By Missy Gallant <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: November 2003
Summary: It's Christmas and Cat Grant has decided to hang mistletoe in the newsroom. How will Lois react?
Lois Lane watched with trepidation as Cat Grant balanced precariously on a chair in the break area. Her tight skirt barely covered the essential parts of her upper legs, Lois noted while frowning at all the male counterparts in the office as they stared at Cat's activities with great interest.
Just another attempt to flaunt all her assets, Lois thought. Not that Cat needed to stand on a chair to draw attention to herself, but her attire — or any derivatives thereof — could have had a flashing neon sign embroidered in it and she still wouldn't have received any less attention.
She frowned, realizing that her coffee supply was going to be cut off for the next few days until all this disgusting behavior ran its pathetic course. There was no way she was even going to put herself in a situation to be caught under that weed. No telling where it came from, or if it was bug-infested. Maybe she should talk to Perry about it. No one was going to want insects swimming in their beverages or as unwanted sprinkles on their donuts. Mistletoe was just bad news all around.
With any luck, Perry would ban it from the newsroom. No self-respecting journalist would be caught puckering under that stuff anyway. Hopefully, she could avoid the break area and still get her coffee by either ordering Jimmy to get it for her or asking Clark.
Speaking of Clark, she hadn't seen him all morning. It was funny how she was noticing his presence, or lack of it, almost as soon as she arrived at work now. She could always suggest that he grab a cup for both of them at Daryl's Coffee Cart before coming to work for the next couple days. Somehow she didn't want to see her partner caught up in Cat's games.
She eyed her empty cup and sighed. Clark had better get here soon or it was going to be a long morning.
For the rest of the day, Lois watched the newsroom, or the bolder of the bunch, fall all over themselves making trips to the break area. Cat was literally stalking that section of the newsroom, having nailed three victims in the course of the day.
Clark had been in and out a couple of times during the afternoon. After typing up a brief article, he'd made a quick trip to Perry's office and had left again. So much for his support in this entire circus.
Perry had been a disappointment also. He'd bellowed for a moment after seeing the mistletoe, but immediately followed his outburst with a hearty laugh. As long as the newsroom flowed without too much disruption, it could stay.
Feeling a familiar presence nearby, she looked up and found her recalcitrant partner eyeing her curiously.
"What's with all the frowning? Source skip out on you?" Clark grinned down at her, as he sat at a more equal level on the edge of her desk.
She waved her hand in the general direction of the coffee break area and shrugged her shoulder.
"Bah, humbug!" she snorted in disgust.
"Grounds in your coffee again?" Clark asked, nonchalantly while registering her discontent in his mind.
She showed him her empty coffee cup, then retorted, "How would I know? Haven't had a cup since Cat put up that disgusting weed."
"Oh, the mistletoe," Clark probed gently. "I take it you don't care for it."
"I mean…" she said, waving her cup wildly. "…it's not that I want to dislike mistletoe, but I just do." Sputtering defensively, she continued, "Another senseless custom designed to embarrass the person who doesn't have a significant other by… carrying out a consensual display of spit swapping."
"Spit swapping?" Clark grinned. "Lois, your sentiment touches me."
They both watched as Cat sized up her next victim, Steve Sanchez, then lay one on her more than willing participant. The next round of catcalls and whoops sounded through the newsroom, then died quietly as the workers returned to their tasks.
"Well, it's true. That isn't kissing," she stated, her voice dropping a bit lower with the next words. "Not the way I imagine it should be."
Clark's heart leapt to his throat. He'd never heard Lois talk to candidly about something so personal — at least in that sort of a romantic sense.
His next thought slipped out without realizing he was thinking out loud. "So how do you imagine kissing should be?"
She threw her hands in the air. "I don't know, Clark. How do you imagine it? Like a lip lock behind the Tasty Freeze or…" She made quotation marks in the air with her fingers. "…a smoochie in the hayloft?"
Clark raised his eyebrows at her, then grinned. "Hmmm, smoochies in the hayloft… Can't get much better than that."
