By Kathy Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted August 2000
Summary: Clark takes it hard when he receives bad news about an old friend, which convinces Lois that this woman must have been "the one that got away." A Charity Fanzine story.
A Charity Fanzine story, first released summer 1999
This story is set very early in the second season, soon after "The Source", for those of you keeping track. :)
Comments welcome and appreciated.
The Daily Planet newsroom bustled with activity as it did every Wednesday afternoon. Wednesdays were notoriously slow news days, but the reporters and editors who worked for what was arguably the most prestigious newspaper in the world always had their hands full. Stories that had been simmering on low needed to be expertly stirred, feature articles that had been in process all week needed to be completed for the large Sunday edition, and of course, there were always the various Superman sightings that, while not always Earth-saving, were nearly always newsworthy.
At his desk, Clark Kent finished his article with a flourish on the keyboard and sat back, triumphant. "Yes!" he called out to whoever was in earshot — in this case, his partner and best friend, Lois Lane, and their favorite researcher, Jimmy Olsen. "I finally got that follow-up piece on whistle-blowers completed for Perry. I've been working on it like a dog since last week, when Stuart Hofferman admitted that Viologic was installing faulty parts. I'm hoping Perry will approve it for the Sunday feature's page. I'm pretty happy with it."
Lois looked up from her own keyboard. "Nice to know that my getting put on suspension gave you an idea for your own story," she said, the mildness in her voice tempering the sarcasm of the words. "Maybe you could throw me a bone, thank me for my 'input'."
Clark raised an amused eyebrow at her. "Hey, I seem to remember asking a certain reporter in this room for assistance on this story, only to be told that the story wasn't *interesting* enough." Clark picked up the framed picture of he and Lois at the Kerth Awards last month and crossed the aisle between their desks. "Chew on *this*, my little puppy dog," he gloated teasingly. "Maybe this story will earn me another Kerth nomination." As he reached her desk, Clark patted Lois on the head, then affectionately rubbed behind one ear. "Gooood girl, gooood Lois," he baby-talked, then immediately jumped out of the way as she whipped a hand around to smack him.
Jimmy Olsen looked up from the computer files he'd been searching and watched them in awe. Before Clark Kent had joined the newsroom staff, Jimmy couldn't imagine anyone talking to Lois like that — let alone *touching* her — and living to tell about it. Yet, here she was, not only taking Clark's teasing in stride, but actually looking like she was enjoying it.
It was nice to see Lois like this, smiling and laughing, even as she — Jimmy was certain — plotted her revenge against her partner. It wasn't more than a few short months ago that Jimmy had thought he might never see this side of Lois again. This past spring, she had almost married Lex Luthor, unwilling and unable to believe that he was the mastermind behind much of Metropolis's criminal activity. Luthor's subsequent suicide and the investigation that followed revealed much about the man — more than even Clark or Inspector Henderson had suspected when they began trying to expose him.
The incident had shaken Lois's confidence deeply. Though the Planet building had been rebuilt after Franklin Stern had bought the paper from Luthor's estate, rebuilding Lois Lane had not been nearly as easy. When she had returned to work early that summer, she was a mere shell of the woman she had been. She had retreated into herself and her work, once more threatening to become the person she had been last year — the person she'd been before Superman flew onto the scene, before she'd dated Lex Luthor, and before she had begun working with ClarkKent.
Jimmy and Perry had tried to be there for Lois as the summer months passed, but everyone knew that it was Clark who was responsible for bringing her back to life. Their friendship had taken a beating last spring, as they had fought bitterly over Lex Luthor. Clark had suspected all along that Luthor was no good, but any attempts on his part to convince Lois of that were dismissed as jealousy and inexperience. After Lois had accepted Lex's engagement ring and the wedding date was set for only weeks in the future, things went from bad to worse. Clark alternated between anger and hurt when dealing with Lois and rebuffed all of her attempts at friendship. Jimmy was uncertain exactly what had happened between them, but a blind man could see that Clark was acting the part of the rejected suitor.
