By Wendy Richards <email@example.com>
Submitted: December 2007
Summary: Why can't someone — anyone — write one *happy* Christmas song for someone who's single? Someone who's spending Christmas alone and happy about it?
Author's note: This is just a very brief toe back in the water of L&C fic — partly to see if I can still do it, and partly to wish a very Merry Christmas to you all.
She stands back, a sparkling red bauble in her hand, and studies the tree. There. No, there. No -
Stretching, she hangs the bauble at the end of a branch at eye-level, then stands back again. Perfect.
There's Christmas music on the stereo, the scent of pine from the tree and the scented candles around the room, and there's wine and egg-nog chilling in the fridge. Everything's ready for the perfect Christmas.
Except it's not really perfect, she admits, slumping down on the pristine white love-seat that's not uncomfortable at all, it's really not. What use is all of this — a beautifully-decorated apartment, seasonal music, Christmas dinner in the fridge all ready for cooking tomorrow — if she's got no-one to share it with?
Oh, who needs anyone else? She grabs the already-poured glass of wine sitting on her coffee-table and takes a gulp. *She* doesn't.
So what if her mom's off sunning herself on a St Pete's beach with her First Wives' Club divorcée friends? So what if her dad's too busy with the latest candidate for Mrs Dr Sam Lane? So what if Lucy just took off for California at about two seconds' notice? Who needs them anyway?
She doesn't. No way. It's *much* better here on her own.
She reaches for a chocolate — rich and decadent, just how she likes them — and washes it down with another sip of wine, then lays her head back and lets the seasonal music wash over her.
*I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams*
Damn! Damn, damn… Grabbing the remote control, she flicks the fast-forward button. Oh, yes, that's better. Much better.
*Rockin' around the Christmas tree
It's the Christmas party rock!*
That's more like it. Her foot taps, and she hums along to the music. This is good. This is going to be a great Christmas.
The music changes; *Let It Snow*, one of her favourites. The catchy tune's perfect for her mood, and she's singing along before she realises what she's actually saying.
*When we finally kiss goodnight,
How I'll hate going out in the storm!
But if you'll really hold me tight,
All the way home I'll be warm.*
Why is it that so many Christmas songs are for couples? Or families? Or lovers? Why can't someone — anyone — write one happy Christmas song for someone who's single? Someone who's spending Christmas alone and happy about it?
Oh, it's just not fair. In irritation, she clicks the power button on the remote control. There. It's gone. No more annoying music.
But now the room's silent; the only sounds she can hear are her fish-tank's oxygenating unit and faint traffic noises drifting up from the street below.
Television. That works. There's bound to be something good on.
She finds a network channel. It's showing *A Wonderful Life*. All love and marriage and family. She clicks past it. *Home Alone*. Annoying little kid and families getting together for Christmas.
Another click. *How The Grinch Stole Christmas*. Now, that's more like it! Cast-out, lonely being showing everyone how it feels not to fit in to their commercialised, family-loving celebrations. She begins to watch, but then remembers the ending. "Bah, humbug," she mutters, clicking to another channel.
"Oh, god. Not *White Christmas*!" She turns the TV off, then throws the remote aside and reaches for her wine instead. But she puts it down again without taking a sip. The chocolates don't appeal now either.
She's only twenty-seven and she hates Christmas.
She's turning into Scrooge.
Her gaze falls on the phone. There. She could call someone. Talk to someone, wish them a merry Christmas, and prove that she's not Scrooge. Simple.
She lifts the receiver, and then hesitates. Who? Her mom didn't leave a phone number. Her dad — well, he never did appreciate being disturbed. Which only leaves Lucy. She doesn't know where Lucy's staying in California — but, wait. She gave Lucy a cellphone for Christmas, after all, for this exact reason. Her sister's never been great at staying in touch.
But, instead of Lucy's cellphone number, her fingers tap out a different sequence.
"Information. Can I help you?"