Lois felt her jaw grow slack. Clark in the hayloft with some… some trollop? Somehow the image of her clean cut, sometimes innocent partner didn't fit with hay and high school kisses. It would have had to have been in high school, wouldn't it? Surely he didn't take women back to the farm just to kiss them in the hayloft.
The only time she could remember him taking someone home to Kansas was when he took her a few months back. Not one of his friends at the Corn Festival mentioned anything about barns. Perhaps they wouldn't in front of her — seemed like more than one of Clark acquaintances assumed that they were an item. They did seem quite pleased that Clark had brought someone home from the big city. Sort of like it wasn't an everyday occurrence for him to do that sort of thing — like she had been something special.
Remembering that Clark was still perching on her desk, she glanced up at him and caught an unfamiliar look on his face. It quickly reverted back to his impish grin.
"Why, Clark! You *are* a hayseed at heart! Dress him up and shove him in the city, yet he still craves hay." She patted his arm reassuringly. "Don't worry; I'll buy you a bale of hay for your apartment."
Throwing all caution to the wind and counting on the light-hearted conversation they were sharing to help ease the moment, he asked, "So does a smooch come with that hay? I would think you'd want to appreciate the finer things in life."
"Dream on, Kent! I just can't have you homesick now, can I? But if you're real good, I might sit on it with you."
"Sounds like a deal to me."
She handed him her coffee cup. "I hate to throw you to the wolves, but Cat appears to have disappeared for a minute. Do you mind?"
"For hay, I'd do anything," he muttered as he slid off her desk, then braved the walk to the break area.
Lois smiled to herself as she watched her partner walk away. She just might have to bring over that hay bale sometime.
The next morning was Christmas Eve, and Lois came prepared for battle. She wasn't going to be deprived of her coffee or her dignity. In a sense, she wasn't going to back down from any lowlife trying to kiss her unaware.
She decided to see if everyone was still as preoccupied as yesterday with the silly mistletoe before filling her mug. Sure enough, more people were frequenting the break area than yesterday. Single men had brought the most delicious looking chocolate desserts and pastries. Holiday cookies and treats were overflowing on the small table next to the coffee maker. One woman had even cooked a roast, Lois noted with disgust.
Bait. It was all bait.
And Clark wasn't around — again. She had no desire to wait to see what time he would decide to show up. Still, this was rather ridiculous that she couldn't get a cup of coffee without being mauled. But she wasn't Mad Dog Lane for nothing! Pushing her chair away from her desk, she smiled silently to herself. In the elevator, she had prepared for this moment and was ready for any scumbag who decided that she was fair game.
Lois walked boldly up to the break area and grabbed a plate, preparing to load it with delicious looking treats. Her posture just dared anyone to approach her; all eyes were focused on her, yet one pair had a gleam in them.
He silently walked up the steps to Lois, who was deliberately standing under the mistletoe. With a predatory leer, he said, "Lois, you're um… under the mistletoe. I think that means you need to kiss me."
Grinning broadly, Lois flashed a big smile at him and said, "Sure, Ralph. Come on, big boy!"
Ralph took one look at her face then backed away quickly. "I, uh, think I've got an urgent deadline. Later, Lane."
Without even a blink of an eye, Lois continued to fill her plate and her coffee mug. Things were working out perfectly.
Later that afternoon, Clark had returned to the newsroom with yet another article from Superman. Lois swore she didn't know how Clark got them. The guy was either very lucky or had some kind of psychic connection to Superman. Yet she was happy to see her partner back. Maybe she could grab him later and go source hunting. Somehow she couldn't see leaving him at the mercy of the lustful crowd. Not even his gaudy Santa Claus tie was enough to deter anyone from wanting to kiss him.
A few minutes ago, Lois had sent Clark to the corner store to get ice cream. One trip to the break area was enough for one day. She could have asked Clark, but she didn't want to give Cat an opportunity to get him alone. Cat had already tried once to corner Clark, but her very smart partner had skillfully wiggled out of her clutches and retreated hastily to his desk
Cat was at it again. Seemed that the break area was getting too much traffic so she decided to create an overflow section by hanging more mistletoe over the waiting area for the elevators. Once more, the newsroom was being exposed to her lack of clothing. This was definitely getting out of hand!
