Like Old Times

August 07, 2016:

Clark Kent manages to catch Lois up on a night of shopping and coerces her into dinner at her house.

Centinniel Park

Characters

NPCs: Korean shop owner

Mentions: Black Adam, Wonder Woman

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The night waned on. It's been a long time since Lois had been back in Metropolis. After the fall of Hell's Gate, everything seemed too surreal so a welcome vacation in Smallville where her family still had a place. It was a welcome vacation to get her head right, and it was a slow trickle of herself back into the folds of Metropolis and into the Daily Planet where her desk was dusted off and she got right back to work.

The arrival in Centinniel park has her stopping at the statue, looking upwards and on towards the effigy of Superman with a little shake of her head, her fingers dipping into her pocket to retrieve a cigarette which was tossed in between her lips and inhaled. It's been a very, very long time since she's seen him, Clark. Kal-el. Which ever name he goes by for the day. She can't even remember how their relationship blew up but that was life and she was willing to deal.

But damn did she miss him. So much that she didn't even bother to reach out and effectively cut him out of her life like the ex that he was meant to be. Put on no-contact.


If you asked him, Clark wouldn't have known exactly either. He knew he was to blame, of course - so his mother told him and he knew better than to argue with that wise woman. He got too caught up trying to do everything, be everywhere. Trying to be Superman. He could have gone home and worked it out on the farm, but she was there and he didn't want her to feel like he was following her, pushing her. So, while she'd been there, he'd stayed away and, when he learned she'd come back to the city, he took his vacation and went home.

And he hauled lumber and drove the tractor. He'd baled hay and he'd spent evenings with his folks, Watching Wheel of Fortune, eating pot roast. Long nights under the stars in the barn, sitting with the smell of the hay and the horses.

Reminding himself who he was.

And, when he was ready, his father came to him and took him aside. He was getting old. Clark didn't like to think about that. But his eyes still sparked as he looked at his only son. Biology be damned, Jonathan Kent would always be Pa to Clark. The fatherly advice, as always, was simple: stop being a damn fool. You only get so many chances. You've already blown a few. And, again, Clark knew better than to argue.

He's been hovering above her building, considering, going back and forth, but, finally, he just descends and lands on her balcony and knocks. He's the only one who ever knocks at the window on the 45th floor.


Lois wasn't there. While her apartment does look over Centinniel Park, she wasn't there. She remained at the foot of the statue, looking up into the face of the man who saved the world countless times.. until she hears it.

The collective gasp whenever she hears that someone has spotted Superman.

'He's up there!'
'What is he doing?'

Lois turns to look, and then up, a rueful gaze in her expression as she lets out a long, quieted huff. "Down here bub." She mutters to herself, knowing damn well he can hear her.


Superman flies up and over the building. He'd been so focused on what he might do or say that he hadn't even considered that she might not even be home. Her words draw a flush to his cheeks as he flies down on the other side and changes clothes rapidly.

Moments later, Clark comes around the building and into the park, approaching the statue. He's wearing a blue polo and khakis, nothing too fancy, his glasses perched on his nose per usual. With his broad shoulders and muscular build, he doesn't look like the dork he often seems to be.

"Sorry about that. You need to remind your maid to wash both sides of the window, by the way," he says. He looks up at the statue, "I didn't…I'm sorry I haven't…" he says, putting his hands in his pockets and then looking down at his shoes, "How do you always tie my tongue? I'm supposed to have a way with words. I should've written you a letter."


Seeing him fly away as the other people move on with their lives at the end of the little show, Lois still continues to puff away. Though, seeing him dressed as Clark would, the cigarette was soon flicked to the side as her hands dive into her pockets to wait for his normal approach.

His words were tongue tied, inward she wanted to smile about it all, but she was hardheaded. He knew that as well as she. "Thanks.. for the tip on cleaning my house." She says sardonically, then turns and begins to walk. "Maybe that would have been best. Though maybe this approach is good as well. I don't even know if I would have read the goddamned thing anyways." She was bitter, naturally.

