Pairing/Characters: Clark Kent/Lois Lane
Word Count: 3063
Summary: A sad anniversary, a broken locket, and a talk that promises a brighter future.
A/N: for the poetry_fiction 2021 challenge; prompt: I'll be the things
left behind for you, I'll be much kinder
then. I'll kiss the drowning atmosphere
all a summer's afternoon, and that's not all.
The rooftop of the Talon was quiet and peaceful and yet the silence wasn’t at all comforting. It was still better than being alone inside her apartment, since Lois couldn’t bring herself to be around other people, which is why she had been actively avoiding her friends all day. Well, for the past two days really.
She didn’t actually like being alone, but she needed the space. The downside of making that decision was that she had to turn down dinner at the Kents, and as much as she regretted missing out on Mrs Kent’s cooking, she knew she wouldn’t be very good company.
Glancing down at her phone, she swallowed down the disappointment as she realized that the two people she hoped would call yet knew probably wouldn’t hadn’t. She shouldn’t be surprised; after all, it’s not like her dad or Lucy had acknowledged this day, but Lois’s stupid hopeful heart wouldn’t let her give up.
You’re a sad fool. Which wasn’t anything new and likely wouldn’t change. She finally pocketed her phone, accepting defeat, as her other hand fingered a broken locket, the metal chipped and the chain having snapped years ago. It had been her mother’s, and it was one of the few things she carried around wherever she went. While Lois didn’t have that many memories of her mom, she remembered her wearing the necklace all the time, pictures of her family kept inside, always close to her heart.
Lois herself had never worn it, but she also couldn’t let go either. Letting go was never her style. Then again, it felt like she was the one people let go of, as everyone else always left her behind, from her family to the men she dated. Staring out into the night sky, she wondered if she was just destined to be alone, her heart aching at the thought, feeling as cracked and chipped at the locket in her hands.
Yet, unlike the locket, she wasn’t sure if she even wanted to be fixed, just accepted for who she was, broken parts included, but at this point, that seemed like a pipe dream. As if anyone wants to sign up for that.
A sudden noise shook her out of the path she was on, and she spun around, ready to snap at whoever dared to interrupt her solitude. Much to her shock, it was none other than Clark who had entered through the door leading to the rooftop, carrying a white plastic bag in his hands.
“Smallville,” she said, surprised evident in her tone and expression. “What are you doing here?”
He shrugged, making his way to her, and offered her the bag. “Mom felt bad that you missed dinner tonight and she sent me over here with some food.”
Feeling touched, Lois’s lips curved into a smile at the thought of Martha Kent’s generosity. The other woman had been nothing but kind to her, and more welcoming than she deserved. She and Jonathan both, and Lois felt an ache in her heart as she remembered him, still not completely over the pain of his sudden death.
Their fingers brushed as she accepted the bag, causing an unexpected spark ran through her spine, and she barely refrained from jerking her hand away at the feeling. Keeping her expression as neutral as she could manage, she moved her hand away, fingers clutching around the plastic straps.
“Thanks,” she said, hoping she didn’t reveal anything in her voice or facial expression. “Got stuck playing delivery boy then?”
“Something like that,” Clark replied, shoving his hands in his pockets. “We haven’t seen you around in a few days so I figured I would drop by to see what’s up.”
“Aww, Smallville, I didn’t know you would miss me that much,” Lois teased.
“I never said I missed you,” he protested. “Just making sure you were still in one piece. I’ve seen the trouble you can get into on your own.”
“And you were worried about me,” she said triumphantly. “No need to hide it. I’m touched, truly.”
He rolled his eyes, and she smirked, already feeling better.
“More like the house was quiet, and the fridge was full for once,” Clark countered.
“With you around?” she retorted. “I doubt it.”
“And Shelby might have missed you,” Clark continued, as if he hadn’t heard her. “But he likes to chase his own tail, so there’s really no accounting for taste on his end.”
