A/N: I don't know where to begin! So I'll start with an apology/confession: Yes, it had been little over a month since the last update (starting to regret putting that dowe for those of you who haven't noticed :P) Though if it helps to know, I'm always working on it, even through exams and pre-graduation chaos, I'm thinking about Cira and time-travel and Clark's naked chest.

Now, this latest chapter is possibly the longest thing I've ever written – just over 12000 words, which is really like three chapters crammed into one. The reason? I couldn't break it up – it would have taken away from the effect I think. So, hopefully, the quantity (and quality) makes up for the looong wait.

Next: please note that the rating for this chapter has shot up from PG13 to NC17. Yes folks, it's gonna get a little hot in here. If you can't handle the heat…well put on a swimsuit or something, because I think it'll be worth your while to stay in the kitchen. Seriously, I don't write smut for the sake of smut, everything is for the benefit of honest representation.

Next next: you guys are 100% amazing. Please, believe me when I tell you that every single comment is loved and cherished and fed cookies.

Almost lastly: I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to drvr8 for all the blood, sweat and tears he's put into this chapter (and this fic as a whole). Seriously, he's taught me the importance of having a beta to review, revise and rejuvenate the whole writing process.

Lastly: after all that you'd think this was the last chapter right? Well, it's not, one and a half to go. I plan on writing a short, companion piece to this chapter, since there were one or two loose ends that I just couldn't fit in, so if you see a shorter update sometime soonish (see, no commitments), don't worry, it's not the last one.

'Kay, enough from me…

Past Imperfect

Chapter 17 - Kaleidoscope

She stares out at the horizon. A vista painted with pink hues and vivid purples, acts as a canvas behind the city's harsh lines and tall buildings. For that moment, that brief moment before the sun dips its luminescent head behind the skyline, she remembers why she loves this city, why it is the one place in all the world that she calls home. She takes a step away from the bright twirling globe, towards the edge of the building and looks down. Below, she sees nothing but corn. Fields and fields of ripe, golden corn. Stalks swishing this way and that, waving their leaves as if calling her down. She steps onto the ledge, peering at the ground, searching for a soft spot to fall. Perhaps the barn. The bright red barn hidden somewhere in the cornfield. If she squints hard enough, she might see it. She's looking so hard that she doesn't even realize she's falling until he catches her.

Always the same. A soft whoosh of air and then an unexpected feeling of warmth, as if he carried the sun in his pocket.


He says her name as if it were a fragile thing. Two syllables that could be picked up by the wind and carried away to some far off land.

She doesn't open her eyes. It's always the same. She hears his voice, so familiar, so comforting. She feels his hands around her waist and then they're flying. Beyond cornfield and skyscrapers, beyond the moon and the stars. She doesn't open her eyes because it's always the same.

When she opens her eyes, it all goes away.

But this time is different. This time she feels the moon on her face, his breath in her ear.

"Look up," he says. And she does. And she knows it's him before she sees his face.

Only one person could ever show her the stars the way he could.

"Clark." Just one syllable, warm on her lips.

She smiles up at him, "You caught me."

He tightens his grip on her waist and she wonders why his hands are cold. "I'll always catch you, Lois."

"I forgot how bright the sky is," she whispers as they fly over a playground where a little girl is learning to ride a bike. "Can we do this again tomorrow?"

He looks at her strangely and the moon sighs. "We can't do this tomorrow."

"What about the next day?"

The little girl has fallen off her bike and no-one is there to help her up. She wonders where the little girl's father is. Playing with his tin soldiers no doubt.

He shakes his head. "Not the next day either."

"Then when?"

His hands are so cold she thinks as his grip on her loosens.

"When you let go."

She clings on to him tightly. "Let go? I can't let go, I'll fall."

"Sometimes, you have to fall." He shot her a wan smile. "How else could I catch you? It's the only way, Lois." His lips are cool against her brow. He smells like he's been in the cornfields. "Trust me," he whispers tenderly. "Let go."

And then she's falling.

Further and further down, until the red of his cape is nothing more than a bloodstain on the darkened sky…

and then the unexpected feeling of warmth…

Sunday, November 13, 2009 – 21:09

Lois woke with a start. Around her, darkness. She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the absence of light, trying to make out shapes and shadows. There was a second of blind panic as she stared up at the ceiling at those faded plastic stars, not knowing where she was, when she was, but the memories came flooding back in violent Technicolor. Feeling suddenly dizzy and overwhelmed, she reached next to her, searching for the human pillow she'd been drooling on for the better part of the last two hours. When her fingers groped at nothing but air and her arm fell down on the still-warm but empty mattress, Lois sat up and squinted against the darkness. "Clark?"

When she got no reply, she hopped off the bed and flipped on the light switch. "Smallville?" He was awake, which meant he was feeling better, which meant that the knot in her stomach should have untangled. But it didn't. She needed to see him, to touch him, to have him look at her with that coy smile that caused her heart to pirouette. A plaintive whine at her feet caused Lois to look down. Shelby stood, below her, wagging his tail furtively.

"Hey there Shelbs." She bent down to stroke his soft fur, "You can't sleep either huh?" In response, the dog whimpered and nudged against the backs of her knees. "What is it, boy? Did Clark forget to feed you? Is that it?" Shelby barked sharply, causing Lois to frown. "Shelby, where's Smallville? Can you find him?" Shelby barked in response then took off down the hallway, leaving Lois to chase after. As soon as he reached the bathroom, he turned around, as if to make sure that Lois was following, then barked once more and pawed insistently against the door.

Lois was overcome by the sudden feeling of apprehension. Hesitantly, she raised her hand and knocked – an action she rarely performed. The sound of her knuckles against the polished wood echoed through the narrow hallway.

"Clark?" Nothing.

Lois reached down and gently pushed Shelby aside. "Its okay, boy, I got this."

She waited a beat then tried the door. It was locked.

If he was in there, then he would have answered, even through the roar of running water, his super-hearing would have picked up the sound of her voice. And Clark, being Clark would have answered, whether he was butt-naked or wearing a tutu, he would have answered her voice.

She knocked again, louder this time. "Smallville, you in there?" She swallowed, feeling her trepidation mount. "Come on, Clark, open up. Now's not the time to go all shy and dainty." She bent to peep through the keyhole. "Besides, it's not like I haven't seen the goods befo-" Lois stopped short when she saw an arm. Stretched out on the tiles, was an arm, a smooth, perfectly muscled arm attached to what Lois was fairly sure was Clark's unconscious body. Lois felt as she were about to be sick, as if everything they had gone through, every decision they had made was about to be rendered meaningless. She clenched her jaw and steeled herself. It would not end like this. She refused to let that happen.

As if on autopilot, she flung her weight against the door then stumbled forward when it budged considerably, realizing that it wasn't locked, only blocked by the heavy laundry hamper that had fallen in front of it. Through the crack, she could clearly see him, sprawled out, flat on his back. It looked as if he had staggered into the bathroom and knocked over the hamper when he fell.

"Clark!" Panic trickled into her voice. She pushed harder against the door until the gap was large enough for her to squeeze through. As soon as she was inside, Lois fell to her knees beside him, her eyes wildly assessing his barely conscious form. He was in his jeans, which was splattered with blood, the same blood that still clung to his abdomen and around the area where the wound had been. He was so pale, so…vulnerable. Lois' hands hovered over his body, as if not sure where or how to touch him. His chest rose and fell in heavy, labored breaths. At least he was breathing, she thought with relief.

