Tender Conviction

By Natascha Kortum <NataNH@hotmail.com>

Rated: PG

Submitted: December 2001

Summary: Clark volunteers Lois as the keynote speaker for a large event. Will Lois believe enough in herself to face the challenge or will the jitters win out?

For LabRat


"Clark how could you? How could you do this to me? You have got to be kidding. I mean… Oh, my God! I am going to be the laughing stock of Metropolis. This is bad, really bad."

Clark frowned in confusion. Too bad he couldn't get a word, otherwise Lois might have been able to explain just what was so bad.

But he knew better than to interrupt when his wife was in one of her babble modes, lest her wrath would find no end. It was bad enough that it was directed at him in the first place. All he had done was try to help but by the way things looked, his wish to help everybody had gotten him into trouble again.


After one of his super rescues earlier in the day— a small fire at the Center for Disadvantaged Metropolis Teens (CDMT)— he had learned that the people there had been in the process of organizing the final aspects of their annual fundraiser, a noteworthy event that drew most of Metropolis's celebrities. The mayor was scheduled to introduce some of the children, stars showed up with huge donation checks, while others simply enjoyed the food, the music, the company, and the limelight. It was the night to see and be seen in the city.

Unfortunately, the organizers had just had to digest a major setback. They had to cancel their key speaker due to his involvement in a fraud of gigantic scale.

The event was scheduled for the following Friday and it didn't look like they would be able to find a replacement on such short notice. At least, they'd come up short so far on high quality motivational speakers that didn't ask for a small fortune. Superman, noticing the distress and understanding the importance of the occasion, didn't waste any time in suggesting a local celebrity, Metropolis's Lois Lane, for the job. Knowing she would be perfect to instill some hope in the kids and to inspire them, he was certain his wife would jump at the opportunity that was presented to her. After all, bettering the world little by little was what their jobs were all about.

Little could Clark have known that the proposal would set his tornado loose.


Shaking off these thoughts, Clark focused back on his wife, who had not yet stopped to take a breath. Her cheeks were flushed, her gestures erratic, her hair flying, and her eyes…her beautiful brown eyes had a fire in them that left Clark wanting.

"Lois. Lois! Listen to me. I don't know what the problem is. What are you afraid of? And why would you even think about becoming a laughing stock?? Let me show you something." With that Clark pulled Lois in front of the mirror in their hallway. "Look. I know you are the perfect woman for the job. How do I know it? Simply by looking at you. By seeing what you seem unable to recognize: your compassion. You are not only the most passionate but also the most compassionate person one would ever hope to meet. You have a fire in you that others can only envy. Your honesty, your integrity… You have so much to give to these kids and teach them. You have been in their shoes; you know what it feels like to be alone and misunderstood. Show them your accomplishments; share your goals with them, what makes you strive. They will listen to you, as will everybody else. I can promise you, because you care! And they will realize that.

Lois looked up at her husband, tears evident in her eyes, but she managed a small smile. "You know, you are really good at this." Then she turned serious again. "I love you, Clark."

"I love you, Lois."

They gazed into each other's eyes, and as their heads moved closer, all worries were forgotten. Their lips met in a most tender and indulgent kiss.

When they came up for air, and after regaining their equilibrium, Lois once again turned to the issue at hand. "I still can't believe you volunteered me for this. And trust me, this will have severe consequences for you, Mister." She threw him a mischievous look. "You will be glad you are Superman."

Clark merely chuckled. Not too long ago, he would have feared for his life after such a declaration. But married life had mellowed Lois, and nowadays, these "consequences" usually turned into quite enjoyable occasions for both. Clark made a mental note for a romantic evening in the near future. He really should have asked Lois first before volunteering her as a guest speaker he realized, and vowed to make up for it in the best way.

He sobered. "Lois, I am really sorry. It was never my intention to put you in this awkward and obviously uncomfortable situation. All I wanted to do was help. I knew you would be a great motivator for these teenagers," he reiterated. "However, I never stopped to ask how you would feel about it. For that, I apologize." Clark looked at her with his puppy dog eyes that had Lois melting on the spot.