After Luthor's suicide, however, Clark seemed consumed with regret. He hated the man, yes, but he never wanted him dead, and he most certainly had never wanted to see Lois get hurt. Lois and Clark seemed to patch things up soon thereafter, spending lots of time together in their off hours, each bending over backwards to be nice to the other one. It was as if they'd each realized how precious their friendship was, and how easily it could be lost.
Now that autumn was approaching, things seemed to be getting back on track. The partners had been uneasy at first — "careful" around each other might be the best term — but slowly they had become more comfortable. Now the sound of Lois and Clark laughing over some private joke or teasing each other affectionately had become more common in the newsroom.
Lois had even been Clark's date to the Kerth Awards last month. Jimmy shook his head. That little turn of events had certainly raised a few eyebrows and kicked the office gossip into high gear. From the way they acted around each other, it was clear that there was more than just a subtle attraction between the reporting team. Around the water cooler, some of the bolder staff members liked to lay odds on how long it would take for Lane and Kent to stop dancing around each other and become a couple. (Of course, the really bold ones — sometimes encouraged by a few drinks at the bar around the corner where staffers often met for Happy Hour — liked to speculate on whether they were already sleeping together, which usually caused the men in the group to give some type of evaluation on Lois's body, and the women to do the same about Clark.)
But from the way Lois and Clark acted around each other, neither seemed in a hurry to move their relationship beyond friendship. It seemed that, for them, teasing banter was enough. Or, if it wasn't, neither of them was brave enough to make the first move.
Perry stuck his head out of his office door. "Kent!" he barked, causing Lois, Clark and Jimmy to jump.
"Yeah, Chief?" Clark asked, exchanging a slightly guilty look with Lois, as if they'd been caught passing notes in class.
Perry, however, ignored their play, if he had seen it at all. "That whistle-blower feature looks good. I won't have time to really give it a go-through until tonight, but it looks likely for the Sunday edition." Perry then turned his attention to Lois, his smile fading. "Lois, how's that story on the rampant vandalism in the South Side coming along?"
Lois rolled her eyes. "Slowly … I can't get anyone to talk about who might be involved. Things just seem to be going from bad to worse over there."
"Well, get on it!" Perry ordered. "I've got fourteen inches saved for you in tonight's paper and if you can't produce, I need to give it to someone else!" With that, he retreated to his office and slammed the door.
Clark cringed. "Ouch. You need any help?"
Lois pursed her lips. "No, thank you," she said curtly. "I can finish it just fine by myself — if someone would stop throwing Milk Bones in my path to distract me. Geez, give a guy a Kerth and it goes to his head," she grumbled, then shot him a sideways glance to let him know she wasn't as mad as she sounded.
Clark just laughed and waved the picture as he walked backwards towards his desk. "Ha ha ha ha ha," he sing-songed, "I'm all finished and you're not." He ducked as the pen she'd been holding sailed over his shoulder.
A few moments later, the phone on Clark's desk rang. "Clark Kent!" he chirped, his good mood evident. "Hey, Billy-boy!! Long time no see!"
Lois shook her head at his pleased outburst, then ignored him as Clark leaned back in his chair to enjoy what was obviously a non-work-related phone conversation. After several moments, however, Lois's attention was caught by Clark's voice once again. Only this time, he didn't sound happy.
"What?" Clark gasped. "Oh my God, no!"
Lois and Jimmy looked up at Clark's outburst then exchanged a look of concern. Clark had leaned forward and was curled in on himself, his elbows propped on his desk. He cradled the phone to his ear with one hand and ran the other through his hair.
"Well, when is the funeral? I can be there in— WHAT??!" Now he sounded angry. "Last month! Why didn't anyone— I know, Bill, but— Yes, I know he's her husband, but she was my—." Lois watched as Clark took a deep breath and sat back, defeated. His voice grew quiet. "Yeah … I know. I'm sorry, Billy. I'll call him this weekend. Thanks for letting me know … yeah, thanks again …"
Lois sat up, alarmed. It was obvious from the phone conversation that someone close to Clark had died, but she had no idea who. All she knew is that he looked like he needed her. She leaned forward in her chair, waiting impatiently for him to wrap up his phone call.
Suddenly, Perry opened his door. "Lois, can you come in here, please?"
