On a clear day like any other in Smallville, Lana Lang stood in front of the Talon, wondering for the hundredth time that morning what she was doing there. She had left the small town a little over a year ago with a broken heart and an understanding that she could never be seen there again if she wanted Clark to become the man he was meant to be. But the heart aches in ways that the mind can't control, and she had to see him, if only from afar.
She'd arrived the night before, super-speeding into Metropolis and stopping across the street from the Daily Planet. She didn't have a plan or a reason to be there other than to see the man she fell in love with so many years ago. Their relationship was never meant to be, she knew that, but her heart ached at the thought of never seeing him again; of never looking into the depths of those clear blue/green eyes that were a portal to his every thought, his every emotion. She scanned the building tentatively, wishing x-ray vision had been included to the list of super powers she acquired. If she crossed the street and walked into the building, she ran the risk of running into Clark and she couldn't do that without causing him a lot of pain. A simple phone call would have sufficed, but she wasn't sure she wanted him to know she was there.
An hour passed, the street around her buzzing with activity, and when she was about to give up all hope that Clark would ever come out of the Daily
Planet building, she saw him. Her breath caught at the sight of the man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with. Her anonymity across the street afforded her the opportunity to take him in completely, and what a sight he was. Tailored black slacks, tailored blue shirt and red tie, loosely knotted. He slung his coat on his arm, carrying what would surely be to any normal person a heavy briefcase in his hand. He walked out of the Daily Planet slowly, looking up towards the full moon above, and inhaling the air around him. A hand shot out from behind him, grabbing the briefcase in his hand before gently tugging on it. As Lana saw Lois Lane coming out from behind Clark, something clicked in her mind. Her suspicions were confirmed by the way Clark's eyes roamed over Lois' body, by the smile that reached his eyes, by the teasing way he held the briefcase above his head and out of the other woman's reach. Lois let out a huff of air before flailing her arms around in a show of mild frustration before walking away from the Daily Planet building. Clark smiled behind her, and caught up to her hurried steps in two strides, gently placing a hand at the small of her back as they walked toward what Lana assumed was where Lois had parked her car.
Lana kept her distance as her gaze followed the pair for two blocks before stopping in front of Lois' beat up car. If the scene in front of the Daily Planet hadn't planted the idea in her mind, the scene she witnessed then spoke volumes of what she had missed out on over the past year and a half.
Lois opened the driver's side door slowly, seemingly taking her time before turning around and looking up at Clark. Lana's heart clenched at the way he looked at her, like the world around him didn't exist. Lois held up her hand, a silent request to get her briefcase back from Clark, but he shook his head no. Lois narrowed her eyes at him and Lana could tell an argument was about to break out. She laughed despite the heartbreak she felt at the time because she knew Clark Kent was in trouble when Lois Lane got that glint in her eye. Before Lois could say anything, Clark leaned down and captured her lips with his. Tentatively at first, because Lana could tell Lois was getting mad at him, but then something shifted, and she could only watch with sadness as Lois' arms pulled Clark closer to her.
It's not how Lana would have wanted to see him again, but she couldn't begrudge him his happiness. She made a choice long ago, and there was no going back. No matter how much it hurt to see him that way with another woman, she could only breathe a sigh of relief that he was happy, because nobody deserved happiness more than Clark Kent. She felt like she was intruding on something sacred between the two people across the street, but then the kiss broke and the couple in front of her stared into each other's eyes for a few seconds before Clark opened the driver's side door, placed the briefcase on the passenger seat, and led Lois inside. He closed the door when she was situated safely in the driver's seat, and stared after her as she drove away. As Lana watched Lois round the corner, her gaze fell on Clark again, and she noticed for the first time the slump in his shoulders that wasn't there before, and the contemplative look on his face as he looked into the distance.
Having spent the night in a nearby motel, Lana now found herself staring up at the building that had once been her home. She knew Chloe and Lois shared the space, and she was hoping to find her old friend inside to talk, and to reminisce. Most importantly though, she wanted to find her old friend to ask her if Clark was truly happy; needing to know so that she could move on with her life with the knowledge that she had not ruined everything that made up his big heart like she thought she had. She needed to know that he was not broken because of her and she needed to know that Lois' intentions with him were pure and her feelings for him ran deep. Though she no longer had any claim on Clark, she needed to know that his heart would never be broken again.
Finding the courage to walk through the doors of the Talon, she made her way up the winding stairs, and knocked on the door of her old apartment. It was early, but she knew Chloe would be getting ready for her day. There was a loud bang behind the door, and Lana smiled at the image of her friend tripping over something her cousin must have left behind. When the door opened though, her smile fell as she was confronted with the last person she was prepared to speak to.
