By Wendy Richards <Wendy@lcfanfic.com> & Kaethel <Kaethel@wanadoo.fr>
Rated PG 13
Submitted November 2002
Summary: Being a reporter involves an ability to act quickly when one's cover needs to be protected. As Lois and Clark are parading as newlyweds in the Honeymoon Suite of the Lexor Hotel, a little performance for the benefit of a maid stirs a longing for each other that they didn't suspect.
Wendy: Yes, it's the Evil-ish Team again; we had so much fun writing Desperate Measures together, leaving each other in evil situations as we wrote, that we decided to do it again. And what can I say, other than that Kaethel is a terrific writing partner and friend. I'm in awe of her talent, and can't wait for her to finish all of those tantalising WIPs on her computer!
Kaethel: I should have known that Wendy wouldn't resist the pull of a not-so-subtle nag. ;) But it works for her, too! The gentle readers don't suspect how many wonderful WIPs are hiding on Wendy's hard drive. <g> It's an honour for me to write with such a talented author, and I was ecstatic when she suggested this second collaboration. As soon as she showed me the first page, I was fascinated with the premise and eager to explore it with the wonderful co-author that she is. :) So here's the result, and we hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!
Many thanks to JoMarch and LabRat for being the ever resourceful and encouraging beta-readers. Thanks also to Meredith Knight for the very helpful suggestions that made us add a series of paragraphs to explore a plot point that she wanted to see more developed. Last but certainly not least, we'd like to thank Carol Malo, who edited this fanfic for the archive. This story was written for our friends Katie and Missy on their birthdays.
All rights to the characters belong to DC Comics and Warner Brothers. No breach of copyright is intended by their use in this work of fiction.
As Clark took her face between his hands and covered her lips with his, he felt an involuntary shuddering sensation run through him. This felt right — just so incredibly *right*.
For just a couple of seconds, he could allow himself to forget that this could never be for real; that when he released her, Lois would probably slap his face and treat him like the lowest form of life for the rest of the evening.
Still, he had his excuse, as she'd find out very soon. His special abilities had alerted him to the fact that they were about to be interrupted by the maid, and he'd had to do something, fast, to hide their equipment and to live up to their cover as honeymooners. A passionate kiss, their bodies full-length on the bed, had seemed the obvious solution.
Besides which, Lois herself had told him, on a previous occasion when preserving their cover had been all- important, that he should have pretended a moment of uncontrollable passion. She could hardly complain that he'd taken her advice, could she? Or so he'd point out to her, anyway, when she threw the Mad Dog-like tantrum which he no doubt had coming to him.
For now, though, he could surrender himself to the incredible feeling of kissing Lois, touching her, feeling her body next to his, feeling her, unbelievably, kissing him back… for the precious few seconds he had before the maid would interrupt them.
"More towels, ja?"
The German-accented voice of the maid broke through Lois's dazed consciousness, and she pushed at Clark in shocked reaction. At the same moment, he rolled away from her a little, turning to look in apparent surprise at the woman standing just inside the door.
And yet Clark couldn't have been surprised by her entrance — it had to be the reason he'd kissed her. She couldn't think of any other reason why her partner would have turned caveman all of a sudden, grabbing her and practically throwing her on the bed and dropping his own body down beside her, almost on top of her. And then covering her mouth with his…
At first, she'd been too shocked to do anything other than freeze beneath him. But then the surprisingly gentle pressure of his lips against hers had made her catch her breath and…
And she'd kissed him back. Had been kissing him back still when the sound of the maid's entrance had penetrated her hazy brain and the penny had dropped.
It had been a clever move by Clark, all right, she acknowledged as the woman left her towels and headed for the door again. Very quick-thinking, and the perfect thing to emphasise their cover. Her partner was a better actor than she'd thought… that kiss had felt *real*.
Some part of her had wanted it to be real…
And now she was feeling… cheated?
The slam of the door brought her gaze back to Clark, who was still lying propped up on his side beside her, facing her. He was watching her, and the look in his eyes was wary, as if he was worried about what she might say. And yet behind the wariness was something else… something she'd thought she'd seen in her partner's eyes once before. Something which told her that the kiss hadn't entirely been an act on Clark's part…
And, watching the way his beautiful brown eyes were regarding her, the way they had darkened with suppressed desire, Lois felt another shudder run through her. Mesmerised by his gaze, she realised that she wanted him to kiss her again, this time for real…
She wasn't mad at him… in fact, she was looking at him as if she was stunned, and there was a vulnerable look in her eyes which made his heart turn over. Clark had known that his coolly efficient partner had a vulnerable side, but seeing it laid bare like this, and in these circumstances, made him want to enfold her in his arms and tell her how much he loved her.
Then her expression changed, and their gazes met and held as what felt like an electrical charge went through both of them, connecting them to each other.
Slowly, holding his breath as he did so, Clark lowered his head again until his lips covered hers.
This time, his kiss was less tentative, and she responded instantly, her lips softening under his and her body shifting to allow him to get closer to her. He slid one hand along her jaw and into her hair, and simultaneously her hand came to rest across his back. Then her lips parted beneath his, and his body jerked as he felt her tongue stroke lightly along the corner of his mouth.
"Oh, Lois…" he groaned, deepening the kiss as a wave of pure desire flowed through him.
She was utterly lost, swept away on a wave of sensual yearning which was completely alien to her. Who would have thought that *Clark*, her country boy, goody-two-shoes partner, could evoke such passion in her? Who would have thought that he knew how to kiss so skillfully?
