By Round Robin writers
Rated PG 13
Submitted October 2002
Summary: Lois Lane finally decides to face her growing feelings for her partner and marches to his apartment in the middle of the night…to find a surprise awaiting her there…
Written by Sarah Luddy <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Wendy Richards <Wendy@lcfanfic.com>, Kaethel <Kaethel@wanadoo.fr>, Elena <email@example.com> & Chiara Prato <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sarah's taunting: The fun part of being challenged is that it gives you the right to challenge back. I definitely put a lot of thought into a very evil challenge for the evil Cortina gang, but in the end I couldn't think of anything to rival what they gave me. Short of, maybe, the Nightfall meteoroid destroying the entire planet.
Cortina Gang's response: Well, we should have expected Sarah to get back to us after we posted that first evil challenge to her, and her revenge didn't fail to appear three days after Falling Into You was completed. This time she decided to use another obstacle between our favourite couple and complete happiness… an obstacle wearing nothing but Clark's shirt. <eg> What did we do with her evil setting? Did we make it worse? Only one way to find out…
Thanks to the readers on the MBs for their enthusiasm and to our GE Jeanne Pare for her very helpful edits. :)
Superman smiled at Lois. "Lois, I want you to know that I think what you did for Clark took incredible bravery."
Lois tried to shrug it off. "Oh, it was nothing."
Lois thought momentarily about what her life would be without Clark. Before she'd met him, she'd been so different. It wasn't that long ago that for two terrible days, she'd thought Clark was dead. She'd been lost.
"No, I guess not," she said slowly. "I guess there's nothing I wouldn't do for him."
"I think you two are very lucky to have each other," Superman said, looking at her closely.
Lois didn't want to think about what he was saying, but somewhere deep down, she knew he was right.
"Good night, Lois," Superman said, and without another word, lifted lightly into the sky.
Lois watched Superman leave and sighed slightly. He was right, of course. Her fantasies about Superman were just that…fantasies. Wispy dreams that never quite solidified into anything more.
But Clark…she wasn't really sure what her relationship with Clark was. He was the best friend who was dependable, always there. And yet never quite boring.
"Clark," she whispered softly, suddenly feeling unbearably lonely.
She stood up, full of nervous energy, and walked into the bathroom. Staring into the mirror, she frowned at herself. "You're not getting any younger," she told herself sternly. "Why don't you stop holding back and just admit how you feel about Clark?"
The mirror fogged up with her breath as she leaned closer. "Because I'm not really sure myself how I feel about him," she whispered, watching her face disappear from the reflection as the fog expanded.
Her relationship with Clark had always been complicated. Which was funny, really, because in some ways it seemed so simple. They'd become good friends over the time they'd worked together, and, even more surprising, they'd become excellent partners. It still astounded Lois, when she stopped to think about it, that she was actually tolerating a partner. It shocked her even more to realize that, not only was she tolerating him, but she enjoyed having Clark as a partner, and that something important would be missing from her work if she lost him. Together, they were somehow more than the sum of two wholes. A corny thought, but nevertheless true.
But it had become complicated a few months ago, when Clark had told her that he loved her. And even more complicated when, later, he'd taken it back, just when she was about to tell him that she thought maybe she returned his affection.
A complicated guy, Clark Kent was. She still wasn't entirely sure how he felt about her. And even if he told her, she wasn't entirely sure how she'd respond.
But…Superman was right. Maybe it was time she asked Clark how he felt about her. Above all else, Lois Lane believed in straightforwardness and honesty. After all, she'd become a reporter to expose the truth. It was only in truth that justice and freedom could exist. Whatever Clark said, however he responded, she'd deal with it.
Lois gave the mirror a half-hearted swipe, then walked back into the bedroom. She climbed onto her bed and lay on her back for a long moment, gazing at the ceiling. Finally, she rolled over and stared at the phone.
"Well, I guess you're not going to dial for me," she said after a long moment. Ignoring the fact that her hand was shaking slightly, she picked up the phone and dialed Clark's number, one she knew by heart.
It rang once, twice, three times. Then, "Hi. This is Clark. Please leave a message at the sound of the beep."
Lois placed the phone back in the receiver. She focused her eyes on a spot on the wall, blinking them rapidly to avoid giving in to her emotions. Curling up into a protective ball, she closed her eyes and tried to let sleep drift her away.
But of course, sleep wouldn't come. After a long moment, Lois finally sat up. "Lois Lane, this is ridiculous," she muttered to herself. "You're not going to sleep anyway, and now that you've decided to talk to him, you might as well."
