Clark had a dream once he was squeezed into a phone box with Lois Lane: their hands were pressed up against the glass and their arms were all twisted up; their clothes and hair were wet, and they were laughing. They shivered together, having run in out of the rain and forced the door shuddering-closed — and everything was quiet, and everything was loud, and the rain beat against the glass and Clark was breathing so heavy you could hear it from space. He had tangled his fingers up in her hair and tried to kiss her, and everything melted into soft-velvet blackness, and he woke up.

When he woke up it was in harsh golden sunlight, and alone, and he was colder than he had ever been in the rain.


Lois was in the hospital, and Clark's heart was a graveyard — filled to brimming with the dust and bones of his future. He sat by her bed, hunched over on himself, folded inwards. He felt quiet, and still, and like there was an insurmountable space between every object: between the bed and the chair, between his hand and Lois's, between his mouth and hers. Her eyes were closed, her whole body very still. Clark had conquered aliens, had stopped whole trains with his bare hands: Clark had fought and won against so many things, but never human frailty.

Something had hatched inside of Lois, and cracked her shell. Clark had meant to open her gently, to unwind her — but something else rapped at her from inside, rapped hard against the bones of her ribs and pierced her heart with its beak. He looked again at her fingers, separated from his by a wall of air and dust he might never get past. How was it that all he could do was sit? How was it that there was nothing to conquer, nothing to fight? How was it that someone so filled-up with vibrancy, who churned up thoughts and feelings in her wake, who took up so much space on the inside of his mind could be encased in a body so small, and so fragile? — and so human.

Lois had placed something inside of him: something so large he could barely contain it. He had built something around her — an invisible framework of 'homeness' she took with her — without realising. He saw it now, from the corner of his eye. He saw it. What would he do, if that framework collapsed in on itself? What was he doing?

He reached out for her, across the divide, across time and oceans and galaxies and stars, fingers stretched out —

He didn't make it. His hand fell to his side: useless, pointless, nothing.

And it occurred to him that Oliver might have called, so he stepped out.

When he came back she was gone.


Lois had a dream once that the sky turned red and Metropolis was a bled-dry dust-filled nowhere. She dug her nails into Clark's skin and he pushed her down into the mattress and the Sun whirled and burned above them so loud that you could hear it. His mouth was pressed against her fingertips, and her eyes were closed and they were shaking, and they were still alive, but not for long.

When she woke up it was in a dimly-lit hospital room, and Clark was there with sixty roses — and sixty is a lot, a large number.


It's funny what a touch of hypoglycaemia will do to a person, Lois thought — and it's even funnier what it will do to the people around them.

But she took Clark's hand in the elevator, and somehow it felt like the easiest thing she had done in her life. His hand curled around hers, and she felt that he encased her — and really believed that she might never feel fragile again.