Three weeks passed and Clark's worry grew to anxiety and then to panic when his calls to Lois went unanswered and his emails unread. Thursday evening found him pacing the kitchen of the farmhouse, wearing a tread on the linoleum.
"She's probably just been busy, Clark," His mother soothed, watching her boy stress and agonize. "Her school's started up again; she most likely just has a lot of work."
"But she won't answer any of my calls, mom," He burst out, running a hand roughly through his hair. "I just can't figure out why. What if she's hurt?"
"If you'd like to find out so badly, why don't you fly up and see her?" Jonathon put in helpfully. Martha shot him an exasperated look
"Because he doesn't want to appear overeager, Jonathon!"
Clark stopped pacing and faced both his parents. He was tense and his eyes reflected the inner conflict.
"Do you really think I should go see her?"
"It's up to you, sweetie," His mother said. His father joined in a moment later. "She's right, son. In the end, we can't make this decision for you."
Clark glanced outside. It was dark, too late for him to make the trip to Metropolis. He'd go tomorrow, meet her after school. The decision made, Clark slightly relaxed.
"Thanks guys, I'll go see her tomorrow," He sighed and blew out a breath that nearly toppled the kitchen table. This being a relatively normal occurrence, Martha merely placed a hand and steadied it. "I just hope she's okay."
"She'll be fine, you'll see," his mother said comfortingly. "Why don't you just relax for tonight, you'll see her tomorrow and there's nothing you can do until then."
Clark nodded restlessly. "Yeah… but I think I'll go take a walk."
"Take a jacket," Martha called after him.
Clark grabbed the unnecessary sweatshirt from its hook by the door. "I'll be back soon, Mom, Dad." With that, he walked out into the bitter wind, completely unaffected by the slicing temperatures and completely encompassed by his thoughts.
The sun reflecting off the skyscrapers opposite Metropolis High School was intense, blinding cars and causing cabbies to honk their horns more often than usual for even Metropolis. The weather however was chilly despite the sun, near freezing and as Lois walked to the bus stop, she kept her hands shoved deep in her pockets.
She was trying not to think of him. He had left message after message on her phone, and each time she listened to his voice she wanted to break down and cry again. The first few times he had sounded happy, certain that their missing each other was the result of dumb luck. Lately though his voice had sounded tense with worry as his calls remained unreturned. Lois deleted all the messages, terrified her father would find them on the phone.
She pushed Clark Kent to the back of her mind. He'd give up soon. He probably would be glad to get rid of the dead weight of a girlfriend halfway across the country. Even as her mind firmly scolded her heart, she knew it wasn't true. God, he must be hurting. But it was better this way. Her entire life had revolved around her journalism degree. She had fought tooth and nail for her high ranking position in the class and she couldn't afford to jeopardize her chances for college.
Her mind flashed to the locket, the gorgeous, silver locket. It was locked inside a box on the top shelf of her closet, a painful reminder of what she had lost and given up.
Her father was civil now, her mother and sister trying to be especially kind. Lois refused to speak with her father unless he asked her a direct question. She was courteous enough, but in her mind, her father was dead to her. In half a year she could graduate, attend Metropolis University and escape from her dismal home life and the bittersweet memories of her unexpected winter vacation. She'd have to do it.
Lois had almost reached the bus stop, having been walking on autopilot when she heard it. The voice. That voice. The voice that still called to her in her dreams… but only there. It was too dangerous to dwell on any other time than in the throes of sleep. She turned, already knowing who she would see and preparing herself for her calm façade.
When she saw him, her preparation had been futile. Nothing could have primed her for the sudden, harsh constricting in her chest at the sight of him, handsome and unaware… and striding right to her. When he was a foot away, a huge smile on his face that reached clear to his eyes, he went to give her a hug which she stiffly received.
He released her the moment he felt the tension, the smile rapidly clearing from his face.
"Lois… What… what's wrong?"