"Clark, can you hear me?!" Lois pressed her palm to his forehead. The skin was sweat-drenched and burning hot.

His eyelids flickered at the sound of her voice and then shut again.

Lois knelt over him, defiantly swallowing down the fear that bubbled up in her throat. "You're burning up," she said, pushing damp hair off his forehead. When Future Clark had warned her about a fever, Lois had imagined little shivers, not the bubonic plague. She looked around the room desperately, searching for anything that could help. Her eyes fell on the medicine cabinet next to the shower. Surely there had to be something in there to cure aliens from meteor rock induced fevers. She looked down at Clark who was shuddering in her lap. She could feel his temperature through her clothing. He was burning up…which meant, Lois thought, looking over to the shower, that he needed to cool down.

She gently tapped his cheek, trying to get him lucid enough to understand her. "Clark, you have to listen to me. I need you to help me out here."

He shuddered and let out a little moaning noise as his eyes fluttered again. This time, he managed to keep them open.

Lois lifted his head off her lap and tried to pull him up by the shoulder. "Smallville, come on, we have to get you cooled off."

"Lois?" his voice was weak, hoarse. His hand came up and gripped her upper arm. He looked at her with hazy, disoriented eyes.

"I need you to stand up, okay?" she cupped his jaw and held his gaze. "Can you do that?"

He nodded once then, with her help, pushed himself up. Lois took his arm and draped it around her shoulders as they stumbled towards the shower. "Easy," she cautioned as he lifted his leg to get into the bath. With one hand around his waist, she reached back and turned on the shower.

"Sonofabitch that is cold!" Lois literally leapt in shock as the icy spray of water hit her at full blast, soaking them both in seconds. She shifted their positions so that Clark was slumped against the wall and she was in front of him, keeping him standing. Lois watched his face intently as the cool water washed over him.

"Come on, Smallville," she murmured softly, "You're stronger than this. I know you're tired, but I need you to fight just a little harder." She tentatively reached out and firmly gripped his hand with hers. "Please." After about a minute of her standing, watching, silently praying to whomever cared to listen, Lois watched as a thin trail of neon green liquid dripped from his nose and circled the drain, disappearing in a matter of seconds.

"Kryptonite," she murmured to herself, watching his body slowly rid itself of the poison. After another minute, his breathing became less erratic. When he exhaled a deep, cleansing breath, Lois stepped closer to him.

"Clark?" her voice was tentative, hopeful.

And then his fingers tightened around hers. Clark opened his eyes and stared down at her though wet lashes.

"Lois? What's happening to me?"

His voice was still shaky, but the glazed delirium had left his eyes. She almost let out a sob of relief. "Your body's fighting off the kryptonite," she said. "It's like…" she tried to remember what 'flash-forward Clark' had said, "It's like you're detoxing."

His brow furrowed, "Kryptonite? I-I don't underst-" Lois watched the slow shift of his features as the memories came rushing back. "The funhouse," he managed on a breath, "Vartel, he…he planned it." Clark tried to push himself off the wall, but Lois kept her hand firmly against his chest, keeping him still.

"Slow down, hero. Everything's alright now."

"Lois, what happened?" he asked as worry etched into his face which was still flushed with fever. "How did we? Where's Cira?!"

"Cira's fine," she wondered why it felt like a lie, "She's safe."

Clark tried to reconcile the images in his head and then within a second the look of worry was replaced by guilt. "I blacked out," he said as he remembered, searching her eyes for something indefinable. "I couldn't…" he swallowed as if the words were thick and glutinous, "I couldn't save you."

As she stared up into those conflicted liquid eyes, Lois found herself swallowing back tears. She wondered if they were even noticeable under the cascade of water. It was as if her emotions were teetering on the edge of a tumultuous cliff, constantly threatening to overwhelm her. It had been a long time since she'd felt so open, so raw. She felt fractured, as if she'd given pieces of herself away to Clark and Cira and the further they went from her, the more lost she felt. And now, as Clark stared down at her with questioning eyes, it was up to her to tell him that the daughter he had just learnt to love, the daughter he had almost died for had already been taken away. She was home, where she belonged - Clark would understand that, Lois reasoned, of course he would. But that didn't make her absence less acute, or the pain less real.

"But you did save us," she replied honestly. "You were," she sighed as the image of Superman played through her mind. "You were amazing."

"I don't understand," he replied as a chill passed through him. "How could I have?"

Lois opened her mouth to speak then shut it again, not sure where or how to begin. Superman Saves! By Lois Lane. Great byline if she had an article to go with it, but at that moment, the days events were still flitting around in her head like fireflies arounda flame.

"I promise I'll give you the entire scoop," she began, "butlet's first focus on getting you out of the woods, okay?"

He looked as if he were about to argue but then closed his eyes and as another chill passed through him.

Lois moved her hand to his brow and pressed her palm flat against his forehead.

"Oh, god, you're as hot as a furnace," she said, worrying her lower lip between her teeth as she stared up at him with concern.

Clark opened his eyes slowly to see her regarding him with anxious hazel eyes. He couldn't remember much after the blast of kryptonite, but he did remember seeing that identical look on her face a second before darkness took hold. Except then there were tears…and he was pretty sure there was blood. He hated that now she was looking at him as if he was going to break, as if he was going to shatter into a million pieces and leave her cold and wet and alone.

"I'm fine, Lois."

"You're not," she argued, absently bushing her fingers through his hair, causing it to stand up at funny angles. "You've got a temperature as high as the Himalayas and you're all trembly and pale and I just wish…I wish I knew what to…chicken soup!" she yelled suddenly. She looked mildly hopeful as she considered it. "I could make chicken soup. I mean, that's supposed to help when you're sick right? And I'm sure your mom as a recipe lying around somewhere and really, how hard can it be to put a chicken in water?" but the more she thought about it, the more she frowned, "or maybe chicken soup's only for colds and flu. Maybe you need antibiotics or, or a vaccine or something." She deflated and muttered weakly, "He really didn't say how long this would last for."

Clark was about to enquire about the identity of this he, but then a wave of nausea-induced dizziness passed through him and he had to fight the urge to moan and whimper like a child.

He hated watching her feel so helpless. He would have given anything to chase those shadows out of her eyes, so he attempted the one thing he knew would succeed at – annoying her.

"You're offering to make me soup? And here I thought you were rooting for me to live."

Automatically, she scowled at him, giving Clark the reaction he had hoped for. "Did the kryptonite affect your sense of humor too, or was it always this bad?"

The roll of her eyes alone made up for his aching limbs and pounding head. He attempted to push himself off the wall and stand up straight, "I'm fine, see?"

But Lois deftly shoved him back. "You're not fine, you can't even stand up."

Clark sighed. "Well not if you keep shoving me against the wall."

"I'm shoving you against the wall because you'd fall if you stood up," she countered

Despite the pain and the nausea, Clark was tempted to laugh. "Well we won't know that for sure because you keep shoving me against the wall."

Lois stood her ground. "You'll fall."

Clark shot her a wan smile. "You'd catch me."

For a split second, the shower, the bathroom, all of it disappeared and she was falling through a starry sky. Let go.

Lois shook the dizzying memory away and exhaled an exasperated breath and took a step closer to him, pinning him against the wall with her body. "Smallville, I found you out cold on the bathroom tiles, which, I happen to know from experience, generally means that either you've discovered that it is not in fact a good idea to mix vodka and whiskey and your little sister's chemistry set, or your temperature has risen to the point that your body can no longer take it and has gone into shock, and since I know you're not the experimenting type, I'm thinking it's the latter, which means that you are not fine." Lois glared at him resolutely then nodded once. "But you will be." Then softer, so soft that only super hearing could pick it up, "You have to be."

