Clark/Lois/Chloe futurefic, angst
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Well, my girl's in the next room
Sometimes I wish she was you
I guess we never really moved on
It's really good to hear your voice saying my name
It sounds so sweet
Coming from the lips of an angel
Hearing those words it makes me weak
And I never wanna say goodbye
But girl you make it hard to be faithful
With the lips of an angel
-Hinder, "Lips of an Angel"
The phone rang, and Clark grabbed it before it woke Lois. Not that anything ever woke Lois, really. She was a nuclear-powered dynamo all day, but once she fell into bed, she was out cold for the night. At any rate, she was in the bedroom, and the sound of the phone ringing out here in the living room shouldn't bother her.
It was two o'clock in the morning, but Clark wasn't tired yet. When he was younger, his sleep patterns had been fairly humanlike, but the older he got, the less sleep he needed. He rarely slept more than four hours a night anymore.
"Kent," he said into the phone, in case it was the newsroom.
A little quiver of awareness passed through him at the sound of Chloe Sullivan's voice. Hearing his name on her lips never failed to make his heart beat a little faster. "Chloe," he said, trying really hard not to sound too happy to hear from her. "Lois is sleeping."
"I figured she would be," she said softly. "I actually wanted to talk to you."
He tried really hard not to smile, but didn't totally succeed. "Okay," he said, sitting down on the leather-upholstered couch. He kept his voice low, so as not to wake Lois up, even though he knew she could probably sleep through an air raid. "What's up?"
"Not much." She sighed. "I just wanted to hear your voice."
He closed his eyes, pretending she was in the room with him. He felt a little guilty at how happy the sound of her voice made him, but he ignored the guilt. He hadn't seen her for months, and he missed her something fierce. They'd been best friends in high school, and had become quite the item in college, and he still found it damn hard not to pick up the phone and call her three times a day, the way he always had. "I'm glad you called, Chlo."
"How are things between you and Lois?"
"Fine," he answered, a little too quickly. "We're great. Just, you know, working a lot."
He and Lois were both reporters for the Daily Planet, and they both worked so hard they hardly saw each other. And sometimes he thought that was for the best. When they spent much time together, they tended to squabble. Always had, always would. Things were never peaceful with Lois around, that was for sure.
"I'm working hard, too," she said softly. Chloe had once worked for the Daily Planet too, but a few years ago she'd moved to Gotham and begun working for the Gazette there. "There are lots of stories here. Gotham's a busy place. Lots of crime. A few vigilantes, too."
"Yeah, I've met one or two of them."
"No kidding." Her voice perked up. "Any secret identities you're willing to disclose?"
"Chloe." He laughed softly, amused by her sudden transformation into an investigative reporter. "You don't seriously think I'd tell you that."
"No, I guess not." She paused. "So how's the superhero thing going?"
"Not so bad." His eyes were still closed, and his mind drifted back to the moment he'd begun the "superhero thing." He'd put it off as long as possible, but once he'd graduated college, he'd decided he had to go to the Fortress for his training. He'd told Chloe his decision, and she'd approved. Which hadn't surprised him, as Chloe had always been the one to encourage him to accept his destiny.
The morning he'd left, he'd wrapped his arms around her and kissed her goodbye, a long, passionate kiss that he could still taste on his lips despite all the years that had passed. He hadn't asked her to wait for him, because he hadn't known how long he'd be gone. But somewhere deep down, he'd hoped she'd wait for him.
Five years later, he'd returned home to discover that she was married to Jimmy Olsen.
He'd tried really, really hard not to take it as a betrayal. But it wasn't easy. She was the one woman he'd truly loved, and through all the lonely years at the Fortress, he'd dreamed of her.
But she'd apparently found someone else to occupy her dreams.
He'd smiled politely when he found out she was married, and tried to go on as if his heart wasn't broken. While starting up his new dual life as a reporter and superhero, he'd run into Lois. She was working for the Daily Planet now, and in some ways she reminded him so strongly of her cousin that he found himself drawn to her. They'd started dating, and he'd married her on the rebound.
It wasn't that he didn't love Lois. Because he did. But he sometimes suspected what he loved about her was that she reminded him of Chloe.
Chloe's voice brought him back to the present. "I read about you in the papers all the time," she said softly. "It's hard to forget about you."
"I see your byline all the time," he answered. "It's not easy to forget about you, either."
