Title: Denial

Author: Darth-Suzi

Pairing: Clois

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: This story contains heavily implied sex scenes.

Spoilers: None, really, unless you're very behind on things.

She doesn't like to remember that summer.

Summer flings aren't supposed to haunt you. Summer flings are supposed to be just that: hot, emotional, and very temporary. You're not supposed to be driving on the road late at night and hit the object of said fling with your car.

And yet here he is, standing before her with an apologetic look and a bouquet of flowers for her cousin's grave.

Chloe's grave.

Because her cousin is dead, killed in an explosion that leveled an acre.

Her cousin, who just happened to be his best friend.

What kind of a tangled web are they trapped in?

He's telling her now that Chloe's not in her grave, that she's alive. She doesn't understand how he knows this, but he's never explained these things before. She makes some half-hearted comment on how he switches personalities—something that she knows more than anyone—but they both know she's not being honest. They both know that without the ring, he's not so confident—overconfident, even—with anyone but her.

Because they both know that she loved both aspects of him, even back in Metropolis. And she hates herself for it, but she still loves him, all of him. And she knows he loves her back, even when she terrifies the meek side of him.

They pretend to be strangers, neither of them ready to face the twisted past they share. She wishes that he was still amnesiac, because now when their eyes meet, he remembers what they had, and forces her to relive it.

What they still have, no matter how many steel walls they hide it behind.

She meets the girl who drove him to Metropolis, and she hates the girl at first sight, although she puts on a façade of friendliness. After all, she should be completely oblivious of the girl. But he confided in her, Lois while they were tangled in bed sheets, and he was off the drug. She knows the whole story, how Lana had sobbed and screamed, but hadn't cared enough to follow him to Hell.

And that, he'd explained, was when he'd understood that Lana had never really loved him; she had just been infatuated with the mystery. The pain of rejection finalized had fuelled his motorcycle as he drove to Metropolis.

To her.

She'd met him for the first time when she was stumbling drunk out of a nightclub that she couldn't afford. She saw everything: his screaming, tears, and the searing scar on his chest, because contrary to popular belief, phone booths are anything but opaque.

And she saw the mystery, but didn't care about anything but the fact that a young, broken, and undeniably handsome young man was collapsed on the ground, sobbing.

Against all of her instincts, she was there in a second, arms wrapped around the then-stranger's torso, trying with everything in her to scare away whatever terrors haunted him.

He looked up at her, and all rational thought fled. She, cliché as it sounds, drowned in his deep green eyes that night, and even a year of no contact hasn't stopped her falling.

He broke eye contact first, turning away and try to cover his chest and the strange, alien scar that resided on it. Feeling vaguely like she had just lost something, she glanced down at the pavement, desperate for something to remind herself that she wasn't a lovesick puppy, that love at first sight really didn't exist, her eyes fell upon a strange, glittering red jewel set in a ring. The presentation was tacky, but the stone begged her to pick it up. In a more rational state, she would have ignored it, but a night of hard drinks had overpowered even the legendary endurance of the great Lois Lane, and she was more than slightly drunk.

Even so, her personality remained as it always had, and she forcibly marched back to his apartment under his directions. It turned out to be, rather than an apartment, a penthouse. She gaped at that. Who would have thought that the figure slumped on the pavement would turn out to be one of Metropolis' rich boys? Even Lex Luthor in his wild days hadn't been so lost—although, admittedly, she had never seen those wild days, but she'd heard rumors. According to them, Luthor had become a slaphappy, irrational idiot, not a shattered heap.

They barely exchanged a word throughout the whole trip, as she was more focused on putting one foot in front of the other, and he…he was quiet. Lois lingered at the doorway for a few minutes, her muted curiosity springing up, but she needed to get away before it was too late. Before her infatuation became more.

And then their eyes met, and it was too late.

Lying in his large bed later, they finally told each other their names. Clark Kent was his. Something stirred up a hair of a memory in her, but she stubbornly smoothed it away. She had an awful feeling that she should be feeling guilty for this night, but that would come later. She wanted to get to know this strange entity.

All too soon, dawn peaked over the tips of the smaller skyscrapers, and she knew that she had to go. The General didn't yet know of her occasional nighttime excursions, and she intended to keep it that way. Quietly, she and Clark whispered their plans to meet the next night. He made her promise not to come to Atlantis, one that she found odd, but obliged to anyways. She hadn't really liked the club anyways. It was too produced; the flashing lights, booming music, and arguably sexy bartenders screamed that it was top-of-the-line, and not a place where anyone would remember a humble high school student's name.

Before she left, she dropped the ring on the nightstand, because although she didn't mind stealing for a cause, she didn't like stealing from someone whom she had just made mind-boggling love to.

Still, she didn't understand why he so desperately wanted her out of there until she ventured back in during mid-July. There she saw Kal for the first time, a confident, sex-driven man on first-name basis with the bartender and, apparently, came in with a new girl every night. He should have been everything she hated about men.

But she couldn't hate him.

Instead she was enthralled, like the foolish girl she was, playing in an adult's world. This tough, uncaring exterior was exiting, different, and something her father would hate. Even more exciting was the fact that she knew it was just that: an exterior. Behind the face that half the girls at the bar lusted after was the farmboy she knew and—admitting it to herself for the first time—loved. He had hopes, fears, guilts, and insecurities like any other, and she was there to help him get through them.

That didn't mean that she didn't sit in the bathroom crying. After she witnessed his transformation for a second time, Clark looked and saw the tears shining on her cheeks, and he understood.

And that night, in a time that had become their own, he told her. Everything.

Of course, she didn't believe him at first. Who would? Aliens were more her cousin's arena than her own. But he whisked her off to the countryside—in a direction, she noticed, that was opposite his hometown—and proven it.


Weird as it was, it was also cool. She could just see the Inquisitor headline: I Had an Affair With an Alien!

But no, she couldn't do that to Clark or Kal or Kal-El or whoever he was. It took her a few days to come to terms with it, but he had been different the whole time. She knew that the first time she saw his scar. And so she was there again, at his penthouse. Their relationship began to take on a new dynamic—there were more midnight coffee session, and less time spent on the bed. It was still as easy and natural as though they had been friends all their lives, not as though they had been strangers who met on the streets of Metropolis, and he had just dropped a bombshell on her.

And then he was gone.

Lois mourned him for a day, and hated him for two after that, but nothing brought him back. A frantic call from her cousin resolved where he had disappeared to, along with the other mystery of where precisely she had heard his name before. Back to Smallville.

But he could have at least told her.

Now, they can't pick up where they left off, and both of them know it.

He's standing subdued before her, trying to make eye contact, to ask her what is left. She avoids him, keeping everything on a carefully superficial level. She'll keep his secret until her dying day, but that summer never happened, and it never will again.

Or at least that's what she tells herself.