Part 4- Small Truths

Not for the first time tonight, the thought occurred to Clark that a smart man would know when to concede defeat, give Lois time to cool off, and return another day with a different battle plan. As he approached the tall building, Clark admitted to himself that he wasn't one of those men. He had come this far, and thinking about all that happened tonight, the less cautious part of him reasoned that one more stupid decision added to the long list wouldn't put him on any worse footing with his lady love.

Taking a deep breath, praying that with the rush of air, courage would somehow find a way into his system, Clark pushed the small button his finger was hovering nervously over. His ears perked up at the sound of soft material padding lightly against hard wood before there was a buzz in response to his own. "'ello?"

The sound of her sleepy voice made Clark grin, he could picture the bunny slippers on her feet, Lois blowing the sleep tousled hair off her face as she rubbed her tired eyes. It was an image few had seen, the vulnerable side that for a few seconds was visible before any of her defenses could fall into place. The thought that he was one of the trusted few to witness such a sight made Clark's heart flutter and before his mind could catch up, his mouth opened. No eloquent words parted from his lips, just the simple truth of the night. "I'm an ass."

There was no preamble to his statement, they weren't the words he had agonized over the entire walk here, yet they fit better than anything he had come up with so far.

A pointed snort met his declaration, and Clark felt his heart lighten with the realization that Lois was still on the other end of the intercom. By some miracle, she was listening and, he hoped, waiting before she passed the final verdict over his fate.

Everything was hanging on the line. The promise of a love he instinctively knew, if given the chance, would surpass anything either had ever known. Beyond that though, was the unexpected friendship that had grown to be one of the most important things in his life, and the all too infrequent partnership Clark found himself eager to explore as the days wore on. The thought that it could all become a distant memory was terrifying, and Clark found himself speaking all the things he had meant to say over the years, but had never found the right words to express. His fears and insecurities no longer mattered, there was none of the over analyzation that always caused him to stumble over his good intentions. "I dialed your number. Everyday you were in Star City…"

It had been an unconscious gesture that had plagued him the grim weeks Lois had been gone. His fingers would press the little buttons out of habit, mind filled with a thousand tidbits of his day that he knew only she would appreciate. Moments later, a reason for delaying the call would surface and with a shake of his head, the phone would return to his pocket. At the time, his confused mind had been unable to label the invisible force that fueled his new compulsion, only months later had he been willing to timidly put a name to it.

The words flowed from him, without thought or guile his deepest thoughts met the night air. "…I missed you…"

A small sound met his ears, and in his mind, Clark could picture Lois gently resting her forehead against the wall as she listened to words that were coming too late.

He hated it had taken this long to admit the simple fact. Instead of letting her know the moment she returned, he had ignored it and focused on his far more turbulent thoughts. As he imagined her sitting alone in a strange city, thinking that she was all but forgotten to those she loved, Clark felt shame rear it's head at never taking the chance to prove otherwise. And there was no doubt in his mind that the few, all too brief, messages he had managed to leave had given her just that impression.

A thousand apologies danced on the tip of his tongue, but ended in an awkward smile at the realization he was no longer alone. The suspicious glances of the passing officers made Clark mentally cringe, knowing that his moment of truth was being forced to an all too soon end.

"Just one more thing before I go…" Clark murmured, certain that before he could conclude his night of confessions, there was one more thing that needed to be said, the words too long unspoken. The truth belonged to her as much as to him. "That night, the one we were supposed to get coffee… I know it probably doesn't count for anything, but…"

A sigh escaped his lips as he remembered the casual way she returned, willing to give whatever was between them a chance, offering the same to him. He hadn't taken it, and looking back now, wished he had.

"…I was there."

An audible gasp filled the silence, and Clark longed to see her face, to know which feelings were taking over her at this revelation. All he could do now was wait, and agonize over what that single sound meant.

If he had been hoping for any further response, it didn't come.

Instead of despair at the overpowering silence, a weight released from Clark's shoulders, and something akin to peace infused his body. Even if tonight hadn't ended the way he dreamed- far from it considering the woman he sought refused to so much as speak - the burden of these small truths had finally been lifted from him.

Maybe that was the point of tonight, Clark mused as he rested his head beside the intercom. It wasn't about winning Lois' heart or beating Bruce, but breaking down his own protective barriers and taking the first tentative step of trust. He could only hope that as Lois watched him tread into uncharted territory, she would find the faith to do the same in the future. Breathing in the cool night air, Clark knew he could wait for that day.

Until then, he would keep moving forward, because when Lois was finally ready to take that leap, he would be there to catch her.