By Round Robin writers
Submitted: September 2002
Summary: What if the episode "Season's Greedings" had continued another few minutes? This waffy round robin fanfic explores the possibilities.
By Sarah Luddy <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Kaethel <email@example.com>, Katie Sizer <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Wendy Richards <email@example.com>, Helen Gray <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Tracey <email@example.com> and Kaylle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This round robin was mostly started with the intent of keeping the Europeans up past their bedtime. *grin* After the nKerths, everybody was still online for a little while, and it seemed a great time to get lots of people together and writing. Not only that, but we got interesting results by having people try to write coherently when it was 2am or later in their time zone. Here are the results. I hope you enjoy!
All characters are the property of their respective copyright owners. We have no rights over them whatsoever — we're just borrowing them to have a little bit of fun, that's all. Please don't sue! <g>
Clark squeezed Lois's hand reflexively as he stared out the window, not really seeing the carollers who stood singing below. All he could think about was Lois standing next to him, her head delicately resting on his shoulder, her hand in his.
He hadn't been imagining it, had he?
They had…connected. Something had changed between them, and Clark had been tempted, so tempted, to lower his lips to hers. It was probably best that a distraction had occurred. The moment had ended, and he and Lois could still be together, affectionate, without taking that frightening jump.
With one last lovely note, the song ended, and the carollers moved away with cheers and merry wishes.
"Merry Christmas, Clark," Lois whispered as they turned back to each other.
"Merry Christmas, Lois," he said back.
"Clark, if you could have one thing you wanted this Christmas," Lois started, then bit her lip. She paused for a moment, then went on. "What would it be?" He felt her hand tighten around his for a moment, then she smiled shyly at him.
"I already have it," Clark replied warmly, looking at Lois with so much tenderness that she felt her knees weaken.
He led her to the couch and she sat beside him, grateful that he didn't let go of her hand. The contact was making her feel both safe and giddy, and she lowered her head, suddenly embarrassed by what seemed to pass between them tonight.
She was trying her hardest not to overanalyse his words, but failed.
He was content to spend Christmas with her. He'd given up a traditional celebration with his folks in Smallville just to be with *her*. No one had ever sacrificed their plans for her before. Not a boyfriend, not a friend…and certainly not her family. But Clark had done just that. And amazingly, she didn't feel like he had come out of pity. He genuinely cared, and it was what made him different from all the other men she'd known in her life.
The thought warmed her. Clark, the guy who loved spending time with his family, had given up one of the most special times of year with them, just to be with her. Because he cared about her. That was for certain.
His earlier words ran through her head, and she wondered just what he meant. He already had what he wanted for Christmas? What did that mean? Electricity ran through her as she thought of all the various reasons he might have said that, but her heart kept coming back to one reason. She already knew he cared about her… but just how deep did those feelings run?
Before, standing by the window with Clark, the urge to rest her head tenderly against his shoulder had been impossible to resist, and even then she found herself longing for more. Her eyes didn't wander to his face, but she'd somehow sensed that his eyes were upon her, just for a second, and she'd wondered what he'd do if she leaned up and brushed his lips with hers.
The thought had been a fleeting one, which she'd instantly wiped from her mind. But now, as they were sitting on the sofa, the thoughts flooded back to her with a vengeance. She turned to face him, instantly catching his eyes in a deep, intense stare. They burned into her, as if trying to figure out her deepest thoughts.
"Clark…" she began, squeezing his hand gently. "When you said you already had the best Christmas present you could ask for…" She hesitated, unsure if proceeding was a good idea. But she had to. As she stared into his deep brown eyes, she felt a rush of emotions run through her, and tears involuntarily pricked her eyes. "Did you mean… me?"
At once, she wanted to bite the words back. She was laying herself open to hurt she could do without. After all, he was her best friend. He'd come because he felt sorry for her, that was all. Why was she imagining things which weren't even there? Why was she fooling herself that the affection in his eyes for her meant something more?
Clark caught his breath; she actually saw him do it. And then he swallowed nervously. And she knew then that her question had been a mistake. He was wondering how to let her down gently, tell her that all he'd meant was that he was with his friend.
