By Lynn Baldwin (LBALD@aol.com)
Summary: When Baby Rage locks Lois and Clark in a meat locker, it gives them an opportunity to talk turkey.
(This story is like one of those kids' books where you get to pick the ending. You can either choose the revelation or the non-revelation ending. Comments and critiques are always appreciated.)
The cold metal pressed firmly against the back of Clark's neck. Prodded by the barrel of the sawed-off shotgun, he obediently moved forward. He stood directly behind Lois, shielding her from harm with his body. The taunting voice of Baby Rage came from a foot behind him, "You didn't think I was gonna let you get off so easily, did you, reporter boy? You sent me to the slammer - now you're gonna pay!"
"How did you get out?" demanded Lois, as she continued shuffling forward.
"Oh, you're a feisty one, are you?" chuckled the gangster, "Don't worry about me. I'd be more worried about how *you're* going to get out." With that he came to a stop and indicated a large metal freezer in front of them. "Now get in and shut up." Baby Rage pushed Clark through the open door.
Clark gently nudged Lois forward. Within seconds, the heavy door was slammed shut and locked. Lois banged against the thick metal for a few seconds, but quit when her efforts produced nothing but a few bruises.
Clark looked around the small storage freezer. Sides of beef, legs of lamb and other assorted animal carcasses hung from an overhead rack. "Ugh, gross. This is enough to make me go vegetarian, " Clark said. Lois nodded her head in agreement.
"Hey, did you ever see the Brady Bunch episode where Bobby locked Sam the butcher in the meat freezer?" Lois suddenly asked.
"Wh-what?" Clark replied, amazed at Lois' ability to make light of any situation. Of course, it was just one of the many reasons he loved and admired her so much.
"No, I must have missed that one."
Lois said teasingly, "You *did* get the Brady Bunch in Smallville, didn't you?"
"Of course, Lois. So, tell me, how did Sam get out of the freezer?"
"Mike Brady saved the day," Lois explained with a shiver.
Clark looked at his partner with concern. She had on a gabardine coat over her suit, but it certainly wasn't enough protection against the frigid freezer air. Fortunately, he never had to worry about getting cold. Although his body registered temperature variations, extreme temperatures never caused him discomfort.
"Lois, I don't think Mike Brady is going to make it here anytime soon. Why don't we huddle together to stay warm."
"I'd love to cuddle … I mean, huddle," Lois answered. Clark approached her from behind and encircled her in his arms. Immediately, she began to feel warmer. She leaned back appreciatively against his solid chest. "This is much better," she murmured. Despite the situation, she was enjoying the moment. Being close to Clark always made her feel secure and loved.
A glance upwards at a particularly disgusting hunk of meat brought Lois back to the present. "You're right, Clark. Mike Brady is nowhere in sight. But there's always Superman."
Clark unconsciously drew back slightly at the mention of his alter-ego. "I mean," said Lois, turning her head to look at Clark, "He's always managed to save me before. Not that I want to depend on him or anything, but.."
"I'm scared, Clark. I'm really scared." Lois turned her entire body around to face Clark's. Her brown eyes opened wide as she said, "I don't like to admit this, but I'm kind of claustrophobic."
Clark hugged Lois even tighter in response. He realized that Lois hated to admit any weakness. He was happy she was confiding in him, even though the present circumstances were far from ideal. Lois responded to Clark's embrace by wrapping her arms under Clark's suit jacket and around his body, although she no longer was sure if she was searching for comfort or warmth.
"Claustrophobia is nothing to be ashamed of Lois," Clark said gently.
"Well, are *you* afraid of anything?" Lois asked
Clark pondered the question for a moment. There was only one physical thing that he was afraid of, and that was Kryptonite. He couldn't exactly tell Lois that, but he really hated to lie. "Well, I … " Clark stuttered. He stepped back slightly, disentangling himself from Lois in order to think more objectively.
"Clark, you're my best friend. You can tell me anything." Clark looked into her eyes, buoyed by the encouragement he found there.
"Clark, what are you afraid of?" Lois asked, lovingly squeezing his hand with one of her own. She shivered involuntarily. Clark immediately surrounded her once again with his warm embrace.
****proceed for revelation ending or non-revelation ending ****
"Clark, if I tell you a secret, will you tell me?" Lois asked as she gazed earnestly at Clark. She didn't wait for an answer before blurting out, "Clark, I love you."
Clark shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. Lois had just uttered the words he'd been waiting to hear almost since he'd met her, but he was too stunned to reply.
"Clark?" Lois asked tentatively. She took a few steps backwards and sank down into a huddle in a corner. Her thoughts were in a jumble: she'd only recently discovered that she loved Clark, although she was sure that he felt the same way. Telling him had taken a lot of nerve, and had obviously been a big mistake. She was so lost in her embarrassment and hurt that she didn't notice that Clark had taken a seat on the floor next to her.
He gently stroked the side of her face with the palm of his hand. "Lois," he said looking directly into her eyes, "I love you too. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know that you feel the same way." He softly brushed his lips against hers before continuing, "But before we can have any kind of romantic relationship, there's something you need to know."
"Oh, Clark," Lois said, as she got up off of the floor. "I don't really need to know what you're afraid of. It's not that important."
"Yes it is, Lois," Clark said as he stood up. He removed his brown suit coat, then loosened his patterned tie. With much hesitation, he slowly began to unbutton his shirt. Lois stared at Clark in stunned silence as the top half of the famous blue suit became visible. She focused on the red and yellow S insignia instead of on Clark's face. She was too confused to meet his gaze. When she finally did look up, she saw that Clark had removed his glasses.
Clark walked over to Lois and placed his hands on both of her shoulders. "You see, Lois, the only thing I *was* afraid of was Kryptonite. Now, I'm also afraid of losing your love."
"Clark," Lois started, as tears welled up in her eyes. "You don't have to worry about that. But how can you be Superman? And why didn't you tell me before? I don't even know if I believe you!"
Clark levitated into the air until he was at eye level with a ham hock. "Does this prove to you that I'm Superman?"
"Yes, Clark, it does. But it doesn't explain one thing."
"What's that Lois?"
"If you're Superman, what are we doing locked up in here with a bunch of dead animals?"
"I'm afraid of … actually, I'm afraid to even tell you what I'm afraid of."
"That's ridiculous, Clark. Didn't you ever hear that saying about facing up to your fears?"
Clark smiled at her statement, so similar to something his mother would say after reading one of her psychology books. Clark took a deep breath before continuing, "I don't know how you're going to take this, Lois, but here goes: I'm afraid that you'll never love me the way that I love you."
"Oh, Clark," Lois started, gazing into Clark's deep brown eyes. He always seemed so strong; right now, he looked as fragile as a porcelain figurine.
"I'm sorry, Lois," Clark said, before she had a chance to continue, "I know, I know, you love me like a brother. I shouldn't have said anything."
"Clark, listen to me," Lois demanded, taking both of Clark's hands in hers. "I *don't* love you as a brother. Maybe I did at first, but I … "
Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and now was definitely one of those times. Lois stood on tiptoe and eliminated the slight space between them with a small step forward. Her lips met Clark's as she whispered with a smile, "I love you, Clark Kent."