New Resolve: A Toast to Time and Innocence

By Sammi Burleigh <>

Rated PG

Submitted January 2000

*** I met my old lover in the grocery store The snow was falling Christmas Eve I stole behind her in the frozen foods And I touched her on the sleeve

She didn't recognize the face at first But then her eyes flew open wide She went to hug me and she spilled her purse And we laughed until we cried

Took her groceries to the check out stand Food was totaled up and bagged Stood there lost in our embarrassment As the conversation dragged

Went to have ourselves a drink or two But couldn't find an open bar We bought a six pack at the liqueur store And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence We drank a toast to now We tried to reach beyond the emptiness But neither one knew how

Said she married her an architect Who kept her warm and safe and dry She would have liked to said she loved the man But she didn't like to lie

I said the years had been a friend to her And her eyes were still as blue And in those eyes I wasn't sure If I saw doubt or gratitude

She said she saw me in the record store And that I must doing well I said the audience was heavenly But the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence We drank a toast to now We tried to reach beyond the emptiness But neither one knew how We drank a toast to innocence We drank a toast to time Reliving in our eloquence Another 'Auld Lang Syne'

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired And running out of things to say She gave a kiss to me as I got out And I watched her drive away

Just for a moment I was back in school And felt that old familiar pain And as I turned to make my way back home The snow turned into rain


It was Christmas Eve in Metropolis and snowflakes were falling gently over the city. Clark Kent flew through the clouds in the cold air as he headed to the grocery store. It wasn't the one he usually shopped at, but the one near his apartment was sold out of practically everything. Besides that, Clark was beginning to get a bit restless. That had been happening a lot lately, he reflected gloomily. Well, not just lately, he admitted to himself. He had gotten that old restless feeling more than six months before. Clark knew the feeling well. It was the one he always got after he had been in one place for a while. The very same feeling had driven him out of Smallville, England, France, Greece, Nigeria, Russia, India, China, Borneo, and countless other countries and cities. Clark had been in Metropolis for nearly a year and a half, longer than he had stayed anywhere except for Kansas.

He had flown his parents in to Metropolis the afternoon before. They had been worried about him since … but he refused to even think about that. He had felt better the night before than he had in weeks. Perry and Alice had flown in and Jimmy and Jack had come over to his apartment from the small one that they now shared. The seven friends trimmed the Christmas tree and decorated the apartment for the holiday season. Jimmy, Jack, Perry, and Alice would be back the next night for Christmas dinner. Which brought Clark's wandering mind back to the task at hand.

Clark was out of several spices along with eggs and milk, which he and his parents had finished that morning at breakfast. He dropped discreetly from the sky, landed in the alley behind the store and changed from his Superman uniform to street clothes. Yes, he was still Superman. The job, along with the need to stay in Metropolis that came with it, tried his soul and was breaking his heart, already fragile from the events in the spring. His parents urged him to take a vacation — to get away from Metropolis, but he couldn't. It was beginning to become an obsession. If Superman left Metropolis, then Luthor would win, and Clark vowed that he would never win.

He looked around the parking lot suspiciously for a moment and then walked calmly into the grocery store, head held high. This store was in the wealthy part of town and the prices were considerably higher than supermarkets in the other parts of Metropolis. He rarely shopped there, not because of the prices — Clark would never lack money again in his life — but because of the area. Not only did he not shop in the area, mockingly dubbed Lextown, he rarely came near it, unless called there on a rescue. This was where Lois lived. Clark winced at the mere thought of her name.

He grabbed a basket and headed for the baking aisle to pick up nutmeg and cloves. He strolled to the back of the store and picked up two gallons of milk and a dozen eggs. Clark turned and headed toward the checkout line, but remembered suddenly that Martha had asked him to pick up some vanilla ice-cream to top a pie she was making. He walked to the far side of the store, where the frozen foods were kept. He stopped in mid-step when he approached the walkway.