But he did. His lips teased and taunted hers; his tongue traced the outline of her lips and tantalised her until he allowed it to surge forward, exploring her mouth with it. His hands curved around her shoulders, then one slid up and caressed her face, her hair, telling her without words how beautiful he found her.
His kiss wasn't hurried or demanding; instead, he took the time to explore her tenderly, with infinite sweetness. The movements of his hands were languid, brushing slow circles against her back as she pressed herself against him, holding her but always careful to grant her an escape if she wanted to pull away.
And, she realised with a small start, she didn't want to end the moment, to shove her partner away and accuse him of taking advantage of her, of pushing the pretence too far. Oh yes, she wanted this, she wanted to feel his lips plunder hers relentlessly, pulling her into a world of bliss and insouciance, she wanted -
A startled gasp escaped her as he rolled them over, but the strangled sound was swallowed in another kiss, his lips assaulting her with increasing passion. His strong body was pinning her to the mattress and the sensation was incredible. His groan of her name had filled her with a thrilling sense of power but, much to her amazement, being trapped beneath him didn't make her feel threatened or at his mercy. On the contrary, she willingly surrendered to his touch with breathless sighs of pleasure, arching her back as much as to lighten the tortuous path of his hands as to feel closer to him. He seemed attuned to her reactions, intensifying his kisses in response to the desire burning under her skin.
She reached up to knock the glasses off his face and was surprised when he pulled away, his brown eyes looking down at her, lost and vulnerable. God… he was gorgeous. How come she'd never noticed before how attractive he was? How the gentleness reflected in the depth of his eyes was a trap she could fall into…
Oh yes, she wanted him. She had no idea where the incongruous thought had come from, and frankly, she didn't care. All that mattered right now was that he was in her arms, gazing at her as if she was the most precious gift in the universe, making her feel more special than any man had before.
Her fingers cupped his cheek; her smile silently reassured him. Then she reached up again, closing her lips over his and losing herself in a pool of sweetness.
Slowly, almost timidly, her hands began exploring the breadth of his back where taut muscles flexed under her touch. Encouraged by his reactions, she pulled his shirt out of his slacks, seeking the warmth of his skin and shivering when she found it. Soon, though, it wasn't enough, and even as Clark seemed satisfied with chaste caresses, carefully skirting around any controversial… advance in their current business, she needed more, and therefore got practical.
Her hands slid between their clasped bodies, fumbling with the buttons of his shirt. A flicker of surprise passed through her when they gave way without much effort on her part, as if tugging the sides apart was more than enough to open the garment, but the thought was quickly forgotten as his chest got exposed to her searching fingers. Deciding this needed further and more thorough exploration, she wrapped her arms around his waist and pushed him until they rolled together on their side.
An ominous crack and mild curse from her partner temporarily pulled her out of the intense need raging within her, but a shove of Clark's arm pushed the surveillance equipment off the bed, its fall softened by the blanket still wrapped around it. Perry wouldn't be happy about this, she mused idly, the idea sounding completely irrelevant to her when her partner's kisses were driving her insane. He'd probably ask for a… oh… god… he was so good… at this… explanation, but right now… oh… Clark… he wasn't here and…
Her train of thought died, incoherent desire coiling in the pit of her belly as Clark smothered her throat with open- mouthed kisses, his questing fingers deftly working their way down the buttons of her shirt, his lips immediately covering the bare skin he exposed.
And suddenly, she knew with a certainty that baffled her that she wanted to go all the way with him, that she wanted Clark to make love to her, that there would be no hesitation, no regret. Never any regret.
<What about your budding friendship?>
Friendship… how could she have fooled herself into believing they could become friends? They'd never be friends. Not when he was pressing delicate and hungry kisses, circling her navel with his tongue and… oooh… friends? Oh… no, not friends. Definitely not friends. Not after… this.
Whatever happened, they'd deal with it. She'd deal with it. It wasn't important right now; nothing was important but the hands roaming every inch of her body, and the arms holding her close, making her feel strangely safe.
Her breath was coming in short gasps, his name half-forming on her lips, and she drew him back to eye-level for another kiss that felt more soothing than responding to her frenzied need. She splayed her hand across his bare chest, pushing him onto his back, certain that the new position would allow her to loom over him and grant her more freedom of movement.
But something beyond the increasing tug of her arousal made her look up into his face. His chest rose and fell beneath her hand, his heart beating fast against her palm, and although his expression was relaxed, there was a flicker of concern shining in his eyes, and a question reflected in their depth.
This was her Clark all right, careful not to push her beyond what she was ready for. She was certain that if she asked him to stop, he wouldn't resent her. He'd probably be content to wrap his arms around her and hold her all night. In the short time she'd known him, his patience and understanding were things she'd quickly discovered and come to appreciate, and he seemed to be just as wonderful now that they'd stepped over… well… quite a line.
He hadn't changed. She was half-naked in his arms, on her way to… oh god, to make love with him. But he was still good old Clark. The realisation brought a lump to her throat, and she locked her eyes with his, nodding slowly in a silent answer to his request.
Oh yes, she was sure. She *wanted* to do this. To spend the night in his arms, to feel his lips devour hers and surrender to the sensations he evoked in her. And yes, she wanted him to make love to her. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that she had to seize this one moment. It was a now or never kind of time, and she was certain that she'd regret it forever if she let it go. If she let *him* go.
She'd care about tomorrow some other time.
Her decision firmly set, she undid the last buttons of her shirt and shrugged it off her shoulders, letting it fall in a pool behind her, and she reached for her lover.