Clark's gaze softened as he reached out and tenderly tucked her wet hair behind her ear. "Lois."

Her name on his lips reminded her of starry skies and cornfields. Lois shivered, wondering for a second, if his fever was contagious, it seemed to be the safest explanation as to why, under an icy spray of water, she felt so hot. She swallowed thickly and looked down, averting her gaze from those green-blue orbs which threatened to engulf her.

Slowly, she ran her finger down his chest, trailing a droplet of water from his collarbone to the thin silver line under his ribs where the skin had fused back together. Lois smudged her thumb over the once-wounded area, smearing the last remnants of blood off his skin. She watched, seemingly mesmerized as the water cleansed his skin of the coppery residue, creating thin pink trails down his abdomen to the waterlogged waistband of his jeans.

Clark bit back a groan when her fingers skimmed over his stomach. The fever was subsiding, the dizziness almost gone, yet every time he caught her eye, he felt the world spin. He watched her touch him carefully and attentively, her eyes piercing his flesh, her feather light caresses warm against his skin. Yet she was as detached as if she were inspecting a coat she intended to buy. Despite the brisk air, the space between them crackled with unspoken words and heated touches. Something had changed. Between the sound of her name on his lips and the feel of her hands on his skin, something had changed.

She traced a circle around the closed wound. "Does it hurt?" Lois asked in a bare whisper.

Clark stared down at her as she gazed intently at his chest, as if looking up at him would somehow hurt her. "Not really," he said. "I didn't even know it was there until I saw the blood."

A beat.

He frowned. Her silence was choking.

"Was it--How bad was it?"

"Bad," she said on a breath. "Really bad." She inclined her head as if debating whether to go further. "I thought you were going to...um, that I would…" she sighed tremblingly, "that I would lose you."

When she placed her palm flat on his stomach and ran her hand up over his ribcage, towards his heart, he clenched his jaw and wrapped his fingers around her wrist.

"Lois," this time, when he breathed her name, tenderness was replaced by something else, something more desperate. Lois caught it too and stared up at him. Her eyes were big and wet and searching. Standing in front of him, with hair dripping down around her face, his flannel shirt clinging to her body, barefoot and drenched - Clark wondered if she had ever looked more beautiful, or more vulnerable. Vulnerability wasn't a quality generally associated with Lois Lane, nor one that she would advertise. Yet in that moment, he wished that he was stronger, that he could hold her up instead of it being the other way round. He wished that he could take away whatever memories she had of that day and scatter them to the wind. But he couldn't, so he took her hand and lifted it up to his forehead. "The fever's wearing off. Feel."

"Yeah." She attempted a smile, hoping it would deflect from the naked emotion in her eyes. "Looks like you're officially out of those woods."

Reaching up he took her hand off his forehead and, lacing his fingers through hers, brought their joint hands up to his heart. He held her hand there, allowing the strong, steady beat to reverberate through both of them. "I'm not going anywhere." He smiled at her, a genuine Clark Kent smile and Lois felt that knot in her stomach slowly untangle. "I guess you're stuck with me, Lane."

"I guess I am," she replied, feeling her mouth slowly curl into a smile.

For a second, they just stared at each other, eyes dancing, mouths grinning, as if keeping a secret from the rest of the world. Lois opened her mouth, about to say something when she sneezed, causing Clark to frown. He ran his hands up her side, as if just realizing that she was standing in the cold water that his body barely registered. "Lois, you're freezing," he exclaimed in a mildly accusatory tone.

"Not really." Lois shot him a smirk which was sabotaged by her chattering teeth. "Okay maybe a little." He reached out to turn the faucet off with a definitive squeak. Together, they stood in the now silent bathroom. "We should get out of these clothes," Lois began, then winced, "I mean," she looked at him sheepishly "…you know what I mean."

He smirked at her. "I know what you mean, Lois."

She backed out of the bath and held her hand out for him. "Come on, tough guy." He rolled his eyes at her, as she made grabby motions with her hands, as if he were a toddler learning to walk. Clark took a step out of the bath, then stumbled slightly once his feet hit the cold bathroom tiles. He reached out for her as support then steadied himself.

"You okay?" She asked, concern creeping back into her voice.

"Yeah, I'm..." he sighed, feeling like an idiot. So much for smooth, Clark. "Just a little dizzy."

Lois looked down then back up at him with a strange expression. "Wow, Smallville, thought it would have taken you longer."

He frowned, not understanding, "Taken me longer to what?"

Lois tucked her tongue in her cheek and motioned for him to look down. Clark then followed her gaze to where his hand was conveniently placed over her breast. He pulled back as if he'd been burnt.

"Sorry, I was...er, I was going to fall and…first thing I reached for –" He looked at her helplessly.

Lois stared at him, clearly amused, "Relax, Smallville, after almost dying, you're allowed to cop a feel now and then."

His eyes widened. "But I wasn't."

"Whatever you say," she smirked at him.

Clark narrowed his eyes for a second as if considering something, then took a step towards her, closing the gap between them. He held back a smile as Lois' heartbeat doubled in time. "Lois," he murmured, leaning down so that their noses were practically touching, his wet hair dripping onto her forehead, his breath hot against her cheek. "When I [i]cop a feel[/i], you'll know."

He smiled in triumph when Lois swallowed her witty comeback and instead murmured an, "Uh huh."

She licked her lips as her eyes drifted from his bare feet to his dripping wet chest, to the few strands of hair that were beginning to curl on his forehead, reminding her of-


She shook her head as she snapped out of her lust-induced reverie. "What? Smallville, what?"

Clark almost laughed at her disorientation. "I asked where you put Cira for the night?"

Lois blinked, that knot in her stomach tangling up all over again. "Cira?"

"Cira." Clark repeated, "You know, about this high," he lifted his hand to his knee, "pretty brown hair, my eyes, your nose, likes pink penguins and maple syrup? She's not that hard to forget, Lois," he said with a smile, mistaking her silence for incomprehension. "I thought," Clark's smile turned sheepish, "I thought since we may not have that much time with her we could, I don't know, read her a story."

Lois blinked and looked away. Clark frowned when he noticed the buildup of tears behind her eyes. "Lois? What's-" he sighed, not understanding. "We don't have to read to her. I mean, I get it. It's been a hard day. We could just hold her and-"

She held her hand up, silencing him. "Clark," she began, her voice on the edge of tears, "We can't read to her because she's not here."

Clark's frown deepened. "You said…Lois, you said she was safe, you said-"

"She is. She's safe," Lois cut in and wiped a fallen tear from her cheek. "Clark, she's home." She sighed and put her hand on his chest as if to soften the blow, "She went home."

His face scrunched up in confusion as if trying to figure out the meaning in her words. "I don't understand." He looked pained. "She was home," he eventually whispered.

Lois took a breath and stared straight into the stormy depths of his conflicted gaze. "I think it's time you got the full scoop."

Sunday, November 13, 2018 – 21:09

Clark pulled up into the nearly deserted hospital parking lot and checked his appearance in the rearview mirror. Staring back at him was a dark-haired, blue eyed, bespectacled face. He smiled at his reflection - Clark Kent was back home and, barring any natural disasters of terrorist attacks, that was exactly where he planned to stay for the rest of the evening.

