Disclaimer: I do not own Smallville
Due to unforeseen circumstances I have lost my Beta, Hanabi you will be missed. I wish you well in the future with all your endeavors.
After the first Kryptonians, the disciples of Zod, had wrought such damage and death everything changed. Clark had barely been able to deal with them, if they had not been so over confident he was certain he would have lost. As it was, banishing them through that portal was luck, he had no way of knowing if it would be permanent. He didn't know anything about his people, his history.
So he kept his promise to Jor-El, he returned to the fortress to train, four years would pass before he was seen again. His mother and father were naturally relieved to see him again. He reconnected with a few old friends, Chloe, Pete, and even Lana, though by email only as she had moved back to Paris at some point.
He was able to procure documents showing he'd gotten a degree in journalism and found work at the Daily Planet, a place where he could be in the moment, where he could find out what was happening in the world and being able to disappear without needing to say more than 'I'm going to meet a source'. It was the ideal place.
For three month he'd worked with Lois Lane, in the short time he'd known Lois living on the farm she had driven him insane with her attitude and behavior. Working with her in the Daily Planet wasn't any better and yet he still found himself drawn to her. She was beautiful with pretty brown eyes, dark brown hair, and a smile that seemed to light up the room when she wasn't yelling at someone. All she saw was a bumbling farm hick whose parents were nice to her once upon a time, his hair messy that was often in his eyes and the thick horn-rimmed glasses obscuring his face made him invisible. He really did try to get to know her better, to be less invisible. He thought they had even become friends of a sort, often having coffee and lunch together.
Once he'd firmly established the Clark Kent persona he made a big and very splashy debut to the world at large. Saving Lois Lane in the manner he did was not planned but when opportunity knocks and all that. So it was that Lois Lane was skyrocketed into reporting fame with the first interview, the exclusive interview, the world altering interview with the man she had dubbed 'Superman'.
Superman, it was pretentious but he wasn't going to fight it, it wasn't a name he would have ever given himself. It wasn't a name he'd asked for. But it did make him a symbol of hope, a light in the darkness, a savior, a messiah, and a dozen other names to go along with it. He didn't care about any that, just that he gave people hope.
And of course, Lois Lane was instantly smitten with Superman. Her articles revolved around him, her objectivity faded slightly and from that day on she couldn't see any other man.
Clark continued to be friends with Lois, he had thought that maybe they were even growing closer. And then he finally took a chance and asked her on a date, she politely declined and he accepted it for what it was.
Two years passed from there. Clark had become a more prominent reporter, a lot of it from shared bylines with Lois but most of it was on his own merit. He'd fought to protect humanity as Superman. He had faced Zod, Brainiac, Doomsday, and Lex Luthor, he'd fought them all and won, nearly dying more than once.
But more and more his life had less meaning. Lois was completely infatuated with Superman, an idea, not a person. Whereas Clark Kent was just a friend and Lois might not have even seen him as that.
Things would change over the next year as Superman no longer just protected Metropolis, but natural disasters, aliens, and everything in between.
So it was that Lois Lane had found herself once again sitting on her balcony, hoping that Superman would come see her again. He was hardly in Metropolis these days, you'd hear about criminals showing up in front of the police station at least once a weak, he'd stay for a moment for a photo or to reassure people he was still helping but something had changed in him.
"I wish you'd come talk to me again," said Lois mournfully. "I've missed talking to you. I thought we were friends."
"Miss Lane," greeted the rich, confident voice she knew only too well.
"Superman!" she nearly shouted, turning quickly to see him floating in the distance. He was still a god among men in her eyes. His dark brown hair slicked straight back, a single curl drooping onto his forehead, his chiseled jaw, and his muscles shown off by the skin tight blue body suit, a red cape hanging behind him and the ever present 'S' emblazoned on his chest. It was all perfect in her opinion, and pretty much ever other woman's too.
"You wanted to talk to me?" he asked as he floated to land on her balcony.
"I just, I hadn't seen you in so long. I thought maybe you'd forgotten me."
"No ma'am," he answered kindly.
"We don't see much of you around here these days," said Lois.
"The world needs me more than just Metropolis," he answered.
"Still, I thought we were friends? I hoped you'd come to me more, even just to talk," explained Lois.
"Miss Lane, I'm not sure what you really want from me. I'm a friend to all of humanity," he said, a hint of sadness.
"Doesn't that get lonely? Don't you have anyone you can talk to?"