Standing up, she quickly stripped herself of her robe and changed back into the clothes she'd been wearing that day. She grabbed her keys and headed for the door.
Just as her hand reached the doorknob, Lois paused. Without analyzing why she was doing it, she hurried back into the bathroom and applied perfume and a light layer of mascara. Before she could second guess herself out of her resolution, she grabbed her purse and hurried out.
The walk to Clark's place wasn't far. Of course, given the hour of the night, most women would have hesitated to walk alone. But any attacker would have to be suicidal to stop Lois Lane when she was going somewhere in a hurry. The few who'd tried at one point or another still told the tale in bars, and other criminals gave her a wide berth.
Lois reached Clark's apartment and looked up. The lights were off, and she worried momentarily that he'd gone to bed. But this wouldn't be the first day she'd woken him up, after all. And if she wasn't mistaken, he wouldn't mind being awakened once she told him what she had to say.
She skipped up the stairs to the front door and knocked sharply.
There was no response.
Frowning, Lois knocked again, louder this time. After a moment, a light flicked on in a back room, and then the living room light flicked on. The door flung open to reveal…Mayson.
And rather more of Mayson than was usually revealed, given that Mayson was wearing what appeared to be one of Clark's shirts. It came down to mid-thigh and no lower.
Lois gaped at Mayson, not entirely sure how to respond. She opened her mouth to speak and found the words just refused to come.
~ 11 pm the previous evening ~
Clark snapped off the TV as the news programme ended. It was almost time for his patrol as Superman, and he needed to press his shirt for the following day first.
He was disappointed that Lois hadn't called. After his hint in her direction that afternoon, he'd really thought that she was on the verge of seeing him — Clark — as more than a best friend. That she was finally ready to contemplate the idea of there being more between them than friendship.
But the phone had stayed silent.
He'd just started to run the iron over the back of his shirt when a loud knock came on the door. Grinning, he put the iron back and hurried to answer it. Of course it would be Lois. Why had he ever imagined that she'd call? That wasn't Lois's way. When she had something she really needed to say, she went straight to the source. She came right over, no matter what time of the day or night it was.
Throwing open the door, a wide smile on his face, Clark greeted his visitor.
"Hi, L… uh, Mayson? What are… uh, come in!" he amended quickly, remembering his manners.
"Hi, Clark." She smiled at him, head tilted to one side. "I'm really sorry to barge in on you like this, but the power's gone out in my apartment and it's just *freezing* and I know there's no way I can sleep there, so I wondered… well, I thought maybe you wouldn't mind me crashing here for the night. I mean, I can take the couch…"
Clark stared at her, almost speechless for a moment. *Mayson* wanted to spend the night in his apartment? But what if Lois called? Or, even worse, came by? How was he going to explain that?
<By telling the truth> a little voice which he always associated with his mom informed him crisply. <Lois will believe you if you tell her the truth>
"Uh, sure, Mayson," he said, aware that he'd hesitated just a little too long for his response to look automatic. "Uh… you can have my bed and I'll sleep on the couch. I'll just… look, why don't you make yourself at home while I change the sheets, okay?"
He didn't wait for her response, hurrying quickly into the bedroom to grab some clean sheets from the closet. However, she followed him in, and he could see that she'd already divested herself of the coat she'd been wearing. Her blouse was clinging, and it definitely *clung* in several places. Enough to tell him that she wasn't wearing a bra…
He swallowed and made himself ignore it. He really wished that Mayson wouldn't do that kind of thing. She was an attractive woman, and he'd have to be blind not to notice. But she wasn't the woman he wanted, and no amount of flaunting herself in front of him was going to make him let her seduce him… or whatever it was she was expecting of him.
Finally, the bed was made and he was able to suggest that they return to the living-room. Clark was beginning to wonder just how soon he could persuade her to go to bed; if Mayson was in seductive mood, he really didn't want to have to spend the next couple of hours fighting her off. And he did need to get out on patrol, which he couldn't really do until Mayson was asleep…
<Help! Superman, help!>
Clark groaned inwardly. He had to go. Seizing the first excuse he could think of, he turned to Mayson. "I'm sorry, I have to go out now — meeting a source. You know how it is; they want to meet at the weirdest times!" he exclaimed. "I'll be back… well, I could be a while. Don't wait up for me. Just make yourself comfortable, and I'll see you in the morning."
With that, he dashed out the front door, hurrying into the alley next door. Seconds later, he was airborne.
Well, that hadn't gone too well, Mayson thought despondently as the door slammed behind Clark. She'd really thought she was getting somewhere this time. It hadn't escaped her notice that he'd been mesmerised by the way her blouse revealed her best attributes. He'd been breathing heavily and after a while he'd had to look everywhere but at her in case she caught him staring.
