By Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: May 2003
Summary: Lois and Clark are the very best of friends. Yet is it only one of them who longs for something more?
For Trenna, in appreciation of all the wonderful music videos she makes for our entertainment — and more besides. Thank you, Trenna. You are truly talented! This story was in fact inspired by one of Trenna's music videos, which can be found here:
http://www.dressagejudges.com/friendsandlovers.rm. I thoroughly recommend it!
Many thanks, too, to everyone who commented on this story on the Lois and Clark Fanfic Message Boards, at http://www.lcficmbs.com. Your posts were wonderful, and made me blush furiously! And a very special thanks to my wonderful beta-reader, Kaethel, who reassured me and made her usual very helpful suggestions. Couldn't have done it without you, Kae!
All rights to recognisable characters belong to DC Comics and Warner Bros; no infringement of copyright is intended by their use in this short story.
*What would you think if I told you
I always wanted to hold you
I don't know what we're afraid of
Nothing would change if we made love*
Sometimes, when I'm with Clark, I want to do something incredibly daring. And dangerous — very dangerous. The kind of dangerous thing that could change everything forever.
Take tonight. We went to the movies, like we often do — there was a new Mel Gibson film out, and I bugged him to come with me. Not that he really needed bugging, but it's just one of the little games we play. I know that he'll come with me, and he knows he'll come with me, but he pretends to be reluctant and I pretend to persuade him. It's just the sort of thing you do with your best friend. And Clark is my best friend.
Anyway, we saw the movie; we laughed our heads off at the funny bits, and I clung to his hand at the scary bits. Well, of course I wasn't really afraid, but I like the way Clark wraps his hand around mine and squeezes when he thinks I am. It's incredibly reassuring… and just nice. I think he likes it too; he forgot to let go at least once tonight.
And then, as he always does, he walked me home. I hadn't brought the Jeep; we went to a theatre in the city, rather than at one of the malls, because I prefer the atmosphere downtown. And getting parking in the city at night isn't easy. So we took the subway, and Clark walked me the rest of the way. And, as he always does, he saw me right to the door. And, as I always do, I invited him in for coffee.
These days, he doesn't hesitate any longer, even if it's late. He knows me well enough to know that I wouldn't ask if I didn't want him to come in. If I was too tired, I'd tell him so. Not that that stops him telling me sometimes that he won't stay long and that I really should be going to bed. Well, okay, sometimes he's right.
So I made coffee and we talked and laughed and teased, just as we always do. And this is where it starts — that crazy, lunatic desire to do something really daring.
See, I know Clark even better than I know myself. I do, I swear it! Like right now — I know that any moment now he's going to put his cup on the table and stand up.
There — he's getting to his feet. See? I was right.
And now he's going to take a deep breath and say, "Well, I guess it's time I was getting home."
He takes a breath. "Well, I guess it's time I was going, Lois."
Well, okay, I can't get absolutely everything right, can I? I still knew he was going to leave.
And I'll get up too, just like I'm doing now, and walk to the door with him. And then we'll stop and look at each other just before he opens it. And I'll smile and say "Goodnight, Clark." And tonight I'll add, "I had a lot of fun tonight. It was a great movie."
And he'll smile too and say goodnight to me. "Yeah, it was great. The company helped, too," he says. I smile at that, knowing that he means it and knowing that he knows I feel the same way. "Goodnight, Lois," he adds.
This is the moment; it always happens now. We stand and look at each other, both obviously awkward. Clark swallows, as if there's something else he wants to say. But he never says it. And I feel, for just a second, as if we're swaying towards each other… as if one more second might lead to something more…
…and then Clark turns away, opens the door and, with another friendly smile and a wave, walks out and away.
And I close the door behind him, regret bleeding into my heart and my throat, making me swallow several times. I close my eyes, leaning back against the door, and promise myself that *next* time I'll do it. Next time I won't be so hesitant — so cowardly.