"It is very lonely, Miss Lane. But as the person you so aptly named Superman, I can't have friends. I can't have a family. As Superman, I'm a symbol, I give people hope. I couldn't be Superman if I had friends or family. They would be used against me. They would be in danger. It is not something that Superman can ever have."
"I don't... I didn't..."
"It's not your fault. I'm sorry if I ever gave you the wrong impression."
"I'm so foolish," she finally said. "I had this image of a friendship between us, maybe something more because you gave me those interviews. And you always saved me."
"I gave you those interviews because I was aware of your work at the time. I thought you would tell me story well because you're open minded. Once I saw you start getting targeted as a result I knew it would be too selfish to continue asking you to do so."
"Shouldn't that have been my choice?" she asked, some that fire she was famous for igniting in her belly. She hated being coddled or protected.
"With all due respect, Miss Lane, it wasn't your choice to make. It was my choice to give you my story and it was my choice to stop giving you interviews."
"I'm sorry," she said solemnly, the fire extinguished before it could roar. "So what do you do for fun? You must do something other than be the hero all the time?"
She was puzzled by the sad smile on Superman's face, it didn't make sense to her.
"I have to be the hero all the time. It doesn't work any other way."
"How can you live like that?"
"Are we off the record?"
"Of course," said Lois, she would never put him on the record when he was really talking to her, not as the symbol but as the man.
"I grew up among humans. I had parents and friends. I wanted nothing more than to be normal, but I wasn't normal. I could never be normal. I tried to convince myself that I could be Superman and have a normal life. I had even fallen in love with a brilliant woman that challenged me everyday."
Lois was shocked to hear that. She had never even considered it possible. "So you had a what... a secret identity?"
"You could say that. But she was obsessed with Superman. Do you have any idea how strange it is to be jealous of yourself? She was so obsessed with Superman that she had to compare every guy to him but the fact was all she knew was the 'Super' and not the 'man'."
"That sound's awful," said Lois. "I didn't even think that you... it just never occurred to me."
"No one ever does, Miss Lane."
"So, what happened to your secret identity? I mean, if you're Superman all the time now..."
"I had to make a choice, either give up being Superman or give up my desire for a human life. Balancing both was just too painful. In the end I just couldn't take away people's hope, I couldn't do it."
"So what, your secret identity just faded into obscurity?"
"I did not wish to risk temptation of a life that I knew I could never have. So, my human identity died. It gave closure to that life so the people in it could move on with their lives, be at peace if you will, instead of wondering what happened to their old friend."
"That's so sad," said Lois, holding both of her hands to her mouth.
"Maybe, but when you have to be able to make life and death decisions on a daily basis everything else pails in comparison. The saddest thing though about all of it, the woman I had fallen for, that I thought was at least my friend. She was too busy to notice, too busy chasing after Superman to say goodbye to her friend. It was truly heartbreaking to know how little of an impact my human life had on the world around me. Worse still, a part of me will always love her. Anyway, it is late, I should go."
And he was gone before she could say anything else. She had truly felt the pain in his voice as he told her such a personal and private story. And then shame set in. She really didn't know Superman. She knew some facts but she didn't know him at all. Just like he said, she was so busy looking the 'Super' but she knew nothing about the 'man,' at least not until now.
She walked back inside of her apartment, letting tears flow as the pain of his story set in. She found little sleep that night as she laid in bed, reflecting on her life. On the woman she was versus the woman she wanted to be.
"Who are you Lois Lane?" she whispered to herself in the wee hours of the morning after having laid there all night trying to answer that very question.
Lois was a zombie the next day, even after she sat down at her desk. She looked around the office, dozens of reporters running all over the place doing their jobs. She could name everyone of them but she didn't know anything about any of them beyond a few tidbits she'd heard every now then. The office hound dog, the jock, the ditsy gossip columnist (Cat Grant, probably the person she knew best), the office slut, and a few others but other than those labels she really didn't know any of them.
"Have I always been so shallow?" she asked herself softly.
"Lane, my office now?" demanded Perry White loudly.
Lois stood tiredly and walked to speak with her editor and boss. "Yeah, Chief?"
"Get in here and close the door," he said sternly. Then as an afterthought he added, "and don't call me chief!"
Lois wasn't comfortable with the atmosphere in the room, it was tense and quiet, something she didn't usually associate with her boss... the quiet part anyway.
"Something wrong, Chief?"
"I've been good you, Lane, haven't I?"
"I give you the best leads, the most interesting interviews, and I pay you well, don't I?"
"Yes, Chief." Lois was starting to get nervous.
