By Kaethel <Kaethel@wanadoo.fr>
Rated: PG 13
Submitted: October 2002
Summary: After their first real kiss, we rarely saw either Lois or Clark take the initiative to step over the line of friendship. But what if Clark had become tired of standing in the background while Scardino courted Lois? What if he'd decided to show her and not just tell her that he wanted them to be more than best friends?
This idea came to me when beta-reading Wendy Richards' wonderful story, Got A Way. Wendy used the script of Target: Jimmy Olsen as a basis for her fanfic, and I should clarify before all that the script in question is different from the episode that actually aired. All of you remember the fascinating conversation between Sarah and Lois, in which they discussed Lois's relationship with Clark in veiled but no uncertain terms. <g> In the script, here's what was said about the matter:
Sarah: Lois, it's classic. Psych 101. Look, Clark's a terrific guy, anyone could see that. But he's kind of like a rowboat.
Sarah: Yeah. You feel secure, you know you'll get across the lake safely, but it's not an exciting trip. Scardino, on the other hand, is a speedboat. Fast, sleek, a wild ride. But, there's also a better chance of capsizing.
So back to the point, in Wendy's story, Clark remembered the conversation mentioned above and wished he'd had the courage to show Lois that he wasn't as boring as Sarah claimed he was. Well, let's see what could have happened if Clark had been courageous enough to be wild. <eg>
This story was posted for two of our 'twins' Sarah Luddy (the very evil one) and AnnieM (who claims to be the innocent one, but we all know better <g>), who have birthdays very close to one another. <g> It should have been sent to the archive months ago, but I wanted to fix a couple of things in the final version and never got around to working on it until now.
Many, many thanks go to the very best beta-readers I could wish for: Wendy and LabRat, your suggestions and support are always so very helpful. You're with me every step of the way, through every story I attempt, and saying 'thank you' isn't enough to describe how much I appreciate your patience and kindness with me. :)
Thanks also go to the feedback gang on the boards and to my GE Laurie for all her help. :)
Feedback is very welcome at Kaethel@wanadoo.fr
Clark walked away from Lois and Sarah, squaring his shoulders and doing his best not to lower his head in defeat. In fact, he was sorely tempted to sulk, but knew it would only worsen his case. Besides, he refused to acknowledge to Lois that her flirting with Scardino was affecting him in any way. But he couldn't lie to himself: it was one thing to merely raise an eyebrow at Call-Me- Daniel's overly obvious tactics, but it was another entirely not to feel threatened by the guy's vulture-like attitude around Lois and himself. Sometimes it looked like the DEA agent had a sixth sense telling him when was the best time to appear and pick up the pieces of whatever argument had taken place between the Planet's star reporters.
As a result, Clark's relationship to Lois was endangered by a man who didn't have enough scruples to see that the woman was dating someone.
Not just someone: *himself*.
He and Lois were a couple now, weren't they? All right, they'd only had one date, but they'd kissed — and what a kiss it had been! He'd thought it would change everything, but in truth, they'd gone back to the old friendly routine just as fast. And now Lois was ready to date another man, regardless of his feelings on the matter. Didn't she see how much it hurt him to stand back while Scardino courted her?
Courting didn't even begin to describe it, in fact. He'd called Lois's desk three times already, his only purpose to ask her out. Didn't he know that Lois wasn't free? Hadn't she told him she had something going on with her partner?
Leaning against the side of his desk, he thrust his hands into his pockets and sighed. Lois was laughing with Sarah, oblivious to his pain. When the young girl eagerly asked what was going on between Lois and himself, he couldn't help it; he had to listen. Maybe knowing what Lois thought about their relationship would tell him where he stood with her, and whether Scardino was as serious a menace as he looked.
At first, Lois's response was rather snappish, and he was surprised when Sarah's pleading eyes succeeded in convincing his usually secretive partner to confide.
"We went out on a date, okay? It went great. Then we kissed. It was better than great."
Clark had to bite his lower lip not to smile broadly at her description of the romantic time they'd spent together. Their date had been simply magical, and the kiss they'd shared on the next evening… He was glad she'd felt it, too, and wasn't denying the attraction between them. It was a good sign, wasn't it? But her next words were quick to shatter his hopes.
