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 Too Many Changes (one-shot)

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Join date : 2010-06-19

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PostSubject: Too Many Changes (one-shot)   Too Many Changes (one-shot) Icon_minitimeFri Aug 06, 2010 4:07 pm

This is a little one-shot that's been on my hard drive for ages. I thought I'd share it here.

Too Many Changes

The Daily Planet was alive with activity. Copy boys were running this way and that, and reporters were readying their stories for the next day’s edition. Clark Kent ignored it all as he typed, his eyes glued to his monitor as he scolded Lois Lane for the fourth time that day.

“Lois, you’re doing it again. Have I grown horns or something? Quit staring at me!”

“I am not staring,” she said once more for the fourth time.

“Is there a new name for it then?” His voice was so characteristically unlike that of the Clark Kent she knew, it was startling. “Why can’t you turn your attention to something useful, like a story?”

“Maybe because I know something is very wrong here, and I’m not letting it go, uh, Lois here. I mean, have you met me? And besides, there are no stories right now—”

“There are always stories—”

“—and Superman has been AWOL lately, in case you haven’t noticed, and there’s a lull in the news cycle. So why don’t you just spill the beans like a good little boy, and then I can get back to what I need to be doing.”

“There’s nothing wrong. I have to finish this.”

She got up from her desk and walked around to stand behind his chair. “Oh, this. Really important, Smallville. Two car crash on Highway 40, no injuries. That should push up sales into the stratosphere.”

“Lois.” He drew the name out into several syllables through gritted teeth.

“Clark.” She said his name with the same stress, knowing it would send him over the edge. If there was ever one person in this entire world she knew better than he knew himself, it was Clark Kent, and she wasn’t about to let him sit here and stew any longer.

“Stop it. What part of ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ did you not understand?”

“Oh, the part where you don’t want to talk about it might be it. Because, obviously, unless you do, you’re going to be the same turkey you’ve been all morning for all of this afternoon as well.” She smiled broadly and was stunned to look down at his eyes to see them glistening.

“Clark, what is it?”

He pushed his glasses back up his nose and turned back to his monitor to avoid her gaze. His reply was only a whisper. “Mom’s selling the farm.”

“What?!” She felt her jar drop. “But when? Why? I don’t understand! How…but…what about Shelby?” She couldn’t even believe that Clark’s dog was the first thing to come to her mind upon hearing such news, but it did.

In the same choked-off sounding whisper, he said, “I buried Shelby three days ago.”

“Clark! Why didn’t you tell me? Oh…” She swallowed hard. To think that he’d been keeping this to himself for that long worried her.

Lois was all action. She grabbed his jacket and scooted his chair back from the desk with one motion. Pulling him from the chair was a much harder feat, but he relented and let her drag him from the room without a word.

“Lois, I don’t think I’m up to—”

“Well, you better start getting up to it, because we’re taking an early lunch, and you’re going to tell me everything. No arguments, buster.” It was the General Lane voice she reverted to when she took control of him. Sometimes he liked it; today it filled him with dread.

“Lois, I—”

“Come. I know you can move faster than this.” She was tugging at him to get him up the stairs and out of the building. Once they were walking along the street, she looked around them, keeping a firm grip on his arm. “There’s a hot dog vender somewhere along here…” Then she spotted him. “Ah, there!”

Within ten more minutes they were sitting on a park bench with hot dogs and soft drinks in hand that were totally being ignored.

“So why is she selling the farm? It was to be yours someday. I don’t understand.” The tenderness in Lois’ voice was unmistakable.

“She thinks it’s keeping me from … well, from doing what I’m meant to do. She said something like that. I think it’s also a bit monetary. Living in Washington is expensive. With me working at the Planet and…well, not being able to concentrate as much on the day-to-day operations of the farm, I think she believes it’s best for me. I’m just…”

“Not sure? Of course, you’re not. It’s a big change.”

“And it’s …well, it’s dad. He loved that farm. How can she…” His words trailed away into silence and he looked down at the hot dog like he didn’t even know how it had come to be in his hand.

“Oh, no.” Lois bit her lip. “There’s more, isn’t there?”

“Yeah.” A few moments passed with all sorts of emotions playing across his face before he continued. “Mom… she’s met someone. They’ve been dating. I’m not at all sure that…” Again, he left the thought hanging in the air between them.