"Then do you mind telling me what the hell this was?" he shouted at the top of his lungs as he threw down several photos of her talking to Superman on her balcony last night. "You had an exclusive interview that should have been in this mornings edition and instead I have to get these pictures from an old friend at the Inquisitor. What is wrong with you?"
Lois was stunned. She was backed into a big, dark, scary corner and there was absolutely no way out. "It wasn't an interview. I had asked him to talk, I didn't know he'd hear me or show up. We barely talked for a minute before he had to leave to rescue someone, he never came back."
"Oh really?" asked Perry White, his face turning darker shades of angry red. He then turned his computer screen and clicked play on a video file.
Lois had to watch in horror as her entire conversation was played out. "Oh god, no."
"He said off the record, you heard it, Chief," said Lois, trying desperately to protect herself now.
"A bit late for that now, isn't it?"
"Can we kill this? Can we destroy it somehow?"
Perry had to do a double take. "Are you out of your mind? Do you have any idea just how big this is? This is the biggest revelation on Superman since his coming out. We're scrambling to put our own coverage out there in an afternoon special addition. Now that this film is out there you being off the record doesn't mean anything. I want you finding out who he is or was? I want the front page splashed with pictures of him when he wasn't Superman. If this secret identity is dead then us publishing it won't mean a thing, even better if we can find out who this woman that broke Superman's heart is."
"I won't do it, Chief. He came to me in confidence. I won't betray that," said Lois, shaking her head in ardent refusal.
"Since when have you ever cared about that? Where is Mad Dog Lane? I need her right now."
"Is that how you see me? Is that how everyone sees me?" she asked, feeling physically ill.
"Lois, I don't know what's gotten into you today but I need you to get your head on right and go do your job. I want this story before anyone else. We've already been scooped once today by that rag. I do not want it to happen again," said Perry fiercely.
"I quit," said Lois, not quite believing the words even as they left her mouth.
"What? You can't quit!"
"I quit," she said again, a look of surprise on her face even as she said it a second time.
"Now, Lois, don't do anything rash-"
"I quit," she said a third time, this time looking Perry straight in the eyes.
"Lois, just wait a minute. We can work this out," Perry protested, trying to stop Lois from rushing out of his office. Barely stopping at her desk to grab her purse then almost sprinting to the elevator. She didn't stop running until she was in her car in the parking garage.
"What did you just do, Lois Lane?" she asked herself, looking in the rear view mirror. She started the engine and just drove with no destination in mind.
She drove for hours and before she knew it she was in Smallville. The downtown looked almost exactly the same except for the new corner Starbucks and the office building where the Talon once stood. Other than that, the roads were lined with farm trucks and the occasional family sedan.
"Now where? Chloe lives in Star City. Uncle Gabe retired there too. I didn't have many friends here except the Kents. I suppose I could stop in," she spoke to herself. She didn't have a destination in mind when she started driving but then the Kents had always treated her so well for the short time she had stayed there.
Lois almost missed the Kent farm as she wound her way down all the dirt roads and managed the lack of road signs. She finally saw it and pulled up the driveway easily enough. The house looked exactly as she remembered it from seven years prior. Then she realized it had been seven years since she'd even been here. Would the Kents remember her? Would they welcome her after so long? What was she even doing here again?
She was about to put the car in reverse and leave when she saw the unmistakable Mrs. Kent come out of the house, older and bit more plump but still her despite the silver hair that now covered her head. She was followed by an ancient looking dog that could only have been Shelby.
Mrs. Kent walked down the path from the porch to the drive way. "Hello, are you lost?" she asked kindly.
Lois heard her clearly through her open window but hesitated. At this point though she could no longer retreat so she put her car in park and stepped out. "Hi, Mrs. K. Long time."
Martha was utterly shocked when she recognized the young woman she once thought of as a daughter. "Lois, is that you?"
"Yeah, sorry to just drop in but I was passing through town and I thought I might just drop by. Say hello," she said nervously. "If it's a bad time, I'll just go."
"No," said Martha, unsure why she said it herself. "Please, come in. I'll make some tea. We can sit and talk."
Lois was slightly confused. She could sense the worry in Martha's voice, her reporter instincts picked up on it very easily. She frowned once and turned off her car engine. She grabbed her purse and chased after Martha.
Shelby barked at her, wagging his tail but barely able to move after her or to her. "Hey, Shelbs, how are you old boy?" she asked as she came near him, careful not to touch him as she was still allergic to dogs.
Martha entered the house first, looking back briefly at Lois.
Lois followed Martha in the house, the woman looked slightly panicked now.
