Author: Krys Yuy
Summary: Clark isn't willing to risk his heart again. But when Fate gives him a glimpse into his future, the only question is – how hard will he fall?
Pairing/Characters: Clark/Lois, Chloe/?, Justice League
Warning: Spoilers up to Infamous.
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters used. This fic is purely for entertainment purposes only.
Author's Notes: Clark and Lois don't want to leave my head, so here it is. The premise of a past version of Clark and/or Lois going to the future has been done before, but I thought I'd give it my own twist. Here's hoping I can live up to the many wonderful examples that came before me. =0) I hope I don't disappoint. Please read, review, and enjoy the story!
Chapter 1: Shift
Clark carefully avoided his reflection in the mirror as he put his hands through the sleeves of his black blazer. He pulled at the collar, straightening and smoothing out the lapels. As he headed out of his room, he grabbed his watch. He walked down the stairs and into the kitchen while trying to put it on his wrist. It took several tries before he was able to do it successfully. He frowned and shook his head. Memories of the forty-eight hours he had undone kept niggling at the back of his mind.
He didn't have time for this. He had to meet Lois at the café. They would sit down and talk, like mature adults, about what nearly happened at the wedding. He couldn't deny that there was something about Lois. However, he just wasn't ready to analyze it, especially after Lana. His heart was still trying to heal, and he owed Lois at the very least, that truth.
He was about to superspeed through the backdoor when there was a gentle nudge against his leg. He looked down to find Shelby staring back pitifully.
A corner of his mouth lifted and he bent down to scratch the golden retriever behind his ears. "Hey, boy," he whispered. "What is it?"
Shelby only continued to stare up at him, and Clark knelt down on one knee so he could rub the dog's soft fur. As if guessing his master's thoughts, Shelby whined and nudged his muzzle against Clark's jacket.
"What am I doing, Shelby?" Clark asked softly. Petting the kind golden retriever always helped soothe his nerves. "Sometimes I just don't know anymore." He glanced at his watch. "I have to meet Lois now."
At the sound of Lois' name, Shelby seemed to perk up noticeably and he barked twice, tongue lolling out. Clark let a small chuckle escape at that, and gave the dog another good scratch before he stood up. He supersped around the kitchen, setting a bowl of food down in front of Shelby before darting out the door, heading towards Metropolis.
A black blur or two later, Clark slowed down in an empty street a couple blocks from the café, Lois' favorite in all of Metropolis. He walked the rest of the way, but it seemed the closer to his destination, the slower his pace became. Then he froze completely once he caught sight of her waiting at the outside tables. He stood across the street just staring at her, suddenly very glad her back was to him.
Looking at her now, he couldn't go through with it. He couldn't talk to her about what almost happened at Chloe's wedding. Not when he was still nursing a broken heart. Not after the past forty-eight hours only he remembered.
This wouldn't be just a meeting between friends chatting over cups of coffee. This would be him discussing the implications of a romantic relationship with Lois. His friend, his partner, his… his…
He couldn't finish the thought. Whatever it was he felt for Lois, he couldn't confront it now. It was new and it was terrifying and Clark felt like he was standing on the edge of something impossibly high. He didn't have the nerve to look under the surface of his friendly affection for her, or try to piece together what everyone else seemed to see.
He did know one thing. He had to protect her. Even if it was from himself.
"Lois can never know who I really am."
"Clark, is it safe to say that maybe another benefit from protecting your secret is getting to protect yourself from getting hurt?"
Clark blocked Chloe's voice out of his head and tried to focus on the facts. At this moment in time, he couldn't take the giant leap of faith Lois needed. He felt small, insignificant, and so very alone. But after discovering his secret, in her actions, in her words, he had seen the possibility of everything.
And that scared him beyond anything else.
He couldn't possibly be feeling what he was feeling. Was that how little Lana meant to him? He couldn't move on, not now, not when his heart was still sore and bleeding. Not when he had just started to tentatively accept that he and Lana were never meant to be. It seemed all they could do was end up hurting each other.
"I've been down the hero road before, and every time I've made a giant U-turn… but this, this was different."
Why? Why was she the only one whose words could affect him this way? Her words struck a chord in the very depths of his being. She had looked straight at him and laid herself bare. She seemed to do it so effortlessly, though he knew it must have killed her to admit anything to him. It was a vulnerability Lois had guarded well, but he liked these glimpses into her. Knowing the woman behind the hard-edged exterior, being privy to it made him feel… honored somehow.
Lois had the guts to lay all her cards on the table that night, betting everything, but he had been too afraid to reach out.
What made it worse was that she understood, on some level.
"Clark. I understand."
He knew in that moment she thought he didn't care about her. But he did. So much. Too much.
While still watching her form from across the street, he knew the scenario hadn't changed. The truth of the matter was he couldn't yet do the same. He couldn't risk his heart again. But she deserved to hear it straight from his mouth.
An image of her disappointed and pained eyes flashed through his head.
"It's okay. Why should I think I'm special?"