The debriefing at the Watchtower was painful to say the least. Hearing about Lois encounter with Brainiac, about Vartel's suicide, recapping the events in the funhouse, all of it weighed heavily on his shoulders. He wondered if that was how Atlas felt, bearing the world. Yet stripping off the suit, slipping on his glasses and climbing into his father's restored pick-up truck grounded him, gave him a sense of rootedness, a sense of home.

He reached over to the back seat and extricated the large bunch of magnolias that he had managed to get, last minute from Dinah's flower shop in Star City. Last he checked, they were Chloe's favorites.

Clark found he was surprisingly lighthearted as he made his way to the hospital lobby. It most likely had something to do with the fact that in an hour or so, he would be leaving said hospital with his wife and daughter, both safe and sound. And, despite what he had heard back at Watchtower, despite what the day would bring, Clark could go home, read to his daughter, hold his wife, and for the first time in two days, he could sleep.

He was just about to walk out of the crisp November air and into the warm, sanitized hospital lobby when the black limo parked opposite the entrance caught his eye. Clark frowned at it. He was sure he'd seen it before. He tipped down his glasses to get a better look at the number plate.


"Behind you, Clark." Clark Kent, Man of Steel almost jumped out of his skin as a voice reached him from the darkness. He turned around to see Bruce Wayne, playboy prince leaning against the hospital wall, all but covered in shadow. Even without the cowl, he looked formidable.

"Bruce!" Clark pushed his glasses back up his nose. "Where have you been?"

"Around." In plain clothes, they were just two men standing outside a hospital. The casual observer would see nothing alike in the two men, one dressed in faded jeans and a nineteen-dollar shirt holding a bunch of flowers, the other clad in tailored Gucci, hiding in the shadows. Yet, behind the suit, behind the glasses, behind the mask of normalcy, were two men who knew each other's childhood dreams and secreted each other's deepest insecurities.

Clark frowned. He knew better than to probe when Bruce was belligerently taciturn. "We missed you at the debriefing. Tomorrow-"

"We deal with Brainiac, I know. Barbara downloaded the minutes of the meeting," he said by way of explanation.

"Oh," Clark took a breath and treaded carefully, "Have you come from seeing Chloe? Lois didn't say anything when I called, so-"

"I haven't seen anyone," Bruce took a step towards him, towards the light. He looked rough, Clark thought, as if he hadn't slept in days – even the waft of whatever designer cologne Bruce was wearing couldn't disguise the distinct smell of whiskey. Whiskey that Bruce usually drank only on the anniversary of his parents' death.

He looked at Clark with a firm glower, well aware of the other man's assessment of him. "I wanted to give you this."

Clark looked down at the folder in Bruce's hand. "What is it?"

"Isaac Vartel's death certificate among other things."

Clark looked at Bruce as if he had wounded him. "I don't want that."

Bruce sighed. "I think you might find it interesting." When Clark looked doubtful, Bruce shoved it at him. "Would you just take it?" He gingerly took the folder and Bruce dug his hands into his pockets, as if unsure what to do with them. Clark frowned, rarely had he seen Bruce Wayne this unfocused.

"Bruce, are you alright?"

Bruce looked down and sighed, before he met Clark's eyes with some irritation. "After you decided to make the mission a solo one, I went back, did some digging and found a number of inconsistencies in our prior research."

Clark looked at him expectantly. "Inconsistencies?"

"I found the boy's death certificate, but no documentation regarding funeral plans or the like. His medical records show that he was admitted on the 13th of November with a GSW to the chest, yet a number of his charts had been removed from the archives."

Clark's heart skipped a beat. "Bruce, what are you suggesting?"

Bruce shook his head, barely perceptibly. "I'm not suggesting anything. I'm presenting the facts and the facts say that after Isaac Vartel was supposedly declared dead, Mary-Anne Lewis, his maternal grandmother moved from Smallville to Kentucky State, where she supposedly fostered a young boy about the same age as her deceased grandson. His school records are all in there. It may be possible that Lewis was concerned about her grandson's safety and to ensure his anonymity-"

"Faked his death?" Clark looked at Bruce incredulously. "But the certificate, could someone fake that?"

For a moment, Bruce looked almost guilty, "People do impossible things to protect those they love. You of all people would know that."

Clark looked down at the file in his hands, remembering the pale, scared face of that little boy as they lowered him into the van, his big brown eyes flickering with pain, the cut over his brow, seeping blood. Clark shut his eyes, trying to shake off the memory. He shook his head finally. "As much as I want to believe it, J'onn confirmed my suspicions back at Watchtower. Whatever happened happened. Me going back, stopping Vartel, it was all predestined. It's just," he sighed, "It's impossible."

Bruce shrugged a shoulder, appearing unmoved. "You're the one always preaching about hope, Kent. I assumed you'd have more of it. Isn't that what that 'S' stands for?"

Clark nodded softly then smiled. "Hey, why don't we go up? I'm sure Chloe would love to see you, and I know that-"

"I'm not staying." Bruce's voice cold, even in the chilly night.

Clark watched as he dug into his pocket and pulled out something shiny and tinkly. He handed it to over. It was silver baby rattle, tied with a blue velvet ribbon. Clark guessed it must cost about as much as the new entertainment system Lois had coerced him into buying. Clark took the rattle and gave it a tentative shake.

"What's this?"

Bruce ran his hand over his face and sighed. "Give this to Chloe. Tell her...tell her whatever you want. I'm sure you'll think of something."

"Bruce," Clark waited until the other man's slate grey eyes met his. "Why don't you tell her yourself? She'll want to see you."

Bruce made a show of looking at his watch. "I can't. I've got to be somewhere." As if on cue, the back window of the limo rolled down and a mass of dark, sleek hair was revealed, followed by the beautiful face of Selina Kyle. "Baby, you coming?"

Bruce looked from Clark to the car and back again. "Just give her the damn rattle, Clark." Clark watched, feeling helpless as Bruce turned away.

"Wait, Bruce," Clark took two steps towards him before Bruce turned around to face him. "Why are you doing this?"

Bruce looked up to the windows of the hospital and he shook his head, sadly. "That's somebody else's life, Clark. Not all of us are as lucky as you."

The slam of the limo door echoed loudly in the cool night air.

And then they were gone.

Clark sighed and pocketed the toy, hating that there were some things that were so completely out of his control. When it came to Bruce, there were some things that even Superman couldn't fix.

As he walked down the halls of the maternity ward, his ears picked up the distinct sound of Lois' laugh, followed by another female voice.

"Lois, he's practically jailbait." It was Chloe's voice.

Lois laughed again. "But he's so cute, Chlo. Come, on you don't see it?"

Clark cleared his throat loudly as he turned into, causing both women to regard him with guilty, 'hand-in-the-cookie jar' expressions. "Who exactly are we perving?"

Lois stared at her husband with amusement. "Firstly, Smallville, I cannot believe you just said 'perving'. Secondly, we're sizing up possible matches for Chloe."

"Or Lois is," Chloe clarified. "I'm just basking in the glow of my new son."

Clark walked up to her bed and kissed Chloe on the cheek. "He's beautiful, Chloe. Just like his mom." He produced the bouquet from behind his back.

"I know you've gotten a hundred or so flowers today," he began, "but these are-"

"My favorite!" Chloe exclaimed, moisture building up behind her eyes, "Clark, I can't believe you remembered."

He smiled at her softly. "I'm just glad that-"

"What about that one?" Lois asked, interrupting them with an excited tone.