"Jonathan, we have company," she said, gently shaking the man's shoulder to wake him up. He too looked older and a bit heavier. His hair was completely white now, unlike Martha's silver.
Lois saw the man that was so nice to her asleep in front of the TV, the news was on, looping the video of her and Superman. She really wanted to turn the TV off.
"Huh, whatsit?" he asked, startling awake.
"We have company," said Martha again, looking Jonathan in the eye communicating something silently.
Jonathan sat up abruptly, rubbing his face to wake himself up. "Sorry, I must have dozed off."
"Jonathan, you doze off every afternoon these days," said Martha. "We have a guest."
Jonathan turned in his chair, looking over his shoulder to see Lois standing there.
"Hi, Mr. K," Lois greeted him friendly enough.
"What do you want with us?" asked Jonathan, less than kindly.
Lois suddenly felt unwelcome. "Look, this was a bad idea. I should just go."
"No," said Martha. "Stay. Jonathan, be nice."
Jonathan huffed angrily. "I'll be outside. I still have some work to do." He jammed an old beat up red baseball cap on his head. Lois was surprised when he stormed past the young woman and out of the house.
"Did I come at a bad time?" Lois asked. "I should have called first or something."
"Nonsense, let's sit in the kitchen," said Martha.
Lois followed Martha into the kitchen and sat at the table.
"Is iced-tea okay?"
"That will be fine, thank you," said Lois. Internally Lois was struggling with why she even bothered coming here in the first place. She shouldn't have pushed her way back into their lives like this.
Martha set a glass in front of Lois, startling the young woman slightly before she too sat down across from Lois. "So what brought you out this way?"
"Oh, you know, just had one of those days," said Lois, sipping from her tea.
"I bet things are a little crazy in the city. I saw the news," said Martha.
Lois looked down instantly at the mention of the news. "I didn't know we were being filmed talking like that."
"I doubt he would have talked to you if he had known," said Martha. "He doesn't seem like the type to pour his heart out to anyone like that."
"I feel like I betrayed him," said Lois. "All those interviews and I thought I knew him better than anyone but I never really knew him at all. And now, because of that video and what we talked about his family and friends are going to have their lives invaded if they ever find out who he was. I can't help feeling responsible."
"So did you come here to hide?" asked Martha.
"I don't know, maybe," she said.
Martha gave her hand on the table a light squeeze. "This might not be the best place, Lois. Jonathan's heart isn't what it used to be and I don't want him stressed because you're here."
"It's okay," said Lois, a little bit sadly. "Can I ask something?"
"Go ahead," said Martha.
"Why was he so upset at seeing me?"
"Oh, honey, he's just not had the easiest of times since... and when you didn't even come to the funeral I guess he just felt betrayed," said Martha.
Questions raced through Lois' head, most specifically 'what funeral?' "This might sound bad, but what funeral?"
Martha suddenly looked angry. "Lois, how could you ask that?"
"Look, I know I've been out of touch for a while and I'm sorry about that but I don't know what you're talking about," she tried to defend herself.
"Clark's!" shouted Martha. "Your friend. Remember him. My son's funeral."
Lois was floored, when had Clark died? How did she not know?
"I never believed it when Clark told me he didn't think you even knew he existed any more but how could you not know? How could my son's life have gone so unnoticed by you?"
Lois shook her head in disbelief, it couldn't be. It just couldn't. How could she have missed something so important? Clark was her friend, wasn't he? When did he even leave the paper? What was she doing that she was so unaware of someone she called a friend had died? Why didn't Chloe call her?
Then it hit her. About a year or so ago one of the reporters in the office was killed but she was chasing an interview with Superman about an earthquake in Honduras. She remembered having a lot of missed calls from Chloe around then. When was the last time she had even heard from Chloe?
"I think its time you leave, please don't return," said Martha, walking out of the kitchen, wiping at the tears leaking down her face.
Lois was numb as she left the house and the farm. She was numb for her entire drive back to Metropolis. She was numb as she drove past her apartment building and the paparazzi that surrounded it. She was numb as she checked into the hotel that was known for its anonymity, something she desperately needed right now.
When she finally sat down at the end of the bed in her hotel room, the damn that let her be numb broke allowing a torrent of emotion break through, racking her body with tears, pain, and debilitating sadness.
She didn't know how long she laid there crying, it could have been days or weeks or even minutes. It didn't really matter to her then. She was at an all time low and it was her own doing. She had failed so many people without even realizing it. She hurt two people her were good to her once, treated her like she was their own daughter. She had lost a friend and didn't even know it happened until almost a year later. Her cousin, someone she considered her best friend at one time, hadn't spoken to her since and she didn't even notice it. Why hadn't she paid any attention to these things?
