When she dreams, Lois Lane dreams of utopia.
She is never dressed in more than she fell asleep in, so she makes it a habit to go to bed in a silk nightgown that swooshes between her knees and makes gooseflesh erupt if the season is right. When the frost bites, her breasts stand pert against the flimsy fabric, so Richard hardly complains. In time, Lois adapts to the uncomfortably bare extremities. In time, she grows accustomed to reminding herself every time her tousled curls grace the pillowcase exactly why she does this-
It's less to have between them once it begins.
When reality dissipates like sand through fingers, she finds herself flying.
The moon is a harbinger in a sea of black canvas; a warm hand caresses her cheek.
His lips hold steady at her ear, and she thinks it's sheer luck she hasn't gone into some form of cardiac arrest yet. Billowing clouds are at her fingertips. These circumstances are never set, and Lois never has the same dream twice. Dream, Lois thinks, is a very broad term. For these happenings feel like the most humane form of paradise, even though there is never any real organization to them.
She writes for a living.
This is not a story with a set timeline of events.
This is euphoria singing in her veins, and she imagines a rare semblance of heaven bursts from the seams of all that it can reach, every night. Paradise is:
She never speaks with him aloud, yet he scribes indentations onto the tender span of her neck that wax poetic, even in the chastest of gatherings. She knows she sees his face, she knows, but she never remembers it when she wakes up. Too in awe, she guesses.
Nigh upon perfection, and too much for her weak mind to process.
Lois Lane tells herself this is for the best. She tells herself crazy people can still have their dreams.
He never makes love to her, but the sensations his embrace, only his embrace, bring are a blessed duplicate. When she allows her mind to go there, she decides a part of her does sincerely love Richard.
But still, but still, but still-
She has never fancied herself an adulterer, but still-
Sometimes, when Richard is fucking her into the sheets, she pretends he's holding her like a lover, and kissing her like she's wispy, fragile, clouds. Breakable.
She's always been a good actress, and in the beginning she'd just scream a little, and contract her abdominal muscles to get it over with. When the thought of the man in the sky finally traipses through her thoughts one meaningless night, she doesn't have to fake orgasm again.
Lois Lane tells herself that this is for the best, and always makes sure to kiss Richard goodnight before she rolls over to sleep. She's usually still breathing heavily, inner muscles still pulsating. Reality, better, best.
It pains her, because before these premonitions, recollections, whatever they may be- sex with Richard was enjoyable. He was a fairly attractive man, and he knew what she liked.
(Tense holds every bit of importance.)
Now, he is always asking for permission.
"Lois, are you all right?"
"Lois, honey, are you feeling well?"
"Sweetie, you seem tired, or upset. Is everything alright?"
He reminds her of a doting puppy. She imagines herself tugging at his choke chain. Yet, he always manages to fetch the collar back to her. He will not leave, as he likes assuring her. At first, it would confuse her. For all her beloved Lane strength, Richard sees through it. Richard sees the abandoned (was she?) haze in her eyes. Richard tries to find the pieces of her that she doesn't remember losing.
It kills her every time he fails.
When she drowns enough in the guilt, she begins to hate the dreams. She begins to hate slumber with a fiery passion.
Maybe those cherished pieces of hope in a part of her she never knew existed were really just cancer cells, eating away at what life still existed. She needs remission.
She needs a cure for whatever she has.
Her doctor gives one to her, all wrapped up in thirty white pills of Lunesta. She takes it with a smile.
This is not real, she tells herself. Only Peter Pan can fly.
"Lois," Jimmy calls. "Lois, you've got someone on the phone. They say it's important."
She rolls her eyes at him, typing another word determinedly. She has been working for a majority of the morning on a political schmoozing article Perry had the audacity to pin her with. The florescence is too beseeching on her eyes that sting from lack of proper sleep. If some tight sphincter from the Mayor's office is calling to hassle her about the article she called their offices for, now is not the time.
"Tell them I'm busy," she grits harshly. Out of her peripheral vision, Lois sees Jimmy's whole body shudder in rebuke. She doesn't have the motivation to care.
Until, timid- as if he's about to stick his hand inside a carton of venomous snakes-
"Lois," she hears Jimmy babble. "Lois, they say it's about Superman."
Lois stops typing.
Her head bows for a split second, and she squeezes her eyes shut. A moment of utter silence passes. A few people around the cubicle halted their actions as well, no doubt watching for the imminent catastrophe.
No one asks Lois Lane about him anymore. In fact, the name is almost so foreign it sounds childish to her ears- almost. The feeling of it is sorely reminiscent of how she feels of a childhood toy, a doll- that is already so vague to her. Forgotten- likely in a box- in tatters, in her sister's attic.
She turns in her seat abruptly. "Give the phone to me."
The people who had taken curiosity return to their work, but they still listen in. For a moment, Lois contemplates screaming at them, but decides against it. Perry would have her ass.
She ignores the way her hands shake when she's finally handed the receiver, and sets her jaw like she's about to take a punch. She is strong. She is the General's daughter. She will not fall until the last shot has rung. The voice that greets her on the line is accented; hard to understand.
"Hello, Miss Lane. My name is Genevieve Sarkozy, my father is the Prime Minister of France. How are you this morning?"
"Peachy," Lois smarts.
"I am pleased to hear that. My confidante had informed me you were the woman to contact if I had information on Mr. Superman."
That strikes her oddly. "Mister?"