"What do you want, Clark?"


Clark sighs. Had he thought it would be easy? No, but he hoped all the same. He's good at hoping, it's one of his talents.

"I want to fix it," he says. "This. Me. You," he says. "I'm not sure what that's going to take, but I don't really care either. Whatever it is, we can do it," he says.

He moves until he's walking in front of her, strolling backwards, rather unerringly, of course. "I just know that I've been sick for months, trying to pretend like everything's all right, trying to…I dunno, move on. There is no moving on," he says. "Not for me, at least."


Lois looks insufferingly at the nights sky as she walks, her eyes rolling, and soon settled upon him as he back-walks in front of her. She was listening, but she was actively attempting to get to the little market before it closes. Even though she didn't grocery shop enough, she still had a mind to stop there every once in a while to keep her fridge somewhat full. "Goddamn it Clark.." She snaps out, reaching to grasp at his arm to keep him from moving as she walks. She didn't want to tell him to look out, nor did she want him to fall on his ass either.

"Look.. I don't even know what happened. We blew up. Why? I.. don't know. But.." Could she readily give him a chance? She doesn't even know right now. "You have a lot of stuff to worry about, Clark. I've always respected that. I've always made it a point that you follow your better nature instead of worrying about me. You have the -whole- world on your shoulders and I never once tried to compete with that.. but.."

She grunts a little, finally stepping aside, her hand still upon his arm intent at tugging him along. Someone was going to carry her groceries. "..somehow that got in the way I guess. I really don't even know what to say now, Clark."


Clark smiles as she tugs at him, "Well, first of all, you could probably just ask me to come along instead of trying to pull me. You may be better than me at many things, Lois Lane, but I'm pretty sure I can beat you at arm wrestling," he says.

He knows the place she's heading when he gets a sense of their direction and runs ahead quickly to put a hand on the door before the owner closes. Clark spills out some rapid-fire Korean, «Apologies, good sir, but the young lady just needs a few things, we'll be in and out, I promise» he says. The man is so startled that he steps back and Clark pats him on the shoulder as he holds the door for Lois, "Good man. He says take as long as you need," he says to Lois.

«I didn't say that!» the old man chirps.

«Just play along and I'll come back tomorrow and double whatever she buys.»

As the proprietor nods, Clark comes along to catch up. "My shoulders are pretty strong. And maybe I shouldn't put the -whole- world on there. Not all the time. Especially if it costs me you. Because I can't carry that load without you. It's like…removing a bone from my spine."


"I never ask. And just because you have the strength, doesn't mean I'd go down without a fight."

Which was true. Just when the little man was about to turn the sign, Clark stops him and she pushes her way in, snatching up a little basket as she goes down the isles. She allows the two men to banter, but stops once he catches up to speak, her head shaking as she grabs a few packs of noodles. "And I'm sure that this was something that you were going to put into the letter? That part of your backbone was missing because you didn't have me by your side, Smallville?" She leans to the side, giving him the most adorable look she could muster, then darts forward down the isle with a quickened step to not make the old man wait.

The little meats section was looked at, a few skirt steaks thrown into the little basket, and a larger one tossed atop as she now carries the basket with two hands. "I guess time is best spent apart sometimes.."


He grabs a couple of sweet potatoes and tosses them in. He likes baked sweet potatoes and knows she does, too, "You have aluminum foil, right?" he says.

He thinks about what she said for a moment, "Maybe. I'm not recommending we take breaks, mind you, I just…" he sighs and then leans against the wall for a second. "I think it was good for me to remember that I actually have to work at things. And that I do need to take time for the things that are important to me. The other things I do," he says, always cautious about his identity in public, "I can't do them if I'm ripped up inside. Not well. Not the way they need to be done. And what I want, more than anything, is to go home with you, fire up your grill out on the balcony, make some steaks and potatoes and have a lovely dinner," he says.

"The rest we can figure out as we go along."