A woman was standing halfway down the aisle, studying the ice-cream. Her back was to him, but Clark could tell who she was instantly and his heart stopped, and shattered, with the knowledge. Her hair was dark and silky and the curve of her face, practically hidden by that beautiful hair, was easily recognizable. But it wasn't the physical that told Clark who she was. It was her heartbeat and her scent, memorized long before. She turned only slightly, to get a better look at the flavors on the shelf above her head. No doubt about it — the woman only yards away was Lois Lane.

Clark stood in shock, trying to get his reactions under control. One part of him told Clark to get the hell out of the store and get the hell out of dodge while he was at it. The other part told him to go and take her in his arms.

Tempted to obey that voice, he stopped when she moved her arm and he clearly saw a flash of gold coming from her hand. The ring. The sight of it — and of her — swept a wave of memories over him. Memories so painful that they caused a deep physical and emotional ache that caused the Man of Steel to stumble. Luthor buying the Daily Planet, the following explosion, Jack's arrest, his own confession of love to Lois and her denial, her declaration to him as Superman and his refusal, her acceptance of Luthor's proposal, his big argument with her, the angst of not knowing Jimmy's whereabouts, the cancerous pain of Luthor's Kryptonite cage, his taunting words, and the final blow — Lois actually marrying that monster.

Clark was still alive after that ordeal; although he sometimes wished he hadn't survived. He, Perry, Jack, and Jimmy had gotten practically all the evidence they had needed to prove Luthor had been responsible for the explosion that destroyed the finest newspaper in the country, but someone had broken into Clark's apartment and stolen the evidence. Two of the Daily Planet's former stockholders had been killed, causing the others to be too frightened for their own lives to testify against Luthor. Perry, for all his persuasive powers, had been unable to convince Franklin Stern to rebuild the Planet.

Luthor had lured Superman into his wine cellar and trapped the famous crime fighter in a cage made of Kryptonite. Luthor had taunted the Kryptonian while he tortured him with the remaining pieces of his home planet. Clark could still hear Luthor saying the words and shivered at the memory.

"I live in a fantasy world, do I? Well my fantasy is about to come true."

"Am I making a mistake? Will losing the challenge you represent overpower a victory over you? I think not."

"It must be hard for you seeing me all decked out on my way to marry Lois Lane while you suffer here. But it will all be over soon."

"And tonight — tonight won't be just any night."

And the worst of it all. "I love Lois, I really do. But she's just a bit too independent, don't you think? I'll change that though."

Luthor had harassed Superman by asking his opinion of which cummerbund to wear with the tuxedo — red or white. After choosing the red and leaving the white in the cell, Lex left Superman with the white cummerbund draped over his neck, choking the Man of Steel. Clark had managed to get the keys and open the cage by using the cummerbund and what was left of his superbreath. He had crawled up the stairs and through the unguarded door. Afraid that one of Luthor's minions would come to check on him, Clark had run to the back door of the LexCorp building.

Luthor had set up a broadcasting system in the mock-prison and Clark had heard every breath and phrase uttered at the ceremony. He had tried in vain to get out before Lois had repeated her vows. In the midst of his pain and panic, Clark had come up with a plan. He would break out of his jail, get out of the building, change from his uniform back into street clothes, and call the police. Then he would bust into the wedding. He would tell Lois and the wedding guests what Luthor had done to Superman, saying that he, Clark, had known about the meeting between Superman and Luthor and had become worried when Superman hadn't contacted him after the meeting.

Fearing for the safety of his good friend, Clark had come to the LexCorp building to talk to Luthor about the meeting. Clark would relate seeing the green glow coming from the wine cellar and instantly recognizing the Kryptonite. He had gone down the stairs and seen Superman dying in a cage made from the rock. After releasing Superman and calling the police, he had come to find Luthor. Clark had no idea if the story would work and had been subconsciously prepared to reveal his secret if it would stop the wedding. There had been no need for his planning after all. At the top stair he had heard Lois say, "I do."

After that moment, it seemed that a part of Clark had died. He became apathetic, although he hid it well. As much as he wanted to go one of the far corners of the Earth and metaphorically lick his wounds and recover, Clark knew he couldn't. He had too many responsibilities to leave Metropolis immediately. First of all, he needed to clear Jack's name and then make sure that Jimmy would be all right.