“Jealous your dog likes me better?” Lois asked. “Don’t worry, I’ll visit soon.”
“I’m sure he’ll be relieved,” Clark said, dryly, leaning against the railing.
“I know he’s not the only one,” she said, nudging him.
“Yes, I was terrified that you had found someone else to harass,” Clark remarked, glancing at her out of the side of his eye, his lips twitching into an easy grin, which she couldn’t help but return.
“Don’t worry, Smallville, I’ll never replace you,” she promised, realizing that she was only half joking. She couldn’t imagine her life without him anymore, and it was a pretty terrifying thought that she decided not to linger on.
“Well, now I can sleep at night,” he said, fortunately oblivious to her line of thinking.
“That’s what I’m here for,” she managed, as her fingers stroked the locket unconsciously.
Clark let out a chuckle, his eyes drawn to her hand, his gaze turning questioning.
“That’s nice,” he commented, gesturing to her locket.
She lifted it up and gave a half hearted smile. “Don’t lie, Smallville, I know it’s seen better days.”
He shrugged. “But clearly it means something, right? Which is more important than how it looks.”
Taken aback, she could only nod. Composing herself, she said, “Who knew you were so deep?”
“I have layers,” Clark replied easily. “Have to keep you on your toes after all.”
“Let’s not go too far,” she warned. “My toes are firmly planted on the ground.”
“Worth a shot,” he responded, with a cheeky smile. “So …” He gave her an expectant look, pointedly glancing at the necklace. “Is it a deep dark secret?”
She bit her lower lip. “Nothing that exciting. It was my mom’s.”
“Oh.” Clark’s expression immediately went sympathetic, almost apologetic. She could easily say she didn’t want to talk about it, and she had faith he would drop it, and they could immediately go back to making fun of each other, or he would even leave, but for some reason, she felt the need to share.
“She, um,” Lois looked down, “it’s actually the anniversary of her death today.”
Clark placed his hand on her arm, and Lois automatically leaned into it, comforted by the touch. “I’m sorry,” he told her.
She forced a smile. “It was a long time ago.”
“Pretty sure there isn’t an expiration date on grief,” Clark replied.
“Yeah,” she said, a touch of wistfulness in her tone. “Anyway, that’s why I missed dinner. I get kind of moody this time of year, and I didn’t want to bring you all down too. Just thought it’d be best to be alone.”
“I can leave if you want?” Clark offered.
She shook her head. “No, you can stay.”
He moved closer, dropping his hand, and Lois kind of hated herself for missing the touch almost immediately.
“Just because you think you should be alone doesn’t mean you have to be or even want to be, from what it sounds like,” Clark said. “You don’t have to protect us from you.” Offering a teasing smile, he added, “We can handle a little grumpy Lois. I have seen you in the morning before you’ve had your coffee after all.”
Suddenly feeling self conscious, she just shrugged. “I mean, it’s not been that long since …” She trailed off, unable to finish the sentence. “Well, the point is you are both going through your own stuff. Doesn’t seem fair to burden you with something that happened a long time ago. I’m not that selfish.”
Clark frowned. “Lois, I would call you a lot of things, but selfish isn’t one of them.” His face relaxed for a moment. “Well, when you’re not using up all the hot water anyway.”
She let out a small laugh, and watched as he grew serious once more.
“Look,” Clark said, taking a deep breath, running a hand through his hair. “I miss my dad. I’m always going to miss my dad, five months from now or even five years. I would hate it if I was told I can’t be sad about it, just because it’s not as recent as someone else’s loss. I’d never do that to you, and mom wouldn’t either.”
“He was a good man,” she said quietly.
“And I’m sure your mom was a good person too,” Clark replied sincerely.
Lois felt her throat tightened, grateful for Clark’s kindness, which she had witnessed first hand more times than she could count. He was a little weird sometimes, and could drive her crazy on any given day, but overall he was a good man too.