'He is such a boy scout,' Lois thought and smiled. 'But at least he is my boy scout. He believes in me so much. I could never let him down.' Clark, noticing her smile, dared to ask whether she would even consider doing it. "When is the event anyway?" she asked in return.

"Remember that fundraiser Perry wanted us to come along with him next Friday…?"

"Clark! You are not telling me that I am supposed to be speaking at that function!?" The thought alone terrified her. "The Who's Who in society will be there, not to mention every reporter in the city!"

"Umm," was all Clark could stammer.

"If that is the case, I better start preparing myself. I am going back to the Planet. I need to think." With that Lois grabbed her coat and her keys off the coffee table and stormed out the door without another word.

Clark stood in the room dumbfounded, not knowing what had just happened or how to fix it. He sighed and raked his hand through his hair in resignation. He would have to wait for Lois to return in order to make things right.


Meanwhile Lois had gotten into her jeep and taken off, muttering under her breath all the way to the Daily Planet.

"Unbelievable! What made him think I could do this? I can't just get up in front of all those people! Easy for him to say, he does it all the time. But me? I have always hated public speaking. Wait till I tell him the story of how badly I screwed up in my communications class in college. Once he knows that, he will wish he had never recommended me. Har! He will wish he had never known me." That last thought saddened her immensely. Just how would Clark react if she failed him, she wondered.

Without really knowing how she had arrived at the Planet, she pulled into the parking garage, turned the engine off, exited her car, and made her way back to the newsroom. Ignoring the curious glances of the night shift, she headed to her desk and sat down. Her gaze automatically shifted to Clark's desk. Seeing it empty, she finally came to her senses. She blinked and gave a heavy sigh.

After a moment she picked up her phone and called home, hoping Clark would still be there. She needed to apologize and explain to him just why she was so upset. The phone only rang once before her husband picked up.

"Lois?" he asked tentatively, sounding tired and worried.

"Yes, it's me. Listen, Clark. I am really sorry. I made a complete idiot of myself. Sorry for blowing up in your face. It is not your fault. Well, at least not entirely. I got a little scared…" she trailed off.

Clark, relieved to hear she was all right, was quick to reassure her. "Lois, it is going to be okay. You have nothing to worry about."

"No, you don't understand. I have always tried to avoid the limelight. It is so easy to mess up and make a fool of yourself. This could ruin my reputation, everything I have always worked so hard for."

"Nothing could ruin your reputation, honey. You are the best reporter in the city if not the country, and you always will be."

A smile crept into Lois's voice when she replied. "Thank you, Clark. It means the world to me that you have so much confidence in me. I can't believe how stupid it was to run off like I did. I felt threatened by the idea, and since the Planet used to be my comfort zone, where I felt safe…"

Intrigued and curious, Clark probed. "Used to be?"

"Well, yeah. Now I feel the safest and the most comfortable when I am with you," she said softly.

"I love you, honey," was all he could answer.

"I love you, too. Can you pick me up? I suddenly feel like a little star- watching." Lois could hear Clark's grin when he replied.

"Meet you in the alley in two."

With that they both hung up the phone and prepared to leave. Clark, not willing to wait any longer to hold Lois in his arms, spun into his suit and was out the window in no time. Within seconds, he found himself hovering above the Daily Planet, just in time to see the love of his life exit the building. He dropped down and scooped her up.

Neither one said a word until they were well above the clouds, surrounded by stars. Their lips met almost immediately, passion overtaking them both. They kissed wholeheartedly over and over again, neither one letting go of the other. Several minutes later, they pulled apart slightly and sighed happily.

"Can you forgive me?" Lois had to ask. "Only if you can forgive me," Clark answered in a warm and husky voice.

They kissed softly one more time, and Lois cuddled into her partner's arms, enjoying the feel of him, his scent, and the breathtaking view.