Lois hesitated. She really wanted to talk to Clark, to make sure he was OK, but there was something in her editor's voice that told her he really wasn't making a request. "Uh … can I do it in a second, Chief?"
"No, Lois, now … and bring your notes on the South Side. I have some information you might be interested in."
Lois reluctantly picked up her current story folder and walked towards Perry's office. Clark was still hunched over his phone, looking several times smaller than he had just moments before. He was listening intently to the phone, occasionally asking quiet questions that Lois couldn't make out. With a sigh, she walked into Perry's office, casting one last backwards glance at her partner.
Lois had almost forgotten about the phone call as Perry laid out the information a source had just provided him. Intergang? In the South Side? This was huge! Suddenly, her little story about vandalism wasn't so little anymore. She should call her Uncle Mike … see if he knew anything …
Just then, there was a quiet knock at the office door. As Perry waved him in, Clark entered, looking tired and a little pale.
Lois looked at him in concern and sympathy. "Hey, are you all right?" she said softly, taking his hand and giving it a little squeeze.
Clark afforded Lois a sad smile as he squeezed back briefly, then dropped her hand and stepped away. He looked at their editor instead. "Perry, I'm gonna take off for the rest of the day. I'm not … feeling too well right now, and I think I'm just going to go home."
Perry raised an eyebrow. "What's wrong, son?"
Clark shook his head. "Ahh … I just need to go home. I'll be OK. I've finished my story for tonight; it's in your computer waiting for you. Anything else, I'll get to tomorrow."
Perry looked like he was going to press further, then thought better of it. "OK, Clark, we'll see you tomorrow then."
"Thanks, Chief," Clark replied quietly.
He was almost out the door when Lois called him back. "Clark?"
Clark stopped in the doorway and met Lois's eyes. "Yes?"
They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Lois hesitated as she lost herself in his eyes. They looked so sad … it was a look she was unaccustomed to seeing in Clark's face. She swallowed. "Feel better," she whispered.
He smiled softly in gratitude. "Thanks," he replied as he shut the door behind him.
By the time Lois and Perry emerged from the office, Clark was gone. His computer was shut down and his light turned off. Lois looked at his empty desk wistfully, suddenly missing her partner. It wasn't the first time he had disappeared in the middle of the day, but somehow this felt different. She was used to him being gone physically without an explanation, but this time, Lois got the feeling he was pulling away from her emotionally as well.
She snagged Jimmy as he walked past. "Jimmy! What happened to Clark? Who was on the phone?"
Perry cocked his head as he overheard. "What happened?"
"Clark got a phone call right before you called me into your office," Lois explained. "He sounded pretty upset. It was obvious that someone had died, but I couldn't tell who. It wasn't his parents, though, right, Jimmy?"
Jimmy shook his head. "No, a friend of his. Got killed in an accident last month."
"Last month? Yeah, he sounded mad that he was just finding out now," Lois mused. "I take it they already had the funeral and didn't invite him?"
Jimmy grimaced as he thought about how to phrase the next part. "I think … it was an ex-girlfriend and her husband didn't want Clark there."
Lois's eyes widened. "What?" she gasped. This was not at all what she'd expected Jimmy to say.
Jimmy lowered his voice a little. "I'm not sure, but that was the impression I got. Clark was pretty upset when he got off the phone and I went over to his desk to see if he wanted to talk. He said he hadn't seen her in years, but they'd been really close once. He said that she was … special."
"Special," Lois echoed wistfully.
"That's what he said …" Jimmy concurred.
Perry exhaled. "Well, no wonder the boy looked so upset. Probably needed to go home and clear his head. It's hard when anyone you're close to dies, but when it's someone so young … well, that's just a darn shame."
"You said she was married, though, Jimmy?" Lois followed up. She wasn't sure why it was so important to her, but it was.
The young man nodded. "That's what Clark said, that he felt bad for her husband. Sounded like he had some mixed feelings about the guy."
Perry looked speculative. "Hmm, maybe they competed for this girl and Clark lost."
Lois stood up a little taller. "You don't know that," she defended. "Maybe … they were just friends. Maybe … he just didn't like her choice of husbands."
Perry shrugged. "You're right, I don't know that … I don't know anything about it. Just supposing. But if what Jimmy said is true … that Clark called this girl special … maybe she was the one that got away."