“She was,” she confirmed finally, unable to stop the tears from springing to her eyes. “I miss her.”
To her surprise, Clark didn’t say anything, just pulled her in his arms, and she felt herself sink into his embrace, the tears that she had been holding back falling down, finally letting her grief and disappointment go.
Clark didn’t judge her, just stroked her back, until she sniffed and slowly pulled away.
“Are you okay?” he wanted to know, and she nodded, wiping her eyes.
“Looks like you went from delivery boy to glorified tissue,” she said, gesturing to his shirt.
“Told you- I have layers,” he claimed, looking down at the wet spot. “And I have other shirts.”
“Yeah, do you buy those in bulk or something?” Lois asked, doing her best to pull herself together once more.
“No comment.” He raised an eyebrow. “There are a few flannel ones that have suspiciously gone missing though since you moved out. Know anything about that?”
“Nope,” she said, giving him her best innocent look, leaning over to lightly punch him in the arm. “Besides, finders keepers, losers weepers, Smallville.”
“I don’t think that’s how that works,” Clark said, but he was smiling. “Did you want to stay out here?”
“Nah,” she decided. “I think I’m done now. I wouldn’t want you to get too cold.” She started heading toward the door, and Clark followed her.
“You’re all heart,” he remarked, as they headed inside, and back to her apartment. Once they were inside, she set the necklace down on a coffee table, and the food on top of the counter.
Turning back to Clark, she asked, “Do you have to head out?”
“If you want me to go, I can, but I can also stay,” Clark replied.
“I was just planning on watching a movie,” she said nonchalantly.
“Something with sharks or lots of blood and gore?” he questioned, amused.
“I’ll have you know I was watching Star Trek earlier,” she proclaimed, and then wrinkled her nose at the admission. He always got more information out of her than she was comfortable with.
“I wouldn’t have guessed you were a Trekkie,” Clark commented, raising an eyebrow.
“My mom was a fan” she admitted, taking a seat on the couch. “She liked the idea of there being life in outer space, and that there could be peace between humans and aliens.”
His expression turned unreadable, and she wasn’t quite sure what to think about that. “Oh yeah?” he said.
“Yeah, I never quite knew if she was serious or not,” Lois explained.
“What about the rest of your family?” Clark asked, taking a seat next to her.
“Who knows what Lucy thinks?” Lois sighed. “Don’t even ask the General about this stuff though. One mention of Area 51 or aliens and you can get that vein in his forehead to show up in five seconds flat.”
“What do you think?” Clark asked, and Lois wondered why he cared so much. His expression was serious, almost as if her answer meant something more, which was obviously ridiculous. He was probably just trying to distract her.
“Once upon a time, I would’ve said it’s nonsense,” Lois responded. “Now- who knows?” If he was going to be patient with her, she might’ve well give him a real answer instead of a sarcastic remark.
“Not afraid of being kidnapped in the middle of a corn field?” Clark joked. “Have your brain probed?”
“Nah,” Lois said dismissively. “Besides, humans can be pretty awful. Who says the aliens will be bad guys bent up on taking over Earth? Maybe they just might be looking for a home … somewhere to belong.”
Clark was silent long enough for Lois to look up, worry running through her veins, and his expression was filled with something, if she didn’t know better, was gratitude. It was a look she wouldn’t understand for years. As of right now, she dismissed the idea. After all, she hadn’t said anything for him to feel that way.
“Should I ask you if you’re okay?” Lois quizzed, and he seemed to find himself, and immediately shook his head, expression clearing.
“No, just thinking about how it turns out that I’m not the only one with layers,” Clark responded, with an easy smile.
“What can I say?” she offered. “I like to keep you guessing, Smallville.”
“I take it you haven’t shared those ideas with your dad,” Clark suggested.
Lois snorted. “Are you kidding me? I just mentioned the vein, didn’t it?”
