Lois (kalalanekent) wrote,

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Illuminated: A Tale of the Multi-verse [Part Two]


Lois blinks at him, startled breathless.  The future he describes seems so plausible that she can almost see it.  How terrible for him to have lost her that way … but he is not the only one who mourns.  “Let me give you some advice, then,” she says, and her voice starts out stable but develops a tremble over time.  “When something called Doomsday lands on your world, don’t waste time trying to find out if it’s sentient, if it can be reasoned with, if it’s just some poor misunderstood alien.  It’s a monster, a killing machine; it knows nothing else but destruction.  So just fucking vaporize the damn thing from a safe distance instead of getting into a fight with something as strong as you are.  You’ll kill it in the end but you’ll take out fifteen city blocks in the process, with dozens of bystander casualties, and once you succeed in saving us from it you’ll be so broken that you can’t even stand.  You, who can let bullets bounce off you and claim that fire tickles and lift an island, you’ll be fucking beaten to death by some crazy-ass monster, and while I’m holding you and screaming for a medic your last words to me will be ‘I’m sorry, I love you,’ spoken around the blood bubbling up between your lips.” 

She’s shaking by then with the anger she never let herself feel toward her Superman, and the last of it she snarls up into his face.  “I’ll break the arm of the poor paramedic who tries to pull me off you, they’ll have to sedate me because I’m screaming at you not to leave me, and after all of that I have to remember to come up with an explanation why my husband died the same day.  I have to grieve for you twice, and I have to remember not to go to Superman’s memorial in Centennial Park too often unless I want those ugly rumors to start again, that I cheated on my husband with a hero, so I spend altogether too much time at what I know damn well is an empty grave with Clark Kent written on the headstone.  It hurts even more to know you’re not there, even in death you’re out of my reach, because we agreed we’d never reveal your secret and I kept that promise.”

So much pain surrounds them both, and he has never been able to bear to see her in pain.  “I’ll keep that in mind,” he tells her softly, gently.  “At least we were together in this world, at least we were married for a while.  At least we had that much of each other.  I had so little time with you, just two days…”

“Two years,” she replies, her voice breaking.  “The best two years of my life, in spite of all the bullshit it took to get there.”  His questioning look brings out the rest of the story.  “Perry sent us on a ridiculous assignment to Niagara Falls to expose some honeymoon racket.  I figured it out then, when you tripped over the stupid pink bear rug and fell into the idiotic Flames of Love but didn’t get burned.  We went to your Fortress and you told me everything, gave up your powers to be with me, and then these jackasses from Krypton showed up…”

“General Zod, Ursa, and Non,” he supplied.  “It happened like that for me, with Niagara and everything, only the way you found out was by shooting me.  When I didn’t fall down you knew it was me, and I was so furious at you for risking Clark’s life.  Then you told me it was just a blank, and realized I’d been outsmarted, but it only made me love you more.  We went to the Fortress and…  Afterward I gave up my powers so I could live my life with you, but Zod and his followers ruined that.”

So close, but not quite the same.  Lois took up her version of the story again.  “Somehow you got your powers back, you beat them, but we had to split up.  The world needed you more than I did, so I let you go.  But it was killing me to see you at work, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t focus, and you decided to steal my memories with some kind of amnesia kiss.”  She glared at him, the steel in her gaze all too familiar.  “As if any reporter worth her salary was going to just accept a two-day blank spot in her memory.  I went to every therapist and hypnotist and everything else until I got those memories back, and when I eventually confronted you, you admitted the truth.  I gave you no choice but to let me back into your life, and you’d never stopped loving me.  Eventually we figured out how to balance the mission and a relationship, and we got married.  Sure, the certificate says Clark Kent, but I knew I was getting the whole package, best friend and top story, lover and hero.”

It’s a sweeter tale than his own, and Kal-El gives her the counterpart reluctantly.  “You and I, after the battle, we agreed to break up, but I could see how much it hurt you.  Always so brave, Lois, no matter how painful something is, you always do the right thing.  You’re as much a hero as I am.  In my world, though, there was so much death, so much destruction, that I didn’t think the world could recover from it.  My solution was to turn back time, back to the moment when the Phantom Zone prison first broke open, and I was there to stop all of that from happening.  In the process I managed to keep you from getting suspicious enough to try the trick with the gun, so for you it was as if those two days never happened.  I was the only one who remembered, and I kept my distance from you after that.  It hurt to see you flirting with Superman and teasing Clark like nothing had changed, because for you nothing had.  So I took a step back, threw myself into the mission, and kept my loneliness to myself.  Maybe eventually things would have changed, but you got sick, and I wasn’t watching you closely enough to catch the symptoms until it was too late…”

He looks so haunted, lost in the remembered pain.  Her heart aches for him.  “It wasn’t your fault,” she reassures him, automatically reaching for his face.  His eyes slide closed in simultaneous agony and relief at the caress.