Lois pursed her lips, suddenly annoyed. "I have work to do," she said abruptly. "We can speculate all we want, but the only one that really knows is Clark." And with that, she turned and stalked back towards her desk.
Lois sat at home that night, curled up on the couch with a tub of chocolate ice cream in her lap. She stared unseeingly at the television, lost in thought as she mindlessly lifted her spoon from the container to her mouth. Clark hadn't returned to the office this afternoon, not that she'd expected him to. She had called his apartment before she'd left work, but hadn't gotten any answer. She'd left a brief message, suddenly feeling shy when the machine beeped at her — "Hi, it's me. Just calling to see if you wanted to talk." And then she'd hung up quickly, not sure what she'd say if he were to pick up after all.
Lois had found herself going through the afternoon on auto-pilot, much as she imagined Clark might have done if he had stayed at work. She felt oddly depressed, as if it were a good friend from her past who had died. She wasn't quite sure why she felt this way … she certainly had never met this woman. She had never even heard about her before today.
Lois shivered slightly. Was this an old girlfriend of Clark's? The idea unnerved her, and what was worse, the fact that it unnerved her, unnerved her! She knew that Clark must have dated before moving to Metropolis. Heck, she had even seen him with other women over the year or so that they'd known each other. But as much as she tried to deny it, Lois recognized this feeling. Jealousy. She was actually feeling threatened by this woman from Clark's past.
'But why?!' she asked herself over and over again. It wasn't like she and Clark were a couple. I mean, sure, they'd been spending a lot of time together over the last few months. They'd had a lot of good times this summer, despite Lois's occasional bouts of depression over the Lex Luthor fiasco. Even during those bad times, however, Clark had always been there for her.
But it wasn't like they were dating or anything; they were just friends. Lois keenly remembered telling Clark in the park this spring that she didn't have romantic feelings for him, and her memory of him reiterating the same thing back to her outside the Daily Planet building a few weeks later was just as acute.
Lois sniffled. It was what she wanted, to have Clark as her best friend. She didn't want to ruin what they had by dating. If they did try dating — assuming he even wanted to, that is — and it didn't work out, then they would lose everything! This was a good decision, she told herself. It was the safest thing, the best thing …
So, why, after all this time, did the memories of those conversations send a pang of regret through her heart? And why did Perry's words from this afternoon keep passing through her mind?
"The one that got away …"
Lois knocked hesitantly on the door at 344 Clinton Street. She wasn't quite sure why she was here … well, that wasn't exactly true. More accurately, she wasn't quite sure how she was going to *explain* why she was here.
She wasn't even sure if Clark would be there. Lois had called his apartment this evening from home, but again got no answer. This time, she didn't leave a message. Instead, feeling restless, she got into her Jeep and went for a drive to clear her head. She wasn't really surprised that she found herself on Clinton Street, slowing the car down and looking up at Clark's windows to see if she could see a light shining from inside.
When she saw that light, indicating that he might be home and just not answering the phone, she knew what she wanted to do. Memories of this summer came flooding back to her, memories of all the times Clark had showed up on her doorstep bearing food and rental movies — memories of all the times those movies had gone unwatched as she instead curled up in his arms and wept over everything that had happened to her over the spring.
Yet he had never judged her, never given up on her. It was as if Clark's eyes were opened more fully where he and Lois were concerned, and he regretted all of the petty arguments they'd had over Lex and all of the mean things they'd said to each other. Neither of them ever wanted to go back to that, and Clark had proven himself trustworthy. There were many times that she knew he was biting his tongue, longing to say 'I told you so' when she'd wail about how blind she'd been, and how Lex had played her for a fool. Yet not once did Clark do anything but support her, to pump her up and make her feel special …
Special … is that how he made this other woman feel?
Lois shook her head, refusing to dwell on it. Clark needed her, of that she was sure. Depending on how "special" this other woman was, he might refuse company tonight, but Lois knew she had to try. If there was any chance at all that she could repay Clark for this summer, for all the kindness and support he had given her, this was the time.