Clark followed the direction of their gaze to the group of male interns hanging around a vending machine. He looked back at the women them incredulously. "Lois?! They look like they've just finished school."

She grinned at her husband's shocked expression. "Which means they're all fresh and eager to learn new things," she said, wiggling her brows at him. "Besides, Chlo, you're bound to be the hottest MILF they've ever laid their pretty baby blues on."

Chloe laughed, "Yeah, baby being the operative word. Besides, if I'm a MILF, Lois, then so are you."

Lois took a second to consider this then smiled wickedly, "Hmm, I guess I am." She bit her lip, narrowing her eyes at the group of interns in the manner of a jungle cat stalking its next meal. "Hello, Doctor!"

"LOIS!" Clark exclaimed, wondering, how, after all their years of marriage, Lois still managed to shock him on a daily basis.

Chloe giggled loudly as Clark stared at Lois as if she'd just robbed him on the last of his innocence.

"Relax, Smallville," Lois said, looping her arms around his neck. "You're the only boy in blue that I want."

"Although it looks like your daughter's inherited her mother's appreciation for a man in uniform," Chloe motioned to where Cira was sleeping on one of the chairs, a stethoscope hanging loosely from around her neck.

"What do you mean?" Clark asked, watching his daughter sleep, blissfully unaware of any of the events surrounding her.

"There were a couple of med-students here earlier, poking and prodding. One of them, uh, Ian," Lois snapped her fingers as she tried to recall his name, "or Ike or something showed her how to listen for a heartbeat." she smiled softly. "I think she liked him."

"Oh she definitely liked him," Chloe added. "It was so cute. She was all love struck and blushy, like she's known him for years. Her first crush," Chloe sniffed and cleared her throat quickly when her eyes began to fill up with tears. "Hormones," she explained to an alarmed Clark.

But Clark was more alarmed at the thought of his daughter blushing over a guy than anything else. "Lois, you let her talk to him?! Do you even know anything about him?"

Lois laughed, "I didn't ask for his driver's license if that's what you mean. But you can put the heat vision away – it was all very G-rated. He was sweet with her."

"And hot," Chloe cut in. "So hot in a tortured, James Dean, bad-boy, scar over his eyebrow kind of way... It's the hormones," she said when Lois turned to look at her with an amused expression.

"Honey, you do know that excuse is slowly reaching its expiry date, right?" she turned back to Clark who was staring at Cira as if her sleeping form held the meaning of life. "Smallville, you okay?"

But Clark wasn't okay, or perhaps he was more okay that he had been for a long time. Their words zapped around in his head like tiny firecrackers, setting off sparks. Med-student; like she's known him for years; first crush; scar over his eyebrow.Bruce's earlier comment seemed to reach him from a great distance: "You're the one preaching about hope, Kent. I thought you'd have more of it."

"Smallville!" Clark blinked as the feel of Lois's hand on his cheek snapped him out of it. "Where were you just now?"

Clark sighed deeply and dragged his eyes from Cira to Lois. "I'm here," he took her hands in his and smiled widely. "With you."

Lois looked at him suspiciously for a moment, then decided to let whatever she was thinking go. "Good," she took a step forward. "I like you here with me." Clark met her honey gaze as felt a sudden jolt of desire. Every emotion, every sensation other that worry and fear had been placed on a backburner while Cira was gone. Now that she was back, now that things were as they were supposed to be, Clark realised just how much he wanted, how much he needed Lois. He needed her to hold him and comfort him. He needed her to wrap herself around him, and do that thing with her tongue that made him forget about anything else but the feeling of being inside of her.

He was about to lower his head when Chloe's voice broke through the haze of desire.

"Guys, as much as I appreciate all you've done for me, it's time you took off, I think the 'Clark and Lois Love Boat' is about to set sail and I should jump ship before I get sea-sick." Almost automatically, both Clark and Lois turned around to voice generic exclamations of objection, but Chloe stood firm. "Look, you two obviously need some TLC, and I'm pretty sure Cira would much rather be sleeping in her care-bear footie pj's in her own bed right now. Plus, I could use some shut-eye while Marlowe's out."

Lois kissed Chloe's forehead gratefully. "We'll see you in the morning, okay?"

Chloe smiled and yawned for effect. "Okay."

Clark bent down to lift Cira when he heard the rattle from his pocket. Lifting the little girl up, he handed her to Lois and kissed her cheek lightly. "You go ahead. I'll meet you in the lobby."

Lois patted his cheek, "Don't keep me waiting too long, Kent."

"I'll make it up to you at home," he called after her as she threw her jacket over Cira and walked out of the door. Once they were gone, Clark turned to his oldest and dearest friend and prepared to lie about why Bruce Wayne was not there to say goodnight to her.

Sunday, November 13, 2009 – 22:01

Clark stood at his window, looking out at the sleeping farm, feeling the light draft of cool night air play across his chest. Outside, a lone cow mooed while the others slumbered, crickets harmonised in their nocturnal symphony, cornstalks rustled as the breeze whispered through them, the low rumble of a car's engine drifted into earshot from the highway and for the first time in a long time, Clark wished for silence. A silent moment, free from chirping insects and lowing cattle, free from spluttering traffic and the loud, anxious sound of her beating heart.

She was sitting at the edge of his bed, watching him watch the world. In the silvery, moonlit room, all she could hear were her own thoughts. When it became too much, when the heavy silence became too loud, Lois spoke. "You know, standing there won't bring her back, and it sure as hell won't save that little boy." Lois braced herself for a sharp barb of anger, for a fiery retort, but it never came. Instead, he turned around and stared at her with such intense vulnerability, that Lois felt as though her heart would shatter.

His voice was barely a whisper. "Then what will?"

Lois swallowed. "Time, I guess."

His jaw clenched. He couldn't look at her. He couldn't look at her without feeling like he'd failed. Regret, anger, hurt. It swirled inside him, like burning liquid. "But we don't even have that, right?" He watched her flinch. God, this was hard. He didn't blame her. He wished he could, it might have made this whole thing a lot easier. But looking at her now, sitting on the edge of his bed, in his oversized shirt, her legs crossed under her, her eyes, wide and searching, as defenseless as he'd ever seen her, Clark knew that he'd never loved anyone the way he loved Lois in that moment. And that's what hurt.

"So how much time do we have?" Clark asked, his voice toneless.

"You mean before this carriage turns back into a pumpkin?"

"Before all of it," Clark sighed, "before we lose Cira completely, before you and I go back to whatever we were, before these past two days just...disappear. How long, Lois?"

She wanted him to scream, to yell, to show a little bit of emotion. The stoic act was killing her. Anger, she could deal with, anger she could face head on, but this apathy was just another wall and Lois couldn't face another wall, not when hers had all crumbled. "I don't know. Future you wasn't real specific with the details. He said that by morning, it'll all be gone."

Clark looked back to the window, to the outside. "Then I guess you should get back to your place. It would be too confusing if you were here tomorrow." He paused. "I'll drive you back."


Clark turned around. "No?" Lois was standing a foot away from him, her hands on her hips, her eyes blazing with determination. He'd seen that look before, and it usually came just before-

"You heard me perfectly well Mr. 'I can hear a dog barking from ten miles away'. I said NO. I am not leaving, in fact I am not moving from this spot-" Lois crossed her arms over her chest, "-until you talk to me. I've had enough of this 'push her away for her own protection' crap. That may have worked on your fragile ex-flame, but in case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly the dainty type." She took a step towards him. "I don't need to be protected and coddled. You wanna be angry that I let our daughter go back home without saying goodbye, fine. You wanna hate me because I made the call about the memory wipe without you, great, but you don't get to pull away and shut me out, not after you almost left me." She looked at him almost accusatorily. "You left me. And I had no other-"

In two steps, Clark had her in his arms. The rest of her rant was promptly muffled by his broad chest. Lois was tense for a second, as if deciding whether to push him away and continue yelling or whether to melt into his embrace. Ultimately, the latter seemed easier and Lois' arms came around him and encircled his back, her fingertips not-quite touching as she held on.

