Title: Second Chance

Author: Linda09

Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with DC Comics, Smallville or anything else, I do not own the characters and am making no profit on this. The only thing I do own is THIS story which is mine.

Rating: The story moves between T (mostly) to M (for the occasional strong language and sexual content). However, as it had to be classified, I chose what I felt would be the best rating overall and made it M. If you are underage, and shouldn't be reading the adult stuff please do not do so. If you are of age but don't like sexual content, just bypass it.

Premise: This story started as a simple romance, but it quickly became a romantic/comedy. I began writing it a few months ago when it popped into my head and just refused to be ignored. I couldn't stop wondering what if:

• Clark married Lana when she returned from her 'fake death' in S7 and

• Lois left S'ville after the first episode in S7 before Lana returned.

This story will not be exploring the years Clark/Lois didn't see each other. They may have a few conversations about that time, but it's not going to be the central theme. The theme is basically; finding love and second chances.

Linda

**

Chapter 1

He was free; after years of living with the witch from hell, he was finally rid of the anchor around his neck for good. Lana Lang nee Kent was out of his life once and for all and he'd never been happier. Clutching the divorce papers in his hand, Clark Kent brought them to his mouth, smacked a kiss on them, and didn't even bother trying to suppress the smile of joy that stretched his lips, from one corner of his mouth to the other.

To think that 10 years ago marrying Lana had been the happiest day of his life, little did he realise that almost 10 years to the day, the happiest would be when he was divorced from her. He felt almost intoxicated with the feeling of freedom; he was rid of the burden that had been dodging him since he was a kid, and had never felt so unfettered, so alive.

He was supposed to feel sad, regretful but couldn't feel anything other than joy. If he never saw Lana's face, never heard her voice ever again, it would be too soon for him.

Several hours later he was enjoying a nice dinner and drink with the best friend a man could have. Chloe Sullivan had been there for him since they were kids; she'd helped him, listened to him and stuck by him through thick and thin. He was grateful that he'd been blessed with such a good friend.

"Welcome to the divorcees club." Chloe smiled and clinked her glass against his.

"Thanks, it's a club that I've been dying to join for years, and now I finally have." He grinned in return.

She let out a gurgle of laughter and shook her head "Clark Kent, you've come a long way."

"You know it Chlo and I'm never going back."

Her brow lifted in question "So what now, please don't tell me that one bad experience has put you off marriage altogether?"

He shook his head in reply "No, but right now I'm not interested and even if I was, love and anything else has to wait. I'm 29 Chloe, and I've put it off long enough but it's time that I go and do my training. I didn't do it years ago because all I wanted was a normal life with Lana...." he quickly held up his hand when her mouth opened "...yeah I know and please don't remind me, anyway moving on. After that I didn't do it because I was married and couldn't just leave for an indeterminate period of time. When I wanted out of the marriage I was tempted, but couldn't. God knows I thought about it numerous times, but running away from Lana and our problems would have been cowardly since I didn't know how long I'd be gone for." She nodded in understanding "Then I had to stick around for the divorce to go through, but now that that's all over with, there's nothing to hold me back, so I'm finally going."

"When do you leave?"

"Tomorrow, I don't have to worry about apartments or anything else as I've been living with mom at the farm since the split, so as there's nothing to hold me back; I leave tomorrow." He finished with a small smile.

"I'm going to miss you but I'm glad that you're doing it." She reached over and patted his hand "I think it'll be good for you."

He nodded and smiled "So do I, it'll be nice if I can find a way to help the JLA without having to hide anymore."

She bobbed her head once again "Well then this is both a congratulatory dinner and a farewell one too."

"I don't know how long I'll be gone, but it won't be forever Chloe."

She smiled and when they parted ways after dinner, she hugged him close, cried a little and wished him good luck.

Hugging her back just as hard, he promised to come and see her upon his return and grinned at her wrathful reply that he'd damned well better.

Five years later....

It felt good to be back. Upon his return to the world that he'd left behind when he embarked on his training, he'd gone to Smallville to see his mom first. She'd screamed, cried and hugged him to within an inch of his life. Once his mom let him out of her arms, with the admonition that he come back that night for dinner, he'd gone to see Chloe and had been the recipient of the same reunion that he'd had just left.

He'd been back for a month, had an apartment in Metropolis, was working with Chloe and his old friend Jimmy at the Daily Planet, and tonight he was having dinner with Chloe and all his old friends in the JLA.

Oliver had been thrilled that he was finally going to join the JLA; he was excited about venturing on this new phase of his life, and couldn't believe how wonderful everything had turned out.