"But now it's like we're in some kind of holding pattern… Nothing's moving forward."
So that was the problem, huh? And he'd thought he was the only one frustrated with the immobility of their relationship. In fact, Lois was being kind when she said nothing had moved forward, for it seemed instead that they were going backwards. And although he was partly responsible for the situation, Scardino barging in at the most inopportune moment wasn't helping either.
"And now Scardino is looking pretty good," Sarah interjected, much to Clark's dismay.
Pretty good? What was 'pretty good' about the guy? What had he done to deserve this compliment…or any kind of compliment for that matter?
His gaze immediately went to Lois, searching for any sign of excitement on her part, but she looked rather unsure of herself, as if it bothered her that Scardino's interest in her was so obvious to her young protegee. Granted, Sarah was a psych major, but it didn't take a degree to realize the DEA agent's attraction to Lois.
"Lois, it's classic! Psych 101. Look, Clark's a terrific guy, anyone could see that. But he's kind of like a rowboat."
Well, at least Lois sounded as surprised as he was…though maybe not as offended. Why didn't she jump to his defense? Why didn't she tell Sarah that he was more than…than what she claimed he was? She didn't even know him and she allowed herself to throw judgments against him! And call him a 'rowboat'! What kind of insult was that anyway? It sure didn't sound flattering!
"Yeah. You feel secure, you know you'll get across the lake safely, but it's not an exciting trip," Sarah explained, responding to Clark's inward questions. "Scardino, on the other hand, is a speedboat. Fast, sleek, a wild ride."
He was…he wasn't exciting? And Scardino was a speedboat? The nautical metaphors were becoming a bit complicated…and what did she mean anyway? That he couldn't give Lois a wild ride, that only a guy like Scardino was man enough to give her the kind of adventurous life she only read about in her romance novels?
What kind of stereotype was that? So, because Scardino wore Hawaiian shirts and his hair looked like it had just been caught in high wind, he was more exciting? And Clark Kent was just boring? Funny how Lois hadn't seemed to find him that yawn-inducing when they'd gone out on that date.
Or when they'd kissed.
He expected her to react violently to Sarah's words, but she remained silent, and he frowned in disbelief. Did she actually agree with Sarah? Did *she* find him boring? Would she compare him with a…a rowboat?
Strolling through the newsroom before reason could get the better of him, he reached his partner's desk in a few seconds, determined to show her how boring he could get when he set his heart to it. Pushing Sarah out of the way, he planted himself in front of Lois, and, amazed at his own self-confidence, he slid one hand around her waist to pull her to him.
If she'd manifested any resistance, he'd have let her go instantly. If her gaze had shown fear, if her body had gone stiff as it came into contact with his, he'd have turned away and immediately abandoned his intentions.
But there was nothing of the kind in the eyes looking up at his face.
Challenge, more than anything.
He couldn't resist.
Bending down on impulse, he joined his mouth to hers in a kiss that took his own breath away. She could reject him any second, slap him in the face and humiliate him in front of the rest of the newsroom. In fact, she could probably sue him for harassment if she really wanted to, but right now he didn't care. The woman of his dreams was in his arms, her curves delicately pressed to his chest, her lips soft and yielding under his, her sigh merging with his groan of pleasure.
There were times when Lois couldn't understand this partner of hers. Actually, strike that. She could *never* understand him. Like now. She'd been having a quiet conversation with Sarah — all right, a conversation about her love life, which, from a complete void a few years ago, had turned into some kind of soap opera complete with two handsome heroes battling for her heart. And to think she'd envied the heroines whose adventures filled her lonely nights… What had sounded hopelessly romantic in the bodice rippers she hid under her pillow was likelier to give her a headache in real life.
Or it would, if she could bring herself to push Clark away. What had gone through his mind for him to charge through the newsroom like a bull — a macho bull, at that — and go all manly on her, she had no idea. Under any other circumstances, a guy who thought he was allowed to sweep her into his arms and kiss her senseless would have been pulled back to earth pronto, with the usually efficient help of a slap in the face.
