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Déjà Vu: Chapter 23: Issues

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Déjà Vu

Chapter 23: Issues

Lois didn’t know how long she stood there, observing him through the wide windows. Richard sat in profile to her, glancing frequently down the street toward the Daily Planet building. She had parked on the other side of the Starbucks, hoping to arrive ahead of Richard, but she had failed. There had been traffic, and she supposed she could have used the ‘Superman Express’ – but she didn’t really feel right doing that… And so now she stood just outside, her feet frozen to the sidewalk…

Come on, Lane, you can do it, she encouraged herself, although she wasn’t completely sure that she could do it. Maybe we could just disappear – who needs passports and papers when you can fly? Jason would enjoy seeing the world…

It was a measure of her nervousness that she was actually having these thoughts at all. Just because she was known as fearless didn’t mean that she didn’t feel fear. She usually ignored it because her insatiable curiosity and need to get the story had always been far stronger.

Richard glanced at his watch, checking for the umpteenth time. It was probably only a few minutes past the time she said she would meet him, but he had been checking it since she had been standing there… Finally, he glanced in her direction, and she started guiltily. That small movement got her feet going, though. She pushed through the doors with a fresh sense of determination.

Her ex-fiancé half-rose from his chair in deference, but she waved him down, pulling out the chair and sitting. “Hi.” She didn’t meet his gaze as she settled her purse and bag beside her. When she finally looked up into his face, the haggard but unflinching look in his eyes nearly caused her to stagger in her seat.

“Good morning, Lois.” He gestured toward the steaming cup of coffee in front of her, a cappuccino prepared exactly as she liked it.

“Thank you,” she said gratefully, taking a careful sip. Still hot. So he had obviously not been waiting long. At the coffee shop, at least.

Richard remained silent, watching her intently. He was clearly waiting for her to begin the conversation.

So she swallowed thickly. Again, she plucked up her courage. “Richard, it was wrong of me to just run out on you like that, and I’m sorry.”

He nodded, seemingly calm. But his cloudy eyes made reading his mood difficult.

“I realized very suddenly that it was over. I still love you, Richard, but…” She was reluctant to go into any further detail. There was too much at stake. “I didn’t want to commit to something that we would both later regret.”

He remained impassive. Was there bleak acceptance behind that mask? Simmering anger? Despair?

She tentatively reached out to touch his hand where it rested on the table. “This is going to be very hard on Jason. He needs to know that we both still love him, and that none of this is his fault. I hope that you’ll help me explain things to him.”

In a very low voice, he finally responded. “Explain what? That we’re splitting up?”

She began to reply, but he cut in before she could even utter a sound.

“Or that he’s not my son?” He grew louder, and a bitter tone infused his voice. “That you’re trading me in for his ‘real dad’?”

“Richard… I…” she tried to interject, but he plowed on.

“Or are you going to ask me to help you explain the real reason all these strange things have happened to him?” Richard’s voice was beginning to carry. “Am I even necessary? You might as well ask S—”

“Richard!” she hissed, cutting him off. “Keep your voice down!” They were regular customers here. She was famous enough by her own merits that people could recognize her by sight. And her association with Superman had made her even more famous.

A woman sitting behind Richard turned curiously toward their table. Lois gave her a pointed look, and the woman bent over her Frappuccino in embarrassment, deep brown hair covering her face.

Richard quieted down, but the blaze of anger in his eyes dimmed not at all. “Cut the bullshit, Lois. You know that I love Jason, and I would do anything for him. Don’t gloss over the real issue here… you left me for…” he struggled with not saying the exact word, “…him.”

She should have known that her tepid explanation wouldn’t satisfy him. But what could she tell him that wouldn’t compromise Clark’s secret? She matched Richard’s hushed volume. “Richard… I can’t talk about it…”

“And why not?” he grated. “You promised me an explanation. Tell me, Lois. Did you run straight into his arms last night?”

She blushed deep red, taken aback by the venom in his voice. During their time together, Richard had always been so supportive of her, had even let her take the lead in their relationship most of the time… This was going to take some getting used to.