In those few seconds as we stare at each other, you see, I long for Clark to kiss me. Every time, the look in his eyes makes me think that he's going to; the way he seems to sway towards me, and me towards him, makes me believe that this time it's going to happen.
But it never does.
And I worked out a while ago why it doesn't — why it won't, or at least why Clark won't make it happen.
He's tried before, you see. Right when I first met him, he looked at me with that wide-open, admiring look I've never seen from him since. That look which said that he liked what he saw — that he more than liked it, that he was attracted to me. And I slapped him down; told him not to fall for me, that I didn't have time for it. I treated him like some adolescent with a crush.
Well, okay, that was only the first week I knew him, and I guess we've both put the way I treated him then behind us now. We've become best friends, and he knows that I love him.
I love him like a brother. That's what I told him, and that's what he believes, I guess. And he has no reason to suspect that there's anything more about my feelings for him.
Because he tried again. Last summer, when I was on the verge of making the biggest mistake of my life, the mistake which still makes me cringe and want to hide from everyone whenever I'm reminded of it. I got engaged to a modern-day Al Capone, only this one dressed in designer suits and ran most of the biggest, most profitable businesses in Metropolis. No-one knew that, behind the fa‡ade, he was also running most of the organised crime in the city.
And I got engaged to him.
But what was far, far worse than that is that when I was still thinking about Lex Luthor's proposal, Clark told me that he loved me. That he was *in* love with me. And I rejected him.
Sometimes I think that that rejection, and not the fact that I accepted Lex's proposal, was the biggest mistake of my life. I mean, I said no to Lex in the end, so I didn't end up married to him — but I lost Clark. I tried, after it all, to tell him that I loved him too, but he stopped me and told me that he'd lied that day in the park, that he loved me as a friend and would have said anything to stop me marrying Lex.
I pretended to believe him — what else could I do? I still had some pride left, after all. But I remember the way Clark looked at me that day he told me he loved me. And he wasn't lying. I may have been galactically stupid in a lot of ways when it comes to Clark, but knowing when he was being sincere was never one of them. Still isn't.
Clark wasn't lying that day. He lied when he told me he didn't love me. But by then it was too late. I'd hurt him badly, and he'd obviously decided that he wasn't going to give me a chance to hurt him again.
And that's why Clark will never be the one to make that first move — to kiss me goodnight. Even though I'm pretty sure that he wants it too.
So, if it's going to happen, then I'm going to have to do it. And that's what scares me witless.
If I kiss him and he pushes me away… what happens to our friendship? Can we ever retrieve it?
If I kiss him and he *doesn't* push me away… what then? We step off the safe haven of our friendship and into the unknown. Onto the shifting sands of a possible relationship… and my track record with relationships is *not* good. In fact, it's a history of federal disasters.
I couldn't survive if Clark became another federal disaster. I couldn't survive without my friend.
And I could lose him if he became my boyfriend… my lover.
But… is it possible to be both friends *and* lovers? I don't know, and the prospect of finding out is terrifying.
So that's why things will probably go on just as they are. Every time Clark's over here and he gets up to leave, I'll walk with him to the door, we'll say goodnight, and then we'll look at each other awkwardly. Longingly. And we'll sway slightly towards each other… and I'll do nothing at all. Then he'll move away. And leave.
And we'll continue being friends.
Until the day when Clark finds a girlfriend. And that's what scares me most of all, because I know for sure that I'll lose him then.
I'd have to be happy for him if that happened. Of course I would. He's the most decent man I've ever known, other than Perry. He's a sweetheart, though I'd never tell him that to his face. He's kind, generous, affectionate and great company, even if his jokes are lousy and he has a horrible habit of disappearing at inconvenient times.
But he only has to smile at me, and I go weak at the knees. I'd be his slave for life if he asked me.
Not that he's ever going to do that…
No; one of these days he'll find someone else — some gorgeous woman who worships him. Someone who never takes him for granted — unlike me. Someone who is sensible enough to recognise what a prize she has in Clark Kent and grab him with both hands.
