"What's so hard about saying goodbye??"
Kal-El blinked, nonplussed. He pushed his increasingly annoying glasses up his nose and fumbled for a suitable response. "Um, who are we talking about again?"
Lois waved her hand dismissively, mumbling that it wasn't important. She tried for the third time to hail a cab, and stomped her foot impatiently when it sailed past. Kal-El took pity on her and whistled for a ride.
A yellow taxi screeched to a halt in front of them, and Lois turned back to him, slack jawed. "Wow, thanks..." She climbed in the cab, rattling off her address to the driver before looking up at her savior with a smile. "Goodnight, Clark."
Kal-El watched the cab pull off into traffic before walking off in the opposite direction, turning off into a back alley.
Moments later, Kal-El was in the sky, gaining altitude slowly. There was no reason to hurry, no catastrophe to avert. Besides, he didn't want to beat Lois to her home, near the river. He chuckled at the unimaginative street name. Riverside Drive indeed. I should call the glacier Solitude Place.
Thoughts of the Fortress flooded his mind. He wished he'd gone there directly from Smallville, rather than trying to return to his life in Metropolis. His bittersweet memories of loving Lois might have remained just that, bittersweet, rather than souring just so after discovering her award winning... what. Roast? Debunking? Exorcism?
He cast his eyes down, hearing the murmered sighs of wonder from the city below. "Superman..."
For people who didn't need him, they certainly did seem to be entranced by him. He shook off bitter thoughts - they didn't write the article, nor did they bestow a Pulizer upon the person who did. It wasn't fair to dismiss their wonder. After all, he did leave them, without saying goodbye.
What's so hard about saying goodbye, Lois? Knowing that the one you love the most doesn't hear when you say it.
Kal-El swallowed back the pain as the memories unfolded in his mind's eye. Revealing himself to Lois, taking her to the fortress, consulting the crystals in confusion over his... feelings, giving up his power. Watching the people he cared for from afar suffer. Cursing his terrible timing, blaming himself for their plight. Realizing all was not lost, returning to his responsibilities. Seeing Lois fall apart under the strain.
Taking her memory of the night he loved Lois Lane.
He hated it, hated giving her what she asked for, what she thought was impossible to have - returning her innocence. Because Lois was never really innocent in the situation, just ignorant. And he'd put her back where she said she wanted to be, back in the dark. It was he who'd lost his innocence that night. He who'd never get it back.
It hurt him to know that he couldn't have her the way he wanted her - completely, open and vunerable. And not because she couldn't be trusted, but because she couldn't stand the burden. He'd made a promise that sad morning, when he brought her the fresh orange juice, that he'd never let her touch him that way again, never let his selfish desires break her spirit again.
Good job on that one.
His mind wandered to another night, the memory of her scent heavy in the air. He tried to push the thought out of his head, but played on, a whole night relived in the blink of an eye...
She'd been staring at the sky that night, as if she knew he was coming to her. She was glowing, happy as always, pretending to know more than she did whenever she talked to him that way.
Whenever she saw her Superman.
And she reached for him, the way she always had before, eyes bright with joy and wonder, turned towards the sky. That night, however, he changed their scattered routine, if you could call it such. He shook his head and kissed her lips. He didn't want to take her up there - he knew he'd keep going, on to the Fortress, into the ship, on towards... hope. He couldn't make that decision for her, but he couldn't take the risk of telling her. He didn't want to be talked out of it.
I should have let you talk me out of it.
She misunderstood him that night. Why else would he come to her, and then deny her the thrill of flight? She'd coaxed him inside the apartment, to her room, the darkness of her bed. He thought about his promise, as she slipped her delicate fingers under his cape, searching for the release.
And when she found it, he came undone, giving into her seduction, allowing himself to be selfish just one more time. To be close to Lois, just... one... more... time...
He caught sight of the river's edge and counted the houses, estimating the address from above. When he found the right one, he pulled back, decending slowly, to hover in a tree.
He didn't know what it was about Lois that made him do these things. He scanned the interior of the house, a smile playing on his lips.
It didn't take long to find the family. The boy was in the livingroom, playing a keyboard, making his demands for dinner. And his parents were in the kitchen... discussing Kal-El. He tuned in, suddenly interested in the turn the conversation had taken.
"He was Superman, the whole world was in love with him!"
Kal-El snorted silently. There's a kid on 5th street who still is... He smiled, recalling the pledges of undying loyalty from a faint voice in one of the cars he'd passed on his way, vaguely listening to Richard press Lois for an answer.
All traces of amusement quickly vanished with her settled response. "No."
Kal-El recoiled, completely stunned. And his damned mind went back to that night, when he'd buried his face in her neck, when he found her soft, floral scented hair, and allowed himself to cry, where his tears would be hidden in her hair, where the shaking of his shoulders would be mistaken for passion.
He cast his eyes down, as if he could fling the memory to the cold water that flowed out to the Atlantic Ocean, to be washed away with his last shred of hope.
This time, there was no flowery hair to dry his tears, only the blast of night air as he fled from 312 Riverside Drive, trying to outrun her words, his memories, the heartache.
There was nothing left for him. No reason to keep trying.
His father's words came to him then, as if Jor-El could feel his son's pain. "I have sent them you, my only son."
Kal-El stopped his ascent far above the Earth, where even the weather satellites couldn't detect him, and listened to the world, a world she said didn't need him.
So much pain and confusion, just like him. So much hurt. Rejection.
The sound of a bank alarm shrilled in his ears as he came to a painful but liberating conclusion.
She might not have loved him those nights when he took her flying, when he showed her his greatest secrets, when he made love to her when he wasn't sure he'd ever see her again, but he loved her. He needed her.
He still needed her.
He needed them.
The other sounds fell away as the alarm screamed an ephiphany.
The whole world was in love with me.
Fuck Lois Lane.
His eyes snapped open. There was something happening down there, a bank robbery in progress. He could do something about that, something concrete. Something that wouldn't be misconstrued or misunderstood.
Superman sped down to the surface, ready to say hello.