When Clark had walked up the stairs and in to his apartment after the wedding, he found his parents waiting for him along with Perry, Jimmy, and Jack. Clark looked terrible and his friends and family were immediately concerned. Trusting Jimmy completely by that time and knowing that Perry and Jack had already figured him out, Clark had told everything that had happened with Luthor over the past forty-eight hours.

Jack had immediately decided that someone needed to go back to LexCorp and get the Kryptonite. Clark would never be safe otherwise. Everyone had agreed with the exception of Clark, who objected that it was breaking and entering, which he pointed out, was illegal. With a satiric grin, Jack had volunteered to go, saying that he had done it before and wouldn't be in anymore trouble than he was already in. Jack had broken into LexCorp easily and had found the Kryptonite. He stuffed the stone in the pocket of his oversized jeans and headed out the door, where a guard had caught him and turned him over to the police. Luckily, the arresting officers hadn't frisked him and the Kryptonite remained undetected. At the station, Jack had called Perry, who came to get the Kryptonite. Martha and Jonathan destroyed the rock.

When his powers were back, Clark had confronted Luthor as Superman and told him to watch his back. Superman was clearly piqued beyond reason and stated that Luthor wouldn't survive his fury. Superman would stay in Metropolis and eventually Luthor's crime organization would topple down. Superman said again that Luthor himself would be dethroned and behind bars. Clark had reminded his nemesis at the end of his monologue that he would not allow Luthor to win. Luthor had smiled maliciously at Clark's turned back and said that he had already won because of Lois. Clark spun around and gave Luthor a good tongue lashing for that.

"You will never win on that point Luthor. For one thing, Lois only married you because I couldn't give her the type of relationship she wanted. Lois loves me. You say you love her, but you don't. You don't even know what love is. Oh, come on, you remember what you said when you had me locked up in that Kryptonite cage. 'She's too independent,' you said. 'I'll change that,' you said. That's not love; that's insanity. Luthor, you think you can break her spirit. You think you can break Lois. You can't, she's too strong, stronger than you are. If anything, she will break you."

After the spite-filled speech, Clark had flown off, leaving Luthor staring after him, drop-jawed and astounded.

For a while, things went smoothly, Jack was released from juvenile hall because of a lack of untainted evidence without ever being indicted. He and Jimmy found jobs, Perry went back to Florida to try and enjoy his retirement, and Clark wrote occasional pieces for the Associated Press. Martha and Jonathan returned to the farm.

For a few weeks, life had gone smoothly for all of them, but that didn't last long. Perry was bored of his retirement, Jimmy and Jack were barely making ends meet, and Martha and Jonathan had the worst harvest in memory because of dry temperatures, little rain, and a few severe tornadoes. Clark was the worst off. He was coming up with dead end after dead end in his investigation of Luthor and had finally quit searching for leads. He was bored and uninterested in his duties as Superman, although he kept it up to keep Luthor from getting too comfortable. And worst was Lois. Clark was still completely in love with her and it seemed that every time he turned the TV on or went to a charity function as Superman, Lois was there by Luthor's side, who was playing up the happy couple routine for Superman's benefit — or torture as the case may be. It was too much for Clark to bear.

Clark, worried about the financial situation of his friends and family, came up with a plan to help them while saving their pride. He gathered them together and announced that he wanted to write Superman's autobiography. Explaining that Luthor had been coming up with a number of smear campaigns, Clark thought that if Superman's life story was published, the public would understand him better and not be quite as open to Luthor's slander. Everyone agreed and the result was "Kal-El: The Man Under the S." It was an instant success, and months later was still at the top of all the world's best-seller list. None of them would ever lack for money.