Again, she found herself unable to say anything more than, “I…”

He pressed on with his quiet tirade. “Where does he even live, some sort of space station? Watching over us like a god?”

“No! He doesn’t! It’s not like that at all…” She trailed off again.

His eyes narrowed. “So you do know where he lives. It didn’t take you long to find out, did it?”

Richard had every right to be angry, but enough was enough. Her back straightened, and she matched his tone with a fire of her own. “Nothing has happened between us. Nothing ever happened while I was engaged to you. How dare you even suggest it?” she spat. “We have more respect for you, and for Jason than that.”

At her words, a look of hurt came into his eyes. As insistent as he was about learning whether she had really decided to pursue a relationship with Superman, it still pained him to hear it again. He began to speak in a lower voice. “How much do you really know about him, Lois? What kind of life could you really have with him? And Jason, too?” He leaned closer to her. “How can he do any of the things a normal dad needs to do? He can’t take him to the doctor, bring him along to work, go to piano recitals… You’ll essentially be a single parent, with him off saving the world all the time.”

She suppressed the urge to argue with him. Of course Clark could do all those things with Jason, just not while he was ‘on the job.’ But Richard obviously saw Superman as a being who was off ‘saving the world,’ as he said, 24/7. It would be much simpler to let him keep believing that.

“We’ll be fine,” she said stubbornly.

“And how do you know he won’t disappear again? He left you, pregnant and alone five years ago without so much as a ‘by your leave.’ Have you suddenly forgotten that?” Worry slid across his face. “Does he have some sort of mental hold on you?”

She let out a mirthless laugh at the last part, but rose to defend her beloved. “You don’t know anything at all about what really happened, Richard…”

“Because you never told me!” he interrupted fiercely.

“He didn’t know about Jason when he left. Hell, I didn’t know. We never could have guessed that we were even compatible…” She shook her head, and continued sadly, “I am so sorry this happened. If I had known, I would never have led you to believe he was your son. But you have to see how dangerous it would be for anyone to find out whose son he really is,” she pleaded.

He softened for a moment. “Oh, I understand. I understand very well.” Then his voice strengthened again. “And being with him will subject the both of you to that danger every moment! At least with me, the only father Jason’s ever known, he would be safe from that. Could you live with yourself if anything happened to him?” How can you be so selfish? were the words he left unsaid.

Of course Richard was right about the danger, and Luthor was proof of that. But her eyes blazed in response. Lois held his gaze with firm determination, willing him to see just how serious she was.

He let out a heavy breath. “I can see there’s no arguing with you about this, Lois. You’ve made your decision, and you’ll stick with it. I know you well enough to know that.”

“I have,” she said quietly.

“And if you can’t stay with me, then so be it. I’ll help you tell Jason.”

“Thank you,” she said, relieved.

“But,” he continued, his eyes turning hard, “I think you are making a big mistake. I can’t bear to see you… and Jason… in such an uncertain and dangerous situation. I care about you too much.”

He looked back at her with matching determination, and a chill went through her. She had tried to give away as few details as possible, to try to draw his attention away from the possibility of Superman having another identity…

An anxious knot began in her stomach. Richard rose, picked up his briefcase, and looked down at her before heading toward the door. “Whatever I can do to convince you of that… I will. See you at the Planet, Lois.”

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

A/N: Well, I hope the chapter wasn't too short for you all... I had another section almost as long planned, but I decided the story would flow better if I moved it to Ch. 24. Thank you all again for your fabulous support!

Next: Chapter 24: Worry

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
mark_clark
Sep. 10th, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC)
Lois really wanted to clear the air with Richard about breaking off their engagement and she just wanted to get it over with. Things started off fine between them and then Richard let out his anger, I definitely saw that coming. He does have a right to be upset and he didn't hold back on telling her how he felt. I really liked when Lois fired right back at him. She took quite a verbal beating until she had enough and returned with some fire of her own.

The main reason, I think, that Richard was upset was because of Jason and how he will take things. When people break up and there is a child involved, things are never easy but Jason will have the support of Lois, Richard and Clark to lean on especially when he learns more about why his mother and supposed father broke and learning that Clark is his biological father. I'm glad that he would help Lois explain things to Jason about their break up.