Lois was beautiful. Just simply the most perfect woman he had ever seen. She was gorgeous. And he was kissing her.
More than kissing her; he was touching her, caressing her, sliding his body against hers, feeling every inch of her beautiful frame against him. And she was with him every step of the way — she was encouraging him to kiss and caress and undress her.
Lois wanted him… and he wanted her. Oh, so badly…
He'd had girlfriends before, but had never felt desire like this; never before felt himself on fire with passion; never felt such heat and molten need flowing through him.
This was wrong. He shouldn't be… oh, but when she touched him like that, and put her lips just *there*, and… and…
He moaned her name aloud over and over, until his words were swallowed by her fervent kisses.
Later, much later, when the fervour of their lovemaking subsided, she lay in his arms, grateful for the soothing movements of his hand against her back as her breathing slowly returned to normal, the wild rhythm of her heart against her breasts mingling with his. Silence settled over the room, swallowing the moans of pleasure and whispered words of passion they'd exchanged, and she allowed her body to relax against his.
God… who'd have thought… If anyone had told her this morning that that mild-mannered partner of hers had it in him to stir such desire and soothe it so skillfully, she'd never have believed it. But here she was, stretching muscles that were sore from exertion and breathing in his soft scent as they both cooled down.
He groped for her hand, entwining his fingers with hers. The gesture was so natural, and yet it felt like the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for her. Not that any of the men in her life had ever hung around long enough to cuddle with her after they got what they wanted from her, but Clark… Clark was so different.
Clark was just the kind to hold her hand like this, as if threading his fingers with hers was just as much an act of lovemaking as their earlier activities. His thumb rhythmically brushed against her palm, reassuring her that he was here, that he would always stay by her side if she wanted him to. For some reason, she couldn't see him ever betraying her, and whatever happened between them from this point on, she knew he would never hurt her.
The knowledge filled her with tenderness for her lover — her lover… the word sent shivers up her spine, and she snuggled up closer, sighing contentedly when he dropped a kiss against her hair.
His soft voice warmed her insides, and she nodded imperceptibly, amazed at how good it felt to lie in his arms, feel his fingers graze the small of her back in soothing motions. He shifted a little, grabbing the pale, silken sheet from where it had been kicked at the foot of the bed, and tucked it back over them, enveloping them in a haven of warmth.
A few seconds later, rocked by Clark's now quiet heartbeat, she fell into a blissful sleep.
Clark lay awake as Lois slept in his arms, his brain whirling.
He'd *made love* with Lois. It was his dearest wish, his fondest dream, come true. Okay, it hadn't happened the way he'd imagined, dreamed about, since meeting her: in his fantasies, they'd dated, then fallen in love; he'd asked her to marry him, and then, when they were engaged, maybe they would have made love for the first time.
This, though, had happened without any forethought on either of their parts; it had come completely out of the blue. There had been little suspicion of anything even remotely resembling something sexual between them until just an hour ago — well, unless he counted the fact that he'd been in love with Lois for months. And, of course, he reminded himself, there had been the pheromone incident just a couple of weeks ago, when Lois had been all over him, pleading with him to take her.
Of course he hadn't; although he'd been tempted, he'd known only too well that she wasn't really interested in Clark Kent. She'd been under the influence of drugs, that was all; to have taken advantage of her under those circumstances would have been despicable.
This had been different. Without a drug or pheromone in sight, Lois had turned his faux-kiss into a real one, and made it very clear that she wanted him.
And it had been the most blissful experience of his life.
Naturally, though, his conscience was starting to give him a hard time now. Yes, he knew that he shouldn't have allowed himself to get carried away like that. But it wasn't as if he'd taken advantage of Lois, was it? She'd encouraged him every step of the way, and had made clear that she didn't want to stop when he'd hesitated. And, in the end, it had been Lois who'd taken the final step to make them lovers in the fullest sense.
But he hadn't used protection; he'd put her at risk, then, hadn't he? Though that, he mused, depended on whether it was actually possible for him, an alien from another planet, to impregnate an Earth woman. Surely the chances of that happening would have to be slim to none?
The most pressing concern his conscience was throwing at him, though, was that he'd done something which he'd always vowed never to do: indulge in casual sex. But was it really like that? Clark couldn't envisage that Lois would see it that way; he knew his partner, and he was well aware of the unpleasantness in her past history with men. There was no way that Lois would calmly — or even in the heat of passion — have a one-night stand. She might not have considered a relationship with him before now — although how did he know that in the aftermath of the pheromone she hadn't re- evaluated the way she thought about her partner? — but now that they'd made love, and especially given the way she'd responded so magically to him, he felt almost certain that she'd want more.
Just what form 'more' would take, Clark wasn't sure; but he was determined to make it clear to Lois, just as soon as he could, that he wanted a relationship with her. He didn't want her thinking that *he* just considered this a one- night stand.
And there was one other consequence. If they were going to have a relationship, and given that they were already intimate, there was a certain secret which he needed to think seriously about letting Lois in on. It was time she knew, and it would be so wonderful to have someone else, someone special, he could confide in.
He glanced down at his sleeping partner, and love, once more. She looked so beautiful in repose, her tousled hair spread out over his arm and her eyes closed. Her lips twitched once or twice as she breathed softly, and he could feel her breath against his chest. It was going to be wonderful to go to sleep and know that he would wake up with her still in his arms.
But a nagging thought was driving into his mind. The surveillance operation. The reason they were at the hotel in the first place! Very gently and carefully, he lowered Lois to the mattress and slid out of bed; reassembling the — fortunately undamaged — equipment at Super-speed, he pointed it at the office opposite and set it to record. At least if there was any activity overnight, they'd be able to see it in the morning.