"Oof.." As he tosses the sweet potatoes in, Lois hefts up the basket even more, still carusing the meats as she looks up towards him with a shrug of her shoulders. "Probably. I'll grab some on the way out."

As he leans against the wall, she keeps moving, grabbing a few boxes and dumping them, switching arms so that she could relieve pressure from the other, yet giving a right cross look if he tries to reach for the basket. "That sounds all well and good Clark, believe me, it sounds like a dream.."

She moves into the little freezer isle, grabbing a few tins of sorbet and actual ice cream boxes to rest upon the top. And the aluminum foil.

"But I actually planned on eating alone." She pauses. "Now.. if you're going to cook? I'm okay with that. If you offer to rub my feet? I'm okay with that too. I even have a little stiff neck. But you're going home at the end of the night. I have work tomorrow."


Superman grins, "I never would've expected otherwise. And you know I'm happy to cook," he says. Not the least because he wanted to enjoy what he ate. Lois had many fine qualities, but she wasn't what one would traditionally call domestic. Or even jokingly call domestic. In fact, her even selecting the steaks was almost an invitation for him to cook, because she would've just thrown them in a pan with butter and cooked until crisp.

Not that he would ever say such a thing to her.

"Cooking and massaging are all well within my purview. And hey, I have to work tomorrow, too. Admittedly, not as early as you, but I don't make the big bucks you do either," he says. Clark's stepped back from doing daily reporting anyway, focusing more as a columnist and a writer and less on breaking stories. It both made unnecessary friction between them if they competed and, frankly, he couldn't compete - she was just a better reporter.


Lois was quiet for a time; she finishes gathering up the rest of the food to fill her apartment, takes it up for it to be paid for as both of the bags were grasped and her hip knocks the door to fling it open and she was out. Whether or not they talked while she went ONE DOOR DOWN to her high rise apartment, but there were inside in no time flat, with Lois setting everything out so that Clark could get to cooking and that she could start relaxing.

But.. quiet as she was, she snakes out onto her balcony, lighting up another smoke to inhale, her eyes closing as the wind carries the smoke away from the balcony while she watches the city below. In some ways, she was expecting for a cry for help. Someone to take him away from that moment. But hey, at least her house was clean, just not the windows.


Superman can smell her smoking, of course - he'd seen the butts on her balcony earlier, by the statue before. But he wasn't going to lecture her about it. She knew how he felt about it, how he wanted her to live a long and healthy life. But he accepted that people needed their flaws, their releases, their occasional bit of sin. He also knew that just him being there would make her feel the pressure to quit - vocalizing such would only agitate her.

He would've normally liked to age the steaks a little bit, setting them out, but time was of the essence. Superspeed helps, though, giving him the ability to rapidly tenderize and season the meat in record time. Once the pan is heated and oiled, he sets the steaks to sizzling and quickly slides the potatoes into the oven to roast. He finds a bottle of wine in her shopping and a very thoughtful bottle of apple juice for him. It was a kid's brand, with a cartoon fruit on the front, but he didn't mind the teasing.

He makes his way to the balcony, sliding the door and reaching out to put a hand on her shoulder, digging into the muscle a bit with his thumb, "Food's cooking," he says softly.


Okay, so there were a few dogs barking below. A few people jogging, people staggering home after a long drunken night. The light from this high was erie, looking over hells gate with that uneven like glow, her eyes closing soon as she flicks the tail end of the cigarette into the streets below with a sigh of the remainder of smoke drawing from her lungs. Her shoulders rise as her head looks down, silently cursing her existence. What the hell was she doing? She would have told -most- of the women that she knew that went through the same things that she did to leave.

But none of those men were really Superman.

She jumps slightly as he puts a hand upon her shoulder, her eyes opening, her own shoulders rolling nearly away from his grasp in her little bit of shock. But.. she calms, her hand placed over her heart as she gives a slight nod of her head. "I can smell it. I thought you wanted to come out here to grill.."