But Clark… With him, it was different. With him, *everything* was different. She felt her knees weaken when she caught him looking at her with a heated gaze that told her how much he wanted her, and the one real kiss they'd shared after their first date had surpassed her wildest fantasies.
It paled in comparison with how she felt right now. That kiss on the street had been tainted with the shyness accompanying the knowledge that they were stepping over a line and couldn't go back. This one…this one wasn't tentative at all. It was intense and passionate, and she felt all coherent thought leave her as Clark's hands roamed up her back and tangled in her hair, pulling her even closer.
She should push him away…she *knew* she should push him away…*now*. Before it was too late. Before her colleagues started cheering and used a moment that should have remained private to fill their water-cooler conversations. But she couldn't. She couldn't do anything but wrap her arms around his neck and respond to the firm pressure of his lips, the demanding warmth of his breath mingling with hers, and she was lost in his arms, her body going limp in his solid embrace, her heart surrendering to the feelings overwhelming her.
When he released her, she let out a strangled sound, somewhere between a moan and a gasp. To her own astonishment, she wished he hadn't pulled away, but the stunned looks and smirking grins she could see in her peripheral vision were enough to confirm that the newsroom was not the right place to continue that blissful exploration of each other.
She locked her gaze with Clark's in a silent exchange. He seemed as bewildered as she was, as if he hadn't planned the kiss to happen. As if he'd been irresistibly pushed towards her despite his own will. There was something else in his gaze, too. Something she could easily pinpoint, because it was a feeling she rarely showed but often experienced.
Fear of being rejected, in all likelihood. Fear of seeing her explode with anger and tell him she wouldn't tolerate such behavior from someone who was, after all, just a would-be boyfriend. They weren't even a real couple! And it was entirely his fault. Well, maybe not entirely, but in the greater part…
All right, maybe dating Scardino hadn't been the best of ideas from her either, she admitted grudgingly. Clark's sarcastic remarks about Daniel's messages earlier had enflamed her with annoyance, but she'd ignored the most important thing: Clark was her friend. Her *best* friend. And he clearly had feelings for her, feelings that ran deeper than the close friendship she'd offered to him until now. Why would he have asked her out otherwise? Why would he have kissed her as if his life depended on it?
Unable to process more information, and feeling increasingly ill-at-ease under the inquisitive stare of half the Daily Planet staff, she impulsively grabbed Clark's hand and dragged him towards the nearest conference room, ignoring her coworkers' revolting chuckles and innuendoes as she shut the door behind them and drew the blinds closed.
What had gotten into him? Why had he behaved like some sort of macho male eager to prove his superiority and claim his ownership of the female he'd set his eyes on? Lois didn't belong to him, and he had no right to kiss her like that, without warning, and in the middle of their crowded workplace to top it all!
"Lois, I'm sorry," he started awkwardly, preempting what he knew would be an explosion. Whether their relationship would survive his thoughtless actions was more than unsure, and he wanted to take a chance to explain before she threw him out of her life for good. "I have no idea what got into me, I couldn't even explain why I ki…did what I did. I know it's unforgivable and that an apology won't repair the damage I did, but I want you to know I never meant to hurt you…or humiliate you…" He trailed off and fiddled with the hem of his jacket, feeling his courage slip away.
The look on Lois's face was unreadable. She stood near the doors, arms crossed in a posture that looked half- defensive, half-challenging. Whether her mood leaned towards one or the other, he couldn't tell. He expected her to run away any minute, and yet she'd dragged him to this room, initiating what could turn out to be a pretty intimate conversation.
Not that there was a risk of it turning into anything *more* intimate, he mused regretfully. After what he'd done, he doubted Lois would let him get close any time soon.
"I really don't know what to tell you," he said lamely when the silence became too uncomfortable.
"You didn't seem to have lost your tongue earlier," she snapped, and he winced at the obvious double-entendre.
"I know it was stupid of me. But I heard you compare me with Scardino and although the part about rowboats and speedboats escaped me a little, what I figured was that you were as tired as I was of not seeing things move forward between us."
She held up a hand, interrupting his flood of words. "Wait a minute! I didn't compare you with Scardino. Sarah did. And how did you hear…were you *spying* on me?"
