Spoilers: None

A/N: This was actually inspired from a line in one of my other fics- I happened to see it the other day and this was the result. Many thanks to the wonderful Sepideh for the lovely beta-ing skills.

Learning Curve

After the first month, the shiny newness of it all has already begun to fade, and they are left with trying to forge a life out of his and hers. It's a daunting task that more often than not seems impossible and leaves her breathless.

She wants to scream because it doesn't happen the way she had always assumed it would. Their lives don't effortlessly merge into one as though two halves of a whole and as time passes it's all still so foreign to her.

There's a constant push and pull, both testing their new boundaries, silently wondering where the new ones begin and the old ones end- or if they ever ended at all and are merely overlapping. Most of the time, it just feels like they're two kids playing house, pretending to be mature adults all the while failing miserably.

Lately, she's begun to think that maybe it's a conspiracy. That if the married people of the world actually let their single friends in on the harsh truth, then marriage would become obsolete and the seams of polite society would start to tear.

The fact that many of her other friends have slipped into wedded bliss with grace disproves her theory, but she ignores it in an effort to hold off the panic slowly creeping up her throat. She seems to be the only one floundering, her head barely managing to stay above the water. Her only consolation is she's not alone in this- the ring on her finger is proof of that- his hand is firmly locked with hers and he's sinking by her side. It makes her wonder if they would both be better off if they simply let go, maybe then it would be easier to tread the water.

There was a time when such thoughts never would have dared to even so much as cross her mind. She had once been so secure in their future, no matter how much her stomach clenched and her hands shook with nerves, there was always the sense that she could do this, they could do this- as long as they were together there was nothing that couldn't be conquered. After all, they had faced the things nightmares were made of and in the end had triumphed, so this was bound to be an easy feat.

Maybe that had been their first mistake- under-estimating just what was in store for them. They both went in with idealistic notions and a false outlook. All their preconceived views of how things should be- how they would be- had been formed from an outside view of a seemingly perfect marriage. Sometimes, she can't help but question if everything had been as perfect beneath the surface as it had appeared from a distance. It's a question she never dwells on for too long- she doesn't think she can handle it if the answer isn't the one she so desperately needs.

It seems like everyday they learn something new about the other, little idiosyncrasies that can only be overlooked for so long. She wonders why all the time they had spent together before didn't prepare her for these little habits. Hell, she had lived with him when they were younger, so she's baffled that she's just now discovering these things.

All of their time together before somehow rings of false advertising, and she briefly contemplates suing before realizing she doesn't exactly know who, if anyone, is to blame- besides, she's pretty sure Clark could counter-sue with the same claims about her.

The novelty has worn off ages ago, little quirks she once found endearing now grate on her nerves.

The way he walks around the apartment in his torn socks, toes peeking out from numerous holes, is no longer something she can smile about because, honestly, all her mind can focus on is that she's the one that will be expected to buy him a new pair when the time comes- just like with his sweat pants, boxers, and the damn dress shoes he literally runs holes into.

He grumbles and points out that he had been dressing himself long before she came around, but she knows most of it was his mother's influence. Besides, if she didn't do it, he would simply walk around in rags and she refuses to let anyone think she's slacking off in this department.

The things they would laugh off before are now constant sources of screaming matches and an endless back and forth of placing blame. She leaves the dirty dishes on the table and he can't seem to remember that the toilet seat goes down- always down.

His snoring- that he claims can't be worse than her constant tossing and turning- wears on her frayed nerves and makes a good nights sleep impossible. Her fantasies of late now revolve around being blissfully alone in the large bed with no trace of the bothersome noises.

The experts say this is a common problem with couples, so she doesn't let it bother her more than necessary. Although, she is starting to worry that every other sentence out of her mouth quotes some 'expert' or other- she's like a walking encyclopedia of all those books that promise to help with these situations.

Sadly, all that knowledge doesn't seem to do her any good- or maybe she's just interpreting them wrong- either way there's much to be desired when it comes to her personal affairs.

Work is more demanding and the long hours they spend together during the day does nothing to help ease the growing irritation that simmers between them on an hourly basis.

Their conversations have dwindled down to one word answers and grunts that can be deciphered by the hand gesture that accompanies it. It's odd, a couple that used to be able to talk for hours at a time and still have so much more to share has been reduced to this. Sometimes it's unbelievable that two people that make a living with words can have so little to say- or maybe there's just too much that needs to be addressed and neither knows where to start.

