Oolong Tea

By Vixen

(4/22/95) revised: 4/26/95

Summary: One emotional night, after she's cried through "An Affair to Remember," Lois receives a visit from Superman. She decides it's finally time to break the news to him about her feelings for Clark.

This story was written before I saw the previews for "Whine, Whine, Whine." I've always envisioned the resolution of the Lois/Superman aspect of the romantic triangle to be bittersweet. - V.


"Click!" The television went black. The apartment was suddenly quiet. Only the muffled sounds of traffic and a police siren in the distance disturbed the solitude.

Lois tossed the remote control aside as she fumbled for the box of tissues she kept close by. She blew her nose and wiped the tears from her eyes. "Why do I do that?" she asked herself, at the same time rescuing the remote before it disappeared between the cushions of her love seat. "Every time I watch that movie, I end up blubbering like a baby." It probably was a good thing Clark hadn't come over that evening— she needed to be alone to sort out her feelings. And she didn't want to have to explain her tears.

She knew she loved Clark, and had for a very long time. But the movie reminded her of someone else, and the feelings she still had for him. She didn't want to think about Superman, but it was impossible, especially after watching "An Affair to Remember." And so she sat, huddled under a blanket on her love seat, softly sniffling, with her box of tissues and a pot of oolong tea to keep her company. Oolong tea—Clark's remedy for everything. She smiled as she poured herself another cup of the fragrant brew. Breathing in the aroma of the steaming liquid, she sipped it slowly, taking care not to burn her mouth. Clark had given her a teakwood box filled with the aromatic tea. She'd followed his brewing instructions to the letter, and she had to admit it was quite good. Nothing at all like the bagged tea she first bought. This was different—he must have gotten it from his friends in Chinatown. The man never ceased to amaze her. Well, her sister said it was the quiet ones who were always full of surprises. She wondered what else she had to learn about her handsome partner—the special man in her life.

She often thought about their first date, and the first time Clark had kissed her with abandon—and how long it had taken them to get over that first hurdle of intimacy. And now—well, she just couldn't imagine living without him. But she also couldn't help thinking about the other man who had affected her so deeply—the one man to whom she owed her life many times over, the one who made her trust again. The only other man who made her feel special—Superman.

She hardly ever spoke of him to Clark anymore, knowing how much pain it must have caused him in the past to be compared to the superhero. That was her one regret. She had no idea how much it hurt him until one day, after babbling to Jimmy about some rescue or feat of strength Superman had performed, Lois happened to see a look on Clark's face that stopped her cold. It was a combination of sadness and pain, not the usual "not Superman again" look she always got from him when she rambled on too long about the superhero. Lois resolved from then on never to hurt Clark again where the man in blue was concerned.

But she couldn't deny she still cared for Superman, that he still held a special place in her heart. He kept intruding on her thoughts. She remembered the time she had confronted him about his feelings for her—after Lex had proposed. He had been distant and cold. In retrospect, she couldn't blame him. She had played her hand, and she had lost. Now all she wanted was to be sure of Superman's feelings for her, so that she could get on with her life—with Clark.

Suddenly, Lois heard a sound at the window—a sound that nearly caused her to drop the cup of tea she was holding. What? She set the cup on the table and turned slowly around, holding her breath, afraid to discover what had caused the noise. Her heart nearly stopped. There he was—at her window, as if he had been reading her thoughts. She had started locking her windows at night—after he had made it clear that she shouldn't think about trying to pursue their relationship any farther. She never expected to be alone with him again—especially not like this. She stood up and faced the window, the blanket falling to the floor, revealing the silk pajamas she was wearing. She stared at him, wondering if perhaps her mind was playing tricks, or if it was a dream. No, he was really there. And he was waiting patiently for her. She slowly walked over and unlocked *their* window. She felt her heart sink. Turning away from him she returned to the couch, retrieving the blanket, her knees shaky, her mind racing, trying to think of something, anything she could say to him. This wasn't how she planned to settle things, but now she had no choice.

