Disclaimer: "Smallville" (c) is the property of Warner Bros. Entertainment (tm) and The CW Studios (tm). Characters are based on the 'Superman' (c)comics, property of DC Comics (tm). All characters contained herein are the writer's interpretation and no profit is being made.

Greetings From The Author: The song 'Apologize' was playing on my internet radio this morning about an hour before I went to work and it struck me with such ferocity. Filling my mind with the image of Oliver watching Lois walk away from him for what would be the very last time. I was filled also then with a stifling desire to cry. I know what Clois is (I like it's comic version and fully accept the destiny of the SV version), almost everyone does know what Clois is, but I felt very strongly about Lolliepop and I think a lot of people concern themselves with what Clois means to Chloe or Lana . . . well what about Oliver? I'm not sure everyone will like this that much, but I'm pleased with it, even if it IS a one shot and in the end no one is cheating on anyone. Just a sad portent to the loss of 'what might have been.'

It is just a one-shot, and it's ALL Lois and Oliver with a few other characters that get mentioned and it takes place sometime in future, exactly when we don't know, but soon after Lois and Clark are engaged and they throw a party for that. I actually ALMOST finished this before I had to leave for my job and then tweaked it when I got home from work. The song and this short story stayed with me all morning. I hope after reading this that you get something from it too . . . and Happy Holidays:)

Also if anyone is interested in listening to the song that inspired this one shot, if you haven't heard it already or even if you just want to listen to it again, go to Youtube(dot)com and look up 'Timbaland - Apologize - from Universal Music Group' There's very little 'Timbaland' in it, it's almost ALL One Republic but it's a very nice song and quite sad I think.

Too Late

I'm holding onto your rope, got me ten feet off the ground.
I'm hearin' what you say but I just can't make a sound.

I'd take another chance, take a fall, take a shot for you.
And I need you like a heart needs a beat, But it's nothin' new.
I loved you with a fire red, now it's turning blue, and you say...
"Sorry" like the angel heaven let me think was you
But I'm afraid...

It's too late to apologize, it's too late.
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late . . .

One Republic & Timbaland

When Oliver Queen had heard the news something inside him broke. Clark Kent had been overjoyed; Lois Lane had finally agreed to be his wife. The entire Justice League had been made privy to the news, the Kryptonian himself flying in with the biggest grin on his face, blue eyes wild and dazed. It would have be impossible not to realize something monumental had happened. Everyone had smiled, Diana even hugging the boy scout of their league, Bruce shaking his hand and grinning humorously as he informed Clark that he was happy for him but he wasn't getting a hug. Everyone had been genuinely happy . . . except for Oliver. Sure, he'd smiled right along with the others, even shaken the hand of one that he'd come to call friend. His own lady, the lovely Dinah Lance, whispering that maybe someday that would be them. Staying in the main room of their headquarters long enough to be cordial, finally secreting himself away where only solitude could clear his mind.

He'd always been a man of action, not words, but what words there were never came easily. It seemed like a lifetime ago when Lois and himself had begun what soon became the most serious relationship he'd ever had with a woman. For once he'd found someone that he'd wanted to make a life with, but his duty to the world, he felt, outweighed that. He'd left and she had told him not to expect her to be happy when he came back . . .he had come back nearly a year later and she wasn't happy. Oliver had wanted so desperately to tell her the truth, arriving at the Daily Planet (and how proud he had been of her then) to find her seated at her desk all the intensity of her hazel eyes on the screen in front her, fingers tapping maddeningly at the keys. There and then after so long of 'doing his duty' he had so desperately wanted to tell her who he was, why he'd left . . . and finally at long last that he was in love with her. To really say it.

To say 'I want you' that was easy, lust always was, but to say 'I love you' had always been hard. For Lois too it seemed, the only time she'd told him how she had felt was when they'd parted ways the first time. His own confession came as indirectly as possible and even in that moment, fraught with emotion, it'd been impossible to lay his heart bare. Oliver was a private person, he would forever be that way. Whenever anyone wanted to 'talk about it' he'd promptly told them to mind their own business or he had so hastily changed the topic that the other party had no choice but to follow.

Then he'd met Dinah, the feisty bottle-blonde taking his heart-ache away . . . except for those long lingering moments between dreaming and waking where he could smell Lois' shampoo. His face buried into a pillow that he fantasized was her hair. He finally would open his eyes and see nothing but the clean sheets on his mattress. It was in those moments that he had to rush to his bar and get a drink, drown the painful stabs in his heart. Dinah had suspected that there was something wrong with him, but she never pried. The couple had a 'don't ask and don't tell' policy when it came to those sorts of things. It was on again, off again affair, but really Oliver didn't mind. Dinah wasn't his soul-mate, he wasn't all that sure that he believed in those (not anymore), but she was beautiful, smart and fun. It was comfortable.

Once Clark had spoken of Lois, of the growing affection he had for the leggy brunette (frosted hair stripped of anything but it's natural dark brown wealth) and Oliver had felt compelled to caution him. He had told him to be careful, because Lois Lane was the kind of woman you never got over. Clark had turned blue eyes on him then, confusion and perhaps a spark of jealousy there and Oliver had left, thinking that he'd said something he ought not have.

Now here he was, at the couple's apartment some time later. A smattering of co-workers, friends and what few family they had between them having a good time at their engagement party. The members of the league had been invited of course, though with other less 'super-heroic' members of society there it was all kept very simple.