If Richard knew more about who Superman really was, who knows how he would react but I think he would be feeling that Lois is selfish. But, that would be Clark's place to let him know about it because Richard would find it hard to believe that she would be with Clark instead of Superman.

Lois did the right and brave thing in telling Richard that they couldn't be together anymore. You did this confrontation masterfully and I can't wait to see what takes place in the next chapter.
htbthomas
Sep. 10th, 2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
My original idea was to have Richard vent all over her, and then Lois would respond with her own arguments. But betty pointed out to me that she would likely be just as emotional as Richard - and as I wrote it, I knew she was right! In fact, even though Lois can't really explain everything Richard would need to know to understand, she is sure of her decision regardless.

And I think Richard has been formulating his arguments to Lois since he first found out Jason was Superman's son. He does care about him very much, and wants the best. He can't know, since they dare not tell him, why this will be for the best...

bistyboo1974
Sep. 10th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, this was too short! :-P But I understand your reasoning for keeping this chapter focused just on Lois and Richard's conversation at the coffee shop.

I feel for both of them in this.

Poor Richard, for being the guy caught in the middle. He has every right to feel the way he does. That he is so protective of Jason, even after learning he's not his biological father, is proof that he loves the kid like his own (and always will).

Poor Lois. This can't be easy for her, knowing that her actions have hurt Richard so deeply...but living a lie would hurt far worse. I loved when she finally shot back after sitting there taking his verbal assault for the first part of their meeting.

A woman sitting behind Richard turned curiously toward their table. Lois gave her a pointed look, and the woman bent over her Frappuccino in embarrassment, deep brown hair covering her face.

*points and giggles*

Hey, I recognize that lady with the caffeine addiction. ;-) God knew, if ever I was to be immortalized in print, it'd be with a frappuccino in front of me!

Can't wait until your next update... :-)
htbthomas
Sep. 10th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
I wish I could promise that the next chapter is already written, that I just cut the other part... but alas, it's just in my head still. So we'll see if I can get it done in the next few days. I have a couple other writing-related promises to fulfill first!

Look at my reply to Mark for my process with Lois' taking it, then shooting back! :)

I hope I did you justice! I couldn't figure out how to use the "shade off black" description an still make it flow! I'm open to suggestions, so that you are immortalized properly! ;) And what flavor of Frappuccino is it? Hee.
bistyboo1974
Sep. 10th, 2006 11:52 pm (UTC)
I kind of figured you were still in the planning stages of that next part. Oddly enough, I've been writing for my next part this evening. However, when the work week kicks in, my pace will most probably come to a stand-still...as it always tends to do. Unless, all of a sudden, I become this prolific writer tonight, I'm still probably stuck with another weekend update. lol

As for my cameo, I'm just tickled to have been included. *grins from ear to ear* Check out this meme to decide how to properly decide how best to describe my hair color. And flavor for the Frappuccino? My standard is Mocha, however I am really into the Pumpkin Spice they're offering for a limited time these days. I'm an October baby, and I swear my love of all things pumpkin is a direct result of that!
htbthomas
Sep. 11th, 2006 12:03 am (UTC)
I love Pumpkin Spice, too!

That meme was great! I don't know if it helps me... but I will think about it.

Apparently, MY celebrity collage includes Jessica Alba (nice!), Hilary Rodham Clinton (not sure how I feel about that!) and Eva Peron (scary!) LOL!
bistyboo1974
Sep. 11th, 2006 12:11 am (UTC)
I'd be just as happy if you left things as they were. ;-)

