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Birthday fic: Long Past Time, 1/1

Title: Long Past Time
Author: htbthomas
Fandom: Superman movieverse, AU version of “the only decent scene” (according to many Clois fans) in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,050 words
Summary: Led by an impulse she can’t explain, Lois finds Clark in his rundown apartment... and confronts him.
Author’s Note: A birthday fic for januaried, who didn’t make it onto my f-list until a few days after her birthday on Jan. 12th!  So here’s a belated present. ♥ Thanks mark_clark and van_el once again. :)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Clutching Superman’s cape to her chest, Lois lifted a hand to rap sharply on the cracked paint of the door to room number 503.  There was no answer, so she tried again.  Clark hadn’t been to work in several days, but he had to be here.  She somehow knew he must be.  And the reason he hadn’t been seen or heard from in all that time? Well, she had a feeling that she knew that answer as well.

She pulled a credit card out of her purse, and with practiced ease, jimmied the lock.  As the door opened, she heard Clark feebly protest, “Just a minute...!”

A fire blazed in the hearth on the other side of the room, but other than the intermittent flashing of the red neon sign below his window, there was no other light. Clark sat on the couch, wrapped in an old plaid blanket – he startled when he saw her in the doorway, and he fumbled for his glasses. “Uh... oh, Lois! What are you doing here?”

Oh, Clark.  Haven’t we gotten past all of this? “I knew it...” she sighed.

“No, I just, uh, got a really bad flu,” he tried to explain quickly, patting his sweating face with a cloth.  “What do you mean you knew it? How’d you know?”

Lois closed the door behind her, exasperated.  Why was he continuing to pretend? “You haven’t been in to work, you haven’t called the office, you haven’t even called me back. How could you not call me back?”

Clark grabbed a glass of water and took a long gulp as an answer.  Lois sighed, and slid in beside him, setting her package beside the arm of the couch. “Whatever it is, at least you’ve got your reasons...” And I wish you’d share them with me, instead of making me drag them out of you. “But I knew you were here, you know? Somehow... somehow something pulled me here.” Lois looked into his pale, sickly face, willing him to understand the double meaning behind her next words. “I always know when Superman is in trouble.”

“S–Super–Superman?” Clark stumbled over the words, barely holding onto his flimsy disguise.  “Something happened to Superman?”

“You know, everybody’s saying that he’s dead, but... it can’t be true, I just know it.”  She tried to weight her words with just the right amount of pretense.  “I feel it in my heart, he... just needs help.”

“Well, you know, wherever he is, I’m sure he’ll manage.”

And he’s managing just fine right now, is he? she silently fumed. “Well, if he can’t... manage...” she began, her impulse to simply come out with what she suspected and her need to make him tell her himself fighting inside her mind. He just looked so sick and helpless, so weak... not at all like the Superman she’d always known.  “...and if he really is... in-in trouble... then there’s, uh, there’s a few things I’d like to tell him.”

Clark stilled, frowning.  She hoped he would listen carefully to her next speech.  It might make just enough difference. “I’d tell him... that I will always cherish the time we spent together... and I-I never expected anything in return... and no matter how many minutes I saw him for, it always made me happy...” Tears were beginning to well up now – it was long past time to clear the air between them. “And I would tell him... that I love him. And that I’ll always love him.”

Clark’s head dropped at her last statement.  Was that remorse or weakness... or both?

She pressed on.  “And that, whatever happens to the world, I... I know that... he’s doing his best to make sure that it’ll be all right for the rest of us.”

“Wherever he is, Lois, I know that... he would want to thank you.”  Clark looked into her face with tired eyes that couldn’t quite hide his love for her, and gently brushed a tear from her cheek. He patted her hand.  “Listen, I’m um, I’m pretty tired, you know, so I think... I’ll just rest here for a while, okay? I’ll be fine.”  He nodded shakily. “It’s okay. Please.”

Lois began to nod and rise, but then stopped. “Clark... you might be fine, but... it’s not okay.”  Reaching beside her for the package, she placed it gently in his lap. “Whatever happens, you’re going to need this.”

Clark looked down at the folded cape now in his lap and blanched farther.  “But this... what... I don’t...”

“Clark. Please don’t.”  She squeezed his clammy hand, gazing serenely into his bloodshot eyes behind the unnecessary glasses.  “I’ve kept quiet for years, because I know that’s what you wanted.  You’ve always held your duty higher than your personal happiness... and I respect that.  But now...”

Lois reached toward his face, and he flinched back, even after it must be completely obvious to him that she knew his secret.  But instead of removing his glasses, she pushed back the blanket from his collar.  Three bright red scratch marks, a bloody wound from his fight with Nuclear Man, were clearly visible.  The skin around the wounds was becoming gray and puckered. “Now we can’t afford to pretend anymore.  If this is really goodbye... I want to be able to tell you.  For real.”

Clark winced, but then finally met her gaze without squirming.  “You...” Clark coughed, a terrible, rattling sound that pained her inside.  “You never deserved this.  Even if I–I make it through this, I–”

“Hey,” she said firmly. “Stop it. That’s not important to me. You get...” She swallowed.  “You get through this, and we’ll talk again.  If not, well...”  She leaned over and lightly kissed his lips, colder than they should have been.  “I’ll never forget what we had,” she whispered against his mouth.