"No! I wasn't —"
"Didn't your mother ever tell you eavesdropping was not a good thing?"
"I wasn't eavesdropping, I was… Okay, maybe I was eavesdropping. A little. But I was frustrated, Lois! You and I…it's as if we're going nowhere, and I'm sick of waiting for you to make the first move."
Her eyes widened. "*You* are sick of it? How do you think *I* feel, Clark? Sometimes you're just like the rest of them, unaware that the world doesn't just revolve around you. And you're right, what you did out there is unforgivable. In fact, no one, *no one* ever treated me the way you did, like some kind of… of *possession*!"
"And you damn well should be! So suddenly you decide that I'm interesting again? You've been making a good job of ignoring me since Mayson's death! What is it, Clark? One kiss, and pfuiit, you realized I wasn't worth it after all?"
"I did not —"
"When I asked you if I was yesterday's news, you didn't even bother with an explanation! You were too much of a coward to tell me that you were over me!"
"I never wanted you to think I was tired of you, Lois. Never. And if Scardino hadn't interrupted when we were having that conversation, I would have had a chance to tell you that —"
"So it's all Dan's fault? Of course it's all his fault! It's always someone else's fault. Never yours. You're above all reproach, Clark, that's a given!"
He lowered his head. "I know I'm not. But do you think it's easy to tell you how I feel when we get interrupted every five minutes?"
She crossed her arms and stared at him for a long moment. "Please do tell me who puts an end to every single intimate conversations *I* have initiated for the past few weeks."
He sighed. "Touche."
"And suddenly, because you're in the mood again, everything has to go according to your plan? I'm supposed to fall into your arms and vow my eternal love to you? I'm not your thing, Clark! I'm not even your girlfriend!"
"Of course you're not. You're too busy flirting with Scardino to build a real relationship with me," he bit back scornfully.
As soon as the words got out of his mouth, he realized they'd been a mistake. Lois's visage became somber and her lips tensed into a tight line; he knew she was doing her best not to lash out at him, and he wished he'd had her self-control just a minute ago. But Lois had the power to drive him from passion to anger in the space of a second, and sometimes it was hard not to let his blood boil. And yes, he was particularly touchy where their relationship was concerned.
"For your information, Kent, and despite the fact — a detail, really! — that it's none of your damned business, I am *not* flirting with Scardino."
"I wish *he* knew that," Clark muttered, but Lois's sharp intake of breath told him she'd heard his words. "Look, Lois, like you told Sarah, we had a date, we kissed, and I thought we'd started something. And now we're drifting apart and I can't bear it. I can't bear losing you," he finished in a whisper.
How was she supposed to stay mad when he sounded so sincere and…and so desperate? She knew it wasn't reasonable. When a man was able to stroll through a crowded room, sweep you into his arms, and kiss you senseless, it meant he could be a complete sociopath. A downright romantic sociopath all right, but a sociopath nonetheless.
/You feel secure, you know you'll get across the lake safely, but it's not an exciting trip./
Sarah's words echoed through her mind, and she paused, suddenly aware of what Clark had accomplished. He'd said he'd heard their conversation, and it was clear from his behavior earlier that he'd just wanted to prove Sarah wrong. To prove *her* wrong as well, she admitted reluctantly. She hadn't done anything to correct the shrink-wannabe when the young woman had compared Clark and Daniel to different types of boats, claiming almost loud and clear that Clark Kent could never give her the wild ride that Scardino could offer.
And Clark, despite the confident attitude he'd adopted back there, was very insecure where their relationship was concerned. Probably more than she was, as impossible as it sounded.
Sudden remorse made her flinch. Over the past few weeks, she'd done nothing but accuse him of running away whenever she tried to have a serious discussion with him, but she'd completely missed the fact that she constantly fueled Clark's jealousy by not telling Dan that she was committed to him — which was probably the heart of the problem. But how could she know where she stood with Clark when he always seemed eager to run off?
"Clark, we never talked about being exclusive to each other."
"I know, but I thought that maybe…" He trailed off, taking a breath as if to gather enough courage to go on, and she fought the sudden urge to hug him.