The restaurant was upscale, but not so ritzy that people only spoke in hushed whispers, and he was certainly glad that Oliver had made it clear that he was picking up the tab. Although he could have afforded it, he was glad that he didn't have to spend half a week's pay on just one dinner. He was touched that Oliver was throwing this welcome back to civilization and finally joining the JLA dinner for him; and even more touched that his friends from all over had made the time to come. It was almost a party atmosphere, between the chatter and laughter, the catch up gossip and joking; the mood was light-hearted and carefree. It was so nice spending time with friends that he hadn't seen in years, and looking around the table, he was grateful that he had these people in his life. At the sound of Chloe's voice he was brought out of his musings and tuned back into the conversation.

"Well Clark, two new jobs and a new life, so are you going to start looking around for Miss Right to share it all with?" She asked with a smile.

He shook his head in reply "Not right now; I'm going to take some time for myself, I've never really done that before."

Her eyes widened comically "Oh god, please don't tell me you're going to become some kind of sad pathetic player on the singles scene."

He guffawed and shook his head again "No Chloe, that's not me either. I'm not going out looking for anyone, but if or when I meet the right woman I'll know it. I'm no longer the naive boy I used to be, so I'm going to use my big head, not my little one the next time I think I've found the right woman."

Everyone smothered their laughter and nodding; she grinned "That would be much appreciated." She sipped her drink then cocked her head to the side "You made a mistake Clark, well haven't we all..." Everyone nodded in agreement "...but as you said before, you're older now, so you'll do better this time around." She paused and continued ruminatively "I have to believe that we all get a second shot at happiness. That the first time is just a trial run, kind of like an entree to the main meal, but the second time is when it counts because you've learnt from your mistakes, and are all the more determined to get it right."

"Hear, hear." Oliver grinned, lifting his glass in salute to which everyone joined in.

After taking a sip of his drink Clark grinned "Well here's to destiny, because believe it or not, I still trust in it, but this time I'm going to wait for the right woman, no matter how long it takes." Once again they clinked glasses then got down to the serious business of deciding what to order.

Hearing the burst of feminine laughter from a table on the other side of the room, they all looked at each other and smiled "It sounds like someone else is celebrating as well."

Nodding their heads, they turned back to their menu's to continue reading, but at the sound of the voice they hadn't heard in years, two heads simultaneously looked up, and their eyes widened in surprise.

Standing beside the table where the feminine laughter had come from was Lois Lane. Chloe hadn't seen her cousin in years; unfortunately during Lois' last 13 months in Smallville, their prior closeness had melted away, until it was virtually gone. They'd stayed in touch occasionally for about a year after her cousin left Smallville, but over time their contact had dwindled, until it stopped altogether.

It had been 15 years since Chloe had last seen her cousin, Lois hadn't returned to Metropolis but seeing her now, she wondered if her cousin had come to the city, but hadn't sought her out. Now that she was no longer infatuated with Clark, and now that she no longer felt threatened by Lois encroaching on her chosen profession, she felt sad that she'd let her resentment come between them.

Lois had never said anything to her, but neither was she stupid. Her cousin had tried countless times in different ways to bridge the distance that had been growing between them, but as she hadn't been willing, Lois had eventually given up. When Lois left Smallville, she'd promised to keep in touch, but she couldn't blame her cousin for not trying very hard to do so; she hadn't given her any reason to. During their last phone call Lois mentioned that she was still thinking of pursuing journalism, and in reply she'd laughingly commented that her previous work for the Inquisitor couldn't be called journalism, so much as tabloid trash.

Wincing internally at her insensitivity all those years ago, Chloe concluded that Lois must have decided to put everything about her time in Smallville behind her; including the little cousin that she'd once loved, but who'd turned on her in jealousy. Seeing Lois now, she wished that she hadn't been so resentful, hadn't let anything come between them, and determined that somehow, she was going to try and mend the fences that she'd thoughtlessly torn down between them.

***

Clark heard the voice, looked over and couldn't believe that the woman standing beside the table was Lois Lane; the same Lois Lane that had lived at his house years before. He hadn't seen or heard from Lois since her departure from Smallville when she was 20. Unfortunately his thoughts at the time had been full of Lana being dead, so although he'd been sorry to see Lois go, he hadn't missed her unduly. Then Lana returned a few months later, and Lois was forgotten in all the excitement of having the girl he loved back. After that his mind had been taken up with his marriage to Lana, then later their troubles and divorce. Lois had been gone for over 10 years by that time, he'd been doing his training for three years, travelling for two more, then his return to civilization and fitting back into the world he'd left behind. So with one thing or another Lois had slipped from his mind, and he hadn't thought about her since shortly after her departure.

He couldn't believe that she'd slipped from his mind so completely, he'd always believed in destiny, but it hadn't been destiny that he'd followed when he married Lana. It had been the stubborn determination of a boy who was going to marry the girl he'd always fancied, come hell or high water. Long before they'd gotten married, the writing had been on the wall about just how ill-suited and miserable they'd be, but he'd dismissed all the signs, resolved to have his way and had certainly paid for it.

