By Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: June 2003
Summary: Lucy makes Lois stop and think about her relationship with Clark.
This story was written for my good friend Erin Klingler on her birthday. Hope you had a terrific day, Erin! Many thanks to Annette, Meredith and Kaethel for their terrific BRing, at very short notice. You're stars!
All rights to recognisable characters belong to DC Comics and Warner Brothers. No infringement of these rights is intended by their use in this work of fiction.
"I'm beginning to think that all the single men in Metropolis are single for a reason," Lucy grumbled, sipping the large mocha she'd ordered before Lois had even arrived at the coffee-shop her sister had suggested for their meeting.
Remembering some of Lucy's previous boyfriends, Lois couldn't help observing, "Maybe a break from men could be good for you." She flagged down the waiter and ordered a coffee with fat-free milk and artificial sweetener, to Lucy's look of disgust.
"Oh yeah, it's easy for you to talk!" Lucy scoffed. "You've got Clark!"
"I've *what*"? Lois stared at her sister, sure that she must have misunderstood.
"Clark! You know, that seriously good-looking guy you're with *all* the time? Your *boyfriend* Clark!"
Astounded, Lois shook her head. "He's not my boyfriend!"
"Uh-huh, sure," Lucy said, grinning broadly in a 'you can't fool me' expression.
"Lucy!" Lois exclaimed. "He *isn't*! We are *not* dating! He's my best friend, that's all!"
"Oh, come on, Lois! Quit pretending! I'm your sister, for cripes' sake!"
"Pretending?" A dangerous edge crept into Lois's voice, no matter how much she tried to fight it. All her promises to herself about not fighting with Lucy today weren't doing much good right at the moment.
"Pretending that you're 'just good friends'." Lucy made imaginary quote marks with her fingers. "Look, I can understand you wanting to keep it quiet at the Planet — you both work there, after all. But this is *me*!"
"Lucy, we are *not* dating! I'm not pretending anything! We are good friends. That's all!" Lois insisted again, getting increasingly frustrated. Of course Clark wasn't her boyfriend. He was her best friend. That was all!
Well, not that being her best friend wasn't important, because of course it was. In many ways, he meant far more to her than a boyfriend could, because he would always be her friend. He wasn't like the sort of man she'd dated in the past, the kind of guy she'd get bored with after three dates and dump. Nor was he like the men who had used her and discarded her. He would always be there for her.
But she didn't think of him as a boyfriend! And nor did he think of her as a girlfriend!
They'd never even kissed!
Well, not a real kiss, anyway. She couldn't count the kisses which had been part of an act to maintain their cover, could she? Of course she couldn't.
Even if they had been… well, wow.
"Lois, I don't know who you think you're kidding here," her sister announced. "But it sure isn't me! If you and Clark aren't dating, then you're doing a pretty good job of acting like you are."
"How?" Lois demanded indignantly.
Still looking sceptical, Lucy said, "Okay, take last week. Remember? You'd just proved that that guy Ryan you were at college with was still a jerk?"
Oh, Lois remembered all right! Molly hadn't spoken to her since, despite their near-death reconciliation. Clark's explanation for Molly's behaviour was that it was only because of Lois that Molly had been forced to confront the truth about Ryan, and that was why she didn't want to see Lois.
"But… but he deceived her! He lied! And he was responsible for plotting the deaths of hundreds of people! Heck, he would have killed *Molly*!" she'd pointed out to her partner.
"I know," Clark had agreed. "But sometimes people just don't want to know the truth… and there's some truth in that old clich‚ about shooting the messenger, isn't there?"
"Yes, I remember," Lois told Lucy, switching back to the present, her tone grumpy. "So what about it?"
"Don't you remember? We went bowling. You and me and Clark."
Lois shrugged. "Yeah, I remember. So what?"
"So you were all over him, all night, that's what!"
"I was not!"
"I *wasn't*!" she protested again.
"Oh no? Then why did you have your arm in his just walking from the parking lot to the bowling alley? And the whole evening you kept touching him. When he did well, you thumped him on the back. When he did badly, you patted his chest. And the first time you had a strike, you just threw yourself at him! And he obviously expected it — he caught you and swung you around, just like it was something you've done dozens of times before."
