CATEGORY: Angst, Romance, Lois/Clark
SPOILERS: Superman I & II and Superman Returns
Disclaimer: You know the drill...
Author's note: My first little offering in this fandom. Many, many thanks for the fab beta to ancarett! Hope you enjoy and feedback gets you the soul of my first born. Also posted to superman_return.
He has a title and with it comes a duty. Sometimes he wishes he could resent the name by which they know him, but he knows it is one he assumed the moment he made the choice to don the suit and grab that helicopter. In one guise he's safe in anonymity, but in the other, the one that inspires adoration in every land, his duty is as indelible as the S emblazoned on his chest. He can't resent the name because it gives them a beacon, someone to save them, but more than that he can't resent the name because of the one by whom he was christened.
When he tries to say it, the word stalls and jars in his throat. It sounds asinine, ridiculous sometimes if he thinks about it too much, but it's a name, one of three, that he knows defines him.
He is Superman, the Man of Steel, Saviour of Earth, Defender of Truth and Justice. He is Kal-El, citizen of a dead planet, son of a dead mother and father, sole survivor stranded on an alien world. But most of all he is Clark Kent, farmboy from Kansas, isolated in the big city, solitary in his anonymity. In that respect he knows his mother had been wrong, though he would never say as much. No matter how much she loves him he will always be alone. What other way can it be?
During moments of introspection, of which there are many, he acknowledges that he has no one to blame but himself. He could've been Clark Kent forever. Ploughing the fields, harvesting the crops. Smallville could have sheltered him, protected him. His strength could have been suppressed and ignored; he could've been the son of Martha and Jonathan and the world would be none the wiser. But each time this thought arises he refutes it immediately. He is the one who is protector and saviour. He's the guy in the red and blue suit who leaps tall buildings in a single bound. No one can shelter him from destiny.
It was supposed to be easy. Mild-mannered reporter by day, enigmatic superhero by night. He thought he could handle the duality, but it turned out the world needs saving 24/7 and what's more he had never factored her into the equation. He'd discovered that playing the role of two people isn't so clear when the woman you crave is in love with one and ignores the other. Even now, after all this time she confuses him; fogs things up to the point where he doesn't know from one moment to the next who he's supposed to be. When he's Clark he wants so much to tell her and yet knows that he never can.
Lois? I never lie.
But the life he lives is the biggest lie of all. Sometimes he wonders if she would want to know. Was she really ready for that? She'd found out once and it hadn't ended well. There had seemed no other option but to let her forget again. Could she recall anything? A flicker of remembrance of the one night they'd spent together? Did the scent of him shift something in her memory? A recollection that she couldn't quite place? Sometimes he wishes he could read her mind.
If she wanted to remember she could. They're just glasses, Clark. Not that complex. If she wanted to see, then she would see.
He knows, though, that it's not so clear cut as that. Not quite so simple as Clark Kent versus Superman. Even Clark Kent is cut in two sometimes. Clark, the real Clark, the one who went to Smallville High, never had to pretend. That Clark could go to Crows games or
hang with his friends without having to act like a nervous klutz so that no one could possibly make the connection. But here in Metropolis he shrugs on a costume everyday. Not the dazzling suit of a hero in primary colours but a costume nonetheless. That Clark Kent is nobody in this city. After all what better way to ensure no one notices your remarkable resemblance to the Man of Steel than to make sure no one notices you at all. That's the way it has to be. No compromise.
But there's always sometimes. Those times when he catches her lost in thought and she has that look on her face that tells him exactly who it is she's thinking off. Those times make him want to wrench the damn glasses from his face and hurtle them all the way to Gotham. It should seem strange to be competing with himself for the love of a woman but he knows that doesn't even come close to the truth. Lois Lane doesn't love Clark Kent. Lois Lane loves Superman. No competition at all.
How it is. How it will always be. But still the thought crosses his mind. What would she do if I tell her? What would she say if she knew? The answers don't come though. His secret remains a secret and the thoughts of Lois Lane remain a mystery.
Sometimes he wishes he could read her mind.