Seconds later, he slid back under the covers next to Lois, gently tugging her back into his arms, and settled himself for sleep.
There was something strangely soothing about waking up in a man's arms; the reassuring hold of his strong arms pulling her close, the warmth of his skin against her cheek, his soft breathing as he peacefully slept, unaware of anything in the world but the woman next to him, or as the case currently was, *on* him.
Lois opened a wary eye, blinking against the light of the morning sun drowning the room in a glow of ember.
She felt… good.
In fact, she felt more than good.
Her muscles were a bit sore from the strain she'd put on them last night, and she fought the urge to stretch in a cat-like move. Being sprawled on Clark's body was much too comfortable for her to move just yet. A sultry smile broke on her face as memories of the previous night flooded her mind, and she shifted to place a soft kiss on her lover's chest.
Oh god… what had she done?
<Slept with your rookie of a partner…>
She almost let out a low whine, catching herself in time before she woke him. Bringing Clark back to awareness wasn't a good idea right now. It wasn't a good idea at all. It meant she would have to face him and the different way he would look at her from now on. They all changed once you gave yourself to them; there was something in human male genes that made even the best of them become complete morons once they'd obtained what they all pursued. Even decent guys like Clark couldn't escape the rule.
The awe and admiration that secretly flattered her would be replaced with contempt and a superiority complex because he'd seen her naked. And she didn't mean 'naked' in just a physical way, but last night, she'd bared herself to him in more ways than she'd ever had. None of her previous lovers had elicited such a response from her entire being, and while it had seemed wonderful at the time, the cold morning light made it much too frightening to contemplate.
Clark wasn't that much of a rookie anyway… and he would certainly not keep the pretence now that he'd had sex with her. And… he certainly didn't behave like one in… good Lord… in bed.
The whine turned into a blissful sigh, and she wrapped her arm a little tighter around his chest. She didn't recall any of her previous experiences being so… so amazing. Not that she'd known many men in such an intimate way, but Clark… Clark surpassed anything she'd ever dreamt of.
<Get down to earth, girl, he's just a man… another one, just like the rest of them…>
She ignored the warning, pushing away all cynical thoughts that dared to intrude into her happiness. She wouldn't let anything cloud this moment. Everything in her world felt right; in fact, it was as if she was floating on a fluffy mattress of warm air, held by nothing but her lover's arms and…
She blinked and frowned, her feelings suddenly too real to be ignored. Something wasn't quite right here. Being invaded by the bliss that came with the afterglow of lovemaking was one thing; realising that the floating sensation wasn't *just* a sensation was…
She let one of her legs slide off Clark's solid thighs, afraid that the truth she dreaded might be confirmed. Her toes groped for the mattress and found it… a foot below her.
Now fully awake, she scrambled off the body floating — oh god, he was really *floating* — beneath her and jumped to her feet. She didn't turn around and ran to the bathroom, locked the door, and slid against the wall until she was sitting on the floor of cold tiles, hugging her knees to her chest and releasing tears she couldn't hold back any more.
Clark woke with a start and immediately sensed that something was wrong, as if he'd fallen from the bed with a hard thump. His hands spread on his sides, groping for the soft material of the mattress under him, and he blinked, confused. Nope, something was not quite right, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
Fuzzy memories cascaded into his mind and he shook them off, dismissing them instantly.
He'd been so certain that he was holding Lois in his arms, that finally, after months of hoping against all hope that she might feel the same way about him as he did about her, she'd given her heart to him, but he was waking up alone and disoriented.
Had it all been a dream, albeit a wonderful one? But no, the rumpled sheets and discarded clothing scattered on the floor around the bed testified that what he'd thought had happened… had indeed happened.
He'd made love with Lois Lane.
Oh god, he'd made love with Lois Lane!
He sat up instantly, a broad smile spreading on his face as the marvellous, blissful, tender, wild, and oh-so-romantic moments he'd shared with Lois poured images of pure happiness into his mind. It had been… so unexpected. So wonderful. So perfect.
Except her absence from his side right now. Somehow, in his numerous fantasies, making love to Lois would be followed by a tender morning in each other's arms, interspersed with soft kisses and murmurs of love, along with promises of a future together.
Where had she gone? Her clothes were still on the floor, where they'd been carelessly thrown earlier in the heat of the moment, and there was no sound coming from anywhere in the suite…
His senses quickly located her heartbeat, and he frowned at its wild rhythm. His super-hearing switched on almost on its own, but he could barely believe what he heard. Scrambling off the bed in less than a second, he sped to the bathroom and halted right in front of the door, dead in his tracks.
She was… she was crying. He'd been lying in bed, reviewing the most intense experience of his life and grinning like a fool, while the woman he loved had run to the safest haven she could find to cry herself out.
Oh god… What had he done?
He hadn't forced her! She'd responded to his kisses, to his touch; in fact, she'd taken the lead on more than one occasion, reaching for the next step when he expressed a silent hesitation. Could it be that she regretted what had happened between them? Had it just been a spur-of-the- moment thing, something that would hang over his head for the rest of his life?
If they went back to being friends now, how could he survive through the day? Loving Lois from a distance had been barely tolerable until last night, but now that he'd tasted a droplet of paradise in her arms, how was he supposed to erase those few hours from his memory, to forget the soft words she'd whispered in his ear in the most intimate moments, to ignore the silky feel of her skin against his and the rustling sound of the sheets sliding around their entwined bodies?
The answer was simple enough. He couldn't.