Lois stared at Lucy again. "So what? Like I said, we're friends! Friends do touch each other, in case you hadn't noticed."
"Yeah? You fed each other pizza afterwards!"
Lois was about to protest at that too, but she fell silent as she remembered that that was exactly what they'd done. She'd told Clark that his pepperoni pizza looked much nicer than her Hawaiian, and he'd picked up a triangle and fed it to her. And then, in return, she'd held out a piece of hers so that he could eat it.
She shrugged defensively. "You and I do that sometimes, Luce! It's not a big deal."
"If you say so, Lois…" Lucy rolled her eyes. "But that wasn't all, anyway. You insisted on dropping me off first and Clark second, even though my place is closer to yours than his. And why was that, unless you wanted to have Clark to yourself?"
"I… I…" Lois trailed off, realising that she was opening and shutting her mouth like a fish. The problem was, Lucy was right. She *had* dropped Lucy off first so that she could be alone with Clark.
It was just that she'd known that Clark would invite her in for coffee. And she really enjoyed those late-night chats they sometimes shared. They'd talk about all sorts of things — work, the journalism profession, politics, films, books they'd read; anything and everything, really. And she hadn't wanted Lucy there. It just wouldn't have been the same.
So, yes, she'd engineered things to have Clark to herself. But that didn't mean that they were more than friends. Of course it didn't!
<Does she think I wouldn't *know* if we were dating!> Lois muttered indignantly to herself.
"Lois, if you're really not dating Clark, then you're giving a darned good imitation of it!" Lucy said, grinning. "And if you're not, why the heck not? I don't think I've ever seen a couple more in tune with each other than you two are. You even finish each other's sentences!" She shrugged. "Your karmas must be perfectly aligned or something. You two just… well, you fit together, that's all."
"What, like an old shoe?" Lois said with a grimace. "You make it sound as if we're about as exciting as yesterday's oatmeal."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that at all!" Lucy teased. "I think Clark Kent has hidden depths. Besides being a very nice guy — and a hunk, too."
"Sure he is, Lois! Hadn't you noticed? Oh, no, I forgot — you're too busy mooning over Superman to see what's right under your nose!"
Irritated, Lois shook her head. "Of course I know Clark's good-looking! I was just surprised that you noticed. After all, he's nothing like your usual type."
"Oh, he's not my type at all," Lucy agreed. "Doesn't mean I can't appreciate him — in the abstract, I mean."
Taken aback by a surge of something which felt suspiciously like jealousy, Lois ignored her sister's remark, instead taking a big sip of her coffee. Then she had to cough and pat herself on the back as the hot liquid first almost scalded her and then went down the wrong way.
"Look, Lucy," she said, that hint of impatience back in her voice again. "We are *not* dating. And even if I was interested — which I'm not saying I am — he isn't!"
Lucy rolled her eyes. "What makes you say that?"
"Oh, come on, Luce! Don't you think he'd have said something before now if he was? Take my word for it — he isn't. That's all. And anyway, there's someone else."
"Someone else he's dating?" Lucy asked incredulously. "Like… *when*? He spends all his free time with you!"
"Not all," Lois corrected snappily. "He often has evenings when he's busy. I call his apartment and I only get his machine. And then when I ask later where he was he won't tell me. He just says he was out, or busy. So he probably sees her then."
"Who?" Lucy asked, still looking doubtful.
Lois pulled a face. "Mayson Drake, that's who."
"What? — that blonde DA who's so obvious she's almost climbing all over him?"
"Assistant DA," Lois corrected automatically. "And how do you know she's like that?"
"You told me," Lucy pointed out. "Don't you remember? It was just after some posh ball or other you went to. You said she muscled in on you and Clark and monopolised him all evening."
"Oh. Right." Lois grimaced again. "Yeah, that's her."
"And he's seeing her?"
"He has to be. She calls him at work all the time — I'm getting sick of taking messages from her. And he's had lunch with her at least twice in the last few weeks."
"Doesn't sound a lot for someone he's dating," Lucy objected. "And anyway, no girlfriend would accept her boyfriend seeing so much of another woman. There's no way she'd let you wander in and out of his place at all hours of the day and night, if he was dating someone."