But then he spoke. His hands tightened around hers, and he said hesitantly, "Lois… I meant… the best Christmas present I could ask for is to be with you. In any way you'll have me."
Lois froze, staring at him in breathless disbelief. "Clark… do you mean…?" She trailed off, afraid to voice her hopes.
Then he gave her an arrested look and moved closer, raising one hand up to curve around her jaw. His mouth softened and the intense expression in his eyes altered; the affection was still there, but so was a deep, blazing love which was unmistakable.
"Lois," he started, his voice cracking slightly. Taking a deep breath, he continued in a low, intense voice, "I love you."
Lois blinked. Expecting and anticipating his reaction was one thing but the reality was quite different. Unprepared for the deep sincerity in his tone and the emotions it caused to well up inside her, Lois fought against tears.
This was how it was supposed to feel. This sweeping, overwhelming, absolutely incredible sensation that was making its way through her body — this was what was supposed to happen when a man said 'I love you.' The most amazing thing about it, though, was not the words themselves, but the man who'd actually said them to her. Clark — her partner, her best friend, the man who'd stood beside her for as long as he'd known her — he'd said those three famous, but no less heart-stopping words to her. It boggled her mind, and words seemed somewhere far beyond her reach at the moment.
That fact didn't seem to matter, however, because he didn't seem to think that her response should be in words anyway. His eyes were still locked to hers, but his head was dipping lower. His hand on her cheek shifted, lifting her chin up so that she could meet his lips halfway. In reality, it must have happened very quickly, but in her heart, she slowed the moment so that she would remember it forever. Something inside her knew that she would never be the same.
She let her eyes drift closed, her heart speeding in anticipation as he tipped her head back and kissed her, gently, warmly. She made a soft sound in her throat, a sound of satisfaction and longing. She'd never known how badly she wanted this until she had it, this wonderful man here beside her, his hand soft on her face, his lips caressing hers, and the echo of his words still in her mind.
Others had said it before, of course, and not meant it. But she knew Clark, knew what sort of man he was, knew the value he placed on truth and loyalty. He'd been her best friend for more than a year. She trusted him. She was surprised to see how deep that trust went, even when it came to her closely guarded heart.
She let her hands come up to touch him, tentatively, caressing his face and then settling gently in his hair, holding him to her. He wasn't pushing to take the kiss any farther, she thought distractedly, and realised she hadn't reassured him of her own feelings. Unwilling to break away long enough even to tell him, she tried to make her actions speak for her, wrapping her arms around his neck and opening her mouth under his.
They stayed that way for a long moment, quietly exploring, lingering in this moment of discovery. How long had he felt this way? she wondered. How many months had they lost? If she'd spoken sooner, could they have been together?
But part of her denied that thought. Whatever they'd come through, whatever obstacles they'd endured, they'd come to this point despite them. And she wouldn't trade this moment for anything.
But at last Clark pulled away, looking down at her with an expression of guarded joy. "Lois?" he said softly.
Lois's mind immediately flooded with a thousand thoughts. He was regretting this, regretting everything. He just didn't know how to tell her, how to stop it without hurting her. She blinked rapidly, forcing back the tears. She wasn't going to show him how much this hurt. "It's okay, Clark," she said, quickly jumping up. "I understand."
Clark stood up after her, looking puzzled and cutely bemused. Lois tried not to look at the utterly appealing look on his face.
"I guess we got a little carried away there, but…well, there's a turkey waiting to be eaten!" she said brightly, hurrying towards the kitchen.
He followed her, still looking confused. "Lois," he said, "I thought…I thought…"
Lois faced the sink, trying to control herself. She'd thought…but how many men had told her they loved her? Told her they loved her, just before hurting her, before leading her to bed?
"Lois, please," Clark said, putting a hand on her arm. "Please tell me what's wrong."
Lois turned to face him and burst into tears. "I love you," she said. "And…I'm terrified."
"Oh, Lois," he said softly. "You know I love you. I'd die before I'd hurt you. You have to believe me."