“Do you know this guy? Should we have him checked out? I can run a police report on him, and—”

“I’ve met him. He seems nice enough. I just don’t see how she could—”

“—Get over your dad so quickly,” she finished his sentence easily. “Clark, it has been years now. She is entitled to move on. He would have wanted her to be happy again.”

“I know. I’m trying to be understanding about it, but still…She’s… my mom.”

She enveloped him in a hug then, all notions of lunch discarded and forgotten as the hotdogs and drinks fell to the ground. “Oh, Smallville.”

At least he was allowing her to comfort him. They had begun to grow a little apart lately. She knew the reason, but the knowing didn’t help.

He is Superman.

She’d figured it out one day when she was studying a pile of action shots she was going to use for an article. Among all the pictures of Superman’s heroic saves that horrible day, there was one little, insignificant moment captured by the photographer’s camera. A cute little blonde girl of about six was giving him a flower she’d just picked from a nearby curbside.

Lois had stared at that picture for a good half hour before she’d realized why it was so different from the others spread out before her. It was a good shot. It was a nice little moment. Sure, it was all that. But there was something else about that photograph that was shouting up to her and her alone.

It was the expression on Superman’s face, and in that moment, Superman had ceased to exist standing there in that attention-demanding costume of primary colors; there was just Clark in red and blue.

Lois had been devastated. She’d come to idolize Superman the way so many had. He was like some unattainable rock star in her mind, and, for a time, she’d even forgotten about her feelings for Clark. That was a good thing since he was still reeling from the disintegration or whatever it was that had happened to his relationship with Lana. He wasn’t ready for anyone else to replace her, and she had too much self respect to allow herself to be pulled into that madness.

That picture was now hidden in the bottom of her purse. It was with her at all times. although she doubted anyone else would really see what she had seen in that small picture, it would never be printed, She’d made sure of that, lest anyone else make the same discovery, but there was no way she was going to part with it. It symbolized everything to her - Clark and Superman rolled into one very sensitive, vulnerable human being. Well, maybe he wasn’t exactly human, but there was more humanity in him than in anyone else on this big orb of a planet, past or present, and probably even accounting for the future too.

Now, that big hunk of gorgeous humanity was taking refuge in her arms like some devastated little boy. Thank goodness the world couldn’t see this.

“Clark?” He pulled away from her.

“I’m sorry, Lois. I had no right to—”

“It’s okay, Clark. I asked. You told. We’re friends, right?” She almost stumbled over the word ‘friends.’ It certainly wasn’t what she really wanted from him. But it would have to do. For now. “That’s what friends do for one another. They’re there for each other.”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “There’s just not too many of them around these days.”

“Well, this one is, Smallville. What say we do something tonight together? As friends.” She was quick to say it. She knew it was the only way right now. “What would you like to do?”

That earned her a little smile. “Since when do I get a vote?”

“Since now. How about it? Raquetball? Bowling? Guitar Hero? Veging out in front of the TV?”

“I thought you had a date,” he said lightly without looking at her.

“Oh that.” She had told him that, hadn’t she? Her non-existent dating life always became an elaborate one whenever she mentioned it to Clark. There was no way she could admit the truth to him. “I can cancel. I’m sure Ron will—”

“I thought his name was Phil.”

“Right, right. Phil. Anyway, I’ll call him and cancel, and—”

“No, Lois, I can’t let you do that. These are all my problems right now. I wouldn’t be good company anyway. You need to go out and have a good time. I’m afraid that’s not going to happen to me for a while, not until I work through all this.”

He turned his head suddenly as if he were listening to something. It was the tell-tale sign she now knew that meant someone somewhere needed Superman’s help.

“Well, I better be getting back, Clark. Why don’t you take a few minutes to...um…gather your thoughts. I’ll see you back at the Planet, okay?”

“Good idea, Lois.” He was already rising and itching to be gone. Lois could tell.

“Clark, if you need me, you know where to find me.”

“Thanks, Lo.” Her heart did a tiny flip at the sound of the pet name, but she made herself turn to leave him. Keeping a firm hold on even more of her great self discipline, she did not look back.

There was no point; he would already be gone anyway.

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