Story Title: Meet Me in Smallville
Writer: Interstellar
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Eternal sunshine, Superman. Clark/Lois.
Author's Note: OK, this is the deal: I am in love with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind right now, and I thought that if I twisted the premise a little it would make a fun Clark/Lois fic. I may just be crazy. Let me know. Also, I think I have characterisation issues -- so criticise away.

Meet Me in Smallville

I need your lovin', like the sunshine
Everybody's gotta learn sometime

28th September, 2011.

Back in Metropolis.

I'm not sure why here. It seemed as good a place as any to start over now that everybody is gone. My new apartment feels so empty today. I thought I brought more back with me. I found this journal at the bottom of one of my unpacked moving boxes. There's nothing in it but my initials in one corner — I don't even remember buying it.

I need to get a job: a day job, and a life I guess. Maybe I should give Lana a call, see how she's doing. We could give it another go, one last fling, now that that's all out of the way, now that I know what I'm doing.

At least, I know what I'm doing with one half of my life — the rest all feels so sparse, I don't know.

I don't know why I came out to Smallville today. Just sitting out in the cornfields. Is this how I'm supposed to occupy my time when I'm not helping people?

When do I help people anyway? I don't remember the last time I saved someone who was in trouble. I guess I don't have that half of my life as figured out as I thought. Maybe I'm just kidding myself with this. It wouldn't be the first time.

Who is that girl?

The sun is in my eyes. I can't see her face.

The Talon has all been redecorated now. I guess the new owners weren't big on Lana's decor. When was the last time I was in here anyway? I don't recognise any of the faces: they all fade and blur around me now. Is this even my town anymore? Is there a place on Earth that's my home?

There she is again. I think it's her. She is sitting across from me, emptying sugar into a large cup of coffee.

She smiled at me: a terse smile which asked me why I was looking at her. It ... burned. I looked away.

Maybe I should move back into my parents' farm.

No, I should stay in the city.

I'll meet somebody in the city.

Clark took the bus back into Metropolis, for no reason except that he was apathetic and in no rush to get home. He stood at the stop in the fading sunlight, and waited until the girl from the coffee shop sidled up to the stop. She nodded her head in acknowledgement, and then stood with her hand on her hip until the bus came.

"Can I sit here?" she said, after their eyes met for a fourth — not that he was counting — time.

Clark looked around him. There was nobody else on the bus. He looked back at her, and she raised her eyebrows.

"OK," he said. "Um, yeah." He shifted self-consciously up in his seat as she sat beside him and kicked her feet up on the seat in front of them.

"So why were you in Smallville?" she opened.

"I, uh, grew up there." He looked out the window across the fields, not wanting to meet her eyes and have her see how drawn he was to her. He swallowed and looked down at his hands, and then chanced a glance in her direction. "What about you?"

"Oh, my cousin used to live there," she said, waving her hand dismissively.

"Used to?"

She laughed. "Yeah I guess it does sound a little weird," she said.

Silence lapsed between them.

"So —" he began after a moment, but she interrupted.

"It's just that you look so familiar," she said, and then added hastily, "and that's not me coming on to you, by the way."

"I —"

"Hey, you wouldn't happen to know my cousin?" she said suddenly. Clark raised his eyebrows, feeling a little out of breath. "Chloe Sullivan?" she said, "She went to Smallville High?"

Clark opened his mouth and then closed it again, taken aback. "Yeah," he said, frowning, "yeah, she was in my class."

"That's how I know you!" she said, enthusiastically. "I must have run into you going to see her or something." She nodded to herself, and pressed her lips together. After a moment she added a little more quietly, "Small world."

"I'm Lois, by the way," she said, sticking out her hand. "Lois Lane," and then, as Clark shook it, "wow, good grip."

Clark smiled, sheepish, and looked away, rubbing the back of his neck: "Clark Kent."

He took a breath, and let his eyes flick back over to her, then put his head on one side. "I just —" he began, and when she turned her eyes on him he faltered. "Well, I just — would have thought we would have met sooner," he said, "I mean, I know Chloe pretty well."

"Maybe you forgot," she said, with a mischievous smile and a quirk of the brow.

"I don't think I would forget you," he said, shaking his head gently.