Eventually she stood and walked to the bathroom to wash her face. "You look awful, Lane," she said to herself, taking a hard look in the mirror at herself and feeling nothing but disgust.
She walked out of her bathroom fully intent on crawling under the sheets of her bed and sleeping. However, the sight of Superman standing on the room's balcony put a gaping hole in that plan.
Lois swallowed nervously as she opened the balcony doors for the very unhappy looking hero. "Hi, want to come in?"
"Sure," he answered calmly.
Lois closed the doors behind so as to not let out any of the cool air of the room she preferred while sleeping.
"You look like you've had a rough day," he said gently.
Lois sat heavily on the bed facing him and nodded, not trusting herself to speak or she may start crying again.
"I'm sorry I didn't check better for cameras and listening devices. I am usually much better about those kinds of things."
Lois sniffled, afraid to speak.
"Something tells me there is more you're upset about though."
"I'm a bad person," she said, crying once again.
"I went to work this morning and I was looking around when I realized I didn't know anyone there," she choked out between sobs. "And then, my boss called me into his office and showed me the video. I felt so bad about it. Worse, he wanted me to find out about your human life so I quit. I couldn't do that after I felt like I had already betrayed you so badly."
"I appreciate that but you didn't betray me, Lois, I made a mistake. You're not to blame."
Lois shook her head crying more. "It gets worse."
"So I got in my car and I just drove. I didn't plan anything. Before I knew it I was in Smallville, this little town I lived in for a little while. But I only knew the Kents so I thought I would just drop by. Oh god, I'm such a bad person." She paused in her story to blow her nose and wipe her eyes. She hoped that Superman would interrupt her, reassure her, anything but he remained silent. "So I visited them and that's when I found out. I mean, how could I not know? He was my friend or I thought he was but I... I wasn't a friend to him at all and now... why? Why couldn't I have paid attention? Why was I so selfish? My friend died and I couldn't even be bothered to pay attention to it. I'm such an awful person."
Lois broke into another fit of sobs. She wanted so badly for Superman to comfort her, to tell her it was okay but again nothing. Was he as disappointed in her as she was in herself? Then it occurred to her that the story must have resonated with his own story, to know that his human life had meant so little to someone he considered a friend.
"I'm sorry, you must hate me," Lois sobbed.
"I do not hate you, Miss Lane. I am sorry you are suffering. Humans can be so foolish, and even more selfish. It's part of why I exist. It's also why I gave up my human life, when I put the life of one person above the lives of so many others... I cannot be a symbol if I am selfish or foolish enough to believe I can have something for myself."
"It's so unfair," sobbed Lois, somewhat relieved that Superman didn't hate her. "If anyone deserves a life, something for themselves, it's you. I couldn't imagine how anyone could live a life of sacrifice the way you have. To give up everything and ask for nothing in return."
"Very soon my human life may be exposed to the world. The people I cared about in that life will be in danger," he explained carefully.
"Oh no, is there anything I can do to help?"
"I need you to come somewhere with me."
"Anywhere," she said quickly. She move to grab her purse but Superman interrupted.
"It's better if you leave that. I cannot risk you being tracked where we are going."
Lois nodded once and walked up to him a bit nervously, it have been so long since he had taken her flying. She was more nervous as he pulled her to his hip, holding her up easily.
The flight was a blur that Lois had to close her eyes against, Superman had never flown her at such a speed before. Even still, it was the longest flight she'd ever been on with him.
"We're here," he said softly, setting her back on her feet.
Lois looked around. The loft like room was huge and covered in computer monitors. She looked a bit closer at some of the monitors and saw the faces of various super heroes from all over the US.
"I said no," snapped an angry female voice that sounded familiar.
"I will not risk her life or any other if we have the power to protect them," argued Superman gently.
Lois looked to the source of the voice and was shocked to see someone she once knew very well. "Chloe?"
Chloe didn't even acknowledge her. "She doesn't deserve our protection. Not after everything she's done."
"Watchtower, that's enough. We don't choose who we do or do not protect. I'll return shortly with the others."
"Don't you dare," said Chloe coldly. "You don't get to act so casually with me after what you've done. Just be thankful he still feels anything at all for you."
"I don't understand, what's going on?"
"Your life is no longer safe," said a new voice.
Lois turned swiftly to see a man she'd only ever heard about. "Green Arrow?"