“Have you heard from them-?” Clark trailed off when he saw the look on her face. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” she said. She picked up the necklace once more, keeping her eyes focused on it. “I never do. I am used to it. I’m better off alone anyway.”
Clark’s hand covered her’s. “You’re not alone.”
“So you keep reminding me,” Lois said. “I’m starting to wonder if I should take it as a threat.”
“Take it any way you want,” Clark responded. “Still won’t stop it from being true.”
“Guess I can deal with that,” she allowed. “So you can stick around then.”
“I’m honored,” Clark said dryly. He pointed at her necklace. “Have you ever worn that?”
“No,” she said. “As you can, it’s kind of broken.”
“Can easily be fixed,” Clark pointed out.
“I’m pretty broken too,” she murmured, without thinking. “Can I be fixed?”
“I don’t think you need to be,” came Clark’s response, and that was when, much to her horror, she realized she said that out loud.
“Oh, please, like you wouldn't make a few changes,” Lois said, as dismissive as she could, hoping she kept her feeling off her face for once.
“Nah, I think I like you as you are,” Clark insisted.
“Even when I bully you and steal your shirts?” she challenged.
“Yeah, even then,” he replied, eyes twinkling. “Besides, I’m flattered. Clearly I have better fashion sense than you will admit.”
“Whatever, they’re just comfortable,” Lois said, infusing some haughtiness in her tone. “Don’t get a big head over it.”
“No promises,” Clark retorted. Softening his voice, he added, “We’re all a little broken, Lois. Doesn’t mean we need to be fixed.”
She cleared her throat. “Whatever, Smallville.” Leaning over she punched him lightly on the shoulder. “Don’t go getting all sappy on me.”
He let out a laugh. “I wouldn’t dare.”
Popping up from the sofa, she said, “Want to watch that movie now? I am suddenly in the mood to see something with lots of violence.”
He thankfully let her change the subject, even if the transition wasn’t her best work. “Sure.”
“I’ll get the popcorn!” she said, making her way to the kitchen, gathering some snacks and drinks for the two of them while the popcorn bag was in the microwave.
Plopping back down next to Clark, she grinned and he smiled back. He didn’t even complain when she popped in The Amityville Horror dvd that she had rented recently, the two of sitting in mostly a comfortable silence as the movie played.
At one point, she leaned close and told him softly, “Thanks, Clark.”
“Any time, Lois,” he replied kindly.
He stuck around for a second movie, but she fell asleep halfway through, only to wake up in the middle of the night to an empty apartment, a pillow under her head, and covered by blanket. Clearly Clark had some of those caretaker instincts, and she really shouldn’t be surprised at this point.
She fell asleep again, with a smile on her face, feeling better than she had in awhile.
And two days later, she would walk into her apartment to see her broken locket on the table, suddenly fixed, still with its original chain, just shinier and no longer with cracks. The fact Clark would go through those efforts for her left her more than a little overwhelmed.
How he got in and out of her apartment that easily, she didn’t want to know, but she was grateful and didn’t ask.
And she’d wear it to see the Kents the following day.
“That’s a nice necklace,” Martha commented, as she passed. Clark’s smile seemed to widen upon seeing her with it, and she returned the smile, keeping her gaze on him.
He seemed to get the message.
And Lois realized when he said he wasn’t going anywhere, he meant it.
Which he would continue to prove in the years to come, even when she realized he could no longer fit in the friendship box she had put him in. Falling in love and letting him in completely wasn’t easy, but she’d find it was more than worth it.
Clark was there for her for her good days, as well as the bad ones, never forgetting that anniversary, or really any other ones. And when she would wake up in the middle of the night, feeling off, she could just roll over and snuggle closer to Clark, who was always ready with open arms and a heart that she would eventually accept was her’s and only her’s.
Maybe she was broken, maybe they both were a little broken really, but their broken pieces seem to fit together, and he did accept her for everything she was and wasn’t.
And it turned out she wasn’t meant to be alone after all.