, so…"
I smiled. I was his first girlfriend. I'm not sure why that made me so happy, but it did. "But you won't do that. You promise?"
"Absolutely," he whispered, before he leaned in to kiss me again.