That was true, Lois thought… if she was dating Clark, there wasn't a way on earth that she'd allow any other woman — and *particularly* not Mayson Drake — spend time socially with him.
"Lois, face facts," Lucy said. "Clark's not dating the Drake woman. The only woman he wants to date is you."
"Oh, come on, Lucy! Next you're gonna say that you know that because you read his horoscope or something!" Lois pulled a face at her sister.
"No, Lois. I know it because, although you may be incapable of seeing what's right in front of you, I see the way that guy looks at you. And, believe me, I'd kill to have a man look at me like that!"
Lois sat back against the bench-seat, stunned. Was Lucy serious? Did she even know what she was talking about?
*Clark* looked at her like… like what?
"How does he look at me?" she demanded.
"Like he's dying of thirst and you're the clear, fresh water. Like when he's with you he's got everything in the world he wants. Like you're the most precious possession he has — though, if you're telling me the truth," Lucy added scathingly, "then he doesn't have you."
"I am telling you the truth!" Lois protested.
*Clark* looked at her like that? Her partner? Her best friend? But he'd told her that he didn't love her. That he just wanted to be best friends again, the way they had been. He couldn't possibly look at her like that…
… or could he?
"Well, in that case, I'll just give you one piece of advice," Lucy said, draining her coffee-mug. "Don't let this one get away."
"Lucy, there's nothing to *let* get away!" Lois protested.
"Are you positive about that?"
Lucy didn't wait for an answer. Giving Lois a grin and a wink, she got to her feet. "Got to get back to work. See ya, sis!"
"Lucy thinks we're dating! Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?"
Clark halted in the act of making coffee and turned to stare at Lois. "Ridiculous?" he queried slowly.
"Oh!" Lois waved her hand impatiently. "I don't mean that in theory the idea that I might date you is ridiculous — I mean, obviously it's not. You're a man, and I'm a woman, and we have a lot in common, and I like you…"
"Don't knock yourself out, Lois," he responded dryly, unable to banish the moment of pain entirely. He shouldn't be hurt, he told himself. He shouldn't even be surprised. After all, he'd always known that Lois didn't love him. That she wasn't attracted to him, and she didn't want to go out with him. That wasn't news. So he shouldn't take it personally.
"I just meant that… well, I mean, we're not dating, so Lucy imagining that we were is just ridiculous. Isn't it?" she replied defensively.
Clark shrugged. "We do spend a lot of time together." At least as much time as they would if they really were dating. That was something he was well aware of.
And — not that he was going to tell Lois that — Lucy wasn't the only person to assume that their relationship was closer than it was. Mayson had assumed as much until Clark had explained the truth, although what he hadn't told Mayson was that he wanted more than friendship with Lois.
Chen Chow, his basketball buddy, had also assumed that Lois was his girlfriend, apparently based on the amount of times her name tended to crop up in Clark's conversation. He supposed that he did talk about her rather a lot.
"And we're very affectionate. I mean, we touch each other a lot," Lois added, and she ducked her head, avoiding his gaze.
"That's true," Clark agreed, watching her and waiting for her to look at him again. So, she was embarrassed at the thought of touching him? Interesting.
"And… well, she says we just seem comfortable together. Actually," she continued, now looking up at him, "that was almost kind of offensive. I mean, it was like we were just a pair of old slippers. I mean, it's hardly very exciting or passionate, is it?"
Clark leaned back against the counter and smiled slightly. "So that's what you're looking for, Lois, is it? Passion? Excitement?"
For a moment, he thought she was going to agree. But then she hesitated, biting her lip. Then she shook her head. "I think I've had enough excitement to last me for a while, you know, Clark. I mean… Lex Luthor gave me excitement, and look how that ended up."
Clark flinched inwardly, as he still did whenever the disgraced tycoon's name was mentioned. But at the same time, he thought that Lois's comment was very interesting. So Luthor had given her excitement… but not passion? Yes, fascinating.
"There's nothing wrong with being comfortable together," he observed casually. "I mean, look at my parents. You couldn't think of a couple more comfortable with each other — more in tune with each other. And yet you couldn't call them boring. Could you?"
