Lois had always heard everyone talk about the meteor shower and how devastating it had been. Chloe had pointed out Lana's crying, beautiful face on the cover of Time to try to demonstrate how fully it had affected everyone's life. Yet to Lois, survivor of hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes, it all sounded pretty over dramatic. Some rocks fell – roof tiles were lost, cars were dented, and okay, Lana lost her parents, but could it really have been that bad?
Lois had wanted to go to Chloe's graduation and seeing Clark in his red robe with his white, straight teeth hadn't been half bad either. When the tanks rolled in, she had been surprised but not scared. She'd grown up with tanks and guns and military men shouting orders at her. She'd even stolen a tank once, when she was fourteen, but she'd not made it off the base and had been grounded for three months – the entirety of her summer vacation.
So the tanks came and she stood, ready to protect who ever needed protecting and the soldiers (young things, really, when one was used to being reprimanded by officers) had shouted about the second meteor shower and the town wept and screamed and ran and she… she didn't buy it. Chloe ushered her away and Clark disappeared like usual and the Kents fled and she just wanted to stay, to wait it out because a meteor shower would be just one more thing that she'd lived though.
But when the sky fell, it fell hard. The meteors were not small pebbles and it did not feel like hail. Rocks the size of tractors crashed into the earth and had Lois wanted to run like everyone else was, she knew there wasn't anywhere to go. All she could do was wait, and watch. She found herself thinking the same thing over and over. Clark will come. But he didn't, and she climbed up that hill to get a better look, at least, before she went for Lois always had been insatiably curious. The rocks fell and crashed and destroyed and when it stopped, she was holding her breath, her cheek pressed against the trembling ground, her nails clawing at something solid to hold on to. She really though Clark would have come though she wasn't sure what he would have done had he been there.
When she finally righted herself, she brushed the dirt off her clothes, checked her body for injuries (there were none) and walked back toward town. Her cell phone did not work and so she could do little to help the people she spotted along the way, bleeding and broken. She didn't know where Chloe was, didn't know where anyone was. For how packed the roads had been, they were eerily clear now… the only cars left were the ones smashed and on their sides, axels spinning slowly. She quickened her pace but slowed when she came into view of the town, broken, on fire, desolate.
She'd been so certain, so sure that the worst would not be like this, that something would spare this town that had nestled deep into her heart. It was a long walk to the Kent's house and when she saw it, she had to blink the dust out of her eyes. The roof was collapsed in and she ran in, ready to help in whatever way that she could.
Lois was surprised how quickly everyone moved on, though. Immediately the town started to rebuild itself. Clark returned and Lex brought Chloe back but not one of them gave any sort of explanation of their whereabouts. Even Chloe who told Lois everything was tight lipped and had conveniently developed a case of amnesia… something that seemed to run in the Kent family as well. She didn't pry, though, and when the time was right, she left Smallville, left the Kents, and went home to her real family.
Her Journalism teacher, upon finding out that she was in Smallville during the second meteor shower in fifteen years, insisted she write an article about the experience for Metropolis University's less than stellar campus newspaper. The journalism program was strong but anyone with talent worked at the nearby Daily Planet and so the campus paper suffered for it. So, wanting the A she was missing in all of her other classes, she wrote the article and it was published on the front page the next Monday (the final issue of the semester), her byline bold and beautiful.
Chloe called, excited, having seen the article first thing via Met U's website. The Journalism teacher gave her the A. The editor-in-chief, a senior boy names Chuck begged her to join the staff of the ailing paper when the new semester started and maybe even go back to write a follow up. She told him she'd consider it and then, soon, she was back on her way to Smallville knowing not what she would write about but wanting to see the rebuilt Kent farm all the same.
It was summer now, hot and sticky and she got back to town to find that Clark and Lana were finally, disgustingly an item. She wanted to not care. She wanted to be happy to see Clark happy but there was something about Lana that just didn't fit. She felt like there was some big, cosmic puzzle and Lana was the piece that was being smashed in place even though it was obvious that the shape didn't fit. Chloe offered to help her find the angle for her follow up article but she had months for that so instead she served coffee at night and during the day she checked out books from the library and went to the lake like everyone else her age, intent on browning herself and taking a dip every now and then. She browned easily, Lucy always did too.