Clark started to move his mouth weakly against hers, but she pulled back, the tears starting up again.  Then she rose from the couch and fled for the door. As the door opened to the dirty hallway, she could faintly hear him call to her, though the sobs were starting to overtake her.  But she couldn’t bear to turn back.  If he recovered, when he recovered... maybe she would ask him.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Is your birthday soon? Request a ficlet!


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)
Awww.... that would have been the perfect scene to make up for the rest of the nightmare of that movie. Heck, it might have even made up for the Superdickery when he took her flying, told her everything, and wiped her mind again. O_o

Jan. 21st, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, if only...

Thanks for the review, hon!
Jan. 21st, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
*swoons and dies* Ohhh, Barb, you got this one just perfect. I was sniffling before I even got to the end. This scene is such a heartbreaker, especially after the ending to the awful flight sequence. She knows! This is a man who needs to get it through his thick skull that he can have both. BDA! *sniffles and hugs her OTP* You're amazing!

I know that rizny is going to love this, Mom. And I think I may have to mention this little sequence in a chapter or so... *plot bunny begins to nibble*
Jan. 21st, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it so much! I wasn't sure I'd do it justice. Thanks!
Jan. 21st, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
Okay, I've had S4 sitting on my desktop for a while now, I think it's time I watched it. I'll just say up front that I've never seen it before, and have been rather afraid to. But, dammit, I need context! :D

This was really lovely (and sad), tho - thanks!
Jan. 22nd, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
Well, it took this request to actually get me to watch it, believe it or not! Glad I inspired that, but watch out. Pretty bad all told. This scene isn't half-bad - my version takes some liberties, though!
Jan. 22nd, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)

*thwaps the BDA* Owwwie... *cradles broken hand*

So um, what I meant to say was... YAAAAAAYYY!! Revelation FTW! :D This totally makes up for the rest of the horrible movie. Sorry you had to sit through that, but. OMG. *bounces* A birthday fic all for meeeeeeee! Thank you so much!! *glomps you* ♥

*sniffles some more, squishes Lois and the BDA together*
Jan. 22nd, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
:D I love how excited you are. And watching the movie was worth it just for that alone. ♥

Take care of that hand, okay? And Happy Belated Birthday!
Jan. 22nd, 2008 03:06 am (UTC)
Haha, as Lois and Anissa can tell you, I get excited (not to mention confused or inspired) pretty easily! But this is my first-ever birthday fic, so... Thanks again! :D
Jan. 22nd, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
What a nice scene!!! yup that would have made up for that whole horrid movie!
Jan. 22nd, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Thanks! My little scene? It was nice to try a different spin, anyway. :)
Jan. 27th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
Anissa hijacking to beg a favor...

Can we borrow this, a little? I'll send you the beginning of LS' next chapter to show you what I mean, but I plan to have full credit in the author's note and a link on the LJ post if we do... Pretty please? It's perfect.
Jan. 27th, 2008 12:32 pm (UTC)
Sure - no problem! I'll look forward to seeing it. :)
Jan. 28th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
Just let me know when you want to see it, Mom! We're mostly finished with that scene. :D
Jan. 29th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
I'll see it whenever you have it done!
Jan. 30th, 2008 07:36 am (UTC)
Gah, this was soooo much better than in the movie. I started to tear up just from her sitting on the couch!

You very nearly make me wanna watch S4 again, lol. Or at least just that scene...
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:00 am (UTC)
Well, sure, go ahead and watch again... but I changed a bunch of things! It would have been nice to have something like this, rather than what DID happen, huh? Thank goodness for fic. :)
Jan. 31st, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
Yeah I know but at least I could imagine it happening while I watched.

Fic is probably the best invention ever.
Feb. 7th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
Wow, I had to reach back into my dimmed memory to remember that scene. This was very moving and heartbreaking – with Clark steadfast in protecting Lois and ‘the secret,’ and Lois letting all the pretense fall away, and letting Clark know ‘her secret,’ although I sure Clark knows exactly how Lois feels about him. *sniff* Thanks.

Feb. 8th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
I actually watched the movie for the first time in order to write this... well, um, watched parts of it. But why couldn't it have been this way? Would have been a much better ending to the series.
Mar. 17th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
I've never seen the movie! Every time I suggest it my husband shudders and refuses to play along. ;) Nonetheless it's an excellent proof of the idea that a terrible source can lead to excellent fic, because the image of poor Clark all sick and suffering, and Lois trying so hard to get through to him, it painful and wonderful. The little detail of his lips being cold is incredibly moving.
Mar. 17th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
As you probably saw from comments, I hadn't seen it either until this prompt! :D But that scene is worth it, if not much else. :)

And thanks!
(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
*hands over a tissue*

Thank you. :)
May. 20th, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC)
That was so beautiful.
I love it.
May. 20th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think the original movieverse has a grace to it that I strive to capture. ♥
Jul. 2nd, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
Superman 4 fix
Nicely done, Barbara! I know that scene well, and you nailed the best moments and raised it to a level the characters deserved.

I have to admit, I am such a rabid Superman fan that I've watched that stinker a number of times. I just close my eyes to everything that isn't Chris or Margot and that seems to work for me.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
Re: Superman 4 fix
Thanks! It took this request to get me to finally watch, and I still skimmed most of it. :D

Glad you enjoyed my take on it, though. ♥
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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