All That You Are

It's unexpected. Almost more than the news itself is the way it slams the breath from her body. Out of everything she has lost over the years, the blow of this tragedy strikes surprisingly hard.

The still fresh memory of a stilted confession from a man she had once envisioned a future with, a sordid tale of monsters and betrayal falling from his lips, brings with it the sharp sting of resentment. She had kept him safe, watching over him at his most vulnerable, holding his hand day in and day out as his body slowly pieced itself back together again. Through the painful winces and agonized cries as the doctors prodded him, listening to his many stories and sharing her own in the hope of easing his burdens, she had been there. Never once failing in her self appointed job.

The truth that she hasn't dared touch tears through her grief, and settles on her mind, leaving an imprint she doesn't think will ever go away. Bitterness creeps up and for once, she doesn't try to stop it, closes her eyes as it washes over her. This time she allows the bile to creep up her throat as angry whispers swirl across her consciousness.

She may not have failed him, but the one person that truly mattered to him did. And for that, forgiveness will always find itself to be just out of reach.

She's tired, and her eyes hurt from the tears she refuses to let fall, but even with all of that she can't supress a ragged laugh from bubbling up, overpowering the sobs that fight for dominance, until they fade into nothing but desperate gasps for air.

This is not the world she left behind, nor the one she dreamed of returning to. Lost in a surreal wave of the dizzying unknown, her heart had longed for home, holding a hope that she would find it once again. Returning to her family had been her only quest and as fear would corner her, images of the familiar would flutter through her mind, keeping sanity at close reach.

Somehow, without conscious thought, his face had easily drifted in with all the others she dared to call hers. Always there as a reminder all would be well.

It wasn't suppose to happen this way. Soft words from a time she can't quite place sound in her mind, speaking in his gentle voice of a future that's more than this, a vision of the great team they would one day be. Now, only a painful reminder that their partnership will never see those days of glory.

Her throat burns from all the things she can't bring herself to say, and the ache in her chest becomes stronger at the realization of all he'll never know. The feelings she never thought to reveal, and now wishes she had, choke her with the sudden understanding of how much they would have meant- still mean.

There are so many things Lois wants to tell him; how she appreciated that no matter what she said or did, he was always on her side. There's shame with the knowledge that she can't claim the same. As news of his broken dream spread like wildfire, her first reaction was to hug him, not the cousin she used to know so well, but the strange boyish man that had found a spot in her life, and hold on until his pain went away. Instead, her strict code of loyalty dictated that she go to the opposite side of the line, and stand by the woman that had crushed his heart.

She wants to say how grateful she is to have a friend like him; one that would put up with her many moods, and instead of turning on her would settle for anything that would bring a brief smile to her face. It wasn't his responsibility, but somewhere along the line, they found themselves unloaded on each other by simple default, excluded from the inner circle the rest of their world seemed to inhabit.

Maybe they should have resented it, and in their own separate ways did, but knowing they weren't alone eased the burn of unworthiness. Left as afterthoughts by those they loved most, a sense of solidarity had grown and with it came the oddest dynamic she had ever known.

The rest of the world will never know all it entailed, the many complexities that ran through their seemingly simple relationship. Their friends will only remember the obvious link as cousins-in-law, how they discovered a way to navigate through the same space with nothing in common but their love for a perky blonde, and the way Lois never really accepted him as the man for her baby cousin. The Planet will only think to point out the irritation that simmered between them, often times resembling siblings as they went through their day.

Lois though, knows she'll remember so much more than those things; the moments of understanding, where casual friends became confidants. And how he always managed to see what the rest of the world overlooked. That even as her cousin and those she called friends went about their lives and left her to her sorrows, he took it in upon himself to attempt to glue her broken heart back together.

She'll remember the way they shared the same thirst for greatness, the ability to sniff out a good lead to a brilliant story. How seamlessly she found a true partner in him, their willingness to chase an adventure always leading to trouble. And the always present protective streak that colored their many adventures, the uncharacteristic trust she held in him to always have her back.

In a world where few things are reliable, he was.

Her fingers lightly trace over the ingraved name before her, forever set in stone, as she says a final goodbye to the awkward boy she first met, and the great man he was going to become.

To all that he was, but most of all, she says goodbye to her best friend and the tears she's been fighting slip unhindered down her cheeks at the thought.

He'll never know.