And so here she was on his front porch, her arms full of junk food and Lethal Weapon movies, on the off chance that the light on in his window meant that he was home, and not that he had simply forgotten to turn off a lamp when he'd gone out.
Lois knocked a bit louder, juggling the bags in her arms, and listened for footsteps. Her heart rate picked up when she heard some noises inside the apartment, and she surprised herself by feeling a grin spread across her face. Since when did she get so excited about seeing Clark? Especially when he might not be in the mood for company?
She shouldn't have worried. The smile on Clark's face when he opened the door and saw her there was worth the trip.
"Hi," she said, trying to stop her heart from racing. "Jimmy told me what happened this afternoon. I thought you might like some company."
Clark didn't answer right away, and Lois found herself once more just staring into his eyes. What she saw there made her glad she'd come. His eyes were still a little sad, but there was also gratitude … and something else? It was gone before Lois could identify it, but it made her hope desperately that he would invite her in.
He did. "Come on in," Clark replied. "I was hoping it might be you."
Lois turned to face him as they passed on the landing. "You were?" she said a little breathlessly.
Clark smiled gently. "Yeah," he whispered. "I was." They stared at each other for a another long moment before Clark suddenly spoke again. "Here, let me take those," he offered, removing the bags from her hands.
They walked down the landing into the apartment. Lois stopped in the living room to shrug off her jacket while Clark continued on into the kitchen to deposit the food on his table.
When Clark returned, Lois surprised him by wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him into a warm hug. After a moment's hesitation, Clark returned it, shutting his eyes as he held her tightly. When they finally pulled back, Clark smiled softly. "What was that for?" he asked.
Lois reached up and ran a hand through his hair at the temple, just above his glasses. "You looked like you needed it," she answered simply.
Clark just stared into her eyes, not finding the words he needed to express what he was feeling and not trusting his voice even if the words came.
Sensing his growing emotions, Lois released him and motioned them over to the couch. "Should we sit down?" As they reached the middle of the room, however, Lois noticed the pictures that were covering the top of Clark's coffee table. She knelt on the floor in front of the couch, where it looked like Clark had been when she'd interrupted him. Clark joined her, sitting on the floor beside her.
Lois picked up a picture from one pile and studied it. She recognized Clark right away. His features were more youthful, his hair longer and his glasses different in the photo, but it was still the man that would later become her best friend. Lois smiled. "When was this taken?" she asked. "I saw pictures of you at your parents' house when you were really little, but I've never seen any from this time. How old were you?"
"That was taken the summer between my junior and senior year of college, so about seven years ago."
Lois nodded in agreement, then turned to look at him next to her. "You look pretty much the same. Younger obviously … maybe a little thinner." She cocked her head as she examined him. "Your features are a little more defined now, I think. They were softer when you were younger."
Clark blushed. "Gee, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not," he replied as he self-consciously ran a hand through his hair. "Do I want my features to be more defined?"
Lois laughed and rolled her eyes. "Trust me, Clark, you have nothing to worry about. Like someone like you wouldn't know how attractive they are!"
Clark looked up at her. "You— you think I'm attractive?" he asked a little shyly.
It was Lois's turn to blush. "Well … yeah … I mean …" she stammered. "I mean … look at you!" Nervously, she tore her eyes away from his face and picked up the next picture in the pile. This one was a picture of a young woman. A quick glance at the contents of the table showed her that this same girl was in several of the photos Clark had been looking through. Lois forgot her nerves as she intently studied this young woman. "Is this her?" she asked.
Clark sighed, his air of sadness returning. "Yeah," he replied. "Her name was Lauren. We spent a lot of time together that summer."
Lois picked up another picture, this one of Clark and Lauren together. They were laughing as they tended what looked to be hamburgers on a charcoal grill. "She's beautiful," Lois said sincerely. And she was, though Lois had to admit she wasn't surprised — in the year that she'd known Clark, she'd come to realize he had a thing for pretty blondes, and this girl was no exception.
Clark took the picture from Lois and stared at it for a long time. "Yeah, she was," he finally replied. After a moment, he added, "She was really smart, too, and funny. She was a good friend to me that summer. We had a lot of fun."
"When was the last time you talked to her?" Lois inquired.