He'd been a blind young fool, and looking at Lois now he couldn't believe just how blind he'd been. He'd heard Lois' voice, turned, saw her and his heart had leapt then slowly rolled over in his chest. He didn't need to use his big head to know the truth, his heart was speaking loud and clear, pointing and yelling and this time he was listening 'she's the one.'

How the hell had he missed it before? How had he looked at and talked to Lois for two years, yet never once suspected that she was the woman he was meant to share his life with. How had she lived with his family, lived in Smallville, and he'd still been oblivious to the truth that his heart now knew?

Lois had only gotten more beautiful with age, at 20 she'd been pretty, a girl on the verge of adulthood, but at 35 she was stunning, no longer a girl but a woman. She didn't seem concerned about laugh lines, wrinkles or making a fool of herself in public. She was impatiently blowing her hair out of her eyes, and smiling wide while making a laughing toast to her friends, completely unconcerned about anyone else in the room.

Now that he'd found her, now that he knew, he wasn't going to make the same mistake again. He checked her hand, saw no ring and felt his sprits rise. She could have a boyfriend, but until he knew otherwise, he wasn't going to entertain that possibility. If she did then he'd wait and hope the relationship didn't work out, but the minute she was free he was going to swoop her up. Destiny was giving him a second chance, and this time he was going to take it. He'd messed up the first time, but this time around he wasn't stupidly looking the other way; this time around he was going to be smart. He was going to win Lois Lane's heart for his own, no matter what it took. With a bit of luck she'd also know straight away they belonged together, but if not, he wasn't going to let that stand in his way.

"Is that Lois?" Oliver asked looking at the woman with a smile of appreciation.

Clark nodded absently and found it hard to look away, but turned back to his dinner companions at his friend's voice.

"Who's Lois?" Bart asked curiously, and at Oliver's explanation, he nodded "I remember now. I never met her, but I remember you guys mentioned her once or twice." He looked at Lois again, and commented "Ok, she is one beautiful woman." Then cocking his head to the side asked "So what the hell was wrong with you Ollie that you walked away from her?"

"AC left her too, and Clark didn't even notice her." Oliver replied weakly.

With a quick head shake at all three men, Bart picked up his drink and sipped "How about calling her over Chloe, I wouldn't mind getting to know your cousin."

She smiled sadly in response "We lost contact years ago and that was my fault. But seeing her again, I thought....well I'm hoping that I can try and make up with her. If I'm lucky Lois will let me back in, and we can start fresh."

"You will Chloe, Lois has a big heart and she was always pretty forgiving of her little cousin." Clark put in quietly.

"Her little cousin was a bitch to her Clark, and not just once but a lot of times." She replied regretfully.

He smiled sadly in return "It'll be ok Chlo, I know you're nervous but the first step is always the hardest. I think Lois will be glad to see you."

"I doubt that she's even thought of me, and I wouldn't blame her for that either. I was pretty mean to her the last time we talked, and that was 14 years ago. She didn't call me again, and I couldn't find her so....." She trailed off and shrugged cheerlessly "She's in Metropolis but I didn't even know it, I wouldn't have known it now if I hadn't seen her tonight" She paused and wiped her hands nervously on her napkin "But I have to try, even if she tells me to get lost I have to apologise to her."

He nodded and picking up her hand, squeezed it gently "She'll forgive you Chloe, and apologising is a good way to approach her. It'll show Lois that you're not willing just to pretend that you've forgotten whatever you said that hurt her years ago, but that you really do want to make things right."

She smiled tremulously and nodded.

"Make sure to bring her over Chloe, I wanna see if I can work my charm on her." Bart put in with a quick smile, hoping to ease the tension his friend felt.

"Don't even think about it Bart." Clark replied flatly and at the inquisitive look from his friends, cast his eyes around the table "You talked about second chances a few minutes ago Chlo...." She nodded slightly "...well I mentioned destiny, and once I saw Lois, I knew that she was my second chance. Destiny is giving me another shot, and this time I'm going to get it right."

"Are you sure that you're thinking with your big head Clark, Lois is beautiful I'll grant you that, but so was your ex-wife, and look how that turned out. You haven't seen or spoken to Lois in how long?" Bart asked seriously.

"15 years but I'm sure Bart, it's not hormones or her face or anything else; I outgrew the surface stuff years ago, and I'm old enough to control my hormones now, they no longer control me." He smiled lightly at the head nods from his friends "I just know that this time I'm right. Lois is the woman that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with; she's the one I should have been with all along." He smiled when his friends all grinned "Lois Lane is going to be my wife; she just doesn't know it yet." He put in lightly but with absolute assurance.

"Well before we begin planning your wedding, I'm going over to talk to my cousin." Chloe said softly "Wish me luck."

"You'll be fine Chloe and if you can, put in a good word for me." Clark beseeched just as softly.

"Hopefully I can get Lois to come over, and you can talk to her yourself." She replied patting him on the shoulder, and pushing back her seat, Chloe blew out a deep breath, and walked to the table where her cousin was sitting in the company of her friends.