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.

The Moon is Rusting

It was like breathing. Clark didn't know how it worked, didn't need to know: it worked, and he was hanging there, suspended above everything – above the clouds, and the particles which scattered sunlight into the blue sky.

There was no day or night up here. No storm.

It was the surrealest peace he could have imagined. He remembered his first flight, the pain of anticipation which seemed to burst in his gut, propelling him up, up, away, and when he looked back he thought he could see his vertigo waving at him from the ground. And now, he was one of a select few to see first-hand that the sky was not a painted ceiling.

It was so still.

He closed his eyes.

It was always there, even when he skimmed the edge of the atmosphere – he didn't even remember when it had started – a faint beating, steady, steady, and unending.

Th-dump. Th-dump. It was always with him.

He knew he sought it out really. And even now he didn't know what to make of that.

And it was time to be getting back now. Two years: he had walked the length of the globe and tried to learn; he had begun to understand very simple things about humanity, and he had worked it out – who he was, and what to do. That was enough.

He felt his clothes shift just slightly against the thin air as he started his descent. They fluttered around him as he picked up speed, finally slicing through the air towards Kansas.

All was dark on the farm.

He knew Martha was there, taking a weekend off from her job in Washington to welcome home her only son, but no doubt asleep – but her bedroom was upstairs in the house, and he heard a faint stirring in the barn.

He walked over, no hurry, just breathing in the scents he had craved without knowing it – corn, and sunflowers, and Kansas in the crispness of night.

Things were almost unchanged in there: almost. Without Clark's help, Martha had been forced to downsize the farm considerably, and the lack of hay in the barn was one almost eerie testament to this.

Clark felt a twinge in his heart to think of the family farm his father had worked so hard to protect – but he knew, and he could displace his guilt long enough to acknowledge, that Jonathan would understand his reasons.

And now he knew who was in the barn, without having to look. He could hear her heart beating – steady , steady – and he was smiling.

Lois Lane – investigative reporter and one time bane of his existance – was asleep in his loft, on his sofa, where she had found him the last time they saw eachother.

He hesitated. He had never fathomed the note they left their relationship on – and it had been two years. What if he was rusty at their coded communication and didn't understand? What was he expecting anyway?

But he could stand here forever, in the shadows beneath his loft, not knowing. He breathed in, filling his lungs, and then climbed the stairs, treading softly.

Lois was sprawled across the length of the sofa, one foot dangling over the edge, fully dressed and with her mouth hanging slightly open. Clark smiled.

A shaft of starlight fell across her through a broken beam which he supposed Martha hadn't been able to fix, edging her features in silver clarity. Her hair was dark, darker than he had ever seen it, and he crouched down beside her, just touching a few strands with his fingertips.

Before he could process what was happening, Lois's knee had shot out and struck him in the stomach, and now she had screwed up her face and was clutching it to her chest.

"Damn it!"

He stood up quickly, and scratched the back of his head as she breathed in and out deeply, and then opened her eyes and looked up at him.

"Clark?" She blinked, and rubbed her knee a couple of times, "What the hell just happened?"

"Uh, you must have kicked the –" he cast about, "back of the couch, and then rolled over or something." He shrugged, raising his eyebrows in innocence.

Lois frowned. She looked up at him somewhat sceptically, "I could have sworn I felt someone touch me."

Clark felt the nervous laughter bubbling up, but managed to hold it in. He coughed. "Maybe I brushed past you when I was coming in," he said, crossing his arms.

Lois seemed to turn this over for a minute, and then sat up and shrugged to herself.

"What are you doing here anyway?" Clark said. "I thought you'd be in Metropolis."

"Oh," Lois bit her lip, "yeah I thought I'd come and help Martha give you a proper homecoming."

Clark was taken aback by the touch of sincerity in her voice – and something else.

"I knew this'd be the first place you'd come," Lois continued, with a twitch of the lip that seemed dangerously like a smirk in the making, "I must have fallen asleep, you know – waiting." She looked up at him with a strange kind of smile, and Clark knew she was thinking of the last time they had met, when he had wanted to tell her how he felt, and she had kissed him goodbye.