It was a beautiful night. After the stress of the past few hours, all Lois wanted to do was to go flying with her "Superman" and to enjoy their time together. Clark, totally tuned in to her every wish, understood the silent plea and was more than happy to obey. He, too, needed some quiet time with his wife. He treasured the fact that life with Lois was never dull; he really did. But some of her challenges took it out of him, and he too needed time to recover. Nonetheless, he loved her for her individuality, her poise, her…everything. To him, she was perfect, simply because she was perfect for him. They shared a rare connection that few people found in their lifetime. Clark was eternally grateful to his birth parents for sending him to Earth, and he cherished every moment he was able to spend with Lois.

When they returned to their brownstone, it was after midnight. Tired, but at ease with themselves and the world, both headed upstairs. While they were brushing their teeth, Clark brought up the dreaded topic one more time.

"You don't have to do this, Lois." He wanted her to understand that he would never push her to do something she was not ready for.

Lois, with her toothbrush still in her mouth, nodded and smiled. She knew Clark would support her no matter what. After all, that was one of the first characteristics of Clark she had fallen in love with. 'He only wants the best for those kids,' she reminded herself again. Sighing inwardly, she accepted the challenge.

After rinsing, she told Clark she would speak at the fundraiser. No words were necessary. Lois knew she had made the right decision when she saw the look on her husband's face. It spoke of pride, happiness, and unconditional love. A love that was reflected in her own eyes. Lois was tempted, but tired as she was, she didn't want to start anything she wouldn't be able to finish.

"You better watch out, buster. You have no idea what you are in for." She smiled at him sweetly and left the bathroom.


A couple of days later, Clark came home late after meeting with a source to find his wife sitting in a pile of papers on the living room floor. "What happened?" he asked, concerned.

She glared at him in complete frustration. "I can't do this! This speech is not going to happen. Ever! I don't know what to say. And even if I did, I wouldn't know how. This is so lame. Did you know you were married to a pathetic writer?" she challenged him, too upset to see the irony in her question. Before giving him time to reply, she went on. "There is no point, no structure. I really suck at this, Clark," she added, almost inaudible to human ears.

Sensing that her frustration had reached a point bordering on depression, Clark quickly sat down beside her and pulled her into his arms. "Relax, honey," he murmured into her hair. "You are a brilliant speaker. Remember Perry's birthday party last year? You held everybody captive in the newsroom by the heartfelt speech you gave! Never before had I heard such a spontaneous, genuine, and moving speech. You took my breath away."

"Really?" Lois looked up and him and for the first time that night met his eyes.

"Really," he reassured her and dropped a kiss on her nose.

Not quite convinced yet, Lois responded, "But that was entirely different. Perry is like family. I've known him for years. It was easy to say how much he means to me, to everybody; and how much we admire his work."

"Granted, you care for him, and that showed. But you also have strong feelings about believing in yourself and reaching for the stars. I've heard you before, when you yelled at someone for giving up without a fight, for believing in what others had to say rather than in them. You can show those teenagers that they are not alone. Tell them how you succeeded even when your own family put you down. Let them know what it is like to stand up for yourself and ask them not to be afraid of it." With this passionate outburst, Clark pulled them both up into a standing position.

"Wow." The word escaped Lois's mouth before she reached up to give Clark an eager kiss.

"You're right!" She gave him one last hug before starting to pick up her mess. "As long as I show them that I care, they will have to listen. They might even learn a thing or two from me. After all, I have been there." Re-energized, she straightened up. "Thank you, sweetheart. You just gave me the ideal angle for my speech. Now if I could just put my thoughts in order…"

"Need some help?"

Lois mulled it over in her head for a couple of seconds before responding. "No," she told him quietly but firmly. "I have to do this on my own. If I am to tell these kids they can do anything, I better start following my own advice.

"Besides you have already helped me more than you think. But thank you for the offer."