He tapped on the bathroom door.
Oh god, he was here. Just a few inches away, behind the door… a door she'd closed without realising how little an obstacle it represented for him. He could probably knock it down in a heartbeat, without her consent, and…
What was she thinking? Clark wouldn't force her into anything; if she made it clear she didn't want to see him ever again, he'd respect her wish and… unless…
She sighed, frustration welling up in her as contradictory arguments collided in her mind. She had no idea who he was any more, let alone what he would do right now. The familiar sensation of deceit was back, taunting her with warnings she'd tried to ignore as she'd come back to consciousness in his arms.
She had wanted to believe that he was different from her previous lovers, that what she'd given to him wouldn't change the way he behaved around her, but it was worse. He'd done worse. He'd betrayed her even before she became intimate with him, hiding a major part of himself every time he saw her, and that in either guise.
How was she supposed to act around him now? She hadn't a clue what she was going to say to him, how she was even going to face him now that she knew. Now that she'd made a total fool of herself, and she hadn't even known who she was doing it with.
Who *had* she been doing it with?
She'd thought that she was making love with Clark Kent. And that had been scary enough on its own, once she'd woken up and realised the implications of it all. But Clark… well, she knew Clark, and she was pretty sure that he was about as decent as it was possible for any man to be, even if that wasn't saying a lot.
But was he Clark? Who… or what… was he? He'd been *floating*, for heaven's sake!
How could he possibly have been floating? Was it a trick of some sort? Was he into transcendental meditation or something?
Her mouth twisted. She knew exactly who he was; there was no point in trying to kid herself about it. Clark Superman Kent had been playing her for a fool for six months, and now he'd finally let his secret slip. He was no doubt petrified now that she was going to splash the news on the front page of the Daily Planet. Which was exactly what she should do…
Except she wouldn't. Probably wouldn't, anyway. No, she wouldn't, she decided immediately. There was no way she could deceive Clark so cruelly. Concealing his secret from her didn't deserve such a drastic punishment, one that would ruin his life forever… and probably hers as well.
There was another knock, and she eyed the door with a sigh. In the short time she'd known him, she'd discovered that Clark could be almost as stubborn as she was. Surely he wouldn't leave her until they talked; he would want to know what she knew and what she intended to do with the information.
<He'll want to know if you're okay, too.>
Yeah. Probably, she admitted grudgingly.
"Lois? Lois, are you okay?"
<See? Told you so!>
All right. He sounded concerned. It didn't make up for the lies, though, and she pulled a face, ignoring him.
<Go away. Just go away> she repeated silently to herself. Then she heard a faint noise, and looked up to see the handle moving.
For a split second, she feared that the door would give under the pressure of his hand, but it vainly clicked and remained safely shut. She held back a sigh of relief that turned into a gasp when he called her name again, his voice so soft and caring, reminding her of the tender moments they'd shared a few hours earlier.
How could she ignore what they'd shared? How could she ignore *him*? Come to think of it, how could she let him go without an explanation? Not only was it unfair to him — although she could live with that — but she was granting him an escape here. A way out without a fight that he thoroughly deserved.
She rose to her feet and reached for the key with a trembling hand. Once she unlocked the door, there would be no ambiguity about her attitude. She couldn't tell Clark she didn't want to talk to him, and she'd have to go through a conversation that would be painful, no doubt.
He'd gone silent and, for a second, she wondered if he'd left. But she could still feel his presence; she could picture him on the other side of the door, holding his breath as he waited for her to make a move. She knew that as soon as she opened, his gentle gaze would rest on her, and she wasn't sure she could resist the pull of her desire. She might be angry, but it didn't erase the memories of the previous night and how much she wanted to relive those blissful moments with him, no matter how much he deserved the cold shoulder right now.
Her stance stiffened as she braced herself for the encounter, then she finally unlocked the door. The clicking sound of the key couldn't be missed, and she expected to see Clark's face any secon…
Oh god… he was coming in! And she was stark naked! She couldn't face him naked! Not now! There was a robe hanging on the back of the door. In one swift movement, she'd grabbed it and pulled it around her, and was standing fastening the belt when Clark — or Superman, or whoever he was — came in.
"Lois, are you — " He broke off abruptly as he came face to face with her; she wasn't sure what he'd expected to see, but it clearly wasn't his partner on her feet and giving him a belligerent stare. Okay, she was pretty sure that her face was still blotchy from the tears, but she didn't care. And if he *dared* imply that she'd been crying…
"Yes?" she said bluntly.
"I… I was worried about you," he began awkwardly. "I thought I heard…"
"Yes?" Her tone would have frozen ordinary mortals; it probably had no effect at all on Superman, she thought cynically.
"I… uh…" He stood, half-in and half-out of the bathroom, looking distinctly awkward. And he was also, she noticed at last, distinctly naked.
Naked. And very attractive. No, not just attractive; wildly, incredibly gorgeous. Even better than she'd realised — but then, they'd been so busy ripping each other's clothes off that she hadn't had a lot of time to admire his physique.
He was a god. A god in a cape, Cat had called him not long after his arrival, and she'd been right. But, stupidly, Lois had never seen that he was also a god in a business suit and horn-rims.
A *deceitful* god in a suit and horn-rims!
And he might be naked, but he'd taken the time to put on his glasses, she noted scathingly.
Not wanting to let him see how the sight of him without clothes affected her, she growled at him, "At least have the decency to get some clothes on!"
He blushed. And her jaw dropped. He actually *blushed*. Then he grabbed a towel from the rail and wrapped it around his waist. Then he looked up, meeting her gaze with a firm, yet concerned look.