What? Did she do that?
She looks at the phone as if it's some kind of alien object that's just materialised in her hand. Put it down. Hang up. All she has to do is hang up and it'll be fine.
Instead, a voice — her voice? it can't be — says, "I'd like a number in Smallville, Kansas, please. Jonathan and Martha Kent."
"One moment, please," the impersonal voice on the other end says.
What is she *doing*? It's not as if she *wants* to speak to him, after all. What's she calling Smallville for?
"I have the number here, ma'am. Would you like me to put you through?"
No. Absolutely not. No way on Earth. "Yes, please."
The phone's ringing. What has she *done*? Hang up. Just hang up now, please.
"Kent farm, Martha Kent speaking. Hello!"
"Oh! Martha. Hi. It's… um, it's…"
"Lois! Merry Christmas!" Martha Kent exclaims warmly. "Jonathan! It's Lois! Isn't that wonderful?"
In the background, a deep male voice — not Clark's — rumbles. She can't distinguish the words.
"How are you, Lois?" Martha asks. Not waiting for an answer, she continues, "I told Clark he should have brought you with him. You're always welcome here, you know that, don't you?"
"Um, yes. Thank you," she manages. What is she *doing*? Why isn't she getting off the phone before she makes an even bigger idiot of herself?
Christmas at the Kent farm. She can visualise it now: snow on the ground outside, logs crackling on the fire, a huge tree in the corner of the living-room, mistletoe hanging over the fireplace and the scent of fresh pine everywhere. No need for scented candles in the farmhouse.
And delicious smells coming from the kitchen — pies, cookies and all the traditional Christmas meats and vegetables, cooked to perfection by Martha. If there's such a thing as a perfect family Christmas, that's where it'd be.
Does Clark Kent have the faintest idea how lucky he is?
"But you didn't call to talk to me, Lois!" Martha exclaims. "Here's Clark now!"
Clark. No. She didn't call to talk to him. Really, she didn't. "Hi, Clark."
"Lois!" The warmth in his voice sends tendrils of heat through her. "This is a surprise." A nice surprise, by the sound of it. She sinks back onto the sofa. He's pleased to hear from her. That's more than she deserves.
He walked her home late last night, after all that stuff with Barbara Trevino was all sorted out. Well, she made him, but she suspects he'd have done it anyway. Arm in arm, they walked all the way back to her apartment, snow crunching beneath their feet and Christmas lights shining all around them. It was one of the most romantic experiences of her life.
And that's why, at the bottom of her steps, she dropped his arm and said a very abrupt, "Goodnight, Clark."
The hurt was visible on his face, but she just turned away.
Because, yes, it was romantic, and after everything he'd done for her — watching over her, saving her life at least twice, protecting her, making sure she was safe — at the very least he could've been forgiven for expecting a kiss. Just to say thank you, and merry Christmas, no more — but even that was too much for her, wasn't it?
Lois Lane, the Scrooge of the Daily Planet, who couldn't even give her partner and best friend a kiss to say Merry Christmas. Who couldn't even wish him a Merry Christmas. She'd just run up the steps and into her building, leaving Clark standing out on the street.
"Lois? Are you there?"
"Oh! Clark! Yes, I'm here."
"Oh, good." She can hear the smile in his voice. "After you went to all this trouble to call, I wouldn't wanna lose you this fast."
There's a question there, isn't there? That's okay. She can handle this. Shrugging, she says, "I just remembered I never actually said it."
"Oh! Yeah. Merry Christmas. That's what I meant. I never actually said it. I mean, we were there outside my building, and I said goodbye, but I never said that. You did. Right? You did, didn't you?"
"I did." There's laughter in his voice now. That's so not fair. He's laughing at her?
"Yeah, well," she says. "Merry Christmas. That's what I called to say."
"Merry Christmas, Lois." His tone's soft, and there's obvious affection there. For her? But she really doesn't deserve that -
"Clark, am I a Scrooge?"
