Disclaimer: I don't own: Superman, Smallville, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, or any other characters or properties, fictional or otherwise, mentioned in this fic. I am not profiting, just poking around in the toybox.

Sol and Solace

Clark looked at his feet: he had crushed butterflies with those feet, and sent storms spiraling out into his future, and the future of humanity, he knew it. He had thought he wanted normalcy, and now he would wonder forever if he could have saved Lex.

And here he was in the barn loft of solace.

He felt his lip curve up slightly at the corner as he took in his surroundings. It was a macrocosm of him, right down to the kryptonite in his drawer – he knew he kept kryptonite in his mind, warping his perspective like the magnet by the cathode ray tube.

But he wasn't getting a chance to dwell on that today.

"Hey, Smallville!"

Lois was bounding up the stairs; with legs like hers, two at a time was nothing. She was smiling wide, but there was something bittersweet about it, and Clark felt the same kind of expression on his own face. He didn't want to leave. Not now. Not when he was beginning to see.

Lois looked at the luggage propped up neatly next to the couch, and then around the room, and frowned back at Clark. "You sure you've got everything you want to take?"

Clark grinned, and shook his head, "Yeah, Lois, I'm sure."

"It's just," she put her hands on her hips, and then lifted one of them and took the room in a sweep, "you haven't taken any of your pictures of Lana," she paused, "or your telescope."

Clark stood up, and dusted himself off before crossing his arms, "I don't need them."

At this Lois raised her eyebrows, "You don't need them?" She cocked her head to one side, "Are you feeling okay?" she asked, her lips revealing the mocking irony.

No, thought Clark, casting his mind back to a similar conversation, I think I'm in love with you.

"I will be," he said, "when I'm outside of a three-mile radius of you."

"Oh don't start with that," she said, "you know you're gonna be calling me 24/7 for fashion advice." She looked momentarily pensive, and then added, "I'm actually thinking of setting up a hotline."

Clark hoped she was joking about that last part.

"Yeah," he said, "yeah," looking down at his feet with his hands in his pockets. When a moment of uncomfortable silence had lapsed between them, he thought he might risk being serious and said, "Look, you know I'll be coming back. It's just – I need to –"

"Get out," she said, "get away from the memories, expand your horizons and stuff before you come back and face your destiny." She shrugged, "I get it."

Sometimes Clark wondered exactly how much Lois really 'got' about him. It seemed to be an awful lot.

"Look," said Lois, catching his eye seriously, "I know it's hard – leaving – but for what it's worth I think you're doing the right thing."

Clark nodded, looking down at the well-worn wooden floor.

"Hey," said Lois, and Clark looked up at her. She shrugged, "You know we'll all be waiting for you when you get back, right?"

Clark breathed in deep, feeling his intercostal muscles contract, and then looked at Lois with a kind of wry smile, "You'll be waiting for me?"

Lois seemed to swallow, and then nodded curtly, "Yeah."

It was strange the way she always took him by surprise like that. Clark felt the smile slip off his face as this time he swallowed, and their eyes met just for a moment. He looked away. At the edge of his periphery he saw Lois do the same.

Clark kept kryptonite in his mind, and there was kryptonite all over town. Chloe had once conflated Lana with kryptonite, and sometimes, when he thought of how weak he had been, he was inclined to agree. But that wasn't Lana's fault. And this, this was different. It was moments like these which made the whole world gleam with clarity: this was Lois, and this was the pain of the sunlight which made him strong, and burdened him with responsibility.

At times like these he felt like he understood.

Lois was examining the wall behind him now, but there was a strange smile ringing around the edge of her mouth, and Clark didn't want to leave her. But then after a moment she said, "Oh suck it up, Clark," and punched him on the shoulder, "you won't miss me that much."

He shook his head, "Lois, you have no idea."

This time it was Lois whose face flashed surprise. They caught eachother's eyes again, and then quickly looked away. And there was all that space between them, Clark thought. They were standing by the window, and there was all that space and nothing filling it but sunlight.

This was so stupid.

He wanted to say goodbye to her properly, to tell her he would write, and call, and think of her.

"Lois," Clark said, slowly, but she looked right up at him and shook her head.

"Don't," she said, "don't ruin it."

"Don't… what?" he frowned.

"You know," she said, and when he just creased his forehead further she sighed, "this – it's fine. In fact, it's perfect! There's no need to bring… anything else up," she winced at that last bit, as though she had hinted at more than she wanted to reveal

And Clark smiled, because Lois's mouth would never stop running away with her.

"Anyway," she said, "this is a perfect goodbye." She bit her lip, and looked over his shoulder, avoiding his gaze, "Anything else can… wait."

"Yeah," he said, and she looked up at him, and he sighed, "I guess you're right."

She nodded slowly, and then smiled and punched him again. "Well then," she said, "I'll see you around, Smallville."

She stood there for a couple more minutes, while silence rang in the air around them and the sunshine between them. Clark raised his eyebrows.

"Are you going to leave?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said, "in a minute."

"In a minute?" He crossed his arms.

"Yeah," she said, a little testily, "would you hold your horses?"

Clark nodded, and just stood while she seemed to turn something over in her mind. He felt himself start to smile as she furrowed her brow, and then seemed to shrug just slightly to herself. Then she was looking at him with narrowed eyes, and he felt suddenly like there was no air in his lungs. And then she leant up, and kissed him softly on the cheek. He closed his eyes, and felt her fingers in his hair and the solace she gave him.

"Yeah, I'll be waiting," she whispered into his ear, and then rolled back off her tiptoes, smirked at him, punched him on the arm for a third time, and turned to walk out of the loft.

It took a moment before Clark registered what had happened.

And then he felt somehow better about knowing he was coming back.