The Truth about Mother Teresa
Lois waited outside the hotel room door nervously. It had been years since she had seen her and they hadn't parted on the best of terms. Lois had to admit to herself that she had been at fault. She had cut her out of her life and here she was, asking for understanding she couldn't get from anybody else.
"What are you doing here? Were you planning to break into my hotel room and see if you could `find' a scoop?"
Lois turned to see Chloe standing in the hallway and knew that it was going to be a hard sell. Since the last time Lois had seen her, Chloe had cut her hair short and dyed it a platinum blond. Her green eyes had taken on a hard, cold glint and there was no warm smile on her face. "I . . . wanted to talk to you . . ."
"The feeling isn't mutual," said Chloe. "Step away from my door."
"I left him. I left Clark," Lois blurted out.
Chloe looked surprised for a second before shutting down again. "And that concerns me . . . how? Why don't you talk to one of your dozens of `real' friends instead?"
"Because they all think that Clark is the most wonderful person in the world and they won't understand why I'd ever leave him. They'd ask me to go back to him for his sake. You're one of the few people who knows all about him and doesn't believe that."
"I'm not interested in having you crash on my couch because you had a squabble with him that'll blow over. I'm not interested in having Clark come over and blaming me for whatever this is then you joining in so you can get back together with him."
"It's not a squabble. I had my lawyer serve him the divorce papers. I came here to say that you were right, that I'm sorry." Lois held up the bottle of wine she had bought as a peace offering. "Hey, look, it even has a cork."
Chloe glanced at the bottle as if to make sure it actually had a cork before saying, "You can talk as long as the bottle's not empty but you're not crashing here."
The bottle was opened and there was wine in the two water glasses that came with the hotel room. Both of them were sitting at a small table near the bedroom window.
"When you told me that life with Clark was a lot harder than I knew, I thought you were just jealous, that you were underestimating me like my father always did. I . . . was the one who insisted that you were persona non grata. I went all Bridezilla before the wedding and wanted everything to be perfect. But it only took a few days into the honeymoon for me to start realizing that you were telling the truth. He left in the middle of the vacation to take care of an emergency. I spent most of the time by myself, telling people that my husband was in the hotel room, recovering from a jellyfish sting."
Chloe made a face. "You didn't know beforehand? There were all the missed dates and strange disappearances. I know you knew the secret before you two got married. He told me that much."
"I knew but I thought I could deal with it. I thought marriage would make things better, somehow."
"So . . . what was it?" said Chloe. "Was it the continual fear of seeing him hurt or die? Was it the long hours away from you? Was it seeing him mack on some other woman because someone messed with his head?"
"It wasn't waking up in the hospital with a broken collar bone or having to talk him down from whatever was making him act like a horny thug. I bought into that when I married him. My wake-up call happened when he had been gone for six months preventing an interstellar war and I asked the Justice League for a couple weeks off so we could reconnect when he finally got back."
"They said no?"
Lois shook her head. "Actually they were fine with it. I took some time off from the Daily Planet but . . . Clark has this tendency of taking in `strays.' That's his term for people who need help and don't have anywhere to go. He says he got it from his parents. I can't really complain considering that I was one of the strays his parents took in. I wouldn't be where I am without them."
Chloe finished off her glass of wine and poured herself another glass. "I'm betting Clark took in a `stray' that cut into the `you and me' time."
"It wasn't just any `stray.' It was Lana."
"Oh . . . of course." Chloe's smile was touched with cynical amusement. "I remember . . . She and Pete were divorced a few months back. I didn't hear that she had crashed at your place, though."
"She didn't stay there long but long enough. She called Clark and asked if she could stay at our house. Without even consulting me, he told her yes. I told Clark that we need to work on our marriage and the last thing we should be doing is playing host to someone who can well afford to stay in an apartment. She had a really good lawyer and got half of everything. Clark kept saying that she's a friend who needs our support. I pointed out that my support isn't exactly what she's interested in and that it wouldn't be very cool of us to look like we were helping Lana when Pete's hurting. He tells me that I'm being unsympathetic, even paranoid."
"So, what happened?"
"She came to the house, talking about how alone and depressed she is. She started talking about how unlucky she's been all her life when it came to love and how all the good ones are taken while giving Clark the once-over with the eyes. Every day, she made his favorite breakfasts to be `nice' and every morning she got dressed in short shorts and a halter top for her daily workout. She showers right before we get home from work and coming out with her hair wet and in her bathrobe. After a week, I took her aside and I told her that she should be like the circus and take her act to another city."
"So did he cheat on you?"
"No, he didn't sleep with her and I don't think he would have. The problem was the fact that even though I knew he wasn't going to leave me for her, he was paying more attention to her problems than to us. I understand saving the world, saving Metropolis, saving someone's life but . . . playing host to an ex-girlfriend who just got divorced and is using her sob story to get into your pants. Especially after being off the planet for six months away from your wife . . . come on!" Lois slammed the table with her fist, causing the bottle to wobble slightly before it righted itself.
"But she left . . . so shouldn't the problem be solved?"
"The way I see it, she wasn't the problem. She was a symptom. It shouldn't have happened in the first place. I just didn't want to just roll over and be all fucking Stepfordy and say I understand and shit because I didn't understand. I told him that I didn't want to sleep in the same bed that night. I found it hard to sleep without him so I go downstairs to make myself something to make me feel sleepy . . . and to take a look at him. I went to the couch and it was empty. He had gone patrolling even though Jonn said he was going to handle it. I finally got it through my thick head that I was basically a sidekick with benefits."
"So, what are you going to do now?"
"As long as I work at the Daily Planet, I'm always going to see him and Perry's going to expect me to work with him. If I stay in Metropolis, he's always going to be there, either as himself or Superman. Maybe I should go to Washington D.C. I've got a few contacts there. I'm going to have to tell them that I work on a strictly non-Superman story basis." Lois drank down the rest of her glass. "If you want to say I told you so, go ahead. I deserve it."
Chloe flashed her a bitter look. "You cut off contact with me for ten years, Lois. I deserve way more than that."
"I know . . . I . . ."
"I had a front row seat to the train wreck that was Clark and Lana's relationship. When you two got together, I figured you should know what you would be facing. Then when you cut me off, I thought to myself, Why the hell am I being Mother Teresa? Because I was suddenly persona non grata with you and Clark, I was persona non grata with everybody else in the Justice League . . . I found out that nothing I had done in the past to help meant anything except to myself. And I know why you're really here."
"What do you mean by that?" snapped Lois.
"Because I know that the second you leave Clark, all your friends are going to be HIS friends. You think you're going to get any more information from them or stay in the loop?" Chloe shook her head. "You're not connected to their main man any more so why should you be? And they're going to side with him because they're all basically in the same boat as he is. You turned to me because you're stuck in the same Outsiderville that I am. But I don't appreciate you turning to me as a last resort like everybody else," said Chloe as she polished off the last of the wine. "The bottle's empty. I think you know what that means."
Also, why not join
Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?