I can't, he thought, I can't see her like that again. It was selfish and it was cowardly, but her words and expressions were still fresh in his mind. He set his jaw and typed a text message in his phone.
Sorry swamped with work, can't make it.
He held his breath as her posture shifted, but aside from straightening up a bit more, she didn't move too much. Several seconds past as he just gazed at her back before his ears picked up the beep coming from her phone. He tilted his head just as his own phone had an answering beep. He brought the screen to his eye-level, pressing a button so the message would appear.
Chasing a lead, couldn't make it anyway.
She was lying. His eyes scanned the message again and again as if it would somehow change. But no, it remained the same. Lois didn't want him to think she cared. And she especially didn't want him thinking she was waiting. For him. He tore his eyes away from the screen to the picture of Lois doing just that.
Watching her, now so obviously waiting for him, twisted something in his heart. He was still hurting her. It was impossible for her to emerge unscathed. Was there no way he could save her? He swallowed the lump in his throat, steeled himself, and looked away quickly.
And he did. He kept his eyes stubbornly away from the café as he headed back down the empty street he initially came from. His right hand curled into a fist by his side.
I'm sorry, Lois. I'm not the man you need me to be.
His heart seemed to grow heavier with each step he took. He never wanted to hurt her. Lois was his friend. One of his best friends. But he hadn't the courage to take that step toward her. Why?
He didn't dare look inside himself.
Clark was so lost in his troubling thoughts that he never noticed the bright light speeding towards him until it was too late. He was wrapped in its glow before he could blink, and then all he knew was blackness.
It seemed like ages later when his conscience stirred again. The first thing he became aware of was the all-consuming warmth surrounding him. The sensation was so pleasant he initially forgot the fear and panic from the moment he was taken. He moaned when the warmth began to move away and his arms tightened – a small part of his mind recognized that he had been holding the warmth the entire time. There was a light touch to his cheek, then his forehead, and he could have sworn he heard a small chuckle. But no, that couldn't be right. He was alone.
Before he could even finish the thought, there was an impression against his mouth as if someone had brushed their lips over his. It was quick, barely even a second, but the tingles it produced lasted much longer. They shot down his spine and he became
conscious of one fact – it felt very, very real. And vaguely familiar.
Clark loosened his hold in shock. But he was stunned again, this time by another twinkle of laughter and the sensation of lips soft against his temple. Then there was a whisper – husky and low and all too capable of intensifying the feelings the short kiss had evoked.
"Keep dreaming, handsome. The world can wait a few more minutes."
Clark kept his eyes shut tight, too afraid to see, and yet wanting nothing more. He made his breathing even and low, feigning sleep as the warmth, which he now concluded was a female body – a naked female body, moved away. He was grateful for he surely would have given himself away. He could feel his cheeks burning with the added realization of his own nakedness. The sheets rustled and he felt them being tucked around him.
There was another brush of lips against the spot just behind his ear – it tickled but he managed to cover his reaction. The stranger moved away, and soon the double click of a door opening and then closing reached his ears. Running water sounded immediately after and Clark's eyes snapped open.
What was going on? Where was he? Who was that woman?
He sat up, the sheets falling to pool around his waist.
Where were his pants? Or all his clothes, for that matter?
This is not good. Not good at all. He was stuck, naked, in some stranger's apartment with no idea of how or why. Trying to firmly push the woman out of his mind, he focused on what he last remembered. A bright light encompassing him flitted through his mind. That, he supposed, was the how. There was still the matter of the why to attend to as well.
Humming filtered through his thoughts and he blinked, his eyes darting to the door. He stood quickly and held the sheet at his waist to protect his modesty as if the woman would suddenly appear in front of him. He practically dived for the dresser on the far side of the room. He flung open the first drawer but shut it twice as fast, face bright red. After a second or two, he took a deep breath and opened the drawer again slowly. He steadily avoided looking at the half of the drawer consisting of feminine garments. He grabbed at the men's underwear folded neatly in a stack, but not before spotting a lacy black bra. He closed the drawer with a gulp.
Clark supersped through the rest of the dresser, deciding it was better to just barrel through quickly and get it over with. He ended up with a pair of light blue pajama pants, a white muscle shirt, and a familiar red and gold plaid button-up shirt. He put on the clothes he had picked at random except for the plaid shirt.
He fingered the flannel material, even more flabbergasted than when he first woke. This was his shirt. He had worn it plenty enough times to recognize it, and from its current state, it looked as if it had been worn many more times since. But it wasn't only that. He had seen a few more shirts of his, most of which were now faded, and the new ones he didn't recognize were ones he could have easily picked out himself.
Still clutching the flannel in his right hand, Clark decided to check the closet to confirm his suspicion. He crossed the room and, carefully listening to make sure the woman was still in the shower, swung the two doors open. It held an array of blouses and button-up shirts as well as skirts and pants. He pushed back a red blouse to stare at the familiar '8' of his high school football jersey. Belts and ties hung on hooks attached to the back of the doors. Clark also spied a variety of both casual and formal dresses to the right of the closet. Small rows of both men and women shoes were on the floor. Boxes were also piled on the shelf above the hangers.