"Well, yes. I know this sounds foolish, yet I cannot ignore my heart. When I first saw him I felt this connection, and I would like to know when he is coming back. I don't believe my heart could bare it-
Her knuckles go chalky around the grip of the phone. Intake of breath too sharp- Lois feels as if she might dry heave into the trashcan by the end of the desk. It takes her a moment to reign in her thoughts, and collect herself.
When she finally speaks, her voice books no room for discussion.
"He is not coming back."
She slams the phone down with all the strength she can muster up and a few papers fly to the floor. Lois glares at them. Then, as if every molecule is a ton of concrete, she moves to pick them up and sit them back down on her desk quietly.
Gauging, her coworkers continue to work.
Lois turns back to her desk, and exhales shakily.
Opening a word document; a fresh one, delicate fingers begin to type quicker than they ever have before. She is known for her eloquence, not her punctuation, or grammar. Eloquently, boldly, resolutely, at the top of the screen-
"WHY THE WORLD DOESN'T NEED SUPERMAN"
No one sees- no one will ever see- but sentences in a lone tear streaked her cheek. Just one.
Later that night, when she's rolled to the side after her nightly round with Richard, she buries her face into the pillow and sobs twice, only twice. Richard is a heavy sleeper.
She likes that about him.
Lois Lane does, as a rule, consider herself a strong woman. That doesn't necessarily equate to a mean right hook, but she's got that covered too. No, strength is more, in her eyes.
Strength is not asking for more, and making do with what you have.
It only happens once, so she still holds steady with the conviction she has never begged a man for something.
It only happens once:
He hasn't overtly graced the skies in four months. Richard and she have been an item for three of those. The buzz has died down about him, yet Lois still finds herself working the same extreme hours, still feels the same dog tired ache in her bones. Her heart is Swiss cheese.
The office is empty save the cleaning crew, her newest report on a flu outbreak is open at her desk, vacant, and Richard is at home, waiting with dinner. She cannot bring herself to go home to him; to kiss him.
Next to her purse, there is a crumpled brown paper bag, and inside it are the remnants of a pregnancy test. The used stick rests ominously, result side down, next to her keyboard. With a tremble to her lower lip, she reaches out and flips it over.
Then, quietly- because she hasn't ever done it before, she's not the kind of person, God, she's not the kind of woman who-
"Please,"she whispers. "Please come back."
She realizes, while sitting in an infinitely sterile waiting room, those pieces of her she thought lost had really just died. Lois, I'm sorry, Princess ran into the street. Lois, I'm sorry, your father has had a heart attack. Lois, I'm sorry, your mother's been in a car accident.
"Miss Lane?" the doctor catches her attention.
Staring through him, but seeing everything.
"The blood test results came back positive, so I can confirm," he tells her.
She doesn't flinch when she asks, muted, like every ounce of light that once resided in her has been stomped out with steel toed boots-
"Would mind giving me information about the nearest abortion clinic?"
That night, when she dreams, she dreams of his hands.
They are sturdy, and comforting, and remind her so much of her father she can barely take it.
They caress her bare arms, which she relishes in, before they move down to her waist. One large palm rests on her midsection, and so quietly- maybe begging isn't his thing either-
Something flutters beneath his hand.
Her eyes pry open with a shout. Wiping a hand across her face, Lois startles at the wetness there. It takes her a long time to realize she's been crying. She figures out quickly she hasn't taken her pill, and grasps at the bedside table to do so.
When Lois wakes up the next morning, she cancels her appointment. On her way to work, she picks up a bottle of prenatal vitamins.
She pulls out into an intersection, and an SUV promptly slams into her car door.
Later, they'll tell her it took the Jaws of Life, six men, and an ambulance to save her life.
Lucidity is not technically relevant when she cries out, "The baby?"
Even though she can't see anything, she hears Richard gasp loudly, voice stuttering with relief and blithe. He sounds like Kent, her inner self rambles. She almost laughs because she hasn't thought about him in months. Why would she-
"Fine, Lois," Richard assures her. "Our baby is fine."
Here's the thing:
Richard never questions if he is or isn't the father.
Richard would be, for all intents and purposes, a magnificent father.
It makes it too easy to lie. And at first, pretending is easy. She doesn't even technically know Superman is the father. She doesn't remember. Trying to is like grasping at strings on balloons once you've already let them go; struggling, in the weakest fashion. Lois detests being weak.
Relinquishing the pull is easier.
Besides, on a scale of one to The Shining, this is a significantly high rater for weirdness. Of all things carrying an alien baby was not on her to do list for this lifetime. Would that even be genetically possible?
It's easy to kiss Richard's lips, stop taking medicine, and clean out her proverbial skeleton closet.
The next time someone asks, she goes-
"How the hell should I know where he is? I'm not his wife. Go ask Betty Crocker."
Still, still, still-
When they laugh, she struggles to follow suit.
Jason is early, too early, the doctors say.
He's not, she wants to tell them. He's just part Kryptonian.
Instead, she settles for taking him in like he's the last good thing in the world- he is- and reaching through glass to rest a finger over his little chest, just above his heart.
"You've got my heart now too, you know," Lois whispers.
It's the first time in ten months she has felt the pieces fit together again.
She feels the ache recede like the waves that kiss the shoreline no matter how many times they've been sent away. Home, she thinks, and smiles graciously as she watches his little eyes flutter.
When Jason will dream, he will dream of home.