Oh, he'd been interested all right.
So what had stopped him?
Running scared, maybe. Although that didn't really make sense; it wasn't as if she hadn't signalled her interest loud and clear. And she *knew* he was interested in return. He hadn't exactly kissed her as if he wasn't interested, either. Well, she had no intention of wasting this opportunity. Not after she'd gone to all the trouble of sabotaging the main fuse in her apartment.
He'd gone out… but he had to come back some time. He needed to sleep, after all.
Her gaze drifted slowly around the apartment as she considered her options… and alighted on the ironing board, with Clark's half-ironed shirt still on it. A slow smile curved across her face as an idea came to her.
Men loved seeing women dressed in nothing but their shirts. It was both a sign of intimacy and of possession. And she'd bet that Clark was no different.
Five minutes later, her clothes were neatly folded in the bathroom, and Mayson was draped seductively across Clark's bed, waiting for its owner to come home. She would give him the time of his life when he did; no way he'd ever forget that night, she thought with a wicked smile as she pictured Clark's reaction upon seeing her like this.
He would gape at her for sure. Then he would stutter her name in that cute fashion that made him even more irresistible, and she'd get to her feet, walk up to him and wrap her arms around his neck, pulling him down for a soul- searching kiss. Embarrassment would give way to passion, for she knew what lay beneath the shy man she'd fallen in love with. He was capable of making a woman reach heavens, and.. and she was about to be this woman.
Her grin of delight turned into a frown as the strident ringing of the phone interrupted her fantasy. For a moment, she thought of taking the message for her host, but she doubted he would appreciate the intention, and now wasn't the time to displease him. The caller hung up without leaving a message, and she shrugged. Whoever wanted to reach Clark could try again later… or not, she thought as she unplugged the phone. She'd rather they weren't disturbed tonight.
Returning her thoughts to Clark, she re-entered the bedroom and looked around with a frown. He seemed like such a shy guy, especially around her; it was as if he was constantly watching himself not to let his feelings guide him. She would crash those barriers and make him open up to her. She knew that Clark Kent was the one she'd been waiting for all her life, and she wasn't about to let him go. He was too good to be true. Drop dead gorgeous, gentle, caring, clever and well-educated, sensitive… what more could a woman wish for? Even his shyness was endearing…
… which didn't mean she couldn't do something about it, she decided, locating a couple of candles on a shelf and setting them near the head of the bed. Now to light them… She swept the room with a perplexed look; no matchbox in sight. Marching to the kitchen, she opened every cupboard, in vain, and drew a frustrated sigh. How was she supposed to make this work if Clark didn't have the proper tools to any good seduction plan? He had bought those candles for goodness' sake! How did he light them?
Maybe with his eyes…
The notion, as absurd as it sounded, was like a soothing balm to her soul. That gaze sure could set her on fire. She'd return the favour, though; she would drive him crazy with desire and make him beg for mercy, and when he'd brush a soft caress across her hair and vow his undying love to her in a throaty whisper, she would be the happiest woman on Earth.
She leaned across the kitchen counter, lost in her renewed fantasy, and her fingers started tracing absent patterns on the wooden surface. Being with Clark would match all of the dreams she'd ever had; it would probably overwhelm them and make them look pale in comparison. Once he got past his skittishness around her, they could live a life of pure bliss, unable to keep their hands off each other, making love at all times of the day, no matter where they were…
Her eyes fell on the counter beneath her hands, and she grinned as another interesting idea made its way to her mind. Naah. Clark didn't seem the type to revel in kinky sex; she'd have to work on his case, but for their first time, the bed would definitely be more romantic.
A sharp knock on the door cut her musings short. Surely Clark wouldn't knock on his own door… but then, who would visit him at such ungodly hours? Her lips tightened in a sigh as the obvious answer jumped to mind.
Clark's partner seemed to make a point of treating him like an object, and her behaviour was getting increasingly unpleasant. Mayson couldn't fathom why Clark put up with it; if it were her, she'd have told Lois off a long time ago.
But then, she mused as her hands splayed across the thin material of Clark's shirt and smoothed it along her curves, here was the perfect opportunity to give a little shock to Ms Lane. She grinned to herself and reached up to undo a couple of buttons — just enough to show her cleavage and reach the limit of decency. Her fingers combed her hair into unruly blond curls, and she checked herself in the mirror one more time before answering the door.
Lois stared at Mayson, unable to process the words that the woman had just spoken to her.