Oh, god, she didn't just say that, did she?
Too much wine. She's had far too much. That's the only thing that can explain this.
"Lois? Are you a what? Lois, are you all right?"
Oh, god. "I'm fine. Fine. Absolutely fine. And I said nothing. Okay? Anyway, that's all I called for. To say Merry Christmas."
"Yeah, and you said it. Thanks." He's laughing again. So not fair. "Lois, did you just ask me if you're a Scrooge?"
*Oh, just kill me now*. "No! No, of course I didn't. I said… I said, am I smooth. Smooth! Smooth."
"No, you didn't, Lois." Oh. He's definitely laughing now. "Lois, why would I think you're a Scrooge?"
She sighs, combing her hair away from her face with one hand. "Oh, I don't know, Clark. It's just… Oh, why is it that everyone else seems to love Christmas, and I hate it!"
There's a moment of silence on the other end of the phone. Then, slowly, Clark says, "You hate Christmas?"
"Yes… no… Yes! Yes! I hate the commercialism and the marketing and the way everyone goes on about Christmas being for families!"
He's quiet again. She's gone too far, right? Too much information. He doesn't want a snivelling wreck of a partner on the phone. He's with his family, after all. He's enjoying himself. Why would he want to hear about all her woes?
"Lois." His voice is very soft, and there's such a note of tenderness there… she had no idea Clark could sound like that. "Where's your family?"
"Oh…" She shrugs, then realises he can't see her. "Mom's in Florida. Lucy's in California. Dad's… somewhere."
"So it's just you?"
"No, Superman's hiding under the sofa-cushions," she retorts.
"Lois." He's firmer this time. "Lois, listen to me. I'm gonna hang up now. But I'll *be right back*. You hear? I'll talk to you again in just a minute. Don't go anywhere."
There's a click on the line before she can answer, and then silence. Complete silence.
He's hung up. And now she's even more alone than before.
The knock on the door's completely unexpected. For a second or two, she stares at the phone, wondering how it can be making a rat-tat noise instead of ringing.
Then, feeling stupid, she turns and heads to the door.
What she sees through the peephole makes her blink and then scrub her eye before looking again. Then she flings the door open.
"How can you be here? You're in Smallville!"
"Nope. Right here, Lois."
He's grinning at her, and looking completely gorgeous in blue jeans, a soft blue cotton shirt and — oh, god, it should look ridiculous on him, but it doesn't — a Santa hat.
"How aren't you freezing?" she demands. "It's snowing outside! It's below freezing!"
He shrugs. "Good metabolism." For a moment, they just stare at each other. Then he says, "Going to invite me in?"
"Um." She steps back. "Right. Yeah. You should come in, yeah."
As he closes the door behind him, she rubs her eyes again. "Okay. I'm dreaming, aren't I? Because you're in Smallville. I know you are. I just spoke to you there." She looks at the phone. "If I pick this up -" She picks up the receiver. "- and dial your parents' farm, are you gonna answer?"
He grins. "Lois, I'm fast, but I'm not *that* fast."
She stares dumbly, suddenly feeling like all of America's school dunces rolled into one. None of this is making sense. None of it. How can he be here?
"Fast?" she echoes, because it's the only thought she can actually manage to put into words right now.
"Yep." He grins, winking. "Faster than a speeding bullet, that's me."
No, wait, that's not him, is it? Someone else… No, this still isn't making any sense. She really did have too much wine, didn't she?
"What? How…? No, this is ridiculous. Clark Kent, you just tell me right now what's going on!"
"In a minute." He's sobered now, and he's looking at her with an expression… oh, wow. If he keeps looking at her like that, she's going to be a little puddle on the carpet. "Lois, I came because no-one should be alone at Christmas. No, forget that," he adds quickly. "You shouldn't be alone at Christmas."
"Yeah." She barely whispers the word, looking down at the carpet. At the exact spot where she'd be if he really did make her melt into that puddle.