She sniffled softly. "I do, but…I'm still scared."
Clark lifted her onto the counter and pulled her into an embrace, his arms tight around her waist.
She leaned forward and buried her head in his shoulder. "Oh, Clark."
She took a deep breath, summoning what little courage she still had. This was Clark she was with. She could talk openly and rationally about the fears eating her up. He would listen — he always did — and then he would take her in his arms and reassure her.
But this time, she wasn't running to Clark, she wanted to run *from* him. How could she make him understand how scared she was of losing the best friendship she'd ever had over a relationship that was doomed ever before it started? For it was bound to end up in disaster. It always did.
Paul could have passed for an accident; she'd told herself — rather naively — that she'd run into the one guy on campus who had more muscles than brains, all right. It happened. Claude… Well, Claude was French. Heartbreak came in the package if she went by the stereotype. But after Lex, how could she believe that she could pick a man who was decent, caring and loving enough to build the foundations of a lifetime relationship with her?
More than that, did Clark fit her ideal when it came to men?
Her gentle, caring, and loving best friend. The last decent man on Earth. Clark Kent. She'd already admitted that she trusted him. And yet, she was still afraid, as irrational as she knew it was. She was afraid that once they took that scary step towards the instability of a romantic relationship, she could lose everything. She could lose him.
"Lois, talk to me," he said softly, interrupting her miserable reflections.
"I… can't," she said, faltering.
"Hey, this is me!" he said, his voice the familiar, gentle, teasing tone she knew so well. "You know I'll never let you down if I can help it, Lois. I love you. I want us to be more than friends. I thought…"
And now it was Clark's turn to falter. His arms still wrapped around her, he said in an agonised tone, "I thought… hoped… that maybe you felt the same way, Lois. I… if you don't, then can you try to forget that I ever said anything? Your friendship means too much to me… I'd hate to lose it because you don't feel the same way as I do," he muttered sadly.
Lois jerked back, away from him, and stared at him. He thought that she didn't…? Had he misunderstood her avowal a few minutes earlier?
"Clark! Oh, Clark, of course I love you!" she gasped, needing him to know the truth. "It's just that… I'm so scared," she told him, gulping the words out.
He gave her an arrested look, and she knew suddenly that he understood without her even having to explain.
"Scared of *us*?" he asked gently. "Not of me?"
"Never of you."
"Lois, I can't guarantee that everything will work out perfectly for us," Clark said soberly, his hands massaging her shoulders and holding her close to him. "But I swear to you that, whatever happens, I will *never* stop being your friend. I'll never stop loving you. And I love you more than anything in the world."
She reached up a hand and stroked his face, needing to feel him, to know him as he seemed to know her.
He drew her closer to him, holding her head against his shoulder and brushing his lips against her hair. "Lois, trust me. I will not let you down."
And somehow, she believed him. He wouldn't let her down, no matter what obstacles they would face in the future. Maybe he couldn't guarantee that things would work out for them, but she couldn't either. The important thing was that they would work at it *together*.
"I won't let you down, either," she whispered softly. At her words, he gathered her again into his arms, and they held that way for a long moment.
She could feel him against her, the way their breathing fell in sync and their hearts beat to the same loving rhythm. It was nice, but it wasn't enough anymore. Lois pulled back, and as she did, Clark did the same. Without moving from his embrace, she reached up and cupped his cheek in the same way he had done before he'd kissed her for the first time.
"I can't guarantee that it will work out between us either, Clark, but tonight… this…" She smiled. "It seems like an awfully good start." And then she leaned across, placing her lips sweetly over his.
He sighed happily, wrapping his arms around her and returning the kiss. He was a little bolder now, a little more reassured of where they stood, and his kiss was deeper, more reverent. She smiled against his lips. The future would work itself out. For now, he was here in her arms, warm and tender, and he loved her.
For now, it was more than enough.
(c) Sarah Luddy <email@example.com>, Kaethel <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Katie Sizer <email@example.com>, Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Helen Gray <email@example.com>, Tracey <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Kaylle <email@example.com> September 2002