She'd yawned. And then she'd made some comment about it being late for a visit to Clark's apartment.
And then she'd said…
She'd said Clark was sleeping.
Lois couldn't tear her eyes off Mayson's attire; she recognised that shirt only too well. She knew what it meant when a woman was wearing a man's shirt. *She* had never worn Clark's shirt, and —
Another glance at the triumphant face smiling at her was enough, and she swivelled around, running for dear life as she fought back tears. She couldn't stand to see that! She couldn't bear the thought that Clark, her beloved partner and best friend Clark, had been having it off with Mayson! That… that joke of a woman! Who was just as clingy as a leech! Who wasn't even attractive!
A loud sob escaped her as she realised how dishonest that sounded. Of course Mayson was attractive. And of course Clark wasn't unresponsive to her charm. She was blond, thin, successful… What more could he ask for? It was obvious that she'd stood no chance against the assistant DA.
She was wiping another tear off her face when a whooshing sound resonated behind her. She needn't turn around to know who it was. She hurried on, unwilling to talk to him right now. She wanted to be alone, and if there was anyone she didn't feel like talking to right now, it was Superman. It was *his* fault anyway. Everything was his fault!
First, she'd been too busy lusting after him to notice how much she cared for her best friend; if he'd discouraged her right away, she might have taken the time to look around her instead of hanging onto her hope for something that would never happen. And second, she would never have rushed to Clark's apartment tonight if it weren't for Superman's not so subtle hint that they would be happy together.
<And then you wouldn't have known…>
Indeed. She wouldn't have known. And maybe she'd have felt all the better for it. On the other hand, maybe it was best that she'd found it out before she talked to Clark about her feelings for him. Now that would have been extremely embarrassing!
No! Not now!
Superman jogged up to her, obviously heedless of her reluctance to acknowledge his presence, and he caught her arm, forcing her to turn her tear-streaked face towards him.
"Happy now?" she breathed around a sob, more angry than self-conscious at letting him see her crying.
"Oh, Lois…" His hands clenched around her arms and he drew her to him, enveloping her in a hug that she didn't find the strength to resist. It felt so good to be held against him, to feel his warmth suffuse her body as he whispered soothing words against her hair. More tears spilled from her eyes and soaked Superman's suit as Lois clung to him, seeking comfort in his tight embrace.
Clark didn't know what to think. Just when he finally arrived home after he'd stopped hoping for an emergency, a real one and not just a kitten too afraid to climb down a tree, and resigned himself to going back to his inconvenient guest, it looked as if he should have come back sooner. Lois was obviously coming from his apartment and it broke his heart to see her in such a miserable and distressed state.
Mayson! Something must have happened between the two women and it was shocking to see Lois crying and sobbing as if she had lost her best friend.
He held her close and tried to think of a way to make her feel better. He couldn't exactly ask her what Mayson had done or said to her. As Superman he wasn't supposed to know the young Assistant DA was in Clark's apartment and it would look suspicious if he mentioned her name.
But he had to do something! Whispering soothing nonsense wasn't helping and even if Lois seemed to appreciate his embrace, she was still crying and muttering something to herself he wasn't quite able to catch.
"… your fault…"
Whose fault? Who was she talking of? He was sure Mayson was the one to blame, but now he started to doubt he was right.
"*My* fault?" he asked her.
"Yes! Yours!" she blurted out before new tears started flowing down her cheeks.
This didn't make any sense. Why would Lois think Mayson's presence in Clark's apartment was *Superman*'s fault? He resisted the urge to check if for some unexplainable and mysterious reason he'd changed back to Clark. Nope. Lois was really talking to Superman.
And they were in the middle of the street. Not that there was anyone in sight, but he thought it would be better to go someplace else.
"Lois, let me take you back to your apartment. It's late and you're obviously upset."
The look she gave him in reply made it perfectly clear she had no intention of spending another minute in his company, but since she was already blaming him, he thought he had nothing to lose and after scooping her up he took off.
She couldn't believe he'd had the nerve to do that! He didn't even ask her if she wanted a lift. He just assumed that since she was 'upset' she wasn't able to go back home on her own. As if it hadn't been a bad day already, now she had to put up with a bossy super-hero. Great!
As soon as they entered her apartment from the same window from which he'd left a few hours before, Lois freed herself from his embrace and went to her bathroom, slamming the door.
"Lois, please, come back here and tell me what's wrong."
He really sounded confused and eager to hear her out. But she wasn't sure she was ready to reveal how stupid she'd been. She had really hoped he was right, that she and Clark were made for each other and that there was hope for them as something more than just a news team.
Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she noticed how the mascara had streaked her face. Somehow this made her feel even more depressed and new tears started to well up in her eyes.
No! This was not Lois Lane! She had to react and stop crying over a man who obviously didn't want her. A man who had decided Mayson Drake was the right woman for him.
Splashing her face with cold water, she removed all the last remains of make-up and decided to go out of the bathroom and talk to Superman. She would tell him he'd been wrong and that for Clark and her there wasn't a happy-ever- after in sight. She would look calm and unaffected by all this; she would thank him for being her friend and tell him not to worry for her.
That was the plan, anyway. But when she faced him again and saw his concerned look, she almost broke down again. Didn't he know that super-heroes were supposed to look stern and unreachable? That they didn't have the right to make you long for a friendly hug and some soothing words?
He kept looking at her without saying anything, and after a while he opened his arms and she found herself crushed against his broad chest again.
"Lois, please, tell me what's wrong. If you don't tell me why you think I've done something wrong, how can I help you?" Clark almost pleaded.
"No, nothing's wrong. I'm fine, really." Lois lied.
Funny, he almost sounded like her Clark. Well, Clark. He wasn't hers. Never had been, actually.
"Okay, I'm not *fine*, but I will be."
At his doubtful look she went on trying to sound more confident.
"I just need to learn how to be happy for them, to realise that he's still my partner and the best friend I've ever had. Sure, she'll be the only one allowed to wear his shirts, but who cares? She doesn't even look good in them!"
"Sorry? I'm afraid you lost me, Lois." Superman said. Why should it be his fault if someone didn't look good in a shirt?
"Oh, you know, his shirts. The ones that make his chest look even broader and…" she stopped herself and looked embarrassed.
"Never mind. It's not that important. What's important is that I've learned my lesson. I'll stop believing everything you tell me. I'm really sorry, Superman, but even you can be wrong."
This didn't make any sense whatsoever. He was almost tempted to x-ray her head and check for signs of concussion. He was used to Lois's babbling, but this was so incoherent it wasn't even funny!
"Of course I can be wrong, Lois. I never thought I was infallible, but I'm afraid you'll have to tell me when I mislead you 'cause I have no idea what you're talking about."
"All right, yes, I guess you have the right to know. You probably wanted this to be true as much as I did. Probably all the horrible things you have to face being who you are, make you wish for some good and happiness. I don't doubt for a second that you really hoped there could be a future together for two of your best friends. But wishing for something doesn't make it real. Can you understand that?"
No, he definitely couldn't understand her tonight, but it didn't look like a good move to tell her that. Instead he decided to nod, hoping she would go on and not realise he was completely lost, that his head was starting to spin trying to keep up with her words. Lois seemed really very confused and if understanding her was difficult normally when she was in babbling mode, today it was almost impossible.
She kept talking about someone's shirt and something about his being wrong, and, no, he really didn't understand.
He could work out that she was upset because she'd met Mayson at his place, and she really seemed desperately unhappy about it. A little part of him was almost flattered at the idea that she could be upset over him, but when he saw that Lois was crying and it dawned on him that she must be hurt because she was jealous over him, the rest of him regretted it immediately. He never wanted her to suffer in any way, even for a misunderstanding. He loved her too much to let his male pride be flattered because two wonderful women were fighting for his attention. He loved her too much even to consider allowing his ego to be boosted by the fact that two wonderful women were fighting over him.
And to see Lois cry in that way hurt him deeply. He'd have flown her home even if she'd wanted without any shadow of doubt to be left alone — how could he leave her alone when she was this distressed? This was the first time she'd ever failed to be happy to see Superman — that told him a lot about how whatever had happened had hurt her.
When she'd shut herself in the bathroom he'd been tempted to take the door off its hinges, just to get to her and comfort her. But when she came out at last, he'd felt his heart breaking. She seemed so vulnerable, her eyes still full of tears she was trying to suppress, and this seemed to make her gaze even more vital and shining. It was strange, he reflected in some tiny part of his consciousness, how tears only seemed to make Lois look even more gorgeous.
And for a moment he forgot that he was Superman. He was Clark, and he was the one who held her; he was the one who took her into his arms to calm her; he was the one asked her what was wrong.
She looked straight into his eyes and, putting her hand on his arm, she looked as if she was trying to console him.
"Superman, you were wrong. Clark doesn't love me."
"Of course I love you, Lois!"
Lois blinked, thrown off balance by Superman's heartfelt reaction. Heartfelt, now this was an appropriate choice of word. He was looking at her strangely, having dropped all pretence of maintaining the usual superhero distance that he'd got into keeping whenever he was around the public and most especially her — careful that she didn't act around him the way she had last year, because, as he'd so helpfully — not! — told her, there were things about him that she would never know and that made it impossible for their relationship to go beyond friendship.
