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Author's Note: Written for the 12days of Clois fic exchange at livejournal, the full request is located at the end to avoid spoilers. Thanks also to TriadChild for the beta.
Tap... tap... tap
Lois Lane frowned in her sleep.
Tap... tap... tap
She turned her head away from the sound, hoping it would disappear.
Tap... tap... tap
It just got louder. Lois felt herself waking up properly and groaned, she was still tired.
Tap... tap... tap
Well, now it was just getting annoying. Lois debated for a moment over whether she should open her eyes and see if she could stop it or just try and go back to sleep. Unfortunately the decision was made for her as she felt her awareness return fully and the tap-tap-taping only got louder. Her neck was at an odd angle and her wrist hurt for some reason and...she was wet?
Her eyes snapped open and she let out a yell of surprise, reflexively jerking her hands towards her only to find them bound together and tied to a pipe two metres away.
Her heart rate quickened and her breath began to come in short, sharp gasps as she surveyed her surroundings. She was in a long dark tunnel, no, she realized, it wasn't a tunnel, it was a pipe. A sewer pipe by the look, and smell, of it. The was about three inches of dark water running over her legs and her brand new shoes.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, her memory of the evening slowly returning to her. Perry had asked her to go down to the docks, something to do with meeting a contact about a drug-smuggling operation. Clark had been with her but he'd had to go somewhere, pulled another one of his disappearing acts. She'd been so annoyed with him, that she'd decided to go on alone despite his warnings. She couldn't remember anything past walking into the warehouse though, clearly it had been some sort of trap.
Lois opened her eyes again and surveyed her dark prison with a different light in her eyes, she wasn't scared now, she was angry. Her suit was ruined, utterly and completely, as were her shoes. Her wrists were sore and her ankle was throbbing and swollen so that her shoes were cutting her feet. These criminals were going to pay. If she could just get out of here first.
"HELP!" Lois screamed at the top of her lungs, wincing as the pipe amplified the sound and echoed it back and forth. "Help, Helhelphelphel..."
She took another deep breath, "Superman, help!" she screamed. He would come, she was sure of it. They weren't necessarily on good terms right now, but she knew he'd never let her get hurt. "HELP!" she yelled again before sighing and resting her head on the curved wall behind her.
Tap... tap... tap
She glared into the darkness but was unable to locate the source of the dripping. She waited a moment but nothing happened except the ever present tap... tap...tapping.
"So you're busy are, you?" she asked the darkness. "That's just fine." She sighed, "I'm not going anywhere." She leaned her head back again but didn't get to rest for long as at that exact moment a rush of freezing wash came up the pipe and swirled around her. She jumped and started cursing at the temperature. The water abated as soon as it had arrived leaving her even wetter than before and shivering with the cold.
"B- b- brilliant," she muttered, then louder, "If you're not too busy up there," she called just as another swirl of icy water came up the pipe.
She yelped again, then stopped breathing altogether as three things occurred to her. She had been down at the docks, this was a drainage pipe that led straight into the harbour and last but most importantly: the tide was coming in and that faint light allowing her to see was the moonlight reflecting off the water. This part of the pipe would most certainly be underwater within the hour, if she had that long.
"HELP!" she screamed, "Superman, help!" She screamed until her voice was hoarse but no one came.
It was only when the water reached her waist that she allowed the thought to enter her mind; what if he wasn't coming? He couldn't be everywhere, she knew. Sure he made a difference and he saved thousands of people but still hundreds more everyday were shot, killed... drowned. What if that was her?
Her first thought went to her son, Jason. She blinked back tears as she remembered his birthday three months ago, only a week after Richard had left for Germany. It had been bad timing but he'd stayed as long as he could. It hadn't been a complete loss though, Jason had several friends around and everyone had had a lot of fun...
"This one's from me an' Billy," One of Jason's friends, Peter told the newly turned six year old as he slid a small box across the floor. "It was big so we got half each." He grinned expectantly as Jason began to unwrap it. Lois smiled from the doorway, she already knew that Jason would love the new Playstation game. She'd been contacted by Peter and Billy's mother to ask if it was okay as both their children had talked about buying it for the party non-stop, but fifty dollars had been more than they wanted to spend alone.
Jason gave a yell of excitement as he opened it and high-fived his friends. Lois smiled again, glad Richard's absence hadn't caused too much pain.