"The Boy Scout might soon be exposed. We put a contingency plan into place for every hero so that if their secret identity was ever compromised, the people they care for most would be protected. Given new lives where any connection with the hero's hidden identity would no longer exist."
"But why am I here?" she asked, still not able to put everything together.
"I can't be here right now," said Chloe, anger saturating her voice.
"We need you for this, Watchtower," said Green Arrow, moving quickly to cut off her escape route.
"Get Cyborg to do it," she said, trying to slip past him.
"Chloe, you're the best at this. He needs you for this," the man pleaded with her.
"I can't do this," she said sadly. "Ollie, it's not right."
"Honey, I know how hard this is," he tried to comfort her, his hood falling back as he hugged her close. "We all knew the day might come where one of us would have to do this. His parents will be well taken care of but that won't happen without your help."
Lois was stunned when the hood fell. The man had short spiky blond hair and an unforgettable face. Oliver Queen was the Green Arrow. Then she gasped as she realized that Chloe knew all about it. She couldn't believe what she was hearing.
Oliver leaned forward and kissed Chloe tenderly, his thumbs gently wiping away her tears.
Chloe sniffled once. "Cheater."
"You wouldn't love me otherwise," he said with a cocky grin.
"Fine, I'll help but don't think for a second I'm happy about this," she said with a small huff, blowing her short blond hair out of her eyes. She walked over to one of the computer stations and began to work furiously. Chloe looked much the same as Lois remembered her, short blond hair, light make-up on her face, though she did have the look of someone who had recently lost weight.
"I still don't understand why I'm here," said Lois meekly.
Chloe froze in her type to turn and glare at Lois, her eyes narrowed.
"Would you stop looking at me like that? I know I screwed up when Clark died. I know I was a selfish bitch for not even knowing my friend died until almost a year after it happened. But this isn't helping."
Chloe stalked over to her, a fury painted on her face.
Lois had never seen such anger in Chloe's eyes before. She wasn't even surprised with Chloe when she punched her. She knew she deserved so much worse even as she watched Oliver struggle to restrain Chloe after the first strike.
"That's enough," said Oliver firmly, completely lifting Chloe off the ground and carrying her back to her computer.
Chloe steamed angrily as she stormed up a nearby stairway.
Lois picked herself up off the floor, tears leaking down her cheeks. She was getting tired of crying.
"She'll calm down eventually," said Oliver.
"She shouldn't, I deserve it," said Lois, pitying herself.
"You wouldn't be here if he didn't think you were worth protecting in spite of everything you put him through," said Oliver.
"I still don't understand why I'm here. Why would Superman need me here? Am I supposed to tell this story to the world or something? I told him I quit my job, I won't do that anymore."
Oliver's eyes widened in surprise. "He didn't tell you? Damn, I never knew he could be vindictive. It's always the quiet ones." The chagrin written all over his face only served to confuse her more.
"Tell me what?" she asked, starting to get annoyed.
"Not my place to say anything," defended Oliver. "You'll probably understand better once he gets back with his parents."
"Wait, Superman has parents? But I thought..."
"He told you he was raised on Earth, didn't he? You don't think he was raised by wolves in the wild do you?"
Lois felt a jolt run through her. It was obvious someone had to raise him. Someone decent and caring otherwise he wouldn't be the same person he was now.
"Oh," she finally said.
"Pretty much," said Oliver.
"Did they know... about... you know?"
"Yes, they know everything," said Oliver.
"Even about his 'death'?" she asked carefully.
"Oh yeah, that was a brutal argument," said Oliver, a chill shot down his spine as he remembered it. "They actually mourned the death of their son. He couldn't be a part of their lives anymore, they couldn't acknowledge he was still alive, no way to call him or just talk to him unless he visited them. I wouldn't have the strength to do what he did but then I personally thought it was just epically stupid that he did it in the first place."
"What was is he like when he's not the symbol?" she asked after several quiet minutes.
"A prude," said Oliver with a snort of laughter. "He would brood all the time, I mean talk about angst. But really he was nicest guy. He was a guy you just count on to help you, no questions asked. He was a huge football fan, didn't mind the occasional game of one on one on the basketball court. He still eats like a freaking horse. A brilliant actor. I still don't understand how people could look at him on a daily basis and not see he was the big blue. I mean honestly, what kind of disguise is messy hair and glasses but no one ever looked at him twice.
"That's it?" asked Lois. "His disguise was messy hair and glasses? No shape shifting or super advanced holographic technology?"
"I know," said Oliver, completely agreeing.
"Glasses and messy hair?" she asked again.
"But it worked so well," said Oliver. "I was stunned, even I was fooled for the longest time."