The friendly gestures of comfort were banished from their relationship until they decided where they stood. In fact, if they preferred not to date, the ambiguity between them would remain, and the awkwardness would be too much to bear. He wouldn't give her backrubs, kiss her forehead in reassurance, or pull her into his comforting embrace anymore — for fear of misinterpretation.
"You thought that maybe?" she prompted when Clark showed no sign of completing his earlier thought.
He looked up at her, and the sincerity shining in his eyes took her aback. If she'd ever doubted Clark's honesty with her where their feelings were concerned, her uncertainties were instantly wiped out.
"I thought that maybe you cared for me the way I lo…cared for you." He shook his head sadly before adding, "I was just kidding myself, I know. You want adventure, a 'wild ride', and it's not what I, Clark Kent, can offer. I'm not like…"
"Like Lex? Like Superman? Like…Dan, although it was Sarah who claimed he could give me a wild ride."
"Well, you didn't deny it."
She rolled her eyes and took a step closer to seize his hands, determined to show him that he meant much more to her than what Sarah's cheap psychology had implied.
"Clark, of course you're not like them. And especially not like Lex," she hurried on, ignoring the shameful blush creeping to her face as she mentioned the name of the crook she'd almost married a few months earlier. "But although you can't fly like Superman, you have the same qualities in you that attracted me to him." She felt her cheeks color at an admission that embarrassed her.
"So where does Dan fit into the big picture?"
"He doesn't. You're not like him at all; I mean, granted, your ties can be downright outrageous sometimes, but Dan's shirts look like a bunch of those ties of yours sewn together and… Anyway, what I mean is that you're nothing like him. You and I share things, we're friends, we trust each other. I feel comfortable with you and well, I'll tell you the truth: With Dan, it'd be easy to start something, because he and I have never and could never be friends."
"But if you couldn't consider him a friend, how can you agree to date him?"
"He and I have nothing to lose." She sighed, realizing that what she was expressing out loud should have been said long ago. It could have avoided a great deal of heartache, and probably not just for herself. Her voice dropped to a whisper, shyness overcoming her as she spoke her next words. "You and I, Clark, have *everything* to lose." She took an imperceptible step towards him, looking up at him and bringing their faces close together. "Oh, Clark… Why does everything have to be so complicated with you?" Her voice quivered, and she fought the tears welling up in her eyes as she acknowledged the effect he had on her. "And why does it seem so very simple when we kiss?"
His arms came around her, and she didn't find the strength to push him away. She let him pull her against his chest, tucked her head under his chin, and sighed when his hand stroked a rhythmic path along her hair.
His physical presence always soothed her. When had she ever felt safe in another man's arms? The answer was obvious: never. Clark was the only man whose embrace made her feel secure and cherished and loved.
"Do you love me, Clark?" she murmured against his throat, intent on any sign of tension in his body as she voiced the question.
His embrace, if anything, became more tender. "You know I do," he whispered against her hair.
She looked up at him, searching for any hint of doubt on his face, but found none.
"And maybe we have everything to lose," he continued, his hand cupping her cheek, "but we have everything to gain as well."
He was right. He was so very right. Because she was afraid of what fate had in store for them, she preferred to stay away from a man who could stir feelings she'd never known. Because she was too much of a coward, she was about to turn away from a man who truly loved her and offered himself to her with no conditions.
She initiated the kiss this time, and Clark's lack of reaction told her she'd taken him by surprise. Panic flickered through her, but thankfully, he was quick to follow her lead, and he placed his hands on her waist, as if too shy to embrace her fully. The man who'd kissed her passionately a few minutes earlier was gone, and good old mild-mannered Clark Kent was back with a vengeance.
He was so adorably charming…
She smiled against his mouth and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer and encouraging him to deepen the kiss. The soft strokes of her lips against his intensified, conveying her passion for the only man who'd ever bared his heart to her. It was a courageous act, and she admired him for doing what she'd been too afraid to do herself.
"So you're willing to take the chance?" he asked hesitantly when they broke off, breathless. "With me?"
She just smiled and kissed him again. Sometimes, actions spoke louder than words…