But why was he telling her that he loved her?
Why was he throwing her off balance just when she'd finally reached a decision in her life?
She'd just been talking about Clark. She'd been saying that *Clark* didn't love her… so why would that produce a fervent declaration of love from Superman?
Lois felt her jaw drop and her knees start to weaken. She stared at the tall, handsome man in front of her, and his image almost seemed to waver right in front of her eyes.
In her mind — or was it for real? — she seemed to see a pair of glasses on his face.
She remembered the sound of his voice, strangely familiar, and fought in the darkness towards a truth she knew she'd been ignoring.
Who was in front of her?
He looked so familiar… and yet she suddenly realised that she didn't know him at all. That the bright colours of his suit had always seemed to conceal so little, but in fact had hidden a great deal more than she'd ever suspected. Yet at the same time, she knew him better than anyone except perhaps his parents.
"Clark?" she finally ventured hesitantly.
"Yes?" came the instant reply. Then, almost immediately, he lowered his head in a half self-conscious, half panicked gesture, and a blush covered his face when he looked up at her again.
"Oh god… you're Clark!"
He didn't reply immediately. He didn't need to. The mixture of guilt and relief was visible in his eyes, and she had her answer.
"Uh… yeah," he finally said, and it sounded like a confession.
Did he seem uncomfortable? Though he darned well ought to! How long had he been perpetrating this deceit? How long had he *lied* to her? For as long as she'd known him. Never had he been sincere with her! That… that… that *fink*! He was scum! He was pocket lint! He was… He was Clark.
He was her best friend, Clark. The man she loved. The man whom she'd feared she had already lost.
And that meant that the blatant hint Superman had given her that she should talk to Clark about their relationship had been given to her by… Clark himself.
What a cheat!
But on the other hand… Didn't that mean that Clark *was* in love with her? That he wasn't in love with Mayson after all?
But if he wasn't in love with Mayson… "What's she doing in your apartment in the middle of the night, wearing nothing but your shirt and looking as if she just got out of your bed?" The "she" was spoken with contempt, but Lois didn't care. It reflected the truth of her feelings for that opportunistic DA assistant.
"Who? What are you talking about?" Clark sounded completely baffled.
She eyed him suspiciously, suddenly unfazed by the suit and what it represented. "Clark, you do know that there's a woman — and obviously a sex-crazed one — staying at your place, right?"
He frowned, understanding dawning on his face. "Mayson? Mayson's wearing my shirt?? She… She said her power had gone out. I was going to let her have my bed while I slept on the sofa. And I had to go out for a Superman emergency. But she was dressed… well, *normally*, when I left!"
Lois raised an eyebrow at that. "Normally?"
"Well… as normally as…"
"A sex-crazed wacko," she completed for him.
"You mean she… she…? My shirt?"
"Concealing very little in way of thighs and cleavage."
Poor Clark, Lois found herself thinking. He really was far too naive for his own good. He obviously just couldn't get his head around the idea that a woman might be so crazy about him that she'd do something that blatant, that obvious, to get his attention. It was probably just as well for him that she was in love with him. After all, he wasn't safe to be let out in the dating world on his own!
"Lois… what did she say to you?" Now he sounded very concerned.
"Oh, not much. Just that you — *Clark* was sleeping." Her tone was sarcastic, and she saw him wince.
"And you believed her, I guess." He sighed and brushed a hand through his hair frustratedly. "Lois, I wasn't! I wouldn't! I… I don't even like her that way!"
"Well, you didn't exactly push her away either." She was unable to suppress the reproach from her voice as she spoke.
"I couldn't tonight — she said she had nowhere to go!" he protested.
"Right. And if she said she was afraid of the dark and needed you to cuddle with her in bed, you wouldn't have had the strength to push her away either. Besides, I wasn't only talking about tonight," she pointed out acerbically.
Clark sighed. "Okay, okay. I should have. But how do you tell a woman you like that you're not romantically interested in her and not hurt her? I'm serious, Lois," he added wearily. "Mayson's not a bad person. She's just… misguided. And I didn't know how to handle it."
"You could have asked me," Lois said softly, knowing that Clark was telling her the truth. After all, who but her naive and soft-hearted partner would care that much about someone else's feelings?
"Lois, I'm in love with you. How could I have gone up to you and said, 'Help me get Mayson off my back so that I can tell this woman I'm really head over heels in love with how I feel about her'?"