It was the first time they touched, really touched since he'd woken up. He couldn't imagine waking up and not being able to hold her like that, he couldn't imagine waking up and going back to whatever the hell they were before. He didn't think he would have been strong enough to make that decision, yet she had fought with it, struggled with it and understood that it was the only choice they really had.

She pulled back slightly to look up at him. "Clark, I had to make that decision," Lois said finally. "I just knew that-"

"I know." Clark cut in. "And I understand."

"I had to give us another-" she stopped as his words sank in. "Wait. What? You do?"

Clark nodded. "I do. I just, I hate that, " he frowned, trying to articulate the clash of emotions stirring inside him, "...that you had to make that decision without me. I hate that I wasn't there for you. I hate that I left you to fight all on your own. I hate..." he looked away, feeling the weight of what Lois would have lovingly called his 'hero complex' "I hate that I couldn't save you." He hated it more that he cared to admit. Despite his speed or strength or any of his other abilities, he hadn't been able to keep her safe, he hadn't been able to protect her when she needed him. He felt selfish, selfish because despite all of it, he couldn't let go of her if he tried. He couldn't push her away, not even for her own good. He felt selfish for needing her in a way he had never needed anyone before.

"But you did save me…sort of." She stared up at him, trying to convey the depth of her feelings. "Clark if you hadn't been there, either of you…I don't know what would have happened."

The look of awe in Lois' eyes, the conviction in her voice filled him with a sense of pride that Clark thought he'd never again feel after his father's death. But he shook his head, unable to reconcile this godlike figure Lois had painted with man he was right then. "I don't know that person," he said softly. "That wasn't me."

Lois thought back to the tall, attractive man in a slightly creased shirt and black-rimmed spectacles and smiled. "Trust me, Smallville, despite all the uh, bonus features, it was you."

Clark frowned, not sure how he felt about Lois' obvious attraction to this future version of himself. It was crazy and egotistical and completely irrational, but the fact that she was so enamoured by this, this...Superman, the fact that he had saved her, had held her hand through the worst of it bothered him more that he cared to admit.

As if reading his mind, Lois ran her palms up his chest and wound her arms around his neck. "Smallville, you are every bit as much of a hero as Superman, with or without the costume. Although," Without the advantage of four-inch heels, Lois leaned up on her toes, positioning her mouth next to his ear, "You might want to reconsider your take on tights," she pulled back to look at him and smiled seductively.

Clark's eyes went wide. He pulled back to look at her. She smirked back at him, her eyes dancing with laughter. He shook his head. No way. There was no way he would…would he?


Lois arched her brow playfully. "Really tight tights. Very…" she brought her finger to her lips as if trying to conjure the word, "…flattering."

He was about to reply when he suddenly became very aware of their proximity. Wearing one outfit between them, Clark was in a pair of loose, grey track pants while Lois wore nothing but his shirt which ended mid thigh. She was pressed up against him, staring at him with an intensity that made Clark wonder if she was in fact the one with heat vision. He suddenly saw her in minute detail, fascinated by the tiniest facet. The length of her eyelashes, the golden flecks in her irises, the tiny mole just below her mouth…

As their gazes locked, Lois unconsciously darted her tongue out and wet her lips. And that was when he lost it.

His mouth descended upon hers with such force, such need, that she almost jerked back in surprise. But Lois had long become accustomed to Clark surprising her. Without missing a beat, she snaked her hand up his neck and curled her fingers into his still-damp hair. Clark's broad hand slid down to the small of her back and pulled her closer against him. Lois couldn't stop the moan from escaping her lips mouth when she felt his body's very obvious reaction to her through the thin cotton of his pants. As he slanted his mouth over hers and ran his tongue over her bottom lip, she arched upwards, creating a delicious friction against his chest. When Lois's hand found its way between their tightly fitted bodies and brushed very deliberately against his stomach, Clark wrenched himself away from her, then groaned as if parting wounded him. He stared into her confused, desire darkened green eyes tried to form any semblance of a coherent sentence.

"Lois, we should..." he took a small step away from her as if distance would allow more clarity. "We should think about this." Her silence encouraged him to say more, except he wasn't quite sure what more there was to say. "I mean, we've both through a lot, and we're missing Cira and tomorrow, tomorrow, none of this will mean anything. And if this happens," he looked at her resolutely, "when this happens, I want it to be perfect and right." But even as he said it, Clark wondered, how being with Lois could be anything but perfect and right.

She stared at him mutely. Then, to his surprise and ultimate disappointment, nodded. "You're right."

"I am?"

Lois absently ran her thumb over her freshly kissed lips as she contemplated his words. "Yeah," her voice had taken on a fake, cheery tone. "You're absolutely right. I mean, so what if these are our last few hours together before being thrust back into the murky waters of friendship? We should be mature about this."

Clark found himself once again closing that gap between them. "Mature," he murmured, tucking her hair behind her ear.

Lois' eyes closed at his touch, but then she exhaled, as if to steady herself. "So I should probably-"

"-get going," he finished for her as he traced her jaw with his fingers.

Lois placed her hand flat against his breast-bone, feeling the erratic beating beneath. "Because we're being-"

"-mature," Clark breathed, lowering his head until his lips were a breath away from hers.

"So I guess this is goodbye." Lois murmured against his lips. She tilted her head up just a fraction a kissed him fleetingly on the mouth then pulled back and stared uncertainly into his darkening eyes.

"Goodbye Clark."

He mimicked her by placing a chaste kiss against the side of her mouth. "Goodbye, Lois," he echoed. Clark shivered as Lois' hand hesitantly and almost teasingly fell from his chest as she prepared to turn around.

Clark had learned long ago that the decisions made in the space of a heartbeat were usually those which carried the greatest consequences. The decision to save a car from flying off a bridge, the decision to save the person you thought you loved only to let another die, the decision to try and change what cannot be changed, and now...the decision to let her go. But as Lois' hand slid from his body, Clark knew that this decision had already been made. The second she had crashed into that cornfield, the second she had looked at him with wide eyes and a playful smirk, this was inevitable.

She let out a deep breath as she turned around. This was the right thing to do. Staying would only be…complicated.

Every fibre in her being ached for her to turn back, to see him, touch him just one more time.

One step away from him – they were being mature.

Two steps away from him – leaving was safer.

Three steps away from him – it wouldn't mean anything anyway

Four steps away from him – staying would be bad,

Five steps away from him – so bad

Lois stopped dead in her tracks when his fingers curled around her wrist. She shut her eyes, knowing that once she turned around, once to met his eyes, there would be no going back.

As his grip tightened, silently urging her towards him, she turned to look at him over her shoulder, eyes questioning, searching his for uncertainty, for fear, but in those clear blue eyes, Lois found only trust, sureness and such intense desire that her heart thudded against her chest like a bird beating against the iron bars of its cage.