I had my chance, and I blew it. The best thing I can do for Clark now is to let him find what he needs — what I'm sure he wants.
Even if it feels like my heart's being ripped out of my body when it happens.
I walk slowly down the steps leading out of Lois's apartment building, once more cursing myself for my cowardice. She was looking at me again with that expression in her eyes — the one which my imagination tells me is saying 'please kiss me'. I even let myself sway towards her tonight — I was two inches away from kissing her. But I just couldn't do it.
Couldn't bring myself to lower my head one more inch; to take that final half-step towards her, and brush her lips with mine.
It's not that I don't want to. Far from it! There is nothing in this world that I want more than to be able to kiss Lois and know that she wants me to kiss her, that she's kissing me back and that she wants me too.
But she's my best friend. And she's made it clear enough times that she isn't interested in me that way. Oh, sure, she loves me — but like a brother. Oh, how sick I am of hearing that!
I love her. But she's my best friend. And if I overstep the line in the sand which she's drawn for us, then I'll lose her. And I couldn't bear that.
So, every night, I smile and I say goodnight, and I leave before I'm tempted to do something irrevocable.
Like take her up on the invitation I think I see in her eyes… and kiss her.
It wouldn't even have to be a real kiss!
All I'd have to do would be to touch my lips to hers. That's all. The merest touch. Just one friend saying goodnight to each other. Okay, the nearest we've ever come to that sort of intimacy — when we weren't trying to throw someone off the scent, and other than that time I quit the Planet and kissed her goodbye — is kissing on the cheek.
But still, we are close friends. Very close — in fact, as close as we could be without also dating each other. We touch all the time. I held her hand for ages tonight at the movie — I know she wasn't really scared, but she seemed to like me holding it, and I certainly liked it too. We walk arm-in-arm sometimes, and we hug frequently.
So what's the big deal about a little kiss on the lips? A gentle, little more than platonic, brush of lips against lips? If she doesn't want to read any more into it than that, there's no harm done. I've given nothing away, and we can still be friends.
But if she does want more… well, all she has to do is kiss me back.
I've told myself this a thousand times or more. And yet every night we're together I do exactly the same thing. I sit beside her on her sofa — or mine — and tell myself that *tonight* I'll do something. Make a move. I'll move closer to her, maybe touch her lightly on her hand or her arm, and see how she reacts.
She might pull away. She might look at me quizzically and ask what I'm doing. But she could — and in my dreams she does — look at me with a soft, encouraging smile and sway towards me. And then I'd know. And the kiss we share would be sweeter than the purest nectar.
But I never do it. Every night when I'm sitting there next to her, I simply lose my nerve.
It's just the same every time I get up to go, or she gets up to go. I tell myself that *tonight* I'll give her a goodnight kiss. Just a simple kiss. It won't be at all difficult; all I have to do is to take that little step closer to her, tilt her chin with my fingers, and touch my lips to hers. Simple. Hardly scary at all.
And yet it's the scariest idea imaginable.
And so every night when I get up to leave, I just say goodbye, give her a little wave, and close the door behind me. And then curse myself for being such a coward.
I'm the most powerful being on Earth, and yet when I'm faced with Lois Lane I'm a gibbering wreck.
I reach the bottom of the steps and tilt my head to look up at the night sky. It's a clear night, and the stars are out; I pick out the constellations one by one, naming them in my head and identifying each star individually. It's a soothing activity, and it takes my mind off the crushing feeling of disappointment and self-disgust I feel every time I leave Lois's apartment without even trying to let her know how I feel.
Soothing, hah! I'm procrastinating, that's all. Delaying the moment when I have to go home to my apartment — my empty apartment. I'd be better off flying a patrol, and I need to do that anyway. And yet somehow I can't tear myself away from the street outside Lois's apartment.
Because she's in there. Because, even though I'm not with her, I'm at least close to her.
I'm an idiot. Worse, I'm verging on a stalker! I need to go home.