"Lana?" Lois asked in clear surprise.
Lana audibly gulped and smiled at the other woman, surprised that it was not forced, but genuine.
"Good morning, Lois," she replied after a few seconds. "How are you?"
"I'm….uh… I'm fine, how are you?" Lois asked, surprise still very evident in her tone.
"I'm good, thank you. I was…looking for Chloe, is she here?" Lana asked as it was becoming evident that the situation was becoming more awkward by the minute. Lois' face fell at the mention of her cousin's name, but she disguised it with the patented Lois Lane grin; the one that reached ear to ear.
"She hasn't been home in a while, you know, computer whiz stuff and all that," Lois started tentatively, looking back into the apartment and coming to a realization. "I'm sorry, I'm so rude, would you like to come in? I mean, if you want…I know Chloe isn't here, but…um…how are you?" she asked again, flustered this time. She tried straightening her rumpled, sleep weathered shirt, and attempted to rein in her unruly bed head.
Lana inwardly cringed at Lois' discomfort, knowing full well what must be going through the other woman's mind. Not only had she caught her early in the morning before she even got a chance to get out of bed, but she was likely the last person Lois expected to see at her doorstep considering her hasty and callous retreat from the small town over a year ago. Her arrival at Smallville had been rather impulsive, and in hindsight, it would have been best to have made arrangements with Chloe before entering the Talon.
Knowing their situation couldn't possibly get any worse, Lana smiled at Lois.
"I don't want to intrude, and I know I caught you at a bad time, but it's really great to see you Lois. I should probably get going, I have someone I really have to see."
There was a silence between them, and Lana could practically see the wheels turning inside Lois' head. She was about to amend her statement, letting her know that she was not looking for the person Lois thought she was before she was interrupted.
"Smallvil…I mean, Clark will be here to pick me up for work in an hour or so, if you want to wait for him," she informed her with a smile.
Lana couldn't read her eyes, but she was sure that's the last thing Lois wanted; for Clark and her to have a mini reunion in her presence.
"That's not…I mean, I didn't come here to see him," Lana informed her. When she was greeted with silence, she elaborated. "I'm not here to get him back, Lois. I wanted to see him, yes, but I know he doesn't want to see me."
If Lois was shocked at that statement, she didn't show it. She simply crossed her arms, and quirked an eyebrow at Lana.
"I've never heard of Smallville holding a grudge, why wouldn't he want to see you?"
Lana thought of the one reason she couldn't see Clark face to face, and smiled sadly. She guessed Clark was still keeping his secret from Lois, believing he was protecting her, so she supplied the closest thing to the truth that she could come up with.
"We didn't exactly part ways on the best of terms."
There was a long silence before Lois stepped away from the door and motioned for Lana to join her. She took a few tentative steps, and made her way towards the nearest couch. While Lois busied herself making coffee, Lana looked around the small place and came to a few conclusions. Chloe planned to stay gone for some time, judging by the complete lack of evidence that there were two people living in the small apartment, and Lois and Clark had been together for a while now if the photos on the mantle were any indication of that.
When Lois joined her in the sitting area, she followed Lana's gaze and a pretty blush ran up her neck to her cheeks.
"I hurt him," Lana blurted out. "I thought that what I was doing was bigger than everyone, even him."
To her credit, Lois didn't say anything, she didn't even react. She simply sat there and waited for Lana to continue.
"The first time I left, I did it to…prepare myself," she began, not knowing exactly how to explain her situation to Lois without giving away Clark's secret. "There were things going on in my life that I needed to take control of. After Lex, I became so jaded and though Clark remained my biggest support, I didn't think I could burden him with my…deficiencies."
The last word hung in the air for a while and Lois understood perfectly.
"It's okay Lana, I know."
The sincerity in Lois' eyes left no doubt about her meaning. Lana opened her mouth, readying herself to ask the other woman a million questions regarding the big secret but this was neither the time nor the place for that. Lois knew Clark's secret, that's all that mattered.
"He doesn't know I know though,' Lois continued sheepishly. "It's kind of a long story but I would like to keep my knowledge between us if you don't mind."
Lana nodded in understanding. She was once in Lois' position and she would have given anything to keep Clark's secret just that, even if it meant keeping it from him.
"Then you know what it feels like; to want to do better because he is better. I thought I was doing everyone a big favor when I did what I did. I thought I was saving the world but I never stopped to think about him and what he thought about my plans. I shut out the most important person in my life because I was selfish. I thought about what I could do to help him, what I was contributing, how I was changing everything."