"Jason looks like he's really enjoying himself," said a voice behind her.
Lois turned around. "He does, doesn't he?" she replied. "Is that the cake?" she asked, leading Clark into the kitchen.
"Yeah." Clark nodded, setting the large, cardboard box on the counter. "They only had chocolate left, I hope it's okay for his allergies."
"Should be fine." Lois nodded. She didn't want to mention that Jason's allergies were almost all but gone, that would raise awkward questions. "Thank you so much, Clark. For doing this at the last minute and..." She shook her head and buried her hands in her face, "I can't believe I forgot the cake."
"Lois, you've had a lot on your mind for the past week, you can't be expected to remember everything." He smiled that big, goofy smiled of his and Lois found herself feeling much better all of a sudden.
Before either of them could say anything, seven children came bursting into the dining room and fell on the mini sausages, chips and lollies piled on the table. "Mister, Clark?" Jason asked in surprise, "What are you doing here?"
Lois shot Clark a pleading look that she hoped said something like: Please don't tell my son I forgot the most important aspect of his birthday party.
Clark picked Jason up into a hug, "Hey, kiddo," he greeted him, "I was just stopping by to wish my favourite little guy a good sixth birthday, am I allowed to do that?" He asked with a grin and Lois let out a sigh of relief.
"Did you bring a present for me?" Jason asked, and Lois was surprised when Clark nodded and pulled out a small package from his shirt pocket. "What is it?" Jason asked, turning it over in his hands curiously.
"Why don't you open it and find out?" Clark asked, winking at Lois over Jason's head.
Jason ripped off the wrapping with a speed only possessed by children at Christmas and on their birthdays to reveal a small, wooden box. "What is it?" He asked again.
Clark laughed, "You have to open that one too," He grinned up at Lois who smiled back, glad her son was having fun.
Jason pried off the lid to the box and gasped, settled on a velvet cushion was a shiny, silver, and expensive looking watch. "Awesome," Jason breathed, pulling in out to get a better look, the strap was leather and the rim was silver with a black face and- Lois frowned, was that... "It's a Superman watch!" Jason exclaimed, holding it up for her to see, and there in the middle was the iconic 'S' symbol .
Lois felt her mouth dropped open, there was no way that would've been under fifty dollars. "That's great, munchkin," She grinned, ruffling his hair, "Why don't you go show your friends?" Jason didn't need telling twice, running over to join his friends and show off his new present. Lois turned back to Clark, "Clark," She whispered in awe, "You shouldn't have, you really shouldn't have. How much did that cost?"
Clark looked at the ground and pushed his glassed up with his finger, "N- not that much," He stammered, "I saw it in the window and Jason talks about Superman all the time so I thought..."
Lois raised her eyebrows, "You thought you'd spend a fortune on my son... Clark-"
"It was on sale," He interrupted her, "I- it was cheap." He looked at the floor again and Lois sighed.
"Sorry, Clark," She apologised, "Didn't mean to go all third degree on you. It's just..." She trailed off, unsure how to express herself, "It's just, you've done so much these past few weeks, what with helping us move and looking after Jason when Richard and I were trying to work things out. Now this?"
Clark shrugged as if to say it was nothing, "Well, Jason's a pretty special little guy, you know?"
"Yeah," She agreed, watching her son with his friends, "He is."
* * *
Clark had been wonderful that night, she recalled, as the water rose above her waist. The cake had been a big hit too, apparently chocolate was Jason's favourite, although Clark had waved that off as a lucky guess.
She had been so lucky to have him as her friend, she realised. These past few months, it seemed as if he'd never left at all. Her coffee was always on the corner of her desk, exactly the way she liked it. She'd even given up smoking with Clark's help, even if she was angry with him at the time for stealing her lighters and cigarettes.
She was surprised to find tears running down her face as the water rose higher. She wished Clark hadn't run off when he had, he wouldn't have been as useful as Superman in this situation but it would be nice to be able to tell him how much she'd appreciated everything he'd done for her and Jason. And how much she'd missed him while he was away. Part of the reason she'd never mentioned him to Richard was that it hurt to much to talk about it, but Clark had forgiven her immediately and when thing fell apart with Richard he'd been there for her, taking her and Jason in and even helping them find an apartment and move in...
"I think that's the last of them," Clark told her as he placed the two bars stools he'd carried upstairs by the counter.