Clark looked a little pained and didn't answer right away. "It's been quite awhile, actually," he finally responded. "She and her husband were living overseas." Clark dug through another pile and produced a different photo. Clark and Lauren were in it, along with a third person. Clark pointed to him. "That's Don. They got married later that fall, about three months after this picture was taken."
Lois read between the lines. "And you and Don were friends … until he married your girl?" she suggested.
Clark smiled at that. "I never said she was my girl."
Lois smiled back. "You never said she wasn't."
Clark didn't answer but went back to studying the pictures. Lois watched his face as he sorted through them. There was something going on here, something more than he was telling her. Were these simply old memories that were being probed, the pain of a long-forgotten crush brought to the surface by unexpected tragedy? Or was there something more serious going on, with stronger feelings involved?
"So, was she?" Lois finally asked softly. "Your girl?"
With a sigh, Clark leaned back against the front of his couch, legs crossed in front of him. Lois shifted to a seated position herself, and her knee settled against Clark's upper leg as they sat side by side on the floor. Lois put a hand on his thigh and rubbed it gently. "Sometimes it helps to talk about what's bothering you … you taught me that," she added.
Clark turned towards her and gazed into her eyes, searching for something. "I'm not sure what we were to each other," he finally admitted. "Maybe that's why I'm feeling so ambivalent about this. We dated casually for about a month. At least, to her it was casually. To me …" Clark hesitated, but continued when he saw the understanding and encouragement in Lois's eyes. "To me, it meant a little more, I think."
Lois nodded. So far, it sounded like a normal unrequited crush. "Did you tell her how you felt?"
"Yeah, near the end of the summer. I was going back to Kansas, to finish up my last year at Midwest, but I wanted to keep in touch with her, to try to keep seeing her long-distance." Clark shook his head ruefully. "She wouldn't even let me finish my little speech. She told me—" Clark stopped suddenly, uncomfortable, and turned his gaze away from Lois's.
"What? What did she say?" Lois leaned forward a bit, keenly wanting to know how the story ended.
Clark looked down at his lap, refusing to meet Lois's eyes. When he continued, his voice was carefully measured. "She told me I was one of her best friends and I would always be special to her, but she didn't feel that way about me."
Lois swallowed, suddenly chilled by a memory of her own, a memory less than six months old. The pang of regret she'd been feeling on and off for the last several months sharpened, like a knife plunging into her heart.
Clark suddenly chuckled ruefully and met her eyes once more, almost challengingly. "Two weeks later, she and Don were engaged."
Lois paled. The knife had just been turned, and they both knew it. Only Lois hadn't waited more than a night after turning Clark down before accepting Lex's proposal.
"That must have hurt," Lois finally responded quietly, sincerely.
Clark relaxed his posture, as if regretting the message he knew she had received. "Yeah, it did. I mean, I got over it; I even went to their wedding. But after that … I don't know, I think Don felt uncomfortable around me, maybe a little guilty—"
"Or threatened," Lois interjected. "If she was dating both of you at the same time, he might have worried that she might still have feelings for you."
Clark pondered this. "I hadn't really thought of it like that before," he said thoughtfully. "I don't know … The way she let me down so gently … I always felt like there was something more to her feelings that she wasn't telling me. I guess that's why I felt so bad, like I knew that she cared about me, but she still chose someone else."
This time it was Lois who sat back against the couch. "Oh, God," she exclaimed, resting her face in her hands. "This keeps getting worse and worse, doesn't it?"
Clark looked at her quizzically. "What does? My story?"
Lois shook her head and laughed at the absurdity of the situation. It was either that or cry. The parallels to their own situation was uncanny. "Never mind … I'm just being killed by irony, that's all."
"I don't get it," he finally offered.
"Don't worry about it," she soothed as she lifted her eyes to his once more. "So, how did she die?" Lois asked, wanting to change the subject. At the change in his expression, however, she was sorry she did. The endearingly confused smile left his face and he looked pained once more. "Oh, Clark, I'm sorry …"
He waved her off. "No, it's OK. It was sudden, a car accident. Billy didn't know all the details … but I'm not sure I want to know, anyway." His voice dropped to almost a whisper. "Thinking of her like that … if she suffered …" Clark's voice broke suddenly, and he inhaled shakily, trying to compose himself.