Lois sat back and listened to Lana with a realization that she was not the first woman to feel that wide range of emotions where one Clark Kent was concerned. A tinge of sadness crossed her senses when she thought about all those times she thought no one would understand what she was going through.
"He doesn't just want to save the world you know," Lana continued, unperturbed by Lois' wandering thoughts. "He wants to make everyone better and he does it in his patented humble way. He'll be the first to jump into the fray when someone's in danger and he'll never ask for recognition or praise."
She wiped a tear from her lashes, but to her credit, she continued. Lois needed to hear this. For her sake and for Clark's.
"I ultimately turned my back on him. It wasn't intentional, but if I had talked to him, asked him what he thought about my plan, then things might have been different. He's never asked me to be anything or anyone but me, yet I was changing myself to become someone I thought he wanted. He loved me and I threw that love back in his face. I stupidly tried to reach him when all he wanted was to come down to me.
"What I'm trying to say, Lois, is to love him. Don't ever let him go because he's worth everything and more, so much more," she finished. She couldn't look at Lois, not after that embarrassing confession. Like so many other times in their brief friendship though, Lois surprised her.
"You know it's funny," Lois began. "I thought that working at the Daily Planet and doing what I do was so important. And it is; it will always be important, but not as important as I made it out to be. I thought I was being selfish for wanting a love life because people needed me to keep a clear head. I thought I was being selfish for wanting to be with Clark for no other reason than wanting to be with him."
Lana stared at Lois with awe and knew that in this woman she had found someone who understood her completely.
"I even went so far as to tell him that he wasn't doing anything with his life. That what I was doing was important and that he should start thinking about his life choices! I mean, how stupid was I?" she exclaimed, but barreled on, not giving Lana an opportunity to comment.
"Then I saw him dying on that pavement and my whole world shifted. The thought of losing him sent me into a frenzy of emotions that I won't soon forget," she said pensively. The memory of Clark lying motionless with a sickly looking dagger sticking out of his gut was something she would always remember and relive for the rest of her life, she was sure.
"Seeing him use his powers for the first time…it was humbling. He's so powerful yet he's the gentlest, kindest and most selfless person I've ever met. I can't live up to that," she finished lamely.
"Lois, you don't have to live up to it," Lana quickly intervened. "You just need to continue being you."
At that declaration, Lois sat up and prepared to argue with Lana, but she never got the chance.
"He never looked at me the way he looks at you; like he was seeing me with new eyes for the first time, every time. There was a light in his eyes when I saw you two together yesterday that I only saw in my dreams. You don't have to live up to anything because he's already meeting you halfway. He would never ask you to change who you are for him because I can see just how much he cares for you just the way you are."
Hearing someone voice those opinions about their relationship was the easy part. She could believe every word Lana was saying because she knew in her heart that it was all true. Clark would never ask her to change for him; quite the opposite, he was trying to split himself in two for her.
"I haven't even told him how I feel about him," she began. "I know how I feel about him and I think he knows how I feel about him, but we're stuck in a place where we're holding back and it's all because of me. We agreed to keep secrets from each other and I'm fine with that, I am. What I'm not okay with is the way I've put this giant wedge between us to the point where I want something that I have no right to ask from him.
"So I did what I do best; I ran away. After watching him pick himself up from that pavement and after having Lex tell me the truth about what part I played in his life, I ran."
She noticed that Lana didn't even flinch at the mention of Lex and Lois figured it was just one other thing that everyone knew except her. She was making a fool of herself by that point, shameless tears streaming down her cheeks, but Chloe was gone and she needed someone to offload everything to.
"I ended up coming back because a friend convinced me to but I'm still not sold on the idea that I'm meant to be in his life."
It was a sad thought, but there it was. She didn't have any superpowers, she didn't have any money and she didn't have any technological savvy. What role could she possibly play in Clark's life?
"Lois, don't do this to yourself," Lana replied. "The Clark Kent I know gives his heart completely to those he loves and trust me, you fall into that category. You don't have to be a superhero to deserve his love and you don't have to have any special power to be an important part of his life. Trust me, I tried and I lost him forever."
Lois had no clue what Lana was talking about but she didn't feel right asking her what she meant. Clearly Clark and Lana's breakup was about a lot more than going their separate ways. Something big happened between them and by the sound of it, it was all Lana's fault.