Early, before most normal people were up (not the small farming community of Smallville, though) she went running in tiny shorts and athletic shoes so that her stomach stayed flat and her arms and legs strong. Also so that she could wear her red (or blue) bikini without feeling the least bit self-conscious.
It was an okay summer, really. Being brown and beautiful, having enough money in her pocket to buy anything she wanted although she got two pay checks a month and always gave the first one to the Kents. Martha and Jonathan wouldn't hear of taking her money so she cashed it and stuck the folded bills into the cookie jar that sat dusty on the top of the refrigerator. She'd been looking for cookies one day and found the rainy day savings instead and she didn't tell them she left money there and they didn't say that they'd found any but each month, it was gone.
Clark was rarely home at night. He slept at the Talon in the apartment upstairs with his sappy girlfriend and their sappy relationship that made Lois irrationally angry. She liked to wake up early to find Clark on the sofa, snoring softly. He would sometimes get up and put on his shoes and go running with her. He would run in front of her so they'd both stay within the confines of the road's narrow bike lane. She didn't mind though, he set a solid pace for her and never faltered in his footing and he knew just how far to push her. Right when she thought she couldn't go on, they would round the bend and the farm would come into view and they would find a soft patch of grass to collapse into. Her legs would burn and she would be smelly and sweaty but he would put out his hand and pull her up anyway. Now she ran alone and she ran hard and she always burned herself out and found herself panting and alone, a mile away from where she wanted to be.
She didn't have to stay in Smallville and watch her cousin pack for college or watch Clark watch Lana. She could go home to the small brown house her father inhabited on the army base. She had her own room and though she technically shared a bathroom with Lucy, her younger sister was never there and so she had the whole bottom story to herself. But at home, she was lonely. Her father barked orders at her and though she knew that he loved her, they were too much alike and did not get along. She expected Lucy to come home pregnant or beaten up, or both, but instead she didn't come home at all. There was nothing for Lois at home and because of that, she stayed in Smallville.
Clark came home one morning to find his entire bedroom shoved into the hall and Lois in her Talon apron, scraping his blue wallpaper off of the walls.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Redecorating," she said, needling the corner of her spatula under the soggy, discolored paper and triumphantly peeling a huge strip off.
"My bedroom?" he asked.
"Your mother said it was a good idea," she said. "You aren't nine anymore, Clark, this blue paper with airplane boarder dates you." But she had started at the top and had already been working for hours – his airplanes were nothing but a wad of glue and paper in a big, black trash bag. Her hands were covered with dried glue and her bangs had begun to grow out so she had them bobby pined back. She was in a pair of his boxer shorts and a red tank top and though he didn't want her to redecorate his bedroom, she looked happy to have a project.
"Well," he said, dubiously. "What are you going to do to it?"
"I was thinking of painting it a pale green, or maybe an off-white or cream," she said, looking around. "And these are beautiful wood floors," she said, pointing down though the floors were covered with a blue tarp at the moment.
"You can paint it blue," he said. She opened her mouth to protest wildly but he actually looked like he meant business and so she smiled at him placidly.
"I'm sure we can find something to agree on." He nodded, pleased with his ability to stand up to her and turned to try to climb his way out of the room. "Why are you home so early?" she asked.
"Lana went to visit her aunt Nell for the week," Clark admitted.
"Great!" she said. He looked at her strangely. "I mean, you can help me," And so Clark went about pulling paper off and before the sun went down they were finished. She was aching and tired but the walls were white and washed and Clark was interested to see what she could do to a space. They ate dinner and Martha showed Lois where all the camping things were so she could find a sleeping bag to sleep in the barn with, since Clark's bed was taken apart in the hallway. Clark walked her out to the barn and helped her find an empty spot in the cluttered loft to lay out the padding and sleeping bag. It was warm and the air was sweet and alive with the sound of Kansas in the summer time. She was tired, but not sleepy and so Clark stayed with her, lighting candles for extra light so they could sit cross-legged on the floor and play card games on the old, wooden coffee table.
"I'll be safe out here, won't I?" Lois asked, suddenly, watching Clark get ready to go.