When they do actually talk- she read in one of those many self help books that arguing and things said during sex don't count, so it's a rare occurrence- she can't stop focusing on all the things that need to get done- and by the look in his eyes, he's thinking of the same.

It's good to see that at least on some things, they're still on the same page because most of the time, they can't seem to see eye to eye on even the most inconsequential of issues.

Any good shrink would say all their squabbles stem from a bigger issue, but she doesn't have the energy to delve that deep because if she does, inevitably another battle will begin and she's tired of going over the same problems repeatedly without ever reaching a resolution.

Old flames come up in most arguments; brandished as weapons and used to gain the upper hand. It doesn't matter that they were originally fighting over money, their job, who did or didn't do what, because somehow, any past mistakes- and their love lives are most definitely in that category- are brought forth and hurtled at the other. Their fights leave both battered and bruised- they know each other better than they know themselves and that makes the cutting jabs all the more precise and devastating.

There's always a lingering doubt in the back of her mind in the aftermath, what ifs have become her forte.

A majority of the time Lana and Oliver happen to be the central theme of those musings. She can't see the docile Lana Lang picking fights for no reason, or the laid back billionaire lashing out in retribution.

They always make up, stilted- and yet heartfelt- apologies. Their regret is a tangible thing.

The wariness lasts for a few days before things gradually slip back to normal. Sometimes, she doesn't know if that's a good or a bad thing. Either way, it's not the quiet limbo that seems to hover over them after one of their epic blowouts.

One day Chloe asks for marriage advice, jittery over her own upcoming nuptials. It's ridiculous that the blonde somehow came to the conclusion that she could help in this arena, but somehow to the outside world, hers is a marriage of perfection. Lois keeps her advice to herself, because she's really not the one that should be dispensing such wisdom.

Also, she thinks it can't be good that the only word she could come up with was Don't.

Guilt instantly floods her at her unbidden thought, because it's not all bad. Things can be good, really good, but it's the times that aren't that haunt her and make it impossible not to wonder if it's worth it because almost a year later and she's still trying to cope.

This can't be normal, they should have adjusted already.

Her life has become endless phrases of before and after, countless hours comparing how they used to be to how they are now, trying to figure out a way to bridge that gap, and just which road they took to get to this point.

There don't seem to be any answers and maybe if she included him in this trip of over analyzation they could figure it out, but she's tired of being an us and we, and for once just wants to be an I and me. Resentment bubbles in her chest, her decisions are no longer only hers to make and the life she's worked so hard to build is permanently linked to another.

After a life of independence, it's a hard pill to swallow.

Some days, it becomes too much and all she wants to do is walk away from it all and find the life she had before. The chances are there, a sly new reporter that shows just the right amount of appreciation to a frantic and disillusioned wife or the overly attentive and mysterious stranger that holds the perfect mix of danger and recklessness.

She wishes she could say it wasn't tempting – that she never considered it for even a moment, but she's not that good of a person and it has crossed her mind.

Her guilt never has a chance to rear it's ugly head, because he confesses that it's crossed his mind too, the goddess that shares his burdens of protecting the world apparently holds a certain appeal.

They both accept these not quite transgressions for what they are- fleeting thoughts born of the desire to recapture the barest hint of the lives they once knew. Still, that doesn't make the situation sting any less and she knows this is one more thing that will be added into their bitter feuds.

It doesn't give her any satisfaction that she's right because it does come back up, along with every other misdeed- imagined or not.

They're both frustrated and ready to call it quits, hours of this back and forth taking it's toll on them, when the word comes up.


It steals the breath from their very lungs as they stare at each other in wide eyed shock- fear rippling through the air. They backtrack immediately, both all too eager to change the subject and forget this moment of uncertainty.

In a better world, neither would be so willing to sweep their problems under the rug and maybe they would both come to the realization that they were losing an uphill battle, but sometimes when their eyes meet across a crowded room, she knows that this is pretty damn good too- and maybe a perfect world would be far too boring for the both of them.

Besides, she thinks they're both ruined for anyone else because like he once told her, fighting with each other is ten times better than being happy with someone else. It's probably not the healthiest sentiment in the world and she knows that any mental health worker would frown upon them.

That kind of thing should bother her or at the very least register some sort of unease, but none of it matters because when he wraps her in his arms- even though her nose itches and there's no way to scratch it without disturbing him- it dawns on her that this isn't what she thought marriage would be and sometimes it's far less and maybe they really would be better off if they just cut their loses- because god knows they have their fair share of baggage- but at the end of the day, he's still the only one she wants to go through this with.

And maybe that means they're doing something right.