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Underground - Chapter Fifteen - Resolve

Clark pulled the receiver back from his ear and slowly, thoughtfully, set it on the cradle. The little green light indicating an open line blinked off. Compared to how quiet the rest of the bullpen was, the click of the light was oddly loud. Glancing around the room to make sure he was still alone, Clark leaned back against his chair and took off his glasses, rubbing his hands over his eyes. Her heartbeat was still steady and even in his ears, assuring him that if she had fallen asleep, no nightmares or late night sobbing had taken over. But there was still his ever-present worry over how she really was taking things. Lois would never admit anything to anyone unless life was at stake. Even then she might still stand firm.

That’s not true, he thought firmly. Were Jason’s life on the line, she would do anything, anytime, anywhere.

The thought of his son warmed him, settling the dizzying haze that had been clouding his mind as of late. He could easily picture him wandering through the Planet bullpen, an office trash can over his head while he growled and roared around the room, Godzilla terrorizing the city. For a moment he wondered curiously if Jason could actually see through the plastic covering… then figured it was better to deal with one super power at a time. No need to speed things up. Certainly not with things as they were now.

What would you think about asking Superman to help with the investigation?

Keeping a hand over his eyes, he slipped his glasses back on and sat a little straighter in his chair. Bringing Superman into the investigation was the last thing she had wanted to do, and it had been obvious in her voice when she said it. She was incredulous, disbelieving that Doug would actually ask her instead of finding a way to do it himself. “It’s not like it’s hard,” she had muttered. “Just look to the sky and cry ‘help’…”

That one had hurt. He could understand why she wouldn’t want to deal with Superman in this situation – being immobile with your fiancée missing would break anyone with less of a backbone than Lois Lane – but actually hearing it from her, knowing that she was willing to share it with Clark Kent…

Taking a deep breath, he stood from his chair and made his way to the bullpen windows, allowing himself a moment to stare at the peaceful glow of the city, the lights below him twinkling like the stars above. Staring off near the docks, the buildings before him dissolved and eventually faded away, revealing the Riverside home he had just called. Focusing a little harder, he found Jason sleeping peacefully in his bedroom, the window open and caressing the drapes with a gentle breeze. Just across the hall was Lucy turning off the lamp, and to the right of her room…

Lois was curled in bed, the leg cast the only thing not close to her body. In her hands she had gathered a large portion of the blankets, and just peeping out from under them was Richard’s pillow. She was resting her head on it more than she was her own. Seeing her face, once tight with anxiety and now open and peaceful, should have been relaxing. Instead he found himself confused.

What would you think about asking Superman to help with the investigation?

The mother of his child was asking him what he thought about asking the father to help. The father was going to be asked to find the man who had stood in his place for five years. How could he not feel confused? Part of him wanted to find Richard right away so that Lois would stop hurting so deeply, but another part seemed almost… relieved he was gone. It was a horrible thing to admit, and he knew it. He hated that jealousy brewed so deeply within him, but another persistent voice in his head reminded him that all of this was, in fact, his fault. Lois had every reason to find comfort in the arms of another man. He had no reason to be upset about it. It was rational.

It hurt. But he couldn’t hate Richard because of it. When had he seen him treat Lois any differently than he would himself? The man was nothing but a pure gentleman to her, even when her own thoughts and emotions were so jumbled. The brutal truth was that Richard didn’t deserve to be in whatever mess he had gotten himself into. He was – is – a good man. Really, Clark should be thanking him for taking good care of his family while he was away.

Not that the action would look very appropriate. Lois wouldn’t be engaged to a fool. He’d figure out who I was in a heartbeat if I said anything with ‘Lois’ and ‘family’ in the same sentence.

Giving her one last glance, he sighed. If only she knew how difficult this is going to be. It’s such an innocent question. And here I am holding the answer. And it’s one she isn’t going to like.

It was one that could alter their relationship. Dramatically. Superman was never one to not give in to anything Lois Lane would ask, but this…

At some point he was unaware of, his hand had touched the glass in front of him. When he removed it, he saw his handprint left behind, a little larger than most human hands would be due to his body temperature. Staring at it thoughtfully, he lost himself in the unique design of his handprint, oddly reminded of the crystal towers in the Fortress. It was the one place above all else he desired to go, aching to hear his father’s voice and ask his advice on this sudden situation. He had no idea what Jor-El would have said about his situation with Lois and Richard, but as for asking Superman to find Richard for them… that was an answer he knew all too well. It was something that had been burned into his memory as a child, the comforting voice of his father giving him wisdom that, unknown to him at the time, had the potential to make the relationship with the woman he loved irreparable.