"Clark..." She drew in a deep breath, sounding as if she were steeling herself for something. "Jimmy and I have called it quits."
"What? When did this happen?"
"A couple of weeks ago."
Nothing could have shocked him more. His eyes snapped open, and he stared into the empty, darkened room as if he could somehow see her face and gauge her honesty. "Are you serious? But I thought you two..."
Her voice was very quiet. "I didn't love him as much as I thought I did."
He heard the unspoken sentence: I don't love him as much as I love you.
He understood that sentiment. In fact, if he were going to be starkly honest, he could say it right back to her. In that moment he came face to face with the painful truth-- he didn't love Lois as much as he loved Chloe. He never had, and he never would.
"Chlo," he said, his voice choked. "Look, if you're thinking that I-- that we--"
"I'm not thinking anything right now," she said, her voice steadier than his. "I just gave up on my marriage to Jimmy a couple weeks ago. I'm not ready to make any other sort of decision right now. And I'm not asking you to, either. I'm just... telling you what happened."
He stared into the darkness, while longing and emptiness twisted inside him with the force of a tornado. He missed her constantly, so badly he could hardly stand it. No matter how much he tried to focus on Lois when they made love, he still saw blonde hair and big hazel eyes, and once or twice he'd come perilously close to blurting out Chloe's name. He woke up every day missing her, went to sleep missing her, and dreamed of her every night. Part of him-- a large part of him-- wanted to open the window and fly to her, right now.
But he couldn't. He'd been married to Lois for three years, and despite the near-constant bickering, she was a good, supportive, loving wife. She deserved better than to be thrown aside like last week's garbage. Besides, he'd stood up with her, in front of all their friends and family, in a church and uttered vows: For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till death do us part...
A man couldn't take vows and then just forget them the moment they became inconvenient.
"Okay, Chlo," he said at last, fighting to keep his voice even. "Thanks for letting me know."
"Goodnight, Clark." For the first time since she'd called, her voice wobbled a little. And the sound of her voice saying his name that way made his stomach melt. He wanted to fly to her, to take her into his arms and comfort her.
He forced himself to sit still. "Goodnight," he said.
The phone went dead in his ear, and he put it down, then stood up and walked restlessly across the room, staring out into the gray Metropolis night. He and Lois had lived in this apartment for two years. He'd flown out the back window countless times as Superman, then flown back in, dressed in a suit, and gone to work as unremarkable Clark Kent.
This was his life, the life he'd chosen. A life that Lois was a part of.
But part of him was tempted to throw it all away... for Chloe.
He turned and walked quietly into the bedroom. The city lights filtered through the blinds, streaking Lois' face with bars of silver. In sleep, she looked calm and peaceful-- and sleep was the only time she ever looked that way, he thought with a touch of amusement. During the day she was a superpowered pitbull, digging her jaws into scoops and never letting go till she had the full story. Despite her dubious origins as a tabloid writer, she'd turned into quite the journalist.
She reminded him a lot of Chloe.
He sighed, realizing his thoughts had come around to Chloe again. They always did. No matter how much he tried to forget her, he'd never been able to, and he was pretty sure he never would. Knowing that she and Jimmy were getting a divorce wouldn't help matters any.
He reached down and brushed a long brown strand of hair out of Lois' face. She stirred in her sleep but didn't awaken. He looked at her for a long moment, thinking she deserved a lot better than a guy who didn't love her, a guy who'd stupidly married her on the rebound because she reminded him of someone he loved but couldn't have. Vows or no vows, she deserved better than him.
But then he heard his mother's voice, saying something she'd told him more than once in his teenage years: Marriage is sacred, Clark.
He sighed. Damn it, he didn't know what the right thing to do was here. Should he stay married to a woman he didn't love because of his vows, or turn his back on a good, loyal, decent woman because his heart wasn't in the relationship?
He remembered what Chloe had said: I'm not ready to make any other sort of decision right now. He realized he wasn't ready to come to any conclusions, either. Instead of acting on impulse, the way he had when he proposed to Lois, he was going to think this through, long and hard, before he made a decision.
But right now, this was his life, the life he'd chosen, and he was going to go on as if nothing had changed. Lois deserved that much, at least. He couldn't shut her out. She'd done nothing to deserve that sort of treatment. She was his wife, after all... for better or for worse.
He stripped off his clothes and lay down next to Lois.
But when he finally fell asleep, he dreamed of Chloe.