I need to get a life! To stop mooning over Lois Lane, a woman who doesn't love me the way I love her.
I need to stop being a coward. I have to either give up hoping for more with her, or else *tell* her what I want and see what she says. I *know* that I have to do that. But no matter how many times I tell myself this, I still end up saying goodnight and leaving every time.
I'm afraid of what she'll say if I do tell her. Or if I just kiss her. But I'm also afraid of what will happen if I don't. She got engaged to someone else once. It could easily happen again. And if I haven't even tried to tell her how I feel…
And of course now I know why I'm hanging around Lois's apartment building like some lovesick schoolboy. I'm trying to pluck up the courage to go back in and tell her how I feel. To take her in my arms and kiss her. To tell her that I love her and that I want her as more than a friend.
I pause and look up towards the door. It's only a few feet away, and yet it feels like it's a ten-mile trek — uphill, in boggy ground and against a gale-force wind. Not that any of that would really cause me problems, but you know what I mean.
I'm the strongest man in the world, and yet one woman — one slender, beautiful woman — has the power to make me collapse in a heap at her feet.
All she has to do is smile at me, and I'm a quivering mass of goo who will do anything she asks. And the faintest sign of a tear in her eye makes me want to fly up to the stars and lay the brightest at her feet.
What's stopping me from going home right now is that ten minutes ago I was with her. I was in her apartment, sitting beside her. I had a chance to say something. I had a chance to kiss her goodnight — and I blew it.
We were so close to it. We were standing there together, looking at each other, when our smiles turned to… something else. Awareness, I guess you'd call it. At least, that's what it was on my part. I was completely, totally aware of her with every inch of me. All my senses were focused on her. I think that if someone had called for Superman right then, I'd never have heard them.
And I swayed towards her. I know I did. My overactive imagination is even telling me that she swayed towards me too — but I know that can't be true.
I almost did it. I almost kissed her. I wanted to; I was fighting with myself not to yank her into my arms and kiss her senseless. If I was going to kiss her, I kept telling myself, it would have to be gentle and tentative. To make sure that I wasn't reading the signals all wrong.
And I was actually getting ready to do it… and then I chickened out.
I smash my fist against the railings. And then I have to pull the metal back into shape and weld it with my heat vision. That was an exercise in futility, all right.
It really is time that I went home.
Ten minutes after Clark left, I'm still standing leaning against the door-frame, head bowed; I haven't moved. Something wet lands on the back of my hand, and I realise that it is a tear.
Why is tonight somehow worse than all the other times? It's not as if I've never had these regrets before. My life these days seems to consist of missed opportunities with Clark.
And yet tonight is worse.
Oh, it's not as if there won't be other chances. He's my best friend. Of course we'll have more evenings together and there'll be another time when I can take my courage between both hands and do what I need to do.
I've noticed how that bottle-blonde Assistant DA looks at him. She wouldn't let him go home without demanding a goodnight kiss.
This is crazy. I'm one of the most assertive women I know. They call me Mad Dog Lane in the profession. And yet I can't pluck up the courage to show my best friend that I'd like him to be more than a friend.
I can't let this go on any longer.
I move resolutely away from the door. It's after midnight, and I should be in bed.
Instead, I pick up my car keys. It's time to do what I should have done long ago.
Walking towards the building exit, I start rehearsing the words I'll need to say. He'll be at home; he's had time to walk there by now. He should just have got back, so at least I don't have to worry about getting him out of bed. I need to tell him…
… tell him what?
I don't know. I work with words every day, and yet when I need words to express what I feel, what I want, I'm at a loss.
I love you, Clark. So hard to say… and so liable to misinterpretation, too. After all, he knows that I love him. As a friend… as a brother.
I'm in love with you, Clark. Even harder to say, though there's no room for misunderstanding with that one. There's still every chance that he'll think I've lost my mind.
And yet I do think that he's in love with me. I'm sure of it…
… aren't I?