"Never mind that, Clark. You're a grown man. You could have told her to get a life. Okay, maybe more gently, I guess," she conceded reluctantly.
"The point is, how far could she have gone before you had to say stop?"
Clark sighed again. "I guess tonight's it. The limit, I mean. If I'd got home and found her dressed in my shirt… I mean, I guess she did it for my benefit. Anyway, I'd have had to tell her I'm not interested."
"You'd have said nothing. You'd have gently hinted that you weren't interested, but you would have been too subtle for her to get the clue."
"I'm not so sure," Clark said, and now he sounded embarrassed. "She was being… kind of unsubtle," he said uncomfortably. "I mean, the way she was behaving earlier. And I wouldn't be surprised if she'd… well, if the shirt had somehow lost a couple of buttons by the time I got home."
"Deduction skills, at that," Lois commented dryly.
"I know I'm slow when it comes to relationships," he replied with a smile. "But I'm starting to get the hang of it. As far as Mayson is concerned anyway."
"I think you do need my help, Clark," Lois said with a grin. "We're going back to your place," she informed him. "You and me. Together. And I'll offer, out of the kindness of my heart, to let Mayson sleep at my place tonight — because I was due to come and stay over at yours, but you were too gentlemanly to send her away when she came over."
"Um." Clark blinked. "So… where are you going to spend the night?"
She just grinned as she wrapped her arms around his waist.
Clark grinned back down at her. "I think I'm beginning to get the idea. But maybe I need another hint or two…" His head lowered a little, and she tilted hers up to look at him. "This might help," he murmured, just before he brushed his lips across hers.
Her knees buckled, and she leaned onto him, needing the support of his tender embrace. Her hands slid up his chest to wrap around his neck and pull him closer, sighing in a kiss that was more sweet than passionate, but still held the promise of more.
She was content with what they were sharing now, though. He wasn't the demanding lover asking for more than she could give, assuming that her acceptance of his kiss meant that the road was clear for their own selfish seeking for pleasure. The knowledge strengthened her trust in him and loosened the last bits of tension in her shoulders.
She hadn't felt any threat in her hinted askance for a place to stay tonight; she knew Clark by heart, double identity or not, and he wasn't the type to read any more into her request than a desire to be with him and possibly hold each other as they slept.
And unlike Ms Sex-Crazed over at his apartment, she wouldn't jump his bones as soon as she got the chance, she thought with a satisfied snigger.
Although she wouldn't mind wearing a shirt of his sometime… The thought brought a giggle to her lips, and Clark pulled away, a concerned look passing over his face.
She brought his head down to hers again, silencing whatever he was about to say with a soft kiss that held a promise. "We'd better go get rid of the leech invading your clothes," she said when she released him. Taking his hand, she dragged him to the open window and held back a chuckle at his dazed expression. She looked at him expectantly. "How about you give us a lift?"
Clark smiled warmly. "Sure." He bent and scooped her up, holding her more closely than he ever had before.
She snuggled into his solid, warm body, revelling in the knowledge that he was all hers.
The man she loved. The man who'd confessed his love for her.
Unable to resist any longer, she reached up to brush a soft kiss on his cheek, diverting his attention from the flight. "Clark, in case I haven't got around to telling you yet… I love you," she murmured.
"I was kind of hoping you did," he said with a soft laugh. "I mean, after I'd poured my heart out…"
"I've grown up since last summer, Clark," she told him softly. "I know what I have now. I wouldn't throw it away again."
"Good. Because even if I can fly, being thrown away from you would rob me off all strength."
She could hear the insecurity behind the teasing tone. "I love you, Clark. And for the first time in my life I don't feel threatened by the words or what they imply. I don't want to fight against my feelings for you any more."
"Then don't. Just love me."
And she did.
By Wendy Richards
The door flung open to reveal…Mayson.
And rather more of Mayson than was usually revealed, given that Mayson was wearing what appeared to be one of Clark's shirts. It came down to mid-thigh and no lower.
Lois gaped at Mayson, not entirely sure how to respond. She opened her mouth to speak and found the words just refused to come.
"Lois," Mayson said, her voice all false politeness. She yawned. "How nice to see you at-" she glanced at her watch "-1 am. Clark's…sleeping…right now. Did you need something?"
"Mayson," Lois drawled. "It's been… real… to see you too. You know," she added consideringly, "I always thought that shirt of Clark's was a mistake. And now you've confirmed it."
"Did you get me out of bed just to discuss my wardrobe?" Mayson demanded, raking one hand artfully through her tousled blonde hair.