She walked over to the editor's office and found a note on his door. It simply said, 'Meeting with suits upstairs for Xmas bash. Gone for most of afternoon.' If Perry wasn't here to do anything about it, then she certainly could. There was no way her boss would put up with this behavior. Frankly, she was surprised that he allowed the mistletoe in the office in the first place. Guess there was no accounting for taste, even in the Christmas spirit.
By all appearances, this was the pheromone spray incident all over again. Someone had to try to control what was going on around here, or the news would never get written.
She walked over to Cat and jiggled the chair sharply. Cat shrieked in surprise; unfortunately, the mistletoe was already in place.
Lois looked Cat up and down. "Spreading more of yourself… uh, good cheer around, I see."
Cat scrambled down off the chair. "Lois, Lois. I would think you'd welcome a chance to grab some kisses for free. Who knows the last time you've been kissed properly by a man."
"Unlike you, Cat, who needs a cheap prop to get kissed, I don't care to lower myself to your standard. But wait a minute. You don't have any standards. Sorry for the slip."
"Lois, your insecurities are showing. Just face it! You're too scared to let yourself be seen any other way than as the prude you are. You don't have it in you to kiss anyone for the fun of it."
Just at that moment the elevator doors opened and Clark stepped out. Lois took the opportunity to jump on the chair and try to grab the mistletoe. Cat was slightly taller than Lois, so the reach was a bit further. To Lois' chagrin, she found herself falling, right into Clark's arms.
Directly under the mistletoe.
A small crowd had gathered around them by now. Anytime that Lois Lane and Cat Grant locked horns it was always a great show.
Cat smiled mischievously and said loudly for all to hear, "Bet you don't have it in you, Lois. I dare you to kiss Clark under the mistletoe."
Lois felt her jaw grow slack with shock. This was terrible! This was an absolutely no win situation. How dare Cat challenge her with a dare in front of everyone? If she backed down, Cat would win and if she kissed Clark, well, Cat would still win. So should she leave with her dignity intact, but with the reputation of an ice princess, or kiss Clark and be humiliated when she wouldn't feel a thing from his kiss?
Clark set her feet on the ground and Lois heard Cat laugh. Sudden determination and a bright idea flashed into her head. Who said she wouldn't kiss anyone for fun? And it was not like she hadn't kissed Clark before. She reached into her pocket and quickly brought the contents up to her mouth. Flashing a smile at Clark, she felt great satisfaction upon seeing the shocked look on his face.
"So partner, what do you say? Wanna smooch?"
Clark was thrown off guard for a second, but quickly tried to clear his head. Lois had stuck a pair of fake teeth in her mouth. Yellowed, with a couple of black spaces missing, they were totally disgusting looking. Now it was up to him to try to read her mind and figure out what Lois wanted him to do. Should he back down and pretend disgust at seeing the ugly teeth that Lois was wearing, or go with his true feelings and kiss her in spite of herself?
It was no contest. He grinned challengingly at Lois and quipped, "'Tis the season…"
The newsroom erupted in chants of "Go, Clark" and "Kiss her," and Lois felt her legs grow weak. This was it! Clark was going to kiss her in front of everyone. The gauntlet was thrown and there was no backing out now. It wasn't like the other times they had kissed. Even though this was for show, everyone would be watching and expecting something spectacular.
Clark ceremoniously wrapped his arms about her and dipped her, swinging her close to the ground and back up again. Grinning at her, he searched her face to make sure that he wasn't stepping over the line. Her eyes were twinkling at him, but the green flag was thrown when she winked at him.
Nothing could have prepared Lois for the maelstrom of emotions that came over her as Clark's lips touched hers. They were soft and gentle, yet felt like growing fire on hers. The catcalls and applause faded briefly in the background as Lois began to lose herself in her partner's arms. His embrace was molding her curves to his and she allowed her hands to freely run through his hair. This was for show, of course and she had to make it look good.
All too briefly, the kiss ended and Clark released Lois, and good-naturedly presented his partner with a wave of his hand. Composing herself without a beat, she flashed a toothy smile at the crowd and bowed with a flourish.
