The more you try to erase me,
the more that I appear.
No, you're wrong, you're wrong
"The Eraser" - Thom Yorke
Clark felt fingers down the ridge of his spine: light touches against his skin, pressing into his shoulder blades.
He blinked open his eyes, and forgot all fingers and spines and wings.
It had been a long time since Clark felt this stiff in the morning — he almost couldn't remember when. He looked around, and wondered if that was the effect of sleeping in an unfamiliar place: an unfamiliar, lonely apartment, with his life in cardboard boxes at the foot of the bed.
He wondered why he hadn't unpacked them already. It would only have taken a minute. He would have woken to a room full of all the things that made it his, and the nostalgia of memories he locked up in wooden boxes and cigar tins.
It's strange how some things which feel like they should have meaning — don't. Clark looked at the journal from all angles: it had his initials embossed in one corner, and pages ripped out.
He ran his fingers over the pages, down the spine, wondering where it came from. Maybe he found it somewhere, and wondered why someone would mutilate and then toss it aside.
He found a pen, and then wrote the date at the top of the first page. He paused, and then added "Clark Kent: the Metropolis years."
Clark decided to take a run, to feel the wind between the wings he never grew, to blow the dust out of his mind.
He just ran, and ran, and jumped, and flew, and found himself in Smallville after all.
Being in Smallville brought back forceful memories of his childhood, and his first love: Lana's beautiful dark eyes as she let him go, and he wondered why he ever let her do it.
It all felt so much more recent than it had the day before, and somehow it ached — but then, maybe it was the bittersweet ache of nostalgia. Clark was never sure which of his pains were which, whether it was best to respond to them or let them be — and maybe now was not the right time to ask Lana for one last fling after all.
There was a woman a few metres away from him, her hand a fish brushing through the waves of corn as she walked. He watched her meander in a way which seemed somehow uncharacteristic, walking away from him now, into the sun, and he couldn't quite make her out.
He hadn't been into the town in a long time now, although it seemed so very habitual still. He wondered what there was left for him in Smallville now anyway: the girl, the town — all had changed, and washed away.
His eye was caught in the Talon by the outpouring of sugar into a coffee cup, and he thought it was the woman from the field again. He didn't realise he was staring until she looked back at him, and cast him a smile which told him how she felt about that. He looked away.
Clark hadn't caught a bus since the day he first met Perry White.
This time, he felt the draw of the bus's unbearable slowness: three hours, confined to one space with nothing but his thoughts.
And yet there she was again: the woman from the field. And, somehow, they sat together on the bus.
"You look so familiar," she said, breathless and ready to clarify: I would never hit on somebody like you. Clark watched the way her mouth moved into that nostalgic, winsome smirk — so young and so old in one movement. She seemed to understand everything, everyone: him.
And somehow he let her go.
"So, we meet again."
That wisp of hair, the way it rested against her cheek: Clark had never thought he would see it again.
I met you in Smallville.
She accused him of being her stalker, and he just — just blinked, and adjusted his glasses, and wondered, as he shot back a defense, if this sudden lack of confidence was an act.
And it didn't matter either way, because she asked him out, and didn't know why, and he wondered if she always understood like he had thought she did.
He took her flying — not that first time on the Daily Planet roof, not as Clark. He dressed himself up in red and blue and took Lois Lane up above the Daily Planet so that she could see how the world was at her feet — and they burnt red against the sunset.
The taste of her lips: so nostalgic somehow. He kissed her: first as Superman, by mistake, second as Clark, his glasses half falling off his face.
He saw her fall in love with both of him, and didn't know what to do.
Her back to him, her hands on the wall. "I'm glad you came,"
But she turned to him, and he knew not to talk over her this time.
"I can't see you anymore," she said, the knuckles of her clenched fists so pale. "I —" she paused, "I have somebody else."
And somehow it hurt, even knowing who the other man was.
They fought for the first time about missed dates, and he knew it was coming. When they were done, and he saw Lois's face clammy and red, her chest heaving from the anger, he thought she was as surprised as him that it had hurt so much.
Then he started to wonder why they had fought so hard for a first time, and worried that this was the beginning of the end.
Her fingers down the ridge of his spine, whispering — "Are you ticklish?" Her smile against his.
Do you ever feel that we've done all this before?
"I would do it all over again."
Author's Note: The main characters in the film find out about their memory wipes. In this fic, Clark and Lois never do — part of my aim in writing the fic was to play with the idea of a mindwipe as springboard into a more "mythos-aligned" future for Smallville's Clark and Lois.