Oliver took a large swallow of champagne and went out onto their balcony. Dinah had gotten caught up in a conversation with Lois' talkative cousin, Chloe Sullivan, and the blonde haired, brown eyed man had been left alone. The lights of Metropolis glittered out in the darkness like a blanket of stars, the real stars hidden above the haze of the city's glow. It was late spring, and there was a slight chill in the air but not enough to bother Oliver through his black khakis, white shirt and black blazer. 'Dress casual' had been on the invitation and if anyone was familiar with that it was Oliver Queen. A voice caught his attention and he dropped his glass, sending it to shatter on the stone of the balcony and the champagne that had been within darkened the surface.

"Oh, Oliver! I . . . I'm sorry, I just wanted some air. I'll go get something to clean that up." Lois remarked, the expression in her eyes as shocked as Oliver's had been . . . and something else.

"No, no I'll do it." He hastened to move and do just that but he was caught in her hazel gaze, dark locks swept up into a cloud of chocolate curls atop her head. Always a stunning woman she looked even more so in a light blue gown that Oliver thought would be right at home on the figure of the goddess Aphrodite, as tall and stately as the woman before him now. A faint smile graced her mouth as she inclined her head.

"Nonsense, what kind of hostess would that make me?" Even so, she didn't move either and the two stood there, staring at each other. It had been a while since he'd seen her and the last time she'd been shooting him sparks from her eyes. Some of the others within the league had seen her, Bruce certainly since he was good friends with both Clark and Lois, Diana on occasion . . . but never him. He wondered if that wasn't on purpose, Clark either secreting her away or Lois making efforts to avoid an uncomfortable meeting once she knew Oliver was a member of the superhero set.

"Lois . . ." He sighed at the sound of her voice on his tongue, with the woman herself only a few feet away at the opposite side of the balcony. The wind blew a slight gust and ruffled the fairy-like fabric of her gown. Without hesitating Oliver removed his jacket and went to drape it around her shoulders. She shook her head and he took it back, watching as she rubbed at her arms nonetheless.

"I haven't seen you yet. I . . . congratulations. You deserve it." He tried again awkwardly. She'd long ago learned who he was, what he did when he went out 'moonlighting' as Lois would call it. To be honest Oliver was never sure that he'd ever had her fooled, confused maybe, but not fooled. In the end Clark of all people had asked the members of the league if they would feel comfortable with Lois knowing, not feeling comfortable about asking the woman to spend the rest of her life with him if he had to keep anymore secrets. How strange, that after all that effort to keep Lois in the dark, to keep her safe, that it was a marriage proposal from another man that had made Oliver come clean. Now he couldn't help but imagine what would have happened if he were to find himself in the place he once had, the place that was now occupied by Clark Kent.

"Deserve Clark? Well, that's a strange sort of way to congratulate me but . . . thank you. I think he might be in for a surprise though, I'm a lot to handle." She grinned, but it faltered when Oliver only stared at her. "I saw Dinah inside, isn't she missing her companion?" Lois queried, one eyebrow up (always the left one) at the question. Oliver watched her with an intensity that he knew was inappropriate and it became even more clear when the object of his gaze fidgeted. "Oliver?" She still had a way of saying his name that made his heart clench and in that moment he almost couldn't speak.

"She'll be alright without me. Lois . . . Lois there is something I need to say." He started but was halted by her putting a hand out and gesturing him to be silent.

"No. I know what you would say and it's . . . Clark and Dinah are just inside. I don't want my fiancé to hear us and get the wrong idea . . . even if you are friends." She stooped to pick up the broken glass but Oliver grabbed her arm and pulled her up. "Don't." She cautioned, barely above a whisper.

Oliver was oblivious to the worry that Clark might overhear them. He didn't use that super hearing of his all the time after all. Right now all that mattered was finally letting Lois know how he felt. No matter how late in coming. She was marrying his friend, she was marrying someone else and before that happened she had to know. Her face was so close to his and he could almost taste the champagne that the woman must have recently drank. The scent of the shampoo he had so loved was clinging to her hair. After so long she still used the same kind and it was making him heady, but he was resolved, fighting back the urge to kiss her.

"Lois . . . I love you. I've always been in love with you. I'm always going to love you." His throat tightened and he forced himself to continue. "You deserve so much better than me, and Clark is a good man . . . but it's killing me. Sometimes when I'm with Dinah I forget who I'm kissing . . . so many times I've imagined it was you. I am so sorry for not telling you sooner, who I was, how I felt . . . but I love you Lois."

Her eyes were closed and when she pulled from his grasp he let her go.

"Please . . . please say something." He was begging her. He never begged.

She turned her back on him, but stopped short of the doorway. The sounds of the party were sounding out onto the balcony. "I . . . I'm sorry Oliver."

He put his hands in his pockets, heart breaking anew. Though he hadn't expected anything, honestly he hadn't thought that moment out at all. That was Lois for you, always arriving when you least expected it. "It's too late for 'sorry' Lois. It's too late for everything, isn't it?"

Lois almost looked ready to cry, but she nodded, a sad smile on her face. Barely above a murmur, she nodded. "Yes, yes it is." Walking back into the main room she left Oliver standing on the balcony, broken glass forgotten, and heart just as shattered. Just before she went out of sight the lamplight from inside shone clearly on her face. She shot him one last glance before turning her head and smiling into the room. A smile that used to belong only to Oliver, a smile that now belonged to Clark.

'This is it, isn't it? This is the moment I'm going to regret for the rest of my life." He'd asked so long ago and her simple answer the same as it had been just now. "Yes."