A Planet May Challenge - "On the Edge".

Author: Misha

Disclaimer: I wish they were mine, but really, they're not.

Category: Lois POV / One-shot / Superman Returns verse

Summary: What is Lois thinking while Superman is in the hospital, the night before she goes to visit with Jason in Superman Returns.

Author's Note: This story is actually a brainstorm of ideas between Fangirl and myself. It would have never happened without her brilliant thoughts, so half of the credit is hers! This story is intended as a companion piece to Not Human and Waiting, but you don't need to read those to understand this one.

...

On the Edge

It was the silence that scared her the most.

She hadn't seen him falling, not right away, but in the news, later… much later. Everything seemed to be much later now. She felt as if a lifetime had passed between good-bye and now.

Maybe it had.

Goddamned hero, she muttered to herself and no one else in the dark kitchen, staring at nothing, hearing nothing. The world was one empty, silent place, where she made herself hear that there was a good chance that he wouldn't be coming back again. What was she supposed to feel? Anger? Fear? Closure?

Love?

They had called her at some point between good-bye and now. The doctors who were treating him, asking her what she knew.

One single word had passed through her mind in that moment when she had been holding the phone, the single thing that could mean so much, that would make them see he couldn't possibly be that different from them:

Jason.

But they had rushed in, making her mind swirl, asking her what had he told her over the years that wasn't part of the public knowledge. Any little scrap of information would help them understand how to help him. Anything at all.

She had closed her eyes then as she was closing them now. It was all just too much. She had spent five years trying to forget every single conversation, and secret, and hope and fear he had shared with her. Every single word they had told each other, up to that day, that horrible day when Krypton had been discovered.

Then he had gotten silent.

She could remember it all so clearly now, as if five years of efforts to wipe him out had meant nothing to her heart. As if she couldn't stop clinging to the happiest moments of her life.

They had been so young then, even if they both would have denied it. He was new at being the superhero, and shied away from the press too often for his own good. She was a rising star at The Planet, and found herself in too many sticky situations for her own good. Hell, she had fallen from a freaking helicopter the day she had met him. And all he had said for himself was that he was a friend.

Funny, because they did become friends.

He was so easy to talk to, almost as if they had spent more time together than those briefs conversations they had had in the beginning. She trusted him with her life, there was no question about it, but she also trusted him with her own secrets. With those errand thoughts and childhood dreams she would rarely talk about with anyone, except maybe with Clark.

She was sure that a superhero life was full of fascinating stories, yet he always had looked so wistful at her memories. She never even thought about asking him if he ever felt alone. He seemed to know so much about Earth life and to just fit in this world –in her world- that he just couldn't possibly feel alone. Everything he needed was here, and he was always smiling, that slow smile of his that totally and completely melted her heart.

He was always cautious about his words then. But every once in a while, he would confess that certain things intrigued him. That sometimes he wished he could feel pain and hunger and cold like humans could so he would understand better. It was moments like that that reminded her that he wasn't human.

But that line between being from out there and not from around here got more and more blurry as weeks and months passed… and before they both knew what had happened, they had shared a kiss, a touch… and finally a bed.

He had taken every single step of their relationship so maddeningly slow. Even in the darkest of her thoughts in the years to come, she would always smile at that. Not only at how new he was to the relationship game, but how old fashioned he was as well. That he had a million other issues to work through because of his alien and superhero status had been enough for her to want to scream at him, but one look at those wounded, crystal blue eyes would just put her fire away. She couldn't hurt him with her words. He was too freaking lost-puppy-under-the-rain to even consider that.

So, all her fiery personality had had to cool down so he could keep pace with her, but it all had been wonderful at the same time.

Over the years after he had left, over every agonizingly long night wondering if he was dead, Lois had looked back at those days, reliving all their conversations as clearly as she could. Trying to see where she had failed him, and in retrospect she guessed she should have seen it as clear as day.

Usually, after a particular difficult day when a disaster had happened, she would make sure to stir the conversation to brighter things. To the Pulitzers that were in her future, to some fun event she and Clark had gone to. He had asked her once why it was always Pulitzers and nothing else.

What, like kids? And a white fence? Are you serious?

Unfortunately, yes, he had been serious. Why couldn't he see that that kind of life was not meant for her? And in usual Lane fashion she had laughed at him, yes, laughed at him because he was so goddamned innocent that she couldn't help herself.

Why would I want to get knocked up, struggle with a mortgage, and getting a divorce in four years? Marriage is not as rosy as it is supposed to be, you know. Besides, I'm an independent woman. Tying myself down with a family is so not in my future. That's why you and I are so perfect together.

Yes, because he was the superhero, who couldn't settle down, and she was the reporter who wouldn't settle down. He didn't have to meet her parents, he didn't have parents for her to meet. He wasn't constantly nagging at her, calling her, bringing hideous flowers to the office. He was there when she needed him –especially when she was falling from some building- and he would come to her when he needed her, like in days like this when his spirits were down.

All this and more she told him, so he would know she wasn't expecting a long term commitment that entitled her to a ring on her hand. All this she said not only because she truly believed it, but to ensure him that his freedom, his figurative wings were not going to be cut, just like hers weren't being cut by seeing him.