The hurt bewilderment in his eyes was enough to make her almost start crying then and there. As her mind caught sight of Metropolis University's giant campus not too far from where they were standing, however, she reminded herself of the stakes. Lois forced herself to harden her heart and stared at him coolly.
"I thought you would understand when I didn't return your calls, Clark," Lois began distantly. "We need to break up."
"What…?" Clark was staring at her like she had asked him to go rob a bank. "Why, Lois? Is it the long distance part of it all? Because I could fly here every day if you'd like. We could get me a fake address and even register me for school. I could just fly home to Kansas every night. Please Lois, we could make it work. Just give it a chance."
Lois schooled her expression.
"I-I've met someone else."
Clark looked at her in shock, hurt shining from his eyes before his face clouded over. "No you haven't."
Lois hadn't expected this. "What do you mean, 'no you haven't.' Yes I have!"
"Your heart rate is doing one sixty, Lois. You're lying," he said softly. "What is it, are you in trouble?"
"No Clark! I… I'm not lying! Just because you think you have all these fancy powers doesn't mean you can use them to… to… pry into people's…" Lois sputtered for the right word. "You shouldn't be able to know if I'm lying or not! Maybe my heart rate speeds up when I think of him!"
Clark stood there in his scuffed shoes and flannel shirt, obviously out of place amongst the urban and sleek crowd around him, feeling like he had just been punched in the gut.
"I still think you're lying," He finally managed.
Oh why wouldn't he just leave, Lois thought anxiously. If he stays any longer I'll give in. Please leave Clark.
Her silence seemed to speak more volumes than her words had and Lois regretted raising her eyes to meet his. They were filled with a silent anguish and heartbreak.
"I'll leave you then…" He finished quietly, the sound barely filtering to her ears. "Goodbye Lois."
He turned and walked stiffly away, turning into an alleyway. A minute later the crowds in Metropolis all turned toward the sky when they heard the inexplicable sound of a sonic boom.
Both teenagers waited until they reached their houses, not speaking to anyone, before they locked themselves in their rooms. On two different sides of America, behind closed doors, two teenagers curled up on their beds, their shoulders shaking.
Ten Years Later
Lois Lane stormed into Perry White's, the editor in chief of the Daily Planet, office on a rampage.
"Chief, I think there's a story here and that we should check this guy out. The crazy one this morning? His name is Samuel Platt and he was an engineer at EPRAD for ten years. He's…"
Mad Dog Lane trailed off as her gaze rested on the man sitting opposite her editor.
The man looked to be about 28, with thick, dark hair and even thicker glasses obscuring a portion of his face. Despite his unfashionably long hair and an ill fitting suit, it was obvious that he wasn't lacking in the looks department. Perry was speaking to her, but it was white noise as she and the stranger in Perry's office locked gazes.
"Lois Lane, Clark Kent," Perry was saying, oblivious to the tangible tension and chemistry in the room.
"Clark Kent…" Lois repeated softly, just as the man spoke her own name with the same amount of reverence and disbelief. The name stuck in her throat, so familiar yet foreign.
Clark was standing, but his knees nearly threatened to give way with this startling turn of events. He was five feet away from the "one who got away," the person who he had unconsciously compared all other women to since their meeting. None of them had ever matched up. And now here he was, the job of a lifetime within his grasp and he was botching his interview, unable to tear his eyes from Lois Lane.
"So you two ah… know each other?" Perry was still speaking, unable to interpret the looks they were giving each other.
"Um… yes we do, Perry, you see…" Lois began, finally wrenching her gaze from Clark's wonder filled one. She was interrupted by Clark.
"Mr. White, I'm afraid I've made a mistake coming here… please… I'm sorry for wasting your time."
Grabbing his suitcase with "CK" emblazoned on the front in peeling gold letters, Clark stood, his hands shaking slightly.