There are tasks which humans must solve themselves…

She was going to hate him for that one. And he knew it. It seemed so… cowardly. Why would Superman hide behind the words of his father, a man who had been dead for thousands of years? It was time for him to be out on his own, right? For him to be making his own choices?

The questions seemed simple enough. But the truth of the matter was that he had already lost a chance at their relationship once. Giving up his abilities for the option of a mortal life had been wonderful before he knew about General Zod and his invasion on earth. It was his fault Lois didn’t remember that, yes, but he wasn’t willing to lose another chance at their relationship, even if the final result was going to be reconciliation of some kind. It was better than losing her altogether.

She needs to understand that, then. She needs to understand that everything Superman does here is because he isn’t willing to lose her again. She might not know what it means completely, but it’s better than her hating me forever.

It was final, then. As Clark Kent he would continue the investigation and discover where Richard was based on the evidence found by Officer Petty. As Superman he would take the information and search deeper, leaving clues and hints for the police force to use to their benefit. If Superman couldn’t tell them outright where Richard was, he would at least do everything he could to find him and make sure he was safe.

The final result might be that he would lose Lois forever. But more than anything, Clark knew that he would rather see her happy than miserable and in despair. If she was happier with Richard and the life they had built together over the last five years, then so be it. He would find Richard and bring them back together, and allow them to build on the foundation they had been working on.

He loved her too much to see her stay the way she was.

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
bistyboo1974
Jan. 23rd, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
Ooh, angsty Clark makes me wanna give him hugs...and bake him dozens of cookies. *waggles eyebrows* But, I digress... ;-)

This was lovely, despite the fact that it made my heart ache just a bit. And it made me realize why he must wear red in his Superman uniform! Red = A martyr's blood. In this case, Clark's the martyr, sacrificing his great love. He'll do anything to ensure Lois's happiness, even if it means bleeding inwardly the rest of his life over his loss as he watches her happy with another man. *whimpers*

Guh.

Can't wait for more.
sean_montgomery
Jan. 23rd, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
Oh, he'll get cookies, all right. Just wait for Chapter Seventeen/Eighteen. ; )

Oh, what a great point you make about the red in his uniform! Few people really catch the sacrifice that comes with the goofy nerd and the heroic icon. Love could be the only thing he wants out of life, and it might be the one thing he won't get. But, as long as he knows she's happy, he'll continue to live and will do anything he can to see that happiness thrive.

He'll do anything to ensure Lois's happiness, even if it means bleeding inwardly the rest of his life over his loss as he watches her happy with another man.


This, in a nutshell, is the whole point of the chapter. I'm thrilled you caught it.

Thanks for reading!

(psst - i'm trying to finish the next chapter before Prison Break so that i can send it to barb. think I can do it?) : D
ellalou73
Jan. 23rd, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
*Yips for Joy* You put up a chapter I'm so happy. I really really liked it. Seeing Clarks thoughts on it all was great. I felt bad for him though. He loves Lois and he knows she is hurting without Richard so he is ready to go do what he has to to help find him.

I liked reading his thoughts. I also loved it when he focused on his family. He Saw Jason sleeping and then Lois. I like that he looks after all of them. Again I felt bad for him when he was missing the Fortress but at the same time he was ready to make a decision on his own.

Great chapter, more more more.....
sean_montgomery
Jan. 23rd, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading, Ella! More is on the way... it just needs to get here. : )

It's good that you felt bad for him. Really, it's supposed to make you think a little about how he sees his situation. Willing to save the life of his romantic rival? Of course - as long as it makes Lois happy in the end. Tough decision, but his willingness to make it shows his character.

More more more is coming. Keep your eyes peeled. ; )
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh God, Clark. We can't even be upset with you for your stand in the situation. It's a miserable place you find yourself in, boy. Is it possible to love someone too much or be too good a man?

