By Pam Jernigan <ChiefPam@nc.rr.com>
Submitted May 1999
Summary: In the episode "Lucky Leon" Lois panics following their "great date," but in this story, Clark doesn't give up so easily.
This was inspired by a) the recent fanfic list thread about Lois' behavior during first season being motivated by a fear of rejection, b) seeing Lucky Leon again on TNT yesterday, and c) some judicious nagging by Chris Mulder. :-) Lois is not her usual feisty self here, but give her a break; she's had an emotionally trying night. All feedback welcomed, public or private.
Clark entered the newsroom slowly, unsure of what to expect. His relationship with Lois had been changing ever since he'd finally mustered the courage to ask her out, and he had thought that things were going well. Last night's dinner date had been the most wonderful experience — the conversation, the air of quiet intimacy, and most especially the flashes of mutual sexual tension that they usually took care to hide. He'd never known that a simple bite of dessert could be so sensual!
The whole evening had filled him with a deep, rich contentment. As Lois had said, it hadn't been the wildest, or the funniest, but it had all seemed to work. Until, that is, she'd said she could never see him again, and had slammed the door in his face.
Now he was confused, and hurting, and trying vainly to figure out what he could possibly have said or done to offend her.
As he crossed the newsroom to his desk, he scanned the area to see if Lois was even there. He spotted her in Perry's office, where their editor was pacing and making wild hand gestures, obviously in the middle of an impassioned speech about something or another. Clark smiled tiredly, and wondered if he should listen in. Usually, he didn't eavesdrop around the office, but right now he could think of no good reason to restrain his curiosity; besides, if Perry was that worked up, it was probably about a story, and he wouldn't mind some warning.
He sat down at his desk and began switching on his computer as he tuned in. The first words he heard, however, riveted his attention, and his morning routine was forgotten.
"It wasn't a bad date. It was a really *great* date … "
Clark continued to listen, bemused, as Lois talked out her insecurities. A belated flash of guilt convinced him to tune out before the end of the conversation, but he continued to sit motionless, processing what he had heard. So he hadn't done anything wrong, after all. This was just another instance of Lois firing up her defense mechanisms, as he'd seen her do so often in the past. Considering what he'd learned of her history, her attitude made a certain amount of sense. Subconsciously, she might even believe that she was unlovable; after all, no one who'd ever really known her — her parents, her ex-boyfriends — had really loved her. She might want to believe that Clark was different, but her history would make it difficult. She had experienced just as much personal rejection as she had professional acclaim. It was bound to affect her reactions.
Just like, he reflected wryly, a lifetime of secrecy had so far kept *him* from telling her everything about himself, even when there was little reason for further deception, at least where Lois was concerned. That sort of programming was difficult to override.
Well, he would overcome his own hang-ups real soon now, he promised himself, but in the meantime he would certainly do what he could to help her past hers. He had made progress in the last year and a half. Bit by bit, she had allowed herself to trust in his friendship. But a romantic relationship was a whole new level of risk, and at the moment, at least, she was terrified. Obviously he had to do something to fix that, to reassure her.
Lois bustled out of Perry's office, and he rose from his desk to greet her. "Morning Lois … look, can we talk — "
"Morning Clark," she interrupted, far too brightly, not really looking at him. "Oh, look, it's a Shower Friend; Lucky Leon must have sent it." She busied herself with inspecting the various features on the plastic contraption.
"Yeah, I guess so," he replied, seeing that she was going to make this difficult. "But we really need to talk about last night, Lois, because I — "
"It's kind of cute," she babbled on, trying her best to ignore his overtures. "In a hideous sort of way. And hey, you got a Desk Friend. It's got a clock, and a radio — and real imitation wood! Must be the deluxe model. And look — a stapler!"
Clark considered his options. Words obviously weren't going to get through at the moment. Maybe more drastic action was required. He glanced swiftly around the newsroom; people were at least pretending to ignore them. He took a deep breath and reminded himself that faint heart ne'er won fair maiden.
"Lois … " Stepping forward, he gently pulled the Bath Friend from Lois's arms, and set it on her desk. She met his eyes for the first time that day, looking upward in confusion. Without giving her time to react, he embraced her, one arm around her waist, his other hand cupping her face as he gently kissed her, trying to communicate without words how much he loved her.
He forced himself to keep his grip loose around her, giving her the freedom to move away if she so desired. After a long moment, however, she moved ever so slightly closer, and began returning the kiss, her hands moving up his chest to snake around his neck. Clark nearly trembled in relief, and hugged her tighter. After a moment more, he broke off the kiss, and pulled back a few inches to see her face.
She was flushed, and didn't quite meet his eyes. "I'm sorry about last night, Clark," she choked out in a low voice, "I panicked … I just … "
"Shh, it's okay," he whispered back. "This is me you're talking to. I understand you better than you think."
She looked up then, searching his eyes for reassurance. After a moment, she smiled shakily. "You do, huh?"
"Yep," he nodded. "That's the advantage of dating your best friend. I know all about you, and I lo — like you anyway."
"Clark … " She seemed to be struggling to hold back tears. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me."
He tapped her lightly on her nose and grinned, trying to lighten the moment. "Stick around, kid. It'll get better."
She managed to grin back, and stepped slightly away from him, breaking the embrace with a self-conscious glance around the newsroom. "Oh it will, will it? Well, we'll just see about that, but first," she firmly redirected the conversation, "we have a job to do."
"Right." He followed her lead and got down to business, but inside he was grinning.
Unnoticed across the newsroom, Mayson Drake watched the two of them and felt her heart break. She had really thought she had a chance with Clark … but it seemed he had made his choice. She wondered bitterly how long he would have continued to lead her on, and decided abruptly that she couldn't bear to face either of them at the moment. She turned around and headed for the elevator. She was strong, she didn't need any man, not even Clark. And since her prospective lunch date had collapsed, she could use the time to take her car into the shop, instead. It had been making some funny noises lately; best to get that fixed before something went really wrong.