"Anyone else try that and I'll give him a Christmas present they'll never forget," Lois retorted as she stomped off to her desk.
After picking up the bag of ice cream lying on the floor, Clark shrugged his shoulders, dropped Lois' ice cream off at her desk without a word, and set to work at his computer.
The lights twinkled merrily on the Christmas tree as Clark packed his small bag to take to Smallville for the next evening. He was going to cover for the families at the Daily Planet tomorrow, then head on over to his folks for Christmas night. A couple of Superman appearances were in order for a few orphanages, but that was the extent of his plans. Yet, he couldn't keep his thoughts on Christmas. His mind kept playing over the scene that happened earlier that afternoon when he kissed Lois in front of everyone. Just like before when he kissed her for show in the hotel suite at the Lexor Hotel, he had felt Lois responding to his kiss — even if it were only for an instant.
But she hadn't said a word to him for the rest of the day. Lois had thrown herself in her work and had literally ignored everyone. When he decided to pack it up for the day, she had been on the telephone and waved him off with a patented smile.
It broke his heart to think he hadn't properly wished her a Merry Christmas. He had no idea what Lois was doing for the holiday. She hadn't told him what her plans were or even if she was going to work Christmas day.
A shout outside startled him out of his thoughts and he wondered who in the world it could be at this time of night. A quick peek through the door revealed Lois struggling to climb up his steps with huge bale of hay.
He opened the door and Lois charged in without a word, just a few grunts to accentuate her effort in wrestling with the hay.
"Never say I don't keep my word, rookie." She pushed the bale towards him and said, "Here, you're used to baling wires cutting into your hands. You take it."
Clark lifted the bale easily, then waited for Lois to storm into his apartment. She threw off her jacket and began to itch wildly, her hands flying in all directions. "You don't know how many places I visited who said they had hay and then it turned out to be some moldy, smelly lump of fodder? Sure hope you appreciate this."
Clark set the hay down by the Christmas tree, then raised his hands over Lois' back and began scratching it gently.
She moaned in appreciation and stood still as Clark's hands moved over her back, relieving her distress.
"Thanks," she said, after a few moments. "Sorry, for almost biting your head off, but I was going crazy."
"Have a seat," Clark said, hesitantly. "I'll get us some hot chocolate."
Lois sat down on the sofa next to the Christmas tree and watched Clark as he prepared two cups of steaming chocolate. Somehow sitting in her partner and newfound best friend's apartment seemed to make traipsing around the countryside worth the effort. Soft Christmas music was playing in the background and the lights were low. She always knew that Clark was a sentimental old softie, but it was nice to see that he was this way even in private, that he wasn't putting on any pretence in front of her.
Clark returned from the kitchen and put the mugs down on the coffee table. He smiled a quick thousand-watt smile at her before disappearing in the bedroom. He returned with a small blanket and spread it over the bale of hay
"Care to join me?" he asked as he sat down on the far end of the bale and sniffed appreciatively. "It smells wonderful! Where did you find hay in Metropolis?"
Lois eyed him a bit warily. If it were any other guy, she'd automatically be suspicious of his intentions. But Clark's posture wasn't anywhere near threatening. He was leaning back on one hand while holding his cup of hot chocolate with the other, sporting that friendly smile that she'd grown fond of. There was more than enough room for her to sit with him.
"I did say that I'd sit on it with you," she conceded as she sat down gingerly on the hay.
Clark placed his cup on the blanket, then pulled out a straw of hay and began playing with it. Pretending to study it closely, he asked, "Why did you go to all the trouble to buy hay for me? This was very sweet."
"Well, you did get me out of a tight spot with Cat this afternoon. It was the least I could do."
"Isn't that what partners are for? It says in my copy of the Partner Rule Handbook, Chapter 17, Section 8b, that partners are supposed to read minds and play along with their partners schemes at any and all times."
Lois grinned at him. "You make it sound like a terrible hardship to kiss me."
"Well, you were wearing those teeth," Clark reminded her.
"And you went above and beyond the duty of partner by laying your lips on me while I was wearing them." She suddenly squirmed. "Ouch! The itching is back!!"
