Years of marriage and Clark still did most of the cooking. Lois remained severely out of her element in the kitchen. She cooked one thing well and once every couple of weeks her signature dish made an appearance at the Kent table. Baked chicken, a salad, and rice from a box premeasured pre-bagged all she had to do was drop it in a pot of boiling water. Other meals requiring her culinary participation came with very detailed instructions.
"5 p.m. turn on the oven set to 375."
"Please wait until it beeps before you put in the red casserole dish."
"Set the timer for 45 minutes."
"I'll see you at 6, Love Clark."
He would always need to call her. The oven would beep and she'd forget to put the casserole dish in or take it out. Clark would be mid-air and hear the repeated beep of her inattentiveness halfway across the globe. He'd give a gentle reminder, she'd cut back sarcastically, and he'd reward her with a deep rumbling chuckle that still left her knees weak after all these years.
Tonight she didn't feel particularly hungry. From the circular sauce marks on his plate it didn't appear Clark was either, now seemed as good a time as any to bring it up. From the pocket of her pants, she pulled a tiny box and set it on the table between them. She couldn't draw her eyes away from it, a soft velvet black box, so similar to the one that held the ring when Clark proposed.
Clark stared at the box first then glared. He couldn't see through it. His deep sigh brought the brown eyes on the other side of the dinner table up to meet his own. In the silence between them, Clark was painfully aware of every sound. Lois' heart was racing, the quiet whisper of her breath faster than normal. Tick, tick, tick of the clock in the living room made him count every exhale. The puppy in the neighboring apartment mourned his owner's absence. Gently a shower settled over Gotham City sending people fleeing indoors.
"What is this?"
Clark didn't respond the sadness in his eyes telling more of a story than his words ever could.
"It fell out of your jacket while I was doing laundry," Lois directed her attention to the ring on her left hand. Spinning the diamond slowly around her finger distracted her from the one thing she wanted to do, cry, "Why?"
Clark reached across the table placing one large palm over the box as if shielding it from view would make the conversation any easier. "I don't…"
Lois sighed when he stopped just short of an answer, "Don't tell me you don't know. This had to have taken some thought. Not to mention a sizeable amount of convincing to persuade him to give this to you."
Clark soundlessly opened and closed his mouth before finding the right words, "He didn't want to but Bruce knew I could have gotten it on my own. I really only needed him to construct the box."
Tears pooled in the corners of her eyes and she made no move to wipe them away. Clark looked back at his plate finding a slight bit of comfort in pushing his chicken around with his index finger.
"Why?" She whispered in return.
The question burned him, deeper and more severely than the contents of the box of secrets between them, betrayal incarnate wrapped in a decorative black box.
"I couldn't live without you," he mumbled under his breath, praying she'd drop the subject completely.
He raised his voice. Something he hadn't done more than twice during their entire time together. "I can't live without you!"
Lois flinched, not at the change in volume but the tears running down her husband's face. The water she was barely holding in her own fell from her eyes in response.
"You would…if ever I…you couldn't. You can't. You…you just. You can't!"
Clark felt embarrassed discussing this with the rock of lies sitting on the table between them. He picked up the abomination and threw it into the other room harder than he intended. The mirror above the mantle paid the price for his frustration.
"I can't live without you," he repeated to the oddly determined face sitting across from him. Calmness set it that shouldn't have existed given the situation, given the revelation, given the topic.
"That is ridiculous Clark," fire in her eyes ignited briefly before softening back to sadness, "We both knew this was the outcome."
Clark shook his head in an effort to free his mind from the cloudy emotions. How could she be so serene? From the day she shrieked in the bathroom at the discovery of her first grey hair his mind racked with worry. How would he live without her? She was the one constant. The single thing he could rely on in the madness that was the life of a hero. The only person he could ever imagine himself loving because she was simply unparalleled, Lois, his Lois unrepeatable. Her 61st birthday rolled around this year and they sat home snuggled on the couch. She didn't want a party and honestly, he didn't feel much like celebrating his wife moving one year closer to mortality.
Suddenly he couldn't breathe. Clark shot a glance into the other room. The kryptonite shard still nestled comfortably in its box wasn't the source of his distress. Rather a rapid onset of grief suffocating him, he tried to contain it but a strangled sob parted his lips. Dropping his head Clark attempted to hide his moment of weakness from his wife.
Wearing his heart on his sleeve was something that endeared Clark to people around the world. Rescues failed and successful took an emotional toll on him. Many blouses in her closet resigned to a tear stained fate when she offered her shoulder lovingly to Earth's greatest hero. This was different. She'd never seen Clark look so broken, utterly defeated. Lois moved from her chair immediately to Clark's side. Removing the glasses from his face he'd forgotten to shelve upon coming home, she pulled him to her. Stroking his hair away from his face Lois couldn't think of one soothing speech to give to the quivering frame of the man crying against her breasts except "I love you." Again and again, the same three words. And she meant them. She would always mean them from now until eternity, now until the end of time, now until forever sans immortality.
Thank you for reading. This story is an un-beta but I am looking for one. So if you are game to put up with my character shenanigans send me a message.