"Martha and Jonathan? No, of course not!" Lois replied instantly. "Actually, I've always envied them. And you, of course, for being their son… But I've thought sometimes, looking at them, that they're each other's best friend as well as spouse. And I couldn't think of anything better than having my husband be my best friend too. I guess that's another reason why it would have never worked with Lex," she added with a shrug.
Clark remained where he was, waiting for Lois to realise just what she'd said.
She clapped her hand over her mouth suddenly. "Oh, god… I didn't mean… I mean, *you're* my best friend…"
"Yep," he agreed.
"But… I mean, we're just friends, aren't we? I didn't mean… Clark, I don't want you to think that I'm hinting at something… well, something that was never on our agenda," she stammered out semi-coherently.
He shrugged. "What was on our agenda? Did we ever rule anything out? Did we sign some sort of agreement, back when we became friends, that we could become this close and no further?"
"Yeah, well… But you said, last summer, that you weren't in l- I mean, that you just wanted to be friends."
Shaking his head, Clark said, "You'd been due to get married to someone else just three days earlier. You were still pretty shocked at the way all that had turned out. Was that the time to tell you that I still meant something I'd said out of desperation?"
"I… guess not," she said, sounding unsure of herself. "But, Clark, aren't you interested in Mayson?"
He laughed out loud. "Hey, I knew you were jealous!"
"I am not!"
"Lo-is." He raised an eyebrow in her direction. "I know you are. I've seen the way you look when her name's mentioned. And the glare you give me when you know I'm talking to her on the phone."
"Yeah?" She glared at him. "So now you know how you behaved when I was seeing Lex!"
"Yes, I was jealous," he conceded quietly. "He was seeing a woman I care about very much. He was getting to spend time with her that I couldn't have."
Lois's expression softened and she gave him a crooked smile. "That's exactly how I feel about you and Mayson."
That was definitely promising, Clark thought. For the first time in a long time, they were talking openly and frankly about their relationship… and they were making progress. Real progress. And he knew now that she wasn't indifferent to him.
"I'm not dating Mayson," Clark told her.
"You're not? I'm so glad!" She looked delighted for a moment, before she composed her expression. "I mean… well, I just never thought she was right for you, that's all."
He pushed away from the counter and came towards her. "And… maybe you are?"
She avoided his gaze. "I… I didn't say that…"
"But…" he prompted.
Looking defensive, Lois said, "Better than Mayson, anyway!"
"I was never interested in Mayson, Lois. Not romantically," Clark assured her.
She took a step towards him. "And… me?" The uncertainty in her eyes made his heart twist.
"Oh, Lois, I am *very* interested in you!" Clark said huskily.
"Really," he insisted. Taking one further step towards her, he enfolded her in his arms, holding her in a tight embrace.
She clung to him. But then after a minute or so she stirred. "Clark… I'm just not sure…"
He should have known that it was too much to hope for. Dropping his arms, he said, "Lois, if you don't want us to be more… if you don't love me…"
She stared at him and clutched at his hand. "Clark, of course I love you!"
"Like a brother. I know," he added quietly.
"No." She shook her head forcefully. "I love you, Clark. I'm *in* love with you. But… I'm scared."
Relieved, and allowing himself to hope again, he hugged her again, loving the feel of her soft body against his. "I love you, too, Lois. But what are you scared of? Not me, surely?"
She rested her head against his shoulder. "Not exactly. I guess I'm scared of intimacy."
He blinked. "Lois, I wasn't expecting… I mean, we could take it as slowly as you want! The last thing I'd try to do is rush you into bed!"
She tilted her head back to look at him, and he saw her blush prettily. "No, that's not what I meant. I mean… well, emotional intimacy, I guess. Ever since Claude, and Paul too, I guess, I've been scared of letting a guy get too close. If I let them get close to me, then they can hurt me." Shadows of remembered pain flashed in her eyes.
"Lois, how close am I to you, emotionally? How many of your secrets have you shared with me? Sweetheart, you already confide in me about just about everything. We already love each other. What's left to be scared of?" he asked her tenderly.
"I… guess… not much," she conceded hesitantly.
"You think I'm gonna date you for a while and then dump you when something better comes along, don't you?" He should feel angry to know that she trusted him so little. But he was beginning to understand even more clearly just how scarred Lois was by her past with men.
"No…" Her denial was unconvincing.