"Lois, *are* you okay?" he asked, in a tone of voice she knew well. This was Clark at his most solicitous, exactly the way he'd spoken to her when she'd told him about Claude and her fear that no-one respected her, and about her father's attitude when she'd been growing up. *Darn* him for being her kind partner right at that precise second, when she wanted to be able to hate him for being deceitful!
Unwanted tears welled up in her eyes again, and she blinked, looking away and willing him to leave; to go anywhere, just as long as he left her alone. Why couldn't he get a call for help or something?
"Lois, is it that… I mean, do you regret what we did?" he asked, running one hand through his rumpled hair. He sounded as if he actually *cared*… was that possible?
"What if I do?" she threw at him, making her voice sound casual.
He grimaced. "I'd be sorry," he said heavily. "Not just because I don't, but… because I didn't want it to end like this, Lois. I… I'd give anything not to hurt you!"
"Well, it's a bit late for that!" she gulped out, shocking herself. She'd never intended to let him see how much he'd hurt her…
"Lois… ah, no, Lois…" Suddenly he was in front of her, his arms were around her and she was sobbing into his hard, naked chest. "Lois, don't cry! It'll be okay, I promise… we can pretend it never happened…"
"Oh yeah?" she muttered on another sob. "You think I can forget you *floated*, Superman?"
Had she just called him Superman?
And… and she'd said he'd floated. No, she'd said she'd *seen* him float.
His mouth opened but no word came out, and right now he was thankful for his speechlessness. His first instinct had been to deny it, to tell her she'd imagined this, hadn't been fully awake or whatever. Talk about making things worse! And didn't she deserve to know?
Last night, lost in the feel of her arms, drowned in the pull of her eyes as she breathlessly sobbed his name, she'd given herself to him completely, with no reservation, and a faith that he'd never thought possible. Last night, she'd lain bare in front of him, showing him how much she trusted him, how much she wanted to share everything with him.
She hadn't spoken the three magic words, but what they'd done meant so much more than 'I love you's. That it had been an impulsive thing, only driven by pure instinct and raw need, was irrelevant. The consequences were the same, weren't they?
They'd made love. She'd let him make love to her, and their souls had become one in those too short moments of bliss. What was his secret compared with what they'd shared? What gave him the right to put it on top of everything else, including his love for this woman, and the pain now reflecting in her gaze as she held a challenging stance and tried her best not to show how much he'd hurt her?
For he'd hurt her. It was so obvious, and even if he hadn't heard her muffled crying from the other side of the bathroom door, her blotchy eyes and the red stains on her cheeks would have been as much of a clue to the depths of her pain.
The dream had turned into a nightmare.
He took a step towards her, wincing as she flinched away. She couldn't bear to be near him any more. Was it… could it be because of what he was? Could she be disgusted to have made love with him because he wasn't human?
<She didn't seemed to mind when she kissed Superman so thoroughly last week.>
But it was different! Kissing was one thing but this, *this* was big! And he was completely irresponsible, too. Why hadn't he thought of the consequences of his actions? Why hadn't it occurred to him that his being an alien could be dangerous to Lois in the course of intimacy? He looked so much like a man that it was easy to forget he wasn't one, but in truth, he had no idea how his body worked or what it could do to her.
And what if he'd completely lost control?
Correction: he *had* completely lost control. After all, it was what lovemaking was all about, and their moments together had been so passionate that he'd let go of his entire self. His extraordinary strength was all about control, and he'd let it slip away without a second thought, just for the sake of a few seconds of paradise.
No wonder Lois suddenly seemed scared. No wonder she didn't want him to touch her any more.
"I'm sorry," he said lamely, knowing he couldn't possibly make it up to her. "I didn't think."
"You bet you didn't! You were too busy doing… whatever."
"It just never occurred to me before."
"Oh yeah? It never *occurred* to you? So you thought you could just… do this to me and get away with it? I thought you cared, Clark! I thought you honestly *cared* about me!" Her voice broke, and the sight of tears spilling on her cheeks tore at his heart.
He wished he could take her in his arms and take the pain away, but she probably wanted him as far from her as possible right now. He couldn't even blame her.
"I do care. More than I could say. Lois, I know you probably don't want to hear that now, but I —"
"Then *don't* say it! You're right, I don't want to hear it."
"And stop apologising as if it was going to save your soul. I couldn't care less about how sorry you are. Not only were you coward enough not to tell me anything before we got… *there*, but you have the guts to say it never even occurred to you before?"
Her words flayed him, and he had to swallow before he could reply.
"Lois, look at me! I'm… all right, I'm not *human*, but I look pretty much like one. I mean even you couldn't see the difference and well, it's so difficult to think of myself as an… alien. Especially when I'm with you."
Lois frowned and put her hands on her hips in a typically challenging manner. "So you're basically saying it's my fault?"
"No! No, it's *my* fault, of course! It's just… Lois, even when I'm with you as Superman, I don't feel different. I don't feel *out* of this world. You make me feel like I belong." His voice softened as the intensity of his love for her resurfaced. "With you."
Lois didn't seem impressed, though. In fact, the more he spoke, the angrier she looked. "Stop the romantic crap, Clark. You didn't think I'd want to *know*?"
"I realise it was crazy to make love before you knew. I was the one who had to make sure it was safe first."
"I never wanted to put you in any kind of danger, I swear!"
She blinked, now looking extremely confused, as if taken aback by his words. "What do you mean, danger? What danger?"