She drew her eyebrows together, and then frowned, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Clark's mouth fell open. "I — nothing. I didn't mean —"

"No," she said, "go on. What, am I annoying you?"

"No!" he said, holding up his hands in a surrender. She just shook her head: the sun was behind her now, setting the tips of her hair on fire -- red sparks which trembled and burnt in his heart. He was invincible, and terrified.

"Whatever," she said, rolling her eyes.

Clark swallowed, biting back on his molars, and just turned away. He adjusted his glasses, and looked out of the window.

"Hey Kent," she said, after a moment. Clark looked at her sidelong. "It's Kent, right?" she said, after a moment.

"It's actually Clark, but —"

"Whatever," she waved his comment away. "I just wanted to say, um, Clark: that was a little crazy of me. I apologize."

"Don't, uh, don't worry about it." Clark pressed his lips together — why was he stuttering? Who was this girl who made him falter, who scared him to death, who begged with her eyes to be forgiven and didn't even realise that she was?

"I guess I just woke up on the wrong side of bed," she said. Clark could empathise with that. She added, more to herself, "Been doing a lot of that lately."

A strand of hair fell in her eyes as she looked down into her lap, and she blew at it from her mouth. Clark wanted to lean over and tuck it back behind her ear — no, too intimate. He looked away again, and closed his eyes: there she was, too — or a photograph of her, a splash of colour against the grey pictures of the rest of his life.

He blinked his eyes open. Why? Why would he want that memory?

"I, uh," he looked down, and already regretted what he was saying, "I had some things I wanted to think about."

She looked over at him. "You wanna talk? I'm a great talker." She paused, and added, "I can listen too."

He looked at her, wide-eyed, and she pressed her lips together in understanding, "But I'm really not the person you want to talk to about this." She nodded, and then punched him on the arm: "I'll see you around," she said, and then added with a wink, "Smallville."

Clark just stared as she walked down the bus.

The Daily Planet: a great Metropolitan newspaper.

They have been advertising for reporting positions. I worked on small newspapers and freelance to make rent while I was travelling. It's in the city, and I will always know what's going on.

It makes sense.

And there's something else — something I can't describe. It's the rotating, glowing globe. It's the architecture. When I walk past it, I feel like I am coming home. Something is calling me, like something in a dream half-forgotten. I don't know.

Who was that girl, anyway?

"Clark Kent, meet Lois Lane."

Clark felt his heart squeeze in his chest, and he turned to face the woman he would be working with. She only quirked an eyebrow: "So," she said, with a half-smile, "we meet again."

"Oh," said Perry, and Clark looked back at him. "You two know each other?"

"We've met," said Lois, studying Clark's face. "In Smallville."

"Great!" Perry said, clapping Clark on the back. Clark feign falling forwards, and grabbed his glasses as they threatened to fall off his nose. When he looked up, Lois was wearing a sceptical expression, and he coughed.

"Lois," Perry continued, "Kent here is your new partner."

Lois raised her eyebrows. Clark caught a second glimpse of that fiery sunlight in her eyes. "Partner?"

She thought Perry was threatening her, Clark realised: she thought Perry was telling her she needed supervision. He swallowed, not knowing how to use this information to defuse the situation.

"Lois." Perry's voice was a low growl: now he was threatening her.

Lois glared at him for a few more moments. Then she seemed to relax, and step down. "Fine," she said, throwing up her hands and glancing sidelong at Clark. "Fine."

"So, what are you like my stalker?" she asked, when they were at her desk.

"What?" Clark was taken aback.

"Well you know," she said, "You're in Smallville, and then you're here. I'm sure you'll accidentally lease the apartment next to mine as well."

"I didn't know you were going to be here," he said, defensively.

"I have to warn you," she said flippantly, booting up her computer, "I have a third-degree black belt. I don't want to have to hurt you, but you're really barking up the wrong tree here."

"I'm not a stalker," he said, getting frustrated.

She looked up at him then, with that mischievous half-smile which told him she was kidding. Clark let his mouth fall open, and he frowned behind the thick lenses of his glasses.