"Sure," he said, "I sleep out here often."
"But you're you – you never get hurt." she said.
"What could hurt you?" he asked, smiling but her face was sincere and her eyes were wide so he went down the stairs and opened the door to the shed where the other sleeping bags were and she grinned when he rolled out a second bag next to her. "I'll save you from the crickets and lightning bugs, don't worry." he said. She smacked his arm playfully and lay down. He switched off the single, bare bulb that half heartedly lit the barn and blew out the candles one by one until there was nothing but the moon to light the space. It was a big, bright moon, though and she lazily watched Clark crawl into his sleeping bag awash in silver, celestial light.
"Goodnight," Lois murmured, turning on her so she faced Clark.
"Night, Lois," he said, laying on his back with his arms under his head, looking out at the stars.
Lois woke up early, around the breaking of dawn, to the sound of rain. She was a little cold and had scooted toward Clark in the night. Their sleeping bags were flush and he was warm next to her. Outside it was grey and humid – summer rain. Still, it was colder than she was used to and her arms were covered in goose bumps.
"Clark, wake up," she whispered, laying a hand on his chest.
"What?" he moaned, rolling away from her.
"It's raining," she said.
"So?" he groaned, opening his eyes and peering out at the soggy fields and the miserable cows there were crowded to one side of their pin, trying to fit under the small overhang.
"So, I'm cold." she said. He groaned, annoyed but crawled out of his sleeping bag to the sofa where there were a few blankets.
"Unzip your bag," he said, grumpily. She immediately obliged and he did the same to his. He laid one of the sleeping bags out over the padding, the warm flannel side up. She sat bag down and he took the other sleeping bag and spread it out like a comforter. He put the other blankets over the sleeping bags and then, still half asleep, crawled in next to her, pulling her chilled body against his.
"I'm not Lana, you know," she said, after a beat, worried.
"I know," he said, closing his eyes, letting sleep claim him once more.
But when they woke again, she pushed him away. The very smell of him was making her dizzy and all of her blood had surged upward and she felt light and about to snap and so she crawled out of bed and ran through the hard rain to the house where she startled Martha in the kitchen.
"Lois, sweetheart, are you all right?" she asked, motioning the girl in even though she was dripping from the ends of her hair and muddying the floor.
"It's raining harder than I thought." she said. Martha smiled uneasily and though Lois tried to laugh, instead, she burst into tears. Lois didn't tend to cry in front of people and so she put her hands up to her face and turned her back toward Martha, who stood frozen, surprised. Slowly, she approached the girl and put her hand on her back, gently, as not to scare her.
"What happened?" Martha asked. Lois just shrugged, and stood up straight, suddenly. She wiped her face and turned around, forcing a watery smile on the older woman.
"I'm fine," she said. Martha frowned. She took Lois's hand and together they walked upstairs into the bathroom. Martha leaned over to plug up the tub and turned on the hot water. Lois sat on the side of the tub. Martha got a fluffy towel out of the cupboard and set it on the closed seat of the toilet.
"You just get out of those wet things and take a bath and when you're done, I'll fix you some breakfast, okay?" Martha said, touching her head, feeling for fever. Lois looked up at her with big, brown eyes.
"I never really had a mother," she said, "she died when I was young."
"Well, I never had a daughter and Clark was a gift from God. But I would be glad to have you as a part of my family, Lois Lane, and I love you." Martha said, and leaned down and kissed her forehead. She left the bathroom and Lois took off her clothes and sat in the tub of hot water feeling a little better.
When she came downstairs, the rain and slowed considerably and Martha had, as promised, made eggs, bacon, and toast and Clark was sitting at the table happily stuffing his face. She sat gingerly next to him and filled her plate.
"Do you want to go pick out paint?" he asked, through a mouthful of food.
"Hmm," she said, noncommittally. She wanted to stay away from Clark because she could feel her body betraying her already. Being attracted to Clark was one thing but she was afraid that if she spent very much more time with him, her mind would fall for him too. As much as she disliked Lana, she would not be the other woman. It was simply not in her nature. Clark shrugged.