Clark pulled himself out of his bitter memories and looked back up at Lois. Without realizing that he had made a decision, Clark walked toward her and touched her on the sleeve. Lois whirled around and her eyes flew wide open as she found herself staring into the handsome face of her former partner and best friend. Shock melted into embarrassment, pain, and finally joy at seeing him again. She flew into his arms and engulfed him in a hug. In her rush to get to him, her purse dropped out of her hand and the contents spilled over the floor. They released each other, laughing. Lois bent down to pick up what had spilled. Clark also lowered himself to the floor and tried to help her. Within seconds almost everything was out of the floor and back in her purse. Both were slightly flustered at meeting there and under their circumstances. Lois and Clark avoided each other's eyes determinedly. Lois reached for a tube of lipstick, only to end up clutching Clark's hand which was already holding the lost cosmetic. Both stilled, surprised by the touch. They knew that they shouldn't be near each other, but neither wanted to lose the contact.

The simple touch nearly overwhelmed Lois and she had to fight the tears building up in her eyes. She remembered the day months before when he had confessed his love for her and offered himself to her. Now she wondered what had possessed her to turn him down. Because she thought she was in love with Superman, a voice reminded her. She had thrown that love back in his face and asked Clark to contact Superman, his best friend.

She knew now that it was Clark she loved. She had no idea when it had happened, but she had realized it the day of her wedding. When she was trying out various forms of her new name, none sounded right. For some reason she said, "Lois Lane Kent." It sounded right, but she passed the sensation off as nerves.

Walking down the aisle, her mind drifted to Clark and moments they had shared during their brief friendship. She hadn't paid attention to the ceremony, and to this day she could swear the archbishop had asked if she would take Clark Kent as her husband. Still thinking of Clark she had said she would. It wasn't until Lex kissed that she realized she hadn't married Clark Kent.

For the first two weeks of her marriage, she had been miserable and hadn't bothered to hide it from Lex. But she didn't tell him why she was so unhappy either. Just more than two weeks after the wedding she had gone to Lex's office. They had planned to have lunch together. The door was closed and as she put her hand on the knob to open it, she heard Lex exclaim, "Well, hello, Superman. To what do I owe the displeasure of seeing you?"

Lois had stilled at the mention of Superman's name and the hate-filled tone in her husband's voice. She listened through the door to the conversation that followed. Neither man bothered to keep his voice low.

"Shut up and listen, Luthor. I should have told you from the beginning that I am not a person you want as an enemy."

"Well, I've got you."

"Yes. You won't survive this fight. I will see you suffer as you have made so many others suffer."

"Ah, so you've finally given up those disgusting ethics of yours. You're going to kill me."

"No. You deserve to be killed if any man ever did, and you still may be. After all, the state of New Troy does use the death penalty. I could kill you, but I won't. I want to see you suffer. Losing your money, your power, your social position, and ultimately your freedom. I promised you when we first met that I would see you dethroned and behind bars like the common criminal that you are. I always keep my promises."

"That won't happen."

"I think it will. You hide your tracks well, I admit that, and there's always someone to take the blame for your schemes. Antoinette Baines, Miranda, Max Minken, Toni Taylor. I'll get to you eventually. You'll get careless. It's happened before. If you hadn't arranged that break in at Clark Kent's apartment, you'd already be in jail. They had all the evidence they needed, including witnesses. Next time, the witnesses will be under my protection and you won't be able to order a successful hit on anyone. And don't think you can try to drive me out of Metropolis again. I'm here to stay."

"Are you quite finished?"

"For now. You won't win this."

There was a moment of quiet and Lois assumed Superman had left. Once more she reached for the doorknob, but heard Lex's mocking laughter. "I've already won, Superman. I am married to the woman you love. Because of Lois, I've beaten you."

Lois gasped, shocked. Superman's parting speech only added to her astonishment.

"You will never win on that point Luthor. For one thing, Lois only married you because I couldn't give her the type of relationship she wanted. Lois loves me. You say you love her, but you don't. You don't even know what love is. Oh, come on, you remember what you said when you had me locked up in that Kryptonite cage. 'She's to independent,' you said. 'I'll change that,' you said. That's not love; that's insanity. Luthor, you think you can break her spirit. You think you can break Lois. You can't, she's too strong, stronger than you are. If anything, she will break you," he had stated with certainty. Lois heard the familiar sonic boom and knew that Superman had left.