"Thanks, Clark," Lois said as she surveyed their new apartment.
"Is there anything else?" Clark asked, pushing up those ridiculous glasses with his finger.
"Well, it's still an hour before I've go to go pick up Jason from school. Would you like a drink?" She had to fight not to laugh at the stunned expression on his face.
"A d- drink?" He stammered pushing up his glasses again.
"Yes, Clark, a drink. We have juice, water..." She grinned as Clark visibly relaxed, it was two in the afternoon, what did he think she was offering? "I just thought you'd be rather tired after helping me lug my furniture up seven storeys." Not that he looked it, she noted with some surprise maybe all those years growing up on a farm in Nowheresville had made him stronger than she'd realised.
"Oh, yeah." Clark nodded, suddenly slouching and wiping his forehead with the back of his hand, Lois raised an eyebrow but brushed it off as just another one of Clark's strange habits. "I'll just have water thanks."
"Here you go," She sat down on the brand new stool opposite him with her own glass of water. They sat in a comfortable silence for a moment before Lois realised something, "You never told me about your trip."
"My trip?" Clark asked, frowning slightly.
"Yeah, your trip." Lois nodded slowly. "Remember, you were away for five years?"
"Oh, of course." Clark nodded and almost choked on his water, sometimes Lois wondered how the man had escaped serious injury for so long. He set his glass down gently, "That trip."
Lois nodded, "Yes, that trip." She smiled at him. "Jimmy read us every postcard you sent him so I know where you went."
"He did?" Clark asked, looking pleased.
"Llamas, huh?" She grinned, remembering one of the more amusing stories.
"Oh." Clark shrugged again, looking uncomfortable for some reason, "Yeah, that was interesting. But if you know where I went what else is there to say?"
"Why did you go?" Lois asked. It was something she'd been wondering ever since Perry had told her Clark wouldn't be coming back after she'd stormed around the entire bullpen looking for him. "I mean, you didn't even say goodbye."
"No," Clark stared down into his glass. "I didn't."
"I'm sorry, Clark," Lois apologised, feeling bad for making him remember, "I didn't mean it like that. So why did you go? I thought you'd taken a trip around the world right after college."
"I went to find something," Clark explained, cryptically.
She knew if Clark had wanted to tell her what he'd gone looking for, he would have, so instead she asked, "Did you find it?"
"I did," Clark nodded, looking up to meet her eyes and Lois was surprised she'd never noticed how blue they were before. "It was here all along."
* * *
The water was up to her chin now and rising by the second. She fought to keep her head above it, gasping for breath. The current was strong, sweeping her back and forth, her wrists were raw and swollen and she could barely feel her hands. Her ankle was almost certainly broken from the sharp pains that shot through it when she tried to put her weight on it.
He could still come, she told herself. She didn't have the energy to yell anymore but surely Clark would call for help when he discovered she wasn't waiting where he'd left her.
The water rose higher. Lois fought to get her wrists free. She had to get out, she had to see her son again, she had to see Clark. She'd never realised before how often he was there for her, always helping and never asking for anything in return, in fact most of her best memories involved Clark somehow and she'd never once thanked him for it.
"Help," she called one last time but her hoarse whisper was lost in the noise of the water surging up the pipe. She struggled to breath but by mistake she tried to stand on her bad foot and it slipped out from under her, plunging her downwards.
She fought hard to prevent herself from taking a huge gasp of water and tried to get back up. Her head hit the top of the pipe and she realised it was now completely filled with water.
She was going to drown.
"Don't worry," Clark's voice floated from the dark, "I've got you." She was in her living room watching as Clark helped Jason place the star on the top of the tree.
"Be careful," she called, but it was only for show, she wasn't concerned, Clark would sooner cut off his right arm than let any harm come to Jason.
"Don't worry, Mom," Jason called as he fixed the star onto the point of the tree, "Mister Clark won't let me fall."
"I've got him, Lois," Clark assured her as he lowered her son to the floor, "See?"
Lois laughed as Jason spun on the spot and held out his arms to show that he was unharmed, "Good, now I think someone has to go to bed so Santa can come and give him his presents."
Jason groaned. "He won't mind if I stay up five more minutes, Mom." He looked up at Clark, "Will he Mister Clark?" Lois wondered when Clark's opinion had become equal to hers.