“There was never another.  Not like you,” he says, voice rough with pain.  His arms slide around her waist almost without conscious effort, the gesture automatic once upon a time.  “I never loved again.  Yes, after you were gone, there were some who…”

“Made the nights a little less lonely?” Lois suggests with a sad, knowing smile.  “Me, too.  None who could replace you, but a couple who at least made me feel like not all of me had died with you.”

“It was like that for me too, with Diana,” he tells her, and sees a flash of jealousy in her eyes. 

“The Wonder Wench.  Why am I not surprised?  She always had her eye on you here, too, but she knew you were mine.” 

“She knew that in my world, too, but she was a good enough friend to comfort me from time to time,” Kal-El tells her with a small smile.  It’s so very Lois, to be angry at a woman in another world who dared lay hands on Kal-El even after that world’s Lois was gone, that he can’t help but be charmed by it.

“That’s what Bruce was to me,” she admits, “but in the end he was just too emotionally unavailable.”

“I had the same problem with him,” Kal-El tells her, and her eyes go wide.  He laughs softly.  “I’m an alien, Lois, why should I subscribe to human prejudices?”

That earns him an eye-roll of epic proportions.  It truly wasn’t an issue, just a surprise.  “Oh, stop,” she scolds lightly. 

“It didn’t last, either.  Now he’s with Diana, most of the time.  They have the … healthiest dysfunctional relationship I’ve ever seen, if that makes any sense.”

“Pretty much what they have here, too,” Lois says.  “Some things are the same across all the worlds, and after you leave I intend to tell Bruce that his inability to maintain a normal relationship is one of them.”

 “You’re welcome to – assuming we all live through this,” he adds quietly.

“Of course I’m assuming that,” she replies.  “You’re here.”  Her faith in him calls up that smile she knows so well, and seeing that look she loves and remembers so much calls up other memories.  “You know, J’onn told me that there are so many parallel worlds out there.  Bruce married Selina Kyle in one and he and Catwoman have a kid, so it gives you an idea of what can happen.  There’s a world where the two of us met in our mid-teens and I helped you come up with your caped persona.”  She grins wistfully at that, then gives a little laugh.  “There’s another where you told the world your secrets and we’re raising a ton of kids.  In another one, you went to find Krypton and I only found out that I was pregnant after you were gone.  And I nearly married someone else.  Just about every other conceivable situation, from what they told me.  So many possibilities for us.”  

Talking about these alternate worlds brings her back to square one, their current situation.  It just doesn’t seem fair.  “But, in the end, we were the only two that wound up alone.  Why?  I mean, what reason, other than for us to be the sacrifices in this battle probably, was there for…”  Her expression clouds all the more then, trailing off as a ghost of a thought whispers through her mind.  For the second time that day, she forgets to breathe.

For a long moment they simply look at one another.  Different lives, different worlds, but so much the same.  Her eyes have the exact same mixture of amber and green, for which hazel is too plain a word, and his one unruly lock of hair falls precisely where she remembered it.  Different people, but yet again, so very familiar.

Slowly, so she can pull away if she wants, he slides one hand up from her waist to the back of her neck.  It was always one of her sensitive places, and as he rubs gently at her nape, her eyes slide closed just the way he remembers.  From there it’s a foregone conclusion, and as he leans down she’s already lifting her face up.  Their lips meet, hesitant at first, and then she stands on tiptoe to kiss him more thoroughly. 

He takes her in his arms and lifts her up, still kissing her.  This, they don’t need to discuss; they both know what they want and need from each other.  Tonight, for this one night stolen out of time, he has his Lois back, and she has her Kal-El.

 In Watchtower security central, Bruce smiles at the image on the screen as Kal-El carries Lois out of the frame.  Two sundered halves have found their way back together at last.  “Well done,” he says, and offers his hand to J’onn for a congratulatory shake.

Time waits for no one,
So do you want to waste some time,
Oh, oh tonight?
Don't be afraid of tomorrow,
Just take my hand, i'll make it feel so much better tonight

Suddenly my eyes are open,
Everything comes into focus, oh,
We are all illuminated,
Lights are shining on our faces, blinding

Swing me these sorrows,
And try delusion for a while,
It's such a beautiful night,
You've got to lose inhibition,
Romance your ego for a while,
Come on, give it a try

Suddenly my eyes are open,
Everything comes into focus, oh,
We are all illuminated,
Lights are shining on our faces, blinding
We are, we are, blinding,
We are, we are, blinding...

~Hurts, Illuminated
Tags: illuminated, oneshot
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