But, no matter how convinced I think I am that he lied when he said he didn't love me, there's still room for doubt. And I couldn't bear to be wrong about this.
So… does that mean that I shouldn't do anything? I glance down at the keys in my hand, as if expecting them to give me an answer. And all I see in my mind is Clark, gazing at me in that long moment of stillness, of awareness, before he said goodnight. And my conviction that he wanted to kiss me too.
Kiss me, Clark. I could say that, couldn't I? Though there's every chance that he'll think I've gone crazy then, too.
Hmm. Maybe I should forget about words altogether. Action; that's it. I won't say a thing. I'll just grab him and kiss him.
My shoulders slump. As if I could really see myself doing that!
And yet, I tell myself, I have to do something. It's either that, or see Clark dating Ms Creepy-Crawly Drake in a week's time. She's not the kind of woman who hides shyly in a corner and waits for a man to notice her. No; she picks out her man, stalks him and lets him know exactly what she wants. She'd never pace around the lobby of her apartment building trying to decide whether or not she had the courage to tell a man that she had feelings for him! No, that kind of woman just goes after him.
She'd never have let Clark get out of the door in the first place!
But Clark wouldn't be attracted to someone that *obvious*, would he? I ask myself.
How do you know? I answer back.
I don't. And if I don't do something about it, I may be about to find out, I remind myself. Thus newly encouraged, I walk briskly out the door and down the steps.
Okay. I really am going home. Now.
I have no idea what I am doing still outside Lois's apartment building. If any of her neighbours has seen me hanging around, I'm going to get arrested for loitering with intent or something. And that will be embarrassing when I have to call Lois to vouch for me.
I instruct my feet to start walking in the direction of *my* apartment. But somehow they don't seem to want to respond. Instead, they turn and lead me back to the bottom of the steps of Lois's building.
To do… what, precisely? Go back inside? Play the caveman, march back up to Lois's apartment, bang on the door and tell her that I forgot something — and then kiss her senseless?
I could do that. And maybe, just maybe, she might kiss me back. The way she was looking at me earlier… I could almost imagine that she was just waiting for me to kiss her. And so she might kiss me back, and we'd find heaven in each other's arms. And I could tell her that I love her.
Oh yeah; wonderful fantasy.
Not a chance of it becoming reality. I can imagine it now: I'd reach for her, and she'd threaten to use some of her Tae Kwon Do on me and then not speak to me for a week. Quite apart from whether Lois actually wants me to kiss her — which is still a very moot point — she hates caveman tactics.
I pull a face, and turn around. I have to go home. Better still, I should just nip into that alley at the end of the block, do a quick change, and get patrolling. That will help me take my mind off Lois… for a while, at least.
There'll be another time — maybe. Maybe one of these days I'll find an opportunity to tell her how I feel. Or she'll give me some kind of sign that she wants more than we have.
At least, I can dream…
I spin around on my heel again. That was Lois… but where is she?
And then I see her; she's on the steps, without a coat, just looking at me as if she can't believe what she's seeing. I can't blame her; I mean, she saw me out of her apartment fifteen minutes ago. What am I still doing here?
Oh god, she's going to think I'm crazy! Or a stalker. Or worse…
"Clark? I was just going over to see you…" She trails off uncertainly as she comes close to the bottom of the steps and I go back over to meet her.
I blink. "You were?"
Then sanity reasserts itself. Obviously she forgot something important that she wanted to discuss with me, something about one of our current stories. Or maybe — more likely, in fact — she just got a call from a source and it's about something she thinks we need to rush off and investigate right now. Of course that's it; that would explain her clearly being in a hurry. It's not as if she'd be coming after me for any other reason.
She looks so beautiful… Her hair is dishevelled, as if she's been running her fingers distractedly through it, and she's biting her lip in that nervous way she has sometimes. And I love her even more as I look at her.
"So, what's up, partner?" I ask, keeping my voice light, endeavouring to give her no reason to guess at anything of what I've been feeling.