"Lois? Is everything all right?" There was concern in his voice—she wanted to die. She couldn't look at him.

"Yes, I'm fine—please come in. Would you like some tea?" Tea—tea? How formal she sounded.

"No, thanks. I stopped by because I thought I heard you crying and I was afraid something had happened." He drifted down directly in front of her.

Heard her crying? No escape now, she thought frantically. Stop it Lois! Why are you suddenly afraid of him? She couldn't find an answer. This man has saved you countless times, you've helped each other, you've kissed him, you know him better than anyone—

"Oh." Her voice sounded small and distant.

"Something is troubling you. Can I help?" He sat down beside her, and tipped her head up so he could gaze into her beautiful brown eyes. He saw tears.

"I—I was just wondering if I'd ever see you again—you know—at my window—and you startled me because I really didn't expect to see you there, and I was watching my favorite movie, and it made me sad, and—"

"Lois, please don't be unhappy. Is it something I've done?" Clark wanted desperately to take her in his arms, but he couldn't—not yet.

"No. You haven't done anything. It's just that—it's just that—this is so hard to say to you—" She found it difficult to continue.

"Please, tell me—you can say anything, you know you can." He searched her eyes for some clue, some hint—

"You know I've been seeing Clark?"

"Yes. Is there something wrong?" A feeling of panic and fear rose in his heart.

"Oh, no. There's nothing wrong at all. Maybe that's the problem. Everything is so right—but I still feel—I still care for you—I'm sorry."

"Oh, Lois. There's nothing to be sorry about. I just want you to be happy. You are happy, aren't you?" Clark suddenly felt anxious—perhaps he had no right to be here tonight, asking her such questions, invading her privacy like this.

"Oh, yes," she whispered sweetly, closing her eyes.

"Then I'm happy for you." He tried not to let the relief he felt show in his voice.

Her eyes opened.

"You are? Really?" There was a hint of surprise in her look. "I guess I just needed to know how you felt. The last time this happened—I can't tell you how badly I felt about all that."

"Lois, that was a long time ago. We've been through a lot together since then—you'll always be special to me, don't you know that?" His eyes softened. He stood up and offered her his hand. She didn't know whether or not to take it. She hesitated.

"Friends?" He asked, extending both of his hands to her. She slowly rose from the couch.

"Yes," she whispered, looking up into his eyes. He smiled, and with open arms, waited for her to cross the short distance keeping them apart.

"Thank you," she said simply, hugging him at last.

"No matter what happens, I'll always be there for you—always." Clark said, holding her tightly, not wanting to let go. Feeling the silk beneath his hands, exploring the small of her back, the curve of her waist; stroking her hair, wanting to make the painful memories go away; wanting to kiss her, but knowing he couldn't—it was almost too much for him.

"I think everything will be all right from now on," she whispered. "I just didn't want my feelings for you to come between me and Clark. It wouldn't be fair to him."

"I understand. You have nothing to worry about, I promise," he replied, trying to control his voice.

She believed him. If there was anyone she could trust besides Clark, it was this man. Held tightly in his embrace, she could feel the firm muscles beneath his suit, the strength in his arms, the warmth from his body. The tender caresses, his cheek against her hair—she knew he still felt something. She smiled to herself. It was a memory she would carry with her for the rest of her life. She slowly released herself from his arms.

"Are you sure you wouldn't like some tea—before you go?" It was a dismissal, albeit a sweet one.

"No, I think it would be best if I leave—" He felt a lump in his throat. He turned and walked toward their window.

"I'll miss you," she said. This was going to be a lot harder than she thought. He stopped, and turned to look back at her over his shoulder.

"Don't say that," he said quietly. "Just remember what I said, that I will always be there for you. Please don't forget that." He turned, and in a blur was gone. The only evidence remaining of his visit was the open window and the curtains blowing in the breeze. She slowly closed and locked her window. She leaned against it for support, pressing her fingertips to the glass.

"I know," she whispered to herself, her eyes filling with tears. "I won't."