Without words, she came to him and placed her palm against his cheek. Softly this time, Clark bent to kiss her. His mouth opened to take her bottom lip between his teeth. He suckled it gently, tasting the sweetness of her. Lois ran her tongue across his top lip, nudging his lips apart. When she finally gained entry and their tongues clashed, all softness was forgotten and desperate need prevailed. Every hurt, every wound every fear of the last few hours poured out of them as they clung to each other, hungrily touching, kissing, breathing each other in. As one scrambling, flaming entity, they walked backwards until the back of Lois' knees hit the bed, causing her to fall down with a bounce. Clark stepped between her legs and leaned down, bruising his lips against hers, pushing her flat onto her back. When his arms came down on either side of her, Lois scooted up. Not once breaking eye contact, Clark lowered himself onto the mattress and crawled towards her on his hands and knees until he was directly above her trembling body. She closed her eyes in anticipation as he slowly lowered his head to kiss her. When a second went by without any contact, Lois opened her eyes to see Clark staring down at her, his face marred with regret.

"Smallville?" she swallowed, terrified that he had changed his mind, that he was about to go all mature on her and insist that she go home. "What's wrong?"

He took a breath and exhaled through his teeth as though he were forcing the words out. "Lois, we can't do this now."

"Seriously Smallville? I mean seriously? I'm willing to get naked and sweaty under you and you're still having morals qualms?"

He gritted his teeth and made a little whimpering noise as if he were physically pained. "It's not that," he gestured towards the bed. "We actually we can't do this."

She looked puzzled, not quite catching his drift. "Last I checked, Smallville, and I did check," she began, "…you had all the right boy parts, and I since I have all the right girl parts…I'm pretty certain that we can do this."

"No, I mean," Clark sighed in frustration and rolled next to her so that he was on his side, facing her. "I didn't plan this."

"Well I didn't pencil it in either, Clark, but I'm sure we can work it around our schedules."

If he hadn't been living one of the most frustratingly awkward moments of his life, Clark would have smiled. "This is worse than twenty questions. Look, I don't have anything…in terms of protection…and after Cira and everything, I mean, it's not out of the realm of possibilities that we could...you know, get well…pregnant and if you woke up tomorrow morning without any knowledge of this, that would just be-"

Lois smiled at him tenderly, "Smallville?"

"Lois?" He looked grateful that she'd interrupted him.

"Don't worry," she slowly trailed a finger along his perfectly sculpted chest, "It's taken care of."

Clark looked hopeful. "It is?"

Lois shuffled closer to him and nodded. "It is," she assured with the faintest of smiles.

For an infinite moment, they just stared, facing each other with ridiculously giddy grins on their faces. Then Lois smiled turned into a challenging smirk as brought her knee up just far enough to come into contact Clark's straining erection. He hissed through his teeth and when she increased the pressure.

"Lois," he breathed in what sounded like a warning.

"Clark," she echoed teasingly, pushing her knee up further, eliciting a growl from Clark, who surprised her by rolling over on top of her, pinning her against the mattress with his arms on either side. He lowered his head and captured her mouth in an open-mouthed, desperate kiss that left her gasping for air. His mouth moved up her jaw, to kiss the sensitive spot behind her ear.

Lois gave out a tiny mewl when he moved lower and gently nipped at the soft skin of her neck. Part of him was overcome by the simple male desire to mark every inch of her skin, to remind her of where he'd been, where his lips had touched, where his eyes had lingered. But he couldn't, not if by morning, is touch would be forgotten. So, he kissed a slow, wet trail down her jaw, down her throat, his tongue darting out every once in a while to lick and taste and suck. He made his way right down to the V of her shirt, trying his damnedest to keep control as Lois arched beneath him, brushing against him tortuously. Her hands were in his hair, urging him closer, lower. Clark found his journey hindered by the flannel lapels creating a suggestive arrow towards his goal. As his fingers found their way to the tiny buttons of the shirt Clark pulled back to watch her. She stared up at him through hooded eyes, her bottom lip between her teeth.

One button, two buttons...three buttons, four...

"Need a hand, Smallville?" Lois asked with a throaty laugh.

"Too many buttons," he mumbled, eventually pulling the material at either side, effectively tearing the shirt in two. Lois sucked in a breath as the cool air hit her body.

He watched her nipples harden, partly because of the chill, partly because of the way he was looking at her. As his heated gaze travelled from her face settling for a moment on her breasts, then down her stomach to the little bow on the waistband of her panties, Lois felt more exposed than she'd ever felt in her life, and nudity had little to do with it. Those butterflies in her stomach, the pounding of her pulse could only be attributed to one Clark Kent, who was currently staring at her with such awed reverie that she wondered if he realized that she was not in fact behind a pane of glass. Impatient, Lois arched up and hooked a hand behind his neck, bringing him down against her. Flesh against naked flesh. Clark groaned her name and mumbled something incoherent when Lois hooked one leg around him and bucked up against his throbbing erection. Smiling at the fact that she achieved the desired effect, Lois wrapped the other leg around him rolled them over until she was sitting astride him. Clark flinched ever so slightly when his body hit the mattress and his recovering muscled strained. Lois stopped and looked at him questioningly. "Are you-?"

But the rest of her words were lost when Clark leaned up on his elbows and kissed her hard. His lips moved down her neck, across her collar bone and then he ducked his head and took a nipple in his mouth and brought it lovingly to ripeness, grazing it with his teeth just enough to make her whimper before giving the other its due. A vision of Aphrodite, Lois threw her head back and rocked against him, overwhelmed by the sensation he was creating inside of her. Finally, she pushed him back down with a glint of mischief in her eyes. Starting at his throat, she kissed her way down his chest, moving lower and lower until her lips pressed against the area where his wound had been, gently soothing the skin with her tongue. Clark's reached down and tangled his fingers in her hair. Boldly, he urged her lower. With Lois, his inhibitions were shot. Clark had never felt more free, or more wonderfully reckless.

His eyes practically rolled all the way back in his head when Lois dipped her tongue his belly button and moved lower, pulling the elastic waistband down inch by inch as she licked her way south. When she finally reached her destination, Lois let out a little moan of approval. "I guess I should stop calling you Smallville."Clark couldn't fight the ghost of a smile that graced his lips. How was it that Lois could make him feel so incredibly powerful and so incredibly whipped at the same time? Just before her lips slid around him, her warm-honey gaze flicked upwards and caught his own, and there was such power arcing between the two of them that his body shuddered as though she had already taken him in her mouth. And then he really was in her mouth, warm and wet, slickly taken to the hilt while her tongue swept and swirled over his heated flesh.

He wanted to tell her what she was doing to him, he wanted to articulate just how right it all felt, but in moment, all Clark seemed to be able to muster was a hoarse, "Lois...oh god." White-knuckled, he gripped the sheets on either side of him. Feeling as if he'd been sucked into a vortex of sensation, a kaleidoscope of color where nothing existed except for her.

He grunted when she scraped her teeth against him, and, borrowing a leaf out of her book, he leaned up and impatiently took her by her upper arms before dragging her up along his body until they were nose to nose. Lois smiled triumphantly, as fire danced in his eyes. He narrowed his gaze at her, challengingly, perfectly aware of this spell she'd put him under. Lois wriggled her eyebrows at him playfully – there was something incredibly exhilarating about watching Clark Kent come undone, she thought suddenly, about watching someone with so much power, with so much control, just let go. Sitting up, she hooked her fingers into the side of the panties and slowly, ever so slowly, began to pull them down. Clark swallowed thickly and prayed that his heat vision didn't act up because nothing in heaven or earth could at that moment, compel him to look away. Balancing on one knee, Lois attempted to remove her underwear. Sensing the opportunity to turn the tables, Clark jerked up, causing her to topple over with a squeak.