*hugs Clark and leads him off for hot cocoa* My poor, poor boy. The things we do to you... That *all* of us do to you...
sean_montgomery
Jan. 27th, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
I honestly think this chapter embodies his character at the end of Superman Returns. It might not be this clear (yet), but I certainly think he's got a lot of pondering to do over this entire thing. He's too good of a man to break up Lois and Richard, but now Lois can't deny the need for him in her (and Jason's) life. It's really a big mess. But Clark will stay out of it if need be. But he'll never stop loving her.

*holds him tight*
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
(I honestly think this chapter embodies his character at the end of Superman Returns. It might not be this clear (yet), but I certainly think he's got a lot of pondering to do over this entire thing.)

I think it's absolutely spot-on, love. And he has to really be in a tailspin as to what to do. If he wasn't such a good man... I don't know that I could even blame him for doing wrong in this instance.
sean_montgomery
Jan. 27th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
That's the point, though. Superman was never the stereotypicall hero. He was the one who made the right decision in spite of how he felt. Everything inside of him might want to forget Richard and build a family with Lois... but how would she feel about that? What if she really does love Richard? Now, we obviously know that's not 100% true, but all the same, he's not going to break it up.
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
(Now, we obviously know that's not 100% true, but all the same, he's not going to break it up.)

Which makes you want to hug him and hit him in the head at the same time. At least Jason is a situation that Lois doesn't really have a chance to waffle on. Jason has to have contact with him.
sean_montgomery
Jan. 27th, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC)
Exactly. And this brings Richard back into it, too. Richard KNOWS what's going on between the two of them (that look in the seaplane, the look in the car while Lois is hugging him), and we don't really know what he's thinking about this. But HE was the one willing to take Lois to the hospital, remember. That speaks volumes about him, if nothing else.
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC)
(Richard KNOWS what's going on between the two of them (that look in the seaplane, the look in the car while Lois is hugging him), and we don't really know what he's thinking about this.)

I can't wait to see your take on it. Yeah, you couldn't miss those two moments. I'm going to be using the Seaplane moment, too, in a different context, because that's the moment you realize that she's been upset for a reason. You can't miss the emotions going on there. You'd have to be blind and deaf to miss it. And even then... :D

(But HE was the one willing to take Lois to the hospital, remember. That speaks volumes about him, if nothing else.)

Oh, I've never doubted that he was a good man all-around. It's just that he might not be the *right* man.
sean_montgomery
Jan. 27th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see your take on it. Yeah, you couldn't miss those two moments.


*is suddenly worried that she's hyped you up more than she meant to* I wouldn't say that I've got an upcoming take on the seaplane, but Richard knows something is up. If nothing else, this situation he's in helps him respect Superman even more. And it puts more of a strain on his relationship with Lois.

Oh, I've never doubted that he was a good man all-around. It's just that he might not be the *right* man.


Excellent point, and certainly one to be considered by all Superman fic writers. He's a good man, but he's not the *right* one. Now, if a young, twenty-something cashier caught his eye... ;)
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
(I wouldn't say that I've got an upcoming take on the seaplane, but Richard knows something is up. If nothing else, this situation he's in helps him respect Superman even more. And it puts more of a strain on his relationship with Lois.)

No, no! Your take on *his thoughts*. I'd love to see what he's started to figure it out on his own. It *is* just a *mess* they've all gotten themselves into.
sean_montgomery
Jan. 27th, 2007 10:50 pm (UTC)
No, no! Your take on *his thoughts*. I'd love to see what he's started to figure it out on his own.


*blinks* Ooooooh! *facepalm* Brain fart! : D

There's going to be a big scene near the end where he kinda lays his thoughts out there. Basically everything he knows and suspects. Poor dear. It's really his fault that all of this is like it is in the first place.

*light bulb turns on*
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
Uh-oh.... *LOL*
sean_montgomery
Jan. 27th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
Don't worry. Nothing too dramatic. ; ) It won't change the ending, but it will certainly leave a lot of questions unanswered, and it will open doors at the same time. And I'm sure people will be begging for a sequel. And I'm sure Barb will be killing me with questions. : )