"Well… me being an alien and everything, who knows what it could do and —"
She rolled her eyes. "Clark, what the heck are you talking about?"
Weren't they talking about the same thing? Wasn't she scared of his not being a human being? The realisation lifted a huge weight off his shoulders, and he fought the urge to breathe in relief. Now wasn't the time to revel in a small reassurance.
What mattered was what Lois was so worked up about. And if it wasn't his being alien, it could only be…
"Geez, Clark, why would I care about you being from another planet?" She sighed, ran a hand through her hair and started pacing up and down the bathroom.
"I just *can't* believe you wouldn't *tell* me you were Superman, that's all! Although 'that's all' isn't exactly the right term." She rolled her eyes. "All? The most amazing man I have ever seen in my life — the most perfect, incredible, heroic man — and he's you all along? I've been working beside you for *months*, Clark, and you never said a word! And tonight… tonight…" Suddenly she broke off, spinning away from him again, and he was positive that she was on the verge of tears once more.
"Lois." His own pain forgotten as he focused on hers, he hurried to her, daring to lay a hand on her shoulder. "Talk to me. What is it? What's made you cry? Is it… I thought it was because you hated the thought of… of making love with an alien…?"
An alien. For the first time since he'd encountered Jason Trask, Clark had felt as if he was repugnant, an outcast — simply because of his birthplace. And it hurt so much more when it was someone he cared about — someone he *loved* — making him feel that way.
But he was confused. Did she or didn't she have a problem with who he was?
"I'm *not* crying!" she muttered, completely untruthfully, from what Clark could tell.
"Lois…" he attempted, but she shook her head.
"Don't, Clark. Just… don't."
She couldn't deal with his concern for her right now — not when she was so confused herself. Clark was *Superman*? She'd just made love to her hero, Superman, and she hadn't known it!
In her deepest fantasies, she had often dreamed of making love with Superman. But he'd always been the strong, powerful and supremely confident Superhero on those occasions: kind, gentle and loving, but at the same time very much the instigator and in control of what was happening. She was the supplicant and he the gracious hero on a pedestal who was doing her the favour of making her worthy of his attention.
Clark hadn't been like that — not one bit. He'd been gentle, tentative, careful to make sure that she was willing every step of the way. And, now that she was making herself think rationally about it, she'd known that she could stop him at any time she wanted. She'd been completely in control, even when he'd been taking the initiative.
That was exactly the way she would have expected Clark to make love. But not Superman.
And yet Clark was Superman.
An alien -
Wait a minute! Alien? She'd never used that word to describe Superman!
So who had…?
Clark. His words suddenly filtered through to her consciousness. "… thought… you hated the thought of… of making love with an alien…"
Did he really think that? Had she really given him that impression…?
Her anger and hurt forgotten, she spun around and stared at him. He gazed back at her, biting his lip and an expression of dismay and sadness in his eyes. He looked as if he was afraid that she was going to reject him. And didn't he have a point? her conscience screamed at her. Hadn't she just told him, more or less, to leave her alone?
"Clark…" she began awkwardly, unsure of how to get through to him, how to make him see that she'd never even for a second thought what he'd imagined. That she might be angry and hurt about his deception, but she wasn't prejudiced, or anything like it. That she… oh god, that she cared about him.
"Yeah?" His voice barely rose above a flat whisper; he sounded as if he was dreading whatever she was about to say to him.
"I *don't* think of you as an alien!" she blurted out. "I never have! How could you think that of me?"
"But that's what I am," he said quietly, his gaze directed somewhere at his feet. "You know that now. And you're upset that I didn't tell you before we…"
"I'm upset that you didn't tell me something that important about you! About *us*!" she added quickly. "Because it is about us, Clark! You know that Superman's always been special to me. You know how I… how I feel about him. And I would've liked to know who I was with. That's all I meant!"
His head shot up, and he looked straight at her out of eyes which now flashed with brown fire. "You were with *me*, Lois. *Me*. Clark Kent."
Okay. So he was sensitive about his identity, Lois realised. He wanted to be thought of as Clark. But why, when Superman was so… just so amazing in every way?
But Clark was the man, she realised; the normal guy who fitted in, who everyone clapped on the back and joked with and invited to the ball game. No-one did that with Superman. Maybe that was part of it?
Or maybe… oh god, maybe it was that he hated the idea that people — no, that *she* was only interested in him for his powers?
And had that even been far from the truth?
Sighing inwardly, Lois admitted that she had a long way to go to convince Clark that his being Superman wasn't important to her. He probably believed that she would never have looked twice at him if it hadn't been for the way things had happened between them that evening. But the fact remained that they *had* made love. And it had been special — so very special. He had to believe that she'd made love with him then because she wanted to. She'd made love with *Clark*!
But as well as that, there was a major flaw in his logic, and perhaps attacking that would be the best way of getting through to him. "Clark?"
"You say I was with Clark tonight. But Clark doesn't float, does he?"
"It's not like that. I don't morph into Superman when I put on the suit," he explained, completely missing her point. "I've had to deal with the powers all my life, or almost. I mean, I started getting stronger than human kids when I was three, and then the gap kept growing."
"So the powers belong to Clark," she tried again.
He frowned and stopped his technical explanation. Had he finally noticed that she was going somewhere with her question?
"Clark, I want to know one thing. Why didn't you tell me before? I thought we were friends, that you trusted me…"
A light of recognition sparked in his eyes before he replied. "So this is what you're upset about?"
"Of course it is! You have to admit it's a pretty big thing to discover that your lover is a part-time superhero! Let alone one you've been chasing around."