"No problem. You know where to find me if you change your mind," Clark teased her. Her only response was a flying pillow, which he of course caught midair before it could hit him in the face.

As Friday drew closer, Lois wavered several times as she was working on and practicing her speech. One night, after a major rewrite she looked longingly at her husband, who was watching a football game on TV, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. In reality, however Clark was well aware of Lois's discomfort. But he knew she didn't really want his help, as much as it looked otherwise and as much as he wanted to be of assistance. He steeled himself to her pleading gaze and decided to only step in if she came right out and asked him.

Of course, that never happened. Lois, stubborn as usual, refused to give in. And she loved him even more for respecting her wishes. Deep down she knew Clark was right, that she could do this alone.


Finally, Friday arrived. Lois and Clark went to work in the morning as usual, avoiding any mention of the evening that lay ahead. After lunch however, Lois started fidgeting in her seat. Clark, still feeling somewhat responsible for putting his wife in the situation she was in, walked over to her desk, grabbing a mug of steaming coffee on the way. Lois looked up, smiling gratefully when he put the cup in front of her.

"You okay?" he asked and started a gentle shoulder massage. She leaned back into his hands, sighing contently.

"Just getting a little nervous," she admitted.

It was bad timing that Clark's super hearing picked up on a bank alarm right at that moment. Not for the first time he cursed his powers silently, as he resigned himself to the fact that he had to leave. "I am sorry, Lois. But I have to go. Bank robbery," he added.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Be careful." Lois turned around to face him when he hesitated. Understanding his wish to be there for her but knowing that he had to leave, she told him she would be fine. "Merely some jitters," she laughed them off.

"Okay. If you're sure…" Clark wasn't fooled, and she knew it. But he had to go. Making up his mind, he planted a quick kiss on Lois's mouth and headed for the stairs.

Lois sighed. She had barely begun to relax her muscles, and now her nerves were tensing up again. Hoping to distract herself for a couple more hours, she got up and went to the morgue for some boring, overdue research.


When she returned to the newsroom some time later, she found a single red rose on her desk with a card. Her face split into a happy grin, as she looked around, trying to locate Clark. He was in Perry's office but met her eyes and winked. Lois picked up the flower and inhaled its wonderful scent before turning her attention to the card that accompanied it. She ripped open the envelope and read the card. Its message was short and simple but exactly what she needed.

Dear Lois, No matter what, I will always love you. Believe in yourself as I do. You will be great! Love Clark. PS. Don't even think you could disappoint me. You could never do that.

"He just knows me so well." A warm feeling cursed through Lois's body that laid her fears to rest. Suddenly, she felt herself enveloped by two strong arms.

"Penny for your thoughts," Clark offered.

Lois shook her head. "I guess I was really obsessing, wasn't I?"

"Only a little. But you have nothing to worry about."

"I am beginning to believe that," Lois answered. "But I better get going. It is getting late, and it will take me a while to get ready for tonight."

"Okay, I'll clean up here and meet you at home. See you there." They kissed and separated.


At six o'clock, Clark still hadn't returned home. In between looking for her earrings and putting the finishing touches on her make-up, Lois turned on the TV, hoping to find out about her husband's whereabouts. Sure enough, there he was, rescuing several scientists from a lab explosion in Silicon Valley. It looked like he had arrived at the scene just in time, and nobody was seriously hurt. Nevertheless, it would take some time to extinguish the fire and eliminate any harmful substances from the air.

Knowing Clark would feel incredibly guilty for not being able to escort her to the fundraiser, Lois decided to return the favor and wrote him a note, telling him how unnecessary that was, before calling a cab.


Clark frowned at his watch when he finally made it home. "Oh no!" Bad enough he hadn't been there to accompany Lois, if he didn't hurry he would also miss her speech! Taking a shower at super speed to rid himself of the chemical, smoky smell that engulfed him, he was dressed in his tux in no time. On his way out the door, he noticed Lois's note by the phone. Curious, Clark hurriedly opened it. The message matched his own from earlier in its simplicity and sweetness.