Superman always told the truth; Lois knew that. She didn't want to face Luthor then and ran to the powder room down the hall. Taking deep breaths, she tried to figure out what to do. Clark had been right. She was married to a mobster! Telling herself to get a grip, Lois tried to formulate a plan. She was Luthor's wife and had access to the entire building. If she pretended she was happy with him, he'd let down his guard and she could get evidence to bring down his crime organization. She could get a divorce and try to get Clark back once Lex was in prison. She needed time to get a tight plan of action, but for now she had to get to his office.

It had seemed like a good plan at first, but Lex covered his tracks carefully and she was getting nowhere. She knew from listening to Superman that Lex would try to break her and she tried to be prepared for anything he could plot against her. It was harder to stand up to him than she thought it would be and by the time she met up with Clark in the grocery store, he had nearly succeeded. She was given less responsibility at LNN and she spent most of her time dreaming of Clark. Her self-confidence was practically gone.

Immersed in her thoughts, Lois jumped when Clark took her hand in his. She looked up at him and he motioned for her to get up. He helped her up and then bent down to get her purse.

She lowered her eyes shyly. "Thank you. What are you doing here?"

Just as uncomfortable as Lois, Clark avoided her eyes. "Mom's started making tomorrow's big supper and I'm out of a bunch stuff she needs. The store near my place is out of everything."

"Big dinner, huh? Is she making that much for just the three of you or is anybody else going to be there? Or is she just making it for you since you eat as much as a horse?" she teased.

He smiled slightly. "Jimmy, Jack, Perry and Alice are coming over."

Clark reached into the freezer and pulled out the ice cream. They started walking to the checkout lines.

"Wow. I haven't seen Jimmy for ages and it's been a while since I talked to Perry," she commented, impressed.

Lois gave her groceries to the cashier and handed him her debit card. She turned to look at Clark and blushed when she realized what she had said. She knew he would attribute her lack of contact with their friends as an effect of her marriage to Lex, as it really was. She had begun to see Clark's smile becoming more genuine, but her comment caused him to frown. Her blush became deeper and her discomfort grew.

After Lois' groceries were bagged, Clark handed his over to the cashier and pulled several dollars out of his wallet. He had thought of Luthor as soon as she'd said she hadn't talked to their friends in a while and Clark did blame the marriage. Embarrassed and unsure of what to do, Clark hesitated after the cashier handed him the groceries and change. Clark took his own bags and the good manners, instilled in him since landing on Earth, broke through his embarrassment. He grabbed Lois' bags and headed out the door. She smiled. He was still the same pleasant, good-natured farmboy he had been when they first became friends. Lois sighed, wishing they still had that easy friendship. He still used the same almost impossibly fast stride and she had to run to keep up with him.

"That one," she said, pointing.

She unlocked the car and opened the trunk. Clark set her groceries down and seemed ready to go the opposite way. Lois didn't want him to go. It was the first contact they'd had since before her marriage and she knew she couldn't go back to Lex after spending just a few minutes with Clark.

"Lois, it was — " he began but she cut him off.

"Um, do you want to go get a drink somewhere? I'd suggest dinner, but it's late and being Christmas Eve, every restaurant is probably closed anyway. But there's sure to be a bar open somewhere." She was unsure of his answer. The last time she had asked him to go anywhere with her was shortly before her wedding and he had lost his temper, refusing to be in a car that belonged to Lex Luthor. They had a huge fight about his attitude toward Luthor. They hadn't seen each other since. Actually the unexpected meeting only minutes before had been the first time they had spoken to each other since that fight.

Clark took a moment to study her and she blushed again under his gaze. He knew something was wrong. The Lois he knew babbled like a brook, but she was never this unsure of herself. In fact, sometimes working with her had been like working with a human steamroller. He smiled at that thought. Clark's mind flitted back to the time when he told Luthor that Lois could never be broken. He had believed it at the time; Lois had always seemed invincible, but could he have been wrong? Could Luthor have succeeded? If Lex had broken Lois' indomitable spirit, Clark would kill him, no doubt about. There was no was he could stand to see her at the mercy of that monster.