He didn't even try to contain his laughter when she stared up at him with a disgruntled look of surprise. Lois raised her eyebrow, trying with all her might to keep from laughing. "Oh, Smallville, you are gonna pay."

Clark reached down between them and literally ripped the last of her underwear off before casually throwing it over his shoulder. "Looking forward to it," he replied, with a cocky grin and watched her eyes dilate then shut completely as he slipped one finger into her wet core. She moaned loudly as a shock of pleasure rippled through her and bucked up against his hand. Clark watched, spellbound as her mouth pursed into an 'o'. In that moment, Clark wished that his brain was less foggy so that he could describe her articulately, but all he could think of was beautiful. She was absolutely and overwhelmingly beautiful. So much so that loving her was like a physical ache. Under him, her body tensed before she cried his name so loudly that he was sure a couple of those sleeping cows had awoken. Panting, Lois opened her eyes slowly to see him watching her in loving fascination. She smiled up at him lazily and brushed her finger down his forehead to the tip of his nose. Clark flicked his head up kissed the soft pad of her finger.

Hovering above her, he had never felt more alive, every cell, every muscle and vein vibrated with need and desire. Every facet of his soul screamed to be inside of her. It was so much, so much that it scared him. Clark looked at her, suddenly conflicted and sighed shakily when Lois brushed her thumb over his lips.

"Clark," she began softly. "It's okay. I trust you."

He swallowed. "I don't want to hurt you."

Lois arched her hips up, taking him in ever so slightly. "You won't," she replied on a stilted breath. Together, they reached down. Lois tensed as she felt him enter her. "Just, uh, go slow," she breathed, offering him a rare, shy smile, "It's been a while."

Clark clenched his jaw and shut his eyes as the slow build-up of heat threatened to erupt. He forced himself to slow down, pretty sure that he'd never wanted anything as badly as he wanted to be inside of her. With one hand holding her hip and the other fisting the sheet beside her head, Clark sunk into her. When he had completely filled her, he opened his eyes to see her staring up at him with such unadulterated passion that he knew, for the hundredth time, he knew that it would only ever be Lois. Their gazes locked for an eternity. They said everything and nothing, the silence filled only with the sound of their breathing. And then he began to move. Slow strokes at first, then as she hooked her legs around him, with increasing speed. The sound of her voice filled the space between them, broken sentences and moans. Her hands moved up his arms, to his back, then settled on his broad shoulders.

When it became too much, when the feel of her fingers digging into his shoulders, the sound of his name tumbling from her lips, the sensation of her wrapped around him became too intense, he buried his face in her neck and allowed himself release. A second later, Lois came with spectacular force, vocalizing the extent of her pleasure much more articulately than he. His name, followed by a string of curses and half-formed declarations of love still rang in his ears when he rolled them over and closed his eyes, absolutely sated.

Minutes or perhaps hours later, Lois stirred above him. He opened his eyes to see her watching him with a smile that seemed to suggest that she was the cat and he the canary.

"You know what, Smallville?" she asked in a husky, post-sex voice.

Clark threw his arm over his head and regarded her with a sleepy gaze and a lazy grin. "What?"

She narrowed her eyes as if she were thinking about it, "I'm beginning to think that maturity is way overrated." Clark's laughter rumbled under her, causing Lois smile up at him widely.

"You know, I think you're right," he said finally. He watched her watch him and wondered how on earth it had taken them so long to get to this point and with growing sadness, wondered how long it would be until they would find their way back here. The thought of waking up the next morning and having no memory of her touch, her kiss, her smell seemed unthinkable. There was no way that what had happened between them could be lost in the mists of obfuscation. It was too real, too perfect, too right.

"What's with the broody face?" she asked quietly.

Clark stared at the ceiling for a second, seeing those stars in a whole new light. "I'm afraid to sleep," he admitted softly, embarrassed by his confession. "I'm afraid that if I close my eyes this will all disappear." He absently trailed his fingers down her back tracing the curve of her spine, "I can't imagine waking up tomorrow and not remembering this."

She crossed her arms over his chest and leaned her chin on her forearms. "It was pretty unforgettable." She aimed a tiny smile at him. "Think of tomorrow as the first step towards this, towards-" she sighed as she tried to find the right words, "-us, I suppose."

"How can you be so sure that you're right? That we'll find our way back to each other?"

Lois shot him a look that seemed to say 'duh!', "Hello? When have I, ever been wrong?"

Clark replied with a 'do you really want me to answer that?' expression that made her smile and press a finger to his lips before he could answer. "Smallville, I know because before Cira and Krypton and killer meteor rocks, before all of this…I guess," she paused and bit her lip, considering her words.

Clark looked at her expectantly. "You guess what, Lois?"

"I guess I loved you, okay?" she blurted out finally.

Clark looked taken aback, "But you never…I mean…what about the Blur?"

Lois stared at him as if he'd lost his mind. "Clark, you are the Blur."

"But," he stopped as if trying to formulate an argument, "But you didn't know that," he countered. "And you were all Blur this and Blur that, and after he called you'd get all swoony and-"

"Swoony?!" Lois sat up, on top of him, completely unselfconscious as she stared down at him with an arched brow. "I did not get 'swoony', and what is 'swoony'? That's not even a word. And even if I did 'swoon' you're the one who stood me up and I had a right to be-" she stopped in mid sentence and broke into a grin, "Wait a minute. Were you…jealous?" When his eyes darted back to the ceiling, Lois' grin got wider, "You were," she said, spreading her hands over his chest and leaning down slightly. "You were totally jealous of…yourself. God, Smallville, talk about identity crisis."

Clark rolled his eyes. "I was not jealous of myself, I just…" he looked up into her smiling face, her eyes shining with mirth and sighed, "I guess I sometimes wished that your swooning had been directed at me, Clark Kent, not the Blur."

With an annoyed scowl, Lois reached out and smacked the side of his head. Clark flinched in surprise, then looked back at her accusatorily.

"What was that for?"

Lois let out an exasperated breath and shook her head. "Is it a Kryptonian thing, this slowness? I mean, do people on your planet generally take so long to get a clue?"

Clark looked confused.

"Clark, I have been sending you signals for months. What does a girl have to do to show you she's interested? How many times do I have to steal your coffee before you get it? I don't even like decaf, which all you seem to dr-why are you grinning like an idiot?"

"Because you love me," he replied, finding it nearly impossible to wipe that smile off his face. "You love me," he echoed again, as if the words sounded new and more wonderful each time he said them.

"Yeah, Smallville, I think I proved just how much a couple a minutes ago, you don't have to keep saying it." But she found his grin infectious. Clark reached up and tangled his hands in her hair and pulled her down against him. He kissed her with abandon until she pulled back to take a breath.

"Lois," he began as she rested her forehead against his. "I love you too."

Lois brought her lips to his ear and tugged on his earlobe before whispering, "You might have to prove it," she said, snaking her tongue down his jaw, "and prove it," nibbling at his bottom lip," and prove it," walking her fingers down his chest. Lois broke into giggles when he rolled them over and began placing wet, smacking kisses all over her face and neck.

Outside, under the light of the crescent moon, time crept slowly on, unaffected by the low hoot of an owl, unhindered by the bustling wind through the cornfields and uncaring of the soft moans and urgent whispers of lovers in their beds. By morning, only time would remain.


So? Worth the wait?