Clark set both their cups down on the coffee table, then turned her shoulders so that she was facing away from him. He began to scratch her back gently again.
"How did you get hay inside your shirt?" he asked curiously.
She started scratching her upper arms furiously. "Some snotty little kid at the last place stuffed some up my shirt. I can't believe that some people's kids are so bratty."
Clark's hand closed over hers. "Here. Rub, don't scratch. You're going to break your skin that way."
His hand guided hers over her arm in a soothing pattern. "See how that works?"
"Yeah, thanks, Clark." She gripped his hand with hers and gave it a gentle squeeze, then sighed contentedly. "Much better."
Tentatively reaching out, Clark plucked a straw from her hair, very aware of the way their hands had found their way to rest on the hay without letting go.
"I forgot to thank you for coming to my rescue. I swear Cat just rubs my fur the wrong way. Every time I see her I want to have a large bathrobe handy, and the way she's always flaunting herself, it just irks me."
"With you in the room, Lois, I hardly notice," Clark whispered. Trying to recover before making a complete fool of himself, he continued, "Even with those teeth."
Lois blushed at his words. "I still can't believe you kissed me while I was wearing the teeth. You're a brave man, Kent." Her insides grew a bit heated remembering his kiss from earlier.
"Well, we're on a bale of hay."
She inhaled and sighed in content. "It does sort of smell rather nice. Probably lots better than kissing behind the Tasty Freeze."
"Ooo! It's so much better."
"How much better?"
"There's only one way to find out." Clark met her eyes and searched them deeply. They were warm and sparkling now — a side of Lois that she rarely let him see. Was Lois actually consenting to another kiss? This time without the crowd and ugly teeth and pretense of before.
She smiled, then leaned towards him. Quivering at the sweet tenderness of his lips, she parted her mouth tentatively and felt his tongue seeking entrance to hers. She squeezed his hand to encourage him.
The lights faded into the background as the new light of romance and the season filled their heads and hearts. Awash with the sensations of having Lois respond to his kiss, Clark explored her mouth reverently, savoring every touch and taste of the woman he loved.
They pulled apart slowly, their rapid breath fanning each other's faces. Clark squeezed her hand and then whispered, "Wow!"
"Yeah, wow!" Lois repeated, at loss for words.
"Merry smoochie to you, Lois," Clark said huskily.
Lois ducked her head and answered back, "Merry smoochie to you, too."
All of a sudden, the bale of hay broke apart, and they slid to the floor spreading the hay everywhere. After recovering from the surprise, she scooped up a handful of hay and tossed it at him. Clark laughed as the hay covered his chest, and landed on his hair and face.
Lois threw another round at him, then scrambled to her feet.
"Guess I'd better let you finish packing, farmboy. Hope you have a pitchfork in the closet to clean up this mess."
Clark grinned back. It seemed like their friendship hadn't skipped a beat. For the moment, he wasn't sure if that was good or bad, but was looking forward to finding out when the time was right.
"I'll be leaving tomorrow late afternoon right after work. I volunteered."
"You did?" she said, pleasantly surprised at his information. "Well, I did too. I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
Clark rose and walked her to the door. "I'll bring the checkers."
She looked at him curiously for a moment, then replied, "I'll bring the popcorn."
"Thanks again for coming and bringing the hay."
"Don't mention it and if you do, I'll rip out your spleen."
They paused by the doorway and Clark tucked a strand of hair behind her ears. Yes, things were changing between them, yet this time with Clark it seemed different. He was different, and her best friend. Somehow, spending Christmas working didn't feel as lonely as it had in the past. Plus, that mistletoe was probably still hanging up in the newsroom.
Standing on her tiptoes, she pressed a quick peck to his cheek. "Night, Clark."
"Sweet dreams, and I'll see you tomorrow."
"Oh, and wear the Santa tie again. I think I might be able to stomach it tomorrow." She turned away, got in her jeep and drove off.
Clark watched her leave, then returned inside. The sweet smell of hay was beginning to fill his apartment. Being raised on a farm did have its advantages. After grabbing another blanket and his pillow, he sunk down onto the hay for a goodnight's sleep — hopefully, full of Lois and Christmas smoochies.