"Well," Clark frowned seriously, pushing up his glasses, "I think Santa won't mind at all." Jason grinned triumphantly while Lois shot Clark a betrayed look, "But," Clark added before either of them could say anything, "I know Santa only comes when you're asleep and the sooner you go to bed, the sooner you'll fall asleep and the sooner Santa will come."
Jason bit his lip, looking torn between an extra five minutes and quicker presents before shouting a quick, "Goodnight," as he dashed to his room.
"Jason," Lois called after him, "You still have to clean your teeth."
Jason groaned, "But Mom, I gotta get to sleep."
Clark laughed at that and Lois shot him another look, "Well, the quicker you do that, the quicker you can go to sleep." Jason groaned again, but headed for the bathroom anyway. Lois turned to Clark, "I thought you were going to take his side for a second there."
Clark laughed, "I wouldn't dare, Lois," He assured her.
"I'm done," Jason yelled running out of the bathroom and straight into his room.
"That's a record," Lois laughed, "He usually takes ages, trying to stay up for as long as possible," She raised her voice and called to Jason, "Do you want me to come read you a story?"
The was a pause as if Jason was considering it then he called back, "No, I have to get to sleep."
Lois raised and eyebrow at Clark, "I feel so loved," She muttered.
Clark laughed again, "It's only one night a year, Lois," He told her, "He'll be back to normal by tomorrow." He started to move towards the door.
"You're leaving?" Lois asked, suddenly acutely aware of Richard's absence. "You could stay a while longer if you wanted."
Clark turned back, "Are you sure?" He asked, grinning his goofy farm boy grin at her and she felt her heart skip a beat.
"Yeah." She got up "Would you like a drink or some cookies?" she offered, heading to the kitchen trying to ignore the sudden feelings in her chest. This was Clark for goodness sake.
"Cookies?" He asked warily.
"Store brought," She assured him, "Nothing to be afraid of." Clark smiled at that and Lois' heart gave another flutter but the moment was interrupted by a call from the bedroom.
"I can't get to sleep!"
Lois sighed," Excuse me," She told Clark, heading to her son's bedroom.
Two Christmas stories and one hopefully sleepy six-year-old later, Lois returned to the living room, surprised to hear Silent Night playing quietly from the stereo.
Clark looked up sheepishly as she came over. "It was my Dad's favourite," he explained, "We always used to play it on Christmas Eve."
"It's okay," she assured him. "It's nice."
They stood awkwardly for a few moments before Clark held out his hand. Lois looked at it in confusion wondering what he wanted. "Um, Lois," Clark asked, pushing his glasses up for the hundredth time that night. "I was wondering if you wanted to dance."
"Dance?" she asked in surprise, of all the things she could imagine bumbling farm boy Clark doing, dancing wasn't one of them. "You dance?"
Clark laughed. "Everyone dances, Lois, even me." His hand was still waiting.
Lois smiled and took it allowing him to lead her into the centre of the small living room. They swayed together, turning slowly on the spot, Lois surprised to find that Clark was a good dancer. She moved closer to him, feeling how warm he was. "Lois?" He called and she looked up into his eyes, wondering what was wrong, she was happy to just drift here with him, she felt so warm and safe.
"Lois?" he called again, louder this time. Lois came to, cold and wet but alive and looking into Clark's eyes once again. She opened her mouth to asked what was going on but instead of a question, a large amount of water came out of her mouth.
She turned over and coughed until her lungs were completely clear. "Lois are you alright?" Clark asked, his voice tight with worry, "I'm sorry I was late... Lois?" he called as she leaned back, drawing in breath after wonderful breath. She'd never realised how much she loved air until just then.
"Lois, are you okay?" Clark asked again and Lois opened her eyes.
"I'm fine," she assured him, not feeling that fine at all but at least she wasn't drowning again. Clark's face looked down at her, his eyes still filled with worry and Lois frowned as she realised something.
"Clark," She put an aching hand up to his face, "You're not wearing your glasses."
Briefly describe what you'd like to receive: Lois is trapped and fears death is imminent. She thinks over her life and is surprised to find Clark at the center of her memories. Happy Ending please :)
Preferred Genre(s): romance, drama
Preferred Category(ies): Superman Returns
Preferred Rating(s): Family friendly ;)
Canon or AU?: Canon if possible
A specific you want: A possible reveal?
Deal Breakers (what don't you want?): For pete's sake no slash lol
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