There was a long pause in which Lois was sure Lana was debating about telling her the whole story. It wasn't Lois' place to know the gory details of Clark and Lana's final breakup but she was dying to know what had caused the riff.
"Like I told you before," Lana began. "Clark never asked me to be anything other than me. Lex was working on a project that I took for myself and I underwent a complete transformation. My skin was fused with a supersuit made of nanotechnology and alien DNA which gave me superpowers.
"I didn't get all of Clark's powers, but I got his strength, speed, stamina, invulnerability and the one power I never anticipated: the power to absorb the green meteor rock. I thought after I had the suit that Clark and I would live happily ever after because we were finally equals, but Lex had something much more devious planned for us. He planted a bomb made of the meteor rock atop the Daily Planet, and he gave us a choice. Either I absorb the meteor rock inside the bomb to diffuse it, saving everyone in the vicinity and making my body poisonous to Clark, or walk away from the bomb and suffer the consequences."
Lois gasped in shock and so many things made sense now. That time she spent away from Metropolis and with Jimmy, Clark and Lana had been going through so much.
"The choice was easy in the end, but so incredibly painful. The suit absorbed all of the meteor rock and Clark couldn't get within a few feet from me without feeling excruciating pain. I had to leave him behind; I had to leave everything I had worked so hard for behind."
Lana was crying openly by that point and Lois reached out to hold her hand. Lois could understand wanting to do everything for the person they loved, but she would never compromise who she was for someone else. That's exactly what Lana had done, and she had done it with no provocation. Clark never wanted a superpowered girlfriend, he wanted the person he fell in love with. It was then that Lois understood so much about Clark Kent. He had never told her his secret because he didn't want her to view him any differently. That night atop the Daily Planet, when he asked her if Clark Kent was enough, Lois had hesitated with a response. He was asking her in that moment to believe in him. Not the Blur, even if she didn't know it was him at the time, but Clark Kent. Lois could understand why he was still keeping her in the dark about his powers, and she could understand why he had such a hard time opening himself to other people. It wasn't all Lana's fault, she knew that, but losing the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with couldn't have been easy. Lois only hoped that he felt half as strongly for her as he did Lana because she was already so in love with him.
"But believe me Lois, as hard as that time must have been for Clark, he doesn't think about it anymore," Lana continued after a brief silence. "I saw you two walking out of the Daily Planet last night and any feelings he might have had for me were forgotten the moment he started falling for you. It's in the way he looks at you and I can tell he's dying to tell you his secret, but he's afraid. He doesn't want any past mistakes coming back to haunt him and he doesn't want to hurt or be hurt in the process."
She couldn't believe Lana was telling her all of this. They had never been friends, not really. Though they had never been rivals either, Lois always felt like she was lacking any time Lana's name came up in any conversation. But she knew Clark, and she'd like to believe that she now knew him better than anyone. Even before he kissed her as the Blur and she found out his secret, she felt like she knew him deeply. She knew that if he felt half of what she was feeling for him towards her, that he wasn't thinking about Lana anymore. She knew that she had to do everything in her power to stand by him and support him, no matter what.
"Do you think he'll ever tell me?" Lois asked and she knew she shouldn't be asking Lana that question, but she had to.
"In time, yes, I believe he will. With everything that's going on right now though, I wouldn't put it past him to be doubting himself," Lana replied.
Lois thought about that for a moment, and as if on queue, her phone buzzed with an incoming text message. She stood up to retrieve her phone from the kitchen counter as Lana began to get her things together.
Not feeling good, calling in sick to work. Sorry, I'll talk to you later. – CK
She frowned at the message and wondered if he had some sort of superpower that let him know that Lana was in the apartment. Or maybe Lana was right; the anti-hero sentiment was getting out of control in Metropolis and from what she'd seen, Clark wasn't taking it too well. He probably was going to hole himself up and doubt himself. She made up her mind right then to give him some time to figure things out. If she didn't hear from him in a few days, she would go get him out of his depressing state. That's what you did for someone you loved, even if the relationship status between them was a little bit undefined at the moment.
"Thanks for the talk, Lois," Lana said as she walked toward the door. "It was a pleasant surprise to be able to talk to someone about all of this. And believe me, I didn't come here to see Clark. I needed to talk to Tess about a few things but wanted to catch up with Chloe first. I hope everything's okay with her too. Goodbye."
"Yeah, it was a great chat, be safe," Lois replied with a big smile.
As she watched Lana descend the stairway of the Talon, Lois smiled at all the new possibilities. She got a whole new perspective on Clark from the last person she expected, and she was going to run with the information. Clark wouldn't know what hit him.