"Clark," she repeats, and extends a hand slowly towards me. I take it in my own, completely at a loss to understand what's going on. She isn't rushing into speech, telling me at a pace even the best court stenographer would have difficulty keeping up with just what the new development is and why we have to hurry off somewhere to do something about it.
In fact, she's not saying anything. She's just looking at me and swallowing, her brown eyes seeming twice as large and luminous as usual.
She looks incredibly vulnerable, standing there two steps from the bottom. And her hand is trembling in mine.
"Lois? Is something wrong?" I ask gently, beginning to be afraid that she's had some bad news.
"No… yes," she amends, faltering over her words.
"What is it?" I ask, concerned, wanting to help. I'd do anything for Lois, and I hope she knows it. "What can I do?"
"Just… just stay right where you are," she instructs, her voice a little stronger now. "Clark, I…"
Then she stops speaking and places her free hand on my shoulder. Our faces are on a level, and she leans a little towards me. I can see the flecks in her eyes, and I can see uncertainty and even terror in her expression. I'm confused — something must have happened to make her react like this, and yet she's acting really strangely. If something terrible had happened, she'd have flung herself into my arms. I know that; she's done it often enough. And yet she's standing here, one hand in mine, the other on my shoulder.
And then she moves. Like gossamer, her lips brush mine. And I tremble from head to toe.
Then she pulls back before I can draw her closer. And I am bereft.
"Lois?" I ask, confused, wanting to know… barely daring to hope.
"Clark," she whispers.
"What do you want, Lois? What can I do?"
Her grip on my hand becomes tighter; her face is pale. The only way I can describe her behaviour is that it's as if she's reaching for something, but she's afraid that it's about to slip from her grasp at any moment.
"I want…" She falters again. I squeeze her hand encouragingly, barely able to breathe as I hope, dream, pray that she wants what I'm actually daring to imagine she wants.
"Yes, Lois?" I say, almost breathlessly.
"…you, Clark. This… I want this."
And her lips touch mine again, and this time she doesn't pull away.
"Lois," I murmur against her mouth. I'm lost and can't think straight. All I can do is kiss her back, tugging her closer to me and wrapping my arms around her.
She is the woman I love. She is in my arms and she is kissing me.
Breathless, dizzy, incredulous, I'm swept away by passion. The world fades away until all that remains is Lois.
Lois. In my arms and on my lips. Lois, kissing me.
I did it!
And he didn't reject me. He didn't play the polite, caring friend.
I can barely believe it… and yet I have to believe it, because he is holding me. His arms are around me, and he is holding me against him as he's done so many times before… and yet like never before. Because this is different.
He is kissing me. No, we're kissing each other.
I was terrified when I reached up to kiss him the first time. I think I knew that he wouldn't pull away; we're too close, too much good friends for him to do that. But I was afraid that he'd draw back carefully afterwards, tactfully change the subject, or give me a gentle and very platonic hug, and then say goodnight again.
But he didn't. I felt his surprise, but there was something more — although I pulled back quickly out of fear that I might have done something stupid, I saw the look in his eyes.
And I saw his lips shift, as if he'd been about to kiss me back.
Then I began to hope. But I was still scared — scared of losing my friend, scared that the step I was about to take into the unfamiliar would destroy something which is very precious to me.
And then… then, when he smiled encouragingly at me, when he squeezed my hand and I looked into his eyes and saw what seemed to be there, I wasn't scared any more. His eyes told me that he wanted it too; that he was waiting for me to make the next move.
And when I kissed him again, I knew that I hadn't been wrong.
He wants me too. He wants *this* too — this joining of lips and senses and hearts beating as one.
He's holding me — but his arms move, and his hands enfold mine, fingers entwining themselves with mine. His lips are parted over mine, and we are learning each other as fully as we can out on the street, fully clothed.
My friend. Clark. My best friend… my… lover?
The man I love.