"It's not like either of you spent much time together not doing the hero thing," shouted Chloe from the balcony above.
"True enough," said Oliver.
"So what's the story with this place?" she asked.
"This is Chloe's baby. The Watchtower, also her code name. A couple of years ago, just after me and the big blue had started working together we decided that having a way to coordinate would be beneficial, especially as more and more heroes began to emerge. So big blue introduced me to Chloe and the rest is history. Since then this little Justice League has grown a lot with new heroes joining all the time. We even have a few heroes in training."
"I refuse to acknowledge the Wonder Twins as heroes in training," shouted Chloe from her perch above them.
"So they are little rough around the edges, but they are getting better. Besides, they are only kids," argued Oliver, looking up to Chloe.
"See if you say that after I have them freeze all your bows and turn your arrows into chew toys," threatened Chloe.
"They froze one keyboard, it wasn't that bad," said Oliver defensively, the dread on his face though was hilarious.
"Except that my fingers got frozen to it," said Chloe, frowning.
"I thought he said he didn't have any friends," began Lois, "but you seem like you're both friends with him. How is that?"
"We were his friends," said Oliver.
Chloe's previous glare returned full force and she nearly hissed at Lois like an angry cat.
"Then he left behind his human life," added Oliver, the sadness written all over his face spoke volumes. "I mourned the loss of my friend then too. We all did, he brought so many of us together. He showed us how to be heroes, not vigilantes but real, true heroes. And that's all he does anymore, inspire us to be the heroes he saw in all of us."
"He gave up everything for the world," spat Chloe bitterly. "I don't think the world deserves him. Especially some people." She glared at Lois as she said the last part.
Lois felt Chloe's anger and shrunk in a bit on herself.
"Stop that, Chloe," said Oliver harshly. "It was his own fault. He made the choice to let go. It's not our place to judge or begrudge. The only thing we can do is support him until he decides he's ready to try living again."
"That could be hundreds of years from now," snapped Chloe. "I miss my friend now."
"I know, honey, me too. Maybe this whole snafu will snap him out of it though," said Oliver hopefully.
"Or just push him further in the other direction," argued Chloe. "We don't really know what goes through his head anymore now do we?"
"I don't believe that," said Oliver. "I can't and won't. He still in there, he's just hurting right now."
Chloe huffed angrily and turned back to her computer screen.
"That girl he loved did a number on him, huh?" asked Lois quietly.
"You don't even know the half of it," said Oliver, a bit of anger leaking into his voice. He walked over to the bar that Lois hadn't previously noticed. "Want one?"
"Sure," said Lois, watching him pour a golden liquor into two glasses before she even accepted.
Oliver came back and sat heavily in one of the few chairs in the place.
Lois moved to sit on the couch next to him, taking the glass held out to her as she sat. It was an uncomfortable silence that filled the room, only interrupted by Chloe's occasionally cursing at the computer.
Lois let everything she'd learned swirl about in her head. She really didn't know Superman at all the way she thought she did. All of those interviews were just facts, even the few conversations they had that weren't interviews were impersonal and guarded, most of it was just her talking and him listening until he had to leave to save someone. She vividly remembered Clark telling her that she didn't really know Superman and her less than friendly reply insisting she knew him better than anyone else and that they had a strong connection. She also remembered that after that day she didn't really work with Clark ever again, a hello in the morning and a goodbye in the evening until even that faded or did he die and she just didn't notice or care that it stopped. Suddenly she was fighting once again to not cry over her ignorance.
Oliver's phone rang a moment later. "Hey Ruby, is everything okay... We've got a bit of a situation tonight, we'll be late... I'll let her know, thanks again, Ruby." He closed his cell phone.
"Everything okay?" asked Chloe.
"Everything is fine, Clark is fine. Ruby is going to stay with him until we get home."
"Clark?" asked Lois, somehow giving her a bit of hope.
"Our son," answered Oliver.
"Son? You two have a kid?"
"For about three months now," Oliver answered with a grin.
"And you named him Clark?"
"His name deserves to live on even if he can't," snapped Chloe.
"I'm sure he'd have been proud. Clark Queen. It's a good name."
"Clark Sullivan," said Oliver. "We're not married and if my name were to ever get out there I wouldn't want my son to be targeted. Almost no one knows he's my son except for members of the League, Chloe's dad, and Ruby, Clark's nanny. Oh, and I guess you do too."
"Don't forget us," said Martha Kent entering the room.
"Oh yeah, the Kents too."
"Mrs. Kent? Mr. Kent?" questioned Lois in surprise.