"Lois, don't lie to me," he said firmly.
"Okay. Yes, I am afraid that that's what'll happen."
"Good." He hugged her closer. "Whatever else happens, I want us to tell each other the truth. Now," he continued, "I could tell you that I'm not going to walk out on you like your father did. I could tell you that I won't use you and dump on you like Paul and Claude did. But the only way you're going to believe that I really mean it is by seeing for yourself. So I guess it's up to you, Lois. I trust you not to hurt me. You'll have to learn for yourself that you can trust me to show you the same respect."
He was right. It all boiled down to trust and respect, and Clark had won both from her a long time ago.
Moving from friends to lovers with him was simply a matter of extending the deep trust she already had for him to a deeper relationship. If any man deserved that trust, Clark did.
And she needed to tell him that.
"Clark." She smiled up at him. "I do trust you."
He frowned. "You don't have to say it just because I asked you to learn to trust me."
"No, I'm not." She shook her head. "What you said… well, it showed me that I already do trust you. And I love you."
His hand slid along her jawline and tilted her face up towards his. "I love you too," he murmured softly.
And then his lips touched hers.
And she understood then that all their previous kisses had been no more than a rehearsal for this moment: their first real kiss. His movements were initially tentative then, as she responded, more confident. Assertive.
Excitement. Passion. And her best friend — all rolled up in one. The perfect relationship.
Lois focused everything she had on their kiss, very thankful that she'd decided to try out Lucy's theory on Clark. If Clark really was interested in her, she'd reasoned, then he'd show some reaction when she told him that Lucy thought they were dating. It could just be the lever to the conversation they needed to have if they were to stop dancing around each other.
And it had worked even better than she'd ever imagined.
Sliding her arms up and around Clark's neck, she pulled him even closer to her and concentrated on showing him how much she loved him.
Some time later, Clark stirred and shifted slightly in his position on the couch, with Lois curled up beside him and held in his arms.
"You know," he said quietly as she smiled up at him, "this trust thing goes two ways. And I've just realised that although I've told you that I trust you, and that I need you to trust me, there's still a secret that I'm keeping from you."
Lois's eyes widened. "What secret?" she demanded suspiciously.
"Well, you know how you always wanted to fly with Superman?" he prompted.
"I have flown with him!"
"Yeah, I know. And very nice it was too." He smiled reminiscently.
"What?" She stared at him. And then she poked him in the chest. "Ow!" she exclaimed immediately.
He caught hold of her finger and gently raised it to his lips, dropping a soft kiss on the tip, not taking his gaze off her as he did so. He was rewarded by seeing a flush cover her face.
"Lois, I love you," he told her solemnly. "That's me, Clark. And me, Superman. We both love you. And that's my biggest secret of all — the one I've been most scared of you finding out."
"That you're Superman?" she said slowly, still clearly in shock.
He shook his head. "That wasn't half as scary as the thought of you finding out that I love you. At least, while I thought there was no chance that you'd ever feel the same way about me."
She gave him a long look. Then, after a lengthy silence, she said, "I should be mad at you for this, Clark Kent. I mean, you made me believe that there really were two different men…! But… I don't know. How can I be mad at you when you say such romantic things?"
"And when I love you so much? And if I promise to take you flying any time you want?" he asked, giving her his best imitation of a puppy-dog expression.
"Don't push it, Kent!" Lois grinned at him.
Unable to resist, he kissed her again.
When they could think sensibly again, Clark murmured into Lois's hair, "I guess we owe Lucy for all this."
"Yeah. For once that sister of mine was dead on," Lois agreed. "And if it wasn't for Lucy I'd never have brought the subject up."
"We need to do something for her," he suggested. "Any ideas?"
Lois shrugged, making her body shift deliciously against his. Giggling, she said, "The only thing she seems to want at the moment is a man."
Clark grinned. "Well, Jimmy's changed a lot since she went out with him last year. Why don't we invite them both to dinner?"
"Oh, a blind double-date!" Lois exclaimed. "Yep, that's exactly what Lucy deserves…"
Still laughing, they fell into each other's arms again, and seconds later their laughter was replaced with the sound of soft sighs and murmurs of happiness.
(c) Wendy Richards 2003