Lois stared at his retreating back, memories of Smallville and fairs, of Martha and Jonathon, of stuffed lions and heated kisses flooding her mind. Images she hadn't thought of in years, images she had tried to repress.
"Clark, wait!" Lois dashed after him, leaving a stunned editor in her wake. The sight of him walking away from her for the second time in her life, heartbroken, was too much for her to stand. In the years that had passed she had graduated at the top of her class from Metropolis University and had achieved a high quality job fresh out of college. Her father had served some jail time during her sophomore year of college, but he was out now and living alone. Lucy and her mother occupied a small apartment near Lois' modest one. But what she had given up was never far from her mind, even as she was seduced by the office Romeo and betrayed by her so called best friend in college. She had achieved her dream at the highest price possible, a heart that was never truly whole.
As the years dulled pain and muted memories, Lois had convinced herself that what they had shared wasn't real, that it was a passionate infatuation and that she hadn't crushed Clark Kent in her ambition to attend college.
One look into his brown eyes, so familiar and open, and Lois knew she had been fooling herself.
Lois grabbed his arm and he turned at her touch, old hurts dredged up at the bittersweet contact.
"What is it, Lois?" He asked softly. There was no anger or strong emotion in his voice. In fact, it was dulled and his face unresponsive.
"Please… come get a cup of coffee with me and… and I can explain everything."
Clark raised an eyebrow. "About how you broke my heart in high school? I'm over it Lois."
Wordlessly, Lois lifted her hand and pressed it flat on his chest, over his heart.
"You're lying, Clark."
As Clark's words from so long ago hung between them, reversed, both adults caught their breath.
"We're not teenagers anymore, Lois," Clark resisted half heartedly.
"I know, Clark, and you deserve the truth. The real truth."
Clark eyed her warily and then finally nodded his assent. She was as beautiful as ever, if not more. His heart still ridiculously betrayed him.
The two reporters made their way out of the Planet, a thoughtful silence between them. Lois couldn't help noticing how handsome he looked and Clark couldn't keep his mind off her.
Perhaps, if fate would allow, Lois Lane's gift for words would allow her to adequately express the driving motivations for that day outside the bus stop. And maybe, just maybe, Clark Kent's forgiving nature might be able to bury the years of hurt.
And of course, there was the possibility that the spark and chemistry that still burned between them might, with time, rekindle into a raging inferno.
The two childhood sweethearts jumped a little as they accidentally brushed hands, both recognizing the spark but afraid to acknowledge its existence. They took turns sneaking glances at each other.
Clark had grown even taller, even more built than she remembered. Those gorgeous brown eyes that she had looked into ten years ago were as warm as always, though Lois could detect a sense of hesitancy and hurt.
Lois had turned from a beautiful teenager into a stunning woman and Clark could barely focus on making his feet trip along in front of him. His fingers itched to touch her hair, and he found his gaze zeroing in on her lips. He vividly remembered the sensations that kissing her had shot through him.
Clark held open the door for her as they reached the coffee shop. She brushed by him, and his hearing detected her heart beat hammering in her chest. He swallowed, suddenly nervous. She took a seat at a small table in the corner and Clark took her order.
When he returned a few moments later, coffee in each hand, she took a deep, steadying breath.
And then she was telling him everything, the words tumbling ineloquently from her mouth.
As her story went on, Clark's gaze softened slightly from bruised to concerned. Halfway through, he hesitantly reached across and hesitantly slid his fingers around her own.
When Lois had finished, she was afraid to look up. Clark gently tilted her face and absently tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, meeting her gaze thoughtfully.
No words were spoken, but yet again volumes were said.
And you know the story from there.
Well. This has been the longest story I've ever undertaken. And this has also been the first that I've actually written all the way through and then posted. I started this a long time ago and went through huge writers block and then finally picked it up again. I know it's not perfect, but I hope you enjoyed it. And thanks for all those faithful reviewers. Your insightful and consistent reviews mean the world to me. Thanks again!