And what an interesting combo they gave you for your look-alikes! I'd keep Jessica and ditch the other two! lol
elliania
Sep. 10th, 2006 10:42 pm (UTC)
Wow! I'm wordless! Richard's reaction is so perfect!! I mean, we easily understand his anger!! Maybe this chapter was a little bit short, but it worth enough!!! *hugs* Thank you for this wonderful story!!! ♥
htbthomas
Sep. 10th, 2006 11:41 pm (UTC)
Whew! I'm glad you thought his reaction was correct! He won't accept this break-up easily. And even if he has allowed her to make her choice, he thinks he knows best when it comes to Jason! So the roller coaster starts up again...
sunlike
Sep. 11th, 2006 12:30 am (UTC)
I love your story. And this chapter was another great one. i think it was really necessary of Lois and Richard to sit down and have a real, and painful talking about the future and their current situation. What can I say more? Hell, English is not even my first language so I apologize for not being so eloquent, but thing is... I love your story. :)
htbthomas
Sep. 11th, 2006 12:38 am (UTC)
I am amazed at people who can enjoy my story and are more comfortable in other languages! More than one of my f-list, to be honest. It's so great! I want to hug you all. And then visit and crash in your places with my family for a week or two so we can see the sights! ;) [I have an incurable travel bug. Get that from my mother...she just got back from Eastern Europe, last year was China...] End ramble.

How long have you been following this story? Because this is the first time I've seen you (unless you use another username at ff.net or something).
sunlike
Sep. 11th, 2006 01:43 am (UTC)
Oh, I´ve never commented! It´s the first time actually. I only noticed by the time I joined clois, superman_returns. there was a link to the metropolis.fic and I got hooked on the stories. Then of course, was just a question of tracking them on FF.net where I hadn´t gone for such a long time and now your LJ. :)

Actually, I´m a newbie when it comes to superman. I remember I was very small when I saw the movies with Chris Reeve on the TV and only went to see the new movie last week. when I got home I logged in in my LJ and well, you can guess the rest. :)
ancarett
Sep. 11th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC)
Not too short for what it had to do -- that was powerfully written and well-focused.

Only too short from the obsessive fan of your story who wants to know what comes next!

I love your take on Richard, here -- how he's haggard and hurt, yet he has Lois's drink waiting for her and he worries about her and Jason. He's not a straw man who turns evil or is easily dismissed.

And it was great to see bistyboo1974's cameo. Hee!
htbthomas
Sep. 11th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
Richard is definitely fun to write. I can't make him a 'straw man' as you put it, because he seems to be so much more to me.

I got a review from ff.net where they wondered whether Richard would turn evil! I wish to assure everyone that this is NOT the case, but good men can still cause many problems when they are acting from their hearts.
ancarett
Sep. 11th, 2006 01:17 am (UTC)
An evil Richard would be a betrayal of the character as well as a bad choice for storytelling, I'd think. In the film, Richard is emphatically presented as a good man, the human version of Superman ("he takes me up all the time" "How did you get here? I flew.") -- he's a loving man who's heroic and selfless -- how could he be evil?

It makes for a much more interesting story when you have, as you note, a good man, acting from his heart, who has good reason to try and preserve his family, not just for his own emotional satisfaction, but for their safety. And Lois isn't making it easy, or clear, when she keeps saying things like

I still love you, Richard, but…
therealmarajade
Sep. 11th, 2006 02:50 am (UTC)
Nice change to Richard! He can't be subdued all the time! AND he cares about Jason too much to let him - and Lois, whom he also cares about - hurt himself in a situation that it IS dangerous!

You handled him very well, and I think I've never read a fic where Richards decides to "stay" or to "compete" with Super - he usually just leaves. I like this, even though it will probably be hard to deal with as the story goes!

Can't wait to see your take on it! ;)
htbthomas
Sep. 11th, 2006 09:55 am (UTC)
Richard loves her! And he truly believes that she is making a terrible mistake. If he can convince her of that, maybe she'll come back to him someday.

I'm glad you liked this! It will be complicated... I wonder how the super-couple will handle it?
dissident_dream
Sep. 11th, 2006 07:21 am (UTC)
I like how Richard isn;'t just accepting the fact that Lois has left him for Superman, too many stories just assume that he will placidly accept it which personally I think is crap.

