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Well, here is my latest story. It is set before the beginning of Season Two and it breaks from continuity right after 'House of Luthor.' I will admit to having borrowed an idea from the X Files episode, 'Detour.' Usual disclaimers about copyrights, ownership, etc, apply.

A Question of Trust

Part I:

"My life is an open book, Lois."

"Go ahead, get in bed with the devil."

"Unless it’s lined with lead, don’t bother."

"Lex Luthor, you’re under arrest."

"I lied, I’m not in love with you…"

"My life is an open book."

"an open book."

"…an open book."

"The devil, Lois."

"Get in bed with the devil…"

"…an open book."

"I’m not in love with you."

"Lined with lead."

"I’m not in love with you."

"…don’t bother."

"I’m not in love with you."

"I’m not in love with you!"

"I’M NOT IN LOVE WITH YOU!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Make it stop!" It took a moment for it to register that the sound that had awoken her was her own screaming. She shuddered as she exhaled. A thin film of perspiration clung to her skin and her heart beat wildly in her breast. She sniffed as a single tear rolled down her cheek. She brushed it away but it was soon replaced by another and another. She rubbed at her bleary eyes as she tried to choke back the sob. Her lip quivered and her thin frame shook as she wept silently. She curled up in a tight ball and continued to cry. She cried until there were no tears left to cry, until her body was too tired to exert the effort that crying required. Until she was numb everywhere.

********

"Clark, honey, supper’s ready."

He put down the wrench and wiped the grease off his hands with an old rag. The transmission would have to wait until later. He trotted out of the barn and toward the house.

"Hurry up, Clark, your food will get…"

Clark blitzed past his mother in a blur and returned a few seconds later, scrubbed clean.

"…cold." Martha shook her head as she sat down next to the two men in her life as they began to eat dinner.

"What were you working on out in the barn?" Jonathan asked, breaking the long silence.

Clark quickly chewed and swallowed his bite of pot roast. "The transmission on the old tractor."

"I thought you fixed that last week," Jonathan replied noncommittally.

"It wasn’t shifting right," Clark mumbled. "The gears were sticking between second and third."

"Oh," his father replied. They continued to eat quietly.

"How’s Lois doing, Clark?" Martha asked, broaching a topic that Clark had been studiously avoiding for a while now.

"I haven’t heard from her in a while."

"She’s been through a lot, honey. She could use a friend."

"But she doesn’t want that friend to be me, Mom. I thought things could go back to normal, but all we did was fight."

"Well, you’re going to have to deal with it, the Planet reopens next week."

"We’ll be able to work together, Mom. Lois and I are professionals. I just don’t know if we’ll ever be able to be friends again," he said with quiet, pained resignation. He cleared the dishes and brought the pie out of the oven where it had been warming. He took each of his parents’ plates and set a slice of his mother’s famous pecan pie on it. He took his own piece and picked at it with his fork. He swallowed the last of his buttermilk but it didn’t make him feel any better. What had changed since that time in his life when a slice of Mom’s pie and a glass of buttermilk could solve everything? What was different? Why was it that this new, Lois-shaped hole in his soul couldn’t be healed like any of the other wounds of life? Why didn’t the pain lessen with time?

‘Count your blessings, man,’ he reminded himself glumly. ‘She’s not married to Luthor, is she?’ The ‘it could always be worse’ outlook was doing nothing to make him feel better. On the contrary, it was making him feel worse. It reminded him of that lonely, painful night when he’d watched her accept that monster’s proposal. That night he spent wrapped up in his cape, shouting and crying in the Arctic Circle where no one would hear him or see him, or watch as his heart broke. He’d cried that night for the first time in years. He felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest. He could feel the pain of the gapping wound, of the total emptiness, the loneliness and the rejection, and the knowledge that woman he loved more than anything in the world couldn’t love him, could never love him. She’d pledged herself to his only enemy, to the most evil man he’d ever known. How could she be so blind? How could she love Luthor, or his alter ego, for that matter? How could she not see how much *he* loved her? How good they’d be together? He’d thought about Luthor telling her that he loved her, holding her in his arms, smiling that evil, possessive smile of his. It was like being kicked in the stomach. He was helpless, on his knees, gasping for air. He felt sick and cold inside. He’d wanted to die.

Afterward, he’d been so relieved that the wedding had been stopped, that she hadn’t married Luthor, that she had found out before it was too late that the man she was going to marry was a demonic criminal. She’d been humiliated, and he ached for her, but he wasn’t sorry that the marriage had been prevented. If nothing else, Lois had been protected from the pain and danger that no doubt would have come from a marriage to that heartless pit viper. He would have died to protect her from that. That she was safe should have been enough for him. ‘But she isn’t happy,’ he reminded himself. She still cried at night, which he knew because his nightly patrols usually began and ended with a stop over her apartment. To make matters worse, even if that seemed impossible, she wanted nothing to do with Superman or Clark. ‘Lois, why couldn’t you talk to me? Why couldn’t you let me be there for you?’ he wondered, not for the first time. Her cool and distant attitude toward him was like another vicious twist of the blade buried deep in his side.

He sighed heavily. "Excuse me," he said quietly as he started to clear his plate.

********

As Clark flew off for Metropolis, Jonathan placed his arm around his wife and they watched him disappear into the night’s sky. "It’s about time he went back," Martha said.

"You know he’s been breaking things around here just to have something to fix?" Jonathan asked.

Martha nodded knowingly.

"You think he’ll patch things up with Lois?"

"I hope so," she said. "He isn’t happy without her in his life." She shook her head sadly. These last few months had been so difficult for both of them, especially Lois. That she wouldn’t look to Clark for support was tearing her boy up. But it was their battle; they would have to figure it out themselves.

********

He stepped off the elevator and into the newly remodeled bullpen of the Daily Planet City Room. He walked down the ramp with long strides, toward the new desk with a new computer, and new chair, bearing a gleaming nameplate with his name on it.

"So, uh, where’ve you been?"

His head snapped up at the sound of her voice. Had he been gone from Metropolis so long that he’d forgotten the sound of her heartbeat? So long that he could no longer sense her in a crowd? He turned around, and inhaled sharply. She was even more beautiful than he remembered. More beautiful than she was in the dreams he had on those long, lonely nights since he’d left. He remembered their last fight. It had been stupid and insignificant and trivial. And he’d seen the hurt in her eyes and he’d known that he’d put it there. That was it. He had to leave. He couldn’t stay and keep hurting her. They just needed time apart, that was all. She needed to heal and she obviously couldn’t do that with him around. ‘Say something, idiot!’ his mind yelled at him. "Hi, Lois," was all he managed to stammer out.

"So?" she asked impatiently.

"Huh?" He gave her a puzzled look. Oh, right, where he’d been. "Still in Kansas, I just got back late last night."

"How are your parents?"

"Oh, they’re fine," he replied lamely. "So, how have you been?"

"Fine," she replied crisply. "Just fine."

He’d always thought she was a better liar than that. Maybe she was just too tired, or maybe she didn’t care that he knew she was lying.

"Perry wants us to cover the mayor’s press conference. He’s apparently going to deny the allegation that he’s been hitting on his staffers. Get your stuff, let’s go." Without waiting for him, she turned and headed toward the elevators. He sighed and jogged after her. He missed his best friend.
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Raconteur27

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"Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."

- Winston Churchill