Jonathan raised an eyebrow and frowned at her before going to the bar and pouring himself a stiff drink.
"Did he leave already?" asked Oliver.
"Volcano in Sweden," snipped Jonathan. "I can't believe this mess."
"What is going on? Why are they here?" she asked rapidly, then she froze in place. It felt like she had literally been hit in the stomach as she connected the dots. "Oh god... oh god no," she shook her head several times as the shock set in.
Martha just gave her a sad look as Lois began to sob anew. The sad look was also one of understanding. But being the mother she was, Martha tried to comfort Lois through her pain, through her hurt.
The room was silent for a while other than Lois' sobs. Finally Lois spoke, "Did he really love me?"
"He did," said Martha softly. "He tried so hard to get to know you, or rather to get you to know his other self."
"Why didn't he just tell me?" she asked.
"How would he have been able to tell you? You didn't even know him," said Martha, a little more harshly than she meant to.
"He could have, as Superman... or... Why am I so stupid? So damaged?"
"Just goes to show that not only is love blind, it's also epically stupid," chimed in Oliver. "I get the man's point though. You couldn't really get to know him as Superman, but Clark Kent, he's a normal red-blooded American male. He could have friends and relationships and maybe even a family of his own. Then he just had to go and fall for you. All those nights of you jawing to him as Superman, telling him your most intimate of thoughts, how couldn't he have fallen for you? So he decides that he's going to try to get you to know Clark Kent, someone that could love you openly and you wouldn't even give him the time of day. It really is a Greek tragedy."
"And Clark is the punchline," yelled Chloe from her perch above them.
Jonathan nodded his agreement with Chloe's outburst.
"He couldn't ask her to love someone she didn't know," defended Martha. "It wouldn't have been fair to Lois."
"Of course he couldn't, instead he just gives up everything," snapped Jonathan bitterly.
"Jonathan, that's not fair. That was his choice, no matter how foolish we think it was. It's not our place to tell him how to live his life. He's a grown man," Martha bit back.
"Stop, stop fighting," pleaded Lois. "This is my fault. I put Superman up on this pedestal. I never once considered anyone's feeling but my own, believing that I knew him better than anyone despite several people telling me otherwise. I should have known better. I should have been more objective with myself."
"Alright, enough with all the recriminations. We all played our part in this. Chloe and I could have gone against his wishes anytime we wanted and just told Lois the truth, so could the Kents," cut in Oliver, silencing the room once again.
"I wish so much that I had just paid more attention," said Lois, after what felt like hours of silence. "I could have gone on a date with Clark or even have just tried to become better friends with him. It wouldn't have taken much."
"It's too late for all that," said Jonathan sadly.
"I'm going to get some air," said Lois, acting strong as she walked out onto the balcony. She stood in silence looking out over the city below her. Trying to get all of her emotions under control.
"I'm sorry you found out this way," said the familiar voice of Superman.
"So am I," she mumbled in reply. "If that hadn't happened, I never would have known, would I?"
"Probably not," he answered honestly.
"Can I make a request... before I have to become someone else?"
"I'll see what I can do," he replied.
"I want a date with you, the real you. No Superman, no bumbling idiot Clark Kent, but you."
She looked him in the eyes, eyes that communicated so much, such loss and loneliness. She looked at his face and couldn't help but wonder just how blind she was to not see Clark when she looked at him.
"I don't know if I can," he answered softly.
"You can do that much for me, or let me do that much for you. I was such an awful friend, give me a chance to try and make up for it," she pleaded softly.
"I'll come pick you here, tomorrow at noon, meet me out front," he finally said, shooting back into the sky, mostly likely to save someone in need.
Lois let out a small sigh of relief, she would make this right or die trying.
She walked inside and asked for a room to sleep, Oliver was happy to show her the way. On the bed was a small travel suitcase that she knew to be hers. Something she kept by the door of her apartment so she was ready to travel at a moments notice for work.
She didn't question it, she was too tired to question it. Instead she just crawled into the bed and slept, a little bit of hope settling in her heart.
She slept in the next morning, waking up a little before ten. Once she realized the time she started to panic as she got ready for a long overdue date.
At ten to noon Lois was standing at the elevator.
"Where do you think you're going?" asked Chloe.
"I have a long overdue date," she said, mashing the call button several time.
Chloe frowned but held out a remote and pushed a button allowing the elevator doors to open. "You hurt him, I hurt you."
Lois grinned a little and stepped into the elevator. Now she just had hope her efforts to look good for him didn't go unnoticed.