Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This is Your Life, Chapter 3

Futurefic
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me

At the hospital, they were questioned by the police, who looked dubious but didn't arrest them for breaking and entering, much to Clark's relief. Lois-- no, Chloe-- was kept in the hospital overnight for observation. Clark slept on the couch in her room, watching over her.

In the morning, Clark brought her back to his dorm room, where they had to deal with Chloe and Lois' family. After some discussion, they decided they had to tell her father and uncle the truth.

"But you can't tell anyone but Gabe and Sam," he told her firmly.

She bit her lip in a typical Chloe gesture. "I can't go through my life as Lois Lane, Clark."

"You don't have any choice." He stared into her eyes, trying to make her understand the gravity of the situation. "You have Lois' fingerprints. Her face. There is no possible way of proving you're anyone but Lois Lane, Chlo."

"I don't have any of her memories."

"You're going to have to bluff, Chlo. You have to. I know you're upset, and I know you're grieving for Lois, but think it through. If you claim to be Chloe Sullivan, you're going to wind up in Belle Reve."

"Maybe I should just keep it from my family, too."

"What, and have Gabe believe his daughter died last night? And have Sam believe his daughter is still alive? You can't do that to them, Chlo."

"No," she said softly. "I guess not."

"They'll keep your secrets. They're family."

No one believed the story at first, but Chloe patiently recited incidents from her childhood until they accepted the truth. Sam broke down in tears, Gabe sobbed, and Chloe cried too, while Clark held her.

"I know it's not a lot of consolation right now," Clark told them, as gently as he could, "but Lois gave her life to protect others. Judging from the files, it looked like an awful lot of people had been experimented on against their will. No one else will ever have to go through those experiments. The crystal they were using is gone for good... thanks to Lois."

Chloe looked at him, lifting her eyebrows, and he shrugged a bit. So he was bending the truth just a little. They both knew Lois hadn't grabbed the crystal out of a desire to save anyone, but out of a desire to make the front page. But that didn't matter. Regardless of her motives, she'd put an end to this particular group of LuthorCorp experiments.

And if he knew Chloe, eventually all of LuthorCorp's experiments would be exposed, bringing them to an end.

*****

"You have got to stop calling me Chlo."

Clark looked up from his ham and pineapple pizza. Since no one knew who she was, he couldn't really be seen dating her for several months, at least. He wouldn't dishonor the memory of "Chloe Sullivan" that way, wouldn't let people think her boyfriend had loved her so little that he'd moved on to her cousin only a day after she'd died.

But he wasn't going to stay away from Chloe, either. So they were sharing a pizza in the privacy of his dorm room.

"It's your name," he said reasonably. "Like I said before, you can't go by it publicly, but I've called you Chlo for nine years. I'm not going to stop calling you that."

"You have to." She took a bite of cheese pizza. "You're going to slip up and call me the wrong name in front of people, and they're going to start wondering."

"I am not calling you Lois."

She tilted her head, considering the matter. "Call me Lo, then. It's close to Chlo, which is what you've always called me. And it's enough like Lois that it won't raise any flags."

"Lo." He tested the name, then shrugged, realizing that he had to protect her secret now, the way she'd always protected his. "Okay. I'd rather call you by your real name, but I guess you're right. That's not such a great idea. I don't want you to wind up in Belle Reve."

"You and me both, farmboy." She wiped the grease off her fingers, then slid closer. "Now, about us..."

She put her arms around his neck, pressed her breasts against his chest, and lifted her head for a kiss. He looked down into blue eyes, totally unlike the hazel ones he'd fallen for, and he froze.

"What's wrong?"

"You're not... I don't..." He stammered awkwardly to a halt, unable to articulate what was bothering him.

"Clark," she said, very gently. "I'm the same person I always was. Remember how you felt when you were inside Lionel's body? It was still you, right?"

He nodded mutely.

"Same thing. It's me, Clark. I'm the same person I always was. Only the packaging has changed."

She lifted her face and brushed her lips across his, and all of a sudden he jerked away from her and stumbled away.

"I'm sorry," he said, his voice rough. "I just... I just can't, Chlo. I mean, Lo. I..." He looked at her, and all of a sudden his eyes brimmed with tears. "I feel like I'm betraying you with Lois. It just feels wrong."

He was uncomfortably aware he was acting like a world-class jerk. She was grieving for her cousin's death, and she needed consolation. Besides, she probably needed reassurance that he really loved her, that even though she was in a totally different body, nothing had changed between them.

But he couldn't touch her that way. He just couldn't.

She looked at him with compassion. "It's okay, Clark. I understand."

"I'm sorry," he said wretchedly.

"No need to apologize." She sighed. "This is going to be a hard transition for all of us, I think."

*****

Two days later, they attended the funeral of "Chloe Sullivan," and "Lo" wept for her cousin, who couldn't even be buried under the right name. Clark cried at the funeral too, but for different reasons. He'd been moderately fond of Lois, but the person he was really grieving for was Chloe.

Even though he knew Chloe was right beside him, in a taller, darker-haired guise, he couldn't stop himself from grieving for the girl he'd known since middle school, the girl who'd fit right under his chin, the girl with blonde hair and three little moles on her left cheek. He knew Chloe was still here, and yet he couldn't help feeling the loss of her wide, toothy smiles and her big hazel eyes.

He loved her for what she was inside, not for what she was on the outside-- and yet he missed the smile he'd always known.

It took him two weeks before he could kiss Lo, and another month after that to be able to make love to her. The first time he made love to her, he wept afterward, consumed by an irrational self-hatred and guilt, convinced that he'd somehow betrayed the woman he loved. But she held him, and stroked his hair, and whispered his name, and eventually his tears faded.