Speaking of Barb, aren't you surprised she hasn't caught us yet?? : D
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
She's around. She just posted a new teaser for tomorrow's upload. I guess she just hasn't made her way over to my LJ yet. *LOL*
sean_montgomery
Jan. 27th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
Guess not. : ) Mom will sure give us an earful when she wanders over there... *giggles*
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
Like we don't *live* for getting busted. I think she's starting realize it. *LOL* That's why she doesn't always do it.
sean_montgomery
Jan. 27th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
Partners in crime, you and me. We spam other LJ's for our own good, just to see Mom pop up and ask us what the hey we're doing. *waves* Hi Mom!! : D
kalalanekent
Jan. 27th, 2007 11:15 pm (UTC)
That's us! *grins, hugging her twin* Hi, Mom!!!
alphielj
Mar. 10th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)
This entire chapter was just wonderful! The contimplative look into Clark's thoughts as he tries to reson with himself over the whys and why nots - just wonderful! This section in particular was my favorite:

Part of him wanted to find Richard right away so that Lois would stop hurting so deeply, but another part seemed almost… relieved he was gone. It was a horrible thing to admit, and he knew it. He hated that jealousy brewed so deeply within him, but another persistent voice in his head reminded him that all of this was, in fact, his fault. Lois had every reason to find comfort in the arms of another man. He had no reason to be upset about it. It was rational.

It hurt. But he couldn’t hate Richard because of it. When had he seen him treat Lois any differently than he would himself? The man was nothing but a pure gentleman to her, even when her own thoughts and emotions were so jumbled. The brutal truth was that Richard didn’t deserve to be in whatever mess he had gotten himself into. He was – is – a good man. Really, Clark should be thanking him for taking good care of his family while he was away.

sean_montgomery
Mar. 10th, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah... this was another hard chapter to write. : D I love how it turned out in the end, but the whole time I was chanting while typing. Let this be good... dear God, PLEASE let this be good...

I'm certainly glad you thought so. : )
jenna_knight
Mar. 19th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
Ug, such a tough situation and now we get to see Clark's POV. But of course we know what he'll end up doing (if there was ever any doubt). It just sucks that he has to be tortured so. I'm almost caught up now and I'm worried that Clois isn't coming any time soon...

I guess I have to have faith (and remember your one shots).
sean_montgomery
Mar. 19th, 2007 03:32 am (UTC)
It is a tough situation for Clark, and it's one of the reasons why I'm writing this story from both POV's - so that we can see how this whole thing is affecting both parties. It DOES suck that he's being tortured so, but, really, the stage was set in SR. He just has a little light in his life by the name of Jason.

I'm almost caught up now and I'm worried that Clois isn't coming any time soon...

No comment. ; )
ellalou73
Mar. 19th, 2007 06:46 am (UTC)
I think I left you a review on ff.net but I just love this chapter. It is so full of emotion and I feel so bad for all of them. Lois really misses Richard, and has to worry about him and as well Jason who woudln't do well if he knew the only dad he has known was missing.

Then there is Clark, and his ever so big heart. I just want to throw my arms around him and hug him. He's willing to give up everything to see Lois happy even if it means he has to lose her. Why can't there be men in the world like that for the rest of the females who are single???

Great work as usual and can't wait for more.
sean_montgomery
Mar. 19th, 2007 10:23 am (UTC)
Why can't there be men in the world like that for the rest of the females who are single???

I must think this every single day. They ARE out there, they're just... hard to find, I guess.

I want to hug Clark in this one, too. His nobility and sense of duty is so strong, but his heart and his feelings for Lois are even stronger. Seeing her happy, and knowing that he might live the rest of his life without being the cause of it, is all he ever wanted - and he'll do everything in his power to see it happen. Bringing back Richard is the right thing to do for various reasons, but mainly because he makes Lois happy.

Thanks for dropping by here, Ella! I appreciate it!
ellalou73
Mar. 19th, 2007 11:11 am (UTC)
No problem, I got a chance to play with my brothers computer, hoping to get it tomorrow night too, but I won't hold my breath too long...
elliania
May. 15th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
Oh My! Clark!! *HUGS HIM* Talk about a choice he shouldn't have to do!! His love for Lois is too big for his own good!

On another hand, Im glad he's going to help Richard!!! *hugs Richard* He couldn't have choose another way! :D

Superman to the rescue!!

(even my cat agree!! grump, stupid cat who's walking on my keyboard!! Go away!!)
sean_montgomery
May. 15th, 2007 01:20 am (UTC)
He'll look for Richard, but just how far will he go?

You'll have to read and find out. ; )
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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