"You're not going to be." There's steel in his voice, but also the same affection she heard over the phone. "You've got a choice." He steps forward, and suddenly his hand's in the hollow of her back. "Lois, look at me."
She looks up. His face is so close and, behind his glasses, his brown eyes seem to see right through her. His gorgeous brown eyes. His brown eyes that are turning her into that puddle right this second…
Her lips have brushed his cheek before she realises what she's doing. With a yelp, she jerks back.
"Lois." Oh, damnit, he's laughing at her again. "Lois, how much have you had to drink?"
"Not enough," she mutters. He laughs. Again. It's so not fair.
"Lois." This time, his voice is completely different. He's not laughing. It sounds… well, sort of husky, like he's got something trapped in his throat.
In answer, his lips touch hers.
The kiss is soft, gentle but not at all chaste. His lips part over hers, and she can feel their moistness. She kisses back, parting her own lips, wanting to taste him. Taste him again — that first time, in Trask's plane, was so far from enough, and the second time, in the honeymoon suite, left her breathless.
His tongue touches hers, and she moans.
Where's his mouth gone? She strains towards him, trying to get him back, but he's holding her shoulders. "Lois. Listen to me."
"What? Clark, c'mere…"
"Later." And, damnit, there's no arguing with that tone. Funny; it's not really a Clark tone, that one. It sounds kind of familiar, though, all the same. "Later. First, I said you have a choice."
"I do?" Between kissing Clark and kissing Clark, she hopes. Maybe between kissing him out here and kissing him in her bedroom.
"Yeah. Told you, you're not spending Christmas alone. The question is, do you want me to spend it here with you, or would you like to come back to Smallville with me and spend it with my parents?"
She blinks, all visions of kissing Clark gone. Temporarily, anyway. She hopes. "Smallville? But it's Christmas Eve, Clark. All the flights will be full, if there even are any."
He grins, and there's something secretive about it. Kind of like a secret he's bursting to tell her. "We don't need a plane."
"Nope." His smile's impossibly wide now. "Lois, what's your choice?"
She's looking at him again, the way he's smiling at her, those gorgeous eyes, and remembering that he's come all this way to be with her just because she was alone. He cares. Unlike her family, he cares about her.
"I choose you," she tells him. "You're what I want under my Christmas tree."
He shakes his head, and she can tell he's almost shaking with laughter. So not fair. "Lois, how much have you had to drink?"
She shrugs. "Not much."
"Too much." He sighs. "I wonder how much of this you'll even remember tomorrow."
"Don't care. As long as I don't wake up and find this is all a dream."
"No dream," he promises. Leaning in again, he brushes his lips against hers again. "You're wide awake. Even if you are drunk as a skunk."
"Are skunks drunk?" she questions, even as she's seeking out his lips yet again.
He laughs once more. "The ones that look like you, sure." He pulls off the Santa hat, pulling it over her head. "Lois, concentrate. Here or Smallville?"
He really wants her to answer? That involves making a decision. That's so not fair. "Um… Smallville," she manages at last, probably because it's the only way she's going to find out just how it is they don't need a plane.
"Good. That's what I hoped you'd say." He bends and kisses her once more, then, in a flourish, he removes his glasses.
His face swims before her. Her jaw drops. Two faces meet her gaze. They blur and shimmer and resolve into one. And, oddly, it feels as if she knew all along. Now, anyway. Tomorrow, when she's sober, she might feel differently.
But now… well, the answer's simple.
Clark's Superman, and that's so not fair, but he's *her* Clark, *her* Superman, and he's going to take her home for Christmas. *That's* fair. Oh, so much better than fair.
"Clark," she whispers as, now that he's dressed in the Spandex and he's scooped her into his arms.
"Am I a Scrooge?"
He chuckles, and the rumble of his laughter sends shivers through her body. "Only if I'm your Spirit of Christmas — past, present and future."
"Works for me."