It took him a while, but he finally began to accept emotionally that Chloe was Chloe, no matter what she looked like. She was the very same girl he'd been best friends with since middle school, the very same woman he'd looked at one day and realized, with shock and wonder, that he'd somehow fallen in love with her without noticing it.

The way she looked wasn't important. What mattered was who she was. And she was still the woman he loved. She'd always be the woman he loved.

"Lo" went back to work at the Inquisitor. She was disgusted by the necessity, since Chloe Sullivan had been working her way up the ladder at the Daily Planet, and had recently obtained a desk beneath the Tiffany lamps of the bullpen. But as far as the world was concerned, Chloe Sullivan was dead, and Lo couldn't just step into her shoes at the Planet. Lois Lane was merely a tabloid writer, and no editor at the Planet would dream of hiring her.

But Lo wasn't Lois Lane, no matter how much she looked like Lois on the outside, and she confronted her editor on the very first day, informing him that she was no longer going to write sensationalistic crap. She'd be writing serious news stories, and he could either accept it, or fire her ass.

Clark was a bit surprised when she came home elated that evening. The editor not only hadn't fired her, he'd promoted her.

Lo began researching and writing real stories under the byline Lois Lane, the same sort of stories that Chloe Sullivan had been becoming famous for before her untimely demise. Over the next year and a half, she published a series of exposes on LuthorCorp (aided by information from a nameless inside source, who Clark knew was Lionel). Her stories put an end to their shady experiments forever.

In the meantime, Clark graduated, moved in with Lo in an apartment in downtown Metropolis, and began work at the Daily Planet. Lo congratulated him, but he could tell she was somewhat miffed by the news.

"I write better than you do," she grumped in bed that evening. "And I'm stuck at the Inquisitor."

He flashed his widest, most cocky smile, because he knew it annoyed her. "You don't write better than I do. Perry says my prose is poetic and Pulitzer-worthy."

"Oh, he does not." She tossed a pillow, which he adroitly ducked. "He just hired you because you type fast."

"That's part of it, sure." He straightened up, grinning. "You may write better than I do, but you can't get near my typing speed."

"No one can get near your typing speed." She cocked her head. "So tell me, Clark, when are you going to do something with those superpowers besides typing really fast?"

He looked away from her frank blue eyes. "I try to help people as much as I can," he said. "But I've been really busy with college and everything..."

"Excuses, excuses. You and I know that journalism isn't going to be the end-all and be-all for you, Clark. It's a good job, and investigative reporting is important, but you're capable of a lot more."

He rolled his eyes. "I guess you want me to put on a cape and a mask and start flying around saving people."

She chuckled. "I know you hate masks. But a cape's not a bad idea. I thought you looked pretty damn hot as Zorro."

Her reference to a Halloween party they'd attended, years ago, made him laugh. But her words rolled around in his head, and he couldn't quite get rid of them, even though he tried.

He helped people whenever he could, but it was crazy to think about deliberately moonlighting as some sort of superhero. He had a new job, and he really needed to impress his editor. Ducking out whenever there was an emergency was not going to endear him to Perry White.

But the more stories he wrote for the Planet, the more he realized there were people out there who really needed him.

"Look," he said one night, about six months later. They'd just made love, and he was stark naked, but she'd pulled a nightgown on afterward. "I'll take up the superhero gig, if you go ahead and apply to the Daily Planet. You and I both know that's where you belong. It's where you've always belonged."

She bit her lip. "I can't, Clark. When I took on Lois' life, I took on her history. I have five years' worth of writing for the Inquisitor on my resume, and only the last two are mine. As far as Perry White knows, I wrote stories on Bigfoot and Nessie. He'll never take me seriously."

"Tell him the truth."

She looked at him askance, and he shrugged. "Okay, not the whole truth. Tell him you woke up one day and realized that real journalism was important, and you changed the way you write. Show him your most recent articles. Hell, he's probably seen them. Everyone's seen them." He reached over and took her hand. "Anyone who can write that well should be working for the Planet, Lo. You and I both know that."

She heaved a long sigh. "And if I try this, you'll take on the superhero job?"

He nodded, a shy smile curving his mouth. "I already made up a costume, actually. It's in the closet. Take a look."

"Oh, you're kidding me." She jumped up and ran across to the closet. She opened the door... and dissolved into a fit of the giggles.

"You are not serious."

"What?" He did his best to look offended. "I worked hard on designing that. I thought about using flannel plaid for the cape, but I figured that wouldn't be... dignified."

She doubled up laughing. "It's worse than flannel! The underwear's on the outside! You call that dignified?"

"Okay. So maybe I'll get rid of the red underwear thing."

"Oh, God, please do. Believe me, this is definitely a time when it would be better to go commando."

Sprawled out in their bed, he leered at her. "I'm commando right now."

"Really?" She straightened up and looked interested. "You know, if you ask me, naked superheroes are the best kind. Naked journalists are sexy, too."

"It's interesting that you'd say that. Because I prefer naked journalists, too."

"Cool." She smiled and began stripping her nightgown off. "I think that can be arranged."

Read the epilogue here.

2 comments:

blackheart_me said...

awww u make this all so well :)
i mean i still have chloe in my head i'm not gonna lie but I love it.
:)
Elly u r so good

BloodSugar said...

*giggles* I almost feel guilty for saying this but imagining Chloe's personality in Erica's body (errr, Lois' body) kinda does it for me.
And apparently for Clark too ;)

lovely story <3 This fandom is lucky you have you, Elly.