And when all was said during that long night of explaining to him why he was so wonderful to her, he had looked at her with a strange sadness in his eyes, though this she only recognized later, much later, and all he had told her was that marriage could be that rosy. It only has to work once, he had whispered, and then you live happily ever after.

Of course he would believe that.

They had never spoken about their future, let alone of marriage, but that was the first clue she should have gotten that he was really into it, and that she had shot all his dreams down in some unintended and twisted way. It didn't change a thing though, not on his superhero status, and the fact that settling down was just not something he could choose to do. And definitely not something she wanted him to do either.

Sitting in her kitchen now, the place she called home, with a son sleeping upstairs and a fiancé trying to get a hold of all the news pouring into The Planet, Lois laughed at herself for being an idiot.

Of course he would believe that.

For all he loved her, he never said how much she had hurt him. But she knew now, she had known since the moment she had accepted that he had left to his homeworld, somewhere where he would have the kids and the white fence and a sense of normalcy she would never even consider offering him.

"But what was I supposed to do?!" she angrily said to no one, the rage and the frustration coming out front in the face of losing him forever.

They weren't supposed to have children.

And Krypton was not supposed to still be out there.

He had wanted it, the perfect future. Probably he knew kids were not in the equation, but certainly the white fence and the happily ever after, ring included. He never told her how he pictured it, how he could balance being the hero and being the husband, but she knew in her heart that he did see that in their future.

Talk about a huge gap. The fact that she was now so close to get the picture perfect life without him in the picture made her heart ache with the sorrow and regret that only lost love could bring.

Maybe they would have compromised if Jason had never been in the picture. Or if news of Krypton had not been breaking news right the next morning.

She had gone in her mind back to that day more times than she would admit, thinking over and over what she should have said. What was he thinking that morning when they awoke to such impossible news?

He had gotten so quiet as the news cast started. Not really surprised but intrigued.

"Is it possible?" she had whispered, eyes slowly turning to see his face as his stayed on the screen. Her mind spun in too many directions though, taking the story in, imagining what if it was there. Wondering what he would do…

"You're not thinking about going to look, are you?" she had practically blurted out, trying to smile at the notion that scientists here had discovered something he had never had looked for. He was so sure Krypton was gone, he had had no reason to look for it ever again.

"No," he had barely whispered, frowning, "there's nothing left," and then he had gotten quiet, thinking to himself thoughts that were out of her reach. He really didn't believe it, her reporter instinct told her, and that relaxed her.

If only she had kept her mouth shut. Five years after that day, she was now sure that she had been the one who planted the idea there. It was illogical, and stupid, and it had totally guilt trip her for endless nights, the fact that it had been her who had voiced such thought, especially when she had spent the entire freaking night killing his dreams about the family and the dream life she would never want.

A family that could be waiting with open arms on a planet light years away.

The days after that had been so odd. It was Clark's silence that had felt the most eerie, she now remembered as an after thought, but that had been, of course, up until Superman's silence had taken over her life. He was gone, just like that. And then Clark was also gone. And then she was pregnant.

All this and so much more she had thought over the years, and what she clung the most to was the fact that he hadn't shared this with her. She had had to decipher it all, to read between the lines of his last days with her, to believe against hope that he hadn't gone to Krypton, that he would be standing on her balcony one of these days with some larger than life explanation.

He wouldn't –couldn't- have just taken off and left her.

None of this seemed to matter now. She didn't know what to do. She didn't know what to say. For one terrifying moment she had actually thought that maybe Jason had the key for the doctors to help him, an idea that had died as soon as it had come to be. Not because it was impossible, but because she would never let the world know his heritage, and his father wouldn't want that either.

Things were so complicated now. She had to think about Jason, about Richard, about herself, but all she could think about was what was happening to him. They had said they thought he was in a deep coma, and she was thankful that at least for now he wasn't suffering.

Would she feel it if he were dead? She had asked herself that countless times, and now she was so close to knowing if it was true.

She didn't want to know.

Here she was, on the edge of losing him, with all these untold thoughts and fears and recriminations. Somewhere between good-bye and now, her heart had been more alive and yet more anxious than any time before. Knowing he had left her five years before in search of belonging had hurt like hell, but knowing that he had left her now when she had exactly what would mean everything to him, that she had his son, their son…

How could you leave us like that? How can you leave us like that now? She silently thought, knowing full well that the answer was, Because I didn't know.

She had been so mad at him, so mad that he had gone despite her best efforts, that he had gone without saying good-bye. She was mad because she hadn't seen it coming, because he didn't thought she would care, or worse, that she couldn't handle it.

Good-bye Lois.

For all she had argued, for all she had said to him in the last few days, the only words she didn't want anymore were the last ones he would ever say to her if he didn't wake up.

"Mommy?"

Jason timidly asked, shattering the oppressing silence, maybe sensing that she was sad. Maybe sensing a million other things she wasn't aware of. His dad could hear everything, and by God she wished her son would never have to bear such burden.

Come back to us, she silently thought as she hugged their son, come back to the kids and the white fence and the happily ever after, even if I don't even know how that can be.

Just come back, please, come back where you belong.