"Actually, I believe we were discussing Clark's wardrobe," Lois corrected her abruptly. "And, speaking of whom, I can't believe my partner actually kicked you out of bed to answer the door. No, really," she added firmly as Mayson was about to interrupt. "I can't believe it. If Clark was here, he'd have answered the door himself."
"Hey, Lois." Clark suddenly came up behind Mayson, raking one hand through his unruly dark hair and yawning. "What's up? A break on a story?" As Lois watched in disbelief, he wrapped his arms around Mayson's waist, dragging her back against his… his naked chest.
"Well, I…uh…" Lois stammered, trying to think of what to say. Clark was with Mayson?? He'd actually slept with her? They were… oh, god, they were lovers!
"Lois, look, I don't mean to be rude, but it is late and we want to get some… uh, sleep," Clark said casually. "Can we pick this up in the morning?"
"Oh… ah… sure!" Lois said, making a determined effort to inject enthusiasm into her tone. The last thing she wanted Clark and his girlfriend to figure out was the real reason she'd come here; that she'd been hoping for a heart- to-heart with her best friend, and the man she'd realised, far too late, that she loved.
Turning away, she began the long walk back to her apartment. It looked like Superman had been wrong after all.
Mayson closed the door behind Lois and turned to Clark. "That worked pretty well, I thought."
"Yeah, you were right!" he agreed, laughing. "I never would have believed it. Getting Superman to drop a hint like that… I wish I'd thought of it in the days when I was still head over heels in love with Lois. But now… well, I guess I finally feel vindicated for the way she treated me over Lex Luthor."
"Yeah, I still can't believe she did that," Mayson said angrily. "Turning you down like that and then telling you to your face that she wanted Superman instead of you! And then when you turned her down as Superman, running off to that oily Lex Luthor. It's no wonder you fell out of love with her. And you actually think that she was planning to tell you that she'd changed her mind that day you told her you didn't love her?"
"It looked like it." Clark's expression tautened after the memory. "I still find it hard to credit her arrogance — that she'd think I could still want her after what she did!"
"None of it matters any more, honey," Mayson said soothingly. "You've got me now."
"Yeah, I do." Clark tugged Mayson into his arms and caressed her lovingly. "I'm so glad I took a chance and told you the truth about me and Superman. I almost didn't, because you seemed to distrust him so much."
"But that was before I knew he was you, honey. I know there's no way that you'd ever want to be a vigilante — and besides, I can help you to stay within the law, which will only help conviction rates."
"I love you, Mayson," Clark said softly, bending his head to her lips.
Her response was lost as he kissed her fiercely. Swinging her up into his arms, he carried the woman he loved through to their bedroom, lowering her gently to the bed to finish what had been so rudely interrupted by their late-night visitor.
Alone, and desperately lonely, Lois trudged through the streets of Metropolis towards her apartment. She was too late. Mayson Drake had stolen her man from right under her nose. And she'd lost Clark.
It wasn't too late, she tried to tell herself. She could fight for Clark. She could show him how indispensable to his life she was. She could show him how much she loved him. She could -
Lois had been so lost in her own thoughts that she failed to notice the mugger coming up behind her. He grabbed her and threw her to the ground. Her shouts of "Help! Superman!" went unheard, because Superman was otherwise occupied in an activity which tended to render his Super- hearing pretty much useless. She tried to fight back, but that was the wrong move. The sound of the single gunshot was deafened by the car which happened to backfire right at that second, so no-one actually witnessed the murder of Lois Lane.
One month later, Assistant DA Mayson Drake and Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent finally acknowledged that they would never be able to find the man who'd killed Lois Lane. They announced their engagement the same day.
~ The (evil) End ~
WENDY'S REDEMPTION (no, it's not a joke! <g>):
"Get your thieving hands off my boyfriend!" Lois yelled, pushing at Mayson.
"Lois? What's going on?" Clark came rushing up to the door of the apartment… from the outside.
"Clark! Mayson's in your apartment! And she's wearing your shirt!" Lois said furiously, arms akimbo, staring at Clark.
Clark frowned, then turned to the other woman. "I let you borrow my spare key because you said your washing machine was on the fritz, Mayson. I didn't realise that you were planning on doing my washing too… and wearing the results!"
"You mean… you're not sleeping with her?" Lois gasped.
"That depends. Do I have any other options?" he enquired, one eyebrow raised.
Lois linked her arm in his. "You know, I'm really not sure how comfortable my mattress is, Clark. You think you could come and test it out for me?"
He grinned. "Sure. But isn't it better to test them with two people?"
"Well, I wasn't planning on sleeping on the floor…"
~ The (non-evil) End ~
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