Clark was borrowing Lois' computer again. He felt bad about it, but Lois really didn't mind. He'd already found what he was looking for. He was about to leave, but he saw that she hadn't shut off her email. He looked around. She wasn't on this floor. He couldn't resist looking. It was mostly junk mail. He saw that her sister was sending her emails, but it wasn't anything personal just those pass-along type emails. He saw that a couple were from Oliver, which made him a little angry. He was tempted to read them or delete them, but Lois could handle Oliver. He was about to minimize it again when he saw an email from an online college. He wouldn't open it normally because it might be a virus or something, but Lois had already opened it.

'Congratulations, Miss Lane. You have successfully completed your journalism degree. Your diploma will be sent in the mail. We-'

"Why are you reading my email?" came Lois' angry voice from right behind him.

Clark cringed. His super hearing never worked when he needed it to. He had been so involved in reading it, he had tuned everything else out. "How come you didn't tell anybody that you were taking classes online?"

She rolled him away from the computer. "Because it's none of your business."

"It's an important accomplishment," Clark continued unabated. "We should celebrate. I'll call Chloe-"

"No, and get out of my chair," she cut him off. "Chloe's going through a difficult time. She's proud that she was able to juggle a full time job and classes and now she's gotten fired from here for no reason. All she talks about now is getting her degree next year. The last thing she wants to hear is that I've gotten a degree too and in less time."

He stood up. He knew she had a point. Chloe was feeling kind of low right now. "How about Mom? She-"

"It's not like I'm not having a graduation ceremony," she said, sitting down in her chair and rolling it toward her desk. "She's too busy and I'm not going to add more to her plate."

"What about your dad?"

"Yeah, right. He would point out how I could have gone to a real college instead of doing it online."

"Well, can I come to your celebration?" he asked, a little exasperated.

She looked over her shoulder. "Sure, Smallville, I guess you're welcome to come to my imaginary celebration."

"I'm going to throw you one," he smiled.

"Let's go to O'Malley's then."

"I know it's your celebration and everything, but I was thinking more along the lines of Le Chateau."

She looked at him dubiously. "Isn't that kind of fancy and are you sure you'll be able to handle the dress code? They don't make plaid suits you know."

He rolled his eyes. "Actually…and why do you always act like plaid is all I ever wear?"

"Oh, excuse me. How could I forget your blue t-shirts and red jackets?"

"I'll pick you up at 8:00," he said, choosing not to reply to that.

"I'll meet you at Le Chateau."

She watched him head out the door. She didn't know why he was so determined to celebrate her completing her degree.

sss

"It's 29.99," Lois said loudly.

Clark looked around, embarrassed and whispered back, "But you like steak."

"I like steak, but not when it's 29.99. I can't afford that."

"I'm paying for it. Get what you want."

"Fine, you can't afford that."

"Are you ready to order?" asked the French waiter, coming up to their table.

"I'd like 2 of the Steak au Poivre and a bottle of the Billcart-Salmon."

"Very good. monsieur," he said, taking the menus and leaving.

"How much you want to bet his accent is phony?" Lois asked.

"Shh," he said, "what if he can hear you?"

"I don't care if he hears me. I'll just ask him when he comes back."

Clark shook his head. There was no use encouraging her. If he was lucky, she'd forget about it. If he kept arguing with her, she'd do it even if she had been joking just to prove a point.

"You know if I didn't know any better," Lois spoke up, "I'd say you were trying to get me drunk. Ordering such an expensive bottle of champagne."

He blushed, "I was just-I mean it's a special occasion and I-I-"

"Relax. I said if I didn't know any better. Besides, it would take way more than just one shared bottle of champagne. I've drunk-

"Russian generals under the table," he said chiming in with her.

"Well, I have."

"I believe you. You know I'm really proud of you."

"Well, it's just a matter of building up a high tolerance. Plus, it helps to be tall."

"I'm talking about graduating."

She shrugged. "What can I say? I have no personal life just work. I had to fill up my spare time with something."

"Why don't you give yourself more credit?" he asked with a tender smile.

"I don't have self esteem issues if that's what you're driving at. I praise myself constantly."

"Yeah, but usually you're saying it humorously. Sometimes I think you use humor to cover up your lack of self esteem and your true feelings."

"Thank you, Dr. Phil. Did you come here to analyze me or something? I would advise that you pick a different subject to talk about."

A silence fell until Lois said, "You know what I like about Cracker Barrel? They give you something to do. You can play checkers or that peg game."

"Next time we'll go to Cracker Barrel."

"Ha ha."

"What?"

"The next time we celebrate my graduation?"

"I meant the next time we eat out together."

"Oh."

Another silence fell.

"You know what I have pen and paper in my purse," Lois said. "You want to play hangman?"

"We still have uncomfortable silences sometimes, don't we?"

She smiled. "Everyone has uncomfortable silences sometimes. It's doing something about the silences that counts. I just like to keep things moving and fill the silence."