"I'd like that," he said simply. He put his groceries in her car and closed the trunk.

"No car?" she asked.

He grinned. " You know me. Never wanted one. Why waste time in traffic? I walked."

"Walked? Clark, it's freezing out here! You'll catch your death of cold," she scolded as she slipped into the car. He closed the door and headed to the other side of the car.

"I doubt it. I've never been sick a day in my life."

"There's a first time for everything," she replied. "And what about our assignment in Smallville? You were sick as a dog then. And you skipped out on tons of stories because of headaches."

She had him there. The Kryptonite in Smallville had made him sick and he had faked headaches to get out of the office when he was needed as Superman.

"Okay, that's true, but I've never had a cold. Really," he said, hiding a chuckle at her 'I don't believe you' look.

Lois was quiet for a moment as she pulled the car out of the parking lot. The streets were deserted.

"How's Perry doing?" Lois asked quietly.

Although he was in love with her and glad to see her again, Clark was still a bit angry with Lois. He held back the urge to tell her to call Perry and ask him herself. "He's doing pretty well. His health is better than it was when he was stressed everyday with deadlines, but he's bored. He lived for the Planet. Alice is pretty happy though. You remember how she used to joke about him being married to the paper and not to her. I really don't think she was kidding. She's glad that they can spend time together now."

Lois smiled. "Actually, I think she used to say that the Planet was Perry's mistress."

Clark blushed at the comment and hoped that Lois wouldn't notice.

Lois had noticed the blush and she suppressed a grin. It was amazing that just a few minutes with Clark could make her feel better than she had in weeks.

"What's Jimmy been up to lately?"

"You know Jimmy. Girls, girls, girls. Other than that, he's taking classes at New Troy University. Photojournalism and computer science."

Lois pulled over and parked the car. "This is really annoying. There's no place open."

Clark grinned. "Well, it is Christmas Eve. People want too be with their families to celebrate."

She frowned. "Celebrate what?"


"No big deal. It's just an overly commercialized time of year."

"It's a magical time of year," he countered with a chuckle.

"What's so funny?" she demanded.

"You haven't changed at all. I suppose you still like Arbor Day better than Christmas?"

"Bah Humbug," she answered suppressing a grin.

She drove out of the parking lot and stopped at the ABC store nearby.

"I guess we'll just have to get something here," Lois said.

Clark stepped out of the car and hurried into the store. He came out a few minutes later, carrying a six pack of beer.

"Thanks, Clark," she said as he slipped back into the car.

He opened two bottles and handed one to Lois. She took it and both were silent, unsure of what to say to each other. Finally, Lois raised her bottle in a toast.

"To innocence."

Clark smiled and returned the toast.

"To now."

Pain flashed through Lois' eyes, but she hid it instantly and changed the subject before it ever got started. "You said your parents are here. How are they doing?"

"Okay. They had a bad harvest last year, but they're getting back on their feet. I fly back and forth to help them. It's a big job for only two people. How's your new job going?"

She faked a smiled, hoping he wouldn't she how insincere it was. "Great. LNN is really something else. It's been hard getting used to it, though."

Clark noticed she hadn't mentioned Luthor. "How's Lex?" he asked, trying to keep his voice neutral so she wouldn't hear his pain and jealousy.

"Fine," she answered shortly. She didn't want to think about Lex, not when she was with Clark.

Wrong subject, he realized and immediately changed it.

"I'd ask how you're doing, but it's pretty obvious. You look spectacular."

Lois blushed, avoiding looking in his eyes, but he caught a glimpse anyway. He couldn't tell if he saw doubt or gratitude.

"Well, what about you? I saw your book in the bookstore. You must be doing really well. Why did you quit reporting? You could easily get a job at any newspaper," she babbled, turning the table on him.