Great conversation between him and Lois and I'm really enoying this story :)
htbthomas
Sep. 11th, 2006 09:57 am (UTC)
I think Richard shouldn't just accept it - but then you have the other extreme where he goes evil (which I promised earlier won't happen). So here I am presenting what I think would really happen. Glad you approve. Of course, it's awfully complicated, and you could NEVER cover all of this in a 2 1/2 hour movie. Thank God for fanfic!
midniterose
Sep. 11th, 2006 08:32 am (UTC)
Great chapter. It wasn't too short at all. It was only focusing on the conversation. It would not been good if it was a long chapter.
htbthomas
Sep. 11th, 2006 09:59 am (UTC)
I am relieved that you agree. I so wanted it to be longer... but I felt going on to the next part would lessen the impact of this conversation. So hopefully, it will flow more quickly because I already have it planned out! Wish me luck!
earlgrayhot
Sep. 11th, 2006 01:19 pm (UTC)
I knew this part would be awsome ... and it is!

I'll come back with more coherent thoughts later ... after I've reread this part many times!
htbthomas
Sep. 11th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
Oo, I will look forward to your coherent thoughts! :D
hanyoulover
Sep. 11th, 2006 07:13 pm (UTC)
It was too short but it gave me a lot to think about.

I really hope things work out for Jason, the poor little boy is caught up in the middle of all this.

Oh and the sexual tensionin the last chapter, OMG I loved every moment of it. I had to try really hard not to start cracking up in the middle of class.
htbthomas
Sep. 11th, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC)
I think giving everyone a lot to think about was a sub-intention of mine. Another good reason to split the next part off - which has a totally different flavor in many ways... *sneaky grin*

If you liked the UST in Ch. 22, just hang on, there's more where THAT came from. :)

Yes, poor little boy Jason. Hopefully the adults will all be reasonable enough to keep him out of it!
coltdancer
Sep. 27th, 2006 02:58 am (UTC)
W.T.F???!! (I really need that icon now...) After bactracking and making sure I still remembered minute details from the past few chapters and finally settling in to read Chapter 25 (despite burning eyes and drooping eyelids!), I found a significant lack of REVIEWING all the way back to this chapter! Criminey.

I chalk it up to the sudden yanking from blueberry-pancake-fantasy-land in the previous chapter...

Tell me I *at least* got to this on ff.net...

At any rate, the trepidation and ensuing tension is no less intense a second (or perhaps third?) read-through later. Dreaded conversation as this may have been, anticipating it has made it no easier to take. I felt defensive reading it, despite Richard's justification. It goes back to a fwe things: 1) I'm a Lois-Clark shipper all the way, so rooting for them and feeling defensive of their relationship simply happens 2) This relationship dilemma is truly not all Lois' fault and not black vs. white and 3) Richard knows not of what he speaks.

All will come to reveal itself in due course, I know...I know...
htbthomas
Sep. 27th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
LOL - Yes, you reviewed Ch. 23 and 24 on ff.net. Not Ch. 25 yet, but I'll give you time... ;)

It goes back to a few things: 1) I'm a Lois-Clark shipper all the way, so rooting for them and feeling defensive of their relationship simply happens

Oh, yeah, I kind of expect people to get defensive... I feel that way, too, but I like tension (as long as it will be sufficiently resolved).

2) This relationship dilemma is truly not all Lois' fault and not black vs. white

Exactly, it's not. And that very grayness is what makes the subject so delicious to me! And Richard... well, you can just imagine how he would react if he found out about the memory wipe... It's not his business, he won't find out.

3) Richard knows not of what he speaks.

But you can understand where he's coming from, right? I mean, look at how much info he actually has!

:)
brdwaybebe
Aug. 1st, 2007 07:32 am (UTC)
Come on, Lane, you can do it, she encouraged herself, although she wasn’t completely sure that she could do it. Maybe we could just disappear – who needs passports and papers when you can fly? Jason would enjoy seeing the world…


Tee hee Superman Express. I love her illogical turn of thoughts about makign a run for it to avoid Richard lol



An anxious knot began in her stomach. Richard rose, picked up his briefcase, and looked down at her before heading toward the door. “Whatever I can do to convince you of that… I will. See you at the Planet, Lois.”


Uh oh. I don't like the sound of that. -bites lip-

htbthomas
Aug. 5th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
I love her illogical turn of thoughts about makign a run for it to avoid Richard lol -- This I love about Lois, and it's something Kate never really exhibited. She's impulsive and a little crazy. :D
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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