Dear Clark, Stop obsessing. Don't worry about not being here. I understand! See you there. Love you, Lois.

Clark felt relieved and smiled at the card before rushing out the door. He wanted to be at the CDMT as soon as possible, to see Lois and to wish her good luck before it was time for her to go on stage.


The reception was in full swing by the time Clark arrived. He spotted Lois immediately across the room. She looked stunningly beautiful in her simple, burgundy gown.

Before he could make his way over to her, a woman pulled Lois aside. "She must be one of the organizers," Clark realized when the woman kept motioning his wife to the stage. It didn't look like he would have a chance to wish her good luck after all.

At that moment, Lois looked up and saw him. Her face lit up. 'He made it!' she jubilated internally. She then gestured to the lady and the stage. Clark nodded. Seeing that he understood, she mouthed, "I love you" before disappearing behind the stage.

Clark located Perry and joined him and Alice at their table. The key speaker was announced and Lois was introduced, earning Clark astonished looks. "I had no idea!" Perry turned to him, as everybody in the audience applauded.

Clark only smiled and put a finger to his lips, "I'll explain later." Perry nodded and turned his attention back to the stage, where Lois was at the microphone.

"Good evening, members of the CDMT, supporters, officials, ladies, and gentlemen. I am honored to be here tonight…"


During the course of her speech, Lois led her audience on a roller coaster of emotions. They laughed at her narrations, cried with her when she told them about the many times her parents or others put her down. Her voice never quavered, not even when she recalled the saddest moments of her journey into adulthood. Her passion and conviction were manifest, leaving very few dry eyes in the room.

"And therefore, I advise you one more time: you all are special. You have great potential in you. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

"Yes, it is easier to succeed with a strong network of support behind you. But let me convey this to you: Anyone can reach the top. Nobody can stop you if you really try or if it is something you really want. Also, it is almost more rewarding to make it on your own.

"Don't fear the future. Seize the moment and conquer it. I believe in you!"


When Lois finished, she drew a deep breath and smiled timidly, as thunderous applause broke loose. People jumped to their feet and gave her a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. 'I did it, I really did it!' Lois was very satisfied. She left the stage and found Clark waiting for her.

"Yes, you did it, honey!" He pulled her into a warm hug before picking her up and twirling her around in his arms. "You were fantastic! Absolutely amazing." She beamed down on him.

"Thank you," she replied, a smug expression on her face. "I learned from the best."

They had no time to relish their private encounter for Perry had spotted them. "What in the name of Elvis is going on here?" he bellowed. "Lois, honey. You were amazing!" He pulled her into a hug. "But would you please explain to me why you were up there? And why I didn't know about it?"

Lois and Clark giggled. "It is a long story, Chief."

"Well then, let's celebrate." Perry stopped a waiter and snatched three glasses of champagne from him. "To Lois, as wonderful a writer as a speaker."

"To Lois," Clark echoed.

"To the CDMT," Lois chimed in. They enjoyed their drinks while watching their surroundings. Many people, including the organizers, the mayor, and most of her fellow reporters came over to congratulate Lois on her speech. She accepted gracefully but after a while, the attention became too much for her. Thankfully, the mayor eventually took over the stage to introduce some of the teenagers from the Center.

"Let's get out of here," Lois begged her husband, who was more than willing to oblige. They made their excuses, said good-bye to their friends, and Clark went to get their coats.

When he returned mere minutes later, in addition to Lois's coat, he was also holding a huge bouquet of roses in his hands. "You didn't!" she exclaimed when she saw them.

"Why not?" he smiled at her and gave her kiss. "One rose wouldn't do. You've outdone yourself tonight. I am so proud of you!" He helped her into her coat, handed her the flowers and whispered, "Don't I still have some making up to do?"

Lois grinned. "I think I like where this is going… Let's hurry home, fly boy."


(c) Natascha Kortum, December 2001 No infringement of any copyright held intended.