He lifts his head, and I fancy that the dazed look in his eyes must mirror my own. "Lois," he breathes, and my name on his lips makes me shiver.
"Clark," is all I can say in return. But I squeeze his hands.
He laughs, a joyful, merry sound. And I understand, because that's exactly how I feel too. Life is wonderful. The world is beautiful. And everything is perfect.
He dips his head slightly, resting his forehead against mine. We've stood like this before, and the memory comes back to me: at his parents' farm, just after Trask tried to shoot him and Rachel killed Trask instead. We clung to each other then and our foreheads met just like this.
How did I not know then that I loved this man?
By silent, mutual consent, we turn and walk, arms around each other, back up the steps and to my apartment. I shut the door and deliberately slide all the locks and chains into place. He gives me a quizzical look, which vanishes as soon as I smile shyly at him.
And then we're in each other's arms again, and our lips are clinging once more.
I can't get enough of her. Her body is pressed against mine, this woman who is at once so familiar and yet so new, offering so many things to learn about her. I could stand here holding her, kissing her all night.
Yet we need to talk too, I recognise while stroking her hair, loving the feel of the silken strands as they slide through my fingers. She kissed me of her own accord; she made it clear that she wanted to kiss me. But what more does she want?
I don't just mean the fact that she locked and bolted her door with me on the inside, although that in itself raises intriguing — and terrifying — prospects. I mean that I need to know whether she wants anything more than tonight, than the here and now.
I love her. I don't want a one-night stand. Or even just one evening of sweet kisses. I don't want to have to pretend that this never happened; to go back to working with her and being her best friend and pretending that I don't want more from her. I've done that for too long as it is. And after tonight I'm never going to be able to do it again.
I draw back gently, still holding her but catching her gaze and trying to make her understand that I want to talk.
She frees one hand and strokes my face. "Clark… oh, Clark, why have we wasted so much time?"
I cover her hand with mine, hope surging through me again at her words. She wants more, too…
"Lois, it's not wasted time," I tell her, and I mean it. "It's time we spent getting to know each other, better than we know anyone else in the world. Time we spent…"
"…falling in love," she finishes. And then she catches her breath and her eyes widen. "Did I say that?"
"Yes." I smile. "You did. And you're right. I've been falling in love with you ever since we met. I've been *in* love with you ever since we met. But the time really wasn't right before, was it?"
She shakes her head. "No, it wasn't. Because *I* wasn't ready… I didn't know how I felt, and I was confused… But you're right. I needed that time to learn you, and to learn that I love you."
"As I love you." I lower my head again, claiming her lips for one more sweet kiss.
"Clark." She breaks the kiss to look enquiringly at me. "Why were you still there? Outside, I mean? I thought I was going to have to follow you to your apartment."
I blush. "I… couldn't leave, Lois. I was fighting with myself, because I wanted to do exactly what you did. I hated myself for leaving the way I did, for not having the courage to… to…"
"To kiss me?" she finished, her voice teasing.
"Yeah." I bend and kiss the smile on her lips.
"And I hated myself for letting you go. So… I came after you."
I enfold her in my arms, and she lays her head against my shoulder. "And you caught me," I tell her. "And I caught you — and I'm not going to let you go."
"Good," she murmurs. And then neither of us say anything else for a long time.
I slowly return to awareness of my surroundings some time later. We're on the couch — just how did we get there? — and my clothes are dishevelled. As for Clark, his hair's ruffled, his shirt's unbuttoned and his shoes are halfway across the room. I have no idea how his glasses have managed to stay put!
"Hey," he says softly. "You know, you look even more beautiful like that."
I laugh, knowing that I'm blushing. "You look pretty good too. Good enough to eat, Clark Kent."
He blushes too, ducking his head. Then he shifts on the sofa, and has to grab onto the back to prevent himself falling to the floor. "I always said these couches weren't the most comfortable in the world," he says, pulling a face.
"Yeah," I agree. "Why don't we move to the bedroom?"