Lois, however, understood completely. One of the worst parts of this past spring had been watching Lex jump from his building. He had landed not fifty feet from her as Lois, still clad in her wedding gown, had buried her head in Clark's chest and clung to him for support. Clark wouldn't let her look at the body, leading her away as she sobbed, making sure her face was covered.
Lois was so angry at Lex for misleading her, for lying to her … for pretending to be someone he was not and making her feel foolish for not figuring it out. But she never wanted to see him dead, and she still felt sick whenever she thought about the man she'd been kissing earlier that day plunging to a violent death. She wouldn't wish those thoughts on anyone, least of all Clark.
"Come here," she whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him to her. Unlike Lois had this summer, Clark didn't cry, but she could see his eyes getting red as he went willingly. He burrowed his face into her neck and sniffled as Lois rubbed his back soothingly. "It's OK," she murmured as they held each other. "You're going to be fine."
After a long moment, Clark turned his head so that it was resting on her shoulder. "Isn't that what I used to tell you this summer?" he said.
Lois smiled. "And you were right. You have an annoying habit of doing that, you know. Being right so often," she teased.
Clark laughed a bit through a final sniffle. "I'm not always right. I can't seem to make the women I like like me back."
Lois hugged him closer as she looked over the top of his head at the pictures on the coffee table. She closed her eyes as she tried not to think of she and Clark in the park last spring. "Well, it was her loss," Lois finally replied. "We all have 'the one that got away', and usually they are just too blind to realize what they are giving up until it's too late."
Clark stilled in her arms. After a long pause, he responded. "Lauren wasn't 'the one that got away' from me, Lois," he said quietly. "I mean, I cared for her … more deeply than I had for anyone else up to that point, but … she's not who I think of when I hear that phrase." He paused again. "Actually, that honor is reserved for someone else entirely."
Lois felt heart sink. Another one? Another woman to feel jealous of? 'Oh, put me out of my misery right now.' Lois cleared her throat. "Well," she said, her voice cracking a bit despite her best intentions, "I'm sure she regrets what she gave up also. Any woman would be lucky to have you, Clark."
Clark lifted his head and looked at her, his eyes full of longing. "I don't know if she regrets it or not," he whispered, "but I know I'd be lucky to have her."
Lois stared into his eyes for a long moment, then almost on instinct, began to move her face slowly towards his. She didn't know who his lost love was, and at that moment, she didn't care. What she did know was that she wanted to kiss him, to comfort him and soothe him, and to make them each forget, if only for a few moments, all of their regrets.
Her eyes closed as their lips touched softly. She felt his mouth relax against hers, and hers did the same. One kiss led to another as they nibbled gently on each others' lips, exploring and caressing and tasting.
Slowly, Lois shifted her weight and scooted over to Clark's lap. Their kisses so far had been about restrained passion, and she didn't want to escalate things too quickly. But she did want to hold him and look him in the eye, so she sat on his lap, facing him. Clark followed her lead, exploring her mouth thoroughly but not aggressively as they kissed. They let their hands wander slowly through the other's hair, over the other's back, in tender motions.
Finally, Lois pulled back, breathless. She let her head fall back as Clark layered wonderful kisses down her neck. She thought of the woman who had hurt Clark, and Lois found herself hoping that the woman would never change her mind, would never come to Metropolis to win him back.
"Forget her, Clark," Lois whispered as he began feathering butterfly kisses over her cheeks, her nose, her eyelids … "The one that got away … forget her."
"I can't …" he whispered back emotionally as he kissed her cheek. "I love her."
Lois felt tears well up in her eyes as she thought of Clark in love with someone else. She choked back a sob. "Then maybe you should be kissing her," she said in a tiny voice.
Clark exhaled a shaky breath as he lowered his lips to hers. "Lois," he gasped. "I am. God help me, I am."
As their lips met once more, the rest of the world faded away. For them, there would be no more regrets.
Characters in this story are copyrighted by DC Comics, December 3rd Production and Warner Brothers. No infringement is intended in any part by author, however, the ideas expressed within this story are copyrighted (c) 1998 to the author, Kathy Brown.