"I'm doing great," he said unenthusiastically. "The book was pretty easy to write. Superman and I have been friends for years and Perry, Jimmy, Jack, and Mom and Dad helped. It's been well received. Everyone wanted to know more about Superman. Traveling for the book tour wasn't much fun, but meet people who've read the book was interesting."

"What about journalism?"

"I can't work for a television station. I'm a newspaper reporter. I wanted to stay in Metropolis, and since the Planet's gone, there's nowhere to work, besides the Star. And that's no better than the National Whisper or the Dirt Digger. I write for the Associated Press from time to time."

"How's Jack doing?"

"Pretty good. He's got a job and he's staying out of trouble. He didn't blow up the Daily Planet, no matter what anyone thinks."

They were quiet for several minutes. Their once easy friendship had deteriorated into an uncomfortable emptiness, one that neither one knew how to reach beyond. Clark sighed, remembering the way his relationship with Lois had been less than a year before. Amazing how things could change. He raised his bottle as though he was going to make a toast.

"To time," he said caustically.

Lois grimaced. "Couldn't have said it better myself."

The snow began to fall more heavily and the two could hardly see out the windows. Lois turned the heater up and Clark opened two more bottles of beer. "Do you remember when we went undercover at the Metro Club?" she asked with a grin. Clark smiled back; she was beginning to act like her old self again.

"I sure do. I thought you would never speak to me again," he laughed.

They talked about old times at the Planet as they waited for the snow to stop. Only minutes later, they had both warmed up to each other and the hurt, anger, and embarrassment had faded away. More than an hour later the beer was empty and they had reminisced about practically every story they had worked on together, reliving a time long since passed.

"That wasn't funny!" Clark protested, laughing anyway when Lois had commented on the look on his face when she had accused him of taking advantage of a privileged interview to get potentially incriminating evidence during the Smart Kids and Metamide 5 story.

"It was funny. You looked so shocked and scared."

"The snow's lightened up," he pointed out a moment later.

"I guess I should get you home," Lois offered reluctantly.

"Just take me back to the store. I don't mind walking."

"Are you sure?"

"I walked there. I can walk back. Besides, Lex is probably wondering where you are and the tabloids would have a great time if anyone saw us together," he replied regretfully.

She pulled her car back into the now deserted supermarket parking lot. Clark unbuckled his seatbelt and twisted, preparing to open the car door. Lois put her hand on his arm to stop him from getting out. She leaned over and kissed him. He responded instantaneously, deepening the kiss.

It was different than any other kiss they had shared, combining the passion of the kiss in Trask's plane with the intensity of the kiss in the Lexor honeymoon suite and the tenderness and longing of Clark's goodbye during the heat wave.

Neither wanted the kiss to end. Clark broke away first reminding himself that no matter how much he loved her, she was still a married woman. He opened the car door and leaned over to kiss her on the cheek.

"It was good seeing you again, Lois."

She smiled. "It was great to see you again too, Clark."

Clark stepped out of the car into the cold air and closed the car door. He took his groceries out of the trunk and raised his hand to wave at her. Both turned away from each other, each with a regretful face.

Lois smiled through her building tears. The time with Clark had strengthened her nearly lost resolve and she promised herself that she would free herself of Lex so she could be with Clark as soon as possible. She drove away, know that he was watching her and also knowing that it would be the last time she would have to leave him. The next time they would meet, she would be free of Lex and able to stay with Clark.

Clark could hardly believe that he was the same man who had walked into the grocery store only hours before. His apathy had given way to hope and he vowed that he would find the evidence needed to have Luthor arrested and to free Lois from that monster. He watched her drive away, leaving him as always. But that would be that last time, he realized. Clark knew deep in his soul that they would be together soon.

Just for a moment they were back at the Daily Planet and felt the old familiar pain of hiding their feelings for each other. And as they turned in opposite directions to make their separate ways home, the snow turned into rain.


Disclaimer: The characters aren't my creation and I don't own them. They belong to DC Comics, Warner Brothers, TNT, and all other relevant groups. I meant no harm by borrowing them. The song is 'Same Old Auld Lang Syne' and belongs to Dan Fogelberg.

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