"Maybe it's too wet to paint, anyhow," he said, though as he said this they both looked up and noticed that the rain had stopped. Lois went to work an hour and a half early just to get out of the house. She wore boots instead of her normal, canvas tennis shoes because the ground was soft and damp as she walked to her car. In town, she pulled behind the Talon and parked in the small staff lot behind the shop and sat in her car with the engine off. She could already smell the coffee inside and she took deep breaths to try to steady her self. She got out of the car and looked up at the dark, menacing clouds and she knew the rain would start anew within the hour. She would be happy to be inside with warm drinks and murmured conversation and tiny, white strings of lights. She put on her apron and tugged on the end of her braid to make sure it was secure and slipped in to the back door.
The one waitress on duty, Amy, looked haggard and was happy to see Lois and more than happy to abandon the last hour of her shift to go home and sleep. Lois clocked in and stepped up to the register where people ordered and took their numbers and Lois made their drinks and carried them to the small, round tables. This was the slow time of the day. In an hour, Mrs. Kent would come and another two girls – Susan and Ramona, tonight, and the Talon would be busy until at least 10:00. Waitressing was something that Lois could do without much effort, at least. After that first shaky week, she got the hang of it and now she could remember the orders without even writing them down.
Midway through her shift, she was walking around slowly with a pot of decaf refilling the white mugs of the older customers humming softly to her self. The rain was steady and inside the door was rows of dripping umbrellas and the coat rack was filled with slickers of every color. She didn't fancy driving home in the rain and every so often the sky lit up with lightning.
"Is this normal?" she asked Martha who was in the office counting one of the registers now that the rush had ended.
"Summer storm," she said, waving Lois away, trying not to lose her place on the long strip of register tape she was mulling over. Lois went to tell Susan that she could clean the bathrooms, and then leave. The rest of the night would be lonely with Martha in the office and she'd sent Ramona home sick after she sneezed three times in a row on a full plate of poppy seed muffins. Too many people had seen and she had to throw them away.
Now, she stood at the counter reading a fashion magazine that some one had left behind waiting for time to pass. She heard the bell on the door and looked up to see Clark walk in with that serene expression he always wore. He always looked so goddamn happy.
"What do you want, Smallville?" she asked, flipping the pages of the magazine too quickly to read.
"I thought I'd come hang out until it was time to drive mom home," he said.
"I could have given Mrs. Kent a ride," Lois said, looking up. Clark looked like he knew that. "Why are you really here?"
"I wanted to… apologize about this morning," he said, carefully.
"You shouldn't be apologizing to me, Kent. Lana is the one who is going to get the short end of the stick when all is said and done," she said.
"Lana didn't just leave town to see her aunt," Clark said. "We had a fight."
"I see," Lois said. "About what?"
"I told her something and… it doesn't matter. She said she needed to leave town to 'clear her head' but something tells me if she comes back, it won't be for me." Clark said.
"I'm sorry you broke up with your girlfriend, Clark, but that doesn't mean that you're ready to move on the next day." Lois chastised.
"That's why I'm apologizing," he said. She looked back down at her magazine.
"I accept," she said, finally. "Do you want some coffee?" She poured him a cup into a red mug and he doctored it with cream and sugar. He took it and leaned against the counter.
"I hope I didn't blow my chance with you Lois," Clark said. "I agree that maybe I was rushing things and that I may not be ready to move on right now, but some day I will be," Lois looked up at him, surprised, a slight smile playing around her lips.
"It's hard to say, Kent." she said. "Who knows what the future holds?"
By the end of the week, the redecoration of the room was complete. Lois had painted it the original pale green she had hoped for, reminding Clark that he would be going to college soon and who knows how long Lois would have to live in the room. She made white curtains and bought new bed linens and by the time everything was finished, it was a nice room. She was sitting on the bed, reading a book when Clark came in and sat next to her on the firm mattress.
"It's official – Lana has decided to go to Met U and is going to stay with Nell in the city until she moves into the dorms." he said. "I really screwed that relationship up."
"A few times," Lois chimed in. He elbowed her in the side and she jabbed him back. "You're going off to college, you'll meet new people." she promised him.
"I'm not worried," he said. "Someone is out there for me."
"You just never know when you're going to meet her." Lois said.
"You just never know," Clark echoed faintly, agreeing.