Clark smiles, "I didn't want to crowd you," he says. "I did kind of bumrush you to spend the evening with me," he says. He turns her a bit to face him more fully and reaches up with his other hand, cupping her cheek with strong, warm fingers. He's always warm, as if he just came out of the sunlight, like a cat who's been laying in the window.

"Lois," he says softly, his thumb grazing along her cheekbone, "I love you. Whatever we have to do - I'm here for it. I'm not going anywhere. Not anymore," he says. "I know I let you down," he says, looking in her eyes. "But nothing will ever change the way I feel about you."


"As romantic as that was possibly three years ago.." Lois comments coyly. "..that is a little bit creepy, Kal." She grins a little, but gets rightly annoyed once the massage stops with her being turned around to lean against the railing of her balcony. As he cups her cheek, her own hand reaches up to lightly grasp at his, her free hand reaching up to grasp at his glasses to carefully tug them off. He really didn't need them up here.

"I.." She starts, leaning her cheek into his hand to lightly kiss his palm. "..I love you too Clark but.." She closes her eyes. "We just need some time. Not.. apart but.. to at least get everything back. I guess I'm just afraid of pulling that trigger and we both end up disappointing each other."


Superman shakes his head, "You've never disappointed me," he says. "I've disappointed myself, yes, but none of that's your fault," he says. "I'm not going to try and rush or push you. But I wouldn't be honest if I pretended I felt any way other than how I feel. I'm all in, as a gambler might say," he smiles.

"And I've always been okay with being a little creepy. I remember you even called me such a few times when we first got to know one another. 'Stop staring, Smallville'. 'What're you lookin' at, creep?' 'Stop hovering or I'm gonna knock those glasses off your dumb face.' That's just off the top of my head, but there were more," he grins. "I earned every one of them, too. Because sometimes I'd find myself looking at you and every other thought would just fly out of my head. Poof. Nothing but feathers and starlight," he laughs.

He moves to turn the steaks in the blink of an eye, back almost before she can register he was gone. "I do admit, it's strange hearing caution and restraint coming out of Lois Lane's mouth. You are the same woman who once jumped out of an airplane because you 'had a good feeling' that I was almost there. If I'd been twenty seconds late…"


"You're not the only one with faults, Clark. Don't be too hard on yourself." She knew her issues with it all, and the way that she withdraws in this. Part of it was her fault too. "But…" She couldn't help but laugh. She was a downright bitch to him before, but she's slowly warmed up to him over time. Maybe it was her own attraction fighting it's way forward without her even really knowing it. But either way, they were here. And the times were rough and tough indeed.

She blinks and he was oddly placed, her body leaning to the side to look into the kitchen and then back to him again, taking a slight lean in to carefully draw her arms around him as if she had the super strength and he was the most fragile thing in the world.

"Then maybe Wonder Woman would have came and snatched me from the air. Or.. what is that guys name? Black Adam? Or it could have been a slew of other heroes out there who would have caught me." She teases. "..Clark. It's okay."


Clark grins, "Diana could catch you just fine. Black Adam can mind his own beeswax," he says. "But you knew I'd come for you and you were right," he says.

He slides his arms arouns her, too, tucking a little at the back of her head to lay her against his shoulder, leaning his cheek against her hair.

"Nothing's okay if you're not around, Lois. That's what I've been trying to tell you," he says. "But we'll work on it. It'll get better. Easier. We can go as slow as you like. We can court, like old fashioned people. Pa had to court Ma, after all. He told me her parents wouldn't even let him sit in a room alone with her until the week before their wedding - and then they were in the next room listening," he laughed.


Lois laughs heartily, then leans into the hug, her own fingers pressing against the back of his neck. "I'm always right. You should know that by now, sweetie." She leans in to kiss at his neck, then draws away slowly.

"I don't know, I'm sure Pa Kent had a little bit more moves on him than what you're telling." She grins then, pulling away to give him a light punch against his arm. "Come on. Finish up and I'm going to get out of these clothes. I taped the Metropolis Monster Truck show. Itching to watch it."

It was almost like old times again.. almost..

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