He uncrossed his arms and sat down beside her, not knowing what to say or how to say it. Just being here was like seeing the Sun for the first time all over again, and it was burning in the pit of his stomach.

"Hey…"

When he looked sidelong at her, Lois was frowning. She tilted her head to one side: "Are the glasses new? – You didn't have glasses before did you?"

Clark's jaw dropped, and he raised his eyebrows. "No," he said, taken aback, "no, they're new."

There was a moment of silence, and then Clark felt his shoulders shaking. He looked back at Lois, "is this the Lois Lane school of investigative reporting?"

"Hey," she said, bristling, "I knew something was different. I just… didn't know what," she trailed off with a shrug.

"Whatever," she said, after a moment, "I'd like to see you working for the Daily Planet, Mr Shoot-to-Conclusions-First." She nudged him with her elbow.

Clark breathed in, "Actually," he said, looking at her, "that's sort of what I thought I might do, you know – now that I'm back."

When he looked at her, she seemed to be smiling, but then she turned to him and said, "Oh yeah? You just try to keep up with me, Smallville. I have a feeling you'll be chasing after me for a long time to come."

She nodded to herself for a moment after saying that, and then got up and walked over to the window, leaning over and onto her elbows.

Clark was reminded forcefully of his pursuit of Lana, and the way he had spent so long wanting her and not saying, and he thought Lois knew that – it sated what she was saying in layers of meaning, things she knew, things she was telling him.

"I hope not," he said, still on the surface talking about journalism, but underneath…

They settled into a somewhat uncomfortable silence after that, one which Lois didn't bother to break. He wondered if she had changed so much, or maybe there was something special about now, about tonight.

"Look," she said eventually, still looking over out at the sky.

Clark was jolted out of his reverie. He stood up and crossed over to the window and looked up at the Moon, now a reddish bronze hue with a halo of stars much brighter around it.

"They said it would happen tonight," she said, looking sidelong at him, "the eclipse."

"The Moon is rusting," he murmured, and she raised an eyebrow.

"Getting kind of whimsical over there, Smallville," she said, giving him a nudge with her elbow.

He grinned and caught her eye, shaking his head. The simplest things sometimes stole all the words out of his mouth, and it was all he had to reply with.

But it felt like they were suspended together in a state of purgatory. They'd left things where they couldn't get back to the way it was when they were just friends; both of them knew it, but Clark was afraid to say it, afraid to go forwards.

He felt like his heart was rusting, and little pieces were breaking off, rushing through his bloodstream. Lois was looking up at the Moon, and he could hear her heart beating too – not so steady now.

And that's when he knew.

"Lois," he said, and she looked over at him, eyes narrowed, lips upturned. He breathed in trying to steady the uncertain cadance his own heart was beating.

"Lois, when I left –" he said, and now her heart was racing, but she seemed so calm, "I didn't want to leave," he said, "even though I knew I had to. I didn't want to leave because suddenly it felt like I had all these possibilities. There were things," he paused, "things I wanted to stay for."

"I guess once in a blue moon," she said, "even Clark Kent talks about his feelings."

He smiled, and shook his head, "The Moon's red tonight, Lois."

"Whatever," she said, smirking, "red and blue, same diff really – at least," and she turned to him, "as far as you're concerned."

This was it, he realised, this was the moment when he had to close that space between them and anything – sunlight, moonlight, anything – that was in it. He was back, back forever here with Lois.

He closed his eyes, and breathed in, and then he opened his eyes again, and she was watching him. He swallowed, and carefully leaned over – and just kissed her on the mouth. And then he could feel her, leaning up, her hand moving up his arm to rest at the back of his neck, and he pulled her up into a hug, kissing her cheek and burying his face in the crook of her neck.

And it felt like the first time he had taken flight – strange and beautiful, and unerringly natural and right. And he thought, couldn't help but think that if he looked over his shoulder he might see his fears, and doubts, and insecurities there. But he didn't want to, because this was peaceful, and it was surreal.

"Welcome home, Smallville," Lois whispered into his ear, "welcome home."