"Listen," Lois said after a moment, when he was settled at his desk across from hers. She was still typing, not looking at him, but something in her voice told him that this was important. "It's not easy for me to say this," she said, "but I feel like — I don't know, like I have to." She paused for a moment, then added, "Sorry, I'm embarrassing myself."

"What?" he said, pushing her, looking over his computer monitor at her.

She glanced over the top of hers, and then looked back at the screen. "I'm sorry about how nuts I was when we met the other day. I'm not usually like that."

Clark smiled, although she couldn't see it. "I didn't think you were nuts," he said.

All he would have heard, if he were human, was the tapping of her fingers against the keys on the keyboard. As it was, all he heard was that, and a small, barely-audible intake of breath.

"So," Lois pulled the strap of her bag up over her shoulder and tapped a few keys on her keyboard, locking her computer. "Do you want to get a drink? There's this bar down the street, you know, the Ace o' Clubs. Or maybe," she pressed her lips together, and then said, "you could come back to mine — to talk."

Clark looked up at her, and he saw her falter a little.

"You know what," she said, and threw her hands up, palm outward, "forget I said anything. Totally unprofessional."

"No," he said, almost desperate to take hold of the moment which had just slipped past him. "No, that sounds great."

"So," Lois said, handing him a cold beer, "I promised myself I wouldn't drink after I got kicked out of college — but that didn't really pan out." She paused, and then added, "Not that I'm an alcoholic — because I'm not. I could stop if I wanted to." She closed her eyes and put a hand to her forehead, "OK, that's a place I really didn't think that comment would go to."

Clark smiled. "It's OK," he said. "I know what you mean."

"Do you?" she said, and her gaze was an accusation: how could you?

Clark opened his mouth, and then frowned at the realisation: "Yes."

Lois nodded, seeming to turn this information over in her mind.

"You know what the embarrassing thing is," she said later, when they were sat together on the sofa, Lois's feet in Clark's lap as though they weren't total strangers. He looked over at her, and she bit her lip. "The embarrassing thing is, I don't remember so much about that period of my life — you know, dropping out of university. I can't even remember where I lived."

She shook her head, and then laughed a little to herself. "Listen to me," she said. "I'm telling you all these things about myself that I don't even tell my cousin, and we've hardly met."

"Maybe," he said, looking at his lap. "I feel like I've known you my whole life already."

Lois snorted in laughter then, and buried her face in her hands. Clark looked over at her, hurt, and she tried to straighten her mouth. "It's just," she said, "tell me you didn't mean that to come out like that."

He stared, and then blushed. "Oh," he said, "I guess it is a little —"

"Trite?" she offered. "Cliché?"

"I wasn't —" he stammered, "I didn't mean to —" He breathed out in a frustrated sigh, and then picked her feet up, swinging them round onto the sofa and standing up. "I should go," he said.

Lois stood up, and faced him, pressing her lips together. "Sorry," she said, "it is late." She paused, and then said, "Do me a favour, though?"

He half-turned to look back at her.

"Meet me on the rooftop of the Daily Planet after work tomorrow," she said. "I want to show you something."

She was there before him, her back towards him, face towards the fading sunset.

"Lois," he said, staying towards the middle of the roof.

She smiled, and turned around, leaning back against the wall. "Come over here," she said, holding out her hand.

He took a few steps towards her, and then stopped, remembering himself. "I can't," he said. She raised an eyebrow. "I'm, uh, scared of heights," he explained.

Her mouth quirked then: just a little laughter at his expense. He didn't mind. He didn't mind anything she did. "Come on," she said, shaking her hand, indicating for him to take it. "If you fall, I'll catch you. I promise."

He stepped over to her then, looking over the edge of the wall down to the street below, feigning fear. Lois just smiled at him out of the corner of her eye. "Look," she said, indicating the skyline. Clark looked up, and what he saw then took even his breath away: the sun setting, setting the whole world on fire — a million windows burning in the red light, flashing in his eyes.

He looked at Lois: he was almost surprised that someone like her could find that kind of beauty in the world — almost.

He was taken by a desire to throw caution to the wind with both of them, to pick her up, and fly her high above Metropolis where she could look down to see a million lights like stars in the daytime.

Who was this woman? How could he fall so hard and so fast for someone he barely knew?

She just smiled at him.