Clark took it all in and paid particular attention to the men's clothing. There were many articles he recognized, but also many more he didn't. However, the same explanation from before applied here as well. If someone else hadn't chosen them, he could see himself picking them out just the same. His hand gripped his plaid shirt tightly.
He lived here.
It was a crazy idea to even contemplate, but a speedy survey of the room only seemed to provide further evidence. His clothes were here. The few pictures on the wall were places from all around the world – places he had always wanted to go and explore, but never had the chance to. Though there were only scenic shots, Clark instinctively knew he had been behind the camera.
The bedroom was big, but not too big to be uncomfortable. It actually seemed rather cozy. The closet doors were next to the bathroom. The last door on the next wall over lead to a hallway as seen by his x-ray vision. The dresser was placed against the same wall, and next to it was a desk, computer and chair. The bed was placed directly opposite the dresser with the headboard up against the wall. There was a nightstand and lamp on either side. In the direction opposite the bathroom and closet was a large picture window, the view currently obscured by the dark blue curtains.
He pushed the heavy fabric back to gap in awe at the view of the Metropolis skyline. He could see the Daily Planet globe spinning buildings away and even spotted Oliver's loft. Clark didn't have to look down to know the apartment he was in had to be pretty high up. He closed the curtains in fear his curiosity would win out over his fear of heights.
Clark shook his head and looked back around the room he stood in. All the furniture was made from dark rosewood, and – his fingers traced the intricate carvings along the edge – made by him. The pattern of the carvings was an idea he kept to himself. They had come to him while he was thinking in his own personal Fortress of Solitude. He had sketched them on paper and tucked it away in a random folder, never thinking he would actually use the design.
There were touches of himself all around the room.
Clark slid his arms through the sleeves of his plaid shirt, gazing around in equal parts wonder and confusion. Then he stopped and glanced down at himself as a sweet scent drifted up to his nose. He sniffed the collar of his shirt and the scent threatened to overwhelm him. It wasn't unpleasant though, and Clark kept the shirt on. Still, he blushed at the thought of the smell originating from the mystery woman still in the bathroom.
He lived in this place with her. Whoever she was. A place he didn't recognize, but felt connected to with only a few short glimpses. The why still hadn't been answered, but Clark began to speculate that the bigger question at the moment was when.
Was he… could it be possible… was he in the future?
Clark closed his eyes and tried not to lose his nerve. He would find out exactly how, when and why he had arrived. There was a reason for everything and he refused to let anxiety and fear claim him. He would find a way back to his reality.
The haphazard bed sheets met his gaze when he opened his eyes, and he looked away, but not before he caught sight of the two nightstands again. His side was the right, Clark guessed, as the stand on the left was cluttered with an alarm clock and various writing utensils, pieces of jewelry, and scraps of paper. He'd never leave things lying around, and the nightstand on the right seemed the better fit for his personality. It was devoid of any untidiness as there was only an alarm clock, phone, and framed picture. He saw himself with a woman in his arms. However, the frame was angled in such a way that he couldn't quite make it out, especially from his position at the end of the bed. What he could see of the woman's figure struck a bell of familiarity and his heart jumped.
Clark very slowly took one step at a time towards the nightstand on the right, eyes never leaving the woman in the framed image. The closer he got, the clearer details became and his heartbeat increased.
It can't be.
It was only when his hand reached out for the wooden frame that he realized he was shaking. His fingers closed around the edge of the picture. He picked it up, about to turn it towards him –
"Oh, morning! I promise I didn't use up all the hot water." There was a brief pause, followed innocently by: "I think."
Clark froze, now able to recognize the voice when it wasn't so husky. She sounded exactly the same, but it just wasn't possible. His mind had to be playing tricks on him. He steadily ignored the voice asking why he would be imagining her of all people then. He heard shuffling behind him as she continued to talk.
"It's definitely rare when I wake up before you." He could practically hear the smile in her voice, and the tiny laugh that followed put all his nerves on alert. "Though Chloe would kill me if I was late for the dress fitting today." A clatter against the dresser. "Aren't you going to use the shower, handsome?"
He couldn't move, he couldn't breath.
The familiar nickname jolted him out of his frozen state, and he did not miss the easy affection with which it was said. There was no disdain, frustration or annoyance creeping around its edges. There was only tenderness, underlined with a bit of worry at his silence. Even as he firmly tried to cut off the feeling, his heart still warmed at her caring tone. At her lovin –
Clark abruptly turned around, only to have his heartbeat skyrocket and his cheeks flush yet again. He didn't know what he was trying to prove. Everything from his heart to his head had already recognized her. But it was as if he needed to see her for his own eyes.
The woman who stood before him, despite the fact that she was clad only in a white towel, could be none other than the current enigma of his life.
She smiled at him, bright and wide and beautiful, and he found his own lips curving up in response.