"Yeah, I noticed."

She took out the pen and paper and he scooted his chair beside hers. They were still playing when the waiter brought out the steaks.

"I won. You're all hung up," Lois cried, pointing at her cartoon version of Clark on a rope.

"So what was it?"

Lois smiled as she wrote out, 'J'ai faim et soif.'

That's cheating. It's in French."

"We are in a French restaurant."

"Yeah, but the rule for Hangman is only in English."

"Says who?"

"If that's the way you want to play, I can put it in a language that you've never even heard of be-"

"Ahem," said their waiter clearing his throat.

Clark hadn't noticed the waiter and went back to his own side with as much dignity as possible.

They laughed about it after they left the restaurant.

"I guess we're less of French restaurant people and more of McDonalds people," Lois said.

"I guess so."

"It's been a lovely evening, Smallville."

"It's not over yet," he said. "I have another surprise."

She raised her eyebrow questioningly, but she followed him in her car. He took her to the Kent farm and motioned for her to get out and follow him into the barn.

"Oh, wow what a surprise. You're taking me to your loft."

He ignored her and led her up the stairs. On the coffee table was a cake with 'Congratulations, Lois.'

"That's sweet. Where did you get it from?"

"I made it myself."

"It looks store-brought."

"Well, not everybody's cakes turn into lopsided disasters."

She was close enough to jab him and she did. "Well, go ahead and cut the cake. I was wondering why you didn't want to order dessert."

"Wait a minute." He held up the cap and gown from his high school graduation.

"That brings back memories. What are you doing with that?"

"Since you don't get an official ceremony, I thought maybe we could have one here."

"Are you crazy?"

"Come on you've never had one. Don't you want to know what it feels like to put on a cap and gown? You bypassed graduating from high school, remember?"

"I'm not the amnesiac in this pair. It's still crazy and stupid."

He looked a little hurt.

She rolled her eyes. "Don't give me that puppy dog look." She sighed. "I guess, if it'll make you happy."

He started to help her slip the graduation gown on, but she snatched it away. "What are you doing?"

"You helped me get dressed for my graduation; I thought I'd return the favor."

"That's because you don't know how to tie a tie properly," she shot back, as she smoothed the maroon gown down. "Now where's that stupid hat?"

He smiled as he handed it to her. "You were going to be a radio jockey back then."

"No, I wasn't. That's what a magazine quiz said I should be."

"I'd have tuned in every time you were on the air," he laughed.

"That's nice I think."

"It would have been the most entertaining show on the air waves."

"Well, of course it would have," she with a smile and a cocky lifting of her head.

"You also made some predictions about me, remember that?"

"Vaguely."

"You said I was going to go into agriculture and law enforcement, marry Lana, and bring little Clark Jr. into the world."

"Yeah, well. Not even I can be right all the time."

"I was right," he said teasingly. "About you going into journalism."

"Are we going to get this show on the road or what?"

"I want to make some new predictions. You'll get that bumbling reporter across from your desk you were talking about sooner than you think. You'll marry him and have a bumbling child. Oh, and you'll get a Pulitzer."

She was glaring at him. "Are you quite through? The next time I want my horoscope, I'll look for it in the paper."

"Now that would be a fun job. Making up horoscopes. I think I have a knack for it myself."

"I'm going to take this stupid stuff off and eat my cake if I don't graduate in the next 30 seconds."

He laughed and picked up a rolled up piece of paper from the desk with a yellow ribbon tied around it. "It's obviously not your real diploma, but they never are."

"Hand it over," she said with her hand stuck out.

"Just a minute," he said. He turned on his cd player and played the graduation song. Lois tapped her foot impatiently until it went off. Then he said, "Lois Joanne Lane."

He gave her the diploma and shook her hand, only they didn't let go of each other's hand. They seemed to get a little closer to each other instead. Then before either one had really grasped what they were doing, they were kissing. Softly at first, but it began to build in passion. They never let go of the other's hand.

They broke apart at last. They were both a little embarrassed. Clark had been rendered speechless. Lois managed to smile, "If I knew graduating was going to be this fun, I'd have done it sooner."

Clark turned an even deeper red and then realizing he was still holding onto her hand, he let it go as if it burned him.

Lois was still smiling. "You know I'm actually kind of full from the restaurant. I don't think I can hold the cake."

"O-okay," Clark stuttered.

"Maybe you can bring me a piece for lunch tomorrow?"

Clark smiled, "That would be good. I can bring us some sandwiches too."

Lois quickly tossed off the cap and gown and started down the stairs.

"Congratulations, Lois."

"Congratulations, Clark," she said with a laugh.

He smiled at her retreating form. She was right. She wasn't the only who had graduated. It seemed he'd never quite made it out of high school, especially in the romantic department. He finally felt like he was about to embark on an adult relationship, one that he never wanted to graduate from.

The End