The bedroom. I hear my words just as I say them, and catch my breath, knowing what Clark will think I meant. After all, I did lock the door as we came in. And yet I wasn't thinking of… I mean, not that I wouldn't *like* — well, at least I hope I would. But going to bed with Clark? I mean *making love* with Clark? That wasn't really what I had in mind.
But will he think that I'm not being fair if I say no now?
"Lois." Clark strokes my face. "I'm not sure… I mean, aren't we moving this a little too fast? I'd love to… but can we take things a little slower?"
Oh, he does understand! "Clark, I'm so glad you said that! I didn't mean that suggestion the way it sounded — it's just that I'd love to be able to kiss and cuddle some more, and my bed… well, it's more comfortable than this couch."
He laughs. "That's true!" He hugs me again, then threads his fingers through my hair. "You're sure? You sure you wouldn't prefer me to go home and let you get some sleep?"
"I'm very sure!" I exclaim, grabbing at his shoulders. "You're going nowhere, buster!"
"Except to your bedroom, it seems," he teases.
"Exactly!" I hesitate, because there's something else I'd love to ask him, but I'm feeling unaccountably shy again. "Clark, would you… uh, how about… why don't you stay here tonight?" I finally manage to ask.
He raises an eyebrow. "On this couch, you mean?" He sounds disbelieving, yet teasing at the same time.
"I'd just love it if you'd hold me all night," I tell him, and it's true. This is so new, and I'm so nervous still. Part of me is afraid that I'll wake up in the morning and realise that it was all a dream. That Clark and I are still just friends; that I've still never had the courage to be daring.
He smiles again. "Right now, I can't think of anything I'd like more."
I'm about to get to my feet to lead the way to my bedroom. But Clark stops me. "Let me, sweetheart," he murmurs.
I relax as he slides me onto his lap and into his arms again. Sliding my arms around his neck and nuzzling his jaw, I wait for him to stand and carry me into the bedroom.
We're moving. But he hasn't stood up; I'm still on his lap and he's still cuddling me while dropping kisses onto my hair.
I jerk my head back and look around. We're just passing my bedroom door.
"Yes, sweetheart?" He's smiling, I can tell. The joke's on me, I guess; I rejected Clark for Superman once before, and they were the same man all along. I should be mad…
… and yet he didn't have to tell me now. He did it because, I guess, he didn't want any more barriers between us. And I don't either.
I love Clark. He's my best friend. He's the man that I love. And I know that he loves me too.
But still, I can't resist getting at least one jab in. "You've got a lot of explaining to do, *sweetheart*," I tell him, but I give him a wink at the same time.
"I'll spend the rest of my life explaining to you, if you like," he promises, laying me gently on the bed before floating down to lie beside me. As he does, he removes his glasses, laying them on the nightstand. It feels like a gesture of trust.
"I think I like the sound of that," I murmur, before reaching up to take his face between my palms and kissing him again.
"Lois," he breathes, kissing me deeply. Then he breaks away, pulling back to gaze down at me, his brown eyes intent. "You've been my friend almost since we met," he says softly. "You've become the most important person in my life."
"Me too," I interrupt to tell him. "I can't imagine my life without you. You just make my life make sense. And that's why I was so scared to tell you how I feel about you — if I'd lost your friendship, I'd have been stranded. You're my anchor, Clark."
"And you are mine," he says, his words holding the force of a vow. "But, Lois, there's nothing to say that we can't be both friends and… more. I'll never stop being your friend."
"And I'll never stop being yours. Or loving you," I tell him. "Friends… and lovers, Clark."
He wraps his arms around me, tugging me over to lie cradled against his chest. "Friends and lovers. The best of both worlds."
It is. I couldn't ask for anything better.
I reach up and kiss him again.
*And I'll be your friend
And I'll be your lover
Cause we know in our hearts we agree
We don't have to be one or the other
We can be both to each other.*
From 'Friends and Lovers', performed in 1986 by Carl Anderson and Gloria Loring