She'd been making a fool of herself, acting like the awe- struck groupie whenever Superman showed any kind of interest in her, and insulting Clark Kent all along. She had been so engrossed in her attraction towards the unattainable superhero that she'd completely missed the resemblance between the object of her attentions and her shy partner.
Why did he sound so surprised that it was what bothered her? He seemed quite obsessed with his being an alien, and it seemed that he'd expected her to reject him for this reason. How could he not see that she would have given her soul to be with Superman?
"I know you love him," he said quietly.
"Him?" What was he talking about?
"Superman. You made it clear that you didn't think much of me as Clark, and I guess that this is the main reason why telling you was out of the question. I mean until now. I would have told you this morning, Lois. Making love… it means that we're in a pretty serious relationship. I mean, for me," he added, the shadow of another insecurity passing over his face.
"I wouldn't have slept with you if it wasn't serious," she said, hurrying to reassure him.
And she meant it. The admission had been directed at herself as much as at him; she couldn't deny that their first kiss last night had freed feelings she didn't suspect she had. Yet they'd been hidden in her heart ever since she'd known Clark.
The memory of the previous week, when she'd thrown herself at Clark and practically begged him to love her, came back to haunt her. The pheromone had certainly been an indication of where her heart belonged, and she should have analysed the situation instead of burying it in the back of her mind as a taboo subject she never intended to dig up again.
"But I never expected you to sleep with me!" he exclaimed, and she could hear the pent-up frustration in his voice.
"I know. It was pretty out of the blue for me, too."
"Does it make it wrong?" He sounded so insecure, as if he was certain that she'd deny her feelings now that she knew about his secret. The truth was that she'd been tempted to turn her back on him forever; not because of who he was, but because of a secret he hadn't shared with her before they'd become intimate.
His fear of being rejected and his obvious desire to be loved for himself was putting a new spin on things, though. Until then, she hadn't realised how hard it was for him to live with his two identities; all she'd thought about was the pain of feeling betrayed by the man she loved.
For she loved Clark. There was no way around the strong feelings revealed by the first few kisses they'd shared last night. She hadn't wanted him for a purely physical moment that would be forgotten the next morning; it just wasn't her style to sleep with a man if there was nothing more than a simple attraction to begin with. It wasn't enough. She needed passion, an overwhelming need to be with him, a certainty that it was a beginning and not just a few hours of futureless bliss.
She needed Clark.
"It could never be wrong. It was right, and nothing can change that."
He took a step towards her and put his hands on her waist, although she could see in his eyes that the motion wasn't born of deep self-confidence. "And is it still right?"
She sighed. She couldn't lie to him; she couldn't lie to herself and claim that everything was all right when part of her was still hurt by his lies. "I guess… it depends, Clark. I can understand why you didn't tell me. I haven't been very nice to you, and I don't suppose that throwing myself at you, the other you, helped my case. But last night, I was so certain that I was with Clark, and -"
"And you *were* with Clark. You're still with Clark."
"So when Superman kissed me last week…"
"It was me."
"But you… I mean, *Clark* wasn't attracted to me at all! Unless…" He hadn't been affected by the pheromone. His powers or whatever it was about his Kryptonian side had made him invulnerable to Miranda's perfume.
"I have no idea how I'd have controlled myself if the pheromone spray had removed my inhibitions for you, Lois. I got pretty close to losing all grip on reason without it, and let's just say it's a good thing its effect on you wore off before we did something… irresponsible. As for the kiss…" He trailed off and racked a hand through his hair; she could see that he was embarrassed. "I know it was very stupid of me to take advantage of the situation. I just couldn't help it. I know it won't make up for what I did, but -"
"You don't need to apologise for kissing me. After all, I'd been chasing after you for two whole days. It's a wonder you didn't take advantage of the situation before."
He chuckled and finally pulled her against him. It felt so good to be held in his strong arms.
"Lois, I wish I'd told you before things got out of hand last night. I would have told you this morning if you hadn't found out before I even woke."
She believed him. Maybe it was the softness of his voice, the sincerity in his deep brown eyes, the support of his arms around her and keeping her close. Or maybe it was just the certainty of her feelings for him, but she really believed him.
Tilting her chin up in a deliberate invitation for him to kiss her, Lois said softly, "You said you knew that I love Superman."
He'd been about to respond to her invitation, but he halted, his expression showing her how much it had hurt. "Yeah. It's been pretty obvious."
"Clark, it wasn't the powers that I loved. The way you use them to help people makes Superman more noticeable than Clark, but it's never been about your abilities. It was the man… it was *you*," she said, smiling up at him. "I love *you*, Clark."
Raising one hand to caress her cheek in a touch which simply took her breath away, Clark gave her a look which, finally, melted away the last of the ice which had surrounded her heart since Claude's betrayal. "I love you, Lois. I've loved you since the first moment I saw you," he told her huskily.
And then she wasn't able to say any more, because his mouth was on hers, kissing her gently, then urgently and passionately and deeply and fervently. Lois wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him even closer to her, but then he was lifting her and carrying her out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom, without once breaking the kiss.
Laying her down on their bed, he straightened and gave her a longing look. "God, I want to be next to you again!"
"What's stopping you?" she asked, laughing as she reached up towards him.
"But what about the investigation?" he protested half- heartedly.
"What investigation?" Then her hand caught the edge of his towel; as it unravelled and fell to the floor, Clark came down on the bed to kiss her again. And at that point, nothing else mattered; their surroundings faded away as they lost themselves in each other and the wonder of their kisses.
Together. In rapture.